Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Tutorial? Moi?

Indeed, although I can't claim any credit for the idea. This issue has been buzzing around the Socknitters list lately, and I thought a few pictures would help.
This all started because I was brutal on my dpns while sock knitting. I am not a fan of metal, but I feared I would have to switch because I kept breaking and/or losing sock needles. Bad things can happen when you do that, the least of which is that you have to stop knitting for a while.
When I was at the Yarn Harlot, I saw a girl in line that had these nifty little holders that wrapped around and kept her needles in place. What a brilliant idea! I was at the LYS in my parents' town, and I saw them for sale, a mere $10, and I thought about purchasing it.
I thought about it so far that I took them to the checkout counter, where the owner talked me out of it. For socks, she said, all you really need is a rubber band, and she showed me this.
Gather all your needles together.
Wrap the rubber band around one end of the needles.
Stretch it out to the other end of the needles.
Pick that side up and twist, securing it around the needles again.
Et voila!
This handy little system holds all your needles neatly in place, for the cost of a big rubber band. And the owner was even nice enough to give me the rubber band!
I haven't broken or lost a needle since.
If you're curious, these are Jaywalkers in Cherry Tree Hill. Nearly done.

Socks - Big Honking Men's Socks

I need to find friends with smaller feet.

Actually, these are for the boy's oldest brother (recently turned 30). They were supposed to be for his birthday party (which I was invited to) but I since I didn't go (I was sick), I figured they didn't have to be done just yet. So that was about 3 weeks ago. I've seen Brother #1 (he has 4) twice since then, but I ran into one disaster after another with these socks.

To begin with, I'm not really sure what I was thinking. Men have big feet. Very big feet, particularly compared to me, the only person I've ever knit socks for. Still, I had to knit socks for him. At one point, he expressed an opinion on the construction of socks - he particularly liked reinforced heels and toes.

Take a minute to absorb that. A male, non-knitter expressed a reasonably sophisticated 0pinion on the construction of socks. This, for a knitter, is a call to arms. Or needles.

Things started well at first. I picked up some plain black Cherry Tree Hill and a new pair of size 1's (I'm brutal on those things) while I was in DC and set about knitting. When I got home, I picked up some dark grey sock reinforcement from the secondary LYS for heels and toes. I did an afterthought heel, which was totally new to me, and kind of fun. I got to the end of the first sock with little problem, except for the heel and kitchenering the toe (something I had not yet successfully done).

The second sock, though. It's not that I have second sock syndrome, I really don't. One sock doesn't do you much good (especially since wearing one sock is a particular pet peeve of mine), so it's hard to think of them as anything but a pair. But this sock was cursed.

I had missed the deadline a little, but I thought I could finish them up quickly before I saw the brother again. Not so.You may remember seeing these socks when I went to go see the Yarn Harlot. Look closely at that picture. See how many needles are in that sock? Two, with a third haphazardly pushed in. (She kindly didn't mention that.) I was knitting with a set of 5 dpns. I managed, by throwing them in bag when I went to go see the Yarn Harlot, Queen of Socks, to entirely pull out two sock needles and drop a handful of stitches. I was so frustrated after that, and didn't want to recover from that mess, that the socks sat untouched for about a week.

When I was done being angry with them, I started anew. It wasn't as bad as I thought. I had only dropped a few stitches, and only a few rows down. The rest hopped back on the needles without incident. Okay, I thought. I could get these done in a day.

Not so fast. I brought them with on one of my long boring shifts (they may suck, but at least I can knit at work) and was ready to go. I finished toe #2 (sans kitchenering) and hopped back onto the heel. It turns out you can work an afterthought heel just like a toe. Isn't that spiffy? I'm going to try the more complicated heels at some point, but I really the way that works. Nice symmetry. I got a little help from the Favorite Socks book, which I got with a coupon at the LBS.

Unfortunately, I ran out of sock reinforcement. I don't know if I got a short skein, or what, because the ladies working at the secondary LYS assured me that one card would be more than enough for a pair of men's socks. The hours I was working did not permit me to get back into the shop for a couple of days, which was past the time I would be seeing the brother again. Sigh.

