Thursday, June 28, 2007

Socks just a rollin' along

It just keeps raining! The amazing thing is that Canadian friends are talking about the roasting 100+ temperatures, while Texas is in the lower 80s and nonstop rain. Who turned the world upside down?? The Tuesday night meeting of the Sisters of the Wool had scarce attendance. Just before we meet, the heavens had opened and the rain came down so fast, there was lots of flooding and streets blocked. Some of our most die-hard knitters didn't come. I mean we've knitted through tornadoes in the bathroom at Starbucks before, no sissies here! So they asked for a rain check meeting and we are having an extra on Sunday. It's always fun if I can get away from the family.

So instead of activities in the great outdoors (where we would be drowned or hunted by mega mosquitoes), knitting is looking like a good activity. First, a lovely little flash of a colorway that Tina, the color wizard, just dyed up over at Blue Moon. Metamorphic was my pseudonym at Sock Camp, and let me tell you this colorway knits up beautifully. I had asked about its availability and Tina made sure I got enough from the next batch to make any old sock pattern I wanted to! Luxe! She had some other new colorways on the site that I am already studying.
Here is progress on the Solstice Slips, the June installment of Rockin' Sock Club. As you can see, those alarming rectangular pools finally started to spiral, no needle or stitch change, just relentless tugging.
And here is the reverse side of the leg. I am liking this stitch pattern, although I will have to change everything else on them, different heel, probably add some sort of ribbing. It is very stretchy and solid, knitted on Addi 1s in lightweight STR. I'm taking a brief breather before starting a flap heel here, in order to knit on these...Sock Hop Handspun in Wild Thing colorway. Bless Teyani who said that if I ran short, they could scrounge some short skeins to finish things up. Teyani, I can't tell you how that eased my mind. Thank you.
I'm really liking these. The pattern is from IKs Favorite Socks and it is the Undulating Rib sock. So far, it's doing all the right things. Knitting on Addi 1s, but as soon as I can get it over my arch, I will go down to 1s or 0s to give a firm fabric for the foot.

There are a couple of other stash yarns tempting me, but I have no more needles for the moment, they are all busy. Now, I can either finish me some socks, or order me some needles. Hmmmmm.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Pooling from Hell

Talk about a high...

It's been very busy around here, but...take a look at this weird flower I have nurtured for years. Know what it is???? Datura. Evidently you can get quite high from any part of this plant, but it's not easily controlled and could be fatal. Not being into hallucenogenics, we just admire it around here. It only has a few of these huge hanging flowers each year. They start off quite pink. In a day or two they become yellow, and after that they are white. Then they fall off and we just see greenery until the following year. This photo was taken in the dark of night with no flash. See the light streaming out of the windows in the back? Quite odd, this glow in the dark effect.

There is a new poll on this morning about favorite pastimes. Unbelievably, they included knitting as one of the choices. Knitters...go vote. We're not in the top 10 yet.
It's quick and easy. Represent!!!! Have your husband, your dogs, your children, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker vote for knitting.
Can we tell them how much we would like TV knitting programs at our level? One hour programs with intelligent and talented knitters. No Knitsters, no silly skits, just knitting. That other program tries way too hard. But whenever the one about the steering wheel cozies and the computer cozies comes up, I run for the hills. Can't push delete fast enough. And I've calculated that after removing the commercials and the really silly stuff they do on that show, you are left with 7 minutes or less of Cat Bordhi, or the Yarn Harlot, or CookieA, or Iris Schreier. It's absurd! What a waste. As long as I am on my soapbox, we should write to our stations.
And here is the third installment of the Rocking Sock Club 2007. A slipped stitch cable pattern in a gorgeous colorway by that genius Tina!!! Firebird. I actually dove straight in and cast this one on. I feel quite guilty that I haven't yet finished the other two, but had real issues with patterns and yarn shortage. And after all, The Summer of Socks just started with the Solstice, so these will be an appropriate first pair.
Those of you who know me know I love pooling, and spiraling and other serendipitous effects. But here may I present the "pooling from Hell". The sort which brings even me to near tears and utter disgust. Almost 3" long rectangular pools, pale pink on one side and orange on the other, that have only now, with lots of tugging and yanking, started back into a spiral. I hope. You are seeing a grey temp cast on at the top. If I have enough yarn at the end, I'll knit a tad of ribbing.
I'm hoping you won't see much of this under slacks or somesuch. Cause I'm not frogging now. This represents a lot of work! I used the medium cast on with Addi 1s. Will go down to 2.25mm as soon as I can get it over my arches.

