Category Archives: knitting

Still More Sock Progress

Wednesdays are my one day off every week, so they always put me in a good mood. To top it off, the sun has finally come out after a couple days of rain, and this weekend is MEA weekend, so I have nothing to do until next Monday. Plans include massive amounts of laundry and apartment cleaning, lesson planning, sleeping, and getting things done to finalize my move to Minneapolis.

In the past few days, I’ve gotten a lot done on the Gentleman’s socks. I am past the foot (with lifelines thrown both at the transition to the gusset, and one pattern rep before that in case I need to re-size), and the gusset has a mere six rounds left before I move on to the heel turn.

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The stitch pattern is lovely and springy, drawing the fabric in just above the toes when unstretched, and giving lots of ease when it needs to.

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The vast majority has been knit while on the bus, or waiting at bus stops, although I have accomplished a fair amount while watching Netflix.

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Moving on from Socks to… Socks.

Dad’s second pair of Raggi socks are finished!

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I’m very happy with how I managed to work out the pattern with the larger yarn and to make the stitch count work out. The toe-up heel flap is exactly the same as the one I worked on his Hickory Socks, and it took some interesting math and charting to make the stitches flow correctly through the ankle and leg. I finished off the top with Elizabeth Zimmermann’s sewn bind off from Knitty.

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Now I’ve started on a new pair, this time for the gentleman. Fittingly, I chose the stitch pattern from The Gentleman’s Fancy Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks. I’m working it from memory and people’s project photos on Ravelry since all my knitting books are still in the storage unit, and I’m knitting it from the toe up (are we surprised?). Luckily, I got my Hennepin County Library card this week, and I’ll be able to go to the library tomorrow to browse their selection of knitting books.

The first toe is done, and I’ve started the stitch pattern. Excepting the cast on and first couple of rounds, it’s only been worked on my way to and from work. Public transit may smell funny, be slightly unreliable when you get down to the southern suburbs, and require dealing with other people, but there are benefits.

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In other news, while I’ve been convincing myself for weeks now that the downtown apartment is what I want, an apartment opened up in the building that I originally wanted to move in to in Uptown. I had called this summer, heard that there would be no openings, and put my name on the waiting list for next year. Last week, I got an email saying that they had an opening next month. Since the downtown place is still under construction, I made an appointment to see the place, and fell in love.

The downtown apartment was much more finished, with soffits covering the ductwork, etc. but shortening the ceiling, the tops of the closets finished and closed off eliminating storage space, and generally feeling a little smaller than I’d anticipated. I went in to my viewing of the Uptown building anticipating the apartment to feel the same size, since the square footage and closet space were nearly identical, but it felt huge. The windows were much bigger and more open, the ductwork and electrical conduits were raised to the ceiling and left uncovered leaving more space and more of a cool loft feel, and the polished concrete floors just added to it. The best part was the closets. They were finished up to the standard 8′ ceiling height, but the tops were finished, so there was an extra portion of storage space on top, all the way up to the 12′ ceiling. The apartment that I chose is actually 150 sq ft larger than the downtown one, with more windows, and overlooking the grassy courtyard in the center of the building. Plus, it’s in Uptown, so I’ll be in the middle of all my friends, in a much more puppy friendly neighborhood, and closer to cheaper grocery stores, etc. I’m ridiculously excited.

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Socks!

I started a second pair of Järbo Garn Raggi socks for my dad on February 24, according to my Ravelry project page. I worked on them steadily through March (when I had time during rehearsals and teaching and going insane being at the studio 7 days per week) trying to get them done before my parents came out for the show. I didn’t.

They became my take-along project when I was going to the studio to assist in rehearsals for the Minnesota Dance Festival, and I got the first sock done up to the top of the cuff, and then they got set aside through my insane summer of living between Minneapolis, Fargo, and Michigan. Cut to four months later.

The first sock made sense. There was a toe, a foot, a gusset, a heel turn and flap, and a leg.

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The second sock made sense right up until the last row. It looked like it was in the middle of the No Hole Heel from YouTube, but the stitch count was correct even though I knew that the next stitch had to be a decrease.

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It had been languishing on a pair of size 2 circulars, while the nearly finished sock was on the 3s. I managed to get them switched on the bus, but I just couldn’t figure out the stitch count. This morning, I was able to look at the other sock and found the absurdly simple solution: a purl front and back increase on the center stitch of the heel flap that created the center column of the Elm pattern.

I’m back on track now, following the chart just as per usual, and I have a knitting project to take on the bus with me.

