Socksgiving

My Rick socks are done! The pattern is from Cookie A’s Sock Innovation book, which came out last year & I highly recommend it. These were great to knit, because the stitch pattern was easily memorizable and also totally logical — you don’t need to count rows on the leg after you get the hang of it, because you can tell just by looking at your stitches what you need to do next. So it’s very easy to pick up and put down, and excellent social knitting because you don’t need to be consulting a chart or worrying about losing your place. My only complaint is that the toe is really pointy and shorter than I like; after knitting the first one and trying it on I decided to rip the toe out and knit 5 rows plain before starting it again to give my toes a little more wiggle room. (And then, of course, I copied this plan for the other sock.)

The yarn is String Theory Caper Sock, and I absolutely adore it. It’s springy, sturdy, and soft, and the dye job is phenomenal. The colorway is “Mars,” a blend of reds and pinks that unfortunately I think is no longer available. What I love about the dye job is that there’s no pooling at all; as you can sort of see in the picture above, the sock ends up looking sort of speckled on top, and stripy on the sole. In fact, as you may remember, I love this yarn so much that I bought a second skein of it in turquoise that I’ll bust out one of these days. FYI, it’s definitely on the heavy side of fingering weight — I needed my leg a little wider than the one in Cookie’s pattern, and using the heavier yarn made that happen without my having to add extra repeats of the pattern.

I’m visiting my family in New Jersey for Thanksgiving, which has been nice and relaxing. I knew I’d finish these socks early in my visit, and since I don’t have the yarn for my big red blanket yet, before I left on my trip I cleverly cast on for a Tudor Grace scarf, yet another pattern by Anne Hanson. I knit on it while watching my cousins (2 and 6 years old) all afternoon and evening on Thanksgiving; here’s my progress so far:

Isn’t this yarn gorgeous? It’s the second of the three skeins of Malabrigo Sock that I bought back in September — the first became my Damson shawl. The colorway here is Rayon Vert, which is a deep dark purple with occasional flecks of green. I bought the skein with the least green on purpose, because frankly I’m more into the purple, but the green does add some interest. I’m liking this pattern a lot; it’s just a six-row repeat with no lace patterning on the wrong-side rows, and I think the rustic texture of the lace pattern makes a nice counterpoint to the smooth prettiness of the purple yarn. I’m sure this yarn would be fabulous in some slinky, swooping, leaf-lace pattern too, but that’s not what I was looking for here.

Aaaaand since I’m at my parents’ house, I’m going to give you a totally gratuitous shot of my family’s dog, Max:

Isn’t that snaggletooth adorable? He was poking his little head into my sock photoshoot, but unfortunately my dad hadn’t figured out how my camera works in time to get a good picture of him with my socks — so I took this one a little later. He’s a cockerpoo, half cocker spaniel & half poodle. Unfortunately, my family is pretty firm that he doesn’t need any sweaters knit for him. 😦

Genius at Work

Pat snapped this picture of me while I was typing away on my dissertation yesterday. I thought you’d be amused to see some of my knits in action — but try not to look too hard at my gross, stained mug of tea. Around my neck is my Damson shawlette, and not-quite-matching on my arms are my Orchid Lace Mitts. If there’s one thing reading knit blogs has taught me, it’s that not-quite-matching is good enough for most of us, and that one of the easiest way to spot a knitter in the wild is to keep an eye out for people whose motley assortment of knitted accessories makes them look like they either just got kicked off Project Runway or else are just harmlessly crazy.

I knit those Orchid mitts a little over a year ago, and they were my first lace project ever, which is interesting to think about given how damn much lace I’ve knitted this year. I actually intended them to be “Dissertation Mitts,” so here they are doing their job — my desk is in front of a window that I like to leave open even in the cold(ish) months of winter, but I have poor circulation and these things help my hands stay warm while I type. I knit most of my lace shawls in the spring and summer, and you may remember some of my speculation about whether and how often I would actually wear them — well, I am pleased to report that now that the weather has turned colder, I find myself reaching for them regularly.

Now that my Christmas knitting is done, I’ve gone back to those Rick socks from Cookie A’s Sock Innovation book, and I’m getting close to done:

I apologize for the crappy picture; I’ll do a proper photoshoot when they’re done. But you can see that I’m past the heel on the second sock, and I’m really happy with how they’re coming out. I expect that I’ll finish them over Thanksgiving break.

I mentioned last time that I would be regaling you with tales of the beginning of my quixotic quest to knit a big red blanket for our living room, and I had hoped that I would at least have pictures of the yarn to show you by now, but alas. I think I’m going to hold off on telling you about that quest for a little bit longer, until I have something more to show for it, but I assure you it has already been an enormous pain in the ass due to my own anxiety, obsession, and crazytude. Let us just say that at one point, FOUR different $70+ orders of yarn for this blanket were out there in the world — I thought I would comparison-shop & return the batches I didn’t like — but I managed to cancel three of them and am now MERELY waiting for the yarn I have special-ordered from a store in NEBRASKA to reach me by mail. Genius at work indeed.

Mission Accomplished

I have officially finished my Christmas knitting, and well before Thanksgiving, too! I feel like I deserve a medal. That medal might be for “Most Realistic Expectations,” though — I could never have done it this fast if I hadn’t been aiming low, making hats for my male family members (which take less than a week each) and a scarf for my mom (which took 2 or 3 weeks). This here is a Koolhaas Hat for my dad, modeled by my very patient boyfriend. It is knit from Caron Simply Soft, because my dad is allergic to wool, and I’ve found Caron to be one of the softest, least objectionable acrylic yarns around. The pattern is wildly popular on Ravelry, with over 3800 projects — in fact, it’s the most popular hat on Ravelry if you don’t count Calorimetry, which is really more of a headband. This baffled me a little at first, since it’s not an easy hat by any means — there are an awful lot of pain-in-the-butt rounds where you have to use a cable needle every four stitches — but I figure its popularity must be due to the fact that it’s one of the few truly gender-neutral patterns that is still complicated enough to be giftworthy. The problem with male hats, as I discovered this holiday season, is that they’re either too plain to make very good gifts &/or to be worth knitting at all (depending on how well you can tolerate boring knitting), or they’re trying to pass off cables as “manly,” which only really works if you’re knitting for a J Crew model. But the Koolhaas hat really can be worn by a man or a woman equally well, and its intricacy shows the kind of care we’d like our knitted gifts to show. So I figure what’s going on across the knitting world is exactly what went on in my head: “okay, so this hat will be a pain in the butt, but it will look good and since it’s a hat it will be over soon.”

How cute is this picture? My one gripe with this otherwise exceptionally well-written pattern is that it doesn’t provide a stockinette gauge measurement. The gauge is only given in the lattice pattern, which is only charted in the round, so the only real way to check your gauge is just to start knitting the hat and pray, and check your gauge once you’ve knitted the whole bottom band and once through the lattice chart — aka, once you’re like 1/4 of the way through the hat. It helps that the stitch pattern makes the hat pretty stretchy, though, so when your gauge is off and you decide “fuck it, I’m gonna keep knitting,” your hat comes out pretty okay anyway. Ask me how I know. 😉

So yeah, in the absence of a gauge swatch, knitting this hat was a giant leap of faith. My dad has a pretty enormous head, and the pattern was only written in one size for men and one size for women (both of which have the same diameter; the only difference is depth), so I decided to go ahead and cast on an extra 8 stitches to do one extra repeat of the lattice pattern, figuring that my dad’s freakishly large head would need the accomodation. My first clue that my gauge was significantly off was when I got to the recommended measurement for the ribbing only about 80% through the recommended number of rounds for the ribbing, and when I had knit enough of the lattice pattern to check I got pretty worried. But I soldiered on, and ended up knitting the hat the number of rounds recommended for women rather than for men, because my row gauge was so much bigger than the pattern’s. And it’s come out just fine; the lattice is stretchy enough that even I can wear it with my normal-lady-sized head and it doesn’t feel too big, but it’s clearly got enough room for my dad’s head. (Pat’s head is slightly smaller than my dad’s, fyi.)

