April 10, 2013
a consolation prize
posted by soe 2:03 am
Look at what arrived in the mail today, smelling slightly like jelly beans through its packaging:
That would be my prize for the first round of Sock Madness (posing here with the second sock of the pair, currently in progress). It’s two bars of soap homemade by Julie in one of my favorite scents, violet.
But, Sprite, I can hear you say, weren’t you eliminated from competition in that opening round?
I was. But Sock Madness is one of those events where prizes are awarded at the discretion, kindness, and amusement of its moderators and for a wide assortment of reasons. (Mine was for persevering with the competition through difficult personal times.)
I’m still a little disappointed that I couldn’t have knit more/faster while in Salt Lake, but the sweetness of the prize and the generosity of the moderators (and the pattern designer, who helped me come up with a solution to the boneheaded mistake I made while trying to knit through exhaustion and stress) takes the bitterness out of my failure. It’s a true consolation prize.
April 3, 2013
works in progress
posted by soe 2:37 am
March was a particularly quiet month here on the blog — probably the least post-filled in its eight-year history.
There are a variety of reasons for that, but I won’t bother making excuses. Instead, I’ll just vow to resume writing here more often — and on broader topics than just the weekly notice of beautiful things in my life.
To begin, I offer you my two works in progress:
The book, Mrs Queen Takes the Train, I began months ago, and it’s now past the return date. D.C.’s generous policy means that it really needs to go back in the next week, so I’ve been working on wrapping it up. As my mother (who started the book after me and still finished long before I picked it back up) predicted, while the beginning is a bit slow, it picks up once Queen Elizabeth II finally exits the castle. The book is told from the perspective of more than half a dozen characters, which makes for a certain amount of story time shift and of retracing of plot. But generally I’m enjoying the novel.
The knitting is this year’s first pattern in the annual Sock Madness competition. This is my fifth year participating and the second time I haven’t advanced out of the opening round. (Interestingly, the other time also involved a trip to Salt Lake.) The pattern is called Sockdolager, and the yarn might be Trekking, but is definitely one of a trio of sock yarn purchased from A Tangled Skein before they went out of business earlier this year. (The other two skeins were Rudi’s picks.) My goal is to be done with this second sock before the winning knitter finishes her final pair — probably some time in late-May or early-June (giving me plenty of time to work on a belated shawl for my grandmother, just as soon as I find yarn for that project).
November 26, 2012
posted by soe 4:21 am
T’is the season for a festive pair of socks:
The yarn is Wisdom Yarns Marathon Socks North Pole line in the Candy Cane colorway. Plain stockinette made on 3mm needles. Knit mostly at concerts and baseball games between Summer ’11 and Fall ’12 where the ability to knit in the dark or without paying much attention to my hands was important.
In case you can’t tell, they are sparkly, which makes me very happy.
November 6, 2012
posted by soe 3:08 am
If you were my
and my fingerless mitts
and five pairs of socks, where would you be hanging out waiting for me to find you?
When it was just the hat and mitts missing, I thought they could be in the pockets of something I’d neglected to check, but the addition of the socks in the same color family suggest they were the final wash of the season and I put them someplace “safe” but separate from the rest of my woolens.
And I don’t know where that safe place is.
Please, knit goods, all of you together yell very loudly at exactly the same moment and I will come find you!
October 15, 2012
posted by soe 2:03 am
I finished my Olympic Affection late last month just in time to take it with me to Salt Lake. We headed up into the Wasatch mountains one day and I brought it along, both for warmth on a cool, damp autumn day high above sea level and to capture a few shots for posterity.
We drove up amidst fiery scrub oaks and golden aspens, through a bit of sun and a smidgen of a shower until we paused in Sundance before a wooden gate just begging to be a photo backdrop. We disregarded the no trespassing sign (our apologies, Mr. Redford) and popped out of the car and into the field for a few pictures:
I have worn the shawl nearly every day now since its completion. It ended up being less deep that I’d expected (I never did check the row gauge), so I can wear it like this or wrapped a few more times around my neck in a more scarf-like fashion.
I know some of you liked the more calming colors of the original Color Affection, but I wanted vibrant and eye-popping and the colors of the yarn I ultimately settled on (after much assistance from Rudi, Mum, and two Connecticut yarn store folk) make me so happy I can’t help but smile when I look at it, whether it’s in pictures, wrapped around me, or shoved in my bag (as it is during the warmer hours of the day).
