Tuesday, August 28, 2007

World of Pain: The Back-to-School Edition

I know that people who, as my husband says, "work in industry" will not feel the least bit sorry for me. Neither will people who report dutifully to their posts year round, work their shifts like the respectable paycheck earners that they are, and then go home to pursue their hobbies in their free time. Nor will academics/teachers for whom knitting is a pleasant side activity. They most likely accord to it a measured and healthy amount of weekly time and manage to balance their knitting with work. But if there are those out there like me for whom The Knitting Lifestyle has surpassed the bounds of decency and have spent their summer knitting fiddling while Rome burns, I know you are feeling the depths of despair with me right now. WOW am I hurting. Knitting seems to have permanently damaged my work habits as I have become accustomed to hours and hours of swatching, Ravelry-ing and just general yarn induced lollygagging. So yeah, it's back to school for this Knitting Knucklehead and it's not pretty.
GemCherry Tree Hill Sockitome in Potluck: Jewels
Cherry Tree Hill Sockitome in Potluck: Blues/Greens
Luckily one of my fave LYSs is right on the route home from work, so I deadened the pain with some yarn. Hey, that's what it's there for, right? Stitch Your Art Out is a fantastic store for many reasons, the main one being that Kim and Cynthia are always keeping it fresh. Every time you go there, it's a new store because of the constant stream of new inventory. HELL to the YEAH. So I got some Cherry Tree Hill Sockitome in Potluck Jewels and Potluck Blues/Greens. You know, just to be nice and all.
RPM socks in Wollmeise 'Rhabarber'
I am progressing nicely on the Wollmeise RPM socks. There is a lot of hyperbole being thrown around these days in Claudia's direction, and let me just that it is all quite deserved. The colors are out of this world, and this yarn is like velvet...so if you can get your hands on some, I say DO IT NOW because the Yarn Harlot recently blogged about it and you know what that means, folks: scarcity city.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tiny Pals, Vanilla Knitter and a Birthday

I know I spent the last post turning up my nose at Angel motifs, but just look what the Darling Resident Marxist Wallpaper Scraper uncovered in our daughter's room underneath five layers of hideous wallpaper:
Angel #1 from under wallpaper
Angel #2 from under wallpaper
These must be from the 1920's at least. Since both our dads were born in 1927, we both imagined what our fathers lives had been like back then, and how much things have changed throughout their lifetimes. It was a pleasant surprise to find these little treasures, but sadly they are going the way of all the other paper to make way for the decidedly more modern Martha Stewart treatment. Although come to think of it, I'm sure Martha would be amused in her own Martha way by such a retro design find.

When it comes to sock patterns, I think I might have finally found the area in which I am profoundly vanilla. Don't get me wrong, my freak flag is out there and flying high in so many regards, but not when it comes to freak-kay patterns. I have been forced to come to grips with my own limitations after receiving the latest Socks That Rock sock club shipment and feeling yet again completely underwhelmed. Without a doubt the yarn is gorgeous and lovely and amazing in every way, it's just that once again the pattern seems over the top and too busy for my tastes. In fact, ALL of the patterns have been too much for me. When I see a variegated skein of STR like June's Firebird or this month's Flower Power, the first pattern I think of is something simple and uncomplicated with maybe a few ribs, or a basic stitch pattern similar to the one featured in the Jaywalkers. But the lace anklet/crazy cable/wacky stitch thing is just a little too much for me. I can't deal with the frou-frouness of it all. Hopefully I'll find another pattern for this yarn, one that will let me butch it up a little!
Speaking of butch, today is the DRMC's birthday and along with a new hub cap for his car and the recent Beastie Boys album, he is getting the above pictured fantastic loot. Yes, I am thoroughly on board with the Cobblestone and can't wait to get started after seeing this one and this one. Wasn't that so thoughtful of me to give him yarn for a sweater? Actually I happened to have this in my stash and am doubly excited to be able to use it for such a tantalizing project by the mighty Brooklyntweed, who I think we are all a little gaga for at this point...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Leaf Motif

