Saturday, April 26, 2008

Felt So Good

The felted clogs are finished. I realized earlier in the week that I was really moving along on the second clog, so I made it a goal to finish this week. See, if I got it done by Saturday morning, I could felt my clogs in the top-loader at my LYS whilst meeting with my knitting group. My plan worked flawlessly.

The reason I wanted to felt these at the shop (perhaps previously mentioned) was that they have a top-loader which is supposed to work better for felting. I'm a little less afraid now, so I might have the nerve to try it at home. The only other thing I'd every felted was a Kitty Pi cat bad, and I wasn't really overly concerned with fit that go-round ('Allo, Cliff and 'Allo!)

When I got to knitting this morning, all I had left to do was seaming up the centers of the inner and outer soles...

(Oops -- just remembered that I skipped a step! -- the two soles didn't get loosely sewn together before felting. Crud. Can't tell which one it was now, though, so no harm done, I suppose.)

..and then I was ready for felting.

To the right is a picture of the clogs pre-felting. They are freakishly huge. Click on the picture to see the version over at Flickr with a note showing where my toes are. I never thought that these would shrink down from Shaquille O'Neal-sized, but boy did they.

With the help of Abbe and Stacy, it worked like a charm. We (meaning Stacy) threw in a little lemony dish soap, added some hot water from the tap dumped into the washer to make sure everything was good and hot, put the clogs in a bag, and then we sat back and waited. Actually, I paced around like an expectant father in a 50s sitcom, but in no time things looked done. Then it was just rinse and spin, and voilĂ !

I tried them on afterwards and Melissa took some picture of me modeling in the shop. I noticed that when these were fresh out of the washer, I could still see the stitch definition, but that seems to have faded as they've dried. I still see a little bit on the toes.

I'm quite pleased. What would I do differently? I might still have to wash these one more time. They're still a little big circumference-wise. The pattern called for these to be a size 11, but I wear a size 10. I wouldn't want them to get any shorter, but I would like them a little narrower. I did make the wide size, because I've always considered my feet to be wide. But I think the pattern must refer to freakishly-wide snowshoe feet. Mine are more Flintstone-ish. But I'm very happy.

This could become a Christmas thing. I hope family aren't reading this...

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Cruelest Month

Just a quick report to remind you (and myself) that I'm still a knitter. I just can't seem to get going on anything, and I've got so many demands on my time. Our house has been chosen to be on our chorus' annual spring garden tour (scroll down the page for details) and lately my weekends have been consumed with vain attempts to make our yard worthy. Frackin' weeds. I have no idea how our yard will stack up next to the others -- all I know is that the other houses are somewhere in our general part of town. But it's not a competition, right? If anyone is interested, I can set you up with tickets. I understand that most of the yards are quite nice -- a great way to get ideas for your yard if you're horticulturally inclined.

I have managed to make some progress on the Classic Socks. This is my first pair of socks made with the magic loop method, and I'm finding it pretty easy. I still have wonky stitches sometimes when I switch from one side to the other, but using the magic loop is only slightly different than using two circular needles. I've been using DPNs for a long time, but this might be my new sock thing. We'll see.

I like the twisted stitch pattern on the cuff. If you've ever done that baby cable rib, where you k2t and then knit the first stitch before dropping both off the needle -- well, that's what's going on here. Only you do it a different number of times and in different sequences so that you get the slanting effect. It's pretty easy and visually cool.

I'm sloggin' along on the clogs. I've finished the first one knittingwise. I still have to sew up the seams down the center of the sole. I'm a little stymied on this. The instructions simply require that I "sew the seams," but the way I want to do it leaves a noticeable ridge which would run right down the center of my foot. I realize this is all going to get felted, but felting won't make an extra thick ridge down the sole go away, will it? I started a seam three or four times yesterday. I'm going to ruminate on this for a while. I know some of my readers have tackled this before -- feel free to chime in with your advice and experiences.

This picture kind of cracked me up, because the ridge around the sole of the foot is called a "bumper" in the pattern, a kind of ridge the offsets the instep from the sole. I thought that this picture made the clog look like a bumper car, especially with the chair upright that seems to be coming out of the back of the clog. I don't remember being particularly fond of bumper cars as a kid, but I do remember standing in line to ride them and seeing a sign that read "No Bumping." No kidding. I also remember that this "rule" was rather laxly enforced.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Felted Clogs & Classic Socks

I was in a weird non-knitting limbo for a short time this week. Nothing on the needles...couldn't breathe...everything was getting dark...

But then I cast on for some stuff and revived.

