Friday, December 31, 2010

Project recap

Here we are at the end of the year already.  I cannot believe have much time has flown, for better or worse, this year. I have been jumping from project to project so much lately, I am starting to lose track of where I am in this crazy scheme.  I have been trying to find some sort of counter widget I could install on the sidebar to track the number of projects completed/remaining, but so far, no luck.  Until I find a suitable tool, I will have to rely on doing a project recap from time to time.

Now, I started this insane project the week of Oct 22.  This means 10 weeks have elapsed since I started off on this insane project, and if I were completely on schedule, I would have 10 projects completed. 

To recap, here is a list of my completed projects since Oct 22:

1. Boy socks/little boy socks (2 pair completed from same skein)
2. Garter yoke baby cardi
3. Mossy socks
4. Socks for the Boy's dad
5. Abi and Emi socks (2 pair completed from same skein)
6. Fabel cable gloves and socks
7. Rick socks
8. Sunna diamond lace scarf
9. Laurel hat

Add to this one sock yarn give-away so far, and that would bring me to 10.  Not bad, actually :)

Not sure whether to count this as nine or ten down, but a little over 40 to go.  Happy knitting in the new year!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A flurry of Christmas knitting

Merry Christmas, everyone.  The past week for me has been a flurry of finishing last minute projects and getting ready for the holidays on top of a busy work week.

I took a brief break from sock yarn to make a hat for my good friend Tilly.  She had seen a picture of a hat in one of my pattern books and fell in love with it, so I had to make one for her for Christmas.  Like me, Tilly loves all things purple.  When I found some sumptuous yarn in a cashmere, merino, and silk blend in the perfect shade of purple, I knew I had to use it for Tilly's hat.

So here it is, the "Laurel" hat from Jared Flood's "Made in Brooklyn" made from Sublime cashmere/merino/silk, completed in just under 3 days.  The top photo is during blocking, and the bottom photo was taken just before wrapping and is more representative of the true yarn color. 

I bought three skeins to reach the yardage the pattern called for, and only used 1.5 skeins.  I am debating whether or not to make another since it turned out so well and was an easy knit.  It was also a nice break to work with needles larger than a 2!

My next Christmas project was a scarf for my dear friend Nate, who also happens to be Tilly's mother-in-law.  I had been looking for some time for a pattern that would do justice to my new skein of Sunna, which I acquired at Rhinebeck this year, in the beautiful Cape Cod colorway.  Since Nate is partial to the Cape, and appreciates good cashmere on the level that I do, it seemed a perfect fit.  I chose a diamond lace pattern from the Spring St. Denis magazine by Kat Coyle.  I love Kat's patterns, and this one was a fun knit--pattern interesting enough to avoid boredom, but easily memorized so I did not have to cart the chart around with me.  I ran out of yarn short of the 32 repeats suggested by the pattern, but it still blocked out to just over 6 feet.
Here is the detail of the diamond pattern during blocking. The colors are pretty true, but the depth of the colors is not coming through well.  Nate wore it all day Christmas day, so I think she liked it.  Good thing, because I really wanted to keep it for myself.

My final last-minute Christmas knit was a pair of socks for Tilly's 3-year-old son.  Started these Christmas eve and finished them Christmas day.  No photo, since I left them there for him, and the yarn was the leftover Lang Jawoll from the boy's socks I made last month.  Nice and simple 2x2 ribbed socks with a short-row heel.

So my December totals so far are: six projects, but only three skeins of sock yarn from the stash consumed.  I will decide whether or not to count the hat against my project total since it was DK and not sock weight, and a new yarn purchase and not from stash. 
In the meantime, I am trying to decide on my next project.  Contenders are: a second diamond lace scarf for me from one of my skeins of Bugga!, a pair of socks from the skein of STR in an orange/purple colorway (trust me, it is prettier than it sounds!) that I wound last month, or a pair of socks for my niece Taylor from my second skein of Fortissima Mexiko.

Monday, December 13, 2010

December week 3

I can't believe we are already halfway through December!  Where does the time fly?

In the past week, I flew 7000 miles, knit 2 socks and half a glove, and contracted a case of food poisoning.  One sock and the half glove were the completion of my December week 1 project, and I hope to have them in the mail to their new owner shortly.  All in all, very happy with the end result, but had a hard time matching tension between the two socks, which has never been a problem for me before.  I completed sock 2 using about 3 yards more than sock one, with threw the colors off completely for glove #2, and I had to do some patching with leftovers from the first skein. 

