Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wrought Iron Finito!

I've been very good and sticking with the finishing even though I'm so not in the mood for finishing. I'm wanting to start new things. Shiny, pretty new yarn is waiting to be knit! I've been a good little Knitter though and I'm working on getting at least a few things actually done.
Awhile back and I do mean awhile, I looked it up, I started some socks. I joined the Solid Socks group on Ravelry and every month they have a chosen color or theme for their KAL. In October it was Purple and I dug out some lovely nom and started knitting. I got this Royal Purple in the nom of the month club but it's now available on their website.

I chose the Wrought Iron Socks from Wendy Johnson's second sock book: Toe-up Socks for Every Body. I love the look of these Austrian twisted stitches but I have to say; I didn't love knitting them.

I don't know if it was the combination of the yarn and needles (although they are soft and lovely now that they are done)  Or just the pattern which is a lot of tiny little cable crosses but I didn't really enjoy knitting them. The yarn was splitty with my KnitPicks Harmony Sock DPNs
I pushed on and knit the entire first sock, I even got the second sock to the heel flap which is kind of fun on toe-up socks because you decrease at each side of the heel flap. Then October Ended. I hadn't finished in time for the KAL and I wasn't loving them so I put them aside. I decided recently that I really wanted the socks though and I only had half a sock left to knit! I dug them out and started working on them again. I have to say, it was a struggle. I just wasn't loving the knit but today I finally, finally finished them!

I really do love the finished product.

They fit beautifully, I love the very bright purple (which is extremely hard to photograph! These are pale in comparison.) I love the cabley goodness. 
I will probably try the pattern again if I am in the mood for something like this but it isn't something that I'll rush right into. It is a challenge.
I did pay attention to details though, I mirrored all the cables.

You may or may not be able to tell from this photo but I know they're there. That's what really matters. Hah!
I still have a bin full of unfinished items but I'm not sure I can keep up the finishing much longer! 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Albatross that turned to the Phoenix

Does anyone remember me talking about this?

It's the Fiber Optic Yarns Rouge, Violet, Cerulean Gradient and it's for the Knitgirllls spinalong/knitalong. I have been talking about it for awhile. What seems like a long while.
I received the braid (from my preorder) in December. I couldn't start spinning until January 1 though. So I did, a little after midnight on New Year's Day I started. I was excited, I spun the first half of the braid pretty quickly. It took a long time.

I was so excited! One bobbin done, one to go! Then I would have to decide if I wanted a 3-ply (which would be navajo-plied) or a 2-ply which is what I had originally planned, which is why I split the braid the long way into two pieces.
Then I sort of lost steam. I knew it was going to take a lot of spinning hours to get that second half done and I just wasn't feeling it. I ignored it for probably 2 weeks at least, spinning just a few minutes here and there.
Then I realized that the deadline for the SAL part is coming up! It's meant to go January and February. We're already over halfway through February! Yikes! The handsome husband has been bugging me a bit about getting some things cleaned off the DVR because it's getting full so I decided to sit down and actually work on the DVR'd shows. After all, I DVR'd them because I like them right?
I started spinning and started watching. I watched Episodes 4 through the finale of Downton Abbey (no spoilers but I was not happy at the end!) and I was still spinning. I started working on other random bits off the DVR and various real time shows just to keep motivated. I was in the purple but it was taking a long time....Finally I managed to finish the second half of the braid.
Now came the time to decide, two-ply or navajo-ply. Tough call really. It was spun very fine so my concern with two-ply was partly strength and also that the 2 strands would not match up as well as I wanted color-wise. I knew I wanted a good amount of yardage though and two-ply is easier on my shoulder (which is much better but still reminds me occasionally that I should take it easy) so I ultimately went with two-ply.
So, I plied. And plied. And plied. I spent about 8 hours plying yesterday. Doesn't that sound ridiculous?! What was I doing all that time? I know sometimes I get distracted, going for more coffee, checking email and doing other things but really, a good amount of that time was actually spend plying so what gives?
I wound the skein onto my niddy noddy, trying my best to keep count of the wraps.
Then I understood why it had taken so long. All those hours spinning, all those hours plying. This was why. This made sense.

