Monday, December 31, 2007

And so it is New Year's Eve...

New Year's Eve, and I thought I ought to share a thought or two....

I had no knitting resolutions last year, so I had none to break.

This year, I resolve to

put up one of my sock patterns here, which means I have to write it down,

and to

Put in Steady Progress on Mama Lorraine's shawl. I am sure she thinks she will never see it done. I would SOOO like to prove her wrong, in a nice way!

Best of luck to all of you,
Whatever you resolve to do.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Veteran's Day, observed

Yesterday was 11/11, the anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War One. (Which came beore World War Two, for all those of you who might not have been sure..., so,almost 100 years ago, but not quite.)It is a day on which we celebrate Veterans of all wars, and, to me, (I'm not exactly sure how the wording of the offical paperwork goes) of all times of "peace."

Because it fell on a Sunday, we are observing the holiday today, which, in America, of course means department store sales and sleeping late.

However, I would like to take this space and this moment to thank all Veterans, knitters and non-knitters alike, for their service.

I don't care if you did paperwork or crawled on the front line. I don't care if you were drafted and couldn't get to the border fast enough or enlisted of your own free will. And I am not the least bit surprised if you want to tell me that you hope there is never a need for another war again.

Veterans, after all, are not people who went out and caused a war. They are people who faught a war our country was already in, or served in peacetime as part of the military force which presumably and hopefully keeps other countries from looking at us as easy pickings. Either way, they served us.

Today is not hero's day, is not celebrities day, is not success day. Today is not just for people we traditionally think of, although they are certainly included.

Today is a day to honor all veterans, living and dead, wartime or peacetime, charming or obnoxious. It is a day for all veterans, whether they carried or carry Flintlocks or M-16's, horse reins or flight clipboards, walked a picket line or a deck, held a clipboard or a pen or a stethoscope or a purchase order.

So today, to all veterans, but if especially to any then especially to my knitting veteran friends, a salute from this civilian, and I hope from all who read this, and a deep and sincere thank you, from the bottom of my woolly little heart.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I think I may have made up my mind...sorta

Ok, so I am designing this Hermione sock for my terrific sock pal. And of course I want it to be the very best pair of socks EVER MADE so that she will MELT with pleasure every single time she looks at them, never mind wears them.

I thought I had decided on the stitch patterns. I did! I did! And I got input from someone who likes Hermione so much it is part of her screen name, and someone who adores Ron and should know what Hermione would like sort of by reflection, and Socker, and....

Well, I hadn't. But Now I have, and life is sweet because I can knit on them all the way to Rhinebeck, and all the way back, and...and...

Well, life is just sweet!

No pictures cause I don't want to tip her off!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Many are the joys of a really good yarn sale - Slight Deathly Hallows Spoiler

Many are the joys of a super yarn sale. I have tighter foul lines for what meets that criteria than most would, perhaps. Twenty-five percent, or even 40 percent off the normal price of a yarn does not constitute a great sale – it merely constitutes the first price at which I am seriously likely to purchase something.

There are a few exceptions to this, of course. I have paid full price if I needed a particular color desperately, or if I am getting something for someone else, but generally, buying full retail does not entrance me. Blame it on my background if you’d like, but I can’t get really excited till I see them practically giving stuff away – and it has to be really nice stuff.

Then, however, I am a goner.

Yesterday I went to another Smiley’s sale and did a little stash enhancing. It was thoughtful purchasing. In one or two spots it probably stopped short, actually, of where it should have gone. Read, and tell me if you could have been any more restrained.

The first thing that went into the Laundry basket shopping basket was two bags of Calzetteria sock yarn, 70 % shrink resistant wool, 30 percent nylon, in a heathery tan. My excuse? A vest in Knitters I have wanted to make since 96 or 98, and which I will probably enter in the State Fair if I do. Cost? One dollar a ball.

This sock yarn is on the slightly thicker side of fingering – 165 yards to 50 grams, and I wanted to be absolutely certain I had enough. Twenty balls. Well, I do also knit socks, and this WOULD work for Ravenclaw bronze if it had to… which made it a possible match for the 17 or so balls of blue Kroy I got there at 1.50 a ball maybe 7 years ago… I also threw in a bag of red, because Socker loves red.

Not every color was on sale at this price. They didn’t have pale grey/silver, and if one prefers movie Ravenclaw colors (For some reason I seem to have a lot of Ravenclaw friends) or if one wants to knit a sock for Severus, one is going to need a silver grey. I got three of those at the Smiley’s normal in-store price of 2.99 a ball.

There is a Moda Dea yarn they have in textured multicolored wool. I thought another ball of this for some secret knitting, especially since I was able to find a ball of Filatura Lanarota 100% Wool Worsted at 1.99 that was a PERFECT match for one of the colors. How often does that happen? I think it’s the second time I’ve ever managed to match a color in a multi myself, but I’ve only been knitting seriously for about 13 years… I bought two other balls in a color to match a friend’s coat, totally forgetting that she is a tall person and might want a longer scarf than stumpy here would. Ah, well, thin scarves were in at some point…

I went to town with that Worsted at 1.99 a ball for 100 grams. I already have a sweater’s worth in the rust heather, but I keep having to forcibly restrain myself from knitting a pair of socks in it, so I got the six balls of that color sitting there, just in case they were the last six in creation. I also got three of the teal heather, because I have one already and a vest pattern in Fitted Knits that I want to make out of it. The three balls of burgundy with bits of lovage carded in should end up as felted slippers for my mother. (And here I digress to note that if Bellatrix Lestrange had ever dared throw an unforgivable at me, there would have been no duel. My mother would not have wasted a “You Beach!” on her, either. One shot, just to the side of the sternum (Her left, Mom’s right) and my parent would have been neatly dusting off her wand and asking quietly “Would anyone else like to try cursing my child?” This is why Mom gets a call to ask which of the burgundies she would prefer, right there from the sale aisle. When you have a parent like that, you should at least TRY to treat them right...and I still owe her the shawl.)

I was in an expansive enough mood to buy two balls of grey yarn for socks for DH, who normally gets nothing because he does not like hand-knit sweaters and wears through socks till they are cuffs and then expects me to fix them. I will have some black left from what I bought at the last sale to do a pattern on the leg…

The one thing I bought that I did not enjoy the spend? A booklet I have put off buying for several years. It was 7.95 and had four patterns, three of which are ugly and useless, one of which I really wanted. I finally gave in and just got it.

Oh – there was VIBE on sale for one dollar a ball as well. I was wavering over the colors and the fact that I would have to buy two whole bags…and the two bags of a different super bulky at home that I need to knit up first. I was advised to knit that other stuff first…

No, you really don’t have to add up everything I spent and tell me what it cost. I know what it cost. I cost less than the three bags of sock yarn at their regular price for everything I got - never mind any original MSRP’s. I am content…

Thursday, October 4, 2007

I Should Have Been Sleeping...

Well, between looking for patterns for my pal on the web, and looking for the box of spinning/knitting books that I can’t find (and that box includes Alden Amos’s spinning book as well as an old Mon Tricot Stitch directory and a sock book that currently lists as out of print and $290 in the used book trade, so if any of you have any influence with the universe I would be most appreciative if you could influence it towards sending me to the correct part of the basement or garage, but…) and looking at Favorite Socks by Interweave press, I thought I would do a little bit of an inventory of sock patterns that I happen to have around in various books, magazines and so forth last night, when I was a little too tired, probably, to knit.

This does not include any free patterns I have downloaded from the web, any individual patterns I have purchased, or any sock patterns from any magazines other than IWK and one from Spin-Off. It does not include any patterns from books I know I own but can’t find, or from half the books I do have lying around, because I have not gotten to them yet. It does not include anything I have designed and knitted myself or with Socker’s help.

So far I am at 213.

Even considering that there must be at least half a dozen patterns in there for your basic top-down sock that is still a LOT of sock patterns.

I thought I would use this information for the good of all sock-knitting kind, so today’s post will be one of a few to come here that attempt to inform in some meaningful way on the topic of sock patterns.

Sock Patterns in Interweave Knits.

Going through my copies of Interweave Knits, I came to the following two conclusions: I seem to own all but six issues out of the first eleven and a half years of publication of this magazine, and I seem to have every single issue between 96 and 2002. You can consider this, then, a fairly inclusive list. I will note issues I am missing – if you happen to have those issues, would you look in them, see if there is a sock pattern, and, if so, let me know in a comment? I will then update this list.

(Under the category “pattern” I have left out the word “Socks” if it is included in the pattern name.)

