Sunday, April 27, 2008

Knitting and Friends

Suna and Diana
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I have not been getting anything finished this week, so no FO photos. I am still plugging away at the grandmotherly afghan. I frogged the Vogue Knitting cover sweater and embarked on #29 in that same issue with that yarn, instead (I did this because I really think I need worsted weight yarn for the cover sweater, and I do have a gift certificate, so I can get some and do the sweater justice). I did finish a sock, but have no photo yet, so that will be fodder for later in the week!

But, I do have some nice knitting stories! The picture shows my friend Diana, with whom I worked online doing web design for many years and whom I hadn't seen since I stopped doing that couple of years ago (she now lives in New Jersey, though when we met she lived in Maryland). She is more engaged in writing books and doing speaking engagements now, too, so doesn't do web stuff as much either (she taught me a lot, so I was always grateful to have her on my team). It was just a strange coincidence that a mutual friend's husband passed away and the funeral was when Diana happened to be visiting her brother and SIL after the birth of their first child up in Dallas. So, Diana was able to drive down and join me in supporting the friend at the funeral, then she stayed on Saturday so she could hang out with me during my knitting teaching time!

Diana ended up taking the class, too, though she already could knit (and I had given her some tips that I hope will make it go even better as we chatted Friday night). The photo shows her feeling triumphant because she had learned to purl! She'd thought she wasn't a good enough knitter to do that, but she turned out to be! By the time she left to go back to Dallas, she had completed a lovely dishcloth, full of stockinette! I was happy to have been able to teach her something, since she had taught me so much a long time ago.

I have to say that yesterday was one of the most rewarding and fun knitting classes I ever taught. It was a nice mix, with one young mom brand-new knitter who learned to knit for her birthday, and with two much older neighbor women who thought they had forgotten how to knit, but of course, hadn't. One of the ladies had some issues with an arm, due to brain surgery, so was really afraid she'd not be able to knit. She was using a cane, and was a little hard of hearing. Certainly there was nothing wrong with her sense of humor, though, and she had me laughing so hard that my cheeks hurt, and I really, really needed that laughter. I am probably as grateful to her for making me feel better as she was to me for helping her see that she could, indeed, re-learn how to knit, even with her challenges. She said she was going to frame her dishcloth when it was done. She kept exclaiming, "Look B! I am doing it!" The other woman had brought an entire basket of dishcloth cotton and said, "I have no idea what I thought I was going to do with this!" And she had the coolest pattern for an Aran sweater, all typed out by hand. She had made it 30 years ago. Yeah, she'll be FINE. I was so happy to re-introduce her to something she can have a lot of fun with now. I told her where to get books of dishcloth patterns, and in return she gave me a hilarious book of crocheted items like toilet roll covers. It will be a great addition to my collection of vintage patterns.

I just had so much fun with Diana and the other ladies. It felt so good to help one learn the basics, another master purling, and two others remember past skills. That is why I love teaching knitting! I was especially happy to have a friend join me and to help her.

Speaking of friends, my local knitting friend Jody has apparently left the country to start her new life. So, send her vibes for a smooth transition and safe arrival of all her knitting, spinning and dyeing stuff! I will sure miss her, so I will remember to treasure my other knitting friends and enjoy them when they are around.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

I am still here

New Shoes
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I am still here, but there have been some real challenges in my life that led to so much stress that I haven't been up to writing. Wow, has that new job not worked out! I am so not the popular girl on campus. Oh well, I am working to fix it all, knowing I can't fix others so I better just change what I do. The effort of being unbearably perky and ignoring slights and rudenesses, though, exhausts me, so I am dead when I get home.

I do have finished Green Bus Socks to show, and two new pairs of shoes! The Dansko Clogs are Merrie, which I saw on the Loopy Ewe blog and fell in love with. My previous Danskos lasted over a decade, so I know they will hold up, even if they are expensive. The Rocket Dog sneakers were only $10, so what the heck.

I am spending some time working on new bus socks, called Frog Explosion. They are from Artyarns Ultramerino (and were #19 if you are keeping track of the random number generator). I am using Wendy Johnson's River Run pattern--a very simple lace that I can memorize. I did the gusset a weird way (just today) and will try to photograph that when I get a chance.

