Wednesday, September 28, 2005

SGP: All Is Revealed

So the Secret Gift Project that I've been showing you dribs and drabs of for the past couple of months? Now that my dad has officially opened the box, here's the whole thing:

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Surprise! It's a cabled vest! I'm going to do the final project wrapup here, although, now that my dad has tried it on and proclaimed it "just a little bit too short" it's not quite finalized. Sigh.

Pattern: Donegal Tweed Vest, by Kathy Zimmerman, from Spring '05 Interweave Knits.
Yarn: Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed in Granary (brown with multicolored tweedy flecks)
Needles: Size 6 Addis for body, size 5 Addis for bottom, neck, and armhole ribbing.
Alterations: None so far, but I'll be ripping back to the armholes and adding in 2 inches to the torso.
Recipient: My dad, on the occasion of his 65th birthday.
Notes: I love, love, love the fabric that this yarn produced. I didn't love the yarn itself so much, and in fact it felt kind of acrylic-y and not so soft when I started working with it, but after spending some quality time with Eucalan, the vest itself is super, super soft (as befits the yarn's silk and cashmere content) and kind of felty (which I'm hoping won't impede the ripping back). I'm really (sniff) happy, in fact, that this yarn is discontinured because otherwise I would be compelled to buy thousands of dollars' worth. Stitch markers made all the difference on this project--I made a few stupid pattern mistakes at first but once I figured out that I should use markers between every pattern repeat it was totally intuitive and easy. I could see adapting the cable pattern here to a cardigan in the future...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Slobbery Kisses

That is what Bailey sends to all of you to thank you for all the virtual love. She is doing fine now, and putting some weight on the paw (more than I'd like her to actually; I'm not sure she knows her own limits). We had a followup visit at the vet yesterday, during which she was rebandaged in stylish pink, and she has learned to put the padded club that is her right paw to excellent use as a rawhide holder:

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Because if you're Bailey, it's all about how best to cram your face full of the cured skin of a cow.

In knitting news, I am about 28 rows into the first hood chart of Rogue, and I think it's looking pretty good:

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The body absolutely flew compared to the hood though, so I think I'm going to knit the sleeves in the round. I've decided I'm not a slow knitter, I'm a slow purler. Why is that? It's basically the same motion. Maybe I should learn continental. Anyhoo, I don't have an immediate deadline for this Rogue, but I'd like to get it finished as quickly as possible so that I can start mine! (Or some other sweater for me.) Because people? It's fall.

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Mmmmmmm. Fall.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

A Bad Day for Bailey

We had quite an adventure yesterday, the little one and I--we were going for our usual morning walk on a wooded path where she is allowed to be off leash. It's about a mile around, there's a pond with ducks in the middle, and the woods are full of squirrels and chipmunks; it's really everything that a dog could want. But as we found out yesterday, it's also full of sharp things: about a quarter of a mile in, Bailey jumped over a log and landed on something that severed an artery in her paw. Let me tell you--carrying a 55-pound, frightened, squirming dog who is spurting blood for a quarter of a mile is not something I wish on anyone. I had ripped some strips of cloth off my t-shirt and tried to tie up her paw, but it wasn't making the least difference, and by the time we got back to the road, I was soaked in blood and actually starting to worry that she was going to bleed to death, since there was still half a mile back to my car, plus going home and finding an emergency vet, plus getting to the vet. Luckily, a man pulled over and gave me a ride back to the car, and then not only knew where an emergency vet was, but offered to have me follow him there, called ahead so that they knew I was coming, and then waited with me in the office until we knew that she was going to be ok--restored my faith in humanity, especially because I must have looked like an insane, possibly murderous person coming out of the woods, given the amount of blood that was on me.

The upshot, after $500 and five hours at the vet, is that she will be fine: she had to be anesthetized so they could go in and suture the artery, but the sutures worked, and although she lost a good bit of blood--seriously, when I carried her in, the vet tech took one look at me and went straight to the back and came out with a pair of scrubs and some rubbing alcohol and made me go to the bathroom and take my clothes off and clean all the blood off and wear the scrubs instead--she seems to be bouncing back. But yesterday she was so groggy from the anesthesia and the morphine they gave her that she lay like this

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for five straight hours, just staring at nothing and crying. It worried me. So of course I channeled my anxiety into knitting, and finally finished Cozy, all, er, 9 feet of it. I might have gone a little overboard:

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I was going to do a modeled shot, but I was too lazy to shower, and my hair is sticking up in all kinds of weird places. Plus, I put it around my neck and got really hot, and had to take it off right away. I think this is going to be a winter scarf, not a fall one, or else it is going to take up residence in the coldest place on earth, also known as my office.

