Friday, August 31, 2012

This post has been mentally composed for a while now.

Not too long ago I would have been astounded that a mere two days of class a week can take so much out of someone. Today I didn't even want to go anywhere, just spend some time in my nice cool apartment and spend some quiet time with my knitting.

Of course I still haven't figured out what that means I should do.

I could: start knitting Jo's Pride.
But first: I'd have to finish up Radiance, to free up the size 5 circs.

I could: start knitting Amy's socks.
But first: I'd have to learn how to start a toe-up sock using a crochet chain. This technique I had promised to practice first by knitting a topdown hat for my mother.

I could: knit a self-designed sweater.
But first: I'd have to design it. Sigh.

I could: knit more on Pickle's socks.
But first: I'd have to... reconcile myself to knitting more on Pickle's socks.

Wait. Tomorrow is Saturday, isn't it? Dang.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


It's almost midnight here and I'm staring and exhausted. I've been awake for over sixteen hours and these are some of the things I've done:

- Attended my first three classes of the semester. This is a great victory for me, because up until yesterday I was unsure whether I'd be able to register for classes at all. Still, it turns out that being continuously on campus from around 8:45 AM to around 5 PM is... not recommended, especially not without a good water bottle.
- Dealt with patch 5.0.4. For those of you who don't play Warcraft, it means (in the most basic terms) that the rules of the world are changing in preparation for the next big chapter in the world story. Which is nice and exciting in theory, but grumpymaking to deal with after a day on campus. My character's abilities and playstyle are completely different now, and don't even get me started on the changes to the achievement system.
- Tried to design a sweater.

Okay, that might have been overly ambitious. Then again... maybe not. I've done it before, after all. About a year and a half ago, I knit my very first sweater. It was of my own design, with no guidelines other than a vague mental concept of how the construction should go, a clumsy little gauge swatch, and a cable pattern. I finished this sweater before I'd ever finished my first shawl, or learned how to knit socks, or even wound a cake of yarn on a ball winder.

It didn't turn out too badly. A little on the small side, the cables got lost in the fuzziness of the alpaca, and you can tell that it's not meant to be worn with a bulky skirt.

Now I have more experience. But I also have greater ambitions. That first sweater was knit bottom-up and entirely in the round with no seaming; the armholes are basically just slits, constructed in the same way that buttonholes are. Now I want to make something complicated, something exquisite. Something that requires shaping, and lace panels, and maybe ruffles, and probably a whole lot of seaming and finishing. Something that would be worthy of publishing and sharing with the wider knitting world, which means something that translates well into a variety of sizes. Something...

...something too complicated for me to think about right now. Maybe tomorrow. Good night, all.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Itchy fingers.

I'm starting to resent this sock. Really. It took me around 10 days to knit a pair of my own socks. It took 14 days to knit Bandit's pair. It's now my eleventh day on this project, and this sock stubbornly refuses to cooperate with me. I've taken it on four flights. Today I even took it to the DMV. Nothing.

It even refuses to be photographed nicely.

And I feel pretty terrible because this is a birthday gift for my best friend, and shouldn't that mean that I should be more diligent about putting effort into it, not to mention refraining from griping about it somewhere he's bound to read (eventually)? Instead I'm just daydreaming about more interesting projects. Amy's lace socks, for instance - I plan to knit those toe-up two at a time, with a short-row heel instead of a heel flap, and definitely making sure there's a pattern over the top of the foot so that I won't have to endure the same interminable slog of miles and miles of stockinette. Or Jo's Pride, which I still haven't cast on yet, because Radiance is still on the size 5 circs. Or a cardigan for myself, for which I've already bought yarn and a cute button and just have to find the perfect pattern. Heck, I could even spend a merry hour or two frogging and rewinding the really old, hibernating WIPs.

My fingers are so itchy for something new that I can't decide what, if anything, is really intrinsically gripping me the most. Maybe it's just sock burnout reasserting itself in full force, or maybe I just feel better if I have several projects going at once. Or maybe it's just this sock.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Packing up.

Apparently the correct way to convince Bandit to buy an airtight yarn storage container is to show him the previous blog post.

"Okay, we'll go out today and get you a storage container. A great big one."
"No, I just need a little one."
"A great big one!"
"Noooo, little one."
"A great big one, that you'll have to fill up with more yarn."

