Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Last Tuesday there was an earthquake and four days later, Hurricane Irene arrived.  Earthquake, hurricane...I'm on the lookout for locusts.  Thankfully, Irene did little damage in the D.C. area, and the only effects I felt were a whole lot of rain and some wind and the ten-mile race in Annapolis was understandably cancelled.  I would never wish for a hurricane, but I can't say I was disappointed to hunker down inside all day Saturday as it rained and rained and rained some more.  No feeling of needing to run errands, or bike thirty miles, or even take the dogs for a long walk (it took some work to convince them to go outside at all).  I suppose there are a number of tasks I could have done around the house--clean out closets, organize the mountain of paper on the dining room table, or maybe just vacuum, but I didn't do any of those.  I sat at my spinning wheel.  All day.  Except when I took a break for a nap.  I had it rough, I know.

By the time Hurricane Irene worked her way up to New England, I had finished my first skein of sock weight handspun.

3 ply, 385 yards, light fingering

This is my thinnest spinning attempt to date.  Spinning the fiber went well, although I ran into some problems with underspun singles when I was plying. Fibers drifted apart, and on more than one occasion, I would realize the last ten yards I had just plied only had two plies instead of three.  Definitely not perfect but very usable I think, and I love it.  Thank you Irene!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I finished something. It's been so long, I almost can't believe it.

I started these socks April 1st.  I finished the first sock at the end of May.  I thought sock number two would go a little more quickly than two months.  Nope.  Just shy of three actually.  Most days I only knit a round or two while I waited for my computer to boot up at work.  Occasionally I got in four or five rounds waiting at a doctor's office or in between runs at agility class.  Clearly I was not enamored enough of the socks to keep knitting when I got home.  No wonder they took forever.

The pattern is Knotty or Knice by Chrissy Gardiner from the Fall 2008 issue of Interweave Knits, and although I like the way they came out, they were not fun to knit.  Those little cabled knots were seriously tedious.  The pattern was easy to memorize, but there were anywhere from three to twenty-four cabled stitches in a round.  Seriously, twenty-four.  I counted.  Twice.

At least they look good after all that work.  I'm still really happy the experience is over. 

This is my first finished pair of socks for 2011.  Sheesh, my knitting productivity this year has been pitiful.  I blame the spinning wheel.  I wonder what my excuse should be for the four months prior to owning a wheel? 

Probably due to the lack of finished objects, I haven't been keeping up with posting my sock yarn stashdown progress.  However, finishing a pair of socks has motivated me to see where I stand.

Score at the end of May: +3
New skeins acquired: 2 (club skeins)
Skeins de-stashed: 4 sold
Skeins used up: 5 (Knotty socks=1; Oranje sweater=4)

New Score: -4.  Back in the negative!

I have three more socks in progress.  I've challenged myself to finish all three pairs before casting on any new socks.  I think I can do it.  It just might mean no new socks until 2012.

And on a completely unrelated note, yes I experienced the earthquake yesterday.  I was at home, and I realized it was an earthquake right away since I was awake for the mini-quake that hit last summer.  It totally freaked me out, and I could happily live the rest of my life without experiencing another.  Now I'm eagerly watching the Hurricane Irene forecasts.  It's looking like it will stay a little east of the Maryland coast but currently it's predicted to reach this area Sunday morning--right around the time I'm supposed be running 10 miles in Annapolis.  Could make for an interesting race.

Monday, August 22, 2011


August is flying by, and while I'm behind on several tasks (like the three blog posts that never made it out of my head), Oranje has recovered from timeout. 

I said I wasn't going to rip those rows with the loose and gaping stitches, but they looked like crap and had to go.



No explanation for the difference.  I'm sure I should care so I could avoid the problem on future projects, but in all honesty, I don't.  It looks good now and that's all that matters.  I finished the main portion of the collar the same night but was bored to death once I started the stripey rows for the collar facing.  I was so close to the end but completely unmotivated.  So Oranje sat on my dresser.  And sat.  One day I picked it up, knit half a round, put it back down, and it sat some more. A few days ago I sucked it up, sat down with the sweater, knit the last ten stripes, and bound off. Tonight, Oranje finally went for a swim in the bathtub and is currently pinned to my guest room floor drying.

