Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Another One Done

tiptoe done Phew!
I finally finished my TipToe Socks!
They've been hovering on the verge of being done for over a year and I made the final push.
Of course that final push was two hours of weaving in ends, but when all you are doing all day is laying on the couch watching TV and knitting, two hours of weaving in ends doesn't seem so daunting.
And that was just the last two hours. Keep in mind, I've worked on the ends previously as well.
Yeah, I won't be making these again, no matter how adorable they are. Might think twice about striped socks as well.
tulip heel

Pattern Stats
The pattern is TipToe from the Spring 03 issue of Knitty.
Needles US1
Yarn Lang Jawool in red, white, blue, yellow, and green. (as you can see) I have bunches of each left over.
Worked the tulips in duplicate stitch as working them in intarsia didn't look good.
What I learned? Nothing, apparently, since I hit the same snag when I did the Arrgyles. No where to put all the stinking ends!
Still, they are too cute for words.

Moving On
madelintosh 1 In the mean time, I'm also zipping along on my Madelintosh Glazed Sock socks in the Robin's Egg color way.
The yarn is still soft, lovely, and silky. Plain stockinette stitch is nice and relaxing for a change.
I worked the heel flap in heel stitch with a garter edge. Just turned the heel and am ready to pick up the gusset.
So I must fly. We captured all the Twilight Zone marathon during the day and are catching up now. Hubby is making a Boboli pizza for dinner. With the snow, we decided on a quiet night in (and I've been down for the count with a headache anyway).
Until tomorrow then.

Happy New Year! May your yarn not tangle in 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

More Dangerous By the Day

All my poking at Photoshop is starting to pay off.
I would have you turn your attention to my new banner header thingy up above.
You will notice that I have changed it from the plain text one Blogger will let you input.
You will notice I've added a picture of the pups.
I've tried to add pictures before, but the system stretches them to fit and they end up all distorted. Well, I've figured out how to resize the image to get it to do what I want.

You might have noticed this version that appeared a few days ago:

Same general idea, but the pups have green/red eye and the writing is flat and boring.
In the new improved version you will notice I did my best to painstakingly remove the demon puppy effect.
And I poked at the software some more and figured out how to finesse the text. I knew there had to be a way to jazz it up.
The text in the version I slapped together the other day looked flat and fuzzy.
You will notice I managed to add a shadow, add a beveled effect, and change the font sizes so they decrease as you read down.
You might also have noticed that I'm just as pleased as punch with myself. (grin)
I tried making the title wavy and stuff, but it wasn't doing anything for me, so I left it straight.
Ok, I have to get back to swatching now.

I'm working up the cable samples for Inspiration, the sweater I want to make based on the one in "The Holiday." It looks like we'll work on samples during Beth's class, but some of my planned cables are tricky, so I need quiet until I get the hang of them.
Hubby and I finally started watching the Heroes season last night, which was not conducive to complicated cable swatching, so I pulled the Madelintosh Glazed Sock yarn back out (quiver) and swatched with that.
I got 7 sts/inch on a US2. Which is the same gauge I get on Jitterbug. I'm surprised since Jitterbug feels thicker.
I worked a few rows on US1, but surprisingly, my gauge didn't change much. However, I didn't like the fabric as much so I'm going to stick with the 2s.
Of course, getting the Jitterbug gauge makes my life easier since I can just follow that formula and not have to worry about thinking.
Plain socks are the plan. I haven't made a pair of plain socks in a while (well, except for mom's bed socks). Since I'm not familiar with how this yarn's colors work up plain seems the way to go.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Arrgyles HO!

Yeah, I've been MIA lately. Between going up to the in-law's for Christmas and catching Hubby's cold (it was inevitable, I just can't remember not to kiss him), I've been down for the count.
Actually, I came down with the cold full blown on Christmas Day, so I spent most of it sleeping. I'm feeling much better now.
But I haven't been feeling so poorly that I couldn't knit!
In fact, I have two completed projects to share with you.
Um, no, not Nell. Um, no, not Sundae either.

Arrgyles Have Arrived
As you can see from the picture on the left, I've finally finished my Arrgyle Pirate Socks!
To recap. The pattern is based on the idea from the Moth Heaven blog. She has a PDF of the chart of just the skull portion. So I had to trot off and chart the rest of the sock myself. Oh, and the chart she provides is for one skull on the front, but I did a skull on each side (which she discusses).
Needles US1.
Yarn: Baby Ull from Dalegarn. One skien each purple, pink, green, and yellow. Used almost all the purple, but have a lot of the other colors left over.
arrgyles done 2 Let's see, what would I change?
Or, better to ask, "What did I learn?"
First off, my chart is off. The diagonal line don't always meet correctly. Sometimes they just cross, sometimes they come together as a box, a little consistency would be nice. (You might remember, I'm all about consistency.) Also, these crossing don't always occur on the same row when the diamonds come together, which, I believe, is how argyles are supposed to be.
This issue might be remedied with a higher stitch count. I whined in a previous post about not liking the way the stitches open up, so increasing the stitch count is not out of the question.
Before I take that step however, I want to wear them a couple times to check the fit.
All of this information will come into play when I attempt the Tartan Argyles. (and I just realized I never put that yarn in my Ravelry stash, huh.)

Sewing Workarounds
Also, I would not suggest you make argyles if you are terribly adverse to the mattress stitch. I had to sew up the back of the leg (which wasn't too bad) and both sides of the foot (which was torture. It took at least three tries to get both sides to come out even). And don't get me started on weaving in the ends. That was the longest part. I thought it would never end. I suspect a normal pair of argyles wouldn't be so bad; it was all the ends for the skulls that did me in. There just wasn't anywhere to put them all! You will not be surprised to hear I won't be making skull socks again any time soon.
I'm thinking, when I do make the Tartan Socks, I might try to be very clever and work the foot based on Elizabeth Zimmerman's moccasin socks. As I understand it (I have her Knitter's Almanac which includes the pattern), the structure is awfully similar. You knit the instep first, then pick up around the edge and knit the sole down with funky decreases. As opposed to the argyle construction I just used of knitting both pieces flat separately and then sewing them together.
Ok, I think I've beaten the poor Arrygles to death.

