Take THAT, Evil Golden Square of DOOM!

Yes, those are Xs and Os. Yes, it's very cute. Yes, this lovey-dovey square almost killed me.

As I had mentioned in a previous post, the most recent square of the Watt afghan, in this gorgeous golden hay color, originally started as a "Joyful Children" square. After attempting and ripping, swearing, knitting, ripping, yelling, ripping, ad nauseum, I hoisted the white flag and began on the "Hugs and Kisses" square. Things immediately improved...until row, oh, 36, when I became very sleepy and made some silly mistakes. I then tried ripping back a FEW rows, and subsequently remembered why Jake's laptop sweater and Liz's mitts stressed me out so much: you (at least I) cannot rip back multiple rows of braided cables and hope to know where you are when you start up again. The whole thing came out and went to the bottom of the knitting basket for a week.

This week I was smart. I was careful. I only tackled 16 rows per night and made sure to do so only when alert and free of distractions. I was on track to finish Thursday night (leaving Friday for blogged glory-seeking), when I noticed a rather ugly mistake...12 rows prior. I tried to breathe deep and convince myself it was nearly invisible. I passed it to Jake to see if he could find it, and the jerkface pointed it out right away! I promptly stuffed the square in my bag and sent myself to bed.

This afternoon, I was very calm and adult as I went about tinking back through 12 tedious rows of cables. My shoulders were just about to turn to stone by the time I finished, but the sweet relief of the finish line soothed the pain (okay, advil and a beer helped, too!). Before The Great Yarn Spirit could thwart me again, I whipped up the rest of the square and photographed it to document my awesomosity for all to acknowledge. Admittedly, it's not the most technically difficult thing ever; just personally elusive. This square was my Moby Dick. How's that for self-stroking hyperbole????

In the meantime, most of my energy goes toward this, due on Halloween.


The funky twins

Pattern: "Basic Sock Pattern" by Ann Budd, available in The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (River)
Needles: US3 dpns
Size: woman's large at 7 st/in

Reader, I have not only completed a sock that is functional and true, I have completed two! Ann Budd's customizable pattern is a great place to start for newbie sock knitters. I was looking to get a plain vanilla sock under my belt before tackling the crazy stitch gymnastics of popular Cookie A patterns and the like. I wanted confidence in my mastery of basic sock architecture for cuff-down patterns, and this did it. Next stop, toe-up construction.

Delta: These socks are fraternal twins. The cuffs match, which is all most people will see, but I had to start a new skein after the heel flap, and it clearly threw off the spiral pooling pattern. There's a big splotch of purple on the bottom of the foot like I stepped in paint or something. If I use this yarn again, I will start each sock with a fresh skein, resulting in two, tiny, left-over balls from each sock. Also, these are a teensy bit big for me, and I have size 9.5 feet, which I thought would qualify as large. Overall, they're not beautiful, but I'm durn proud of them.

On an unrelated note (well, except for the pride), I attended the one year anniversary "Food Creates Community" event last night, and it was as fabulous and intoxicating as ever. Read all about how well I ate here and bookmark the blog so you can hear about upcoming dates. I cannot recommend it enough.



Pattern: "Split-Neckline Cap Sleeve Tee" by Stefanie Japel, available in Fitted Knits
Yarn: Knit Picks Shine Worsted (Marmalade and Butter Pecan)
Needles: US7 circulars (worked entirely seamless and mostly in the round)
Size: 42" bust, shown with zero ease
Mods: I didn't bind off the turned picot hem, but rather sewed down the live stitches the way EZ recommends in Knitting Without Tears. I didn't knit as many rounds on the collar hem and could/should have done even fewer since the neckline hits so high. I joined the sweater after the shoulder hole a few rounds early to see if it would reduce the gaping problem some people had. Not really sure if it helped. I also added many inches to the bottom edge because I have a super long bod.

Plus: Definitely an easy, mindless knit for when you need one of those. The yarn is soooper soft and cuddly. The split-neckline adds a little more bang for your buck, considering this is basically a shapeless tube, otherwise. It detracts from, and balances, the simplicity of the shirt.

