Saturday, September 29, 2007

New socks, old socks

I ran across news of a contest on this blog (it's so cool how you can be reading a blog, pick up a link to another, and end up referring to a blog you never heard of before). Be that as it may, I decided to participate, partly because of the sock posting I did here already. Also, I realized that I left one pair out of my group photo, so I'll remedy that sometime. The contest is to post a photo of the first sock you made and the last sock you made. I had DD help with setting up the photo, and we got one shot before the camera's battery went pfffft. So here it is.

The blue socks are the first I ever made, using Bollicine Baby Night and a beginners stockinette pattern from Knit Socks! I made them when I first started knitting, about 3 years ago. They're warm and snuggly and I usually just wear them around the house. The colorful socks are Monkeys. I just finished them last week. The yarn is Zen String Harmony in the Opal colorway. So there you go!

Friday, September 28, 2007

In the Eye of the Beholder

In preparation for the 85th birthday party we will have for my mom in just over a week, we've been readying the house; cleaning carpets and windows, painting stairs and hallway, and just generally trying to tidy up. This caused a look at some artwork hanging in the hall, which led to a project that involved reframing and rearranging several pieces. This led to having a space with nothing in it, which caused us to go to the pile of high school artwork our son had left in the basement when he went to college last year. He has always been artistic and has taken art classes off and on, so we had a selection of work to choose from. We ended up reframing one piece that we had displayed previously (orange girl) and finding an abstract piece that I really liked and having that framed. Here they are: (click on each to see larger.)

It was hard to photograph them accurately in the hallway at night, but I did my best. Here they are actually hanging; that was harder due to the narrow hall. But I think he has a certain style and creativity that I enjoy, and I'm happy to show off his work. When he was here a couple of weeks ago with his roommates, they picked up a bunch of his other drawings and paintings to take back to their house with them, too. You can't beat original artwork!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Secret to Finishing Socks

is to have lots of knitting time and nothing else to do. I always finish socks, but I'm not a particularly fast knitter, and it usually takes me a couple of weeks. Well, yesterday I found out that if I just sit and knit (for hours and hours) I can get half a sock done in a day! I don't really recommend the circumstances I had, but it's nice to know.

Here's what happened: My husband was having some trouble with his stomach Friday and Friday evening, but thought it would pass as most things do. He woke me up about 2:00 am with the news that he thought we should call a doctor. He doesn't like to ask for help (what man does?), so I knew it must be something. Long story short, the doctor recommended a trip to the ER, so I started on my odyssey of sitting and working on the sock (which had most of the leg finished) at about 2:45 am.

We worked our way through the ER, and after the CT scan they were pretty sure that the appendix would have to come out. DH was admitted to the hospital sometime that morning (it's funny how the perception of time changes when hospitals are involved) and we continued to wait to find out what time the surgery would be. The surgeon finally secured some OR time about 2:00 pm, and everything went very well. DH spent the night, I came home and had a good night's sleep, and picked him up this morning. He has some teeny bandages and sore muscles, but otherwise is fine. Modern medicine is truly amazing. (No photos - I threatened to take one of him in the attractive hospital gown and socks, but decided not to.)

But here are the socks: Monkeys out of Zen String Harmony, fingering weight in "Opal". The yarn was nice to work with; it's merino and tencel, so looks shiny. I don't know if I could've made the two socks look more similar if I had divided the ball into two originally, (or tried to begin at the same point of repeat in the colors) but I just started knitting the first and then continued on to the second when that one was done. I kind of like the variation; besides, I didn't have a scale to weigh the yarn when I started, so I wouldn't have been able to scientifically divide the yarn into two equal balls. I recently got one, and it's fun to know how much yarn there's left when you're done with one sock. I usually make my cuffs relatively short, and have a lot of yarn left over when I'm finished.

I was worried the other day; I wanted to use the beautiful yarn I got from the Zen String sock club last month. It's sport weight with consequently less yardage than fingering, and since I knit cuff down, I was worried about using more than half of the skein for the first sock. I used the Spindle Sock pattern, and like the way the first one came out (even though I misread the directions for the cables and made a little mistake, I was consistent so I think they look okay. Now I just have to remember to make the same mistake on the second one.

Yes, I do like Zen String. In fact, look what was waiting in the mailbox when I came home last night! Angelina put some yarn up on the website a week or so ago, and I just love the Bambewe, so when I saw the big skein she was selling (blue) and she said she could see it knit into a lacy wrap, I was a goner. The lighter color is this month's sock club yarn, Serendipity fingering. It feels totally soft!

I bought some more Bambewe from the Loopy Ewe when Sheri had it in stock a couple of weeks ago. These are Bart and Louise and Blue Norther colorways. This yarn is 60% merino, 30% bamboo, and 10% nylon and is very nice to work with and wear.

And I found out it pays to link! I noticed that I have a $5 credit in my Loopy Ewe account, and it's there because someone visited their site and opened an account, arriving there by way of my blog! So thank you to whoever did that; it's really fun to realize that someone besides me reads this stuff. And I totally recommend The Loopy Ewe; I have never had a single problem with the (considerable amount of) yarn I've purchased there, their shipping is lightening fast, and Sheri is sweet and always willing to give help or advice. (This endorsement is the opinion of the writer of this blog, and was completely unsolicited!)

Also this past few days: I was invited into Ravelry (I'm LaurieB there) and got my ISE5 secret pal information. Fun, fun!

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Yarn Harlot Rocks!

Yes, tonight I was there amongst the hundreds of knitters at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, WA to see Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. It was great, although I always manage to sit behind someone with too much hair. That's Stephanie behind the podium in the dark; I obviously need a new camera, too. Don't worry, better pictures are to come.

