Friday, July 30, 2010

Just Because I Can

Last weekend was hugely productive for me. In addition to putting the final touches on Tempest, I also finished up my current shawl-in-progress.

Pattern:  Wandering the Moor (Ravelry pattern) by Celeste Glassel
Yarn: Brooks Farm Duet
Needles: size 7 US
Cast on: May 5
Bind off:  July 25
Mods:  absolutely none, and I love it!
It's a quick knit, but I put it aside for about 2 months.  This is definitely a cold weather shawl, and I think it's going to look gorgeous wrapped around a fitted black turtleneck in winter.  I didn't have any intentions of trying out that combo in the middle of record-breaking hot summer weather, and so I present, shawl with shorts and t-shirt:

I've only recently started knitting shawls, and this is the largest I've made so far. I know I will really enjoy it one day.  For now it's folded and in the closet waiting for appropriate weather, and I'm onto new things.  In the last few days, I've cast on 3 new sweaters.  Yup, you read that right--3 sweaters.  Yes, there are socks I wanted to finish by the end of the month that are far from finished, but whatever.  I've been patient and finished my larger projects, and now I will cast on to my heart's content just because I can.

Sweater #1:  Patience is a Virtue
Pattern:  Goodale (Ravelry Pattern) by Cecily Glowik MacDonald
Yarn:  Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga! in Southern Green Stink Bug
Cast on: July 25

I've been waiting to start this sweater for what feels like forever but in reality, really only a month.  I splurged and bought new yarn (which is much more green in person), and I've been chomping at the bit to get going.  It's taken every ounce of patience I could muster to hold off.  The evening that I bound off the shawl, I cast on Goodale.  There's not much to show yet since I quickly realized I might not be in the mood for a stockinette sweater, but since it's short-sleeved and will be a lightweight cardi perfect for late summer/early fall, this one is the priority.

Sweater #2:  Um, Why?
Pattern:  Silk Cocoon Cardigan by Connie Chang Chinchio in Interweave Knits, Spring 2009
Yarn:  Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk DK
Cast on: July 27

I've had this yarn for almost 3 years.  It's one of those "what was I thinking?" purchases.  The color is way too bright for my taste, and I've learned a lot about yarn since this purchase, namely, that alpaca sheds like crazy and this particular yarn is not comfortable close to the skin.  Nevertheless, for no explicable reason, I dug out a skein this week and cast on a pattern that I'm not really in love with but seemed like a good fit for the yarn.  Not loving the pattern combined with not being sure I'll even wear a hot pink sweater (and could possibly run out of yarn anyway) equals a sweater that could be a WIP forever.  I started with a sleeve, and once I got used to the p5tog, I've actually been enjoying the hell out of myself working on this.  I don't get it.

Sweater #3:  Impulsive
Pattern:  Leyfi by Rosemary Hill in Interweave Knits, Fall 2010
Yarn:  Tahki Bunny
Cast on: July 28

The final sweater is just me being impulsive and fickle.  I saw the pattern in the preview for the new Interweave issue and thought it would be a good fit for some bulky yarn I have that needed a project.  When my magazine arrived, I cast on.  No swatch or anything -- I just went for it.  I knit 6 rows of the neck and put it back in the drawer so there's not even enough worth photographing.  I have no idea when I'll get back to it, although writing about it, I'm thinking I may go pick it up now instead of going back to a sock.  And I don't feel guilty about that at all (well, not much).

And finally to show some inspiration for the title of this blog, here's a little sample of my yarn-tangling tendencies.  This mishap occurred as I wound the yarn for Goodale.  I have no idea how I manage to tangle yarn on a swift.  It's a talent.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


If you’re a sock knitter, you probably have a few extra special skeins of sock yarn (most likely something with "handpainted" on the label).  I have several skeins that I treasure either because they were a splurge or hard to get or just so beautiful that I almost rather admire than knit them. While I really don’t hesitate to wind and knit up my prized skeins, I do wait until I find that perfect pattern.  Well over a year ago, I ordered a skein of Sundara sock yarn, and when it came, I knew it had been a good decision—it was the most beautiful perfect blue. 

Sundara sock in Cobalt over Mediterranean (pictures are a terrible substitute for the real thing)

Not having a project in mind for the yarn, it was sadly stored away in a drawer.  I struggled for awhile trying to decide what to do with it.  There was only enough for a very small shawl, which I probably wouldn’t wear much.  I pondered fancy intricate sock patterns but really didn’t like the idea of hiding the brilliant color under jeans.  Enter Tempest.  Once I realized I only needed the one skein for the contrast color, I knew I had found the right project, and Tempest is now finished:

Pattern:  Tempest by Ann Weaver
Yarns:  Sundara Sock and Louet Fingering
Needles:  size 5 US
Cast on:  May 1, 2010
Finished: July 24, 2010 
I SO wish the brilliance of the blue came through in pictures.  It looks like pretty basic blue in this shot, but the color is anything but ordinary in person.

