Thursday, March 31, 2011

Boggart attack!

As fans of Harry Potter may remember, boggarts are malevolent household sprites that do things like make milk spoil and steal small items. I have decided that this house has a boggart who took a liking to my March Trekking socks.

I was through the cuff and heel on my fourth try at sock number 1 when I took a good, hard look. The sock was approximately the correct dimensions, but all that ripping and reknitting had seriously compromised the yarn. In a word, it looked ratty. Since I did not think I had enough untouched yarn to knit a fresh pair of socks, I did something I haven't ever done before: I tossed the WIP and its attached yarn in the trash (removed the needles and marker first, of course).

After giving myself a few days to recover, I returned to Green Planet for replacement yarn. They did not have any more March yarn in stock, of course, so I went with a slightly striped Trekking Pro Natura in greens and blues. I cast on for a FIFTH time a few nights ago on size 2.75 mm needles and made it through 2 repeats before going to bed. The next day I picked up my knitting to find that one needle had disappeared. It turns out that the one size of sock length dps I have ZERO extras for (go figure) is 2.75 mm.

I searched for the boggarted needle for two days, knitting (much slower than usual) on three needles before breaking down and buying a new set of needles today. Five repeats into the cuff for sock #1 it finally looks decent.

Wikipedia says if I hang up a horseshoe I can keep the boggart away. I may need to try that.

PS: My output this month was negligible. One sock monkey, half an Almost Saintly Sock, a quarter of a Mondo Cable Cardi (from Noro Retro purchased at Stitches), and a minimal amount of my March Trekking sock. On top of that, I seriously added to my stash at Stitches and the latest Rockin' Sock Club shipment arrived yesterday (Electric Kool Aid Acid Test -- 'nuf said).

Pictures to follow once I actually finish something.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Three times was NOT the charm

The cuff on version 3 of the sock fit (barely) after a few repeats. It still fit (barely) after a few more.

I then remembered that sometimes socks, even those out of super wash wool, shrink slightly in the washer. Instead of taking the risk of not being able to wear the socks after the first time, I ripped again.

Since the cast on seemed plenty loose, I left it and the initial rows (all garter) intact. My new plan is this:

Cast on, all garter sections, and sole of foot will all be knit on size 2 1/2 mm needles.

Chevron sections will all be knit on size 3 mm needles.

Thus far, I have knit 4 repeats on the cuff. The cast on garter edge no longer ruffles and the circumference is a comfortable 8 1/4". It also stretches more than it did when I knit the same pattern on smaller needles.

I would have been much better off being a blind follower.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Three times a charm?

I decided to participate in all six months of the Trekking knit along sponsored by Skacel. January and February went very well, and were completed without a hitch before month end. The challenge was to finish each by the 15th of the following month. No problem, I thought.

I may have changed my mind.

I started a complex Lucy Neatby sock pattern in late February (a Stitches purchase from Shelridge Farm) as I waited for March to be posted. I was flying through this sock so the knit along would be a snap. No problem.

I cast on for March with the suggested needle size (3 mm), even though that seemed awfully big. The designer said this particular chevron pattern knitted up tightly. My sock cuff was 9 1/2" around without any stretching, so I decided some serious needle reduction was needed. I went down to 2 mm. It looked good, was about 7 1/2" around (smaller than I expected), so I knitted through the heel and started the foot.

I finally got the brains to try it on.

I couldn't. There was zero stretch in this chevron pattern.

I ripped out (AGAIN) and tried with 2 1/2 mm needles. This time the cuff fits (barely) and it isn't as sloppy as the first time.

Wish me luck.

PS: I finished the sock monkey (it is WAY cute), got most of the way through sock number one of the Neatby project, and got several inches below the armpits on a top down cardigan in Noro Retro (another Stitches purchase). All three of those are more complex than these socks, but all have gone much more smoothly. Go figure.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Snow in Saratoga! (California, that is)

I finished Rocky's sweater (see previous post) a day before the snow arrived. He really needed it!

Here are a couple of views at our house. These pictures were taken at around 6:30 am, before the sun was up sufficiently to start melting the snow. The snow was less than an inch thick at the deepest point.
You can see Justin having a grand time before going back to bed for another 4 hours (he is a teenager, after all).

Flurry of FOs in February, Spring Startitis, and Stitches West

First, the good news: I actually completed seven items this past month, despite a slow start. As I stood in line for Stitches West's market on Friday, I completed a shawl collared vest which I wore the rest of the day. This is one of the hot knits these days at Green Planet Yarns; mine is in Lamb's Pride Bulky instead of the called for Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande. Here it is in progress, and after completion:
I also finished Rockin Sock Club January '11 socks, Social Network by Lucy Neatby. I showed them to the ladies in their SW booth, and they said it was the first completed pair they had seen. I really enjoyed making them, and they are very comfortable to wear.
I made lots of purchases at Stitches, as usual, but have already finished a Kerr Cowl (in Berrocco Borealis) and Ali's Cap (in Marion Foales 2 ply) from my new stash. The latter was sold as a kit to benefit a wildlife fund; you can see me posed with Ali MacGraw (the inspiration for the design) below.

Another FO for February was the Trekking Knitalong project, a pair of fingerless mitts. The "cable" is made with twisted stitches so it went very fast. I have not yet cast on the March project, but expect to within the week.
Our dog, Rocky, is quite elderly (we got him as an adult rescue dog a little over 16 years ago) and has lost some of his muscle mass in the past six months. The vet says he needs to wear a sweater, and loves this one I knit him a week and a half ago. He used to bite and pull off any sweater we'd try to put on him, but now he seems to look forward to having it on. This is the standard sweater from Dogs in Knits.
With the leftover yarn, I knit a hat for charity, just in time to meet my resolution deadline.
I've had a bit of startitis lately, and don't know how much is due to the yarn fumes from Stitches' market (and my new purchases) and how much is due to anticipation of the onset of spring. All of the February FOs were started and finished during the month, so I had no impact on the number of items on my WIP/UFO list. This month, I've started a sock monkey, something I've always wanted for some strange reason (maybe because Mom said no way would she let me cut up a perfectly good pair of socks to make a toy). The ears, muzzle, arms, and tail are complete, and I'm stuffing the legs/body unit as I go.
This weekend, I started a pair of socks (another Stitches West purchase). They are Lucy Neatby's Almost Saintly Socks (because they are so "holey") in Shelridge Farm's sock yarn (the variegated is a one-off). I stuffed the cuff with tissue to make the design clearer.

A later post will include a few more pictures and notes from Stitches.