Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Brilliantine Socks - Finished!

The second sock went very quickly, and I'm happy to say that my tension control is back to normal, so they are the same gauge.  I didn't quite manage to start the second sock at exactly the same place in the color cycle, so the stripes are a little off, but not much.

The whole thing got me thinking about gauge and how we control it.  I am always seeing people comment on Ravelry that "they are a loose knitter" or "tight knitter" as if they have no control over it, when, in fact, they do.  I used to be a loose knitter because I didn't control my yarn.  I let it hang loose between stitches, which of course led to loose tension in my knitting.  Now I tension it by wrapping it around the fingers of my right hand - over the index finger, under the middle finger, over the ring finger and then once around the pinkie.  Since I've been doing that I get very consistent tension, and with main line patterns can usually get gauge.  I don't always get gauge with the independent designers, but I think that is due more to the vagaries of their knitting, rather than mine.

Tight knitters might have more of a challenge, but I know that when I consciously tried to loosen my knitting on the second sock I succeeded, and ended up with a bigger sock.  I have also always thought that tight knitters must be stressing their hands.  Perhaps the best advice is what I learned when I took fencing in college.  You want to hold the hilt of the sword gently and in a relaxed manner, as if you're holding a little bird.  Too loose and the bird will fly away, too tight and you will strangle it.  I think the same can be said of knitting needles, or crochet hooks for that matter.  In fact, I even hold both knitting needles and crochet hooks in the same basic manner that I used to hold a fencing sword.

Oh, and remember that little twirly flick of the blade that you see in movies that disarms your opponent?  It works.  I did it during my fencing final.  Quite by accident.  Or maybe I was just channeling my inner swashbuckler.

Pattern:  Basic Toe-Up Sock from Custom Socks by Kate Atherley
Yarn:  Biscotte & Cie Felix in Brilliantine
Needle:  US 1 (2.25 mm)

Monday, December 28, 2015

Brilliantine Socks - One Sock Finished

I finished up most of the first sock on the drive down to Florida (St. Augustine) on the 23rd.  It was a horrible drive down, raining until we were half-way through South Caroline (or Slow Carolina, as we took to calling it, because of the traffic).  I finished up the ribbing Christmas Eve, and then went back to working on my test knit, which I also finished on Christmas Eve, except for the bind off.

The second sock, however, has been giving me fits.  I am now on my third go at it.  The first go my gauge was too tight.  Bruce attributed it to my migraine, I thought maybe the stress of travel and visiting may have been responsible, but now I think it was the extreme humidity making my hands stickier.  I finished the foot and laid it next to the completed sock and was shocked to find that it was noticeably smaller, so I ripped it back.  I worked on it on the drive back up (far more pleasant than the drive down - although the south bound traffic was heavy for most of the way back) consciously trying to be more relaxed in my knitting and loosen up my gauge, only to find when I go to the ribbing that I had loosened up too much.  The second sock was a good quarter-inch longer!  I ripped back to the ankle to redo the leg and when I picked my stitches back up and counted to make sure I had the right number on each needle I discovered, much to my chagrin, that I had 29 stitches on the top of the foot, one stitch more than I needed or wanted.  So I sighed a sigh, pulled the needles back out and ripped all the way back to the beginning, again.  On the bright side, I do have the pattern memorized.  I am hoping that third time will be a charm.

Pattern:  Basic Toe-Up Sock from Custom Socks by Kate Atherley
Yarn:  Biscotte & Cie Felix in Brilliantine
Needle:  US 1 (2.25 mm)

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Brilliantine Socks - One Foot Finished

I cast on another pair of socks after finishing up the Carousel Socks.  I have 8 skeins of the Felix Self-Striping yarn in my stash and have decided to knit them all up into basic socks.  I work on them when I don't feel like working on anything else.  They make a great car project.  I have a project bag just for my socks that Carol Perrenoud makes.  The strap hangs perfectly on the door handle of my Element.  As a safety precaution I do lock the door just in case the bag gets tugged so I can't accidentally open the door as we're going down the road.
Here is a not so good shot of the first foot.  It is a dreary day here.
And here is a shot of the other skeins of my self-striping Felix, all caked up and ready to be turned into socks.
I went ahead and made project pages for all of them so all I have to do is update them when I start working each one.  Unlike my other two skeins these ones have no color names on them.

Pattern:  Basic Toe-Up Sock from Custom Socks by Kate Atherley
Yarn:  Biscotte & Cie Felix in Brilliantine
Needle:  US 1 (2.25 mm)

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Lothlorien Cape - Finished!

