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.

Random Thursday

Tragedy.

As an Institutional Researcher, this is about 90% of what I do daily. Because Institutional Research is one of those more or less obscure careers – most people have no idea what it is, even a fair number of the rank and file in academia – there’s no predominant path people take to get here. In the three and half or so years I’ve been in this profession, I think that my background as a social worker has been far more useful than my background as a researcher or a statistician. Social workers are trained to see person-in-environment – to explicitly see the context of a particular set of circumstances. More than anything else I do, being able to set the context around any particular piece or set of data is by far the most valuable (and also most often overlooked by users of data). (If you want an example, ask me about the IPEDS Graduation Rate Survey sometime.. *smile*)

I apparently smell like jelly beans today. *shrug*

The Peterson’s Graduate Survey has become officially known as “The Evil Survey(tm)” by my student survey monkey. This amusing me for several reasons, not the least of which being that it is truly an evil survey.

I promised pictures of Ornette; here are a couple from when I hit the 3 inch mark a few days ago (row 36 or the 40 row cable pattern):

As usual, all pictures are clickable thumbnails.

I’m knitting the large size of the pattern and started with the right sock. I’m using Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Merino yarn on US1 needles. I thought I had a set of Harmony US1s, but I can’t find them so I’m using Clover bamboo needles, which are just not quite pointy enough for the cabling and causing the yarn to be splittier than I think it should be. Despite the heavily cabled appearance, the sock is fairly elastic – relaxed, it measures about 6.5 inches, but it stretches enough not to be tight or luck stretched out around my 10.5 inch lower calf. (I’d show you a picture, but it’s rather difficult to take a picture of your own calf, particularly when the interesting part of the pattern is on the outside!)

At Cookie’s request, I washed and blocked it this morning (I’m now through row 40, one full repeat of the cable chart), but apparently can’t take a non-blurry picture today; it also appears darker because it’s still damp.

The yarn did bloom a little in washing, but I didn’t lose as much stitch definition as it appears from the pictures. I might go outside at lunch and try to get some better pictures.

A caveat: I’m test knitting the pattern along with a couple dozen other folks, so it’s possible that the pattern I knit will be different from the final released pattern. There have been one or two minor revisions already, but for cosmetic purposes; the pattern is well written and easy to follow if you understand how to read charts. I’ve been doing the cabling without a cable needle, which is a bit of a new trick with the small gauge (and is another reason I’d really like some pointier needles).

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.

Random Monday.

Would that it were really Wednesday already, but that would be very bad as Monday has gone by far too fast already for everything I have to do this week.

Right then.. bit of a brain dump, and no pictures, but I will talk about some knitting I have going and some recent yarn acquisitions.

I had an eye appointment a few weeks ago and my new eye doctor doesn’t like the 30-day extended wear contacts I have worn for the last three years. He’d prefer that I take them out more frequently than every 30 days (he’d prefer I take them out every night, but I *hate* taking soft contacts out), so he suggested I go to a 2-week extended wear one. I like the 2-week ones less, but they’re rather significantly less expensive (the 30-day ones aren’t covered by my insurance and are around $350 a year, all of which I’d pay out of pocket; the 2-week ones are about 2/5ths covered by my insurance and around $160 a year, of which I pay about $100). The things I don’t like are related to the fact that I think they’re a slightly thicker lens, so they get gummy more frequently and shift out of place more frequently. It’s just an annoyance, and I’ll get over it, but since I never had to worry about the gumminess with the old ones, I’m not sure which eye drops I could use to make it go away when it happens in the middle of the day. Thoughts or suggestions are welcome.

A few weeks ago, we went to visit friends in Green Bay and in addition to playing lots and lots of games and eating many very good meals, P and I went visiting a couple of her local yarn shops. I was mostly good – I only enabled her into some sock yarn so she could learn socks and only bought 4 skeins of Takhi Classic Cotton to use to make a Baby Surprise Jacket for some friends’ new addition and a skein of the new Austermann Step with the aloe and jojoba in it. I I also started a new pair of socks in the car on that trip and worked a bit on Jack’s black socks. I will honestly try to remember to take pictures and get them loaded either here or in Ravelry soon – the Baby Surprise Jacket is nearly done!

It’s spring, at least by the calendar, so we’re starting to gear up for some more work on the house. First on the to-do list is getting the squirrel’s out of the attic and making it so they can’t get back in. That will happen tomorrow, and while Dad’s up in the attic fixing that, he’ll also figure out if the wall separating the two upstairs bedrooms is load-bearing so that we can make the right plans for removing it. This will make our house only 2 bedrooms, but as none of the existing bedrooms is actually large enough to be considered a master bedroom (you can’t get a king-sized bed into any of the bedrooms and still be able to open doors and/or walk around) we think this will be an improvement overall. The two smaller bedrooms will become one larger room (which we’ll likely keep as a den, but which will get counted as a master bedroom if/when we sell the house) and we’ll create some better closet space for both bedrooms. It’s a big-ish project, so here’s hoping it all goes well!

