Wednesday, May 30, 2018

So far, so good

The adjustment I made seems to have done the trick.

The foot is not exactly like the leg, but whatever, I'm calling it close enough, and proceeding with the second sock. (As opposed to shredding the first sock into oblivion and trying to pretend it never happened while figuring out a new plan for the yarn.) Already I'm a bit apprehensive, as the pooling on the ribbing is not exactly like the first one was, though I didn't do anything like try to match the starting point to the first one, so perhaps it's no surprise that it's a bit different. Either way, I'm ready to start the fancy stitch now, which will really reveal all, but I'm due at the dentist in about 40 minutes for my ritual torture regular cleaning and checkup, so that will have to wait - I'm pretty sure I can't knit in the dentist's chair, what with being reclined so far I feel like my head is the lowest point, not being able to look at my work at all (can't glance down, can't raise up hands above my face because then I'd be blocking the big dental light), and being wildly distracted by the presence of other people's fingers and various tools and implements in my mouth.

No, I don't really like dental checkups. Mostly because they so often lead to dental work. Blech.

Monday, May 28, 2018


So the wild sock was coming together well, with the stitch pattern working with the yarn to form vague stripes. I know - I said I decided I didn't want stripes. I also said something about not wanting to do a slipped stitch motif, and yet here we are.

What's with the attitude against slipped stitch motifs? Honestly, it's a bit silly. Slipped stitch motifs will change your row gauge - they'll compress it. Notice when working a slipped stitch heel flap, the fabric you get is scrunched down vertically compared to an equal number of rows of stockinette, since the slipped stitches are being forced to cover the space of two rows, and they compromise by compressing those two rows in vertical space. My objection here is that if the sole of the sock is worked in stockinette, then the patterned portion won't work out to the same amount of fabric with a slipped stitch motif. Effectively, you end up with more sole fabric than you need, and it makes the sole pooch out when the sock isn't worn. Realistically, that's not a big deal - I'm not sure anyone else out there has opinions about the appearance of unworn socks - but it bothers me enough that I generally avoid it. The Leyburn motif is a bit different, though - you slip one of every four rows, instead of every other row, and I hoped that that would make enough difference to not set off my own persnicketiness. It's a bit early to be able to tell.

Yesterday I was cruising along down the foot, when I noticed something.

Do you see it? That giant bruise-like stretch of purples? After I finished the gusset decreases, the yarn stopped doing the vague striping thing, and started pooling miserably. I kept going, hoping the colours would start to shift, but to no avail. I got grumpy. Why was it doing this? I had the same number of stitches as I did on the leg - what happened?! Then I calmed down and thought things through a bit. Yes, I had the same number of stitches - but they're not the same stitches. On the leg I had that slipped stitch deal going on both the front and the back, and now suddenly it's just the front/top of the foot. The sole is stockinette. That means that when I do a slipped stitch row, I use up different amounts of yarn on the foot compared to on the leg, and that difference was throwing off the overall yarn consumption rate in a way that made the colours stack.

I ripped it out. I couldn't live with socks that pooled like that.

But. I didn't undo the whole thing. I wondered if the socks could be salvaged by doing a couple of extra gusset decreases. I was working these over 68 stitches, which fits, but knitted fabric is stretchy, and I wondered if I could get away with knocking four stitches out of the sole. I was sure the socks would still fit - I've knit socks over 64 stitches at this sort of gauge in the past and it's been fine - but would that be enough to get the vague stripes back?

Well. I need to put a bit more in before I can draw a firm conclusion. So far, though, it seems to have been a good adjustment.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Fine, be that way

Yesterday morning, I sat in quiet contemplation of what I'd managed to finagle on Tuesday:

I'd managed to get the yarn to stop Jekyll-and-Hyde-ing and start a sort of vague striping action, but I still felt unsatisfied.

I realized that what I really wanted to get was more mixing of the colours throughout the fabric.

