Friday, March 30, 2007

New and improved! Now brain-free!

Seems my doldrums started as the beginning of some heinous bug I have caught. I am not feverish, my nose isn't running, I'm not sneezing, but I have the chills and a set of body aches that's about to break me. I got up to go to the bathroom last night, and in the two minutes I was out from under the covers, my teeth started to chatter so hard it woke up the DH and he kindly brought me more blankets. Tylenol is making a tiny dent, but only a tiny one.
And so, since I still owe the company PTO, here I sit, at my desk, infecting everyone else. Lucky coworkers...
Anyway, I took pictures of Posh sock yarn, and Classic Elite Four Seasons with my new Classic Elite books, and even some baby sock yarn skeins, left from last week when I slashed my sock toes and reknit them. (The baby skeins entertain me to no end.) I even swatched the CEFS and washed the swatch! Alas, I have no proof, as I took the photos and then left them safe and snug in my camera. Sigh.
Since I have nothing to show you, I will point you here. The middle one is my fav.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Doldrums

They're here.
Well, technically they're not, because if I remember correctly, that literally means a windless area where a sailboat is stuck. It's been windy as all get out here, and I don't like it. I read recently (linked from a blogger I can't recall at this time) that some cultures think winds mess with your psychic energy and make it difficult to be peaceful and think clearly. I'd buy that right now. I can't even get restful sleep - my dreams are filled with death and guns on one horrible side, and the ability to fit into MY HUSBAND'S skinny jeans on the other side.
Anyway, it's been gross and windy here. My allergies have kicked up, which means I'm stuffy and tired, and it varies between chilly-enough-for-a-sweater and too-hot-for-jeans. (On the jeans front, it doesn't matter after tomorrow - we got a new CEO who feels that we can't work unless we're all wearing tidy clothes, so as of Monday, no jeans except on Fridays, and the rumor is that he's having the dress code rewritten to rule out jeans all together. Cuz I think much more creatively when I'm wearing a skirt.)
So, the gist of all my kvetching is that I have nothing interesting to show you. I have lots of interesting stuff for show and tell (including some fabulous yarn I won from Laurie) but I have been too wiped out at the end of the day to find the camera, load the battery, photograph said lovely items, and download pictures. I am a horrible, no good, very bad blogger. And really, I'm too wiped out to care. Tomorrow. Or Saturday. Sunday, at the absolute latest.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

For Norma

Years ago, there was a castle and a little town on an island in a small lake. It was a peaceful place then, but had been built there amidst enemies, and so only one drawbridge led from the island to the shore. Even though the lake was small and not deep, it was filled with tiny, voracious fish called yellow fingers. So mean were they, that no one would attempt to conquer the castle for fear of these tiny fish.
The surrounding area was fertile and wonderful things grew, and the king was fair and only took enough food in taxes to support the castle itself and some of the townsfolk. One year, there was a particularly good harvest, and the king called for a celebration. Farmers from all around brought wagons full of the best foods, jesters and clowns and musicians and dancers were called in, and all the families of the farmers came to town for the celebration. Shortly before it was to begin, one of the heavily laden wagons was coming across the bridge, and the weight of it was so great that the bridge shattered, and the wagon, team and driver plunged into the water. Within seconds, the fish had devoured everything to the bone.
The town was overcrowded with people, but there were many provisions for the festival, so the king reassured his people that someone would come along to help them rebuild. Sadly, most of the neighboring farmers and their families were trapped on the island and no help was forthcoming. Food started to become scarce and the extra people in the town became a burden on the "facilities". The king called his faithful knights and asked for volunteers to wade across the lake and fetch help. The most valiant volunteered. They dressed in their armor and slowly worked their way into the lake. In no time, the tiny fish figured out how to get through the chinks in the armor, and the knights were eaten alive, just feet from shore.
Things looked desperate. Some of the woodsmen volunteered to try. They tried to build a structure that would support one man as he worked his way across, but the materials weren't strong enough, and he too fell to his death among the voracious yellow fingers.
Finally, the king was at his wits' end. People were starving, people were sick. He called his pages and sent them forth. They all knew it was certain death for the boys, but he had no one else to go. The pages walked slowly into the water. The little yellow fish gathered round, but didn't touch the boys. They walked a little farther. The fish followed them, but kept their distance. The pages were able to walk through the water unscathed, climb the bank on the far side, and run for help. The town was saved.

