Monday, September 24, 2007

Of sock clubs, and more yarn and FOs

Well, I finally hauled off and joined a sock club. I figured it would be a challenge to my inner control freak, to not know what's coming and just do what I'm told. And so far it's working out!
This is what I received from Woolgirl last month:

The yarn is Miss Babs sport weight sock yarn, and I do like the purples a lot. The sock pattern isn't too challenging--which is probably a good thing for me as I generally knit plain stockinette socks. I'm not sure I like a lace pattern with suck a thick yarn but I'm not opposed to it.

The swag is nice, too--there's a contest, and a notebook and lip balm and a stitch marker. And here's the pic of my first finished sock!


The other sock is just as pretty. Finished a pair for Eric, for his 40th birthday:


Regia silk 6-ply. I love that stuff.

I'm also currently in the middle of two pairs of Cherry Blossom Fibers socks, and I just finished a pair of house socks for Doris' birthday in Urban Gypsz Twisted:


I need to make another pair for Scott, too, as it was his birthday as well last week. Or maybe mittens!
And this is the progress on my latest Jaywalkers:
I've traded an awful lot of yarn lately on Ravelry...if you're on it you can see my latest acquisitions from Lindalu--lots and lots of STR, Cider moon, Yarn Pirate, Regia Silk, etc. I have also bought a lot of Smooshy. And Dashing Dachs is my new fave.
As I've been trading a good bit of yarn, I haven't actually spent as much as I would have. I've also sold off a lot of yarn I wasn't going to use, and as my paypal balance is currently up, and I haven't spent anything I couldn't pay for with what I'd sold, I don't feel too guilty.
I'm resigning myself to the fact that I'm a sock yarn collector, and that the ability to "use" it all isn't the biggest factor. I like having it. I've made my peace with that.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Let it Bleed

So, I have given up on a sock yarn. Tess' sock yarn, which I blogged about earlier. I got one sock done. It was very reasonably priced: $15 for a skein with enough yarn to make a pair of adult socks, which is an absolutely great price for hand-dyed yarn. At first it gave me some trouble pooling, but I frogged and changed the cast-on and that fixed things.

But, well...the yarn bled more than any other I've ever used. My hands were constantly brown from knitting it, and I must have washed it four or five times and the water still didn't run even remotely clear. I don't think it's too much to ask for a sock not to just effing bleed all over everything. I know that's the danger with denim yarn, but sock yarn? I don't know what I'll do with that little sock, but I'm not going to waste my time knitting a mate to it.

Sigh.

Working on some cherry blossom fibers yarn now--two socks in two different colorways. Raspberry Truffle and Tartan. The raspberry truffle is lovely, and very soft. Knit up into a wonderfully snuggly sock, and what a pretty juxtaposition of color.

Two knit picks, however. One is that this yarn is advertised as "self striping". I suppose there are stripes, sorta. But they don't always go around the whole circumference of the leg. I think "self-lining" might be more appropriate, but confusing. When a yarn is advertised as striping, I want stripes, not polite little lines. Also, again, the sock bled. I even washed the hank before knitting from it, and then washed the finished sock a couple of times. Pink water, pink water, pink water. I've washed enough socks to know that it's very possible to produce a yarn, even a brightly-colored one, that doesn't produce a sinkful of dye when washed. Still, the yarn is incredibly soft and the sock is wonderful.

Finished the jaywalkers, tho'! The big lesson here was not to try to complete the toe late at night with a couple of beers in me, while my husband is rubbing my feet. Also, I totally spaced doing that slip stitch down the leg on the second sock. SLOPPY!


But pretty nonetheless. Yarntini is just...gorgeous. I have a couple of skeins of the variegated, but I just love the striping stuff.

Started a new jaywalker, in Online Holiday color. Nice electric blue, with stripes/lines that show of the pattern well.


Also, more yarn.

Fly-dyed Butterfly yarn. I think I like her monarch best, but I got this for a song on ebay.

Fiesta's new Baby Boom--shockingly soft and springy, but very expensive (about $29 to make a pair of socks--I got a 20% discount via my ordering from Webs).


Shi Bui--base yarn is Louet Gems Pearl? Seems like it. Lovely shad-y colors.


Franklin yarn in McCaw. Saw the Yarn Harlot was knitting a pair of socks in this color and I felt I needed some.
I'm spending most of this week anticipating my first sock club shipment from Woolgirl. I feel in my bones it's going to be pretty fabulous!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

What the Yarn Wants to Be

So, at the workshop with Ginger Luters on miters at Stitches Midwest, she was talking about a class she teaches on determining what you should knit with the yarn you have. Seems ass-backwards, but it made sense. Yarn wants to do things, wants to be things that we may not see, or may not even agree with. There are obvious points to be made here--Shetland yarn for fairisle and steeking, et al., but sometimes the conclusions are not that apparent. Case in point--a rather seductive skein of yarn I bought a few months ago. A skein of Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky, in 572, a blood red, bought at my LYS.

