Charade on parade*

I finished mom’s Charade socks last night:
Photobucket Photobucket (Both clickabale thumbnails; color is more accurate in the first)

Such a simple and yet beautiful and elegant pattern! The bumpiness of the Fixation hides it some, but it’s still a lovely pattern. Were I to do this pattern with this yarn again, I’d change how the toe is done as it’s a little too boxy on yarn this thick.

Next up is 9-to-5 using some truly bright variegated yarn which I suspect will completely overshadow the pattern, but it’s another simple and elegant one and at this point, I’m going for something that will keep me entertained while knitting more than finished effect. *smile*

* Give me a break; it’s early!

Gift socks

I think I remembered to mention here that Christmas Day found my mother and my sister perusing the Webs website and ordering an rather embarrassing amount of sock yarn. My sister has a pair of dark green/sagey Cascade Fixation socks that I honestly didn’t even remember making until she brought them out to show to me after gushing for at least five minutes about how they were her favorites. Cascade Fixation being big for sock yarn, I told her that if she wanted more, she just needed to order it and have it shipped to me and I’d make her as many pairs as she wanted. That’s when mom got involved, and before I knew it, they’d ordered something like two dozen skeins in a variety of colors and sent them zipping on their way to me.

The attraction is the combination of the cotton – breathes well – and the elastic – doesn’t slump. For my sister, the addition of a lacy pattern helps, but mom likes solid patterns (which given that mom likes solid colors while sis likes variegated yarn makes for some muddy patterns here and there, but hey, it’s what they want). And since it’s Fixation – which, did I mention, is big for sock yarn? – it knits up into socks lickety-split. So when I realized a couple weeks before my sister’s natal day that I hadn’t thought much about a gift and then remembered the surprisingly small box containing all those future-socks, it was no trouble at all to whip up her first pair:

Photobucket (Clickable thumbnail.)

They’re.. hrm.. one of the patterns from Charlene Schurch’s first Sensational Knitted Socks book.. Um.. one of the 12 stitch patterns even, but I can’t remember the name. Anyway, I sent them off and she got them and said they fit perfectly, which is good because I was a little worried that the foot got a bit long on them (they were knit toe-up, oh and on US7s for those who’ll want to know that, over 48 stitches – told you, big yarn, goes quick).

And I’ve started mom’s version of this pair – using the Charade pattern (PDF)  that I’m ever so fond of:

Photobucket

Hope it to have those finished before Easter (that’s still awhile from now, isn’t it? Hrm.) and then to bring the rest of the box they ordered to Easter so they can tell me which one of them ordered which colorways since there are only 3 or 4 that they ordered enough for them each to get a pair out of.

How do they know..?

Like a good little energy-conscious homeowner, I turned the furnace down while I was away to celebrate the holidays, my mom’s birthday, and the fortuitous in-town-ness of several friends late last week and this weekend. So when I walked in this afternoon and it felt a little chilly, I didn’t think much of it – I was too preoccupied thinking about the ice-packed-snow-plow-debris that I’d just spent 20 minutes chipping out of my driveway* and the bit that I finally decided would have to wait until after I unloaded the car. Even when I walked around the corner to turn the thermostat back up and it was blinking at me that it needed new batteries (and while I was at it a new filter) did I register the fact that the other thing that it was blinking was that it was 45 degrees in the house. I scavenged in the desk for new batteries, wandered down to replace the filter.. and then noticed that one of the fans was running but the furnace wasn’t lit. Some quick investigation confirmed that it wasn’t just chilly, and that I wouldn’t be able to stay in the house without rectifying the problem. Fortunately, my furnace guy** was able to come out and fix it lickety split and the furnace has been running for the last hour trying to bring the internal temperature of the house back up.

In the mean time, I did the bits and pieces of dishes that got left in the sink before I left (mostly work travel mugs and other stuff that was safe to sit for a few days without going rancid), started a load of laundry, put away all the bits and pieces from the trip (including the Sipalu bag/pillow kit!), and made tea to go with the mango chutney and the last of the naan from friends. My fingers are still chilly (hence the tea), but it is getting warmer, so hopefully I’ll soon be able to just curl up under a blanket and watch a movie while working on mom’s socks*** some more.

