February 2003 Archives

A Moment of Silence

I just woke up to the news that the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded coming in for a a landing at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

CNN Story.

As someone who can remember standing getting up to watch the first flight of Columbia and many subsequent flights, as someone who continues to be amazed at these machines and their crews and their ability to cross international boundaries... as someone who passionately believes in technology and is horrified when it fails... this is such a tragedy.

I remember watching the Challenger explosion when I was in high school... and I remember the feelings. Please take a few moments to remember -- the astronauts and their families, who will suffer this loss so deeply.

Columbia, 1981-2003

It doesn't really seem like a good day to talk about knitting.

Weekend Progress

First off, a picture of my husband and our "mountain lion", Syd:

Syd loves being up high and will perch in the strangest places (like the back of a moving computer chair). He is also especially attached to John.

I took another little trip out to Tangled Web in Oak Park after I discovered not only did I need yarn for the Fuzzy Feet, but I also needed needles because I didn't have the right sized circs or double points. Actual exchage before the trip:

Me: "Hmmm... looks like I need more knitting needles."
John: "How can you possibly need more knitting needles?" (He's seen my needle collection grow exponentially lately)
Me: "I don't haave the right size for a project. With knitting needles, size matters."
John: "Heh. That's pretty funny."

This trip to Tangled Web completed my first "Frequent Buyer Card" -- now I've got $20 off on my next visit (I think you have to spend $200 there to get your card completed... and Mom helped me last time she was here by buying some lovely Rowan Polar). They have so many wonderful yarns at Tangled Web it will be hard to decide what to use it on. Aside from the needles I picked up, here's the yarn I decided on for my Fuzzy Feet:

Noro Kureyon Color #78

These are not normally colors I would go for (and the colors in the pictures are very true to the colors in the skein) but as I kept looking at them, they started to grow on me. I figured that I needed darker colors for something that I was going to wear around the house without shoes (and didn't want to have to wash every 15 minutes). Now I am excited about knitting them up. One thing I have learned the Hard Way from my current Noro sweater project is that you have to pay attention to the color of the skeins if you want the stripes to match a little bit (even if you do, I discovered that the color runs of the same color are not the same lengths from skein to skein, so it is kind of a losing battle to try to do this). So, two of the skeins have pretty much the same starting and ending colors (the one on it's side andthe one on the left in the right hand picture) and I will use those to start each of the "Feet". The other is in case I need more to finish either of the socks off since Kureyon only comes in 100 m skeins. I was tempted to find some matching eyelash... but decided that the stripes would probably be decoration enough for my first shot.

Last, but not least, I finished the front of my Silk Garden sweater:

I'm almost done with the sleeves (hopefully tonight). I decided that I would do both sleeves at the same time so that I could match the stripes and because I have such a hard time casting on the second sleeve after I am done with the first one on most sweater projects. (My poor "Gormley" is sitting in my basket just waiting for another sleeve...). I don't usually do it because I am totally cheap when it comes to using yarn (I don't like to leave long ends or have two half-used skeins). I discovered with the Silk Garden, however, that in order to make it come out looking nice I had to put my cheap attitudes aside. More on this later tonight, hopefully!

The Home Stretch

I finished the sleeves on my sweater! I must say, I am very pleased with the way they came out! I got the striping to be roughly the same for both sleeves. Here's a look at the sleeves by themselves:

The flash makes the colors a little hot in this picture, but otherwise it is a pretty good likeness. I also decided to take a look at the pieces together and got a really lovely surprise:

The stripes on the top half of the sweater pretty much match all the way around! How cool is that. It was pretty much serendipity at work, however, because it wasn't until I started the sleeves that it occurred to me that I should be picking my starting skeins carefully.

I'm a little amazed by how bright this sweater is! I don't think I would normally pick these kinds of colors for myself. Now that I have got it though, I can't wait to get it blocked and sewn up.

