Was this a good idea, or what?

Basketweave Scarf I did promise to give you still more eye candy after dumping my OMG!!HugeFinishedSweater photos here – so here we go. First, my next-to-last FO of the year, the Basketweave Scarf from Knitting Daily, completed with 2.5 skeins of yarn repurposed from my failed Lush turtleneck, seen so long ago. Was this a good idea, or what? So soft! So fun to knit! Such a shame I have only this one photo to show you – there are a few crappy cellphone pictures lurking here and there, but none can capture the lovely, soft reversible nature of this scarf, given to my cousin who had been asking for a scarf (and hat and mittens) as a NotChristmasGift because I didn’t have her name in the family draw but I cannot resist the genuine appreciation for handknits.

First Jaywalker FullIt also helped that my cousin had my name in the family draw, and she gifted me with not one but two colors of Garnstudio DROPS Fabel sock yarn – yay! As soon as I opened my gift I thought to myself: “I guess I’m making a pair of Jaywalkers.” And so it came to pass that I knitted one of the Interweb’s most venerable patterns with my very newest sock yarn, Fun, easy, and certainly the loudest socks I’ve made in a good while – which is just the way I like them, apparently.

Sadly, I’ve gotten in the habit of ravel-ing projects before blogging about them, because I’m fastidious about creating a Ravelry entry as close to the actual start date as possible (rule-follower much?). Anyhoo, I wanted to let you know that in the on-deck circle is a pair of Bells and Whistles socks from IK Holiday 2006 for my mom – lovely, but I’m still in the “shut up, I’m counting” lace knitting phase, so photos will have to wait until later this week when a full repeat is finished.

As for plans and resolutions, you might as well know that when I tallied up my stash after the Christmas frenzy was over, I was alarmed to discover that, instead of the 20,000 yard cap I was aiming for, I ended up with more than 25,000 yards of yarn stuffed in plastic bins (some of this is charming Lizzy, an FO that remains U). So, until I hit that 20,000 yard mark, no more yarn – even though it might take all year. What to knit? A lot more socks: I’d like to make six pairs in 2009, which means (say it with me) a sock a month – totally do-able! Punctuated Rib, Old Navy, Pot Pourri and Rivendell socks are in the queue, plus the Ribby Cardi, and the terrific Primordial Hat [rav link], which strikes me as a delicious companion to the Basketweave Scarf. That should get me close to 5000 yards down – and after all, my cousin did ask for a hat.

2008 isn’t the only thing that’s finished around here.

Cable and Rib, "finished" 1576 days ago, I thought it might be a good idea to knit my husband a sweater; tomorrow, I knit something for myself.

For the final time: This is the Cabled Rib Cardigan from Men in Knits by Tara Jon Manning. I used just over 8 skeins of Blackwater Abbey’s wooly Bluestack on size 4, 3 and 2 needles. Best thing about this project: It’s done, and it doesn’t suck – it fits pretty well for a sweater (only my second!) that took four years to knit. Biggest learning experience: Knit both sleeves at the same time, or you’ll need to employ creative seaming techniques to compensate for the fact that one is an inch and a half wider than the other. [Surprisingly, no tears were shed when I discovered this; I just looked it over and said “I think I can fix this without reknitting it” and then I did. – ed.]

I set a goal of knitting 14 things in 2008, and didn’t meet it (total FO count: 10), but I think I may have knit more stitches than in 2007. Best of all, this sweater, my white whale, is done – and the recipient and I are happy with it. Happy knitty new year to you and yours – stay tuned for news about another FO (accidental Christmas knitting), and my first project of 2009. Surprisingly enough for the new year, it’s a bigtime blast from the past. Knit on!

All this waiting is ridiculous.

I was recently tagged for the perennial “7 random things about you” meme by the lovely Kat; I soon realized that if I didn’t get off my butt and post, my 7 things would be FOs, such is the knitting production in these parts. So, off we go. [For those who can’t get enough lists, I give you ten knitterly things you don’t know about me – ed].

