Sunday, April 27, 2008

what I want to do vs. what I need to do, and The Sock Yarn Mania

I've been crocheting exclusively the past few days trying to make things for the Needle Nook's Customer Spotlight sale, which is May 3. That is, this coming Saturday. And I am so not ready. And I am so wondering why I thought this was a good idea. Both StringTheory2.0 and the Mad Husband have informed me that they knew this would happen. I procrastinated, as I tend to do with everything, but I still think I would have come out okay (if you're going to make a habit of procrastinating, you had better be good at it) if I hadn't fallen victim to The Sock Yarn Mania.

And when I speak of The Sock Yarn Mania, I'm not just referring to my own. If it were just my own, it wouldn't have nearly so many capital letters. It seems to be the season of the sock; I hear rumblings about Red Heart and Lion Brand introducing new sock yarns, Malabrigo sock yarn is already on its way, and my friends are constantly telling me about some new sock yarn, frequently indie, that I have to check out... I see lots of people knitting socks at every knit night, and if sock yarn is about to invade the big-box craft stores, The Mania is likely to grow. (And to shatter our illusions that we're cool and hip because we knit socks. As Natalia says, "trends go to Wal-Mart to die.")

This might be me overthinking it, but I wonder if it's these uncertain times that make sock knitting seem like a sensible thing to do. You only need one skein, which can be had for less than you'd spend making all but the cheapest sweaters, and it keeps you occupied for hours. Then you can show off the finished product! I imagine the stalwart matrons of wartime England putting on a kettle of tea and knitting socks while scanning the sky with binoculars. Kind of like Bedknobs and Broomsticks, but substitute knitting for magic. (That would be a very strange knitter cult movie that everyone else would fall asleep during.) Could something in our cultural memory recall schoolchildren knitting socks for the Great War, and thus it makes sense to knit socks, even if they're actually handpainted merino treats for ourselves and those we choose to spoil this way? (I was thinking the ultimate symbol of devotion would be to knit so many socks that the Mad Husband could wear hand-knit socks every day, but I was also thinking that there's biting off more than you can chew, and then there's biting off so much that you choke on it. Anyway, I don't think he wants pink socks and I've got an awful lot of pink sock yarn to knit up...) And it's a sensible way to indulge your passion for colors without getting stuck with a finished sweater that looks like a clown threw up on it.

Or is it all actually the market itself, cleverly playing on our economic worries and suggesting that we can feel good about knitting socks because they're solid and practical... thus absolving ourselves of guilt as we binge on handpainted merino and gleefully reassure each other "it's sock yarn, it doesn't count."

It's not that sock yarn doesn't count as stash. It's just that I have an entire separate stash of sock yarn.

See? Even when I'm refusing to allow myself to knit socks because I need to crochet for the sale, I'm still obsessing over socks. That's just sad. I am so regretting this.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Jayne is a girl's name.

Carat asked which pattern I used to make my Jayne hat. Well... I haven't exactly made one yet. It's on the to-do list, and has been for some time, as evidenced by this conversation from a couple months ago...

Me: ...and I need to make [the Mad Husband] a Jayne hat...
StringTheory2.0 (confused) : Why are you going to make your husband a lady's hat?
Me (trying to sound all River): Jayne is a girl's name.

And then I had to go and find this for her. Though if you have no clue what I'm talking about, this will probably be more helpful. If you're not inclined to watch YouTube and don't know what Firefly is, the short version is Firefly was a Western set in space, and Jayne was the shoot-first-ask-questions-never mercenary. His mother made him this hat and he thought it was the greatest thing ever:

Not surprisingly, Jayne hats are all the rage with Firefly fans. I think I actually squealed at DragonCon last year when I realized one guy in costume as Jayne had an honest-to-goodness crocheted Jayne hat. Purists may insist that the hat must be knitted out of the most dreadful acrylic you can find. I think I'd go more Cascade 220, but to each their own. At any rate, I'd better make sure the Mad Husband has one of his own by DragonCon or he'll be sorely disappointed.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy birthday to me!

