Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sock Trouble

Has anyone noticed that it's been a long time since I've posted pictures of finished socks? There's a reason for that. I've had nothing but bad luck when in the sock department lately - really, it's been bad luck with knitting in general.

Let's make a list:
  1. I ran out of yarn before I could finish all the dishcloths I wanted to make for the Yarn Harlot.
  2. I lost the Hat Attack contest.
  3. I got knocked out of Sock Madness in Round Two
And now I present 4, 5, and 6:

I thought a lot about how much and what knitting should go to Indianapolis with me to see the Yarn Harlot. Finally I settled on two projects; the Year of the Rat socks and a Preemie cap. That seemed like a nice balance - something for me and something for others, and a whole bunch of stuff to talk about.

Once I got there, I decided I really wanted to be able to show The Harlot a finished preemie cap. So I worked on it first - and finished it while we were sitting around waiting for the talk to start.

Good news, right? Everything went according to plan. I had a finished hat, and could take my special socks out to see Stephanie.

So I knitted on the socks for the rest of the time waiting. That meant I was starting on the short-row heel right about the time Stephanie showed up, but that still worked out ok. And it meant I started the intarsia just as it was time to line up for autographs, but even that didn't seem to be a big problem. It's only two colors, after all - and I was able to prop my pattern up on a bookshelf as the line wound along. Everything was going beautifully.

Right up until we got to the head of the line, and I stopped to admire the sock's nifty little placket while awaiting our turn. That's when I realized that nothing was going smoothly at all, because I'd been knitting only 3/4 of the way around, so I didn't have a nifty little placket; I had a giant un-knit gap.

That picture of me from yesterday, giving the checkered dishcloth to Stephanie? That's also a picture of me just after I realized that I was about to be ripping out an inch of finicky work, work that I'd completed at the book signing, no less. My companions suggested I ask The Harlot to do my frogging for me, but I don't like to swear a lot the first time I talk to a new person. Besides, I needed pictures.

This is not the only sock trouble I've had lately. Take a look at this, the sock that knocked me out of Sock Madness. Notice there are only four needles here, and I'm mid-round.

I lost the fifth needle, probably while trying to take a somewhat naughty picture of the sock on a grassy mall on campus. I sat down before class to knit, realized I was short a needle, and chewed on my fingers until the break, so I could go out and look for it. I found the place where I'd been by finding the scraps of burst colored condoms (There was a display. The picture seemed like a good idea at the time.), but no knitting needle. No bamboo size 0 knitting needle turned up in the middle of the grass - imagine that.

And there's more. This is the traveling sock I started last May, made with my hand-dyed yarn. Pretty, isn't it? Lovely colors, and a nice, soft, yarn. You'd think, that for a sock so lovely, a mate would fly along, and soon I'd have a beautiful pair, ready to wear before it gets too warm.

You'd also think that, having knit the first sock, I could remember what I did to knit the second. But I can't. Every time I try to start, everything goes smoothly until I get to a pattern round, and then wind up with extra stitches.

Here's what I think the pattern is:

Co 56 stitches
K 1 row
Pattern row: M1, k1, m1, k1, m1, p2tog (3 times), repeat around.
K 2 more rows, and begin again.

To my mind, this should give me 7 repeats of the pattern around the sock. I'm increasing the same number of stitches as I'm decreasing, right? But somehow I keep winding up with extra stitches, and I don't know what's happening. It's not even the same number of extra stitches - it changes depending on whether I start the pattern at the p2tog part of the m1 k1 part. This does not make sense - and remember, I live with a professional mathematician. He can't make sense of it, either.

I can't go back and check, because I pretty much made this one up, heavily modifying another stitch pattern. Since the main thing I changed is the number of stitches in the repeat, and it's the count of stitches that's off, I'm in a lot of trouble. This was supposed to be the sock that got to visit the Barack Obama meeting in Lafayette, but instead it was the sock that got started and ripped out 3 or 4 times over the course of the meeting. Poor sock.

On a brighter note, we have new backyard company. This cardinal has been hanging out around the suet feeder for the past few days - he seems to think he's a hummingbird.

I felt really sorry for him at first, but it turns out he is able to grab some seeds in his brief burst of hovering, then he settles down to scatter them around a bit and enjoy them. Thanks to Aaron's recent gardening efforts, he even has a pretty place to sit and dine.

I wonder if sitting in a garden will help me knit socks again? Hovering might be easier.


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