Sunday, September 28, 2008

Vacuums are EVIL!

Note to knitters everywhere: when vacuuming near your knitting project, particularly when the laceweight yarn blends in with the carpeting, use extra care that you DO NOT accidentally vacuum up the yarn and suck several dozen yards of lace weight merino into the vacuum, wrapping it around the beater bar. Fortunately end of the yarn attached to the project snapped so I didn't suck the project into the vacuum or unravel any part of my Errold's Grove shawl. I did, however, manage to suck a sizeable chunk of lace weight yarn into the vacuum. This necessitated taking the vacuum apart and removing the beater bar so I could unwind the yarn. While I was at it, I also cleaned all the mutant dust monsters out of the vacuum (and even vacuumed the vacuum!), so that was good. I have now re-wound the yarn back onto the ball, but have not yet spit-spliced the ball end to the project end. There are a few frayed areas in the re-wound yarn that I may decide to cut and splice, but I didn't really want to mess with it at the time.

This experience may explain the general aversion to housekeeping exhibited by many knitters.

Halloween Knitting
I suddenly had a craving for candy corn today. It's the quintessential Halloween candy to me, being just the right color and not chocolate. Then I managed to find the pattern for Isela Phelps' Candy Corn Bag. Her pattern is for a knitted and felted bag, but I will make mine unfelted, using doubled worsted weight yarn, rather than the Lamb's Pride Bulky the pattern indicates. If I start tomorrow, I ought to be able to make two of these bags--one for my niece and one for my nephew. I haven't decided how big to make them. They could just be cute bags or they could be used for collecting candy when they Trick or Treat. I could just fill them with goodies before I mail them, I suppose.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Oddly Enough....

when I am mentally tired lately, I make fewer mistakes while knitting Errold's Grove than when knitting my Queen of Cups socks. It seems like the more complex stitch pattern ought to cause me more trouble, but apparently not.

What's that you say? Queen of Cups? Yes, I have decided to skip the blue Lorna's Laces yarn that used to be in progress to be Bellatrix. I am instead working on Queen of Cups, using some lovely Shibui Sock in the colorway Jewels. The pattern probably won't show up as well as it could, due to the variegation, but the yarn is royal purple, so Queen of Cups seemed to fit. I'm already through the first of two pattern repeats for the leg.

Halloween Knitting?
I found this pattern today. I have a nice cone of Harrisville Designs fingering weight wool in black that would be perfect for this. I'm trying to resist until I finish Queen of Cups, if not Errold. I don't really need a Bat Shawl. I really need to start knitting the niece and nephew sweaters for Christmas (and to order the Morehouse Merino critter patterns so I can start that knitting too).


Yes, my e-mail account was spoofed. It also appears that my "frequent contacts" list from gmail was used to send spam advertising electronics equipment. I have changed my account password as a matter of course, just in case the account was compromised. My apologies. If it's any consolation, I even spammed myself. Twice.

Burst of Creativity

For some unknown reason, I've been spewing out all sorts of creative thoughts in the past few days. I've had half a dozen ideas for knitting patterns (plans for swatching and writing are already begun), plus a couple of ideas for books/essays and other projects. I don't know what has brought this on, but I'm not complaining. It seems as though just about every time I get my brain quiet and floating in a sea of nothingness, some big idea pops into it. Whatever its origin, I'm going to foster this idea popping trend as much as I can.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Relaxation or Revitalization?

Today I was listened to a few past episodes of the Sticks and String podcast by David Reidy. In Show 64, he interviews designer Ann Feitelson. They discuss her extraordinary Fair Isle work and she mentioned that knitting revitalizes and rejuvenates her, rather than relaxing her. She simply doesn't knit to zone out or wind down and this is why she thinks Fair Isle knitting appeals so much to her--the challenge gets her fired up. That got me to thinking about what I want to get out of my knitting.

