Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What's on Your Needles?

That's a common question among knitters and thread topic on discussion boards. Having just finished two major projects (the Snowflake Illusion Blanket and one other I will post soon), this morning I spent some time preparing for and starting a couple projects. They're smaller and easy to pack and carry along. (Ie. what I call "travel knitting.")

1. A cotton bib for some lucky baby who's expected this year.
It will turn into a diamond shape, getting wider and wider until it starts to get narrower and narrower. They're are lots of patterns out there, but I liked the shape of this one, and how the straps flow naturally from that shape and then around the neck. The pattern was written up by Merin and posted on her blog here. I found it on Ravelry.

I will add that there was another pattern that I liked a lot but it was $3. I probably could have figured out the pattern just from the pictures, but decided in this case that would be close enough to stealing not to do it. I think knitting has a lot of grey area of what's actually protected, what's original, etc. But in this case I didn't do it. It didn't hurt that it was the same designer that put up a wonderful shawl pattern on knitty.com (for free) I plan on making as soon as I convince myself that I would wear it.

2. A toy ball. Knit up with swirling colours and stuffed. In one way, not a very practical gift, but in another, kids have to play with something! And knitted fabric is really easy for little hands to grip and hold. These colours were chosen because they resemble the Toronto Maple Leaf colours. (Just a little hint to who the recipient will be.)

And 3. I'm still plugging away at my toe-up socks. I think last time I posted about them, I was still working on the swatch. I've gotten a little further since then:
I'm following Kristin Bellehumeur's very excellent tutorial. Or mostly following. (It is a "tutorial" for making your own socks, not a "pattern," so I am allowing myself some leeway.) I couldn't find it when I was ready to cast on, so I followed another pattern and used a different number of stitches. The tutorial said to increase to 64 sts which matched what I had swatched, but it was way too big. So I frogged back to 44 sts. And even though by measuring this should be almost 2 inches too narrow, it fits great. So I'm going with it. (Apparently socks need some stretch.)

I did follow the tutorial for the short row heel, and I invite you to admire it:
You can see it sort of straining across the top of my foot (diagonal line from the heel) and this is pretty typical for short row heels as far as I've read. But it was a good tutorial and I wanted to follow it. I have in mind another tutorial to show toe-up heel flaps, but I will worry about that in the next pair. Meanwhile, these are fitting well, and feel great, so I think that is the main thing.

My wool is holding up well. I was...well...I was somewhere between "curious" and "concerned" about how the wool would stand up because of all the breakages I had while unravelling it. But it wound up into a ball with no troubles, and even when I had to frog back the toe the wool held up like a champ. (Phew.) It also seems that I will have plenty of wool which was another not-quite concern that I had.

Last night I gave myself some extra knitting time after work by leaving my car lights on at lunch. (Oops!) As I waited for my ever-helpful hubby to show up, I looked all the 2x2 ribbing I have to do for the cuff square in the face. And I couldn't do it. So I've added a little twist to the rib:
I will put that in every four rows moving the twist to the next rib to the right each time. So it will sort of make a spiral around my leg. It should spiral twice before I get them long enough. I thought I was going to just make some very basic socks so I could try out the pattern/method before getting fancier, but it's just too much plainness. Having something (anything) go on in your knitting every 4 or 6 rows--be it a colour change, a cable, or some other pattern--is a great tedium buster. And after knitting for 30 minutes, being able to look back and say, "Oh, I did 3 twists" or two stripes or whatever, is so much better than just looking at an ocean of sameness and not being able to see your progress. All part of eating the elephant one bite at a time, I guess.

And now that I have lots of knitting ready to take with me, I guess I have to give it up at home for a time and get to things like laundry, cooking, and doing the taxes...

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