Wednesday, January 23, 2013

State of the Knits 2013: Part 2.

From my parents' house, after Christmas, I proceeded to a large social house party, then after a week, to a guild party lasting nearly another week.

The plan was to ride down to the house party in a car with Kathy, Kevin and John. I met up with them at Kathy's house, where Kathy proceeded to give me this amazing present. USB-powered handwarmers. Kitschy doesn't describe them. The only adequate description I can give is that they were obviously designed in China. (Click through and look. The first picture doesn't show off the pom-poms on strings to their fullest effect.) I've tried them out since, and they actually work rather nicely, even if they're almost too small for my hands and I had to tear apart a section of the wiring so that I could reach my keyboard and mouse at the same time. Unfortunately they don't allow my hands enough range of motion for unfettered knitting. (And there's a lot of knitting that has to go on right about now, but that's an explanation for a future post.)

When we reached the house, I received a lovely present from Andrew which I very foolishly neglected to take a picture of. It consisted in part of a beautiful skein of merino laceweight from Rhino Fluff (formerly Traveling Rhinos), dyed in a one-of-a-kind colorway ranging from pale blue to rich purple. I'm half contemplating what sort of project I want to knit with it, and half contemplating just keeping it to pet.

The house party was as impressive as always. The main house, which I was staying in, had three full stories and was within a block of the beach. It was also never quite warm enough, being designed as a summer beach house, and so I (and the various other knitters I reunited with from the summer party) often had some yarn in my hands and lap. I only saw the second house (the quiet house) once, but it was nearly as large. We also had some overflow of people staying in a nearby hotel. For a full week we ate, drank, gamed, laughed, and (in some cases) knitted, and I only regret that I hadn't managed to socialize more while I was there.

From there I went to the guild party, which was a much smaller and more intimate gathering in comparison. Amy (whom I hope has been able to find this blog - hi Amy!) and Luna had combined forces in order to mob me with a whole array of knitterly gifts:

A gorgeous mawata silk square, wonderfully soft bamboo fiber, a lavender-scented lotion bar, handmade stitch markers, a carved wooden shawl pin, and two DPN holders. You can only see one in the picture because the second is busy holding a sock in progress. (Also, this makes two shawl pins I own now. Why did I give away the only shawl I've knitted?) The mawata is so delicate that I have to keep it in a plastic bag in order to keep it from snagging on everything, including my own fingers. I know that I want to knit something directly from it without spinning it first. A warm hat? A scarf? A cowl? I just can't bear to decide on something and stop happily speculating what it should be.

Over the course of the guild party, I finished Amy's first sock and started on the second.

But as I looked at the remaining yarn for the second sock, my heart sank. There wasn't going to be enough, I knew. I looked up the vendor from whom I'd purchased my yarn, Greenwood Fiberworks. There wasn't any more of this yarn in their Etsy store. I remembered that Amy had bought some yarn in the same weight and colorway, but with sparkles added, and asked if she still had some left over. She didn't. I frogged the little bit of the second sock that I had, and covered up my dejection with amusement at the horror that Amy expressed when I talked about frogging the first as well.

As luck would have it, though, when I was able to weigh both sock and remaining yarn, the sock weighed 52 grams and the remaining yarn weighed 48 grams. This is a little irritating - so close! - but also reassuring, because when I reknit these, I won't have to worry about reapportioning the yarn, recutting and grafting on for the second sock. I'll just have to knit the first one a little smaller. As the finished sock is somewhat too large on Amy anyway, that's not such a bad thing.

Everyone told me that Bandit had been wearing the socks I knit for him all the time, and an inspection of the partially-felted soles corroborated this. Incredibly flattered, I immediately bought yarn for another pair for him.

Anxious not to repeat the mistake I made in Amy's socks, I'm working these two-at-a-time and toe-up (there's a story about the cast-on for this), using the few yards of leftover Alpaca Sox from last pair for the contrasting toes. Should I run out of yarn before I get to the cuffs, I have some Patons Kroy waiting in the wings as well.

Finally, in the week or so that I stayed on after the party was officially over, I worked a little on Bandit's sweater. I'm just about two-thirds of the way through the second sleeve, which gives me hope that the sweater as a whole might be finished in time to wear next winter.

Next part: the full list of projects I intend (at the moment!) to knit this year.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

State of the Knits 2013: Part 1.

A belated happy new year to all! I've been fairly busy during the blog silence of the past month or so - and only a portion of it (albeit a substantial portion!) involved yarn and fiber. Let's get up to speed and see where my crafting stands now:

First, I told myself that I wouldn't work on any project except the stress scrap mitts until all my final papers were done. See, knitting is good for dealing with stress - sometimes a little too good. I was finding myself turning to my knitting as a way to run from all the things I had to do. So when there were only four rows remaining on the second mitt and a paper and a half still to write, I reminded myself that if I finished the mitt now, I'd be knitless for the next few days. I ended up turning in all my papers in record time.

And the mitts were fixed. After the photos in the last post were taken, I decided to rip back to the wrist and knit with the grey Road to China until I ran out, then resume knitting with the black angora again. This solved the bear-paw problem quite handily. I love how elegant they look now, and of course they're as soft as a dream. The top portion is starting to loosen from repeated use, though, and I'm considering ripping back yet again and reknitting that portion with a smaller needle size.

I spent the holiday season with my parents. On the long flight there, I worked on the Alliance Lion mitts:

Well, that picture was taken in late December, and I actually haven't made much progress on it since. I discovered that colorwork is fairly easy to master. I also discovered that it's, well, tedious. This is not a good project for travel knitting, despite how small the FO might be. It requires two balls of yarn that I have to constantly untangle from each other, a tiny row counter that I dare not lose (and therefore need to stuff into the middle of one of the balls of yarn), a printed-out chart that I have to keep referring to... and twice I've nearly lost stitch markers. Plus, as this pattern is written to be knitted flat, I'm not looking forward to all the seaming and finishing when I'm done. Every time I was traveling, I found myself reaching for socks or something else small and tame, and this lay neglected most of the time.

While I was there, my mother helped me block Radiance for the first time. I'd been wearing it a few times unblocked, and it looked fine enough, in an artistically rumpled sort of way. But the blocking made a distinct difference. Since the yarn was silk and alpaca, we didn't even have to use pins; we just arranged it on a large towel while it was damp and it lay there obediently. After it dried, we picked it up and it was still all orderly and neat, crisp and refined. My mother clearly envied it so much that I just gave it to her as a gift.

Next part: people start giving me gifts!