Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Short Row Success

Remember these?


Well, I’m still working on them, and I’m quite tickled with the different ways the colors are striping.


Wide bands on one sock and narrow ones on the other. Not only that, but it looks to me as though the wide stripes are actually reversing direction.

Working the legs has given me lots of time to contemplate heels. Let’s face it; the mind can wander quite a bit in the process of knitting two seven-inch legs with US 1.5 (2.5 mm) needles. K3, P1, repeat ad nauseum… contemplate heels…

As I watched the way this yarn was working up, I resolved to use a short-row heel on them. I didn’t want to take a chance that working a heel and gusset would mess up the spiraling, what with all that extra fabric.

OK then, short rows it would be.

First attempt, using the Yarn-Over method here… epic fail. I must have been paying too much attention to the hockey game on TV, because my row count was off. The heel was sort of tilted to one side. And there were holes. Great big ole honkin’ ones.

Rip. Regroup.

Second attempt, using the conventional Wrap and Turn… epic fail. The heel was straight, but again with the great big honkin’ holes.

Hiss. Curse. Frighten Husband. Rip. Regroup.

Just for kicks, I tried the Yarn-Over method again. You guessed it… holes.

Then it occurred to me that if I was having issues with short row heels, it was just barely within the realm of possibility that one or two other people might have the same issues.

Off to Ravelry, where all the cool fiber-crafters hang out, waiting to answer questions. I did a quick forum search on short-row heels, and before too long I found a person whose problem was exactly like mine.

I realized that it wasn’t the K3tog that was giving me so much trouble, it was that ridiculous P3togTbl. No matter how careful I was, it was stretching out and getting ugly. Imagine my joy when I found a link to this post.

Her short-row method made sense to me. It involves picking up the wraps, working the stitch, and then lifting the wraps over.

On Christmas day, sitting in the living room with my aunt while she worked on her garter-stitch scarf, I attempted my fourth short-row heel on the same sock.

When I got done, I held the sock up at arms length and looked at it. Then I held it up close to my nose and inspected it. Then I danced around the living room, somehow managing to avoid knocking over both the tree and my beer.

No holes on this side.

No holes on that side

And the pretty spiral started right back up.

Life is good!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Round Head, Square Hat

Deadline knitting makes me crazy. I completely suck at it. I moan and flutter and procrastinate. As Douglas Adams once said:
I love deadlines. I especially like the whooshing sound they make as they go by.
I stand in awe of people who give tons of knitted Christmas gifts, and every year I laugh with the Yarn Harlot as she relates her personal Christmas marathons.

I will, however, make an exception for birthdays. Personally, I like birthdays better than Christmas anyway. So much less pressure, and all the focus is on one person.

My stepfather’s birthday was at the end of September. I gave him a gift certificate for a hand-knit hat, because the day had sort of snuck up on me. I know, I know, it’s the same day every year… did I mention that I suck at deadline knitting?

I made him a Turn A Square hat with two colors of Noro Silk Garden that my mother picked out. This is really a quick and easy knit, and the Silk Garden knits up into the most amazingly soft fabric.

I frogged my first start, because the join was just too ugly to ignore and I decided that one inch of ribbing just wasn’t enough. I nearly frogged it again when I realized how big it was turning out, but my mother assured me that it actually fit the intended head.

So I kept knitting, ignoring the little voice in my head.

Little Voice: “It’s big.”
Me: “I know… shut up, wouldja? This hat is late! Mom says it fits!”


Little Voice: “Look at that, it’s ginormous!”
Me: “La la la laaaaa… can’t hear you!”

I made it far longer than the pattern called for, going nearly seven inches before I started the decreases. Joe wanted a hat that would keep his ears covered, and I figured that a hat that nearly came past my nose would probably do the trick for him.


I cut it pretty close with the main color.


But oh, it was so pretty once I got it off the needles. Gave it a good long bath in some Soak, then a few whirls in the salad spinner. Then I stuffed it full of kitchen towels to dry.



