April 28, 2008

Progress....and yarn

It's been a couple of weeks since I showed you the sweater that I keep claiming to be knitting. True there was the distraction of the grey socks, but I really have been working away at the thing and it is now beginning to resemble an actual knitted garment.

Well sort of anyway. The rows were getting soooo long before separating for the arms, but are now back to a much more manageable length. I'm in the 'largely mindless' portion of the pattern now, just stockinette back and forth and remembering to decrease every now and then. It is not the most exciting knitting, to be sure, but it's good for keeping the hands occupied when the mind is elsewhere (I really don't feel a need for more excitement at the moment). I am feeling the beginnings of the urge to cable, but so far it's in control.

Less in control, as a glance at the photo above suggests, is my tension. I'm still on gauge, but this knitting is less even that I'm used to. I think the problem lays, in part, with a difference in my knit v. purl tensions which I normally avoid by working in the round. The yarn is also slippier than I'm used to, which may be contributing. It's also only 40% wool, so I'm not too sure how it's going to react to blocking, which would normally be my first strategy with something like this. It's not bothering me enough that I'll be upset if it doesn't block out (and certainly not enough to rip it back).

I mentioned that I may have picked up some yarn while I was in Vienna.

Not too much damage, really. I have a great fondness for German sock yarns and knew going in that I wanted a few skeins for my souvenir of this trip. I visited three yarn shops in Vienna, all of which held many temptations.

The German companies seem to do the best self patterning yarns, so I was happy to bring a couple of those home. The pinky one is probably going to be socks for me. I almost never wear pink of any kind, but I do like the pink/grey/black combination and feel I may be able to put it on my feet. The greener one is what Adam picked out for himself.

The blue yarn there represents the only self-imposed buying rule that I broke. I didn't intend to buy any solid colours while I was away. There are lots of other, nearer sources. But I'd never seen this yarn (Lana Grossa Seta Cashmere) before and couldn't resist. It has an amazing sheen, which photos don't convey, together with a so-soft hand and a good hard twist. The actual cashmere content is only 4% (with 15% silk) but it's a nice luxurious little touch. I don't regret picking this up at all.

My dearest also gifted me a little yarn while we were there:

Regia sock in a colourway incorporating my favourite purple and chartreuse combination (yes, really) and designed by Kaffe Fassett, no less. Squee. I'm thinking these will be Monkey socks for me, one of these days.

My largely theoretical (and clearly completely delusional) knitting schedule had me finishing the vanilla sweater by the end of this month. Doesn't seem likely, does it? And with two more must-finish projects coming up before the beginning of July it may be a while before I get to start a pair of fiddly socks for myself. One of the great things about yarn? It'll keep.

April 24, 2008


I did get a reasonable amount of knitting done while I was in Austria, I was on a deadline after all. Here we see the second of the grey socks in a moment of repose in our Viennese rental flat (which was fab).

The sock also went to one of the finest emporia of food and drink ever, Centimeter II*.

The tape measure you can see was not brought, that's printed on the menu. Centimeter II sells many of their foods and some of their beverages by the cm, you see. It is of course also handy for the visiting knitter. Though to be fair, Jaggermeister can lead to measuring inaccuracies.

We saw the hippos at the Imperial Tiergarten. The living ones were too busy practicing their (remarkably graceful) swimming to be photographed, but this little guy was an excellent stand in.

So by working away at a row or two here and there (some very lovely heres and theres) and leaving the toe to finish the morning after we returned home I did finish the socks on time. I may not be ready for the 52 pair plunge, but it turns out I can turn out a pair in a hurry if I need to.

Gentleman's Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern
by Nancy Bush (of course)
from Knitting Vintage Socks
Phildar Preface

Finished Monday, washed Tuesday and packed into another suitcase for another journey on Wednesday. I may be able to get some modeled shots when they return. As usual with Nancy the pattern is excellent, though I wish I'd made them slightly longer in the foot. In fact I'm sure I'll knit this pattern again.

