December 30, 2014

The Only Thing I've Accomplished

I may have gotten little accomplished otherwise, but in the past week I've seemed to have gotten a lot of knitting done while everything went to shit. Well, ok, I also got my car back to street legal in the same time period, but the knitting didn't cost me $670 either.

You know what...I take my surprise back.  As I worked furiously on this hat:

Pattern here
and this cowl:

I start with this pattern, but I always add 20 stitches.  Honestly, there's a bunch of similar patters on's basic seed stitch in-the-round.
and this hat:

My own pattern...may write it up quick and dirty and release it as a free one...we'll see.

and started these things:

and messing around trying to plan a slightly more complicated pattern, I wondered to myself why I suddenly got more productive.  How did I finish a double layer color-work hat in four days, and a single layer one in the same amount of time (and the single layer one took that long only because that was my third attempt and I made up the pattern)?  Ok, sure, I did take two hour long trips on a bus and have to wait an hour dealing with my car, but that's not the complete story.

The complete story is that because things hit a iffy point elsewhere, I got more productive.  You see, yarn crafting is my crutch.  It's the one thing that, even when I want to throw it across the room, I'm still more successful in than anything else.  Because when I can't move forward and Murphy's Law is in play, I can usually still successfully make a hat.  A color-work hat (thanks to my knitting group for turning me onto that obsession at the moment...the first hat was one of our KAL choices).  A double-sided color-work hat with humping reindeer on the inside:

In which I can sub DK weight in for worsted and only screw up the math (because where was I when I thought 32 went into 112?) , and aggressively block it because it's still small fits.  Mostly. And if I really do screw up, it's just yarn, and you can just rip it out. It won't screw me over irreparably or have legal ramifications. It can be annoying but not as annoying as some other things I have to deal with.

Sometimes, that makes all the difference.

P.S.: My mom's sweater, while still damp when I took it with me, did survive the trip and was dry enough to give her that night. My sister's socks fit her, and she was so busy talking about how she loved socks that my mom had to remind her why this was her first knitted pair.  I think I may be able to get away with sock weight yarn next time...

December 19, 2014

Just One More Problem

The good news is that I got all the knitting done I needed for people's presents.

The bad news is I miscalculated.  You see, when I said 'I need to get this done by next weekend'. I was thinking 'I need to finish knitting this by next weekend'. Make sense, right?  Just one little issue: everything also needs to be blocked.  Well, since I got everything done by Thursday, I was able to start blocking it all:

But I forgot something.  My mom's sweater, made out of nice warm alpaca-silk yarn that is brittle when wet?  That one?  Takes forever to dry.  It's been sitting out there since Wednesday night and it is still wet. 

I have to pack it up tomorrow morning.  It may have to be in a bag in my knitting bag, the way this is going, and even that's going to be an iffy trip.  Even though I'm hoping re-purposing my space heater as a blow dryer for it will dry it....naw, I'm screwed.

December 13, 2014

Me? Learn? Never...

The computer ate my yarn again:

And I have no excuse, because I just bought the switch I needed.  I really should shove the computer under the desk.

But not right now.  Because the yarn broke free on it's own and there's still a bit wrapped around the fan:

However, the fan's still running, so I'll get it out when I turn off the computer. Serves me right for knitting with a long tail around the computer again.

So getting that out was a little harder than last time. Since this yarn was much skinnier, the yarn had got into the joint of the fan, and even with the top off I couldn't get a good angle to grab the yarn through the fan.  So I had to open up my computer and de-attach the fan to reach it:

Remember people: unplug the computer first and make sure you stay grounded.  Don't want to electrocute yourself or one of the boards.

I'm still lucky this case is pretty easy to mess with.  Then again, I wouldn't have this problem if it wasn't a custom case...oh well.

December 12, 2014

Trying Not to Get My Hopes Up

For a week or two there, I was under the impression that I would get everything done in time for Hanukkah. Then I was under the impression that I would never get close to getting my sister's socks done, so I started putting more effort into that and less into my mom's sweater.  Now I'm left a bit of a conundrum.

To start, Hanukkah technically starts on the 16th, but I'm not going to see my family until later, so I have a little more time than that (so, lets say I have about 10 days, max).  However, I also have a lot to do.  It is better place than I was expecting to be, but still not done, or close to it.  Believe it or not, this is the first time I've run the risk of missing a present deadline*.  I did get my brother's socks done at least:

Patten I used was Mr. Pitt's Socks, using a Zauberball.  I really could have dropped a needle size for it to be better, but my brother just trashes things anyway and they fit.
However, my sister's socks were a bit more of a hassle than what I was expecting.  To give a bit of background, one of my sisters loves crazy and colorful socks.  You'd think she'd be the perfect person to knit socks for.  Nope.  She told me years ago when I started knitting that she doesn't want knit socks; she hates hand-made socks.  At the time I left that statement as is.

