Thursday, June 29, 2006

Rockin Socks

Finally, I finished something. One Pomatomos in the can. So, I cast on the second sock, right? Not exactly. See, I had this idea . . . Pomatomos really isn't hard, but I did manage to screw it up several times because I didn't read the pattern. After the first repeat of Chart A, you have to rearrange the stitches on the needles, or else you'll break the rib. I wasn't paying attention - I was just sitting by the pool thinking how much hotter I would be if I were sitting in my lounge chair with wooly Icarus on my lap (yep, I'm very good a rationalizing my cheating ways) - I knit 4 rounds before I realized my rib was askew. Unknitting 4 rounds on 1's was so not fun. Then, in Chart B, I once again found myself daydreaming, something about falling asleep in Igloo maybe (did I mention that my central air is busted!!!!!!), and I screwed up bigtime again. But, I got through it, but I thought maybe I'd alternate with something a bit easier - tag team socks - cast on another sock, that's the answer -
So, I decided to cast on my Socks that Rock, to see what all the fuss is about. I had originally intended to knit Jaywalkers, but then I got nervous about the yarddage. The lightweight STR are only 360 yds (as opposed to the medium and heavyweight skeins that are 380 yds), so I decided to be conservative, and I cast on a Feather and Fan Sock from Socks Socks Socks.

So, have I figured out what the fuss is about? Dunno, the juries out. It definitely hasn't unseated Koigu in my mind, but the colorway is beautiful, and so are the other colorways on the website - but I thing that's the problem, I really don't like shopping for yarn online - I like to fondle the yarn, walk around the store with it, or have it just leap into my arms, and say knit me!

But, it is really soft - it doesn't have much twist, so it's almost silky. I'm thinking this is going to be one snuggly sock - just what I need in 100 degree weather with no air conditioner!

But, hopefully, this tag team sock smackdown will get me over that second sock syndrome - because just what I need in July is 2 pairs of wool socks.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Sock it To Me

I've never been a big fan of doing anything ass backwards (I was totally with Charlotte on that one in Sex and the City) although, I have been known to smash my nose up against a glass door trying to go in through the out door. And, knitting a sock from the toe up, to me, is just backwards - you pull your sock on from the cuff - you start at the cuff, and that's that. I have never had any desire to learn how to go toe up. Yeah, I know, if you're short on yarn, you can shorten the leg - blah blah blah, but how does that help you if you run short on yarn on the second sock? If I'm going to run out of yarn, I'd rather run out at the toe, and switch to a different color - but that's just me. Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was wondering through Loop (ok, I was buying yarn), and hemming and hawing about whether or not to go to the pool (the pool happens to be 2 blocks from Loop), when I got wind that a toe up sock class was going to go on that afternoon. Rachel gave me a preview of the toe-up Iranian cast-on, and I thought, ok, a neat trick, maybe I can start my circular shawls this way . . . and, it would be a good way to use some of my Koigu scraps. So, having already spent some big bucks on Helen's Laces (for the Bird's Nest Shawl that I've started but haven't posted about yet), I ran home and grabbed a bag of Koigu.

Now, my love (or lust as the case may be), is usually a constant - fat, thin, whatever. Friend with Benefits, who was 175 when I met him (and is again, since he's quite the yo yo), has tipped the scales at 5'9, 230 - whatever, he gets the job done. But, I have to say, my lust/love for Koigu is not so strong on the teeny tiny zeros that were called for in Rachel's pattern. Koigu seems a little too fat - there's a clear muffin top forming around the needles that's a bit tough to work with for me.

But, I've stuck with it, because Koigu is Koigu after all. And, now that all of the experiments of switching toe teams are over, I can say that I'm not a switch hitter- I'm a cuff down girl all the way. The Iranian cast-on begins by placing two teeny tiny zeros together, and wrapping the yarn around both of them about 8 times. The needles are then flipped horizontally, and stitches are knit through the two needles, the needles being flipped horizontally after each stitch. Then, once you have enough stitches on both needles (knitting through the two needles causes a stitch to be created on both needles), in this case 6, you knit enough rows to pick up an even number of stitches on both sides - in this case four. So, in the end, I had a nice, teeny tiny square, appropriate for a toe, or perhaps the center of a circular shawl.

Now, when I cast on Courtney's (co-creator of the Rosie's infamous half-pi shawl) shawl (more on that later), a square shawl that I offered (begged because it's so pretty) to test knit for her, I actually attempted to do a circular cast-on on 4 double points - the instructions did say, after all, cast on 8 stitches, divide evenly over four neeldes - silly me thinking that wouldn't be a mangled, narled mess. Then, I tried to do a modified Emily Ocher, as described in Folk Shawls, but I failed miserably. Then, I went into Rosie's on a Saturday, and Carol taught me how to cast on with 2 circulars. Perfect! Definitely, my starting point of choice.

