Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Socked In

Totally. When I woke up this morning the mountains and glacier were completely obscured by clouds. It's been grey and drippy and more or less socked in all day long. So, naturally, I bring you socks:

I love this yarn! These are my first socks knit with Socks That Rock yarn, but certainly they won't be my last. It's a joy to knit with this yarn and on both socks I knit from cast on to toe without finding any flaws or knots. This is my particular pet peeve- having to cut my yarn and rejoin because of yarn imperfections - and a yarn gets high marks from me based on knotfree-ness alone.

The best thing about these socks is what I learned while knitting them.

I've been knitting a long time. I thought I knew a thing or two. I really thought I knew what a pattern meant by "pick up and knit." I thought you always used yarn other than the working yarn to create stitches and that on subsequent rows, you knit those new stitches. Something like this. And then I starting knitting Nancy Bush socks and reading Knitting On The Road. I've seen the light, I'm a new woman. Hallelujah!

Since making this discovery for myself, I've noticed that other knitters already seem to know this bit of wisdom. Not all maybe, but many. I don't know how it is that it's taken me so long to stumble upon it.

It's so simple too. Knitting on the Road shows a couple of variations. I went with "..pick up the front half of the chain stitches and knit through the back loop, the stitches will be tighter and there will be no gaps that may otherwise appear along the sides of the flap." And then I went on to follow further advice for gappy joins between gusset and instep stitches. This woman is a genius and I will never look back. It was the one thing that used to annoy me about knitting socks. I'd get a gorgeous heel going and then invariably I'd have some wonky gap that would bug me until the sock was done and I could work some magic while weaving in the extra ends I'd created by picking up stitches. Never again. There are no wonky gaps. AND there are no extra ends. I only had two ends to weave in per sock. (This alone is worth the price of the book.)

I have to point out though, even Nancy Bush couldn't save me from myself. If you look closely at this photo, you will notice that the gusset decreases in the top sock are twisted. Apparently I had a short circuit while working the first sock and on my "sl1, k1, psso" decrease, I slipped purlwise. I can live with this as no one is going to be scrutinizing my ankles while I'm wearing these socks (or any other time really, those days are long past.)

Oak Ribbed Socks
Yarn: Socks That Rock, in Carbon
Needles: US 1, dpns
Pattern: Oak Ribbed Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush
Modifications: I did a standard toe shaping, kitchenered at the end, rather then the round toe for which this pattern called.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Pretty In Pink

Don't be fooled by the sunlight on this hat. I finished knitting and photographed it while still in California. Skies are currently grey here in Juneau, Alaska, as they have been since we got back.

This hat is for my Team Alaska Chemo Cap project. Our hats will be going to the Cancer Connection here in Juneau.

Pink Hat With Ruffle Specs:
Yarn: Knit Picks Shine Sport in Coral/Crystal Palace Waikiki for ruffle and flower garnish
Needles: US 3 (I used two addi circs)
Pattern: Just a basic hat, though I was pleased to work out the ruffle-y bit on my own

I love the way this hat looks sitting on the deck and the yarn is soft as butter. I can only hope it looks good on someone's head one day. I am so *NOT* a hat person, I am not a good judge.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Nobody Panic

Just because it's the day after solstice. Just because we are on the wrong end of June regarding daylight acquisition. Just because we already have 8 seconds less daylight today than we did yesterday and tomorrow will have 18 seconds less than today. Just because there was a fresh dusting of snow on top of Mt. McGuinness this morning. There is no need to panic, people. Summer is just beginning, RIGHT??

Still I think a Pick-Me-Up is in order. Without further ado, I bring you my recent yarn purchases:

Though I visited Skein Lane in El Cerrito no less than three times while in California, I had the hardest time buying yarn there. I was too distracted by the warm welcome I got from Carolyn Pugh, owner and mentor. For three years I spent Thursday evenings happily knitting in her company, and it was so wonderful to get a chance to visit with her.

In the end I bought an Elizabeth Zimmerman book I've been wanting and some beautiful Claudia Hand Painted Yarns. It's a Koigu-like 100% merino wool sock yarn in a beautiful and subtly variegated forest green that refused to be accurately photographed.

I found these beauties at Stash. I'm proud to say that my purchases there only exceeded the outstanding balance on a long-held gift certificate by $2. How's that for sensible yarn shopping??

The red yarn on the cone is Habu Textiles Geelong Lamb Wool. I have 808 yards and am hoping that is enough to make a small Icarus Shawl from the current IK.

I couldn't resist adding to my sock yarn stash with two gorgeous skeins of Shepherd Sock Superwash in Watercolor.

And finally, at Ball & Skein& More in Cambria, CA, I bought two skeins of Cash Iroha in a husband-approved color as I think maybe he'll get a new hat for this winter. I'm considering making the Ganomy Hat from the EZ book I purchased.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Home Again

We're back in Juneau, safe and sound after a wonderful visit to California. Dear friends and family, sunshine and good restaurants .. oh and some yarn store visiting too.

