Thursday, June 29, 2006

To Flash or Not to Flash

There is a "flash your sock yarn stash" going on at Knittyboard right now. I jumped right in before considering the consequences of letting it all hang out. I am well aware that I have an outrageous amount of sock yarn (There are actually a number of us around the 70 pair mark - I'm at 71).

I love knitting socks and I love sock yarn. I have the money and space for my sock yarn collection. The amount I have spent on this sock yarn I would have spent at least as much on cigarettes in one year (good thing I quit smoking almost a year ago!). Believe it or not, I know what pattern I will use with each and every skein of yarn - I love to make lists! So, to all those people that like some gratuitous sock yarn pictures, please enjoy. Anyone else...Come back soon! :)

Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock

Top Row: Vera, Rainbow, Black Purl, Chocolate Mint Stripe, Bucks Bar, Embers, and Pacific Berries
Bottom Row: Sage, Brick, Peach, Carrot, Douglas Fir, Blackberry, and Safari

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock

Atomic #6, Citrine, Lucy in the Sky, Harvest Moon, & Kryptonite

Top Row: Simply Stripes Vineyard, Sock Garden Hollyberry, Sock Garden Zinnia, and Essential Navy
Bottom Row: Landscape Cape Cod, Memories Fly Fishing, Landscape Mesa, Landscape Redwood Forest, and Essential Burgundy

Various Handpainted (Vesper, Sunshine Yarns, Claudia Hand Painted, Cherry Tree Hill, Fleece Artist, Mountain Colors, Koigu)
Top Row: Fleece Artist Merino Rose Garden, Fleece Artist Merino Jester, Cherry Tree Hill Birches, Mountain Colors Bearfoot Sierra, Koigu P858, and Koigu Yellow
Bottom Row: Claudia Hand Painted Red Wagon, and Claudia Hand Painted Chocolate Cherry, Sunshine Yarns Gryffindor Stripe, Sunshine Yarns Olive Stripe, and Vesper Astro

Hill Country Yarns
Scratch & Dent Aggies, Scratch & Dent Peachy Pink, Scratch & Dent Pecan, Scratch & Dent Blue Bonnet, Sweet Feet Honey Butter Striping, and Sweet Feet Chocolate Covered Kisses Striping

Trekking XXL
Top Row: 06, 100, 106, 66, and 78
Bottom Row: 30, 105, 05, 71, and 107

Opal, Fortissima, Lang Jawoll, Regia
Top Row: Opal Rainforest Chameleon, Opal Rainforest Ladybug, Forever Jacquard #20, Regia Crazy Colors, Lang Jawoll Jacquard #82
Bottom Row: Fortissima Colori Socka Disco #'s 9050, 9051, 9052, 9053

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Wednesday Update

Not much excitement in my world of knitting right now. I'm on the home stretch to finish up my June projects (aside from lining those bags...not sure when that will happen...). The Shaped Neck Tee is going along just fine. Not sure if I'll be ok on the Rowan Calmer yardage yet, but so far so good. The Calmer is such a pleasure to knit. Even though it is almost entirely cotton, I don't get any fatigue in my hands. I'm about 11 inches into the 16 inch stockinette part so it's been great mindless knitting. The KnitPicks options needles are still great. No unscrewing!

Here is a picture of the almost completed pair of Cable Rib Socks (pattern from Spring 2005 Interweave Knits, yarn is Lorna's Laces in Carol Green). I'm nearly to the heel and I hope to do that part at lunch today so that I have just the foot to work on at knitting GROUP tonight. These socks have been a real pleasure to knit. As much as I'm falling in love with my Socks that Rock, there's just something so nice about Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock. I think it's all about the color saturation and slight give to the yarn.

So, I'm curious, what is everyone's favorite colorway for Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock? Are you more partial to the fabulous variegated colors or the subtle shading of the nearly solids? For that matter, I would love to hear what is everyone's favorite sock yarn and colorway? - any brand.

I never thought I'd be a fan of solid sock yarn, but Lorna's Laces nearly solid colors are so neat with the soft variation of color intensity. I love hitting an inch or so of really dark green before the yarn goes right back to the intense lighter green...Mmmmm, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock...mmmmm.

