Saturday, March 31, 2007


This is a very exciting day for the dogs. Max and Oscar got to stay alone, together, while I ran errands today. I've been confining Oscar to the bathroom - the "Oscar house," we call it - ever since he came to live with us. But since the whole point of getting a second dog is to entertain the first dog, I knew the time for increased doggie freedom had to come eventually.

It was, I think, a success. My living room is clean for the first time since I moved in - a legacy of the Barack Obama party - so there wasn't much for Oscar to mess up. I left two dogs, and came home to two dogs. So far, so good.

My party was small, but successful. It turns out that Democrats don't eat - or at least nobody eats at a 3:30 party, so I have way more junk food than I need. I may look for other parties to crash so I can get rid of leftovers.

I started the Braided Rice Socks at Sock Club today, so the Works in Progress list just got a little bit longer. I'm quickly falling in love with the Gems yarn...although it's pretty fine stuff, so socks take a long time. Tomorrow, I'll probably start Elizabeth's socks - then it's NO NEW PROJECTS for awhile until I can make progress on the ones I have. We'll see how long that lasts.


Friday, March 30, 2007

What If I Changed My Party And Nobody Came?

The first thing you have to know, for this to make any sense at all, is that I've always been a die-hard Republican. My parents are Republicans. My family votes Republican - except my grandmother, but we eventually taught her how. My brother married a Republican. My other brother looks a bit like George W. Bush. My best friend is a Republican, although her mother won't admit it, even when bragging about her political work. I've handed out Republican literature at the polls since I was old enough to enjoy skipping school. I worked for the Republican caucus of the Indiana General Assembly, and some of my friends think I collect elephants.

But tomorrow, I'm hosting a campaign kick-off party for Barack Obama. Obama, it turns out, is a Democrat. I do have to acknowledge that he leans a bit towards the liberal side, but it's still shocking that the people who want to prevent government intervention in citizens' lives are the Democrats. And I guess that means that, come 2008, I'm likely to vote for a Democrat. Maybe more than one. But this one seems pretty likely.

This might be kind of nice. In Jewish Studies, people tend to assume I'm Jewish. There's always that awkward moment of conversation when I have to say "well, actually...." And when the conversation turns political, the Democrats are always "we." Then there's another "well, actually..." moment. At least now I'll know I can say "we," and be talking about the right guy.

So I'm trying to get ready for this party. In Indiana, the Republicans were always the fun politicians...the Democrats had a tendency to be kind of stuffy and position-conscious. One Republican legislator threw a hot-tub party each winter, and had this great party game where you'd strap on a plastic elephant nose and try to pick up plastic rings. I don't know what the Democrats did for fun...if they had fun.

And now it's my job to provide the fun...Democrat fun. I've invited a whole bunch of total strangers to my home. A home which, incidentally, is a complete mess. I've hardly had friends over since I moved. The only people who've visited are the really good friends who will tell me if my house smells too doggy, since I haven't been able to smell anything for a month. But those friends aren't coming tomorrow.

Nope, it's just strangers. And I don't know if I'm hoping they'll show up, or hoping they won't. I do know that the main purpose of this posting is to put off cleaning just a little bit longer - even when "cleaning" is going to mean "shoving everything into the bedrooms and bolting the door."

Above all, I'd really like to claim that I haven't finished my party preparations because I've been sick. Or because I've been reading. Or something. But the fact is, I finished one of my entrelac socks today. And it's red, not blue. Oops.


Thursday, March 29, 2007


The Yarn Harlot's picture of her visit to Strawberry Fields got my imagination going, and I began to wonder what it would look like to see all my own socks in one place. This is the result.

Today was laundry day, so it's a good day for a group picture. Here are (almost) all the socks I've made for myself, squeaky clean and spiraling out roughly in the order I made them.

The Coptic socks in the center were my first socks ever. I started them in the summer of 1999, and finished them around October of that year. It had been years since I'd done any knitting at all, but since I stumbled into a class and knew the teacher I could hardly admit that. These have the distinction of being the only socks in my collection which pre-date Aaron....although I was hitting on him pretty enthuasistically at the event where I displayed the finished socks. I wonder if the really cool socks helped lure him in?

