Pink Monkey Knits

Using my opposable thumbs to knit up a storm!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Security Culture 

more stocking

On Friday, I was able to take the day off from work. I went downtown to get a haircut and decided to take advantage of my time by hanging out at one of the Smithsonian. I had transferred my stocking to my new circular needles they day before and had the project in my bag so I could work on them on the Metro. My salon's new location is directly across the street from the freshly reopened National Portrait Gallery, and having never visited that museum before, I thought I would go there.
When I entered the building, I opened my bag and presented it to the security guards. I'm pretty used to this drill by now; the guards rifle a bit through your bag with a stick before they let you in. The guard is looking, and suddenly stops and says, "Is that a needles?"
"Yes, it's a knitting needle," I say.
"You can't bring that in here."
"You've got to be kidding me, right?" I ask, incredulously.
"No, that's like a weapon. You can't bring it in. You can come in here if you dispose of it."
I was horrified at this suggestion, and their callous attitude towards my hard work on this project. "There's no way I'm throwing away my knitting project," I said, probably with an increasingly shrill tone.
A second guard chimed in. "I'm not saying you need to throw it away, I'm just saying you need to dispose of it." He seemed to be trying to imply that there was some easy solution, like I could just stow my project somewhere.
I was so tempted to go on a tirade about how even though those particular needles were pretty cheap, generally they can cost upwards of $12, how the TSA has explicitly stated that knitting needles are allowed onto airplanes, and the friggin' irony of not being allowed to bring a CRAFT TOOL into an ART MUSEUM.
Instead, I turned around and left in disgust.
The National Gallery took me in with no complaint, and I highly enjoyed seeing the Rousseau exhibit, so take that Portrait Gallery!

Oh well, at least I finished my Alpaca Socks.

Alpaca Socks

Blue Sky Alpacas Sportweight, originally a natural color
Dyed with Grape and Cherry Kool-Aid
Size 2 needles
Worked in Picque Rib stitch from Barbara Abbey's The Complete Book of Knitting (see the stitch described in this entry)

I felt pretty apathetic about these socks towards the end, but let me tell you that there was one heck of a payoff for completing them when I put them on. Wow, that alpaca on your feet is the sock equivalent of a luscious chocolate mousse. I keep slipping them and waiting until I'm totally over heated to take them off. It's worth it though. I can't wait to bring these out on the first chilly autumn day.
Now, why did I start feeling so blah towards these socks in the first place? I think it's because of the heel I chose. I decided to do my first afterthought heel on these socks and I must admit, it is a clever technique. However, I don't think I'll use it again. First off, you don't get that excitement from turning the heel, the feeling that you're moving on to the next stage. I also didn't like it because it's so, well, simple. I like how heel flaps have many different steps and produce a little pouch that just perfectly engineered to fit that complicated geography to the foot. Turning the heel is actually probably my favorite step in sock knitting. I will not go without it again.

Things will probably be pretty quiet around this blog for the next week or so as Cobra and I are going on Vacation!! We are thrilled to be spending a week in Seattle and Portland. After we fly home, we're going to drive up to Pittsburgh to hang with my dad as he has his final surgery commemorating the true end of his treatments. Huzzah!

While I'm away, I'll have some colorful knits to work on.

colorful knits

On the left is a Boobholder I'm working on with 3 skeins of Noro Kureyon (and which I'm really unsure if I have enough yarn to finish and I'm totally tempted to rip out, start some squares for Lizard Ridge and wait until I receive a windfall of cash to buy more Noro to finish the blanket). I also started a charity scarf for Food and Friends made from some Lana Gatto Andalusia I got at the SnB yarn swap. Hopefully, it will be ready to warm someone by the time I get home to DC.

Enjoy those last few days of summer, folks!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Continuing Story of One Woman's Continuing Love Affair with a Color Combination 

Sometimes, a pattern will jump out at you, sucker punch you in the belly until you gasp for air, and shake you until you gather the materials to make it now, Now, NOW!!! Yes, sometimes love comes the hard, yet undeniably immediate way. Such was the case when I saw these arch-shaped socks in the Vogue Knitting Fall Preview. Head over heels, no pun intended.

