WIP Wednesday: She’s Watching the Detectives…

Man, it’s so cute.

But seriously, we’ll get to the whole Elvis Costello reference in a moment. First I have to show you my Wednesday socks.

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They’re not quite finished yet. I’m a wee bit disappointed in that, but Real Life and the latest Sims 3 expansion threw a bit of a spanner in the works on that one. I’m trying to limit the amount of time I’m spending with my Sims (Faeries! Zombies! w00t!). The Wednesday socks are pretty, yet look like they’re going to also be warm and functional. not bad for plain twine-coloured yarn.

And now we have the first official Scarefest sock of the season. It’s called “Watching You” by Georg Hawks.

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The recommended viewing is Hitchcock’s Rear Window (as opposed to Hitchcock’s Rear, and we’re SO not going there), and Sleeping with the Enemy. For some reason, ever since I started knitting these things, I’ve had three songs going through my head on a weird little personal playlist:

Somebody’s Watching Me by Rockwell
Every Breath You Take by The Police
Watching the Detectives by Elvis Costello.
(Look them up on Groove Shark or any of your other favourite streaming services if you don’t remember the melody. You folks born after 1985 might have no idea what I’m talking about. Not that I expect anyone born after 1985 to be reading my blog).

Figuring that at least two of those songs are upbeat and perky, is it any wonder I chose the very bright and colourful Hullabaloo from Lorna’s Laces as my yarn? I don’t think so.

Or maybe it’s all because I described this sock pattern as a “Freeform Jazz Odyssey” due to the weird instructions on how to “place” the lace feature on the chart. I’m not saying it’s a bad pattern, just that the eyelet placement are kinda reminding me of what I figure a 1960’s “Happening” might have been like (if I’d been born at the right time to participate in such a thing, and had access to the requisite recreational medication).

There’s a lot of yellow, green and blue in this sock. It may have affected my sanity. I see your game, socks. Well played.

Knitting as an afterthought

It certainly took long enough to finish off these socks.  They first appeared in the blog back in December, and I only finally kitchenered the last heel this afternoon.  They started off as purse knitting, went to a pub or two and the theatre…then promptly were tossed aside as I became somewhat disenchanted with socks over the first half of the year. They never even made it to Ravelry…they were just generic “afterthought heel” socks that only served the purpose of being a distraction.

Sockenklecks Tausendschon

This was a weird project. The socks actually started out as a scarf. Skacel / Schoppel Wolle, which seems to be a major European yarn manufacturer, likes to have fun with their products. These are the same folks who brought us Crazy Zauberball, after all. The scarf quickly found itself being unravelled, soaked, and reskeined…which is how it stayed for about two years before I decided to knit it up. I really didn’t feel I could just unravel the yarn as I knit…while it might be warm in the winter (until the scarf totally disintegrated), I’m not a huge fan of knitting yarn that’s already kinky-curly from a previous knit-job.

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If you compare the before and after shots, you’ll notice that the colour separations are a little wonky. I’m suspecting that’s because the wool was actually dyed in the scarf format, and as you can see in the first photo, those colour separations are nowhere near even or equal. I guess it adds a kind of charm to them. The yarn was also a little rough at first, but it seems to have softened up after a while.

Would I knit with it again? Possibly. Though when you think of it, it was rather high maintenance for a simple pair of striped socks. The unravelling, the washing, the skeining…I’d already done a lot before I even started knitting. I didn’t even bother getting matchy-matchy with the colour sequences. I also wasn’t too fond of the colours. I have no idea why I even chose the yarn, other than it was on sale. It’s kinda like a train wreck in that way…oddly compelling, yet not in a very attractive way.

So yes. Off the needles. One less distraction from the things I need to get done!

WIP Wednesday: Knitting with Handspun

Hooray for WIP Wednesday! I actually have pictures taken this week. Amazing! Usually I get caught a little flat-footed due to the fact that my schedule is all over the place.

First up, a pair of plain old vanilla socks in Trekking XXL. Not very exciting, but we can’t have everything. I actually do still have some design-knitting that I really ought to be working on, but with Yule looming, I’m not going to argue at getting a jump on possible presents.