The next pair is missing. Somewhere, I have a set of Turkish socks from an old issue of Piecework. That was when I discovered superwash wool. Two years ago, the socks and I both had a delightful adventure when we made an unexpected trip to Turkey. It was a bit warm for wool in June, but they had to get out and see the country, right? Perhaps I should think about where I want to go next, and plan socks accordingly. The Roman Rib footie (its mate is missing) is the product of that trip, and I got to see all sorts of Turkish socks while there.

The first normal socks I made were the green Fascine Braid socks (toward the center at 6:00). I had some Mountain Colors yarn that I'd never used for its intended project, so socks seemed like a good idea. After that I was hooked.

The blue and pink Turkish-style socks are from Summer 2003 in Washington, D.C., when I had an internship at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and discovered a great fiber store in Alexandria. The pink "Cut Your Teeth" socks were completed on the way to and from the SCA's Gulf Wars in 2005. The blue False Flame Crew Socks are my Knitting Olympics project, made with yarn from Elizabeth, a Secret Pal gift. I count four finished sets of Sock Club socks, and two pair made from yarn left over from sock-gifts for other people. The rainbow Opal socks are from the River Knits retreat of 2005, so most of my production has been since then.

I have a couple of pairs of souvenir socks, including some cool ones with pictures of the Munich tram, but most of my commercial socks don't hold so many memories. Sometimes I wonder why I spend $20+ and hours of labor to make socks when they could be bought for so much less. I guess this is why. Imagine.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Works in Progress

The Sockday Club is talking about a lace knitalong. Before I give into temptation, I should take stock and figure out what I have in progress. Here's the list:

Entrelac Socks from the Spring 2007 Interweave Knits (for the knitalong)
Fascine Braid Socks from Mountain Colors (this is the January/February Sock Club sock)
Ocean Lace Stole from Just One More Row (a gift from a River Knits Secret Pal)
Sunrise Circle Jacket from the Spring 2006 Interweave Knits
2 dog sweaters (they just need some finishing work)
Pomatomus socks from Knitty
Bavarian Strolling Socks from the 2006 Pattern-a-Day calendar
Bulgarian Rose socks from the November/December 1994 Piecework
Belle Epoque sweater from Knitty
Mutant Poiret/Cathode sweater
Croisette wrap-around cardigan

I think this is everything, more or less. It doesn't include a handful of scrap-yarn-consuming projects like the tessellating fish afghan, since I've only made a handful of fish.

It also doesn't include the projects I'm about to start: The Braided Rice Socks for the March/April Sock Club, or Elizabeth's socks for the Sockday club.

I don't know if writing it all down makes it look better or worse. But it does call into question whether I need to start any new projects.


Saturday, March 24, 2007

My Secret Pal... stalking me.

Or she's reading my mind.

That's the only possible explanation for how she put together such a perfect package for me.

This came today. First, let me say that my Secret Pal is a package stalker, just like me. She sent me an e-mail to let me know that she was watching its progress on package tracking, so I knew to look out for it. We may be sisters, separated at birth. I don't know why the package rated the "surface mail only" stickers, but they're pretty cool all by themselves.

The dogs, of course, are absolutely certain that anything that comes in a Hormel Pepperoni box is for them. Sorry, boys, but knitting is Not For Dogs.

Nope, this is All For Laura, and all good stuff. And here is where the weird part comes in....

See that yarn? It's "On line" sock yarn - which appears to be a German brand, but it's made in Turkey. The last two trips I've taken? Germany and Turkey.

There's some nice spa stuff, for hands and feet. My feet always hurt, and my hands are always dry. How perfect is this? I can't wait to pamper myself!

Then there are the kitchen goodies....a cute apron (I really need an apron), an egg separator shaped like a chicken (this was in the mail BEFORE my "I love gadgets" post), and a Paula Deen cookbook. This time last month, I don't think I'd heard of Paula Deen - most of my Food Network viewing is "Good Eats." But then I came across an article about her, and so did Aaron, and we were just talking about it last weekend. Then she had a kitchen makeover special on, where we learned she likes dogs, so she's obviously cool. So now here I am, all set to become a Paula Deen fan.

Then there's a fun little bookmark with lots of L-words (see, dogs, no M- or O- words....reading is Not For Dogs, either) and some orange tea (good for my cold, no doubt).

