Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hello again!

It's been a while, hasn't it? I planned to take a break only until the end of November when my Master's thesis defense was originally scheduled. After two postponements, however, I finally held my defense on December 12th, flying in the day before and flying out again the day after. Then right after that there was a flurry of holiday preparations to make, and then the post-holiday visitors... I've managed to get a surprising amount of knitting done in stolen minutes here and there, and even take picturea, but this is the first time I've made time to sit down and get back in touch with the blogging world. (Expect a ton of comments as I go through the backlog of my blogroll in the next few days!)

I wanted to get at least this one post in before the end of 2014, so that I could get you all up to date on what I've been doing during my hiatus before I dive into New Year's resolutions and the like.

First... I passed my defense! While I was in town for it, I stayed with Shannon and Eli who were the best hosts ever, considering that they were also dealing with hectic end-of-year things. Shannon even let me destress with some of her stash yarn when I asked for some skeins to wind - one project was not sufficient yarny comfort for me, even on a trip of only two days. I really miss the weekly crafternoons that Shannon, Alexis and I used to have; maybe someday we'll all live close enough again to meet in person. Or failing that, maybe the two of them will join me in the knit-blogosphere (get on that, guys!).

Second... I regret to say that none of the WIPs I highlighted in my last post have progressed very far. The Whispers top and Bandit's socks just stopped holding my interest, so they're now languishing in my storage ottoman, which is where my WIPs go to die hibernate. Dreambird, on the other hand, made it to four whole feathers before I discovered that the Mini Mochi I was using for those beautiful gradient feathers... was full of knots. In fact, both skeins were full of knots. And they weren't just ordinary knots either. They were knots that were tied with no regard for preserving the color repeats. I spent a day undoing all the knots and winding the yarn up into five separate mini-cakes, none of which could be easily joined together in a smooth transition. Maybe at some point in a few weeks or months I'll have come to terms with the task, and start snipping and regrafting the colors, but for now, it's sitting at the bottom of the WIP bin.

I did, however, finish a WIP older than any of these.

In March I started planning for the second Vericon charity auction shawl of the year (Celestarium being the first). The recipient wanted a shawl that would evoke dragons, and that would fade gradually from brown at the neck to green at the edges. After a bit of back and forth, we decided on the Y Ddraig pattern and the Elphaba colorway from Twisted Fiber Art, an indie dyeing company that specializes in gradients. When Elphaba finally rotated into TFA's active colorways in June, I happily snapped up a triple evolution in the imminently-discontinued Duchess base, a lovely merino DK weight. I cast on and... the dark dye immediately started coming off all over my hands and needles.

No one else in the TFA forums seemed to be having any trouble at all, and the color wasn't actually fading from the yarn itself, so I figured that it was just a bit of excess dye crocking off of oversaturated yarn. I gritted my teeth and knitted, and knitted, and then I got too fed up of having to scrub at my hands after every knitting session and put the project into the Storage Ottoman of Hibernation.

In the midst of thesis-related stress, I decided to pick the shawl back up again. As it turned out, it was perfect for stress knitting. The pattern was soothing - simple and repetitive enough to memorize, but engaging enough to keep me mindful of my stitches and not allow my mind to wander off. And the dye issue kept my knitting sessions short; as soon as the dye built up on my hands I knew it was time to set the knitting down and start working again. I had just finished the brown section when I held my defense.

Free of the thesis-related stress, I found the rest of the shawl went surprisingly quickly - except placing beads, which the original pattern didn't call for but which my recipient wanted. My tiny beading hooks, bought for beading on lace or, at the very most, light fingering, tended to just split the DK yarn rather than bead smoothly. I finished knitting on December 21st, and blocked it on December 22nd.

Keturah helped.

The same day I cast on a pair of my self-designed dragonscale gauntlets, also a charity auction commission item. These took just a week to finish, even with something of a false start on the first gauntlet as I tried to recreate my pattern. I've made some tweaks to the design since I first posted about them in April, and I think they look much sleeker and nicer now.

