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January 2006 Archives

January 3, 2006

Out with the Old...

finished socks

and in with the new! Or so the saying goes. This year, in preparation for welcoming the New Year with a new project, I took my Lorna's Laces Knit Happens socks, in progress, home with me for the holidays. I'd finished the first sock but had just gotten started on the second. Luckily, I had just enough time to make good progress on it before I opened any of my new and fabulous knit-related presents, so I finished the knitting of the sock on the 30th. All it needed was kitchenering of the toe, which I saved until the 31st after we arrived back in SF. It was with great pleasure that I finished up the sock on New Year's Eve and then got to wear the pair on New Year's Day.

This yarn was from my wonderful Secret Pal last year, and I just love the color of it and the way it worked up. It was my second experience with Lorna's Sock Yarn. My first was M's bee-striped socks last year. Both times, I've had a really good experience with the yarn. I know some of you don't like it and the way the color works. I didn't seem to have any issues with this colorway. The socks match really nicely. There are a few oddly dark lime spots here and there, especially in the second sock. But, otherwise, they turned out beautifully.

I wore them all day on New Year's Day and, worried about ruining them, I kept my shoes on all day, too, so that I didn't unnecessarily add wear to them running around the house with the kids. I was shocked and disheartened when I took them off at the end of the day to see some signs of fuzzing and wearat the edges of the heels. (Already!!?!?!) The only thing I can figure is that somehow my current favorite Nepalese Birkenstock clogs are hard on the heels. Unfortunately, I only wear Birks...

Despite feeling sad that my hard work was already marred to some extent after one wear, I'm proud to have finished them. 2005 was largely a sockless year for me in terms of knitting. I had gotten really into socks in 2004 and thought I'd ride a tidal wave of sock knitting in 2005, but it just didn't happen. Hopefully, finishing up this pair is just the incentive I needed to kickstart my sock knitting again. Mom and M both proclaim to want knitted socks next year!

Pattern info...

    Pattern: Cable Rib Socks
    Designer: Erica Alexander
    Source: Interweave Knits, Spring 2005
    Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, Knit Happens Colorway
    Needles: Addi Circular 1's and 2's

January 4, 2006

A Rippling Shoalwater

My first gift of Christmas was the Shoalwater Shawl pattern from FiberTrends and four skeins of KnitPicks Gossamer lace weight yarn - all presented in a wonderful clear tote with pink trim. I have a total weakness for bags. Big bags, little bags, zipper bags. I love them all. Not purses, but bags to put "stuff" in. I don't know if it's genetic from my mom or environmental from watching my mom's similar obsession with bags, but I was thrilled to see the clear bag. She's had a set of clear bags for a while (with black trim). That she found me and M bags with pink and lime trim is just awesome. (Later, we got coordinating clear small bags for notions in our stockings.)

Back to the shawl... It's a pattern I've liked for a long time. It's always shown in a wonderful variegated blue (which looks to be a heavier weight - and the pattern is written for four yarn weights). Every time I see that photo, it makes me think of Maine and the ocean (in Maine; yes, I live in SF and go sit by the ocean a few times a week, but the ocean in Maine has a differenent resonance for me). I got started on the shawl right away. I admit I had to cast on a few times to get it picked up properly, but once started, the pattern has been a breeze. It is a bit daunting that in the lace weight I'm going to end up with 400+ stitches in each row. But, that reality is balanced by the fact that three out of every four rows are basically just knit. All of the lace patterning happens in the first of the four rows (with the exception of four yarnovers on the other right side row of the four). Pretty straightforward, and the large repeat in the lace is easily memorizable. Not that I don't have to still look on every fourth row to see what to do with all the stitches before and after the lace panel. I do. But still, in my experience of lace, this is a really straightforward pattern. I love how the yarn is looking. The colors are playing out nicely, and even though you can't see it all stretched out in the photo here, you still get a sense of the rippling starting to happen. Love, love, love it! The colors are so beautiful and rich. I can't wait to see how this turns out. It's actually my first project with lace weight yarn, too, so I'm looking forward to seeing how it feels and how weighty it is (or isn't). (I did try and start something last year in lace weight Shimmer, but once I ripped it out, I never cast on anything else.)