The answer for me is that it depends. Sometimes I want my knitting to recharge me. Other times I want to just zone out and relax. I suppose this is why I have multiple projects at any given time. Usually one is challenging or otherwise exciting and the other one is simpler or requires less mental energy. Oddly enough, the rejuvenation aspect can happen regardless of which project I work upon. There is something about knitting (or spinning) that can recharge my internal wellspring. Sometimes that is relaxing and sometimes that is invigorating.

I knit to have something concrete to show for my time and efforts. I knit to connect with my (deceased) paternal grandmother (I have all her knitting things, including a sweater in progress.) I knit for a sense of accomplishment. I knit because I have come to appreciate hand knit socks. I knit because my handknit garments fit better than store bought knitted things and are of higher quality than what I can afford to buy ready-made. I knit because I can give my knitted stuff to other people (even complete strangers) and they get to feel hugged by it. I spin because I love the look and feel of beautiful fiber. I spin because the rhythm of the spinning is soothing. Knitting and spinning can be meditative. I knit or spin to keep my hands busy while my mind wanders (or focuses) elsewhere. Knitting and spinning can be calming as I have to focus on what I'm doing and let the stresses of the day diffuse away. They can also be energizing as I watch the knitted (or spun) product grow and develop. There's just something exciting about watching yarn or fiber slowly reveal its end state.

Why do you knit (or spin or quilt or do whatever fiber thing you do)?

The Former Bellatrix Socks
Have decided that they really do want to be Pomatomus. Yesterday I thought they might have wanted to be Firenze Socks or Zombie Socks, but today Pomatomus is winning the "argument". I'm not sure the color is exactly what Firenze Socks should be, though the color yarn I have is almost exactly the same as what the designer used in her original socks. Watery blues are just not what I picture when I imagine the centaur Firenze. Something green/brown or yellow/gold/brown, but not this particular blue colorway.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Uninspired by Socks

I am, for some odd reason, completely uninspired by the prospect of starting a pair of socks. I have frogged the Bellatrix socks. I think they'll probably become Pomatomus socks eventually, but at the moment, I just cannot bear the thought of starting a pair of socks. I'm not even interested in finally casting on SOTS-3. I'm actually not all that thrilled about starting any project at the moment. I don't know where all that excitement and startitis from this weekend went, but it's certainly not here at the moment. I seriously hope that it has merely gone out for a bite to eat and will return shortly.

Perhaps if I go poke through my stash of yarn and patterns this weekend, I can coax the knitting fever back into existence....

In the meantime, I'll have a crack at chart 2 of Errold's Grove and see how that goes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Have Resisted!

It was a close call. I actually got out my favorite drop spindle and a bin full of prepared fiber, but I put it away later that same evening without opening it.

Since I was able to resist spinning, I did get quite a bit of knitting done. I am now up to the toe shaping on the first Bellatrix sock. And I have decided that it's too big in circumference in the leg/ankle area. It's going to end up all slouchy and droopy. I don't like slouchy, droopy socks. I like socks that are rather more snug than these. So I'm frogging them. The yarn will become Pomatomous socks instead.


Murphy's Law of Knitting
Now that my sock knitting project is waiting to be filled, I really don't feel like knitting socks at all. That's not exactly true. I want to knit lots of socks. I just don't want to knit any of hte patterns I have with any of the yarn I have at the moment. I really want a pair of Monkey Socks and a pair of Pomatomous, for example. I just don't want to work on them with any of hte yarns I currently have. Then, I really want to knit with my Unique Sheep Verve, but not any pattern that I have. *sigh*

Time to leave it alone for a few days. I'm clearly being far too fussy right now to pick something out.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Now the Bargaining Begins

So, yesterday I decided that I'd keep myself limited to 2-3 knitting projects at a time: one sock project, one larger (probably sweater) project and one "bonus" project to enable me to participate in KALs, etc. Now I'm negotiating with myself to increase that to 3-4 projects so I can have a consistent shawl/stole/lace project. And then there are the two sweaters I intend to knit for my niece and nephew for Christmas. Plus the Morehouse Merino critter hats, scarves and mittens. Maybe Holiday knitting needs to not fit into that 2-3 or 3-4 project plan.


