Sunday, December 16, 2007

Of Prizes and Surprises, and Serpentines and Socks

First of all, I won a prize! Now I never win prizes, even when I buy twenty lottery tickets and should really have a good shot, so this was a delightful surprise. Bea of Baa Baa Blacksheep decided to have a contest and hand out some yarn, so she asked her readers to guess the weight of Gus the bulldog at 5 months. Well just how much can a baby bulldog weigh? More than you think. I was one of the clever folk who guessed 43 pounds. And the photo below shows Gus choosing the winners, just how fair can you be??? Well, Gus picked me! Smart dog. Cute dog. He likes to be told he's cute. He totally wiggles with joy when he hears how cute he is. I am smitten with Gus. Just look at those muscles. In the back and forth of how to handle receiving this prize, it turns out Bea is almost a neighbor. And Bea was bemoaning not having a knitting group nearby, so Bea came to join our group and brought my winnings. Now I was expecting a skein of yarn, and had high hopes it was reddish. This was the prize..... I was speechless it was so much more than I expected. A lovely little herringbone bag, just bursting with reddish yarn (yay!), handmade stitch markers, appropriate DPNs, Eucalan and yarn bras. The presentation was wonderful. Here's another shot of the inside of the bag. Coordinating fabrics and pockets and the construction is perfection. And best of all, Bea made it. As well as the lovely stitch markers. Check out her blog, I think she is selling some.
As for this week's project starts, we needs us some fingerless mitts. Our hands are freezing at the keyboard, thanks to the ceiling fan overhead which cannot be turned off. Don't ask. Faulty wire job. So grabbed some of my Wollmeise stash, Kurbis to be exact, and that nice little cabled pattern Serpentine by Miriam Felton and cast on these:
Now it is really quite unbelievable, but Micki happened to cast on a pair the same night, and we had never, ever discussed the pattern at all. Great minds and all that. Of course she is almost finished by now. I however left mine at a friend's house and didn't recuperate the project for a couple of days, so logically, rather than working on one of the other WIPs, grabbed another skein of Wollmeise out of the stash and cast on a second pair in Brombeere. Which would have been much further along if I hadn't somehow turned it around and knit backwards for 15 rows. It left only a tiny tweak in a rib, but I knew it would drive me bonkers, so a froggin' we did go.
Now speaking of surprised, Jo of Celtic Memory sent a little package, a stuffed little package, from Ireland with these treasures. A fab green sock yarn with a coppery ply in it which should make a tweedy sock. And two sample skeins of some frothy merino. Jo is thinking of making kimonos of the froth since they would be wonderfully lightweight. Will have to swatch those up and see what they want to be when they grow up. The green is really much nicer than the photo and the froths are cinnamon and coppery, no idea what was happening with the light in these photos. BTW, Jo just went to Lapland to visit Santa (and Lene) and I'm wondering what she asked Santa to bring her. Knowing Jo, she sat on his lap and read out her list. Bet yarn was on it for sure.
Here is a slightly better shot of the interesting green goodness.
And I haven't forgotten my November Sockdown pair, Eleanor by Gigi Silva in Teyani's Sock Hop color, Big Yellow Taxi. This is my second pair done in Sock Hop and I have had plenty of yarn each time to knit a generous sock. And they have washed and worn well, so I'm a declared fan. And this particular pair will be visible for miles!
Now for the other surprises. The Sisters of the Wool held their first annual Holiday Sock Yarn Exchange "free for all" at Rebecca's house. Yummy food was on hand (amazing microwave peanut brittle for one), with extras brought by many. And then we had a "Chinese" present swap, where you can choose to open a present or steal one from someone else, which keeps going in a round robin, until everyone has used up all their turns. After three steals, the object "locks" with the last thief and is no longer available. This was my first experience with the game. At first everyone just demurely opened another present on their turn, and some lovely sock yarn made appearance. Then someone started stealing and all H*** broke loose. I did manage to shamelessly steal a lovely skein of Fearless Fibers, complete with an Acorn Sock pattern by Knitspot that Angele had brought.
And then I did another swap with Micki for this beautiful skein of the tweeded Madeleine Tosh. Both skeins have great yardage for my big feet.
There was a terrific purplish tweedy skein by Bea Binney, the YarnPig, but someone (no names here, but definitely not kosher) hid it when I was making my final steal and I forgot to swipe it. It was gorgeous. Oh wow, I just checked out her Etsy shop to link this and she has the bags and yarns and stitch markers over there. She has skull patterned bags, and tweed bags and tweedy sock yarns. Fantastic. The girl's got talent.
My posting will be sporadic in the near future as my son is very ill. I will catch up whenever I can as it is good therapy to knit and talk about knitting. Thank everyone who has sent such kind words and thoughts our way.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Three Cheers!!!

