Sunday, April 29, 2007

Runner up socks win; $12 blocking board how-to

Here is my friend, the other Liz, modeling her new socks.

Me: Ok, Liz, I finally have your birthday present, sort of. See, I made you these *produce socks* but they came out different sizes, so tell me which one fits better and I'll make another one to match.
Other Liz: They look like they're the same size...
Me: Perfect!

Her husband thought it was terribly silly to take pictures of feet for a knitting blog* so he's the one giving bunny ears.

In other news, the blocking board has blocked a swatch. So far it seems to be working out. So without further ado, here's my tutorial on how to make a cheapass blocking board.

Step 1: go to Hobby Lobby and purchase a Pattern Cutting board. Mine is 36 by 60" and made by Wrights. cost: $6

Step 2: go to Home Depot or similar store and ask about 5 people for help before finding what you needed on your own anyway. Purchase one roll of Clear Laminate adhesive, mine is Duck brand and was also about $6. This is sheets of clear plastic that you can use to laminate kids' projects, maps, things you don't want wet, family pets, etc.

Step 3, Prep: assemble board, laminate roll, at least 2 heavy books, and scissors. Unfold board.

Step 4: Cut a strip of laminate that will go across the board the short way, plus about 2". Lay laminate down across the far right edge and use books to keep it from rolling up on itself.

Step 5: Peel back paper from laminate and fold the paper under, while carefully sticking the sticky sticky laminate to the board. Leave an inch or so hanging over the sides. Secure with book, I used Barrington Moore's Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy. Very useful and heavy.

(nice carpet, huh?)
Step 6: Press on laminate and smooth it out. Now pull the paper backing away and under Moore's book, pressing and smoothing as you go. Try to avoid wrinkles, but it's not that big a deal if some get in there. At least I hope not, because mine has several.

Step 7: Once you've pulled all the paper backing off, smooth it over with your hands again and then fold the edges of the laminate down, cutting off excess at the corners.

Step 8: Repeat as necessary to cover the board. Make sure that each sheet overlaps the one before it just a bit. I wound up needing three full sheets and a bit of change.

Step 9: Clean up trash and admire shiny new blocking board.

Because this is made with plastic that doesn't breathe well, I imagine it would be important not to put down any soaking wet knitted items for blocking, so don't forget to squeeze out excess moisture.

*I think he finds the knitting thing in general to be pretty silly, but that's muggles for ya.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Sock in a Day

I've been over at the Knitty message boards, concocting a plan. A challenge.

Is it possible (for me) to knit a sock in a day?

Readers of the Yarn Harlot may recall when she went through a couple of weeks, knitting an entire sock each day. The bulk of her discussion is here.

You guys may recall the Bearfoot sock I finished a while back (holy crap was that a month ago?!). Since then I have been working on lots of other things--Venezia, the shawl, the boobies, the large but unsuccessful swatch for a chemo cap, something else I can't reveal yet, and so on and so forth--and haven't even been able to cast on for the other sock. And I WANT that sock.

So! Finals will be over in two weeks (faints) and I've decided to take a day and make myself a sock. In a day. Just to see if it's possible, you know?

Anybody want to join me? I've been talking to interested parties over on the Knitty message boards (I'm aggie epee, if you didn't know) and we're going to set aside a week, and you get to pick your day. I'll put up a more formal post with the rules and all in a couple days.

Start warming up your needles!

p.s. Happy birthday. You know who you are.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Knitting boobs

Thanks for the comments on the socks. I have decided that y'all, especially Bradyphrenia, are smart (I guess realized would be more accurate) and the next time I see the recipient (hopefully Friday) I will present her with the mismatched socks, ask her to pick which fits better, and then confiscate the better sock so I can make another to match it. I have a sinking feeling that she will want the bigger size (harder to reproduce), but I will jump off that bridge when I come to it, as Dave always says. (me: Cross! cross that bridge!)

There was some curiosity about my thoughts on the Knitpicks DPNs. In all, I liked them. These are size 5, and they are 8" long--much longer than any other DPNs I've worked with. They are hard and shiny and long and look particularly wicked. It took me some time to get used to them, and even now that I am used to them I consider the length a little annoying and inconvenient. You could easily make an adult-sized hat without having to ever use a circular, but is that really necessary? Still, I think I will buy other sizes of them if I need them in the future. That or magic loop my Options, which I've also been doing lately.

Now for the task at hand. The blocking board actually came in third in the poll, but I decided it would be better to wait until I'd actually used it before bragging about how awesome and easy it is. You know, in case it spontaneously combusts on the first try or something.

