Saturday, May 14, 2011

Gauge Wars

Its been awhile, but I've been slightly sock obsessed lately.  After joining the Knit Sock Love KAL on ravelry, I've had little time for anything else.  Gauge has been a bit of an issue with her patterns so far though.  First were the 'medium' size Thelonious socks...
For the record, those are my husbands hairy size 13 feet, not mine.  He does make a darn good foot model though.
To add insult to injury this month we're making Rhombus, another beautiful pattern, but one that knits up very small.
The 2.00mm needles knit a flat swatch that was perfect, however I continue to forget that knitting in the round is always tighter than knitting flat.  The actual sock would only a table leg.  I was about to frog it when tragedy struck.
image title
That broken needle? My 22 pound cat decided to crawl on my lap right before I frogged the sock.  Otis the gargantuan broke my dpn. 
image title
That's right, you better hide under the chair.  I have room for only one enemy.. and thy name is gauge.  

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Baby Sweater Bank

  Today I found out that some good friends of mine are expecting their first child.  This is great news.  In fact, a number of people I know are sharing the same great news.  As of this writing

3 co-workers
2 good friends
2 cousins
And 1 member of my knitting group

  Are expecting children.  There may be more, lately women have taken to waiting a few months before making announcements. If I didn’t know better, I would suspect that someone is leaching clomid into the water supply.

  Under normal circumstances I, like any other inveterate knitter, would panic at the thought of all these growing bellies.  Not this time, I’ve built up a defense.  My friends, meet the baby sweater bank.  5 baby sweaters all knit up an ready to go.  Its easy for a new arrival to sneak up on you.  Sure, most little ones take 9 months to bake, but most people don't share the news until the first trimester is over, and next thing you know the baby is 6 years old and has no interest in the doll size sweater you expect him to fit into.  

  Right now the bank holds 5 sweaters; 2 for boys (sizes newborn and 1 year), 2 for girls (newborn and 3 months), and one unisex.  That should cover me for the triple baby shower coming in May.  I'll have until September to knit at least 3 more, but there is plenty of time for that.  Who knows?  Perhaps by that time there will be something in the works for me:)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What Boris and Natasha are up to & a Few Finished Objects

My husband, in a fit of either humor or jealousy, has named my needles Boris and Natasha.  Lately they've been into making socks.

Some book swap socks (tinyhugs offered me her copy of Cookie A's Sock Innovation book in exchange for the Sam socks, I couldn't refuse)

And a pair for my father in law.  Upon seeing me frantically trying to finish some thick pair for my father over Christmas, he said in a small wistful voice "I like thick socks..."  So here they are, and let me tell you, his feet are huge.

A couple things I've finished lately....

The Footies for Sarah.  I gave them to her Mom Tina yesterday, she was very excited.

And the Hallett's Ledge Cardigan, which I love and have worn every day since.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Treatise on Seams

            Seams have been a topic of some debate in my knitting circles as of late, and I feel compelled to defend them.  I love seaming a garment, this is why.

