Thursday, October 30, 2008

Some People Love Noro Silk Garden Sock

Let me begin by saying, I love Bad Cat Designs. My first lace knitting experience was a Bad Cat Design

Andrea (Bad Cat) is a genius. More recently, Pat and Ellen finished Bad Cat's Summer Sampler and I wish I had a photo of that--absolutely beautiful.

All of which is a long way around saying that when Andrea introduced a new winter sampler, made of fingering weight yarn and touted as easy-to-complete, low stress, I went right to her blog to get more information. Woo hoo! I'm off lacecation! I'm baaaaaacccckkk ....

OMG! The bloody thing is made of Noro Silk Garden Sock! What fresh hell is this? Bad Cat is consorting with the enemy! Can I stand to do another project with this hellish thing? And, of course, the answer is No...this is not the project that will spring me from lacecation.

On a more positive note, my former love, NSGS, has, as mentioned earlier, gone to a new home, where he is more loved and certainly better taken care of. Jolie has turned him around and he's a new man ... er, yarn. She showed him off on Saturday on the bus to SAFF--he's gone from being a backstabbing, fornicating son of a sea dog ... well, okay, I'm still mad ... into a really beautiful holey sort of a scarf. And as of Saturday night, he was Blue! I'm not saying that there's a trend here, but I will admit that my former spouses seem to be happier once they're shut of me. I guess the trend continues.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Well, I Wasn't That Good!

Oh, you wanted to know what I brought home from SAFF?

Everything's relative, after all.
  • Intention 1: spend more time knitting and talking with friends and less time buying.
  • Intention 2: buy no commercial yarn--what's the point when we have all these wonderful shops in town? At the same time, I had two things on my wishlist, both commercial, for which I would have broken my Intention 2 in a New York minute: TyDy sock yarn (darn you, Debra--why did you show me that stuff?) and Malabrigo Sock. Not just any Malabrigo Sock--I've been craving Archangel ever since Jane showed me a sample earlier this summer.
  • Intention 3: take my hand spindle and some roving and spend some time learning to spin.

Okay, so other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play? Let's do them out of order:

Intention 3: This one never got off the ground--I knew darned well I wasn't going to schlep that spindle around with me.
Intention 2: No TyDy sock, no Malabrigo Sock. Passed up all the commercial yarn, no matter how pretty--only bought indie stuff. Whew! Passed that test (but I can't take credit for that in any way!)

Intention 3: I had a wonderful time schmoozing with lots of different folks and exploring some vendors I remembered or knew about. Missed a couple--I ran into someone I bought a wonderful pin from last year but never got back to her booth. Next year! And I even knitted a good bit. But mainly the point was not to buy a bunch of stuff and I did that, mostly. Here's what came home with me:
Well, you knew I'd come home with a pair of her earrings, didn't you? Everyone needs pumpkin earrings!
Sanguine Gryphon.
Her colors are gorgeous and this one jumped out at me, screaming, I can be a beautiful scarf--I'd love to give all that black you wear a little splash of color!
Brooks Farm Acero.
I knew if I came home with nothing else, it would be Brooks Farm, and Joyce didn't help. She was practically dragging me down the stairs toward their booth. (Okay, I didn't think you'd buy that it was her fault but I thought it was worth a try.) That stuff is simply awesome and you just don't see it everywhere--they only sell at shows (and maybe online, but with colors like this, I want to see and touch it). Several people begged them to come to Stitches South but there's some sort of a conflict and it doesn't look good. I would LOVE to see a fabulous indie producer like Brooks Farm at Stitches--wow!

The yarn is sitting on a great shawl pattern I bought at the same time. Very simple to show off the color changes and the fabulous texture. And the purple!!!!! Who could resist? I bought another pattern too, a modular shawl that looks a little like one of those old-fashioned granny square afghans your grandmother crocheted. Fabulous!

Knit Witch! We met Brittany and her husband at one of the Yarn Harlot events and I thought they were great. It was so much fun to find them in a booth at SAFF, showing off his ceramics and her hand-dyed yarns.

Finally, YarnMammaTwo. I've been thinking of this yarn since Debra and I saw it at SAFF last year. Three colors came home with me,

but I'm hoping one or two of my lace buddies will be as taken with them as I am. Colors are dark rose, tearose and pear! OMG!

Now, don't you agree that I was a very, very good girl? Thank you--I think so, too.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I Was So Darned Good!

