Am I blue?

I bought this yesterday.
I may be going through a blue phase. I tell you, scoring the teeny tiny (2mm) blue dpns was the highlight of my week, I have no idea why I love them so much. The fact that I was so incredibly thrilled to get them probably means that I need to get out more.
While I was in the store I was shocked to discover that they also had 2.25mm needles in the same blue. It turns out that what I thought was an extremely cool colour coded needle size system is…well, not. I’m thinking about writing a letter to Boye explaining that they are making a big mistake. I want them to understand how cool it would be for me to dig through my dpn bin knowing that if I want 3mm I need the orange, or that 2mm is blue. I want to tell them that making the colours random isn’t helpful. That they could save me all kinds of time that I’m going to spend first looking for one of my needle gauges (where do they go? I bet when I find them that all my stinking tape measures are there too) and then using the needle gauge on all the blue needles to work out which ones I want. I thought about writing a letter, then I remembered that my campaign to only have one kind of screwdriver wasn’t really taken very seriously. When I run the world, things will be different, let me tell you.
The dark periwinkle blue is a bit of a mystery. The sign said “Cotton Twist , 51% cotton 49% acrylic, worsted weight, 100g”. Now, the only “Cotton Twist” I’ve every heard of (although we have already worked out that I should get out more) is the Berroco one, and this clearly isn’t that. It was disturbingly cheap ($4) so I suppose that if it’s junk I won’t cry a river, but could be a cute little tank top lurking in there.
The other stuff was even cheaper at $2 a ball, and it’s Bernat Miami. This purchase was entirely predictable. I will purchase any yarn if you discount it deeply enough. I am helpless in the face of any yarn discount greater than 50%. I have an entire section of my stash dedicated to sale yarn that I bought only because I got a little bit light headed when I saw that it was as cheap as sin. Despite this being sort of an “accidental” yarn buy, I’m looking forward to giving it a try, doesn’t it seem funny to knit something from a yarn that’s flat? . I’ve never knit with this kind of ribbon yarn before, and it could be that I will absolutely adore 100% acrylic, novelty ribbon yarn in a pastel colour. Seems unlikely, but what the heck, it’s only costing $12 to find out.
I’m turning the heel on Sam’s second sock.
I use the flap heel, always, every time. I think it’s pretty clever, I like that I can reinforce the flap where the back of the shoe rubs and I like picking up stitches for the gussets. I lied. I Love picking up stitches for the gussets. I like that, at least in my mind, when I turn the heel, I am halfway. Gloriously halfway.
I would like to take a moment to point out that the socks match exactly. The only reason that I’m denying the urge to run around the living room screaming things like “Yeah baby!” is because the windows are open, the neighbours saw Joe leave for work and for his sake I don’t want the Harlot thing taken really literally. I’ll do it later.

Here’s a thought

I’m late, so you get a short blog. (Hey, guess where I’m going? To buy yarn with Jacqui, you remember Jacqui, Experiment 47A (April 2nd) She’s come over to the dark side in a big way. Big. This trip wasn’t even my idea. Nope, Jacqui called me up and said “Hey, wanna go buy yarn?”. Incredible. Incredible both that Jacqui wants to go shop for yarn and incredible that after she asked me that, she waited for an answer. The mind reels.)

Here’s what I’m thinking. I’ve been pondering what to do with the wool/silk, and here’s my idea. Mock me at will.
First, the 105 metres is not enough to make anything good (here we are using the term “good” to mean “anything I want to make”) so I went digging through the handspun stash and came up with two yarns I feel good about putting with the silk.
From the top, the wool/silk broken blue from the other day, some wool that was the result of discovering that I could “break” dye, and some plain white that is the same as the wool, only not dyed.
Question #1
Do these go together?
Next, trot yourself over and take a look at this scarf. (The one on the bottom) It’s at Fiddlesticks Knitting, where I have spent lots of money and would happily urge you to do the same. Great patterns. Now, despite the greatness of the patterns I’m not talking about using one, but merely one “in the style” of the one that you are looking at, or…did look at when you clicked on the link.
What if, (Warning… this is a new idea for me. Thousands of people may have thought of it before me, but to me…this is radical.) what if I knit a scarf like that but I used those three colours that I just showed you? Yes, three colours, in lace, at once.
Question #2
Is this idea dumbass?
I would do the “body” of the scarf in a vertical lace pattern,in the white; a horizontal lace pattern in the lighter blue, and finally a deep lace edging in the darker blue silk.
I suppose I could knit the main part in two pieces and graft the centre so that the two ends would be identical. How hard could it be? (Yes, I’m aware that I just ruined my chances for making this an easy project by asking that question. Yes, I understand that now it will be hard, and that I have tempted the knitting fates to vex me over and over again.)
Question #3
Generally speaking…Go ahead, or do you all want to talk about the plan a little more?
Concerns, warnings and cautionary tales all accepted.

