Sunday, July 29, 2007

Toe-Up Socks, Take Two

My first attempt at the toe-up sock was enlightening. I learned the following:

1. I like a less pointy toe than I was getting before.
2. I want a snugger (is that a word?) fit for my socks than I was getting.
3. While I am a process knitter, that doesn't mean I want to intentionally and/or knowingly make socks that won't fit me - or maybe anybody.
4. I love - love! - that yarn.
5. There is no reason to torture myself by knitting an all knew technique (toe-up socks) with a yarn that is such a tiny gauge. (10.5 stitches per inch.)
6. Charity and RC are excellent knitting support group members. At this point, I am not sure who is whose sponsor.
7. There are so many excellent resources on the internet and in books for knitting socks toe-up. I have absolutely no doubt that I will be able to do this. (This is a bold statement for me.)

So rather than torturing myself any further or wasting a yarn I adore on socks that I know won't be what I want, I decided to rip that sock out and start again with a different yarn. Many moons ago, I won a contest Susie had and I've decided to make a second attempt with one of her beautiful creations. This yarn is 400 yards of 100% merino superwash in the Am I Blue colorway. It is very soft, a bit thicker and knits at a much more manageable first-time-for-toe-ups gauge of 6.5 stitches per inch (when I swatched), 7 stitches per inch on these first two inches worth of knitting the sock. (I am not too worried about the precision, as I am confident they will be a nice fit. I am using 56 stitches for the foot, which is where I am knitting now.)

Here we are at the beginning of a new week, with a new sock to knit.

Today's Quote:

"An inventor fails 999 times, and if he succeeds once, he's in. He treats his failures simply as practice shots." -Charles Kettering

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Toe-Up Sock-o-rama

A-ha! I borrowed the Mister's camera for a few minutes this evening . . . just long enough to take a few pictures of my toe up sock-in-progress. The yarn is Incognito, a wonderful sock yarn from my stash.

I've been anxious about how it is coming along. It seems awfully pointy. Not that this should come as a big surprise. The pointiness of handknit socks generally makes me nervous. I've just finished the last of the increases to get to the appropriate number of stitches for my foot and it is just shy of 2.75" from the toe to the end of these increases. Is that too much? It seems long but it is hard to tell when I try it on....

As mentioned previously, we are using Ann Budd's toe-up tutorial in the Summer 2007 Interweave. I really like the tutorial. The instructions are clear, particularly the cast on instructions. I've had to do a bit of fiddling because the smallest gauge in the article is 8 stitches per inch and I'm getting 10 stitches per inch on my size 1 Susan Bates metal needles. I am very happy with the resulting fabric so I've adjusted the pattern rather than struggling for gauge.
Like RC, I decided to ditch the M1 increases and I've gone with K1f&b increases. I am loving the results...both the look of the sock and the ease of using this technique. I tried the M1 increases. I really did. I had to start over at least 8 times because trying to manuever the M1s resulted in accidentally pulling the carefully balanced stitches off the needles. Do you remember that line from the movie Uncle Buck? "It angers a lot of people, just the sight of it." That's how I feel about the M1 increases. There was much foul language and questioning of Ann Budd's parentage (my most sincere apologies to Ann and her parents) and some throwing of knitting. Only the redeeming love of the K1f&b saved me.
As an aside, I am most seriously tempted by these KnitPicks sock needles as discussed in the Yarn Harlot's post from earlier today.

Sadly, the camera battery didn't make it to take pictures of the goodies from Joanie. It is charging now.

Today's Quote:

"We've all heard that we have to learn from our mistakes, but I think it's more important to learn from successes. If you learn only from your mistakes, you are inclined to learn only errors." - Norman Vincent Peale

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Trouble with Tribbles

I have both broken (not fatally, just damaged) and momentarily misplaced my camera. I am certain that I will both a) figure out where I put it and b) take it to Best Buy and hope they will make good on the extended warranty my husband got on it when he bought it for me. (I do love Best Buy.)

