Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Thank you, Stephanie!

There was never any doubt in my mind that my October Birthday Swap package would be wonderful. I could hardly wait to go to the post office this morning. As I opened the package, I was greeted by a gentle lavender scent. Everything was wrapped so beautifully. I had trouble deciding which present to open first. Of course, I read the card first. I also followed the directions and opened the other envelope last. Stephanie picked out such lovely prizes for me. Instead of a thousand words from me, I'll give you a picture of it all.

I think that gift-giving is such fun. I know I truly enjoyed picking out her presents. This has been a wonderful swap, and I am so glad that I joined. Thank you Bev, for hostessing this event for us, and thank you again, Stephanie for the wonderful gifts.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Happy Birthday

Today is my birthday! I have been having a wonderful day. You'll have to wait for the pictures of my prizes. I came home to one of those pink slips in the mailbox Saturday afternoon letting me know that my October Birthday Swap package is waiting for me at the post office. Yep, since I have to wait, so do you. I'll also tell you of my Murfreesboro adventure soon, too. For now, I think I might need some Starbucks, or maybe to go play with some of my new stuff.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Busy, busy, busy

No, not really, but time has gotten away from me, and I’ve been playing catch-up like mad. I was way behind on my bloglines. I finally managed to skim my way through. I wasn’t able to leave comments. I can see that a wonderful time was had at Rhinebeck, and fabulous fiber acquisitions were made. Part of me wishes that I could have attended, but another part tells me that I’m not quite ready for such a huge and overwhelming experience. Still, I am in need of a fabulous, fiber-filled event, and there’s something a bit closer to home that will fit the bill nicely. Saturday, October 28th, I will be attending the Harvest Days and Fiber Festival (last entry of the page) at Cannonsburgh Village in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I believe this is their 30th Anniversary. I look forward to a great time. This is only my second time attending, and indeed, it is just my second time at a fiber festival. I have tried to save some money to maybe do a little shopping. I will pick out my birthday prizes that day, as my birthday is the 29th. I really hope to find a new spindle and some new fiber, and maybe a niddy noddy. Yes, I know I can construct a pvc one, and perhaps I will, but I still would like a nice wooden one. I suppose it’ll be one of those things where if I am trying to make a decision between a niddy noddy and some other fiber or spindle, the niddy noddy will wait.

In other spinning news, I finished plying what I have spun. The plying took longer than what I thought it would. I am glad to have received my copy of Spinning in the Old Way, to help guide me in my spinning adventures. I had finished the spinning and was ready to ply when it arrived. I set the spindle aside and read. I knew that my spinning could be improved, but I wasn’t quite sure how to improve it besides putting in the time. I have made my way through the book and have learned bunches. It is a wonderful resource. I also have Evelyn and Annette as wonderful resources. Evelyn may be slowing down, but she’s still going. She knits and spins on a budget, and has been great letting me in on little bits to keep doing the crafts we love when the dollars are quite limited. She has been my constant encourager to spin everyday. She says that she spends some time on the wheel, spindle, charkha, and with the needles each day. Annette has the information you need in one of her bags, if only she could find it. It’s written down in one of her notebooks or scribbled in the margins of a newsletter from spinning guilds both near and far away. Consequently, she might arrive to a knitting meet-up late and keep you yakking away afterwards, and I suspect she has purchased book duplicates because she doesn’t quite remember what all her library contains. They are great. I hope to be able to calm my nerves enough to spin around others. When I have tried to spin around others I get nervous, my hands sweat (not conducive to spinning), the spindle drops, and I just end up sitting quietly or go back to knitting. Also, the local spinning get together is on the second Monday night of the month at the library. I’ve been advised that I might want to avoid that area at night, and Monday nights are Skanky Knit nights, and I really hate to miss those. Anyway, as I discussed spinning with Annette and Evelyn a couple of months ago, they told me about the magic of washing the handspun. It’s like blocking. I’ve just done it, and I now have this new skein of my handspun. Not bad, eh? Yeah, I know that my spindling still needs improvement, but this is about 203 yards by my calculations. I could make something with that. I think I’ll try and spin and ply some more and turn this into the Swallowtail Shawl, or maybe I’ll just knit this into a scarf. We shall see.