A perfect example.

Good Morning class, and welcome to today’s critique of Stephanie’s knitting last night. I’m afraid that we have some real issues here, so lets get started. First, our subject worked on the Eeyore blanket. (1 point given for stick-to-it-iveness) Some of you have had some concerns about the reverse side of this blanket, and given that the subject has in the past simply stuffed a finished item into the back of her closet and pretended that she never knit it rather than deal with the ends, I agree that we should see how it’s going. Sharolene requested a view of the back and wondered if there was any way around the hanging end business.
We all wish there was some way around it Sharolene, but sadly, there is no way to do this without ends decorating the inside like shag carpet. Fortunately The Harlot seems to have learned from the last time that she did intarsia, when she left all of the ends until she was finished (expecting that perhaps the little elves would come and save her?) then, overwhelmed with the sheer mass of ends, suffered a fit of apoplexy and denied all knowledge of the sweater. This time it looks like she is weaving the ends in as she goes. Well, perhaps there is hope for her after all. (2 points granted for not repeating past mistakes)
After working on the blanket for a reasonable length of time, The Harlot decided to move on to socks. This was an excellent choice as she was going to watch A Shot In The Dark and visual comedy and intarsia do not mix. Here again, we see real growth as a knitter. (1 point for appropriate project selection) Having finished the first sock of Samantha’s pair, she cast on for the second. (1 point for avoiding second sock syndrome) As The Harlot is a little obsessive about having socks that match, she carefully found the proper spot in the repeat and began. (1 point for fussiness)
It did not take long for her to realize that something was amiss. (Good catch there…2 points for paying attention). It appeared that she had made an error in selecting the appropriate start point in the yarn. The Harlot promptly frogged the sock, double checked the correct spot, and began again. (Damn. 2 point deduction for starting again without changing anything. When will she learn that doing the same thing over again will not give you different results?) She was surprised to discover several rows later that the same problem was re-occurring. (1 point deduction for not seeing it coming.)
Careful examination of the yarn revealed that although she had knit the first sock drawing from the centre of the ball, and she had begun the second sock drawing from the centre of the ball…the colours were inexplicably appearing in a different order. After ruling out differing dye lot, the Harlot worked out that in fact the yarn was exactly the same but was wound into balls at the factory in a different order. (1 point granted for coming up with the answer, sadly, 2 points deducted for calling it sabotage and talking about conspiracy)
Stephanie then decided that what needed to be done here, was either to knit from the outside of the ball, which would be inconvenient to her…as much of the centre of the ball had been displaced. (1 point deducted for using the phrase “stupid pain in the arse”) or the ball rewound into the correct self-patterning order. The Harlot retrieved her very fun ball winder, clamped it to the table and smiled a little smile for figuring out such a good solution (1 point granted for figuring out a good solution, 2 deducted for not remembering that Pride Goeth Before A Fall) She rewound it at great speed, chuckling to herself at the joy of ball winders. (We’re letting this one go, ball winders are really fun)
When she had rewound it, her Harlotness located the correct spot to begin her socks and then noted that she had not solved her problem, the yarn remained wound in the wrong order. (2 points deducted for foul language) Class…can anyone tell us where Stephanie went wrong? Yes? You in the back….Yes that’s right. If one takes the centre of a centrepull ball, and puts that into the slot on a ballwinder (hereafter referred to as the CENTRE of the ball winder) and winds then you still have the former centre as the current centre. Good for you for figuring it out on the first go. (3 points deducted for Stephanie thinking that rewinding it again centre to centre would fix this problem, and another 1 point for foul language, as well as an additional point for what she almost said to Joe when he asked her what the hell she was doing)
Eventually, it occurred to Stephanie that if she wanted the inside of the current ball to be on the outside of next ball that she would have to do something other than rewinding the yarn perpetually from centre to centre, and she had a major breakthrough, (2 points for finally figuring it out but 1 point deducted for being, you know…”slow”) and rewound it from the outside to the inside. This final action meant that after a prolonged period of winding she finally was ready to begin her sock.
(1 final point deducted for casting on the wrong number of stitches, however, 2 points granted for not setting fire to the entire thing when she realized it)
Final score: -3 out of a possible 14

