Thursday, July 31, 2008

I've designed.... a sock?!

Yes, my first foray into designing and it's a sock... you can stop laughing now. ;-)

I am no sock knitter, although I love sock yarn and handknit socks. It's just that, well, I get one finished and I'm so excited and proud and then... I realize I have to do it again. Exactly the same.


So I don't usually knit socks. But I ran across Flippant by Sivia Harding while wandering aimlessly through the patterns on Ravelry and it's just the greatest idea ever. So I sat down with it and thought a bit. I knew I loved the idea, but the execution was not my thing. The pattern would bug the top of my foot and I'm pretty sure that a band protecting the bit between my toes was not going to be enough (hey, I'm a delicate flower, alright?). So I started from scratch and last night I ended up with this.

I got the yarn (a partial skein of TOFUtsie) from Grumperina (thanks Kathy!), figured out my gauge and did a tubular cast on for 62 stitches, 1/2 " of 1x1 rib then switched to 2.5" of 3x1 rib. Put 17 stitches or so onto a holder to be worked later for the big toe cuff. Knit in pattern until you get to where you put the stitches on the holder. Using a provisional cast on, cast on 5 stitches, then carry on in pattern once around. Now's the part I need to write up better but, in essence, I built a ramp so that there would be more material on the side of the second toe without making the sock longer overall so it would cover up my little toe. To do this I knit in pattern to 6 stitches past my last cast on stitch, or to the third knit stitch after a purl. Wrap and turn. Knit back in pattern to approximately the same place on the other side of your cast on stitches. Wrap and turn. Go back to one stitch before your wrapped stitch. Wrap and turn. Do this back and forth, working one less stitch each time, until you have three wrapped stitches on each side (more if you want a higher "ramp"). Knit one row in pattern, picking up and knitting the wrapped stitches as you go (there's a better explanation of this in the Lizard Ridge pattern on Knitty). Switch to 1x1 rib for 2-3 rounds. Use the kitchener bind off.

Now for the toe cuff. Pick up your stitches off the holder. Carefully pull out the provisional crochet chain and put those live stitches on a needle. Knit one round in 3x1 rib pattern, picking up stitches as necessary to close the gap between the picked up stitches and the cast on ones, and to maintain the pattern. I was not fussy here when I knit it - it's a sock for heaven's sake, half of it will never be seen. ;-) Carry on until you have enough cuff - I did about 1/2". Switch to 1x1 rib for the same number of rows you used for the "ramp". Kitchener bind off.

Using the provisional cast on for those stitches between the toes means no seam to irritate, so I went with that. The tubular cast on and kitchener bind off are just the nicest looking finishing techniques I've seen, so I used those to make it prettier, but you certainly can use any cast on and bind off you prefer, so long as it's stretchy.

So there! A pattern from me to you! TAH-DA!!!

*insert applause here*

In other knitting I have made good progress on the front panel of The Mister's sweater. He's completely thrilled with the colors... which is a good thing since he picked the colorway out himself. What a guy! This is going to be the Entrelac Sweater (WS 105) from Sarah James. So far the only thing I've changed is to use the entrelac instructions from Alison LoCicero's Entrelac Scarf because they're easier to understand, I like the slipped stitch along the edges, and the 8 stitch square just looks better, imho.

Blocked, this panel will be about 16" wide, which should be just fine. This sweater is knit so modularly that just about anything goes. You knit the front and back center panels of entrelac, join them at the shoulder, then pick up stitches all along the edge and just knit in seedstitch until it's wide enough to fit. Easy peasy! And the entrelac is so easy to pick up and put down, it's an ideal "in between" project, so I can keep on with this and maybe finally cast on for Edgar's jacket in time for fall...

... hey, hope spring eternal. Back off...


