June 24, 2016

So much knitting, so little progress

The unfortunate thing about succumbing to the desperate urge to cast on for a large number of projects at once, no matter how good the intentions, is that, ultimately, it seems like no progress is being made on anything.  Right now, I have a baby blanket (Bounce), a pair of knee socks (Sockmatician's Toe-Ups), a pair of cable-y socks (Paragon Socks) that have only the cuff done so there's no point in sharing a pic of that, a cardigan (Hitofude), a cape and a vest for the book, and a lace scarf on the needles.  If I'm going to be totally honest, there's also the Pi Shawl that I cast on about 16 months ago that languishes in the car and the Two Hearts sweater that has been languishing for slightly longer. The only projects that I have finished in the last 4 months or so are two consecutive pair of All About That Curve, both of which I cast on and knit feverishly because I got bored with the million other WIPs, and a much-modified version of the Amiga cardigan for the Shinybees Rav group. To say that I have created a situation of overwhelming stagnation is an understatement.  Really, I've backed myself into a stressful corner, as nearly all of the projects on the needles have looming deadlines.

So here's how it's going.  Bounce is suddenly at the forefront, as I was misinformed and the baby it is intended for will be arriving at least a month sooner than I thought. I am committed to working one full 12-row repeat a day.  I only have 18 more gradient repeats to go.

The Toe-Ups are probably not going to get finished before the KAL that they are a part of ends.  So, let me just give my final impression of this new pattern here because my insane choice to knit wool knee socks when the temperatures are in the upper 90s-low 100s every day in no way reflects the pattern. I do want to show off the amazingly invisible increases that I am working on the legs.

Overall, I think that if you are a toe-up sock knitter, this is a great pattern.  I'm neither a toe-up fan nor am I a single-sock knitter.  This pattern is clearly written for both.  I just don't like the fit of a toe-up sock through the heel and ankle, and the thrill of finishing is somewhat diminished for me when working a sock in reverse.  Finishing the leg is more like "Sigh. Finally. Well that was anticlimactic." Finishing the toe is a downright thrill. The super cool thing about this pattern is that, if you own an iPad, the math is automatically calculated for you.  I don't know many knitters who love doing the math on their own, so this is definitely a plus.

The only difficulty I had was with the gusset instructions, which weren't particularly clear to me, and I had to rip back and re-do.  I did post some more detailed instructions on my Rav project page for anyone who knits this pattern two-at-a-time.  Otherwise, it's a good pattern.

Hitofude is like the blanket in the regard that I am trying to knit one repeat per day.  So far, I'm up to 8 repeats and only have 6 to go.  I am enjoying this pattern now that I have it memorized and it is working up quickly, which is a plus because the blanket is not.  This fingering weight Silk Sheep flies through my hands, whereas the DK wool in the blanket, though incredibly soft and squishy, does not, and it also makes my arthritic hands and wrists hurt to work a heavy fabric on large needles.  I think I have also re-activated my golfer's elbow thanks to this blanket project.

And I can't show you anything else because it's top secret book knitting. We've been exploring our publishing options recently, so I've had less time for knitting on these items than usual.  Also, my life this week has been in a total chaotic shambles, for most of which I blame the appocolyptically hot and dry weather and Chester, the stupid donkey who won't stay in his pasture despite barbed wire and electric fence.

Alright, well, I have livestock to feed and chores to do before I can get back to feeling like a human knitting machine.  Have a great weekend!

June 14, 2016

In Reverse

I think that we would all agree that I'm a pretty prolific knitter of things. And, I'm not going to lie, when it comes to knitting socks, I am a sock addict. You will find me with at least one, sometimes two or three, pair of socks on the needles.  If I don't have 20 other WIPs going at the same time, I can whip out a pair in about a week (unless they are for my husband).  But, I'm a top-down gal, and having only done one pair of socks from the toe up, and granted, the fact that I had to re-knit that pair 7 times until my husband was completely satisfied with the fit may be coloring my viewpoint, but I can honestly say that top-down is the only way my brain likes to work a sock because in reverse, the math doesn't make much sense to me.  And although I totally know how to work 2-at-a-time, toe-up, I pointedly choose not to do it.

Until now.

So let me rewind and explain.  There's a British video podcast that I thoroughly enjoy watching now that I've just recently discovered the video podcast scene.  The podcaster is Nathan Taylor, who is also Sockmatician on Ravelry and a plethera of social media, and although we do differ on some of our views, I have found a kindred spirit in the love of musical theatre, advancing correct grammatical form (does that sound as "English teacher" to you as it does in my head?), and sock knitting.  Only, here's the thing: he knits socks toe-up.  Recently, he wrote a sock pattern that is so awesomely and mathematically ingenious that I feel like it would be a disservice to sock knitting if I didn't at least try it.  I mean, when someone figures out how to create a pattern that allows you to input your base measurements and then automatically generates ALL of the numbers to custom-fit your foot as you knit (you have to have an iPad for that automatic part--sorry Windows users) ... well I appreciate a man who does the math for me, don't you? Not going to lie. That's one of the perks of being married to an engineer.

Now, I also have this new yarn base, Traveler, and I have been dying (no pun intended) to use it for a pair of socks.  Yesterday, I cast on for the Sockmatician's Toe-Ups. The pattern is great and the math is done for me, but ... it's backward.  My brain is really struggling with working the part of the toe first that I always so look forward to working last.  It's like the week before last when I gave everyone desert before dinner.  The kids were so befuddled by homemade pound cake (with homegrown, sliced peaches drizzled in blackberry sauce and topped with whipped cream) that they didn't know if they should eat it or it just look at it.  There were questions, like "What are we supposed to do with this?" and "Where's dinner?" and "What kind of witchery is this?" That's how I am feeling about working socks backward, especially since the toes, based on my experience, seem to be very narrow.