That's right. I did use the word "blocked" before the phrase "sewn up". I am going to try to block it tomorrow night (while I start my Fuzzy Feet) . Then I am going to do something even more radical -- I am going to try to seam it up with mattress stitch instead of my usual backstitch.

One of my personal goals in picking this pattern was to pick something simple and try hard to work on my technique. I knitted a gauge swatch, I cast on using larger needles so I could avoid any tightness at the bottom of the sweater, I checked my gauge while I was knitting, I made sure the side stitches were pulled a little extra to give a neat edge. So far I am pleased with the results of my efforts. I did knit pretty much to gauge (and I have used about the amount of yarn suggested by the pattern -- normally I go over). I feel like my tensioning skills are much better, too.

Silk Garden is terribly addicting stuff. I find myself constantly cruising eBay and online yarn stores looking for deals and trying to decide what color I want to work with next -- I still want to tackle the little cardigan in the same pattern book as this sweater comes from. Noro must lace this stuff with the yarn equivalent of heroin.... which for me would be silk...

Small Steps

Yesterday was one of those days at work that always seemed like I was going one step forward and two steps back. The net result: by the time I went home I felt exhausted and like I hadn't accomplished anything. Not a very satisfying combination. Hopefully today will be better. I have a couple of little coding projects that I can work on and probably complete. Writing a good piece of code is almost as satisfying as completing a knitting project -- code isn't as tangible, but the recipient is usually pretty happy to get it!

A lot of people don't see it the way I do, but I find coding to be a wonderful, therapeutic process: you solve a problem and then you send your solution out into the world to be enjoyed by other people Good code, like good patterns, gets adopted by a lot of people. But I can be happy just creating a little tool to help one of our scientists get at our data better. And I should get to put together a couple of those little pieces today. Writing code for me today is also a form of avoidance. We have a big grant proposal that I am supposed to be working on...

Last night on the knitting front, I spent some time blocking my sweater. It actually felt pretty good, stretching it out, watching it come out exactly the way the pattern said it was supposed to size-wise. I don't have the nifty blocking board that I ordered from KnitPicks yet, so I improvised with one of our futon couches and some plastic trashbags and a spray bottle from some body splash. Talk about being an urban yuppy knitter! It felt very strange to spray down my work, but now that it is dry, everything feels so soft and looks so smooth. I will probably leave it tacked down until I get the time to sew up the raglan sleeves and put on the collar. Next adventure: learning how to do mattress stitch!

One thing that may not have already become clear about me is that I am a PDA junkie. And not just any PDA, I will only use Palm devices -- yes, I've tried PocketPC devices and I just don't like them. They don't feel natural and I keep expecting them to be full-blown Windows, which they are not. Anyway, it never really occurred to me to use my Palm (its not a true Palm, its a Samsung I-300 Palm Phone -- last year's techie Christmas present from John -- this link is to the newest incarnation of my phone) for anything related to knitting. It does hold my Knitting Needle database, but that't about it. Then I discovered this little program:

CountAble 1.1

This little program made it very easy for me to keep track of row increases and cable decreases and everything else as I worked on my sweater. Much better than conventional row counters -- I can keep a lot of information going at once, there are no little pegs to lose, and my cat does not try to run off with them! It's a simple little program (the kind I could probably write for myself if I just put my mind to it), but very handy, and definitely worth the $6 given how many row counters I have been found by my cats and then never heard from again. Even better, it is customizable so that if you have a bunch of different repeating patterns in your aran sweater, you can keep track of them all -- and you can keep track of mutiple projects.

Started my Fuzzy Feet last night after I got the sweater into blocking mode. I discovered that I knit too tightly for felting (this was also true of the "Unflappable Handbag" project on my WIP list) and I had to move up to size 11 needles (good thing I already had the 16" circ and the DPs I needed!). Having never really done a sock before, I foud the heel turning process to be pretty cool. And I am pretty pleased with the way the Kureyon is striping. I think I may end up making a pair of these for John. He's not so sure about the striping, but he's very annoyed that the temperature dropped again last night and he can't stand to have cold feet! Actually, he sort of surprised me last night by wanting to go in and see my sweater blocking. I think he likes seeing how my projects progress -- in the same way I like to see the new improvements that he has made to his home theatre.