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I made the decision that this year I’m not going to go too spectacular with the socks. Folks need comfy, warm, functional footwear just as much (if not more) than they need lace and cables. I admit, usually the lace and cables are more to entertain me during the knitting process than they are for anyone else’s benefit.

I also decided to cast on the first Bonus sock for the Super Sock Scarefest (there are still a couple of days left to sign up, hint hint).

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The pattern is called “Wednesday“, and if you can see the little illustration on the pattern in the photo, you can probably tell that they’re inspired by Wednesday Addams.  The pattern calls for sport weight yarn on size 2 needles, so I dug into my small stash of Paton’s Kroy 4-ply for a couple of skeins in the “Flax” colourway, and the Knitter’s Pride needles that I figured were actually a size 2.  They’re working up fairly quickly and at a good gauge.  Huzzah!

And now the more involved project: A shawl for Zwee. When she came home to visit for her birthday, I gave her the choice of socks or a shawl(ette) / scarf. She chose the latter. The yarn is the handspun merino top I recently finished spinning.

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I don’t figure that showing in-progress photos is out-of-the-question. After all, the magic really happens in the blocking. So that means that there may be plenty of in-progress shots that look like silly string, but there won’t be a finished object shot until it’s been blocked and sent. I chose the Brandywine Shawl pattern because it has a little bit of fancy, a little bit of plain, and can pretty well be knit until you run out of yarn. Hooray for getting the most out of what you use!

Knitting with my own handspun is definitely a good experience. The yarn was, in a way, telling me what it wanted to be when it grew up. Also, it gives me a good idea of how my spinning is going. I’ve learned that I really do need to add more twist to my ply, at least with 2-ply. It feels wonderful on the hands, though, and any knots or weirdly-spun patches are my own damn fault.

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Let the Scarefest begin!

It’s no secret that my favourite season is autumn. I grew up in a town where as the summer wound down, the trees turned colour, and there was a hint of all the smells of fall in the air. Living in a city without a bunch of colour-changing maple trees has been a little disorienting…summer continues or ends on a whim, and the few varieties of deciduous trees seem to be a little confused at the whole process – plus, with the urban sprawl around here, the trees are fairly young and sparse.

I still try to keep my little rituals, though. I carve pumpkins, I try to get the house clean for winter, and I knit.  I knit a lot. One of the sly little enablers of my knitting addiction in the past couple of years has been the Super Sock Scarefest (aka: The Scary Sock Knitalong) on Ravelry. Usually I get one or two socks knit, and then real life responsibilities take over and I have to stop. Obviously, I’m not in it for the stamina…I’m in it for the fun!

Redrum Socks
Redrum socks, designed by Jenny Lee. Inspired by The Shining. 2010

Who wouldn’t want to participate in a knitalong that pairs scary movies and knitting? After all, when the weather is getting colder, you naturally want to hole up with a movie. When you’re getting closer to Hallowe’en, the movies generally get scarier. If you’re a knitter, you will happily knit your way through all of it.

Willow Socks
Willow Socks designed by Janine Le Cras, 2010

The Scarefest organizers release one pattern every ten days starting on September 1st and ending on October 31st  each year, generally adding up to seven patterns. In addition to that, they also release bonus patterns for those who are ultra-fast knitters. The patterns are exclusive to the group for the run of the Scarefest (sometimes re-released to the public after a suitable time has passed), and anyone who signs up before September 1st is considered a part of that exclusive group. For those who are competitive, there is a contest for prizes – the scarier your picture(s) of your completed sock(s), the more chance you have of winning (again, I’m in it for the fun, not the prizes).

Revenge of the Mummy Socks
Revenge of the Mummy Socks, designed by Janine Le Cras. 2008. Modelled by Lhiabelle

The Scarefest is getting ramped up to go…the first bonus pattern has just been released, and we’re about a week away from the first official pattern. It sounds as though we have an exciting couple of months of scary socks and movies coming up. I definitely recommend signing up – it only takes a couple of moments!

I may also have an ulterior motive for suggesting that my friends sign up, but that would be giving out spoilers…or maybe the appropriate word would be clues… 😉

And in somewhat related news, my Weeping Angels pattern can now be considered out of testknit…I haven’t had any new errors brought to my attention, so I took the testknit label off the pattern and updated the Ravelry page.  Happy Friday!

