Monday, December 21, 2009

It Must Be Christmastime


Well, it's Dec. 21 and I have yet to mail a card, but they are coming along slowly. I've hedged by bets with "Happy Holidays", but by depicting a Christmas icon I've basically assured myself of looking like a slacker when I mail them later this week (fingers crossed!) or next. Other projects are coming along apace, and this weekend I bought tickets for three Spring Training games in AZ in March, and maybe we'll get a little snow tonight. No complaints from me.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Two Toe Tuesday: One of These Socks is Not Like the Others


I've not been talking about socks very much lately, and for good reason--I've barely been working on socks at all. Or much of anything else, really. I'm knitting a little bit here and there, but I've also been working on Christmas cards and shopping and (believe it or not) running 3 or 4 days a week. I've still got a lot to finish knit-wise before the holidays are officially here, but I'm trying not to get too stressed out, which means I'm just getting further and further behind.

So what about these socks? Two are a little alike, because they are they are both knit from Shelridge Farm's soft touch heather, and both are knit from ribbed Nancy Bush patterns. However, the Yarrow rib, in green, is gi-normous, being knit for a man. And the Spey Valley socks, in purple, are a few sizes smaller than my feet, being knit for a woman with smaller feet than mine. I love both of these socks, and need to get cracking on sock #2 of Spey Valley. Sock #2 of the Yarrow rib is just about ready for a heel, so I should power through that as well.

The third sock has not made an official blog appearance yet, although I started it in July. It's still on the needles, because I wanted to make sure that I end up with socks that are the same height and use as much yarn as possible. The yarn is Yarntini self-striping sport, in Blue Hawaiian. It's great yarn (I've used the semi-solid before, and love it), with great colors, but I don't like this sock. The heel is a standard short-row heel, and I hate it. I think that it has to do with the weight of yarn more than anything else--even though I picked up the wraps, the turns look messy and I don't like the way the heel interrupts the stripes. This is why it took so long to get to the heel--I was thinking about using a heel flap pattern, but I have less experience with those. And I really needed to get past the heel, so I would have a nice plain sock to knit at the movied. Bad reason to rush through, and I'll probably just rip it out. The stripes would make a really cute hat, wouldn't they?

Hope that everyone's holiday preparations (such as they are) are coming along well. I'm hoping to get my knitting / blogging mojo back in the coming weeks, and I keep seeing projects that I'd love to take a crack at once I've finished up some other things (but keep me in mind if you have any recommendations).

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Stories From the City

November 28, 2009

I went to New York a few weekends ago, and I only took photos of two things on my camera.

Top Photo: Paparazzi taking photos of Katie Holmes & her daughter through the window of a restaurant they went into. It was horrifying--this was taken after much of the crowd thinned.

Bottom Photo: a store that knows better than to oversell itself.

I didn't take any photos on my camera of the great rock show E___, R___ and I attended (Langhorne Slim--highly, highly recommended), but should get some from E___ soon. I didn't take any photos of the long bus ride from Boston to New York, or of the walk from the World Trade Center to Soho to the Village, or lunch with M___ and J___, or the delicious skewers at the Miracle of Science. I was really just too busy cramming as much good time as possible into three days on the east coast, and I think I succeeded.

On the flight to the east coast, I did start a new project:


I'm knitting on a 16" circular, so there's not much hope of stretching it out better for the time being. It's a lacy (duh) neckwarmer, the pattern is Spiraluscious by Anne Hanson, and the yarn is Skinny Bugga from the Sanguine Gryphon that I purchased almost accidentally at the Loopy Ewe. I was on the site totally by chance when the yarn was posted, and before I knew it I had ordered this skein. I've been trying to buy less "stash" lately, because I keep coming across yarn that I bought without a plan and am wondering how I'm ever going to get through it all without turning knitting into a chore. However, I am really pleased with this yarn. The color is a really beautiful, rich semi-solid, and the little bit of cashmere in it has made it a pleasure to knit with. This neckwarmer should only take about 1/3 of the skein, so there will be enough left for more neckwarmers, or maybe mittens. Or maybe I'll just pass along the leftovers to another knitter? I suppose I should wait to see how this turn out!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Drunks Were Ricocheting


I know it's been awhile since I rapped at ya . . . I've really got to get back in the swing of regular posting. Especially since this is the time of year when I tend to actually finish things, rather than just start and abandon them!

I have been knitting, but it's gotten so dark here (what with it being late November) that it's been a chore to take photos of anything at all. And then yesterday, when we had beautiful, sunny weather, it felt like I spent the whole day in the car. Black Friday, you ask? Why, no--I went to five stores looking for a battery for my iPod remote watch, and to make a very, very long story short, I ended up with a new remote watch, two new batteries, and a running bra that is four inches too small. Let's just say that I was a little off yesterday, and no photos of knitting were taken.

As you can see above, I'm making good progress on the second Appliance Mitten, and the first one fits my friend R____ really well, so now they also have a destination. As soon as they are done, I need to embark on a pair for my friend L_____--for her birthday, I promised a pair of mittens by Christmas, so her mittens will come before the pair I started for myself (which still need a color-order revamp). These are the colors I think I've settled on:


I'm still deciding, though. I have three other colors in my stash that I could mix in: olive, hunter green, and white. But maybe the teal that I'm taking out of my mittens would fit in better here? Hmmm. I'm not in love with the brown, either. Hmmm. I wonder how many more colors the Fiber Gallery has of this yarn? And what other local stores carry it? Somehow, I think that it will be easier to find that that stupid watch battery . ..