Time to go knit. Maybe this will all sort itself out while I'm gone. I need to make progress getting projects finished and yarn used up. There's waaaaaay too much stuff in my house, including fiber. Maybe I'll give it until the end of the year and see how much progress I make, then decide in early 2009 if I need to just do some de-stashing.

I always thought I was the only person who knitted scarves but never really expected or intended to use them. Apparently, I am not alone. Oftroy at Golden Apples also questions her sanity when she knits scarves, but still continues to succumb to them. (They *are* a good project to use up odd skeins of yarn and to try out new stitch patterns...)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I Have Discovered Calendars!

Well, it's not that I didn't know what a calendar was. I have one on my Treo SmartPhone to keep me organized and going where I'm supposed to go every day. I have a paper monthly calendar hanging on the wall of my home office. I even use it to plan out gardening and yardwork activities a year at a time so I don't have to remember when I last fertilized the lawn, when I need to fertilize it next or when various plants should be divided and/or transplanted. I can remember routine daily or weekly activities (weeding, watering, harvesting), but I am not as good at remembering the intricacies of planting schedules or when I last did some periodic activity, like fertilizing. I just don't often use the wall calendar for planning.

I had a flash of insight this morning with my coffee. I could put knitting and spinning goals or plans on the calendar too. I have been excavating my stash and UFOs (UnFinished Objects) this week. I've talked about using a calendar-based approach toward finishing objects by assigning each work in progress (WIP) a day of the week and only working on it on that day or otherwise setting up a project rotation since I usually have fewer than seven projects (and also rarely get to knit each day of the week). That plan did work for about the first week, before I realized a fundamental problem with it. Well, the problem isn't so much the system as it is a personality trait conflict between me and the system.

You see, I'm a binge/immersion sort of person.

Once I get started on something, I tend to get very focused and don't want to do anything else but that one thing until either it's done or my attention wanes (for various reasons). Obviously my UFO stockpile indicates that I usually have an attention deficit issue before the project finishes, but if I achieve a critical mass of excitement and progress, I can actually get projects done. It's just a matter of making measurable progress over time. With more knitting time now, I am more likely to make measurable progress, even on larger projects.

So I'm proposing setting some time-based goals. Like finishing Errold's Grove by the 15th of October. Like finishing Bellatrix by the end of October. Like finishing my current spinning project (sock yarn from some vintage Blue Moon Fiber Arts roving) by the end of November and perhaps finishing the socks by the end of December. At the moment that is all that I've pencilled onto my wall calendar. This system may require some tweaking, like using intermediate sub-goals, but I will give it a go for the rest of the year.

I'm going to limit my active projects to two or three knitting projects and one spinning project. Any more than that and I tend to make little progress on anything, leading to abandoned or unfinished projects. With my recent desire to clear out the stash and the UFOs, I'm going to focus on having one sock project (can't put them down) and one "other" project from either stash yarn or finishing a UFO. That leaves one "bonus" project for those crazy knit alongs or other really cool projects that I just cannot wait to start. Where possible, the "bonus" project will also use stash yarn. I'm really in no danger of running out of yarn, even if I could knit all day, every day.

The Fall 2008 Knitty is up. I'm very enamored of Kinetic. It's meant to be a wrap. However, I have in my stash a cone of heavy aran to bulky weight yarn that would be marvelous in this as a throw/lap blanket. I'll probably double the width of the project as written, aiming for 36 inches wide and knit until "long enough" or I run out of yarn, whichever comes first. The yarn is something I bought on eBay years ago and is comprised of a strand of beige wool/cotton yarn plied with a rainbow variegated chenille. I have no idea how much of it is on the cone and I don't know that I really care. I had initially thought of knitting myself a vest from it, but I really don't think I'd wear it if I did. It would be comfy and pretty as a throw, however. Perhaps in early 2009 I might start that....

