Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday, June 23, 2008

50th post! Already?

I'll admit that the blogging has been slow around here lately, but this is due in large part to the fact that it's rather difficult to blog from one's cell phone (no matter how iAdvanced it may be).

Still, I've made it to 50 posts! I have finished objects to share and new things already on the needles! (No, mom, your afghan is not one of the finished objects. Simmer down, it's only June!)
I have finished my first* sock. One Red Sock. My brother immediately commented that it reminded him of the Red Sox's red socks, so I don't know if I'll bother making a second. Don't get me wrong, I'm no Yankees fan. I just resent that my little brother thinks it's ok to have a backup team. What is this nonsense! "But they're in a different league, and all the way across the country" he says. Like that's some sort of a defense. I am a True Blue Dodgers fan (I bleed BLUE during baseball season. No really.) Occasionally my mom will threaten to defect to the Padres or [shudder] Giants, but we don't take her seriously. Sorry mom.

My practice sweater is all but finished because I am having quite a bit of trouble with the neckline ribbing. First I picked up stitches like a maniac (some 120 when the pattern called for 78, I lost count) and it had a hilariously ruffled collar look. Not quite what I was looking for, really. So, on the second try I picked up exactly 78, made it through 3 or 4 rounds and realized I had dropped a stitch somewhere, messed up the ribbing twice, and had some unsightly gaps along the neck edge :-( So, I ask you, is there anything inherently wrong with leaving the sweater as is? I mean it may be a little uneven, but being completely honest with myself, this sweater wasn't intended to be worn, you know, outside of the house. Perhaps I've reached some sort of frustration quotient and just need to give it some time. My inner scientist is urgently reminding me that failed experiments are how we learn. [Side Note: It's platitudes like that one that make me want to plunk her in the head with an Erlenmeyer flask.]

And I've got a new sock project going! This one is flying off the needles, I've already got the first sock finished and I immediately cast on for the second sock (fearing that I would lose the inspiration). I found some Opal sock yarn to play with and practice on and I'm impressed with how easy it is to work with. It may not be the softest, squooshiest, or most lovely yarn I've ever worked with, but it's German; utility before frills, I get it. I'll bet that a little blocking and some fabric softener will work wonders. This colorway (don't ask me what it's called, I don't read German) struck me as particularly patriotic for some reason, I'm going to call these my Patriot socks. [Side Note: Not to abuse New England teams today or anything, but I'm most certainly NOT a Patriots fan either. It's the Steelers for me, thanks!]

Monday, June 16, 2008

Socks and the great outdoors

Here's how that first sock is coming along...
Yep, it looks sort of day-glow out in the sun, but it's really a nice
red. I'm not loving the simplified heel, but I sure do like it as a
friend and I'll finish the toe in the same manner ... sooner or later.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Practice does make perfect!

The front of my practice sweater is complete (blue, raglan style,
source of low-level panic, you remember the one.) I am in the process
of seaming everything up so I'll have some Finished Object pictures
later on, I promise!

In other news: it's hot as hell here, and count yourself lucky if
you've never woken up to find a banana slug in your shoe, blech!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Pictures and Text: is it really too much to ask?

If you can see my feet and read this, it means I've worked out this
email posting thing.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Ulterior (Sock) Motives

I have a confession to make: I have only soldiered on in my sock attempts to prepare myself for some Opal yarn in the Harry Potter colorways. They come out in the fall, sometime before the movie. Since I've decided that I must possess them all, I feel a little obligated to actually make them into something. Though the prospect of just keeping the lovely skeins around (or having them framed) is quite appealing to me :-)

This got me thinking about the role the HP series has played in my knitting. After reading the books and having myself sorted (via or something like that) into Slytherin I decided that I must have a scarf. [Side Note: Again, I'm not a bad person; though I suspect that my ambition can sometimes set my moral compass spinning, it does find itself again eventually.] I put aside the fact that I seldom visit latitudes North of, oh, Southern California or so, and sought out a Slytherin scarf for myself.

When I finally found a store selling them I couldn't bring myself to pay some $27 dollars for it. The USC bookstore sold a lovely Gryffindor 'SC scarf that fall for the bargain price of $10 and I caved, but it still wasn't the same. I felt like I was misrepresenting myself by wearing it to the movie premier. Weird huh? I found plenty of other things in WhimsicAlley to amuse me for hours on end (including a quill pen and ink, and a Dark Mark temporary tattoo), but the crafty part of my brain was whirring along at full tilt. "How are scarves made? They look woven together, not sewn up patches of color. Gee, I wonder how they do that. OH, knitting would do that ... right?" is how my internal monologue went. TO THE INTERNET!

After some brief googling I discovered that people can, in fact, knit these things themselves! I dashed out to Michaels, bought a skein of green and one of grey and a pair of needles. I had no regard for the type of yarn, it's gauge, or even the size of the needles really, so you probably know how this turned out. I worked diligently on my very first project and once I had mastered the Knit and Purl stitches (and realized that Knitting on BOTH sides means you end up with garter stitch) the scarf seemed to fly off the needles. Of course I was using US 10s (because 10 sounded like a nice round number at the time). I was very proud of my efforts, but not so much of the scarf. I had picked up reading a few knitting related sites and had learned so much that, despite the lacklustre scarf, I was hooked (or knitted, rather, as this isn't crochet afterall).

