31 March 2007

Sock Virgin No Longer!

I cast on for my first sock last night. Then I ripped it out and cast on again, because I decided the first cast-on was too uneven. Then I knitted about five rounds before discovering that the cuff was a K4P2 ribbing, not K1P1 as I had so merrily knitted while watching Hidalgo (yay horses!). I did a tubular cast on, which sets up a sort of automatic K1P1, and I suppose that's what I had in my head instead of the pattern.

As I started knitting the second (background) color and began the chart, I thought to myself that the prudent choice would probably have been to start with an easy, basic sock. But no, not me. I wanted my first pair of socks to be Chuck's Cabled Socks by Eunny Jang. Not only are they cabled, but they are worked stranded, which I have never done. It took me a while to get used to not picking up and twisting the carried yarn, because all the colorwork I've ever done has been intarsia. I'm still picking up the stranding every so often because leaving them as long open strands bothers me. I imagine my toes catching on them every time I slip them on. Did I mention that this is also my first project on dpns?

I guess it's not that unusual that I pick a pattern that is a bit complicated for a first attempt. After all, my very first oil painting was a portrait... a copy of Sargent's Capri Girl. She's still one of my favorite paintings.

The thought that ran through my head was these words by Thomas Paine:
"The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly; 'Tis dearness only that gives everything its value."

That's a little heavy and serious for sock-knitting, but it runs true for a lot of things. If I'm going to bother to knit a pair of socks, they had better be really awesome socks. I want to have reason to be immensely proud of them when I'm finished.

27 March 2007

Blue Steel!

My order from Knitpicks arrived today!

2 skeins GLOSS, in color Dusk. 70% Merino/30% Silk:
1 skein ShineSport in color River, 60% Pima Cotton/40% Modal:

ShineSport is incredibly soft and a beautiful cobalt blue. GLOSS is also soft and a sort of medium denim/dark cornflower color. I've learned my lesson on buying yarns via internet, and ordered these as test skeins before ordering a whole bunch for a project.

Along with it came these:
Do you know what that means?

< zoolander>Some sort of Faerie javelin-throwing contest?
< /zoolander>

That's right, Derek. I'm ready to knit some socks!

20 March 2007

Till then, Sleeping Beauty, sleep on...

Maybe I watched Disney's Sleeping Beauty eleven too many times as a child, and am therefore fulfilling the princess fantasy which has pervaded American culture. Maybe I'm calling up unknown memories from the collective unconscious. Or maybe I want to control the knitting process from roving to FO. In any event, I signed up for a spinning workshop at my LYS. It's the first weekend after 15 April, so it will be my little after-tax season reward. I'm so excited about this I can hardly stand it.

19 March 2007

Awwww, F***. It's Felted.

I received the sock yarn I ordered the other week in the mail today. I was disappointed because the colors of my yarn were a far cry from the colors posted on their website. I understand differences in screens, etc... but I was expected super-saturated color, and got this wimpy half-ass color instead. On the plus side, the yarn was deliciously soft, and so I could buck up and knit socks for other people with it.

As I was sitting at my desk, I kept smelling some weird floral scent. I figured somebody had changed the soap or something. Then I realized it was coming from the bag next to my chair. It was the yarn. Whatever they washed it in was giving me a major-league headache. I sniffed it to be sure. Not only did it smell like nasty detergent, but it also reeked of animal. Now, I'm not one of those ultra-purified city girls; I grew up on a horse farm. I don't mind the smell of manure, and I find the smell of horse one of the most comforting things in the world. This yarn, however, smelled. And I couldn't bear the thought of spending hours knitting this stuff with my head aching and my hands reeking of sheep or goat or whatever the hell this stuff is made of. Lord, and giving it to someone? Nothing says love like stinky socks.

So I got out my unscented, all-natural, non-petroluem-based detergent (which I could go on and on about its magical cleaning properties... maybe another time), put a tablespoon in the sink and filled it with cold water. I carefully squeezed and swished my yarn, working the soap into it to pick up all the animal oils. Then I rinsed it three times. When I gave it its final rinse, I noticed something was wrong. The yarn had fulled, as expected, but that wasn't it. The texture was way off. I squeezed it gently and held it up. It was then I saw this (big photo for detail):

Saith the Knitting Goddess: "Awww, f***. It's felted."

