Thursday, May 31, 2007

FO: Craftaholic Orchid Socks

Pattern: Craftaholic's Orchid Sock pattern
Yarn: Woolarina Superwash Sock
Needles: US 2 for the first 4 inches, then US 1
Modifications: This is a toe-up pattern but I knit it top down, without reversing the row order. Also, I only used the lace pattern on the front, with extended ribbing followed by stockinette stitch in the back.
Here is a view of the back. The extra ribbing and stockinette in back was inspired by Nancy Bush's Canal du Midi pattern that I knit up in April.

One thing that I love about these socks is the striping on the bottoms of the feet.

I really can't say enough about this yarn. It felt like soft Koigu with similar twist. I love the striping too, although it only striped when I knit on US 1s, pooling a bit on US 2s. Since these are for me, I'll be able to give you a review of how the yarn wears later this year - a bonus!

I'm horribly behind on Bloglines, please forgive me! I've been reading everything but haven't had much time for comments. I'll get back next week when school starts up again and I'm not on full-time baby care. Speaking of which, how do you stay-at-home moms do it? I'm exhausted and crazy from two weeks of sitter-free baby duty!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Things I Do to Jacques in the Name of My Kid

Bike trailer test driving!

Jacques asks what he did to deserve this...

Knitting content later this week!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

FO: Flore Hat in Knit Picks Shine Sport

A baby hat in four days, can you believe it? That's like taking a week to knit a bootie! This is one serious hat! Unfortunately, while I was quite sure that B's head was 17", she has apparently grown a bit since that measurement so that hat is too small. No matter, it will go to a baby due in late summer. Nevertheless, Beatrix will be your model because she's all I have on hand. :-)

Pattern: Flore by Knitwhits
Yarn: Knit Picks Shine Sport, remnants from other projects (colors: Violet, Orchid, Blush, Apricot and Grass, I believe)
Needles: US 4
Modifications: Since the suggested yarn was Tahki Cotton Classic which is a bit heavier than Shine Sport, I swatched, made some calculations and cast on 90 instead of 114 sts.

First of all, let me just say how much I love the finished product - it's unbearably cute, cleverly designed and interesting to knit. Baby Kaya has a great one too in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino too. The construction is well thought out and the petals are joined by a k2tog row, which cuts way down on the seaming. With those qualification, I must say that only a really, really, really special baby will receive one of these hats from me because both the knitting and finishing were, as Theresa suggested yesterday, "fiddly". That's nothing against the pattern authors at Knitwhits, it's just the nature of the beast. I can't think of any pattern modifications that would make this less painful to knit, but be forewarned that this is certainly a slogalong project.

To begin with, the pattern calls for two 16" circular needles and a set of DPNs. That's fine if you happen to own all of those needles in the appropriate size but I didn't and there's no way that I would ever buy so many duplicate needles for a baby hat (maybe for a sweater but certainly not for a baby hat). Thus, I was forced to fudge it a bit. I knit each new petal on DPNs and put the lower parts of the hat on a 32" US 0 circular. Why? Because that's all I had - it essentially functioned as a stitch holder, although I admit I spent a lot of time transferring pieces from one needle to another, something that might not have happened if I had not been too cheap to buy more needles. If you decide to make this hat, I guarantee that it will be easier if you follow instructions and use all of the suggested needles.

The finishing seemed to take forever, although my patience for end weaving and the like is minimal. Each layer had six tips to tack down so that the petal would lie flat. Six tack downs multiplied by five... that's a real drag, if you ask me.

So there you have it: an absolutely adorable hat can be yours with a little crankiness and a lot of finishing! Take it for what it's worth!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Quick Break from Socks: Flore

When I saw Sophia's Flore hat, I remembered how had intended to make one for Beatrix so I quickly download the pattern, collected some Shine Sport remnants, did some math and cast on. I needed a bit of a reprieve from sock knitting and baby hats are fast knits, right? Well, it turns out that this particular hat is not such a quick knit, although it does beat socks. It's like knitting four baby hats in one. (duh)
I'll have a couple comments about the actual pattern when I blog about the FO later this week.

