Tuesday, January 31, 2012

For the Moment


I am still thinking about how to finish the sleeves of the leafy vest. SO.. after hemming and hawing, and doing nothing—I went back to January's Black & White cookies socks. Do you want to see the four row of progress? Nah, it's not worth it. I'll work on them today, and tonight at LIC knit night and take a photograph tomorrow, when there is something more to see.

The top portion of the sock is now just past 5 inches, and normally I like to knit 7 or so inches of leg before I start the heel flap—but I'm growing bored with these socks, and want to finish them up and start on something new. So I'll continue the leg till I reach 6 inches, then start the heel flap (still working flat) and won't start working in the round till the turning and bottom of the foot.

Then there will be a few tedious rounds of intarsia in the round (for the length of the gussets), to continue the white front a bit onto the instep.   The bulk of the foot will solid, simple black.

All this indecision about the sleeves sent me to pot—the dye pot! Another skein of white sock yarn is on its way to being apricot—and then will be over dyed with some deep crimson and some red violet and a bit of yellow orange—It sounds awful, doesn't it? But—stop and think about a big juicy nectarine..with apricot flesh, and a skin of a deeper yellow orange, blushed with rose, and patches of deep reddish purple—Is there anything prettier? Wouldn't a nectarine color way be just wonderful?--Now my color choices make a lot more sense, don't they!

I can't get all the colors in one pass—so first the base of apricot.. and then I'll over dye and add splashes of the other colors. I don't have any solid orange in my wardrobe—but I have lots of golden shades—none are quite apricot, but there are several t shirts in shades of golds—marigold yellows, and other yellow oranges. There is purple, too (I have a pair of pants (in size 3X) that are on their way to becoming a skirt (size 1X—with a drawstring waist so as to become a size large) and I love to mix purple with yellow.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Collared



The leafy sweater vest started with a slightly lower neck line—So I knew I wanted a deep (but wide) collar. I worked away, 4 inches, 5 inches, and more, but I wasn't happy with the back of the collar...

Then I realized what was wrong! I started with a curved edge from the short row shaping in the back neck—and a straight collar was never going to fold to cover a curved edge!

So a few short rows latter, a perfect fold, and collar just past 6 inches long. It was late, I was tired, and I just bound off the edge--I wanted the collar to be done! 

I had no sooner cut the yarn when I realized, the edge would look nicer if I had grafted the 1x 1 ribbing, instead of doing a standard bind off (in ribbing).  You might notice, too the change--the last inch of the ribbing I went back to the size 8 needles.. I wanted the edge to be more stretched out and looser ribbing. That helped too, with the fold and fit.  

Well I am not going to frog and and redo—This week is going to be another mild one weather wise—but February is almost here.. and I'll need some warm layers to wear and I want to finish this up.

I still am thinking about the sleeves. Do I just finish them off as cap sleeves? Or add a bit and make short sleeves. I think the latter.

Saturday, after picking up my car, I was unsuccessful in my hunt for matching hooks and eyes—and didn't even have the option of another style—the selection of hooks and eyes was slim to non-existent.

But the good news? Another pound shed! I weight myself daily (I know, I know, obsessive!) and I don't count a pound gone till its gone for 3 days running.. (there is another half pound in the running.. It's on day 2!) So the count is 25 pounds (since October) about 6 pounds a month—or about a pound/pound and half a week. Faster at the beginning, slower now and I am sure slower still in the coming weeks, but slow is OK. So long as I continue to make progress in the right direction!

It's sometimes annoying that more people haven't noticed the change--(I have lost a lot of weight!) but realize its a childish need for praise—and I am working to get over it. I suppose, bundled up in sweaters and jackets, it's hard to see that there is less of me. Won't they be surprised when the spring time comes--and even more surprised in the summer.  

Saturday, January 28, 2012

3 More Inches of Knitting Done


(big deal)
200+ Stitches of hem grafted. BIG DEAL!

 And now the body is done—well done, but not finished. The hem and front band clearly need a bit of blocking before they are going to look and behave as they should. The front band (a scant 4 stitches) was fine, and enough on the yoke—working with a stable stitch like the garter background—but I really should have made it wider –at least 2 stitches wider (upped  to a total of 6) or even doubled the width(8 stitches) for the endless stocking knit that is the body.

And while blocking will help, as will the simple weight of the metal hooks and eyes, the front band is really too narrow. Be that as it may, I am loving my leafy sweater vest!

My stocking knit is pretty good—No major rowing out, or other defects, but it too, will be improved by some blocking.

Next up, the collar. The provisional cast on has been unzipped, and the neck line is now on needles, ready to be worked on. (but I haven't knit a row yet!)

I have a full skein, and a little bit left of the partial skein I used to work the last few inches of the body— Which will be plenty for a nice deep collar—even with working the collar on a smaller needle (size 7/4.5) and in ribbing. After that, there are still 2 more full skeins—to add as much (or as little) of a sleeve as I want.

Done, I will have 1) used up some of my humongous stash, and 2) added a much needed bit of warmth to my wardrobe!

In a little while, I am off to pick up my car—A new starter motor (that was the culprit) and fresh oil, and a working signal—and it's ready to go! (Well, that is, if I fork over $400, youch!) While I am out, I'll look for the leafy hooks and eyes, and who knows, maybe I'll get lucky.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Some Times, Life Interferes...


Sometimes?! Always!

My plans for yesterdays were simple—a quick trip to the grocery store to pick up some yogurt, and a few other things (like some frozen vegetable) , and then on the way home, a stop a the green grocer, to stock up on salad and soup greens. Once home , put the groceries away, cooking some (a quick vegetable soup), and in the evening, some knitting.