So knit those socks, represent and just generally kick ass!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Reveling on Ravelry in the Rains

We have been suffering the deluge in North Texas lately. Last night and this morning were quite unbelievable. You hear torrents hit the shingles and seconds later the gutters are overflowing. But please don't misunderstand, I love the rain. And in our area, you are thankful for every drop that falls since we look forward to summers with months and months of no rain and water rationing. This was tonight's sunset from the front steps.

My invitation to Ravelry finally arrived last week and only now have I had time to check it out. Oh my my my my, it is the ultimate Black Hole. Once you start playing with it, you go on and on and on until you realize hours have passed and you haven't finished your work for the evening and the animals aren't fed and the dishes aren't washed and you haven't wound those two skeins of yarn you will need for knitting tonight with the Sisters of the Wool. Not to mention you haven't knitted a stitch and it is past time for bed. And you are worried that you are about to exceed your free photo limit at Flickr! Never mind, it is wonderful. It references and cross references everything that interests you. It will inspire and organize and with luck help to sort out the stash. I hope all of you are in soon. Many thanks to the Freckled Girl and Casey for their genius idea and hard work. Oh, and photogenic Bob for all his help (their really, really cute Boston Terrier).
Just so you know I've been knitting for a long time, here is an old photo taken at the French Market in New Orleans when we lived on Bourbon Street. I am wearing a sweater, one of ten I knitted in different yarns to the same simple pattern and lived in quite happily. I did them in wool and chenille. Will have to dig through old albums to find other versions of The Sweater. It was around this time that I convinced the local needlepoint shop, the Quarter Stitch on Jackson Square, to order yarns for me. I taught Jill, the owner, how to knit and thus began one of the most delightful yarn shops around. I hope she is still there since Katrina, but the shop quickly became more knitting than needlepoint.

And here, keeping them me honest, we have two more UFOs from my collection Hall of Shame. The socks are in Fleece Artist and I love them and I just got busy with other things and never got around to finishing them. BTW, Nancy at ColorSongYarns carries 150gr skeins of their sock merino which lets me knit without worrying about running out, which I usually do with my size 10 feet. Nancy is thinking about dropping this larger skein to make room for other yarns, so if this is something which interests you, let her know. And then we have the almost finished Sunburst Sling Bag from Jill Vosburg, Just One More Row. It needs a lining cut and to be seamed, can't seam until I cut the lining, Catch 22. I already have the lining fabric and even the strap is already almost knitted, but I can't finish that until I cut the lining and seam the bag. Oh, well. Soon, soon.
I've decided to begin with some Art Pron, which will be flashed from time to time. From a collection of odd little paintings (and some not so little) by my old and dear friend Elizabeth Taggart, the Irish painter, which you might enjoy. This is The Topiary Hat. Elizabeth has a show up now at the Molesworth Gallery in Dublin. Check it out! They sold out her show last year. We go back about 37 years. Cheers to you Lizzie, wish I were there.

Last but not least, speaking of very old friends from New Orleans, I received an e-mail tonight from my friend K, who with husband W, their 3 Persians and I Love Lucy, the Irish Wolfhound, fled New Orleans to stay with us for the months after Katrina. Consumate Southerners, they went back home, sold their house in the French Quarter and moved to the mountains of Vermont, of all places. This is what she wrote...

