Tour-de-Fail

I’ll admit: I knew this would happen. Signing up for both Tour-de-Sock and Tour de Fleece which co-occur over June & July… there was no way I’d keep up with both plus regular life. No way, especially since it’s summer when I limit my inside-sitting-down-time. My 3rd TdS sock is about where it was on Friday, with some more of the foot done. I’ve decided not to even cast on the 4th TdS pattern because it involves about a million beads and I’m just not that interested in it. I’d much prefer to finish one of the pretty pairs I’ve already begun. And my Tour de Fleece spinning? Well…

I forgot. Totally. In my mind, the thing started July 1st. Nope! I’m 2 days behind before I’ve even started! To make it worse, the last half of June was so rainy I have yet to get around to washing my first fleece, which consitutes a portion of my TdF goals. Since it’s my blog, I reserve the right to amend my goals:

  1. Spin for at least 15 minutes every day (which I will begin tonight!).
  2. Finish two skeins (8 oz) of gradient-dyed BFL from June Pryce Fiber Arts on my wheel.
  3. Extra-special-gold-star-challenge: Wash, process, and spin 1 oz of wool from my first fleece.

That’s still a hefty 9 oz of spinning to finish over the next 3 weeks so I’ll be very happy if I complete it.

Would you like to see why I totally forgot about the TdF this past weekend?

Love. That. Shirt.

I was too busy fawning over spending quality time with my nephews, Liam and Logan, 2.5 years and 2 weeks old, respectively. And with those adorable faces, can you blame me for forgetting to spin?

The teasing can never start too early.

😀 I miss the little boogers already!

Summer Lovin’

This, folks, is what summer is all about.

Under-a-tree sitting, stitch dictionary browsing, design ideas brewing, sock knitting, audiobook listening (preferably anything written by Orson Scott Card and read by Stefan Rudnicki), and ice cream indulging. I call that a perfect afternoon. Yesterday was a very rare Sunday where I had no pressing deadlines, no prior plans, and no Fiasco around to entertain. So I woke up and banged out the mundane housecleaning tasks early and just enjoyed a few hours to myself.

That sexy sock heel you’re lookin’ at is the hard won result of those few hours of concentrated knitting. I’m working on the third pattern of the Tour-de-Sock but I did not think the original heel (a Native American style eagle) really jived with my color choices, so I changed it! Not only is this my first real intarsia (when you use blocks of color in the middle of a row and don’t carry it across the whole thing), it’s my first shaped intarsia and the first intarsia design I worked out for myself… needless to say, there was considerable trial and error. But I sure do love the results even if they took effing forever! Since I worked so hard on the chart for this heel I’m thinking of incorporating it into a sock design… someday. Sigh. I need more afternoons for dedicated, concentrated knitting! They are certainly too few and far between.

Hope your weekends were lovely!

Keepin’ It Loose

Happy Friday, everyone! I have nothing finished this week because my knitting time was practically nonexistent, but I do have a little progress to show!

BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight, colorway Melusine and some Bugga in Blue Lobster for contrast.

That is the beginning of the second Tour-de-Sock pattern, Chicane Socks by Debbie O’Neill. I debated earlier in the week whether to knit the second sock of the first TDS pattern and (obviously) decided to start the new sock. For one, I’ll take almost any excuse to start a new project, the beginnings of projects are my favorite parts. For another, I feel less guilty about all my stash yarn when more of it’s currently in use. And finally, by the end of TDS I’m going to have a pretty difficult time ignoring all of the gorgeous half-finished pairs of socks lying around, so the motivation to finish them should be strong minus the feeling of repetition that sometimes happens when I knit one sock right after the first.

This was my first time knitting any sort of colorwork that involves a significant number of floats on the back of the fabric (those long strands of yarn you see there). I was pretty anxious about keeping them loose since carrying the unused strand behind the work tightens up the fabric and in a sock that needs to stretch over the heel, that’s not great. In fact, a sock with a too-tight-cuff is pretty much the worst thing ever. To help prevent this I went up a needle size, cast on more stitches than I usually use with this yarn (72 instead of 60-66), knit CRAZY LOOSELY especially when going from the end of one needle to another (give the float a little tug with your fingers after you knit the next stitch so it doesn’t snug up too much between DPNs), and I elongated the ribbing and shortened the leg overall so the colorwork part would hit lower on the calf when worn, which works better for my short and stout legs… in theory. I have no idea if any of that will help yet but the fabric seems like it has a decent amount of stretch so here’s hoping!

Anybody have some good colorwork tips? I think the third TDS pattern is going to involve much more colorwork so I’m all ears.

Finished! Sort Of.

While there were gads of people who finished their first Tour-de-Sock pair of socks within a few days of beginning, I’m pretty dang proud of finishing just this one sock within 9 days:

BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight, colorway Bleck

Not bad for a week and a half of interspersed knitting! The pattern is The Secret Fan by Adrienne Fong. It has just a little bit of beading but most of it is pretty straightforward knits, purls, and twists. The heel was pretty neat, eye of partridge surrounding normal slipped stitch heel patterning that flowed nicely into the fan on the back.

The toe instructions were somewhat unclearly written but I have to give props for how neatly the toe decreases resolved themselves into a centered double decrease, forming a perfect inverted V.  I love when a designer pays attention to such details. This sock also had gusset decreases on the bottom of the foot, which was new to me but I don’t think I like it any better than having the gusset decreases nearer the instep, I don’t really notice a difference when worn.

