Friday, February 27, 2009

The UFO that will never end

So remember how I was gushing about picking up and finishing old UFOs? Yeah, my Hey, Teach! cardigan is doing very well to kill that enthusiasm. Oh, and the Valentine's Day socks, too. They aren't helping. Let me tell you about my knitting "woes."

My Hey, Teach! cardigan (or what I'm calling my Hey, Librarian! ) isn't actually that old. It was started in September but got put aside for socks in October, a sweater in November, and Christmas presents in December. I actually got pretty far on the sweater before it was put down. The back and fronts were all finished. I had even started on the ribbing at the bottom of the sleeves. All I needed to do was to knit the sleeves, block everything, seam, and pick up and knit the button bands and the neckbands. Putting it down like that makes it sounds like a lot to do but the bulk of the work was finished.

As written, the pattern calls for cap sleeves. Now, cap sleeves have the benefit of not very much knitting (so right now that looks like a distinct plus!). But I really don't find sweaters with cap sleeves to be very wearable because they don't keep my arms warm at all. I also don't like full length sleeves because my forearms get too warm and I'll just push the sleeves up anyway. So that means 3/4 length sleeves are the way to go. Another Ravelry member had already figured out the math for the 3/4 length so I was all set for my modifications. After picking it up again, I realized I had the wrong number of stitches on my first attempt at the sleeves. I frogged that, knit my sleeves and blocked everything. After that, I could see that I made a mistake in the lace pattern of the fronts. It was right across the bust line so the mistake would have driven me crazy. I ripped back and reknit. Blocked the fronts again then got ready to seam.

buttons for my Hey, Librarian!

I seamed up the sides and got pretty good at mattress stitching (though the first attempt at it was distinctly NOT good). I realized having the sides sewn up made it difficult to set in the sleeves. Having it flat would make things much easier so I undid the side seaming. When everything was flat, I realized there was no way that my sleeves were going to fit easily in the shoulders. The sizes just didn't match up. If I decided to sew the shoulder and sleeve together, the fabric of the sleeve would be pulled too tight. I tried holding the sleeve together to see how it would be on my arms and they are fine until you get to the shoulder. At that point, they are a little snug. Ugh.

Yesterday, I decided to ignore the sleeves for the moment and to concentrate on picking up stitches for the neck band and button bands. I watched Chuck and Heroes and got all of that done. Well, until I decided I didn't like the look of the last bind off stitch on the neck bands. So I tore back the bind off and the last row. I slipped the first stitch of the last row, knit it and bound off in pattern. Slipping the first stitch seems to make the last bind of stitch look much cleaner. I'm happy I went back even though it meant more time dealing with fiddly things. While I was going back and finishing things, I wove in ends at the same time. One piece sweaters don't have as many ends. Just saying. After that was all done, I blocked the neck band and the button bands.

This morning, after blocking, I bit the bullet and decided to frog the sleeves and start them again in the next larger size. If they don't fit after all of this, I'm going to scream. Oh, did I mention I could only find one of the sleeves while I was frogging? Normally I try to do things two at a time so I don't get bored with knitting two of the same things and so that they will be the same length. Well, one of the completed but soon to be frogged sleeves was hiding under an afghan. I thought, "Forget it, I'll find it later. I'll knit them one at a time because if I don't feel like I've made progress on this thing, I'm going to throw it across the room!" I got pretty far on the one sleeve before leaving for work this morning. It would be great if I could block it tonight but we'll have to see.

I'll have to tell you about the Valentine's Day socks later. I don't know that I can deal with that much knitting angst!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A very late gift

I finished the alpaca socks for my friend last night. Talk about a belated gift! I hope she enjoys them!

The Dove socks from New Pathways is basically a vanilla sock with a purl diamond on the center. This picture is atrocious but you can see a little bit of it. Taking pictures on a dim morning inside doesn't make for fabulous pictures.

I'm just amazed a) how quickly these socks took to make and b) how quickly projects go when you actually work on them instead of hiding them under piles of yarn. I started them on Feb 16th and finished them yesterday on the 21st. I don't think I've knit a pair of socks so fast since I was in school with 3+ hour classes in which to knit. I think this pattern will be a nice addition to my plain vanilla sock patterns.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Finishing craziness

I don't know what has gotten into me. After that post the other day, I've been pulling projects out of the UFO black hole I mean, "basket." I finished my Waves of Plum scarf from my own handspun. I dug out the Hey, Teach! cardigan I was making for myself. I even restarted a pair of alpaca socks for a friend. I'm also considering pulling out the Valentine's Day socks after I finish the alpaca ones.

