Thursday, May 31, 2007


I wanted my Hurricane Sock Pal's sock to see something of the village it was named for - and I wanted her to see where the sock was from - before it heads off to its new home. So yesterday Karen & I took the sock out for a night on the town, and showed it around Broad Ripple village, a neighborhood on the north side of Indianapolis.

The Central Canal runs through Broad Ripple. It was originally intended to be a significant link in a nationwide chain of canals, and advertisers boasted that one could make the trip from Indianapolis to the then-independent city of Broad Ripple, and back (all of six miles each way), in a single day! Now it provides a nice place to walk, and to see some wildlife. So the sock helped feed ducks, a traditional kids' pastime...

and geese. I think the goslings are really cute, but packs of geese can be pretty scary.

Broad Ripple used to have a railroad, the Monon line, running through the middle of it. By the time I was a kid, there was just one train a day, except when the Fair Train was running. Then we'd keep a close eye on the train schedule so we could go smash pennies on the tracks. There are just a few hints of the railroad left - I remember when someone lived in this caboose, but now it looks deserted.

Eventually, the railroad tracks were torn up and sold for scrap. I spent my high school and college years playing on an abandonded trestle, which probably should have been included in the "Bad Things I Did" post. After much debate, the old rail corridor became a hiking trail, and it's very popular. I still miss the old trestle, and the blackberries that grew along the tracks. The Monon trail joins up with the Central Canal towpath; two obsolete forms of transportation providing recreation.

I had some important shopping to do, so we stopped by the Three Dog Bakery, and the sock pretended to be a dog, enjoying all the treats. I could not believe how good the place smelled. And it turns out that the Oreo dog treats are just the sort of thing Max needs, so he was very grateful to us and the sock!

We gave the sock a chance to check out the canal...

...and some of the weird artwork. The city has designated Broad Ripple as a "cultural district," which seems to require the installation of weird art.

Broad Ripple is best known for its nightlife. The main drag, Broad Ripple Avenue, is mostly restaurants and clubs. There's a funny story about the time my brother, when he was about 10, rode into the village with his best friend and wound up in a long conversation with a woman of dubious reputation, and perhaps profession. Once it was well after dark and they still hadn't returned, my father was dispatched to find them. He couldn't escape the conversation either, so it was long past midnight before everyone was home. I don't know if she was chatting on the clock, or if prime earning hours for these ladies are really more late night than evening.

Our last stop was at one of my favorite hangouts, the Broadripple Brewpub. It's in a neat old house, just off the trail. So the sock bellied up to the bar...

....checked out the tanks....

...and had a beer (I helped with this part). Thus fortified, it's ready to head south, looking for a new home - and maybe even a mate!

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Battening Down the Hatches

For the first time, I'm getting ready for Hurricane Season. That's not really hard to do in Indiana, since it's not as if I need to tape up my windows or anything.

No, here inland, the #1 Hurricane Preparedness Priority is finishing my Hurricane Sock Pal's sock. And here it is, all ready to go.

She seemed pretty flexible, and I didn't find anything that looked absolutely perfect for her, so I decided to go with something with a local tie. This is Broadripple, designed by Rob of ThreadBear Fiber Arts. It's knit in Regia Crazy Color, which makes perfect sense if you know Broad Ripple. Incidentally, Rob has a blog named after his dog. But that's not why I picked the pattern. And I'll bet his dog knows the difference between wool roving and doggie treats.

This, for the record, covers #1 on my list of knitting goals for the summer. So far, so good.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007


It's supposed to get up to 90 degrees today, so of course it's a perfect day for baking cookies. Especially Ampelmann cookies!

A professor from Berlin, Helgard Kramer, is visiting Purdue tonight. So I made the cookies to make her feel at home.

Ready for the part that makes sense? The Ampelmann was the Walk/Don't Walk signal used in East Germany. In the '80s, he was animated for cartoons about traffic safety. After reunification, attempts to replace the Ampelmann with the more standard (and more generic) signal led to protests, and a Society for the Preservation of Ampelmen.

