Monday, May 30, 2011

Book Bonanza

May books Well, I had quite the exciting weekend. I wasn't sure where to start, but now it's late so I'll start with the easy stuff.

On Thursday I trooped down to my mom's again. My weekend odyssey covered eight hours, five states, and four yarn stores.

Actually, 16 hours if you count the drive home, too.


Since I've realized I have more pictures to take, I'll start with the easy stuff of the books.

Ooooh, the books. A veritable plethora of knitting books.

As I told you back in April, in a moment of insanity I signed up for the Master Knitter program. I've been conspicuously silent on it since then because I haven't actually started it. I bought and set up the binder then hit a wall.

There are a lot of questions you need to answer and that report to write...anyway I convinced myself I couldn't start until I'd bought a few basic, knitting overview type books. Sure I might already know the stuff, but you are supposed to sight references in the report.

Well, right before my trip I got I postcard and email announcing a sale at The Elegant Ewe down in Concord. I figured the books I wanted might not be on sale, but since I'd be practically driving by it wouldn't hurt to stop.

I bought "Knitting in Plain English" by Maggie Righetti and "Power Cables" by Lily Chin. I was aiming for the Righetti book as one of my reference manuals for the MK program. I figure I liked her "Sweater Design in Plain English" so I'll probably like this one. It was not on sale. The Chin book was an impulse purchase because it was on sale. But then I like cables and after flipping through it thought it might also make a good reference manual.

They were out of Lucy Neatby's new book "Cool Knitters Finish In Style," proving I should have bought it when I saw it a few weeks ago.

Back In My Store
I continued on to Westport Yarns to pick up the yarn I'd ordered when I passed through for mom's heart attack. (I still have to take pictures of it.) (Um, the yarn that is. Not mom's heart.)

I had a nice time chattering away for a while, then decided I should get back on the road.

They also were out of the Neatby book. However, I bought a tin of the lavender scent Lavishea lotion bar. It's very pleasant and seems to be doing a good job.

Philly Stores
EL SwatchsOn Friday mom and I went up to Philadelphia to see the "Knitting Along The Viking Trail" exhibit at the American Swedish Historical Museum.

That is a big post for tomorrow, but here is a taste. The exhibit is from the Elsebeth Lavold book "Viking Patterns for Knitting." This afghan is made from the swatches she knit when researching the book.

How very cool to see the swatches I've mooned over all these years! I like the way there are odd bits of grey knitting to fill in gaps between the swatches. I guess they wouldn't jigsaw together properly and someone said, "Well, just fill it in."

We took a turn around the rest of the museum as well and hit the gift shop. (As Dr. Who says, "I love a little shop.") I wasn't really expecting to see anything, but I found this very cool book called "Swedish Knits" by Paula Hammerskog and Eva Wincent.

I don't believe I've ever heard or seen this book before. I flipped through it several times before I bought it. There are basic instructions, tips, a stitch dictionary, and patterns. Once again, I think it might come in handy for the MK program.

After leaving the exhibit we got a bite to eat and then went questing for yarn stores since I knew there were two within spitting distance. I was still looking for the Neatby book but was also fired up to get the Second and Third Viking Knits Collections books by Lavold.

First we tracked down Rosie's Yarn Cellar. It was a cute little store with wall to wall yarn. They had yarn I've knit with, yarn I'd heard about but never seen in person, and a few yarns that were new to me.

Which is what you would want in a yarn store, no?

They did not have either the Neatby or the Lavold books I was after. However, having been in the biz (actually, I guess I still am) I always like to make a least a token purchase when I visit an LYS. In this case I bought a handful of the sample size Soak Wash laundry soaps sitting on the counter.

Then we moved on to Loop. This was a little of a jackpot. Once again the yarn ranged from the familiar to the new. Once again they didn't have the Neatby book, but they did have the Second Viking Knits book. score!

They also had a offer on FourSquare. Yeah, I set up an ID on FourSquare. I don't know, it's another social media site. When you go places you check in and can leave tips and see other tips and...yeah, I don't really get it. Probably because I only have one friend on it and he doesn't even live near me.

Anyway, sometimes it amuses me to spend the day checking into places, especially when I'm on a trip.