Delta: As I was warned, the yarn sheds little orange wispies while you're knitting, which gets irritating after a while. I decided to try EZ's advice on end-weaving: work a couple stitches with both strands together and then weave in diagonally (no knots). Well, it worked great on Jake's wool "Cobblestone," but on this shiny cotton stuff, each woven end sticks out quite prominently. The stitches worked together are very noticeable. The ends I wove in frayed with washing and stuck out the FRONT of the sweater. I had to pull them from the back until a good 1/2 inch was sticking out on the underside. The collar is too high and not shaped enough; a few short rows would have gone a long, long way, but I understand that she was trying to create a sweater that one could make as a beginner. I get it. Similarly, the waist has no shaping, which is why many people on Ravelry gripe that it knits up too big.

It knits up to EXACTLY the size the schematics (and basic algebra) imply...they just didn't imagine what a shapeless sweater would look like in positive or zero ease. You know...because your boobs are probably bigger than your waist!!! Do you want it to hug your boobs and drape over the waist, or drape over your boobs and flow a few inches from the waist? Ease issue. The model in the book is clearly wearing hers with many, many inches of negative ease, but this is not explicitly mentioned. I personally am very self-conscious about my belly flab and wanted mine to have a relaxed, comfy fit.

Overall, I'm happy, but it's nothing to write home about. Good experience. Good top-down seamless raglan experience.


All the Dragons Will Be So Frightened!

Pattern: "Cobblestone Pullover" by Jared Flood, available in Interweave Knits - Fall 2007
Yarn: Knit Picks City Tweed HW (Orca)
Needles: US8 circular (worked SEAMLESS and 100% in the round)
Size: 43" chest with 2" positive ease

Plus: This pattern was a cinch! Great first sweater. The yarn is soft and cozy and tweedy and manly and cheap, cheap, cheap. Jake likes that the sweater resembles a chain mail tunic and therefore disguises him as a terrifying knight!

Delta: I think the neckline is too wide and may eventually pick up some stitches and add a few more rows there. It looks a bit...femi. I also wish that I had knit the smaller size. Jake insists that he likes the size I made, but I know that he looks better in sweaters with less ease. My gauge was a bit tighter when I started, so I was aiming between the 41" and 43". Instead, it turned out exactly 43". Ah well.

He loves it (or says he does like a good, little hubby) and wore it to work today. Evidently, many people complimented him on it, even before he mentioned that it was handknit by his ball-and-chain. One conversation actually went like this:

"Jake, do you pick out your clothes or does your wife do it?"
"Well, you always seem extraordinarily well-dressed for a guy."
"Are you saying I look gay?"
Awkward pause from her.
"Actually, I often have to help Kat pick out her clothes."

Last night I dreamed that I sat next to Stephanie Japel at a knitting conference but couldn't work up the courage to ask her to sign my copy of Fitted Knits. I'm the biggest dork I know. Fo sho.


You Just Gotta Laugh

Pattern: "Bigger (and Biggest) Booga Bag" by Julie Anderson, available on Ravelry
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Bulky and Worsted (Aztec Turquoise, Gold Glow, Desert Rose)
Needles: US 10.5 circular (bottom worked flat and then the sides are knit up in the round)
Mods: decided to make mine "cool" by practicing my stranded knitting technique and adding some "Henna Inspired" patterns from Hip, Graphic Knits by Rochelle Bourgault and Lisa Evans.


Plus: I learned a lot. I learned that my washing machine does not actually use hot water, even when I put it on the "hot wash/cold rinse" setting. Need to call repair man. I learned that stranded knitting felts way, way tighter than straight stockinette. I learned that color work is stupid in felted things because you can barely see all the hard work, and if the colors run, the design looks muddy. I learned that if you fear a project is ugly before it's felted, abusing it in a washing machine does not magically beautify it. I learned that you cannot stretch an item once you over-felt it, no matter how many grocery bags you rip up and stuff in it. I learned that I do not heart the felting process, even though so many knitters do. I found it stressful, messy, and loud...everything that is anti-knitting.

Delta: My knitting group buddy, Shelley, is a total whore. Not only did she felt her bag without me after promising to walk me through it....and not only did she announce that she had done so on her blog...........it looks perfect. It's the Gisele Bundchen of Booga Bags. I hate her so hard. (ahem, love you, Shelley.)

No, I did not bother to poke holes for straps in this odd little thing. I do not plan to carry it around. I am, however, open to suggestions for how to reincarnate it as something useful or funny or otherwise not-depressing. Jake thinks it looks like a strapless prom dress from the 80s. Maybe I could stuff it and make a really weird, headless doll!