Mission accomplish—Except for the part about getting home after the shopping. My car died. Something shorted or failed between the ignition key and starter motor. Turning the key got me the radio and other electrical stuff (battery is new, and fine) and a clicking noise (some sort of switch or solenoid) but no crank of the starter.

So yesterday's quick trip to the market took all day (what with waiting for the tow, getting to my garage (by that time the tow truck came, rush hour –which really is rush HOURS—had already started) and getting home again. The weather was mild—but it was raining all day, and the roads were slick—heavy traffic was made slower by a few minor accidents along the way.

All in all, it was nothing physical really –well actually getting into the tow truck (a million feet up) up was. The truck didn't have a handy step up, and there wasn't even the 6 inches the curb would normally provide—so was a bit of struggle--(and solved inelegantly by climbing up on my knees!) but the stress of the whole thing left me exhausted. I got the groceries put away, but no soup got cooked (I ate canned soup and big salad for dinner) and no knitting got done.

I had planned –in the back of my mind—a trip to the garage planned some time SOON. One of my signal light just failed this week (the FRONT drivers side—but the side (front) and side(rear) and rear all worked, and I needed an oil change, so getting to the garage was a must do, but not a must do NOW. But not being able to start--(and being parked in a space that was legal for the moment—but not for long term (alternate side of the street parking regulations would have kicked in at 8 AM today) was a do NOW situation.

So the only thing that got done on the Leafy Sweater/Vest was I unearthed a few sets of hooks and eyes. I found one set of 7— and another set of 5. I like the set of 5 (a sort of leaf motif) better—both for the style, and the size--and I'll look and see if the style is still available--(and just buy 2 more). 

 But if I don't have success, I'll use the simple ones. I as counted, I remembered my cherry red acrylic vest-- on which I had used the leaf motif hooks—had a V neck –and needed few hooks and eyes than this slightly lowered neck vest will.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Another Skein, Done and Gone


But just... Only a single row has been knit with the next skein.  Another 2 inches added to the body—and that's about it.

I just got busy yesterday –(It was a beautiful day and I got to walking) and knitting just wasn't my number 1 priority.

Still—I've made some progress in the week I have been knitting—and it is just a week since I started this sweater vest-- And while progress has slowed, I am still making progress.

I am now I am close enough to finishing the body of the sweater vest, that I want to finish it—so I can try it on--with out worrying about dropping a stitch—and to really see how it fits-- and to start on the collar –the next big piece to knit. Since my plan was always for a vest— if I do add sleeves, they won't be full length ones—Even if it ends up that I have enough yarn. So it won't be long till it is finished!

But—I know me—My tension starts to slip when I get tired—and while I don't Row out- for a whole row—I do find loose bunches of stitches here and there. So last night when I was tired, what I did, instead of knitting, was to weave in a bunch of ends. So now every loose end (except the provisional cast on ends) has been woven in. I love getting the ends woven in as I go!

Latter today, I will go look for the hook and eye closures—I have a couple of different ones—but I don't remember how many sets of any one design. Like many who collect buttons, I also collect and re-use fancy hooks and eyes.

I think I want a full closure –not just a few at the top of the sweater vest—but all the way down the front. AND I think I have at least one set of 6—recycled from a bright cherry pink sweater vest –an acrylic one—that suffered a mishap in the dryer.

If I don't—I might need to go shopping—Not today... but soon!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

More Than Half, but Not A Whole Skein


Worth of knitting.  I was busy yesterday, and other activities limited my knitting time... But over 3 more inches have been added to the leafy sweater vest.  I did enough knitting, that you can see the difference--

Now the length of the vest (center back) is 16.75, --at the under arm, 8.25 inches. I also added the slightest of waist shaping (just 4 decrease on each side). It's hardly noticeable—but its something.
(I have thought about more waist shaping, or even a casing (for a drawstring) or just some eyelets to weave a drawstring so I could cinch the waist (I am smaller than I was last year, but by next year I hope to be smaller still.. and I want to be able to wear this vest then, too!)

I might add a casing later (as a finishing touch)--or maybe I'll think of something else..

I have the live arm hole stitches on circular needles (as stitch holders) and this allows me to actually try on the vest as I go—and I get a good feel for how the vest fits—but for a casing, I would want to have the sweater finished.. (and get the casing in just the right place!)

At this point, its just about waist length--which makes perfect sense--My neck to waist measurement is 18 inches, and this sweater vest started with a slightly lower neck line--so almost 17 inches at the center back is "right".   In a few more rows, I will restore the 8 stitches I decreased (and maybe even 4 more!) to flare the hem of the sweater out.

While I have decided I want ribbing for the collar, I am pretty sure I don't want ribbing for the lower edge—I think a hem is the way to go . This is a PITA way to finish off over 200 stitches, because I like to graft the hem to the knitting for a smooth seam—but I think it will be worth the work.

I haven't touched the sock at all.. Likely these January socks will be a bit late—just as December's socks were late—On the other hand, I have knit 1 secret pair of socks already this month—so its not as if I am being a total slacker!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

1 Skein Equals:


 158 yards--or almost 5 inches of knitting.
I started yesterday a few rows into the 3rd skein of wool, I ended last night half a row into the new skein.

Measured from the cast on stitches at the under arm, I am 1 row short of having 5 inches. I actually started the skein a little bit before that row, but not so much more that it counts for much.

This marks skein 3 on this vest--(of 7. 75 skeins that were in my stash).. Right now, measured from the slightly lowered neck line, the center back length is 13.75 inches (let's say 14 inches!)

If I were to try and model it on Missy the dress form—well, her neck to back length is a just 13 inches—and it would look done. But my neck to back length is 18! (I am very long waisted!)--Still 14 inches (using 3 skeins) is good progress—and it certainly means I'll have enough yarn—Plus it's far enough along that I won't find my energy or enthusiasm for knitting it fading—1 more skein (the one in play now) will add another 5 inches--(18 inches!) With another half skein, the vest will be nice comfortable top of the hip length. Even if my pace slows (and it will) that just 2 days worth of knitting.

