Sunday, July 6, 2008

She was wise, subtle, and knew more than one way to skin a cat.

I haven't been challenging myself much knitting-wise lately, Reader; I've been waiting for the right project and contenting myself with miles and miles and miles of stockinette for socks. It's soothing, but not exactly productive in the right way if you've already got almost more pairs of wool stockinette socks than you need for a Jersey winter and certainly more than you need for a Jersey summer. One of these days, though, I'll post about the sock yarns I've used; I've done enough now that the comparison might be a useful one.

Above is a pair I finished a couple of weeks ago out of Opal Hundertwasser, colorway Der Blaue Mond. The way the yarn worked out--complementary if not identical--was mostly an accident, but I kind of love it. The thing about Opal is that it's pretty unpleasant until you wash it--like, not terrible and not scratchy, exactly, but not a bucket of joy to work with--but it's durable, and I fully intend to be wearing these socks at the End Times.

More interestingly: I completed an Alan Dart toy cat pattern with the fussiest finishing I have ever done in my life. The pattern is total genius--I set out looking for something as realistic as possible I had to knit the thing twice because I was also teaching myself basic intarsia wrong and I made a less-than-stellar yarn choice. The yarn was Berroco Comfort DK, which is a good acrylic, but it's acrylic and splitty. It would have sufficed if I hadn't also needed to redo the intarsia, but I couldn't make myself do it unless I had some other incentive, so I switched to Ultra Alpaca Light. Now, I love Ultra Alpaca generally, though it drapes too much to use for a lot of things, but the off-white is just wonderful--I never wear white and would never gravitate to it as a color, but in alpaca it's creamy and looks like it would spread like butter. It was a pleasure knitting with it on this project.

The finishing, though: gross. I need to learn how to do it properly. I just kind of made it up as I went along, which meant there was a lot of redoing of seams. I think it turned out basically all right--certainly better than I had thought it would. I had to do a last minute substitution on the eyes, so the cat looks perpetually startled. I wound up using felt for the mouth and nose--I've never learned to embroider--and I think it works okay. She was named Esme by her new parents, and sometimes I get pictures of her adventures.

Lastly: another pair of socks, 3X1 rib. I did the first sock maybe a year and a half ago and decided that I may as well do the other earlier this summer while I was in such a productive sock-mode. The problem is that I had written down, in various places, three different needle sizes and had no idea at all which was the correct one. This wouldn't have mattered so much--a 0 and a 1 and a 1.5 only vary by .25mm each--if I hadn't been using a variegated yarn that pooled absolutely dreadfully. The picture at left is of the first sock. I didn't take a picture of the second, but just imagine the foot of the first sock, only going all the way up. The pooling doesn't bother me so much--I never knit matching socks, so whatever--but I loathe the way the yarn pooled on the second sock. I wanted the tops to have the same variegated and the feet to have the same flashing, and no amount of playing with needle sizes was going to give me that. I think this yarn--it's Jojoland Kaleidoscope--was the first hand-dyed yarn I ever bought, and I didn't know a thing about hand-dyed yarn and only a little about my own color preferences. I didn't think to consider, for example, that how a yarn looks in the hank doesn't tell you how it's going to look knitted up--and of course there's no real way to find this out, either, without knitting it up; but now I know enough to know that wow, orange is really not my scene, even if it is a rich autumnal orange and even if it looks lovely mixed into purple and green and blue. Despite all my smack-talking about these socks, though, I do kind of love them, the way we all loved troll dolls for awhile: they're ugly as hell, but charming when you get right down to it.


Rachel said...

You are magic. Even when using yarns whose names remind me of slang for female body parts.

Susie said...

...or skein a cat!