Saturday, October 27, 2007

Over the Moon

Royal Mail
I have been rendered speechless and am over the moon in love with the mailman right now. Within a space of 36 hours, I have not only received the latest STR package (which the goth chick in me is loving), but also a shipment of yarn from Nordic Fibers (see below) as well as, most significantly, my Single Sock Swap package from Alice of Slipped Stitch. She has spoiled me beyond all belief--the sock is called Rambling Vines and was designed especially for this swap. The yarn is Wensleydale Longwool, from Yorkshire, my ancestral home! She even hand wrote out a chart on graph paper!
Rambling Vine sock
Rambling Vines detail
Aren't I lucky? Not to be all emo as Tween Thing would say, but when I opened the parcel I wanted to start crying. I couldn't believe that something so beautiful would have been made for me by such a talented knitter. And English chocolate bars and a lovely, baubly i-cord? Alice, you are a wonder. *sigh*
Rambling Vines chart
Now my most fervent desire is that my swap partner will experience a bit of the same joy as well...but the pathetic, insecure loser in me is worried that she's going to receive my sock and feel crestfallen, like in junior high gym when you're assigned to have Husky Jeans as your tennis partner and you say 'What???? No fair!!!!'. Flashbacks of middle school aside, I am hoping that my sock doesn't suck. Of course me being me I had to make the whole process 8 times more complicated than it needed to be. I cast on, in order, the Twisted Flower (rats my partner is knitting that for her partner!), the Winding Cable knee socks (knee socks, when you're on a deadline?!), Uptown Boot socks (just didn't look special enough), The Twisted Tweed socks (awesome pattern, wrong yarn) only to settle on the STR Central Air pattern (finally, a winner!). Now if I can just get to the heel...
STR Central Air in Koigu
Despite my fits and starts, I am enjoying the swap, but am also looking forward to future projects. That Cobblestone will be done soon enough, now can you guess what I'm going to be doing with the yarn pictured below?

Monday, October 22, 2007


Snowbound in Aspen!
Winter is coming people--I have just experienced it in Aspen and am so ready for it come to my home town. Things I love about Aspen: (visually) indulging in one's predilection for young, tan blonde dudes in wraparound sun glasses who use the word 'dude', seeing hippie chicks with whitegirl dreadlocks toting around their new age babies in one arm and juggling sticks in the other, witnessing the most phenomenal examples of plastic surgery this side of L.A., and of course, the incredible natural beauty that attracts all of the unusual residents that make Aspen the freak capital of the Rockies.
Snowbound in Aspen!
My work related trip afforded me the opportunity to knit like a mofo. Why? Because we were snowed in.
Snowbound in Aspen!
Snowbound in Aspen!
I have made massive headway on the Cobblestone and hope to have that project in the can before not too long.

Cobblestone by the fire
Yes, there was some serious fireplace knitting happening, and that was well, just really dreamy. But alas all good weekend wing dings must come to an end, right?

This afternoon I was lucky enough to come home to the first installment of the
Woully Boully sock club:

Woully Boully Sea Grass

This if Softie Sock Superwash Merino in Sea Grass and I love it. Jenny is not only an inspired writer, she also has an eye for color.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


Clapotis in Brooks Farm Duet
I can well understand why there is a Second Wave Clapotis kal as this pattern deserves one more round of attention from a brand new batch of knitters. It was an immensely satisfying pattern to knit as it is that happy combination of engaging enough to hold your interest yet completely memorizable. Of course by the end you are staring into the void and screaming 'Enough already!', but what pattern doesn't chew you up and spit you out with tedium when all is said and done?
Clapotis in Brooks Farm Duet
The Specs:
Pattern: Clapotis, you know where to find it
Yarn: Brooks Farm Duet, a little less than one skein
Needles: size 7

Clapotis in Brooks Farm Duet
Not to go all French teacher or anything, but since we've recently been clearing up some pronunciation misunderstandings, let's get another one out of the way. Despite what you might have heard from the knitters of Nascar, PA., Clapotis does not have an 'Otis' on the end of it . No, that's the loveable drunk from Mayberry . It's Clap-o-tee, rhymes with 'pee'. I am becoming more persnickety as I get older, I must say. Another sign that I am getting older? Tween thing was invited to her first boy-girl party. I am sure even using the expression 'boy-girl party' makes me seem very Jan and Marcia and hence necessarily middle-aged, but there you have it.

