Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Best And Worst of 2005

What was your most satisfying project?
That's a tough call. I think I enjoyed working through the Fantasic Fair Isle Socks more than any other project, but I was more satisfied with the results of the Entrelac Socks. Then again, I felt good about knitting the two hats for my friend with leukemia. And the llama was a romping good time, too, along with the mouse colony.

What was your most unsatisfying project?
The Toe-Up Socks. In fact, they still aren't done. I only finished the one, and that is littered with holes in the toe and at the back of the heel. The pair was complete at one point, but one of them didn't fit propertly, so I had to frog back to the gusset. Who knows if I will ever finish the darned thing.

Which techniques did you learn this year that you liked?
Knitting with 2 circs, stranded knitting, the afterthought heel, the two-ball cast on.

Which techniques did you learn this year that, given the chance, you would avoid?
Entrelac, toe-up socks with gusset increases, cabling, twisted stitches.

What are you looking forward to next year?
All of these great new yarns we added to the stash:
Yarn stash

Specifically, I'm looking forward to finishing Fiesta Feet and knitting something purple and gold for my friend Michelle's birthday, which is in February. I also hope to have Rosemarkie done in time for Meg's birthday in March.

By the way, you could consider this to be a meme if you're into that sort of thing. So feel free to ask yourself the same thing and post on your knitting blog.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Coolest Christmas Present

So I knew that Meg had this in the works for awhile now, but I had no idea it would be done before Christmas.

It's Alice Starmore's St. Enda sweater, done out of this beautiful yarn we purchased in Galway. Knit just for me.

Meg will fill you in with the details.

Vine Lace Socks

Pattern: Vine Lace Socks from Socks, Socks, Socks!
Needles: 2 24" US 2 Addi Turbos
Yarn: Brown Sheep Wildfoot sock yarn, color Vinca Minor
Special Technique: Lace
Started: November 19, 2005
Completed: December 24, 2005
Recipient: Mom

I had this yarn in the stash for awhile and wasn't sure what to do with it. It finally occurred to me that Mom absolutely loves this color of blue. I wanted to try my hand again at a lace pattern, so I thought this one would do the trick.

This is first sock I've done where the heel flap was knitted on an odd number of stitches. It's a pretty handy trick if you think about it, because it means you can center a pattern with an odd number of stitches in it across the instep.

I knitted these socks most of the way through, went home for Christmas, had Mom try them on to see how much farther I had to knit, then spent up until Christmas Eve working on them. Nothing like a last minute project to keep me on my toes.

Site Improvements

The blog has undergone mild reconstruction. First of all, I removed the verbose blogroll. It was slow and was causing the page to take awhile to load, even over a good connection. So I removed the long thing from the sidebar and made it a link to BlogLines instead. There's an old adage in computer science that says that you can solve anything with a level of indirection. So there you have it!

Second, and more exciting, Meg has agreed to become a joint blogger (not just a guest blogger). So I renamed the site Two Sock Knitters (if someone has a better idea, I'm open to suggestions). We thought that this might make our blog a bit more unique in the blogosphere. We share most everything else, so why shouldn't we share a blog? I've updated the sidebar links to consolidate the 2005 projects under my list, and now Meg gets her own list.

Stay tuned for the Best and Worst of Knitting in 2005!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Maura's monstersocken

I'll admit, I was captivated by the idea of knitting highly fraternal, practically unrelated striped socks from the moment I realized I would have leftovers from most of the socks I knit.
So I made these for a friend of mine who just finished law school and could probably use something frivolous in her life about now. I hope she likes them.
I'll play by The Fool's sock blogging rules while I'm here.

Pattern: k2p2 rib on the cuffs, normal sock foot.
Needles: 2 24" US 1 Addi Turbos
Yarn: Regia, Lana Grossa, some other sock yarns ... eight colors in total
Special Technique: Um, none. Changing colors, if that counts.
Started: December 4, 2005
Completed: December 22, 2005
Recipient: Maura-the-Lawyer

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Simple Sport Socks

Pattern: Entirely made up
Needles: 2 24" US 2 Addi Turbos
Yarn: Lion Brand Magic Stripes, color number Something-or-other
Special Technique: Knitting as fast as humanly possible
Started: December 10, 2005
Completed: December 17, 2005 (early morning... like 4 a.m.)
Recipient: Dad

So it occurred to me that, since my mom is getting a pair of socks for Christmas, my dad might also enjoy a pair of hand-knitted socks. (I mean, who wouldn't?) Unfortunately, this only occurred to me last week, so the knitting demons in my head were telling me to start immediately. As a result, these socks set my personal record for completion time: just under 7 days for 2 socks. Granted, I feel like I cheated a bit, since I used a sport weight wool and size 2 needles. But hey... whatever gets the job done. I knitted absolutely nothing else last week, except a few mice for the colony.

I also had to rip out most of the toe of sock #1 after I completed it, because I ran out of yarn before reaching the toe of sock #2. So I evened up the socks and made the toes from that grey-and-white yarn I used for the argyles.

