Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Time trials

I didn't join the Knitting Olympics (Go Team Wales!), preferring mild, stress-relieving projects at this particular point in my life. But oddly enough, I started knitting with a stopwatch at my side this week. This is because a stranger asked how long it takes me to knit a pair of socks, and I realized I have no idea. "A couple weeks," I said, "depending on how much time I have to work on them." But it got me thinking: how long does it take me to knit a pair of socks?

While I'm at it, I thought I'd work on some updates to my preferred sock pattern. I could use some new pictures.

I began with a Turkish cast-on, but onto one circular needle (40 inch, size US3). I tied one end of my yarn (Mountain Colors Bearfoot "Indian Corn") to the flexible cable, held the needle next to the cable, and looped my yarn behind, up over, and around 12 times. Then I tied the second strand on to the bottom cable and made 12 more loops.

Trying to keep the tension tight, I knit across these stitches. When I turn to do the other side, I first dropped the temporary knot off the needle, pulled it tight and held it back out of the way, and knit across the other side of the cast-on loops.

I'm increasing for the banded toes this way:

K1, YO, K up to the last stitch on this sock, YO, K1. Repeat around.

On the next round, you'll twist the yarn-overs so they don't leave holes. Knit the first yarn-over through the back loop. You can do the same to the yarn-over at the other end of the sock, or you can twist it the other way to make mirrored increases. (I find it easiest to drop the yarn-over off the left needle, pick it up again from back to front, then twist the stitch by knitting through the front). This has the same effect as lifted increases, but it's easier to do because the stitches aren't pulled so tight.

It took me about an hour and half to make the toes. Here's a picture of the socks after nearly two hours knitting time.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Librarian 2.0

Yesterday, I drove two and a half hours so that my balding, talking head could be digitized for a library e-learning module about MPOW. Five hours in a car requires an audiobook. I've been wanting to listen to Sarah Vowell's "Assassination Vacation," but no store had it in stock and no library had it available. Not being in the mood to fight the digital rights management battles required to download audiobooks from the library (it's totally not worth it), I was going to settle for what I could find on the local library shelves. Then I remembered that iTunes sells audiobooks. In seconds, I found Assassination Vacation on iTunes, bought it, and downloaded it to my computer and Nano.

The book comes in three parts, each part 2.5 hours long, exactly the time it took to drive from my apartment to the regional library system studio where I was taping. It's like it was Meant To Be.

If I ran a library, I would be looking to see what I could do with this. Not just following the Shifted Librarian's suggestion to buy some iPod shuffles to circulate. How about a public iTunes download station? Let library users set up their 'pods on the station and download a title or two to their own devices? The library could even rip their own CD's to the public iTunes station. Look, you know that iPod owners check out the CD's and rip them to their devices; why don't we just save them the trouble? This isn't total anarchy -- we're librarians: we'll find some way to impose rules.

So it was a "good librarian" day for me. I helped create training for new library workers, I was able to explore new media consumption and imagine how it can be brought into the library environment, and I got to wear my new "Don't make me shush your ass" t-shirt out in public.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Starting Socks

(I long to be an ebullient blogger, freely sharing my ample wit with an adoring public. I wish I were more like Franklin or Marilyn, but I'm just not. Instead, the best I can do is boring shit like this. But to the few who faithfully check back hoping I'll say something interesting, bless you).

I've been thinking a lot (too much?) about the toes of my toe-up socks. My usual method has some drawbacks -- not the fact that I don't really do both socks at once (I complete one toe, set it aside, complete the second, then start working both together). No, the problem is that the short-row method creates a line of loops on the inside. I can feel them with my toes.

Despite my fondness for the Patricia Gibson-Roberts yarn-over method of short rows, I admit that the more traditional "wrapping" of a stitch makes a tighter, cleaner result. I seem only last week to have overcome my learning disability with picking up the wraps correctly.

There are still loops on the inside, but they're smaller.

The breakthrough? It wasn't the Short Row How-To Guide published in the Winter 2004 Interweave Knits. It was the Shortrow Spiral afghan square I contributed to the blanket my list siblings made for Charles.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Show off

"I hear you knit socks," someone said to me before a meeting yesterday. Now there's a conversation starter I can't resist. Kinda brings out the show-off in me too, and yesterday I was prepared: when she went on to say,"Have you seen the new Nancy Bush book?" I pulled out the pair of "Gentleman's Fancy Socks" that I'm working on.

In Mountain Colors Bearfoot, adapted to my preferred toe-up, two at once, Magic Loop method. I love the texture of this stitch with its little, staggered bricks. Simple too: 8 rounds of K2P2 rib, 2 rounds plain knit, 8 rounds of P2K2, and then 2 more plain knit rounds.