Monday, January 24, 2011

Extreme Second Sock Syndrome

In 2008, I was really beginning to get a handle on knitting and was excited to make things for friends. One project that loomed as a rite of passage was making my first pair of socks, mostly as a warm up to contribute to a pair of Harry Potter socks for a good friend. I got an easy beginner pattern that worked really well for me as I knit my first sock (notice that- sock- singular). I finished the first one and cast on immediately for the red snitch sock for the Harry Potter pair. This led to other socks like another Harry Potter pair, my first pair in fingering weight, my first intricate lace pair, so on and so forth... and my very first sock (one sock still) lingered forgotten and sad at the bottom of my stash bin. Fast forward to a few days ago, when I was rooting around in my stash for some yarn and found the sock stashed below.
It was knit out of Cascade 220- the same grey as the yarn I used to recently make mittens for Heather, and I happened to have enough leftover to easily get a sock out of it. Excited to get this floating random project finally finished, I immediately cast on and easily finished the second sock over the weekend.
I really didn't notice immediately the difference when I first pulled them on...
but then it began to be more apparent when I looked closer (but really, not that close)....
and finally had to come to terms with the fact that my knitting has changed over the past three years. The sock on my right foot I knit this weekend- the sock on the left foot is from three years ago, and is quite a big bigger, with looser stitches and not as clean of decreases and increases, stitches picked up, the whole shebang. If it had been a comparison from project to project, it would have been nicer than two socks in the same project.
I guess it's a nice thing to be able to say, "Hey, look at how far I've come!", but unfortunately right now all I can think is I have a pair of kind of mis-matched socks.
This will hopefully forever persuade me to not leave a project and come back to it a long time later. My experiment with extreme second sock syndrome (for all you non-knitters, this is knitting one sock and waiting awhile to cast on the second- though usually not waiting 3 years) is a good kick in the butt for sure. :)
Might have to go back and re-examine all those half-finished projects in between chapters of the Iliad...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Alice in Blunderland

I was really excited after finishing the headband, and cast on for the Alice in Wonderland mittens I'm going to make for my advisor for helping me so much.
I ran in to trouble pretty much right away.
The pattern starts with scalloped edges, which worked out well enough, but the row beyond that asked for increases that put the stitch count from 33 to 65.
First time, I got up to 45 stitches. Backtracked with cup of coffee.
Second time, I realized I didn't do the first purl. Fixed it, still only got to 47 stitches. Poured larger cup of coffee.
Third time, I improvised a little bit from the pattern and was able to get up to 62 stitches.
Backtracked again and considered switching from coffee to wine.
Very carefully did the same types of increases, positive that I was following what the designer had in mind. Got again to 62 stitches. Momentary frustration followed by realization that 62 was close enough and I would just go from there and add more later where I could. Poured another cup of coffee and settled into the pattern.
After a few rows, I got that queasy feeling in my stomach that something wasn't right. I was warned that I should immediately go down a needle size or two by someone who had knit this pattern before, and didn't really think of it since I had already had so much trouble and didn't want to think about it. But that dark feeling in my gut as I kept knitting the cuff kept saying to me, "It's too big. You should measure it. It doesn't look right."
I told my gut it was fine and, naturally, kept going.
As I passed the first buttonhole and got closer to the second, just to shut that feeling in my gut up, I decided to check my gauge and prove once and for all that it was fine and it just... looked big. It would be way better once it was connected. Right?
Gauge- 9 stitches to the inch.
My gauge- 7 stitches to the inch.
Just to be sure (because we all know only measuring the gauge isn't enough of an indicator) I took out my measuring tape to see just how long the cuff was.
@(%*# &%^^&%)@_$!!!!!!
Put the mitten cuff in time out and cast on for a cowl instead.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Snowflake Headband

After work today, I pulled out a box of buttons to finish up a belated Christmas present for my Mom.The thing about this particular box of buttons is that it comes from my Grandma's sewing kit I received when passed away a few years ago. All the different buttons and notions were ones collected by her over time, put away in a tin "Yale Smoking Tobacco" box. Some of the buttons, like the ones I picked out to go on this headband, still had remnants of thread from whatever clothing she snipped them from.It was the perfect final touch on a soft, pretty headband I knit for my Mom. She might even recognize the little blue buttons I picked from the box if they came from an old shirt of hers.

Knit up on size three needles, I used the Ropes and Ladders pattern from the book Knitting 24/7. Since my Mom is ridiculously sensitive to all wool (and boy do I mean all), I used Sublime's baby cashmere with merino silk 4 ply, which works well with the pattern because of the stretchy, squishy qualities of the yarn.
Best part: The yarn was easily one of my favorite parts- super soft, super squishy, utterly delightful to knit with. The pattern was also fast and easy, and looks great when finished.
Worst part: Picking up the stitches at the top of the headband- it was really hard to get the pattern to line up exactly, and it took a couple of tries to get it right.I have a feeling that giving it to my Mom- especially after she knows where the buttons came from- is going to be the real best part about this headband. :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Splashes of Purple

