Saturday, May 26

Stomping the Grape

I was going to take some time off this weekend from stitching projects, get some housework done, and just generally chill out. Nice thought, I guess. The siren song of the grape yarn lured me away. I was just going to do the toe, you understand - not go any further. I wanted to do it while the success on the Blasted Pink was still fresh in my mind. (Nice excuse, huh?) First go on the toe, it was technically a "success" but esthetically, left a great deal to be desired. Frog.

Second go, I don't know where my mind was, but it surely wasn't anywhere near my knitting needles. I have no idea *how* I did it - I really should figure it out because it would make a world-famous invisible decrease - but three sets of turns away from the finish of the toe, I discovered that I had 'lost' 6 stitches. I searched frantically for dropped stitches, but there weren't any. The Disappeared Ones did so symmetrically, 3 on each side, but totally invisibly - they just vanished into thin air! This did create a really oddly shaped toe, however. Frog.

Then the Tsarina got into a discussion of "lifelines" on her blog, which I had never heard of and had to look up - and it has changed my life forever. What a brilliant concept! I put it into practice on try #3 on the toe, placing the lifeline in the row where I started to go back up the toe from the tip (incrementing the number of live stitches each row). Placing the lifeline must have appeased the frog, because this time it went without a hitch.

Not wanting to leave the Grape in such a precarious situation, I decided to go ahead and knit the first couple of rounds on the whole sock. That went so well, I thought it couldn't hurt anything to just *set* the pattern row, could it?

I didn't want to leave *that* on the needles, either, because it might stretch the yarn permanently, just sitting there with all that tension on those stitches, so I knit out the first repeat of the pattern. Then it looked so lonesome that I had to knit a companion for it, didn't I?

Here's the sock, with the first two repeats of the pattern, and ready to start the nifty "hidden" increases my oddly-shaped foot requires.

The left side:

The right side:

And the top of the sock:

I am pleased. It's not a masterpiece, by any means, but I think it's acceptably journeyman quality, which is definitely progress! I have no idea why the picture of the right side looks so strange. I assure you that the short-row stuff looks even better than the left side in reality.

Wednesday, May 23

Before your eyes, that icon of knitterly propriety, the Swatch.

This one is for the grape heather socks I'm starting. It's telling me that I'm knitting 6.25 st. and 8 rows per inch in stockinette. This is very good, as when I was knitting the Baby Sockie, I was getting 7.5 st. and 9 rows, so I've loosened up quite nicely. However, I'm only knitting the toes, heels, and soles in stockinette, so the Swatch is only of marginal use. I don't really feel like knitting another three swatches to take measurements of the various textures I'm going to be using on the rest of the sock. So, I'm going to use the impirical method to get these socks to fit properly.

This is really a very simple procedure. Every so often, at points where, knowing my feet as I do, I think it's needful, I'm going to try the sock on. If it goes on smoothly, so much the better. If it seems a bit tight, I'll increase a couple of stitches in the next row or two. If it's *really* tight, I'll frog back a ways and start increasing there.

However, the socks are going to be put on hold for a short while, as the mail yesterday brought to me the first two of many models I'm going to be cross-stitching for a designer just getting started in Germany. This is actual *paid* work, people! Sheckles in the travel fund. Not many, alas, but better than none. Therefore, I shall be cross-stitching for the next few days. I can't even post pictures for you, as the designs haven't been published yet. "Secret" projects!

Tuesday, May 22

Sailing, sailing

The Great and Powerful Wizard of Tsocks has spoken, and I have heeded. As a result, I am now happy with the completed short-row toe!

I'm sorry this picture is as blurry-eyed as I am this morning, but as you can, I hope, see, no holes, no weirdness, just nice smooth sock! It was my intention to knit a few more rows, then turn a heel, but two rows of juggling all the stitch holders and small DPNs in order to knit in the round on a pair of SPs was enough. I'm sure I know what I'm doing now, and see no point in repeating it.

