Tuesday, November 30, 2010

FO: A Single Sock

 Remember this post about a cure for second-sock syndrome?  It turns out that my friend, who originally inspired the post by telling me about her single sock, was able to find a home for her lone sock within her own family.  Isn't it funny how life works out sometimes?

Anyway, I still wanted to send a single sock to K2Tog for their single sock collection for veterans.  I finished it up and washed it before Thanksgiving so it could air-dry while I was gone.  Here it is ready to go, the first completed sock in my self-imposed sock club:

 I used the Priscilla's Dream Sock pattern to figure out how many stitches to cast on for a men's large, and knit it toe-up from a provisional cast-on to make it seamless.  Further info, including K2Tog's address is here on Ravelry.

I need to focus on gift-knitting now, but I can't live without some mindless knitting to take with me when I'm driving to school, orthodontist appts., etc., so I went ahead and wound the leftover yarn into 2 balls for a pair of footies.  My plan is to see if I can get the footies to match by starting each one in the same place in the color pattern.  I'll let you know how it works out.

Meanwhile, I heard back from my contest winners so I'm off to the post office with the prizes, as well as my single sock!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Home is Where the Yarn Is

We just returned from our Thanksgiving vacation.  We had a wonderful time at the coast with friends, but it is also nice to be back home.  For one thing, this lovely item was waiting in the mail:
I meant the book, not the cat, but he insisted on jumping into the photo.
I ordered 2 copies of the book.  I'll send out the one without the cat hair!

We still need to settle in but I don't want to wait any longer to pick 2 contest winners.  Ahem, just a minute while I use a random number generator . . .

. . . the winner of Cookie A's new book is Jessica, and the winner of two skeins of Brooks Farm yarn is Tera!  Jessica and Tera, I will contact you soon, but if you happen to be reading this, it would be great if you could send me a quick email with your mailing address.   Thanks!

I appreciate everyone who stopped by and left a comment.   It's good to know I'm not the only one who tends to let the WIPs/UFOs accumulate!  And it was great fun to read each and every encouraging word.   Now I need to go unpack, but I'm sure there will be more contests to come in the near future!  

Friday, November 19, 2010

I'm Done with the List, and I'm Celebrating with a Contest!

I started this blog over a year ago because I enjoy knitting, as well as reading, learning, and writing about knitting.  But I also had a goal of becoming a better finisher. 

In my second post I confessed that I had become one of those knitters with multiple unfinished sweaters tucked away in closets.  I included a list of UFOs/WIPs, with a goal of finishing or frogging each one by February 2010. 
Here they are listed in order by the date on which I started each one:

Jan 2006 - Ballet Wrap Cardigan - Frogged November, 2010
Mar 2006 - Ribby Cardi - Finished November, 2010
Jun 2006 - Tweedy Vest -  Frogged September, 2010  
Spring 2007 - Equinox Yoke Pullover  - Finished November, 2010
Jan 2009 - T-Shirt Sweater - Frogged and Reknit into a Neck-Down Lace Pullover December, 2009
Feb 2009 - Loppem - Finished October, 2009
Mar 2009 - Roam  - Finished September, 2009

Well, I finally did finish, but not quite as soon as I had hoped.  Here we are in November 2010 . . . maybe Robert Burns' famous line should have read:
 "The best laid plans of mice and men  . .and knitters . . . often go awry.”  
I'm just happy I got through the list.  Of course, a lot of other knitting has been going on as well, but these were the items that hibernated for one reason or another.  Finally, each and every one is finished or frogged.  It has been a great learning experience, and I have some sweaters to wear this winter.

I let my 1 year blogiversary roll on by, but I don't want to let this occasion go without celebrating.  When I return to announce the winner of today's contest it will be my 100th post, AND I am done with THE LIST!  Okay, so maybe it is 9 months later than planned .  . .hmmm, 9 months . . . it wasn't quite as hard as giving birth, but it took even longer! 