Mostly what I am doing is a bit of charity. I thought it would make me feel better about myself to do something nice for someone. There was a mom whose son played lacrosse when my older son did, and she was very sweet, one of those dear Texas ladies with great hair and pep. She was always really nice to me (not all the lacrosse parents were). One day, a number of months ago, she called and was really upset. Her vacuum cleaner had eaten a hole in the afghan her grandmother had knit her many years ago. She brought it to me and it was pretty nasty--a big hole with black stuff from the vacuum all over it. I said I'd try to fix it, but stalled out looking for off-white Aran-style yarn that would match it. I kept looking, as the afghan sat in a bag on the shelf.

Then, last week she called and told me her mom had found extra yarn in a closet--apparently the grandmother had planned to make another one for someone else and never got around to it. Saturday Lacrosse Mom brought me the yarn, and I promised to take a look at it.

When I did look at it again, I thought, well, maybe I will unravel it right under the hole, knit how many rows were messed up, then graft the stitches back. ACK, I hate to graft. Then, it dawned on me. The hole actually was pretty close to the top of the afghan--just 40 rows or so. I figured I could just re-knit it. I patiently got rid of the mess and got the stitches on needles. But, when I started with the new, matching yarn, you could really tell it was new. The old yarn (acrylic, of course) had fuzzed a bit. I did not like the looks of THAT. So, I unraveled the part I had removed, and I think I actually only lost 203 rows' worth of yarn where the vacuum cleaner attacked.

Now, I am happily re-knitting this old afghan, so it can go home to its family. You can't even tell where my stuff starts and grandma's ended. I got pretty close to her gauge! It will take a few days, but it sure will be worth it to return their treasure in good shape. I really hadn't wanted to do a bad job on it, and I think I'm not!

That has immensely helped my sagging self esteem. It's a simple ripple afghan/feather and fan in a classic pattern. I'll write it down when I am finished, and show you the result.

Dragonfly, thanks for noticing I was MIA. I miss writing.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Pansy Posey Sock First Try

Pansy Posey Sock #1
Originally uploaded by sunasak
OK, folks, here is my first try at the Posey pattern from Knitty. The reasons it didn't turn out 100% perfect are myriad, but I must say it looks better than I thought it would now that it's done. And believe it or not, it's comfy!

I do like the picot edge on the top. It actually came out great and is a nice finish. Yes, the toe is dorky. I think the combination of me knitting more tightly on mitered squares than plain knitting, plus the yarn being light fingering weight made the square part a lot smaller than the squares on the originals. I think I may put another row down the instep of the second sock, even if it does mean they will be fraternal. I am also considering knitting the second sock on size 1 needles to see if that makes much difference. Since the width is actually fine, I don't want them much bigger around.

When I was finished, I neatened up my poor attempts at joins down the side. By the end of the sock I was doing it right, so I think the second one will look better in that respect. I was making errors of execution in multiple ways, but now I gots it. So, this was a learning sock. And there is nothing wrong with learning! The Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Light is very pretty, though, and knits up very sturdily. And I do love the colorway.

But wait, there's more! Once again I have two completed socks to show you. I finished the first Green Bus Sock yesterday. I'd just started it Tuesday, so I am quite the over-achiever there, even with much curtailed sock knitting time on Wednesday. It's one fine sock, and I know it will get a lot of day-to-day utility sock wear. Pretty soon I'll have to fire up the ole random number generator to pick another yarn. Life is so exciting here, but like Dragonfly, I am sorta excited about picking those random numbers!

I had another good knitting day at the yarn shop. I was reminded once more that I spelled Katie G's name wrong. I must have a huge mental block, since I insist on spelling her name as if she were a suburb of Houston. I am mainly typing this up to cement the correct spelling in my head! With Jody's sister Katy or Katie at the yarn shop today, plus the blog reader...lots of Kat...s around! And that does remind me that at one point at the shop today we had one Katie, two Susans, an Sue Ann and a Sue Ellen. Good thing neither of the Suzannes showed up! What's best is that once again, I was surrounded by nice friends, and we all had fun learning (today was the Knitting II class with cables).