Issue Sock Pattern Designer Page(s)

Fa 96 no patterns

Sp 97 Meida’s Nancy Bush 70

Su 97 No socks

F 97 Evening of Falling Stars Roxanna Bartlett 22

W 97 Eesti Trail Hiking Nancy Bush 50

Sp 98 Mayan Jean Moss 26

Su 98 No socks

F 98 No socks

W 98 No socks

Sp 99 No socks

Su 99 No socks

F 99 Ute Nancy Bush 73

W 99/01 No socks

Sp 00 No socks

Su 00 Traveler’s stockings Nancy Bush 80

Up-down Spiral Sandy Cushman 84

F 00 Priscilla’s Dream* Priscilla Gibson-Roberts 76

W 00/01 Austrian Candace Eisner-Strick 66

Sp 01 Ilga’s 72

Su 01 Boudoir 44 , 48

F 01 Better Mousetrap Debbie New 98

W 01/02 No socks

S 02 Don’t have issue

Su 02 Don’t have issue

F 02 No socks

W 02 Don’t have issue

Sp 03 Dresser Scarf Priscilla Gibson-Roberts 94

Su 03 Merino Lace Anne Woodbury 74

F 03 Love Stamp Priscilla Gibson-Roberts 94

W 03 Eastern European Footlets Priscilla Gibson-Roberts 72

Uptown Boot Jennifer L. Appleby 100

S 04 Waving Lace Evelyn A. Clark 82

Su 04 No socks

F 04 No socks

W 04 Lace Knee-Highs Kristin Spurkland 100

Retro-Rib Evelyn A. Clark 110

S 05 Cable Rib Erica Alexander 92

Su 05 Padded Footlets Mary Snyder 44

Go With the Flow Evelyn A. Clark 96

Baby Socks 100

F 05 Don’t have issue

W 05 Embossed Leaves Mona Schmidt 96

S 06 Simply Lovely Lace Karen Baumer 64

Su 06 No socks

W 06 Cowgirl Slipper Ann Budd 132

S 07 Roza’s Grumperina 120

Su 07 Working toe-up* Ann Budd 24

On-Your-Toes Ann Budd 30

Spiral Boot Veronik Avery 48, 116

F 07 Tyrolean Ann Budd 41 and 78

Snowflake Chrissy Gardiner 56 And 124

* a basic way to make socks, including multi-size chart.

Have I reached any conclusions after this exhaustive little survey? Yes, and they follow, in no particular order:

1. What were they thinking, Summer 98 –Summer 99?

2. What was I thinking in 2002?

3. None of these are terribly complicated socks.

Most of the ones with stranding do not strand the whole sock.

One is a mosaic pattern

One is a cabled-Austrian sort of thing

Many are a simple one color stitch pattern

There are numerous ways to skin a sock represented, from direction to heel type

When compared against the table of contents for IWK’s Favorite Socks:

17 of the 25 are listed here.

One of the 25 is available as a free download on Knitting Daily (Diagonal Cross-Rib Socks by Ann Budd)

One of the 25 is in the Summer 02 Spin Off, which I also have (Two-yarn Resoleable Socks)

Therefore, there is no need for me to buy this book. Granted, I would have them all in one spot, but I would be making a working copy to avoid carrying the book around (Permissable under fair use) and I might as well just make that copy from the magazines.

If, however, you did not have the foresight or cash to start buying Knits in 96, you might want the book. At least 17 of the patterns seem to be from the magazine, so if you don’t own back copies there are a lot of patterns you don’t have. Still, like all pattern collections, look first to see how you like the individual offerings.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Today is Tuesday

Tuesday is named after the Nrose God Tyr, who put his hand in the wolf Fenrir's mouth and got it bitten off for his troubles.

This may or may not have affected his knitting. He was a god, after all.

And knitting had not been invented.


I have lots of stuff but need to mess around with pictures, and I have not had the energy. But these few things you can appreciate without pictures.

1. I have to frog 90 stitches to a row by about 35 rows on a sock. This is over 3,000 stitches. I am not going to cry!

2. Smiley's has another sale, starting Thursday...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

two more confessions...

First - the yarn I got three bags of two posts ago was Filatura Lanarota, not Filatura di Crosa. Sorry - I am always getting confused about that. So we can turn the accomplishment down a notch in everyone's mind...

Second - I got your comment Lisa W. My ultimate evil plan is to eventually have ALL my knitting friends living within driving distance of Smiley's, and therefore driving distance of ME. MWAHAHAHA!!!!

(Well, except for Benne and SK maybe. Not that I wouldn't want them here but getting our woodland knitting goddesses out of the trees would probably be about as successful as trying to get the Pope out of Rome... sometimes one just has to admit failure and move on...)

Not that I am knocking where any of you live! No, this is all about me. I am smirking evilly.

Canada, by the way, is within driving distance for those who are only very slightly deranged, so you Canucks cannot consider yourselves safe from this plan - you may wake up and find yourselves in Montreal some day.

*Trots off to brew tea and plan the overthrow of, well, something!*

Monday, September 24, 2007


I went to the Long Island sale, too. I bought two bags of Lana because...well, because it was 100 grams of 100 percent wool each, at less than two dollars a ball. they had it in black, I wear black, I intend to make some felted slipper things in black, case closed. I got two bags. That is 2,604 yards of Worsted Weight wool for twenty bucks. Even though this is not quite as good as the already-knit intarsia wool sweater that had maybe been worn once before I bought it at the Salvation Army on Saturday for four dollars, it is close. And even though the wool may not be Rowan, it is easily good enough for felting, and what do I buy in the store anyway?
When I buy new it is acrylic off the rack in K-Mart, hopefully marked down to "an additional 70 percent off our already low sale price..." Two balls of Patons Classic Wool on sale in ACMoore today would have cost me eight dollars. So...if I use five balls out of the twelve I come out ahead, even if moths get the other seven.

(even though some days I am the windshield, those moths never seem to be the bug, you know?)

I also bought 18 balls of Moda-Dea Cartwheel, which is a thick and thin sort of variegated hot pink. I had bougth one ball in the store last week that I playes with and liked, so I figured why not - they told me three bags would be enough for a sweater.

It was really nice that while I was chatting with the store manager he mentioned all the years I have been shopping there - all the years and all the wool. Our sons are about the same age, and I think they were three when I started - mine is 15 now. Wow.

Anyway, for those who do not know, Smiley's is a yarn store under an Elevated rail line in Queens. The store is very plain, and very full of yarn. They have an extensive selection of a range of things. They carry alpaca, they carry some Reynolds yarns, they carry closeouts and they carry a bit of everything. And, in a city where many yarn stores can get snooty about people who are not willing to spend an exhorbitant amount of money on EACH of 27 balls of yarn for a sweater, they are not snotty. If you go in and buy a 79 cent ball of acrylic, they thank you. If you spend 150 on a huge pile of yarn that you have to carry out in two black plastic trashbags, they thank you. I can vouch for this because I have done both. The shopping baskets are the larger size laundry baskets, and on sale days it is not unheard of to need two.

What exactly they carry has changed somewhat over the dozen years I've been shopping there. It does not carry everything, it does not worry about what is being featured in this month's magazines, and on a non-sale day it may not be terribly exciting. I love it, though, on any day of the week.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sweater Weather

There are two ways to know fall is coming in this neck of the woods. It gets cold, and Smiley's starts having sales again.

This year these two coincided. Saturday was the last day of the September store sale and the first really chilly day I've noticed. I don't leave the house much so I might have missed one, but it still would have been last week.

Yes, I went to the sale, and the yarn fairies were with me. I got a second bag of the yellow yarn I bought last spring, in the same dye lot. This virtually ensures tha the first bag, which should have been exactly enough for the sweater planned, WILL be wexactly enough, and I will have a bag of yarn left over - uh, I mean, for another project. And I do already have a pattern in mind...

I got two other bags of the same yarn, in, um, dark beige? Light Taupe? Whatever. It is an acrylic/rayon blend from Filatura di Crosa, and seems to knit up nicely from the swatching I did. Two bags ought to be enough for a sweater with sleeves, if I want one.

I also got some more or less miscellaneous sock yarn - Three balls of Plymouth Encore DK - two burgundy, one gold, for Gryffindor socks; three balls of Calzetteria in a very dark charcoal grey and two of a brown multi for socks; one random ball of worsted because I am considering buying a sweater's worth in that color and wanted to test it out on me, and two balls of something mysterious for a secret project/purpose.

