Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday

Aaron & I may have our disagreements (he just doesn't seem to see that fish are cute!), but we seem to agree on most of the important things - including that there is no bargain in the world, no way, no how, that would justify going out at 4:00 in the morning to fight retail-store crowds on the day after Thanksgiving. I wouldn't go out if they were giving away MacBooks. I might go out if a store were giving away liver transplants - if I needed one - but only then, and I'd expect the crowds to be smaller for that deal. And it might still be a toss-up.

So we didn't go to any big-box stores. We didn't wake up hours before dawn. We didn't fight for parking places, or get into a car accident. No, we enjoyed a quiet morning, replete with the delicious Thanksgiving dinner cooked by Aaron's parents (three kinds of turkey!), and then - and this is one of the many reasons why I love him - we went to a yarn store.

I thought a city the size of Lexington would have to have a few yarn stores, but I'd never been able to find them. Then along came Ravelry. A group of Kentucky knitters helpfully pointed me in the direction of several Lexington-area stores, including one that's just down the street. So we made a quick Black Friday trip to Stone's Throw Artisans, in downtown Georgetown.

This shop may be very friendly towards non-knitting spouses/partners, since the nearest parking discourages lingering. At least I think it's the nearest parking, and that my own non-knitting partner wasn't just trying to discourage lingering! I would've hurried, anyway, since I'm still trying to cut back on my yarn-buying.

Stone's Throw isn't just a yarn store - it's an artists' cooperative where one can buy all sorts of locally-crafted items. The friendly proprietor told us she'd been in business for about six years - so it's definitely a testament to the power of Ravelry that we finally found out about it. As a tourist, I'd call it a good yarn store. If I were a local, it would probably be a great yarn store. There were lots of big-ticket items (looms and spinning wheels), and a lot of basic supplies (dyes, fibers, the standard yarns, and a nice selection of books) - all good things to see in your everyday yarn store, but spinning wheels are not an impulse buy for me. I'd be all over the place for Secret Pal exchanges, since there are so many non-yarn gifts (and, in fact, the only thing I bought is for my Secret Pal). The yarn selection was pretty basic - no piles of Lucy Neatby sock yarn for me to dive into; no exquisite hand-dyed laceweight silks by local Kentucky artists - but she'll order what you need - once again a good feature in one's everyday yarn store. The store is very festive and friendly - I don't know if there are classes or knit nights, but it looks like a lovely place to visit.

So my Black Friday was a very colorful one. I didn't come home with any more yarn - perhaps that's Aaron's reward for putting up with the yarn-store trip - but now I'm reassured that the next time we come down to Kentucky I won't have to bring four knitting projects along. No, I haven't finished any of them. I was busy. Three kinds of turkey, remember?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


It's Thanksgiving week, and we're leaving town tonight. We'll travel first to visit my family, then on down to Kentucky on Thanksgiving Day to see Aaron's family. We're loading up with baked goods and laundry and dog necessities - but I'm also putting together the most important packing list - my knitting.

I'm trying to do this somewhat compactly, so everything will (more or less) go in my Haiku Bag. I haven't really posted a lot of excited things about my new bag here, so I'll add a bit now. It looks like it's going to be a great knitting bag - it has lots of pockets, but is open enough to make it easy to carry around and knit without removing the yarn. It's also stain- and water-resistant.

But it's not going to be such a great purse, which I was hoping it would become. The color isn't the deep, subtle purple my monitor suggested - the real bag is a much lighter and brighter color, with earthy undertones, and a neon green strap. The pebble texture of the suede is much more prominent than I expected. So it's not really dignified enough - even for me - to carry every day.

It is, at least, a fine comprimise for travel, and now it's well filled. I hope I've stocked up on enough knitting for five days. I've packed Michelle's sockday socks (safely hidden in their bag), my second Evil Moccasin sock (If I ever knit another pair of these again it will be in cotton, so I can call 'em Cottonmouths), and my nearly-finished Nile sock. I've also added two brand-new balls of Panda Wool, just in at River Knits, which will become a special Christmas Sock after (and only after!) I've finished Michelle's socks.