So in the meantime, you get boobies.

I'm using Knitty's Tit Bits pattern, and as you can see I haven't assembled this first one yet. The yarn is Ornagi filati "Praemium" mercerized cotton. The one with more hot pink is the inner shell. I thought it would be fun to have a little hidden burst of color, plus it would save the fleshy color and I wouldn't have to worry about running out. Now I worry that it looks like the boob's "guts," but let's pretend that's what I was going for.

These are for a dear friend of my mother's, who is also the mother of one of my friends from high school. She was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer and had a double mastectomy last week. She'll go through chemo for a while and then have reconstructive surgery, but she hasn't decided yet what size she wants her new bosom to be. Mom and I, with another of their friends, are planning to make her a few pairs of these in different sizes so she can "try them on," so to speak. I made mine DD, which will probably be closest to her old size. The pen is in that picture for scale.

Here is something you should all know about this Knitty pattern. If you do the knotted I-cord nipple, it will look sweet when you have knotted it...

...but fairly disturbing before you do so.

Just to warn you. And don't forget to do your breast self-exam!


Thursday, April 19, 2007

Runner Up

I really enjoyed reading all your comments on the Journeyman Piece. I'm glad it gave you guys some food for thought.

Coming in at second place in the poll:

I'm glad the voting came out the way it did, because it gave me a great idea for the name for these socks: the Runner-Up Socks. Cute, huh?

These are for the February birthday of a good friend of mine. Sadly, they may not be done yet. Due to changing needles and changing stress levels, the second sock is *significantly* smaller than the first sock. Before you get on me about changing needles partway through a project (actually halfway through sock 1), I have to say that the Lantern Moon dpns I bought for this originally are the devil incarnate, and I would have lost my mind if I hadn't bought the Knitpicks ones and switched. For $25, I should not get two needles with splintered tips. (Yeah, I know I need to talk to the company or the LYS, but I really don't want them replaced. I want to forget they ever happened. I like metal now.)

I'm going to see if they block to the same size, and if not I'll just knit a third one. That'll be extra fun.

These socks were wonderful and simple, and I plan to use the pattern again to make footies for other people as Christmas gifts. I know it's only April, but what do you have to give your parents for their respective Mother's and Father's days?

Yay for free (copyrighted) patterns! Use it, love it, tell me if I made a boo-boo, tell me if you make some, but don't sell them!

Runner Up Socks: Worsted Weight Footies

Requirements: Mission Falls 1824 Wool, 2 skeins in your main color (MC) and 1 skein in the contrast color (CC) for heels and toes; any worsted weight yarn should work. The Mission Falls is superwash: bonus!
US 5 double-pointed needles

Gauge: 22 sts =4” (5.5 sts=1”)

CO 40 sts in MC and join to work in the round.

Work 6 rounds in 2x2 rib.

Work four rows in stockinette. Break MC. (I actually think these would work well if you added a few more rows of stockinette before starting the heel.)

Begin heel flap: Turn work and purl 20 sts in CC.
Row 2: *Sl1, K1* to end of row.
Row 3: Sl1, p across
Repeat rows 2 and 3 until you have 22 total rows in heel flap, end with a RS row.

Heel turn:
Row 1: sl 1, p10, p2tog, p1, turn
Row 2: sl1, k3, ssk, k1, turn.
Row 3: sl1, purl to within 1 st of gap, p2tog, p1, turn
Row 4: sl 1, k to within 1 st of gap, ssk, k1, turn
Rep rows 3 and 4 until all sts are worked, end after row 4. Break yarn.

With MC, starting just to the left of the last stitch you worked, PU about 13 or 14 sts on side of gusset. Knit across top of foot, then pick up the same number of sts on the other side of the gusset. Work across heel flap, then arrange needles so that the round begins in the middle of the heel flap.

Gusset decreases:
Row 1: Knit to last 2 sts of needle 1, ssk. Knit across top of foot. On needle 4, k2tog, then knit to end of needle.
Row 2: Knit to last 3 sts of needle 1, k2tog, k1. Knit across top of foot. On needle 4, k1, ssk, then knit to end.
Row 3: K all sts.
Repeat rows 2 and 3 until 10 sts remain on all needles.

Foot: Knit to 2” short of the length of the foot. Break yarn.