The purple yarn is Cascade Yarns Heritage Silk (a merino-silk blend) in what some stores term Plum (5633), the red is Dye Dream Dream Socks (a merino-nylon blend) in Cranberry, and the orange is String Theory Hand-Dyed Caper Sock (a merino-cashmere-nylon blend) in Marmalade. The orange, which has hints of purple and red in it without ever fully switching colors, was a last-minute substitution after I discovered the hot pink I’d originally wanted to use shot the color combination over into Sunday funnies hues. The other colors came out of my stash, but the String Theory was purchased at Creative Fibers in Connecticut specifically for the shawl.
I knit most of it on a 4mm needle, but cast on and bound off with larger sizes to keep it stretchy. I also switched the bind-off, given my earlier trouble keeping things stretchy, to a yarn-over bind-off. I blocked it minimally depthwise (I’d heard warnings not to overstretch the garter stitch) and more severely along the edges.
And, since I failed to give you a laid-out finished shot, you get one on the blocking mat, which measures 5′x3′ to give you some perspective:
I love it and would definitely make another one. Short of remembering to keep the floats looser along the edge than seemed wise at the time, it was a very simple pattern and makes a lovely addition to my wardrobe.
August 14, 2012
surprise ravellenic games success
posted by soe 2:45 am
I wrote yesterday about how I had failed to finish my Color Affection shawl in time to qualify for the Ravellenic Games. What I failed to mention was that the knitting I did during the Olympic Games was not without its fruits.
Last year I began a Lace Rims shawl for Mum’s Christmas present, but I ran out of time before I ran out of yarn, which meant that she received a three-quarters-finished shawl under the tree. I brought it back home with me intending to finish it quickly. We all know how these things go, and, while I knit a row or two on it sometime over the winter, basically I let it sit in favor of new projects.
Fast forward to the first week of the Olympics. Color Affection had run into some issues and I thought I needed a 4.5mm needle to fix one of them. The only needle I had in that size was holding Lace Rims, and I thought it made the most sense to polish it off before I got to work on my own shawl.
First, there was the mishap of figuring out where I was in the pattern. Forgetting each row ends with an additional knit stitch caused a few hiccups, resulting in some ripping.
The yarn is Wolle’s Yarn Creations Color Changing Cotton 6-Ply (in, I believe, Misty Lagoon). It consists of six unplied strands of cotton that change from light to medium to dark over the course of 320 yards. Only one strand changes at a time, but when it does, it’s knotted to the next color.
I knew I was short on yarn and that I did not have quite enough to complete the pattern repeats as written. However, when I reached the end of the last full repeat I knew I could fit in before the border, one strand was still in the medium green, and I still had a bunch of yarn left.
I really wanted the border to be all one color.
So I did what any dedicated knitter would have done. I unwound the remaining yarn in the ball, measured off the yardage the pattern said I needed for the border, and looked at what I had left. There was still quite a bit of yarn left — enough, I thought, for two more rows, which would get me past the final knot and into the dark green on all six strands.
You can already see where this is going, right?
This was not my first knitting project, so I could see the potential for disaster, too, and so I decided to hedge my bet by putting in a lifeline (essentially, a long piece of yarn run through a row of stitches, particularly in lace work) before those two final rows.
Thank goodness I did, because this is how close I got to the end of the bind-off before I ran out of yarn:
So, back I ripped to the lifeline. I put it back on a (smaller) needle and began the bind-off from there (eight rows shorter than the pattern calls for).
Let me pause here to mention again that this yarn is unplied. When knitting with it, it was fine. Occasionally I’d bisect the strands instead of going through the stitch, but really not a significant amount more than when normal.
Crocheting with the yarn, however, is another ballgame entirely, particularly when I reached the part in each scallop where you had to pull the stitch through four loops at once. Not fun. Not an enjoyable process.
But eventually I did succeed:
A completed shawlette:
It does look pretty, particularly with the beads in the border. I opted for two colors, a dark green that matched the yarn at the end of the skein and a lighter, sparkly one that matched the beginning of the skein.
The shawl qualified for the Ravellenic Games knitalong in the WIPs (works in progress) wrestling category.
But, more importantly, Mum finally got her Christmas present back:
(Thanks to Mum, who took several of these photos for me and emailed them this afternoon, when I realized I didn’t have any of the shawl as a whole.)
August 13, 2012
ravellenic affection status: fail
posted by soe 2:22 am
The Olympic Games ended earlier this evening with a fun, music-filled closing ceremony. I have spent way more time in the past two weeks parked in front of the tv than I should have. I watched a lot of sports, from swimming to track & field, from volleyball to basketball, from rhythmic gymnastics to water polo. And I did a lot of knitting on my Ravellenic Games project.
