Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ravelympics 2008

It's official. After much debate I decided to submit an offering to the Ravelympic Committee. I totally avoided the Tour de Fleece but I am sorry to say Olympic Mania got the best of me and I entered the Mitten Medley event. The idea is that you begin your project on August 8th and must post a FO by the 24th. At 2 am I worked out a fair isle, Magic Loop, two at a time swatch of Lopi intended to represent the Olympic rings knitted on a 36 inch circ! Difficult, but not impossible. I will however be ordering a 40 inch needle ASAP but since I am not sure it will be here by the Opening Ceremony I thought it best to give it a try on the short needle before making a public commitment. The resulting ugly little swatchies look like yarn octopuses. It's going to be a real challenge keeping all those colors straight in such a small space. But since this is the Olympics I suppose it's not supposed to be easy. Happily the Winter Games are only 2 years away. If I am not done with these babies by this year's closing ceremony I know they will be done by then!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Animal Magnetism

My Pi Shawl is finished at long last. Blocking it was not going to be easy given its enormous size but I did not anticipate the drama that would ensue the moment it hit the floor. Every pet in the house including our house guest who happens to be a cat was immediately fascinated with the idea of putting its behind on it. Throughout the day I would be required to skillfully remove one animal after another without damaging the delicate lace of the shawl. The cat was particularly challenging and ended up having to be banished from the room. This is my reproduction of the iconic Knit Picks photo that started the project for me. The only thing I see however is just how wide my ass has become.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Hole In My Head

I am overwhelmed with projects this summer. This is not a complaint, just a fact. I can no longer manage to get even a few obligatory rows on everything in order to satisfy my pangs of guilt for starting what I could not finish before the new school year begins. So how do I deal with it all? Go sit in a corner and knit until my fingers bleed? Nope. Start ANOTHER project of course. It is a lovely little hat to cover the giant hole I must have in my head. It is the trinity stitch. I love the trinity stitch. It is a de-stashing project. I really need to de-stash. It's a quick knit and I need something coming off the needles. So where's the problem? It sure feels like I have a problem.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Crazy Crazy Stash

Although I have been a member of Ravelry for a good while, I have never taken advantage of the ability to catalog my stash. I could not even imagine wanting to take the time to photograph and describe the massive amount of yarn goodies I have accumulated over the years. Hidden away in seven cardboard boxes from Ikea that I have stacked in my bedroom closet I have the equivalent of the contents of a rather large yarn store. I did however spend a hot Friday afternoon adding this summer's acquisitions to my stash page. I have made some spectacular scores this year. Malebrigo, Misti Alpaca, and Jameison's just to name a few. If someone on a podcast names it, I have to have it. What on earth I think I am going to do with all this is beyond me. If all the world's sheep would go bald forever I could keep knitting for years and years and years.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

By the Pound

My poor spinning wheel is gathering dust this summer. Not because I don't want to be spinning but because I can't knit up the stuff I am making fast enough. I am still plowing through the April spinning of the hand dyed yarn I am using for the Morning Surf Scarf and at the same time working on a very raggedy looking Old Shale Shawl using what I consider my best lace weight which varies between the thickness of sport weight and sewing thread. It has just dawned on me that most projects take way less yarn than I am spinning so this morning I made the decision (insert drum roll here) to...spin... enough for an ENTIRE sweater. For me. I just bought 2 whole pounds of that blue faced leicester top you see in the corner from what I hope is a very nice someone off ebay. That was a pretty big investment and I took it into very serious consideration for all of 20 seconds before I pushed the BUY NOW button. Of course I have no idea if 2 pounds of the stuff will be enough for what I imagine will be something like a simple neck down raglan. One major drawback: it looks very white and I really wanted to not have to dye anything as my colors always end up looking rather clownish. Once I get those dye bottles out I go into some sort of color frenzy and end up with a work of art, but also something that is not exactly wearable in public. This time I am making a solemn vow to myself to be discreet in my handling of the dyeing operation and to not use any colors on this lovely fiber that the sheep itself might not approve of.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hot Off the Needles

I catch a lot of stuff from my family about having so many projects going at once. I can't resist because the payoff is so wonderful. There is nothing like the rush of having a bunch of things all come off the needles within a few days. My finishing basket is now quite full of little lovelies to be completed and tucked away for colder days. That big red thing under the pile is my first handspun shawl that is too huge to be blocked anywhere in the house. It is now hanging off the dining room table where it will live until it dries. The little purple thing is my beaded Nano cozy that is now ready to accompany me on my daily walks. And for all those socks....well, the Magic Loop is just too good at churning them out. I admit that I am in total ML withdrawal this morning but determined not to begin anymore socks until a real need arises.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Go. Knit.