I love the way that the Waves of Plum scarf turned out. It is fantastic. Because my handspun is heavier than the laceweight the pattern called for, my scarf is a bit more like a mini stole. I love it. Have I mentioned that I like the result? Because I do. The color is fantastic and I love the beads at the ends. The only part I really don't like is the way I joined the two halves together. My grafting is all uneven so I think I might rip it out and regraft again. Or maybe just make sure I wrap the scarf in a way so that you can't see the join. Hmmm.

The Hey, Teach! cardigan has been languishing (wonderful word that) since September. I finished the back and the two fronts pretty quickly but was held up on the sleeves. I picked everything up again and was able to get the 3/4 sleeves finished in an evening. Then I blocked everything on towels on my floor, a process my cat loved. I took all of the pieces to the knitting guild meeting on Monday as a way to encourage myself to seam it up. Now I remember why I don't like knitting sweaters in pieces. Seaming is definitely NOT one of my favorite things. The side seams are wonky looking and the sleeves are something I really don't want to talk about! Earlier in the day, I had a horrendous migraine and had to go home from work. After taking an Imitrex and sleeping for 5 hours, I still had a headache but felt human again. In hindsight, that probably wasn't the best situation to be seaming pieces together. Let's just say I'm glad I also took the scarf in order to weave in the ends and the alpaca socks. After seaming for a little bit, I wove in the ends (except for the ones where you graft things together) and got a few rounds in on the socks.

A new member came to the meeting on Monday which ended up having fewer people attend than normal. I met her at the yarn shop last Sunday when I helped her with her Mobius bag. In the course of conversation I found out that she is a librarian, too, and even runs her own small CSA. I wish more people had been there Monday and hope she will come back next month, too. It's nice talking librarian stuff with someone else.

On Sunday, I unearthed a pair of socks (yum, alpaca!) which were supposed to be for my friend *mumble mumble last year mumble mumble*. They were originally a pair of Snicket socks from the now defunct Magknits. There were a bunch of minuses being applied to this pair: the marker which told me where I was on the chart had fallen off, my friend and I have the same size feet but they wouldn't even pull over my foot, and the color and the pattern were definitely "meh" together. So it was definitely time to frog those. Instead, I decided I needed a relatively plain pair that I could get done quickly and which would look good with the color. It is a mix of green, blue, purple and brown which was flashing like crazy with the Snicket pattern. So I decided to pull out the New Pathways book and cast on for a pair of Dove socks. The migraine must have been lurking on Sunday because I definitely couldn't count my stitches per inch correctly. The number I got was absurd the first time I counted. It was something like 10 stitches per inch and I definitely wasn't using that thin of yarn. So rather than counting again, I just kept increasing (these are toe-up socks) until I reached the number of stitches I normally use for socks for myself (60 sts). In three days, I've knit the feet, turned the heels and am 2 inches into the leg.

The sock is mostly a plain vanilla sock with a purl diamond starting on the instep and going up to the leg. The diamond pattern hides the increases on the top of the foot. You increase one row, knit one, and do the purl pattern on the third row. I'm wondering if that is why this pattern is going so fast. I keep thinking, "oh, it's only a couple of rows until I can see the pattern grow some more." On the foot, the increases naturally make the diamond grow outward. On the leg, you have to keep track and keep shifting the purls towards the inside so the top comes to a point. For a plain vanilla sock, it's amazingly good at keeping my attention. For a long overdue project, that is probably a good thing.

I'm considering using this same sockitecture to make the Valentine's Day socks (the red and pink ones). Recently I've been using the Riverbed sockitecture where the increases are on the bottom of the sole. This sockitecture has the increases on the top of the insole. If I do yarnover increases, there will be eyelets in the shape of a v. On the leg, I could have more yarnovers make the top of a heart. Would that be too much? Hmmm. I can definitely see my next project taking shape.

**I just realized that this is another blog post without pictures. I'll try harder to take some! The weather and my work schedule haven't been cooperating at all!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I've been in a startitis/finishing mood recently. I know those two really don't go well together but, trust me, it does in this case. I really, really wanted to finish up my pair of Serpentine Mitts because the house has been cold recently. There is nothing better for typing on the computer or knitting in the living room than fingerless gloves. Well, maybe turning up the heat. These fingerless gloves were definitely an on-the-go, don't-have-to-think-about-it-at-all kind of project. When I finished them, however, I didn't have anything else on the go at the moment. Then I looked at my project pile (theoretically there is a basket in there somewhere under all of the knitting totes) and realized that was a lie. I had plently of projects on the go. There were even some in there that were mostly finished or well on their way to being finished.

