Friday, April 21, 2006

In which everything shows up

This morning, as with every morning for the past freakin' several weeks, I visited the Chapters/Indigo website to check out whether any shops were yet carrying the Yarn Harlot's third book. I was absolutely stunned to discover that YES, they were. At lunch I popped out and snagged a copy. To find it, I had to ask for help from a salesperson, who actually turned out to be another Harlot fan! Very cool.

I spent the rest of my lunch (about a half hour) reading the book and got as far as page 72 before I had to grumblingly trundle back to my desk and earn a living. Needless to say, it's a good book. Not as laugh-out-loud funny as her previous books (although the bit about identifying another knitter by the poked-through holes in her purse - so true - really tickled my funnybone), but it's a wonderful, chummy, informative, light-hearted guide to being a knitter. I expect to enjoy the rest of it immensely.

But wait...there's more!

When I got back to my desk, there was a message from my husband, telling me that my yarn order had arrived! Stunned! It was only shipped, like, Wednesday? Fantastic. I could not wait to get home tonight, rip that package open and glory in multiple balls of sock yarn. Whee.

Here we have the Step yarn (infused with soothing oils) sitting on top of all the Invicta Extra that I'll be using for socks for my husband and father, with my new 3mm circular sitting next to it all. Ahhh.

Taupe socks for Dad
The astute among you may have noticed that there is no royal blue yarn in my photo of my latest purchases, even though I had said I ordered some. In its place, there is taupe yarn. Here is how that came about:

Earlier in the week, DH called me at work to tell me that Yarn Forward had called to say that the royal blue colour I ordered for these socks had been discontinued and that I needed to call them back to tell them what they should do about my order. I was pretty bummed - the colour sample of the royal blue had looked fantastic on my screen and I'd been really looking forward to knitting it up. But, what can you do. There were no other colours that really jumped out at me and screamed, "Your dad would love me!" so I called my mom.

My mom revealed that my dad really, really likes taupe socks. Apparently he's been wearing a lot of clothes lately in the beige/taupe/cream spectrum and likes socks to match - or some story along those lines. I wasn't really paying attention, I was concentrating on scanning through the online colour card for something vaguely taupe-ish. I did indeed spot something - colour #1344, which turned out to be entitled, of all things, 'taupe'. Love it. I thanked my mom, got off the phone, and immediately dialed Yarn Forward back.

The friendly and entirely competent person on the other end of the phone was surprised to hear back from me so soon.

"I really want the yarn," I explained.

"Clearly!" came the response.

So, taupe it is. In person, this colour is a little more pink than I had bargained for, but my dad's pretty secure in his manhood, and also kind of oblivious to colour subtleties when it comes to clothes, so odds are he won't mind.

Self-striping socks for Mom
My only concern, now that I've handled the yarn, is that even with the oils, the Step yarn might give my mother scratchiness. I'm nervous. But we'll see. I am, of course, still going to make the socks.

Herald tabard for moi
I want to thank rachel very much for her heartening comments and advice. She is right, felted stuff can be cut and sewn willy-nilly to ensure the correct fit. I need these kinds of reassurances because I felted the tabard again last night and it is still too big, even though it did shrink some more and the front is not horribly oversized anymore. I think I'm going to run it through the felting process one more time, and then call it quits.

If the neckline is still slipping off my shoulders after that, I'll do some kind of fix. Either I'll knit up a garter stitch neckband, felt it and sew it to the tabard, or I'll run some cotton thread around the neckline on the wrong side and try and 'tighten up' the neck that way. Something will work. Something has to work. I've come too far not to get a usable tabard out of this mess. Because dammit, Tanya, you're right, it is a cool project. :) If only I could get it to work right...

Self-designed baby hat/mitts set
This project (which is on The Schedule, so I'm being good) is part of the larger ongoing plan to write a book of knitting patterns. As usual with a pattern I want to sell, I won't be displaying pictures of how it's coming along, but I can tell you that it's a matched set of baby-sized scratch mittens and a hat, with lots of nifty-lookin' colourwork. I worked up the design some time ago but hadn't sat down and actually swatched it...until yesterday.

Sadly, I don't yet have the actual colours I want to use, so I improvised with some substitutions. It didn't turn out half-badly, but I'm definitely going to have to do another test swatch.

The original swatch (which I tried to take to work with me today, but accidentally left on top of the car this morning while getting DD into her car seat, thus leaving it free to fall off the car and sit in the driveway until DH came home and, thankfully, rescued it) was knitted with all the colours stranding across the back. Since I am a masochist, my pattern called for multiple colours per row - often four, and in some spots, as many as five. Fortunately, swatching revealed to me that this was an INSANE thing to ask other knitters to do, to say nothing of how stupid it is to have tons of floats on the back of baby mittens, perfect for getting little fingers caught in them. So I will be doing another swatch - this time with just two colours in each row, and then I will be duplicate stitching the rest of the pattern on. I would never ask knitters to duplicate stitch a motif onto a huge adult sweater pattern, but for baby hats and mitts I think it's reasonable. Added plus: this will add extra thickness to the pattern in some spots, which (given what the pattern looks like) should work really, really nicely.

Next step: getting the right colours of yarn to work with.

Self-patterning socks #2 for DH
When I started this, I was still kind of just getting started on the continental knitting thing, and had discovered that my continental gauge was looser than my English gauge. So, in order to get non-sloppy socks for DH, I cast on for the women's size. (I had good reason to do this - it had worked really well for my first continentally-knit sock project.)

However, I've been getting progressively more savvy about my continental knitting, and I hate to admit it partway into the first sock, but I think my gauge is tightening up. I'm almost finished the top ribbing, so soon I'll be able to try on the sock and see if I'm right. If it fits me nice and snugly closer to the top, I'll know my gauge has indeed tightened and I'll need to do the whole sock over again, this time with a more consistent gauge, in the men's size. The advantage of this is that it will mean my continental gauge is roughly equivalent to my English gauge, which would be terrific. If the sock is sloppy on me, it will mean I don't have to re-knit the sock all over again, but on the other hand, it'll also mean that I still have to do lots more practice until my continental gauge equals my English gauge. So really, it's a win-win situation. Or lose-lose, depending on how you see things.

Self-patterning socks for DD
The further along I knit on the first sock today, the more nervous I got about whether I'd have enough yarn for two socks. I had just two small balls, and the hope theory was that each ball would make one sock. Sadly, in the car on the way home, I ran out of yarn on the first ball right after I turned the heel of the first sock.


I apologized to DD, told her that I didn't have enough yarn to make the socks, and that I'd make her socks out of something else. Fortunately she was pretty cavalier about the whole thing.

And then...when I went to put away the newly-arrived sock yarn in the 'fingering/sock/laceweight wool' boxes...I FOUND MORE OF THE SAME YARN FOR DD'S SOCKS. Two more balls! Each not too much smaller than the original two balls I had! Now I can so totally make her the socks. So I kept going.

(I am so jazzed by the cuteness of this tiny self-patterning sock)

P.S. - This week I discovered that DD is big enough now to fit into this cardigan, so she's worn it a couple of times this week. Witness:

I think it looks great.


Mrs. M. said...

Your kid is gorgeous! As is her sweater, natch. :)

kate said...

Your knitting is beautiful...I found your blog by searching "Secret Garden" because I'm making it right now for my daughter & I have a question about the directions. Could I ask you about it? Yours came out looking totally gorgeous so obviously the directions made sense to you!