Monday, July 21, 2008

Brought to you by the letter S

Since I had the whole day Sunday to myself, and a crappy rainy thundery day at that, I decided to make the best of it and get a bunch of knitterly chores done.
  • I Swatched for The Mister's Uber Cool Sweater in Jojoland Rhythm:

I'm getting gauge but I'm not thrilled with how it looks. So, since the sweater is built pretty modularly to begin with, I think I'll use the instructions for Allison LoCicero's Entrelac Scarf instead, then just wing it until I end up with something that's the right size and shape. See how cocky I've become since Spring Vines? ;-)
  • I Swatched for my Katherine Hepburn Cardigan in Debbie Bliss Cathay (once in US 5 which wasn't even close, and now in US 4)

I think I'm happy with this, too. I thought my gauge was off but after washing in cold and *horrors!* drying in the dryer, I find I'm right on target! Huzzah! Im also in the process of ordering some fabulous lime green handmade glass buttons from Thistle Hill Glass. Her stuff is brilliant - check it out!
  • And in between, there was Spinning.
I finally, FINALLY got the next to last bump of Apple Butter spun and plied. Side note: in an emergency, it is possible to McGyver a drive band out of leftover Linen Isle yarn and a cake of bees wax. Also side note: do not, DO NOT, under any circumstance, attempt to transfer your enormous spool of yarn from the wheel onto the swift while watching a movie. I didn't take any photos of the train wreck that ensued because it was just too traumatic, but the swift wasn't adjusted tightly enough, so over the course of the movie it slowly loosened and fell, and I ended up with an enormous pile of yarn barf that took me a good three hours and two knots in my perfect skein (grrrr) to sort out. Not pretty and very bad words were said.

In the end the yarn did come out terrific, but I was dismayed to find that the skein I just plied is quite a bit finer than the previous three skeins. Probably not a shock, since I am a new spinner, but it may throw off my plans for the yarn. I'll have to wash all four hanks and see what happens to them when they've dried. I do have one bump left of this roving as a backup if I need it, so no need to panic (yet). I can't tell you what my plans are, since the intended recipient reads my blog, but if you look at the yarn in my Ravelry stash, you'll see the pattern mentioned in the comments. I think she'll love it.

And because y'all asked for it, a photo of Spring Vines modeled by me. Forgive the conformational flaws - I'm 42 - cut the bitch some slack. ;-)

That is one damn fine top. Yessir, one damn fine top.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Free at last, free at last!

It took me all day, but it's done. Not washed or blocked, due to incompatible weather, but it's seamed, neckline done, all ends woven in... I mean this puppy is DONE!

Pattern: Spring Vines by DaoBot
Yarn: 5 skeins (710 yds) of Rowan Cashsoft Baby DK in "imp"
Needles: US5 and US3

If you've read my previous posts on this, or my notes on Ravelry, you'll know that this pattern was... challenging. It's in a pretty raw form, IMHO, but the design is just lovely.
  • Where I deviated: I added a proper hem at the bottom and a kitchener bindoff for the neckline. The waist decreases were cut in half. I also had to sort of wing the whole neckline and raglan decreasing to maintain the pattern the way I wanted it and also to give me a little more... coverage..., but I think it came out well.
  • What I learned: kitchener bindoff, hem (I'd done that on Rogue but got a chance to do it again here with more confidence), and that you can't always trust the pattern. :-(
I'm madly in love with this top. It's sexy and beautiful and very flattering. I adore it. And with this super soft yarn it is just incredible. I love the color, I love the fit, I love the cabling, I mean I just LOVE this little top!

I apologize for the less than perfect fit on My Girl, but she's a 1902 dress form, so she's completely the wrong shape and size for a modern female. But I love her and she looks smashing wearing my collection of Japanese kimonos so she'll just have to do until The Mister gets home and I can get a picture of it on the intended, properly shaped, wearer. ;-)

Now... what's next?

Friday, July 18, 2008

mission (mostly) accomplished

This morning I grafted the front and back of the Spring Vines top together. I worked and reworked the straps a couple of times until I finally just gave up and winged it until I felt like it was done. Carefully did the three-needle bind off to get the straps attached to the sides of the back neck and put the live leftover stitches onto a very long cable for safety. Stood in front of the big mirror, held my breath, closed my eyes, and slipped it over my head. Grabbed the side seams and held them together and sloooowly opened my eyes...

... looks fucking brilliant.

Tonight, we seam.
Tomorrow, we pickup and finish the edging on the neck.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Just call me Grammie!!!

My step daughter Kimmie had her baby this morning at about 11:30, so we are now officially Grandparents! Wheeeee!!! A boy, 9 lbs 4 oz, 21" long (for those who like statistics).

Welcome Trevor! Hope you enjoy your blanket! There's alot more where that came from!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

New yarns, FOs, a WIP, and...I got RAK'd!

