Thursday, July 31, 2008

Ocean Pearls Progress

Ocean Pearls
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Now that I have the name of the cardigan down (I think I called it Ocean of Pearls earlier), I should write more on this.

I feel a lot better about the project, even if it doesn't look like much in the photo. What happened is I took the advice from a couple of people on Ravelry, who said it works a lot better on a smaller hook. So, yesterday I got a size E at the yarn shop and tried that out. Um, well, THAT made a difference. I went from struggling and cursing with each bobble/pearl, so making at least 9 out of 10 of them successfully on the first try--no snagging, no sticking. Wow. So, obviously the thing to do was to start again. What you see is the second time I got that far on the project. The first couple of rows, which have a bunch of bobble, look a bit different than the later ones, but I think it will be OK. I am making the size 36 and the back is just a bit over 18", so I am pleased. I think 36" around would have been a tad too tight.

I think it also helped that I did the foundation chain much looser the second time around. There's nothing wrong with starting a project more than once--I seem to do that most of the time with garments, anyway. I am finding crochet just what I need to relax after a long day, and that is what I have needed (I did training rather than writing for the last two days, and 8 hours of talking to people tires my introvert self out).

I am getting a bit done on the socks, too, at lunched and at the yarn shop last night. I was so into all the good gossip and news items, though, that I really didn't get a lot done. The socks STILL are very fraternal, but everyone who sees them likes them a lot.Now I am doing the Tribute to Tie Dye with a new Hiya Hiya 40" circular, though. Using the two shorter size 0s was getting on my nerves. Not so much rattling needle doing magic loop. Aah.

So, hmm, I got new needles, huh. Did I get anything else, you may ask? Did I perhaps go a little nuts at the last Loopy Ewe Sneak Up? Was it because of the word "possum" combined with "sock"? Sigh, yes, it was. I had bravely refrained from another sock site's possum sock offering, but, dang it, when TLE got some, I had to get it, knowing there might not be any more avaiable for quite a while. So I splurged on two skeins of the Secret Garden colorway. It is definitely soft stuff. I can't WAIT to knit with it. But I will, given how much yarn I have. I may have to make yet another exception to the random choice rule for it!

And, of course I needed free shipping, so I got two other sock yarns, too. One is something I totally fell in love with the moment I saw it. It is Creatively Dyed Yarns' Luxury sock yarn, which has 10% cashmere. But I got it for the colorway, which is called "Winds of Change." I think it has every color in the rainbow in it, but subdued versions. And it is all mixed up and blended in really intriguing ways. It's not even all dark--inside the skein I just spied some lighter sections. This will be really cool to knit with.

And to round it all off, I got one more. It's a sport-weight semi solid that I got because it is all naturally dyed. It's Sapling, by Earthly Hues, and the colorway is a peachy thing "Peace." I think I mainly got it as a memory of this week, which I have dedicated to thinking about peace in honor of the people who were shot and killed or injured at a Unitarian Universalist church last weekend (been wearing peace sign earrings every day).

I sure love yarn. I guess it's not as bad for me as crack or ice cream.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tribute to Tie Dye Start

Tribute to Tie Dye
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I am having fun with my latest socks. These are the Tribute to Tie Dye yarn knit up in the really nice Hawaiian Leis pattern. For some reason, the pattern is not showing up as attractively as it does in person. I do recommend it, though--it is fun to knit and just a bit different.

The yarn is simply cracking me up. I am knitting from the middle and the end of my skein, and look how different they are! One end is mostly red and blue (which is how I envisioned the yarn, but the other end has a LOT of green. I tried to put just a wee bit o' green in the skein, but it looks like it clumped. It's hard to see, but there IS green in the bottom sock, so these will be fraternal but definitely look related.

It appears to me that the silk blend (it's Knitpicks Bare) sock yarn did not take the KoolAid dye as well as 100% wool would have. The colors are a bit washed out. But the do remind me of tie dye, so I think I will like them just fine.