This skein of lovely gradient yarn. This beautiful 4 ounce baby. It has (If you're not sitting down, you should at this point.) 1350 yards. Yup, that's why it took so long.

I forgive it everything. I love it so much I'm currently wearing the skein as a scarf.

It's pretty well balanced too! And the very best part (well, one of them) is that it's not wiry. You know how sometimes (especially if you're me) you spin something and it ends up being wiry and not soft? This is soft, supple, gently shiny gorgeousness. I adore it.

It's so pretty and balanced that I'm debating whether I should even wash it. I'm ready to wind it up and get knitting. There's enough here for a circular shawl. A lovely, large lacy one. Wouldn't that be great? Of course, that would mean another new project but who's counting right?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Finished Hat to Match it All

If you remember back a few weeks I spun up some Babydoll Southdown and I was completely smitten with it. Completely. I could barely wait to cast on and so I did (despite my large number of UFOs) and quickly churned out a hat. I chose the Orland Cabled Beret because I thought the yarn would look great in cables and it does!

It doesn't look like all that much from the top (although I love the little, teeny i-cord knot) but from the side is where you get the pop!

It's gonna look wonderful with almost everything I own! I can't wait! (Why does my nose always look ridiculous in my hat pictures?)
Since I finished those socks and now this hat, that means I can cast on something new right? I'm starting to get itchy fingers. (Just kidding, sort of.)

I'm sorry for my brevity in this post, I have a raging headache today but I wanted to get something up for my lovely readers!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Truly An Afterthought

Thanks to everyone who responded to my last post. I got comments here, on Facebook, Plurk and privately! I loved hearing about your numbers and it is making me stick to finishing a few things before I start something else. To that end, on with the show!

I've been a little bit obsessive about self-striping sock yarn lately. If you're friends with me on Ravelry, you may have noticed that I have been increasing my Vesper sock yarn stash a great deal especially (I love destashes). I'm willing to try out almost any self-striping sock yarn though. I have a few others in my stash and this one was calling to me. The yarn came all the way to me from Australia! From the lovely etsy shop Yarn Vs. Zombies. When I saw the cute hand wound balls, I knew I just had to get one and this one is so fun! It's called: It came from the Deep. Isn't that great? It's a wool and nylon blend and while it's not the softest yarn, I think it will wear really well so I'm very excited about these socks.

I decided to keep them as purse socks and just knit on them a bit here and there when I had a chance so I don't think they've even had a blog mention. I also decided to do something I hadn't tried before. A true afterthought heel. I love the afterthought heel with striping yarns because it keeps the stripe sequence going, then you can go back and add in a heel later. I decided that with these socks, rather than adding the waste yarn, I would simply knit a toe, a tube and a cuff of ribbing, then go back and cut the heel in later. Sounds scary doesn't it?

First you knit two rather odd-looking tubes with toes.

Check. Don't they stripe so nicely! It's Black, Brilliant Blue, Green and a sort of Purpley Blue, in case you can't tell in this funny winter lighting.

The idea for the afterthought heel came (I believe, I haven't researched it myself) from Elizabeth Zimmermann. The idea was to just enjoy knitting your sock and think about the heel later. That's what I did too! Although it seemed like these went on and on and on. (Probably because they only got a row or two here and there.)

Next you dig out a trusty tape measure and measure for heel placement.

I'm going to share how I did this as well. First, I measured the toe to find out how deep it was. It was 2 inches. That's important because your heel will be the same depth. Then I measured my sock from the toe up to 2 inches shorter than the length of my foot (because that's how deep the heel will be).

My foot is 9 inches long. Therefore I measured to 7 inches (9-2=7) and picked up a needle full of stitches all the way across the sock.

There should be half the number of stitches you had while knitting the sock and make sure you picked it up so the toe is flat! You don't want your heel on the side of your sock but rather on the bottom.

Now you're ready to cut.

