Friday, September 28, 2007

New year's resolution

Sweaters and I have had what you might call a checkered past. The very first thing I ever knit was a sweater. Seriously - the first stitches I cast on were for the back of a cardigan - this is what comes of deciding (after midnight, at Wal-Mart) to teach yourself how to knit out of a handy Leisure Arts pamphlet titled 'Teach Yourself how to Knit, Crochet, Tat, and Embroider' (all in less than 50 pages!) using cheap, unbleached cotton yarn. I got casting on and stockinette quickly, and once I figured out that the yarn had to go between the needles (not under the bottom of the project) for ribbing, I just knocked the thing out. By the time I was done with the back, I was bored with stockinette and added some cables to the front panels. It turned out well enough that I ended up selling it to my boss for fifty dollars. Not bad for your very first knitting project!!

But within that first project were the hints of the problems that have continued to haunt me throughout my sweater knitting career: I was willing to sell this first proud sweater because it didn't fit me. It was too short in the body and too long in the arms. And pretty much every sweater (all 5 or so) I've made since then has had the same problems. My dad bought me a sweater's worth of a lovely shade of Cotton Glace just one summer ago - with which I made a beautiful lace cardigan - that's too short in the body and too long in the arms!! (Sorry, Dad!! On the upside, it fits my dear friend Claire perfectly, so it hasn't gone to waste at all!!) I have one Alice Starmore fisherman's sweater that I love, but it's a giant box of a sweater - pretty, but not flattering. Despite the fact that I know _why_ my sweaters don't fit (most patterns aren't written for short people with big busts), I guess I haven't quite managed the energy or attention or something to fix the problems.

But that's all about to change!! (cue dramatic makeover moment music) This year is the tenth anniversary of teaching myself to knit, and as a challenge to myself, and because it's embarrassing that I've been knitting so long without making a decent sweater, my resolution for this sweater knitting season is to knit at least one sweater that fits me and looks great. My eventual goal is to have a (perfectly fitting) Threepenny Pullover from Veronik Avery, but I wanted to start with something simple, that would be easy to modify and that I know I'd wear all the time. So I measured all the relevant places, and I found a great pattern from Webs: the Yoga Hoodie (oddly, no front views available). It's knit all in the round, so I can test my modifications as I go, and is mostly stockinette (for easy alteration) but not too boring, with that fancy back panel. And I love hoodies. I'm casting on this weekend, so wish me luck!!

And just so this post won't be too visually dull, here are two of my favorite dogs pretending to be cute:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Thank you all so much for your kind comments on my cephalapod creation! If I weren't still just amazed that he turned out so well, I'd be blushing right now! I have to say, he turned some heads at the wedding this weekend. It was a really awesome and beautiful wedding AND I didn't take a single picture. Well, I took one, but it was dark already so all you can see is a white dress and glowing red eyes. Which sort of summed up the evening, actually. ;)

The BikeJerk has been working really psychotic hours lately due to fiscal year ending madness, and when he's supremely overstressed and not sleeping, _I'm_ somewhat stressed and not sleeping as much as would be healthy. Which means I'm actually knitting a lot, but barely can keep my eyes open to photograph or post about anything. Except one thing:

This is a mystery sock that Maia is doing this month. The photo is just past the third clue out of four, so it's not so mysterious right now. I hadn't intended to do this project because I like making my sock choices from a well-informed position, but I saw some pictures after people had done the first clue, and I had to check it out. As soon as I saw it, I cast on for this instead of the orange stole that I hinted at in my last post (hence the title of this post!). It is SO much fun - the construction is fascinating, with increases in unexpected places and stitches that move in mysterious ways - I did the first two entire clues in one sitting because I couldn't put it down.

Honestly, it reminds me of when I turned my first heel. I remember reading 'turn work' and thinking that the author must be nuts, but then giving in and trusting something that seemed impossible, and being so amazed and gratified when my trust was fulfilled and I had somehow made a heel. I remember in the first clue and a half of this sock thinking 'really? does she mean that?' but doing what I was told. And it's looking (and fitting) pretty darn nice!

Oh, and one more thing: thank you to Peaknit for nominating me (ahem, back in August,
ahem) as a: . It means a lot to me - seriously, even though it took me so long to post about it! I'd like to nominate in turn: Beth, who not only knits amazing socks, but homeschools three boys on top of that; Nell, who had the guts to both go to nursing school AND unravel the first sweater she ever made; and Bookwoman, who gives great beer suggestions and information (among other things! ;)). Rock on, y'all!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Say hello to my little friend

This is Henry the Octopus.

My friend Claire asked me to make him to hold the rings at her wedding.

I made up the pattern as I went along (writing plentiful notes), and I was so unsure that he was going to turn out alright that I also made a little pillow as an alternative in case my first original toy pattern turned out to suck.

