I’ve done a self-check, and have decided I do not have the dreaded cast-on-itis, despite beginning two projects within a 24 hour period. (Three in 48 if you count the No-Sophie, but that sounds suspicious, so finished objects don’t count, right?) See, I can’t show you Anne’s bag. Plus, quite honestly, after doing one little bag in a little over 24 hours, the second one was starting to feel like garter stitch purgatory, and there was this perfect yarn for which I’d found the perfect pattern…

Yeah, yeah, the Tofutsies sock is still unfinished too. I very nearly picked it up to finish it off, but a girl needs a travel sock, and I think we’re going to town this afternoon, so there’s about an hour of knitting which might get me pretty close to the completion of sock one. See? I can justify my choices. (Denial? Me? I don’t know what you’re talking about.)

Okay, the truth of the matter is it’s getting cooler, and I was feeling selfish again. That NH Knitting Mama yarn was calling my name, and since I was emailed a .pdf file with the Dream in Color Shrug pattern I found to do the fiber art justice, I just couldn’t stand it. Plus, the pattern has a definite lace element, and some of you know I’ve become almost consumed with trying my hand at beyond sock lace. (The yarn is NOT that shiny. It’s a fabulous, matte finish in a semi-solid green. It’s so soft and squooshy!)

The actual colorway is somewhere between the too shiny, too blue-ish photo above and this too yellow one. That’s the first repeat of the lace pattern, and I look forward to making some serious progress on the shrug later today. It’s a pleasant little pattern, with a 20-row repeat, but the lace pattern is only worked on the odd rows, and three rows within that pattern repeat. I couldn’t be happier with the marriage of the yarn and the pattern, and hope to be wearing my first lace, first shrug, later this week.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give Pick up Sticks a plug. I wish more retailers would offer patterns via email. Yes, I understand copyright/reprint issues, but I’m also an impatient little brat, and I am positive that this pattern wouldn’t have arrived this week without the pleasures of technology. Then where would I be?! (Slogging away on Anne’s bag, finishing a sock and casting on for its mate? Pouting because I’d found *THE* pattern for the yarn I most wanted to knit with, to be certain.)

Constant Vigilance

SWS felts in a HURRY. I timed it, and in a bit over three minutes, the bag was felted, tightly so. Not a stitch defined, anywhere. My hot water is pretty hot, but I can still fish the pillow case out bare-handed, so I think it’s the yarn, I really do. I’m almost tempted to felt it on the delicate cycle next time, just because this way requires constant vigilance!

This is the Sophie pattern, basically. I’m calling it the Not-So Sophie, because I like a shallow, barely bigger than my wallet bag that fits snugly under my arm, on my shoulder. I dropped about 12 rounds, so I decreased at 10, 20, 30, 35 and 40 rounds, and bound off after round 42. It took right at two balls of SWS, or 2oo+ yards. The colorway is Natural Navy, done on #10.5 circs, with the same sized dpns for the i-cord.

I felt in a polyester, king-size pillow case, tied shut, with four of Mugsy’s tennis balls thrown in to beat it up a bit. I add about two tablespoons of soap powder and wash on hot/cold. Then, with the Knight’s help, I stretch and pull it into the shape of choice. Anything in the house can serve as the “form” during the drying phase. If it fits into the bag and looks approximately like what I want in the end, it’s called into action.

I also took this shot for you. SWS is a great yarn for felting, but because of this very trait, I can’t imagine using it for non-felted items. A pal made me a sock bag in SWS – unfelted – and I think I might line it for future use. The early fall edition of Creative Knitting has a cardigan/jacket done in SWS on the cover. No way. It would pill and shed too badly for practical wear, I’m certain! I didn’t do anything but hold that bag in my lap while knitting away on it, and you can see how fuzzy the bottom is, and how that one “blonde” strand pulled itself loose. Of course, thanks to the nature of felting, the finished product reveals none of these little secrets, and is rock solid, tough and ready for my daily use.
I don’t get the names Patons uses for SWS colorways. There’s no navy in this wad of color. Purple (gasp! it’s true!), lots of tan and taupe that thankfully turned a solid, warm brown, a touch of grey, and the black in the unfelted version just felted into a dark grey. Still, even with the purple, I’m very pleased with the results. It’s a bit deeper than my summer Sidekick, and it won’t show dirt. Perfect.

Uptown Girl!

My good pal fortune continues. In Sock it to Me, a very light-hearted “Tink” had been emailing regularly. She sent me the mother lode of teaser packages early in the swap, proving that she’d read my questionnaire and then some, and really making me curious. From that package, I knew we shared a Loopy passion, and yet again, I tried to guess my pal’s identity. I was dead wrong, of course, and do hereby renounce future hunches! Thanks Ana, although I do feel guilty that it seems knitting socks for me led you to call your blog the Frog Pond.

