Feet and Flora

Quick, while Flickr is functional… 

While we were at the beach, I knitted the Knight some belated birthday house socks.  Actually, I cast on at home while I was waiting for him to finish his fire training so we could leave, but…

Project:  Knight’s House Socks

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Photo taken on the front porch at OBX

Pattern:  Basic Dude Socks.  Umm…  I had a few modifications and will cobble together my own pattern before I do the next pair.  He’s delighted with them and barely allowed me to weave in the ends before he put them on.  I used Judy’s Magic Cast-on, but 14 stitches to start made the toe too square, in my opinion.  The Knight just shrugged, but the toe bunched up when he did shove them in his shoes for dog walking duties. 

The heel is its own little nightmare.  I had to darn holes all over the place in both socks, because this particular short-row method didn’t match my knitting style one bit.  I thought I’d compensated after frogging once and trying again, but when the Knight pull the socks on, the holes were too much for me.   He loves the way a short-row heel fits though, so I’m going to try another version next time.

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As good as it gets with a reluctant foot model

Yarn:  Kraemer Yarns Perfection in Sky, purchased at Dog House Yarns & More.   I really liked this yarn.  It’s similar to Wool Ease, but it’s softer to the hand and seems to wear just as well.  Sadly, Kraemer doesn’t seem to have much of a following in these parts.  Shame, because it’s a solid company with good prices!

Needles:  US #5 Addi circs.  Yes, plural.   I think I’ve discovered the right methodology for sock knitting for me.  Magic Loop, one sock per needle, but start both at the same time and finish both within a few hours of each other.   A couple of my RCK pals have been doing this for years (but I think at least one of them uses double points)…  You just always pick up the sock further behind. 

Verdict:  I think I need worsted weight house socks too. 

Because I need to catch up on all the stuff I wanted to share, here are some photos of the cactus thing that attacks the girls and me at the beach.  Sis had one stick in her bottom lip, Gretchen had one poke in her sweet little belly, and I had one draw blood from a finger or two while I was cleaning up pooooo before we left.

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Here’s a singlet, the sort that gets stuck on living, breathing folk.

Here’s a more mature plant…

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And here’s I assume the same plant in a different state…  I don’t know if it winters red, or if that’s what it looks like when it’s dying, or what.

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If anyone knows what this pest is, I’d like to know.  We thought we’d rid the property of ALL vestiges of it last spring, but obviously not.  Only the red-purple photo was taken on the neighbor’s property.

How are your holiday preparations going?

Magic Minis

On Sunday, I taught a Magic Loop sock class at Dog House Yarns &  More.   I wanted a wee sock that even a novice knitter could cobble together in the span of one afternoon class, so I reached out to a friend who had written up her own mini sock ornament pattern, and received her permission to turn it into an anklet and re-write the pattern specifically for Magic Loop.  We’ll be releasing the pattern soon… we need a cute name for our joint designing efforts.

The variegated model is the one I whipped through Saturday, just to be sure the concept would work.  I knitted it in 20 minutes, not including the times I stopped to let the dogs in or out or back in, nor the time it took to edit the pattern from dpn ( double pointed needles) language to ML (Magic Loop).  I even kitchenered the toe closed (a very specific grafting method that is well-suited for socks knitted from cuff to toe), but decided I like a mini sock with a rounder toe, the kind produced when you just break the yarn and “sew” the toe closed with a needle.

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The foot of the blue one is a little short, because I started toe decreases when the students were ready, even though I hadn’t done enough rounds.  I also crocheted the little loop on the back of the blue one, so it could be a little ornament if I’m so inclined.

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One well-protested anklet, summer 2010

They’re quite tiny.  I should have dropped a quarter or something in there for reference, but Gretchen could wear them if we didn’t have a deal that she doesn’t EVER have to put anything on her feet again.

While we’re talking about Dog House Yarns, are you going to the Lawre’s Laine trunk show on Saturday?  (11-6)   Lawre’s added magnetic closures to her fabulous bags, so come with your own fabric or just an idea of what you want in your dream bag, and you can place a custom order, or walk away with one of the pre-made samples… if you’re lucky.   Follow the link to Lawre’s website to see samples and styles.

Oh – and I’ve almost finished Sabriel.  I need to assure I can download the rest of the trilogy on my Nook ASAP.  I very well could finish it tonight.  Pardon me…  I need to go look into that right now.  Otherwise, after I vote, I might have to go to town and buy paperbacks!