I'm rather stunningly pleased, however. You see the well-dressed wedding octopus is wearing a dapper hand-knit tie in a cashmere-merino blend.

This is the bottom of Henry, just so's you can see how neat and tidy everything is. That ridge near the legs is where I bound off the bottom and the rest of the body together. The whole thing's worked in the round, so that's the only seam. It used some Koigu that I had lying around, though I had to emergency purchase an extra skein (that's why the right side of this picture seems like the yarn is lighter - it is!). He also has pipe cleaners in his legs, so they are somewhat moveable. That didn't work as well as I'd like: up at the top, the pipe cleaners can move around too much in the leg, so it doesn't hold its position as well as I'd wanted. I have some ideas on how to make it work, but didn't have too much time to fix it as the wedding is in three days! Talk about panic-knitting!

And here are my last socks for the Summer of Socks!

It makes my tenth pair since Jun 21. Not bad, though there are people participating who have made over 30 pairs in the same time! These seemed appropriate to end with as they're sort of autumnal and summery (surely there's a better word for that!). The pattern is just plain vanilla toe-up in Sunshine Yarns superwash merino (sock club colorway Fresh, which I bought a while back from ChickenKnits). That's Chowder, acting like a fool behind my feet.

And what will I do, now that the Summer of Socks is nearly done, and Henry is safely finished? Well, I won't say I'm not going to knit socks, but this is the next thing I plan to cast on:

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Spinning my wheels

but not my spinning wheel!

Not much knitting content (or any other kind, either) this time. Mostly I've been reading and writing for school. After my meeting with my advisor, I got the go-ahead to start writing my prospectus, which has to be accepted before I can start writing my dissertation. It's very exciting (though very preliminary!) news, and I've been spending my free time scrabbling around with books and notes and things, and realizing how disorganized I really am. Alas. Worst of all, I'm not really getting anywhere with school stuff either! There's always the dog to be walked, the furnace repairman to be let into the house, the last minute forgotten food items to be purchased...not to mention start of semester meetings and all that fun stuff. ARGH!

(Serenity NOW!!)

Ok. So, the nice stuff. My mom sent a picture of her with the Hidcote Garden Shawl. She looks like she's just _daring_ me to post it, but doesn't it look great with her coloring?: of SeaSilk....

I'm sort of embarrassed about these socks. I think they're very pretty (the pattern is Whisper Lace Socks), but well, I let my mother-in-law (for whom they will be a Christmas gift) talk me into knitting them in yarn I'm not sure socks should be knit in. You see, they're in SeaSilk! The silk is gorgeous (more sheen than in the picture), and they suit her to a T, but I'm worried about their durability. And sort of curious about their warmth. There's nothing to be done, I guess, and maybe I shouldn't worry...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Look: socks

My meeting with my advisor is tomorrow, and my "clever" titles have abandoned me. Alas, alack, and woe is me. (Anyone want to hear about the Plantagenet kings of England and their relation to medieval Welsh literary conceptions of King Arthur and Charlemagne? Because _that_ I can talk about! Sheesh.)

There has been a very little sock progress. I think i may actually have been comatose for the entire Labor Day long weekend - we visted the BikeJerk's aunt and uncle in Connecticut, and it turns out that they may actually dwell in the Land of Nod. In a good way. I haven't been so relaxed in a long time!

Anyway. These are my River Rapids socks (by Sockbug), in Yarn Pirate's merino sock yarn. It's the Rum Runner colorway from the Booty Club. I haven't posted about belonging to the Booty club because I'm pretending to myself that I didn't join it (and because I can't take those luscious pictures of yarn that some people can). On the first day of her sign-ups I went over there, all innocent, just to check out how much it cost, and somehow I blanked out and lost several minutes, and now I get these cute packages with pretty yarn inside. I wonder how that happened?! ;)

Seeing this top photo, I'm sure someone out there is saying 'Ugh. She walked away from the Baudelaires in variegated yarn, but she stuck with this?!' And I say, but look:

I am just in lust with these socks. I love the waving texture of the pattern (which I think I'll probably do again in a solid yarn), and the yarn is just so jewel toned, I can't look away! Look at that Eye of Partridge heel. You can't say that's not just lovely in this colorway!

And to close, another walk down memory lane. These are (I'm mostly sure) the very first socks I ever made - in fact, they're the reason I learned, about 7 years ago, to knit socks!:

They're from Nancy Bush's Folk Socks. I'm not sure why I was so obsessed with them at the time, but I have to love them since they got me started knitting socks, right? They're pretty good for first socks - all in one piece - though they're knit so tight I think they could stand on their own.

I hadn't thought about these socks for ages, but this is one of those examples of how nice Ravelry is - a relatively new sock knitter asked me a few questions about socks, which led to me pulling these things out of wherever they were hiding and recalling my sockly origins. Yay!