Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Meet Phroggy

I've frogged this green sweater so many times I think it's earned its name. Phroggy is a Delphine Wilson inspired sweater (I love her work!), worked in Silky Wool. Because I'm not sure how this lovely soft yarn will wear, I'm making the sleeves in a contrasting colour. That way, I can always replace them to 'fix' the elbow-holes I inevitably wear into my sweaters.

This is another "Chialea's wingin' it" original. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can see how the ribs are gradually shaped to give the sweater waist shaping. Silky Wool makes a much clingier fabric than I would have thought; Phroggy is actually designed with more ease than I put in my last sweater, but looks very curvy when worn.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Called to the dark side

Why, hello there!

The dark side came calling this weekend. Oddly enough, it sounded a lot like Lucy. (Incidentally, she's not kidding about "full service". How many yarn stores will let you walk in dripping wet and offer you a towel?) Lucy's smart about teaching people how to spin. Firstly, she realizes really quickly if her students can't distinguish left and right.

Secondly, after she teaches you how to use the spindle, she lets you have a go at the wheel. Hot damn, is that thing addictive. Thirdly, she has incredibly cool relatives who would distract you if you thought that spinning was hard.

I'm sure that spinning is a lot harder if you're trying to make non-crappy yarn. This is my first yarn, a fluffy worsted-ish weight wool.

A fair bit of the crappiness of that yarn comes from my desire to have a spinning wheel. See, the spinning wheel lets you make the fiber go round and round at the same time you're drawing out bits of it to turn into yarn. As I have an incredibly poor sense of my own limitations, I started trying to do this about five minutes into spinning on the spindle. (I'm pretty sure that Lucy didn't see my poor attempts at this, because I didn't hear her thump on the floor laughing.) My tentative conclusion is that this spindle is not designed for this, because if you spun the spindle with one hand and drew the wool with the other, you'd end up stretched out at arm's length incredibly quickly. As hard as I tried, there's no good way to spin from there. Perhaps if the spindle were heavy enough to spin on its own after you got it started, you could spin standing up... or buy a spinning wheel.

So, I've come full circle (har har). I want a wheel. In particular, I want a wheel that will actually fit in our apartment and that I won't want to get rid of in a few years. I'm looking around for one, but in the meantime I'm spinning away.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Evolutionary contradictions

Recently, my walk to work has looked like this:

While skating to work is rather fun, I'm not a fan of my cheekbones freezing right off my face. This brings to mind a certain oddity: why are Scandinavians known for high cheekbones when they live in such a cold place? One might think that having one's cheekbones freeze off would be evolutionarily disadvantageous. Spherical heads seem rather more practical, as (in three dimensions) they have the lowest possible surface area per unit volume.

I guess we can chalk this up to sexual selection, along with the peacock's tail. Me, I'm thinking of coating my head with putty until I reach spherical perfection.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


It's been one of those weeks. First, I got stuck on a grounded plane for several hours on my way to California and back. Because of this, I missed my connection. Then the airlines canceled/delayed the next possible connections. I was less than pleased when they offered me alternatives that involved red-eye flights and extra connections. Every time I went into an airport there was chaos that just couldn't be blamed on the passengers.

Oopsie #2: sea of foam!

Oopsie #3: I assumed that if dye was coming off my socks, it wasn't going to stick to other socks.

It looks like I was wrong. I loved this cheery colour (though I wouldn't wear it outside of my boots!), so I'm sad to see the green dye stains. I'm not sure that Socks That Rock makes socks as cushy and comfy as Artyarns supermerino, but I'm happy to give it a try. More warm socks are always good!

Yarn: Socks That Rock heavyweight in Sun Drops
Needles: Crystal Palace size 3 DPNs
Pattern: toe up socks over 40 stitches with magic cast on and 10-deep short-row heel over 24 stitches

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Airline travel hell

I've been traveling. While visiting my family was great (and the CA weather is lovely), getting here was a bit more complex than I had anticipated.

Apparently every single child has this week off. In combination with the fact that everyone in New England is going crazy with the winter, this means the airport was in full on Hieronymus Bosch mode.

Conveniently, there were no lines at security. Unfortunately, this was because no one could get checked in. Ultimately, they kept flights for 3+ hours waiting for people to check in. (I was early, because I know where the magic business-traveler-not-checking-baggage kiosks are.)

Now it's back to the airport for me and my Socks That Rock. I'm crossing about everything that can be crossed that it won't be like that again.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A sad day for socks

Dear New Pair of Socks,

You sock!