I complained the people at the secondary LYS, and they were very nice and apologetic. They offered me another card free of charge, which I thankfully took.

Back to the heel then. Except, then I started measuring it. I had planned on a fairly deep heel, but as I kept knitting, it became obvious that I had done something slightly wrong in the math. Never mind the fact that I'm a physicist, that I minored in math, that at this point I think calculus is so easy as to be boring. I can't do simle addition and subtraction. I was figuring out the length based on his shoe size and this chart, but I hadn't left enough leeway for a very deep heel. I really don't know what I was thinking. I had to pause again, and wait till the boy could try it on and let me know. I stopped the heel just at the point where it fit his foot. I wish I had made the instep part shorter, but I certainly wasn't going to rip back, so a shallower heel it was. The boy assured me it was a very comfy sock though.

After that, it was only a matter of kitchenering heels and toes. I hadn't actually done that before, mostly because I'm too lazy to get out a needle. All the socks for myself had a three-needle bind off, which I don't mind at all. But since these are a gift, and since a three-needle bind off wouldn't feel very good at the heel (you really can't feel it at the toe), I broke down and did my kitchener. It wasn't so bad, really, especially when you do all the grafting parts at once. I suspect that for myself, I will still be lazy and do the three-needle bindoff, just because I don't want to go find a sewing needle.

I have to say, I'm extremely happy with how they came out, after all that. They look really good with the reinforcement. I may do that again.

I know these are all pictures of the socks all unfilled and unformed, but I assure you, they look really silly on me.

Here's the boy modelling them, but he's not a very good foot model.

In other sock news, the boy wants a pair now. I suppose it's not fair to have them for his brother and not him. I'm planning on doing the Space Invader socks from knitty, but we'll see how long that takes. Maybe by his birthday (a mere 6 months away).

In Summary:
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn in black (100% superwash merino) , 1 skein, with sock reinforcement in dark grey, 1.5 cards
Pattern: K2P2 ribbing at top, basic toe, afterthought heel, reinforcement at heel and toe
Needles: Size 1 dpns (set of 5), which actually survived this time
Cost: $22.50
Time: Could have been about a week, wound up being about three and a half

Friday, April 27, 2007

It's Friday

And you know what that means.
Today's featured fugly is apparently brought to you by the American Thread Company, free pattern here. It's the Kitten Slipper Bag.

Can anyone tell me what a slipper bag is? Anyone?
I've never heard of it before. Are you supposed to put slippers in it? Really? Of all clothing that belongs on the floor (though much of mine is there anyway), slippers would rank the highest. They should be right there by the side of the bed, or other cold area, so you can slip them on your feet. That's why they're called slippers.
But if you really, really wanted to hang them on your doorknob, I suppose you could knit a bag for them. But why, for the love of all that is holy, would you knit something that looks like a demon-possessed rabbit on top of it? It does not look like a kitten. It looks like one of those slightly-cute-but-clearly-evil characters from anime that wants to eat your soul, possibly with a cherry on top.
And why are there pompoms? Aren't we confused enough already?
Seriously people. If you're going to attempt cute, get it right. Either make cute for cute's sake, or make it actually practical. Don't confuse people with a bag that will never be used. And don't put something on it that would terrify children in the middle of the night. That thing is up there with clowns.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Grin and Bear It