Bed Socks
Socks for Mom doneI finished Mom's bed socks back on Dec. 22, but that was right before we went out of town and such, so I didn't have a chance to blog about them.
As you might be able to tell, they are two different sizes.
The smaller one is actually the second one. I swear I wrote down row counts and such when I made the first one, so they should match.
I suspect gauge is the culprit here. I did a lot of work on the second one when I was stuck in traffic in the snow storm the Friday before I finished these. I think it would be safe to say I was a little tense and I guess that came out in my knitting.
Well, I'm going to send them to her anyway. It would be a shame to rework the smaller one to be bigger and have her say they are too big. I figure this way she'll be able to check the fit and I can adjust from there. It is also entirely possible she'll like them this way as she can be a little quirky.
(Hi, Mom! yes, I did just call you quirky for all the world to see. And, hey, when you leave comments, sign them, ok? Otherwise you just show up as anonymous.)
I should get these in the mail before she gets it in her head to drive up and get them.

Vacation, vacation
Ok, I think that's quite enough for one post.
I'm on vacation this week. My company closes between Christmas and New Years, it's very nice. Plenty of time to pester Hubby and the pups, and get some knitting done. Speaking of which, time to scrounge for lunch and move on to my next project!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

And if you don't celebrate Christmas, please accept the sentiment behind the greeting in the spirit in which it is meant. :-)

Monday, December 22, 2008


snow pups We were smacked with that snow storm Friday afternoon, causing us to spend most of Saturday digging ourselves out, rather than Christmas shopping as we had planned.
We have a big driveway. We can fit, oh, at least six cars parked two abreast and three deep. In addition to shear size, the driveway is crescent shaped and slopes toward the house, so if we don't shovel we could get trapped. Well, with the sedan at least, the SUV (aka puppy mobile) is usually ok.
The situation was not improved by the fact that Hubby has been battling a cold since at least Wednesday. I help shovel, but he is the power. He was pretty wiped by it.
Then, to add insult to injury, it snowed again on Sunday.
Well, the pups seemed to enjoy it. But I'll have to try to clear some of the snow off the back porch. I can only open the screen door a puppy-width. If we get any more snow I won't be able to let them out.

At the Risk of Sounding Blasphemous
ouch I feel like I'm developing the stigmata. However, as I have been in no way pious enough over the last few years to deserve such a manifestation, I'm sure the crack on my palm is more related to dry winter skin. Drinking more water and applying gobs of hand lotion will hopefully clear it up.
Fortunately, it doesn't interfere with my knitting, unlike shoveling the driveway. On the other hand (haha), the crack on the tip of my right thumb is wince inducing (not that it is stopping me).

Speaking of Knitting
The bed socks for my mom are virtually done. I just have to kitchener the second toe shut. I'll take a picture tonight.
Yes, I went to bed with 20 little stitches to kitchener. This changing weather has been killing me and I'm lucky I managed to sit upright long enough to finish the knitting.
They look big, even though they are based on gauge and the measurements she gave me. I suppose I'm not accustomed to the appearance of socks in worsted weight yarn. I took them to the store when I had to work Sunday (it was snowing at home I thought we'd be dead, but it was raining at the store so we were hopping) and the blond L tried them on. They fit reasonably well (it a wee bit small) and it sounds like her feet are bigger than mom's, so I should be ok.
Now I just have to mail the things.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What Mistake?

It's scandalous, I know, but there is an errata page for 101 Luxury One-Skein Wonders.
It says there are corrections to the chart for my Top-Down Alpaca Mitts!
Now I have a burning desire to get the book and compare it to the charts I sent them. When I was looking at it online, I noticed the decreases they have are K2Tog and K2-tbl. I could swear I used K2Tog and SSK. But as long as the slant it correct it doesn't matter.
Strangely, I tried to download the corrections here at home and it pissed off my iMac (wouldn't open), but it worked fine on the Windows based laptop at the store.
Oh well, the comparison can wait until another day.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Let Me Out!

in bottle
Originally uploaded by TravelingAnn

Ok, I think I've had my fill of putting myself in dangerous situations through the magic of Photoshop.
Moving on to other, bigger projects...when are those library books due back?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Making the Rounds

Purple Shirt of the Week!: Purple Shirt of the Week: Stay Warm in the Blizzard

The Guy In The Art Department made a blog celebrating the color purple.
Of course, that means everyone in the office is scrambling to find anything purple in their wardrobe so we can be featured. :-)
I scored with a purple turtle neck AND my Purple Jitterbug Socks.
Check it out!

Like a Wild Animal

Dragon puppies First let me start by pointing out that it has been chucking down snow since around 11:30 am. Since it wasn't snowing first thing this morning I trooped into work, like a good little associate editor.
Then Hubby called around noon and ordered me to come home (his school called a snow day Thursday night). And 3.5 hours later, I was home.
Did you get that? Three and a half hours.
Looking on the bright side:
  1. I made it home safe and sound.
  2. I didn't puke, despite my pounding head (this damn weather).
  3. I got a lot of work done on mom's bed sock. Because for at least one of those hours I was standing stock still (well, for half an hour at a time).
Really, the questions are: why the heck did I go in in the first place? and why the heck didn't I leave when the first flake fell?
Hubby called periodically to check on me—I wasn't calling him as I didn't want him to worry about why I was calling. When I was on the final leg he put a frozen pizza in the oven. Boy howdy, was I starving because, of course, I left the office at lunch time without eating.

I Was Tagged!
So at the beginning of December Riohnna tagged me, but I was so absorbed in my own little world that I didn't respond. And I was feeling whiny because I don't know seven other bloggers to tag, then I decided it was my blog and I could rebel and tag as many or as few as I wanted. :-P so here goes.