Yesterday I took advantage of a day trip to Washington D.C. with hubby and put some mileage on my latest sock blank project. I am heading to the toe and things have seemed to have slowed down considerably. Although we live only an hour from the Nation's Capital, we rarely take the time to visit. The 90 degree weather with low humidity is unusually good for this time of year, so off we went on our big city adventure. The day began with a ride on the Metro. For about $8 you can get an all day pass which is a great deal for tourists as a single ticket anywhere to and from is about $7. First stop: Union Station. It is huge and full of great places to sit, knit and eat. Breakfast was a lemon danish and a macaroon at Au Bon Pain. We made a quick hop next door to the Postal Museum (hubby is a mailman) and then back on the Metro to sit a few moments near the fountain at Dupont Circle. Taking out the needles was a bit awkward there as the place was filled with extremely young, suited up interns. I managed a few stitches near the fountain and then it was off to the Mall to stand beneath the Monument and to take a quick dip in the gorgeous new fountains at the World War II Memorial. In spite of being armed with a huge popsicle, the walk to the Lincoln Memorial along the reflecting pool was brutal in the bright sun and we gave up and headed back to the shade at the Mall. Right before rush hour (to be avoided at all costs!) we jumped back on the Metro for the trip home where I kept myself busy on the 30 minute ride to our station by tinking back to fix a mistake. This morning I tried on one of the socks and goodness me....the thing had not grown and inch. I have managed to fly right into the Bermuda Triangle of knitting with this thing. The blank is getting so much smaller but the sock is not getting any bigger. Go figure.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Midnight Madness

It's 12 am and I have just figured out how to make these cool mosaics using a site called Big Huge Labs. It works with Flickr to organize your photos into a block where you can show the progression of a project all at one time. It is perfect for demonstrating the steps of a knitting project like my crazy sock blank creations that are eating up all my free time this summer. This last pair of socks are near completion and I am itching to dye up another pair. I can't believe I just ordered $50.00 worth of stuff from Knit Picks yesterday and forgot to add another sock blank or two in the order. I suppose it is just as well as I still have 9 other projects that need finishing by summer's end. The return to school puts a damper on my desire to be productive in any manner. Sitting on the couch clicking the remote for a few hours then staggering off to bed is my major use of free time once fall descends. Too bad. The prime knitting months are wasted on me. I get my second wind with the frenzied holiday knitting that I have sworn to avoid this year. I do however have a basket of knitted dish cloths ready. Just in case.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Random Acts of Spindling

This time last year I had picked up my 8 year old spindle at about midnight and with the help of You Tube finally figured out how to use it. For months I was happy making the ugliest yarn on the planet. It was lumpy. It was bumpy. I carded as many colors of roving I could get off ebay into tangled little rolags that sat lined up in a bread basket waiting for me to mangle. I managed to knit most of it up into crazy hats and socks and still have many little cones (aka toilet paper rolls) lined up on a shelf to admire. Soon the little spindle gave way to the big wheel. My Ashford is magnificent. She spins like a dream. I hardly do anything but hold my hands out to her and she works the magic while I daydream or get lost in some TV show. But now as my spinning anniversary draws near it is time to get back to basics and really learn how this all works. Unlike the wheel, the spindle only works when I am doing my part. I have to be totally in tune with what is going on or it falls to the floor and I am left with a ragged, twisted piece of wool that is near impossible to rejoin. This red merino is so soft and slippery that it is really testing my ability. It has a million fuzzy joins already but I am sure it will make some lovely socks one day if I can just get in tune with my @#$! spindle.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Summer of the Sock Blank