Found myself suddenly quite annoyed by all the almost finished socks in my basket, so dropped the ones I was working on and added the final touches to the following:My favorite and most successful socks to date
Brigit by Gigi Silva
Wollmeise in RakuRegenbogen
2,50mm & 2,25mm

Also very nice socks. Haven't worn them yet so can't be sure of the "droop" problem, but for now, they fit great and the yarn is lovely and cushy and they are fun.

Bellatrix by Gigi Silva

Monarch Fly Dye in Hott

2,50mm & 2,25mm And still another pair, this time toe up and they came out too long in the foot. I still haven't made toe up work for me. I am aware that many of you would knit your socks no other way, but the vote is still out for me. Although I do plan to work on it, perhaps with Firestarter or the Boyfriend Socks. If I knew mid sole how tall I needed to make the heel of that particular pattern for my arch, it might be possible to accurately calculate the increases.

Baudelaire by CookieA

STR midweight in a Rare Gems colorway with the cuffs knitted in Mustang Sally lightweight since I ran out of yarn.

2,25mm & 2,50mm

Now for a pictorial explanation of why I need more yardage in my sock yarns. The blue sock is Rebecca's, knit for herself, and yes, she is a grown woman. Red sock is my size 10 Bellatrix. Duh! Now I know I knit tight and I don't like to use larger needles and I have to deepen the heel and gusset to accommodate a freakishly high arch, but still, my foot is reasonably normal. This was just amazing to me to see the literal difference in volumne. Thanks to Bea for the photo.

And since I'm always whinging to Jo about running out of sock yarn and needing more yardage, she pointed me to Knitivity, where Ray's yardage is more generous, and he even sells cones of some of the stuff. Well worth a visit. I liked Etouffé and Jambalaya, but there are lots and lots of blues for those of you blue lovers. Jo of course picked those. Ray started dyeing yarns professionally when he was chased out of New Orleans by Katrina and started a new life in Houston.

Submitted my October Sockdown, the Brigits, and am knitting away on my Novembers, using Gigi Silva (again) for a homegrown designer with Eleanor done in Sock Hop's Big Yellow Taxi. Increased from 60 to 66 stitches by adding a stitch to each motif. But knitted on 2.25s in the handspun, they are quite snug. Will show them off next time, hopefully finished.

I'm beginning to burn out a bit on all the socks. Well, I say that, but although the passion may be waning, the obsession isn't. It seems if there is a choice to pick up a large project or a sock, the sock always wins. If you count stitches, I could probably knit a sweater in the same time as a pair of socks. Does this make sense? And those of you with high arches will understand the difficulty of shoving a handknit sock clad foot into any pair of shoes on the market. Sort of like Cinderella's stepsisters must have felt with that glass slipper. My only choice is sandals with an adjustable strap, let out to the max. So why am I churning out those exquisite little socklets in a veritable assembly line? Beats me, but I can't stop.

This cold rainy week-end inspired me to clean out one of my closets, well, at least the summer shoes. The ones that have been breeding in the dark recesses of my closet for years, since my foot was a size smaller. I threw out as many as I kept and still the closet is crowded. Memo to more shoes for ten years. Although most of these are at least five years old. Since I am not hard on my shoes, they never die a natural death, which leaves me to make the decision to euthanise them at some point and until then, they are shoved to the back of the stacks. Where they reproduce. Ran out of steam before I got to the winter shoes.