Seven Things About Traveling Ann You (Probably) Don't Already Know!
(um, wait, seven weird things? I don't know if I have that many)
  1. I didn't have a middle name growing up. My parents didn't give me one. So when I got married I swung my maiden name over.
  2. I'm a direct descendant of the Russian General Michael Kutuzov. He defeated Napoleon by retreating out of Moscow and is a character in War and Peace. I like to remind Hubby of this whenever he is teaching his Napoleon section.
  3. As much as I love, love, love my puppies I grew up a cat person and am still scared of other big dogs.
  4. I driven across the country 1.5 times by myself. I've driven across the country 2.5 times with my mom. (drat I should use those as two separate ones.) See, I don't call myself Traveling Ann for nothing.
  5. I don't like meatloaf and will do my level best to avoid eating it.
  6. I have one license plate from every car I've personally owned. Hubby let me hang them in the laundry room.
  7. I've never had a broken bone or a major operation. (drat, again, I should have used those for two.)
Ok, maybe not so weird, but I think fairly random.

Here Are The Rules
  1. Be nice and link to the person(s) who tagged you.
  2. Share 7 random, weird, unknown things about yourself on your blog.
  3. Tag 7 other people to join the meme.
  4. Comment on their blogs so they know
As we've already established, I'm a rebel. So I'm just going to tag Ms. Create. :-)

Pajama Time
I don't care that it's only 5:30. I'm cold and cranky and I've had a long day. Time to snuggle a puppy and knit.
Stay safe. Stay warm.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Baru will eat anything.

Phun with Photoshop

Note: no knitting content ahead, just a bunch of silly pictures.
(This was my first attempt. I'm pleased with it, I figured out shadows! The cow picture is from our honeymoon in CA. The sock you recognize.)

My current quest to learn HTML and now CSS (with Dreamweaver as a platform) is really a desire to learn more about web design.
When this fever first gripped me, I realized I would also need to learn Photoshop if I was to truly bend the blog to my will.
So I got the Dreamweaver Missing Manual and Teach Yourself Photoshop out of the library.
The Dreamweaver book is massive and I'm working my way through it. (One thing slowing me down is all these programs are on Hubby's school laptop so I have to bide my time and pounce when he isn't using it. You might remember all this nonsense started over the summer when I had open access.)
The Photoshop book isn't too big, but it's boooring. I'm not sure if that assessment is due to the book or if it is internal to me, since Photoshop is peripheral to my true goals I'm not as interested. (However the Guy In The Art Department also thought this series is boring.)

Diving In
I read the first three chapters, then tossed it aside and just started poking at the program.
You will recognize the Arrygle Sock. I got a freaky clear picture of it, so it seemed logical to use.
After attacking the cow, I moved on to trying to feed the sock to Baru.
On the left you see my attempt. As you can see, I hit some button that burned in an image of the original giant sock. I could have sworn I un-did that, but obviously I didn't.
I also couldn't figure out how to get the sock under his leg. (I showed the pictures to Boss Man the next day and he said all casual like "oh you just erase this part." Well, you might, but I couldn't figure it out!)
So I asked the Guy In The Art Department for a crash course. Since I said I wanted to "feed the sock to Baru" he started to put it in Baru's mouth. But that wasn't my original vision, so I asked him to move it.
And he did indeed erase Baru's arm, just like Boss Man said.
I think the problem was I was thinking of it as a 3D object and trying to figure out how to physically put the sock under his arm. But really it is sort of an optical illusion and negative space thing.
As you can see, he also got rid of the Demon Puppy Eye.
(oh, the pictures in the blog aren't hosted/linked to Flickr like I usually do, but they are out there if you want to see bigger versions.)

Late Night Try
My third attempt Tuesday night ran into bedtime, so it fell apart a little.
That's me(!) on our honeymoon. I was laying on a rock outcrop and was just sitting up when Hubby snapped the picture.
My first idea was to erase part of the rock outcrop so it would look like I was falling and have the sock kicking me. That didn't work out too well. I got bored with trying to wipe out the rocks, it was bedtime, and there wasn't enough room on the right for the sock anyway.
So I switched gears and just made the sock step on me. For this one I figured out how to flip the image so the foot was facing the other direction.
Boss Man threatened to send this one to a website for Photoshop disasters. He pointed out the sock shouldn't be casting a shadow on the sky. I pointed out the shadow on the sock wasn't in the same direction as the shadow on my legs.

Stalking the Laptop
I didn't get to play more last night. I had to type up my stealth sock pattern so I can get it to F to test knit. And I had to type up the corrections to my Cat's Pajamas Socks so P could keep going. That all cut into both knitting and Photoshop practice.

But Why Do I Bother?
Despite all my efforts, I'm not feeling very sanguine about the blog the last few days.
There are so many other, better blogs out there. I can't compete, I should just pull the plug.
This despair was brought on by this blog.
I think it is just so visually stunning (I haven't even read it to see if the content is any good, I'm so distracted by the pretty pictures).
The layout is lovely (but keep in mind I covet the three column layout).
And the pictures look like something out of a magazine (but I peeked at her profile and she's a photographer, so that explains that).
But even once I figure out web design, I doubt my blog will look that good. pout.
Let's see: I knit and crochet for my own enjoyment.
I blog for...uh...
I blog....
I blog because I enjoy writing and blogging is writing, and the trappings don't matter.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I Could Have Told You That

There's a little article in the NY Times from Monday about a study that shows acupuncture is effective in treating headaches.
Score one for being stuck full of pins.
Which I will be doing again at the end of the month. I should get back on a maintenance program.

Jealous yet?

saki embers
Originally uploaded by TravelingAnn

Yippee! Sock yarn stash!
So there is a magazine out there that you might not have heard of called Yarn Market News. The target audience is LYS owners, designers, yarn manufacturers, and others on the business end of the fiber industry. As far as I know, it isn't sold on newsstands, so don't bother looking.

(see, this fussed up formatting is the reason I don't initiate posts out of flickr! And the little "posted by" tag under the picture never shows up either.)
A few months ago I sent them a story idea—and they accepted it! (blink blink) Perhaps it helps that I work for a business magazine in my day job, which gave me the right mindset. Maybe there is something to this consumer vs. business thing after all. (Having Cynthia make the introduction probably didn't hurt either.)

Well, they liked my article, and I like the paycheck. (Actually, we liked each other so much they invited me to send ideas for the next issue and now I'm scrambling to find sources!) Anyway. Usually that would be "found money" we could just splurge with. If it wasn't the holidays. And if we hadn't just bought a new roof.

