Winning!

2012-08-13 02:43:20 +0000

It's a long-documented and well-known fact that I never win anything. Never. Random drawings, raffles, contests. No, no, and no. I have the worst luck.

Which makes it really unexpected and really really awesome that I won not one but TWO things last weekend from Natural Stitches Bingo. That I was notified of my winnings right around my birthday is just the icing on that unexpected cake.

As a random drawing, I won this lovely skein of Bitty yarn from Yarn Hollow in the colorway Zen. It's a fingering weight that's a little on the light side -- 490 yds should yield a nice big shawlette.

As my other prize, I won a sweater kit from Blue Sky Alpacas.

I'm at a bit of a crossroads here on what to do with it. It's four skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton yarn in Ladybug. The kit comes with a pattern for a sleeveless tank, which I do like, but probably wouldn't wear as a tank and especially not during the summer months because I think it would be too bulky. I'd be more likely to wear it layered over a long-sleeved tee during the fall or spring, and if I'm doing that then wouldn't it be smarter to make it out of wool than out of cotton?

Also, the kit came with four skeins of yarn, but the smallest size only requires three, and that means I'll likely end up with one and something left over and I really don't know what else I would do with that.

Know what pattern requires four skeins for its smallest size?

Yeah. Sea and Surf sweater from Superstar Knitting. And I'd planned on making this at some point anyhow so maybe I'll use the Ladybug red yarn for that, and then figure out something else for the tank, because I really do like that as well, and now I have the pattern for it.

I don't know. I'm torn. On the one hand the yarn/pattern came as a kit and I feel like I should use it as such. On the other, since I have four skeins doesn't it make more sense to make a sweater that uses all four skeins? Hm. In any case, I don't have to decide now. My knitting queue is pretty full right now, so I've got time to mull it over.

Drive-By Posting

2012-08-01 04:19:10 +0000

Okay, this is gonna be a fast one. The Olympics have started, but I only just got around to picking up the needles for my Ravellenics projects. I've been preoccupied by Bingo! I did end up completing both a straight Bingo, as well as the July Special Bingo. I got a new card for August as well, but I'm not sure whether or not I'll finish it, since most of the month will be dedicated to Ravellenics, and then I have some WIPs I'd like to get finished before I jump into my Fall knitting, which is usually followed quickly by my Christmas knitting. Busy busy busy.

Anyhow, I've been productive and have got some stuff done. I finished my first Christmas knitting project. No pictures of that, sorry, I don't want to spoil the surprise. I also finished my gloves. I hated knitting them. All the stupid fingers with their short rounds, and all the stupid ends that I had to weave in. But all of that fiddly work was totally eclipsed by the joy of having gloves that actually fit.

I've got thin hands with long fingers, so this means that if a pair of gloves fits my hand then the fingers are too short. And if I buy larger gloves with longer fingers, then the hand is too loose. So in the winter I either wear mittens, or (more likely) just keep my hands in my pockets.

Now, however, I've got a lovely warm pair of properly fitting gloves. Just in time for, uh, August? At least I'll be well prepared for when Winter finally does arrive.

In the meantime, I'll be working on my Ravellenics projects through the 12th. I've resurrected Sarah's Embarassingly Belated Birthday Socks. I worked about half a dozen rounds on them tonight, but am hoping to put a bigger dent in them tomorrow. I'd set these aside because they come with a complicated chart that has lace shaping on every round and I don't like having to pay attention to it. So, to try to keep going on it, I'm going to pair it with a second plainer project that I can knit a few rows on every now and then to take the edge off.

As my second project, I'll be working on her wrist cuff. I didn't like the way that it was coming out: the fabric was way too dense, but the cast-on edge was too loose so one end of it flared oddly. I ripped it out, gave the yarn a quick dunk in the water to get the kinks out so I'm not knitting with yarn that looks like ramen noodles, and will be casting on again with larger needles. I think going up a couple of sizes should fix any issues.

At the end of this, hopefully I'll have two completed projects for Sarah. I think that plus the Ravellenics will be the motivation I need to give me a big enough kick in the butt to finally get these over and done.

Bingo and Brussels Sprouts

2012-07-26 01:33:07 +0000

Despite both my enthusiasm and my optimism (both of which are usually the harbingers of impending failure) this whole Bingo thing that my LYS is doing is going really well for me. As usual, I've waited until the deadline is looming large to get everything done but I've got it to the point where this month's goals are pretty much in the bag for me. I need to collect three more stamps within the next six days, one of which is my usual Knit Night so I'll be there anyhow. During that time I need to complete Christmas Project #1, which only needs ends woven in, details duplicate stitched into the intarsia sections (because intarsia with eleven colors was a slightly bigger slice of crazy pie than I was willing to take on) and a bit of seaming. It's about one evening's worth of solid work.

I also need to purchase 5 notions, which I'll have no problem with. I'm forever losing tape measures and stitch markers, and we won't even discuss the fact that my house is a black hole for darning needles. I also need to buy buttons for a sweater I've got planned. No problems there either.

Then, lastly, I need to complete my gloves.

Because I hate knitting gloves, this will be my biggest challenge. (This also explains why I've left it for last.) I've never actually knit a pair of gloves before, though I did knit a pair of fingerless gloves where the little finger holes just about killed off my will to live, so I felt sure enough of my stance on knitting gloves, particularly knitting the fingers of gloves, that I could go ahead and take this position. Yeah, sure, I did feel a little bit like a kid declaring "I hate brussels sprouts!" without ever having tried them, but now that I am knitting a pair of gloves and it turns out that I do hate them, I feel totally vindicated in my opinions, premature though they may have been. (For the record, I was right about the brussels sprouts too.)

It's the fiddly-ness of knitting just a few stitches in the round, and having to try on the glove partway through to get them the right length, and then break the yarn and reattach and pick up stitches and do it all over again. This is why glove the first only got two fingers before I went ahead and cast on for glove the second. I'm pretending that it's so I can knit each of the fingers on the glove back to back so I've got a better chance of getting both sets of fingers the same number of rows, but really it's because I hate knitting the fingers so much that even the ribbing looked pretty appealing. (Though in typing this out I just realized the flaw in my plan: I knit two fingers of the first glove and hated it so much that I started the second glove.... so that at the end of it I can knit the remaining eight fingers at once. Right. Smooth going there, Einstein.)

And because my knitting just wouldn't be mine if it didn't give me grief, I had to knit the hand of the first glove twice. As I mentioned before, I'm using a Lion Brand pattern for this. Is it just me, or is the sizing on Lion Brand patterns a little wonky? I've knit a sweater from one of their patterns that I had issues with as well.

For this glove, rather than knitting the garter stitch cuff, which I decided was stupid looking, I cast on the number of stitches it said to end up with and the base of the hand and knit some ribbing. It came out way too tight. I ripped it out, and knit the larger size of the pattern. The cuff fit, so I continued with the larger size. When I finished the hand, before starting in on the fingers I tried it on again, and discovered that although the cuff fit snugly, the hand was way too loose. After ripping back down again, I kept the larger-sized cuff, but knit the smaller-sized hand. The hand is now fine, and the fingers are just shy of being too snug. I see that as more evidence of wonky sizing since my fingers are skeleton-skinny. (My wedding ring is a size 3 3/4, for reference.) So I don't think this pattern would really work for anyone with normal fingers. The lengths are also completely wrong, but I have long fingers so I sort of saw that one coming. The pattern says to knit the ring finger to a length of 2". That left my finger bare to the first joint. Hence all the trying on.