Learning Things the Hard Way

Last night was not a knitting night. It was an eating night. In honor of my birthday, John took me to The Dining Room at the Ritz Carleton Hotel in Chicago. Definitely an awesome dinner! It reminded me of the wonderful food I had while I was in Paris in early December. Truly a night to remember, especially since I got to share it with someone who goes well beyond making my life a better place to be.

Tonight, however, was a knitting night. My Noro sweater was practically crying to me from one of our spare bedrooms where it was blocking. And who could blame it? All pinned down, blocked and ready to go.

When I unpinned it, I almost expected it to go back to its original posture. Instead, it held its new ground and just felt gorgeous. The drape is much different now that it is blocked. I can't believe I've avoided something that produces such wonderful results for so long. Blocking is definitely now going to be a part of my knitting religion.

I also wanted to try out another new thing: mattress stitching the seams. Mattress seams were something that I just had some kind of inability to do before. I'd read the instructions, try, fail and go back to my faithful old backstitch. But I after going through the same routine on the first raglan seam on this sweater, I decided I was going to do it until I got it right.

My perserverence paid off this time -- I now know a new technique and my sweater has much nicer seams than it would have otherwise. The colors didn't match up quite as evenly as I would have liked, but I still think it looks pretty good.

Tomorrow night, the collar and the finish seaming. The next pictures will definitely be the real thing!

Completed Silk Garden Sweater

It's done! Last night I completed the collar, today I did all the remaining finishing work. I am now a mattress stitch believer! It makes a difference both on the visible and wrong side of the garment.

Here's the sweater just after I finished it (before I tried it on).

And here's the sweater being modelled by yours truly:

I'm very pleased with the results! This sweater is fitted right and for once I didn't spend the whole time worrying about whether or not I was going to run out of yarn. The pattern (Debbie Bliss, Noro 1, Raglan Sweater with Cable Detail) is well written and easy to follow.

I know I've been gushing about this yarn, but it was wonderful to work with and I can't wait to start my next project with some (another pattern out of the same book -- the cardigan on the cover). It's a touch scratchy on the inside, but since I usually wear something under my sweaters, it's not much of a problem for me. The sweater is fitted, but there is definitely room for a long-sleeved T-shirt underneath. The colorway really changes how it looks under different light. In natural light, it has a much bluer tone to it than it does in the picture.

Now it's time to finish those Fuzzy Feet! More Noro pictures on the way soon!

Finished Felted Fuzzy Feet

Another excellent weekend has come to a close. My parents were here for a visit this weekend (my mother is doing some consulting work for my company since she knows more about contract and grant managment than we do) and I got to help mom a little bit with her Vegan Fox. We took a mandatory trip to Knitting Workshop "because how do you know what you want if you don't know what is out there". Of course, I found another skein of Silk Garden that needed to come home with me. Colorway #74 -- which I think I will try in the Bow Scarf pattern that Emma has used several times with great success. I am trying to decide what colors I want to use for the cardie on the front of Noro 1. I am leaning towards #73, but when I found this skein of 74 it made me want to take it for a spin to see what it looked like.

I also found a depressingly dull color for "man" Fuzzy Feet for John (Lamb's Pride Loden) -- which he of course loved. And speaking of Fuzzy Feet, here is the before and after of my first pair:

Before
After

The yarn is Noro Kureyon, #78. They came out more fulled than completely felted because if I had let them go any longer they would have gotten too short for me to wear. I love the way the striping turned out. I thought the felting would make some of the lovely blending colors disappear, but I think it actually enhances them a little bit. This was a very fun project that I am definitely looking forward to doing again -- for John and for my Dad -- who promises me that he will have no problem with brightly colored Fuzzy Feet if I want more interesting yarn to play with after I make John's.