Until then, I'll be enjoying the nice weather (guilt-free) with Aaron and Beatrix. There must be something about the end of the semester and bike rides...

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Celebratory Knitting

This week I took two finals and handed in a 5-page paper and an 80-page paper. I'm officially done for the semester and done with my masters degree. Commencement is tomorrow but it will be a bit anticlimactic, since I still have to take more science classes to meet the medical school entrance requirements.

Needless to say, I celebrated with a few rows of sock. I present one finished Orchid Sock. The second is already on the needles.

This picture shows the lace pattern a bit better.

Even though this yarn was probably not the best choice to show off the lace pattern, I love the striping shown here.

Instead of knitting the lace pattern on the front and back, I knit the back the same way the Canal du Midi Socks were made, mostly to give the sock some stability.

I enjoyed knitting these socks so very much! As I've told some of you, I will be sad to finish the second sock!

My secret pal, whose last two packages been waiting for me after each of my last two organic chemistry, struck again. This time? Four hours after my organic chemistry final. If it weren't for the Australian postmarks, I would swear that my pal is in the class with me because her timing is freakish.

This time, she sent a Jo Sharp pattern book, three wonderfully soft balls of Alpaca Silk Georgette and some chocolate wrapped in the prettiest paper!

Although I had heard great things about Jo Sharp patterns, I'd never leafed through one of her pattern books. I must say, this pattern book is definitely my style. You all know how often I knit adult sweaters (have I even made one since I started blogging?) but I'm itching to cast on for several from this issue! Unfortunately, I can't find any pictures of the mitts and stockings that my pal suggested for the yarn. Maybe I'll have to knit them. Thank you so much, secret pal!!! You are totally amazing!

Finally, both Emily and Jen tagged me for that 7 Random Things About You meme that's flying around blogland. I'm conflicted about memes because I don't like when they replace real knit blog fodder (personally, I'd rather see what you knit than learn about your freakish talents or strange pet peeves, even if that means you only post once a month). Read on if you so choose. I'm not going to tag anyone else (much to the annoyance of Minty) but feel free to post your own you like.
1. I grew up on Cape Cod.
2. I begged to go to boarding school and loved every minute of it. Cape Cod was that awful (pretty, yes, but an intellectual wasteland nonetheless).
3. When I went to college at the University of Kansas, my grandmother referred to it as a study abroad period.
4. I live happily without both meat and television (until Beatrix, I lived without dairy and eggs too). I firmly believe television is the root of all evil. I won't judge you if you like it but if you can't carry a conversation without talking about TV shows, my eyes will glaze over and I'll politely excuse myself from the conversation.
5. I'm a New York Times Crossword junkie. Like Bill Clinton, only not nearly as good. Have you seen the Bush crossword? It's good. ;-)
6. I don't run on the Kansas River levy (the best running surface in town) because one time, a lone female runner who was really far out got stalked by a mountain lion at 5 a.m. Even though I would never run at 5 a.m., alone on the levy or that many miles out, I still fear mountain lions.
7. Whenever I ride out of town, I think about how nice it would be to live in the country. Then, I think about snakes and mountain lions. That's the end of that fantasy. I'm such a New Englander.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Orchid Socks and Upcoming Blog Contest for Grapefruit Socks

The good: Orchid Socks are knitting up beautifully and I really love this colorway from Woolarina.

The bad: Studying for final exams and finishing up a directed readings paper is really chewing up my knitting time this week.

