Friday, December 28, 2007

Impending Arrival

Best quote of 2007: "You're not utterly useless, you're just sort of impaired."

The above was said to me by my hubby after I whined about being utterly useless when I suffered an asthma attack after attempting to clean the shower with a powerful chemical spray product. He meant well, bless his heart, but I swear everyone has giggled when I've told them about it. I really need a t-shirt that says this.

I am saddened beyond the ability of the written word to convey by the death of Benazir Bhutto. It doesn't matter whether it was due to her ducking in an attempt to save herself or a gunshot, the result was the same: another successful assassination in the modern world. When will we progress beyond thinking that killing someone who has an opposing viewpoint will solve anything?

I am awaiting the arrival of Tech Gal and the grandkids. I've been thinking about when I was young. If Ms. Bhutto had been killed then there would have been the once-familiar beeping sound as NBC interrupted the sitcoms to announce what had happened. Regular TV shows would have simply stopped being shown as David Brinkley and Chet Huntley and later, Tom Brokaw, reported every single incoming fact and explained to us what impact this would have. Now the TV shows go right on chugging along, albeit in re-runs as the writers strike on, and the news updates are smooshed in alongside the latest Hollywood DUI arrests and divorces, unless you choose to go directly to any news channel's website or major news provider. Is this a better world I worked for? Whatever will it be like when these grandkids are my age?

I'm feeling pretty morose but it IS raining, which we desperately need here. I think I'll go start the beef dish for supper and comfort myself with some wool, something pretty artificial on the grand scale of things but then I'm simply a little country mouse in that grand scale. Happy New Year to all and for Ms. Bhutto's family and the Pakistani people, my true sympathy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wrapping Up the Unwrapping

Thanks to all my commenters. I'm glad when knitters can share the humor in their mistakes instead of stressing over them. :-) For the one who asked via pm how I managed that little feat of genius, I simply cast on using a cast on that is intended to give you a toe, one that appears to have been kitchenered stitched closed instead of casting on an open cuff, as in a cuff-down sock. Then I made very sure to weave my tail in as I went, making it pretty difficult if I wanted to go unpick it. I could cut the first line of stitches down the middle, pick up and knit more cuff if I wished but I choose to leave it. I'm still laughing everytime I pass it and I can't wait to show it off at Yarn Night. Some of the girls are under the impression I'm a good knitter. I've tried and tried to explain the difference between a good knitter and someone who knows how to go back and cover their tracks when they make major messes and perhaps this will help illustrate. :-) (And yeah, I WAS very glad this was worsted weight. I'd have hated to have spent the time on a fingering weight two-toed sock. It might not have been so funny then....naw, it'd have been funnier.)
I had a very good meal at my mother's home (watch out, there was cayenne powder on those sweet potato sticks). Yesterday, we went back for left-overs and fried asparagus with some sort of creamy, sour cream-based dip that had creole seasoning in it. I usually loathe and can't tolerate fried foods but these were so crispy and non-greasy, I quickly realized I could eat the entire platter and not realize what I'd done until it was too late. Back away from the asparagus....(hmm, can you tell I'm somewhere in the South?)

Every single photo I took at my mom's is totally blurred. Some worse than others. First, we have Jaylee practicing her Miss America wave:

She did this a lot, enjoys doing it, and will add in blowing kisses on request.

Then we have this shot of what will be the next new baby for next year's Christmas:

Any minute now, can't you tell? She's in such a good mood, it's unbelievable. Has been the entire pregnancy. If we could bottle whatever is doing that, there would be peace, love and harmony throughout the world. Take my word, it isn't a normal state for her, she'll tell you herself.
All the knitted gifts I did manage to finish up were very happily received.

