Monday, April 30, 2007

A decision ... and some socks

Wow, I didn't expect the plastic vs. metal zipper debate to be so evenly split! People voted for plastic mainly because it blends in the best colorwise. Those who voted for brass cited durability and the fact that it would add a bit of contrast and "flash."

I've decided to go with the plastic. This decision surprises even me, as I've always preferred metal zippers to plastic. In any case, I'll have the brass zipper as a backup. Now I just need to sit down and sew the darn thing in. It's going to be a busy week (complete with a guest from out of town) so I won't even venture an ETA.

A few people commented about how well the zippers match the sweater. Yes, I'm very happy with the match. In the end, I ordered a color card from ZipperStop and compared it to my sweater yarn. It's a good thing too, because the color I ended up ordering was not one I would have chosen based on the photos on the website.

In other news, the Professor has new socks.

Pattern: Garter Rib Socks from Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch
Yarn: Fearless Fibers superwash merino sock yarn in Midnight Blue
Needles: size 0 DPNs

What can I say about this yarn that I haven't already said before? Deb is a color genius. The yarn is as soft and squishy as ever too. Heaven.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Opinions, please

The zippers have arrived, and now I have no excuse for not finishing the Urban Aran. However, I'd like some help in deciding which zipper to use.

Valid arguments can be made for either one. The plastic zipper would be the most invisible, and with this sweater, I think the knitting should be the star. However, the brass zipper helps pick out the yellow fibers in the yarn (difficult to see in these cloudy day indoor photos). Also, the brass zipper would presumably be more durable than the plastic one. (Yes, I'm thinking of Grumperina's semi-recent melting incident.)

I do currently have a preference, but I'd love to have more opinions. Plastic or brass? Discuss.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Back to basics

Not surprisingly, being gainfully employed really cuts into one's knitting time. I'm sure it's just a matter of readjusting. After all, I got plenty of knitting and crocheting done while working previous jobs.

Thanks to everyone who left such lovely comments about my Monkey socks! Y'all know how to make someone's day. I'm still completely enamored with them myself, although with the warm weather we've been having in north Texas, I haven't had a chance to wear them yet.

The Professor is up next in the sock rotation, and he expressed a desire for more socks made from the same "really soft yarn" that these socks are made from. So I pulled out a few skeins from my precious Fearless Fibers stash and let him make his choice.

Fearless Fibers superwash merino sock yarn in Midnight Blue

This yarn is so beautiful that it doesn't need a lot of patterning to make it look great. Anyway, that's my excuse for being so uninspired with my pattern selection. These are the garter rib socks from Sensational Knitted Socks. I've made this pattern before. In fact, I used this pattern for the first socks I ever made. That's right, I'm reliving my First Time.

Knitting this pattern again is making me remember all the joy, frustration, and wonder involved I experienced with my first pair of socks. It's all coming back to me: learning how to wrestle with DPNs (which are still my preferred needles for sock knitting), turning a heel for the first time and finding it a revelation, discovering that I love Kitchener stitch, marveling at all the engineering involved with socks. Good times.

I am still planning a lace project too. It may require the purchase of some new needles, though. More swatching is required.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Imperfections? What imperfections?

My Monkey socks are finished. And you know what? I don't really see the black splotches anymore.

Pattern: Monkey, by Cookie A.
Yarn: J.L. Yarnworks Showcase Yarn in the Desert Mesa colorway
Needles: size 0 (2.00 mm) DPNs
Modifications: None that I can think of. Admittedly, I didn't pay very close attention to the pattern instructions for the heel or the toe.

Wow, I really love this pattern worked in this yarn. This line is called "Showcase Yarn" because the color variations are subtle enough that stitch patterns don't get lost. I hope my last post didn't give the impression that I'm sorry I bought this yarn, because I certainly am not sorry. How could I be when the results are so good?

It seems that there has been nothing but sock content around here recently, and for that, I do apologize. I just can't seem to get socks off my brain. Naturally I signed up for Sockapalooza 4. Can you believe there are 1000 participants? Yowza!

I do have some ideas for non-sock projects rolling around in my head, though. What to do, what to do? Perhaps some lace?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Deviations from the plan

I think it's safe to say that this week has not gone according to plan. A few examples:

(1) I did not start my new job this week. Apparently the paperwork wasn't finished in time. However, I was not informed of the change in my start date last week, so I showed up to the office on Monday. Nobody knew what to do with me. On the bright side, it was an opportunity to do a little traffic reconnaissance. We'll try it again next Monday.

(2) Remember that gaping hole in my bathroom ceiling? It's still there. Let's see, it took two days for the maintenance staff to figure out where the water was coming from. Then it took another week for the manager to get an HVAC company out to fix the problem. The a/c unit finally got fixed today. Now they just need to patch up that ceiling. Any bets on how long that will take?

