Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Post Aran Knitting Depression

It's a terrible disease this. You spend weeks working on a "complex" project, finish it, are thrilled, high for a day or two and then you hit rock bottom. Horrid. Why? Mostly because it seems like after that, everything else should just be easy, but that's when the knitting gods have the most fun. They make everything you think you'll just whip out with ease go absolutely, horribly wrong.

Yes, it's the Knitting Gods. I swear it is. It couldn't possibly be my fault. - Just in case you still think it is my fault, see disclaimer in my entry a few weeks ago about how blame is fairly distributed on others, but never on oneself. Hey, if they're doin' it, I can too.

I'm making, you guessed it, more socks. Oh the surprise of it all! Hope I didn't give anyone a heart attack with the shock of that announcement. I would feel ever so guilty - and then I'd blame it on the radio program that's running whilst you are reading thing. See above note about blame. Anyway, socks shouldn't be difficult. I’ve done enough of them in my knitting career that I can now do them blindfolded. Change the number of stitches though, and I’m screwed. Math is not my strong point. It’s actually such a weak point that it really just fails to be a point at all. This does not bode well for my socks. They go just fine up until I get to the heel and then it all goes wrong (cue laughing Knitting Gods). You can’t do an alternating k, sl1 pattern for the heel flap with an odd number. It just doesn’t work since you need to end on a knit. Then you have to figure out when to turn the heel for the first time. Once you’ve finished the heel, the gusset slaps you in the face by forcing you to figure out how to evenly distribute an odd number of stitches on your needles whilst still having the middle where it should be and not off a stitch. That one just makes my brain hurt just thinking about it. Finally you get to the toe where you also suddenly have an odd number of stitches. This is, in itself, not a problem, except that you’re trying to find the middle of the bloody toe so the seam is in the middle. This cannot be done exactly with an odd number. Bugger that for a lark.

Combine all of this and you get the Winging It socks. Yeah, it looks like a sock and yeah, it fits on the foot, so yay for that. Now you just have to ensure that no other knitter ever looks at that pair of socks. Never, ever. A decent knitter will spot the mistakes at 100 yards. These are the socks that would be locked up in a room on their own somewhere if we were still living during the Victorian times. They would have to be sequestered for “their own safety”, aka to conceal the complete incompetence of the knitter and to spare them (them= both socks and knitter) further embarrassment. Nowadays they are simply socks to be worn under shoes where no one can see them. They must be kept hidden at all costs lest they frighten people. Only the very best of friends and relatives will ever be allowed within seeing distance of these socks. Showing them to people will become an honour because then those people will then know that they are one of the few well loved enough to be chosen to be allowed into the inner circle of those in the Know About the Socks that Failed. Ridicule of said socks will get you thrown into the Outer Circle, permanently.

Um yes, I blame the above on the drugs (I’m the current owner of some unhappy tonsils).

The point being that I am working two pair of socks at the moment and neither pair is going very well. They will get done and they will be wearable, but they will not be my best pieces. Topping it off is that I really don’t care for the yarn I chose to make the Snickets out of. There’s too much black and not enough cranberry. They should have just stuck to grey and red and life would have been fine, but no, they had to put black in there. Gah. However, since they are to be relegated to the House in the Country for fresh air and self-protection, I’m not going to bother to rip them out. They will be warm and warm is what I need.

As for the other pair, must buy KPs 2.75 circulars for socks in future. That way I can get the right gauge with a better number of stitches for sock making.

Oh yes, and just to make me even more miserable, the Knitting Gods messed with my Christmas ornaments too. I did one. It looked horrid. Will try again soon as Christmas is coming and I need small gifts for random people. I’ve also already got decorations for them. I found some brads that I can stick in the Styrofoam after pulling the knit tube on over it. They have little snowflakes and trees on them. Plus there are one or two other things I can glue onto them, so they should look spiffy – if the Knitting Gods will leave me alone that is.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Aran Sandal Socks and more Knitting Police

THEY’RE FINISHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m referring not to the 9th wonder of the world, but to my Aran Sandal Socks. (I say 9th and not 8th because I’m suddenly uncertain if they might have come up with an 8th in the meantime and I would not want to suggest that my Arans eclipse a wonder like Mount Rushmore, the Taj Mahol or Tom Cruise’s single brain cell, even if they really should). After much sighing, gnashing of teeth and fixing of careless mistakes in the cable pattern, I finished them on Sun. and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them. They are warm and toasty and lovely and soft. They also help me to achieve my life’s goal of looking like a conservative desperately trying, and failing, to look hip by wearing her cabled sandal socks to work in her leather Teva sandals. Woot! I can now look back on my life and say that I achieved one of my goals. Go me.