The Hannah hat from Magknits. It has a ponytail opening knit in the back of the hat that secures with buttons so you can take it on and off without causing the Fuzzyhead so common from other hats. I used 2 white flower-shaped buttons. Note: the buttons on the Magknits site photo look really large. I found that with my knitting tension and resulting gauge, I ended up using what I would consider "regular" sized buttons.
This went to Tara, the mommy-to-be. I used Cascade 220, obtained from Fiber4Ewe in Wytheville. The pattern is very straight-forward and easy to knit, would be great for beginning knitters wanting to try out knitting in the round, decreasing, and getting over the fear of doing a button-hole, and the Cascade 220 was a very cheery color. True, it's not superwash but even in my humid, prone-to-mold icky part of the world, it dried in 24 hours after a wash in Soak. It knitted up in around 4 hours total, most of you could probably do it in less time. Bear in mind when I mention total knitting times that I have to severely restrict how long I knit using larger than size 8 needles due to the RA in my hands. If I try to do extended sessions on large needles, I put myself out of knitting entirely due to pain and inflammation. So if you are trying to figure out how quickly you could knock one of these out in, do keep that in mind.

The Sister-in-Law socks. I gave my one of my best friends, Bev, socks for her birthday this past year. Which immediately set off a chain reaction that resulted in her mom wanting a pair. I'm not complaining, I consider those who grab my handknit socks, fondle them and hint repeatedly for their own pair(s) to be very intelligent creatures. As opposed to the ones who remark something about going to Wally World and picking up the Chinese-knit socks in the hunting aisle. She was very specific in her hinting: need to match denim jeans and blue and/or grey pants plus be longer length, at least top of calf. Add to this that she has the skinniest size 8 foot I've ever seen in my life. To be price-practical, I chose Regia so I could get the top-of-the-calf length, and threw in Brown Sheep Wildfoote in a matching grey for the toes. The challenge to these was simply in getting the proper skinny-ness in the foot. I used the Elizabeth Zimmerman/Meg Swanson arch-shaping method described in Meg Swanson's Knitting, page 137, and had to do 15 rows of the shaping. I've never had to go past 9 rows before. I still had to add in judicious ribbing placement and decreases to pull the sock in at the right places to give it a proper fit but not cause any problems with rubbing or bunching when she puts on her shoes. They fit her perfectly. She was happy. I was happy. :-)
Now for the Not Christmas but other knitting category:
My Red Sox Sock. I have one sock entirely designed and finished up. The other is now on the needles (my present to myself, go ahead and start my other sock) and I'm halfway done the pennant pattern on the cuff. It's a neat pattern, looks like little triangular flags when it's stretched out because they won the pennant, yes? I do love this yarn, it's squishy, smooshy and downright plush. Way too bad I lost both ball bands and now have no idea what it is. I suspect I bought it at Mosaic when I picked up the Soak wash. (Oh, lookee, they're having a coupon sale. And I can't think of any way or good reason to get to Blacksburg. Bummer.)
This little sock is one of a completed pair, made with a plain vanilla pattern. I threw in solid heels and toes due to the small amount of Lorna's Lace sock yarn I had left over to use for them. I know they'll fit one of the babies in the family.
I also seem to be on a contrasting heels and toes kick. :-)

And look! That's spinning I spy! This is 100% South African wool goodness, obtained from my wool crack dealer, er, make that one of my favorite handdyed wool vendors, Carol, at Black Bunny Fibers on Etsy. I've been spinning it on my Louet and it's now all spun up and ready to ply. I'm going to do the plying on the Lendrum. The Louet is going out on loan to a friend for a couple of months after the first of the year so she can learn to wheel spin. And see if she likes Louets before she decides what to invest in. Several of us have Louets and I love my S75. There are also Ashfords well represented in the guild and I know one girl who has 2 Kromskis. I found the Kromskis hard to treadle but I had never spun before that day so I can't count that as a valid opinion because I now know that it may simply have been due to the tension settings on it. The only thing I knew about tension that day was that I was really tense. I've now shown up with the first Lendrum infiltration and everyone seems to like her very well. The main thing I note is that the Lendrum allows you to spin much finer and faster, even on the top of the whorl, as opposed to the Louet. It's much harder to get that level of fineness and you have to treadle harder to do so on the Louet. But I love the lofty soft yarn I get from the Louet. So I can see using both. Which is really bad because I justified the "grab that Lendrum and load it in the car" down at SAFF by swearing I was going to sell the Louet. Now I feel really short of breath and sweaty and kind of faint and dizzy when I even think about. Whew, bad feeling. Give me a moment here. Must go pat the Louet.....
Okay. See what a dilemma? I just know Linda is going to have to pry it out of my arms to borrow it next month. And that's just for a visit. How can you love 2 spinning wheels to death? Even worse, I spin on both. There's some mystery brown grease wool on the Lendrum as I speak.
Well, I guess I could go cast on another sock while I think about it. And in the next update, I'm going to get a full modeling of the finished (yay! wild cheering, clapping, hooting! yay!) Rogue hoodie ON it's intended new owner, Tech Gal herself. Maybe she'll even help me choose a new photo-editing program and do some housekeeping here. Heaven knows, every Christmas photo I took was totally blurred.
Happy New Year, y'all!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Solstice and Major Mistakes

