It is accomplished

Where Oh Where have I been?

“It is accomplished” – a Death

On the 24th June last I got some devastating news. A dear friend of mine died suddenly while he was on his holidays in Lanzerote. I’ve been wondering about how to blog about this for ages. I wanted to be able to give you all a feeling of what this man was like and how much he meant to me. But words fail me. I don’t have the eloquence to convey his brilliance. 

He was a shining light snuffed out too soon and I’m still foundering in the dark. 

Once I realised that I’m never going to be able to give an adequate impression of him or what his loss has meant for me I realised I just have to blog-on regardless. 

Why Oh Why am I back?

“It is accomplished” – an FO!

It would have to be a biggie that would get me back to my blog again after such a hiatus, wouldn’t it? Yoouuu betcha! 

One happy customer!

“It is accomplished” – an Achievement!

The completion of this cardigan signifies the huge journey that I have made in my knitting knowledge and ability. A journey that started over three years ago. 

When I knit this cardigan the first time I spent two months knitting; slavishly following the Glenvar pattern as written. The pattern itself posed no challenge: knitting on-the-flat using cables, increases and decreases was very familiar to me. So I spiced things up by learning a few new techniques: 

  • As I came close towards the end of all the knitting I learned about spit-splicing from Lisa in TIK – very effective in the 100% wool Kilcarra I was using.
  • When I had all the pieces ready for sewing, I discovered, through the power of d’Interneh (Knitty’s coffeeshop mainly) a concept I had never come across before: blocking. I did this fastidiously, measuring out all the pieces according to the schematic and waited days for them to dry.
  • When it came to sewing-up all the pieces, I researched widely, bought “Knitting for Dummies” and became adept at invisible seams. I was very impressed with all my attention to detail: you couldn’t tell where the seams were and the sleeve caps melded beautifully in to the armholes.
  • Then when it came to the zip I bought “Domiknitrix – whip your knitting into shape” by Jennifer Stafford and followed her instructions to the letter. Steam it? Check. Pin it? Check. Fit it on again as a double-check? Ah… disaster.

The Behemoth of Epic Proportions

I learned the harsh reality that many a knitter learns only the hard-way: pieces knit to the correct dimensions does not guarantee a well-fitting garment. Later I learned why it is that so many patterns are written in pieces rather than maximizing the benefit of construction through knitting: editors of ladies magazines, where patterns were published, had more understanding of sewing-based construction for garments. Hence all the pieces were knit into the fabric shapes rather than the knit stitches being manipulated to mould the fabric.

Enter: Elizabeth Zimmermann and Barbara G Walker into my life and my knitting. Enter: radical new ideas such as knitting-from-the-top, calculating gauge, charting my own design, customizing my knit to fit. Oh! and with a few short-rows thrown-in – always with the short-rows! 

The subtle benefit of Short-rows

This project has tested me at every turn. I have documented before how much more it and my knitting conspired to teach me – whether I wanted to learn or not. Even at the very end, when all the knitting was done and all that was left was the zip, I was very nearly thwarted: the original zips went AWOL and a special trip into Dublin City Centre was made to buy a long-enough zip.

And I’m still learning. Even now, as DH is giving the cardigan its first outing in public tomorrow, I’m still thinking I might re-do the cast-off on the cuffs because I’ve just learned Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Cast-off  (JSSBO) from my latest Cat Bordhi book. However, Bootie (the Ever-wise) pointed out the more likely explanation is that – after three years – I’m not yet ready “to break-up with the cardigan”. 

But, let’s face it: The Behemoth has been vanquished. Debbie Bliss’s Glenvar pattern has been conquered. And what’s more: 

I did it MYYYYYYY Waaaaaaay!

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Ziggy: more Zzzs than Zoom

Sick of Ziggys

I’m struggling!

And I’ve been struggling with this WIP for 11 months now.

In fact, continuing to struggle with it was my first mistake. I should have ripped it back 1″ after the toe.

I started these socks on my first trip to London last February. About 1″ after the toe I didn’t like how the pooling of the self-striping yarn was turning out. I realised that what I should do: knit tube-socks with after-thought heels using a stitch-count that worked for the pooling. Instead of sending these straight to the frog-pond, I let them languish in hibernation.

Then last September, moments before I was due to leave the house for my trip to the I Knit Weekender, I messed up winding balls for my planned travel-knitting. I grabbed these socks instead at the last minute. Over the course of the I Knit Weekend I progressed them through the gussets and past the heels. Fortuitously, because I had used a Whirlpool cast-on for the toes, I was able to use Cat Bordhi’s Side-Stream Sockitecture i.e. I turned the socks on their sides after the gusset increases and before I started the heel-turns. I liked the visual interest that gave the other-wise tedious socks. It redeemed them for me – a bit.

