Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Diamonds can't keep you warm

'Tis the season for incessant jewelry commercials on TV. They all have the same disturbing (in so many ways) subtext: a man who doesn't give the woman in his life jewelry for Christmas is a schmuck. The only good thing about these commercials is that they make me turn the TV off.

Surely I can't be the only woman who would prefer to receive yarn rather than diamonds. Where are the yarn commercials?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Shooting the rapids

The River Rapids socks are finished! I love them. With any luck, Mom will like them as much as I do.

(River Rapids socks by Sockbug. Yarn: Lisa Souza Sock! in Garnet)

What can I say about Lisa Souza's yarn? It's fabulous and reasonably priced. Look how beautiful this heathered solid is.

I'm about to start on my first stranded colorwork project—a hat for my nephew. Never having done colorwork, I decided to do a bit of practice. So far I'm not loving the stranding. Mentally I just can't get the hang of holding one strand in my left hand and one in my right. That means I need to hold both strands in my left, and that's where the problems come in. As far as I can tell, most (continental) knitters drape their yarn over their index fingers for control. Being the oddball that I am, I drape the yarn over my middle finger, and that's part of my problem. Stranding would be easy if I could control one strand with my index finger and one with my middle finger (as one of my fair isle books illustrates), but I just don't have the dexterity to do it that way. So it turns out I need a gadget to help keep my strands separate.

It isn't terribly comfortable, but so far it's getting the job done. I hope this works.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

We interrupt this knitting content...

It's almost Thanksgiving, and preparations are in full swing. Here's the largest loaf of bread I've ever made.

It's difficult to tell from the photo, but trust me, it's huge. I needed extra bread for tomorrow's stuffing, and for some reason I decided it would be more fun to make a large loaf than two smaller ones. The Professor and I will be doing Turkey Day for two. All of our relatives live in different states, and The Professor has too much work to allow us to travel. Still, I'm putting on the full spread. (I may regret this decision later.)

It's so sunny and warm outside that I hardly feel like it's Thanksgiving. Take a look at this.

Most un-Novemberlike. It's going to take me a while to get used to this Texas weather. I've always been a Northern girl, and believe it or not, I miss the blustery skies.

The sock is the only knitting progress I have to report. These will also be for my mom. The yarn is Lisa Souza Sock! in Garnet. I wanted to do some sort of lace pattern with this mostly solid yarn, but I didn't want anything too open. (Mom tends to have cold feet.) The River Rapids pattern from Sockbug fits the bill nicely—not too lacy, but still interesting.

Monday, November 20, 2006


More gifts finished.

These Odessa hats, designed by the lovely and talented Grumperina, are destined for two of my nieces, ages 3 and 6. The little girls will love the sparkly iridescent beads. Both hats are made from RYC Cashsoft, a lovely soft yarn. I would almost rather rub my face in this yarn than knit with it. Almost.

Also, two pairs of slipper socks for my mom are done. Last year I gave Mom some crocheted slippers (like these), and she really liked them. In fact, she liked them so much that she decreed that she wants handmade slippers every Christmas for the rest of her life. Yikes! This year she's getting knitted ones.

What quick and economical knits these are! Each pair took me a day to knit. Considering it normally takes me a minimum of four days to knit a pair of socks, I am thrilled. Plus, a pair of these socks requires just under 60 grams of Knit Picks Swish Superwash. That works out to a little less than $4 per pair. Not bad at all.

I'm still liking Swish. No, it isn't the nicest superwash I've ever used, but it is great value—and plenty soft for most purposes. The two balls of Bordeaux I used had no knots at all. Bordeaux is an aptly named color. It's such a winey red that, while knitting with it, I felt an almost uncontrollable urge to break out the corkscrew and pour myself a glass. Anyway, it's a perfect Mom color. Myself, I prefer a warmer red.

These socks also gave me the opportunity to practice cabling without a cable needle. Fun stuff!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Sock Love

Today is my birthday. As is my usual practice, I bought a little birthday present for myself.

Fearless Fibers sock yarn! From left to right, the colorways are Brick House, Autumn Reflections, Sublime, Thoroughbred, Tapestry, and October. The autumn-y goodness just blows me away. It's so beautiful that I keep wandering over to my stash just so I can pull it out and look at it. Good brown colorways can be difficult to find, and Deb is a genius with them. I'll admit, though, that Brick House is my favorite. I, um, actually have two hanks of it.

I know I'm not the first to express this sentiment, but really, sock yarn is the crack of the knitting world. Since I started knitting, I've acquired an embarrassing quantity of sock yarn. Like this.

Lisa Souza Sock! yarn. Why yes, there are 10 skeins. What? I can stop any time I want.

(L to R: Graphite, Gendarme, Olive Tones, Mars Quake, Bronze.)

(L to R: Mahogany, Wild Things, Slate, Garnet, Petroglyph.)

Here are some socks I knitted with the Olive Tones colorway.

This particular skein had fun little shots of orange and white in it, but my new skein of Olive Tones is all greens. Vive la différence!

Moving on with the sock theme... I started on some slipper socks for my mom using Knit Picks Swish in Wisteria.

So far I really like the yarn. It's much softer than I expected it to be. My one complaint: knots. Both of the skeins I've used have had 2-3 knots each. Disappointing. Let's hope the trend does not continue.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Crazed woman acquires more yarn

I got this big box from Knit Picks yesterday.