The contest:
  I love knitting socks so I celebrated by ordering myself a printed, signed edition of Cookie A's new book Knit.  Sock.  Love..  I ordered a second copy to give away to one of you.  I know some people might prefer yarn, so I'm also giving away 2 skeins of Brooks Farm Four Play that I bought at Stitches:

All you have to do to be entered to win is leave me a comment by Saturday, November 27th.  I will use a random number generator to pick 2 winners.  Be sure to include your email address or your Ravelry name when you post your comment so that I can notify the winner. 

I'll be away from the blog while the contest is going on, so meanwhile, I want to take time to wish my friends and family a Happy Thanksgiving!  I still feel exactly the same as last time around, if not even more grateful for all of it.

FO Friday: The Three Year Sweater (and a contest!)

[I am writing 2 posts today.  My regular FO Friday post is below.  Click here to find my second post if you would like to participate in the contest.  Thanks!]

"An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail."    Edwin Land

I'm sure there are many different reasons some of us let projects languish.  Sometimes it's just a lack of time.  Sometimes it is a loss of interest in a particular project, especially when a more exciting one comes along.  But I know that with my Equinox Yoke Pullover, it was fear of failure that kept it sitting on a shelf for 3 years.  Which is pretty silly when I think about it.  After all, it's only knitting.

But when you learn to knit from sources which stress the importance of well-done finishing work, it can be intimidating.  For example,  the seaming section of The Knitter's Companion (which, by the way, is a great resource) opens with these words:
"Seaming is a very important step, second only to knitting quality, in giving a professional look to a garment.  Practice these methods on knitting samples until you have flawless results to prevent stunning work from being relegated to the closet, never to see the light of day."
Well-intentioned, and good advice, I'm sure, but it still makes my shoulders tense up just reading it.  How many of us have time to sit around practicing until we get "flawless results"?  I feel pretty good if I talk myself into knitting a gauge swatch. 

But like I said, it's only knitting. and I finally decided I would rather finish this sweater, and either be able to wear it, or to learn from my mistakes and move on.  So, along with a vow to no longer let fear of failure be the thing that actually keeps a knitted item "relegated to the closet", I can show you my finished sweater:

Woo-hoo!  I'm done!

Pattern:  Equinox Yoke Pullover by Michelle Rose Orne
Source:  Interweave Knits Fall 2006
Materials:  RYC Cashsoft DK, and US 4 and 6 needles
Final thoughts about the sweater and yarn color details are on Ravelry

Join us at Tami's Amis to read about more finished objects, and don't forget to visit this post for the contest.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It Feels Good to Frog

Actually, ripping out my knitting wasn't very much fun.  Luckily, listening to the new episode of Stash & Burn while I worked kept me from wanting to pull my hair out along with the yarn.  But it really does feel good to be finished frogging! 

I'm almost done with the last item on a knitting to-do list I started some time ago.  In order to feel like I am truly done with the list, I had one last item that I needed to frog, or rip out.  (For those of you non-knitters that drop by occasionally, "frogging" is another word for undoing knitting.  Here is a better explanation of the term.)

So today I got out my yarn swift, and let it rip:

My swift came in handy turning this:
Back into this:
18 skeins of Debbie Bliss Soho. . . I got it on sale but still, what was I thinking?
When I was going over my list of unfinished items and asking myself "Finish of frog?", this Ballet Wrap Cardigan ended up on the frog pile.  I just knew the finished sweater would not look like the one in the magazine, and I would probably never wear it.  If it had been a pullover, I probably would have taken the time to seam it, and then would have donated it to afghans for Afghans.  But I don't think they take wrap-style sweaters.  They do have a new youth campaign going right now.  So, maybe after the Christmas presents are done, this yarn has a better destiny as a nice, easy, and warm child's pullover.  That would really be satisfying.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WIP Wednesday: Equinox Yoke Pullover

I see the light at the end of this sweater finishing tunnel!  When I'm done I'm going to celebrate by giving away a cool prize.  Check back here on Friday for details.

