Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cranky Pants

Blogger and my computer are not getting on right now, there were words and I was came in too late to salvage the relationship. Thus there are no pictures. Rather there are pictures, they are even on the computer but blogger will have nothing to do with them. A counselor is coming tomorrow and I hope she can at least rectify the situation enough that blogger will let my computer give it some pictures.

The moral of the story is that I finished yet another sock over the weekend at work (I am loving this job more and more every day) and I thought it was a little on the big side, but didn't worry about it too much. Turns out it is exactly three grams too big, and since that three grams is in the leg I have to rip back the entire foot and part of the leg and have another go at it. I am reminded why I love toe-up socks so very much at times like this. The problem is I did a lot of top-down socks with great success and got all cocky; the fates have thrown it all back in my face. The upside is that while the sock technically fits it is quite large, the leg is too long, the foot could have fewer stitches and the heel flap is funny. I'm thinking of the current permutation as a the dress rehearsal. Now I know what needs to happen, I can put on my concert black and finish the thing the way it ought to be done.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Strike the bell Mate

I have officially re-joined the ranks of Those-Who-Make-Yarn. I learned to spin years ago from the mother of my dear friend. I span (spun?), plied, made a hat and never looked back, or really anywhere for that matter. I wear the hat all the time and always told myself that my lack of spinning was from lack of supplies which stemmed from lack of space; and for the most part that was all true. Thus I have taken up the spindle (still no room for a wheel and my transient lifestyle doesn't really suit a wheel anyway). And now I once again have my first yarn.

It's not very much, but it is my yarn and that is good enough for me. It will sit in a place of honor and glory in the studio at least as long as it takes something better to come along.

And my first singles made from Blue Face Leicester roving I got at Madrona. Admittedly I don't have much to compare to but what everyone says about the BFL is completely true. Soft and lovely and all things good in the world. I've heard, and it seems to be true, that it is a good fiber to learn on.

Yes those are knitting needles but they were free and fancy dancy noste pinnes are not; again with the budget. Besides there's a picture in The Bible of exactly the same thing. If Priscilla can do it so can I!

(will add pictures when blogger is done being cranky.)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

When it rains it pours.

With the completion of my last socks I only had one project on the needles, the Koigu Sweater that I refer to in my head as the Odysseus Sweater (The Odyssey is epic, this is epic, it made sense at the time). Thus in a panic I started a bunch of stuff including a made-up project that may or may not work, and the third installment of some pillows I am making for my brother and his fiancee as a wedding gift.

I made two a few months ago when I was all worried that I wouldn't finish in time. This was when I thought I might make something heirloomy and lacy, then I got more realistic. What newlywed couple honestly wants a useless, though beautiful, lace shawl? So here we are now with a month to go and it is time to finish the last one.

I held off on intarsia for a long time because I thought I wouldn't like it. I was all about the Fair Isle and felt that Fair Isle was by far superior to intarsia and would be the only colorwork technique for me. This is probably because the only intarsia I had really seen was great big stupid cats on the front of great big stupid sweaters. No one should have to wear that and no one should ever make that. Thus it was Fair Isle for me. These pillows though were so pretty and, let's be honest, I didn't have any other brilliant ideas for wedding gifts. Bride a Groom socks, no thank you.

Now I am in love. I love dropping one color and knowing it will be right where I left it, waiting for me when I come back. I love wrapping the new color around the old and most of all I love seeing one block of color and knowing it has two different sides. Intarsia is like playing on a team alone and I might just be addicted.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I see, said the blind man...

Dear Tina,

I love my new socks very much, your yarn is representative of all things good in the world. However, as much as my feet appreciate the warmth these socks will provide, my eyes say otherwise. I would, at your earliest convenience, very much like my vision back. The only way I can find my feet nowadays is by waving them in front of my eyes and looking for the red glow they emit while wearing these socks. It was only through sheer willpower and muscle memory that I managed to get through the last half of the second sock. Let's not mention the kitchener at the end, I'm not sure, but it's probably not pretty.

I'll make a deal with you Tina, but only because I like you so much. If you give me back my vision I'll forget about the broken camera lens. Get back to me when you get a chance and we'll talk details.

