Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Stealth Sock

I can't believe I knit the whole thing. I never meant to. You see, I had been gifted with some sock yarn in one of my favorite brands – Brown Sheep Wildfoote. This yarn is not such a treat to knit with – splitty and rather rough -- but it undergoes an amazing transformation when washed, becoming deliciously soft and squooshy. So, since my major focus was on the two shawl projects (the Arctic Diamond Stole, which has been behaving extremely well of late, and the Swallowtail Shawl), I thought I would just dink around with some stitch patterns, find a good one for the Wildfoote, and get it onto the needles. For occasional TV knitting, you know.

And now we have . . .

I guess it was all the trying-on of patterns that did it. I started with the Artichoke pattern. But 64 stitches were too many, and this pattern has a 32-stitch repeat – not so flexible. Then I tried a variation by the same designer called Eagles Flight. Same general look, but only a 16-stitch repeat. And some opportunities to make adjustments. Unfortunately it didn't look good. Possibly Wildfoote, which doesn't have much twist, isn't springy enough for such a flowy sort of pattern.

Browsing through my collection of downloaded patterns I found Ann Budd's Broken Cable Rib Socks (available from Knitting Daily). The yarn loved it, and we were off. But there were issues with the cable twists, which pull in very, very tight. In the end I did seven of the 10 pattern rows on U.S. #1 needles, and the other three (the cable row and the rows before and after) on U.S. #2's. Lots of needle swapping goin' on.

With all that strategizing, the leg was done before I knew what had happened. And then I thought I'd knit on something simple while I watched the debates (you know what debates I mean, right?). By the time our two candidates had finished solving the world's problems, I had finished my sock. Hey, can you picture Obama and McCain knitting while they discuss the issues? Might lower the hostility level a trifle.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Notice Anything Different?

Why, yes, I am wearing new threads. Orange accents liven up the old gray tones, don'tcha think? It's only temporary, though. Those are my safety lines. You see, as my rows have become longer (I'm a triangular shawl, you know), my knitter has become more and more paranoid about mistakes. She puts in a safety line every ten rows. And when we get to the next section (the one with the n--ps), I bet she'll be doing it every other row. Novice lace knitters are such nervous types.

She has finally finished those Staggered Lace Socks, so now she can devote all her attention to me. The socks are okay; they were pleasant companions in the work basket. But, really -- can mere socks ever compare in beauty and elegance to a SHAWL?

I think the knitter is planning to buy me some new needles too. She's been mumbling about moving up to #8's for the edging. And I think I heard "full set" and "circs" and "Harmony" -- something like that.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Small Diversion

Not a whole lot of knitting progress has happened here in the past week or so. Some, but not a lot. I finally made it to the LAST REPEAT on the Artic Diamonds Stole (why, yes, I am rather excited about that), got a little further along on the Swallowtail Shawl, turned the heel on the second Staggered Lace Sock. Not much.

So what have I been doing instead of knitting? Spinning, perhaps? Nope.

It all began when this catalog arrived the mail. These folks sell DVD's and CD's of university-level courses which they claim are taught by "the best of the best" professors. I was intrigued. And I found a course on a cool topic that was taught by a professor from my undergraduate college, of which I have always had a high opinion. Of course, I had to order it.

Einstein's Relativity. Wow! My last physics course was in high school, back when dinosaurs roamed the earth. But I had no trouble understanding this stuff. I get the whole thing. We even dabbled in quantum physics and quarks. Howsomever, it was not possible to knit during the lectures. Took all my mental faculties to comprehend the material. No brainspace left for yarnovers and such.

Now, having focused on science, it was then only fair to give some time to . . .

Uh-huh. Religion. This course caught my fancy, because I couldn't believe one could have an entire course of 24 lectures on one single book of the Bible. An important book, granted – creation of the world and all that – but still, one book. Genesis is turning out to be fascinating. There are issues of translation it seems, since Hebrew is quite different from English. And there is historical/cultural context. And supporting evidence from archeological digs. Amazing. Still no knitting, though, since I am usually reading related texts as the lectures proceed.

And once I've finished Genesis (I'm about halfway through) next comes – writing skills. Perhaps this will improve the blog. We can hope. And perhaps I will be able to knit during this one. Something simple. Maybe the traveling sock would like to learn about sentence structure.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Naughty and Nice

The Arctic Diamonds Shawl has been behaving badly. I had to send it to the naughty shawl corner for a time out. Twice. No problems with the pattern (snore . . . ). It's when I'm doing the easy parts – a purl-back row or a short stretch of plain knitting – that it gets ideas. Bad ideas. First a yarnover popped off the needle, persuaded a K2tog to join it, and went rampaging downward. I caught the miscreants after five rows, but was unable to fix the section without a five-row tink and reknit. Then a knit stitch, alerted perhaps by the fate of the others, slipped sneakily off the needle. It wasn't until I reached the end of that 25-stitch segment and realized I had only 24 that I began to look for the missing stitch. And while I was carefully reviewing SSK's and YO's, that wayward stitch was creeping stealthily downward. Hah! Gotcha! I caught it four rows down. No trouble this time. A little zip, zip, zip with a crochet hook, and we were back in business. And back to the naughty shawl corner for another time out.

So, of course, I had to start another shawl. This is the bare beginning of the Swallowtail Shawl, my very first triangle. The cast-on directions seemed peculiar, but I followed them carefully, trusting that the designer (Evelyn Clark) knew her stuff, and it worked out fine. You do a provisional crochet cast-on of two stitches, garter them for six rows, then turn the piece sideways and pick up three stitches in the garter ridges, then unzip the crochet chain and pick up those two stitches (7 stitches total). It looks great and only takes five minutes. Perhaps all triangles are done this way. I'll find out after I've knit a few more.

In hopes of creating a shawl somewhat larger than the one in the pattern, I'm using Frog Tree Alpaca on U.S. #7 needles. The yarn label says "sportweight," but with 130 yards to 50 grams, I'd say it's something of a cross between sport and DK. It's quite hairy and fuzzy, not so bad as mohair, but it would definitely not be fun to tink.

So far the Swallowtail has been behaving nicely (unlike some other shawls I might mention). The Budding Lace pattern, which is the bulk of the shawl, is super easy and can even be (oh joy!) memorized. Progress was swift at first, but as the rows became longer, well . . . you know. I still give Arctic Diamonds some knitting time every day; it's coming along. Now that it has some competition, however, perhaps we will see an improvement in attitude.