This was a great project because it helped me learn some sock architechture without the complication of being frustrated by double pointed needles. However, having said that, I may do the next set on double points all the way through because I didn't like the way the fabric stretched on the circulars. This project really got me itching to get started with the lovely sock yarn that Emma gave me!

So what comes next? Well, I think I am going to try to finish the last sleeve on my Jaeger Natural Fleece sweater. There must be some strange property of physics associated with the second sweater sleeve, because I always lose momentum right before I cast it on. I hope that I can get the sleeve finished and the completed pieces blocked before the weekend. Then I think my "Flappable Handbag" will probably need some attention. Yum yum! So many fun projects and so little time!

Frog City

You would think it would be really, really, really hard to mess up something done almost entirely in garter stitch. But I have one project that, for whatever reason, seems completely error prone -- and I never notice the errors until I'm several rows beyond where the mistakes were made. Nothing to do but rip.

So I ripped. The problem with ripping is that while I know it is the right thing to do, it always leaves me feeling a little disappointed and it kills whatever momentum I had going. Tonight is a pretty low-accomplishment level night. And knowing that my other goal was to start on that second sleeve of Gormley wasn't very much more motivational. I accomplished a little bit, but couldn't keep myself motivated.

However, I do have the latest copy of Interweave Knits -- which is really incredible! There are two or three things that I can imagine making. I must have the Corset Pullover and I am fascinated by the Raccoon Jacket. So I think tonight will be a good night for doing a little reading and letting the needles have a rest. Tomorrow Julie and I start our Fair Isle and Intarsia class at Knitting Workship, and I am sure that will be the inspirational kick I need to get myself moving in the right direction again.

Special Gifts

This evening was the first night of my Fair Isle class -- I love the teacher because she doesn't emphasize form over function. Style is only important in terms of how comfortably it helps you get th job done. I never thought it would be so hard for me to knit English! But once I've trained myself to do something one way, I usually find it very difficult to do it a different way -- especially if I think the old was is more efficient. By the end of a couple of hours I felt like I had some basics I could practice with, but it's going to take a lot more effort to be comfortable with it. I think I am going to pick a small project -- maybe mittens? I've seen a book with folk mitten patterns in it out there somewhere. Usually I am more ambitious, but I have to admit that I am feeling a little intimidated by the prospect of knitting with two hands. Guess I'll be doing some practicing!

The best part of the evening were the beautiful birthday surprises from Julie: a needle case and the sweetest little felted sheep!

And here's a closeup of the sheep because he is just so wonderful!

Julie is a constant source of knitting and crafting inspiration for me -- I can't imagine a more perfect knitting buddy! I love the fabric she picked out for the needle case -- I have a vest that my mother made me when I was in high school made of almost exactly the same stuff (and I still love it and wear it with the scrunchie that goes with it). And I was just thinking that I needed another case for my straight needles. I also want to point out the card in the top picture -- hand stamped by Julie! These gifts were an extraordinary birthday surprise! Thanks again, Julie! (Repeat that phrase about 100 times for the right effect).

I also got to see Julie's Constant Companion bag up close -- so incredible! What is it about felting wool that makes it so irresistable?

I also picked up 2 size 2 circular needles tonight... can socks be far away? I think I am going to take the online CyberSocks class at SockKnitters. Last night after posting I suddenly needed to work on my sweater sleeve -- I'm about halfway done with it now. Maybe I'll get to do some blocking tomorrow night!

Swift

One of my mother's Christmas presents to me (ordered last weekend from an eBay seller because the order she placed in December to Patternworks was still backordered) arrived last night -- from Sweden! This is amazing because it was only shipped on Monday. Sometimes I think things from Europe get here faster than things shipped from within the US (I am still waiting for my ball winder from KnitPicks that I ordered at exactly the same time -- it's still in transit).