* Really need to remember to call the guy about arranging for them to clear the sidewalk and driveways when I won’t be around.

** I sort of love living in a small town where I actually have *a* furnace guy – the same guy, every time – who knows my furnace and its history better than I do since he installed it several years before I bought my house.

*** Still not finished. Farther along, though – almost to the heel turn – so pr’bly in the next couple weeks. As a related aside, my sister commented on Christmas that she really liked a particular pair of socks that I’d gifted her a few years ago and after some back and forth where she tried to describe them without them ringing any bells for me, she went to get them: they were some socks I made out of Cascade Fixation and she loved that they were stretchy *and* lacy. I told her if she wanted more, to just order the yarn and send it to me, so she and mom spent about 20 minutes on the Webs website picking out yarn for about 10 pairs of socks. *smile* Looks like this will be a sock year.

It’s all over but the seaming.

Right then.. so, for reasons recently explained, my knitterly ambition has been somewhat scarce this year. All the same, I’ve been working on a blue v-neck cabled sweater intermittently for the last several months and last night I finished the last bit of knitting:

Photobucket (As usual, clickable thumbnails. The flash in my camera tends to over-expose things, and I pr’bly corrected a smidge too much in this one; the next one is more color accurate on my monitor.)

Jali thought that it was just fine that way:

Photobucket

..but it still needs side and underarm seams, and to have the ends woven in, both of which I’ll pr’bly do tonight. This was my first foray into saddle shoulders and while it was a bit of a surprise not to be done with the sleeves when I thought I should be, I like how they turned out:

Photobucket

(Sorry for the blurriness of that one.) I also am pleased with the neck, which I was afraid was going to end up *way* too large.

Unfortunately, the Coriolis socks have languished while I worked on the sweater, partially because I’m afraid they’re going to be too big, even though I’m getting spot on stitch and row gauge (which makes me think I was too generous in my measurements).

Photobucket

These are for mom, though, and she knows about them (and that they’ll be late) so I’ll have her try them on tomorrow night to see how they’re fitting. I haven’t wanted to keep working on them if they’re just going to get ripped out, so the sweater was a good diversion.

Infidelity

I cheated on the blue cabled sweater this week. It was for good reason – my mom’s office is very cold and she needed fingerless glove bits so her hands wouldn’t freeze when she typed. Considering that mom spent her vacation sewing for me, it seemed only fair to return the favor by making her a pair.

With flash – a little washed out, but shows some of the colors better.
Without flash – color are a little harder to distinguish, but shows them a little closer to reality.

These were a quick little knit, taking a bit less than a skein of Claudia Handpaint in Argyle 2 on Clover bamboo US2 needles, and about three days worked in bits and pieces between working on the house stuff. They turned out beautifully and fit her perfectly. I washed them with some lovely handmade wool wash that I received in my knitting gnome swap package from Stephanie to get out some excess dye that stained my hands a smidge during knitting.

I’m going to pause a moment to wax rhapsodic about the wool wash: it’s really lovely. It’s a solid bar, like a bar of soap, that you lather under the running water. It’s 20% lanolin (so it softens your hands wonderfully when you lather it!) and smells delightful without being overpowering. I especially like that since it’s a solid bar, once it dries from being lathered, it can just get tucked away again. I’ll definitely be using this a lot, and once this bar is done, I’ll definitely be ordering more from her Etsy shop!

Mom has also requested some wool socks to wear around the house, and she picked out the yarn I won from one of the contests in the Coffee Swap, which I don’t think I ever took a picture of and posted. It’s a beautiful yarn and I’m enjoying knitting it up, but I don’t remember exactly what it is and it wasn’t labeled. I’m pretty sure it was dyed by the person who sent it though and I do wish that I had taken more care to jot down some additional information about it. I love that it has smaller and irregular splotches of the brown because it means that the yarn doesn’t really pool much.

v

I’m taking this as an opportunity to finally try one of Cat Bordhi’s sock architectures from New Pathways for Sock Knitters: Book One. I’ve wanted to try Coriolis since I got the book (almost a year ago, for Christmas last year!), and I’m just about an inch into the start of the spiral on the foot. So far it’s very neat and a dead simple pattern to memorize. My swatch was 10 stitches to the inch on Harmony US0 needles, but my actual gauge is a bit looser than that – pr’bly 9 stitches to the inch, but I haven’t measured again yet. It may end up a little looser than I’d like, especially in the toes when I wasn’t paying as close attention, but since they’re socks to be worn around the house and not necessarily in shoes, I think that will be okay in the end.

