Have You Seen This Bag?

A quick post, just for knitters.

Early this year, my friend Trisha designed a beautiful, intricate bag and the pattern was published by Sanguine Gryphon. Knitting the sample was….a trial. I remember being astounded by how Trisha was powering through knitting with a pretty major injury, and how stressful that time was. This is not a bag that you whip up in an evening over a few episodes of Buffy.

Look:

Isn’t it beautiful?  I think so.  Apparently, someone else thought so, too…because while the bag was on display at Rhinebeck, it disappeared.  I like to think that fiber-folk are good people, so it makes me sad to know that someone would steal a design sample from a Sheep & Wool festival.  Trisha has (wisely) activated the knitters barking chain.  If you happen to know anything about where the bag has landed, would you please email Trisha? If you have it, would you please do the right thing and send it back to Sanguine Gryphon?

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Hexiwhat?

For a few months, I’d been seeing mutterings on my Twitter feed about a Beekeeper’s Quilt.  People seemed really into it, but I never bothered reading further because I don’t really quilt.  Time passed, and I started seeing people going on about hexipuffs.  That made even less sense, but I was busy, so I let that go, too.  It wasn’t until I saw probably half a dozen tweets over half a day–some that mentioned both the Beekeeper’s Quilt and hexipuffs in the same breath–that I decided to google it.  (Does anyone else still trip out over the fact that google is a verb?)

That was my first mistake.  I should have known that if everyone was talking about it ad everyone was making it, starting to ask questions meant I was walking on a slippery slope.  I didn’t think about that, though, and was instantly enchanted by the idea.   Its really very simple: you knit approximately eleven million 3″ hexagons in the round, and then you stuff them with polyfill.  Once you’ve knit all eleven million, you tie them together into a warm, squishy, puffy quilt.

I didn’t really see any way I wasn’t going to start one, but I figured if I sat quietly on my hands for awhile (or worked on the test knit I’m supposed to be making) I would forget about it, or get distracted by something more interesting.

That was my second mistake, because there is possibly nothing in the world more delightful and interesting than hexipuffs.

My third mistake was tweeting about how resistance was probably futile because when I woke up the next morning, a friend had sent me the pattern as a gift and it was waiting in my Ravelry account.  I pretended to be virtuous and waited until that evening to give this hexipuff business a try.  I knit half the hexigon and decided it was close enough to gauge, then knit the rest.  For a minute or two, I contemplated not stuffing it, but part of the appeal of the blanket was its fluff factor.  I dug the polyfill out of the closet (What?  You don’t have a random bag of polyfill sitting around your closet?), stuffed the hexipuff and bound it off.  All told, it took maybe a half hour.

I held it up, squeezed it a little bit, examined it from a few different angles, smooshed it some more, and totally began to understand the noise that Stephanie made in her vlog about the project.  Squishing hexipuffs makes it really, really easy to want to make that sound.

And then I reached for the closest ball of sock yarn and cast on another.  I knew I was in real trouble when, at the end of the night, I had four hexipuffs and a little pouch to store the project in.

I think I’m up to about a dozen now, and its really, really hard to want to knit anything else.  I mean, what’s not to like.  You get to revisit the stash of partial skeins of sock yarn and play with all sorts of different colors.  A half hour, and you have a finished project, and when its cast off?  You get to squoosh it.  And here’s the thing about hexipuffs, the thing that possibly makes them the most dangerous: they get exponentially cuter the more there are.

Can you stand it?

Yarn, Music and Food: A few of my favorite things.

The thing about holiday knitting is that it makes for really lame blogging.  Luckily, lots of other things have been going on.

I’m nearly finished with a project that’s been on hold for eleventy million years while I worked on a bunch of other things.  I’m a third of the way through a new project that I cast on this weekend.  I can’t tell you what it is, but I can tell you that I’m working with Three Irish Girls’ Lindon merino for the first time and I love it.  The colorway is called Backwards Loop, and was designed for one of my favorite online yarn shops.