Please don’t forget to vote if you live in the US and haven’t done so already.  A lot of women truly suffered greatly to assure us that right, so don’t take it lightly!  Be an informed voter if you do go to the polls…

Feelin’ Fruity

Whoooohoooo!  It’s Friday and the sun is shining! 

My favorite Knit Picks photo of Carmen

A couple of weeks ago, Knitting It Out had a contest.   The prize was a Knit Picks kit for Carmen Bananas.   I won!  The sock monkey from my childhood disappeared, and I’ve thought about ordering Carmen’s kit more than once, so I’m delighted to have her in my home, waiting for me to take her on.  She’s going to be a challenge…  I don’t like seams, and my stranded knitting needs practicing…  Thank you, Knitting It Out!  I’m looking forward to working on Carmen and letting her walk me through some knitting hurdles.

Long ago – last Thursday – I finally finished another pair of socks.  Yes, they’re baby socks, but they are socks!

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Project:  Sweet Baby Kiwi

Pattern:  Sweet Baby Kate by Irishgirlieknits is my new go-to baby sock pattern.  It’s really a baby Cotty sock pattern with a matching hat thrown in for good measure.  I just can’t telly you how much I like this/Cotty pattern!  The cuff is a tiny bit fiddly the first time you do it, but since I’ve done four of them now (don’t ask – this is indeed the first pair of Cottys I’ve finished), I can almost do it in my sleep.

September 2010 004Yarn:  Leftover Plymouth Sockotta.  I love the colors, and it will go well with the blanket gMarie made for me for the same baby.  I think it’s just about perfect baby boy yarn.  He might get a bigger boy pair for Christmas or something…

Needles:  US #2 dpns.  For baby socks, I love my shorty bamboo dpns.  It’s just easier for me to do wee socks on the little dpns, rather than manipulating all the cord it would take for my usual magic loop.

Verdict:  I think I’ve already said this, but this will be my new go-to baby sock pattern.  When I’m not knitting for a baby whose climate is headed into summer, I’ll give the hat a try too.

Can’t wait for tomorrow and the Fall Fiber Festival at Montpelier.  Anyone else going to be there?  In case you’re wondering, I do anticipate mud.  I don’t know that it’s going to be as bad as the mud-fest a few years back, but I do think the parking field will be soft and slippery, and I won’t be shocked if the same is true of the vendor area as well.

Oh – and if you’re making the trek, Dog House Yarns is only about 20 miles away from the festival…  It’s guaranteed to be climate-controlled, bug-free, no direct sun, and no mud!

What’s on your weekend agenda?

No Navy?

What a weekend!  The fur-girls have been busy; they stuck up a couple of posts, with today’s bemoaning a quick photo op yesterday…

First try online!

We were busy too.  We had a wedding Saturday, and the preparations for such really opened my eyes.  As the title implies, I learned that navy shoes are not to be had this season, not in podunk.  I did spot a blah blue suede pair of flats that did nothing for me, but other than those, everything navy I found had a gum sole – seriously.   I guess I’ll be ordering a pair online today, since they aren’t so hard to find there.  Hrmph.  I ended up with a gold pair of flats, because I was out of time and patience, and the sales guy insisted gold was a neutral this year. 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter.  Is gold a neutral?    Should it really be impossible to find navy flats in mid-September? 

Despite my footwear fiasco, the wedding was lovely.  It was great to catch up with some of my former co-workers from the city fire department, but no, I don’t have photos.

September 2010 004I didn’t even have much time to knit or read, but that didn’t stop me from finishing up #4 in the tea shop series, and I started Innkeeping with Murder, a Hatteras  West mystery – on the Nook.   I also cast on for yet another pair of Cottys, this time in a baby size… 

And yes, I finished the sweater, but the jury’s still out on the photos I took late last night.  If I bite the bullet and opt to use those, I’ll have a finished object report for you tomorrow!

How was your weekend?

Soul Socks

Don’t look now, but I’ve finally finished a pair of adult socks this year.   This whole post will make more sense if you’re a Harry Potter fan, but in case you’re not, a horcrux is a bit of dark magic, with a piece of the dark wizard’s soul inside. 

Project:  Horcrux from London   Must be magic, because it restored not only my sock mojo but my general knitting mojo as well!

Pattern: Horcrux Socks, by Susan Lawrence  I really like her designs.  These socks were just right for me…  even if I do prefer toe-up sock knitting.  If I make them again, I might try to transpose them to toe-up.  Love the 3×2 ribbing, and the bit of lace – the horcrux connection, to resemble the scar on Harry Potter’s head – on the leg was perfect.  It wasn’t too challenging, but it broke up the sock a bit to keep it from being too boring. 

