Wild and Unrestrained Stash Enhancement

First there was a visit to the Australian Country Spinners mill shop in Wangaratta.

Where I practised my stash manifesto promise that I’d buy enough, and bought heaps of burgundy and brown Inca, blue 8ply and some aqua Patonyle from the ‘tangled yarns’ bin.

Then once we were in Canberra, we had to pop into Stitch’n'time.

Where I bought ten balls of Cleckheaton Bamboo in white, Merino et Soi in cream, Naturally Sensation in a creamy white, Lang Jawoll sock yarn in a purple/black mix and a set of Brittany Birch dpns.

(Then this morning I cursed my way through working out how to take photos in a format my laptop would accept, edit them, find the progam didn’t save the editing, and ended up just uploading them as they are. Which is why one is sideways. Sigh.)

I know some other knitters at this convention have smuggled along a wip. There’s going to be a bit of KIP going on in the audience of panels, in dark corners and out in broad daylight the incandescent light of the convention centre lobby, I suspect.

Quick and Dirty

Last Friday I needed a portable project to knit on the train to the city, but the cable sock pattern I’d chosen to try first, William Street, required a needle size I didn’t have. I knew I could get a set in the city, but that left me with half an hour of train time with no knitting.

So I grabbed some yarn I’d been wanting to knit for ages – my sole skein of Socks That Rock – and cast on for some plain ol’ toe-up stocking stitch socks. Now, I’d always assumed the colourway for these would be something chocolatey, given the rich browns. But when I had a look, I was amused to find it’s called ‘Terra Firma’.

In other words, ‘Dirt’.

So these are going to be my Quick and Dirty socks. Though I did pick up some needles for the William Street Socks, I haven’t started them yet. Life’s been hectic of late, and all I’ve managed is a few more cm of garter stitch on my vest. And it’s not going to get any quieter. I’m off to Canberra this week. There may knitting on the road. There may be a visit to the Australian Country Spinners mill shop. There may be some yarn shopping at my host’s local LYSs. There may be an opportunity to jump on someone’s computer and post some stash enhancement photos.

Or you may have to wait until next week. In the meantime… knit responsibly.

The Sock Zing

I started the Cablenet socks last night but… well… I quickly found they just didn’t ‘zing’. Maybe it was the 2mm needles, maybe the yarn (Opal can be a touch ‘hard’), maybe the gadzillion stitches for each round, maybe the fact it took me half an hour to do the first three rows of the cable pattern and I had a headache by the end of it.

But I’m sure if I was lovin’ the pattern, I’d be overlooking all of the above. Something I’m learning from this sock challenge, that I didn’t expect, is that some patterns just work for you and some don’t. Some are going to make my hands and back hurt and some just flow off the needles. A few false starts are to be expected. I’m fine with that.

I considered restarting, using the smallest size but knit with thicker yarn and needles. But I really didn’t take to the tiny cable thing. Which is interesting, because I love cables. Seems that love isn’t unconditional.

Knitty, as I mentioned earlier, isn’t plentiful in the cabled sock department, and no cabled socks jumped out at me from Favourite Socks, so what to do? I looked at my original blog post again, noticed something and started to grin. Item c) actually says ‘Favorite Socks or an issue of Interweave Knits magazine’. Wasn’t there a bunch of cabled socks in the last issue?

Suddenly I’m spoilt for choice.

I’m not so enamoured of the Honeycomb Socks, and Genome Socks seem a little too easy. I didn’t like the Flying Buttress Socks at first, but I realised that’s because I don’t like the colour of the toes. The two patterns I’m finding most appealing are the Ambrosia Socks and William Street Socks.

I’m going to download the latter two patterns and see if see if the sock zing starts happening with one of them.

Project Spectrum Purple

Back in the 90s a work friend and I used to try out evening classes teaching various crafts, and one of them was silk painting. I became quite obsessed with it. So obsessed, I bought a 50 metre roll of silk and made my own stretcher.

Eventually I got to the point where I, and my friends, family, workmates, people I passed on the street had all received scarves for christmas and birthdays and whatever other excuse I could come up with. I tried selling the scarves, which was my first and only demoralising experience at holding a stall in a craft market. I really hated the hemming. (Pre-hemmed scarves only came out toward the end of my obsession.) Eventually I couldn’t afford to have anything professionally steam fixed, and couldn’t find a method to do it at home that didn’t affect the dye, and I just gave up.