I did end up picking up more yarn at the fiber festival. The festival was smaller than I'd expected (much, much smaller than the Estes Park Wool Market) and most of the booths, to Amy's profound disappointment, seemed to be geared more towards spinners than knitters. (It only took the sight of a batt with sparkles in it to persuade her to learn how to spin too, someday.) However, I did purchase a shawl pin, a removable stitch marker, and these lovelies:

The caked sock yarn is destined to become socks for Amy, to match the fingerless gloves she plans to knit from the skein she bought (same colorway but with sparkles). The laceweight I have no plans for yet. Bandit found it first and ambushed me with it. Alpaca/silk/cashmere laceweight - this man has picked up an uncanny amount regarding my yarn preferences. The yarn was just too soft and beautiful to pass up, but it'll go into the longer-term stash storage here.

Afterwards we purchased a container. I'm glad Bandit didn't let me get the smaller container I wanted, because it turns out my yarn takes up more space than I thought:

Once I took out the yarn I plan to bring back with me, and added the unfinished sweater:

The stash is now packed away nice and snug. I still need to pack up the rest of my things before I fly out this afternoon. I'm putting it off and trying hard not to think about it, as if it would prolong my stay here.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Socks Saturday: A copout.

The past few days have been very busy. I've been on four flights in the space of a week, and while I usually relish plane time as free knitting time, this time I've just been... exhausted. As such, Pickle's sock (yes, still the first one) has just recently had its heel turned. In lieu of taking a picture, I encourage you to envision last week's picture, only with a heel on it.

Instead, here's a picture of what has been giving me no small amount of worry:

That, my friends, is a suitcase full of yarn and paraphernalia. This is part of the yarn living at Bandit's apartment. (There's also his unfinished sweater, which lives in its own drawer and is probably staying here for a while.) I'm clearly going to have to bring at least some of this yarn back with me. But I also have clothes here that need to come back in that suitcase. And I only have the one suitcase. This means... some of the yarn will have to stay here.

How do you make a decision like this? How do you tell a perfectly innocent skein of cashmere or merino, "Sorry, you're lovely but I just can't see myself knitting you up in the next few months"? How do you tell the laceweight you once loved, "We had something special, but these days I just have to focus on putting my sock knitting first"? How can you relegate yarn to being "the other stash"?

More importantly... how do I convince Bandit to buy an airtight storage container to store the yarn I leave behind? And should I refrain from promptly buying even more yarn (to keep the rest of the stash company!) at the sheep and wool festival we're going to this afternoon?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Socks Saturday: From Michigan

I got quite a bit of cuff knit while I was traveling, as usual, but haven't gotten much knit since then. I'm visiting friends in Michigan, and there have been so many activities that the only chance I've gotten to knit was on the car ride to the grocery store. I took a picture of the sock while out having coffee with one of them. (Excuse the cell phone picture.)

The flight attendant, on seeing my knitting and asking what it was, remarked that she'd once seen a woman on a flight knitting a hat out of "yak hair". The fact that there are actually qiviut knitters out in the wild, knitting in public, and that I am but two degrees of separation from one, makes me so happy.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Quick update.

I woke up at 7:30 AM to go to the airport for the second time in two days, and I packed too much and my flight is delayed and typing this on my tiny laggy iPhone screen takes forever, but none of this matters because I have YARN. Honestly, knitting is the absolute best way to deal with all the travel I do. Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to show you socks(-in-progress)!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A time for birthdays.

August, among my friends, seems to be the time for birthdays. Not exactly the optimal time to gift knitted items, but, well... given my knitting speed (and gift-giving speed - Bandit just got his birthday present, a month late) I'm rather lucky to have friends who will overlook a little tardiness. (Pickle, I promise I will start your socks soon. Right after I recover from sock burnout.)

I wasn't exactly expecting to finish Luna's birthday present early, therefore, but since I'm leaving town the day before her birthday party, I figured I should I pick it up after the Ravellenics. After so many days of tightly-knit alpaca on tiny needles, picking up a mohair lace project on size 8s felt like knitting with telephone poles. Fast telephone poles. I finished the cowl in one day, and cast off. Then the castoff was too tight, so I spent another day carefully picking it out - very, very difficult to do with mohair, but not technically impossible - and casting off again using larger needles and a different technique.

In the midst of all this, Bandit and I took Amy to Blazing Needles, where she attempted to sneakily purchase the surprise gift that several people had pooled money for while Bandit distracted me. I caught on to what they were doing almost immediately. In the interests of preserving my dignity, I will state that I was the very paragon of patience, and did not, in any way, shape, or form, proceed to whine, plead, and make puppydog eyes at people until they allowed me to open my present before my actual birthday. I also certainly did not purchase a skein of pure silk yarn in a lovely molten-gold colorway and attempt to bribe Amy with it. (Bandit purchased it. I tried to stop him. That man's credit-card-sneaking skills have increased greatly.)