Then I tried to get clever. Recognising I couldn’t do much about the stitch-count at this stage, I wondered if I changed the stitch-pattern – thereby altering how much yarn was used in the round – would I get pooling I preferred. The legs of  these socks have become a mish-mash of four different stitch patters as I swatch and switch from one to the other.

The other night my knitting buddies convinced me to stop messing and have done with them. I’ve settled on a 2 x 1 rib for the rest of the leg but lo-and-behold… the pooling is the same as the foot. The socks are getting the last laugh.

DH is leaving on a business trip on Saturday so I’m determined to have them ready for his suitcase. At least that way, these socks will earn me a January credit in the Sock-a-Month9 KAL. In the Dublin Knit Collective the January theme is “Beating the Wintry Blues”; whereas the February theme is “Labour of Love”. Getting these socks finally finished would be my way of beating my January blues, that’s for sure. On the other hand, persisting with them in the first place was laborious and I only persevered coz I love DH, and giving him hand-knit socks, soooo much.

Serial Adultery

The other day I had cause to introduce one of my work-colleagues for the first time to a senior manager in our client department. Upon shaking her hand, he said his name and added “Serial Adulterer”. My work-colleague didn’t know where to look or what to think; and I quickly launched into some work-related topic to spare her blushes. Afterwards, we both agreed it was the most bizarre way to make a first impression.    

However, it got me thinking about being a serial adulterer and has caused me to fess up! While the cat’s away; the mouse is at play: DH is out of the country on business at the moment and meanwhile I’m being unfaithful – to his cardigan. I think when I realised that there was no chance of getting it done by January my eye started to wander and my fingers started to itch. Last night I knit a swatch for a Calyx Hat in Noro Big Kureyon and cast-on for a pair of fetching. I got a bad dose of “Startitis” – I thought I was immune!    

To prove to you – after such a sordid confession – that DH is truly the apple of my eye, the F.O. I present to you this Friday is his Christmas present: socks. Quelle suprise!    

Cat Bordhi's Ridgeline Master in Jawoll Silk by Lang

Details:   

  • Pattern: Cat Bordhi’s Master Ridgeline sockitecture on either side of the racy-lace detail of Oriel stitch pattern from Charlene Schurch’s book “Sensational Knitted Socks” up the front ridge and the leg above the heel to the rear.
  • Yarn: Jawoll Silk by Lang in Blue (Colour no. 130.0035)
  • Size: 9&1/2″ feet
  • Verdict: loved this yarn and look forward to using it again. I loved how the lace pattern was mannish but a bit racy at the same time. DH is delighted with them.  

Racey-lacey detail

Oriel Stitch Pattern from "Sensational Knitted Socks"

In the spirit of full disclosure, however, I have to admit that DH was not the original intended recipient. I started knitting these intending them as a birthday present to a friend of mine & DH’s but I didn’t finished them in time. I’m glad I didn’t post them to him, as it turns out, as his parcel went AWOL in the postal system – very frustrating!

Then I decided I would give the completed socks to one of my Clerk-of-Works. He’s been a fantastic help to me over the past year and is someone I rely on and trust to steer me right. At the same time, I worried about doing this because I’ve another Clerk-of-Works that I also think very highly of. The faux-jealousy between the two of them is great source of banter between the three of us. One feigns umbrage if I interrupt our discussion by answering the phone to the other; I can wrangle a slice of a cream bun during a site visit by mentioning I got chocolate biscuits when I visited the other’s site. 

In the end, DH got them by default or by subterfuge – you tell me: as I was finishing them off, I asked DH to try one on to check the fit. He did so, all the while remonstrating me, playfully, because he wasn’t the intended recipient. Then, as I was weaving-in ends on the second sock, he forgot he was wearing it and went outside to check something – without pausing to put any shoes on! That brief excursion was enough to make one sock look decidedly worn in comparison to the other. Given my concerns about upsetting the delicate balance between my two main Clerks-of-Works, I decided Fate had come in to play and my own true love was the most deserving of all.

Thursday’s Tour: Circles of Hell!

“Nothing ere I was made was made to be
Save things eterne, and I eterne abide;
Lay down all hope, you that go in by me.”

from “The Divine Comedy – I: Hell” by Dante

Don’t say I didn’t try to warn you! I’m sure this photograph is a vision of hell for any sock-knitter. These are four pairs of DH’s socks that I’ve had to put out of service until I can figure out how to darn them.