So, I should love to knit my socks on two circs, or on the one long circ a la Magic Loop, right? You know, I'm just not that interested -- I like my dainty double points - there's something soothing to me about knitting with toothpicks. I like going round and round - I don't think I would like just sliding my stitches from end to end - too missionary for me.

Anyway, the toe-up did get me on a sock kick - so much more portable than a big, wool shawl like Icarus (or Ella, or Bird's Nest . . . or anything else I might think to cast on to just add to the frenzy).

I am so close to finishing my Koigu Lightening Bolt Peak Experiences:

I started these at a CLE about a month ago, and they tend to be my office knitting - I love the way the oranges and purples pooled - crazy. This is Koigu on 3's - the perfect fit, for me at least.

Then, with my new Cherry Tree Hill, that I purchased on our Knitty D and the City yarn crawl through the mainline, I cast- on Pomatomous from Knitty. These socks, obviously, are the right way to go - down. There's something about turning the heel, and going towards the toe that is so satisfying. Since this picture was taken, I have indeed turned the heel, and I've started Chart B.

And, once I'm done Pomatomos (yes, I really do intend to finish something sometime), I have more sock yarn on deck. I picked up this OnLine, a self-fairisling yarn, at Knit Together in Richboro. If I had to live in the suburbs, this is where I would need to live - because the yarn on the Main Line just doesn't cut it. Knit Together has everything, including Anne, your heart could desire (except Koigu) at 20% off. Of course, I had to buy a skein of Anne (instead of the five I would have bought had my mom not been eyeing up my yarn over my shoulder - no need to let her in on my true addiction), which I later traded with Knitty D - but that's tomorrow's post (or maybe the next day, I've been on vacation, at the pool, and I haven't been the most faithful knitter or blogger).

And, last, but clearly not least, I ordered a skein of Socks that Rock from Blue Moon Fibers - yep, I succumbed to the bloggery surrounding this almost mythical sock yarn. Now it's my turn to see. I was going to make Pomatomus with this, but then I got nervous about the yarddage, so I think I'll jump on that other blogwagon, the Jaywalkers, and shorten the cuff a bit, because again, the yarddage is pretty close. Yeah, yeah, if I went toe -up . . . but, that's just not going to happen.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Amazing Lace -Challenge 2 - Can Counseling Save this Relationship??

(If you click on the picture, you can read the text better!)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Philadelphia may have been voted the "dum-est" city in the country, but we are the home of the 4th most inspirational movie ever, Rocky.

Rocky teaches us important life lessons - that when life throws you punches, you punch back, busting your knuckles open on raw meat. That boxing is a better job than busting legs for a loanshark - to "be a thinker, not a stinker." And if you want to be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife. And, most importantly, when it looks like you're down for the count, you get back up, because winning is really just going the distance. Of course, being the daughter of Jewish mother, my mother would be yelling, "For G-d's sake stay down, wear a helmet! Oy!" And, surprisingly, when I was watching the American Film Institute's 100 Most Inspirational Movies, I learned a very personal lesson - why I knit.

In the movie, Adrian asks Rocky, why do you fight? and he answers, "Because I can't sing or dance."

And, that my friends, is why I knit, because I can't sing or dance.

My grandfather was a character straight of a Damon Runyon novel. During the Depression, he bounced around Philly hustling pool (with Minnesota Fats), playing sand lot baseball, and tap dancing (with the Robinson brothers). He tried to teach me - and it was sadly clear, Shirley Temple I was never going to be.

Growing up, my house was very musical. The radio was always on - although I didn't know there was an FM dial. I was raised on Hollywood musicals - I can sing, off key, of course, the entire score of any musical written between the 30's to today. I have a definite opinion that Steven Sondheim's Company is ripe for a Broadway revival. My dad sang, played guitar. My brother, without a music lesson, can play piano, guitar anything. Me? After 8 years of piano lessons, I'm hard pressed to remember Mary Had a Little Lamb. And, I may look like Barbra Streisand, but I can't sing a note. And, while I think, when I'm in court sometimes, that I'm doing a song and dance, no one ever throws any money in a hat, and I've never had a jury stand up and applaud (although "Not Guilty" often sounds thunderous).

But there is music in me - and I think it comes out through my knitting - each stitch is like a note - sometimes the colors are in perfect harmony, like the Four Seasons (I've been tapping my toe to Jersey Boys on the old Ipod), and sometimes, like with Noro, it might be an somewhat bizarre Glass production. Some of my works are great concertos (the pi shawl), other's are little ditties (koigu socks). I have some Grammy winning performances (the Sunrise Circle Jacket), and I've had the ill-conceived (the Silk Garden suit) disasters.

