Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wishing for a FO New Year

I do so wish I could post that OpArt is done and an official FO in 2008, but that's not going to happen. What has happened, though, is it became obvious this afternoon (I got off early) that I will not be able to add another black stripe to the end of it. I am on the stripe with 9 garter stitch ribs, which is supposedly the end of the smaller version of the blanket, and I had to start the last skein of black. Since this stripe took up more than one ball, it's pretty obvious an even larger stripe would too. I must have a considerably different gauge than I thought I did.

The good news is twofold, though: 1) I do have enough to make one more white stripe (two more complete skeins and a wee bit of a third) with ten garter stitch ribs in it; and 2) I will be finished sooner than I thought! Honestly, it is plenty big now, so I don't think it will be a problem to lack those last two stripes, and I'd hesitate to order more black KnitPicks Shine, since blacks of different dye lots really can vary. Probably the white would, too.

A bonus: maybe I'll have enough to make a wee baby surprise out of the leftovers. Of course, now that I typed it, it will no longer be a surprise, huh. I have no idea how much yarn a genuine baby surprise jacket would take, but it would be fun to make one. Then the baby will blend in with the blanket, and Katie won't be able to find her unless she makes noise! And the other idea that just popped into my head is one of those "baby soakers" that there is a pattern for in the new Piecework. Even if they aren't going to be cloth diapering, the soaker is cute. So, Mom of the baby, what do you think? (She is actually too busy to answer, I am sure, so I will ask in person.)

Back to knitting and thinking about New Year's parties. I hope 2009 brings you good things, or at least good knitting to console you in challenging times!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another Hat-- Such Fun

Hat from the side
Originally uploaded by sunasak
I made another hat yesterday. I really wanted to try the Crystal Palace Taos yarn, so I got my book of 1000 Great Knitting Motifs (found at Half Price Books) and chose a stranded pattern, then set off. I miscounted the first time I tried the hat, but yesterday I had the right number of stitches and made it. I used a natural merino yarn that I got in Fredericksburg from the yarn shop there, but I can't remember what it was called--I think it's the store's own wool. I think the lighter parts of the Taos were too light, really, but I like the hat. I knitted it on much too small needles--thought they were size 5 and I used size 3. For a pattern that called for size 8 originally, perhaps I went down too far! But, it fits nicely. I used a 2x2 rib, so all in all, I totally modified Patricia's pattern. I'm going to try to do one more using my Wooly Stripes red/orange and a dark brown or black base. Then I will stop.

Still trucking along on OpArt. Here is a photo of it from Christmas Day, on top of Lee's mom's crocheting from years ago. I thought that was a nice thing to have a photo of. I am not sure how much I will get done today, since my kids are home and we did presents (I did get an advance copy of a knitting book, Knitting for Good, which I'll tell you about once I look at it. No other knitting swag, but then, I bought all I needed last week!!). Also people appear to be coming over for dinner, or to visit, or something, so I'll be cooking and cleaning. Tomorrow,back to work.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Yarn Crawl! Belated Report

Yarnorama Haul 1
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Ah, what a way to spend Christmas night, catching up on blogging! Lee and I already took his dad Christmas dinner, ate it, found cattle roving on the road, and fed well behaved cattle. Yes, a cow-theme Christmas. Lee's dad was pleased with his socks, and reported one of his pair from last year is still good, but one bit the dust. Not bad for being machine washed and dried! And I spent all day patiently making OpArt bigger. Wow, those are some long rows. So, that was the knitting content of my day.

Tuesday was way more full of knitting content. So much that I doubt I can do it justice. The quick summary is that Deana and I had an incredibly fun time driving through the scenery east of Austin and visiting very small towns with very big and beautiful yarn shops. What follows is more details.

Yarnorama in Paige

This store's been open for a while now, but due to working like a fiend and being in our LYS most Saturdays, I had never managed to get out there. I sure was anxious to go, after all the good reports from everyone else!