I live in the deep south, where there is no cause for Alpaca. This was to be a petting skein. I put it in my stash, thinking of what I might make with it (fingerless mitts, or nothing), and put it out of my mind. Then, I was in my LYS again the other day, and I thought of my little blood-red skein, and thought I should knit her into something. I needed another skein, though. At least one more. I bought a skein in 571, a mahogany brown. Then, I brought it home to try to knit with it.

I thought a scarf. My friend Tom likes scarves, and has been asking for one. I'm sick of scarves, really, and have been for awhile, so I looked around for something fancy-ish to do with it. Maybe a red cable with a brown border, i-cord, something like that.

I swatched. The yarn did not like stockinette, that was sure. It looked sloppy, and felt not drapey but rather sort of flappy. "Perhaps a garter stitch border" I thought. "There, that's better..." the yarn seemed to say. And then proceeded to resist any attempt to wrench it into anything else.

So, I had to knit Tom a garter stitch scarf. To make it interesting, I cast on so that there would be long vertical stripes, instead of horizontal stripes, on the finished product. Six rows of garter in red and brown two times, then four rows of the same two times. Diminishing lines. Then just some knotted fringe. Because of the way I worked the garter stitch (evenly), it looks "clean" on one side and a bit more "rustic" on the other. My husband likes the rustic side. I am fonder of the clean side.

Gosh, but the yarn is happy. It is so cushy and thick and soft as this scarf. Tom will appreciate it, even if it's a bit too warm for these parts.




In case you're interested, co 165 stitches on 8 needles. The rest you will figure out for yourself.

Also arriving today in my mailbox was this:

Online Supersocke in this gorgeous mostly-electric blue colorway. With all of the yarns out there, I really haven't seen much dominated by this sort of blue. Also, I bought two skeins of Kaffe Fassett's Regia yarn, also with a stripe of that same blue.

When will I use them? Who knows? I seem to collect yarn like I am preparing for some sort of apocalypse. A yarn-pocalypse. I hoard. I pat. I say "pweshuss" and stroke it gently, cuddling it back into its drawer after I'm through pawing at it. I have actually gotten to the point where I hestitate to wind the hank into a ball, because that would somehow change the purity of it. I want to have my yarn and knit it too. In any case I have to stop buying sock yarn. I have to remind myself that the spinners and dyers of the world are not going to suddenly expire from a some fiber-lover's disease.

I also received Cat Bordhi's new book, New Pathways for Socknitters. I've heard it's filled with errors, but I so seldom see something really new with regard to sock knitting that I just closed my eyes and bought it, full price, because it's not to be had anywhere at a discount (I hear it's self-published). I knit my plain vanilla socks and I like that. I basically knit the same sock over and over again. But I like looking at the gloriously unusual and different, the same way one might peruse a travel brochure for a country one knows one will never visit.

And I can't really begin to describe the book. I've only flipped through it, but I can say that I am not at all sorry I purchased the book. It's beautiful, for one, with large, clear color pictures (one can't always say this about knitting books), and every pattern seems to me pretty revolutionary. And terribly, terribly interesting. It's like a collection of short stories in genres I've never even heard of before.

Also, I'm on RAVELRY! Same name, so if you're on Ravelry too, check me out. Friend me. I am methodically trying to catalogue my stash, and as far as sock yarn it's pretty complete.

(Until the Monarch yarn arrives. Oh, and the Sundara and the Miss Babs and the sock club yarn from Woolgirl which should ship next week and am I excited? Am I? Good lord, I need to be medicated!)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Aches and Pains, Tofutsies, Stitches

So, apparently I knit too much. My daughter informed me of this last month, as I went back to the house to retrieve my knitting as we were leaving to go run errands (one never knows when one will be able to get in a couple of rows, eh?)
"Mommy, you don't have to knit all the time!" she said, exasperated.

"That's what I tell myself!" I replied, as I fetched my socks. "But it doesn't work," I added.

Well, now, my left arm and shoulder hurt. I know it's from knitting because it only hurts on that side, and I'm a picker. I also know I don't sit right when I knit, that I don't stretch enough, etc. I actually had to stop knitting for a few days. I don't know how I accomplished it. (Yes, I do. It actually hurt to knit.)

I'm back knitting now but trying to take it a bit easier. Still, I did get a significant amount accomplished during my knitting frenzy.

More on the Yarntini Jaywalkers for my girl...