One of my New Year's resolutions will be to finally get the pattern written up and made available as a PDF. I might as well get all my notes in one place, because I have two more pairs of these to knit in the next few weeks!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Putting (the knitting) life on pause.

So I've decided to finally face down the fact that I'm defending my thesis in almost exactly a month, and address it with the proper reaction: panic!

While my normal instinctual response to panic is to grab needles and yarn, I'm working towards channeling my frantic energies away from the knitting, and towards more productive things like writing, revising, and emailing people. I've barely looked at Ravelry for weeks, and I have a backlog of thirty posts on my blogroll to read. I don't expect this situation will change much before the end of November.

So here's where I am now:

Remember these socks? I started trying to knit socks for Amy out of this yarn... back in 2012! After a few sizing mishaps and much frogging, I began again with the Slide pattern by Cookie A on May 1, 2013. I finished the first sock on May 18th, then knit halfway through the second one... and just stopped. They sat in their bag for over a year, nearly a year and a half. It was the RemRants monthly WIPdown that finally motivated me to dust them off again and finish the second foot.

I finished them on October 9th. Amy came over on October 17th and tried them on... and they were too small. Again.

Fortunately, all that was required to fix them this time was to unpick the grafting on the toes, add four rounds, and then regraft them.

The Slide pattern is really great, by the way. I plan to knit myself a pair with plain gray wool after I finish a few more WIPs.

Whispers might be the next WIP to come off the line. I've finished all the knitting; all that's left is the sewing up... but I tried it on and I'm not sure the armholes will be big enough once I graft the front and back together. I'm waffling between frogging the top and adding a few more rows somewhere, and just grafting it and trusting that blocking (and not having to hold it up while still on the needles) will take care of the difference.

Bandit's fourth pair of socks is coming along nicely. I've knit to the cuff of one sock, and I've started the second sock with the other end of the skein in order to make sure I can divide the yarn up evenly. (I've complained before about how big his feet are, but to put it in perspective: each foot is 96 stitches around, and there are a hundred rows of the darker yarn between the contrast toe and heel!)

Finally, my most recent guilty obsession: Dreambird. I've coveted one so long, and it's starting to get chilly enough to need a nice big snuggly shawl, and I'd be using up two of the oldest yarns in my stash, and I'd just finished two WIPs in a row... Yeah, I broke my WIPdown rule just a teeny bit in order to cast it on. Knitting it is utterly fascinating. I'm using Cascade Yarns Eco Alpaca for the charcoal-gray background yarn, and it's so beautifully smooth, it knits like butter. The feather yarn is Crystal Palace Mini Mochi, the first yarn I'd ever bought for myself at a LYS. It's a very loosely-spun single, so I'd had trouble finding projects where it would hold up under use and where its medium-length color changes wouldn't pool in an ugly way. Dreambird seems to be written just for such yarns. The pattern is rather wordy and confusing, but careful reading and then a bit of practice clears it up quite nicely.

So with that, I'm officially hitting pause on the knitblogging. Hopefully I'll keep myself industrious enough that my knitting won't change too much in the next month or so. See you all in December!


(P.S. Not only did I break my WIPdown rules, I also broke my cold sheeping. Craftyyarn is closing in a few days, and after the 50% clearance coupon, most of the yarn is less than $4 a skein. I bought four thousand yards of laceweight for $24. Check it out!)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

FO: Celestarium!

I've finished knitting the Northern skies.

Started: May 5, 2014

Finished: September 30, 2014

Yarn/yardage used: Silk/merino lace in the Aegean colorway, from Black Sheep Dyeworks. I held two strands doubled, so my best guess is that I used a total of about 2000 yards.

Beads: About 450 size 6/0 beads. The color? Well, FusionBeads calls it "Silver Lined Transparent Light Aqua Rainbow". So there you have it.

Needles: Size 4 Addi Turbo Lace circs, with the longest cables I could find (47"). They still felt rather short, though, since the finished circumference of the shawl was well over 100 inches.