I was born and raised in Northwest Indiana, that is, the part of Indiana that thinks it's a Chicago suburb. (It may be right.) We get Chicago TV, Chicago radio, we know more about what's going on in the city of Chicago than we do about the state of Indiana, and above all, we cheer for Chicago sports teams. In some respects, this is only logical. Indiana doesn't have an MLB team. The Bulls basketball dynasty was during my adolescence. People in Indiana basically don't know what hockey and soccer are (not a great loss).
And then there's football. Living where I grew up, you have two choices. You could cheer for the Chicago Bears, one of the oldest teams in the NFL with rich history and tradition, or you could root for the Colts, who snuck out of Balitmore on the back of a truck in the middle of the night. It's really up to you. I for one, have proudly chosen the Bears.
But, since the Colts are not only in a different division, but in an entirely different conference as well, there's no harm in cheering for them a little too. The AFC might get a little boring if you didn't cheer for someone. So the odds of them ever meeting were pretty much limited to the Super Bowl. My whole life, I have dreamed of a Bears-Colts Super Bowl. This year, I called it. I may call it every year, but this year I was right. Still, the fantasy was clear. As much as I wanted a Bears-Colts matchup, it had to be the Bears who were victorious.
This year, I got half my dream. And it really looked like I was going to get all of it.You've seen the Bears nonsense I've knit. I thought I'd start a nice simple drop stitch scarf in Bears colors during the game, and then I'd have a Super Bowl Scarf for all posterity.

Alas, it was not to be. At some point, between the vast, all-encompassing depression and the copious amounts of rum and Diet Coke, I abandoned the scarf when it was clear victory was no longer in the cards. It sat unworked for quite some time. It sat until the beginning of baseball season. I realized that getting to the Super Bowl was pretty darn impressive, and I should not be ashamed of an NFC championship. It's a hell of a lot closer than the Cubs have gotten in the last 98 years. So I finished the scarf, and I'll be able to wear it all next year.
To quote everyone in the city of Chicago, ever, "There's always next year."
In summary: Yarn: Karabella Aurora 8 (100% wool) in navy (1.5 skeins) and unidentified ribbon yarn in orange (1 skein, or tube, as the case may be)
Pattern: Simple drop stitch Needle: Size 7 (4.5mm)
Time: One disappointing Superbowl, one moment of perspective
Cost: About $15? I don't really remember

Friday, April 20, 2007

One Thing I'm Not Going To Die From


WOW - with emphasis on the OW

Just. This.
Making it a super-duper-double Fugly Friday post.
Thanks, Kate. I think.

Fugly Friday

Today's Fugly Friday is brought to you by ....... me.

Seriously. What was I thinking?
Aparently, "Hey, hot pink acrylic with nubblies? That would be awesome."

Yep. Awesome.
Sadly, this was my first sweater, and I can't even be proud of it. I knit it during a class in undergrad right after I had learned to knit a bit. I won't even tell you whose design I adulterated this way.
I blogged about it once here, but if anything is deserving of Fugly Friday, it's this.
Part of me thinks it could still be saved. That border just makes it worse, but it could be easily changed. It could possibly get a little bit better. But then again, it would still be hot pink acrylic with nubblies.
What do you think?

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Happily Ever After

I'm going to a wedding tomorrow. Normally, I'm cranky and cynical about these kinds of things (okay, a lot of things). I play callous games in my head, wondering how many weeks the bride is pregnant, or putting odds on long the marriage will last (it's generally inversely proportional to the cost of the wedding). This time, though, I don't have to wonder.
The boy's grandparents are renewing their vows after 60 years. Think about that for a moment - 60 years. Why they're renewing their vows at this point, I don't know. If they've kept them up this long, it hardly seems like they need a reminder now. But it's certainly a good reason for a big party, and the boy's family is particularly good at that.
The self reflection begins. Will I ever celebrate a milestone like that? Will I find true love and get married and live happily ever after? Can that really happen these days? It seems they just don't make things like they used to. My grandparents were at 49.5 years when my grandmother died. My own parents didn't last 10. The trend only seems to be going downhill.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not on a kick about the sanctity of marriage. I don't believe that - there are very good reasons for divorce. But given the current statistics, how can anyone really believe in true love, the kind in the fairy tales that lasts forever and ever, beyond space, beyond time? Self destructive as we are in our relationships, that's the kind of love we really want to believe in.
We're told those fairy tales, how the knight rescues the princess, and they live happily ever after. We hear about the dragons and the rescue, but no one ever fills us on the happily ever after part. Not even the grandparents who told us the stories.
But somehow they knew. My grandfather wore his wedding ring for years after my grandmother's death, until he died. Now I wear it, in honor of both of them. After 60 years, 5 children, 33 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild, the boy's grandparents still manage to flirt with each other at parties. I don't know what else I need to see to know that true love is real. It may not be common, but it is absolutely real.
So princesses, even the ones who aren't locked in towers, go on dreaming. If 60 years isn't ever after, I don't know what is. Cynical as I may be, as we all are, true love exists, and not just in fairy tales. It's rare, it's precious, but it's out there. And that, even more than the beginning of a marriage, is a reason to celebrate.

