Sunday, March 30

Progress proceeds on the blue Azure socks...

Chugging away on the Azure socks, here. This picture was taken night before last. Note how artfully the natural curve of the cord of the circ covers the upper left of the sock on the left. I didn't plan it that way, but it does make the next pic a little more dramatic, I guess.

Here's that covered corner. Do we all see the big, fat, HOLE in the middle of the pattern where it has no right to be? Do we also notice that the nicely established pattern curve just disappears at the same spot? Proof positive that one should NOT sleep whilst knitting! Obviously, Something Must Be Done about this. Sorry the pic is so blurred, but you can still see the problem quite clearly, I think.

Isn't it handy to have all those extra needle tips just hanging there when you're knitting your socks on two circs? One tip is carrying the correct stitches on the left side of the error, the correct stitches on the right side of the error are on the cord where they belong. The bottom needle is holding the stitches down to which (love the grammar!) I frogged. It's the one free (of 5 - the other four are on the Never-Ending Practice Sock) #1 DP, handy for moving the stitches when knitting in the round to fix the goof.

And here's the finished repair! Still not perfect, by any means, but it IS a whole lot less noticeable, and I wrestled with this mess for four hours last night. I am especially proud that I actually REMEMBERED to take these pics in progress! So, Tsarina, it DID happen!

I think I'll go knit some more now, while pretending to watch golf. Bai...

Wednesday, March 26

My Day...

I did laundry.

For a change of pace, I had my annual mammogram this afternoon.

'Nuff said...

Monday, March 24

Hubris or, If At First You Don't Succeed...

This, in case you can't read the ball band, is KnitPicks Essentials sock yarn, Gulfstream color, one skein of which is, obviously, caked already. I was going to post another pic, of BOTH skeins caked, but in retrospect, it seemed redundant, so I didn't. I got it on sale as a clearance color, with the intent of making "everyday" socks with it, whilst learning new techniques. Recall a few days ago (March 12 - Some Days...) I mentioned casting on new socks, experimenting with the Magic Cast-On and knitting them on two circular needles. Well, this is them.

Here is where the plan starts falling apart. These are two circular needles, as specified, in 2.5mm size (US 1+). However, one is a 32" Harmony, and the other is a 47" nickel-plate. Both are LOVELY needles, BTW, though the join on the Harmony is just a tad rough. It's a pleasure to knit with it anyway. However, for purposes of knitting socks, even TWO socks, they are, shall we say, overlong? It's like knitting with half an octopus! I intend to replace them as soon as practicable, with 24" needles. I'm going to get another 32", though, just in case that seems to work better, as I am getting used to the spacing on that needle.

I cast on on March 13th - and frogged - and on the 14th - and frogged - and on each and every day since then, up to night before last, I cast on - and frogged. Tension on the Magic Cast On is more important than one is led to expect. It helped a great deal that a discussion of different techniques for casting on without needing short-rows was conducted on Ravelry (the Tsock Flock group) in which the necessity for an initial slip-knot was derided. The arguments against using it seemed cogent to me, so I decided to omit it. Should you decide likewise, I strongly suggest you handle the first loop of the cast on as though the yarn was already coming from the previous stitch, i.e. get that twist into the loop! It makes things mucho easier.

This is either the second or third attempt, I don't remember which. I'm getting the tension down pretty good, but it still has the slipknot loop start. If you look closely (click on the pic to biggen it a bit) you can see the toe tip forming, and the complete invisibility of the cast-on. I likes it! This part of the learning process actually went pretty smoothly, especially in comparison to the two-socks-on-two-circs farce.

Once upon a time, back in my youth, I could read a set of directions once, and follow them with no further need to reference them, and produce the desired result. Alas, senility is creeping in, and this is manifestly no longer the case. I have no idea what I was doing, but I think, among other things, that I learned how to do the Magic Loop, because at one point I ended up with all four sides of sock on one needle. I tried, at one point or another, every possible combination of socks and needles, including one weird cross-wise thing that had the top of one sock on the same needle as the bottom of the other sock, and the bottom of the first sock on the other needle with the top of the second sock, and needing to knit both from the middle out.

