Sonnet Stitches

Knitting, mostly. With occasional kvetching, lots of adventures, gratuitous cat photos and a healthy appreciation for the absurd.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Famous last words

Sunday night. The phone rings. It's Jo.

"It seemed like a good idea at the time," she said.

"What did?" I asked, somewhat warily.

"Well, when I bought them, I thought I was going to use them together so I..."


"Can I borrow you and your ball-winder?"


Jo had some white lace-weight alpaca. Jo also had some pink lace-weight alpaca. She decided they should mate. (This is where, were I planning ahead, I would have inserted a picture). However, the white yarn had filed for divorce from the pink yarn, and she needed an extra ball winder and an extra arm to help them divide their assets.

"Are you sure this is going to work," said I.

"Of course! I've done it before. No big deal."

So, she took the white end, I took the pink end, and we started to crank:

All went well for about, oh... 30 seconds. But then the pink yarn decided it wasn't going to allow the divorce after all. As the yarn came out of the ball, it twisted in on itself, curling up like a little marled pig's tail, and would not be separated.

We tried winding it towards ourselves. We tried winding away from ourselves. We tried winding opposite each other. Still: Overtwistedness.

Jo struggled to pull it apart.

Did I mention alpaca is fuzzy. Sort of like velcro.
Eventually, there was nothing for it but the scissors, and the offending bits were sacrificed to adorn the menacing red eyes of the Cat Goddess:

We started over:

"There is some fundamental law of physics that we must be violating," I decided. The yarn comes out of the cake separate, then twists on the way to the ball winders, no matter which direction we crank.

Jos, as you know, are not good at numbers, except in the vague abstract - picas. Pixels. Numbers of columns, pages in a section. Jos don't do physics.

"Somebody with a rudimentary knowledge of mathematics would walk in here and say 'You two are dumbasses,'" Jo agreed.

"We are dumbasses."

Alejandro, as we were fighting the fuzz, got tired of all this math talk, and decided that we needed to be rescued from the giant sweet-smelling cotton candy cobweb that was tightening like a noose around His People:

At this point, Jo completely flipped her biscuit and began to shriek "GO AWAY!!!!!!!!" at the top of her lungs, but she could not spare a hand with which to beat off the cougar attack for fear of re-mating the yarn.

The spouse, of course, rather than come to our aid, sat on the couch and laughed at us and took pictures.

Jo had an epiphany. "Does this have to do with Z twists and S twists?"

"Yes," I agreed, feeling smug and smart that I had thought we knew that all along.

"Oh," she said. "Maybe we don't need a math genius, we just need Teri."

At that point, our attempt at manfully fighting through the tension hit a small snag. As in, the cone from Jo's ballwinder popped off the crank and launched itself straight at my face.

It stopped being amusing after the fifth time.

The Cat Goddess received another burnt offering.

The yarn kicked and screamed until the bitter end, but eventually we prevailed.

After the salvageable pieces of each ball were knotted and/or spit-spliced together, Jo casually mentioned that she had brought another ball of mated yarn in her knitting bag, and by the way, it happened to be mohair.

We decided to let it remain in its purple halo of wedded bliss.

Even the Cat Goddess deferred to this wise judgment.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

The sunny side of life

There is an absolutely stunning shawl on page 93 of the latest issue of Vogue Knitting.

The rest of the magazine will make an attractive lining for the litterbox.


Um, FYI. . .

...if some random person leaves a note in your flickr account on a picture of socks you recently completed, and if said person says they would like to include your picture in a group for sock pictures...

... check to make SURE it is not a sock fetish site before you click the OK button.

(I say this because 90% of the recently added pics were feet posing in handknit socks, and I'll bet most of the heads attached to those feet have no idea what strange appetites their G-rated koigu creations are inspiring.)


You've got a pink kink in your think

Jo's Fair Isle Hat
Originally uploaded by tjstein
It all started with a skein of aubergine Brown Sheep at Amber's shop. And then it collected some friends before it went home.

