Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rainy Days Mean No Photos

Spring is well on its way to actually arriving here in my part of the world. The crocuses have been blooming for a couple of weeks, and the daffodils are growing by leaps and bounds. I expect blossoms from them within the next week or so.

The spring rains are here as well. Right now that means a low cloud cover and a medium-to-heavy mist outside, although that can change to a downpour in an eye-blink.

The rain is good for the growing things, but it has made it impossible to take photos of my latest sock project. Once again plugging my sock yarn into the list generator, this time I got Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight in a Rare Gems colorway.



The Rare Gems are skeins that came out of the dye pot pretty enough but weren’t quite what they company was looking for. They’re one-of-a-kind yarns, so if you see one you like at a fiber show you’d best snap it up quickly. Otherwise one of these people might get it

Blue Moon Booth, Black Sheep Gathering, June 2008

I’d been eyeing the Firestarter Socks by Yarnissima for quite some time. In fact, they may well have been one of the first patterns I fell in love with when I joined Ravelry and started delving into the resources there. Amazingly enough, I’m using the actual yarn called for in the pattern, which I’m sure is a first for me.

These are toe-up socks with a short-row toe… which completely kicked my backside the first three times I attempted it. Apparently I sometimes have issues with counting!

They’re coming along quite well and seem to be a quick knit so far. Have you noticed how much quicker patterned socks are to knit than plain ones? All those rounds and rounds of plain knitting seem like a good idea at the time, but at some point I get bogged down and feel like I’m in purgatory. But give me some cables or lace and I’ll just cruise alone happy as can be.

Well, lacking any pictures of socks in progress, and seeing that is has indeed turned into a downpour out there, I believe its time I ate my lunch.

To my prizewinners from last week: your yarns have been selected and should go to the post office this Saturday. I hope you all like them!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Baby Knitting

You know, considering my blissfully child-free state, it seems as though I do quite a bit of baby knitting. I blame my co-workers. In an agency with a 95% female workforce, at least one of them is expecting every year.

When our latest mom-to-be found out, to her delight, that she was having a girl, she asked for something in pink and brown, which apparently is what all the cool girls are wearing this year. And so off to the yarn store I went, where I found the perfect shades in Dream in Color Classy.

Cool Fire

November Muse

Then I procrastinated for a couple months, because that’s just the way I am. Please see a previous post relating to deadlines and my antipathy for them. I did finally cast on for that perennial favorite, Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket. I worked out a rough idea of a stripe pattern, which I only ignored at a couple crucial points.

This pattern is a wonder, truly it is. When I knit my first one I spent quite a bit of time convinced that it was just some joke perpetuated on unwary knitters by more experienced ones.

Honestly, does this look like a half-finished baby jacket to you?


Didn’t think so. I’m not sure exactly what it does look like, but it doesn’t resemble a baby jacket…

But, as EZ advised in the pattern, I pressed on. Mitered decreases, cuff fullness increases, mitered increases, more increases, several ridges worked plain across the center… I just kept knitting.

After the bind-off, I was presented with this

Shag Carpet?

That’s a lot of ends to weave in. A lot a lot. I hereby resolve that my next Baby Surprise will be knit in a single color.

I finished the weaving on Wednesday afternoon, and then I threw myself on my mother’s mercy. The baby shower was the next afternoon, and I offered her all kinds of gratitude if she could maybe-possibly-perhaps-please-please-please get buttons on it in time. I’m pretty sure I mentioned homemade chocolate chip cookies and the baking of them. She rolled her eyes and said she’d see what she could do.

My mom…

matchy matchy


...she rocks.

The jacket was hand delivered Thursday morning, which meant I didn’t have to go to the shower empty-handed and offering promises and apologies. The shower was a really good time, with cheese, crackers, fruit and two kinds of cookies. You’ve never seen so much pink in your life, or heard so many expressions of good will and laughter.

I think she likes it.


Is it wrong to be so thrilled that it was the only gift that got passed around the room?

Project Details:
Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn: Dream in Color Classy in Cool Fire and November Muse
Needles: US 7 (4.5 cm)
Size: 19.5 in (49.5 cm) cuff to cuff
Dates: 1 - 18 February

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Prize Drawing and a Public Service Announcement

Time to give away some sock yarn! Oh, how exciting!

I have once again used the Random List Generator, one of my most favorite web applications ever. It’s the equivalent of drawing names out of a hat, but with that extra geek cred I’m always looking for.

And the winners are:
Caffeine Faerie

OK ladies, now you have a choice to make. Leave me a comment and either let me know what your color preference is, or leave it all up to chance. I’ll find something in the stash to suit you, or I’ll plug it into the randomizer again, the same way I pick my sock projects.

