Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Two steps back

Both sleeves for my latest sweater adventure are blocked. The front piece is in the sink right now, and will be laid out to block shortly. And the back? The back looks like this:

Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold the phone. There's a knitted piece in that shot, along with some wound up yarn and another piece on the needles. Two back pieces? Wut?


The back is done. Except. This is knitted with handpainted yarn - Dream In Color Classy - and with it come the hazards of handpainted yarn. Namely, that skeins from the same dye lot can have perceptible differences in their colouring. Now, I was aware of this going in, and I know that one strategy in dealing with skein-to-skein variability is to alternate skeins during the knitting, so that the colours all blend together. But, alternating skeins means having two working yarns attached to the piece at any given point in time, which is, frankly, a bit of a downer. So I wound my skeins up, and didn't notice any wild differences in colouring, and decided to use the piecing strategy instead - garments worked in pieces are worked such that skein differences correspond with piece differences. This way, subtle differences between skeins are offset by a visible seam, and don't strike the eye as being odd or out of place.

Except. One skein was not so subtly different, as it turns out. I didn't notice in the winding, and I'm pretty sure all four skeins came from the same dye lot (but can't verify that, since I don't know where the ballbands are, whoops), but the skein I used to do the back piece lacks the darker bits that are beautifully scattered through the other three skeins, two more so than the third. So my sleeves and front are more variegated looking, while the back is remarkably uniform in its colour.

So there I was last night, holding all the pieces up against each other, wandering from one room to the next for different lighting, eyeing the difference between the back and everything else, and wondering if it was so bad. And the answer was no, not really - it wasn't weird, it's not as if I hauled off and knit the back in an entirely different colour. I told myself that I could live with it.

And then I went and weighed what I had left over from the sleeves and front, which is a pretty big flag indicating that given the option, I'd rather not live with it.

I have 97 g of the more variegated stuff leftover. Each skein weighed about 100 g, I believe, and I had a smidge leftover from the back's skein as well. So I'm trying a reknit of the back, using the more variegated leftovers. I think I should have enough. It's gotta be worth a try, at least. Things worth doing are worth doing right.

So there you have it. Two backs for a single sweater.

And no, the plan is not to have an extra knitted back kicking about for all of perpetuity. I'll take it out and turn it into a hat or something.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some déjà vu knitting to do.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


With the wrap up of the Saints socks, I found myself with no socks on the needles, and no plan for what socks are next. This is something I haven't had in a very long time - the SSP had me line up several different patterns into a queue for the year, and while I haven't knit all of them up, I didn't recommit to the SSP this year in the same way. Sure, any socks I knit for myself I'm still tagging in Ravelry as SSP socks, since they are for me, but I haven't pledged to knit up a pair each month this year, so I'm not feeling as though I've got some obligation to knit up the three pair that were earmarked for October, November, and December of last year.

That being said, I had pulled two skeins of sock yarn out of the stash, and put both through the process of being halved and wound up. Both are from Yummy Yarn Studio, which I have discovered, much to my delight, is a local indie dye studio.

The close proximity of the gorgeousness may also be a dangerous thing. Only time will tell.

The first is a skein of 80/20 merino/nylon blend with a sparkly thread spun into it, dyed up into a beautiful semi-solid purply-pink shade that she has christened Blush. The second is a skein of 80/20 BFL/nylon blend, dyed up into a remarkably solid shade of deep, dusty rose, that she has named Pomegranate.

Both of these are new to me yarns, and I was very excited to knit up both of them. But which one to knit first?

I pondered that question as I wound the yarns. I picked out patterns for both. I hemmed and hawed over it as I plugged away more on my latest sweater adventure - haven't blocked any of the pieces yet, so no pictures yet, but soon, I promise - I'm getting to the point where it's going to be time to seam up soon! So yes, I've been using the sweater to distract myself somewhat from the sock question, because I wasn't getting anywhere with it. I simply couldn't decide which one should come first.

In the end, that indecision is winning in the most spectacular way possible, because last night, I cast on one sock, and today, I've cast on another.

Yup. Gives a whole new meaning to 2-at-a-time, no?

Monday, February 13, 2012

K'done: Chasing Snakes Socks

Also known around these parts as the Saints Socks.

Pattern: Chasing Snakes, by Mercè Janer Olives
Yarn: A Tree Hugger's Wife Soft Sock, in Star Gentian
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 2

This is an awesome pattern - one I will definitely be knitting again! I was thinking I might cast on for another pair of these right away, but I may have been distracted - more in another post. This is a fabulous pattern for semi-solid yarns, which I love. The yarn I used knit up a bit more variegatedly than I would have liked - I sort of worried about that right from the moment I decided to use the yarn for this and halved the skein, and I worried about it off and on as I knit them up, but I'm happy with the end result, as I can still see the cabling nicely. I think it'll pop more in a true semi-solid.

