Friday, June 29, 2007

New Socks

Just in time for Sock Club, I've finished a pair of socks. Here are my Braided Rice Socks, made with Louet Gems. I love these socks, and I'm sure I'd love them even if they weren't designed by my friend Michelle.

The bits of leftover yarn will joint the leftover Cherry Tree Hill from my Entrelac Socks to become Monkey. I already cast on, while I was waiting for my pictures to upload.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Food Quirks

It's a Wednesday Challenge, after a long break. It's going up a few days late, in spite of the date here - but I suspect I'm not the only one.

For this week, Heather wants to know about Food Quirks, in a sort of revisiting of her prior quirks challenge. Some of my first-round quirks were food quirks, but I'll see what I can do.

1. Foods served together must be in quantities that balance. There must, for example, always be chips to go with dip. Always a crouton in the forkful of salad, or Raisins in the Bran. Period.

2. Wendy's frosty spread on saltines is surprisingly good.

3. As is chip dip made from sour cream and deviled ham.

4. I don't like to drink without eating, unless I'm drinking water.

5. No ice in drinks, unless it's Bailey's.

6. Dessert only follows a meal. And dessert follows a meal at least once a day. A snack counts as a meal for dessert-eating purposes.

7. I really don't care if foods on my plate touch each other, as long as they're all foods I like. OK - I don't like it when a wet food makes a crisp food soggy, but other than that, it's OK if they touch. Really. There is a quirk that I don't have.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Secret Pal 10 Reveal

There was something waiting for me when I got home last night....

Hey, it's the reveal package from Secret Pal 10! Wonder what's inside?

All kinds of goodies, as it turns out. Four different yarns, some tourist goodies from Oklahoma, a lovely picture frame for dog pictures, a handy gauge gadget, two knitting bags, and a beautiful little potpourri pouch. Wow!

Notice that the potpourri pouch is so beautiful that the dogs want to check it out, even if that means risking smelling good.

Here are a couple highlights. This cute little fish-shaped massager didn't make the group picture, because I was so excited by the other goodies that I didn't notice the dogs had carried off one bag. The bag was marked 'For tired "knitters shoulders,"' and it definitely falls into the "Just what I needed!" category. I've already put it to good use. And it's fish shaped. How cool is that?

Then there's the yarn. These two skeins are destined for something special, although it make take me a long time to figure out what. The brown one is from JR Alpacs, "raised, sheared & spun in Oklahoma!" The multicolored one is a wool-and-silk blend from Mystical Creations Yarn.

I know what will happen to the other two - they're destined to be socks! The beige ball is from Yarn Art, and the blue one is Opal's "Frosch" (frog) color. I don't see much frogginess in the color, but I love the pattern pictures. It's going to get stashed away to be my emergency project the next time I have to travel suddenly. Going on a trip without enough knitting is not something I ever want to experience again.

(Yes, there's space for an aside here. This happened to me once - I went on a 3-week trip with so little notice (and so little stash) that I only had one work-in-progress with me, and I finished it in the first few days. So there I was with nothing to do on long bus rides. The flight home was even knitting, I'd read all my books, and my teaching responsibilites were over. For the first time I can remember, I had about 12 hours - one very long afternoon - with nothing to do....and nothing I should have been doing. It was weird. I didn't like it. This yarn will prevent that. I feel secure.)

But the bigger question is, "who's in the package?" Or at least who's revealing her identity - no actual Secret Pals were shipped. My fabulous SP10 pal is Mimi of mimiwontonknits. She's a retired realtor, a grandmother, President of her local knitting guild, and a wonderful Secret Pal! And yes, she lives in Oklahoma, which explains the cards, the toothpick holder, and the red knitting bag from her newest Local Yarn Store. She even sent a picture of herself, a really great idea and something I wish I'd thought to do for my pal.

Thank you, Mimi! I've felt wonderfully spoiled this summer.

Going the other direction, I'm getting ready to send the final reveal package to my own pal. My latest FO will be part of it - this little crocheted bead bracelet. And what's that beautiful blue background? It's the heel of my Braided Rice Sock, which will have a mate any day now!

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Winding Up

I finished the first Sidewinder! I did the knitting in four days, but for some reason it took two days to get around to doing the grafting - probably because I'd put so much on hold for four days while knitting, eh?
So this is the sock after Act IV - all the knitting is finished, and it's ready to have stitches picked up and grafted. The toe is at the top, with the double-garter fake rib at the bottom.