Yours sincerely,

yarn: BMFA STR Lightweight, this was a Mill End, but I'm pretty sure it's basically Sherbet. (I don't know why this is a mill end, if there are any knots they are in the last 11 grams, which seems unlikely.) I enjoyed the color, but it is not for the faint of heart, quite delightfully bright as it is.
needles: size 2 (I debated going down a size but I loved the spiral beyond words, so I kept it.)
pattern: Monkey by Cookie A. from Knitty.
notes: I did a short row heel because I loved the spiral action going on and I didn't want to interrupt it. The best part? somehow my heel and gauge and the planets all lined up such that there isn't a restarting of the spiral after the heel. I didn't have to shift the yarn or anything (I wouldn't have anyway, but it's pretty cool that I didn't have to not shift the yarn).

Saturday, May 19, 2007


I've been inspired recently by all the spinning going on. All I've done since I took a class is finish up the little bit of fiber we got in class. I just haven't been bothered to get out that fiber I bought awhile ago to spin once I learned how when this morning on the radio they did a whole segment about classical songs inspired by the spinning wheel. They had a lot of really good ones, one from the Flying Dutchman (which I'm going to in August) and that did it. Tomorrow the spindle comes back out along with that fiber. Judgement made.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


I have 36 grams of tofutsies left, and each sock only weighs about 30g. By my reckoning you could easily knit 3 pair of socks from 2 balls of tofutsies.

Monkey See, Monkey Do.

A full 5 days after I started, I'm finished.
Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A. from Knitty.
Yarn: South West Trading Company's Tofutsies. 50% wool, 25% soysilk, 22.5% cotton, 2.5% chitin.
Needles: size 2. I do everything on two circular needles. I haven't used dpns for about 4 years, and I've only been knitting for 5.
Notes: This pattern is great, easily memorized and very quick. It's a great pattern to show off handpainted and self striping yarns. On that note, this yarn and this pattern weren't necessarily made for each other. Only half the plies change colors, the other half stay the same throughout the entire ball. This makes for a tweedy look that I love, but does mar the pattern. The short of the long is that you have to get close up to really appreciate the pattern. Though, the sheer joy of knitting the pattern makes up for that.

Tofutsies makes a great drapy fabric, lovely and soft and all things good in the world. These are going to the be perfect warm weather socks, lightweight and not so much wool that they are too warm. My feet are loving them as we speak.
Let's enjoy the gusset. Ever since camp I've had almost perfect gussets. I even manage to get both sides to look the same. All you do is pick up all the stitches before knitting them, and make sure you twist them when you do knit them. On one side you pick up front to back and on the other back to front.
The only problem is that with this gauge the fabric on the bottom of the heel is doing that weird separating thing where the stitches get all stretched out. Does anyone know what I'm talking about?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


I ordered this yarn to make the Syncopated Cap from the new Interweave knits and it came yesterday. I was all excited about my color choices:

Then I saw this on my desk and I realized that I was all wrong and orange is really the color to go with Walking on the Wild Tide.

The question is not really whether or not to order more yarn, the question is whether or not I can justify it, and wait for it to arrive. I really want to make that hat.
In other news. I'm almost done with my second tofutsie Monkey sock, and I've already decided what my next pair will be made of:
This is a Socks that Rock Mill End I got at Camp Cockamamie, and I'm pretty certain it's basically the Sherbet colorway. I chose this one because I was all hopped up on expanding my color choices and I think the brilliant rays of color emanating from this did more than temporarily blind me. This is the brightest yarn I've ever owned and I'm really excited for my flourescent Monkey socks, here's hoping its not the last project I ever make.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Working Girl

So I got this job. I'm something of a professional seasonal employee, so I get a job about every 5 months, and this season it's on Lake Washington. Here's the view from my 'office':

I work at a fuel dock, basically a gas station for boats. The best part of this job is that I basically get paid to knit, at least while the weather is sort of crappy and business is slow. Thus, after working only 14 hours between Saturday and Sunday I have accomplished much.

Pattern: Flame Wave Socks by Ann Budd from Favorite Socks by Interweave Press. I made them basically as written.

Yarn: Cascade Fixation 98% Cotton, 2% elastic - 2 balls.

Needles: Sizes 4 and 5.

