around n round she goes

A blog for my knitting, spinning, quilting, violin-playing, or whatever else floats my boat

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Location: Texas

Thursday, August 31, 2006

got gauge? - no, and I'm glad

I started my sss (second sock syndrome) swap sock last night. I've got very yummy yarn and a nifty pattern - one that shouldn't overwhelm the pretty handpainted yarn. The pattern called for a US size 0 needle. OK, I've never actually used my size 0 dpns for anything, but I do own a set.

I merrily cast-on and worked my way down part of the pattern. Gosh, maybe I better check my gauge....after all, I'm making this sock for someone else.

Pattern calls for 8 stitches per inch. Hmmm, I'm getting 9 1/2 stitches per inch.

Darn, I'm going to have to go up at least one needle size, maybe two.

Do I sound upset? I'm not .... those size 0 bamboos were a real pain in the behind. I'd really rather use a size 1 or 2. I'd rather rip out now than get half-way up the sock and discover that I can't squeeze a foot into this thing. And if my swap partner is worried about getting gauge to match - the designer admits that she's a loose knitter and often has to go down a needle size to get gauge on other people's designs so 1s or 2s will probably work for you, too. the frog pond I go!

On a happier note, I'm really liking my Spearfish socks with the reclaimed Red Cross yarn. It's a fun knit and the pattern is easy to remember. I didn't bother to wash the yarn so it's nice and crimpy from being knitted up for a few years. It looks like khaki ramen noodles...

Between the two sock projects and trying to find a zipper for my sweatshirt jacket, I haven't touched my Fair Isle for several days. My hubby and I are taking Friday off - with the Monday holiday we'll have a full four days. With no particular plans, I'm hoping to make some knitting progress -

My long-weekend list:

1. See how close I can get to finishing sleeve #1 on the Fearless Fair Isle.
2. Sew that darn zipper into the sweatshirt jacket - it won't be a FO until that's done!
3. Get re-started on the sss sock - once I've got a start on it, I should be able to crank pretty steadily.

By the way - that yarn for the sss sock? I've been whining about using dark yarn, right? Complaining about how hard it is to see? Feel free to kick me when you see it... it's kinda dark - but it's so darn pretty! I couldn't resist! It makes my mouth water. It's got so many pretty colors in it, like little jewels. So if I go blind trying to knit this stuff, it's entirely my own fault.

I've never used handpainted yarn before - I'm afraid I'm hooked already. I'd show you a picture but I'm trying to keep it a surprise for my swap pal. (I may break down later, though.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Happy Birthday, Emy!

Our baby girl is 3! Look at that wild look....she was getting loved on by her daddy, but she was really looking for him to play with her.


Now I need a zipper...

I love my wooly board! Blocking made all the difference in the world for this sweater. Washing did too, for that matter. You should have seen the nasty wash water - and I washed the yarn before I even used it for knitting!

The edges uncurled, the stitches filled in and evened up. I blocked rather aggressively, as I was afraid it was going to be too small - it's just right now. Those bits of white in the picture? Random bits of white fluff in the roving - I didn't bother to remove them (thought they added to the homespun look).

Now it's off to the fabric store for a zipper (the first one I got was too short) and to the yarn store for some special yarn for my SSS pal. I'd like to get started on that as soon as possible.

And for those asking after my Fearless Fair Isle - yes, it has been revived! I managed to knit a few rounds (and un-knit a few rounds - don't ask) this weekend. Pictures later this week, when actual progress has been made.

I think my next sweater will have to be a fisherman's gansey. I've been re-reading Michael Pearson's Traditional Knitting book. He's got an extensive section on ganseys with great pictures of old ganseys (and their wearers), along with charted traditional patterns. This is not a 'how-to-knit' book (although there are some patterns) but a great resource for knitting history. The stories from each little town he visited are wonderful. There are smaller sections on Fair Isle and Aran knitting that are very good, too.