Today is my birthday, and it's one of those landmarks... it's the big 3-0. And despite my past claims that I was just going to stay 29 for a few years, I'm pretty excited about it. My twenties were so weird, in particular the beginning and middle, but improved so dramatically towards the end that I figure the thirties will continue the trend. I've become more confident in myself, and less concerned with what others think. You know what that means? Much more knitting and crocheting in unusual places to come. Possibly while wearing a Jayne hat and feeding birds and laughing maniacally for my own amusement.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

No time for love, Dr. Jones

I am totally in love, or at least in lust, with sock knitting. I frogged the cuff on my Saucy Sock (k3, p1) because I didn't like it, and I'm liking the more conventional k2p2. But alas, I must set aside my lovely socks and get to work, because the Customer Spotlight Sale draws ever closer and I haven't done even a fraction of the work I need to do. Yet I keep surfing The Loopy Ewe and Etsy to look at the pretty, pretty hand-painted sock yarn.

Tonight I got out the hooks and got to work on a smaller version of the Jester Bag. I'm making it with Plymouth Happy Feet, and this stuff is terrific. I'm looking forward to using it for socks at some point. Man, though, now that I know how to knit, crochet just seems to rip through yarn. Maybe that's because it's so much faster, so my ball of yarn is gone that much quicker. The colors are beautiful!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Houston, we have sock!

Hi! I'm a sock!

Sock has personality.

Now I, too, can stick my foot up on the table next to people's food and drink to show off my SOCK!!

Pattern: Universal Toe-Up Sock Formula
Yarn: Numma-Numma Saucy in Marinara

Monday, April 14, 2008

little help?

So I mentioned that Needle Nook is having a Customer Spotlight Sale to raise money for ovarian cancer research. (You can click that second link for more information on the sale!) I hope lots of you will come check it out.

But I need your help. What sort of things would you like to see at a sale like this? It's spring in Atlanta, so I don't think anyone's looking for hats or scarves. I've got a few different ideas (that I'm not going to spill the beans on just yet), but I'm curious to find out what people are interested in.

Oh, No No Bad Kitty has a new favorite snack -- bamboo DPNs. Plus, this morning she pounced on Good Kitty while Good Kitty was trying to use the litter box. I'm starting to suspect that No No Bad Kitty is the devil.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

April 13

Today the Mad Husband and I celebrate our first anniversary.

We had planned a big wedding, but ...stuff happened, and we told our parents "we're going to the DeKalb courthouse next month, show up if you wanna." Less than twenty people, a two-minute ceremony, and lunch at Wahoo! Grill.

And you know what? It was just about perfect.

Love you, sweetie.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sock progress

First of all, I've learned never to say "I'm knitting a sock." Because then every smartass in the world will say something along the lines of "just one sock?" and think they're hilarious and oh-so-original. I've even gotten it from my mother. Gee, thanks Mom.

I've learned how to fix my dropped stitches with a crochet hook (thanks Lizardsmells!) and I'm getting better at it, but they still look kinda wonky so I'd rather just not drop them at all. Practice, practice, practice.

Sock yarn is the fiber artist's equivalent of Pokemon. Gotta catch 'em all.

I'm really loving knitting with numma numma Saucy. It's a little splitty, but the fabric is to die for -- wicked soft and I love the interplay of shades of red, pink, and orange. Don't worry, pictures soon. Oh, and when I try on the sock it feels so nice. Okay, I finally get the hand-knitted sock thing.

It's getting much easier to work on the double points. I'm not jabbing myself with the extra needles nearly as much as I was. I have had some issues with letting stitches fall off, but that's where I got the practice at fixing them, so I guess that's not so bad.

I'd say I'm about halfway done with the foot of sock #1. Sadly for my newfound addiction, I'm going to have to set the sock knitting aside in order to make inventory for Needle Nook's Customer Spotlight Sale. It's to raise money for a great cause -- ovarian cancer research -- and I'll be badgering you all to come out and see the cool stuff. Badger badger badger. (Wow, that link just totally freaked out No No Bad Kitty.)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Another cool thing about Ravelry

I figured out something else I like about Ravelry tonight: If I see a nifty-looking indie yarn or something else I'm not familiar with, I can go to the yarn's Ravelry page and click on "stashed." Then I can see lots of pretty yarn, but I can also see if any of it's up for sale or trade. If absolutely no one who has it is willing to consider parting with it, I have a feeling it's good. (And then I want it. I really need to spend less time on Ravelry.)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

I need to have my head examined.

I frogged the sock.