Final Project Details
Pattern: Cozy, by Danielle Schoonover, published at
Size: width 18 inches; length about 9 feet.
Alterations: 7 repeats rather than 14
Yarn: Misti Chunky Baby Alpaca, Shade 707, purchased at Threadbear Fiber Arts, 4.5 skeins
Needles: Size 15 bamboo circs
Recipient: Me!
Notes: I like the lace pattern, and would definitely make it again, but if I were using the same yarn, I would use size 13s rather than 15s and go wider and shorter--more of a stole than a scarf. I would also like to try it in a finer yarn, as in the original pattern.

Friday, September 23, 2005

This also just in: Treats from my pal!

While I was still basking in the excitement of my new socks and assorted treats yesterday, the dorbell rang again--and it was so thundery that Bailey did not even crawl out from under the bed to confront her perpeual nemesis, UPS Man. Lucky thing too, because then he might have taken away my package, which contained even more treats--this time from my secret pal:

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There's a fun Halloween bag, which I will be using to hand out the candy next month (and by "hand out" I mean "buy lots and eat it all myself"), hand lotion, lip balm and a candle in Warm Vanilla Sugar, one of my favorite smells, and some gorgeous fall sock yarn. See how fall-appropriate it is?

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I'm thinking this might be just the thing for some dad socks. Hmm.

Thanks pal! You made my day twice over!

A final note, to be filed under "Things That Are Annoying About Moving": I have no matches. I know I had matches at my old house in Austin, but now I have none. Where did they go? And how am I supposed to light candles? Dammit.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

This Just In: Socks!

A super-soggy, super-crappy first day of fall:

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What could make it better? Why, socks, of course!

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My sock pal turned out to be Beth, and she sent some incredibly pretty and comfy socks. Thay are made of Cascade Fixation, which I am a fan of, and they have a lovely lacy pattern:

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And as if such awesome socks were not a sufficient treat, Beth also included lots of little gifties with them:

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The Harlot's second bookbookbook, fun sticky stars to use on student papers (well, she didn't say they were for that, but I might just do it to be funny), a pretty blue pouch, perfect for knitting accoutrements, and best of all, sone extremely useful miniature things:

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A tiny calculator, perfect for those of us who cannot do the maths, a super-handy retractable tape measure, and a little pair of safety scissors, all of which were immediately transferred to my knitting bag after the photo shoot.

In short, Beth ROCKS, and also, she is redesigning the Union Square Pullover to get rid of the one feature I didn't like in that pattern, i.e. the weird flap on the neck. So not only is she a great sock pal, she is a woman of excellent taste.

Also rockin' and tasteful is , of course, Alison, who organized the whole shebang. Thanks Alison! I'm ready for Round 3!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Skill Set: Experienced, with Advanced Cables

I've been slogging through loads of work this week, and spent all of yesterday at a football game (since I am now just two hours away from the dear alma mater), but I have still been finding time here and there to get a start on my newest gift project. Is it starting to look familiar?

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All I have to say about it so far is that I feel like a complete ass for not knitting one sooner. A, it's so much fun to knit, what with seeing what the cables will do next; B, the pattern is so clearly written; and C, with Shedir and the Pretzel Cable Socks under my belt, I can actually read the charts, rather than having to look up each symbol as I come across it. Hey--I am experienced with advanced cables! I'll be knitting myself one as well, I think--I have some Aurora 8 stashed away that would make a delightful version.

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Bailey says: "Compulsively lick your lovely sheepy knitting, with delicious lanolin and interesting bits of nature in it? I wouldn't dream of it."

Bailey is a liar.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


First, now that I know that my Secret Pal 5 Pal got her final package, I can say that it was knitting dentist Aimee. And I owe a huge thanks to Melissa, who sent me such lovely gifties, and who, randomly, is also a Massachusetts girl like me! Thanks Melissa!

Update: As of this morning, my secret sock pal has also recieved her socks--very impressive, USPS, less than a week to get to.....Norway! My pal was Helene, and you should really go look at her blog--she is an amazing knitter (I was so intimidated at the thought of knitting for her!), and does traditional Viking crafts as well! (Plus she blogs in English as well as Norwegian.)

And, with apologies to my new Secret Pal 6 Pal for not posting it sooner, here's an updated version of the SP questionnaire:

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer higher quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand? Or is it all the same to you?
I am indeed a bit of a snob. Not, like, a total snobby-snob-only-use-rowan brand-snob (Knitpicks? Elann? Bring it on!), but an all-natural-fibers snob (for the most part—see my recent love affair with the 25% acrylic Calmer). For sock yarns I don’t mind a little unnatural mixed in, for stretch & strength.