Anyhow, I plan on finishing the rest of the hand of glove the second tonight, and maybe get the pinky done. That leaves seven fingers over five days. Knitting two fingers a day (I believe that pacing myself is the key to finishing these things) means I finish on Sunday, and the month is over on Tuesday. Perfect, provided I stick to it. And that, of course, remains to be seen.

Freaking Out the Muggles

2012-07-23 23:30:48 +0000

I do quite a bit of knitting in public. I knit in coffeeshops, I knit while waiting for movies to start, I knit anywhere that I have to queue for a long-ish period of time. I knit at bars and in restaurants, at concerts and orchestra performances, on buses and trains and planes, in parks and on my own front porch. I almost always carry a sock-in-progress tucked away in my purse, and anytime that I have to wait I'll pull it out and work a few rows. It keeps me from being impatient, and if the wait runs long this way I end up with a half inch of sock instead of a frayed temper. It keeps my hands busy, and keeps me from feeling like I've wasted any amount of time.

That's all well and good, but -- and this may just be the gleeful nonconformist in me speaking -- I think that my favorite part of knitting in public is watching other people's reactions to it.

Most people will ignore it, quite obviously and deliberately. Some are better at this than others, but most will glance at it, then look away and very studiously avoid looking back.

Other people will stare. Long and hard and without making eye contact with me at all. They'll just watch my needles and yarn with an expression that will range somewhere between mild bemusement to utter bafflement.

Those are expected, typical even, for me to encounter. But I've never yet run into anyone who appeared to actually dislike my knitting. I ran into someone like that the other day for the first time, which is what prompted this entry.

I tagged along with Jason, who is in the market for a new bike, when he went over to a local bike shop to try a couple of their bikes out to help him narrow down his decision. While he was off taking them for a test run, I took advantage of the nice weather and stood out on the sidewalk in front of the shop and knit away on my hat. Most people were either ignoring me or staring at the yarn.

Then an older gentleman approached from up the sidewalk, eyeing my knitting with a furrowed brown and a small frown of mild consternation on his face. As he drew closer and got a good look at what I was doing, his expression changed to the exact expression I'd have expected to see on someone if they'd caught me performing a mystical voodoo ritual in the middle of a public sidewalk, complete with animal sacrifice and a bubbling cauldron. This guy actually crossed to the other edge of the sidewalk so that he could pass by as far away from me as he could get, all the while regarding my knitting with extreme repugnance. I should mention that not once did he look at me. Just at my hat-in-progress.

So, confusion? Yes. Disbelief? Got that one too. Revulsion? That's a new one for me. I'm still not quite sure what to make of it.

That's not to say that everyone is weird about knitting, of course. A surprisingly large number of people will come forward to comment that their mother/grandmother/aunt/cousin/whoever knits, and they'll tell me a bit about the knitter in their life. Or I'll get asked fairly often what it is that I'm making, which is a good safe question, and then we'll chat a bit about that and how it's nice to have a warm hobby when I live somewhere with cold winters. And of course, knitting in public is like throwing up the Bat Signal to anyone else who happens to knit themselves, and those conversation are always nice.

I just can't get over that guy. Maybe he had a bad experience with knitting in the past, though I'm at something of a loss to even imagine what.

Anyhow. Oh! Along the topic of knitting in public, I just got this cute little bag that makes it so much easier.

It's from Stitched by Sasha. She's got an Etsy store, and her bags are also for sale through my LYS, Natural Stitches. They're very well made, sturdy and thick enough that an errant needles won't poke through, and fully lined with a complimenting fabric on the inside. A ball of sock yarn fits perfectly into it with plenty of room left for the sock-in-progress. Best of all, they've got a handy little loop on the top that's just the perfect size for hooking over my forearm so that I can knit while standing up, and the ball of yarn is right there so that I can tug free more yarn whenever I need with a minimum amount of fuss.

The most difficult part about buying this bag was trying to decide which fabric I wanted. I settled for this one because it's bright pink, but in her shop right now she's got  really cute ones and I sort of wish I'd taken a browse through there rather than buying from my LYS. (although I needed to do that for my Bingo card, so even if I could do it over again I'd end up with this bright pink one.) She chooses such great fabrics for these bags that no matter which one I pick, I'm pretty much doomed to finding another one I like just as much.

I've currently got the travelling sock's mate in there (as pictured above) as my on-the-go project since it's the only thing I've currently got on the needles right now that's simple enough to be knit while I'm out and about.

Everything else is coming along nicely. I finished the intarsia bits on Secret Christmas Project #1 and pinned that down for a quick blocking last night. Intarsia and fair isle (yeah, I totally cheated on part of this and did fair isle instead of intarsia) always look better after a blocking evens everything out, and since the finished project isn't a nice flat easily blockable thing, I went ahead and pinned it out and used my quick and dirty blocking method that's proved useful in the past. Rather than a full soaking and because I don't own a spray bottle, I pin down the project around the edges, dunk a washcloth in water and press it to the areas I need to block. Just those areas end up wet, and the whole thing dries in less than a day. I pinned it out last night, and by the time I got home from work it's dry enough for me to get it back on the needles tonight. Easy peasy.

I'm off to go knit on it some more. I think I can get the fiddly bits of it done tonight, and then I'll be onto the easy parts to take it into Knitting Night tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Back to Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

2012-07-22 20:40:58 +0000

After coming home from the GAP trip, I've been pretty busy knitting-wise. I finally started my Rhossili Beach Watch Cap, from Wendy Knits Lace. It gave me some amount of trouble, but I managed to wrestle it into submission.

I started it the first time, knitting on needles one size larger than the pattern calls for. I knit four inches of ribbing, tried it on, and it was right on the edge of getting too tight. Since the brim gets folded up, that would make it even tighter once it was finished. Also, the yarn was doing with weird rainbow-ish pooling thing which I wasn't impressed with at all. (Well, aside from the fact that I've never ever gotten a Dream in Color yarn to pool before. Their yarn is dyed specifically to AVOID pooling so I'm not sure what's going on with this skein.) So I ripped it out, and using the same needles I cast on for the medium size, thinking that more stitches would avoid the pooling issue.

As you can see, that didn't quite work out. But in the face of ripping it out a second time, I just don't care. I am so slow at knitting ribbing, and I really don't want to spend another six hours getting back up to where I am. So, whatever. I'm just going to have a rainbow hat. That doesn't stop me from being irritated, of course. I really love the colorway Cloud Jungle when it does what it's supposed to and blends nicely.

The odd rainbow effect is most noticeable on the brim, which luckily does get folded up, as I mentioned. So it's a bit less obvious when the hat's worn.

Still there, but a little more subtle. Anyhow, since it's my hat and will be on my head and thus out of my sight, I don't really care too much about it. The pattern is cute, the finished hat fits perfectly, and I really wish it were autumn already so I could get to wear it now.

That's the worst thing about warm-weather knitting. I think to myself that it's a great idea to get ahead by knitting cold-weather items, and then when I finish them I want to wear them right away. Sigh.

I've also finished a pair of socks for Dad. I used the two skeins of Cascade 220 Superwash in Shire that I bought with my last Webs order during their annual Spring sale. I don't know if Cascade is doing something different with their yarn, or if I just got a strange batch or what, but this yarn is so soft. Very soft. Much softer than the 220 Superwash I've used in the past. So, um, yay?