Isn't it beautiful? (It is shown modelling another eBay auction purchase -- a skein of Rowan Summer Tweed in the Powder color. My messy desk is show in the background, too...). I can't wait to use it with my in-transit ball winder. I am also going to use it for a little frogging expedition -- 1/2 of the back of an Aran sweater I was working on for John that I started before I firmed up my Continental skills.

After a wonderful dinner out with John (Wednesday is our "date night") I came back and got Gormley blocking! Tonight I hope to put on the little bit of collar that it has and get it seamed up. I also cast on the first of two socks on two circular needles using that lovely green patterned Opal that Emma sent me. Now onto the second one! The cast on took me a long time because the yarn is so lovely and delicate and I kept losing count of the stitches I had put on!

Gormley

I can't believe that I have completed three sweaters in less than 3 months. Granted, 2 of them were in big wool, but it still feels like an accomplishment to me. Here is the newest addition to my wardrobe: Gormley from the Jaeger Natural Fleece book. Gormley is a fitted sweater using Jaeger Natural Fleece. It has set-in bell sleeves and uses three colors: Peat, Cowrie and Cameo. Here is the sweater right after finishing:

Here's the sweater on a real person

I like the feel of the Natural Fleece -- it has a very nice, soft touch, but I think I am done with big wool for a while. I probably should have made this sweater in a slightly smaller size. I think then it would have a better fit. On the overall, I was disappointed with this pattern -- too many things that make the overall product look and feel better were omitted due to what seems like a fear of "scaring off" novice knitters. I don't really like dumbed down patterms, especially when it's not really necessary. The Natural Fleece has a somewhat sheepy smell now that I have wet it to block it -- not bad, just a little like wet wool. On the positive side, I discovered that mattress stitch could easily be used to attach set-in sleeves, and this sweater will definitely keep me warm!

I will close this post by saying that I think I am developing a new addiction: socks on two circular needles! Julie and Emma have been encouraging me to take the plunge int the world of sock knitting. Double points made me miserable (Sorry Julie -- and everyone else who loves DPs) but circulars feel so natural and easy to use. I promised Emma that she would get regular updates on the socks made with the lovely Opal she sent me. So here is my first entry into my sock knitting picture collection (the Opal is from the Brasil collection).

I can't believe I am actually knitting on size 2 needles. I am definitely enjoying watching the sock develop. I'm going to re-start John's Mission Falls socks on DPs tonight (my Mom came to visit and brought me a set of AddiTurbos in the right size, can't wait to try out my first set of Addi's) and I told Mom if she brought me some Koigu, she'd get a pair of socks, too. She picked out a beautiful colorway. As soon as I get my ball winder and some size 3 circs, I'll probably cast hers on too -- the Koigu is just so wonderful to touch!

End to A Busy Weekend

It's about time for bed. I am particularly proud of myself because I am over halfway done with the first of John's (boring) navy blue socks. No pictures, because everyone has seen half-finished K2P2 rib socks before. John has been an active participant in the process and seems surpised that ribbing stretches. He wants me to put "extra yarn" in the toes of the socks to keep his toes extra warm. The yarn is already worsted weight, however, so I don't think I am going to add anything or he won't be able to get the socks in his shoes!

Seems like I can't finish one sweater without starting another. I broke out my eBay purchased Jaeger Chamonix this afternoon and started "Nettle" from the Jaeger Chamonix book. Given that it has 12 rows of a hard (for me) to remember pattern, I don't think this will go quite as fast as my Silk Garden sweater. The yarn is wonderful and soft, but not as elastic as I might have expected. The fabric is soft and drapey. To help myself deal with the repeating patterns, I decided to try a suggestion from Maggie Righetti's Knitting in Plain English an put a stich marker between each major pattern section.

