Thursday, September 27, 2007

Well, crap...

I just couldn't pretend anymore. I had to face reality and accept the fact that I was never going to get a size 13 man's sock out of the teensy-tiny bit of yarn I had left, and I ripped the entire thing back this afternoon. So, bummer. But I guess it could be worse. I could have run out of yarn while in the homestretch of my second sock. Yup, just call me "there's always a silver lining"-girl.

I'm also a tad bit concerned about how snuggly the sock fit my own foot, especially since it is (was - booh!!!) destined for the foot of a particularly large man. It would seem that, despite my swatching, the knitting goddess has once more kicked my bee-hind in the gauge department.

So now I'm faced with two options. I can choose another pattern or I can finagle this one to try to make it fit a man's foot (you know, without the toe cleavage). Remember that I chose this yarn (Fleece Artist Merino) because it had been caked for a long time and was an appropriate "man" colour (whatever that means). Plus I've been able to knit a man's size ten and a half without any problems.

Now, I happen to like this pattern. I think it's classy, and I really want to knit something from Knitting Vintage Socks. I want to get on the Nancy Bush bandwagon, you know? But I'm not, I repeat NOT, a pattern finagler. If I don't like something in the pattern, I usually select another one. I'm not opposed to finagling, it's just that I'm not quite confident in my abilities to do it successfully. It seems incredibly complex. Like I'd need to use a slide-ruler, or possibly an abacus.

But since I really want to use THIS pattern with THIS yarn, my hands are tied. I think I'm going to go up to a size 2.5 mm needle (from a 2.0mm, which was giving me 9 stitches to the inch, even though I had swatched at 8.5 - WHATEVER!!!), and reduce the number of stitches from 80 to 70. Hopefully, that'll give me the same circumference but will use less yarn per row.

Nnnnnnnnnn..... I'm already getting a headache.

You know, if I'd just bought more yarn in the first place, I wouldn't be in this situation... Grumble, grumble.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

It never rains...

September is my least favourite month, let's just get that out of the way right now. I always seem to hemorrhage money from every orifice, and despite my oath to economize in preparation for Rhinebeck, it seems this year won't be any different.

In my own defense, there are certain things I just can't control, like the fact that EVERYONE I KNOW AND LOVE SEEMS TO BE BORN IN SEPTEMBER. I'm not kidding. My cousin (and my daughter's Godmother) Jessica is born on the 11th, my father-in-law on the 14th, my mom AND my dad on the 18th, and my husband on the 23rd. Plus my vehicle registration is always payable in September. Ish.

Then yesterday I had to take our beat-up Ford to the garage to fix it's muffler, and of course they found yet more "you-must-fix-this-or-you-risk-imminent-death" problems, all to the jaunty tune of 794.00$. Ouch. So, will we be going to Rhinebeck after all? The fact is that I'm now wondering if I'll be able to pay for gas and hotel accommodations, let alone yarn. So we'll see.

In other news, I've only got about 10 rows to go to complete the first sleeve on Emilie's sweater, and although my inner Jimminy is now insisting that I will run out of yarn on my Gentleman's sock before I even get close to the toe-shaping, I'm knitting doggedly on, and will only face the truth when I absolutely have to.

After yesterday's post, I decided to swatch the Tulip Baby Cardigan (my friend's baby shower is on October 8th). I'm going to have to go up 2 needle sizes to get gauge, from a US 7 (4.5 mm) to a US 9 (5.5 mm) and of course, I don't happen to own any 5.5 mm, 32 inch circular needles. So it was a quick trip to Ram Wools (I wanted to order from my fellow Montrealer Robyn, but alas, she doesn't carry circulars). When I mentioned this to my husband (making sure to specify that my non-purchase oath was for yarn ONLY), this was his reply: "How many f#$%ing needle sizes are there, anyway?!?!?!?!". Ah, muggles... :)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Eureka! (and Gasp!!!)

Let's start with the Eureka! I finished the back on Emilie's sweater! There will be some embroidery to embellish the flowers once it is all sewn up, but the back is done. Woo-Hoo! check out the close-up of the cable detail on the top. Very cute, and it gives the sweater a little something extra.

