Monday, February 26, 2018

Just one more stripe

Some time in late 2017, in the ramp up to the Christmas gifting season - so probably somewhere in October or early November - I suggested to my sister that a couple of skeins of self-striping sock yarn would make a great gift for me. I'd seen the fun striped socks other people have been producing with these yarns here and there, for many years now, and my feelings about the fun of these projects have changed over time.

At first - in 2007 or thereabouts - I gave a mental shrug, writing them off as not super interesting because the sock is a plain stockinette sock. Snore.

Some years later - some time in 2011, if my Rav project history is any indicator - I had warmed considerably to the enduring basic charm of a stockinette sock (I think the tipping point was figuring out that these were great for cranking out while reading), and was starting to gaze appreciatively at the self-striping yarns, but worried about the colour combinations being garish, or not me.

More recently, I've come around to the idea that wild socks are not a terrible thing. So I sent my sister over to Gauge Dye Works for a look.

Come Christmas morning, I got my wish - two faboo skeins of their Merino Twist: Classic Stripe yarn. I also got a bonus - two additional skeins, complete with a Pretty, please request from my sister.

I've mentioned Pretty, please before, right? This is a thing my sister started way back in 2011. She will occasionally be moved to purchase yarn, despite the fact that she does not knit. Instead, she will hand the yarn over to me and say, Pretty, please. This means she wants me to turn it into something she will love. (She actually has a rather considerable stash at my house now.)

So my plan was to whip out a pair of socks for me right out of the gate, but my sister said something, no longer remember what exactly, but it left me with the impression that her handknit sock collection is a little lacking right now. (I really don't know what it was that would have given me that idea, and now that I think about it more, I suspect it can't be true, because two of the pairs of socks I whacked out on the Tour last year went to her.) I got one of those protective-big-sister mental cramps, and decided I could do a pair for her first. It was Christmas - a time for giving and generosity. I wound up the Purple Haze yarn and away I went.

Well. I was expecting these to be a fun trip, but they were wildly fun. There is something deeply and immensely satisfying in completing each stripe, a gratification that then prompts you to haul off and knit the next one. And the next one. And the one after that. It's just so captivating. The time just seemed to sail past, and I would look down at the piece in my hands and go, Well, that was sure productive! The continuous progression of stripes served to mark out how much had been accomplished. It was thrilling.

And then, when the second one striped up exactly like the first one? MAGIC.

Once that pair was done, I was fulfilled, reached for the yarn I'd wound up for me - and then got caught in a wave of sisterly gratitude or something, and instead wound up her second skein and hauled off on that.

Now these are nearly done too. The striping is not as precisely matched up as the last pair - I goofed a teensy bit in picking my starting point, but we can obsess over those details another day. I'm still having a hard time putting these down for other things. (Like sleeping.) I'm so wildly entertained by them, I'm starting to feel a little melancholy over their impending completion. What am I going to do once they're all knit up?

Well, obviously I'll move on to the yarns that are actually for me. But that won't last forever - I've only got two skeins, and my birthday isn't for months. What then?

Oh. Right. I've got plenty of non-striping sock yarn to keep me occupied for a good while. Plus, I may have ordered some more. Ahem.

You know, I'll probably be okay.

Friday, February 23, 2018


Yesterday, I took advantage of not being on campus (it's Reading Week) and went to the bank.

I almost never go to the bank. I wrangle all our bill payments online, the mortgage, insurance, and property taxes are all handled automagically via scheduled payments, and if I need cash or have a cheque to deposit, I visit an ATM. This works for me, except for those times it doesn't - when there's some administrative detail about one of the accounts that needs me to show up and talk to a person and sign a form in their presence, for example. A couple of these in-person errands came up, so I went to the bank.

Since it was 10:45 AM on a Thursday morning, I figured I could just waltz in there and do my business without too much trouble. I might have to wait a bit to see the right person, but that's okay - that's the price you pay when you don't plan ahead enough to have made an appointment, right? So I walked in, presented myself to the reception desk, and told the nice employee who greeted me what I wanted to do. She said, Sure thing, and then suggested that I go to the teller to do my other bit of banking business while she found someone who could do what I needed done. Great.

I went to the teller line, and waited my turn. I had a bond to deposit - a bond in the Mister's name. When I got to a teller, I handed over the bond, she pulled up the account information, entered everything into the computer, then turned the document over and said, Oh, it's not signed. It needs to be signed by the holder before it can be deposited.

I just blinked at her. Oh, I said. She turned to one of her colleagues and double-checked, and he confirmed that it needs to be signed by the holder - it didn't matter that I was trying to put it into an account with the holder's name on it as well. Since I was quite obviously not the person whose signature was needed, all I could do was meekly take it back.