For a long time, I dismissed sweater patterns that called for fingering weight yarn, but this is the second one I’ve made and I’m hooked.  The weight of the fabric is just so darn comfortable.  Tempest actually knits up fairly quickly and the stripes keep it interesting (although I was somewhat bored to tears with the sleeves).  There is a fair amount of seaming and sewing, and while I actually like seaming, the finished product never seems to fit quite as well as sweaters that I knit in one piece.  My row gauge was also off, so I altered the pattern a bit and removed a couple of large stripes to try to get the length right.  Turns out I underestimated a bit on the armhole depth, but after blocking they are perfectly comfortable.  I also really should have added some additional bust shaping, but in the end it’s a pretty good thing I didn’t make this sweater any bigger—I have 5 grams of Sundara yarn left.  5 grams. That’s it.  Maybe 20 yards.  I was even a hint concerned I would run out before finishing the second sleeve.  

Going right down to the wire with the amount of yarn notwithstanding, I love that I was able to use this gorgeous yarn for a sweater that should get a lot of wear, and pairing it with black just makes the blue shine even more.  Now if only I could settle on patterns for the other 5 (10?) skeins of super special sock yarn that are hiding in the closet.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Now. Right Now.

Once again, I can’t sleep and so I started knitting the fourth and final clue to the mystery sock.  I’m starting to think I wake up to knit the sock (the clue was released at midnight and I woke up at 2am) instead of knitting the sock as something to do when I can’t sleep.  Unlike the previous 2 sleepless nights of knitting the mystery sock, my mind is not on the sock (must be that the mystery is over) but on the other 14 projects I would like to cast on RIGHT NOW.  Thankfully none of these projects I’m dreaming about are socks so there is still hope for my sock WIP goals, but I’m itching to cast on at least 2 or 3 different sweaters and a new shawl.   

Yes, knitters, I have a bad case of startitis—although at this point I’m only showing symptoms, and since I haven’t actually cast on anything new, apparently my immunity has strengthened over the last year.  Don’t get me wrong, I love that I’ve gotten better about finishing projects, but I feel it’s having an unintended consequence—my stash is starting to get insane!  Even though I’m not starting new projects, I’m still planning and buying yarn for them.  Beautiful skeins keep arriving and are neatly tucked away patiently waiting their turn.  I have been able to resist the temptation of diving into all the pretty yarn so that I can finish a sweater and shawl for a knit-along that ends July 31.  A crazy amount of new projects will be cast on the second I finish the shawl (the sweater is pretty much done) or miss the deadline.  So when the clock hits August 1, 12:01am I’ll be whipping out new yarn.  I’m sure I’ll be awake anyway.

But I really want to cast on NOW. RIGHT NOW.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Overdue Introductions

I really can’t believe I’ve gone this long without a post that revolves around my two beloved dogs, Rugby and Juno.  They are a huge part of our family and even some vacations are planned around doing activities with the pups.  This weekend, we headed up to Shenandoah National Park to go camping.  While  Rugby (8 yrs old) has camped with us several times, this would be the first camping/hiking trip for our little Juno (2 yrs).  The pups piled into the car Friday evening and off we went. 

Juno found the traffic a little tiresome.

We arrived just in time to set up our tent in the dark.  Rugby and Juno were not of much help.  The next morning, the pups explored the campsite.  Rugby was quite at ease.

But poor Juno still wasn’t sure where to put herself.  

We set off for our first hike, with Juno acting a little unsure of herself at first.  After a few climbs over some rocks and splashing around in the river, she decided this whole hiking thing was pretty cool.  Rugby and Juno trotted happily ahead of us for the rest of the hike, heading down to play in whatever water they could find, and usually cooling us off in the process when they would come out and shake it off.

After lunch, a nap, and another long walk, we all settled in at the campsite.  Rugby and Juno passed out after the long day, and me?  I knit. 

I love camping if for no other reason than in the evening when there is nothing to do but relax around a campfire, I can happily knit without feeling one shred of guilt that I should be doing something else.  On my lap is my current shawl project:  Wandering by the Moor (Ravelry pattern).  The yarn is Brooks Farm Duet which I got at the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival last year.  When I started this project I really underestimated how little I would want to work on a wool/mohair shawl in 90 degree heat, but it was perfect for the cool evening in the mountains.  It was a good weekend.

