Friday, October 29, 2010

Finished Mystery Socks

It's as the title states, so you've been warned. If you're knitting them and don't want to see what they look like when they're done, skip this post.

/spoiler alert

Ok, so the last clue came out last night shortly after midnight. I printed it out directly, with plans to take the socks with me to my hair appointment today and finish them there. Inexplicably, the next thing I knew, I was sitting in the living room at 1:30 a.m., kitchenering the toe of the second sock. I couldn't not finish them last night. And so they are done! Before the end of Socktober! I'm way more pleased about that than I should be, I think. :}

2010 Soctoberfest Mystery Sock; pattern by Kirsten Kapur of Through the Loops; yarn by Needle Food, merino/nylon, Berry Fruits colorway.

Here's my project page on Rav, though I made no modifications to the pattern, which is rather odd for me.

Photos cropped in such a way as to minimize, as much as possible, the amount of late-fall pastiness visible on my legs. :P And thank you, depth of field, for adequately camouflaging the fact that I really should have shaved my legs before this photo shoot. (Sorry. TMI? LOL)

It's a shame that Needle Food, which was based in New Zealand, is no longer in operation. Their colorways were fabulous. I have one more skein of their sock yarn in my stash in Plumberry Ambrosia (a purple/green/blue colorway). I think I will hold onto it and savor it for a while.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Down to the wire...

Socktoberfest is quickly coming to a close, and as I'm waiting for the last clue for the Mystery Sock to be posted at (or around?) midnight Friday, I thought I'd take these moments to post a catch-up blog entry. I'll start with my mystery sock progress...

This is what it looks like after Clue #4. I've since finished the second sock up to this point as well. This marks a coup for me in this Socktoberfest Mystery Sock knitting challenge. In both of the past two years, I went gung ho on clues 1 - 3, but then when I got to the foot clue -- which always feels like the longest part of the sock to me -- I've petered out completely. I didn't finish my 2008 mystery socks until March 2009, and I didn't finish the 2009 pair until February of 2010. That I am on track to finish the 2010 pair not only IN 2010, but within the month of (S)ocktober, well, it's just a miracle! It's a Socktoberfest miracle! ;)

In other sock knitting, I'm still on the gusset increases on my second Riff sock, but I remain optimistic that I will also finish that sock before midnight on Sunday as well.

All of this tiny sock needle knitting is starting to get to my hands a little (ever since I've learned to knit continental when doing socks, I find my hands stay very tense as I knit, I think due to the tensioning needs of the finer gauge yarn), so I decided to cast on another project using US8s.

This is the start of the Caldavos cardigan, pattern by Thea Colman. Can I say that Thea is quickly becoming one of my favorite designers? I loved working on her Nantucket Red design earlier this year, and this pattern promises to be as enjoyable, as far as I can see. Her patterns are very well written, nicely detailed, and I love how she includes notes on how each person can best customize the garments to her own body. I know that is something a lot of us try to do anyway, but if you're a less adventurous knitter, or just aren't confident enough to make your own modifications to a pattern, having those notes within the pattern is a really nice feature. I'll keep you posted on my love affair with Thea and her Caldavos pattern as I progress through it. Right now, my focus remains on these two pair of socks, so it will still be a few days before I made major headway on this project.

And soon there will be another sweater in the works. I can't say a lot about it right now, as it is a test knit, but I will say it will be made from handspun...

This shot represents approximately 24 oz of BFL from Briar Rose Fibers that I (mostly) woolen spun to a heavy worsted weight. The yarn at the back half of the shot is all for the main body of the sweater. The foreground yarn in the rather mustardy shade is, tentatively, set to be the contrast. I'm conflicted, though. Something about the shade of that contrasting yarn just does not jive with the main colors. My other option is to use some Plymouth Tweed in a dark brown, which, colorwise, works much more to my liking, but the spin of the Plymouth yarn is very different than that of my handspun, so I'm not sure how it will look. I'm still toying with the configuration of colors for this project. I know the answer is there. I just need to wait for it to show itself to me. (The answer will not involve either over-dyeing nor buying and spinning yet more fiber, even though both of those options have popped into my brain.)