It was a nice weekend. It started with a wonderful Valentine's Day dinner at Ambria arranged by my husband, was punctuated by a short visit by my parents and the completion of Gormley. Saturday night we had dinner out with friends in Elmhurst at another old favorite restaurant from when we were in the burbs, Francesca's Amici. Today, with no obligations to deal with, we got up late, had breakfast at one of our favorite local breakfast places, Munch and then just did whatever we felt like... which for me included Nettle and a sock and practicing my "English" method (which I am still having a hard time getting used to) in preparation for my Fair Isle class on Tuesday. And for John, it meant calibrating his projector, paying our taxes and looking for good deals on the Internet.

I hope everyone else had a peaceful weekend, too!

More Noro

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Today was a much better day than yesterday. Yesterday was one of those days when I couldn't believe that some of the people I work with could really be behaving so badly. By 11:30 I was ready to go home. When I got home, I turned to some knitting therapy to help even out my extremely ugly mood. I found knitting up my Opal sock to be very therapeutic. I never though I would like working in such a tiny gauge, but I do.

I got some wonderful things in the mail today. First thing this morning I made a stop at the post office to pick up a delivery from Amazon: Knitting Fair Isle Mittens and Gloves. Perfect timing, since I needed to pick out a project for my Fair Isle class. I am going to work on a pair of fingerless gloves. When I got home before my class, my order from ThreadBear was waiting for me! Here's a shot of the Beezle making sure that the Silk Garden is up to his standards (he's very picky!)

As it turns out, the Beez very much likes Noro Silk Garden #71 and thinks it would be okay if I do my next sweater with it. Here's a closeup of it (it has very rich purples and greens) with a special treat that Matt and Rob threw in.

I wish I could have gotten a better shot of the stitch marker -- it's absolutely beautiful. I will certainly be putting it to work soon! I have to say also, that it was a real pleasure to purchase from the guys at ThreadBear. I got help with color selection along with a lot of friendly emails. Its good to know that there is at least one other 2nd/3rd generation Lithuanian in my knitting "community" here on the Internet. I can't wait until I need more yarn for my next felting project or for socks or more Noro...

Julie and I went to our second Fair Isle class today. I think my practicing was worth it, because the two handed knitting thing didn't seem so bad tonight. I need to learn to pay better attention to my charts, but I don't think that will be a problem when I don't have great company like Julie to spend my knitting time with. I decided that I am going to try to apply my socks on two circs knowledge to my fingerless gloves -- I will go to almost any length to avoid double points (especially tiny size 1 double points). So now I am looking forward to getting the wrist ribbing out of the way so that I can get to the good part! There is always some new fun knitting thing to learn!

Socks (and Gloves)

So what did I do with my week? Well, not much that would be considered exciting. I'll spare everyone the details of my exploits trying to convert Non Deterministic Finite State Automatas (try saying that 10 times fast) to Deterministic Finite State Automata in Java and go straight to a much more fun topic: my first completed sock (done on two circulars)!

John's First Navy Blue Sock

There's not too much to write home about with this sock. It's done in dark blue Mission Falls 1824 Superwash Wool. The leg portion is in K2P2 ribbing. And he likes it a lot. His comment: "It seems like a lot of work -- but it does feel nice and warm!" So I guess he likes it. I'll probably start the next one today. Maybe by next week sometime he'll actually have a pair! This sock is not the thing of beauty that I would like it to be -- in particular, after picking up stitches after making the gusset, but only on one side, there is an area where there's a little more airspace than I would like. Anyone have good suggestions to make sure that the little corner area doesn't come out like a hole? I can always use a little yarn to fill it in (it won't be noticeable at all on this sock because of the color) but I would like to know how to do it the right way.

I also have an update on a much more interesting sock project (at least to me) -- my Opal (from Emma) sock:

First Opal Brasil Sock

I just love this yarn and working on the small needles (size 2s). I keep trying this one on while I am working on it and I can't wait to have a pair.

One surprise that came out of the whole sock measuring process is that either I have big feet or John has small feet. His foot length is ~10-1/2" and mine is not quite 10"! Seemed really strange to think that he and I have feet so similar in size. After I measured mine, I actually had to go and put mine next to his to see if it was really so close!

