Monday, August 27, 2007

Gratuituous Sock Yarn

Last month's Knit Picks order was mostly books. I could not resist their 40% off sale or the newest sock book from Ann Budd obtained from Amazon. In the book order I also threw in 100 grams of their Risata yarn which I wished came in more colors and 100 grams of their Essential Bare tweed. The tweed was amazingly soft and pretty much perfect. I placed another order and got 5 of the 6 colors they stocked. I also got 3 of the 4 colorways of the Essential multicolored. I don't know whether they are striped or not, but was intrigued since they were on a special page noting they were from the first dye run and were not quite right because they were not bright or deep enough. I like the muted mix.

I had to rearrange my sock yarn stash to make room for the 10 pairs worth of new yarn. There's got to be at least enough for 150 pairs in there. I have 'reduced' this stash by relabeling my acrylic sock yarn [Bernat Sox] as 'baby yarn' good for hats, booties and tiny sweaters. I got most of this on a Herrschner's sale for about $1 each and figured it would be good for gifts for those who don't want or appreciate wool in their socks. I need to get cracking on my sock production. I have only completed 3 pairs all summer.

One of the Tweeds, the Flint gray color DEMANDED my immediate attention. I've already completed the 1st sock from the Walking Away socks pattern from Fiber Trends. This is the Reflections design. I pretty much made it like the pattern which has a plain 1x1 rib on the front of the leg and this chevron design on the back. If I make it up again in another pair, I'm thinking of running the pattern along the front too, but wonder if it would stay up with almost no ribbing?

With my classes started, I've been amassing my supplies. I got my 7 skeins for the solid part of the EZ sweater for the knitting workshop. Even though I don't plan to start the crocheted afghan until the January semester, I couldn't resist ordering the 24 skeins I need for that. I had thought of using some of the 26 skeins of Wool Ease I have set aside for the Great American Aran Afghan, but since I needed 3 coordinating colors, I opted for the Dark Horse acrylic/nylon yarn that is unbelievably soft and yummy. Knowing me, I'll probably sneak in a square or two before January. The yarn for my workshop projects doesn't count as stash enhancement. It's SCHOOL SUPPLIES.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Easily tempted

It seems as if any one project cannot hold my attention. I get unbearably excited about the prospect of a new yarn or a pattern and I have to satisfy the urge. I've got some goals about what I'd like to accomplish by year's end and sometimes feel the need to cast on for something I know I won't get to in months. Take for example this Vanilla Spice cardigan from Knitty. I'm definitely going to make it, especially since I special ordered the TLC Cotton Plus to make sure I got enough of the same dye lot. I cast on for in on July 11th, worked about an inch and a half and set it aside for more thrilling work. Now that it's on the needles, I have to do the same thing for about 15 inches. Ho hum. I'm leaving out the pockets and will be rounding the neckline. I think I'll make the sleeves 3/4 length - eventually.

With 4 rather large projects in the works in addition to socks, I overheard a comment at the LYS that the Short and Sweet Cardigan I had previously made would also look good in Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool. Hmm... I have 6 skeins I'd ordered online that were not the color I really wanted [my mistake]. I was going to use it for a shawl, but...... I furiously worked on this. Got it to the point that all I have left is a bit of a sleeve and the edging and POOF! Interest waned.

I did get further excited by this design by Angela "LaVonne" Best thinking it might make a good Christmas present for my Mom. I contacted the designer and she gave the stitch counts to upsize it to a 2X. I know I could have figured it out, but her counts confirmed what I was thinking. Next was deciding on which yarn would be best. Something easy care but not heavy. This pattern is meant for worsted weight wool but it just doesn't appeal to me that heavy. I tried it in TLC, Berroco Soft Twist and finally Panda Cotton, a sock yarn. Winner. It's so light and soft with the advantage of being machine washable. I ordered more of the yarn, and wouldn't you know it, this color's on backorder.
Bitten by the crochet bug and looking forward to a new class, I reclaimed some old Peaches and Cream kitchen cotton I had gotten for a TNNA workshop by an unnamed 'celebrity' who wanted the lace swatches for homework done up in this stuff, and played around with a water bottle cozy and coasters. I liked these so much, I made a set of 4 each as I gleefully ripped out the useless - and unused swatches.
For some reason, having 8 or 9 projects in the works has become normal for me. I used to be such a one project person.....

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Back to school

Happy days! I'm the one headed back. This is the first time in 20 years I do not have a child starting school. This means no back to school expenses. For the last 8 years in addition to ginormous tuition payments, there were books and other fees that were a minimum of $600 a semester. Now that money is ALL MINE!! So if I break out in a giggle every now and then, please understand my joy.
This my 4th year attending the Friday afternoon Knitting Workshop offered at Foothills out in El Cajon. Ever since the January cruise with Deb Stoller, I've also been playing around with crochet, so I signed up for the Wednesday morning Crochet workshop too. It's a combined class with Crochet 1 and the more advanced Workshop group, some who have been attending for more than 20 years. Athena, who teaches both the knitting and crochet classes, said I was definitely at the workshop level in crochet in spite of never having taken any formal classes, but I'm hanging out near the beginners to listen in on their instruction. Several years ago I was forced to take a beginning sewing class as part of my fashion design program and I learned so many tricks that now I seize the opportunity to take beginner classes whenever allowed.