  1. Unlike most top down in the round sweaters (TDITRS), seamed sweaters have a little structure to them and stand just slightly away from the body.  Now, if you have the willowy figure of most knitting magazine models, the clinging nature of a TDITRS is of no consequence.  I however have a body shape that can best described as lumpy oompah loompah (short legs, long torso, poofy hair, just add some bronzer and children would follow me around looking for the chocolate river).  For those of you like me, a sweater that skims over the surface of your body is a godsend. 
  1. For a shameless product knitter, seams are like magic.  Compared to the relative slowness of knitting a garment, it is thrilling to take pile of random pieces and turn them into a sweater over the course of an hour or two.  The very thought sends lovely chills down my spine. 
  1. For those of you who are process knitters, seaming provides just slightly more time to spend with the project and yarn you love.  Ever find the end of a project to be a little sad?  Seaming gives you an opportunity to admire your work and spend a little extra time with the yarn. 
  1. It is dead easy.  Mattress stitch is perfect for your social knitting occasions.  There is also the added bonus of having fellow knitters right there to admire your work once it is complete (see #2, seaming is like magic). 
  1. For the perfectionist knitter, seams provide a handy ridge in which to weave in your ends.  No longer will you have the unfortunate experience of having the end poke through to the front of your garment after the first wash, it will be tucked inside the seam. 
  1. Along those lines, it is much cleaner to add a new ball of yarn at the end of a row when working flat.  Those TBITRS don’t usually let you work flat, do they??? 
  1. Set in sleeves fit better, especially on the well endowed (see #1). 
  1. For the obsessed knitter who can’t put down a project until its done (who me??): Working a project in pieces allows for logical stopping points within the project, thereby allowing you to go to work, clean the house, pay attention to your loved ones, and get some sleep. 
  1. For the frugal knitter who buys just enough yarn to finish the project.  You do not need the same yarn to seam your project as you do to knit it up.  In fact, sometimes an alternate yarn is preferable.  I recently seamed the sleeves to Hallett’s Ledge with a small amount of grey Palette, instead of the Portland Tweed I knit the project with.  Worked great! 
  1. Seaming does not involve live stitches!!!   I will concede that the Kitchener stitch, the three needle bind off, and the various other forms of grafting have their place.  I have been known to both use and enjoy them on occasion.  A seam however, will never leave you with the blood, sweat, tears, wailing and gnashing of teeth associated with dropping or twisting your Kitchener.  Promise J

Thursday, February 10, 2011

If your knitting group thinks you're crazy...

  Over the years my knitting and I have gotten our fair share of funny looks.  Recently, there was the disbelief of a coworker when told that I knit every day.  Who could forget the incredulity of a new boyfriend when I took out sticks and string at a minor league baseball game (he married me anyway).  Nothing though can match the stunned silence of the sip & knit group once they saw my journal.

  There we were, innocently discussing how we kept track of the details/errata/mistakes that inevitably come up with knitting a garment.  Some jot down notes on a pattern, some scribble them on scrap paper and tuck them into a book.  Not I, each night I write down the day’s progress in a leather bound journal, coded in different colored inks to correspond to each project.  (Do you hear that?  It’s scrape of chairs backing away from the table).

  At its heart, this stems from a work related duty to write everything down.  Documentation is one of the hallmarks of fine nursing, we write down everything and anything that happens over the course of a day.  What did your patient’s skin/hair/mouth look like?  What medication did they take? When? How much? What route?  Nurse’s are told from day one that “If it is not written down, it didn’t happen”. 

  Until recently I believed that this extended to only my professional life.  Knitting was something carefree, relaxed, free-flowing.  Then in late December my husband’s Aunt Julie called to thank me for the wonderful hand-knit gloves we gave her for Christmas.  The green was beautiful, the cables so intricate, and I had absolutely no memory of knitting them.  None.

  I racked my brain for days.  What was this project?  When did it happen?  5 days later my husband reminded me that his family uses the terms gloves and mittens interchangeably.  (This has become a learn to love quality.  I grew up in northern New England, residents of balmy Ohio play fast and loose labeling their winter gear)  I ran to the finished object pile, sure enough the green mittens made last September were not there.  Puzzle solved, but I was now convinced:

  If not written down, how do you know the knitting ever happened?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

On My Needles 2

Hooray for snow!  The many storms this week have given me an ample amount of time to knit.

First, an update on Hallett's Ledge, the arms are about halfway done.

I've also started a pair of footies for a little girl named Sarah.  Sarah sells me girl scout cookies, I knit her socks, its a fair trade.  Sarah's mom Tina is also one of the most industrious and helpful co-workers you could ask for.  As Tina chooses not to collect the stickers our employer would have us give each other out of gratitude, I've been left without any way to properly thank her.  Until she asked me to knit her daughter socks...

This is the Ribbed Ribbon's pattern from Wendy Johnsons book Socks from the Toe Up.  One down, hopefully the second will be done sometime this week.

Finally, a finished object!  (Well, two actually).  The Pointelle socks are done!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Knitting for Weight Loss?

