Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Good Sock Finishes, Bad Sock Starts, and Reviewing a Big, Big Bag

Filed under: Knitting,Rats!,Reviews — folkcat at 2:29 pm on Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Fifteen Minutes of Rattie Fame

First things first – LOLRats did, indeed, post the “dat ticklz!” picture of Sable and Lola this morning. You can check it out here. And while you’re at it, look around at the other posts if you haven’t already, you’re sure to get a good giggle. Thanks, LOLRats!

FOs and Frogs

Beyond that, I spent a lot of time knitting yesterday. I mean, a lot of time. But unless you like pictures of empty dpns, I haven’t got a thing to show you.

Why? The first thing I worked on was Socks for Gryphon, Pair 3, Sock 2 (SG:P3S2). Which is now completely finished. And presented to the recipient last night. And he loves them – in fact, is really, really in love with the “faux isle” variety of self-striping sock yarns. Which gives us a good direction for choosing more yarns for him in the future.

But with Gryphon working two jobs, we haven’t had a chance to get a photo of the finished socks on his actual feet yet. We’ll do it when we can, but I’m not sure when that will be.

After finishing SG:P3, I started in on Socks for Folkcat, Pair 3, Sock 1 (SF:P3S1). And I spent several hours knitting away at this last night, but to no avail.

To begin with, I had decided to once again try for a tighter gauge on smaller needles – size 0 instead of my usual 1.5. Naturally, I began with a small stockinette swatch, and measured a gauge of 10 stitches to the inch. Great!

So I cast on with confidence for my short-row toe. And knit for several rows. That’s when I looked down at the work on the needles and said, “Dang! I know I have big feet, but that’s ridiculous!” At which, I pulled out my ruler and found that my gauge, on the same needles, knitting in basically the same way as my swatch, was now 9 stitches to the inch.

Frog 1!

I let the yarn cool for a few moments before deciding to go for a Charlene Schurch Easy Toe instead of the short-row. But I got a few rows into that and decided, no, I really, like the short-row toe better.

Frog 2!

I cast on for a short-row toe immediately, and knit about 5 rows. And realized that, on the previous purl-side short-row, I’d actually shorted the short-row – I’d stopped a stitch sooner than I should have. That threw off the entire balance of the toe, so it was…

Frog 3!

Since it was completely user-error on the last attempt, I cast on again, and managed to knit about ten rows before discovering a knot in the yarn. Foo! I considered leaving ends to weave in, but quickly decided that such an artifact right on top of my toe would be a bad thing. That’s what I get for not re-winding the ball of yarn (Fortissima Socka Mexiko Country Colors, Serengeti (14) colorway) before starting.

Frog 4!

So now, I got out the ball winder, and dutifully wound the entire thing into a cake, checking for additional knots as I went. Finding none, I divided the yarn into two equal (approximately) cakes. Since the knot was still a short way in from the center pull of one, I pulled it out, cut it off, and tied it to the outside of the same cake. In the event I need it to complete the sock, the ends will now be in the leg ribbing, where they’ll be much more tolerable.

It was at that point that Gryphon came home from work – midnight. No time for more knitting last night, so it’s left for me to make a new attempt today.

Product Reviews? Here?

Somewhere along the way, I got on a mailing list of – I think the term is “reputable influencers.” Which means that someone out there has the notion that I write things that people actually read. I don’t know how true that is, but someone believes it.

This means that I’ve started getting the occasional offer of a product to review. Now, I know that product reviews aren’t what you come here for. But some of these items are actually things I have an interest in, like DVDs and knitting books. So I’m inclined to selectively accept the offers, write a little review, and post it to the blog.

My promise to you is that this won’t become a commercial blog. No advertising, though I will in the course of the reviews occasionally mention an associated promotion or special. I don’t expect the reviews to happen very often, either, though I suppose there’s no telling where this could go if the marketing companies like what I say. If it ever seems to be too much, please, tell me.

I may even consider setting up a separate blog just for reviews, and use it for those occasions where I spontaneously wind up gushing about something I bought, or a new game I found, or whatever. The only thing stopping me is I don’t know what I’d call the review blog yet.

By chance this week, I have three items for review. A coincidence of timing, I think – it’s been ages since the last product I got, the DVD of The Loop, and it may be ages again before I get anything else.

Another likely result of doing reviews – where I have no interest in keeping the product or book myself, they’ll become prizes on the blog. Later this week, I’ll be reviewing two new knitting books: Romantic Hand Knits by Annie Modesitt, and The Yarn Girls’ Guide to Knits for All Seasons, and at least one of them may be a candidate for a giveaway.

Today, however, I’m taking a look at a large new backpack from JanSport. And so far, I’m inclined to keep this one!

All About a Big, Big Bag

I was sent a Big Student Pack. Me, with no kids? What do I need with a backpack? I don’t even camp! So let’s start by admitting to my bias in this review. My evaluation will be entirely based on a single question – how does the pack measure up as a knitting bag?

JanSport Big Student Pack

The Big Student Pack is sturdily built. Lots of pockets. Almost every zipper has a wide flap covering it to keep out rain. There’s a large mesh pocket on the side for a water bottle – I like that it’s got elastic in the top edge.

Utility Pocket

Inside one of the front zippers, you’ll find a well-configured utility pocket, with a keychain clip, secure pouch for a cellphone, a spot that could hold a paperback book, and pen pockets. Or, think box of stitch markers, scissors, sets of double point knitting needles…you get the idea!

Now, I have plenty of knitting bags – I even make my own. But I sometimes have a very large project that’s hard to carry. The Big Student Pack is a big, big, bag – 13″ w X 10″ d X 17.25″ h – how would it hold up to my largest project in waiting?

Large Project Test

On the left, you see the yarn and all charts and supplies for a large double-knit afghan – a kit I bought from Herrschners earlier in the year. We’re looking at 10 skeins of Red Heart SuperSaver yarn. That’s not something that will fit in my average knitting bag.

It’s been living in the flimsy plastic bag that it was shipped in, and I’ve wished for something better – especially if it made it easier to carry the project around. With the Big Student Pack in the house now, I opened the large main compartment, and began stuffing.

And it all fit. All ten skeins of SuperSaver yarn, along with the needles on which I’d begun casting on (Addi Turbo circulars).

Ten SuperSaver Skeins Fit!

Then I opened the next compartment over, and put in the clipboard that holds the patternbook – essential for following the charted design. Plenty of room to spare in this pocket!

Clipboard with Chart

Finally, I put my little tackle box full of stitch markers in the utility pocket. I’ll probably add scissors to keep with the project, too, and maybe a couple pens and pencils.

Stitch Markers in the Utility Pocket

I was even able to close all the zippers comfortably around the contents.

Stuffed Pack

I like this! The supplies and materials for this large afghan are now all securely stored in a bag that makes it easy to carry along for knitting in public, and there’s even extra room to add pouches of notions and anything else I might need to bring along. Given how easily the Big Student Pack took all this stuff, I can only imagine how well it would work for the student in your life, too.

JanSport has teamed with Facebook to create a sweepstakes. There’s a prize of a Big Student Pack being given away every day until September 19th, and then there’s a grand prize of a trip for four to the Grand Canyon. All you have to do is create – or log in to – your Facebook account, then join the JanSport: Go Big group.

As for my Big Student Pack, I think Gryphon is hoping to inherit it someday – he likes it a lot, too. But, gosh – it’s already stuffed full of yarn, you know! He might have a chance to stake a claim when the afghan is done, but that could be a while…

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