Tuesday, May 30, 2006

This is not a race!

We haven't made it to the starting gate yet! So, I was able to spend some quality time with my team this weekend, and learned some basic truths about my team. We spent the weekend on Lake Winnepesaukee with family, so I packed up the team and support staff and off we went.

My goal with the team is to have the right combination for each circumstance:
Quiet time - Icarus, with lace weight Alpaca.
Travel knitting - lacy socks, both Arizona Lace and Broadripple.
TV/conversational knitting - Branching Out.

There were some challenges with Icarus, mostly overcome, and we should make slow and steady progress over the course of the summer. First of all, organization - I thought I was ready, but overlooked some critical items. I copied each pattern and put the important parts in sheet protectors (they'll be kept in a 3-ring binder when not in use). For Icarus, I copied the front page, and enlarged chart 1, leaving the magazine at home. The stitch guide was on the part of the page that I didn't copy. Luckily I was able to email Silver Arrow Knits, who sent back the crucial bits. For the life of me, I couldn't remember if / meant SSK or K2tog.

Then, I had remembered the stitch markers, but they were all too big, and didn't work well. The dangly ones are pretty, but don't work on lace, at least for me. So, two major obstacles with Icarus, all of which slowed me down. With the lace weight yarn feeling like cobwebs, speed is not a goal. Nothing that couldn't be overcome with friends and a visit to the LYS (which is Patternworks - unfortunately I missed the tent sale by a week.)

Next up, BroadRipple:

My original intent was to knit BroadRipple for myself from Cascade Yarns Fixation in black, for a pair of summer socks. First obstacle was the needle selection - I'd brought my size 3 DPNs with 4 in the set, and the pattern is based on a set of 5. So, since I already needed to go to the yarn store for the proper stitch markers, might as well get the correct needles. While at Patternworks, my SIL asked if I'd knit a pair for her and picked out the pink and green. Much more fun to knit than the black, so I started on those. The pattern is pretty straightforward, though I'm concerned that it's not too lacy looking. It has YO and SSK and K2TOG, so it's lace. No trouble with this, and the socks will make good travel knitting. The temptation is strong to make the toe on the pink sock green and vice versa - have to check with the designated owner on that.

Not much to show on the Arizona Lace - another nice pattern that was written for Knitpicks Essential and size 2 needles for my shoe size - who needs to swatch? Well, right now it's way too big for me, so I need to figure out what to do. The pattern is based on 4 repeats of 20 stitches, so the only way to make it smaller to use use a smaller needle size. So this teammate is on the bench until I figure out how we can work together effectively.

Last, but not least, is the Branching Out in bamboo. I'm almost done with the first ball of yarn, and it's not looking long enough. So, LYS to the rescue with another ball of bamboo yarn in green. The big question is whether or not to knit the two halves separately, then kitchener together so each end is heading in the right direction. I have a little more time to make that decision. This teammate is the most solid right now, as I know the pattern, have enough yarn and have successfully fixed any errors that I've found. Mostly I forget the last YO on the first line. You'd think I'd learn.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Team building retreat

Look what my Secret Pal sent me! Truely delicious chocolate - it's already half gone! And, all the makings for a Grumperina-original hat - Optimum yarn in silver, from South West Trading Company, (did you know that Jonelle Raffino, founder of SWTC, is one of the top 50 Fast 50 business owners of 2006, according to Fast Company Magazine) and the beads. My secret pal even printed out the pattern for me! It'll have to wait for the summer of lace to be over, but I can't wait to knit this! The yarn is so soft - I almost want it to get cold again. Well, not really. I haven't even worn shorts yet.

This is a big weekend for the Amazing Lace team. We're going on a retreat to New Hampshire to see how well the individual team members can work together. The goal for the weekend is to determine which combination of team members will work best for a number of varied situations: knitting in the car, knitting in the car with a sleeping dog in the lap (definitely a stretch goal), hikes in the woods, quiet afternoons on the porch, boat rides (another stretch goal situation), shopping, evenings by the fire and a cocktail party or two.

Final team selections will be made after the retreat.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Icarus, the beginning

Since Icarus will be the first lace-weight, and second lace pattern, project, I stayed with the yarn listed in the pattern, the Suri Alpaca from The Alpaca Company. I went with a different color, because I wanted something more vibrant - Purple Mountain Majesty. It's a wonderful dark purple, almost grape, color. Getting a picture of it hasn't been easy. Finally, it was nice today when I got home from work, and still sunny. On top of that the clematis bloomed - with some purple that matches the yarn pretty closely, though not in the picture.

