Archive for April, 2008

Down to One WIP: Mosaic Blanket

So far, The Plan is going according to … um … plan!  Now that I’m down to a single project, there is only one way to dissipate the urge to knit.  And so, the Mosaic Baby Blanket is progressing!   I’m at the 75% mark and if I get good knitting time in every day, I think I can now hope for a pace of 3-4% a day.  (Hey, did I just use a calculator to get that estimate?  Yes.  Sheez what a dork!) 

I’d like to mention that this is not an unpleasant or difficult project and I’m very pleased with how it’s looking; my difficulty has been strictly a matter of discipline — or lack thereof!  This project is essentially a garter stitch rectangle with some color changes and slipped stitches thrown in for variety.   Once I got far enough along to see how it was going to come out (very pretty!) then many of the aspects of knitting that appeal to me most were taken out of play: planning, choosing tools and materials, playing with color combinations, deciding on a stitch pattern, setting up (or running into) a “problem” and solving it, trying new techniques …  all that was left was execution, so it’s been too easy to let other projects to take the limelight.  Yep, the baby blanket tended to stay in its bag a lot.  Sometimes I would get it out when I had some “poor quality” knitting time because this project is easily interrupted.  But the thing about being interrupted in this house is, if you set the needles down and get up then you may well come back to find:

Yes, Baloo has a weakness for dragging soft comfy things around the house when nobody’s looking.  See him innocently sleeping on the chair?  If asked, he would say “What blanket?  Me??”  Oh sure, he has a sweater of his own to drag around whenever and wherever he wants.  I like to drape it over the blanket chest with a sleeve hanging temptingly over the side because that usually works pretty well as a decoy … but Mr. Kitty will upgrade in a flash if given the chance!  This turned out to be another demotivator for working on the blanket project.  I had to keep it tucked away and “out of sight, out of mind”!

Now that I’m spending more time with the blanket, I got to thinking: why does Baloo consider it an “upgrade” over his own sweater?  Cuz it’s very soft, it drapes nicely and it’s cozy?  Hmmmm, he has a good point there. Maybe “execution” isn’t all that’s left of this project.  What about the pleasure of creating a beautiful soft fabric by hand?  How about the fact that it’s now big enough to spread over my curled legs for warmth?  I will be giving this blanket away when I’m finished with it, so if I want to enjoy it at all then this is the time to do it!  This morning, I stopped thinking so much about “percentage complete” vs. “percentage to go” and tried to do more “Mmmmmmm!”  I don’t watch TV or listen to music when I knit and since I have no other projects going it became a much more meditative experience …

Here’s a progress picture:

By the way, I think I’d better rename this project to “Little Kid’s Blanket”, cuz it’s mighty big for a baby!!

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FO: Quick Cable Hiking Socks

Yay!  Part 1 of The Plan is now complete:

I made these toe-up socks from worsted weight yarn (Patons Classic Merino) and used just about 1 full skein for my size 9 1/2 feet.  There were half as many stitches as for fingering weight socks (42 around the foot), and it  took about half as long to knit them up.  For me, that was 10 days (with other life events dialed in too!).  I ad-libbed the pattern, borrowing the reversible cable from the pattern for the Palindrome Scarf.  The idea was for the socks to look good with the cuffs up or folded down.  They do, but I think a couple more repeats of cabling would show off the cable more when they’re folded down.  The cable stitch pattern takes 12 stitches so I expanded the cuff to 48 stitches.  This cable pulls in a LOT, so the cuff is still snug.

This was my first attempt at using two circular needles for socks.  What I liked: only two joins, no fear of dropping stitches, Magic Cast-On was easier to do.  What I didn’t like: extra needles flapping around (mine are metal, they were noisy), kinda unwieldy when tucking the WIP into a bag.  I liked that I could make these #4 US socks with only two #4 tips … I learned that I could use two #5 tips for “stitch-holding” duty.  So it wasn’t necessary to buy even more needle tips, cool!  I definitely will use two circular needles the next time I do worsted weight or heavier socks.  I may not invest in circs for finer socks though; I have plenty of DPNs!  Oh, this was the first time I used my Knit Picks Options and I really enjoyed them.  Smooth, nice tips, flexible cable.  I’m glad I got the set!

