Tuesday, January 30, 2007


Update: This

...has become this.

Oy. Negative progress is so disheartening. Still, I would rather rip it out at this point. Unraveling the completed back might have driven me to drink.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A problem, or an overactive imagination?

I made reasonable progress on the Urban Aran yesterday. It's looking quite nice so far.

But then I looked closer and realized it looked a bit small. No, I told myself, my gauge is perfect (I swatched, after all!). It's just looking small because it's basically 2 x 2 rib. Everything will be fine after blocking. My swatch relaxed a bit after washing, and so will this.

Not satisfied with my own reasoning, I pinned it out to the correct finished width.

All right, so it isn't that bad. It is a bit more stretched than I would like, but then, it hasn't been washed yet. Am I crazy for still considering ripping it out and knitting the next size up? If only I were a more experienced sweater knitter!

(Aside: I am totally digging how the wide cabled bands on the sides provide a sort of waist shaping without actually doing decreases and increases.)

The Professor listened very sympathetically to my plight. He normally shakes his head in disbelief whenever I start ripping out my work, so I expected him to tell me to carry on with the current size. Instead, he told me very authoritatively, "There is only one solution to this problem."

I held my breath and waited for his words of wisdom.

"Start on my second sock."

Was his advice sage or selfish? Anyway, it turned out to be a pretty good plan. It stopped me from obsessing about the sweater so I could enjoy watching Jane Eyre on Masterpiece Theatre.

I am back to ruminating over the sweater today, though.

Friday, January 26, 2007

It's all in the perspective

I don't have much progress to report on the Gentleman's Fancy Sock. Since my last post, I've only turned the heel and completed the gusset.

sock = 10 stitches per inch

The photo doesn't accurately represent how drop-dead gorgeous this
yarn is. Trust me, it's positively luminous. It's too bad these socks aren't for me.

Lest you think I've been a complete knitting slacker, I'll show you what else I've been working on. Yesterday I finally cast on the back of my new sweater.

sweater = 3.75 stitches per inch

Yes, it's the Urban Aran from Patons' "
Street Smart" leaflet. (Here's where I bought my copy.) Ever since I saw Jared's stunning rendition, I've been longing to knit this sweater. Like Jared (and several others), I'll be making this into a zippered cardigan. Since it's knit in chunky yarn, I'll likely treat it more like a jacket than an indoor sweater. I live in Texas, after all.

It's been quite a while since I had two knitting projects going at once, and switching between them has been, well, interesting. When I switch from the sweater to the sock, it feels like I'm using long pins to knit sewing thread. Then when I switch back to the sweater, I feel as if I'm knitting thick rope with a couple of broomsticks.

The contrast reinforces how much I prefer knitting with finer yarns. I'm certainly enjoying knitting the Urban Aran so far, but working with the big yarn and needles makes me feel a bit awkward. All my movements seem exaggerated. On the upside, I can make a lot of progress in a short amount of time.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

A little of this, a little of that

I swatched for my sweater, and like a good girl, I washed and blocked the swatch before checking my final gauge. It's a good thing too, because before washing my gauge was spot-on with 6.50 mm needles. After washing and blocking, my gauge was perfect with 6.00 mm needles. Let this be a lesson to me.

This is Elann's Peruvian Highland Chunky in Spiced Wine. The color is a bit unusual. It has blue and yellow fibers running through it, so in some lights it looks warm and rusty, and in other lights it looks cooler and almost pinkish. The cloudy day photo above shows the latter situation. In any case, I like it. I'll make y'all wait a day or two before I disclose what pattern I'm making. There's a good chance you can figure it out based upon my yarn choice.

Moving on... Because my last socks were slightly disappointing, I decided to go for a sure thing with my next pair.

It's the Gentleman's Fancy Socks from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. The yarn is my beloved Fearless Fibers superwash merino sock in the Deepest Forest colorway. Yes, I'm knitting these socks in a colorway very similar to the one pictured in the book. It was totally unplanned; I chose the yarn before the pattern.

In other news, the Professor and I finally booked plane tickets for our (very) belated honeymoon. New Zealand, here we come! You know what they have in New Zealand, don't you?

There's breathtaking scenery, to be sure. The Professor thinks this is the only reason we're going. Little does he know he's also in for a lot of this.

Well, I suppose he knows now.

Monday, January 22, 2007

The deep end of the pool

I have been remiss in not thanking everyone who left such nice comments about the Pomatomus and Aran Braid socks. Y'all made my day!