If that scissors lying there on the knitting makes you a little woozy, don't worry that's normal. I have found that large amounts of coffee are important for this part, although not so much that your hands shake, that would be bad.
You want to cut ONE stitch in the middle of the picked up stitches and unravel it out to either side, picking up the stitches that get freed on that side.

Well, it looks like a hole doesn't it? I knit around with 4 needles holding the stitches and a 5th to knit with so I've spread out the stitches onto 4 needles. I also picked up 2 stitches on either side of the sock to help minimize holes on the sides. Don't worry, you can decrease them out right away.
Now, just knit a toe.

I know it sounds (and looks) a little bit goofy but trust me, it works. Simply decrease down just like if you were working a flat toe on a top-down sock. Then graft the end.

Weave in the ends (Yikes! That seems like a lot!)

Then do it all again on the other sock.

It does look a little bit goofy just lying there.

But they fit great!

(Provided you put the heels in the right places)
There we have it, another finished object! Doesn't it feel wonderful? Well, it does to me, with my warm, new socks toes.
Pros and Cons of this method:
Pro: You can just knit and not think about the heel until later, meaning it works great for a purse sock or other mindless knitting.
Con: There are extra ends to weave in. If you do a waste yarn afterthought heel, there are only 2 ends, in this case, each heel had 4 ends. It can be a bit of a downer but not impossible to overcome.
Con: I still prefer the fit of a heel flap sock.
Pro: The stripes stay striping exactly the way they were through the rest of the sock.

Overall, I do like the method and I will use it again but it won't surpass all the other sock-heel methods that I know.
Note: I haven't forgotten about the food blog post I mentioned on my last post. I'll get to it.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

What is your "number"?

I had a lovely food post planned for today, I had pictures at the ready and I was set to go. I was excited about it too. I think people might be interested in this food post. Then my train of thought was derailed. Last night at Knit Night someone asked a question. A sort of loaded question so you might want to sit down if you're not already. We went around the table and answered this question.

Are you ready?

Are you sitting down?

Are you sure you're ready?

It can wait, are you really sure?

Okay, here goes. How many Unfinished projects do you have right now?

See what I mean? A loaded question. I don't really talk on my blog about how I move from project to project with little regard to getting something done. I do try to finish things occasionally but really I love the thrill of something new and so I often start things and never mention them. It's really okay because they often get frogged anyway. If they don't, they go into a bin and they get ignored until I think about them and then they get picked out and finished. Usually. Sometimes I can't even face them so they get shoved somewhere. Somewhere they can be forgotten.

I answered as truthfully as I could last night but then today, as I was casting on a new hat out of my lovely Southdown. You remember the southdown right?

The lovely 208 yards of 3-ply was just begging to be cast on. It is now but I was thinking about the question from last night. Pondering how many things I genuinely had on the go. I decided to get a little idea of how many there are. This is dangeous and I know it but now I had to know. I dug around a little bit. A very little bit, I didn't dig out old, horrible projects that need frogging or anything, I just dug around in the UFO basket in the living room and the UFO bin in the office.

Here is a representation of what I found.

This bin, this UFO bin from the living room here (which I did pretty up for its photo shoot, taking projects out of bags and things) is a fairly accurate representation of the*gasp* 25 or so projects I am currently working on. Now, that doesn't mean that I take them all out and actually work on them but these are projects I do have the intention of finishing. Someday. That's a lot. Twenty-five.

Many of these projects have been put aside for a specific reason. Honestly there's maybe 4 to 6 that I actually work on in a somewhat regular fashion but really, I was still floored at the number. This may explain why I've been feeling a little frazzled with my knitting lately. Why I don't seem to be able to make time to finish anything. It didn't stop me from starting the hat. It's there on the top of the bin but maybe it should slow me down a bit. Maybe, instead of starting anything new for a bit, I should finish something first. Maybe, just maybe, that's a good idea.

It also might explain why I can't find any size 1 dpns.

So now, I turn the question to my readers. How many projects are you working on? I shared my deep, dark secret number, what's yours?