28 June 2008

Not My Blanket and Plans

First, an update on Paul's First Socks -- I have turned the heel once again and am now an inch or two into the foot of the socks. I foresee the first sock being done in the next several days, if I'm lucky and his foot doesn't magically grow in size. I've also decided on the next sock yarn I'd buy for socks for Paul, but that'll be a while.

As to the blanket which is not mine, Christy, a good friend of mine (and one of my bridesmaids from my wedding), was very kind and she knit Nathan a gorgeous blanket.

Blanket from Christy

It's a garter stitch blanket, but done in stripes of two colors held together. I think the blanket is the Blue Lagoon pattern from Lion Brand, but I could be wrong. It's gorgeous and wisely done in blues and yellows. Perhaps Christy knew what gender of baby I was having before I did? I'm so happy that Nathan will have several handknit items such as blankets and socks. I'm also very surprised that Christy did a blanket since normally she knits hats for babies nowadays because blankets are too large a knitting commitment. Thank you, Christy!

Now, as to my knitting plans, I hope to knit several things in the future. First off, I need to make socks for Helen. The socks are the Spiral Boot Socks from Interweave. You can buy the pattern at Interweave's website, though if I can find the whole magazine, I'll get it. In fact, I've bid on the magazine at Ebay recently because I love two or more of the patterns in it, which makes it a good buy.

I also have plans to knit a Slytherin scarf for myself, which will be identical to Paul's Gryffindor scarf, but knit in Slytherin colors, because I am evil. Some of the scarves on Ravelry make me want to make this my first project, but I'll most likely make this project one that I work on in conjunction with other projects.

The last two things I want to knit are a cute little hat from "The Yarn Girls' Guide to Simple Knits" which uses some GGH Soft Kid which I have stashed away in a pretty deep berry red, and a pair of socks for myself made from Koigu.

After I've knit these four items (or the three non-scarf items), I might allow myself to purchase more yarn. I normally only knit on one project at a time, because I'm exceedingly boring like that, or focused anyway, but I plan to make some exceptions in the future. From now on, if I'm knitting on a boring project like a baby blanket or endless stockinette or garter stitch scarf, I plan to also knit on one other item such as a pair of socks or tank top or hat. I'll be moving from being a one WIP type of girl to a two WIPs type of girl. Hopefully this won't bring me to the end of my knitting dreams and hopes because I become too scattered and disorganized.

22 June 2008

Sock Failure

Again, I hold off on discussing my criteria for picking projects or my plans for future projects. I will simply discuss my current sock-a-licious failure. As you might recall from my last post, I had swatched the Sleeping Dragon sock yarn on size 2 needles and discovered that I had been getting seven stitches to the inch. Using that SPI to calculate how many stitches I needed for Paul's sock, I cast on 18 stitches to each four needles and knit and knit and knit. The picture was taken PRE-heel turn.
Paul's First socks

After turning the heel, which took roughly forever, I took them off the needles and made Paul try them on. They were loose. I tried not to cry, and instead tried to figure out how many stitches I would need per needle (16 would be better) and then tried to discover where I went wrong. I re-measured my stitches per inch and found that I was now getting eight stitches per inch.

Time to rip back. I ripped and ripped and ripped. After ripping out everything, I recast on with my new stitches per needle, and knit two rows. After that, I had to take a break and feed my baby.

So, I have no progress to speak of, really, but hopefully the next time I blog I will simply discuss my future plans rather than discussing my failed progress.

17 June 2008

Baby, Baby, Baby

It's all baby all the time here at the house. Remember in my last post, I said that if you didn't hear from me for a while, then I was having a baby? Well, I had my baby! Nathan is quite the cutie and is now the biggest part of my life. My family has become my priority and I don't know how to deal with it, to tell you the truth. I had planned to spend this whole post giving details on how I choose to knit projects, but instead I'm already gushing about my son.

I won't go into how I choose my projects in this post, but I will talk about my knitting in relation to my son. First of all, I finished his little socks prior to his birth, and I had thought them tiny little things, and they were small!

Baby Socks

Once I put them on him, however, I realized how gigantic EVERYTHING is in relationship to my son. He was born at only six pounds, so he's not the biggest baby, as you can imagine.