See Why I Love him?
Sunday morning, before heading to the store, I said to Hubby, "I'm fighting the urge to buy yarn to celebrate my article being published." sigh.

And he said, "Oh, honey, you can buy some yarn." Now, don't you just love it when they say that? Not that I need his permission to spend my money, but we consult on the family finances. (Of course, allowing me to buy yarn opens the door to him buying wine, but in the moment I didn't care.)

Sox 1477 So I bought that Saki yarn by Prism you see above in the Embers colorway. It is shades of brown and red. And, since I was feeling generous, I also bought this Sox yarn by Berroco to make Hubby a pair of socks.
(Generous, right, giggle. We all know I'm the one who is really benefiting.)
Now the trick is actually starting to use up some of this yarn I own. Or continuing to use up.

Socks for Mom Update
As expected, the worsted weight on US7 is moving along quickly. If I was still on the train I bet they'd be done!
Based on gauge and target measurements I should be on track, but they look big. Guess I'm just used to that itty-bitty sock yarn.
I started the heel flap of sock 1 last night after dinner, but then realized I really needed to do the Christmas cards already, so I had to focus on them instead. sigh. But now they are done (yippee!) and I'm free to knit tonight.

Right, aside from baking cookies tonight. Snicker, I left a stick of butter in the cupboard with the dishes to soften. I wonder what Hubby will think when he finds it. snicker.
I have mentioned that Samson is a butter thief, right? He loves butter (probably my fault some how) and will take any unprotected butter on the counter. Usually I put butter on top of the microwave, in the misguided assumption he can't reach it (he's probably tall enough), but I don't like the grease spot it leave. So, the cupboard it is!

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's Alive!

sour dough starter Hey, Mom! Look at how well my sourdough starter is doing!
With the oven fixed, I am filled with a desire to bake stuff. Hubby was gone all day Saturday at a debate (he's the team adviser), so I was free to throw flour around without restraint.
When I was single in TX and had no life, I used to bake bread from scratch all the time. I was got quite good at it, if I do say so myself.
Then I got Hubby, and the puppies, and bread from scratch took too much time. When we were dating Hubby swiped his parents' bread machine for me (they never used it), but I never quite got the hang of it.

Poor Flour, to Come to Such an End
So I jumped back in with a loaf of wheat bread on Saturday. I think I should have stuck with white for my first time back.finished loaves Sure, they look nice, but the taste leaves something to be desired. (Well, mom seemed to like it, but she always likes my bread, so I take her judgement with a grain of salt.)
Actually, a few grains more salt probably would have helped.
I used it for Hubby's toast this morning and he declared it dense. He smiled when he took his first bite, then pretended to try to feed it to the pups. So I had mercy, made him a slice of commercial toast, and let him feed mine to the pups.
I brought in a slice for Boss Man to try (he bakes bread too). I warned him about what Hubby thought. He didn't have the option of feeding it to the pups, but he agreed with Hubby's assessment. We debated too little salt, too much flour, and the age of my yeast and flour (!). We agreed whole wheat is tricky.

On Saturday I also fished out a souvenir package of San Francisco sourdough starter. I'm not sure how old it is, so it might be either brave or insane of me to try it.
It didn't look like much Saturday, a white sludge on the bottom and a liquid on top. I thought paste. Hubby said puke, which shows how long it's been since he saw any puke.
But when I came down Sunday morning it was all frothy and the liquid was on the bottom. Smells right too. So I have hope it will work out.
Of course, it doesn't look like the picture anymore, I gave it a brisk stir this morning and added a little more flour.
I'm supposed to let it work on the counter for three days and then transfer it to the fridge for a few more. So it should be ready to go by this weekend.

Hubby, of course, has been campaigning for chocolate chip cookies since we scheduled the appointment to get the oven fixed. It's not that I'm denying the boy on purpose, he's the one that ate all my chocolate chips. And I need butter, softened at that. So we're looking at tomorrow or Wednesday before he gets his wish. (I think another reason he turned on the sourdough is because I'm growing it in the cookie jar, which was my chef jar when I was single.)
And I want to bake cinnamon rolls too. More yeast based items! But, again, I need butter.

multi redheartEh, what's that?
Actually, I'm working on a pair of bed socks for my mom. Yeah, don't worry, she doesn't like surprises.
Which is ironic considering she, Aunt K, and my niece "dropped in" for dinner Saturday. Keep in mind, they live four hours away.
Anyway, it worked out because I was able to show her the yarn I'm using. Multi-colored mystery acrylic from my stash. She wanted easy care and not to warm.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

And Another Thing

silky wool yarnI think the stress of my deadlines at work is starting to effect my blogging. I'll have to talk to Boss Man about that.
It's making me forget to tell you things!
In that litany of knitting related obligations I reeled off the other day I forgot to mention a big one.
Beth Brown-Reinsel is coming to Knitting Central on Jan 10 & 11 to teach her two-day workshop on designing your own Aran sweater. My little brain turned off when I heard that.

But, I Have Reason To Learn That
Have you seen that movie The Holiday? Did you not just love that white cabled sweater Cameron Diaz was wearing?
Well, I did, as did a number of knitter out there. After some internet searching, I figured out it was a very expensive, designer, cashmere sweater that was never going to happen in my lifetime. Of course, what I actually wanted was a pattern so I could make one myself.
People have been questing to figure this out. I believe there are already two version available on Ravelry.
Now, although it would be easy enough to get one of them, it wouldn't have the challenge of designing it myself. Also, they stayed true to the fact the sweater appears to be a cardigan. As I don't play well with cardigans (as evidenced by the two years it has taken me to finish the button band on Nell), I was going to switch it to a pullover.

Implements of Destruction
That rusty-red Silky Wool pictured at the beginning of the post is the yarn I intend to use. (Yeah, Arans are traditionally white, whatever.)
Last year I requested and received "Sweater Design in Plain English" with this project in mind, but haven't had time to read it all.
So I'm all braced. The only trick is for homework before the class you are supposed to swatch. I believe in stockinette stitch and then some of the cables you intend to use. (I'd have to check the list to be sure.) And a girl needs time to do that.