Another first for me was the short row heel with no heel flap.  I had read that some knitters don’t like the fit, but for me  it fits just fine.  I found instructions for a short row heel that does NOT use a wrap and turn, how about that??  It was developed by Priscilla Wild and is documented in the Lifestyle Toe-Up Socks “pattern”.  (In quotes because it’s more like general guidelines for ad-libbers than a true pattern.  You could use it to make my hiking socks.)

Wow, my April socks are finished and I have 5 days left!  Time for Part 2 of The Plan.  Must.  Not.  Start.  A.  New.  Pair.  Of.  Socks.

Ze Plan, Boss!

Anybody out there old enough to get the “Fantasy Island” reference??

But here it is: The Plan

I want to get down to 1 WIP and *finish it asap*!  The Mosaic Baby Blanket was under wraps for a while because every time I got it out, the kitty would drag it into another room with loose yarn trailing after it.  It must be one comfy blanket cuz he only drags around the best!  See this and other related posts for details …  BTW, he’s now got a new habit of napping on my computer keyboard dangerously close to the “esc” key which can cause some havoc, oh yeah … here’s a pic taken literally 1 minute ago:

OK, I’m rambling!  Back to The Plan.  All I have to do is finish the sock on the needles (the second hiking sock, which is about 25% done) and then do NOT start anything else!  I will be able to say I finished my April socks in April (what a concept!) and I will have nothing but the baby blanket left to work on … and work I must if I want to get it finished in time to send it off to its intended recipients!

Hiking … or Hopping

Edit: After I bagged the Chevrolace socks, I decided to knit up a quick pair of hiking socks with some available yarn instead.  That way I could keep up with my plan to knit a pair of socks every month this year cuz they should go quickly.

Not much time for knitting in the last couple of days, but I did finish the first hiking sock:

This is worsted weight wool, the sock was knit on #4 needles.  It fits great!  I chose the reversible cable in the popular Palindrome Scarf cuz I thought it would be fun to be able to fold the cuff down or leave it up.  I think I’ll prolly leave it up because it looks nice that way.  Until I get the other sock finished, I won’t be hiking in it … well, I could hop around on one foot I guess!

In non-sock news, now that tax time is over … hubby’s back!  Well, he wasn’t really gone, just very very busy.  The one way I tried hardest to be supportive was to cook lots of good homecooked dinners for him … they would be waiting when he got home at 8PM.  Sitting down to a nice dinner was pretty much his only entertainment for a while.  Well, the day after taxes were out of the way he took me out to dinner at Amada, which was a real treat!  He also brought home this cute flower arrangement:

See?  It’s in a colander, supposed to look a bit like a tossed salad … it was in appreciation of all the nice dinners, isn’t that nice?

Yay for da Jays! (FO)

   

 

 Yay!  My March socks for the Thrifty Knitters Sock Club (a Ravelry forum), the Cherry Tree Hill  Jaywalkers in the “Fall Foliage” colorway, are finally finished!  The pattern for these socks by Grumperina is free (which is why it’s a TKSC selection) but the site where it was published recently went away.  It’s available on Ravelry, if you have access.  The socks fit G R E A T!  The yarn was a pleasure to work with and the colors were out of this world.  A snivel: as you can see, there are bits of undyed yarn that show up as white spots on these socks.  I bought this yarn online, would not have bought this particular hank if I had been shopping in a LYS.  (A motivation to patronize your local yarn shop!)  Still, I’m expecting to have lots of fun wearing these socks!  One other note: I participate in the TKSC discussions so much that the forum administrators said “Um, since you’re already kinda doing it, would you like to be a moderator?”   Well, yeah?   I’m not on the computer that much these days, but I have picked a few forums at Ravelry that I try to contribute to actively, and that’s one of ’em.  Great group, BTW.  Please check it out!

Right after the front porch photo session with the Jaywalkers, I got started on my April choice for the TKSC, the Chevrolace Socks, but I decided that the selected yarn (Knit Picks Palette, “Iris Heather” colorway) was plied too loosely for lace.  I could tell I would not enjoy this pattern with that yarn (though I’m sure either would be fine with another partner!).  I did get a chance to try a new toe-up cast-on though:

This is the crochet cast-on.  It was fun to give it a try, but I think I like Judy’s Magic Cast-On better.  This one requires 2-needle stockinette ro get going and my purls are looser than my knits so it looks a bit funky.