Here is what I've been working on:
First I wove in all of the yarn ends.
Then I could see how badly my color work needed to be blocked.
Ta-da!  Blocking works magic!
I couldn't get the steam setting on my old iron to work.  So I pinned each piece down after gently flattening it out, and misted it with a water bottle.  Even with the "wool" setting, I didn't want to iron it directly so I placed a pillow case over it and just pressed the iron down momentarily one spot at a time.

I fell in love with the picture of this sweater on the cover of the Fall 2006 Interweave Knits.  Since casting on for this sweater in 2007, I've taken a Fair Isle knitting class and learned a few things:
(Thanks Betsy and Crystal!) 
1.  Most Fair Isle patterns are written such that they would be knit in the round.
2.  There is an easy method of locking in your yarn ends as you knit through each color change.

Having learned those 2 things, hopefully I can knit more colorful patterns in the future without having to deal with so many yarn ends.  I am now working on seaming the sweater.  If it fits it will all have been worth it.

(Visit Tami's Amis to see some more WIPs!)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Start of the Sock Yarn Plan

You all know that I have been working away at cutting down on the total number of WIPs that I have hanging around.  Having my family out of town this past weekend allowed me to make good progress in that department.  As soon as I finished the Ribby Cardi, I started weaving in the 150+ yarn ends of my Equinox Yoke Pullover, a sweater that I thought I would never finish.  By Sunday afternoon, it was drying on the ironing board after being steam-blocked.  It still needs seams, but the momentum will carry me through that part.  Best of all, when my husband got home and saw it he said "That's a beautiful sweater."  High praise indeed from a guy who normally doesn't notice this knitting/blogging thing I am doing.  It was music to my ears.  For that reason and more I was happy to have my guys back Sunday night.

But getting back to the normal routine this week means I need to have some go-to mindless knitting, which brings me back around to the sock yarn plan.   I haven't gotten as far as having each skein in a ziploc with a pattern, but I spent some time playing mix-and-match between my stash and my Ravelry favorites list.  I won't bore you listing it here but, if you're curious, this is what I came up with. 

As promised in a previous post, I'm starting out with a single sock:
 This fits perfectly into my plan, as I can knit one sock to donate, and have enough of this self-striping yarn leftover for the next item on my list.  I got the Vogue Knitting Ultimate Sock Book out of the library, and I would like to try these footies:

Do you see the name of the pattern up there, "Sockies"? 
Doesn't that sound funny?  I prefer "footies", although
now that I think about it, I guess that sounds funny too.
 So I'm off to the races with my sock yarn plan.  Do you know how fast a single sock in stockinette stitch is going to go?  I think I can get that done in a few days of waiting in the school parking lot, knitting at red lights, and maybe one orthodontist appointment!  Edited to add (after knitting on the sock for a little while):  Okay, maybe not that fast, but it will feel fast, since I'm not doing everything twice!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sock Yarns Don't Count as Stash

At least that is what I am trying to tell myself today as I'm digging through my sock yarn cubby and adding a few undocumented skeins to Ravelry.
My sock yarn stash:  I have a little bit more than I realized.

But you know what?  Ever since my friend Angie suggested it, I've been thinking about creating my own personal sock yarn club, a la Yarn Harlot.   And when I got my stash out, I realized there just happens to be enough there for 12 pairs of socks.  Kismet!

I'm not sure I could knit all of those skeins in one year, but I think I could come close.  After all, my recently completed Monkey socks represent my reward to myself at the culmination of one year of knitting socks as gifts for my knitting friends.  I just checked Ravelry, and with 6 pairs of gift socks, 1 pair for the afghans for Afghans sock drive, and 2 pairs for myself, I knit 9 pairs over the last 12 months.  And really, I wouldn't have to commit myself to 1 pair a month.  Each skein wouldn't even have to end up as socks.  But it would feel good to have a plan.  Having the plan in place might also curb the urge to acquire even more sock yarn.  Although, don't hold me to that when I get near the Malabrigo at Stitches!