As a comparison, here's the yarn in the direct sunlight - the white background may affect it, though I wasn't going to put it down on the driveway to find out.

Next is to start winding the yarn from the skein. How long will it take to wind up 880 yards, and will my husband be willing to hold it for that long? Yes to the second part if there's golf or poker on TV.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Flip Flop Socks

This summer's newest fashion trend, at least in my house. Finished the first pair of flip flop socks (thong socks just doesn't sound right), and they meet the approval of DD, who hasn't taken them off yet. The ribbing at the non-toe end is a little too loose, but that can be fixed. The biggest challenge with these is using the Cascade Yarns Fixation when the pattern calls for Regia Cotton Stretch. The gauge is completely different, necessitating some fiddling with the pattern. For the next pair, I'll make the ribbing wider, and cast on fewer stitches, increasing in the first non-ribbing round. I also knit with a very loose tension, to enable the sock to be as stretchy as possible.

In other knitting progress, the Trekking XXL sock is longer and the Branching Out scarf is longer, but not enough to deserve a picture. I finally made it through the 10-row repeat of the Branching Out without needing to tink back because I forgot a YO, so my lace knitting is improving a bit.

The Suri Alpaca arrived in preparation for Icarus arrived in the mail on Friday. DD saw the package, got all excited, then realized "Oh, it's yarn." It was no longer exciting, at least for her. It is so soft, and the color is all purply and wonderful, that I was quite happy. Due to the lack of consistent sun over the weekend, no picture - it just wouldn't convey the richness of the color. If I get enough work done tonight to be ready for the morning, I might knit just a bit, to see what it's like. If not enough work gets done, I will just pet it for a while.

The team for The Amazing Lace KAL is all on board, and will be introduced shortly. I'm in the process of determining the strengths and weaknesses of each team member, in order to be prepared for any circumstance. The main weakness of the knitter on the team is a lack of experience with knitting lace, so the rest of the team had better be on their (virtual) toes.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Who needs sleep?

I may not get any sleep this summer, not if I want to finish any of my projects. In addition to the WIP list, I've ordered yarn for the following:

Short-toed socklets, pattern from Regia. I'm using the Cascade Yarns Fixation from Simply Socks Yarn Company because it's cotton. My DD and nieces should enjoy these.

I have trouble finding dress socks that aren't too tight around the ankle, so the Cascade Yarns Fixation in black will become Broadripple from Knitty.com (these count as lace):

As mentioned before, I'm attempting Icarus from IK. Then, just in case I run out of things to do, I'm making the Candle Flame Shawl in Turquoise from Knitpicks for my MIL for Christmas.

That should keep me busy, and definitely qualified for the Amazing Lace, at least for the most delusional knitter.

Monday, May 15, 2006

WIP Update

I had a rare Friday evening, where I was the only one home. So I spent some time working on each of my projects. There wasn't anyone to give me strange looks as I kept changing what I was knitting (and weaving). Even though I've made progress on the weaving, it looks the same as last time, so no new pictures.

First up, the Trekking XXL sock (cue Unchained Melody). I love this sock. The colors, the feel, the pattern, (Thuja from Knitty, thank you Karen). The sock was last in the rotation or the others wouldn't have had a turn.

Then we have Branching Out, from Knitty, on the Plymouth Royal Bamboo. I'm not sure about the bottom edge, it seems to be pulling upwards. I could block this section, and see if it straightens out, or just keep knitting and hope that blocking fixes it when I'm all done. Yup, I'm still knitting. This is a good introduction to lace - I really have to pay attention. Luckily the yarn tinks nicely, as I've found out a number of times now. So far so good.

Then, the windchime, or corkscrew scarf from the Knitting Guild meeting. It should keep twisting about, but the yarn has a distinctly winter feel, so I don't feel like working on it now. Really, I'm not working on it because it's not a sock and it's not lace.

The cotton cable pullover is starting to come together - I've gotten the no-cable needle cable down pretty well. I haven't been faithful to knitting a few rows every night, or I'd be a lot further. It's the sock's fault.

Last, but not least, are almost all of the pieces to make Mrs. Stegs. Why the purple is female I don't know. Not my call.