The color above is accurate. Compare that to what I thought I was buying:

For comparison's sake, I've photographed the felted yarn next to the unwashed, unfelted yarn of a different colorway. The flash alters the colors a bit here:

18 March 2007

Your Knitting Blog Fix

Hey everybody! Sorry for the posting dearth. I've been ill for a while, but thanks to my fantastic internist, I will soon be right as rain. Admit it, you missed me. It wasn't as bad as those 3 months without new Strong Bad emails, but you missed me.

Between illness and tax season (the dreaded crunch time for accountants, where work is like Finals Week from January until 15 April), I haven't knitted as much as I'd like to. I've been working on Sophie in my spare time and hope to have pictures posted tonight, or Monday. I'm through working the bit on US6 needles and am ready to start with US7.

Unrelated to knitting (you knew it was going to happen), here's an article I found fascinating. In layman's terms, a group of professional nerds working for the government put water under mega-high pressure and produced red-hot ice in a matter of nanoseconds. Yes, I admit that I think phase changes are interesting. I also spent a bunch of time reading back articles on progress made with single- and multi-walled carbon nanotubes. They're really cool. I did some research on them while working on my Master's (in chemistry). Everybody should learn about carbon nanotubes... they're fascinating in their versatility. They should introduce it to kids in high school chemistry classes... just to get the kids hooked on science.

Ok, back to work, back to knitting. Check back later for pics.

11 March 2007


This will be one of my very limited posts not related to knitting. Normally, I wouldn't post it here; however, I found it on someone else's knitting blog... so that sort of counts.

Ok, for those of you who don't really know me and are just sort of stalking me, here's a little background info. I wrote my BA Honors essay on... well, a lot of esoteric crap... but also about the intersection of image, spirituality and language. Images are their own language, which communicate ideas/concepts which cannot be expressed any other way (reductionist statement: "hence, art.").

So it's no surprise that I thought this thingy was way cool. I linked to it from Yarnnation's blog.

(technical note: I couldn't get it to work at first because I have the NoScript add-on for Firefox. Once I allowed scripts for that page it worked great.)

08 March 2007

Night of the Living Granny Panties

The completed Mon Petit Chou hipster front panel is 77 rows high, including the bind-off rows, which begin at row 67. I threw in the towel after row 49. 7sts from the end of the row, I realized I needed 7 sts and had 5 sts left. I counted. I recounted. Nope. I knitted the row correctly. It's entirely possible that I screwed up something another row back, but my previous rows came out okay. So... all is not well in the state of row 49.

Then came the defining moment:
I held the piece up to my body. Even with abnormally low crotch placement, row 49 hits about an inch (maybe and inch and a half) below my navel. For comparison's sake, the top of my ideal underwear sits 4.5" below my navel. All work on MPC has been suspended until I can figure out whose definition of "hipster" meant "can alternatively be pulled up over the breasts and worn as one-piece bathing suit."

the pattern shows (l) but was apparently written for (r)

And before you ask-- yes, I swatched. I have two more balls of Fixation, so I think I might swatch up another piece just to make sure I didn't count my swatch stitches during one of my Jim Morrison-style blackouts. That could have happened.

They frog granny panties, don't they?

07 March 2007

Stash Enhancing Experience

So... I bought some yarn.
I wanted to experiment with different fibers. I found Taiga Yarns, a discount online place which imports Russian yarns. Here's the haul:

Unusual #15, a 100% Goat Down in its natural, undyed state. Apparently it still has lanolin in it-- because it still smells like goat. Most yarns bound for the U.S. are pre-washed to remove the lanolin. From what I've read, the once the lanolin is washed out, the yarn becomes more full and soft. And loses the fresh-from-the-pen, one-step-from-asking-"where's-my-chèvre?" smell. Right now I still feel as though it needs to be fed and watered. I swear I saw it chewing on my sweater.