So, the drop spindle is empty. I’ve got the itch. On the one hand, I want to spin up more like what I’ve already made and make it a shawl. I confess that I had an unrealistic fantasy that I would have enough to knit the Swallowtail Shawl and wear it on Saturday. The fantasy goes on in my head, and I am nonchalant as I announce that not only did I knit the shawl, but also spun the yarn, too. People are awe-struck, and I am cool. Then I step in a pile of sheep poo, and I know that the fantasy has ended. But I digress. On the other hand, I want to keep the spindle empty in case I don’t get a new spindle, but only fiber, and then I long for a cleared spindle to use the new fiber. Who knows what I will do. Until I decide, I’ve got plenty of knitting, and it’s time to exercise.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

October Recap

It’s that time again, kids. That’s right, time to show you my contribution this round to Caps for a Cure. I’ve managed to finish four this time. I have a Shedir on the needles, but I’m just on round twenty-one and doubt it will be completed in time.

In purple Woolease, we have Odessa without beads and with beads it is the Black Sea Hat. This is the sixth Odessa I have knit. Whenever I want to knit a chemo cap and don’t have a pattern in mind, I knit an Odessa without beads. I like to knit some of the hats with the beads, and some without. My bead supply for hats is running low. Poor, me, I’ll have to go bead shopping soon. The next time I knit the Black Sea Hat I will knit it deeper/taller. Generally speaking, I’ve been knitting big chemo caps. It would seem that my head is a bit on the big side. I cannot go to my local mass merchandiser and pick up a floppy straw hat to shade myself from the sun. I just don’t find one to fit me. Consequently, I knit these chemo caps a bit on the large side. I know that I’m not the only one who has a head that is a bit biggish, and I want to make sure that there is an option amongst the other chemo caps that will fit. I also know that this means that there will be people who pick up one of my caps to try on and discover that it is way too big. I figure too big is better than too small.

The blue Cotton-Ease hat is Coronet. This pattern is very similar to the Cap with Turk’s Head Cuff by Charlene Schurch in her excellent book, Hats On! I knit it in honor of my uncle who has been recently diagnosed with lung cancer. It’s wrapped around a lung, spread to the liver, and also on his spine. Time is short for him; I pray he does not suffer much.

The light pink one is inspired by a hat by Judy Gibson. It isn’t quite what I was going for, so I’ll just have to keep tweaking the pattern. I should have kept notes. I liked knitting the hat top down and experimenting. I would like to be able to work it out so that I can write out the pattern and contribute that to the group. Anyway, I later steam blocked the hat some and this helped smooth things out a bit.

I need to get a mannequin head for photographing hats. I think this would help to show the hats a bit better. I know that they look better when I try them on or get someone to be my model. I may try looking at the local Sally Beauty store to try and find one of those heads.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