So now the Ampelmann once again walks - or doesn't walk - proudly on the streets of the former East Berlin. And he's something of a cult figure - with three gift shops. This is the part where we may have gotten a little silly. Aaron and I are now the proud owners of Ampelmann earrings, an Ampelmann bottle opener, Ampelmann cookie cutters, and a bunch of other Ampelcrap. Presented so quickly with such a perfect opportunity to use the Ampelmann cookie cutters, I couldn't resist.

Just to keep the day amusing, I'll throw in these pictures of Max and Oscar:

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Things I've Done

I've seen this meme on too many blogs to count, and so I'm not sure who should get the credit. Tagging someone would be hard, too - but I'll tag all of the Hurricane Sock Party participants who haven't done it already.

Bold for items you've done, italics for items you are doing or plan to do, and everything else stays plain:

Garter stitch
Knitting with metal wire
Stockinette stitch
Socks: top-down
Socks: toe-up
Knitting with camel yarn
Mittens: Cuff-up
Mittens: Tip-down
Knitting with silk
Moebius band knitting
Participating in a KAL
Drop stitch patterns
Knitting with recycled/secondhand yarn
Slip stitch patterns
Knitting with banana fiber yarn
Domino knitting (modular knitting)
Twisted stitch patterns
Knitting with bamboo yarn
Two end knitting
Charity knitting
Knitting with soy yarn
Toy/doll clothing
Knitting with circular needles
Knitting with your own handspun yarn
Graffiti knitting (knitting items on, or to be left on the street)
Continental knitting
Designing knitted garments (I'm saying "yes" to this one, but the results are the reason I don't credit myself with having knitted a sweater yet.)
Cable stitch patterns (incl. Aran)
Lace patterns
Publishing a knitting book
American/English knitting (as opposed to continental)
Knitting to make money
Button holes
Knitting with alpaca
Fair Isle knitting
Norwegian knitting
Dyeing with plant colors
Knitting items for a wedding
Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cozies…)
Knitting socks (or other small tubular items) on two circulars
Olympic knitting
Knitting with someone else’s handspun yarn
Knitting with DPNs
Holiday related knitting
Teaching a male how to knit
Knitting for a living
Knitting with cotton
Knitting smocking
Dyeing yarn
Knitting art
Knitting with wool
Textured knitting
Kitchener BO
Knitting with beads
Long Tail CO
Knitting and purling backwards
Machine knitting
Knitting with self-patterning/self-striping/variegating yarn
Stuffed toys
Baby items
Knitting with cashmere
Knitting with synthetic yarn
Writing a pattern
Knitting with linen
Knitting for preemies
Tubular CO
Freeform knitting
Short rows
Cuffs/fingerless mitts/arm warmers
Knitting a pattern from an online knitting magazine
Knitting on a loom
Thrummed knitting
Knitting a gift
Knitting for pets
Knitting with dog/cat hair
Hair accessories
Knitting in public

Monday, May 21, 2007

Knitting Goals

Ali, over at Skeins Her Way, is having a great contest, in which participants are asked to list their summer knitting goals. The lucky winner gets a copy of Ali's first published pattern, and four skeins of Blue Sky Alpaca for knitting it.

Please join in! Check out the contest, then if you add a comment that I referred you, I'll get an extra entry. I promise to share pictures of the yarn should I win, even though sharing the yarn might be difficult!

And here are the goals:
  1. Finish my Hurricane Sock Party sock
  2. Finish Elizabeth's Sockday Socks
  3. Finish a whole bunch of other socks - including Pomatomus, Braided Rice socks, Bavarian Strolling socks, Bulgarian Rose socks, Fascine Braid socks, Cotton socks, and my new Traveling socks.
  4. Tofutsies socks - this month's Sock Club project
  5. Finish at least one sweater - probably the Sunrise Circle Jacket, first
  6. Make or finish a shawl
  7. Spoil my SP 10 pal with at least two more packages
  8. Make nifty pouches for both secret pals
  9. Michelle's sockday socks
  10. Do some charity knitting - maybe hats for soldiers
  11. Monkey, made from the leftovers from the Entrelac socks
  12. Something in Cascade Fixation, maybe
  13. Socks from my leftover Lucy Neatby yarn, if I can mange it
  14. Teach a Needle Felting class at River Knits
  15. The Fish of Prosperty bag that was a gift from Secret Pal Debbie
  16. Write up my "Walkies" mosaic garter sock pattern, and submit it someplace
  17. Make the dog sweaters into something the dogs will want to wear - or at least tolerate wearing
  18. Dye more yarn - maybe hold a dyeing fest