I finally gifted the hat on Saturday, nearly three months to the day after Joe’s birthday.


When he first tried it on I said, “Oh no, it’s too big!” As if I'd been ignoring the little voice in my head or something.

He says it’s just right. It’s bigger and slouchier than I think Jared intended but it will certainly keep his ears covered.

And just look at that smile!


So, while it may be true that I completely suck at deadline knitting, at least I can say that it was worth the wait.

Happy [belated] Birthday Joe!

Project Details:
Pattern: Turn A Square by Jared Flood
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden, colorways 8 (main color, 122 yards) and 267 (contrasting color, 73 yards)
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) and US 6 (4.0 mm)
Embarrassing Time It Took To Finish: October-December 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008


My mother, she can find anything.

Shoes? Look under the bed.
Book bag? Look in the coat closet.
Riding crop? Look in the utility room.

Elfin Hat? Not under the bed. Not in the coat closet. Not in the linen closet. Not in the utility room.

Have you looked in the spare room - library?

No mom, I haven't. To tell you the truth, I'm scared to go back there.

Well, not only can my mother find anything, she’s completely fearless. She marched right back there and dove in… without a lifeline or anything.

There’s a box down there. The green one with the snowman.

Disaster Area - Wear Protective Gear

There’s something inside.


Two somethings, unless my eyes are much deceived. My goodness, it appears to be two hats…

She looks a little smug in this shot.


While I look a little sheepish in this one.


Now that the hat and its friend have been found, the hiding place makes perfect sense. Those are nice warm cuddly hats. Designed to keep you dry and happy. So of course I put them in a box with a snowman on it.

See, it’s purple, with a pom-pom…


And it makes me very tall.

OK, nothing makes me very tall, but I like to pretend sometimes.

Thanks (again) mom!

What do you think, gang, should I think up some kind of reward?

Thursday, December 11, 2008


Excuse me, have you seen my hat?

I knit it with my own hands. Out of this Berroco Ultra Alpaca.


It’s an Elfin Hat [Ravelry link] from Interweave Knits, Fall ’07. It’s got this cool spiral lace pattern, and I made the ribbing extra-long so I could double it over and cover my ears with it.

I did this really cool trick with the ribbing. I offset it by two stitches about halfway down, so that it would kind of lock in with itself when I folded it over

I used it to teach myself Magic Loop. It was a bit of a struggle, what with the cable needle seeming to be smarter than me, but I got the hang of it.

It’s got a pom-pom on the end. I’m not usually a pom-pom kind of woman, but this hat seemed to call for it, so I made one. I sewed it on the hat sometime this spring, and then I did a big ole happy-dance around the house.

It fit. It was warm. It was purple. It was perfect.

I put it someplace safe. Where it wouldn’t get dirty. Someplace where I wouldn’t lose it.

Except that the someplace is a little too safe, because now I can’t find it. I’ve looked in the coat closet. I’ve looked in the pockets of all my coats. I’ve looked in the stash containers under the bed. I’ve looked in the shoeboxes in the bedroom closet.

I have this terrible feeling that I’m going to have to clean my house.

Either that, or knit another one. I just know it’ll show up if I do that.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Before I Forget How

Poor neglected blog, how lonely you must have been. Mea Culpa.

There are all kinds of reasons why I haven’t written in so long. Most of them are of the boring variety, and I will not tax you with them.

It finally occurred to me that I’d best break out of this slump and get back to writing before I forget how. So, here’s some randomness.

It’s my anniversary today. My husband and I have been together for 17 years. I love you sweetie, more than I can possibly say. Here’s to many more years of map reading and laughter, of motorcycle trips and good food, of snuggles on the couch and inside jokes.

My family celebrated Thanksgiving last Thursday, with a wonderful meal, a bottle of wine and two pies. My absolute favorite holiday, and this year was one of the best. I’m thankful for my family, for my friends, for my knitting and for my health.

There is actual knitting going on around here. There’s also lots of rain and a serious shortage of good light. So it will be difficult to show you the knitting, but I’ll give it a shot.

