Apr 30, 2008

Random Thoughts

I think that running into your hairdresser on the street when your having a bad hair day has to be a bad sign. Don't you? It can't possibly be good. Let's hope I'm wrong.

Last night I helped out at the spring book fair at my daughters school. I really wish that all those people predicting the end of the book could have the same experience I did. We sat inside the school library, listening to the crowd of kids gather loudly outside, pressing against the doors with barely contained excitement. Those kids could not wait to get inside and buy books! For and hour and a half I rang up tall stacks of books for my girl's classmates. It was so encouraging.

Is it just me or is there something very weird about having Def Leppard perform on Dancing With the Stars last night? I love the band from way back when so I was excited to see them even if they do look a little old and puffy. Incongruous is the word that came to mind watching them perform while the dancers did their thing. Even the camera people were thrown off by the spectacle. Thanks for the full screen shots of smoke Mr. Camera Guy.

What do you think about the new, brown, St*rb*cks logo? It's not really working for me.

DSC_0396I still haven't started this year's garden and it's making me feel like a bit of a slug. I had such big plans to enlarge the garden space, add a retaining wall to level it a bit, start plants from seeds, and use my own compost to enrich the soil. The space has been enlarged but that's the extent of the progress so far.

The blueberry bushes look pretty healthy. Maybe we'll just forget the garden and concentrate on the berries. No, not really but if anyone has a really good idea about for to keep birds and animals out of my blueberries I'm all ears. The nets I used last year only kept me out.

Apr 29, 2008

Hippy Ripply Socks

DSC_0425Assuming that most of you reading this blog are not reading the Sock Madness discussion, I'll indroduce these socks as if you hadn't seen them yet. This is the test pair of socks that I made from SM2 pattern 5 - Hippy Ripply Retro Socks. You see them here on DQ's feet because she claimed them for her own while I was still knitting them. I think that she was drawn to the yarn which is Dancing Leaf Farm Sock Hop in a color called Carnival.

I bought the yarn last fall when Felicia and I went on a studio tour in Maryland. As I worked with this yarn I realized how "not me" it is. I'm not usually a multi-color girl and this is a riot of color but I like it a lot. I can understand callin it Carnival but for me it's got a certain landscape quality. It reminds me of a painting somehow.

DSC_0427The pattern itself is fairly simple - slipped stitches and yarn overs - but the heel transitions turned out to be frustrating for many knitters. That made me kind of sad and I hope that the designer, Helen Darmara, is able to work it out before releasing it to the public. It wouldn't be the first time a pattern was tweaked after competition. The round 2 pattern, Reversai by Janine LeCras, caused a bit of an uproar due to the high stitch count. After it appeared in SM2, she revised it and now it's available for sale in a version with 2 sizes. If you look up Sock Madness on Ravelry or flickr you can find pictures of all of the SM2 socks. Some of them are gorgeous.

Back to these Hippy Ripply Retro socks. It's so hard to get a picture that does them justice. The colors and the texture are lovely. Dalis will be at MDS&W this weekend and i think I'll have to look her up and get more Sock Hop yarn.

Apr 27, 2008

So Excited!

This is going to be a great week. Not only do I have two pairs of socks that are nearly complete but Maryland Sheep & Wool is less than a week away. That would be enough excitement for anyone but it's even better than that because Carole is coming to MDS&W with Felicia and I this year. She arrives on Thursday so that I can take a day to show her some of the sights because she's never been to DC before. What a whirlwind visit this will be. Wish us good weather.

Apr 24, 2008

My DC - Week 15

I took my daughters for a lunchtime walk yesterday when they were in the city for Take Your Kids To Work Day. As we walked down K Street I saw this partially demolished building and something about it grabbed me. In my excitement to get the shot I had in my head I focused on the background instead of the girls and this is the result. I didn't alter it a bit. For some weird reason I love this picture. It looks so disjointed - like we were on vacation in a war zone.

A week from today I will be out and about in DC playing tourist with a bloggy friend who'll be visiting. Can't you just see it now? Two knit bloggers wandering the city with our fancy new cameras at the ready. I wonder what great shots we'll get. I can't wait!

Have a great weekend!

Ramdomness on Thursday

Today is Take Your Children to Work Day so I'm writing this while monitoring my girls. Having your kids in the office can make anyone feel a little scattered so here's a somewhat random post.

