Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Out the Door! Bye-bye Blues!

A day of passenger-ing in the car allowed me to finish these gift socks on Sunday, just one day too late to send them to Sister Boo via Sister Emjay. So, these garter stitch ribs in Cascade Fixation will travel to their new home in style, via the US mail.

No second sock syndrome for these babies! From just below the ribbing all the way to the toes, in 5 or 6 hours of enforced work time the second sock was done. After worrying with myself about what pattern would work with this yarn, I'm satisfied with the result. The garter stitch rib was easy to do and and I did not feel like the gentle ribs were arguing with the stripes in the yarn about who would be most notable.

As I had been knitting these socks the past week or two, I was feeling tired of socks---10 or 12 pairs in the past 15 months, mostly to the exclusion of other knitting has left my drawer filled with socks (I gave a few pair away as gifts, but mostly I save these beloved and belabored objects for the person who will most appreciate them--moi). I was looking forward to something new, a headscarf, and was itching to get going on it. But I would not allow myself to pick up new needles until this project was finished.

So, what did I do when I finished these socks? In the car, with only one other project in my knitting bag? You guessed it---started a gauge swatch for another pair of socks! But these are a bamboo blend (the Crystal Palace Panda Cotton I had tried originally to turn into gift socks for Boo), perfect for summer....... I have gauge (9 st/in, on size 0 Knitpics) and I really like the resulting fabric. And, I started the headband the next day! More to come.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

(sob...) Frog It!

Sometimes a couple, a yarn and a pattern, are just not a good match. Their pairing begins with a knitter's hope, her vision of an FO to be proud of. Cast on, gauge, cast on again---she does her magic to bind yarn and pattern into Something Wonderful. Sometimes yes, but sometimes no. Doubts begin; "Do I like this?" But hope persists, hope that with a few more rows, the pairing will reveal itself as a creative combo.

Not this time. The more of Flame Wave in Fixation that emerges from my needles, the more clear it becomes to me that this pairing is a mistake, that these are Ugly Socks. The pattern is lovely, the socks are not. At 6 inches into the first cuff I say, "Frog it!"

Herstory repeats itself. This is the same project that was expected to couple Panda Cotton with Flame Wave. Will Boos Blues ever be? I have until next week to find just the right match, and then to bring that match into being.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wishful Knitting

Yesterday I received the sad news that the son of a dear friend had died suddenly. I remember the day he was born, taking care of him occasionally when he was little, enjoying his delightful questions, curiosities and passions throughout his childhood, recalling his presence at our wedding (1 of 7 guests!), and hearing about his struggles and successes through the adolescent and young adult years. My heart aches for my friend and her husband, and the only way I could begin to comfort myself was to think about what I can knit for her---I saw a pattern for a "comfort shawl" and wondered if she would truly find it a "comfort" or just a reminder of unspeakable sorrows. I don't know what, or if, I will make her something but I do feel this very strong urge to KNIT for her, to try to make her feel a little bit better. As if my knitting could help her. It might make me feel better, but I don't think it could touch her sorrow.

Meanwhile, no actual knitting for me today. At all. Had to travel a couple of hours down the coast (and back) to visit my specialist doctor---positive report and a reprieve: next appointment is not until November!

My energies are now directed at preparing to teach my friend's class for her tomorrow evening---it's not my specific area, but I should be able to give the students something. But first, I have to do the readings and pre-view the video. I think there will be no knitting tomorrow either. Maybe I can convey to her my wishes for her healing more via not knitting than via knitting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Boo's Blues Blues

To frog or not to frog, that is a question. Nothing wrong with this sock, it's just not what what I was dreaming of. Last year, in the throes of my initial sock knitting, I made a pair of socks for my Sister Emjay, who loved them so much she vowed to wear them only at home. Because she did not want wool, I used Cascade Fixation, a stretchy cotton yarn that has the added advantage of working up quickly. I used a basketweave pattern for the cuffs of a standard sock---they fit well, looked cool, and felt nice and cushy. So, Sister Boo asked me to knit her a pair of socks and I agreed. I've been thinking and thinking of what to make her--something to show my love for her and my increased sock-making skills. She asked for no wool, and I eventually fell upon Panda Cotton at The Loopy Ewe --perfect! Bamboo, cotton, and elastic---soft, stretchy, and available in a lovely Blueberry Grape colorway, recalling a blueberry picking expedition years ago. I sprang for it, even paying for shipping!