About the Aran Braid socks, Jodi asked what yarn I would use if I were to knit them again. I think cabled patterns generally look best in a solid or almost solid color yarn. The big tweedy bits in the yarn I used for mine obscured the cable pattern more than I would have liked. Some variegated yarns could work well too, a statement I never would have made before seeing these socks.

The Gendarme socks were a bit of an adventure, especially considering they're just plain stockinette. Things started out well enough.

Lovely, no? Then the pooling started. (Or is it flashing? Puddling? I can never remember.)

I actually ripped back the first sock when this happened, thinking I could beat the yarn into submission. Unfortunately, this is what the yarn wanted to do when knit up to fit my foot, no matter what needle size or stitch count I used. (If my feet were a little larger, things might have worked out better.) At that point I realized that I really didn't want to start cutting yarn every time the color pattern did odd things. That would probably be a lot of cutting. Since I don't believe in forcing people to be something they're not, I figured I should adopt the same attitude with yarn. So I let the yarn do its thing (knowing that not doing so can end in heartache).

I feel like I've grown as a human being. The overall effect is not displeasing, although one sock is noticeably darker than the other. I even used short row heels in an attempt to disturb the striping as little as possible. As a confirmed heel flap devotee, this was a big step. I have done short row heels before, but I've never been particularly happy with them. Mine look a little messy, but that simply may be due to lack of practice. I've been using the wrap method (as described by Wendy), so I might need to try doing yarnover or Japanese short rows to see if my results are any better.

Hey, look what the nice UPS man brought me on Friday.

A new blocking board! (Love those 50% off coupons.) My dad gave me some money for my birthday, and every time I talk to him, he asks me what I've bought with it. Strange guy that he is, he gets upset when I tell him I haven't bought anything with it yet. He must be the only dad on the planet who doesn't want his children to save their money. He'll be happy now, and I even have photographic evidence of my purchase.

And what's this? Enough yarn for a sweater? Interesting.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

10 Reasons Knitting Is Better Than Crochet

  1. The process of knitting looks more complicated than the process of crocheting. Muggles are impressed by a knitter's ability to manipulate two (or four, or five) needles at the same time.
  2. There are a lot more fashionable knitting patterns than fashionable crochet patterns. A lot more.
  3. Knitting produces an incredible stretchy fabric with fabulous drape.
  4. Knitting needles can be stylish hair accessories. Crochet hooks? Not so much.
  5. When it comes down to it, there are only two knit stitches: knit and purl. Crochet has a gazillion different stitches to learn.
  6. Knitting is the best method for making sweaters. Really, how many crocheted sweaters do you own?
  7. Many yarn store owners/employees will treat knitters better than crocheters. It's true.
  8. In knitting, it's possible to fix an error made several rows down without unraveling every stitch made since the error. Crocheters must rip all the way back, or else learn to live with the mistake.
  9. How many knitting patterns are there for ruffly toilet paper covers? None? Case closed.
  10. Knitting generally uses a bit less yarn than crocheting, so it's easy to justify buying that cashmere.

10 Reasons Crochet Is Better Than Knitting

  1. One hook is easier to keep track of than two (or five) needles.
  2. Speed. It's possible to crochet a small afghan in an evening.
  3. Accidentally pulling the hook out of crochet work will not cause hyperventilation.
  4. There's no need to be precise about "casting on" the correct number of stitches. Crocheted foundation chains can be easily unraveled if they're too long.
  5. It's easier to crochet lace than to knit it. Just ask the Irish.
  6. Crocheters generally don't need different lengths of crochet hooks in any given size. Fewer hooks to buy means there's more money to spend on yarn.
  7. Crocheters are unlikely to injure themselves with their hooks. Those pointy knitting needles, on the other hand, are responsible for countless puncture wounds.
  8. Crocheted fabric is easier to frog than knitted fabric.
  9. Crochet hooks can be used to fix errors made in knitting, but crocheters don't need any stinkin' knitting needles to fix their work.
  10. Crochet generally uses a bit more yarn than knitting, so crocheters have a good excuse for, well, buying more yarn.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Is there more to life than socks?

Presenting the Professor's Hobbit feet in their modeling debut. He struck this pose without any direction from me.

Pattern: Aran Braid Socks
Yarn: Knit Picks Essential Tweed in Flint

Modifications: I knit the socks over 72 stitches. On the leg, I crossed the cables every third row instead of every other row. (Why yes, I am lazy.) Consequently, I crossed the instep cables every sixth row instead of every fourth. Also, I did a standard slip stitch heel flap instead of an eye of partridge flap. While eye of partridge is my favorite heel flap, to my eye it looks a bit feminine. These are man socks, after all.