Take Your Children to Work Day isn't the only thing being celebrated in my office this week. There was Employee Appreciation Day and Earth Day too. Law firm tend to celebrate all these things by feeding you really good food. It really sucks that it's all falling during Passover - when I can't eat any of it. Willpower don't fail me now!

IMG_2425I wouldn't say that I'm over Passover quite yet but I'm getting close. It's not that there is nothing to eat. I've actually had some good lunches like this one yesterday - strawberries and sour cream with a coffee cake cupcake. Yum! I just feel limited and the fact that everything has to come from home - no last minute pizza runs - makes eating more of a planned enterprise. No fun at all.

Making the coffee cake in the form of cupcakes rather than a single pan was Stinkerbelle's idea. She has announced that she wants to go to culinary school and become a pastry chef when she grows up. She apparently feels the need to start proving herself now so no baked goods can leave my kitchen without her touch any more.

I finished another book last night (just 2 days start to finish) and it was really good and sooooo satisfying. I read What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman which got high marks in a review I read. It's a mystery about a woman who turns up claiming to be one of a pair of sisters who disappeared from a Baltimore Shopping Mall 30 years earlier and had long been presumed dead. The story is told from multiple points of view and goes back and forth between the past and the present dropping little tidbits and bombshells along the way. It sound like it ought to be confusing but it flows beautifully and I was so engrossed and enjoying the way the story unfolded that I didn't even want to peek at the ending (as I often do).

IMG_2422Having finished 2 novels is a week amuses me endlessly since I spent a good part of Saturday night with friends discussing how our daughters read too much. Ahhhh irony.

The sock I finished on Monday is this one - one of the pair of Elfine's Socks that I started 2 years ago. I'm beyond pleased to have been able to diagnose the problems preventing me from making progress and solved them. There was more to it than just knitting them one at a time and I'll tell you all about it when I'm finished with them. I'm certain that this will be a pair before I hit the 2 year mark.

Apr 23, 2008

H is for ...


When I started planning this post, the Capitals were still in the playoffs. They were battling back and looked like they might just get through to the next round. Unfortunately, last night game seven of the series ended in an overtime loss to the Flyers. My husband can put away his jersey until next year.

When we moved here, my husband was a fan of a host of NY teams - Mets, Jets, Islanders and Knicks. Some may detect a theme here as they all have less than stellar records. Anyway, of all of these, the only one that he is still dedicated to is he Jets (ultimate losers) and this is surprising since he grew up with the Islanders. His family used to have season tickets during the dynasty years and for a while one of the team lived across the street from him. Is it any wonder that he claimed to bleed Islander Blue? He was a die hard fan.

So what happened? We moved to a town where the local team has one of the best owners in the NHL.
Ted Leonsis is one of the most fan-oriented owners out there. I know this because I've witnessed his greatness first hand. In 2001, the Caps had a series of events planned to kick off the season. Hubbo planned to be at a bunch of them but stuff kept getting in the way. The last straw was when he came down with a wicked stomache virus and was unable to use the tickets he was given for his birthday. He was so sad.

rockTheRedTeeShirtKnowing Ted's reputation I sent him an email. I'm not sure what I expected - something small to be sure. Instead, after a few emails between myself and Ted, (not an assistant) a large package arrived at our house 2 days later. Hubbo knew nothing about my emails at all so he was shocked when he saw the return address on the Fedex shipping tag. He was sputtering when he called me to tell me about it. He had no words. Inside was a hockey stick autographed by the team.

As I'm sure you can imagine, hubbo was elated and it was infectious. My girls caught the bug and now I live in a hockey house.

H is also for Hooray because with this post I am finally back on schedule for the ABC Along. Yay!

Apr 21, 2008

Socks, Books and Stuff

DSC_0411Yesterday was day 2 of the stormy weather and I had such a hard time staying awake all day but I still finished a few things. One was a book and the other was a sock. Here are 2 of the socks I've been working on. Can you guess which one is finished?

The book I finished is Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay. It's a thriller like the first two in this series but it's also a departure and I didn't enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the first two. This installment deals with the origins of Dexter's Dark Passenger - the thing inside him that guides him to kill. My problem is with the I like thrillers but I'm not really into demons and the occult. I wish that Dexter could just go back to ridding us of evil doers and pretending to be human.