I took myself to the LYS a couple of weeks after my birthday. I bought yarn, and for a wonder it was neither lace-weight nor sock-yarn. I know, shocking.

It was this:



Three skeins of Malabrigo Yarn Silky Merino in the Indiecita colorway. I’m thinking of a cowl for this, something deep and luscious to snuggle down into. Or I could just tie the skeins together and wear them that way. It’d save time, at any rate.

My mother got me two balls of Knit Picks Essential in Jester Multi for my birthday. And a set of Harmonies sock needles. And a set of Harmonies interchangeables. And she sewed me needles carriers for all my DPNs. Am I spoiled, or what?




I cast on for a pair of socks almost immediately. Very basic: CO 64, work K3, P1 to desired length, do heel of choice, work foot to desired length, do toe of choice.




I must plead lack of good light and ask you to imagine that there’s another picture of the leg, which is now seven inches long. The first sock is on hold on spare needles for now while I work on the second sock leg. I’m so pleased with the way this yarn is creating ribbons of color, and I don’t want to mess that up with all the extra stitches of a gusset. So I’m going to do a short-row heel which I hope will vex me a bit less the second time around.

I’m still working on Mystery Stole 4 but progress is slow as it’s not the kind of mindless knitting that I can do when I’m tired. It goes in fits and starts, but it does go. Perhaps I should cast on a lace smoke-ring so I have something to show for the Long Lacy Summer.

OK, I think I remember how to write… I wonder if I can remember how to write more than once a month?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


To all the veterans of all the wars:

I remember you.
I honor your sacrifices.
I thank you for your service.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, not the years contemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
Laurence Binyon, 1869-1943

Friday, November 7, 2008


Mesdames et messieurs, j’ai l’honneur de vous présenter ma petite nièce, qui s’appelle Chloe Grace.

Here she is on her birthday, just a few minutes after her grand entrance.


The Baby Surprise Jackets I knit for her arrived the day after she was born. Good thing too, since the small one was so tiny she could only wear it for about two weeks. Note to self: Knit BSJs out of sport-weight or heavier yarn!

My brother sent an e-mail a few weeks ago with Grandma’s Magic Blanket as the subject. Here she is conked out under the quilt my mom made for her.


If you look closely you can see that she was working on her pacifier so hard before she fell asleep that it left marks around her mouth. Now there’s a little girl who knows what she wants!


I find baby toes impossible to resist, I don’t know why.

Here she is modeling the bigger jacket. Plenty of room to grow into this one!



I’ve convinced myself that she’s smiling so big because she likes her jacket ever-so-much.


I’m pretty sure she’s got my brother Jason wrapped around her little finger. What do you think?


Monday, November 3, 2008

You Want Random?

I can do random!

I’ve been tagged. I cannot possibly be the only person who gets a little thrill when a blogger quotes me or links me. I go all fourth-grade shy and giggly, “who-me”-while-I-chew-on-my-braid-and-blush.

Anyway, my point, inasmuch as I could possibly have one, is this:

It turns out that I have quite a bit in common with the author of KnitGeekery. Obviously we both knit, and we both think we’re a bit, well, geeky. She left me a comment when I finished my Candle Flame Stole, telling me that she was working on the same project. Imagine my surprise when I checked out her Blogger profile and discovered that we share a birth sign. Fate, I tell you, simply fate.

She tagged me with the Seven Random Things meme, so here goes:

1) I hate cherry pie. Simply cannot abide the things. I refuse to bake them, I won’t taste them, I can barely stand to be on the same planet as them. This visceral aversion is undoubtedly lodged in my psyche because of the day I blew my entire weekly allowance on three Hostess Cherry Pies and ate them all in approximately 20 minutes. The phrase “sick as a dog” could well have been coined simply to describe the following four hours of my life. I’m probably being unfair to all the cherry pies in the known universe, but a girl’s gotta have some standards. Since I only have two or three of them on any given day, I hold on to them like grim death.

