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Friday, April 24, 2009

Changing Lanes

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Meet George. He's a little camera shy. When I'm "far" from his home, he'll relax and swim about. He seems to sense when I'm coming up to him with the camera in hand, then goes into hiding. George came home with us after DD & I stopped by this pet store just to look. I already had a small 2 gal aquarium from aeons ago, so all I needed was food, water conditioner, 2 plants, gravel, and of course George. He didn't seem very happy in his pint-sized plastic container (which contained unnatural blue colored water!) and seemed much happier once he moved into his new home. He could finally swim around!

DD went through several name possibilities, gender specific and non-gender specific. I think she has settled on George, but we'll see as the week progresses whether the name George has stuck.

I need to go back to the pet store to look at food alternatives. The pellets will be fine for his main diet, however a "treat" now and then would be nice too. I also wanted to look at one more decorative item, something like a "cave" where George can retreat to when he wants more privacy.

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This yarn (RavLink) , Min eral Blue

I found myself needing a break from the itty bitty 2.25 mm pointy sticks I'm using on the red pair of socks [See 18Apr2008 post for Sock 1]. I had worked up to the gusset section of Sock 2 before deciding to set it aside temporarily and then cast on for Pair #5 using BIG needles ... I'm talking about my 2.75 mm needles. :-D

I know it must sound silly when there is only a 0.5 mm difference between the two sizes, however there is a world of difference that can be felt in my hands while I'm knitting with the "big" needles.

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Pair 5 Sock 1, 64st 2.75 mm

Alright, I must admit that there was another reason for starting this blue sock. I was running out the door with DD to go to the park and wanted to bring a mindless knitting project with me. So I grabbed this ball plus some needles and cast on while at the park. I didn't want something complicated that would require referring to a pattern (good thing too cuz it was windy that day and any papers would have been whooshed away), so I just started a basic cable after finishing the toe section. There is nothing easier than cabling every 4th row, and knowing which way to twist the stitches by reading the knitting. Really ,this is much easier than it appears.

I'm not sure I like having such a long stockinette toe section before beginning the pattern. I suppose I could have started the cables earlier (viz. in the toes section). I'm still undecided. I think it would look better with the pattern running all the way down (or partway down) the toe. On the other hand, I'm also worried about the the added bulk in the toe section created by these cables. I'm leaning towards keeping the toe plain stockinette.

Am I difficult to please? I feel like I've reached the crossroads again and must decide whether to continue northwards on this sock or rip back southwards a bit. Right now I have knit about an inch past the completed gusset. I'm not very satisfied with how it is fitting around my ankle so I am in the process of working increases in a very sloppy on-the-fly sort of way. This means I didn't sit down to plan for a seamless transition and the increases are not well placed. And the result? Holes everywhere! I've placed this sock on mini-time-out so that I can think about which path to take. I could rip back to the foot section and rework it northwards again. The easy thing to do would be to forge ahead, learn from my mistakes, and try to do better with Sock 2. Which would you choose? The rougher dirt path in 3.5" stiletto heels? Or the smoother paved path in well worn sneakers?

One other thing I'm not too pleased with is my uneven tension. I was definitely loosey goosey in the foot section, then I tightened it up a bit after that. I was measuring a 1" section at one point and it come out closer to 7 spi ! Yep, that's loosey goosey.

I sometimes feel like all I do is B&M about my knitting. I do have something nice to say about this sock. I love how soft this yarn feels. It is the same yarn I used for my blue socks and my pink socks, yet this particular colorway feels much softer! All 3 colorways are the same wool/nylon blend. However I think this one has more of a "halo" on the yarn strands. Perhaps this has something to do with the softness. ?? The knitted fabric also has nicer feel and drape, not as stiff as the other two. This colorway also seems more prone to snaging too.