I recently came across Ten on Tuesday while surfing and I like the idea so I signed up. Here is my first one:
10 Things I Love About My Life

  1. My daughters - they rock my world and I cannot imagine a life without them.
  2. My husband - he is my partners and supports me in all that I do.
  3. My family - my siblings, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins - they're all so important.
  4. Friends near and far - this is one of those things that you appreciate so much more when you don't live near your family. Good friends are a comfort and they make where ever you are feel welcoming.
  5. Home - buying our house was a big deal. It's not big but it's ours and every wall we paint, every tree or shrub we plant makes it more of a reflection of us.
  6. The DC Area - there is so much to do and see here and we really do take advantage of it.
  7. Creating with my girls - not only do I knit, I dabble in all kinds of crafts and my daughters share my creative drive. We cook together, sculpt with clay, play with fiber etc. It's so much fun to teach them how to do things.
  8. My job - having a job that challenges me is great. Librarians supposedly have a high job satisfaction rate and I know that's true for me.
  9. Travelling - I don't necessarily need to go far, in fact, we take lot's of road trips in the car. I just love seeing places we haven't been to before.
  10. Entertaining - I love having big gatherings and I'm so happy that my friends like coming to them. The other night we finished dinner and sat around talking until someone finally noticed that it was 11:30. I love that people are so comfortable at my house.

Holiday Prep

For the past few weeks I've been busy planning and preparing for the Passover holiday. I visited many supermarkets - some 4 or 5 times - and collected all kinds of special foods. I dragged out all of my recipe books and tried to cobble together a menu that would work for everyone. Saturday night, we all sat down to eat the festive meal and I was amazed to realize that I got it all done. Brisket, sweet & sour meatballs, 2 kinds of chicken, veggies etc. It all made it to the table reasonably hot and good. I am so relieved.
I'm also relieved because this Passover was accompanied by a bit of dread. My dad has been gone for about 6 months now and I finally understand what a gradual process mourning is. It comes in waves and it's triggered by odd things.
I invited all of my friends to the first night seder a few months ago because I wanted to be certain that our table was full. No empty seats! I thought that if my house was full of people then I wouldn't notice who was missing from the table as much. I also altered the menu for similar reasons. My dad was always the one to carve the turkey so this year I eliminated it. The thing is, I assumed that this was all my issue. My girls and husband support me but, for the most part, they seem ok with things.
As I prepared for the holiday I realized that my girls are still very aware of the void. DQ asked about having an empty seat at the table. She wanted to preserve grandpa's spot. I declined because I couldn't face the empty seat but I was surprised and touched that she wanted it. Stinkerbelle started asking about who I called on That Night. The questions were so unexpected but I answered her questions.
Through all of the holiday prep I heard over and over from the girls about Passover a year ago (I think) when the girls spent a day with my dad. They both recalled eating Passover coffee cake, orange juice and chocolate and and hanging out with him all day. It's not the kind of day I'd expect to create a lasting memory but it has.
Knowing that my girls were missing my father as much as I was made the holiday prep kind of bittersweet but it was comforting too.

Apr 18, 2008

My DC - Week 14

I've seen this building often on my way to work. And I always make a quick mental note to come back and examine it one day. The other day I finally remembered my camera and took a few minutes on my way in to get some pictures.
It looks cool doesn't it? I have no idea what's inside but outside is awesome. Look at all of the different patterns. Check out the keyhole window.

Look at all of the nifty details and the beautiful blues.

DSC_0012Let's put this building in context. See it there - way down in the bottom left corner? Which do you suppose came first - the big honking office building or the sweet little gem next to it? I'm guessing it was the gem.

This city is just full of surprises.

Apr 16, 2008

G is for


These days, people talk about green all the time. Green cars, green homes, green living in general. All of this is very important and I'm for anything that is good for the environment but this post is about green in the traditional sense. I love the many shades of green -forest green, olive, celadon, British racing green, emerald, jade, etc. - they're all lovely. I find green to be both a soothing, relaxing color and a fresh crisp color. Both of these are pleasing qualities.