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving. We certainly did. And I had a long list of things to be thankful for. I've decided to start every day by thinking of one of them and saying a quiet word of appreciation to the powers that be.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Kid n Ewe and Llamas, Too

Finally, a report from the fiber festival in Boerne (pronounced Berney) last week-end. Susan and I took off in her VW bug late Thursday down the back roads to the Hill Country. A pleasant several hours drive. We were the first ones there when they opened on Friday so we got to see the offerings before they were decimated. Knitting Fairy was there, and we met M2Dragons from Ravelry, as well as at Lone Star Arts, who made us Ravelry badges to wear. Hockett Would Works was there, and he gave me a commemorative spindle to add the the others of his I've collected. It is slightly heavier, so is a welcome addition. But he didn't have any knitty noddies or darning eggs that were on my "need" list.

Our mission was a cash only budget, to limit our collecting, and to try to find treasures we couldn't buy just anywhere. Well, one of our big finds was this lovely selection from Plain and Fancy. Organically home grown merino, spun in the region, dyed by the lady of the farm who has a marvelous sense of color. It has a homespun look, too. The decisions were hard because there were at least 20 colors each that we had to choose between. I ended up with a strange grey for a Wool Peddler's Shawl.
And then there was Brooks Farm. This is only perhaps a tenth of what they were showing. It was amazing. And quickly swamped with buyers grabbing. Sherry and Dena were delightful as always. And Randall was there too. Needless to say, I couldn't resist a few skeins of Mas Acero for a sweater in a goldish brown.

These friendly and well behaved alpacas were making the rounds of the halls.
Lorelei of Heritage Arts was there, wondering how long she could survive eating beans so she could afford this fantastic wheel crafted by Bill Wyatt. The Legacy, made from timbers which had lain at the bottom of the Great Lakes for 200 years. Note, she is barefoot as usual.
And there was a large display of JoJoLand's yarns. With lovely Lijua, the young woman from Northern China who is behind it all. She imports, sells, designs lots and lots of lacy things, and knits all the samples. OK, I'm impressed.
And here is Susan, checking out the cashmere.
Bill Wyatt demonstrated the Great Wheel for me. Utterly fascinating. It's the one they call the walking wheel. There were bunnies, really cute bunnies.
And goats...
After all this excitement, roughly six hours on our feet, we headed out for dinner at the Dodging Duck Brewhouse down the river road. A perfect recommendation. Then back down the road home to our lodgings, where we found a secret hot tub in the dark, immediately stuck our very sore feet in, and both managed to slip and get totally soaked fully clothed. Me much worse than Susan, who was laughing like a hyena while I shivered as I realized that nothing I was wearing would be dried out by the following morning.
We stayed in the most delightful B&B in Comfort, owned by Sandy whose gourmet breakfasts were amazing. She loves to cook. The place had plenty of wildlife...
This charming little object is to hold bits of yarn for the birds to grab for their nests.
And a porch cat who guarded our door.
We looked at typical houses and shops in Comfort and Fredericksburg.
Check out the sculptured birds on the roof. Way cool.
I've always loved the courthouse in Llano.
And this, gentle readers, is a yarn glutton, overcome with yarn fumes at Brooks Farm, on her bottom on the very dusty floor, balancing the merits of different colorways.
Lorelei said that if we were returning home by the back roads, we had to stop in Hico for chocolate, better than Godiva. Now that seemed strange... a chocolate factory in tiny little Hico. But since Lorelei is German, I had to think she might know what she was talking about. Well, she did. Wiseman House Fine Handmade Chocolates, the most elegant old house, all very fancy and full of wonderful chocolates. It would hold its own next to any European chocolate emporium. Texas never ceases to surprise me.
Thanks to Susan for some of her photos!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

A Literary Meme and a sock, a single sock

I don't often do the meme thing, but Di of ClementinesShoes had such an odd one that I couldn't resist.

So here goes. The rules: Open the book you're currently reading on page 161 and read the fifth sentence on the page, then think of 5 bloggers to tag. Well, would five of you please auto-tag? My results:

Le gros grec d'Odessa, le juif de Varsovie,

Le jeune lieutenant, le général âgé,

Tous ils cherchaient en elle un peu de folle vie,

Et sur son sein rêvait leur amour passager.