Friday, July 16, 2010


I just found out that around 5am this morning, a small (3.6) earthquake rocked Maryland!  Now normally at this crazy-early time I would be dead asleep and nothing short of the house falling down can usually wake me up, but this morning I was actually conscious and felt the house walls shaking and stuff around me rattled a bit.  Now, come on, earthquakes don't hit Maryland, and my best guess was that maybe a large plane had flown a little low overhead. I shrugged it off and didn't give it any more thought until I heard the earthquake report just now.  So, wow, I experienced my first earthquake a few hours ago!

Oh, and what was I doing awake at 5am?  Knitting, of course.  My insomnia became a lot less frustrating after I learned to knit.  At least now I get something done rather than stare at bad infomercials.  Mystery sock clue 3 came out yesterday (a day earlier than I thought), and I finished it up on the first sock right around the time the earthquake hit.

And yes, I feel pretty good about myself that I guessed this clue would have an autumn feel to it.  I love the little trees.  This sock is not my usual style and not something I would have ever picked out to knit, but I sure am enjoying it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sock WIP Roundup

I’ve mentioned that I have a “few” socks in progress in the last couple of posts.  I thought it might be best to get them all out in the open, so recently I gathered up my unfinished socks.  I completely ripped 2, which brought the socks-in-progress number down to 5.  That wouldn’t seem so bad if they weren’t all unfinished first socks.  I blame pretty sweater and shawl patterns – that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

1. Progressive Sock Party (Ravelry Pattern)

Cast on:  July 2010.  I can’t go any further on the first sock until the 3rdclue is released on Friday.  I’m getting a “spring” (green section) and “summer” (blue section) vibe so I’m wondering if part 3 could be “fall”?  I did cast on and am working on the toe of the second. Goal:  Finish by the end of the month

2. Roger
 Cast on: July 2010.  I’ve used this heavenly yarn (Bugga! in Autumn Tiger Beetle) for a sweater and 2 shawls, but these are the first socks.  This sock is soft and squishy like no other I’ve ever made.  Mike is a lucky guy.  Goal:  Finish by the end of the month.


Here’s where we start to go downhill.  The next 3 are currently “hibernating”.  If I can resist new sock projects (we won’t discuss the unlikelihood of that), they will start to get proper attention once the previous 2 are finished.

3. Cauchy (pattern available in Sock Innovation)

Cast on: April 2010.  Last fall, Mike asked for brown socks.  I immediately started shopping for yarn, and settled on Dream in Color Smooshy in Tea Party and cast on.  I didn't like the first pattern I tried, so attempt 1 was quickly ripped.  This is brown sock, attempt 2. Goal:  Finish the first one in August, second by early December.

4. Tangled Woods (Ravelry pattern)

Cast on: March 2010.  I bought the pattern as part of a fundraiser (the designer was donating a portion of the pattern price to Haitian relief efforts).  I was really excited about the pattern and the yarn (3 Irish Girls McClellan in Erin).  That enthusiasm died unexpectedly, although it’s possible cables and lace combined with size 0 needles might have had something to do with it. Goal: end of the year?

5. Sock with No Name (aka The Neverending Story)

Cast on: April 2009.  Talk about being excited about a sock pattern.  I love the look of this pattern.  I love the beautiful purple yarn (Miss Babs Yummy Sock), which I think is a perfect match for the pattern – not too solid, not too variegated.  However, I really hate knitting this sock.  For whatever reason, the lace pattern and I do not get along.  In fact as I wrote this, I went and got the sock, surveyed where I was, and decided the sock is going to have a stockinette foot.  Finishing the first one is at least less daunting now. Goal:  Finish in my lifetime.  Okay, by April 2011.  

Somehow I feel better now that I've assessed the socks and set goals.  I'm going to go shove the last 3 back in the drawer now.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Budding triathlon careers and why I should always have stranded knitting nearby

Over the last year, my husband Mike and I have gotten more and more involved in triathlon training and racing, and as the season is in full swing now, one or both of us has been racing 3 of the last 4 weekends. In June, I went back to the race that was my first ever triathlon—Tri-to-Win South Carroll Sprint. Coming with me to that race last year is what pushed Mike to want to start doing triathlons, so this year, both of us raced and had a great time.

It was particularly awesome since I put last year's time to shame!
Yesterday we headed up to Havre de Grace, MD for Mike to compete in the Diamond in the Rough Tri. Traveling anywhere can be stressful for me, and I started feeling anxious at the hotel. To cope, I pulled out and settled down with my current stranded sock project. It was a huge help—more so than any other knitting I could have picked up, and I started to realize that I almost always go into sort of a Zen place when I’m doing colorwork. I think the combination of having to coordinate yarn in both hands and follow the chart redirects my mind, and after just a few rows, my tense muscles start to relax. When I couldn’t sleep later on last night, I pulled back out the stranded sock and (relatively) cheerfully starting knitting again.
This sock is one that I really had no intention of starting. It’s the Sock Knitters Anonymous July mystery colorwork sock (Progressive Sock Party--Ravelry pattern). I have enough sock WIPs and didn’t think I was in the mood for colorwork. Nevertheless, I started scrolling through posts of knitters brainstorming colors for their socks, and I got sucked in. I didn’t want to buy yarn for the project, but I remembered my bag of Knit Picks Palette, and I pulled out some colors and joined in with the first clue last week. I couldn’t put it down. I switched it to DPN “holders” to use my circs to cast on a different sock (uh, what drawer full of WIPs?), but I just kept going with the DPNs—and I am so NOT a DPN sock knitter.
Clue 2 came out on Friday, which is why the sock came with for the overnight trip, and now I’m not sure I’ll ever go anywhere without a stranded project nearby.