This almost never happens

Something I wasn’t expecting has happened. In absolute contrast to everything else I have ever set out to spin (or, you know…anything else in my life at all) I have made exactly what I set out to make. No happy “well, that’s just as good as what I had planned”. Everything worked exactly the way I intended it to. (I’m typing quickly, as I expect to be hit by lightning in the immediate future).
Yesterday, when I announced my intention to combine wool and silk for spinning and to be promptly unhappy thereafter…Laurie sent me this link to The Silk Worker. Which I think helped a lot. (Ok, fine, it completely changed the way I will handle silk forever)
First, I changed the way I carded the silk. The genius behind this site suggests not making a wool-silk-wool sandwich, (mistake #1) and once I did that…..brilliance.
I spun it up, using her suggestion to keep my hands dry (mistake #2, my sweaty little death grip wasn’t working for me) and my singles looked pretty darned good.
I made a two ply, taking her advice that “trying to ply silk from a centerpull ball, even if the silk is not very tightly spun, will put you in the nuthouse.” (mistake #3, I always use a centrepull ball.) When I was done…
Nothing wrong with that. I confirmed Joe’s suspicions about me by doing a little dance with it. That’s the best result I’ve had with silk ever. As a general rule, my silk attempts end up looking so rough that if somebody happens to see it before I can throw it away I tell them that my ten year old did it.
This was worth keeping. This was worth A Next Step.
The next step was a trip to the dye pot. I have had trouble before with the dye “breaking” (see January 27), and I’ve pretty much figured out what I’m doing that makes it break. So…this time I wanted the dye to break, hoping that I would get a subtle variegated look, so I screwed everything up. I made every mistake in the book. I didn’t soak the yarn, I started with cold water, I added vinegar, I put in a few drops of food colouring, I didn’t ever stir. I asked for disaster. It worked perfectly. (It worked so well in fact, that I’m thinking about applying this idea to more areas of my life. Strive for perfection…get disaster, strive for disaster….hmmm) I let the yarn sit in the hot dyebath for 3 hours, waiting for the dye to be exhausted. In the end, I became exhausted before the dye was and I fished it out, rinsed it off and was awestruck. Beautiful no? The photo doesn’t even begin to do it justice, the yarn has more royal blue and some pink in real life.
I feel like I just came in first in a marathon. Any suggestions about what to do with 105 m
of really cool fingering weight wool/silk?
In other news, Eeyore (no, it’s not a smurf…do I look like the kind of blogger who would be knitting a smurf? Don’t answer that.) proceeds apace. I’m almost ashamed by how fond I am becoming of him. I am on the brink of referring to him as “cute”.
I hope I finish him before …I don’t know….I want to buy a kitten or something.

