Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My New Favorite Thing

What you're looking at here is my new favorite thing. I don't claim that it's an original thing or that it's my own particular invention. It's my SPIRAL BOUND copy of More Simply Sensational Knitted Socks. This book does not come to you spiral bound...I took it to Copymat in West Lafayette and had them do it for me. It was cheap and fast, and has really added a lot of "useability" to the book. It's much more comfortable to have it on my lap as I learn a new heel technique. And I'm just enough of a dork to really love the way the book feels. I did a lot of just holding it over the weekend, even when I wasn't knitting socks from the book.

I've heard of others doing this, and it didn't appeal to me all that much. I recently read about it again, and for some reason it seemed like I HAD TO DO IT! For those of you who are Seinfeld fans, you may recall an episode where someone mentions how great it would be to have "those moving walkways from airports all over the city" instead of sidewalks. Of course, that's all George can think about, and now he's really mad that he has to walk himself! That's how I felt as I thought about having this done. So I did it. And I highly recommend it. I sat in my chair last night wondering which book would be next...

Probably Barbara Walker. Or the other Sensational Knitted Socks book. Or Folk Socks!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Two More States--and that's not all!

I've just returned from another little adventure with kids and camper. This time we headed south, to the Land Between the Lakes in western Kentucky and Tennessee. (The mechanical difficulties of the previous camping post were a thing of the past; with a new ignition and a new fuel pump, we had no worries!) Our trip earned us 2 more stickers...

a spinning demonstration on a great wheel at the Homeplace

and even one completed sock for Heather--too bad I can't show you that one!

We also learned about constellations in a planetarium, saw owls and wolves at the visitor's center and spent one day on Lake Barkley at a birthday party for my niece.

But no trip would really be complete without a little more excitement! On our way home we stopped at a rest area somewhere in Southern Illinois. I noticed an older gentleman talking with my husband near our camper and wondered if the older man was in need of assistance. How optimistic I must have been! He was telling my husband that *something* was dragging on the ground between OUR truck and camper. That *something* turned out to be the plug that connects all the tail lights on the camper as well as the camper brakes to the controls in the truck. Apparently it had come loose while we were traveling. Ordinarily it would be no trouble to reconnect it. But driving with it dragging the road had worn about half of this plug away and no connection could be made.

As evening was falling hope of stopping for dinner faded and we began what might become a race against darkness, with no camper brakes and no camper lights. As we were south of Effingham, Illinois, I called information and found cell phone directory assistance to be a very satisfactory experience. I was connected almost instantly with WalMart, who claimed to have the wrong number of pins in their connector plug. I was then connected with Autozone, where the clerk also claimed not to have the piece we needed.

For some reason we took the Effingham exit anyway, thinking we would look at WalMart and verify whether or not they really had the wrong number of pins in the plug available there. We thought we needed a 7-pin plug but we weren't 100% sure. Maybe the WalMart 6-pin plug was what we needed after all. We took the exit to find out.

Not knowing where to find WalMart, we happened upon Autozone first. We thought it wouldn't hurt to look there anyway and at least they could tell us where WalMart was. I was calculating where we could camp for the night or find a cheap room if this plan failed. Driving without camper brakes and tail lights in the daylight is one thing, but we wouldn't have risked it at night.

If there was a positive side to this part of the story, it was that I got more done on Heather's 2nd sock while waiting at Autozone...
Our luck must have been changing, because my husband emerged from that store with the RIGHT plug! All that remained was for my brilliant son to cut off the old damaged plug, strip the wires and connect them all properly! No problem! Having a brilliant son really comes in handy.

We were soon back on our way, rewarding ourselves first with a hearty meal at the Effingham Cracker Barrell. We were home by midnight and arrived to hear the words of the audio book of Anne of Green Gables which refelected our sentiments exactly:

"I've had a splendid time....but the best of it all was the coming home."

Finished in time!

In case you were wondering....

I did get it done in time!

In addition to scoring a book and a poster, I got to log some quality knitting time with Heather & Amanda.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I'm in Love!

I've fallen in love. We met in June at TNNA, but then we parted, not sure when or if we'd reunite again in the future. Last Friday, we met again. The reunion was wonderful. Instant attraction prompted us to go home together, but we didn't start to really get to know each other until yesterday.

Of course, I'm talking about the new Ultra Alpaca Light, now available at River Knits! What did you think I was talking about?

This yarn is fabulous. The original Ultra Alpaca is a wonderful worsted weight yarn. It's warm and soft and just about perfect. Ultra Alpaca Light is exactly the same, only in a sport weight (really more of a light DK weight...). This is a wonderful, versatile yarn weight. It would be fabulous for sweaters, shawls, socks, scarves, mittens, gloves...just about anything! You can see a lot of wonderful garments using this yarn in the new Norah Gaughan Vol. 1 pattern book. But this is what I'm making:

It's the Stag Bag from the current issue of KnitScene. I can't wait to continue working on it. And I can't wait to knit more things with this yarn. I'm thinking about a pair of socks.....Warm, soft, wonderful socks. And then maybe a shawl. And after that I'll.....