I didn’t expect to love it as much as I do, since I’m usually not a fan of yellow.  Its also really, really novel to be knitting with such thick yarn.  I’m used to sock yarn on size 1 needles, and this is aran weight on size 6s.  (Am I the only person in the world who knits aran yarn on size 6s?  Its a little silly.)  I’m using the new Knit Picks Zephyr needles, and I like that the acrylic has a little give to it, but holy woah does the plastic slow me down.

I finished test knitting these mitts, but they are still waiting for buttons and I have no pictures.  I bought two sets last week, but I don’t think I like either.  My interpretation of the pattern is done in a soft alpaca, which makes them look very different from the smooth, solid looking silk in the original model.

I also have a stack of fat quarters here, waiting to be turned in to a quilt.  I am reasonably terrified, and sure that no good can come of this.

Last Monday was my birthday, and my husband planned an epic weekend.  On Friday, he met me at work to surprise me with tickets to the Springsteen concert that night in Baltimore.  I am still astounded that he managed to play for three and a half hours with no break and, as near as I can tell, no water.  The show was fantastic, and I can totally see how and why Springsteen became the legend that he is.

The actual show aside, it was a really interesting experience because I’ve gotten used to being one of the oldest people at the concerts I go to, and at the Springsteen show, I was easily ten years younger than the young end of the majority of the people there.

On Saturday, I hosted a meet-up for some of the ladies in the Three Irish Girls yarn club.  I thought that it was going to be just a hand full of local knitters, but in the end, there were 14 of us, to include Sharon, who for all intents and purposes is 3IG, plus four kids.  We had a great time, and were able to give Sharon her Christmas gift early.  The group on Ravelry assembled a log cabin blanket knit from scraps of her yarn.  I was dubious about how it would turn out, but in the end it was absolutely beautiful.  I was too busy running around and talking to people to take any decent pictures, but there is a great photo set here.

I had a little down time on Sunday, and then Jason whisked me away to Bethesda.  The first stop was a little athletic shop that I never knew existed, to pick out new running shoes.  It was a total surprise, and a lot of fun.  I can’t remember the last time I had a shoe sales person actually fit me for shoes, or even went shoe shopping with a specific-but-flexible goal in mind.  Usually, I am either just poking around, or know that I want a pair of black Dansko clogs in size 37.  It was fun to be able to tell the girl what I needed and have her bring me suitable things to try.  I wound up with a pair of stability shoes and am surprised by how much they change my stride.  (Some of my muscles are surprised by that, too, and are still not sold on the idea of having to work in new and different ways.)  In addition to needing stability, I evidently also needed bigger shoes.  The pair I have been wearing is a full size too small.  I never realized it wasn’t very comfortable until I put them on after wearing my new shoes.

After that, it was off to Visions for dinner with friends and family.  We asked Chef Tony to put together a tapas style meal of Italian and Mediterranean-ish foods, and he just ran from there.  All of the food was amazing, but the mussels in some sort of butter and wine sauce and the calamari that just melted in your mouth were my very favorites.  Carlos, the chef’s right-hand man, as I understand it, somehow remembered the prosecco I liked back in May and wowed everyone with hummingbird mojitos (the only kind I like), and I think (I hope) Tony charmed some of my Bethesda-area friends into making Visions a regular stop.  My parents came up for the party, and I got to catch up with some friends who I haven’t seen in about a million years and got lots and lots of hugs, which always makes me happy.

Lookit What I Can Do!

So, the epic holiday knitting goals list?  Yeah, it went totally off the rails this weekend.  See, all of a sudden, it got really cold and really rains and it drove me to search for something warm and wooly to knit in a nice, thick worsted weight yarn.  When I realized that the yarn I had on hand wasn’t sufficient to make any of the projects I wanted to knit, it somehow started looking at colorwork mittens.  (I know.  I’m back to the mittens thing.)  

Several months ago, I ordered some O-Wool 2-ply from The Backwards Loop to learn colorwork, but when it showed up, the red and the orange weren’t colors I wanted to put next to one another, so they have been sitting in the stash.  I don’t really know what came over me, other than that my hands were cold and I had a whole Saturday with nothing that needed to be done, and before I knew what was happening, I was printing charts and winding yarn and by late Saturday night, I had this:

The picture is terrible.  I took it with the camera on my Blackberry because I was so tickled with myself that I couldn’t wait to dig out my camera, take a proper picture, transfer and upload it…I needed to show off right away.

