Monday, October 31, 2005

New Sock On The Block

Today is the last day of Lolly’s Socktoberfest extravaganza so I have a SIP to report.

The yarn is Regia Mini-Ringel in shade 5217 and it was gifted to me last month by my soon-to-be-revealed "Better Pal." The pattern is my own. I've knit it before but this time I've been writing it down as I go. I'm knitting both socks at the same time because I intend to use an afterthought heel on these so I want the leg portion to match perfectly. Time will tell how close I come to achieving that lofty goal. I'll probably post photos of the afterthought heel as I knit it, although there are some good descriptions of the technique on the Web if you just Google afterthought heel. I use a technique that's more like a "postponed heel." I knit the heel before I finish the foot of the sock. Otherwise, I'm never certain whether I've knit the foot the proper length. Does anyone else do this? Or perhaps someone who knits her heel at the very end can comment on how to ensure that the foot is not too long or too short.

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Give A Little Update

If you've been following the progress of the "Give A Little" campaign on my sidebar, you noticed that we passed the $100,000.00 mark last week. Way to go, knitters!! Although Hurricane Beta is still out there, the hurricane season is thankfully just about over for this year. To celebrate the end of the hurricane season, Margene and I will be drawing three names on November 1st (yes, that's this Tuesday). The lucky winners will receive either the Peacock Shawl donated by Wendy, the Kerry Blue Shawl donated by Polly, or the Roscalie Vest donated by Teresa.

Margene and I would like to thank all of you who took the time to email your donation amount. And, of course, here's a big shout out to everyone who donated a prize. If you've not sent us your donation information yet, just go to the Give a Little page and follow the instructions.

Good Luck!

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

What I Knit -- What I Bought

Consistent with my Spartan packing ways, I brought only one small suitcase with me to Chicago so space for WIPs was limited. Several months ago I bought a single, 2oz skein of some luscious wool/mohair, hand-dyed yarn from a small LYS near my house. There really wasn't enough yardage to make much of anything, but it was the last skein she had and the colors, you might say, were right up my alley. So I balled up the hank and grabbed a set of Brittany Birch double-points and I was off. I decided the only thing I could really squeeze from 124 yards, was a scarf/cravat with some type of openwork pattern. So, I cast on and by Thursday evening I had this:

See why I fell in love with the color of the yarn:

I decided I loved the scarf so much, I cast on for a second with the same needles and a 25g ball of mohair I bought while I was in Italy. This one will be significantly longer but I'm nearly finished:

So, what did I buy??? I exercised enormous restraint and bought one skein of Lorna's Laces worsted weight and one teeny, tiny ball of Habu mohair/silk lace-weight.

But my best purchase in Chicago didn't involve yarn!

Yes, blasphemy, I know.

There was a rather large Borders near our hotel which proved to be a good place for the kids to decompress. While they listened to their favorite albums in the music department, I wandered over to the stationery section and found this:

A CIAK journal! You have no idea how long I've been looking for this! I was given one of these journals about a year ago by a friend who knows of my propensity to: (1) forget things easily and (2) lose all the little slips of paper on which I make notes to myself. I used my journal all the time, until it was filled up; I had to replace it with a Moleskine journal because I couldn't find another CIAK. I much prefer the CIAK to Moleskine, though, in part because I like the shape better and in part because the elastic band is just so damn cute. Anyway, I bought only one (limited luggage space, remember), foolishly thinking that if the Chicago Borders carried them, the one in Salt Lake City must also or they must be available through the Border's web site. Wrong!

So here's my appeal. Does anyone know where I can get another one (or two, or three) of these online? Or, perhaps, someone out there lives near a Borders that carries them and would like to swap for some sock yarn? Email me if you're interested in the swap or have any info. Thanks!

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005


Woah; it didn't take you grrls long to figure out that I was in Chicago last week!

Once I learned that I'd be tagging along with DH (who was attending a conference), I contacted Michelle. Last year, I was Michelle's Secret Pal during round #2 of the Secret Pal swap. She turned out to be the hostess with the mostess! She picked me up (!) at my hotel on Thursday night and we made a quick detour to Nina, a cute yarn shop on Division Street in the Wicker Park area. Here's Michelle, clowning around in front of the shop. Notice her amazingly fabulous Hot Lava sweater which was hot off the needles:

After the frivolity and shopping (I restrained myself and only bought two small skeins of yarn; luggage space was limited), we headed over to Letizia's for KIP. There, I had the good fortune to meet a bevy of amazing Chicago knitters.

In the front, from left to right there's: Michelle, Rachel, Dana, and me
In the back, from left to right, it's: Corinne, Teresa, Lauren, and Bonne Marie

Dana was seaming a fabulous baby sweater she'd knit from Gems Merino Opal yarn (Yum!), but socks were clearly the project of choice. Teresa was working on the cuff of a pair from a gorgeous colorway of Socks That Rock; Bonne Marie was magic looping a pair; and Corinne was working on the foot of a sock she was knitting from a hand-dyed wool/hemp yarn while lamenting the hole that had just appeared in the heel of her favorite pair. Corinne, this link is for you. Darn away!