So what was the magic solution? Very simple - instead of worrying about that last wrapped and slipped stitch at the other end of the WS row, go ahead and pick up the stitches for the top of the sock from the provisional cast-on, knit across them, and work that last stitch on the WS row as a knit stitch now, then continue on knitting across the stitches for the sole of the sock. Simple, obvious, once it's pointed out - and a lesson in not overly complicating things!

So instead of juggling stitch holders, I started swatching for the first "real" sock! Memo to self - do *not* fall asleep whilst knitting on DPNs: the face making contact with the sharp pointy ends of all those things is not a pleasant way to reawaken! I'm swatching again, even though this sock is knit in the same yarn as the Baby Sockie, just a different color (Grape heather), because my tension has, I think, changed considerably. As the Great and Powerful etc. pointed out to me earlier, I was knitting very tightly, and I didn't realize *how* tightly until I did the ribbing on the Baby Sockie. I loosened it up considerably, so need to re-swatch.

I will be posting progress reports on the sock, but not in nearly the detail as this angst over the short-row technique. I'm going to try to establish some sort of schedule, so knitting posts will be one day, embellished crazy quilting another, cross-stitch a third, and so forth. (Is that laughter I hear from up there in the peanut gallery?)

Be of good heart - it's Tuesday, and you survived yesterday!

Monday, May 21

Knitting Onward with Determination

We left our plucky girl knitter at the end of the last slip, wrap, slip, and turn - ready to start knitting the 14 live stitches. In the first picture, that's exactly what's been done, and now we're ready to pick up that first wrapped stitch and knit it.

And here, in picture 2, it is done, and ready to slip, wrap, slip, on the next stitch, then turn the work.

Here in pic#3, that has been done. You can see the working yarn coming out from between the first two stitches on the RN, being held down vertically.

Repeat 12 times, bringing us to pic #4, the end of the last RS row, with one wrapped stitch still remaining at the beginning of this row, and with the two rows from the "set-up" just hanging there in mid-air. This, I suspect, is close to the root of my problem. Up to this point, I think I have done it right.

Sunday, May 20

I am Determined

I refuse to be defeated by this short-row toe and heel business. If I can teach myself how to knit Aran cables and intarsia, this simply cannot be too difficult to be accomplished. Can it???

I have to confess right now that the picture of the Baby Sockie is of the good side, where the mistakes aren't really too obvious. You don't want to see the other side, if it still existed, which it doesn't. At any rate, it seems clear to me that I am behind the learning curve on this arcane art. So, I'm going to let the whole wide world, or such small portion of it as has discovered this blog, teach me! Clever, yes?

What I have done is a crochet provisional cast on of 28 stitches, using Caron Simply Soft and US#10 SP needles, so everything should be real easy to see, provided I can take a half-way decent picture that is. At the end of this section, there will be a short interval until I can find and buy a set of #10 DPNs (unless I get REALLY stupid, and slip stitches on and off smaller DPNs so that I'd end up knitting each 7 stitch section from and onto the SPs. I may get that desperate, but I hope not!)

The first picture is of that cast-on, then, switching to the "real" yarn, k 1 row, turn, and p 1 row. Simple enough, and I'm confident that there are no errors as yet.

Picture the second is of that same swatch, 14 rows later, with 7 stitches wrapped and slipped on each end, and 14 live stitches in the middle.

This is the left-hand side of the swatch, with the 7 wrapped and slipped stitches, plus some of the live ones.

This is the right-hand side of the swatch, with the seven wrapped and slipped stitches on the right needle, and ready to start picking up the slipped stitches again.

Again, I am reasonably confident that I am still on the right track, with no errors. Now it's time to start picking up the wrapped stitches and knitting them back into the work. That's the next post.

Saturday, May 19

The Baby Sockie

is finished, or at least I'm done messing with it. For one thing, if I frog it any more, the yarn is going to die, I think. I've learned all I can from it, and by the time you read this, in all likelihood the sockie will have undergone its final frog, and the yarn will be rewound onto the ball. I like this yarn too much to waste it on a learning sample. I am still not happy with the short-row business, and need to try yet another approach to it. I *must* be doing something wrong without being aware of it - so I'm going to work on it in a larger scale, and see what comes of it. I also, selfishly, want to be able to document what I come up with when I follow the instructions, before I start "fiddling", as I have done many times on the sockie, to try to fix things, so I can show pictures to my mentor. I absolutely *must* master this short-row technique, because there are too many things out there that use it that I want to knit!