Sunset Fancy Socks Complete 1. My 60 GB iPod is almost full. I love music, all kinds – even bluegrass (which took some getting used to), and my dream job might be “producer who picks incidental music for Marketplace. They have excellent taste, and I consider it a point of pride that I have found and liked songs that have later appeared on Marketplace. Looking for good stuff? Try KCRW’s Today’s Top Tune. This item brought to you by Nancy Bush’s Gentleman’s Fancy socks in Trekking 108, completed in October for me and perhaps my favorite pair of socks yet.

2. My favorite word is “intransigent,” because I am, occasionally. Particularly with people who say making their own pie crust is too hard. Just try it! It’s better. I also have a favorite punctuation mark, the semicolon, because I’m nerdy like that.

3. In my stashbusting quest, I am completely taken with the idea of finished knitted objects giving you the opportunity to shop for yarn guilt-free, and have decided that henceforth two FOs will earn me the equivalent yarn for a future project. Gloria Cowl, finished This Gloria Cowl was made out of the last 2/3 of a skein of Mountain Colors Bearfoot which had been hanging out forever, and is now the newest knitted item for my loyal husband, willing to walk the dog on cold mornings because I provide a steady stream of handknits. [Yarn purchased as a result of these two FOs? Lamb’s Pride Shepherd’s Shades for the Bird in Hand Mittens. – ed.]

4. I always say that my favorite holiday is the start of Daylight Savings Time because we get an extra hour of sleep, but my real favorite holiday is Thanksgiving; all of the food and festivity and none of the stress of holiday shopping.

5. A few years ago, my husband and I were bored with cooking the same ten things over and over, so we decided to see how long we could go making something different for dinner every night. Turns out, the answer is “more than a year, even when you’re remodeling your kitchen.” We like Recipezaar because you can plug in ingredients (if you don’t feel like Googlecooking. The biggest thing we learned? If you plan and shop for a week’s worth of meals at a time, you save money and you’re a lot less likely to bail at the last minute and eat out because you have tasty choices at home.

6. I have at various times considered graduate school in social work, hospitality management, law, business, and library science. The itch for hospitality management lasted about 29 minutes; library school still seems cool to me.

7. I’d love to live outside the United States for an extended period of time, even six months. Paris, anyone?

In the non-random department, I am steaming ahead on the last sleeve of Cable and Rib, thanks to the company of Friday Night Lights on Netflix. I estimate that I’m about 86 percent done – when I reach buttonband territory, you’ll be the first to know.

I may be a square after all.

Greensburg Afghan Detail 1 Much to my surprise, my return home from the road trip to end all road trips marked the beginning of what could only be called a finishing frenzy. At the frenzy’s center? An afghan for the Rebuilding Greensburg Block by Block project that I had hoped to have seamed up months ago.

I had high hopes that after I completed this sweater, I’d whip through the afghan like butter and finish by the end of January. After all – how hard could it be? Harder than I thought (as so many things in life are), but after poking along and worrying that I wasn’t quite good enough to do the fine work of all these knitters and crocheters justice, I rallied. Greensburg Afghan, All Seamed Up And I fell in love with my afghan. I have a favorite square, but really, I liked them all – and now I am salivating to start a Lizard Ridge afghan, a Manos Four Seasons Throw – bring on the squares! I think I may have discovered the other portable thing (besides socks) that I’m interested in knitting one after the other.

Cable and Rib Progress, first sleeve As if that weren’t enough, I give you the first sleeve of Cable and Rib, officially taking forever to finish, and the only project on Flickr tagged “ithoughtiwouldbedonebynow” Get it? Beautiful, beautiful, ready for another sleeve and a button band…and slightly too big for Knit One Purl Too’s rail-thin sweater model (aka my husband). Ah, the irony; she knitted too much! I might need to downsize it, so stay tuned for updates (as if I could stop myself from telling you). If I finish by December 30, the sweater will have been a UFO for 1575 days – wow.

