Monday, March 31, 2008

So It's Root, Root, Root for the Mariners . . .

Opening Day at Safeco Field. 50 degrees at gametime. The announcement about the roof being rolled open was great . . . until we felt the raindrops. The roof rolled shut as soon as it was all the way open, and it got very cold--it was snowing for a few innings! But the Mariners won, and it was a pretty good game, and we had a delicious pork sandwich at the Bullpen pub.

Before the roof was closed, I managed to take a quick photo of the sock I cast on while we waited to get in the stadium:

Safeco Field, Opening Day 2008

The ladies below my sock make better doors than windows--they got up maybe five times, mostly for beer. Never between innings or at bats, either. Poor form!

The yarn is Duet Sock Yarn, which was part of Renaissance Yarn's Stitch 'N' Pitch package last year, and I really meant to get this pair going before Spring Training. I brought yarn and needles with me today, and got the first couple of rows done before we got into the park. The pattern is the 56 stitch 56 row sock from Chic Knits. I didn't have much time to knit on the inside of the park, though, what with the lunch in the Bullpen Market, and checking in with our season ticket partners, and walking all around. It's hard for me to knit during a game if I'm in the park, there's usually too much going on and/or too much food around. Today there was a LOT going on, and I was wearing mittens, so I'm still working on the ribbing!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Hey, Ho, Spann den Wagen an

I met up with my friends G_____ and L___ from Germany in Los Angeles this past week after leaving Spring Training, and they brought me the greatest thing ever. I had planned to have some Wollmeise sent to them to carry to me, but the VAT savings pretty much equalled out the shipping cost so I just had it shipped to me. Instead, I requested Kinder Ɯberraschung, and one volume of the Bavarian Twisted Stitch books that was available used on I've been interested in these books for quite some time, I first heard about them after seeing Eunny Jang's Bayerische socks--I loved her swatches as much as the final sock pattern, and did a little googling about this knitting tradition. There wasn't much out there, but these books came up as a good (but elusive) source. Instead of just the single used volume I'd found, G_____ was able to track down the whole set, new:

Bavarian Twisted Stitch Books

I'm so excited about these! They are all auf Deutsch, of course, and my German isn't good enough to get much out of the text, but they basically are stitch dictionaries of Bavarian twisted stitch patterns. Since the patterns are charted and shown in good photos, there isn't all that much to figure out--the tricky part is just following which stitches are moving over or under others, and that's a challenge with any cables. Each book is about 70 pages long, with maybe 100 patterns each, as well as a couple of garment patterns per book. I'm looking forward to trying out a lot of these patterns, and maybe incorporating them into some socks or cuffs or something. They're a little labor intensive, though--I can't quite manage to cable without a needle on tiny cables, even though I've been using this technique exclusively on my Vickie Cardigan sleeve. Here's a swatch that I made this evening:

Sechsfache Streifenkette Swatch

The pattern is called "Sechsfache Streifenkette", which means something like "six strips chain". It's Dale Baby Ull knit on size 0 needles. Or maybe they're size 1--I can't find my needle gauge! I know that I should include a penny or something for perspective, but the swatch is about 1.25 inches high and maybe 1.5 inches wide. I'm not sure whether these patterns can be knit back and forth--I just strung the yarn across the back for the swatch, since I'm only doing this to see how it looks rather than to calculate gauge. I'm looking forward to a lot of entertainment from these books!

A Tiny Little Gift To Me

It's been awhile since I've done a swap (I've been trying to stay deadline free and work on my own projects), but I couldn't resist the Wee Tiny Sock Swap. Sure, I could have spent that time on the Tiny Mittens that have fallen by the wayside lately, but a swap that is completely finished in less than a week is very appealing. I signed up on Wednesday, knit the sock yesterday & this morning, and will mail it on Monday. No muss, no fuss, no rounding up a box of extra crap that my swapee may or may not even want.

Here's the sock:

Tiny sock swap

I used leftover yarn from Disco Stu and my Endpaper Mitts, knit on size 0 needles. The sock is about 3 inches high. Earlier this week I read Grumperina's posts on Helix Stripes, and thought that this was a pretty good project to try it on. I still haven't completely wrapped my mind around how it works, but I don't see the color jogs at all. You can see on the toe where the spiral ends, and you can see on the top where it starts, but otherwise I can't tell where the spirals overlap. Pretty cool!!! I love the glittery effect of the silver thread in the blue yarn.