To tell you the truth, it sort of happened by accident. I'd made a couple of mistakes on the foot, and I was warned I'd be able to feel them when I wore the sock, and I had one on each side so I couldn't just make the side with the mistake the top, so I started frogging, and then I was so close to the toe that I said screw it, I'll start fresh.

I'm now trying yet again. I just finished the toe and started working in the round (joy!). I think I've made fewer mistakes this time around, but I know they're still there. But I'm pretty determined that I need to finish this sock come hell or high water. Otherwise I'll never learn anything about knitting a sock start to finish.

At this point, my only hope is that the sock is wearable.

In other news, I like knitting with double points (bamboo, baby!), but I don't like dealing with the three double points I'm not knitting with. I guess I'll get used to it. It'll build character.

Monday, April 7, 2008

can't sleep, sock will eat me

Now that I'm about three inches into the sock, I'm starting to feel like I know what I'm doing. Which means I'm starting to see the mistakes I've made. And the insane stubborn perfectionist voice in my head wants to ditch it and start over and do it better this time. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right, right?

The sensible voice in my head says this is a ridiculous idea, because even if I do the toe right this time I'm bound to screw up on the heel. Because it'll be the first heel I've ever made. Just like this is the first toe I ever made.

Natalia said I should just keep going and I "can always make this first sock into a foul-mouthed sock puppet." I like this idea.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Stupid cast-ons

The good news is I'm making my progress on my first sock.

The bad news is everything else.

Eve valiantly endeavored to teach me Judy's Magic Cast-On today. Multiple times. I could just not get the hang of it. Maybe it's because I was working on dpns rather than circulars, but first I couldn't get the loops to interlock, and then once I finally managed that, I couldn't manage to knit between the two -- it was too tight. I think the most I got was six stitches before the whole thing fell apart.

After watching me rip, curse, and try again for about an hour and a half, Eve pronounced me "stubborn as a mule." I told her that was one of the nicest compliments I'd gotten in quite a while.

The provisional cast-on as directed in Knitty's Toe-Up Sock Formula drove me crazy (me not liking a crochet cast-on? There is clearly a disturbance in the Force) so I was really hoping the Magic Cast-On would do the trick. Curses, foiled again.

So the upshot of all this is I've decided wrap-and-turn toes aren't so bad after all. I'll have to post a picture of my first one so you can see what happens when you forget to slip a stitch on the second half of the toe. I might have frogged it and tried again if I weren't already so sick of frogging, but since this is my first sock and I know it's going to have mistakes no matter what, I decided to suck it up. Lizardsmells tells me that's easy enough to fix. (Oh, there is good news! I got to hang out with Lizardsmells which definitely makes me cooler than you are. Envy me!)

Oh, and in other bad news, the tip of one of my #1 dpns has been chewed on. *looks meaningfully at No No Bad Kitty*

Friday, April 4, 2008

Six (long-winded) things about me

DeuceMom tagged me for this meme. I don't usually do memes, but with this blog I've made a concerted effort to just talk about yarn, so I thought it might be fun to reveal a few non-yarn-related things about me, especially the ones I'm usually doing while knitting and blogging. (What can I say, I like to multitask.)

1. I love to watch so-called reality TV, the trashier the better. I watch most of the VH1 Celebreality block, snarking the whole way. I know it's fake, and in a way that makes it more entertaining -- it's a genre like comedy or drama, and as an English-major genre-freak, I like to try and figure out how the storyline's being manipulated. (English major moment: Trashy genres are nothing new. Bloody revenge tragedies, which frequently ended with everyone killed in ridiculous ways, were all the rage in Jacobean England.)

2. I also like to watch sports while I'm yarning. The NBA is my absolute favorite -- it's just as nutty as any reality show -- but I have a passing familiarity with just about anything covered by SportsCenter. I also gripe a lot because even in the middle of a really tight and exciting NBA playoff race, SportsCenter would rather talk about baseball and football. No one's even playing football right now! Steve Nash is my favorite player (I've actually followed his career since he was a skinny college freshman hitting all his free throws to give Santa Clara the upset win in the NCAAs) and I refer to him as my "basketball boyfriend."

