Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Wouldn't you know it? The spring semester starts tomorrow* and I'm going to be the head teaching fellow in a large course, so in the midst of running around doing all the start of term administrative nonsense, I worked hard and finished my hoodie so that I could feel extra good for the first day of classes. And so I went downtown today and bought a zipper. And when I got home and had pinned the whole thing in preparatory to sewing... wouldn't you know I bought the wrong kind of zipper? The kind that doesn't separate at the bottom? Sigh. I just hope it's not a sign of how the semester's going to go!

* Yes, the semester does start at the end of January, what of it? Just because everyone else in the universe is sensible and has fall term finals BEFORE Christmas doesn't mean that we have to. This is a venerable institution we're talking about here (starts with H, rhymes with "cardboard"), nearing its 400th anniversary, and if horrible, horrible schedules have worked for that long, well.....

Monday, January 21, 2008

I never promised you a rose garden

But I did promise some non-sock knitting.

First off, my long-term-early-morning-full-concentration-lace-project:

It's the Three Cornered Shawl in Clover Pattern from Victorian Lace Today, knit in Hello Yarn's BFL lace (and of course it's impossible to photograph well since it's very fine yarn, I lack a macro lens, and it's winter, but...). The pattern's fairly simple, but it's slow going because the yarn is so tiny. It's a single-ply lace (strengthened with a little nylon) and it tends to get caught on itself and the stitches hide under each other. I had to switch from my original choice of pattern because it was a true lace and had many areas where there was a single strand of yarn stretching over a great hole, which didn't seem like the best of plans for such a fine yarn! Still, the color is fabulous, and I think I'll actually wear this triangle shawl in it.

This is my semi-endless boring knitting:

As I mentioned ages ago, this is the first sweater I've made in a long time because I've been so disappointed with my efforts in the past. I've just been too lazy to modify the pattern to fit, and so (unsurprisingly), it doesn't. This one (the Olive Branch Yoga Hoodie from Webs), I've been trying on at every step, and measuring constantly, and it's very promising. (More on this pattern (and yarn) later! or, What I've Learned about Cheap Downloaded Patterns.) It's also very boring - all stockinette. But I do have a solution for that:

This is the view of my knitting-while-reading setup (with a quick stockinette cap for myself, in Malabrigo (mmmm!)). It's just a cookbook holder, but I can read while I knit this way - get some fun reading done while getting through the dull bits of my knitting. It's perfect. So perfect, once I'm ensconced with it, that's the end, nothing else is getting done that day!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sock meditations

First off, to all of you who left such kind comments on my last post: thank you! It really means a lot to me that you'd offer your thoughts and prayers to essentially a stranger - though I shouldn't be surprised since I see so much generosity in the knitting community! I'm not at all going to turn this blog into one on his illness and therapy, though with preventative chemo starting up in two weeks, I'm sure it'll sneak in here and there!

Now I'd like to talk a bit about socks and sock books. I want to talk specifically about Cat Bordhi's newest book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters, vol. 1. I don't tend to give book reviews, but I got very excited when I got this book - I (however boringly) knit mostly socks, and this book gave me a whole new way to look at them. Your basic sock is like a blank canvas - once you have mastered knitting in the round and understand the heel and toe, you can simply fill in any pattern on the leg and foot of the sock. It's intensely and satisfyingly simple, as has been capitalized upon in the Sensational Knitted Socks books.

In New Pathways, Bordhi lays out architectures that approach sock construction in whole new ways, mostly to do with the increases and decreases around the heel turn/gusset area - by moving these increases to new places (on the top of the foot in rows, in a spiral, in an expanding v shape), she entirely changes the types of stitch pattern that can be incorporated into a sock and expands the creativity a designer can build into her creation. It's not only an exciting development in design options, but she also includes endless numbers of good knitting tips - better ways to conceal the wraps in a short row, more hidden increases, etc - that can add to anyone's repertoire. Below is my first attempt at her "Sky Architecture," where the increases start at the center of the ankle in the front and move downwards in an inverted V shape (as you can see on the right foot). It's in Woolly Boully merino sock in Kelp Seahorse:

Here I will insert my caveat about the book: it's really not for beginners. Nor is it particularly for someone who just wants to knit some socks and not design their own. If you were to work just from her patterns (as I did here) rather than involving yourself in learning the architectures and applying them to your own work, you'd find yourself rather irritated. The patterns are intended to show you how to do it yourself, essentially, and constantly refer you to other sections of the book for heel constructions, gussets, toes, and how-to details for her special increases, etc. It'd drive a girl batty to just sit down to make a sock and have to do so much work for it (and most of the patterns are not really exploiting the full potential of the architecture either, just displaying it). Still, it's pure genius. Let a sock maker look at this heel and not be amazed - it's so entirely new:

Thanks for listening as I blather on about my sock crush! I hope it's of interest to others who knit too many socks. I _am_ working on non-sock items too, which I'll hopefully post about soon, weather conditions permitting!