The most trouble I had with this sock was eliminating the pointy toe. Eventually I just kitchenered it with 8 stitches left, and that worked out pretty well--my two previous attempts were very pointy and I couldn't just pull the point to the inside. I think that it would also have worked to pull the yarn through the last stitches with the sock inside out, but fortunately I didn't have to make a fourth attempt!

Now I just need to package this baby up, and wait for my own sock to arrive! I'm a little sad that I don't have an extra sock blocker keychain to mail it on, but this all happened too fast to get one.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Seriously, Snow on March 26?

I took this video tonight, March 26, after getting home from work:

Maybe another week in Phoenix would have been a good idea . . .

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Walking Out in Confetti and Sunshine

Spring Training 2008

I'm back from AZ and CA, and am trying to get back into the normal routine, both blogging and otherwise. Above are some shots from the trip--fireworks and sock photos from the Texas Rangers stadium, all the rest from Peoria. The M's didn't play that well, and there was a major screw-up with our game tickets (as in the travel agent "lost" them, but all of her seats were occupied), but being out at the park felt really good. Only one more week until Opening Day!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Clackin' That Bat, Gone With the Wind


Greetings from Peoria, AZ! This photo is from the our first Spring Training game, it's my first official 2008 Baseball beer. It was incredibly delicious. Here's the view from the outfield during warm-ups:


I love going to the park in the evening. Gorgeous sunsets, temperate weather, no big deal if you forget the sunscreen, and, of course, beer.

I forgot my camera battery charger and the cable that links my camera to the computer, but via a complicated camera to phone to e-mail upload to e-mail download process I was able to get these two photos out. They may be the last before I get home on Monday, but I think that the beer photo was totally worth the trouble.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Guilty Feet Have Got No Rhythm

Wollmeise Collage

My biggest yarn splurge of 2008, two skeins of Wollmeise Lace-Garn, arrived last week. The photos above show the top and bottom of each gigantic, 300 gram hank. After many, many attempts to order Wollmeise (both from Claudia and from the Loopy Ewe), I was finally able to get some and I couldn't be happier with it. The lace yarn is the same unique texture as the Wollmeise sock yarn that I've seen, but finer. My original plan was to keep the color I liked best out of these two, and trade or sell the other one (at cost--I'm not into scalping), but I'm not sure if I can part with either one of them. The blue and black is Mitternacht, and it's a slight favorite over the brown Spice Market. In general, I'm not one of those yarn-sniffers, but Wollmeise has the most delicious, clean smell, and I love the brown-paper packaging.

So what about those guilty feet? It's not related to the Wollmeise, which was (and really still is) on my very short list of buy-whatever-you-want yarns for 2008. It's another yarn purchase, eagerly anticipated but not yet delivered, for this gorgeous kit, that I feel a little guilty about. I ordered the Arabian Nights colorway, and I can't wait to see it in person, even though it I probably won't start working on it for awhile--I do want to start up the hibernating Bee Fields shawl now that it's spring again, and the Vickie Cardigan is in heavy rotation right now. Basically, it wasn't a purchase that I planned to make, but I am looking forward to knitting the shawl and both the yarn and pattern are something special. I'll probably omit the beaded fringe and possibly the beads on the edges, because I can totally see myself hitting myself in the face with them. In any case, I'm not asking for absolution or encouragement, I'm just noting that I spent more on yarn this month this month, and when I'm drinking coffee at the Floridsdorf Anker instead of Demel's, I'll look back and remember why.

p.s. I still don't feel guilty about the Wollmeise.

p.p.s. My official time for the St. Pat's Dash was 42:37, better than I expected!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

St Pat's Dash

What was the best part of running the St. Pat's Dash? The delicious, delicious beer that I drank afterwards at Elysian Fields. What was the worst part? Standing in line for the bus for pretty much as long as it took to finish the course. It's too early to get my official time, but the clock was at about 44:45 when I crossed the finish line, and I crossed the start line about two minutes after the official start. I wasn't expecting to run the whole thing (and I didn't), but I'm pretty happy with how I did and that halfway through March I'm still sticking to one of my TCB resolutions. And my Dash Hat held up very well--I was really glad to have it, especially while standing in line for the bus.

