Sunday, March 20, 2011

Knitting Socks!

I've been bitten by the sock knitting bug. It all started innocently enough, I heard of the existence of the official Harry Potter Sock Yarn, drooled over it, and decided to buy some in late 2008/early 2009 (it was winter, but my memory is fuzzy after that). I made my first trip to a local yarn store to track it down. Though I'd been crocheting for years, I was just relearning knitting. I hadn't discovered Ravelry, knitting blogs, or anything much beyond what my mother taught me which tended toward the big box chain store yarns and Leisure Arts pamphlet patterns. (Note there is nothing wrong with either of those things, there is just a whole world of luxury yarns, natural fibers, and independant designers beyond them.)

Because I had to buy the Harry Potter yarn, I had to learn to knit socks. (At this point it didn't occur to me that I could use sock yarn for something else.) I remember standing in the local yarn store (a little shocked at how much it cost, but remember I'm used to big box store cheap prices for generic acryllic junk), and questioning carefully if one skein would be enough for a pair of socks. They reassured me it would. I took it home and immediately realized I would need to learn to knit in the round. So I made a hat. Other things in life happened. And a year later I was ready to start my socks.

Back I went to my big box store to look for a book or pamphlet for knitting socks. I found Toe-Up Techniques for Hand-Knit Socks by Janet Rehfeldt. Glancing through it, I realized toe up socks made an intrinsic sense to me, grabbed the right size needles and brought it home.

According to my Ravelry page, I started the socks on April 6, 2010. At first it was weird, but very quickly it was a lot of fun.

I finished the first sock in July 2010, but I bound off my regular way and managed to create an edge that would not stretch over my heel. So I put the socks in "time-out" for a while. In the meantime I had discovered a lot about knitting. In October I was travelling back down South for a friend's wedding and I took along the socks as a travelling project. I unpicked the knitting and redid the bind off until it was loose enough to work. I was so proud of myself I immediately took a photo in my friend's parents' kitchen and put it on twitter. A photo I can not find right now, but I know exists.

Started the second sock immediately but it languished as I completed other projects (mostly those baby blankets). But I'd been bitten by the sock knitting bug. I really wanted to join Rockin Sock Club so I made myself a deal. If I finished my socks by January 4th (when signups opened) then I got to join sock club. Then my superstitious/crazy/OCD side kicked in. Clearly if I had my socks done by the new year and were wearing them when I rang in the New Year I would have good knitting mojo all year long.

That would have been completely doable if I were capable of being a monogamous knitter and focusing on only one project. I'm not. Which is how I ended up knitting them on New Year's Eve at an Alaska Aces hockey game. (I have a photo of that somewhere). Then I tried a different type of bind off and it ended up (once again) still too tight (or my heel is too big). Quickly I unpicked the bind off and rebound off and I was wearing them by 11:35pm.

The astute of you will notice that I have ends not woven in. I didn't have my darning needle with me. The next day I wove in the ends, blocked them, and took a better photo.

I've learned a lot since those socks (including that using 5 instead of 4 DPNs will greatly reduce the ladders, that is to say 4 DPNs in the sock and one working needle). However I was really proud of how well I got the self striping yarn to match up even if I really hate how bad the ladders are. I used about half of the yarn on these socks (which are more like ankle socks). I didn't know how big to make them, how much yarn to use, so I stopped prematurely. (Now I know about weighing the yarn, as I have said I learned a lot.)

I've already started my next pair (which aren't the pair I got for my first Rockin Sock Club kit). And I've picked up a ton of other sock yarn (including some real splurges like malabrigo and some hand dyed yarn from some smaller dyers). I think I may have found my new love.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Five Things on a Friday

I'm back... I went on vacation for 12 days and apparently blogging vacation for a month. I've half written a bunch of posts, but here are some of them condensed, five things style.

  1. If you're a librarian or at all tuned into the library blogoverse, twitter feeds, or listservs at all in the last few weeks then you're aware of the controversy over Harper Collins ebooks. A short recap, Harper Collins (one of the biggest United States publishers) decided that all of the ebooks they sell to libraries through distributor Overdrive (the most popular service used by libraries to provide downloadable ebooks and audiobooks) will expire after 26 checkouts. Library Journal had a good article about it and then Overdrive weighed in with their response. Lots of librarians/bloggers/library systems also weighed in. Google it or search for the twitter tag #hcod and you'll get thousands of responses. I particularly like the response of Librarian in Black.

  2. Our collection development librarian has decided that our system will not be buying Harper Collins ebooks whenever we can avoid it. Paperbacks have a limited number of checkouts before they're in such bad condition that they can't circulate anymore. We try to avoid buying those whenever possible unless the book is super popular and that's the only way to get it (such as graphic novels). Our budget is small and we make tough choices like that. We try to buy books that will last the longest and be enjoyed by the most patrons. 26 ebook circulations just won't do it.

  3. Keeping with my ereader theme, there's another rumor circulating that Amazon will start giving away Kindles as soon as November. The gist of the rumor is that if you're an Amazon Prime subscriber (you pay $80/year for unlimited free 2-day shipping) then you get a free Kindle. Amazon Prime is a good deal for Amazon because even if they're consumers use it often enough to make their money back on shipping, Amazon still makes money because people aren't likely to stray from Amazon even if another seller has a lower price. Giving people a free Kindle just further locks them into the Amazon world and it's a very viable business model if they can get the Kindle hardware production costs down enough. Plus it would entice more people to join Amazon Prime. It will be interesting to see in the next few years how many more places follow this model.

  4. The Iditarod is in full swing. I love the Iditarod. This year we have an Iditarod map up and little yellow pieces of paper with mushers names tacked on it. Once a day our Associate Librarian (who rocks so hard it's barely legal) moves all the little people to their new position. It's a lot of work (THANKS TERESA!) but it seems to be very popular up here. Mitch Seavey had to withdraw due to an injured hand which makes me sad. So now I'm rooting for his son - Go Dallas!

  5. I fell into Graphic Novels rather backwards. First I started ordering them for the library, then I started reading them, then I fell in love with them. I've reached the next stage. I'm thinking about taking home an anime to watch this weekend. I'm already kinda crazy with the knitting things so hopefully someone will stop me before I'm going to conventions in costume. (There's nothing wrong with going to conventions in costume but I'd prefer to limit the number of consuming crazy-making passions I have and I want to go to knitting conventions.)