I love SAFF. Debra and I had the best time last year at SAFF and I've been looking forward to repeating that experience for a year. But 2008 has been, as you may have heard me say 14,287 times, a tough year. Money is tight. I have very little leave from work. And money is tight.

So Debra and I cancelled our fun-filled, allout-yarn-extravaganza. It just wasn't the year for hotel rooms, meals out, stash-building. Heck, I haven't knit last year's loot! But in a moment of Zen, I took the middlepath, and took the bus up for the day with Elyse and Bill and the Only Ewe and Cotton Too folks. What a fun day, even if it did begin at o'dark-thirty!

Lots of old and new friends--Joyce and Jolie and Phyllis (and her beautiful granddaughter) and Cheryl and Jenny and Betty and Elaine and Brenda and Lois and Claudia and HockeyMom and Mary Ellen and ... I can't remember them all, but lots of folks I knew and more that I know better now. And, of course, everywhere I went I ran into folks that I know--how did this happen? How can I know so many knitters?

Forget's definitely not about me. Most of the people we met wanted to talk about Joyce's Noro Silk Garden sweater:

But even Joyce didn't have as many people petting her as did this little baby--a pygmy goat only four days old, one of triplets. Too cute! I would have stuffed him right into my knitting bag if I could have gotten away with it. The pugs would loved him and my neighbors are so over the pugs, they probably wouldn't have noticed!

Speaking of odd animals, the boys (Steve and Lou and Doug, et al.,) were all wearing matching hats, even Rob's beautiful son Michael.

No, that's not quite accurate. Michael's was pink and didn't have all the ... accroutements ... of the big boys's hats:

The male spinner from Charlotte sitting behind us was very pleasant to chat with but definitely not amused. He kept saying that their wives were probably embarrassed--probably not a big issue. That's Steve in the hat and his wife has a great sense of humor, even if she is a crocheter. Hey! We all know that some knitters have skeins and some have balls ... I guess we know now which is which.

Now, for some obligatory knitting content as they say on the Knitlist. No, not mine, silly! The lovely ladies below are Allen Butler of Numma Numma (Toasty sock yarn) fame and a friend who declines to be named because she swears she's in the Witness Protection Program. Fine, whatever, Melissa.

The shawl that Allen is wearing (sorry for the crappy exposure in the photo) is made from her own yarn in a color I'd dye for (a little fiber humor). The shawl itself is a pattern I started and never (of course!) completed called Mystic Light and was knit by Doug--sorry I don't have a picture of Doug in his sheep hat so he could be identified. Absolutely beautiful! (The shawl, not Doug.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Holiday Knitting--Bah Humbug!

Why is it that I never think about holiday knitting until mid-October, and then it's too late to start? What's the deal with that?

Once again, I'm behind the eight ball, wishing I had time to do something holiday-ish and knowing that I don't.

And the real truth is that I really hate the December holidays, which happen in my particular case, with no disrespect to other ethnic or religious preferences, to be Christmas. I'm okay with Thanksgiving and I actually really like Halloween but ... Christmas ... I really don't like it much.

Oh, I want to, but for me it's just one more occasion to be reminded that you just don't have enough money or time or money or money to meet your family's expectations. And you don't feel merry.... or at least I don't.

But I still believe and I want to like it. So, every year I start to think about how much fun Christmas was when my daughters were small and I think ... maybe this year will be different. Maybe this is the year I'll make everyone a knitted stocking. Maybe this is the year that everyone will get a festive pair of socks or a hat or some mitts. Maybe this is the year I'll feel ready when it's time to start decorating.

Then, on January 2, when Mr. Pug is putting the tree away, I realize ... nah, not this year either.

What got this really unproductive, unhappy thinking started? Well, as usual, it has to be with my incredibly dysfunctional family--my sister Debbie in particular. Does she hate the holidays? No, of course not. She loves them ... and why wouldn't she? She's good at holidays. Her house is always festively decorated, her tree is always perfect (and real!), and she never feels pressed about gifts.

So, this is her fault. Because she's making stockings. And I'm sure they're going to be lovely.

In fact, I know they are because I ordered the patterns too (see above). Aren't they cute? Wouldn't they be cute if someone could actually finish them?

Maybe next year. Along with my little tree of knitted tiny sweaters I've always wanted to make but never have.

Hmmmm....what if I made a tiny sweater each time I knit a pair of socks? Then at the end of the year, I'd have ... tiny sweaters for a tiny tree.

Good plan for next year.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oh, good God! Another List!