Thanks, Mom!

(I have more to thank her for, too, but I'll report on that later.)

January 5, 2006

Beautiful Bags


The photo above shows the great bag Mom gave me for Christmas - the Shoalwater pattern and yarn was in it. I love bags. Not purses, but bags to hold 'stuff.' Whether it's genetic from Mom or environmental from growing up with Mom's similar bag addiction, I can't help it. Big bags, little bags, in-between bags. They're all good, and you can
never have too many knitting bags is a household philosophy. (We have staggering Vera Bradley collections to support our motto.) So, I was thrilled to open the box and see the bag. Well, my bag was actually clear with lime. M's knitting gift came with the clear and pink bag. We quickly struck a deal to swap. The lime is great, but I'm really in
love with the pink.

I've admired Mom's clear bag on many occassions, but with the black trim, I wasn't ever compelled to actually buy one. That she found colored ones is awesome. There is something addictive about the clear, something perfect about it for knitting.

As you can see from the photo, she also gave us matching accessories bags. Too cool! If you look carefully in the small bag you'll see one of my favorite new knitting tools. I bought a set of the Circular Needle ID tags for Mom's stocking and picked up a set in each size for myself. They are great! If you use circulars a lot, you probably have
a mess of needles somewhere - in a box, a bag, or a folder. Many of my metal ones are not marked, and many of my bamboo ones are worn and faded where the markings once were. The little ID tags click onto the cable making it super easy to find what you need.


Okay... one more bag came home with me. This is a small silk Lantern Moon bag with straps perfect for carrying on your wrist. Every time I flipped through a KnitPicks catalog, I was drawn to these bags, but I wasn't 100% sure. I ordered Mom one for her stocking in teal. When it came, I wasn't sure I iked the color. But she immediately put it to use, and it was clear what a great portable project bag it is. Plus, once light hit it, the color of the bag came alive. I was kicking myself for not having ordered one. Then we went to the annual after-holiday year-end sale at a local kniiting store. We try to make that sale each year just for tradition's sake. Even when we don't need anything. This year, having gotten great knit projects to keep me busy in 2006, I really didn't need anything. Still, I came way with an armload of Koigu, because I can't resist the colors. If they had had Lorna's Laces sock yarn, I might have concentrated my energies there, but instead more Koigu. Given the beauty of my Charlotte's Web, it's easy to justify in my head. (Mom acually wore hers to Christmas Eve service. It looked so beautiful on her, and it was great seeing it worn.)

So, when I walked in the store, they had two of the bags - one red and one purple. They also had a bigger one in pink. Loved the color, but right now, it's this smaller size that's caught my attention. The purple one came home with me. The red one went with Mom. We're addicted,I tell you.

January 7, 2006

Gives Me the Willies

upside down fish

Okay, so I'm a wuss. I admit that. I'm scared of dogs. I don't like bugs. I'm not a great oudoors person. And mice really really freak me out. This is not a good thing since for the last two years we've been dealing with an ongoing mouse issue in our basement. (We've become very friendly with our Orkin person who nicely comes and removes the ones we catch and places new glue traps.) We, admittedly, do have a good-sized food arsenal in the basement, though it's mostly canned goods, a product of shopping at Costco since becoming parents. Anything dry or boxed, we have been trying to keep in ziploc bags. Following that philosophy, we put the remainder of a big box of individual packs of Cheez-its into large ziploc bags before leaving for the holidays in December.

When we came back two weeks later, the intrepid M ventured downstairs (no WAY was I going down) to find that a family of five or six (!) had all ended up on one trap up front near the food. Okay, that's almost enough to keep me out of the basement for the rest of the calendar year (and yes, it's January!). We got Orkin over, set a bunch of new ones (okay, and we've already caught two more - you have to understand, there's a big overgrown hillside behind us, which is clearly adding to our problem), and we're trying to get our act together.