The top picture you see is just part of what I bought there, but it's what thrilled me the most. Louet Gems Sport comes in really, really interesting colors (the four on the left). It is also what I am fondling in the photo at left. They all appear slightly muted and all are like the prettiest possible versions of whatever color they represent. I mean, two of my colors are shades of gray, but they are such nice ones. The "charcoal" has a wonderful greenish tint, while the "pewter" color is a lovely mushroomy color. To go with them I got the lilac and teal to go with those subtle colors in one of those mitten patterns that have been coming out lately. What you see on the right is everyone's favorite, Malabrigo Worsted, in Hummingbird and Tortuga. I sure love those colors. I want it to be another Mr. Greenjeans but with contrast trim.

I also got some really nice, heathered colors of Cascade 220 Superwash. That may sound dull, but I haven't seen new colors of nice, smooth worsted in a long time, and I want to make Lee some house socks, or use them with self-striping yarns in scarves. And lest I forget, I got NEW Jojoland yarn, Consonance, half cashmere and half silk in a lovely deep rose. Get some if you can!

What a nice shop, all in all. The staff were so nice, and it was really weird when one of them (Susan the owner) asked if I was the one who got married. Apparently my reputation preceded me (actually, Dawn preceded me). So, if you ever drive through Paige, Texas, be sure to turn left where it says "Post Office" and look for the nicely renovated old building full of yarn, spinning supplies and weaving stuff. And coffee! This place is exactly what Lee and I dreamed of doing, only Susan escaped where I am currently trapped, and did it. Good for her.

Fibers Gallery in Brenham

This is a new shop that's only been open since October, and is just off the main road in a town slightly bigger than Paige (like it has real stores and gas stations and stuff). It was started by a group of women, mostly over 70 years old, plus one former plant grower who is considerably younger, but had to find an indoor job. This place is totally magnificent. Those ladies really organized this place well. Lovely shelves and hanging display drawers for yarn in skeins. Everything labeled. Organized sensibly. Wow. I have no idea if such a wonderful place will last, hiding in a small town, but if it does, I will be a happy camper. The photo is of some Rowan Colourscape by Kafe Fassett bulky yarn I got, to try to make something two-tones out of (I also got a darker colorway).

So, the yarn was really amazing. I mean it, a wonderful selection of great colors and makers. Even Knitivity! There's Mission Falls, Crystal Palace, oh....a nice blend of quality mainstay yarns plus lots of interesting and different stuff (I was on a mission to find different self-striping yarns, and I found GGH Magica, Crystal Palace Taos and Nashua Wooly Stripes. I have these...ideas...and they need something other than Noro Kureyon to come to fruition.

I hope I have gushed enough to make you go check this place out and keep them in business. Heading to Houston? Make a little detour!

Of course, there are a couple of quirks. The owner doesn't like credit cards, so take checks or cash. And be prepared to wait a while, because the check-out is not computerized. It all gets written down and added by hand. But, you get to chat, so it's pleasant. Just don't be in a hurry to get to an online chat with all your friends around the world--you'll end up an hour and a half late!

But, it was OK, because Deana and I had fun, and she got to get her husband some Dr. Pepper made with cane sugar, not corn syrup, so she was a contented woman, too. Sure is fun to have a partner on these long-distance yarn adventures! Next time, we'll bring along anyone else who wants to come!

Merry Christmas!

To those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a day of rest and relaxation with friends and family. I am heading off with Lee to the empty part of Texas to spend the day with his dad. We are taking a holiday dinner to him, to avoid the holiday cafeteria experience. And because it is nice, and fun.

I will have much more to report tomorrow--there is a yarn crawl to talk about and a lot of new yarn, plus a pair of socks in two days (which made me feel good until I saw a friend did a fancier pair on ONE day, but of course, it's NOT a competition)! And the kids get back tomorrow night, if the weather allows!

And to the non-celebrators--enjoy a day of very little traffic!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

My Dirty Little Knitting Secret

See this fine sock that I knitted in one day? It's the first of my annual pair of house socks for Lee's dad, which I will have done in time since I have TWO days left to finish the second sock. They are done like last year's--44 stitches around using worsted weight yarn. I'm using a skein of Cascade 220 superwash that was lying around and a little Mission Falls 1924 wool that was supposed to be for a pair for Lee. I will probably be able to do a pair for him if I do similar but opposite color striping on his pair. The stripes at least made it interesting.

