Friday, December 29, 2006


No, really. I am still here. What, you don't believe me? Fine. But if I didn't exist, how could I knit bumpy grey things:

Jules' sock cuff

That's the beginning of a sock for Jules, who married to my friend Lisa, who is getting those fun purple and yellow and green Socks That Rock socks. I'm just barely past the top of the cuff, where I used a ribbing variation I found in Schurch's Sensational Socks book. The rest of the sock will be 2x2 ribbing, so they're work-appropriate. (Yes, not all of us get to wear eye-blindingly bright Jaywalkers and orange lace to work.)

The bulk of what I've been working on for the past few weeks is not yet bloggable. Contrary to what I wrote about in my last post (back in the Cretaceous period), I haven't yet knit the thumbs on my Komi mittens. Instead, I worked on that gift for a friend that I mentioned, which I want to keep under wraps until she receives it. It's going to be even more exciting than I let on in the last post, but that's all you get to read about it for now, in case she's reading. I'm really bad about keeping gifts a secret, so you better believe it's painful to be so silent about this. Particularly because said gift is blocking at this very moment, almost ready for photographs.

Now that I've teased you with things you can't yet see, here's a nice list of things to look forward to around these parts in early 2007 (a year which can't come soon enough):
  • be-thumbed and completed Komi mittens for me

  • super secret mystery gift (which you won't get photos of until it makes it all the way to Canada)

  • grey ribbed socks. That may sound boring, but I am confident there will be beauty in their simplicity.

  • a baby sweater

  • purple Austrian patterned socks

  • various smallish projects with various bits and pieces of leftover worsted weight yarn, details to be determined as I go

  • chevron socks that aren't Jaywalkers (imagine that!)

  • something lacy made from alpaca

disclaimer: Of course, nothing on that list is a promise. But all are quite likely. It is part of the grand use-up-stash project of 2007, aka "there is no money for new yarn", aka "there is no need to fret about no new yarn when there is enough old yarn to keep one happy for several weeks."

Also look forward to the tale of four thumbs, and a review of the most splendiferous knitting book I've ever laid eyes on. And the end of the official part of the Sweaters From Camp knitalong. Speaking of which, here are some updates:
  • Becki has made great progress on her Snow Sky. Probably tons more since she posted that.

  • Linda finished her Northwest Sunset vest!

  • Shirley has started the Prince of Wales vest.

See you again when I have thumbs.

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Friday, December 08, 2006


I've been feeling under the weather for a bit, so knitting has been slow. It's frustrating because I really enjoy working on the mittens, but just don't have the mental stamina necessary to work on them for more than an hour or so at a time.

Komi mittens - December 8, 2006

I do have to admit that one of the things keeping me from the mittens today has been working on a hat pattern for a friend. As you can see, I'm deliciously close to closing up that second mitten. But why work on that when I can sit in front of a computer and make charts in Excel? In fact, I'm so eager to start on the hat that I'll be tempted to swatch for it this evening instead of working on the mitten. She needs the hat more than I need my mittens. Plus, they'll probably be on nice, fat size 2 needles. Instant gratification knitting! (Yes, that is partially tongue in cheek.)

So that's my brief story for the week. I'm not sure if I'm going to blog about the hat before it reaches its destination, in case the recipient peeks her head in and doesn't want to have the surprise spoiled. (She knows she's getting the hat. She just doesn't know what species of hat it will be.) It's funny how I've ended up knitting so much for others this winter, even though not one iota of it is a holiday gift. But the mittens are all mine, and I'll be back when they're done.

Friday, December 01, 2006

I still exist.

We're moved, and I'm knitting.

The new place is great, and I'm mostly settled in. The one part of my life that isn't unpacked are my knitting supplies, since I used to store it all in built-in cabinets at our old place. But I don't have all that much, anyway, so a few cardboard boxes aren't all that terrible. When I get through more of the stash, I might decide that I don't need new yarn storage space after all.

I've actually done a fair amount of knitting in the past few weeks, though most of it is either not that exciting or not yet for public consumption. I got a start on the second Komi mitten before we moved, finished 3 more sock yarn baby hats, and after we moved managed to knit a pair of socks in 5 days:

socks for Lisa

Socks for my friend Lisa, knit in Socks That Rock (lightweight), in the Scottish Highlands colorway. I used my basic fallback sock pattern: size 1 needles, 64 stitches, 3x1 ribbing, top-down with heelflap and gusset. I had hoped to do something sightly more interesting for these socks, but the colors are so powerful that anything more complicated than ribbing would have been too much.

This was my first time using Socks That Rock, and it was even nicer than I anticipated. I liked it better than Koigu. (Granted, I've only knit one pair of Koigu socks.) I didn't realize that STR is a 3-ply, which I prefer to Koigu's 2-ply construction. There is a very soft sturdiness about it that reminds me of a really old, worn pair of jeans. A soft, cottony feel, but with all the stretch and character of wool. I'm still not so sure about their variegated colorways, but I look forward to eventually knitting some socks for myself out of their nearly-solids, or perhaps one of the more tone-on-tone variegated colorways.

I'll soon be knitting a pair of socks for Lisa's husband, out of Gems Pearl. (One advantage of knitting for other people is getting to try out yarns for free.) I remember hearing somewhere that this is actually the base yarn used for KPM and KPPPM, but I'm doubting that now that I've examined the yarn. I swatched, and the yarn feels thinner than Koigu, and the plying doesn't seem to be quite as tight. These are just observations, not complaints. I adored the feel of the swatched fabric, and while these won't be the most exciting socks to knit (mostly plain ribbing, in a solid color), the yarn will make it an enjoyable experience. Even if it turns out that this yarn isn't the base for Koigu, it still feels similar, and is much cheaper. If I like the final product as much as the swatch, this may become a staple sock yarn for me.

I'm afraid that I now become one of those annoying people who writes about super secret projects that are just wonderful, but which they can't yet share. Several weeks ago, while struggling with a failing sock design idea, I came up with a different, better sock design idea. I spent several days knitting swatches, and finally came up with a keeper a few days ago. I'm sending it, along with a design proposal, to Interweave Knits. If they don't want it, I may self-publish it. But since I'm still in the process of trying to get someone else to publish it, I really shouldn't share too much. So here's a cryptic sneak-peek of one part of the sock. It doesn't really display what's special and unique about the sock, but it's still a pretty picture.

sock teaser

I used Harrisville Shetland Style (from the second ball of the cream color I anticipate not needing for the Komi mittens), which worked a lot better than I expected for this design. I chose it because it was my only option for a fingering weight yarn in a light, solid color. When knit up in size 1 needles (as opposed to size 00 for the mittens), and washed in Eucalan, it's surprisingly soft for something that markets itself as being similar to Shetland. I consider it against-the-skin soft, though of course it's no merino. The stitch definition is beautiful, and while it doesn't knit up as evenly as some other yarns at first, the fabric improves greatly with a wash and mild blocking. I can't begin to express how excited I am about this design. Even if IK hates it, I'll still be elated with it. Not to toot my own horn too loudly, but it's quite the clever design, and different from any sock I've ever seen. I put a lot of work in to improve small design details, and am as proud of my effort as I am of the final swatch. I also designed a cable pattern. It's not that complicated, and I wouldn't be surprised if it already exists somewhere. But it's new to me, and is something I did on my own instead of taking it from a book. What a mighty feeling of accomplishment.

That's all for today. Posting might still be slow for the next few weeks, as I knit those socks for Jules and get around to the second mitten, which will look just like those photos I posted of the first mitten. See you again in a bit.