Thursday, June 29, 2006

Another sock

lace sock

Okay, so it's not much of a sock, so far, but I think I like it. It's Sheri's Lace Socks by Sockbug. It probably won't show off the stripes in the Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock Lucky Strike as well, but I like it. I modified the pattern a bit -- I added a repeat to accomodate my fluffy ankles and replaced the ribbing with a stockinette (roll) cuff. I'm slightly worried about the socks staying up, but I'm hoping the lace pattern is stretchy enough to work without ribbing.

I usually knit socks on 5 needles,but I'm doing this on 4, because I've got 6 pattern repeats, so that distributes nicely over the 3 working needles. But it's driving me crazy! My hand expects the needles to be in a square, not a triangle. I may try redistributing the stitches over four needles.

I spent today in a conference, and will be there tomorrow and Saturday morning, too. I took Seraphim, since I'm still in the stockinette section. I think I'll get this part done tomorrow. I think the next section, where the lace begins, is simple enough that I'll be able to do it while listening to speakers. That first lace section just has a few K2tog/yo combinations every few rows. Judicious use of stitch markers should keep me on track!

The weirdest thing happened today at the conference. It's a nursing conference, but I'm on the planning committee, so I know no one there except the other planning committee members. At lunch, I sat down in the only empty chair at a table of 9 strangers. According to the name tags, everyone at the table was from either Tennessee or Texas, but once we started talking, several of us turned out to have Illinois roots. And what's really weird was that the woman on my left and the man on her left both knew of my teeny little central Illinois hometown (population 800)! Both had gone to small colleges nearby, although the guy had transferred to the University of Illinois and -- are you ready?? -- was in college there at the same time I was! ....cue Twilight zone music..... (Although, really, being at the same 35,000 student university at the same time isn't nearly as unusual as them both knowing my hometown.)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

No Socks

shepherd sock lucky stripeThose pretty Lorna's Laces Jaywalkers in the previous post? No more...... I had knit the cuff (1 inch) and about an inch of the pattern, but had developed a ladder between two of my DPNs. I had never had that happen before, so I frogged back to the cuff and started the pattern again. I got maybe an inch again and started having a weird problem with dropped stitches. I decided to again frog back. This time, though, once the frogging began, I just didn't stop! The sock is now a ball of yarn impaled with rosewood needles.

The Jaywalker pattern really showed off the stripes in the yarn, so maybe in a few days I'll start again . But I'm also going to look through Sensational Knitted Socks to see if I find another pattern that appeals to me.

For now, I'm going to work on the Seraphim Shawl, which has been ignored now for weeks.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Socks and a Meme

lucky stripe sock
Ewwwww! Google Analytics says that someone found my site by searching "porn and socks." I'm trying not to think about it.....

Of course, maybe this is what they had in mind -- the cuff of a Jaywalker in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Lucky Stripe. Certainly a sock, and what could be more yarn porn than Lorna's Laces? The colors are really a sort of corally-rose and citrus orange. And I'm make the larger size that Grumperina has posted, since my feet are big and my ankles, at least recently, are on the fluffy side.

Susan tagged me for this meme:
Is there a song that you hear on the radio or from an old CD that immediately carts you off to a summer of your past, either way far away or pretty recent? One where you can hear the first few notes and feel the emotions you felt on the day the memory was happening? Then post an account of the memory along with the song's lyrics.

Like Susan, there's an entire album -- actually, it was a tape -- that does this (so I won't be posting the lyrics!). And like Susan, I was a newlywed, married less than 2 years. In the spring of 1982, my now-ex-husband and I were stationed in Germany, just outside of Nuernberg (don't know how to do the umlaut over the u, so I'll do the ue -- the English spelling "Nuremberg" really annoys me.). We had just bought our first brand-new car, a silver Volvo sedan -- and it had a sunroof! It seems like every evening that summer, we cruised the countryside -- the autobahn and backroads alike -- in the Volvo, sunroof open, and playing the soundtrack to the movie, "Grease." I don't know why we were so fixated on that album, but I do know that when we got divorced, 8 years later, the only things we really argued about was custody of the cats and who got the "Grease" tape. In the end, I got the cats, and he got the tape, but now I think I need to buy myself the CD!

So -- what about you? Is there a song or album that just screams "summer!" for you? I'm going to tag Kim, Amanda (look at her gorgeous new Clapotis!), and Marisa, a.k.a. Imbrium.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

What's in here?

laptop case
(I messed around with the color, in the hope that it would look closer to reality. I guess it does, but it also looks like my living room carpet is blue, which it's not!)

Why, it's a felted laptop sleeve containing my iBook!
laptop case with iBook

Yes, after blocking all weekend on the cake pan, the laptop case is big enough for my iBook. It's exactly as I imagined it -- a close-fitting sleeve to give a little extra protection to my computer when I'm carrying it around in some sort case. The store-bought sleeve that I have for it goes a little overboard on the padding! However, now that it's all done, I do wish it was long enough for me to cut a slit for a handle, as it's shown in the pictures. I probably wouldn't ever carry it that way, but it might make airport security maneuvers with it a little easier.

