Oh my heavens, I’ve been itching to get this blog out for the last two weeks. 

I’ve just returned from vacation with my extended family, which was truly wonderful – I spent a lot of time with actual people (instead of my laptop).  This is, I suppose, the point of taking a vacation with one’s family.   No matter how much one’s laptop is clearly jealous – sitting right there on the coffee table, whimpering in neglect and beckoning with the sweet, glowing ember of its power indicator – family (at least a fun one) beats computer.

Frankly, however, now that I’m again surgically attached to the internet, I’m giddy with delight.  I’ve been busting to share my Ravelympics progress. 

I’d heard about the Knitting Olympics before, and had seen shiny little medals adorning a few knitting blogs, but I was a bit in the dark as to what it all meant.  Obviously it wouldn’t take a brain surgeon to find out; but alas, laziness had won out over curiosity.  And, to be honest, I was a little frightened of the unknown:

  • What kind of project was required for this?
  • How would achievement be measured?  Would someone show up at my door to inspect my stitching?
  • Would there be actual physical activity required? 

(pause to catch breath)

  • Would there be a uniform involved?  Something without adequate coverage in the upper thigh area?
  • Would I be flogged if I let the team down?
  • Would sleep deprivation be involved?

On that last one, I did kind of hope I’d be pressured into knitting into the wee hours for days on end.  I’ll take all the help I can get when it comes to justifying knit-time.  If I took part in the Olympics, it wouldn’t be just me obsessing over my knitting, but, in fact, me and my country in our quest for the gold.

So I checked it out.  I found that the Knitting Olympics, as initiated years ago by The Yarn Harlot, is held only every 4 years in alignment with the Winter Olympics, and that Stephanie Pearl-McPhee wouldn’t be leading a Knitting Olympics for this summer.  Ah, stink.

But – shocker! – I didn’t have to look much further to find that Ravelry was all over it.  The first ever Ravelympics was kicking off very soon, apparently.  Maybe because the actual Olympics were going to kick off?  Still a bit suspicious, I landed on gloriana’s post and read about her taking the plunge, and I was jolted into action.  I marched over to Ravelry, figured out the rules (clicking on big obvious links called “Ravelympics” does tend to clear things up), and decided quickly on the following projects:

  1. Niece gifts – I was inspired by gloriana’s niecie motivation, and conveniently, I’d recently found a pattern that would work well for both of my girls in their almost-3- and almost-1-year-old sizes.  The challenging part of these two projects would be not so much in technique, but in knocking them out quickly.  No dilly-dallying.  This is war, Peacock.
  2. Socks! – This was the project coming to mind that most closely fit on the “challenge” element of the Ravelympics call to action.  I’ve lurked around blog posts with people cooing over socks for a while, but I’d never dipped my toe in that water.  I decided I’d try it.  Secretly I hoped that I’d get hooked and start cranking out socks with the same glee I’ve so enviously observed.

The patterns:

  1. Little Girl’s Shrug
  2. Braided Cable & Broken Seed sock
  3. Raindrop Lace Socks

Little Girl’s Shrug

Casco Bay Worsted, 100% cotton

I picked up the Little Girl’s Shrug pattern at The Yarn Lounge in Richmond, Virginia, where I found myself a few weeks ago after passing through on business and visiting my dear friend Kimlee.  I loved The Yarn Lounge – I lingered for a loooong while and chatted with the lovely Melanie, not only about knitting but also about the indisputable merits of wine and cheese (oh, yummy).  I also picked up the perfect light summer cotton yarn for my two niece projects – on deep discount!  Purple for Maizy, pink for E-dot.

On my way back through D.C. a couple days after that, I stopped in at Knit Happens in Alexandria.  This LYS (Local Yarn Store) popped up on my radar after I found out about the Stefanie Japel design workshop they are sponsoring there the first weekend in November, just prior to her launch of Glam Knits.  I was gung-ho to splurge on a trip out to attend this workshop, but over the last couple weeks I’ve chickened out.  What if I can’t keep up?  Here comes that junior-high dodge-ball team-picking feeling again.