There are so many things wrong this mitten.  I’m still figuring out the business of tension, and how to strand the running colors so that stitches aren’t pulled at strange angles.  Its hard to resist not pulling the yarn tight at the beginning of each needle to avoid ladders, so the tension where the needles meet is a little wonky.  I’m trying to move the stitches around every so often to prevent that, and it seems to be helping.  

I’m shocked by how thick and dense the fabric I’m making is.  Its possible that I should have gone up half a needle size, but I didn’t have anything between the 2.25mm I’m using and a 3mm (that I just realized is labeled in the package as a US2, but I’m pretty sure a 3mm is awfully big to be a size 2.)  When I read that the pattern had me casting on 60 stitches for the cuff, I was just sure these were going to be way too big for me, and possibly have to be worn my a man with largeish hands.  I mean…60 is only a few stitches less than I cast on for a sock to fit my husband, and he does not have petite calves.  Now that I’m about an inch above the top of the thumb gusset, that thinking makes me laugh and laugh.  These suckers barely fit me, and my palm is only about 3.5″ across.  (Those of you who have knit colorwork before, or haven’t but are perhaps just a little more clever than me are thinking, “Duh.  Stranded knitting can’t stretch the way normal old stockinette does.  Of course the same number of stitches is going to work up smaller.)  Lesson learned.  

I’ve been through about ten bajillion diferent needle options for these suckers.  I started off wanting to use two circs, but only had one the right size, so I was using one circ and two dpns and that just got annoying.  I switched to a set of 8″ dpns.  I have no earthly idea why I thought I ever wanted to knit socks on 8″ dpns.  (Actually, I do.  Its because the nice lady at The Quarter Stitch in New Orleans told me its what she liked, and at the time, I didn’t know any better.)  I mean, its nice that my stitches aren’t ever likely to fall off the ends, but the needles get all hung up on each other, and stick out way to far, and…well.  They didn’t last long before I switched to shorter needles, except bamboo was just too grippy.  I’ve finally settled on using my grandmother’s old 7”  aluminum dpns.  (That one inch makes all the difference.)  The package says the brand is Hero from Middleboro, Mass and that they cost 55 cents.  (Its actually two sets put together because for some reason, my aluminum dpns are always scattered all over the house, which is why the needles are pink and blue and don’t match.)

By the end of yesterday night, the mittens looked like this, which, as near as I can tell, is pretty darn close to the way they are supposed to look:

Ravelympics

I’ve been reading a lot of buzz on Ravelry this morning about the start of Ravelympics, which should be about an hour from now in my time zone.

For those not plugged in to Ravelry, the Ravelympics are pretty simple: Choose a project that would be a challenge for you to complete in 17 days. Cast on during (or after) the opening ceremonies. Finish during (or before) the closing ceremonies. You are a winner.

I’m playing along (Competition: Sock Put, Team Tardis), but with about as much zeal as I’ve put in to the Summer of Socks, which is to say not much at all. Really off to a poor start here. I have my yarn, but its not wound. I have my pattern, but its not printed. My needles are…somewhere. Clearly, I am not starting this project until tonight.

I had really hoped to finish my popsicle socks before today, but I didn’t get it together enough for that, either. They’re coming along–I’m in to the gusset decreases and melting ribs, and I’m not sure I can put them down until after the 24th.

I’m not sure how much of the Ravelympics project you’ll see. Its Christmas knitting, so I’ve to get creative with photos if I want to blog them.

Lesson One: Cotton Doesn’t Stretch.

WIP: Broadripple, originally uploaded by autumnbriars.

I’m about an inch away from starting the toe decreases on my first Broadripple sock. Despite knitting them almost entirely on two circulars, I waited until well after the gusset decreases were finished to try them on.

This is not like me. Usually, I’m a firm believer that every now and then you have to put the sock on your foot and smile and wave it around a little. These socks were meant for my mother and not me, and her feet are larger than mine (as if nearly every other foot in the world), so probably that’s why I didn’t bother.

