Friday, June 27, 2008

You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)

STR Mediumweight in Pride
Apparently I don't have a conference talk to be writing, childrens' suitcases to be packing (they're going to Ireland for a month. A MONTH.), or affairs to be gotten in order before my own journey abroad, because I seem to have a lot of free else can one explain spending an entire day and a good part of yesterday evening figuring out the Socks That Rock Mediumweight 'Pride' Pooling Dilemma of June 2008™?

See, I ordered this little lovely several weeks ago and it has been burning a hole in my stash ever since. Everything about this skein was just screaming GET IT GIRL and CAST ME ON, GIRLFRIEND. The colors, the smell (you know the smell I'm talking about), the fact that I am probably a gay man trapped in a middle aged woman's body, the disproportionate relationship between numbers of socks already on the needles and the somewhat maniacal need to cast on for more sock projects. All these things meant that I was destined to wind 'er up and start the gears turning.

Pattern-wise I went to a tried and true stand-by, the Garter Rib pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks. Alas my first attempt (size 2.5 needles, 56 sts) left me deflated and dejected by the hideous pooling and creepy blotching that we have all come to despise. Blech.

After a peanut-butter sandwich and wine-gums break, my resolve had redoubled and I was ready to attempt the same pattern but on size 1.5 needles and with 64 sts. This iteration was indeed an improvement, but sadly the result was somewhat toward the piss poor side of things and certainly not worthy of my Gay Owned and Operated Skein. Back to the drawing board!

This is where it suddenly dawned on me that I had a legion of experts with fingers poised at their keyboards, constantly refreshing their screens on the Ravelry boards, waiting for a question such as mine. These cognoscenti did not disappoint: they ultimately led me to the pattern I should have been trying all along, the RPM (cue sunbursts and the sound of angels singing). Thanks, Ladies.
STR Pride RPMs...
Yes, these are the socks that Pride was meant to be. No horrid pooling, no unsightly liver spots, just luscious, queer-friendly spirals. And the fact that the pattern on Knitty has a quote from Dead or Alive's 'You Spin me Round...', well Sylvester herself couldn't have scripted this any better now, could she?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

KAL floozy

For someone who has spent the better part of her life cultivating an outsider, 'Holden Caulfield' personality, boy do I seem to be a joiner. Right now I find myself signed up for no less than seven knitalongs, and I am sure that more will be coming down the pike. Obviously one of the things we all love about this Ravelry/knitblog daisy chain world of ours is the social interaction that it affords--so many tips and tricks to share and gather, what's not to love? What is pleasant about the kal is that it presents a microsphere for this interaction, its own little special project clusterf*ck. Break out the lube, that's what I say!

Jitterbug pals
Summer of Socks 2008: Jessica does such an amazing job with this, the sheer number of participants is mind boggling. I like this kal because of its sock-centric-ness. I have already gotten many ideas and pattern suggestions from fellow sock knitters and am way into the contests and such. Note that because of the SOS Kal, the Jitterbug above will all be socks by the end of the summer...

Project Spectrum 3.0: Ok, technically not a kal, but still a common project with participants from far and wide that all contribute. I have just loved the way that the colors have been organized this year, and while my sorry ass hasn't managed to complete a single project in time, I enjoy seeing everyone else's work.

Tour de France KAL: Like I said before, this kal has the potential for kismet writ large. A French teacher knitting a special project during the month of July and then cheering on her team on the Champs-Elysées at the finish? Yes, please.

Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in 'Cami Chic'
Cami Chic KAL: Have I cast on for this one yet? No. But what a great concept--knitters all using the same colorway (Cami Chic) of Hazel Knits artisan sock yarn and experimenting with different patterns, stitch counts and gauges. I am so theoretically on board with this one!

Bitter much?
Fair Along KAL: Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know the bitter disappointment I suffered last year at the hands of the local farm show judges and their punk ass third place ribbons. I have joined Larissa Brown's kal for state fairs not so much as a motivator to enter but rather as a support group for when my world comes crashing down again next September. And make no mistake, it will.

Malabrigo Silky in 'Acorn'
Eye of Partridge KAL: Another Ravelry group. I started my shawl in some Malabrigo lace and now am thinking about restarting it in my new Malabrigo Silky Acorn (see above), mainly because I like saying 'silky acorn'.

Olympic Trials KAL: I haven't given this one too much thought, but when my craven little heart saw this group on Ravelry I just clicked 'add me to this group'. (See? A joiner). Apparently you knit an entire project during the Summer Games in August. I can do that, and so can you!

Please let me know which KALs you are participating in. Am I missing out on any?