The route is about 3.5 miles, and according to my iPod & Nike + I went 3.89 miles. I'm not sure how much of this is a calibration error, but I didn't start and end the workout at the start and end lines. At the beginning, it was too early to think about, and at the end I wandered around for a couple of minutes before thinking about it. The most interesting thing to me about looking at the Nike+ graph is that there isn't a huge speed difference between my walking and running, but it sure feels different!

Frieda and Gretel have no respect for my photographs, by the way:

Freida & Gretel

Moments after I took that photo, Gretel peed within INCHES of my shirt. Yes, it's perfectly normal for her to pee in the backyard, and she didn't pee on the shirt, but it was still a little close for comfort.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

What, Too Busy to Knit?

I'm back at home, but preparing for another busy week. Mom and I leave for Spring Training on Thursday, and I'm still a little behind from last week, but the yarn for my Vickie Cardigan arrived so I started the first sleeve:

Sleeve #1

So far, so good--I had a small problem with the first transition from the "O" to the "X" on the side cables and had to rip back several rows, but otherwise all is going well. The color of the yarn is exactly what I wanted, it's a Cascade 220 Heather that's a navy/red blend. I'll try to get some natural-light photos to see if the color will show up better--the photo above looks more grey to me.

ETA: Crap! I just noticed a mistake in the photo above. Maybe I can crochet hook it back into order?

The Smooshy socks are moving along, I'm just about to the heel. Nothing like six hours on a bus to promote sock knitting progress! I'd like to finish the heels this weekend, so that these are back on auto-pilot travel project status.

I haven't had a chance to respond to the comments from the last post yet, and I really need to get to work, so here are answers to the questions:

What color is the Smooshy?
Dusky Aurora. I love it, the colors are beautiful and the transitions are really subtle.

Sleeping Lady?
Yes, Sleeping Lady. I wish that I could live in a cabin like that (with maid service and a delicious cafeteria, of course). Wouldn't that be a great place for a knitting retreat? Maybe they already have them there.

Stitch Pattern hard to memorize?
No, not at all--one row of real pattern, three rows of following the rib. After the first inch or so, I've only checked the pattern to see how close I am getting to the heel.

Two Socks at Once hard?
The only tough thing is getting the two socks started at once, and ripping out two socks instead of one if you make a mistake. I take the easy way out, and start the toes one at a time and then put them together. I usually knit the toe (or cuff) and a bit of the pattern to make sure I'm happy with the gauge/color/pattern before starting the second sock--I really don't want to rip out two whole cuffs or toes.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Two Toe Tuesday: Out of Town Edition


I'm out of town at a work retreat in gorgeous Leavenworth, WA, and I've got to get some sleep but here's the new pair of socks I started last week. I got a lot done on the bus on the way here, and I'm loving the pattern (The Double Eyelet Rib (pdf download) sock by Wendy, available at the Loopy Ewe). The yarn is Smooshy, and it's really really great. I'll try to take some nature-y photos tomorrow, it's really gorgeous here.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Our faces Stitched in Sewing


One problem with procrastination is that it doesn't leave enough time to take decent, comprehensive photos of finished objects. Instead, you end up pulling over on your way to the baby shower, and draping the baby quilt above over the back-seat, and taking what you can get. Then you cram the blanket into a gift bag (along with an Octopus and a book that features an Octopus), and are thankful that you finished it at all.

I started making this last weekend, and finished it up late last night (oh, and put it in the dryer this morning). The pattern is very loosely based on a quilt in Last Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts and further inspired by Jessica's doll-sized version. Being both lazy and short on time, I didn't cut individual rectangles. Instead, I strip-pieced four or five fabrics into blocks, then cut the blocks into stacks of rectangles. Then I mixed and matched the blocks, and threw in a few single-cut blocks to make it slightly less matchy-matchy. I chose the dark solid brown for good contrast, and to make it less pinky-girly. I think that a mauve or a purple would also have looked good, but I like the brown the best. The back is brown with white dots that is so cute that I almost substituted something else so that I could make myself a skirt out of it to wear to the baby shower. The actual quilting is minimal, because I wanted to retain a very clean look. The "batting" is flannel, so close quilting isn't necessary.

One thing that I learned while making this quilt is that my sewing skills have gotten unacceptably rusty. The fact that you can see the back of quilt fabric in the photo above grates a little, and getting the topstitching to match up was a problem. Yes, this is a blanket that is meant to be used (i.e. vomited on) and washed frequently, and it will hold up just fine. But I was struggling more than I should have to struggle to get less than ideal results, and I think that I need more practice. Good thing that I know 1,000,000 people with babies on the way, and a bunch of new spring skirts to sew. And a wallhanging--I want to make a wallhanging for my office.

