Projects to Complete in 2008

Projects to complete:

  • R2D2 Hat
  • Advent Calendar (not knitted)
  • Glove-mittens for me
  • Socks for me
  • knitted grocery bags-yarn or plastic
  • Noah’s Ark (must find pattern)
  • Animal for adventures
  • Traveling Gnome
  • something knitted from video tape-because it sounds interesting. If you have an old VHS to donate to the cause, let me know.
  • double knit scarf of old NY skyline
  • circle/round loom knitting – find or design more patterns to use these, stitch equivalents as well
  • youtube diy – watch episodes

The End!!!!

final socksThe socks are finished!!! I know there are a few skeptics out there who thought maybe I would finish one at the most, I have surprised even myself. They are far from perfect, but they are finished. The picture doesn’t show the correct flavor of orange, I think it’s a smidge darker, which is just a little more than a dash if you are of the curious sort. Nonetheless, they are finished.

I am now able to work on other projects. Next up, two socks at a time on the needles. I read warnings about having to take copious notes to be sure that the socks matched. I tried, alas, there are a few differences if you look close enough, however, I warn you, the next time you see the socks will most likely be on someone’s feet.

<rant>On my way to find the url to link to the pics for this, this lovely final post on the creation of the orange socks, my blood pressure increased so dramatically I really wanted to hurt someone. My photo gallery had been spammed by a whole host of asinine idiocy. Until I find a better way to deal with it, I turned off comments for the photo gallery only. WordPress provides some nifty plugins to deal with spam and they are slick. I have control, I have choices. Gallery doesn’t come with anything built in to deal with that, I will have to install something extra that may or may not solve the problem according to the comments I reviewed at the website for that product. </rant>

April 29, 2008: I quickly (3 hours of deleting by hand) solved the problem with a plug-in and requiring registration to leave comments.)

If you made it through the rant, I only have to publicly apologize to Z Mao. He had the unfortunate happenstance to desire my lap for nap. It took 5 minutes and 10 removals for him to understand that my lap was not available at that time. Pobrecito gatito.

Orange Socks Version 1.7

Why 1.7? Why not? The socks have been frogged1 a few times, I’ve dropped stitches, had to fix glaring mistakes, ignored a few minor ones and rewritten the pattern to accommodate some.

I have finished the second sock and have another inch and a half to finish the first sock. I know, how does one finish the second one before the first, that seems contrary to the definition of each word. You may remember that I knit up the first sock until I realized that I was going to need a few more yards of yarn. I had purchased two balls intending to make a hat, not socks. Even if I had known I was making socks, I wouldn’t have known that I need about 400yds to make a descent pair of socks. I didn’t want the socks not to match and had read about how to hide a dye lot2 change. I decided I’d give it a try, but was not going to make a special trip to GR to purchase more yarn. I didn’t want to lose momentum, so I stopped sock the first with 4 yards left and cast on sock the second with the second ball, figuring the color stripe, if it appeared, would be in the foot and match on both feet. The color looks just fine on the second sock, I can’t think it will go wrong in the first, but the yarn is closer in color to the second, not the first. I could swear I purchased the same dye lot for the first two, but one wouldn’t know it. On my way out the door last week, I couldn’t find the ball band, so I just decided to match it to the socks. Upon returning home, I quickly spotted the old ball band and I think the other lot was the same, whereas I purchased what appeared to be the last of a different dye lot. I rationalized no one would need just one ball, so I might as well give it a go.


1 Say “rip it” several times quickly.
2 Yarn comes in many, many colors and each color has different dye lots. Even though manufacturers try to be consistent from one batch to the next, it’s not always possible. A knitter should always purchase enough of the same dye lot to finish the project.