And while I know I said I like Chick-o-Stix on my Secret Pal questionnaire, this goes Above And Beyond the call of Secret Pal Coolness.....a bag of "Chicken Bones" from the Ada Candy Company, which seem to be a more homemade example. How incredibly neat is that? I can't report how good they are yet, because I'm going to hold off for a day or two until I can actually taste things.

So now I start guessing....everything came accompanied by a lovely little card. Did she make it herself? Is she from Oklahoma, where the candy was made, or from the South, like Paula? Is this yarn a LYS buy, or stash from overseas travel (there's not much English on the label)? The one thing I know is that she's absolutely wonderful. If she is reading my mind, I won't make a tinfoil hat - I like the results. Thank you SO much, Secret Pal!!!!

By the way, is anyone else waiting to find out how the Yarn Harlot's "Represent" event went? I'm becoming a blog stalker. Post, already!

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Studying - and Knitting - Abroad

Tonight I dragged my self out of my sickbed - or off my sick La-Z-Boy - to attend a reunion of last year's Spring Break group. This was the Best Group Ever for a Study Abroad trip. It's obviously a good bunch if they're still getting together a year later - one guy even drove up from Indianapolis for dinner. This time last year, we'd just returned from a week in Munich and Greece, studying history and having a lot of fun. It was cold the entire time we were there, it snowed and rained most of the time, we drank too much, slept too little, I had to have my bathroom door knocked down by a soldier (this is how I learned to avoid the lots-of-Ny-Quil cure for colds), and we had a wonderful time.

Here's a picture of the group in Distomo, Greece, where we were warmly welcomed by the Mayor, who taught us about the town's tragic WWII history.

I really don't know what it was that made this group so good. Too often, groups splinter into cliques, but that didn't happen here. There was only one other knitter in the bunch, so I can't credit knitting - although two students very patiently accompanied me on my first trip to the yarn store. I went back again later when I wouldn't have to worry about boring anyone!

I wore these to the reunion tonight - they're my German toe socks. I bought the yarn from the Ludwig Beck store in Munich. I started the left sock when I was visiting Aaron in October, and finished it on the flight home. The socks are Lang Jawoll yarn, with the instructions taken from the Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook. I've always wanted to own a pair of toe socks, and now I finally do!

I call them my "Wilhelmshaven" socks, mostly because I did a lot of work on them on the train to Wilhelmshaven. I like to think it's for the color, but there wasn't nearly that much blue or green when we were there - it was pretty uniformly grey. It's a lovely city, with lots of sea-themed tourist attractions, but cold days in October aren't the best time for visiting the North Sea.

And this is what I returned home to tonight. It's Oscar 2, Plungers 0 in the battle to keep the toilet unclogged. I'm sorry to lose this was a good one, and had just done a fine job of clearing the bathtub drain. My EvenWorseDog has a strange fascination with water - and, it seems, with plumbing.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bow Down Low

Bow down low
Get on your kneeses
You are now on the aisle
Of the living sneezes

This means you - Achoo! - You too.

Remember the Living Sneezes from the "Puff, the Magic Dragon" cartoon? I am their queen. I have had this cold since March 2 - exactly 48 hours after Aaron returned - and while he's gone, it isn't. I'm sitting here at work feeling the cold get worse by the minute....and even dinner is too far away, much less the end of the day. The student hospital reassures me that I'm not contagious, but somehow I don't believe that. Since I'm now alone with the dogs, I can't even resort to the lots-of-Ny-Quil cure.

So of course the thing to do is to work on some seriously tricky knitting. I'm just about to start the heel on my entrelac sock. My first entrelac, and now my first short-row heel. There's nothing like trying to learn a new skill with a head full of mucus.
Either entrelac goes faster than regular knitting, or I'm completely addicted. 5 days and it's time for the heel. There's something about the little rectangles that feels like progress.

I, on the other hand, feel like Mucus Tick.


Favorite Knitting Accessory

My SP10 hostess, Robyn, wants everyone to post on her favorite knitting accessory. The problem is, I don't really know if I have one.

Don't get me wrong - I LOVE gadgets. If there's a new stapler/hole punch/letter opener out there, I want it, especially if it's miniature. I can't wait for the TSA to relax, because not carrying a pocketknife makes me feel like I'm traveling naked. You should see my pen collection. I own a water purifier, although I can't imagine ever going hiking. And I read the Magellan's catalog with a feeling of desire that would equal any teenage boy's reaction to Playboy.