It's a thrill

The husband has taken up a new hobby. This activity involves regaling all of my friends, in melodramatic jerkface fashion, with exaggerated accounts of my yarn stash. They all laugh and shake their heads as he impersonates demon yarn monsters hunkering down in all livable corners of the apartment. Now, I ask you, is this so bad?:

No, friend, it is not. I admit, it's not very attractive, spilling all over that corner of our bedroom. In private, Jake and I have agreed that whenever either of us verbally recognizes the rapidly growing size or containment issues of my stash, the unanimous, undisputed solution is that I knit more. (One time, the poor man suggested that I purchase less yarn. It's possible his ears are still ringing.) However, I am a woman of quality and style; I work hard to knit gifts that change people's lives and give them a reason to wake up in the morning. Therefore, I deserve a yarn storage system with more panache. Presto Change-o!

Ta-da! Pretty, huh? I even stuck a little lavender sachet in each box to ward off the mothies. I was so pleased with myself after this, I went after my circular needles, all crowded into a rumpled ziploc back. Ewww...

Fibracadabra! PooF!

I was on a roll. I crouched down on the floor and hauled out all my yarn books and magazines from under the bed (I can't keep them on the bookshelf down the hall....they're too far away) and stacked them neatly in the basket-formerly-known-as-yarn-stash.

Now, before I leave you to swoon in private envy, I should tell you one more delicious thing. Friday afternoon, I left campus convinced that I had to drive by Woolie Ewe for a little post-traumatic-school yarn petting. This conviction made zero sense since I had just been there the day before to buy a needle, and I had already spent my yarn budget for the week (don't laugh...it's necessary). I argued with myself all the way there, "Why are you doing this? You'll just make yourself crazy." But when I arrived, I saw what my subconscious must have known: Jared Flood and Cookie A were just milling around MY yarn store, looking fabulous and being genius right there next to the wall of alpaca. They each taught classes here all weekend, and I guess Friday evening was just their chance to spend some quiet time in the store. I should have introduced myself, but I was too shy and concerned I would come off idiotic. Besides, just spying on them was thrilling enough. No need to let either know that they have yet another rabid, dorky fan. Just know, I was close enough that if I wanted to, I could yank one of Cookie's green strands of hair, or lean over and sniff Jared's handknit sweater. I know, my self-control is astounding.

I will probably post several more times this week. "Cobblestone" is off the needles and blocking; "Split-Neckline Tee" is a few hours from finished; my "Booga" just needs felting; first pair of socks nearly finished. So freakin' exciting.


The Long Slog

Sadly, I have no finished objects to share today. Only progress on many, many current projects. Above is my rather bizarre, as yet still unfelted Booga Bag. My knitting group plans to felt ours all together next weekend. Until then, I will ponder over whether the final product will be something I'll ever use. It's so pink and cheerful and girly right now....I can't imagine carrying it around without feeling foolish.

And here is one of my newest projects: A Recipe for Fish, a baby blanket for a pregnant cousin-in-law. The nursery is all made up in a Dr. Seuss theme, so I thought this pattern would be precious done in only blue and red fish....get it? I'm going to make most of the fish blue, and sprinkle a couple red fish throughout to give the impression of red fish in a blue sea...until you look closer and see that they're all fish. This Shibui worsted superwash is a gorgeous, yummy, velvety dream! I can't wait to order more. Eat Sleep Knit, YA'LL!

Jake's Cobblestone is progressing nicely, if a little slowly. It's funny how once you join in the sleeves you feel like you're ALMOST there, until you realize how large the yoke truly needs to be. And then if it's all in garter stitch? Fagedabawdit! Did I say that right?

The other sock looks just like the first only not as big yet, so no picture. The split-neck tee looks just like it did in my last picture except for slightly longer, so no picture. The Watt afghan has bested me all week, since I have been working on this stupid square, with no progress. I never get past about 12 rows before I have to rip back again. Right now, it looks like a rewound ball of pissed off yarn, so no picture. I'm officially moving on to a different square next week. I finished another bridesmaid shawl, but it looks exactly the same as the last one, so no picture.

In other news, I attended one of the best concerts of my life this Wednesday, Ben Folds with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at the Meyerson. Positively magical! If he's coming anywhere near you for the rest of his tour, I strongly urge you to go. You won't regret it. I've been so crazy busy at school lately, I keep imagining my head spinning right off my shoulders and whirling into the stratosphere. Friday evening, I came home after doing a quick errand and promptly fell asleep for 15 hours straight. Also, I'm really depressed lately. This, however, made me feel a wee bit better.