And here's a picture of my new sock bag from Trek! We worked out a nice swap and within a couple days I had this pretty little bag. Of course, you can't have too many sock bags, especially sock bags that have cute little argyle ribbons - how fun! This picture also gives you a sneakpeek at what's coming up on the July knitting list. More details at the beginning of next month:)

And a little reminder to those North Shore area knitters - Knitting GROUP is tonight at the Borders in Wilmette (the corner of Lake and Skokie) from 6:30 until 8:00 in the cafe. If you're in the area, we'd love to see you there!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Yarn for Sale and Options Happiness

First of all, I've listed some yarn on ebay. Go here if your interested in bidding on 6 skeins of Noro Gemstones. While I've often bought yarn on Ebay, this is my first foray into selling, but I think I've got the hang of it:)

CIMG14571The Noro Gemstones is pretty spectacular. I finally tracked some down on Ebay last fall so that I could knit the Chinese Charm Bag from Stitch 'N Bitch. Well, I knit that this past weekend and found I have 6 skeins left, so check out my Ebay auction if you are interested. This is some fabulous yarn and I love my nearly completed Chinese Charm Bag. I used my new KnitPicks Options needle set - size 10 needle. I decided to be brave and see what would happen if I didn't use the tightening key to screw on my needle tips. You want to know what happened? Nothing. Those tips did not budge a micron. Pretty cool. While I am still adjusting to the very sharp points on the Options Needles, I am thrilled by the set and look forward to using it again and again. Yea! The bag still needs to be lined and then I can attach the handles. I'll try to get to a fabric store soon so that I can finish it up and start using it:)

CIMG14521I also started another project this weekend with my new KnitPicks needles - the Shaped Neck Tee. I'm not using the recommended Hemp yarn, as much as I would like to, since I'm still trying to stay with my FEAP (fiber enhancement alleviation program). So, I'm knitting this top in Rowan Calmer. I had bought the Calmer months ago to knit Tempting II, but then decided I would never be happy with that buckle detail. I'm keeping my fingers crossed (which is hard to do while you knit - hehe) that I have enough of the Calmer to knit this top. I should be ok, but you know how patterns are always a bit vague on necessary yardage (It seems like they are always give or take one hundred yards). Plus, to add to the thrill of possibly running out of yarn...this Calmer is in a discontinued color (Peacock) so finding more might be very difficult or impossible. So, wish me luck!

Also, all the pieces of Tasha are complete, but I just haven't had a chance to run it all through the wash and sew it up. Maybe some night this week...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Good Thing About Sick Days...

Just a little while ago I was sitting in my living room home sick from work, feeling rather miserable, and watching Anne of Green Gables, when the doorbell rings. It was the mail carrier with a package for me - my new KnitPicks Options Needle Set! Here's the quick rundown of my first impressions (Sorry for the strange photo formatting...blogger is being weird, as usual, so I had to use flickr for some of the photos):

What I love:

  • The case is adorable - sleek and useful. It even has a place for a pen. Only thing is I wish it wasn't black as even 30 minutes after opening the box, there is now cat hair on it.

  • The case is expandable so that you can add more pockets. Perfect so that you can carry with you all those extra knitting accessories. Plus there are interior pockets that can hold a pattern or notes as well as a zippered pocket for all those stray little doodads.

  • CIMG14151The tips are exceptionally pointy. Perfect! I did a quick swatch using Rowan Calmer (I'm using it for my next project) and the points were terrific for the slightly splitty yarn. I cannot wait to knit some lace with these bad boys.
  • The needle shafts are a great length. Very comfortable for my hands (long fingers and slightly larger hand).
  • The general heft of the needles is great. I use my Denise needles for a lot of my knitting, but I never liked their lack of substance. These new KnitPicks needles have a weight to them that is very nice - not too much, but not too little.
  • CIMG14261The join is very nice and smooth. Again, comparing this to the Denise set, I have snapped a couple Denise needles at the join before, especially during a large decrease or increase section or while using yarn with less give (cotton, hemp). Of course, they are fantastic about replacing the needle, but it's a bummer when it happens. Well the KnitPicks needles have a very smooth and secure metal join and especially I use the included tightening key I doubt I'll have any trouble with these joins snapping. The yarn also pulled very easily over the join - another big plus.
  • The cords are much thinner than the Denise cords. These are more like addi turbo cords - hooray!
  • I really like that I can easily order more sizes of needles and cords as I need them. I use size 4 and 5 a lot so I'm sure I'll be ordering a couple extra sets. Very convenient.