It’s hard to believe, but up until recently, I had not knit much with mohair. I had often thought of knitting a lacy shawl with mohair, but I was a bit apprehensive. I had read the dreaded horror stories of fixing mistakes in mohair. Still, mohair enchanted me. Three balls of Kid Silk Haze sat in the stash beckoning me. Back in the spring I purchased some Crystal Palace Kid Merino on sale. I bought five balls each in two different colorways, Ultra Blues and Painted Iris. I knew that they would become shawls one day, but which, I did not know. I like to knit lace, and I like to knit shawls. My first foray into charts was the Pacific Northwest Shawl from Fiber Trends. I had longed after the shawl for quite some time before I purchased the pattern and some Emerald Jaggerspun Zephyr. It is wonderfully written, and by the time I had finished I was a chart convert. It turned out to be a pretty big shawl. I did not know of Zephyr’s bloom factor. I loved the shawl. I loved knitting it. I danced around in it. With all that love going on, you know I ended up gifting it to someone I love. I knew that one day I would have to knit it again, but for me. Several times I’ve fished out the Iris Jaggerspun Zephyr from the stash, but each time something stopped me. It might have been an attempt to rid myself of the summer blahs that prompted me to begin this shawl; I do not remember, but I finally decided to turn mohair into lace. I cast off the last stitch on Saturday night. I shoved it back in the bag and waited for Monday. The shawl was a joy to knit and looked wonderful. Ah, but once lace leaves the needles, there is still magic to be done. Yes, this magic of which I speak is blocking. I enjoy blocking lace, and I really do believe it to be a kind of magic. I have wanted a set of blocking wires for so long. Of course, every time I’ve gotten ready to buy them, I end up buying yarn instead. I always reasoned that I have gotten by with the T-pins and allowed the call of the yarn to win. I’ve heard that one can use thin welding rods as blocking wires, but whenever I ask people about their source for them, I don’t get a response. I have heard of people making their own blocking wires, so I decided to give that a go. The PNW soaked in the sink while I began my adventure. I grabbed some stainless steel jewelry wire and sat on the floor. The larger gauge wire I had seemed to be the best choice. I had trouble straightening it. I finally had about eight, eighteen inch lengths of the wire that were fairly straight when I ran out of that wire. I knew this would not be enough. I picked up the spool of lighter gauge wire. I thought it might make do until I could buy more of the heavier stuff. I snipped off a length and began straightening it. This wasn’t going to work. I took hold of my safety wire pliers, put together two lengths of the lighter gauge wire, and twisted it. Oh, my goodness, children, I had stumbled upon what I needed. I snipped, twisted, and repeated. A few minutes later I was ready. Another time I will twist up more of the lighter wires and I will also do some finishing work on the ends. Until then, behold, the Pacific Northwest. This is so cool. And, yes, I did fix the bottom point of that, but I didn't get a picture. You can see the color better in this close-up detailing some of the lace.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Sockyarn Stash Flash

After a respectful week of mourning my death, it is time to move on.
There it is, in all its glory, the sockyarn stash.

Some I bought myself, other bits were bought for me, and then there is other people’s unwanted sockyarn. There are the lonely 50g balls of sockyarn that will become socks for children or footie socks for me. I did not include all of the yarn I have that could be used to knit socks because, after all, any yarn can be turned into socks. I did, however, include some partial balls of yarn. I figure that 25g of Regia could be baby socks one day.

Do you have certain patterns planned for some of the yarns? Do you buy yarn and then choose a pattern?

I can look upon the stash and mentally (shhh…be nice) assign patterns to the various yarns. I think about the different people in my life for whom I’ll knit socks, and imagine presenting them with their handknit socks. Of course, it doesn’t always get knit up that way. This is the beauty of the sockyarn stash and of stashing sockyarn. If I purchase 100g of sockyarn, I know I can turn that into a pair of socks. They may be plain or fancy, toe-up or top-down, but I know that I won’t stare at this yarn and try and figure out just what I can do with it. The same can’t always be said about other impulse, no-plan yarn purchases. When I go through my yarn, I see purchases from back when I was new to knitting and hadn’t learned very well how to most effectively stash enhance. Sockyarn stashing is fun, easy, and nearly guilt-free.

Does a certain sock yarn you have in your stash take you back to a certain event? (where you were when you bought/received it? what was going on in your life at the time!)