Some Is Better Than None
I can only attend the first day of class because I have to work on the second. (I didn't look for a swap because I already had to get a swap for the weekend before so we could attend our niece's wedding.) But I'm pretty sure the first class is going to cover how to measure yourself properly and how to get all the different cables to play nicely. At the least I figure it will set me on the right path. So I have to get stuff organized so I can get swatching!
One lucky thing, my office is closed from Christmas to New Years, so I'll have tons of knitting time then to work on stuff.

Stupid Mohair Cowl, Again
mohair damage Friday was the holiday gathering for Hubby's school. I wore my Mohair Cowl Pullover so I would look festive and adorable. Well, as I was heading into the bathroom at work before getting on the road, the cuff got hooked on the doorknob and wham! I've got a hole.
The big black arrow in the picture is pointing to it.
All previous damage has been snags that I've had to work in (actually the last one on the other cuff is still dangling since it was just a ply and not the whole stand). This is a big nasty break in the cast off edge. I think I'm going to have to pick up stitches a few rows back and reknit the cuff.
I'm really, really annoyed about the whole situation. I was so annoyed after we got home I was like "I wish I never made this sweater." But Hubby said, "But it's so pretty." And the sweater was safe from being fed to the dogs or frogged entirely. Still, I'm not making another one, or even a similar one. It's just too delicate.

Outside Confirmation
Ok, this is going to be totally mushy, so you might want to turn away.
Hubby's history department is four guys and one woman.
She dragged me onto the dance floor at the holiday party. While we were dancing she saw me making faces at Hubby (who was still with the guys by the tables) and leaned over and said, "He loves you so much."
I was surprised but said, "yeah." Because, really, what can you say to that?
Of course, it does make me wonder what he says about me when he's at school.
Apparently, it's all good.

samson barking

samson barking
Originally uploaded by TravelingAnn
Samson and I decided to play a round of indoor fetch today.
Our digital camera records video, but the sound quality is questionable (do I really sound so squeaky?)
And Flickr doesn't seem to stream fast enough to actually watch it.
There is another one from before he starts barking.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

But Didn't You Know?

I am superwoman. I even have the sweater to prove it. stars & stripes done
Anyway. I finished the doily last night. Despite the fact that my head was totally ready to explode. Curse, you, sudden, unseasonal changes in the weather! I'm feeling better now.
doily beforeSo here is a picture of the doily right off the hook. Oh and the other day I said I was using US1 needles, turns out I was on US2. But I used a steel crochet hook for the two rounds of sc and chains.

doily afterAnd here it is after. The pictures aren't very good because the flash went off and washed out the ecru yarn compared to the kitchen island.

(arrgh. I'm home, waiting for the repair man to come look at the oven. Every time the pups hear a noise they bark. I toss them in the bedroom, and it's a false alarm. This has happened three times. Our appointment is between 8 and 9 am. When he finally gets here, I probably won't be able to control them. And when I finally leave for work, they are probably going to tear the house apart.)

In the second photo the doily is still wet and "blocking." I don't have a blocking board or a good place to actually block it. But as I said Aunt L is a knitter/crocheter herself so she'll be able to take care of it.
The doily ended up smaller than I expected, but the pattern was a very regular progression, so I think it would be easier to make it bigger. I'll send her this one and see what she thinks.

Pattern Stats
On Ravelry the pattern is called Spiralen.
It is a Danish pattern, but the English version I followed is here.
I used crochet cotton and it used hardly any at all. At this size I'm sure I could get a few more out of the one ball. Actually, I'd already cracked this ball for another project so I wan't even working off a full ball (quiet you) and I have plenty left.
The pattern was wicked easy and quick. I think you could do it in many different needle size yarn combinations for different sizes, styles, and looks.
Which all means I shouldn't need to kill myself if she loves it and wants five more.
She will want more doilies of some sort. I think between four and six total. I don't remember. She said she would pay me to, but we never settled on a price.

One Strange Thing
I'm not a big doily maker. As I might have mentioned, I crocheted myself one pineapple doily for the living room and never made it's mate.
What I can't figure out is I have this open ball of thread, and another unopened ball in the same color. So I figure they are the same.
But this doily doesn't look like my doily. The thread in my doily looks thicker and the color is slightly darker. Maybe I have to root around in the attic stash to confirm. Or maybe the thickness is a factor of crochet vs knit and the color is that mine is around four years old and has only been washed once.
What? It just sits on the coffee table looking pretty. It's not like it's a towel that gets actively dirty.

Ok, I think I'll head downstairs now. Or maybe not, the closer we are the to front door the harder it will be to convince the pups to go into the bedroom.
Geez, I hope this guy shows up soon, I set up a 10 am interview for my article. I might have to...oh good he's here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Mmm, Soft

Holy Smokes! I'm finally using the Glazed Sock yarn from Madelintosh that I bought back in like February.
It is so soft and yummy!
Which is a good lesson in being quicker off the mark when it comes to using new yarn because I'm pretty sure we (i.e., KC) are out of this yarn and I don't know when we'll be getting more in. (On the other hand we just put out this interesting looking sock yarn called Happy Feet that needs further investigation. Damn you, Yarn Diet! The problem with sock yarn is it seems so attainable, "Oh, $20 for one skein? And I get an entire pair of socks? That won't effect the budget at all." But it's a slippery slope and I'm being strong.)
Actually, I'm not even actually making anything with the Glazed Sock; I'm just kind of swatching with it.
Remember my Cat's Pajamas Socks? Well, I wrote up the pattern and P is test knitting it for me, but it turns out the heel flap set-up is such gibberish that even I can't figure out what my goal was! So I'm knitting that section in an attempt to remember and clarify.

Going All Stream of Consciousness On You
I really need to get some focus in my knitting life. Focus might help in my professional life, too. We're at the end of an issue cycle at work. This time is always crazy, but things seem extra crazy the last two weeks for some reason. Actually, I have an interview at 1 pm for an article I'm writing for the March issue, so if this post cuts out abruptly, you'll know why.
Knitting projects. Right. I have so many going on, I'm getting a little scattered and breathless.


