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Archive for October, 2009

The Upside of Illness

Being sick SUCKS!!

The past two days I’ve been home from work with symptoms I will not describe in full detail here, and I’ve already made arrangements to be home tomorrow. This is particularly distressing, as I was SUPPOSED to be at a conference yesterday and today (at least I already had sub plans ready).

But when you have no energy for anything, luckily you can still knit. In my absence from work I have finished the socks I was making for my older daughter for Christmas (pics will be posted when I feel up to taking them), gotten started on the Yoga/Dance socks for my younger daughter, made decent progress on my sweater forĀ  myself, and updated my Ravelry.

Knitting is a great sick day activity.

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Progress

In the past 24 hours I have made huge progress on sock #2. Last night before I started watching “Live Free or Die Hard” (yes, I was knitting while watching a Die Hard movie) I was about 1 inch into the sock. One long action movie, one church service, a jazz concert, and 4 episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” later, I am 6 inches in and have begun the heel.

This is a happy thing.

I have hope now of being able to finish these socks AND the yoga socks for my younger daughter in time for Christmas.

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The Second Sock

Last week I finished up sock #1 of the pair I’m making for my daughter (hooray!). The socks are the Waves and Piers Socks from The Little Box of Socks. I’m using Schaefer Yarn’s “Anne” sock yarn in a red/orange/pink/brown colorway…pink and orange are her favorite colors, often worn together. Yes, she’s an odd duck. This is one of the many things I love about her.

The Waves and Piers pattern is a lovely lace pattern that I just adore, and I had lots of fun knitting the first sock. I did alter the heel and use my favorite, the Strong heel rather than the recommended Forethought heel, mainly because I couldn’t figure out the Provisional cast-on that is required for the Forethought. This is one of those times when, despite wanting to try new things, you just say “screw it” and go with what you know. Besides, I’m already trying new things by knitting a lace pattern and taking my own advice from a previous blog post by using the Magic Loop method (no more lost dpns), so it would have been going overboard to try this freak-ass heel. On the whole, sock 1 went extraordinarily well, without any mishaps. Magic Loop was a little awkward at first, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly and moved well through the first sock. No problems with the lace pattern. I was able to keep track of the yarn-overs, ssk, and k2tog very well the entire way. It went smoothly. Almost too smoothly…

PICT0002

Enter sock 2.

The first 6 rows almost made me frog the whole thing. Now, these rows are almost identical to the pattern that I had been knitting the entire duration of the first sock (one minor difference: purl every other row rather than knit every other row…just on the first 6 rows). As I got to the end of the first needle on row 6, the last row of the cuff, I noticed something was amiss.

I was one stitch short.

On most projects I have done, this would not be a major deal. But this was my first attempt at a lace pattern. I knew that somewhere in row 4 I had skipped a yarn-over. Crap. It was time for that last item on the Ravelry profile to come into play (Fave Curse Word). I proceeded to take it out one stitch at a time, all the way to the offending missed yarn-over. I fixed it and moved on, and all was good.

Until I got to row 6 again.

First, I had a brain cramp and started the full-on knit row HALF A ROW TOO SOON. Yes, I was off my groove. Then, to make it even better, after I went back and did that again, I once again finished that row one stitch short. So I ripped back to the beginning of that needle (I never figured out what the problem had been this time) and re-did it, ending with the correct number of stitches.

I’ve been past the cuff for a few rows now and it’s all been smooth since then, but now the fear is nagging at me. I am now afraid that sock #2 will totally mess up. I hope not. I still have a pair to make for my other daughter.

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I have no casual sweater in my arsenal of winter-wear (and you need a full arsenal here in New England) so I have decided to knit my own. This will be only my second adult-sized sweater; the first one was for my sister, who is considerably smaller than myself. Knitting a sweater for an average-sized man will give me plenty of time to figure out some of the design aspects as I work.

What I have in mind is a pullover with about a 3 to 4-inch collar and a zipper beginning halfway up and going to the top of the collar. This is a fairly common design. I’m thinking maybe garter stitch for the collar, but unsure how that would work. For the body of the sweater, I’m doing a checkerboard pattern. Instead of creating the squares in two colors, which would be completely obnoxious, I am creating them in contrasting textures: namely seed stitch and stockinette stitch. Cuffs and bottom of the sweater (what is that called?) are in garter stitch, because I like a loose cuff on a casual sweater.

The squares are 10 stitches across, 14 rows. It’s quite easy, but occasionally I’ll lose track of the switch from one stitch style to another and have to yank a little bit out. I’m using Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool because I like the rugged look, and the price is more reasonable than some similar yarns.

One great book that has taught me a lot about basic sweater construction is “Cables, Diamonds, and Herringbone” by Sabine Domnick. The book revolves around knitting and designing traditional fisherman’s ganseys. While this is not really a gansey, the book has really helped with such things as knitting a sweater in the round (why sew when you can knit?) and how to do a three-needle cast-off with a neck gusset. Those tricks were worth the price of the book.

So anyway, I’ll keep you posted as this sweater progresses.

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Slowing Down

Used under Creative Commons License. http://tinyurl.com/y8e5sl3

Used under Creative Commons License. http://tinyurl.com/y8e5sl3

“There is more to life than merely increasing its speed.” Mahatma Gandhi

The above quote was read, repeated, and expanded upon today at church, and I couldn’t help but see the beauty and wisdom in this simple statement. No matter where we live, or what we do for a living, we often tend to take life at breakneck speed. We spend our days frenzied at work, only to spend the afternoon and evening running from one activity to another. If the activities aren’t our own, they are our children’s. From theater to Taekwondo to church events, my family is all over the place.

I took up knitting for several reasons, but one of those (or maybe it’s more like an unforseen bonus) was to force myself to slow down. Through this activity I am learning to be patient and still, and in this I have found beauty. My knitting group seems on the surface like just another scheduled thing, but the reality is more like scheduled relaxation (though not necessarily quiet!).

I do often find myself knitting to fill time while waiting, or as a multi-tasking activity while sitting at a meeting, but more often it’s when I am at home letting the day drift away behind me. Maybe I’ll watch a movie, but often not. It’s nice to just be present in the stitches, feel the fiber, and concentrate on the patterns and textures.

When I slow down and concentrate on these simple things, I am happy. I am at peace.

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