Bit by bit..

I’ve not been knitting much lately. There’ve been other things preoccupying my mind, or rather, things I was trying to avoid taking over my mind, and the usually welcome time to think that knitting allows was too much for awhile. However, things are settling, and it’s getting on into autumn, so I’ve found myself more willing lately to pick up the needles again.

Neither is truly color accurate, though the second is pr’bly closer than the first. This is a completed back of my second ever all-over cable sweater.

And (blurry, sorry) how far I’ve gotten on the front. The pattern goes pretty quickly all things considered, I just have less time to knit so we’ll see how long it takes to finish the front.

KnittyOtters Getting to Know You Contest

I’ve a bit of a weakness for otters, so I couldn’t resist KnittyOtter’s Getting to Know You Contest in honor of her 200th post! Congrats!

(For pictures of recent knitting, skip below the questionnaire..)

1.)How long have you been knitting?

Hrm.. really, pr’bly around 8 or 9 years. I learned pr’bly 10-11 years ago but didn’t really start knitting regularly until I went to grad school.

2.) How long have you been knitting socks?

About as long as I’ve been knitting.. pr’bly a year or so less. I was a bit ambitious and decided that I wanted to do my first socks from cotton.. I know better now – both how better to do cotton socks and that wool is generally more forgiving for socks! I also learned *after* making a few pairs where the toes were twisted out of alignment from the heel that I was twisting each and every stitch, which caused the tube of the sock to spiral on itself. Yeah.. not so useful.

3.) What do you do with a problem like Maria?

Let her loose in those hills and lock the doors. She was terribly romantic, and didn’t really strike me as the survivalist type. At most she’d have made it to the first real Alpine snow fall.

4.) What is your all time favorite sock yarn?

I don’t think I have one, which might be sacrilegious. At the moment, I rather like the Trekking that I started working with.. hrm.. several months ago. Should pr’bly get back around to working on those..

5.) Toe Up or Cuff Down?

Either, both? I like the economy of toe up socks, but there are so many patterns that are cuff down that I can’t be bothered to convert, so I’ll just knit them as written.

6.) What’s your favorite color (this week or for all time)? Do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can’t stand?

Blue. (Which brings me back to that lovely Trekking.. really need to pick those up again..) For family or palette or whatnot.. jewel tones, fall colors.. deep, saturated colors. I’m not fond of visually striking combinations in most yarns – the pansy colorway I used for my Jaywalkers still sets my teeth on edge a bit – but I love it in nature. And I really love Ruth‘s hand-dyed nature-inspired yarns.. they’re all just so gorgeous!

7.) Do you have a pet(s)?

Yes. One (old) little black dog, Jalapeño, or just Jali for short.

8.) Babies: Oven Roasted or Barbecued?

Grilled, actually, with a little garlic and butter. :P

9.) Besides socks what is your favorite type of thing to knit?

Heh. Um, depends on my mood. At the moment, I’ve been stricken with the urge to start sweaters (see below for proof!), but I could just as easily pick up a lace project. *shrug*

10.) What’s your favorite scent?

Mm.. that’s a hard one. There are way too many. Rain. Ocean breezes. Coffee. Campfire smoke. Fajitas. Good wine. Warm skin. Clean sheets dried in the sun. Bacon. Fresh cut grass.

11.) What music are you really loving right now? Like a song or a band?

Went on an Ani kick this weekend while with several friends, but lately I’ve been rather taken with Matt Nathanson, Gaia Consort, and the Paperboys.

12.) How many pairs of socks have you hand knit?

Uh.. Well, I have 8 or 9 in my own sock drawer, and I’ve knit at least that many as gifts, so call it 20ish?

13.) What’s your favorite treat? Salty or Sweet?