The Panda Wool is my reward for fulfilling my yarn abstinence vow. After looking at pictures of the Xmas Rock from Socks that Rock, I got nervous. Some finished projects looked really nice, but others striped in really ugly ways, and that seemed like a really expensive chance to take. The Panda Wool is cheaper and locally purchased, and I really like its sheen (even if it does have some nylon blended in, which makes it less desirable to actually wear in the winter). I think it's going to become the Crystalline Lattice Socks, but I don't know how much time I'll have to change my mind before I finish Michelle's socks.

Last but not least, I'll show off my progress on the Kauni Cardigan - I'm starting to see a color change! It's not going to make the Thanksgiving trip with me since I really want to finish some socks, but it's knitting nice and quickly and I hope I'll be able to wear it this winter.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Is there a doggie dummy?

Winter is getting closer, and I still haven't finished everything on my "Summer Knitting Goals" list. So I thought I'd put a dent in it while waiting for the Colts game to start, and see what I could do with my dog sweaters.

I finished the knitting back in March, but I wasn't happy with the fit. So I thought I'd undo the stitching, fit the sweaters to the dogs, and do all of the assembly and fitting work. An easy afternoon project, right?

The first part was easy enough. It was a little bit scary when I realized that I'd used up a lot of the leftover sweater yarn making Elizabeth's Sockday Socks, but I managed to find enough for seams and cuffs. So with the sweaters un-stitched, it was just a matter of draping them around the dogs.

You know how when someone's being fitted for a suit or a dress, they stand patiently on a stool while someone adjusts and pins to make everything fit just right? Dogs don't do that. Dogs don't even like having the clothes put on in the first place. And having a sweater that dangles in two halves is just an invitation for a dog to run around like crazy, looking vaguely like Superman trailing a cape, but tripping over his own feet because of the dangling sweater bottom. Claws + Knits = BAD combination! (And this just after having the dogs groomed!)

Apparently, a dog wearing a sweater is also inviting mockery by other dogs.

So there isn't much progress on the dog sweater front. I'm trying to change the size of the pieces as I sew, because the top panels fit fine but both chest panels are much too loose. Dog legs are also much further down the sweater than one might think, and dog shoulders much wider, so I've done lots of adjusting to keep the sweater neck around the dog's neck, and I still think it's wrong.

I'll keep working, and then I can show off the finished sweaters and my matching socks. Don't laugh too much, Oscar - your turn is coming!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Take Five

Since I re-started knitting a few years ago, I've cast on three four sweaters. (The ones I made when I was younger - especially the one with flowers - don't count. Actually, the one with flowers might not have been the most embarassing, but that's another story.) Two remain UFOs, one needs serious repair work, and one was frogged. (Yes, I had to change the total because I'd forgotten about one UFO until I started writing.)

Fifth time's a charm, right? I've finally cast on for my Kauni Cardigan. The swatch has been finished for nearly a month, but I didn't really start any knitting until Friday, in order to get ready for the November meeting of the Scandinavian Knitting Club. It also seems like making the sweater is the least I could do, since I added over a kilogram to Aaron's already-stretched baggage allowance from Germany, and made all his clothes smell like sheep. (I'm already wondering if I'll want the EQ colorway when he goes back to visit, but that may be going too far. But there is good beer from Flensburg, so a trip to Wollsucht may not be entirely out of line)

Just getting ready to knit the cardigan was something of a challenge. The big honkin' 250-gram balls of yarn took several hours to wind. Here they are, with a ball of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport thrown in for comparison. I had to pull out a new knitting bag to hold all of the yarn - and buy a new set of circular needles to come close to gauge. Even so, this may be my cheapest sweater project, if we don't count Aaron's airfare.