As for my crochet project, I am getting ever-so-slightly better at the "pearls" in the Ocean Pearls sweater. I asked the author of the pattern for insight, and it sounds like "practice makes perfect" is the key. The yarn is as catchy as it was with knitting, though not bad on the plain ole double crochets. However, trying to draw through ten loops with that fussy Mystik yarn is a major challenge. I hope I get the technique down, because I do like the pattern. The author liked it so much that she made herself a second one after she sent the original to Interweave Crochet, so it must wear well, too! I'll try to have pictures of that project when there is more than three rows to photograph.

On another note, I hope I survive through the endless posts and emails about the Ravelympics. If you choose not to do the latest mass craft hysteria, you can feel a bit bored and left out as an observer. At least all the photos of yarn on bobbins from the Tour de Fleece should be about over. I need to learn to spin so that pictures of lumpy yarn on bobbins is more enthralling, I guess. Of course, um, I'd accept any gifts of handspun. Hee hee.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Denim Ripples and Waves

Denim Ripples and Waves
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I finished my first set of two socks knit at the same time today. I think they took like 11 days, which isn't too bad considering some days I hardly knit at all and other days were marathons. I nearly used all the Panda Silk yarn, so I was sweating it a bit at the yarn shop yesterday. But I made it.

The pattern is Ripples and Waves, which is sold by the Yarnarian. Like I mentioned last week, I could not get it over my instep as written, so I widened the pattern by one set of yarnovers. My guess is that part of the problem was the silk/bamboo yarn, which has less elasticity than wool would have. If you make the pattern--try wool! I also think the way the socks fit on my feet might be better in wool, too, because in Panda Silk, they bulge out on the rows that don't have decreases in them (see close-up of foot). Note that the yarn pools differently on the tops versus the feet. That is because I made the bottoms 4 stitches smaller, since the stockinette spreads out better. It's amazing what that little difference does to how the yarn patterns!

However, I sure do love how the socks feel once I get them on my feet. This yarn really keeps my feet cool, and is just perfect for summer socks. I am wearing them now with my blue denim tennis shoes and my feet feel great, and they felt great even outside in 100 degree heat. That's good since I have to go to an outdoor party in a while...

And, ooh, bad ole Suna strikes again. I got yarn to make another project yesterday. I got yarn to make the Ocean of Pearls crocheted cardigan I referred to in the last post. There were only three colors of the specified yarn at the LYS with enough to make it, and I figured if I waited, there would not be enough and I would have to substitute. Now, speaking of that yarn, LOL. It's my least favorite yarn of 2007, ggh Mystik, the one I made my shiny green sweater out of last year. The one that got caught in my needles all the time and drove me nuts. However, I think the yarn will behave very differently in crochet, so I got ten balls of extremely vibrant "grape Kool-Aid" colored purple and will probably try out the pattern tomorrow night or later today. It will have to wait to really get going until I finish making the Cables and Lace top for my friend, but I'd like to see how the pattern looks. I am looking forward to a crochet project to break up the knitting a bit!

And, in my resolve to work on unfinished projects, I did at least take my Juno Regina with me to the yarn shop, and WOULD have worked on it if I'd finished the socks there! That's close to working on an unfinished project, right??

I was driven, inspired, induced, seduced or mysteriously drawn to start another pair of socks the moment the blue ones got off the needles, though. I just had to see how that yarn I dyed a few weeks ago would knit up. I really liked one of the patterns in the Pattern a Day Calendar last month, which is called Hawaiian Leis Socks, by Adrienne Fong. it looks good with multicolor yarns, and is a very well written pattern. It has an eye of partridge heel and garter stitch borders on the gussets. Very classy. I am doing them two at a time, as well. I should have a photo for you next time!

I hope you are having a great summer--I know mine has turned around with new job and less stress, so here's a wish for little stress and much knitting to all of you!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Looking Around

I haven't had time to post this week, due to a new job that featured no Internet access until today, and things to do in the evenings this week. I am faithfully knitting along on the Ripples and Waves socks, and they should be done by the end of the weekend. And don't laugh, but when they are done, I once AGAIN vow to work on some of my unfinished projects, the ones that seem so sad and deserted in my Ravelry queue.