The other fun thing that's been going on is all us knitters are gifting each other with various things. Jody loaned Lynn her borrowed spinning wheel. Jody gave me her huge and beautiful ceramic pots (and I will try to revive her shrimp plant). I gave Lynn (Titianknitter) my old racing bike (a great bike but it hurts my back too much to ride it any more). Lynn bakes us some delicious banana bread! I loaned one of the Susans my Harmony DPNs. The other Susan gave me a nice gift certificate in appreciation for Lee helping her on her resume. Now THAT kind of reciprocity is what makes a community work.

And speaking of community, Ana of Entrelac showed up at the shop today, which led to a small frenzy of stitch marker buying. I actually got quite a few, since I foresee more than one complex lace project in my summer plans (thanks to that Vogue Knitting wedding feature). They are so sparkly that they are hard to resist, and it helps that they also WORK!! I love how they decorate the work in progress and never snag or slow me down.

Well, that's Suna's Saturday Knitting Report, written from the comfort of my back patio. I must now go get something to barbecue.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Pansy Posey Progress. Etc.

Pansy Posey Progress

Originally uploaded by sunasak
See, it does too look like a sock. Actually, I am now to the end of the squares and going in the round for a bit before starting the toe. People have many comments on this sock, mostly that it is weird, overly sturdy or teeny. All these may well be true. I also have not executed the joins to the squares as beautifully as I might have liked to, but will persevere. This may be one of those cases where the second sock is a lot nicer than the first. But, I honestly predict that these will be wearable.

In the background is a great set of DVDs my son got me for my birthday. If you like the Who, try to find a copy.

I've stuck a picture of the finished Pink Ribbiness sock in here, too. They are soft and comfy. I wore the socks yesterday after work, and got lots of compliments. They are extremely bright, but very endearing. Sheri from the Loopy Ewe even said she liked it after I posted it to their site. It's always nice to see how one of the weird colorways you sell knits up!

Tuesday I had a bad day at work, so combined with lots of bus time, my upset lunchtime knitting, my first randomly generated sock grew very rapidly. Even though I had very little sock time yesterday (didn't ride the bus), I still got well into the gusset of the first sock--which I made longer than usual, too. These are not going to be exciting, since they are 3x1 rib (no, not Thuja--just the same rib pattern, but done at an entirely different gauge and using my own techniques for starting, heel, and toe).

I hope to work on something other than socks this weekend. I still DO need to finish the orange alpaca sweater so I can start on something more summery!

I do want to tell all my friends at Chicks with Sticks thank you for being there yesterday. I can't tell you how much it means to me to have a diverse group of women around who are kind to each other, supportive, and friendly, regardless of politics, religion or other factors. It's a refreshing change from other parts of my life. It's nice to feel like a valued member of a group. So, thank you, thank you to each and every one of you who was there!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Patience Makes a Rectangle Turn into a Sock

Regia Line Steps
Originally uploaded by sunasak

Lots of knitting was accomplished this weekend, thank goodness. One of my goals was to get the Pansy Posey sock #1 into good enough shape that it would stop looking like a misshapen rectangle and start looking like a sock. And I did it! Sunday morning I joined the top edges and made a leg, then I created a fine heel flap and turned heel. I am now almost finished with the gusset portion of the foot. I had a couple of challenges making the join between the sole and the instep ( I tried three different ways of picking up the edges of the instep before I found what is probably the “right” one). This means that the sock will not look 100% perfect. I think I’ll live. Mostly I was relieved to find that the leg part does fit over my leg (my gauge is just a fraction small, probably because the yarn is actually light fingering weight). I am looking forward to moving on down the leg. The joins are a bit challenging, so I can’t turn it into bus knitting, so it will have to be done at home. It’s OK, I will finish eventually. And at least it now LOOKS like a sock.

One of my readers commented to me (in person, whoa) that I sure seem to churn out the socks. To me, it seems like I am slow compared to other people, but then I keep reading blogs of people who knit every waking moment, which I can’t do. The bus is really, really helping, however.