Some are fond of flowers, there are those that love to adorn anything and everything with hearts, and others still find magic in Angels (not me, even writing that line gives me the creeps). Me? I am a major fan of the simple leaf motif as evidenced by the various leaf-inspired designs in our house:
Leaf Motif #2
Adding to my leaf collection is a finished pair of Embossed Leaves, a.k.a. The Most Magnificent Socks in the History of the World. Seriously--if you are in a sock lull, why not give these little darlings a whirl?
Embossed Leaves in Fleece Artist 'Moss'
This pattern is a major winner and I am gaga over the Fleece Artist Merino sock yarn. The color way is ‘moss’, an apt and fitting name as the yarn has all the subtle change in hue and variation that makes real moss so textured and appealing. The pattern was so easy to memorize, was such a pleasure to knit, and the end result is a pair of socks that are comfy and comely--and feature my favorite possible motif ever!
Embossed Leaves in Fleece Artist 'Moss'
The Specs:
Pattern: Embossed Leaves from Favorite Socks
Yarn: Fleece Artist Merino Sock yarn in Moss
Needles: size 2 Magic Loop
Notes: No modifications necessary, why would there be?
Embossed Leaves in Fleece Artist 'Moss'
Wollmeise: Rhabarber
I know I hinted that I was on the verge of sock saturation, but I do believe I have a few pairs left in me. Next up: the RPM socks in Rhabarber Wollmeise. How can I resist the lure of rhubarb and its last gasp before the autumn leaves must turn?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mail Call!

If there is one thing I love, it's getting parcels in the mail. You can keep your supermarket fliers, your credit card offers and your 'have you seen me?' mailings that come at an ever increasing clip. When I get to that mailbox, nothing gives me a greater frisson than a package. I am certain this is why in college I began a love affair with catalogs, and then later with Internet shopping. I believe it was all a big ruse for me to rustle up some special delivery joy for myself. Lately I haven't had to create any scams or confabulations to receive happiness in the mail, it's just happened.

Jenny from the Lone Knitter sent me this fantastic Lane Borgosesia yarn as a prize from her cancer drive on her blog: Lane Borgosesia Merinos Extra Fine
Our group knit a bunch of squares and received this as a prize donated by Knit-a-bit in Westfield, NJ. Although the selfish little bugger in me would love to scream "Mine all MINE-mwahahahaha", the polite Episcopalian in me will be dutifully turning it back over to our church knitting group so we can make some other charity project with this lovely pink yarn. Thanks for a great project, Jen!

Speaking of Jens, Miss Knitting Sutra sent me a skein of Scheepjes that I have yet to show you. My love of all things Dutch is well documented, so receiving this creamsicle-colored sock yarn made my heart skip a beat:Scheepjes Invincta Coloris

Thanks to both of you!

KH cardigan from Lace Style

I am in the process of finishing my Embossed Leaves socks which are turning out to be one of my favorite patterns ever, and when I do, I believe that I will be all socked-out. Is this is indeed possible? In anticipation of this state of sock fatigue, I have picked up a long haul wip that was on the verge of moving into permanent hibernation. The Katharine Hepburn Cardigan from Lace Style--a gorgeous piece of artistry but WOW is it taking forever. I am almost at the arm hole decreases and this feels like a major victory. Wasn't this going to be such a cute early summer affair? Look for this to possibly be done by next Easter...

