Saturday, March 31, 2007

I'm A Winner

When you are in any contest, you should work as if there were
- to the very last minute -
a chance to lose it. This is battle, this is politics, this is anything.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower

Boy, oh, boy. Or is it "man, oh, man?" You guys have lots of great suggestions for manly socks. And even better than the yarns are the patterns. It's taking me longer to put together than I thought (everything is this month - that's what being on call every third night will do to you). While we're (still) waiting, let me show you what I won: Kristen of Audioknits had a little contest, and I was lucky enough to win. She personalized the package for me by sending some Autocrat Coffee Syrup for The Official State Drink of Rhode Island. I assure you that if you ever see this in someone's pantry they must be from RI. You can't get it anywhere else, and yet it used to be in the dining hall in college. Great stuff. And marrying my love for RI and the lovely San Diego weather, she was kind enough to help me broaden my cotton collection with a gorgeous yarn from Fiesta Yarns, a ribbon in a gorgeous blue-purple mix. Not sure exactly what I'll make yet, but I've been wanting to try some ribbon yarns, and this one is gorgeous.

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Friday, March 30, 2007

Eye Candy Friday

We are born princes and the civilizing process makes us frogs.
-Publilius Syrus

I have lots of good blog fodder, but today was just too beautiful to stay inside. To tide you over, look at this:This is an engagement card from my aunt - the three-dimensional frog swings, and she added a note about finding my Prince Charming. Delightful!

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Add Another to the Pile

There are two kinds of people; those who finish what they start, and so on.
-Robert Byrne

Just as I've been making such good progress on my pile of UFOs (yet again, three cheers for the UFO Resurrection!), here I go, adding another one to the pile. I went and finished the knitting for the very cool Humbug Pillow from Debbie Bliss' Home book. It kept me occupied for months (see how big it is?), but in a peripheral way. It was my easy email-reading knitting - just a big rectangle with a simple garter rib pattern. And in order to make this rectangle into its final pyramidal shape, all I need to do with this rectangle is sew two seams. Sounds easy-peasy, right? I'm sure it is. The hold-up is that I also need to construct the inside pillow if I have any hope of this ever having any structure whatsoever. And I do. Have hope, that is. But the inside pillow needs at least two (relatively) straight lines sewn on cloth before I can stuff it. Have the cloth, even have the stuffing. What I haven't figured out how to do is make a bobbin on my sewing machine. The time is definitely coming. Soon-ish. But not before the end of March soon-ish. In the meantime? Here's one more for the UFO pile. While we stick it there, we can at least admire the delightful cottony goodness of the garter rib, can we not? Thanks for all the great entries to the contest. I didn't put an ending on it, but it looks like I'll have some time on Friday to sift through the entries and compile and list of all the great patterns and suggestions . . . and pick some winners. So muster your best manly sock suggestions and head on over.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

The Man Will Have More Socks

I would rather trust a woman's instinct than a man's reason.
-Stanley Baldwin

Thanks for all your lovely comments on the now-affianced beau's socks. He likes them a lot, as do I. But while these socks are warm, cozy, and in a lovely yarn, it's clearly not a yarn that will stand up to all those 30-hour calls. Not to mention that they are a little too warm and cozy for daily wear in San Diego. Clearly, some more manly socks are in order.

That sounds like a contest to me. A two-part contest.
1. What is the best sock yarn - be specific here - for manly socks?
2. What is the best manly sock pattern you know?

The winners? Two: the answer I like the best, and one random one from all who comment. The prize? Manly sock yarn, of course.* Your responses will, of course, force me to buy more yarn. Some for me, some for you. Tragic, isn't it?

*If you would really prefer un-manly sock yarn, that could probably be arranged.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Man Will Have Socks

A woman might as well propose; her husband will claim she did.
-Edgar Watson Howe

Finally, all the very vocal advocates for handknit socks for the now-affianced beau (he thanks you, by the way) shall be gratified. May I present

Engagement Socks
Gentleman's Plain Winter Socks from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks
Yarn: Kathmandu Aran (silk, merino, cashmere)
Needles: US 3 dpns (hey - big feet!)
Notes: Obviously, I adjusted the pattern for gauge. I used an Aran weight on size 3s instead of fingering weight, so I used 60 sts instead of 80. They fit perfectly, and used just about 150g for his size 12 feet. They were a pretty quick knit, and mostly knit in front of the beau without him suspecting a thing.
Best Thing About This Project: You know the beau was always asking when I was going to knit him socks. I always answered that he'd have socks when I had a ring. Well, the best thing about these socks was getting to give them to him!