Fortunately, I was struck by a blinding light, and realized that if I thought of the two needles as the circumferences of two dinner plates stacked one on top of the other, with the socks trapped between them, it all became pelucidly clear. See?

And here's a closer look at one of the socks.

Here's a cheerful sort of thing to start your week with. The view last Saturday, looking up from my computer chair out the window...

Friday, March 21

Spring Hath Sprung!

And though technically, by clock time, it is no longer the first day of Spring, if you go by astronomical time, it IS still the first day of Spring, so I'm not late, so there!

It seems fitting that I should be informed on this day that my Challenge Exchange piece was received by Rolande, and I can therefore finally post the pictures of it! I regret that there is no coin or ruler to indicate scale, but I took the pics for gallery purposes on the EMS board, where such things "aren't done", don't ask me why. Suffice it to say that the piece, in finished and closed form, is a 3" square. It's stitched on very pale (think early Spring early morning sky) blue, 32 ct. Lugana, using 2 strands of regular DMC floss.

Here's the stitching part, completed, and ready to be finished into the needlebook.

The inside and outside of the finished book:

For some strange reason, I couldn't get a decent picture of the lining fabric, but you can get a hint of it under the blue felt "pages". It's a swirly scrolly design in shades of gold, with a touch of metallic gold accents.

And in somewhat different format, the front and back of the finished book:

And yes, it's completely hand-sewn from start to finish, not one machine stitch in it. I'm a little braggy about the initials on the back bottom right corner. On the diagonal, and only two threads high!

Happy Spring, y'all!

P.S. I discovered a way to make the pics a little bit bigger, anyway - just click on them, then use your 'back' button to return to this page.

Wednesday, March 19

More Rodentia

Today I "just happened" to go past the computer toys department at Wal-Mart, and this jumped into my cart:

It's a Logitech LZ3 Optical, and in addition to two buttons that both WORK, the scroll wheel has a couple of bells and whistles I'm gonna need to get used to having. If you move the wheel from side to side, it scrolls side to side - no more pointing at bars and clicking and holding and shoving them around! If you click the wheel like a button, it then functions as a zoom. Fun, huh?

I've also got another new toy. In truth, I've had this one for a month, but haven't shown it because of the (*&^^& mouse problems. Remember I said I was going to dole out the goodies the mail person brought? Well, this is another of them.

I can haz yarncakesez naow!

Deliver the yarn! Deliver the yarn! Deliver the yarn! Deliver the yarn! Deliver the yarn!

Wednesday, March 12

Some Days...

You know the kind - the ones where one small glitch occurs, and then it cascades, and snowballs, and before you know it, you're facing utter disaster.

It happened like this - I finished Mouse Tracks last night, after one final marathon day of knitting my brains out, and saving just a tiny bit of the yarn because I have faced my inner demons and I AM going to take Swan Lake apart again, fix the damned mistake (which may necessitate the additional yarn), and reblock it. But I digress already!

Today I ventured into blocking Mouse Tracks. I got the frame assembled with no problems this time, six foot by one, and started to thread the wires and lace it to the frame. Note "started" - I kept dropping the wires because I started at the narrow ends, THEN did the length. Actually, this did work out better than doing it the other way around, but dropsies are the pits! The REAL comedy started when I had it all done to my satisfaction. It blocked out beautifully at just short of six feet long, and seven inches wide.

Note that the frame is 12" wide, the scarf is 7" wide, but the blocking wires are 36" long. This necessitates that the two wires on the short ends of the scarf must lie on TOP of the frame, rather than nestled into the frame. However, this causes the length of the scarf, weighted down with a total of six wires, to sag more than a little bit in the frame. This is not acceptable! The fix seems simple enough on the surface - just put more wires crosswise under the scarf, but laying on top of the frame, like this: (sorry, you're going to have to click the link to see the pic - my right mouse button has gone west.)