The remaining half skein, and the partial skein will be enough yarn to make a generous collar--(the stitch count at the neck line is half the stitch count in the body) -1 full skein would yield almost 10 inches—or really, little less, since I think the collar is going to be ribbed, and ribbing eat up yarn at a faster rate than stocking knit. The ribbing will bring the neck snugger (but not too snug) as it add length to the sweater vest as well --which is why I think I will need at least a 10 inch collar (enough to go up, fold over and come back down!)

After the body and collar, I will still have 2 more skeins of yarn! More than enough to add sleeves-maybe not long sleeves—but then I don't much like long sleeves anyway!

It's mild today, --and the forecast is for continued mild weather—but February is usually the coldest month in NYC winters—and at this rate, when the next cold snap arrives (next month is just next week!), I'll have another warm sweater/sweater vest to wrap myself in to keep warm!

Given that I added 4.5 inches in length to my vest—it's should be very clear that no progress at all has been made on the socks!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Separated, and Together Again.


The yoke was finished before it was long enough. So a dozen rows were added to front right, then center back, and finally front left. Then a few stitches cast on for under the arms, and now a few rows of the body have been knit. I'll finish the armhole edges when I finish the sleeves which are for now, just a cap sleeve (and each is on a spare circ as a stitch holder) I wanted to be able to try on, and check the fit.. (its perfect!) 

On Missy (the dress form) the yoke ends at the top of the bust, and the stocking knit look like it's below—On me, the neck is higher—and the yoke ends well before the top of the bust—I am just about at the top of the bust now with a few inches of stocking knit.

It's on its way to being something. This is now the long slog.. rows and rows of stocking knit.

I started with skein 3 in the last row of the last segment (front left)--so I will by the end of this skein have a good idea of how long I can make the vest—And I found another partial skein--It's a different dye lot, but under the ott light, (and other light) it's a very good match—It could easily be used (with just a bit of weaving 2 skeins) on the hem, or collar, and would be unnoticeable.

Nothing more has been done on the socks—I was out all day Sunday at a family gathering—and came home to tired to do anything—ramen noodle for supper (with a few extra veggies thrown in) because I was to tired to even really eat—let along cook. I had planned to heat up some rice and packaged mixed curried vegetables—but that was to much effort!

Today I need to clean out the fridge (of left overs that, I know, I am just not going to eat) and stock up on some fresh veggies—I am down to half a fresh pepper, no lettuce, and no broccoli—Until I shop, cole slaw is only salad option--(I like cole slaw, but its a bit gassy!--this from a person who regularly dines on both onions and broccoli!)--I am not so low on veggies that I am out of onions or carrots- and I have some (low there too) frozen vegetables—but that's another place to stock up.

Last week I had a mishap at the grocery store-(lost my keys!) and ended up not shopping—yesterday, was out at the party—also no shopping... So while I have lots of food (meats, soups, rice & other grains) —fresh healthy fruits and veggies (and frozen ones) are in a short supply.

Todays forecast is for rain all day—so maybe tomorrow I'll hike over to the REALLY BIG vegetable store and cart home a collection—Kill two birds with one stone—get a bit of exercise and shop at the same time!(I have, easily, a half dozen competing green grocers in a 5 block radius—the closest is one of the smaller (and while only pennies difference, one of the more expensive ones) The furthest is the biggest—a 40 X 100 space (that spills out onto the sidewalk) with a huge selection of vegetables.)

Weight was stalled for days, (even backslide a pound) but now am heading downward again. The loss of the last pound (to make a round 25!) is elusive--and I know its only going to get harder as time goes by.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Yesterday—No Connections.


 Plenty of time, even plenty of space (a nice (if too high) desk, a comfortable chair), light and an outlet—the promise of an internet connection—but with out the drivers and permission—no connection!

I wrote a post—but in re-reading it.. I scrapped it.

So... starting again. I knit—LOOK—Black and White cookie socks have 5 inches of the leg knit! That's real visible progress from when last seen.  If I had continued knitting an inch or so a day, the leg portion of the sock would be complete by now.  The knitting is pinned because, d'oh, stocking knit curls.  Once the back seam gets sewn up, that won't be a problem.

And Leafy Vest? It, too, is coming along. Now there are 2 tiers of leaves—And soon I will put some stitches aside for the sleeves--(will there be sleeves.. Yes, I think so, even if just short ones) and will soon start on the body of the vest. (Remember, my dressmakers form is a size small (about a jr's size 3—and I am not! The yoke looks near done on form—but....)  The stitch count has more than doubled at this point--and there are still more increases to be made!

Thursday, Just a Though asked if there was a pattern, or if I was making it up as I go..
the answers is YES— and NO.

The basic (underlying) pattern is a top down, seamless raglan style. There are hundreds of free patterns for this type sweater, (and sites that will generate free patterns to size).

To this basic design/pattern I made some changes:
1-- a provisional cast on (the neck will be finished last, and will be (hopefully) a nice deep collar.
2—Instead of 8 neatly lined up increases (that create the strong lines of a raglan style sweater) I am increasing 16 times every 4th round, and NOT consistently lining them up, (so they are not creating strong visible lines) for a rounder shape to the top of the sweater.
3—I plopped in a raised leaf pattern--(8 of them! Twice!) the leaf motifs have increases and decreases—but these increases and decreases are independent of the ones for shaping. I could have plopped in another pattern—but I like this one! (Leaf motifs are ones I come back to, time and time again!)
4—There is front band—but the vest will have hook and eyes for closures, not buttons. So A, the band is narrow, and B, I don't have to figure out buttonholes—Which makes designing a bit easier!