Monday, August 13, 2007

The B.M.L. era* and a Kenric update

Jaywalkers--finito, baby!!
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know how utterly thrilled I am to be writing the following words: I have finished the Jaywalkers. This project had been on my needles for over 14 months and taunted me at every turn. But now I have subdued them into submission, and I owe it all to my trusty Hitachi Magic Wand Magic Loop method! You see, I started these socks in the B.M.L.* era and made scant progress on them. Indeed I spent many hours toiling away on these. After what would seem like an eternity, I'd look up from my work, which was starting to feel like a sort of knitting chain gang, only to discover that I had knit an inch at the most.
Enter the size 1 Addi Turbo (40 inches--because I am a size queen). Hello sailor! Yes, this past weekend my Magic Loop and I were able to make mincemeat of the Jaywalkers . And I am delighted.
Jaywalkers, in the can!
The Specs
Pattern: The Jaywalkers
Yarn: Opal Hand painted. I began this project so long ago that the person who hand painted the skein is most likely pushing up daisies. But I think the color is #20.
Needles: First they were on size 1 dpns. Two of them broke, and the manufacturer replaced them. Then I wised up and broke out the Loop. Nirvana ensued.
Notes: The socks are tight as hell, so they are destined for a friend with a dainty foot. If there is ever a next time, I'll definitely use a softer yarn like maybe Sundara or Brooklyn Handspun. The Opal Hand painted was too twine-like for my tastes.

*Before Magic Loop era. A time when knitting was dominated by frustration, sluggishness and a general lack of progress. Also referred to as the Dark Ages and the Sad period.

I am sure many of you remember my super pal Kenric. You know, the guy who knit a purse in a day after about 4 minutes of knitting instruction? Well, he's become very active in The Lifestyle. He has knit about 3 more purses. He has joined a Men's Knitting Group in San Jose. He has made friends with other local knitters and is making plans for an LYS yarn crawl. He is on Ravelry--check him out! He is making a cabled sweater. Yeah, his first sweater has cables. Alice Starmore you better watch out, sister, because I'm sure he'll be doing stranding before Labor Day.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

EZ to the rescue (again)...and a query

EZ Feb. Baby Sweater
My super pal Mike of Socktopus sent me a recording of Elizabeth Zimmermann telling her life story--of growing up in England, studying in Germany, meeting her husband, and coming to America. I played it on a recent car trip and was completely enthralled. When you tell things like this to your non-knitting friends, they think you're barmy. (A fine EZ vocab word). Her delivery is pure magic and she has such a knack for recounting events in a charming and detailed way. Listening to it motivated me to dust off my wayworn copy of Knitter's Almanac and finish a wip that was laying fallow in the bottom of the wip basket of purgatory. You might recall that I had a mini nervous breakdown over running out of yarn. As it turns out Babs had a skein of it to spare, and Bob's-your-uncle I was back in business. Hot damn!
EZ Feb. Baby Sweater
The Specs
Pattern: February Baby Sweater
Yarn: Koigu p403 (2.5 skeins held together)
Needles: size 6
Mods: I did the sleeves in the round using 2 circs. I love the pattern but next time will use a solid yarn as the pattern is lost in all of the Koigu variegated madness--two strands held together was just a little too busy. But don't I get style points for using Koigu for a non-sock knit?

EZ Feb. Baby Sweater
A funny thing happens when you work on one project exclusively--you actually finish it! The UFO August drill is proving to be of great use to me, as within the past week I have finished two pain-in-my-ass projects and this weekend should see the completion of the dastardly wip that has been on the needles the longest. Stay Tuned!

Part of my jobs involves overseeing student-created podcasts that are used in a foreign language classroom, so the whole podcasting thing is not foreign to me. I love the concept and think it has a myriad of genius applications. I have listened to a variety of knitting podcasts--some really dry and serious in a sort of formal way, and others raucous, chatty and completely annoying in that 'you had to be there' sort of way. But I have yet to find one that makes me want to put my Morrissey away. I am curious to know which podcasts you enjoy, and why. I am bandwagon-ready, but can't seem to find one that appeals to me.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Slothful, Slovenly Girl!