And the moral of the story is this: Let your pages do the walking through the yellow fingers!

(I'm very sorry about that. Really. It's my dad's favorite joke. I'm also very sorry if you're too young to get the reference. Norma made me do it.)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Quietly, sanely socking

It's over, I have been beaten. Brittany finished before I did, with some springy Mad-tinis that look extra comfy. Congratulations to her, she gets to go on to the next level of sock knitting, with all its associated (self-induced) pressure and madness. We mad sockers take crazy to the next level, oh yeah.
Anyway, here are my Madtinis:


I have since finished that one and knit my way into the leg of the second. Next time I knit anything timed, please oh please remind me not to use Elann Esprit or Cascade Fixation. I swear, the Elann was fighting me. It is not the most pleasant yarn to work with. That being said, though, it makes a wonderful snuggly, dense fabric and I enjoy it. There are lots of PSSOs in the Mad-tini pattern, and while pretty, they are hard to work when your yarn doesn't wanna go where you tell it. A simpler pattern would probably be easily done in this yarn. I have another ball of the variegated (lilac medley) and three balls of matching lilac, so I'll try something with that combination. I do LOVE the way the cuff flashed in that yarn.
Anyway, I'm back to knitting at my leisure, though I really am enjoying the ability to churn out a pair of socks in a week. Don't you love it when you do something that seemed so far beyond your abilities before you tried it?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Madly socking, take two

We got the new pattern last night. There weren't any closeup photos I could find, so I'm kinda knitting blind, but so far I like this pattern. The cuff is pretty cool, and the stitch is making my Elann Esprit Print (colorway Lilac Medley) flash in the neatest way. I kinda wish the whole sock would do that. I might be anal enough to think about knitting backwards for sock #2 so the flashing goes the other way. Yup, I just might. Guess it depends on how badly I want to win this thing, because I'd actually have to learn to knit backwards before I could do that. I'm not super crazy about working with the Esprit - the elastic in it is pretty firm, so it kinda fights being knit, but I like the thick, dense fabric it's making with this stitch. Someone in the group is knitting with a rainbow colored yarn (Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport, maybe?) and it is coming out BEAUTIFULLY. You can see all the progress photos here.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Stuff I Need to Know, and stuff I figured out

Stuff I need to know:

  • How do you ply the godawful crap singles you spin on your spindle? Does it require extra equipment? I can't find anything online, so I'm lost. (I'm sure it's there, I am just not searching for the proper thing.) Can you either tell me what to do with one godawful crap singles whilst I spin another godawful crap singles?

  • Also, what's a good basic book about yarn creation? Something that maybe doesn't focus on the method, but more on the ideas? I need to know about grist, and why I'd make a three ply over a two ply, and how to spin for socks or for a sweater and such stuff as that. Recommendations, pweeze?

  • Stuff I figured out:

  • Cutting my knitting is no big deal. I might feel differently about steeks, but the socks? No problem. I cut one little thread and unravelled it as though it were a giant provisional cast-on, and I reknit. That's it. I actually did it one row higher than necessary, in case my stitches slipped, but they were good little stitches and stayed right there for me.

