Saturday, July 28, 2012

WIPs vs. UFOs

There is a definite line that can be drawn between Works in Progress (WIPs) and Unfinished Objects (UFOs) that seems to center around how long the project has been languishing.

Did you set it down so you could get some sleep, a cup of tea, or tend to your non-knitting responsibilities? Definitely a WIP. Did you set it down to succumb to the lure of casting on a newly-inspired project, or are you working on several projects simultaneously? Still a WIP. Have you tidied it away because it was cluttering up your work space, and you needed more room? Now you've crossed into UFO territory. If it's still hanging around in immediate reach, it's a WIP. If you've tidied it away "just for now," it has become a UFO.

This would seem to mean that you can reclaim a UFO back into WIP-ness just by physically moving back into reach. Although if it just sits there gathering dust (and perhaps moths), I suspect the universe is not fooled for a moment.

Here, at the urging of a reader who wishes I would not wait to showcase only Finished Objects, is one of my current WIPs. Back in June I took a delightful class at my LYS on Bohus Stickning, which left me with two soft, incredibly warm, Blue Shimmer "wristlets."  I had decided at the outset that mine would be purposed into sock cuffs, and sized them accordingly.

I knit the entire first sock before starting the second, which is, of course, the way I normally make socks. But it kept bothering me that I hadn't knit both cuffs right away - I think I was afraid I would forget what I learned in class. I didn't, and the second cuff came out just the same. It looks longer and thinner in the picture only because it has not yet been worn. It's slightly less fuzzy at the moment, but I remember that the first cuff wasn't fuzzy when it was new either. It fuzzes up with time, like memories.  It also hasn't had all its ends dealt with yet. Giving the stickiness of the wool/angora yarn, I totally believe that I could leave them untucked. But I can't do it. My tidy nature rebels. (Why doesn't my tidy knitting nature ever rebel against the state of my housekeeping? One of life's mysteries.)

I had thought that I would finish the sock feet in some cream-colored fingering weight wool I had around, but when it came down to it, I couldn't find it (it turned up last night in a stash dive for dishcloth cotton). But I had this pink, and I remembered how there was pink in many of the Bohus colorways that you didn't see until you examined the work closely, so I thought it would be friends, as the children used to say to refer to colors that went well together. And it's very friendly indeed.

My preference is to knit toe-up socks, because I'm miserly with my yarn and like being able to fit as I go along. But I've knit cuff-down socks when I liked the pattern, so I knew what to do, and what I wanted: eye-of-partridge heel flap, plain foot, standard toe, in the number of stitches that I know fits my foot (which is, to my never-ending astonishment, fewer than most patterns call for. I don't think I have small or narrow feet, until I mindlessly cast on the number of stitches in a new sock pattern and look with dismay at the result.)

When first shown a pair of wristlets-as-sock-cuffs during class, I was struck by the odd shaping caused by the ribbing directly below the cuff, above the heel. But as soon as I got started, picking up the live stitches of the cuff and knitting a decrease row (which also made sure the colors didn't blend at the color join), I saw the necessity - the cuff is too wide, after going over your heel, to stay put. A little ribbing does the trick, and the sock is a normal shape when worn.

Turning the heel of the first sock was enough to make me realize why heel-turning is such a bugbear to so many. I've never had trouble before. It just takes a bit of concentration: I cannot stop in mid-heel, so I need an uninterrupted stretch of time. I had an entire weekend for the first heel, and I needed all of it and more. I cannot tell you how many times I re-did it. I would mess up the eye-of-partridge pattern, or inexplicably forget to slip the edge stitches, making picking up the right number later a trial. At least once I got to the end of the heel flap and began picking up stitches, forgetting entirely to turn the heel! You can see that I have safely turned the heel of the second sock before setting it down. It took more than one try, but not as many as the first sock!

I've since finished the gusset decreases and worked my way down the foot. The pair will be finished and tucked away for winter by the end of the weekend, despite the fact that I set it aside to knit an entirely other project from start to finish last night. It's okay: they were only set aside, not tidied away.

P.S.  I knit a little bag for my camera out of dishcloth cotton while watching the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympics last night. You get neither a picture of the work in progress or the finished object, because my camera has gone to New Jersey for a week. I hope it has a good time.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Birthday Tea

When a knitting store opened up in my neighborhood last year, I was thrilled to finally be able to toss "my LYS" into a conversation. That they had a Club Card program was just the icing on the cake. Birthday cake, that is, because every year club members receive a gift card on their birthday! Since I was in my LYS (hee!) a few weeks before my birthday (and that's another story - soon!), I knew what to do.

I bought a skein of yarn for my birthday. It was squishy and soft-like-a-bunny, and its pretty colors sang to me. I brought it home, and before I could even take a picture of it for my stash on Ravelry, it was wound up, cast on, and halfway to being a shawlette, jumping several projects diligently in progress. Things slowed down a bit at the finish, because, despite having a 400-yard skein, I didn't have enough to finish the pattern as written. I tinked back until I had both a good stopping place AND enough yarn, and did an EZ sewn bind-off. This was maddeningly tedious on that many stitches, but gave me the nice stretchy edge I needed. Blocking was a cinch in this weather (although surprisingly, lots of color went down the drain in my wet-blocking). And here it is:

Pattern: Afternoon Tea
Yarn: Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Prairie Rose, from The Knitting Boutique

Now it's packed away until autumnal breezes arrive!