Things I don't like so much:

  • You cannot create custom cord lengths like you can with the Denise set. This is a bit of a bummer as that is really handy when you want to try something on for sizing, but you don't want to move it all to waste yarn. Hopefully they will add some connector pieces to the kit soon.
  • The needles are not numbered with their sizes! This is a little annoying. Luckily I ordered the number tags you can buy separately. I'm just going to keep them in the pocket with the corresponding needle. I'm a little surprise they didn't think to add a little stamp or something. Oh well, it's a small annoyance.

CIMG14171Overall, I'm very happy with this set. I'm about to start my first project with these needles and I'll let you know how it goes. I also got a couple sets of the double point needles (1's and 0's). I'll use them on my next pair of socks and report back. My first impression of this set is that it's a great value and I'll be using it for years to come.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Socks that Rock Diagonally

Diagonal Rib Socks
Pattern: Diagonal Rib Socks from Interweave Knits Online Subscriber-Only Patterns
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock in Hot Flash (mediumweight)
Needles: Size 1 bamboo double points, 7 stitches per inch
Start Date: May 19, 2006
End Date: June 19, 2006
Notes: I followed the pattern as written and this made for a rather snug fit for my size 10 feet. If I were to do this pattern again, as I may, I would definitely add in one repeat of the pattern in order to give a bit more to the circumference. These were the first socks I started with Socks that Rock (STR) and I fell in love completely. The texture is sturdy, but soft and the colors are deep and vibrant. Switching between STR and Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (LL) one can feel a real difference (especially while knitting with mediumweight STR). The STR has a substance to it that the LL doesn't have. The fabric created with STR has exceptional stitch definition and the yarn just feels fabulous! Don't get me wrong - I love my LL (the colors, the springiness of the yarn), but luckily there is room in my heart (and in my yarn cupboard) for both Lorna's Laces and Socks that Rock:)

Yesterday was a good mail day as I got my super awesome sock bag from Trek! I first saw these wonderful little bags on sock pr0n and I knew I needed one of my own, especially since Trek had one with sailboats. She doesn't so much sell the bags, but rather she swaps for things that are worth approximately $20 - A great deal! I contacted her Friday and the bag was in my possession by Tuesday evening. I absolutely love my little bag and it is now home to the nearly completed Cable Rib Sock (Interweave Knits Spring 2005 pattern, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Nearly Solid Carol Green).

Oh, and I keep forgetting to mention this here...I read The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell recently and was blown away by it. I can't believe I had overlooked this book for so long (and there is a sequel too!). The Sparrow reminds me very much of Ursula K. Le Guin's Left Hand of Darkness in so much as it blends science fiction with sociology. Russell does a fantastic job examining the mindset behind the desire for exploration and the impact of discovery of a new culture. The Sparrow raises many questions about the nature of faith and belief and while I am not a religious person, I always find these topics to be of interest. I highly recommend this book to everyone seeking a wonderful story, elegant writing as well as some thought provoking philosophical questions.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Staying cool

For all of you in the Chicago area, you know this weekend was H-O-T! We live in a very very old home with no central air and for some reason we did not turn on the window unit (probably because I'm unsure it actually cools anything). Instead we hid in the darkened living room trying to keep cool. As it was dark, I did not knit too much this weekend...actually, I didn't knit because I was miserably hot and on Saturday we escaped to the Midwest Oasis also known as Red Lobster and the movie theater (coconut shrimp and X-Men 3 - both were pretty darn good). Sunday we walked over to the Custer Street Fair (a large local neighborhood fair) and had a lovely time. While going over there we remarked on the fact that we didn't need to buy anything and that we would just pick up some lunch...two hours later we walked away with full bellies and many packages (black cherry jam- yum!).