The picture is bluer on my monitor than the actual yarn, which is a lovely heathery green/grey color, but my monitor is screwed up and shows everything bluer than it really is. I hope the true color comes through for you. I meant to put something in the picture to show you the scale of the sockie, but I forgot, and I'm too lazy to set it all up again to take another picture. To give you an idea, the sockie measures 5 1/2" from the front of the toe to the back of the heel, and is 36 stitches in the round. It was knit toe-up on #2 DPNs with Jennifer's Super-Strong-Sock, in Sage Heather, pattern is Tsocks 101 with short-row toe and heel.
A bit of history is in order here, I think, about me. I learned to knit as a kid, many moons ago, but I put my needles down in 1969, when motherhood, with a usually absent (and now ex-) husband, overcame knitting time. I haven't touched them since (though I have been doing other needlework), until about two months ago, when, wandering from blog to blog, I found the Yarn Harlot. Her links have led to some really fantastic people out there in Knitopia, and I'm really glad to be meeting them and renewing my acquaintance with knitting.

Thursday, May 17

So Much for That Idea

I had intended to go to the post office today, but changed my mind. Why? I'm so glad you asked - it means I can demonstrate that I loaded the camera software, so I can now post photos! So here's #1.
What you're looking at is the view from my front porch around 11AM this morning. That greyish haze is not artifact or poor photograpy. The wind has shifted again, and that's smoke from the fires burning in Okeefenokee and points south. It's much thicker now, with places in town with visibility measured at less than a quarter mile.
This is not good stuff to breathe for any length of time, especially for one with lung problems. So as long as it looks like that, yours truly remains indoors, with all the nice filtered air.
If y'all will excuse me now, I'm going to do some knitting, and hopefully I'll be able to show you some progress next post!

Wednesday, May 16

Something Old, Something New...

The something old is me, as in -er than dirt, but the something new was indeed a new experience for me. I was a training aid for grocery store cashiers!
As I was struggling to get a jug of half'n'half out of the dairy case and into the small basket on my power scooter, a store employee approached me and asked if I could help her. After we got the jug squirreled away, she explained that she was the Training Supervisor for the grocery chain, they were training new cashiers, and would I be willing to give them a hand, as experience dealing with "the handicapped" (I *swear*, that's what she said!) was hard to come by. Being more than willing to increase the knowledge quotient of the Muggles, I agreed. Seems all I had to do was be "normal", except that I needed to explain what I was doing, and why, as I did it, when I checked out. (I had almost finished my shopping, see list below, which is why, I think, she approached me.) The trainees were not going to know that I was a training aid, which added to the fun.
As I approached the checkout, loaded to the gunwales, I tuned the facial expression to "bright and perky", the mouth to "free-form babble", and saw the TS tell a flock of the chicks to come "help" me. It was a hoot, watching those eager young'un's expressions, as we unloaded from the scooter:
4 lbs. pork chops
6 lbs. chicken breasts
1 gal. milk
1 box Wheaties
2 cucumbers
1 green pepper
1 bunch bananas
10 lbs. potatoes
2 lbs. sliced ham
1 lb. sliced corned beef
12 pkgs. ramen
2 loaves bread
18 lb. bag cat chow
large jug Tidy Cats Small Spaces litter
wrapped "to go" deli dinner
and the 1/2 gal jug of half'n'half
The girl running the cash register was so flustered, she asked me three separate times if I had my savings card with me. The second and third times, I had to tell her she had already scanned it. It was the baggers, though, that were the most entertainment. Keep in mind, now, that my mouth has been running almost non-stop through all of this, and was continuing, now explaining to the baggers how to pack the stuff. First thing to load on the scooter is the litter, which goes under the front part of the seat, lying on its' side, with the potatoes on top of it. Then the big bag of cat chow goes in front of that, between my legs. The meats all go in one bag, and, with the milk, fill the rear basket. The half'n'half and the veggies go in the front basket, keeping company with the bag of veggies already there from my previous stop at the produce market down the street, and filling it. The bread, Wheaties, and ramen go in bags hung from the arms of the seat. The deli dinner goes on top of the cat chow bag, where I can keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't dump over. One of the baggers asked if it wouldn't be much simpler to just put the groceries in a regular cart, which he would be happy to push out to the parking lot and load into my car for me. So I got to explain to him that, in common with most people who live in (on?) scooters, I didn't HAVE a car, but that yes, if I did have a car, it would be infinitely simpler. I departed the check-out and the store, with an honor guard of six of the chicklets, and finally, at long last, was able to *shut up*! It was fun, though, popping misconceptions and amazing the masses.