I just realized that it's been almost a month since I checked in, so I wanted to be sure you knew how busy I've been!

New Yarn

Yes, I keep saying I need to stop buying yarn. But I know that you know that I'm lying, yes? So here's what's come in this month...

First is this very cool felted yarn by Classic Elite called Waterspun. It's discontinued, sadly, but I scored enough on Ravelry to make The Mister a cabled sweater all in one go. He's asked me more than once if it was possible to felt yarn, rather than felting the finished object, and I never had a good answer for him. So when I saw this, I knew he had to have it for his private stash. ;-)

Next is the long-awaited delivery of two bags of Jojoland Rhythm hand-chosen by The Mister for his also hand-chosen entrelac sweater pattern by Sarah James. I never in the world would have chosen this colorway for him! Who knew?

Then there's the latest sale at LittleKnits. Fulay is certainly the devil, because she had a sale on Crystal Palace Yarns "Creme" with is a 60% wool 40% silk. It's a very pale celery green. One bag should be just perfect for Sea Breeze by Martin Storey (Ravelry link).

And finally, today's score at the Portsmouth Farmer's Market, 8 oz of hand-dyed merino beauty by Ingrid of Ward Brook Farm. The wool fumes pulled me into the tent, and the sight of this amazing colors sealed the deal. My plan is to continue to gather up these amazing hand-dyes a skein at a time over the summer and knit The Mister a striped raglan in all his favorite colors! I'm praying for a bright turquoise blue skein next week... Mmmmm!

Still incoming is a Rav swap of 7 skeins of Elann Espirit in Aegean Sea, and a Rav purchase of 12 skeins of Patons SWS in Natural Garden. At this rate, I'm going to have to retire to get all these projects knit!


I finished another Baby Surprise Jacket, this one for Amanda's impending baby Evie. It's just over one skein of Araucania Nature Wool Multi. And yes, it still needs seaming and buttons. ;-)

The most exciting FO, however, is the blanket for our still-impending grandbaby Trevor. It was finally completed and gifted to the impatient parents two weeks ago over a nice birthday diner for the Mom-to-be. She was very excited, especially when I told her it was machine washable! It's took 10 skeins of Plymouth Linen Isle, which is a very nice linen/cotton/rayon blend that softens up considerably with every wash. The pattern was a bit boring to knit, but the end result is so darn pretty it makes it all worthwhile. It's just lovely and I was very proud to gift it to such a special couple. Now if she'd just hurry up and get that baby out of her poor tired belly and into this nice soft blanket! She's due next week, so any minute now!


I'm obsessed with conquering the Spring Vines pattern. It's been trouble right from the get go with errors in the pattern, typos throughout, and a very non-standard cable chart and key. My advice to any designer: I'm begging you - hire a technical editor!

But with very generous help from the designer, Dao, through Ravelry, I completed the back and successfully adjusted the shaping to reduce the negative ease and draw less attention to my... sigh... back bacon. I also added a hem since the rolled edging in the pattern just didn't look finished to me. The pattern deserved better. Now I'm about 1/4 of the way into the front, after deciphering the center cable by looking over the FOs of the test knitters on Ravelry. I'm about 20 uninterrupted minutes away from the main cable pattern and I'm dreading having to decipher and rewrite something that complicated. I have a call out to Dao for help, but with the holiday weekend I'm really not expecting an answer. I'll soldier on without her if need be.

The darn thing is terribly pretty though. It's going to be a real stunner. No doubt.

And last but SO not least - I GOT RAK'd!

Zaz from France sent me this adorable set of tins because she knows I love containers of all sorts, and she handmade these beautiful red stitch markers, and the holder, just for me! Thank you so much! That was so nice of you! I just love them all.

The little sheep is an unrelated RAK by The Mister - we were walking around Ogunquit, Maine with friends when he saw a family of these little sheep in the window and he knew I had to have one, so he snuck in and bought it. Isn't it cute? :-)

Finally, a little eye candy. Well, in my opinion, anyways. ;-) It's my son, Edgar, playing for me, his grandmother and his great grandmother two weeks ago when we all converged at my parent's place in NH, near where he's working for the summer. He really is a very good musician, and he writes and sings his own work. Very nice.