Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Just the Facts, Ma'am

Some things are indisputable. Death and taxes. Into each life some rain must fall. I don't much like green yarn. A single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. Easy isn't always the same as better. Yarn club shipments are a toss-up.

I suppose it was inevitable that my next Malabrigo Club project would be full of, well, green yarn.

This is Malabrigo worsted in lettuce. Lots of it because the project is a sweater. Sigh.

Now, much must be said in favor of a club that includes sweaters. As noted over the past few posts, I am deeply devoted to sweaters. Further, in these grey and gloomy hind-end of winter days, green is a good idea. I just can't get mind around a sweater in this green.

More indisputable facts. This is not a pale green. Not a wishy-washy, just kidding, apologetic, poor excuse for itself. This is bright. New leaf bright. Little kid bright. It doesn't quite fluoresce, but it wants to.

Truth be told, I've been hiding from the yarn for a few weeks now. Trying to come up with a project engaging enough to overcome the almost overwhelming need I feel every time I look at it to start screaming for a blindfold, or at least a darkened room.

It is perfect for Afghans for Afghans. In addition to (bleh) socks, a4A is asking for child-size blankets. After sweaters, blankets are my favorite thing to knit. Green is a favored color in Afghanistan.

Final indisputable fact: this I can knit.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Reality Checking

First off. After some reflection, it occurs to me that there might be those who feel my reporting of sock-related data is less than even-handed, might even be called biased. That I might have been a bit disingenuous with the facts I chose to reveal.

Never let it be said that I report unfairly.

Should you happen to choose to do a pattern search for, say, "sweater," on Ravelry, you'll get 492 pages (9828 matches) for this supremely useful and delightful object. A similar search for "worsted" under "yarn" resulted in a mere 20 pages (544 matches). This seemed grossly under-reported, so I searched under "Yarns" again, this time selecting worsted from the "weight" filter, producing a more realistic report: 202 pages (4034 matches). Allow me to interpret these results for you. Clearly, those of us who knit sweaters with worsted wool feel, in our exuberance and generosity of spirit, a well-founded desire to share the wealth, spread the joy, welcome others into the happy place called Sweaterland. See? The difference between sock knitting and sweater knitting is self-evident. At least to sweater knitters.

Second. It's done. They're done.

Well, not done done. They still need to be blocked. But the tedium is all behind me now. Nothing but good times ahead.

Third. I don't know what the blue yarn is, but it's not Dale of Norway Baby Ull.

Oh no. Does this mean I have to knit another sock?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's After Me

That little blue sock is stalking me. I know it. You may think it's just sitting there on the dining room table, but it's after me. I tell myself it's only a few more rows before I can shape the toe and graft it and then I never have to knit another sock in my whole life. A mere 32 stitches a row for maybe 4 or 5 more rows and then I get to decrease down to 6 Kitchener stitches. Yet it hasn't happened. The photo in the previous post? I could post the same one today. The only change would be that Liz (the cat) took out her extreme fascination with blue yarn (and, we have noted over the years, she is only compelled by blue 100% wool yarn) on it.

It's not knitting row after row after row. Since I started the socks, John's Island Embrace Variation II afghan is a good 4 to 6 inches along. That's four to six inches of 120 garter-stitch rows.

It's not knitting in the round. The someday-to-be-steeked cardigan in the round a la Elizabeth Zimmermann that I'm making for the Himself has acquired another 2 or 3 inches. That's 2 to 3 inches at 200 stitches per row.

The sock? With it's paltry 32 stitches in the round? Languishes.

It's clearly not knitting that I'm off of. It's the sock. It's just annoying. All that fiddly stuff with the heel flap. The weird little short rows and decreases to turn the heel. Slogging through further decreases for the gusset. Then round and round like a dementedly boring merry-go-round ride while I try to get the foot to the point where I can end it all. All that and what will I have when I'm done? Not a sweater that's for sure.

Meanwhile it's like those trick portraits where the eyes seem to follow you around the room. Accusingly at that. Pretty soon I'm going to be spending all my time in the kitchen, the front room, the bathroom, the hallways, anywhere that the sock can't see me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Not For the Faint-Hearted

Sweet Angels of Mercy, you people do this all the time? On purpose? Without duress?

There are 424 pages, pages, of sock patterns on Ravelry. 96 pages of sock yarn. Do you wonder why there are 8466 sock patterns? What the need for 1914 matches for sock yarn might be? Do you want to know why? Do you want to know just what the little secret is that Sock Knitters don't tell you?

Knitting socks is boring. Mind-numbingly boring. Put out your eyes with your dpn's boring. And I've just finished a garter stitch afghan. I know boring.

Diane says the challenge with socks is to knit another just like the first.

I don't know if I can bear it.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I have this peculiar relationship with time. I keep expecting it to conform to my necessities. I should know better. It didn't behave over Clare's Christmas break, so she left without her scarf. A six inch scarf, after all, isn't of much use. She was philosophical about it, observing that that's what birthdays are for. No problem. Her birthday was weeks and weeks away then.

And now it's not. Fearing Determined that her birthday cannot happen wihout this scarf, I have been knitting something fierce.

This was yesterday.

This is today.

Sometimes, time obeys me. Or perhaps knitting time does?

I don't think I'll get the thrummed mittens done, though.

Monday, February 09, 2009

It's a Swatch

The cast-on is too tight. Apparently I have a disconnect between the ability to cast on loosely and the amount of stretch I deem necessary for a sock cuff.

The ankle is too short.

The foot is too long, unless, of course, one is planning a gift for the Yeti's first-born.

And despite balancing finer yarn (the pattern calls for sport, not fingering, weight) and being the world's tightest knitter against the recommended needle size for the pattern and knitting for the longer sock, the sock is not baby-size.

I'd rather have a sleeve.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

I Don't Do

Disney on Ice. Milk in coffee. Patience. The glad suffering of fools. Hand knit socks.

Especially hand-knit socks. The idea of wearing wool on my feet invariably calls to mind the aunts in Dylan Thomas' "A Child's Christmas In Wales." The aunts who "always wore wool next to the skin" and "gave mustached and rasping vests that made you wonder why the aunts had any skin left at all." Give me some nice store-bought cotton socks. I'm not quite a bag for a buck at the five and dime type, but I will cheerfully hand over $5 or $10 at TJ Maxx.

Further, the process holds no appeal for me. I've heard the drill. The merits of a short row heel. The fiddly bit about gussets. The satisfaction of Kitchener stitch successfully completed. The woes of second sock syndrome. It all fails to quicken my heartbeat. When bloggers start flirting with Sock Mode, I click over to another blog. I figure if I'm going to knit that many stitches, I want a sweater. Or at least, as Clare and Diane (both sock knitters) have pointed out to me, the sleeve of a sweater. I expected to wander through the rest of my knitting career blissfully using sock yarn for afghan squares and fingerless mitts.

When the call went out from afghans for Afghans for the Spring 2009 Campaign, I fully intended to let February go by. Baby blankets in March; that's what I was going to get behind. Socks for babies? Actual socks? Actual hand-knit socks? Actual hand-knit socks as in not booties? I don't think so.

I don't do socks.

Of course, baby stuff is small. Were I to contemplate sock knitting (not that I was), baby socks might be something I would consider. Not a lot of stitches in a round, if the round only has to make the circumference of a baby's leg (not that I care). Not a lot of rows, either. Unlike their heads, babies legs are not disproportionate to their overall size (not that I've been checking).

Then a4A sent out a second letter. Dang it.

I'm still not doing Disney on Ice.

Friday, February 06, 2009


Haven't I been good this week? Aren't you impressed? Don't I deserve a reward? I think I do. I'm going to indulge in Friday Foolery. It didn't seem fair when I was hardly posting at all, but I think I've earned it this week.

You Scored an A

You got 10/10 questions correct.

It's pretty obvious that you don't make basic grammatical errors.

If anything, you're annoyed when people make simple mistakes on their blogs.

As far as people with bad grammar go, you know they're only human.

And it's humanity and its current condition that truly disturb you sometimes.

So true, so true. Now go have fun.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Art vs. Life

What is it called when you have a story that teaches a lesson? Not fable. Not parable . A *something * tale. I think it's medieval. I have one of those today.

It all started with a brown coat. I usually buy black. I've had black coats for years and years ands years. Hence, all my accessories revolve around black. Black hats. Black gloves. Black printed scarves. Note that. Printed scarves. The scarves are where I go for color. I have to do something or people would think me a Johnny Cash imitator. The thing is, most of my scarves don't work with my new brown jacket. In a word, they clash. The only scarf that doesn't is the Scribble Lace scarf (there on the far right) I made early in my knitting days.

The Scribble scarf was an adventure for me. I was so new to knitting -- a couple of months into it as opposed to now, with all of a couple of years -- I didn't understand how the rows of stitches work together, with subsequent rows determining how the stitches present themselves. I was at the follow the pattern slavishly stage, because none of it really made sense but it all seemed to work. Truly magical. I love my Scribble Lace Scarf.

And here we come to the meat of the matter. Scribble Lace is art, and art can only imitate life. It's beautiful, but it is clearly not wearable. It catches on things. Anything. Hangers. Keys. Corners. Coat hooks. Zippers. Buttons. That little knob on the deadbolt lock. For a Scribble scarf, the world is a perilous place.

I've given up trying to realign the stitches and now just try to loop it through in such a way that the biggest snags don't show. I'm wearing it, but only because it's what I have and it's been freaking cold out there.

I may need toget a life, but I've been giving serious consideration to what I want in a scarf. I like to wrap scarves around my neck a couple of times; I need length. I don't like the feeling of wearing a neck brace; I don't want bulk or stiffness. Long and pliable, those are the keywords. Well, Scribble is long and pliable, so I suppose I have to add long, pliable, and not loosely knit ("No one expects the Spanish Inquisition ....our two main weapons are ... three, three main weapons ...").

This is what I've some up with.

The yarn is Reynold's Odyssey in 503, picked up at the actual (as in not virtual) Patternworks store that fateful trip to New Hampshire when Amtrak lost my yarn suitcase. It's a merino worsted weight, which meant, in my quest to avoid bulk, I didn't want a wide scarf. Since the yarn is variegated, I went looking for a pattern that would break it up a little. I decided a bias knit would work, something along the lines of Grandma's Favorite Dishcloth (ArtisanAmy has a picture if you scroll down a bit). Then I realized I didn't want to work it in garter stitch. I find that garter stitch, while it can be stretchy, is not always flowy - that whole stiffness issue. Which is how I came to choose "Elizabeth's Wool-Angora Diagonal Scarf" from Luxury One Skein Wonders. It has the yo increases like Grandma's Favorite, which I think pretty, but it's stockinette, so it will drape better than garter stitch (I hope).

All of which sums up why I am not an artful knitter. I once read that someone described their home as "for use, not for show." That's the lesson I learned, the moral of the story.That's how I want to knit, with the additional requirement that something made for use can also be beautiful.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

A Promise is a Promise, No Matter How Small

Shamelessly misquoted from Dr. Seuss's Horton Hears a Who, the Jim Carrey version of which John and I recently watched. John loved it. Must be a boy thing. I mean really. Jesse McCartney as Jojo?

I admit the promise was only to me, that, having wantonly neglected the blog for lo, these many weeks, I would post something every day this week. But my Internet has gone all wonky today. I suspect it's not happy to be back in single digit temperatures after those few days of "seasonable" weather. Besides it's all cold and drafty here where I type the blog (I may have anthropomorphised my Internet connection a bit, or was that projecting? or both?). All in all, the conditions are not conducive to cleverness, or even original thought.

Then. Then, Blogger ate my words. I've heard of feeding one's blog, but had always taken it as metaphor before. Still, a promise is a promise.

All of which means you'll have to settle for a little Yarn Pr0n. Behold, John's Blanket, a.k.a. Island Blanket Variation #2.

That's Noro Yoroi (the same as Marco's) in colorway 4 (John's stash still had the tags), and Manos del Uruguay in X (the topaz) and 13 (the dark Sherwood-y green). Cast on 120 stitches (although Marco's ended up with 119, which means either I lost one along the way or miscounted from the very beginning) on US 11/8 mm circulars. Knit for about two years.

I meant what I said and I said what I meant. A knitter is faithful one hundred per cent.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Hobson's Choice

Hobson owned a livery stable. The story goes that, while he kept a lot of horses (since he mostly rented to the vast population of students in Oxford, or maybe Cambridge), he would only rent the horse closest to the stable door. In other words, Hobson's choice is no choice. My way or the highway. A Pig in a poke. Caveat emptor.

It's kind of like joining a yarn club.

Some of you may remember, my first yarn club experience was not happy. I joined one that promised it would be projects other than socks and the first pattern they sent was - yup - socks. Just to add insult to injury, the colors were Barbie clothes color, and not the classy Barbie of the 60's; the slutty Barbie of the 90's. Happily, subsequent shipments were to drool over. But that first shipment taught me a lesson. When you join a yarn club, you puts your money down and you takes your chances.

Which should have prepared me for my second yarn club, but didn't. This time I joined the Malabrigo Yarn Club over at Eat.Sleep.Knit. E.S.K. is one of my favorite online yarn stores. They carry Dream in Color. Lorna's Laces. Shibui. They were my yarn store of choice for the first yarn club. Anyway. Joining a yarn club means a free pattern and treats in every shipment. I figured this was an unloseable proposition. I mean, it's Malabrigo, right? How could I miss with Malabrigo plus treats?


That's how. The yarn is Malabrigo Chunky. The color is Brisa. According to Wikipedia, Brisa is the northeasterly wind that blows on the coast of South America during the trade wind season. I say it's Barbie all over again.

Which is why I went back to Eat.Sleep.Knit and picked out my own yarn.

This I can make up into a cowl I'll wear.

Sometimes I'll take my chances. Sometimes, yarn club or no yarn club, Mr. Hobson can get stuffed.

Monday, February 02, 2009

A Double Helping

St. Bridgid's Day (although technically that was yesterday, not at all clear why she is invoked today on so many blogs). Groundhog Day. Candlemas. Eve of the Feast of St. Blaise (patron saint of wool workers). Call it what you will. It's time for my favorite annual blog event. This year (the 4th) I even managed to remember in time to participate.

I couldn't decide. Pretend one of them was for last year.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

It Couldn't Be

I can't believe it. It's not one of the 6 impossible things I ever expected to imagine before breakfast, or during or, as was the case, after. I have a Finished Object for you. Not just any Finished Object.

The long-running, never ending, Variation on the Splendid Sofa/Island Surprise Blanket. It's been featured off and on here since I don't know when. Wait. Yes I do.

It marks so many milestones.

First major project.

First eBay yarn buying.

First realization that 10 skeins of something isn't always as much as you think it is.

First (and only) time a Public Carrier lost one of my suitcases.

I know it's done because I ran out of yarn at the bind-off.


The yarn - Noro Iro in Something or Other, Manos del Uruguay Worsted in I Don't Remember (the turquoise) and No Idea (the blue). Knit according to Cat Bordhi's pattern that I found here (it's still free).

My word. I almost don't know what to do with myself. I guess it really has been as cold a winter as I think it is. Color me gobsmacked.

It couldn't be. I didn't think it would ever be. But it is.