It was a bad move, and now my socks are walking on pretty thin ice. I threatened to ground them, but the fact is that the only other project I have on the needles is a baby sweater and I’ve forgotten where I am in the sleeve decreases and haven’t been able to psych myself up to tear out the sleeve and start over.

There’s nothing wrong with the socks, per se. But it turns out that cotton? Not so much with the stretch. Despite having knit at the same gauge as usual, with the same heel flap as usual, these socks barely fit over my ankle. You know those jeans in the back of your closet that you can wear, but only if you lay down on your back on the bed to zip them? Putting on these socks is sort of like that. Its a process. You have to really want the socks.

I would rip them out, but hello! they met Darth Maul, and therefore they must stay in one piece. And so I’m pressing on…and evidently making the socks for myself.

Look Ma, FOs!

These were the last on my WIPs from before Summer of Socks started. My goal for the rest of the summer is at least three pairs, including one toe-up. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’m a lazy knitter and I’d rather surprise myself by doing more than disappoint myself by doing less.

Vog On (Knitty, Summer 2007).

Knit in Toftsies 722 as a BPAL Switch Witch gift.

Bruce Wayne Socks.

Knit in Sanguine Gryphon Eidos (Protagoras), the best sock yarn ever. They are for my husband, and I’m here to tell you that boys have big feet. The pattern is my own, which I shall post as soon as I can be arsed to decypher my notes.

Light Saber Cozy?



Huh?, originally uploaded by autumnbriars.

I’m pretty sure that it is bad form to laugh at a Dark Lord of the Sith, but I couldn’t help myself. Hollywood Disney was hosting Star Wars weekend, and when I saw Darth Maul standing there, posing for pictures and signing autographs, I couldn’t resist.

Jason thought it was as brilliant of an idea as I did, so I marched over and stood in line. He had evidently just come out, so the line in front of us wasn’t very long. I remembered as I watched him pose with children and sign autographs that he didn’t speak. I’m here to tell you that did nothing to dampen his expression of absolute incredulousness when I marched up to him and asked if he would please hold the sock I had been knitting for a picture.

He looks at the yarn. And he looks at me. He’s wearing those creepy red and black theatrical contacts with the yellow iris’. He looks at the yarn. Nothing. I think he’s waiting for me to tell him I’m kidding. You don’t ask the Sith to hold happy stripey wooly things. You fear them.

“Please?” I say. “Look how happy it is. Don’t you want to get some Dark Side on it?”

He looks between me and the sock again.

“You can look disgusted with it.”

So he finally takes it, and I swear he was struggling to keep a straight face the entire time. We finish with the pictures, and he starts inspecting it, as is shown here. Turning it around, looking more closely at the pattern. And then he opens it up and looks through it like a telescope. I thought I was going to die.

Progress?

Broadripple, originally uploaded by autumnbriars.

My Summer of Socks knitting is kind of off to a lousy start. I cast on for these socks on Saturday, but I have two pairs still on the needles from before summer and they both need to be finished. I had grand ambitions to finish them before the 21st, but I got distracted by my tank top and they sat and didn’t get worked on. I finally finished the top of my Bruce Wayne socks yesterday and have been working the heel flap today. I have the yarn with me to start the second ‘Vog On, but I’ve hardly even looked at it.

The picture here is pretty much the sum of the knitting I’ve done that can actually count towards my SoS progress. Mostly, its been done standing in line at theme parks and on the monorail and boats and busses trying to get between locations.

I’m pretty happy with how its working up so far. The pattern is a simple two row repeat that’s easy to memorize, and I like that it works with the striping yarn instead of against it.

The jury’s still out of the Sockotta yarn. I don’t actively dislike it, but the cotton and nylon make it a little rough on my hands and I always find myself getting excited when I can pick up my Eidos again.

The Sock Meets The Hatter



Alice & The Hatter, originally uploaded by autumnbriars.

We’re at Disney, having a blast, and I’m getting lots of knitting done. I started and subsequently ripped out Wendy’s SoS sock, and started Broadripple, which met Alice and The Mad Hatter at breakfast.

The Hatter, by the way, says that blue is his favorite color, and that he wears striped socks.

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