Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Knitting Confessions #1.

I'm joining a brand-new link-up hosted by Brandy of Stitched Up In Toronto! She came up with a great concept which I'm sure everyone can relate to and which will inspire many different kinds of posts from different kinds of people.

Like most things in the world, knitting has a set of rules and conventions. Sometimes, we knitters break them. This is my knitting confession.

Confession #1: I'm a lace knitter who never uses lifelines.

I don't even know how to put in a lifeline or rip back to one. I've never done it before. I've never needed to.

I often peruse the "how do I start learning lace?" threads on Rav. The advice in such threads often boils down to the same themes: take lots of breaks, knit under really good lighting in a place with few distractions, don't knit dark colors (or if you must, put a white sheet on your knees), make sure there's enough contrast between your yarn and needles, and above all, lifelines lifelines lifelines.

I do none of these things.

I've found that the only things I need in order to knit lace are the yarn, the needles, the ability to read the pattern accurately, the ability to read the knitting to make sure it matches the pattern, and a lack of any particular trepidation about knitting lace.

And time. Sometimes, lots and lots of time. I won't claim that I've never had to go back to fix a mistake in my lace knitting - but I don't rip. I tink back, stitch by stitch, carefully and laboriously. I don't curse while I do it. I keep track of where I am, where the mistake happened and where I should be after I fix it.

It works for me.

Knitting Confessions

Join this week's link-up here.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

State of the knits: Birthday edition!

Yesterday was my birthday! (Man, I'm getting so old.) My parents gave me two wonderful birthday gifts this year. First, they financed my move; last weekend I finished moving in with Bandit. Second, they sent me a box of chocolate-covered strawberries.

Now, I've always thought of my stash as fairly small and reasonable. But I have my stash all in one place for the first time in years, and I'm not so sure anymore:

The 18-quart/17-liter tubs on the left are from my place, and the 16-quart/15-liter tubs on the right hold the stash that has been living at Bandit's place. Top left is workhorse yarns, featuring a lot of Cascade 220 and some worsted yarn that I experimented with dyeing many months ago. Bottom left is luxury yarn: anything laceweight or with silk or cashmere in it. Top right is a bit more luxury yarn, and bottom right is sock yarn and more yarn for dyeing.

Then there's an entire fifth tub and a hollow storage ottoman devoted to holding all my WIPs:

Starting from the top and going clockwise:

  • Jacke/cardigan *Opera* in gray Skaska silk/yak laceweight. Currently in the middle of the second sleeve.
  • Lapis in Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca Silk, in the Peacock colorway. Hibernating because of a sizing issue.
  • Y Ddraig in Twisted Fiber Art Duchess Evolution in the Elphaba colorway. I would be knitting on this a lot more if the dark colors weren't bleeding so much onto my hands and onto the needles.
  • Whispers in DyeForYarn merino/baby camel, in the Closing Pandora's Box colorway. Well on my way to being done with the front!
  • Dishcloth I'm making to practice two-color double-knitting, using gray and blue Cascade 220 Superwash.
  • Slide socks for Amy that have been hibernating so long that they don't even have a Ravelry project page.
  • Ink in MadTosh Merino Light, in the Mare colorway. So close to finished. Hibernating for some unknown reason.
  • In the center: Celestarium in Black Sheep Dyeworks silk/merino lace, in the Aegean Multi colorway. According to the progress chart, I'm about 40% through, though it feels like I'm a lot further in.

And if eight WIPs weren't enough already, I gave myself permission to cast on as many new projects as I wanted for my birthday:

  • Blue tonal cakes on the left: The Cursebreaker. I've knitted half of one cuff of Pickle's socks so far, and... these may actually turn out to be too big. I've decided that if these socks turn out too big, Pickle can deal with that. He'll own a nice pair of bed socks, and I'll buy some other yarn and knit some other pattern for him.
  • Gold yarn in the middle: Povetkina's Dyeworks mulberry silk. Still designated for Sheherazade, soon to be cast on.
  • Black and green on the right: Zitron Trekking XL, Bandit's next pair of socks. I've cast on the toe of one already, but in a contrast yarn (left over from my spring-grass Francies). I really hope that this one ball of yarn will be enough for both socks.

What do you think? Enough stash? Too many projects? Have you ever banished several projects to deep hibernation while casting on a slew of new ones?

Friday, August 8, 2014

The saga of Pickle's socks.

You know, the story of the dark curse that hangs over this pair of socks-to-be is nearly as old as this blog itself.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

FO: Bandit's Honeycomb Socks.