This one required a lot of math, too, but that didn't seem so unreasonable. My gauge doesn't quite match the gauge called for, and my measurements might not match anyone else. As it turns out, I had to add exactly one pattern repeat to the small size - which may prove to have been a bad idea when it comes time to divide for the front and back.

I also changed the bottom from ribbing to a hem. Like the Yarn Harlot, I can't understand why knitwear would be designed to cling tightly to one's backside. I'm very grateful to her for setting a good example on this. Sweaters don't progress as delightfully quickly as socks, but at least I can see a pattern now. I don't know if I'll have a new sweater for Christmas, but I hope to have it done before it's too warm to wear it.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


I haven't been very good about blogging lately, have I? But I haven't made much knitting progress, so there's not much point. I'm recovering from the too-sick-to-knit thing, trying to catch up on school and house work, and trying to make the apartment look presentable enough for the upcoming Secret Pal Reveal Party. This would be a challenge even if we didn't live here - since I'm still unpacking from last fall's hurried move - but since we do actually live in the place it seems like our organizing and cleaning is constantly being undone. What's up with that?

And, sometimes, knitting hasn't been much fun. Here's my Coriolis sock from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters. I'm insanely happy with the way the Fleece Artist yarn is knitting up. I like the look of the finished pattern. But the math is driving me nuts.

I don't like to do gauge swatches, especially for socks. It made perfect sense to me that, for a toe-up sock, I'd knit until it fit, and go from there. So my gauge of 8 stitiches to the inch for a sock 7.5 inches around gave me 60 stitches. I thought I'd look at the "Magic Numbers" tables, and see what a sock with 8 stitches and 7.5 inches was supposed to be.

I began to worry that something was wrong when I looked for the "After Arch Increase" number, since it didn't quite add up to the "1.5 x the number of stitches around" promised by the book. But a lot of the numbers on the chart didn't seem to add up, so I thought it must be OK.

Then it was time to place markers to begin the heel, and that's when everything really went downhill. Nothing added up. I had to go back to the first magic numbers to find out why.

It turns out that 8 stitches x 7.5 inches = 54 stitches. 60 stitches = 8 inches x 8.5 stitches, or something like that. Apparently the magic numbers require removing a few stitches to make the sock fit snugly, and that the 7.5 inches refers only to my foot, not to my sock. I am not so trusting about this "snug fitting" part, since I've had socks shrink.

I would like to rant and rave about how Cat Bordhi's sock book stinks, how she obviously can't do math, and that the pattern is impossible to follow. But it's hard to do that when I didn't really read the book. Many people say that it's important to work carefully through the book, and to forget everything you know about making socks. I'll wholeheartedly second that.

I'll confess to being a little disappointed in the book. Some of the constructions that looked really exciting and funky proved to be less funky on closer reading. A lot of the socks are made with a worsted weight yarn - often held double - at a gauge more suitable for armor than socks. But I still like the Coriolis sock, and I have plans for what I'm going to do next (probably Jeweled Steps, from my Alpaca Sox), so I'm pretty happy overall.

But I'm still not thrilled about having to sit down with pencil and paper (but no calculator, at least!) to make socks.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Aaron sent this to me, and I laughed out loud when I saw it.

In fact, I've laughed out loud every time I've looked at it. So either my memory is going, or it's really funny.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

What time is it?

That's the first question I got when I sat down at work tonight. One might think, if I were about to launch into a "stupid things that annoy me at work" thread, a question like that would be at the top of the list.

It's not. After all, we moved our clocks back in the middle of last night, so suddenly it's an hour earlier. And we have plenty of students from all over the world who just arrived here in August, so this whole Daylight Savings Time thing is kind of new to them. Heck, it's still pretty new to all of us in Indiana - I'm sure I'll discover unswitched clocks sometime around Christmas. So "what time is it?" is a pretty reasonable question.