I was feeling a little under the weather yesterday, so I didn't go to choir practice last night and stayed home to watch Heroes instead. Rather than start working on the front (no rest for the weary, blablabla), I cast on a sleeve. I wanted something relatively mindless so I could concentrate on the show (like a sock), but I really wanted to make some progress on the sweater. So the sleeve seemed the perfect solution. Plus, I really just could not face more colourwork (the flower pattern is in the front AND the back - groan).

I've also made some progress on my Gentleman's sock (apologies for the blurriness of the picture, but I'm too lazy to do it again), even though I swore I'd put it aside to begin swatching the Tulip Baby Cardigan (notice there aren't any pictures of that one? Insert evil laugh here). I've decided who they'll be for, and I'm now really and truly afraid that I'll run out of wool before I reach the end (they're destined for someone with a size 13 foot). Hence the Gasp!!! Who'd have thunk that sock knitting could be considered an extreme sport?

Finally, I'll leave you with this picture of my daughter, taken yesterday afternoon upon her return from daycare. After spotting that morning's half-drunk tea on the coffee table (I'm actually renowned for leaving half-full glasses all over the place, I've been doing it since birth - some people call it annoying, I say I'm preparing for an alien invasion*), she promptly requested her own cup of tea. So here she is, quite the Little Miss (minus the white gloves or coiffed hair, obviously). I thought it was adorable.

* If you didn't get that reference (I talk in movie speak), check this out. I'm fairly certain M. Night Shyamalan got the idea from me.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Random Tidbits

I wound up picking up Maxime's Jumperoo at Toys 'R Us yesterday, because I remembered I had a five dollar gift certificate from our last visit. That was all the pretense I needed! He's not quite tall enough for his feet to fully touch the ground at the lowest setting, but he seemed to enjoy himself nonetheless. I also picked up an inflatable activity ring that I'd always wanted when my daughter was a baby, because even though she sat upright, she had this nasty habit of flinging herself backwards, and I was always afraid she was going to crack her skull. Maxime seemed to like it (though Philippe wasn't too thrilled at yet another baby toy cluttering our teensy living room).

I also received The Ultimate Sock Book yesterday. The introductory section is a little bit redundant for someone who has already knit a few pairs of socks, but the chapter on sock design is quite interesting. Who knows, I may just up and design my own pattern! Watch out, Cookie A! :) There are also a few patterns I'll want to try (some day, the queue is quite long). I'm really looking forward to Ravelry being ready (I've decided to be patient rather than put myself on the waiting list to be a beta tester), because apparently you can view all the patterns in new books prior to purchase (Knitpicks does give you a sneak peek though).

I've almost finished the flower section of the back of Emilie's sweater. I think I'll concentrate on that today (assuming Maxime lets me knit at all! He already woke up half an hour early from his morning nap!). If I can get the colourwork finished, maybe I can finish the back this weekend. I'm a little concerned about the tightening/rippling of the fabric (I guess my gauge tightens up when doing Fair Isle), but I'm hoping it'll even out when it's blocked.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

No, I'm not sleeegf...

Huh? What? I'm up, I'm up. Sorry about the recent lack of posts, but this week has been fairly hectic, and there has been little or no blog-worthy knitting progress to report.

Monday evening I had my choir practice to attend, which was fun as always, but it ends rather late. I think I managed to knit my quota on my daughter's sweater during the day, though. Tuesday Philippe had to be at the office at seven o'clock in the morning, so I got to take Emilie to daycare. I picked her up a scant three hours later, though, because she had her annual doctor's appointment. Everything normal, taller than average for her age (duh), see you next year. I actually bumped into a friend I used to work with at McDonald's about a zillion years ago, and she's got four kids now! I couldn't believe it. FOUR KIDS!!!! I always said I wanted three, but now I'm not so sure anymore. We'll put off any decisions for the time being, shall we?

