Monday, October 30, 2006

The Swish

My order of Knitpicks Swish arrived last week, chosen for Bill's black vest. I'd read in a recent post by brooklyn tweed that the Swish shrinks. (Just don't ask me to say that out loud.) So I boldly went where I had never gone before: I swatched, and then I threw the swatch into the washer and dryer with the laundy. And it's a good thing I did -- the swatch shrank in length by 20 percent! I knit a rectangle, and it came out a square.

Of course, now I'm worried that I don't have enough yarn. But I want the finished vest to be shorter than the pattern calls for, so hopefully all will even out. Anyway, the Swish is nice to knit with, especially since I went at it for a couple of hours the other night and am now past the ribbing and into the oh-so-soothing sea of stockinette. Here's a (high contrast!) photo of my progress so far, a.k.a. an excuse for more Mooky.

(No, I didn't knit the blanket. Bill's mother did, and Mooky freakin' loves it. You could throw this blanket out in the street, or into a tree, and he would seek it out and fall asleep on it.)

(And to really appreciate the title of this post/yarn, you can click here. Right, Cari?)

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Embossed Leaves Socks

It's dark and pouring rain outside, not so good for photos, but hopefully you can still see how pretty my new socks are:

These are from the winter 2005 issue of IK, designed by Mona Schmidt. (You can read a recent interview with Mona here -- and Lolly also includes photos of more than a dozen finished EL socks! Love that.) I used Koigu KPM (colour: 1128), and the Magic Loop on a 2.25mm needle, as usual. I'm very pleased with my new dress-up socks.

I'd recommend this pattern. The socks look very fancy, but they're quick and easy to knit. They're stretchy and comfortable. They have a great toe. They look cute in shoes. What more could you want?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday already?

Blogger has informed me that as of this Monday, I'll no longer be able to upload "non-blog content" here, because they are "retiring" the Blog*Spot Plus deal. What this means is that I will no longer be able to update the Rock-Along Gallery, my knitting gallery, or any of my other pages, and I'll be forced to deal with their way of uploading images into blog posts (which involves resizing, and other weird things that I don't like). This is a huge bummer.

So. I'm sure there are ways to get around this, such as switching to an external host, but I don't even really know what that means. I'm thinking that instead of figuring out how to keep things as they are around here, I'll make some changes. I'll probably end up switching over to the Blogger Beta version for now, where I'll build a new knitting gallery. This here blog has looked the same for a few years, so I guess it won't kill me to shake it up a bit.

Anyway, I wanted to give you the heads up. There may be some weirdness around here. (Or, of course, I might not have time to deal with this change right away, and you'll wonder what I'm even talking about right now.) And changes are coming.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I don't have time for this.

Remember a few weeks ago when I was going out to a knitting-group night and had nothing to knit? I've over-corrected.

I'm about to turn the heel on the second Embossed Leaves sock, and I'm still happy with those. (By the way, designer Mona has posted directions for making the E.L. socks shorter or longer while keeping the design feature of the leaves morphing into the star toe: go here.) I'm also stockinette-stitching my way towards the toe of the first Regia kitchen-colours sock. Still love those, too. Plenty to keep me occupied for the few measly rounds I have time to knit at the end of the day.

So what, pray tell, is this?

That, my friends, is the beginning of my Elizabeth Zimmerman saddle-shoulder sweater. On last week's whirlwind trip to Ontario, I had the chance to spend 10 minutes in a Michael's store, and I came out with six balls of Patons Classic Wool (colour: deep olive). The contrasting colour (inside the hem) is a thrift-store find from a year or so ago, also Patons Classic, but it doesn't even have a colour name. I'm using 4.5mm needles, and getting about 4.25/4.5 stitches per inch.

I've added a couple of inches since I took this photo, and I'm a little distressed about ladders. Every few rounds, I shift the DPNs over by a few stitches, but it looks pretty bad to me. I'm considering ripping this sleeve out and reknitting it flat. (Yes, I know the point of an E.Z. sweater is its seamlessness, but I don't really mind seaming. It's preferable to loosey-goosey knitting, don't you think?)

I have to go and work on another short paper now. And then read. And then go to class. And then come home and keep working on the paper. And then knit while I watch Lost. And then stay up late reading since I spent an hour watching Lost.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

No, I didn't go to Rhinebeck.

I bet it was great, and I'll enjoy reading about it on lots of blogs, but me, I had something else to do. It involved about 16 hours of driving in two days, but it was worth it.

(Please excuse the chicken neck. I swear I don't have that in real life. And believe me, I don't usually go out of my way to have a double chin for a photo, but the mortarboard was about to pop off the top of my head. It was all very complicated.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I love Mona's toe.