Toe: Join CC for toe
Row 1: K all sts
Row 2 (decrease round): K to last 3 sts of needle 1, k2tog, k1. On needle 2, k1, ssk, k to end of needle. On needle 3, k to last 3 sts, k2tog, k1. On needle 4, k1, ssk, k to end. 36 sts rem.
Rows 3 and 4: K all sts
Row 5: Decrease round. 32 sts.
Rows 6 and 7: k all sts
Row 8: Decrease round. 28 sts.
Row 9: K all sts
Row 10: Decrease round. 24 sts.
Row 11: k all sts
Row 12: Decrease round. 20 sts.
Row 13: Decrease round. 16 sts.

Knit across needle 1. Break yarn, leaving a long tail. Transfer stitches from needle 4 to needle 1 and from needle 2 to needle 3 so that all the stitches from the top of the foot are on one needle and all the stitches from the bottom of the foot are on the other. Graft the remaining stitches together.

I hope you like them!


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Journeyman piece

Well, you guys voted, so here they are: all the ends I have woven in and cut off of Venezia. I haven't done anything yet with the ends that will be in the steeks, as I plan to take care of those after the armholes are seamed.

I forgot to put anything in the picture for scale, but each of the squares on that mat are 1/2" square. Those ends fill a space about 6.5" by 7".

Yall, that is like 300 bits of yarn.

So, I've been thinking about Venezia, and I've been thinking about what it means for me as a knitter to have knit something like this. Six months ago, when people said that I was a really good knitter or an advanced knitter, I didn't think it was true. I'd never knit a sweater, I'd never done a real lace project, and there were a million other things I'd never mastered either. I had a long way to go, and I knew it.

Now I'm nearly done with my third sweater, and this third one really isn't just any sweater. It's a completely patterned fair isle on size 2 needles, with cap sleeves and steeks and shaping, and it's taken me over four months. I seem to have gotten a big head about my knitting. I don't protest as much when people call me an advanced knitter. I mean, maybe I am. I'm no Yarn Harlot and I'm no Eunny, but among us mortals I'm probably somewhere above average.

And then, because I'm a history dork, I started thinking about guilds. Not your local knitting guild where you meet up to talk about finished objects and lace and what charity needs what item. Medieval craft guilds. Mastercraftsmen formed the membership of these guilds, and they had an exclusive monopoly to practice their craft in their city. Some of these guilds were incredibly powerful. The wool guild in Florence basically funded the construction of the famous cathedral, and then they got this street named after them (via of the art of wool).

Families who wanted their sons to learn a craft sent them to work for masters at a fairly young age, and the boys spent several years learning the basics and then the finer points of the craft. When the master deemed them ready, they were promoted to journeyman after completing a piece that demonstrated that they had mastered all the necessary skills.

Journeymen are called that both because they traveled around, learning new tricks and skills from other masters, and because they were essentially day laborers (day=journée). When they had learned as much as they could, and the local guild decided they were ready, the journeyman would complete a new piece, the master piece. Upon its completion he became, not just a master of his craft and a full member of the guild, but legally an adult. He could finally marry and own property.

(Of course, by the time I start studying European history them this last bit, promotion to master, wasn't working so well as masters tried to protect their economic positions. Journeymen got really bitter, and they make up most of the mobs in any major revolution of the 18th and early 19th centuries.)

But back to me. Venezia is not my masterpiece. There are mistakes in it. I still have a lot to learn before I might feel like I've mastered this craft. Entrelac. Intarsia. Provisional cast-ons. Purling in continental style. How to shape a cap sleeve, without a pattern. How to write a really good pattern. How to weave in an end on a scarf so it never shows up again.

But for all the skills I'm lacking, there is a lot that I know now that I didn't know a year ago. And really, I have gotten pretty good at a few things. I have started thinking of Venezia as my journeyman piece. It's a symbol that even though I still have a long ways to go, I do have a grasp of most of the important knitting skills. I have completed my apprenticeship.


Monday, April 16, 2007


I've got a bunch of stuff going right now, and each thing seems to deserve its own blog post. So here's a question: which would you like to see first?

1) FO report on the blue and white anklets, with free pattern.

2) How I made (will make, if you choose this option) my $10 blocking board.

3) A beautiful picture of all the ends I cut off of Venezia, with some musings on it.

4) Why I'm knitting prosthetic breasts.

You will get all of these eventually, it's just a question of what you want to see first.

Edited so I don't get your hopes up: The upcoming Venezia post will not contain a finished Venezia. It will just be about "the finishing".

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The next sweater will be easier...

Wow, you guys sure do respond to dramatic reenactments of steeking!