The Chronicles of the Socks

sock

I realized hopelessly, that the two balls of pumpkin colored wool I purchased a month or so ago were not enough for the socks. In my defense, I figured I would maybe make a hat out of this yarn, not socks. Because I want both socks to look more similar than dissimilar, I stopped knitting when I was mostly out of yarn, moved the sock to another set of needles, and cast on the second sock sometime on Saturday. Tonight, I started the heel! The second sock is going much more quickly than the first. Neither sock is perfect, but I had hoped to make different mistakes with each sock. So far I have managed to make much the same mistake on both, the learning curve comes in more on the second sock. I can spot the mistakes much quicker and sometimes unknit to fix them. Some of the mistakes are staying in so the socks match each other and with that said, back to the yarn shortage. I read somewhere that if you are almost out of yarn and are unable to get the same dye lot, leave enough of the old yarn to knit 2-3 rows. Then, with the new yarn in hand, begin knitting every other row old and new yarn, then leave off the old and knit just the new. So I stopped the first one with enough to knit about 4 rows, knowing that I will be able to purchase more yarn on Wednesday.

I have been listening to knitting podcasts while knitting or driving or any extra time I find. And before you ask, no, most podcasts don’t attempt to teach knitting through the spoken word. Most podcasters share book or magazine reviews, new yarn, projects they are working on, new patterns discovered, new contests, and random other knitting information. While listening to one today, I learned about the Master Knitter Certification. I promptly surfed to find more information as well as find bloggers who are currently working on or have completed at least one level toward Master Knitter. I am unsure about it, how can I be after only a few hours of contemplation. It sounds like the equivalent of National Boards for teachers, only different. An advantage, my knitting skill set will vastly improve over the duration of the program because I will learn not to silly mistakes and care enough when I do to fix it. A disadvantage, every blog I read indicated that it was extremely intensive and many had a tendency to put it off for a long time because each project must be perfect. Knowing that I sometimes procrastinate projects that I cannot completely analyze and finish easily.

I am trying to more organized from the start, rather than cleaning up later, much later. To further this cause, here is a link to some fun pictures I found on my camera.

The Sock Saga Continues

Sunday, we had family Thanksgiving with Jason’s family, it was wonderful. Granny hosted Thanksgiving again, Mom made smashed potatoes, and my contribution was to eat too much. Since I’m on a deadline, I worked on the sock in spare moments when my help was not needed and I surmised that it wouldn’t be too rude. I was able to add a few rows, these socks will have quite a story. I added a few more rows on the way home and decided against my better judgment to leave a partial row on the needles. I attempted to tuck it carefully in my bag so I would not lose any precious stitches. Somewhere between the car and Daisy, though not her fault at all, my sock began to fall out of the bag. Luckily, the tension on the yarn caused it to dangle in mid-air rather than drag on the ground. Unluckily, the tension on the yarn caused 10 or so stitches to fall off the needles as it dangled. Fortunately, I had just finished reading a charming book with a rhyming title written by Debbie Stoller. I borrowed the book, entitled Stitch ‘N BWitch1, from the library. While the title suggests that the book may be a little over the top and I won’t be purchasing it for my grandmother, it is an extremely informative book. I knew the theory of picking up dropped stitches, but usually I avoid it by frogging2 enough rows to eliminate the problem, sometimes to the point of casting on again. However, after reading this book, I felt confident enough to attempt to fix 10 or so stitches, five of which only lost the row I had knit in the car. Two or three stitches slipped two rows and four or five stitches slipped several rows, including some purled stitches and one decrease. I have to say that I almost let one of the stitches unravel several rows to fix a previous mistake, but my brain was unable to process the command and shut down instead, so I proceeded to fix only the dropped stitches. After fixing it, I tried to knit two more rows, however, I didn’t look at the pattern. I had done enough rows that I felt I knew what to do. It turns out I did it correctly, but thought I had done it correctly, so made a few rows that are well, unique. I don’t think too many people will examine his socks closely. I am fixing part of the error on the current row and will learn from the mistakes made. Number one, finish a row and push the stitches back or cap the tips. Number two, keep better track of where the decrease belongs, even if you just dropped 10 or 12 stitches and had to perform minor surgery.

Julie suggested a fantastic title for the sock series, she is rather creative when it comes to writing. I, however, have since forgotten what it was and so will continue with my only slightly creative titles that pale in comparison.