The sessions are 3 hours each, with most of the time interacting with other students and working on your own. It's a very social atmosphere. I feel such a part of my Knitting group and definitely the outsider in the Crochet class. With long standing cliques and a perceived rigidity in attitude, it's a definitely OLD class even though the ages of the students are about the same as the knitting group. Since Athena had been the assistant in previous years and is now in charge, some were balking at every difference rather than embracing a fresh approach.

The other thing I noticed was that afghans, doilies and starched ornaments were the order of the day, as was scratchy, bulky Red Heart and Supersaver yarns with some kitchen cottons thrown in. I absolutely love saving money, so bargain yarns appeal to me, but there has to be a certain level of quality to be worth my time. Gasp! I've become a YARN SNOB. I was working on a garment and when my table mate asked if it was in Wool Ease or Baby Soft, my reply of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool met with disbelief. Like why in the world would I bother with something that had to be HAND WASHED and BLOCKED? Another proudly showed me a rectangular granny square she was making as a gift for a new born granddaughter from a variegated heavy duty acrylic and all I could think of was that the heavy scratchy thing was going to smother the baby in the crib.

But I think it will be good. I need to follow my own advice and be open to new experiences. In January, the Crochet 1 section will become the 2 level and the project is a sampler afghan I really want to make. Not for the blanket itself but for the 48 different squares. The workshop class project this semester is a spider style afghan with a lace border. I worked up a sample and when the border is taught, I'll work along with them. Other than that, it's personal crochet or knit projects for me as I try to fit in with students. I know there's a lot to learn from everyone.

The Knitting Workshop will be doing Elizabeth Zimmermann's workshop book and video. We will select one of the sweater styles in the book, use the percentage system to determine stitch counts. The yoke will feature Fair Isle techniques. I am really psyched. To start, we will be doing a hat on circulars with a couple of bands of color. I've got some pinks to work with, so it will end up in the Susan G Komen charity stuff.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Tiny knitting

I've gotten distracted by going small. The LYS is also contributing items to local NICUs, so I started playing around with miniaturizing some patterns. It's addictive and appeals to my thrifty nature since I'm using leftover sock yarns.

I had already totally rewritten the Ugg Bootie pattern worked in the round and smaller sized than the original version worked flat. I was making yet another pair for my DD since all her pregnant friends want a pair. Word has gotten out to her church group. For the preemies, I knitted the pattern up 2 more times, each time playing with stitch counts and other modifications until I was happy with the results. The originals are done up in Berroco Suede and the smaller ones in Lane Cervinia sport weight acrylic yarn. Unless I switch to similar colored sock yarn, this is the smallest I can go.

We are trying to make up at least hat and sock/bootie sets and these are some other experiment results. There's a size disconnect between the pink hat and really tiny pink booties, so I'm making another pinwheel hat with 10 less stitches for that set. Then I have to figure out how to upsize the booties a little bit.

Lakia at the shop who has personal experience with preemies has classified the sizes as Lime, Lemon and Orange since the head sizes of the early babies are similar to the fruits named. The need is for the smaller sizes, but no matter how the experiments turn out, all sizes are welcomed.

I've also finished up a couple of items for the Susan G Komen fall fundraiser. My personal workshops start up again at the end of the month, so I'm trying to do as much as I can before I get bogged down with 'homework.' In knitting class, we are going to do an EZ sweater based on her percentage system using her workshop book. The yoke will have colorwork.

The shawl used the Moda Dea yarn we got in our Stitch and Pitch gift bag and the last adult pinwheel cap is in TOFUtsies yarn.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Reasons not to wear pretty clothes to Las Vegas

First is obvious. In July it's so hot you'll wilt and look awful soon enough. The 106 degree heat - as seen on the sign above Binions- was countered by the subzero air conditioning in the casinos. I wore my crocheted Short and Sweet jacket over a tank. I love wearing that thing. A woman in the elevator complimented it, then asked if I made it. When I said yes, she said I could sell more on eBay. Luckily, it was my floor, so all I did was smile. How to explain it used $40 worth of yarn and took a week to make? Then there's sizing issues, color options and other issues ad infinitum. I consider it slave wages if I sold it for a minimum of $200.

I may have felt pretty wearing it, but it was my worst day of luck at the video poker slots EVER. I know luck has nothing to do with what you're wearing, but I'm never going to tempt fate again. I put on one of my Hawaiian shirts the next day. The machines were generous. I played all day and won enough to offset more than half of my losses. I keep telling myself that the money I bring with me to gamble are merely 'entertainment coupons.' My goal is to have those coupons last for my 3 day stay. It lasted and I brought home most of it, so I ordered some items from KnitPicks - gotta love those books at 40% off - and the new Ann Budd sock book from Amazon.

But back to the crocheted jacket. I unpacked it when we returned and it smelled like casino - cigarette smoke covered by air freshener. So I washed it for the 1st time. When I made it, I just steam blocked it. I let is soak in cool water with a bit of shampoo. It's Yarn Pirate superwash yarn and says to machine wash, dry flat. When I checked it, it bled terribly. All the blue was washing out. I rinsed it 3 times and the water still had blue in it. I was surprised since I'd worn it over a white tank with no color transfer. I wonder if it will now. It's drying out back and looks a lot more green than it did before.

It's been muggy here in San Diego, so it's small items on the needles. Here are more hats for the Susan G Koman fundraiser.