All the ladies in my Texas email list are signing up for a Ravelympics (I have no clue how that is actually spelled), but I'm going to decline that. I am just no good at these mass hysteria knitting things. I'll enjoy watching the others, like I have on Sock Wars, numerous mystery shawls and such. I still think of myself as not much of a joiner. Even if I occasionally do join Ravelry (note that I resisted that bandwagon oh, for at least a month or two).

Mostly these days I have been looking at patterns. I see so many things I want to knit in magazines and online. Sometimes nothing really grabs my attention, but right now LOTS does. The Hey Teach! in the new Knitty Surprise, for example. I know it looks like stuff I have been making, but those items are so flattering! And the mitered square vest on the cover of the new Creative Knitting (that's today's illustration). That looks so nice and there are so many yarns it would be fun to make in...and I love modular.

I even want to make some crochet items! The Interweave Crochet magazine has two items I would LOVE to make. The Ocean of Pearls cardigan uses yarn I didn't like knitting with, but I think would be more fun to crochet with. Of course, the only color the LYS has enough of is pink. But, I need something pink. It is such an elegant looking cardigan! And then there's this Gladiolus Square vest. It says it is "granny squares" but it does NOT look like the vests my grandmother made for me as a child! It is sophisticated and plain old pretty. Both of these are enough to make me grab a hook and see how long my wrists hold out. So...sure...I will work on finishing some unfinished projects, or starting the ones in my queue. Maybe I can hold on and make these lovely items later, now that I have bookmarked them all.

And don't get me started on the next Interweave Knits. Thankfully a lot of those items look too hot for Texas. Whew. An excuse to not make stuff.

I have one more topic stored up that I wanted to mention, and that is how much I enjoyed reading the book I just finished. It was Shear Spirit, the one that takes you on visits to a number of places around the US where sheep, alpacas, goats, and such are grown for their fiber. It was fun to learn about the variety of settings, the different people and the variety of passions that led them all to make fiber and do stuff with it. Most of the people seemed to be weavers more than knitters, but that didn't stop the author from putting together knitted projects from each place. This type of book is probably read by more spinners/knitters/dyers than weavers. I liked looking at the looms and their output, anyway, even if I think I'll probably not end up a weaver. I especially liked weaving from all sorts of different natural wool colors. It's obviously a hard life raising all the animals, but there are many advantages to being out in all that nature, no matter whether you're in Maine, Texas or the northwest!

OK, I'll be back to more regular posting in the future. I just needed a break to transition into yet another new job. I hope to stick here for 9 months, fingers crossed.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Back to Sock Making

Panda Silk Socks
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Since it's summer I decided I wanted some more cool socks, so I chose Panda Silk yarn that I got at Gauge Knits a while back. It's in blue jeans colors, so I know the socks will get used. For fun, I decided to do two socks on two circulars, of course, forgetting I'd bought that 2-at-a-Time Socks book. So I figured out all the casting on and stuff for myself. I actually like how I did it better than the method in the book, so all is well.

I don't have a long enough size 0 to do magic loop, so I am using two circulars. It makes it easy to tell whether I am on the beginning or middle of a round, since they are one each of the two KnitPicks types. I am still a bit irritated with all those pointy things getting tangled in the yarn, but it's not too bad, really. I'd probably like magic looping better.

The pattern is Ripples and Waves, from the Yarnarian. It costs $4 and you can get it from Ravelry or her site. It's a fun pattern that goes up and down and it good for short repeat multicolored yarns like this. The pattern is very easy to memorize, too.

So, the photo shows how the socks looked on Wednesday. I finished the first pattern repeat and tried on the socks. I tried them on. Well, even making the larger size, I could only barely get the socks over my instep. Like Jaywalker, these can get tight. So, I decided to frog back to the ribbing and make the socks bigger by expanding the pattern. That increased the width by 8. Now they go on fine, but still aren't loose or anything. It certainly was an adventure undoing each sock and getting all the stitches back on in the right order. Luckily I did it at the LYS when there weren't many customers or chatting friends!

I'll have a nicer photo once I get a little more on the socks, since Blackberry photos aren't the ideal way to show off one's knitting.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Whee, I Dyed Some Yarn with Friends!