But why are these socks an example of my dirty little secret? It's the toe. I didn't use my usual three-needle bind-off. No. I actually grafted the toe. My dirty little knitting secret is that historically I have totally sucked at grafting. The only successful seam I ever did before was on a bag that I ended up felting, so you couldn't even see it. I always got off at some point and made ugly, twisted stitches. I was so embarrassed. I am supposed to be a good knitter!

Well, this morning on the Knitting Daily blog, Sandi Wiseheart republished a hint from last year that I hadn't had time to follow up on at that point. It told how to do grafting from knitting needles, rather than sewing it. I followed those instructions, and I could do it! I can even REMEMBER how to do it, I think. I find it a lot easier with the darned stitches staying still on the needles. Whew, now I feel like I am not some fraud of a knitting teacher. I can teach someone to finish a sock in the "normal" way now!

The post on the Knitting Daily blog yesterday had five sock patterns in it. Did I mention that yesterday? If I didn't, you might want to check out that free download. I downloaded it. At least four of them were ones I'd make some day.

Tomorrow Deana and I go on an adventure visiting distant yarn shops. I am sure I will have something to report. I am very interested in the shop that takes neither checks nor credit cards.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gloves Say More Triangle!

Gloves Say More Triangle!
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Yes! I finished Beccano's very exciting black acrylic sock-yarn gloves this afternoon with hours to spare before leaving for a holiday party. He made this victory sigh with them. The sign is actually one made at a concert he went to, which encouraged the triangle player to keep going on his "awesome" solo.

So, they are fine gloves and fit quite perfectly. I only had one place that I thought didn't look to great on a finger transition, but he said it was fine. I made the second glove just a smidge bigger than the first--two stitches more is all, but it does fit better. When I make the next pair I will measure my gauge first like a good girl.

So, do you think I get to go back to OpArt and Maelstrom? No, because I really need to make Lee's dear old dad a pair of house socks for Christmas. This means I need to stop blogging NOW and start on them.

But first, do you recognize this yarn? I could not find it under Cherry Tree Hill on Ravelry, and I even looked under Lorna's Laces Shepherd you recognize it by a more independent Indie Dyer? It did not have its label, and I would sorta like to ID it. If YOU donated it to the LYS swap, could ya let me know what it was, if you remember?

PS: Thanks to my fine commenters, and a more focused look on Ravelry, I have declared this to be Yarn Pirate in the color Pretty Pirate. Whew. Now I can stop looking!

Friday, December 19, 2008

LYS Holiday Party and One Glove

Plymouth Sockotta 367
Originally uploaded by sunasak
On Wednesday we had a little holiday party at the LYS. It probably would have been a bigger party had the weather been better--it was really foggy (and continued to be for a couple of days). Still, we had a pretty darned good time, and some quite delicious food--the two shrimp dips were really popular as was the Stilton cheese (at least with me and Deana). The highlight of the event was a sock yarn Yankee Swap. Everyone brought enough sock yarn to make a pair of socks, in a paper bag (though some insisted on bringing NICE bags). We had about 25 bags of yarn. Much hilarity ensued as people kept stealing the coveted "good" yarn (which was one Jitterbug, one green Trekking, and a pink/white/gray unlabeled yarn that was easily recognizable as Cherry Tree Hill).

What was REALLY funny was that it quickly became obvious that most people brought their least favorite ball of sock yarn to trade. The photo depicts my contribution, and is a good representative. There was a lot of Sockotta. There was a lot of yellow/orange/pink Sockotta. And what wasn't Sockotta was yellow/orange/pink or a combination thereof in wool. I'd say over half the yarns were one of these. Hey, at least mine was pink/purple/aqua.

There was one set of Cascade Fixation, which I think the "winner" got happier after I explained you can make really nice socks out of the stuff. And there was an off-white bamboo that I liked. But, heh heh, I drew a high number, so poor Suzanne was doomed to have me snatch the Cherry Tree Hill away from her. Now I just hope I don't already own that color, since I know I liked it when it came out!