"BEAR! A real BEAR! Was just circling the house. Our own Bear (Pooh the Persian) was sitting in the window looking out intently when we looked out and a BEAR's ass was just walking past the bedroom window. Then we looked out the wide sliding glass door going out onto the deck and the bear was standing on the deck! I yelled and jumped up and down and pretended to be bigger than he was (It was a BIG BLACK BEAR) and he ran away. Whoosh! Things occasionally get exciting in Vermont after all! XOX"

Ah, it's the little things that make life exciting!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Keeping them honest!

For those of you out there (you know who you are) who keep sniggering about the alleged number of my UFOs, which are really WIPs, with this post, we begin flashing said objects with a status report. When they are all up (several postings for sure), we will count them and find out if I qualify for the Guinness Book of Records.

Cowlneck tunic in Noro Blossom, my own design. It's actually sewn together and only lacks having it's ends embedded.
Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. STR Heavyweight in Amber and Moss Agate on size 7 needles. Wonderful fun project, 2/3 knitted.
Ilga Leja's Lady of the Forest Shawl in a silk/wool from Lotus Blossom. Needs its front edges frogged and reknitted. Ilga wrote me quite kindly with some ideas for fixing it. I cannot recommend more highly her beautiful designs.
Ruana knit in Noro yarns, all it lacks is a few more ends worked in and stitched down.
Wave pattern moebius from Mountain Colors, knit in MC Alpaca...1/3 done. It is my second one and I LOVE the first. And for those who know of my aversion to blue, that's teal.

I have a terrible tendency to finish 99%, then dive into the next project. More soon.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Sock Status and Knitting in Public

Just to inform, a representive group from Sisters of the Wool KNITTED IN PUBLIC yesterday. Well, we knitted at the bookstore where we normally meet, but since it was Saturday, more people saw us. Although if you check Jeri's blog, you will see just how much attention they paid us. Jeri wandered the store in a barely whipped together sweater with lots of strings and only one sleeve and absolutely NO ONE so much as looked at her. Amazing!!! Our new meeting place at the bookstore instead of Starbucks is costing me a fortune. I can resist almost anything but yarn and books. I keep the book and yarn purchasing down by avoiding bookstores and LYS at all costs. I skipped all the excellent LYS sales the last couple of weeks, but succombed to Patternworks half priced Koigu, well, only bits and pieces in colors I had so that I can make a Koigu coat, someday, hope someday soon.

For those of you who keep asking about my CookieAs, here is a status report...

Baudelaire, As you can see, close to the finish. Done in STR midweight, Rare Gems on Addi 1s. I ran out of yarn before finishing the top motifs and ribbing.

Here is the predicament, with possible choices for finishing. I tried another midweight I had in Fred Flintstone, which had some red in it. Once caked, the red looked much more orange. I "feathered" it in with alternating rows of the last of my main color, but am not very fond of it. Darling G (go check out her alien invasion) from Sisters of the Wool volunteered her Rare Gems leftovers (thank goodness she has tiny feet) which I think will look better, but is certainly rustier than my main color. Here's hoping no one ever sees my ribbing.
And here are the Monkeys, in a lovely Rare Gems colorway in STR lightweight. Jeri the marvelous mathematician worked out an 8 stitch enlargement chart so they would fit over my arches. It seems I will run out of yarn lacking both the toes and the ribbing. I did a provisional cast-on, so will have to go back to knit ribbing and toes in a different color, which at this point, I have no clue as to what it will be. These are done to the pattern in leg length, 6 repeats, so I really don't know why I always run out of yarn so soon.
And here is a close-up! I used Addi 1s in hopes of using the least yarn possible.
And here are Ann Budd's Flame Wave Socks from IK Favorite Socks. Done in Elann Esprit Olive. Since I bought 3 balls, I don't even have to think about yardage and finishing them, which is such a relief. And I LOVE these socks. Addi 1s.

My theory is that the leg should be the same length as the foot for proportion. And before you ask, the sock blockers are the genuine man in the moon Blue Moon model made by Chappy Woman.