Well, you know how it is when you’ve got to go back to the stash … you get to dreaming and saying “what if …?”  I ended up with my treasured Great Adirondack Yarn Co Silky Sock (“Balsam“) and some Knit Picks Gloss in the “Serengeti” colorway.  They’re both a merino-silk blend and I hadn’t noticed until today that they look very nice together!  Next thing I knew, I had a gauge swatch (gauge tube?) of a Barbara Walker mosaic pattern with some great sock potential:

The stitch and row count for this pattern fits in with the instructions for mosaic socks in Charlene Schurch’s book “Sensational Knitted Socks“, which I haven’t had a chance to knit from yet.  It looks lovely, but I’m not sure I have enough of the Serengeti for two socks … maybe I’ll switch them … or maybe another idea will float into view …

 

I Tink I Got a Problem …

I mentioned the other day that I had to tink 4 rows of the Jaywalkers … Well, unbelievably,  I had to tink the same 4 rows again for a different problem!  Trying to be Zen about it all, I said “Well, maybe the Jaywalkers need a rest right now.  That’s cool, I’ll work on the Mosaic Baby Blanket.”  And there I was a little while later tinking 400+ stitches of the baby blanket.  Oh yes, I tried to figure out if I could recover from the errors without tinking … in all cases I messed around until I made it worse and then decided to tink until all ugliness went away!

All joking aside, I can usually remind myself that if I enjoy knitting for the sake of knitting, then I may as well enjoy tinking too.  After all, once I have decided that it’s necessary, then as far as I’m concerned it must be done in order to complete the project. So even though it looks as if it’s going backwards, it’s really going forward.  If it must be done, then getting it taken care of is progress!

BUT … that’s a lot of tinking!  You kind of have to wonder: what’s up with that?  Well, I’m not quite yet a dedicated Phan of the Phillies (was once a Mets fan, old habits die hard) but I saw an interview with a Phillies pitcher after their opening game (they lost) and he said something to the effect of: “Hey, it wasn’t there for me today.”  Hey.  It isn’t there for me today!

For your visual gratification, here’s a stash picture … this yarn is currently queued for hiking socks.  I look forward to hiking this summer in some of the nearby preserves in the Philadelphia region that are  protected and preserved by Natural Lands Trust.

 

Bilingual Knitting

… and crocheting.  I’ve recently started tutoring English as a Second Language in Philadelphia, working with a group of three adults who want to improve their extemporaneous speaking skills.  There are two women and one man in the group and we meet twice a week.  On Thursdays, due to scheduling issues, the man is usually a little late … about 20 minutes or so.  I don’t want to get too deeply into whatever we’re doing until the whole group is present, so this past Thursday we were doing soime light chit-chat … any speaking is good practice! 

The topic, not surprisingly, was “what do you do when you have some extra time?” and I mentioned that I knit.  The two women both knew the word and their eyes lit up!  So I reached into my backpack and pulled out my WIP (the Jaywalkers) and things got really animated!  Ladda (from Thailand) knits and Yan-Yan (from China) crochets and they both said they would love to know how to read patterns in English.  I said “Sure!” and then there was a brief pause … what about Jhong (the man, from China)?  I noted that some men knit, and they commented that he probably doesn’t … so I suggested that we could use our 15-20 minutes on Thursdays to talk about knit and crochet vocabulary and if he seems interested when he arrives, he can join right in.  And if he’s not interested, we can switch over to something the whole group wants to do.

I can’t believe I’m working knitting into my tutoring sessions, ha ha!  After our Thursday meeting was finished, I had an appointment and found myself walking past the University of Pennsylvania Bookstore so I stopped in to check out their offering of knitting books. After all, if Cat Bordhi’s “New Pathways” was on the shelf, it would have to be liberated!  It wasn’t, but I found a cute little book called “Knitspeak: An A to Z Guide to the Language of Knitting Patterns”.   How perfect is that???   It will be useful for tutoring, and I think I’ll enjoy browsing through it myself, given my Knitting Lingo pages!

Sadly, I don’t have any progress pictures today.  I just tinked 4 rows on one of the Jaywalkers (don’t ask) and who wants to take a picture of negative progress?  LOL!  But it has been a great week for armchair birdwatching, as migration is now in swing and we happen to be sort of close to a major route (the Atlantic flyway, which passes over Cape May).  So, in honor of that, here are a couple of old pics of red shouldered hawks taken on different occasions in Florida.  Yeh, I’m reaching ..

  


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