So I'm working on a doily for my mother-in-law's friend. Aunt L, who is not a relation but has been a close friend for so long she gets the title, is a former knitter and crocheter herself (apparently she's the one who taught my MIL to crochet!), but can't anymore because of hand problems.
Back over the summer she was at the in-laws when we were. She asked me to make her doilies, but she didn't want anything frilly and she didn't want pineapples (gasp).
I was after a knit pattern, since we've already established with my Peacock Socks that extended crochet hurts my wrist. I found one on Ravelry, but it has taken me this long to get around to it. (Yeah, I should be putting in links, but if you are on Ravelry, you can find it through my projects.)
The doily has a spiral design and is only 33 rounds of knitting with 2 rows of crochet to finish. So, although I'm using crochet cotton and US1 dpns, it's whipping up in a flash.

Peacock Socks

My original plan was to submit the Peacock Socks to that Think Outside the Sox contest from XRX. But I rechecked the info yesterday and the deadline is Jan. 1, so that totally isn't going to happen.
Everyone at the store was excited when we first heard about the contest, until I read the entry info and annouced we all had to enter in the "professional" category because we are "paid to sell yarn." Sigh.
I figured my chances were slim considering all the good designers out there and going up aginst professionals just narrowed my chances more. Add to that getting annoyed with the pattern and putting them aside for months, and it all fell apart. Still, I'll finish them eventually because I think they'll be adorable.

Joy of Charlene Socks.
My new brilliant idea is to write up the pattern for my Joy of Charlene socks and submit it to Knitty. Then I'll be famous (if they accept it).
But writing up a pattern takes time too.

Socks for Mom
My mom has requested a pair of bed socks. She's down with worsted weight, so they shouldn't take long to make, and really I have until Christmas, but it's a matter of sitting down and doing it. Especially with this long list of other projects already in progress.

But the best one is, and you didn't hear this from me, Hubby is jealous of my new poncho! How adorable is that? He is always looking for ways to keep his neck and chest warm without overheating the rest of himself and he has identified my poncho as a way to do that.
Mine is waaay to small for him (I had him try it on) and he would only wear it in the house.
The trick is reconsiling the yarn diet with the urge to make something for Hubby. I do have some yellow and black Wool Ease in stash that would probably be enough. Since he won't be out in public with it, color doesn't matter much.

As you can see, I have a lot on my plate! So I must find a way to prioritize.
Actually, I must go launch a new word document so I'm ready to take notes when these people call at 1.

Monday, December 8, 2008


Cup of Darjeeling TeaAfter spending all that time recently complaining about my missing tea, I thought I should probably tell you it finally arrived.
On Thursday, actually. :-)
I order from an online store called British Express. I've been ordering for a few years, but like I said tea lasts me a while, so I've probably place around four orders. They carried the Jacksons of Piccadilly teas I liked before they were discontinued, now they still carry the JoP white teas.
Some things I like
  • once you set up an account they send you e-mail announcing sales and coupons (I got 10% off for buying loose tea)
  • they often add a free sample to your order
  • they have little $2 sample pouches of most of the teas, which make several cups for me, so you can test drive before you buy a whole 1/4 pound or more.
They handled my missing tea well. As soon as I let them know FedEx said the original package was gone for good they shipped me out a new one through the US mail. (of course I didn't get a free sample, but I was expecting that.)

The tea comes packaged in foil lined bags with a resealable zipper closure. Well, it would be Tea orderresealable if I wasn't suddenly incompetent when it comes to opening packages and managed to cut the paper below the zipper. sigh.
It didn't matter, really. Since I'm a bit of a pack-rat, I've kept a collection of tea tins and transferred the new tea into some of the empty tins. Now I just have to tape the labels on.

Dealing With Lost Packages
Now I'm sure FedEx delivers thousands of packages properly and on time every day. However, in my corner of the world, the only package that matters is mine.
But the situation got me to thinking about how it's the holiday season and more packages are going to be getting shipped.
I'd like to offer some suggestions for dealing with it.
  1. Don't be mean to the person who can help you. Remember the person answering the customer service number probably never set eyes on your package. Although they are representing the company, it is not their personal fault your package is missing. It is their job to help you, but they might help you better if you are nice and polite. (I think I managed this one, I didn't yell or raise my voice. It is possible I was a little over aggressive toward the end there when I asked the woman what the heck happened.)
  2. Get the shipper involved. Although the package was coming to me, and the customer service reps were talking to me, I got the impression the shipper would have more influence over the situation. Why this would be I don't know. Maybe it is a security thing, if someone had intercepted my tracking number they could have called and redirected the package, so maybe only the shipper can make changes.
  3. Get insurance, or pay in a way that offers protection. I ended up OK in the end, but it's probably a good idea to have something to fall back on to help cover replacement costs.
Well, I think that's it for today. After finishing the poncho I turned around and finished the stealth sock, so I should be able to write that pattern up now. Then I started a doily. Maybe more on that tomorrow.
My mom e-mailed me this morning and asked why "the blog sounds like a rant." She didn't specify which post. Well, I knew I was pretty cranky and pathetic last week, I guess it showed. But I'm feeling better now and will hopefully be perkier!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Poncho Power!

poncho doneThe Solo Cropped Poncho is finished!
I wove in the end of the tail around 8 am yesterday.

Stats Recap

The pattern is 04 Cropped Poncho from Rebecca magazine #32.
Needles: US 7 & 8
Yarn: one skein of Solo yarn from Brooks Farm in TX. I had about 3 feet left over.
Modifications: I shortened the collar to 7 cm and the total finished length is about 34 cm (compared to the 20 cm collar and 50 cm length called for in the pattern).
I figured I would work until I ran out of yarn, realizing I would probably have to tink at least one row to have enough to bind off. I ended up have to pick out a row and a half. When it looked like I was almost out of yarn I started to bind off, but it was a mess with the YO. So I tried to work a row of K1, P1 rib to make things pretty, but at the half way mark (I had a marker in place) I realized I was going to be short, so I took out that ribbing and then a row of Fisherman's Rib. Then reknit straight K1,P1 rib and finally bound off using the Russian Bind-Off as explained by WendyKnits here. phew.