No, I don't have a foot fetish. But I have finished the first Embossed Leaves sock, which involves the sweetest little star-decrease toe that you ever did see. In case you haven't seen or knit this pattern, here's a view of the way the leaves blend nicely into that toe:

And here's a clear shot of the decrease pattern, as seen on the plain bottom of the sock:

At the local knitting-group night last week, I was telling Mona, who designed this pattern, that I was concerned about the socks fitting my long feet. Specifically, the pattern states that the Embossed Leaves will fit "women's U.S. shoe sizes 7 to 8½," and my shoe size is 9½ or 10. Mona did explain how to match up the leaves with the toe decreases in case I had to knit an extra half repeat for length, but she also had faith that my socks would fit without adding that length. I was doubtful, but she was right! So if you're a large-footed lady who has shied away from the Embossed Leaves Socks, I'm here to tell you to cast on. They'll fit. They'll look pretty tiny, but they'll probably fit.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sundays are for socks

Well, actually, today is for working on a short paper that's due Wednesday, and then for celebrating Bill's birthday. It's true -- we like to do everything together! Today is Bill's birthday. I did finish his birthday socks, and he was surprised. (I'd been knitting them on the sly.) He's wearing them, and he just went out for a bit, so I don't have a finished photo for you. But he reports that they are "super-comfortable."

I did have a nice birthday yesterday, thank you. I spent most of the day reading, and starting to work on this paper, but then we went out for dinner to a nice restaurant in Little Italy. We stuffed ourselves; Billy went to bed early, and I watched three episodes of Freaks and Geeks and started a new sock.

Which brings me to a sock progress report! First, the Embossed Leaves Socks, in not-so-soft prune Koigu. (Yes, I'm counting on these socks softening with wear and in the wash.) The colour is waaaay off, but here's where I'm at:

Lying flat, they just look kind of crinkly, but the leaves are very nice when stretched out. And second, the latest socks, just cast on last night. I decided to do the top edge with a hem, as you would for a sweater or hat or whatever -- I cast on loosely, knit 8 rows, purled 1 row, knit 8 rows, and knit each stitch in the next row together with its corresponding cast-on stitch. And I am loving the retro-kitchen colours in this Regia yarn (Crazy Colors #5437):

OK, I have to get back to work. Thanks again for the birthday wishes! I'm happy to be an even number again. I don't know why, but I prefer the evens.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

On this day in history...

William the Conqueror wins England in Battle of Hastings

1586: Mary, Queen of Scots, goes on trial for conspiracy against Elizabeth

1806: French beat Prussians in Battle of Auerstadt

1934: "Lux Radio Theatre" premieres

1947: Chuck Yeager breaks sound barrier

1962: Cuban Missile Crisis begins

1975: Sporting button that says "I LIKE ME," and eyeing cake, I turn three

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The following post contains content that may be disturbing to some knitters. Reader discretion is advised.

The Koigu with which I'm knitting the Embossed Leaves Socks is not soft. It's even a little stiff. You heard me. Koigu. Not soft. Stiff. Like a towel that's been dried on the clothesline.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My plan for getting more sleep is already off the rails. I cast on for a sock last night, sometime after midnight, and knitted through The Royal Tenenbaums on TV. (Why, oh why, does CBC show good movies in the middle of the night instead of at 7 p.m.?) First I spent a fair amount of time doing a tubular cast-on, according to Anna's excellent tutorial, and it did turn out beautifully. Not stretchy enough, though, so away it went. (And I was too lazy to get up and find a slightly bigger needle, which I think would have done the trick.) I started again and just followed the pattern, which is from the winter 2006 IK: the Embossed Leaves Socks, by Mona Schmidt. I'm using my semi-solid prune Koigu. It's been quite a while since I made fancy socks, and it's fun to have a little chart to follow. I think I'll make them a little shorter than called for, to have a pair of pretty little dress-up socks.

I've also made a significant yarn purchase, which is something that only happens about once a year. Bill doesn't really wear sweaters, and he has said "no, thank you" to every sweater pattern I've shown him in the past. But he has now stepped up and requested a vest. Specifically, he has requested a vest that only a non-knitter would request. Two words: Black. Stockinette. It actually wasn't easy for me to find a pattern that was basic classic enough for his tastes, but I finally did find this free Berrocco pattern online, which has been approved. So a box full of black worsted-weight Swish Superwash wool from Knit Picks is now on its way to my house.