Last Friday was Friday the 13th and I have a confession: I fell off the Resolution wagon at about 11:30 p.m. on the 12th. See, my dearly beloved sister-in-law visited RC and saw this post about her dish rags and really really wanted a Tribble. Lori is good and kind and sweet to me and doesn't ask for much and so, I gave in and knitted Tribbles for her. This is not to say that others are not good and kind to me, nor do I mean to imply that others are not equally deserving of the knitted things on my docket for them. Put very simply, Tribbles are a nifty pick-me-up little knit - nearly instant gratification knitting, that uses very little yarn...and I am weak.

Speaking of Lori, if you haven't seen the short film The Landlord with Will Ferrell, stop by Lori's blog and watch it.

I took pictures of the of the Tribbles but alas, as mentioned above, the camera is temporarily out of commission.

I am going to need to revisit my knitting Resolution list, add and subtract (mostly add, I'm guessing) as appropriate and perhaps give myself a little extra time. Perhaps I'll have more success between now and the next Friday the 13th. June 13, 2008. I like realistic goals.

Beyond that, I have accomplished very little knitting in the last week. I have knit and unknit about 700 miles of yarn in the last 8 days because I am trying valiantly to learn to knit socks from the toe-up, based mainly on the article by Ann Budd in the Summer Interweave Knits. RC and Charity and I are having an informal little knit-a-long of the toe-up socks...I think this amounts to more of a toe-up sock support group than KAL. Call it what you will.

Tomorrow I am going to borrow the Mister's camera because I have goodies to share! I got a wonderful package in the mail on Thursday from the ever generous Joanie. Two skeins of yarny goodness from KnitPicks and something wonderful and perfect that she knit just for me! I am so jazzed - knowing that another knitter has taken her precious knitting time and made a beautiful something for me is simply magnificent. Thank you so much, Joanie!!! I love my gifts and I'll be posting pictures soon.

Today's Quote:

"A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way." - Mark Twain

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Stand and Delivery

I'm not sure if ya'll can appreciate why I took these pictures. You see, I realize that most of you live in places that have weather on a regular basis, as opposed to the place where I live where, generally, from some time in early May until at least late September, every single blessed day is clear and sunny and dry and hot. Every. Single. Merciless. Day.

Apparently today was an exception. Do you know what you are seeing there? GREY SKIES! Gloomy, heavy, grey skies and wind and humidity and mild temperatures. It didn't even reach 90 degrees F (32.2 C) at my house today. In July. JULY! I am beside myself happy about this beautiful weather. It never rained here (that would be asking too much) but somehow that was ok with me. I was content with the clouds and mild temperatures. There was rain in the foothills, which is good news for the drought and for the fires... That's good enough for me. Hurray for clouds and gloominess.

Seems like the perfect weather for sharing good news...My visit to the ankle doctor yesterday was a success. He liked the socks and was surprised. Really, it was borderline sacrilege that a man who makes his living of feet and ankles has never owned a pair of handknit socks. Problem solved....I told him that I hoped they would fit (they were a surprise, so I had to do a little guessing on the size) and also that they would erase all memory of the unfortunate baby-handknits-for-the-non-existent-baby incident. I didn't muster up the nerve to have him pose with them for a blog picture. ha.

Prior to the handing over of the socks, he examined my ankle. (Imagine that!) Things are looking pretty good....good enough that I have been given permission to go without my brace the vast majority of the time. Hurray! It is healing a bit slower than would be ideal and I have to start physical therapy this week and see him again in a couple of months but all-in-all, not a bad visit. Not unlike knitting, progress is progress.

Thank you all so much for your encouragement and warm thoughts and kind words. It has been a long year and I'm so blessed to have had so much support.

Now, I really need to go watch Hell's Kitchen from last night. Ahh, the miracle of Tivo.