Besides being a bit ADD when it comes to socks, I have a strange version of Second Sock Syndrome. The first sock knits up like a dream, no problems, no mistakes, smooth sailing. On the second sock I start getting distracted. I get off on the counts, drop stitches, frog, frog, frog or reknit twenty rows down with a crochet hook because something bothers me. May I say that one of the qualities of STR is that it frogs like a dream, over and over and over without showing abuse! Just what I need for second socks.

Here is a very clever row counter that Turtlegirl has designed. And she is so generous, she tells you how to make one of your very own. Quite an elegant solution. I'm planning to make a few. Thank you Turtlegirl.

Ughhhh. Guess what I had on my doorstep yesterday morning? A possum, in fact a dead possum. I waited for quite a while since possums are known for playing dead, but no such luck. He was truly and completely dead. Several of my neighbors called to ask if I had seen what was in front of my house. I called animal control and they don't pick up on the week-end. In fact, they won't even pick up on private property, only if you leave it in a bag at the street. Next week, of course. So, armed with rubber gloves, two very large plastic bags and a newspaper, I had to take care of the situation before I could leave to "knit in public". Plus I had to wash down the spot since a bit of possum juice was really drawing the flies. My neighbors all cheered my bravery and competence. I just felt sorry for the little guy, a young and quite fat little possum, who didn't deserve his fate. I LIKE possums. The only North American marsupial, least likely animal on the planet to have rabies, they eat all sorts of things you are glad not to have in the garden, and we have lived together peacefully for quite a while. Now they can put up a good fight with a cat or a dog if cornered, but my cats never leave the house, so not my problem. Pretty sure someone poisoned it. In fact, pretty sure it was my new strange neighbors to the west, probably trying to kill the feral cats in the neighborhood. It had yellow powder all over its stomach. Sigh, sometimes I have quite had enough with being so competent. I exude competence. Which means no one volunteers to take care of me. I end up taking care of them. And disposing of poor little possums. I will spare my gentle readers any photos of this.

Today's Yarn Pron is Handmaiden silks...SeaSilk in BlackBerry and Midnight and a silk bouclé in Paris and ????? The SeaSilk is from Nancy at Colorsongyarn and it is in 150 gr instead of 100gr so 50% more yarn at only a slightly higher price. One skein will make a nice shawl.

With the next post, I will start flashing UFOs, perhaps to shame myself into finishing a few instead of knitting still more socks.

Family and Knitting, why they don't get socks

Last week was a terribly busy one. You heard about all the operas and the piano competition and fancy dress and lots of dinners. But I also had houseguests!! My darling uncle and his beautiful wife came from LA to visit my father, who is 88. And here are the brothers, both octogenarians. Aren't they handsome?

It was lovely to see them together. My father was from a family of 8 brothers and one sister, and only these two are left. They find it hard to believe. Dad was in the middle and Steve was the youngest. Dad constantly mentions that he has lived longer than any of them, and he was the sickly child. He has battled asthma and heart attacks and cancer and other problems, and lived beyond them all.

In the little time I had to be with them, I pulled out my Monkeys and knitted while they talked. At one point my uncle asked me what I was doing. Of course I launched into an enthusiastic explanation, perhaps too enthusiastic, and I saw the eyes glaze over, albeit politely. My family doesn't get it, this knitting. My father teases and my brother belittles. Guess what? They don't get socks! Dad did get a scarf and a hat a while back. The grandchildren don't get knitting since their mother would throw it in the washer with the towels. After the first few ruined pieces, they didn't get any more. I asked the BF if he would like some socks? He said no. He did get a huge sari silk afghan last year which he wears on nippy mornings to drink his coffee on the terrace. I was so last minute finishing it, I forgot to take a picture.