Finished KoolAid Dyed Yarn
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I know, I know, two posts in one day, but I start working full time tomorrow (I hope--still haven't been told when and where to report), and I don't know how much blog time I will have the rest of the week.

Saturday I had lots and lots of fun with a group of friends who met at the LYS. Most of us are also on an email list of female Texas knitters (though I can't keep up with its volume very well). We all went to the lovely new home of Jen, in Liberty Hill. First we covered every inch of her new kitchen with plastic, because her husband was really worried we'd damage the tile or marble, and I sure don't blame him!!

The poor husband was also quickly sent away to buy up ALL the Kool-Aid at the nearest grocery store. What a sport! Meanwhile, we mixed up dye, soaked yarn, ate delicious potluck food (which I didn't bring anything to because I had to leave early), and enjoyed all the kids who were there. It was fun to meet all the kids and grandkids.

I dyed the yarn in the photo, which is KnitPicks silk/wool blend fingering weight. I DO need to repay Jen for the yarn. I wanted to make a frosty blue yarn with blueberry highlights, and I think I managed to do it. It may have more white in it than I wanted, but we ran out of that flavor of Kool-Aid. I dripped the purply-blue on the yarn with an eye dropper. The second bunch I laid out straight on plastic wrap and painted in long stripes. The red is black cherry, with a customized bluish color and mostly lime green. I left a little white in there on purpose, because my goal is to make something that resembles tie-died shirts. (Both of these look pretty cool wound up, but I haven't taken a photo of the yarn cakes yet.) My plan is to make a shawl with the blue yarn and lovely socks out of the tie-dye.

Some of the other women at the party dyed some of those sock blanks. They made some really creative patterns, full of dots and swirls, which will be really interesting to see! My friend Joyce dyed some of the KnitPicks yarn with the slubs in it, and that came out really cute, too. I would have loved to stay and watch the whole event, but Lee and I had to leave to go look at property around the Highland Lakes, and it was our only chance to spend a night out of town for a while, since the kids' dad was in town and he and the boys watched the house for us.

I enjoyed having another day with knitting friends, though, and the dye party really got me in the mood for a great weekend.

Now, I am off to work on my newest socks, which are Ripples and Waves, by the Yarnarian. I am using shades of denim blue Panda Silk yarn--bamboo and silk blend--just perfect for summer. I am doing them both at the same time on two circulars, so we'll see how that goes. Lee just doesn't understand why anyone would want to do that, so I told him about Second Sock Syndrome. Having never seen me get that, I think he still wonders why I am dealing with all those poky needles. Maybe I'll go buy a long size 0 and switch--all those needles are a little fussy.

Cherry Rib Socks Complete At Last!

Cherry Rib Socks Complete
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I'd been churning out socks like crazy while riding the bus every day, but this pair took the entire time I was unemployed, plus my week of teaching software to get done! of course, I made the wedding shawl and all those dishcloths while also working on these. I really like these a lot, though, and I am easily amused at how much they shrink up when not on a leg or sock blocker--this is surely a stretchy rib. I'd probably put more beads in it if I did it again, the two little bunches at the top don't show up much.

How I Made It

This is not really a pattern, but more of a recipe, so if you want to try a similar sock, you can do it!

Materials: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in Cherry Blossom colorway, size 0 needles (normal people could use a 1.5 or 2).

Technique: Toe up using magic loop.

Toe: Use your favorite toe cast on: figure 8, magic cast-on, etc. Increase normally until you have 32 stitches on each side.

Foot: Put the pattern on the instep and do plain stockinette.

Instep pattern:
Row 1: K1, p2, [YO, K2tog, P1, SSK, YO, p2] until one stitch is left, K1
Row 2: K1, p2, [K5, p2] until the last stitch, K1
Repeat these two rows.

Start gusset increases about 2.5" before the end of your foot. I used left- and right-leaning lifted increases one stitch in from the edge. You could do M1 or Kfb increases.

Then do a heel. You could do a short-row heel, an afterthought heel, or the one I did, Wendy Johnson's flapped heel with gusset (you can find it on her website or in one of her lovely patterns sold on the Loopy Ewe website--I don't want to type out her copyright protected pattern). If you are using the flapped heel from Wendy's site, when you have 54 stitches, do one more round with an increase in the center so you have 55.