I am thinking that I would like to try a short row heel on John's next pair of socks (with that lovely grey Opal from Emma). Anyone have any suggestions for good patterns/instructions?

Finally, here's the start on what is my first Fair Isle project (for my class) -- Fingerless Gloves from Carol Rasmussen Noble's Knitting Fair Isle Mittens and Gloves. I'm going to be knitting up the fingerless gloves with the Snowflake pattern -- only three colors so it seemed like a good one to start with. For once I decided not to get too far in over my head and stick to something simple. I've decided to try to do them on two circulars instead of on double points. These are being done on size 1 needles with Jamieson's 2-Ply Shetland. I've never knitted with Shetland yarn before, and I find it quite different from the wool I've worked with in the past. Very neat to see how it grabs onto itself and holds on! Makes it much more obvious how steeks would stay together after working with this yarn.

Fair Isle Glove Cuff

I'm (obviously) not up to the Fair Isle part yet. I'm hoping to get to the color work this weekend, but I have another special project that needs to be finished up for someone's very upcoming birthday.

Thoughts with Coffee

No pictures today. I don't think there's much interesting about a half-finished navy blue sock and I've decided that I am not going to take pictures of something I am going to rip. I did have one successful project finishing, but it's unveiling will have to wait until later in the week. I spent a lot of time working on some HTML for my web pages. I'm hoping to do book reviews of my growing collection of knitting books.

I did decide a few things last night:

1) I am going to rip out the little bit of progress I had made on Nettle (my Chamonix sweater) and work on Neroli instead. Why? I am not sure exactly, but I wasn't feeling interested or inspired by Nettle at all last week, and that is usally a sign (especially since I had just started the sweater) that its not something I want to do. It's a lovely sweater but I guess I am just not in an Aran mood right now .

2) I am going to rip my fingerless Fair Isle glove (the thing I decided not to take a picture of) back to the cuff and start over. Why? Well, lets just say that when I break a circular needle, it's a sign that I am knitting too tightly. The pattern calls for 0's, I was knitting on 1's and my gauge still wasn't right. Now that wouldn't normally bother me except that the fabric has a stiff, almost board-like quality. So tonight it comes out. I might actually do the re-work on DPs (like the pattern suggests) because the last couple of rows I did after I broke the circular were on DPs and they feel a little looser. I also have to say that I really feel like I was fighting this project the whole way and I really didn't enjoy the process very much. So maybe ripping this one is a means for me to give this project (and it's process) another shot. After all, I didn't enjoy knitting Continental "the right way" until I did it for a while on a few projects and got used to it. Now I love it. I want to give Fair Isle knitting the same chance.

I also took a trip around the blog ring... something I haven't done in a while.... amazing how large it is and how many people are doing neat things. I think my daily reads list will be growing.

Okay, now I am going to go work on a sock -- I must say, knitting socks has a very therapeautic quality for me.

Happy Monday to everyone!

Dark Socks Don't Photograph Well

Not entirely on purpose, I stayed up last night until I finished the second of John's socks. For the record, yes, I did stay up until 3 am finishing up a pair of socks. Why? I really hadn't meant to. But I got to a certain point... and then I just had to finish. I don't know if there is anyone else with that bit of obsessive compulsive disorder, but once I get to a point that I consider myself withing "striking distance" of the end of the project, I just can't sleep or switch gears until I get it finished.