Monday, July 23, 2007

Elizabeth was right and she says I have to tell you so...

Once upon a time, there was a Brand New Knitter who wanted to try socks. She bought a sock making book from a big crafty chain store. She bought some needles and yarn from a little yarn shop the crafty chain store employee recommended to her, when said chain store did not have double pointed needles. Her husband bought her some Brown Sheep Wildfoote Luxury Sock Yarn from a clearance bin at the yarn shop.

Brand New Knitter made a pair of socks for her husband...eventually. All she had knit with to this point was acrylic worsted weight and Lamb's Pride worsted...and the Wildfoote did not behave quite like those other yarns had. It got twisted up and was trickier to knit with.

Well...the socks got done and the Now Not Quite So Brand New Knitter told the Yarn Shop Owner (who she was getting to know a little better) that she hated, hated, hated the Wildfoote and would never use it again. Yarn Shop Owner said "Are you sure it's not just that you aren't used to sock yarns?" Well! Not Quite So Brand New Knitter was a brash and arrogant knitter, and wasn't about to be told that it was her lack of experience that was a problem when she knew full well the YARN was the problem.

Then...a few years later, the Yarn Shop Owner got a new stock of Wildfoote in wonderfully vibrant colors, and Not Quite So Brand New Knitter was a pretty heavily addicted sock knitter. She had to have some of the new Wildfoote. She tried it. It was beautiful. It was wonderful. It proved her wrong.

And proved the Yarn Shop Owner right.

I'm glad, though...because Wildfoote is made in Nebraska, and Not Quite So Brand New Knitter felt very disloyal for not liking it.

If you look closely, you can see Stromsburg. Wave to my dad!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Plain Old Sock

I've got a lot on the needles these days...so many projects that I said to Joe the other night, "I just need to FINISH a project", to which he replied, "Then you need to stop STARTING projects."

He's probably right...I have had a major bout of startitis this summer. Lots of socks, scarves and class samples are on the needles in various baskets around the house. The problem is that they all require careful pattern or chart following, and many nights when I get home, I do not have the mental acuteness (or strength, for that matter) to focus on those patterns and charts. And so I don't knit anything.

But two nights ago I just randomly grabbed into the rubbermaid tub of sock yarn and pulled out the first ball of yarn my hand found...and cast on for some plain old, wonderful stockinette socks. Isn't it beautiful? I feel so much better...

Monday, July 16, 2007

Stayin' Alive

...but barely! The Griffindor Scarf of Doom is about to put me right to sleep. It is about 3 o'clock in the afternoon and I can barely keep my eyes open. In case you're wondering, I'm less than 1/2 way done with Stripe #12 (which puts me more than half way done with the scarf--proof of a merciful God). My jogless joins look a little joggier than I'd hoped but I have several more stripes to practice on.

On the positive side, working with the Cascade 220 Superwash is a dream. What a wonderful yarn! I don't think I have ever used the Superwash before. It is so soft and yet crisp all at the same time. I love it. Another positive is that this will make a truly warm & comforting scarf (if I don't die of boredom before it is done). The Irish & Celtic Music podcast has kept me company quite a bit today. Thank you, Marc Gunn.

The truth is I would love to have a nice warm scarf like this, and maybe I would feel better about it if I weren't under a deadline. I think that's the secret to enjoying making one of these--that or taking up machine knitting!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Something new to work on...

Three guesses what I'm casting on. The first 2 don't count! Yes, a Harry Potter scarf for the resident fan at my house. We'll be going to the midnight book release party on Friday. Will one of us attend in Gryffindor style? Only time will tell.

And yes, it does mean I actually have 2 scarves on the needles at once. Who would've thunk it?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Elizabeth Socks and Yarn

First, an announcement. In honor of the fourth anniversary of River Knits, I've designed a new sock pattern: Elizabeth Socks! The pattern is, of course, available at River Knits or through the website. These are lovely socks that were great fun to knit. The lace pattern is elegant and easy to memorize. The pattern is written for a variety of sizes, knee or ankle length, and short-row or heel-flap heel. There's something here for everyone.

While we're talking about lace, let's talk about the wonderful new yarn available at River Knits: Jade Sapphire Lacey Lamb. When we saw this yarn at TNNA, I fell instantly in love. It's so soft and fine and perfect. It is also available in a wide variety of fabulous colors. So, last night, despite having four shawls on the needles already, I cast on for this, the Swirled Pearl Shawlette:

We saw this shawl on display last year at TNNA, but didn't order the pattern. It haunted me all year, and I was thrilled when they had it on display again this year. So, I asked Elizabeth to please, please, please order the pattern. I snatched it up as soon as it arrived, bought my yarn on Saturday morning, and cast on the shawl last night after I got home from teaching the sweater class. Here's what I have so far:

Yes, those are beads in the little dish. No, I don't have to string them all on before knitting. They are attached as you go with a little bitty crochet hook. Much easier (and more fun) than it sounds, I assure you.

I know a lot of people have been intimidated by the fineness of the Lacey Lamb yarn. It is extremely fine. However, this shawl is knit on size 7 needles while holding two strands of yarn together. It makes it quite easy to knit. I'm also using rosewood needles, which makes it even more luxurious. I encourage you to give this yarn a try. You could easily knit a scarf using one ball, with the yarn held double. And, if you are curious about knitting with beads, keep an eye out for the fall class schedule.

Too much of a good idea?

I've hoped that knitters who come to River Knits will learn to let go of perfectionism and learn to enjoy the process of knitting; to understand that every project won't be perfect but it will probably teach them something. Now I'm beginning to wonder if I've talked myself into taking this philosophy too far.

It all started with Sam's basket o' scarves. Heather's doing it too. I wistfully thought it would be nice to join them. I haven't really made that many scarves in my knitting life but I did love the idea of that basket full of them at Christmas. So when the Cestari Fine Merino crocheted halter was done and I still had some huge leftover balls of really nice merino I thought to myself, "Aha - this would make a great first scarf for the basket!" I commenced on a very attractive linen stitch pattern that would be nice for either a man or a woman.

This is one of those patterns that has you cast on a gazillion stitches and knit them on a long circular needle. Of course this means you don't have very many rows. But it also means that if you mess up a row it's a loooong way back to fix something. And I was a couple rows down the road when I realized that I'd gotten off on where I was slipping & where I was purling, so that instead of being staggered, a section of purls was lining up on top of each other.

Sam must be a kindredspirit because she said, "Oh just keep going; you probably won't even notice it later." Being a little bit lazy & looking for an excuse not to go backwards, I decided Sam was really smart!

Now I'm beginning to have some doubts that this was the right
approach. (Even though I do still think Sam is really smart.) The section that is "off" is puckered out and making a thickened section that stands out from the rest of the very flat fabric. But being several more LOOOONG rows into it at this point, I'm definitely not going back now. I'm operating on the "Steam the heck out of the glumpy part" idea. I am wondering if this complete disregard for getting it right is a sign that
a) my process over product idea has gone too far?
b) living with a houseful of kids has taught me "close enough will have to do?"
c) I need to get more sleep?
d) I'd rather be knitting socks?!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Wild Kat SIP

Wild Kats Hooooo! (Sorry Thundercats flashback)
I don't know how many others are in the Tofutsies sock club out there. I really like working with the yarn in this weather.
These socks will be for Mica because I forgot to change to the size 2 needles for the leg after the ribbing. This is a very important step if you want them to fit adult size calves. Mica is very pleased to say the least.
I think the pattern which is very cool would have shown up better in a more monotone or a solid color of the Tofutsies though. It is a bit of work for not much visual effect. The pattern makes the leg go fast.
If anyone else is making these can you chime in with your opinion on the pattern/sock color combo.
Thanks ^..^

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

WIP's & Life in Progress

What have I been knitting? I've been enjoying my first experience with Panda Cotton. As some of you may know Margie T. was a one woman cheerleading squad championing the addition of this line to the River Knits inventory. Now that I've got some on the needles, I'd have to say it was for a good cause! I am the first to admit that I don't always relish knitting with cotton. It can be hard on the hands and it can lackthe give and elasticity that wool has in abundance. With Panda Cotton they fixed this problem by blending bamboo, cotton and quite a bit of elastic nylon. This is a bouncy but soft yarn that is fun to work with. It is perfect for those who truly need to avoid wool (bless their hearts; I feel sorry for them; I really do) and for those who just want a fun lightweight yarn that will make a cool pair of socks.

Here's what I've gotten done so far:

This is the Breeze pattern. Very fun in that after you knit 5 rounds you start the heel flap. It is an astonishing feeling to get to that part of the pattern so quickly! It makes up for the cabled heel flap (which looks so nice in real life!) and the lacy instep.

If you are very observant you'll see that those are *metal* #1's in that sock. I decided to try out some new stainless steel dpn's from HiyaHiya. What a nice surprise these were! They are so light; I hardly feel their weight at all. They have a smooth but not slippery feel that is pleasing. Their pointy tips are perfect for manipulating more complicated stitches like tiny cables and ssk's. Apparently others are intrigued too because several sock knitters placed orders for these at Sock Club on Saturday. I have been waiting for my hands to hurt from working with metal dpn's, but so far they have not. I give the HiyaHiya stainless steel dpn's 2 thumbs up!

