Sunday, December 31, 2006


In 2007, I would like to....

Knit a pair of argyle socks, incorporating variegated yarn in the diamonds.

Get those Flamingo socks figured out.

Design more projects myself.

Finish up my Master Knitting Level I program and send it in.

Knit an item for charity every time I knit for myself or a friend or family member.


Write. I'm ready, finally.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 30, 2006


The thing I have resented most about being in my 40's is that my once-excellent memory has frequent, random moments of failure. My memory was failing so much a year ago that I went to the doctor, afraid I was suffering from early Alzheimer's. Apparently, I'm just a perimenopausal, middle-aged woman, and I have to get used to it. Well, crap. I don't want to get used to it. I don't like having to write things down in order to remember them.

Twice this week I have opened my front door to get the mail and discovered a small package addressed to me. I then looked at the return address and had no idea what was in the package, although I could tell it had to be yarn-related.

I couldn't remember ordering anything, let alone remember what I had ordered. I'm wasn't sure if this was middle-aged memory failure, or some sort of yarn-bender blackout problem.

The first package contained two sock kits I had ordered a couple months ago. They had been on back order, and therefore delayed for quite some time, so I could forgive myself for my intial puzzlement, but when I took a moment to process the return address, I realized what was in the package.

These beauties.

The colors, despite my attempt to color-correct in LView, are not quite right. The red is a deeper, bluer red. No so orangey. The blue is sort of right, but the photo is too dark.

The second package came yesterday, from Angel Yarns in far-off England. I had absolutely no idea what would be in the package. I assumed yarn, but what sort, I had no idea.

Imagine my delight when I found these inside:

Regia 4-ply in colors even better than they appear here.

And then this:

Be still my heart. I actually squealed, I was so delighted. I love variegated and self-striping yarns, but after a while, some of them start to feel awfully same-ish. Like I already have some pretty similar to what's begin offered.

But this.

This is so beautiful, speaks to me like no yarn has in a long while, I'm almost afraid to knit it up for fear that it will never meet my expectations. Almost. I had just started a new pair of socks the night before, though, and it took every single bit of self-control not to cast on a new pair from this Opal Rainbow. I did, however, knit long and hard into the night so as to hurry along the progress of the Austermann Step mit Aloe Vera sock.

Hmm. Apparently, the secret to good color matching is to photograph under my Ott Lite with no flash. Curious.

The sooner these babies are done, the sooner I can get to that Opal.

I'm beginning to think this whole middle-age thing isn't so bad. I get the best surprise presents, and they're always just want I wanted. I could get used to this.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Short Attention Span Theatre

So I ripped back the heel and gusset on the Flamingo sock and drew pictures and did math and tried to figure out how to make the @#$% toe-up foot work. And then I had a great idea: provisional cast on, knit the leg up so the chart is easier to read, then knit the heel and foot downwards so I can get the foot to fit right.

That's the sort of decision/realization/epiphany that is satisfying, but is not conducive to an immediate do-over.

So I started some mindless socks last night, and worked on them while we watched My Super Ex-Girlfriend on DVD, after we got back from our second night in a row out to dinner sans any other immediate or extended family members. Both nights we've headed out the door around 7:30, thinking we were on the late side, and were more concerned that the neighborhood restaurant would still be serving dinner than whether we could still get a seat. Well. It seems everyone in town is sick of turkey, ham, and egg nog, and it seems they are sick of it at 7:30 p.m. Who knew? Not us. And the first night we went out, neither did the tiny, neighborhood Asian Fusion restaurant.

Here are my new socks-in-progress:

Austermann Step, mit Aloe Vera und Jojoba Öl
Color 18, "vulkan" (volcano)
Needles: Knit Picks Classic circular 2.5mm, Magic Loop
Gauge: 9 sts, 12 rows/inch
64 sts

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Perfect Vacation

The girls are in NYC with their nana and aunt, having a great time. Michael just got home last night from his little ski trip. I stayed home and had my own fun.

I finished these for Al on Christmas Eve:

(obligatory photo of socks without ends woven in)

Here's a close up:

Pattern: GI Dennis socks, by Jeanie Townsend, which is free, if you're a member of Jeanie's yahoo group, TSKAL (TSocksKnitAlong)
Yarn: 2+ balls of Lana Grossa Meilenweit in color 1289, which I believe is called "Shades of Boring Manliness" (I used more than 2 balls of this because I made the legs longer than normal)
Needles: Five Inox 2.75mm dpns

Christmas morning, I drove the girls, et al to the airport. I spent the day sitting on the bed with the dog, eating food that was bad for me right from the containers --Ben and Jerry's Fudge Brownie ice cream along with diet Coke and sour cream and onion potato chips -- and watching Pride and Prejudice (the version from last year with Kiera Knightly) all the way through, with no one interrupting me at key moments. Then I watched The Family Stone on DVD, followed by Failure to Launch, followed by Pride and Prejudice again.