And in case you're wondering, I'm totally wearing this.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Giant Afghan

Remember Pamela? Of course you do. No one could forget that shawl.
Well, she requested an afghan for her living room, and since she's a very nice person and a very good masseuse, I couldn't say no. She picked out the yarn and brought it to me, and we consipired on a design. Somewhat based on an afghan I had worked before (but with vast differences), I thought of the idea of a giant granny square. Pamela liked that idea, especially with the thought that it all seemed to emanate from a single, central flower.
She wanted the stitches and colors varied as much as possible, much like the previous shawl.
Well, here are a couple of quick pictures I snapped this morning before I headed off to work.
And it's certainly a giant granny square. Final dimension are about 66" square (167.6 cm, for the international readers) (that's a joke). Nerds think fast - what does that make it measure diagonally across?
She's absolutely going to love it. They're the kind of yarns she adores, and everything in her apartment is in these colors. And that's what I'm here for - to give the customer what she wants. Especially when the customer pays in professional massages.
In summary:
Yarn: Vast amounts of acrylic eyelash/fuzzy yarn
Needle: Size N crochet hook
Pattern: Giant granny square theme, making it up as I went along
Time: About 18 hours of work
Cost: She bought the yarn, and she's paying me in massages. This is a good deal, you have to admit.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Remember when I was going to destash?

That was cute, wasn't it?
Instead, I've been adding to the stash, and haven't gotten rid of a single thing. Who's suprised?
Here's what I did over Easter weekend...

Seriously, who could dye eggs and not resist dying just a little yarn in the process? Not I.
I used Vicki's method of dying yarn with Easter egg dye, and made up these 5 skeins. The three blue ones are Dale of Norway Baby Ull, which is a superwash wool. They are destined to become a shawl for my mom, possibly the pleated pattern I picked up (fun w/ alliteration) in DC. The pink and purple, I have no clue. It's two skeins of Cascade 220 superwash, and I'll probably make something for myself out of it. Or it will sit in the stash for a while. Either way.
Here's something I had ordered, and it just came in this weekend. It's a beaded bag pattern, and you can see I couldn't resist starting it. It's so much fun, and not at all as hard as it looks. I also picked it up on tax-free weekend, so I didn't have to pay the sales tax. That saved a few bucks. I'll take what I can get.
I am very pleased with how it's turning out. I might actually make another one of these when I'm done. It goes very quickly - that's just from a little bit of puttering on Sunday.
Here's some yarn I got from DeStash. I believe it's Trekking XXL, and will probably become socks. Possibly socks from the 25 Favorite Socks book I just got, something textured and waffly. I have enough socks to get out of the way first (OTN - those one's for the boy's brother and a pair of Jaywalkers for myself.) There are a bit more pinks and greens in this yarn than the picture really shows, but I'm too lazy to try to get it right.
And I did swap something for some INOX circular needles in a few sizes I needed. It never hurts to have backup, especially of a brand you like. I didn't take a picture of those, though. Instead, please accept this gratutious picture of my cat.
He's really cute.