It turned out pretty well, don't you think?

It's nice to finally be rid of the Lion Brand yarn, as we really weren't sure what we were going to do with it. There's been a lot of stash busting going on this month. Vine Lace was also a project that was applied to yarn I wasn't sure what to make out of, and Meg is working on some Monstersocken (i.e. socks made up from those wee balls of printed yarns that are left over from other projects... kind of like the thrums of the yarn world). Perhaps she will post a picture when she is done.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Moratorium on Rosemarkie is Official

...until after Christmas, of course. Once the day broke when I did not knit a round on it, that was reason enough.

This has given me time to fly through a pair of socks for Dad. I started them Saturday morning and finished the first one last night. I'm about 3 inches into the second one. Knitting on US 2s with sport weight yarn really makes knitting socks a breeze.

I frogged the entrelac washcloth and cancelled the project. Don't worry; it was nothing memorable. No posts, no pictures... just a little entry in my list of unfinished projects. Now it's gone.

The completed projects for 2005 will soon be migrated to its own entry, to make way for 2006's projects. Stay tuned!

'Twas the Week Before Christmas....

With wind, snow and ice,
No creatures were stirring except for two mice.

When mice are astir, they do what mice do,
So when we found them again, we had more than a few.

Pattern: Based on Jo Chandler's catnip mouse
Needles: practically everything from US 2 to US 8
Yarn: Various scraps of Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool, KnitPicks Merino Style, Debbie Bliss Wool DK and Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride worsted
Special Technique: stuffing, mattress stitch
Started: December 8, 2005
Completed: December 13, 2005
Recipient: Cats of various friends and family

This was a joint project between Meg and myself. We only felted the one dark-brown mouse, and the rest of them we knit a bit tighter than the pattern called for.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Fiddlin' Fool reasoned....

... that as I occasionally knit a sock or two, I should get posting privileges.
But this is about mice. And baked apples, but only tangentially. When I was a kid, I read some humorous Nora Ephron book about how to play with your food, and one of the tricks they recommended was to peel a baked apple, and then when your mother was distracted, put the naked baked apple into her hand to watch her jump and scream.
When I was 7, a phrase like "naked baked apple" was enough to make me laugh until I couldn't breathe.
That's what I just thought of when the Fool emerged from the bathroom with a catnip mouse he'd been hand-felting in hot water. He put it in my hand and said, "Well, what do you think?"
What I think is that when someone puts something felted and fuzzy and warm in my hand that's oddly still, it doesn't remind me of a funny cat toy -- it reminds me of a recently deceased mouse.
(But it felted up really nicely; we did it with Knit Picks Merino Style.)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas Knitting Extravaganza

So somehow it occurred to me a few weeks ago that knitting some Christmas presents might be a good idea. The projects have grown from a simple set of lace socks for Mom to 4 or 5 knitted mice and a pair of socks for both parents. My wife is also knitting 4 mice, so we will take a nice picture of the mouse colony when we're done. If there is any time left, I may knit a llama as well. All of this along with my vow to knit a round of the sweater a day has me wondering if I will finish everything. My wife thinks I should put a temporary moratorium on the sweater until after the holidays, but I feel like this would be breaking my vows.

My wife wants to knit one of our dancing friends a fake beard. The construction has us both a bit perplexed. I suppose we could simply knit hooks onto either end and loop it around his ears. Does anyone have any knitting patterns for beards?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Few posts but lots of progress

Well, I've been busy with lots of things, not the least of which has been knitting. Mostly I've been working furiously on the Starmore Vest. I have made an agreement with myself that I will knit at least one round per day, come what may. I spread out the knitting over a few circular needles so that it would be more photogenic. When it was on the one circular, the stitches looked rather bunched, and I was afraid my floats were too tight. Now that I've spread it out, however, I see that this is not the case at all and that it is turning out beautifully.

This checkered band is the steek to which I will eventually take scissors... but eek! Let's not think about that part yet.

The Vine Lace Socks for Mom are coming right along. My strategy is to knit to just short of where I think her toes will be, then finish them while I'm visiting so that I can better gauge how long to make the foot. I've finished the first one and am about to cast on for the second.

The lace turned out pretty well, but this sock is really tight! I think the gusset isn't wide enough. It does stretch well, however, and it's very comfortable once it's on the foot. I'm hoping Mom's ankle bone isn't as high as mine, else this could prove a bit challenging.

In other news, Meg and I got a ball winder. Not only does it wind balls wonderfully, but it doubles as a cat toy. Whenever our tabby hears the sound of the crank, she comes running over to bat at the ball that's getting wound up. Great fun, and who would've thought it would be fun for the whole family?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Good news for traveling knitters

The TSA is planning to relax its policies regarding sharp objects tomorrow. I know that I haven't had any difficulty traveling with metal circulars, but hopefully this action will put to rest any lingering fears that your needles will get taken from you at the security checkpoint.