Another thing that I learned is that the sewing room, which offered so much promise last summer, is now a pigsty. This summer's project be to whip it into shape, and it will probably involve a lot of work and some tough decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of.

Forget I even mentioned that! Here's a pre-assembly close up of the top:


I think that the single little gnome is my favorite part of this quilt!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Two Toe Tuesday: Hawk Monkey Edition


When I jumped into the Ravelry January Sockdown KAL, I admit that my plans were a little ambitious--two pair of socks, one of which was the Mystery Sock. The mystery sock is still in the works, but I do still like the pattern and I plan to finish them. Although I fell short of finishing both, these Monkeys squeaked in before the deadline. I'd really like to do another pair of these soon, possibly at a tighter gauge and in a yarn that is a little less busy. Don't get me wrong, I love the yarn (Hazel Knits Hometown Football Team) and the way the socks turned out, but I'm not always trying to show my Seahawks spirit. As a matter of fact, it will be quite some time before I think about football again, now that baseball season is less than a month away.

One interesting thing to note about the Monkey socks is that when I first posted about mine two months ago, there were 2,300 finished and 3,200 total Monkeys on Ravelry. Earlier this past weekend, there were about 3,100 finished and 4,100 total on Ravelry. That means that 1,600 Monkeys have been finished in the last two months--amazing. I know exactly how dorky this sounds, but wouldn't it be cool to see some sort of popularity growth curve for projects over time? Wouldn't it?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Stones That Throw and Feet That Run

In May, I'm going to be travelling with my friend S___ to Vienna for a wedding, and there are a couple of side trips planned. S__ will be running the Prague Marathon, so I thought that I should strap on some shoes and run, too. Not the full marathon, of course--that would be stupid. Not only have I never run more than a couple of miles at once, but I can't think of anything I'd rather do less than run for five hours. Instead, I'm training for the 4.2K family mini-marathon. It's a lot less running, with the same guarantee of unlimited free Czech beer at the after-party. Anyway, I've been running regularly for two months now, and I'm in week 6 of the Couch to 5K program. It's going pretty well (not counting the soreness), so I've decided to try the St. Pat's Dash.

Part of any good training program involves preparatory knitting, and this is no exception. It could be a little warm for a hat, but I knit one anyway:

St. Pat's Hat

The St. Pat's dash has a costume contest, and this is pretty much as far as I'm willing to go. This is the Jacques Cousteau Hat, knit in the Duet Sock Yarn (colorway: Leprechaun) that I failed to knit into Jaywalkers last year. I love the decreases on this hat, and I love the colors in the yarn. I started this on Feb. 22, and finished it over the weekend--it went very quickly.

I had a request for a photo of the Octopus with a household object, so that the size is easier to gauge. The Octopus isn't very big . . .


. . . but he sure is thirsty!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Into Your Arms, Into Your Arms I Can Go


Oooh, I really like this Octopus--I can't believe that I didn't find the pattern sooner. It's a quick knit, started yesterday evening, finished early this afternoon. And, I should add, I spent a good part of the morning buying baseball tickets, running 2.74 miles, and scoring my first ever order of Wollmeise (two hanks of lace yarn in Market Spice and Mitternacht, but I'll probably only keep one). Plus, as you can see below, I stopped several times to take photos, because I really like the colors and how weird the individual parts look.

The construction is interesting and the instructions are very thorough. Joining all of the pieces together is a little tricky (there some "invisible grafting" that you can see if you look closely above), but at the end I had only ONE end to weave in. Considering that the legs have a total of 32 yarn ends, I think that's pretty awesome. I also like that it's about as realistic as a knitted octopus is going to be--it's not cartoonish, and the legs are naturally asymmetrical.

I used about 11 grams of the green and 17 grams of the purple, but I tossed out a lot of trimmed ends (mostly green bits from the many long-tail cast-ons) amounting to probably a couple of grams. I'm looking forward to making another one soon--maybe I'll try reversing the colors, or digging out some remnants of Cascade that I have lying around. This one is likely to end up with a young child, so I didn't use pipe cleaners to make the legs poseable--that's another option I'd like to try.

Octopus in Progress