I think it would be fun to try it with the traditional 16" steel knitting pins and the knitting belt. (Ok, did I just say that that would be fun? What am I thinking...) The only thing I don't think I'll manage is the traditional dark navy blue - how about red, instead?

I just noticed that yesterday's post was my 100th! When I started this at the beginning of the year I had no idea that I could babble on so much.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Second Sock Syndrome Swap Questionnaire

1. What are you favorite sock yarns?
I haven't yet met a sock yarn I didn't like.

2. What are your least favorite sock yarns? Anything you just cannot use?
See #1 above - Don't think I'd care for pure acrylic, but otherwise, anything goes.

3. What method do you prefer to use (DPN's, 2 circs, 1 circ, etc.)
I'm a top-down double point needle kind of gal - but I'm willing to try other techniques.

4. Is there any method that you cannot use?
Don't know 'til I try!

5. What are you favorite colors?
Nothing too dark! I'm having problems seeing itty-bitty stitches as it is. Otherwise, I love blue, green, red, gray, neutrals. Don't care for yellow or orange (unless it is a small part a mixed palette).

6. Are you a beginner, intermediate, or more advanced sock knitter?
Intermediate - I can handle lace, cables, color-work.

7. Any other info you want to share (such as other likes, dislikes, hobbies, etc)?
I have a kitty and a pair of cockatiels. I used to quilt, crochet, do counted cross-stitch, needle-point, sew - still do all of those occasionally.

8. What size is your foot (so your partner can create the right size sock)?
I wear a US size 8 shoe - I'd consider my feet to be 'average' in size and width.

This should be a lot of fun. I can't wait to see what my swap partner comes up with! Ooh, sss partner, please leave me a comment and say hi! (anonymous, if you want).

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Getting close

I'm getting close to finishing this puppy. Sleeves are seamed and attached to the body. Next stop - crocheting the front edges.
After that, knitting the neckband, sewing on the pockets and sewing in a zipper. Think I'll block it prior to the zipper, though. It needs some evening out since my yarn isn't the most consistent product. Yeah! Finally get to use my wooly board!

Seaming with handspun - not the best idea in the world. My yarn is rather rough and not terribly even. The more I sewed with it, the more abraded it became. Still managed it though. Next time I'll use commercial yarn for seaming.

Sewing 81 stitches at the top of the sleeve to 61 stitches in the armhole - This is why I really wanted to knit down from the armhole. Took me longer to get everything lined up evenly than it did to actually sew it up.

Monday, August 21, 2006

...and bake at 104 degrees for two hours

Here's the last skein of Black Welsh Mountain top. I hung it out in the tree around 2:30pm yesterday afternoon. It may have taken a bit more than 2 hours to dry, but not much more. It's just too darn hot around here. (That strange object hanging next to the hank of yarn is a windchime seen on edge. It's down to one ringer; the strings are rotted, I think.)

I did manage to finish the sleeves of my sweatshirt jacket last night! Now for the neckband and the crochet front band. And, of course, all that finishing.

This has a zipper closure, so I need to shop for a zipper soon.

Recognize these? This is what remains of my unwearable Red Cross socks. I've got plans for this salvaged yarn. I had thought of remaking them to the same pattern (but more wearable) and donating them to the Socks for Soldiers but that group is doing them in black. If I had problems with navy blue, I'll go blind with black sock yarn. (I think what they're doing is great and I hope they get lots of socks done.)

Instead, I'm thinking about this beautiful pattern. Just enough lace, just enough texture.

Eye Exam for Knitters:

What do you see in this picture?

Did you see lots and lots of sock needles? Then your vision is just fine. By the way, these are about 6 3/4 inches long and about 3mm (between a US size 2 & 3 according to my needle sizer). I'll have to smooth them down a bit, as there are a few rough spots in the plastic. The yellow ones are just a tiny bit bigger than the other colors.

Still not a bad deal for $1.89 at the grocery store for 30 toy pick-up sticks. These might work well if I teach a course on sock knitting.