  • I can kitchener without looking at the directions, if I take the stitches off the needle. It makes perfect sense if I can see them flat and just "duplicate stitch" even though there aren't any stitches there. If I can't flatten them completely (like, say, for a sock toe) I kitchener them backwards and end up with a purl row instead of a knit row. Even though it's unintentional, I think this is funny so I left it.
  • I get a fever blister when I'm dehydrated. I didn't make this connection until La pointed it out, but Sunday morning I woke up with the first hangover-headache I've had in ten years (women in my family don't get hangovers, as a rule - we're just genetically lucky that way) and later that day I got the biggest fever blister I've had in my memory. Another reason to drink my water.
  • Sunday, March 18, 2007

    Cheap Sox Change Surgery

    Boy, somebody is going to typo in google and be really disappointed...
    My Sock Madness socks turned out too big by a long shot. They fit DH's feet, but the ankles were much to saggy for his chicken legs. There was only one thing to do (besides frogging them completely, which I actually considered). I had to cut off the toe, rip out two inches of knitting, and reknit the toe.
    Prepped for surgery:


    First incision:


    Hanging by a thread:




    Stitching up the wound:




    Now for its mate...


    Friday, March 16, 2007

    Well, wouldja lookit that?

    I blew right past my one-year blogging anniversary. Right past. Counting by this here blog, my first post was on 3/7/06. I had briefly toyed with Livejournal prior to this, making my real inaugural post 1/31/06, but I hated Livejournal and wanted rings and buttons in my sidebars. I started a blog for the express purpose of having someplace to post the Knitting Olympics gold medal (that I didn't win). Tee hee - now that I think about it, my KO project was my first pair of socks, and I knitted my heart out and still couldn't do it in two weeks plus a little with a kid who wasn't even mobile yet. Now, here I am, knitting a (too big!) pair in five days while chasing a toddler. I've come a long way, baby.
    Ain't life grand?
    I should do something to commemorate the fact that I have been pushing my opinions on you writing this blog for so long. But what should I do?

    Thursday, March 15, 2007

    Personal best

    Five days.


    Variegated: Online Supersocke 100, 792
    Solid: Lana Grossa Meilentweit Cotton, 8002
    Started 3/10/07, sometime after dark
    Finished 3/15/07, sometime after dark

    Too big. Must shrink. Will cotton/wool blend yarn felt?

    And now for some gratuitous cuteness.

    Damn I'm cute.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2007

    One down...

    One to go!

    One Mad Cow sock

    I'm not loving the pink with the variegated. I think the variegated would make lovely socks all by themselves, but I thought it had more pink in it. The pink also makes the yellow look a bit sickly, which I think wouldn't happen if they weren't right next to each other. Still, a fun pattern, and so far, a comfy sock.

    Tracy made a good point in the comments from the last post - really, socks don't take all that long. (Well, in comparison to the time it takes to buy a pair...) Anyway, I had it in my head that I'm a slow knitter and that socks took forever, but with the exception of the lattice sock, which was designed on the needles, I haven't knit a pair of socks for several months. Sock Madness has taught me that I CAN knit someone else's pattern and do it rather quickly. It's amazing to see what I can do when I'm focused. I haven't officially been ousted from the competition, either - I will do my best to the end of this pattern, and either compete in the next round, or knit the next pattern at a more leisurely pace, still with the goal of completing the pair in two weeks. It was my Knitting Olympics goal last year, with my first pair of socks. It's fun to see how far I've come, that knitting a pair in a week, while intense, isn't out of the realm of possibility.

    Jessie pointed out that she wasn't going to make her 100 miles goal by April 1. Well, clearly I am not going to make either the original 100 miles, or the more insane 200 miles, by April 1. It's fun to track my progress, though, so I'll probably keep it up. Lately DH drives me to a spot near the office, on his way to the Bug's daycare, and I walk home. Less exercise, but more family time. I enjoy it and will miss it when I start riding my bike home to avoid the heat. (I subscribe to the theory that a few minutes of strenuous activity in the heat is better than 15 or 20 minutes of light activity - yeah, I'm hotter by working harder, but I get to the pool or the AC that much quicker...)

    And now, some pictures from the lake. As always, click to embiggen, should you be inclined.

    Not so sure about that life jacket

    Daddy's boy wants to steer...

    whew Daddy lets him.

    So thrilled.

    And now, gratuitous nudity.

