Monday, December 28, 2009

New Beginnings

A new year is just days away, and I'm already in the spirit of renewal -- on several fronts.

While trying on one of the sleeves for his new sweater several days ago, Jeff mentioned it was a bit snug. I ignored this, hoping the problem would go away and that his arms would spontaneously shrink in girth while I busied myself with some long postponed yardwork -- raking leaves, weeding, trimming old sage stems, chopping lantana stalks that froze recently. But when I got back to it this morning, the sleeve, and now the body, were both a little snug. More snug than can be chalked up to the past week's holiday food fest. I double-checked gauge -- spot on. The problem lay in my inability to measure correctly. I don't know what I was doing the first time, but re-measuring revealed a couple more inches than originally called for. So I spent the morning ripping back and casting on again -- this time with several more stitches.

I've made a bit more progress on the Patent Stitch Socks. I'm still thinking the cuffs are a bit wider than I might like, although they do stay up in testing. I'll check again when it's finished. If it's too saggy, I'll make the cuff on the second sock on smaller needles and re-do the first one.

has been teasing me about my aversion to swatching. I DID swatch for the sweater (although I didn't wash it), but I just eyeballed for the socks. I get what I deserve!

On another front, Jeff and I are soon to be the proud parents of a couple of rescued dogs. They're scheduled to come live with us sometime next week, and we're both excited and nervous. Part of the yard cleanup was to get ready for the new arrivals. Today, I worked on adjusting some slats in the gate of our cedar fence to make it more escape proof. So much to do and so much to prepare for. I'll be sure to post pictures and details after they arrive.

So, there are many changes afoot! Here's to new beginnings and very happy new year to all of us.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Patently Ridiculous

Since the Oliver socks are on hiatus after realizing I was going to be woefully short of yarn, I decided to tackle a sock project that I'd had in the back of my mind for a while. The navy Cascade Heritage sock I'd ordered through The Knitting Nest came in this week, and now I can start.

The pattern is one I'm making up on the fly. I'm starting a cuff using an Estonian patent stitch pattern that I learned from Merike Saarniit at the Sock Summit last summer. I'm using the aforementioned Cascade Heritage along with some Shibui Sock that I purchased at Knit Purl -- also in Portland. The class was all about using handpainted yarns in creative ways -- working with the colors rather than fighting them or expecting them not to pool. I'm also using a neat braided cast-on that's not difficult, but kind of fiddly.

Unfortunately, I didn't clue into the fact that using this kind of stitch requires casting on fewer stitches than one normally would, hence the lovely 6-inch-wide cankle cover in the first picture. My knitting buddy Janelle and her family have been visiting the last few days, and she, being sharper of mind, remembered from the recent Merike Saarniit class that she took, that this little adjustment would be required. So I ripped out and re-cast on 48 stitches instead of my normal 72. The proportions look much better -- although still maybe a bit big.

I'm pleased with the way this looks. My plan is to do the patent stitch only on the cuff, and then knit the rest of the sock from the heel down in just plain navy yarn. Somewhere before the heel I'm going to need to go up from 48 to 72 stitches. Not sure how I'm going to execute that. Should I do it all at once? Over a few rows? I'll think about it -- in the meantime, I'm having fun with this project.

Hope everyone out there is enjoying their holiday and getting a chance to hit the needles!

Monday, December 14, 2009


My semester wound down to a crashing close, with the final week of classes coinciding with the week of extra rehearsals before yesterday's men's chorus holiday concert. Just a few of the reasons for the recent dearth of blogging. After a big professional meeting this morning, I'm free to enjoy the holiday. Yes!

I've never been one to embark on a task as monumental as holiday knitting. I have done a few specific Christmas gifts, but tackling projects for all those near and dear to me and adhering to the schedule required to crank them out is beyond me. Having said that, I did get inspired by some of my fellow knitters (namely Caro and Stephi), and I've decided to tackle an Elizabeth Zimmerman Seamless Hybrid Sweater for Jeff. He picked out this lovely shade of Cascade 220 Heathers (Mahogany) for the main color.

For a contrasting color to go inside the hem, cuff and maybe collar, Jeff picked the Bluestone that you can see in the second picture here. It's darker and more swirly in real life. Once again I can't seem to get my eye and my camera to agree. This afternoon I've been singing to myself, "Said the knitter to his Canon point-and-shoot, "Why can't you see what I see?"

Staci loaned me her copy of The Knitters Workshop DVDs, and it's been a real delight watching them as I work. I marvel at how Elizabeth Zimmerman can reach into a pile of sweaters or shawls and find just the thing to illustrate a point she's trying to make. Her no-nonsense get-it-done attitude is refreshing. She has her strong opinions, but she also advocates doing what works for you. So practical, that EZ. Oh, and I love hearing Meg Swanson giving her mother suggestions and handing her needles from off camera. A true labor of love with so much useful information. The design of the sweater makes much more sense to me having watched this.

I think my favorite part was when she described a part of the back that will not match up on the seamless hybrid design when finished. Of course, the Germans have a word for it, "Schönheitsfehler," which online sources tell me means "blemish" or "disfigurement," but which Ms. Zimmerman more tactfully translates as "a little mistake of beauty." She adds, "It can cannot be avoided, so it might as well be admired." Now do you see why she's so beloved of knitters?

I'll take a picture of the Schönheitsfehler when I get to it.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

I Want Some More

"Oliver! Oliver! Never before has a boy wanted more!"

Move over, Mr. Twist, and add ME to the list. I think I got shortchanged on some sock yardage.

I had my suspicions from the beginning. The sock yarn, which I had purchased at a both at the Sock Summit this past summer, had 450 yds listed on the ball band -- plenty of yardage for man-sized feet. But when I weighed it, the skein came in at a puny 84g. Definitely on the light side. I divided it into two 42g balls, and hoped for the best. It was pretty thin yarn after all. But this afternoon, after some ripping and re-knitting around a miscalculation I'd made on the Oliver socks yesterday, it was clear that I was going to be quite a bit short. So I've unwound the whole thing and stuffed the yarn into a bag for some future yarn swap or something.

I've already pulled out some bright (for me) blue/purple Shibui sock yarn that I also got in Portland. I purchased it for one of the classes I took, but I didn't end up using very much of it. It's a kind of busy yarn, and will work well for this interestingly constructed sock.

It's been downright chilly in these parts recently. We had all kinds of excitement about possible snow which never really materialized Friday, but Saturday morning we woke up to a beautiful frost.

We had friends over Saturday morning for munching and knitting. Always a good time. Coffee was quaffed, mimosas downed, eggy casserole consumed, trash talked, and puppies pampered. No, we don't have a new dog, yet, but Staci brought along Pona, a rescued Basenji she is fostering. He was a little nervous and restless at first, but after a few cheese snacks and a potty break in the back yard, he settled down nicely. He and Jeff seemed to hit it off right away. Here's Pona curled up next to Jeff, trying to keep his African self warm.

Then yesterday afternoon we took some time to put up the tree and get some of our holiday decorations out. The stockings are now hung by the chimney with care. Note to self -- now that you're a knitter, you should knit some nice Christmas stockings.

Stay warm, everyone.