It's a Hole-y Show

I’m tempted to try the Yarn Harlot’s approach: Shout “Darn!” before throwing them in the bin. However, I haven’t knit DH enough socks to be able to afford to do this. Indeed, the scant number of socks available is what’s leading to this in the first place – as I realised from reading OfTroy’s blog recently. She has over 30 pairs of hand-knit socks so no one pair gets enough wear to wear them out. I know, I’m reeling at the thought of it too!

My reason for exposing you all to this is not for the shocking “horror show” effect but because I recently got Cat Bordhi’s new book: “Personal Footprints”. In it, she introduces a novel method enabling you to make a template – your personal footprint – for each person you knit socks for.

Basically your first sock – your “discovery sock” – is your tension swatch with which you check and note your gauge and foot measurements. You mark all the information down on your footprint for the next time you knit a pair of socks – with the same yarn. That’s the important bit. Each personal footprint is only relevant for the specific yarn used. Hence my need to weed out those yarns that are not cutting the mustard i.e. this Motley Crew.

Clockwise from the top we have:

  • Schachenmayr nomotta Regia “Color 4-ply /4-fädig”: yarn becomes black with wear first and then wears through – at the toes;
  • Yarn Addict “Superwash Fingering”: that’s a slipped-stitch heel that’s worn through – can’t believe it!
  • Lorna’s Laces “Shepherd Sock Multi”: not only holes but the colours faded with wear – compare the ribbing on the leg with the soles!
  • Artesano “Hummingbird 4 Ply”: that’s linen stitch that’s worn through there, I’ll have you know!

On the other hand, the socks made with the following yarns look as good as the first day they were made:

  • Lana Grossa Meilenweit “Mega Boots Stretch”
  • Zitron Trekking (XXL)

So, if I’m going to set up a Personal Footprint for DH it will only be with these yarns. I will blog separately about my conclusion for my own pairs – similarly, only two out of five yarns used so far “make the grade”. So, I just have to figure out what to do with the stash of sock yarn I’ve acquired to date. Keep on knitting until my number of pairs is in double-figures at least, I suppose.

Extra! Extra!

When my e-friend Bridget – a regular commenter here – mentioned on her blog that she had an article in the Winter Issue of Interweave Knits I was gutted. Yes, gutted. Why? because my subscription was up so I’d have to employ devious means to get to read her article.  

Or so I thought…  

When I arrived home yesterday, I was greeted by a pleasant surprise: Winter 09 is my last issue. And they’re none-too-subtle about pointing it out to me! “FINAL NOTICE” !!!!! You’d swear I’d forgotten to pay the gas bill and they were threatening to cut me off!  

Read All About It!!!

 

After I recovered from my bemusement, I remembered that I had got my issue of IK Winter 07 from a member of the Irish Knitters Board, Gilraen, on Ravelry in exchange for my copy of Mason-Dixon Knitting. So, hurrah for me and for IK’s original delay in starting my subscription – every cloud has a silver lining; it takes two years to realise some of them.  

The first thing I did – after ripping off the plastic wrapping – was to read Bridget’s Article. It was a great story about her trials and tribulations as she slogged her way through a year of knitting ten pairs of socks to give as gifts the following Christmas.  

It made me realise that I still haven’t given you all a full accounting of myself after I embarked on my own Year of Socks: my naive promise – in Christmas 07 – to knit DH a pair of socks each month for the following year.  

I say “naive”. Clearly, I mean “plain-dumb”. When I made the promise I had knit exactly one sock. NOT pair, One! I made the promise as a spur-of-the-moment decision because the present I had *planned* on giving him was this self-same PAIR of socks. Of which I had half. And I had ONLY half a pair because that first sock had taken a twice as long as I’d expected. Not to mention, the foot was an inch longer than it needed to be.  

This should have been a warning sign. Alarm bells should have been ringing in my head. In hindsight, there probably were alarm bells but I’d assumed it was Tinnitus brought on by the stress of knitting this sock.  