For this year’s Project Spectrum I’ve been reviving old crafts I used to do. Every time I considered what craft to revive next, I’ve considered silk painting. Every time I’ve thought “Noooooooooooooo!”.

But last week, having dragged a few more boxes from my old house to this one and doing the usual examination and cull, I found the silk painting supplies and reconsidered. I needed a purple project, and there was a method I’d stumbled on toward the end of my silk painting obsession that might be worth trying again.

It’s so simple it felt a little like cheating, but I didn’t care because it’s actually a lot of fun. The method involves laying out plastic, placing the silk loosely scrunched on top, dropping dye onto it until it’s mostly covered, and squeezing it with your hands to help spread and mix the colours. (I recommend using gloves. I know, it should be obvious, but I didn’t and had purple hands for the next 24 hours.)

None of this tracing lines with gutta and carefully painting the dye inside so it mixes just so. That all seems so fussy now.

Next came the steaming. You’re supposed to lie the scarf flat on paper, roll it up so no silk is in contact with silk, and carefully steam it in a way that avoids condensation dripping onto the package.

Pah! Forget that. I just scrunched the scarf up again, put it between two sheets of paper towel and tied it up loosely with string. Into the steamer for 40 minutes then a quick wash to get rid of any excess dye.

The result is an appealing subtle texture that had the beau wondering out loud if I could make him some photography backdrops.

I pulled out 5mm worth of threads all around to make a fringed edge and it was done. It was surprisingly painless, and I’m thinking of making more.

Ravelry

I’m in! I’d predicted from the rate I was heading along the waiting list that I’d get my invite at the end of the month. So I was pleasantly surprised to receive my invite today. Woohoooo!

My username is chocolatetrudi.

Butterfly Bows

They’re done and they’re perfect. They may be my favourite challenge socks so far.

From: Socks Sock Socks
Yarn: Colinette Jitterbug ‘Marble’
Needles: 2.25 mm bamboo dpns
Type: Top-down
New experiences: the cutest little stitch technique
Comments: I’d prefer the leg a smidge longer. The size was for a child’s medium, but fit me perfectly, but that probably says more about my stupidly narrow feet than the pattern. The yarn suits this mostly stocking stitch fabric much better than the twisted rib of the failed Ripple Weave socks.

One sock has more pink bits, while the other has more green, but it isn’t obvious and doesn’t bother me.

A note on the Bakerloo (sideways) socks – I’ve now worn them for a day, with and without shoes, and the seams where I picked up stitches didn’t bother me.

Also, thankyou to Lyn for her comment on the “Right and Wrong” post. You’re right, it’s nice to have control over something. I think that’s why I wasn’t distressed about frogging the Flow Motion socks. They were something I wasn’t enjoying that I could get rid of. I wonder if I would have if I wasn’t in this building black hole…

Decisions, Decisions

I have two sock challenge socks left to knit. One from Knitty and one from Favourite Socks. One with cables and one made from non-wool sock yarn.

Since I don’t have any non-wool sock yarn I’ve just ordered some Crystal Palace Panda Solid, which is 55% bamboo, 24% cotton, & 21% elastic nylon. To make the US postage worthwhile, I also ordered some Fleece Artist Sea Wool and Dream in Colour Smooshy. Last time I ordered some sock yarn just to try it out, I ordered three or four colourways only to discover I didn’t like the yarn very much. This time I figure I’ll try a few other sock yarns out instead.

In the meantime I get to choose a cable sock pattern from either Knitty or Favourite Socks. But, well, looking through Knitty… there aren’t a lot of socks patterns I like. Probably because there are heaps of lace patterns. And there aren’t a lot of cabled ones. I really like Cable net and Clessidra.

Looking through Favourite Socks, there are a lot more patterns I like but no cable pattern that leaps out at me. It might be safer, then, to use this pattern source for the non-wool sock yarn.

