Monday, June 1, 2015

Sockghan Square 4

Vacation is looming, and I wanted to do a square based on Knitty's Inlay before I leave because this is not a road trip square.

The twisted stitch technique isn't difficult (it's similar to cabling, except instead of reversing the order of the stitches and then knitting them, you knit the stitches out of order), but it's not a "Hey, look at that!" kind of project. Car passenger knitting has to allow for lots of knitting without looking. I don't want to come home and find that my clearest memories are of yarn! So this is a no-go for actual trip knitting, but I was dying to see how it would come out as a square.

The sock pattern has a plain knit round that works as a purl row in the flat version, so it works just fine, but I'm not in love with how I spaced the pattern itself into the square. I'd like to do another one with a little more attention to fitting the pattern into the square less awkwardly. This will probably involve working it out at sometime that is not after 10pm. This is no more suited for bedtime planning than it is road trip knitting.

We leave in a few days. In the next post I hope to have a whole stack of squares to show off! 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sockghan Square 3

The easiest square yet is based on Hermione's Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder.

Other than purling the plain knit rounds, no modifications were necessary for this extra-simple pattern, which only requires the ability to count to four. Cast on 38 (32-stitch pattern plus 3-stitch border), knit three rows of garter, knit pattern until it seemed like the right size, knit three more rows of garter, boom.

This Sockghan thing is going so well that I don't really have anything to worry about here. So I've moved on to obsessing about something else.

Which books should I take?!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Sockghan Square 2

So far, this project is going swimmingly. The next entry is Cookie A's Monkey.

The original, well-loved Monkey sock.

Details: Berroco Vintage worsted, size 8 needles, CO 38 (32-stitch pattern plus 3-stitch garter border on each side).

This one was slightly more challenging to knit flat because, in the original pattern knit in the round, there's no plain knit round between the pattern rounds, so when knitting flat you can't purl back to the start and thus keep the pattern entirely on the right side. That meant keeping close track of when purling really meant purling and when it actually meant knitting, and vice versa—not a major headache, but something to pay attention to. I was also never able to find a satisfactory way to knit through the back loop in reverse (you'd think it would be knitting through the front loop, but nope), so the bottom of each V has a tiny unintentional purl bump that no one but me will ever notice. Well, and now you. Please keep it to yourself. Given that I'm going to need 54 squares and have chosen only 12 patterns, I'll get to practice this a few more times and hope to find a solution.

And boy are these fast! Like the Wanida square, this one also cranked out in about 3 hours over 2 days. Getting all the squares knit shouldn't be a problem. Seaming them together, on the other hand, will probably be my downfall.

I haven't decided which square to do next, but I'll try to pick something other than a Cookie A. Because it's not like I'm obsessed with her designs or anything. At all.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Great Sockghan Experiment of 2015: Square 1

Hi Blog! I missed you!

But yeesh, have I been busy with the earning a living thing.

I'm fine. The dogs are fine. The cat is fine. Perpetually angry, but fine.

Nothing much has struck me as worth a blog post for a while, but I thought it would be fun to tell you about my knitting dilemma and how I'm planning to solve it. Later this summer I'll be on a road trip that involves a couple thousand miles of road and several dozen hours in the car. How to fill the time when I'm not driving? Knitting, of course, but what? The criteria for a road trip knitting project are pretty simple: (1) It has to be small enough to fit comfortably in your lap. (2) You don't want to get bored with it. (3) There has to be enough of it.

So shawls and scarves and sweaters are pretty much out. Certainly socks are an option, but--and I hesitate to even mention it--I might be getting a wee bit bored with socks. I could get back to that mitered square sock yarn afghan everybody was working on a couple of years ago, but . . . no, I get bored thinking about hundreds of mitered squares, let alone actually knitting them, although the results of those who actually manage to finish them is always stunning. Crochet afghan squares? No, crochet for too long makes my wrist hurt, but afghan squares, now there's an idea. . . .

And it hit me: My favorite sock patterns, knit flat, as afghan squares. Knit square by square, the project is small enough for comfortable car knitting. Every square will be different, so boredom won't be a problem. And it's an entire afghan. There's no way I'll run out of knitting in 10 days, no matter how much time I spend riding in the car.

To my Ravelry Project Page!

Skimming through my Ravelry project page and simultaneous brainstorming reveals these possibilities, not all of which are actual sock patterns:
2x4s (a 2x4 rib)
Rock-a-Byes (a traveling rib from The Joy of Sox)
Monkeys (Cookie A)
a self-striping in stockinette
Hedera (Cookie A)
Sunday Swing (Knitty)
Diamond Gansey (Socks from the Toe Up)
Almondine (Sock Knitting Master Class)
Inlay (Knitty)
Hermione's Everyday Socks (Erica Lueder)
Wanida (Sock Innovation, Cookie A)
an Eye of Partridge pattern

Linking to each of these would take an age, and if you've read this far, you're a knitter who can find these patterns on your own anyway. I will link to Wanida, the first experimental square. Here she is:

I cast on 37 (the 33-stitch pattern for the top of the foot, plus a 2-stitch garter stitch border) in worsted Berocco Vintage on size-8 straight needles. I knit two rows of garter stitch, and then started the pattern (purling the plain knit rows, of course), knit it until it looked about square, knit two more rows of garter, and cast off. I blocked it to 8 inches square.