Stephanie is hilarious. I've seen her twice, and she's engaging, earnest, self-deprecating, and funny. But she manages to get her message of this "represent" tour across, illustrated by many examples, the least of which is the ease by which she raised over $300,000 for Doctors Without Borders by simply asking knitters to donate. Knitters are a force to be reckoned with! Knitters are people from all walks of life, and when spurred to action can accomplish just about anything.

Anyway, this time I waited around to get my book signed, and this is what amazed me. Here is a woman who has traveled for hours, speaks for an hour in the evening, then sits for at least two more so she can sign books and converse with hundreds of people. Stephanie doesn't just sign your book. She looks at each person, answers questions, takes photos, poses for more, and shows genuine interest in every comment and proffered piece of knitting. Each person feels as if she (or he) is the only one in the room. And what's even more amazing is the people waiting in line don't seem to mind. They knit, chat, and patiently wait for their turn. It was great.

Thanks to Cheryl for being an awesome photographer.

In other news, I need to thank Sarah-Hope for the super goodies she sent me in our Cotton Commandoes Sister Swap. I got two beautiful dishrags, a skein of pretty self-striping kitchen cotton, and two balls of sock yarn. And look at the cool note card with the knitter on it. So cute! Thanks so much for everything.

More yarn was received this week, and of course more was purchased but I'll update with the photos another day. Time to do some chillin'.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Organization and Inspiration, continued

I'm not necessarily feeling more organized, but I am feeling a tiny bit inspired and also inspirational. I've been trying to figure out what to send to Marcia for our backwards-dishrag-swap, and during the night the answer came to me. It's a secret, and it'll take a little more time to organize (there's that word again), but I feel so relieved! The decision is over.

We had a barbeque here over Labor Day weekend, with lots of longtime friends from the old neighborhood, and some new friends from the new neighborhood. A couple of the women asked me about my knitting, so I took them inside to show off some of the projects I've been working on; mystery stole, dishrags, hats for charity, red scarf for charity, and then I showed them the one Monkey sock I've finished. That brought to mind the other socks I've done, and I got one each of most of the pairs I've made out to show them. They were impressed, and I was, too. There were more than I realized I'd made, and they looked pretty good.
They decided that socks looked like fun, and even the woman who doesn't knit was thinking that she might take a class! I passed out copies of a generic sock recipe I have, showed them my knitting books, and they were happy. Later the husbands wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and they were impressed, too, although no one asked to learn how to do it.

Here's my mom, sister, and friend from the old neighborhood.

DD and friends.
There was some gabbing around the pool going on. It was a lovely day (can't count on Seattle weather on Labor Day) and a good time was had by all.

Last week, we had our book club meeting at a member's cabin overlooking Puget Sound. We had a wonderful time out on her deck (see the book? see my knitting on the table?) It was a serious meeting - those just look like Margaritas!

Then the moon came up over the water. I wish I had a better camera. Let's see, when's my birthday?

More yarn came, more yarn came! All Things Heather in Rust and Midnight Frost, and Louet Gems in Neptune. As I commented on another blog, I think self-control is overrated, but I admire it in others.....

Monday, September 3, 2007

Organization and Inspiration

The former is sadly lacking in my life at the moment, and the latter is running rampant. Witness the dearth of posts to this blog; I have good intentions, yet when it comes to sitting down, collecting my thoughts, finding appropriate photos, etc., etc. I somehow fall short. Although to what standard am I attempting to hold myself? As far as I know, there isn't a rule that says you must post to your blog every day or every week, or even at all! Yet I so enjoy reading the stories of others, be they knitting related, family oriented, or off on tangents, and I imagine that there might be someone out there in internet-land who looks forward to seeing what's going on in my life. (OK, I know it's Mom, but whatever.)

I guess the problem is that I'm not happy just writing a couple of sentences, inserting a picture, and calling it quits. No, my blogging takes up significant time, and when I think about doing it, I always talk myself into sitting down and knitting for awhile instead. Such a problem! That brings me to the second topic of my title. Everywhere I turn, I see a pattern I want to knit, or a yarn I want to try. I am stockpiling huge amounts of (mostly sock) yarn and my shelf of pattern books and magazines will shortly outgrow its assigned space. My fingers (and time) can't keep up with my inspiration, but I guess it's always good to have something to look forward to.

I've had several good days (yarn-related) in the past couple of weeks. I photographed the yarn that came in the mail, but was waiting for all the sock club loot to arrive before I posted. Here goes: The first two are J Knits and Spritely Goods that I got from The Loopy Ewe.
I can't resist Sheri's "Sneak Ups", convincing myself that I have to try all the different yarn companies. As she continues to get more and more, I think I'm in trouble!

This is Sweet Georgia Yarn that I found on ebay.
I didn't start buying sock yarn on line until this wasn't available anymore, so I just had to have some. I really liked the color, too.

The next yummy yarn is from my Zen String
sock club. I am really loving these yarns. This is Serendipity Sport and the color is just awesome. I usually pack away my club yarns for later, but I'm busily selecting a pattern for this one. I even swatched it!

The rest of my yarn club loot consisted of Yarn Pirate BFL (so soft) from the Yarn Pirate Booty Club and Sleeping Dragon from the SSYC club. Even better than yarn in the mail is surprise yarn in the mail!

Moving on to the gardening section of the blog, I found this cute guy when picking tomatoes yesterday. I wish I had some tiny little glasses to put on him. Can you see his nose? All of the larger photos I took came out blurry, so I gave up. He's posing on one of the dishrags I've made in the last few weeks. I have to decide which one I'm going to send to Marcia as part of our Dishrag Tag Cotton Commando Sister Reverse Swap. (Say that five times quickly.)

Finally for today, I've started my red scarf. Have you?