Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Gauge issues

So much for my cunning plan with regard to sock knitting. I remember now why I have been on a bit of a sock hiatus. Most of the yarn in my stash is a little thicker or thinner than usual and won't work with my usual 2.5mm Addi Turbos. I am hopelessly devoted to my Addi's and can't even contemplate knitting with DPNs or with magic loop - I usually just use a 30cm Addi and work around and around. Even I can manage that.

But - disaster....

The Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport is not a true sock weight, but a 'sport' weight and so really needs a 3mm needle, which of course, I don't have.

Still, I carried on and have worked most of the first sock on 2.5mm needles (firmly putting the voice of reason in the cupboard under the stairs). Then I have taken a close look at and realised the inevitable - it doesn't work with that particular gauge.

In fact, the combination of slightly thicker yarn, slightly too small needles and the Rib Fantastic pattern have conspired to make a sock so firm it can stand up by itself. I have created 'Socks of Steel'.

I could do the mature, rational thing and calmly frog it and order some larger needles. Or I could cast on with something else from my stash in a different pattern and leave the original sock in a heap at the bottom of my knitting bag - three guesses which I did :)

On a brighter note, the Gathered Pullover is done. Well it needs seaming obviously, but in my book that counts as done.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Too soon...?

Is it too soon to think about starting to knit Christmas presents? Am I turning into my mother? The next thing you know I'll be buying my Christmas cards in the January sale and hiding them in the airing cupboard.

If it is too soon, I apologise and please feel free to gloss over the next few lines.

A few days off work have seen me make satisfactory progress on most of my projects, although the (few) days of hot weather have made me think twice about wrestling with the Gathered Pullover. Rowan Felted Tweed is gorgeous (as I think I may have mentioned once or twice) but it is hot and hairy in the current climate.

So I got to thinking about socks as unusually I didn't have a pair OTN...and then I got to thinking about the various relatives who have expressed an interest in receiving a hand-knit pair... and then...inevitably..I got to thinking about Christmas (sorry).

So I had a mammoth session of Ravelry browsing and stash diving, and emerged several hours later and slightly dishevelled with a (sort of) list of socks to knit. And all from stash yarn - so full marks on the virtuous front.

In no particular order we have:

1. Rib Fantastic socks in Lorna's Laces Shepherd sock (Sister)
2. Inside-out socks in some recently acquired Malabrigo sock (Mum)
3. Plain rib socks in Trekking XXL (Dad and Dad-in-law)
4. Socks of my own creation for ever-loving OH in Lang wool/silk

Then it dawned on me, that I am not the world's fastest sock knitter, and that unless I was planning to employ a team of house-elves I had better get some sock knitting done. I suspect all that plain boring 'man-rib' knitting might start to wear after a while so I'll need to have a couple of things on the go at once to avoid madness.

So, too soon for Christmas sock knitting...? Never!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

A few of my favourite things

Bliss - a few toddler-free hours in which to relax, put my feet up, think calming thoughts and work on the never-ending LGP:

Excuse the Tunnocks chocolate biscuit... I needed a sugar hit.

I've been trying to be very good and work on my current projects, but the new Fall edition of the Twist Collective hit my inbox this week and there are some beautiful patterns in there just crying out to be cast on - check this out if you don't believe me...

I must be an Ysolda junkie, because the first thing that jumped out at me was the Vine Yoke cardigan - and even worse - I have some pale green Rowan Cashsoft aran in my stash that I think would substitute pretty well. I gave in to temptation and bought the pattern, but I won't cast on for it until I have finished the Gathered Pullover - although swatching doesn't count :)

To distract myself I have been also mostly playing with stripes:

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Zen and the art of stocking stitch

The Gathered Pullover is gathering pace I am pleased to report. Sometimes the thought of endless stocking stitch knit in the round is enough to send me cowering behind the sofa - at other times it's exactly the sort of project I need.

I think it is a combination of the beautiful Rowan Felted Tweed - the love affair continues with this yarn, and the simplicity of the pattern which means that this is the first knitting project I reach for whenever I get a chance to sit down.