Before beginning this sock, I would have said I was a descent knitter, with my knitting ability located somewhere between advanced beginner and intermediate level knitting. However, since tackling the task of sock making, I would reclassify myself currently as intermediate, but a beginner-beginner before the sock. Yes, yes, the scarves are pretty, but they are the same stitch over and over and over and over with really fancy looking yarns that cover a multitude of errors. My goal is to finish Jason’s socks as quickly as I can. I allowed the dropped stitches to scare me, well, scare is not correct, discourage is probably better. I was tired after picking up the stitches, so I put it up for the evening and didn’t touch it at all Monday until late in the evening. This is unfortunate for many reasons, not the least of which is that I STILL owe someone a present from last year’s family Christmas, I will soon owe this year’s person a gift and need to finish Jason’s socks first so that I can make some socks for me, but after I finish some Christmas gifts. If the pair for me goes well, I may want to try knitting socks for others, but it’s a safe bet I won’t cross-stitch for too many others, at least not projects that take over a year to complete. Oh, and there is the shawl for the wedding, but that was not my fault, the yarn didn’t come in until three weeks after the wedding. Maybe I will try to have that done by our first anniversary.

Footnotes:
1. In an effort not to offend anyone and bypass any content filters in place, the name had been changed, but I know you are all smart enough to either a) figure it out based on the given clues or b) use amazon.com to find a book by that author.

2. Knitters will ocassional rip out stitches to correct a mistake. Say “rip it” to yourself several times quickly.

The Adventures of a Struggling Sock

So maybe it’s not the sock that’s struggling, it’s me. Or maybe the yarn is struggling to become a sock even though it is an inanimate object incapable of doing much of anything on its own. I wish my pattern had said at this point, “We know these instructions make absolutely no sense. We further understand that what we are asking you to do seems to be impossible, please trust us, we’ve actually made a sock before using this method, you have not.” If that statement seems to harsh and uncaring, maybe this one, “Up to this point you have knit in the round with no need to distinguish between front and back or left and right. At this stage, we are adding the heel, you will now have a distinct front and back of your sock. Once you finish the heel, we will rotate the stitches on the needles so that you view the sock in profile. We will divide the sock down the center and position the left side of the sock in profile on one needle and the right side in profile on the other.” However, if space was an issue and we needed to condense, something like, “We will now slide stitches around the needles and rotate the sock one quarter turn. From now on, you will view the sock from the side, rather than front or back.”

Had I any of the above statements, I would have said to myself, “Self, this pattern makes sense, let’s keep going, we can finish tonight!” Alas, it did not offer any of the aforementioned encouragement to persevere in the task. Instead, the pattern (yes, yes, an inanimate object) made me crazy for the better part of an evening.

As the furry maos began to help, so set the sock down and began searching on the ‘net for an hour or so. After a day of hunting, today is opening rifle season, Mom had offered to make chili for anyone who was game, so we went over to the folks’ place for dinner, with the brothers. (I have brothers!) I tried not to puzzle out what to do about the sock and enjoy dinner, at least I did something right 🙂

helper

After returning home, we watched some of our favorite Thursday night shows, then I did some more hunting of my own. I must have read 20 or 30 different pages on sock construction with two circular needles, I even found a video or two to watch. Unfortunately, the videos were sock construction on dpns (double pointed needles) as were several of the pages, the authors only indicated that socks could be formed on circs. Fortunately, I was able to see how to move the stitches and yarn around in a circular manner on dpns to pick up all the necessary stitches. I found several other lovely women, they seemed lovely but I didn’t probe too deeply, who struggled with the same step in the same pattern and book. Several pleas for help went unanswered, but I found an explanation or two, that while not answering the direct question, answered how that particular individual handled that specific step. All the sudden I felt that if I looked at my struggling sock and read the directions one more time while looking at struggling sock it would finally make all sense in the world. It was as if the heavens parted and angels sang. Ok, so it was more like a cat yawning and a dog snoring, but it was no less amazing. It made sense, I understood that I was putting two sets of stitches on the same needle even though a third set needed to be in between those. It’s like the logic games, move the boxes or the sliders. Sometimes you move them out of order so you can maneuver all of them into proper order later. I wish I could credit one author or a set of authors, regrettably was not one distinct source. I am now ready to pick up the stitches on the left side of the struggling sock and knit. My numbers don’t quite work out according to what the pattern indicates I should have, but I’ll fudge it later. I picked up extra stitches to prevent gaps and holes, as recommended by some of the lovely women I encountered in posts while researching. At this point, my struggling sock looks like an upside down miniature ski mask. I wonder if I could make a ski mask that way . . .