I used my own pattern for the socks, doing a basic cuff-down thing to Dad's foot measurements. I didn't want to do just plain boring socks, so after a bit of playing around with some scrap yarn, I came up with a way to do a little cabled M, his first initial. The idea of knitted monogramed socks cracks me up, but unfortunately I couldn't figure out how to use both of his initials and still make it come out legible, so just the one it is. I might play around with it some more, but we'll see.

I've also been knitting away on Super Secret Christmas Project #1. That's right, I'm starting my Christmas knitting in JULY! I'm not going down this year, I tell you! (yeah, yeah, famous last words. I know.)

Anyhow, I'm very glad that I started this now because I'm already set to tear my hair out over it. Have I mentioned how much I hate intarsia? Because I do. Remember the mess that was J-L's hat? This mess? Well. I'm reliving the nightmare.

(Shown here in black and white so I can still blog about it without giving anything away. Because, honestly, if you can tell anything about what the finished project will be like by looking at that hot mess? Well, you should be out using your fantastic psychic powers to win the lottery or clean up at a Vegas casino or something, not reading my blog.)

Yeah. I've got it going with seven colors, and in another few rows I get to add two more. Nine colors. As if that's not nearly fun enough, we'll just throw my inability to count into the mix. I keep messing up the chart and having to tink back. Where I am right now, I've messed up again. I should have 11 stitches of white, but I have twelve and everything else looks correct and I really really don't want to go back again I just want it to work and I don't understand why it isn't--

I threw it all in its bag and called it a night.

I was actually doing quite well, too. I made the discovery that if you're very careful you can avoid tangles. When dropping color A, if you cross it to the left of color B when you pick it up every single time without fail, then on the wrong side you twist the yarn around the other strands, and on the right side, they untwist themselves again. Like magic. It was going well until I had to join a new color on the wrong side, and rather than tangling in a way that would magically undo itself on the new row, it tangled in a bad way that not only messed up itself, but also prevented everything else from untangling when it should, and then I tried to fix it myself but that only made it worse because I'm trying to work from both ends of the ball at once because I'm bad at estimating yardage amounts and really don't want to end up with too much, which would leave me with odd short pieces that are too long to toss but too short to use, or too little, which would give me a billion more ends to weave in.

I'm probably going to just cut the yarn and hope for the best. Wasting a bit of yarn is well worth my sanity, and if I have more ends to weave, well, so what? Knitting under the influence is one thing, but I've never had anything bad happen while weaving ends with a couple glasses of wine in me. (What do you think got me through finishing J-L's hat? That thing could have doubled as a shag carpet when I finished the knitting. No way could I have made my way through that sober.

I also have the yarn for a pair of gloves skeined up and ready to go. After finishing up my hat last night, I didn't feel like taking on Intarsia Project of Christmas Doom so I went ahead and cast on. I'm working from a free Lion Brand pattern for gloves that are actually sort of ugly. They're knit with a garter stitch button band thing that you whack a great big decorative button onto at the end, which Lion Brand claims give the finished gloves "an extra sophisticated touch" but which I think look dumbass and would probably be annoying when they catch the cuff of my coat and either ruck the coat sleeve up or would pull the gloves down. Also, I really don't want to bother going out to find buttons. So I ended up just figuring out how many stitches the pattern said to end up with at the bottom of the hand, cast on that many and knit for 2" in good plain non-dumbass 2x2 ribbing. My gloves are also not the fetching grape Kool-Aid purple the pattern recommends. Mine are a light sandy-brown color, which I think will look nice with my red coat.

In the meantime, to keep my sanity, I've also been browsing patterns. I've decided that I need a big lace project. I'm thinking about knitting an Omelet shawl with my skein of Findley Dappled. I've also decided that I'm going to use my Noro Kirameki for a Juno Regina shawl. The middle section of that pattern looks kind of boring, but the lovely color changes of the Noro should keep me entertained well enough.

That'll have to wait until mid-August, though. I have my gloves and Super Secret Christmas Project #1 to finish by the end of July for the Natural Stitches Bingo game, and then it's time for the Ravelympics Ravellenic Games. I'm going to enter Sarah's Embarassingly Belated Birthday Socks into the WIP Wrestling category. I think that finishing them during the time frame of the Olympics, but I'm hopeful that the fact that they're the only project I'll be working on during that time will get me very close to being done with them. My ultimate goal is to have them totally done by the time I go home for a visit in late August.

Now I'm off to once again do battle with Intarsia Project of Christmas Doom. Wish me luck.

The GAP - Day 4

2012-07-20 00:43:21 +0000

After another hearty and delicious breakfast from the Levi Deal Mansion, we set off on the last part of our trip. The day started well enough, with part of it through the woods and shady. We saw another doe with two fawns pass across the trail in front of us. Most of it was only just uphill enough to be noticeable. We didn't really see any more farmland, but a large chunk of the ride passed through fields. And in the fields were these awful biting flies that swarmed us if we stopped or slowed down. They attacked while we were riding, though less so if we rode faster. It was terrible. These rotton things were even biting me through my clothing, and let me tell you, it's not exactly easy to ride a bike while flailing like a muppet (though I'm sure it was at least marginally entertaining for everyone else.) I will say, though, that biting flies are an excellent motivator to pedal faster. Though that early part of the trail was hot and sunny and full of biting insects, it passed remarkably quick, all things considered.

The turning point from where it stopped sucking and started being fun again came, appropriately, at the Continental Divide.

There's a little tunnel at the very top that the flies didn't go into, and we rested there for a little bit. There's an elevation chart that shows how much the GAP climbs and falls. Pretty amazing to see it mapped out like that.

Though the steepness of the trail never exceeds a 2% slope, we'd actually climbed from around 700-ish feet to a whopping 2392 above sea level. Pretty darn awesome! And very exciting looking at the next leg of our ride. In just 22 miles, the elevation drops from 2392 down to only 605, which was even lower than we'd started from. (Perryopolis isn't marked on this chart, but it's about halfway between Connellsville and West Newton. Anyhow, at that point, I was more than ready to go downhill.

We passed through that little tunnel, and on the other side the difference was incredible and instantly noticeable. We'd been averaging around 9 mph up until now, but suddenly going downhill we were doing around 14. Doesn't sound like it, but it's a BIG difference. All the tiredness and discomfort evaporated. We passed through the Big Savage Tunnel, an old rail tunnel constructed in 1911. It's just shy of 3300 feet long, and sparsely lighted (just enough to keep you from crashing into the walls -- between the lights it gets pitch black and let me tell you, it's really super freaky to be riding a bicycle when you're unable to see the ground you're riding on) and absolutley freezing cold. At the mouth of the tunnel, I could feel a bit of a chill wafting out from it, and by the time I was in its depths I had goosebumps and was shivering. The sock, being made of wool, was rather cozy.

The little row of lights in the tunnel are the electric lights in there. The one that's just slightly a different color at the bottom of the row? That's the daylight at the other end of the tunnel. This is a long tunnel. Just after leaving Big Savage Tunnel behind, the trail turns a bit and we came around a corner to this:

Pretty neat, huh? We continued along, scarcely pedalling, and then came upon this:

The Mason-Dixon Line. They'd laid a little brick section into the trail to clearly designate where Pennsylvania becomes Maryland. (In the above photo, the sock is in Pennsylvania. I was standing in Maryland to get the picture.) We rested there for a bit, took more pictures, and then got on our way.