When everyone was gathered together at Amy's house for dinner, I opened my present to find...

Two skeins of emerald-green Malabrigo worsted, a skein of Madeleine Tosh fingering yarn, a skein of Shibui mohair, a Clover row counter and a pair of Puppy Snips. I think my mission to introduce Amy to high-end yarns has succeeded, and I'm proud of her most excellent taste.

Everyone who was a part of this - again, thank you so very much. I will enjoy working with these yarns and tools for a long time to come, possibly even to turn them into lovingly handcrafted items for your own birthdays. (They may be a little late. I'll try to get better about that.)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Socks Saturday: Done!

As of 10:30 MDT last night, I am done with these socks.

Well, except for washing and blocking and weaving in ends. (Not necessarily in that order.)

Vital Stats
(I got to wondering, while I was knitting these, just how much time and stitchery went into them to make them seem this interminable.)

Sock Size: 12EEEE
Knitting Timespan: 15 days
Knitting Speed: Around 28 st/min on stockinette, around 24 st/min for ribbing. This meant that most rounds of 96 st took me 5 minutes at full speed.
Number of Stitches: ...Oh boy. Let's do a little math.
Cast-on: 96 st
Cuff Garter Rib (30 rows): 2880
Cuff Plain Rib (25 rows): 2400
Heel Flap (50 rows of 48 st): 2400
Heel Turn: 275 (I won't detail what kind of mental contortions I went through to produce this number.)
Gusset: 3458 (ditto.)
Foot (60 rows): 5760
Toe: 1464
...leaving 24 stitches (12 on each needle) to Kitchener, which I'm not sure how to count. Let's call it 24. This results in a total of 18757 stitches.

Per sock.

Since I did indeed knit two socks, that means I've knit 37514 stitches over the past fifteen days. A rough estimate of time and speed based on this would suggest that I spent (at least!) 1875 minutes, or 31 and a quarter hours on these socks. (Probably much, much more, since I don't spend very much time at my full knitting speed.)

And now that these socks are finally done and duly entered for Ravellenic consideration, I'm free to pick up the Radiance shawl again, or work on Luna's birthday present, or -

Or something even larger and more unwieldy than what I just finished, yes -

Fine. I surrender.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Ravellenics, Day 14: Home stretch.

All through this weekend, I grumbled through knitting the heel flap on the second sock and turning the heel, calculating how much time it would take to finish these socks. Then all of a sudden...

I can see the finish line.

The second sock (the one on the right) is still twenty rows behind the first one, but it's getting pretty darned close. And my remaining yarn, though reduced to a flimsy gutted-out shell that has started to spit up little tangles of yarn barf, just might pull through and turn out to be enough for toes. Even if it's not, though, I don't care. I have spare contrast yarn, and the important thing is that I'll be done soon.

I'm so close to finishing that I can practically taste it. (It tastes like alpaca.)

Monday, August 6, 2012

Knitting in the mountains.

For some time now, I've been asking Bandit if we could take a day trip into the mountains, and yesterday we finally got the chance.

Now, I just want to make one thing clear. Having spent my childhood in North Dakota and then grown up on the Eastern seaboard, for most of my life I regarded mountains as just another kind of geographical feature, much like a lake or an ocean. I knew that you can drive a while out to see a lake or an ocean, and it's kind of pretty, and your parents take entirely too many pictures for what the sight actually warrants. If you, like me, have never lived anywhere with mountains, you might assume that this is what mountains are like too. It's not. I learned this when I moved out west for grad school. Mountains... impose. They're always there, grand and majestic and comforting. You don't need to drive out to see them. They're a part of your everyday life. (You can also use them to quickly and easily determine the cardinal directions, which is an unspeakable blessing if you've grown up with parents who seem to have compasses in their heads. Compasses calibrated slightly differently.)

You learn to love your mountains, love them dearly. These are my mountains, and I'm very proud of them. The mountains where Bandit used to live, in my opinion, are not quite so impressive. The mountains where he lives now, I initially wrote off as not all that impressive either, but after living here for some time (rather closer to the mountain range than where that picture was taken) I had to admit that they were quite something.

Mountains make for excellent day trips. Everything changes so quickly as you drive into passes and under sheer cliff faces and over shallow sunrippling streams. We drove through Big Cottonwood Canyon, and even though I'd brought my knitting, I barely even touched it for half an hour as I just stared out and around at the mountains. We parked at Solitude, which in the winter is a ski resort and in the summer is... apparently the site of a premiere culinary event and fundraiser to help fight hunger. Though we acknowledged it was a fine cause, the tickets were a bit pricey for us and our impromptu day trip. So we rode the chairlift up to the top of the peak instead.