So, I may not be able to sing and dance, but I do know where to get a good Cheesesteak, and I sure can knit.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Visiting with a Friend

On Saturday, Merrill and I knocked on Robin's door, and asked if her Koigu could come out and play? Maryland Sheep and Wool Koigu 2005? MS&W Koigu 2006? Private reserve? All of it!

Robin dumped the Koigu on the bed, and much like playing with marbles, or blocks, or puzzle pieces, the skeins somehow arranged themselves into color families

Merrill squinted her eyes together, tightly, blurring color, finding color progressions, accent colors, a painters palette of skeins. I squinted my eyes, and all I saw was a blur, but my DUI clients do say they drive better if they squint.

Project No. 1 - Hmm? Ideas anyone?

Project No. 2 - Ronnen's Unidentified Project

(The Boyfriend project - I guess if she gets a ring by the time she gets to this wool, it can be a sweater)

Project 3 - Abandoned Baby Project

Project 4 - Sweater, Strung Up Like Sausage - wouldn't want to let the magic of the squint go to waste . . .

Project 5 - Please - like she's going to get to this batch in this lifetime!

Not all of the Koigu seemed to play well with others, there was a miscellaneous mystery skein here and there. And, after play time was over, we put it all back in the bag, no milk and cookies, just nap time. How long the slumber will be . . . I don't know . . . those ends of the fabu Koigu baby blanket aren't quite woven in yet . . .

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Judging a Book by It's Cover

Is this a bad 70's porno film? The barechested, waxed down man on the bed? The bangs, the yellow (??), surely arylic yarn, the title, the author's name????? - Betsy HOSEGOOD (poor woman)???? All you need is that bad "bow chik a bow wow" music. No my friends, this book, which in it's description promises, "This glamorous and gifty book will inspire knitters everywhere to pick up their needles and join the fun. With real-life knitting stories, yarn shopping advice, a fresh look at knitting fashion and knitting testimonies from celebrities, this book is a must-have for anyone who loves to knit," will arrive in your local yarn stores in the fall. What celebrities? - a knitting testimonial from Anna Nicole Smith? Debbie Gets Her Knit on in Dallas?

In the last episode of Knitty D and the City, I threw out there that Norah Gaughan's new book, Knitting in Nature, was my favorite book of the year. Knitty D, not so gently, reminded me that the year isn't even half over. So, I decided to see what was coming up the pike. Our knitting, which seemed to have taken an intelligent, creative and sophisticated turn with Knitting in Nature and Inspired Cable Knits, is being set back not just decades but centuries -- what's this -
Never Knit Your Man a Sweater - unless you have the ring??? What is this - don't buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? According to this book, your knitting should fit your level of commitment, and it provides appropriate patterns for your stage in the relationship - the "Dinner Date Scarf, customized with the colors of his favorite sports team, doesn’t scare him with thoughts of commitment but does give him something warm he’ll be happy to wear to football games." "With Never Knit Your Man a Sweater Unless You’ve Got the Ring, Durant not only warns stitchers about appropriate project-to-relationship ratios, she offers 22 of the smartest patterns available for men’s clothing and accessories." Smartest patterns? From such a smart book? We'll see. Does she tell you when you should knit the pot - as in, the relationship has reached shit or get off the pot proportions? Too bad this book releases on December 30, 2006 -- just think of all of those relationships that will go down the toilet because someone incorrectly evaluated the project to relationship ratio at Christmas.

And then theres, "Naughty Needles - Sexy Saucy Knits for the Bedroom and Beyond." This book scares me - particularly that "beyond" part. I'm a fan of the Sexy Knitters Club - I think it's very empowering to knit something in which you're going to feel sexy, great. With that said, not everyone feels sexy in the same thing. Me, personally, I feel sexy when I'm comfortable, and that's usually a pair of worn jeans, and a well-loved sweater. I tend to stay away from the tight sweater which reveals a bit of a muffin top, a camisole in which my boobs will inevitably flop out of. And, knitted lingerie? When I throw on lingerie, it's about him, and what the friend with benefit likes, not necessarily what I feel sexy in. And, that's ok -- it pleases me to make him smile, and it only stays on for the beginning portion of the program anyway. So, why knit something that is meant to be removed,l thrown into a ball, tossed into the corner, to lie on my floor until my cleaning lady picks it up? Nah. And the knitted bathing suit? This is a disaster waiting to happen. And what's this beyond stuff? Beyond where? With whom? What are they talking about?

And with that said - I know sex sells -but why does it have to sell knitting? I love to knit because of the creative process, the finished garment, the addictive nature of feeling up fiber - I know I frequently make analogies to knitting and relationships, etc., but that's my life - I'm not trying to sell anything. And, what if that Don't Knit Until You Have the Ring book actually does have smart patterns for men's garments? - I'll be reluctant to purchase the book because of it's premise. And, suppose a guy, knitting for himself, wants to knit one of those smart patterns - is that the book he's going to buy? We need more patterns for men, but is this the way it has to be packaged?