First, best holiday wishes to all, no matter what flavor you prefer. My present to you is a photo of my major knitting mistake:

Can you tell what I did wrong?

Back in October, my bestest cyberfriend ever, Eileen, got me Cat Bordhi's newest book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters, Book One. I've been champing at the bit to try it ever since but I needed to finish up all Christmas committments first. Having managed all of them but one, which I simply haven't the time to finish now (thank you, RA, you interrupt me at the worst times) I gave myself permission to do some selfish knitting.

I've had a very jaundiced opinion of knitting socks with 2 circular needles due to a very traumatic attempt at this 2 years ago that ended with me throwing needles, yarn, and instructions across the room while cursing them roundly. I've knitted many pairs of socks very successfully since that time on my trusty dpns and was very satisfied with all of them. However, I felt a tiny bit like the knitting had managed to defeat me and I don't like that feeling. It's not the same feeling as the one you have when you've knit something in a new technique or stitch pattern and you simply don't like doing it. No, being defeated is....well, losing to the knitting. And I don't like being a loser.

So I've read repeatedly on the Yahoo Socknitter's list and on other's blogs where they achieve great success and even satisfaction using 2 circulars to knit socks after reading Cat Bordhi's instructions. And I became hopeful again.

I gathered up book, worsted weight yarn, and 2 size 6 circulars Wednesday night per her instructions, which I'd intently perused Tuesday evening. Normally I'd have callously disregarded any advice to do a sample sock (or sample anything for that matter, samples are for sissies...and successful knitters) but I was determined to succeed and do this right this time. I even realized I totally understood how to do Judy's Magic Cast On for the first time. So I cast on and started knitting. I then had to cast on again due to having turned the circulars the wrong way (which way does that clock turn again?) but I was off and running after that.

I did have this feeling something wasn't quite right though. I told Martha I couldn't understand why the toe of the sock in the book photo was so tiny and appeared to only have a few stitches, yet my toe had 32 stitches. I even went back and checked a couple of times to be certain I'd cast on enough stitches. I worked through the arch expansion (wow, I loved this part) and the heel went by without a hitch. But then I turned the page and at the top of the column it said "foot".

Uh oh. I kind of thought I'd already done a foot. And how did I manage to knit and turn a heel and not notice whatsoever that it was totally in the wrong place for my assumptions? See, I knew something wasn't right but up til this point, I simply hadn't thought about it being a cuff-down sock. I'd made tons of assumptions:

I'd assumed you only use 2 circulars to knit socks toe-up.

I'd assumed I didn't need to read all the way through the pattern because I'd read all the "how-to's" and "wherefore's" and wanted to just get to it.

I'd assumed that because Cat Bordhi recommends Judy's Magic Cast On for casting on toe-up, all the socks in the book were toe-up and I should use this cast on for them.

So I now have a cute little sock that has no opening to get a foot into. And I have to go back and figure out exactly how to cast on 2 circulars for a cuff down sock.

Yeah, when I can finally get to the point of not laughing myself silly everytime I look at this sock or the book.