So I splunked around a little and came up with my Waves of Plum (aka Waves of Grain) scarf that I started back in Sept. 2008. I was almost 45-47% finished with this project when it went into the UFO pile and can't come up with any good reason for having put it down. I guess another project distracted me with its shiny newness and this little scarf fell by the wayside. The construction of the scarf is interesting because you knit one half, cut the yarn, knit the other half, and graft the two together. I'm a little nervous about the grafting part. The Ravelry KAL will be a help with that.

I'm making it out of my own handspun from a merino/tencel blend I got at Maryland Sheep and Wool. It has just a few beads at the end which catch the light. My handspun has more yardage than the pattern called for but I'm going to keep going until I run out of yarn. It's been really fun working with my own yarn. The merino makes it super soft while the tencel gives it an almost silk-like glow.

At this point, I finished the first half and am well on my way to being finished with the second half. I need to dig out my yarn scale and see how much more is left in the ball of yarn. It's amazing to me how much progress has been made after having not worked on it for so long.

After digging through the pile, I even more projects that are mostly finished and are only waiting for me to work on them again than I even thought. There are 2 pairs of fingerless gloves in there. There should be a backstory on these pairs. With projects like these, I like to work two at a time if I can so I don't get SSS (second sock syndrome). These pairs were both supposed to be Christmas presents in 2007 (possibly?).** In order to make myself finish them, I knit one in one yarn and one in another at the same time. Then I cast on for the other "pair" when I finished with the first two gloves. This plan obviously didn't help me finish the two pairs.

Another problem I was having was the fingers I put on the first "pair." There were so many ends to weave in that I just got discouraged. I also didn't keep track of how many rounds I did on each finger so now I can't replicate it on the other "pair." The new plan (after the Waves of Plum scarf is finished) is to rip those fingers out and do an inch of 1x1 tbl ribbing like the cuff of the gloves. This will also make for MANY fewer ends to weave it. I'm estimating that there are 2 short evenings' (or 1 long evening) worth of work left in these gloves. I only have to finish one more pattern repeat on the second "pair," rip back the first "pair"'s fingers, knit 1 inch of 1x1 tbl ribbing on all of them, and do the thumbs on all 4. Then I will magically have 2 pairs of gloves finished. And a pair of my US 1 circs back.

There is a pair of Valentine's day socks in Koigu I started on Valentine's Day 2006 (maybe? possibly? I know I was home sick that day) and which haven't even been entered into Ravelry. They have little purl hearts on them and are pink and red stripes with white heels. I'm thinking of tearing them out (oh the ends!) and starting them again but using spit splicing. Also the stripes are more like 3/4 of an inch of pink then 3/4 an inch of red. I'm thinking of maybe 4 rounds of pink, 4 rounds of red. I'm also thinking of making them with white toes as well as heels. Hope the red and pink don't bleed. Also, I probably won't do the little purl hearts. It will be obvious enough that these are Valentine's socks.

What else did I find? A sweater jacket ! I really loved the look of this sweater. The designer reverse engineered a sweater she saw on the show Bones worn by Temperance Brennan, a forensic anthropologist. I finished the sleeves first because I thought they would be the most boring part and the part most likely to stall me. Ha!

The designer did something really interesting with the body design. You start with the back and knit 6 inches of bottom ribbing. Then you put a number of stitches on each side on holders and knit the remaining live stitches in stockinette for the rest of the back. After you are finished with that, you pick up the stitches on the holders and get to work with your cable needle. The cables are diagonal in a v-shape when you sew the fronts and the back together. It looks fabulous in the design. It also started looking fabulous in person until I couldn't read patterns suddenly and messed everything up. Rather than taking time to figure out what was wrong, I put it back into its tote back and buried it deep in the knitting basket. Oops. This blog post is making me itch to get back to it though I should probably finish the smaller, almost finished projects first.

Like another project I just found even though they are in plain sight on my chair (albeit covered in dry cleaning), the Clessidra socks! Yes, I was working on these in October. I finished the intricate legs on these knee-high socks and only have to turn the heel and knit the feet in order to be finished. Why in the world did I put these down?! The feet are easy! There is only cableing on the instep, none on the sole! These socks are probably 3-4 evenings of work versus the 2 weeks of work on the legs. What was I thinking when I stopped working on them?! Curse you, magpie tendencies, getting distracted by shiny new projects! I really should finish some of these things. At least I have plenty of projects to work on.

**Don't worry, I gave the recipients something else.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Guess what! I've signed up for a class at the end of April with Judith McKenzie McCuin and Nancy Bush in Indiana. It is going to be a three-day spinning and knitting Estonian Lace class. Can I even tell you how excited I am? I absolutely love the Estonian lace book Nancy Bush just published. Keep in mind, I haven't actually seen the book myself but I love the pictures posted on Grumperina's blog and on ravelry. Hmm, must purchase book before class so I can get it signed. Must also purchase Judith's new spinning book. Hmm, looks like that one is coming out in March.