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Wee Tiny

Remember there's no such thing as a small act of kindness.
Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.
-Scott Adams

You may have seen undercurrents of the hottest new trend in knitting blogland - the Wee Tiny Swap. In between blogging about her adventures in knitting over at Yarn Miracle, Emily came up with a perfectly brilliant idea. No questionaires. No months and months of delay. No large purchases or extravagant packages. No, this was a swap that could fit into an envelope. It cost a postage stamp. It used leftover sock yarn. And how fun it was! I was lucky enough to get a Wee Tiny Sock in the mail from PJB Knit Paula (there is a much much beter photo on her blog here; she apparently had some daylight recently). Even though my photo is poor, you can see it in it's new natural habitat, which is the bulletin board that lives above my desk. Just too cute!

Below you can see the Wee Tiny Sock I sent to a blogless swappee in Ohio. The leftover yarn details have been lost to the mysteries of time, but I do remember making a pair of socks for one of best friends, probably about 5 or 6 years ago. So, who's going to have the next Wee Tiny Swap? This one was too fun!

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Learning the Hard Way

What the caterpiller calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.
-Richard Bach

The alternate title to this post should be, "Or, Why You Should Always Read the Pattern Through Before Starting." In this case, a picture is worth a thousand words. Remember how I started this baby sweater, all full of hope and joy and sweetness and light? Remember how I blithely commented that I just grabbed the yarn and needles and got started, paying no attention to what was to come? I should have. See all those yarn ends? It was getting depressing carrying around a mess that looked like that, so I took some time out in the middle to seam up the sides and the sleeves. This way I am that much closer to finishing the whole thing. When the knitting's done, so will I be. I'm close. And there's no zipper - just a single button looming!

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Rogue, Resurrected

A sly rogue is often in good dress.
-Irish saying

So it turns out that I can, in fact, sew in a zipper. It only took four hours. But Rogue is done, and it looks great. Long-term readers of this blog may recall the last time I "finished" this sweater, last May, and there are many photos in that post that show some of cabley details better. Yesterday's photo needed a flash, since - ironically - the day I finished Rogue was the coolest and drizzly-est day in a while. Not only did I finish Rogue, I got to wear it.

Pattern: Does anyone really need the link?
Yarn: Briggs and Little Heritage, from this yarn excursion
Needles: various US 7s that were lying around
Notes: Now that the zipper is in, there's no doubt that it looks far better with the zipper than the toggles.
Best Thing About This Project: The fit, the hood, the fact htat I can finally wear it after 10 months of it being "finished."

My original plan involved two zippers for the March UFO Resurrection, but I'm going to call finishing Rogue sufficient. I'll get extra credit if I can muster up the energy to sew the zipper into Ribby Cardi . . .

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Friday, March 16, 2007

Zippers I Have Known

As the poet said, "Only God can make a tree,"
probably because it's so hard to figure out how to get the bark on.
- Woody Allen

So, you know how I love my UFO Resurrection, right? Well, March is that month of bitter struggles, cold wind, and the fierce determination of . . . something. I don't live in New England anymore, and while I really missed October, did I tell you how I went swimming and rollerblading and engaged on the beach last weekend and didn't freeze at all? It's nice. At any rate, March is the month when I will face my UFO demons - Zippers. Both my Rogue and my Ribby Cardi have been languishing for 10 and 3 months, respectively, lacking nothing by a zipper. And today I will pull the skeleton out of my closet and explain it all. Zippers have haunted me since I started knitting sweaters.

I was talking to a friend's younger sister the other day, and apparently I am out of style. And here I try so hard to keep up with all of the trends . . . Zip-front hooded sweatshirts are no longer the obligatory college dorm item. Now all the cool kids are wearing pullovers. I love my zip-front hoodies. Throw them on over anything.

So I like my cardigans. And while buttons have their place, nothing beats a zippered cardigan for a certain devil-may-care-je-ne-sais-quoi, a little panache, if you will. (You will, right? Because my friend's sister won't.)

Now in my life I've owned many zip-front cardigans, but I've only knit two (that have zippers already). After knitting and wearing and loving the first one - that would be Rosedale from Knitty, with a few mods, on your left - I realized one major fundamental difference between my zipper and the other zippers.

The zipper lining. Or whatever the piece of knitted fabric behind the zipper is called. All of my commercially knitted cardis have what looks like a second button (ok, zipper) band behind the zipper in either the same yarn or a very similar but lighter weight yarn. The other major difference? The fact that they sew their zippers on well enough so that they don't start coming undone after two years of careful wearing.

Witness my previous attempt:

Note how this sweater (from a recent FCEK in Lionbrand Cotton Ease) has a crocheted border up the middle. I tried to crochet a second, inner border and place the zipper between the two. (And excuse the bad photos. I think my camera battery was dead.)I don't know if my tension was off, or if using the same yarn (a heavy worsted weight) made it too bulky, but you can see from the photos above that the zipper doesn't lie perfectly flat. It looks OK on, but still not perfect. Clearly, those kinds of zipper linings don't work. Or at least with my rudimentary crochet skills. I've recently seen Grumperina's grosgrain ribbons, but I'm not sure that's the look for either Rogue or Ribby Cardi. And that just strikes me as one more thing to sew on crookedly.

I've actually started sewing to Rogue, and it's going OK. Slow, but steady. Ribby, on the other hand, I can't decide on the length. How much do I stretch the band to fit the zipper, or how much do I let it bunch up, or when do I give up and take it to a tailor to do? More drastic photos to follow. I told you this was a process.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Socks on the Town

California is a fine place to live - if you happen to be an orange.
-Fred Allen

Continuing along our theme, here's one of the best things about living in San Diego: These are no just any two pairs of socks. Oh, no. This is a meeting of two socks never before seen on their respective blogs. Nova, everyone's favorite Archivist on the Edge, was visiting San Diego. (It turns out that people love to visit San Diego.) And we realized that our new socks just really needed to meet. The socks wanted to go yarn shopping, but the nearest yarn shop was tragically closed on a Monday. So they settled for ice cream. Isn't it fun that other people take their socks out to ice cream, too?

The sock that looks much further along is Nova's Trekking travel sock. Mine is a feather and fan sock in KnitPicks Sock Memories. So far, I'm loving the spring-like colors, but witholding judgement on the yarn itself. We shall see . . .

But not tonight. I came home post-call, stayed awake for, oh, about an hour before deciding I needed a 2 hour nap. And now I just woke up, 7 hours later, just in time to go back to bed. I was going to knit this afternoon . . . but no luck. You will have to hold your breaths for the scintillating tales of Rowena's ruffles, my lifelong struggles with zippers, and all other knitting news. Apparently I need 14 hours of sleep today.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

The Good News Keeps On Coming

When the first baby laughed for the first time,
the laugh broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about,
and that was the beginning of fairies.
James Matthew Barrie

The now-affianced beau has well and truely discovered the joy of handknit socks for himself. Seriously, I'm trying to get photos. But after a long night on call, the socks could use a little bath before being fit for public viewing.

In the meantime, let's talk about other happy news. There's a new baby on the way in my circle of friends, and, without naming names, let's just say that inspires a lot of baby knitting books, baby knitting yarns, and even some actual baby knitting for a mom who insists on cotton only (allergies). Finally, a great use for my extensive CottonEase stash! After extensive searches through every baby knitting book in three bookstores, I picked up Debbie Bliss' Simply Baby, which is full of cute patterns that are simple enough even I am not bothered by the author's complete and utter refusal to ever use something as plebian as schematics. But I digress.

So, the baby sweater. I started with this cute little gem called something creative like "Hooded Jacket" for several very good reasons:
  1. It was cute.
  2. It was portable - only one color, lots of stockinette.
  3. I had just the right amount of yarn in a great bright color, perfect for the anticipated baby in question. (And, actually, I'm sure I'll have enough for matching booties given the great yardage of CottonEase.)
  4. I could start right away.
  5. Who swatches for baby garments anyway?

#4 may have been the most important reason, now that I think about it . . . But it makes great reading/studying knitting. It's constructed in pieces and then joined for a raglan yoke with a hood added. I could have made it even easier and converted it to the round, but that would have actually required some thought. It's easier to knit as written and they are only little seams. Nothing major.

Above you see the back up to the armholes, and since taking that photo (on the beach chair again - this is great SoCal knitting!) I've finished both fronts also up to the armholes. A couple of sleeves, a yoke, a hood - something tells me picking the button could be the hardest part!

In the interest of full disclosure, I also have Louisa Harding's Natural Knits for Babies and Moms on the way . . . Last month my Book-of-the-Month Project involved getting rid of two knitting books I thought I'd never use, and I actually got rid of three. So I figured I had some bonus points with the bookshelf . . . And I do have all that wonderful CottonEase in bright unisex baby colors!


Friday, March 09, 2007

A Study in Contrasts

I wish the world to possess the glorious fruits of my labor.
-Giordano Bruno

I was going to show you the beau's new handknit socks today, but he snuck off and wore them to work before I could get a good photo. At least he likes them . . . In the meantime, I'll show you my newest socks.

New England Socks
Pattern: New England Socks from Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road
Yarn: Artyarns Ultramerino - very very soft, but rather poor yardage (I needed a full 2 skeins for my small (US 6.5, EU 37) feet, and very expensive because I would need 2 skeins for anyone else
Needles: Clover Bamboo US 1 dpns
Notes: I think I did fewer repeats than called for given my short feet. This is a delightful pattern that hardly took any time at all when I was actually working on it. . . and finally got done as my February 2007 UFO Resurrection.
Best Thing About This Project: They may be inspired by New England, but the lace and soft wool are great for San Diego. Check out how they look lounging on my beach chair!

I love this pattern. I want to be Nancy Bush when I come back in a future life. But I do have a slight issue with my Eye of Partridge heel. On the first half of the heel flap, the contrast between the knit and slipped stitches is pronounced, and it's all texturey - waffley. On the second half, it's basically flat. I'm sure it has something to do with the tension on the working yarn as I work across my dpns, but I can't seem to vary it enough to make a difference. Any ideas?

And yes, they look great with my new ring. Everything does. Even the "dress scrubs" and "dress Timex" I wear to work!


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

My Ring, And Other Delightful Details

How can we know the dancer from the dance?
-W.B. Yeats

Thank you all for the delightful comments. You'll be pleased to know that my (affianced) Beau has read them all, too. He's a little awed by the sheer number, but happy to know that you're all rooting for his collection of handknits. More on that later. In the meantime . . . I know you want more photos.

It is suprisingly hard to take photographs of diamonds. Yes, my life is really just that hard these days. The only nighttime photos that came out in any way were the black and white ones, but in the daylight I think we managed to capture a fraction of how gorgeous this ring is.

My sister (and maid-of-honor-to-be) was a little concerned from the black-and-white photos that it might have been platinum. Never fear. I have a strong preference for yellow gold, and the beau has been aware of that for some time. First the details, such as I know them, about the ring:

Apparently it is something of an overwhelming experience to shop for an engagement ring. The beau was overheard (by the mutual friend he was smart enough to take with him) to say, "Gold. Shiny. There are so many!" in somewhat frantic tones. So with a little redirection and calming, Jen (who does knit, by the way) led him down a road towards pretty rings. I have it on good authority that he chose among many final contenders and picked this one by himself. Certainly, he had no help from me except that it should be yellow gold. The setting is a cathedral setting and the side diamonds are apparently channel cut. The things you learn. Personally, I just focus on how wonderfully it catches the light in all directions. Apparently, it is even more overwhelming to propose to your girlfriend. So I'm told. But he did a wonderful job, and I was only a little bit suspicious by the constellation of events preceding. I had a hint of suspicion when Jen (yes, the same Jen) dragged me out after work on Friday to get our nails done. Saturday the beau and I were both on call. And Sunday morning, in the haze of post-call rounds, the beau changed plans. We were going out to dinner. I got a little more suspcious. Then we went to The Fishmarket, where we had our first date. It's just not a post-call kind of restaurant, if you know what I mean. I was really beginning to suspect. And then we ended up on the beach on Coronado Island. Really suspicious. And sure enough . . .

We walked down towards the water. And the beau got down on one knee, gave me my ring, and proposed. - I don't know what to tell you that I don't tell you everyday, but I love you and want you to be my wife. Will you marry me? - Obviously, I said yes. Civil marriage in July before he goes away for flight surgery training, then the whole church wedding in April when he's back. Fortunately, my mom, my sister, and the wonderful flitgirl are ready. In the same phone call in which I told my sister that I was engaged, she informed me that she had the bridesmaids' dresses picked out. How did I feel about pink? Sure enough, there were photos in my email 12 hours later.

And speaking of clothing, I was wearing my favorite handknit sweater when he proposed. And the now-affianced beau? Let's just say that his sock drawer is a little fuller. I had my suspicions, you know . . . Details on that tweedy goodness to follow.


Monday, March 05, 2007

For Love

And whatever I I do
will become forever what I've done.
-Wislawa Szymborska

Someone really wants a pair of handknit socks . . .

Details, and color photos to follow.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

Understanding Waking

We have learned beter than that, and know it more;
for it is waking that understands sleep
and not sleep that understands waking.
- C.S. Lewis

They are finished. My February UFO. My ode to New England. My 102nd pair of socks. The reason I ever bought the book Knitting on the Road. (It was the first knitting pattern book I ever bought, and I bought it "for inspiration" at a time I could barely purl.)The lovely photos and full details, however, were hijacked by my post-call "nap." Notice the pajamas? Yeah, I thought so. I'm off to throw these in a lavendar bath, so I can show you lovely photos later this week.

How is it that I am this tired when I spend all my off time sleeping?


Friday, March 02, 2007

Flying Objects

We all know that UFOs are real.
All we need to ask is where do they come from.
-Edgar D. Mitchell, Apollo 14 Astronaut

Have I told you about how much I love The UFO Resurrection? Turns out that you don't actually have to finish the project in the month, you just have to actually add in back into the rotation and do some good work on it. If February had any more than 28 days - literally, even one - I would have finished. There's just one toe left. But that's progress. And it counts. Look for the FO sometime next week. And a whole new UFO to be resurrected in March.

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