Occasionally this is the case. Sometimes I remember a particular yarn sale or yarn crawl. Mostly, it is the completed socks that bring on the memories. I remember whom I knit socks for, details about the patterns, and what was going on in my life when I knit them. I know I had quite the trip down memory lane when I gathered together the small balls of leftover sockyarn for Major Knitter during March Madness. It reminded me of the Grandma’s Attic series of stories I read in my childhood. I knit socks on the go quite a bit. I suppose this is part of why they hold so many memories for me.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Death By Socks

She had just returned from the post office to mail a package for her October Birthday Swap pal, Stephanie. She had gone a bit overboard and stuffed the box with last-minute extra goodies. She was tired from all the shopping. She trudged up to the mailbox. It had been empty the two previous times she had checked it that day. She reached inside to find junk mail and a soft, squishy package. She handed the junk mail to her husband and contemplated the package. Finally, she opened it, and the contents burst forth. She battled bravely, but alas, Sarah has been killed. Before dying, she was able to subdue one of the socks with dpns. The pair is being rehabilitated. They shall serve out their remaining days warming feet.

Sarah was a noble sock warrior. Never a cold-blooded killer, she sent socks on to deserter and fellow warrior alike. She lived to see all but one of the fellow Skanky Knitters she encouraged to join the battle fall prey to deadly socks. In lieu of flowers, please donate a chemo cap to Caps for a Cure. Of course, consolation Knit Picks gift certificates will not be turned away.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Socks in the Mailbox

The last I read, my assassin had not finished knitting my socks. Still, I knew that she might not necessarily post to the world that she had fired off a pair of deadly socks to me. My day had been full of adventure, and when we pulled up to the mailbox, the Priority Mail package shocked me. I knew it must be my socks. I reached inside the mailbox, felt the squishy package, and knew that I had just been killed. Yes, it was socks. No, they were not for me. Can you believe this? My husband has been sent four pairs of socks to test. So, I’m still alive, but I think that I’ll have to wash these socks a bunch for him to do this test project.

It’s not quite all Sock Wars all the time around here. I do have a package on its way to me encouraging me to go to the mailbox each day. I’m expecting Spinning in the Old Way by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts and Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch to arrive any day now. Later on this month, I shall receive a fabulous birthday package from Stephanie, my October Birthday Swap Pal. Speaking of, I’ve been out to The Knitting Zone, and I’ve got some more prizes for Stephanie. I’ve nearly got all the goodies. There are a few more little items I want to pick up, but for now it’s time to begin working on the presentation aspect of the package. This is so much fun. I really think she’s going to like what I’ve gotten for her.

We managed to make it by the hospital just as Freda was being released. I found out this morning that Freda of the Skanky Knitters had an appendectomy. I brought her a Mini Kacha-Kacha. She had once remarked that she thought that only little old ladies used clicking counters hanging from their necks, only to discover two of us using them. I love mine and use it often. She will come to love and use hers all the time. Perhaps we will stop teasing her about this one day. Upon her release, it was determined that a trip to the Cracker Barrel was in order.

Now, I must exercise a bunch to make up for that wonderful dinner. I’ll do it after we finish watching Castaway, throughout which my husband has been tossing out helpful survival tips to Tom Hanks. I need the break. I’m still a bit sore from yesterday’s vigorous exercise dvd, Complete Aerobics and Weight Training. I think I'll do something a bit lighter today. In the meantime, I'll finish off another chemo cap. I just have to close up the top and weave in the ends.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Socknitting History