Notes: I was dubious about this yarn before I started working with it because of it's stretchiness. However, I found that I quickly settled into a not-to-tight, not-to-loose gauge and was on my merry way.
If it looks like one sock is longer in the leg than the other that's because it is. This yarn is a perfect example of why you should knit both socks at or near the same time. I knit one back in March before the first shipment of the Rockin' Sock Club arrived, then I got sidetracked and just finished the second one this weekend. The second sock is a full 6 grams lighter than the first, though I did the same number of repeats etc. This yarn in particular is easy to get a different gauge at different times without doing anything in particular differently.
I love the pattern, I think it is perfect for the indistinct stitches you get with the Fixation and I think it would be ideal to spice up a self-striping or handpainted yarn. The pattern is easily memorized and you're off. In the future I will alter the needle size, and not start with a bigger needle, but other than that I like it as is.
Then there's the true fruit of my labor. I merely finished the toe on the Flame Wave socks on Saturday, then I found myself without anything to while away the long hours until the shift change. Luckily I had brought the yarn for this:

Started on Saturday and finished on Sunday, all while getting paid, this is the best job ever. It's a Monkey sock by Cookie A. I've finally jumped on the bandwagon, though I still haven't made a pair of Jaywalkers, so some solidarity remains (at least until I finish the mate). Mine are out of the new Tofutsies from South West Trading Co.
I can't get enough of this yarn. I had read about it's splittiness and was a little worried, but I didn't have any more trouble with this yarn than I do with any other yarn. These are going to be the perfect warm weather socks. They are lighweight, and thin and super-duper soft. I want more than anything to have the second one done right now so I can wear them. The pattern is also a very quick knit, and as with all of Cookie A's things well written and easy to follow. The woman is a genius.

Friday, May 11, 2007

About 2 years ago my Aunt put in a special order or something of the sort for 13 hanks of koigu at her LYS. That's right, 13 hanks. This was long before I knew anything about the wonders of koigu or really about the internet knitting community. About 7 months ago that koigu finally came in and was presented to me with a pattern to use as an idea. Now that I have no other excuses, Christmas, weddings etc, I have hunkered down to knit the t-shirt type top that has been commissioned of me by my Aunt. I'm thinking a plain jane with a few interesting details. I don't know what those details will be, but hopefully I will when I come to them.

So this afternoon I cast on 296 stitches, a number I got using Elizabeth's Percentage System and my trusty gauge swatch. I happen to be one of those rare knitters who sort of loves the gauge swatch, but with something like this you really can't do anything without it. I've not yet used the EPS, so I'm interested to see how it goes.

Whenever I have to cast on massive amounts of stitches I put a marker every 50 stitches or so as I cast on. This way I only have to keep track of 50 stitches at at time, not 296.

Usually when I do hundreds of stitches at a time I do a knitted cast on, that way I don't have to worry about my tail being too short. This time, however, I did a long tail cast on for a k2 p2 rib. Basically you do the regular long-tail cast on for 2 stitches, then do it backwords for 2 stitches, this aligns the cast on for ribbing. Very clever, of course taken from Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmerman. I only had to do two tries, but I certainly cut it close:

Thursday, May 10, 2007


That's right folks, I'm done.

Pattern: Knee High to a Grasshopper by Chrissy Gardiner. I did the grasshopper size.

Yarn: Silkie Socks that Rock in Walking on the Wild Tide. The latest installment of my Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin' Sock Club.

Needles: Size 2 for the toe, sole, and heel, size 1 for all the lacy bits and the ribbing at the top.

Alterations: I didn't make very many significant alterations. I used Judy's Magic Cast On from Knitty, and Dumbledore himself would be proud of this cast on. I reccommend it to everyone for toe-up socks or anything resembling toe-up socks.
I added a 'design feature' on the toe as well by not knitting the extra four rows after reaching the right number of stitches. Some people on the Rockin' Sock Club blog have been worried about the lacy part rubbing up against toes, and if I had had more forethought or had read the pattern closer I probably wouldn't have this problem. We'll see if it turns out to actually be a problem.
I only did one set of increases, which I probably could have done without, because I was worried about the socks being too big. So far they are staying up just fine, but we'll see.
I also kept the twisted stitch seem all the way through the ribbing. I can't get enough of that seam, I love it and definitely think it makes these silky socks even sexier.

