Monday, September 29, 2008

I blame the Yarn Harlot

The wonderful Yarn Harlot was recently in my old home town of London, adding to my high regard for her by writing about the place so well that it made me proud to have lived there and also very homesick.

On top of that, she showed a knitted Dalek that someone had brought to her talk at Lindley Hall and I just had to make it. My friend Katie, who despite 1.) living in London, 2.) being a knitter (currently not so much, but she claims she'll re-start) and 3.) having my serious suggestion she go to the talk, completely missed the opportunity. She redeemed herself by tracking down the pattern in record time.

Naturally, Exterminknit is on ravelry too, so I could look at what colours other people had used. For me, the classic is red with black spots. I remember them as being the ranks. Black with gold was the chief. Clearly, there is a whole sub-culture of Dalek denominations that even I am not quite sad enough to spend too much time exploring online.

The Dalek fits one of my requirements for day-to-day knitting projects in that is is easily portable. Sadly, it has too many parts where a little attention is required, making it harder to fit in a quick row while waiting at the doctor's office, or while reading on a train. Bobbles, colour changes, ribbing with colour changes - it all takes time and occasionally glancing at the work.

The whole thing took less than a week, although that included a weekend where very little else but knitting got done. At the very least, it made 'Im Indoors laugh like anything, and that's always good.

The Joy of Socks

The too-big-for-me socks are finished, photographed and handed over. They look to be a pretty good fit on my colleague, which is pleasing, and she's using them already, despite the weather still being pretty warm.

Far more pleasing is that she has definitely drunk the Kool-Aid. The ball of cream Patons Classic Wool Merino 100% wool yarn and the nice needles I gave her have been put to good use. She's not only knitted a 10 stitch wide band that her room mate wears as a headband, she's now used most of the remaining yarn on a very good first effort at a scarf in garter stitch. There's one dropped stitch that will have to be sewn up to stop it laddering, but the tension on the piece is admirably even. Next stop - purl.

It's always a good feeling when someone shares your enthusiasm, but introducing a friend to a new skill that they enjoy and will have use for is incredibly satisfying. Of course, it helps when the learner has aptitude. I have tried teaching people who appear to be made entirely of left-hand thumbs, judging from their inability to turn sticks and yarn into any identifiable object, and that can be ... frustrating. How can they not get this? Don't they know what fun they're missing?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Striped Socks for Bigfoot

The first sock has gone quite well, apart from turning out absolutely huge. Also, now I've turned the heel it all seems perfectly logical, but the first time I swore (repeatedly) that a vital line of directions had been left out/typed up wrong/stolen by demons.

Having finished the first sock and found it to be a good one and a half inches too long for me I feared falling prey to the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome (thanks for naming it, Yarn Harlot). Luckily, a lady at work has very long skinny feet, to match her legs, and the sock pretty much fits her, so I'm working on the second one now. She has expressed interest in knitting herself some legwarmers, which will require teaching her to knit. I got some nice short, 4.5mm size Clover straights and 100g of pure wool (good old Patons Classic Wool Merino) to start the process. Is this the yarnhead's version of persuading someone to drink the Kool-Aid?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Oh yeah, like I surf

I was very taken with Connie Chang Chinchio's Après Surf Hoodie, printed in this summer's Interweave Knits. The only piece of lace I'd done previously was a scarf called Branching Out, from Spring 2005's Knitty and, despite not really being a big fan of lace as a product, making it turned out to be really fun.

The pattern for the Après Surf Hoodie called for Rowan RYC Cashcotton, a gorgeous blend of cotton, nylon, angora, rayon and cashmere and I found it at a bearable price in a striking blue on e-Bay. Bought ten balls of it and started swatching/gauging as soon as it arrived. My tension seemed to be a long way off and I ended up making it using teeny tiny needles - 2.25 mm for the body and arms and 2 mm needles for the hood, which is borderline psychotic.

I had got a long way through it before a Stitch 'n Bitch mate, who was making the same thing, suggested perhaps I was using DK instead of the 4-ply the pattern called for. Naturally, she was right (I think she knew but was being kind enough to pose it as a possibility, instead of telling me I'm an idiot.) I'd been so taken with the yarn's colour I'd ignored its weight. As it turned out, I preferred the result of the slightly thicker yarn. I may even make it again, in DK instead of 4-ply, but since it took two months it's not high on my list at the moment.

It has turned out very well and I've worn it for at least part of every day since I finished it a little over a week ago. The laughter from friends and family about the title has not subsided, since I have never even stood on a surf board in a shop, let alone risked life and limb (mine and others') by trying one out on the ocean. My athleticism, such as it ever was, is long gone, as you probably guess from this picture.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

My First Real Socks

Having recently finished the Big Bloke Sweater and also the wonderful Après Surf Hoodie I needed something fun to do. The little striped bag to be felted isn't challenging enough, so I have decided to have a go at socks. I've only made one pair before, some time in my late teens, and they turned out OK but not great. Stitch 'n Bitch friends churn out interesting-looking ones and they've got me interested in trying them.

In a panic about running out of yarn for the Après Surf Hoodie I had bought more of the right colour on line and naturally added in more yarns to the order to get free shipping. (There's a knitter's rationalisation for you.)

The stash addition included some self-striping sock wool which I am using to knit socks from the toe to the cuff instead of the more usual cuff-to-toe route. After swatching until I could get the gauge marked on the yarn's wrapper I have settled on 2.25mm needles. This is an awkward size to find here in America, since both it and a nearby size (2.5mm, I think) are listed as equivalent to US size 1. Luckily I bought a huge set of bamboo double point needles on e-Bay, and it included 2.25 mms (the smallest size in the set, and slightly bendy).

The pattern I found online has a little texture, provided by a P2, K3 purl over the top of the foot and up the leg, and so far is working out well. I'm not sure I'll really wear them, but they're fun to make. Perhaps they'll be more offerings for the Finished Works Stash (AKA Possible Presents).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Big Bloke Sweater Part II

Finally finished it last weekend. One sleeve had been too long - more frogging. The second sleeve's decreases didn't look right - frogging. The ribbing at the neck - you guessed it.

However, it is done. Perhaps it needs a few canny stitches to fill in gaps and to make parts hang right, but it fits 'Im Indoors pretty well. I may or may not block it. Since it was knitted in the round blocking may not be too simple. Now I just have to persuade him to be photographed in it.

New techniques tried out during this project:

Top-down knitting
Magic loop (on lower part of sleeves)