Random.. Thursday.

I lose whole days all the time. This year.. I think I lost the whole month of November. *sigh* So.. this will be a sort of catch-up, wrap up loose ends kind of post..

First up – the last photos from last weekend’s dyeing spree! When I last posted, there was some yarn soaking in the 2nd exhaust dye bath of the cochineal, along with some blue vitriol mordant. I promised pictures the next morning, but I forgot to actually take the yarn out until the next morning (or maybe I was supposed to do it in the morning and didn’t get to it until that night? Something like that) so here’s both skeins sitting in warm water but not really rinsed while I reheated the dye bath and added the 2nd mordant (cream of tartar):

(All images are clickable thumbnails; click to load a larger version)

Both skeins have a definite purplish cast to them which I believe is due to the blue vitriol mordant. I was tempted to just leave the cotton skein (the lighter, lavenderish one) because I really liked that color, but I was also aware that it would likely fade quite a bit once I rinsed it well. So back they both went in, and when they came out the second time and were rinsed, they looked like this (sort of.. this shot is a bit washed out from the flash):

Definitely more reddish, but still more purple than the previous stuff. I hung them to dry and they ended up like this:

It’s pretty neat, all in all, especially since this was essentially the third set of items we dyed with this dye bath. I really love how the skein of wool turned out – it’s got some variation in it, but it looks like it’s been dyed in a nice red wine – and I can’t wait to see what Carol makes with it. The cotton is fairly subtle, but still definitely purple, and I’m thinking I might need to figure out a little girl shirt of some for my niece for her birthday in May.

Right then – up next is the Easy Lace Jacket. I’ve had a few people contact me, either here or through Ravelry, with questions about this pattern, as well as asking for modeled pictures.

Generally speaking, if you have questions about any pattern, I would strongly recommend you contact the person who wrote the pattern – in this case Joan McGowan-Michael at White Lies Designs – as they’re going to be the best person to help you out. I can tell you, at least as far as I remember, how I did the decreases (one stitch in from the edge, adjusting the lace pattern as I went) but I really am not that great at relaying the details of exactly what I did to text. Similarly with the lace for the cuffs & collar – I followed the pattern, knit each piece separately, and sewed them all together at the end. Sorry not to be of more assistance, but really – contact Joan if you’re running into difficulty or have questions!

Modeled pictures, though, I can do. *smile* First, though, I should pr’bly admit that I never bothered to do buttons or button loops for this one. I pretty rarely ever close cardigans when I wear them and I was excited to start wearing this one pretty much as soon as I finished it, so that part never got finished. For me, it works fine, especially because the lace pattern – which acts very much like ribbing – would make the cardigan more clingy than I’d be comfortable with, but your mileage may vary.

Sort of profile.. (and a bonus shot of one of my favorite prints in the background!)
An attempt to better show the collar and sleeve lace better

I think I mentioned this when I first finished it, but it’s worth mentioning again now – if I were to do this one again (and I might), I’d change the sleeves a bit. They are both too wide and slightly too short at the cuff. I would make them a few inches longer and taper them more to the wrist, and also likely try to figure out shortening the lace dags so the seam fell closer to my actual wrist. That said, I wear this one as it is pretty frequently and I *LOVE* the length of the body.

Right then, moving on.. the holiday sweater I’m working on is not terribly exciting to photograph, but I will let you know that the back is finished and the front is about 2/3rds finished. It should be finished in plenty of time and I’ll take pictures when it gets there.

I’m continuing to work on the DNA scarf, though not as diligently as I thought I might.

I have the cable chart memorized at this point, though, so I can knit it just about anywhere. It will need some judicious blocking when I’m finished as it’s a little lumpy at the moment, and at some point I’ll need to figure out how long it will want to be so that I know when to start crossing the cables in the other direction (I’m not doing the ribbing in the middle because I don’t like how that would look, so I’ll just end up picking a point at which to make the helix twist in the other direction).

And since I’m pretty sure my sweetie doesn’t make it over here to check up on me, here’s a peek at one of his holiday gifts:

I’m doing a pair of Garter Rib socks, toe-up, in black Panda cotton. I’m glad I heeded Cathy‘s advice and went with a non-cabled pattern because the Panda is a bit splitty! Socks in a men’s size 11 are *huge*, too, and I’ve been trying not to knit them when he’s around (he doesn’t always pay that close of attention to what I’m working on, but sometimes he surprises me), so I’m hoping I can snag enough time in fits and starts to get them finished on time.