P.S. to Angie and Karen, if you are reading this:  Speaking of sock yarn clubs, I have to say that one of the reasons I love my Monkey socks, is that I made them out of the yarn we bought together after working at Stitches.   Remember . . . we were all going to make something out of the Lorna's Laces sock yarn in Peppermint Mocha?  Well, tag, you're it!

Friday, November 12, 2010

FO Friday: Ribby Cardi Closure

Over the last couple of days, I've had that free time for more finishing work that I've been waiting for.  My husband and son are off on another mushroom-hunting adventure.  So yesterday afternoon, after taking care of some critter-related chores, I made myself some tea, put in a Netflix DVD, and finished another cardigan.

It's actually embarrassing, but the project I just finished was the Ribby Cardi that I started back in 2006!  I think I bought the yarn and cast on in 2006, finished knitting it in 2007, seamed it in 2008.  It's been sitting in a container waiting for a zipper or buttons ever since.  

For appropriate time-travel ambiance the Netflix DVD I watched while I worked was "Lost".  I think I started viewing that series around the same time I started this sweater.

Finally, here it is, my Ribby Cardi, all closed up:

 Pattern:  Ribby Cardi by Bonne Marie Burns
Source:  Chic Knits
Materials:  MC - Lambs Pride Superwash in "charcoal heather", CC - Lion Brand Superwash Merino, and US 6 and US 7 needles

 I still think the Ribby Cardi is a clever pattern with great built-in options, but the problem with taking so long to finish a sweater is that with everything I've learned since then, I would make different yarn and style choices if I was starting over with this pattern today.  If I could have a do-over, I think it would be more fun to knit it in 2 colors like the ones on the Ravelry pattern page.  Still, I'm happy to check it off the list.

Also, I'm excited about the new technique I learned to add the contrasting color I-cord trim and buttonholes.  I followed this tutorial for attached I-cord from The Purl Bee. 

To include buttonholes, I placed a marker where I wanted each buttonhole to be:


Then as I was knitting the attached I-cord, whenever I came to a marker, I knit 3 rows of I-cord evenly without picking up sweater edge stitches.  I skipped over a couple of the edge stitches where the marker was placed, and then restarted attaching the I-cord as I knit it:

Once the marker is removed, there is a smooth, neat edge and the buttonhole is hidden whether the sweater is opened or closed: 

For my next trick, I'm going to weave in ends on a sweater I started in 2007.  I love these FO Fridays for finishing motivation! 

To see projects from other motivated knitters please visit Tami's Amis, and maybe even join in the fun.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

WIP Wednesday: Three Things

I actually haven't been doing too much knitting this week.  It's Murphy's Law that right when I think I'm going to have the most free time, is just when the phone starts ringing off the hook, and my teenager has a "homework emergency" which requires me to wrestle with a printer that seems to have it in for us, and the cat throws up all over a pile of freshly laundered towels.  I'm not complaining really, just taking pleasure in the fact that I can share that kind of thing here while knowing that all of you can relate!

Anyway, I've still managed a few minutes of finishing work here and there, as well as some good old Stockinette stitch before bed each night, which has allowed me to make progress on three things:

1)  I did seam the toe on my second Monkey Sock after my last post, so the pair of them are done, done, done!  I made some mistakes, and they don't match perfectly, but they are mine, all mine, and I love them!  I had planned on writing up the modifications I made to create a larger size, but now I see that Cookie A. has come out with a new book, in which she re-released the Monkey pattern with additional sizing options.  I'm definitely putting the new book on my wish list.

To get a picture of my Monkey Socks, I sat down next to
the latest branch brought in by Harpo, the wonder cat.

