Saturday, February 16, 2008


Just for the record, I haven't abandoned de-stashing. But yesterday an exuberant mood, sock inspiration, a long-lingering gift certificate, and a fair bit of luck combined to get me a great amount of yarn for very little cash.
First, I went to Northampton Wools. I had a $30 gift certificate from when I left my last job. I'd been in there before with the intent to spend it, but didn't find anything that grabbed me. However, this time I laid hands on some lovely Manos Silk Blend. The three skeins only cost me $31.20, because there's a sale going on. I paid the balance in quarters and dimes. My aunt has always loved Nothampton Wools, and it's a local legend, but I'm not as fond of it as others. I find that the people are a little chilly, and it encourages me to leave quickly when I do go in there. It's a shame, because it's a neat little place.

Still seeking sock yarn, I went down the street to WEBS, where their Valley Yarns (house brand) of Franklin sock yarn is my easy favorite. It's hand dyed by an employee, known as the "Kangaroo Dyer," and all the colorways are awesome. I thought I would get the "frog in a party dress" colorway, but ended up grabbing "miami vice" instead. It's going to become socks for a friend who, upon becoming an Army JAG, has to wear combat boots and digital desert fatigues every day. I'm hoping that a secret color riot on her feet will give her a psychological boost as she confronts what seems to be a rather difficult environment.

I also got a skein of Artyarns Ultramerino 4 in coloway 106. I'll be pairing this with some stashed purple Jawoll to make the Fred and George socks. I like the almost-the-same-but-not-quite aesthetic. The skein is mostly greens, with a little yellow, but the purple shots make me confident of a match.

But the greatest coup, by far, was courtesy of the Kangaroo Dyer, who, I will emphasize, is a lovely, generous, enthusiastic person. She spotted me snapping up the Franklin and we got into a conversation about her colors. She showed me some of her new experiments, including a really spring-timey one tentatively called "peeps." There was also a beautiful blue skein that was brighter than her other blue colors. She was showing me a new laceweight tencel, then gave me two skeins to try out! I can't believe it! I'm planning to make myself a Shetland Triangle because I was so sad to see the first one go, even to my mom. The yarn is so beautiful and soft, and it shines like silk. I'm so excited that I can hardly bear it. When I wound it this morning, it was very fine, and seemed quite strong.

On other fronts, I've finished one Rainbow sock, but will probably second-sock it for a while because I'm, once again, sick of Sockotta. The cotton content makes it a little joy-less to knit.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

snowflake socks, snow-ish day

My snowflake socks are finished and blocked. They were a treat to make with the new technique I've learned: double-fisted colorwork. One color is held continental style, and the other English. I usually have brain block with new techniques, and I need to think them through rather than working until I get it. As usual, something clicked on the second repeat of the pattern, and I was able to go very quickly, finishing in about a week. One thing I noticed is that previously, I never had problems with color dominance, but that my continental-held color is now going to be dominant, being looser than the English color. As long as I plan for it, that should be ok. A bonus is that the colors never get twisted or tangled, making any frogging (it was minor) very easy.

Project Details. Pattern: Snowflake Socks by Chrissy Gardinier, Interweave Knits Fall 2007. Yarn: Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport, 1 skein each of Aran and Eucalyptus. Needles, size 2 dpns. I would have done them on 2 circulars, but don't own the right equipment.

Next, I'm on to the Rainbow Socks by Suzanne Kitzmann. They're going quickly, but are truly strange. If you don't like short rows, don't attempt these socks. They look a little ugly now, but I think they'll shape up with blocking. Someone on Ravelry called hers "ugly ducklings" and I think that's exactly what these will be.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

on the difficulty of photographing one's own feet

Argyle socks are done! And socks are always the most difficult thing to photograph. They always look best on feet, and I usually take my pictures during the day, when the muddy winter light is at least present, if not flattering. That means I'm stuck trying to take pictures of my own feet. The easiest place to do this is the stairs, because that removes some of the contortions, and there's a window right at the bend where the stairs are widest. But my stairs also have horrible brown mottled carpets that look mostly inoffensive in person, but ghastly in pictures. I suppose I could drape them in something, but today I just ended up using my favorite photo background: the goosedown. It's puffy!

So for some project details, here goes. The pattern is Argyle Sock by Edie Eckman. It's put together as a lesson with clear and complete instruction. Despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth that seems to accompany argyle, I didn't find these that difficult. Of course, I did duplicate-stitch the lines. Knitting them in seems to increase the complexity by many fold. The yarn is Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport for the MC and CC, the lines are purple Dalegarn Baby Ull and Valley Yarns Franklin in cancun. Done on size 3 dpns and a short circular for the flat parts. I would not recommend this for anyone who doesn't like sewing in ends. Also, I might use a DK weight if I were to do these again. The fabric is certainly not a sturdy as my usual socks, but I imagine they'll hold up to normal wear. If not, they were quick and fun enough to make that I wouldn't cry to do it again.

Friday, February 1, 2008

scrapghan and minimitts

It seems that de-stashing is a popular goal at the beginning of the year. With minimal employment, it's also the most frugal way for me to go right now. Considering these goals, I've been working on the ubiquitous mitered-square afghan. It's working well for me, considering that I can't bear to throw out even some of the smallest yarn fragments left after a project. I like the idea of making something useful from them, even if some people find the idea tacky. I, for one, like at least paying lip service to the idea of being less wasteful. It's also fun to look at the squares and remember what you made from the originals. In fact, I can look at each square and tell you the content and original project for each yarn. I guess I'd be a little surprised if a knitter couldn't do that, though.

I have also been making some awesome mini-mittens. These, I feel, are the ultimate yarn-user-upper. Mere yards of yarn disappear into a cute little object of delight. Some people may find them fiddly and strange, but I think they will make fun christmas ornaments. With cats in the house, it's a good idea to have crash-proof decorations. It's also fun to put them on your fingers and go "eeee!" because they're cute. In my crazier moments, I plot how to knit them in the round. Maybe I'll make the thumbs out of i-cord next time, though... hmmm