Which brings me to a status report of sorts. I’ve been telling myself that my knitting goal this year is 14 finished objects from patterns I already had or knew about. Seaming the afghan brings me to 5 FOs for the year, and it seems more important to clear off my needles than to knit a herd of dishcloths just so I can reach some arbitrary number. So I’d like to finish Cable and Rib, and Lizzy (the Noro cardigan – one front to go), and the Step Above Socks (pretty far along), and the Sunset Fancy Socks I’ve been carrying around as my mindless knitting (I haven’t told you about those, but I will soon enough). That would leave me with just these beautiful lace socks (better view of the pattern here – not my socks). Seems like a good way to start the year, no? And if I finish early, there’s always dishcloth knitting along with Dick Clark!

There and back, with the socks to prove it.

Timberline Toes at Vista Point, Montana Where have I been? The answer is really good – everywhere. I’ve had my nose to the grindstone, knitting away this summer, and I got to do some of my knitting on a 10-state 12-day road trip from Ohio to Montana and back again. What else are you supposed to do when one of your knitbuds says “I’m moving to Montana?” You go with them, and you take your knitting with you, of course. The socks you see here managed to make it from cast-on to cast-off without being blogged; they’re a toe-up pair of Timberline Toes from Lucy Neatby (a sock so nice, I’ve knit it twice), in Regia that was a lovely gift from Lisa and the dogs, unused for far too long. Timberline Toes Again, complete With two pairs complete, I’m now fairly certain that I’ve gotten toe-up socks out of my system, at least for the moment. I wove in the (many) ends of my Smoking Hot Socks, and so they are also officially done. I loved this pattern from beginning to end. They were fun, engaging and quick – completed in a month (if you don’t count the ends). I’m ready to knit another pair.

Smoking Hot Socks, complete
But right now, my attention is focused on unfinished objects rather than new projects – after a long hiatus I’ve picked up my entrelac socks again. The sorry tale boil down to this – after doing half of the heel prep on sock #1 Easter weekend, 2007, I lost track of what I was doing, and had a devil of a time trying to figure it out. No matter what I did, the second triangle I was making to form the base of the heel didn’t look like the first. I e-mailed Janice (maker of three pairs of Step Above Socks), she was helpful, I was still sort of stuck. Then I came up withe the brilliant idea of faking myself out: why not start the second sock, work up to the heel and just keep going as though nothing were wrong – maybe that would jog my brain into remembering how everything was supposed to fit together? It worked(!).

A Step Above, more progressI was not really planning on participating in the Ravelympics, but I’ve made so much progress on these socks I might not be able to help finishing them this month. Unless I run out of yarn. Now that I’m close to the toe on sock #2, I can see that I might not have enough yarn for the heels and toes. This is the second pair of Koigu socks in a row where I’ve run short – I think I have to start buying three skeins for a pair – or buy stock in Tums for the stress running short causes me. Donna and Kristi at the Tri-state Marker More travel knitting here, with photos to come as I upload them inbetween bouts of knitting. There’s been more, of course – I couldn’t go an entire summer without posting unless I got into multiple kinds of trouble…including spinning. Yes, you read that right. Stay tuned for more details – I promise it won’t be another three months before you hear from me again.

Projects tagged with: “toe” and “up”

I’m not a quitter, but those sideways socks annoyed me. I wanted to finish them, yet I knew it would only end in heartbreak. So I did what I usually do when faced with knitting disappointment: rip, then distract myself with new techniques. First there was the Magic Cast On, which is pretty impressive, then there was the cable cast on, which is nice enough, then there were the mitered squares – absolutely scintillating in self-patterning yarn. And before I knew it, I had a whole freaking sock finished. Seriously, two weeks is some kind of record for me – these went so fast, May was almost NaKniSockMo – I am thisclose to a complete pair (and who knows what could happen in the next 10 hours?).

