Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Time for a new obsession?

Yes, Dorothy. Let's be friends again!

This weaving thing turns out to be quite addictive. Certain family members have already wondered aloud if they've seen the last of the Mom Socks. I should think not! A loom is not exactly a project for on the go.

Monday I prepared the warp threads, setting the loom up: step-by-step. I would like to say I followed all of the steps from the Learning to Weave book exactly. Seriously. That would be expecting a little too much! Mistakes were made that hopefully won't be made the next time.

Yes. There will be a next time. Less than 16 years from now, even! It was NOT picture perfect like in the book. But how relaxing is this?

Tuesday was for actual weaving. This first project may actually get some use as a scarf...Steph wanted to know if it would be done by today. It almost was except I took time out to make an apple pie and then had to register the Jeep and go to town to pay the insurance.

I finished 5 pair of socks for Socktoberfest:
3 pair in a basic pattern, 1 with the Dublin Bay lace sides and one using the Picot tutorial. Ran out of purple Jelly Beenz so the toes are watermelon. Tried the Socktoberfest tutorial for weaving in ends while joining.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Truth. And owning it.

Meet Dorothy.
Right up front: NO WAY am I likely to come out looking good, once this tale is written down for all to read. For the record, I fully recognize this and am willing to admit once more, my character flaws. Compulsive. Obsessive. Flighty?
(Moves on to new obsessions with wild abandon.)

Stephani asked me about Dorothy's history the other day. Making me put into words for the first time how Dorothy came to be with me. It's kind of sad that she's just been here for nearly all of my daughters' lives. That they were probably too young to remember her arrival; too young and for so long ago that she's just THAT THING IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM NOBODY USES.

Long ago. (Whispering.) December 1990 and my name are written in the front of a book that came with Dorothy.

My husband gave her to me as a secret Christmas present. He enlisted his mom's help ordering her. Audrey lived on Cape Cod with her friend Jean. Purchased in Massachusetts, they had it shipped to his dad's house in Dixmont, Maine. For hiding purposes. It was such a shock to get it. I had been saying how much I would like a loom for a while; but one those wistful dreams of someday. Maybe. Maybe someday.

And then there she was. My most expensive present ever. Tom and I had always given each other gifts we picked out together in those early days. Like cross-country ski packages for each other. A waterbed one year. Bathrobes the year things were tight. Down payment on our house.
You know - useful things to be shared because we are happy to be married; happily together since December 1980. So how did my special gift end up in storage? Hardly used.

I went to the library and read up all I could about weaving on a tabletop loom and the first project didn't go so bad. Except it went on FOREVER. It's still in a " just removed from the loom" state, as I had no idea what to do with a really, really long table runner. With fringe. Placemats. Or one half of a door curtain if I did the whole thing again. NO!

The second attempt went terrible. Threads were cut from the loom and thrown away as a bad idea. Come to think of it, kind of like knitting now: I have no idea about choosing proper fibers. Clueless even. Ha! (Actual name of the quilting group I belong to ;)

Over time I seemed to have just moved on to other things. Things that came easier to me. Things I could teach myself; things that didn't go so dreadfully wrong.

Embroidery, handquilting, machine quilting, applique, cross-stitch, hardanger, plastic canvas, stamp collecting, knitting, getting african violets to live, a little painting & drawing; some photography & scrapbooking. Fabric Postcards!

All things I could read up on. Teach myself. LOVE. Do pretty darn well even as a bit of a perfectionist.

And then move on. Again.
Something new. Challenging. Different.

I had a teacher in high school who taught us by example never to be afraid to try something new. He said he had needed a painting for behind his couch as a young married man. So he taught himself to oil paint. I can still remember the beauty of the paintings he brought to class to show us. He said he painted for as long as he wanted. Until his house was filled with paintings. And then he moved on to other interests. New interests he was willing to try. (He also bragged about drinking champaign from a lady's slipper.)

He was about 80 if he was a day and goofy as hell! Taught "modern history" but we started with ancient wars with AC/ BC dates and never got past the beginning of Vietnam. I'm not sure what we thought modern was in 1977? I remember thinking it was not this.