Thanks to all who entered, you’ve touched my heart.

Now for a Public Service Announcement:

I trimmed down my roses this weekend. It was time; in fact it was probably past time. My best friend dragged herself up from her sickbed to supervise and offer advice. We decided that one particularly thick cane needed to be cut, and she offered me her loppers.

“No need,” I insisted, “these secateurs are very sharp!”

Well yes, they were sharp. But the point of loppers is that they have those lovely long handles, which provide lots of leverage and make the job both quicker and less painful on your hands.

My right hand has been swollen and sore for two days now. It’s not so bad that I can’t knit or type (thank goodness) but it is uncomfortable.

So, if your best friend, who happens to be a former landscape professional, offers you the use of a pair of loppers, I would strongly recommend that you say, “Yes, please!”

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A is For… Appeal

One of the amazing things to me about the internet is how it can make the world such a small place. When I look at my visitor statistics, I am surprised and gratified to see people visiting my blog from so many places: North and South America, Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle East… and Australia.

It’s those Australian visitors who are most on my mind these days. The news coverage of the fires in Victoria has shocked and appalled me, and the idea that some of the fires seem to have been deliberately set simply boggles my mind.

Since it’s not practical for me to grab my passport, fly to Oz and pitch in with the relief efforts on the ground, I started looking around for other ways I could help. Not surprisingly, I found that others in the blogosphere are far far ahead of me.

The photos that Knitabulous posted today made me cry, and made me realize that I needed to write this post.

Bells wrote a lovely and touching post here with a link to the Australian Red Cross.

Caffeine Faerie posted a link to Wildlife Victoria, which has lost two shelters in the fires and says that donations are desperately needed. She also mentioned that she’s joined the Ravelry group Packages Down Under and is knitting blanket squares for them.

Serendipity has begun a fundraising effort for the Australian Red Cross, and she’s even offering prizes for contributors. Details on this post, and a current tally and update on donated prizes can be found here.

Krafty Kuka has gathered all kinds of information on her blog. Cash donations, blood donations, Etsy shops, handcrafting efforts; you name it, she’s tracked it down.

So, here’s where the “Appeal” comes in: I know that times are tough for a lot of us right now, what with that whole world-wide economic crisis and all, but I’m asking you to do what you can. Donate money if you can afford it, donate blood, knit a square for a blanket, purchase something from a participating Etsy vendor, do something else I haven’t thought of.

Commenters who let me know what they’re doing to help will be entered into a random list generator (see Bells, I’m a geek all the time), and three people will receive sock yarn from my ridiculous stash. Just tell me what your favorite color is, I'll ship anywhere in the world. Contest will run until 18 February 2009, at 1 pm PST.

To my Australian readers: You’re all in my heart and my thoughts. Stay safe.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

By The Bootstraps

I’ve got myself another case of the wintertime blahs. It’s cold and damp, with the occasional sunny afternoon just to tease me. Looming deadlines at work are making me nervous, and I can’t seem to get enough of the right kind of sleep. I'm starting to take it personally.

The way I see it, I’ve got a choice here: I can either slip into a lovely case of self-pity and depression, or I can bootstrap my way out of it by doing things which have a history of perking me up.

I get annoyed with myself when I indulge in self-pity, and I simply have no time for depression just now… so I’ve taken myself down to my favorite pub for lunch. The nice waiter just delivered a pint of stout, my sandwich will be here in a few minutes, and I’m looking out the window at a sunny day. I can do this. Bootstraps are a good thing to have.

I finished the Socks to Ruin My Eyes this weekend, once I decided how long they should be. They were both the same length at the time, so I ran lifelines on them. I knit the toe on one sock, and then for the other I knit another pattern repeat before I did the toe.



I knew going in that this approach would mean knitting three toes for two socks, but I figured it would be worth it if I ended up with the fit I wanted. I ended up going with the shorter sock, the option on the right. The lace opens up just a little bit more, and I preferred the look.

So, I ripped the longer sock back to the proper length and knit the third toe. The toes have been grafted, but I somehow managed to screw one of them up badly enough that there’s a sizeable hole along the graft. I’m going to have to pick it out and do it again. Honestly, you’d think I’d never Kitchenered before…

What the heck, I’m going to call these done.

Project Details:
Pattern: Fan Lace from More Sensational Knitted Socks
Yarn: Lana Grossa Meilenweit 100 Tweed, Black
Needles: US 1 ½ (2 ½ cm)
Dates: 9 January – 2 February 2009

OK, now I think it's time to take a walk in the sunshine. It's a rare enough thing this time of year that I ought not just watch it through the window.