I knit the socks over 66 sts instead of 64 sts as called in the pattern - based on my own experience knitting socks at my preferred sock gauge. In plain stockinette, or with stretchy lace patterns, 64 sts is good for me, but cabling results in some loss of stretch, which means I will likely need more stitches to compensate. I only went as far as 66 sts because most of the sock is in stockinette, so I figured it would be okay - and it is. I hit a Baby Bear with these socks - they're just right. I also used Jeny Staiman's stretchy cast on instead of the tubular cast on, and I completely ignored whatever instructions might be given in the pattern for the toes - I just went with my usual top-down toe.

I had a bit of an issue with the placement of the cable pattern on the left sock, because the pattern has you establish a k1 p1 ribbing pattern right from the cast on, but the chart as given doesn't sync up with the established ribbing. I adjusted by moving the cable panel one stitch closer to centre, so that the ribs lined up properly. I also never got the chart memorized - after all, it's so long that you only knit it maybe twice per sock! That being said, I found I could go for fairly decent stretches without having to consult the chart by keeping track of how far from the chart's edge I needed to end up in the cabling. So, for example, I could tell myself to do side-by-side C3L until I had two stitches left between the cables and the end of the chart before switching to side-by-side C3R.

Next time I do a pair of these - because there will be a next time, at the very least for my sister, who has expressed interest in having a pair - I'll switch the k2togs for SSKs in the heel turn, and I think I'd like to try the tubular cast on too. I have nothing against tubular cast ons - no longer remember why I chose not to do one with these socks.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have no socks in progress at the moment, which means I need to do some thinking and pick a pattern and some yarn to correct that.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A trick of perspective

My parents and siblings came over for dinner tonight.

My house being what it is, there's yarn in lots of places. My mum, being a yarn appreciator - I guess it's true what they say about the apple not falling far from the tree - gave a few skeins that are out in the open a squeeze, inquiring as to the fibre content of them (100% superwash merino), and handed a skein over to my dad to see if it would be 'soft enough' for him. (He figured it would.) She picked up my sweater front from off the coffee table and asked what it was, since I've only got about six inches from the bottom hem, so it's not obvious yet that it's a sweater front.

And then she picked up my second Saints sock, which is done save the kitchenering of the toe and weaving in of ends, and looked at it, and then asked me why the foot is so long.

My brilliant reply was, Huh?

The foot, she said. Why'd you make it so long?

I told her that that was how long it needed to be to fit my foot.

She stared at the sock for a beat, then said, No, in that sort of drawn out way that I can't really convey well by typing it - it's the sort of No that really means, You are out of your freaking mind, there is no way that what you are telling me is even in the realm of possible, never mind true.

Now, I don't have unusually large feet, or disproportionately long feet. My feet are, as I understand it, on the small size - I wear a size 6 shoe. My mother's feet are a bit smaller than mine - she wears a size 5. So that sock shouldn't have been much larger than a sock she might have made for herself. But there she was, holding my sock, talking about it as if I'd taken leave of my senses and gone ahead and put a foot on there that would work for someone with a size 13 foot or something.

My sister then stuck up her foot - she was sitting on the floor - and said, It's fine, Mum. Hold it up against my foot - it's the same size as hers.

Which my mother did. Sure enough, the foot length was right.

And Mum said, Oh. Huh.

And that was that.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Fifteen seconds

Hee! I know I'm late with this, but looky!

Those are my socks. Made by me. On another blog, where someone else is talking about them, using words like awesome and a work of art.


Although, now I must admit to a tiny nudge of regret that I listed the name of the socks as PikaCatnip on the Ravelry project page. I just run around slapping pika onto project names there as if it's some kind of meaningful prefix, it's really just a sort of marker - a this is mine sort of thing - that is a none-too-subtle nod to a lingering fondness for that shockingly cute Pokémon. I was once sort of obsessed with Pikachu, collecting all sorts of collectibles featuring its likeness. It got a bit weird.

I'd say I'm not so weird about it now, but the names I assign projects in Ravelry might suggest otherwise.

In any event, I busted out a real camera to take the pics featured on the TFA blog - a Canon DSLR borrowed from Someone Else, which means I don't really know the technical specs on the camera body itself or on the lens I used, as I was not involved in any of the research that went on prior to the purchasing. I'll probably still mostly rely on my iPhone for pictures, though. It's just so easy.