This is sort of an interesting list, though, from the Knit Geekery blog. It's a list of knitting tasks and the idea is to identify which ones you've done.

AfghanAmerican/English Knitting (vs. Continental knitting)-(--Yes, I'm a thrower and can't seem to learn Continental to save my life.

Baby Items--Yes, I made a ton when my own daughters were little, but have mostly missed my own grandchildren. Neither of my daughters are very high on "handmade," and this is intimidating. But I'm back knitting for babies (or, to be exact, for Ruby, the most beautiful grand-niece ever).

Bobbles--Yes, in my dim, dark past, but I'm hoping that this means I don't ever have to do another one. They're probably unavoidable if I really expect to make another Aran sweater, though.

Buttonholes--Yes, but not well. They always look sort of lumpy and stretched out.

Cable stitch patterns (including Aran)--Oh, my yes, In fact, husband #2 took his Aran sweater with him when he left--I guess some of you would take that as a compliment. I regarded it as a major betrayal. But I love cables anyway and sprinkle them wherever I can.

Cardigan--Yes, but not in years.

Charity knitting--Yes, especially for Children in Common and a few things for Afghans for Afghanistan.

Continental knitting--Nope, but not for lack of trying. For some reason, I can knit but can't master the purl. And my tension goes all wonky. I need to learn this.

Cuffs/fingerless mitts/arm warmers--Yes, loved those Petra mitts and still owe my daughters a pair each. I might even make myself a pair--they'd probably look great in sock yarn.

Darning--Never learned it. My mother had one of those wooden egg thingies and I think I was traumatized by it.

Designing knitted garments--Not unless you count socks. I'm a follower, not a leader.

Domino knitting (modular knitting)--Love this. See Diagonal Vest in progress.

Drop stitch patterns--Nope. Too scary, but I swear I'll try Clapotis this year or next.

Dyeing with plant dyes--No, no, no, never even considered it. Hush, Debra--I'm NOT going to do it.

Dyeing yarn--Ditto.

Entrelac--Yes. I like entrelac and want to make Ann Budd's Anntrelac socks next.

Fair Isle knitting--Never. Terrifies me.

Freeform knitting--No, not even a desire.

Fulling/felting--Yes, a bag or two. It always sounds like more fun than it turns out to be, what with having to knit that house-sized item and them swish it through hot water for hours.

Gloves--Years ago, but not lately.

Graffiti knitting (knitting items on, or to be left on the street)--Hell, no. If I knit it, it's going to someone who can use it, not into the trash. (I guess this is the fiber equivalent of bookcrossing. I think not.)

Hair accessories--Uh, no. Although if I could knit a handy-dandy root coverup device it might be worth it. Or a honkin' big flower to sit in the ... er, sparser ... places.

Hat--yes, dozens of them.

Holiday-related knitting--No, but I always think I'm going to make cool knitted stockings or maybe a little tree decorated with small knitted objects.

Household items (dishcloths, washcloths, tea cozies.....)--No. I don't get this whole trend. Hmmmmm....knit something out of nasty Sugar and Cream that tears the skin off your hands, then wash dishes with it? I think not. And Diet Pepsi doesn't need a cozy.

I-cord--Yes, and I like making it. It's the knitting equivalent of making those gimp necklaces we all made as kids.

Intarsia--Once, a Christmas tree sweater for Haley. Not since, although I really want to learn how to do it -- well, I mean.

(NOTE: omg, is this thing never going to end? Who knew there were so many things to do with two sticks and some string?)

Jewelry--No, except for a pair of earrings at a class last year, but I'm always tempted by patterns in books.

Kitchener stitch--Yes, but Kitchener stitch is the main reason I knit toe up these days. Kitchenering is the equivalent of eating bran--probably good for you but who cares?

Bind Off--This is a dumb one. You gotta have done this one.

Knit-on cast on--Yes, I love this method. It's great for lace.

Knitting a gift--Yeah, but I don't make a practice of it. Usually the recipient doesn't like it nearly as much as I do.

Knitting and purling backwards--Haven't learned it but I'd like to--it would make entrelac so much easier.

Knitting for a living--Nope! It would take all the pleasure out of it for me. I'm way too process oriented.

Knitting for pets--No. It's way too easy to get into putting costumes on pugs. I don't want to be tempted. But there might be a doggy Christmas stocking in my future ...

Knitting for preemies--Yes, last year when one of our guild members lost her grandchild. Sad but satisfying. It's absolutely amazing how small those little heads are!