    Chunky Monkey

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    Madly socking

    K, y'all, there are some damn fast knitters out there in the world. Sock Madness Pattern #1 was released on Saturday morning, and there were people who finished A WHOLE PAIR OF SOCKS IN ONE DAY. I try not to cuss on my blog, but HOLY SHIT, people. That truly IS mad.
    I did get in to town to get my pattern and was able to print it and the figure 8 cast on instructions no problem. I wasn't actually able to cast on until late that night, and only managed to finish the toe on Saturday. (A whole pair of socks, people!!!) It was a hot day and the Bug was a little monster - no fences and a whole big campground to run around in will really wind a little guy up. Anyway, DH was nice enough to give me a couple of hours of knitting time on Sunday, and between that and the (ridiculously rough) ride home, I got to the heel.
    Yesterday, of course, I had to work, so I didn't get to knit again until about 8pm last night. I got the heel turned, figured out why I ALWAYS have holes at the sides of my short row heels, and got half the leg done. I had thought I'd stay up until I finished the sock, but really, what's the use in killing myself and being miserable all day? A few more repeats and the ribbing and I'll be done with this sock and casting on for the second. I have SnB tonight, so after dinner I'll have a few hours of knitting time, interrupted only by giggling and coffee-drinking. Maybe tomorrow I will have a finished sock to show you. I will try to sort through the lake photos and post some of those, too - knitting by the lake really does rock.
    ETA: I ordered the rest of my yarn for the sock contest from the Loopy Ewe. I placed my order at approximately 11am Friday, I received shipping notification at 1pm Friday, and my yarn (and blue chibi, hee!) were waiting for me at my home on Monday afternoon, with a hand-written note about the yarns I'd ordered. Wendy wasn't kidding - those people are GOOD. I'll be using them again.
    Also, I haven't updated my mileage, but I HAVE been walking. Miles since last update: 5.

    Thursday, March 08, 2007


    Who knew there were so many cool bags out there? I really really need to shop more places than Target. So far I have it narrowed down to either a Kecci, a Timbuk2, an Amy Butler, one from Ellington, or a lexie barnes.
    Actually, I found features in all of those that I like, and some that I have concerns about. I love the hidden backpack straps in the Kecci, I love the versatility of the Timbuk2, I love that I can make my own Amy Butler, I love the look of the Ellington, and I love the double zippered pockets in the lexie barnes. Oh, to be so wealthy that I could design one and have it custom-made...
    (Actually, there are probably a zillion perfect bags out there, but WHY won't people show me the insides? I need pockets, people!)
    So, it turns out that I also suck at charts. So far I have ripped probably as many rows as I have successfully knit. Oy. Faina is proceeding, and I have finally gotten to the straight part with the proper number of stitches, but I have come to the conclusion that I MUST have no distractions when I knit, and I must count at the end of every row. And it would be nice if I had one of those bouncing balls, like in those old singalong shows, to mark my place as I knit each stitch.
    I have no knitting with me, because of this, and I feel naked. I have no sock on the go right now because I am preparing for Sock Madness. The first pattern will be released this weekend, and I want to start it right away. I have my yarn and needles all set and packed to go camping at the lake with me. I will have to drive 30 miles to the nearest town to get the pattern, and I'll be hours behind everyone else because I have to wait until the library opens and hope like heck they have the right program I need to open the file, and then drive back. I don't expect I'll get a whole lot of knitting done during the days anyway, since I will be busy chasing The Bug away from the mud at the edge of the lake. (I'm pretty sure this kid was reincarnated from a previous life as a mud skipper.) However, I will also be bringing my headlamp, so as to knit in the evenings, after Bug has gone to bed to dream his muddy little dreams. I only hope that there are no charts involved.

