Thursday, July 29, 2010

Too Warm for Wool!!!

Yes, I have never truly been defeated by warm weather (summer's my favorite season - I'm happiest when it's over 100 outside! what can I say? I'm a true Texan ^^ ), until today. I finally sat down to rip out that last 1.5 inches of my poor sock. But there's nothing more uncomfortable than hot hands knitting hot wool D: So I got past the 1.5 inches, did a couple of decrease rows, and gave up. *sigh*

It doesn't look that much different now, does it? The wavy pattern looks really good in this pic, though! I'm still bummed about that dang camera connector chord, but I'll find it soon enough, an then it's no more PhotoBooth for me!!!

I also keep meaning (and failing) to take pictures of my Autum Leaves Afghan, but I must say that if it's too hot to work on wool socks, it's DEFINITELY too hot to work on a wool blanket. Sheesh! So hopefully pictures to come soon :-)

I kept my outlook positive and kept from stabbing people with my needles while ripping out those darn socks by listening to LionBrand's YarnCraft, a really great podcast all about Yarn Crafting. They have some really great podcasts about all sorts of groovy topics. And the two women who host it are pretty groovy, too. :-) You can check it out here :D

In other news: the fam and I head out tomorrow for vacation on Sabago Lake! I'm pretty dang psyched, since I haven't been swimming all summer and I desperately miss Inks Lake (near Burnett, TX) which I've visited every single summer since I was 8 until now. So! We head out tomorrow, and hopefully I'll get in some good knitting time between eating s'mores and splashing in the lake :-) It also means I won't be blogging until Sunday night at the earliest, but hopefully I'll have fun pictures to show for it! :-)

Until then, happy knitting!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Knitting, Blogging, and Knit-Blogging

I'm sorry to report that the warm weather and the unpleasant prospect of ripping 1.5 inches out of my Kalajoki sock mean that I haven't done any knitting today. D: I can honestly say that the one thing I don't like about summer is the decrease in knitting interest. *sigh*

However, I have been very busy reading and researching about knitting and blogging!

First of all: I got one of Wendy Johnson's (author of ) books called Wendy Knits as a birthday gift months ago, but I have been re-reading it. It's a great book, calling itself a memoir, that feels like Wendy herself has sat down with me to talk about everything from her favorite yarns and knitting techniques to her own knitting blunders she experienced as a kid. It's really great, beautifully written, and has a bunch of cool patterns in it, too! She is one of my main influences when it comes to blogging. When I think about what I want my knitting blog to be like, I think about hers! (it's a really great blog - y'all should go check it out!) But she also has a great philosophy about knitting. It's supposed to be a fun, creative outlet, and if the sweater don't fit, just smile, nod, and give it to a different-sized friend like you meant to all along!

Reading wendy's blog, and watching Julie and Julia (a GREAT movie! have I mentioned that?) are what got me to finally sit down and blog regularly.

Which brings me to my next point.

Now that I'm more serious about this whole blogging business, I gotta get myself some readers! How do I go about doing that, you ask? Well, I could ask my friends, but very few of them knit, so very few of them would be interested in reading. I have tried signing up for a few blog rings (Knitting Blogs on RingSurf!) and am looking into submitting my blog to some blog directories. (they keep talking about RSS, but I can't figure out what an RSS is, or how I can get one! O.O) I've also heard it suggested that I should set up a twitter, and expand my readership that way. Which could be cool but I don't know what I'd say! "Good morning. I've blogged again today. Check it out!" or "oh look, I'm knitting again!" O.o

What I should do is start commenting on other knitting blogs. I already read a bunch of knitting blogs, but I never comment cuz I never really know what to say. But! I should comment on their blogs and drop hints that I have my own blog etc. etc. etc. Who knows? I could be a world-famous knitting blogger someday! :-)

Another thing I've noticed is that a lot of these knitting bloggers seem to spend a fortune on knitting! They have raffles, with prizes that they buy and donate themselves, then mail to the recipients, they have huge stashes of luxury yarn, they are constantly starting gorgeous new projects with gorgeous new (expensive) yarn, and they go to knitting retreats and stuff. All of this must cost tons! Or, at least, it feels like tons to me. But that could be just because I am a starving college student with no job. *sigh*

So it seems that the lack-of-readership and the lack-of-funds will be obstacles that I'll just have to deal with as I continue on my adventures! I mean, lets face it, if it wasn't hard, it wouldn't be an adventure, right?

Finally, since no post should be without at least one fun picture:

This is my dog Luke, bravely guarding a blanket I crocheted a couple summers ago. <3

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Unfortunate sock length

Well, I am sorry to say that today's progress with the Kalajoki socks wasn't the most amazingly successful venture I was hoping it would be.

