For the love of socks

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What a weekend! Saturday I drove down to Portland for Sock Summit, which was incredible!! I stayed with a friend in Dallas OR Saturday night, then drove back up to Portland for a class Sunday morning. If I didn’t have to work, I would have been there the whole time! It’s just amazing to walk into a huge conference area surrounded by people that you’ve never met before, and still feel completely at ease with everyone and everything. Knitters are just so neat like that; people from all walks of life, coming together in friendly near-chaos. So cool. 🙂

My class was on knitting lace socks, taught by Anne Hanson. I’ve drooled over and knit up several of her designs, and her blog is a highlight on my RSS feed. Though most of us in the class were already lace knitters, it was fabulous to hear her go over the fundamental basics of lace. I figure there will always be something I can learn from someone who has been knitting since she was five years old. 😉 It was such a wonderful opportunity, and I feel very fortunate to live within driving distance of the Summit, as well to have won the class spot in the lottery. I can’t say anymore that I never win anything!

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It was terribly difficult to behave myself in the Marketplace, but I had to. (I’m saving my pennies for a new Macbook Pro.) I decided to not get any more sock yarn, even though I was surrounded by it! I already have enough sitting in my stash, so I turned my focus on other things. My fiber stash isn’t all that great, so I started out by stopping at the Tactile booth to see what they had. Brooke and her darling baby boy helped me pick out a sampler of Alpaca:

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Five ounces of the stuff! It’s sooo soft and yummy, and Brooke showed me a new spinning trick. I can’t wait to try it. My next stop was to see Chris from Briar Rose Fibers; her booth was brimming with so many beautiful yarn and samples, I had to sleep on it before I could decide which to buy! The lace bug that has bitten me prevailed, and I walked away with 2500 yards of Angel Face Alpaca laceweight:

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2500 yards! More than enough for a couple of decently-sized shawls; maybe one as a gift, and one for me. 😀 Finally, I wanted more fiber, and I kept going back to the Girl on the Rocks booth. Karrie had some wonderful fiber and yarn, and after much deliberation and drooling I bought this:

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Superwash Merino, white with dashes of blues, purples and greens, all my favorites in one. LOVE. And there’s nearly five ounces of it, which can get me quite a bit of yarn.

I’ve also been knitting some socks, of course. Last week I started some Roger Socks, as well as a pair of Waving Lace Socks for Anne’s class. I’ve just started the lace socks, and I’m on the heel of the first Roger sock. Socks are so wonderfully portable. I actually found myself knitting on one while I was stuck at a dead stop in traffic during rush hour last week. Yet another example of how incredibly awesome socks are.

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Drumroll, please…

It’s finished!!

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Pattern: Aeolian Shawl by Elizabeth Freeman (Ravel that sucker!)
Yarn: XS-6 20/3 Bamboo from Habu Textiles; White

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I bound off Saturday night, and blocked it on Sunday. The sun has finally come out today, so I’m going to get my boy to take some pics out in the sunlight.

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I love the sheen of this yarn. It was so nice to work with, and the fabric it created is just glorious. I still have half of a skein left, which I already have plans for. 😛

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I’ve changed my mind about the yarn I want to use for my next Aeolian; I ordered some wonderfully yummy Merino laceweight yarn from The Woolen Rabbit, which I think will be perfect. It’s a deep purple, like the other yarn, but I think it will be interesting to do this shawl in a springy Merino yarn. I’m already swatching to determine what size needles to use, and hopefully I’ll be casting on tonight! Seriously, I think I need an intervention. 😛

Almost there…

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I’m getting soooo close to finishing my Aeolian! I’ve finished the first 24 rows of the edging, which means I have 22 rows left. I’ve been really good about inserting a lifeline along the way, usually at the beginning of every chart repeat, although I wasn’t so good about it when I first started. I had to rip back and start over a couple times, and once I finally started putting in lifelines at regular intervals, my mistakes didn’t require such drastic measures to fix! It’s funny how when you have lifelines you don’t really need them, but when you neglect to put them in you pay for it later! In this case, I don’t know if I was screwing up more in the beginning simply because I was getting used to the yarn/needles/beads/pattern, and now that I have the hang of it all I’m just not having many issues. That’s probably the case, but the superstitions about lifelines are still floating around in my brain!

After I finish this Aeolian, I would really like to make the smaller version. This one will still be with Habu Bamboo, which I have in a deep purple. I’m tempted to double up the yarn with the silk stainless steel that I have in a similar color:

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I’ll need to make a test swatch and see how it knits up. I still want to use beads, just not as much throughout the shawl. I’ll probably only use them through the agave and edge charts, and maybe in place of the nupps. We’ll see!