Public Reaction

It has been well received. I put it on and Hubby was all like "Hey there, pretty girl."
I wouldn't have thought a poncho was such a flattering garment it would get me extra kisses. (It probably didn't hurt that I had just washed my hair, so I was all shiny and fluffy along with my pretty red poncho.)
Of course, I had to wear it to the store so other crafters could admire it.
Cynthia said it was gorgeous, so I pointed out it was the yarn she gave me.
And other people during the day thought it was adorable.

The Right Pattern Makes a Difference
I had always figured I wouldn't knit a poncho, even during the height of the craze—what two years ago?— because I didn't want all that material all over me making me look like a piece of furniture.
Hubby had suggested once before that I make a poncho. We were out somewhere and another young couple walked by, she was wearing a woven poncho that looked good. But she was slim (like me) and the material was thin, so it wasn't all over whelming.
This poncho, however, being cropped and from a DK weight yarn, isn't overwhelming in size, weight, or warmth.

Have I Been Unfair?
I spent so much time complaining about the Fisherman's Rib when I started this poncho, that I wonder if I will scare other people away from the pattern.
I am only one of three people on Ravelry who have made it, and the other two didn't blog about it (or didn't link their blog posts to their project), so the only thing people have to go on is my early struggles.
The stitch wasn't too bad, once I finally got the hang of it.
And I think the finished poncho will be quite usable. Since I'm off the train I'm back to my 45 minute plus commute by car. In the winter I run into the difficulty of wanting to be all bundled up against the cold, but then once the car warms up, my coat is all hot and restrictive (and I have a long coat to boot.) Yesterday when I left for the store I took my coat off, but I was still warm enough with the poncho on.
But at the same time, on the way home I had to stop at the grocery store. I had the poncho on under my coat, but I didn't get to hot.
So really, it's going to be rather useful in this weather, as well as in the office when the HVAC isn't to my liking.

In Other News
My poor, neglected little Christmas Cactus is blooming!christmas cactus
Really, you don't understand the adverse conditions this poor thing has to contend with. Unlike the dogs, my plants can't tell me when they need attention.
If your Christmas Cactus isn't blooming, you might want to evaluate the lighting situation. When I was at the paper in New Hampshire I used to do regular seasonal interviews with the owner of a green house in one of my towns (who also happened to be one of the selectmen). He told me that Christmas Cacti actually rely on the changing light conditions to know when to bloom. So if it is only exposed to artificial light its cycles can get messed up.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Pick Me! Pick Me!

Now that's a job I could totally do.
Hey, Interweave! Interweave Press, look over here!
That's right, Interweave Crochet, I'm talking to you.
Come on, I know you have to have one of those search engines set up that notifies you whenever you are mentioned online.
Now that I have your attention, I hear you need a new editor-in-chief. I wanted you to know I'm available, well I'd have to give two-weeks notice and move to Colorado, but those situations are easily remedied.

I'm Your Woman
Perhaps you'd like to hear about my qualifications?
I have a BA in Literature with a concentration in Writing.
I was a beat reporter on a weekly newspaper in New Hampshire for three years, I've been an associate editor at my current magazine since 2006, and I've been a staff member at a LYS since 2005.
All of which means I'm accustomed to meeting deadlines, I have experience in magazine publishing, and I know about yarn.
Really, what more could you ask for?

Consumer vs. B2B
I'd like to take a moment to question this prejudice you people on the consumer side seem to have against us folks here on business-to-business publications.
We are all writers and editors. We all string together words to provide information to our readers.
I know my magazine has editorial integrity. Just as you wouldn't write nice things about, say, Rowan just because they sent you pretty yarn to play with, I wasn't obligated to write nice things about Hitachi just because they gave me an iPod at a press conference. We write about these companies because it is information our readers can use.
My magazine is respected by our readers, they point to us as an authority they can trust. (Actually, I'm fine here, and I would say that even if there wasn't the outside chance Boss Man might read this, but a girl has to keep her eyes open and check out opportunities.)
So you don't have to worry about me not understanding what is going on, or selling out.

Up With Crochet!
In addition to my writing and editing skills, I'm an accomplished crocheter. In fact, I've been crocheting for so long I don't even remember how I learned.
I've also designed a few items. Perhaps you have seen my adorable Crochet Guinness Dog Toy?guinness It is available as a free download on Ravelry, where it has been favorited 12 times, added to 12 queues, and downloaded 25 times. Which shows I did something right.
Crochet is still an overlooked art form. Your publication, the Crochet Guild of America, Crochet! magazine, and others have done a lot to raise crochet's profile, but there is still work to do.
We must continue to find current designers who are creating fashionable and functional garments to wear. We have to make knitters jealous of our projects in order to grow the ranks of crocheters. And we have to show that crochet is contemporary, toiletpaper cover have their place, but crochet is so much more than that.
Of course, a magazine is still a business, and we must explore avenues beyond print to maintain success, such as online media and social networking. I am familiar with some of these options through my current position.
I'd love to discuss my qualifications with you further in person.

You Know Who I Am
You should already have my resume on file. I applied to one of your online editor openings, after all I know basic HTML. Not that you called...what do I have to do to get you to notice me?
Just cross reference my blog with the resume of an "Ann M" who has lived in NJ, TX, NH, and CT and you will probably find me.
I look forward to hearing from you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


Back at work today, and my head is not happy about the situation.
Migraines, and the day after, do not play well with the fluorescent lights and staring at a computer screen.
But I shall persevere! I have a conference call from 2 to 3:30 that I have to stick around for.
Ok, enough of being whiny about my head.

I'll be whiny about my poncho instead
144 stitches on the needles. It caps out at 168 sts, so three more increases to go.
I'm not sure how soon after that it will be done. The pattern says to work until it measures 50 cm, but that includes the 20 cm collar, which of course I chopped down to 7 cm.
Looks like my piece measures about 25 cm at the moment. It's a little tricky to measure because the long cable is distorting it a bit.
I'm beginning to wonder how much a difference 27 yards is actually going to make. I have about a baseball sized ball of yarn to use yet.
Boy howdy am I going to annoyed if the poncho ends up dorky short because my chosen yarn is 27 yards light.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Should Stick With Socks

The poncho is creeping along.
The more rows I work, the more increases occur, the more stitches I have on the needles.
I'm at 57 rows and 136 stitches.
I have the 20" cord stacked with the 16" cord from my Denise set, which is, I think, the longest cord I've built since I've had it.