Which leaves two questions: Does this mean that the vanilla sweater is finally getting some time and did I buy any yarn in Austria? It is and I did. Next post.

*the slight stirring you may have just heard was my friend Nemo actually finding something on the blog interesting for the first time....ever? Or possibly my Dad and Ragnar having a laugh at the wee Jager bottles.

April 11, 2008

Grey, grey, grey

Grey weather and grey socks are suiting my grey mood at the moment. Actually the sock yarn is great to work with and the pattern is diverting yet speedy. Already well into the foot of the first one.

And finally there is something to show on the french vanilla sweater. Not much progress, I know, but a start. I haven't had a lot of time to work on it yet, but I've enjoyed it when I have. Working top down in one piece means that the rows get long fairly quickly - I'm heading towards the shoulders here and if uninterrupted I can get in about four rows in an hour. Its been a while since I've worked at sweater scale.

I think my favourite thing about this project so far is the chance to use my new(ish) Knit Picks Harmony set. I love these needles. They're perfect for wrangling this very smooth yarn and the points are the best.

The grey mood does not allow for meditation upon the queue at the moment. I'm hoping that my soul will be soothed by a week of yarn and yummies in Austria. Blogging as connectivity allows.

April 7, 2008

Hardly ever

I did something unusual this weekend. I visited my Ravelry queue, called up the pattern in the number one position, and clicked the 'cast on' button. No, not the sweater, but the Gentleman's Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern, which had been languishing in said position for 5 months, apparently.

I needed a pair of travel socks to work and himself has an event coming up that might benefit from the luck and comfort of a new pair of socks. I have wanted to knit this pattern since I got the Knitting Vintage Socks book (as well as most of the patterns in it, but I digress). I love the subtle texture and the calf shaping. They're long though, calling for 550m of yarn, and for the intended situation need to be in a subdued colour so......

I bought yarn. French sock yarn! So far I'm liking it. This project is on a very short deadline, which is good both because it will keep me going, but also because it will limit the number of blog posts dominated by pictures of grey socks (again). The sweater will have to be started as well, if only for respite and blog fodder.

The satisfaction of casting on the top item in my queue was diminished slightly when I noticed that I still have over 30 items on the list. Many of them are small, but still. Wasn't I just saying something about needing to make a knitting plan? Now topping the queue: The Snail Mittens. They haunt me still.

April 4, 2008

Still here...

But without much to show. The sweater that I keep threatening is still waiting to be cast on. It's not that I lack enthusiasm for the project, though I am still a little suspicious about that gauge, but I just couldn't sit down and get started. The yarn, though lovely, wasn't calling to me.

It eventually came to me: I felt guilty. Buying the yarn for the sweater, even though it was on sale and not all that spendy, was a splurge for me. The Canadian dollar has plunged like a stone against the Euro in the past little while and living in Europe is expensive. Plus I'm not working, so the balance is only going in one direction.

This realisation really surprised me. I'm not at all an extravagant person, but I've never really felt guilty for buying yarn before (even when perhaps I ought to have). I've always been able to argue that yarn (okay and books) are my only indulgence. I'm fortunate to have a wonderful partner who has not only never denied me yarn but often enabled me in its purchase. And none of this has changed, not really. I was able to afford the yarn that I bought, without much of a pinch. Would I feel differently if the finished object were to be for someone other than myself?

So I will, in the next few days, release my lingering doubts and cast on the sweater. We're leaving on a little holiday next week and the miles of stockinette should fit the bill nicely. I have a hat to finish up (surely this will be the last hat of the winter) and then I can begin a pair of travelling socks as well. I haven't had a sock on the needles since I finished the birthstones, I think I needed to catch my breath after that marathon of lace.

Speaking of which, here's a better fo shot of the amethyst lovelies before they hit the post. My feet aren't quite the same size as the recipient, but you get the idea.

Looking over my Ravelry queue today (no shortage of sock patterns there, let me tell you) made me think that I really need to make some sort of a knitting plan for the rest of the year. It promises to be an incredibly busy and not stress-free 9 months. I will need some knitting to see me through.