Are you panicking yet?

Wisp scarf, knit using Debbie Bliss’ Angel yarn

Now that the turkey has been consumed – along with the green beans and sweet potatoes and stuffing, not to mention the pumpkin pies – we have started the stress filled countdown to Christmas. 27 days…less than four weeks…are you feeling dizzy yet?

I’ve been working on my Christmas knitting since the middle of summer, and I’d be done if I weren’t so easily distracted. But since I appear to have the attention span of a gnat on crack (thanks to my lovely husband for that phrase), I have completed quite an impressive number of projects, but only two Christmas gifts.

It was with this serious deficiency in mind, then, that I found a couple of really great projects that I’d like to call to your attention if, like me, you find yourself with an ever dwindling amount of time and a list of finished objects that refuses to grow regardless of your efforts.

First up is “Wisp”, a very pretty scarf knit with silk/mohair yarn whose beauty belies the complexity of the pattern. A shortish scarf can be made with a single skein of yarn; two skeins will result in a luxuriously long, fluffy strip of mmmmm! I’ve used Debbie Bliss’ “Angel” yarn, and the 15 row pattern is so easy to remember (you really only need to keep track of your rows) that I was able to knit up the first skein in less than a week whilst working on a bunch of other stuff at the same time (in other words, I knit for about an hour at a whack once or twice a day over the course of a week). In addition to being really quite pretty, people will think it took immense amounts of skill and focus to create when, in truth, 99% of the greatness of this scarf is due to the yarn.

Alberta Clipper Boot Socks (Ravelry link), knit on size 4 needles using Cascade 220 yarn

Next are the “Alberta Clipper Boot Socks”. Knit in worsted weight yarn on size 4 needles, I was able to finish the first sock in less than a day, and the second one is nearly finished as well.

I used Cascade 220, and the results are incredible. They’re thick and squishy, and look soooo very warm. As soon as I’m done with the Christmas knitting, I’m going to make myself a pair. And maybe a pair for each of my kids. And Alex (yes, they’re quick enough that I’d be willing to knit a man-sized pair). Spike (our chihuahua) might even get some.

I have some more quick ideas, but I’ll have to tell you about them tomorrow.

The Mittens Won, Hands Down

I really do love my twined sock but I think I might have been knitting it a bit too tight, because when I switched projects – to the second of my aunt’s mittens, by the way – my hands felt almost noodle-y. The baby alpaca yarn that I’m using is so much softer than the Mora wool (which is what the sock is knit from), and even though I’m using smaller needles – size 0 instead of size 3 – the stitches are nice and relaxed.

The second sock will get finished. Soon. I promise. But not for another two snowflakes. Oh yeah, and two thumbs. I have to remember to knit the thumbs.

Finally Recovered

This is the first time in a week I don’t feel exhausted. I’m tempted to blame my incessant sleepiness on all the walking we did in Portland, and the fact that I went to bed late and woke up early each day. But it could also be because, since we returned home I’ve been knitting on these

and all those tight little stitches are kind of hypnotic.

This sock – from Nancy Bush’s class on Two Ended Knitting – will be heading to Wisconsin as soon as its mate is completed to grace the tootsies of my nephew, Devon. The heel isn’t tall enough to accommodate my large feet. But the next ones will be mine. I’ll just have to make some adjustments first. Like casting on a few more stitches and decreasing the heel more gradually.

This style of knitting is great, although hard for me because the yarn is held in the right hand. I was painfully slow during class last Saturday, and still am not very good at it. But I have gotten a bit quicker, and somehow my fingers figured out, seemingly on their own, how best to hold and throw the yarn so my stitches are (mostly) even and firm.

Now that I’ve finished the first of these socks, I have a tough decision to make: immediately start on the second one, or return to one of my many “resting” projects, which were put on hold in order to have socks to wear for Sock Summit. Or, dare I even suggest it, casting on something totally different, just for fun?

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Post Sock Summit Post

There are times when I read a blog and the person says, “I was so exhausted after ____, I couldn’t even write.” My reaction to this has usually been, “What a wuss! What a copout! LAME!” How can you not have the time or energy to type out a post after – hell, even during! – an exciting event?

Well, now I know.

Sock Summit was a whirlwind of knitting and learning, and meeting new knitters and old knitters. I didn’t do 90% of the things I wanted to do (watch the Fastest Sock Knitter contest, get my picture taken with a bunch of famous knitters, take photos for my Sock Summit Alphabet project, go to the book signings) but I did attend four great classes, and I learned a new skill (twined or two ended knitting), and I knit on cables without a pattern (which was surprisingly intimidating at first, then rather refreshing).

I stood in line for the Marketplace with knitters from Oregon, Alaska, Washington DC, and Arkansas. We compared projects, techniques, and the classes we’d taken and were going to take over then next few days. I met a woman from Ohio who’d travelled all the way to Portland with her daughter – an agoraphobic – so she (the daughter) could attend the convention and try to get some hard to find yarn (I’m guessing GothSock). I hope she made it to her classes, and that she got some loot from the marketplace, even though the GothSock yarn booth was CRAZY!

