Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Roundup on a Tuesday

This morning, I sat down, knit a few rounds on the second June sock, and then turned the heel:

Though I suppose it's not super obvious from that shot there that the heel has been turned. I was thrilled to start the heel turn, though, because it meant a reprieve from 1x1 twisted rib without having to abandon the sock for something else. I'll finish up the remainder of the heel today, and I might at that point be able to keep going down the foot without feeling the need for a break.

Which is good, because the Amiga cardigan came off the needles on Sunday, and went for a bath yesterday. I may get to sewing on the buttons today, which will mean a k'done post tomorrow. But the circle of (knit) life is ever constantly turning, which means that when Amiga came off the needles, I cast on this:

That there is an Asymmetrical Cabled Cardi (by Yahaira Ferreira), knit in Dream in Color Classy for my sister. She saw mine and pretty promptly requested her own, and then went and bought the yarn for it. Well. She chose the color, I included it in a larger order from Eat.Sleep.Knit, and then she reimbursed me for it. I actually started this sweater months ago, but had to rip it into oblivion when I discovered on the yoke decreases that I'd misplaced the right side marker, so the side decreases weren't in the right spot, the right front was too short, and the right armhole was too far forward. This is the beginning of round two, and I've counted and the markers are in the right spot this time, so we should be good to just fly along here.

I also have this waiting in the wings:

These are some leftovers from previous socks - those of you who've been paying attention may recognize them - that I will be turning into some Helical Stripe Socks (by Grumperina). I'll be working toe up, because I'm worried about yardage. There's about 20 g of each colour except for the red, which has only 15 g. Eep. The dark brown will be used for the toes, heels, and ribbings, and the other four colours will be the striping. We shall see what we shall see.

Lots of fun planned for the next little while. Real work doesn't stand a chance.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Just get'er done

The second sock of the June SSP socks are now ready for the heel flap.

Actually, yesterday I got through the heel chart, so really they're into the twisted 1x1 rib portion of the heel flap, and I'm working through the top of foot chart as well - I'm working the gusset in the round, so I continue the front of the sock while working the heel flap. This method lets me skip picking up stitches.

Today, though, I think I will take a break from the sock and focus on Amiga instead.

The left sleeve was cast off last night, and only the right sleeve remains. Then it'll go for a wash, have some ends woven in and the underarm seams tidied, and the buttons attached, then I'll be able to wear it! I'm hoping I can get the knitting finished up over the weekend. To be perfectly honest, I'd like to finish off that right sleeve today, but the realistic part of my brain is skeptical - I've lengthened the sleeves, to better use up the available yarn, so that there means knitting 18" worth using Magic Loop, which, while not frustrating using a needle with a nicely flexible cable, like these Knit Picks Options here, is slower for me than flat knitting and knitting in the round using DPNs. I think some sweater-appropriate DPNs are going on my birthday wishlist this year.

But then again, I did have them on my Christmas wishlist last year too, and no one in my family thought that that would be a good gift, so I didn't get any. I may have to just buy them for myself some day.

Some day when Canada Post isn't on strike, and mail flows freely in this country, that is.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Something has happened

To my brain.

The June SSP socks continue apace, I have high hopes for getting them done by the end of the month. We'll see what happens when I get to the twisted 1x1 ribbing for the heel though - that may slow me down considerably. I'm well into the leg of the second sock, even though the first one hasn't had its toe kitchenered shut yet - as you can see, I've included both socks in the shot there, so no one can accuse me of deceit in which I post a photo of the first sock and claim it is the second. Everything's on the up and up over here.

Amiga also continues, and I would like to have it done this week, to block and have its buttons added next week, but we shall see. It has part of a sleeve. Were I knitting the sleeves to the pattern specs, I'd be nearly done that sleeve, but I've got enough yarn to lengthen them to full sleeves, so that's what I'm doing. No shaping - I like roomy sleeves at the cuff, so I figure plugging along straight will give me the desired effect. No picture, mostly because the sweater is not in the room with me right now. Maybe tomorrow or the next day.

That being said, I've got socks on the brain. I can't stop thinking about one-row stripes, of the sort Grumperina discusses here. I saw that post, and I wanted to try, but my sock yarn remnant collection was too poor - the colours didn't contrast enough. Now, though? Now I've knitted far more socks, and the colour variety has expanded considerably, and I want to try it again.

Hm. This needs another picture. I've picked out my candidates for stripy sock attempt #1. I'll give them a photo shoot tomorrow or the next day. I'm thinking these will be my July SSP socks.

I've been also having some other new sock thoughts - very new to me. I've sat down and tried my hand at some rough charting. I'll have to swatch to see if my chart gets me what I actually want. And then this afternoon, I had another idea that will need charting and swatching to see if I can create what I'm seeing in my mind's eye.

