Monthly Archives: August 2012

WIP Wednesday: Too many things on the needles!

It’s official: I am knitting too many things simultaneously, and as a result, I seem to be getting very little accomplished.

Solemate Sock-and-a-toe

Solemate Sock-and-a-toe

First, there are the Solemate socks that I started for the Ravellenic Games. I finished the first sock and cast on for the second, and then I got distracted by the felted slippers. Yep, Second Sock Syndrome has hit hard here.

And then there are the afore-mentioned Felted Slippers, which I have now knit twice. I am hoping that the third time is the charm, but honestly, my track record here is pretty bad, so I’m wondering what’s going to go wrong this time…

Scalloped and currently sleeveless...

Scalloped and currently sleeveless…

The Scalloped Lace Toddler Cardigan is still waiting patiently in my knitting bag. And the toddler in question needs me to finish this soon, especially because then I can work on the other project I had planned for her this fall, a cabled sweater jacket that will hopefully carry her through those cooler fall days.

Cathy Sweater-in-progress

Cathy Sweater-in-progress

And then there is the Cathay sweater, for which I took the Tahoe sweater from Knitty as inspiration and then proceeded to change every single thing except the original yarn. (Yeah, I’m a pain like that.) I knit it at a slightly tighter gauge, added bust and waist shaping, added sleeve shaping, and plan to finish off the yoke using Elizabeth Zimmerman’s seamless set-in sleeve. Which reminds me, I still need to spin the yarn I plan to use for the trim around the neck and buttonband…

And those are just the projects that are currently in progress. I’ve also got swatches for the cabled sweater for my daughter and a cabled vest for me.

I either need more knitting time or a 12-step program…

Advertisements

I felt bad

So… about those slippers I made for my daughter… The first set I made was a bit too small, but (since I had a large amount of Patons SWS in my stash) I decided to knit up another pair. I finished this pair while we were on vacation, despite having to improvise a bit on needle size. They languished in my knitting bag while I was catching up on our post-vacation laundry, but yesterday I pulled them out and decided to do something about them.

Slippers, Version Two

Slippers, Version Two, Pre-Felting

I felted the first pair in the sink. It took a loooooong while, but I finally got them to felt up. In fact, they felted up a bit too small! For the second try, I decided to do something different and try felting in my washing machine.

We used to have a top-loading washing machine. When I made slippers for my son, I used it to felt them. I could open the top and check out the felting process as I went along. Worked like a charm. But then that washer died, so we got a new high-capacity, high-efficiency front-loading washer. For everyday washing, it’s great. Low water usage, gentle on clothes, yadda yadda. But for felting? Hmm. I read on Ravelry that you could felt in a front-load machine, but that it took several cycles. So I put the slippers in and selected the highest-temperature wash cycle. This machine is electronic, so instead of setting the time/temperature/etc. manually, you pick the type of cycle and the machine adjusts accordingly. Again, great for everyday washing, but a bit tricky for felting. The highest-temperature cycle is also the longest cycle, but the washer is so gentle on clothes, I thought it would be okay. (You’re laughing and rolling your eyes now, aren’t you? You should be!)

Rumor has it that you can open up a front-load washer during the cycle and the water level will be so low that it won’t spill out. I tried this out once and got suds all over my laundry room floor, so I wasn’t about to try it again. I threw in some towels and turned the washer on. When the cycle was finally done, I fished out the bag with the slippers in it. They had felted. In fact, one of them had felted closed in the middle of the foot! And everywhere they had creased in the washer, they had felted into a lump. So I had two small, lumpy, misshapen slippers, only one of which would actually hold a toddler’s foot.

Felted Slippers, Take Two

The too small, the too lumpy, and the too much like a coaster

Yes, I’m going to knit her another pair. In a bit. I’m still feeling a bit grumpy now though!

Pack your knitting first

Today is the first day of school here. My son is grumbling and packing up his new school supplies, but like many moms, I’m looking forward to the start of the new school year. Especially since my youngest will be attending preschool for two mornings a week, which means that I will have two whole hours to myself, two mornings a week. Yes, my first stop will be at my LYS. How did you guess?!

The last couple of weeks have been crazy. In addition to all the back-to-school errands, we snuck away for a family vacation (from which I brought home a lovely stomach flu souvenir, sigh). We made our annual pilgrimage to my parents’ vacation home on a lake in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. It’s a lovely, peaceful place. We sleep in (well, as much as the kids will let us!), take long walks, and go swimming and canoeing. My husband and son did a lot of fishing in the lake and caught enough keeper-sized fish for dinner one evening.

