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April 23, 2006

Sockapaloooza Sockapalicious Sockapafinished (one)

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There's nothing that makes me happier than grafting / kitchnering toes on a cuff-to-toe sock. It signals a FINISH (of at least one sock). My goal with this whole sock thing has been to master knitting a basic pair of socks without a pattern - that is, picking up needles and yarn and just knitting a sock or two. When I was at work yesterday, I flipped to the sock section in Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's Knitting Rules and she wrote exactly what I've been thinking and I realized the sock thing is definitely "IT" for me.

I've learned so much while knitting the Sockapaloooza socks and couldn't have accomplished it without my favorite sock resources:

1. Elizabeth Bennett's Perl Sock Program - except for her "round heel" option on a 72-stitch sock . . . it just didn't work for me.

2. Heels by Number - the "rounder heel" option

3. Picking Up Stitches: Techniques by Theresa - the illustrations were just what I needed to perfect the main thing I have trouble with -- picking up gusset stitches "neatly*. I can do it now and I want to do it over and over again.

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I've neglected to post my finished Noni bag but will do that sometime this week as I catch up on blogging.

April 21, 2006

Lorna's Laces Tiny Sock

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I starting knitting this tiny sock while waiting in line to pick up the little guys at school and finished the toe decreases when we got home. Even though the tiny sock is not representative of how an adult-size sock would look as far as the striping goes, it's a great way to try out a sock yarn without knitting a full-size sock. I can get a pretty good idea of what my gauge will be and how the yarn behaves. It's great sock-knitting practice (for those who need it, that is -- and I do) and you can tackle all the tricky elements right away. More importantly, it's satisying to finish one and offers great stress relief while knitting it.

I used a wonderful colorway from Lorna's Laces - "Pinstripe' and knit with Size 0 (2mm) Brittany Birch DPNs.

My Sockapaloooza sock is moving right along and I should be able to finish the first sock today -- toe decreases always require a bit more focus than I can manage on a typical day.

For the past week and a half, I've had to face some of my worst fears regarding a loved one and although I feel incredibly helpless in the face of it, knitting has helped so much. I've been knitting these socks for my sock pal while I deal with everything and there is just such significance in it for me. I will really enjoy giving these socks away when the time comes. It's also helped make me aware that I want to knit socks for my loved ones and close friends (those who would LIKE handknit socks, that is) and it helps me to understand this writer's blog entry about knitting socks for her loved ones.

April 13, 2006

Sockapaloooza Sock Progress

Trekking XXL 107 Sockapaloooza Sock

This was my progress as of Wednesday morning (yesterday) and not much has been made since. I've had to restart the heel flap and heel a few times before I figured out that there is a math error on Elizabeth Bennett's Perl Sock Program. After three tries at turning a round heel (based on a 72-stitch sock pattern) with the program instructions, I figured out that it probably wasn't ME, but the instructions. I confirmed that after checking Heels by Number. I'm learning to trust my instincts but sometimes I assume that written instructions must be correct.

Something I've learned about the Trekking XXL is that any stitches, once dropped, are difficult to pick up due to its tendency to split. Makes for a frustrating "fixing" session when the stitches are tiny to begin with.

At this point, however, with all that is going on here, I'm grateful I've made progress on SOMETHING.This pair of socks is going to be the only thing I have time to work on.

April 11, 2006

Trekking XXL 107 - Sockapaloooza third attempt

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Sockapaloooza third attempt

Since this photo was taken, I've gotten to the point where I have to knit another inch before starting the heel flap; I've made much faster progress on this third sock and I think it's the yarn more than my motivation to complete the sock. Trekking tends to want to split a little bit more, but I think it's the unique nature of this subtly-striped yarn that makes it so. This yarn is very soft and remarkably light. The other two yarns I was using felt heavier and denser. The only drawback to knitting with Trekking XXL is that it makes one want to acquire more Trekking XXL!

In other incomplete knits news, I've finished the bobble for the red camellia and now just need to shape and "sew" the flower together prior to felting it. I'm already in love with the Noni bag and I haven't even started carrying it yet. It's definitely not dainty, but it is unique and fun.

Finally, there is an exciting new yarn store in town --Yarntopia! Tune in to the latest (Episode 4) Pointy Sticks podcast to hear Christine's interview with Amy, the co-owner of Yarntopia. Sheryl, the other half of Yarntopia, is crazy for sock yarn too. I love that they have a blog for the store!

April 09, 2006

It's like playing pick-up sticks

It's like pick-up sticks
L to R: Size 0 DPN, toothpick, Size 1 DPN

Several knitters think knitting with double pointed needles (DPNs) is like wrestling with a porcupine, but ever since I learned how to knit socks, I've enjoyed knitting with DPNs. I don't know why, but it's comfort knitting for me. Yesterday, however, my frustration with the Sockapaloooza sock led to knitting a teeny tiny sock -- basically I needed to successfully start and finish a sock or I wasn't going to feel good about my day. I was recovering from Phase 1 of 100 of my dental work, a little bit relaxed from painkillers when I was hit with "what if I knit a tiny sock with the smallest needles I own?" The result was yesterday's sock. What I really want to try to make someday are sock earrings. Yesterday's tiny sock is HUGE compared to the tiny socks I would wear on my ears.