The Interlocking Leaves and Baroque socks have already been added to my To Do list for sock knitting. No decision yet on what yarn to use. I'll wait until I get closer to finishing Bellatrix to figure out the next sock project.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Errold Update and Knitting Blues

First, this is how far I've gotten on Errold's Grove.

I'm done with Chart A, except for the part where I can repeat the last motif several times. I thought I had repeated it the extra three times, but apparently either MMario's math is incorrect or I cannot count repeats. I have approximately two more motif repeats (eight rows) and some fudging to do before I will have 78 stitches per side (plus the corners).

Update: Morenna Math strikes again....if you add two stitches per round, it takes FOUR rounds/rows to add eight stitches, not eight rounds/rows. DOH! Yes, it's true, I can do differential calculus and like it. I cannot, however, do simple 4 function math terribly easily.

My "Blue Period"
Between five and ten years ago, my favorite yarn to buy was something blue. (More recently it's been red or purple, but I digress...) I had great intentions about knitting myself some pretty blue sweaters, but I found myself much better at starting projects than finishing them due to attention span issues or skill deficits.

This is the "Blueberry Sweater". The yarn is Cleckheaton Drop Dead Gorgeous. The color is Blueberries, thus the sweater name. What is amusing about this yarn is that I bought it in two separate states, but managed to get the same dye lot. Of course, it's now a discontinued yarn. I started this sweater following the Seed Stitch Pullover pattern from the book Simply Beautiful Sweaters. Of course, I changed the pattern to knit it in the round, but have no idea how to deal with the sleeves, so quit working on it about halfway up a sleeve since I didn't know how big ot make the top of the sleeve or the armscye. Having read EZ's Knitter's Almanac the other night as bedtime reading, I have begun to ponder the idea of frogging this sweater and re-knitting it as the "Last Minute Sweater" from the December chapter in Knitter's Almanac. This yarn will get me about 2.5 stitches to the inch, which matches the pattern gauge. I cannot think of any compelling reason why I couldn't or shouldn't frog a stalled (and unlikely to ever be finished) project in favor of re-knitting it as something I could and would finish. Can you?

This is the other blue pullover I started knitting years ago. I forget the name of the yarn and I am too lazy at the moment to go look at a yarn label, but it's a pretty superwash wool. The pattern is from a Berocco booklet and is now probably available for free on their website. I think I had to adjust the pattern to take into account my desired stitch gauge. I don't remember why I stopped working on this one, but I have the back done. I'm now debating ripping this one out and knitting myself a Fibonnacci Pullover with it. Or finding another pattern in my stash where I won't have to re-write the pattern to fit this yarn. I may just haul out Ann Budd's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns and see what I can find in there.

Next up: the purple Noro yarn that I've never seen anywhere else, but is dying to also become a sweater for me!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Yarn...She is Fickle

So, overnight the Lace-A-Licious decided it wanted to be the Myrtle Leaf Shawl from Victorian Lace Today and not be knitted into SOTS-3. I can live with that, but then I was a bit vexed because I still want to knit SOTS-3 at the moment and SOTS-3 has continued to insist that it be started SOON.

Fortunately, I have a suitable stash of yarn and of sweaters to be recycled. I found a wool sweater in my "recycle" pile that is a pale, heathered green color with some yellow and brown to it. The color reminds me of the green eyes of a cat and should be lovely as SOTS-3, based on what I've seen of the pattern so far. I spent the evening winding one sleeve into a ball and will hopefully cast on tomorrow evening. I'm not bothering to wash the kinks out of the yarn or to swatch. The yarn is fine enough (lace weight) to probably work up well on a size 4 or a size 5 needle. The kinks in the yarn will help me keep a looser gauge.

I'll leave the Myrtle Leaf Shawl for after I finish SOTS-3 and Errold's Grove. Myrtle will be the most complex-appearing lace project that I've yet knit.