The ugly: OK, so some of you don't think the Grapefruit Socks are all that ugly but I do. The last straw came when Aaron referred to them as my Ronald McDonald socks. I've decided that these socks and my wardrobe will never coexist peacefully so I've decided to have a blog contest and give them away. I'll finish the length to the winner's foot measurements (provided your feet aren't bigger than a women's US 10 so I don't run out of yarn). I'll post contest details in the next two weeks, when I'm closer to finishing the pair. Stay tuned.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Woolarina Grapefruit Socks and Knit Picks Catalogs

<------- Begin Cranky Post -------->
Have you ever landed on someone's blog and thought, "Oh man, what was that blogger thinking?" Well, I'm that blogger this week ! I know some people like this kind of project but for all of you out there who are cringing, I'm right there with you. Give me solid sock yarn any day. Nevertheless, I am interested in how the striping is turning out. I used a short-row heel and knit the heel from the other end of the ball in an attempt to maintain the established striping pattern.

There has been a little surprise with this yarn. Do you see the inch of green? It was difficult to photograph but rest assured, there is an inch of green thrown in. I don't mind too much, since my expectations of the project in general are rather low. Perhaps that will be how I'll tell right from left?

You can really see the pooling capabilities of this yarn in the cake, now that I've used up quite a bit.

I just received the new Knit Picks catalog this week. Am I the only one that thinks the modeled sweaters in their catalogs look like droopy potato sacks? And some of the sock patterns they feature? *shaking head* KP sells some great yarns but I think they need to hire better marketing folks. Or at least, marketing folks who are at the same time skilled knitters. You can find far superior examples of Knit Picks yarn in action on Flickr and frankly, that's just sad. They should be able to put out a catalog superior to a Lion Brand one, don't you think? Well, that's what I think.

<------- End Cranky Post -------->

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Pooling Grapefruit Socks

Here is what remained of the sock yarn for my in-laws' socks. Four socks and this is all the yarn I have left. You can see why I was worried about not making it!!

My Grapefruit Socks are definitely pooling in spite of knitting with two skeins, as Stacey predicted. Surprisingly, I don't hate them. Not yet, at least. And really, what do I care anyhow? These socks are getting me through through exams! Their intended purpose is not to sit in my bag looking pretty. I must remember that.

In other news, a few weeks back, I realized that there was a mistake with the Secret Pal 10 swap and I had two spoilers! Well, Christine ended up getting reassigned but she sent me stuff too! Some coffee, some of her own hand-dyed wool in an absolutely beautiful blue and personalized stitch markers!

Can you see those stitch markers? She used pictures of me and Beatrix from my Flickr account!!! That is so cool. I wonder how she did it? I will definitely treasure these stitch markers! I should put them to use in upcoming baby knits too! How sweet is that lady? You should all stop by her blog and see that kid of hers! He's such a cutie with all that great hair!!!

Thanks, Christine!!!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

FO: Gentleman's Fancy Socks

Thank you so much for your input about the ribbon on the baby tank. I haven't decided what to do yet but Toni had the bright idea to tack the bow down! Why didn't I think of that??? Of course! I might try tacking the bow down in front first before turning it around to the back. There's something about a bow in back that screams 1986 to me.

I was looking forward to running a 10K last weekend but I woke up on Sunday to thunder, lightning and a heavy downpour. I'm still pretty disappointed about it because there aren't many 10Ks in my area and it's my favorite distance. I'm thinking of running one in Kansas City in early June, although the logistics of getting to the race and dealing with baby care might make that impossible. We'll see. Instead of running this weekend, this is what I did:
That swift and ball winder is addicting!

I finished the Gentleman's Fancy Socks this weekend. I apologize that every picture of these shows a different color - navy blue is impossible to photograph!!!

Pattern: Gentleman's Fancy Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush
Yarn: Lang Jawoll in 85.025 (navy blue)
Needles: US 2, US1
Modifications: I don't care for leg shaping so I knit the cuff and the first repeat on size 2 needles and then switched to size 1s for the desired shaping. It worked out very well.