It was fun and I hope we do it again. Hey, and it was my idea! I win!

One Glove

Hooray for me, I finished the first glove for Beccano on schedule. He likes it skin-tight, so it looks a bit funny with no hand in it. He has quite a long hand and fingers (good for guitar), and the glove fits him glove. I did a good job on the finger joins and managed to not have any gaping holes due to my clever picking up technique that, alas, I can't describe in any way that would help anyone else. The thing I like least about gloves is that hole gaping between fingers. And I don't like messy gusset increases, but no worries there. I used left-leaning and right-leaning lifted increases and they look spectacular. I wish the darned thing weren't BLACK, so you could see it better.

Tomorrow I miss the yarn shop due to a choir rehearsal (and I sure could use some teaching money, with no "real" work next week). But, I'll get to hang around a bit on whatever days the shop is open next week. Except Tuesday Deana and I are going yarn shop hopping!

Too sleepy to type more, so I'll close and write more later! Keep knitting!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Motherly Devotion, That Is Moi...and Kollage Needle Review

I must be the world's most devoted mother. Why? Because even though I vowed to start NO new projects so that I can finish OpArt and then move on to my works in progress and lovely queue, I ended up starting something new last night. Because I am a very good, devoted mother.

You see, my beloved Beccano, shown here wearing his family tartan tie at the wedding, actually asked me to make him something, as we were driving home from his guitar lesson, he with a brand new-to-him instrument in his hands that he bought with mostly his own money.

You may recall that, last time, he asked for a black hat. Prior to that, he wanted a lucha libre mask, in black. What did he ask for this time? Black gloves. And he asked that 5 days before he leaves for Wisconsin to spend the holidays "living like a rich person" (that is what he calls spending time with his step-mother's very nice family). Did he want nice thick mittens? No, gloves in sock yarn. I guess the best thing about this was that I did happen to already own two skeins of workhorse black Bernat Sox sock yarn, given to me by someone a couple of years ago, so I didn't have to go search it out. I tried to get him to accept brown, but, nope. He wanted black. Nothing's funner than knitting black stuff on tiny needles, ya know. Which proves that I am a very devoted mother to agree to do this for him.

I did think of something that would make the project more look-forward-to-able, and that was that I could try out my new square knitting needles on the project, and that I could go up a size, so maybe I wouldn't need as many stitches. Sure enough, I only needed 48 stitches in this yarn and size 1 square needles to go around his wrist. I plugged all his numbers into the wonderful Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, by Ann Budd and got to going on it. By the time I was ready to stop knitting and get some reading done (hands are still a bit sore from the hat-a-thon), I had the cuff and partway up the thumb gusset done. I am guessing I will have at least one glove done by the time he leaves, so maybe he can keep one hand in his pocket, like the time it snowed when I was in college (in Florida), and my roommate and I had only one pair of mittens between us, so we each wore one and kept the other hand in our pockets. At least we got to touch the snowflakes and try to scape together enough snow to throw snowballs, even one-handed! We were 18 years old and it was our first snow (I am laughing right now, because Canadian friends took their kids to central Florida this week and took photos of their first palm tree and first trip to the Atlantic--all things I'd experienced before I coule walk--isn't the earth amazing?).

Kollage Square Needle Review

I’d wanted to do a little review of the Kollage needles as soon as I got a chance to use them, so here are my initial impressions. If you are considering getting some, you may want to read on.

  • The needles feel great in the hand. I love the way they are balanced and enjoy knitting with them. The ends are not too round and not too sharp, and the squareness does not interfere with the actual knitting.
  • The transition between needle and cord is very good. It doesn’t catch on anything, and that’s important to me, since every time one of my KnitPicks cables gets out of whack, it creates a little “catch” in the transition area.
  • The cable is incredibly light and thin, which has good and bad points. It’s really easy to divide for magic loop knitting, for example, but it is really hard to push all the stitches forward to go to the next section in magic loop. The needle pushes through, but the cable doesn’t want to move with it, so it gets all doubled up. And I can’t slide the stitches down the cable like I usually do. There’s nothing to hold on to. And of course, I got pretty long needles, because I find those more flexible, so there is a lot of cable pushing between halves of rows.
  • Still, I have figured out ways to deal with the cable lightness (I wouldn’t say “flimsy” because that has bad connotations—it’s just very thin, light and flexible), so it doesn’t really detract much from the knitting. And the good parts sort of balance this challenge out.