Then they had to be tied down, so they wouldn't shift. Forty miles of nylon cord later, voila!

Now comes the fun part. A bit of background first, though. You may recall I have mentioned that this house is TINY! I have one room that is supposedly my "studio/office", but also serves as a storage area for all the impedimentia that for one reason or another needs such. This cuts down on space something FIERCE. Then, recall that in addition to knitting, I also stash for embroidery, quilting, and just plain sewing. The computer and all ITS peripherals and supplies is also in this space, which means that there isn't room to swing even a small cat in here.

Next, the fact that I am quite possibly one of the klutziest people on the planet comes into play. The frame has to lie flat because of all the wires sticking out on either side of the frame, so I am maneuvering this six foot long, effectively 3 foot wide awkward menace. The plan, such as it is, is to lay it with one end on top of the armoire to the left of the computer, across above the monitor, with the other end on top of the data disk case, which in turn is atop the tower case.

Can you say 'domino effect'? One of the wires hit the disk case, knocking it over into the next stack of stash, which is, from the bottom up, one large three-drawer chest containing embroidery fabrics and kitted projects awaiting attention, two of those little three-drawer plastic thingies from Wal-Mart containing sequins and beads and charms in the bottom one, and my small collection of hand-painted cotton and silk embroidery flosses, my silk embroidery ribbons, and my assorted fine embroidery braids and blending filaments, and on top of THOSE, a small box containing my blank stationery notecards and postage supplies. There is then a six-inch "air space" between all this and the large gate-leg table that is my all-purpose crafts and sewing table, which is against the wall perpendicular to the wall containing the computer desk and the aforementioned stacks of drawers. BTW, the computer desk is in the middle of that wall. I haven't mentioned the similar stacks of drawers on the OTHER side of the desk. Aren't you glad?

Anyway, when all the dust settled, there I am with the frame in my hot little hands, staring at this huge pile of CD/ROMs, baggies full of threads and ribbons, spools of more threads, bags of sequins and small beads and charms, and notecards and envelopes, all shoehorned into that tiny six inch space between the leaf of the gate-leg and the side of the large chest.

So that's why I'm not casting on for a new pair of socks tonight. And yes, I am actually going to finish this pair, and I am going to follow one single pattern, no modifications or changes. Just to make it challenging, though, I'm learning on this pair how to do the Magic Toe Up Cast On from Judy Becker, AND knitting two at once on two circular needles - just to keep from being bored, you understand.


Thursday, March 6

Catching Up is Hard to Do

But I'm at least going to let you know I'm still alive. No pictures, alas, as my right mouse button has decided it doesn't want to work, and the WYSIWYG image adder in Blogspot won't let me upload pics the long way - it INSISTS I right-click to paste URLS, etc. Grrrr!

Anyway, Mouse Tracks is almost 5 feet long now, and I'm rapidly approaching the end of the yarn, so it looks like I'll make my 6 foot target, just barely. Maybe. The deadline has been moved up on me, though. I thought I had to the end of March, but nooooo ... her last day is the 13th, so knit I must in every spare instant.

I also entered an embroidery exchange on one of my favorite embroidery sites - Ellen Maurer-Stroh's forum - but I can report that all the embroidery is finished, and I have only to make the embroidered (cross-stitched, mostly) fabric into a needlebook and mail it off. I have taken pictures, and will post when it has been received - not that I think a non-English-speaking Frenchwoman is going to be reading what's mostly a knitting blog in English, but one never knows.

My vision is slowly improving - but my computer and close-work time is still seriously limited. I will try and get the stupid mouse fixed, so I can upload some eye-candy to occupy you. DO remember that, among other things, Spring has sprung, down here in the Deep South, and the azaleas and dogwoods are doing their annual thing...