So, feast your eyes on my Uptown Boot Socks in Cherry Tree Hill, in Cherry. They fit like a dream, and feel like a cloud. I love red, but I’ll be on the lookout for more red tops now, so I have every excuse to wear these socks very regularly. (Yes folks, my feet are that short. Lucky Ana, huh?) Oh, and don’t tell the Knight, but I’ll need another pair of clogs too, because my favorites are brown and a multi-colored felt, and these want a navy and/or black pair.
Even though she’d already sent goodies above and beyond expectations, the awesome Ana sent more. How ’bout that Scout’s Swag yarn in “secret colorway”?! I love it! The Godiva is resting up for its big moment, after dinner. I’ll have to put both dogs outside, because they can’t have chocolate – like I’d share. (I mean, I guess I could, but you’re not here, so it’s all theory and conjecture anyway.) The cute yellow thingee is the result of an especially strange question Ana asked a couple of weeks ago. Out of the blue, she emails me and lists a very odd assortment of animals and asks which would be my favorite. (No, dogs weren’t on the list, nor were horses. Go figure.) It’s “Kooly the Koala” a kritter craft case. He’s already holding the notions I use the most – my chibi, measure tape, scissors, etc. Isn’t he cute?!
Thank you, Ana. And thanks AJ, for hosting a fun sock swap. It’s always a little bittersweet when a swap winds down, but I still have three in the works, so I should get back to knitting. Tomorrow? Knitting and shopping. I hope to mail my Vegan Pal 2 swap out next week, and then, you still won’t get to see the pictures of the secret project!

Two Pups, Ten Years, Lots of Love

Well, we blew past 200 posts the other day. This is post #202. How ’bout that?! Those of you who know me personally know I can talk a blue streak if I’m in the right mood, and evidently, I have been most of the time since oh, say… March. Thanks for reading, caring, and in a lot of cases, becoming my friends.
My scanner is so old I can’t hook it up to this computer without adapters, so yet again, ‘scuse the photo quality. A little over ten years ago, the dogs and I all dolled up and went to visit a photographer friend, and bridal portraits were made. This is a squinty-eyed proof of my favorite pose, and my offering for Dogs on Thursday. They’re still handsome old men, but boy, were they beautiful babies. I’ll have to get my techie brother inlaw to scan all of the proofs in for me, and if/when I do, I’ll post a better version, because it is my all-time favorite photo. There’s another great one of the whole “family” which was taken with the engagement photos, but it includes my stepson, so… sorry. It will remain on the wall for in-home guests only.

No Pictures

I’m in a bind here, folks. I’m knitting, I promise, but it’s for Anne and as she is the sole hostess for the Felted Bag swap, she knows I’m her pal. So, pattern and yarn selections are the only secrets I can have. That means not even a shot for you. I toyed with the idea of a sepia shot, but that wouldn’t tell you much and would tell her too much. I feel like a mean department chief, writing rules and regs to punish everyone just because one idiot firefighter can’t behave, but those are the breaks. I can tell you it’s an awesome pattern and I know she’ll love it and the colors I selected. I tried to figure out how to post it on Ravelry without giving away too much, but trust me, she’s know, even if I just put it on my queue.

In other no picture news, we are supposed to run with the topic of the week for the Felted Bag swap…

As of this weekend, the season has officially changed on the calendar – but what makes Autumn feel like Autumn to you, and why?

It’s all about the toes. As y’all know, ask me the same question, two minutes apart, and you’ll get different answers. I’m fickle, but I can live with that. I’m still impressionable, and my moods and what’s going on around me impact my opinions strongly. Today, it’s about the toes. A local friend and I have a running joke about our toes, because we both live in flipflops and the like all summer. This year, I’m enjoying my knitted socks, so I’ve given in to conventional wisdom and if my feet are cold in the morning, I wear at least enclosed-toe shoes, but I’ve really enjoyed the couple of truly chilly mornings where socks were in order. (LOVE the way Lorna’s Laces feel on my feet. Must have more.) In the past, typing “Toes covered” in my email to my friend has been a lament, but this year, not so much. And yes folks, she *IS* on my list to receive handknit socks for Christmas. I just have to get a mutual friend to confirm size…

Now, for the conventional answer. Everything. I love the whole autumnal package. While I relish the four distinct seasons here in Central Virginia, and you’ll find me calling each my favorite as it arrives, autumn is the real, true favorite. I love a crisp, cool morning. I love watching the leaves change. There’s nothing like wrapping up in my favorite old corduroy shirt of my Dad’s on a Sunday afternoon. Apples. All things pumpkin. You get the point.

