Sunday, September 30, 2007

Socktoberfest: thinking about handpaints

Recently, Greta_Jane has been asking me for commentary on what makes a good match between handpainted yarn and sock pattern. Predictably, whenever I've seen her lately, we've been too busy with everything else to pull out socks and ponder patterns. Not to mention that it wasn't yet sock weather. Now that sock weather and Socktoberfest are here, though, I've been thinking about this question of match between pattern and yarn, and I thought I'd try to pull together a few thoughts on the blog.

Looking at the socks I've knit over the past couple of years, it seems there are a few factors I consider:

1) Plain vanilla stockinette socks
I choose these when the yarn is something special, when I want the colors to carry their own weight, or if I just want an easy sock to travel with. I also tend to choose stockinette when the yardage seems likely to be too short for a complicated pattern (as is often the case with the Jitterbug - the two bright blue socks).

Trekking #100 socks Fleece Artist Autumn socks Colinette Jitterbug socks Blue Colinette socks 4

2. Socks with ribbings
Ribbing seems to work well since the strong vertical lines counterbalance the horizontal effect of the handpainting. It's also usually easy to memorize, is stretchy, and fits well, all good combinations.

Conwy socks FO: Cable and rib socks Garter Rib Socks.JPG Mock Cable Wave Sock.JPG

3) Things just go together!
Stylistically, this is my favorite option: when the pattern moves in such a way that it itself highlights the changes in the yarn, and the variegation of the yarn emphasizes the movement in the pattern:

Cherry Tree Hill Feather and Fan socks Monkey sock detail.JPG Gentleman's Fancy Socks.JPG Embossed Leaves detail

Some patterns are just too intricate for self-striping. Knitty's Hedera strikes me as one example that really needs a solid-colored (or mostly solid) yarn.

What guidelines do you, readers, follow when pairing sock yarn and sock pattern?

Friday, September 28, 2007

Waiting patiently for fall

I've been waiting for a day like this. Cool breeze, sunny, blue sky, a few leaves dropping and dancing down from the trees. Fall is really here! This week, we baked acorn squash and stuffed it with a rice/almond/parmesan cheese mixture, and we also baked a pumpkin and chocolate chip cake. They were supposed to be bars, but it came out more like cake - very tasty!

This week I finished one knit, came close to finishing another, and started one more. I couldn't help but take pictures on what turns out to be our new, giant mum, just now showing its color. Here's a new sock, the Mock Cable Wave sock from Favorite Socks. The yarn is Lorna's Laces in the Tuscany colorway - and yes, it's another holiday knit.

Mock Cable Wave Sock.JPG

The Garter Rib socks have just one portion of a toe to go; I expect I'll finish those later tonight.

Garter Rib Socks.JPG

And finally, the Irish Hiking Scarf, done minus the blocking and weaving in of ends:

Irish Hiking Scarf FO.JPG

Pattern: Irish Hiking Scarf
Yarn: Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran, color #416, 2 balls
Needles: Size 8 (ie, treetrunks!)
Reflections: This was a destash project. If it weren't, I probably wouldn't have chosen such a scratchy yarn! I'm hoping it'll soften up once I block it, closer to the actual holiday season. For now, I have enough yarn left to make a hat-brim, with a coordinating yarn for the body of a hat. One holiday present done, several to go! Ho ho ho!

(By the way, I think I'm in love with that giant, beautiful plant.)

While patience has brought me fall and finished objects, it hasn't brought yarn. All week, I've been assiduously checking The Loopy Ewe, waiting for what they call a "sneak-up."* While a sneak-up came, it didn't bring with it the yarn I've been coveting! So I checked the website even more obsessively. Maybe there'd be another sneak-up? No. Sheri's blog now says that they waited-for yarn will be up the week after next! Since I don't even know whether or not they'll have the desired colorway this time around, I feel a bit silly doing all this waiting. I mean really, just how obsessed can one really get about yarn? ... I'm not actually sure I want that question answered about myself. Because then I'd be even more scared than I already am about this particular obsession!

Tomorrow, Coffeeboy and I are going hiking way up on the Parkway, to see if the leaves a couple thousand feet farther up are turning more than the leaves at 2,200 feet. Either way, I'm sure I'll have pretty pictures to show you for next week!

*This isn't meant as a criticism of The Loopy Ewe. I've used them before and have been very pleased with their services. I realize (mostly) that yarn store owners have lives outside their stores... but that hasn't stopped me from being obsessed!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Harlot in Atlanta

This past week, I traveled to Atlanta to visit my friend, "Greta Jane" over at Ivory Needles. The timing of the visit, of course, was September 19th - the Yarn Harlot coming to speak!