The amount of brain activity that it has taken for me to repeat two increase rows would astound you.  However, for as much as I have struggled with this, I really think that this sock pattern deserves a proper test because, if you can't knit it 2-at-a-time, it's not worth knitting.  Of course, the important thing is that my Guitar God colorway looks fabulous!

I will, as the Sockmatician says, "crack on" with this toe-up madness and we'll just see how it goes.

June 06, 2016

Random on a Monday

So Monday begins again and even though it's still early, I'm already feeling like the keeper in the zoo when all of the animals are out of their cages and going wild.

In farm news ... All of the lambs have finally lost their tails.  Frenchie was the last one and I am happy to report that after a touch-and-go last two weeks, she is finally looking and acting like a healthy lamb should.  Lennie, her pen mate, is just plain wild and ready to go out and show everyone who's boss.

In family news ... Scout 1 had a work-related accident on Saturday and is on crutches with stitches this week.  Although it appears to be less severe than the doctor initially thought, meaning no fractured ankle, having a 19 year old that can't do for himself has been a bit ... more work for the mama. This mama doesn't need any more to do on her list. Scout #2 has his first retail job, and he seems to like it.  He's saving up for car insurance, so until he has his car, I'm his personal driver. And Rocket went to basketball camp yesterday for her first sleep-away camp. She's at the University of Georgia being coached for three days by the entire Lady Dogs coaching staff AND the entire Lady Dogs basketball team.  The graduated seniors even stuck around for camp this week, which was a total surprise.  She's torn between being more exhausted than she has ever been in her life and being star struck.  She took pictures yesterday with her two basketball heroines and was on cloud 9, so good for her!

with "Patches" Roberts
In knitting news ... About a month ago, I got it into my head that if I cast on for a bunch of things at once, then I would be more likely to get them done because I could just rotate and never get bored.  Well, I have 5 new projects on the needles right now, and pitiful little to show for it.  Turns out, when I only focus a little on each one, I get the feeling that nothing is every going to get done and so all of these projects are now making me feel more overwhelmed than entertained.  Also, for the first time ever, all but one of my WIPs are in my own yarn.  Not sure how that happened because the stash bug bit and I have an embarrassingly large amount of yarn that has been added to the stash over the last 6 weeks or so with specific purpose--most Christmas knitting.

I have a new pair of All About That Curve on the needles (nearly half finished) in Cedar Hill Farm Co.'s Gypsy in the Electric Algae colorway.  I am REALLY liking how this knits up, too!

I have Hitofude by Hiroko Fukatsu on the needles in Cedar Hill Farm Co.'s Silk Sheep in the Veridian colorway. I put this down about 2 days after I started it, and returned to it last night.  Initially, it was one of those projects that I couldn't find a rhythm for, but when I picked it back up last night, it sailed across the needles.  I am going to find it hard to put this one down again.  I am planning to have it finished for the Georgia Fiber Fest in September, so I have some time yet on this one. (Why yes, that is a large Cedar Hill Farm Co. square-bottom bags in the photo!)

I have a new sweater vest design on the needles for the book I'm working on in Cedar Hill Farm Co.'s Journey in the Lerwick colorway.  This one has been floating about in my brain for a while and it only decided to come out on Saturday, which was a very inconvenient day for me to be compelled like a mad woman to get it cast on and start on the writing of it.

I have a new Serendipity scarf on the needles in Cedar Hill Farm Co.'s Gypsy in the Iris colorway.  I've worn the original down to something not quite good enough to display at shows, so it's time for a new one.  Purples aren't usually my thing, but I'm quite drawn to purple lately, and that's probably a direct result of my lingering grief over the death of Prince. I was hit unexpectedly hard by that one.

I have Bounce by Tin Can Knits on the needles.  I'm making this as a shower gift for my husband's step-daughter from a previous marriage in a new line that won't be released in the shop until Fall, 2016.  This is a super wash, SUPER squishy DK that hasn't been named yet.  I did gradients in two main colors, teal and canteloup, and then cream, her other color of choice is the border color.  Two colors in 11 gradient shades each.  I hope this turns out to her liking.  I've had a very difficult time trying to decide how to place the colors, and I finally decided to do dark to light, from the edge to the center, for each color.  To me, these colors just don't jive well with one another in a "baby" fashion, so to avoid the risk of it ending up ugly, I'm just taking that safe route.  There is much more work to this blanket than I anticipated, and this is another of those projects where I haven't found a rhythm yet. But, like the Serendipity Scarf, Hitofude, and the two book projects, I have until September to cast off.

It's beginning to sound like September is going to be FO madness.

And lastly, the ever languishing sea of stocking stitch that is evolving at a snail's pace into a hooded cape for the book is on the needles.  This is one of those projects where, despite the fact that I knit like the wind, you get to the end of the row and feel like there should be a prize for having just finished the row.  Right now it's at 334 stitches in a worsted weight Cascade 220 superwash.  And I'm knitting it in the summer, in Georgia, in temperatures that suggest we live in the Sahara Desert instead of in the Appalachian foothills.  So, yeah, every row deserves a celebration.  I put this down for quite a bit because also I can't find a rhythm.  I've tried to make a deal with myself to do three rows a day because this really does need to get done and there will be so much embellishment work that the body is going to seam like a breeze. It's day 4 of that deal and I'm mostly on track so far.

Well, that's what I have going on as this week begins. Hope your week is a great one!


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