Saturday, August 25, 2007


I was all prepared to on at great length about our beautiful autumnal weather, my sudden urge to knit everything in my Ravelry queue right now(67 projects and counting, the horror), and how all three of my current projects match the new season so beautifully. Too bad we're going to teeter on the edge of setting a record high temperature today (in the mid-90's Fahrenheit), with enough humidity that I'm sure I'll feel like I'm drowning in my own living room. Thanks, friggin August, for taking the fall breeze out of my sails and replacing it with tropical gusts.

But at least I can show you what I was working on, and what I'll try to continue working on in our one (cramped and poorly lit, alas) air conditioned room. First of all, I finished The Socks. I can't show you them yet, but here's a teaser of what the Harrisville looks like in stockinette, from the sole of the foot.

sock teaser

I haven't blocked them yet, so the fabric is still looking a bit rustic. This yarn benefits dramatically from even the laziest of blockings. (In other words, wash and let dry flat.) Isn't the heathered lilac just lovely?

And of course, these socks have earned me my first Cast On Knitting Scout badge:

Normally, of course, such a gesture would be in jest in this situation. But you've read the story (or are welcome to, if you haven't but are curious about what this whole paragraph is about), so it should be clear that the gesture is meant quite literally. As an update, my swatch was finally returned to me last week, without explanation or apology, accompanied by a quite generic and uninspiring rejection letter (fake digitized signature and all). Horrid timing, as I'd just spend a lot of time and energy reinventing the wheel to finish the sock design without that "lost" swatch. I'm glad to have the letter in hand, so I can feel perfectly free to do with the design idea as I like. But I feel even more like a number than before. Well, at least the lesson that this impersonal (and in my case, disrespectful) Knitting Industry is not for me has been well learned. Happy to buy the magazine issues that interest me, and leave it to more hardy (and famous) souls to deal with them on a one-on-one basis. (Bitter much? Yeah, but I have faith that the Knitty rejection will be downright pleasant compared to this fiasco.)

So now that I've filled the room with bitter spite, how about some other knitting? I discovered that a small gnome or elf of some sort had been tinkering in my knitting basket, and managed to cast on for the second sleeve of the Autumn Color Cardigan while I was busy with other things. I swear, I have no memory of casting on for it weeks ago, but apparently did so, and knit the cuff and first 10 rounds of the first chart. Or it was a gnome. Imagine that! I worked a little bit more on it this past week:

Autumn Color Cardigan sleeve 2

I also cast on a new pair of socks. Brenda was kind enough to have Erin send me one of skeins of yarn dyed in an attempt to perfect the colorways for the Brother Amos socks. It turned out quite autumnal (see, there's that cool breeze, trying to push its way through the humidity again), and very much to my liking. It's busier than I'd ordinarily choose for a yarn, but I'm making it work for me in that nearly ubiquitous simian sock pattern:

Monkey in progress

The yarn is from C*EYE*BER Fiber, and the unique colorway is called "Purgatory Orphan", which tickles me to no end. Monkeys In Purgatory. My kind of socks. Especially in these gorgeous colors. If you want a closer look at the eye of partridge heelflap (a new favorite technique), there's this photo.

The third project I kinda, sorta have started is another secret, for now. I can tell you that it's lace, it's self designed (no stitch dictionaries), and is part of a collaboration with Zabet for a project that will hopefully appear in the fall issue of The Anticraft. It was the product of a very fun brainstorming session, and should be rather weird and slightly gross, while also being highly functional and sensible. My yarn just arrived (earlier than I expected), so it may be my weekend project to finalize the design and cast on. Look for it in a couple of months!

I was going to do a couple of book reviews in this post, but I think that would be too much content for one day, so I'll put them off a bit. I also have an unexpected "disappointed in product" review, but I've already whined more than my fair share in this post, and couldn't possibly subject you to more of that right now. Instead, I'll end with many thanks to the people who congratulated me on my county fair ribbons. I assure you, the sweater and mittens are blushing profusely, and quite appreciative of their adoring fans.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

I'm so blue.

I won at the fair

Look at those shiny blue ribbons! I hope you don't mind if I indulge in this moment of head-swelling pride. My Komi Mittens and Vertical Stripes Pullover won "first premium" in their respective categories at the Cheshire Fair. The sweater was even a last minute decision on my part; I figured I'd throw it in, just for the heck of it. Good decision, I guess. I did have very high hopes for the mittens. They're perhaps the most technically sound project I've ever knit, in addition to being visually striking. I admit that I would have been disappointed if they didn't win. But I think the sweater does have its flaws, and I was pleasantly surprised to see it come out on top.

I don't knit to win shiny ribbons, but it is a confidence booster. I have the best sweater and mittens in the entire county. Imagine that! I've not been sitting on my laurels, though. I've spent the week since my last post in serious swatch mode, working on the Not-Interweave-Socks (uh, I think they need a better nickname), as well as a side project.

My little side project got started because I discovered that the yarn I had bought for my main sock design project just wasn't right. There isn't anything at all wrong with the yarn, but the knitted fabric didn't have the sturdiness or stitch definition I really want for this project. (For the record, that yarn I'm no longer using is Lisa Souza's 100% merino sock yarn. It's incredibly soft, the semi-solids are beautiful, the yardage is fantastic, and I enjoyed knitting with it. It will be used with love in another project, but not in this one.) I asked a few friends for their recommendations for sock yarn that would work with my project, and am saving up their recommendations for when I publish the pattern. I ended up going with what my original (lost) swatch was knit in -- Harrisville New England Shetland. The gauge and fabric is right, the stitch definition is enough to make my knees weak, and the heathered colors are frankly more gorgeous than 99% of the hand dyed yarn I see people mooning over all over the internet. I live only 12 miles from Harrisville, so was able to go to the store in person on Saturday to choose the perfect color.

Harrisville New England Shetland

I didn't have to think about it. That color jumped right off the shelf. Lilac -- a perfect match with my pattern. The actual knitting is coming along slowly. I was about halfway through the leg when I realized that there were a couple of small changes I wanted to make. I was very good natured about starting over. This design is my baby, and it's worth every second it takes to get it just right. I'm proud of it already, and want to be as proud of it as possible when it's eventually published. Details count, and details there will be. In fact, I'm still working out a few details, which means more swatching tonight, before I continue with the leg. I need to prepare for things that come later down the leg.

During the several days between when I realized the Lisa Souza yarn wasn't destined for this pattern and when I could make it to Harrisville to buy my yarn, I played around with a variation on the short row heel. It was pretty freeform, without notes or a lot of research, but it was a good start. Eventually I'll have to sit down and more systematically figure out how to make things look and act exactly as I like. I think it might be a good project for when I'm working on the Autumn Color Cardigan again, and need a little colorwork break.

I also spent some of that time doing some last minute swatching for Brenda's upcoming Brother Amos sock pattern. It's a fabulous pattern, full of thoughtful, interesting details, as well as a bit of humor. I hope you all give a little to her tip jar when the pattern is out, so you can get your own copy. It will be more than worth it.

I won't be able to post much about my sock design, because I still think I'm going to submit it to Knitty. While I'm working on that, I hope to bring you a book review or two. A publisher was kind enough to offer me two review copies of new knitting books, and I think I have enough that's interesting to say about at least one of them to make a decent blog post. While I'm not providing you with photos of knitting (I know, secret knitting on blogs is annoying, even if you're the one doing it), I can entertain you with other photos. I've finished uploading and organizing the photos from our California trip. The entire collection can be found here, organized by day so it's not so overwhelming.

precariously perched tree 1
(See, don't you want to go look at all of them, now?)