Tuesday, May 29, 2012

To rip, or not to rip

Now that is the question, isn't it?

Here you see a humble sock cuff:

It's the beginnings of Nebula, by Cookie A, done up in Yummy Yarn Studio 80/20 BFL, in Pomegranate. I started this, oh, back in March, I think? I worked on it for a bit, thoroughly enchanted by it.

And then I just stopped.

It's not that I dislike the result. I really, really like how it's turning out, and just last night, I looked at that promising beginning of a sock, and thought about how much I'm going to like the finished socks. The cables stand out fantastically, and the yarn shows off all the variations in texture magnificently.

Can you see why I might have stopped? See those panels of vertical ribbing that sort of travel along the sock? Those are 1x1 twisted rib. If you've been paying attention to this blog, you may be thinking Uh oh, she doesn't like 1x1 twisted rib. Which is entirely true. I can deal with it in small doses, but this pattern has thwackloads of it. Plus, because the ribbed panel is travelling, there are twisted decreases that must be done as well, and something about the way I hold the knitting, or the way I form stitches, I don't know what exactly - but twisted decreases really don't go smoothly for me. I found myself often needing two or maybe even three attempts to execute, which slowed down progress, which started to frustrate me.

Now, as I've said, I'm liking the result that I'm getting so far. But there is so very much of the dreaded 1x1 twisted rib in this pattern - I know, some designers really like it, Cookie A being one of them, and I did know that before starting - and while I have in the past just shoved my way through it in order to have a completed pair of socks, the extra obstacle of the twisted decreases in this one is making me reconsider. It will take me forEVER to finish this sock, and then I'll have to do a second. By the time I finish, I may not want to ever look at those socks again, never mind wear them. And what would the point of that be?

So I think this humble sock cuff is going to be pulled apart, and the yarn will be relaxed and then reknit into something that doesn't give me a twitch in my left eye after knitting a few rounds. It seems a shame to undo all that I've done so far, particularly since I like the result I'm getting, but I think it will all be better this way.

Besides, I really want to try out Double Heelix to use up some sock yarn leftovers, and I kinda sorta need those needles in order to do it. Only have two sets, the other set is in my plain stockinette sock, which now has gussets.

Perhaps I should consider buying another set (or two) of sock needles.

Really, though - I think that this sock start is on its way out.

Friday, May 25, 2012

K'done: Pop Block Wrap(let)

Ha! Victory is mine!

Pattern: Pop Block, by Veera Välimäki
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Tonal, in Nevermore
Needles: 8 mm / US 11

I know. I changed the yarn (worsted instead of DK), and changed the gauge (about 14 sts to 4", not 18), and I didn't have the yardage the designer said I would need (I had 3 skeins, which is 660 yards; pattern calls for almost twice that). I'm not the sort of person who ignores other people's instructions so brazenly.

Except. I kept looking at the sample photos, and looking at these skeins of yarn, and thinking this colourway would look terrific in garter stitch. This time around, the feeling that I should walk away from this yarn/pattern match because I didn't have the right yardage was mitigated by the fact that the yarn I had was heavier, so I could change the gauge. It seemed to me that worsted weight yarn would work up way too dense for a nice wrap at 18 sts to 4". Which would mean casting on fewer stitches to get the same width, and working fewer rows to get the same length. It seemed to me that it might work.

So I got bold, and showed the sample images to my sister - it's a wrap for her, after all - and she liked what she saw, and so I proceeded.

And got promptly smacked by gauge. I started with a 6 mm / US 10 needle. That probably would have worked for stockinette, but this is garter, and never the two shall behave the same. I worked a few inches of length, realized what I had was too firm, and pulled it apart.

Started over with a 6.5 mm / US 10.5 needle. The fabric was better, and I worked through three of the first set of pleats, and reached the end of the first skein, and realized if I continued, the piece would be too short to wrap nicely. I pulled it out again, grabbed an even larger needle, and did a bit of arithmetic, resulting in the following modifications:

I cast on 60 stitches.

I only worked three pleats per pleated section. Each pleat was 6 stitches wide, 8 rows deep, with 11 rows worked after one pleat before beginning the next within the section.

I only worked three pleated sections. The first and third were spaced 10 stitches from the side edge of the piece, the second was centered - 11 stitches after the first section, 11 stitches before the third section.

I worked about 12.5" after each pleated section before beginning the next.