Despite that, I'm very please with it! For now, I'm leaving the 'fringe' around the open edge, although it's dreadfully uneven. If i get tired of it, I can always trim it off!

I've been rather remiss in posting the specs of FOs lately, so here ya go....
Pattern: Laptop Case (smallest size) from Alterknits, reprinted in the Fall 2005 Interweave Knits
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Worsted (85% wool, 15% mohair) in Lotus Pink, RPM Pink, and Violet (less than one skein each, although it was close with the Lotus Pink, which I used as Color A)
Needles: US 10 Denise Circulars, which gave me a gauge of 13 stiches and 19 rows/4 inches
  • The patterns says it will take two skeins of each color, but for the smallest size I only needed one each.
  • My slightly looser gauge meant that I got the desired length before I finished all the color repeats.
  • The Lamb's Pride felts fast! I wish I had taken it out around 15-16 minutes, rather than 18 or 19.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Felt Up

So last night I seamed up my felted laptop bag and sort of wove in the ends. This evening I threw it into the washer. It seems odd, but I've never felted (don't bring up that felted bag I've been working on for the last year!). I thought it would take longer -- the bag spent about 18 minutes in the washer and it was done! In fact, it probably should have come out a couple minutes sooner. I was worried about it not shrinking enough, since the finished size was supposed to be a couple inches wider than I wanted it to be. In fact, it shrunk more.

felted panSo here it is, stretched over a Nordic Ware 9x13 pan, which will hopefully stretch it out just a little more. The picture doesn't do it justice - the colors blend very nicely. And yes, it's pretty fuzzy -- the mohair in the Lamb's Pride really shows up. That stuff along the open edge are unwoven ends, so I'll need to trim a little -- or call it fringe!

Speaking of Nordic Ware, have you seen these? Mine is the red one with the heart on the front. I'd like to get the brownie pan, too, with the farm scene. What's really cool is that, not only is the top engraved, the bottom of the pan is engraved with your name, too, so no one at work can take it home, thinking it's theirs.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Minor Stash Enhancement

goodiesTwo packages were waiting for me when I got home this evening, delivering these goodies!

From Greenwood Fiberworks, there was a skein of cotton/lycra sock yarn in a color called Shocking Lipstick. I love this color - it's somewhere between bright coral and red. It reminds me of a 1950s lipstick color. And with the sock yarn -- for free! -- was a sock pattern! How cool is that?

The other package was from Amazon, and included a copy of Montse Stanley's Knitter's Handbook. I've read lots about how comprehensive this book is, and a quick glance through certainly verifies that. Along with Montse was a copy of Kris Kristofferson's All-time Greatest Hits (which somehow didn't make it into the picture), just because I read about how Kris was turning 70 (!!!!) this month. That made me check my iPod, then my CD collection, only to discover I own nothing by him. I know a lot of people don't like greatest hits compilations, but this included every song I wanted: Me and Bobby McGee, Sunday Morning Coming Down, Loving Her was Easier, Help Me Make It through the Night, and more. Yes, he wrote all of those songs, and was a Rhodes Scholar to boot. Not to mention, he's still not bad looking! About 12 or 13 years ago, I saw him perform at Willie Nelson's 4th of July celebration in Luckenbach. It was hotter than hell (literally) but he and Willie were amazing to watch!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Opinion Piece

Yes, two posts in way less than 24 hours, but I need to rant.....

Eunny is one of my favorite bloggers. She's an absolutely amazing knitter who designs gorgeous pieces which tend to be very different. And by "different," I don't mean like that shawl in WrapStyle that has fringe hanging off unusual places. Eunny's designs are classic and gorgeous, beautifully designed. And you have to admire her sense of steeking adventure!

But she's also 23 years old. I think of she was 43, what's happening to her now might not be happening. She's taking flak from some readers who consider her a snob for having a different sense of style. Most of these readers seem to be young -- age does tend to have the advantage of making you understand that you aren't the center of the universe. Nevertheless, this sort of reaction seems to be the norm now.

I'm going to be 50 in less than 2 months. Sometimes, I can't believe the way the world is. What happened to free speech and saying what you believed - and having the rest of the community accept the fact that your opinion may be diffferent? The Internet has made this so much easier to do, but at the same time, it is so much less accepted. This was made absolutely clear during the 2004 election, when those of us who didn't support the current president were branded traitors and when those of us who didn't agree with him (and sign a document stating our agreement) weren't even allowed to hear him speak in person.

When I was younger, I thought the world would be changed when I 'grew up.' Vietnam was over by the time I got to college, but I thought the protests and activism had proven that we could all speak our minds and had a right to an opinion. But that didn't happen -- not only are we not supposed to speak our minds on politics, there are people who don't want us to speak our minds on knitting and other things that are, in the broad scheme, trivial.

I tend not to read the blogs of people I don't agree with and I certainly don't comment on them -- frankly, I've got more to worry about than the fact that some strangers hold opnions that don't agree with mine. But I guess there are lots of people out there who seek out the blogs of those they don't agree with, in order to insult them. Why does there seem to be this huge contingent that doesn't understand that holding different opinions is not a bad thing? That the entire world does not have to, and will never, agree with them? I don't get it.