Secret Pal

Thanks, Secret Pal!
I got this last week, but I was so busy with my real job, I haven't had a chance to blog about it yet.
Here's the lovely package as I got it (even though the mailman smooshed it up a little)

And here's Worfy helping me examine the two packages that were inside.
And here's what they contained.
The pink package had a pattern and everything I needed to make it. The yarn is two skeins of Aurora Bulky in red. Including the needles was a very nice touch. They fill an empty spot in my ciruclar needle holder.
The purple package contained yummies for Sarahs.
Dark chocolate covered cherries asl kjas;ldfjasdf ;lskjdf a;sdf .asd.f...
Sorry, that's me wiping the drool of my keyboard. They're all gone already of course.
And some yummy berry tea, which is half gone, and helped get me through a monstrous presentation I was working on.
I think I like this secret pal thing. (Don't worry, mine got some damn good goodies too, but obviously I can't post about that.)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Fugly Friday

Happy Fugly Friday my friends.

Today's submission is brought to you by Kate, whom you might know from the Fringe blog. And if don't know her, you should, because she sends you funny things like this in your email.
I know Halloween is supposed to be scary, but not this kind of scary. Not this kind of scary at all.
But should really want to give the neighborhood children nightmares, you could buy the pattern at Knit Picks. It's on clearance. So snap it up, you lucky customers, you.
On another note, I totally read BOOB! instead of Boo! upon first glance. That's another level of scary yet.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


After two narrow misses, the third time was the charm. I finally got to see the Yarn Harlot.

I got there two hours early. Two hours. And I still didn't get to the first row. There were probably already twenty people there. Borders was totally freaked out. I don't know how to estimate numbers of people, but my guess is around 200. I met some nice people (some of whom remembered me from Fringe/the blog!) and everyone chatted about what they were working on.

After a while, I got tired of leaning up and over rows to see what people were working on. I stole the mic, and organized a show and tell. I was pretty proud of that, and glad I did it. People were working on some awesome, awesome things. Myself, I brought only boring things to work on, knowing my attention would be divided.

And it was.

The Yarn Harlot was hysterical. She had been totally freaked out by the tornado siren test that morning. To be honest, I had a little bit too. It had been thunderstorming, after all.
Here's the typical blogging me - blogging you thing that goes on at her events.

She promised us we weren't too blurry, but as you can tell, she's a bit blurry, and also dark.
Her talk was hysterical - she warned us about things - the potential of a worldwide wool blight (sad, but there are other fibers) and of CHOKE (Cultural Humilation of Knitters Everywhere) that represent the common misconceptions about knitters. Sadly, she had not only humorous social examples, but real painful examples where it caused economic harm to knitters.

I hopped up and asked a question afterwards "If you could teach any one person in the world to knit, who would it be and what to you think the effects would be?"
The answer was clearly written on her face, but she politely replied, "I try not to get involved in the politics of other countries."
But my friends, I now pose that question to you.
Afterwards, she did a book signing, and I got my copy of the Cast Off signed. I didn't know you could bring other books to get signed too, or I would have brought them all. Well, there's definitely going to be a next time. I'm never going to miss a chance to see her again.
We had to stand in line for a really, really long time to do the book signing. That was okay though, we were with friends. We talked knitting.
This is the famous Bohus up close. At first, I thought she was a little nuts when she was making it, then I saw it in person. Oh Lord. I must make this thing. I know I can't afford it, but the little old lady that runs it does it all by hand and has no apprentice. I must have this sweater. It is soft in ways you can not believe, and absolutely beautiful.

Here's an up close an personal view of the travelling sock.

Of course, when I actually met her, I became massively self aware and sounded like a complete idiot. She took a picture with me trading socks anyway.

Oh, and look at her shirt. Isn't it awesome? Nerdy knitting at its best. Of course you've seen my shirt before, here. I extolled the virtues of the Ballet T for all. I also saw some other really cool shirts there too, and everyone swears they're from cafepress. It's going to be a long time till my birthday, and all my family is going to wonder if maybe this knitting thing hasn't gone too far when all I ask for is knitting shirts.
All in all, I'm so glad I went. I will never miss another opportunity to see her, and I will continue to delight in the fact that this is one time my compulsion to always arrive early really pays off.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Opening Day

Cubbies, I am not happy with you.