Neighborhood Fiber Co., Studio Worsted;

Neighborhood Fiber Co., Studio Worsted

Anyway, I drooled all over their yarn at Knit Happens and ended up walking away with a locally made yarn in a pretty deep purple variegated hue.  It may have helped that the sample knit for this yarn on display was designed by already-on-the-brain Knitting Pure and Simple, the maker of my Little Girl’s Shrug pattern.  This was a baby cardigan (pattern, incidentally, available free for download here), which in the store was modified to have buttons instead of ties as pictured on the website as linked above.  It was so darn cute I shelled over 13 smackers for 98 yards of the yarn they made it with.

Socks.  Well.  I happened to come across another couple of patterns at So Much Yarn the following week in Seattle (yes, I do get around), which was a shop recommended to me by knitsurg (the creator of a va-va-voom version of Stefanie Japel’s Orangina) on Ravelry.  Words can’t say how much fun I had in So Much Yarn, but of course I’ll give it a shot.  Beautiful, beautiful yarns, in a huge space, with lovely displays and a nice big table and workspace in back to peruse possible purchases and crunch the numbers on yarn yardage.  After meandering around in my comfort zone for a while (my comfort zone being just about everything except the sock yarn category), I broke down and asked for assistance in picking a good starter pattern and fiber for my Ravelympics sock project.  Theresa was very sweet and pointed me in the right direction in picking up the Braided Cable & Broken Seed Sock pattern, which has a lot of nice detail on techniques like the Kitchener stitch, and was designed by Lauren Lindeman, the owner of the shop.  I also picked up the pattern for Raindrop Lace Socks, which I liked a lot and decided to go for as an additional Ravelympics goal, in spite of Theresa’s concerned looks and comment that these socks might be “a little too advanced”.  Hmmmm.  I still think I can do it.

So – the update!  Boy, it took me a while to get to this part.


Cozy cardi

Before the button

Pattern #1, the Little Girl’s Shrug, I’m happy to report has yielded 2 FOs!  As I was with Maizy over my vacation, I hand-delivered her light purple cropped cardi, and my heart melted at her delight.  She strutted around saying how much she liked it, telling me once more for the road before she headed out at the end of our vacation, “Actually, Amy, I still really like this.”

Didn’t quite plan ahead with the button, so the purple sparkly number I picked out is going in the mail to her mom, along with the second FO, the pink one, for E-dot.  My flying fingers couldn’t quite finish off the arms on hers in time to give it to her before we parted ways.

Anyhoo, I really do like the way they turned out. 


front

The yarn, Casco Bay Worsted, was light and springy like the sample that sold me in the store.  Melanie at The Yarn Lounge told me there was no reason these couldn’t go in the washing machine.  Probably OK to machine dry as well, although there may be some shrinkage. 


back

I knit both shrugs on US 5 circular needles, with the tiny bit of arm ribbing completed on US 2 double-pointed needles.  The final fabric was soft and slightly textured to the touch.  I blocked each of these, but the purple one wasn’t quite finished at the time I declared it dry enough to let Maizy wear, so it could use a little more blocking to help the lace border, which I opted to use instead of plain ribbing on the body, lay nice and flat.

First ever cast-on for a sock

First ever cast-on for a sock

Pattern #2, the Braided Cable & Broken Seed sock, is in progress.  I admit to initial palpitations, as I had anticipated, working with all five US 2 double-pointed needles in my newly-purchased set per the pattern’s instructions.  It took me a while to get started, but I forged ahead, Helen

The picture on the right shows how far I got after over 2 hours of earnest work…yeah, not too far.  But immediately after I took that photo I made the decision to lose two of the needles.  Three was enough to comfortably get around the circumference of the sock, and it was much less of a headache.

I knit a bit more on the flight back from the Midwest where we were visiting family, but not a lot more because I had a happy and unexpected distraction – Lish, my aforementioned BFF, was on the same flight as me back to California, as she too had been back home for the weekend.  I didn’t know this until I saw her at the airport, at which time I was very pleased (and also feeling quite fancy and cosmopolitan with the bumping-into-of fabulous people in airports).  Hooray for happy coincidences and for cross-country airplane chats.

