Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sock Stuff

As I mentioned in my last post, there has been sock activity going on here too.  A pair of socks for Luke, knit from Fleece Artist Nyoni:

Of course, the picture doesn't do them justice.  The yarn is just gorgeous, the colours subtle and there was way more in the skein than I thought. The pattern is Nancy Bush's Madder Ribbed Sock, and I worked it as written, with an 8 inch leg.  The foot fits a men's size nine and yet there was a generous portion of yarn left over, shown below with the sock for scale.

Before Christmas I'd found the Nyoni yarn on sale for just $12 a skein.  I'm so glad I stocked up then, because now I've got a lovely stash of the stuff.

The other thing I did was dye up some yarn.  Jackie at the Forest City Knit Club volunteered to take 10 skeins of my white Paton's Kroy and knit it up into sock blanks.  (In return, I owe her an unknown favour, which would feel like a dangerous carte blanche except Jackie is so nice.) I wanted to experiment with gradual color changes, so I decided monochrome colors was the way to go.  Here's the results:

Again with the crappy pictures, but what can you expect in January?  I'm satisfied with the result, but I think the purple would have been better with a longer gradation of color.

Unrelated to socks, I was sitting in a job seminar today about networking and through the glass door of the meeting room I spotted a woman come into the Coffee Office wearing a brightly colored Koigu sweater made of many blocks of mitered squares, framed in a brilliant turquoise blue.  What a lovely breath of life in January! 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Betcha can't have just one!

I love my yoked pullover so much, I've accidentally started two more.  First I started one for Jim using another Drops pattern and some Elsbeth Lavold Classic picked up a while back.  But both Jim and I didn't like the placement of the colors so it had to be ripped. 

There's not enough contrast and Jim felt that one of the blues was too bright.  Ripping was no problem though because this yarn is lovely to work with and held up well.  Here's attempt number two and the colors are just right.

From here on, the light blue is the main color, knit in plain stockinette, so it was time for Jim to try it on.  But the results were disappointing.  It seemed tight at the shoulders and loose at the neck.  I was so frustrated.  So I put it aside, finished a pair of socks, dyed some yarn, and started another yoked pullover, this time for me.

Since the first one was so great, I decided to make the same pattern again, but it had to be different some how.  So I'm using sock yarn, with a bright colored yoke (Trekking XXL) and dark body and sleeves. Also,  I'll make it a cardigan so there will be a blue button band and collar.  In hindsight I think I was inspired by the tin I use to hold my knitting bits and bobs. 

It makes me happy. Before blogging, I got Jim to try on his yoke again so I could take a picture and ask for advice, but you know, it doesn't look so bad anymore.

Looks like I've got two sweaters to woo me. I wonder which will win?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Good News, Bad News

When there's good news and bad news I like to give the bad news first and follow up with the good news.  It's like taking a nasty medicine and following that up with a spoonful of sugar, letting the sweet taste minimize the bad taste in your mouth.

Well, this week I got some pretty bad news.  I was let go from my job as a technical writer as part of a cost reduction in the company.  I've been with the same company for close to seven years and I'm going to miss all the great people I worked with.  On the positive side, I received a good severance package that includes outplacement counseling and I'll be starting that on Monday.  I've decided to treat this as an opportunity and so I'm looking forward to the counseling as an opportunity to re-evaluate my career. 

Now, for the good news.  I finished my yoked pullover and I love it!

Now doesn't that put a smile on your face?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Navel Gazing

In 2009 I knit this much:

3 sweaters
1 vest
3 hats
2 shawls
3 scarves
4 pairs of gloves
3 pairs of felted clogs
2 blankets
8 socks

Which is down from 2007,  when I knit this much:

9 sweaters
8 hats
3 pairs mittens
2 pairs felted clogs
2 scarves
2 dish rags
2 small bags
2 shawls
18 pairs of socks

Playing video games and walking the dog accounts for the bulk of the change.  But I also think I'm a more adventurous knitter than I was before.  Which means there is more ripping going on, and more projects half-started and then abandoned.  I'm satisfied with the trade off. 