So I gave up and started turning the yarn into a pair of Leyburns.

Well. A corrupted version of Leyburn - I'm knitting these top-down, and I've changed the pattern a bit too, in that the quilted pattern is worked over panels on the front and back, with a very narrow band of stockinette on each side. Because I've got the stitches divided evenly between the front and back, I wasn't able to perfectly centre the panels, but the side panels are so narrow - four stitches each - that I'm inclined to just keep going as is.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Possibly immovable

I am currently engaged in a battle of wills with some yarn.

Wait, that makes me sound deranged - how can yarn have a will when it's inanimate? Let me explain.

The yarn in question is this pretty that I scored in a mystery bag from Sweet Georgia Yarns:

That's their Tough Love Sock, in Hummingbird. As you can see, it's pretty, but it's one of those variegated skeins that have potential to be challenging in knitting, with the danger of pooling and flashing lurking in the skein. So I started thinking about how I might try to dissuade the yarn from that with stichery witchery.

Now, I know that there are some patterns out there that were designed by very clever individuals to help with precisely this goal. I didn't go looking for them. For one thing, many involve slipped stitches, which I specifically didn't want to use here. For another, I had a couple of ideas in my head that I wanted to try out.

My first attempt involved yarnovers that were then slipped for a couple of rows and then knit together with stitches further along in the fabric - the idea was to get the look of a slipped stitch, without actually slipping a stitch. It didn't work out the way I had in mind, so I ripped it (without taking a picture) but have sort of shelved the idea for later.

My second attempt involved throwing in some purl stitches, with the hope that the change in texture and the change in how the working yarn moves from stitch to stitch would help the colours mix together:

Yeah, not so much. Can you see what it's doing there? It's doing a sock impression of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - the pink and green are stacking up on one side, while the purples stack on the other, and the whole thing is very slowly twisting itself around as well. I have since pulled that out.

I have a couple other ideas to try, but we'll see. It may end up that the yarn's will is greater than mine. I should probably find a better way to phrase that.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Crack that whip

I've been chugging along on a sweater for my sister the past little while - I've got a body, one sleeve, and a neckband. Why only one sleeve so far? Because after I finished the first sleeve, I somehow couldn't jump right into the second, so instead did the neckband. I nearly moved on to one of the front bands, too, but backed off when I realized I was zooming towards a scenario in which the only thing left to do on the sweater is the one sleeve, and the thing languishes as I fail to launch that sleeve.

What is it with sleeves? Especially sleeves knit in the round. That seems to consistently trip me up and delay my sweater gratification. It makes no sense. I like knitting. I like knitting in the round. These sleeves are mostly stockinette, which isn't a problem - I totally like knitting stockinette in the round.

See? Stockinette in the round. No aversion at all, there. See, I even started the second one:

Full disclosure: I actually cast on that second sock on Monday, it's a bit bigger now, firmly into the stockinette bit.

So why am I flinching away so hard from this sweater? Seriously, I flinched so hard it never occurred to me to take a picture of it for blog purposes. That's pretty bad.

I sort of wonder if it isn't a little colour fatigue kicking in. 2018 so far has had a fair bit of sister knitting in it, which is blue-heavy. Maybe I just need a little colour whiplash to shake it off.

I'm gonna try winding some not-blue yarn and see how I'm feeling after that.

Monday, May 14, 2018

K'done: white light wrap

I know, I know. I said I'd try to be here more, and then I disappear for 12 days. Most of my holdup was due to a profound absence of pictures, but I was able to remedy that today, and now I can show you a finished thing.

Pattern: white light, by Jenny Faifel
Yarn: Fleece Artist Nyoni, in Earth (MC - the darks) and Pewter (CC - the greys)
Needles: ...I don't know. I somehow didn't put this in my Rav project page. I *think* I used a 3.75 mm / US 5, but I'm not super sure.