Knit Picks Essential is certainly nicer than it used to be. It's softer and smoother, anyway. I'm not sure I'm crazy about this tweed, though. It's unsubtle, unrefined. My hope is that the socks will look better after a few washes.

After these gloomy gray socks (and with the gloomy gray weather), I want my next socks to be more colorful.

Lisa Souza Sock! in Gendarme

This is such a high contrast colorway that I think plain stockinette socks are in order. I'm a bit worried about pooling, so it will be interesting to see how this yarn knits up.

As much as I love knitting socks, I am feeling the need for a non-sock project. Right now I'm waffling between a sweater and a lace stole, with the sweater having a slight edge. After all, one of the main reasons I learned to knit was so I could knit my own sweaters, and I haven't made one yet. (This doesn't really count. Neither does this.) It's my one year knitiversary, and still no sweaters! Pathetic.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I've got nothing

Well, not nothing, just no exciting knitting progress. I do have a sock on the needles, but it isn't thrilling me. Don't get me wrong, it's a fine sock. It's just that I've been modifying the pattern on the fly, resulting in more frogging than necessary. Planning? Who needs planning?

Since I have nothing exciting to report, how about some pretty yarn? (Total cop-out, I know.) Here's some sock yarn I bought from Savvyminx a while back.

75% superwash merino, 25% nylon
colorway: Avalon

This is one of the most unique colorways I've seen. It's chocolate brown with blues, greens, and lavenders. I haven't quite decided what to do with it yet, other than pet it, of course.

Next up is a skein I just got from Cherry Blossom Fibers.

100% superwash merino
colorway: Central Park

I'm a sucker for autumn colors, and this yarn positively screamed "Buy me!" when I saw it. No immediate plans for this one, either, but I'm open to suggestions.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


I'm in love. Besotted. Twitterpated. Captivated. Utterly enamored.

My Pomatomus socks are finished, and they are the loveliest things ever to come off my needles. I'm afraid they may have ruined me for all other socks.

Fearless Fibers sock yarn was a great choice for this pattern. The random color variations mean there's no striping or pooling to detract from the stitch pattern. I had originally intended to knit Pomatomus in a solid color yarn, but I'm glad I changed my mind.

This yarn has fantastic yardage. Look how much I had left over.

50 grams! That's roughly 240 yards by my calculations. I'm pretty sure I can get a pair of footie socks for myself out of this. Many thanks to Deb for putting out such a fine product. (We won't speak of how many skeins of her yarn I've stockpiled already.)

Friday, January 05, 2007

Unraveling the truth

I've always wondered about the great divide between knitters and crocheters. Crocheters accuse knitters of being snobbish, and knitters claim crocheters are cheap. Really though, aren't we all on the same side? Don't we all love yarn?

One anti-crochet statistic I've seen thrown around quite a bit is that crocheting consumes three times as much yarn as knitting. Three times! I've even seen this claim made in print. (I'm referring to you, Yarn Harlot...with the utmost admiration and respect, of course. See page 118 of this fine book.) The implication—whether intentional or not—is twofold: (1) Crocheters waste yarn; and (2) Because of excessive yarn usage, crocheters can only afford to use cheap yarns.

Here's the thing: I don't believe it for a second. As a long-time crocheter and newbie knitter, I believe with every fiber of my being that crocheting does not use three times as much yarn as knitting. Yes, I'm willing to concede that, in general, crocheting does use more yarn than knitting. My guess would be on the order of one-third more, but certainly not three times more. I believe it, but I don't know it. Here at T4S HQ, we like to keep things scientific, so I'd say it's time for a little experiment.

Knitting and crocheting are two methods of forming fabric by interlocking loops of yarn. Knitting forms the loops using two straight needles, and crocheting forms the loops using a single hook. Crocheted fabric tends to be thicker and sturdier than knitted fabric, leading to the assumption that it contains more yarn than the same area of knitted fabric. The purpose of this experiment is to compare the amounts of yarn used in different knitted and crocheted fabrics.

Materials and Methods
Five 10 cm square swatches were constructed from acrylic worsted weight yarn. (The research team determined it was not necessary to sacrifice wool yarn for the sake of this experiment. However, several cries of "It burns! It burns us!" were overheard during swatch construction.) Each swatch was constructed using the methods as follows:

  1. single crochet
  2. double crochet
  3. knitted stockinette stitch
  4. knitted garter stitch
  5. plain tunisian crochet

6.00 mm metal crochet hooks and 6.00 mm metal knitting needles were used to construct the samples.

