Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Stripe Edits for socks

Again, I'm playing with the new camera. And socks. I actually have useful information about the socks, though. That is, useful to those who are reckless enough to buy questionable sock yarn from the sale bin, yarn that catches the eye, yarn that has an eye-catching "40% off" tag, yarn that might not be a bit too... loud.

Now, who would do something so foolish, I wonder, hmmm? After all, if the crowds of knitters that pass through the busy yarn shop in my area didn't want it, it's obviously got a problem. Whatever its problem, I'm trying to fix it.

Perhaps it's still too..., but I find it a little less so, now that I've edited the stripes. Using my Burning Stripes striping method, I added in a stripe of a more muted color, a color that is very close to one of the colors in this bright colorway. I simply added the stripe whenever the colors in the bright colorway changed, separating the burgundy from the green, the green from the light green, and the light green from the yellow, separating of those loud colors with a muted orange stripe. When the orange in the bright colorway came along, I let it stripe. No sense separating orange from yellow with more orange. As a further edit, I cut out the pink. It seemed unrelated to these colors. In spite of the jarring juxtaposition it creates, I will try using the pink scraps to stripe the toe.

The first time I knit the lime and white stripe, the colors stacked for all three rows in a super-cute fashion. Decreasing a few stitches lost that effect, but produced randomness that is nice in its own way.

I'm amazed at the accuracy of the replication of this sock in these photos. I had to use RAW files to get these colors, but it was worth it. Darn worth it. Here's the one jpeg I liked. It sorta shows where I decreased those stitches along the seam.

The jpeg literally pales by comparison. Too-blue greens, light yellows, blah oranges--that's not my sock! Nice seamline, though. Too bad you can't really see the pair of decreases after the second burgundy stripe. There's another pair after the lime green, before the heel. I hid them in the muted orange yarn. They are probably even harder to see because the yarn ball is more in focus than the sock at that point. I wasn't trying to make the shaping noticeable, though. I've got nothing against using shaping as accent, just not this time. Using color as an accent was enough.

What a heel! The sock turns inside out at that point, and the seamline really stands out against the purl stitches.

The yarn is ONline Supersocke Savanne Color no. 1035, striped with Inca Sportlace. Link is to my Ravelry project page for these socks.

I found a fairly fresh flower in the strawberries when I opened the box this morning. They tasted even better than they look.

I just came across Bloglovin, a blog feeder that is rather easy. By typing "knit" in the search, I found over 1,000 knit blogs. They insisted on a link to claim my blog, which I put in the sidebar under my Twitter link.

Follow my blog with bloglovin!

So now I've put it here, too.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

About that camera, and socks

I completed a wonderful pair of socks last month, surely the most luxurious socks I've knit to date. They've got some cashmere, a lot of merino, and princess feet to spoil me. But, really, this post is not about the socks at all.

In spite of that, I feel obligated to provide a few technical details about these socks: the yarn is a delightful merino/cashmere/nylon mix from The Plucky Knitter; the pattern is Saguaro, an easy knit with simple cables that look pretty but lie flat and don't pull too tight. The foot is knit inside out, a feat that required knitting the cables from the purl side along the instep, as well as along the heel in one sock due to a miscalculation. It wasn't hard to do and gives me a smooth mostly stockinette foot that feels great against my feet. The heel turn is reinforced with an extra strand of bamboo-flavored sock yarn to protect the spot that wears out first. (Warning: the link to the sock pattern actually takes you to the designer's blog. The pattern download button is on the sidebar to the right, a goodly ways down. Don't get lost in her blog, which is madly interesting, if you want to hear about my new camera. Come back to me!)

Details done, I'll now use these sock photos to make a few observations about my new camera. All the photos in this post, and most of the photos posted here since the beginning of the year were taken with a Canon G12. Basically, I like it. It's undeniably better than my old camera, a Canon A710 that had been dropped too many times. It focuses all the time, every time. It has all the features of my old camera, plus many I haven't quite mastered and probably don't need.

The greatest thing about it, so far, is the screen that rotates and tilts so that I can see it from the front of the camera. That means I know exactly what image I'm getting with every shot, even when I'm modeling. I resorted to taking a rather bad shot of the camera with my phone camera just to illustrate how the screen works. You can see the image on the screen that I've rotated to the front and titled up. The image on it is upside down, but only because the screen is tilted upwards. If I set the screen completely vertical, the camera would rotate the image. Automatically. It also automatically shifts to macro, tracks faces, and changes other settings as needed when it is in auto mode. It's a little wizard.