Chairlifts are fun. It was very quiet as we swayed our gentle way up, and Bandit told me stories about all the ski trips he'd ever been on where someone he knew dropped a pole or got hit from behind by a chair. We lamented the fact that neither of us had thought to bring a camera more advanced than a smartphone, and I wondered aloud whether I could get some sort of achievement for knitting on a chairlift. He dissuaded me by pointing out the heartbreak that would inevitably result if I dropped my yarn.

The view from the top was magnificent. It was difficult to try to capture it with a phone picture, especially as the sun was so bright that the screen was barely visible.

We discovered several hiking trails, and picked one that promised to lead us towards a lake.

It was a short but surprisingly challenging hike, especially when we got to a slope that must have been at least at a 30-degree incline. We rested often and drank plenty of water. When we finally got to the lake, it was a little disappointing - just a little green pond, with a patch of long grasses growing at the center. But we rested for a long time there and watched the groundhogs and chipmunks. We were there so long that a chipmunk actually jumped onto Bandit's leg. (He got an achievement for this, I'm sure.)

The chairlift ride down was just as relaxing, if somewhat less tranquil because of the sun, which had come out in full force (I have a sunburn on one shoulder now), and the distant megaphone din of the auction that was going on in the event tents below. We got some ice cream and ate it slowly, cooling down, then drove home talking about how this had been a good idea and how, perhaps, in the winter we'd come back and go skiing. I managed to get a little bit of knitting done at last.

Then we got home and played Warcraft 3.

(Since we're both huge Blizzard dorks fans, there were plenty of the obligatory "IN THE MOUNTAINS!" shoutouts throughout the day. It's mandatory. Trust me.)

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Socks Saturday: Ravellenics Day 9

Today is the precise midpoint of the Ravellenics (and the Olympics). It'd be fair to say that I've started getting a more accurate idea of how much I can actually knit over seventeen days. Two pairs of socks, a shawl, and various WIPs to be picked up or taken apart? Turns out that's just a tad ambitious, even for me.

What I do think I can get done in seventeen days, though:

I'm starting to get worried about running out of yarn to finish these, so I placed the first sock on my spare size 1s (the bamboo needles. I haven't knitted anything with them yet because I fear they'll snap. Heck, I've already started bending my steel 1s just from regular use). Then I dug out the other end of the yarn from the center of the cake, and cast on the second sock. I figure I'll knit up to the same point, then see how much of the cake I have left and whether I'll need to find some different yarn for contrasting toes.

I've never actually knit from the center of a cake before. Only ever from the outside. I'm not sure I like this - the yarn tends to overtwist much faster when knitting from the center, and I'm constantly worried that the cake will just collapse in on itself as I keep knitting. As it is, the gutted cake is currently just a thick-squished shell of a cylinder, with a hollow in the center large enough for me to fit my wrist through.

Looking back on these socks, though, it's still hard to envision just how much time I've actually invested into them. I still have the mental estimation of "oh, they're socks, they're small, just a few hours". Maybe I should time my knitting sometime.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ravellenics, Day 6

Really? That can't be right. It's been six days already?

Well, here's what I have to show for myself so far...

...Yeah. Maybe I knit a little bit slower than I think. (Maybe I should restrain my ambitions to just finishing the two pairs of socks. Or maybe just one pair. Or maybe just this one sock.)

Granted, I haven't just been sitting and knitting for five days straight, either. There were social obligations and get-togethers on Friday, Saturday and Sunday that, while all knitting-friendly, all distracted me with the novelty of such concepts as social interaction. (I've never heard of it before, have you?) Then on Monday, I got hit by cramps like a truck and couldn't even decide whether to pick up my knitting for half a day. Yesterday was better. Today, now, today I have tea, a new audiobook, and several hours of time to myself. We'll see if I can get to the toe by the time Bandit gets home.

Meanwhile, Radiance has been languishing near the 50% mark.

It feels like miles of lace.

And I'm trying to resist the lure of all the materials readied and set aside for Jo's Pride.

I have the tiniest crochet hook for the beading. Honestly, can you even see the hook?

I don't actually have to wait to finish Radiance to cast on Jo's Pride, you know. I could cast it on on size 4s. Or 6s. I would have enough extra yarn to make up the difference in sizing. I could cast it on right now...