Some Saturday nights…

It’s been a long and perilous weekend in Harlotville. The children were away for the weekend and after I did something to deserve this…(what I did is a secret, of course)
I decided to cut loose. Sadly, since it has been quite some time since I tried to do this, I failed miserably. It turns out that my “party animal” reflex is dead in the water, since the best thing I could think of to do was….(I’m so ashamed) paint the stair baseboards. I came to my senses halfway down the stairs (which will probably remain half painted now until my next weekend off…) called up a couple of people and made a break for it.
My sister came to pick me up, and we grabbed some people and headed for a place she said was fabulous. (Note: my sister and I are very different people.) An hour later I find myself in a piano bar eating gnocchi and trying to shake the feeling that I might have been better off painting the stairs. The other people in the bar include:
-a sixty year old woman with hair that would have been considered small in the eighties, she is wearing a silver catsuit and a belt with a buckle bigger than my head.
-a man with no teeth. Not one.
-an entire table of 50 year old white men accompanied by 20 year old Thai women. I tried not to figure out if they were prostitutes or mail order brides.
– a man who took my picture, called me “little girl” and asked me if I was going home alone. I have been trying very hard not to imagine what he wanted my picture for. I assure you I know what the possibilities are…and I don’t want to think about it.
-an incredibly elegant gentleman and lady in their 80’s who walzed around the 6 x 6 dance floor like a dream. During “Lady in Red” he kissed her.
-a waitress who spilled nine drinks, not at the same time.
-I will go to my grave saying that Eugene Levy was the performer. He was going by another name (I’m sure it was to keep crowds down) but I swear it was him. I especially loved it when he played “Sweet Caroline”.
Today, in an attempt to disassociate myself from the leather padded piano bar, I’m going to do a little spinning. It is a well known fact that sitting at a spinning wheel is the cosmic opposite of being serenaded by Eugene Levy. I’m just seeking a little balance.
Now, I am not Sheila (who even looks like someone who could spin silk) who spins silk like this. I am a woman who barely escaped with her virtue from a piano bar, my results may vary. I’m going to card together the wool and silk and see if I have better luck than with pure silk, which makes me want to spin a noose. Silk is not my best thing, (fine…I suck at it) and I know that I’m pushing my luck trying something challenging so soon after the “Entre-lack” epsisode. If the silk proves embarrassing, I’m going to return to my spinning project in progress, which I will dazzle you with tomorrow in an attempt to erase your memory of not one, but two failed projects.
Finally, if you live in the Toronto area I would like to personally apologize for the weather this weekend. It was my fault, I got a little excited and optimistic about the sunshine and the warmness on Friday and I ….(I’m so sorry about this) I turned off my furnace.
I know that it was this action which caused the rain and plummeting temperatures, and I apologize. Rest assured that I will not attempt to turn my heat off again until June.

I don’t know where the sock is.

Yesterday Laurie wrote: (sorry, hold on a minute, yesterday I got some of the funniest, cleverest comments, simply a parade of entertainment. If you didn’t read them…go back now. I’ll wait for you)
“By my count, you are ahead in the positive column by one — wine and chocolate. And you DID abandon the Dublin Bay when it prove unattractive to you, now didn’t you? So you are willing, for aesthetic reasons, to abandon a pattern you LIKED, but you are unwilling to abandon a pattern you seem to find (ahem) frustating in the extreme? Does this mean that you LIKE the way these socks look? ‘Fess up. “
Fine. It’s like this, I’ve discovered that I don’t like entrelac. Well, that’s not entirely fair. I don’t like it in this application, this is the only entrelac I’ve done, could be that it’s more fun than sliding around naked in skeins of Koigu (not that I would know) if you have the right project. It’s not that I don’t think entrelac is worth it. It’s not even that it’s too hard. (Nothing is too hard for the Harlot, sorry…third person bravado again) it’s like this….
I’m not sure it’s worth it. I’ve got no problem with hard. No problem at all, but if I’m going to spend a lot of time on something, I want the darned payoff. These socks should be incredible. They are fussy and clever and they should look like a million bucks. For the amount of time that they are taking, they should be so breathtaking that people consider dedicating their lives to the pursuit of poetry and the spell of a really, really good sock when they see them.
Instead I’ve been reduced to the knitters version of the horrible bar game that sweaty men play….”Drink until she gets pretty”.
This is not me. So….No, I don’t know where the sock is. Couldn’t tell ya. May have been stolen out of the back of my car.
In the meantime. I was in desperate need of a little glorious victory, so I finished Joe’s socks.
A big thank you goes out to Joe for agreeing to put his legs and feet on the blog. The man was pretty co-operative this morning, which makes me wonder if the twitch over my eye from the entrelac is more obvious than I think. The pattern is from here
but just to give it a little harlotty (is that a word? Is now.) edge, I reversed the pattern and knit it toe up, to make the most of the yarn (#1319) which is darned nice indeed.
I’m going out in the sunshine now, and don’t be looking around here for that sock while I’m gone. I told you, I don’t know where it is.

The morning after.

