November 27, 2013

Not So Happy

My mother went out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday, and her dog-sitter was unavailable to take Benjy.  Out of desperation, my mother told me that I would have to take him home with me because she doesn't want him home alone for five days.

This is Benjy, the spoiled brat:

It's not a good picture, but it was the only one I could get where he was standing still - with his feet on my coffee table.

Here's the problem: I have a cat, Miss Kitty, who is 10 years old and doesn't like any living thing, and that includes plants.  There is a baby gate which confines Benjy to the living room and separates him from Miss Kitty.  Benjy sees the cat and he barks, he hears the cat moving around and he barks.  Geez!

Benjy is my mother's dog, and he has made it clear that while he likes me, I am not his mother.   The incessant barking is getting on my nerves.  Do I have to sleep on the sofa to accommodate a dog?  I think not.  When he's not crying about having to stay behind the gate, he's parked in front of the front door whining,  or planning his escape.  His escape would break my poor mother's heart and she'd probably be under arrest for attempting my murder.

I had to chase Benjy off the coffee table.  I had to push him out of the way to sit on the sofa.  I had to hold him back from jumping on me while I was knitting.  He puts his spitty toys on my lap or on my hands.  He sees the cat through the baby gate and growls, he scratches at the gate with his dagger-like nails.  It's so noisy, I can't even think!

And I have four more days to go.  Oy!

That said, it's already been a frustrating week.  My poor Artichoke sock bit the dust.  It was going swimmingly until I got to the foot and the math killed it for me.  The instructions were a bit dodgy and required more brain cells than I was willing to contribute.

I got this far:

I could have skipped the foot detail and just made a plain foot, but darn it, I really wanted that detail!  As a result, I'll have to tackle that pattern with another yarn on another day.

Still, I have to make socks.  My solution was to make different socks with the same yarn.  These are the Paraphernalia socks, which I cast on three days ago:

My apologies for the not so great picture, but you can follow the link to see the socks in 'real life'.  I've already picked up the gusset stitches and it's going swimmingly.  Thank goodness!  I was doubting my sock making ability there for a moment.

So, now I'm going to sit on the sofa and watch the rain fall down, appreciate the warmth inside since it's freezing outside, and try to figure out a way to work around Benjy's barking, scratching, whining and general misery because he misses his mother.

Four more days ...

November 12, 2013

About Those Socks

I did a drive by when posting about the Pin Striped Socks I finished a day or two ago.  They deserve much more attention than I gave them because there were a few things about them that I wanted to mention.

Here are the socks:

This is the first time I ever used the after-thought heel which was harrowing for me!  I found a tutorial on The Knit Girllls page which had a video tutorial and I followed it to a T for the second sock.  The first sock was a disaster!  Fortunately for me, I was able to stitch the gigantic hole at the heel flap for the first sock, and I smartly added two stitches on each side of the second sock which closed the hole completely.  Whew!

I don't like toe up socks because I worry about the socks not being long enough.  If I get it wrong, what can I do besides give the socks away?  That was the original plan, but I made them just long enough to fit me and they should have been longer for the person they were intended.  Talk about sock drawer enhancement!

The photo shoot happened at the Verizon store.  My son had to buy himself a new phone and while we waited for the process to run it's course, I told him to snap some 'live action' shots of my socks.

"Get lower so you can get the heel please." I say.
"I got the heel, Mom, what do you want me to do?" he says.
"Get lower!  You have to get a shot of the bottom of my feet." I say.
"You want me to get on the floor?" he says.
"If you have to in order to get the shot." I say.  "Unless you want me to get on the floor."
End of photo shoot.

With the socks done, I needed a palate cleanser - so to speak.  I needed something small, quick to knit, that didn't involve me balling up a skein of yarn.  Also, I wanted to make something with Heather V of Knits n' Things podcast to promote Diabetes Awareness Month.

Enter the My Toes Itch Cowl.  What a joyful knit!

I used Red Heart solids (white), Rowan Calmer (blue), and when I ran out of the Red Heart, I found a ball of white unidentifiable yarn found in my 'yarn walnut' bag.   It took a few hours to knit, et voila, a cowl for my niece.