It’s a secret to everyone

Well, we’ve gotten through the morning and afternoon of Wednesday and are now looking down the barrel of evening/night. The day isn’t over yet, though, and that means a WIP Wednesday is still possible!

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So!  What’s in the Tardis Bag and my Skully bag?  Um…I can’t show you those. They’re designs-in-progress that aren’t for public consumption yet. Yes, I know that’s annoying, but it’s better than the two pairs of stripey socks that you would see otherwise.

Well…not exactly two pairs yet. I have about one round and a bind off to do on sock #2 of the violently-striped socks on the bottom before I put both heels in. The other “pair” is really only a toe plus a bit extra on another pair of socks that I’m considering giving the afterthought treatment. Seriously, it’s the best way I’ve found to do a heel on socks that stripe that predictably.

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And didn’t I claim that we were staining the deck? Well, you need things to be dry to do that. Since we bought the stain, the weather has been extremely unco-operative. Downright belligerent, some might say. We’ve had rain, hail, wind…you name it. About the only thing we haven’t had is snow, and I’m sure that’s not for lack of trying. In fact, if Calgary could have a heat wave *and* snow, it would find a way (I’m pretty sure that’s where the hail is coming from. Valiant attempt, Mother Nature!)

I would show you what’s happening with the fluff, but I’m still in the middle of spinning singles. Like, literally in the middle, as I’m about halfway through the pink stuff. It’s spinning really nice and fine, though, and I’m also trying different things. I’m finding that I can just pull off a hank of the roving and start spinning, or I can divide the hank into about four pieces and pre-draft. I’m not sure which I like better, to be honest. The first method, where I draft as I go, has been pretty straightforward. It’s not like there’s a colour repeat to worry about or anything, and I don’t have to stop and prepare anything. The second method seems to go a little more smoothly when I get going…though I have a few more instances of stopping because I was spinning so thinly that I snap the single. The pre-drafting has been giving me a slightly more consistently fine single. Makes me a little concerned that I’ll have more pink than blue (and when I get there, more black than either) when I’m plying, but that’s something I’ll deal with when the time comes. It’s all practice, and the fact that I’m getting better and learning while I go is a great feeling. Besides, I’m sure I’ll be able to use the leftover pink and black singles when I get around to making the pink-and-black 2-ply that I’m thinking would make a lovely shawl or possibly a hat-and-mitt set, depending on the size of the ply. Maybe all 3, if there’s enough yardage!

Metamorphoses

It’s another WIP Wednesday! I would have posted sooner, but with the weather being overcast and rainy, I barely had time to bring in the laundry yesterday. Which is OK, because that gave me time to turn the heel on the 2nd of Robin’s grey-and-red socks

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It also gave me time to turn some of this…

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Into some of this. It’s looking nicer than I thought it would. Maybe my chain plying isn’t as poor as I thought….

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I also took the mess on the left over there

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…managed to detangle it…

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…and rewound it into a recognizable skein. By my calculations, I have around 229 yards in there. Hopefully enough for a Baby Surprise Jacket.  Hopefully.

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That’s what I’ve been up to.  How have you been keeping yourself busy?

One down, one to go!

So I decided, after all my issues with gauge, to just rib the heck out of Robin’s new socks. I figure that if they’re a wee bit large, the ribbing will fix that little problem! 😉

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So I’ve started on sock #2, and am ticking along fairly quickly all things considered. Having to purl usually slows me down, but I appear to have gotten into the groove.

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Ideas are percolating on the first Whovian Companion sock. I even have yarn, which I picked up at The Loop in Kensington (wonderful, wonderful yarn!!). I’m trying to do my Companion socks in mostly-solid colourways to show off the designs. Which is a shame, because I picked up some gorgeous sock yarn awhile back that I would love to dive into 😀

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In non-sock related stuff & nonsense, I have been continuing with the spinning. I have 80-some-odd little hanks of fibre waiting to be spun. I managed to get a considerable amount done while keeping myself awake by watching the first season of the X-Files on Sunday night. The bobbin is considerably fuller. I’m hoping to keep it up with the spinning, because I’ve been horribly neglectful of that skill. I’d hate to feel like I was learning all over again every time I start.