3. I was a contestant on Jeopardy! My episode aired in June 2004, during Ken Jennings' reign of terror. I really think I could have contended if he hadn't had the buzzer timing down perfectly after two weeks of filming. I was the only contestant to get the Final Jeopardy question right. I wore a red jacket and Alex Trebek called me "the lady in red." I made the studio audience laugh by complaining about an email forward I'd gotten titled "Things You'll Never Hear a Southerner Say" which included the line "I'll take Shakespeare for $1000, Alex."

4. The Mad Husband and I like to think of ourselves as tea connoisseurs (kinda like wine connoisseurs, but less drunk). We're constantly making trips to Teavana to stock up on loose-leaf tea.

5. I collect rubber duckies. I have a row of them on top of my desk at work and they're really a great icebreaker.

6. I swear like a drunken sailor. This blog is one of the few places I try to contain it, because I don't feel it's appropriate here, but sometimes a few words slip out. As the makers of Gone With the Wind discovered, "frankly my dear, I really don't care" just won't do, and frankly "darn it to heck" out of the mouth of anyone over the age of twelve just sounds ridiculous.

I'm not tagging anyone specific for this, but let me know if you decide to list yours.

In lieu of actual content, pictures of my stash.

Because I know you guys are all about the yarn porn.

This Creatively Dyed sock yarn was the skein I fell in love with during Lent and wouldn't shut up about. Now it's mine!

Natalia kept taunting me with how awesome the Dream in Color Smooshy was until I just had to try some for myself. I justified it by having the Mad Husband pick out a color he'd like for socks. I didn't expect him to go so purpley (not that you can tell from my crappy photo).

Trekking XXL, with bonus swatch.

Numma-Numma Saucy, with bonus toe. (plz ignore ugly scrap yarn, kthxbai)

Fibre Company Canopy, which is going to make some awesome fingerless gloves.

Handmaiden Sea Silk, from a Ravelry destash. I think this will make a lovely shawl (not that I'm exactly a shawl person, but the yardage dictates it on this one).

And now that I have these lovely yarns... it's time for another yarn diet. *sigh*

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Stuff I Don't Get: Crocheted Food

I love amigurumi. At least, I love the finished product that is amigurumi. They're so cute and kooky, and I love kooky. But the process of making amigurumi... I just haven't been in a hurry to make any more after the first two, because the tight gauge is hard on your hands. I play with yarn because it feels good, so something that doesn't feel good is low on the priority list no matter how cute the finished object is. But I still love looking at amigurumi and amigurumi patterns.

But there's a popular type of amigurumi that's just lost on me: the cute little food with eyes. Especially cupcakes. I see them everywhere. And yes, they're cute. But when I look at them all I can think is, "mmmm, cupcake." If I crochet a cupcake, well then I'm going to want to eat a cupcake, and if I keep my crocheted cupcake around, I'm going to end up either eating cupcakes all the time or craving cupcakes until I go crazy. And I don't even really like cupcakes that much. I mean, I like cupcakes, but they're not chocolate mousse or tirimisu or something like that. If I'm going to put myself in a position that's going to lead to me craving desserts, cupcake doesn't even crack the top ten.

Why did I think this was a good idea?

I've been absent lately owing to my inexplicable desire to knit some socks.

First of all, sock yarn is crack. I think the fascination with socks on my part is mostly so I can justify buying lots of pretty sock yarn in outrageous colorways. Who was it that pointed out that you can get away with color combinations in socks that would blind you in a sweater? I'm going to have to go on another yarn diet. Sadly I'll probably be sick of all these pretty colors by the time they're all made into socks, but, well, whatcha gonna do? At least with socks you only have to buy one skein to finish a project, even if it is a $20 skein. Three pairs of socks are still cheaper than a sweater and will probably provide hours more entertainment. And being entertained means I'm not running to the LYS. I hope.

I picked Knitty's Universal Toe-Up Sock Formula as my first sock pattern -- straightforward enough, custom fit, seemed like a good introduction. Well, it is a good introduction to sock knitting -- the frogging, swearing, and wondering how the hell these stitches are ever going to resemble a foot parts of sock knitting. I've lost count of how many times I've ripped out this thing and started over.

I had probably the most issues with knitting the double-wrapped stitches, but Eve and this utterly adorable little book called Knitspeak helped. I think I know what I'm doing now -- well, at least I thought I did, until a few minutes ago, but I'm tired and I'm hoping it'll look better in the morning. I sure hope so. This thing is finally resembling a toe and if I have to frog it I think I'll cry.