I have a tendency to surrround myself in green and in the house I try tame it and choose other colors so that it doesn't overwhelm anyone. Outside, green is expected and I can let my love for it go wild. This is one of the things I got during my recent bout of spring fever. It's a Yoshino Cherry Tree and I hope that it will grace my front yard for many years to come. The flowers are already gone for this year but look at the pretty green leaves. I want to call it Yoshi but hubbo thinks thats corny. Hello Yoshi - welcome home.
Another example of green that makes me smile - green yarn of course! When I went looking for green yarn in my stash I was amazed to find so little. I would've expected to find much more but, then again, i didn't look too hard and I only opened my cabinet for a moment. The cabinet is a wee bit overstuffed and i was afraid it would all fall out. Yes, that must be it. I'm sure that there's more green yarn lurking about. It's just buried in the stash.
Oh yeah, green socks are pretty cool too. I'm calling these my Poison Zombies. I love these socks! DQ loves them too and made a lame attempt to claim them when she modeled for me. The seems to be a theme. I'm knitting these almost exactly as written except that, based upon comments made during the round of Sock Madness where these were knit, I converted all of the knits to knit through the back loop. I think this makes the pattern stand out very nicely. It looks very crisp. I'm also making these a little shorter than specified because I'm not big on tall socks.

Apr 15, 2008

Resurrecting a Project Gone Wrong

IMG_2418Look what I ran right into last night on the way from home - the presidential motorcade! I really should've known better. The Pope arrived at Andrews at about 4 and I left my office at 4:30 so the odds of running smack into the presidential motorcade as I crossed 15th and Pennsylvania was like 99.9%. It's not unusual in the city to see a motorcade (I saw one on the way to work this morning too) but the president's is a little special. They totally block EVERYTHING off for a while preceeding it. I was stuck on a corner with a bunch of business people and tourists for about 10 minutes. We weren't allowed to step off the curb at all. Politics aside - it was pretty cool and made me wish I'd brought my big girl camera with me.

I finished another sock on Monday so, even though I already had another (secret) sock OTN, my aversion to project mongamy drove me to my pile of UFOs where found this one. I remember it well -Elfine's Socks by Anna Bell in Koigu. Lovely color, lovely yarn, lovely pattern. All good things! So why is this a UFO? Better yet, why has this been OTN since June 2006? Yes - nearly 2 full years!

According to the first appearance of these socks on the blog, I started them around June 5, 2006. As you can see I was knitting them 2 at a time on 2 circs. At the time I said that I was not magic looping because I hated that technique. Apparently I've evolved a bit and Magic Loop is now my preferred mode. I've also learned that I really hate despise dislike knitting socks 2 at a time so I divided these socks up and each is now set up for Magic Loop by itself. I'm hoping that will lead to more success.

Slippin' Stripin' Socks

I haven't discussed Sock Madness 2 over here much lately but it's not because I'm not enjoying it. I am very much. It was hugely entertaining for me last year and this year it's even more so. The discussion has covered everything from Passover preparartion to Monty Python to alternate curse words. It's constant and always amusing.
I don't mention it here because I'd hate to be boring you with it. I can't show you the socks I've knit for it until after they are released to the players and just telling you about them in the astract without pictures is really just a tease. Thankfully, I can finally show you one of the pairs i tested for this year's games.

This is Slippin' Stripin' by Tina Lorin. You may recall that she designed 2 socks for the first Sock Madness - Mad Weave and Mad for Fair Isle Batik Style. She submitted this pattern at the same time but it uses lace weight yarn and I was intrigued by it but I wanted to be certain that there were superwash yarns that would work before using the pattern. I didn't try it then but it stayed with me in the back of my mind.
At Stitches East last year I found the Tess Designer Superwash Merino and instantly snapped it up with these socks in mind. I don't know the names of these colors but I love how they look together. If you want to see how other yarns combined them check out the flickr group here. Some of them are fantastic! The effects created by yarns of similar colors versus those with high contrasts are so interesting. This pattern is great for anyone who is into color play.

DSC_0160The pattern is really pretty simple with all of the interest coming the changing colors and slipped stitches. Because the lace is so thin, it combines very smoothly and I was able to knit the ends in as I went and you can't even see them now. Only time will tell but none of the ends have come out at all so far.

Working with the multiple strands of fine yarn and the slipped stitches can be a little tricky and I screwed up in one spot and knit 2 stitches together. Thankfully it was on the sole of one foot near the toe so I just left it alone and adjusted for it.

The use of slipped stitches and stranded yarn yields a super squishy sock. I said elsewhere that this is better described as a sweater for the foot because it has that thick, cushy feel to it. It's like no other sock I've ever worn.
By the way, I should note that my foot model is DQ. Her feet are now a half size larger than mine. It's very convenient to have her feet around because we all know that taking pictures of ones own is not easy at all.