Thanks, Chicago knitters, for the warm welcome and the scintillating conversation!

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Monday, October 24, 2005

Catching Up

No WIP again this week because I finished it while I was on vacation. And I haven’t had much of a chance to take photos of the WIP I started this evening since I'm still unpacking and trying to get a handle on the mountain of laundry we brought back. So, instead, I'm posing an even easier question this week. Here's a photo taken of me and several other fabuloso knitters last Thursday night:

Can you guess where I vacationed last week???

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Monday, October 17, 2005

I’m a Finisher

I’ve been shirking my blogging duties and spending the time finishing up several projects that have been languishing in my knitting basket. I’ve also been spinning every chance I can get. So, what are the fruits of my labor?

First, I finally finished the second Spey Valley sock:

Looks just like the first; but that’s a good thing. I have to thank Lolly for this. Her Socktoberfest soiree inspired me to complete the little I had left on this sock. So, thanks Lolly! The pattern is from the book, Knitting on the Road by Nancy Bush. The only alteration I made was to the length of the leg. The stitch patterning around the top of the cuff is wonderful, and I wanted to make sure that it peeked out when the socks are worn. So I made the cuff fairly short; about 6 inches instead of the nearly 8 inches that Nancy recommends in the pattern. The yarn is the Kool Aid dyed Knit Picks "dye your own" yarn that Mim gave me for my birthday. I have about 135 yards left. Lacy scarf maybe?

I also finished a scarf that I designed for Knit Picks from their Suri Dream yarn. They sent me the pattern to proof and I just knit a second scarf to double-check it:

What do you think? It only takes one skein of yarn for the whole scarf and it is easily completed in an evening or two. The pattern should be available soon. I have a feeling I’ll be making plenty of these for last-minute holiday gifts.

Finally, I made a pair of fingerless mittens for me from the pattern I designed for Knit Picks.

The mornings are getting cold here and I realized that I've given away all the pairs I knit over the summer. Doh. I used Inca Alpaca and size 2.75 needles. Oh, and I knit these in the round, not flat. Hmmm . . . I guess that means I didn't even follow my own pattern!

I also did a little dyeing over the weekend. I used some Kool Aid and the hot pour
method described in the book, Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook, to dye the skein on the left. The one on the right was simply immersed in a pot of Strawberry Kool Aid.

Handling the roving, of course, inspired me to complete some spinning projects.
Remember that alpaca fleece I had processed a few months ago. It was blended with silk and Corridale. I’ve made a bit of a dent in all the roving I got back. Here’s 450 yards of some fingering weight yarn that I finished up on Saturday.

Finally, a new fiber shop opened in the Salt Lake Valley a few weeks ago. I went out last Monday to have a look around and came home with, among other things, some lovely roving, hand-dyed by Judy Jackson, a local fiber artist.

The suspense was killing me so I started spinning it as soon as I finished plying the alpaca blend.

By Sunday night I had this:

And that's all she wrote. Although I'm pretty damn close to finishing a mohair shawl that I haven't had a chance to blog about yet.


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Thursday, October 13, 2005


Yesterday's post about frogging thrift store sweaters generated a couple of interesting questions.

Mary asks: "Why on earth would your rip up that simply beautiful aran sweater? Did it have damage to it?"

Actually, it was in pristine condition; looked like it had never worn. But, the title of my post was "Highest and Best Use" and I bet you a million bucks that no one was going to purchase this sweater and properly care for it. Plus, it's a royal pain in the arse to frog a wool sweater that's been washed. The wool felts ever so slightly, making it much more difficult to unravel. The yarn I reclaimed is already on DD's needles. She and her friend are making hats for the homeless shelter. So I felt that destroying the sweater was justified; plus it's just so dang fun.

Teri asks: "What in the Sam Hill is that wooden object that looks like a capital I in the first picture?"

It's a Niddy Noddy. Very useful for winding the yarn into hanks and, of course, measuring how many yards you have. After I separated the sweater into four pieces (i.e., 2 sleeves, front, and back), I unwound the sweater by using my ball winder. Takes about 5 minutes, Cassie. Then I used the Niddy Noddy to wind the yarn into hanks so I could wash it and dye it.

Krista asks: "How do you pick sweaters to frog? I can never tell if they will rip out in one single strand or a million 18 inch strands. Please do tell!!"

If you see a sweater commercially made from some lovely yarn, turn it inside out and examine the seams. You should be able to immediately tell whether they were knit separately and then pieced together or whether they were cut and then sewn. If you can see lots of yarn ends and a serged seam, it’s been cut and sewn. If the edges are smooth, you’re in business. The second sweater I frogged (the one in the photo) was actually a hybrid. The seams around the armholes had been cut and sewn, but all the other seams were fine. So I simply took some scissors and cut the sleeves off at the underarm, then cut the front and back of the sweater off at the underarm seam. Yes, I had to throw away quite a bit, but I was able to reclaim almost all of the yarn from the sleeves and everything from the middle of the chest to the lower edge of the body.