Fast Forward:
I joined a Yahoo group for weavers a few weeks ago. Finally made first contact last week. A lady a few miles up the road has offered to help me give Dorothy another try. And the name of her local Guild.

As soon as I dust Dorothy off and read up a bit more, I'll get started once again. I've been thinking about it for a while now. Ever since I read a blog written by a crazy chick with a god damn hammer. Brave enough to try building something to weave on.

One more character flaw perhaps: Optimistic. Here's hoping the socks in my knitting bucket don't become UFO's. Maybe I'll end up weaving some very colorful Kool-Aid dyed wool one day?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Unintended Consequences

Kool-Aid + Yarn = Moments of Chaos
(How I spent Sunday morning!)

An old skein of white wool has lingered a while now in my stash basket - a freebie that I wasn't sure what to do with. I've had it in my head I wanted to try the Kool-Aid/Dyeing thing with the 3 probably very old packets of Kool-aid found in a kitchen drawer.

Online instructions for dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid were consulted. Probably should have read up on the process a little longer before deciding today was the day I would give it a try.

It was not without its moments. The line from Armageddon about a "god dam Greek tragedy" leapt to mind when the hank of soggy vinegar & warm water soaked yarn fell from its bonds. Into a tangled mess of knots that could easily have prompted the decision to deposit the entire slightly stinky (vinegar) mess into the trash bin. But not I. Onward.

Um. GLOVES next time for sure! Thank goodness for Comet, a nail scrubber & yesterday's sink full of dirty dishes or my hands would still be this Strawberry/Orange/Tropical Punch combo.

Also: Finished Socktoberfest Socks - pair 3.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Selfish. Compulsive Obsessive.

Jelli Beenz 40% OFF
Shut up. I couldn't resist!

It's so purty. I cast-on for these after lunch yesterday and I've already finished one sock and the second one is at the start of the heel flap. Funny how it's just MY size.

I'm experimenting with needle size - went up to size 3 needles with 20 less stitches, using the lacey stitch idea from the Dublin Bay pattern. 72 stitches are just way too many, even on size 1's with any of the yarn I have on hand.

I'm starting to realize needle size as it relates to gauge is important when it comes to the feel of the knitting. Couldn't see why a skein of yarn that feels perfectly soft, comes out stiff as a board when I knit it.
Okay, so it's too tight because of the way I knit and/or on too small a needle.
It's that gauge thing, isn't?

Finished the socks from yesterday by snipping the tip of the short sock off with scissors and unraveling back before the decrease and adding 10 rows to the length. Done!

Decided to reward myself with a visit to our OYS (Only Yarn Shop) and buy a little real sock yarn. Except their inventory was low and (non-striping) sock yarn was out of stock.
5 skeins of Plymouth brand Jelli Beenz followed me home to celebrate Socktoberfest.

I'm experimenting with sock size (TOOK A WILD GUESS) since no colors had more than 2 skeins left. I might have had enough yarn to do another repeat or 2 in the lace pattern of the leg but I came pretty close to using all of a skein for sock 1.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Socktoberfest - Week 3

F is for FRAK?

WHY is SECOND SOCK 10 rows longer than FIRST SOCK before the decrease?

Either: I'm an idiot, can't count or can't remember what I just counted for the first sock length.

Or all of the above. I'm blaming this on the fact that I knit all of the first sock, before casting on for the second. It's only the 2nd time EVER that I didn't knit both along at the same time. I thought I wrote down the number of rows to knit before the decrease, but when I discovered I didn't: I thought I remembered. NOT.

My UNfinished mismatched lace socks from Barbara Walker's stitch book 2 are each 9 repeats long. UGH! Undecided whether or not to keep going so I took a break and cast on this basic sock pattern. Decided to try out this MARBLE James C. Brett acrylic from stash - acquired before I realized . . . well . . . acrylic kind of sucks.

It's a twisted ply (almost looks braided) and I wanted to see how it knit up. Used size 2 needles with 52 stitches. Ankles seem a little baggy but I may be knitting the heel flap too long. Not sure if my sense of proportion is there yet when it comes to fit. These feel thick & stiff; might work okay as slipper socks or winter Croc socks but will never fit into regular shoes.