The Adult Sweater Coming Soon
Silly me. I made the mistake of reading EZ's The Knitter's Almanac as my bedtime reading last night. Now I'm trying to decide between making the January Aran Sweater or the December Hurry-Up, Last Minute Sweater. I have a sufficient amount of red worsted weight wool from KnitPicks for either. The blue worsted weight will still become the Fibonacci Pullover. Decisions, decisions.....

What better topic to ponder while I knit, but what to knit next! (This, of course, is absolutely *dangerous* when undertaken while knitting at your favorite yarn shop. Fortunately, my favorite yarn shop is 7 hours away!)

I really ought to just finish the Blueberry Pullover I started several years go. I'm not sure how the sleeves will turn out, but I ought to just bite the bullet and go for it. If the sleeves aren't measured right, I can always rip them out and re-do them. This is what I get for modifying a pattern to fit a substituted yarn, while also re-writing the pattern to knit it in the round. Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns ought to help me with the details for sleeve measurements. That's it!! I'll use the Blueberry Sweater as a "reward" for finishing SOTS-3 and the new adult sweater as the reward for finishing the Blueberry!

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!!! Here's hoping my spinning wheel and drum carder don't start talking!!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Is it a bad thing?

I can't remember if I'm counting the additional repeats of rows 57-60 or the total repeats. I think it's additional. I may have to do the math to figure it out. That could be dangerous. With my math skills, there's a definite chance that the number I calculate will, in fact, be incorrect, which will wreak havoc with the subsequent knitting if I change what I'm doing to match the incorrect figure. I dunno. My brain is tired. I'll try to figure it out tomorrow.

The Shawl/Stole Knit Along Decision
I have decided to hold off on MS4. I'm not up to knitting a beaded stole at the moment and I haven't got a good idea yet for whom I would knit it. It's clear that this is not a project for me to wear/use. On the other hand, I'm definitely going to cast on Secret of the Stole 3 in the next week or two. That puts me about 4 weeks behind everybody else at the moment, but that's ok. I think I'll use a size 5 needle with my J. Knits Lace-a-licious. No, I'm not going to swatch. I'm just going to dive right in. Well, that's what I say right now. We'll see if I keep my nerve!

The Next Project Pondering Continues....
I'm thinking I need to knit a sweater for me this winter. I have the yarn and pattern for at least three different wool sweaters for me (not counting the Samuel Charis kits). Well, I'm short one pattern since I still haven't purchased Zimmerman's The Opinionated Knitter, but I do have the yarn and pattern for Knit Picks' Fibonacci Pullover and for the Paton's Must Have Cardi. Now I just need to decide between a cardi and a pullover. I'll let my subconscious mull that one over for the next few weeks while I finish Errold. (What do you bet my subconscious decides on a completely different project!)

The Returning Project
Sock Boy has informed me that he mailed the first sock back to me today. It ought to arrive by the end of the week. In the next couple of weeks I'll get the toe re-knit and send it back for a second fitting. Hopefully the second time is a charm and I can get a start on the second sock. I will manage to take better notes about the first sock so I can reproduce it reliably. I actually found my knitting notebook a few weeks back. Perhaps I ought to utilize it more often than once or twice every few years.....

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Back on Track Again!

I got the offending error fixed with a minimum of fuss and got knitted back up to row 57 with no trouble at all. I am now repeating rows 57-60 another three times to get me a bit more size with my shawl. Depending upon how big the remaining bits of the pattern are, this may well be a teeny, tiny little shawl. Oops. Once I get to the end of Chart A, I'll put all the stitches on some waste thread and see how large it might block. Since I'm knitting on a circular needle, I haven't really seen it flat yet. Another option to gain some size would be to go up a needle size at the end of Chart A, where the transition might not be as noticeable. And if I'm not happy with the size, I can always add repeats of the later charts, like the Companion's Tracks. It'll all work out somehow, of that I'm absolutely certain.

New Project Ponderings....