I am very excited because this weekend I am off to Aspen for a work-related event. Three cheers for feeding at the corporate trough! This means lots of airplane knitting on the DRMC's Cobblestone as well as some sock action. Next up is the Uptown Boot Socks pattern from Favorite Socks . I am bringing along my freshly-wound ball of Tess (pictured below) in order to make some progress on it.
Tess Baby and Sock yarn

Another thing I'm bringing along: Tween thing's ipod, which I have secretly emptied of her treacly, crappy music and instead loaded with my better, less shitty music. In heavy rotation: the new Radiohead album which I command you all to download from their site immediately. It will accomplish the dual purpose of bringing you great joy and sticking it to the man because you're buying it directly from the band!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Charm City Credit Card Meltdown, or Knitting is the new D and D...

Stiches EastI was only in attendance at Stitches East from Thursday evening to Friday afternoon. But this period of less than 24 hours still permitted me to hear Kaffe Fassett talk about his newest book, take a very challenging 'Argyle Socks in the Round class', and do some major damage in the Marketplace area. But first, an observation: it strikes me that these knitting events are really no different from gaming conventions when it comes down to it. Instead of playing D and D or World of Warcraft, we are knitters, and this gives us instant rapport with one another. So when sitting down next to a stranger, instead of asking "Which wizard of the Netherworld kingdom are you?" we ask , "Oh wow is that the Swallowtail?" and then a meaningful, shorthand conversation ensues, one which would be virtually unintelligible to someone on the outside because of the specificity of our jargon. It was kind of fascinating to be present at an event where everyone was so focused on the one single purpose that happens to be my own own single purpose. It was exciting, but there was also a touch of bad teenager alienation as well, as while I love yarn with every fiber of my being (hehe), I am not prepared to be seen wheeling around a suitcase on wheels for it, nor will I ever wear any buttons in public, ever.

Kaffe Fassett, rhymes with 'safe asset':
First of all, what a huge relief that he doesn't have a fake British accent, even though he's been living in England a lot longer than Madonna. He talked about how seeing something like a stack of oil barrels in Portugal motivated him to do a painting, which became a gigantic tapestry, and then a series of smaller needlepoint canvasses. A small motif from the canvasses then showed up in a Rowan sweater, which then mutated and became something else. At one point someone from the audience asked if he steeked his work, and replied that he had never heard this word before and had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. This really made me realize that more than being a hardcore knitter, he is a practitioner of color. He told the audience that when knitting "...I really need to see a motif appear before lunch, that's just how I see the world" and that sock knitting was the most tedious thing he could think of. He also recounted a hilarious anecdote about being on a British radio show. He brought the hostess a tea cozy with a rooster motif on it, which caused her to exclaim "I am sitting here next to Kaffe Fassett and his glorious cock!". Yeah, I love this guy.
Sucktacular Argyle Sock
Argyle Socks in the Round:
Dipshit over here never knew that argyle always had to be done flat and that doing it in the round was thought to be unthinkable at one point. Our teacher, Suzann Thompson, was truly patient and nice and did an admirable job of helping all of us with her technique, which was somewhat difficult. Despite her expert help, my sock basically looks like our cat threw up some Cascade 220. I can't say that I rushed home to complete my sock as it was frustrating and did push me to my limits (which is what a class should do), but I will pick it up again at some point. She is an excellent teacher and I recommend taking a class with her if you can.

STR Mosaic
Marketplace Damage Report:
First off, I was glad to see certain yarns in person so as to diminish their hype factor and thus prevent buying them sight unseen. Lisa Souza and Interlacements were pretty enough, but I was not overly enthralled by them and most likely won't be jumping on their bandwagons. No matter that I have many, many skeins of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock residing untouched in my stash, the inexorable pull of their booth took over, yarn gluttony kicked in, and I bought some more (pictured above). I also came home with more than a few skeins of Tess Super Socks and Baby yarn (first pictured below), which after the STR prices felt like a screaming deal at $15/skein. I was perhaps most excited about the Shelridge Farm booth--their yarn is unbelievably soft and the colors were stunning (last two pictures below). Also, they're Canadians which makes them just plain nicer than everyone else.

Tess Super Socks and Baby
Shelridge Farm Fingering Weight in Thistleflower
Shelridge Farm Fingering Weight in Robin's Egg, Brown and Peacock
All told, Baltimore really was the Charm City for me, and I recommend attending this event to anyone who has the inclination, cash and time. I ended my visit at the location pictured below, which was the perfect, sweet ending to my jaunt:
Charm City cupcakes

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Socktoberfest update...

I was going to entitle this post 'Sucktoberfest', but that would just be so me to go for the cheap, crass laughs, wouldn't it? Instead I'll treat you to a run-down of my sock knitting assembly line that is about as productive as a French national utility on strike. I am doing the best I can to roll with the punches, but this whole 'job thing' seems to be a great impediment to my sock production.

