Friday, June 30, 2006

SMAK June - done!

Yikes -- I almost forgot to post my June socks! My "first ever toe-up" happy blue Koigu sock has a mate.

I used the EZ sewn cast-off and wasn't completely happy with it. It is certainly stretchy enough, but it seems to flare out a bit when it's not being worn. Which, in the long, makes no real difference, I suppose, except it's mildly annoying. As well, it's a bit fiddly and takes a lot longer than grafting a toe.

On the other hand, casting on for the toe-up is a lot quicker than casting on for a top down. Not being totally sold on the whole other-way-round thing, I did the mate top down.

Now that I have had a chance to wear them a bit, I will reluctant admit that I actually kind of like ... koff koff prefer koff koff ... the feel of the toe-up. Egads. I guess further experimentation is in order. I'll try it again, but with a different bind off. I'll try it out on the brown & blue Koigu I found hiding in a box.

These aren't the socks that I was planning/hoping to finish in June for two reasons. One, I got side-tracked by the toe-up thing, and two, the other previously anticipated June socks require a bit more brain power than I'm prepared to give to them at the moment. In lieu of a pic of an anticipated July sock, just consider the previously anticipated June socks to be the new anticipated July sock. Unless I get side-tracked again, that is :-) .

On a possibly related topic, the condo next door has been for sale for about three weeks. I noticed this morning that, although there is no sign, the condo upstairs has a lockbox on the door. I'm hoping neither of these factoids has anything to do with my early morning forays onto our joint front porch to take pictures of my feet and pretty-coloured string. Although I may be eccentric, I don't really need that confirmed throughout the neighbourhood.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Contest - Two Duhs - the Winner!

Some of you knew.

Some of you guessed.

Some of you made multiple guesses - naughty naughty!

Some of you were right.

Some of you were wrong.

Some of you tried to ... gasp ... bribe me.

Some of you sought to curry favour by complimenting me.

Some of you were disqualified for not following the rules.

Some of you shared reminiscences of washing socks.

Some of you were ... late!

Some of you commented on the fact that not only does the label seem to have a "washable" controversy, it also seems to have somewhat of a gauge problem.

Despite having one of the goofiest labels I have ever seen, it's still one of my favourite sock yarns. The colours are beautiful, and it knits up sleekly and softly. I would note that it has accidentally gone through the normal laundry and survived -- perhaps a bit faded, but not felted.

The winner is Harriet, of limedragon fame. Congratulations, Harriet! Your yarn will be in the mail on Tuesday.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Knit Sock Kit Swap Questionnaire

Yup, I joined, and here's my nitty gritty:

What are your favorite colors? Blue. Brown. Green. Grey. No yellow or pink, unless it's in small doses mixed up with blue, brown, green or grey.

Are you a new sock knitter? How long have you been knitting socks? Nope, not new. I grafted my first toe on February 25, 1999.

Do you prefer solid or multicolored yarn? Solids for patterns, and multicoloreds for plain. Lately I've been leaning more towards plain multicoloreds and less patterns. Is plain multicolored oxymoronic?

What fibers do you prefer in sock yarn? Wool, with a 65 % preference for superwash over non. A little bit of nylon can be a good thing. I don't "get" cotton socks.

Where do you usually knit socks? At home, in front of either the computer or the tv.

How do you usually carry/store small projects? I have several little baskets that I use. When I run out of those, it's time to haul out the plastic bags. Ziploc Vegetable Bags work great - they have little holes so you can squish the bag :-)

What are your favorite sock knitting patterns? Usuallly whatever I have on the needles at that particular moment, unless it's giving me grief, at which point my favourite becomes the one I'm thinking about knitting about the grief-giving one. I've devised a "fit-my-foot" plan that I use to adapt whatever pattern I might be knitting at the time.

What are your favorite sock knitting techniques? No real favourites, but I can say my least favourite is stranding. Up until a very short while ago, I'd have said top-down. I recently tried toe-up, and it's growing on me, except for ... see next question.

What new techniques would you like to try? I have yet a find a satisfactory bind-off for toe-up. I've only used the EZ sewn cast-off, and although nice and stretchy, it ended up little flarey. More experimentation is required.

Do you prefer circulars or dpns for sock knitting? DPNS all the way.

