Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Catching up

Apparently, October was a really good month for stash enhancement. Good in the sense that a lot of yarn entered the premises. Not so good for the notion of self-control. I may have a rather fatal weakness when you dangle the word SALE in front of me and then flash images of yarn alongside of it.

First Elann had a batch of Naturally Pride they were clearing out in bags, so I decided to pick up some, figuring it would be good, versatile sweater yarn. I ended up with four bags in my cart - three in colours for me, one bag of pale blue for my sister. The dent to the credit card wasn't too bad, but Someone Else was a bit alarmed by the box of yarn that was delivered about a week later.

Then came the discovery of a sale at Knit Picks. I cruised over there to see about ordering a ball-winder - my brother's birthday gift to me - and decided to see what sorts of sale items were to be found, and found them clearing out their Stroll Tonal sock kits - so I, um, bought three, one in each colour grouping. It was like getting the yarn for half price, with some free sock patterns to boot.

I've just updated my stash page on Ravelry and it's, er, impressive. The count at the top of the tab now reads 51. I was a bit lazy in getting the pics of the yarn - I didn't bother taking the skeins out of their plastic bags, and the sock yarns are thus all in groups in their photos, and when I uploaded the pictures I compressed the image size a bit, figuring no one would be concerned on details, since it's yarn, and it's yarn in plastic bags, so nothing is going to be super crisp in those photos.

Ahem. Yarn is slowly taking over my house.

It is getting knit up, though - see?

That's a shrug (pattern is Ester - that's a Knitty link, not a Rav link), laid out for blocking purposes on my laundry rack - or, as Someone Else has dubbed it, my Not-A-Table. I was a bit worried about showing off the mess in the spare room around the Not-A-Table, along with the laundry drying on the lower layers of the Not-A-Table, and tried to set the shot up to minimize the mess, then remembered that I can do some low-grade editing in Photobucket, including cropping! Worries gone.

As you can see from the image, blocking round these parts is really laying flat to dry - no pins or wires involved. Just a soak in the sink with wool wash, then carefully arranged into place and allowed to sit and dry. Once it's dry, I'll weave in those pesky ends and then seam the sleeves, and then I should have a wearable object, which means a finished project post and hopefully a cute layering piece for work! It's cold out there - I'm in rather desperate need of cute layering pieces for work.

Yes, shopping would probably be significantly faster. But like I said, it's cold out there. I'd better stay here where it's warm and knit away.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

K'done: Air Raid Socks

The top-down sockathon continues.

Pattern: Air Raid Socks, by Emily B. Miller
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy, in November Muse
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

Yes, those are monkey jamama pants you see in that photo. What can I say, I wasn't dressed yet when I snapped these.

I wanted to try out knitting socks on 2.25 mm needles, to see if the denser fabric had any effect on the longevity of the sock. Over the summer, I tried a couple of others, but as it turns out, 60 stitches runs a bit smaller than I'd like on this size needle - I have one sock that I haven't knit the mate for because I suspect it needs a rip and redo. I tried again with a 64 stitch sock, but the stitch pattern wasn't very stretchy, and this time I ended up with a sock that wouldn't even go over my heel - that has since been ripped. This pattern, though, is written over 64 stitches, and looking at it I could see no reason why the fabric would be unstretchy, so I went for it.

And lo, they fit! Quite well - we shall see how the longevity works out.

I did an eye of partridge heel flap, but knit the flap in the round with the purled gussets - no picking up stitches for me. Some might point out that an eye of partridge heel flap will be sturdier than a short row heel anyway, but that's not going to affect this longevity test, because I walk through my socks on the bottom of the heel first - where the stitches are simple stockinette, regardless of whether you do a reinforced heel stitch for the heel flap or not.

Still. I like these a lot. Jeny Staiman's stretchy cast-on method and this no-picking-up-for-the-gussets thing have completely removed all doubts I had about knitting socks from the top down.

Now the question is, which technique do I prefer?

Hmmm, the inquiring mind wants to know. I better get knitting so I can determine the answer.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

K'done: Improvised Nook cover

A little bit of knit love for my baby brother.

Pattern: my own improvisation
Yarn: Knit One Crochet Too Camelino, in Graphite
Needles: 3.75 mm / US 5

Throughout his childhood, my brother never fell in love with books, or even reading in general - when playing video games that required some reading to follow the story line and advance the plot, he would just mash buttons to make those bits go by as quickly as possible, never mind that he was making story-altering decisions. While on vacation this past summer, however, he thought our Nook ebook readers looked interesting - interesting enough that he actually bought one for himself when we stopped in at a Barnes & Noble so my sister could buy herself one.

And he read every spare moment during that vacation. Someone Else loaded the device up with novels he thought my brother would enjoy, and finally, a month shy of his 22nd birthday, my brother fell in love with reading.

So I decided to knit him a case for his reader for his birthday. I got it done late - his birthday was in early September, and I managed to give it to him last week. Still. Here it is.

It was really simple: using a cable cast-on, I cast on 40 stitches, and worked these in garter stitch throughout the whole thing. (I know - a big long thwack of garter stitch. How exciting. Clearly, I love my brother.) To keep the selvedge stitches neat, I slipped the first stitch of each row purlwise with the yarn in front (i.e., exactly where it left off after knitting the last stitch of the previous row and then turning the work), then moved the yarn to the back after the slip.

I knit the piece until it was three times the length of the device, then knit an additional three or four inches - never measured, just eyeballed it. Then I bound off (knit 2, pass first k over second, repeat until only one remains, cut yarn and pull tail through) and folded the fabric into a compressed Z and seamed the sides shut, leaving the extra few inches at one end to form a foldover flap. This created two pouches: one that can be closed off with the flap, and one that can't. The non-closing flap serves two purposes. One, it provides an extra layer of squishy fabric - my hope is that this will provide additional padding and protection to the screens of the device. Two, if desired, a piece of cardboard or plastic can be cut to the right size and slipped into the space between the layers, providing a rigid layer.

Not too shabby for something I just imagined. Is this what designing is like?