Sunday, April 30, 2006

Threat-down: moths

Someone has put the fear of moths into me*. This is new, now that I'm a knitter. Before, when I saw a moth, I just felt sorry for the poor lost creature. (Sometimes later I'd feel sorry for poor me, as the cat will spend multiple days standing on his hind legs on the TV, yowling at a moth on the ceiling. Technically, he doesn't do this continuously; sometimes he falls off.)

The point of this is that today I saw a moth fluttering around inside the house, awakening an unfamiliar urge to organize. I encased all my precious moth-food inside every plastic bag I could find in the house. (I even sorted the odds and ends and labelled their bags, even though most of them still have their ball-bands attached.)

I then encased the yarn in a plastic bin. Yes, this is every last bit of my stash, except for the alpaca that I'm knitting right now. If I was too late for that, there may be screaming to rival kitty's whiny hunting call. I'm posting this picture to prove to Krista that my stash doesn't rival this knitter's. I know those of you with a Real Stash are laughing at us right now, because we have no idea what we are getting into here if we think this is a lot of yarn.

At least I have an ally in my fight against these little intruders. I may be a vegetarian, but they're a tasty snack to my furry friend.

* This someone has several formulas for estimating the sizes of body parts based on the size of other body parts. I have to say that I feel like (even more of) a freak, now. For example, my foot size is off by nearly 1.5". At least this reminds me about one of the lovely things about knitting: I can actually make things in my size!

Friday, April 28, 2006

You know you're a knitter when... may be just over the freezing point of water, but you'll only turn on the heat because you need to dry your knitting out.

Yes, that's another swatch in the foreground. I swear I'm not cheating on my "one pair of socks, one small-needle project, one big-needle project" rule; I need to order some needles for this and my birthday present to myself. Three cheers for anyone who guesses what I'm swatching for. (Hint: I've never knit garter stich before. Boy does that feel weird!)

BTW, we loved meeting some of you yesterday at the cafe (and Krista's 11-year-old puppy enjoyed licking one of you. We're planning to make this a regular informal Thursday night occurrence. Krista and I are both moving in the next few months, so we may be in and out of town a bit, but we'll try to warn you if neither of us will be there (plus, that shouldn't stop you from knitting!). Thursday nights at 7:30pm at Te Cafe. If anyone's bored, I'm planning to go to the Knit One pattern exchange from 7-9pm tonight. Frankly, I think people are going to be trying to exchange some really terrible patterns; it'll be amusing. It will probably also be amusing to see the effect wine will have on people's knitting. My desire to go may or may not also be motivated by the large pile of homework I need to grade.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Big Bad Baby Blanket - err, maybe towel?

I didn't bother to knit a gauge swatch for the Big Bad Baby Blanket, cause really, who cares? But upon blocking, I discovered that I've knit a (rather attractive, anyway) adult-sized Big Bad Baby Towel. I think it'll be nice for my friend to put the baby down on the floor, at least! The baby was born last Friday, in NC, and mom and baby girl are both doing great.

Before washing, Norton enjoyed a snuggle under the Towel:
After washing, Norton tried to "help" in blocking by walking all over the Towel, repeatedly, with muddy paws, but here's a dog-free picture of the Towel, blocking on top of a real towel (man, it's HUGE, isn't it!)!
(will try to get a better picture when the rain stops). (norton is STILL trying to walk on the blocking towel).

(I wanted to add some back story on the yarn. This is the "Pound of Love" acrylic baby yarn you can buy at Joann's or whatever, and it was my second ever yarn purchase. I started trying to make it probably 3 years ago, when my SIL was pregnant with my younger nephew, but I could NOT figure out the seed stitch. So I threw it in my "yarn odds and ends" box and forgot about it until I was destashing a few months ago! I love it when you rediscover old stuff and find that your skills have caught up to the pattern. The yarn isn't the softest thing in the world, but it's totally fine to knit with, and it went through the wash 100% unscathed, which will make baby vomit removal easy -and really, isn't that what all new mothers want?)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Pittsburgh knitters - see you Thursday?