Love and kisses,
The Feet

I knitted this new sock out of Socks That Rock in Sun Drops. Don't get me wrong, it's great yarn. (The colour is wonderful for the first real storm we've had this winter, too.) There are a few things that I've learned, though:

  1. This yarn has a very abrupt tension at which it becomes stiff, and it's a good bit looser than I usually knit socks at this weight. It's just fine on size 3 needles if knit a bit loosely, so I needed to go down from 48 to 40 stitches to accommodate this.
  2. This yarn isn't as forgiving in a heel. Because it goes stiff at the slightest bit of extra tension, my high instep is not getting along with this sock at all. See those stretched stitches? See the line where they're cutting into my ankle-foot junction? My feet just aren't up for being strangled in that fashion.

I don't know what to do with this sock. Adding more stitches will make it too loose. What it really needs is a deeper heel, but it can't be deeper unless I make it on more than half the stitches (this is the only solution that I think will certainly work). Anyone ever solved this problem?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Neverending carnival of excitement

How could I have knitted so many pairs of Artyarns Supermerino socks and not know that they make self-patterning sock yarn? Cathy and Sandra D, you rock for picking out this yarn!

Aren't those fabulous? I love the spiraling stripe of different colour stripes. (Click on the photo to enlarge it; the entire sock is pink/dark stripes, but the spiral is formed of a bold salmon and grey on a background of pink and brown. It's a spiral of stripes on stripes!) I wonder if the other yarn I have from them will do the same thing. Sadly, these mark the last socks for my trusty bamboo needles, which started trying to kill me with splinters. They've been found guilty of pointy treason, and will be burned at the stake or put out to pasture.

Pattern: my standard 48-stitch toe-up sock with magic cast-on and 9-deep short-row heel (may I suggest an afterthought heel instead?)
Needles: treacherous size 3 crystal palace bamboo needles
Yarn: Artyarns Supermerino in colour 141

I've gotten tired of knitting random bits of a shawl while I wait for my tailored cables sweater to dry (every. few. inches.). I'm a bit tempted to leave the sleeve as-is.

It's kinda punk, don't you think?

In any case, I'm starting another sweater. Meet Phroggy:

All I have is a Delphine-Wilson-inspired swatch, because I swatched, washed the swatch, cast on, frogged, then totally ignored the swatch, switched to different needles and a different pattern, and started cranking away. I'm winging this one much more than anything I've done before. If the waist decreases work out, I'll let it out in public.

Now the kitty wants to be petted. He'll breathe his terrible kitty-breath in my face until I do, so I'd better go for now. Here's hoping for a bunch of snow so I can work from home and be productive tomorrow!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Just call me the crazy lady

I went out today to be the crazy lady at the crazy movie with the crazy socks. If you were at Ruslan i Ludmilla today, hi from the crazy lady who kept giggling all the time. (A special "hello" to the woman in the row in front of me with what looked to be a hand-knit shawl in white mohair and cabled legwarmers.) I managed to pay enough attention to the movie to learn several valuable lessons, however:

  1. Only trust blondes. (The hair dye manufacturers are obviously missing a huge marketing opportunity with this one.)
  2. If the blond hero swings a sword in the general direction of your regiment, you should all fall down in unison. He won't bother checking whether he hit anything.
  3. Women are either dark-haired (and thus evil) or blond (and thus dumb as a box of rocks wearing a silly hat.
  4. Blond women wear white panties. Dark-haired, "magically seductive" women wear colourful, extremely shiny panties. Some of these magical women apparently got lost during the filming of Monty Python and the Holy Grail and wandered into the Russian Castle Anthrax, wearing only shiny panties and gauze. The other magical women apparently all had hip-high-slit inducing wardrobe mishaps.

I haven't even gotten into the flying dwarf with the 50-foot-long beard, so perhaps knitting socks was not even registering on anyone's weird-o-meters.

I've made some more progress on my tailored cables sweater. It's really a lot slower to knit something when you're both designing it and it has to be blocked to look reasonable. (Go, go oily coned yarn!) The good news is that every time I wash the yarn it looks better. The bad news is this means that the farther up the sweater you look, the worse the yarn looks. In any case, it's drying again, so I took some pictures. I've added a vee-neck and armscyes for set-in sleeves.

This is best shot I can get in this light of the detail of the shaping at the bottom of the sweater. I've twisted the cables together as they merge.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Yarny reprieve

Do you know that feeling you get, as you move towards the end of a project, that you're going to run out of yarn? WEBS came through for me. I wasn't running out of yarn for my current pair of socks; I was running out of yarn for any more pairs of socks. (Cascade 220 superwash just doesn't cut it for socks, in my opinion.) Artyarns Supermerino to the rescue!

Kitty brought his passion for sitting on things to this new and challenging project. Unfortunately, even after I rescued the yarn from his fuzzy little clutches, I can't decide what to knit with next. Any opinions? (Colourways visible at Artyarns.)

  • 101 Purple, Gold, Navy, Brown, Olive, with Turquoise highlights (it looks pretty yellow to me)
  • 123 Sea blues and greens, with periwinkle (much more saturated in person than on their website, even when largely hidden under the cat)
  • 141 Salmony pinks, red, brown, tan (more salmon in person)