Today's Quote:

"The ankle was obviously a bit worrying at the time, but I've always felt confident that I would get back and be as strong as ever." -Jamie Redknapp

Monday, July 09, 2007

Walk Like an Egyptian

Wow! Both Dorothy and RC dubbed me as a Rockin' Girl Blogger. Who would have imagined? Gosh - I'm blushing. Thank you both! It is amazing how many wonderful, amazing, kind, talented women I've "met" in blogland. You both ROCK, too, and I would so peg each of you if you hadn't already been anointed.

There are so many fabulous Rockin' Girl Bloggers and it is tough to pick just I didn't. I decided 7 is better so here you go. Seven Rockin' Girl Bloggers:

Kim - My lovely and talented ISE3 pal who I was so blessed to meet - and so perfectly matched with. It was Kim (along with RC) who finally coaxed me over to the world of sock knitting. I really should thank them both more often.

Marit - With the amazing photos of both her family farm and her beautiful Norwegian scenery, it was easy to fall head-over-heels for both Marit and her blog. As if that wasn't enough, she knits beautiful things right there in the midst of her very own sheep AND she has real live hedgehogs in her backyard.

Dr. B - what can be said about the lovely and talented Dr. B that you don't already know? She is very chic and cool and, as I have told her before, I would feel like a rhinestone studded loafer at a Jimmy Choo convention if we were ever to meet in person. She knits, she sews, she quilts, she is hilarious. The epitome of Rockin' Girl Blogger.

Robyn - Robyn was a shu in when you consider that I have a soft spot for both Canadians (which Robyn is by birth) and Southerners (which Robyn is by residence). I have been reading Robyn's blog since its infancy and it has been fun to watch her blog and her blog style develop over the last - wow! It has been nearly a year already.

Jessica - Yes I do realize that Jessica is almost exclusively a hooker (sorry, crocheter?...) and only very rarely knits but I like her very much anyway. She, too, is a fabulous photographer and does, indeed, make wonderful, beautiful handmade items from yarn...with nary a knitting needle in sight. Jessica is another blogger who I've had the privilege of reading from very early on.

EnnaVic - A brief mention of my Christmas ornament sweaters lead EnnaVic to me and I have been so glad I posted those pictures ever since. One of my most favorite things about blogging is the opportunity to meet knitters (and non-knitters, too) from all over the world. I am a newly minted, heart-felted admirer of New Zealand, owing almost exclusively due to the lovely EnnaVic.

Charity - So calm, cool and collected, Knitting in the North is always a joy to read and if I inadvertently miss a post, I always feel like I've missed out. Charity does beautiful work - her hand knits never cease to impress me - and she is a stellar example of the even-keeled, subtly hilarious Canadians I've come to know and love in blogland...and in general.

Ahhhh....I could list on and on. Really. The knitters, the bloggers...ya'll all rock. Now, you seven, go forth and spread the Rockin' Girl Blogger goodness.

Now I really must get back to watching Cities of the Underworld on the History Channel. We are talking about Vlad the Impaler of my favorite historical figures. (Yes, yes, I know how twisted that is. I'm fairly keen on Caligula, too. There, you know my dark secrets.)

I delivered the socks today and had the ankle checked up on...more on that later.
Today's Quote:
"As a woman, I find it very embarrassing to be in a meeting and realize I'm the only one in the room with balls." -Rita Mae Brown

A Sock-tacular Victory

I am pleased to inform you that the socks did indeed get finished in time. I am somewhat less pleased to inform you that the socks got finished just before 3:00 this morning. (Yesterday was a less than focused knitting day. Much to my chagrin.) Then they had to be washed. Did I mention that I have to be at work by 7:00 a.m. each morning?

While I was gathering up some things to put in the wash with the socks, they decided to frolic in the houseplants. (This was the best I could manage at 3:00 a.m. for the standard frolicking-in-the-grass picture.)

