Polygamous knitting

The black lace shrug is proceeding quite nicely, thank you. Despite my madness induced break, I’ve been steadily working, a few stitches here and there when I can fit them in, and have made excellent progress. One arm is done, blocked, and I’ve even tried it on to make sure it fits. It does. The second arm is past the elbow. Happily, I am a standard issue human and have only the two regulation arms, which means I don’t have far to go.

I am also working on a sock.

Sock in progress

Sometimes things just aren’t right for lace knitting. I knit while I teach, but the experience is better for everyone if I knit something I don’t have to look at or concentrate on. Same with gaming. Sometimes I break those rules, but every time I do I am reminded in one way or another that it’s a bad idea and I should stick to my sock projects when multitasking.

These socks are part of my Black Socks 2010 Collection. A year ago (so Zappo’s has reminded me) I bought a pair of shoes unlike anything I have ever worn. I’m not a shoe person. I own three pair: dress shoes, gym shoes, and everyday shoes. This is my everyday pair, and they’ve done an excellent job so far. The catch was that I’d been wearing boots for a long, long time and therefore unconcerned with the colour of my socks. Since all my socks are my handknits, most of them are riotously coloured. These shoes reveal my socks, which matters to me when I’m pretending to be a normal person. So I needed black socks. I ordered a tonne of black sock yarn from The Loopy Ewe the week before I moved here and spent the summer making black socks.

All those socks are too much alike, and a pain in the neck to sort in the laundry. So this summer I’m going to make plain black socks with a stripe around the toe made of some leftover coloured yarn. The socks appear black when I wear them in the Real World, but they’re easy to match.

It also gives me something simple to work on when I have other things to pay attention to. They are toe-up, so I can’t tune out during the heel, but I hope to have a standard toe-up heel-flap heel memorized by the end of this adventure.

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A long, hot summer?

I’m still cold most of the time…

My Loopy Ewe May sock club package came last week, and it was so good the stuff got pressed into service before I got a chance to take decent pictures of it. This is the yarn, in all its summery glory:

May TLE Sock club yarn

It is soft and wonderful and while the shawlette pattern this month didn’t immediately excite me the sock pattern May Flowers looks intriguing. Just like last month, I’ve set it aside as enticement to finish one of the many other projects going on at the moment. Even though the colours aren’t so much my thing (yellow? maybe not), the whole thing wrapped up together looks cheerful and summery. The good kind of summer, like an Irish summer, with rain and cool breezes and sun. Not like LA summer with furnace-like heat and fires, or DC summer that’s so humid that drying off after a shower is an exercise in futility. The kind of summer people write songs about.

As I write, there’s a stack of knits and yarn next to me that needs photographing. I’ll be off to do that now, hoping for some of that summer sun to help out.

Still quiet

With the shadow of the Sackboys removed, I have moved on to other handknitting challenges and obligations. The Big Commission still looms (haha) overhead, but after meditating on the recent issues with it over the past few days I have more ideas for how to deal with it and get it done and get on with forgetting about it.

Last night I headed out to see Amanda Palmer (AFP) and assorted hangers-on. It was meant to be part of the Evelyn Evelyn tour, but the massive travel snarl created by the volcano ash prevented most of the actual show from showing up. The result? A completely random opening act Bitter Ruin, who blew me away. I would have bought a CD if there were any left. This was followed by a sort of shadow of the actual Evelyn Evelyn stage show, with AFP describing what would be happening and Jason Webley (the other Evelyn) joining via webcast. They had pretty successfully figured out how to sing together in spite of the 2-second lag, so it was possible to get some idea of what the music would have been like had they been in the same room and wearing the same dress. (Not identical dresses, the two of them in the same dress.)

AFP’s solo set at the end went well, and the debut of “Fuck the Ashcloud,” AFP’s and Neil’s impromptu songwriting collaboration lamenting the impending cancellation of their planned week together went about as well as anyone could have expected.

I got lucky, I think. The show took place at the Academy, where I’d seen JoCo in the basement venue. I’d never been in the upstairs, which is a slightly bigger, two-tiered deal. I wasn’t in the front of the queue, so all the space by the stage was taken by the time I got in and I headed upstairs to the bar. There were couches set up, and no indication that I wasn’t allowed to sit on them…so I ended up slouching in a comfy couch on a balcony for the entire show. The area is often reserved for people with VIP tickets, but this time it was open to anyone of drinking age. Awesome. I had a lovely evening.

I also finished a pair of socks. What better project to take to a show about a pair of conjoined twin singer/songwriters than a sock?

Socks

Weekly knitting roundup

After what seems like months of obligatory knitting, I have turned the corner and started enjoying wool again. I finished the Sackboys:

Sackboy twins

Their older brother has already been handed off. I did the stitching in different colours for each one; that plus the usual inconsistencies in handmade goods ensure each toy is unique. It bothered me at first (the shape of the black-stitched Sackboy’s head irked me for a while) but I now find it charming. They are cute on their own, but they are positively adorable next to each other. It’s for the best that I don’t have all three of them to take pictures of, as it may create a cuteness singularity.