I had a lot of trouble figuring out how long I should knit the foot before decreasing for the toes. My 2-at-a-time socks book says, generally, start decreasing when your sock is 1.25 inches shorter than you want it, measuring from the back of the heel. Then the Socks For Soldiers (SFS) regulation pattern says that, for a size 11 (what I guessed I was making) you should make the foot 11 inches long. So I figured I should start decreasing for the toes at 9.5 inches.

Well, then I got started watching a really exciting movie, and just kept knitting way past 9.5 inches. So I had to rip back a few rows to get to the right length, and started decreasing for the toes.

Luckily, my brother got home from Boston today, so I could try them on his feet before I got too far. And this was the result:

Yikes! Well, brother went and checked his shoe, and revealed that he was, in fact, a size 10. Okay. And he says the socks fit great every other direction. Which is good. I just need to rip back a good 1.5 inches before beginning the decrease again. Observe:

I gotta decrease to that blue pin there. See my sad face?

Ah well. Now I have to make sure that, when I make the second sock, I mess up on that one just as much as this one, so they will be messed up symmetrically. ^^

Hilariously enough, everyone at my lovely Harmony Haven Knitters was having a rough time with their patterns, so we called it quit and just chatted. Today was show and tell day, so we all got to show off a bit. (Pictured: my lace Razor Cami and felted messenger bag)

I really love having a group of knitters to chill with once a week. I'd never really had one quite like this, with people of all ages and backgrounds getting together just to knit. Truly wonderful. :-) Now I just have to organize one at Vandy ^^

I would like to leave you tonight with an introduction. Meet my Kitty!

Yes, her name is Kitty. She helps me knit sometimes and tonight was one of those occasions. "What, is this lap occupied? You can fool around with sticks and string anytime. I need to be petted NOW!" She's not a huge fan of the paparazzi (read: my webcam) but she's just so darn cute! <3

Monday, July 26, 2010

I made some great progress on my Kalajoki socks today! Look look look:

I've only got about two inches to go before I get to start decreasing for the toe. Well, and then there's that second sock. But I'll get there :-) I've had the house to myself, which makes for increased knitting productivity since no one's there to bully me into putting down my needles :P

Also, I promised pictures of my spoils from my most recent trip to the yarn store, The Stitching Mantis! I gotta apologize for the picture quality, I'm just working with my Mac's Photobooth and webcam, since I still can't find my camera connector cable D:

I was browsing through the fingering weight and sock yarn section of the store, and found this Plymouth Yarn Co "Happy Feet" yarn. I felt it and fell in LOVE! It's so soft and luxurious I just couldn't stand it. So I dug around in the pile and found this gorgeous colorway, and carried it around the store for 20 minutes before convincing myself that, for $6 a skein, all that softness was SO TOTALLY worth it. :D So I bought 2 skeins! It's 90% Merino wool and 10% Nylon (nylon? really? it's SO FRIGGIN SOFT!!!) AND its machine washable (always a plus!). I'm thinking a either a simple ribbed sock or something with a sweet lace stitch. Here's a pic:

This is the yarn I'm using for my Kalajoki socks, called Falk Dalegarn. It's quite soft for 100% Wool, and it's machine washable. AND it was on sale! It's gonna take me maybe a little less than 3 skeins to make both socks, so $9 total was a pretty good deal. :D

Also while burrowing around the sale shelf, I found this gorgeous treasure:

Impossibly, deliciously soft, and so light and airy and in such a gorgeous purple (they also had black and navy, but life is short: buy cool colors! but then... maybe I'll buy some of the navy and practice color work with the purple and blue? I mean: ITS ON SALE!) that I just GRABBED IT. It's called Classic Elite Yarns "Wings," It's 55% alpaca, 23% silk (!!!), 22% wool. It feels really light, even though it's technically a worsted weight yarn. Can't wait to make some scrumptious socks or maybe gauntlets out of this!

So, basically, I'm a sucker for a good deal. I love sales racks. It's kiiind of ridiculous. So I made sure I absolutely loved all my finds, made my purchases, and was about to make it out of the store with some money still miraculously left on my birthday gift certificate, when I got started talking to the wonderful sales lady there about some gauntlets I want to make for my brother. She showed me the mittens she was designing and they're GORGEOUS with great colorwork. She suggested I check out some glove and colorwork books, so I meandered over to the bookcase, just for funsies, but I really shouldn't buy anything (famous last words).

Long story short, I found Cookie A's Sock Innovation, had a mini fangirl-freakout, and bought it before I could convince myself otherwise. Witness my enthusiastic face:

So, considerably broke-er, but 7 glorious skeins and a fantastic book happier, I headed home. :-)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Current Projects, Alpacas, and New Look!

Day 1 of new blogging yay!

I currently have three projects on the needles right this moment.