Lolly posted a questionairre so that we Socktoberists might share our personal socknitting histories. It was a nice stroll down memory lane to answer these questions.
  • When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?
I began knitting socks just a few years ago when I was a new knitter. I taught myself from the booklet Knit a Dozen Socks by Edie Eckman. I made a test sock using the Basic Sock pattern from the book using some pink worsted weight Red Heart. I made the leg and foot short because I was just practicing. I was amazed with the heel turning. It didn’t make sense as I read it, but just followed the directions, and was thrilled that it worked. When it came to work the toe, I got the numbering of the needles wrong. This means that only a twisted foot (and incredibly short, too) would have been able to wear it.
  • What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time?
My first pair was the Basic Sock from the same book. They were knit from Woolease Sportweight, and they are still alive and kicking.
  • What would you have done differently?
I had transferred the instep stitches on the first sock to waste yarn while turning the heel. As I was still quite new to knitting and didn’t really understand how to read my knitting, I ended up knitting all of those across the top of the foot twisted. As I got further down the foot I knew something was different about those stitches, but only later knew what I had done and how to not repeat such a mistake. I remember wearing the socks for what was probably the first time when we were visiting my husband’s Aunt Beth and Uncle Joe. In true Aunt Beth fashion, she pointed to that row of twisted stitches and asked, “What happened there?” Aunt Beth was a trip. It’s a good thing I had gotten to know her before this incident, or my feelings would have been really hurt.
  • What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?
Cherry Tree Hill is so wonderful, as is Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock.
  • Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?
Yes, I do have a past as a hooker, but I never crocheted socks, and don’t think I ever will. I began knitting socks using four dpns. I usually knit socks 2-on-1 using the Magic Loop method. This is my preferred method. If I use dpns for socks now, I use five rather than four.
  • Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)
I’m a short-row gal. I had tried this type of heel, but after getting Simple Socks Plain and Fancy by Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts, I was really won over. Sometimes I substitute the short-row heel in place of the flap-type. I did this with Pomatomus.
  • How many pairs have you made?
I can think of at least 17 pairs, not counting all of the baby socks (I prefer making little socks to most all bootie patterns) of which I’ve probably knit a dozen pairs, and then there was also my mini sock phase, although they were never knit in pairs.

Much of my Socktoberfest has been filled with the Sock Wars. Celebrate the kill with me. I've actually killed twice. After much harrassing, I was able to get an address for my original target, Sarahkat. Although she does not appear to be participating in Sock Wars, I still sent the socks to her.

Monday, October 02, 2006


You always knew I was twisted, didn’t you? I now confess it proudly and announce my association with those like me. Okay, so they’re not crazy like me, but we’re all dyeing to spin and knit. That’s right, I joined the Twisted Knitters Dye-Spin-Knitalong. It’s going to be quite an adventure. It begins October 2nd and runs through March. We’ll use that time to dye, spin, and knit something. Just what will that something be? I’m thinking that I’d like to spin, dye, and knit socks, a scarf, or a shawl. Some of us will dye and then spin, while others will spin and then dye. I haven’t made a decision on this one, yet. In the meantime, I’ve got to clear my spindle. I want to spin 1/8 oz more of the roving I have going and then ply that. I also need to buy fiber. As a fairly new spinner, I am still fiber deficient. There is a fiber festival in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on the 28th of October that I hope to attend. I’d love to pick up some fiber there, and maybe even a new spindle. We’ll just see what happens.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Happy Socktoberfest

It’s that time of year again, kids. It is time to honor the humble sock. Socks are so very important. If I would have been wearing socks last night, my feet would not be suffering the agony of three mosquito bites right now. What's the deal with mosquitoes feeding from my feet? That sucks more than a little bit, but I digress. I’m still alive in the land of the Sock Wars. I’ve mailed off two pairs of deadly socks, and now I wait for the postal service to determine what I do next. Now what kind of socknitter would I be if I waited on the mail to begin more socks? Ha-ha, very funny. But you know that I have stash, so I’m casting on for some new socks now. Okay, back up the train a moment. I’m actually deciding which socks to knit next. I’m thinking toe up, of course, and perhaps some sort of leaf motif. Twisted stitches or cables would be neat too, don’t you think? Maybe this is the perfect time to give Bayerische a try. Those orange and black striped knee socks in the Socktoberfest button are so cute. It has been awhile since I’ve opened up Folk Socks, and it is filled with such wonderful patterns and valuable information. I could just begin at the toes and knit up the feet, turn the heels, and then decide the patterning to go up the legs. It just goes to show you that the world of socks is endless. Okay, let’s just settle on the yarn. How about some Knitpicks Essential in Pine? Sound good to you? Groovy. Let the celebration of a thousand socks begin!