But when it comes to making things, it's different. Part of the satisfaction comes from using minimal's just me and the medium. I enjoy sewing with needle and thread. I don't use an embroidery hoop, a chart holder, or a magnifier - I like to grab my fabric and sit in the sun. Someday I will find The Perfect Knife, which will allow me to empty everything else from my kitchen drawers. Ok, I love my KitchenAid mixer, but power tools are different.

So I don't have a favorite knitting accessory. I keep a small tape measure and some stitch markers, and I'm always buying needles. I need to find a way to keep double-points together when I'm working. I owned a Chibi for 15 minutes, but Max got it and chewed up the case - and the needles. I'm sure I'd appreciate and enjoy more or better knitting gadgets, but there's nothing I long for.

If I have to pick a favorite, I offer this - my Stitch 'n' Bitch journal. I like to keep it handy. It's not perfect - there are too many pages for sweater designs, and not enough in the "Things I've Made" section. But it's still handy. I record important measurements, keep an ongoing project list in the "Notes" section, and use sticky notes to list yarn requirements for my wish list, since the "Things I Want To Make" section is too small. There's a handy gauge and needle template, and a nice pocket in the front to hold the aforementioned sticky notes.

I also use it as a charted pattern library. Turkish socks are one of my favorite things to knit, so there's no such thing as too many patterns. Each stitch repeat gets its own page, so I can pick out just what I need. Some are collected from other sources, and some are ones I've designed. If there were a way to discreetly carry graph paper and colored pencils, I'd doodle patterns all the time in class - now THAT may be an accessory I need!


Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I got home tonight to discover that while Max the VeryBadDog was being quiet in the living room, Oscar, the EvenWorseDog, had done this to the bathroom. This is not where I usually keep my laundry. Nor is it where I keep my duster and toilet brush. The green fuzz in the foreground is from the duster. I don't like cleaning, either, but I usually just avoid it - I don't take things out on the equipment.

I think Oscar is probably unhappy at being left alone. His daddy has been around for three weeks, so both dogs got used to having lots of attention. But today was the day for Aaron to go back to Germany.

I'm pretty unhappy about it, too. It's going to be a long six months.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Two Warm Dogs

I've finished the dog sweaters!

I won't say Max and Oscar enjoy their new sweaters, but they're wearing them, and trying to chew them off each other rather than trying to take them off themselves. I hope this is just playing, and not cooperation.

The sweaters are made from Dale Falk, using a pattern from Posh Pooches, modified for Mosaic Garter Stitch. I think I started Oscar's sweater sometime in February, so that's pretty good progress. Of course, it's entirely possible that we've reached the end of winter, so they won't need their sweaters for another year.

That's good, because I think I still need a little time to modify them. Max's looks more like a tube dress than a sweater. So I'll move up the leg openings, in order to get the neckline around the dog's neck. I was so worried about making the leg openings too small that I misplaced them. Then I'll crochet some trim around the bottom of each sweater, and add cuffs to the legs/arms. But that can wait, because this is enough to keep the dogs warm, and all sorts of projects are calling my name!

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Sunday, March 18, 2007


When I was younger, I loved to run through the woods at night. It was sort of an act of faith - you just had to keep going, confident that the path would be there. It was also something of an act of necessity, since the police didn't like us building campfires in the public parks in the middle of the night, but that's another story.

Knitting entrelac is like that....the faith part, not the police. You just have to plunge blindly ahead with the pattern, ignoring what the knitting actually looks like, and somehow it all works out. At least I think it will all work out.

Sam, one of the Sockday knitters, decided she really wanted to make Eunny Jang's entrelac socks from Interweave Knits, and somehow that turned into a proposal for a knitalong. So I gave in to peer pressure, bought my yarn, and decided to learn entrelac. We got together yesterday at Debbie's for a cast-on party, and this is the result. I did a little work once I got home, so in about four hours of knitting I managed to cast on the toe, do my base triangles, and get in two rows of rectangles. I'm trying to break out of my blue-purple-green color fixation, and work with something different, so this color combination is an attempt to do that.