And here are some non-knitting goals, to keep me on track

  1. Write my essay on The Sunflower, fulfilling my first writing contract ever!
  2. Finish the dress I wanted to make for my trip
  3. Organize the kitchen cabinets before Aaron gets home, so he doesn't have to risk injury to cook for me
  4. Read everything (at least everything in English) by Michel Foucault, so I'm better armed to mock him
  5. Recover the rocking chair that Max ate
  6. Get my car working again
  7. Begin riding a bicycle to work on nice days
  8. Clean out the garage so I can put my working car in it
  9. Make the house look beautiful for Aaron's return
  10. Celebrate Aaron's return in all sorts of delightful ways


Sunday, May 20, 2007

Nine Hours to Philadelphia

I'm back from Germany, having finished just one pair of socks on my two-week trip, and those on the flight home. I'm going to insist they count, especially since I lost so much potential knitting time by being the official driver for our travels around Northern Germany. I need to teach Aaron to drive a stick, or to knit.

An aside here - when I was in High School, I dreamed of one day driving on the Autobahn. Part of my mind designated Germany the Coolest Country Ever, with its fast cars and absence of speed limits. I even made a lifetime "to do" list a year or so ago, and I think "Drive on the Autobahn" was part of it. The part of me that kept track of all my speeding fines was especially enamored of German road rules - but I also looked forward to really finding out what a car and I could do.

This turns out to not be much fun when the car in question is a Peugot, a vehicle that sounds like it's powered by two angry hamsters on an exercise wheel. I love little cars. I think my Honda Accord is huge. I dream of owning a Miata, or an MG. I can't wait for the Smart Cars to come to America. But I still want my little car to have a feisty engine. After all, my little dogs can keep up with the big dogs - shouldn't the little cars do the same thing?

The Peugot can't. I rarely put it in fifth gear, because I was afraid I wouldn't be able to accelerate fast enough when entering the highway or passing trucks. City traffic caused it to make the same noises that you get when you stick a piece of paper in a fan. And I never got it above 150 km/h - a tragic waste of the Autobahn, really. Scary, too, to see a big Mercedes flying up to my tail as if I was stopped. So now my dream has been revised, to "Drive on the Autobahn in a bad-ass car" (and preferably one I personally own, so I don't have to worry about scratching it while intimidating other drivers and cyclists).

Anyway, I crossed the Atlantic at about 850 km/h, and I didn't have to drive. So that left time to finish my Entrelac Socks, featured above. I really wanted to have them finished in time for Boot Camp for Socks, and so I got to show them off. I'm sure the River Knits blog will have pictures soon, and a review of Boot Camp.

And yes, the socks are posed on the empty seat next to me. That almost - almost - made flying US Airways worthwhile. But if I set up an account at, you'll see one of the many reasons I'm creating a personal no-fly list of my own, with US Airways right at the top. My luggage - with those 22 precious balls of yarn - may or may not be on its way to Philadelphia by now, but that's a different rant.

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Sensational Socks

My anonymous Hurricane Sock Pal asked what I thought of Charlene Schurch's books. I'm afraid I can't offer a colorful rant like I did for Nancy Bush.

I own Sensational Knitted Socks, and I like it. It's not the one sock book I'd want on a desert island (Socks Socks Socks gets that designation), but I think it's useful. I have at least two pairs of socks-in-progress based on her patterns. There are changes I'd make to the pattern for one set, my current traveling socks, but I'll talk more about that once the socks are done.