Well, Loop had an offer of 10% off a $20 purchase for you first check in. Finally, I found a place that actually had an offer I'd be interested in! That, of course, opened the flood gates. I would have bought the Lavold book regardless, but since I was getting a discount I also bought both "Sensational..." and "More Sensational Knitted Socks" by Charlene Schurch. They are good books and I've been thinking on and off for a while that I should have them since I love knitting socks so much, and there they were, so now they are mine.

I also bought some yarn, which I need to photograph.

In the end I bought six knitting books. Combined with the book I bought at the NH Sheep & Wool Festival and the book JelliDonut gave me, I acquired eight new knitting books this month. phew!

Not Knitting
You will notice in the top right corner of the picture that a non-knitting book slipped in as well. We stopped at Barnes & Noble on our way home from Philly because mom had some coupons to use and titles she wanted.

B & N also did not have the Neatby book, but since mom's coupon was going to expire over the weekend I thought it was about time I read "The Princess Bride."

This could be dangerous. I like the movie very much and I understand the book is a bit different. However, William Goldman wrote the book and the movie script, so I hope it isn't too shocking.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

ASJ Pockets Progress

ASJ Pockets 1 Our trip to the wool festival the other weekend inspired me to haul my Adult Surprise Jacket out and work on the pockets.

It was a combination of being surrounded by all that wool and knowing that if the pockets had done I could have worn it to the fair.

Well, maybe not as it was threatening to rain on Saturday and did rain on Sunday so a rain coat was the way to go...but the potential had been there.

I'm going with the construction EZ gives in the pattern for an afterthought pocket. On the right you see the flap for the first pocket knit and waiting to be sewn down. On the left I'm working on picking up the stitches for the second pocket.

This method requires cutting the fabric of the finished sweater, which might give you some insight into why I've been dragging my feet.

When I settled down to do the task it wasn't as bad as I expected. Perhaps I had selected a "sticky" section of yarn to place the pocket because all hell did not break loose when I snipped the strand.

I was able to carefully pluck the yarn out of the stitches while placing the newly live stitches on double pointed needles.

There was a false start because I messed up the increases she recommends, which can only be expected when you knit while watching TV. When I saw the pocket was going sideways I just ripped it out and worked increases at the beginning and end of every knit row. Heck, it's a pocket. No one should be looking at it.

I knit the first pocket to be about a deep as my iPhone is long on the assumption that I will mainly be dropping my iPhone in it. Also, that should be a good depth for a curled up hand. Actually, any longer and it would have gotten dangerously close to the bottom of the sweater.

You will note I typed "the first pocket." The second pocket is still in the state you see it in the picture. Which is to say a state of potentiality waiting for the rest of the stitches to be picked up and knit. I seem to remember we were watching something good on TV and the stitch transfer was too fiddly so I put it aside.

I really should finish it. But today the temperature has jumped up into the mid-70s F. Not really sweater weather. Did you hear that rushing sound my motivation made as it went by?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sourdough Update

The mystery of the missing starter has been solved!

On our walk this morning Judy reported that with all the young ones home for various college graduations the starter was found on the porch, brought inside, and left on the counter.

If you know sourdough you know where this is going.

As I typed yesterday, it's a vigorous starter.

Left on the counter it outgrew the little container I'd put it in and made a run for it.


I guess that means it did get up and walk away....

The horrified young ones cleaned it up and threw it away.

We are not crying over the lost starter. Technically that was a cup of starter I was supposed to discard anyway. And there is more where that came from! She said this also gives her time to acquire a crock that would be an appropriate starter home.

In other bread news, I sat down with the nutritional labels from the flour and the store bought bread and did a lot of math to figure out where my bread stands.

It's not perfect calculations, but it reinforces my feelings that my bread (eaten in modest slices) isn't all bad. Sure it's a little higher in carb and a little lower in protein than the store stuff, but not as bad as one might have expected.

What did surprise me is that the Ancient Grains Blend didn't up the nutritional profile as much as I was expecting. In fact the traditional Whole Wheat has a higher fiber content. If I make my next loaf with whole wheat it will be even healthier.

Still, the Ancient Grains does have a nice flavor to it.