I had the best fun and laughter and love-filled Mom's Night Out with the most wonderful group of women anywhere - the best friends a girl could hope to have (and it turns out, some of my favorite lurkers). The next day, in the midst of a larger get together at the community pool, I found my self in a mini knitting circle with (blogless) Helen from my old Thursday night group and Amputeehee. What a treat! Thanks so much for coming to see us. I'm going to save news about my Yarn store visits and purchases for another time because I'm finally at liberty to display Judy's Birthday Socks:

I've been keeping quiet about them since unveiling the yarn I Kool-Aid dyed on Mother's day, because I didn't want to ruin the surprise. Her birthday is still a week away, but since I had the opportunity to deliver them in person, I gave them to her ahead of schedule.

It's not exactly sock-wearing season in California (let alone wool-sock-wearing season), but I think they were much appreciated anyway. Judy even claims to like the persistent grape smell .. she's that kind of friend. We had a wonderful visit complete with family time and time spent lingering late into the night over tea, at her kitchen table, much like old times. I miss you already, Judy!!

Judy's Socks' Specs:
Yarn: Dale Baby Ull Superwash Wool. Two 50 gram balls which began as Mid-Grey
Dyed: With Kool-Aid. I used 6 packets of Lemon-Lime and 5 each of theBerry Blue and Grape.
Needles: US 1 dpns
Pattern: Ann Norling's Basic Adult Socks

When all was said and done, I was VERY pleased with how well the stripes matched. I was afraid they wouldn't so I knit each sock from it's own ball, thinking it would be better if the pattern was at least consistent within each sock. Their "matching-ness" was a happy surprise.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Heading South ..

.. just for a brief sojourn in CA .. I'll be back. I wanted to leave some killer knitting photos on my last pre-trip post, so you'd be breathlessly awaiting my return. Alas, though I have been knitting, I don't have much of interest to show.

The rest of the family thinks we're going to see dearly beloved and greatly missed friends and family. You and I know the truth .. we're going to buy yarn. To keep up the ruse, I've been scheduling visits and filling every available minute so we can see as many of these special people as possible. I'm starting to face up to the fact that once I finally set foot in a yarn store, I'm going to have precious little time. I'm going to have to move quickly. This is not how I like to buy yarn. I fondle, I peruse, I fondle some more and wander and think. I'm actually not so good at just buying what I love without a project in mind. I seem to be lacking some basic stash-building gene. I get immobilized and I remember other impulsive purchases that began without a destination and are still wandering the desert...

For example, this yarn was purchased
over 20 years ago, during my
first Juneau phase. I had gotten "out" -
that is, made a trip to the "lower 48"
and impulsively bought this yarn just
because I loved it. It's 100% silk,
Italian spun boucle and s dusky teal
color that I still like. It's supposed to
knit up at 5-7 stitches per inch and
I have 1400 yards of it. But I've never
figured out what to do with it.

Any suggestions?

So if I'm going to acquire some stash on this trip, I need a plan. I need a list.
  1. Sock yarn. This I can buy without guilt because it says here that sock yarn doesn't count as stash and I, for one, believe what I read.
  2. Books. These also don't count as stash and I'm thinking there are a few I might need.
  3. A Lace Project. I'm aching to start a shawl.
  4. Stash for hats and mittens and scarves. I'd really like to adorn my family in handknits for next winter .. and that means starting soon.
  5. More stash, for umm, rainy days?
I leave you with the view from our front yard. Beautiful (though not well captured) even on a grey and cloudy day:

This is the glacier that left the rock that sits in the yard and under the yarn that Kathy bought. I like the rock. You've seen it before. You'll see it again. If I'm lucky, maybe with some new stash atop it.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Hat And 1/3

I put the Wobbly Tote bag on hold for a few days to let my thoughts about the handles simmer. Thanks so much to Gale and DipsyD for the input. Having left my flesh and blood knitting community behind when we moved to Juneau (10 months ago!), it's very gratifying to now have a cyber knitting community. I'll get back to the tote shortly, and I think I will add just a few stitches to the buttonhole and then a few more to the handles themselves. Keep your fingers crossed!

SO for a diversion and some quick knitting gratification I dug through the stash, pulled out some Lamb's Pride worsted weight, and knit up a quick hat to send to the Dulaan Project. I've been meaning to do this for ages and the deadline is fast approaching. Last night I asked my 12.5 year old what he thought of the finished hat. Once assured it was not for him, he said he liked it. Apparently we've never let him get cold enough to appreciate a good, solid wool hat, no matter how brightly colored.

While in hat mode I also started a chemo cap for my TeamAlaska Community Project. I'm using ShineSport from Knitpicks and I'm loving this yarn. I washed and dried a little swatch and it came out beautifully. Mmm .. and so soft!

Dulaan Hat Specs:
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Worsted
Needles: US 7 - I did this in the round on 2 addi circulars
Pattern: None .. just a basic hat that's sure to fit someone. I cast on 80 stitches and started with a 2x2 rib.