And here's the finished sock. Isn't it beautiful? Aren't the stripes fun?

Does it fit? No.

The measurements must have worked, because the foot fits perfectly - just a little bit snugly. But the leg is a little tight, and the heel/ankle part is almost impossible to pull over my foot. Most sock patterns fit me without any trouble, but the direction of this knitting means there's a lot less stretch where you want it - so less room for funkiness.

So that's why I haven't done the toe graft yet, since I may have to pull the entire thing out. I planned to just sulk for awhile, but after some friendly advice from my LYS, I'm going to let it sit on the blocker while I sulk, and see if that improves the fit. If it doesn't, I'll have to make some pattern adjustments, since I don't want to lose the nice fit of the foot.

But the stripes are really cool, aren't they?


Monday, June 18, 2007

Still Sidewinding

I've made lots of good progress, thanks to Nightline's interview with Princes William & Harry (yeah, I know I should be embarassed to admit that I watched it. But I'm not). This is the Sidewinder with Act III complete. The toe definitely looks like a toe now, and it's easy to see where the heel will be. I'm still not convinced that it will fit, but tomorrow I'll press on, and hope everything works out. I could have a new sock soon - finished in less than a week!


Sunday, June 17, 2007


I'm definitely hooked. It's Day Two for the Sidewinders, and I've finished Act II. Now that I've thought to pin it out, you can see the toe shaping and the mitered heel.

I'm still worried about the size, but the gauge still suggests it will be OK. So I'll keep going. Tomorrow is Act III, so I really hope there's something entertaining on TV.


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Elizabeth's Sockday

Today was Elizabeth's sockday, and I finished her socks just in time! These Turkish socks are made with Dale of Norway's Falk yarn, using my own pattern. I'm toying with these diamond motifs for Turkish socks, hoping to come up with a system that gives a lot of flexibility for pattern design, but cuts back on the need for swatching and charting. This time, I knit both socks at once, so I wouldn't run out of yarn. I'm really happy with the way the colors worked together, especially since I'm not even sure why I had some of the colors here.

We gathered for the sockday at O'Bryan's Nine Irish Brothers, a new bar in Lafayette. The restaurant was kind of disappointing - if I think the food portions are too small, that's a bad sign. I might go back, just because there was a dessert I would have tried had it been better described - a mint chocolate pie that came across more like one of those disgusting "death-by-sweet-cheap-chocolate" concoctions in the waitress's description.

There were 7 pairs of exciting socks there, plus the ones everyone was working on. I'm sure pictures will appear soon.

And, as promised, I cast on Sidewinders as soon as I got home. This project started with a swatch - only the third one I've ever made. I'm a little concerned, though, that it won't do much good...this doesn't really look like it's meant to go 1/4 of the way around my foot, does it?

This is Part I, with a beginning of the toe shaping in Part II. The toe shaping doesn't show because it's being held down by the yarn, since the whole sock really wants to curl. I'm using a Regia 4-ply sock yarn (Brazil Color) that was a Secret Pal gift from Elizabeth - how's that for a way to celebrate her sockday?

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Snowdrop Showdown

There's only one more day to go for The Price is Right. The Snowdrop Shawl knitting continues, for every one of each show's fabulous 60 minutes

Here's Wednesday's progress...

...and Thursday's.

It's definitely taking longer to finish each row. The good news is that, since I've been putting in the lifelines, I haven't had to use them. I could get to like this lace knitting thing. I really like the way the yarn is working.

So far, the dogs have been pretty good about not tangling up the lace. But tonight they were going crazy, running around like mad and really interested in something at the window.

There was a good reason for that. We had company - a young deer hanging out in the back yard. This is as close as he got to the house, but he didn't seem to be bothered at all by the dogs. The only time he looked up was when I talked to the dogs, but even that didn't scare him away. Usually the dogs bark at trees. This one seems more reasonable.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Come on Down!

Normally, I'd feel like a real slacker if I spent my mornings watching Daytime TV. But this Friday, Bob Barker retires after 35 years of hosting The Price Is Right. Who doesn't get nostalgic about Bob Barker? I'm feeling a special kinship, not just because I had my pets neutered, but because his last show airs on my birthday - does that mean that The Price Is Right has been on as long as I've been alive?