So back to Knitty. It’s probably just a romantic notion, but I think a proper cable pattern ought to extend down the heel as it does on Cable net. But while on Clessidra it doesn’t, I do rather fancy a pair of knee-highs. Unfortunately the only yarn I have in quantities large enough to make knee-highs is varigated and would probably obscure the cable pattern.

So it looks like Cable net is the winner.

Flow Motion Sickness

Last night I knit the second Flow Motion sock up to the end of the first pattern repeat of the leg. Then I transferred the needles back to the first one and knit to the same point. Then I tried them on.

I don’t like them.

Now, I have to say I do like the idea of this pattern. It’s so nifty to put the instep increases at the top of the foot to create a graceful ‘v’ effect. There’s a pattern in the new Knitty that does this, too.

The length of foot sizing problems would easily be solved by doing this top down. I’ve always been a toe-up sock knitter. It makes so much more sense doing it that way. But not with these socks.

And then there’s the lace. Oh, how I loathed the lace. I don’t like how it looks. I don’t like knitting it.

(And to be honest, they’re a smidge tight and hard to get on, but that’s entirely my fault.)

So last night I decided I would rather lie out on the road and wait to be run over than knit another pattern repeat, let lone another six. These would have to be anklets. I followed the instructions for the moss stitch cuff and picot edge top. I started sewing down the hem. But then the dvd we were watching ended, and I put it aside. A night’s sleep would help me decide what to do.

This morning I took these photos as proof that I did, indeed, knit me a pattern from Vogue, which had lace in it, satisfying my Sock Challenge requirements. (I never said I had to actually finish them, did I?)

Then I frogged them.

Right and Wrong

It’s coming up on a year past the date our house extension was supposed to be finished. A pair of house-sized units have been built in a street nearby within that time, and the tollway tunnel – the multi-billion dollar TUNNEL for freak’s sake – is likely to be completed before our house is done. There’s nothing we can do but put up with this and wait however many years the builder wants to take to finish, or sign off on the job let him keep the money he’s got from us for unfinished work. It’s all very wrong.

Because of the stress and interruptions the book I’m writing is likely to miss its deadline and for the same reasons I’ve not been enjoying the writing process much at all. Which is also so very wrong. I have to keep reminding myself that I love writing, and I’ve never had these writing doldrums before, and that the reason for them is temporary.

To get the quiet, interruption free time to write, I’ve turned the week upside down. Weekends are now writing days, and any day we have no tradies here. Weekdays with tradies are days off. Swapping weekends and weekdays like this also feels wrong. I can hear my neighbours playing with their little daughter in the sunshine and suddenly it’s hard to stay hunched over the computer not enjoying trying to make the book a little less late than it might be.

In comparison, knitting is easy. Achievable. Relatively stress-free. No deadlines. No dust. Nobody ripping us off. No huge bills. Even when I get it wrong, it’s so right. I tell you, if I do finally crack they’ll find me huddled, knitting, in a nest of yarn, probably naked and giggling. And drooling. (Let’s not make the mental image too inviting to my subconscious.)

And the hand pain? Gone. I’m pleased to say a few days rest was all it took.

Abstinence and Bargain Yarn

For two days now I haven’t knit a stitch. This voluntary knitting abstinence was hardest to stick to on Tuesday night, when there was no tv interesting enough to keep my attention. I certainly got to wondering what I used to do before I took up knitting, on bad tv nights. Reading? A bit, but I’m not supposed to read sitting up because it makes my back/neck problem worse. Eventually I decided I must have done a lot of channel flicking.

A parcel arrived for me:

Rowan All Seasons Cotton in ‘cookie’ for the Diagonal Stitch Cardigan in Textured Knits. Bought from the Cumberpatch for an amazing US$35.99 with FREE SHIPPING TO AUSTRALIA! Which is astonishing, since it probably cost as much as half of the yarn price. And the delivery was impressively fast, too.

My hands are feeling a lot better now so I should be able to take up the needles again tonight. I had similar problems around this time last year and I’m beginning to wonder if the change of season and/or increase in side-effects from spring allergies contributes somehow. Or maybe longer hours of sunlight mean I’m more active… or something. Whatever the reason, I have found that arnica hand cream is pretty good at soothing the ache, but the only cure is rest.