This year, at Rhinebeck (yes, I went.  No, I doubt I'll be doing a debrief this year), my sister finally explained why.  She associates hand-knit socks with the only pair of hand-made socks she's ever gotten -- a wonky pair of worsted-weight acrylic crochet socks my mom made when we were younger (and promptly had a crisis in confidence about, so she went back to making blankets).  After a discussion where I assured her that knitted socks were usually nothing like that and I could even use lighter yarn than normal 'sock weight', and yes I'd make sure they were the same size...she picked out a skein of lace weight sparkly yarn for me to make socks out of:

This is Star Dust Lace by Bittersweet Woolery in colorway Cirrus
A couple of things turned out to be true about this yarn:
  • It is nice and soft.
  • The tinsel that makes it sparkly does like to stick out of the sock a bit when you knit with it.
  • It is really thin and fluffy
  • It has magical gauge properties that make everything wear bigger than the measurements suggest.
  • It requires a size US000 (that is not a typo) needle to work in a close enough gauge for socks.
It's the magical gauge properties that got me the most.  There are very few patterns for lace-weight socks (gee, I wonder why). Which is normally fine, since as long as there's no crazy patterning in the sock, I can adjust  it to my gauge.  But when you pair that with magic gauge properties and patterns that have a large end up ripping stuff out a lot.

You see, I first chose this pattern.  I thought it would work; even though it's a 16 stitch repeat, the math seemed to work out on it using the gauge I was getting in my swatch (which I even knit in the round!).  So I started.  I even tried a picot edge instead of the ribbing, thinking that would look cuter (my sister does cute). In the gauge I was using, the picot hem edging took forever and then I started on the pattern and...way too big.  It was too big for me, let alone my sister. Knowing I had to get this right and give socks that fit, I ripped out and dropped a repeat of the pattern.  I also did a k3, p2 ribbing instead.  That seemed nice, and a went for awhile with that, but the voice in my head kept nagging me about how it still felt too big.  It was ok for me, but would it stretch out too much because of the lace?  Would it grow when being worn? It was already on the edge of too big for my sister and...I gave up and ripped it out.  Due to the large repeat in the pattern, I really couldn't make it smaller comfortably. However, the pattern looked amazing in the yarn, I have to say, so I was sad it didn't work.

Since time was of the essence, I quickly went to my backup pattern, which is this one.  It seems to work, but I wasn't sure if I felt that way because the colors were similar and I could picture it in the yarn I had, or it would really work.  At least this kept the cute lace only on top, where fit wouldn't be as big of an issue. The ribbing would keep the rest snug.  So I went with the same stitch count I did for the smaller sock (which -1 ease, supposedly, though it doesn't look like it) and started.

Now I have a sock:

Yes, it looks small, but it stretches...if it wasn't shorter than my foot, I could wear it.
A couple of things about this pattern, though:
  • The lace is nice, but very fiddly, at least in this gauge.  
  • The yarn doesn't work as well for the lace as I would have hoped (the color changes obscure the pattern a bit), but it's good enough.
  • Once you get past the lace, it is smooth sailing. It took me two days to do the small lace top, and 8 days to do the rest of the sock, and part of that is simply life getting in the way.
  • Even though I changed the ribbing to be k6, p2 (mainly because p1's always look like crap when I do them; I can't seem to tighten them up enough), the damn sock still feels big to me.  The ribbing helps a bit, but not as much as I would have hoped.  I think it's just the yarn and it's light soft fluffy quality.  Nothing's going to feel tight using this stuff.

So...can I get it done?  Well, this is where I am now with the second one:

Almost done with the lace part.  So the possible answer is yes.  However, it will most likely be at a price:

I still haven't finished my mom's sweater.  I've been working on that collar for more than a week, and by working I mean mostly ignoring it and working on the sock.  So the socks may get done, and the sweater may get done, but I don't know if both will get done in time...

Better start working on it then, I guess.

*[Wait, I take that back.  I did almost miss a deadline for presents before.  The first time I made my mom socks, I was quickly finishing them and blocking them before I left her house so she could have them during Hanukkah...and the only reason I succeeded was because the yarn I had used for the provisional cast on matched the sock yarn, so I wove in the ends and left it there instead of making the sock longer. The socks were wet when I left, but they were done!]