That would be my Color Affection Shawl.
I’ll be ripping out quite a bit of it starting tomorrow.
See that bunchy edge? It’s not supposed to look like that.
The culprit would be the yarn I’m carrying up the side for the color changes. Even though I was trying really hard not to make it too tight, clearly I did.
I had deluded myself this was something I might be able to solve during the blocking process, but early this morning I realized that what was more likely to happen is that I’d catch the edge of the finished shawl on something and it would snap, leaving me with a big problem.
So, I’m sucking it up and ripping it back to at least the beginning of the three-color section. The two-color section is also tighter than I’d like it to be, but I still feel like that part might be remedied by blocking.
I’ll get my shawl yet, just not today.
July 28, 2012
ravelympics progress: opening ceremony
posted by soe 3:37 am
I decided on the yarns for my Color Affection, drawing somewhat on a suggestion from my mother. She thought reds and oranges, like in a sunset, would fit the bright color combination I was looking for.
Rudi and I pulled out a bunch of my yarns tonight and decided on three. One is a merino-nylon blend in a cranberry color, one a merino-tencel blend in wild rose (a cheerily bright pink that borders on neon), and the third a merino-mulberry silk blend in a purple that a bunch of online vendors refer to as Italian plum.
I apparently cannot, however, follow a simple pattern while watching an engrossing performance like the Opening Ceremony, because I screwed up the pattern in the third row and continued merrily and wrongly along for the first inch or so. Also turns out that I correctly suspected that the needle called for wouldn’t give me gauge. That’s not usually a problem when you’re knitting something like a shawl, but, in my case, it would have meant I ended up with a smaller wrap than I was hoping for. So messing up so early on turns out to be a blessing.
I look forward to casting back on tomorrow with a needle one size up to see if that’s enough to fix it. I hope it will be, but I’ll measure early to verify. We’ll consider this our first heat — not placing first, but enough to carry on.
July 26, 2012
an olympic effort at knitting
posted by soe 2:21 am
As you know, the Olympics begin on Friday, which means that I have slightly less than 48 hours to figure out my knitting project to work on during the Games.
As with every Olympics since 2006, knitters, crocheters, weavers, and spinners around the world will begin a new project or pick up a long-lingering one with the intention of completing it before the torch is extinguished at the end of the closing ceremony.
The first time this massive knit-along was conducted it was known as the Knitting Olympics — a brainchild of the Yarn Harlot. In 2008 and 2010, the field of play expanded to include crochet and moved to Ravelry, where we dubbed it the Ravelympics. This year, due to a cease-and-desist order from the U.S. Olympic Committee (accompanied by a poorly thought out letter that ended up eliciting a slew of bad press before an apology was issued for the wording), the knit-along once again has changed names. We have henceforth dubbed it the Ravellenic Games.
I already have the project I’m going to work on picked out. I’m going to knit a Color Affection shawl.
What hasn’t been decided is what colors to make it with. I’d like to use up some of the yarn I already have on hand, as it calls for three skeins of sock weight yarn, and, frankly, I have a lot of sock weight yarn. My solid/semi-solid choices are decidedly more restricted than would be my variegated options, but I think I like the way a one-color yarn works more than a multi-colored one in this instance. And I’m not above a trip to the yarn store to supplement the stash, but I’d like to rule out what’s at home first.
Normally I’d go for three bright colors — probably blue, green, and purple — but the completed shawls on Ravelry [apologies if you can't access that link] suggest that picking at least one neutral/dark might make for a more striking accessory. Unsurprisingly, neutrals are few and far between in my stash (and life), so if I go that route, I’ll likely need to hit the store.
So, if it were you making/buying this shawl, what colors would you pick? Leave a note in the comments to help a girl out.
July 16, 2012
sock ‘em, block ‘em
posted by soe 2:54 am
Back at the end of May, on the final day of Sock Madness, I finished this pair of socks from earlier in the competition.
But it took me a while to block them (dry them in a stretched out fashion to even out the stitches), and then even longer to photograph them.
They are knit using the mosaic technique, which means that although the socks are knit using two colors of yarns that you are never actually knitting both colors in the same row. On one row you knit all the stitches that are supposed to be in one color (red, for instance) and you slip from one needle to the next all the stitches that are supposed to be in the other color (white, in this instance).
So while this isn’t fair isle knitting, it is still colorwork and, as such, these are my first finished colorwork objects.
Mosaica, knit with Shibui in ivory and Koigu in P607 and P602 (two very similar but slightly different colorways) with 2.75mm needles.