But I digress! Since the appointment ended around lunch time, we headed off to McDonald's for a quick lunch (Aaack! ;) That was supposed to be a secret). I try not to take her to fast food places, but come on. Seeing Karine at the doctors' office reminded me of that dear old Mickey Dee, and it's right next door, for Pete's sake! Then we went home and played until Emilie's nap time. I was really excited, because she'd said she wanted to get her ears pierced that afternoon (I've always told her that we'd go when she'd decide), but when she woke up, she was sort of cranky and just wanted to stay home. No worries, we did the next best thing: We made cupcakes! Lovely pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese icing and sprinkles (I should have taken a picture).

I just love baking with my daughter. It's a good rainy-day activity (this picture was taken a few months ago, shortly after Maxime was born, hence the roundness of moi). Of course, the downside to baking is that there are cupcakes in the house, just beckoning, but I think I may have found the perfect solution. We brought 8 cupcakes to daycare the next day! So all her little friends were happy, and I wasn't obligated to snarf down a cupcake an hour on Wednesday. Tuesday evening Philippe's mother came to babysit, because we went out to dinner for my Mom's birthday.

Whew! What did we do Wednesday? Well, Philippe had to drive to Ottawa, so I had to take Emilie to daycare again (this time, Oh Joy, in the two-door crap Ford that wouldn't have made it to Ottawa). Maxime and I stayed home until around two in the afternoon, when I had an appointment. Then it was a quick visit to my Mom's (my grandmother is visiting, and she'd never seen Maxime yet), then back to pick up Emilie, make dinner, and wait and pray for Philippe to arrive (which he did, at six thirty).

Needless to say, there hasn't been much knitting done around here. I think today I'm going to take it easy (after a quick trip to Sears to pick up a baby jumper that was enabled by Jennifer). I've also decided to set my sock aside (boooooo!!!) and get started on the Tulip baby cardigan for my friend. Yup, I sure will. Tomorrow :)

Monday, September 17, 2007


What is it about deadlines that makes me want to totally disregard them until the last possible moment? I really, really, REALLY would like to have Emilie's sweater all finished for her to wear at Rhinebeck next month (I even set up a ticker on the blog to remind me how fast that most holy of events is approaching, and no, I don't think that makes me a nerd), so of course now all I want to do is work on my sock. *Sigh*

My progress has been achingly slow. Can I just put it on record that I really don't like colour-work at all? I'm averaging a whopping six rows per evening, and the colour section has seventy-one rows. So it'll take nine evenings just to complete the flowers. Oh, and did I mention there are freakin' flowers on both the front and the back?

Jessica commented that she would like to see some close-ups of the flowers. Jessica, this one's for you baby. Actually, she read my mind. I really wanted to post close-ups, but didn't know how to use the macro feature on my camera. Phil showed me how this morning.

I'm quite happy with the results so far (though by no means convinced that my daughter will actually want to wear the sweater when it is presented to her).

And just because I'm now enamoured with the whole "macro" concept, here's a close-up shot of my current sock in progress. I really shouldn't be putting any valuable knitting time on this at all, but it's just more convenient for day-time knitting (a.k.a. can be interrupted at any given moment because Maxime is waking up knitting).

Alas, there's also another impending deadline that I'm totally avoiding, the upcoming birth of my friend's daughter, for whom I want to knit the Tulip Baby Cardigan. I haven't even swatched yet. Just call me Cleopatra, queen of De-Nile! (It's funny if you say it out loud, trust me on this).

I'll wrap up this post with a gratuitous cutie-pie shot of Maxime this morning (just ignore the unkempt woman in her hand-me-down purple flower pajamas, will ya?). Isn't he sweet? Quite the handsome man about town, if I do say so myself. :)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Progress report

I've recently cast on two new projects, and while I'm perfectly happy with both, the progress has been slow-going, so there hasn't been that much new and exciting to report.

After a day of indecision, I cast on a new sock, using some Fleece Artist I've had caked up for ages. Apparently it's not good to cake up yarn too far ahead of time (it stretches the fibers), and since the shop caked it up for me when I bought it in January, I figured I should get cracking. The picture doesn't do the colour justice, I'm afraid. It's a lovely shade of brown with some reds and gold thrown in, and I think it'll be perfect for the "Gentleman's socks", picked out from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks.