I’ve also been mulling over the idea of the knitting police after reading the following in the Yarn Harlot’s blog entry from Oct. 19th :

The first sleeve is done, and I started the slightly tricky business of adding the front circle stitches at the same time as I start decreasing away the sleeve stitches. I started that part last night on the plane, but the cold drugs took their toll on my ability to count and I can't tell you of the multiple things I discovered wrong with it this morning when I was clean and sober.

So you see? We really do need knitting police, or at the very least one of those gadgets like they are developing for cars that can tell if you are having short blackout or if your eyes are closed. I think they’re supposed to do something to wake you up even before you fall asleep, like having your MILs voice shriek at you that your house isn’t clean enough for her baby boy who needs to have everything done for him or he will surely die a sudden and painful death caused by the effort of putting his own dirty (hand knit by you) socks in the laundry basket.

This would work for knitting too. As soon as it detects your eyes drooping or blinking more often or more slowly than usual, your MIL will ensure that you are jolted awake again with a rapidity that rivals the TGV. This has the added benefit of ensuring that you will not continue knitting in this state because most of us have more than enough of our MILs in real life and do not need to hear any more diatribes on the hygienic state of our husband’s underwear, which surely should be washed by hand in 110° water, dried in the fresh air so it smells nice and then ironed to make sure it looks neat enough for him to be hit by a bus without embarrassment - after we’ve picked it up off the floor ourselves that is. (my own ex-MIL is exempt from this as she is lovely. I would like to have kept her, just not her son).

I’m sure there are those of you out there who would object to this because not only do you knit whilst out to dinner with friends, in the movie theatre and while waiting in line at the bank, you knit in your sleep as well. I assure you the latter might be functional, but it’s wrong. Just wrong. Knitting is your hobby. Hobby people, hobby. Try and remember this. One of the basic requirements of enjoying your hobby is being awake for it, of which your MIL would surely love to remind you.

Now I just have to figure out how to police taste and colour usage so we never have a repeat of the 70s...

Friday, 19 October 2007

Drunken Knitting

Well, I made some pretty good headway on the second Aran last night. I was going to finish the phone sock, but figured I'd leave it for the moment so I would have something to do when on the phone. I don't want to risk the Arans.

Which brings me to knitting when tired. Someone ought to invent a gadget that tells you if you are too tired to knit. I'll be knitting along, knowing I'm tired, but not wanting to quit, especially as I'm utterly convinced that I am doing everything correctly. So I continue to knit and knit and knit. Suddenly I look at my work, only to realize that something has gone completely haywire. I used to blame this on my knitting ability. Now I know it's not. These are mistakes I made because I was too tired to knit. I feel like the drunk who is convinced that he is still fully capable of driving when, in reality, he's two sheets to the wind and about to fall out of the boat. Now we ask ourselves, should a person in this state be allowed to not only possess and hold, but wield two sharp pointy sticks? Is this wise? Should we have knitting licenses with tiredness limits? Should there be knitting police?

Oooo! Knitting police. Now there's an idea. They could not only save us from knitting when we're tired, but knitting things they know are not going to work, will look horrid on the person we're knitting them for, should not be knit in THAT yarn, or are of a colour that will make future generations spew at a glance. Think of it! If we had had knitting police in the 70's all of those tightly knit tunics with belts in bile yellow, poop brown and dirty orange would never have come into existence! What a service that would have been! Maybe the Swiss Fondue Police (who come around making sure you are stirring your fondue properly) or the Paper Recycling Police (who are there to make sure you do not put your old paper out for collection before 6am on pick up day) would be interested in collaboration.

But I digress. The reason for all of this is that I did that last night with the Arans. I suddenly realized that I had knit the same 6 rows twice. It did not look attractive. Even if it had, it wouldn't have matched the other pair. Thus, we Frogged. If Frogs were only Princes...

I am hoping to get them finished this weekend, as I am fickle. Now that I've got the hang of the arans, I'm wanting to get started on the Snickets I found whilst hunting for a pattern for my aunt's commission socks. So many things to knit, so little time!

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Brain in Overload

Lately my posts have been taking on a long winded quality - honestly, if I were that long winded in sports I'd be a marathon runner - so I'm going to try and make them a bit shorter. Hmmm...36 words to tell you that, will I succeed? Bets anyone?