What are some of your favorite yarns? Regia, Koigu, Lorna's Laces. I can't really say I've met a sock yarn I haven't liked, except for Kroy. I've never had luck with Kroy. I've recently acquired some yummy handpaints that I'm itching to turn into production. I need more arms.

What yarn do you totally covet? Anything with blue in it.

Any pattern you would love to make if money and time were no object? No.

Favorite kind of needles (brand, materials, straights or circs, etc)? Aero DPNS.

If you were a specific kind of yarn, which brand and kind of yarn would you be? Is this one of those Zen questions? I'm too hyper to Zen.

Do you have a favorite candy or mail-able snack? I love licorice. And pink popcorn. But not at the same time.

What’s your favorite animal? I've had dogs, cats, birds, lizards, snakes, and various other miscellany at one time or another. I loved them all. Could you pick a favourite child? I think not.

Do you have pets? What are their species/names/ages? I presently have a fish who has no name but usually gets addressed by, "Do you want some food now?" He's a blue Siamese fighting fish that I've had for three years.

If you were a color what color would you be? Blue.

Describe your favorite shirt (yours or someone else’s). Plaid, flannel, soft, warm.

What is your most inspiring image, flower, or object in nature? I love trees.

Tell me the best quote you’ve ever heard or read. If you keep doing what you've always been doing, you keep getting what you've always got. It's not really a quote, but it's something I keep reminding myself when I keep getting what I've always got.

Do you have a wishlist? You mean other than world peace and an end to hunger and disease?

Anything else you’d like to share with the group today? I don't really think there's a group that's still reading this, so I'll pass :-)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Amazing Lace - Challenge #2 - Extreme Knitting

I had the most AMAZINGLY EXTREME post planned and into production mode. Unfortunately, it all fell apart during the photo shoot when the golf cart broke down and the horse absolutely refused to wear the parachute ... sigh.

I'm at row 61.

Do you see it?

Here's a close up of the beginning of the lace section of the tail on the right side:

Here's a close up of the beginning of the lace section of the tail on the left side:
Now do you see it? Yup, it's totally out of whack. Of course, I discovered this just as I decided that it was time to put in my FIRST lifeline. Which means there's no lifeline to go back to. And it's after I joined the two sections of the tail, so the rows are twice as long and go across both sections.

Note to self: When knitting left tail, do * not * look at the chart for right tail.

This evening, I have the distinct pleasure of unraveling a mess of p2tog-b and slip2-p1-p2sso ... fun, fun, fun. It might be quicker just to start over. Hmmmm.

The official team progress photo for this leg of the race -- Extremely Slow.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Contest - Two Duhs

I was trying to get organized (Ha! - I don't believe I just used *that* word) for the Trek Along with Me, which meant that I had to dig through my stash and find my Trekking. And find it I did.

Ha! Are you surprised it isn't blue? I do sometimes use other colours, you know. Kind of reminds me of a campfire. I like it.

Of course, he has a friend.

Unfortunately, they both have friends of their own too.

Duh the first: Having so much yarn that you don't know what you have, so you end up buying exactly the same thing over again. It's even the same dyelot.

As I was digging through the stash, I noticed this label on another skein of sock yarn:

Duh the second: Washable? Hand wash only? Huh? Yes, I know there may be reasons to hand wash a washable wool, but doesn't that kind of defeat the purpose?

The contest: Tell me which yarn has the Duh label and you can win two skeins of the Duh yarn. Simple, yes? All correct answers will be put in a hat and a winner shall be drawn. Entries are NOT to be by comment. Email them before June 20, 2006, to: bearley_there at hotmail dot com under the subject line "Contest - Two Duhs".

Oh, the post title said "two," didn't it. In that case, I'll also send you this yarn ...

... so you have enough yarn for two pairs of socks!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Amazing Lace - Challenge #1 - Meet Team Swallowtail

The first challenge in The Amazing Lace is to introduce the team. Please allow me to introduce Team Swallowtail, starting with myself, the Knitter. Yup, that blurry little photo is probably the perfect self-portrait. Although I have dabbled a bit in lace, I am, primarily, a sock knitter. And yes, just as the picture is slightly out of focus, so too do I lack a bit of focus now and then.

Pro the knitter: Determined to succeed. Has a fairly competitive nature.

Con the knitter: Fairly short attention span. Does not have a good track record of finishing large projects. Have you seen even one of those little project graphs on the side bar grow? Even a bit? Nope. Nary a one, and nary by a smidge. I believe it is safe to say that this knitter will likely be the Weakest Link in the team. (Oops, wrong show!)