In the interest of meeting some of you lovely Pittsburgh knitters who have been commenting, and getting together with some we have previously met and would love to see again, we (Lea and I) are hosting a small to medium knitting get together on Thursday night. We'll meet at the Te Cafe, a new and fabulous place on the corner of Murray and Beacon in Squirrel Hill, at around, hmm, 7:30. Hope to see you then!

Happy birthday to me!

For my birthday, I got a wonderful present: my three-day-long migraine stopped. Yay! In the knitting department, I started the sleeves for my alpaca wrappy sweater (after getting how to knit two sleeves on two circular needles through my thick (and pained) skull).

Krista, her husband, and my sister gave me some great knitting books (Krista made me promise to share :) ). Sure, the one on top there isn't traditionally considered a knitting book, but now we can answer all those questions that people come to this blog for. For example, did you know that the females and young lived in family groups, while the males wander around on their own? Now, go forth and win at Trivial Pursuit!

Two socks (or sleeves) on two circular needles

It turns out that when I have a three-day migraine, I'm not smart enough to read directions on the internet. Then again, the directions weren't the clearest things I've seen. So, just in case someone else is trying to figure out the 2 socks on 2 circular needles or the 2 sleeves on 2 circular needles, I'll give you a quick runthrough using two different coloured needles and two different colours of yarn so you don't have to keep asking "you knit who with the what now?" If you don't care how to do this or already know how, just ignore this post.

I'll refer to my needles as wood and plastic (Denise), and I'm using red and yellow yarns (why yes, they are leftovers from a massive Gryffindor scarf). I'm sorry about the photo quality, but I took these when the sun wasn't really up yet, so I didn't have much light; they should be clear enough to show what I'm doing. They're all shown in small-size here, but you can click on them for a larger version.

This tutorial shows how to cast on two tubes on your two needles. Just for clarity, I'll repeat the steps with my needles/yarn:

  1. Cast on all red stitches (for first tube) onto the plastic needle.

  2. Slip half of the red stitches to the wood needle.

  3. Push these stitches to the other end of the needles.

  4. On the same side as in step 1, cast on all yellow stitches (for second tube) onto the plastic needle.

  5. On the same side as in step 2, slip half of the yellow stitches onto the wood needle.

Now, to knit the tubes. There is a tutorial for this, but I found it unclear until I figured out what the heck I was doing. Then again, this might have had something to do with the migraine, but I hope these pictures will get the point across more clearly. (Then I'd check back with the other tutorial, because she has a lot of tips in there.) The big idea is this: switch yarn, then switch needles, then switch yarn, then switch needles. It's kinda like the KP-PK mantra for Kitchener stitch. Whenever you're knitting with one needle, just ignore the other one (leave the stitches on the cord).

  1. So, we start with the red tube. Knit the red stitches with the plastic needle,

    ending up in between the red and the yellow stitches.

  2. Switch yarns: knit the yellow stitches with the plastic needle.

  3. Switch needles: knit the yellow stitches with the wood needle.

  4. Switch yarns: knit the red stitches with the wood needle.

There, now you've completed a round on both tubes.

Keep doing that until you're bored. (Don't forget to pull your yarn snug every time you switch yarns or needles, so you don't end up with a ladder!) Good luck!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Quicker knits: Rogue

After all these socks (size 1 needles) and the wrappy sweater (size 3 needles), Rogue (on size 8s) feels like quite a quick knit! I started it while I was deciding what sort of sleeves I should knit for the wrappy sweater, and it's just been flying by. I finished the section knit in the round (Chart A).

I'm knitting Rogue out of Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran in Quartz. (Judging by Google's results, this is certainly a popular yarn for this sweater!) Because I couldn't find any reasonable pictures of the colour on the web, I am trying to be accurate here: it's an eggplant purple, but of pretty low saturation, so cables show up just fine. The operative word for this yarn is cuddly. Wearing this is like wearing a fluffy hug. (So sue me, I'm a sucker for "warm" and "soft".)