  So I'm in my weight watchers meeting, knitting away, and a member pipes up with the following statement;

"I knit at night to keep from eating, it helps my weight loss".

  I was perplexed.  Now reader, I am for anything and anybody that advances the craft, but knitting for weight loss?  Turning out socks and mittens has never stopped me from stuffing my gullet.  Granted my hands are occupied, but it turns out that masticating while knitting is not all that hard to do.  Combine this with the fact that most knitting get-togethers include some combination of caffeine, baked goods and alcohol, the weight loss defense is hard to back up.

  Does it count as activity?  Sadly at 32 calories and hour (there is a handy calculator here) I cannot earn weight watchers points by knitting.  Spending these hours sitting flat on my backside doesn't help much either.   Stephanie Purl McPhee advocates knitting while exercising, but sweaty hands and merino do not mix well.  Moving around while distracted leads to crashing into things, injury, and more time spent flat on your backside.  Its a viscous circle.

  Unfortunately it does not look like knitting will be a key part of my weight loss journey.  I did recently here though that it lowers blood pressure, and is therefore heart healthy.

  Lets call it a draw.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

On My Needles

  I like to have two projects going.  A small portable one for instant gratification, then a big one for that just-finished-a-marathon sense of accomplishment when its done.  In an ideal world one of these would be a simple uncomplicated project for social/distracted knitting, but right now that's not the case.

Small Project: Pointelle (aka the Unexpected Birthday Socks) from Knit Sock Love by Cookie A.
  These are the socks intended for my SIL.  I'm halfway through the foot on the right sock.  The chart is not quite as intimidating once you start working it, and they are a lot of fun to knit.

Large Project: Hallett's Ledge Cardigan from the Fall 2010 Issue of Twist Collective. 

   The body of the sweater was finished yesterday and I started the sleeves today.  The pattern calls for working them on DPNs, but I've decided to work them flat and two at a time for simplicity's sake.  (Working two at a time in the round leads to me getting hopelessly tangled in both yarn and circular needles...)

  In a serendipity moment, I discovered that Elinor Brown, who designed Hallett's Ledge, is a medical student in my fair city!  I work at a major teaching hospital in said fair city!  I have vowed once finished to wear this sweater to work whenever possible -- even in August.  Dear readers, this is an act of bravery that rises above merely flirting with the dress code.  There is a good reason nurse's uniforms are cheap and easy to clean.  (A member of my knitting group mentioned I could just contact her on Ravelry, but that would not be nearly as fun as stumbling upon a designer while wearing her work).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gifting Knits

I was abandoned by a sock today. Right on my needles, just cast on it left me for another.

A quick aside. I am very much in love with Cookie A's new book Knit Sock Love, it is fabulous. In all its fabulousness the first project cast on from this book were her "Pointelle" socks. A leafy lace pattern interrupted by a sideways lace rib -- its gorgeous. It didn't matter that I already had a complicated wip on my needles, they begged to be cast on.

Cast on I did, and the betrayal began. One inch of twisted rib later they were too tight. "you know who's legs are slimmer?" it asked "Your sister in law's".
"Shush" I replied "I have only two pairs of hand knit socks and I adore them. You belong to me". To this end the cuff was ripped out and re-knit on slightly larger needles.

This is how most knitted gifts a born. I will start something intending it for me, and just a few rows in I know its perfect for someone else. Those orange socks? How could I think they were mine? Obviously they go to Tanya! The green lace scarf looks so much better on
my sister.

Unfortunately the converse is also true. When I actually set out to make a garment for someone else, a siren song will call on me to keep it for myself. Its hard to resist -- my first pair
anemoi mittens were originally for the aforementioned SIL -- and I felt so bad about keeping them a duplicate pair in green were frantically churned out days before Christmas.

The larger cuff was done. "See" I told the knit "you really are mine, look how well you fit".
When lace began, and the knit replied "her birthday is in May, imagine her opening the box, wearing them around their apartment". Beautiful, delicate sky blue leaves emerged from the needles...and said "we belong to another". They're right darn it. At least they'll be going to a good home.