All of this set me back...well, I got change from sixty dollars, for 39 balls of yarn. Unless I forgot something... Can't complain... I do think I may got to the sale on Long Island, though. I forgot to get a bag of wool yarn for ten dollars, and I might want to make a black sweater...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Hogwarts-sock-swap-two contest entry

What type of pet do you choose as your companion at Hogwarts?
An owl, obviously! Do you have ANY idea how much money this would have saved me in college?
While shopping in Hogsmeade you stop by Honeydukes for some sweets. What treats do you purchase for yourself?
Dark chocolate. I might pick up a few chocolate frog cards, because I would probably have been collecting the cards since I was about seven, but other than that, Dark Chocolate and possibly some confection they have never described in the books that might somehow resemble a cross between Rugglach, Chocolate Croissants, Baklava and Biscotti.
A potion you are preparing needs an ingredient available only at muggle shops. You don't want to stand out in your wizards robes, so you resort to traditional muggle clothing. Describe your outfit in detail. This would really depend on what Muggle shops I have to go into. If we are talking the used-bookstore/hardwarestore/ethnic neighborhood foodstores then I would be wearing black jeans, leather shoes, a jewel-neck very thin knitted top in black, brown or green with a rust colored cabled sweater over it and carrying some huge, canvas-type bag. If it were an office supply/u[sacale stationer's store then I might get to wear a trim little Lois-Lane type suite with a small but excentric had, leather gloves and and a pair of pumps with indecently hight heels. However, most of the Muggle shopping I actually do is at Costco, the supermarket and the dollar store, and recent outfits have included a pair of lavender-blue fake crocs (2.99 at the dollar store) a green pink and white cotton print dress with an elasticized smocked top and tiered skirt that goes down past my knees, and a little black nylon bag I can just cram my little wallet, cellphone and camera into with difficulty and some compromise. I am usually wearing hanging earrings, rings on both hands, a charm bracelet, and frequently a pin, sometimes a crazy pin, and less often a necklace, which is way more jewelry than people in some parts of North America but much less than Professor Trelawney. I would not say I "Accessorize"with anything much except pins, although I do wear shawls pretty much when I want to and whether or not anyone else thinks they would go with my particular outfit.

What is your favorite subject to study at Hogwarts and why? Most favorite would probably be Ancient Runes, although I would probably also be fond of History of Magic, which I would probably cope with by doing all the reading, writing something totally unrelated while class was going on, and asking questions afterwards if I could get Binns to pay attention.

Likewise, what subject is your least favorite and why? I would not like Potions because I would stink at it, although I might very well like Snape as a professor - I tended to like the difficult ones. I have severe moral doubts about Transfiguration of/to living objects and so would probably butt heads with MacGonagall a lot.

Back to the potion you were shopping for ingredients for, what type of potion are you making, what color is it, what are the ingredients, and precisely what does the potion do? The potion I am making is striped a lime green, pink and teal, includes Osprey feathers, Wrackspurt scales and the reed from a clarinet among many many other ingredients. It enables one to dance, although not simply walk, upon the surface of the sea and certain large lakes. Used upon land, it turns one into a virtual Fred Astaire or Ginger Rodgers. (Tonks took some for her wedding and managed not to knock anything over all day...)

Sunday, September 2, 2007

God has a sense of humor

Well, I'm here, and that's proof, but that is not the only proof that God has a sense of humor.

I have been busy, among other things, swatching like a little madwoman for the pattern for my pal's socks for the Hogwarts Sock Swap 2. Normally I put things off forever, but this time I have been very proactive and, like many good deeds, it has not gone unpunished...

I ordered a possible Gryffindor red yarn to go with yellow-verging-toward-gold yarn that I already have, and it arrived pronto. Except that I am not convinced it is the perfect color. I did try tea-dying it, and that seemed better, but I can hear my mother whispering "Rolled Cookies" in my ear. This is our code expressions for things that seems like a good idea at the time, but are going to leave you with a hell of a clean-up situation and three edible cookies after an exhausting day's work. Is mom right? Who knows.

It did seem, however, prudent to order the color yarn from Knit Picks that is used in the Charmed Knits book. This way, even if it turns out that people (What people? Who will ever be sure WHAT color these things are, given the delicacy of color repro at the best of times, never mind on a million different monitors? But I digress)think I used the wrong color, I will at least have the consolation that SOMEONE thought it was the right color.

This left me with three balls of red (They were on sale and I could not resist) and a ball of yellow in pretty-much-the-same-sockweight and two balls of burgundy in pretty much the same weight. But the yellow was not EXACTLY gold. So I took advantage of the trip to the Mannings that I made on my vacation and bought a single ball of Dale Baby Ull in gold - the color used in Charmed Knits. Why did I not buy two? Because I am an idiot, that is why. I will almost but not exactly certainly need two. Unless I re-think gold toes and heels. I could re-think gold toes and heels. But we do want these to be nice and Gryffy, not just burgundy socks.

Of course I am torturing myself over this fiber anyway. Some of my friends do not like the brands of some of these skeins I have. I lay awake at night pondering this profoundly. For which of my sins is this mental torture punishment? I would like to be able to cross it off the list of things I still have to do penance for... My normal procedure of waiting til the eleventh hour and paddling like mad is starting to look like it actually makes sense.

Meanwhile, in a knitter's home far far away, similar perfectionism is torturing my pal. I know this because we have confessed our perfectionism to each other. She is on her third version of the pattern she is writing for my socks, and I have swatched and rejected no fewer than five stitch patterns. Now that I am down to the ones I think I might use I question the entire premise of the sock. Maybe an entirely different approach?

My pal and I were discussing that Rebecca, who is running the swap, must have matched us very carefully. Clearly, as knitters, we are both perfectionists, not only with what we are making, but with the goodies we are sending. Thanks to her careful and considerate questioning she now knows more about what I would like in a present than most of my close family members. Thanks to my careful questioning, I have a few ideas and hope they are somewhere close.

They might be, though. The latest hilarity concerns the sock patterns we are supposed to send each other. We have been carefully circling each other with veiled queries which will hopefully leave a surprise, right? The surprise is on us. She got me a copy of Cookie A's Twisted Flower Socks pattern. Not having any idea of this, I, seeing this pattern and deciding it was gorgeous, challenging, and looked like fun bought her one. In fact, I liked it so much I bought her one, and me one. Between the two of us we now have three copies of this pattern.

I am laughing at myself here, but somewhere in heaven I think God is laughing so hard he is peeing his pants.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I love it when a plan comes together

A little while ago (Alright, it was probably months, I am bad at keeping track of these things...) bets, over at the Elann chat center asked us what patterns we had made that worked well, were not too complex, and that we would make again and again - our standbys.

Well, I finally found one, and I am mucho proud, because I have a FINISHED OJECT! (Aside from socks, when was the last time I finished something? And the aforementioned bets has made, like, a dozen sweaters and seventeen accessories since then?)

Can you possibly guess what pattern this is?

If you guessed Wisp (Which can be found in the summer 07 issue of but which for some reason refused repeatedly to be a workable link) congratulations!

Of course it looks very different in Knitty. There, it is made with one ball of laceweight mohair, and it is ethereal to the max. However, I had very little time to do this, and made it for a friend who was going in for surgery. I wanted her to have a Woobie, one she could use as a teddy bear, or a pillow, or a shawl, as she happened to see fit at any moment. I wanted one her family could not felt in the washing machine. And we all know I have a deep, deep fear of blocking, so it had to be at least acceptable right off the needles.

Benne told me years ago that she had made a number of shawls from Lion Brand Homespun and that they had survived the wars, so to speak, and it comes in a plethora of interesting colors, available very conveniently in the nearest AC Moore, with coupon. (I have a ton of this in my very own basement, but Feltdemort could not bear the thought of my cracking open the stash and letting God alone knows what OUT, so he told me to just buy some more...Well, ok, Break MY arm...)

I must now extole the virtues of this combination, and they are many...

I cast on 48 stitches. Somewhere along the line I lost two. I kept going on 46. You can't tell.

I had numerous times during the very quick-time-pressured knitting of this shawl where I found myself one or two short or over, and I made it up by adding one or two where I thought it wouldn't be noticeable, or leaving out a knit two together, or I threw in a yarn over where I thought it wouldn't hurt - between the end four stitches and the lace part on the first row of a lace section. You can't tell.

The pattern is incredibly simple, memorized in about 22 seconds, so you don't need to carry it with you. To make it even simpler, I left out the buttonholes on the sides, figuring if I dedided to add buttons I could also add some way to button them, later. I did not add buttons.

This dark blue shawl was all over the couch, the floor, the car, my son, etc. while being knit. You can't tell.

It was not prohibitively expensive to knit. I used less than two skeins. With a coupon or two, this is less than ten dollars.

It does not look cheesy. It looks very pretty.

It can be almost any length. I stopped when I ran out of time, and it is long enough to wear with a shawl pin. I could have kept going with the yarn in the second skein, which I used less than half of, and had a luxuriously long shawl. If I had reduced the number of stitches I cast on, I could have made it shorter, with buttons, like the original.

I did not try killing it, because I did not have time to test a swatch and see whether I liked it that way or not, but I am planning such an experiment for the future.

I think my friend liked it. She is the sort of person who gives handmade gifts, so she was likely to, and she seemed to. I was not going to be able to visit her in the hospital, so I felt like I was sending a hug along. And I was able to avoid the post office.

Win, Win, Win, Win, Win. I will be making this again, and in other yarns.