I must admit that I haven't been knitting much lately. We had a heat wave on Monday (94°) and it gradually cooled over the following days but it was still uncomfortably hot/warm for me. I've been feeling extra tired due to the heat; I was so exhausted on Monday that I thought I'd go lie down for "just a moment" after dinner and I didn't wake up until 10 PM! I usually don't feel like knitting when it's too hot. And I'm not totally accustomed to all this heat in my new town, having lived most of my life in the foggy side of the City by the Bay. Thank goodness for air conditioning. My neighbors across the street, who have lived here for decades, haven't had to turn on their A/C yet. Give me a few decades and may acclimate like they have...

Well, I have started one other little knitting project last night, but I can't show you any photos until June. I am test knitting a mitt for Dianna (RavProfile here), who is designing the June KAL for this RavGroup. What I can tell you is that I am using this yarn in blue with 4.5 mm DPNs. :-) Oh and the knitting seems to be moving along at Mach 2 compared to the socks.

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I've started caffeinating myself in the mornings again. Right now I am enjoying a cup of P's Major's D's blend. Mmmm... good stuff! This store used to be within walking distance in my old town. I can't complain though, I am fortunate enough to be close to 2 stores in my new town. :-) Not walking distance, this is the burbs where you have to drive everywhere.

I love my coffee grinder, it is small and does the job quickly/easily. I've had it for aeons and it is still working fine. However there is one thing I have learned... white is not a good color for a coffee grinder. You notice every speck of coffee that sticks to the outside surface like a magnet. Seems like common sense. What color is coffee? Of course this would also happen with a black one too, it'd just be less noticeable. Unfortunately I can't really justify replacing mine with a black one since it is still going strong after all these years.

I watched the new Indy Jones movie last week. It's an easy film to watch, perfect for knitting to. There's nothing really new about it, same old stuff, predictable, far-fetched at times, mildly entertaining if you go in without high expectations. HF is getting too old to do this sort of movie; the dude will be 67 in a few months.

I am a little sad about nearing the end of this British TV series. The season is quite short, only 8 episodes. I have the penultimate episode (#7) Tivoed and there is one last episode coming down the pike. I kinda want to hold off on watching ep #7 so it doesn't have to end so soon. OTOH, I am looking forward to TW Children of the Earth beginning sometime this summer.

Well, it's time to finish up my coffee, pay some bills, figure out what books need to be returned to the library, and see if I can find the correct filter cartridge for George's home. I really should go see what kind of tank heating options are available as George likes warm waters around 76° to 86° F. I'll probably end up getting some decorations and alternative foods (brine shrimp? bloodworms?) for his treat.

Copyright © Smariek Knits 2005-2009. All full copyright rights are reserved by Smariek Knits.
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mineraloid Gel


I picked up a little Mineraloid Gel a little while back. Just a few balls, some in my favorite colors and some in colors I normally wouldn't choose, but I was making an effort to break out of my color comfort zone.

Ok, maybe more than just a "few" balls. I couldn't help myself! I just have an for sock yarn. And I wanna knit socks!!!


So what all did I get? Take a look...

Some blues. I really like the darker one and prolly shoulda picked up more.

Some reds. One is very bright; V saw it up close and commented on its retina piercing brightness. I'm currently using this for the socks you saw in progress here. The other is more rust or orange than I like. Perhaps I'll change my mind once it is knitted up.

A green. Green has never been my color, so this will be gift socks to someone.

A light brown. I was thinking it might be a good choice for a guy who doesn't want something too bright or colorful.

I love this fuchsia pink. (I later picked up 1 more)

And my favorite is the purple, hence 3 balls. (I later picked up one more)

Oh, and the 2 balls at the top of the stack is just some Re.gia Stretch.

I'm supposed to be on a yarn diet this year and just shop from stash. So please confirm that sock yarn doesn't count!!! After rough count of all the sock yarn in my stash and knowing that I knit socks at a rate of one pair per month (if I knit nothing else but socks), I am all set in the sock yarn dept for the next 5.5 years. You do the math. Despite this, I still can't help looking though...

I have finished the 3rd bag strap, this one is for the burgundy bag. You can see the knitted handles for the red and black bags plus the fabric liners for all three bags over here. The ball is in V's court now, she will figure out how to attach these to the bags either before or after sewing on the fabric liner.