All these goodies were inside.

That's Swish Superwash in Fired Brick, Coast Gray, Dark Navy, Dublin, Wisteria, and Bordeaux. There's also some Telemark in Deep Navy, Poppy, Drift, Gray Wolf, and Snow Leopard. Oh yes, and also Essential in Dusk and Essential Tweed in Flint. Most of this yarn is intended for Christmas gift projects. It is a little ambitious, especially considering everything else I have on deck for holiday presents. We'll see how well I do. It's sometimes difficult for me to remember how much slower knitting is (for me) than crocheting.

I also received some luscious sock yarn that I bought as a birthday present for myself. However, it isn't my birthday yet, so I'll save it for another day.

The Beatrice scarf is finished.

I survived it. It turns out that the best motivation for finishing it was not allowing myself to work on any other project until it was finished.

All right, I like it. It's handsome. A man scarf, indeed.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The best intentions

Here's the thing about yarn: it can be anything, but sometimes it has a mind of its own. It doesn't necessarily want to be what I want it to be. Case in point:

It's Classic Elite Beatrice in Aspen Grove (color 3215), purchased at a great price from Webs. Behold the loveliness.

I want this yarn to become a scarf. A thick, squishy scarf, preferably reversible. I'd like the pattern to be interesting too, since scarves can be, well, boring to knit. So I cast on and start a braided cable pattern. Um, no, not working. Frog. I cast on again and try a herringbone rib. Nope. Garter stitch on the bias is kind of nice, but somehow I can't bring myself to make a garter stitch scarf. Next I try a baby cable rib. Sorry, thanks for playing. 2x2 rib looks all right, but it draws in too much. Basketweave stitch, while not objectionable, doesn't quite do it for me. What do I end up with?

1x1 rib. I'm not thrilled, but it seems that this yarn wants to be something really simple. Ye gods, I may crack under the monotony of doing 1x1 rib for over five feet. And while I had originally intended this scarf for a woman, it's starting to whisper "man scarf" in my ear.

Another thing I find disappointing about this yarn is how little I'm enjoying knitting with it. It's too thick, and these US size 10.5 needles feel, well, unwieldy. Maybe it's because of all the socks I've knit, but I'm not feeling the thrill I get when knitting with a finer yarn. Hey, maybe I'll start a sock. It can be a reward system. If I knit three inches of scarf, I can let myself knit the sock for 10 minutes. What could go wrong?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Yarn: A Love Story

I can't remember a time when I didn't love yarn. Where this attraction came from, I can't say. There were no serious knitters or crocheters in my family to inspire me. What I remember is how I loved walking down the yarn aisle at the grocery store with my mom. (Yarn! At the grocery store!) One day I worked up the courage to point out to my mom how pretty I thought the yarn was. She looked at me for a second, then asked, "What would you do with that yarn?" Of course I had no ready answer. All I knew was that I wanted the yarn; I had no idea what I would actually do with it.

Mom bought the yarn for me anyway. She also bought a couple of crochet hooks, then took me home and showed me the basics. And boy, do I mean basics. It had been years since Mom had crocheted, and she only remembered chaining, single crochet, and double crochet. (I found out later that her dc was actually an Elmore dc.) She taught me to work in rounds, and for a while, I thought that was the only way to crochet. What a revelation it was when I later learned that crochet could be worked in rows. Mom didn't read patterns, so my first crochet projects were, um, "original designs." I had fun experimenting.

Over the years I bought lots of crochet books, learned more techniques, and churned out loads of crocheted items. I made hats, scarves, dishcloths, potholders, sweaters, lacy thread tops, shawls, coasters, stuffed toys, and afghans. Oh, the afghans! Hundreds of afghans.

Then there was knitting. It always seemed to be beyond me. Two needles? How do you deal with two needles? But I knew I wanted to learn how to do it. Six or seven years ago, I tried to teach myself from a needlecraft compendium in my library. It was a complete disaster. The book only showed English style knitting, and as a right-handed crocheter, it felt unnatural to hold the yarn in my right hand. I didn't pursue it any further. Clearly I was meant to be a crocheter, not a knitter.

That all changed when two people in my life--my twin sister and my oldest friend--both took up knitting. Neither of them had ever shown the slightest interest in fiber arts before, and here they were knitting. Successfully! It was really too much.

So I decided to try knitting again. Someone on a crochet message board had mentioned that Continental knitting was generally easier for crocheters to learn than English knitting, so I searched out all the information I could find on Continental style. It was as if the fog had been lifted from my eyes. I could knit holding the yarn the same way I hold it for crocheting? Brilliant!

I've been knitting since January 2006, and I can't put it down. I'm a little ashamed to admit that I've done almost no crocheting in that time. It's like being in a new relationship. I'm infatuated with my new love, but I know my old friend is still there for me.

Anyway, back to the yarn. I think I've figured out one of the reasons why I love it so much. Yarn is possibility. It can be anything. It can go from this

to this

in a short period of time. Just like magic.

Egad, not another knitting blog.

I've enjoyed reading other people's blogs for a long time, but until now, I never seriously considered starting my own blog. Who would want to read about little old me?

Well, here I am, unemployed and living in a new city. The husband is always working, so I have lots of time on my hands, and I've got to do something in between job applications. So here goes...