As we headed to the race this morning, I had finished the foot and started the heel. It was pouring rain, and for a bit, I was quite content to sit in the car to stay dry with the sock. It continued to rain, the swim portion was replaced with a run for safety reasons, and I spent the next 3 hours getting soaking wet, shivering, and taking really terrible pictures of Mike and some of the other athletes.

And yet, when I look back at the last day, I barely remember the tension and shivering, but I do feel happy that I turned the heel on the sock. And oh yeah, of course, I’m really proud that my husband had a strong race. Now, where is that chart...?
The moral of the story? A technique that scares the bejesus of out some knitters and can be frustrating to learn could end up being your go-to relaxing knitting instead of the stockinette sweater.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Skewed Sock Mojo

For a while I was a pretty prolific sock knitter—finishing about a pair a month, sometimes more. At some point during 2009, I lost my sock mojo. I had tons of great sock plans, but none of them seemed to work out. I would cast on, knit 4 or 5 inches, and toss the sock aside. I finished several sweaters during this time so I wasn’t being a completely fickle knitter—socks just weren’t holding my interest. I finished 2 pairs in February 2010 and thought my mojo was back, and maybe it was, but sweaters and shawls quickly won out and socks were abandoned again.

Summer, and my desire to not have a pile of wool on my lap, seems to have helped me recover some of that lost sock mojo—suddenly, I can’t put socks down, and I’m trying to work on about 4 pairs at once now! To celebrate the return of my sock mojo, I decided the first FO posted to the blog should be a pair of recently finished socks:

PATTERN: Skew by Lana Holden
YARN: Rainy Days & Wooly Dogs OhMyGoth in Bruised Ego
NEEDLES: 2.25 mm
CO: June 1; BO: June 30
Ravelry Project Page

The pattern is nothing short of brilliant. Seriously. Even if you’re not a toe-up sock knitter, give it a try. There is a good bit of “just trust the pattern” and it’s a little bit of a leap of faith, but once in awhile who doesn’t need to shake up their comfort zone a bit? I even tried a new bind off—Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off. I’m not sure if I’m a convert yet, but it certainly is nice and stretchy.

So now about the yarn: OH, THE YARN! I will spare you the trials and tribulations it took for me to manage to get my hands on a skein (high demand + relatively short supply = frenetic shop updates), but I’m hopelessly hooked now on Rainy Days & Wooly Dogs stripy sock yarn, and especially OhMyGoth, a merino, cashmere, nylon blend with a very tight twist and perfectly soft and smooth. Swoon.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

And so it begins...

A while ago, an online friend asked me why I didn’t have a blog. I thought the question was rather amusing at the time, but looking back at that brief conversation now, I realize I’ve been thinking about it ever since. For me, however, it's easy to brainstorm blog posts in my head, but the idea of posting them publicly is somewhat terrifying. I'm shy--sometimes painfully so--and can be extremely self-conscious. What if I said something stupid? What if I embarrassed myself? Determination to try to face these fears actually became the push behind starting a blog. Well that and I recently got a new computer, which contained a folder for blog posts already created. So if the universe (or, you know, the programmer at Dell) is going to make it THAT easy for me, then I'll take the bait.

This blog is primarily a knitting blog. I started knitting in 2006 when a co-worker put needles in my hands and taught me to knit a scarf. To say I took to knitting would be the understatement of the century. I’m not sure I’ve put needles down since, and if I have, I was forced, did so grudgingly, and have since blocked out the experience. Like most obsessive knitters, I adore yarn--lust after it, daydream about it. I have an uncanny talent, however, for tangling my yarn, and I've spent many hours untangling skeins--hence the blog title.

A few other tidbits about me: I share my days with my smoldering, handsome, and mysterious husband and two wonderfully sweet and goofy Welsh Springer Spaniels. I teach dog agility training at a local club, compete with my pups occasionally, bake homemade dog biscuits on order, and over the last year, have started down the road of triathlon training and racing. All of these adventures will undoubtedly appear in the blog, but knitting will always be at the center—-although I consider myself relatively well-rounded, yarn is never far away during all other pursuits.