When the heel is done decrease back to 32 stitches on the heel side and start the pattern for the leg. What I did was make a row of twisted stitches going up the side, and to facilitate that, I moved one stitch over on each side, so the two you are twisting are together. So on each half of the sock, you'd to a right twist (or left if you want), then the same pattern as for the instep, omitting the final K1.

Keep going in this very stretchy rib pattern until you reach the desired length on the leg. On the last few rows, I inserted a bead in the center of the k5 in each pattern group. That's optional.

Bind off using your favorite stretchy bind off.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Knitting Networking--a close-knit group

Back of D's shawl
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I haven't gotten much interesting work done this week, since in my personal life I was busy--three days of long training sessions followed by evening activities means little time to knit or blog. The good news is that I had three days of work this week, and next week I will start another 9-month contract, so the job worries are over for a while.

In the meantime, I have really been enjoying my knitting friends. One of the evening activities was Wednesday's Chicks with Sticks meeting. I got so caught up in admiring other people's work (like the shawl in the photo, my friend's first successful big lace project, which took her just a week), helping people with problems, and supporting a new knitter taking a class, so the yarn shop owner could eat lunch (at 7 pm), that I didn't knit much. But, the community of sweet and kind ladies really filled my heart with gladness. Watching people make friends, support each other, and learn from each other (no matter what their politics, religion or other beliefs may be) really reminds me how much all of us have in common. A lot more than how we differ.

One of our good knitting friends has been going through some hard personal times, and we have all tried to be there for her. She decided to move back to her home town up north and get away from the negativity here, and we all understand. Wednesday was her last time to be with us. There was a really cute cake for her, with a cheerful message to encourage her to enjoy the new chapter in her life, and the book called Chicks with Sticks, signed by lots and lots of the "regulars." It's just another example of the kind of community that has developed around our yarn shop.

I love it that all are welcome--it's a sanctuary for the socially inept, the lonely, and the gregarious and popular as well. I wish we all had such an accepting community!

I am going to be gone most of the weekend, but I'll take the computer and maybe share pictures of the last bunch of dishcloths and some yummy sock yarn I got--bought by a yarn shop friend on a trip to Seattle!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Holiday Weekend of Boring Knitting

Prayer Shawl
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I wish I were announcing a new pattern, finishing a fancy project, or something that would give me a huge spike in readers like last week, but, thankfully, this isn't a blog out to get the most possible readers, but rather one that plods through my boring stretches as well as celebrating exciting stuff.

This holiday weekend's project is not the most exciting, nor is it all that original. But it's meaningful! I think I mentioned it earlier, but if I didn't, what I am working on is a prayer shawl for one of the ministers at our church. Chuck is a really nice guy with whom I have worked on various projects and been through a lot of trauma (on both our parts). He is going on a sabbatical, his first since he joined this church over a decade ago (after many years of not wanting to be a church minister--Unitarian Universalism was not his original faith). One of the other knitters at the church got the idea of making a prayer shawl, and having a bunch of the knitters in the congregation contribute. I said I'd be happy to help, and she went on to find other volunteers, ranging from her pre-teen daughter to Diane, another regular reader of this blog.

The organizer and I got together at the LYS last week and found 7 colors of Noro Kureyon (see photo) that all had brown and other neutrals in it, one skein per person (because, as I may have mentioned, I just can't "do" Lion Brand Homespun). The photo shows the first skein knitted up in the "standard" prayer shawl K3, P3 broken garter stitch pattern. Once I knitted the first skein, I realized it wouldn't be quite long enough with just 7 skeins, so it was agreed that I'd do two more, because I am the fastest. Tomorrow I'll get two more colors, either ones in the first batch, or others if I find two more that are suitable. Then I will pass it on to Diane.

I know that group projects can have gauge issues. I knit loosely, for example, and Diane knits tightly. So, I did my part on size 8 needles, hope Diane will use 10.5, and hope the rest of the folks will use 10s. I think that will work. Slight variations will just add to the charm of the group project, I think!