2. Do you spin? Crochet?

3. Do you have any allergies? (smoke, pets, fibers, perfume, etc.)
Smoke makes me sneezy and cranky, heavy perfumes make me headachy.

4. How long have you been knitting?
Since 2002

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Yep—one at Amazon and one at (both lists are general wishes, not secret-pal oriented necessarily).

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)
I love the Warm Vanilla Sugar line at Bath & Bodyworks, and anything citrus-scented, esp. grapefruit, is yummy.

7. Do you have a sweet tooth?
Does this question even need to be asked?

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?
I am trying to kick my sewing into gear—but beyond that, I try not to develop more hobbies because I barely have enough time for this one!

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
Yes, my computer can play mp3s. I don’t know how to reliably describe my musical tastes generically—pop, but not top-40 radio pop. Post-White Stripes rock & roll-y pop, brit pop, alt country pop. Austin City Limits Festival pop. That sort of thing. Lately, The Shins, Franz Ferdinand, Beck, Belle & Sebastian, the Decemberists, The Postal Service. (Apparently if it’s on one of the O.C. compilations, I’ll like it. I’m such a moody teenage boy.)

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?
Right now I am absolutely obsessed with fall colors--spiced orange, blackberry, moss greens, deep reds. Yay fall! Not loving yellow, or super-bright colors.

Generally, I tend not to like variegated yarns all that much, except for in small things like socks, and even then, I prefer the colors to be pretty close to each other.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
Just me and the Bay.

12. What are your life dreams? (really stretching it here, I know)
To finish a goddamn sweater for MYSELF!!! (still.) And wear it on a nature cruise to Alaska.

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?
Koigu, Calmer and Debbie Bliss’s Alpaca Silk have been recent favorites. To no one’s surprise, really.

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
Mohair. HATE YOU MOHAIR. And it’s not a fiber so much as a weight, but laceweight and I don’t have a lot of use for each other. Also novelty yarns and I don’t really get along so well. And cotton makes my hands hurt. Man, am I fussy.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?
Socks! And cables.

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Hmm. Socks and Shedir have been my favorite knits of late.

17. What are you knitting right now?
Cozy, from Knitty; the other half of a pair of Broadripples; and a mysterious sweater.

18. What do you think about ponchos?
Over. So sayeth Manolo.

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?
Circs. But it depends on the project a little.

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Depends on the project. Most of my needles are bamboo, but sometimes you want the speed of aluminum. However I hate metal dpns with a deathly hatred.

22. How did you learn to knit?
My mom and my aunt taught me.

23. How old is your oldest UFO?
3.5 years and counting! Hate you To Dye For!

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?
Wombats. And ponies.

25. What is your favorite holiday?
Christmas, hands-down.

26. Is there anything that you collect?
No. And yet my house is so full of crap. Whyyyyy?

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
Interweave Knits.

28. Any books out there you are dying to get your hands on?
They’re on the wishlists.

29. Any patterns you have been coveting, but haven't bought for one reason or another??
Not really...maybe the Almost Argyle socks from KnitPicks?

30. What are your foot measurements, and what kind of socks do you like?
I like all the socks! But I am too lazy to go measure my foot right now...if you really want to knit me a pair of socks let me know and I'll send the measurements!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Done ahead of time!

A full 12 days before the mailing date, no less--I won't even have to send it priority! (I am a notorious late sender of all presents, not just hand-knit ones.) Here's a mysteriously blurry glimpse; the whole thing will make its debut in a couple of weeks.

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That ribbing made my hands cry, by the way. I know I promised to work only on the SGP until it was done, but I had to keep stopping and working on Cozy instead, just so I wouldn't get tendonitis. I'm almost done with Cozy too; I'm in the last ball of yarn, so I should finish that up soon--which means it is time to start something new! So last night I swatched, dutifully:

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From right to left: 8s, 7s, 6s, 5s. Shooting for 4.5 stitches and 6 rows per inch. On the 8s, I got 3.5 stitches and 5 rows per inch. On the 7s 4 stitches, 5 rows. On the 6s, 4 stitches, 6 rows. On the 5s? 4 stitches, 6 rows. WTF? How can I have absolutely no change in stitch gauge, and barely any in row gauge between a 7 and a 5? (Yes yes, that 1 stitch will add up, I know.) HATE YOU GAUGE. I refuse to go down to a 4; I just refuse. What I am going to do is some maths to see if I can knit a smaller size in the bigger gauge. Hopefully that will work out.