So I decided to commemorate this with a new knitting project. (Actually, this is just a handy excuse for a project I've been itching to cast on.) In honor of one great television personality, I pulled out the yarn named for another - the "Ed Sullivan" soysilk from Conjoined Creations. I decided some time ago that this yarn was destined to become the Yarn Harlot's Snowdrop Shawl(.pdf pattern), so it was just a matter of casting on that one measly stitch and getting started. Which I did. Four times.

So this is the result of two days' work, but it's only one day's progress. I didn't think I needed lifelines until I was fairly far along. I was wrong. But I like the way the pattern is working out, and the repeats in this yarn are short enough that nothing wonky happens with the color.

For this week, I'm only going to knit on the shawl during The Price Is Right (I did squeeze in a little knitting during Alton Brown last night, but that was making up for all the mistakes). I'll see how many snowdrops I can make before Bob reminds us to help control the pet population one last time.

In other news, now that she has her box, I can reveal that my Hurricane Sock went to Amanda of Clothesknit. Amanda has three children, and she homeschools, so I don't know how she has time for knitting. Then again, if I had three children, I'd never wind my own yarn balls again! It was loads of fun to shop for Amanda, and I hope she won't have to test any of the supplies in a real hurricane. I'm also collecting things for the final package for my SP10 pal, so I hope she'll be pleasantly surprised.

And last, I've had to add to the Knitting Goals list. #19 is reasonable enough - my Hurricane Sock (I'm calling it the "Nile sock") needs its mate. But #20 is pure indulgence. I just saw Nona's Sidewinders sock, and I must join the fun. I know exactly which yarn I'm going to use. I'll start this as soon as I finish Elizabeth's socks - and I may even swatch, since Nona says it's important. So I've finished two goals, but added two more. This could be a bad trend.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007

Doggie Day

The kind of day you wanna sit in the sun
The kind of day that you wanna have fun
The kind of day that you go to the park
The kind of day that you bark bark BARK!

My friends at Dog Talk have this awesome song, "Doggie Day," which perfectly describes a day like today (the mp3 is here). So we went to the park - the local Dog Park. Both dogs got to run and play to their heart's content.

The park emptied for a bit soon after we got there, until new friends showed up to play. There's this great ritual when a new dog comes in, and has to be greeted by everyone else present. Here Max and Oscar wait, perfectly still with tails curled at full attention, until they decide it's time to approach the new dog. They'll begin to inch closer and closer to each other, until all dogs take off at a run for a welcoming round of chasing and butt-sniffing. I declined to capture that part on film.

Today was also Knit in Public day. We didn't get anything together locally, so I took my knitting to the dog park. This may seem silly since I spend most of my time trying to keep my knitting away from dogs. But Max was content to just hang out, watching the park like the king of all he surveyed, so he stayed away from the knitting.

Oscar stayed far away from the knitting - he wanted to run and play. He really is in this picture (the middle dpn points to him). He was thrilled when the other dogs showed up - especially since the owners showed up with a squeaky frisbee. I know what I'll be shopping for soon.

The big advantage to this trip to the park is that I get to enjoy a quiet evening at home. I have some carrot cake from the Illinois Street Food Emporium, and I have Elizabeth's socks to finish by next week. AND I have tired dogs. I love the dog park.

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Friday, June 08, 2007

Driving School

For once, I'm not referring to something the BMV or the courts made me do. This time, driving school is voluntary, and my 79-year-old father is the student.

Last year, I won a gift certificate to Track Attack, an Indianapolis racing school, from Indianapolis Dine. While it would have been fun to do, I knew there was someone else who really need to do it, so I turned the certificate over to my father. This is the result.

He got to spend an afternoon learning to drive these little race cars, doing practice sessions, and racing as part of a four-man team. My sister, Cyndy, went along to play photographer. They didn't win, but everyone had a good time. The $12 Indianapolis Dine subscription is probably the best money I ever spent.

This is why it seemed so obvious that he should be the one to go - Dad is an avid NASCAR fan. A big fan. This is his car. He calls it Jeff. There re 24s everwhere on and in the car, and those really are blue flames. For someone going on 80. He doesn't leave out the greatest automobile race in history, either - this year he attended his 61st Indianapolis 500.