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Pattern: Lacunae Sock by Anne Hanson (Ravel that sucker!)
Yarn: Artisan Sock from Hazel Knits; Chocolatier

Amazingly, this is my first pair of socks knit up with Artisan Sock yarn, and I love this yarn!! Wendee has some amazing colorways, too, and I can’t wait to get my hands on some more.

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Ok, one more picture of the shawl:

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California dreamin’

We were in California for nearly two weeks last month, and the time to relax/knit was most welcome. I was especially happy to get a lot of work done on this:

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I’ve been steadily knitting away on my Big Ginormous Project, finally making it past the 12 repeats of the Yucca chart and nearly finishing the transition chart before getting on to the Agave chart. (This is actually an old picture; the shawl is far too big now to spread out on the needles to take a decent picture.) Adding the beads isn’t nearly as tedious as it was when I first started, simply because I’ve done it so many times now! Right now the shawl is my main project to work on at home (when I’m not spinning!) and my Chocolate Socks have been tagging along in my bag and getting lots of love. So while this blog has been rather quiet, that doesn’t mean the knitting has stopped! I’ve found it interesting how I crave to work on the lace; the increases and decreases are relaxing to me, somehow, and at the same time they keep me thinking as I knit. If I had my way, I would spend my days back at the beach, knittin’ my lace.

From Spring in California 2009

The Big One

After a couple of false starts and a lot of muttering under my breath (and maybe some muttering not-so-under my breath) I finally got this sucker started tonight:

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So far I love the yarn, and I think the beads are absolutely perfect. I swatched with two different beads to see which I liked better, and the other was just too silvery and ‘blingy’. Not really the look I’m going for with this shawl, but I’ll still save them for another project.

Baby!!

The other day at lunch I bound off yet another iPod sock.

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This one is for my boyfriend’s buddy Kenny, who has a new iPod Touch.  Those things are wicked thin, wow! They’re approximately 5 inches in circumference, which is just a tad more than my BlackBerry. It was pretty easy to figure out how many stitches I needed to cast on, and I worked it until I figured it was pretty close. The next time I saw Kenny, we tried it on (while still on the needles) to see how the length was, and after adding a couple more rows I was ready to finish it up. I’m losing count of how many of these things I’ve made. My iPod is two and a half years old and has spent most of that time in it’s knitted sock, and it has hardly a scratch on it.

I also have a couple other FOs:

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Pattern: Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann (Ravel that sucker!)
Yarn: Painter’s Palette Premium Merino from Koigu; P117

Pattern: Saartje’s Bootees by Saartje de Bruijn (Ravel that sucker!)
Yarn: Painter’s Palette Premium Merino from Koigu; P117

These are for my friend Julia, whose first baby is due this Spring! My first Baby Surprise Jacket was just that: a surprise. It looks like a little blob of garter stitch when you cast off:

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But once it’s folded together like a little piece of knitted origami, it all comes together:

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And the little bootees are just too cute for words. I swear, my ovaries just about exploded while I was knitting these up!

I’m about to start a huge project that may just make me go insane before the end of it. Finding the yarn alone nearly did me in, but a quick call to New York had a package on my doorstep from Habu Textiles in just a few days.

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Yeah, I have a feeling they’ll be sending me off to the looney bin before this is all said and done!

Introducing Coraline

Last month, I was talking to my boss who has been shopping around for a loom. (I talked her into taking up weaving again, and she’s been having a blast.) I mentioned that I would love to have a spinning wheel someday, and she suggested that I take a look at craigslist and see what I could find. So I did, and one of the first listings I found was for a 1975 Ashford Traditional that looked to be in pretty fair condition. I went down to South Seattle to have a look at her, and lookie what I came home with!!

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The woman selling her is a weaver who had bought her brand new in 1975 with the intent of spinning her own yarn to weave. She ended up using her maybe a few times, and she’s been in storage ever since. I paid a couple hundred bucks less than what a new Traditional would cost. I took her to the Spinning Guru at the Weaving Works, who hooked me up with a spring for the scotch tension, an orifice hook and lots of oil, and I was good to go. I took my first wheel spinning class that night!

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I realized just how much easier it was spinning on a wheel after using a drop spindle. Drafting came much more naturally, and I wasn’t having some of the problems the other ladies in the class were having. Don’t get me wrong, my first yarn off of the wheel looked terrible! During the second class a week later, Shirley brought out about 1/3 of a raw fleece:

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It was really cool to feel the wool before it’s cleaned and combed. I don’t know if I’ll ever go so far as to buy a raw fleece and go through the whole process of cleaning and preparing it for spinning, but you never know! Maybe someday. But for now, I’ll stick with spinning on Coraline.

