Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ooh, Baby Baby

I hear all kind of stories from knitters about babies not arriving until the knitted projects created for their impending arrival have been completed. But the future recipient of this gift couldn't wait.

Jeff got word that she arrived early last week. However, knowing that she is here has really goaded me into knuckling down and finishing. It's gone much faster than I thought it would -- hard to believe I've only been working on this for 9 days. Granted, they've been vacation days -- but still...

I'm using a larger yarn and needles than called for in the pattern, but I bought the same length of yarn. I should have bought a ball more, because it became apparent as I progressed that I might run out of yarn. I decided to stop short of the total number of repeats called for in the pattern. With blocking, I should end up with the dimensions (32"x32") called for, so it's all good. I started knitting on the edging Thursday evening, and I've already made great progress. I don't know that I'll have it finished before heading back to work on Tuesday, but if not, it should be done soon after.

Please pardon the yucky colors for this picture. Blame it on indoor iPhone photography.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Knitting on the Road

I thought I was all prepared, knittingwise, for my trip to the in-laws' in north Texas this week. I stopped by my LYS to get some dpns that I thought I'd need for putting the edging on the baby blanket before I left town. But somewhere in my muddled brain, I think I interpreted the 6 inch length of the needles on the packaging to mean "size 6 needles." After getting up here, I could clearly see that I had bought a bunch of size 5 needles. Oh, well, I can always use them later, right?

Plus, I now had a legitimate excuse to make a 70 mile round trip to a yarn shop. I'm sure you'll all understand. I went to Jennings Street Yarns, near downtown Fort Worth, housed in an old dry goods store, complete with the original (and peeling) stamped tin ceiling.

I zoomed on in some size 6 dpns pretty fast -- 7.5", but size 6! -- and then did some shopping. This shop arranges a lot of its yarn by color, rather than by fiber or weight. As a librarian, I find this confusing organizationally; it's the equivalent of shelving all the yellow books together, which, although it's been done, isn't as useful to someone like me who is more goal-oriented than serendipitous in his shopping habits. The effect here was beautiful, though. Don't think I didn't gasp in amazement and longing at the shelves of green, brown and gray yarn all together with similar shades. It was a cool thing to see. Somehow, I was able to resist temptation and stuck to my dpns.

This shop had more pattern booklets out on display than I think I've seen anywhere else. The staff was friendly and helpful, gave me some ideas, and were not at all weirded out by the unshaven hulk shuffling around their store. I'll be sure to stop in again the next time I'm in Fort Worth.

Oh -- and a quick update on the Men's Argyle Socks -- they're now Women's Argyle Socks. Or rather, a particular woman's argyle socks. I finally had to own up to the fact that these were just too snug for me and not likely to see much wear. While in Houston last weekend, my friend Shelly was admiring these, so I had her try them on. Shelly's mom is a knitter so she knows from handknit socks. They fit like a charm and they're now hers. I'm glad they're going to get used and I'm glad they're being appreciated by such a good friend.

Friday, May 21, 2010

And Now for Something Completely Different


Some time ago, Jeff mentioned that the administrative assistant for his department was about to become a grandmother for the first time. This happened to coincide with the creation of a lovely baby blanket design by my friend Snowden. Having finally put the argyle socks to rest, I can now take advantage of these two events and merge them together in what’s shaping up to be a very satisfying knitting experience.

I don’t have a whole lot of experience knitting lace. I’ve done a pair of socks, and I took a beginning lace knitting class from Franklin Habit when he was in Austin a year or so ago. He’ll be back teaching a class called Lace Edgings: Before, During and After at my LYS next month. I’m seriously thinking of taking it, although I haven’t done much homework between the two. But who can pass up something like that?

In the meantime, I’m enjoying this project. To paraphrase Freddie Mercury – bad mistakes? I’ve made a few. Luckily, they were early on and the worst I’ve had to do is tink back three or four rounds. Now I’m reading the pattern better and it’s easier to see where all the leaves fit into each other. I love the rhythm of this kind of knitting.

I am changing things up a little – I’m using a superwash light worsted (Cascade 220 Superwash in Lime Sherbet) rather than the cotton blend called for in the pattern. And I’m knitting on the smallest needle size recommended on the ball band rather than the size called for. But it’s just going to be a big square right? Thanks to Stacy for pointing out this color to me – I think it’s going to be perfect for the little one – even if it’s a bit bright for me!

Addendum 5/22/10. I can’t believe I didn’t mention what this project is! I’d made a note on the pictures at Flickr, but neglected to say anything here. This is the beautiful Larkin Baby Blanket designed by my good friend and fellow librarian, Snowden Becker. I believe Janna is working on one of these, too. Thanks, Suzy, for pointing out this omission!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Argyles Complete

This morning, I completed the second of the pair of Argyle socks. I’ve been working on this pair for six long weeks, and I pretty much did 3/4 of the work in the past four days. So any of my projects seem to end up that way – at some point I reach a “this is it” moment and all I want to do is just get it over with.

That makes it sound like I wasn’t pleased with this project. Overall, I was. But I found I was dependent on the pattern instructions throughout the whole process – constantly consulting them wore me down. Then there was the bobbin issue. For the cuff, this  involved 9 separate live knitting yarns to keep up with. Also exhausting. The gray background color needed to be carried through the whole sock, so it wasn’t in bobbins. I tried to use rubber bands to manage them, but it seemed like every time I picked this project, I spent the first half hour just untangling everything.

On the other hand, it was kind of mathematically soothing to watch the lines and angles growing and shrinking, moving back and forth across the fabric. Overall, argyle is not that complicated a concept – but you do have to pay attention. There were several times I had to tink back a row or tow after finding a mistake. And I could never quite figure out how to avoid holes at the tops and bottoms of the colored diamonds where typically several new strands of yarn were introduced. I just decided to handle it while weaving in the ends, which I was more or less able to do. These are still a bit snug. I’m going to block them later – but I’ve got months and months to go before I’ll actually want to wear these.

For now, I’m pleased that they’re finished, mostly happy with the result, and ready to tackle some more projects. Some of my knitting friends have been laughing about pregnancy being contagious since there were so many fecund friends and relatives were making announcements about soon-to-arrive bundles of joy. And then Jeff’s mom called with news about his cousin. Time to peruse the patterns…

Monday, May 17, 2010


The past week was very busy with the usual end-of-the-semester madness coupled with intense evening rehearsals for a men's chorus performance on Saturday. But that is all behind me now, and I can concentrate on these argyle socks.

Not much to report -- just wanted to show that I'm getting something done. I'm having trouble concentrating -- my mind keeps wandering to potential new projects -- but these past few days I've hunkered down with a stream of unwatched PBS documentaries on the DVR and got to work. So while I learned about The Doors, the origins of Earth Day, and the My Lai Massacre, I got the cuff of the second sock done. The fun never stops around here.

Now I'm facing many fewer bobbins and a simplified pattern -- hope to have these done shortly!

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Still Knitting

Just checking in to keep the blog alive and let you know I'm also still among the knitting.

I just haven't done much knitting in the past several week, so I don't have much to post about. I did manage to start the second sock last week, but didn't even touch it during an out-of-town trip last weekend. When I met my fellow knitters this morning it was the first time I'd picked up my needles in well over a week. But now that I'm getting back into the patterning, it's coming back to me quickly.

Not to worry -- knitting is still a big passion. It's just taken a temporary dip while I work through end-of-the-semester craziness. I've got some free time coming up soon and I'm hoping to jump-start into some new projects. Please stay tuned!

But in the meantime, the Argyle socks endure.