The original plan called for stopping at Frostburg for lunch, but between the fact that we'd made such good time that morning along with the fact that there's a great big hill between the trail and the buildings of Frostburg that we really didn't feel like climbing, we decided that we could just push on through to our destination, Cumberland, MD.

The trail continued to slope downhill, we continued to make good time, and then we turned a bend and suddenly were beside an actual working railroad line.

This section of trail, while downhill, was not nearly as pleasant as the wooded section before it. This part was hot, and sunny, and rather dusty. We didn't pass any trains, which I was pretty relieved about. I like trains and all, but I wasn't eager to be that close to one. Especially as the path goes through another tunnel, Borden Tunnel, along with the train tracks. There are signs warning not to go into the tunnel if a train is passing through it, but it doesn't address the issue of what happens if a train goes into the tunnel while you're passing through it. In any case, it didn't happen.

We reached Cumberland a little past noon, and were greeted by this just outside the city.

She was right next to the trail, and evidently decided that we weren't worth the bother of interrupting her lunch for. We took some pictures of her and left her to it, in favor of pursuing our own lunch.

We ended up going to a Mexican place for lunch that was quite good. We celebrated the end of our trip with a pitcher of margaritas.

As it turns out, there's a lovely little yarn shop in Cumberland by the name of Millicent's Yarns and More. Because our rooms weren't available until after 3 and the shop closed at 5, there wasn't really the time for us to get checked in and cleaned up and back to the shop in time to browse before they closed for the evening, so we went beforehand.

I'd like to say a great big THANK YOU to the staff at Millicents. I came into their shop sweaty and grimy with trail dust (but with freshly washed hands -- can't fondle yarn with dirty hands, obviously) and probably smelling a little ripe, but they welcomed me in with smiles and warm greetings all around. They served up exactly the customer service that I like in a yarn shop: a hearty welcome greeting, an offer of assistance should I require help, and then being left alone to browse. They checked in with me periodically but mostly just left me to it. They have a wonderful selection of yarns that my own local yarn shop doesn't carry, and I had a very hard time narrowing down my decision.

Eventually I selected this yarn to come home with me:

This is Findley Dappled from Juniper Moon Farm, a luscious 50% merino wool / 50% silk laceweight yarn in the colorway Frogs Back. I picked it because (other than the silk content, lol) it has all the colors that remind me of the trail I'd just rode through. Brown and a mossy green for the trees, grey for the rocks, and just a little bit of blue peeping through every so often that reminded me of the sky and the river. It's almost 800 yards, so plenty for a large shawl. I'm thinking Omelet.

Anyhow. The sock is back home now (obviously) and in keeping with my character I have yet to knit up its mate. I've got some time until Pittsburgh gets cold enough for me to be wearing wool socks anyway, so I might put it off for a bit. Maybe take it on a trip of its own so that I've got a pair of travelling socks.

This one did such interesting things, why shouldn't the other?

The GAP - Day 3

2012-07-18 02:12:01 +0000

My apologies, it's been a while again. I really am awful at this whole consistent blogging thing. Fail fail fail. Which especially funny because I have lots to blog about, and I've been really busy knitting-wise. I really need to get my act together.

Anyway, when last we left off, the sock was about to start the next leg of its journey to Meyersdale. After a hearty and delicious breakfast, we set off from Confluence House and got back on the trail. While the previous day's ride had been lovely and shady, today's trip would be very sunny so we got an early start so that at least part of our ride would be during the cooler morning hours.

The morning's ride was actually rather pleasant, and scenic. There was a little shade, and the temperature was just low enough that the warm sun felt nice. There were more bridges as the path hopped back and forth over the river, and we passed on bridge in particular all decked out for the 4th of July.

The sock couldn't resist posing.

We made good time to Rockwood, where we stopped at a little cafe for lunch. When we got back on the trail that afternoon, the sun was less pleasant and the temperature had climbed. Partway through our ride, we saw a path down to the river, and we couldn't resist going on down and dunking our feet in. We rested there for a little while, and the cool water felt very good. The sock couldn't be convinced to join us in the water, but it did get in a bit of sunbathing time. And you know how the sock seems to like rocks...

From there we continued on, and the scenery changed. Far less trees and shade, and more fields and farmlands. We went over the Salisbury Viaduct, which is very very high, and very very long. (100 feet over the Casselman river valley, and nearly half a mile long!) After three days of a packed stone dust trail, riding on that much long flat concrete felt like a luxury. And the view wasn't half bad either.

From then on, there wasn't much shade, but there were lots of farms. The sock passed fields, and barns, and livestock. We smelled the livestock long before we saw them. Have you ever smelled cows in 90+ degree heat? The sock has. It's not a terribly good smell, but there's something very honest about it, if that makes any sense. It's the same sort of smell as dirt, or rain, or warm grass.

These cows were up on a hill and seemed pretty uninterested in us as we passed by. We saw some other cows a bit closer up, and the trail ran right alongside some of the farm buildings. I particularly liked this one, the red barn and the blue tractor. It looks like something out of a picture book.

We made it to Meyersdale by mid afternoon. Right at the edge of the trail there is a little train museum. There were pictures, and a large stuffed chicken (which the sock wanted its picture taken with but declined to do so under the watchful eye of the staff) and several elaborate model train sets.

After taking a little bit to rest in the shade and figure out where to go from there, we hopped back on the bikes and made our way the short distance to our stop for the night: Levi Deal Mansion. And what a mansion it is! It's a huge old house that the owners spent a lot of time and effort and expense in restoring. It's lovely. After taking a shower (a really nice modern shower -- I nearly swooned when I saw that there was a modern shower instead of a clawfoot tub) I went downstairs where I was offered a beer, and the sock and I sat down in the dining room to unwind a bit.

In the dining room with us were two little girls who were coloring together. I'd only been down there for a few minutes when the older of the two (about 5-ish) came over to me and asked if I was making a sock.

Able to recognize a partially-finished sock on DPNs? This is clearly a child with a knitter in her life.

After I confirmed that I was, indeed, knitting a sock, she grins up at me and asks, "Can that sock be for me?"

"No," I told her. "I'm knitting it in an adult size. It's way too big to fit you."

"Oh," she said, contemplating this. "Well. I could just save it until it fits."

Smothering a laugh, I replied, "But socks come in pairs, and I only have one so far. You can't just wear one sock."

She looked shocked. "I wouldn't actually WEAR it. Just... keep it."

A child who knows the value of a handknit sock? Definitely knows a knitter.

In any case, she went off back to her table, and she and her sister giggled together for a few minutes, then approached me again, and presented me with a page from their coloring book.

After I complimented them on their vibrant color choices, the older one pipes up, "So, you have a picture. Can the sock be for me now?"

Very persistant. Eventually she accepted that no, the sock was not going to be for her, and she instead settled for "helping" me knit. She held the ball of yarn and pulled out more yarn for me when I needed it. There was dancing involved, and she tried for a while to balance the ball on her head, but mostly she was just really cute about it. Unfortunately the fun ended when her sister joined us, and kept trying to grab at the yarn after wiping her nose on her hands. The ball of yarn and the sock were quickly rescued from their potential boogery fate and jammed back into my knitting bag, while I claimed that my hands were getting tired of knitting. Which they actually were, a bit. And it was nearly time for dinner, anyhow.