I will add that this spinning project has taught me one thing: I do not enjoy spinning heavier weight yarns nearly as much as I do lighter weight. DK, fingering...those I truly enjoy. Worsted, I don't mind. This heavier worsted? Meh. Not so much. And I'm just not sure why. I think part of it is because it seemed to take forEVer to spin enough to get the yardage I needed for this project. Granted, spinning finer yarns take a while too, but at least there is more yardage for the effort.

Lastly, a whim...
...crocheted spiral hexagons from leftover sock yarn. As evidenced in my yarn room pictures recently, I have a lot of little leftover balls of sock yarn. I've been hoarding them not only as decorative items, but ultimately to be used for this sock yarn blanket. Now, I love making mitred squares. Honestly, I do. That's often my go-to pattern if I have to make an afghan square or a dishcloth. However, the thought of knitting several hundred of those puppies out of sock yarn just really hasn't excited me, thus I never bothered to start the project. (Well, that and the fact that I already have an afghan WIP that I swore I'd finish before I started any more blankets, however I have this sneaking suspicion that I'm going to run out of yarn before the afghan reaches it's target size, so I've been ignoring it. Plus it's being knit on US11s, which pretty much feel like tree trunks in my hands. I'm not a big needle kinda girl.)

However, I started watching the Round the Twist videocast several months ago, and Carin often shows her little crocheted hexagons that she's making, presumably for a blanket (I'm honestly not sure, but that's my guess). I thought that was a fantastic idea! I'm not a very experienced crocheter, but I do enjoy crocheting on occasion. It's a nice change from knitting. So after the last RtT videocast, I pulled out my Crochet Stitch Bible, found a pattern for a hexagon that looked like I could handle and gave it a go. The next day, I made another one and seamed it to the first. Oh my goodness! These are too much fun to make! I can do them while I'm sitting here at the computer reading or watching something. Easy peasy.

After making the second one, I went and measured my bed, then I came back and did the math. I would need to crochet 1190 of these hexagons to make a coverlet for my queen-sized bed. If I make four hexagons a day, seaming as I go, I could have a coverlet completed in under a year. For whatever reason, that strikes me as incredibly doable. I know, logistically speaking, I won't make four a day, but it's still a goal to work with.

The biggest catch to this theory is that I know I do not have enough sock yarn leftovers to accommodate an entire coverlet. Each of my hexagons have used about 2 grams of yarn, which means I'd need the equivalent of nearly 24 100-gram skeins of sock yarn to finish the project. I'm quite sure my leftovers don't come to anywhere near that. Will need to consider how to beg, borrow, or trade for more, I suppose. But I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The irony of it...

The other day, the Yarn Harlot wrote a post about how her sock yarn was pooling on a second sock instead of striping like it did on the first. She narrowed the possible reasons for this phenomenon down to: change in stitch pattern, gauge or stitch number. It turned out that she'd cast on a different number of stitches for the second sock than she had the first, thus the difference in how the yarn colors were behaving. She ripped it and started over.

When I read her post, at first I kind of chuckled because I thought, yep, I could see how that might happen, and then I felt her pain at having to rip back a half-finished sock. I mean, that's a lot of time spent and a lot of tiny stitches that are being undone.

Now, it is Socktoberfest, and I've been doing a lot of sock knitting. Finished one pair, working on three others. I finished the first Riff sock earlier this week, and it turned out really cute...

Note how nicely the yarn striped. (If this was a movie, the creepy foreshadowing music would kick in about here.)

I cast on for the second Riff two days ago and got about two inches into the toe. It looked different to me, but it was just the toe, and I figured it was plausible that the colors could play differently through the toe increase section. Tonight I continued on another couple inches and it was clear that the striping of the first sock was not happening. In fact, what I was getting was pooling.

Pooling instead of striping. This seemed so strangely...familiar.

Then I remembered...the Yarn Harlot's sock. So I thought about her reasons...pattern, gauge...nope not issues for me. Stitch count? I stopped and counted. I was successfully knitting 32 stitches per needle, for a total of 64. OK. I usually knit 60 or 64 stitch socks, so that seemed right. I knit a few more rounds. And then it hit me. I rifled back through the pattern to where it specified total stitch count after the toe increases for my size: 68.