Well, that poem is the fifth sentence, but since not everyone will appreciate it, I will give you the sixth one:

"Finally there had been one "real" poet, Mother's cousin, Prince Volkhovskoy, who had published on velvety paper an exquisitely printed, thick, expensive volume of languorous poems Auroras and Stars, all in Italian viny vignettes, with a portrait photograph of the author in the front and a monstrous list of misprints at the back."

Hints: It is non-fiction. The author loves to write very long sentences. One of my gentle readers may perhaps guess, since she recently returned the book and I am re-reading it after years' absence. This is one of my very favorite authors.
And now for the obligatory knitting content, I present a sock, a single sock, with which I am very happy. Sock the second is underway and I hope to have the pair completed for the October Sockdown on Ravelry. They allow you until the end of November, but have already posted a mystery sock for November which looks downright interesting. The mystery sock for October was Sheherazade, which is absolutely gorgeous, and has planted itself firmly in my queue.

Brigit knit in Wollmeise.

Monday, October 29, 2007

A Horror Story fit for All Hallow's Eve

In all the excitement the cooler weather brings (as in Yay! I can wear handknit socks) I pulled out my never worn pair of STR Monkey Socks the other day and pulled them on. Some time later, I looked down to admire my socks. Lo and behold, a large hole in the middle of the top of the instep!!! Of course, I took them off immediately and examined them, and yes, it was really a large hole where the yarn had snapped. I thought of reknitting the hole, but they had already taken every inch of the yarn, and then some. All options were eliminated one by one, except frogging back to mid-gusset and reknitting the foot. Deep breath, frog, frog, sigh!

So distraught was I, that I must have knitted like a fiend to repair this. Since in one day, it is reknitted and kitchenered and ready to go again. All's well that ends well. Still no clue as to what happened in the first place.

And here is a progress report on the Acorn Socks! And yes, all those seven stitches into one make perfect little three-dimensional acorns. I have photographed these in almost every light, and the photos just don't want to show how lovely those acorns are. Except when it totally changes the color of the yarn.

And this is where Miss Poppy lives most of the time. Helping me type. Aiding my deadlines. Yeah, right!

Friday, October 19, 2007

What a difference a buttonhole makes

Witness the buttonholes on the Mason Dixon Baby Bib o'Loves I knitted up for my friend's new little one soon to come. Buttonhole on left is following their instructions, the typical bound off buttonhole, reworked three times and this was my best effort. I thought it quite sloppy, so I looked for my little Lucy Neatby booklet, Taking the Checquered Flag. And there was this neat buttonhole instruction that worked to a T in the yellow cotton yarn. She calls it a one row buttonhole, or somesuch, but isn't it a huge improvement? BTW, I frogged the one on the left and redid it.
And here are the bibs. Photo color is not good, but they are sweet little things. Someone said on their blog that they take about eight hours each and I don't think that timing is far off.
And here is a quick peek at my acorn socks. They have grown to several more motifs by now. Had my hair worked on today as well as a pedicure, and knitted along on them straight through.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Acorns of all sorts

Just a little more progress on the Wollmeise Brigit sock. Needs a toe and I can start on sock number two. Plenty of yarn for once. And the designer, Gigi Silva of Socktopia, also designed Bellatrix, Fawkes and Nagini, amongst many other lovelies. I am very, very happy with this sock.
Actually, I set Brigit aside, as well as Bellatrix, to test knit the Acorn Sock for Anne Hanson of Knitspot. As most of you know, I am a huge fan of Anne's designs. They are beautiful, creative, and very well written. I was thrilled on Friday when she asked me if I wanted to test run the new pattern. There was a concert I had to attend, but I begged off early and ran home to go through the stash and choose a yarn and get started. I managed to complete the ribbing and the complete first repeat of the acorn pattern. If you are looking for a bit of a challenge, this might be the pattern. Ever tried knitting seven times in one stitch on size 1 needles? I'm here to tell you, it can be done. I'm actually fascinated as Anne has thrown in a decrease I've never done before. I'm not totally convinced with the yarn I chose. I picked it for it's fall colors, but I'm hoping it won't detract from those acorns. I used the custom dyed Some Assembly Required I received recently, in the normal sock weight wool.
Pictures next time, as I'm just not far enough along to show off, but you can see the master sock on Anne's blog.
Then I had to set the Acorns aside to knit some baby things. A friend in her mid-forties decided she wanted a baby before it was too late. She had a pact with an old friend that if she hadn't married and had a baby by the time she was forty, he would help with a test tube donation and play an active role in the baby's life. Well, a baby girl is arriving next month, everyone healthy and very, very excited. I thought that baby really deserves some hand-knitted love, so I'm knitting baby things for a few days. This child will be showered with love.
Here is a sweater I've never photographed and shown before, although I've worn it several times. Loosely based on Oat Couture's Silverlake Shirt, I made several modifications. It is knit in Softball cotton from Lotus Blossom on eBay. Just a comfy, cozy tunic sweater for our spring and fall weather.