Apr 14, 2008

Outdoor Fun and Games

This past Friday I went on the 6th grade field trip with DQ. It was such a huge, honking, deal that she made me promise to chaperone this trip about a year ago. We went to Hemlock Overlook for a day of outdoor fun.


We were broken up into smaller groups and the kids completed a series of fun, challenging, tasks. They did the zip line and navigated a giant spider's web. There was a water feature they had to get across on a rope. All of the chaperones were nervous during that task. We were sure that one of the kids would wind up in the nasty water but they kids worked it out really cooperatively and the worst that happened was that one boy soaked his shoes and a few kids (including DQ) got the tips of their toes wet. The next group wasn't so fortunate - 2 boys totally fell in but it wasn't deep and all they got was wet.

RibbitIt was all about team building, supporting and trusting one another. The kids were divided up by the facilitators so all of the usual cliques were broken up. It was so nice to see them step away from the usual school drama for a day. The hardest thing, as a chaperone, was keeping quiet and letting the kids work out the task solutions themselves.

One of the best things was the weather. Earlier in the week they were predicting rain and nastiness but it was gorgeous and sunny all day. It was warm too - in the mid 70's. I couldn't have chosen a better day to play hooky from work! Let's hope that the next few weekends are similarly wonderful. Over the next 3 weeks, I'll be taking 2 Friday's off. Yahoo!

Not QuiteThey were also predicting torrential rain storms for the weekend which worried us because Saturday was the opening day for the girls softball league that Stinky plays in. They had all kinds of festivities planned including displays of team spirit. We were so lucky because, aside from one brief shower, it was a perfect day. They got the whole game in and all of the girls did a wonderful job. Even better - they hit the ball! Yay! It's a team for girls 8 and under so this is a very big deal. I think that this little girl will make an excellent player in the future - she couldn't wait to put a helmet on!

Stinkerbelle had so much fun that she's thinking that this may be her "thing." DQ has her dance but Stinky has tried a lot of things without falling in love. She told Hubbo and I that she loves softball. We're both thrilled but especially Hubbo - he is the coach. It's a job he's dreamed of forever. He plays in an adult league and he is so excited to share his love of the game with Stinky. I just need to remind him to pace himself and not overwhelm her with his excitement. So far - so good.

Apr 10, 2008

My DC - Week 13

My DC has got Caps Fever! Last night, as I waited on line for a ride home, we saw these guys going nuts on Constitution Avenue. They were painted red, wearing Capitals jerseys, waving Capitals flags and beating a drum. There were about 6-8 of them including the mascot, Slapshot, and they were having a blast and why shouldn't they be? The Washington Capitals are in the playoffs!
The sad thing is that some of the other folks in line with me didn't know what was up. I overheard them discussing the display and speculating on what they were demonstrating against. Tibet maybe? I suppose it was a fair guess - this is DC after all.

Another Sock and a Few Books

Picture 019Well, I didn't get everything done last night but I did finish the painting and this sock. The picture is kind of lame because I took it in my office this morning. I'll get better shots when I show it as part of a pair. So far, the sock and the yarn are working just fine. The yarn is Elann Sock It To Me 4-ply and it's fine. I'm not in love but it's perfectly nice yarn and I expect that it will wear well. It's just not exciting - not like the Storm Moon yarn I'm using for the Zombie socks. That stuff's got attitude!

The pattern is nice too. It' the Wishbone socks by Nancy Bush. The lace is easy to remember but that doesn't mean that I haven't made an eror or 2. Most errors are just the result of losing track mentally of which row I'm on. Nobody will notice but me so it's all good.

Peony in LoveI also finished a book yesterday. After reading a few positive reviews and hearing an interview with the author, I picked up Peony In Love by Lisa See. It's a wonderful book that is unlike anything else I've read. It's told in first person by Peony, a sheltered girl from an important family in ancient China who we meet on the eve of her sixteenth birthday. She is preparing to marry the man chosen for her by her parents when she accidentally meets a handsome stranger at a production of her favorite opera - The Peony Pavilion. She becomes obsessed with this man and with the Peony Pavilion and, like other women before her, dies of lovesickness. She spends the rest of the novel as a ghost - interacting with other spirits and observing those she left behind.

