Friday, June 29, 2007

Why I Haven't Posted Recently

I haven't been knitting much lately. My DD rented an apartment nearby and is moving out this weekend, plus I have been packing up books so I can move the bookcases and paint the living room next weekend. I also got my invitation to Ravelry almost 2 weeks ago and I've been busy scanning projects, listing yarn stash and chronicling my knitting odyssey over the last few years. It's been good for me to have everything in one place, and the way you can see what other knitters are making with yarn you might have in your stash is really great. If you aren't on the waiting list I'd advise you to sign up and be patient: it was worth the wait for me. The program has crashed my computer a few times, emphasizing the need to purchase a new one. Mine is almost 6 years old, and was already telling me it needed to be replaced before I got into Ravelry, so it's not Ravelry's fault. It's good to have a system that tells you what pattern you are using to knit a particular yarn with, in case you forget and misplace the pattern but still have the half finished project in a bag. I also like the feature that lets you queue up your dream projects, along with yarn you might already have. I like having things organized, so this is right up my alley.

I did get inspired to knit a feather and fan alpaca neckwarmer from seeing someone else's project on Ravelry. I got 2 skeins of incredibly beautiful turquoise heather Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky yarn in December and was going to make a long scarf, but I saw this cute collar and cast on immediately. I finished it the next night, luxuriating in the softness of the alpaca yarn as I knit. However, as soon as I put the thing on my neck it started to itch me ever so slightly. Alpaca has guard hairs which bother me, even though the yarn feels so soft, but I thought the baby alpaca would be free of them. This may wind up being a gift. The neckwarmer took one skein, so I have enough yarn for a hat or some mitts. The pattern is in Knit Two Together by Tracey Ullman, a book I passed on buying originally but couldn't pass up when it was only $5.50 on Amazon. There are several other projects in the book that are really nice too.

I had to frog my solstice socks. I made the toe too big and then tried to decrease it away. Alas, this resulted in a rather large bump on each side of the toe, which would have rubbed in my shoes and caused blisters. The foot of the sock was still slightly too big as well. I had knit about 4 inches, but I wasn't happy with the look of the toe. Last night, after trying it on one more time at my knitting group and getting the same opinion from my co conspirator in the Rockin Socks Club (her sock is past the toe and halfway up the foot!) I frogged the sock. I did not take a picture--it was too sad.

This is what the sock looked like right after I made the fateful decreases and began knitting in the slipped cable rib pattern. I cast on again but this time I am knitting top down. The pattern allows you to do it either way. I've got about an inch knitted again, but no picture yet.

Edited to add: I've almost knitted as much yarn as I frogged, and here's the proof. The top of the slipped cable ribbing curls out a little, making the sock flare, but it's okay.

TGIFriday Feast

It's a payday Friday, so let's have a feast.

How many pieces of jewelry do you wear most days?

Wedding ring, sometimes a necklace if I remember

What is your favorite instrumental song? This one is hard, I can never remember the names of the instrumental songs. Green Onions, I think, or


Who has a last name that you like?

Candace Eisner Strick (she's a knitting author & designer, and strick means knitting in German). I really miss Herb Caen's name phreak items.

Main Course
Name a popular movie you’ve never seen.

ET (just clips)

Fill in the blank: Nothing makes me calm down like creating something with color (and usually fiber).

Friday, June 22, 2007

Fiber Feast Friday

It's Friday, so let's have a Feast.

Name a funny habit you have.

My hands must be kept busy at all times. I used to shred my napkin under the table when I wasn't allowed to leave until everyone had finished. Twirling my hair was the first thing that came to mind. I do that when I can't knit, instead of twiddling my thumbs.

If you could instantly know how to play a musical instrument, which one would you pick?

Piano, definitely, although Benny Goodman's clarinet playing is incredible, and I did know how to play the clarinet once upon a time.

How long is your hair?

My hair never gets much below my shoulders, it's always breaking off. I usually have it about shoulder length or a little shorter. It's curly, so it looks shorter when it dries. I cut some bangs last week, which I haven't had for about 20 years.

Main Course
When was the last time you forgave someone, and who was it?

My DD, on a daily basis. Temper, temper

What is your favorite kitchen appliance?


Phoenix Rising Here

Warning: SPOILER ALERT: Don't scroll down further if you still haven't received your Rockin' Sock Club package, although since I am on the West Coast my package was in the last shipment, so hopefully everyone else has received theirs already.