So YES, the pattern is made up as I go... but NO, its not amazing—I am working with a known formula, and just adding some bells and whistles.

After the yoke of the sweater is complete, I will change from garter (which is especially effective for making the raised leaf motif “POP”) and work the body of the sweater/vest in stocking knit.

Garter works effectively in the yoke—but I think a smooth body is more attractive—and besides, stocking knit is LONGER (in effect) than garter, so getting a long body (which I want) will be faster to knit in stocking knit.

I haven't decided yet on bottom edge—It might be ribbing, or it might be hemmed.
It really depends on how well the yardage goes. I am on my second skein—and feeling more confident I have enough wool—but it's still early days!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Starteitis




I have it! No sooner did I write that I needed warm woolly vest and sweaters, than I was struck.

Off to the stash—and on to the needles went this. The first few rounds of short sleeved vest –or maybe not—I might have enough yarn for ½ sleeves or maybe even ¾ sleeves--or I might not even have enough for a simple vest! (The yarn is Lion Brand Wool—the skeins are only 158 yards)

It might not look like it—since I didn't use contrasting yarn, but it has a provisional cast on--before I knit any sleeves, I want a nice deep collar. I have 7 skeins of this wool—and I think that is more than enough—but I get anxious-- better to start with a provisional cast on, knit the body, and then the collar, and then add what ever is left to the sleeves.

It's a top down (D'OH!) simple thing—not a raglan—but almost the same math—I am doing 16 increases every 4th round, (vs 8 every other round) and then just adding the raised leaves for interest.

There are going to be a second set of leaves to follow, (between the already knit leaves) to make the yoke interesting to look at and to knit. Of course the leaves are a problem—One issue I have with top down sweaters is, every row gets longer and longer. The leaves exacerbates this—they are raised (and not flat) because of 2 factors:
1—they leaves are stocking knit (not garter like the background) and are longer than the back ground knitting.

2—the leaves have a bunch of increase in the beginning (the lacy YO) that put extra stitches into the work. The second half of the leaf, with the decreases, actually changes (decreases) the over all stitch count for a row or two. But by then, by the last row of the leaf, the other increases have made the over all yoke bigger—so no matter—there are always more stitches per row!

Should I feel like I am running out of yarn—I can always add some stripes or a change of color for the lower edge —grey is a nice neutral—almost any color will go with it. And I have a number of colors of this wool (including several white skeins that could become any color I want!) Since the collar is yet to come, stripes—or even a single contrasting color could be added at the hem, and again at the collar-to make it look like I planned it that way—which, in a way, I have!

I could go with yellow (I don't think so)--I do  have some grey and yellow socks, and some green and yellow clothing.
I could go with a deep cherry pink (I like the idea better, but I don't really have any deep cherry pink clothing) –though I do have grey and pink socks.
I could go with a blue—I have lots of blue clothing—but—Boring! Still blue might be the most functional color to add.
I even have a nice dark green-- Well I don't have decide now!

Tomorrow is a busy day (I will be out most of the day) but I might have down time—I could end up posting—or I could end up being too busy. I am bringing my antique lap top with me, and my camera-and I'll see how things develop.  For sure I have time for knitting--so by the next post there should be more of the vest--and maybe even more of the Black & Whites socks.

Now—it's back to laundry (I missed getting it done last week when I had my cold) and its down to the basement—and drudgery! (by the time I was ready to post this, the laundry done (ie, washed and dried) but it still needs to be put away!)



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Sunday 1, Monday 2, Tuesday 3


And today I am working on completing inch 4 (and maybe 5) of the Black & White cookie socks.
(no photo--they have come to the point of needing the yarns to be untangled) 

And I am itching to knit something besides socks! Decembers socks took forever, and 2 pairs of secrets socks have also been knit, and now Black & Whites—That's nothing but socks—for a long time!

And there are more socks on my mind—and scarves, and sweaters. I have become,  some how, an old lady—that is, I am always cold, and always looking to warm up! My hand and fingers are cold, and endless cups of coffee (de-caf) serve as hand-warmer as much as beverage.  But normal woolen socks often aren't quite warm enough to keep my toes cozy. I am thinking of a pair of “Toe Ovens”--as Yarn Harlot calls them—simple socks knit from alpaca—a pain to hand wash—but much warmer than basic wool socks.

And my small selection of sweaters are getting a work out these days, too. I need, suddenly,  to knit some more sweaters and vest, and little capelets to keep my neck and shoulders warm. I am wearing one now-(I KNOW I blogged about—but some how failed to add to Ravelry!--) It's surprising how a little collar round my neck can make all of me feel so much warmer! It's not even wool --but silk and bamboo. 

Goodness knows—I have enough small odd balls of yarn to knit a dozen little collars like this, and skeins and skeins of yarn to knit little (or medium, or even large!) shawls. And plenty of yarn for sweaters—or if not enough for a sweater, easily enough for a vest, (or 2 or 3 or a dozen!)

My collection of hats it getting a work out, too—This winter has been relatively mild—but I find myself wearing a hat of some sort even on mild days. And while it has been mild—there have been a few cold snaps that have me hauling out every bit of woolens that I own---suddenly the idea of a thin woolen camisole, that cover me from shoulder to below the hips seems like a good idea! I think I'll wait till I have lost more weight (I am once again stuck--and while  I haven't re-gained any weight-I am not showing any loss either) before I take on a such a large garment in a fine gauge (and expensive soft wool) 

I need to knit more and document more (and spend less time goofing around on the computer) –Winter will be over soon—I and know I will have no interest in knitting a heavy wool sweater in the warmer months (and will rue that again next winter!)