While this pattern does have waist shaping, I've added some more, as well as some extra room in the bust.

If anyone's been thinking about knitting Rogue, you can get a feel for the cables by knitting a Celtic cap. The cables are quite similar, and both patterns are very well written. You can't blame Jenna for the hem; I was trying something out that isn't in the pattern. If it doesn't work out after blocking, I'll just rip the hem out and reknit it in the opposite direction.

And now for the tool time section of this project: my new Denise needles and stitch markers. I'll reserve judgment on the needles for now (annoyance of the stickiness seems to be outweighed in some conditions by the cool features), but the stitch markers are unreservedly cool. The generous Melissa gave some to both me and Krista because we donated a few bags of yarn to charity.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Finished socks, and spring has sprung!

Finally finished Mr Sock and his buddy - they've been my travel project for a while, since I've been working on the Big Bad Baby blanket at home. Holy pooling on the right toe, huh?

I must admit to being one of the people on Sunday's outing who loved playing with the GPS toy and thought it was all very fun. Spring has sprung in Pittsburgh, and I would love anyone who can help me identify these two flowering things.

Sock length contest -- last chance!

I'm sorry for the delay. My fiance and I have been trying to make Major Life Decisions (besides the "shall we marry?" one, which we took care of quite a while ago). This isn't helped by that whole "work" concept. I do have more knitting to show, that will have to wait a bit; today, we will talk about Mr. Sock. Mr. Sock is very dissapointed that he hasn't been moving along very fast, due to the lack of job interviews, so the blog crew (and our signifigant others) took him geocaching this weekend.

I don't know about Mr. Sock, but the whole thing seems to me like an elaborate reason to combine scrambling at random through scratchy underbrush with technological toys. I'm not convinced that this is superior to just going out and hiking, but certain people certainly liked the toys.

Speaking of toys, another certain someone wanted to help with the pictures.

Just after this picture was taken, kitty batted the ball of yarn away from me, picked it up in his pointy little teeth, and tried to run with it. He was pretty surprised that when one jumps off a high surface with a ball of yarn, the other end of that yarn may still be attached to something larger than oneself. In any case, we have reached zero-station with regards to this sock. I've asked before for estimates of how far 50 grams of sock yarn goes. This is your last chance to guess. If you're closest, I'll send you 100g of sock yarn, so you can repeat the experiment in the name of scientific accuracy.

This second view is really just to show off how cute the lace motif looks on this sock. The rectangular toe is quite comfortable, though it could use a few more stitches in width. Note that my ankles are not usually puffy and red, so I wouldn't take that into account in making your estimate. This is simply a side effect of not properly tigtening my hiking boots, as I didn't think that "geocaching" meant "using one's ankles to drive one's boots into loose scree". After last summer's lesson in extreme stupidity, I think my ankles are premptively trying to warn me off.

Ready? Set? Guess away!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Knitting the Geek, Part 1

I've said in the past that I consider knitting to essentially be an engineering problem: how to achieve a certain shape using a certain yarn and a certain number of stiches as tools, under the constraints of gravity and so forth. I don't believe this is a common view in the knitting community (although perhaps the enduring popularity of EZ would say otherwise). In any case, I was thrilled to find some knitters even geekier than I am, knitting some fascinating things. I'll continue to post these occasionally, so please let me know if you too are "knitting the geek."

Everyone's seen a Moebius scarf (even my mom saw one in a knitting store and has wanted one rather badly ever since). A Moebius strip has only one side, and only one edge. Another one-sided surface with zero volume is (when this four-dimensional surface is immersed in three dimensions and made of glass) a Klein bottle*. It turns out that you can actually knit a Klein bottle hat. Just be careful when knitting: it's a surface that never ends!