Tuesday, May 15


This is why you shouldn't rush these things - not that it would have made any difference in this case. I think the comments are fixed now, at least for the future. Cross my fingers!

Monday, May 14

I was going to just blow this off until tomorrow at the earliest, but *dear* Tsarina (of sock fame) had to go tell the world I finally had a blog, so I feel it incumbent on me to put *something* here. So I'll tell you why I was going to blow it off.

I wanted the first post to be something at least interesting, if not completely spectacular. What to do? How about a picture of the materials for the new mystery sampler in The Gift of Stitching? That would work, and the Blue Spruce Jobelan is a yummy color. Unfortunately, I received a note from Colleen that some of my latest thread order was on backorder, and would be shipped as soon as it was available. And of course the Wisper for the sampler was one of them. So much for THAT idea.

Then I thought to simply post a picture of my first rather pathetic attempt at a toe-up sock, the baby sock from Tsocks 101, authored by the aforementioned Tsarina. If you have never knit socks before, this little primer will teach you everything you need to know about the basic process, either toe-up or cuff-down, with different types of toes and heels,, and the logic behind the sock process, so you'll be able to fit your socks to YOUR feet, instead of the designer's concept of a foot, along with some delicious side commentary. However, the poor little baby sockie is having a fit of the sullens after being thrown at the wall and then visiting the pond for the second time on the heel turning, after three froggings (and still not right) of the toe, so it looks rather like a small bag, not the least inspiring, informative, or pleasant to look upon. I hasten to point out that this is not the fault of the directions, but of the thumb-fingered idiot behind the needles, aka yours truly. I keep screwing up the picking up of the wraps, usually on the last row or two of the turning. I still haven't figured out exactly how the mechanics of the wrapped, then knit, stitches work, so I'm helpless to pick up a dropped stitch, and therefore must frog all the way back to where I know what I'm doing again.

Or, I could post a picture of my major WIP in cross-stitch, an exquisite Christmas Stocking designed by the wonderful Ellen Maurer-Stroh. But I want to save that for another day.

Or, I could post pictures of all the animated fur in this zoo, and fear not, I *will* do that, but not the first day...

Or, I could rhapsodize, with photos, about the newly re-opened produce market that closed last month to the dismay of two generations of local produce shoppers. The new ownership/management is going to be a worthy successor to this neighborhood tradition, I think. Or, I could if I had taken the stupid camera with me to take pictures.

But all of these depend on showing pictures, right? So I got my new digital camera last week, and, while the basic auto mode is fairly easy to figure out, anything more involved, and this camera is very involved, really needs the manual for reference. Alas, the manufacturer somehow neglected to include such a thing. I have written to them, both e- and snail-, in hopes of getting something *done* about this. But even if I *had* the manual, and the fancy pictures, I still couldn't blog them because I've been too busy to upload the processing software and install the needed USB cable so the camera will talk to the computer.

I hope you enjoyed this little preview of coming attractions. In a way, this is probably the perfect post to start this blog, now I think about it. It is a pretty damn typical situation around here, after all. Welcome to my world!