Yarn:  Regia Galaxy, from the awesome Monica.  That’s part of why I chose this pattern for this yarn; Monica picked it up in London a couple of years ago, and some of Harry Potter happens in London.  I look for these to become a favorite in my sock stable.  Jeans are a staple in my winter wardrobe, and I love the splashes of pink, aqua and pale yellow.  The good news is I have about 90% of one ball left, so I might need to start two at a time toe-up…  I should have enough for some anklets.

Needles:  US #2 Addi Turbo circ.  A bit too large, actually, but I couldn’t find my #1, so what’s a girl to do?  (These were cast on pre-Clicks.   If I haven’t waxed poetic about the Clicks, I’ve done you a disservice.  LOVE that set so much that I’ll have to add the Lace tips too, just because…)

Verdict:  I could totally knit this pattern again, but there are so many sock patterns out there.  If ever I run out and need to start knitting them a second time, I’ll start with this pattern.

The weekend was a nice one.  Saturday, we headed to the farm for a family reunion.  The fur-girls love their new cousin Chance, but you’ll have to wait to meet him later in the week.  The calming collar definitely earned its keep, but it does cost more than I thought at $8.99.  Still, we purchased two more Saturday night.  Yesterday, we celebrated Fathers Day with Dae and Uncle Timmy, the uncle next door to the inlaws.   The Knight’s cousin like a brother to us both grilled perfect steaks, and CLAB’s sweet bride shared her wine with me, so what’s not to love, even if it was 100 degrees outside?! 

On my (first) wedding day, 1993

Please don’t take my silence on Fathers Day as a slight.  I was blessed with the most awesome father in the world, but his death still finds me raw and emotional a few times each year.   The fur-girls wanted to post to their Dadaw on Sunday, but I just wasn’t up to it.   It’s not fair to the great fathers still in my life, but he and Pop left big holes in my life.  (And yes, we glossed over the second anniversary of Pop’s death last week too.  More rawness.)

How was your weekend?

Magic and Bags

What do you do when you realize you simply cannot finish a project (Ravelry link) in time?  Specifically, when the baby is going to be delivered tomorrow and a blankie is barely at half-way?

You crank out a pair of Magic Slippers.   I made two pairs of these last spring for babies on the way, but I’d forgotten them until another blogger mentioned them over the weekend.    I won’t do another full-blow finished object report, but the originial is here, and the particulars for this project are below.

Yarn:  Tofutsies leftovers, from their first “sock club” special. 

Needles:  Two 16″ US #2 Knitpick circulars.  I rather liked doing these on two circs instead of the dpns I’d used before.  Might try Magic Loop and two at a time for the next pair.

One day last week, Vera had the Stephanie bag on sale in select colors, and MJ and I were both tempted to the point of purchase.  The Cupcake green on the left is her early Mothers Day present, and the Mod Floral on the right is mine.

I REALLY wish Vera would offer inside views of their bags, or at least a swatch of the contrasting fabric.  That’s the interior of MJ’s Cupcake green, which as seems to be the case with me and Vera of late, I like better than the primary/exterior fabric.

And that’s the interior of my Mod Floral.

Another shot of the bag.  Yes, it has very short handles.  I happen to love the shape and have already switched over to this one.  Of course, it’s too soon to tell, but I like the way it feels on my shoulder – tucked up under my arm – and it holds all of my stuff with room to spare.  For the price I paid, I won’t cry if Sissy slimes it too often and it has to be retired in the fall.

I love the pleats at the top of the bag.  How silly is that?!

How was your weekend?  I accomplished absolutely nothing that I set out to do.  The Knight was on call for work, so the shed building didn’t start until about lunchtime on Saturday, so there there no need to bake and cook.  (Of course the time he has something planned at home, he gets a call on the far side of the county…)  I did knit on the blankie, but honestly, that acrylic hurts my hands.  I guess because it has no give at all and I’m doing cables and such? 

I did cast on for a new project (Ravelry link) last night when I got ticked off because I didn’t have all the paperwork I needed to do the taxes.  The Knight had handed what I thought was everything over, but…  and he wasn’t home to find the missing pieces, so…  Knit therapy to the rescue!  Tonight’s the night, even if he has to beg out of a chiefly duty or ten.

How was your weekend?

Knitter up!

I’m happily progressing on the two projects that are getting all of my knitting time these days.

Serenity is a fabulous knit.  It has cables, lace and “resting rows.”   I love lace, but I really like the patterns where I get  every other row to just knit (or purl, but knit is better).  I’ve made tons more progress since the photo, but you get the idea.  I’m knitting with Caron One Pound, which is about as good as a “cheap” acrylic gets.  It will wear like iron, and that’s what matters for this project.   The baby shower is this coming Saturday, but the baby is due in mid-April, so I hope to finish it up as soon as possible.

I’m almost afraid to mention that my sock mojo is back.  I’m twitching and itching to get back to it so I can turn the heel on sock #1.  The pattern is the Horcrux Sock, and the yarn was a gift from Monica, from London.    I love the lightning bolt pooling too.  Since we’re back to seasonal temperatures again, if I can finish the socks post-haste, I might even be able to wear them once or twice before it is too warm for such.  Oh – the yarn is a Regia.

I’m still spinning away on this unknown wool.  It has a long, crimped fiber, if that helps anyone help me guess.   The photos don’t show all the little crimps sticking out all over the place, even on the bobbin.  It’s a little rough to the touch, but not annoyingly so.

That’s the bag of fiber.  It’s roughly a pound, so my plan is to spin it up and knit Grace‘s Comforting Embrace Shawl, in memory of  the friend who lost her battle with breast cancer last month.  She loved tie-dyed stuff, so I’m hoping this will ply into something really cool.

I’m reading American Gods.  The college friend who recommended it called it “grittier” than Anansi Boys, but I’m having trouble putting it down.  For a change, I wasn’t late to work because I couldn’t resist snuggling the fur-girls…  I couldn’t put the book down.  It’s dark, it’s violent, and I have to confess that I like that in a book now and then.  (But not sad.  I don’t like sad.)

What are you working on, reading or otherwise doing?

The Nots Socks

Lookie here!  I finished a pair of socks. 

The Not-Florida Footies

Pattern:  Fast Florida Footies in size 8, free on Ravelry.  Well, before I say much about my difficulties, let me point out that while I am thrifty (sometimes), I do not wear a size 8.  So, I most likely could have avoided having two very different-looking toes on the socks if I’d coughed up the meager $6 for the pattern that would have included the instructions for my size.

Sock #1, seen on the left, was too long when I finished it, so I had to frog back, and decided that since it was for me, I’d just graft the toe closed where I stopped frogging.  It’s just fine comfort-wise, but it looks rather square, so I started the toe decreases a good half inch or more earlier on sock #2, and isn’t it purdy?

Yarn:  Cascade Fixation.  I used slightly less than one ball for this pair, but I do have a small foot and like socks with a bit of negative ease.  Isn’t this a happy colorway?  Thanks, Wendy!! 

Do note the purl-side out sole.  It makes walking in these socks a little dream.  I’m using these as house socks, so I can’t comment on how the textured Fixation feels in shoes.

Needles:  Knitpicks metal dpns, US size #3.  I really don’t enjoy DPNs so much, but clearly, I wasn’t bothered enough by them to switch to a circular.

Verdict:  They’re very comfy, warm socks.  Interestingly enough, the square toe sock doesn’t seem to turn on my foot as much as the purdier rounder toe.  You see, when I wear house socks, they often twist around my foot, as I shove them under me and sit on them, or cross my legs or…

They weren’t fast.  That was my fault…  I’ve lost my sock mojo and I’m beginning to accept that it just might not ever return.  I can still knit socks, but they don’t fly off my needles anymore.  Obviously, they weren’t Florida either.  I’m about as Virginian as you get.  They are however, footies, and oh how I love footies.

So, how was your weekend?  Ours was gloriously slow.  There was some tree removal, which resulted in a soupy, nasty, muddy mess, but it’s all good.  That’s really about all there is to report, other than that laptops don’t care to share a glass of milk.  Hem…


Wool + summer heat x humidity = on hold

Wool + summer heat x humidity = on hold

Startitis makes its way around to most of us who knit or crochet or sew or… at some point or another.  I’d been doing reasonably well, with a tobegiftedbefore Christmas gift on the needles waiting for it to cool down some, a lace project that I lost interest in but want to finish, another gift whose deadline won’t be met, and a sock that’s just too complicated for me right now (and will likely be frogged) in the works. 

I was making progress on the gift I want to finish, but it is just complicated enough that it won’t make a good travel project, so I cast on TWO travel projects last night.  You know, because I’d had THREE FOs in the past five days?  Some of you understand that logic, and the rest of you just have far more discipline than I do.  I only like algebra and calculus in the math world, so don’t try adding and subtracting; it won’t come out right, but trust me…  I actually got an “A” in logic and in ethics (both ironically required subjects for a philosophy major), so somehow, it does work in knitters math.

The sock that probably wont be...

The sock that probably won't be...