    Wednesday, March 07, 2007

    In need

    Okay, before I start this, lemme just say that I know I'm not truly in need. I'm more, um, in want.
    So here's what I need want. I wanna know the best bag out there for knitting and general schlepping around. I currently have a (large, misshapen) purse from Target. It's been made to carry a small knitting project, two small thermoses of latte, a checkbook/wallet, a small case of crochet hooks, an iPod, a cell phone, a bottle of salad dressing, occasionally bits of my lunch in tupperware or baggies, the occasional diaper, sippy, binky and travel pack of wipes, and various and sundry pens, lipsticks and chibis. This bag is not big enough, and its straps do not stay on my shoulder. It has those short straps that place the bag right under your arm. These are not bad per se, but the bag is so fat with crap that they don't work as designed.
    I know about Jordana Paige bags. I actually like the features, but none of the styles appeal to me. (If she made a leather messenger bag in all the colors of the satchel, I'd be all over them.) I have seen large totes at Land's End (not enough pockets), backpacks everywhere(not a student anymore), cute little thrifted bags(not thrifty), etc. I need the best ideas. I want something that's less than $100 but that doesn't make me feel like a bag lady. You commuters out there, what can you tell me? I generally walk to and/or from work, about a mile, so I don't want something unwieldy. (What I want is for Jordana to make a backpack in all those satchel colors, with a matching wallet and a front pocket for either my knitting or my coffee/lunch.) I'll even consider making the bloody thing if someone points me to a pattern. Oh yeah, and it has to have a closure. I love the French Market bag, but OMG everything would fall out as soon as I set it down, and I'm not interested in following my toddler around, collecting the contents of my bag.

    Sunday, March 04, 2007

    A FO, for now

    Sock Madness starts on Saturday, so I figured I'd better finish up the sock I'd been knitting for ages and ages. It's not a pair, but it's done.

    Bad bad photo of Lattice Sock #1

    The pictures will never do justice to the colors, but at least you can see much of the variation. It's Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Moose Creek. This is how much yarn I had left:

    That's mebbe a yard.

    I split the hank in half by weight when I started these, so I should be able to squeak by with the other ball. If not, I can fudge the ribbing a tad. It worked out to be an even number of pattern repeats (assuming I did them all correctly) so I only have leeway in the number of rows of ribbing.

    Saturday, March 03, 2007

    Feetsies and fiber

    We took the Bug to the zoo for the first time ever today. He was deeply impressed:


    Look at all that fiber!

    Click the picture for a closeup of the feeties

    This is how I felt about the day in general:

    Love this kid!

    Friday, March 02, 2007

    Mild disappointment

    I wore my lovely fetchings all day yesterday, and they kept my hands nice and toasty. They did NOT, however, keep their shape. I used Shine Worsted, which is a cotton/modal blend. I should have anticipated this based on what I've read, but I have not been knitting long enough, or enough types of items, that I have had experience with the way various fibers wear. Anyway, they did lose their shape, but Pixie suggested a few days ago that, instead of ripping the original version, I could tighten it up with stretchy nylon filament. I will toddle off to JoAnn's later today and get some of that stuff to thread through a few rows at the fingers and the cuffs, and I suspect that will do the trick. In the meantime, I have some Regia bamboo/wool blend sock yarn that is trying to convince me that its beautiful colors should not be exiled to the dark confines of my shoes...
    In Faina news, I picked her up again last night, and realized that I'd made a mistake somewhere in one of the previous rows. I ripped, and ripped again, and ripped some more, and finally, about six rows down, was able to find a good row and find my place again. Negative progress on the Faina. ...sigh... Oh well, it's all about learning the whole chart thing. (That's what messed me up the most - I ripped two rows and went down two rows on the chart, trying to get it to line up. It took me the better part of an hour to remember that the chart only shows HALF the rows. ...sigh...)
    Also, is it just me, or, now that you know how to Make Good Stuff with your knitting, do you suddenly feel like you can improve almost every product on the market? I have been thinking about getting a chart keeper, and before I have even seen the thing, I'm think I could cover it in fabric, make it look like a little book, with a sweet little snap closure, and... Gracious, there is not enough time in my working-outside-the-home life to get all Laura Ingalls again.

    Walked yesterday: 1 mile