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Snood

We have been in Philadelphia for the past day or two on a little family wing ding (with our California peeps also in tow). The car ride there allowed me the opportunity to get a little low cognitive load knitting done. The long trek on the turnpike also unfortunately allowed me to experience what is called in my family an 'ebm' (emergency bowel movement--it comes out of nowhere with the urgency and brightness of a thousand suns and cannot be ignored), which resulted in us bringing the car to a screeching halt and me making a break for it in the tall grass. Reason #86 why I love the Curmudgeon: after several glorious moments of blessed release (for me. The kids were what can only be described as desperately ashamed and humiliated) he simply got out of the car and approached me with a large blanket, thereby giving me the opportunity to, you know, wipe. Love this guy. Several handiwipes later and more than a few honks from truckers who must have had quite a guffaw at my expense, we were back in business. Was that too much information for you, gentle reader?
Back in the car I was able to finish my two easy projects. Both are cowls based on the Gloria cowl, but would be renamed later by their recipient. Here they are in their pre-gifted state:
Pre-Gifted State

I must say one of the joys of the cowl is that you really get to see what various fingering/dk yarns look like knitted up in something other than a sock. The result here was pure love, both on the part of the knitter and the recipient, who later redubbed these 'snoods' rather than cowls. This guy has a bit of a flare for the absurd and a gift for language, so I wasn't going to argue. 'Snood' is what happens when you make a scarf that looks like a hood with an extra 'n' thrown in for alitteration.

The Snood
The Specs:
Pattern: Based on the Gloria Cowl
Yarn: Lucy Neatby Celestial Bluefaced DK in Bottle (the greenish one) and Hand Maiden Casbah Sock (no color given). Both are fabulous, for very different reasons. The former for the interesting, deep color variations within one skein and the latter for its unbelievable softness.
Needles: Size 9 and 8, respectively
Mods: Both have a garter stitch border rather than the seed stitch called for in the pattern. In retrospect I would have made this much longer as there is a bit of the dreaded curling, but it's not that big of a deal, right?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Keep It Simple Stupid: Summer Knitting Goals 2008

It's that time of the year to set some summer knitting goals. Thanks to Ali for reminding me to make my goals public, thereby insuring that none of them will ever come to fruition. Heh. Do we really need to revisit last summer's goals, which involved making cocktails a priority and didn't really seem to produce much in the way of impressive knitting objects? I'd be lying if I said that adult beverages weren't still a part of my summer plans this year, but hopefully they won't interfere with my knitting. Maybe we'll just try to use the k.i.s.s. principle (see title of post) and set the bar really, really low, so that I can feel triumphant at the end of the summer rather than diminished, dejected and bitter (emotions that I am very prone to feeling, but just hopefully not about my knitting this time around). So here goes:

Chevron in Progress
1. Continue on with the cavalcade of Chevron scarves. The one pictured above is almost half way completed--and I know this is a shocker, but some imprudent late night clickety on the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Website means that I have three more color combos on deck, so I'll be chevroning well into 2010. You can see the color combos below, one is my own, the other two are shamelessly cribbed from others, more intrepid than me:
Future Chevrons of America Unite!

2. Choose a good project for the Tour de France KAL--one that won't instantly leave me dead in the water, like the Canal du Midi fiasco of 2007. It needs to be a project that I can bring along with me to Paris, where I'll actually be for the finish of the race. This potentially has kismet written all over it, so I need to choose well.
Blueberry Waffle Socks in STR Heavyweight in Lagoon.
3. Complete all of the various socks that I have on the go at the moment (that would be three singletons). Top of the list to finish are the Blueberry Waffle (above), a pattern which is beyond easy. STR Heavyweight on a size 4 needle? These should have done ages ago!

4. Knit a pair of socks for a new friend. Isn't making new friends such a thrill? I recently met a fantastic fellow with whom I instantly clicked, and since I'll be seeing him again soon, I figure I have plenty of time to whip up a pair of socks in some STR Heavyweight in Lagoon. Any pattern suggestions?

5. Watch as many Busby Berkeley musicals as I can get my hands on. Not a knitting goal, but those crazy dance routines are truly some of the nuttiest, most impressive moments of cinema ever created. And somehow watching depression-era escapist extravaganzas seems appropriate for these financially precarious times. See for yourself:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Monkeys in STR Sunstone
You know it's time to think about packing it in when the crazy guy in the public park (where you are doing your FO photo shoot, because it's right across from your hotel) stops his ham-fisted rant about the One World Bank and the Endtimes to sheepishly ask you "Hey, what are you doing?" in a very well-mannered, even reasonable tone. Why, I'm taking picture of socks that I made, why do you ask? NOW who's the crazy one?
Monkeys in STR Sunstone
The Socks That Need No Introduction are finished and I am predictably quite pleased with them. The Socks that Rock Sunstone color has been quite the conversation piece for me as the color seems to attract onlookers droves. "What a gorgeous color!" has been frequently heard as I have been working on these solidly during the past week. It kind of reminds me of my twenties when I used to read the comic book Eight Ball in public and get propositioned by nerdy guys on a regular basis. Such a great pick-up strategy, don't you think? Sadly none of them were old enough to drive, and barely-legal wasn't really my thing anyway...but I had a good thing going there for awhile.
Monkeys in STR Sunstone
The Specs:
Pattern: Monkey Socks by Cookie A.
Yarn: Socks that Rock Lightweight in 'Sunstone'
Needles: HiyaHiya 1.5 circs
Time: Feb.-June 2008
Monkeys in STR Sunstone
I worked on these during breaks and work stoppages from the correcting I have been doing. One of the people who stopped to admire my knitting was a very gracious French woman who noted that she wished she's learned to tricoter (knit) so she too could have something to tripoter (fiddle with/fondle). The word can also have a slightly dirty connotation, like to feel someone up. Besides the obvious phonic and graphic similarity of these two words, there does appear to be a semantic link as well. It seems to me that it is this notion of fiddling/fondling that does contribute to the appeal of our little hobby.
The tactile sensation of knitting is in my mind one of its greatest appeals. It just feels right to have a little something soft between the fingers, doesn't it?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

No matter how you say it, it's a great place to be.