I came home after a frustrating day to find a nice flat package on my doorstep (not crammed into the mailbox.) I knew it was coming, but it was still a nice surprise to open the latest shipment from the Socks that Rock Rockin'Sock club. I hadn't looked at any other sites to see what was in the kit. Of course, even though I have quite a few other sock projects in the works, I had to cast on right away (after I wound the yarn into a ball.) I've finished the toe and started the stitch pattern, and it isn't bad at all. The socks are knitting up quite nicely, and the bright colors are merging into an unexpectedly nice fabric. There aren't any double decreases, either, which is a nice change from the last few patterns I've worked on. The cables are very simple and don't pull the fabric in much at all.

Shameless Plug: I've discovered a new favorite fast cooking grain to serve with meals. It's Trader Joe's Harvest Grains blend (not available at all of their stores yet, unfortunately.) It's orzo pasta (rice shaped), baby garbanzo beans & quinoa, with grated carrots and spices. It cooks in 20 minutes even though there are beans and whole grains, which is really quick, and tastes wonderful. I'm posting about it here to encourage everyone to ask for it if they like this sort of thing and have a Trader Joe's near them. If the demand is there they'll keep it in stock. I bought 5 bags on my last visit. I have to drive 20-30 minutes each way (depending on traffic) to go to Trader Joe's, otherwise it would be my choice for the weekly grocery run. I have no affiliation with the chain, I just like their prices, stock and attitude. I'm not wild about the way they package the produce, but I understand the reasoning behind it.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Jaywalkers Cross the Finish Line

I got the second skein of Jitterbug yarn in the mail today, (along with two more in semi-solid colors) only two days after ordering it from Jimmy Bean's Wool. Now that's what I call customer service. I wound it into a ball and found a knot quite near the end. The little golf ball of yarn that resulted was just enough to finish the second Jaywalker sock. The socks fit me, although they are a little tight going over the ankle. I'll have to wear them on less humid days when my ankles aren't so swollen, or save them for my mom as a gift.

I don't know why I waited so long to make this pattern. (Well, I do know: all the scare stories about the socks not fitting made me a little bit skittish.) The pattern is really easy and shows off the stripes in the yarn really nicely.

The next pair I make will be a little larger. This pair makes 10 finished pairs for the 52 pair plunge. I think I'm only one week behind at this point. I now have 5 first socks on the needles, so I'll have to concentrate on working on only one pair at a time if I want to keep up.

I almost forgot! I finally got the invite from Ravelry and it's everything I'd hoped for. I've been entering books, stash and projects all day today, at least until the mail came and the additional Jitterbug yarn arrived!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Jaywalkers hit a Roadblock

They would be finished if I hadn't run out of yarn!

I'm really getting good at those double decreases. I've been working on my first pair of Jaywalkers, using Colinette Jitterbug yarn in Jay. I've hit a roadblock, though. I ran out of yarn halfway down the foot of sock two. Not to worry, I ordered another skein, plus some in a coordinating color to make another pair. In fact, I followed the recommendations of kindred spirits on the socknitter's list and ordered the yarn from Jimmy Bean's Wool, which is up in the Sierras near Lake Tahoe, about 225 miles away from me. I knew about this store and website, but I hadn't visited before. I ordered the yarn before noon today, and they have already shipped it to me! I have high hopes that the yarn will arrive, if not tomorrow, then on Wednesday. They have great yarn, free shipping over $75, and some really nice free patterns too.

I knew there was a likelihood that I would run out of yarn, and probably should have knit these socks toe up or with shorter cuffs, but what the hey, I will have a wonderful pair of socks, and the second pair might be spectacular (I plan a slip stitch design.) I'm using the 76 stitch pattern, size 2.5 mm needles, and the sock just barely fits over my ankle. It's about 10" around, but these Jaywalkers really do have no sideways stretch. When I make the pattern again using this gauge I will follow Grumperina's advice for enlarging the sock. If I make the pattern with a finer gauge yarn I'll have to enlarge it even more.

While I'm waiting for my yarn, did I work on one of the other sock projects that I have going? Of course not. I started a new pair. I've wanted to make the Fancy Silk socks from Vintage Socks since I got the book in March. I'm using Regia cotton/wool in a nice denim blue solid. The top edge is quite nice and uses those double decreases again. The rest of the pattern looks pretty easy too.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday the 15th Feast

It's Friday, so let's have a Feast.

Fill in the blank: The best thing about where I live is _________________…

Beach sunsets. The beach is right down the block (well okay 3 blocks) from my house.

Create a new name for a deodorant (like “Flower Fresh” or “Shower Scent”).