And here's more charity knitting. (See, I've justified the 'more-than-one-project' thing to myself. If it's for charity, it's ok)

This is the world's easiest baby blankie. I got the idea from Rebekah's Corner to Corner Critter Blanket.

Friday, August 18, 2006

What Kind of Knitter Are You?

You appear to be a Knitting Purist. You are an accomplished knitter producing beautiful pieces with a classic feel. You sometimes lament losing half of your local yarn shop to garish novelty yarns. Perhaps you consider fun fur scarves the bane of knitting society and prefer to steer new knitters towards the wool and cotton blends. Some might call you a bit of an elitist but you know that you've been doing this craft long enough to respect the history behind it and honor it with beautiful piece that can last a lifetime.

Take this quiz!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Today is my dad's birthday. My sister and I have been blessed with wonderful parents. We're very lucky and we know it.

Hope your day was great, Daddy. I love you....

well, that didn't last long....

Proof that I can't seem to stick to any resolutions very long (at least those that pertain to knitting, anyway).

Baby hats! My excuse is that these are for charity and therefore don't count in my resolve to stick to one project at a time until both of my sweaters are complete. (sounds good at least)

I have made some progress on the installment sweatshirt jacket, so I'm not totally ignoring the sweaters. I'm almost out of yarn again but still have a couple of inches per sleeve left to go. I'm thinking one more decent-sized skein will probably be sufficient to finish both the sleeves and the neckband.

I've also broken down and joined Adelle's Second Sock Syndrome Swap! I've never done a swap before - this should be interesting. You can still sign up (deadline is the 19th) if anyone else is interested. I know, I know, that also breaks my resolve to finish the sweaters before starting any other new projects..... but who knows? Maybe I'll be able to finish them before I start on the sock? (yeh, right)

Monday, August 14, 2006

and across the finish line

Pattern: Railroad stitch man's sock from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks
Yarn: Sisu Maskinvaskbar 80% wool 20% nylon in navy and gray
Needles: Brittany dpns in US size 1 1/2 (2.5 mm)
Started: June 13, 2006
Finished: August 13, 2006

What I did differently - not much besides color. The pattern calls for a striped heel and striped toe. I was going to make it all one color, but didn't have enough yarn. That's why there are gray toes. (although, looking back I bought 4 skeins of the navy blue - why did I think I didn't have enough?) I also didn't bother with the purl stitch line that travels down the back of the heel.

I like these socks; they're very substantial (that's partly the nice springy yarn). The textured pattern also allows for quite a bit of stretch.

By concentrating on just one project I did manage to finish well within my deadline (what a concept - working on one project at a time). I think I'm going to do the same thing with my poor neglected sweatshirt jacket and my Fearless Fair Isle.

No more new projects 'til both of these are done! (she shouts!!!) I'm going to work on them one at a time, 'til each is complete! (she shouts again!!!)

well, except I need to knit some baby hats for the hospital. and my husband wants me to knit some railroad stitch socks for his dad. and I really want to pick up the Tina shawl and work on it (did you see Natalie's completed lacey lattice stole? it's absolutely beautiful!). and I'm thinking about knitting a fisherman's gansey with the authentic 5-ply wool and size one needles (maybe the Humber Keel or the Whitby).

Ummm, am I doomed to fail? Only time will tell.....

Designing Fair Isle -

My new design mostly exists in my head and in black & white charts (ok, purple and white charts) right now. As an aid to designing I've ordered shade cards for both Jamieson's and Jamieson & Smith's yarn. Can hardly wait for them to arrive.

It's funny. When I first started dreaming up this design I saw it as done in primarily blues and greens. When I close my eyes now it almost always appears in shades of red.

When your designs start developing personalities of their own, it's definitely time to start locking them down in color swatches. Or contemplating that padded cell (would they allow me my knitting needles in there?). So as soon as the shade cards get here I'm going to splurge and get a bunch of yarn in various shades of blue, green and red so I can experiment with actual yarn.

Friday, August 11, 2006

And it's around the back turn

6 days left....