Project #!:
A wedding gift for my cousin MW who got married this summer. She and her new hubby WE are the the cutest awesomest amazingest couple ever!!! So I wanted to make them something appropriately awesome. It's a blanket using Lion Brand's Autumn Leaves Afghan pattern, which is just GORGEOUS! It's got a 8-row lace pattern that just repeats along the afghan, making a bunch of vertical panels of what look like falling leaves. It's suuuch a gorgeous pattern! I'm using LB's wool-ease Chunky yarn (thinner than the super-bulky called for in the pattern, cuz I wanted it to be a little lighter, since MW and WE are moving to South Carolina) in a gorgeous blue-green color. As with all blankets in thick yarn, its working up faster than I expected, but it's soooo big! I can hardly travel with it.

Project #2:
I've been working on some socks from Melissa Morgan-Oakes book called "2-at-a-time Socks." The pattern is called Athena, and it's a gorgeous pattern with twisting cables along the front and top of the leg/foot and the back of the leg. It's SO PRETTY!! But I've had some serious trouble with tension. Every time I knit up the cables, I get so tight that I can't fit the socks over my heels anymore. D: So I've frogged and retried them multiple times. As of right now, they've just been re-frogged, and I haven't re-started them again yet because I've yoinked the needles I was using for this new project!!!

Project #3:
I've officially started knitting for Socks for Soldiers! The lady in charge (henceforth referred to as "Sarge") has promised me some regulation yarn for some regulation socks as soon as she gets the new shipment, but until then I'm starting on some great leisure socks! I'm using a gorgeous pattern called Kalajoki by Tiina Seppälä, a finnish designer, and LOVING IT! so far! It's mostly just stockinette, but with a thin section of twisted rib that winds gently down the front of the sock. SO PRETTY! Here's my progress so far:

I'm using a great superwash wool called Dalegarn Falk in a really pretty green. I figure the yarn is of a color that's bright but not unmanly, and the pattern is pretty and interesting, but still manly, too. At the moment, I'm more excited about this project than the others, so its the one I spend the most time on. ^^ Hopefully some great pictures, soon!!!

In other news!

Today is Open Farm Day in Maine, so I spent a couple good hours driving around some beautiful country and visiting some of Maine's finest Alpaca farms! I visited Longwoods Alpaca Farm in Cumberland, and Upper Farm Alpacas in Pownal. I got to get up close and personal with the alpacas at Longwoods! This beauty's name is Betsy:

They also had some gorgeous yarns to choose from, but I am unfortunately out of money, so i didn't buy anything.
Upper Farm also had some great animals, but I was really excited I got to see REAL SPINNERS IN ACTION!!! They were really nice, and explained everything and answered all of my inane questions. They make it look so easy! I reeeally want to learn how to spin, but I won't have the space for all the fiber, yarn, AND spinning wheel I'd need at school. D: (also, no money) So that project might have to wait. We got started chatting about yarn and knitting in general, and I learned all sorts of great stuff about fiber-animal farming. So I've decided that when I'm old and crotchety I'm gonna start an alpaca/llama/sheep farm somewhere with my bazillion cats and spend my time playing with fun fiber ^^

Unfortunately, I seem to have misplaced my camera-to-computer chord, so I can't post the great pics I took of my spoils from my most recent trip to my local yarn store (The Stitching Mantis), so I'll try to take some with my computer's webcam and post them tomorrow. :-)

Until then, happy knitting!

p.s. Edited this post to point out my blog's Lovely New Look! Check out the features on the right-hand side:

- A list of my current projects, which I'll keep updated
- Some links to some really groovy websites you might find helpful
- A search tool, which searches only my blog. Say, for example, you want to see any blog posts about cabling, you search "cable" and it'll show a list of all the blog posts that talk about cabling :D


New Plan

Good Gravy I suck at blogging. O.O

I believe I started this blog with good intentions but not a lot of ... shall I say ... "oommph." I didn't really commit to it, and thus it's rather patchy and not useful.

Last night, I watched this movie Julie and Julia (which is a FANTASTIC movie, by the way) about this modern chick Julie who writes a blog about going through Julia Child's french cooking cookbook and making all the recipes, while simultaneously following Julia Child's life in the past, and how she got the book together. It's really sweet and fun. BUT! Moral of this story is that I want to blog. Like, seriously.

So: New Plan.

I'm going to try to post something every day. It may be something short, all it may say is "I didn't knit today. Bummer," but it'll be good. The entries will be weird and patchy at first, a little disorganized and hard to follow, but I think once I get into a rhythm it'll smooth out and be a better read. And hey, it might get me to knit more! And I know I've enjoyed blogging so far, so what have I to lose?

All right! Starting tomorrow (well, technically later today, since I'm up way too late for my own good tonight) I'm gonna start posting every day. Wish me luck!