2)  I sewed the buttons on my Ribby Cardi and started adding I-cord trim and buttonholes.  I decided to go with a contrast color for the I-cord and I am pleased with how it is coming along. 

3) My Citron is growing larger.  After flitting back and forth between the above two projects that just needed finishing, getting back to knitting Citron has felt like slipping into a pair of Malabrigo Loafers after wearing too-tight shoes all day.  I can't wait to finish it up and block it.  I've been weighing the ball of yarn after I finish each section and I think I can finish it up and still have enough of the Claudia Hand Painted Silk Yarn for another project, which is great because it is such a beautiful color.

That free time might still be coming my way, so I hope to show you some more progress on Friday, meanwhile, you can visit Tami's Amis to see some more works-in-progress.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Question: When does only one finished sock count for FO Friday?

Answer:  When you want to let everyone know about a great solution to 2nd sock syndome, or 2nd glove syndrome for that matter! 
My first Monkey sock is done!

K2TOG is one of my favorite Bay Area knitting stores.  I recently received their latest email which included this announcement:

We are also collecting hand-knit or crocheted single socks and single gloves (fingerless or fingered) to give as gifts to our service men and women who have lost limbs in service to this country. Donations will go to the VA Hospital in Palo Alto. These socks and fingerless gloves can be as fun as you feel inclined - and remember we have both men and women who will receive them.

I went to knitting night last night where a friend showed me her first completed sock.   Mind you, not her first pair of socks, but her first sock.  It was a beautiful sock.  She had knit it out of a gorgeous, variegated, deep red-hued yarn that she had dyed herself.  However, she didn't think she would be knitting a 2nd sock to match and was wondering what to do with it.  A pet's Christmas stocking perhaps?
That's when I remembered the K2TOG single sock collection and promised to pass the info along to her.

So, when I was having trouble finishing my second Monkey sock in time for FO Friday, I thought why not post my single sock, and tell everyone else about it too?  After all, there must be other knitters out there suffering from 2nd sock syndrome.

If you have a hand-knit sock or glove to donate, you can mail them to:

1325 Solano Ave.
Albany, CA  94706

Or maybe there is VA hospital near you that would also appreciate a donation.

My list of FO's have been a little light on charity knitting lately, so even though I plan on finishing the Monkey Socks for me, but I know what I'll be casting on for next . . .  a single sock, and maybe even a single glove.

P.S.  Thanks again to Tami's Amis for hosting FO FRIDAY!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

WIP Wednesday: Sidetracked by Citron

Just a quick post today. . .
I'm heading out to take advantage of this nice weather and work in the garden.  But I'm really enjoying participating in WIP Wednesdays partly to keep myself accountable on WIPs I wish to finish, as well as to check out the list of other lovely projects. 

I'm still working my way through this list which I posted two weeks ago. .  . . . 4 down, 5 to go, hopefully 2 more done by this Friday.

But I've been temporarily sidetracked by this little beauty:
Thanks for the pomegranates Betsy!  And thanks to Angie for the Citron inspiration!

The Claudia Hand Painted Yarn is called "Rubies Playing" so I named my project Ruby Citron in Ravelry, but I may have to change it to Pomegranate Citron.  Not only is it the color of pomegranate juice, but also the yarn is staining my fingers as I knit, just like when I juice our pomegranates.  I've never had that happen with a knitting project before.  Hopefully, it doesn't mean the gorgeous color of the yarn will change when I finish knitting it and wash it and block it.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had trouble with the cast on, but once I got going it was highly addiciting.
I finished the first section waiting for trick-or-treaters.  Unlike past years, we actually had quite a few costumed kids knock on the door.  I'm happy about that because it means we don't have too much leftover candy around to tempt me.
I finished the second section watching the Giants win the World Series!  Yay Giants! 

My progress will slow as each section grows larger, but I hope to finish in time to wear it during the holidays.