Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The future of the blog...and socks

It occurs to me that I ought to get more involved in this blog. I read plenty of other knitting blogs, and they're full of neat stories, amusing witticisms, and useful information. What do I do? Post pictures of knitting. Woo-hoo.

Now the core purpose of a knitting blog is, of course, knitting. Pictures of knitting, discussions of knitting, that cool things found on Ravelry, etc. But I've also discovered that, through knitting blogs, I've begun to get to "know" people in the online knitting community, great people whose existence I might never have known about otherwise. I see their knitting, but their blogs also offer little windows into their lives. What's up with their families, what cool things they've been doing and attending, what sort of knitting/spinning/dyeing techniques they prefer or have been trying...I learn it all through their blogs, and I'm happy to have those glimpses.

What do I post? Pictures of knitting.

I think it's time that changed. It has been changing at bit over the past few posts, what with my waxing lyrical about Elizabeth Zimmermann and talking about what books I've been reading to teach myself things. But I'm not sure that I've posted anything here that allows a potential reader to really "know" me. (Do I even have any readers? I wonder this at times!)

So, I vow to post more interesting non-knitting things along with the knitting things. I shall strive to babble occasionally about things that are happening in my life.

But, for's a picture of knitting:

The Monkey socks are done! I steam blocked them today and the lace opened up a bit and stopped trying to fold the socks into a 4-cornered flower shape. Great pattern. I'd definitely knit these again!

Mood: introspective & caffeinated
Music: The Frames - Finally

Friday, June 13, 2008

Just about everything from the past few weeks

I've finally read my first Elizabeth Zimmermann book. I know, I know what all you seasoned knitters are thinking. "You've been knitting since 2004, and you're just now trying Zimmermann?"

I'll admit it, I'm Miss Modern, who started with the Yarn Harlot and am working my way back as far as humorous, opinionated knitting books go, but I do have a slight defense. Only slight. About a year ago, I got another EZ book out of the library, and was simply too overwhelmed by my schedule to have time to read it. (Okay, for all I remember, I could have been wasting time making Desmond icons, but the point is, I did get my hands on an EZ book before now.)

The book is Knitting Without Tears, and I find the iconic EZ to be rather astounding. It seems to me that the casual way she approached knitting, and the problems that may arise while working on a knitted piece, would scare the heck out of a lot of modern knitters, and possibly modern knitting book authors. There are so many books out there on new techniques, old techniques, traditional techniques, and what to do when they all fail you; but Zimmermann simply took it all in stride. Not enough yarn? Do a little stash diving and add a border. Completely genius, something you'd think we would occur to all of us, and yet...well, I know I don't approach knitting that way. Clearly, in EZ terms, I am far too much of a perfectionist.

The Phoebe Pullover is based on the seamless saddle shoulder sweater that EZ presents in this particular book. After having worked on the pattern for a while, seeing the casual way the construction is presented is extremely liberating. I'm finding myself dreaming up the beginnings of designs for yarns that have been sitting in the stash, just waiting to be used.

Speaking of, after venturing into my closet to grab a few things, I came to the conclusion that the stash and I need to have a little talk. A serious talk. A "this gigantic bag of yarn needs to become a much smaller bag of yarn before any more yarn is purchased" kind of talk. The irony of this is that I just bought more yarn in the form of a KnitPicks lace sampler. (I have a feeling that all knitters experience this irony at some point, or perhaps constantly.) But now I think it's time to reign it in, both for the sake of my budget and the sake of my closet.

Yes, it's time for...the dreaded yarn diet. We'll see how well that works.

Now let's see. As far as catch-up goes, I think I'll start with the spinning. A couple of weeks ago, I finally pulled out the BFL roving:

(Rufus Lupus colorway, from SakinaNeedles)

I wanted to try doing some low-twist singles, something I've been a bit too chicken to try in the past. So, I did a little Google-fu and scared up a decent tutorial. Despite clear instruction, though, I found that the technique involved was a bit like trying to pat your head and rub your stomach at the same time. The differences in speed between treadling and feeding the fiber in are going to take some time to master.

Nevertheless, I'm not unhappy with the results.

I had a hat in mind for these, but I'm not sure there's enough. I'll get to swatching eventually to see if it's even appropriate yarn for the project.

As for knitting...a while back, I told myself that I had to clean up my small collection of UFOs. For someone who started out knitting only one thing at a time, diligently finishing each project before casting on another, having four unfinished projects on the needles was starting to feel a bit overwhelming. I promised myself that startitis wouldn't take over until all my needles were empty.

That went well, at first. I finished the socks with the Trekking XXL I got in PA. I finished the socks with the Kool-Aid dyed handspun. Then, I happily attacked the Phoebe Pullover once again.

And encountered the cruelest irony ever.

That sad sight is a sweater one ball short of being finished. That is a sweater for which I, the knitter who always has an extra ball of yarn left over, somehow managed to under-buy. That is a sweater that is laughing to itself as it sits stowed under the futon, awaiting one last ball of navy Andean Silk. It has blown a big raspberry at both my yarn diet and my spirited attempt to whiz through my UFOs. Oddly...I don't resent it. I'm more annoyed at the USPS for taking so long with one itty-bitty package. (Of course, I didn't just order one ball of yarn. I tossed the Yarn Harlot's latest book in the cart, too, to make it worth my while.)

There is, of course, only one thing to do while waiting, and that is succumb to startitis.

First in a pair of Monkey socks. I've had my eye on this pattern for a while, and it didn't take me long to see why so many people knit it. It has enough variation to be interesting, but is quick and easy enough to suspend with any lace-related frustration. The repeat is short enough to be jotted in a small notebook and carried anywhere. I whipped through an entire repeat during a car ride back from the bookstore yesterday.

The yarn is Plymoth Happy Feet that I picked up at Stephanie's a few weeks ago. The picture I snapped of the swatch gives a better representation of the colors:

I really like the subtle variation. It adds visual interest without detracting from the lace pattern.

That's it for now! I'm all caught up. Remember that tomorrow is WWKIP (World-Wide Knit In Public) Day! I'm heading over to Stephanie's to sit, knit, and enjoy the gorgeous lack of humidity. Perhaps there will be pictures, if I can remember my camera.