Speaking of weather, that rain they've been promising for weeks finally showed up last night. A downpour with strong winds. Loved it. And this is the time of year that my house is bombarded around the clock for weeks on end by falling acorns (see Anne, how appropriate that I knit the Acorn sock) from the three huge oak trees that shade my house. Guests who don't know what it is are quite disturbed until I explain.

Monday, October 8, 2007

A picture is worth a 1000 words...

And if I post two pictures??? I've been so busy, there is just not time to blog, so with these, you have a progress report.
Wollmeise Sock, Brigit, love, love.

And the Great Yarns Kimono. About halfway and I'm going to run out of the main yarn, so calculating how to add a few rows in the accent yarns so as not to have to order more.

Sigh, neither of these is as red as the photos and I promise I do not always knit with red!

Monday, October 1, 2007

And more champagne, please!

Drum roll, please! Finished up still another pair of socks. Monkeys this time. They were sitting waiting for a complementary yarn to finish up the toes and a bit of cuff. Both of these colors are Socks that Rock Rare Gems. I tried about five colors, and frogged all five until I threw this one into the mix and I like it. There are absolutely no colors in common in the two skeins, which somehow made it work better. This running short of yarn on a regular basis is really affecting my knitting mojo. The socks are put aside waiting for another yarn to add in, and then they languish in their basket for far too long. I can live with the size 10s, but it does drive me crazy when knitting socks.
CookieA's Monkey from
Blue Moon Socks That Rock lightweight
Size 2.5 and 2.25 needles
Added 1 stitch to each side of the stitch pattern to bring the count up to 72 and then knit it tightly. Worked fine.
I love this pattern. I could happily knit all Monkeys, all the time.
Well, I was feeling so smug at finishing still another pair of socks out of the WIPs, that I allowed myself to cake up some Wollmeise and start a new pair. I had researched and actually bought several patterns to find something worthy of my Wollmeise, and ended up tripping over Momma Monkey's Brigit at the last minute, and just picked up the needles and started. Oooooh, I love this yarn, and the colors just glow. Quite a bit further along now and love both pattern and yarn. I love STR yarns and have used them a lot since I love Tina's color sense and yarn quality, but always run out of yarn before finishing due to tight knitting and big feet. Well, with something like 580 yards per skein, I don't anticipate that problem with Wollmeise.
And this, dear friends, is sheer yarn gluttony (and I know you all understand the syndrome). This is beautiful Brooks Farm Fourplay, Acero and Mas Acero. The Bookgrump from the Sisters talked the Brooks Farm ladies, Sherri and Dena, into visiting our weekly knitting group. They brought along Alissa, the Knitting Fairy, with some of her patterns knitted up to show off. They had planned to come for a show and tell, but we had been saving our lunch money up to do some damage and we managed to convince them to come prepared. Well friends, it was a bit of a free for all, everyone clutching yarn to their chests. I was standing near a basked, pulling out the skeins I liked and putting them down on the table hidden under the basket's edge between all the baskets. TxKnitter was across the table from me and kept pulling up skeins of yarn and oohing and aahing. It took some minutes to realize that she was pulling out my hidden skeins, thinking they had just spilled out of the baskets. Hilarious. It was a treat to finally see these yarns in person and they are much more beautiful than you can tell from their website. I came, I saw, I stashed!!! Plans for everything. Socks and scarves and shawls so far. Think I see another Clapotis in there. And one of KnitSpot's beautiful shawls.