Now, my dilemma: try to knit the second sock of this pair ASAP or move on to the second pattern of the TDS challenge? Chicane Socks by Debbie O’Neill is next up, involving a bit of colorwork and lots of little cables:

Copyright Debbie O’Neill

That pair is supposed to be done by Wednesday, June 19th. Besides the usual impediments to my knitting progress (a.k.a. work and life) I also have a very good friend visiting this weekend (who is not a knitter, sadly) and the yarn I want to use for the socks is not yet wound (and without a ball winder, that’s slow going). So, really, there’s no chance in hell I’ll be able to finish that pair and probably not even the first sock in the next 9 days. That said, it was pretty fun trying to finish one sock by the deadline. I didn’t quite make it, I’ve been a day behind the whole time, but why not try, right?

How’s that for talking myself into then out of then back into a plan, eh? What would you do?

WIPWed #28: It Has Begun

Tour-de-Sock has officially begun… and as of this posting, 48 people have already finished their pair of socks. FORTY-EIGHT! Finished pairs! In less than 4 days! Insane. Absolutely insane.

BMFA Socks That Rock Lightweight, colorway Bleck

But hey, I’m on the third repeat of the leg of the first sock and I’m done with the beads for now! Not half bad, eh? The pattern is The Secret Fan by Adrienne Fong. I like the idea of the beads as an accent on just the one fan. I’m using slightly larger beads than called for, though, and think they look a little wonky (6’s instead of 8’s). Hopefully it’ll look better on the leg!

BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight, colorway Budding Twig

I haven’t shown off my Budding Lintilla shawl in a while, check out that progress! The pattern is intended to be knit with any amount of yarn, you just start the final ruffle when you have 25% left. However, my shawl didn’t seem long enough at that point so I am knitting to the end of my ball and then will do the final ruffle with leftovers that some kindly Ravelers are sending to me. (I love Ravelry.)

I also got this, which isn’t quite a WIP yet but will be someday:

My first fleece!

At the farmer’s market over the weekend they were doing a sheep shearing demonstration on four Southdown sheep… and one of the fleeces came home with me. Woops! I’ve never washed a fleece before but the ladies in my spinner’s guild made it sound so easy… we’ll see. 🙂 All that wool is currently residing in my shed stored in paper bags, after airing out some of the moisture from the heat of the day/being on the sheep, as pictured above.

I think it’s neat that you can see where the dirt stopped penetrating into the wool in each lock.

The locks are relatively short-stapled and fine and have a springy feel. I think it’s going to make great yarn (but what do I know, really) once all that dirt is washed out… I’ve ordered some mesh laundry bags and some drying racks and then will just need to wait for a free weekend at home (with good weather) to get this thing done. Honestly, the washing will be easy compared to the endless carding and spinning that will follow! Oh boy. Here we go.

Planning Is Just As Good, Right?

No. Not right. Planning what to knit might be pretty fun, but it is still not just as good as actually knitting. Unfortunately, planning is all I’ve had time for this week. Still, I think it’s a pretty good plan.

L to R: Sock A, Sock B, Sock C plans

The patterns for the Tour-de-Sock are still a mystery (JUST TWO MORE DAYS, YAY!) but they did give some hints of what supplies would be needed to achieve each challenge so we intrepid knitters could prepare. Being probably 70% composed of BMFA Socks That Rock, my sock stash is pretty wild color-wise and many of the patterns suggested semi-solid or tonal skeins, so choosing was actually pretty tough. Sock A suggested a semi-solid with 15 grams of contrast color (uh-oh, colorwork) and I’ll decide which accent to use when I see the pattern. The yarn is STR Lightweight in Melusine and the contrasts are Bugga leftovers. Sock B suggested semi-solid or tonal with about 500 beads of 2 different colors (YES, 500). I have no idea if I have 500 beads there but they’ll have to do. The yarn for this is STR LW Rare Gem Water. Sock C suggests yarn with stripes or a long color change/gradient, so I thought my new BMFA BFL Fingering in SasSwatch might work nicely (and I’m itching to try the new base).

L to R: Sock D, Sock E, and Sock F plans

Sock D just required solid or semi-solid yarn and I couldn’t decide between these skeins. I’ll probably end up going with on that has already been wound but these are Bugga in Northern Purple Gold Beetle, STR LW in Tempest, and the full skein is Bugga in Ruby-Tailed Wasp. Sock E required solid yarn and about 50 matching beads, for which I will use STR LW in Bleck and some gunmetal-colored beads which don’t quite match but look great with the yarn. Finally, Sock F requires 50 grams of one color, 50 of another, and 15 of a third (more colorwork!!). These little bits of Skinny Bugga in natural, Blue Ringed Octopus, and Ghost Moth should do nicely! We’ve been informed that Sock E will be the first challenge, which is sweet because it’s already wound (lazy much?) and I’m excited to see what’s going on with the beads.

Thanks for the lovely wishes about my new nephew… but he’s still forthcoming so I didn’t get to meet him on my trip back home. Poor SIL was in the hospital for 2 days and has been contracting for over a week but the little tyke just doesn’t seem ready to come out yet. Hopefully soon! In the meantime, here’s a happy photo I wasn’t sure I’d ever get to see happen. That’s my current nephew in the middle and my pending nephew in the belly on the right:

Isn’t he a cutie? Now back to life so that eventually I can get back to knitting!