I'm usually a mystery girl so books about ghosts stories are totally outside my comfort zone but I really enjoyed this. The details about the customs and rituals in ancient China are really amazing. The author really makes it come alive. Sometimes, as with the depiction of foot-binding, the presentation may be uncomfortably vivid but it's through these customs that we understand the status of women in that society. Through Peony we see the life she was bred for and the possibilities she never knew existed.

I've also read City of Fire by Robert Ellis which caught my eye last summer when it appeared in People magazine as a "Beach Bag Pick" by Janet Evanovich. I figured that any book recommended by the author of the Stephanie Plum books was worth a try. The heroine of this book, Lena Gamble, is trying to solve a series of gruesome murders. Unlike Ms. Plum, she's got no time for shoe shopping and no parents to make her dinner. She's just a great detective with a little extra baggage - her rock star brother was the victim of an unsolved murder a few years earlier. She is still pretty new in her division when she draws the lead on a horrible murder that turns out to be the work of a serial killer. After one of the subsequent victims turns out to be the best friend of her brother she feels a connection but can't quite put her finger on it. The story takes a few twists and turns before arriving at a suprising and satisfying conclusion. It looks like this will be the first in a series and I'll be watching for it to continue.

Apr 8, 2008

The Opposite of Monogamy

My spring fever continues. Last night hubbo was sanding the patched nail pops and priming the walls and I met with the outdoor guy who does our spring cleanup. Tonight I'll be painting and hopefully my girls will be planting seeds so that we can start a few seedlings indoors. I'm sure that my spring fever will pass soon but right now it's just crazy at our house.

The other thing that's keeping me very busy is socks. I just can't stop knitting socks. I often read other blogs and people are always talking about their project monogamy. They say that the focus helps them get stuff done and they enjoy it more. I wish I was one of those people. I'm not. Whatever the opposite of project monogamy is - that's me. I go back and forth between projects all the time and I think that maybe the variety is what makes me happy.

Right now, in addition to actively working on Sahara and the red baby sweater, I've got 2 socks on the needles. I showed you the red Wishbone sock last week I've turned the heel and I'm nearing the toe on it. Right now, it's in my little GoKnit pouch but it's not alone. Last week I cast on for a pair of Zombie socks. I used a yarn that I bought at the Homespun Yarn Party Twilight Sock from Storm Moon Knits in Crocodile Rock.


This picture was taken a few days ago. Right now this sock is also past the heel and the gussets. I go back and forth between the socks. I do a repeat or 2 on one and then a repeat or two on the other. They both fit nicely in the GoKnit pouch so it's easy to have them both handy. For me, having 2 very different socks to work on is good because the yarn has a little different feel and the patterns, while both intuitive and easy to do on the go, have different rhythms.

The trick will be deciding which 2 socks to start next because there is a good chance that both odf these will be finished today. Oddly, working on 2 matching socks at the same time isn't something I find enjoyable.

Drowning Dragonflies

Gosh, I am such a bad swapper. I showed you my wee tiny sock yesterday but I never told you who made it. My sock was made by Stacy (no blog) who is in Duluth, MN. She sent such a nice note with the sock too.

DSC_0127Perhaps my bad behavior can be forgiven if I share a finished object. I'm calling these my Drowning Dragonflies socks. These represent a milestone in my spinning because this is the first time that I got fiber with something very specific in mind and executed it. The fiber was called Dragonfly but there is something undeniably marine about the colors. It really doesn't matter what you call the color - it just screams Stinkerbelle. She loves blues but particularly the aqua shades so when I saw this top at Maryland Sheep and Wool last year I knew it was perfect for my Stinky girl.

I bought this with socks in mind even though my spinning at that point was still very rough. I had no reason to expect to be able to spin anything even remotely consistent for quite a while but I really wanted to. Before I started knitting with it, I thought the yarn was very unimpressive. It seemed very uneven but as I knit with it I realized that it's better than I thought.

Very often when we spin, that process is enough of a purpose in itself. For example, the batts I bought at the Homespun Yarn Party are destined to be nothing more than skeins of beautiful yarn. That's fine but I think that knitting with our handspun yarn can be an important part of the learning process. In the past, knitting with my handspun has alerted me to flaws that I wasn't aware of. This time, as I created these socks, I realized that I wasn't as bad as I thought I was and that was such a great feeling. This yarn was soft and very stretchy and knitting with it was really enjoyable.