Louisville: one freaking cool town
I am thinking that it's only fair to return the favor and start calling this fair state 'Kennsylvania'--why should Kentucky always be the butt of the joke? I am pleased to report that once again I am back in the border town of Louisville for an entire week as the AP Exam reading has rolled into town once again, bringing with it legions of academics and high school teacher who all have one thing on their minds: the buffet line the academic achievement of our nation's youth.

On my mind as well is one of my favorite LYSs ever: The Knit Nook. Now I would love this store even without the name, as my love of the word 'nook' is well-documented. But The Knit Nook has so much to recommend it: cool owners (Kristin and Cindy, a mother/daughter team), an ultra-friendly clientele, which includes a group of women who welcome you and make you feel like one of the gang (thanks for humoring me, ladies!), and of course, the yarn.
The Knit Nook in Louisville
I can't tell you how nice it felt after a series of early morning planes, trains and automobiles to sit down and knit a spell with these ladies at the big table. Now I am usually not a fan of the big table. In some less welcoming stores it spells pure treachery: you walk in, everyone at the big table in the center of the room gives you the stink eye while the owner issues a lukewarm "...can I help you with anything?", and you feel so uncomfortable that you leave after a few moments, convinced that they are all talking about you, of which you can in fact be certain, because you yourself have been at the big table before and know The Drill.

None of that at the Knit Nook, it's not that kind of place. And I love that.

Are there LYSs on your circuit that have the same hospitable vibe going for it? Let's compare notes...

Monday, June 02, 2008

The Chevron is finished. Long Live the Chevron!

Velvet Grapes for Alice!
Thank you for revealing your knitting weaknesses to me in the last post. I will now be using them against you and serving them back up when you least expect it. Remember: my name is Heather and we are all evil...pure evil...*cuing Vincent Prince music*

Many of you wondered which cast-on I actually use since the long-tail method is beyond my capabilities. I vacillate between the cable and the knitted methods, and used to happily use the thumb cast-on until a local knitting acquaintance/wench called it the "kindergarten" cast-on, thereby ruining it for me forever but also giving me the opportunity to cut her out of my life. Many of you also noted your difficulties with the provisional cast-on, which I can inexplicably do, especially after watching the Lucy Neatby video on Youtube. Check it out, it might be helpful.

Regarding that Velvet Grapes that I no longer need, someone noted that perhaps I should be holding on to it since the Malabrigo mill experienced a fire last week. One glance at my stash on Ravelry will reveal that I won't likely experience a Malabrigo shortage any time soon, but thanks for your concern. The random number generator worked its magic and now the skein will be winding its way across hill and dale to Alice!
chevron in koigu
This weekend marked a very special moment in this knitter's life: I finished a Chevron scarf. I mean, how many times in your knitting life can you make that claim? I have to say that despite my passive-aggressive moments and anger management issues related to this scarf, I totally get why people love this project. Finally.
chevron in koigu
Yes, it takes forever.
chevron in koigu
Yes, you feel like a knittingbot that knits and knits and still doesn't get anywhere.

However maybe the Chevron's role is not that of main knitting project (i.e. you need it to satisfy your needs for a finished object) but rather that of stalwart side-project companion (you have it by your bedside, take it to you kids' orchestra concerts, work on it when your husband is lecturing you about money--oops, that's still passive aggressive), that is knit not with the expectation that it will be finished anytime soon, but fulfills your physical urge to stitch away and watch the nutty colors change up nonetheless.
chevron in koigu
The Specs
Pattern: Chevron Scarf, LMKG
Yarn: One skein each of Koigu can't-read-the-numbers and Koigu P-something-or-other-9
Needles: size 5 addi turbos
Dates: December 07-May 08
Mods: A fairly significant one, in fact. I only used one skein each, so in fact that the scarf is half the recommended length, which as it turns out is plenty long for me. It passed my French scarf tying technique and fit, so I am happy.

Another appealing aspect of the Chevron is the dizzying color combinations that it affords. You can spend hours and hours on the Ravelry gallery page and imagine all sorts of different outcomes. "Oh, STR Puck's Mischief and Titania, that would be amazing for so many reasons....". I do have another one on the needles and another one planned (STR County Clareand Lemongrass--I know, right?), but hopefully reality will set in and I will rein myself in. Ha!