Necessary Evil. I'm allergic to perfume so I use unscented deodorant.

What was the last piece of software you installed onto your computer?

Image in Depth scanning software (poor man's Photoshop)

Main Course
If you were to receive a superlative award today beginning with the words ”Most likely to…”, what would the rest of the phrase say?

Give hand knitted presents

What two colors do you like to wear together?
Navy and pale blue

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Number Nine Socks

I finished the RPM socks from Knitty last night, pair number nine for the 52 pair plunge. Sorry the picture is so bad. The dark colors in this Fleece Artist yarn don't show up well on screen. It's the colorway Parrot: blues, greens, fuschias and purples, all very luscious. These are definitely winter socks, though. The yarn is really thick and squishy, especially in the spiral rib pattern.

A finished pair is a good thing, since the new summer Knitty came out and there are several good sock patterns included. The Spring Knitty also had some great sock patterns (not to mention some great cardigans.) Of course, I didn't start a new sock project from either of those sources. I started knitting a lace sock from the 365 Stitch patterns calender. (January 17th, Feather Lace.) I'm using some aqua Sisu yarn that has silver thread wrapped around it that I just got a few weeks ago. It's looking good so far, although not quite like the pattern image. I may need to block the lace.

I'm also working on my Jaywalkers in Jitterbug in Jay (Colinette). I thought the color name was appropriate. It's an incredible mix of turquoise, teal, purple, jade, olive and kelly green, and the Jaywalker pattern shows off the stripes very well. The color doesn't really look like any blue jay I've ever seen, though. I still remember the somewhat domesticated bird that would hop into my mom's kitchen through the open window and eat all the butter off the dish.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Virtual Vacation Swap

I joined yet another swap. The Knitter's Virtual Vacation Swap sounded like fun when I read about it on Dave's blog this morning. I was one of the last to sign up (it's always last minute when I travel), and here's my questionnaire.

1. If you could visit any state in the US, which would it be and why? I really want to go back to Hawaii. I was there a few years ago for the first time and didn't see enough.

2. If you could visit any country in the world, other than your own, which would it be and why? Gosh, that's a hard one. There are so many great places I want to visit. New Zealand. The scenery, and the people, and the wool. OR Tahiti, Tonga, Samoa, Pitcairn and Christmas Islands. Obviously the South Pacific ranks high on my list.

3. Have you ever driven across several states/provinces/countries? I was born in San Francisco and still live nearby, but for 3 years in High School I lived in Connecticut and traveled up and down the Eastern Seaboard on vacations. We also went up to the Maritime provinces of Canada (I'd like to go back there.) When we moved back to California we drove across most of the country. I've been to every state except Alaska and those pesky Midwest states (Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Oklahoma, North and South Dakota.). It would have been more but my brother lived in Minnesota for 7 years and I visited him once, and we went to Wisconsin on a day trip. I've made three camping trips up to Vancouver Island and across to Banff, then down through Yellowstone into Colorado and finally Las Vegas.

When I was young and crazy I also drove from LA to Los Alamos, New Mexico in one long drive, then down into Mexico and back to LA in the middle of February. The car was never the same after that trip. Oh, and then there's the time I drove frrm San Francisco to Denver overnight. We had a flat tire in the Nevada desert in the middle of the night (and also ran out of gas) and spent the time until a gas station opened sleeping in the car (a Fiat 128 is not suitable as a bedroom for 3 grown people, nor for driving more than 350 miles between gas stations.)

4. Have you ever visited someplace you consider exotic? Where was it? Costa Rica

5. What was your favorite "travel" vacation? Why? England, when I went to London, Oxford and Bath, along with Stonehenge and Amesbury. I'd love to go back to visit more.

6. Have you ever played tourist in your own home city/state (if international, country)? Explain. I live near San Francisco, so I play tourist a lot. Southern California is another country.

7. Are you a museum visitor, beachcomber or an amusement seeker? I love museums and beaches, but museums get my vote. In Hawaii I spent three days at museums and only one day at the beach. How about the surf museum just down the road from me in Santa Cruz, near the Boardwalk? Three birds with one stone.

8. What's your favorite type of yarn? SOFT cashmere, angora, baby alpaca, sea silk, silk and cotton blends

9. What's your least favorite type of yarn? SCRATCHY mohair, shetland wool, yak

10. What items do you like to knit/crochet? Socks, felted bags, slippers, scarves, cardigans, afghans

11. What do you pack, knit/crochet wise when you go on vacation? Usually just socks, because they are portable and I can knit cotton in hot places and wool when it's not so hot.