More to come. Soon, I hope.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Wants and needs

What I want to do: stay home, sit in the comfy chair in the corner by the window, and crank the yardage on Amiga. I'm well into the front bands - not too much knitting time yesterday, but still the sweater progresses. Maybe even give some more time and attention to the June SSP sock - I've gone ahead and knit four rounds on it already this morning. I briefly pondered switching to the lacy leg of the second sock for a bit, but then realized that I might end up trying to work the heel before finishing the foot of the first sock, which would mean that both socks would want me working the twisted 1x1 rib at the same time, and that seemed like an excellent way to end up shoving the socks into a drawer somewhere and disavowing all knowledge of them. I'll get back to the second after I'm done with the first.

What I need to do: grocery shop. I need to pick up stuff from two different stores, because Someone Else has run out of the probiotic supplement he likes to take with his dinners, which means I have to go to Costco, but the regular groceries are best had at the regular grocery store, which is not Costco. Sigh.

I also have to clean up a few days' worth of cooking detritus in the kitchen to make room for cooking tonight and over the weekend. Unfortunately, one of the items is my massive crockpot, from Wednesday's sweet potato ginger soup. The soup is wonderful and easy to make, but the pot is big and awkward and heavy, and I hate cleaning it. Probably the joy of having the soup outweighs the nuisance of cleaning the crockpot, but the moments before the actual cleaning have me seriously doubting that.

My plan is to do the grocery runs now, with a swing by a McDonald's to treat myself to some Cinnamon Melts on the way home from Costco. The cleanup will happen this afternoon.

Yes, I will get to my wants as well as taking care of my needs. I just wish I could devote all my time to my wants and ignore the needs completely.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Note: I don't know what's up with PhotoBucket and/or Blogger - my edits of my photos aren't being incorporated over to Blogger, so they're coming out massive and uncropped. Hopefully it'll eventually go away and look nice, but I'm going to leave this bit of text for any persistent weirdness. I haven't gone bonkers and decided I love great big pictures that look odd with my blog template. Really.

Edit: I re-saved the photos in Photobucket as copies of the originals, then changed the code in the post to link to the copies. Everything looks the way it should now. No idea what was going wrong before.

My poor June SSP socks have not grown much since yesterday - I worked about four rounds on one last night, and another two rounds this morning.

The sweater, though? Remember how I had just split off the sleeves the night before last?

That there is a nearly completed body. Seriously. I only have another inch of length to go before hitting on the pattern schematic length for the body. Truthfully, if I were to obey the pattern instruction to knit 10" beyond the underarm, then I think I'd be done. This only gives me 17" from the collar at the back to the bottom hem, though, not the 18" called for. I know my gauge is all kinds of wrong, so this is a row gauge thing. I'll just knit till the back is 18", then bind off.

Some folks out there are reading this and plotzing - didn't I swatch? Do I not realize the importance of getting gauge?

Well, no, I didn't swatch, and yes, I know that gauge is important. My gauge really seems to be needle-driven, and I'm using 5 mm / US 8 needles, which reliably give me 5 stitches to the inch. The pattern (Amiga) calls for 17 stitches to 4 inches. If I go up a needle size, my gauge becomes 4 stitches to the inch. Looking at the pattern, I see that the finished chest measurement for the small size is given at 35.75"; extra small is given as 32". My chest measurements max out at 34". 33.75", to be fully truthful.

So. The extra small is right out, so I'll knit the small. At the written stitch gauge, this would give me a sweater with roughly two inches of positive ease. If I use the 5.5 mm / US 9 needle, I'd get something a bit bigger than that, since my gauge will be off a smidge in the fewer stitches per inch direction. If I use the 5 mm / US 8 needle, I'd get something smaller than that, and probably a larger difference in expected finished size since the difference in gauge is bigger - I'm now off by 3 stitches per 4".

The thing is, I like close-fitting sweaters. I'm a no-ease kind of girl. The first sweater I knit for myself I got nervous about and knit a size larger than I should have, so there's probably 2" or so of ease, and I promised myself I wouldn't do that again, because I really do wish it fit me more closely.

So instead of knitting something that I know will come out larger than I'd like, I'm knitting something that should come out just right. I've tried the sweater on, and the difference in stitch and row gauge hasn't resulted in armholes that don't accommodate my arms, so everything seems all good.

I know. Someone is just waiting for a bolt of lightning to strike me down for being so bold as to skip swatching, but I've knitted a few sweaters following my own gauge principles, and it's been okay so far. I'm too cheap budget conscious to buy an extra ball or skein of whatever yarn I want to use to swatch with, so I have to take these leaps of faith when I knit sweaters. I know what needle sizes give me what sorts of stitch gauges. Row gauge I ignore, since usually you're knitting to a length specification, but I also have found that generally if I'm getting stitch gauge, if I bother to check, my row gauge is pretty okay too - maybe not bang on, but not so far off that I end up with sleeves that go way past the mark.