So it looks like the general principle of an afghan made of sock patterns is sound. Whether all of the potential patterns will lend themselves to afghan squares so easily I can't say.  At 8 inches square, I'll need 54 squares to make a generous 48" x 72" afghan. I may decide not to be so generous. We'll see. :)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Smart as Geese?

I took the dogs for a walk this morning because when it's a balmy 40 degrees at 8am on a Sunday in January, you and your fear-reactive dog DO NOT MISS the opportunity to go out at a time when no one else will be around. And no one was. We dodged a few cars, but no other humans or even a loose dog.

But this is not a dog story, although I have them to thank for getting me out the door. This is a goose story. While the dogs were stopped to pee on a leaf or something, I heard geese squawking directly overhead, and I looked up. A flock of 10 or 12 was flying southeast, almost directly into the wind. A little to the west of the main flock, two geese were flying apart. One of them was clearly struggling, and the second goose was coming to help. The second goose got in front of the first and tried to lead the straggler back to the flock, but the first goose continued to struggle and couldn't get turned into the wind. When the second goose realized the first was still flagging, it flew right back and positioned itself ahead of and just to the side of the first, where it would best block the wind.

At this point the dogs wanted to keep moving, but we stopped again half a block later. (I don't know what it's like in your neighborhood, but around here there are millions of leaves on the ground, and they must all be peed on. This Is Important.) So while the dogs were investigating, I looked back at the geese. The straggler and the helper had managed to make their way back to the flock. They were still apart and a little behind, but they were heading in the same direction as the rest of the flock. The one that had been struggling was flying more easily and wasn't going to be left behind.

I was struck with how lucky geese are to be born with the instinct to help each other. We humans have to be taught to help each other, and some of us never learn that lesson, or forget it in the rush to accumulate and the fear that someone else might end up with more. We wrap our selfishness up in platitudes about bootstraps and God helping those who help themselves, and we forget that when a few are struggling, the entire flock--ahem, community--is weakened.

So on this Sunday morning, I'm saying a little prayer that I can learn to be more like a flock of geese, a little less selfish and scared of people with struggles different than my own, and a little more generous with my heart and my resources.


Friday, January 10, 2014

Doggy Crack

Sweet Potato Chews, people. If you have dogs, buy a couple of sweet potatoes, slice them up in thick (1/4- to 1/2-inch) slices, and bake them at about 175 degrees for 12 to 14 hours (turning every 4ish hours), or until you get a good, chewy consistency.

You can buy sweet potato chews at pet supply stores, but the cost markup is truly obscene. As I recall, it's about $7 for a bag that probably contains one potato. At the grocery store last weekend, I bought four potatoes at a little over $1 a pound, or $4 and change for all four potatoes.

Sliced into thick chunks.
Shrinkage at 14 hours. (I call this one George.)
Happy Doggy. George is no more.
The financial investment is minimal, the time investment is basically slicing the potatoes and then checking the oven three or four times, and there's nothing wrong with a house that smells like sweet potatoes. And they're a bazillion times healthier than raw hides and other chew treats of that type. (Sweet potatoes do have calories, though. Don't go overboard feeding them unless you want a Tubby Terrier.)

Next week's experiment: Red Delicious apples.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Christmas Task

A wee bit of wishful thinking for Christmas:

The wind tears at my breath as I step outdoors, and I have to concentrate to breath. Exhaling's no problem, but inhaling, stealing a breath back, is a challenge. But as miserable as it feels, the noisy, fretful, wicked wind that drowns out all but the loudest noises and can cause untold and unexpected property damage is why I've chosen this night for what I'm thinking of as "The Task."

I raise my head and see it directly in front of me. My fist tightens around the steak knife I'm clutching like a dagger. I step forward out of the shelter of the porch and look up the street, scanning first one side and then the other. It's after 2 am; only tree limbs are moving. There are no lights in bedrooms or bathrooms. A car glides by on the cross street a block up, but I can't hear its engine over the wind. Good.

Then I'm running, and I can't hear the wind anymore, only my breath and my feet thudding across the street, up to the house opposite, and I raise my fist and drop the knife, slashing through the nylon fabric that tears, shredding more easily than I had hoped. And then I turn and run back, and am safe inside my own house before the inflatable Homer Simpson dressed as Santa has fully collapsed, never to curse our street again with his tacky, doofy grin.

I just hope next year they don't put up something worse.