Right – for Ravelympics, it’s clear I’ll need to get my booty in gear to get through both socks (and at least start on my Raindrop socks, for pete’s sake) before the closing ceremonies.  I’m up for it.  I’m juiced at my progress so far.  There may be a lot left to do, but there’s nothing like pushing yourself in the name of knitting.  Stay tuned.

Yikes, where does the time go?  Have been missing my imaginary friends here with the pesky business of life rearing its head every time I try to blog on.

Have been making nice progress on ye olde WIP, the Perfect Periwinkle Turtleneck Tube Vest.  Even though it’s slow going with all of the interruptions, it’s still making me happy because I like the way trusty Cascade 220 is knitting up on size 7 needles, even just in stockinette.  The gauge I used for my Sexy Summer Tank was a bit bigger, and although I didn’t dislike it that way, I’m finding the stitch definition more pleasing to the eye with my Periwinkle sweetheart.  Nice and substantial-feeling, you know?

I’m just beginning the “jump-start” ribbing on the back of the sweater, which I took a few minutes to make sure I was clear on before I started. I did a little poking around on one of the Fitted Knits KALs and confirmed this was on-purpose extra ribbing and not part of the errata (the list of which is unfortunately lengthy…although I can’t say that it makes me like the patterns any less). Since the back ribbing isn’t pictured in the book, I had to check.  And right-o, boss – the ribbing starts a bit earlier for the outer edges of the back in order to fit it nicely. Since I tend to be a bit on the “sway-back” side (Mom’s term: “your bottom isn’t too big honey, it’s just the sway-back that runs in the family”) with a strong arch in my lower back, I think I’ll add in an extra set of ribs after the first inch, and add an extra couple inches in length overall because I have a long torso.  Oh la la, the special needs.

As I was “fluffing” my little WIP so I could take its picture (in my poorly lit hotel room in Orlando, where I was traveling on business), my sweater struck a surprisingly full-bosomed pose, in foolish anticipation of the boobs that would never quite fill that gradiose space.  In doing a quick over-the-head try-on, it actually fits very nicely (even in my not-so-endowed-ness), which was a relief.

Speaking of trying on works-in-progress, does anyone have any tips on how to pull knitting-in-the-round over your head to try something on without stitches falling off of the circular needle? I tried transferring a healthy chunk of stitches over to a stitch holder and leaving the rest on the needle while I tried on, but the stitches on the ends of the needle still managed to slip off because the needle is just the right circumference for the intended diameter.  This just doesn’t include room for my clusmy maneuvers.  I could transfer to a longer needle to try on, but this seems a lot of trouble.  I wouldn’t want to use a longer needle to to knit the rest of the ribbing because it would stretch the diameter of the stitches unduly since the work is joined. Please, oh, please, toss me a comment if you’ve had more luck than I have with the trying-on of a top-down project.

[EDIT after original post:  I’ve got the trying-on thing under control now, guys – a little patience goes a long way.  Most of you already probably had this figured out.  I wrote about it here if you’re curious about my try-on ways and means.]

Squeezer’s Two-Tone Ribbed Shrug is also looking much better.  She’s ready to move the stockinette down each sleeve to the ribbing, and not a minute too soon, because I think she’d not-so-secretly had enough of the KFB and PFB increasing on the back.  I had fun with it, though: upon my foray into these increase-rows when frogging and re-stitching a few misaligned rows for her, I enjoyed the twirly feeling of that stitch.

I’m thinking ahead to my Airy Wrap-Around Lace Sweater, patiently waiting in my queue.  My family has a lake cottage in the Midwest and we’re headed there for Memorial Day to open up for the season.  I’m guessing it won’t be summer enough yet for the wrap-around number (without another sweater on underneath it), but you never know.  I doubt I’d polish it off in time even if I started now, but it’s good motivation.  I’d like to make another trip to the lake later in the summer when the sweater will be a perfect oh-is-it-a-little-chilly-this-evening?-I-just-happen-to-have-a-pretty-wrap-around-to-wear-to-dinner top.  I’ve never done anything remotely lacy so we’ll see how we go.