Anyway. More blasphemous behaviour is evidenced in this sweater - I didn't alternate my skeins the whole way through. I did get burned once with skein-to-skein variation on a sweater knit with handpainted yarn, so I now try to alternate some when coming to the switching point, which is what I've done here. I have issues with tension if I just drop one yarn and pick up the next, though, so what I've done is knit a column of stitches with both yarns at the switching point. If you look closely, you can see it:

You can also feel it, since the fabric gets a bit thicker as the doubly knit column forms a bit of a ridge, but in my mind it's worth it. I don't get weird puckering from having pulled the yarn too tight at the switch, and the back is pretty tidy as well:

I alternated the skeins six times, then switched back to the new skein. I sort of wonder if I even needed to bother with this yarn - the skeins really do seem to be closely matched, I can't distinguish the alternating section from the non-alternating section. That being said, I have enough leftover from the first skein that I could do a few swaps of alternating at the beginning of each sleeve too, which will help disguise any skein-to-skein differences that may become apparent there.

I may have a new sweater sooner than I think! I haven't yet decided on sleeve lengths, though. I think I'm going to do the button bands first - I want to maximize my yarn usage, but I don't want to end up with a sweater with full length sleeves and weirdly truncated non-functional button bands!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Well. I've turned the heel and gotten down to the foot of the June SSP socks, and?

Wow moly, that's a lot of twisted 1x1 rib. I'm not even done the first sock, and I'm ready for a break from all that ribbing. I'm even thinking ahead to the July socks, and sifting through patterns on Ravelry looking specifically for socks that don't have ribbing save for the bit of ribbing at the top of the cuff. I think I may have found a couple of likely candidates, just a question of picking one, matching it with yarn, and getting things ready.

You know. For when these neverending twisted 1x1 rib socks are completed. Though I did cast on for the second yesterday while waiting at the doctor's office - just a follow-up visit, nothing to worry about, for you nervous types out there. I didn't wait very long, though, so all I got done was the cast on and a couple of rounds of twisted 1x1 rib.

To be fair, I did enjoy the patterning on the leg, and had the heel not been in the blasted twisted ribbing, I think I'd be happier to zoom through the rest of the sock. But I'd like a small break, please.

Perhaps, though, that's because I'm being lured away from the sock by this.

That bit of lovely there is the beginning of an Amiga cardigan. Notice that it is pictured in my lap, and not placed on an ottoman? It is the anti-twisted 1x1 ribbing with its plain stockinette. I did the split for the sleeves last night, and thought myself a clever cookie by casting those extra underarm stitches using a cable cast on, but now that I'm a few rows past the split, I'm thinking that was a mistake, and I should just do the backwards loop cast on the designer told me to. I'll strategically drop and repair. I hope it works.

Though even if it fails and I have to rip out, I'm pretty sure I'm okay with that.

Because it's not twisted 1x1 rib.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

On technique

As I trundle along on the SSP June socks, and blast my way through a sweater for my sister so I can get moving on a sweater for myself, I've been thinking about my technique a lot.

(Postjack - look! It's a leg!)

My mother knits English style - yarn carried in the right hand, wrapped elegantly about her middle and ring fingers, throwing to create stitches. My mother taught me to knit when I was wee, so she taught me this style - sort of. My young brain did not understand how winding the yarn through the fingers allowed you to tension it properly, so I simply held on to it using my thumb and index finger, but still threw (sort of) to wrap the needle to form the stitch.

When I picked up the needles again many years later, I remembered holding on to the yarn as a child, so that's exactly what I did as an adult. It worked, I kept going. The style was subject to some modification over time as I grew more comfortable with the movements needed to form knitted stitches, and adjusted for ease and speed. I timed myself the other night and learned that I now knit at 35 sts/minute, purl 33 sts/minute, in stockinette, using DK yarn on 4 mm / US 6 needles. Not exactly breaking any land speed records, but projects seem to move along at a decent clip at that rate.

Thanks to a few technique videos I've seen on YouTube, I now know what Continental style knitting is, and I know what lever knitting is. I also know that what I do doesn't match up with anything I've seen online.

Yes, I carry the yarn in my right hand, but it's tensioned by grasping between my thumb and index finger. I use my middle finger to sort of position the yarn for wrapping around the needle to form stitches - most of the time, but sometimes the middle finger stays out of it.

My right needle is mostly stationary - the left needle is the one that moves toward and away in the formation of stitches.

