Monday, June 23, 2008

Sitting and Knitting off a Blank

Knitting off the sock blank makes so much sense that I have no idea why yarn companies don't sell all their yarns this way all the time. Think of it-no more balls rolling around getting tangled up in everything. The cute little blank just lays there in your lap all comfy waiting for me to give a gentle tug to release the next rows worth of stitches. It is also much easier to pack and take along as a travel project as it takes up less room since it is flat. The best part of knitting off a patterned blank could be that it would you a better idea as to what it will look like when you finish knitting it up. Not all balls have samples made up for display and I have been very disappointed in the past when a self patterning yarn looked terrible after I spent a month turning into a pair of ugly socks. I do get some strange looks, however. I am constantly being asked why I am turning that pretty scarf into a pair of socks.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Baby Steps

Transferring my knowledge of the Magic Loop from a few stitches on big needles to lots of stitches on my tiny new Harmony needles was not as easy as I hoped. It was worth all the false starts however, to be able to sit with that gorgeous Knit Picks sock blank on my lap and watch in amazement as two almost identical socks appear. The pattern that is slowly emerging on the socks is not a row for row reproduction of the pattern on the blank so it becomes totally addicting. You can't stop knitting because you just have to see what comes next. The yarn that comes off the blank is curly but instead of being a problem it has actually been a help in keeping everything relatively tangle free. It coils up on its own and stays out of the way. The problem I had on my first attempts with regular yarn was picking up and knitting the wrong strand on the wrong sock. The blank itself is unraveling nicely keeping everything tidy and under control. I have so many great projects in the works right now but this is the only one I want to work on. I am in love.

Friday, June 20, 2008

An Old Dog

I learned a new trick. At 3 o'clock in the morning I finally figured out how to use one long circ to knit two...whatchamacallits at the same time. They are supposed to be two socks but I could not even imagine trying to figure out increasing at the same time that I was tangled up in those needles. With books and pamphlets spread all over my bed I began at about midnight to unravel the mystery of the Magic Loop. After an hour in I had to remove all the directions and use the knitting "force" to try to figure my way out of mess I was in. As with everything else in knitting once you "see" it everything falls into place and it makes perfect sense. It really helped using this thick variegated yarn, leftover from a dog sweater, to see where everything was in relation to where everything was supposed to be. Little Doggie will be getting a pair of booties that match her sweater. Won't she be surprised.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


7950 that is how many stitches I had to rip back in order to fix a pucker problem in the 11th row of my Palette Fair Isle Cardigan. 330 stitches per round, 23 rounds in question. None of this could have been accomplished however, without first packing the whole thing away for a few months. This allowed the whole heated "issue" to cool off for a while. It's too bad more things in life can't be solved that way. It would be lovely to pack away unruly children or overwhelming debt until you were better able to deal with them. I just put the thing back in its box, sealed it shut and walked away from my monumental goof. It was actually a pleasure to take it back out and reknit the body back to it's original size, this time without the ugly pucker that came from neglecting to think about all those important strands that will pull across the back if you don't mind your tension. I knit with both hands each holding a separate strand of color and it is too easy to knit so quickly that things start to bunch up. No more speed knitting for me, not on this project at least. From now on, easy does it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Dyeing to Get Started

My Knit Picks sock blank is now in technicolor. I love it. Of course I started off by making a huge mistake. In my haste, I forgot to soak it which did not let the dye penetrate all the way through the double strands. As a result, I will probably get a lot of colorful specks surrounded by a lot of white when it is unraveled to be knit up into socks. I am trying to explain to myself, how, after reading everything possible about this technique and even watching the video tutorials I could overlook such an important instruction. The brain was on overload, I suppose, as I cleared out the kitchen and gathered up everything I needed. It became apparent that I had goofed when the first colors beaded up and just sat there on the surface in fat little bubbles. Spray bottle to the rescue. I then kneaded that thing like a wad of dough pushing as much color as I could through to the other side. It's not so terrible. I like it in spite of its imperfections which is odd. I will rip back a month's worth of knitting to correct an error but this is somehow very different. This is not someone else's pattern I am trying to master by knitting it as perfectly as they did. This is mine. All mine.