Tomorrow: the worst and best parts of the ride, arriving in Cumberland, the end of our journey, and a wonderful yarn shop.

The GAP - Day 2

2012-07-10 00:21:32 +0000

After waking up and eating a breakfast of DIY bagels, tea, and Aleeve, we set off from Greenwood House to Ohiopyle, our stop for lunch. The trail that day was much shadier than the ride we did the day before. We set off fairly early in the day, so it was nice and cool. We saw deer, including a mother deer and her fawn. They hopped away before anyone could get a camera out. I enjoyed this day's ride the most out of all the days they did.

The woods we rode through were lovely. The trail stayed pretty close along the river. And there were rocks. Did I mention the rocks? It turns out that western Pennsylvania is full of 'em. You can't swing a cat without hitting a rock. There were big rocks.

And bigger rocks...

And rocks so big that they weren't rocks so much as they were walls.

There were rocks green with vegetation, and rocks in the water, and well, just rocks rocks and more rocks.

One of the nicer things about that portion of the trail was that we kept passing little rocks creeks and tiny waterfalls (where the water wasn't falling so much as trickling) and each time we biked past one it was like passing through a blast of AC. Crazy how much water can keep things cooler. We stopped beside one to rest, and the sock hung out and cooled off for a minute too.

Because this was an old railroad line, the trail never got steep. I didn't realize how high up we were until all of a sudden we turned a bend in the trail and were suddenly looking down at the river we'd been beside only an hour earlier.

We also went over bridges as the trail hopped from one side of the river to the other. Some of the bridges were big and very high up.

The sock rather enjoyed the bridges, as you can see. It is a very adventurous sock, getting right up on the edge there.

We reached Ohiopyle right around lunchtime only to discover that the storm from Friday night had evidently gone easy on Perryopolis, but hadn't held back as it moved east. Ohiopyle was still without power. Later on we would see downed trees, but the trail at this point was still pretty clear.

We made good time from Ohiopyle down to Confluence, where we made our way over to Confluence House and checked in. After another clawfoot-tub-shower we went for dinner. The socks met some ducks. The ducks were not particularly impressed with the sock.

After dinner, we walked to the river and dipped our toes in. The sock sat on another rock. Because, you know, it didn't get to do enough of that already that day.

Then we went back to Confluence House where the sock met another knitter who had checked in while we were at dinner. I didn't get much chance to talk to here, but she was knitting very pretty colorwork gloves in what appeared to be Knitpicks City Tweed DK in a dark purple and lighter grey. I love coming across other knitters in the wild.

We called it a night pretty early, because we had a big day ahead of us. Tomorrow, the sock sees (and smells) farmland, crosses the Salisbury viaduct, and makes it to Meyersdale.

The GAP - Day 1

2012-07-08 18:51:39 +0000

For the 4th of July, I went on a bike trip with Jason, his parents, and a sock-in-progress. We did the Great Allegheny Passage, which is an old railroad line that was converted into a bike path. It's about 150 miles long, from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MD. From there it connects to the C&O trail that runs the rest of the way to Washington DC. We didn't do the entire GAP, since the part that's in Pittsburgh isn't completed yet. Instead, we drove about an hour outside of the city and started in Perryopolis. The plan was to head over there after work on Friday, have a nice dinner at the restaurant in Lenora's Bed and Breakfast, and then start out early the next morning.

Lenora's is a cute little place; part of it is a huge old house, but with modern rooms added onto the back, and a huge wraparound porch. We got there as planned on Friday evening and checked in. The room was cute, and best of all came with a pink crocheted afghan that the sock immediately made friends with.

After getting all out gear stowed away, we went in the bar to wait for dinner, and I enjoyed a glass of wine as I knit a little on my travelling sock. We went into the dining room and sat down to our delicious meal as we listened to a storm rolling in. Halfway through, the lights flickered, flickered again, and went out. Kudos to the staff of Lenora's -- they managed to get the rest of our meal completed and out to us, and brought in lots of candles for our table. I had a veal dish that was absolutely wonderful. After dinner, we sat out on the porch and watched the rain for a while before heading to bed. We were given a flashlight and some electric Christmas candle decorations to light up our rooms (points for creativity!) and we called it a night.

The power came back on the next day and we got up and started. Jason and his dad were driving one of the cars out to Cumberland, our end point, and they left early. His mom and I sat down to a wonderful breakfast of sliced fruits, pastries, a baked bread dish, and scrambled eggs with bacon. We sat on the porch for an hour or so as we waited for the menfolk to return, and I finished the ribbing on the sock. We also had a visit from a neighborhood cat by the name of Anakin Skywalker.

We started out on the trail at about 11AM. I wasn't sure quite what to expect, but it was very nice. I knew that it was an old railroad line that had been taken  out and then filled in with stone dust, but beyond that didn't really know. It turned out to be quite nice.

That morning we only had to go about 15 miles from Perryopolis to our first stop, Connellsville. There turned out to be not a whole lot to do in Connellsville, so after grabbing lunch at what appeared to be one of the only restaurants in town, we headed over to Greenwood House to check in for the night. Greenwood House is another large old house that was converted into a bed and breakfast. What I didn't know about it was that you end up staying there with two rooms of other people and there's only one bathroom. Luckily we were the first ones there, so I went ahead and hopped into the shower, which is an old cast-iron clawfoot tub. Worst shower I've ever taken in my life. The faucet put out a stream of water that was more akin to a gentle spring rain, and did so in a wide circle that was empty in the middle. After everyone else braved the shower as well, we sat around for the rest of the evening, ordered a pizza, and watched movies. The sock grew quite a bit, and made friends with another afghan.

As a side note, see that? I'm past turning the heel and into the gusset decreases. The first sock/afghan shot shows where I was that morning (about 5 rounds into the ribbing) and by that evening I was into the gusset decreases. I was stunned. I've always been a slow knitter, and always thought of myself as a slow knitter. Knitting half a sock in one day? Not exactly slow. My mind is still boggling over this fact.

Tomorrow, the sock meets some rocks, we see some deer, visit Ohiopyle, and ride on to Confluence.

Channeling the Harlot

2012-06-29 15:46:37 +0000

In true form to how my life goes, my stupid arm was a slow and steady recovery. The instant that I felt it was well enough to survive knitting.... I caught an awful cold that totally knocked me on my ass. Let me just say that colds are awful, but there's just something about coming down with one in the summertime that makes it all that much worse. I actually had to take the day off work on Monday because I was so miserable, and I slept pretty much all day. By now, I'm feeling mostly recovered. Still somewhat congested, but other than that I'm feeling fine.

I haven't done a whole lot of knitting this week, but I finally managed to finish up my blue socks.

I'm still somewhat bothered that the cuffs are too short. Not any definition of "too short" that makes any sort of sense, mind you. It's not that the cuffs are uncomfortable or don't fit or look weird. No, the reason I feel that they are "too short" is because I didn't use up all of the yarn. I was left with two teeny little balls of yarn, each less than an inch in diameter. Had I used them up, the sock cuffs would probably only be a whopping half inch longer. That's not enough to make them more comfortable or better fitting or better looking, but the nutty neurotic part of my brain insists that this will keep them from being "too short." This genuinely bothers me, to the point where I was considering frogging the damn socks and reknitting them, which makes zero sense, but we already established that the rational part of my brain has evidently gone on permanent vacation.