Leaving the smelly yarn in its pen, we move on to:

Baroness, a 50/50 camel/acrylic blend. Normally I run screaming from acrylic, but I wanted to see what it was like. That, and the natural-colored 100% camel was sold out.
However, they did have:

Mellow Camel, 100% camel, dyed black.

Angora, 50/50 Angora/wool
I bought this one for its color. It's not extremely soft, but it's soft enough.

and several colors of:

Deluxe, a 100% wool sock yarn (I'm thinking of making Chuck's Cabled Socks by Eunny)

I bought these yarns without a specific purpose in mind. Except maybe the sock yarn... but then again, I haven't ever knitted socks. It was mostly curiosity, and I'm for the most part pleased.

Just don't mention the yarn order I placed yesterday for hand-painted sock yarn. 2800 yards of 100% Merino from Mystical Yarn Creations, to be exact...

04 March 2007

Mon Petit Chou (revised 5 mar 2007)

The following includes a tutorial which most people probably don't need but maybe someone will find useful. To skip the tutorial, you can click here, because I just learned how to do a very simple HTML taggy thing!

cast on for Mon Petit Chou the other day, thanks to Eunny's tutorial on invisible cast-on. The link from the knitty pattern was not helpful; the explanation in my Reader's Digest Knitter's Handbook was confusing at best.

na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na CAST-ON!

The wooden needle was my working needle (I was knitting with US6 Brittany needles)

The metal top needle has stitches picked up from the provisional cast-on edge.

The right metal needle holds the stiches made from two-to-one knitting.


1. the two-needle foldover thing is weird. Here are some close-up pics--with super-fantastic neon highlighting.1 Basically you pick up the stitches from your provisional cast-on with your second needle (the top metal needle at right), then you fold them and knit top and bottom together.


3. 4.


this two-to-one knitting creates a double-thick edging at the bottom. Ingenious!


And here's what I have so far. I'm a little concerned because I'm almost halfway through the front panel and I'm a bit worried about just how tall these cute little knickers are going to be. They can be lace-up all they want and as holey as Baby Swiss -- but if they get too tall, they're basically see-through lace-up granny panties. Slightly sexier, non-shaping Bridget Jones-style underwear.

There's nothing inherently wrong with granny panties2. They can be rather comfortable, and I know women my age who wear them. The problem is that they are their own species of undergarment and ought not be included in any description of sexy little knits.

It's all scrunched up right now, so you can't see the lace bit. The lacework will show when it's stretched out. For scale, the piece above is ~10"/25cm at its widest. So, um, it had better stretch. A lot.

The situation calls for genuinely tiny knickers.

1. I am the Photoshop Master; bow to my awesome MS Paint-like skills.
2.That, and I have a strong dislike for the word "panties." *shudder*

01 March 2007

Meet Simon

This is Simon the Hedgehog.
His full name is Mr. Simon Albert Tiggy-winkle, but you can call him Simon.

He enjoys sitting around and looking cute. Very huggable. He is 0'10", has black eyes, and can best be described as short, dark and handsome. Don't let the potbelly fool you; he is in peak hedgehog shape. Simon is a formidable opponent on the miniature golf course and has recently taken up table tennis. He is not fond of sailing and generally avoids the sea when possible, however, he is an avid aviator and enjoys cruising in his WW1 biplane replica. Be sure to bring your silk scarf, flying goggles and moxie when you visit; he's a barnstorming ace.

The Knitty-Gritty:
Knit from Donegal Tweed (I don't know what color; I threw out the tag) and Splash (color 7185), with some scrap grey-brown Svale for the paws and the embroidered nose. He is my first felted object, and I did not realize that Svale would not felt, hence the open spots on his paws. I may weave them with Svale just to fill in the gaps and keep his soft fluffy innards where they belong.

Bonus photo: Simon uses Pantene Pro-V shampoo/conditioner and follows up with a quick brush-through of Biosilk Silk Therapy to keep his hair smooth, sleek and shiny. It drives the lady 'hogs wild. He has listened to his ZZ Top; he knows that while every girl crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed man, when one does not wear clothing as a policy, sharp personal grooming becomes exponentially important.