During the cooler moments of the weekend, what I did knit was most of the numerous pieces of Tasha (that would be the pile of random blue knitted objects in the picture). I did not take a picture of my likewise blue knitting needles and (fortunately) my blue fingers rinsed clean this morning. So, yes, as rumor has it, Rowan Denim does most definitely stain your fingers and needles. It washes up pretty easily, but it's a little annoying unless you like the smurf look (and 80's fashion is back!).

So I was reading Claire's blog this weekend and she links to a new needle set she bought from KnitPicks. I went ahead and clicked on the link, just to check them out, thinking that I don't need another set since I've got my Denise needles...within 10 minutes I had ordered a set of the new and (hopefully) fabulous KnitPicks Options Needle Set - this may be the most wonderful needle set ever...I don't want to get my hopes up too high though...I'll give you a full report once I get my set.

Now I'll leave you with a picture of how my cat, Kilby, tried to keep cool this weekend. I always feel bad for the cats when the weather is yucky. With no ability to sweat or strip off their fur coats (except hair by hair, all of the time) they must be so uncomfortable. All we can do is set out some fans and put ice cubes in their water. Good thing they can press their furry little bellies to the screen to catch some of that lake breeze:)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Smooth Sailing

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. It was with regret that we made our way back from the beautiful British Virgin Islands. We had a wonderful time sailing from island to island. We sailed from Tortola to Virgin Gorda and then back again, stopping at small bays to snorkle and play in the sun. There were some terrific water balloon battles between our boat and one of our family friends' boat. Of course, we won every battle even while under full sail:)
The weather was terrific -definitely hot, but not unbearable (the air conditioning at night helped!). We only had the occasional rain shower so that the majority of the time it was just blue skies and calm seas.
I read two of the three books I took: The Stolen Child by Donohue and In the Heart of the Sea by Philbrick - both were very good and I read right through them. The Stolen Child was a very well written and unique story while In the Heart of the Sea was just plain fascinating non-fiction (and I normally don't like non-fiction).
Our crew got along really well with many good times and funny stories to tell. Overall this was our best sailing trip - the people, weather, and sailing all were great! Now, back to the knitting:)

When we get back from sailing trips, we always have a few days of swaying which is an effect of being on a boat for a week (a small price to pay). Knowing this swaying can make concentration tough, I went with a very simple project to ease myself back into regular routine life. Pictured to the left is the almost completed leg of the first Cable Rib Sock from the Spring 2005 Interweave Knits. I am knitting with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Nearly Solid Carol Green on 1's and 0's. As my gauge was quite different than that called for in the pattern, I reworked the pattern increasing the cast-on number. I think these are going to turn out really well and be super comfy. I love the intense green and the subtle variegation of the Nearly Solid Lorna's Laces.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Cutting it Close

Bluebell Rib Socks
Bluebell Rib Socks
Pattern: Bluebell Rib from Sensational Knitted Socks by Schurch
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock - May Rockin' Sock Club - Fairgrounds - Medium Weight
Needles: Size 1 bamboo (7 stitches per inch)
Start Date: June 1, 2006
Finish Date: June 6, 2006
Notes: Before we head out at way-too-early o'clock tomorrow morning to start our vacation, I wanted to finish the Bluebell Rib Socks. And I did! Having a weekend at home (our first in 5 weeks) was a real boost to my sock knitting time. This yarn was a delight - the colors and the texture were fabulous. I couldn't help but think of tropical Skittles the whole time I was knitting these. The bluebell rib was a very easy stitch pattern to do, however the pattern comes out upside down from what is pictured in the book. Oh well, I'll have upside bluebells:) These socks were a close call in two ways - timewise and yarn amount. For the first time in my sock-knitting career, I almost ran out of yarn! I was pretty nervous throughout the toe-decreases, but I had just enough. Granted I have size 10 feet and I made the cuff almost 8 inches. The length will be something that I will keep in mind for future Socks that Rock socks.

