Sunday, January 28, 2007

La Fée Verte

Having recently begun knitting with one of the hanks of yarn I dyed with Janelle at Christmas, I decided to dye the other one this weekend while the weather was nice and I could dry it outside.

I knew I wanted to do green and I knew I didn't want to bother with stripes this time. I also knew I wanted to dye by baking rather than boiling on the stove, as I did before. It turned out pretty well. Janelle had heard from someone that using straight Lemon-Lime Kool-Aid might be a bit, well, bright, and that one could use a purple flavor (yes, I realize that flavors don't have colors) like Grape to cut the neon-ness. I set up four glasses with various amounts of purple added. Purple did cut back the brightness and didn't show as its own color. Then, at the end, I decided I wanted a slightly darker mottling effect, so I added perhaps a bit too much purple to some green. It came out kind of olive. I wish now that I'd left out that last addition.

All in all, though, I'm happy. Another slight issue is that I didn't make sure that the dye got through to the inner strands of the hank. It got through, but it's very light. It definitely took up some dye, but not much.

Whilst casting about the recesses of my brain for something green to name this after, I came up with Absinthe, the popular green French libation of 19th century distilled from wormwood. It was often called "The Green Fairy." I think that fits.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Da Bomb

Last night I cast on for a pair of socks using the Bomb Pop colorway of sock yarn that I accidentally invented back in December. Not accidental in that I just splashed something on some yarn, but accidental in that I didn't come anywhere close to the colors in my head. I was thinking purple and two shades of dark blue. This didn't happen. Instead I got blood red, peacock blue and powder blue. Plus pink in the areas where I didn't get the yarn in the pot in time to soak up all the dye. Plus some white parts that didn't get dyed at all.

I'm using Sensational Knitted Socks for the pattern again, this time using a four-stitch pattern called Baby Cable Rib. It seems appropriate for the color. I'm already thinking that the chances of me wearing socks like this are slim to none, so I may not go through with it. We'll see. I worked on these at the knitter's meetup this morning and people seemed to like them. Someone suggested that I dye over the whole thing with some other color after I'm done to tone things down into the murky color palette that I dwell in. I might try that.

I dyed the red parts in 12" sections, thinking that this would wrap around the sock several times, making nice wide stripes. It turns out that the red stripes make it around once and then maybe a third of a round again. Overall, the stripes are much narrower than I imagined. The overall effect is more dainty than I would like.

When I got home, I decided to split the ball into two even sections so that I wouldn't get carried away and not leave enough of the yarn for the second sock. I got close -- 1.6 ounces on one side and 1.8 on the other. 50g (half of the 100g ball) equals approximately 1.76 ounces. Our little electronic kitchen scale doesn't carry out to two decimal points. Does anyone have any ideas for a good scale for yarn purposes -- something that does both metric and U.S. customary units?

Cedar Point

The cedar socks are complete! I started these a few days before Christmas. The first one took me three weeks to complete (I got sidetracked by the baby blanket) and the second one took me one week. Ah, the vagaries of sock knitting.

I think I did my best job ever in picking up and knitting stitches from the edge of a heel flap. It just clicked for me visually this time. And I'll definitely use Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn again. It was my second time knitting with it, and I love it. Such tiny little smooth stitches. I'm going to love these socks.

I'm really happy with this stitch pattern. It's a 3x3 rib, slipping the center stitch in the knits and the purls on every other row. It makes it all quite snug -- a plus for people like me who have issues with saggy socks. The picture on the right shows the exact same sock pattern with the same slip-stitch ribbing, only on a more shapely leg -- and knit by another knitter. One of the advantages of this ribbing pattern is that it tends to negate pooling. I'm not exactly sure how, but notice the pooling evident in the large tan part at the top of the cuff? It doesn't exist in the leg of the sock. Pretty cool.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Knitting Vacuum

As a self-taught knitter whose mentor lives over 1,000 miles away, I've been bothered off and on that I seem to knit in a self-imposed vacuum. I'm very content, for the most part, to sit still and knit (see blog title), but every once in a while, I get this itch to see what everyone else is doing -- talk stitches, needles and yarn, spin figurative yarns -- you get the idea. It's kind of bothered me for a bit. Every so often I get together with the handful of knitters I know, but it's never more than a few times a year, if that.

I feel that knitting, like our dog Silas, abhors a vacuum.

So, this morning, fighting my natural introvertedness, I went to the South Austin meeting of the Austin Knitting and Crocheting Meetup Group at Cafe Caffeine. I had a blast.

I got to meet other knitters, some experts, some just starting. I got to chat with folks about non-knitting topics. I got to show off my cedar socks that I've been working on, and I got to drink some delicious coffee -- all on a drizzly winter Saturday morning. It was great! I was made to feel quite welcome, and, as a male knitter, no one treated me like a freak of nature (which has happened when I've knitted in public before). I'm definitely planning on going back.

To top it all off, Leslie put in an appearance in a matching Royal Stewart Tartan beret and mini-skirt. He didn't knit, but one can imagine him doing so.

It was the perfect Austin day. Thanks, everyone, for a great time.

Burning Cedar

One down, one to go -- the curse of the sock knitter.

I finally got a chance to finish up one of the cedar socks I started on Christmas Eve. Now that the baby blanket is done, I can devote more time to this. Im still not comfortable with having more than one project going at a time -- I'm trying to reform, but I've never been a very good multi-tasker.