And then a solution occured to me. A simple, elegant, practical solution that would involve neither ripping the socks out nor being driven to distraction by the fact that they are "too short."

I packed those suckers up and slapped a label on the front to send them off to my grandmother.

Done!

Or, at least it will be once I actually make it to the post office.

In the meantime, I'm going to be channeling the Yarn Harlot : I've got a bike trip ahead of me, and a travelling sock that'll be going along for the ride.

Ravelympics

2012-06-22 02:21:43 +0000

Well, since I still can't knit, I might as well blog. And if I'm going to blog, I might as well throw my two cents on the bandwagon and weigh in on this whole Ravelry/USOC situation that's been going down over the past day or so. My twitter page and blog feed have been blowing up with it, not to mention all the kerfluffle on Ravelry itself.

For those of you not in the know about this, coinciding with the Olympics, Ravelry hosts the Ravelympics. Knitters form teams, usually based on a common interest, and select projects that will force them to challenge themselves. These projects must be cast on no earlier than the opening ceremonies, and completed before the Olympic torch goes out. Crafters watch coverage of the Olympic games and cheer on their countries' athletes pushing their limits and breaking records as we worked on projects that pushed the bouderies of our own comfort zones. I think it's a fantastic idea, and fosters idea of teamwork and community and spreads excitement about the Olympics.

I participated in the Winter 2010 Ravelympics, and frankly it was the first time in my life I was actually interested in watching any Olympic coverage at all. To challenge myself, I chose to knit a February Lady Sweater. I had never knit a full sweater before; my first attempt was a seamed cardigan that I ended up frogging before I finished it, and a cropped raglan that I wouldn't call a "sweater" so much as I'd call it a "learning experience." Moreover, I had never knit anything large in such a short time frame. Due to an unfortunate feline-related incident that led to me having to reknit one of the sleeves, I did not finish before the extinguishing of the torch, but I still finished in record time for me: just 23 days, and that's including the week that I shoved it into time-out because I was disappointed and couldn't stand to work on it. Me, me, knitting a sweater, in just three weeks. I pushed my own limits, I broke my own records, and it was awesome.

Come this year, I'm starting to plan out my project, I'm figuring out which team to join, and generally looking forward to competing with my fellow crafters as I cheer on the best athletes the USA has. And then, it happened. The USOC's lawyer contacted Ravelry (through their lawyer) and sent a Cease and Desist letter (full text of the letter can be read in this article) regarding the fact that the name "Ravelympics" infringes upon the USOC's "intellectual property rights." If the letter that they'd sent had just stuck to those facts, and requested that Ravelry rename their event, there probably would have been some amount of squabbling about it before the whole thing blew over. But the letter didn't stop there. The letter offered the opinion that the USOC believes that using the name Ravelympics to describe a competition for knitting and crocheting "tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games.  In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country's finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work." (We'll just step past the irony that the original modern Olympics included knitting as an event...) And that is what caused thousands upon thousands of knitters to simultaneously lose their shit. Suddenly and violently and all over the internet.

I stayed out of the way and kept my opinions to myself during the first 24 hours of this when tempers were running so high. Today, several of the more prominent knit bloggers weighed in with their thoughts, most notably The Yarn Harlot, who created the idea of a knitting Olympics. Her response is, as one would expect from our lovely Harlot, thoughtful, eloquent, and very level-headed. She makes excellent points, and I certainly felt calmer after reading her thoroughly rational opinions of the matter. My own opinions, however, do fall more in line with those of Kay of Mason Dixon Knitting. Her post basically says that the main issue with the USOC's letter is not the fact that they want to change the name of Ravelry's event, but the condescending tone they take.

And that's precisely my issue with it as well. Claiming that our knitting "denigrates" the actual Olympics and is "disrespectful" to the athletes? No one ever claimed that knitting puts them on par with an Olympic athlete. That's not the issue. What is the issue is the out of hand dismissal of fiber arts as a craft worthy of any respect at all. They basically said "What you're doing is stupid and makes us look worse just by association."

Knitting is something that I work hard at, I am passionate about, and I practice for several hours each day -- more, if I can get away with it. It's not something where I clack my needles together and a completed afghan appears, it's a very time-intensive process that requires no small amount of skill and talent. Epic Wedding Shawl took me three months to knit. Jason's sweater is going to take me in the neighborhood of 70 hours of work. At this point, I could segue into an entire separate rant about just how undervalued fiber crafting is on the whole, but that's not what this is about.

The USOC issued an apology today, that basically boiled down to "Sorry you're upset, but we sent you a form letter. Also, yay knitting! Wanna send us things you knit?" Predictably, this didn't help the situation. Someone with half a brain apparently took away the keyboard and issued a much more sincere apology for the insensitive wording used previously, and for any hurt feelings caused by  the same.

That's where it stands now. We'll see where it goes from there. The story is still unfolding, and is being picked up by more and more news sources. Personally, I'm hoping Kay of Mason Dixon Knitting gets her way with her campaign to get this whole mess covered in Stephen Colbert's People Who Are Destroying America segment. I'd knit a pair of socks for that.

The one silver lining to this otherwise dark and gloomy storm? More people than ever now know about the Ravelympics and Ravelry, and more awareness for knitting is never a bad thing.

the days of not-knitting

2012-06-15 21:29:07 +0000

I'm on day three of not knitting and it's killing me. On Tuesday, I had a doctor's appointment, and they drew blood to test, and it did not go well. Tuesday night I was hardly able to move my arm and was in lots of pain. It's gotten much better since then, but now (three days later) my inner elbow is still bruised and somewhat swollen. In a fit of optimism, I tried to do a bit of knitting last night. I managed one stinkin' row on the Wash sweater before admitting defeat. I'm tempted to try again tonight. Maybe the blue socks will go better since DPNs are more comfortable to knit with than 14" straights.

In the meantime, I've been doing other yarn-related things. Just to take the edge off, man, just to take the edge off. Last night I sat down and ripped back the six rows on the Larch shawl that I needed to rip back. I used the frogging method I've perfected over the years: rip back to the row before, then pull out the next row of stitches just a few inches at a time and pick them up with a needle several sizes smaller than what the project is using. In this case, since I'm knitting Larch on US 7s, I used size US 3s. The smaller needle makes it much less of a headache to catch at the stitches, and I don't have to deal with trying to jam the needle through a stitch only to pull out the loop of the next one. Then just knit from the smaller needle back onto the regular one. In this case, because of my arm, I just slipped the stitches back onto the US 7. Easy peasy.

Today, I finished up sorting through The Stash and uploading pics to my Ravelry stash page. I'd barely set up, when my first helper arrived.

She was very well behaved, and slept there for quite a while before moving on to the next napping spot. She was soon replaced by my second helper, who just couldn't resist the allure of a yarn fortress. The only way it could get better would be if someone would just get rid of those pesky cat-proof bags keeping her apart from her precious precious wool.

Now I'm doing stash-sorting. There's something deeply satisfying about getting organized. I refreshed myself on what exactly is lurking in The Stash, and I updated my mental queue of upcoming projects. ....and now I really want to knit it all.

Damn.

Instead I branched out into another crafty area. Remember a while ago I was talking about using the hot weather of summer as an excuse to brush up on my embroidery skills? I think I mentioned that. If I didn't just pretend I did. I have some great ideas that I might use as Christmas gifts, but I haven't embroidered anything since I was about 12 or 13, so I ordered a set of blank tea towels to brush up my skills with. Because I like making things for Jason, I offered to embroider whatever videogame characters he picked onto there. He never got back to me on that, so I just picked three for him. I went for the more cartoon-ish ones because those translate better to an embroidery pattern.

We've got Mario and Luigi, Megaman, and Link. I just did a google image search for those characters, picked one, adjusted the size, and printed it on regular paper. Then I took it downstairs to a window and taped it up there so the light went through it and traced the picture from the wrong side using hot iron transfer pencils. I need it to be backwards so that when I iron it onto the towels it will be reversed and be right way round again.

Now I just need to prewash the tea towels, which unfortunately has to wait until I do a load of towels. Then I'll iron on the transfers and get started. I'm pretty excited.

While I've been unable to knit, I've been reading in the evenings instead. Since Tuesday, I finished up The Star Beast by Robert Heinlein. That's one I hadn't read before, and it didn't disappoint. I think it's very interesting how he combines the kitschy Leave-It-To-Beaver 1950s feel with science fiction. I think it makes a very cool juxtaposition. Then I read a stupid teen book. Dystopian is the new vampire for young adult fiction, and like the paranormal influences that were all the rage before it, it's hit and miss. Some is fantastic, some is awful. This one was awful, but it only took me a day to read, so eh.

Now I'm reading something much better: Joe Golem and the Drowning City by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. Mignola is the creator of Hellboy, which is why I originally picked it up. Very enjoyable so far. I'm about halfway through now, and can't wait to finish it up.

So long, Mrs. Doodlepunk

2012-06-12 21:09:34 +0000

I've had my MacBook for 5 1/2 years now. It's been a very good five years, much better than that ill-conceived fling I had with an Averatec before then -- that relationship was volatile and especially toward the end was fulled with an ardent and completely mutual dislike for each other. I would mutter about it refusing to save my Word document, it would give me the blue screen of death (the computer's version of the middle finger.) I would call it a worthless piece of junk, it would throw part of its casing on the floor. At eleven months, just one month out of its warranty, the disc drive no longer worked, the battery wouldn't hold a charge, the AC adapter sometimes chose to not do its job, and the hard drive kept throwing errors and crashing so often that I would write my college papers in my email instead of in Word so that I had autosaved drafts of it. Oh, and parts of the casing, namely the joints that held the screen to the rest of the computer, started to fall off.

I probably asked for it, naming that poor bastard Robbie (after the robot in the first story of Asimov's I, Robot. And like his namesake, Robbie was slow and clumsy and rather outdated even just a year later.

I dumped him for a shiny new MacBook, whom I christened Mrs. Doodlepunk after one of my favorite books when I was little.

Watch Out, Mrs. Doodlepunk! is about a little girl called Mrs. Doodlepunk, and she is constantly annoyed by a neighborhood boy called Mr. Frizzboy. In one part of the book, he drops apples onto her head. So, apples... Apple computer... Mrs. Doodlepunk!

She has been a kind and loving computer over the years. Yes, it's true that she's been getting slower and slower, and her hard drive is completely full, and she can't handle Diablo III at all. But still she's been faithful to me, never once eating my papers or posts, never crashing, never destroying my data. She's just kept plugging away, and eventually we always got where we wanted to go, even if in her old age it does take her five minutes just to load iTunes.

So how do I repay all those years of loyalty? By replacing her with this:

Meet Mr. Frizzboy.

I just know we're going to be very happy together. Note the second blue sock cuff sitting beside him. Doesn't look like much? You'd be correct, sir! That's because most of my knitting time has been sucked up into this.

This is how far along I am on the Wash sweater. Doesn't look like a whole heck of a lot either, but that right there is 5 hours and 50 minutes of my life. Yeah, for kicks I decided it would be a fun idea to track just how long this thing takes me to knit up. Clearly I have some masochistic tendencies. I'm about a quarter of the way through the cable pattern, so  by my calculations (remember, I suck at math) that means that I've got another 12-14 hours and I'll be done with the back. And then I get to knit the front and both sleeves.

Jason better appreciate the hell out of this sweater.

short week

2012-06-03 00:11:36 +0000

Since I had the day off on Monday, I've been thrown off by a day pretty much all week. Even Friday felt very much like a Thursday, so the end of the day had rather a nice "Surprise! It's the weekend!" thing going on for it. And it's been a pretty good week, knitwise.

The Lace Stripe Scarf got a wash and a blocking and has gone off to its new home. I'm pleased to say that the recipient was quite happy to be given it, and I'm happy that she's happy. I'm also really happy with how it came out, and have been thinking that I just might need one of these for myself.

I did enjoy knitting it (despite having to rip out the same $#%*@& ten rows every pattern repeat) and found the pattern to be simple and easily memorized (aside from my own inability to focus for more than five minutes at a time or count reliably to six.) The Madeline Tosh DK was obviously the best part.

Gorgeous color, deliciously soft and a real pleasure to knit with. I'd like to make my second Lace Stripe out of that as well (probably in a deeper colorway) but since Tosh is somewhat pricey, it's not going to be a while. Probably not until I need enough of a Webs order to qualify for a discount, and that likely won't happen until after Christmas.

But it's not like I don't have enough else to keep me occupied until then. I'm still knitting away on Larch. It was nice outside, so we went to sit on the porch for a bit. Bastardcat joined us. After putting all the plants out of his reach, and keeping him from taking a nosedive off the balcony, we even had time to knit for a little while!

It's taking longer than I'd like it to. After the botched yarn-over debacle that led to me having to take the blasted thing off the needles, frog five rows and get it back on the needles, I've now taken to doing yarn-overs correctly, but putting them in the wrong places. I know. I don't know what's going on either. I did it three separate times in the last two evenings. The first time, I didn't catch it until the next lace row stopped working. I just dropped that stitch, used a small crochet hook to even out the stitches and just kept going. Then I did it again, but this time caught it on the next row. Again, I just dropped it, tugged on the stitches to either side of it to even them out, and carried on.

The third time, well, I don't know what the hell I did. I put a yarn-over in the wrong spot (again) and didn't catch it until four rows later the lace shaping stopped working (again) and so I (again) just dropped that extra stitch. And somehow that stitch dropped PAST where the mistaken yarn-over was and kept running. I don't know how that happened. It shouldn't have happened. I don't know how to fix it, and when I tried to fix it the whole thing turned into a bigger mess. So I'm going to have to take the needles out and rip back to the mistake (again, damn it) and I really really don't want to do that so I shoved the whole offending mess back into its bag and instead cast on for this:

Yep, that's the Wash sweater I'm making for Jason. Remember how a while ago I said that I wanted to knit a cabled sweater? ...what the hell was I thinking?

I keep doing this to myself. I love the way cabling looks. I fall in love with something that's got cables on it, and I start knitting it, and five rows later I remember how much I despise cabling. Remember Quadrat? This is like that, except bigger. And worse, because while Quadrat had little half-sleeves and the cabling was just across the top section, Wash is covered with cables. And the parts that aren't covered with cables are covered with seed stitch. And the teeny tiny parts that don't have either of those? Ribbing. Not only ribbing... that's twisted ribbing. That bit right up there? That's an hour and 15 minutes worth of work for me. See? I wasn't exaggerating when I said I was a slow knitter.

I'm considering taking the honorable way out and throwing myself upon my size US 10.5s to just end the misery before it's even begun and spare myself all of the upcoming torment.