Smoking Hot Socks, almost done As proof, here are Sock #1 and Sock #2 together – there’s no sleight-of-hand or Photoshop trickery going on. These are Monika Steinbauer’s genius Smoking Hot Socks (e-mail her for the pattern, or it’s also available as a Ravelry download) in Trekking XXL 140. I found the garter stitch strip to be sort of understated, colorwise; this incarnation of the Trekking is kind of obnoxiously loud, and I love it. I also have to say that this is an ideal sock pattern for the adventurous or easily bored knitter, because each section of the sock knits up differently – just when you’re tired of the toe, it’s time to slip stitch, then you turn the heel, then you work a pile of mitered squares, then you’re done! Monika recommends a Jojo short row heel, but I went with my favorite tried and true Sherman heel – other than that, I’m knitting the pattern as written.

All I want to do now is knit lots of toe up socks, which seems in direct conflict with my other goal of finishing 14 things this year. Sad but true, waiting for ten more pairs of socks from a slow knitter like me might put us into May 2009, so I’ll need to balance my new obsession with my, er, production schedule. I think I’m going to be one of those knitters with a project scheduled for every day of the week. Then again, I might become one of those knitters who goes out and buys more sock needles.

The siren song of garter stitch.

Without my really paying attention, I managed to complete two sleeves and almost the entire back for Lizzy, the Noro Silk Garden cardigan that I was noodling around with when we last saw each other. I had fantasies that I would be able to finish knitting the pieces for Lizzy in the month of April, and it looked likely except for one thing: the siren song of garter stitch.

Here is what I’ve learned about myself (the “knitting as a growth experience” part of the entry): the easiest project on the needles will invariably rise to the top of the working rotation. I can talk a big game about cables as easy to knit as stockinette or a lacy sock I am dying to make, but apparently there were days this month when purling was too hard, and Lizzy was cast ruthlessly aside in favor of the Better Mousetrap Socks by Debbie New from Interweave Knits Fall 2001; I would show you an FO picture, but the Internet seems to think that I’m the only person who wants to make them. It doesn’t look like much more than a strip of knitting, but simple decreases give you half a heel and toe on each side, then you graft the whole thing together, and voila – a garter stitch sock magically appears, thanks in large part to the inspiring gift of Trekking sock yarn from Theresa as a blog contest prize. Better Mousetrap Sock, in progress

Except not. In late-breaking news of the “knitting as a growth experience” variety, I started the second set of heel decreases and got the sneaking suspicion that while the adjustments I made to ensure the foot was the right shortness (it seems wrong to say “length” here, since that’s not my problem) appear to have worked, the sock itself will turn out to be too wide side to side, with potential bagginess looming all over the place. Damn.

Part of me wants to treat this as a learning experience and figure out how to customize the second sock to fit me so I can reknit the first one in all its garter-y goodness before the Michigan/Ohio State football game in November (yes, these are my secret “M – Go Blue!” socks to be worn in Buckeye country). Another part wants to finish the sock and give the sock and yarn to someone with size 6 or 7 EEE feet – let them knit the second one! And a third part of me wants to admit that the only way God meant for us to knit socks is top down or toe up, and rededicate the yarn to that purpose. What should I do?

Blame it on the Bossa Nova.

Tidepool Socks, Done So I told myself that a March finishing frenzy was inspiring me to actually finish things, and indeed I have finished something: the Tidepool Socks. Except for the harrowing hunt for coordinating yarn when I thought I would run out, these were a totally relaxing, fun knit. Details: Koigu KPPM p211 on size 1 bamboo needles, 72 stitch picot hemmed cuff, 68 stitch leg, 60 stitch foot. Koigu KPPM p213 for the heels and toes purchased from the charming Merilyn at Foxyknits. The heel is Dawn Brocco’s 6-point afterthought heel, which I continue to recommend wholeheartedly. Best of all, Mom loves them, so the hunt for more Koigu was worth it. Tidepool Heels