Pair 4 Sock 1 64st 2.25mm

Related posts:
10Apr2009 post (7 Photos)

I do have one sock finished for Pair 4. It was a hasty finish at the cuff because I just wanted to get it over with. I like the front side. Sorry about the photos, it was not a good marriage of sock & lighting that day.

Not satisfied with how the side looks. I think I'd like the XO motif to move away from the back and more towards the sides.

If you look at the photos of the back heel from the last post, you will see how snug it fits from how stretched out the knitting & cables appear. It was fitting snugly (not in a very bad way) around my leg near the ankles, and as I worked upwards, I decided to add a couple of stitches on the sides to help the top part fit my widening leg. This is why you see this odd cable twist come out of nowhere at the side (near the top). Very sloppily done indeed.

The front cuff section is similar to the mitts. In my haste to finish, I did not put much thought into the back cuff section and it shows.

I have started Sock 2 with 4 extra stitches. As a result of this change, I had to make a minor tweak to the small cable twist on the front side, and I redid the entire back because I did not like the way it was arranged in Sock 1. Slow progress here. I thought I was done with the heel flap, then I discovered I had 35 sts! Where did that extra stitch come from? Oh! Right, I moved 1 st from the instep to the other needle so that I could start that needle with a knit stitch instead of a purl stitch. My bad for not paying attention and moving it back to the instep needle before starting the heel flap. I've just finished reknitting the heel flap and will start the whole heel turn magic and gusset rounds when I have a good chunk of time to devote to it.

V came by and brought this DVD with her. We watched it this afternoon and OMG it was sooooo hilarious!!! It was refreshing to hear humour with clean language.

Here's a pic of her on stage in this performance. She looks great for her 50s. (I think you can see a larger pic by clicking on it)

Copyright © Smariek Knits 2005-2009. All full copyright rights are reserved by Smariek Knits.

Friday, April 10, 2009


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I finished The Historian some time back and found it a nice diversion at first, then it dragged a little, and then I suddenly found it was over and felt dissatisfied with how it ended. Oh well, I've moved on to Innocent Traitor which I picked up a while back and then forgot about. I've read many of AW's biographies about British royalty and enjoyed them all; the author's official website is here. This is my first experience with her historical fiction. I like it so far.

I've made it through Torchwood season 1, except for disc 7 specials. Love love LOVE the series! I'll try to watch this last disc within a week. Will have to hold off on Torchwood season 2, cuz we need to catch up on all the other Tivoed stuff. I've been watching this Dickens miniseries and am thrown off by seeing Martha and Gwen in their Dickensian roles. I had never read Little Dorrit before so I have no idea how true to the book this miniseries is.

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64 st 2.25 mm

Related posts:
18Apr2009 post (4 photos)

I've been pushing some fiber around some sticks lately, this is my latest exercise. I'm using the red yarn you saw last time. Does this look familiar? It's my second attempt at this. You saw my first failed attempt (pink yarn) last month where the short row heel didn't fit well. This red yarn is slightly thinner than the pink yarn. The pink one was worked on 56 sts, this red one is 64 sts on 2.25 mm ndls. It is fitting very nicely around my foot, MUCH better than the pink attempt.

I'm trying out the underfoot heel flap with this one and it fits nice and snug. This is my 3rd time using the underfoot heel flap and I am liking it !

That white spec on the right side of the sock, directly above the "ri" of my watermark, is a small section of un-dyed yarn. I was hoping it would fall on the back side of the sock but there was no such luck.

After turning the heel and picking up stitches, I decided to work in some cables at the back of the heel while doing the gusset decrease. I had several ideas for what to do with the back side of the leg and went with a quick easy one that didn't require too much brain power to keep track of relative to the instep/front side pattern. It is entirely intentional that "pattern" rounds on the back side coincide with the "pattern" rounds on the front side ... that way I don't have to keep track of which side to work a "pattern" on every round. It works nicely the other way around too, the "plain" rounds are the same for both front & back. This isn't much to look at right now, and I'm not entirely sure I am liking how "stretched out" the cabling is coming out. But knitting on....