I also started these:

My first toe-up socks in Regia Silk, which is really slippery, but wonderfully soft. My stitches are a bit wonky on the foot. They were fine when I was increasing for the toe, but when I got to 64 stitches and started knitting plain rounds, I did what I always do at that point, which is to knit past the end of one dpn and onto the first couple stitches of the next one. Which resulted in crappy looking stitches, for some reason. I switched back to knitting the stitches to their assigned needles and it got better. Go figure.

I'm not a big fan of knitting toe-up, but this is one case where I think it'll eventually end up to my advantage. I'm using the heel flap and gusset in Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks. She has just one set of toe-up socks using this method in the book, and because of that, the directions don't seem to be as complete as they are for the cuff down socks, making this project a bit frustrating. The main issue I have is where to start the heel flap on the sole. This heel flap is under the heel, and done in stocking stitch, so knitting it to the length I would normally knit a flap results in fewer slipped end stitches than with the condensed heel flap stitch--which gives you more rows/inch than st st--which means the back of the heel doesn't come up far enough to the ankle once the gusset stitches are decreased.

These will be the Flamingo socks I began to design in November. The flamingo is in reverse stocking stitch, with twisted stitches and slanting decreases bordering it. I totally stole this idea from the Tsarina of Tsocks ( after I received my long-awaited sock kits. One of the kits, Poseidon, has reverse stocking stitch dolphins, which is what gave me the idea for the flamingo socks to begin with, but her technique of outlining the dolphins is totally brilliant, so naturally, I stole it.

The Flamingo socks are knit mostly in Regia Silk, but will have fuzzy pink novelty yarn with bits of metallic gold used as embellishment on the wings and head. Maybe a bead or two here and there for added excitement. I decided toe-up would make the chart easier to follow because I'll be able to see the flamingo right-side up as I knit it, but for now, I'm struggling with the @!#$% heel flap and gusset.

Tuesday I watched Pride and Prejudice again, then I read the book to see what they had to cut/change in order to condense it to movie length. It's tough to read the slower paced, wordy, omniscient writing of the early 19th century when you're used to the fast-paced world of 3rd person limited fiction written 200 years later. I think this screen adaptation did the story great justice. Sigh. I totally get the whole Darcy thing now.

Wednesday I went to knitting group in the morning, and then went to Target and bought Pride and Prejudice on DVD so I could listen to the commentary (I'd been watching it on TiVo). Then my honey came home from Colorado, we went out for dinner, and here I am, ready for more knitting. Plus I'm going to go to the movie theater to see The Holiday.

Oh wait a minute! I just now thought of this...I'll do the decrease rounds less frequently so as to end up with a longer heel. Oh, duh. Excuse me while I go frog a gusset.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Aspen, we hardly knew ye

It's been a hectic few weeks, what with holiday preparations, celebrations, birthdays, end-of-quarter tests, and getting ready for an extended-family vacation in Colorado. Yes, Colorado, where the Denver airport has been closed for several days and won't open any runways until sometime this afternoon, and even then won't be back to full capacity.

Our flight was canceled Wednesday night. Michael received an automated phone call on his cell, just as we were sitting down for dinner at Applebee's for Nina's birthday dinner, telling us our flight had been canceled. He spent the rest of the evening, into the wee morning hours, trying to find a way to get us there. No go. Nina spent most of Friday evening crying. Four hours. I haven't seen her cry that long since she was a colicky baby. When I asked her what she was saddest about, she said, "Not seeing my family! I don't even care about the skiing."

In all my years of air travel, I have experienced airport closures, flight cancelations, crappy weather, overbooked flights, etc. and never once have I been in a situation where there was absolutely no way I could get where I wanted to go. I might be a day late, but I always got there. The combination of timing, amount of snow, lack of airports in the strip of the country (the nearest real airport is Salt Lake City, seven hours west of Aspen and they were completely booked, so we couldn't rent a car from there) all conspired to make the trip impossible. The earliest date we could have gotten there was Dec. 27, a day after the rest of the family would be leaving. We considered driving from the Twin Cities to Aspen, but the storm that hit Denver was moving up the path toward the Cities, so even that wasn't possible.

My reaction? As soon as I heard the news my shoulders relaxed, because I knew my evening wouldn't be as stressful. After dinner, I was scheduled to take Sophia to her skating lesson (she's working on her first figure skating program and getting ready for the test Jan. 6) and then we were to go home and finish packing, which is easy in the case of Nina, who is organization personified, but not-so-easy in the case of Sophia, who is entropy personified. So I didn't have to focus on packing.

Instead, I knit. I knit until late in the evening, and then knit for many hours yesterday. I finished these:

Mountain Colors Bearfoot, in Bitterroot
Needles: Inox 2.75mm dpns
Gauge: 8 sts/in
60 sts

I immediately cast on for Al's second sock, which has been waiting since August for its turn. I'm sure I'll work on a couple other things, too, this week, including Barbara's birthday scarf, which I'm making from a chartreusy-green Misty Alpaca I got from the SnB gift exchange (thank you, Connie!). I also want to cast on another pair of socks for myself, because I just don't have enough wool socks to satisfy myself, but I have so much sock yarn that I have stasher's guilt.