In an attempt to keep myself sane, I've also cast on this:

Not much yet, but it's a wrist cuff for Sarah, since she mentioned that she wanted one the last time I saw her. Cast onto size US 1 needles, worked in linen stitch until it's long enough to fit around a wrist. I'm a half inch in, I need about six more. It's slow going because the stitches are so tiny (fun fact: I've never knit anything on size 1 needles before! I'm not really sure why I felt the urge to do so now.) I stopped by my LYS this morning to pick out buttons for it. I'm still undecided whether I should add two or three to it, so I bought three and when I finish the knitting I'll play around with placement and make a decision then.

Anyhow, when I went into Natural Stitches on the hunt for buttons, I realized that this is the first weekend of their summer promotion. In years past they always held a "Summer of Socks and Lace" where participants would knit socks or lace things, and whoever had the most yardage got prizes. I never bothered to enter because I knit so slow I couldn't compete. This year, they're doing a knitting bingo thing. They handed me a card with each bingo square marked with a specific task, like taking a class there, or buying a set of needles, or knitting a sweater. A completed line will earn me a $5 gift card, and filling and entire card would get me into a drawing for some "seriously fabulous" prizes. There's no way I'm going to fill the entire card (mostly because one of the tasks is "buy a swift" and I already have a lovely handmade one that was a gift from a friend) but my card has three different lines that I could pretty handily fill out. Sadly, just one line per card is allowed for a turn-in, but if I hand it in, I can get a new card. I just have to decide which line and plan my next project accordingly. Hmmm....

Like a half-drunk bat

2012-05-27 16:37:20 +0000

I'm not sure what comes over me sometimes. I swear most of the time I'm a perfectly competent knitter. Aside from my failings with simple mathematics and my complete inability to follow basic written instructions, most of the time I am able to knit and purl with some reliability, and come up with more or less what I intended. The other times... well, the phrase "half-drunk bat" springs to mind.

Yesterday, I was home for the afternoon, and I decided to put on my big girl knitter pants and finish up some things that I had already "finished" previously. My Lace Stripe Scarf still needed its fringe attached, and Boneyard was complete aside from being bound off. So I parked my butt on the sofa, popped in the DVD for season one of The Walking Dead and took out the first of my unfinished finished projects.

The instructions for the Lace Stripe Scarf were very clear: cut 18 groups of 6 strands of fringe, knit the scarf until the yarn runs out, then attach 9 bundles of fringe to each end. I went to complete this last step, and what do I discover? I'm two bundles of fringe short. Despite counting and recounting, instead of cutting 18 groups, like I should, I cut only 16. And since I've already completed and bound off the scarf, I can't get more to make up the last two bundles. Luckily, the good thing about screwing up basic instructions so often is I'm really good at fixing them. I just took one strand of yarn from 5 bundles on each side, so that I had both 5 and 6 strand bundles. I attached them alternating, so that I didn't have one side of the fringe be thinner than the other. It looks okay.

Ever the optimist and convinced I'd gotten past my rough patch for the day, I took out Boneyard next to bind it off. Because I expect it to stretch quite a bit when I block it, I used Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bindoff. I started off certain I had enough yarn to do it. I reached the halfway point thinking "man, this is gonna be a close one!" A few inches later I started to doubt whether I'd make it. And 3/4 of the way to the end I was sure I'd run out. And sure enough....

I said some very unladylike things at that point, then paused to consider my options. I could undo the bind off and pick another one that uses less yarn (the downside to Jeny's bind off is that it eats yarn like a mother.) but no, I needed the stretch. I could rip back a row and work the bind off on the wrong side, but no, I was already pushing it with a garter border as thin as the one I have. You can see on the right side where I've already bound off that it's got a tendency to curl. (If this doesn't block out, by the way, there will be more unladylike words said.) No, if I was going to rip back to get more yarn, I'd have to rip back to the previous garter ridge, and that's twelve whole rows, plus all of the garter ridge.

The last option was to scour The Stash for a yarn that matched well enough that I could use it to finish the bind off. I know I've said some unkind things about The Stash in the past. Namely about how it's "too damn big" and how I really need to knit from it more to "get rid" of it. But yesterday it really came in handy. After making the discovery that I don't have very much brown yarn, I managed to dig up something that could work...

On the left, we have a skein of Noro sock weight. The browns in it (actually more of a greenish-grey-brown) are totally off, but the green bit kinda-sorta matches. On the right, we have a skein of Dream in Color Smooshy in Torchwood. It's a very subtly variegated brown, and while the darker bits are too dark, the lighter bits are pretty darn close to what I need. To further disguise that the colors don't quite match, I bound off the brown stitches with the green Noro, and bound off the green stitches with the brown Dream in Color yarn. It's.... well, if you're looking at it, you can definitely see that it doesn't quite match. But at a quick glance, it works well enough. And since I mostly wear triangle shawls with the point in front and the ends crossed over the back of my neck and tucked under, it won't be visible most of the time.

So, since The Stash saved my rear yesterday, I feel that I should be singing its praises. But when I went for a dig in it yesterday, I was somewhat... well, "horrified" is a strong word but it's the one that's springing to mind at the moment. Okay, then. I was somewhat horrified to discover that I have a modestly alarming amount of yarn I'd forgotten about. I have three skeins of ONLine sockweight. I thought I only had one, but oh that's right, I bought another two in Germany. And oh yeah, I do have two more skeins of Knitpicks Imagination, I don't know why I thought I'd used all that up.

What alarmed me the most, however, was that I had a small amount of yarn in there that I didn't remember at all. I suppose that's how I ended up with this:

On the left we have one skein of Cascade Heritage in Fuschia. On the right we have two skeins of Kollage Luscious in Strawberry.

They are exactly the same.

Okay okay, so they're not totally the same yarn. The Cascade is 75% superwash wool/25% nylon, while the Kollage is 63% cotton/37% nylon. But why did I feel, at some point, that I needed two pairs of socks' worth of bright pink yarn? So I could have a wool pair for winter and a cotton pair for summer? I don't know. I honestly don't remember. According to the labels, I bought both of them on sale so I'm sure my mental process went something along the lines off "Oooh! It's pink! And it's 25% off! This is coming home with me!"

I'm still somewhat alarmed that I could have done this twice and have absolutely zero recollection of it. This has reaffirmed my convictions to knit from The Stash and (mostly) only The Stash until I can get The Stash shrunk down to a more comfortable size. I won't say that The Stash is "out of control" because it's really not, but we have turned down that street and are now just cruising along looking for the right address. Right now it's still confined to its tote bins (and two baskets and one drawer) so it hasn't grown all that much bigger, although I do admit that the drawer is getting a little cramped.

In any case, I've redoubled my efforts to finish up WIPs so I can cast on new projects from The Stash. I've reached the lace section on Larch, though I did have a bit of a setback with it. While I mentioned that most of the time I can reliably knit and purl, that doesn't always happen. I screwed up one of the yarnovers down the spine of the shawl. I don't know how, but it was just a garbled mess of crap. Of course, I was able to knit on for another six rows, oblivious to it. I tried dropping down that section and laddering the stitches back up, but that just made it worse. So I bit the bullet and ripped back. I used a set of size US 3 DPNs to pick up the stitches and transferred them off those and back onto my circular, which made that process a lot smoother. Then I knit back up to where I was before calling it a night.

Today, more relaxing and knitting. Someone's even keeping my seat warm for me...