I returned to the reception area, spirits dampened somewhat. The woman I'd spoken to earlier returned, with an apologetic smile on her face. As it turned out, the sort of bank employee I needed to help me with my other errand was not available - as in, none of them were in the branch. At 11 AM. On a Thursday.

Thoroughly defeated, I booked an appointment for next week.

There may be a lesson here. I'm still too peeved to learn it, though.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

K'done: Barley hat

A hat for him, modeled by me.

Pattern: Barley, by Tin Can Knits
Yarn: Knit Picks City Tweed DK, in Obsidian
Needles: 4.5 mm / US 7

I've knit a few hats for Mister before, but none of them are really ideal. The first one ended up being a bit too short. (I feel compelled to point out that it is as short as it is because he got nervous about it becoming too big as I was working on it.) For the second one, I swung too far in the other direction, so it's a little long, and he expressed dissatisfaction with the colour - where my eyes see grey, he sees what he calls girly grey. (I think there are some purple/mauve tones in there that he is more sensitive to.) The third one has honeycomb cables on it, and I think he likes it, except the wind can blow through the gaps in the cable crosses if the angle's right, and he noticed this when wearing the hat on a walk shortly after receiving it, and mentioned this as a quality one should perhaps avoid in hats. That hat is also currently lost in our house - he packed it up for a trip a long while ago, and somehow it never resurfaced after he unpacked his suitcase. I know it came home with him, because I saw it in the suitcase while he was unpacking, but I haven't seen it since.

Either way, I thought a new hat might be appreciated, so I dug out some yarn, checked that he approved of the colour choice (incidentally? When this yarn first arrived when I ordered it back in 2015, he didn't like it. I guess it just needed to ripen in the stash for a couple of years?), and wound it up. Then came pattern selection time. I knew to avoid cables, and I was also thinking he might like to add a not-ribbed hat to his collection. Pretty early in the process, I remembered this particular hat pattern, and thought the garter panel and stockinette might make for a pleasing texture shift in the tweedy yarn. I was going to knit it as a typical beanie, then one night, about a month ago, he was pulling on a hat to go outside to clear snow off the driveway and walkways, and he looked in the mirror by the door and wondered out loud if perhaps beanies weren't the most flattering style of hat for him. I suggested he might like to try a different hat shape, perhaps something with a bit of slouch? He laughed. Like a hipster hat? Knowing his disapproval of hipster fashion, I said, No, not quite that slouchy. He offered up a dubious Maybe, and stepped outside.

I took that as my cue to get a little experimental with hat shapes. Like I said, not super slouchy, but not a straight up beanie either.

This pattern is really written for worsted weight, which I wasn't using, so my gauge is not the pattern's gauge, which means I had to mess with the stitch counts to get something in the right size. If you need to do this too, all you need to do is make sure that whatever you cast on is a multiple of three - the garter texture panel is worked over one third of the stitches, and when you get to the crown decreases, you'll need to be able to divide your stitches up into six sections. I worked the ribbed brim a bit longer than written too, so that if he wanted to, he could fold it up for a doubled brim on a less-slouchy hat.

I wove in the ends last night, and presented it to him, unblocked (I was impatient), and at first he balked. You made me a hipster hat?!

I put in on him, with maximum slouch. He presented me a face full of doubts. I suggested that if he didn't want the slouch, he could fold back the brim. He did so, which made the hat more beanie-like, and he warmed to it more at that point, but then said, It feels pretty thin.

I told him that I hadn't wanted to knit a very dense fabric, in the interest of giving the fibres room to fluff up and trap air for insulating value. (Yes, I realize it means this is probably not a super wind-proof hat. Oh well. We'll see how it does.)

He wore it last night on a brief jaunt out, mostly in the car, but the car had been outside and was therefore cold, and he expressed appreciation for the hat - he likes the way it feels on his head (so I got the sizing right), and called it a nice hat. When we got home again, he pulled it off, then popped it back on again and was dismayed to see the fabric puffing up on top of his head. I pointed out that all he needed to do was pull the crown back down towards his neck, and the weird pouf would then be a nice slouch. I'm not sure he was entirely convinced of the appeal of slouchiness, but he did seem to be moving in the right direction. (He does look good in a slouchy hat.)

We'll see how much wear it gets. In any event, I quite like the way it looks on me, so I may end up making myself one, or I may end up inheriting his. Or, you know, both.

Tech specs: I did an Italian tubular cast on, which I tend to default to when working 1x1 ribbing. One of these days I'll have to experiment with this cast on for 2x2 ribbing - I know that all that needs to be done is a bit of rearranging of the knits and purls once the cast on has been worked, but I have concerns about loss of stretchiness once you effectively cable all along your cast on edge. I won't really know until I try it on something, though.