When all was said and done - ends woven in and trimmed - I had this much leftover.

I'm pretty pleased with the result. In the end, it's about 49.5" long, and 17.5" wide.

Now the question is: to block, or not to block? All the pics in this post feature an unblocked piece. Normally I'm of the block everything mentality, but with this piece I'm not sure. It's garter stitch. Does garter stitch change dramatically once blocked?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Competitive streak

Yesterday I was over at my parents' place, helping my mum with some stuff.

One of my cousins is finishing junior high this year, and will be starting high school in the fall, and because she's been in an arts-intensive school for several years now, the transition is even more jarring than usual - her school doesn't feed into a specific high school, so it's not the case that all of her current friends will be at her new school in the fall. My mum wanted to get her a small token graduation gift, and was looking for ideas. I suggested that she could knit a slouchy hat for my cousin. Mum liked this idea.

So yesterday I went over there, logged into Ravelry, and showed her a few patterns I'd tagged thinking they'd be appropriate, and she picked one, and I printed it and then we packed into my car and headed to a nearby yarn shop. There, we went through all the yarn that was out on display, looking for just the right thing, and Mum ended up walking out with a ball of Berocco Remix in a tweedy sage green colour and a needle gauge. Mum had wanted to buy some simple stitch markers while we were there, but they were out of stock (WTF?), but I had figured she might need to borrow some and had put some into my bag of tricks before leaving my place that morning, so she just borrowed some of mine.

I took her on some other errands too, so it was a couple of hours later that we were back at the house, everything that needed to be had been squared away, and then Mum said to me, Let's knit, and we hunkered down in the living room to do just that.

I had brought a few different things along with me, but settled in on working on the wrap for my sister instead of starting something new. Mum fetched up some needles, stared at the pattern for a bit, and fussed with the yarn and needles for a bit checking her gauge - she didn't knit a swatch, but cast on what should have been 4" worth of stitches and then I think she knit a row or two and then measured. I'm not really a swatcher, in that I don't knit a swatch, measure, wash, block, and re-measure, but I do believe in checking gauge in an area of fabric that is not right on an edge, so watching her do this gave me a weird little gut-twist of anxiety, but I didn't say anything. She's been knitting longer than I have, and if she's found that that works for her, then it works for her. Nuff said.

Then she cast on and was off and running. And I noticed something.

She seemed to go really fast. Much faster than I remembered. I stopped and watched her for a bit - subtle, no? - and determined that part of my perception of speed was coming from the fact that she was working 1x1 ribbing - what had initially looked like her forming two stitches was actually one followed by the flip of the working yarn to the other side of the work for the next stitch.

But even then, fabric formed quickly. I think she was actually knitting for about an hour and a half, and she pretty much got all the ribbing done - she did her increase row, and then did the set-up for the main cable pattern of the hat.

And that got me wondering. How long would it take me to get to that same place? I know I'm not super fast, but do I go as quickly as she seemed to?

An idea sparked in my mind. I should knit that hat too. After all, it's one that I thought I'd like to add to my collection - you know, my collection of one that I actually like. I have some worsted weight yarn kicking around waiting to be made into a hat. I'll time myself and see if I can get the ribbing done in the same amount of time that I watched my mum do it.

I'll have a little knitty race with my mother. Without telling her.

I held off casting on to satisfy that urge yesterday. But I may not be able to hold off much longer.

After all. I do want that hat anyway.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

K'done: Damson Shawlette

Charmed, I'm sure.

Pattern: Damson, by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Dream In Color Smooshy, in In Vino Veritas
Needles: 4 mm / US 6

I knit one of these for my sister last year, November-ish, and I was pretty sure I wanted one for myself, but I really didn't know what to do about the yarn. This shawlette uses more than your average skein of sock yarn - a survey of my small stash tells me that sock yarns tend to come with somewhere roundabout 400 yards to 100 g, and this shawlette needs more than that. I had originally intended for this skein of Smooshy to become a pair of socks, but had a change of heart and decided to put it towards this pattern instead - Smooshy comes with 450 yards to 100 g, so it all worked out just fine. I had 13 g to spare.

I really like this pattern, too. It's dead easy to knit, and the end result is so simple yet elegant. I am absolutely going to be throwing this on over tops to dress them up for work (worn the way I've got it in that first shot up there), and I can also see myself using it to cover up tops that might otherwise be a bit too low-cut for work.