As for how else knitting relates to my son, on the first night I was in the hospital, I was drugged out from my post c-section drugs. I couldn't sleep, could barely doze, and was almost unable to understand things. I read a little Pride and Prejudice and listened to some knitting Podcasts.

Here's where I'm going to highlight my favorite podcast -- PixiePurls. She's not podcasting anymore, sadly, but I get the feeling from listening to her podcast, that I would enjoy spending time with her. I agree that I knit to have a nice looking finished product. I agree that I like the look of variegated yarns, but like her, I don't buy variegated sweaters at stores, so it is silly to try to knit them. I also love Rowan yarns and patterns. I hope she starts podcasting again! As a minor aside, she talks about being a lousy secret pal in one podcast, but this is a complete lie. She had me for a secret pal once, and she got me the prettiest yarns. I made a Clapotis from two of the most wonderful skeins of yarn ever that she gave to me.

I also listened to KnitPicks' podcast, which I like, but do not love. Because it is so relaxing it causes me to drift off into sleep fairly easily. I should have listened to this when I needed to sleep instead of PixiePurls since I find PixiePurls so interesting that I paid attention. Lastly, I listened to LimenViolet. This is a good podcast for me because I am a huge fan of sock yarn, and they appear to be too. Who can resist a good sock yarn?

Well, the answer is... not me. When in the hospital, waiting to bring Nathan home, we learned the disappointing news -- he had jaundice. This meant that for that full day, all we were allowed to do was visit him once every three hours to feed him. The rest of the time, we were stuck in the hospital waiting to see him while he hung out under some ultraviolet lights. During that time, Paul and I played a bit of Scattegories, and I made him bring me my size 2 needles and the Sleeping Dragon yarn. I merely meant to make a gauge swatch, but I became so enamored of the yarn, that I just kept knitting it up. After a bit, I asked Paul, "Do you think this would be manly enough for socks for you?" He considered them and said, "Yes, it's a nice dark green."

So, once home, on Father's Day, I took his foot measurements (huge) and cast on while drinking a nice glass of wine.

Yarn, yarn, yarn

I'm much further down now, almost to the heel, but I'm a little worried about the amount of yarn I have. I have over 400 yards, but he has size 11 feet that are super wide! Will I make it? Will I be able to make Nathan matching socks as I had hoped?

08 June 2008

One Baby Sock Done

The minute I finished posting last time, I realized I hadn't shared the story of the winding of the yarn Creamy into a center pull ball. Creamy is delightfully soft for something made of milk, but it's also very fine. It's possibly finer than most other yarns I've ever worked with as I've never worked with lace weight yarn yet. My husband had just finished winding a skein of my Blue Sky Organic cotton yarn into a skein, and it was about one in the morning. We were both watching some cooking show on TIVO and I asked him if he'd mind winding the skein of Creamy in the morning for me. He shrugged, put on another cooking show, and started to wind it then, which made me happy since I knew I could get a gauge swatch almost immediately then.

As a side note, my husband loves to wind yarn into center pull balls for some reason. I've asked him if he secretly wants to become a knitter and he admits that he'd love to knit, but he's afraid we'd become competitive at it. This is a legitimate fear, since I am competitive and he is also.

He started out the skein of Creamy fairly slow, taking two or three times to get a good start to the center pull ball. I had forgotten to give him the advice to really wind the yarn around your fingers before moving on to the next step when you're winding sock yarn or smaller. However, he got moving, while I was knitting on my baby blanket. I was half watching him wind yarn and half watching the cooking show, when I heard a "Uh..." Out of the corner of my eyes, I noticed that he had dropped the hank of yarn from his knees and it was simply laying in a big pile on the floor. I cursed silently to myself, but tried not to panic, picking it up as best possible to avoid tangles. Too late! It took us a three hours of combined effort to fix that mess. We picked apart the knots as best possible often moving the yarn balls on EACH end we had started around each other and the mass of yarn. It was miserable. My husband kept apologizing, while I kept comforting him and offering to do the fix myself. I will probably let him wind sock yarn in the future, simply because I feel that once you've done this (and I've done the same thing with sock yarn) you learn a lesson about being careful with winding yarn.