That’s it for now, homies.  I have so many other witty things to say, but alas, I have squeezed all the time I can squeeze with you for today.  My next blog will include stolen inspiration – I visited my sister and she’s been up to fabulous things with her sewing machine and a few choice cuts from Jo-Ann’s.  She’s the bomb, and I can’t wait for you to get to know her.

The other night I watched Karate Kid, for old times’ sake (and because it was free On Demand).  Not Part II or III – the original; not as if it were the weekend movie on TBS or something, but straight through and uninterrupted with proper movie-night focus.  I watched it with a my fiancé, a.k.a. Bidie-In, and his tween daughter, Squeezer (my step-daughter-to-be).  Neither of them had ever seen it.  I know, I know.  Bidie is Scottish, as in, grew up there, so let’s cut him some slack, because maybe this bit of pop culture didn’t make it across the pond.   Shocking, yes, that anyone could make it this far along in life without giving props to Mr. Miyagi, but it’s true.

Anyhoo, we remedied this.  Squeezer had been quoting lines from this movie for a while, but only because she was quoting me (“Wax on, wax off!  Daniel-san! Paint the fence!”).  I think the Squeeze had a hard time getting her head around the fact that people used to going around looking like this on purpose (like any classic, the movie does come off a *teensy* bit dated, what with the feathered hair and the 80s guitar riffs and all), but she did like it.  And, she can quote her movie lines with a bit more oomph behind them.

Oh, Ralph Macchio.  So scrawny, and so much older in 1984 than Danny LaRusso was supposed to be, but still so lovable.  Seing those lanky limbs again triggered the memory of my long-since forgotten pre-teen admiration.  It was like running my finger over an old scar.  I couldn’t actually feel the former sensation, but the recollection of having felt that way back in the day was fairly acute.  Only upon seeing the movie, you understand – it’s not like I walk around fantasizing about Ralph in the here and now.  I’m don’t even want the “where is he now?” lowdown – better to leave it alone.  In any case, I can’t deny that once upon a time I’d have given away my Walkman (AND my Like a Virgin cassette tape) to be Elizabeth Shue during the victory scene where she runs up onto the karate mat with a towel around her neck, spiral perm curls bouncing.  Who among us wouldn’t have, I ask you?

I know that Squeezer wasn’t too impressed with Daniel-san‘s feathered hair, but she did like the karate part (she’s now demonstrating her prowess at every opportunity). 

Squeezer is one in a million.  In addition to being ridiculously cute, she’s quite the little crafter.  If you upend a shoebox full of random craft items (bits of paper or fabric, pipe cleaners, sequins, googly-eyes, Mod Podge…you know the type), add some Tacky Glue or a needle and thread, Squeezie could put it all to good use in making something impressive in no time flat.  It’s amazing.   She doesn’t spend time planning it all out (like I do with everything, to the point of paralysis in getting started) – she just does it.

One day she snuggled up to me and asked me if I would teach her to knit.  Oh joy!  I was delighted.

She jumped right in.  Her first creations were posh canine duds for Lainey – her tiny chihuahua-terrier mix – each a wee sweater, and every one of them a hit.  I’ll post these gems when I can get my hands on the pics.  For the moment, allow me to share her WIP, her first article of clothing for herself.  She chose “Two-Tone Ribbed Shrug” from Fitted Knits.  She’s using Cascade 220 Superwash in lovely bright shades: rose pink and lime green (both very Squeezer shades).

Great progress so far, with only one little road bump on the back:  the KFB (knit 1 front and back) stitch has tripped her up a bit here and there in terms of lining up row upon row.  The pic below shows where she stopped (we’re off by a row starting at the spot where I poked in my gold stitch holder).  Very difficult to fix the boo-boo without frogging back to the row with the problem (although you can bet I tried).  Squeezer’s learned basic recovery of dropped stitches in stockinette, but this was a toughie, so I told her I’d make the problem go away.

We’ll give it a little love and report back later.

Silly me.  Now I’ve got Karate Kid on the brain.  Specifically (and annoyingly), I’ve got “You’re the Best (Around)” stuck in my head, with the evil mumble “sweep the leg” reverbing in the mix.  A fine mess I’ve gotten myself into!