Knitting in public--Well, duh! Who doesn't?

Knitting items for a wedding--Nope. See above. My daughters aren't really the knitted object types. Maybe a granddaughter?

Knitting socks--What else? Socks are my true love, especially for knitting in public.

Knitting to make money--Nah!

Lace patterns--Yes, though I'm currently on lacecation.

Longtail Cast On--Yes, this has been my staple for a long time any time I can use it. It gives a really nice strong edge.

OnMachine knitting--Tried it, bought the machine, hated it, gave the machine away. Good riddance.

Mittens: Cuff up--Yes, back in the dark ages of children.

Mittens: Top down--No, but it sounds really interesting. I guess you'd just start like a sock? And maybe make an afterthought thumb? Hmmmm...

Mitre squares--Love 'em! If I could come back as a knitting designer, I'd be Ginger Luters.

Moebius band knitting--Yes, under the evil influence of Cat Bordhi. (I wouldn't come back as Cat, unless I'd been under the influence of some mind-bending drug.)

Norwegian knitting--Nope. It looks interesting but ....

Participating in a Knit-a-long--Yes, the MS3 shawl. Loved that, but haven't been able to commit to another one yet.

Pillows--Nope. (Do needlepoint and crewel pillows back in the 70's count? I didn't think so.)

Publishing a knitting book--Wow! No, and I don't think I ever will, but wow!

Purses/bags--Yes, a couple. And then there's the Noro Kureyon cabled bag that's hopelessly tangled in one of my knitting bags.

Rug--Nope. No desire to put all that work into something I'm going to walk on. And I'm certainly not letting anyone else walk on my knitting.

Scarf--Well, yeah, over the years, quite a few.

Shawl--Yes, though I'm not a shawl wearer. But they make great conversation pieces.

Short rows--Yes, though it's taken me awhile to get my head around them. I'm perfecting my own version of the short row heel for my toe ups.

--Well, no boleros for this body. A poncho or two for daughters and grandchildren (best forgotten). And I have a shrug pattern coming in the mail--do you think Haley will wear it? No bets.

Slip stitch patterns--Sock heels only.

Slippers--Always wanted to make one of those felted slippers but never finished one.

Socks: toe up / Socks: top down--Helloooooo. Yes!

Steeks--Not in this lifetime, or at least not without strong drink and/or drugs.

Stockinette stitch--Oh, really! But for the record, yes.

Stuffed toys--No. Tried that hedgehog and lost track of the short rows. I need to tear it out and start over--it was really a cute pattern!

Swatching--As little as I can get away with.

Sweater--Yes, but not in many years. Takes a lot of yarn to cover this bod!

Teaching a child to knit--Nope. No patience. I've tried but ... no.

Teaching a male to knit--No male of my acquaintance has ever wanted to learn, but I would if asked.

Textured knitting--Certainly.

Thrummed knitting--Nope. Sounds warm, really warm. Makes my hands itch thinking about it.

Tubular Cast On--Yes, but now that I think of it, I'm not sure I remember how.

Twisted stitch patterns--Yes. Love this for socks.

Two ended knitting--What does this mean? Knitting both ends of something from a provisional cast on? In that case, yes. If not, no.

Writing a pattern--Yes, socks for Children in Common. It's surprisingly time-consuming.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Well, Opal doesn't call it that. Opal calls it "Lilly das Schleckermaul." But to me, it looks like nothing more than a big pile of blue cheese. Needless to say, I love it. There's very little in life that couldn't be improved with a little blue cheese. (Wonder if Schleckermaul is German for Gorgonzola?)

You have to love a yarn to tear out an almost-complete sock and reknit it. That's what I did with this sock.

I started it a couple of weeks ago and have had little time to knit on it--even with my trip out of town. But it was progressing nicely and I was loving it.

Of course, the beauty of sockknitting is that you can try it on as you go, making changes and adjustments. And I've had this one on my foot several times and each time I've thought, "well, just like I like them--snug." I like my socks on the snug side because I like to wear clogs and if the sock is loosey-goosey, the clog doesn't fit. And you can forget getting a sock into any of my shoes with a back, like a walking shoe.

Until the time ... I thought, "oh, my...that heel feels really snug." So I switched to a larger (size 2) needle for the cuff and that helped a little.