For December week 2, I resurrected a project that has been sitting quite a while.  The "Rick" socks from Cookie A.'s "Sock Innovation".  I started these quite a while back in a fun sock yarn from Decadent Fibers that I picked up at last year's NHSW festival.  I only ever got as far as the first 1.5" of ribbing on the cuff, so I am counting it as a whole project :)  Anyway, one sock completed last week, and the second underway now.

I also had the chance to visit Tanya Alpert's knitting shop in San Diego where I finally found Habu's silk stainless steel yarns in person.  I have been wanting to try these out for quite some time, but was a bit nervous to order on-line sight unseen.  After talking with Tanya and seeing her lovely creations, I overspent (of course!) and came back to the cold northeast with lots of Habu and some lovely new projects in mind.

Next on my list will be a scarf for a friend using a combination of cashmere-merino sock yarn and my new habu silk stainless steel.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Perils of Travel Knitting

Thanks to all who responded about the yarn give-away.  My skeins are now happily winging their way to Australia and I hope they find a happy home there.

The honeycomb heel flap

In the meantime, I have completed one sock and one glove from the Fabel, and I am particularly pleased with how they came out.  The colorway is quite beautiful, though my photos don't really do them justice.  I picked this yarn up during a recent trip to Canada, and (gluttony aside) I wish I had bought more.  I ended up doing a honeycomb heel flap and gusset, with the cable carried along the top of the foot and the central braided cable continuing into to toe shaping.  Now one more of each to go, and I can move on to the next project.

Which brings me to my sad event of the week.  First, let me give some background.  I frequently bring my knitting along with me on business trips.  I used to bring my whole knitting bag, but it has become too big and bulky, and every once in a while you find yourself in the situation of having to explain to a customs officer why you need that many needles in your carry-on.  The Canadians seem to be particularly concerned with this.  The Germans and the English tend to let it go.  Just saying...

Now I had never had a problem until the day that I call the Sad Case of the Purple Airplane Sock.  You see, I had knit the most beautiful purple sock in Malabrigo sock, which I think may be the most beautiful yarn ever invented, which I found in my favorite eggplant purple, and made up in the perfect pattern.  Angee, from Cookie A.'s book "Sock Innovation," to be exact. And I dare say, it is the most beautiful sock I have ever knit.  It was perfect in every way.  The stitch pattern perfectly showed off the subtle variegation in the yarn, the yarn had a nice drape and shine that just hugged the foot and leg beautifully, and it was oh so soft.  Seriously. Perfect. 

I completed it on a long flight from Frankfurt to Boston during a snowstorm that shut down parts of the east coast, and even made two new friends during the flight as we discussed knitting.  About a month later, I was finishing up its mate during a flight from San Francisco to Denver.  This time, I had decided to carry only the sock, the yarn, and one pair of needles and I was just finishing up grafting the toe together as we taxied in to the gate.  I had a pretty tight connection, so I quickly grabbed the blob of yarn and sock from the seat back pocket, shoved it into my handbag, and ran for my next flight.

Halfway during my next flight, I had a sudden realization.  Was the blob of yarn and sock that I picked up from the seat back pocket heavy enough?  I grabbed my purse and sorted through it twice, and sure enough, the perfect purple sock was not there.  The new sock--its mate--was there along with the leftover yarn and needle, but my purple sock had been left behind in the upper seat back pocket of seat 6E of the previous flight.

I filed a claim with the airline, thinking that a purple handknit sock might be something distinctive that they don't find every day, making it relatively easy to locate.  Of course, when I reported it, the airline worker looked at my blankly and asked if I really needed it back.  I sat there in stunned disbelief when she said "if you made that one, can't you just make a new one?"  I think non-knitters just don't get it.  Seriously.

Detail of the second purple sock.  Not quite as perfect as the first one, but still very nice.

Well, this week it happened again.  Instead of my entire knitting bag, I now carry the current project, as spare skein, and a little ziplock bag with my 16" addi turbo US size 6 circulars, which I use to cast on for top-down socks, some darning needles for kitchener grafting of toes and weaving in ends, and some stitch markers.  Sunday night, I cast on the Fabel cable sock and when I left the plane I put everything in my purse.  I checked the seat back pocket 3 times, front and back.  When I packed at my hotel Tuesday night, sure enough, the bag containing the circular needles, darning needles and markers was missing.  I can't imagine how, but they are not in my purse or suitcase, and once again, no one turned them in to airline lost and found. 