I rounded out the soggy weekend by ordering the yarn for my next set of projects - mostly of the lace variety. My strategy for the Amazing Lace is to have a team with bench strength. More on that later.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I can't go through with it

As much as I don't like the school colors of blue and orange, that's what they are at our local high school. So when I found some blue and orange yarn that Reese had dyed, I went ahead and bought it, without knowing what I was going to do with it. It's very pretty, with blue, orange and several shades of brown to tone down the orange. DD plays field hockey, so eventually I came up with the idea of making a field hockey stick cover, like a long skinny sock. I started at the top, with the idea of working down to where the stick widens and flattens, and increase as necessary. The method to knit the curved blade part at the bottom of the stick would come to me as I knit. So there I am, knitting a bit of ribbing for the top, then stockinette stitch for the long part.

Then, I look at what I'm knitting. It's not looking like a sock, it's looking like a willie warmer! And I have 12 more inches to go before increasing for the blade. The mental image of what this would have looked like was more than I could take. Not for knitting in public, that's for sure.

So, no more field hockey stick cover. It would have gotten all muddy anyway, so there may be a bright side. The worst part was explaining to my daughter exactly why I was not going to finish the stick cover. She recovered (stopped laughing) quickly and will be happy with fingerless gloves and a headband.

In Amazing Lace news, we did some training while watching The Amazing Race for inspiration. The team had to regroup, for while the first repeat was executed correctly, the second one got off to a rough start with a missed YO. Back to the basics, counting stitches and double-checking before going on. If this had been the real competition, valuable time would have been lost. We learned our lesson.

Lace watching TV Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

And they're off!

Preparations for The Amazing Lace have begun. I started Branching Out last night, and got through the first repeat with only a few, tinkable errors. Training continued on this morning, while waiting for the school bus. Unfortunately, the picture doesn't capture how lovely the pale green bamboo yarn (Plymouth Royal Bamboo) actually is, though it does have a tendency to split. Just to show that I'm knitting "on the road".

In other news, further investigation has revealed that the rare identical twin fingerless gloves are, in fact, fraternal. It's difficult to tell from this angle, but the thumbs are distinctly different. To add insult to injury, the designated owner has declined the gloves. I've never had a rejected FO before, so don't know what to do with them.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Trekking we will go...

I attended my first Knitting Guild meeting last night, and while there, found this:

The oft-mentioned, but never before glimpsed by me, Trekking XXL. These colors are fabulous, so I succumbed and bought a skein. Now, which sock pattern to use? My brain has completely failed me, and cannot remember what patterns have been used with this yarn? I've seen it mentioned so often that I can't remember anything specific. Is it so perfect that a stockinette stitch sock is the best way to show it off? Or Conwy, can I use it to knit that pattern? I DON'T KNOW!!!

So, please add your comments as to the best way to show off this wonderful yarn. There are no prizes, but the person whose idea I select will have my heartfelt thanks, and credit for a really awesome pair of socks. My apologies to the sock yarn that I bought last weekend, and loved for a whole week. I still love you, we will have many wonderful years together. This is just something I have to get out of my system.

In Knitting Guild news, there were two parts to the meeting (three if you count the snacks - homemade madeleines and flan - both delicious). The first was a presentation by a woman from Guideposts on their
Knit for Kids program. I had never heard of this, yet it's been in existence for 10 years. 320,000 sweaters have been knit, collected and distributed to need children all over the globe. That's 2,667 sweaters a month, or 87 sweaters a day, for ten years. It's mind-boggling. Just knit a sweater from the patterns on the web-site (crochet, too) and get it to Guideposts, and they'll make sure it gets to where its needed. There's one more item for the "To Be Knit" list. And my DD has said that she'll knit one also. If you decide to help out, remember that they could use sweaters up to size 14, and that the bigger sizes are the more needed.

The second part of the meeting focused on learning how to knit the "Wind Chime Scarf". It involves short rows, wraps and turns, and I learned how to knit backwards. Or purl backwards, to be precise. When done, the scarf twists around like a corkscrew. I only brought one skein of yarn with me, which wouldn't be enough for the scarf, so had to buy the yarn for the scarf (Plymouth Encore Colorspun - you know, this would be good for the "Knits for Kids" sweater).

I've worked the pattern repeat four times, and feel certain that I'll remember how to knit this when the weather turns cooler. This is Amazing Lace summer, so the scarf will have to wait.