The project I have chosen to accompany me on this journey is the Tiger Swallowtail Shawl, designed by Brenda Zuk, available from her website which is chockful of her wonderful designs - Needle Beetle. When I first saw this design, I knew that I had to knit it some day. That day has arrived.

This is not a wispy little shawl - no cobweb, thru-a-ring bit of fluff. This is a project of substance! The pattern calls for a DK weight cotton, so I'm thinking it will come out more like a butterfly blankie.

Pro the Design: Pretty butterfly! A yarn that you can actually see and feel. And charts!

Yes, charts -- readable charts! With nice dark lines every ten squares, like a cross-stitch chart. Bless you, Brenda Zuk!

Con the Project: Charts!

As in -- lots of charts! Big charts! On-both-sides-of-the-page charts! With patterning on both the right side and the wrong side rows! This project will require some planning -- some organization. I will have to -- eek --PAY ATTENTION.

Lace is usually made up of some YOs, some K2togs and some SKPs; right? My pretty butterfly? Umm, no.

That's it - the legendary legend with the decreases all done in purl. Every .. single .. one.

And if that's not enough, there is also this:

See that little tiny part outlined in red? That's the knitting instructions. See that humungous part outlined in green? That's the * crochet * border. ACK! Crochet border? You mean like with one of those hook thingys? My subconscious mind must have conveniently blocked that when I read the pattern description on the website. Because you know what? I don't know how to crochet, other than a provisional cast-on. But that's not real crochet -- it's more like knitting with a crochet hook. For now, I have decided that I will pull a Scarlett and worry about that tomorrow.

The yarn Brenda suggests is Butterfly 10.

Pro the Butterfly 10: Lots of pretty colours! Check out that Nectarine down at the bottom!!

Con the Butterfly 10: Not available locally. I could order it, but then I'd have to wait. And I think I've already mentioned my short attention span.

Maybe I have something in stash that would work -- such as this:

Pro the blue yarn: It's the right weight, I've got lots of it, and it's blue -- my favourite colour!!

Con the blue yarn: Well, there's this:

Denim. Which *could* mean I'd have a really cool butterfly when all is said and done. But this is the yarn that shrinks when you wash it, which * would * play total havoc with my gauge. My butterfly would be the most bizarrely shaped bug you'd ever seen. Unless, of course, there was, well, you know, some way to, well, kind of ... shrink it ... beforehand.

And, a mere four and a half hours later, I have this:

Yes, I am sometimes my own worst enemy. Dudes, I killed it. My carefully tied knots came untied and I have a mass of shrunken, knotted-up, hopelessly tangled blue spaghetti. I managed to fatally wound a potential partner before the race even began!

I was left with no choice. I HAD to go to the LYS and dig through all the yarns there and examine every cubbyhole and pet every single skein and stick my fingers into every ball they had. It was pure torture! :-) But I found this:

The Cotton Classic is a trifle heavier than what is called for, but I'm fine with that. I totally love the colour. It's a very in-your-face green and likely even glows in the dark, although I haven't tested that yet. Although someone somewhere likely calls it Spring Green, or Fresh Grass Green, or even some sappy name like Mountain Dew, it shall henceforth be known around here as Caterpillar Green, and my Swallowtail will end up looking something like this:

The Swatch: The pattern calls for 4.5 mm needles. The Cotton Classic ballband calls for a 5 mm. Good enough for me, 5 mm it shall be :-) Swatch is done! (Did I mention my lack of patience?)

Every team carries a backpack full of accessories. Mine has some bright yellow "string" for the lifelines I am sure to need, some M&Ms for sustenance, some needles, scissors, the standard assortment of knitting paraphernalia. But it also includes a few extras:

Yes, I found my cookie pan, dusted off my old music stand, and dug through a box to find my old cross-stitch magnets. And you know what I found in the box that was supposed to be just cross-stitch stuff?

Koigu!! I have no idea why these two balls of Koigu were in that box. Look at the colours! Brown! Tan! And BLUE !!!!!!!! I'm thinking it would look great as socks with 3x2 ribbing all the way down the leg and the instep and a short row heel. I've got some free needles the right size and could ..... STOP! Please, try to FOCUS!!! Keep your eye on the project at hand: