Monday, October 30, 2006

My Century Sock

Although the result may be a less tidy narrative,
it is also, I believe, a more honest one.
-Karl Jacoby

On the last day of Socktoberfest, on the day for Tricks and Treats, what do I bring you? My Century Sock. The 100th pair of socks I've knit. And I have an exact count. This is it, baby. No mistake.

So what, you are all clamoring to know, what special pair of socks is deserving of such an honor? It's with mixed emotions that I show you the most plain, ordinary socks I have ever - in all my hundred pairs - ever knit. Your eyes do not deceive you. These are plain. Black. 2x2 ribbing.

Wearing-My-Uniform-With-Pride Socks
Pattern: 2x2 ribbing, heel stitch, standard toe - do you really need a pattern?
Yarn: Plymouth Sockotta, a cotton wool blend I bought on the road trip to San Diego when we stopped to visit Knit'n Lit Jenn in Ft. Worth. Small world
Needles: 5" bamboo dpns, also bought on the same road trip
Notes: It seems like I've been working on these socks forever. Black 2x2 ribbing is just not what gets me out of bed in the morning, knitting-wise, but it what I put on when I get dressed. The irony? Shortly before finishing these I started a night float rotation during which I wear scrubs and all sorts of brightly colored handknit socks. Ironic, isn't it?
Best Thing About This Project: I wear the uniform. And I wear it better with handknit socks.

There may be something fitting after all these being my 100th pair. For all the wild and crazy pairs I've worn in the past, these workday socks will get the most wear by far.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Ninety-Nine Bottles

Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall,
Ninety-nine bottles of beer . . .
Take one down and pass it around . . .
Ninety-eight bottles of beer on the wall.
-Schoolbuses across the country

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Knitters Around the World -

Allow me to proudly present, my 99th pair of socks:

Falling Leaves Socks
Pattern: Falling Leaves from Knitty (by a San Diego knitter!)
Yarn: Koigu. I was lucky enough to meet up with Wendy before I left Philadelphia, and she took me to the most wonderful store full of Koigu.
Needles: Brittany Birch US2 dpns.
Notes: I originally cast on for the pattern-suggested 72 stitches with US1s, but I didn't love the way the yarn was pooling and I realized that I find Koigu more comfortable at a slightly looser gauge. I just like it on US2s. So I switched. I also switched to a top-down, heel-flap construction. And for all of you wondering about the eye-of-partridge heel flap, check out a tutorial here.
Best Thing About This Pattern: A Toss-Up: Discovering all those great sock patterns in the contest; and My little slice of autumn.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Meaning and Beauty

Thou takest the pen - and the lines dance.
Thou takest the flute - and the notes shimmer.
Thou takest the brush - and the colors sing.
So all things have meaning and beauty
in that space beyond time where Thou art.
How, then, can I hold back anything from Thee?
-Dag Hammerskjold

I've been talking about it for months. Literally. The new massive project. The two whole cones of Zephyr. The wedding gift to end all wedding gifts. I speak, of course, of the chuppah for flitgirl's July wedding.

In my last post I regailed you all with the fascinating swatch saga. You all agreed that this is, indeed, a massive undertaking. Now, July is a little sooner than it seems when one is looking at spending most of the intervening months on the Internal Medicine wards or - for a change of pace - the ICU and CCU. And I must admit that there's a certain amount of intertia in planning a project so large. (Somewhere on the order of 7-8 feet square.) I had to choose the lace patterns. The needle sizes. Swatch. Deal with the emotional trauma when I realized that not all swatches do, in fact, lie. Decide that I had to go down 2 needle sizes from the swatch. But you've already heard all that. Now you probably want to know how it looks. It looks like lace in progress. But not bad progress, huh? Especially considering that it is about 6 feet across. Expect to see a lot of more of this lace-in-progress stuff. There's a ways to go.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A - Gasp! - Swatch

If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.
-Lewis Carroll

Apparently I've been getting a little bit of a reputation around blogland as an anti-swatcher. Not that I'm naming any names or any thing (cough, Laura), but I'm about to show you all my only exception to "Swatches Lie." Stay close.

You've heard distant rumblings about this chuppah for the flitgirl that has been floating around in our collective imagination for many months and for which I have procured two whole cones of Zephyr. Now, flitgirl and I go way back to when she made one of my library books overdue in 6th grade, and she's one of the best kind of friends - the kind that have an unlimited faith in your abilities. And because she's one of the best kind of friends, I only grumbled a little when she told me that she wants this certain frame for her chuppah, necessitating a piece of lace - are you sitting down for this? - 8 feet square. She has no doubt whatsover that the next 8 months, 1 week, and 6 days is completely sufficient for me to design, swatch, and knit this modern masterpiece of lace. So I figured I should start.

You'll never guess what I discovered - This Swatch Did Not Lie. Look at it. Can't you see? Plain as the nose on your face, it told us all that these lace patterns were not a good combination.

I am completely and utterly sold on the center pattern - Rose Trellis Lace from Barbara Walker's Treasury. I'd always admired it, but I fell completely in love with it when I made the Rose Trellis Stole last spring. With a 44 row repeat, it doesn't really get boring, but there's enough repetition that it isn't too challenging either. And it reminds me of English rose gardens. Those of you lucky enough to know the bride personally can attest that it suits her delightfully.

My original plan was to be more clever than I was when I knit the first chuppah (which I constructed by knitting the center and then trying to figure out what to do about a border), and to cast on for the center, the inner border (the "matting" so-to-speak), and the outer border (the "frame") all at the same time, and then go back and un-do my provisional cast on and extend the two borders around the top and bottom. Following?

But after a solid day of swatching (this was actually a couple of weeks ago), I couldn't come up with anything. Clearly, neither of the two I had originally envisioned were going to work. The Rose Leaves are just too open and linear and don't provide a strong enough border for the fairly solid trellis in the center. And the scroll/vine thing? Clearly not meant to be for this project. The triple eyelets are too open, the scroll edging too ill defined, and overall there was just too much going on. The central Rose Trellis pattern is much more geometic than I had originally given it credit for being, and so the plan that worked so well in my head just didn't translate into the swatch.

So I dragged all my lace knitting books out onto the carpet, paged through my binders of patterns, and developed a new plan. To wit:

The inner border needs to be one of two things: 1. an allover small-caliber lace pattern (like bead stitch perhaps - the only photo I can find of it)2. a solid background with some diagonal lines or diamonds or something in the center of it all (there's a great example in Knitters' Best Shawls and Stoles - the Shetland Lace Baby Blanket)

And the outer border? I'd like to echo the eyelet roses of the central pattern with something eyelet-y, and I'd like a pointed or scalloped edge. Wide English Lace from Homework is a contender, but I've learned my lesson that things do not always look in real life as they appear in my head. The grand realization I had a la chuppah structure was that for the inner border as I envision it, I need to pick up all those stitches and knit it around - precisely what I was trying to avoid. The things we do for love . . .

Because we all know that when it comes time to settle on my borders, I'll be doing an awful lot of swatching.

Monday, October 23, 2006

My Little Slice of Autumn

His house was perfect,
whether you liked food, or sleep, or work,

or story-telling, or singing,
or just sitting and thinking, best,
or a pleasant mixture of them all.
-J.R.R. Tolkein

As I briefly mentioned, I had about 20 hours on the East Coast this past weekend. It was pretty much the only slice of fall I'm going to get, and it was a gorgeous fall day. The air was crisp, the sky a brilliant blue, and the leaves all manor of changing colors. Rosi G.'s contest-winning suggestion of Falling Leaves is truely the perfect project right now, in ways I never could have foreseen. And so I made excellent progress on this pair this weekend.
The bright green with red and gold accents is exactly my little slice of autumn. The observant among you will note that I'm making them top down with a heel flap. I can't help myself.

I'm also moving right along with my New England Socks from Knitting on the Road - one down, one to go. Did I mention how irrationally in love with the eye of partridge heel flap I am? Or simple lace patterns in gorgeous yarn? Or the rhythmic motion of knitting, purling, yarning over? Again I'm rediscovering just how soothing, peaceful, and wholly satisfying it can be to take yarn and make something beautiful.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Humerous Anecdote

No man can go through life
and reach the end unharmed.
Aye, trouble is now
and trouble still to come.

I just returned from my third last-minute trip to the East Coast in three weeks, this time for a funeral. I offer that by way of explanation, rather than apology; some things clearly take precedence. No cloud is without a silver lining, however, and all that time on airplanes has given me much opportunity to make progress on the knitting, in particular my new monstrous lace project. While I unpack, attempt to switch my circadian rhythms yet again, and generally get my life in order, let me offer a humerous little anecdote.

As you may have noticed, lately I've been under more than the usual amount of stress. Darting around the country, working nights, feeling far from home, and generally behind in so many of the things I'm supposed to be doing. During my last last-minute trip to the East Coast, my wonderful beau went above and beyond the usual airport runs and late-night dinners and decided to help me out a little more by washing some of my clothing that was lying around his place. This consists mostly of stuff to keep me warm in his absolutely frigid apartment- a couple of sweatshirts, a blanket I picked up in Mexico, and a pair of wool socks. He proudly presented them all to me in a nicely folded pile.

But did that sink in? A pair of wool socks. As you can see from the macro photo on the right, they are somewhat scarred by their first (and last) trip through the permanent press cycle.

The best part? When I - gently - informed him that not all of my socks could be machine washed and dried - he apologized very handsomely (and was forgiven just as handsomely, lest you all rush to his defense). And then added that he hadn't noticed that they shrunk - Weren't my feet really that small?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

A Sock Story

This is a revolution!
We have to offend somebody!

-John Adams' character in Sherman Edwards' 1776

Where have I been?
The Navy sent me to a conference in Bethesda, MD last week with approximately 24h notice that I was going, and no reliabe internet access. And now I'm back. And I just started Night Float. So don't be suprised if you see strange time-stamps on my posts and comments. Last night was crazy, but I have it on good authority that occasionally it slows down for at least 20 minutes. And now, back to our regularly scheduled blogging with my better-late-than-never Sock Story, as suggested by Lolly.

When did you start making socks?
I started making socks in December 2001, about a year after I'd started knitting. I had spent an entire year making garter stitch scarves and only recently decided to branch out. I made a pair of mittens, and then thought I'd make my dad some socks for Christmas.

Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?
I taught myself. Like almost everything else in knitting. Google is my friend.

What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time?
There is not a 1:1 correspondence between my first started pair and my first finished pair.
My first started pair is to the right (now finished, obviously). Regia jacquard on US2s. I quickly realized that I should not learn sock construction on fingering weight yarn and switched to a basic ribbed pair in Wool-Ease. My excuse: I was reading the Knitlist at the time. People do actually make socks out of Wool-Ease. So why are they not pictured? They fell apart. A while ago.

What would you have done differently?
Not use Wool-Ease. It doesn't hold up.

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?

What yarns haven't I particularly enjoyed?

Do you like to crochet your socks?

Or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?
I do not crochet. Ever. DPNS all the way. I like to channel Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)
Colleen and I are in intense (but friendly) disagreement about this. I love everything about a heel flap. Heel stitch, or eye of partridge if I want to be adventurous; turning; gussets; and most of all how they fit my feet.

How many pairs have you made?

98. Numbers 99, 100, 101, and 102 in progress.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Winning Socks

Whoever wants to tell a variety of stories ought to have a variety of beginnings, and speak so intelligently that people will enjoy listening.
-Marie de France

There were so many fabulous responses to my little Socktoberfest sock contest (sparked largely, I will confess, by a combination of my overflowing stash and my complete laziness in finding a new-and-exciting pattern), that I decided to compile them all into a list for the other similarly burdened. (Yes, our lives are hard. So much yarn. So many great patterns to knit. How do we ever cope?)

Twists and Turns
So, you all think I really like cables, don't you?
Lovin' Lace
Texture Time
And What's Wrong With a Little Color?
  • Bazaar Socks in Interweave (these are so on the list for all those leftovers I have!)
Here's the Claudia's Handpainted in "Just Plum" going to our lucky winner:
And, of course, The Lucky Winner Herself:

Rosi G. with Falling Leaves, who clearly has her pulse on the finger of the sock-knitting cyber world (did you see all those entries?).

While a number of the socks on the list above are definitely making it onto the "to knit" list (Leah and Margene are onto something with Cablenet - it is so "me"), Falling Leaves is speaking to my wistfulfulness at my lack of a New England autumn, and I have some lovely Koigu in greens with red, yellow, and brown accents. It's just meant to be.

Monday, October 09, 2006

And Now For Some REALLY Amazing Lace

When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.
-John Ruskin

As I carefully consider all your great suggestions for my next pair of socks (expect a decision tomorrow), I have something for all ye doubters and naysayers out there . . .

The blocking Peacock Feathers Shawl, all pinned out: It's dry now, and unpinned, but I'll have to wait for my official photographer to not be on call before you get any official finished object photos. A few preliminary comments -

1. This thing is huge!
2. This thing is gorgeous.
3. And, as Rachel recalls, it's not exactly my color. But I think I have a good recipient in mind. Shhh . . . it's a suprise.

Now that I've freed up my lace-knitting needles, I have a new and massive project coming our way.

That's a cone of Zephyr up there. (And, actually, I have two cones of it. I told you this was a big project!) Oooh, ahh. And if we think Peacock Feathers is big . . .

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Music To My Ears

It doesn't matter where you are, it doesn't matter where you go
If it's a million miles away or just a mile up the road.
Take it in, take it with you when you go,
Who says you can't go home?
-Jon Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles, "Who Says You Can't Go Home?"

Every now and again there seem to be a rash of music memes making the rounds, and I've recently gotten tagged by two. Gamecock Doc tagged me for a 7 song meme and Lorette (The Knitting Doctor) for a 10 song one. Both have the same basic concept - 7 (or 10) songs you are really into right now, for whatever reason.

I must say that I've been listening to a lot more podcasts than music recently, so some of these are a bit of a stretch in my already-limited musical repotoire.

1. Who Says You Can't Go Home? Jon Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles
This was my "Song of the Summer." Doesn't every summer have a song? Ironic that this was the first summer I really moved far away from home. But it's a great, catchy song and holds out the promise of never being too far.

2. The Grey's Anatomy Theme Song
In spite of the fact that I have bad luck with being on call on Thursdays, I've been mostly keeping up thanks to a friend's VCR. And that theme song says a good hour of knitting to me. (Also, feel free to wander on over to Anatomy Lab to read the insightful conversations flitgirl, Kate D., and I have about McDreamy and McSteamy.)

3. Son of a Preacher Man, Aretha Franklin version
Dancing around the kitchen making dinner? This is my song.

4. Maybe It Was Memphis, Pam Tillis
This is the other dancing around the kitchen making dinner song.

5. The Long Way Around, Dixie Chicks
My dad gave me the new Dixie Chicks CD right before my drive to San Diego and it's still one of 3 CDs in my car so I hear it a lot. It has a nice sound, but I can't remember most of the words.

6. Get Rhythm, Johnny Cash
The other 2 CDs are a Johnny Cash compliation that my brother and I picked up in the middle of our road trip. After we listened to the entire contents of both our iPods.

7. Orange Blossom Special, Johnny Cash
Same as above.

8. American Girl, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
The beau isn't wild about the only 3 CDs in my car, so he stuck a couple others in, including this one. It's what I turn on when he really can't stand my country music.

9. Rocky Mountain High, John Denver
Went on a mini road-trip yesterday to Julian. There was apple cider, apple pie, and they even have some oak trees that are changing color. Who doesn't want to listen to John Denver when driving there?

10. Better Together, Jack Johnson
I had to look up both the title and artist here, but it's on a CD I got as a favor at a friend's wedding. It looks like it's the most played song on iTunes list. I guess I'm just feeling it these days . . .

And for tagging, we're all about equal opportunity around here. Tag yourself and let us know in the comments. And in the meantime, don't forget that you have until Monday to enter my contest.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
-Benjamin Franklin

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Socktoberfest is here! If you've ever even glanced at this blog, you know that I enjoy nothing few things more than knitting - and wearing - a good sock. I must admit, however, that it's been a little while since I've finished a pair. Summer in San Diego doesn't exactly make your feet cold. Nevertheless, the night air is getting a little chill in it, I'm wearing fun socks with my scrubs on call, and the millions 1500 of you all raising a glass and a set of dpns with me is very inspiring.

Expect to see many socks on the blog this month. I'll start with the socks I have in progress, but it won't stop there. So many of my best socks were knit pre-blog, so I'll share many of them, along with invaluable comments on how they've stood the test of time.

New England Socks from Knitting on the Road

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These were supposed to be my 100th pair of socks (I'm still holding at 98) in a symbolic way before I left New England. Eh. They'll go fast once I actually start knitting on them. I think this is Koigu, but it might be Artyarns Supermerino.

Wearing My Uniform With Pride Socks (x2)

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Plain Black Sockotta. 2x2 rib. Doesn't it just make your heart go pitter-patter?

Trekking Socks

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I did Trek Along, briefly. Now these socks sit by my computer and I do a few rows now and again.

Can that really be it? Only 3 pairs of socks on the needles? (And, really, only one of them counts.) Clearly something must be done to remedy this situation.

Contest Time!

In the festival-like spirit of Socktoberfest, I'll send two skeins of Claudia's Handpainted (photos when I get home) to whomever points me in the direction of my next sock pattern. Anything by Nancy Bush is cheating, by the way.

ETA: I'll make a decision on Monday, October 9th. Columbus Day.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Late-Breaking News

Those things are better which are perfected by nature than those that are finished by art.
-Marcus Tullius Cicero

Late Breaking News!


We interrupt our regularly scheduled Socktoberfest coverage to bring you this late breaking news! The Peacock Feathers Shawl, last seen in this state of great uncompletion rife with errors, has returned to the land of the living (as in, living knitting projects). After completing a 5th cross-country sojourn this past weekend, the knitting on this shawl is actually finished. Yes, finished! (Tantalizing teaser photo that offers no proof of the above claim.) All that remains is some sort of crochet bind-off which the knitter needs to examine more closely after a good night's sleep.

Shocked? Astounded? Tune in tomorrow for the updates as we follow this incredibly negligent Amazing Lace team on their final legs.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Come As You Are

Where we love is home,
home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.
-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Thanks for all the good wishes. No matter what the impetus, it's always good to come home. Regularly scheduled blogging should resume when I return to San Diego in the next day or so (including my little Socktoberfest contest!), but in the meantime . . .

I've been meaning to throw a little party on the blog recently, and I've always had a hankering for a real, true "Come As You Are" party. It's the kind of thing we always talked about throwing in our college dorm, but only if we were warned ahead of time so we wouldn't be the one with greasy hair and holes in our p.j.s. At least in the knitting blog world, people always know they're in public and all the holes in the lace are supposed to be there.

Things That Really Make Me Miss New England in the Fall:
1. Sandy's mittens
2. The mums under Rachel's scarf. So commonplace to her she didn't even comment on them. Do you think we have mums in San Diego? Cruel.
3. Pretty much everything on Judy's blog.

Knit Well With Others:
1. FiberFlix - a blog-based knitalong for crafters to watch movies and knit together. Sounds inspired. If only I wasn't so scared of the film noir they're starting with . . .
2. Zimmermania - What's not to love about Elizabeth Zimmerman?
3. And, of course, Socktoberfest. You know how I feel about handknit socks.

Archeological Studies for Our Times:
1. Boston subway knitters courtesy of the original Subway Knitter
2. Fun fur scarves in the wilds of the Sydney (Australia!) public transit thanks to Meg at Day's Full - seriously read some archives on this one; it is a full-blown sociologic commentary on the way we live in our modern world

There Are People Crazier Than You:
1. Knitting an Entire English Garden - thanks to Magniferous for pointing it out
2. This Youtube piece. My dad came across this and won't tell me how.

Might Actually Be Useful:
1. Bobble without turning. Great tutorial, great photos, and some of the nicest bobbles in blogland.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

By My Leave

This race and this country and this life produced me.
I shall express myself as I am.
-James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

The photos from my trip to Texas are long overdue. Now seems as good a time as any to show them, a) before we all forget that I've ever worn camoflague and b) because I'm off on Emergency Leave to go see an ailing family member. For all that the military can be awash in paperwork, hassles, and red tape, it took exactly one phone call to one person to get leave to be on a plane in four hours. It's a good thing, since Unauthorized Absence happens to be a felony. In spite of my new-and-improved every other day blogging schedule, then, I may miss the next couple of days as I do the planes, trains, and automobiles thing. Quality knitting time, that.

Above on the right, knitting black ribbed socks in the USO in San Antonio. I'm smiling because I they give us cookies and I didn't have to do land nav yet. And below, a bunch of the San Diego folks. We're smiling because we get to return to San Diego the day after this photo was taken. I'm in the front on the right, in case you don't recognize me in my Kevlar.