Thursday, June 28, 2007

What the...?

Ok. So I knit one lovely sock in the beautiful light green merino yarn. And I knit the leg of the second sock. And the heel flap. And I turned the heel. And then I was ready to pick up stitches. And after I did that, I noticed that the yarn was coming from the bottom needle instead of the top one. Odd that. But perhaps it doesn't matter. Just a question of taste, right? Carry on, eh? So I knit two rounds of the decreases for the gusset, and things are looking, um, odd. Somehow, I am knitting backwards or something, because the stockinette stitches are once again showing up on the *inside* of the sock. And the outside looks like garter stitch!

So now I have to take all the stitches back off, get back to where I was somehow, and pick up the side stitches again. I think I must have somehow started off in the wrong direction at some point along the way. Most disturbing. Taking stitches off a circular needle is not easy. Getting them all back on again in the right direction without losing any is not easy. It will probably take me 2 hours or more to undo the damage. Sigh.

Every time I think I finally know what I'm doing, something weird happens and I am completely confused again.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Time flies

Whoa, I got a little sidetracked here. I have neglected to post because now I have no excuse for not having pictures, but I still don't have pictures.

I do have knitting, though.

I finished the first pair of Fetching fingerless mitts before Kristen got home. They are lovely! The 50% angora yarn makes the cable design somewhat muted. They almost look felted. But they are warm and soft and adorable. I made a pair with only one skein of the yarn, so now I'm not sure what to do with the remaining skein. I will make Kristen a pair in green a little later on as well. And I'll probably end up with a skein of purple and a skein of green left over. Could I make something nice with the two colors combined? Maybe a hat? Hmmmm.

Then I cast on for the pale green socks for Kristen. She loves the color, and my first pair of socks fit her quite well, so I am again following my adapted version of the Yarn Harlot's basic sock recipe. I am using just one needle, and I got all the decreases for the gusset to work out on the first try. I am now on the toe decreases. Then comes the somewhat dreaded kitchener stitching, which I will probably get to today. Will the third time be the charm? I hope so!

I've also done some felting. Bought some old sweaters at the Goodwill store and washed the heck out of them. I made Kristen a little felted zipper case for storing her knitting supplies. I plan to make a stuffed sheep as well, based on a pattern I invented as a toy for Kristen a long time ago.

My class for summer got changed, and now it looks like I'll have to do a lot more work than originally planned. My beginning ESL writing class had only 5 students registered, so they cancelled it, and after a bit of a roundabout process, I am signed up to teach regular English 1A for the second session, which means it will start next week instead of this week. I am curious about how a group of American students react to the same material that I have been using for ESL students. I got the schedule all planned yesterday, and submitted the whole summer's worth of photocopying (I hope). So it will be a lot of work grading 6 sets of essays in 6 weeks and pulling them through 2 novels and a research paper in that amount of time, but we will see how it goes. And if it's a disaster, at least it will be over quickly! :-/ I hope it doesn't cut into my knitting time too severely!

The main computer was dead but has been resurrected by a secret method discovered by wonder-daughter. I hope it continues to work! At the moment I'm afraid to shut it down at all, since it has to open in DOS. But once up and running, it appears to run fine. Fingers crossed.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Knit Against Global Warming

Ok, that seems a little over the top. But I think there is merit in the basic idea. Brenda Dane, on her very cool podcast Cast-on ends by reminding her listeners, "If you're cold, put on a sweater--that's what they're for." Makes sense, doesn't it? And if more people wore sweaters to ward off a chill in their homes, as President Carter recommended many years ago, we could save heating oil, gas, electricity or whatever else we are using to keep warm. Wool socks, fingerless mitts, sweaters worn around the house would provide cozy warmth without the need to burn fossil fuels.

In addition, if we insist on knitting with wool, we wil not be using fibers created out of a petroleum base. So there too, we might be doing our small part to cut down on oil consumption.

And wool is, or at least can be, a very sustainable domestically-produced product. Groups like the Green Mountain Spinnery and many small suppliers of fleece and hand-spun and hand-dyed products provide jobs that are often home-based and thus further save on the consumption of fuel.

We also are doing our small part to respond to the Walmartization of America, which is based on the premise that cheaper is always better and that it doesn't matter where the products you buy come from or how they are produced as long as the prices are "always low." The aesthetic choice of wanting something unique and designed for our own taste rather than the lowest common denominator of what the country as a whole will buy may not help prevent global warming, but the willingness to work with our own hands to produce something of real worth is important.

So knit on!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

How fetching!

It takes me a certain amount of time to build up a head of steam in order to be ready to start in on a new project. I bought the Lush wool/angora last Saturday and I mulled over it all week. On Friday I stopped by Let's Knit and bought a 29" size 6 bamboo needle, and before dinner I re-typed the pattern to make it easier for me to follow. I fell asleep thinking about starting Fetching.

This morning I was ready. I got up and wound the first purple skein into a ball, using the back of the chair to hold the skein. Then I cast on. The join for circular items is always tricky, and for the first round or two I can't be quite sure that I did it right. But I got it on the first try. 45 stitches cast on and joined and 4 rows of K4 P1 ribbing.

Then came my very first attempt at cable knitting. I've watched Kristen do it, I've watched Christine teach Nancy how to do it. I saw Nancy's results. I felt ready. And it worked! I tried several different cable needles--a thin J-shaped needle, a slightly less thin one with an indentation in the middle, both in aluminum. I even gave a bit of thought to the needle-less cable technique on the net (but it's hard to pick up stitches several stitches over so I gave up).

After the third cable round I decided that I prefer using an ordinary bamboo dpn. Even without the hook or indentation, the bamboo is "sticky" enough to hold the stitches more securely than the aluminum ones, and it's faster and easier to knit off of it as well. I made the third cable row on row 19 instead of 18 by mistake, but who will ever know? As long as I make the same "mistake" on the other hand, it is just a design choice, not a mistake. The 2-stitch cables are so clever and cute.

So I have 21 rows, a wrist's worth, of knitting done, and it is so soft and charming! I am really looking forward to wearing these silly little fingerless gloves. (Why do they seem to be gloves and not mittens? I guess because the rounded end is the essence of mitten-ness to me, and the presence of 5 fingertips seems to indicate gloves.)

Of course, I should have been grading research papers instead of knitting today. I *did* manage to grade a few. Maybe I'll do a few moe tonight. But my enthusiasm for reading these, after reading the rough drafts just last week, is very low. I have to get them done by Monday afternoon, however--because I have a batch of beginning essays coming on Monday and another batch of advanced essays on Tuesday! Yikes!

Nevertheless I am satisfied with my day's work. A new skill and a new smallish project to make me happy. (The Pine Tree scarf is on hold. I've used up the first two skeins, it's about 48" long, and I can't decide whether to make it longer or stop there. So I just set it aside. Perhaps later I'll make a hat to match and then re-visit the scarf.)

Fetching is calling my name!