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I already have about 120 yards of this Coopworth/Corridale white and purple mix, and another skein of medium and dark Coopsworth plied together:

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Just what I need, one more thing to eat into my knitting time! 😛

Thundering Boing!

I managed to finish my lace scarf just in time for Valentine’s Day:

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Pattern: Boing! by Anne Hanson (Ravel that sucker!)
Yarn: Wasonga from Curious Creek Fibers; Plum Thunder

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This scarf was such a joy to knit. The pattern was such fun, and the yarn was sooo scrumptious! When my boyfriend saw it for the first time after it came off of the blocking wires, he said ‘Wow, I can’t believe you made that!’

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Heck yeah, I made that! 😛

Madrona!

I have several things to blog about, so let’s start with this, shall we?

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A couple weeks ago I made the short trek down to Tacoma for the Madrona Fiber Arts Winter Retreat. Last year I just went down to spend some money at the Marketplace, and this year I signed up for a class on Saturday. I had the great privilege of taking a class taught by the Yarn Harlot herself. Stephanie uses a style of knitting that she calls Irish Cottage Knitting, also known as lever knitting, and I have great respect for her and the patience she has teaching this method! Every single knitter in that class was rendered dumb and our once-agile fingers suddenly were completely useless. We quickly dubbed this style of knitting ‘Crazy Knitting’.

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To her credit, Stephanie was incredible patient with us, even when we asked her for the billionth time to demonstrate how to hold and tension the yarn. She went around and devoted her attention to each knitter at least twice, and was very gracious after class to sign books and pose for pictures.

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I will sadly admit that I totally dorked out when I talked to her afterwards. It was embarrassing, really, but she was totally cool about it. 😛

Afterwards I jumped into the craziness that was the Marketplace.

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So much yummy fiber! I was very good and didn’t spend nearly as much money as I could have, but I still wiped out my yarn budget for the next month, at least!

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Starting from the bottom left corner: Two skeins of Socks That Rock from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, one skein of Silkie in the Gypsum colorway and one skein of Lightweight in Jubilation; fiber from Tactile Fiber Arts, 2 oz. of Sincere Sheep in Berries & Cream and 2 oz. of Blue Faced Leicester in Orchid; and enough Wooly Singles from Fly Designs to make this.

It was a good day at the Marketplace. 😉

Scarf love

These last few weeks have been incredibly busy. I don’t think I’ve been home at all since before the last weekend of January, except to sleep! Everything I’ve been wrapped up in has been good stuff, with good people, so that’s… good! I always have some knitting with me, and right now it seems like I’m working on nothing but scarves. I haven’t started the second Lacunae sock yet, and I’m going to hold off on that until I get at least another of my scarves finished!

One scarf that has been finished is my Noro Striped Scarf:

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Pattern: Noro Striped Scarf by Jared Flood (Ravel that sucker!)
Yarn: Silk Garden Lite from Noro; 2013

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This is my new favorite scarf. The yarn is so soft (especially for Noro!) and I love the colors. I would love to do another one of these; same yarn, different colors. Most people alternate between two different colorways, but I didn’t with this one. While I love how this turned out, I think I will alternate colorways in the future.

The scarf that I’m working on religiously right now is this one:

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I would really like to have it finished by Valentine’s Day, since I bought the yarn with the gift card my boyfriend gave me for Christmas, and also because I think it will look great with a little black dress. 😉 I consider this my first real lace project, and it’s also the first time I’ve used a lifeline. I haven’t had to rip back to my lifeline yet (knock on wood) but I know that if I don’t use one, I will regret it! The pattern calls for 22 repeats of the chart, and so far I’ve hit 25 with plenty of yarn left to continue. I like long scarves, and while I don’t think this one should be as long as, say, the Noro scarf, I think several more chart repeats are in order. The pattern is pretty intuitive, and actually quite addicting. Typical Anne Hanson; I’ve found her patterns to always be beautiful and fun! I am absolutely in love with the yarn, and how the colors and stitch pattern play off of each other.

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Since most of my knitting has been in public, I’ve had a lot of random people come up to ooh and aah over the colors. The other day I had two knitters stop by my table at Panera Bread to nearly drool over the yarn. It’s gorgeous stuff!

The love affair with scarves can’t last forever, though; I have one friend who is awaiting the birth of her first little sprout, and I want to try my hand at a Baby Surprise Jacket. Luckily, I still have some months left before she pops little Hunter out!