I did have a friend at the yarn shop say she is much happier with the larger needles, which have a thicker cable, so if you have concerns about the cable on the teeny sizes, you might consider ordering size 4 or higher, and see how those work for you. I’ll see if I can come up with a project that would use the larger size I bought, to see how I like those. Or, I might get more in the size of whatever project I get to do next…if I finish OpArt, the orange sweater and the Itchy Shalom, all of whom are patiently waiting for me to return my attention to them. I like how these feel well enough to want more. But then, I always want more needles.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I need to wrap up!

Brr, it's been cold here in central Texas for the past few days, so I am very glad I have a Wrap Me Up wrap to wear today.

Yay, it's finished! Unfortunately, I was so busy insisting on finishing a matching hat last night that I didn't get any nice photos of the finished product. So, instead you get to enjoy photos taken with my phone. The first one shows mostly the hat, and was the best I could do in self-portrait mode. At least it is clear. You can also see that yes, they DO have windows at ALE and one is not all that far from my desk.

Anyhow, the hat is from a pattern my knitting shop friend Patricia, she of the great technical knowledge, designed for a class there. I decided to make it because it uses the same yarns as in Wrap Me Up, and I ended up with enough of each yarn to make something. Plus, it was going to be COLD! It's a fun hat, with striping courtesy of Noro Silk Garden, and a very simple fair isle motif in the center, made by bringing in some Cash Iroha, which I just so happened to have sitting in my bag.

The other photo here was intended to be a better photo of me in the Wrap, but I could not get my colleague to hold the camera/phone still while taking a picture. But, you get the hazy idea of how the wrap um, wraps, and a nice shot of my white board and computer screen, featuring a lovely Suna/Lee wedding photo.

I promise to provide better images ASAP!

But, to sum up this project, it was loads of fun, is very warm, is fun to throw around me artfully, and is the perfect thing to have around in a chilly home or office environment. And luckily I have at least one shirt that goes with it (see my fuchsia turtleneck there? Not much else goes with it!

After frantically making the hat all last night, I will be back on OpArt tonight, after working on a present to mail for a Yule Exchange and a couple of holiday cards for people who don't have email and might want to know I have a new husband and other useful details like that!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Blocking Away

Lookee, I finally found some time to start blocking Wrap Me Up. Since I'd already fallen down and twisted my back trying to refill the dogs' water dispenser (hint, don't do that with a sore arm and with high heels on that would slip if you spill water), I figured that any necessary contortions would just add to my issues. And sure enough, I had to do some contorting. So the pictures here show each end of it, but I am sparing you the middles.

As the authors of the pattern hinted, the wrap is a bear to block. Some parts of it really didn't want to be as wide as other parts, especially the really firm section that was my favorite (it's the bottom middle in the top picture, but doesn't show up very well in the little picture). So, I did a lot of tugging and pinning in a very confined space, because the only safe place I could find to do the blocking was beside the guest bed. I can keep the dogs out of there, I hope!
Beccano says it smells like a wet sheep, but I washed it with lavender soap, so I think it smells good. I am hoping it is dry by Saturday so I can work on the border and have it ready to wear next week.

In the meantime, OpArt is moving along briskly. I have it on my longest Knit Picks cable, and I only have two blocks of each color left. Of course, rows are up to around 500 stitches each, so I'll still be working on that one for a while. But. Yay. I see the end in sight, and I see the end of Wrap Me Up, too!

Sigh, next it is more socks for Lee's dad. I know they will make him happy. Then, then I hereby swear or affirm, I will finish my orange alpaca sweater. I think that's all *I* want for Yule: a finished sweater.