I finished this on 30 April, and re-stowed my interchangeable circular that I used for it, which is why the needle size detail is so fuzzy for me. The pattern suggests a 3.75 mm / US 5 needle, and while normally I don't use the recommended needle owing to my tighter knitting style, I think for a wrap I figured it wouldn't matter too much. The gauge called for is 20 sts to 4" in garter stitch, and I'm quite sure I didn't get that that's absolutely what I got in the blocked piece (this shocks me - for stockinette I'd need to use a 5 mm / US 8 needle to get that gauge) so hooray for that.

This was a MKAL, and in my usual fashion, I was a terrible MKAL participant. I didn't share progress pictures in the spoilers thread - mostly because I couldn't figure my way around taking them in a way that made my work look good, as nice sunshine and time to take advantage of available sunshine didn't coordinate well throughout April. Either I had some time but there was no sun, or the sun was glorious but I was at work. Today, though, came together nicely.

This MKAL also saw me fail to follow instructions and fall behind in my progress. I got myself caught up - not quite enough to finish before the designer's reveal, but I got it done that day, so maybe it counts?

I'm really pleased with the result - there are sections of two-row garter stripes, sections with a dropped stitch pattern, sections with some eyelet lace, and some sections of pure garter stitch. It all chugs along smoothly, and if you're someone who is prone to boredom, this wrap may offer up enough change to keep you from feeling the slog that can come on with larger projects. (You may recall that I found section 2 a bit long, but that can be wholly attributed to the fact that I had to knit it twice because I goofed.) I ended up using absolutely all of my main colour, running out at the end so the very tip of the wrap jumps back to grey for a bit - you can see it best in the first picture in this post, on the right hand side.

Yep, this was a good one - which is why, with a great sigh of regret, after taking the pictures, I folded it up and placed it in the gift stash. This piece is not for me. I can't wear it - the yarn has mohair in it, and I am apparently sensitive to mohair. I bought this yarn years and years ago, before I knew anything, really, and it seems fine enough to the touch, but as soon as it gets against the skin of my neck, arms, shoulders, it suddenly feels coarse and prickly, and wildly uncomfortable. Even the few minutes to snap the finished pictures was enough to set me itching. Now I know better, and I don't buy anything with mohair in it. But I had this yarn languishing in the stash, waiting for its destiny. It feels good to have used it, and I think this wrap is a future gift for Mister's mother, but I am left wrapless, and a little sad about it.

I guess I'll have to make another. The design was intended to help with using up scrappy sock remnants - maybe that's where I'll find mine?

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Try again

Pretty well right after I posted about sewing up seams on Tuesday, I hauled off and finished the last side seam in a pretty craptacular fashion. I know I've posted before about the strategy of pinning sweater pieces together using locking stitch markers, with the idea being that you can check out how well the pieces match up with each other, and any corrections that are needed to adjust for imperfections can be spread out along the length of the seam, which effectively hides them, instead of winding up with a whack of extra fabric on one piece at the end. I've used this strategy every time I've needed to sew a seam ever since I learned of it, and it works really well.

Until it doesn't.

Well would you look at that. I sewed the seam, looked at that wonky mismatched bottom edge, wondered briefly if I could live with it, and wove in the ends. I don't really know why I wove in the ends, because there's no way I could live with a sweater hem that looked like that when I could fix it, but it was the last seam I needed to do - I'm guessing some sort of fatigue or ennui was guiding my hands. About 45 minutes later I came to my senses, picked out the end, undid the seam about a third of the way back, and then re-did it, making a few adjustments as I went. The initial pinning had suggested that I wouldn't need to do that, but something was lying to me, clearly.

Much better.