Besides, there are so many other things to be annoyed by:

1. We are the Humanities library. It says so in big letters, right over the door. There are 10 other libraries on campus, and the people there are probably far better equipped to help with designing an airplane wing or researching the effects of global warming on single-celled organisms than I am. Should a History major on be giving advice on designing airplane wings? Does anyone want to get on that airplane?

2. "I need it for tomorrow" is not an incantation that will make books appear. If we don't have it, we don't have it. Procrastination is an art which requires careful planning - if the sources for a research paper are to sit untouched for months, they should be doing it on the procrastinator's own personal bookshelf. The only substantial advice I can give for something due tomorrow is "wow, you're fu**ed," but I'm probably not supposed to say that at work.

3. An amazing number of people come in wanting their course textbooks, and usually don't get them. I really need something more than a title like Calculus to do any sort of search. I nmight even be able to check under the professor's name - but usually people don't know that. We probably don't have it anyway - see the part about "Humanities." But there's a nifty place right across the street that will sell a copy, and would have done so back in August. For now, we're back to the "wow, you're fu**ed" part of #2.

4. I am distressed by the number of people who come in looking for an assigned reading, but don't know how to extract information from a bibliographic citation. I have to give my "How Journals Work" talk several times a night during Term Paper Season. I try to understand that something isn't obvious just because I know it, and it's neat to have the chance to teach students something useful, but I really wish I could send them back to their High School English classes to demand their money back.

5. All the signs in this library are invisible. "Where are the copiers?" is not a stupid question, in spite of the large sign that says "Copy Center," because the sign is cleverly done in black letters and hidden in a shadowy corner over the door. The sign for the Periodicals area is screened onto a piece of Lucite, and helpfully lit - with a light nicely positioned to put so much glare on the sign that it's unreadable. There is no way to say "right there under the sign that says 'Copy Center'" without sounding like a total smart-aleck jerk, but I get to practice it several times a night. I also routinely have to inform people that we have three floors stocked with books, and the main room is laid out so that if a person stands at my desk to ask where the restrooms are, they're hidden behind columns, but would be visible from almost anywhere else in the area. Some day, I hope we'll be a final exam project for one of the Visual Communications classes.

Sometimes I'm tempted to start a "Stupid Stories From the Library" blog, but I don't really have enough material. I hope.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Catching Up

I've been sick for the past two weeks. Really sick. Too-sick-to-knit sick. And I had to have some tests done that precluded taking most OTC painkillers, requiring me to live for a week on bland food and codeine. So I haven't gotten much done, although I have learned a few things.

I learned that the dye in Bearfoot yarn isn't really colorfast. It's a little hard to see here, but the soles of my feet were blue. Bright blue. For several days. That's kind of a fun surprise. I invite you to imagine what Aaron must have thought about his sick girlfriend's mental state when I asked him, "before you go to sleep, could you take a picture of my feet?"

I've learned that I'm a bit uneasy about the Secret of the Stole. It's on hold while I check out the next few clues for reassurance. I'd been telling myself that I'm open minded about any pattern and theme, but now I'm not so sure. No picture yet, but I'll be sure to take one before it's consigned to the frog pond, or before I go on to the next clue.

I've been working my way through Cat Bordhi's new sock book. I note that Amazon doesn't discount it (and, for a long time, had trouble stocking it), so this one can be virtuously bought from a LYS without any concern about paying more. I, of course, wanted to support a local business...the need for instant sock gratification had nothing to do with my purchase.

These are the two practice socks - the Little Sky Sock and the Little Coriolis Sock. They're probably destined for the Christmas tree, since the dogs refused to model them. There are problems with both socks - mostly around the heels - but I think those will be overcome with a bit of tight knitting when using sock-sized yarn.

Now I've started a pair of Coriolis socks for myself, using the lovely rosewood needles from my River Knits Secret Pal. The yarn is Fleece Artist basic merino sock yarn in Hercules. I think I'll like these socks.

And I've learned that the Dog-Proof Sock Jar from my Secret Pal is going to come in very handy.