With a sigh, I ripped back to the toe, did one more round of increases and set off again. Voila! I've got striping as I did in the first sock. All I can say is thank God this is an easy pattern that I'm enjoying.

I can't help but marvel at how four little stitches can cause such a huge difference in the behavior of the yarn!

It struck me that perhaps I'd been subconsciously influenced by YH's post and that was why I made the same mistake she'd made. But then I realized, no. I made the mistake the day before I read her post. The mistake was mine alone. Still, it's so freaky that I made the same mistake to the same end that she did. Just so weird!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cubbies make all the difference!

Not baby bears. Not a baseball team from Chicago. These...

I've been in my new office/yarn room for a couple of months now, but I still didn't have it completely organized to my liking. Also, I hadn't yet decided if I wanted to try and put a bed in here, or a futon, or nothing, so that wall where the cubbies are remained empty and the room looked pretty funny.

Over the weeks, though, I've decided that I really liked having the open floor space. I could set up my ironing board in here, out of the way, or I could put mats down and block things in here. It was nice to not be squished because, frankly, we live in a small house, and we pretty much live in every square foot of it! To have some extra space and open floor, felt like a luxury. So I decided to skip the bed and instead put in cubbies for more storage. That was what I really needed anyway.

So, now that the room is offiically DONE, let me give you the official TOUR! =)

(By the way, the rest of these room photos are linked through Flickr, so if you click on them, you'll go to the Flickr images where you can see the notes I've imbedded in the photos. The trade off is I can't get Blogger and Flickr to play nice, thus the photos will not center. Ok, now they're centering, but I've got line spacing issues. Sigh.)

Here we are, entering the room...


...and the if you look to the left, you'll see the cubbies as they are in the picture above. Want a closer look at the cubbies? Sure you do! Remember, click through the Flickr images because I've got notes galore on what you're seeing. (I enjoy learning the details of people's living spaces...maybe it satisfies some deep, voyeuristic tendencies I have?)



I love having all of this color and texture right out in the open! Today, after I finished arranging it all, I just sat on the floor, entranced. Chris walked in and asked, "Um, having fun staring at your yarn?" Why yes, I really was!

My Loopy collection. :)
Turning again to the left, we come to the original book cases that were in the room...


I originally thought I would have plenty of space for yarn in just those top three shelves in the left case. Ha! Didn't hold nearly as much as I needed them to. Now with the cubbies, I've opened up nearly an entire shelf (which I'm sure will be filled with something soon) and now I also have room to put my scrapbooking papers out where I can actually get to them and possibly even use them again (novel idea...I really would like to scrap occasionally's been so long!). (BTW, tons of notes on the Flickr picture of this one! LOL)

As you turn to the left again, you will pass the room's door, which, when open, hides the closet. I didn't take a picture of that because, frankly, it's still kind of a disaster in there, but not quite as much as it was. Right now, it houses all of my batts and bumps of spinning fiber (the braids are all out in the cubbies! Yeay!), as well as fiber to be dyed and also all of the yarn I have up on my sell/trade page on Rav, or plan to put there soon. It also has my shipping supplies, boxes of pictures, a huge box of old journals, kali sticks, machetes and some sewing supplies. Yeah, quite a motley assortment of goods.

So! Turn to the left again, and we come to the dresser...


Only the top drawer has any yarn in it now, though the top two used to have sock yarn in it. More than anything, I just love this piece of furniture. It was from Kevin's grandma's house and it is old and just has such charm and character!

I love buttons!
If you turn to the left again, you've done a complete circle around the room, returning to my desk.

And then if you look down, you will likely find this at your feet...

She really is not happy about this. She is probably plotting where
she will do something nasty that I will then need to clean up.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Double Digit October Update

It's unfathomable to me that we've already reached October 11th. This month is flying by, and I'd really like it to sloooooow dooooown now, please.

