Thursday, June 28, 2007

a garden that needs to be weeded

Well, that's a big mess, isn't it? I've never seen a sweater in more dire need of sewing and blocking, but I think after I do that it will start to look much better. The first sleeve went much more easily than I thought it would, although I did discover that those picot edges are a real pain when done on double pointed needles. To anyone knitting this sweater or a similar one - do the round on bigger needles very loosely. Trust me.

As I start to see the end for this sweater, I've been planning which colorwork sweater I'll knit next. I've been thinking that this sweater from Poetry in Stitches would look nice in white with a blue design. And maybe Crichton could be resurrected in black with a gray design? Don't answer that, I think I'm being crazy again.

(Jessica reminded me to add that of course both of these potential sweaters would have waist shaping, and I'm thinking set-in sleeves for both, too. I love the charts, but the lack of tailoring isn't really for me.)

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Monday, June 18, 2007

a sock-filled monday

What is it about socks? First, Jessica sent me some Cascade 220 sock yarn in the mail. Next, I went to my local yarn store and discovered a whole new section of sock yarn, including some Scheepjes. The very next day I found myself checking out both Knitting on the Road and Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush from the library. At that point there was no hope for me.
The Cascade 220 sock yarn looks very misleading. Each ball is oly about the size of a kiwi, but I was able to get a sock out of each ball, with enough left over to add maybe two inches of ribbing to another pair of socks. When purchased, the yarn looks horrible - twice the diameter of sock yarn, and really nubbly. As you knit, however, your tension will stretch the yarn so that it becomes the typical weight, and is very smooth in the sock. Some people hate having to tension the yarn to make it do this, so if you're thinking of trying it out you might want to only buy one ball to experiment with. I didn't find it a problem, but it did hurt my hand more than knitting with wool.

I chose Child's First Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks. This was my first time knitting a Nancy Bush pattern, and wow - absolutely the best sock pattern I have ever followed. I actually don't think I changed anything in the pattern, which is a first for me. If I were to knit these again, I would, however, probably change the heel flap. I don't think it covers enough of the back of the heel in order to help with wear and tear, but who knows, I could be wrong.
The stitch pattern looks complicated, but once you get going, it's very easy to follow. I was expecting charts and was a little surprised to see that the pattern was only written out, but it's only 10 rows, so if you really want a chart it would not be a big deal to do it yourself. I found it was intuitive enough that after one repeat, I didn't need to even look at the instructions, much less chart them out.

And the Scheepjes...oh Lord, the Scheepjes. This is the best sock yarn I think I have ever used in my life. It's very easy to knit, frogs like a champ (trust me), becomes even softer after being washed, and blooms nicely while keeping its stitch definition. It's also one of the cheaper sock yarns that I've seen, which is always nice, and it comes in plenty of solid colors. I've never really gotten behind the whole variegated sock yarn thing.

I used the New England pattern from Knitting on the Road. For some reason, it took me about twice as long to knit these than it usually does, but it was well worth it. It's funny, because if you were to ask me to describe a sock based on New England I would never have come up with this, but after it was completed I realized that it is exactly like my perceptions of New England. The traditional, yet slightly antiqued quality of the off-white; the slight fussiness of the lace ribbing down the sides; the strong, simple, yet graceful diamonds down the front. I just love them.

New England sock tries to escape into a lobster trap from Massachusetts

And finally, a bit of a cheat. I realized that I'd never really photographed the Buds and Blossoms socks by Katherine Misegades, so I took some quick pictures. The pattern is from a booklet I bought at the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival, called The Tongue River Farm Sock Collection. All of the patterns use stranded colorwork and are really lovely. I have plans to knit all of them some day, but will probably hold off until the weather cools down.

I used some of the last bits of the cranberry yarn from the Crichton cardigan, along with some of the white (the white will never die - I still have a bag full of it). I followed the pattern exactly, since this was the first time for me doing this type of heel. As far as I know, Katherine Misegades invented it, which is pretty cool - I certainly couldn't have done it! It fits nicely on the foot, but for me it was so hard to execute that I think I might try a different heel on the next pair of socks I make from this booklet. Katherine was so nice and helpful in her emails to me that I feel bad after giving up after just one pair, but believe me, short rows are just not my friend. They really do flow into the pattern nicely, though.

If you do knit these socks, don't be shocked when you've finished. They look really strange when laid flat - the short row heel seems to not even exist. It all works out once they're on your foot, I promise.

Stay tuned for an update on my Poetry in Stitches cardigan. Don't worry, it's not frogged, nor does it need to be - I'm just mad because it turns out that sweaters go really slowly when they're knit with a gauge of nearly 9 stitches per inch. Who would have thought?

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Monday, June 11, 2007

my own smoke signal

It is amazing to me how easily I can go outside and find flowers to match my knitting. It's a testament to the beautiful colors in Morehouse Merino yarns (in this case, persimmon and cranberry).
I whipped up this hat in just a few hours. The Poetry In Stitches cardigan and I are not currently on speaking terms, and while searching for a new project, Rebekkah reminded me that I had a pattern for her very lovely hat, Smoke Signals. The pattern is deceptively easy and was easy to memorize. I would recommend this very highly for anyone who would like to practice their stranded colorwork. There are no long gaps between colors, which makes stranding easier, and at a gauge of 5 stitches per inch the work goes very quickly. The pattern is very easy to follow, and the only change I made was to knit a 1x1 ribbed band instead of a rolled brim. I have an inexplicable fear of rolling - I think it may have to do with my controlling tendencies. To jump on the bandwagon, check out the right sidebar in Rebekkah's blog.

I tell myself very firmly that jumping on the bandwagon is exactly what I'm doing - certainly not falling off the cardigan wagon. No, sir. Regardless of the fact that I may or may not have obsessively knitted two pairs of socks, with plans for two more. Or dragged out the sewing machine and started to learn to quilt. Or halfway finished a men's sweater and a seed stitch scarf. You get the idea.