In other news, I bought some navy cotton broadcloth to make M a bedskirt, I have a plan for fixing the reverse lever on my Sears Kenmore for next to nothing, and my new teaching job is going wonderfully.

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Accomplishments

The nupp count on my lace scarf is up to 100.

My apartment is clean enough that I think my parents will have enough room when they arrive tomorrow.

Hazel is still moving very slow because I can’t bring her to the
studio to work on (that would ruin the surprise) but I have her color fully charted.

Now I’m off to a photoshoot where I get to wear a pretty, hooped platter tutu, then teaching, then knitting club at the studio.

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Sabbatical?

I can’t claim to have been ridiculously busy since I last wrote, but I have done some things. The lack of writing is more due to the spotty internet at my apartment and my still-unhappy laptop keyboard that makes bringing my laptop elsewhere to write uncomfortable since it necessitates not only my laptop but also that pesky (i.e. huge) USB keyboard.

Things that happened:

  • My grandmother turned 80 and went down to Mexico to celebrate. That’s an interesting story all on its own, which I may put in another post. Don’t worry, though, she’s safely back home now.
  • We had the first real snow storm of the year, and then an almost-blizzard. We only got 6 inches of snow each time, and never got real blizzard conditions, but just south of town the roads were awful and they had to close the highway for a full 12 hours. I love living on the great plains.
  • The almost-blizzard meant that we had a snow day, so I didn’t have to substitute in a 3-year-old class. I really don’t like teaching 3-year-old classes.
  • I did teach many more private lessons than usual, which is good for my finances, but bad for my free time.
  • I had a master class with James Sewell through my company, which was wonderful.
  • I started on The Great Apartment Re-Organization of 2012. I’ve been doing a little every day, and things are slowly starting to take shape. My biggest accomplishment is that my dance shoes and accessories are all organized, and so are my tights. Everything was in there before, but now it’s in order.
  • I continued with progress on my various projects.

First up is my awesome dance stuff organiation:

My Blackberry Bramble Beret is coming along, with just the very top to complete. I got a lot done on it during full-cast rehearsals, and I’m now in the final stretches. Of course, this means that the pattern is no longer totally predictable with the way that the cables and decreases come together, so it’s gotten harder to bring it to rehearsals.

To that end, I started Queen Silvia from Nancy Bush’s “Knitted Lace of Estonia”. I’m using my 2-ply superfine alpaca laceweight from Dharma Trading Company. I can’t even begin to express how soft this yarn is. I thought that the ball of yarn was soft, but it’s so much better knitted up! It has just the right amount of halo to make it a bit fluffy without distracting from the lace pattern.

I also picked up several more books from Knit Picks during their sale:
200 Fair Isle Motifs” by Mary Jane Mucklestone
100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet” by Lesley Stanfield
75 Birds Butterflies & little beasts to knit and crochet” by Lesley Stanfield

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Modern Technology Has Ruined My Life

Right now, I don’t have internet at my apartment, my laptop keyboard is broken, and my phone isn’t playing nice with WordPress. I’m typing this on a USB keyboard hooked up to my laptop, and I’ll post it later this afternoon when I’m at the studio. I’m hoping that it’s just the keyboard, because that’s a relatively cheap fix, but it could very well be something more expensive. In other news, I’m tired of Hazel already, to the point of giving up on my fuzzy pants, and thinking that my pointe covers are silly and pointless.

Hazel is awkward with the double knitting and all of the stockinette, simple ribbing, and increases. It just doesn’t have an interesting, predictable pattern to it. Figuring out the progression of the stitches and being able to predict what comes next is one of the better parts of knitting for me. I’ll go so far as to alter patterns so that they have a more logical progression, but I can’t do that with Hazel. The pattern is pretty well put together (there are a couple of unusual typos/errors in the pattern that haven’t been resolved in the errata yet) and I don’t want to mess with it. She’s a very good facsimile of a living creature, and any changes to make her more logical or interesting to me would change that.

I’ve set Hazel aside for a little while now, so that I can come back to it with a fresh perspective in a couple of weeks. As for the fuzzy pants, I tried picking them up again, but I’m so used to my new style of knitting that going back to my old throwing technique seems way too slow. I’m afraid that switching to my new method will change my gauge, so I’m just putting it off. The pointe covers are just making me grumpy for unknown reasons. It might have to do with the repetitive mock-cable pattern, or the fact that I’m scared of turning a sock heel, but whatever it is, I’m giving them a rest until we head into full cast run-throughs of Coppelia. Full-cast means that there will be many small children running around, and I don’t have a huge amount of actual stage time. The corps dancers have to stand onstage for pretty much the entire production, but I have a solid chunk of dancing and then I get to hang out in the wings or backstage waiting for my next entrance. During the run-throughs where everyone is getting used to the show order and talking through the blocking (i.e. herding small children), I’ll have some time to knit.