There's another big difference between the G12 and my old A710. The G12 can take photos in RAW format as well as the standard jpeg. I didn't know about this feature when I bought the camera, but I have used the settings and the accompanying software to take some comparative shots. In the collage above, the ones on the left are jpegs, edited with Picasa. The ones on the right were RAW, edited with DPP (software that came with the camera) and converted to jpeg. So far, I've found that I can adjust the RAW images to produce a more true-to-life image--at least as far as the color. The images on the right show the actual color of the socks.

(Here's where you'll probably want to click on the collage to enlarge it in another window, then click on it again to zoom in. For more on the camera, and more socks, come back here after that.)
Having finished these socks, then whipped out another pair rather quickly on a little trip (a sock in three days--whoopee!), I thought I'd start a Spring pair. I had gotten some lovely green yarn at the same time as the brown. It was perfect for the leafy socks, In the Peaceful Forest, from Think Outside the Sox.

Or so I thought...except that the yarn was mottled and a bit bumpy, making the pattern look a lot less smooth than the sock in the book and obscuring the cute little leaves. I could have lived with it, but not with what was revealed after I knit a couple of inches. See anything wrong in the photo above? If not, look at the edited RAW image below.

Even though the jpeg is lighter, the edited RAW file above really shows what I saw after I set the sock aside. The color is accurate--there really is a difference. The knitted part is dark, but the yarn is light. Mmph?

It's no big problem, just that the inside of the ball has a bit of darker yarn at the start. I've had this problem once before with hand-dyed yarn. That time, I ended up with socks that looked different. I didn't like that, so I hope that once I start over from the outside of the ball, the darker part will end up in the toe of the second sock, if I need it at all.

At least the color problem encouraged me to rip it out, eliminating the yarn/pattern mismatch. In another pattern, on another day, this yarn will make nice socks. One problem remained. I still wanted a new sock project.

I thought I'd try to encourage some pattern sales by knitting a knee sock version of my Burning Stripes pattern, this time in two colorways of Noro Kureyon Sock.

The first photo is the edited RAW one. Yes, the colors really are that muddy, without the sharp difference I would have liked between each stripe. The second photo, the jpeg, exaggerates the colors. I could have probably reduced the saturation a bit. The lack of color contrast and the fact that this is way too big for my leg, even at my calf, meant that I ripped out this one too. At least now I know that I should cast on no more that 84 stitches for knee socks, and maybe skip the ribbing when using inelastic Noro.

Disatisfied with these sock attempts, I tried a magical third time, with satisfying results. I'll blog that later, though. For now, I'm back on The Camera.

Before I found the G12, I was set on upgrading to a digital SLR. Then I read another blogger complain that she didn't take many photos on a trip because she had brought her DSLR. Since she found it too big, too complicated and too time-consuming to set up for travel snapshots, she just didn't use it. Until I read that, I thought I wanted a DSLR. I considered her comment and decided that I didn't want to spend twice as much (or more) for a camera I wouldn't use much.

Even then, I didn't know about the Canon G series cameras. They popped up once I started reading camera reviews. It only took a day or two for me to realize that they are the perfect knit-blogger cameras. The three features I've outlined are the reason: the simple controls, the movable screen and the editable RAW images.

So far, I don't think that the photos are noticeably better than the other digital point-and-shoot cameras I've used. I'm not getting those "reach out and touch" macro shots that DSLRs seem to give. But for blogger photos, hey, these are good enough.

They might even get better once I work with it more. That photo above is a simple unedited jpeg, straight from the camera. Not bad, considering I wasn't even trying give the yarn its close-up.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Valentine's knit, mittens

...or, A Tale of Two Mittens, knit two years apart.

In the winter of 2009, I fell in love. Like so many times before, the object of my affection, first glimpsed in the early Fall, was overwhelmingly attractive, offering to bring comfort and warmth to my life. I reacted in the same way I had when I fell before. I gazed at my love over and over, contemplating every pleasing detail. For months, I coveted what I saw, lost in endless admiration and longing.

Then, as Valentine's Day approached, I made my move. As often happens, once I tried to fit my love into my life, problems arose. The new arrival was incompatible with established occupants. There was struggling, fighting. I didn't have the tools or skills to meet the demands. Again, as before, I didn't give up on love. I still lusted, but I lusted after a new vision--I insisted that my love change.

Thank goodness it's only knitting, something that I can bend to my will.