As it turned out, Sam and I were the only ones brave enough to start on the socks. Michelle and Amanda were our local entrelac experts, but they both left early. Amanda's on a lace knitting kick this year, so she was only along for the company, but Michelle started and abandonded a pair of mittens. Elizabeth is working on a nice felted bag, and Debbie started her entrelac adventure with Knitty's Danica.

There's some concern that Sam's name will become a curse word in the local knitting community, and I'm not making any promises that it won't yet. I question the wisdom of trying to knit an entire pair of socks in six-stitch blocks. But I may be pleased with the results, and I know I'm falling in love with the Cherry Tree Hill yarn. So we'll see what happens.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Socks that Barack?

It's hard to relate this to knitting, but I'm still excited about it. I've just signed up to host a Kickoff Party for Barack Obama's campaign on March 31.

I didn't vote for Clinton, so this is the first time I've really been excited about a candidate who has a chance of success (Ross Perot was one of my childhood heroes, so it was a real disappointment when his campaign flopped). I didn't think Obama would run, but here he is - so I thought I'd better step up to the plate and do something.

I don't agree with him on every issue, but he comes across like a man who can be trusted, a man of good character, and after this administration I think that's important. He seems to have real ideas for specific things to do, and that will help even if he doesn't win. And it doesn't hurt that he's articulate and looks good on TV....another nice change!

I'll even be slipping away early from sock club to host my party. Now that's dedicated! But that doesn't mean that I won't be knitting socks during the party! Maybe I'll break out the red-white-and-blue "Nation Color" yarn from Germany.


Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Spring Break

Since we're supposed to update this regularly for Secret Pal 10, I'll post even though I don't have new knitting content.

This week is Purdue's spring break, but I'm already done with all the vacation I'll get. Tomorrow is back to work at the library....3 long days of very little to do. The good news is 1) I just bought a new iPod Shuffle to help keep me entertained, and 2) we're getting a new printing system. This is good news, because it will stop people who take advantage of our public computers to print stuff without paying for it - removing one of the major headaches of my job.

I bought the Shuffle so I could listen to language recordings, but I'm already in love. I want to listen to music all the time now...even though my very generous playlist doesn't begin to fill it. I feel like I'm 19.

Today was the most amazingly beautiful spring day. I've gone from feeling a desperate need to make more warm wool socks to wanting more lightweight socks. The nice days won't last, but maybe it's still time to start thinking cotton.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007


This is a post that should have been made long ago, but since I still have a cold, catching up may be all I can do. So here I am in Bremen, Germany, with one of many statues of the Town Musicians of Bremen, wearing my German socks.

The socks are Grumperina's Jaywalkers, done in Regia Nation Color in the German flag colorway. I finished them in Germany, so this was their debut. It was about 45 degrees and clammy in mid-October in Bremen, so I couldn't make socks fast enough.

We had the good fortune to be in Bremen for the opening day of their Freimarkt, which appears to be the German equivalent of a state fair, but without the livestock. There were rides and food booths, and they kicked of the celebration by tying balloons and a giant cookie to the statue of Roland. The fair food delicious - and cold air always makes hot fried things welcome!

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Cold Day, Warm Dogs

It turns out that beautiful yarn wasn't the only thing my boyfriend brought back. I have a Spanish cold, which he contracted by going out without a coat in 70 degree weather, or by sharing an airplane with a woman who coughed for two hours, depending on who you believe. So this is not a weekend for being productive.

Once I can hold my head up, I'm going to chill in front of the TV and try to make some progress on Oscar's sweater. My brain is far too fried for any scholarly reading -especially since this week's assignments include a healthy dose of Foucault - but I think I can handle "My Name is Earl" and garter stitch. The sweater design is the basic pattern from Posh Pooches, tweaked to be done in Mosaic Garter Stitch, heavily inspired by this "Doggy's Got Style" sweater. It's only the second time I've ever swatched, but since there are a lot more variations on dogs' body shapes than on humans', it's probably more necessary. Max and Oscar are roughly the same length and height, but Max has a 22" chest, while Oscar's is only 18".

Max will be getting a sweater, too. I don't know if he'll like having a sweater, but he's been shivering when he goes out. I've started to really like this stitch, but I don't think my affection will inspire a matching sweater for me.