In other news, I have made two new knitting friends in the past two weeks! The first was “Fishnet,” of My Cup of Tea. She posted to a Cornell alumni board on Ravelry looking for a Cornell alum in Orange County who knits, and I raised my virtual hand. I’m probably the only other one of those in these parts, so I was happy to meet her. We went out for lunch, which was lovely, and it sounds like she’ll be coming to my knitting circle on Thursday to meet other academically-minded knitters. The other knitting friend is one who I “made” in the active sense of the word — I took my friend Katherine on a trip to Yarn Lady in Laguna Hills on Saturday to buy her very first yarn & needles. She was impressed by the friendliness of the people there and their willingness to provide help, so I’m hopeful that she’ll be joining the fold. We’ll be teaching her on Thursday, but I think I’m going to step back and have one of the knitters I taught last fall do the teaching. For one thing, I think someone closer to the beginner experience might actually be a better teacher — and for another thing, I’d like to give these new knitters the opportunity to experience the joy of teaching the craft!

Another crafty thing I’ve been up to that I keep forgetting to share with you is a beading project I did a few weeks ago. When I went to Michael’s to get supplies for my Halloween costume, I noticed that they were having a big sale on beads, and I got seduced by some pretty jasper. So I made these:

Beading is basically a tertiary hobby of mine — I’m inspired to make something maybe once or twice a year — but I’m beyond pleased with how this set came out. All of those stones are jasper; it just naturally comes in that range of greens, purples, and browns that I love so much and that matches so much of my wardrobe. And I’m also pretty pleased with my choice of spacers; I couldn’t decide between the smaller smoother ones or the larger knobbly ones, so I bought some of both and think that the combination is much better than either would have been on its own. Swoon!

Next time on Doublepointed: Some socks get resurrected, and I begin a quixotic quest to knit an enormous blanket before what passes for winter here in southern California comes to an end!

Botanic Prophecies Fulfilled

botanic1

I finished my brother’s hat at least a week ago — I think it was the day after my last post — but it’s taken me awhile to get around to weaving in the ends & photographing it. The Botanic Hat is reversible, and this is the side I prefer, since the ribs offer visual interest. I’m pretty happy with how it came out! My brother is the variety of 25-year-old male who started his own company with his friends because he hated working in an office and who goes rock climbing in his spare time, so I think this hat will be right up his alley. Here’s the other side:

botanic2

Overall I definitely recommend this pattern; it’s easy, and it’s cleverly designed. I didn’t have a 16″ circular needle in the right size, so I knit the whole thing on double-pointed needles, and that turned out to be a great choice. The stitch count is evenly divisible by 4, and there are ribs right at the ends of the needles which prevents laddering. Plus the crown decreases are spaced out so that they happen at the beginning and the end of your DPNs, so there’s no need to use stitch markers. Brilliant!

You may recall that last time, I showed you my sunflower sprouts and said that I was thinking about getting some more plants. Well, that prophecy has been fulfilled.  I was driving home from work on Saturday, and a little miffed about having to go to work on a Saturday in the first place (for one lousy appointment!), when I saw a sign for a plant sale at my university’s arboretum. It’s funny how putting an idea in writing can turn it into a reality — I don’t think I would have instantly decided to go to the sale if I hadn’t written that blog entry last week. I came home with these:

plantmolly

A Plectranthus verticillatus, and

plantamalthea

A “Dark Dancer” Plectranthus hybrid. They’re both hardy plants and well-suited to the dry weather here, so hopefully I won’t kill them quite as quickly as I did my last batch of leafy friends. Here they’re in the little pots they came from the arboretum in, but I’ve since transplanted them into some of the large ceramic pots that my last roommate left here when she moved — you can see one of those in the background of this second picture. But I don’t have any good pictures of these plants in their new pots, and I’m scheming to get little stands for them so they’re not quite as shaded by the sides of the balcony, so I’ll show you them again when they’re in a more permanent arrangement.

Just one more Christmas present to go! Stay tuned.