finally, a sock
the ski mask

My truly random thought, because the ski mask wasn’t, does anyone need a researcher? I’m not going to get my master’s in library science, but I’m a really good researcher. I spend many, many hours searching for an exhausting answer to my lack of sock construction understanding. I am fairly confident that I can now say I have seen it all.

On a completely different knitting note, I have learned so much on this one sock. I used to knit by counting and following the instructions extremely closely. In an effort to learn how to knit socks, I have checked out many, many random knitting books from the library. I have learned to knit stitches rather than counting, knit the knit, purl the purls. I found a small hole on each side of the sock, right where it isn’t supposed to be, I didn’t pick up enough stitches. On this knitting round, I knit to the old and armed with a crochet needle, I created a few new stitches and poof! no more hole. I have ripped stitches, recreated stitches. I believe I owe these brilliant discoveries to Douglas Adams. I have been watching the older BBC Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy episodes. I love the local library!

Jason’s Socks part 2

I have made some progress in the last two days. I have just a bit over 6 1/2 inches knitted for the leg of the sock.

6 1/2 inches knit

Now comes the fun part, knitting the heel, picking up stitches, the gusset and toe. Then I will start all over again. I will definitely learn how to knit two at a time the next time, whether toe up or toe down is not relevant at this point, though toe up is attractive due to the amount of yarn purchased. I can knit until I run out of yarn, with little to none to put back in the stash.

Socks!

Jason had class on Saturday, so I decided to spend the day with Patty. I drove to GR with a basket full of yarn and several knitting books. We planned to knit the day away. After a lunch that included Mt. Dew, we went back to her house and commenced crafting. I was a bit hung up on a volunteer quandary. The application process requires me to answer questions that seem a bit invasive, extremely callous and not at all applicable to the activities I would have participated in while at the organization. I eventually decided that I was not going participate in that particular project, overall commitment is yet to be determined.

After some mental processing, I was ready to begin my first sock construction. I had hoped to do my first pair toe-up two at a time, but after searching for a while, I failed to find a suitable pattern for my first sock endeavor. I wimped out and went for one sock at a time on two needles. I may try magic loop next time. Mostly, I’m concerned about not wanting to do the second sock and learning sock anatomy with too complicated a pattern. I cast on my stitches, frogged, cast on and frogged. All said and done, I was afraid I was going to have to cut some yarn due to over knitting. Here’s what I hope is the final cast on.

cast on

When I asked Jason if he wanted any homemade socks, he seemed hesitant at first, but I found some fun dark pumpkin orange wool to try this with. If I’m lucky, I’ll have them finished by Thursday, but I’ll have to do nothing but knit. This picture shows about 2 1/2 inches of cuff.

socks at 2

Harry Potter & Socks

So I’ve been obsessively hunting sock patterns before I begin. I know I should want to pay money for good patterns, but at this point I only want to try making socks and would hate to invest too much money if I don’t like it. That said, I’ve been using a lot of internet bandwidth hunting and found a sock swap with a Harry Potter theme. They linked to some other fun sites, such as a name generator (beware, there is one for boys and one for girls). My name came up as Emma McGonagall, while my old name came up as Lily Wigworthy, I kinda like the combination, Emma Lily McGongall.

I had a wonderful delivery today from the UPS guy. He brought me my new knitting book. There are two or three patterns I can’t wait to tackle. But I have a schedule, so socks must come first!