What's the project? Wait and see, my pretties, wait and see. As a hint, I will say that the yarn is Bartlett's Rangeley 2-ply in Blackberry (so pretty! scratchy, but pretty), and that I am scared but so excited to start this sweater!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Secret Gift Project, and a Rant

First, thank you all so very much for the nice comments on my sock...although I regret to say that nobody who commented was my pal. Faraway land, in this case, actually means somewhere in continental Europe, so abandon hope all ye Americans, Canadians, and UKers.

With the socks done, I'm now turning my fulltime attention to my SGP, which has a Priority Mail-induced deadline of September 24. Have you forgotten SGP? Here's a glimpse:

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It's coming along pretty well, and I think I can be done before schedule, slow knitting and all. (You want evidence that I am a super-slow knitter? Carolyn is making the same project (with the same yarn even!), and emailed me the other day that it takes her about an hour to complete one of the diamond repeats, which is 12 rows. You know how long it takes me? 2 hours. I.e. twice as long. And that's on Addis, without a cable needle. I sincerely hope, Carolyn, that you are making a smaller size than I am.) But I will have to devote most, if not all, of my knitting time between now and then to it, which means not so much blog fodder. So I may be scarce for a while.

I did stop by my brand new LYS this afternoon to check out their wares. They're a little understocked, I think, and very heavy on the luxury brands, but I grabbed some sportweight merino in the perfect mossy green for Anna's Elfines, and I also got a Lantern Moon tote that I am going to donate to the Give a Little prize pot. You can see it below, with the yarn and a tired Weiner:

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Which brings me to my rant. It is truly inspiring to see how much the knitblog community (which is only a a drop in the blog bucket, which is only a drop in the national bucket) has given to the Red Cross so far. But it also worries me, as it gives credence to one of the big administration talking points right now, which is that we should all be excited and proud at how well the American people are coming together to support each other. Please: don't be fooled by this rhetoric. Look past it and see it for what it is: an attempt to deflect criticism of the administration's (at best) wildly mismanaged or (at worst) deliberately callous response to Katrina. Amanda Marcotte, at Pandagon, has an excellent explication of this attempt at wiggling out of blame.

And, similarly, don't be fooled by the claim that this is "just" a humanitarian crisis. It is a political crisis. It is a crisis that highlights exactly how racist and classist our current administration is, and how much its foreign policy is directly compromising domestic safety (and don't get me STARTED on terrorism et al).

Daily Kos has chronicled numerous instances of officials actually turning away aid. So has Lauren, whose friend Chris has firsthand knowledge of it.

We should all be sick and sad at the devastation wrought by Katrina, but we should be horrified and outraged at BushCo's response to it. If this doesn't make us all activists, I don't know what can.

If you only have knitting blogs on your Bloglines, here are some you should add:

Daily Kos
Talking Points Memo

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Sockapal-2-za: Done and Done.

So let's say you want to block some cabled socks, but you refuse to lay out $30 for plastic sock-blockers, and your closets are devoid of wire hangers. What to do?

Meh. In the end, you just block them like any other damn thing:

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Yes indeed, my Sockapal2za socks are finally done. I ripped out the 2x2 ribbing at the top of sock 2 last night and redid it as 1x1, then decided I had made the ribbing too short and doubled the length, meaning that I also had to undo Sock #1's bindoff and add there as well. Let me tell you all: Lorna's Shepherd Sock on size 0 needles is not something you want to try picking up a whole lot of loose stitches in, because man, is it splitty. All its little plies separate with a vengeance, and it's never quite clear whether you're getting them all back on the needle because the stitches are tee-tiny. Not fun. And yet that is how I spent my Friday night.

Here's the final product, posing with a geranium. They're still slightly damp, but they have the weekend to dry, and then on Tuesday they will be in the mail to a faraway land.

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(I have no idea, by the way, why they look like they have weird striations in them in the photo. Things have not seemed quite right with my iPhoto since the Great Hard Drive Crash of '05.)

Final Project Details:

Name: Pretzel Cable Socks
Pattern: My own, with cable borrowed from Jenna Wilson's Shedir Hat (12 cable repeats)
Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, Periwinkle, 2 skeins (with a good bit left over)
Needles: Size 0 Bamboos
Started: 7/11
Finished 9/2 (Shameful, yes--but I moved in the middle!)
Make it again? Probably, but I would add in some ribbing between the cables to increase elasticity.

Friday, September 02, 2005


Lookee here:

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A finished pair of Sockapal-2-za Socks! Yes, indeedy. All done. No problems here.



Sock 1 sports a lovely 1x1 rib at the top. See how nice it looks?

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And yet, inexplicably, Sock 2 has instead a 2x2 rib.

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Whyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeee? HATE YOU SOCKS.

(Sorry about the dark muddy photos. Turns out having a job does not so much always allow for photographing in natural light. Perhaps you would prefer the scary overexposed flash photos?

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Thought not.)
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