First up - doggie update, the short version: After a very long week full of very little sleep, T is finally getting better. *takes short break to play with wooden drum set, aka knocking on wood* He's a lot brighter and wants to take part in life again, for which I am extremely grateful. I am even more grateful that he is no longer on cortisone because the constant trips to the loo at all hours of the morning, and I do mean ALL, were making me question my love for this dog. I'm fairly certain he wasn't thrilled either. All of you Moms out there, I just don't know how you do it. T is only a dog and I have several more grey hairs this week than last week. Had it been my child I probably would have been hysterical.

So, since life is set to get back onto it's normal rickety track, I can get back to knitting. Having spent much of the last two weeks at the vets or running around after a sick dog, not much of that got done. I did finally finish the first of the Aran socks, go me! It took a couple of evenings just to get my head around no longer knitting the cable pattern in the round for the heel flap. I never did manage to do it as per the instructions, but I did do it. I just decided to start on the other side of the sock so that the first cable row was an odd one. The even rows were much easier to do from the back. That solved the problem and the heel looks fine. All roads, Rome, toga party til dawn, right? The rest of the sock was a breeze and now I'm looking forward to starting the second one.

Even though I really do like knitting the Arans, I'm taking a break so that I can finish the phone socks that have been on the needles for a month now. My aunt has been travelling so I haven't had my normal amount of phone sock time and it shows. She does still have the Internet though, so I mailed her pictures of the *Keira Knightly 9 to 5 and the cable socks so I could show them off, which landed me in a bit of a predicament. Now she wants some. They've been commissioned. This is good because I GET TO GO BUY YARN WITHOUT HAVING TO FEEL GUILTY but bad because I now have yet another pair of socks to knit. I was hoping to actually start on my Rogue Sweater some time this century. The socks can't wait though because they have to be done for my trip home in Dec. (yes, anyone reading this I will be gone for the entire month of Dec. Don't bother to come to my house and burgle it. There is nothing to steal except yarn. All of my electronic equipment is either second hand or of the lowest quality and none of it is new. Honestly, it isn't worth the petrol, especially as petrol here is running $6.50 a gallon at the moment. It's also not worth risking my neighbour's dog who is every bit as big as mine, and slobbers even more. If yarn is stolen, I will know it is a knitter and they were desperate. I will forgive them. Just don't ever let me find out who you are, k? :0) So, guilt free trip to yarn store. I can't wait for the weekend! :D

*I'd like to note that when I refer to my 9 to 5s as Keira Knightly socks I am not knocking Keira Knightly or insinuating that any of what the media is saying is true. It's actually because it's the media saying it that I doubt it in the first place. It's just that she is thin and that's just a fact. Should this truly a be natural occurrence, then that's just more proof that life really is fairer for some than for others.

PS: I'm in this month's edition of the Yarnival! Check it out, there's some cool stuff in there!

PPS: the second dog sweater fit like a dream apparently. Now they just have to convice the dog that wearing clothes is a good thing. Smart dog imho.

OK, It was another marathon. I'll try harder next time.

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

Aran Sandal Socks Revisited

Those of you who’ve already had the pancreatic blow by blow account may feel free to scroll down to the bit about the yarn. I don’t think you’ll want to hear about this Again.

I should have updated this sooner, but due to a slight glitch with my dog's (T’s) pancreas, I’ve been a little busy. Short, sparing version: T hadn’t been feeling well last week, but I’d thought we’d gotten him well again. Unfortunately, it all started up again Friday morning. I took the afternoon off and went to the vet's where they diagnosed gastroenteritis and gave him meds. Despite the shots, which really should have worked, he was still ill on Sat. Called the vet, she seemed to feel we could wait, with which I agreed. However, by Sun. morning it was clear he needed help, so we went to the vet's again. He’s been there since with Acute Pancreatits. Poor mite is not a happy, healthy dog. He’s apparently resting comfortably, or as comfortably as one can with Acute Pancreatitis, which is probably generally not very comfortable, but we’ll just skip actually thinking about that. Poor mite. He’ll be at the vet’s until at least this evening. Longer if she feels he cannot stay at home alone tomorrow. I want him to be out of danger before he returns. Biscuit, in the meantime, has gone to her mother’s, quite literally. I couldn’t bring myself to leave her at home alone all of a sudden, so she’s gone on a little vaccy where she can be outside all day and lay in the sun and generally irritate mom, which is always fun. She’s actually very lucky because she’s the only sibling who’s still tolerated by Mom, but for whatever reason, Biscuit gets away with everything. She can even eat out of her mother’s bowl, which no other dog on earth is allowed to even try without losing a really handy limb or two. It’s bizarre, but cute. And at least her mom doesn’t mind cuddling up at night. T hates it and Biscuit misses it so she keeps trying. T mostly winds up giving in. You can only get up and move so often you know.