2)I still have my childhood blankie on my bed. I use it to prop up my books while I’m reading myself to sleep, and it makes a dandy backdrop for photographing yarn.

3) I’m terribly shy. I have distinct memories of having to be dragged out from behind my mother’s knee to say ‘hello’ to people. I compensate for this by making it a point to introduce myself at parties, and by doing public things like blogging. I’m still shy, but I’m not living like a hermit.

4) If I hadn’t backed into working in IT, and I’m still not clear on exactly how that happened, I’d quite likely be making my living as a pastry chef. I’ve always loved to bake, and the only thing that’s more fun than the baking is watching people eat what I’ve made. I brought a flourless chocolate torte to a birthday party one year, and the wave of silence which descended over the place as the plates traveled out of the kitchen was one of the proudest moments of my life.

5) I didn’t learn to drive until I was 26. There was simply no need before that. When I was living at home with my mother, we lived right on the bus lines. Then I moved to Boston, where it took me three days to work up the nerve to cross Massachusetts Avenue on my own. After that I lived in and around Oakland CA, and driving there is a contact sport. Finally, when I was 26 I got a job which required me to do occasional deliveries. So, at that point I gave in and my sweetie taught me how to drive. I still chuckle a little bit when I do something behind the wheel which makes him flinch.

6) Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s all about food and family, with very little in the way of over-commercialized nonsense. Roasting a turkey is really pretty simple once you get over how big they are, and I also get to bake pies (not cherry ones). What’s not to love?

7) I find the study of history hilarious and uplifting. It helps me to put things into perspective, and it’s a certain cure for any creeping cultural arrogance which I might find myself inclined towards. If you spend several years up to your ears in examples of human foolishness, it’s nearly impossible to stay smug for very long.

So there it is, seven random things about me that I don’t think I’ve blogged before. As far as tagging others, I think I’ll just leave it to fate. Anybody else want to play?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

All The Gifts

It was my birthday on Monday. 40 years, the mind simply boggles.

I’m excited, to tell you the truth. There was a time in my life when surviving to reach 25 seemed well outside the realm of possibility, so this is a pretty big deal to me.

I’m not freaked out, but I am philosophical. I’ve been thinking about birthdays, and about birthday gifts. There have certainly been some doozies.

On my 11th birthday (Mom, is that right?) I was given the gift of a gorgeous bay American Saddlebred 3-gaited show horse. His name was Mod World, and he was a handful. We understood each other, Mod and I, and we had a great season that year, including the day we won an Open Park Saddle class over the top of some truly talented competition. I didn’t stop smiling for a week.

There were other extravagant gifts: another horse, a car, an opal and diamond ring from my husband, which made me cry.

It seems to me, though, that some of the best gifts didn’t come on my birthday, but were given at any time, simply for the joy of it.

A ticket to the ballet to celebrate a good report card.

The road trip to Missouri to visit my brother and his family.

A love (OK, obsession) of reading.

Those poor patient young women who tried to teach me to knit.

All the random smiles of strangers, the people who gave up their bus seats to me when I was on crutches, the way one of my nephews leapt up into my arms, serene in the knowledge that I’d catch him.

All wonderful gifts.

I heard Joseph Campbell tell a story once, about a young boy who wanted to give a birthday gift to his teacher. He left his village and walked to the sea, which was several days away. When he got to the beach, he sat and watched the tides and the birds for a day, watched the sun rise and set and listened to the wind and the waves. Then he picked up a pretty shell from the beach and walked home.

He went to his teacher and gave her the shell. She took it from him, thanked him, and asked, “You walked all the way to the sea to get me this shell?”

“Oh no,” he said, “the shell isn’t the gift. The journey is the gift.”

I think that story is making more sense to me now. This is my gift, this life of mine, these friends I have, this family which loves me. This is my journey.

To all the people who have shared it with me, I thank you most humbly. Shall we see what the next 40 years brings us?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

All Over The Place

That’s my life in a nutshell, at least the knitting side of it.

