Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sock, Deconstructed

I have been accused (and not entirely wrongly) of being stubborn from time to time. And when it comes to my fiber creations, I am especially reluctant to admit defeat.

This is especially apparent when, contrary to my own eyes and my sense of space and time, I will continue stitching a sleeve for a sweater I am making for my sister even though the sleeve has grown long enough to fit an adult giraffe's leg! Eventually, I will admit to myself that something might be wrong and re-think the sleeve.

But once I have actually finished a project, the piece always seem to take on an existence, comes into its own, if you will and admitting it is "wrong" in some way seems like passing judgement on it. I mean, doesn't a jacket that could not possibly fit anyone in real life have the same right to exist as one worn proudly every day? Afterall, it's not the jacket's fault.

That said, you can imagine the emotional turmoil I experienced when it came to the Shi Bui socks I made early in my attempts to discover the seemingly elusive well-fitted crocheted sock. Although they looked like socks, they would not fit comfortably into a shoe like a sock should. And afterall, shouldn't that be the sole function of a sock? (Pardon the pun.) Maybe I could have kept them in a box somewhere, only to pull them out every now and then like an old photograph and "remember when..."

I was startled - shaken, really - when I realized for the first time that I was actually considering unravelling the socks to re-work the yarn into a sock I could use as a sock. What was I thinking?? Eliminate a creation? It's not like I need the yarn, given my stash.

But then a sense of peace came over me when I realized that the maybe the sock wanted to be re-worked - kinda like plastic surgery for wool, or something. Yeah, that's it! The wool had been denied becoming the useful sock it was meant to be. Just because it had the unfortunate luck of landing into my fumbling and unlearned hands, should I force it to remain in a form less than it aspires to be? How could I be so cruel?

In a rare act of submission, I quickly reclaimed the wool to its balled form in attempt to set things right with the universe and cleanse my karma.

Now, about that jacket...



Sunday, October 28, 2007

It's Not Easy Being Green

This is my favorite time of year. No, I do not mean fall or autumn. I mean Halloween! Of course, the best Halloween is one that falls on a Friday or a Saturday, but even when it does not (like this year) it is still great!

I love to disguise myself in an intricate costume (details, details!) and go out in public or to parties crowded with friends who spend most of the night asking each other "Who IS that? Do we know that person??" The greatest compliment I could receive to my disguise-making attempts is when someone who sees me daily - or even weekly - states with sincere amazement that they had know idea it was me.

Keeping in sync with my color infatuation du jour, I went as my favorite fictional character. That's right, The Wicked Witch from The Wizard of Oz. Something about her unabashed green-ness and her unapologetic over-use of black in her wardrobe has always appealed to me, even as a youngster. And don't get me started on that fabulous, full length cape!!

The party I went to (with my best bud, Margaret) was a fundraiser for a local event attending by at least 150 or so others. Although alot of people were not in costume and were only there to support the cause or see the show, there was a great cohesiveness among the painted and the unadorned. All said, I took home a prize to enjoy later, but it is the memories of the look of shock and discovery on my friends' faces that I will long carry with me.

On the fiber front, I finished the Maggi-O socks. They turned out pretty well. The best thing is that they actually fit her. I tried something different with the toe and heel sections of the "pattern" this time. I love the tweaking process when I am creating a new base-pattern for something I will make several times in the future, but I think I finally have a process and stitch pattern I can be comfortable with for a long time to come.

After my shower last night to de-green myself, I sat listening to a cd and worked on the crocheted lace project some more. Now that the sock thing is down and the happiest day of the year is behind me, I can truly give this project the focus it deserves. (Plus, time is running short and I need to have it completed soon!) Here's a little teaser photo for those of you that like that sort of thing.
Now, if I can just stay focussed and not allow another fiber-related distraction...

Yeah, yeah, I know. Slim chance of that...



Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A New Fix

During a quick (and unplanned) trip for my day job, I was able to complete another pair of crocheted socks. (Waiting in airports and seemingly endless flights have become welcome opportunities for encounters with sticks and strings!) You may remember the first pair I made... an altered pattern (yeah, yeah. I know. What pattern have I NOT altered?) that I found via the Ravelry "Recipe for SOCK-cess" group. (here's the pattern I started with: http://www.scribd.com/doc/211932/Cabled-Socks )

For the first attempt, I used Shi Bui sock yarn. I changed the toe slightly, but keeping the cables on the top of the sock and along the upper portion of the foot, I put only ribbing along the sole, eliminating the cables there.

The socks feel great on - as long as I'm sitting - but I'm not crazy about the the way it feels when I stand on them... Not to mention that the result was a sock that wouldn't fit comfortably into a shoe!

Enter the pattern - altered even more. Altered so much in fact, that it hardly resembles the original pattern except that it results in a sock, and has double crochet ribbing. I kept the foot portion tightly stitched and thin. I also reduced the cables to only one set on the leg-portion.

I love these socks! And they feel so great on, that I wore them to work today! I even kept them on all day, neverminding that I had a "back-up" pair of plain, blue dress socks - just in case.

But now I have a problem... I can't stop making socks! There is something so enjoyable about it. Maybe it's because they are so portable. Maybe it's watching the sock grow 1/16th of an inch at a time is such detailed work. All I know is that, it's.. well, it's addictive!

I started another pair for my best friend Margaret almost as soon as I had this pair done. But even though I am only about half-way through her first sock, I have been surfing the net, scouring really, in search of more sock yarn!

Speaking of which, I need to cut this post short. I have a new addiction to feed!



The Crimson Shawl is progressing nicely - albeit between ribbing stitches!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hey, Kool-Aid!

Sorry to disappoint, but you should not expect pictures of me breaking through walls dressed as a favorite drink/character from childhood. Instead, expect tales of my journeys through a fiber-filled world.

I'm always experimenting and trying something new with fiber. My latest journey has involved lace-weight merino wool. I read about this yarn on the Yarn Harlot's blog when she was using it to make a mystery stole. (At $14 US for over 1400 yards, I figured it was cheap enough to play around with and if the experiments went poorly, I wouldn't be feeling the pain in my wallet.) So I ordered a couple of skeins online from the Loopy Ewe - nice folks, give them a shout -and off I went!

After trying my hand crocheting with a lace-weight yarn for the first time, it wasn't long before I became "bored" with the seemingly endless repetition of tiny white stitches.

Enter our hero.

All together now...

"Hey. Kool-Aid!"

I mixed up a yarn bath of powdered drink mix (and a little vinegar for acidity) being careful not to agitate the wool in the hot water. Afterall, felting is fun too, but that was not the goal this time. Like magic, I could almost immediately see the color moving into the fiber.

After about 30 minutes (more time than needed, I know, but I wanted to be sure) I drained the now-clear water, gently blotted the excess water and hung the hank to dry overnight.

The next day, I could hardly wait to stretch the hank onto the swift and ball up the luscious fiber!

The colors were amazing! The vareigated effect, no doubt from not stirring the fiber in the pot of hot water, was nearly hypnotizing. My mouth was nearly watering as I gazed on the deep burgundies, the rich rubies and the lighter crimson highlights. I was torn between just standing there staring at the yarn and a desire to have it balled up so I could start (yet another) project.

In the end, I couldn't have been more pleased with the resulting ball of endless possibilities.

I immediately started a lacy shawl to give as a gift next month, but you'll have to wait for pictures of that until it's finished!

Until then,