And by the way, yes, I can type a blog post after a Margarita from the wonderful Mesa Rosa restaurant, even if some of my Facebook pals have their doubts!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Equipment Malfunctions

OpArt Bigger
Originally uploaded by sunasak
Well, yes, OpArt is progressing nicely. I'm to the part where the rows are long and restful, or they would be if it weren't for equipment malfunctions. I have been through three sets of cables in the past couple of days, because my Knit Picks Options needles and cables are having a variety of issues. One of the size 6 needles came out of the holder, so I got some Super Glue and stuck it back in (I did the same to the size 9 one that had broken on Nancy last month). That is holding fine now. But, after that I have had TWO of the cables come unseated out of their bases. The first one I tried to use Super Glue on, and it glued, but the entire cable didn't get into the base, so it was catching on the stitches. Sigh.

I was really surprised on the way to church today when the next one I tried, which is a pretty long one, also came undone. I am wondering if they have hit some magic age at which the glue goes bad (I am pretty sure these are among the ones I got with my metal set, year before last), or if the OpArt stitches are just too much for them. Or...I don't know what. This second broken cable I just shoved back in, and it is holding up fine, though I am taking care to carefully slide the stitches without pulling on that joint.

I sure hope all of mine don't go bad, because I sure like these needles, especially the wood ones.

Um, anyway, the project is coming along nicely, though as you can see from the picture, the place where the colors change doesn't look real great. No method of joining I have tried has been ideal. Well, I am sure the baby won't mind. However, the baby's MOTHER is a very detail-oriented knitter, so I hope she can handle it.

I also have the plan to neaten all the ends on the inside and use a bit of Fray Check stuff to stick them down. They will look neater and I hope they won't intrigue the baby once she gets older. So she won't pick at them. I would have done that, myself, guaranteed.

The yarn shop was nice yesterday--lots of dads bringing in kids to buy Mom a gift. I did convince one guy that one skein of 92 yards wasn't enough to make anything, so he got three. I know his wife will appreciate it. There was some nice visiting and relaxing chatting. At this point, I am really enjoying my relaxation. It feels GOOD to not have anything pressing!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

You Can Make One of These!

Here's the OpArt project I am working on, a couple of days ago. I am enjoying it, because yes sirree it's a mindless project. It looks all cool and optical illusion-y, but it's just a square with the increases always in the same spot, which makes the increase gradually move off to the right. And it's garter stitch, so one row knit, one row purl.

The yarn is nice and soft, for inexpensive washable wool (KnitPicks Shine). It will be an excellent baby warmer, and not take too long, I am hoping!

Anyway, if you have a baby to knit for, consider this little fun project. You can do it! Even YOU, new-ish knitter. And it is a nice break for YOU, experienced knitter. You can make it in any color combo you'd want, and I guess you could do it in Vanna's Choice or something (I mention that because I had a weird dream that I had to buy a whole bunch of it for some project and could not find the right colors, so I was stuck in some el big box hobby store wandering the aisles looking for another color).

I think I will go knit now. Yay, I can knit!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Back to Knitting Soon

Here I am with some knitting friends and church friends, just before the wedding. Lots more photos are on my Flickr album or Facebook (I am Suna Kendall there).

It was a great wedding and a wonderful time with friends. I sure am grateful to have so many knitting and other friends to share my happiness with.

I have a longer post on my personal blog, so contact me if you'd like access to it (send me your email address in a comment, and I will delete it without posting). I just don't want all my personal stuff on my public blog, ya see.

I still need to block Wrap Me Up before I can finish it. I hope to do that tonight, though I have to finish my thank-you notes. Yes, I am being a Good Bride. And no, I did not change my name.

Last night I got going on OpArt, from Knitty. It is way easier than I thought it would be. If I had known what mindless knitting it was going to turn out to be, I could have worked on it last week when I was all stressed! I am sure this one will get done before its recipient gets born! I have three months. Gosh, hope I didn't jinx it.

I was proud of my wedding shawl. It lived up to its billing and people loved it.