I, of course, brought plenty of knitting to keep me busy while our youngest was napping. I had the second Solemate sock to finish, as I had gotten distracted from my Ravellenic project by the felted slippers for my daughter. The first pair of slippers were a bit tight on her, so I cast on for a second pair, which I brought with me. The project I most hoped to complete during the week was the Scalloped Lace Toddler sweater, but at the last minute, I also threw in the Cathay yarn I’d purchased for a Tahoe sweater. I didn’t want to be caught “under-yarned” as the Yarn Harlot says!

The key words in that last paragraph are “at the last minute.” I’m the chief packer for my family. My husband packs his own clothes and the fishing gear, but I’m in charge of pretty much everything else. This means that I pack clothes for myself and the kids. I pack toys and activities to amuse them. I pack the not-insignificant amount of gear that you need with a toddler. I plan the meals we’ll eat and decide what we should take with us and what we can buy up there. There’s no washing machine, so we pack our own sheets and towels, plus beach towels, etc. You get the point; it’s a lot of stuff. And I’m always worried about forgetting something vital, so I made lists and triple-checked them. So the end result is that, although I thought about what knitting projects I’d want to take with me, I didn’t actually pack any of them until the morning we left.

I realized my first mistake before we’d been on the road an hour. I pulled out the slipper I was working on and discovered that, since I’d been working in the round, I had two different size tips on my circular needle. Which wouldn’t have been a big deal except that I was ready to begin working the heel flap, which is worked flat. D’oh. I contemplated changing the tips around at the end of every row and decided I’d rather just poke myself in the eye with one of them. I dig around in my bag and came up with an empty size 6 circular needle. I was using a size 11 (8mm) needle for the slippers, so I figured I could make two wraps for each stitch on the size 6 (4mm) needle and come up with the same approximate gauge. A size 5 probably would have worked perfectly, but I made do with the size 6, as the slight gauge differences will vanish in the felting process.

Once I’d finished the slippers, I reached for my next project, the scalloped lace cardigan. I carefully removed the waste yarn from the sleeve stitches and put them back on the needles. Then I picked up stitches from the underarms and resumed working in the round. I worked up to the point where I needed to work the first color, and then I reached in my bag. You guessed it; I had every color but the one I needed to use first. Another d’oh!

I worked on my sock for a bit, but I was really craving a larger gauge project that I didn’t need a magnifying glass to handle. (I really missed my knitting chair at home, which has a convenient reading lamp just over my right shoulder.) That left the Cathay sweater. For this project, I had actually remembered to bring both the yarn AND the needles I needed. Thank goodness! I was able to knit a second swatch, calculate all my stitch counts, and cast on for the bottom hem. I had a nice chunk of knitting time in the car on the way home, and have been making good progress in the evenings since then. Now that school has started, I might even be able to sneak in a bit more knitting time during the day. A girl can dream, right? Of course, I still need to finish the Scalloped Lace Toddler Cardigan, now that I’m home with my missing ball of yarn…

Think of me as your public service announcement: If you’re planning to travel, pack your knitting projects first!

The best laid plans….

I finished my first sock. I’m pretty happy with it, but I’m going to make a few tweaks with the second sock (make the toe and heel a tad narrower, make the gusset a bit smaller, and make the cuff at the top a tiny bit tighter). I was all set to cast on for the second sock when a little munchkin stole my sock and put it on. (It came up to her thigh.) When I tried to get it back, she pitched a fit and refused to give it back, insisting that she needed a sock, too. So what’s a mom to do?

Well, first I tried to distract her by offering up a store-bought sock. She’s no dummy, though, so that approach was doomed from the git-go. I had no choice by to grab some pretty sock yarn and cast on for a sock. Only that wasn’t going to turn into a sock fast enough for my munchkin, so we went to Plan C:  Felted slippers.

Before felting, on foot

They’re a little big, Mom…

A few years back, I knit up some super-quick socks for my son and felted them in the washing machine. Sweet kid that he is, he looked doubtfully at the gigantic socks I’d made and said, “I love them! They’re a little big, but that’s okay, Mom.” He was pretty surprised when they felted down to fit him. 🙂

Slippers, before felting

Before

The munchkin was equally skeptical about the slippers, but she did think the splashing about in the sink part was pretty fun (we have a new front-loading washer, and I wasn’t sure I could felt them enough in there). They actually felted up a bit too much, so I have a feeling I will be knitting up another pair soon. That’s okay; they are a seriously quick knit. I knit up the first slipper while watching the Olympics Friday night and knit up the second Saturday night.

Slippers, after felting

After

I actually felted them a little too much. (Who knew? Score one for elbow grease!) I also used a short-row heel without adding a gusset, so it’s a bit of a squeeze to get your heel in. (I’ve been kind of obsessed with them lately, so I slapped one in there without thinking about it too much.) Felt slippers usually stretch a bit, though, so I think they may be okay in the long run. I still need to paint the bottoms with some puff paint to make them a little less slippery.

Now, about that second sock for me