Yesterday, while Spencer slept in the car after a much-needed Costco run, M and I worked to get all the food stuff off the concrete floor and up onto shelves. We moved bagged fleece (for BrambleBug) to the back of the basement, and turned the fleece shelving into canned good shelving. Yes, we revealed tons of mouse crap (gives me shudders). But, even more alarming was that one of the ziplocked bags of Cheez-its was in the floor. A chewed hole in the bottom of the ziplock told us the mice had found a very stereotypical meal tasty. That they could get through the ziplock AND through the foil Cheez-it bags really freaked me out. But my panic level shot through the roof when M picked up the bag to throw it out and discovered the bags were all EMPTY - like 10 bags of Cheez-its.

I think it even pushed her over her limit. Just SO gross.

My willies continue, however, upstairs where our giant goldfish named "Action" has started swimming upside down - all the time. Now, I do have some inane fear of walking in and seeing floaters. And the smaller goldfish, Dorothy, who is white, gave me a few starts last year when she would float around upside down from time to time. I was worried coming back after two weeks that the fish might not have fared well, but the vacation feeders seem to have worked, and they seem fine - except that Action now floats around upside down for most of the day. The first time I walked into the room and glanced over and saw him, I screamed, startling the whole house. Now, I'm getting sort of used to it, but it really weirds me out. I have to think it's the beginning of his demise, but I don't know what we can do about it. He just hangs upside down. M swears he has inner ear.

January 8, 2006

Hidden Comments

On the phone with Mom today, she asked me about a comment she'd left on my blog. I hadn't seen it, so I went poking. Despite the new spam tracking abilities of the current version of MovableType, I'm still being inundated with spam and yet I found 3 comments from readers that had gotten caught in the "junk" folder, so I'd never seen them. Crazy. It's good to know though that I'd heard from a few of you. I was beginning to feel like I was bloggin' in a major void!

January 9, 2006



I'm finally getting around to posting a few photos (and these are NOT great; the sheen of white showing through my shirt was not there in person!) of the wonderful shrug Mom knitted for me for Christmas. It's my first shrug ever, and I wasn't sure how practical a shrug would be - or how compelling. But it turned out very cool, and I've worn it several times already. I love the purple she used. It's Patons Katrina, which is what the pattern called for (I believe she had a bit of trouble finding it). The pattern is from the "Staff Knits" section of Interweave Knits Summer 2005. (Free downloadable PDF on their site.)

Not only did Mom stock me up with great shawls to make in 2006, and Mary Kruger's Died in the Wool knitting mystery, which I very much enjoyed, but she knitted for me, too. Thanks Mom!

January 10, 2006

Foiled by Mermaid Socks; Onto Jaywalker

mermaid sock

More superstitious than is probably healthy and big on personal ritual and tradition, I always try and start something new on New Year's. Because I started the Shoalwater Shawl mom gave me before Christmas, I didn't want to start something too involved on top of that. Socks seemed like a good compromise, and M gave me two beautiful skeins of Knit Picks Sock Garden in Geranium.

After flipping through a few books, I deided to swatch for the Mermaid Socks from Lucy Neatby's book. I've always thought they were so cool, so it sounded like a good first sock for the new year. I ended up not actually getting started, and having always heard that what you do on New Year's you do all year long, I'm worried a year of swatching lies ahead. As I told Mom though, if I'd started something, it could mean a year of 'starting,' which also sounds iffy. I think maybe next year I need to have something to finish and to start on New Year's! Crazy.

At any rate, I cast on the next day, but after getting started, the cuff was just gigantic. Makes no sense. I swatched 7 st/inch on 1's and cast on with 2's. The directions say to cast on and work w/ a needle 1 to 2 sizes larger than swatch. I did a quick blog search from the couch, courtesy of my very cool new Palm T/X and saw someone else who mentioned similar trouble. If I drop to 1's for the cuff, I guess I'd need 0's later? I don't even own 0's. But I'm not sure dropping to 1's would make enough difference anyway. Looking at the photo, the wavy part of the cuff looks very short. Mine is two to three times taller, so something is clearly amiss.