* Funny story about Klein steins (drinking mugs in the shape of a Klein bottle): both my fiance and I seriously (and independently) considered buying these for each other as gifts, before deciding that they were too expensive. Sometimes we're so compatible it's spooky.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

It's grey! It's fuzzy! It ... has no arms

Well, I'm starting to "get there" on the wrappy grey sweater. Ignore how the hem looks right now, since I haven't stiched it yet. I also realize it's a bit difficult to see all the shaping, as I'm holding the sweater closed with my other arm in the air. (I'll try for better pictures next week, when I have someone to help me.) Still, I promise it's looking good. In retrospect, it might have been helpful to add short-row bust shaping (this will probably hold for anything I ever knit that goes over my bust and does not include such shaping), but I have all kinds of ideas to turn that from a bug to a feature.

I still have a bit of work to do on the sweater body (sew hem, shape back of neck, graft shoulders), but I'm thinking ahead to the design of the arms. Originally, I thought that slightly belled sleeves (like those on Tubey) would look nice, but I'm also considering more fitted sleeves. Any thoughts? I also haven't decided what to do with my dark grey contrast colour. I need to figure this out before I start the sleeves!

A certain someone around here has been oh-so-helpful during the blocking process. Apparently he heard through the internet about the cat who snacks on Addi Turbo cables; mine are no longer safe!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Everyone loves knitwear... even the TSA

As Dana asked about plane knitting, I figured I might as well share what I've learned in the last few weeks.

First, knitting needles are no longer prohibited in the US, and I've never had mine confiscated in Canada either. However, knitting supplies are only permitted to the extent to which you don't look threatening; the screeener can confiscate anything s/he chooses. A short list of things that the screeners may or may not find threatening:

  • >30" circular needles
  • metal needles
  • big needles
  • dusty shoes

Seriously, what you need to do is the same as what you always need to do: be friendly, look non-threatening, carry non-threatening implements, and don't run into a screener having a bad day. (Why yes, I do have some stories, but not about knitting needles per se.) I especially don't believe they'd confiscate flexible plastic sock needles, so that's mostly what I've been using. I have travelled with pretty long Addi circulars, but they were size 3, which lowers their percieved threat level. It probably didn't hurt that they had quite a bit of my grey wrap sweater coming out of them already, making them look warm and fuzzy. I promise an update on the grey sweater soon, as it's growing again.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Woolly Mammoths

For everyone who finds us by Googling "what do woolly mammoths look like" or a variant thereof, here are some mammoth skeleton pictures, taken at the Field Museum in Chicago last Wednesday (we went to visit law school #3. Boy, is Mr. Sock tired).

I believe this was the last job interview...

As always with job interviews, I have another pair of socks to show (well, I started a pair of socks -- this was a shorter interview).

I love this Koigu thus far, though the true test will be in the wearing. The purl bumps on the inside of the sock seem to settle into the sock fabric better than when using Lorna's Laces. This might be because Koigu is a two-ply yarn, or because it's quite spongy. In any case, another victory for trying out every kind of sock yarn I can get my hands on. (Krista and I will be doing more of this, given all the random sock yarn we bought on our trips!)

The pattern is a standard toe-up sock pattern with a modified rectangular toe. A big advantage of this sort of toe is that you can use the toe itself as a gauge swatch; the start of the toe is largely independent of gauge, so it makes a good place to measure.

If anyone wants to try this rectanglar toe, here is my version:

  1. Using a provisional cast-on (such as a crochet cast-on), co n stiches (I used 8 at 9 sts/in, though I'd use more next time)
  2. Slipping all first stiches, knit a stockinette rectangle with 2m rows (ending on a knit row) such that there are m big stiches on each side of the rectangle. (I'd use m=n/2 as a good default value.)
  3. Continuing counter-clockwise around the stockinette rectangle, pick up and knit m stiches from the side of the rectangle (placing a marker at m/2 stiches -- that is, halfway down the picked up side).
  4. Undo and pick up the n stiches of the provisional cast-on. Continuing counter-clockwise around the stockinette rectangle, knit these stiches.
  5. Continuing counter-clockwise around the stockinette rectangle, pick up and knit m stiches from the side of the rectangle (placing a marker at m/2 stiches -- that is, halfway down the picked up side).