Both. There’s a jar of trail mix on my desk that is my ideal snack – peanuts, cashews, almonds, raisins, and M&Ms. As a child, I was inordinately fond of ants on a log and one of my favorite oddities is melted caramel between saltine crackers (think s’mores, but.. different).

14.) What was the most interesting thing you smelled yesterday. Not good or bad necessarily, just the thing that stuck out most so that you actually took notice of it.

Hrm. Shampoo. I’m out of my usual brand so used whatever was handy and I noticed it all day because it wasn’t what I’m used to.

15.) Needles – DPN’s: Wooden, metal or plastic?

Wood or bamboo. Metal is too hard on my hands and plastic just feels wrong. I almost exclusively use Harmony needles these days.

16.) What is your favorite sock pattern that you’ve knit? What do you recommend?

I really liked the 9-to-5 socks, but was also taken enough with Baudelaire to knit it twice.

17.) The last Question: If you were stuck on a deserted island who would you want with you, what knitting would you want with you and would you ever want to leave?

Kim & Tori. And maybe a chef or two. And if the island had good grape stock and clean water, we wouldn’t even need to leave to get more wine. :P

Right then.. since I’m on the topic, thought I’d post a picture to prove that I actually was knitting this weekend past:

(As usual, all photos are clickable thumbnails.)

That is, in fact, the start of a cabled sweater! Yes, it’s mid-July, but I have hopes of completing it in time to be worn this fall. Given my knitting track record of late, that’s being fairly optimistic, but here’s hoping this is just the little shove I need to get back into the swing of things.

And just because I was out in the garden again last evening, I’ll leave you with a few pictures from there:

These are, again, the Hollyhock from the roses back by the garage, but I don’t remember having all four colors in bloom at the same time in the past, so wanted to be sure to capture it.

This is a blue sea.. something. I never remember the right name.. I just call it the Blue Alien Plant because that’s what it looks like. It’s in the front yard, between a couple balloonflowers which should start blooming any day now.

Current Knitting

As hinted in my last post (which was, surprisingly, just this week instead of sometime last month!), I’ve been doing some, but not a lot, knitting. As expected, I finished the knitting for the Baby Surprise Jacket this morning in the car.

It took about two and a half skeins of Tahki Cotton Classic, one skein of the blue and a skein and a half or so of the red. The mom of the intended recipient is allergic to many animal fibers and they live in CA, so I figured cotton would be a good alternative. And as a bonus, it’s washable.

This is my first time doing a Baby Surprise Jacket, and it was kind of fun to see how it all went together. I wasn’t sure how the stripe would look as I wasn’t sure how the piece got folded up, but I think I like it. Something I never noticed in pictures of Baby Surprise Jackets is the increases across the back and at each cuff, which I think are certainly more noticeable in the photos above.

The cotton makes the diagonal increases in the second half (front) of the piece look a bit exaggerated, but I think a little blocking will tame them some. I may at some point try to figure out reverse engineering this so the diagonal decreases fall on the front of the jacket because they look a little neater. I may not, though. *shrug*

Also, as I tend to bind off too tightly, I replaced one of the ends of my circular Options needles with a larger needle and it worked like a charm – I bound off as I wanted too without worrying about trying to keep things loose and having it be uneven, and it looks neat and clean.

So, now I just need to figure out buttons, and which side of the sweater the buttons vs. button holes go on so that I can get it to the recipient before it’s too small for him!

In the mean time, I’ve been dabbling with some socks. I’ve fallen absolutely in love with the color of these (but can’t remember what the colorway is.. it’s Trekking, though) because it reminds me of the deep and varying blues of the ocean.

The pattern may be familiar, but I decided I wanted a pair of my own and to my eye the pattern works very well with the yarn. I’m into the gusset at this point and now that the Baby Surprise Jacket is done, these will likely become my car knitting.

And I’ve done a bit more knitting on Jack’s Panda Cotton socks, which are also into the gusset. These are a bit more tedious, though, both because it’s a solid black yarn and because it’s an intentionally simple pattern. I’ll keep plugging away at them, though and eventually he’ll get handknit socks.