My sock mojo has wandered away again, and has been replaced by have cloth, will travel mojo.  I’ve never really enjoyed cloths asides from their instant gratification abilities, but here lately, I’m liking them more and more.  Crazy that, huh?  I know some of you always have cloths on the needles, but I have historically been a travel sock or simple lace wrap kind of girl.

Now, I’m sure that in time, the cotton will be too hard on my hands and I’ll move on to something else, but in the meantime, I’ll knock out several little gifts, since y’all  have been good enough to send cloths to stock my linen closet (um, well, linen basket, because I think I’ve already confessed that my main linen closet became my fiber arts library, right?) for the Knight.  Thank you, thank you, because that also means I’m under no pressure at all and can quit on the cloths whenever I want without sentencing the Knight to commercial terry cloths.   (The  horrors!)

What did I cast on?  Well, I don’t have photos, and my fellow Rav-stalkers already know, but I couldn’t resist the Muguets Cloth (scroll down to Expert, click, and then scroll down for the English version), which will go with some nice soap as a belated gift to my mother. 

Anita also reminded me yesterday that there’s a baby due in about five weeks for whom I need to get knitting.  Big brother to this little one got a blankie and a hat, so I need to knit on!  I chose  Savta’s Shell Pattern Afghan, in part because of the sweet story, and because I think it works up nicely in a variegated yarn.   Ann helped me select some Berroco Comfort for the project, because with this being the second baby in less than two years, my girlfriend doesn’t need to worry about special care for handknits, even though I know she and her darling  husband thoroughly appreciate them.

Almost all grown up

Almost all grown up

I also failed earlier to note that our baby girl is almost not a baby anymore, although I called Mugsy my baby right up through his death.  Today is Lady Gretchen Greer’s 11-month birthday.  (No, that’s not her registered name, but I sure wish it was.)  Never has there been a better, more delightful puppy, ever.  While we needed Sissy’s silly, wild antics to combat our grief (upon grief , one death after another), Gretchen’s bubbly but always polite mannerisms continue to warm our hearts too. 

Zoom-zoomies outside!

Zoom-zoomies outside!

I just have to caution everyone who doesn’t know many Jack Russell Terriers or Parson Terriers (AKC), because she isn’t the norm.   She is very high energy, but she will let her “zoomies” carry her through the house, lap after lap (with MUCH bigger Sissy at her heels) if she has excess energy built up, whereas at her age, Mugsy often had me in tears and I took up running again just to make him a happy, almost well-behaved dog.  She has plenty of that terrier spunk, but she’s just so sweet about expressing it.  

Sissy says she still loves Lexi-Beastie

Sissy says she still loves Lexi-Beastie

While I’m babbling away and eating up your blog-reading time, I should also report that the car shopping is over.  No, there’s no purchase to announce.  I realized yesterday that I am stressing myself and the Knight out with my rather manic, OCD approach to shopping.  Around the same moment, it suddenly dawned on me that some friends from my childhood own and operate a service center that is a certified Lexus repair center, so tomorrow, Beastie goes to the doctor.  Not so long ago, we loved Beastie (aka: Lexi).  Maybe if we can correct a few of her issues for a reasonable price, we can continue on with the plan to see her to at least 100,000 miles.   In the meantime, we can casually explore auto options in as non-psycho of a fashion as I can manage.  I’ve heard rumors that some of you actually enjoy test driving vehicles and even do so when you aren’t IN the midst of a hunt for the next ride!

Phew.  That almost catches us up.  I still have a new FO to share and I completely overlooked the last shipment of the shared Wollmeise sock club, but we’ll save those for another day.

Frazzled Friday

This isn’t a TGIF week.  Frankly, car shopping is sucking up knitting time, whether I leave the house or not.  Remember, I must research any and all options until my eyes blur, and I cannot read and knit so well.

But before I get all bitter and cranky, look!


Better hurry before they’re gone.  I left mine in the cart for you…  The mug is really what I like best, so I’m just hoping she offers it independently later. 

We do have some fun on the radar for the weekend.   We have two birthday parties, although both required that I miss something else I’d like to do too.  That’s okay.  The “kids” celebrating are special, and we wouldn’t miss honoring them for anything.  Besides, isn’t it nice to have friends AND family you want to be with?

And while I hesitate to toot my own horn, the Heel Hugger pattern is now available as a free Ravelry download!   Thanks again to my test knitters, those who shared photos and especially to Anita for pulling it all together for me.

I’ll have another couple of FOs for you soon, but while you wait, those of you on Ravelry can go check out Jessi’s new pattern too.

So, what does your weekend hold?