12. What other crafts do you do/would like to do other than Knit/Crochet? I love to dye fabric (and yarn) and make quilts. Beaded jewellry would be really fun to do. I used to cross stitch, macrame, needlepoint, weave, & sew clothes. Knitting has cut into my crafting time.

13. Are you allergic to anything? (Yarn wise or treat wise) Perfume, scented items, mohair, feathers, cigarettes, chamomile

14. What is your favorite color? Least Favorite? My favorite color: anything in the cool spectrum: blues, purples, teal green, turquoise, rose pinks and reds, probably blue tops the list. My least favorite color is definitely ORANGE.

15. Sweet or Savory (Treat not personality)? SWEET, but not too sweet. Savory is also great

16. Anything else we are forgetting to ask that you think your partner desperately needs to know? I love color.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Artistic Inspiration

I took the day off from work today and went to see two museum shows which are closing on Sunday.

Show One: French jewelry of the 20th century, at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. I have just one thing to say: the designers and artisans who made jewelry in the early 1900's were incredible. The later jewelry was less awe inspiring, although still beautiful. There's also a great companion exhibit of French grahic arts from the Museum's collection.

Show Two: Vivienne Westwood: 36 Years in Fashion, at the De Young museum, also in SF. Aside from the fact that several hand crocheted garments were labelled "Knitted" this show was, to me, not exciting. I liked her tailoring, chutzpah, shoes and use of historical imagery but not really her design aesthetic. There were a few examples of knitted, felted mohair jewelry that were interesting to me as a knitter. One dress was knitted sideways in a feather and fan patterm with felted leaves and flowers appliqued around the neck.

Last night I started a new sock with some Colinette Jitterbug yarn in Jay, a great turquoise mix. The Jitterbug yarn is very stretchy, somewhat like Socks that Rock. Haven't decided what pettern to use, hopefully the Jaywalkers. More tomorrow at WW Knit in Public Day.

Edited to add: The Jaywalker pattern is working out well. I'm using a 2.5 mm needle and 76 stitches. I started off with 68 stitches and knit 1.5" of 2 X 2 ribbing. The socks measure 10" around slightly stretched. Since I have thick ankles that's okay with me. I'm going to make the leg shorter than normal so I don't run out of the Jitterbug yarn.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Finished Socks!

of the 52 pair plunge challenge!

I finished the toe on sock two of my vine lace stripe socks last night while watching the season finale of The Riches. (Interesting show, very different.)

I also finished sock number 1 of the RPM socks I started a few weeks ago (my mindless knitting project). They are made from Fleece Artist Merino in the parrot colorway, blues, greens, purples, magentas. Just lovely. I have cast on for sock two, so hopefully that pair will be finished next week. Because of the broken spiral rib pattern, the socks look really funny off the leg, very poofy. They look great all stretched out, though. This yarn was so dark it was hard to see any patterning at all, so I think the simple spiral works well.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Goal Setting

These are my Regia cotton slip stitch socks, from an old KnitNet pattern. One skein each of black and a grey/white mix (leftover from a pair of lace socks)

I saw this idea on Krys' blog, and thought it was great. I've decided to try and set goals (and meet them) every month in 2007.

Despite my unusual productivity in March-May, I still did a fairly shabby job when it came to meeting my goals--maybe they were unrealistic?:

  1. Finish 4 pairs of socks a month - one a week
    1. March: Four: Swirly Girl, Basketweave, Mad Cow & Madtini
    2. April: Five: Seed & Rib, Marble Arches, Double Spiral Mosaic, Horcrux Slytherin Socks, Broad Spiral Rib
    3. May: Two, but I've made progress on other socks: Monkeys, Grapevine Cream Cotton, plus I've been sick for over a week, no energy.
  2. Finish at least one other WIP NOPE!
  3. Work on all remaining WIPs - FAT CHANCE

The progress on my 2007 goals was slightly worse:

  1. Have only one project of each type (socks, lace, fitted garment, etc.) in progress at any one time. I have a lot of work to do before this happens.
  2. Have a maximum of five projects on the needles at any given time, not counting socks. I have a lot of work to do before I get here.
  3. Finish at least one of the two WIPs started in 2006, and rip out the remaining one if no progress has been made by the end of the year.
  4. Decrease the amount of yarn in my stash. - OOPS
  5. Work on my own projects at weekly knitting group--WEEEEELL

And now, June’s goals!

1. Finish 4-6 pairs of socks (to catch up for May and keep up with the 52 pair plunge challenge
2. That's it! (Do you think I'm crazy?)