And from Ireland (remark the green type)...Jo pipes up: Don't TALK to me about family and knitting! Not to mention friends and acquaintances. Wouldn't it be wonderful just once to find someone who completely got it? Someone who didn't stare first and then start the inevitable, 'Oh I wish I had your time to waste on things like that...'And that's just the women. The men fall into two categories. Either they avert their eyes as if I'm doing something shameful, and pretend they don't know me; or, even worse, they smile patronisingly and say, 'Isn't it nice to see women getting back to the traditional household tasks instead of trying to prove something in a man's world.' Of the two, I can cope slightly better with the first; the second makes me want to reach for my Gatling gun (cunningly secreted in my WIP basket and primed at all times). Even my DH, though enormously supportive, does tend to laugh uncontrollably when he sees me stressed to the limit at midnight trying to read the fine print on a chart to discover where I went wrong twenty rows back; and when (encouraged and pushed by you, Angeluna mia), I made the supreme sacrifice and offered to knit him some nice black dress socks, he tried to look positive but hedged and dodged and eventually said, 'Well...I don't know if they'd be quite my thing...'

I want ballet dancers to claim they can't possibly agree to take on Swan Lake unless they can do it in my socks! (OK, so I'd make them extra long).

Now bless my stepmother. She got a scarf a while back for Christmas. She raved about it all year long, so now she gets one every Christmas. And here is the last one, the diagonal scarf by Maia from the Red Scarf Project, inspired by WendyJ. at the last moment. It's not really crooked, the wind was blowing and it hadn't been blocked.

This is my homework. Lovely, brilliant Judi, who only once came to a special holiday week-end meeting of our Sisters of the Wool, arrived with spinning wheels, spindles and roving. And a very nice husband who helped her carry it all. I can tell this is going to be a love affair. I haven't had time yet due to those operas and houseguests, but it is sitting right next to my knitting nest, and is going to get a literal whirl in the next few days. And I snagged a wonderful book by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts called Spinning in the Old Way to help me along.
And now to introduce my knitting assistants. This is tiny Pandora. Pandora is always right next to me, in the office, knitting, whatever. That is her job and she performs it quite professionally. Note Monkey bottom right, which she is guarding carefully. She also thinks it is her duty to sit on the patterns I'm working on so they won't blow away. We won't go there right now. It was Pandora who caught Wollmeise's feather as it floated out of the package.
And this is little Paprikas, AKA Poppy the baby. Her job is to keep my feet warm while I knit. And watch to make sure I don't drop a stitch. Again, she is very serious in her duties. She gets at least a daily combing, and I'm saving the proceeds to present to the above mentioned Judi. Since animal fur is extremely warm, which doesn't suit our climate, I thought I might use it to knit little teddy bears, to be felted perhaps and kept forever. I'm wanting an opinion on this very fine and silky Persian fur.
And here are the boys. Tujagues, a funny little devil, sleeping in his favorite bowl.

And Galatoire, twice the size of Tujagues, also in the bowl. He watches to see when Tujagues leaves, then he claims it, never mind that he overflows in every direction. There are actually several of these large bowls for them, but they both want the same one on the dining table, of course. They are the centerpieces for our dinners.

Move over Lucy!!

Loved all the family and doings, but it really cut into my knitting time!!!!! Not a whole lot of progress on anything this last week.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Xmas in June...Wollmeise Yarn PrOn continues

OMG, I just this second received my first order from Wollmeise. When I opened the envelope, a lovely spotted yellow feather floated out. Tiny Pandora, the tortoise shell, pounced on it instantly. The yarn is gift wrapped in handmade chartreuse paper with a little extra skein tied on with a bitter green raffia bow. I'm now opening the package...Oh WOW!, they are gorgeous. Strangely, each and every one is RED to some degree or another. Dark reds to rusts to red mauves. OK, so I suppose it's my favorite color but I didn't even think about it when I ordered. Gorgeous, highly recommended. Claudia skeins this superwash fingering up at 525 meters, so I can knit anything I like and not worry about running out of yarn, per usual. This really opens up my sock design possibilities.
Indische Rot, Raku Regenbogen, Kürbis, Rhabarber, Brombeere

I am attempting to better the photos. Blogging them directly from Flickr, the quality is much better. But they upload one at a time, each as a separate post and I haven't completely deciphered this process. And Blogger then cuts off the right hand side, no matter how I fiddle and crop. If I upload them through Blogger from Flickr, they are quite grainy. If any of you tech geniuses has figured this one out, do let me know.