On to non-dog related things. *cue scrollers*

After the vet visit on Friday I went to my Not So LYS. Hey, I was in the area, sort of. For the first time ever, they let me down. I now know why I never knit plain socks. The colour range is as follows: Swiss military green, steel grey, black, navy, brown. Woot! Oh the choice! How do you choose with all of those fabulous colours available! I’ll tell you. *You stand there looking at the yarn. You think, this can’t be it. You spy other solid colours and think “Triumph!” . The you look at the pretty colours and realize they are synthetic. You disregard pretty colours and return to contemplating the 80’s tie width range of solids in wool. You look longingly at the navy blue but know that it will not show the pattern, so you disregard it and choose the brown. You look at the brown, realize just how ugly it is and put it back. You abandon search for solid colour sock wool, while diligently ignoring all of the pretty striped and variegated versions. You walk away from sock yarn.* *repeat pattern 1 to 2 more times. You realize that like your refrigerator, the choice is not going to magically change and you must either settle for something you don’t really want or abandon the store. I chose to abandon.

After all, there is always the LYS with the sooper dooper sock yarn that comes in pretty greens, which just so happens to be on the way home. *innocent whistling* So, I stopped and made a bee line for the sock yarn section, not difficult as the entire store is the size of my bedroom. By the way, did you know that they call it a bee line because bees who have found pollen return to their hives using the straightest possible course? Of course you did, but I’m behind and just learned this about 2 weeks ago. They used little bitty bee sized antennas attached to a little bee sized collar to find that out. Y’all wanted to know that didn’t ya? Returning to the point, once again I found myself utterly disappointed with the array of yarns available in solid colours. Granted they did add a few colours, like bright red, bright yellow and bright orange, but since my wardrobe is otherwise rather sombre colour-wise, I felt it would be ill-advised to knit myself socks that precluded anyone actually noticing that I was wearing anything at all except a pair of large, bright, yellow, red or orange socks. “Witnesses said they aren’t able to provide a description of the perpetrator’s clothing. In an unusual diversionary tactic, the person donned a pair of bright red aran sandal socks that outshone any other articles of clothing the person may, or may not, have been wearing.” Like I said, unwise. Plus it might draw attention to my shoes which are definitely not pretty and are seldom clean (see dogs in my life). In the end, I had no choice but to choose the oatmeal coloured yarn that was at least a little better than the brown. I’m sure I’ll like them when they are done, even though it’s not a particularly attractive colour per say.

I cast on last night and got the ribbing and one pattern repeat done (4.5 inches of sock). It’s looking pretty good, or at least I think it is. You can see the pattern at any rate. I’m actually quite chuffed with myself now because it says it’s for the experienced and I’m actually doing it! Go me!

The only thing I didn’t like about knitting them last night was the lack of dog snores accompanying my stitches. Life is a little drab without dogs.

ETA: Last night (evening after original post), I unfortunately noticed that there was something wrong with the pattern. However, it didn't look to bad, so I thought I'd leave it but check my written out pattern today for errors. BUGGER. I made mistakes. More than one. Now I think I'm going to have to frog the last 33 rows of the sock. Damn. Ron and Hermione are still fighting on this though. I'll have a look at it at lunch/this evening to see how bad it is and then decide whether to frog or not. I'm afraid I'll have to though. What I did just cannot be right. It would also explain why the little diamonds on the mirror cable look a bit wonky. Bugger.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Aran Sandal Socks

Sadly, very sadly, I frogged the Aran Sandal Sock yesterday. *holds moment of silence*

It wasn’t the sock’s fault, nor the patterns, nor the knitter’s (aka me). It was the colour’s fault (plz2b not pointing out that choice of colour was down to knitter, kthnx muchly). Things were going along just fine, except for when I wasn’t paying attention which resulted in much tinking, and I kept thinking “soon I’ll be able to see the pattern”. Unfortunately/fortunately, I realized that I wasn’t seeing the pattern, not because it wasn’t there, but because the yarn is just too dark. I thought about it a while and realized that it would be silly to revert to Denial and continue knitting a complicated pattern that no one will ever really see and ergo couldn’t appreciate, so I frogged. - I assure you, this decision had nothing at all to do with the fact that I completely forgot all but one of the cable twists in one panel and would have had to frog to redo them anyway. Nothing at all. *innocent whistling ensues*