I have just finished the centre cable section - just enough to keep my interest going and now I'm just working my way up to the neck divide.

I really hope that I love the finished product, as much as I love the WIP.

Since I started knitting I've always considered myself to be a process knitter rather than a product knitter, and some of my early projects were, to be fair, pretty dire. Some of them were sweaters for myself - I don't know why but in my early pre-Ravelry days I assumed that if I were going to knit something then it had to be a sweater. Needless to say that I rarely wear them, one has been frogged and one has been felted (on purpose) to be used for something else. I'm sorry to say that I also inflicted several sorry handknits on my closest relatives, none of whom complained, but I'm sure those items are quietly stashed in a drawer somewhere or made their way to the nearest charity shop.

Now that I am approaching my two-year knitting anniversary, I find myself being a lot more critical of the items I knit and and also who I give them to...

Something to bear in mind when compiling my Christmas knitting list this year.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Knitting voyerism

Due to a combination of hectic work-life and much travelling my knitting record this week is rather dismal, compounded by the fact that OH has purloined the camera for work use and it is now languishing somewhere in his office.

I normally jump at the chance for work-related travel as it is usually by train (and therefore leads to a great opportunity for uninterrupted knitting). However, this week much of it has been driving up and down various motorways, and not even the most dedicated multi-tasker can tackle knitting and the M6 simultaneously. I did manage some sneaky sock knitting in a traffic jam though (my engine was definitely switched off, officer...)

This enforced lack of knitting has meant that during my few leisure moments I have been delving into the black hole that is Ravelry - being too tired and stressed to pick up the needles but still craving my knitting-fix. Quite where the time goes while I'm browsing the Ravelry pages I have no idea, but I could probably have made substantial progress on my current sock project during these 'I have no time to knit...' moments.

All this browsing has a double-whammy effect, as I now have many more projects added to my queue, and less time in which to work on them.

I liken the effect Ravelry has on me, to another of my habits, namely that of peering through the windows of other houses at night, when the occupants haven't drawn their curtains. It drives OH mad, but for some reason I am genuinely interested in some complete strangers living room decor. Ravelry is the same - all those WIPs and FOs neatly displayed for me to browse at my leisure.

Also OH can't take me by the hand and drag me away muttering something about 'being arrested...'

Monday, 3 August 2009

Facing up to frogging

It had all been going so well...
I spoke briefly of Liesl a few posts ago and I was trying to get it finished ready for a family party. It really was one of the fastest knits that I have done recently, and I think that therein lies the problem.
Problem #1: I didn't have a 7mm circular needle. But I had a 6.5mm one - near enough...
Problem #2: I didn't do a gauge swatch - why break the habit of a lifetime?
Problem #3: When I started to think "Hmmm, this might be a little bit small", I didn't stop to slip it on to waste yarn and try it on.
Problem #4: When I started to think "Never mind, I can always block it to be a little larger", I forgot that there isn't much give in Manos silk blend.

The outcome is of course, a too tight bolero jacket which could only be worn for short periods without risking the loss of circulation to my arms. To make matters worse, even though I love the yarn, love the pattern and love the stitch pattern, when I was wearing the finished item it just kept shouting BEDJACKET to me.

What can I say, it just wasn't me. Even if I did re-knit it in a larger size I just don't feel the love for it anymore. Ive seen some lovely examples on Ravelry which are just beautiful but I'm just not happy with mine.
So it has been unceremoniously frogged and the Manos is sitting awaiting another project.

In the meantime I cast on for the Gathered Pullover from Interweave Knits, using some bargain Rowan felted tweed in Bilberry (lovely heathery purple colour) that I scored from ebay. Ive never used felted tweed before and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. It is much softer than I thought it would be and it works up into a beautiful light fabric. Very nice... and it makes the 8" of stocking stitch before the cable section starts easier to bear.

The Posy crochet project is plodding on. I do love it but find that crochet isn't nearly as relaxing as knitting. It is fun, interesting and absorbing but it doesn't relax and sooth my mind as much as knitting. When I crave some quiet time with just me and some yarn, I reach for my knitting needles every time!