Now I need to decide whether or not to rip the (finished) short one since it feels too short or knit 2 more just like these. Will probably go with RIP: Rip In Peace.

F's are finished for the Kindergarten Letter Friends project, by the way.
41 X 26 = 1086.
23 letters of the alphabet left.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Socktoberfest progress

Pair 2 underway

It doesn't appear as if they'll match at all. The second one is taking on a variegated/stripe look.


I think it's called pooling when the colors swish around the sock in waves? I actually like that and was hoping for the second one to do it as well.

I grabbed up the unread weekend funnies to use as background to cut down on glare from the kitchen table. The Doonesbury cartoon tells of a new feature on their website - space offered to the Troops to voice what they think. Click on the Sandbox. Checked it out to see if it was real.

Libby's on the label, label, label?

Look under the lid, lid, lid!

Remember when the Libby's jingle went, "If [When] it says Libby's, Libby's, Libby's on the label, label, label - you will like it, like it, like it on the table, table, table."?

This critter, found attached to the inside of the lid was worth 2 free cans - so I'll keep looking for their Caterpillars in a Can, I guess?

Perhaps the level of sarcasm in my note, filled out on their "Contact us" form of the Seneca Foods website failed to convey a high enough level of customer concern.

The letter they sent along with 2 free can coupons called this their "goodwill" gesture.

Wasn't going to blog about it because now Steph will never eat peas again. But I couldn't help myself.

My "goodwill" gesture to them in this age of the blog: Sharing the news of their Goodwill with anyone who stops by. Free Advertising is priceless, no?

RE/ Possible FAQ's not listed:

"Is the 2 inch caterpillar like worm
stuck to the top of Chicharos Sweet
Peas considered a source of fiber?"

"Does the 2 inch caterpillar like worm
stuck to the lid of Chicharos Sweet Peas
count towards the daily calorie intake?"

"Besides the gross out factor,
is my child's health in any danger since
her mom didn't see the 2 inch caterpillar
like worm stuck to the top of
Chicharos Sweet Peas until after the fact?"

You know. Because I checked with
your FAQ's first before trying
to make contact.

0 37100 04213 5
G5MJ172K 2054 4240 PEAS
As the only PEA EATER of our household, Stephani will be happy to know the following:
Thank you for your e-mail concerning the
problem you encountered with Libby Peas.
We sincerely apologize. I will notify the
packing plant of this problem and a follow
up letter will be sent in approximately
10 days. Once sealed, the can goes through
a thermal process of over 250 degrees for
at least 20 minutes which kills any bacteria.

Seneca Foods
Consumer Affairs
So the caterpillar was heated to 250 degrees after he swam to the top of the can, trying to get out?


They can't figure out how the automatic color sorters, designed to remove anything not similar in color to the product, missed it. Not sure if they thought I was making it up. I can assure them this caterpillar was plump and just as green as the peas within when he was discovered.
It has since withered & dried.

Libby's collectible?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Socktoberfest - Week 1

First pair complete!

Birthday socks for my 6 year old nephew.

Called my brother long distance Monday to request he measure the boy's foot.

These socks would almost fit my 23 year old at 7 1/2" long.

(His army/guard socks - his mom is in the National Guard and 2 months pregnant. :)

Below is a Sock History Questionaire being answered by many of the 1500+ sockfest lovers:

When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? Class?
December 23, 2005 - grabbed up Mom's spare DPN's & dark blue skein of Red Heart yarn (too dark for her to see well enough to knit with anymore) as something to do while waiting for her at her eye doctor's appointment. Her vision is failing and I decided it was time I tried to learn how to make "Grammie Socks" as my kids call them. Mom's tried & true basic sock pattern.

She taught me mittens twenty years ago and I HATED doing the thumbs. Explaining my Blog's name when I took up with socks! Thanks to the internet, I have stretched my knitting needles to more complex sock patterns.
Designing my own now thanks to Barbara Walker books.

What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time?
I actually started 3 pair in between the 3 lessons it took for me to "get" socks. I kept working on the parts I could figure out until my next visit with Mom. By the end of January 2006 I had 3 pair finished. First pair already has a hole in them, that's been darned - but not very well - because I discovered a nailhead sticking up in the old wooden floor of the kitchen.

