Wednesday, September 12, 2012


It's a cold, gray, rainy day.

Perfect time to take a long, hot shower, then curl up with an audiobook and some knitting.

Today's the day for Radiance. Even the name is apt. I've been "just finishing up" Radiance for a while now. I've actually knit past where the pattern would have me bind off, because I'd like to use up all the laceweight. I'm terrible at thinking up little things to knit that would use up half-skein remainders, and besides, I like largish shawls. So I'm putting on some extra rows at the end, and carefully weighing my remaining yarn after each row to watch for when I should start casting off.

I love my yarn scale. It was a fairly inexpensive postage/kitchen scale, and it's been invaluable for determining how much yardage I have left in partially used skeins. You take a look at the original yardage and weight listed for one skein, weigh how much you have left, do a little division and there you go. No more guessing.

Currently I'm using an average of one gram of yarn per row, and anticipating using three grams for the picot bind-off. Considering how much yarn I have left... these extra few rows may turn out to be quite a lot. I may have to do an increase row, to make a ruffle with more stitches per row. Good thing my audiobook is 43 hours long.

Monday, September 10, 2012


I have a budget now.

Not just a yarn budget, though there's that. I have a spreadsheet with my estimated monthly total expenses all totted up - rent, utilities, food, various subscriptions - and I try to hold myself to my spending limits. Especially in terms of food. I haven't really settled back down into my academic-year routine in my own apartment yet, so instead of getting groceries and cooking for myself I'm still eating out much of the time.

Today my spreadsheet looks pretty sad, despite the fact that technically I'm still on track for the month. Today was the day I paid the internet and electric bills, ordered flowers to be delivered for my mother's birthday, went out to my favorite brunch place... and figured out the bus route to the nearest LYS, Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins.

Now, I have $50 of wiggle room each month. At first I called it my yarn budget. Then it became my "yarn and books" budget. After that, when I started eyeing video games, it expanded to become "entertainment". Earlier this morning, when I realized there was no convenient place to register the cost of my mother's birthday flowers, it became "miscellaneous".

$50 worth of yarn a month is quite a lot, I would have thought. Downright self-indulgent, actually. But when the yarn has to make room within that $50 to share budget space with books, games, and flower deliveries where the shipping and handling fees cost nearly as much as the blooms themselves?

Knowing this, I wasn't going to buy anything today. No. Not a thing. I was just going to look around and touch yarn. But everything was so lovely inside, and there was so much to choose from, and the longer I stayed the more I thought it would be rude to leave - especially after taking a bus specifically to get here - without buying anything, and besides, I had a new project idea...

Well. I am now very, very slightly over my yarn miscellaneous budget for the month. And what did I buy, you ask?

I can't show you. It's a surprise.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Sock Toes Saturday

Well, for the second time in about a week, my computer has revolted. The first time it was a pretty clear case of malware; this time I fear something might have gone wrong with the hard drive itself. After a system restore, the computer is mostly functional. Mostly.

You know, I'd call myself a computer-addicted person without hesitation, but it really isn't until my computer goes wrong that I feel the full force of it. Having your computer betray me feels almost like having my left arm suddenly refuse to cooperate. The one good thing about all the diagnostics and diskchecking is that it's the perfect time to knit. You can't do anything else that would take you away from the computer, and you can't simply sit and stare at the computer until you scream at it. Knitting is my enforced meditation. As long as I don't need to take a look at the next line in the pattern that I can't access.

This is why Radiance is still lingering with a few rows left until completion (although I may try to extend the last ruffle until I use up all my remaining yarn). I've cast on for my mother's hat instead. I'm trying out Judy's Magic Cast-On for the first time, as practice for future toe-up socks, and I'd just like to say that I have a few quibbles about the description.

"It's an easy to learn, fast method that starts at the very end of the toe and works the first time, every time."

Yes, it's easy to learn. Yes, it's pretty fast. Yes, of course, it starts at the end of the toe. But does it work the first time and every time?

That was my second attempt. While I was trying to knit the first row with the top two DPNs, the bottom two merrily unraveled the stitches they were holding. Yes, that's very much within the realm of user error, as was my first attempt, in which I wrapped the yarn so tightly I simply could not knit into the stitches. My third attempt also ended in failure due to circular cables tangling together. But when I finally got it together on my fourth try?

Beautiful and seamless.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

One at a time.

After this weekend's frogfest, I'm actually finding it quite relaxing to have only one WIP to worry about. Radiance is the only thing on the needles right now, and and it's almost done - just ten (very long) rows to go! It looks like I'll have quite a bit of the second cake of Malabrigo lace left over, which makes me wonder whether I should tack on an extra row or two to the shawl before casting off.

Next up? Well, my mother's birthday is later this month, so I've started swatching for the hat I plan to knit for her.

The yarn is Road To China Light by The Fiber Company, and it's a gorgeously soft blend of alpaca, silk, camel and cashmere. In the background is the black 100% angora yarn that I want to work in to the headband. For this hat I'm not following a pattern, just going to cut my teeth on Judy's Magic Cast-On at the top and increase on my way down. I'm trying out a couple different cable widths in the swatch, and all of them come out very nicely - soft, but still defined.

And after that? Probably socks.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Unsocks Saturday.

Well, I was going to be all devious, and show you the swatch I knitted for Amy's socks so as to present some sock-related material without having to work on Pickle's socks. I started the swatch on size 1s, and immediately fell in love with it - it was just such a smooth knit. The almost silklike texture of the yarn, the bright and beautiful color changes, the velvety smoothness of my HiyaHiyas... I'm not a big believer in brand loyalty when it comes to needles, but everything I've knit on these particular needles has just flown by.

Anyway, I was doing very well, just churning along, and then I decided to try out the lace motif I was thinking of incorporating into the socks, and see if it worked well with the colors. (The Commelina that's still sitting unfrogged is my personal proof that sometimes, a beautiful colorway and a beautiful pattern equal something very unfortunate.) So I knit a lace row, and discovered that I had miscounted my total number of stitches, making the lace pattern off-center. This vexed me, but it was only a handful of stitches to tink. I fixed it, finished my row, knit a plain row, and knit another lace row. This time I discovered, near the end of the row, that I had once again miscentered the lace motif, this time in the opposite direction.

I frogged the swatch, because honestly, what kind of person makes two knitting mistakes in a gauge swatch?

I did try to take gauge before frogging the swatch entirely. It turns out that lace patterns will manipulate and shift the positions of stitches many rows under where the actual lace starts. More unraveling, to try to fix that, resulted in a swatch far too small to measure anything on. I gave up and put it all away again. That's what comes of trying to attempt a new project even though I clearly stated I would do something else (my mother's hat) first.

So then I pulled out Pickle's sock again, and looked at it.

I thought of how much of it I had already knit, how much time and planning had gone into it already. I thought about the fact that it's a personalized birthday gift. I thought of how much I already had to apologize for - starting it so late, knitting so slowly on it, piling so much abuse on it.

Then I frogged it.

Never mind all the work already in it, and never mind the fact that I was getting perfect gauge on size 2s. I wasn't going to keep doing something I hated and then try to give it away as a gift. I was going to knit these socks on smaller needles (they were awfully thin and gappy), with more interesting patterning, and I was going to like it.

I also frogged the Commelina while I was at it.

And then I had a four-and-a-half-hour-long lesson about why you should never let frogged yarn spaghetti up like that.