If I thought September was crazy-busy, October has been (and will continue to be) no less so. Especially our weekends. I can't remember the last time I had a relaxing, quiet, laid-back weekend, and I'd really like one...soon! The first weekend of the month was the local Apple & Arts Festival. Kevin and the kids take part in that, Kevin running the antique shingle mill and the kids working in the cider booth. I spent time there on Saturday, which turned out to be a good choice because the weather turned nasty by Sunday. I had my camera along but didn't take one picture. Oh well. Imagine throngs of people, lots of craft and food booths, apples and apple-themed things everywhere and an abundance of tractors and you've pretty much got it. (Honestly, I've taken pictures in past years, and aside from the age of my kids, they often turn out looking the same from year to year. LOL) :}

This weekend, our oldest son (the Marine) and his son came to visit. We've enjoyed having them here.

Zach and Kevin were doing manly-men things with chainsaws this past weekend.

Our grandson started kindergarten this fall. So hard to believe how much he's seemed to have grown up just in the few months since we saw him last! Today we hit the pumpkin patch, which was followed by pumpkin carving. Hopefully he realizes he won't be able to take his jack-o-lantern home with him on the plane.

This coming weekend I will most likely be laying low caring for Christopher, who is having his wisdom teeth removed on Thursday. I suppose this might count as a laid-back weekend, though I'm not sure how relaxing or quiet it will be depending on how much pain he is in. Then the following week, my mom and step dad will be arriving for a week's visit...we're very excited to be seeing them, as they only get up here once a year, at best. Not sure what all of the specific plans will be while they're here, but I imagine it will be kind of busy. The last weekend of the month is Halloween weekend, and I told the kids they could have a party. I think I may have been insane at that moment, but I'm remaining optimistic. It won't be a huge party, but it should be fun. Their friends are all nice kids.

In the mean time, knitting is taking place. I am still in the throes of Socktoberfest knitting. I finished my first pair for the month, the Ampersands I started last month. They're a gift pair, though I'd love them for myself! LOL

I've finished Clue #2 (the leg portion) of one of my Mystery Socks...need to get the second one caught up yet, so I haven't taken any more pictures of them yet. In the mean time, I decided I needed a pair of Halloween-ish socks for myself (I apparently forgot about my Zombie socks from last year...hmmm...), so I ordered a skein of yarn from Woolen Mill St. Yarns on Etsy, in the Jack the Pumpkin King colorway. I wanted to do something a little more challenging than a plain stockinette sock but not so challenging than I couldn't do it while watching TV. I opted for Riff from the latest issue of Knitty.

The twisted stitch pattern isn't showing up as clearly as it would in a solid or semi-solid yarn, but I still like it. It's been a fast knit to this point (despite the fact I misread the instructions for starting the gusset increases and had to rip back over an inch to rectify the situation). I'm now to the heel flap on the first sock though, and I've already tinked back a couple rows because I don't think I'm doing it correctly. The zigzag pattern goes up the heel and is supposed to meet the pattern on the front, and...well...I'm just not sure about it. I need to read comments from others on Ravelry and see if they have any insights. So, stay tuned!

I've made no progress on the one shawl that is on the needles, as I've been pretty dedicated to socks lately. I think once I finish the Riffs, I'll move on to shawl knitting since I'll still have the mystery socks to work on for Socktoberfest. Of course, I still also have at least one more pair of Christmas gift socks to knit up, so we'll see!

Oh, and lastly, have you heard about the new yarn by Jared Flood? I have to admit, I'm not as huge a Jared fan as some people -- nothing against him, his designs just don't always resonate that much with me. However, I venture to his blog occasionally, and when I did so last week, right after he introduced Shelter, I immediately fell for it. I love, love, love rustic farm yarns, and the colors Shelter came in made me giddy. It took a lot of self control not to order one of each, but instead I ordered three skeins of the Tent colorway just so I could check it out.

At first glance, it reminded me of Plymouth Tweed in appearance. However, this yarn has a sproingyness than Plymouth Tweed does not have. It is full of squish and loveliness and again, the colors are ridiculously awesome. I wore skein #3 around my neck for about 20 minutes to check out the itch factor...