We waited in line with lots of other knitters, bravely ignoring that one had to wait outside and beside and virtually inside a Ben and Jerry's to get to the theater.

Knitters in Line.JPG

GJ was lucky enough to get on the Harlot's blog.

She'd brought three first socks with her, all for different pairs and none of them finished, which quite amused the visiting sock-knitter. (Stephanie was particularly amused by the giant Fuzzy Foot sock). Myself, I was just pleased to see the famous sock photographing and to make my own (largely botched) reciprocal attempt.

DSCN3707.JPG Yarn Harlot & Sock.JPG

The rest of the week in Atlanta I spent reading, meeting GJ's grad student peeps, gathering books, and hanging out (with knitting, of course). It was so very much fun to get to interact with grad students! I hadn't quite realized how much I've been missing that. It was great to talk about my research, their research, their classes, their quibbles! I know that the people I currently live among are very nice - but they're not the same.

The other exciting event of the week occurred the following day, when Barbara Kingsolver came to speak about her new book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, about a year of eating locally in a place not too terribly far from where I now live. She and her husband read selections from the book, answered questions, and got me sufficiently interested that I bought the book in the very long book-signing line and started reading it later that night. I'm looking forward to reading more, but as the Yom Kippur hunger grows (since Coffeeboy isn't eating, and I don't want to eat in front of him while he's fasting, I've been [mostly] fasting, too) I find that I really don't think I can read it right now!

I need to get a bit of writing done this weekend; I might go attempt that now and see how that fares on a rumbling tummy and a sea of questions.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


*Insert excited noise as an email downloads to my computer and I see its subject line:*

"frecklegirl has invited you to Ravelry!"

Yay! Ravelry! Knitting procrastination, here we come!

I'm glad I turned in that dissertation proposal earlier today! (Well, it's not done, but a sustantial draft is done.)

Find me there as "Lazuli" (go figure...)

(As for those of you with hundreds of spots left to go, it could happen any day now. I was pretty sure when I checked a couple of days ago that there were 350-odd people ahead of me, and the pop! I was on.)

Big catch-up post

Has it really been over two weeks since my last post? Goodness. Time flies when you're having fun and working hard! I might have to resort to a bullet-esque post, a la Sheepish Annie:

Labor Day weekend: Much fun! Greta Jane at Ivory Needles came up for a visit, so Coffeeboy and I showed her the sights. I think she might have planned on a little more knitting time. Instead, we went to an Apple Festival (which didn't have enough apples, IMHO), wine tasting (really not very good wine), eating (The Laughing Seed, again) and listening to music in Asheville, hiking off the Blue Ridge Parkway, blueberry picking, talking, cooking, knitting, etc. Possibly the best part? She found me an excuse to see her AND a ticket to see the Yarn Harlot in Atlanta next week!!

Mountain blueberries.JPG

Dissertation proposal: Last week I sent my advisor a 2-page overview. He wrote back saying, essentially, looks good but vast, show me more. So since sometime last week I turned those 2 pages into about 24 pages of actual dissertation proposal. I was aiming for about half that, but the longer version turned out to be the only way I could articulate myself at this point. But yay! I have an actual draft of a dissertation proposal done! This is excellent!

Libraries: I am very impressed by the ILL service at Coffeeboy's college. They get things here really quickly, which has proven quite beneficial over the past two weeks.

September weather: It's cooling down a bit, more towards the lower temperatures these mountains are known for: low 80s, 70s. I haven't quite felt the first breeze of fall, but it will come, as evidenced by this tree we saw on our recent hike:

First fall foliage, 2007.JPG

Knitting: Oh, you mean frogging and floundering and flourishing? Because there's been a little bit of all three these past couple weeks. Remember the shawl with the psychedelic colors? Frogged. I decided (with a little help from Greta Jane)it was just too psychedelic, after all. Instead, I'm looking for the perfect woodsy, earthy combination of blues, browns, and greens. Any suggestions?*

Frogged yarn.JPG

The socks? Floundering (well, a little bit). One is done, but another pair has yet to make it onto the needles.

Socks in progress.JPG

But what about flourishing? Well, I decided that a male someone is going to receive a (modified) Irish Hiking Scarf for one of the winter holidays.

Irish Hiking Scarf.JPG

As you can see, I've been enjoying knitting cables on size 8 needles. Oh, the treetrunks! They fly so fast! Here's one ball of yarn out of two, almost all the way knit!

Phew! There you go! I think I'm all caught up, for the moment!

*I have something rather specific in mind: sky blues to deeper blues, forest greens to sunlit greens, dirty brown to the browns of tree trunks, with maybe the whites of clouds peeking through, dyed in such a way as to look nice knit up into a shawl with a leaf motif.