But reality reared her ugly head and I realized that snug had become ... tight. Boa constrictor tight. My baby toe was squealing wee wee wee, all the way home. This probably means that my blood pressure medicine isn't working (and you might ask how a medicine that costs $40 a month and doesn't have a generic equivalent can NOT be working, but that's a subject for another day). Anyway, I realized that I was going to hate wearing the sock, even if it did look like my favorite smelly cheese.

So, out it came. And here it is again, same size needle (1) but 4 more stitches, 68 instead of 64.
Knitting--definitely not an exact science. Thank God I'm a process knitter.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

While I Was Out ...

For several months, we've had a tree in the backyard that has been exhibiting signs of ... well, let's be honest, it hasn't exhibited anything. It's been dead. As the proverbial doornail.

And I haven't wanted to admit it, because it used to be a focal point of the yard, the tallest oak at the top of the hill, a giant among lesser trees. But, ever the queen of denial, I kept thinking that maybe it would leaf back up--I loved that tree, and surely I could keep it alive with the power of my love. Nope.

So we got a price to take it down. Now, you may remember that I am opposed to the term "put down" when applied to a pet. You put down an empty soda bottle, or maybe a pesky heroin addiction, not your friend. But when it comes to trees, you gotta put 'em down. In this case, "down" is preferable to "on the roof" or "in your bedroom," but it also implies that you don't tear your fence up while you're doing it.

It turns out that this is an expensive sort of a job. We got a couple of estimates, ranging from $850 to $1200. To put that in terms that you might understand, $850 (the low end) is approximately 34 skeins of sock yarn. See? I knew you'd be appalled. (Let's not even go in the other direction and compute what my sock yarn stash must have cost me using those calculations--it wouldn't be pretty!)

So, while it's been on my list of "things to do," it hasn't been high. After all, the deductible if it DID fall on the house would be $500, and the cost to avoid the deductible would be $ do the math.

Anyway, while I was out of town (Macon, for a class), Mr. Pug and I talked about it on the phone and agreed that we'd handle it after the first of the year, or when our investments come back out of the swamp, or after one of us hits the lottery. So imagine my surprise to be shown ... the stump above. It's gone. I've been out in the backyard 10 or 15 times since I returned and ... never noticed the tree was gone. Mr. Pug got tired of waiting for me to figure out how to do it and did it. Men! Way to make a complicated issue simple.

But back to me, since it's (still) all about me. How could I not notice something like that? And the answer is ... that tree was dead to me. I was over it. It had gone from being a love object to ... a yarn money sucking machine.

Anyone notice a parallel between a dead tree and a certain Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn? Yup! Both dead to me.

Saturday, October 04, 2008


Oh, if only divorce was that easy. In my experience, and sadly I have a lot, splitting from a mate is painful, expensive, and lengthy. Professionals like lawyers and judges and sometimes psychiatrists and the IRS are required.

Not this time, baby! At Whit's house last night a group of professionals (the XRX guys Benjamin and Rick) and almost-professionals (everyone else) looked at the Sock Who (Didn't) Love Me and the consensus was clear--cut him loose. Sometimes you just can't make someone over into the person you want him to be--or the person he should want to be. Sometimes it's just hopeless.

Okay, it's over. I get it, but now what?

"I want it," said Jolie.

What? Is the crazy? A glutton for punishment? Or does she just think she's more woman than I am?

Who cares? I ripped that bad boy off the circular needle and stuffed it into her hands. As she took it, I swear I heard angels singing.

He's gone. Whew! And as long as I don't have to take weepy phone calls at 3 am from his new girlfriend, things will be fine. Let's face it--even if I do have to take those calls, my life is still better. Did he come home drunk? Have knots in the middle of a color run? I don't care!

God speed!

And, don't judge me--I'm not really a slut, I just have a short attention span--here's the new guy on the needles. Opal.

I cast Opal on last night and I'm already in love, with none of those fluttery feelings in the colon that tell you you've just made another mistake. This is a proven commodity--this time it's really love!

Finally, let's update the recent knitting:

First, the Austermann Step socks, toe up on size 2s. The pattern is my own version of Ann Budd's method. For me, of course. Finished last week. Cozy, comfortable. This has been my carry-in-the-car project and it's been the perfect project to pick up, put down, with no possibility of error.

Next, Emma's socks, made of Skacel Trampoline on 1s, toe up, same pattern but with a 1X1 rib. Finished last week some time.

And, last but not least, Kerrigan's socks, OTN as we speak, made to match Emma's since they have feet just about the same size.

Life is good again.