The recipient wanted a pointy edging, so I followed the lead of many other Celestarium knitters and adapted the edging from the Lunar Tide shawl. When I went to start the edging, I found that I somehow had over 200 leftover beads. Now, the pattern calls for 370 beads, and I'd bought three packets of 150 each, so... who knows how that happened? I just went ahead and added beads to each of the 82 pattern repeats in the edging.

This was an odd knit for me in a couple of ways. For one thing, it was only the second project that I've knit to someone else's specifications. You see, when I knit something as a simple present for someone, I might elicit some suggestions on color and fiber, but I always make the final decisions on pattern and yarn. Often the recipient doesn't even know they're getting something until I've finished knitting it. But the custom knitting that I auction off at the Vericon charity auction seems to carry this weight of responsibility with it. I need to make sure that that what I produce comes as close as possible to the commissioners' dream shawls in all respects. So I flood them with options for fiber, color, weight, pattern, and beads. I've been fortunate in that both commissioners so far have been knitters themselves, and so they know what they (and I) are getting into. I've been doubly fortunate in that they've both picked shawls that I had already wanted to knit anyway, making the commission knitting feel just like personal knitting.

Which brings me to the second way in which this is odd: I want to keep this. I want to use it. This is extremely strange behavior for me. I'm a process knitter who never actually uses any of my finished knits. Sure, I wear my socks sometimes, but I don't knit socks so that I can have the pleasure of wearing my own pretty handknitted socks. I knit socks because I enjoy knitting socks, and then I wear the socks because I need to put on socks and these were the ones that were lying around. I knit shawls because I enjoy knitting beautiful intricate lace, and then they get put away somewhere. I'll wear them maybe once a year. (This realization is what prompted me to start offering my custom shawl-knitting services for auction in the first place. Someone may as well enjoy the fruits of my labor.)

So why do I want to keep and use Celestarium? Is it because I've spent so much time with it? Is it because it falls on the right side of the "everyday stuff" and "fancy special-occasion stuff" divide in my mind? Is it just because the weather's grown chilly recently?

Who knows. The urge to keep it, though tangible, is not very strong, and it's getting mailed out to its proper owner today or tomorrow. If I continue to miss it, well, I have some lovely dark blue-purple Malabrigo lace that has been waiting in my stash for two and a half years to learn what it'll become.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

FO: Cold Springs.

Whew, it's been a while. Two days after I got home from my trip, there was a big get-together at our place, and after that I just wanted to go to bed and sleep for a week. I couldn't even bring myself to get excited about my knitting. Yesterday, though, I finally finished and blocked the fingerless mitts I'd been knitting as a quick birthday present. (If anyone knows a better way to block fingerless mitts, please let me know!)

Started: September 9, 2014

Finished: September 23, 2014

Yarn/yardage used: Skaska Designs 50/50 Merino & Silk, about 240 yards (19 grams). I was using the partial cake left over from Hanami, and now have 39 grams left in the cake.

Needles: Size 2 DPNs. This was a mistake. The pattern calls for size 1s if working with laceweight, and despite my being a tight knitter, size 2s were simply too big.

The pattern is Hand Springs Fingerless Mitts by Micol Day, and I highly recommend it for a quick and easy knit. (I'm fairly certain that if it hadn't been for all the travel and subsequent burnout, I could have finished the pair in ten days or so.) The lace chart is intuitive and easy to memorize, and the pattern even includes a printable page with little circles next to each row that you can poke out with your needle tip to mark your progress. I'm rather surprised to see that this pattern has so few projects on Ravelry - it and Ice Queen are quickly becoming my go-to quick gift patterns.

Also, I came home to a lovely surprise - I won the birthday giveaway hosted by Marsha of One Geek to Craft Them All!

I'm especially in love with this journal; the leaves are handmade paper, and the folios are handsewn. The cover even has tiny mirror shards on it.

I have a habit of collecting lovely journals that I always feel a bit too intimidated to actually write in. I'd like to change that before the end of the year; I've been thinking a lot about creativity recently and realized that I never stopped being inspired to draw or write or express myself in creative ways, I just stopped doing them. I think it's probably about time to stop being afraid and just have fun doing the things again.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A week on the East Coast.