PS. It is reported that all went well.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I have the coolest Mom ever

I got a call from my mother today - the same mother I have lured over to the dark side. (MWAHAHAHA - see earlier post on this topic)

It is not at all surprising to get a call from my mother. It happens several times a day. Usually, though, the topics are, well, the usual. How am I, what she has eaten so far today, her plans for her vacation/Christmas shopping/painting/artshow - stuff like that. Today she surprised me, however. (She has always been able to surprise me, so this is not really a trend, more a constantly recurring state of affairs.)

"Which Harry Potter character do you think I would be?" she asked without preamble.

There is more than one way to answer the question, of course. Which character do I think she would most like to be is one way, and which character I think she is most like is the obvious second. There is a slight problem in that my mother is totally different from anyone else I have ever met in my life, and has never fit into a pigeon-hole. I gave her the best answer I could.

"Well, if you are being your working self, then MacGonagall, but if you are being your Mama-Bear self, then Molly Weasley. Although Molly can be a little petty and you aren't ever."

Apparantly her first thought had been Minerva as well, but she was surprised by Molly. I hastened to add, "and she is an excellent cook, less in the first book but very much so in the later ones. And Very protective of her children."

I wouldn't say either one of these two is exactly like my mom: most pressingly, she would have told Harry about Voldemort's plans, or, rather, she would have gone into Dumbledores office and explained to him with great fervor why it was necessary for him to do it. My mother is not one for keeping kids in the dark about possible dangers. The books would have had a lot less drama if she were in them. I know this because while my life has had its share of stupidity, none of it has been ridiculously easily avoidable drama.

Hmmm...she's better at being Molly than Molly is. If I ever meet Mrs. Weasley I will have to rub that in a little. Sometimes she gets on my nerves...

And why is this on my knitting blog? Because with the Hogwarts sock swaps, my knitting and my Pottering are intertwined.

And, oh, I may have forgotten to tell you...Mom is a Gryffindor. I was not sure whether she'd sort Claw, but she was adament. No, she is a Gryff. And now it is out here for the world to know. Godric, wherever you are, take it as a compliment. She is not, and never has been, much of a joiner!

Friday, July 13, 2007

I knit, I sent, and I received...

I finally finished the Hogwarts socks I have been torturing for the last few months and sent them off to my poor victim with a few other goodies.

I am very proud of these socks. My pal is obviously a Hufflepuff, and I decided to go with two themes - Goblet of Fire, which is the book the Huffs appear in best and most (Remember Cedric Diggory....) and flowers, because Professor Sprout is, after all, their Head of House. The socks are strictly GoF...the top pattern is false flame stitch, representing the Dragon task. The stitches around the ankle looked like bubbles to me, although Barbara Walker mistakenly thought they looked like something else, and I put them in for the lake challenge - Diggory used the BubbleHead charm, after all... and the foot is a mosaic pattern, also BW, called Maze. I'm sure you know why I chose that one.

Knitting it became a little complicated. As it turned out, I got almost identical guages on the upper half of the sock using two entirely different sizes of knitting needles. I got confused. On the first sock I used size 000, on the second, slightly smallish size 0's. I pulled really tightly on the second sock, and you can only see any difference at all if you inspect them with a gimlet eye. I think one ended up about a 32nd of an inch longer. But trust me, I had to LOOK.

The maze portion took a lot of ripping, because the mosaic portion contracts in length, and so to have the top and the bottom of the sock, which was just striped, the smae length, I had to use size 00 on the bottom and size 1 on the top. At least I think it was size one. I would recognize the needles if I saw them again...

Why did this seem to me to be easier, simpler, than just putting the mosaic pattern all the way around? Beats me entirely.

If I did it again I would use an even larger needle on the mosaic, or more stitches, and I would forget the stripes and put it all the way around.

I am tryng to write up this pattern and post it here so that others in the second HSS will be able to use it if they want to. Quite likely no one will be crazy enough, but it was really a simple pattern excpet for the changing needles, and I won't try that again... well, unless there is no other way to do it!

I put a knitted purse with a flower on it in the box, along with a pin, the hematite stitch markers you all gave me advice about, two sets of double points, a special stitch holder that has wooden cups at both ends and an elastic connecting them - you make all your needles parallel, and then slip the cups over the ends. Voila - nothing will poke out your bag, and no stitches get lost! I figured out how to make it from things I've seen, and I am so proud of myself! I threw in some yellow sock shaped point protectors was well, in case she likes those better. I also threw in a yellow plastic easter egg with a little bit of yarn for darning...there was not much of the yellow left - and a needle. I wanted it to be super terrific and I don't think I equalled some of the boxes I've seen here, but I hope I did not embarrass myself either, or disappoint my pal. I agree with others here - that would be the worst!

I also got my box from my pal! She is Terri of, and does she know how to pack a swap box!

First, the socks! They are hand-dyed yarn in Gryffindor's colorway, with a lightning bolt of purl stitches down the middle of the front between two rows of what I am pretty sure are horseshoe cables. She designed these herself, and they are perfect - The lightning bolt is Harry's scar, so that covers Book 7, and the horseshoe cables? Well, those are the footprints of the centaurs or the Thestrals, and work perfectly for the movie. Two, two, two perfections in one, if I may murder the old Doublemint gum commercials... These socks went on vacation with her, and I would like to point out a lovely example of interhouse unity - the camel on the postcard from the vacation location is wearing Ravenclaw colors...

I prefer metal needles, and so she sent me the terrific just-about-every-smaller-size-of-needle-you-could-possibly-want set from Susan Bates. There are four sets of needles in there! The package also included a tin of hand cream, a tinned candle, the rest of the wool from my socks, so I can darn them and great stitch markers that she made herself.

The most amazing "Extra", however, is the skein of sock yarn. It is hand dyed by a lady in Wales named Dee, who runs Posh Yarns, and the colorway, which she calls "Deep Water" is exactly what I would have chosen for myself. It is a cashmere blend and way, way softer than you can even imagine I will have to search long and hard before I find a pattern deserving of being knit up in this!

All in all, I have to say that my first swap feels like a great success to me, and I only hope the person who will soon be in receipt of the box I sent feels the same way!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Second Hogwarts Sock Swap!!!

I have finished torturing the Goblet of Fire Socks - photos when I get them uploaded. There is a downside to having a one Gig memory card in the camera - when you get around to uploading, it takes FOREVER...

But, in the meantime, I am going to answer my questionaire for the second swap... I invite you to join us! (Don't worry, you won't get stuck with me - I'm going to be a "Second Year!" *preens and struts*

Hogwarts Sock Swap Questionnaire
Second Years

1. What Hogwarts house have you been sorted into?


2. Shoe size? Foot length? Foot circumference?

Technically, I am an 8 and 1/2 triple E. This is a very hard
size to get, so usually I just buy a nine, sigh, and feel sorry for
my pinkie toes.

My feet are 9 and 3/4 inches long (like the platform) and 9 and 3/4 inches
around (Also like the platform. In fact, sometimes when I look down at them
they look almost as big as a train platform, or I wish they were on a train
platform, or....)

I have to say I like my socks with some negative ease in the width. They
can be as long as my feet, but if they are as wide, then they feel loose and
sloppy and I feel like I am running around in public wearing pajamas
with no underoos... This is probably just a personal quirk and I assure the
universe that you are all free to like your socks loose. I just like mine

3. List your three favorite sock yarns.

I am pretty sure some of these are not
made anymore, and I have not tried tons, but I will list three anway...

a. Socka

b. Silja

c. Socka Cotton

4. Would you like to try a new brand of sock yarn? If so, which brand?

Hmmm...yes, I might, and I think it would be nice if it was very soft and
fairly tightly spun, like Koigu, but I know from experience it had better
be superwash... from sad, sad, experience...

5. Do you prefer variegated or solid sock yarn?

I prefer solids. I might like a variegated, but I
DO NOT like self-patterning.

6. What colors would you like to add to your sock yarn stash?

Vivid, pretty ones! Purples, pinks, blues, greens (But not Kelly/Saint
Patrick's day green)reds, or vivid autumn colors like rusts, purples, deep

7. What kind of sock patterns do you gravitate toward? Lace? Ribbed? Fair Isle?
I gravitate towards really interesting patterns, as most simple ones I can
figure out for myself. I like lace, some Fair Isle, and more complicated

8. Do you have any allergies? (smoke, animals, etc.)

I am allergic to smoke, but as far as I know I am not allergic to pet
animals or fibers.

9. Will your socks be exposed to cigarette smoke or animals as you knit them?

No, not at all. We have no pets and no one smokes here. I don't take my
knitting anywhere where people smoke either, now that I think of it.

10. Are you willing to have an international Hogwarts Sock Pal?


Monday, June 25, 2007

News of my abduction has been greatly exagerrated...


More than one person has kinly pointed out that I have not posted in - yikes! - over a month. And there are reasons. I have noticed that most knitting blogs always include a picture or two, and I have not had pictures to post because...