Hands down, this year, the upcoming tenth anniversary with the Knight is the biggest part of autumn. Both of us had brief first marriages, and I know that there were plenty of folks whispering that we wouldn’t last. Picture me smug, and happy. To celebrate, I’m finally ordering wedding photos. Maybe I’ll scan one or two for you. I especially love my highly controversial bridal portrait proofs. I had two done; one of just me, for my stepmom and my mother inlaw, both of whom scoffed at my primary poses, which were with my boys – Fred and Mugsy – and then my father inlaw and I have that one, with me and the dogs.

No More Monkeyn’ Around

With a nod to my Knitter’s Knight for the photo, here are the Monkeys. Done. They are a titch big on me, so I hope that means they’ll fit with the negative ease my Sock it to Me pal says she likes. I don’t mind pooling, so I hope she doesn’t either. Sorry for the blindingly white legs, but that’s what I have. They brighten up the photo anyway.
The stats: Knitpicks Memories, in the Red Hat colorway. Size 2.5mm/#1.5 dpns, the bamboo Addis. Only a few yards left over. Each size 9 sock took nearly a whole ball. I enjoyed the Monkey pattern, but have decided that for me, toe-up, short-row heels fit better. (But hey! These aren’t for me…)
So, the socks and their pals will hit the road tomorrow, along with my tea pal’s package, and my portion Jessi’s prizes for winning the bingo game. Congrats again girl!
Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s past my bedtime.

Be Still My Heart!

The always awesome Michelle has started the best KAL ever. Have I mentioned I don’t watch TV much at all? Well, that has changed, all because of one thoughtful friend/employee/dog & house sitter. He plopped Season 1 on my desk and said, “Watch it. You’ll love it.” As fate would have it, we stopped in to visit his father’s duty crew at the firehouse a few days later – on a Tuesday night – and stayed riveted to the television for an hour. We devoured the first three seasons just in time. You’re on notice – don’t expect any contact from me on Tuesdays from 9-10 Eastern. (I do want a Tivo though; we became accustomed to the commercial-free version.)
I also feel obliged to note that everyone in the free world loves The Needle Lady, except me. Even Anne loved it. I did note they’re polite enough and they have a selection of primo fibers. Maybe I’m just too picky. Dunno. I think it’s because I am a part of the fourth generation of a family business that I have exacting ideas about how my patronage should be valued. I might get over myself (the Knight says his best friend is House and I am what would happen if House and Cuddy [my fav!] had a child) if places like The Loopy Ewe and Carodan didn’t lead me to believe that my expectations are very realistic.
Also, swing by and visit Blume’s Accessories. Like all of the Etsy folk I know, Mary will also treat you right. She’s just getting started, so check in often.
I think the Monkeys will be a completed pair tonight too. Then I can ship that and my tea pal’s package out tomorrow!

Things That Make Me Go Hmmmm…

Since I don’t go to UVA football games, I have to dodge the game traffic when I want to shop during a home game. I was going to head to the next little town over, but instead, I went downtown to The Needle Lady. It has been several months, and the owner is almost always there on Saturdays, so I gave them another chance. Big sigh. They carry very different lines than the other LYSs, and when the owner is there, they are friendly and offer to help, but the general cluttered feel still bothers me. It also bothered me that when she found this “sock project bag” for me and I wanted two, she didn’t offer to order another for me. I would have paid up front, or whatever it took to make her feel secure, but the offer wasn’t extended, despite my not subtle at all, “Do you have another? I’d love to buy two.” I already had a book and at least three skeins of yarn in my hands at this point. Hello?!

You see, it is a nearly perfect bag. That strap is long enough to be doubled as a shoulder strap, or worn around the waist. Perfect! Just yesterday, my wool and I stood indecently on the back porch and threw the ball for Mugsy while I Monkeyed on. It balanced precariously on the top railing, while I was thankful the leaves hadn’t fallen off the trees yet, because Ma was in her nightgown. My sock bags are all capable of hanging on an arm, but when you’re playing fetch AND knitting, the yarn would like to be more securely out of the way. And just look inside this thing! Great pockets for dpns, circs, pencils, whatever. Luckily for all of us, there’s a link on the card, but before I give you that, look at that yellow card on the left (top photo). It’s Kitchener instructions, right there on the sock bag! Now, I’m in love with toe up, but what that means is that when I do choose to top down, I definitely won’t remember how to get started kitchenering.

So, since you’ve been faithfully chewing through this rant mixed with great find report, here’s where you can find your own Knit Knack Sack. (Check out the patterns! Scarlett is heading my way. Squee!!) Please look around; they come in leather too, but I think that’s too heavy for me.

I also purchased Lace Style, because some of you know that I am trying to get up enough courage to tackle my first real lace project. I have a couple of should be Christmas gifts projects in mind, but I want something pretty basic to test the waters. Any suggestions?