What would you have done differently?
Nothing really... it's all a learning process. Even discovering Red Heart yarn will not be my first choice in sock yarn has been part of the learning curve. Still struggling to find a balance between quality sock yarn & just too darned expensive. There has to be a happy medium considering how fast I can put a hole in socks!

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?
Still trying out yarn brands. Will not buy Red Heart yarn again for socks, having proved for myself the stuff is like teflon. So far I've knit socks form Bernat, Patons & a skein of Opal (too expensive!) although I did manage 2 pair from one skein. Once washed I can't tell much difference in the Opal & Bernat or Patons - except the cost. I do want to try Real Sock Yarn others talk about. But first I have to use up some of the stuff I stocked up on when a local LYS went out of business.

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?
I hate crocheting; it makes my pinky hurt! DPN's - cuff down; BOTH socks on a set of needles and knit at the same time. I know me too well and second sock syndrome will not be a problem so long as both are zipping along together.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)
Flap is all I know; but I still dread picking up the gusset stitches and never breathe a sigh of relief until it's done.

How many pairs have you made?
About 30, although I've lost count.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Socktoberfest - Day 1

Barbara Walker book 1 socks complete

My first Socktoberfest goal was to complete the socks I've been working on (little-by-little) since the end of July.

Before starting anything else!

Finished socks on September 25th.
(modeled by new owner Stephani)

Patterns from book 1 used:

Lace Diamond Chain (pg. 222), center stitch pattern.
Cloverleaf Eyelet Rib (pg. 170), on either side.

And now let Socktoberfest begin!

3 sock patterns were cast-on and then ripped out before settling on my new design attempt. Either the number of stitches cast-on made the sock too big or the color of yarn was too striped.

(If a yarn label calls it's color "STRIPES" or "SASSY STRIPES" there's a pretty good chance the sock will look stripy. That I hate stripes tends to make me wonder WHAT WAS I THINKING? when I bought it. Half price at a Going-Out-Of-Business-Sale made it seem like a good idea at the time?)

I've chosen the Pierced Diamond Pattern (pg. 269) from Barbara Walker's book 2.

There's a design flaw at the back, where the rounds join.
The pattern is a "Multiple of 6 stitches plus 3" and I'm thinking now the "PLUS 3" should have been left off? It's not a continuous design all the way around the sock.
It sort of looks like, I don't know: Maybe there are 3 knit stitches too many down the back!

I've decided to leave it and call it a design element instead of a mistake.

Also cast-on yesterday are a pair of Army Socks for my nephew, who turns six October 15th.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Yes, another Knit-a-long!

Socktoberfest has begun and I plan to knit socks all month.
Admittedly, I feel something of a fraud, as socks are about the only thing I do knit. This month will not appear to be very much different from the last 10 before it. This blog entry reminds me the exact date of my first sock attempt was December 23, 2005... waiting for mom at her eye doctor's appointment.

I've been looking through my Barbara Walker books 1 & 2, planning to design another pair. ANOTHER PAIR, because YES I finished my almost knee-hi's using book 1! I want to get a picture of Stephani wearing them so the lacey-ness shows. Was afraid they would be too tight and resemble support hose, but she says they feel perfect.

And the 3rd Annual Letter People Project has begun. This year's two Kindergarten classes at the 14th Street School combine for a total of 41 - highest enrollment in years - plus a new teacher to get one as well. Letter M & T have been sent to school; F's are underway. Further proof I may need my head examined.

Tuned in to last week's Sunday Talk shows for just a few minutes. Long enough for "OH.MY.GOD!" to be heard through the closed door 3 times. Shouted loud enough for family members on the other side to question what the problem was. Republican Senator Frist was explaining why our country's idiot president needs to keep us safe by torture. Screw the Geneva Conventions. Screw the right to a trial, a lawyer, that whole innocent until proven otherwise thing.

And now it seems Republican's have been covering for Florida's Representative pervert, who decided he could terrorize our nation's 16 year old Pages sent to Washington to learn up close how the government works. Not well, it seems.

I can't knit nearly fast enough to make this administration go away.