DSC_0126Because I was knitting handspun of questionable weight, I started a simple toe-up sock with the magic cast on and followed the yarn. What evolved was a 48 stitch sock with a short row heel and a subtly patterned leg with the following pattern which I just made up on the fly:

1-4 *Sl1, P3* (repeat around leg)
5 K all stitches
6-9 *P1, Sl1, P2* (repeat around leg)
10 K all stitches
11-14 *Sl1, K3* (repeat around leg)
15 K all stitches
16-19 *K1, Sl1, K2* (repeat around leg)
20 K all stitches
Repeat 1-20 again and finish with a 2x2 rib.

I'm sure that's not terribly original but it worked and made a satisfying sock that showed off the yarn well. The only small problem I had was that a thinner section of the yarn woulnd up on one of the heels but that's easily remedied with a little reinforcing. The most important thing about these socks is that Stinkette loves them and so do I.


Apr 7, 2008

Bee in My Bonnet

DSC_0139Every year at around this time I get this itch to spruce things up a bit. A bee in my bonnet for sure. I'm sure many people do. Sometimes I feel the need to garden, others it's redecorating. Rarely is it both but this is one of those years. All last week my head was buzzing with ideas and Saturday I enlisted DQ and we went out to pick up a few things. By the time we returned home, there was a tree hanging oout of the passenger window and my trunk was overflowing with stuff. Oy!
The rain postponed my gardening so I spent a good part of the weekend sprucing up the upholstery in the house. It's amazing how little money it took to take the old, stained, and hard seats of four chairs in a pattern that I never liked and make them softer, and way more appealing. The new, blue seats make a huge difference and were pronounced a hit by the whole family.
I tackled other indoor projects too with similar success. Today I feel very accomplished but so achy. Who knew that using a staple gun could make your hands hurt so much? I need to flex my hands today because tonight I want to take on the next indoor project - painting! I am on a roll.
DSC_0151Another thing that I've added to my plate recently was a pair of swaps. The first was the Wee Tiny Sock swap which was nice for it's simplicity and modest demands. I enjoyed making the little sock that I sent out and, on Friday, I was happy to see mine arrive. I have had a red mini sock hanging in my car for quite a while and it was time for a change. The old sock was red but this sock is striped and springy.
The other swap I'm doing is the Special Swap and the theme this time is Sweet Treats. I'm so excited for this. What a great theme. Lynne sent out a little questionaire for us all. Here it is:

1. What were your three favorite treats in your Halloween bag? Do I have to choose just 3? I love the Smarties, Hershey Bars, M&M’s, red licorice (I love tying knots in shoestring licorice), Skittles….
2. What were the three treats that you would trade away? Anything with nuts or peanut butter in it.
3. Do you bake? I love to bake and generally start from scratch. My favorite tools are some that I inherited from my grandmother but my collection has grown a lot. I’m considered a fairly skilled baker and have even made one ornate wedding-type cake for a shower.
4. Do you order dessert in a restaurant? If so, what is your favorite dessert? I don’t always order dessert in a restaurant but, when I do, it’s often crème brulee or an apple cobbler.
5. Tell me about your favorite Candy-colored yarns, and what candy are they inspired from? I never really thought of my yarn in terms of candy before. I do have a bunch of chocolaty looking yarn and there are a few that remind me a bit of red licorice.
6. When you knit a special "icing on the cake" accessory for your outfit, would you knit ...... socks, a scarf, a hat or a bag? I love to knit socks. They’re like a special little secret peeking from under your cuffs. I do enjoy felting bags and I think it would be great fun to do a Noni bag one day. I love the flowers – pansies, chrysanthemums, cherry blossoms… I love them all. My biggest problem is choosing just one.
7. Describe the perfect ice cream sundae. When I was younger we always went to friendly’s and I always got the same thing – One scoop mint chocolate chip, one scoop black raspberry and strawberry topping. Whipped cream and a cherry are a necessity but no nut please.
8. Are there any knitting treats that you would love to add to your collection? I am always up for more knitting treats.
A book you would like for your library? There are a lot of good books out there that I’d love but The Natural knitter, The Knitters Book of Yarn are on my list. I’d also love a really good book on natural dyeing.
A knitting gadget for your notions bag? A wpi tool or a really good needle sizer would be cool.
A sweet yarn? I can never have too much yarn. I love them all except for self striping. I love subtle color changes.
9. Think about the best homemade dessert from Mom or Grandma. Do you have the recipe to share? I really can’t think of any. Mostly I use cookbooks for sweets.
10. What local or regional treats would you insist your swap partner try if she visited your town? How sad is it that I can’t think of any?
11. Cupcakes....talk amongst yourselves. Yum… cupcakes. I just love making cupcakes because they’re like a little canvas for wonderful creativity. I make cupcakes for my girls to take to school on their birthday’s each year and I try never to repeat myself. It’s a challenge but it’s been so much fun.