More than anything else, it's the manner these opinions are given, as if theirs is the only one that matters and that you are either stupid or evil to not agree with them. I guess that's the heart of the problem here - lack of tolerance, rudeness, the 'only me' attitude. They must have missed the day sharing was taught in kindergarten.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Knitting News

laptop progressYes, I have been knitting. I really want to get back to Seraphim, but for now, how about this? It's progress on the Laptop Case from the Fall 2005 IK (as well as from AlterKnits). It's in three colors of Lamb's Pride Worsted -- Lotus Pink, RPM Pink, and Violet. Eventually, it will be 44 inches long - right now it's at 26 inches. Once its done, it's sewn into an 18x22 inch bag, then felted. I think it will be my project this weekend. I'm not really going to have much knitting time, though, so it won't get finished.

emily cotton.JPG I want to get back to Seraphim, but I'm also trying to decide what to do with this: 400 yards of Schaefer Yarns Laurel (100% mercerized pima cotton) in the Emily Dickinson colorway. It's 8 ounces, and the gauge is listed as "4 - 4.5 st/in," with no clue as to needle size. I'm thinking about Backyard Leaves from ScarfStyle. I think the colors would be nice - they remind me of flowers and leaves. Or maybe Ruffles? I can't decide how that pattern would do in cotton. I guess I need to swatch.

Any other ideas?

Oh - and if you haven't wished Susan a Happy Birthday, you still have a couple hours (in central time, at least!).

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Yummy Goodness

In this case, real yummy goodness, no yarn involved, because the laptop sleeve is just a huge piece of pink and purple stockinette and the other thing I'm working on is a secret. Seraphim is currently on vacation while I finish up the other two projects.

My favorite early-summer dessert is this Apricot Cherry Tart. Martha calls it Apricot Cherry Bake, but I think that's awfully boring for something so yummy. This only has a top crust, so I guess technically it's not a tart, but still.... Both of the recipes below are based on recipes in the June 2003 issue of Martha Stewart Living.

Here's my version -- you can vary the amount of fruit, depending on what you've got and what you like. My version uses more cherries than Martha calls for. (And, by the way, one of these makes cherries a lot less trouble.) If you use much more (or less) fruit, you will, of course, need more (or less) flour and sugar.

2 1/2 to 3 pounds small ripe apricots (about 16-18), sliced into sixths
3/4 pound cherries, pitted (about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)
1/2 cup flour
1 cup sugar

Pie crust dough for a single crust pie (see below)
4 teaspoons sugar

Butter a 2 1/2 quart baking dish and set aside (again - vary this depending on how much fruit you're using. The fruit should fill the dish about 2/3 full.)

In a large bowl, toss the fruit with the flour and 1 cup sugar. Place in prepared baking dish.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out crust into a 12-inch round (so says Martha -- it doesn't need to be round). Cut into pieces about 3 inches square. Place over fruit mixture in a patchwork pattern. Refrigerate about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly brush dough with water and sprinkle with remaining 4 teaspoons sugar. Bake until crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, 50-60 minutes. Best served at room temperature.

Pâte Brisée (Sweet Pie Crust)
Makes enough for 1 9” single-crust pie

1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water

Place flour, salt, and sugar in food processor; pulse a few times to combine. Add butter; process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds.

With machine running, add ice water a tablespoon at a time through the feed tube, just until dough holds together.

Turn out dough flatten to form a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour or overnight.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Random Sunday

Any day can be random, right? Knitting has been done, but it's not worth showing. The laptop sleeve is one giant, brightly-striped flat thing, the gift can't be shown, and I'm ignoring Seraphim while I try to get the other two finished.

  • I keep forgetting to tell you about a funny knitting-related encounter at the conference last week. I was working on the leg portion of the second sock, so all I had was a multi-colored tube. The acquaintance on my left apparently gave a look to the friend on my right, who said, "It's a sock!" The woman on my left said, "OH! A sock!! You know how my mind works...." Hmmm.... well, I didn't realize that woolen items were ever worn on the appendage she had in mind (this not withstanding) but I guess if they were, the sock would be fairly impressive, if you know what I mean.
  • I still have not seen anyone in the kitty tube; however, when I got home Friday, it was in a totally different place in the living room and the purple catnip mouse I had placed in it was gone, so something's going on.
  • Did I mention that I got the insurance money for the storm damage? Now I just need to find someone who can dispose of a dented-up metal shed for me..... I'm not replacing the shed, but instead am going to use the money to do something about the state of the back yard, which was pretty sad before but is even worse now (a shed lying in random places in the yard doesn't help the lawn's health). My brother's going to help me (or, more accurately, I'll help my brother) build a new patio cover next time he visits. That was going to be around August 1, but he's just started a new job, so the visit may be delayed.

Gotta go - I need to replace the flapper in the toilet (or, as we say here in Texas, the commode) in the guest bathroom, then it's off to Sunday afternoon knitting group....