I started another pair of plain socks. I can’t remember why, but I had a good reason at the time: I remembered! It was for the pub quiz in Dalkey, which I attended with a skein of knitters and thought I’d need simple knitting for.

Regia sock in progress

These haven’t progressed much since this picture was taken because I’ve been busy with my reward for finishing the Sackboys:

March Mosaic Socks, in progress

I like these socks. I like the wool. I like the colours. I even like that it’s a simple pattern but requires a little attention to ensure I stay on track. That sort of thing is new for me — I tend to swing wildly towards the outer reaches of the complexity spectrum. It has to be either so easy I can knit with my eyes closed or ridiculously involved. Historically, striving for balance has been a good thing for me, and I think these socks are a good step (haha) in the right direction.

These socks provide yet another reminder that I really like the toe-up heel flap sock construction. The only thing it has going against it is that I haven’t memorized it, so I won’t use it as my default plain sock pattern. (I have strict rules for plain socks, created over years of sock wearing/knitting. The wool must contain nylon, and the sock pattern must be in my head.)

Luckily, the Fiesta Baby Boom does contain nylon. Only time will tell how well it stands up to the wear and tear I visit upon my socks.

Fiesta Baby Boom, in a yarn cake

The cure for early spring blues

So I was freezing in my living room, trying to think of something to blog about that wasn’t either a rehash of what I’ve written in the past week or an unnecessary commentary on recent Irish Knitters drama (which is not so dramatic, just gives us something to tweet and goss about). I nearly gave up, resigning myself to being an infrequent blogger, then all of a sudden the Wanderer wandered in with a package from the post office.

“Ho hum,” I thought, “probably that eyeshadow I ordered so long ago I’ve forgotten which colours I asked for.” Yet the package was larger than expected, and the Wanderer noted it was yarn-ish in nature. You can imagine my surprise and delight when I looked at the return address and saw it was in fact my Loopy Ewe Sock Club package! It shipped on Thursday and arrived at the post office yesterday, possibly the fastest anything has ever gotten to me from the US. I had wondered at why the shipping cost so frightfully much, and now I know why. Well, it’s one of two things. Either the money went towards bribing customs officials and couriers, or they paid the faeries to fly it over the ocean.

Some explanation may be in order. I discovered the Loopy Ewe a while ago, as its popularity was on the upswing and I think not everyone had heard of it. It was summer 2007, and I went a little bananas with the ordering of the luxury sock yarn. I have not splurged like that over such a long period of time since, and my stash is still recovering from the experience. Much of what I bought has been knitted and gifted since then, but there are still jars of sock yarn waiting for attention. I learned a lot from what I bought that summer, and to this day TLE holds a special place in my heart. The serotonin rush from opening a package is really incredible, made all the more so now for its rarity.

The Sock Club existed before I knew about TLE, but I have tried for a spot in their lottery-style signups (which they started for the 2008 sock club) for the past two years. I didn’t get into 2008 or 2009 but I did buy the “consolation prize” kits. (Sheri is a fantastic businesswoman. She can’t sell us all sock club subscriptions, but she will sell something to everyone. I am constantly in awe, in a good way.) This year I signed up again, and to my great shock made it in. This is my first TLE package in about 9 months, and I am beside myself with excitement.

I’ll hide the pictures under the fold, on the slim chance that 1. anyone randomly Googling happens upon the main page rather than the individual entry page, AND 2. that anyone is trying to avoid spoilers for some reason.

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Could you spare some mojo?

I remember the last time I hit a knitting slump. Well, I think I do. It was towards the end of my third term teaching freshman chemistry. It was a year and a half after my boss started calling surprise meetings that sometimes happened on weekends. It was well after I’d gone sour on every aspect of my life, frustrated with my house, my work, my relationships, and my knitting. So I made socks. Lots of them. Eventually I came out of it, though not before dropping a lot of money at The Loopy Ewe and accumulating a really crazy amount of sock yarn leftovers.

These leftovers are slowly making their way into an epic blanket project.

While I am not nearly as miserable now as I was then (in fact, I’m really not miserable at all!), I seem to have hit a wall with my knitting. In the case of my ill-fated Constantine socks, literally. After a repeat and a half, I faced reality and tried them on. Despite working the largest size, they were too small. Ah tension, thou art a harsh mistress. Within a few hours of the frogging, I stupidly left the bag with the ball of wool in the living room, which is the signal to the cat that it’s okay for him to play with it. The ball is a little worse for wear, but I think it’ll live to be knitted another day.

So, the one project (other than the ongoing leftovers blanket, which is also stalled) that’s going okay? That’s right, it’s yet another pair of plain socks:

These will keep me going until I get my mojo back.