Sunday, May 30, 2010

Cables and Lace

Dear blog,

Despite the lack of posts lately there HAS been significant knitting going on around here. In-between finals and moving and family and all the fun stuff associated with graduating, and summer I've been knitting my olympic shawl. It's blocking now and will get it's own post later, but for now how about a progress shot?


On Tuesday I cast on for Laurel (Rav link), this is the hat pattern. The one that I have been waiting to knit for what seems like decades. Since the first day this pattern was published it has been in my queue, and now, finally, it's on my needles!
I love knitting hats. I don't know why, somehow it just feels right to knit them. Maybe it's because I love circular knitting, or maybe it's because in my mind I look wicked awesome in hats, but I love it. And cables just make a hat pattern that much sweeter. I love lace, but to me lace is like a good book. Something classic like Anne of Green Gables or Pride and Prejudice. Something soothing. But cables? Cables are what I do when I feel adventurous. Instead of sky diving or roller-coaster riding, I whip out my cable-needle and have at it. But not just any cables, charted cables. Laurel's beautiful cable chart takes my breath away, and when I'm knitting from them I feel rather dizzy. In short, when I feel like doing a little 'thrill seeking' I get my euphoric adrenaline high from knitting cables.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Officially Graduated

Dear blog,

I've recently graduated from college (yay!) I had my last final ever (hopefully) on the 11th, and I've moved back in with my folks. It's summer, my favorite time of year, and I'm just chill'n for now, you know?
Started working on the olympic shawl, again. I'm really close to finishing it so that's my goal. Once I bind off on the shawl, I'll pull Swallowtail out of hibernation and work on that ^^;; I'll probably frog it and start over. Back when I started it I was still twisting my stiches, and I've also switched to knitting continental style since then. I may or may not go up a needle size too. Meh. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. My camera cable is still packed, but I promise I will pull it out soon and do a proper post with pictures, till then.


Thursday, May 13, 2010

FO : Jaywalker socks

Yesterday, I decided I'd had enough, I was finishing the sock. I alternated between knitting and studying (first final is Saturday!) and finally around dinner time, I gave up studying all together and watched Dr. Who instead, I cast off on the Jaywalker sock late into the night, and I couldn't be happier

Pattern : Jaywalker
Needles : US1
Yarn : The March Hare
Colorway : India Corn
Cast on : January 12
Cast off : May 12

I'm very excited. This brings my sock-knitting accomplishments up to two pairs. I kitchener stitched the toe closed without hysterics, and I'm overcoming my gusset phobia. Add to that the fact that I would have finished months earlier if the Knitting Olympics hadn't distracted me, and I'd call this an all around success.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Don't drop the spinning

A few days ago I started spinning again. It's a funny story how this happened. I went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool, and this year I went with (most) of my family; Mom, Dad, two of my brothers, and two sisters. After sitting in traffic for 2 hours and eating a yummy but not very filling lamb burger, and a hot dog, I started looking at the vendors. Now it was crowded and moving around was hard, so in the end I didn't even get to look at half of the booths, (but that's not the point). Cordell, who has a technically slanted mind, took one look at a display of spinning wheels and decided he wanted one. I tried to console him by telling him he could learn to spin on a drop spindle but he said that they were 'dumb' and he wanted a wheel. (Secretly I kinda agree, there's something really romantic about a spinning wheel that the drop spindle just can't beat). Anyway, I was frantically trying to decided what my souvenir should be this year (cause I only ever buy one thing ) And honestly, I wasn't seeing anything that really called out to me. Most of the yarn you can buy other places, and my stash is already big enough, I don't need a bunch of single balls of unique yarns. Finally, I found a stall selling beginners spindles. There was a stall that was selling CD spindles like mine for 15 bucks, plus a bit of fiber, but I think my CD spindle is too heavy and unbalanced and wanted to trade up, I ended up getting an $8 dollar Ashford spindle, and some 'scrap fiber" For Cordell and Melodie. And sure enough, even though Cordell had said that drop spindles were lame, he immediately took possession of the spindle. I gave them both lessons on how to use it and it became clear almost immediately that the small scraps of fiber I had bought for 75 cents wasn't going to be nearly enough. (You know, I thought they'd think it was cool and then get bored of it that same day, and I take the spindle home with me). Instead, I ended up giving them a large chunk of the fiber I'd bought at A Tangled Skien the last time I got the urge to spin. I figured I wasn't spinning it, so they might as well, right?
I did save myself a small bit because all of that teaching had given me the taste for it and as they say, the rest is history.

I'm sill having trouble with this fiber, it's hard for me to draft, I'm pretty much pre-drafting it to the size I want before I spin, but I'm still having problems; first my singles were underspun, and then I started spinning too thin and having it break. I spun until my CD spindle refused to spin anymore, and then I plied it using a technique which I believe is called 'navajo plying'. If anyone out there is still wondering how hard it is to navajo ply on a drop spindle, let me tell you; It's easy. When I first read about it/Watched you tube videos of it, I thought it looked way too hard to do on a spindle, but it's not. It's actually easier than spinning a consistent width which I still can't do ^^;;

Anyway, I don't think I'll have enough yarn to knit anything with, but I'm def back in the spinning game. For the first time in a long time, spinning 'real' yarn seems doable to me.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Knitting the Gusset

I see knitting the gusset of a sock as crossing a wooden bridge. You know the type I mean. A rickety rope bridge spanning a deep ravine, wood planks horribly rotted. I stand at the edge, hesitating, gingerly putting one foot on the first plank, slowly putting my whole weight on it; Clutching at my needles with sweaty hands, reading and re-reading the pattern instructions. To me, knitting the gusset is a form of black magic; A dark evil that stitches together the satanic void that separates the heal from the instep. I fear crossing the bridge because rationality tells me that it is dangerous, it would mean stepping into that deep void and falling. But more than feeling afraid of failure or death, I fear that alluring bewitching quality of the gusset. By knitting it, am I baring my soul to this black art of sock knitting? Will I become possessed by the gusset? Turn into one of those knitters who only knits socks, who knits a pair a week? That thought terrifies me. What motivates my horror of the gusset is not it's complicated execution, or it's brilliant design, not a irrational fear that I might somehow be less of a knitter if I don't master and embrace it, but a simple truth. I have never heard any stories of gusset knitting gone wrong, nor read any warnings about the dangers of the gusset. In fact, many visible knitters tackle the gusset regularly and enthusiastically without any apparent discomfort. And isn't that proof enough? Surely something so hard and daunting would leave at least a few hapless victims along the way, the mere fact that those victims remain anonymous speaks to something dire. Only some kind of sock- conspiracy could cover something this huge up. All I'm saying is, once you start knitting the gusset you are in real danger of becoming a slave to the hand-knit sock, and those knitters who refuse to bow down? The mere fact that you never hear about them strongly suggests a horrible and violent end.