Monkey Socks
I am now what my deceased grandmother would refer to as a slothful, slovenly girl. Soon the Darling Resident Marxist Curmudgeon will return home from 5 long weeks away of toiling in an underground nuclear lab only to find that our house has fallen into utter disrepair, with tall weeds coming up through the cracks in the sidewalk and the front garden lousy with Dandelions and Creeping Charlie. He will note with dismay that the recycling bin is full of empty tonic bottles and microwave dinner boxes. Luckily we don't have Tivo™ (we're the type of pathetic pseudo intellectuals that don't actually admit to watching tv), because he'd be treated to a cavalcade of dreck such as Beauty and the Geek, My Super Sweet-16, and several season-long marathons of America's Next Top Model. He'd immediately accuse the kids, but we'd know better. Hopefully he'll appreciate the pile of hand knit socks that will be buried underneath the stacks of unopened mail!

In that pile will be these little wonders, celebrity socks that truly need no introduction:
Monkey socks
The Specs:
Pattern: Cookie A's Monkey socks
Yarn: Brooklyn Handspun in Jungle Canopy
Needles: HiyaHiya circs size 2, Magic Loop
June-August, 2007
These were an enormous pleasure to do as the yarn and pattern were well matched, I just love these HiyaHiya Needles. If you have never knit with Brooklyn Handspun, it is so soft and is pool-proof. I have gotten many compliments on this color way from non-knitters, as this has been a very transportable project and has galavanted quite a bit around town with me.

Completing this project also fulfills another goal: the August UFO challenge. Kirsten (inspired by Beverly) of Through the Loops fame has started a Flickr group for those of that have many unfinished object loose ends to wrap up before hard core fall knitting begins. So if you are in a situation where you need a little motivation to finish up several wips, join us via the Flickr group! My goal is to
complete the random socks that have been started and have at some point been inexplicably set down : Retro Rib, Canal du Midi, and Embossed Leaves all come to mind, just off the top of my head. I'm also determined to finish my Shetland Triangle as well, dammit! I feel like if I could just finish the above-mentioned projects, I would somehow be free and clear and a brand-new-shiny- good person, and not a slothful, slovenly girl. Are there any projects that you'll be damned if you don't finish by the end of the summer?

Thursday, August 02, 2007

My (DD) cup runneth over...

Kipling shoulder detail
In case you all were thinking that I was becoming a one-trick sock pony, I present to you a FO of another sort: Kipling!
Back of Kipling
Pattern: Kipling, available for free at Yarn Abuse
Yarn: Jeannee from Plymouth Yarns, color #7, 1.5 skeins
Needles: size 7
Front of Kipling

This pattern was a delight, thanks to Kim for making available a baby project that just flies off the needles and was one of the simplest, quickest baby knits ever. If you can believe it, this was this yarn snob's first time around with--gasp--acrylic. Jeannee is 51% cotton and 49% acrylic, and was a pleasure to work with. The acrylic gives the fabric a lovely sheen and helps maintain the shape of the cotton. And since it's not going to be touching my body, I can fully endorse the acrylic content of this yarn. Shhhh! Don't tell anyone that a former dévotée of the Preppy Handbook is making that statement.

This sweater is destined for a first time grad student mother in our department, and I can't wait to give it to her.
Can you stand how cute the collar is? Is there anything more fun that knitting for a newborn? Kipling: Highly recommended, a satisfying knit.

Look, I told you all that I had insanely good luck. Still skeptical? Well yesterday I received the Red Rocks yarn pictures below in the mail from the very lovely Courtney over at (prepare yourselves for the best blog name ever) Yarntootin'.
Red Rocks in California Raspberry Lite

Yee-haw! And one of my favorite bloggers (and soon to be ex
huisvrouw) out there Jen of Knitting Sutra is sending me some fantastic yarn from the Netherlands, just because I rustled up some interest in her contest. Honestly! And if you don't hate me already, I won some killer swag over chez Lone Knitter as well. Please know that there is a dark underside to my consistent winning of blog contests. I attribute it to the fact that the Internet is basically a soft addiction for me at this point. Yes, this summer Bloglines, Ravelry and I have logged a lot of hours together. It's been a non-stop ménage à trois. But alas the torrid summer romance will have to come to an end as other paycheck-related duties come to the fore. But we have had a hell of a time together.