Well, I have been torturing those Hufflepuff socks to death, and that has been my main knitting occupation. The second one is down to the heel and has been for several days now - I forgot which set of needles I knitted it on and am currently on my fourth size trying to get the same guage as the first sock. Note to self - TAKE NOTES NEXT TIME!!!!

I'm also working on a little purse from a book by family got me, also in Hufflepuff colors, and figured out a way to make really cool point protectors for Double points.
I haven't wanted to post those because I want people to see them when my pal gets her package and hopefully be wowed...

There are several other little items I am working on, but I don't know if they will be done in time to get them into the package and don't want to disappoint anyone.

I am also mentally torturing myself trying to design a sock or two for next round. This is my first swap ever and I think it has been a really good one by and large - everyone who has posted a package has had really nice things to show, and many people seem really really excited and creative about what they are doing. There are one or two others I have looked at and decided to pass on, for various reasons.

The ones with particular dollar amounts, for example, make me nervous. I understand the idea behind the state amounts of course - it is only fair that people have an idea of what is expected. The thing is that all my life my family had taken gift budgets as creative starting points, and therefore I am very accustomed to putting together something that if I bought each part would be worth a lot more, but I was able to do it because I shopped really carefully and made things. I could easily see myself having sleepless nights over questions like "If I make a pair of earrings and I know identical earrings sell for ten dollars, can I figure that is ten dollars, or do I have to add up what the beads cost me five years ago and use that figure..." Ridiculous, of course, because no one would even know I made them unless I told, but I can have attacks of scrupulosity that get in my way.

Which reminds me, I should make a pair of earrings to throw in...

I hope to have a picture of the finished socks very soon, and maybe some of the other things. I just noticed people putting postcards in their packages, and slapped my forehead - yes, there are things around here people would want postcards of!

Off to knit so there will be something to show you...

And yes, there is another installment of that Dumbledore knitting fic coming. It is a little dark, though, and I am not sure how people will take it. Well, at least it is not the kind of fan fic that makes people cover their children's eyes in horror, saying "Dobby would NEVER do that!!!!!!!!!!!"

Oh, and there will be photos of knitterly birthday swag as soon as a certain mule gets here. I don't think my friend paid extra for the arthritic one - I think that was just luck of the draw!!!!!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Hogwarts-sock-swap Hufflepuff socks!

This is the sock I am working on for my pal. Obviously, she is a Hufflepuff, and I chose a few themes for her package - one in the Goblet of Fire, which I think is the book where, because of Cedric, we really see the most of Hufflepuff, and the other is flowers, because Professor Sprout is the Head of House.

I designed this sock around the Tri-Wizard Tournament. The False Flame stitch at the top represents the Dragons. The Blister stitch, which looks like bubbles, represents the challenge in the lake - from the bubbles in Harry's bath, to the bubbles air breathers make underwater, to the Bubblehead Charm Cedric used. The Maze represents the maze. They are all from Barbara Walker (The second book). I am knitting it in Elann's Sock it to Me Collection sock yarn - Elann does not have any right now and I don't now if they are going to carry it in the future, but it is nice, not splitty, 230 yards to 50 grams 75% superwash wool and 25% polyamide. I've also used it for Fair Isle socks.

Technical notes:

I wanted the design to flow better and I tried several ways to get the bubbles to fit into the false flame stitch, obviously without success, although I am sure it can be done. I 'm fairly happy with the way the maze picks up from the bubbles, but I have questioned whether it might not look better with a contrasting purl row in black between each section.

The first two patterns are slip stitch, and had to be worked on a very small needle - 000 - in order to get guage. They are very elastic, and that is much better for a sock than being restricted by the floats in Fair Isle the way I make them. I am certain that people who are more experienced at Fair Isle than I am can control the tension of their floats better, but I still think the slip stitch is more elastic by nature. In these patterns you work one color per row, and the other color is carried up or down by dip stitches or by slipping.

The third pattern is a mosaic pattern. It is much tighter than slip stitch and I had to use a needle two sizes larger, and perhaps should have used one Three sizes larger to perfectly match guage, although it is pretty close. It is also very much less elastic, although still elastic enough for a sock, perhaps in part because I patterned the top,but the bottom is just plain stockinette stripes. I am a little concerned about the line where I am carrying the colors up, on the bottom of the foot, but I am probably being paranoid. I plan to carry this pattern down to the toe shaping. I looked for a mosaic or slip stitch pattern that would look like the cup itself but did not find one. I'm not sure how to design one and I want these socks to be done in one lifetime, so I decided to do without the cup. (Besides which, it was not a happy thing for Cedric, that cup...)

On a symbolic level I am quite happy. On an artistic level I am not quite sure - when it is further along I will be able to judge better. It was a nice stretch trying to design a pattern to go with the book, though. I have ideas for patterns for some of the other books as well, and a great idea for a Slytherin House sock...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dumbledore always wanted socks.

You may or may not know that I am quite serious about my fan fiction writing. I was thinking about Dumbledore, and those socks he wanted... Here is the first part of a short story involving Dumbledore's socks.

It looked almost like a wizarding shop. Small, cozy, there was a small round wooden table at the window where two women in shawls were sitting with paper cups of tea, probably, laughing. A table over – there were only the two tables – three woman sat, focusing intently on the work in their hands--socks, he could see, heels about to be turned.

It was not a wizard shop. The spinning wheel which took up the other half of the window, the one to the left of the door, was not spinning of its own accord. If he had a wool shop with a spinning wheel it would spin all the time. The clippings in the window would be from the daily prophet, the knitters in them would be waving to passers by, and he would have the exterior painted a prettier color than medium-old-dirty-beige. “I should have – purple, I think. And pretty china teacups, with roses, and the roses would be blooming and going back to buds while they drank. I do like those heart’s ease in the window box, though.” No one noticed that as he passed them, and put his hand to the door handle, the plants perked up and suddenly looked like the examples in a gardening magazine, thicker, fuller, and greener than they had moments before, the faces on the flowers giving the odd impression of winking.

She had seen this man before – he came in from time to time. He always looked a bit formal, in his narrow lapelled suit and wing tip shoes, his long beard hanging down in front of his tie, if he was wearing one, a flat visored cap perched incongruously on his thick white hair. If Santa lost a great deal of weight… she always thought when she saw him. He’s just a bit old-fashioned, though. To him the forty years ago that he bought that suit must seem like yesterday. Takes his tea with several lumps of sugar, I recall.

He came up to her, as he always did, smiling kindly. “Good morning,” he said. “I hope you are faring well today?” His eyes really did twinkle – she had not seen too many twinkling eyes in her day. I wonder if it’s the way he smiles that does that, or something in his eyes themselves? Well, no matter.

“Well enough, thank you,” she replied, smiling.

“And business, has it been good?” he asked, politely, looking directly at her.

“Fair enough. The first few years are always a bit difficult, but I should be rounding the bend any day now,” she said, surprising herself. The precarious nature of her income and outgo, and the number of nights she had breakfast cereal for dinner, were closely guarded secrets.

“I do think there is a great resurgence coming in knitting. It may be a few years, but I do sense that things will pick up. They move in cycles, you know. Now that is a lovely yarn I did not see last time.” He was nodding his head toward a very forward looking hank of thick and thin yarn, hand dyed in purples and mauves. She smiled at him.

“You have marvelous taste. That’s hand-dyed in Whales. She’s going to go far, that one. Would you like to see it? I always think you really have to touch the yarn to appreciate it.” She was taking the yarn down from the hook behind her as she spoke, and placing it into his hands. “It always seems like magic to me, the way these dyers can blend the colors, and the results! This makes a lovely scarf or hat. It’s quite dear, but you can mix it with another yarn for a sweater and if this is in the yoke it will draw the eye right up to the face.”

“Quite lovely, I agree. Alas, I know of no one to whom I could give such a sweater. But today I am on a mission,” he confided, twinkling at her again. She tilted her head as a sign that she was listening, and he went on. “I have been wanting nice thick socks for many years now, nice thick socks to wear in a drafty old place for the winter. People will insist on giving me books instead. It does occur to me that there is more than one way to get one’s heart desire, however. I would like to knit myself some socks. I have enquired and been told no one does this any longer, and yet I see several ladies knitting them over at your table. I had thought you might succeed where others had failed.”

It was a warm feeling, that vote of confidence, a warm feeling and a vindication. They thought she was crazy, the lot of them, and yet here was this man wanting to knit his own socks, and he never had, and he nearer a hundred than fifty. It was going to be the people no one expected who took it up again – this was just the latest sign. “I have some nice wools here – these are all machine wash, and we’ve got needles and patterns. Did you have a price range in mind?” I’ll give him the yarn if he can’t afford it. Nice old man, and it’ll be worth it just to see him doing it.

“I believe I can manage. Your very clearly posted prices make that clear to me. Do you know that some shops require one to enquire for each price?” He seemed a bit chagrined.