When I wrap the yarn, I actually drop the right needle - sort of. It leaves my right hand, but it's actually been grabbed by my left hand. For a knit stitch, the right needle ends up between my left middle finger and thumb. For a purl stitch, the right needle ends up being grabbed by both my index and middle left fingers, and the thumb. The middle finger actually exerts some pressure, establishing a pivot point, so that the movement of the needle as it's being grabbed by the left hand is causing the wrap to be formed - my right hand barely moves in wrapping. I think it moves more on a purl than it does on a knit, but it's still absolutely not a throwing motion.

So yes, my technique is, erm, odd. It churns the yardage out in a quick enough sort of way, though. I have thought about trying to learn Continental for a speed boost on stockinette - turns out my adult brain still can't figure the tensioning of yarn by winding through fingers, though, which presents a problem.

Then again, I've seen accounts of knitters developing injuries, due to long hours at the needles. I've never had a moment's trouble. Even after knitting nearly continuously (minus five or ten minutes to eat some snack mix) through four hour flights. Sure, it could be that I just don't knit enough to develop any sort of knitting-related injury. But I'm beginning to suspect that because no one really taught me a really specific technique, the way I knit has sort of grown so that I can keep doing those motions without hurting myself. Anyone who really teaches you how to knit is not going to put together all the things that make up my technique. With me, it just sort of happened.

So yes, I'm happy with my technique, even if I'm not the fastest out there. While it would be nice to finish things more quickly, it would also mean I'd have to bump up my yarn purchasing to keep up. I'm not sure my budget would be too happy with that.

It would be fun, though.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

K'done: Rivercat Socks

Hey look! Another pair of socks!

Pattern: Rivercat Sock, by Brenda Patipa
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Kettle Dyed Sock, in Oak
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

These were actually finished on May 31 - grafted the toes shut as I waited for my thesis to be printed for initial submission.

That's right! My thesis has officially gone out for examination! I finished it! All I have left to do is defend the sucker and do the final revisions - assuming I pass - and then I will have my PhD!

I couriered the thesis copies on the morning of 1 June, and the days since then have been wild. I keep swinging from being so thrilled I want to dance in public and tell complete strangers of my accomplishment, to being so nervous and wrecked about it that I just want to lie down in a busy roadway. On the one hand, it's done, but on the other, now it's being examined. I haven't touched a lick of work since then, which will have to change pretty soon, but I've enjoyed my week so far, and I'm slowly settling down on just being thrilled.

But back to the socks. These socks were started once the official May SSP socks were wrapped up mid-month, and in the back of my mind, they were always the making-up-for-April socks. So I'm all caught up, SSP-wise.

The pattern was fun - fairly easy to memorize, though the ribbing setup at the cuff I did not memorize - I printed off the chart and carted it around with me, and consulted it faithfully for the ribbing portion. Once I got the hang of the rest of the pattern, I just went with it. I subbed in an eye of partridge heel flap and purled gussets in the round, to avoid picking up stitches. I also knit the 66 st version, since I know 60 sts on these needles is a bit of a tight fit.

One thing I'm not so sure about is the way the purled triangles sort of bulge out. Maybe that will have disappeared now that I've washed them.

The yarn was not the colour I had stored in my brain - a much richer, warmer brown than what I was remembering, I was quite happy to correct myself on that one. There was, however, a weird change in the colouring on one of the socks - even though both were knit top down from one skein, if you look closely, it looks like I was knitting toe up, and then ran out of yarn on the second sock, and grabbed a close-enough substitute to finish up the last pattern repeat and the ribbing on the leg. I noticed this when I got to the heel - that was when there was enough of both shades of fabric for me to notice the difference - and couldn't bring myself to tear the whole thing out to get rid of the slightly darker section of yarn, so it is as it is. Probably no one will ever see it, since the legs of socks are typically hidden by legs of pants, and I'm not in the habit of hiking up my pants on a regular basis to show the entirety of my socks off to everyone - the foot is usually good enough.

In fact, I didn't even photograph the colour blemish for the blog. Nyah nyah.

Friday, June 3, 2011

K'done: Mallow Socks

Well. Done for a couple of weeks, now.

Pattern: Mallow, by Wendy D. Johnson
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Kettle Dyed Sock, in Eggplant
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

May's SSP socks, all wrapped up way before month end, but not blogged till now. You see, May was sort of a crazy month for me, and blogging here had to be deprioritized.

Now that I'm back, I'm actually rather hard pressed to remember much about knitting these socks. I am pleased with how they turned out - I think lace and dark yarns make a nice match, and I like the big diamond motif running up the foot, flanked by the smaller, circular motif. Used Judy Becker's Cast On at the toe, then Jeny Staiman's stretchy bind off for the cuff. The ribbing is k2 p1 ribbing, because 66 sts around doesn't divide into 4, and I didn't want k1 p1 ribbing.

Another pair for the drawer, another SSP month done.