That didn’t make the socks any funnier. (I’m considering whether I had enough chocolate and wine…perhaps moderation was my mistake) Today, since the socks have all but sucked the very will to live from my body, today we answer comments.
(Before I answer comments, I just want to say this: Ken, I noticed that you didn’t comment. I actually noticed that you haven’t been around here much since you started this whole entrelac thing. Don’t think that you can get me into this and then just wander off. I have not forgotten that the socks were your idea buddy…you aren’t just going to walk away from that. No sir. I don’t care if you fear my wrath, stand up and take it like a man. I have linked to you so that my readers may take this issue up with you on your own blog. Stop that laughing.)
Dear Commenters:
-Thank you for the wine tips. I am going to the liquor store today to see if “better wine” (and not just “more wine”) will improve my attitude toward the socks. I personally am not holding out much hope, but a decent wine never hurt.
-Thank you (I think) for the voyeuristic interest in me knitting these socks. I appreciate your thoughts (like “better you than me”) and the way that you are popping by the blog to see how I’m doing much like you would slow down to look at an accident.
-Thank you for contacting my Nana.
-Thank you for giving me permission to abandon the socks if it comes to that. At present I am still walking around referring to myself in the third person and being all brave. I’m saying stuff like “The Harlot does not quit”, “The Harlot cannot be defeated”. It helps, the third person always does. Try it. “(Insert Your Name Here) cannot be silenced.” See?
-Thank you for telling me that your Lornas Laces is doing the same thing. (Thanks for telling me that *now* especially. Not, you know, when I showed you the yarn or anything.
-Thank you for suggesting that I cast on the second one right now. Good thinking. Darned good thinking. I think I’ll wait though, I never implied that I was going to knit both did I?
-Thank you (to Aubergine especially) for asking me about the heel and gussets. The impending horrors sent fresh waves of nausea through me, and re-doubled my efforts to have some kind of *accident* with the yarn. What was it you suggested? Having it stolen? I’l consider the possibility of taking a hit out on my knitting if the heel is half as bad as you infer.
-Thank you for calling me “inspirational”. It’s so wonderful to know that long after the (*&^%$!!! Entrelac socks have killed me/driven me mad I’ll be remembered fondly.
Speak well of me….

This blog is starting to pay off.

Not that I ever expected that when I write “send chocolate” (meaning of course the metaphoric chocolate that can be sent with good wishes via the comments) that some incredibly generous soul would haul themselves out to the chocolate shop, stand in line (right before Easter ) score some very good chocolate, scurry to the post office and mail it to Canada.
Many, many thanks to Alison, who definitely won today’s “Stephanie’s favourite person” Award. I’m going to use the chocolate as comfort/crutch to get me through todays Entrelac issues.
I’m starting to understand why so many of you (I wasn’t going to name names but …Alison, Kat and Sylvia, I’m looking right at you) were looking for a guinea pig for these socks.
I, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, do solemnly swear that I have, for the first time in my whole life, had my arse kicked by a pattern. Last night I took the socks with me to spinning class, and I …(oh I never thought it would come to this) I…asked for help.
Dianne bailed me out and made helpful suggestions. Like, say…maybe from now on I might want to knit the rectangles some sort of consistent size?
My paternal grandmother is dead, and has been for quite some time. Now, this is significant today because if she were not dead…I would be calling her and letting her know about something she was wrong about. She was a professional knitter, and taught me when I was 4. When I was 6, I spent an afternoon in the back of her garden with my needles, Patons yarn, and what I thought was a darned good idea. It occurred to me that I could save myself all kinds of time while knitting if I didn’t have to turn my work at the end of each row. I sat there for hours, working out my little plan. When I had it completely figured, I traipsed up to the house, found my Nana and showed her my incredible invention, destined to revolutionize knitting as we know it, Backwards Knitting. (You can see from this link that in the intervening 29 years this has apparently occurred to someone else as well)
My Nana (who was really not your “milk and cookies” kind of grandmother, if you catch my meaning) , trashed me. This was a dumb idea. This was “not how it was done”. This was “silly”. I pointed out that I could just be the first brilliant person to think of it. My Nana countered with the argument that if it was such a good idea…then how come somebody didn’t think of it before me…(a mere child) and furthermore…how come everybody wasn’t doing it? Properly chastised, I returned to conventional frontwards knitting, and it wasn’t until last night when I was working on these entrelac socks with the little five stitch squares that I thought about this.
If I could call my Nana, I would say three things.
-Entrelac. Ever hear of it? Practically impossible without backwards knitting.
-If you hadn’t stunted my thrilling growth as a knitter, do you have any idea how good I would be at backwards knitting by now?
-I never liked Coronation Street. I was faking.
If anybody has any sort of link to the spiritworld, would you let her know? I’m off to knit backwards, have chocolate for lunch and curse entrelac.