I'll admit it, I don't have a subscription to Interweave Knits, and haven't missed it until now. Then,
Ya-ya mentioned the lacy socks, and I haven't been able to get a look at them (lacy and socks - that's what this summer is all about). I stopped in at Borders, and they had every knitting magazine EXCEPT IK. I know, the summer issue may not be available in stores. Then, I saw this shawl (my subscription card will be in the mail):

I don't know how complicated the pattern is. I've never knit lace. I will knit
Branching Out with my green bamboo yarn first.

I see this in Midnight Blue. On me. My hair will double in thickness and length, and look attractively wispy in it's messy bun.

It could happen.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Secret Pal 8 Questionnaire, Answered

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? Favorite yarns - Variegated, self-striping yarns – the element of surprise in how the yarn will look when it is knit up. Bright spring/summer colors. Ladder yarns. My current love is a pale green bamboo.
Dislikes - I don’t like the feathery fluffy novelty yarns.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? A long narrow basket.

3. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? I learned how to knit when I was nine. My mother taught both my brother and me, several times before it stuck. That was a long time ago. Bell bottom pants were in style for the first time. Despite all that, I'm an intermediate knitter.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? I have a personal wish list, not a knitting wish list. I will have one soon!

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.) Lavender.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? Chocolate – dark, rich not-to-sweet chocolate. Dove is good.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin? Weaving – I’m a beginner. I’ll be going to weaving camp for one week this summer. I sew if I have to. Decorative painting and gardening.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) I'm stuck in the 80’s – Alternative Music: Roxy Music, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, Depeche Mode, Erasure.

9. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand? Green and spring colors. Rust and orange wash me out, so I stay away from them.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? One husband, two teenage children (daughter and son) and 2 small dogs – Welsh Terrier and West Highland White Terrier.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? Scarves all the time – lightweight in summer, heavier in winter, and hats and mittens in the winter. I spend most of my work day at the computer or in meetings, so I like to wear at least one thing that is hand-made.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? Scarves – for myself to wear to work, and socks. Toys are up there also (Mr. Stegs is still in process)

13. What are you knitting right now? Cotton cable sweater for myself, fingerless gloves for my son and a field hockey stick cover for my daughter. And Mr and Mrs Stegs, and little baby stegs.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Yes.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? I prefer wood and aluminum, but have no preference as to straight or circular – whatever works best with the project and yarn type. Yarn has a tendency to fall off my needles, so I should probably use circulars more often. I knit socks on DPNs.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? I have a yarn winder.

17. How did you learn to knit? My mother taught me to knit English style. I’d like to learn continental, though haven’t tried it yet.

18. How old is your oldest UFO? My son’s baby blanket – just discovered after we moved. He’s 12 ½. It’s acrylic. It’s at the bottom of the lowest stash storage bin, though I did take the needles out. It will always be an unfinished object, because it would be too much work to frog.

19. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas, even though I whine about all the work. This year I’m going to make as many presents as possible. Scarves, wine bottle holders (with wine), and we’ll see what else I can come up with.

20. Is there anything that you collect? Aside from yarn, and scarves, not really. I don’t like clutter. We do have some framed posters and prints from places where we’ve traveled. If it's hung on the wall it's not clutter.

21. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? No knitting magazine subscriptions -
Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughan looks interesting. As far as yarn, I saw/bought some alpaca at a fiber festival, and would like more of that.

22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? Two (or more) color knitting. Aside from stripes (both horizontal and vertical) I haven’t done much with either Fair Isle style or intarsia. I’m also interested in dyeing my own yarn – something self-striping would be fun.

23. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? Yes to sock knitting. I usually wear a size 9 woman's shoe, my foot is 9.5 inches long, 9 inches around the foot and 8.5 inches around the ankle.

24. When is your birthday? (mm/dd) Jan 23

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Discovery of rare wild identical gloves

The rare, identical gloves were first glimpsed during a routine photo of travel knitting. Until then, the two had not been close enough for the remarkable similarities to be noticed.

[Edited to add the pattern reference: Fingerless Mitts, from Gaea Creations Free Patterns.]

Close observation reveals that the knitter, without even trying, while thinking that mismatched gloves might be more attractive to the recipient, picked the exact spot to start the second glove so the two are identical. Chances of this occuring a second time are slim and none.

The Opal Rainforest Tiger yarn continues to amaze with the yardage - there will be enough left after the gloves to make something else. Something small, but something else. I wonder if it could be felted...