I guess it's better than this package -- Knitting with Balls, featuring two oversized yarn balls and a hunter/gatherer-like bundle of weapon/needles. This cover seems to suggest, that, yes, not only can you knit despite having a penis, you can actually knit with your penis. I'm all for men knitting, if I find a straight man that knits, he's probably my soulmate - although cuddling on the couch might be difficult - but is this the "face" that we want to put on men's knitting - where is his face?? We all know what "head" this cover is focusing on -

And to make matters worse for men who knit - we have "Men Who Knit and the Dogs Who Love Them." What is that poor dog wearing? What does that guy have on his head? Would only a dog love a guy who knits? "It’s a stand-out-from-the-crowd collection that features strong, colorful, and masculine designs that will appeal to men of all companion items for their four-legged friends -- Imagine a quirky Rasta-inspired hat and a cool matching doggie jacket. Or a classic gray, cabled vest in merino wool and cashmere—one for him and one for Fido. " What is masculine about wearing matching clothes with your chiuaua???

There is hope for knitting in the fall - I'm banking on these two books saving us from the Bridget Jones syndrome which seems to be invading our knitting bookshelf. The first is Arctic Lace, which features projects inspired by Alaskan knitters, knitting in the oh-so-expensive Qiviut.

And, this book from Koigu, the Painter's Palette. I've never been a big fan of the pattern support for Koigu, but I one can always hope!!! Even if it sucks, I'll probaby buy it - now that's how to sell a book by it's cover!!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

No Bun in the Oven

It's not bird flu - but it's just as serious, and potentially deadly. The symptoms creep up on you - a nagging idea in the back of your mind that keeps creeping to the forefront, fingering an untouched ball of yarn hidden in your stash, a wondering eye towards a pattern that has been sitting on the back burner - and then bam! it hits you - full blown Cast-On-itis. I have it, and there is no cure - I will never finish anything again - I will be in a perpetual state of Cast-On -- help! This madness must end! See this gigantic knitting bag - - it's bursting at the seams - it's like a huge tumor, and the cancer is spreading.

It all started with 2 horribly boring projects - the Clap (not pictured, since at this point - the straight rows, it's too boring to even photograph), and Icarus. I was really excited about Icarus. I picked it for my Amazing Lace project, and had visions of butterflies dancing in my head. Unfortunately, there's miles and miles of stockinette before the butterfly emerges from it's cocoon.
So, my mind started to wander - to the Koigu scraps from MD Sheep and Wool. I missed my Koigu, the pi shawl all swathed in mothballs, tucked away until fall. It was like the telltale heart - the Koigu was thumping in my closet. Knit me, knit me -it called, you know you want to. The seduction took hold, and I started looking at patterns, still trying to fool myself into thinking it was idle curiousity - but, then I found the right pattern, and I thought, well, I'll just see how the lace patttern looks - Ella, from Knittyv - But, then, once I knew how it was going to look, the thrill of that project subsided. I was left feeling restless, looking for adventure - and I rememebered the Andrea -

Remember awhile back, when I left you with a tease - that some major ripping had gone down? Remember this cardigan? I don't know what it was about it - the shape, the pattern, the drape - but it felt old lady to me, and after I took that picture on Flash Your Stash Day, and accepted the reality that I may very well finish the cardigan, it would probably fit, but that I was never going to wear it. Armed with this dose of reality, I found the courage to rip - well, to at least have Grace rip it -

And, out it came - no fuss, no knots . . . I put it away, but in the midst of my project angst, thoughts started brewing - a square shawl, that's it.

So, I tried to cast on - 8 stitches divided evenly over 4 needles. An hour and a half I played with it - and I succeeded in creating nothing more than a tangle web of unknittable stitches. Then, after I had already turned the lights out, it came to me - the modified Emily Ocker cast on in Folk Shawls. I snapped the light back on, and attempted once again to get this circular party started. No luck.

Then, the next day, the stars aligned. Carol, at Rosie's, taught me how to make a tube with 2 circulars, and when I arrived home, Courtney, from Rosie's via the farm, mailed me the patttern for her new square shawl - and I just had to try it all out. Here it is:

But, was this enough to keep me satisfied - the Clap, the Ic, the Koigu scraps, the Andrea, oh no - I needed socks - socks in the Mountain Mohair, socks for Dad - and again, I CAST ON!

So, do I have anything to show for my week long vacation??? It's as if I decided I was going to bake an apple pie, but before I got it in the oven, I got a craving for chocolate chip cookies - next thing you know - I've got a kitchen filled with raw dough! Something must get baked!