I've turned the heel, so feel a bit more confident of finishing this on time.

Have you seen WendyKnits? Her cat Lucy has her own Socks that Rock colorway! Don't let Emy know, she might be jealous. After all, sock yarn is one of her favorite chew toys (along with sock needles).

Designing an Emy colorway... Ok, mostly black, with a little white and a little green (for the eyes). Hmm, maybe not.

So far, Brigitte is the only one to register a vote on the Red Cross socks. I'm inclined to agree that the best thing to do is just reclaim the yarn. Maybe I can find an interesting sock pattern to pep up the army green.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

the race continues

7 days and counting....

Emy allowed belly rubs last night! Of course, she didn't allow it for very long but the precious tum-tum did get stroked a bit - she much prefers chin and neck scratches.

What to do with these?

This is the first pair of socks I ever knit. Yes, it's the Red Cross Knit Kit socks. I knit them in gauge with the size needles included in the kit - size 3?, 4? (although not with the actual needles included - red plastic just isn't me) and ended up with these monster socks that no one would want to wear.

I tried them on today in a desperate bid to use my own hand knits, but there's no way. Not only are they waaay too big for me (or anyone except Andre the Giant), the gauge is so loose I was worried about poking a toe through by the end of the first day. For that reason, I wouldn't even give them to someone else (with much bigger feet).

The upside to all this? I did learn how to knit socks. The Red Cross sock pattern does still work after all, and all of my own socks since then have been based upon the concepts used in that pattern. Standard top-down, heel-flap and gusset with a grafted toe but with much more reasonable needle sizes, gauges, and stitch counts.

Choice #1 - attempt to felt them to a smaller size.
The yarn that comes with the kit is marked as 100% wool. There's no info as to 'superwash' capabilities so I'm assuming that they'll felt up just fine. Of course, they may end up a size suitable for my 8 yr old niece and I'm not sure she'll ever wear olive green knee highs.

Choice #2 - reclaim the yarn for something else.
It's heartbreaking to unravel two complete socks, but I could probably knit something useable out of it. The yarn is perfectly acceptable sock weight wool even if it is army green. There may be enough for 2 pair of ordinary socks.

Choice #3 - put them back in the drawer and forget it.
After all, that's what I've been doing for the past several years. That way I can drag them out every once in a while and remind myself that I do much better work now.

What do you think?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

the great sock race

8 days and counting down.....

(Objects in mirror are closer than they appear...)

There would have been more, but I messed up and had to pull out a couple of rows - apparently I can't chat (even with other knitters) and knit at the same time.

For those of you that suffer from Second Sock Syndrome (who, me?) - Adelle at Girl is Crafty is starting a great swap. You knit one sock then send it and all the stuff (yarn, pattern, etc.) on to someone else and they knit the second sock! While you're knitting a sock for them, they're knitting one for you. You get to knit two totally different socks! Sounds like a great idea, doesn't it? The sign-up deadline is August 19th, so get over there if you're interested. I need to assess the project list before I take on anything more - it's very tempting, though.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

so, I lied (kind of)

I said I was working on sleeves this weekend, didn't I? Well, I ran out of yarn for the sleeves of the installment sweatshirt jacket Friday night and just couldn't make myself spin any more. (But I did get pretty far along before I ran out.)

It was too dang hot to work on the Fearless Fair Isle. I couldn't see well enough to make myself work on the railroad stitch socks (darn that navy blue yarn). Notice all the rationalizations to keep me from working on my WIPs?

So I started (and finished) something new!

This is another baby sweater for Parkland hospital. Sirdar Snuggly dk yarn (50 grams/191 yds) and my own design. And I didn't lie completely - look, there are sleeves!

I'll probably whip up a hat and booties to go with this, since I've got plenty of this yarn.

But now, on to things with deadlines - this sock-

must look like the other sock -

in 9 days. Time to get a move on.

