Saturday, February 24, 2007

Stop whining and try try again

A few posts ago I was kvetching about variegated yarn that pools instead of stripes. I've just learned the painful lesson that it's probably not the yarn's fault.

I was showing a heavily pooled sock to another knitter at this month's Knitting Guild meeting.

Here's one side, where all the reds and blues decided to party:

There's the other side, where the wallflower browns were hiding:

She asked:
"Are you knitting those for your husband?"
"Umm, no, they're for me"
"Is there a reason why they're so freakishly wide?"
"Er, no"
"You know, if you cut down the number stitches, the yarn probably wouldn't pool that way"
" Uhhh, yah"

That's what you get for following a generic sock "recipe" while completely disregarding yarn thickness and without swatching (What? swatching for socks? Don't be silly. I've knit dozens of socks! I'm waaay beyond swatching for socks. Swatching is for amateurs!)

Pride cometh before the fall.

Of course, I'd already finished the first sock, and was 3/4 of the way through the second so I really didn't want to rip them out.

But you know, sometimes the yarn deserves better. Especially this yarn. Koigu. I'm apparently not worthy.

Look at the difference FOUR stitches make. Now it's all heathery and delicate. I'm in love.

Why I kept on knitting after the suckfest of the first sock is beyond me.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Breaking the heathens down, one handknit at a time

When my elegant, long-limbed friend and co-worker Caroline complained that the sleeves on her new coat were too short, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to infect her with fiberitis. I see it as my mission in life to convert as many people as possible to the holy church of knitting. And I've managed, with the expert help of Judith, the High Priestess of Fleece here at work, to bring several colleagues over to the dark side through our incessant flaunting of handknit sweaters, lacy shawls, yummy socks and stripey scarves. We now have several devoted initiates and a regular Friday lunch stitch&bitch. But somehow, Caroline's immune system has been strong, and she has resisted all our attempts to pull her into yarnoholism.

Well my friends, I sense that her defences may be breaking down.

I knit her these warm wristlets using a modified version of this lovely pattern by Cheryl Niamath for Knitty. I just skipped the thumb part and knit a straight tube.

To improve my odds of a successful conversion, I used the squishiest, softest yarn I could find: Mission Falls (Canadian, yay!) Aran weight Merino Superwash Wool in Damson (a endlessly deep, lush plum colour). My next move will be to leave Rowan patterns and my "crack-silk haze" Birch lying around the office. That'll finish her off!

(Some of you more observant readers will note that the wristlets were not in my original 12 UFO list. Yep, I added another project to the pile. In my defense, I felt that it was justified if it meant saving another soul from wool perdition. Back to your regularly scheduled program shortly...)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

One project down, eleven to go...

Project: ribbed socks, no particular pattern (a 4x4 rib)
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM in ??? colour (I'm calling it "maypole", but the actual number, I have no idea, lost the band ages ago. Now that I have a blog, I really need to keep better track of these things, no?)

I really like these happy socks, especially since the colours twine around in stripes instead of pools. I have yet to learn out how to recognize "stripping" skeins (score!) from "pooling" skeins (meh). Once I figure that mojo out, I'll be golden!

Mind you, I do think that the horizontal stripping is doing nothing for me in the ankle department. I blame it on the photo. By Odin's beard it's hard to photograph one's own feet!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sleepless in yarntown

Is my love for knitting out of hand? I'm starting to wonder.

I had a rare bout of insomnia Friday night and was actually happy that I was wide awake at 2 am. I thought, hmm, this not sleeping thing would give me a lot more knitting time. I quietly sat knitting for 5 whole hours in the stillest, quietest house. It was really lovely.

Mind you, I might have not been quite as delighted if I had to go to work the next morning! And being up all night can feel oddly charming if it hardly ever happens (I feel the same way about power outages and being snowed in), but I'm sure it really sucks if it's a regular occurrence, as I'm sure my new-mom friends would tell me.

Anyway, I made some good progress on some Koigu socks, in a colourway that I decided to call "Maypole" because of the springy brightness and the way the colours twirl around the leg. I've finished the first one, this is the second.

Friday, February 9, 2007

I need to focus, big time

The other day someone asked me how many projects I had on the go. I'm embarassed to say that I have so many that I couldn't remember them all.

Well, I went through my baskets/bags/closets and found these:

2 orphaned socks

4 sock beginnings

2 cardigans

1 aran pull-over

2 shawls

1 scarf

Yikes!!! 12 unfinished objects. That's beyond a bad case of "startitis", it's borderline ADD!

And you know my fingers are itching to cast-on more. I've got a whole bunch of projects waiting in the wings, but first I must get down to business and clear the deck. I'm going to go knitting now. I won't resurface till I have a FO to show!

Friday, February 2, 2007

Silent poetry reading

Ode to a pair of socks
by Pablo Neruda

Maru Mori brought me
a pair
of socks
that she knit with her
shepherd's hands.
Two socks as soft
as rabbit fur.
I thrust my feet
inside them
as if they were
little boxes
from threads
of sunset
and sheepskin.

My feet were
two woolen
in those outrageous socks,
two gangly,
navy-blue sharks
on a golden thread,
two giant blackbirds,
two cannons:
were my feet
They were
so beautiful
I found my feet
for the very first time,
like two crusty old
firemen, firemen
of that embroidered
those incandescent

I fought
the sharp temptation
to put them away
the way schoolboys
fireflies in a bottle,
the way scholars
holy writ.
I fought
the mad urge
to lock them
in a golden
and feed them birdseed
and morsels of pink melon
every day.
Like jungle
who deliver a young deer
of the rarest species
to the roasting spit
then wolf it down
in shame,
I stretched
my feet forward
and pulled on
and over them
my shoes.

So this is
the moral of my ode:
beauty is beauty
twice over
and good things are doubly
when you're talking about a pair of wool
in the dead of winter.

Today is the Second Annual Brigid in Cyberspace Poetry Reading. You can read more about it here.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Pudding pop

It's been a few days... Sorry, I've been busy and haven't done a lot of knitting. So lets talk about my second favourite topic: food.

I made a pot of yummerly homemade pudding yesterday (I'm pms-ing so I cannot get enough sugar/fat/salt in my body right now) and I thought I'd share the recipe. There's nothing better than a bowl of warm, dark chocolate pudding, especially when it's freezing cold outside.

Here, make some for yourself, it's super easy:

Dark Chocolate pudding
2 cups of milk (cow, soy, rice, whatever floats your boat)
3 tablespoons of sugar (brown has a richer flavour)
3 tablespoons of cornstarch
2-3 tablespoons of cocoa powder (Depending on how chocolatey you want it. I always use 3.)

Mix the dry ingredients together really well to remove any clumps in the cornstarch, sugar or cocoa.

Put this powder in a sauce pan. Add the milk slowly while whisking to incorporate well.

Turn the heat to medium-high, and keep stirring till the mixture starts to bubble and thicken. Don't stop whisking, or the bottom will scorch and your pudding will taste burnt (ask me how I know this!)

As soon as it bubbles, turn the heat way down, and cook for another minute or two, till it's fully thickened.

You can eat it warm (the best!) or put it in little decorative dishes and chill in the fridge like mom used to do.

Bill Cosby, eat your heart out!