OH, to be young again—when I never felt the cold!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

I Am The World Worst


When it comes to selecting sock yarn. Half the time, I end up with colors I love, (but match almost nothing in my wardrobe)--the other half of the time, I buy sock yarn on sale, in colors that don't really send me.  Then I don't notice till the socks are knit—how well they match this, and that, and so many things I own.

Take the secret sock(just finished) I didn't realize till they were done, that the yarn is a perfect match for a print skirt that I own. Really, if I had the yarn custom dyed to match, it couldn't have been a better match.
Now I am thinking about knitting a second version of the secret socks design, in a different yarn, and adding these socks to my personal stock pile!


I should look and see if there is more of this yarn available--(There is–in the Smiley's on line store-at twice the price) ... A small scarf would be just the thing—paired with a solid top, it would be gorgeous—except the skirt is getting loose, and do I want to alter it? (And do I want to plan to knit yet another scarf?!) Savvy shoppers might know that Filatura Lanarota is a name Plymouth Yarns uses discounted yarns--(Fashion Toes= Happy Feet)--even the color numbers are the same--the secret socks are color 11.

I bought the yarn, well, to have some variety—not because I particularly liked the colors ( I thought they were OK, but nothing special) AND because the price was right. When I bought it, (at a Smiley's super sale some years ago), both skeins were $4 (a price based on a must buy 10 skeins—for $20)
Given that I had to buy 10 skeins, it made sense to buy 2 of each color—whether or not I really liked the colors. (I actually bought more—and shared some skeins purchased with a friend, so I ended up with some extras--3 skeins of color 10 became my Leafy Vine scarf)-Plus I still have 2 more skeins for a pair of socks someday. 

It happens all the time—I find (and buy) beautiful sock yarn—in PINK (I have so much pink sock yarn from bright pinks to soft pastels, in solids and in prints) and virtually no pink clothing. In CORAL ( I LOVE coral!) Too bad what little clothing I have in that color is summer wear and rarely wear socks in the summer.

I have –already—a pair of orange socks—a good six year old and never worn yet.. I have NOTHING in orange to wear with them. But somehow, in addition to the already knit socks, I also have 3 full skeins of orange sock yarn in my stash—OK--so one skein was remaindered, and only $0.50--(and I couldn't pass it up!) but really, more orange?

I have several pairs of sock that have some orange in them, too--Like the ROY G BIV socks, or my Mast Socks, or (the list is long! just look at my sock collection on Ravelry!) —So should I ever buy anything orange, I do have socks to match. Not to mention, I have skeins of both the Toffee and Taffy color ways of Sock Ease, both of which have some orange highlights.

I am going to have to re-think some of my choices for socks for the coming year. I like having sock that match my clothes—And I already have lots of wild and crazy socks in beautiful colors--but I hardly ever wear them! Even now, while I am excited about my black eyed suzy socks, I have to admit, if it weren't for the green—the sock would match nothing!

OK, so this years sock plans included a pair of leafy lace socks in Lion Brand Sock Ease—color green apple—a color I am not really enamored with. It's more a dark olive than a apple green--but green? My wardrobe is full of greens; both  muted  and  multi color greens prints outfits that will go with this yarn. Why do I like green for clothing and think it ho-hum for socks?

I also have a lot of blue socks—but not nearly enough to match all the denim that I own—I have blue and denim fabric too, so my new wardrobe will have a lot of blue too, (some green, too, now that I think about it)  I have a some blue yarns, too, but some how, it never catches my fancy—Not the way other colors do.

The just emptied sock kit bag (that held the secret socks) is going to be stuffed with this yarn. I haven't planned what sort of socks I will knit with this yarn (Reynold's Swizzle/discontinued) but at least I know, cobalt blue will end up being useful socks that go with clothes I own and wear!

Come to think of it.. I have two more skeins of Swizzle—one in a neutral light grey, and one in a functional forest green... guess I don't always buy the wrong color sock yarn.

Oh, yeah, the Black & White cookie socks? Well they are now 2 inches along (vs yesterday's 1 inch) Not so much different...I photograph them again in a day or two, when the progress is more dramatic.



Monday, January 16, 2012

7 Days Later,





Like a proper cold, it's all gone. No more sneezing, headaches, muscle aches or fever. Slept through the night with no medication.

And, as I began to feel better on Saturday—I started my January socks—Black & White cookies.
I still haven't finished the secret socks (they are sans toes) but I can work on both at once.

Here in NYC Black & White cookiesare, well , The bakery treat. They are large (6 to 7 inches across) cake-like cookies, with very dark chocolate and vanilla fondant frosting. One recipe I have for making them calls for a box of vanilla (yellow) cake mix—made by reducing the water by half (if the mix calls for 1.1/3 cups of water, add 2/3 of cup, instead) and all the other called for ingredients. The stiff dough is baked by they half cupful, on greased sheet, cooled and the flat side frosted.

But I have never found a recipe for the frosting that is like the bakery ones. I am not, (never have been) a big fan of Black & White cookies. But that hasn't stopped me from eating many of them over the years!

So, the socks—Black and White—and because they are intarsia –the simplest possible intarisa—(straight line!) I am knitting them flat to begin with—it's just easier that way.

And because they are socks, not cookies, I am taking the liberty of making a fancy zig-zag seam—a simple set of twisted stitches—rather than the perfectly straight line of the cookies. They are hard to photograph—the Boyle needle just doesn't want to be pulled straight. They are mirror image, too, which make it a bit easier to knit.

I started with a long tail cast on—and 2 extra stitches (for the seam) and worked a few rows of stocking knit and reverse stocking knit for cuff. And now I am knitting away (gleefully twisting the yarns and stopping to undo them (twice already) every so often.