(3) This sock is not quite living up to my expectations.

It looks fine, right? Really, I shouldn't be complaining. The pattern is perfectly written, and I love the orangey goodness of the yarn. It's a fun knit. There is one small detail, however, that's starting to make my left eye twitch.

Do you see it? OK, so maybe it isn't as obvious in the photo as it is in real life.

How about now? There are black splotches in the yarn! At first I thought the dyer must have added them intentionally, but now I'm thinking otherwise. They just aren't regular enough. I'm about to knit the toe on the first sock, and there hasn't been a black splotch for many, many rounds. The worst concentration of spots is on one side of the heel.

I'm sure I'm overreacting. Honestly, how many people are going to scrutinize these socks closely enough to notice the spots? That's what I'm trying to tell myself, but my obsessive-compulsive personality isn't buying it. Then again, my OCD is not strong enough to make me cut out all the black spots, so really, what am I complaining about?

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Overcoming my resistance to pink

I'll admit it, I've never liked pink much. It's just so girly. Despite the fact that I am female, I don't consider myself to be girly. So why is it that I like these socks so much?

Don't get me wrong, I don't particularly want to wear them. (They do fit me, though.) I just enjoy looking at them. It's probably because the colors are so different from what I usually knit.

Pattern: Conwy, from Knitting on the Road by Nancy Bush
Yarn: Smoky Mountain Fibers superwash sock yarn (75% wool, 25% nylon) in the Rosewood colorway
Needles: size 1 DPNs
Modifications: I didn't do the calf shaping. (My niece is a skinny seven-year-old who has no need for calf shaping...yet.) Also, I changed the round toe to my favorite wedge toe.

By the second sock, I was finding the pattern to be a bit tedious. I'm glad I slogged through it, though, because I love the end result. It helped that the yarn was lovely to knit with—soft and not at all splitty. There were some minor pooling issues, but nothing I found objectionable.

Look how well these socks coordinate with the bottle of wool wash.

Have I mentioned how much I love Soak? The bottle pictured above is a so-called limited edition scent named "a scent for celebration." It's warm and almost fruity (my nose detects peaches). However, my favorite flavor of Soak is actually aquae. I have to resist the urge to dab it behind my ears. Performance-wise, Soak seems to clean as well as Eucalan. About the only negative thing I can say about it is that it's pricey—about 50% more than Eucalan.

Next up, orange socks. It's all about color these days at T4SHQ.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Yes, we have no bananas

...because I turned the bananas into banana bread! Sometimes baking offers much more immediate satisfaction than knitting does.

I was never particularly fond of banana bread until I tried the recipe from King Arthur Flour's Baker's Companion. If you like to bake and don't own this book, do yourself a favor and obtain a copy. This bread (who are we kidding? it's cake) is incredibly moist and flavorful. And easy!

I found a copy of the recipe here, but pay no attention to the comment that it only works well with sour cream. I make mine with buttermilk—powdered buttermilk, at that—and it turns out perfectly every time. Make sure to use "true" cinnamon (as opposed to the cassia cinnamon generally available in American supermarkets) so that the cinnamon flavor doesn't dominate. For me, banana bread should be more about nutmeg than cinnamon.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

A disaster, a new hope, and some knitting

The disaster relates to my downstairs bathroom ceiling. This is its current state.

Take cover!

At times like this I'm glad I'm still a renter. Apparently there's a condensation leak from the air conditioner (don't ask why we're already running the a/c). The ceiling went from normal looking to this in under 24 hours. There's already been one attempt to fix the leak. Today will be Attempt #2. The maintenance man has yet to show up, though.

The new hope is that, well, I've landed a job. Assuming all the paperwork gets done by Friday, I'll be starting on Monday. Having been unemployed for more than six months—by far the longest stretch of unemployment in my adult life—I am relieved. I think this job will be a good fit for me. Ignoring the fact that it has nothing to do with yarn, I don't think I could ask for more from this situation. While I will miss my "freedom" to a certain extent, I'm happy that I will be contributing financially to the household once again. (That's code for "I will be able to buy more yarn.") Besides, there's a lot to be said for having a reason to get out of the house every day.

That's about all I'm going to say about the job. I do not wish to get dooced.

Also, I'd like to apologize in advance for any interruptions in blogging that may result from the aforementioned job.

On with the knitting. I had some difficulty choosing a pattern for my niece's socks. Since she's got skinny little girl legs, I thought some kind of ribbing would be in order. So I started on the Madder Ribbed Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks. The pattern seemed too plain for my niece, so I ripped it out. Finally I settled upon this.

Attempting to channel Nancy Bush.

It's Conwy from Knitting on the Road. This pattern has the required ribbing, but it also has the added interest of some texture. So far I like it, but that's no guarantee I won't change my mind again. Luckily this yarn holds up to frogging like a champ.