I've looked at More Sensational Knitted Socks, but it hasn't found a place on my must-buy list yet. It seems to be more of the same, and I think I might be better served by a more generic pattern library. The collection of heel and toe techniques is my favorite part of SKS, and so I don't know how much I need the new patterns. The heel flap I prefer for toe-up socks isn't in the book, but she can't include them all (I like the one from these Roman Rib Socks). So a copy may find its way into my shopping basket eventually, and if one turned up in my library it's likely I'd make use of it.

I don't know who the best audience is for these books. I think the ideal user would be someone who likes a lot of hand-holding, but who doesn't mind reading directions. I tend to totally ignore the gauge charts, going with the assumption that Most Socks Fit, one way or another. Assuming that Most Socks Fit - or Most Socks Fit Someone - gives me rather more freedom to pull designs from everywhere, although it may not always lead to perfect socks. For perfect socks, for the feet they're supposed to fit, SKS offers a really great how-to. And a lot of the patterns are pretty, too.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Es ist Spargelzeit in Niedersachsen! There's fresh asparagus everywhere, most importantly on my plate. I've enjoyed four spargel meals since I've been here, plus some bites on the side. Most of the local asparagus is white, and has to be peeled, but the green stuff is available, too. Yes, we bought some. It's traditionally served with boiled potatoes, hollandaise sauce, and a delicious salted Ammerlander ham. Even Aaron, who's not much of a vegetable fan, agrees that asparagus is pretty tasty when served with hollandaise sauce and salted ham. He'd probably say the same thing about wet newspaper, but I prefer the spargel.

Some of the restaurants in Niedersachsen have a great offer - the Niedersachsenteller - the Lower Saxony Plate. For 10 euros, you get something that's a local speciality. It's also seasonal - hence the spargel. So this is a great deal - not only is it really good food, but often you wouldn't eat in these restaurants for 10 euros. And it's something local, so it's a good chance to absorb the local culture.

It's often billed as a "small portion" of another dish. I offer this example of a "small" portion, from the Oldenburg Ratskeller. I'm really not sure what a larger one would look like.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Last Minute

I only have a couple of days left in Germany, so we tried to squeeze in some last-minute fun. We got up this morning and headed to Bremen, for lunch in their c. 1450 Ratskeller. Aaron not only bought me a delicious lunch, he thoughtfully held up the sock so I could take its picture in front of a 18th-century wine barrel. The Ratskeller offers delicious food and wine, in a delightful setting. Bremen's weather didn't quite compare, so it wound up being a 40-minute train ride just for lunch

When we got back to Oldenburg, we figured out that tomorrow is a major holiday, Himmelfahrt (Ascension Day). Oops! It turns out that everything is closed for Himmelfahrt, and I'd planned to do all of my shopping tomorrow. So with just a couple of hours to spare, we descended upon a rain-soaked city center to squeeze in two weeks' worth of delayed souvenir shopping. This is the result.

16 skeins of yarn, including some delightful Italian cotton, a bamboo blend, and a fun Regia sock pattern. I couldn't resist the sets of double-pointed needles held together with rubber socks, so one of them joined the stash. A little bit of this is for my Hurricane Sock Pal, but I'm afraid the rest is all mine, my precioussss.

Just in case that wasn't enough yarn, let me show this. Or show off. Aaron's been watching the yarn sales, so when he found this nice thick wool blend for 50 cents a skein (yes, that's 50 cents. You can see the price tag.) he snapped it up. Bringing the grand total to 22 skeins of yarn acquired on this trip.

And yarn wasn't the only thing I bought. I've been trying to avoid collecting too much stuff, and I just assume that anyone I might buy gifts for is doing the same. But chocolate is a consumable souvenir. We may or may not wait until I return to do the consuming.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Basic Training

It's almost time for Boot Camp for Socks! So my socks are getting ready for boot camp by visiting a famous American military installation, Checkpoint Charlie. Note my spiffy pink "Boot Camp For Socks" T-Shirt from the Southwest Trading Company. Sam will be wearing one of these, soon.