Dear Vickie

Dear Vickie Starbuck,
I’d like to apologize for all the things that I said about you last night. I was upset about frogging the Dublin Bay socks, and I may have misdirected my anger. I know that there is no way that you heard what I said about you, but trust me….I owe you an apology.
When I cast on your Entrelac socks (From the nifty Socks Socks Socks book) I may not have had the best attitude. I’m sorry that I called the start to your sock “dumbass”. It was really just that I thought that starting a sock with that little square and picking up stitches around it so that I get a round toe, was…well I guess I owe you for the “colossal waste of time” crack too. I deeply regret that I did not trust that you might have a reason for making a toe that way. Now that I’ve knit a little ways on the entrelac part I see where you were going with that particular technique. It turns out that you aren’t “out of your freaking mind” and I guess I deserve the trouble I’m going to get when I’ve got to work out how to position the heel. I guess you really did think it through. Sorry for doubting you.
After I so carelessly abandoned your toe structure for my own and got to the part where you knit the cute little triangles for the foundation of the entrelac, I’m afraid that I must confess that I was perhaps a little rash when I said that you were “a few jalapenos short of a zippy salsa.” It turns out that I misinterpreted an instruction that actually was very clear in my haste to condemn you. Mea culpa.
Mostly, I feel that I must apologize for the , er…”episode” that I had when I got to the instruction for the first rectangles. After an hour of trying to follow the directions to knit one stinking little inane rectangle I may have said some things that were unladylike.
(Joe reminds me that the comment about you and the “horse you rode in on” was particularly callused. Sorry about that) I eventually trashed your directions and did some other thing that worked out fine. I looked around for a correction to the instructions but didn’t find one. That likely means that it’s my fault again, and that the tension headache and throbbing vein in my forehead are only what I deserve and not actually the end result of any substance abuse problem that I may have implied you had.
Thank you, and again, my deepest apologies,

Houston, we have a problem.

The Dublin Bay socks are not working out. I’m a little upset.
(Step 1: analyse the problem)
The colours of the exquisite Lorna’s Laces sock yarn are neatly dividing themselves straight down the front and back of the sock. (Note: Ryan’s pattern itself is great, darned nifty even, and cursing swearing or abandonment of said sock project should not be interpreted as a reflection of Ryan’s pattern, but instead a reflection of the knitting disaster which plagues me without mercy) I’ve tried just continuing on, hoping that as I go the colour will begin to fetchingly swirl around the leg, or divide in some kind of entertaining way. (Step 2. Continue on, patience is a virtue) I’ve tried screwing with it a little,(Step 3. Mess with the rules) knitting a little tighter for a row or two to try and shift them, knitting a little looser…but the socks are committed to this course of action. I now realize that the yarn has a greater will than my own, and that I am not going to come out on top. I’m stuck. (Step 4. Open a bottle of Merlot) Either I accept that this pattern is the wonder and glory of this yarn, or I begin to poke myself with the 2.25mm knitting needles hoping that the pain of the puncture wounds will eventually outweigh the pain of having the socks come out this way. What now? (Step 5. Ask the blog. The blog knows all). Try again with different gauge? Trash them in disgust?
To ease my pain and to score mommy points I worked on this instead.
Sam has new running shoes. They are clear acrylic. While I cannot see the pure joy in owning shoes that fog up when you wear them, Sam is smitten. Sam feels that if you are going to have clear running shoes, then you should have really good socks. I concur.
I cast on a mystery intarsia-nightmare project.
I know you wish you knew what it was. You don’t. All will be revealed in the fullness of time.
Finally, before we get on to the very important business of fixing the subdividing socks, a little clarification on the matter of Boye knitting needles. Several of you made the point that these aren’t the best needles around. That they cannot compare to the soft gleam of ebony, the warm feel of wood, the sharpness of Inox points or the smooth connection of an Addi turbo. I agree, but the Boye needles are funky colours. I’m willing to take a lot of crap from a needle if it’s a funky colour.