From this point on, you will be essentially knitting this toe from the toe up. (Pick your favorite paired increases for the increases I use below. I actually just used a backwards-loop m1 for all increases, since this feels quite smooth against the toe and (performed tightly) doesn't show on a varigated sock.)

  1. Knit one round even.
  2. On this round, knit even, except for this pattern around each marker: m1 k1 marker here k1 m1.

Keep knitting this two-row pattern until you have enough stiches for your sock, then knit one row even. Continue with sock.

The lace pattern you see on the sock is from the New England sock from Knitting on the Road. I underestimated the stretch factor, so I fear that the sock will be slightly wider than what I prefer, but certainly nothing major.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tiger sockettes

As further evidence that I've been spending far too much time on planes (did you know it can take two days to get from CA to PA?), I present tiger sockettes (tiger kitty insisted on "helping" again):

These are for a small friend of mine who loves all things tiger (or did 9 months ago -- 2 year olds are fickle). Her parents dressed her as a tiger for her first Halloween; she spent the holiday running up to people, shaping her hands like claws, and yelling "RAAAAR!" When I helped her mom pack up her outgrown clothes (nearly a year later), she saw the tiger costume again and was devastated that she couldn't fit into it. We draped it over her, but it just wasn't the same. These socks are the first of a few tiger-y items I'm hoping will help fill the tiger-related gap. See how they look like a real kitty?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The call of the Sockapaloooza

We have achieved Sockapaloooza here! I submit these socks as evidence that I've been sitting on planes far too often. Unfortunately for these poor socks, they haven't seen anywhere quite as pretty as Krista's have, but they have seen: the interiors of four airplanes, three airports, two Boston red line trains, and a nice cozy cafe.

Don't worry, mystery sock pal! My feet are not dirty, and I'll be washing your socks before I send them out. I'd like to thank you, mystery overseaas sock pal, for having small feet. I certainly have much more experience knitting for small feet! I'd also like to thank Kitty (you can see him trying to help in this picture), who has been annoyingly over-companionable ever since I returned from my latest job interview. At least the next trip will be shorter...

Monday, April 03, 2006

Mr Sock Goes to Washington

While Chialea has been running around trying to convince people to give her jobs (people, you really need to give her a job. She's the smartest lady I've ever met. You want her and you want to give her lots of money, mmkay?) I have been running around trying to pick a law school. Last week I took my husband and a sock off to Washington, DC to visit two schools - this week, we head to Chicago on Wednesday.

Left : Mr Sock rides the metro, while my husband tries valiantly to find a parking space.

Below: Mr Sock enjoys a class in constitutional law at law school #1. He was, however, a bit scandalized by all the talk about sodomy (this class session focused on the Lawrence decision).

On Thursday morning we visited the ZOO! before heading to law school #2. Mr Sock greatly enjoyed hanging out with the baby panda bear. Lots more zoo pictures will be posted later today to my Flickr account.In the evening, we took a nighttime tour of all the monuments, arranged by school #2. We couldn't really see the cherry blossoms, but man could we smell them! I got to see two monuments I'd never visited before (these photos are nothing to write home about).

Left : Mr Sock poses with Mr Jefferson.
Below: Mr Sock listens in on a fireside radio chat at the (lovely) FDR memorial.

Before leaving town on Friday, Mr Sock walked around enjoying the wonderful spring weather.

Above: Mr Sock really wanted to filibuster about something, but was instead convinced to lie outside in the sun.

Right : Mr Sock thinks he would be both a more competent, and a more independent, justice than a number of those men currently sitting.

Finally, just because it's a nice picture (Mr Sock behind the camera)