Which is why I thought I'd let you know: the neckband is done. I have finished all the knitting.

Once I've woven in all the ends on the body I will take a picture of my assembled piles of ends (THOUSANDS.) for your mind-boggling pleasure. Then it's blocking and sewing time!


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Eeek! Steeks!

Dramatic re-enactment. Of course I was way too nervous during the process to document it properly.


Hoppy Easter

Wow, it's 40 degrees outside. In Texas. In April. Man, wouldn't this be a perfect day to wear a cute little fair isle sweater? Too bad somebody hasn't finished hers! Too bad the mid-80s temps of the last month sucked away her motivation to finish it, even though she knew that these cold snaps are actually pretty common! Oops!

In a fit of cold-induced motivation yesterday I finished Left Sleeve v 2.0 and then wove in all the ends that won't be involved in the steek. I managed to do this all in one sitting, which made me kind of happy. I only have the ends from the body left to do, and I'm saving them all so I can show you guys how insane this pile of ends is.

The real reason I'm posting right now is to show you how far I got on the Cherry Leaf Shawl while I was ignoring Venezia (with sunglasses for scale).

And the flash-free closeup so you can see the crumply crumples:

Amazing how I can't capture the colors here with or without flash, but both ways pretty much capture the shade of my Orange Couch. Are you surprised to hear that when my friends and I discuss possible locations for hanging out, my place is generally referred to as Orange Couch Land? And, if you've ever wondered about the white background in most of my pics, those are the pillows I put on top of the couch so the orange doesn't detract from the rest of the picture.

I will say, this couch is hella comfortable.

Anyway, back to the knitting. I am now 18 repeats in and only just had to switch to the second ball of yarn. I am aiming for at least 25 repeats, but it's only 40" across right now (unstretched) so even that may be too small. It does get annoying how every row takes a little longer than the one before. I wish I'd done the shawl in the recommended needle size (7, not 5), as I think I'd be a lot closer to being done. Oh well, at least I have some intense Venezia finishing to distract me!

Happy Easter, guys.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

I want

I want a swift. I went to visit with Dave this week and he got to play yarn swift for the first time. He turned out to be better at turning the crank on the ball winder, so then I got to play swift. Still easier than using my knees, but oh that tool would be nice. I told him that if he needs ideas for my birthday (June) he should look into swifts, because isn't this a pain in the butt?

I also want some socks colored like Bluebonnets. I have procured some Easter Egg Dye and plan to get some more when everything goes on sale. I want them to be that deep blue with white spots. Anybody know how to get white spots on your yarn dye job?


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Frolicking and Flashing

Check out my mom's blog! She promises to post pictures eventually. Décousue.

It's been a fun weekend, but soon I will have to go back to studying and learn what Max Weber has to say about vocations.

On Friday I decided, at the last minute, to head home and say hello to the fambly. My grandparents, aunt, cousin, cousin's wife and kid all came down to cheer my cousin on in a sprint triathalon. He came in 3rd among all the first-time competitors. Yay! And I got tasty food.

On Saturday I headed up to my dear friend Vera's family ranch, about an hour northwest of here. This is absolutely the best time of year to drive through Texas. All the wildflowers are blooming, and OMG it was gorgeous. On the road to her house I saw some alpacas! One of their neighbors, who apparently has "more money than he knows what to do with," had a pair of alpacas. They were frolicking about, probably working on producing some babies, but nothing x-rated was happening as I drove by. This guy apparently has plenty of interesting animals, including gazelles or something of that sort.

We had a great time catching up, and I finally gave her the little bear I made back in October. I pretended it was for Christmas, which was only slightly less embarrassing.

I came home today and discovered that April 1st is the day you flash your stash.

Thanks, flash, for totally washing out all that undyed knitpicks stuff.

Zoom in on all the partially used skeins. Sock yarn is on the right.

And all the ones I haven't used yet. Wool and animal fibers on the right (including that expanse of white), acrylics on the left. Somehow my one unused ball of dishcloth cotton has escaped, so it isn't in the picture.

There's a good chance I'll use about half the yarn in this picture *eventually*. There are some really pretty novelty yarns in there I want to use as trim on some things I'm working on, but most of it will, sadly, probably continue to languish. A lot of the other stuff I may eventually donate to charity or sell on Ebay or something.

I was feeling bad about the amount of yarn I have that I may never use, and about the fact that it wouldn't fit in my little plastic drawers anymore, until I decided to see how much I could get in one of my empty dresser drawers and it all fit.

So I guess that's happy ending, right?