Friday, February 27, 2009

I am mindful of the honor...

... of being a Sockateer, in more ways than I can put in words.

I spent today "bundling" yarn with Tammy, who tried to teach me how to tell (without actually picking up the yarn) how to tell lightweight from mediumweight from heavyweight STR.

Okay, heavyweight is simple: it feels heavier when you twist it into bundles. (I may be slow, but I'm not completely clueless!)

I'm struggling with feeling the difference between lightweight and mediumweight. Yes, yes, there are different "ties" on the skeins before they're bundled (lightweight has "fluffy" ties, mediumweight has ties that don't take dye so look more-or-less white) -- but once they're on the table, tie-less, I struggle.

So what, that today was my first day bundling yarn? Cut myself some slack? Learning curve?!?

SOMEone is going to knit the yarn that I (wait, what? ME?!?) bundled today. (Thank $WhomEver that I have nothing to do with dyeing or design!)

SOMEone is going to assume that it's the correct yarn, with the correct label, and (I hope!) looks like a proper skein of BMFA Socks That Rock! when they see it.

If you purchase Tina's yarn any time within the next, oh six months, and think anything negative, please have a second thought before you blast BMFA.

It's probably my fault, made on my first day as an official Sockateer.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Gauge? What's that?

The Bohus sweater, frogged because (in spite of swatching) gauge was too small and I need to go up a needle size:

The Climbing Vines Pullover, frogged because (in spite of swatching) gauge was too large and I need to go down a needle size:

Some days it's hard to see progress!

Or, maybe not. Here's where I was a year ago, finally leaving New York to move home:

On Wednesday, I…
drove through:
… 2 1/3 tanks of gas,
… 4 states (NY, NJ, PA, OH) and have landed in a fifth (IN),
… (over) the highest point on I-80 east of the Mississippi (2550′, I think. whee.)
… multiple snow flurries, though nothing worth bothering to flinch,
… 12 hours, and
… waved at Linda and Ellen as I passed through…
and I’m still in the same flippin’ time zone! SHEESH!
Tomorrow I’ll drive s’more and won’t wait until 9:30 before I eat my dinner sammich (yay, Panera!)

All best,
asleep! (aka Jen)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wait, WHAT?!?

(I seem to be saying that a lot, recently...)

I knit. I sometimes forget how much of "me" is a knitter.

My (German immigrant) grandmother taught me to knit long ago. My first project was a "potholder" -- if trapezoids can be considered "square". My second project was a blanket for my Barbie doll's horse -- if a stuffed animal can be considered relevant to Barbie.

My third project was mittens for my sister. Four needles, knit-in-the-round, and (because I lied) she thought they were for our adopted-into-the-family cousin. To this day, I remember the look on her face when she opened them at Christmas. The mittens were hers, and knit with love.

Time passed, sweaters are knit, socks are knit (bless you Joanne Marron, wherever you are, for reminding me about socks!), quilts were pieced and quilted, other crafts were crafted, and more time passed. Knitting was always there... not always the foremost craft, but there.

Eventually sanity returned -- and knitable yarn returned -- and life improved. I frankly don't remember what caused me to splurge on my first skein of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock, though I suspect that it was the Yarn Harlot's rant about the epic Tina-and-the-bank struggle (which Tina-the-incredible won, lest you had any doubt).

Y'know that saying about, "if you try this, you'll never settle for anything less"? BMFA STR. I'm the prime example. There have been times (I freely admit it, and have told Tina, so it's not a surprise) when I've had serious doubts about colorways and patterns. And every blasted time (I'm so NOT a pond scum fan) I've been impressed.

More time passes, I move home to the Pacific Northwest to a job I love, and (because I work odd hours) end up volunteering to help Tina, her staff, and the Sockateers with the de-stash sale, and eventually, sock club shipments. There may have been EEEvil brownies involved, but they were an honest "thank you" to the folks who produce my favorite yarn and intriguing and interesting colorways.

Side note: I'm JustJen on Ravelry. Several weeks ago, there was a thread speculating on the January Rockin' Sock Club shipment. Some posters seemed to assume that the pattern was by Sivia Harding and would involve beads because beads weren't an expensive treat. Being the subtle sort (stop it!) I posted:
- - -

True, they’re not expensive. Frankly, that’s not the point. The beads would get weighed. And then… what?

Poured into teeny zipper baggies? Hugely time-intensive. (The moo cards were so fiddly that the Sockateers convinced Tina that they were a Very Bad Idea.)

Poured into the bag that contains the yarn? People will complain because they have to catch the beads as they’re flung across the room whilst winding yarn from their swift.

Poured into the pattern package? The whole point of that package is that the pattern stays flat.

Poured into the shipping bag/box? Complaints because the pattern calls for 230 beads and I only got 317!?!

Nope. I agree with Nartian and tapmouse2. Some things are reasonable for a small business. Some aren’t.

And, parenthetically, all of this – as far as I’ve seen – is pure speculation. No one promised a beaded pattern. Heck, I don’t think anyone actually promised which designer came with the January yarn!

- - -

And so it amused Tina hugely when I showed up to help with the January shipment and Sockateer Tammy showed me that there are teeny beads that need to be scooped into 2000 teeny baggies. Cat Bordhi showed up to work on Sock Summit, and bagged for a while, too. Tina took pictures, and said her amusement would end up on the RSC blog after everyone had their yarn.

A couple of days later, I got to work again with Tammy, Hot Flash, and the BMFA folks. It should be noted that, when I saw the January shipment yarn, I had to swear on the head of the chicken that I would keep RSC secrets, and then dance to make it Truly True. Embarrassed? Nah. Frankly, I was just hoping that I'd do a good-enough job that Tina would let me come back!

ALL of that leads up to the point of this very long post: I'm thrilled beyond words to be a new Sockateer. I'm seriously amused to disover this by reading the RSC blog -- which led, yes, to me emailing Tina with "Wait, WHAT?!?" email.

Seriously. How weird is it, that I'm excited to volunteer to work without pay to spread the yarny goodness of BMFA! (Apparently, it's not all that weird. I called my sister (she of the third-project mittens and multiple sweaters, socks, and mitts since) and, half-way through the build-up, she exploded, "You're a Sockateer?!? Wow!!" Thanks, Sis!)

p.s. I was at the Knit Night / Sip-n-Stitch / knitters who meet in Haggen's food court / PDX bloggers / whatever it's called last night. Tammy-the-Sockateer was there. Apparently she (and the others) voted (unanimously, according to Tina's response to my panicked email) me in. I hadn't read the blog yet, so had no clue. Seems appropriate, somehow, since Tammy was involved with the surprise! beads! episode :-)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Swatches Lie!

I was just grumping at the PDX-Knit-Bloggers about lying swatches when the "why" clobbered me.

I started a navy blue Bohus cardigan last Wednesday at Knit Night, and commented that it was going to be my first adventure in steeking. Several gracious people offered support and, frankly, I figure I'll deal with it when I get there.

The cardi starts with cabled ribbing -- 3.5" of it -- so I was going on faith in my accurate swatch that I was getting gauge. Eventually (thanks to waiting four hours for new tires on Friday) I had enough above the ribbing to actually measure... and found that instead of getting 4" to 20 stitches, I'm only getting 3.5". This sweater is going to be way too small if I continue on.

And I suspect that the reason why is because I knit the swatch flat, and I'm knitting round. Sigh.

So, pictures for posterity before I rip this out and start over:
(I do like that ribbing!)

And the CPH that I should be seaming up? I actually started to do it today, but then realized that I'd better block the button bands while the body was still flat -- so that's where that project is:

(color not even close to accurate!)

Shall we try this again?

I'm beginning to feel guilty. I read about other people's projects, get ideas, try new things and, although I'm not at all confident that I've got anything of value to contribute, give nothing back. So I'm going to try this "blogging about knitting" thing again.

That said, I did re-learn (for the umpteenth time) something today: when you use the kitchen sink to soak hand-knit socks, it's wise to use the correct plug so that the water actually stays in the sink. Yes, it's true. After 20-ish minutes, I returned to a sink containing socks with a light froth of bubbles on top -- but no water. (Hard to "soak" with no water...)

I finished two pairs of socks this week (don't be impressed -- I didn't start them this week!): the January club socks and a pair of my "stupid" socks (the socks aren't stupid; I can knit them when I'm feeling stupid) in STR Smokey Blue.

I pretty much followed the instructions for the club socks, and am thoroughly delighted with the cast on. JC Briar taught us the tubular cast on at camp last year, but she taught us so many brilliant cast ons that I forgot how much I liked this one. I added an extra repeat to the leg, and stopped the beads just above the heel. Very, very pretty!

I seem to have started a new sweater before sewing up the CPH (perhaps declaring it here will prompt me to actually do it?), which is pretty dumb 'cause I'd like to actually wear the sweater.