I was also lucky enough to get in on the group of test knitters for Cookie A‘s new pattern, so sometime in the nearish future, you’ll be able to get a sneak peak of what that will look like as she’s very graciously told us that we’ll be allowed to share photos of our progress in our blogs and on Ravelry. While we wait for the pattern, though, I’m trying to figure out a good yarn. I have some candidates in my stash, but I’m thinking I need a solid or a yarn with more subtle variations than most of the stuff I have. I’m also thinking that I’d like to support one of the many smaller hand-dyers out there, so if you know of some good candidates, pipe up in the comments.

Saturday morning cartoons

I used to love Saturday morning cartoons. I remember getting up and watching the Smurfs in my pj’s, back when The Monchhichis were the only Japanese-inpsired cartoon around (and none of us knew it at the time because it was produced by Hanna Barbera). The Flintstones, the Jetsens, Tom & Jerry (the real Tom & Jerry, not the new Tom & Jerry Tales I seem to have stumbled on this morning), and the Great Space Coaster were all weekday cartoons, but they were good too. There was a point in this somewhere, something about how Saturday morning cartoons these days all seem to be about saving the world from evil and having amazing special powers which just seems.. boring. *shrug*

Anyway, last time I mentioned I’d try to get pictures of the blue jeans handwarmers, so here you are:

(Pictures are clickable thumbnails; click them to load a larger version.)

It’s a little muted, but the flash washed it out so much it was no where near true. I’m holding two strands of the yarn together, which is making these a little stiffer than I think they’re intended to be, but I like them and I think the recipient will, too. Since taking this, I’ve finished all but the thumb on this one. I’m doing a modified version of Dashing (modified in that I made it shorter by leaving out one of the cable repeats in the cuff and two rows from the hand length), which should be perfect for the recipient.

And a bonus picture because I don’t think I posted it before:

This is some merino that I got from a fleece or spinning swap awhile back. The label is in a language I don’t read, but apparently merino is merino in that language, too. It’s really a joy to spin up and it’s been very fun to watch the color changes. I was a little worried about the brightness of the pink, but it’s much more muted in the singles and really works well with the blues and greens.

Too late for WIP-it Wednesdays.. must be FO Friday..

Or.. something. I’m sleepy and have been fighting a cold for the better part of what should have been a week of vacation, so this might be short and photo-laden..

Fingerless Gloves (As usual, all pictures are clickable thumbnails.)

I have been thinking about making myself a new pair of fingerless gloves to replace the half-finger gloves I gave a friend last year for awhile. My sweetie gave me a swift for the holidays which prompted me to wind the two skeins of Chameleon Colorworks Evolution I had into center-pull balls and I decided it was soft and pretty enough (this is the Figgy Pudding colorway) to become fingerless gloves. I tried to do the Dashing pattern first, but the cable crosses made them *way* too tight, so I opted for a made up pattern for the cuff and tops and a basic glove pattern from a Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns for the hand. I like them. And they only took a day or so to knit up (yes, they’re both finished, even though only the first one is pictured).

Hrm.. this one’s a WIP..

DNA Scarf 122807

An update on the DNA scarf. While it’s small enough in diameter to use a 16 inch circular, the tiny, tiny needles on the 16 inch Knitpicks Harmony needle made my hands hurt, so I’m doing what I think is pr’bly a bastardization of the two-circular method. It doesn’t make my hands hurt and I’m making better progress, so all is well. Hope to have this one finished and on it’s way to the recipient sooner rather than later.

A WIP that is now a FO..

Kathys Slippers Drying These are another pair of Fiber Trends Felt Clogs, again just the uppers, made for my aunt Kathy, mom’s sister. This picture is while they’re drying, and, as with mom’s, they’ve got a bit of excess lint from the washer.

Kathys Slippers Finished Kathys Slippers Finished 2 And two finished shots, but neither of them are terribly clear. The color is closest in the first one.

And finally, a finished picture of the Garter Rib Sweater, which was a holiday gift for my dad:

Garter Rib Detail

For all it’s plainness, it is pr’bly the first man’s sweater I’ve made that I really like. It fits well and looks very good on dad.

I’ve also made some progress on Catalina, but don’t have an updated picture because the battery in my camera is dying. I’m just about through with the first repeat, though.. well, maybe only 2/3rds of the way through.. I’ll take another picture once I change to the next color most likely.