The man attached to the only pair of male feet in my house was sleeping quite soundly when I finished the socks. So soundly, in fact, that he asked me after he woke up this morning if I had finished them or if I just gave up. Later I will show him this picture of his feet modeling the socks.
When I got up at 5:37 to get ready for work, I went to the dryer but the socks weren't quite dry yet. I fashioned up some make shift sock blockers based on this tutorial and put them in my car to dry/block. (Luckily it is supposed to be 415 degrees F (212 degrees C) here today, so they should be plenty dry.)

Also, I think I found a purpose for the felted foot bag I made a while back. Remember it? I think it will make a nifty gift bag for handknit socks.

Thank you all SOOOO much for your good knitting vibes and encouraging words. It is amazing what knitters can do - - even from miles and miles away. Thanks for your help!

The Quote That Was Meant to Go With the Previous Post:

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep." -Robert Frost, from Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Today's Quote:

"It isn't the mountain ahead that wears you out - it's the grain of sand in your shoe." -Robert Service

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Beat the Clock

At 3:40 PDT Monday I have an appointment, at which time I have had (and continue to have) every intention of delivering a pair of handknit socks to my ankle surgeon.

We have discussed these socks many times before. As you are well aware, these socks have been the source of much knitting heartache for me. Here they are just before I started typing this post.

The one on top (previously known as Sock #2) needs about 2 more inches before the start of the toe decreases, Sock #1 (on bottom) is approximately 3.25" from the toe decreases. It is now 11:00 p.m. and I've just put on a pot of coffee. Taking into account that I have to work from 7:00 a.m. Monday morning until time to go to that appointment, what's the statistical probability that I will get them done in time? The likelihood will be greatly improved if I can convince my husband to do this weekend's laundry and if he will make sure we eat tomorrow.

Please send all available prayers, warm wishes, good thoughts and fast (accurate) knitting vibes.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Knitting?? Me??

I wish I could tell you that I have completed the socks but I can't. One sock is well into the foot section and I've repaired the heel on sock number two and started the gussets. Basically, the socks are going along fine but nothing worthy of pictures.

My husband has been in Oregon for the last three weeks helping his mother so this past weekend I drove up to see all the work they'd done and to bring him home. The drive up was beautiful and I am kicking myself for not stopping and taking pictures. (Which is my standard sentiment when I get home from this trip....)

While he was away, I got a wild hair and decided to organize my stash. I drug out all of my yarn....which was not even remotely organized. Then I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond and invested in some storage containers. I sorted through everything, set some yarn aside to donate to the Senior Citizen's Center near my house, untangled some tangled balls (with help from Tegan), and organized it by type and/or weight. (Nothing terribly scientific but a system that works for me.)

I didn't realize how much yarn I had until I got it all out to organize. It sure is nice to have some semblance of order to it.

In the midst of the organizing, I got a package in the mail containing some yarn I'd ordered from the incomparable Susie. The lovely Irises.

50/50 Superwash Merino/Tencel. This yarn is lovely and soft and absolutely exactly what I would expect from Susie. So pretty!

On an Unrelated Note

I realize that spiders have nothing to do with knitting but I've got spider pictures, nonetheless. Every time I get out of my car, I see these spiderwebs on the boat trailer parked in my driveway. One day, I saw the spider that had apparently built this web.

Before I moved to California, I had never seen a black widow spider. And before I took these pictures, I had never seen a black widow spider this big. (Even though it has been nearly two weeks since I took these pictures, it wasn't until yesterday that I finally mustered up the courage to kill this spider. While I can manage to tolerate one spider, one black widow spider inevitably leads to baby spiders. I can't possibly keep an eye on a whole slew of baby spiders.)
I am freaked out by black widows so these pictures are a little fuzzy and there is no point of reference but you should know, the body of this spider - not including legs - was larger than a quarter...I am not exaggerating. For those of you who have wondered how to identify a black widow spider, here's the best way to know: the red hourglass on the spider's stomach.

Have a wonderful Fourth of July!!

Today's Quote:

"Be able to recognize the dangerous snakes, spiders, insects, and plants that live in your area of the country." - Marilyn vos Savant