My MIL gave me a gift certificate to Needlework Unlimited for Hanukkah, which I used the first chance I could. I bought Sensational Knitted Socks, which is so terrific I can hardly stand it, plus some Brown Sheep Wildefoote, and more Mountain Colors Bearfoot (in Ruby River Red), and a ball of pink fuzzy novelty yarn with gold metallic bits to use as accent yarn for the flamingo socks I'm designing.

Off to knit...

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Projects for the Princesses due: Friday, 7 pm.
Projects for the Princesses completed: Friday, 6:20 pm

The Princesses* are a group of writer friends who have been together for something like five years. We originally got together as a study group, a combination of a reading group/critique group. We read books from a writer's perspective, analyzing them for plot, character arc, etc. Now we just get together to talk, eat, and drink. Friday was our annual December night out (we usually get together at one or another's house) and gift-giving extravaganza. Last year, my gift to each was a little hand knit sock ornament with a gift certificate for the hand knit item of their choice. Friday was the last installment of the knitted gift distribution.

I completed Tina's third mitten in the middle school commons while Sophia competed in the Academic Triathalon after school. The first mitten was cannibalized for extra thrums, so my plan to give her all three (a pair and a spare) was abandoned. After that, I wove in the ends of Mary's scarf because I decided I didn't think she was a fringe girl. Actually, I decided she wasn't a fringe girl when I realized I didn't have time. Katie's mittens needed their ends woven in, too. Anyone detecting a pattern here? I hate weaving in ends. Ro's mittens were completed the day before, ends and everything, so no worries there.

All gifts were loved and appreciated, and someone took a picture of them all wearing their knitted loot, but not with my camera, because I forgot my camera. Forgetfulness was my middle name Friday. I forgot to bring Tina's thrums with me to the Triathalon, so I had to make a trip home to get them. When I get the pics, I'll post them.

*We call ourselves the Princesses because that's what Monica wanted. Whatever Monica wants, she gets. We each have a princess name and often bestow princess-related gifts to each other.

New knitting - my favorite kind
Saturday morning I cast on a new sock while Sophia skated.

No, it's not Al's second GI Dennis sock, which is what I should have cast on for. It's a sock for me, in Mountain Colors Bearfoot. The color: Bitterroot Rainbow. It has a brownish base to it, with lots of touches of bright colors. I love this yarn. It's so soft. And deliciously warm. I don't appear to have second sock syndrome during the winter, when it comes to my own feet. (Sorry, Al.)

I do seem to have some sort of psychological need to have all in-progress projects complete by the end of the year, though, which is good news for Al and the recipient of the Seaman's scarf that has 3 balls of cashmere/alpaca/merino left to go and will be no hardship to complete. I make exceptions to the year-end "rule" for large projects like afghans and Aran sweaters, but I predict January will bring with it new enthusiasm for my FLAK sweater and my Lizard Ridge afghan.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Last thrum walking

This is where I was on Ro's mittens about an hour ago:

I had decreased the top from 48 sts down to 16, 4 sts per round and I had one last round of thrums to do before the final two decrease rounds. I needed 4 thrums. This is how many I had:

Not quite enough. I pawed through my knitting bag, looked under my bed, ransacked my bedside table, the box of yarn/projects near my bedside table, the storage bin under my bed. Two weeks ago I was walking around with thrums stuck to my back when I went to the grocery store, and now there isn't a single one to be found? Not a single wisp of roving?

I am nothing if not resourceful and creative. I have lots of black yarn. I cut a length of Cascade 220, separated the plies, folded the lengths into quarters, dampened them slightly and felted them the teensiest bit.

I had a thrum:

Now, for probably the first time ever, a picture of a finished object with all the ends woven in:

That's one down. Next up, Tina's third mitten. I made all the thrums this morning, which is what always drags out the making of the thrummed mitten.

Oops, almost forgot:
Yarn: Cascade Quattro (each of the 4 plies is a different shade of purple); black roving
Needles: Knit Picks Options, sizes 3.25 mm and 4.0 mm
Technique: 2 mittens on 1 circular, using Magic Loop, until I started to go nuts and put each of them on their own cable, switching the tips back and forth every couple thrummed rows.
Pattern: This is a free pattern from Yarn Forward. I learned to make thrums from the Yarn Harlot's Thrum FAQ

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Gift knitting countdown

To do:
  • Finish Ro's thrummed mittens. Deadline: 12/8/06
  • Knit Tina a third thrummed mitten, because the first one was kind of flat and the second one was nice and poofy. Deadline: 12/8/06
  • Make little napkin-ring thingies for eight friends (including the two above) that will hold this year's gift certificate.
  • Graft LBR's sock back together. Deadline: 12/10/06
  • Knit Al's second GI Dennis sock (remember to count repeats on leg first). Deadline: 12/18/06

Things not to do:
  • Design kitschy flamingo socks
  • Search Internet for funky pink novelty yarn
  • Make the cat a moebius bed
  • Make more Lizard Ridge afghan squares
  • Start a pair of socks for myself
  • Start another pair of socks for myself
  • Plan all my vacation trip knitting.
  • Start on my vacation trip knitting.
  • Spend valuable knitting time blogging about how I'm not getting my To Do items finished.