I would not classify this as a "soft" yarn, but it was not at all itchy or scratchy. I wouldn't hesitate to use it for a scarf or mittens that would be directly on my skin. I'm not sure if I'd like it for a pullover that was going to have direct contact with a larger surface area of my body, but honestly...I've felt far less skin-friendly yarns. I'm really excited about this yarn and cannot wait to give it a try.

As a bonus, I love the fact that it's being spun in the US from American grown wool from American bred sheep. I also love that Jared has had such a hands-on role in its creation. (You can read his story about it in several recent posts on his blog. Clara Parkes also did an in depth review of Shelter last week.)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Now we're reallllly into it!

(Head's up...spoiler ahead...I'm posting a picture of my Soctoberfest Mystery Socks at the first clue stage later in this post. If you're doing them too and don't want to see, scroll ahead really fast when you get to that part!)

Fall, that is. The definite drop in temperatures, especially at night, is a sure sign that we are fully entrenched in fall. And I LOVE IT!!! It actually went down into the high 30s the other night. Awesome! :)

The daytime can still get a little warm, if the sun is out and cooperating, but I've worn a sweater nearly every day this week, so that says something because I usually run warm. I was very happy to finish this sweater the other day (please bypass the rain-frizzed hair and jump on down to the knitted yumminess)...

This is my finished random cardigan (I really need to think of a better name for it now that it's done). I'm really pleased with it. It fits well, and it is very soft and squishy. I know I'm going to get a ton of wear from this sweater. All those colors go with so many things! And I had the most PERFECT buttons for it in my stash! Seriously, it's like they were made specifically to go with this yarn.

I love when things happen like that. :)

In other knitting news, yesterday ushered in SOCKTOBERFEST! Woohoo!! This is my third year of celebrating Socktoberfest, and I'm very much looking forward to a month full of sock knitting (though there will be some other items worked on too, I'm sure...but mostly socks!) I'm almost done with the first Ampersand sock that I showed you in the last post. I'm planning to cast on #2 right away instead of one of any number of other sock patterns I'd really like to start. Must stay focused on these gift socks for now!

I did, however, cast on for the 2010 Socktoberfest Mystery Sock KAL. This is also a Kirsten Kapur pattern, as she graciously has designed a mystery sock pattern for several years now to celebrate Socktoberfest. I'm using some Needle Food sock yarn, the Berry Fruits colorway. Needle Food is no longer in business, which makes the two skeins of their yarn that I have in my stash very special to me because they are just awesome colors. Kirsten recommended using a solid or semi-solid for the mystery sock. Berry Fruits is more of a variegated yarn, but I'm hoping it will work out because I really like the colors. The first clue was the cuff. I cast on and knit both cuffs for the pair the other night as soon as the clue was released...I was excited to get started!




The color variegation definitely hides the stitch pattern a bit, but I'm going to continue on and see how it goes.

The other celebration coming up is, of course, Halloween! I'm not usually one to go all out to decorate for Halloween, but this year I just got the bug to do it up. I made the mistake of going into Pat Catan's yesterday looking for just the cobwebby stuff and a new scarecrow, and I came out with a buttload of other fun Halloweeny things. :}Even as teens, the kids are quite excited that I decorated. Heck, my oldest who is in his mid-20s still loves Halloween, so I guess you're never really too old, eh?

Not sure if I've complained about the stink bug problem we've had this year -- they've been everywhere! And now it's pesky fall gnat season too. But those are NOTHING compared to the spider problem that has developed...yeesh!!

BAHAHAhahaha!!! Ahem. ;)

And just for the record? That cobwebby stuff is WAY FUN to play with and put up on the bushes because it clings and sticks to everything and really does look like cobwebs. However, in a month, when I'm ready to undecorate, it will be a major pain in the arse because it clings and sticks to everything.

And as a side note...those orange twinkle lights that you can't see very well? I forgot we had them from a past year until AFTER I put up the cobwebs. So today, I decided to retrofit them under the already in-place cobwebs. Heh. Yeah, that worked great. Oh well. They may not be on the bushes as nicely as I'd like, but they add color nonetheless!