Monday, March 13, 2006

Toe-Up... and Feelin' It!

I am attempting my first ever Toe-up socks: a requested pair for my Mother. What joy to have someone request a knitted item! I took her a bag of yarn to choose from, and after she had completed her selection she remarked, "Why, this isn't an overwhelming yarn stash at all!" heh heh... to which I replied, "Oh no... this is the sock yarn stash!"
All kidding aside: I don't have an embarassing yarn stash at all, due to my woeful location nowhere near a yarn store. The local Ace Harware gleefully offers a huge wall of brightly colored Acrylic (shudder).
My mother's request is even more fun for me, since she used to procrastinate in college by knitting argyle socks on tiny needles. She has offered to dig out her pattern for me, along with a chart she made many years ago for intarsia surfers (hehe!). (Is knitting obsession a genetic trait?)
So the Toe-up pattern: I have made it past the first Toe, due to the wonderful directions by Wendy D. Johnson in
And now I am at the instep. While I can find many confusing directions for heels, I can't find a toe-up pattern that has increases for an instep gusset. Anyone?
I just reversed-engineered the gussets. Even took notes!...that I can barely that I am onto the second sock. I'm sure it made sense at the time!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Finished Object! FairIsle Philosopher's Wool Kilim Cardigan!

Finally sewed the clasps on the cardigan. I know, hardly a daunting task, but I was avoiding it. Or rather, I was avoiding the finality of completion.
Well, that was the last UFO. Everything is finished or frogged (or the ongoing scrapyarn coil... but that doesn't count, right?) and instead of feeling proud or completed, I feel... empty. Lost. Kind of stressed out with nothing on the needles.

But I did this to move on and realize that it is all one ongoing project. So with that in mind, I have made a list of potential new UFO's: Socks for mom, baby thing for College roommate, something Aran...

Monday, March 06, 2006

Finished Object! Yellow Socks!

Finished Object! Knitty.Com Kyoto sweater:

Pattern can be found here:

I am mixing my Asian-ness (which is appropriate!): It is a Japanese inspired pattern with Chinese characters.
And: First time I did a whole piece in cotton. It is slippery and shows every flaw.
And: First time embroidery (considered FairIsle, briefly, but figured the red would show through-and be a waste of yarn. Considered Intarsia, briefly, but so many bobbins for one or two stitches? Nah...)
Embroidery pattern is Chinese calligraphy of my last name done by my Aunt using a brush and inkstone. Then scanned, placed to size on a grid, and using AutoCad, graphed out and printed. I love that it was both ancient calligraphy and modern Computer-Aided-Design. (Many Mahalos to my very artistic Auntie Vyolet and my AutoCad teacher and fellow knitter Kim! You rock!)

Pattern Notes:
I made this in a Large size, with Takhi Cotton Classic in Black with one skein of Red for the accents. Sweater turned out a bit too big for me, so I shrunk it in the dryer a little bit (ooooh: risky!)
I hate seaming so I did both sleeves in the round, and then left them on the needles until I could seam them to the body (avoided purling-added bonus!). I also did the sash in the round, and didn't bind off, just knit up the back and left the shoulders on the needles, then knit up both fronts, leaving them on the needles. I also integrated the seed stitch collar into the fronts, knitting it into the row, and just leaving the collar sections on the needles when I seamed the shoulders. This left just picking up the back collar stitches (also still on a needle) and creating the rest of the collar. When it came to finishing, I just had to bind off front and back shoulders together, set in the un-bound-off sleeves, seam down from the armpit to the top of the sash, and sew in only the back of the collar. Apparently, I will do alot to avoid rectangles, binding off, and sewing seams!
(I did all that out of fear: I don't think my seam-sewing is very pretty, and feared having the sash seam and the collar seams all sewn together smack dab in the front of my chest, where, quite frankly, the deep V and the cleavage revealed therein insured eye-focus. If I were to do it again, I would continue in the round up the body more to avoid the side seams as well. And the sleeves are just faster in the round. I mean, why bother with rectangles?)

Thursday, March 02, 2006


Many Mahalos to Wendy at Websters (see link in the sidebar!) for getting me excited about Fair Isle while I am still a beginning knitter. She challenged me with it and threw me in, and the result was that my second and third sweaters ever were Fair Isle! The Second Sweater was a delectable confection of handspun (which Wendy also gave to me) half of which we dyed with Orange Kool-Aid. The result was a creamy orangesicle of a baby sweater. The Third sweater is the Philosopher's Wool Kilim Jacket in Nightsky colorway which, although I have been wearing it for some time now, technically still resides in the UFO pile due to lack of clasps. (Now would be a good time to finish that, what with the left pinkie work-injury and all).