Once I'd decided that I needed to correct that seam, my initial impulse was to just do it. Fix it, and it will look good, and no one will be any the wiser. But there have been a number of discussions in various places about the negative consequences of what we share, particularly in this age of social media. There's a clear universal desire to only present your best self in public, and of course there are reasons for that - we don't want to be judged poorly, and perfect-looking images are of course more pleasing to look at. The problem is that humans are inherently imperfect, and if a person only shares the perfect-looking glimpses of life, this can lead others to the conclusion that this individual actually is perfect - when they're not - and the observers coming to that conclusion end up focusing on their own imperfections, getting the impression that they are somehow deficient, since they aren't able to rid themselves of imperfections the way the apparently-perfect-person did.

So I snapped a quick shot of my goofy seam, and then later, a shot of it once it had been fixed. Now there's a record - I employed a strategy that should have let me avoid a bad result, I got a bad result anyway, but I was able to go back and correct it to get something I was happy with. No perfection just magically happening here.

Since then, I've added the pseudo-buttonbands to the fronts, so now all it needs is the neckband and all the ends dealt with and trimmed, and then I'll have a new sweater! I'll likely send it for one last block, for the sake of the ribbing. But then it'll be ready for wear - just in time for the warmer months.

This means it should start getting really hot soon, right?

In other news, I did manage to get a dress yesterday, but only one, because the only dresses I was able to find for the amount of money I initially thought to spend were absolutely not the sort I could wear to a wedding. So the one I got cost more than twice what I thought I was going to be spending. I like it quite a lot, though, and I may be able to wear it to the Christmas party this year, and there may be another wedding for us to attend next summer, and there may be occasions to wear it more this summer too. That helps take the sting out of the price tag.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Wardrobe enhancement

A few weeks ago, Mister informed me that we had been invited to a wedding - one of his work colleagues/friends is tying the knot.

The wedding is this coming Saturday.

I am pretty certain that I have nothing I can reasonably wear.

Now, I've been to weddings before, and I've been satisfied with my outfits for those - well, okay, there have been two that, in hindsight, I'm a little embarrassed about. But weddings just don't come up that often. The last one I went to was in 2013 (I just searched my email to confirm that), and for that one the bride requested that all the ladies wear their pinkest party dresses. I didn't have one, so I went to the mall and bought one. I still have it, and it probably still fits, but it's really bright pink, and there are etiquette rules about how one should dress for weddings, according to my Googling:

1. Do not wear white, or off-white, or any colour that is reasonably close to what the bride will likely be wearing.

2. Do not wear black.

3. Do not wear anything terribly eye-catching.

#1 isn't a problem, since I don't own any whitish dresses, but of the dresses that I have and that fit me at least somewhat, #2 and #3 are problems. Black and red are two of my go-to colours for clothing, so naturally they feature somewhat heavily in my rather small collection of dresses, and that pink one also fails on #3.

So I'll be heading to the mall in the next few days, in search of a dress. Really, I've got the idea of getting a couple, because honestly I'm not sure I'd be terribly comfortable wearing any of my older dresses anymore, and despite how infrequently I wear them, I must acknowledge that sometimes, a dress is just the thing.

I also blocked some sweater pieces, and spent some time today doing a bit of seaming.

Don't those look a bit like yarny sausages? They're the sleeves, unblocked, curling madly because they're stockinette. I gave them a nice relaxing soak, laid them out to dry, and they transformed into these:

Which are much, much easier to seam. I'm almost done - just one last side seam to go, then on to the neckband and buttonbands. Then I'll have a new sweater! That will be too warm (and possibly scratchy) to help me with my wedding-appropriate-wardrobe dilemma.

I've also finished the MKAL piece - not quite in time to beat the big designer reveal yesterday, but I did bind it off yesterday and send it for its soak today.

That's the unblocked piece, folded up and propped up with a cushion so you can see the colour patterning. This was a fun knit, and I'm pretty pleased with the finished piece, except for the fact that it's not for me. More on that later, when I write the whole thing up once it's dry and I can take some finished pictures.

In the meantime, a seam is calling my name. Oh, and so is the dryer, as it turns out.