My only problem is that, while I've made socks to fit a size 11 man's foot using this yarn in the past, this pattern's gauge is slightly tighter than my usual 8sts/inch (and therefore, will require more yarn). Add to that the fact that Fleece Artist does not include yardage information on their packaging, and I feel like I'm flying blind. The pattern calls for 600 yards of fingering weight yarn, though I suspect it's less than that (she couldn't possibly have used all of her three 200 yard skeins, could she?). Flying blind? I'm flying blind, in the Alps, with a plane that has a faulty fuel gage. Oh well...

The second new project is Emilie's sweater. Remember I was waiting for more appropriate colours? Isn't this better? I'm quite happy with the new colours, but I'm finding that colour-work takes FOREVER!!! I managed a staggering 6 rows in just over an hour of knitting last night. I'm really going to have to kick it up a notch if I want it to be ready for Emilie to wear at Rhinebeck. Will I have to commit to project monogamy? We'll see, it's far too early to tell...

So that's what's been going on chez Dear Knits. I think I may be going through some form of shopping withdrawal as well, I'm feeling lethargic and anxious all at once... I've got a gift certificate for Chapters that has yet to be spent... Maybe I could buy a new knitting book (this one is particularly tempting), just to take the edge off? :)

Monday, September 10, 2007

The perils of stash diving

First things first: I finished my Solstice Slip socks!

To recap, these were knit with Socks that Rock lightweight in their Firebird colourway (the colour is only available to Rockin Sock Club members right now, but it'll be up for grabs to the general public sometime next year), using 2.25mm needles. I actually broke in my rosewood dpns on these babies, and I enjoyed them very much. The stitches really hold on to the needles, but the rosewood is much sturdier than bamboo needles. I'll definitely use them again.

Since I finished a project, I decided to dive into the stash. I wanted to knit a "miscellaneous" (as in, I haven't decided who they're for yet) man's sock, and I found a couple in Nancy Bush's lovely Knitting Vintage Socks that I really liked. This is where I ran into trouble.

I'm rooting through my fingering weight bin yesterday (I separated my fingering and sport weight sock yarn so that it seemed more manageable (read less crazy) - like THAT was going to work!), pushing this skein and that skein aside, and I just cannot comprehend how it is that I don't have a single suitable yarn for either of the patterns I have picked out. All this yarn, and I have nothing to knit with! Quite the conundrum under regular circumstances, but literally spasm inducing when one considers my oath not to purchase any more yarn until Rhinebeck.

So I ask you, what is the best way to approach a new project? Do you choose a yarn from your stash and then select an appropriate pattern for said yarn, or do you select a pattern and then try to match it with an appropriate yarn in the stash? Which is the lesser of two evils?

My problem right now is that, while I have oodles of variegated yarns, I don't have much in the way of solids or nearly solids. As these, in my experience, have been the best yarns to use when making socks for men or to display complex patterns, I've got some catching up to do.

Can I amend my oath to say that I won't be buying any variegated or self-striping yarn until Rhinebeck? :)

Friday, September 7, 2007

Rhinebeck, baby!

It's official, we've made our hotel reservations and Phil and I and the kiddies will all be heading out to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival in October, and I cannot wait. I've been wanting to go to a knit-related event for some time now, especially since Philippe gets to attend one if not two pinball shows a year, and we finally decided to just go.

So, in preparation for that most solemn of events, and as the entire blogosphere is my witness, there will be no stash enhancement from now on. I'm practically breaking out into hives as I write this, but I'm going to be strong. I SOLEMNLY SWEAR WILL NOT BUY YARN UNTIL RHINEBECK. Not if The Loopy Ewe gets more Wollmeise in, not if Sachi ever puts up any more handspun. No more yarn, period. Of course, all orders made before this post, whether they've been processed or not, don't count :)

I mention that because I had to make a small order from Ram Wools earlier this week, but it didn't count because it was actually due to a change in the colour scheme for the sweater I recently cast on for Emilie (they're my rules, I can bend them any way I want).