Started: July 26, 2013

Finished: August 4, 2014

Yarn/yardage used: Two skeins (175 yards each) of Koigu Painter's Palette Premium Merino (KPPPM) in the lyrically named colorway P613. I enjoyed having one skein for each foot, avoiding dividing-ball-into-two-equal-portions shenanigans. Contrast toes, heels, and cuff accent in Kraemer Yarns Saucon Sock; I kind of just have a big ball of this kicking around and don't bother to measure yardage.

Needles: DPNs in sizes 1, 2 and 3 (the latter two for the toes only).


Well, these socks have been a long time coming. They were supposed to be a birthday present for Bandit last year, and then when I picked them up again recently, they were supposed to be a birthday present for him this year. Apparently late sock gifts have just become de rigueur around me.

They did not, of course, actually require over a year's worth of actual work. I cast on the toe of one sock, knitted an inch of the foot - and then stopped. Yarn and needles languished in a project bag in my bedroom for month after month. I finally picked them up again in late June, and finished them surprisingly quickly.

I don't remember exactly why I put them into hibernation for so long, but it probably had something to do with mortal dread of the heel fiasco that occurred the last time I tried to knit toe-up socks for Bandit. I had no idea when or how quickly to start heel increases, and my attempts to wing it resulted only in lumpy, uncomfortable sock heels. (Bandit says that pair of socks is in his closet. We never use or even venture into the closet.) I associated toe-up socks with guesswork, frustration, and bitter recriminations. After this pair, though, I shall never fear toe-up socks again. The Fish Lips Kiss Heel is really quite a miracle. It's easy to determine when to start the heel, easy to memorize and knit, and even easy to incorporate a contrast heel. It's worked in the same way both toe-up and cuff-down. Best of all, Bandit says that it's the most comfortable heel I've knit yet.

I think it's safe to say that I'm getting my sock mojo back at long last. Now... do I dare attempt Pickle's cursed socks for the fifth time?

Friday, July 25, 2014

Of catproofing and audiobooks.

It's amazing how many things you have to catproof once you adopt a curious and apparently tireless kitten. Keturah has learned that my laptop is off limits, but she takes great delight in vexing us by drinking from our water cups, playing in the bathroom sink while we brush our teeth, and diving into the jungle of power cords behind the TV. She chews on charge cables, earbuds, and of course, my knitting. We've taken to exiling her from our presence whenever she does something particularly offensive. The problem is, when Bandit is working during the day, the only place I can exile her is the living room where his home office is, and the only place he can exile her is the bedroom where I am! We've concluded that, short of shutting her into the bathroom or laundry room all day, the only solution is to get a bigger apartment.

The problem was somewhat alleviated when Bandit bought me some practical early birthday presents: a Bobble, one of those water bottles with a carbon filter built into the mouthpiece, and a Bluetooth headset.

I love this headset. Its main body sits around one's neck, and the earbud cables are magnetically held in the hollows at its tips when they're not in use. It's extremely lightweight and provides excellent sound quality as well as a pretty reasonable maximum battery life. And I can't get over the fact that I can now roam freely around the house while taking calls or listening to music! It's a welcome reprieve from feeling not just mentally but physically shackled to the computer when I've got a headphone cord keeping me on a tight leash.

Best of all, when I'm trying to relax, I no longer have to guard against feline assaults on my knitting and my audiobook and my drink. Just the knitting. I can defend my knitting perfectly well. Most of the time.

Although this morning I discovered a giant loop of yarn tugged out from what had been a single stitch on my newest project. Not long ago I rummaged through some of my older stash and tried to match up individual skeins to potential patterns. This lovely, light skein of 55% merino/45% baby camel from DyeForYarn...

...seemed perfect for the Whispers top by Veera Välimäki. I'm shortening the bottom ribbing by an inch because I'm cutting it dangerously close on yardage. This skein of yarn has 75 fewer yards than the pattern calls for, and no one seems to have any more of this colorway. But I have faith in the yardage god who loves me.

I'm listening to Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie while I knit this. I know that many of you enjoy listening to audiobooks while you craft, but does anyone else pair specific projects with specific books? I knitted Hanami while listening to the early Sherlock Holmes stories, and a good deal of the Nouveau Beaded Capelet while listening to Jane Eyre. I plan to knit a Y Ddraig shawl while listening to New York: The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd (I love his historical fiction!), and I've been saving a lecture series on Byzantium for my future Sheherazade.

I also finished the second heel on Bandit's socks, and the cuffs are slowly growing now.

The socks don't get an audiobook at all. I work on them almost exclusively on the living room couch in the evenings while watching Bandit play video games, or with a Starcraft stream going in the background. After all, I have to have knitting in my hands at almost every hour, even in dangerous kitten-infested rooms. These sturdy socks are the most likely to withstand an ambush.