And I totally want to make myself another one. Trouble is, at this precise moment, I don't have any more Smooshy, and all my stashed sock yarns are either in quantities to small to make it work, or they've got nylon in them, in which case I want to save them for socks.

So at present, I have no sweater for me on the needles - still haven't worked up the nerve to cast on for the Geodesic Cardigan, though now I'm starting to think I might do something else first, just don't know what yet - and I have no shawlette for me on the needles either.

This strikes me as weird. I should fix that.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


There's a finished sweater drying on the Not-A-Table.

I'm binding off on a shawlette today.

There's still a wrap I've just started for my sister, plus that stockinette sock I started at the comic expo, but still I feel a void. The sweater void. I need a new sweater project.

And in light of that, I find myself all seized up with indecision.

As I was wrapping up the last sweater, I was telling myself that the next one would be the Geodesic Cardigan, by Connie Chang-Chinchio. I've been wanting to make this one for a while now, and even hauled off and bought the recommended yarn in the pattern, which I believe has previously never happened. My usual mode of operations involves looking at the pattern gauge, thinking a bit about how I would achieve that gauge, and then digging the right weight yarn out of my mini-stash, picking the colour I think I want, grabbing the right size needles for hitting the aforementioned target gauge, and then I'm off and running. I accumulate yarn in batches when online stores I peek in on are having sales, so the odds of me having the yarn suggested in the pattern on hand are pretty slim.

For the Geodesic Cardigan, though, I actually bought the recommended yarn with the pattern in mind - I was placing an Eat.Sleep.Knit order anyway, and they carry Malabrigo Yarn Lace, and in a colour I liked, and the price wasn't exorbitant, so I chucked three skeins into my virtual shopping basket and did my thing.

So I'm good to go for this to be my next sweater.

Too bad I'm wildly intimidated by it at the moment.

I've never knit with laceweight before. I want to, but it's new to me. I've wound up two of my three skeins into cakes, and the whole time, I was a bit on edge with how delicate the yarn seemed. It's a single, and in fact the strands stuck to each other a bit more than I'm accustomed to as I pulled off the skein for the cake. I work primarily with superwash yarns, especially merino, and those really don't stick much. This was way different, and I know I was pulling somewhat gingerly, because I also know that singles aren't as durable or strong as plied yarns, and because it's laceweight the single is really thin, and I was terrified that it would just pull apart if I tugged too forcefully.

I'm not terribly sure how I'm going to manage to knit with this when I'm so nervous about breaking the yarn.

I still want the sweater, though.

I suspect I'll get there. Eventually.

I still have that third skein to cake up.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

K'done: Chasing Snakes Socks, v. 2

Also known as the sparkly edition!

Pattern: Chasing Snakes, by Mercè Janer Olives
Yarn: Yummy Yarn Studio 80/20 Merino/Nylon Superwash Sock, in Blush
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

(Not sure why that photo has a soft focus effect - the original didn't, I did some tinkering to crop and resize in Photobucket and ended up with that. I suspect the resizing is what did it, but I'm not image-savvy enough to know why.)

I really like this sock pattern for semi-solid sock yarns - though those sorts of yarns are really great for any sock pattern. It's a fun knit, too. I don't really have any more comments on the pattern, since, well, I've done it before. Oh, but I did a tubular cast on this time, and it worked out terrifically.

The yarn was a fun diversion. Sock yarns with a strand of something reflective in them have been around for a while now, but I didn't get the urge to add any to my collection until very recently. (I say something reflective because this strand is sort of variously labelled - I've seen it called angelina, stellina, silver, sparkle, and, by critics, tinsel.) True, I generally avoid overly flashy things, but socks are small, which means they can be flashy without being obnoxious, so some flashy socks suddenly struck me as maybe fun, so I picked up some sparkly yarn to give it a whirl. One batch, from Knit Picks, I ended up turning into a shawlette for a Christmas gift. But this skein from Yummy Yarn Studio struck me as just right for this pattern.

And so I made it so.

I'm not sure what will be next, sock-wise. I mean, I've got some plain stockinette socks that I'm working on here and there - not very frequently, so it's slow going - but I mean for my next patterned pair of socks. It could very well end up being another pair of these! I feel like I should go for something new, but man. It's hard to turn away from something so good.