Things are moving along much faster in this second go round. I am already well on my way to the heel although I have to confess that the leg down Magic Loop cast on is still a huge head banger. I had a false start when I used the long tail method only to realize the colors on the two socks would not match up as there is no easy way to guarantee that you are using the same exact amount to cast on so it was a quick rip, rip and start again. Dyeing this second blank was quite a task as it is in a tubular shape so it was like painting in 3D. I stuck my hand in it and rolled in around to turn the corners and even pulled it apart between my fingers to let the dyes soak in better. I used a combo of Kool Aid and food coloring with LOTS of vinegar. I bought some black food coloring at $4 a bottle and was disappointed that the stuff turned brown after steaming. I am loving the color on the socks though as there is much less white peeking through than on my first pair. I DID remember to soak the thing this time and it made a huge difference in the saturation of the color. It is amazing how the blank and the socks turn out to be so different in both color and pattern. I need to get over to Ravelry and mark my other projects as hibernating as I already have plans for my next blank project. Instead of plain old socks I want to use a lace pattern next time so the brain is working over time thinking of what kind of color pattern will look best. These blanks have a way of taking over your life. Don't say I didn't warn you!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Done. Done. Done!

My two at one time-Magic Loop-knit from a sock blank socks are officially DONE. I couldn't be happier. They fit. The yarn itself is fantastically soft. The colors are not too clownish for wearing and BEST OF ALL they were both done at the SAME TIME. I am a die hard double point knitter who can knock out a pair of socks in no time. I have never had or could even imagine the dreaded "second sock" syndrome, so the two at one time craze never interested me in the least until the sock blank project came along. Since there was no way I was ever going to rewind all that yarn into two balls, I was forced to learn this 2fer technique. I am so glad I did. All said, I still won't discontinue my single sock knitting on double points as it is still much more portable. I tried doing the ML in public but it is way too fiddly for performance knitting. For sock blank knitting, however, there is no other way. I am also thrilled that I have so much of my blank leftover. I can't explain it, but I am very attached this little thing and was relieved to see that there would be enough of it left. Now what to do with it? I can assure you it will not be knitted up. We sock blank artists need to get our heads together and come up with some creative ways of using these things as they are. Pillows perhaps?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Knitting in Public

Knitting in Public Day has been the hot topic of conversation for weeks. Of course, I missed it. No matter. I have been knitting in public for years and years and years. In fact I rarely knit at home because there is just too much else to do there. KIP was my salvation from all the wait time that comes from having 3 active kids who seem to always been doing something in a freezing cold ice rink at 5 am. It was wonderful to sit in the stands with a thermos of hot coffee and a big pile of super warm Lopi on my lap attracting the attention of all the would be knitters in the crowd. In those days knitting was very simple and straight forward. No Magic Loops or complicated lace patterns in my bag of tricks, just lots of sweaters, socks and mittens knit in the round from thick wool for all my little future figure skating and hockey stars. This long holiday weekend I managed to rack up several "KIP" hours without even trying: hospital waiting room, golf course, car dealership, crab feast and many, many front porches and decks while celebrating the glorious fourth. I even managed to get in some spinning at a large family dinner. I did not manage however to get any knitting done during the fireworks display. Too damn dark.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Knitting My Own Sock Blank

As if knitting up the ready made blank I bought was not enough, I am now working on creating my own blank. I bought a skein of Knit Picks Bare and wound it into two balls then knit it together into a tube using the gauge and number of stitches I use when I knit socks for myself. The fabric is very dense due to the double strands so I am a bit worried about the saturation of the dye being an issue. I am really going to have to soak this thing in order to get the color all the way through it so some sort of gradating type color pattern may be my best bet. I also don't need another pair of clown socks so I need to start thinking about how to mute the colors. I like dyeing with food colors because frankly I am terrified of the other types but getting "adult" colors out of Kool Aid needs some real color theory expertise. The last time I tried to get soft muted colors I ended up with various shades of very 70's burnt orange. Now if I could only come up with some avocado green it would be a plan.