You should see how little yarn I had left over. Maybe I'll get a picture of that for later this week. It was really astounding. Both pairs of socks for my in-laws really came down to the last few yards!
There are two new pairs of socks on the needles, both using Woolarina sock yarn. The first is Craftaholic's Orchid socks in Raspberry. Instead of doing a lace repeat in front and in back, I chose to do it in front with ribbing halfway down the back followed by stockinette stitch like the Canal du Midi socks.
The unblocked version looks all crumpled but check out some of the other Orchid socks on Flickr. That Craftaholic has some great sock patterns!

This yarn is also Woolarina in Grapefruit. I bought this ages ago because I loved the colors. At the time, I must have forgotten my contempt for the pooling that so often comes with variegated yarn. The yarn has been languishing in stash because I didn't know what to do with it. Since the Orchid socks require more attention to knit than I'd like, I thought I'd start a mindless ribbed sock for reading/studying with this yarn. Of course, I've taken every precaution and I'm alternating between skeins to minimize any pooling. It's going well so far, although I'm only a few inches in. Perhaps you'll see some pictures later this week. I think I'll try 4-5 inches of ribbing followed by plain stockinette. I've never made a stockinette sock so this will be a first!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Why a Cute Ribbon Tie Isn't Such a Great Idea for a Baby Sweater

Do you think it would look strange if I turned the tie around to the back of the tank? *sigh*

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Gifted Ribby Cardi

Theresa of Knitting Underway fame posted last week about her dissatisfaction with her Ribby Cardi and asked if anyone would be interested in it and she sent it to ME! Can you believe it? That Theresa! I'm going to find something really nice to send her!

The cardi is absolutely beautiful and it fits too, although I won't likely wear it until it cools off again in the fall. I had an audience as I took pictures of it for you:

Something about that head popping up from the neck of the sweater made me laugh. "Oh, are you taking my picture? Oh OK, I'll pose..."

Thanks so much for sending it, Theresa! I'm sure it will see lots of use next fall and winter!!

I also just received a skein of Posh Yarns Emily in "Tickly" from Elaine! It's so soft! I don't know what I'll make with it just yet. Either a pair of socks or maybe some baby booties and hat sets. We'll see!

Thanks, Elaine!!!!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

New Gadgets!

Well, you all guessed what little B was doing in my last post. Heh. As Jess said, "There goes that Mother of the Year award!" Oh and speaking of Jess, you all need to go over to Ravelry and check it out. Rachel said just about everything I have to say on the matter. I think it's the best thing to happen to the online knitting community since Knitty. Go sign up! It's free.

I'm glad so many of you like the list of links I posted last weekend. I said last week that I often gravitate towards blogs that have lots of pictures. This is not to say that I don't read others or that I read only picture-heavy blogs. Sara over at let me explaiKnit is one of my favorites and she never has any pictures. There are also some blogs with great photos that I do not read, primarily because I dislike the written content (and no, I will not provide you with an example of that...) On another note, Mira taught me a new vocabulary word yesterday: "blopping", as in "blog hopping" - may you all go blopping this week!

And now on to knitting-related content:

My stepfather-in-law made me a yarn swift last week!!! Can you believe it???? Isn't it beautiful? I had asked him to look at a swift to see if he could drill holes for pegs. I had considered making one once my semester ends. He returned with a prototype, with the finished product a few days later! I've always wound my yarn by hand but I have a 1-lb skein of Cherry Tree Hill mill end that I'd like to knit up and I just couldn't face the wretched hand-winding.

So of course, what's a girl with a swift to do without a ball winder?

Now, what can I wind up?

I could wind yarn all day.

Progress continues on the Gentleman's Fancy Socks:

I really wish that I could have had them finished to present to the recipient when he gave me my swift but that's OK. I'll finish them this weekend and then I can give both pairs of socks away!!

I must say that I finished the first sock with 2.75 yards left. Suspecting that I'd run out, I bought another skein from Simply Socks Yarn before I decreased for the toe. I hope that I end with a similar amount left over on the second sock because the skein that came is a noticeably different color than my original. If I do not need it, I will plan on using it for some striped socks later on so I'm not too disappointed about purchasing an extra skein.