A pair of Tofutsies:

I'm not sure how I feel about this yarn. On the good side I love the colors, and the yarn works up into a very nice, soft, dense fabric that I'm sure will wear well (I tend to knit all my socks on zero needles, though, save for thicker sock yarn like jitterbug). Also, there's an INCREDIBLE amount of yardage, so it's a good value. I believe I could get a whole other pair of adult socks from what I have left. On the bad side...well it's incredibly, terribly splitty. Splitty with a capital "S". Splitty, splitty, splitty.

I also worked on Terrie's sweater. I'd put that down for a bit in favor of other projects, but it's back again, and almost finished save for one arm and the collar. I am not liking my finishing job on the one arm, though, so I will probably pull that and redo it. I don't know how, but I will.


Then there's some new and ongoing projects...my first log cabin blanket, for my daughter in Knit Picks Sierra, a yarn I see they've discontinued. Yeah, it looks a bit wonky, but I'm getting the hang of it. I'm going to block the hell out of it when it's done, and hopefully the wonkiness will disappear. I was sort of playing things by ear at the beginning.

I got the Sierra at a great price, about $2.99 a hank for 100 grams. It's a decent yarn but I was expecting it to be softer because of the alpaca. Still, my daughter really likes the colors and I know she's going to drag it around all over and cuddle under it. At least once it gets under 100 around here.

I've started the beginnings of a mitered scarf, too, in Patons SWS...

One of the things at Stitches that I did was take an all-day class in mitered knitting, taught by Ginger Luters. Very, very good class. I'm a visual learner, but also a kinesthetic one, and books alone don't do it for me. I bought Ginger's book as soon as I got home.

Stitches overall was an incredible experience, especially the market. I didn't buy much (some Blue Moon Lightweight in Jingle Bell Rock, and some gorgeous mohair/wool from Textiles a Mano). But I spent hours there, just browsing. Louet had set up a booth and I even hand-dyed a bit of yarn there. Lots of fun.

The other class I took was about gauge, and I can't fault the class but I knew everything already. Next time at Stitches I need to take more particularized classes, like the gansey and the miter class.

Also in Chicago I had big fun with my grad school pals Doris and Scott, who both loved the jitterbug socks I made for them. Had Thai food three times, which was still not enough for me!!!

:^)

And of course I had to order more yarn from Woolgirl. Some Union Center Knits in Woolgirl...

Some "Three Irish Girls" in Maureen:

Some Zen String Serendipity Fingering in Dahlia...

And I'm also expecting some Miss Babs as well. Jen's service is the best! I do have too much yarn, of course, but I am eyeing the Dashing Dachs (all sold out) greedily, and plan to make another purchase then.

I love knitting socks, and I give most of them away, so I can't be too angry with myself for buying yarn. I do need to buy more in masculine colorways, though!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

We have a winner!

Thanks so much to everyone that entered the contest...

After several perusals of all the entries (which were all really funny--it was a tough decision), I decided on Sharon's:

"See kitty, that's how baby lambs are made!"

Wicked. I love it!

Of course there have been more yarn purchases and more knitting, but I think I will wait to post pictures of that. It's the first week of school and I'm beat.

Congrats again to Sharon! I'm sure she'll write all about her project on her blog.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

EZ BSJ, Yarn Pr0n, and this month's contest...

I should have posted the latest giveaway last month, but last month was…er…busy.

What with the roaming around everywhere and the airports and the driving and the…well, lots of knitting was accomplished, but no blogging.

My latest little masterpiece is this: The baby surprise jacket. Only it is not my masterpiece; it is EZ’s. It’s just the first time I’ve done it. It is a work to be taken completely on faith. Especially since EZ’s “instructions” are rather free-form, to be honest. Free-form but brilliant, just like the little jacket.
It’s for a wee boy named Jack, born just four days ago. Done in Zarina, which is just achingly lovely to work with. It’s supposed to be “reversible” but I didn’t make that choice. I could not seem to graft the seams properly, at least so that they didn’t look messy. So I just did a running stitch on the wrong side. Now there’s a seamy bump all along the shoulder and arm on the inside, but who cares? It looks beautiful. Did two lines of crochet along the neck just to neaten things, and added little pearly buttons. It’s so soft. Lucky Jack!

More. Yarn. Pr0n. For real this time. Just look at these two. They look completely innocent, don't they?


Jen from woolgirl assured me they would behave themselves. But the minute my back was turned...


YARNTINI! Get away from that Cherry Tree Hill solid, you naughty boy!

I gotta watch that Yarntini every second. Especially the variegated. I caught the chocolatini in my sock drawer yesterday putting the moves on a pair of navy jawoll knee socks.

But enough about the sex life of yarn. Here are some very nice skeins that aren't the least bit naughty. The following were bought last month during the 40% off sale at fullthreadahead. Some madil kid seta in a soft, girly pink...


