Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I Have Achieved Socks!

They are complete, they are cute, they have several little mistakes but they are socks.
And they are mirror images of each other. No worry about the number of rows being different or the length not being quite the same. They are lovely. I now am a member of the sock knitting community. If you had told me three months ago, or even three weeks ago, that I would be knitting socks and loving it I would have said you were slightly mad. Now I am scouring the yarn sites for sock yarn and already have the next pair on the needle. Notice, I said needle, not needles. Yes, I keep mentioning Melissa Morgan-Oakes and her wonderful 2-at-a-time Socks book but I never would have become a sock knitter without it. Many years ago I tried knitting with double points. Trying to coordinate 4 needles and patterns and yarn was disaster for me. I kept dropping needles and stitches and finally gave up. I looked into socks on two circular needles but knew I would never complete the second sock. Now I just have one needle and I wind up with a completed pair. Unless you have tried it, and I strongly encourage you to do so, you can never know the feeling.
The mistakes: I didn’t want to have ladders at the joins so I pulled the first stitch tight but then continued to pull the stitches tightly. At one point, I thought I was going to wind up with baby support hose.
: I don’t pick up stitches well and the instructions require picking up one more stitch than is present at the gusset to avoid holes. I managed half of them but each sock had a small hole on one side. However, it was easy to fix.
: I purchased the needles by price since I didn’t know if I was going to take to this and I wanted to have several different sizes to try. The result was that I was not happy with the join between the cord and the needle. It was not smooth and getting that last stitch, which had been the first stitch which I pulled so tightly, over the hump of the needle join was a pain. Next time I won’t pull as tightly and soon I will purchase better needles. All in all, the experience was great. I only had to frog once, the Kitchener stitch was no problem, Melissa walks you through the process and the pictures are terrific to see if you are where you are supposed to be. At one point I skipped a step and had to make up for it in a following round but I don’t think it made a difference. I now am part of that group which can talk about heel-turning and gussets and toe boxes. I love my little socks!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

She’s Got Legs

How old do you have to be to remember ZZ Top singing that song and the commercial for the pantyhose that came in those little egg shaped things? Do they still sell them? I remember they were really good for elementary school crafts. Anyway, there I was, I had flattened my knitting with several heavy books in hopes it would start to look like the picture. I stared balefully at the heap for several days. I didn’t knit the socks, I didn’t knit anything. The socks seemed to be heading for my WIPs when I received an email from Melissa Morgan-Oakes herself! She was very encouraging (see comment on Sock it Two Me) and I was so excited that she had written to me that I took the work out from under the book-pile (where it had flattened), picked up her book and started to work. You can see the results. When you get into the rhythm of it, it’s very easy. The socks aren’t magnetic and they don’t glom onto each other. It’s really hard, at this stage, to knit them together because when you get to each sock, there’s its yarn just hanging there ready to be used. I am very proud of the sock legs and looking at them has given me the adrenalin rush I need to start the heel flap. Again, stay tuned.

One Sock Wonder

Purl Too's socks were too much for me !I found my sock pattern (Search the blog for More Bliss.) and my magical sock yarn (Search the blog for Christmas Present.) This pattern uses DPs so I started my sock. The yarn came out in a fair isle like pattern that was amazing. Things were going beautifully, but I began to wonder about the repeat. I had planned to stop at the heel and knit the other sock to the same place in order to avoid one sock syndrome. Of course the second skein was started in a totally different place in the dying pattern , making that slick move impossible. Undaunted I continued on with my first sock. I finally got to the end of the repeat (Marked on photo.) and then to the end of the skein. (Also marked on photo.) I used the second skein to finish the sock.

So here I am with my one sock. I need more yarn, since one skein will not finish the pair even if I take the "No my socks don't match. Isn't it wonderful." approach. So my daughter will come to the rescue with more yarn. My plan is to try to match this sock. So "One Sock Syndrome" it is , at least for now.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Lost and Found

Since the snow has melted again, were taking a walk around the garden. " My hat" I exclaimed! There it was under the porch. How the heck...? Then I remembered. It was a week or so ago when I was coming home, and I dropped my car keys just outside the kitchen door. It was a million to one shot , and they slipped through the crack and down under the porch. I thought of the old close- pin- in- the- bottle game , we played as kids. I was never good at it then, why now? I slithered under the porch, and found the keys right next to the foundation. I was muddy, and wet and grumpy when I crawled back out! Apparently I was also hatless. That alpaca hat is so light , who could tell?

My happiness went quickly to dismay when the hat was retrieved. It was wet of course, but there were mysterious dark spots in places, and holes. Now if I were a little creature , and I found a pink hat made of baby alpaca in the dead of winter, I would move right in too. However this left me with a choice. I could wash the hat, try to mend it and wear it again , or I could make a new one with the yarn that I conveniently have in my stash. What would you do? For me it's no contest. My knitting project list is like a Netflix queue. A new hat just got moved to the top.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sock it TWO me