I did it top down, starting with an invisible cast-on, so while it is, sadly, pointy on the top, it's also extremely smooth. I tried not to jack up the speckles at the increase points, but in retrospect I could have planned better. The fair isle band is from an Alice Starmore book I borrowed from the guild library. I picked it because it fit the stitch count I had when the crown was done. Usually, when I do colorwork, the floats are too tight and I have something that looks like it survived a hailstorm, so I tried to compensate. Well... I overcompensated, and ended up with a really big hat. I frogged the ribbing but didn't want to frog the fair isle, so I borrowed some advice from The Late Great Elizabeth Zimmermann (we need to come up with a gesture to make or a chime sound every time her name is invoked). She says if your sweater turns out too big, you re-knit the ribbing at the bottom, sleeves, and ribbing at a tighter gauge, and then you will be much happier. So I decreased, hiding the decreases in the ribbing, and then I went down to a size 3 (yes, on worsted-weight yarn), switched colors, did another inch of ribbing, hid some more decreases in the ribbing, and did a sewn bind-off. Now the hat is still big but it stays securely on my head.

The Other Jo thinks it needs a pom pom to hide the point. Amber likes the point. I got a couple of other votes at UFO Wednesday for tassles. I have an uptight coworker who would go absolutely ballistic if the tassle included a jingle bell. What's everybody else's opinion?


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Art imitates life imitates

I have a vacation story I forgot to tell.

Our tale begins (picture it) on a Thursday afternoon during our week in New York City last month. We were on our way back from an almost perfect day here. I was sitting on the train with my water bottle next to me, and I was alternately looking out the window and knitting a really cool black and grey brioche scarf I forgot to take a picture of before giving away. My spouse was sitting across from me, with his backpack full of seashells on the seat beside him, reading a comic book. Er, excuse me, graphic novel. (I have to say that, you know, because comic books are kid stuff and graphic novels are art, which means, from what I gather, that they're allowed to have more sex and violence than regular comic books). When he got to the last page, he began to snicker. This happens quite often while he's reading comic b-- erm, graphic novels, but then it lengthened into an incredulous chuckle, which continued for about a minute, punctuated with expectant glances in my direction.

Finally, I dutifully looked up from the top of the scarf I was knitting, and said what I was obviously being cued to say: "OK, honey, What are you laughing at?"

He flipped the book around to show me, and, I swear to Maryland, it was this:

I immediately stuffed my knitting back in my bag and started checking the train car for cameras. And stray monkeys. Because you never know.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

I did warn you it was bright

Amber took this picture a couple of weeks ago at MisKnits' UFO Wednesday. I knit these one each on separate circs, toe up, one from each end of the ball because I was too lazy to split it, and kept going until I got to the middle of the skein, a la Lady and the Tramp.

I love the magic cast-on. It makes me happy. I'm not sure I love these socks, because they pooled in strange ways and, in all honesty, you've seen my wardrobe - with what will I ever wear these? Still, they are seriously comfortable. They're also rather tall, but I wanted to make sure that no part of my white leg was exposed to the camera, so I artfully arranged the cuffs of my pants. I did a modified twisted rib (knits were twisted, purls weren't) so it stretched wide between the knit columns, and also, as The Other Jo pointed out, I get ridiculously huge gauge on US 1s. The sock is a 54-stitch circumference.

Also: No idea who owns the tie-dyed Crocs. The cheap pink flip-flops are actually my shoes. Usually, on Wednesdays after work, I go to spinning class at the gym, shower, and then put on some amalgamation of what I wore to work that day before heading over to Amber's shop. That day I was too lazy to put my blazer and grown-up shoes back on, so there you have the flip-flops and slacks. We tend to invade Amber's shop (or, at least, Jo and I do) with all of our junk like it's our dorm room. (Sorry, Amber!)

I have two other pairs of socks I haven't photographed yet, but they may have to wait. I'm kind of addicted to a fair-isle hat I'm doing out of Lamb's Pride, and it's all I can do to get up from my Alice Starmore charts to take a ravelry break.