I must find more knitting time! If I only manage a pair of socks a month, I have stash for over six years. Now if I could manage two pair a month, I could with a clear conscience order more in three short years (am I getting the idea, Celtic Memory and SoapQuiltKnit?) I know it sounds absurd, but it is a real jolt to my psyche each time I go to ball up one of my precious skeins. I sometimes wonder if I don't love the skeins even more than the socks.

Celtic Memory advised: "And I forgot to say - will you for heaven's sake BUY ANOTHER CIRCULAR and do both socks at the same time? It totally eliminates Second Sock Syndrome. I work the cuff on one, then the other; then I work a repeat or so of the pattern on one, and change over again; and so it goes, right down to the toe (Or vice versa if you prefer). It's so worth the additional needle you can't believe."

And after holding my ribs laughing for a while, my answer to her was..."Dearest, darlingest Celtic Memory, in answer to your suggestion I should get another circular needle so that I can knit two socks at a time...ARE YOU KIDDING???? I have probably 8 pair in the same size in the same
BRAND...Knitpicks...which I totally love for small sock sizes. Also have in each size, at least two Addis and a Laceweight Addi. Even though the measured gauge size is equal, I do NOT get the same gauge on the same size between brands. One of the mysteries of a knitter's life. This is not counting straights and bamboos. Oh, and all those needles???? They are all in other socks! That are awaiting more yarn to finish. As you know, I always run out. But hope springs eternal."

And I daren't remove those tiny needles for the risk of losing stitches, or forgetting the needle size six months later when I can't find my notes. My theory is simpler just to buy another needle, even if it is the umpteenth needle in that size, since obviously, you need it.

One day Celtic Memory, you will make it to the New World again and see the inner sanctum and discover my theory that "more is more". I'm one of those people that stockpiles. Because if I need something at 3AM and don't have it and can't get it, I become very stressed. That's when UFOs are born. And unfortunately, once they hit that UFO chair, it's "out of sight...out of mind". Even though it is right in front of my nose, I don't see it, I don't look. Because then I would have to deal with it all. One day soon, perhaps after I knit up all that sock yarn? No, no, no, I'm going to come up with a rewards system, like my above mentioned friends, to sort out these UFOs that are all still beloved and quite close to finished, each and every one of them.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Sock projects are piling up

Flower PrOn. Take a look at the beautiful peonies I found at the market. When I lived in France, I would splurge on these beauties during the brief time each year that they showed up in our local street market, for a fortune. They were called pivoines and I would buy them as tight balls, then watch them unfold for up to two weeks. So wonderful.
Yarn fondling is what's happening chez-moi. Plus a marathon opera week, combined with the finals of the Van Cliburn International Amateur Pianists Competition (A total hoot, doctors, lawyers and housewives who play the piano well enough, just not professionally, are given a chance to compete in front of an audience with stellar judges. Lots of them come.) Add a pair of houseguests to this mix, with black-tie events every night and what am I doing....fondling sock yarn!

That elusive Sock Hop Handspun. I've been on the back order list for six months or so, received a notice that they were going to list some last week, set my alarm for the exact moment, and thank goodness I did, because 10 minutes later there was almost nothing left. But I got these yesterday...

Wild Thing, My Boyfriend's Back, Great Balls of Fire

Magic Carpet Ride and I Got You Babe

I'm going to share, but haven't decided which ones absolutely to keep yet.

Then, darling G of Sisters of the Wool passed this beauty on to me. Wollmeise's Spice Market. Great yardage, I can knit the socks of my dreams without worrying about running out of yarn.

Please, please, send me any wonderful sock pattern ideas you might have for these, so I'll stop fondling and start knitting. I'm more than half finished with those Monkeys and will be looking for the next project. And my fingers are itching to dive into these.

Last night's Butterfly was terrific, wonderful CioCio San with a strong cast and good conductor. Tonight's is a newly commissioned opera in it's debut performance, Frau Margot. Then Falstaff is the next day. Wish me courage, wish me stamina, wish I could knit on my Monkeys while I was there.