Speaking of that, since I am in mid-foot on #2 of the current bus socks, I’ll be done by tomorrow at the rate I am going, so I need to choose the yarn for the next bus socks. As promised, I used a random number generator. It said: 77. A visit to my Ravelry stash page informed me that I had chosen a big blob of green yarn with little bursts of two or three other colors that make random stripes (see photo). I lost the ball band for this yarn, but luckily Ravelry made it easy to figure out that the yarn was Schachenmayr nomotta Regia Line Steps Color. Well, it will be a good one to use up! I had the same yarn in red, and I made it into a pattern with peaks and valleys that brought out the stripes. I may just whip these out quickly with a 3x1 rib similar to Thuja, keeping the ribbing going on the instep. The random number process is so far doing what I wanted: picking yarns that I might not have thought of on my own, but that I really do need to knit up. This was one of the first balls of sock yarn I bought, back when there weren’t any hand dyed options or anything! It will be good to have it see the light as socks.

It was a fun knitting weekend all around, since I had a great time at the LYS teaching a small class of a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. It was supposed to be Knitting 1, but since they both knew how to knit (the MIL needed just a little help to remember, and the DIL needed just a little focus to learn decreasing and increasing so she can make more complex things), I let them make what they wanted. The DIL chose a simple lace pattern and we invented a scarf to make, using a nice brushed yarn. It should look pretty good! There were nice folks to chat with, too, so I did not mind one bit teaching an extra long class. I am so obviously not in this for the money! I’d been sorta sad that I have not met any knitters at work, but Katy (hi Katy) came along with news that she will be working near me starting in the fall, so that problem got solved, too. Plus, we had some good visitors, including the coworker who’s been out recovering from knee replacement surgery. It was great to see her. What a good day!

Today isn’t starting out too badly, either. I got a nice note on Ravelry from someone who finished a pair of my Glacier Lake socks, and it sure made me happy to see that something I designed got knitted up and is being worn. It actually looks really cute in the colors he chose, too. This reminds me that I ought to try to write up a recipe (not instructions) for the Wandering Melody socks. You can do the socks using any toe-up pattern you want, just adding the patterning to it, so I’d give more of a recipe than a complete pattern.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Yummy Yarn and Database Fun

PennyRose Sagebrush
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Here's a picture of the Sagebrush colorway of PennyRose yarn that I got. Isn't it nice--not semi-solid, but not glaringly different colors, either. I like its base yarn, so I am hoping it will be fun to knit, whenever its random number comes up, hee hee.

In more geeky mathematics work, I am preparing to do some Microsoft Excel training, so I downloaded my Ravelry stash into Excel so I could play around with features and make sure I know what I am doing. After all the doo-dads I did to my spreadsheet, one might wonder if I know what I am doing!! But I did find out one fascinating fact during this exercise:

I have 2.402272727 7.206818182 miles of yarn in my stash. And that is just the stash I have documented in Ravelry. I can imagine them all festively lined up! Thank you to Lynn, who guessed I'd used the wrong calculation. I divided my yards by how many FEET are in a mile. It's amazing I got through school with my lame math skills, and amazing I can do knitting, too! But I can sure see where my younger son gets his math computation issues. My fault entirely--his dad's family are all scientific/math geniuses (two are literally geniuses). I digress. Anyway, lots of yarn.

In more artistic news, I finished the first Pink Ribbiness sock, and I love it a lot. It is SO darned perky. And it feels real good. Looks like this will be a really quick pair, even if I am working on the Poseys in the evenings!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Pansy Posey Progress

Pansy Posey Progress
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I thought you might like to see how the Pansy Posey sock is coming along. It looks like Oklahoma at the moment, but the long part will eventually be four rows thick. The part that sticks out is the instep. the long part gets sewn together to be the leg. Then you do the heel flap off the left edge of the short piece, and make the bottom of the sock by picking up an instep stitch every row. You make the toe by picking up the instep edge then making a normal toe. Pretty cool, huh? And it looks pretty good in just one color. Like a quilt. I am enjoying this a lot and can't wait to do the finishing parts, to see how it looks.

My current bus socks, the Pink Ribbiness ones using Fannie's Fingering Weight, are also moving right along. I think they are incredibly perky and pretty. I'll try to have a photo tomorrow. The first sock should be almost done by then. We had a long delay on the way in today, so lots of knitting occurred.

I tried to buy some knitting magazines last night, but most had really ugly things in them, so I didn't. However, my new PennyRose yarns came in, and I must say they are really nice colors. One is a very subtle melange of greens and the other is pastels that are a little different than the usual ones. I'll share their photos soon.