I thought the yarn would work well in Ann Budd's Flame Wave Socks (from Favorite Socks) but the
evil Gauge Goddess said "NOT!" I tried and tried but that yarn just did not want to be the 6 st/in that the pattern called for (despite the ball band itself claiming it as a 6 st/in kind of yarn!). Darn! It was at that point that I realized---duh!---the pattern suggested Cascade Fixation. Hmmmmm.... In my first sock yarn buying frenzy at Webs last year, I'd bought a bunch of that very yarn. Dig through the stash and Voila! Soft yarn, quick knit, easy gauge, easy to care for---go for it!

But, now I'm having doubts: do I like the stripey yarn in this pattern? do I like these colors? more importantly, will Boo like these colors? do the stripes just mask the gentle waves of the pattern? I confess that I'm starting to agree with people who wonder about the wisdom of using self-striping yarn for socks with a definitive pattern. Despite my 1 1/2 years of STR club socks, mostly self striping yarns combined with complex patterns, I'm starting to see that one should do one OR the others----do a simple stockinette stitch to show off the lovely hand-dyed (or self-striping) yarn, OR select a mono-tone yarn to highlight a complex stitch.

Meanwhile, the Fixation socks continue to grow (the cuff on the first sock is almost finished), even as I stew. Obsess. Obsess. Obsess.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Ravelry Rocks!

I've been enjoying exploring the Beta version of Ravelry for the past couple of weeks---looking at what other people are doing, checking out patterns, starting to put up my own projects and stash. But, today I really got to experience the community aspect of Ravelry. It's awesome! I noted the completion of the Bella Blouse on Ravelry. Within a couple of hours, I'd received 3 messages commenting on Bella, all from people I don't know! It brings a smile to my face :-) Made me realize how few are the folks with whom I can share my knitting details and joys.

Bella, Bella, Bella.......

Finished the lovely Bella Blouse a few days ago and am quite pleased with it---the fabric has a wonderful drape, and it fits! I am a largely self-taught knitter (all right, I was taught by Dodie, as I talked about earlier on this blog, but she did not live nearby so I ended up just figuring out how to make a garment on my own) and fit has often been a matter of luck--mostly bad--for me. During the knitting surge of the 1980's, I knit many sweaters but at least half of them did not fit--usually way too big. Sometimes I used a yarn from my stash but often I used the yarn in the pattern. Whatever I used, size was a surprise element. Its only been through listening to podcasts over the past year that I have realized--duh!--the true importance of GAUGE! Yes, 21 years of school, decades of knitting experience, and I still used stretching, squishing, and hope to make a gauge swatch work.

A year of successful sock knitting (and, yes, gauging) helped me feel ready to take on a sweater again. Careful work with gauge earned me the reward of a sweater that I like and can wear! I even blocked it, and I'm embarrassed to admit that this is a first for this old knitter!

The details: the pattern is by Norah Gaughan and is available online and free from Interweave
Knits (Summer 2007). I used Berocco Cotton Twist (Sensai colorway) for the lace elements and Berocco Touche (Nectar colorway) for the body. I fell in love with it when I first saw it, and was particularly delighted that it gave me a chance to try a Norah Gaughan pattern. I used the colors called for in the pattern (though they look different than they did in the pattern photo), and made only a couple of changes: shortened the body to make it a "petite"; added a row of single crochet at the underarms to give them a more finished appearance; and fiddled with the YO in the lace when it appeared at the beginning of a wrong side row (I YO'ed from over and behind to make the loop tighter).