In the meantime, I cast on for Courtney Kelley’s Bramble Beret from “Vintage Modern Knits.” It’s the perfect cure for my Hazel-and-the-pointe-covers-are-boring ailment, since the cables, moss stitch, and bobbles all come together in a very nice, logical, and mildly complicated way. Also, it means that I’m finally knitting my beret.

As far as apartment organization goes, I now have a bookcase ready for assembly and bookends with which to organize my books on my new bookcase. The problem is that I need floorspace to assemble the bookcase, and I need the bookcase to clear the floor of books. I’ll probably resort to stacking the books precariously on my desk chair, but you have to admit that this is a funny little catch-22. I do have some over-the-door organizers that are currently holding dance tights and various pairs of dance shoes and shoe accessories. I also found several pairs of nasty old ballet shoes and toe pads that I ended up throwing out, and the total effect is that my bins of dance stuff are much easier to deal with now. On top of this, by organizing my tights, I spend much less time finding the right pair, and I was finally able to spread my leotards out enough that I can see them all in the drawer. It’s a miracle!

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The Knitter Who Can’t Touch Wool

I’m allergic to wool. More specifically, I’m allergic to lanolin. It’s not just wool that can give me hives, it’s everything from lotions to soaps. And by “give me hives” I mean “give me some of the worst hives you’ve ever seen, where I get itchy bumps that swell up and get flaky and huge and gross and last for at least a week and can leave a scar when all I did was touch that darn sweater in the store.” This means that I didn’t even try to knit with wool until a couple of months ago.

It also means that trips to the yarn store are downright painful. Not only can I not buy the stuff, I can’t even walk up to the display and run a finger over a skein. Yarn-buying excursions are well-thought-out events. I first check the fiber content by very carefully picking up a skein by the ball band or asking someone to check for me. Wool, especially where it’s labelled by breed, is dangerous. If it’s highly processed, that’s a good sign; superwash varieties are usually fine, percentages smaller than 20% are sometimes okay, and anything labelled “organic” should be treated with great caution. You know how some knitters like to pick up yarn and smell it? Apart from the fact that getting unknown yarn that close to my face is incredibly dangerous, if the yarn has that nice, rich, wooly smell, it means that it has lanolin in it.

Alpaca and angora fibers are usually all right, as long as they’re used in conjunction with other safe fibers. Mohair is like this, too, although I’ve never tested any 100% mohair yarns, so I’m not sure if this is due to processing or the nature of the fiber itself. (As an aside, I’ve considered adopting an angora bunny or two. I grew up with house rabbits, and loved it. The majority of rabbits shed a lot, so I’d might as well get some fiber from all the plucking that I’d end up doing anyway. On the other hand, I also love the Mini Rex breed, which doesn’t shed, and my apartment right now doesn’t allow pets, so we’ll see.)

Once I’ve checked the fiber content, I pick a couple of yarns to test. I rub a skein against my inner forearm, and wait for 15 minutes or so. If I don’t have hives by then, I’m usually all right.

For example, Knit Picks Wool of The Andes ought to give me hives, because it’s 100% wool, and labelled by breed (a cross of Merino and Corriedale). I only bought a little bit of it the first time that I ordered it because I was so nervous. Knit Picks is a relatively safe brand for me, which I think has to do with the fact that they’re using faster, harsher processing techniques; a lot of small producers’ products are especially dangerous for me.

Now, Wool of the Andes doesn’t give me hives, per se, but if I knit with it for too long, it does make my hands very chapped and dry. If I let it go for too long (more than about 30-45 minutes of knitting) my knuckles will actually crack and bleed, which is clearly good for neither me nor the yarn. If I stop to wash my hands and reapply my super special sensitive skin hand lotion, things are better, but the handwashing itself takes a toll. The yarn is better after I wash it, too. In fact, the felted heel patches that I made for my fuzzy pants lo these many weeks gone are perfectly fine. I’ve even touched them to my face and neck with no adverse reaction. I’ve also soaked some Wool of the Andes in dish soap, and that seemed to clear up the itchiness just fine. Unfortunately, soaking whole skeins risks felting the whole thing, so I’ll continue knitting and then washing for now.

So, to those wool-allergic knitters, have hope! Try more highly processed fibers, test carefully before you buy, wash well before you wear, and if you come up with more ideas, let me know.

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