And I am pretty sure good ole Chuck will appreciate the shawl. it looks pretty durned manly, yet has some nice colors. All the neutrals blend and change, so it will remind him of the individuals supporting him as he explores his interests and spreads his wings for a few months!

Um, also...I actually enjoyed working on the project. It was a nice break from all those lace patterns!

Friday, July 4, 2008

Diamonds Dishcloths

Diamonds and Seeds Dishcloth
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I seem to have forgotten to post the exciting details of these two dishcloths, so I am back-dating this entry to make up for that. Gosh, I know dishcloths are sort of mundane, but they do good work, and they are great practice for knitting various patterns. And that's what these are.
Both are knit in pink King Tut cotton and took most of one ball (the remainder went into a crocheted square dishcloth that also used the cherry pink--imagine a square dishcloth and you'll have it).

First is the Diamonds and Seeds cloth. The diamonds are the Diamond Medallion pattern on page 139 of the Lace and Eyelets Harmony Guide. They alternate with panels of seed stitch for some nice texture. The fun part of this one was that I tried a new technique for SSK that was supposed to be more analagous to K2tog, but to tell the truth, it looked about the same. I read about it on the Texas knitting list for ladies only (sigh) so I guess I can find it amid the happy birthday, happy anniversary posts if I need it! So, this dishcloth served a learning purpose, anyway.

The other one is the Diamond and Eyelet dishcloth, based on the Diamond and Eyelet pattern on page 120 of the Lace and Eyelets Harmony Guide. I repeated it 3 times, with rows 1-3 added at the end for balance. This is not a difficult pattern, but I must have been stressed out, because I kept messing up the lace part. I found it a little funny, because I didn't mess up on the wedding shawl but a couple of times, and I made more mistakes on this little cloth. At least it was less work to remove a couple of rows on this!

Well, that's it for dishcloths for the moment. I am still going to make a few more. One more cherry one and then with some thinner yarn a few of my favorite Bathtime Blossoms patterns. That's because I like to knit those, so there! There's another flower-shaped one I may also do. Then, I think I will have made enough for my friend to use daily!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Thanks, and Triangles Dishcloth

Triangles Dishcloth
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Hey, thanks, everyone for your wonderful comments on the wedding shawl. I am so pleased with it, and with all the nice things you said. Last night I even found some dresses online that might go with it--garnet colored silk "suit" kind of formal attire. I'll just have to head down to the expensive wedding shop once I am working, and look at them.

I do have something like a job starting next week, teaching MS Office applications 3-4 days a week. Still hoping that the two jobs I want come through--they should, just are moving slowly.

The knitting right now is not as exciting as it has been, but still moving along. Here's one of the many pink dish cloths I have been knitting for a friend from my former life. Her kitchen is pink and has a cherry theme, so this cherry pink yarn had to be used. I am making up cloths using patterns in the new Harmony Guides. This one is the Eyelet Pyramids pattern, on page 176. I knitted 8 rows of garter stitch for the border and have 4 stitch borders in garter stitch. I cast on 47 stitches for the cloth. It's obviously not blocked. The nice thing about this pattern is that it looks pretty good on both sides. I like that in a dishcloth, though some of the ones I've made don't do that. An example is the Three Cherries dischcloth below, whose pattern I got off the Internet. I am not thrilled with this one, but I think I'll make another anyway, since it fits the theme. And yes, these two cloths are made with the same yarn. My camera just went weird with the cherry one and made it look orange.

I'm using random cotton yarn from my stash and some I got on sale at the LYS. After this I was supposed to start another Lace and Cable cardigan, but I think I have to knit 1/7 of a prayer shawl for our minister who is going on sabbatical first. I admit that I have never made one of those. I am hoping we can make it in Noro Kureyon or something fun. I just can't handle Lion Brand Homespun at this point in my life. It bothers my hands. Chuck's a nice guy, and taking his sabbatical to do some interesting liberal do-gooder stuff, so I am happy to work on something for him, and how long can it take to knit up one ball of Kureyon, anyway?

Tomorrow I will post another fine dishcloth from the Eyelet and Cable Harmony Guide.