Giving up on that sock (for now), the Jaywalker (from MagKnits) caught my attention. I first saw mention of it on Christy's site, and then I ran into it somewhere else, followed the link, and found that I'd stumbled onto a huge blogger craze in the new year. Okay, I'm in.

I think I probably should have made a New Year's resolution to knit "smarter," so I didn't spend so much time ripping things out and putting them back on the needles. I've messed up my Jaywalker more than once already. I think I'm on track now. The first time though (and I post this publically in case some other poor soul does the same thing and logs on searching for info on why her or his sock isn't working), I didn't read the double decrease info carefully enough even though I must have read it a dozen times. I slipped my two stitches one at a time and then passed them over one at a time. It does look different when you slip them together and pass them over together.

I'll post photos soon. I just finally got my Palm T/X synched to my main computer and was able to pull this blog entry from 1/3/06 off so wanted to go ahead and post.

January 22, 2006

Knit Reads


I need, need, need to get some photos up here, but a fire in my babysitter's house foiled my plans for a few free hours today. Not much I can say about that. One week her brakes went out. One week a beam fell on her on stage after a play. Just a string of bad luck!

I have been getting in a good bit of knitting in the wee hours. My Shoalwater shawl is coming along. I'm a stone's throw away from finishing the first skein of yarn, in fact, and I'm mid-way through the third repeat of four. Since the rows are, of course, getting longer, that doesn't really mean I'm halfway, probably, but it is coming along.

My Jaywalkers are also coming along. I thought I was making them for M because she loves the yarn I'm using. And that was okay with me. I would have picked a more color-laden colorway for a pair for me. But, after I turned the heel and started on the gusset decreases, it became clear that the sock doesn't have enough stretch to be a good fit for her. It's actually really tough for me to get it pulled over my heel (I must have a prominent heel!), but once on, it's a fine fit for me, maybe even a tad loose. So, they'll have to be for me. I'm glad I determined that when I did because I went ahead and decreased the foot down several more stitches to make the foot tighter. Had I not done that, it might not have fit anyone!

Mom and M both put "socks" on their "make for me" list for this year when I was making a rough outline of things I know I want to work on (potentially) this year. It's hard though. M ends up hard to fit. And I'm not sure either are really going to like handknit socks. M only wants stockinette. She says she doesn't like ribbing on top or bottom of the foot. But it seems to me like ribbing would help the fit. Sigh.

While I was home, I read A Good Yarn by Debbie Macomber (sequel to The Shop On Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber). It was a fun, even if slightly unbelievable. That it centers around knitting excuses a good bit of fluff and lightness and made it really compelling. That they were making socks in this one had me hooked! I loved how "special" the socks they made were - and how much the recipients (men in each case) loved getting them and wearing them. The socks, for more than one of the wearers were considered "lucky," and in each case, the socks had special significance and were sentimental in a way handknit items should be - but in a way I guess I don't think of socks being - which is probably why I haven't made many socks for other people. That all the recipients were men was also funny because I received Nancy Bush's Vintage Socks for Christmas and had to admit to being a little disappointed that so many of the patterns are for men. It's just not a good fit for me - now. Give the boys 10 or so years, and maybe it'll be just right... if I can raise two boys who will be young men who treasure handknit socks! Seems like a big if! Hats, yes. Socks? Not sure!

After I finished that, I turned to my stocking stuffer read, Died in the Wool : A Knitting Mystery by Mary Kruger . Again, it's light. It's not Patricia Cornwell or James Patterson. Instead, it's light like Lillian Jackson Braun. That doesn't mean it's not a good read though. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can't help reading these books and dreaming of owning my own yarn store, and that Kruger's store owner lives in Freeport Maine made things all the more perfect (since M and I have always coveted the idea of moving to ME and opening a shop). I have to admit that I can't quite picture the kinds of designs Ariadne in the book designed and wore. At times, I sort of had the "ooh, I can picture what she's got on, and I probably wouldn't get near it" reaction to what I was reading, but then, I don't have enough sweaters to my name to wear something I "made" everytime I leave the house! The treatment of the Internet and pattern piracy on the Web also is a bit niave, simplistic, and trite, I'd say, but again, it's a compelling read, and I'm looking forward to the next one coming out this Spring.