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This means I may have to order myself some more fibre soon. I have a few things I’ve picked up over the past year or two, but definitely nowhere near the amount of my yarn stash. Right now, I’m just trying to spin at least one evening per week, and if I wind up spinning more than that, yay me!

Socks – I got ’em.

Looks like the sock mojo is back. Now that I’m not knitting the Weeping Angel prototypes over & over, I’m giving myself a little “fun time” to cleanse the palate. Enter the Rollins Socks:

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Pattern: Basic toe-up with a Fleegle Heel.
Size: Ladies 9 – 10. 64 sts on size 2.5mm Addi Turbos.
Yarn: Knitglobal Sock Yarn, Colourway 401 “Candies”.

These were started at the Henry Rollins spoken word event, where Henry was so hot that the lack of air conditioning was a serious concern (no, seriously, no A/C.  Sticky hands on wool, yum! And yes, that was sarcasm. But Hank was still on fire).

The colourway is almost surprisingly stripey.  I mean…I had an idea that they would stripe, from a previous attempt at using them, but was kinda not expecting the purples and the pinks and all that.  Colours so sweet that they kinda make my fillings hurt.  But in a good way.

Flashing & Pooling

The flashing/pooling wasn’t unexpected, but I’m rather happily surprised at how they came out. Almost as though they were planned on both socks. I mean…I’ve seen self-stripers do this, so I was prepared for it.  I just wasn’t prepared for it happening so consistently.

Flashing & pooling

I like the simplicity of the Fleegle Heel, by the way, I’m just not 100% sold on it. I mean, I’m used to having a heel flap back there, and the geometry of the Fleegle fits well…I’m just not sure it will stand up to a heck of a lot of wear & tear. Then again, as I add more socks into my personal collection (I keep less socks than you might think), the natural wear & tear goes down.

Though I may, eventually, need a larger chest of drawers…

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Friday Five: Fading

It’s been awhile since I did one of these…

Today’s Friday Five is all about Fading.

What’s something in your possession whose color has obviously faded?
— numerous pairs of socks. Particularly the Koigu handpaints. I absolutely love the colours, but they fade so quickly! And, unfortunately, this yarn tends to wear thin quickly, so out of about 3 pairs of Koigu socks, I’m down to one….

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Koigu Socks

Which of your talents, skills, or abilities has faded as you’ve grown older?
— Amazingly enough, I used to be almost completely bilingual (French as a second language). While I can often understand conversation if spoken slowly and clearly enough, it takes some serious brain power for me to respond without sounding like an imbecile.

Among people you know, who seems best able to fade into the background in a crowded room?
— I would have probably chosen myself. Big girls often tend to try to make themselves invisible

What song seems to have a ridiculously long fade-out at the end?
— The Killing Moon by Echo and the Bunnymen.  Honestly, it’s like vocal masturbation. Seriously! La la la LAAAA La! (rolls eyes)

What recently prominent person seems to have faded quickly into oblivion?
— That’s one I really have no answer for that one. I’m not exactly on the cutting edge of what’s what 😉

Stripey fun

I realized, as I was headed out the door to work on Monday evening, that I already had a pair of vanilla socks on the needles. Of course, that’s not going to stop me from knitting the grey-and-orangey-red socks, but they may not be finished as quickly as they might have been otherwise.

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These are the socks that I cast on at the Henry Rollins spoken word event. I think I made it most of the way up the toe before we had to head home. Last night was putting the finishing touches on the leg and finishing off the cuff. Today I cast off sock #1 and cast on #2. I will admit that I’m enjoying the ridiculously bright and cheery stripe that manifested itself — as well as the weird and wacky pooling due to actually knitting a heel rather than putting it in afterwards.

I will admit that I didn’t have a lot of high hopes for this yarn, mainly because it was bought from a local yarn store that just seemed to be “phoning it in” towards the end. The proprietor didn’t seem interested in ordering new stock, and what stock I usually wound up buying would be so full of tangles that I’d usually end up winding the ball by hand. This skein was no exception. Sure, I brought the skein to work to wind by hand, but if it hadn’t been so incredibly tangled to being with, I wouldn’t have had to bring the yarn into the office with me to wind on my lunch break. It would have already been made into a yarn cake.

Store drama aside, the yarn (which I have never seen before or since) is working quite well for me. Makes for a very happy accident!