I am not sure if it is worth replacing the needle.  I cannot knit comfortably with a short needle, and the needle portion is not long enough for me until the 24" length, but it sure was perfect for casting on socks.  And I have not yet had the heart to re-knit the purple sock, though my replacement skein of eggplant purple Malabrigo has been sitting on my dresser for months now.

So if anyone out there happens to find a purple sock on a United flight or a size 6 circular needle on Jet Blue, please keep me in mind.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

November yarn give-away

Well, I did not finish the cable socks within a day as hoped, so I have decided I need to honor the nature of my goal.  So I dug deep into my closet, into one of my seven yarn baskets, and have chosen 2 50g skeins of Knit Picks Essential superwash wool in navy as the first yarn give-away.

First person to comment or email me with their address gets the yarn free of charge.  Happy first week of December!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

November 30

Well, here we are at the end of November.  I started November project 4 over the weekend, but I actually had to work on my last 2 flights which prohibited knitting.

I had made some gloves for my niece Tia, and last week her dog took a big bite out of one, destroying 2 fingers.  So I am working on a pair of replacement gloves with socks to match.

I am using Fabel by DROPS superwash wool in a green self-striping colorway.  Rather than taking the easy way out and doing a simple straight knit to make the project go faster, I added a paired cable pattern just to keep things interesting.  I was improvising on an airplane Sunday night, and ended up with 2 small cables twisting in opposite directions on either side of a larger braided cable both front and back.  I will carry the cable down the top of the foot, but am undecided as to whether to carry it down the heel as well.  Half of one sock is done so far on this last day of November.  This brings my total to 4 pairs of socks and 3.5 skeins of yarn consumed in November.  So, do I count it or no?

Cable detail
So, once this pair is done (hopefully tomorrow on a plane ride home from North Carolina) that will be 6 projects down, 46 to go.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A week of catching up

I can't believe we are already to Thanksgiving!  I have spent a lot of time on airplanes over the past couple of weeks, and as a result, I had a chance to catch up on my recent projects.

Last week, I finished the second pair of little girl socks, meaning my week four project is officially done. This is my first try at the Japanese short row heel.  I attempted this because I can never manage to do a short row heel without getting at least one hole.  Even when I pick up extra stitches, and pull really tight, and this drives me crazy!  I found I did fare a little better with this method, though there is still a little hole on the last row.  All in all, I really like the wrap-free method, though I found I actually had to count to keep track of which row I was on. 

My mossy socks just before the sprint to finish sock #2

Next, I decided to return to the week three project, my moss-wall inspired socks.  Completed sock one Thursday while waiting to get a new tire after losing one to a blow-out on my way home from the airport.  The faux cable (made over 2 stitches by knitting tbl on second stitch) tended to slow me down quite a bit, so it took a while to get into the rhythm of this pattern.  I started sock 2 on Sat. and finished on Sunday. 
My favorite feature is that little bit of yarn sitting between the 2 socks in the picture.  I completed this pair with approximately 2 feet of yarn left.  I was actually able to use up the entire skein and without pre-planning or knitting toe-up--a true victory!

That meant I needed a new project to take home for my holiday travels.  I realized I had a second skein of Lang Jawoll that matched the one I used to make the Boy's socks, so now the socks for the Boy are socks for the Boy and his Dad. 

This was another basic pair done in a 2x2 rib with a heel flap and gusset, and simple toe shaping.  A nice easy knit to start the week.  Airline delays in Chicago allowed me to complete one Monday night and a second Wed night.

This means if I can knock out one more pair this weekend, I will be caught up for November. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

3 down, sort of...

Another busy week, and another week of less knitting than originally hoped for.  I did manage to squeeze out a pair of kid's socks from my Fotissima.  However, it only consumed a little less than half the skein and I had intended to do a second pair for my other niece.  So this is my first judgement call--does the project count, or the skein?

I have a long airplane ride coming up this week, so here's hoping I can knock out another pair, then I will only be behind by one project.  I sense I will be giving away a skein the end of this month.