I also picked up some swap yarns, but I can’t show you EVERYTHING I buy for my pals, can I? A girl has to have a few secrets. I fondled several new Tofutsies colorways, but when I saw #809 with its brown and blue (and some stupid lavender in there), my defenses crashed. Honestly folks, I want to make myself socks in every single colorway. Swap pals, now and future? Send me Tofutsies, whether it suits our swap or not, and I will put you in the Swapper’s Hall of Fame. And dudes, this stuff is MACHINE WASH AND DRY! (Yeah, yeah, Mother Inlaw will get a pair too, but probably for Mother’s Day, as she’s getting Hummingbird socks for her birthday and a shawl for Christmas, or vice-versa.) The Classic Elite Bam Boo was on sale, but I just picked up this one lonely blue guy, because it’s not exactly bamboo weather in VA anymore. Sure, TODAY it is, with highs in the mid-80s, but the nights are still cool, and heading for cold. Anyone other than Sharon care to guess what I’ll “swatch” with the bamboo?

Here again, mixed results from the Needle Lady. She offered advice on my bamboo vest, which “grows” when I wear it, but then totally missed the point when I very enthusiastically asked if she was carrying the Tofutsies Sock of the Months. Nope, and no offer to explore it either. That’s okay. Caroline at Carodan will have it, and I’m betting I can order October 1, and pick it up at the Fall Fiber Festival. (Anyone else going??) So you see, I’d like to support each of my LYSs, but some just seem to fit me better than others. The Needle Lady has a tremendous following, carries some incredible yarns, and can be friendly, so I will go back when I need silk or something special I know they carry. And I certainly encourage visitors to swing in; you’ll feel you missed something if you don’t, but Carodan, Limerick Fibers and It’s a Stitch will remain my semi-local top three.

Sweet Cherry Bag

Can you see the cute little cherries on the ribbon? Squee! I hope my pal will enjoy that little touch. The package is ready to ship out tomorrow, save a note and some tissue paper. But let me tell you, CotLin is the only linen of any blended sort for me. Sigh. It slides on through, comparable to any of the ” – & dairy product” cottons, and I bet one wash would find it snuggly soft. I see a fitted item for me in this very color, maybe, next spring. Try it for the extra-special cloths you might be giving as gifts, or treat yourself; you deserve it! I am amazed at how it costs less and feels worlds better, but don’t take my word for it. Order some and try it for yourself.
In case you missed it the first time, this is Amanda’s “Mandy’s Candy Bag” pattern. You can also find it on Ravelry.
So, a little accountability check here. Tea swap – ready to ship out tomorrow. Sock it to Me – half way there on the socks, some shopping left to do, and really should ship by next Saturday to arrive before October 5th. Vegan swap – Do thoughts count? I’ve thought a lot about what to get my friendly pal, and I do have some yarn for her, and it needs to ship before October 15th. SP11 – Package #1 shipped out earlier this week. I already have one item for the final package, and have “commissioned” something for her with one of my truly artistic/crafty friends, to be a Halloween themed package. Should ship before the 15th too. My Felted Bag package has a personal deadline which the pal should be able to guess, but I think I’ve already told you I’m not talking about that swap here, right? 😉
Whew. Wow. I’m shocked. After Monkey #2, which should be done within the next week, I will have time to cast on for the Knight’s birthday (or Christmas if I miss the first deadline) surprise, my felted bag pal’s bag, finish my Summer Daze Tofutsies, and begin holiday knitting. The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a train!
Now, to cast on for that #2.

Feel-Good Yarn

I take back all of the less than wonderful things I’ve said about It’s a Stitch. Maybe the ladies there are a bit shy or whatever, but now that I’ve been frequenting it so very often, it’s a happy yarn home. They’ve ordered a color of Louet Riverstone Chunky just because I fondled the color in the light worsted and pouted, while holding a pattern that called for the chunky. (I purchased the pattern, of course.) Remember me whining and complaining about their refusal to order KA dpns for me over the summer? Well, I came home with a set of KA #2s yesterday, so evidently, they changed their minds but the order took too long to serve its original purpose for me. There are two ladies I like better than the others, but that’s the way people connect. Their new lines this fall are pulling me in every time I go to town and they’re open, which isn’t a good thing for me, but is great for them.

That’s a shot of today’s yarn love. It’s Mirasol Hacho. If you haven’t heard the Mirasol story, take a moment and go read. I love it when I can buy something I adore and know that I’m in some small way helping the world become a better place. As usual, the colors aren’t vivid. It’s a perfect fall navy, mixed with dark shades of red, green and gray. More socks for me!

Oh, and not that I ever doubt Devon, but I do like the KA needles. Am I the only one whose needle preferences have rather suddenly changed?