Last year, I'd made a resolution that 2009 was going to be the year Jim and I cleared out the debt in our power line-of-credit.  But early in the year, work dried up for Jim and it looked like we weren't going to meet that goal.  However, when my car was wrecked we made the decision to pay of the debt with the insurance pay out and now I'm taking the bus.  I didn't expect to meet my goal with such a drastic measure.

So, no resolutions this year.  Seems a safer bet.  Instead, I've got intentions.  I intend to take the bus the rest of this year so that we can increase our savings and fix our house up.  In addition, I'm predicting that automotive technology will be seeing a major revolution over the next few years.  It feels like saving up to buy a car would be a smarter idea than going into debt to buy one that may shortly be obsolete. I'm not an early adopter.  I want the kinks worked out before I spend my cash.

Other intentions for this year include not buying yarn on sale. Yes, I'll buy yarn. But I think I want to buy for specific projects as I'm ready to knit them, instead of buying for the stash.  The stash has enough yarn.  No, I don't believe that the stash is alive and will punish me for not feeding it.  It's a charming image and helps alleviate guilt, but as I told my bicycle when I was first learning to ride it at the age of seven, "I'm the boss of this ride!" 

Finally, my personal growth goal is to try to be more compassionate to people that annoy me.  I believe I'm already a very compassionate person, but I've realized that I'm choosy with my compassion.  I give it where it's easy to give. It's a lot harder to be compassionate to someone who has annoyed you, or is mean, or is very close to you.  I'm not compassionate enough with my own family, including myself.  Trying to have more compassion is part of learning that it is not all about me, a lesson I believe we all have to learn over and over again starting from birth.

The yoked sweater proceeds well, and I'm currently knitting the ribbing.  It's nasty.  Well over 400 stitches on 2.5mm needles and I want to get about 5 inches done.  It seems impossible, especially since the knitting is so snug on the needles it hurts my hands.  I'm glad this is at the end of the sweater, because were it at the beginning I'm sure I would abandon this project as not working out.

Worse is yet to come.  When I finish the tortuous ribbing, I intend to use a sewn tubular bind off to finish it.  That's how I did the neck and cuffs, so I want the bottom to match.  I just know it's going to take for ever, require many splices and drive me loony.  But I'm going to do it anyway.  How's that for a great start to my intentions?  Not very compassionate of me to force myself to finish the sweater like this...  But it's the right thing to do, I'm sure of it.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Ringing in the New Year

My ears are still ringing at least.  Five of Luke's friends came over to our house for a New Year's Eve party.  It was about as loud as I expected but they didn't eat as much as I expected.  I had made mounds of food and now have half a mound of leftovers.  For one thing, I made a double loaf of garlic bread from scratch.  While it looks pretty, it wasn't edible.  I didn't cook it long enough and the center was doughy and raw.  Oh well, I'll know better next time.

But fun?  Oh man! These were great kids, very open, funny and with a lot of heart.  I can't imagine a better way to welcome 2010.

Thank you for all the well wishes regarding my illness.  It wasn't too bad and it did encourage me to rest and take it easy.  I got quite a bit of knitting done and here it is.

The pattern is a free one from Drops Designs, but I modified it to work it from the top down.  I started with a cabled cast on, and worked the yoke essentially as written, except upside down which means reading the pattern backwards.  Sounds confusing, but it wasn't so bad.

The benefit of top down is trying it on and I have, several times, which resulted in some ripping.  I required more stitches cast on under the arm for the sleeves and a different rate of decrease in the sleeves.  But it's all good because the sleeves are now exactly right for me and my shape. 

After the sleeves, I tackled the neckband which took two tries.  The first time I picked up stitches, I did so right in the cabled cast on which left holes. I kept knitting thinking the ribbing would pull it in.  I kept knitting in spite of the little voice that told me it was not good enough.  I was almost finished the ribbing before I finally listened and ripped it back to start over.  I'm glad I did because now I'm in love with the finished result.

You can't tell from looking at it that the knitting is going in opposite directions, can you?

Moving on to the body of the sweater, I started with a set of 12 (or more) short rows to allow for my bust.  Now I'm working plain stockinette for a good long while.  Working fingering weight yarn on 3.25mm needles is not a speedy process.  It's great movie knitting though.

I hope your New Year is filled with a happy noise and lots of beautiful knitting too.