There's a lot of purple going on in my life right now.
I've been working on a vest from the book Knitting 24/7 (one of my favorites- so many gorgeous patterns!) as my traveling knitting, and it's knitting up beautifully in a light purple that goes with a lot of tops I plan on pairing it with.
I'm very close to putting stitches on hold for the underarms, and if I work on this hard perhaps I can wear it one of my first days back at school next week!
I also received a beautiful pair of dark purple mittens recently for my Christmas present, knit by a dear friend.
I feel especially lucky since these are her first pair of mittens she ever knit! Very impressive, considering how many elements there are, keeping track of the cabling and seed stitch as well as the pattern.
I brought them out for a little time in the snow...
...then let them dry over my old-school radiator, ready to go again. Thank you oh-s0-much, lovely Jenelle! :)
With all this purple going on, I might need to cast on in something slightly different... or take out that lovely teal Vivian sweater that's patiently waiting in the corner for shoulders and a hood before it's (finally) done... with school starting next Tuesday, this is my last weekend to attempt to relax before the final semester of my Master's degree commences and renders me into a nervous, crazy mass of busyness.
I'm going to take advantage of it as much as I can. :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Gotta Love Break...

As the last week of my break from classes stretches out in front of me, I've been working hard at getting my last thesis paper in good shape before handing it off to my adviser for another edit. I'm also working at translating a page a day in Albert Camus's "The Stranger" from French to English in preparation for my translation exam, looming over my head as one of the few things standing in the way of me and my Master's degree.
I've also had some down time for relaxing, falling in love with Arrested Development all over again, and getting some crafty things done.These are a pair of little mittens made as Christmas ornaments for my parents this year, from the adorable pattern "Smitten" from KnitPicks. It's originally supposed to be an advent calender, with one mitten for each day leading to Christmas, but I thought a couple to add to our tree would be really fun. My parents loved them!
Specs: Knit in leftover Malabrigo from a couple of hats I made awhile ago- didn't take much yarn at all.
Best part: How adorable they look at the end, and how fast they knit up!
Worst part: Really no bad part- easy to follow pattern, simple construction, and looks adorable when completed. I was happy with the whole process!
I've also been (finally) dabbling more in the fabric arts. I received a sewing machine last Christmas, and due to my busy schedule, haven't been able to do much more than regular clothing repairs for awhile, minus a project or two. I'm changing that now as part of my New Year's resolution- doing at least one crafty thing a day. This year I'm going to focus primarily on sewing things, especially since I have so many cute patterns lined up!
As part of a warm-up into crafty fabric things, I made a few shirts for friends for Christmas presents. The first is a ballet-themed shirt for Jenelle, a beautiful ballet teacher that has a classy style all her own.I used fabric paint to paint two pointe shoes on the shirt- one on the front, one on the back, then draped some green ribbon up along the shirt like pointe shoe ribbons, and sewed them and tied them at the shoulder. I had a little trouble with the pointe shoe on the back, but overall I'm very happy with the final product, and I hope she likes it! The shirt is just a fitted long sleeve I picked up at Target, which worked well for this project.
I'll show my next shirt in the next post, along with knitting progress.
For now, I'm going to finish my coffee and put on my ice climbing gear to enjoy the lovely sun and one degree weather out at Casket Quarry! Have a great Sunday, everyone. :)

Monday, January 3, 2011

Friend and Roofing Adventures

In a break from the knitting posts, I thought I'd share a couple of my little adventures from my holiday break thus far.
I spent some time down in the cities with family and friends, including a night out with my Dad to see a lovely lady in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Ordway Theatre in downtown Minneapolis!
She was in the chorus, and I forgot how much fun it is to just sit back and enjoy a well-done, cheesy musical. She did a fantastic job dancing and singing, and the production was well done with huge sets, technicolor costumes and a superb cast!
I also got to hang out with old college friends for a girl's night of talking, chocolate, tea, and guacamole that was way overdue.
I think I'm going to need to work more time in to my study schedule this semester for a couple of visits down to the cities, because I've really missed my friends. I wasn't able to hang out with all of them, so subsequent trips are in the planning stages!
I also got to participate in a fun activity with my Dad-at the end of last summer, he and my Mom bought long strips of foam to stick in our gutters to keep the leaves out during the fall. They worked great... until the snow came, started melting and refreezing, and froze the foam inside the gutters and created giant ice dams that were really taxing on our roof.
My Dad, being the resourceful engineer that he is, thought 'Hey, my daughter is an ice climber- we can use her gear, throw her up on the roof, and she'll be able to fix it!'
Therefore, two afternoons in a row, I found myself with crampons fixed to my mountaineering boots, crowbar in hand, tied in to my Dad belaying on the other side of the roof, leaning out over our gutters two stories up pounding away at ice and foam for hours with a crowbar.
The only sad part was that this was the first time my ice gear has seen daylight this winter- hopefully I can fix that very, very soon! When we got in after it started to get dark, my poor Dad was completely pooped out. He sat down on the couch to "rest his eyes" and ended up taking a two hour nap before bed time. It was still a ton of fun to hang out with him, despite our different definition of "fun"! :)
Back to work and teaching dance up in Duluth, plus revising my second thesis paper before school is back in session. I'm hoping to get nice and organized as the new year and new semester starts off.
Granted, I say that every year, and life always seems to get in the way of to-do lists... :)