When I have a moment, I will cobble together a hat using the same pattern - as soon as I find a skein of Red Heart in white which I don't want to buy, but will for the purposes of having a set.

If I were to make this pattern again, I would use a different main color (white is just too bright), and a multi-color yarn for the contrasting color.  This project was quick, easy and so cute.  It's a paid for pattern on Ravelry, and worth it because I have lots of yarn and it would be perfect for handspun.

Off to make more socks.  I'm trying to think who in my family doesn't want a pair.

November 11, 2013

Stitches East 2013

It was a warm and rainy day when I left for Stitches East this year, but that didn't dampen my spirits any because I was really looking forward to attending the weaving class with Deborah Jarchow that I signed up for.  I left on Thursday morning and returned on Friday night.

The trip was uneventful and the view from the hotel room was the same both days:

I was among the many shoppers and I enhanced my stash, just a little bit, with Eidos from the Verdant Gryphon in the Medusa colorway:

And I managed to get some mink from The Elegant Ewe.  Unfortunately, they do not sell yarns online, but I believe you can call them to place an order.

I also got a some yarn from Wandering Wool:

And some BFL sock yarn from String Theory:

And because this is a knitting blog, let me show you what I finished last night:

Pattern: Pinstriped Socks by Julia Swart
Yarn: Lollipop Yarn in the Life is Beautiful colorway
Needles: Karbonz, US #1

Another skein went from from string to sock drawer bling!

November 02, 2013

A Lack of Faith

My friend Maria is a knitting whirlwind.  She might spend an inordinate amount of time examining a skein of yarn, but once she decides to buy it anything could happen.  She modifies almost every pattern she ever met, and if she gets an idea in her head about what that pattern should be, instructions or no, she will improvise, make corrections, additions, subtractions, whatever, and if it doesn't work out, she'll rip it all out and start again.  There's a woman after my own heart!

This year the knitting group made the Willow Cowl by Amelia Lyon for our trip to the NY Sheep & Wool Festival.  Maria made hers in record time, and when both of her daughters wanted one as well - and because it was a fast knit - she agreed.  Brianne is pre-teen and Mia is pre-pubescent.  After doing a little math, Maria altered the number of stitches and the number of rows of the pattern to make it appropriate for both girls and came up with this:

Mia is modeling Brianne's Tween Willow Cowl.  Maria kept the picot edge, reduced the number of stitches by 30 and the number of lace rows by three repeats.  The pattern is the same as written with the reduced number of stitches, and the top of the cowl is 12 rows of 2x2 ribbing which reduced the bulk of the cowl.

Good job, Maria!  Two cowls down, one pink cowl to go.

Now we get to me, the scaredy cat.  I'm working on the Pinstriped Socks by Julia Swart and I decided to use the afterthought heel, as stated in the pattern.  I've never done an afterthought heel before, so I did a little research and ended up watching the tutorial by Leslie of The Knit Girllls podcast over and over again.

Looking at the sock as a whole, I'm not so confident about this whole idea.

Problem #1: I think I would have felt better using the regular heel flap or the Fish Lips Kiss heel where I could try on the sock as I go.  With this pattern I am unable to do that.  That foot is looking mighty short and I can't believe adding a heel is going to make it fit me.

Problem #2: I was afraid to break the yarn or take the needles out of the toe because I'm afraid I'll need to lengthen the foot.   I realize that I must have more faith than I thought because eventually I made the choice to break the yarn, but I'm scared and can't take the needles out.  Oy!

Problem #3: As I said, I've never done the afterthought heel, but I did pick up the correct amount of stitches,

but now I'm afraid to take the waste yarn out of the heel.  Dang!  And what color am I supposed to pick up to begin the heel anyway?  Double dang!

And don't get me started about my fear of not having enough yarn to finish the second sock!  Geez!

Hopefully my next post will be a photo of a pair of socks and the story will be one in which I ended up with socks that fit me - or somebody.