Whether it’s an abiding wish for spring, having my iPod serve up Eydie Gorme singing Blame it on the Bossa Nova, or a deep desire to just do something else, I have succumbed to cast on fever. More specifically, lace cast-on fever. It’s time. With just one pair of socks, one aborted shawl, and hundreds of patterns bookmarked, I have surprisingly little to show product-wise for my fascination with lace. Until now. Meet the (latest) project I love unreservedly, Nancy Bush’s Wishbone Socks. Much like the Little Tent Dishcloth, this is a project I was inspired to make from the moment I first saw Cassie’s version on Ravelry. Wishbone Sock, First Repeat
Piecework Magazine to the rescue – the pattern was published in their March/April 2008 issue. This is Apple Laine Apple Butter in Dark Chocolate – a little somber for spring, but I am so tickled to actually be using yarn I stashed in 2004, I don’t care.
To counteract any gloominess, I’ve also swatched for Lizzy, the Noro ruffled cardigan I’ve been yammering on about for the better part of a year. Not only have I swatched, I’ve washed and blocked my swatch to check my true gauge. Lizzy Swatch Properly informed, I also whipped out the better part of a sleeve in the car going back and forth to my parents’ house for Easter (total number of knots found in two skeins of Silk Garden: 2 Level of annoyance: low, because I am using Anja’s terrific “weave your ends in as you go” method). It occurs to me that I could have titled this entry “Let’s Get Ready to Ruffle!” How great would that have been?

The Marge (or, “at least it’s not pink”).

Honeycomb Cabled Hat, cables This is the reversible cabled hat from Dove Knits; she’s knocked out a number of shockingly beautiful FOs since this pattern was posted just three weeks ago – this little number is the tip of the iceberg. Plus, it has the added bonus of looking just like Marge Simpson’s beehive while under construction.

I made just one change to the pattern – I added a cable repeat to provide a better fit for my husband’s taller/larger head. I also used a provisional cast to begin so that I could start the second hat using live stitches, rather than stitches picked up from the cast on edge. Take note: this is an excellent first cable project, and a terrific item to practice cabling without a needle, which is the way I roll. I was so tickled that the cables actually twisted both ways that it almost reignited my Cable and Rib fire – almost. Honeycomb Cabled Hat, ribs

In other knitting news, I’ve been knitting a pair of Tidepool socks for my mom for what feels like forever. About a month ago, I discovered to my horror that I was going to run out of yarn, and spent hours scouring the Internet for a suitable heel and toe substitute – I looked that thousands of skeins of yarn. Apparently, I am the only person in the Western world who thinks that “hot pink” means this color – everyone else thinks that’s “shocking pink.” This is why I now have four newly-acquired skeins of Koigu in my stash – say hot pink, get some other pink. I love these socks, but I’m honestly a little bit sick of looking at pink Koigu. I know, cry me a river.

The return of Captain BigHead.

Malagaiter I’ve heard it said that every time a knitter weaves in an end on an FO, an angel gets his wings. Four pairs of wings later, I have the first FO of 2008, Mary Lou Egan‘s terrific Malagaiter from the December 2006 Magknits – an issue I thought was so good, I wrote a fan letter to Kerrie telling her so.

So here are the details: I changed everything. Instead of Malabrigo, I used rare and beautiful handspun gifted to me by a knitting friend, about 200 yards worth. To get gauge appropriate for my big head and light worsted yarn, I changed the cast on number to 100 stitches (I probably could have gotten away with 90). Instead of brioche stitch, I used mistake rib stitch in the round. I also made a three-stitch i-cord (rather than two), because that’s the way I roll. And voila, I ended up with a hat long on cute and warm, short on boring. Malagaiter on

Next up: a desperate attempt to actually finish a perfectly nice pair of pink Koigu socks for which I have tragically run short on yarn, and I break my vow to knit old patterns with old yarn for this clever honeycomb reversible cabled hat at the request of Knit One Purl Too’s chief early morning dogwalker (my husband). The idea of four warm layers of merino over his ears made him swoon, and who am I to say no to a handknit he really, really wants (unlike the fliptop mittens I really, really wanted to make, now sitting on his desk because they are “too nice” to wear)? Hats for everyone – at this rate, the dog will get one too.