Gusset decrease completed plus a few more pattern repeats on the front side later and it is looking quite nice on the front side. It actually looks like a sock from this perspective. :-D

I'm not entirely happy with the cable choices for the backside of the sock. The XO looks squashed due to lateral stretching.

You can see how much stretching goes on back there when you look at the purl stitches. Still doesn't look very nice on the back side. It is supposed to be a column of little circles, which is surrounded by columns of XO on each side. Can you see it?

It's not easy to see it when the sock is on foot. So here's a flat view of the back side. It's definitely looks better unstretched and flat.

I guess now would be a good time to explain how these cable panels were chosen. It all started with this scarf which later spawned the matching mitts. This sock is my attempt to amalgamate the cable panels from both scarf & mitt. It's not quite working out the way I would like though. :-(

This is bag you see in the background of my photos. It's actually a kids garden tote I spied on a trip to the Big Bullseye Store. Isn't that cute? I love how the sides remain standing up. My big 100 gm ball of sock yarn sits nicely in there (along with the project itself). There are pockets along the outside which can hold little knitting knick knacks. I can keep the tote on the floor next to me, and easily pull for more yarn with the open-top/stand-up-sides design. (I have lots of "floppy" tote bags that are nicely sized for medium to large size projects, but their "floppy" nature can be frustrating). This little garden tote is perfect for the portable sock project. It doesn't hurt that it is cute an so springlike.

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A's Mitts

I've received photos of A wearing the mitts I made her. I wasn't sure how they would fit since I didn't have a 6 yr old or kindergartener handy for sizing purposes. I'm glad the mitts fit her. Her dad tells me that she loves them.

The purple mitt you see underneath A's mitts is the same one you saw here.

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Let's see, what else is going on in my neck of the burbs. I'm still working on the handle for the burgundy bag, you saw the fabric liner for the bag here. I am about halfway done with this strap and hope to finish it soon so I can give it (and the handles for the red bag and black bag) to V when we meet next Friday.

M & I colored Easter eggs yesterday. We started out with a dozen, lost 2 to cracking during the boiling process, and then this morning she dropped one on the floor. So now we have 9. The idea of coloring eggs seems more exciting than the act of doing it. M keeps asking "is it done yet?" type questions most of the time ... while the egg are boiling, while the coloring tablets are dissolving, while the eggs are immersed for their color bath, and while they are drying.

We picked up a cheapo cookie press and may get to try it out today or this weekend. I thought this would be easy & fun with M, without the mess of using a rolling pin. If this works out, I'll have to consider a stainless steel version. Oh, we also picked up sprinkles! I've never used sprinkles before. It's not rocket science, right? Just throw it on after the cookies come out of the oven? I made sure we got some in purple. :-)

Copyright © Smariek Knits 2005-2009. All full copyright rights are reserved by Smariek Knits.

Saturday, April 04, 2009


Related posts:
28Mar2009 post (8 Photos)
22Mar2009 post (9 Photos)

Impilium Tertium

Practice Pair 3

Here's the happy pair. Sock 1 is on the bottom, Sock 2 is on top. You can distinguish them by the ribbing in the gusset (scroll down for close up of heel/gusset). I used Red Heart's Heart & Sole yarn on 2.75 mm pointy sticks. I only picked up 2 balls in passing while M & I were looking for rubber stamps for her Valentine's Day Cards project. Now that I have tried it out, I think I should have picked up more back then. While I was Michael's, the lady who worked there mentioned that they would not be restocking it. So if I want more of this yarn, I will have to find it elsewhere. I wonder if the other local crafts store, Jo-Ann's , carries it. Oh, I just looked on their online website and they sell it online only.

Foot stripes

I liked how this pair came out, especially with the stripe matching. It's not an exact match, but it is close enough.

Leg Stripes

I ended the 2nd sock 3 rounds early so that I could bind off using the same blue color section as in the 1st sock. Thankfully this 3 round difference isn't noticeable. Even if it were a wee bit more noticeable, I think I'd still bind off in the same color. When people take a quick glance at the socks, they'll assume they're identical because they have the same color on top.