The intarsia will be center front, the seam, center back. The black and white motif will continue to the heel and then the foot will be a solid black. There will be lots of left over white yarn--(I am working with 2 50g skeins)When done, the remaining white will likely be dyed and re-purposed. I have 1 full and several partial balls of the black—enough. (Too much!) I really dislike working with the black yarn—Kroy make a very deep, dark black—In French they call it carbon –and coal black it is!

Working flat, I have to take care with the purl rows—If I let myself get careless, I can row out. Not a problem yet—but I know myself and my knitting.

It's been a long time since I've knit a sock with a flat knit top—the change up to construction is fun.

Friday, January 13, 2012

More Secret Knitting


Sock, always socks. It's going to be difficult to knit 12 pairs of socks and not say anything about them.

At least I can mention—there has been no visible knitting on this blog because all the knitting that is going on (not that there has been much) is secret. I'll be finished soon, and then publicly knititng January's socks—and will have something to share—but I haven't decided which of my 7 little bags of sock kits in January's!

I have decided, IT IS NOT Black Eyed Suzy's—but just about everything thing else is up in the air.

I am leaning toward black and white cookie socks—Its #1 on my list of ideas, and its not too complicated, (and black and white are good practical colors that go with clothes currently, and planned for my wardrobe) –so they might just be the ones.

But at some point I have to stop knitting, and start sewing (tomorrow? Saturday is supposed to be for sewing) since I am, still shrinking. Another 3 pounds less of me. I am not losing the weight as fast as I did 2 months ago; I know its pretty normal to slow down. But so long as I keep steady, and lose slowly I am OK.

I am going to have to get with it, and get involved in some sort of more aggressive exercise program, too. Exercise builds muscle (and often make it harder to loose) but it also works to tighten up the skin, and I am getting lots of loose flabby skin—that I need to get rid of.

I am just about over the cold (just in time, the weather has turned to real winter—with cold winds) all that remains is a headache.   

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Not Knitting?


Well then fill the dye pot!

Which is exactly what I did. The result is a nice semi solid green for the Black Eyed Suzy socks.
This skein will be balled up today-- and maybe while I am sitting there, a few other skeins will find them selves on the swift and be balled up too. That's not knitting either, but it is still fiber related.

I have absolutely no plans to start the Black Eyed Suzy socks now—I think my next pair of socks are going to be something simple and straight forward—maybe a simple self striping yarn—that will be an easy and fun to do sock. A perfectly boring sock--December socks were different enough to make boring socks something to look forward to.

But I have been planning the Black Eyed Suzy socks... A multicolor ruffled edge, plain ribbing, then several bands of floral patters, The heel will be turned, with the gussets on the sole of the foot, and the sole instep will be a leaf pattern--the sole itself, a simple seeding pattern.

I've found patterns, and have been graphing them on graph paper index cards—so when the time comes, everything is all ready to go!

And my empty sock bag? It's been filled—a blue/teal self striping yarn, and coordinating green for the Dragon fractal—My first thoughts had been black socks with red designs—but..black is so horrid to knit with—and then when I read there are further refinements of the Asian zodiac, and there are years of Water dragons, (vs earth or air) I was set. Blue is much more practical color, and so much easier to knit with.

I am feeling a bit better—no doubt because last night I ran a very small errand for a friend (I hopped in my car, bought a single item, delivered it, and returned my car to the garage) –hardly an effort—but it left me tired enough to sleep 9 hours straight! (OK old lady like, I did get up once in the middle of the night, but I went right back to sleep!)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A Lull in Knitting




I finished up Decembers socks—all the ends (not many but a few) have been woven in, and then promptly caught a cold.

It's just a head cold, not serious. I feel tired more than sick—I am stuffy, and congested, and persist in thinking its nothing—and go about my normal day—and then Zonk—as soon as I sit down, I am out cold for few hours! I don't really feel that sick—but I have no stamina and no energy.

I feel a bit better today –because I took the night time cold remedy that promises a good nights sleep—It's a take one dose every 6 hours, but once asleep, I sleep through for a good 8 hours. Now up and about, I for a few hours, I am ready for a nap! I am stuffed up, but don't really feel that sick, just tired.

I try to avoid medications—so I won't bother with day time relief capsules—and will muddle through napping and drinking fluids, and being a bit lazy till I feel better.

I am thinking about socks—and now that Decembers socks are done, I have another little clear plastic case to fill with a sock kit... Which one?

Problem is—sock ideas don't live in a vacuum—they need to be paired with sock yarns.

Take the idea of another pair of puffysocks –The first time round, Red, white, and shade of grey going to black. I like the look, I like the results, and I think it would be good to do another pair.

Blue—then? The same white, and shades of grey going to black? Or blue and white and shade of blue fading to navy? I have a nice bright blue, I have white, and I have navy. What I don't have is three shade of intermediate blue, (sky, medium, and dark, but lighter than navy)

Or how about bright yellow, then white, then shade of brown? No way, I don't have shades of brown.

OK then, bright yellow, then white, then marigold yellow, and then deeper yellow orange, then rusty orange, then brown. I think I could manage those colors.. but do I have a need for socks in these colors?

I have a huge stash of self patterning (stripes and mock stranded color work) –and a semi huge stash or semi solids--(mostly solid with intermittent colors) and I love these yarns for basic generic socks.

But I often want to knit more exciting socks—and multi color socks yarns are best suited to simpler socks--Where as complex socks are better in simpler yarns—Not necessarily solid, but not to busy a yarn—I don't like when the yarn and stitch pattern compete.

And then there are socks I want to design, knit and document for a book on socks—What yarns for these socks? What designs? When to knit them?

I end up playing with my stash—thinking about what to do (and doing nothing)

Well, I should be feeling better in a few days...maybe I will be thinking clearer and have some idea of what to do next.


Sunday, January 08, 2012

Finally—They are Socks!

Saturday is supposed to be for sewing (and I do need to get some done—I've stalled again on the scale, but things are shifting and clothes are looser than ever) but instead, a nice walk (it was spring-like out yesterday!) and some knitting.

The finished socks are the strangest looking things—they don't look like any sort of normal sock but they fit fine—better than fine. The fabric hugs the underside of my foot, and the back of my ankle. There is plenty of ease at the instep—with out any part of the sock being baggy—even though they look a bit baggy on LEGS.

This idea (and it's not my original idea—I know of at least 4 other patterns for socks that start at the heel) works. It has a totally different rhythm than toe up or top down socks. I learned a lot knitting this first pair. 

 When (and, really the fit so comfortable, it is a WHEN) I get around to knitting a sock like this again—there will be several improvements:
--More stitches to start (the heel is a bit pointy—not enough to be uncomfortable—but I don't like the look)
--More clearly marked quadrants—I used 2 stitches, 4 would be better—maybe even 6 for the instep (but not the center back and center sole)I think a strong line would improve the look and feel of the sock.
--The top of the instep will be grafted--(it gapes on these socks)
--The shaping will be more like the leg (starting a wedge immediately) rather than like the foot
--And the yarn will be a yummy semi-solid—some wonderful color that sings! These socks look there best when displayed and lit with the Ott (type) light—and I suppose will look good on bright sunny days (outdoors) but the rest of the time, they are too drab for my taste.

Today I am off to a wedding show case with my daughter—I am a very laid back mother of the bride—but she invited me—so all is good. My daughter has very strongly defined taste—but she also has an open mind—so it will be fun to see what catches her fancy—if anything!

Friday, January 06, 2012

More—But Not Yet Done


 The leg is inching upward—but still has a ways to go.

The top edge is still very biased—as can be seen on both LEGS and on the sock blocker

The image below and to the left shows the lop sided progress—The gauge is about parallel with the stitches before I started the leg portion of the sock—and as you see, about 1 inch of knitting has been added to the back of the leg—but almost 4 inches have been added to the center front of the sock!

What is less evident (the bias stitches hide it to some degree—is the stitch count went from 164 to 64—100 stitches decreased--in the same 4 inches. That is the work of a whole bunch of short rows!

I wish I could say I was out of sock yarn (or running out soon) and would just have to live with socks that were taller in back than in front—but I have lots of yarn left—and lots of knitting to do too.

I like the fit—I like how the bias fabric hugs my arch and the back of my heel, (yes, I know its loose and baggy looking on LEGS—but my feet and legs are bigger) and I even sort of like the V wedge in front—and I like how there is no pooling of colors--not anywhere! A pretty interesting thing—especial since the number of stitches in the wedge, or round are changing all the time.

Now they are almost finished—and that what I want most—to be done. Maybe tonight—I know I am going to try!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Plodding Away


Dreary. The saving grace is: the end is in sight! It's only an inch, an inch and half but its finally the home stretch. The socks look (and are) loose on LEGs, but they fit me fine (the back is still much taller than the front, but it rolls (as stocking knit does) making that less evident.

These socks have no symmetry, no grace. They are slightly less than a chore to knit.

Yesterday, Judy asked: would they have been better in some other yarn—a solid or perhaps a self stripe? 

 I think yes--Partly because I find this yarn so uninspiring. I think a solid would do nicely—I am not so sure about a stripe. Before breaking for the foot, I had over 320 stitches in a round (vs the more common 60 to 64—5 times as many stitches!)  Many self striping yarns  wouldn't stripe nicely with that number of stitches.. and the stripe would vary (I cast on 8, and worked up to 320!)--this random hand painted yarn is better choice. (even if I don't much like it!)

I don't know why I don't like it. It's behaved remarkably—It held up to knitting and frogging and knitting and frogging (2 previous starts at socks) and more knitting and frogging (while working this sock) and kept looking good. It's also failed to pool—even the short rows are noticeable lacking puddle blocks of color.

I even like the look of the color under the pure white light of my non--Ott brand light. I tend to keep the light by my photo station, and only rarely move it for knitting –but my main knitting seat also has a Ott type (but not Ott brand) white light. But I don't focus the light on my work, but instead use the light for general lighting. But the color, while nice, is not WOW!

So here they are again—Both socks (now positioned on the needles that allow for both socks to be displayed) with a wedge of short rows growing the center front of the sock faster than the center back.

I am still increasing in the center back (as I did on the center bottom of the sole) to keep the bias fabric, but I am working short rows in the wedge—every round! On the first pass I decrease (outside of wedge) and increase (center)--for zero gain/loss, then I work the wedge stitches again, and decrease the out side edge, but don't increase in the center—and created a 2 stitch decrease.

When I increase center back, (every 3rd round) I work a full round (no short rows) and work corresponding decreases on the center front wedge.

Its not as complicated as it sound—but there are all sort of minor adjustments going on—every round.
Including-- repositioning stitches from the back (where the stitch count increases) to the front, where the stitch count decreases. It takes a bit of finessing to do that when working socks 2 at time on 2 circ's!

And as I try them on (to confirm all is going well) I have to admit, I really like the fit of foot with all the bias fabric. Who knows, inspite of all my moaning and groaning about these socks, I might do another (improved!) somewhere down the line! There are lots of little things I'd do to improve the pattern--(and I'd want to document it at the same time!) 

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Finally—A foot


 Or rather 2, since both the socks have finished toes.--Though the way the unworked stitches are saved on the stitch holders make its impossible to show both socks at one time

And the socks are closer to being done. They look a bit weird on LEG—and a somewhat better on the sock blocker. (And better still on my foot! I actually like how the bias fabric hugs my foot.) 