Mom got Knit One, Kill Two by Maggie Sefton in her stocking and just finished it. She said she felt a lot of things were left hanging, but it's possible the story line is continued to some degree in the sequel: Needled to Death.

I'm sure she'll bring it along when she comes to visit this year. For now, though, I'm completely wrapped up in Sinner : Wayfarer Redemption #4 by Sara Douglass. I got Pilgrim: #5 for Christmas but somehow never had read #4 when I got it last year. I'm totally engrossed now and can't imagine why I didn't read it sooner. I'm also thinking I really should go back and read the initial trilogy again just to re-experience it. So many things are brought up in book #4 that I'd forgotten, and the magic of reading those first three is floating around in my head. Some books are just like that.

By the way... I'm still hoping to catch up on reading some of the classics I missed, but I'm also going to watch a few of them. This 6-DVD collection from my brother for Christmas should help.

January 25, 2006

He's Learning

matthew in rl sweater

As we walked down the basement stairs to the car to head to school, Matthew looked down at his preppy Ralph L striped sweater and asked, "Mama, who made this for me?"

"No one made it, honey. We bought that."

"But it looks like yarn."

"Yes, you're right," I laughed. "It is yarn, but we didn't make that sweater. A company did."

"But it's yarn. It looks like someone made it."

"Well, someone did. But then we bought it at a store."

"Was it a yarn store?"

January 28, 2006

I'm 1/2 a Jaywalker

jaywalker sock

Well, the first Jaywalker is finished. Do others of you have the experience when you near the end of the sock. You try it on and think "maybe 10 more rows, and I'll be at the base of my big toe." Ten rows later you try it on and again think, "Maybe 10 more rows." And then again. Where do those rows go? They don't seem to add any to the length! Eventually, I got far enough and started decreasing. Because I dropped the number of stitches on the bottom of the foot, I had a bit of adjusting to do, but nothing major. It did end up shortening my toe section a bit. That's okay, but I have to admit that when I put the sock on, the toe area feels a little off. It appears to be long enough, but it feels odd. It also looks really square. I did slip the end one stitch on each edge over. I know from when I used to be on the sock knitters list that many sock knitters recommend that. I don't know why patterns are never written to do that. Similarly, I know the sock knitters list always advocated picking up an extra stitch in the gussets to help eliminate a hole. Patterns never say to do that. Am I the only one that always seems to need to pick up 1 to 2 more stitches than the pattern states (1 to 2 stitches more than half the number of heel rows)? It doesn't seem possible that it's just me!

Still, all in all, it's a really pretty sock. I was out signing up for the Jaywalker Knitalong (a bit belatedly, but I'm only halfway done), and I nosed around in the gallery at Grumperina's for a bit. Almost instantly, I spotted another pair of Jaywalkers in the same yarn/colorway. Oddly enough, her colorway worked out much differently than mine - much more striped. I'm sure it's related to how many stitches hers used compared to mine.

Oh, and be sure and take a look at this pair. I LOVE this colorway. I have some Regia Nation in the Italia colorway (red/green/white), but I've never seen this great rainbow version. Very cool. (Hmmmm... I just linked through to Carodan Farm for the Italia link, and I see colorway #5399. I wonder if THAT is the rainbow color? I'm going to have to do some searching around and find out. I think rainbow socks would be very cute, and I love the wide stripe.)

By the way, after reading so much about Socks Rocks at January One, where do you buy it? Is it a yarn only sold at fiber festivals?

http://alison.knitsmiths.us/blog_sockapaloooza.htmlsignups are already over. I read about it at Christy's in time to sign up, but I think it's just not "me" right now. For those of you that missed out, if you're looking for another sock thing, you might consider the Red Hot Sizzling Socks knitalong.


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