Increasing in Fisherman's Rib
In an attempt to be one of those useful knitting blogs were you actually learn something that you can apply to your own knitting, I will now overwhelm (and underwhelm) you with pictures (that will probably be too small to see since I made them thumbnail size. Clicking one should take you to my Flikr photostream where the decent sizes resign.

Increasing Fisherman's rib 1The pattern instructions call for working the increases by working K,P,K all in the first stitch after the marker. (Or at least that is how I'm interpreting it. And, since I'm being consistent, all my increases look the same.)
On the row after the increase row the three increased stitches are on the left side of the first marker. But I want to maintain 7 sts between my markers, so some fiddling has to take place.

Increasing Fisherman's rib 2Remove the marker and work the next two stitches in pattern (stubbornly ignoring the fact that you are knitting a stitch without a yarn over. I tried to stick a yarn over in on one of my first increase rows, it made things too tight) then replace the marker.

Increasing Fisherman's rib 3Work the next stitch (the third increased stitch) in pattern and then continue working in pattern to 3 sts before next marker.

Increasing Fisherman's rib 4The next 3 increased stitches are before the marker. But, again, I need that marker to be at the end of my center 7 sts. So I slip them all without working them, remove the marker, then slip the sts back.

Increasing Fisherman's rib 5Then I work one stitch in pattern, replace the marker, and resume working in pattern. I'm now back to 7 sts between my markers.

A line of increasesIn this picture, if it wasn't microscopic, you can see the ribbing branching out from the previous increases, while maintaining straight ribbing down the center. Just like in the pattern picture. yippee! This wasn't happening on my, uh, second attempt. On my second attempt I was not fiddling with the markers, so the increases were growing on the outer edge of the previous increase. (huh? never mind.)

The pesky center stitch Here you see the pesky edge stitch that I keep complaining about. I have a red marker on one side and my row counter on the other to lock it in place. The problem with the edge stitch is that on every other row it can almost be worked in pattern. The pattern is K1 w/YO, S1 making YO. When I come back around to it this time the last stitch of the row will be a K1 which makes it easy to slip the edge stitch. However the next stitch after it (the first of the new round) is also to be slipped. So instead I end up working K1 w/ Yo, K1, S1. Then on the next row I'll work S1, K1, K1 w/YO.
I think you can see how the darn thing ended up taking a walk on me before.

Why am I torturing you with all this?
Well, first, I'm home with a migraine, which always makes me a little incoherent (I'm going back to bed as soon as I publish this. I had an interview at 9 am and I have another at 3 pm, so I must rest).
Second, I saw in my traffic report that some poor soul ended up here because they had searched for "increase fisherman's rib" and I realized I've complained about having to do it, but never explained what was going on once I figured it out. Hopefully I've remedied that oversight.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Slow on the Uptake

The poncho is progressing nicely.
I know I supposedly said that on Thursday when things were actually falling to pieces, but we've already established that I was bluffing on Thursday.
Today it really is progressing nicely.
I'm on row 43, which is the furthest I've gotten in any of my attempts. I think I've finally got the hang of the Fisherman's Rib, which is probably helping a great deal.
Of course, now vacation time is over. And, since I'm no longer on the train, my knitting time is a bit curtailed.

With gas prices returning to a reasonable range, Hubby and I reassessed my commute. We determined I'm only saving $20 a month now. So unless I ride the train faithfully every single day, which I don't manage to do, we won't save any money at all.
Remember all that feel good, pro-environment, less-stress stuff I was spouting when I started riding the train?
Forget about it.
Being back on the road is a bit of an adjustment, but considering on many mornings I had to repeat the mantra "Life is better on the train" just to get myself out the door on time, it's an adjustment I'm willing to make.
I told Boss Man about the change and he asked, "What about wear-and-tear on your car?"
And I replied, "Dude, we don't think that far ahead."

Overly Efficient
My missing tea is still missing.
FedEx, there I said it, is so fraking efficient that they delivered my package to a house that doesn't exist.
I was laying low last week because of the holiday, but I called again today and they still have nothing to tell me.
I asked the lady if there is an explanation for this situation. She said it was either delivered or stolen. I again pointed out that it was apparently delivered to a house that doesn't exist. I asked why they knew it was an incorrect address on the Friday, but after I called with the correct address they still delivered it to the incorrect, non-existent address on Saturday.
She didn't have an answer...beyond the driver had three days to follow up and now a claim should be filed.
I'm not sure what I wanted to her to say. I'm not sure how you can explain driving down a street, not seeing the street number, and leaving the package somewhere anyway. But I want some kind of explanation.
Anyway, the good news is when this all blew up last week the shop said they would resend my shipment. Although it hasn't been stated explicitly, and maybe I should ask them to, I imagine I'm not going to be charged for this replacement.
In theory, depending on what kind of mood FedEx is in, I should have my tea by this weekend.
Then I will be able to drink tea I was annoyed about while I work on a poncho that was annoying me.

Feedback Buttons Update
I made some changes to the buttons. I changed the lead in from "How'd I do?" to "Thoughts?".
I changed "entertaining" to "fun," which sort of conveys the same idea (and, sadly, wiped out any "entertaining" clicks I had picked up). I had to shorten it to fit a fourth button.
I added "hug" for those days you feel sorry for me for being so pathetic that I'm getting abused by either my knitting or my dogs. (Happily, we don't have to worry about me being abused by my Hubby—not to make light of a serious situation in some people's lives—because I chose a good one. Samson, however, smacks me in the face on a regular basis. Sometimes we wonder if he is trying to pet us back.)
Hopefully they all show up on your screen. They did at home, but didn't here at the office. I tweaked and they do now. If you aren't seeing all four, let me know and I'll go back to three.