After ripping and reknitting repeatedly, I decided to develop a new chart more suited to the gauge of the yarn I substituted. As I knit the first mitten, following the pattern from the Fall '08 issue of Vogue Knitting, I thought how much the original ten-stitch motif reminded me of eyes. Inspired by the upcoming Valentine's Day, I designed an eight-stitch heart chart. An eye, or I, then a heart, or love--the final words were obvious. Thus I developed my "I love to knit" mitten.

For two years, I joked about what I would put on the second mitten. A word to describe what else I love, one with four letters. Oh, we had fun with that one at knitting group. I didn't really think it would take so long, but sometimes it does to get it right. Now that I have finally figured it out, it amazes me that I didn't see it immediately. I love to knit. I love wool. I love to knit wool.

It's no wonder. Look where I live.

Good thing these are lined with alpaca.

The bit of gold in the turned hem is silk, the same as in the shawl I knit for a recent wedding. I was so obsessed with using every bit of the 14 balls of silk I had for the shawl, and so proud that I did. Then I picked up the basket where the single mitten has been sitting with the leftover yarn for the past two years. That's when I realized that I didn't have any silk left for the hem of the second mitten. I tried to substitute something else from my stash, but nothing made me happy. With trepidation, I went to the yarn shop where had originally bought the silk. I couldn't believe that they had some left, 2 years later. (I know you're tired of me saying that, two years later...)

Never mind, I finished the second mitten, in time for our recent visit to the local ski resort.

Bye Monarch!

We'll be back soon.

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

VKLive Booty and a wip

Of course, I bought a few things at the Vogue Knitting Live market. The selection of vendors was totally different from those at fiber/wool festivals. Wool festival vendors are primarily farmers or spinners, presenting the chance to buy direct from the source, but usually selling only a few types of yarn at each booth. Vendors at VKLive were primarily yarn shops. Now, I love going to yarn shops and try to visit as many as I can when I travel. Certainly I was happy to be able to hop from one shop to the other merely by going to the next booth in line. However, it was a little easier to restrain my purchasing, especially since a lot of the yarn and other items there are readily available either at local shops or online.

So, I picked and chose my purchases. I was really impressed with this felted dpn case.

Detailed workmanship in a simple design--and green, too--love it! The little cupcake is both a tape measure and a pincushion. Although I didn't bother with a receipt, a little online searching tells me these are by Two Stix. (I hope that's right.) I probably bought them from the Dream Weaver booth.

The case will hold my shorter (6") dpns, like the size 0 Blackthorn needles I bought (on the left) at the Blackthorn booth. It was nice to be able to try the needles before buying them. They seem a bit stiff--I'm used to the flexibility of wooden dpns. On the other hand, they won't develop a bend like my bamboo dpns. I'll try them on a pair of socks before I decide if I want to buy more.

The button pinned to the case at the top right was a gift from my traveling companion. She was quite amused by one that said "Yarn H*". Once I convinced her I wouldn't wear it, she settled for buying this one. She also brought the scarves below to my attention. They convinced me to break my usual rule against buying kits.

Eight balls of yarn, the bag and the pattern were included. I'm expecting there will be yarn left over, but I'm not sure. Either way, the pattern can be used again.

There was a booth full of cashmere that was very tempting. I settled for just taking one of their handouts for a club. It's a Cashmere Square of the Month Club from Hunt Valley Cashmere. You get the yarn and pattern to knit the Great American Aran Afghan, in your choice of weight, one square each month for a year.

That would certainly be a dream project. Until I clear the decks and my yarnstash, though, I'm content with socks and shawls.

I fiddled around in a bit of confusion to work out the edging on my latest shawl, a triangular version of Domovoi. I was a little worried that I wouldn't like a plain gray garter stitch edging. I should have known that Cheryl Oberle and Folk Shawls wouldn't let me down. I really like it. After a little time on the blocking board, it will have plenty of opportunity for modeled shots.

I wear my shawls constantly now, having become addicted to the extra warmth around my shoulders this winter. My favorite is the abbreviated version of the Feather and Fan Triangle shawl I knit a couple of winters ago. The shaping is ingenious--it hugs my shoulders and never falls off. I really want another one in black, similar to the famous Terhi shawl Kay Gardiner knit. I have just the yarn for it stashed away--if only I can stand to knit that much garter stitch in black.

Feel free to admire the photos in this post, products of my new camera. I'm still learning how to use it and the RAW editing software. In celebration, I figured out how to post larger pics in blogger. The one of the scarves is larger than usual. Let me know if you want more big pics.