Sunday, July 20, 2014

Socks Sunday: Honeycomb Socks WIP.

Well, despite the kitten's best efforts, I have managed to get a bit of knitting done over the past two weeks. Yuuret is all done, all blocked, and awaiting only thread and needles that are small enough to fit through the holes on the clasps. I'll have an FO post for it soon.

I've also picked this pair of socks back up. I started them for Bandit last summer and set them aside over the winter. When I first got these skeins of Koigu KPPPM, they reminded us both so strongly of honeybees and honeycomb that I decided to find and incorporate a honeycomb motif into the stitches. This one is taken from Apis Dorsata, a free shawl pattern from Knitty.

The toes and heels are knit from Saucon Sock by Kraemer Yarns - a cotton/acrylic/nylon blend. I wouldn't want to knit a whole sock out of it, but it's been good for contrasting toes, heels and cuffs, especially for skeins that run a little on the less-yardage side.

I decided to try out the Fish Lips Kiss heel. I'd had problems trying to figure out where to start the heel with my last pair of toe-up socks for Bandit, so I was super excited to see that the FLK heel provided an easy way of determining this. I traced Bandit's foot on cardboard, cut out the foot shape, and then used the mathematical formula provided in the pattern to determine where the heel hinge was. (That's the lighter pencil line on the cardboard, about an inch under where the darker one is. I had also tried to do it just by feel, but measured it incorrectly; that's what the darker line is.)

Just for comparison's sake, this is my own cardboard foot tracing next to Bandit's.

I knit the first sock up to the heel hinge line, fitting the sock over the cardboard form every so often to check my progress, and then started the second sock, to make sure that the body of the two would match. Yesterday afternoon I finally got the second sock to the hinge line as well... and then I began the heel. The heel was done by early evening.

The heel is called Fish Lips Kiss, by the way, because when it doesn't have a heel in it, it kind of flattens out and looks a bit like fish lips.

I have to say, this heel has been absolutely lovely to knit. The cardboard foot form, by itself, cut out a lot of the frustration and guesswork of knitting a toe-up sock. But the heel construction is a marvel. It's simple to memorize, involves no counting, and makes for a join that's surprisingly seamless and free of holes. And best of all, the pattern is only $1. A few of the sixteen pages, I feel, could have been left out entirely - they smack a bit of empty promotion and self-congratulation - but once one finds the real meat of the information, it's precious information indeed.

Keturah, by the way, got very curious about my lightbox while I was photographing the sock. I warned her that if she kept exploring around in it, I'd take pictures of her.

She didn't heed my warnings.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Kitten!

Bandit and I adopted a kitten!

And it turns out that kittens are a handful and a half to deal with. I've gotten little Keturah mostly trained not to walk across the keyboard, and am slowly working on getting her to leave my yarn and project bags alone. Any advice from all you veteran cat-owners on how to make them respect the knitting?

Friday, June 27, 2014

FO: Storm Warning 2 (Nuriel)

Started: June 11, 2014

Finished: June 25, 2014

Yarn/yardage used: Mountain Colors Jeannette (65% cashmere, 35% silk), 158 yards (exactly one skein)

Needles: Size 6 circulars

I don't think I have much to say about this, other than:
1. This pattern isn't so bad when you have a relatively small skein of yarn that won't drag the project out into the dozens of repeats and hundreds of garter stitches.
2. I used up every inch of this yarn.
3. This yarn feels like knitting with a newborn kitten.

(Also, I seem to have misplaced my big box of pins, so the border leaves aren't being blocked as neatly as I'd like.)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Gems and goodies.

Fortunately for my recent fit of esurience*, I've had some beautiful little treats sent my way recently!

The golden yarn is mulberry silk lace in "Gold of the Aztecs" from Povetkina's Dyeworks on Etsy. I can't tell you how thrilled I was when I found yarn in shimmering true gold. I'd resolved to knit Sheherazade in gold with dark ruby beads, but it had to be gold - yellow or orange would have ruined it for me. This yarn is an absolute marvel. It took a little over two weeks to get to me from Russia, but 1) it came all the way from Russia and 2) it's so worth it.