While I liked the contrast in the pictured socks, hunter green and white are not colors that really appeal to me. I remembered I had some stashed Dale Tiur in fuschia in my stash, and right away I knew that I had to return to my hardcore color roots. Nothing would suit these stockings, for me, more than the pink and the black.

So last weekend, the lovely Lolly and I convened in her neck of the woods. She took the great pictures of me in my Carla, accompanied me to a delish veggie Indian buffet, and topped it off with a trip to All About Yarn (I might have had a hand in her recent yarn purchase). Back at Lauren's place, we chatted about some of our exciting plans and ideas and watched some good TV; while talking and watching I made a horribly tight, awful looking swatch. Despite it, I cast on with the best of hopes:

stocking start

The key to my success with these thus far has been finding a yarn hold that works for me. I am a continental knitter through and through, even though I'm right-handed. I attempted to throw and there was just no way it was going to happen for me. In looking through my knitting reference books, I mostly found information, some very insistent, on the necessity of doing two-color knitting with two hands. That is, until I consulted the Big Book of Knitting; Katharina Buss, the author, provided me with an Annie-Modesittt-like moment of knitting validation when she showed that it was possible to do stranded knitting with the left hand and provided a handy diagram. Here's the hold, for all you other continentalists out there:

stranded yarn hold

The black yarn is held normally, wrapped around my pointer finger from front to back, and grasped by the remaining fingers. The fuschia, which is my dominant yarn, is held oppositely; it is wrapped around my finger from back to front. The yarns form a little x in the back.

You'll notice that the sock is on DPNs in this photo. Returning readers may note that I dismissed my double points long ago, and the same is true with these. They started annoying the crap out of me, as if the Fair Isling wasn't challenging enough, so my beloved stocking has been put into time out until my new circulars arrive. Yes, I caved to the Knit Picks evil empire. They're cheap and I blew all my cash on Tiur.

A note to anyone else attempting this pattern: First of all, there are a few major errors in the pattern in the magazine, so replace your magazine version with this one. Secondly, be sure to measure your calves and compare the finished measurements with those of the pattern, as the finished dimensions are made to fit anorexic giants. I had to add about three inches to the circumference and shorten the portion before the shaping about an inch and a half. The pattern is easy to modify, so no excuses!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Baby, You Can Drive my Carla 

carla

Despite the pinched expression on my face in this picture, I'm pleased to present a finished Carla!

Carla from the Rowan It's a Tape Thing booklet
Rowan Cotton Tape, Chocolate Brown
Size 11 and 13 Needles

I didn't knit this as quickly as some people, but I was pleased to find this was a fairly quick and satisfying project. Of course, the large needle size and open work pattern helped to make this project grow at a good pace. The pattern was fairly easy, with simple raglan shaping. I did make a few mistakes in the lace pattern, one of which was major enough that I needed to rip back most of the raglan section and restart it, but nothing too traumatic. I shortened the sleeves to a 3/4 length because I didn't have the full amount of yarn required. This worked perfectly; I only have about 20 yards left!

The most challenging aspect of this pattern was the finishing. The seams show through the lace, so need to be fairly neat. I also had trouble figuring out how to do the weaving effect on the sleeves. Being more of a visual learner, the written instructions made no sense to me. After carefully studying this photo, I was able to figure out how to execute this fairly simple modified weaving technique.

I thought this sweater would be appropriate for summer wear, but the cotton does give it a certain amount of weight that would make it more appropriate for fall or spring. The yarn itself is relatively delicate and snaggable, for fortunately the structure of the lace patterning, though delicate-looking, actually gives it some strength.

Carla was my Project Spectrum August project and she will be a great neutral addition to my wardrobe (although I'll have to figure out how to incorporate this brown in with all of my black clothes). For the clean-up month of September, I only have my purple alpaca socks to finish. That is, unless temptation pulls me away....

carla2