He spends his summer weekends traveling to NASCAR races with my two older sisters. They camp at the track, sleep in an RV, and spend the weekend doing a lot of drinking and watching a little racing. He says he goes for the racing, but it looks like there are all sorts of ways to have a good time with NASCAR. Yes, Mom's seen the picture.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

What a Jewel!

My Hurricane Sock Swap package came last night - courtesy of the wonderful Darlene, owner of her own wool-eating dog named Max.

I think I got a little teary-eyed when I saw the socks. I can't believe she went to this much trouble for me. It's no secret that I've been longing to try Socks That Rock, but Darlene managed to track down my longed-for but unavailable colorway, Jewel of the Nile. All the Socks that Rock yarns are beautiful, so I'm falling in love with the names - and just like my Turkish Socks eventually got a surprise trip to Turkey, I'm hoping that maybe these socks will one day invoke an Egyptian voyage. Even if they don't, they're beautiful socks. She knitted a simple rib pattern - just enough to be interesting, while still simple enough to show off the sock colors. She thoughtfully left the toe ungrafted just in case I wanted to make something different (never!), but I'll finish that, and I can't wait to start on sock #2!

There were all sorts of other goodies, too. The mixed nuts and gummy bears probably won't be saved for hurricanes, since I don't want to have to wish for (or wait for) a hurricane to hit Indiana! There's another skein of sock yarn, in a beautiful colorway that is absolutely unlike anything I have in my stash. The second Nile sock will be made on the two circular Knitpicks needles, with funky purple cords. And there are two DPN storage cases - a big one, and a smaller one for travel! I needed these so much. It's no longer enough to take along a knitting project when traveling - ever since reading about the Yarn Harlot's horrible Chicago-Ann Arbor experience, I've made sure to take extra knitting, and spare needles just in case I buy yarn while I'm away. I hope I'll get lots of chances to use the travel case, even as I look forward to not having to travel to visit Aaron much longer.

It's probably redundant to say I'm thrilled with my Hurricane Sock package, but I'll say it anyway. Thank you so much, Darlene! Give Max a big snuggle from me and his wool-eating comrades.


Saturday, June 02, 2007


I may be trying to avoid buying yarn (yeah, I know it's not working), but I haven't made any promises about not starting new projects. That's a good thing, since today I found myself inside on the phone while all my in-progress knitting was outside, waiting to be brought in.

So the only thing to do was grab the yarn within reach, and cast on another sock. This is #4 on my Knitting Goals list, Tidal Wave socks from Tofutsies. These are the May-June socks for sock club, but I'd been trying to finish other projects and hadn't started mine yet. The sock progresses quickly - one nice long phone call saw me through the ribbing and two pattern repeats, out of 5-6 needed for the cuff. So I just need to talk to Aaron more - a lot more.

One ball of Tofutsies makes one pair of socks. There are two balls here because I'm showing off - the blue stuff is my door prize from Boot Camp for Socks. Free yarn is hard to beat - and it doesn't count as buying yarn!


Friday, June 01, 2007

Goal #8, and a bonus FO

Just in time to mail off my Hurricane Sock Pal's package, I've finished another project - pouches for my Hurricane pal and my SP10 pal. If you're absolutely sure you're not one of these people, click here to see the finished project.

Both pouches are from Kumiko Sudo's Omiyage: Handmade Gifts from Fabric in the Japanese Tradition. I love this book, and I've made many of the projects over and over. My own knitting accessories travel in a fish pouch, as does my jewelry. I have flowers for jewelry and other stuff, too. My sewing kit is shaped like a cicada - a handmade souvenir of our 17-year cicada summer of 2004. And just about everyone who's received a handwork-themed gift from me has one of these pouches.

Part of the fun of having a Hurricane Pal with very different interests is that I get to try something new. I've always wanted to make one of the "Village Girl" doll-shaped pouches, but I couldn't think of anyone who would want one. My pal, however, is really into kid-oriented stuff, so I hope that means this pouch will suit her well. It was fun to make, and it's one of the larger desighns, which is probably more useful.

I even completed a project that wasn't on the "to do" list - this felted box from Mason-Dixon Knitting. I started it some time ago, in an attempt to use up leftover yarn. It's the 20-stitch box, but made with worsted instead of bulky, so it's not very big - about 8" on a side. It turns out to be exactly the size of one of the Glad disposable containers, so it could be a handy insulator or a fuzzy snack bowl. It always feels good to finish something, even if it's not on the list.

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