Friday, June 13, 2008


OMG! Kelly Petkun HERSELF commented on my sock blank project on Ravelry. I confess to being a total wannabe. If she mentions ANYTHING on either her blog or podcast I have to run right out and buy it. I just received the entire collection of coffee house mysteries from Amazon that she mentioned on her blog a few weeks ago. I am still happily knitting on the pi shawl that she convinced me I had to own, if only to drape stylishly on the back of my chair like hers. I even knitted a baby kimono at her urging when I have absolutely no prospects of any grandchildren appearing in the near future. I am, however, fighting the urge to make the Moderne baby blanket. You have to draw the line somewhere. The problem I think comes from the fact that I listen to her podcasts over and over on my Nano as I drift off to sleep each night, glasses on my nose, knitting on my chest. Podcasts have replaced the nightstand book that used to send me off to dreamland and hers is by far my favorite. There is no loud rock music to startle me awake, just soothing guitars and a few quiet barks from her little dog that signals the end of each terribly inspirational program. For 30 minutes I am transported to her fiber wonderland that I never want to leave. God help me if she starts selling roving.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Summertime Blues

I am a teacher. I get summers off. For one day it is a good thing. You relax on that blissful first day and think happily about all the free time to come. On the second day the pressure begins to mount. The summer projects that are so easily started in the spring start to call out. I like to work on EVERYTHING for at least a few minutes a day and when I am still working the guilts don't hit very hard if something gets left out for a day or two. In the summer however, I find myself frantic by 3:00 in the afternoon if I have not put in my obligatory knitting and spinning time. I watch the clock anxiously each day timing each "event" so that I can manage chores and projects. On this chair are all the little jobs I have planned out for this summer minus the sock blank that just showed up in the mailbox this afternoon and the fair isle cardigan that is napping until the color I need arrives. I really hate when summer projects turn into fall projects so I better get to work and stop playing around with the computer all morning or I won't make today's deadline. Crap. I always wonder as the new school year begins how I ever managed to fit in a full time job with my full time life.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Mother of Invention

I have been spinning this red roving for about a month now for a shawl I am in the process of knitting. I know the rule about spinning up all your wool before you start your project but I simply do not have the patience for that nonsense. Ignoring the dangers of such behavior, I always cast on as soon as the newly processed yarn is dry enough to knit. In order to hasten that process I discovered the use of my dust covered salad spinner. While purging my kitchen of useless clutter this morning I came upon this relic of the days when-gasp- lettuce did not come already cut up in a bag. I was about to toss it when another use came to mind. Voila, no more dripping red dye to scrub off the bathtub the day after a good thwacking has taken place. It worked great. Yes, I know I could have spun it in my wash machine, but I have a brand new white beauty that will NEVER see the likes of this stuff. The problem is however, that I now still have to store that thing, somewhere.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Prayers for Pauline

My Canadian knitting buddy was diagnosed with breast cancer last week. We have been emailing back and forth for many years sharing all the heartache of losing our mothers. Lung cancer took hers just last year, leukemia took mine five years ago. We knitted to ease our stress at the overwhelming burden of wrapping up a life that is so interwoven with your own that you really are not sure how you will survive without them. We shared our knitting projects before Ravelry was born, the old fashioned way, by giving them away to each other as gifts. She managed to find the time to knit slippers for the patients at a nursing home where she volunteered her time while at the same time providing home care for her beloved "maman". The prayer shawl I cast on for her the night I read her news is humble by our usual knitting standards but I need it done now. Her surgery is in a few weeks and treatment will follow soon after. It is a mile a minute project that has a good soothing rhythm to its pattern. It is all the in the threes. Knit three, purl three, say a prayer, repeat.

Friday, June 6, 2008

There is No Place Like Home

It was an afternoon of unusually severe thunderstorms and on my hour commute home I heard a radio report of a tornado that had just flattened my little town by the bay. The eye witness accounts were horrifying and I was stuck in rush hour traffic unable to reach my son who was at home during the storm. The now two hour trip home was agonizing as I inched my way home in bumper to bumper traffic while I imagined the worst. I was thankful to find my son and my home safe and sound. The yard was a mess but picking up a few branches was nothing to complain about when my neighbors were picking up their chimneys. On my heels was another severe storm system that continued to pound the Washington DC area for most of the night. Work was closed today due to the widespread power outages, so I sat on the deck with the news helicopters hovering overhead all day and cast on those socks my son has been asking me to knit. In spite of all my many works in progress I couldn't put these off any longer because you just never know.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Show Off

I have been running around showing everyone my little purple lace wrap that I finally completed on Sunday after a year of TORTURE. In spite of all the nasty complications that always seem to pop up with lace, nothing feels better than seeing it blocked out on the kitchen table. Lace looks like the dog's breakfast while being knit up so you only really get to see it as you block it. It's like giving birth, you immediately forget all the pain and fall in love. I took it to work on 3 different days just to make sure I had the opportunity to show it to everyone who might be even remotely interested in a knitting project. I think people were starting to run from me yesterday. I am surprised at my utter shamelessness in parading my little beauty around as I am usually very hesitant to wear any of my hand knitted items to work for fear of attracting attention to the fact that I would much rather be knitting than working. I will hide in a quiet corner from time to time to put some mileage on a project that I just couldn't leave home. Another issue with workplace show and tell is that I don't usually enjoy the scrutiny that you get when people start to examine every detail of your creation like it was an item on a rack at a store. Most people just don't the fact that this thing is so much more than a just a garment.