Again not wanting to do the 9 to 5 pattern again, or to spend time looking for, working on, and knitting another pattern that would never really be seen, I decided to ditch the fancy socks and just frogged back to the 2x2 ribbed cuff and started knitting again. I’ve thrown in a p2, twisted stitch, p2, cable panel (p2, k1tbl, p2, k6 (cable), p2, k1tbl, p2) on both sides just to make it more interesting. I have to say, it looks a lot better, even if it is simple. At least you can appreciate the pattern, such as it is. The only thing is that I realized this morning that there is an inherent design rule in sock creation. Never place your pattern in the middle of the socks. I knit on 2 circulars and putting the cable exactly in the middle means that it would technically continue down the heal and the front of the sock. I’m going to have to do some creative turning to get the cables on the sides of the socks. Should be doable, just needs a cunning plan, and I think I have just the thing. I also just realized that the sock now looks more like a man's sock. Oh well, suck it up Grandma, they're warm.

So, the new dilemma is that I really, really want to knit the aran socks (for me this time). This in itself if not a problem; it’s the yarn. You see, I have enough sock yarn to make more than enough socks. We shall not go into this here as it is an embarrassingly large number. (Hi, my name is Melinda and I’m addicted to sock yarn.) However, I don’t have any yarn that would suit the pattern and I really, really need to curb my spending. Any other knitter will understand my anguish. How long do you think I’ll hold out?

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Should we be stashing our yarn in the fridge?

I was thinking about Inkystick's question in our Ravelry SPEW forum the other day and something occurred to me, either that or I read it somewhere and it just popped into my head masquerading as an original thought. I can't imagine being the first person to think of this.

Your yarn stash is like your refrigerator. You go to it wanting something but you don't know what, you look in, you search, you stare, you realize you're wasting energy and shut the door on it again. Then you realize you're still hungry, you go back, you stare, you move things around, have a squeeze or two and then you realize you have three courses of action: A. Finally take something out just because you want something. B. you go to the store and get more interesting things. C. You call up the delivery guy and get a pizza. The yarn equivalent being on-line shopping of course.

The question is, should we just save ourselves the trouble and stash the yarn in the fridge? Seriously, think about it. You'd have much less room for food, ergo fewer calories in the house, you'd be saving energy because yarn doesn't need to be cooled and you'd be saving space in your other rooms. Sometimes my genius scares me. - Coincidence that I work just 800 meters away from the local psychiatric hospital? I think not.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Aran Sandal Socks

Dang. I had just finished pasting and re-formatting my Aran Sandal Sock chart in here so I would have it for future reference when I realized that it might be a tiny bit illegal to post that publically. Bugger. All that work for nothing. Still, as I have little to no desire to find out what the inside of a Swiss prison really looks like, or an American, or any other prison for that matter, I erased it. I'd like to keep my non-experience of prisons and police stations just that, non-existent.

I started these socks because, as pretty as they are, I couldn't bring myself to do yet another pair of the 9 to 5s in the same yarn, whether in Denial or not (oh, those are finished by the way). So I'm doing the Arans. Grandma better appreciate this because I'm tellin' you, the learning curve is steep. This is by far the most difficult thing I've done to date (which tells you how limited my experience with kitting actually is). The pattern says experienced. I figured I'd try anyway. I can always give up.
At first I thought it was the pattern, then I blamed the publisher, now I know that it's my fault for not understanding the pattern. I didn't read the beginning thoroughly enough to understand that they did list the abbreviations, just didn't label them. Now that I've found them, I have to frog the first 4 rows I did last night because I did the one cable wrong. I guessed at the abbreviation figuring that it would be OK as long as I did them all the same way, but now that I know it's wrong, I want to re-do it. Hermione is still fighting with Ron. She refuses to be caged completely. This is how I know I never actually reached Denial. Sad, I would have liked to see what was on the Other Side.

Back to the point. I love the book Socks, Socks Socks (see above link through Ravelry. I can't get to Amazon to link right now), but if it has one failing, it's that they tried to cram everything into as few pages as possible. Great for the number of patterns, bad for comprehension. So, I've gone and written the pattern out. It's going to be slow enough going with this sock, but constantly having to go back and forth between paragraphs to find where I am and what I'm supposed to be doing makes for little knitting and lots of reading.

Should you not hear from me for a time, you'll know that I'm still fighting this sock. I am determined. I am also occasionally very stubborn. Unfortunately, this stubbornness always seems to surface when it is needed the least, like with knitting patterns for socks that could be knit 1000 other ways, all of which would be easier.

In the meantime, a little Zen. This is the only thing that keeps me sane when doing difficult projects. Now, imagine a little light snoring, soft breathing and the occasional yap in their sleep: