monster vs. monster

what’s up, february?
February 18, 2010, 10:29 pm
Filed under: knitting | Tags: ,

I’ve been away for a few weeks, fighting a losing battle with an academic program that should be making my entire life’s dream come true. And now I’m having one of those days where I wave at a friend and spill my coffee all over myself, I reach for a bag of beans from the pantry and all the beans fall on my head, and I open my mouth to answer a question in class and a whole bunch of nothing comes out. So I thought I’d come home and do a bit of time-wasting to make myself feel better. I need some love. Knitting helps. Writing about knitting helps. Watching a really bad IFC movie while writing about knitting helps. Oh, and the glass of wine for dinner. That helps too.

First up: SOCKS. I don’t know why, but these days I’m sock crazy. I’ve been working diligently on clearing out my sock stash, first with the barn raiser quilt and now with this leftover socks pattern. I’m astounded at how much yardage those little golf-ball-sized balls actually contain – I hardly thought the leftover yarn from my laminaria would make one sock, let alone two. But here they are, and they’re fabulous. I actually made them too big for my own feet, which means that I can layer them over another pair of socks on particularly blustery days, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do when springtime rolls around. Hang them on my wall?

My absolute favorite part about these weird little ankle socks is that I ran out of the toe yarn right at the end of my project and had to darn them with a scrap of grey yarn and, well, it just looks so weird and endearing and Frankensteinian. Also, for some reason I’ve decided that the grey-toed sock is the right sock, and I can’t bear to wear it on my left foot. I tried, I failed. Weird? I identify myself as more of a left-brained person, but this ridiculous quiz tells me I’m 50-50, so maybe this is a sign that I’m turning into a right-brainer. Art school, here I come.

I’ve got a few balls of yarn that are too big for scrappy socks, so I decided to make a bunch of pairs of monkey socks. Granted, that’s a bit of a claim to make when I’m still on my first pair, but the pattern’s so easy to memorize and works so well with variegated yarn, I feel confident that my optimistic “bunch” will materialize. This koigu has been sitting in a basket since 2008 when I desperately wanted it to be a striped chevron scarf. The colors just weren’t happening, and for a while I couldn’t bear the painful memories these two skeins brought back to me. But I’m quite liking them as socks. Silver lining, two years later.

I finished a pair of Christmas-gift socks back in January, and I’ve yet to show them off. They’re a simple slipped-rib pattern, a free pattern from Knit*Six, and they make a really lovely fabric. The Trekking yarn is this sort of shiny blue-grey, perfect for BW, and the pattern showed up quite well. Also, for some reason, knitting with the really thin wool/bamboo combo felt like not knitting at all – the yarn was delightfully easy on my overworked hands and the pattern was delightfully easy on my overstuffed brain. But, again, my favorite part of this project is the weird toes.

I ran out of yarn again and ended up with a two-toned toe. I’m really starting to like these fraternal twins I’ve been making. They have a sense of personality, and it’s nice to be able to tell them apart. I’m sure they appreciate it.

Finally, to get away from the feet, a hat. I made my roommate a beret with a giant pom pom for Christmas and I’ve been seriously coveting it ever since. The weather’s been doing its chilly slushy-snow-type thing, so I decided I needed a Berroco alpaca beret of my own. I knitted it up while watching The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, taking breaks only to fill my water glass and throw my two cents into an internet debate on Vader vs. Boba Fett. The debate is ongoing, the hat is finished. I’ve worn it every day for the last two weeks because, even though it’s way too big for me, I love it. I love all of my socks, I love my hat, I love knitting.

And I love my dear sweet college-friend-turned-pen-pal for sending me the best Valentine’s Day card ever, which is on proud display in the center of my room. I love it. And gee, after all that knitting love, I really do feel better.


winter knitting
January 27, 2010, 5:39 pm
Filed under: knitting | Tags: , , , , , ,

Well, it’s the first day of the semester, which means no more shamelessly knitting for hours watching Sabrina the Teenage Witch (every episode is available here on YouTube, by the way, and I’m hoping that by conveying that knowledge to your brain I will remove it from my own). Winter break was no picnic for me but I did get a ton of knitting in. Since, sadly, the knitting marathons are now over and the reading marathons are soon to begin, I thought I’d do a little roundup post.

I’ve been working on a Barn Raising Quilt from Knitalong since – wait for it – September 2007. I was trucking along at the astonishing rate of three or four squares per year until this winter inexplicably sent me into a blanket-making frenzy. Maybe the sock yarn stash perpetually by my bedside started whispering to me in the middle of the night, maybe I just needed a mindless counterpart to final exams. Either way, I now have sixteen squares. Whoa. I love how colorful it’s turning out, and I can’t help but dream of all the sections I want to add – a strip of reds and golds, a strip of greens, maybe a strip of greys and browns (I’m not opposed to using both, though I’m sure every sensible designer in the world is screaming at me “No, no!”). I’ve got koigu, I’ve got cashmere, I’ve got BMFA and VFKW and bamboo cotton blends, and I’ve got only 26 squares to go.

What I don’t have, though, are any more sock scraps. I’ve got enough to make two more squares, and then I’m out. I promised myself I wouldn’t buy any yarn specifically for this blanket (that seemed like a dangerous door to open) and I’ve developed a distaste for repeating colors. So I’ve hit another wall with this blanket, and my fear is that now I’ll only ever choose sock or shawl yarn based on how well it meshes with a quilt that, realistically, probably won’t be done for another three years. Unless I magically stumble upon a hidden Providence sock yarn scrap stash…dare to dream.

I thought I’d be gifting myself  few more leftovers when somewhere around, oh, two weeks before Christmas I decided to knit three pairs of gift socks. I spent the holiday with some awesome parents who have been very kind to me despite my not being their child, and I couldn’t resist knitting them some matching his and hers cashmerino house socks. I used my own pattern (which someday I will write down, maybe) and since I have no qualms about wrapping still-damp garments, I got three out of four finished by the big day. BW got some manly socks, and I use “got” loosely, since I had to bring them back home with me to finish the toes. So he’ll get his in a few days. It’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Thanks to a hefty holiday gift certificate to the cave of wonder and delight that is Article Pract, the first few weeks of January saw a glorious amount of selfish knitting. I’d been itching to make another shawl ever since I put on my soft, luminous Laminaria in September and didn’t take it off for six weeks. I figured if I could make a large, shiny pile of pastel work with every outfit for a month and a half, an understated solid-color something would basically be wardrobe gold. And I guess I was right, but this project went so, so wrong. Ysolda’s Ishbel is a lovely pattern and there are some seriously gorgeous finished projects on Ravelry, and I couldn’t wait to get mine all knitted up to revel in the beauty and the luster and the general awesomeness. But, final product, not so much. The Cascade Heritage I used for this shawl turned out to be stiff and itchy, with the color falling flat and the lace springing out of shape as soon as the pins came out. It’s too small to be anything but a neckerchief, and not warm enough to do anything round my neck that comes close to making up for its weird scratchy texture. Shawl fail. I might try again with this shawl pattern someday…maybe larger, and in a color that works with my quilt…

I do, however, have a knitting success that wildly outweighs my Ishbel disaster. I finally knitted my own owls sweater! I got incredibly sick in California, which was amazing, since it gave me an excuse to watch cooking shows and infomercials and knit mindless stockinette ALL DAY LONG for, um, two weeks. I finished this sweater in five days! The pattern recommends that you bind off with a bigger needle than you knit with, but I ended up going down six needle sizes to get a crewneck-type neckline that didn’t fall off my shoulders. I haven’t gotten a chance to take pictures that do this sweater any sort of justice, but once I do, ravelry will be seriously photobombed.

I’m not good at following through on resolutions, but I do have a sort of goal for my crafting life: to knit less. It’s painful to say, but knitting slows my reading pace, gives me an excuse to watch awful television, and often keeps me awake long after the conscious part of my brain has given up. So this semester, I shall limit knitting time to the Monday night craft group and two Netflixes a week. Which is still probably way more time than I should be giving to a sedentary hobby, but hey, baby steps.

grad school SOCKS
November 22, 2009, 9:14 am
Filed under: knitting | Tags: , ,

Socks, guys. Not sucks. No no. Socks. Since August I have been on a sock rampage. With winter coming, I’m thankful for my rapidly accumulating sock stash. On the other hand, with our wood floors and lack of a mop, I’m not so thankful for the buildup of dirt and dust on the bottoms of all my beautiful socks. Maybe I should knit myself some house slippers while I’m at it.

First up are the Uptown Boot Socks from Favorite Socks. These were a trans-continental project, and somewhere during the move I lost half a ball of yarn. When I finished these I had just a teeny tiny ball the size of my thumbnail left. These socks got me knitting from the stash again and motivated me to finish a bunch of languishing projects all in a row. Bing bam boom. They also lulled me into thinking that I could knit while reading, which is not actually as true as I sometimes think it is. They’re knit in Rowan cashmerino and they are so soft and warm and lovely. One of these days I am going to knit something out of this yarn that covers my entire body. Like one of those baby burrito swaddling cloths. Or a beanie that covers my whole face.

Next, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you my first ever pattern-free socks. That’s right. I knit these babies on the fly. And they turned out perfect. I wrote down what I did as I knit, so I can type up a free “pattern-free” pattern for anyone who wants it, as soon as I get a chance. I know those patterns exist already, but they don’t include silly red heels and toes. These socks are super warm and soft and squishy and they do have silly red toes and heels and I love them.

I finished these giant fancy man socks (Gentleman’s Half-Hose from Knitting Vintage Socks) six weeks ago, but I didn’t get any good pictures while BW was here and he took them back to California with him, so they will forever look photographically unfinished. These socks were an epic adventure. I tore through the first sock, finished it in less than a week. These socks are like eleven inches high and one of the pattern rows is k1p1 so you can imagine the extent of my frenzy. The day I finished sock number one, my cohort went out drinking, and I LOST THE SOCK at the bar. Horror of horrors. Not only had I paid premium dollars for nice Koigu yarn and basically broken my hand knitting as fast as humanly possible, but now I would have to do it all again? Twice?! Unacceptable. Luckily, this all happened at a bar, so instead of moaning and rending my garments I just drank away my sorrow. A week later we all went back to the bar and my sock was hanging up on the wall. I screamed with joy and told everyone how lucky I was and danced around the room and promptly lost a pair of handknit gloves. That bar is no good for my knitting.

So I’m on a sock-roll. I’ve been working steadily on a blanket of leftover sock yarn squares, and with the leftovers from that project I’m making stash socks from Kristin Roach’s craft: post. Mine is the first project on Ravelry and that feels weird. I’ve gotten used to knitting crazy popular things and searching through other people’s photos for ideas. Oh well. Maybe other people will search me.