I'm very pleased with how this sock is going. It has a few hiccups -- a laddered section where I should have ripped back rather than trying to salvage the stitch with a crochet hook, a split bit of fiber on a slipped stitch that really stands out, and having to frog back the toe halfway after losing track during the Kitchener stitch on the toe -- but nothing major.

As usual, click on the Cedar Socks link on the right to get more pictures of my progress, including my vastly improved ability to pick up and knit along the edge of a heel flap. Thanks, Sharon & Janelle, for this wonderful birthday present. I've really enjoyed knitting with this. I don't think there is a color that is more "me."

Silas approves. I guess that's what really counts.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

New Knit-Blogging Friend

Check out Ellie's blog. It's about knitting and much more. How fun to meet someone new, and then find out that she knits and blogs. Oh, happy day!

Deceptively Packaged

She sews. She weaves. Where does she find the time to do all this? Be sure and take a look.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

But I hope you'll be nice and cozy wrapped up in this. Of course, when you get here in February, it will probably be 80 degrees again.

Man, I whizzed through this project -- thanks to the days off due to the recent icy weather. I'm not sure if this semester will ever get started.

I did have a few stumbling (ahem) blocks on this project. See my previous post about having problems figuring out how to seam it up. And dropping a stitch in one of the garter stitch border rows and not noticing until I'd already bound off -- there's no fix for that but unbinding. Of course it was way at the end of the row.

Oh, and there are four garter stitch squares -- the only pattern that was reversible -- and I got two of them in backwards. I may have been breaking the laws of knitting, but at least I was following the law of averages. Didn't notice until I was nearly done and I could see the woven in ends poking out on the right side. I fixed that by unweaving the ends after I was done, poking them through the blanket, and reweaving them on the other side.

I hope the little bundle of joy and her mommies are going to be pleased with this.

As usual, more pictures are available at the Flickr site linked on the right. Thanks for all the support! And now, I'm going to get cranking on those cedar socks again...

Monday, January 15, 2007


As you can see, I've been knitting squares -- lots of squares. In theory, they are each 8"x8". That's the theory, anyway. The good news is that all 30 of them are finished! Here they are in the position that they need to be for the finished blanket. Now, the sewing -- and sewing, and sewing, and sewing...

I got started last night and spent several hours in frustration. While it hasn't been too difficult using mattress stitch to seam the vertical selvedge edges together, it took me forever to figure out how I wanted to join the horizontal edges, which involves seaming cast-on edges to bound-off edges. I'd never really done this, except for sweater shoulders, where I had the exact same number of stitches on each side -- and both edges were cast-off edges, to boot. I used fake grafting first, following Debbie Stoller's instructions in Stitch 'N Bitch. But I was also looking at Vicki Square's Knitter's Companion. She recommends not pulling the stitches tight -- in other words, the stitches used for grafting are to appear like an extra row of stitches. This would work great if both edges have the same number of stitches and are the same color. That's definitely not the case here.

I tried and rejected several other horizontal seaming techniques.

  • Backstitch -- still can't do it.
  • Whipstitch -- too sloppy and not invisible
  • Crochet seam -- too fiddly and not invisible.

So I ripped out all my feeble attempts and went to bed. This morning, I got up, fed the dog, ate some oatmeal, downed some coffee and restrategized the horizontal seaming. This time I went back to fake grafting, pulled tight, and was completely satisfied. I just have to check the pattern to see the difference in stitch numbers between the two panels I'm joining and work a couple of stitches at a time somewhere along the line -- usually just one or two. I think it's going to work just fine.

Notice how some of my squares still don't appear to be quite the same size? I've decided that this will enhance the patchwork look of the blanket and add to its character. In other words, they're not bugs, they're design features.

If anyone needs me today, I'll be sewing seams...

Friday, January 05, 2007

Blanket & Sock Update

After a flurry of posting around the change of years, I had to take a breather. I've been visiting with friends, running errands, and watching lots of guilty pleasures on TV. I love knitting to some old 1940s movie on TCM. The dialogue is fast and funny, the plots unbelievably weird, and you can tune it out if you want to.

I've been working on the baby blanket, which is quickly taking on afghan proportions. I went to Hill Country Weavers yesterday to get one more ball of each color, luckily in the same dye lots. They had just done year-end inventory and were having their big beginning of the year sale. Having just gone there with Janelle last week, and having my hands full with projects, I wasn't in the mood for shopping I guess. Shocking, no? The place was swamped. People were dropping big bucks there to get the savings. I got to play with Stella, the store dog, which is always a treat.

The picture above links to the photo at Flickr, where I've added notes about what style of block will go in which position. Because I didn't want to get myself in the picture reflected in the mirror on the opposite wall, I took this picture upside down. I think I got all the blocks in the right position, though. I'll try and flip it around for the next update. As you can see, I'm going to have a lot of sewing to do...

I've also had a bit of a chance to work on the Cedar Sock I started right before Christmas. I took it with me to work on at the New Year's Eve party that the college gang tries to get together for every year. Janelle and I were able to squeeze in a little sock knitting time while we socialized.

The sock is turning out well, although the slip-stitch ribbing really squeezes the calf together. These socks should have no trouble staying up. And if they're too tight, I could always donate them to a hospital for use in deep vein thrombosis prevention. Notice how the cuff of the sock is torquing to the right? I'm not sure if that's from my tight knitting, the way the yarn was plied, or some combination of the two.