For myself, I’ve been thinking a lot about this charming cardigan since Robyn showed me the pattern at the last knitting group. But I also still want a saddle-shoulder pullover. Maybe another yarn purchase for my birthday, which is in a few days? Oh, wait, I'm really not doing well with this less-knitting plan, am I? I wish I could get as excited about deciphering, say, Gayatri Spivak as I do about imagining how a particular knitting pattern would look in different yarns...

p.s. Mooky got beat up over the weekend, and as I'm sure you can imagine, there are few things more terrifying than seeing drops of your pet's blood hit the floor. Cats tend to go for the throat when they fight, and Mooky came in with a small gash on one side of his neck. So for us, Thanksgiving was all about being thankful that he's totally fine. After some serious rest on the couch, the big boy is his old self again. "Just a flesh wound," says Mooky. "I'm still hungry."

Friday, October 06, 2006

I'm stuffed up and sneezing again. It's terrible. I went to bed at 8 o'clock last night, got up from midnight to 2 a.m. and watched some TV, and then slept till noon today. And now it's 4 p.m. and I'm exhausted. Sigh.

And sadly, I'm going to have to cut back on knitting. I just have so much to read for school, and now the writing assignments are starting, and it's all I can do to keep up. (As I've told a few people, on a 1-to-10 intensity scale, I'd put my M.A. at about 3.5, and the Ph.D. at 9.) For the past couple of weeks I've been knitting late at night instead of sleeping, but now I think that's caught up with me. I am going to try to finish a pair of socks for Bill's birthday next weekend, though. Here's what I've got so far:

Beauty, eh? The yarn is Cherry Tree Hill supersock (colour: River Run) that I bought online a year or so ago. I'm trying a new kind of short-row heel, using recent instructions from misocrafty. Basically, the wraps are passed over -- instead of knitted/purled together with -- the stitch at the end of each row. I found it harder to do than my usual way (which I think I originally learned from Wendy's sock pattern), and therefore slower. But I'm pleased with the result, which is a nice, tight seam. I like learning new techniques, too.

I've been considering knitting myself a sweater, specifically, Elizabeth Zimmerman's saddle-shoulder sweater. (I'm inspired by the beautiful photos of a Zimmerman sweater on b r o o k l y n t w e e d, which is not exactly the same sweater but close.) I think that as long as I accept that it will be a long-term project, it would be a good project to have on the needles. Bill tells me he would like a V-neck vest, too, which would be similarly simple, and easy to pick up for just a few rows and put down again. So I'll be knitting, but the FO rate will slow right down. Ah, life intervenes, doesn't it?

And speaking of reading, I must go back to it. What I really need to do is figure out a way to read better, more efficiently. There's probably a book about that, which I don't have time to read...

Monday, October 02, 2006

So manly!

That's what the pattern says, anyway: Manly Ribbed Socks, designed by Ann Budd, from the subscribers-only site at Interweave Knits.

I knit these as a thank-you gift for my thesis supervisor. All I know for sure is that he wears size-10.5 shoes and likes "earthy tones," so I really hope they fit and make him happy.

The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in "chocolate," and it knitted up into milk chocolate socks with a dark chocolate swirl. (Sorry, I'll stop -- my mouth is watering, too.) The colours are richer than they look in these photos. The ribbing is just *k3, p1, k1, p1* with a shift in ribbing after a couple of inches at the cuff:

I really love the fabric of the knitted LL yarn -- it's thin and soft, nice definition. And I have plenty of it left, no risk of running out with this stuff. (If you have small feet, you could get a nice tall pair of socks out of two skeins.)

We had an hour or so of sunshine today! A nice change from the rain. I noticed this afternoon that there's a pretty spectacular spiderweb outside the window of my office at home. The sun made it sparkle.

I also noticed this afternoon how incredibly dirty my window is!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Bits and pieces

1. Yesterday was fun: Bill and I went to Chinatown for food and, frankly, to wander among people who were speaking Mandarin. Then we went to a hockey game in the evening. We were sitting wa-a-ay up in the super-hooligans / verbal-abuse section -- luckily, the Habs won with about two minutes left in the game, so everyone smooshed into the metro on the way home was in a good mood.

2. This comic makes me laugh.

3. I finished knitting my supervisor's chocolate Manly Ribbed Socks, so check back for photos tomorrow!

4. People still send photos to the Rock-Along Gallery! Who knew? Clearly I can no longer keep up with the specific-year buttons, so I made a new button with no date on it -- you can choose from three colour combos:


(That's an image of Hello Yarn's fabulous We Call Them Pirates hat in the background, because Adrian really, really rocks.)

5. I think I'm going to take a page from the Big Sister book of recent knitting and delve into the Drawer of Languishing Knits to do some finishing. I want to at least get the ugly Stashbuster socks off my to-knit list...

6. That thing people say about having to read all the time when doing a Ph.D.? Yeah, they're not kidding. I'm taking bets on how soon I'll need glasses.