This silkie sock yarn though, holy cow my life is complete. I ordered some in the Titania colorway to make the Titania pattern, but with silk, thus making it even better. And don't get me started on this colorway. I love it. While I don't think I would have picked this one, I do think that I would have looked at it, admired it, thought about it, and then chosen something I liked just a little bit more. Yet another reason to join this club, I have colors and yarns forced upon me; this is good for me and my olive drab tendencies.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

6 things

Ever since I saw that '6 weird things about me' meme going around I wished I had a blog so I could broadcast to the world what is weird about me. Well now I have a blog, and I'm sure I'm going against some meme/blog etiquette here by not being tagged, but I'm going to tell you 6 weird things about me anyway.

1. I hate to say "Good morning." Hate it. Absolutely hate it. My hatred of saying good morning extends beyond my non-morning person morning grumpiness. Even after I've had breakfast and gotten dressed and I'm all awake I still hate to say good morning; I generally smile vaguely or say a quiet "Hello." There is no real reason for this and it is nothing personal.

2. My cat is generally uninterested in my knitting. This one isn't about me so much, but it is a bit weird. I have never once seen him even the slightest bit interested in anything being blocked on the floor, or drying on the rack, or even sitting around the house. As a result most of my knitting has very little cat hair adornment.

3. It wasn't until I read Stephanie Pearl McPhee's book, At Knits End, that I came across the idea of getting self striping socks to match. I never would have thought of it on my own, I just revel in the glory of almost matching socks; it didn't occur to me that this was a problem that needed fixing. I think this comes from my childhood spent wearing mis-matching socks and loving it; a new color with every step.

4. Everyone has their weird hang-ups, food or otherwise. Mine is floating bits of food in the dishwater; the idea of putting my hand in a sink full of water and floating bits of food and such to reach down and pull the drain is beyond repulsive. I will do many things to avoid this, and have become quite good at pulling the drain with a butter knife. To this end I avoid doing dishes, or do them quite wastefully with running water. (I am, however, very conservative in other water related aspects of my life.) Also brussel sprouts make me gag, I actually gag when presented with brussel sprouts.

5. I can't roll my tongue. I know this is hereditary, but my whole family can do it. They keep telling me I am who I think I am, but I think the evidence points to my being the last outpost of a dying Royal family somewhere on the verge of discovery and inheritance. I also cannot raise one eyebrow at a time.

6. When I was little (before I can remember consistently) the rule was that I had to sleep in my room. My parents weren't specific about where, jut in my room. About 4 nights out of the week my parents would find me sleeping in the doorway with my head in the hall, but the rest of me in my room. My room and hallway had two different colored carpets, so it was easy to tell where one ended and the other started. This went on for months and months. I couldn't tell you what I was thinking, sleeping on the carpet over a nice comfy bed, but who can really explain the actions of children?

Monday, May 7, 2007

I may have just ordered this and this to make one of these hats. Be still my heart.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

...and the little one said...

Finished my purse strap the other day and I have deemed it a success.


See the funny ridges? That's what you get when you make i-cord with the purl side out and felt it.

And with my new strap:

Yarn: Remnants of Jamieson and Smith and Rowan Harris Tweed. In a fit of cleverness I didn't weigh any of my bits of yarn before I used them, so I don't know how much exactly, but I would say 3-7 grams of each, depending on how prominent the color is.

Pattern: My own, tweaked from one of the ones in Inkle Weaving by Helene Bress.

Notes: I was hoping to have a strap about 1 1/2 inches wide, mine is 1 inch. My colors don't quite match my bag as well as I would like, but close enough for government work, the new strap definitely adds a level of pizazz that was missing before. The colors also don't have enough contrast. I should have mixed them up differently and put dark next to light, instead of light next to light etc.
There was also the strange phenomena of the stretch in the yarn. This yarn is so perfect for Fair Isle sweaters and such because if you have some puckering or your sweater comes out a little small you can get it wet and stretch it all into shape. You can get inches out of a Fair Isle sweater just by blocking it when wet. Anyway, typically when weaving on the inkle loom the warp sort of gets 'taken up' and you have to slide the tensioner arm in from time to time; the end result is actually shorter than the original warp. I never once had to give the warp some slack in this project. While there isn't any discernible difference between the beggining and the end of the piece this is still very strange and I wonder if it would have more effect on a longer project.
However, this was only a two evening enterprise and I learned/remembered a lot. This 'sticky' yarn is not ideal for inkle weaving, and a wider band probably would have been too much effort for the end result. I also have a much better idea of how colors will work together in the future and I'm oh so much closer to being able to produce an end result that is both predictable and what I want. Overall I feel very successful and I'm not ashamed to use this bag with this strap as my everyday purse, and thats all that counts, really.