“Yes, I’ve never liked that myself. Embarrassing, and then you feel you have to buy something, even if you can’t afford any of it. Here I’ve got it all laid out, and we have a small selection of bargain yarns in the back for people who need real indestructibility,” she responded.

“Oh, I believe I will be able to repair them. It is just knowing how to knit them myself. My mother did, you know, but I never learned.”

“Well, we will have you speeding along in no time.”


“She sat me down with several young ladies, Fawkes, and showed me how to hold the needles for plain knitting. It’s not like holding a wand, I recalled that, but the temptation was great. I did persist, however, and I have this to show for it. I am trapped between amusement and amazement each time I cast my eyes upon it.”

It was a more or less square bit of wool, about six inches square. Dumbledore regarded it fondly. “Holes here and there where there should not be, Fawkes, and it is not quite square, but it will do for under the teapot. I have discovered my mistakes and shall do better on this next one. We shall have you leave it in Professor Mac Gonagal’s room, and see if she notices…” His eyes were twinkling again.

The surface of the desk was warm from the sun in that corner, and he ran his fingers over it lovingly. It was smooth from years of wear, mellowed with age, very very pleasant to the touch. “I am learning a great deal, Fawkes. Silk, for example, is not necessarily as soft as silk, not in a knitting yarn at least, and cotton, sometimes cotton is. But we will be knitting with wool. Wool with something else mixed in. And we will be using five needles at one time. I will admit I am impressed with myself. One must never stop learning, Fawkes. It keeps the mind alert, active, and in this case, it will keep the feet warm as well. But I shall prepare properly for my lesson.

****Next – Dumbledore enters the Penseive…****

Monday, May 21, 2007

I should have kept my mouth shut....

I should have kept my nouth shut about Feltdemort and my secret plans to provide the boy and me with unfeltable yarn, although really, the deed might already have been done when I wrote that. No, maybe not. Whatever. When I came downstairs this morning laundry was in train, and what did I see?

The last pair of hand knit socks, felted.

I leave you to imagine the carnage.

After which it was time for the trip to Smileys I had already planned, for the acrylic sock yarn I had already decided to buy.

Most people only know Smiley's from the internet yarn sales. I know Smiley's from about 1994 or 95. I know it from back before there were so many places selling discount yarn. I know it from when you could occasionally get a bag of 100% wool knitting yarn for five dollars.

There is a lot to love about Smileys, and none of it has anything to do with the candyshop boutique yarnstores you find all over today. It is a real NY experience. It is on a street under an elevated rail line, with the sun filtered through the tracks. It is a door or two down from a laundromat. The walls are white and the shelves are a mixed bag of wooden cubbies and those wire grid boxes. Oaktag signs hand down on sale days announcing prices. There are no mysterious bins of yarns you are not sure you can afford - everything is marked. The cubbies go up to the ceiling, and the ceiling is high. On sale days there are cardboard boxes in the aisles with additional merchandise. It reminds me of shopping in the garment district 20 years ago.

You can buy afghan yarn in Smileys. You can buy acrylic baby yarn. You get amazing deals on things of which they may only have a few colors - a Paton's yarn was available only in Grey today - at 59 cents a skein. You can also buy yarn that was very expensive to begin with. They have all the novelties that have been popular these past few years, but they also have 100 percent wool worsted weight in a lot of colors. They have a bunch of Reynolds yarns. And they have an amazing clientele.

Of all the places I go, the one where I am most likely to run into someone is Smileys. It happens all the time. A guy from a guild I used to belong to who has been published in Knitters, the wife of the amateur lawyer who helped keep us from getting evicted in from our first apartment, a woman today from my spinning guild which meets a good 60 miles and numerous LYS's away... I forget who all I have run into in there over the years.

Today I met the woman who taught me how to cast on for socks ten or twelve years ago. Raymond, the manager had made the connection for us then - she was in the store and could answer my question. Not only did she remember me, and Socker, and teaching me, but she also recalled exactly how old my son was that one time I saw her, a decade ago. And she had a great tip about gussets I am still trying to absorb.

At Smileys you do not carry your purchases around in your arms, and you do not get a whimpy little produce basket. No, they have LAUNDRY baskets piled up by the door, and it is entirely Kosher, especially on sale days, to need more than one. I have been going there so long the supply of Laundry baskets has been augmented and replaced several times already. While you shop you have random conversations with all sorts of knitters and crocheters, the sort of people who subscribe to Vogue Knitting but also the sort who don't subscribe to anything, who can't figure out how much RHSS they need for an afghan, who are trying their first sweater project, who are....fill in the blank. Very real people, most of them - people who really love knitting, who are not living boutique lives... people of numerous ethnicities and backgrounds, people from all sorts of neighborhoods, and in there, you talk to whoever is buying yarn next to you.

This is the only store where my son has ever been helped by a sales clerk. One helped him buy me skein of yarn as a surprise once. I love the people there.

What was my haul?

Skein after skein of Bernat's Hot Sox in multicolors, one in red, and one in blue. A Wendy 100 percent Acrylic sportweight in a variegated blue and a multi. Patons Canadiana, two or three skeins of mulitcolor (Are we sensing a theme yet?) Wool sock yarn in black and in three balls of Ravenclaw colors, why I cannot tell you when I have 20 balls of blue Kroy in the basement and belong to Gryffindor, ( I was thinking vaguely of swaps) I got six balls of a ribbon yarn to make a sweater I am almost done making in cotton, and a bag, for ten dollars, of rayon and synthetic to make myself a Berrocco top I have been eyeing. (IT is EXACTLY enough, and I am wondering if that means I might run out and whether or not I should run back for another bag.) I also got three balls of EncoreDK, two of which are cream colored, for dying. I have seen on Grace's blog that you can dye Encore, and I am very hopeful that despite its 25 % wool content, the Master of the House will not be able to felt it. I got two sets of dpn's for my spoilee.

For two summer sweaters, two pair of wool socks, four or five pair of thick acrylic socks, at least six but probably many more thin acrylic socks, a dye project and the black I need to make a second pair of Hufflepuff socks just because I designed them and now have to make them, (I already had the yellow in that weight)AND two sets of Doublepoints I paid 80 dollars. To a store I love. Where people I adore work. And they threw in a bunch of free patterns to all their mailing list customers.

I am too tired to take a picture.

Sigh. Very satisfying day.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

I Have Brought My Mother Over to the Dark Side....


As those of you who have known me for a while know, I have a marvelous and hertofore somewhat knitting impaired mother. I do not hold this against her. She is a wiz at about a million things, most of which, quite frankly, I suck at, so if knitting was not her thing: if knitting was something she did one sweater's worth of per grandchild, and that reluctantly, and if crochet followed closely after, well, that was ok.

Over the past - oh, year or so, we have seen some creeping, however. There was a scarf... there were a bunch of yarmulkes crocheted for a friend's grandson's Bar Mitzvah. There were plans to do some yarmulkes for my niece's Bat Mitzvah, as well. This is all acrylic we are talking about here, or cheap acrylic/cotton blend - the sort of financial commitment you are prepared to make when knitting/crocheting is not a huge part of your life.

(And I stop here to say that sometimes RHSS is the very best yarn you could dream of for a particular project and then you knit with it for that reason, and make no apologies. I am hatching a plan currently to get some Bernat Hot Socks for Socker, so I can make some socks Feltdemort can't felt.)

However, the infection was spreading, unbeknownst to us all.

A few weeks ago she told me she was making me a present for my birthday and that I MUST tell her if I did not like it. She told me this several times, in fact, and then arrived the other day for the weekly visit with this in hand...

Ok, for whatever bizarre reason, blogger will not take my photo right now. However, trust me when I say it is a beautiful crocheted shawl made from Lion Suede. Gorgeous colors, a melange of purple, rust, gold and green...and so so soft...It has become my new Woobie. I wore it that day, in fact, and it perfectly finished off my outfit of Linen top and Black slacks with the jazzy vintage handbag from Little Aunt Mary and my cute black flats from Rainbow.

Some people are snotty about all Lion Brand products but they actually have some nice things, including chenilles. I can't stop touching this thing. I have been wearing it around the house for warmth. In between, I just look at it.

I did not, however, expect her to take me seriously when I told her to look in the yarn aisle at ACMoore when she went up to get her paintings framed the other day. She did. I had made inroads. And while she was there, she saw a pattern book from Coats and Clark that she liked, with a very nice crochet cardigan on the front, made in their yarn, Aztec. How do I know this? Because I got the phone call. THE phone call. The phone call every fiber-us daughter of a fiber-free mother waits for. Short form?

"I need to know what weight this yarn is."

Those were not her exact words, but what she wanted to know. She could not find the yarn called for and needed to substitute.