I made some banana bread last night and thought I'd share the recipe, which has evolved at my house over time. Here's the disclaimer though; this bread has very little fat (well, if you don't add the nuts or the chocolate chips) so it's kinda dry. I highly recommend slicing it very thinly and having a glass of milk or a cup of coffee within arm's length.

Mix the following dry ingredients and set aside:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix the following wet ingredients:
2 large eggs, slighly beaten
1 tablespoon canola oil (optional)
3 medium, very ripe bananas, mashed

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined. Add 1/2 cup nuts and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (both are optional).
Pour the batter into a greased and floured loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes. You should check yours after 40-45 minutes, though, because I live at a very high altitude and it takes longer for things to cook.

Breakfast's ready:

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Highest and Best Use

Monday was a holiday and I resisted the urge to go into the office to clean up some loose ends. Instead, I decided to frog a few thrift store sweaters and reclaim some lovely wool. The first victim was a fabulous aran sweater made in Ireland from some wonderful ecru wool. Half an hour into the project, this is all that remained:

I then rummaged through some kitchen drawers and wrangled up some Kool Aid. It was a beautiful day so everything dried rather quickly:

The skein on the left was dyed with Blue Moon Berry and the one on the right with Black Cherry. By the end of the day, I had all of this:

It's hard to tell from the photo, but those are some seriously large hanks of yarn. The green was dyed with 4 packets of Arctic Apple Ice and 2 packets of Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade.

Next victim:

Socktoberfest Fête

I joined Lolly's Socktoberfest yesterday.

My non-lofty goal for October is to finish my second Spey Valley sock. I think even I can manage that.

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Frolic and Detour

I had to make a quick trip out of town last Thursday, so I didn’t have a chance to photograph my progress on my WIP from last week. It’s not finished, but I’m just about at the half-way point. I don’t have a WIP this week because I started it at the airport on Thursday and finished it on the plane ride home, so I guess I’ll reveal both in a day or so.

My trip was short and I was able to re-shuffle some Saturday obligations so I could meet up with the SLC Stitch ‘n Bitch grrls on Saturday afternoon. First stop: lunch at the Avenues Bakery:

Starting on the left and working clockwise there’s Michaele, Margene, Teri, Miriam, and Laurie.

After lunch we headed over to our LYS, Black Sheep Yarn Co. for a book signing starring Nancy Bush, author of the new sock book, Knitting Vintage Socks. My group photo turned out horrific so here's one of just Nancy and Margene.

There was a wonderful turnout at the shop and Nancy was still busily autographing copies of the book when I left.

Has anyone started any of the patterns in the book yet??

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Thursday, October 06, 2005

Almost Slipped My Mind

Remember my Hyrna Herborgar shawl? Well, it’s been finished and blocked for quite some time now; but I’ve never gotten around to posting photos.

After reading all your wonderful comments and suggestions, I decided to work the crochet edging, but I asked the woman who blocked it to not stretch the loops too much. So, here it is. The first photo is me striking a Claudia pose:

The second is of Margene trying it out:

Pattern: Hyrna Herborgar shawl from the book Three-Cornered and Long Shawls (Þríhyrnur og Langsjöl) by Sigrídur Halldórsdóttir
Yarn: Misti Alpaca laceweight (slightly more than one skein)
Time to Knit: approximately 1 week

This is a wonderful, clever pattern that is much easier to knit than it looks. Once each stitch pattern is set up, you can immediately recognize any mistakes before you’ve knit to the point of no return. I made two modifications to the pattern:

1. I worked the crochet edging with a smaller hook than the pattern called for and worked 10 chain stitches instead of 8.
2. I fudged a couple of decreases in the second-to-last row.

I recommend the first modification, but not the second.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

For Jane

This photo is for Jane's contest:

To enter you have to post a photo of your handknit socks. These are nearly all of the ones still in my possession (minus the ones in the dirty wash). That Mountain Colors Flathead Cherry yarn is looking mighty yummy to me, Jane!


Here are 4 more, Jane:

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Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Sad, But True

A genuine, untouched photo taken from my driveway at approximately 4:00 p.m. (Mountain Time) on Tuesday, October 4, 2005

And, no, those are not just clouds at the top of that mountain. That is real, honest-to-goodness snow that has fallen and accumulated at waaaaaayyyy less than the 6,000 feet predicted last night.


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Sunday, October 02, 2005

WIP of the Week

This week's WIP is this lovely, fluffy number:

I bet someone will recognize this since the pattern is from a widely distributed book. Do you know what it is?

And, here's a photo of what is probably the last flower from my garden this year.

Although I love fall, I'm not quite ready for the cold weather. *sigh*

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Running commentary on my unending quest to knit up my stash.