The last two weeks have been a complete fiber overdose. Dyeing at Heritage Arts, receiving our much awaited orders from Some Assembly Required and then Brooks Farm coming to visit. Not to mention I'm still waiting for a couple of Sock Hop goodies from Teyani at Crown Mountain Farms. And am dyeing to order some more Wollmeise soon. Whew, I'm already calculating my Christmas checks and allocating them to yarn purchases. Must knit from stash, must knit from stash, must knit from stash. Repeat that 10,000 times. So why am I making plans to vist the Kid and Ewe Fiber Fest in Boerne? Just because it's in the beautiful Hill Country? Just because Brooks Farm will be there? Sure, right. CelticMemory, do you see what you are missing? Over in cool, green Ireland knitting away on 99 projects at a time? Chasing the elusive vest? When you could be revelling in the heat, adding to your stash???

Monday, September 24, 2007

Fireworks and champagne, please!

And what are we celebrating? Just look at this, two finished objects!!!
First we have the June installment of the Rockin' Sock Club, Solstice Slip Socks in the colorway Firebird. I ran out of yarn not once, but twice. Wendy and Sheryl came to my rescue, both from Virginia. And LBinVA also offered. Those Virginians are surely nice folks with small feet and I send huge thank yous their way.

Speaking of Socks that Rock, have you seen all the new colorways on their website? Downright exciting and inspiring and I'm going to cut up my credit cards before I do some major damage. My all time favorite Moss Agate is back, but then there are the chickens...lots of chickens. Gorgeous chickens. And Pond Scum and Froggy and Gingerbread Dude and...yup, I could go on and on. Go check them out. The second item for celebrating is this, the Flame Wave Sock by Ann Budd from Favorite Socks. Knitted in Elann Esprit, a dead ringer for the specified Fixation. OK, to be honest, all they needed was kitchenering those toes, but it's done. Finito. Basta.

Two more projects are in the final throes of completion, but for that I'll wait until next time.
And this was the week-end that the Sisters had a special dyeing day at Heritage Arts with Lorelei. So it was back to Beaumont Ranch, where we were greeted by the wrought iron trees that line the entrance, and lots and lots of pumpkins. They are really getting ready for Halloween.There was the sheriff and his prisoner...
Rocking Horse Dude, whose hat had blown off and was way down the field. I felt obligated to find it and restore it to his pumpkin head before taking his picture.
Perhaps my favorite was the Cook with the crow on his head.
And this very bowlegged cowboy with his pumpkin head baby in the stroller. There were many more examples, including a bride and groom pumpkin head couple at the entrance, but by the time I wen to take their picture, the bride had blown over and was bottoms up. As if she had over-imbibed and made a fool of herself.The sisters were lining the street, intensely concentrated on their work.
Our dyestuffs resembled weird party drinks.
Taya was here from El Paso. It was so good to see her after a very long time.
Micki creating another masterpiece.Julia and Aisling actually looked up for a moment. Julia had planned her strategy down to making a graph for color placement based on the measurement of her feet and her stitch counts. I think that plan flew out the window pretty fast. I loved her yarn, but I think it went home for an overdye.
Rebecca and Knitstress Mary totally absorbed in their projects, did not look up.
And here we have Spider Guy, who supervised the lot. The heat was oppresive, and when we had had quite enough, we headed into the chapel to knit (what else) in the cool air.
And what is this beside the church?
Mary, Micki, Wendy and Susan were quiet as the proverbial churchmice in the light streaming through the stained glass windows. I don't think I got a photo of Grace, but The Grump was there alright. And Julia's sister Jeannie. And Carrie. And some young girls who were there from Colorado for a wedding and bored out of their gourds. They did some first time dyeing which turned out quite beautifully.
And here is the first of four batches to make it through the heat process. We were all a bit heat processed, too.
I'll close with some yarny goodness. Here are my "creations" that Grace so kindly organized with dyer Beth from Some Assembly Required. Thanks Grace. And Beth. Nice job. Some are wool and some are Merino/Tencel. There were something like 35 skeins to admire for the group.