Ah, the joy! The discussion of the style of the jacket - assymetrical opening on a symetrical jacket with a slightly scooped neck and large buttons. Sitting at my screen and calling up the pattern booklet, Yarndex, and the websites of several companies I thought might have suitable yarn. Kvelling over the beauties of a piece that would change its look entirely with a simple change of buttons. Revelling in how much use one would get out of a light jacket that could be outerwear during transitional weather and innerwear during the winter months. And the realization, after pricing it out for her, that my mother felt perfectly fine about spending 40 dollars on the yarn for this.

That, my friends, is no longer a dabbler. My mother is good with her money. 40 dollars represented the jump to hyper-space.

No, it didn't, she told me. "I already did that with your shawl."

I am dying of the bliss.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

For Lily, my pal

I am supposed to be blogging more often, so that Lily, my Hogwarts-sock-swap spoiler can get a better idea of me.

So, here is some random information that was not included on the Hogwarts-sock-swap questionaire that she might find useful. None of this information is to be construed as a request or demand for anything - just random things, except for the chocolate. Chocolate is not random info because it is important in the Potterverse - you really have to know where one stands on Chocolate! (You don't have to send them any - you should just know where they stand...)

1. Dark Chocolate. The Darker the better.

2. Good Snape, not Evil Snape.

3. I have my own theory about the last Horcrux, which I will not reveal in public but might tell you personally if you ask...

4. I have a not-so-secret belief that a new sack, bag, thing-into-which-other-things-can-be-put can save the world. From what, I am not sure, but save it, certainly, and wonder why there are not more sacks in the Potterverse. And why the ones there are are always breaking and getting the owner in trouble...

5. I really actually like the Gryffindor colors. But I also like green. I like snakes, in fact - knew people who kept them as a hobby when I was a kid. I like blue, but I have to wear warm blues, because many blues make me look like the undertaker got called away before he was quite finished...

6. I do not finish everything I start. The smaller the project, the greater the likelihood of getting it done... And I start WAY too many things...

7. I am irked every time someone at Hogwarts talks about studying Ancient Runes. There are runic alphabets, it should take about a day to memorize one, what is Hermione's problem? Obviously they must be teaching either the runes and stuff written with the runes, but what, exactly? TELL US ALREADY. Ok, rant over. It wouldn't bother me so much if I didn't want to take the course...

Anyone here who figures there is something my pal must know about me in order to do justice to my feet is invited to comment...

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Tweakin it Tuesday

Amy asked how long the little tie bag I posted last week took to make. I did not time myself. However, I have kept the question in mind as I have been working on the little Tie bags from Last Minute Fabric Gifts, and while I do not have pictures (You do not want to see the carnage) I have figured some things out.

The picture they show, which is on page 29, shows a plaid fabric, probably a wool or wool blend. It is one of those ties that has a bit of body to begin with . You lop off the end of the tie, sew that bottom shut and attach two bits of tape and half a hook and eye. How long could this take?

There is a little flaw in the pattern, if you want to look at it that way - tiea are interfaced, but, from the ties I am looking at, they are only interfaced in the front. The back of the Tie, which becomes the front of the bag, has therefore got less body, and if you put lumpy things in there the lumps will show. Also, some of the ties are lined, but the lining does not extend down the full 7 or 8 inches of the bag. Therefore you can sort of "lose" a little thing up in between the lining and the bag fabric.

Now all of this is really nit-picking. If you are making these bags to put a handkerchief in, or even an MP3 player, it makes no difference. You aren't going to be putting coins in them because the closure won't keep the coins in. If you are, however, constituted in such a way that you cannot help but "improve" on things you find imperfect, well, then, better a bag pattern than the in-laws, right?

What I have tried:

Interfacing with felt. Too bulky, not recommended.

Interfacing with iron-on - got a little stiff. It also required the fabric being flat, not a tie-end. (See Below)

Lining totally with cotton. - I did not do this with a complete tie. When you cut off that 8 or 9 inches, you have quite a bit of tie left, and so I made a new point on my what-was-left bit, interfaced it, lined it with cotton also cut on the bias, and am now searching around for the two-yards-one-and-one-half-feet of tape I had left from the first bag...(Have I ever mentioned I have trouble keeping track of things?)

I think Either the lining Or the interfacing might work better than both, so next time that is what I am going to do.

I spent a good hour torturing that leftover bit of tie in one way and another before I ended up ready to do the original bit of sewing on the loop and eye and little handle. I had tiny bits of felt and interfacing and oddly cut parts of tie all over my kitchen (Have I ever mentioned that not matter what I do I wreck a High Mass with every single project and it takes Herculean efforts to clean up after myself.? Feltdemort is willing to testify before the Wizengamot on this...)

Conclusion? If you are a normal person, not me, and do the project as described in the book, it is a very quick thing. Quarter of an hour, maybe? Half, if you have trouble finding the thread and needle? If, on the other hand, you try to "fix" it, it will take several times longer. At least for the first one. But they are fun.

I have two more ties I will be torturing. Follow up to follow.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Way-it-was Wednesday

I believe I have mentioned before that I have knit a few socks over the years for Socker. Socker likes color patterns better than texture or solid stockinette, and I try to accomodate when I have time, patience, and thin enough yarn.

These socks were something of an experiment.

I knitted them in slip stitch patterns because I figured they would be thinner and fit under shoes better than stranded knitting. That worked.

I knitted on with triangular patterns and one, I think, with square patterns. That worked.

I used two yarns which were both sparkly and very close in value. That did not work so well. It is very hard, even in good light, in person, with your reading glasses on, to really appreciate the pattern.

Failure? Success? They were never Socker's favorites, but I learned a few things. You decide.

Tweakin'it Tuesday...

Not sure exactly what I am tweaking. The details of how to make this little bag from Last-Mintue Fabric Gifts, maybe. I wrote about it yesterday, and here is a picture. It is about five inches long, to give you a sense of scale.

I am also working on tweaking the pattern for the Pinwheel Sweater at Recall, I said my yarn was lieing. It is. This would make a lovely washcloth, and guess what my mother will be getting along with whatever else for Mama's day thi year? It just happens to be her color, too. If the drape were what we want it for the sweater, it would be less satisfactory to scrub with. Here's hoping the next swatch is washcloth - useless...

Monday, May 7, 2007


How did it get to be a week and a half since my last post? Spring Fever? Whatever. I have been swatching and so forth and, so, forthly...

I swatched the perle cotton Elann had on sale on size zero needles using the butterfly pattern from the camisoles in the summer "02 Interweave Knits. It came out quite nice, but at almost 9 stitches to the inch, instead of 8. I like the fabric, so I would have to adjust the size I suppose. This is the unwashed swatch.

I have also been toying with various other things to make as little prezzies for my spoil-ee. I have made a very preliminary model of a pin to hand stitch markers on. I am NOT satisfied with the design and this is not the pin I would be sending, but you get the general idea, I think. In the long run I think it will actually end up beign something much simpler. However, just so's you can laugh at my design evolution...

I have been considering a little bag like one of the ones I made for the HUGe, the tie bag from "Last minute Fabric Gifts," (Amy QOY is a genius and I should just go buy any book she suggests without worrying my little head over it - I always like the stuff she picks.)I have been looking for an appropriate tie, and finally today I just got a Gryff colored one from the dollar store (Yes, Virginia, in my neighborhood you can buy a tie in the dollar store. This week. It is a small, independently owned dollar store and they have different stuff all the time, so maybe not next week, but this week they had them, and, considering that they only cost a dollar, they really weren't bad. I mean, they were not hideously ugly.) I do not have a finished picture of that, though.

I have gotten nowhere on Wren, swatched a washcloth's worth for the Lara Pinwheel sweater only to discover that my yarn is lying through it's little French teeth about being sportweight and that I will have to mess with the pattern, and bought a brand new pair of flip flops for the knitted shoes on Floofle that Les pointed us to.(IF I can make this pattern work for me, the world will be my oyster. I don't eat oysters, but they might make good, undemanding pets...) and made a sock blocker for one of Squash's sock out of a placemat. Warning, placemats are getting cheaper and nastier, as if that were possible. Just thought I'd let you all know....

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Sockerly, Potterly questions....

I sort of ran away with myself yesterday and made sample stitch markers. They are for my Hufflepuff Hogwarts-sock-swap secret pal, and my original intention was to make a bunch to decide which one I liked best, and then go back and make 5 more of that one. I made twelve total, six from Hematite beads, which have a metallic sheen, and six from black stone.

Here are the ones from Hematite. You can't really see the color - it is a silvery/gunmetal/black metallic.

And here are the ones from Black stone:

So, now, the questions.

1. They are hanging on a size one needle. The metal loops are big enough for up to about a size 5 needle, making them basically for socks to DK weight sweaters. Is that big enough, or would people really prefer larger ones?

2. If I were just going to choose one of these twelve and make five more to go with it, which one would you say I should pick to replicate?

3. If I am going to give one of these two sets, as a set of coordinating rather than perfectly matching markers, which set do you think is the nicest?

On to the Swatches...