Hello from sunny (and humid!) New Jersey! I'm spending a week on the East Coast - two days here with my parents, then the weekend in New York City with friends, and two more days with my parents before I head back.

I have to admit, it's refreshing to get away from the towering heap of WIPs for a while. I'd been working almost exclusively on Celestarium, and it can get hard to provide entertaining updates about what amounts to "progressed a little further on the charts" every week. Granted, I did manage to finish all the charts and start on the edging before I left:

But even so, I've only managed to knit 16 repeats out of 82. The next Celestarium milestone will be quite a while in coming.

Meanwhile, I've already broken my self-imposed ban on new projects. But it's for a good cause, I promise! Part of the festivities on Saturday (uh oh... is that tomorrow already?) include a birthday party at an upscale teahouse. I decided on Tuesday that it would be nice to knit a pair of fingerless gloves as a present. Fingerless gloves are quick and easy, right?

Well, apparently not quite so much when you knit them in laceweight on size 2 needles. I cast on the first glove on Tuesday night, knit all day Wednesday in the airports and airplanes, then bound off late Thursday night. There's no way I'll be able to finish the second one today. Another WIP for the growing mental burden, I suppose. At least this isn't breaking my cold sheeping, as I'm using the leftover yarn from the Hanami stole.

(As a side note, the pattern calls for size 1s, but all of my size 1s were in use on various sock projects. No problem, I thought as I pulled out my 2s. I'm a tight knitter! ...I think this is the only time I've knit anything only to have it come out much too big.)

I deliberately packed light in order to have room for the mountain of things my mother will inevitably press on me, so the only other WIP I brought with me is Bandit's latest pair of socks. But I've also brought a Very Important Knitting Mission. Tomorrow, I will make Pickle stand on a piece of cardboard, and I will trace his foot, and I will cut it out. He will have his damned socks before the year is out, and they will fit.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Knitting Confessions #4.

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 #4: I have a weakness for pretty stitch markers.

I mean... everyone does, right? How can anyone resist decorating their needles with these little gems? They're undoubtedly functional (and as a lace knitter who constantly seeks out new challenges, I should know) and I believe that their beauty is an intrinsic part of their function. The more striking and distinct they are, the easier it is to recognize exactly which stitch marker and therefore which portion of the pattern you've reached.

And yet whenever the topic of stitch markers comes up on the Ravelry forums, you always get those people who say "oh, I just tie scrap yarn in a loop" or "I just cut rings off of a plastic drinking straw". I've started getting the urge to say, "Oh honey, just take some of my extra stitch markers." Because loops of waste yarn and slices of drinking straws are fine as makeshift stitch markers - as are leverback earrings and rings, both of which I've used in a tight spot - but they're not a permanent solution. They're easy to lose or disregard or accidentally knit into the project. A dropped loop of scrap yarn looks just like trash. But I can't tell you how many times I've discovered a dropped stitch marker and immediately knew I needed to double-check my project. Or times that I've paused at the end of a row to admire all my beautiful little markers, and immediately noticed one was missing. It's probably saved me hours of miscounting and frustration. Using tools you care about - it really works!

Nice stitch markers don't have to be expensive, either. I started out with simple brass-colored jump rings from a fly-fishing supply store. Fifty of these cost me about $3 - less than half of the shipping cost! A few years later, when I was first introducing Amy to the wider world of knitting, she made a set of about twenty red-and-black stitch markers for me out of her old beading supplies. However, after I ordered my first set of grab-bag markers from Exchanging Fire, I became well and truly hooked. I've made her Scorpion Honey (brown and gold) and Destiny (green and white) sets my go-to markers for projects that require more than just one or two stitch markers.

I keep a constant eye out for new stitch markers to put on my Etsy wishlist. They make convenient, relatively inexpensive little treats to reward myself with or to serve as a pick-me-up when I'm down.

What kind of stitch markers do you own? Do you have favorites, or do you use them all equally?

Knitting Confessions

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Monday, September 1, 2014

Knitting Confessions #3.

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 #3: You know that yarn diet I was talking about yesterday? Cold sheeping and everything?

Needles don't count.