In the meantime, I am starting to have quite a bit of forearm pain in my left arm.  I am hoping this is related to my new weight-lifting regime and not tendinitis from too much knitting, or I will never make it to the end of this project!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Second week in November

So last week's post just posted with a Nov. 8 date rather than the Oct 31 date intended.  In that week, I chose the STR rare gems in an unusual green and gold/orange colorway to start a new pair of socks.  The pattern is a modified 2-stitch cable adapted from a mitt pattern in the new One Skein Wonders Sock Yarn book.  However, a week later, I still only have the cuff of the first sock done.  So for the first time since I started this project, I am falling behind. 

It has been a pretty rough work week, and I am afraid work stress sent me running for the covers and left me not much in the mood for knitting.  Also, I am having some hand/forearm pain.  I seem to go straight to tendonitis lately any time I do any repetitive activity whether it be knitting, painting, or writing.  I have always been prone to inflammation, but it seems especially bad these past couple of years.

I actually started a new project last night even though the previous was not finished.  The new project will be sock for my two adorable nieces.  Just basic socks with a picot edged cuff made from a lovely pink self-striping yarn in the colorway Mexiko from Fortissima.  I need to make three-year-old and six-year-old socks, so hopefully this will get me back on track until I can catch up on last week's pair.  Otherwise, I might have to make good on my threat to give away a skein of sock yarn this month.


Last week's project is done ABB--that is all but buttons.  I have blocked (although I just did a wet block and did not pin it out fully) and woven in the ends, so as soon as I find some acceptable buttons, it is ready to go.

I am learning my camera just does not take good pictures indoors.  No matter how many lamps I drag in, everything looks like it is in shadows from anywhere in my house. 

Now, on to the important things--like choosing the next project...

My three yarn choices are these...

Socks that rock Rare Gems (top right) and raven (bottom right), and Spirit Trails Fibers cashmere and silk sock yarn in the Cape Cod colorway (left)

Any thoughts?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

2 down, 50 to go

Finished with all but weaving in ends and blocking.  I like this sweater, but have enough yarn left over that I could have made it larger.  It seems like most of the sock yarn baby patterns I find are for newborn sizes, and I need some good 12-18month patterns.  Anyone have any?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The nature of procrastination

Do you ever think about why we put things off?  I have been ready to start my new project for 2 days now, but I keep sitting and looking at the yarn and not knitting.  Why?  Because I need to wind the skein.  And that involves getting out my ball winder and swift.  And attaching them to my counter.  Which of course means cleaning off my counter.  All in all, this is only about 20 minutes of work, but inertia takes over and there I sit.  Does anyone else have this problem?

So, with my very tight schedule in mind, I made myself get up and do it, and finally, a wound skein and ready to go! 

While I had everything out, I decided to do another one in anticipation of next week's project.  The colors do not come out well in the photo no matter how I adjust the lighting, but it is a handpainted skein from Creatively Dyed Yarns that I acquired last weekend at NYS&W because the beautiful greens reminded me of the moss-covered stone walls in England.
I think it will become some gloves for my friend who took me hiking in England.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Week 2 project

Just finished grafting the toe of the second sock and weaving in all the ends.  One down, 51 to go!

The boy's old socks with his new ones.  Maybe I went too big!

Now on to the week 2 project.

The yarn: Tess Designer Yarns, Super Sock and Baby, aqua and gray mix
The pattern:  Garter Yoke Baby Cardi

This yarn has been sitting around since May 2010 and the MD S&W festival.  Hoping one skein is enough!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Week 1--Socks for The Boy

I am off on a business trip that will involve many hours of airplane travel. This is actually how I got started knitting socks.  Though I have knitted everything else since I was about 7 years old, I always resisted socks, though I am not sure why.  Then I started traveling frequently and decided to pull out my knitting again after many years of mainly sewing and crochet, and found that socks were the perfect take-along project for a business trip.  All of those snippets of time wasted waiting to board, waiting to take off, waiting to land when you cannot use your computer can be used to add several inches at a time to a sock project.

I realize to meet my rather ambitious goal I will have to do a combination of what I call "utility socks"--basic ribbed or knit socks with no special or difficult stitches--that go very quickly with more elaborate projects.  I decided to start with one of these to make sure I meet my goals in the early weeks.

About 2 years ago, I was visiting my family for the holidays and I brought along some knee socks I was finishing up.  My nephew, then five, kept watching me knit and was pretty entranced.  He asked if I would make him a pair of socks--in orange, no less--which I happily did the next month.  Well, the boy (we have called him that since he was young since he has two older sisters) loved those socks.  So much so, that he wore them day and night for a year.  Last summer when I was visiting, he brought me the socks to show me the holes that had developed.  I offered to patch them, but he very cleverly suggested that he just needed a new pair since the old ones really didn't fit over his heels without trouble any more.