First on the list is the Felted Clogs which everyone and their felted dogs have been knitting. Now it's my turn. I bought the pattern for these at the Yarn Barn over spring break, and the yarn last weekend when Kristina was in town. Abbe tells me that knitting this takes concentration, and boy, she ain't kidding. Every single freakin' row of this thing has a different set of directions. No "do this for 4 inches" or "work in such-and-such for so many rows." Every single stitch is dictated. So easy to loose one's place. I only had to restart once (so far), so things are looking up. This thing is enormous. Consider that the balls of yarn in the picture above are each the size of one of my fists.

I did knit a test swatch, and sort of got gauge, but I wasn't able to test-felt the swatch, because a) I have a front-load washer and b) I can't find my zippered pillow case that I bought for a previous felting project. I'm not willing to risk clogging up the drain of my washer and the subsequent divorce. I figured, what-the-heck, it's felting -- it doesn't have to be that accurate. So the swatch remains unfelted.

I also cast on for another pair of socks, because that seems to be what I do. I'm using a pattern called Classic Socks from The Knitting Man(ual), which I tried once before with some KnitPicks yarn, but wasn't happy with the results. This time I'm using some beautiful green hand-dyed yarn from J. Knits that I got at the Bluebonnet Yarn Shoppe last summer. I'm using the magic loop method, which I've never used with socks before -- although it came in handy working on the sleeves of the last sweater I knit for Jeff. For some reason the green in this picture is very gray and sagey, while in real-life it's made of much richer green hues.

And the yard continues to bloom and grow. Right now the Knockout Roses in front of our house are, well, you know -- and the freaky looking Jerusalem Sages are starting to blossom. I'm madly taking pictures now so that I can look at them and relive the good old days during our scorched-earth August.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Bombs Away

They only took 437 days to complete, but the Bomb Pop Socks are finally done. They do fit quite nicely. They'll be just thing to wear on those cool 4th of July evening we have here in central Texas.

This was one of those projects that just languished forever. I mentioned on a blog post that I should probably get back to these, and a good friend of mine who was present at their dyeing challenged me to get of my keister and finish these. Thanks, Sharon. It wasn't so bad once I knuckled down. Having said that, I and the people I knit with will be happy to see me knitting something else for a while.

I could only think of one logical way to celebrate this milestone. I asked Jeff to pick up a Bomb Pop at the store to help me celebrate the sweet joy of success. They taste about the way I remember. However, I swear they're smaller than the ones I used to get from the ice cream truck that drove down my grandmother's street during those long ago San Antonio summer visits.

Grandma liked to tell the story (which I only vaguely remember) about the time the ice cream truck came by and I was outside with all the neighbor kids. We didn't have an ice cream truck in our neighborhood in Tacoma, and I was quite fascinated. I got in line with everyone for my ice cream. The ice cream man handed me the ice cream (whether it was a Bomb Pop, I don't remember), only to snatch it back when he found out I didn't have any money. No one had explained that this transaction involved payment! I remember running into the house crying and my grandparents thinking it was hilarious. By the time I scrounged some coins and got back outside, the truck was gone.

Such trauma and drama. But now I got my Bomb Pop socks -- plus a few extra frozen confections in the freezer.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Knit Visit

Kristina, the knitter whose St. Brigid pullover was my inspiration for jumping into knitting cables when I was still a wet-behind-the-ears knitter, was in town for a conference this week, and we found time this morning to get together and knit.

I met Kristina in 2005 when Jeff and I were up in Pennsylvania visiting our friends Sharon and Janelle. Along with several others, we all headed down to the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. Mind you, this was a mere three months after I'd begun intertwining yarn with sticks, so the whole thing was pretty overwhelming. We had an awesome time. I remember the weather being just like it is here today. Unfortunately, my college's academic calendar, the festival's schedule and the stars only line up just so every once in a while, and this year is not one of them. Kristina gets to go. I am, of course, jealous. Just imagine the damage I could do at a wool festival these days...

I picked Kristina up from her hotel and we ran by my house so I could show her the British Check Sweater in person -- oh, and so she could meet our dog, Silas. He was totally in love -- wish I'd taken a picture. Then we ran by the Knitting Nest and met up with several of my fellow knitters -- friends, knitting, coffee and breakfast tacos. What could be better? I worked on the Bomb Pop Socks (almost done -- I promise). Kristina had just finished the beautiful socks in the picture above while here in town and had already cast on for another pair.

She also helped me pick out some yarn for some felted clogs from the Fiber Trends pattern. As you can see, I didn't exactly choose the brightest colors on the shelf, but I like these. I'm going to use the darker navy color for the sole and the cuff, and the lighter color for the rest. Thanks, Kristina, for steering me away from the gray! Too soon, it was time to head to the airport.

This afternoon, Jeff and I went for a hike in the Barton Creek Greenbelt. The weather was fabulous and the belt was definitely green. Spring has sprung in Austin.