Although I am wonderfully back on track knitting socks for my Sock Pal, it hasn't been without pitfalls. I spent the evening knitting with Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in "Watercolor" when I realized it was pooling unpleasantly. Hadn't I just been reading on a knitblog about LL Shepherd Sock and suprising pooling issues? After 2 inches of 2x2 ribbing, it was clear that I wasn't going to be happy with the pooling, so I frogged and restarted with Trekking XXL. If you go to the Sockapaloooza site, you'll see that many industrious knitters have completed their socks. Not so for me. I should have gone through this knitting and re-knitting step LAST month, or even the month before. Anybody who is knitting socks at this point is probably a lot closer to successfully finishing their socks than I.

It's fascinating that knitting for somebody else brings out a lot more of the perfectionist in me than when knitting for myself. I'm learning that with a deadline and a recipient, I am very fastidious and exacting about how I want this to turn out. I want her to feel all the good things that went into this sock and if there are errors, I want her to feel that they were not thoughtlessly knit in to the socks, but instead show my desire to make the socks unique. I can hope!

April 05, 2006

Mason-Dixon Knitting

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Mason-Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitters' Guide
Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne of Mason Dixon Knitting
(Stories, Patterns, Advice, Opinions, Questions, Answers, Jokes and Pictures)

Click here for the book info on Amazon: Mason Dixon Book

I'm probably one of the last knitters to get this book and I did, in fact, buy Borders' last copy of this gem. My advice is do not buy this book unless you have some dishcloth yarn and Euroflax sportweight linen on hand because there are some amazing projects you'll be itching to cast on while you're reading. The included patterns are original and adaptable for the flexible knitter; or you can stick with the pattern as written - it's all good!

It's a book for ALL knitters, not just knitbloggers. I initially thought it might read like a knitting insider's book, but it doesn't. While I found many projects I want to knit, this book has also given me license to be creative -- to play, experiment and USE my handknits!

There are also delightful interviews with The Queen of FInishing and Emma.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some knitting to do.

Sockapaloooza Progress

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Knit Picks Sock Landscape - "Cape Cod"


I didn't forget about my Sockapaloooza sock . . . I was just having a really hard time deciding on a yarn worthy of my Sock Pal. I finally decided to go with the yarn I originally purchased for Sockapaloooza and even though I tried really hard to find something negative about knitting with this yarn, I can't. I think it's awesome! This was also the yarn that knit up the nicest on Size 2 needles.

Of course, I have doubts running through my mind . . . will it fit? Will she like it? Will she wear them? But even veteran Sockapalooza knitters have the same doubts, so if they can forge ahead, then I shall too. I signed up as a "beginner" because I knew these doubts would surface and I didn't want to have committed to something too advanced or intricate. I just want to do the best possible job on a simple pair of socks.

To knit these socks, I'm using Elizabeth Bennett's Perl Sock Program. It appears that she's made some updates to the pattern generator (February 2006) and they're definite improvements, in my opinion. Check it out!

Sadly, however, I had to frog the capelet I was working on . . . my gauge was SO off and the capelet was going to end up about 2-4" less in circumference than the previous one (itself a bit on the small side). I knit the first three capelets with bamboo circulars -- THIS one, I used my Denise needles in the same size. I think I will have to knit this on 11's if I stick with the Denise (which I probably will -- I love the points on the Denise when I am knitting with lacy yarn).

In addition to knitting my Sockapaloooza socks, I also have non-knitting issues that have cropped up -- things involving root canals, crowns, endodontists, gum trimming, cavities, TMJ. Lovely. I'm trying not to think too hard about the fact that if I'd seen a dentist sooner . . . prior to the pain . . . then the measures probably wouldn't have to be so drastic or costly. So your public service announcement for today: SEE YOUR DENTIST.

April 03, 2006

Noni Bags' Medium Carpet Bag - Felted

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(pardon the cluttered photo)

I felted the Noni bag this morning and am in the process of shaping it -- I'll be very aggressive with the shaping. I want defined creases on either side of the bag and a more defined bottom edge as well. I love the idea of a black felted handbag, but this one is much more chic than a plain black bag. The subtle striping makes it interesting.

The flower has been more fun to knit than I thought it would be -- I can't wait to make more!

I'm sure that every knitter has attempted felting (which technically isn't felting but FULLING when done in the washing machine), but in case you haven't, I love the instructions on Knitty - Felting for Absolute Beginners and Felt This! -- both great resources for all the information you need. While the Noni bag is drying and shaping, I'll be finishing my Lace Capelet (#4) with the Kidsilk Haze (Jelly) that I bought in Oklahoma at S.W.A.K.