One lady from town just took a class with Judith in North Carolina and said it was nothing like she has ever done before. She learn so much but it didn't even feel like you were learning, just absorbing information. She also said they spun from 9 in the morning until 10:30 at night with short breaks in between. She told me that the class has improved her spinning 200% and she feels like she can do so much more. I'm very excited!

So at least there is one exciting thing in an otherwise depressing future. Sorry, not to be morose but work has been difficult the last few days. I'll talk about knitting instead!

I've been on a mitten kick apparently. I've been working on that pair of glove/mittens for my cousin. They are mostly finished and are just waiting for their ends to be woven in. I hate weaving in ends with a passion. I have a confession to make. Some of the socks I've finished DON'T have their ends woven in so it is like I have a small sock tail. Really, I'm just lazy.

Drying socks and mittens in winter
(Click on picture for my Flickr picture with notes)

The mitten part of the glove/mittens

And then the fingerless gloves of the mitten/gloves

Anyway, back to mittens. When I finished that pair, I decided I really wanted to make a pair of riding mittens. Now, when you ride English, you have the reins going through your pinkie and ring finger and up across your index finger, being held down by your thumb. Regular mittens don't allow you to hold the reins correctly but they do keep your fingers warm. So I decided to keep using the Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns and make myself a pair. I just slapped on a pinkie from the glove pattern and did the rest of the fingers like it was a mitten. I think my thumbs are a little short but, eh, I can rip them out again and reknit them. The whole pair took me 2 days (!) to finish even with sleeping and other non-knitting activities mixed in. The afternoon I finished them, I broke them in with their debut ride. The horses sniffed the sheepy wool quite vigorously but the dogs didn't really seemed interested. It's possible the horses thought they were going to get treats. Knowing them, that was probably the case.

Mom keeps saying they look like the Lambchop puppet.

I'm now working on a pair of fingerless gloves. Well, that's a lie, I was working on them before the glove/mittens and the riding gloves. I knit a 4 inch cuff on them but then paused to finish the other handwear. I've just gone back to them now. They are Serpentine gloves, a free pattern. Last night, I got through half of the chart as well as teaching myself to cable without a cable needle. (It's lost somewhere or stuck in a project. Guess that could be considered the same thing at this point.) This morning before going to work out I put in another 6 rows of knitting. It's amazing how quickly something can go when you, oh, I don't know, work on it! I can't decide if I want to keep these gloves for myself or if I should be a smug little knitter and put it in the Christmas gift pile. I love the Mountain colors sock yarn I'm using for it. That little bit of mohair really keeps your hands and/or feet warm.

Oh, did I tell you about the felted mittens? Ever since the LYS had a class on felted cabled mittens I've been really wanting to make a pair. I didn't take the class but I got to see all of the lovely results. So I bought (I would use stash yarn but I don't have any feltable stuff that would work) some Cascade Tweed in a brown. See, I've also been dreaming about making a pair of those mittens in this yarn. I could just see them in my mind. When the unfelted mittens were finished, I tried them on and started laughing hysterically. These things were HUGE. I mean, going down to your elbows kind of huge. I felted them once and the mittens came out slightly smaller but not much. Yesterday morning, I threw them and some other things I wanted to felt in the washer and went to work. When I talked to Mom later, she said they were the perfect size. I never thought that would happen. They just seemed too big! I'm going to give them to Mom because I never really wanted the mittens for myself. I just really wanted to make them. Ah, the lure of cables, bobbles and mittens. It was too strong to resist.

I also knit a small bag out of my Jacob handspun for the spinning wheel. I'm hoping to put all of the little accessories like the plying tool, wpi tool, oil bottle, etc into it and hang the bag on the wheel. This bag is also supposed to be felted but the first felting run only made it get fuzzier and a tad bit smaller. I also plopped the bag into a pot of dye Mom had going in order to dye some of her shirts to a light blue. Her dying attempts didn't work out well so I used the rest of the dye. I wasn't expecting much change to the color of the yarn because the yarn is so brown but parts are lighter brown. Those parts did pick up dye and the whole thing has an almost bluish-grey look to it now. I'll throw it in the washer whenever I have another load of towels and sheets to do.

Apparently I've just been a hive of mitten-making and felting activity! I really should finish the Hey,Teach! (aka Hey, Librarian!) I put down back in October. Hmm, wonder if I can catch a sweater making bug. But I really want to make the Lily of the Valley shawl instead. I have just the right yarn for it. . .