I have always thought that as a knitter I should be able to knit socks. Just the vocabulary is enough to put one off; heel flap, heel turning, toe up, top down, gussets. Also, I know my span of concentration is that of a strawberry and even if I knit one sock I would never knit the other. Low and behold, Melissa Morgan-Oakes has written a book for people like me called 2-at-a-time Socks. She shows you how to knit two socks at one time on a 40 inch circular needle; an answer to my knitting prayers. I ordered the book, ordered the needles, ordered the yarn and yesterday I was good to go. Unfortunately, I had a migraine but I thought I’d try anyway. After knitting three rows on one side of one of the socks I started to babble and my husband unhooked my hands from the needles and put me to bed.
Today I started again. I think I may be getting it but, as you can see from the photos, the inset on the left is what Melissa thinks it should look like and the one on the right is what mine looks like.
I have to admit, Melissa suggested doing each sock in a different color to eliminate confusion but that would leave me with the single sock problem all over again. Besides, I assume I’ll make many mistakes on the first one which I will correct on the second time around so I’ll have two pairs of socks, one of each which is riddled with disasters and the other member of each pair will be sort of normal. So I figured I’d use a marker to delineate the socks one from the other.
Secondly, I’m having a problem with the counter-clockwise turn at the center of each row. I carefully watched the clock and turned things the other way but what Melissa said was in my left hand was in my right and vice versa.
I’m not giving up. When I finish this post I’m going to untangle the mess I have and pound it into some semblance of her photo and then I will continue. I hope I don’t have to frog it again because the yarn is looking frazzled already but I have confidence. The woman understands my problem; the least I can do is try to understand her solution. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Who dun it Bag

Perhaps you are wondering, "Why the Lineup" Has some horrible bag crime been committed? I will explain. I got a call the other day from a friend who lives some distance from me. She was quite pleased and said " I bought one of your bags at the consignment shop. I could tell because it still had your tag." It's obvious that when you make all these bags you have to do something with them. Purl Too and I do have some items out for sale in a couple of local shops, but not in this one.

As it happens Christmas came and went, and one bag had disappeared . Right away the Nancy Drew, Sherlock Hemlock, Matlock, whoever in me, kicked in. "Really" I said. "Can you describe the bag in question?" My steel trap mind was thinking that the missing bag culprit was just within my grasp. My friend was surprised by my tone. I must have been using that, I'm looking for a felt bag felon, quality in my voice. "Why do you ask?" she said. I explained about the purloined purse (sounds like a book title doesn't it) .

"It's furry blue with shades of green and purple" she told me. Now our bags are all different and very easy to pick out of a lineup. I instantly knew that I had been wrong. That was a legally regifted bag. I had given it to someone as a Christmas present. Apparently it wasn't her style. My friend was relieved that she had not received stolen property. Regifting is legal, I'm guessing in all 50 states , and it should be. I do it myself. CASE CLOSED !!!

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Sweaters Have Landed

They reached England and my grandsons are modeling the sweaters. Grandson number one is wearing the stegosaurus (the sweater formally known as “dragon”) and grandson number two is in the Superman hoodie. Now that I can see them being worn it makes a big difference. A picture of a sweater is good but it’s always cooler to see a real person in them. They’re really adorable, and the sweaters are cute too (sorry, just a little Gran humor). Perhaps I will rethink my vow never to do intarsia again. It’s one of those things that just takes practice and since my goal is to become a “fine” knitter, intarsia must be mastered! I just saw a chart for a row of penguins that would look fantastic around the border of a sweater . . . ummm

Monday, February 4, 2008

Blast from the Past

Just down the road from Knit One and still farther down the road from Purl Too, is the small town of Gilbertsville N.Y. The whole town is on the register of historic places. The post office is delightful, the library is a gorgeous stone structure, the Major's Inn is an old stone hotel where events like weddings and quilting shows are held, the Value Way Country Store is, well, a country store, but the real place to go is the Gilbert Block Quilt Shop located in a century old building in the center of town.

Stepping inside Nona's store is like stepping back in time. The fixtures are original and they provide a wonderful bone structure for the delights that you find in every corner. Quilting fabric, and notions, of course, and finished quilts and wall hangings, baby quilts, all kinds of hand crafted gifts, felted bags, catnip mice, baby sweaters, books, and beads dazzle the eye. It is a delightful place to shop.

Nona is a quilting expert. She can help you choose fabric for a new quilting project, hand quilt a family heirloom, or hem your new jeans. She also canes antique chairs. I've heard she has 40 years experience, but she must have started as a very small child! You really should meet her. Her shop is open Tues. - Fri. (10 to 6), Sat. (9-6) and Sun. (1-4). She has a toll free phone 866-783-2872. If you are anywhere nearby, you should make the trip. You won't be sorry!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A funny thing happened on the way to the blog . . .

When we began the blog, we were really into beading. At the time I couldn’t envision knitting anything that didn’t have a bead in it. All was going well when Knit discovered an article in Angel Hair Yarn. It was about felting. We were thinking about felting and we tried those booties but here was something we could do without worrying about size and fit.
The article was called the “No Rules” bag. The idea was that she would knit her version of it and I would knit my version of it and we could start something which showed how different knitters using the same pattern could have very different outcomes.
We bought yarn in wild colors. Knit took it first and used the Angel Hair Yarn directions to make a rectangle bottom bag. She turned down the hem and sewed on the handles. She thought the bag was really ugly at this point, but on she went. After felting, it came out of the washer wider at the top. The double thickness of the hem did not shrink as much as the rest of the bag. The top edge was all wavy. “Disaster!” she thought. Then she smoothed out the hem and let the bag dry. As is sometimes the case with felting, you get something different than what you expect. “I love my bag!” she exclaimed and packed up the yarn for me. Knit kept her bag a secret until I finished mine so we could compare.
Of course, I took so long to make mine that by the time I was finished Knit had completed a neat half dozen bags of all shapes and with all kinds of carry-along yarn.
I began my bag smaller. Casting on 130 stitches was off-putting to me right from the start. I also didn’t do the rectangular bottom. I tried to use the Fibonacci method for my striping but I lost count somewhere along the way and what you see is what I got.
The experiment worked, though. We each got very different bags and it’s been the same ever since. Whatever pattern we use, Knit and Purl come up with very different results. Mine is on the left and Knit’s is on the right. It was a fun experiment and when we taught the method to our group not a single bag they produced was alike. They’re sort of like snow-flakes.
The moral of the story is: creative people are creative. A pattern is just a starting place.