Moving on clockwise... I was lucky enough recently to have won a giveaway hosted by the Dull Roar blog and sponsored by Alicia of Woolen Diversions. Alicia kindly offered me my choice of scents of her Sweet Sheep solid lotion bars - and I have to say, Alicia's done an excellent job with her products. It was well-packaged so that the lotion arrived still solid and intact through temperatures in the low 90s yesterday, but warms and melts quickly in the heat of one's hands. The green tea scent that I chose smells just like a freshly-opened canister of looseleaf tea. It's a very pleasant and mild scent, not at all overpowering, accompanied by the faint warm smell of beeswax. The scent fades within the hour (a huge plus for me; I don't wear perfume and hate having a smell clinging strongly to me all day!) but my hands stay plump and soft for hours and hours, even in the dry climate of Colorado. I'll definitely be using this for a long time to come! You can find Alicia's lotion bars and lip balms in her Etsy store, Sweet Sheep Body Shoppe.

Below that tin are three of the six removable Melody stitch markers that I bought from Twice Sheared Sheep. Yes, in addition to very affordable recycled luxury yarn, Twice Sheared Sheep also sells beautiful stitch markers, row counters, shawl pins and more. I bought this set for myself on Tuesday night, as a little prize for getting all of my thesis postponement paperwork done, and they were in my mailbox on Thursday afternoon! The seller does live only an hour away from me, but still, that's remarkable speed in posting the package. The other three markers are already doing their duty on projects.

Finally, I went down to my LYS today and picked up two tiny crochet hooks and a pair of size 4 Addi Turbo Lace circs in the longest cable size they had, 47 inches. My Celestarium is now in its final set of charts before the lace edging, and nearly 600 stitches around. It was becoming a bit of an ordeal to try to squeeze all of them along a 32-inch cable. So now I have five sets of long size 4 circs (as well as two sets of short circs) of various lengths, and as soon as I shift projects and needles around and cast on the Sheherazade, all five will be in active use. The two tiny crochet hooks are, of course, for beading. My 0.5 mm hook was too small to reliably catch the DK weight yarn for Storm Warning, so I picked up a 0.85 mm and a 1.00 mm hook to see if either will work better.

What knitting treats have you picked up recently?

 

 

*esurience (noun) overwhelming desire for more. I like that I can use this word to describe my craving for yarny things without the ugly stain of moral defect that "greed" or "avarice" would leave.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hedonism?

There's something in me that struggles against the very concept of austerity and discipline and self-denial. I can be frugal at need, sure, but when it comes right down to it, I'm a hedonist at heart. And right now, right when I've dropped far too much money in a few days on yarn, and really should be reining back on my knitting budget for a couple of months... I can't stop thinking about all the yarn and patterns I want and all the projects I want to cast on.

I've been looking at lace and light fingering summer tees and tops, longing to buy a pattern or two:

And I dove into my stash to pull out the two most luxurious yarns I own and feast my fingertips on new projects:

I cast on a Jacke/Cardigan *Opera* a few weeks ago with the fine, sleek Skaska silk/yak laceweight that Bandit sneakily bought for me at last year's wool festival. The pattern is essentially an octagon knitted from the center out, with armholes added when the diameter reaches the width of one's back. Stitches are picked up afterwards for sleeves, and the edgings of both the sleeves and the main body are knit in a beautiful lace pattern.

I can't help pausing every so often to pet this yarn. It's sturdy, with great stitch definition, yet at the same time it's so sleek and soft and light and warm. And my superpower of never running out of yarn is apparently kicking in at full force. I went down three whole needle sizes, from the suggested 7 to a 4, to make a denser fabric. I've just passed the armholes, at an unblocked diameter of 16 inches. And I still have 85 grams left of the 98-gram cake.

But as much as I love this yarn, project monogamy is a bit too much to expect when I get restless. And so I also dug out the most absolutely decadent yarn I own: Jeannette by Mountain Colors. Fifty grams of 65% cashmere 35% silk. I do not exaggerate when I say that this yarn feels like knitting with cotton candy, or a baby kitten, or a cloud.

I only had the one skein of it (it was $48 a skein) so I had to find a pattern that would work well with 158 luscious yards.

Did I say that I was never knitting Storm Warning again?

I'm sure I never said anything that rash, right?