There isn't much left at Checkpoint Charlie anymore - just a couple of re-created "You Are Now Leaving The American Sector" signs, and this little hut in the middle of an otherwise busy street. One thing they haven't done in the 17 years since reunification is add traffic lights to this point of the former border, so what was once one of the most tightly controlled crossings in the world is now a chaotic mess of an urban intersection.

Incidentally, this is just about the only sun we saw in Berlin. I wish I could knit socks as fast as I can wear them.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Places to Knit

The newest Secret Pal 10 contest is to report on strange knitting experiences and places to knit. I'm working on it.

Here I am knitting at the top of a slide in Bad Zwischenhan, a little resort town near Oldenburg. There's actually a beautiful blue sky, but that disappeared when I tried to correct backlighting. There isn't much to do in Bad Zwischenhan, but it's a great place to walk by the lake, bask in the sun, and knit.

I didn't go down the slide. It's not that warm yet.

My best strange knitting story isn't actually about knitting, and I regret that I don't have any pictures. All through college, I did needlework in class. I hate sitting still.

I had a wonderful old military history professor, Gunther Rothenberg. Professor Rothenberg was a World War II veteran (among other things), and an Old European in every sense. He'd stand up when women came into his office, and watch his language when he had female students. He was brilliant, and somewhat demanding. I once saw him throw a student out of class for reading the Exponent, the student newspaper, because he said that to imply it was more interesting than him was insulting. His last words, shouted down the hall, were "If I were you, Mister, I would DROP this class!"

He didn't mind my needlework - in fact, he specifically said "you can do whatever it is you do" when he was listing things that it was OK to do in class. (It was acceptable to sleep, or to read the New York was the choice of distraction that was insulting.) But, he specifically asked that I not knit. He said it made him nervous. Apparently he couldn't stop thinking of Madame Defarge. He wasn't a man I wanted to make nervous - there's a rumor that he once knocked out a campus Holocaust denier. So I didn't get to knit for my weird knitting story.

Bad Zwischenhan is full of old people. Some of them may even be World War II veterans, albeit for the other side. But none of them seemed to be made nervous by knitting. I took the sock out to show it a good time, and got nothing more than a few puzzled looks. So here's a more scenic picture of the sock overlooking the lake, and the slide.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

I am....

Wednesday Blog Challenge #9 is to write a list of statements, alternating "I am..." with "I am not...."

I am writing an essay on Berlin.
I am not a camera.

I am in Oldenburg right now.
I am not sure what we'll be doing tomorrow.

I am working on three pairs of socks.
I am not excluding the possibility of a fourth.

I am a person who loves gadgets and organizing tools.
I am not organized or neat.

I am a knitter, a lampworker, and an embroiderer.
I am not artistically talented, at all.

I am an avid reader.
I am not really into comic books, yet.

I am a Republican.
I am not voting for McCain, Guliani, or Romney, and I did not, and would not ever, vote for G.W. Bush.

I am a dog lover.
I am not a cat person, or at least I try not to be, since I'm allergic.

I am allergic to olives.
I am not especially troubled by this.

I am a leadfoot.
I am not, alas, a sports car owner.

I am about to go to bed.
I am not a morning person.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Knittin' on a Jet Plane

Here's the result of the nearly eight-hour flight from Philadelphia to Bremen. U.S. Airways has the absolute worst airline food I have ever encountered, so there wasn't much else to do. I'd wanted to work on my Braided Rice Socks, but found out midway through that they required the Size 1 needles that were both packed in my luggage and in use for my Entrelac Socks. So I had no option but to cast on a new pair. It's important to keep two knitting projects in your carry-on bag.

This is my hand-dyed yarn from the Fleece Fair, being turned into a pair of socks. The sock pattern is a modified one from Sensational Knitted Socks, although I wonder if I should have modified it more, since it's spiraling. But I'll see what happens. It's a fairly simple ripple pattern, just enough to give some texture to the patterned yarn. I think I like it.

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