I didn't get much knitting done last night—and none this morning. Instead I balled up the Skinny Bugga, and the green home spun, and then went on to ball up some sock yarns, and another 100 g. skein of some pretty coral/orange/yellow fingering weight yarn that I can't remember where it came from or what is was intended for!  (for a shawl? Another shawl/scarf?!)

Anything instead of working on these socks! I don't know why. I like the colors—individually—but the overall effect of this yarn is just so-so. I like the yarn—its lovely and soft...but it doesn't inspire me. I like knitting novelty designs—but this one just doesn't impress me. I usually enjoy knitting-I look forward to finishing a row, a round, a pattern element. But not with these socks.

I only went back to knitting them because I want them done. I have invested too much time already knitting them—I am not going to frog them back to nothing—I've done that twice already. I am not going to abandon them. But...

I am sure, once done, I will wear them. I don't hate them. I am just not enjoying making them.
It happens—I have half a dozen little bags of sock yarn sitting waiting for me.. and all of them make me happy. What can is say?  

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Knit. Frog.


(Repeat.)
I could have done it a third time, and gotten the solution perfect—but I just don't care enough! Frogging the work twice was 2 more times than I wanted!

The sole is over 6 inches long (and normally I would start toe shaping at 7—7.25 inches) and the instep is growing longer faster. The foot is taking shape--A normal foot shape—vs the lumpy messes the first few tries.

The stitch count is where it should be (64 stitches)--which is 4 more than I normal would use—but a bias fabric needs more ease. I am still increasing 2 times every third round, and now decreasing at the same rate—and in addition working shaping on the alternate rounds. The shaping is paired increase (center) with paired decreases, that create an ever widen V on the top of the sock.

This will (eventually) creating the same upward shaping on the instep as is found on the sole. There is the occasional short row, too, to help the instep along.

The toe shaping will be minimal—I am going to partially rely on the natural pointed shape that the increases provide to form a rounded toe tip.

As part and parcel of the frogging, the stitches were repositioned on the needles—that helps a good deal with final solution (but it was a royal PITA!)

Monday, January 02, 2012

Fibery Goodness


 That's what its all about, isn't it? Every knitter (or crocheter, or weaver, or fiber artist) is all about the fiber—We love to hold and cuddle it, we love to work with it, we love to wear it.

We might (I think we do!) have a higher need than the average person for certain tactile sensations. We were the picky kids, who had favorite clothes that had the right tactile sensations--(and sometime scratchy was what we wanted—and love certain clothes or blankets because they were just the right amount of scratchy). And now as adults, we love certain fibers.

Kimberly (aka Boss, even though she hasn't been for the better part of the year) is especially drawn to yarns for the tactile sensations. For her, smooth and silky is a must. (Me, I don't mind—even right next to my skin--some wools other define as scratchy. For me, color is as important as touch) Her stash is top heavy with Malabrigo, and one of her favorite yarns is Sanguine Gryphon's Skinny Bugga— 80/10/10—a blend of wool, cashmere and nylon. I can't fault her taste—it is a lovely soft yarn, bouncy and smooth, soft and strong.

For Christmas—She bought me some! A lovely little cone—I don't know how many yards—but a lot-- since its over 4(4.2) ounces of fingering weight—Somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 yards I am guessing. (A standard hank, (3.99 ounces=450 yards))

It came to me in a natural white—but today it was transformed into a peacock blue—a near solid. (My motto, if you can't make an effort to knit yarn, dye some!)  There were a few places the dye just didn't take up evenly—but no matter—it's just beautiful and a color that is sorely lacking in my stash of shawlette/scarf yarns.

While I was in a dying mood—I also dyed some skeins of hand spun. This yarn is closer to a worsted weight. I started with a dye labeled celedon (which to me is a green—a light green, a grey green--but green) that was, to my eye, much too turquoise, and way too dark. It was a lovely turquoise--but since I had just dyed a skein in peacock blue (and what is peacock blue but a shade of turquoise?) I wanted something different. I add a bit more green until I ended up with this—which also isn't celedon, but is a lovely green, (a slightly bluish green) –close to a Nile green I think—but never having seen the Nile, I could be wrong!

My collection of yarns for scarves and shawls is huge--(I have them bundled in a 3 gallon zip lock bag) –with a range of colors—reds and pinks, browns and blues and now turquoise and green. There is  another skein of natural white ( large 200g skein skein) of DK waiting to decide what color it wants to be—its whispering purple—and I might listen to it. But it's in a cake, and needs to be skeined before it can be dyed, so its going to have to be a bit more insistent before anything happens.

The peacock will be a lacy triangle-- of some sort. My daughter's wedding will be in October (which sounds like months from now, but will be here in a flash!) and her request for the mothers dresses is for jewel tones/peacock colors. I haven't even thought of looking for a dress yet—I am once again stuck –and not showing any weight lose, but that won't be for long— I have been making progress (and I know, over time, the progress will slow) The plan is for there to be a lot less of me (inspite of this drearyreport)—So dress shopping will be put off till the summer (if not later) But I can get to work on a small shawl. (even if I don't end up wearing it for the wedding. )

The green? Who knows--It's a lovely color, (and one that suits me)--but it's not a super soft snuggle up to yarn.  Still it might be soft enough for a scarf. (Only haven't I claimed that I am never going to knit another scarf?! Ha--who am I fooling!) 

But I can knit NOW.

Well that is, in theory I can knit. I'm in the doldrums and find it an effort--My December socks have 2 inches of instep knit, but they are far from being done. They just don't send me. Not the yarn, not the color, not the design.   It happens—good ideas that aren't good at all. Lovely yarn that-- just isn't right when taken in hand. I think a good deal of the knitting doldrums are because of these socks. I just don't care for them or about them (and this is the third time I tried to knit socks with this yarn!) 

January socks—when I get to them-- are going to be dead simple: practical, generic socks. With no expectations, they won't disappoint.