In other, other bread news, I have sent an e-mail to the KAF Bakers Help people to find out if I can use a cup of my sourdough starter in place of the starter in the Scali Bread recipe. That was late yesterday so I haven't heard back yet, but personally I don't see why not. Think of the time that will be saved if I can! Especially if I can use unfed sourdough.

Knitting content will return soon, I promise. :-)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Hello, Sourdough.

Me at KAFAfter Mom and I were done at the NH Sheep and Wool Festival last Sunday we skipped over the border into Vermont to visit the King Arthur Flour company store.

Since I've been using KAF products exclusively for my baking since the 1990s the prospect of visiting their store in person was fairly exciting.

In fact, I've suggested this as an outing to Hubby a couple times since we moved back to NH but since he doesn't bake he's always squirmed out of it. Mom doesn't bake, but she likes baked goods, so I knew she'd be up for it.

Wall of Flour If you get their catalogue then you have an idea of what we saw. Basically, all those items in the catalogue right there in front of you so you can actually make all those impulse purchases that pass through your mind when flipping pages or looking at the website. In addition to more flours out of more grains than you can shake a whisk at.

In addition to shopping part of the plan was to get a bite to eat. It was a rainy day that Sunday so we thought soup would be the way to go.

The soup of the day was Vegan Tomato Bisque. That raised warning flags because I haven't met a vegan soup I liked. Even during our trip to France summer before last I had a vegetable soup that was so tasteless we figured it must have been vegan. But mom and I ordered the tomato soup anyway.

Sorry, guys, but it was really....bland. Mom and I agreed it needed cream or a chicken stock base. Either of which would have defeated the vegan purpose. Happily, the dull soup was the only disappointing part of the trip.

My wallet did not escape unscathed despite my attempts to control myself. Mainly I bought a bag of the Ancient Grains Flour Blend to have a healthy option on hand, a bag of dough improver to make bread easier to knead, and a present for my mother-in-law.

Sourdough starter phase 1But the piece de resistance was a container of their fresh sourdough starter. (This is not a picture of how the starter comes from the store. This is a picture of my starter after I started waking it up. The starter from the store is in a little bitty container that isn't intimidating at all.)

Now, I already killed some of this sourdough starter back in the 90s when I was living in Texas. Although after reading all about sourdough on their blog in the last few days I wonder if that old sourdough was really dead. But that was more than 10 years ago, so I'm not going to mourn it.

You might also recall that I recently killed a sourdough starter while living in CT. But that was from a very old, powder souvenir starter from California. I think it had issue to begin with.

On Thursday I finally got the container cleaned and woke that sucker up. All day Friday it was going gangbusters, which was very exciting. Actually, I just took a peek at in the fridge and it still looks bubbly and happy.

I have dubbed it Seymour, for what I hope are obvious reasons. Although it might be more logical to name it Audrey 2.

SourdoughOn Friday I whipped up a batch of bread following the Rustic Sourdough Bread recipe that comes with the starter. Only I subbed in 1 cup of the Ancient Grains Blend for that whole "healthy" bread illusion.

I'm rather pleased with the results. It might have come out a little denser than I anticipated, but I think that is the influence of the whole grains. Also, I haven't been baking bread from scratch much lately. Additionally, it's been raining, like, all week here and I'm sure the humidity affected things.

When it first came out of the oven Hubby had a sliced and declared it good. This was a breakthrough because the only bread I've baked that he's really liked so far was the Scali Bread, which is good bread, but limiting in baking options.

Since then, however, Hubby has denounced me as both a siren and a saboteur and declared that he won't be eating any more home made bread until he has reached his weight loss and fitness goals. Mainly because there is no way to know the actual nutritional value of my bread. sigh.

I, on the other hand, have chosen to put on nutrition blinders and finish the loaf. Sure, my bread probably isn't as good carb-wise as that sprouted grains stuff we buy in the store, but I can't imagine it is all that bad.

Of course, this puts me in a pickle where Seymour is concerned. As you might know, if sourdough starters aren't used every week they at least have to be reduced and fed. Well, I'm not going to continue to bake loaves of bread that I'm the only one eating. I guess I'll just maintain Seymour, discarding a cup each week, until such time as Hubby is ready to play along.

