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Archive for February, 2016

I hoard yarn. Often I buy a skein or five with no idea of what they will become. But I always love the colors and the fiber make up. Most often a I hoard fingering weight yarn, and thanks to Yarn Rascal for unearthing skeins from the farthest recesses of the yarn vault, I realize I have quite a hoard of DK weight too. Skeins purchased like this can gently nestle in the vault for years before the right project comes along. This is exactly what happened to my Dream in Color Smooshy fingering weight yarn in the Butter Peeps colorway. I knew that some day a pattern would come along and wham-bang I would have this yarn waiting for it.

The project just recently appeared on Kiwi Yarns. She made a sock and was looking for a test knitter. When I saw her beautiful pattern I knew that her pattern and my yarn had to meet in blessed knitting. So she was gracious enough to send me the pattern.

mary mary

The pattern and sock are in knitting heaven. The colorway’s pink smudges always fall in the right areas to enhance the texture of the pattern and highlight its structure.

While a heavenly choir of knitting angels sang, I went to find my double-pointed needles to begin the task. I have a small milk bottle filled with double-pointed needles that are long, short, and in all sizes. I found and tried the needle size given in the directions only to find I could not get gauge. The heavenly choir sputtered and then fell silent. I was getting two stitches over gauge on US 1 needles. I needed 9 stitches per inch and I was getting 11. Dropping down one size would only reduce my gauge count by one and I needed it reduced by two. I emptied the contents of the milk bottle on the table and spent some time searching for US 00. Nada. I wasn’t too surprised. Then I searched for US O just to see if by some miracle I could get gauge. I found three workable US 0 double-pointed needles and two that had the same teeth marks in them as Yarn Rascal’s chew bones. I did a gauge check on the three that hadn’t been chewed and as I predicted I only got one stitch closer to gauge.

Waiting for the size US 0 needles to arrive I studied the pattern. If I decreased the cast on by 4 stitches I could produce a sock that would fit me. But, could I find a way to decrease 4 stitches and not have their loss be noticeable and ruin the beautiful pattern. By the time the needles arrived I technically had the same pattern with just 4 stitches missing.

I am now knitting the cuff of the toe-up sock. After I am done with that, I will be working on the after-thought heel. I have never done an after-thought heel. This one seems to have a little more to it than just a straight after-thought heel. Since the instep and the leg came out beautifully I am eager to get the heel completed. I am going into uncharted knitting territory and the designer had issues herself with this heel. Still, the design of the heel will look really good on the sock if it can be worked out.

So tomorrow I hope to hear that heavenly choir of knitting angels warming up when I pick up the needles to begin the heel or it’s going to be a very long day, possibly with tears.

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I can’t believe it is Friday already. I’m still working on things that needed doing on Monday.

Knitting progresses in a masochistic way. From have no socks on the needles I’ve gone to having two. One is toe-up the other is cuff down. The toe-up is a test knit so it is the one I am mostly concentrating on. So far it’s proven to be a little devil. One of the purl stitches is coming out wonky and for the love of me I can’t figure out what I am doing differently on that specific purl. Instead of ripping back (be still my forthcoming migraine) I am going to drop the stitch back to where it was behaving and with crochet hook in hand bring it back up. Then I’ll do an eastern purl to keep it in line for the rest of the sock.

Because the sock is a test knit, I can’t show it to you right now, but it is a wonderful pattern. When I first saw the pattern on Kiwi Yarns blog I knew exactly what yarn it would pair with in my stash. I am delighted to report that yarn and pattern are working together nicely.

On the masochistic side, I had to go down to  US 0 double-pointed needles to come as close to  gauge as I could get. Still, I was off one stitch. That meant I had to modify the pattern without modifying it. I studied the pattern until I figured out where I could lose 4 stitches without them being noticed.

Naturally, I didn’t have US 0 dpns in my bag full of dpns so I had to race out to buy them. It is a rule in masochistic knitting that no matter how many knitting needles I have I will not have the kind or size needed for the specific project at hand. As I stepped out the door I was greeted by a wind chill of -25 degrees (-31 Celsius). My eyeballs almost froze. But again, this is part of the beauty of masochistic knitting: the weather shall be perfectly horrible on the day I need to get any knitting supply.

The Arctic blast is suppose to stay with us all weekend. That’s okay. I plan to be wrapped in my hand knit shawls, with my hand knit fingerless mitts on, knitting teeny-tiny stitches on my teeny-tiny US 0 needles.

 

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Can one really be a knitter and never have knit a sock? The rational answer is absolutely. But if practicing the Art of Masochistic Knitting the answer is of course not. Socks pose special little dilemmas that other projects don’t. For instance, the toe.

I have made two drawers full of socks over the years: one for The Skipper and one for me. Except for 2 pairs, all were worked toe-up. My basic go-to toe is the short-row. I’ve never had a problem with it until lately. The short-rows and wraps on the last three pairs of socks were creating holes. I changed the type of short-row from wrap to yarn over and it seemed to work…more or less. The holes were not there but the inside of the sock lacked the reinforcement to make it wear longer before toes started peeking through. Also, the yarn over short rows worked well for my small size, but on Skipper size socks it was less effective.