Various skeins of CTH solids for some mitteny colorwork I am planning...

And some tofutsies, Interlacements Tiny Toes, and CTH in Serengeti and Monet...


And now, for the contest! Well, first, the results of last month’s (or rather June’s) contest…

Jo took the Cabin Cove and turned it into….

Retro Rib socks from IK Winter 2004. Great choice, Jo! Here’s a link to her blog so you can see them for yourself. The socks are under the entry for July 26th.

This month’s giveaway is….(drumroll)

Interweave Knits, and yarn!

Yes, it’s the Fall 2005 edition of Interweave Knits, including Nancy Bush's pattern for rib and cable socks, and the weekend getaway bag. And the yarn? It's a superwash merino sock wool from Karen Jordan.

As with the previous contest, my aim is not to add to anyone's stash, but to put yarn (and other knitterly prizes) to use. Thus, if you do enter, it is with the understanding that over the next month you will use the yarn, or the magazine, or both. (You don't have to knit Nancy's pattern with this yarn, but you could.) Then, you blog about using the yarn/magazine on your blog (which I will link), or send me pics so I can put 'em on mine.

As I really enjoyed the recent caption contest over at Mason-Dixon knitting, I've decided to have a caption contest as well. Funniest entry (judged by moi, of course...) wins. You may enter as many times as you like!


I will have to insist, however, that due to recent changes in cost and customs for packages going overseas, that this contest is only open to those in the US, as once school starts again (I teach, my daughter attends), I won't have the time to make a special trip to the p.o. to fill out a customs form.


And here is the picture you have to caption...



I'm going to give it until August 14th. Email me at Femiknitzi@yahoo.com with your entry/ies. By then I will be back from Stitches Midwest and can give a report on that, as well as reveal the winner of the contest!
Good luck!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Born a Ramblin' Knitter

Been all over this past couple of weeks, including Manchester, NH, where I attended the a day-long workshop at on ganseys hosted by Beth Brown-Reinsel at the TKGA conference . Primo. And here is a pic of my little gansey:
Okay, so I didn't knit all of it within the confines of the six-hour workshop, but I did knit the entire body and one of the sleeves. The other sleeve, plus the neck (and weaving in about a thousand ends) was knitted in my hotel room that night. Then I washed and blocked it. Had to buy blocking pins (had a jones to block), and blocked both the teensy gansey and the lace scarf I've been knitting for my best friend's 41st birthday at the end of this month. It was to be for my cousin's birthday last month, but, well, she ended up getting the socks I was knitting for my friend to give her next month.

Ain't that always the way? The scarf:



The simplest lace pattern known to man, as you might guess. Kid silk haze. I think the color is "vino" or something like it. I'm very sure that I need to block it again, as it has been folded up rather haphazardly in my suitcase for the past ten days.

Okay, so back to the conference. I loved the workshop with Beth--she was very accessible and tried to make sure everyone progressed and understood what was going on. I was very happy and proud to see that I was not the pokiest knitter there, but I fell somewhere in the middle of the pack. Truthfully, I've only been knitting seriously for less than two years, so I was worried that I would just fall behind, especially considering that some of the people there were lifelong knitters. But I did well enough. Learned a new provisional cast-on that I used for some socks. In fact, these socks:



Colinette Jitterbug, bought on my trip in this colorway (whatever it is--I forget) and copperbeech. I used the provisional cast on because we've all heard stories about the yardage of Jitterbug, haven't we? But I managed to get a decent cuff on both, and even decided to stop knitting before all the yarn was gone.

One of the best parts was meeting other knitters. Met Kimberly, who blogs Somebunnyslove. We started blabbing after classes on Thursday and didn't stop. Even ended up going to dinner together before the show. She initiated me to the wonders of Ravelry, for which she is an editor and I mere lowly person on the beta waiting list (number 109,354,832, I think). I am hoping I never get on Ravelry because I think my entire life will disappear into it. It's a black hole.

As for the show--well I bought surprisingly little yarn. One skein. One silly little skein. I'm already knitting socks with it. Here:
Tess' sock yarn. Very reasonably priced ($15), and I really like the way it's knitting up. I'm not a fan of pooling, but this yarn doesn't really pool. It sort of shades, or something, at least the way I'm knitting it now, with only 64 stitches around. I started out at 80 and that was waaaay too big. Looked different then. Not bad. Just different. I like this better.

I visited many yarn shops during my travels, but brought home only three skeins total. Also bought some more sock needles, short and plastic. The ponys snag a bit, truthfully.

So it's been a very knitterly week! I am going to be at Stitches Midwest next month as well. After that, my knitting travels will probably be over for a good long while. But up soon...another contest! Yay!