To keep me motivated I also joined the Sock-A-Month KAL. So, I may I present my Calender of Socks 2008:  

Click on image for Rav-link to project

January: Sock-A-Month KAL = 1/1

 

January: Socks for DH = 0/1

 

Click for Rav-link to project

February: Sock-A-Month KAL = 2/2

 

Click for Rav-link to project

February: Socks for DH = 0/2

 

Click on the image for Rav-link to project

April: Socks for DH = 2/4; SAM5KAL = 4/4

 

Click on image for Rav-link to Project

March: Socks for DH = 1/3; SAM5KAL = 3/3

 

Click on image for Rav-link to project

July: Socks for DH = 4 out of 7

 

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May: Socks for DH = 3/5; SAM5KAL = 5/5

 

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September: Socks for DH = 6/9; SAM5KAL = 8/9

 

August: Socks for DH = 5; SAM5KAL = 7

 

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November: Socks for DH = 7; SAM5KAL = 10

 

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October: Socks for DH = 7/10; SAM5KAL = 9/10

 

January: I started the year by trying to finish the Christmas-Present-Socks. Unfortunately, I decided to knit the second sock on metal circulars; whereas the first was knit on Bamboo DPNs. When I realised the socks were cursed (I was getting a pair of Little’n’Large) I abandoned them and opted instead to knit a pair of kid’s socks so that I’d at least get a credit on the Sock-A-Month 5 KAL. It wouldn’t do to just knit a pair of plain – oh no! I had to design them, based on EZ’s Fishtrap Aran. My Cheer-Me-Up Socks – which were intended for my DD, but which ended up only fitting her younger brother – were finished on the last day of January.
January’s score: DH – 0; SAM5KAL – 1 

February: Started “Hidden Passion Socks“, from Favourite Socks, for DH thinking I’d get them done in time for Valentine’s Day – bleuch! Realised after I’d turned the heel of the first sock (some time in mid-Feb!) that I should have been working in stripes or I’d run out of one colour.  These got frogged while I quickly double-knit two tubes and stuck “after-thought heels” in on the last day of February in order to qualify for a credit in SAM5. Thank Goodness it was a Leap Year that year!
February’s score: DH – 0; SAM5KAL – 2 

March: I started the Hidden Passion Socks again but this time I re-wrote the pattern so that I could make them toe-up and two-at-a-time. What’s more… I finished them! And I started another pair, “Diagonal Cross-Rib” from Favourite Socks, in anticipation of April – I was wisening up. March’s score: DH – 1; SAM5KAL – 3 

April: Abandoned the Diagonal Cross-Rib socks in mid-April when I realised that the stitch-pattern was taking too much time. Cast-on “Back-to-Basics” instead. And finished them within the month! April’s score: DH – 2; SAM5KAL – 4 

May: My version of Undulating Rib from Favourite Socks were toe-up; whereas the pattern is written cuff-down. So I called them “Bir gNitaludnu” – that’s Undulating Rib backwards – geddit? May’s score: DH – 3; SAM5KAL – 5 

June: I got busy with knitting gifts and abandoned sock knitting this month! June’s score: Socks for DH – 3; SAM5KAL – 5 

July: Cat Bordhi’s book “New Pathways for Sock Knitters” must have arrived into my life around this time. Suddenly all my socks became a collation between patterns in Favourite Socks and one of her Sockitectures. July combined “Cable Rib” socks with her Upstream Sockitecture. Started in June, finished in July. DH – 4; SAM5KAL – 6 

August: I picked up my “April” Socks again and entered them into the Ravelympics under the event “WIPs-wrestling” And I finished them too!
August’s score: DH – 5; SAM5KAL – 7 

September: Another collation this month between Mock Cable Wave from Favourite Socks and Cat Bordhi’s Riverbed Sockitecture. Technically, my “Babbling Brook” socks were done in August but I fear I may have held off posting them on SAM5 KAL until September to make sure I got a credit that month. September’s score: DH – 6; SAM5KAL – 8 

October: I called these “Tornado Toes” because they started with a Whirlpool cast-on from Cat Bordhi’s book and the pattern is her “Spiraling Coriolis” which affected the colour-changes in the yarn to produce this gorgeous Whirlwind effect. I was thrilled with these socks – they fit DH beautifully too. October’s score: DH – 7; SAM5KAL – 9 

November: On my return from The Irish Knitter’s Weekend Away I discovered that, not only had DH been minding our three kids, he’d decided to do the laundry and had inadvertently tumble-dryed and felted his March socks. I quickly released myself from my commitment to knit him any more socks. My next pair of socks were for me – my long-awaited “Monkey” by Cookie A. I decided to make these toe-up, however, and Cat-Bordhi-ize them. I called them “Simian” because they’re not quite Monkeys – they’re … similar! November’s score: DH – 7; SAM5KAL – 10 