Learning Fair Isle early has spared me the stress that other knitters seem to feel about the double-handed technique, the stress they have about cutting in steeks, and the mental block against using the other hand. Indeed, because of the right and left-handed weaving-in action of Fair Isle, I learned Continental very soon after learning English method. I now use Fair Isle weaving stitches to join new balls of yarn (Okay, I admit to knotting yarn together when my cat unexpectedly eats a hole in the strand! See Merino Kitty Floss below). And in case of dire, workman's comp claim, work-related repetitive stress injuries like that of my left hand (Wah!) I plan on knitting English for a bit.

But I must thank Wendy for introducing me to this technique for one reason above all:
The satisfaction and balance of it. The pure feeling of even-ness that comes from using two hands and both sides of the brain to create this fabric. As the sweater grew in length, supported by both hands on two even needles, I felt both sides of my brain straining and both sides of my body involved. Now I must admit that one handed/ one color knitting feels... lopsided.

If you want to see a video of two handed stranded Fair Isle technique:

There was a section of the baby sweater, before I knew about cutting steeks for armholes, where I was knitting back and forth on the upper chest: Right to Left with White on Right and Orange on Left and then back the other way: Left to Right with White on Left and Orange on Right. If you don't believe me about evenly straining both sides of the brain, try that for a minute: At some point your brain and body just get it, and you realize that it is all that same beautiful knit stitch, just on different hands on different needles going different ways with different colors... But it is all the same, it is all One.

(Um, that said and all: Does anyone know how to weave-in Fair Isle while on the Purl side? I mean, just in case, at some future time, I might want to avoid that even feeling of being united with the One and work the Purl side on the way back... Anyone?)

When Work Interferes:

I noticed a re-occurring pain in my left pinkie finger while knitting last night. Today at work I discovered the source: Seems I have sprained my pinkie from stretching it to reach the "Ctrl" key on my keyboard. Now, a knitting injury would be expected and endured, but repetitive strain from work? This is inexcusable! Doubly so because it interferes with my knitting! Never fear! I immediately switched the keyboard and am left-mousing. Perhaps I shall finish the sock using (gasp!) English method and give my left hand a rest...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Merino Kitty Floss

Had to take a small break from the UFO’s.
First: The cat decided to cutely play with the yarn. Now, usually I view the cat playing with yarn as being one of the joys of knitting. I love sitting by the fire with a sock on the needles while the cat tangles himself in soft yellow merino. But tonight his affection for fine wool turned to nibbling, and he broke right through and chewed up a fine long strand! I had to recover the moist bits from his gaping and toothy maw. Now, it’s okay to love your yarn. Just don’t eat it!

Second: I had to rip back 2 rows when I found a missed decrease in the instep. I immediately ripped back, of course. No question. If finishing the UFO’s is an exercise in moving on, through perfectionism, towards the one continual project… Well, I knew I would see that uneven decrease every time I took off my shoe and peered intently at the inside right instep, comparing it to the outside right instep (What?! It could happen… Why? Do you think I should have let it go?)

This pair of socks was either the second or third pair I ever knit. The body is pale yellow cotton while the cuffs, heels, and toes are dark yellow merino. I know: I am mixing fiber content. But they look cute and it was gift yarn for a beginning knitter. Unfortunately, when I knit them originally, I made huge, thick ankles. But did I rip it out? No: I decreased in the instep and had a very distorted sock. But did I rip it out? No: I cast on the same number of stitches in sock number 2 so they would match, this time decreasing before the foot, making them not match anyway. But did I rip them out? No: I wore them, and ended up with a sock slipped halfway down my foot. Then, and only then, I thought, “Maybe I should rip them out”. Into the UFO pile they went.

This was also my first attempt at washing and weighing recycled yarn, made especially fun since I skeined out the cuffs, heels, and toes individually, leaving 8 little skeins dripping dry in my bathroom for several days. (huh: the cat didn’t seem interested in eating the Merino then… or am I missing some?)

So yes, if this project is about all this hassle to re-knit this blasted pair of yellow socks to perfection, then I am going to notice an uneven decrease in the instep, and I am going to notice the thinned, damp spot that would have been knit from the yarn pulled from the cat’s mouth!