Last night after I completed the Back of Feelin’ Groovy, I decided to use the notorious sock yarn I had left over from my Train to Maine hat and cast on a pair of socks for The Skipper. The yarn is Dream In Color Smooshy in the Peacock Shadow colorway. The colorway gave me a bit of a problem when knitting the hat. While it didn’t stain my hands, it stained the needles. After completing the hat, I decided to see how much the yarn bled. I put it in a bath and lo and behold no bleeding. I squeezed and prodded the yarn in the water and still no bleeding. I laid it on a white towel, working the majority of the water out of the yarn by gently stomping on it and no bleeding. Not even a hint of blue transferred to the towel. I let it dry, hanging from a nail in the ceiling of the cellar, well away from Yarn Rascal who was way too attentive to the washing and stomping process.

It wasn’t long after I cast on my usual provisional short-row cast on that I realized I needed a different starter. I possess enough written material on socks both from the toe-up and cuff down that it could be considered encyclopedic. If it’s been written about I either have the book or the article tucked away in a folder. Within the tomes of this written wisdom are a myriad of ways in which to cast on for a toe-up sock. Here is the beauty of when knitting crosses over from being a relaxing, enjoyable pastime to the Art of Masochistic Knitting. In all that material I could not find the specific cast on I was picturing in my head. I had stumbled across it on the internet months ago and I didn’t bookmark or print it out.

In my quest to be a more flexible individual, I talked myself into abandoning the cast on I wanted and instead give a try to those that were at hand. Surely one would work.

Fast forward a few hours–two to be precise. The blue of the yarn was starting to stain the needles and this time my hands. At one point, I inadvertently made a Cat’s Cradle from four double-double pointed needles and the yarn. Hardly the look one wants when trying to knit the toe of a sock. Blessedly, when I glanced at the clock I realized that it was bedtime and I could put the whole mess away. Which I did, making sure everything was secured in Rubber Maid bin with locking top to prevent Yarn Rascal from gaining the yarn during the night. The Cat’s Cradle thing really, really interested him. He desperately wanted the yarn and needles.

I went upstairs to bed, determined not to think about the cast on for the sock. But before I changed into my PJs I had the computer turned on and was scouring every knitting internet site I know looking for the one I had in mind. In the meanwhile, Yarn Rascal could be heard downstairs trying to break into the bin with the needles and yarn.

The moment I finally found the cast on the computer started making popping sounds from one of it USB ports while Yarn Rascal simultaneously squealed with delight. He had breached the bin. I dashed downstairs saving him and the yarn from certain disaster by bringing him to the bedroom and closing the door. He was informed that he was in lockdown for the rest of the night. When I went back to the computer it was still popping only worse. I prayed that it would just work for a few more moments while I sent the cast on info wirelessly to the printer. That’s when the printer sent back its wireless message that it was out of ink. Printing failed. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and realized I was at the pinnacle of the Art of Masochistic Knitting.

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The Back of the Feelin’ Groovy baby sweater is almost done. It became the Back when I reached the armholes and still had not settled the debate in my head as to the type of neckline.
A large part of me still wants to go with the mandarin collar, even though the question has been raised as to whether a collar that stands up on the neck would be itchy. Of all the reasons against using this type collar that one never crossed my mind because if I am knitting a baby item I am using the softest yarn available.

I have a very sensitive neck when it comes to fabric touching it. So sensitive in fact that I have spent my life carefully cutting off the tags they put on clothes because they bother me. Yet I have never had an issue draping a knitted shawl or scarf around my neck because I use the softest yarn out there. When I am designing baby clothes I use yarns that are soft and gentle. Some are specifically made for baby clothes such as Sublime’s Baby Cashmere Merino Silk, or the Debbie Bliss line of baby yarns. If I am not using specific baby yarn I look for one that is made up of alpaca, merino, cashmere, silk, any combination that is soft enough not to irritate little necks. The yarn I’m using for Feelin’ Groovy is made of alpaca. I love the drape, the way it knits, the way it looks when it gets worn, and I love its softness. I could wear it around my neck all day.

One of the serious drawbacks in designing this sweater with a mandarin collar is it limits the size range. Babies from newborn to 6 months have no necks. So sizes 3 months, 6 months and even 9 months are out. While a 9 month old does show neck development, it is not enough to comfortably wear a mandarin collar. Thus I limited the sizes to 12 months, 18 months, and 2 years. I am toying with the idea of adding a 4 year old size, but I am not sure yet.

Altering the neckline to a collar that lays flat would give me the 3 month to 2 year range I like to design for. I have made a number of sketches with alternative necklines and while a flat rounded neck would look nice, it throws off the placket I had planned. Frankly, without the placket and its buttons the design just isn’t the same. It loses the child-like, innocent, playful feelings I want to convey. I like my designs to convey some emotions and I specifically put colors, shapes, and fabric together to achieve those things.

I still have time to worry over the collar. I’ll be starting the Front tomorrow. By the time I hit the start of the armhole I hope to have put the issue to rest.

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