The scarf eventually ended up being ripped out and used to make Salazar the Bear. And I've never gotten around to making myself a proper Slytherin scarf either, but this doesn't trouble me much anymore because of a) the climate I live in and b) the fact that my halloween costume robe is Gryffindor too. [Side Note: this is because I could not find a suitable green lining fabric last year to save my life, but red was everywhere and on sale!]

Speaking of Sal though, I've found that his neck is a bit floppy which makes him look as if he's puzzled by something. Rather than busy myself with reinforcing his neck I decided to take a page out of Nearly Headless Nick's book and make him a scarf to hold his head up instead, haha! I took the book scarf pattern as it was originally posted and just kept knitting it until it was long enough for Sal. I'll have him try it on when I get home. [Imagine him with his head cocked to the side as if to say "For me?"]

Friday, June 6, 2008

$#(!*&% holes

After previous sock attempts were abandoned I began to feel some crafty-person remorse. I went and bought sock yarn (lovely red Cascade) and even itty bittier DPNs [Side Note: 'bittier' isn't a word, but I'm going to use it anyway. HAHA, actually the spell checker doesn't have a problem with it, but "itty" and "DPNs" it doesn't approve of. Go figure.] I vowed to try again, especially since socks are so portable and I'm driving myself up the wall with my practice sweater [Another Side Note: I finished the back of the sweater last night, forgoing my self-imposed break].

I picked the most generic sock pattern that I could find and cast on, worked down the leg, turned the heel in short row and realized that there are $#(!*$% holes along the short row. This was not supposed to happen! I used a much simplified method of short row that didn't involve all that befuddling yarn wrapping that I haven't developed the skills to accomplish yet. It worked out just fine and simplified my project immeasurably, but there are tiny spaces! ARGH!

Don't get me wrong, I can live with the holes. I live in a desert and socks are not necessary for more than perhaps 2 months of the year. It's just the idea that my first* (I'm not counting the discarded projects, Finished Objects only!) socks won't be *perfect* that bugs me. Scratch that, it's the idea that I followed the directions and played by the rules and it did work out that bugs me even more. If I don't know what went wrong, how am I supposed to fix it in the future? Grr.

In other news, I'm not sure where all of this angsty, self-reflective knit-blogging is coming from lately, but I'm sure it will subside soon. Also, blogging from one's iPhone isn't conducive to picture posting, sorry! If I can figure out how to send a picture AND the accompanying text together and have them appear as a single cohesive post the pictures will return.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Paranoid Sweater Phobia

I have the back of my practice sweater with me for some easy stockinette worsted weight knitting and it's been causing me all sorts of grief. I'll admit that I possibly have a Paranoid Sweater Phobia which is really the root of all my sweater knitting insecurities. I find myself compulsively holding up my knitting for size after every row and pestering people (Excuse me, does this look too long? Is is too soon to start the armhole? And so on.)

I am now of the opinion that knitting patterns should not include inch/cm measurements because they give me permission to bring along my seamstress style measuring tape and let the inner scientist have free range to obsess over sixteenths and millimeters. I probably look like one of those crazy architecture students* in labs full of foam board, measuring every conceivable angle over and over again: measure, scrutinize, measure, check pattern, measure, decide to knit another row, measure, decide that row has pushed us over the line, scrutinize removing row, measure, and so on.

I am also guilty of trying on the two completed sleeves and wearing them around to scrutinize. I'm quite glad that I didn't bring them with me because it has stopped me from compulsively trying them on every time I check the back piece for size (that's every row). The prevailing concerns I have right now are 1) the arms are too long because the raglan decreases at the top seem to come up higher than I think they should and 2) that the arm hole decreases started too soon, or maybe too late and the thing is too long.

It's time for a break.

*I use the term "crazy" to denote an extreme devotion to detail and quality that probably keeps buildings from falling down on my head, so it is a term of greatest respect and thanks.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Is knitting weird?

I just had a long conversation with my brother that went something like this:
"You knit too much, it's weird. I get the whole 'dexterity' thing, but you like it too much." Bro
"Yes, I like to knit, so what's wrong with that?" Me
"It takes up all your free time though. Go do something more social." Bro [I'm plenty social, but I like my quiet time!]
"I only knit on the evenings when I'm watching TV instead of reading!" Me
"No, you sneak in knitting time whenever you can." Bro [damn, I didn't think anyone noticed.]
"Hey, there are plenty of knit-bloggers out there who are waaay more into it than I am!" [Yes, I'm rationalizing now.] Me
"You read blogs about knitting when you're not knitting. Wow." Bro [Hmm, this isn't going the way I planned.]

Am I too young for all of this? I'm 23, SWF, in graduate school with intentions of medical school. I've noticed that a lot of other knitters are mature, married, mothers, and a slew of other words that don't alliterate (or describe me in any way). I've always enjoyed swimming against the current, so to speak, not for the sake of being different but just by being me. [Or sanding against the grain, if you've seen any of my earliest refinishing projects.] But have I crossed some invisible line between different/uncommon and weird without knowing it? Now I'm feeling self-conscious about my knitting! That is going to put a crimp in finishing WIPs. I'm going to continue to ponder this for a while ...