Friday, August 04, 2006

When good designs go bad

Don't know about you but this one gives me a headache. Reminds me of the 60's (should probably be florescent green and orange). If you stare at it long enough, it moves...

I was trying for a nice over-all Fair Isle pattern - hey, it's got oxo's right?

This one's going in the recycle bin - sanity returned after the headache went away and something better (I think) is in the works.

By the way, if you want this design, you're welcome to it. I promise not to yell if you can come up with something beautiful. Maybe I'm just not looking at it right.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! I'm knitting (wait for it....) sleeves! Doesn't matter which sweater I choose to work on - it'll be sleeves....

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Jack and Jill

Jack (on the right) and Jill (on the left). About the only way to tell them apart is Jill's white patch on the back of his neck and his white middle toes. He's also just a bit bigger than Jack. Both of them are giving me that 'what the heck are you doing in here?' look.

Jack is 16 and Jill is 9 years old.

Jack coming for a closer look at the camera.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Twin sleeves and a rescued bird

Another installment

Well, finished spinning up the rest of my original roving and started on the sleeves. Trying to remember to read all the directions backwards so I can do them cuff-up rather than shoulder-down - and must remember to add a stitch on either side for the seam that the original doesn't have. Already messed up and didn't cast on as many stitches as needed for the cuffs, but I'm not going back and changing it - I don't mind slightly snug cuffs.

At least I caught it before adding stitches at the top of the cuff - so total stitch count for the sleeves will be right.

The color change happened a little earlier than I'd've liked but I'm just glad the original roving has lasted this long and the bottom of the sleeves will match the bottom of the sweater. I've saved a little bit of this color for sewing the pockets and finishing up.

I even spun up another skein's worth of the Black Welsh Mountain top (I already have one skein spun). I've been spending more time prepping my fiber before spinning - I'm usually too impatient and have been known to just pull a handful from a fleece and start spinning from wherever I please. I'm working with prepared fibers this time and it does help to strip the roving or top down quite a bit and loosen it up before I start.

Even spent a bit of time working on my new Fair Isle design - might be getting a bit too ambitious there - I tend to go a bit over the top sometimes. And, no, I'm not showing anybody the designs before I start; I'll probably change my mind at least 10 times before I even start.

Before anyone asks - I've not done anything on my Fearless Fair Isle or my railroad stitch socks for awhile. I'm obsessing too much with my sweatshirt jacket right now.

Bird Rescue

My husband looked out a window at work yesterday morning and saw a beautiful blue bird flying around. Thought for a brief moment that it was a blue jay, then realized that it was much too colorful for that. It was a parakeet... it landed in the street in front of the building... DH took several tries and finally managed to catch it in his hat.

It's at the Richardson, Texas, animal shelter in case you know someone missing a bird. It's beautifully marked and has lovely color. It's got a band on its leg and seems fairly tame. I got the impression that the young fellow at the shelter wouldn't mind having another parakeet (he's got two already and seems very knowledgeable about birds). If the owner of the bird doesn't claim it, I suspect it will be finding a good home. I posted a 'found bird' notice in several websites hoping the original owner will see it.

I acquired with my cockatiel in a similar fashion. A co-worker of mine had found him in her yard and didn't know what to do with him. I took him and after several weeks of not locating an owner decided he was mine. Jack was probably less than a year at the time - he's 16 now. Last time I had him at the vet (which has been awhile, I admit), she was amazed that a cockatiel that old was in that good of shape. We got him a companion about 9 years ago - Jill. Jill's a male too, but we didn't know it at the time as he was immature and not showing his orange cheek patches. They get along fairly well, although Jill can be a bit of a bully.

Emy thinks they are both very interesting, but Jack finds her equally interesting. He has caused clothes pins to snap at her (we use them to keep the birdie bloomer around the cage up). He works on them until they fly off right in front of her. I thought it was an accident the first time - I knew better when I saw him do again. If she approaches the cage he gets down on her level and follows her all the way around it. He's not afraid of her, in fact, I think he likes her. I'll post some pictures of Jack & Jill later this week.