Here are some slip-stitch patterns I swatched. I am thinking of picking three of these to combine (They tell a story.)

Here is a lace pattern that reminded me of the moving staircases at Hogwarts.

All of these are from Barbara Walkers Second Treasury. I have a few more questions...

4. Have you ever made a sock where you knit the top of the foot first, then knit the bottom, attaching as you go with K2tog at that end of each row?

5. If you did, did you find the place where the "Seam" occurs irritating?

6. Which do you think is the preferable sock - one with color patterns, or one with lace?

I thank you folks for any and all answers to these troubling questions...(Horror movie chord, sound of Voldemort's henchmen using the reductor curse on the door, scream....)

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Quick post answering questions

People asked a bunch of nice questions, so I want to respond...

LISA - Thanks! I don't know if any of these will be a Wren Closure for two reasons. One is that they are the sorts of shapes that catch on things, and I am the sort of person who has run-ins with her local environs, so that if there is something that CAN get caught, it will. The other is that my Wren is made of the Brilliant, which has a snaggable nylon element that is going to show wear, I think, so I am going to proceed cautiously there. When it gets big enough to actually try something out on I may do that though! And I have one or two other designs which are more likely candidates...

GRACE - you are so sweet! I am not ready to set up bookeeping just yet, and have to develop my own designs more - these are from books and therefore mine to use for self and gifts but not to sell - same as knitting patterns. However, you will be among the very first to know if and when I get that far. Oh, and I dreamed about your scarf last night. I was somewhere and there were a bunch knitted up, in a pale pale green similar to the perle cotton green we had last week, but wool. Oh, and Harry Potter was there. That scarf is getting around!

SMARIEK...yeah, I am busy - and totally ADD. See how little Wren is! The price I pay for messing around with too many things at once, LOL!

LES and all other Wrenners - I think I MAY have some understanding of why the bottom is flipping.

First of all, I think it may have something to do with decreasing from the ribbing in the last row there. That pulls in, and may be giving that hem area naughty ideas.

Next, I think it may have to do with how tightly the yarn is being knitted up. Getting guage on the Brilliant, which is supposed to knit at that guage, yields a very soft and drapable fabric. (I would say "floppy" but that does not sound nice) I am wondering if it flips up more on yarns that are being knit more firmly? I am going to do a little experiment with my zodiac when I get a chance. I will report back....

and JOAN HA! Now I know who will be getting the plaintive e-mails wailing "How do I..." It is a very expnsive hobby - I did some in HS but never owned the tools myself, especially a soldering set up. Back there we had everything, including a mill to make our sheet metal thinner... and here I have a few pair of cheap pliers, a hammer and a bench block I had to order from some place that will also sell you your own smelting equipment, which would be handy if I had a silver mine on the property but which, as things stand, I am quite certain I will never need!

So far I am practicing with copper wire and beads I had around from the LAST time I tried to sell jewelry, and so it has not been a major investment yet, but clearly, if I want to be able to anneal and re-work, or start needing a real bench and stakes to hammer with, this is going to quickly spiral right out of control. I am intrigued by the idea of making spoons, but it is really the expense of the equipment which has stopped me. That and only having one mouth. How many spoons can I use at once....

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Fiddlesticks Friday!

People liked the last pins I posted, so here are a few more.
This one here is just another version of the one with the blue bead. I think I may redo the top part, which looks a little - open. What say you folks?

These three I made from the same pattern. For the one with the dangle, I ran out of wire, so the pin is smaller but if you look carefully you can see what part of the design I did use.

For the one with the beads, well, I put beads as I bent the wire. The original in the book had beads. They were different beads, and it looked much better than this. Ah well, you have to try to learn.

This one follows the pattern pretty well, except that the pattern had some beads on it, which this does not, and this one has been textured with the hammer, which the original had not.

I bent all of these on a jig. What I did was take my jig, which is cheap and plastic and from the local craft store, and put a paper with the traced design over it. Then I tried to put pins in at appropriate places to make the bends. I could only get close, but still, they're OK.

This actually relates to my Hogwarts sock project as well. We have to send stitch markers with the sock. I was thinking...look at the one with the dangle. Is that dangle not, pretty much, a stitch marker? Couldn't I make a pin like this, and hang the stitch markers from it, so that she could either use them as decoration or just whip them off the pin and use them while she was knitting? Patternworks sold a pin like that years ago, but much simpler...rings on a big safety pin idea...

And this is Fiddlesticks Friday because it is actually yesterday's post. The camera software was being strange and not letting me find things, and other junk. This is not to be confused with Shawl Saturday, which will be up later...

Oh - picture of my Wren -- also on Junior Godess's blog...

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Think-About-It Thursday

I will admit that unless you are willing to draw a long and circuitous line from the socks found in the tomb of Eleanor de Toledo and this post, it is entirely off topic. However, reading won't take but a minute, and if you decided to help that will cost you nothing and also take but a minute, so here I am in my bully pulpit, asking you to help get some people back in the ground. I have checked all this out with the woman running effort, actually speaking to her on the phone, so we know it is not a garbled internet story.

I am asking you all to take a moment and write a brief letter stating your support for the re-internment of human remains currently being held in storage in Brooklyn, NY.

The remains come from the cemetery of the former Quarantine Hospital on Staten Island used for immigrants as well as administering to anyone in the NYC metropolitan area with an infectious disease. The burials are from 1799-1858. At some point this cemetary had been paved over as a parking lot. In 2006, it was torn up and the bodies removed to a storage facility,

There is a cemetery which is willing to take these bodies, but the position of NYS is that "No one cares." Therefore they are doing nothing.

We have seen in recent years that when people do express support for the dignified treatment of human remains, the state is eventually forced to respond in some way. I ask that you do as I have done - just send a brief letter of support to the Staten Island Cemetery, email address, stating that you support the reinternment of these remains in a proper burial ground.

Staten Island Cemetery was once a burial ground of the Native American people, first recorded burial 1802. There are hundreds of veteran's from the Revolutionary war through WW1 interred at this historic location.

I have checked the facts with the woman who is chairing this effort, and have been assured that they are correct. The local genealogical community has been called upon to send letters of support, and we have. The more people who do so, not just locally but nationally and internationally, the more likely we are to get these people decently reburied.

I hope you will send a letter of support to, and thank you for your support of this effort. Regular mail address: Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries, Inc. S.I., 115 Lathrop Avenue, Staten Island, New York 10301, phone #917-545-3309

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Way-it-Was Wednesday

I made these socks from that same book, after I made the pair from last Wednesday. This was one of those projects where I used what I had in the house, and some of it is doubled sport weight. There is Lamb's Pride worsted in there along with some Patons and who knows what else.

Socker liked these too, but not as much as last week's.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Mad-It-Myself Monday, in which I discourse of various FO's

I have been thinking about other nice things I can put in with my secret pal's socks...(Why do I keep thinking of this knitter as my victim?) I also make jewelry as one of my hobbies.

Grumperina (No idea what her URL is, followed a link) gave a little prezzie of a nice shawl pin to whoever posted the 700th pair of Jaywalker socks. I liked the pin, and have been working with things like that, so between that pin, and the latest volume of a magazine I get every now and then, I made up the following pins. This first one did not photograph very well. I am pretty happy with it, but next time I would use slightly thicker wire, and hammer it more.

This next piece is based loosely on the one in the magazine. I did not have the right guage of wire, and I think I did hammer it too much on the left side there, but I like the way it looks in general, and will probably work on variations of this.

The very last one is actually the same design pin you just saw, made with a different bead. The second wire did not fit through the hole, so I just made the top part. It is actually kind of cute all on its own...

What do people think? So far I think the one in the middle with the green bead is nicest, so I am going to work with variations of that design for now... especially since I think with a bead that has a slightly larger hole, and just slightly larger wire, that one will work nicely, whereas for the other wire may have to be gotten from I am not sure where...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Hogwarts-sock-swap progress

Well, I got an e-mail from my secret pal, and have to e-mail her back. She got specially dyed yarn for my socks, and is talking about casting on already.


I have been dithering because first, I wanted to find out some things about what my person would like. I am probably over-thinking this, because I have never been in a sock swap before and of course want to make the most marvelous socks EVER for this gal, the socks that will just make her swoon with delight. Now I don't particularly like eating my own cooking because I am always sure everyone else's is better, but even I will take socks knitted by me - any old pair, even the RHSS ones. So I am pretty sure this woman will like whatever nice pair of socks I send. If I just get variegated yarn and make one of the pretty patterns that other people have posted links to, and which they are probably using...But NO, I feel I ought to transcend all former socks and create - the socks of all socks! The socks de resistance! The mastersocks!!!

So, someone save me from myself. Is combining cables in a particularly meaningful Hogwarts shape, a panel of lace with a contrasting solid panel behind it, and some color work too much for one sock to take?

*wanders off muttering "must check stitch dictionary, must check stitch dictionary, must check...