Stitch markers might count... but not when they're gifts, taken straight from my Etsy wishlist. These lovely shell stitch markers are from Lavender Hill Knits.

Amy was knitting a cowl for her mother, but wasn't sure about her yarn choice - white mohair held together with pink bamboo. I helped her frog what she'd knit so far. Then I remembered I had a skein of Lana Grossa Lace Lux, which was soft and luxurious and very close to the color she was going for. So I offered it to her, and in return she gave me the white mohair (which I'm fairly sure is Rowan Kidsilk Haze). So... trades don't count. (By the way, have you ever tried to wind mohair into a cake? Don't do it. There's fuzz everywhere.)

Amy and her husband Jordy also gave me a gift certificate to a local yarn store for my birthday. Whatever I buy with that won't count. And, as Ivy of Pumpkin Spins pointed out, if Bandit or anyone else gives me yarn, that definitely won't count.

This is not a hint. Not at all.

Knitting Confessions

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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Cold sheeping, WIPdowns, and other awfully grown-up concepts.

Last week Bandit and I sat down and made a budget. It was designed to be what I call a Terribly Responsible Budget - we went back through our bank statements and extrapolated how much we would be paying for food, rent, utilities and various kinds of insurance each month. Then we started ruthlessly cutting back on luxuries. Subscriptions to Spotify, Audible and satellite TV got the axe. Eating out was forbidden; we cooked solely at home for two weeks and discovered that we could make healthy, tasty meals for less than $40 a week. (At the end of the two weeks, we caved and got burgers to use up a coupon we had. We quickly discovered that fast food tasted disgusting after so much home cooking!)

I decided to do my part by voluntarily giving myself a monthly yarn budget of $0. That's right - I am cold sheeping. At the beginning of July I resolved to buy no more yarn until my birthday. This turned out to be a rather painless resolution (with the exception of a few moments in yarn stores), so I see no problem in maintaining it until the end of the year.

For one, I've discovered the joys of shopping from stash. This was a concept I'd never really understood before - why not just, you know, not build up your stash with yarn you aren't going to use right away, and then shop from actual shops when you need something? Well, this is why: shopping from stash is shopping from a place that only stocks yarn that you like. It's like a yarn store that's perfectly tailored to you.

I've been looking at all the beautiful yarns I have, and they've been sparking project ideas left and right.

Which brings me to the second, and much more difficult, part of being a Responsible Grown-Up Knitter: I have eleven WIPs, and I really need to finish them. I've decided, after some agonizing, that I need to finish at least five of them before I can cast anything else on. Fortunately, I'm in good company here - there's a monthly WIPdown hosted on RemRants, and the My Sister's Knitter Rav group has just started a WIPdown as their quarterly knit/crochet-along. Both are very lively and encouraging communities, and I look forward to cheering everyone else on towards their WIPdown goals!

Unfortunately, however, my knitting output has drastically decreased lately. This is, unsurprisingly, because of the kitten. She's begun to grow up and calm down a little, but she still loves to play with yarn or any other wiggly thing. I can no longer safely keep my projects by my computer and knit a few stitches here and there, which is what the vast majority of my knitting time consisted of. It looks like I'll have to start scheduling blocks of uninterrupted knitting time for myself in order to get anything done.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Knitting Confessions #2.

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 #2: I'm a process knitter.

I realize many of you will nod along, completely able to relate, and perhaps even wondering why this even counts as a confession. Believe me, it does. I'm not "more of a process knitter", I'm not "mostly a process knitter", or anything else of the sort. I'm a process knitter. I knit things because I need to have things on hand to knit at all times. Looking through yarns and patterns excites me, having yarn and needles in my hands calms me, and having a finished object makes me feel proud and accomplished.

Then the project comes off the blocking board and...

I can't even tell you where most of my FOs are at the moment. They never get worn. They scarcely even get looked at. I knit things because I fall in love with the pattern, not because I need to wear or use them.

This may be why, even though I am in complete sympathy with selfish knitters, I usually end up deciding to knit things for other people instead. I know they'll probably get more practical use out of my knits than I will.

Knitting Confessions

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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

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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?