December: I’ve no recollection of knitting any socks in December and certainly I became disillusioned with the Sock-A-Month KAL. December’s score was zero all round.
Overall score for the year: DH got seven pairs of socks; I got one; I frogged 3 and re-knit 1. Overall: Socks completed =10. Socks started? Who knows, I lost count.
Edited to add a poll (really coz I want to figure-out how)
Vote for your Favourite pair all those I knit for DH

Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

There’s nothing like public proclamations to make one accountable. Just this evening, on the Irish Knitters Group on Ravelry, Aileen started a thread where we set out Ten Goals for 2010. I knew I had a few aspirations floating around in my head; but I surprised myself when I reached ten with some to spare. Here’s my “Ten for ’10”:

  1. Finally knit a cardigan for DH that actually fits him (I’m on attempt no. 3 by now – not counting all the frogging)
  2. Design and knit a cardigan for DD with variagated-blue Lamb’s Pride bought in TIK last WWKIP!
  3. Knit jumper for DS1 using Brown cotton bought at Knitting & Stitching show
  4. Review sock yarn I’ve used to date to establish one or two preferred makes so that I can…
  5. … set up template for socks for DH using Cat Bordhi’s Personal Footprints Method
  6. Bust a lot of my stash by using Tunisian Crochet to make a few shawls & scarves as gifts
  7. Knit something lacey
  8. Go to at least one Knitting Meet-up so I get to…
  9. … Meet some more online knitting friends in the flesh
  10. Publish a pattern on my blog / get a pattern published

I also should have listed “learn how to darn”. I’ve put at least four pairs of socks out of circulation until I figure this out. If I don’t do something soon I might as well adopt The Yarn Harlot’s method: Shout “Darn!” and promptly throw them in the bin.

What hasn’t even made it to the list is “making progress on the Fair-Isle Ouroborus Cardigan“. Hmmmm… is that telling, I wonder?

Now, dare I set down in writing a few goals I have for this week?…

  1. I’ve tomorrow off. I’d like to finally sort out my weekly meal planners / grocery shopping list so I can get back into grocery shopping regularly. Recently, we’ve been doing it in an ad hoc manner and I never know what there is in the fridge.
  2. Start writing Christmas Cards
  3. Actually do something from my list of gardening jobs for December
  4. Knit some Christmas Ornaments for a Sale of Work in our office
  5. Post off my Secret Santa Swap parcel (yes, I can see this one getting done anyway!)

So now I’ve said it – publicly and openly. You are all now not only my witnesses – you are my accomplices! It’s up to you to keep me honest.

Oh Karma, where art thou?

 …Woke up this morning and my Karma was gone

Woe! Chirpy-chirpy, cheep-cheep! Chirpy-chirpy, cheep-cheep, chirp!

[All together now: ]

Where’s my Karma gone? Where’s my Karma gone?…

That’s not entirely acurate: it was last night and I’m not feeling too chirpy-chirpy about it.

Here’s a tip: don’t get cutesy with Karma. She doesn’t like it and she’ll bite your ass! I know this. I’ve grown up knowing not to mess with her for fear she’ll set her lap-dog “Murphy’s Law” on me. What was I thinking, getting all smug about my Brownie Points? sigh!

I’m making Cat Bordhi’s Coriolis Socks from New Pathways for Sock Knitters. I noticed I had forgotten one increase a few rows back. I could have fudged it, and probably should have, but I decided to rip back and make good. On the bus into This Is Knit on Friday afternoon I fearlessly ripped and knit-on. At the Grand Opening, as I mentioned in my previous post, I realised I had finished my arch increases and couldn’t proceed until I got home to my book again.

Unfortunately, when I did check the book I realised I’d gone too far, increasing to 118 sts rather than 114 sts needed. At DD’s Swimming lesson on Saturday morning I ripped back and set myself right again – all the while entertaining a curious and intrepid 11 month old.

At some point on Saturday Karma snuck off for a skite behind the bikeshed and took Reason with her. Meanwhile, I convinced myself that I’d mis-remembered what gauge I was meant to be working to and decided that I was only meant to have 108 sts. Dutifully, I ripped once more and knit-on; not stopping until I’d turned the heel. Did I check first to count how many stitches I had around the foot? No-no! That would have been reasonable!

The result? A sock that’s an inch too short for DH’s foot and an inch too wide for mine! 

Thundering Typhoons! 
Thundering Typhoons!

The Murphy’s Law bit? I have two days of travelling into town on the train – I need to get this WiP, and my Knitting Karma, back on track.