I spent part of the weekend working to move the Fiber Arts Bloggers blog ring from RingSurf over to Alt-webring. As a result, I perused several hundred fiber blogs. Wow! Now I'm seriously inspired to try some new things!! I found some patterns I hadn't ever seen before. I saw some absolutely gorgeous mixed-media fiber art and beautiful quilts.

Jennifer at A House on the Hill posted photos of a stunning quilt she designed and made to meet a challenge for her quilting guild's upcoming show. I had never heard of a Burpee challenge. The idea is that you draw a number out of a hat which corresponds to a page in the Burpee seed catalog. You then use something on that page as the basis for an art quilt--using the names, colors, anything from that page. She designed a quilt based upon a flower variety named "Strawberry Fields", which is, of course, brilliant red-pink. My favorite part of the quilt is the feet with the flowery, beaded toenails. It's just so cheery and summery. Now I'm wondering if I could somehow adapt the Burpee Challenge idea to using up my stash. I have plenty of single-skeins or single cones of yarn which could be turned into scarves or shawls/stoles, if only I had a pattern for them. (Yes, I'm still on a kick to use up my stash yarns.)

Despite these ponderings, I'm not feeling the urge to cast on something new. I want to finish Errold and Bellatrix, then move on. However, I may cast on SOTS-3 soon. It's still talking to me.... Mystery Stole 4, however, isn't talking as much at the moment. In looking at photos for Clue #1, it's apparent that the beads really are necessary. (Yes, the designer was right and it wouldn't look right without beads.) Now I'll either have to figure out what yarn and beads to use or decide that a beaded stole really isn't me and drop out. At the moment I'm leaning toward the latter and that's just fine.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Well, *that* didn't go quite as planned....

Surprisingly, I did NOT knit any new mistakes last night. I did, however, find a mistake about 3 rows down right when I started to knit. I ended up not knitting a single stitch. Instead, I spent the evening ripping out a round of knitting and have two more to go, probably. I missed one of the YO's just after the corner stitch. I tried to fix it, but still ended up with a goofy stitch count. The only thing left to do was rip. That's ok. Better to find the error just a row or three later, than an inch or three later. I'll be back on track in no time!

Now I have something of a quandary. The first clue for Mystery Stole 4 came out this morning. Conveniently I am taking this afternoon off, since I've worked straight through the past 13 days, with some very LOOOOONG days to boot. So I could quite easily cast on MS4, except that I have no beads. According to the designer, the beads are integral to the design. That's fine, but I'm not exactly a bead sort of girl. I'm only barely a shawl/stole kind of girl and I'd rather have a plain stole than a beaded one. My smarter neurons tell me to wait and see what other people's Clue #1 looks like with beads before casting on myself. My startitis neurons are telling the smarter ones to sit down and be quiet. And then there are the neurons pointing out that I could just cast on for Secret of the Shawl 3 and leave MS4 for later. *sigh*

I have decided that this afternoon will be devoted to cleaning my house (for the first time in three weeks), until 5pm, which is when I normally get home from work. After that, I'm spending the next two days doing whatever comes to mind that might be fun. Methinks that will be a lot of knitting!!! At the moment, I'm thinking I'll alternate between Bellatrix and Errold's Grove while the two mystery KALs battle it out in my head.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Commence Knitting Now....

The last bus has left the shelter and we have closed our operations center. I am now about to plop myself in my comfy chair for an evening of knitting. Oddly enough, I feel like working on Errold's Grove. I've had my Bellatrix sock in my car all week (and was far too busy to knit anything), but my brain says it wants something challenging to end the day/week. Go figure.

How much do you want to bet that tomorrow's post is all about having to rip back whatever I knit tonight! :-)

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Temporary Knitting Hiatus

I'm working long hours and no days off this week. I'm helping run the medical care end of a shelter housing about 550 Hurricane Gustav evacuees. We're thinking the shelter may de-mobilize this weekend. Knitting will commence immediately after. I'm going to spend a whole day sitting on my bahookie and knitting something entertaining, yet soothing.