Kelly of The Unique Sheep dyed me an extra skein so I could finish my cape.  I sent her a length of yarn from my last skein so she could match the colors.  I think she did a phenomenal job.  I, however, underestimated the amount of yarn that I needed to finish, but not by much.  I ran out just after finishing the turning row on the collar.  Fortunately I had some Tinsel Toes in a similar color.  I held it double and was able to finish the collar.  If I knit it again (and I have another set of yarn for the pattern) I may go down a needle size.  I like the drape, but the reverse stockinette sections seem a little loose, and I am not a loose knitter.  I don't know if that is the influence of the silk.  I did go down a needle size when I knit the collar.

I haven't decided what I'm going to do for a closure yet.  The pattern suggests a frog closure, but I might use a necklace clasp instead.  I need to look at what I have in my stash, and also online, and see if something speaks to me.

Pattern:  Lothlorien Cape by Susan Pandorf
Yarn:  The Unique Sheep Wild Thing in Summer's End
Needles:  US 6 (4 mm), US 5 (3.75 mm)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Carousel Socks - Finished!

I finished the first sock the weekend before my father died, and knit most of the second sock on the drive to Yellow Springs and back.  Simple socks were really the only thing that I could manage at the time.  I've cast on another pair in another skein of Biscotte self-striping yarn.

Pattern:  Basic Toe-Up Sock from Custom Socks by Kate Atherley
Yarn:  Biscotte & Cie Felix in Carousel
Needle:  US 1 (2.25 mm)

Col. John Hazen Blakelock (1922-2015)

A week ago yesterday we laid my father to rest in the Glen Forest Cemetery in Yellow Springs, Ohio.  It was a nice ceremony.  The weather was chilly and rainy, which seemed fitting.  The only family member missing was my oldest sister, unable to travel on such short notice.  My father died on Tuesday, November 24.  I was at work when my Mom called, she couldn't really speak, but no words are really needed at those moments.   We sang Amazing Grace, and my sister Liz played "The Gary Owen Jig" on her piccolo and there was an Honor Guard (he was in the Air Force), and the Air Attache from the Pakistani Embassy and a Lt. Col. stationed at Wright Patterson.  Both were graduates of the Pakistani Air Force College of Aeronautical Engineering, which my father established during our time in Pakistan.  It was founded in 1965 and he was the first Dean.  We were there long enough to see the first class graduate.  They just celebrated their 50th anniversary and I'm proud to say that they maintained the standards that my father established.  It is one of the finest schools in the area.  The Chief Air Marshall of the Pakistani Air Force sent a beautiful wreath, and later called my Mom to make sure that everything had gone as he had directed.
This is me and my Dad in the surf at Hawk's Bay in Karachi, where we had a beach house.  We went there a lot on the weekends, and I loved falling asleep listening to the sound of the surf.  We would watch the sea turtles come in and make their nests and lay their eggs, and when their eggs hatched we would help the baby turtles make it to the sea.

As I grew older my Dad and I remained close - I was always a "Daddy's Girl".  He helped me with my homework and we went to movies together.  When we went to see "Raiders of the Lost Ark" he dropped popcorn down his shirt during the spider scene and almost threw the entire bucket into the air.

The other thing that we did was build bookshelves.  I was always a reader, especially in high school and college, devouring science fiction books.  We started out making regular bookshelves.
These hold science fiction books in the bedroom.  But at some point Mom recommended that we make book boxes, which we did, cannibalizing a number of shelves in the process.  This wall display is all book boxes made from cannibalized book shelves, again holding science fiction, and on the bottom shelves mysteries.  The boxes are backed, and have lids, so when I moved I would simply pack the books into the book boxes.
My non-fiction library needed bigger book boxes.  We made them in two sizes - 12" x 12" and 12" x 18" and I stacked them like bricks in book towers two boxes wide.  When my husband and I combined our libraries I set them up in an expanded configuration, to obtain as much shelf space as possible.
And yes, my books have labels on their spines just like the library, and just like the library are shelved according to the Library of Congress card catalog.

My Dad was a good man, who lived a good life and led by example.  He taught me to be a good engineer and that if you're going to do something, you should do it right.  He was a simple man with a gentle soul.  After he retired he would feed the critters in our back yard and all the animals learned his routine and would be waiting for him, unafraid.  When a leopard frog moved into my Mom's greenhouse and ate its way through all of the bugs they got a cricket house and raised crickets for it.  It would take cricket's from his fingers, resting a front foot on his hand as it ate.
When I got my MS degree he came to the graduation breakfast and we got this picture, the last picture of the two of us together.  He taught me that character and reputation are really all that you have, and how to live my life with honesty and integrity.  I know that I will always miss him, but I feel so blessed that he was my father.