I would be really excited about the fact that it's almost finished except that I'm completely lost when it comes to finishing the last few steps.  I have to cut it the steeks.  Cutting my knitting doesn't really freak me out.  I'm sure I'll need to take a deep breath when I finally take the scissors to the sweater, but I'm actually looking forward to that part.  Where I'm totally and completely lost is sewing the steek reinforcement.  I honestly don't know where to begin.  I've looked at half a dozen steeking tutorials, and I'm still clueless.  I know I need to machine sew two lines on either side of the steek, but here are the problems:

I don't own a sewing machine.
I haven't used a sewing machine in about fifteen years, maybe longer.
I don't understand the concept of how the sweater, currently a tube, can be fed through the machine.
I don't know what color thread to use.
I don't even really understand where I need to sew.  Along the steek stitches or right outside?

I am so confused.  And sadly, even if I manage to figure out the steek situation, I want to put in a zipper instead of buttons, and I'm equally clueless on adding a zipper to knitting.  Oranje is clearly going to be a struggle until the end.

Monday, August 8, 2011


When I'm really into a knitting project, sometimes I actually kind of enjoy my insomnia, but more often than not, my early morning knitting often comes back to bite me.  Last Friday morning around 4am, I found myself unable to sleep and happily knitting away on my Oranje sweater.  I finished a section of colorwork that had been taking an extra long time (there were three colors in each row and I'm not so good with juggling a third color).  Excited to have finished that section, I immediately moved onto the short rows for the back of the neck before heading back to bed.  I was happy with my progress but wasn't thrilled with how it looked at this point.  It seemed like a lot of white on the neck and my colorwork in that last section looked terribly sloppy.

With a clearer head the next day, I took a closer look at the pattern.  I quickly realized that I missed the instruction to switch colors when starting the neck short rows.  Ops.  Okay, so there was going to be some ripping.  I continued to study the pattern and noticed that the triangles that I had just finished in a sort of checkerboard pattern according to the pattern chart did not match the triangles on the sample sweater.  The one pictured has striped triangles.  If I had liked how my triangles looked, I wouldn't have cared, but when I looked at them again, I was even more displeased.

They were a complete mess.  The colors were muddled and my tension was all uneven.  Friday night was thus spent ripping back and re-knitting the triangles and neck shaping. 

It was a rockin' Friday night.  Don't you all wish your lives were as exciting as mine? 

I was really happy with the results.  The striped triangles looked much better, and the blue neckband was a big improvement.  On Saturday, I moved onto the next section--a simple checkerboard in the blue and brown.  Easy peasy, I thought to myself, and I knocked out those few rows in no time.  Then I inspected my work.

Gulp. Some of my stitches were HUGE.  A couple of those blue ones are twice the size as the brown stitches.  And some of the brown ones on the bottom row are so big, it looks like I put in a row of eyelets.

Seriously, WTF?  I'm relatively experienced at colorwork, and my tension is usually pretty even, so I'm completely thrown. I'd have no problem ripping back those rows if I had a clue what was going on and knew I could fix it.  When I knit with two colors I hold one color in each hand, so I must be knitting a zillion times more loosely with one hand, or stretching out the stitch I'm knitting into, or something, but which?  And why all of a sudden?  And if I knit it again, will it look the same? 

Having no answers, Oranje is buried back in a bag in timeout.  I don't think I'm going to rip those rows back.  I'm sort of afraid I'll screw up the braid, the uneven stitches really aren't that noticeable, and well, I just don't want to.  But I'm annoyed enough that I'm not ready to continue knitting either.   Maybe in a few days when we've both had a little time away from each other, Oranje and I will get it straightened out.   Just not at 4 am.