When I need a diversion from the lace pattern in the previous socks, I take out my newest pair of Joan's Socks, which are destined for the Akkol, Kazakhstan orphanage Christmas challenge.
So far the group has listed 26 pairs in the database. Goal: 250 by the end of July! This pair has Lush in the cuffs, Cascade 220 and Ultra Alpaca in the main part of the sock and Extra Stampato in the toe. I think it is a creative challenge to see how to make oddballs into something useful and attractive.

In the rest of life we have the screen room almost done and I'm spending a lot of time out there. Isn't this mild weather a delight? And in our basement we have the next wave of egg layers growing feisty and strong before they move out to their coop:

Can you find Sinead, Catalpa & Owl?

Monday, July 2, 2007

Birthday Notables (May 11)

I was tagged by Elizabeth for this one. See the post below for more details. ~Michelle

May 11

Three Events
1502 - Christopher Columbus leaves for his fourth and final voyage to the West Indies.

1820 - Launch of HMS Beagle the ship that took young Charles Darwin on his scientific voyage

1858 - Minnesota is admitted as the 32nd U.S. state.

Two Birthdays
1888 - Irving Berlin, American composer (d. 1989)

1959 - Martha Quinn, American television personality (Why didn't they mention MTV?)

One Holiday
Roman Empire - Feast of the Lemures (sorta like Samhain in fact the whole unsettled spirts thing made May a bad month to get married in making June a busy month for weddings. Very Interesting.)

I also have to add that Bob Marley died on my birthday.

Birthday Meme

I was tagged by Laura. I tag Michelle, Heather (of this blog!) Sam & Jamisyn. (I will add links later! It's time for dinner & my kids are all at overnight camp!)

Go to Wikipeda, look up your birthday, then post 3 events, 2 births, and a holiday. Then tag 5 other people.

September 8

1504 - Michelangelo's David is unveiled in Florence.

1966 - "The Man Trap", the first episode of the science fiction television series Star Trek airs.
I didn't need to look this one up on Wikipedia!

1974 - Evel Knievel's attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon at Twin Falls, Idaho, fails after a parachute prematurely deploys on his "sky cycle."

Evel Knievel was the epitome of daring & cool in my childhood.


On the very day I was born, no less than 3 famous soccer players were also born. Although the sport was almost unknown to me until I had a child who learned to play.

Oh I forgot a HOLIDAY

Birth of Mary (mother of Jesus) Am I supposed to believe that Mary and I share the same birthday? Amazing what you can learn on Wikipedia.

Pink Power!

Remember when I showed you what Sam *might* look like in Pink? Well a lot of knitters went crazy knitting socks for CIC

just so we could find out for real!

Three big cheers for Sam! Three big cheers for warm feet!

While I'm at it, maybe you'd like to see some of the other really great items knit for others by the generous River Knitters...

Baby hats & blankets for Trinity Nursing Center for Infant Health.

Vests for CIC/Akkol.

Hats, mittens & scarves for CIC/Cheyenne River Reservation.

And a real community effort on a blanket that was brought to us unfinished. It was a work in progress before the donor's family member passed away. Sheryl finished the knitting, Sue sewed the strips. And Ladona is taking it to the Women's Shelter where it will be a comfort to someone in need. As always, it's great to be a part of such a fabulous community of knitters!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Stash Confessional

Someone asked if I would fess up and post pictures of my stash. I finally decided to confess my yarny sins and show you what I have stashed away.

The treasure chest my dad made for me. How many dads would make their daughter a treasure chest for their yarn? When he gave it to me he wondered when I would have enough yarn to fill it up. He thought it was way to big. Little did he know my secret.

No laughing.

This is my current project table.

These are the projects in waiting baskets.

A basket with two sweaters-in-waiting.

A little something my husband built to hold my yarn. It is overflowing a bit.

My treasure chest. It also holds yarn for two sweaters and a mitten kit. Some other stuff as well but since you can't see that yarn in the picture we won't talk about it.

And finally the stash closet. Ummmm. The thingy my yarn is on has four shelves you can only see the top two. Again let's not mention what was cut out of the picture. The bags and baskets on the top shelf have yarn and a few finished gift projects in them.

Let's never speak of this again. I am off to make one of Amanda's Woo Woo martini's I think I need a drink to forget all this yarn so I can buy more on Saturday. Oh yeah! Elizabeth when is the new Alpaca sock yarn coming? I need that.

Back to knitting....

I hear there are some people out there who think I need an intervention. Just so you all don't think I've turned completely to the dark side, I thought you might want to know that I am still knitting. Crochet hasn't totally taken over. Here's what I'm working on:

Want to know what it is? I just posted a complete description on the Gaea Creations Blog. Hop over there to check it out.