Monday, March 29, 2010

A previously undiagnosed case of second sock syndrome

I thought I was pretty good about finishing up sock projects within a reasonable amount of time. But today, when I decided to clean out my knitting baskets, I found this:

Oh my. What do we have here? Starting at the top you can see what will probably be Father's Day Sock #1. The yarn is Trekking Pro Natura (a wool/bamboo blend that wears very nicely). I tried something a bit different on this one, putting the gusset shaping at the bottom of the foot. I'm a little worried about the length of the leg. You can't see it in the picture, but the leg is really long. What can I say? I was knitting on it while watching the latest Harry Potter movie when it came out in the theater and got a bit distracted. Working our way down the middle, we've got a Lindsay out of Fleece Artist Merino Sock yarn and a Leyburn out of a Socks That Rock lightweight rare gems colorway. I know I made some mods to Leyburn after the heel, so I'll have to pay attention when I knit the second one. Rounding out the pack, we have two husband socks. On the left is the first of a pair of toe socks requested by the DH. Thankfully, he only wanted a single separate toe and not all five! On the right is a sport weight version of Nancy Bush's great pattern, Gentleman's Fancy Sock. Now I remember why I don't usually put sock projects into Ravelry: I don't like seeing them sitting there, reminding me that I should knit the second sock.

I also came across these, my most recently finished socks:

Another husband sock (this one with a basket weave pattern from one of the Barbara Walker stitch dictionaries and knit out of Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine) and Marlene.

Unfortunately, I have no motivation to knit the mate to any of these socks right now. Here's hoping the DH doesn't read this blog post since three of the socks are for him.

Of course, he's not helping either since he got me two new skeins of sock yarn this weekend.

Some more Ultra Alpaca Fine for birthday socks for Z. I'm not quite sure what pattern to use but it will most likely be something from Nancy Bush's book Knitting Vintage Socks. That is my go-to book for mens' sock patterns.

Now this is what I've been waiting for. It's Shalimar Yarns Zoe Sock in colorway Sprout, newly available at my LYS, and now destined to become a pair of Kai-Mei socks for my grandmother.

Technically, I've been on a yarn diet (I've been calling it a moratorium on new purchasing) for the past month or two since I realized how much nice stuff I have in the stash that I kept putting off as I acquired new fiber goodies. I'm actually still on that diet, believe it or not. Between learning about a fantastic new work opportunity that I'll start in a few months and realizing that the stash was not sufficient for upcoming gifts, the DH thought I could use a little treat. Lovely husband, no? That makes these yarns (especially the Sprout) extra lovely since I thought I wouldn't get to play with them for a while longer.

Don't worry that all I did this weekend was add to the stash. I finished up the second bobbin of the pink merino/silk. I'll never be a pink person but this is growing on me.

My Lilac Leaf scarf continues to grow, too. Right now, it's just a lot of leaves but the pattern hasn't gotten old yet.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Getting my act together

Once I had finished frogging Forecast, I got caught up in thinking about the endless knitting possibilities that lay ahead and fantasized about all of the patterns that I've been wanting to try out. Kerrera, this means you. I have the yarn (I've even swatched it) and buttons all right at hand, waiting for their magic Cinderella transformation into a sweater that I have coveted ever since Gudrun posted teaser shots on her blog. This sweater would be perfect for April, I thought.

And then it hit me. April starts the spring/summer gifting season here at Tinks and Frogs and I've barely started!

I sat myself down and started to plan out what was coming in the months ahead. Here is what I have so far:

Late April - birthday presents for my good friend N's daughter, little n, and her father Z (they share the same birthday). Little n has gotten handknit presents for her first two birthdays and I'm not about to stop now. Z gets birthday socks, so we'll add that to the list as well.

I've started spinning up some pink merino/silk roving from the stash for little n's present. Don't ask me yet what exactly the present is going to be.

It's really lovely stuff. Pink isn't exactly my color but I know an almost 3-year-old who will adore it.

The pre-drafted fiber makes me think of cotton candy.

It's looking very pretty once spun into singles. This is destined to be a dk-ish weight 2-ply. Thank goodness little n's mom is a knitter who doesn't mind receiving hand-wash-only gifts!

Ok, enough distractions, I've got to get back to my list.

Mid-May - Mother's day. My mom is exploring the idea of wearing lace so I thought I'd make her a Brandywine Shawl. This pattern has just enough lace to be interesting to knit but no so much that it would be overpowering. I've got this great skein of Handmaiden Camelspin waiting eagerly for me to cast on for the shawl.

The color is really a bit more subdued than what you see here (don't worry, Mom!). But look at how it glows in the evening sun. Honestly, I can't explain why I'm finishing this post instead of casting on right now.