Finished samples had the beginning and ending yarn ends cut to a length of 2 cm. Each sample was weighed on a digital kitchen scale. Because the kitchen scale is accurate only to whole grams, the research team determined that the length of the yarn used also needed to be measured. The samples were then unraveled, and the length of the yarn was wound around a rectangle of cardboard and measured using a tape measure.

(The research team apologizes for the list format. Blogger would not properly render the research team's perfectly well-formed HTML table.)
  1. single crochet: 7 grams, 12.33 meters
  2. double crochet: 6 grams, 10.92 meters
  3. knitted stockinette: 4 grams, 9.10 meters
  4. knitted garter: 7 grams, 12.32 meters
  5. tunisian crochet: 7 grams, 13.10 meters

Knitted stockinette stitch clearly used the least amount of yarn out of all the samples tested. Interestingly, tunisian crochet, that strange love child of crochet and knitting, uses the most yarn. Single crochet and knitted garter stitch use roughly the same amount of yarn. Double crochet uses more yarn than knitted stockinette stitch, but less than either single crochet or knitted garter stitch.

In any case, no method of crochet tested in this sampling uses three times as much yarn as either knitted sample. Single crochet uses slightly more than one-third more yarn than knitted stockinette stitch. It should be noted that the research team found that the crocheted samples had a more pleasing feel when crocheted using 6.50 mm hooks. The single crochet swatch constructed using a 6.50 mm hook had exactly one-third more yarn in it than the knitted stockinette swatch made with 6.00 mm needles.

Disclaimer: All results are subject to human error. The research team crochets a bit more tightly than it knits.

Do you think Mythbusters will hire me now?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

And the winner is...

Krafty Kitten! (Winner selected by generating a random number via random.org.) Thanks to all who entered the contest. Krafty K., I couldn't find an email address for you, so please email me and let me know where I can send your prize.

I just realized I never posted a pic of the finished Trekking socks. So here they are.

These are great socks. The Professor has already worn them a couple of times. (He even wore them on the plane to Denver so that his feet would be warm in case we crashed in the mountains. I can do without comments like that.) Luckily I have another ball of this yarn (color 66) in the stash, because I want a pair of these for myself.

Yes, my current sock-in-progress is indeed the wildly popular Pomatomus. I absolutely had to make them after seeing all the great examples y'all have been churning out. (Have you seen Minty's mirror image ones? You must.)

Bad photos today. It's cloudy.

I'm in love with both the yarn (Fearless Fibers superwash merino sock) and the pattern. The stitch pattern is not as complex as it appears, yet it's enough to hold my interest. I'll definitely be making more Pomatomi (Pomatomuses?). When I tried the finished sock on the other night, the Professor proclaimed it a "very cool sock" and asked, "Can guys wear socks like that?"

Holiday recap: All my knitted Christmas gifts seem to have been very well received. The socks seemed to go over especially well. The best reaction I got, though, was for the simplest item I gifted this year. The Professor's younger brother was the recipient, and when he opened the package, he said, "These are all my favorite colors!" The next day he pulled me aside and told me how he'd been wanting someone to knit him a scarf for years, and that his new scarf was already one of his "favorite things." Does it get any better than that? I'm telling you, the man wore that scarf indoors and out. For days! It really warmed my heart.

How did people react to your handmade holiday gifts?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Legalese for knitters

Maybe it's because I used to work with a bunch of lawyers, but I think this is utterly hilarious.


I'm not one for making New Year's resolutions, but I do like to reflect upon the previous year. 2006 was full of changes. Exactly one year ago, I did not yet know how to knit. Now I'm knitting up a storm. At this time last year, I was crocheting an enormous red afghan. Right now I'm knitting little red socks, so there is a small measure of continuity.

In the past year, the Professor became the Professor; before that, he was the Postdoc. We moved from a blue state to a red state (oh dear), and as a result, I had to leave a great job. On the bright side, I won't be shoveling any snow this winter.

Sadly, I have shamefully little knitting progress to report. I got a nice big stack of books for Christmas, and they have lured me away from my knitting, at least temporarily. Since my last major post, I've completed only one sock, but it is a beauty. Here's a teaser.

The contest is still open until midnight tonight. So far there are six entries (many thanks, commenters!), which means the chances of winning are actually quite good.