Socktoberfest--Where we're at:

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I frogged that Twisted Flower/Fleece Artist hot buttered mess back to the ribbing and am engaged in a très low cognitive load pair of orange stockinette socks. See, all better now, no nausea inducing pattern insanity:
Fleece artist stockinette

And I must say that I am very pleased indeed with how my little stalwart pal Louet Gems is doing its best to cooperate with Cookie A.'s pattern. Louet has not let me down yet, people! This sock now has a fighting chance at not completely sucking and thereby starting off some sort of blogging cold war between myself and my pal, who deserves a good sock. Have a look:
Louet Twisted Flower

My Wollmeise RPMs are inexplicably taking forever. I have the impression of having been knitting these for far too long, as I distinctly remember beginning them at Tween Thing's junior high school orientation. Since then she has managed to 'go with and break up with' seven boys, one of them because he called her friend 'a slut'. Way to go with the sister solidarity! I was very proud, especially since most girls will sell you down the river for a boy, but I digress...Yes, these socks are making me feel old and pre-menopausal, but I love the yarn and the pattern is a hoot:
Wollmeise Rpms

By the end of the week I will have one more sock on the needles since I am taking an Argyle sock knitting class at Stitches East. Woot woot! Please look at the Cascade 220 below and tell me which yarn should be the main color, which two should be the diamond colors, and which one should be that accent line-thing out of those pictured:
Cavalcade of Cascade 220 for Argyle socks

Check me out if you're going. I'll be the imbalanced person with sweaty palms trying to meet Kaffe Fassett and gluttonously grabbing as much Tess yarn as I can fit on my Amex card.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Farm Show Hostility and Madeline Tosh therapy

Bitter much?
I don't do well with defeat. I tend to nurse petty grievances and private hurts much longer than is necessary or healthy. I have a mean streak, and am prone to bitterness. I'm sure there is a Morrissey song that expresses the resentment I feel right now, I just can't think of what it is. My lovely Shedir and FBS brought home white ribbons. Whatever.

Third place. Seriously. Now they're just toying with me. I am not going to say one bad thing about the lovely person who won every ribbon in sight as predicted. My brother told me that I should do like those nutty Intelligent Design people who get on school boards in order to change the whole curriculum to their twisted advantage. Maybe I should somehow wheedle my way into being a judge next year?

Well, the people have spoken, and I will be spending the day redoing the Twisted Flower sock. In the end, this pattern needs a plain Jane yarn to showcase its strengths, and I will be saving that Fleece Artist for a more vanilla pattern. Thank you for all your straight talk.

Madeline Tosh 'Kale'
Madeline Tosh 'Lettuce Leaf'

Luckily yesterday I received some yarny goodness in the mail that is partially taking away the Farm Show grief. Thank you, Madeline Tosh, for providing a yarn salve for this hostile, wounded knitter. Above you see Kale and Lettuce Leaf. Their charms were too much for me to resist. I predict that Madeline Tosh will be the new Wollmeise: mark my words and get in on the ground floor now!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Farm Show Trepidation and Your Advice, Please...

Hollidaysburg Farm Show
Hollidaysburg Farm Show
Hollidaysburg Farm Show
It's that time of the year when Nascar, PA. holds its annual Farm Show. Most of you weren't around for last year's jollies, but yours truly proudly took home a blue ribbon. Never mind that no one else entered my category. This was no doubt because they were all entering the crocheted toilet paper holder category (ok, slap me, sometimes the snark just needs to happen), but still, I won dammit. This year I am not so sure...there is some mega competition out there. I don't know, should I be concerned that the most talented knitter I have ever met, you know, the one who knits the Alice Starmoresque samples for our LYS, has entered all my categories? She is a doll and I love her to pieces, which is a good thing because if it were anyone else, I'd have to be breaking our my Moroccan evil eye routine. We'll find out on Thursday if my little Shedir and February Baby Sweater can bring home some Farm Show bacon. Fingers crossed!

Sea Wool Twisted Flowers
Now, your input. I generally seem to know when something is or isn't working, but I feel that in this case, my desire for the project to work is severely hindering my ability to see if it is in fact working. Remember that I try to abide by the 'fancy pattern + plain sock yarn / plain pattern + fancy sock yarn' formula (hence my dislike for every Rockin' Sock Club pattern this year). Pictured above you see the beginnings of some Twisted Flower socks that I am doing in a swap. The swap part is key because a. I have terribly low standards for myself and b. I don't want my partner to curse me for getting stuck with a shitty sock. Is this Fleece Artist Sea Wool
in Tangerine too busy for the pattern? Do I need to tone it down to some solid yarn in order to showcase the pattern? Please tell me what you think. It's still early enough that if I have to rip it (or start it in another yarn) I will...