Also? I very nearly didn't knit this one because I was worried that knitting a hat pattern called Barley for a man with a gluten allergy might be wrong or sinister on some sort of cosmic or karmic level. (Barley grain is not gluten free.) Clearly, I got over it - I reminded myself that really, I'm not a superstitious person, and I have no control over what designers decide to call their patterns, and so should not let other people's naming choices affect me. If I meet a wonderful person who had the bad fortune to be given a horrible (to me) name, I'm not going to decide we shouldn't be friends simply because I don't like their name. Shouldn't that logic apply here too?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

K'done: vesica piscis pullover

Bahaha, so much for getting all caught up yesterday - I forgot one! And a sweater no less!

Pattern: vesica piscis pullover, by Jenny Faifel
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish DK, in Wonderland Heather (light blue) and Rainforest Heather (dark green)
Needles: 4.5 mm / US 7

This was a test - lucky me! I was going to say that I pounded this out while we were in BC last summer, but my Rav notes don't jive with that memory - they say I cast on on 21 July, and had it all done (probably not including blocking, I usually mark the finished date as whenever I got all the ends woven in) on 19 August. We flew out there on 3 August, so I guess I must have had some of it done before we got there. Maybe not much, though - I remember doing the colourwork of the yoke sitting in the armchair I always claim. Maybe I had just the collar done? Eh, that matters very little at this point.

I had a great time with this one - but then again, I'm not one to shy away from acres of stockinette, whether knit in the round or flat. In fact, I get to play with this knit again in the near future - I knit it to pattern specs, since it was a test, and I needed to be able to say something about yardage requirements, but the sleeves as written are not long enough for my sister's preferences. She likes overlong sleeves - she wants the cuffs to cover her wrists when she's holding her arms straight out in a zombie-style pose, which means they'll be slumped over her hands when her arms are down. I think her perfect sleeves reach the base of her thumb when her arms are down. So a few days ago she expressed some regret about the length of the sleeves on this, and I offered to lengthen them a bit for her - I'll just pull out the bind off and then knit another inch or so of ribbing. The things we do for our siblings.

Two day streak!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

I have to catch up


My last post was during TdS 2017? Really?

Clearly, something in my life got right out of hand. I'm going to vaguely blame work for my rather long radio silence here, and just try to pick up as if I'd never fallen off the blogosphere in the first place.

There's a bit of a problem with that plan: despite the crazy pace of work last semester (I know - that leaves August unaccounted for, and I honestly have no answer. We were in BC for a couple of weeks, which eats up some of the missing time, but the rest? All I can do is hang my head in shame.), I found odd moments to knit here and there. Trouble is, they're pretty far in the past now, so I haven't got much to say about them anymore, other than I liked 'em. But that kind of goes without saying, no?

So, like the title says - I have to catch up.

Pattern: Fins, by Sarah Bordelon
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll, in Scarlet
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

(I know. The red red yarn refuses to be photographed in a way that shows the texture of the pattern at all. The trials and tribulations of being a red-loving knitter.)

Pattern: Kanteletar, by Tiina Kuu
Yarn: mostly more Knit Picks Stroll, in Wonderland Heather and Black, with a bit of Invictus Yarns Master of My Feet in The Game Is On
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1 for the single colour bits, 2.5 mm / US 1 1/2 for the colourwork

Pattern: Indecisions, by Adrienne Fong
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal, in Canopy
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

Pattern: Mosaic Marbles Socks, by Kirsten Hall
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal, in Blue Yonder, and Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Fingering, in Mangled Tangled
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

Pattern: Accio, by Heidi Nick
Yarn: A Tree Hugger's Wife Sturdy Sock, in Cardinal
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

Pattern: tilted cowl, by Jenny Faifel
Yarn: madelinetosh Tosh DK, in Oak (the lighter green) and two one-off colourways from grab bags
Needles: 5 mm / US 8

Pattern: moon spots cowlette, by Jenny Faifel
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Tonal, in Thunderhead
Needles: 5.5 mm / US 9

Pattern: none, just a plain stockinette sock worked over 68 sts with a flap heel
Yarn: Gauge Dye Works Merino Twist: Classic in Purple Haze
Needles: 2.25 mm / US 1

Pattern: everyday shawl, by Jenny Faifel
Yarn: Sweet Georgia Yarns Party of Five Tough Love Sock, in Waterfall
Needles: 4 mm / US 6

Actually, this last one was the most recent, so I remember stuff. I remember stuff about those stripy socks too, but this post is already long. I'll try to come back to talk about the things I remember, and the things that are ongoing now, in the next few days. I know - promises, promises, right? I'll do my best not to lapse out again.