Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Nancy Challenge

I’m toying around with an unofficial challenge, spurred on by Liz’s example. She had purchased 10 knitting and crochet books and vowed to make at least one project from each before the end of 1000 days. I keep examining the books I gained from Rachel, and I’ve earmarked several projects out of each. I don’t know if I’ll end up making one out of each book, and some books will offer several projects I want to make, but I think it will average to around that. And I certainly won’t limit myself to 1000 days – some of these projects are pretty intense and this may keep me company for lo these many years. Nevertheless, I think this is a fitting tribute to Rachel entrusting me with these books that were treasured and put to good use by Nancy, a gifted knitter. In the spirit of naming this undertaking, it will be aptly called the Nancy Challenge.

I started a child’s sweater out of Alice Starmore’s Celtic Collection, but after getting about five inches into the front panel, I am going to rip out. Turns out that I didn’t like the complementary color I spontaneously grabbed. The blue base with the white accent was too dated for my tastes, so I quickly knit up a green baby sweater so I knew how much of that yarn was leftover if I choose to stick with using a complementary color instead of switching to all blue. Turns out there’s plenty remaining, and the green should do a better job of blending with the blue.

Here’s a preview of that project with the old blue and white colors:

And here’s the green sweater I made so I could snatch the leftover yarn:

I’m also contemplating what solid color to use for the lacy Latvian socks in the Folk Socks book. I will also tackle the striped Guernsey ones so they can serve as a reminder of the delightful Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society book I so enjoyed this spring.

I don’t think I’m doing too badly – three concrete projects from two books already decided, albeit still not cast on.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Knitting Update

I’ve shirked a knitting update, but I have been busily working away on various projects in the background.

After my Minnesota trip, Liz surprised me with a sock-knitting book in the mail, one that I’d been drooling over: Wendy Johnson’s Socks from the Toe Up. I’ve already finished my first pair from the book, using Louet Fingering Gems yarn from that recent trip and in the process tried out three new techniques detailed therein.

First, there was a new provisional cast-on for the toe. Up to this point, whenever I’d made a toe-up pair, I’d been dependent on the ever popular short-row toe, but Wendy detailed a new way to create gussets and turn the heel (my second new technique). And when I reached the top, there was a new bind-off technique, one which had use knit 1, purl 1 ribbing, then separate the stitches onto two separate needles and graft to finish. The first two were very useful, but I think I still prefer the sewn bind-off. It seems to boast more stretch, as well as requiring less preparatory work beforehand.

However, I will say that Wendy is very clear in her explanations. I’d encountered the above-mentioned bind-off in another pattern, but there were no accompanying photos and the description seemed awkward, so I avoided trying it. This book has several socks that I’d like to try, as well as another heel. And the photos are generous, showing several large color pictures from various angles for each and every pattern.

Here is my finished pair of socks from the Diamond Gansey pattern in the book, informally called the Liz Socks since the book and yarn hold memories of my trip.

It seems appropriate to showcase these socks now in Liz's honor since she is getting married this weekend, and I won't be able to attend. Instead, I will be touching base with old high-school friends at my reunion and sending all my wishes for wedded bliss her way. I feel blessed for my friends, both old and new -- it's a shame I haven't yet discovered how to be in two different parts of the country at the same time.
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