I was impressed by how nice everyone was. Everyone, that is, except for the grouchy woman in the Sanguine Gryphon line who wouldn’t move to let me through. She was, happily, the exception, and significantly less lovely than the yarn she was buying.

Anyway, here is my experience at Sock Summit, in pictures…

The sign outside the OCC

A Dragon Boat floats overhead

Franklin Habit, sporting a Utilikilt

Playing with different lighting techniques after Franklin’s class

Aunt Letty’s mitten takes a turn in the light tent

Standing in line, waiting for the marketplace to open

People waiting to purchase Signature needles (I already had mine, so I just giggled as I passed)

The Opening Night reception (Tina and Stephanie are the two little heads WAY up in front, behind the podium)

Yarns for the Twined (or Two Ended) knitting class, taught by Nancy Bush Herself (she is pure charm)

After six hours of alternately knitting and swearing, here is my sock

All the knitters, preparing either to watch or participate in the Flash Mob
(click picture to see YouTube video)

I’m already wondering what SS13 will look like…

Portland, here we come!

I’ve been waiting for this day since the beginning of May – nearly four months. You’d think I’d be better prepared, wouldn’t you?

The reality is that I’ve been so very busy that I’ve hardly thought about our trip, except for some brief bursts of excitement and plotting to have three pair of socks made for myself to take along. Work has been crazy, with urgent projects being pushed aside in favor of more urgent projects, and deadlines that made that horrible “whoosh!” sound as they zipped past.

Our flight leaves this afternoon at 6:55. I’ve checked it five times because, as my mom (and many others) can attest, I’m the world’s worst and most forgetful traveller. Book me on a flight, and there’s a 90% chance I’ll miss it. I missed my very first flight ever, coming home by myself from Washington, DC, when I was 16 because I grossly underestimated the availability of change for a $20 on a Sunday morning so I could take the subway to the airport.

I once spent 8 hours in the airport in Honolulu, HI, because I misread my ticket and missed my flight by two hours.

I was the reason my entire family missed a flight from Chicago to San Diego by an entire day (again, I misread the itinerary).

Our most recent adventure involved an early morning flight that was missed because we overslept.

Which is why it’s been several years since we’ve been anywhere involving airplanes.

Which is why our flight is for this evening.

But I like Portland so much that, on the way back, we’re booked on a morning flight. I wouldn’t mind missing it…

I still have some packing to do (and my third pair of socks to finish), so I’ll check in later. Bye!

Mine, all mine (for now, anyway)

Ok, so I got distracted from knitting the second pair of sock summit socks after the first one was done

In Season by Melissa Morgan-Oakes, from the 2009 RSC

because I finally finished spinning all the yarn I need for the mittens I’m making. First to be knit is the pink (which you’ve seen before) and white (which totally hurt to spin after using the lovely stuff I’d dyed – soooo boring! and which you’ve not seen because it was too dull to photograph).

Oh yeah, I made that…

I’m not using a pattern for these so much as I’m referring to several for guidance and inspiration, and using Alice Starmore’s “Book of Fair Isle Knitting” for the colorwork patterns.

By the way, the several I’m using for reference include:

  • “Bird in Hand” by Kate Gilbert – to figure out about how deep the turned cuff should be (btw, on size 0 needles, I knit 6 rows before and after the turning row)
  • Latvian Mittens” by Lizbeth Upitis – to estimate how many stitches to cast on using size 0 needles (I used 72 )
  • “Andalus Mittens” by Heather Desserud, plus the two above, to figure out roughly how many stitches wide to make the thumb gusset (I tried the mitten on at 17, but it seemed a little tight. I’m going to go up to 19 to accommodate the padding caused by the floats)
Here they are so far.
I’ve been winging it a bit with these, picking out the stitch patterns as I need them. I really like the pattern on the back of the hand, although it’s hard to see in these photos because I’m only halfway through the first repeat and the fabric is curling onto itself. The thumb gusset and thumb itself are being designed on the fly as well…for every stitch/row I add, I put a couple more dots on my paper.
These are, in my opinion, the coolest mittens ever, because I dyed the wool (er, baby alpaca), I spun the wool, and I knit the wool. Plus, I’ve been doing TONS of math to try to make these work out; not good or correct math, but I’m trying (yesterday I tried to fit a four stitch pattern into 70 stitches evenly not once, not twice, but three times. In case you think you should give this a go, don’t bother – it doesn’t work).
I also finally finished spinning the yarn for the second pair of mittens (fingerless mitts, actually). This was exciting because I needed brown yarn, and wasn’t having any luck creating brown. After several tries, however, I got this:
Yeah, I made these too.

Sock Summit Socks

I finished my socks for Sock Summit this afternoon.

HoarWars 2010 (Ravelry Link), knit in Madeline Tosh  Sock (color, Ivy) – the yellow/green, and Araucania Sock – the blue

This pattern is knit from the toe up, and I did mine two-at-a-time, in order to ensure I didn’t lose interest before I’d finished. The pattern suggested using a Russian bind off so the cuff would be sufficiently stretchy. However, mine still ended up being a little stiff, so I may undo the bind off and do it again, the same way, but using larger needles.

I’m very pleased with how these turned out, and I can’t wait to wear them in Portland!!