Moving along . . . 

Late May - When the DH and I went down to Texas last week, my grandmother really liked the Kai-Mei socks that I was wearing the day we flew in. Naturally, that would make a great birthday present for her. 

Mid-June - Father's Day. My dad is always an enthusiastic recipient of handknit socks and I'm a sucker for that kind of feedback. Let's add one more pair of socks to the list. Actually, I found one dad-sock in the bottom of my knitting basket the other day so I really only need to knit half a pair.

To recap, I've got a toddler sweater, a shawl, and two and a half pairs of socks coming up in the gift knitting queue. I think Kerrera will just have to wait a bit longer.

So what did I do yesterday? Cast on for a basic fitted top-down raglan boatneck to knit while I read. I swear, I really did need another reading project.

Can I distract you, too, from my looming to-knit list? Check out this seam:

It's increase #4 from Barbara Walker's book Knitting From the Top. I'm a convert.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More tales from the frog pond

I frogged Forecast on Sunday night. Last week I was all excited about the idea of finishing that sweater. On Friday I knit the button bands and made my first mistake: I ignored the pattern and made 3-stitch button holes instead of 2-stitch ones. The buttons that I had bought were slightly bigger than what the pattern called for so I thought the 3-stitch button hole would work better. Nope.

After sewing on four or five buttons, I realized that not only were the button holes too big (so big that the buttons slipped out all by themselves) but the button bands were too long. As I tried the sweater on, I realized that the button bands were sagging at the bottom in a truly unsightly manner.

As I started thinking about ripping back the button bands and knitting them over again, with 2-stitch button holes and picking up fewer stitches along the lower ribbed section, I took a more critical look at the sweater as a whole. I realized that, as much as I've enjoyed the process of knitting this sweater, I wasn't thrilled with the finished product. The bobbles looked a bit odd on me and the garter section stretched so much around my shoulders that you could see through to the shirt underneath. No light colored tops under this one.

So I did the only logical thing:

I'm so much happier having this yarn back as a possibility of a sweater rather than as a sweater that I would never wear (and perhaps never even finish).

Now I just have to find some way to use these buttons. 

They're great, aren't they?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Sky Candy Friday

The DH and I were lucky enough to be able to take a little vacation this week so we hopped on a plane and  took off to visit family in Texas. When we got to Austin, I just couldn't get over how colorful everything was, especially the deep blue of the sky.

Blooming redbud tree

We walked around the capitol building and grounds - something we had never taken time for before. The Texas capitol is set in the middle of a beautiful park, which separates it from the rest of downtown Austin.

It seemed like everywhere we went there was something in bloom.

Tulip magnolia

The local fauna even came out to play.

We spent Monday doing shamelessly touristy things in San Antonio. Naturally, we started with a boat ride along the river (in my defense, the DH had never done that before).

We stopped to look inside the Menger Hotel, where Teddy Roosevelt had assembled his Rough Riders, before heading away from downtown.

Stained glass skylight in Menger Hotel lobby

Then we headed out to see some of the missions before calling it a day.

Our four-footed companion was very happy to see us when we got home Tuesday night.

But wait, you're probably saying, what happened to that green malabrigo lace? Not to fear, it was a productive trip:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sunny Days

The sun is certainly not out here in Chicago - it's so foggy right now that I can barely see the building across the street. But that's alright since the DH and I are headed to Texas for the next few days. It's supposed to be in the 70s and sunny most of the time that we'll be there! Can you tell I've been looking forward to this?

I've been so excited about the trip that I even started a new little lace project to take with me.

Malabrigo lace in olive colorway

This is going to be a lilac leaf scarf (rav link) from Nancy Bush's amazing book Knitted Lace in Estonia. The pattern is for a shawl but I'm cutting out three repeats to make a nice wide scarf. 

Should be a good trip!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A break from your regularly scheduled programming

The DH celebrated his birthday last week and we welcomed a new fiber hobby into the family: weaving.

This is a 24" Kromski Harp rigid heddle loom with its accompanying floor stand. We dug into my sock yarn stash and pulled out three colors of Louet Gems Pearl for him to get started.

Pretty nifty, no? I tried a couple of passes with the shuttle and can see how this would be a fun hobby. That said, I think I'd much rather receive handwoven items than actually do the weaving myself. 

Sounds like a good division of labor to me.

The arrival of the loom doesn't mean that I've stopped knitting. Quite the contrary. I've actually been knitting on all sorts of things. I just don't have any pictures to share.

My one knitting pic of the week:

We took a sock to this week's taping of Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me on Thursday night (also part of the birthday celebrations). It was a lot of fun and I would highly recommend it if you're in the area.