When I bought the yarn a few months back, they didn't have the colours I wanted for the flower motif, so I thought "Oh well, I'll just make do with these, it'll be fine" (hint number one: it'll never be "just fine"). When I took it out of the stash earlier this week, I thought the colours looked a little, well, old for a three-year-old's sweater, but I'm nothing if not persistent (some say pig-headed, whatever). After knitting a couple of rows, though, I couldn't fool myself any longer. I tinked back the four rows, set the sweater aside, and moseyed on over to the computer. *Sigh* You'd think I'd have learned that the "This will do just fine" approach to knitting DOESN'T WORK.

The upside of putting the new sweater aside is that I'm making excellent progress on my second Solstice Slip sock. I should be finished within a day or two.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Strange night

I will indeed be posting knitting-related news in a few moments, but I just wanted to take this opportunity to document the strange, looooooong night that was last night. First off, I had a variety of bizarre dreams: I dreamed that Wentworth Miller (where did he come from? I don't even watch Prison Break) was flirting with me, and that I was ticked off I couldn't reciprocate due to my, you know, being married; I dreamed Phil and I were renewing our vows (doesn't everyone after four years of marriage?) because my grandmother hadn't been able to attend the original ceremony (both our surviving grandmothers were there at the real deal), but I was caught in the rain on my way there and had to wear a silk cami with my wedding skirt because the gray blouse I had originally picked out was soaked (Huh???); and lastly, I dreamed that my Mom put my daughter on a train going in the wrong direction, by herself, and I was running through wagon after wagon, trying to find her.

I also have this recurring sinus condition that's been acting up lately. Basically I'm stuffed up in the early morning and in the evenings, but when I'm in bed, my sinuses are very sensitive to my breathing patterns. So when my son woke up at 2:30 this morning, all bets were off. My nose was hermetically sealed the remainder of the night, making it nearly impossible for either Phil or I to get back to sleep (because of my failed attempts at quiet sniffling). I was forced to breathe through my mouth the rest of the night, and woke up this morning with my tongue feeling (and tasting) as though I had licked clean a litter box. Of course, my sinuses cleared within about 35 seconds of my getting up.

OK! On with knitting goodness! For those of you who read yesterday's post, I finished Mystery Stole! I actually finished it a couple of days ago, but was waiting for an Emilie-free window to break out my new lace blocking wires and pin it out. As a blocking surface, I used a set of interlocking foam mats that we had bought for Emilie, covered with a towel. This being my first lace, I was really impressed with how the details of the pattern come out during the blocking process. I was worried about the asymmetrical design, but it really isn't as strange looking when it's worn as when it's lying flat.

I've also completed one of my Solstice Slip socks. The pattern is really easy to memorize, and it knits up very quickly. It's a bit looser than I usually make my socks, so I think they'll make great slippers/house socks this winter.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Weekend update

Labour day weekend has come and gone, and I have much to report. Though Saturday was fairly uneventful over at chez Dear, on Sunday Phil and I packed up the kiddies and headed out to Rouses Point, New York, where my in-laws have a boat. I haven't been up there since I was in my teens, so needless to say the visit was long overdue.

The trip started out well enough, we left the house on time and the roads were fairly clear. When we got to the border crossing, there were only about 10 cars ahead of us, and we were diligently prepared, passports well in hand, so we figured it wouldn't take too long. Of course, we didn't count on Phil's uncanny ability to select the line of the slowest, most anal retentive border attendant in the world...We were in line so long, in fact, that we decided it might be prudent to ration our water supply. After all, you can never be too careful.

When we finally did make it through, the marina was only about a fifteen minute drive from the border. As you can see, Maxime was super stoked about heading out on the cruiser.

Despite having to wear an admittedly uncomfortable life-jacket at all times, Emilie really enjoyed the trip, and even took the plunge in the freezing Champlain with her Daddy.

The drive to and from also gave me ample knitting time, and the first of my Summer Solstice socks is almost complete, with just a few more inches to knit on the leg. Stay tuned for tomorrow's post, which will be showcasing another finished object! The suspense is killing you? Here's a hint: