I'm talking about my beloved LYS. I mean, really, how could I not love a place where I walk in, and people all greet me by name, ask how I'm doing, and then ask (this is brave) what my conference paper is about, and listen to the answer. Seriously. My students don't do that.
The downside to having a place like that in an almost direct line between my job and my home is the ongoing temptation to go there. I honestly don't go there as much as I'd like to, mostly because I'm trying to budget both my time and my money better (it's not showing, by the way), but it always makes me happy when I do. It also always makes me spend money, because these folks know yarn. I don't think I've ever seen a yarn store of this size with this range of yarn, not to mention the way the folks who work there (hi, guys!) are always willing to get involved in a discussion of pattern and color choices. And even to look something up on Ravelry to be sure there haven't been any changes since the pattern was printed (which really saved my tush on the latest new cast-on). And they know what I like. This place is better than Cheers.
So, in my quest to be ready for three days of conference knitting, I headed in. I came out with more than I'd bargained for (are we surprised?). What I really wanted was more yarn to make another pinwheel blanket for me and my couch. Deb and I played with color combinations for a while, and we agreed that this was exactly what I needed, even though the only yarn in the green color I wanted is a lighter weight than the rest, and I'll have to knit that part with two strands held together. I can live with that, because how happy is this blanket going to be?
I'm in love. I'm barely holding off on casting on by the skin of my teeth.
Because, have I mentioned? I am in the middle of a case of galloping startitis. I have run a total mok.* While I was there, I also bought myself three balls of Kidsilk Haze to knit the Cardi Cozy from the latest Mason-Dixon book. And I cast on. (As if I don't have enough on the needles already. At last count, three second socks to finish, a pair of mitts, Rick's sweater...) I'd thought that it might be good conference knitting, as it's mostly in stockinette, but I was afraid that the cables and the fine and slippery nature of the kidsilk haze might thwart my desire to be able to look like I'm paying attention to speakers' papers, so I decided to try it out at Older Daughter's first orchestra concert on Thursday night.
First, let me say that there is no way that there are not going to be a number of dying cat moments in any string orchestra's first concert, especially given that fully half of the members of the group picked up their instrument of choice for the first time in August. That said, they did better than I'd feared, and Older Daughter was very pleased with herself for getting through the whole thing; she'd been extremely nervous. I can also say that my fears about the nature of this particular knit were well-founded; it's not something I can do without looking at what I'm knitting at very frequent intervals. So, I took it along, but saved it for airplane knitting.
I like the idea of this sweater quite a bit, and I think that once I get through it, I'll wear it a lot (and who can complain about a sweater made entirely from three balls of kidsilk haze?). But there are some features of the pattern that I'm not fond of. I did change the yos that were in place along the raglan line, since they looked to me like a runaway dropped stitch. I'm using m1 increases instead, which creates a subtler line. The pattern is also written so that the body is knitted in one piece, but the sleeves are knitted flat and then seamed. I can't quite see why, so I'll be knitting them in the round, I think (which decision necessitated another hasty run to Yarning For You on Thursday to get dpns; I somehow was living under the delusion that I'd make it to a sleeve sometime this weekend). I would think that the seams were for structure, except for two things: this yarn is so light that it's not going to weigh itself down, and the body isn't knitted with seams for structure, which rather puts paid to that hypothesis.
Meanwhile, I still had the problem of what I was going to knit during everyone's talks. I decided that the thing to do was to knit a sock, but none of the second socks I'm working on were going to do the trick, as I couldn't knit them chartless. I needed something else. So, out came the yarn that I bought last summer when I was in Berkeley for a sock idea I've been wanting to try for a while, and I cast on for those on Friday morning on the plane (a 6:30 am flight, shudder). I finished the first one on Sunday during the last round of talks I attended, and cast off.
(Older Daughter is sock model.) This is the Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks yarn, a 50/50 merino/tencel blend, and I adore it. Madly, truly, deeply. Seriously. I'm going to be getting more of this to make something lacy, and maybe some mitts, and maybe more socks. In this colorway. It's much richer than this photo shows (I'll keep trying), and the color changes kept me in endless raptures, going from deepest purple, to green, to a lovely sepia and back again. Happy happy. It's the forest colorway, and you can't have any, because it's all MINE.
Sorry. The other thing I like about this yarn, from a sock knitting perspective, is that the skein is divided into two equal hanks. So I could safely knit this one toe up as far as I wanted to and not worry about whether I'd have enough for a second sock. I imagine that would be useful for knitting a shawl or scarf with a provisional cast-on from the middle, too.
What I really wanted to try with these socks was an idea for a different sort of toe-up heel than I've seen before, although I'm sure that everyone else out there has done this, and I'm just behind the times. I've been contemplating it for a while, spurred on by some thoughts I've had as I've knitted top-down, and by some things that other people have said about how nice it is when there's something cushy under one's heel.
So I knitted the heel exactly as I would have for a top-down sock, except I was knitting toe-up. This puts the slip-stitch heel flap under the heel, and the turned cup in the back of the heel instead of the other way around. I actually quite like the way they feel on the foot, although I would have turned the heel around more stitches, had I been thinking clearly, but I was already trying to work out how to maintain a four-stitch slip-stitch column up the back of the leg; I reduced the gusset stitches around that column instead of at the sides of the foot, which I think made for cleaner lines.
I don't know if you can see there, but there appears to be no gusset at all, even though there is. Then I branched travelling stitches out from that central column, around the front, where they met and crossed, and back around to the back of the leg. The crossings were rather messy; I need to work that out better, but all in all I like the way it turned out.
Things I'd change: I'd increase for the toe faster at first for a wider toe box; turn the heel around more stitches for a slightly wider heel; do a neater job of the slip-stitch column at the bottom of the heel; and I need to work out some neater crossings for the travelling stitches. I'll work on all of those on the second sock (when I get to it), and then we'll see if I need to rip this one out and try again. I don't think I will; the changes will be fairly subtle, but as I love this yarn so much (did I mention?) I want these to be socks that I will wear and wear and wear.
Meanwhile, I'll be working on Rick's sweater, which proceeds. With luck, I'll be on the sleeves by tomorrow.
And I'm going to try to finish plying my first bobbin of the Sanguine Gryphon roving.
That's it plied; I think I may have achieved something close to fingering weight at last...
I realize that I haven't talked at all about my weekend, which was fine. My talk seemed to go all right (no one laughed, and no one shook their head vigorously), and I got to go to Grace Cathedral to walk the meditation labyrinth, which is always good for my brain for weeks afterwards. But I need to stop now so I can get some grading done before writing my Thanksgiving shopping list.
Tomorrow: the new yarn on my counter, and the need for A Plan.
* I literally heard a man say this, describing his teen-age daughter, on an interview with NPR several years ago. It made me happier than I can say, because there's nothing better than watching linguistic change in progress. In the end, his reanalysis makes absolute sense; this is the same process that leads people to say "that's a whole nother problem". And lest anyone begin the head-shaking, people-today commentary, I should point that that this is the same process that led to the older change from the word "napron" to "apron". "A napron" was reanalyzed as "an apron"; "napron" was once, if I recall correctly, related to "napkin", and, now that I come to think on it, probably to "nappies" as well (this is also where the nicknames
Nan and Nancy came from Anne -- mine Anne becomes my Nan, and Bob's your uncle, you've got a new name). As a further aside, this is also why the English word "orange" does not have the "n" on the front that the related Spanish word "naranja" does. Here endeth the lesson.