CIMG1338The second Diagonal Rib sock is halfway done and it will just have to wait until I get back from the islands. Here's a picture of the unfinished sock lounging on my vacation reading: The Stolen Child by Donohue, In the Heart of the Sea by Philbrick, and Rendezvous with Rama by Clark. I am so excited about this vacation. It will be the third time I've gone sailing in the British Virgin Islands with Matt and his family. The way this trip works is that Matt's dad rents a sailboat and we stay on it for a week - just us, no professional crew. We sail around various islands and spend our time snorkling, drinking, and relaxing. This time a couple other families we know are renting boats too so we'll have a small armada (2 mono-hulls and 1 catamaran) and I'm sure there will be some serious racing. I am not taking any knitting since sunscreen and salt water do not mix well with yarn, but there will be plenty of rum punch and Jimmy Buffet:)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Lacy Little Top

Lacy Little Top

Pattern: Lacy Little Top
Yarn: Hemp for Knitting Allhemp 3
Needle: 24 inch size 2 Addi Turbo and size 2 bamboo double points
Start Date: May 20, 2006
Finish Date: May 30, 2006
Notes: What can I say - I love this top! This may be my favorite top I've knit so far. The hemp provided an unusual knitting was very stiff and waxy. However, once I washed the finished top, the fabric relaxed and feels great. I knit the large size (40 inch) which is almost exactly my bust measurement and it fits very nicely. The neck is a bit wider than I expected (maybe that's why the model is standing with one arm up? :) ) and if I were to knit this again (which I may) I would simply add a couple extra decrease rows prior to binding off. I really like all of the details of this pattern: the pretty lace, a nice eyelet row for the i-cord, a lovely neck embellishment. The instructions for the sleeves were a little on the sparse side, but I figured them out and had no trouble. (FYI: I found the cute little leaf charms at Art Beads). I highly recommend this pattern and the allhemp yarn.

Friday, June 02, 2006

1st Blogiversary and June Knitting Goals

Today is my one year blogiversary. Since I started this blog 1 year ago I have done the following knitting-type stuff (I love my lists...):

  • I joined a knitting group (Hi, Everybody!).
  • I became extremely obsessive with sock knitting and sock yarn:)
  • I knit way too many gifts at winter holiday time (that is not happening this year).
  • I knit Matt a sweater (and he loves it!).
  • I knit with beads.
  • I felted some items (intentionally!).
  • I went to Stitches Midwest Market for the first time.
  • I Gold Medaled in the 2006 Knitting Olympics.
  • I've taken knitting classes on cables, finishing, designing, and Norwegian hats.
  • I've made extensive lists including yarn inventory, monthly goals, and what sock yarn will go with what sock pattern.
  • I've blogged (and met some cool people through it).

Now on to the knitting content!

Here is my official May/June Knitting Goal post (ha ha, goal post) -

May Goals:
1) Lacy Little Top DONE
2) MaryElla DONE
3) Green Gable DONE (but soon to be frogged)
4) Butterflies and Blossoms Socks (butterfly socks) DONE
5) Diagonal Rib Socks (Interweave Knits subscriber-only online pattern) 1/2 DONE

I wasn't sure at the beginning of May whether I would be able to meet all my goals. I am thrilled that I came so close. One little sock separated me from full out victory, but I guess that keeps me humble:) Here's a picture to show off the diagonal rib of the one completed Diagonal Rib Sock (Socks that Rock, Hot Flash - Interweave Knits online pattern).

June Goals:
1) Shaped Neck Tee
2) Tasha Bag
3) Chinese Charm Bag (Stitch 'N Bitch Pattern Book)
4) Cable Rib Socks (IK Spring 05)
5) Bluebell Rib Socks in the Socks that Rock Rockin' Sock Club color Fairgrounds

June's goals were set keeping in mind that Matt and I will be on vacation for a week in the middle of June sailing with his family in the British Virgin Islands. I'm hoping to knit the Bluebell Rib socks before we leave and do the rest when we get back.

Here's the start of the Bluebell Rib Socks. The yarn is Socks that Rock Fairgrounds (medium weight), the May shipment of the Socks that Rock Rockin' Sock Club. The colors are incredibly vibrant and I am really enjoying how they are working with the pretty pattern. These will knit up in no time:)