Apr 4, 2008

My DC - Week 12

I had a totally different post planned for today but I forgot to upload the pictures. Duh! It seems like I'm doing that a lot lately. I must get it together.
These pictures are from a recent lunchtime walk. The building is the Treasury Department. Its massive and mostly boring in my opinion but I do like the way Andrew Hamilton stands there watching all who enter. I also like the columns and enjoyed taking this picture of them.

Apr 3, 2008

F is for...



One of the first things people see when they visit our house is the huge (75 gallon) tank in our livingroom. It's Frankie's home. Frankie may not roam the house like some pets might but Frankie is Family and she makes herself known. She swims and basks and splashes anyone sitting too close to her tank.

Recently, when I was sitting shiva for my father, we had prayer services each night at my home. On the first night, the rabbi turned to the gathered friends and family to ask which way was east because that's the direction we had to face. It turned out that Frankie's tank is on the east wall of the living room so we all turned to face the Frankie and she was thrilled. She had an audience!

For the next few nights, we gathered each evening and faced Frankie and she put on such a show. That turtle loves her public! She would climb up her log and leap off causing water to splash out of the tank. She would paddle like her life depended on it and do anything else she could to grab our attention. She added a bit of levity to an otherwise somber occasion and we all appreciated it.

Frankie may be confined to her tank but she has become more a part of our family than we ever imagined.

Apr 2, 2008

Wednesday is for Answers

So, what did I buy and what were those other 3 movies. I’d hate to leave you hanging so today is answer day.

Over the past two years or so my stash has grown by leaps and bounds. It’s really a little embarrassing because it has it’s own furniture and it’s already outgrown it. I’m knitting it up as fast as I can but still… I think it’s multiplying. There is no good way to justify going to the Homespun Yarn Party. Oh, wait, I’ve got one – I was supporting local fiber artists. Yeah, that’s it. That’ll work.
DSC_0104 I went there with spinning fiber in mind and I made an instant beeline for the Loop table. She had such beautiful batts. It was hard to limit myself to 2 but I did. The reddish braid is C-eye-ber Fiber. It was so hard to get near either of those tables that I consider those purchases major victories.
When I got home and showed the family two funny things happened. Stinkerbelle tried to abscond with the lighter one. She wants to felt it. She’s got great taste but she’s out of luck because it’s all mine.

When hubbo saw them he asked what I was going to make with them. Um… yarn. He said “yeah but what will you make with the yarn?” I told him that sometimes that’s enough and he looked at me like I was nuts. The idea of making a beautiful yarn and enjoying it as such is clearly foreign to him.

DSC_0102Although it wasn’t really in the plan, I bought a bit of yarn at the party too. The bluish yarn is from Storm Moon Knits and the other 2 are Woolarina. Just look at how different they are. As I looked at my purchases and thought about what I look for in a yarn and how my fiber desires have changed, I was struck buy how different these yarns are. With all of the people out there creating batts and fiber blends, the dyers and the spinners – there is such variety. The interpretation is so different from one to another. For example -you’d think that there would be more overlap and repetition between the sock yarn dyers but look at these. Could they be any more different.?

Movie Meme
I had so much fun putting this together and I figured that you’d all get them in a heartbeat. It turns out that it took a few days and there are still 3 left over. Here are the answers.

1. If you were happy every day of your life you wouldn't be a human being. You'd be a game-show host. – Heathers Can you tell that I’m an ‘80’s throwback? Perhaps I should’ve used a different quote like “Dear Diary, my teen-angst bullshit now has a body count.” That just seemed too easy .
4. You probably got it all figured out, Corey. If you start out depressed everything's kind of a pleasant surprise. Say Anything See what I mean about being a throwback? This is another movie from the same darn year – 1989. What does that say about me?
6. A real loser is someone who's so afraid of not winning he doesn't even try. Little Miss Sunshine I loved this movie so much.