Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

I was on a military post at 5 pm the other day. That doesn't happen as often as it used to, since my husband retired from active duty many years ago. Still, as the bugle call sounded Retreat, I automatically stopped and faced the general direction of the flag, too far away to be seen. As the lovely warm breezes of a May evening washed over me, I closed my eyes and took a moment to enjoy the sun on my face.

I found myself faintly anxious in the silence as the last notes of Retreat faded, that same feeling when you know what the next movement of a piece of music is going to be, but it hasn't started yet. Or, since I pre-date the Shuffle Generation, that moment when some deep part of you knows what the next track will be, and relaxes in familiarity as it starts. And sure enough, at the first notes of To the Color sounded, I relaxed.

I thought about friends overseas, and their families, and was instantly transported back to a memory of when that was us, a family overseas, with DH even further away in a war zone. We weren't always on post in the evenings, since we lived "on the economy" in a beautiful little village. But that evening we were, and the girls knew what to do.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Epic Fail

The whole and entire point of having a knitting blog (at least for me), not to mention a Ravelry account, is to document my work so that when I want to go back and make something I've made before, I can remember how I did it. Except that this past month, two things I wanted to document simply weren't document-able.

Here is a pretty scarf I made for sister K:

I can tell you that it is made from one skein of some lovely cinnamon-colored alpaca that my co-worker brought back for me from her trip to Peru. No label, but 100% alpaca, and it felt like lace-weight to me.

I can tell you that I probably knit it up on a size 9 circular, because I can vaguely remember the color of the needle it was on.

But can I tell you what the pattern is? I cannot. I found it on the internet, copied the relevant pattern rows to one of the scraps of paper my life is littered with, and went on my merry way. *sigh* I can tell you that I chose the pattern because I do not trust alpaca to stay blocked, and it looked nice even as unblocked lace. I can tell you that I did not find the pattern on Ravelry. I probably found it on Knitting Pattern Central. Wait - wait - memory is stirring... Bingo! Bramble Lace Scarf, and credit where credit is due. As you can see, I made it quite a bit lacier, but even in it's unstretched state (which I firmly believe alpaca reverts to), it's still pretty.

Well. Maybe if I start a blog post about the other lost pattern, memory will jog again. Time will tell.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A Blast from the Past

Towards the end of winter, my sister sent me back a pair of socks I had knit her. I was shocked when I opened the package. Not because they were in such pristine shape - I already knew that she'd never been able to get them on, so they were completely unworn. But they had to be among the first pairs of socks I ever knit.

I do things so differently now!

Let's start with that pointy little toe, since these are toe-up socks. I believe the original had you cast four stitches onto a straight needle, knit in the front and back of each stitch, then slide the whole thing off the needle, where it opened up neatly into two halves, which you then slid onto two double-pointed needles. You knit the first two stitches onto a third needle, and there you were, ready to start your toe increases. Although I deeply loved the magic of sliding those stitches off and watching them open up, these days I use a magic-8 cast-on of 20 stitches, resulting in a much blunter toe.

And nowadays finding "European" sets of double-pointed needles, with five to the set instead of four, means that my socks rest on four needles in a square, rather than three needles in a triangle. Yes, I know about magic loop and the wonders of two circular needles. I've made progress, but I'm still old-fashioned.

Then there's that heel, which, although simple to execute, makes a much narrower opening for the foot than a nice gusseted wrap&turn heel. I use Wendy's, because she's done the math for different yarn weights and foot sizes.

Although the mock cable ribbing was pretty, I tend toward the practical elasticity of a 2x2 rib these days.

Finally, and from my sister's point of view the most important thing, I have learned the miracle of Elizabeth Zimmerman's sewn cast-off when it comes to the top of toe-up socks. Unlike my first attempt (where I believe I confidently cast off using a needle two sizes bigger), these are wearable.

Now I'd better re-knit the other one and get them back on their way!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Finished, Mom's really cool socks:

Yarn: Knit Picks Essential (now Stroll) in Granny Smith, Cocoa, Pumpkin, Sarge, and Bare

Needles: Knit Picks Harmony dpns, sizes 2.25 mm and 2 mm

Pattern: Nancy Bush's Ilga's Socks from Favorite Socks

Mods: none whatsoever

Mom had picked these out as her favorite pattern in the book. I didn't jump right on them, as colorwork has never been my strong suit. But somewhere along the way last summer, knitting sock after sock in the Leyburn pattern, it occured to me (I'm a little slow at times) that if spreading the stitches out along the needle while you carried the yarn in front prevented puckering in Leyburns, maybe the same thing would happen in colorwork. I checked this brilliant insight out at my knitting group, and they kindly didn't laugh, and assured me it was indeed the way to do it. So my first favorite thing about these socks is the nice flat colorwork.

My second favorite thing is the eye-of-peacock heel. I just love me an eye of peacock heel, although I admit it's a little hard to see here.

And lastly, the cute little round toe, so cute that I quickly worked out a way to do a round toe in a toe-up sock, and cast on my next socks that way.

Happy Mothers Day, Mom! What's that? You want to wear them? Seeing them isn't enough? You do realize they're wool, and this cool weather isn't going to hang around much longer... all right, all right, I'll bring them up next time we come.