I’m still working on Mystery Stole 4, with about six rows to go on Clue 3. I had to rip out about 19 rows of one of the sides due to multiple dropped stitches followed by complete brain lock. It’s slowed me down quite a bit, but I think I’m getting back into the groove on it.

Bells is hosting a very casual Lace-Along called A Long Lacy Summer. Before you point out to me that it is, in fact, Fall, I will point out to you that the world is, in fact, round. This means that in Australia, where Bells blogs to us, it’s actually Spring. She’s dedicated a sidebar on her blog for folks who are participating, and I’d encourage you to check them all out. It’s a great way to find new bloggers, and there’s sure to be some lovely stuff produced in the coming months.

A few (several?) months ago, I counted up all my lace-weight. I came up with approximately six-and-a-half miles, which just boggled my mind.

Well, I’ve gone and done it again. Anybody care to take a guess how much lace-weight I’ve got now?



Beuller? (Sorry, bad ‘80’s joke, I couldn’t resist)

Just under thirteen miles.

As I wrote the last time I did this "clearly, I am obsessed."

Having faced this fact, and wanting to produce a goodly amount of lace to represent the northern hemisphere in A Long Lacy Summer, I did what any sane knitter would do.

I went to the yarn store and bought worsted weight for some new projects.

Oh, stop that snickering… you’ve done something similar and you know it!

I got two skeins of Noro Silk Garden:

Color 267

Color 8

and four skeins of Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride.

RPM Pink


The Silk Garden is slated to become Jared Flood's Turn-A-Square hat for my stepfather. I started it on Sunday, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to rip it and start over, for several reasons. I’m not convinced that a mere one inch of ribbing is enough, the join into the round is en eyesore, and I’m pretty sure I messed up on the increases. Three strikes, you’re frogged.

The Lamb’s Pride is to make a pair of Fiber Trend’s Felted Clogs for my mother. Since I haven’t started them yet, I’ve not had a chance to mess them up. Yet.

There’s also a pair of socks on the go, which I have been trying on approximately every five rounds. To ensure that they fit my actual feet, you understand, and not the feet of someone else. I should be working the toes soon, and I really ought to get some photos of them.

See what I mean? I’m all over the place.

Oh yeah, and to Kate, who correctly guessed the yarn from my autumnal walk last week, Dream in Color Smooshy in Butter Peeps… either you work for Dream in Color, or you stalked my Ravelry stash! Nice call!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Walk With Me

I took my camera with me to work yesterday and crossed my fingers for a rain-free lunch hour. Apparently crossing your fingers really does work sometimes, because I was able to get a lovely walk in.

Come walk with me, I’d like to take you on a little tour of the neighborhood.

These are the trees I watch out the window of our break room. They’re a welcome sight to rest my eyes on during lunch.


Turning right, there’s a single tree turning colors, trying to outdo its neighbors.


Heading north I like to look straight up into this tree.


And a little further down the street is this truly extravagant bush. It was all green a couple of weeks ago.


A few more blocks north and east, and I encounter one of the banes of a quiet afternoon, a leaf blower.


The artificial flowers in this basket are a good solution for the gardener with no time.


Isn’t that a lovely porch? I wonder if I could talk my husband into a paint job like that?

Gah! Another leaf blower!


We’ll leave him to his work, shall we, and admire these mums instead.


And this climbing rose.


The porch you see in that picture… it leads into one of my favorite yarn stores. The lighting inside is good for picking out yarn, but not so great for non-flash photos. Trust me, it’s lovely.

There are pretty colors in there too.


I thought this was a good fall shade, so I brought it back to work with me.


Heading back south again, this orange just about knocked me out.


Nearly back to the office now, this old fashioned rose made me smile.


As did this dry-rock creek created in a tiny front yard.


This is autumn in the Willamette Valley. Color and texture everywhere, falling leaves and late roses, interesting porches and unusual landscaping. Soon it will be hat and scarf weather and the rainy season will settle in, but we have a few more weeks of this to look forward to.