Anyway, I'm now officially done one and a half Better than Baby Booties. I'm flying through them so quickly, I've been wondering if I should start the socks for Helen when I finish, or if I should start my winter hat. I am thinking that I might even cross-stitch a tiny bit or start my Slytherin scarf for myself. I wasn't expecting to have so much time before this baby showed up as YESTERDAY was my due date. Some quick notes on the baby sock pattern:

  • The particular pattern I'm doing is the Cable Rib pattern.

  • I disliked the ridge of stitches at the toe, so I kitchener stitched the whole thing closed instead for a more seamless finish.

  • The pattern is slightly confusing. Around the cable cable that comes down the foot, you see at one point p1, work 2 stitches in cable pattern, p1, k16, p1, work 2 stitches in cable pattern, knit to end. Why does one cable pattern have purls on both sides and the other has a purl only on one side? I couldn't fathom this. I also couldn't figure out where they wanted me to place my damn cables exactly. Finally, after a lot of reading that line and wondering WTF they wanted me to do, I made my own decisions about purling and cable placement. On the first one, I work 2 stitches in cable pattern, p1, k16, p1, work 2 stitches and knit the rest. On the second one, I decided I wanted a little more pop around my cable and purled on both sides of it. This means that my baby will not have socks that exactly match.

  • As I finished the first sock, I was so proud and so in love with its cuteness. I seamed in all the ends and stared at it happily. While staring at it, I noticed that one stitch in one of the cables was slowly, but surely, winding it's way up the sock. I panicked and shoved one of the needles into it while I tried to figure out where the hell I went wrong and what I'd do. I managed to pull the stitch back up to the toe area, put a piece of the yarn through it, and tied it into place, then seamed THAT piece of yarn into the rest of the sock. That's right, folks, I have no pride. I tied a knot into my knitting.

That's all for now. If you don't hear from me soon, I'm busy having a baby.

06 June 2008

Baby Blanket Finished!

Realizing that once my baby gets here, I'd have little time to sleep, much less knit, I have been powering though knitting the baby blanket I had in the works for the last month. The design name is Sunny Cables and Crowns. If you're on Ravelry, which every knitter is nowadays, you can find out more about it.

Finished Baby Blanket

It's a beautiful finished work, sunny and bright and cotton-y for a nice summer baby. I think it might be a little bit heavy, but I asked for it when I decided to knit with cotton, even soft organic cotton such as Blue Sky Dyed Cotton. Close Up of Pattern Repeat of Baby BlanketFor those of you who are curious, I used the Lemonade colourway which is bright yellow, a shade more saturated in color than my living room walls. If I ever chose to knit this blanket again, which I might or might not do, I'd probably pick a smoother washable wool (or wool mixture) yarn. While I love the finished work, and the pattern is very visible, obviously, I think a smoother yarn would have benefited the pattern. The close-up is almost unrecognizable as a cable and fan pattern. I used seven or eight skeins, I can't remember which, and I have a single skein leftover now, which my husband desperately wants to wind into a center pull ball. I have no idea what I plan to do with one skein of bright yellow organic cotton yarn. Sophy has a cute tassled hat pattern which uses one skein of this very yarn, but I don't think I know ANYONE who would wear a bright yellow hat. Perhaps I could make her hat pattern slightly smaller and give it to one of my beloved nieces. Anyone else have any recommendations on what to do with one skein of Blue Sky Dyed Organic Cotton yarn?

WIP of baby socksSpeaking of Sophy, she has been knitting a ton of baby socks recently which have been adorable. The pattern is from Interweave Knits and is totally free (so long as you register at their site). Knowing that I'd be finishing my blanket in a day or two, yesterday, I cast on for the baby socks so that I'd be prepped with a new knitting project when I was finished the blanket. I know I shouldn't overlap projects like that, and clearly the knitting gods knew it too, because my cast-on and join went perfectly so long as you ignore the fact that I wrapped my working yarn around the needles twice and now the whole thing is a mess when I attempt to knit. I am clearly going to have to pull my one and a half rows off the needles so that I can re-cast on. This is depressing to me, but I have nothing but time as I wait for this baby to decide labor is a GO. Also, I've discovered the world of knitting podcasts, and now, while my husband sleeps, I can sit in bed next to him knitting. This was sort of obnoxious as I was finishing the baby blanket, as I had to keep moving the heavy nearly finished blanket around, but it should be fun now that I'm working on the socks.