Toes (left=JMCO, right=ET)

I was surprised that the toes on both look about the same. I started both with the same color in the same part of the striping sequence, however I CO differently for each. Sock 1 was an easy toe. Sock 2 was Judy's Magic Cast On. I definitely prefer the latter for its ease. It's definitely easier for me to fish out 2 circs than a crochet hook and waste yarn (besides being PCO challenged).

There is just one thing I don't like about Judy's Magic Cast On. I get this little "knot" on one side of the toe. I CO for Pair 4 and experienced the same "knot". I haven't figured out why this happens. I'll knit the stitches from Needle 1, turn to start Needle 2 and this is where the "knot" appears. It's not an actual knot, but it sure does feel like a small lumpy knot. I don't really notice (feel) it while I'm wearing the sock.

Sock 2 heel/gusset

Here is a close-up of the heel/gusset of Sock 2 where I started ribbing on the back side at the beginning of the gusset decrease. (details on how I worked this is here) I suppose I could have used a standard "heel stitch" back there too, perhaps I'll try that next time. Sigh, 3 pairs of socks and still not one pair containing identical socks. They are all knit up with different tweaks.

These two photos will show you how they look:

Pair sides

Sock 1 on right side

Sock 2 on left side

I like the heel/gusset section of Sock 2 more than Sock 1. Which do you prefer? (There is a close up of the heel/gusset of Sock 1 here)

Here's a top view of the pair. Sock 2 on the left ... see the bit of red color on the right side of the toe? The "knot" from the JMCO is located there. Can you tell that Sock 2 (left) is 3 rounds shorter in the leg?

Here are a couple of shoe shots. Bored yet with all these photos? I'll probably go lighter on the photos after the sock newness has worn off. I'm having so much fun with socks, I have absolutely no idea when I'll get to all my other knitting!!!

Project Summary:
-- Red Heart's Heart & Sole yarn, Ravelry yarn link here.
-- CO 12/24 (ET on sock 1; JMCO on sock 2), 2.75 mm
-- 60 sts
-- 46 rnds foot -> ~6"
-- 28 row heel flap
-- heel/gusset mods here
-- 55 rnds leg on sock 1; 52 on sock 2 (to BO in same blue color for "visual match")
-- leg ~9" from bottom to cuff; leg ~7.5" from floor to cuff, when worn


If you remember back in Feb, I mentioned V & I getting together to talk about the bags we've been working on for aeons. She showed me the fabric she chose for lining them and we decided to go with knit handles for them. Since then I've made some progress on the handles. These are the straps for the red bag and the black bag. I'm chipping away at the handle for the burgundy bag. (You saw part of the red one earlier in my 28Feb09 post) I don't really enjoy knitting with the ginormous 8 mm (US11) needles after knitting with 2.25 mm to 2.75 mm needles. These little strips are about 40 inches long, I think. I've measured the red one 3 times and the black one once. Unfortunately my short term memory cannot recall what the exact measurement is.

Here are the three fabrics V chose for lining the bags. One style fabric per bag, or they can be mixed & matched. Haven't decided which way to go yet since each fabric could work for all three bags. How would you match up the fabrics to the bags?

I think my favorite one is the black one with the golden flowery stems, on the far right in the last photo.

Impilium Quartum

I've started Pair 4 with Opal sock yarn (Ravelry Link) in this retina piercing rubescent color. This is my first time working with this yarn. A little while back, Suzann had recommended sock yarn, so I picked up some of this and also a couple of balls of the other major brand you saw here. I am enjoying this red yarn despite its blinding color. It had a tendency to twist on itself at first. You would have thought it odd to see me holding the yarn up with the sock dangling so that it could naturally unwind itself. I did that a few times at the beginning when the toe/foot section was short.

While knitting the beginning of the foot section, a bit of undyed yarn revealed itself in the ball. I was hoping this would somehow end up underfoot. No luck. It ended up on one side of the instep (front side). Oh well. Nothing I can do about that.

I'm working the heel/gusset section now. Will show sock pics next time...

At this rate, I am in no danger of SSS. :-D

Copyright © Smariek Knits 2005-2009. All full copyright rights are reserved by Smariek Knits.