Disappearing dough
Speaking of maintaining a starter...there is a lot of feeding and dividing involved before you can actually use it.

At one of those steps the directions say to remove a cup and either discard it or give it to a friend. Anticipating this step I had arranged to give that cup to my friend Judy. Well, I plopped it in a container and left it on her porch since she was out and about when the time came.

She sent me an e-mail that it's missing!

Now it's a very vigorous starter but I can't imagine that it managed to get up and walk away on its own.

At least, I hope it didn't.

Maybe I should check the fridge again.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Dear MLB

We are sitting here in NH staring at a blank TV screen rather than watching the Yankees and Mets inter league game because Fox has some kind of superpowers to control which games are available to us despite our MLB Extra Innings package from DirecTV.

As I'm sure you are aware, we're paying a pretty penny for the MLB Extra Innings package so we can watch the Yankees even though we had to move out of the NY area.

I don't know how the arrangement works, but I'm pretty sure MLB has to be benefiting from the subscription fees we're paying.

It seems to me that since we are basically paying you for the privilege of continuing to watch the Yankees we should be able to actually watch the Yankees.

I understand the goal is to force us to watch the local game on the Fox broadcast. And this makes sense when the Yankees are playing the Red Sox. In those cases we suffer through the Red Sox broadcast. But tonight the Yankees are playing the Mets.

There is nothing that is going to make us watch a random Red Sox game.

Maybe you and Fox are concerned about loosing our eyes because we're watching the out of market game. But you have to realize you've lost our eyes entirely because now we're going to watch something off our DVR since we can't see the baseball game we want to see.

What makes even less sense is that Fox was also broadcasting the Yankees/Mets game. They could at least have had our eyes on that.

The entire point of buying the MLB Extra Innings Package was so we could watch the Yankees even though we're no longer in the Yankees "market."

Please stop defeating the purpose of this subscription and allow us to watch the out-of-market games we want to watch rather than forcing us to watch no game at all.

Thank you.

PS--Also, the 500 character limit on the feedback form on your website is annoying.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Thanks, Jelli!

Goodies from JelliDonutI have an online friend named JelliDonut.

I started following her on twitter, because she is another knitter.

Then, since most people link their blog to their twitter account, I started reading her blog and subscribed to her RSS feed.

Once I did that I had to track her down on Ravelry to find out more about her projects.

This is all fairly normal for the way social media connections progress. At some point I added her as a Flickr contact as well, which is weird since I haven't grown that network at all. Flickr is just a place I post photos so I can get them into Ravelry.


JelliDonut likes to do giveaways on her blog. She gave away a digital scale once.

It was her birthday recently and she had another giveaway...and I won!

Honestly, I felt a little guilty when I first saw my name on her blog since most of the time I'm just driving by sassing her. But she seems a little sarcasitc too, so she probably appreciates the sass.

Then, of course, I came to my senses because it's sock yarn! And I shook that guilt right off and sent her my mailing address. :-) hehehe

The picture is of the awesome goodies she sent me (yes! even the project bag!). She even printed the errata from the book. How organized is that?

It's not the best picture because it's been raining for days and days here.

So there is a skein of Socks That Rock lightweit in "The skein with no name" colorway, sort of oranges and browns. A skein of Mountian Colors in "Evergreen," dark blues, greens, and purples. And a skein of Classic Elite Alpaca Sox in Color #1858, red, orange, purple and green.

As you know red and blue are two of my favorite colors. And I do need more dark socks in my wardrobe, so everything it just spot on. It was meant to be. sigh.

The women in the Library Knitting group were rather impressed with everything. Especially the spiffy knitting bag. It has lots of zippered pockets for organizing things and it big enough for a large amount of yarn. (Sorry, no tag so I can't tell you the brand.)

You should stop by and check out her blog. It's a fun read. And you never know when she's going to start tossing stuff around again.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go pet my new yarn.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

NH Sheep & Wool Festival, Part 2

Holiday Yarns 1Yarn nibbles!

Sock hors d'oeuvers!

Wee skeins of beauty.

Call them what you will, but during the NH Sheep and Wool Festival they made success mine.

You see, back in 2009 Mom bought me the set of landscape sock patterns from Borealis Sweaterscapes. You might be most familiar with the lighthouse pattern. There is also an autumn road, pine trees, and cows in an apple orchard.

They sell kits that include the pattern and the yarn, but at the time I was working at Knitting Central and thought it wouldn't be a problem getting the yarn on my own.

Then the patterns arrived and I was stopped cold because I found out I would need small quantities of a large number of yarns (especially for the autumn road socks). I was facing a situation where I might use 25 yards out of a 400 yard skein. This would not only be expensive but would also lead to me knitting striped socks for the rest of my life to get rid of the leftovers.

Also, even if we'd had all the colors I needed in stock, which we didn't, I would have been brand hoping with unknown results.

So I made myself a spreadsheet of the colors and quantities needed, then put the patterns aside to bide my time.

Holiday Yarns 2In the past I've come home from Rhinebeck and kicked myself for forgetting to bring the spreadsheet, but really I just would have been in the same large skein situation I was in at the store.

But then on Saturday Nancy and I were walking by the Holiday Yarns booth and saw a bin full of wee skeins of yarn. There was a sign about blah blah and at the bottom big red letters that said "A handful = $20."

Well, who can pass up an offer like that? We made jokes about needing bigger hands. I confirmed we could select colors rather than acting like a prize claw and taking whatever handful we came up with.

As we picked through my landscape socks suddenly came to mind. It wasn't a coherent enough thought to regret not having the spreadsheet, but it was enough to guide me toward autumnal colors that could be in the tree leaves.

My first "handful" was the top picture. I knew I needed blue for the sky. I knew I needed brown for the tree trunks. I basically did my best.

Then mom and I headed home. We discussed what a nice manageable fair it was and how we sort of conquered it one day.

Filling the Gaps
However we quickly realized this "one day" stuff was nonsense. I, of course, immediately fished out the patterns and spreadsheet and spread my precious wee skeins out on the dining room table. More colors were needed. I was so close. At the same time Mom realized she didn't buy any handmade soap. The book signing was Sunday. Then the final straw came when Hubby announced he had too much school work to hang out with us Sunday.

Obviously we needed to go back.

This time I took my patterns, spreadsheet, and the colors I bought Saturday.

I got to the booth in a slight lull with gave me the opportunity to show Jennifer the patterns and explain to what I needed. She was smitten. We spread out my stuff and she helped me select the missing colors. I ended up purchasing three full size skeins a well mainly for the foot portions but also because of cross over between patterns.

She was very helpful and supportive of the cause. She said she will knit vicariously through me. I'll have to do a good job so I can send her pretty pictures.
Divide & conquer

Divide and Conquer
I have decided to start with the Autumn Road socks. You can see the pattern picture peeking out from under the yarn in the bottom right of this corner.

I matched up the colors I bought with the colors in the pattern with a slight amount of fudging.

Then I put them in Ziplock baggies with their pattern color names being careful to keep similar colors separate, i.e., poppy, garnet, and Chianti are in different bags.

Now all I need to do is ball all the skeins and I can get started.

It's so exciting.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

NH Sheep & Wool Festival, Part 1

Me and yarnYou had to expect me to drag a weekend wool festival out over multiple posts.

This was my first time attending the NH Sheep and Wool Festival. The first time around living in the state I had not yet realized the glory that is wool festivals, but after attending Rhinbeck two years in a row I had to check the local one out.

My hope was that it would be smaller and more manageable than Rhinebeck, and indeed it was. It was busy and there were many vendors, but it wasn't overwhelming. One thing I liked about it was all the vendors seemed to be from the NH, VT, ME area with a few from farther afield. It's not that I was really pulling a "support local" attitude (which was nice), but rather I figure if I want more of their products they'll be easy to get to.

Mom came up for it. We'd planned it before her little heart attack at the beginnig of the month and the doctors said there was no reason she shouldn't. Once there we met up with Pam's sister Nancy (who does not have a blog).

We also ran into Marcia and Patty from the Library Knitting group, several of Nancy's friends, and Pat who I worked with briefly at Patternworks my first time around.

Now that I work from home full-time I often feel that I never see other humans aside from Hubby. It made me happy that I already know enough people to encounter them out and about despite only being in the state since the summer and never leaving the house.

On Sunday I also got to meet Vicki Stiefel, who I follow on Twitter. I saw on Ravelry that she'd be a the festival doing a book signing and thought she looked familar. Her book is 10 Secrets of the LaidBack Knitters. I had a chance to flip through it on Saturday and determine it was worth owning. She was so very excited that I'm a Twitter follower that at first I thought she was yanking my chain. But she really was excited (and of course I was excited too, not often you actually meet your social media friends). She was also very sweet and we had a nice chat. She even had Mom take our picture so she could tweet about meeting me!

Speaking of pictures. Of course I can't go near a fiber festival without my Felted Ravelry ID Bag. Trust other knitters and crocheters to appreciate the insantiy of it. I do enjoy basking in the compliments. hehehe.
Spring Pansy
Of course I go to these festivals for the wool part, not the sheep part. Although I do try to swing by the stalls and thank them for their contribution to my happiness.

The first thing I fell in love with was this beautiful bundle from Ellen's Half Pint Farm. It is 1,375 yards of 50% Silk 50% Merino goodness. As you can see in the opening picture, it was love at first sight. I bought it in the "Spring Pansy" colorway, but there were many other lovely colors. I was briefly distracted by some of the other colors (there was one that would have matched the Flashy Socks I recently started) but I decided to stick with the first one that caught my eye. I plan, of course, to make a Schleppy Sweater with it.

Listen, that raglan I designed for myself fits well and works fine with colorful yarn, so I'm just going to stick with it. At this rate, if I actually knit all the Schleppys I plan too, I'll be able spend the entire winter wearing just them!

SophiaWhile Mom and Nancy both stopped at Leslie Wind's booth to have some pins made while they watched (website has sound effects) I wandered through the Ball and Skein booth right next to it.

The Ball and Skein booth was well organized and well lit. She had sample shawls displayed around the booth and I became enamored of the Ceder Leaf Shawlette from Never Not Knitting.

Ball and Skein was selling the pattern as a kit with her Sophia yarn for $30, which struck me as a very reasonable price since the yarn is a Merino/Nylon/Cashmere blend.

The sample was in orange, which was nice, but not really me. I decided green would be too easy, because of the leaves. So I went with this nice shade of red called "Rusty Nail."

Imagine my surprise when I discovered this pattern is similar to one I already have queued on Ravelry. Between this and my Trellis Leaf Mitts, I guess I'm totally on a leaf kick for some reason.

That is not the end of my yarn purchases at the festival, as you might imagine, but I'll leave the rest for tomorrow.

I'll wrap up today's post with the needles I bought. NHSW NeedlesWell, I suppose the Denise companion set isn't actually needles, but they are close enough., are they not beautiful?!

Really, I need more Denise cables about as much as I need more yarn, but how could I pass them up? As you might know, I have a set and a half as I bought a set when I learned to knit then acquired Pam's cast off set before I left CT. But those all have the traditional blue cables. These, these are colored cables!

The booth I bought them in had the range of colors and it was hard to select, so I defaulted to happy yellow. A woman watching me dither suggested I get a color that will contrast with the colors I normally work with. That was a good idea and reaffirmed the yellow since I tend to knit with red and blue.

The other needles I bought are a set of US 1.5 "Darn Pretty Needles" double points. They were out of US 1, but I figure these are close enough. You can't really tell in that bad picture, but they are multicolored wood needles.

Now I just need an excuse to use them because goodness knows I have the yarn.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Yellow Lace Top

Yellow lace sweater start Works in progress be damned!

Knit from your stash? I laugh at the concept!

Because I have yummy new yarn and have finally decided on a pattern.

You will remember (perhaps bitterly) my recent bragging about receiving sample balls of the new Juniper Moon Farm Yarn "Findley" to play with.

Hmm, that doesn't sound quite right...anyway.

I had settled on a knit sweater, a crocheted sweater, and a shawl, but was dithering over the colors to use for all of them. Of all the colors I'd received I only had solid plans for two of them, but there was heavy math involved before I could start either of those.

Last week I laid out the patterns and yarns and made Hubby decide for me. Don't laugh. He has a very good eye. And perhaps not as much at stake.

For the crochet sweater he suggested the robins egg blue. For the shawl (which will be the cover pattern from the Spring/Summer 2011 issue of Debbie Bliss Magazine) he selected the grass green.

Finally, for my friend Pam's Lacey V-Neck Top that is in the Holiday 2009 issue of Vogue Knitting he selected the soft, buttercup yellow. Interestingly, it is also the one the women in the Library Knitting group suggested.

Away I Go
With a color selected, I cast on last Tuesday and have been clicking away.

The lace pattern only has an 8 row repeat and it's a fairly regular progression, so I hope I ingest it soon and can stop looking at the pattern. That will speed things up.

The sweater has waist shaping, but instead of having you increase and decrease Pam cleverly has you change needle sizes. In fact I'm already at the first change. I was surprised it arrived so quickly.

Yellow lace closeSo surprised that my US 3 circular wasn't available. It was still in the lace scarf I've been knitting for, what, a year because scarves just kill me and now I only work on it during the Library Knitting group. Anyway, I knit it onto a pair of bamboo straights I own for some reason and freed the circ for the sweater.

Of course sweater progress was derailed when I skipped town over the weekend. But I'm back at it.

Another nice thing is that it's knit in the round so there won't be much seaming to worry about at the end.

Well, considering I've only knit around 3 inches of sweater there isn't much more to say.

I think it's time to stop typing and start knitting.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Need for Socks

Aussi Soxxi Last week I swore project monogamy to a lace sweater about which I haven't had a chance to tell you.

However, since knitters plan and G-d laughs, that all went out the door Friday morning.

On Friday morning my mom called to tell me she was in the hospital because she might have had a heart attack the day before but they were still waiting for test results to come back. She assured me she felt fine and not to bother coming down.

That was a relief on all counts since it's an 8 hour drive. Of course, by the time I got out of the shower I'd come to my sense so when my older brother called to make sure I was up to speed I was able to assure him I was packing.

The final word is that she did have a mild heart attack and had had a silent one sometime in the past. They determined that she did not need a stent because her heart had grown new veins to bypass the blockage.

Despite these amazing regenerative powers she assures us she is not a Borg.

We were able to take her home Saturday afternoon and informed her that it was a hell of a stunt to get me to come down for Mother's Day.

I ended up staying the weekend and coming home Monday. It was a very nice visit in the end. It would have been a better visit if it hadn't been for a health issue and if I'd been able to bring Hubby and the pups along. (Hubby had school duties and the puppies would have added to the chaos anyway so I left them all behind.)

Road Trip!
About a hour into the eight hour drive I began wishing I'd made Hubby come along, mainly so he could do the driving. Then I began wishing I'd followed his suggestion of taking the train. I thought it would be inconvenient on the other end, but it turns out my brother had the day off and my mom was in a hospital across the river from Philly, so it would have totally made sense.

But I drove.

On the way down I was happy to see that my intense dislike for the Garden State Parkway was both undiminished and still justified.

On the way home I followed the GPS suggestion to take the George Washington Bridge. Famou last thought, "It's mid-day, how bad can it be?" Actually, it wasn't any worse than the Tappen Zee and the Garden State Parkway combination, but the toll on the GW is $8 which I was totally not expecting and I'm pretty sure made it a more expensive option. (Oh! I just checked my EZPass account online and it looks like I got a discount so the GW was only $5.90.)

In the end the drive both ways was fine and I made good time, so I guess I can't complain (much).

What Does This Have To Do With Socks?Seacoast yarn
Despite the jarring phone call and the rapid pace at which I packed I had the precense of mind to realize that a sweater which was all lace all the time being knit with lace weight yarn held doubled was not an acceptable project for the situation.

I will remind you that she sounded fine and perky when she called so worrying about which project to pack was a legitimate activity. If you don't understand that you are obviously not a knitter or crocheter.

I realized that the situation called for a pair of plain old socks. Small, portable, and mindless.

With that goal in mind I threw open the dining room credenza to fish out some sock yarn.

I was after this blue and purple Seacoast Handpainted Sock Yarn that I bought over Columbus Day weekend in 2010 and never told you about.

But when I opened the cabinet doors the first thing I saw was the brown/yellow/pink Aussi Soxxi yarn pictured at the top of the blog. I bought that yarn at Rhinebeck in 2009. The age and the extreme brightness of it made me decide to go with the Aussi Soxxi instead.

Flashy socks cuffI figured I would need something cheery and obnoxious to knit with to combat the potential gloom of the weekend.
I didn't get much knitting done, but it seems to be moving along quickly.

The first night I was knitting, Saturday, I was a bit nervous because I thought I felt my fingers tingling like they do when I have an allergic reaction to some yarn. But the sensation didn't come back the next night so I think I'll be fine.

The question now is do I abandon the new socks for the lace sweater or try to juggle them?

Because project rotations always work out so well for me. ha!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Schleppy Socks

Schleppy socks This project has come, been, and gone.

Or, more accurately, cast on, knit, and ends woven in.

With all the sock carnage lately I thought it might be best to knit myself a pair to take the burden off the existing pairs.

Socks were my second project after I learned to knit, so I've been knitting socks for a while now. Once I hit around 14 pairs I transitioned to wearing hand knit socks almost exclusively.

This puts a lot of wear and tear on them. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that some need repairs.

Despite all that it's been a while since I knit myself a pair of socks. According to my Ravelry notebook the last pair I knit myself was in September 2010. In fact, I haven't knit many pairs of socks in general lately.

The last pair I knit was for my sister-in-law. I started them around the time we moved last year and didn't finish them until our vacation in March. She likes them very much.

I could not tell you what caused this sock dearth recently. Although judging by my Ravelry notebook the last pair I attempted to knit myself were those Skew socks. That was traumatic and I guess put me off.

Of course, I've also had a lot going on recently. Lots of projects on the needles. Spreading myself thin knitting wise.

Still, I always seemed to have a pair of socks on the needles regardless of other projects, so being sockless is pretty odd.

Back On Track
Anyway. After all that darning I snapped and decided it was time to whip out a pair.

This pair took 3 weeks, which is a little unusual.

There is nothing exciting to report about them because they are just plain old stockinette stitch, which is a nice soothing pair of socks.
Messed up sockThere was a brief moment of excitment when I tried to work the gusset decreases in a different place just to mix things up.

Instead of working the decreases from the point where the instep and the heel flap joined I worked them in the middle of the sock. I left two stitches in between. I thought it would make an interesting decoration on the instep.


I guess I placed the decreases too close together because it created a tight spot on the sock. I seem to remember they were hard to put on and not comfortable at all. Unfortunatley I didn't realize that until the first sock was almost done.

Still, I did not hesitate to rip back to the heel turn and rework them in the traditional fashion.

Actually, there is something exciting about these socks. I made them with yarn I bought at Rhinebeck.

Finally, a finished project using Rhinebeck yarn.

It's Alexandria yarn from Maple Creek Farm that I bought in 2009. I called them "Schleppy Socks" because they are the same colors as my "Schleppy Sweater."

It's nice yarn. It's a merino/nylon blend and felt quite normal while knitting. It has also softened up nicely with washing.

Of course with my little feet I have half a skein left. Guess I'll keep it on hand for any darning that might need to be done many years down the road.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Done: Trellis Mitts

I finished knitting the second (left) Trellis Mitts last night.

Technically I still have to weave in the ends, but it's done enough for me. Especially considering I'll be weaving in the ends when I finish this post.

Not much to say about it since I wrote all those other posts in mid-April about making them bigger or into gloves or into socks.

I will be happy to have another pair of fingerless mitts to wear. You can almost never have enough pairs. You never know what color you will be in the mood for on any given day.

One amusing thing...according to my Ravelry project page I started them on May 16, 2010. So they took me almost a year. haha. Of course they didn't because I wasn't actively knitting them all that time.

Still, it's interesting to see how pauses and stops influence how quickly you finish a project. I'm sure if I'd worked straight through I would have finished in two weeks.

Oh, my finished pair took about half the skein of Ella Rae Lace Merino. I'm looking at the rest of the skein trying to decide what to do.

I wonder if I can figure out a crochet version?