And, of course, it also got really cold yesterday, so I wanted John to have some nice warm socks, since he always complains about having cold feet. So without further ado, here are the finished socks (my first pair of finished socks!) as modeled by John's feet:

Some discoveries I made along the way:

1) Mission Falls 1824 Wool is nice and soft but untwists easily and you can snag it without even noticing it.
2) K2P2 ribbing has a better "rhythm" that K1P1 ribbing
3) Mistakes don't show up on dark socks (nothing shows up on dark socks!)
4) Knitting into the back of the stitches after picking up stitches after making the gusset really makes for a much firmer seam.
5) Its hard for me to get that corner area stich nice and tight
6) I want to try short row heels... (in hopes of dealing better with discovery #5)
7) I can knit and read blogs at the same time

Overall I am pleased -- and John seems to like them. I made him promise to wear them right after I finished them, so today he is going to test drive them. He isn't sure about one of the "seams" on the inside where the stitches got picked up, so he asked me if he could wear them inside out. I told him "whatever makes him happy" since, after all, they are his socks!

One more thing before I head to work....

Happy Birthday, Julie!

(I couldn't ask for a better knitting buddy -- she's creative and free-thinking and a great friend! If you have a few minutes, drop by her blog and wish her a good day!)

Hmmmm.....

Well, after a spectacularly disturbing day at work, I was looking forward to the reward of meeting a milestone on one of my projects -- the secret project with the Debbie Bliss Baby Casmerino. After what seemed like an infinite progression of garter stitch, I finally got to bind off.

And then I noticed something disturbing... the top of the piece is wider than the bottom of the piece. I had noticed this a little bit while I was knitting, but thought it was just the way things were stretching on my circulars when I was trying to measure. But last night, the reality of the situation became obvious. It's a little under 21-1/2" at the bottom and a little under 22" at the top. What's sort of funny about this is that this radical expansion didn't occur evenly... it started about 2/3 of the way through.

On the positive side, I think this means that I have gotten a lot more comfortable in my use of the Continental technique (I used to work the yarn with my left hand, but not in a very efficient way) and have "loosened up".

On the negative side, I have no idea whether or not something that is meant to be machine washed will respond to blocking to get it into a shape that will be roughly square. Has anyone out there blocked a Baby Cashmerino project?

So now I am trying to decide whether or not to chalk this one up to "experience" or not. There's still time for me to replace this gift with something else, not made by hand, or something made by hand but much smaller... so now I will have to do some thinking.

Knit Picks

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My knitting efforts have been a little slow this week. Like indigirl I am finding that stress in my life is making it difficult for me to work well on my knitting projects... I just keep making mistakes and getting frustrated. So I've decided not to tackle too much that I would just have to frog later.

But I do want to tell you about my experiences with KnitPicks -- good experiences.

A while back I posted about my mom trying to get me a ball winder and swift for Christmas. I got the swift shortly after I won the eBay auction and was waiting patiently to get the ball winder. And waiting, and waiting.... In the mean time, I did get something else I had ordered from them -- my SpaceBoard (these take longer because I think they are made at a table pad company and have to be shipped separately). So I didn't think about the ball winder too much. Until about 2 weeks after the order was placed. And then I called them to ask them if they could track the package.

I got a friendly operator who looked at what was happening and immediately set up a new shipment for me (it looks like their shipping company had a hard time delivering my package to the Chicago post office... I know how hard that can be, Chicago is such a *small* town, LOL), without questions. So this week I was looking forward to my ball winder, but got another surprise first -- another SpaceBoard. Now, I suspect I could have found a good home for this board, but I didn't feel good doing that. Once again, they took care of the mistake immediately and someone will be picking up that board next week, at no cost to me.

Now, you might be thinking "how could those be good experiences? KnitPicks just screwed up." And yes, they did. What made it a good experience was

1) Two very friendly operators who did their best to help me and never accused me of anything.
2) A company that took steps to resolve the problems immediately.

I don't mind mistakes -- it's a hazard of doing business. What I do mind is when a company doesn't give me satisfactory explanations, or doesn't try to make good, or treats me as if the problem was my fault and I should have to deal with it. They didn't do any of these things. They acted professionally and treated me with respect.

And I got my ball winder last night.... introduced it to the swift... they're a happy couple now and have already had the pleasure of bonding over a hank of Rowan Summer Tweed and a hank of Cascade 220. I just love knitting toys!

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