So my first project will be socks for The Boy.  I am using Lang Jawoll Aktion, my fav sock yarn. I have found Lang wears like iron, and the color and yarn hold up to many washings without fading or pilling, and the reinforcement thread really does help with the wear.  In fact, The Boy's first pair wore holes just where the reinforced portion met the non-reinforced portion at the ball of the foot.

Simple top-down ribbed socks in a basic stitch.  One sock completed, the second sock a little past halfway.  Will add pics tomorrow.

How it all got started...

I have a confession to make.  I am a yarn hoarder.  Like many of my fellow crafters out there, I cannot resist the allure of a new skein, and the promise of a new project that comes with it.

Well, I was at Rhinebeck for the NYS&W festivel this past weekend (and what a beautiful weekend to spend in the Hudson River Valley).  Despite the fact that my house is brimming with yarn, most of it sock yarn, I still went telling myself I would only buy Very Special Skeins if I were to encounter them, and only things I could not find in my LYS.  Frankly, I went a little nuts last year, which is the year I "discovered" Socks that Rock from Blue Moon Fibers.  I bought 10 or so skeins, only three of which I have used up thus far. But I digress.

After the STR incident last year, and it's follow up at MD this past spring which also included a bit of an excursion with Tess' Supersock and Baby (I love that stuff!), I really debated going since I had enough yarn to keep me busy for quite some time to come. Instead, I went with the intention of putting myself on a very strict spending diet.  And I was doing well.  I had only bought four skeins (albeit four very expensive skeins of a cashmere, quiviut, and silk blend), when I met with my undoing.  I discovered something very dangerous.  This year's yarn equivalent of crack cocaine.  It's name is the Sanguine Griffin.  And they make the most beautiful sock yarn that is both exquisitely soft and dyed in vivid, beautiful colors.  Oh, and did I mention, contains 20% cashmere?!

A rainbow made from Sanguine Griffin Bugga
 This was my undoing.  Before I knew what was happening, I found myself seduced by the colors, and the softness, and the...cashmere.  And before I knew it, despite all my resolve, I found myself leaving with four skeins of sock yarn and four of lace weight.  Then the worst happened.  I returned the next day, and there were more colors, and I bought even more!  It was like I had no self control.  Then I went to The Fold, and it was all over.  All told, I left NYSW with--and I am horrified to admit this--20 new skeins of sock yarn.  And that does not include the lace weight or my impulse linen purchase.

Now you may not think that is so bad, but when you add that to what I bought last spring at MD S&W, and at Rhinebeck last year, and the little impulse purchases here and there, and my house is being overrun with yarn.  Sock yarn in particular.  I have it all.  Hand paints.  Self-striping.  Superwash for utility.  Cotton and bamboo for baby projects.  Alpaca.  Merino.  I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

Spirit Trails Fiber, Creatively Dyed Yarns, and good ole' STR
 I realize stashing is a problem common to most of us who knit, but as I looked over my spoils from the weekend, I realized this is beyond stashing.  It is beyond hoarding.  I must face the ugly truth here--I am a glutton.  A yarn glutton.  You can see the proof of my gluttony in the photos below.

I decided my case called for extreme measures.  As my pennance, and in an attemt to reduce my stash to reasonable proportions, I am challenging myself to meet a pretty ambitious goal.  So here it is:

Linen and lace, with high alpaca, silk, and cashmere content
 I am challenging myself to knit one pair of socks per week solely from my (recently expanded) stash.  Granted, some of this yarn was purchased with the intent of making baby gifts or other accessories as well, so let's actually say the goal is to consume one 100g skein of sock yarn a week for the next year.

Knowing some weeks will naturally by more busy than others, and that work has a tendency to keep me pretty occupied, I decided I needed to have some sort of reasonable landmark goals.  So the goal will be to complete four sock-yarn projects per month.  This means every quarter, I will need to work in one additional project to meet the goal of 52 skeins consumed by the end of the year.

Now no goal is worth keeping unless there is an incentive to do so, right?  So here it is:  For every month that I cannot use up at least four skeins, I will give away or sell however many skeins I have fallen short of my goal.

So there it is.  Wish me luck!