And in other news, a trip to the hardware store today warranted this:

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Inkle Weaving

So I have this purse. I like everything about it except the strap. The strap is regular old i-cord, except that in a moment of genius I made the i-cord purl side facing out. I think I did this because I made the bag purl side out so I thought the i-cord should match. What I ended up with was a ridiculous strap with all these ridges in it that I hate. The strap is also too skinny, it is time for a new strap. Enter the Inkle Loom.

Inkle weaving is something that dates back to my childhood (really it dates back to something like the 17th century, but who's counting?). Every other summer my family and I would spend a week at an old mining camp in the Cascades that the Lutheran Church owns called Holden Village. It's a pretty crunchy place and several trips in a row I took a class and made something on the inkle loom. The nature of the loom limits you to strips about 3" wide or less, so really I made belts and funny hair bands. The point of it all is that at an early age I learned this skill and sort of got it into my head that you can only make basically useless things in garish colors on the inkle loom. This was further cemented when I worked at a summer camp a few years ago and they did inkle weaving with a selection of primary colors (think the small box of crayola crayons). Don't get me wrong, I love primary colors, but if that's all you have it can seem a bit limiting. Not to mention that basically the only book on the subject was written in the 70s, with some delightful color photos.

Despite my inkle upbringing I've had it in the back of my mind for some time that the inkle loom would be a good way to make purse straps. I guess I just never really did it, until a couple days ago. Since I don't have cones and cones of cotton on hand (the only stuff I've ever used on an inkle loom) I dove in with what I do have that matches my purse: a lot of leftover Jamieson and Smith and Rowan Harris Tweed (now Rowan Scottish Tweed) from various Fair Isle ventures. I also went to a LYS and bought some Jamieson and Smith off a cone for on $2.20 an ounce. Let me tell you, if you want to experiment and don't want to invest a lot of money, buying yarn off the cone is the way to go. Then I set to designing, I tweaked a design in the book slightly and set to warping. In all my cleverness I didn't take any pictures during the warping, but you basically wrap one strand at a time and either put it through a heddle or make it open depending on the pattern. When you are done with one color you break it and tie on the next using a square knot.

Thus you are able to go from this:

To this:

Then you weave. This is pretty easy, you *push the warp up to create a shed, beat your shuttle down and pull through, push the warp down to create another shed, beat your shuttle down and pull through, repeat from *. This simultaneously creates a warp facing fabric and exhausts my knowledge of weaving. There is a very good tutorial here for those interested.

Push warp up, beat shuttle down and pull through

Push warp down, beat shuttle down and pull through.

My first few rows always look a look a little wonky, but that sorts it out soon enough.

Soon you have the beginning of a new purse strap.

When your weaving gets to where you can't make a shed anymore you simply pull the warp around until you have plenty of empty warp and your woven material has moved around through the loom. This tutorial is significantly better than the one I just gave and if you are interested in more detail you really should go there.
I quickly learned why cotton is the medium of choice for inkle weaving teachers (or the ones I had anyway), it is a strong slippery yarn. Every time you push your warp up or down half the strands pass through the other half, so sticky yarns (like Jamieson and Smith) that are so good for Fair Isle because they felt easily and the ends don't slip out on steeks and such, are not so good for weaving of this sort. I seem to be managing okay for this project, but for my next one I think I'll try some smoother yarn, and maybe a little more contrast between colors. Did you see all three shades of purple in there? Yeah, me neither.
My loom is a Schacht Inkle Loom. I don't know where I got it and I honestly couldn't pin down a year of purchase if I wanted to, but I would venture to say it's been around my house for 10 years or so.
Anyone interested in trying weaving but doesn't have room for a huge loom should try this, while you are limited on size it is a great way to explore weaving and all it's possibilities. I have to admit that while I enjoy knitting immensely I have never really thought of it as theraputic, maybe because I am generally not a stressful person. Weaving though, what zen! I didn't think I was terribly tensed or stressed out or anything unusual when I started weaving this, but man, a few passes of my shuttle and I felt very calm and zen and like I could go on forever. I may have to pull out that lap loom I have hiding in the back of the closet somewhere. (Why all the looms you ask? Very supportive parents who also enjoy some fiber arts.)