The Podcasts I like best so far, for all you people who are curious about this type of thing, are Knit Picks and PixiePurls. Pixie Purls is a lot like me in many ways, so listening to her cheery voice talk about things I'm interested in and agree with is wonderful, but she does appear to have stopped the podcasts since the birth of her daughter. I've also been listening to LimenViolet which I find interesting but not exceptional. Christy has also recommended Lion Brand's podcast, but I have yet to give that a try, so I can't tell you whether it's good or not. I'm sure I'll be listening to it soon, however.

Lastly, I thought you might be curious, but I have OTHER craft hobbies. Or one, at least. I have cross-stitching.

Finished Baby Blanket

The picture above is of HOURS AND HOURS AND HOURS of work on a pattern by Mirabilia. I started cross-stitching way before I knit, even, but cross-stitch is a slow and tedious craft. The results are often kitschy and countrified too, which I don't care for anymore. Mirabilia is one of the few exceptions to that, and they have incredibly elaborate patterns, but the more elaborate, the more time it takes to make. I've worked on the piece above, off and on, since I've been married (three and a half years now) and I still haven't even gotten to the main part of the work!

That's it for now. I'll have more information on how the socks are going in my next post, as well as give you some details on my one project at a time theory. That is -- if I haven't gone into labor!

03 June 2008

Simply Sock Yarn package

Today, my mother came over and was gardening at my house, which she loves loves loves to do. She considers my lawn simply another place where she can plant more flowers than she knows what to do with. At one point, I was inside laying about, trying not to feel tired and sore (pregnancy, how glamorous you are) when I heard a knock at my front door. Assuming I had mistakenly locked my mom out of my house, I rushed up and opened the door only to see a different postman than normal with a package in his hand as well as all of my mail.

Lantern Moon needlesI immediately guessed what the package was, and after thanking my nice postman, I ripped into the box from Simply Sock Yarn. Inside were several goodies, but let's start with the Lantern Moon rosewood needles.

I have an obsession with pretty knitting needles. When I first started out knitting, I had a ton of cheap-o metal needles, which are great for learning how to knit, but then I slowly started buying more and more fancy needles, including a ton of bamboo needles as well as several sets of Addi Turbos. (In fact, I refuse to buy any circulars besides Addi Turbos currently due to my horrible luck with circulars that have split at the join.) My ultimate luxury in knitting needle, however, is Lantern Moon's ebony or rosewood needles. If I could knit ONLY with them, I would. I hadn't known until I first hit Simply Sock Yarn's website that they even had tiny DPNs, but when I learnt that, an incredible desire for them formed. I decided to buy them as soon as humanly possible. Of course, after I ordered them, I found that Lantern Moon makes specific sock DPNs which I now desire.

Lorna's Laces yarnMy second purchase was two skeins of Lorna's Laces Semi-solid (or whatever it is) Shepherd Sock yarn. I plan to make my friend (and boss) Helen a pair of knee high socks. If I can find the issue of Interweave which contains these socks, I'll purchase the magazine (since it also contains the Montego Bay Scarf pattern which I've fallen for), otherwise, I'll simply buy the pattern when the time comes to knit this yarn.

I highly recommend Lorna's Laces yarn, by the way, if you're like me and you've accidentally felted more than one pair of hand knitted socks in the washer/dryer in the past. I've yet to felt any of the socks I've made with their yarn, and I've made plenty by this point!

My last purchase of the day was so gorgeous that I must put the picture in the dead center of this page.

Sleeping Dragon yarn

It is Sleeping Dragon's sock yarn in Mossy Frog. This yarn is 100% wool, which I blanked on when I purchased it, but luckily it is superwash. I don't really like many of the Sleeping Dragon colorways I've found online, but I've been in a 'green' knitting mood lately, probably due to painting and decorating a full nursery in green, so I was enticed into this purchase!

If you love to knit socks, I highly recommend that you go visit the Simply Sock Yarn's blog to view their latest contest where you can possibly win some sock yarn! I had to enter, and you know what my favorite sock yarn is. I also recommend simply purchasing from Simply Sock Yarn! Unlike Knitting Garden (grumble, grumble) who held onto my money for MONTHS while I waited for some out-of-stock yarn, Simply Sock Yarn got me my yarn within two or three days. Mmm. Nothing like a quick fix of sock yarn. I wish they sold regular yarn too!