"The Drunks Were Ricocheting:" Wilco,
Sky Blue Sky. That's what the zig zags will stand for when I make my own mittens.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Black Coffee In Bed


The Black Diamond sleeves are almost done! Black stockinette sleeves hardly make for an interesting blog post,but setting up the photo (with tripod) was a pain so I feel like I need to share it. These sleeves will be joined to the body, so I'm assuming that they need to reach comfortably from my wrists to right under my arm. I'm hoping that the length works out, although I don't want to go too long because I think that this yarn will grow a little when washed.

I'm headed to the east coast for a long weekend on the 19th, and I'd love to finish the sweater by then, but I'll be surprised if it happens. I tend to think that the sweater is almost finished, but really there's still probably 15% left to go. Maybe it's more realistic to finish a second Appliance Mitten?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hello, Darkness My Old Friend

Black Sleeves

A spooky sweater update on a spooky Halloween . . .

I've been very slowly working on the Black Diamond cardigan that I last posted about in April, and I've reached a major milestone--I started the sleeves! This cardigan (pattern link here) is knit bottom up in one piece to the armholes, then you knit the sleeves, and then join it all together. I'm knitting the sleeves two at a time because otherwise there's zero chance I will match up the increases. It feels like these are zipping along, because it's all stockinette for the time being--no pattern to worry about, and waaaaaaaay fewer stitches than the body has.

While I love knitting with this yarn (DIC Classy, Rav link) I am a little nervous about the color variation between skeins. I've been trying to mitigate this by alternating skeins, and I even switched one of the skeins at the halfway point so that I wouldn't end up switching both at once. I'm not sure how successful this has been--it appears that the first half skein was pretty dark, and I can tell where it changed. Fingers crossed it will be o.k. in the end, and my fingers are also crossed that the two skeins I'm using for the sleeves are not going to result in wildly different colored arms--one is a little bluer right now, but it's still early days. I didn't think I could manage four yarn ends at once, so I'm also hoping that one sleeve does not take more than one skein. Worry, worry, worry--is that what I'm really getting out of this sweater? I hope not!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I Think You'll Be There When I Fall


I sound like a broken record, but I really haven't been knitting that much in the past couple of weeks. I'm super busy at work right now, but I've also spent some time meeting up with friends in non-knitting settings, and even when I've been at home in the evenings it's been hard to concentrate. But, nine days after confirming that the thumb was too short, I have added seven or eight rows to the thumb and Appliance Mitten #1 is finished! And it seriously looks better propped up against a Ghost Pumpkin than it does with my too-big hand jammed into it.

Before I move on to mitten #2, or go back to the Metropolis kit, I may start a third pair--I recently picked up 11 (yes ELEVEN) balls of the yarn used in this kit, to make more mittens. More mittens! Many more! Each pair of mittens takes about 100g of yarn, so this is enough for about five pair of mittens, and it's cost effective as long as I make at least three pair. This will also give me a chance to sub out the teal that I dislike so much in the Metropolis mittens.

Maybe it's time to clear the social (and work) schedule so I can actually get cracking on all these mittens!
"I Think You'll Be There When I Fall": Sam Phillips, When I Fall. I haven't seen the Golden Compass, I have no idea what this song has to do with the movie, but it's a great song. Fall = Autumn, even out of context, right?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Hello City


While waiting for confirmation that the thumb was too short on my first Chevron mitten (it was, and is just about reknit), I started the version using the Metropolis Mittens. Here's the good news--I went up a needle size, and the mitten is closer to the recommended gauge and therefore should fit me!

That is the end of the good news.

Now for the bad news--I hate what I've knit so far. I picked this kit because I love this pair (Rav Link), but I really don't like the color order I used. You can see on the right that in black & white, the value changes are weird looking. Very little contrast between the two braid colors, almost none between the blue and grey, and then giant changes. I really think that the photo from the last post of the skeins lined up against one another looked better, and if knitting the yarn doesn't make it look better somehow, then what's the point? Maybe should consider that order?

Also, aside from the value problem, I really don't like the olive next to the blue. I had intended to have olive first & the heathery brown second, but I screwed up the knit row after the braid. And teal is one of my least favorite colors ever--this particular shade of teal especially. I put up with it as an "accent" for the Mariners, but I'm not sure I can tolerate it in handwear, even though I knew that it was one of the kit colors.

So I'm going to rethink the order, and possibly go from 8 colors to seven, if I can that it won't leave me a little short on the other colors (I think it will be fine). Maybe it's a sign to finish the Appliance Mittens?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Autumn Winds Blow Chilly & Cold

Chevron Love Mitten

The colors I'm using for this Chevron Love mitten are from a kit called "Vintage Appliance", but really the colors seem perfectly appropriate for fall. The kit & pattern are from Knitterly Things, and the mitten has knit up pretty quickly. There are, however, a few problems:
  • The pattern gauge is about 7 st to the inch on a size US3 /3.25mm needle, which is perfectly reasonable. Since I'm a loose knitter, I went down a couple of needle sizes to a 2.75mm needle, and didn't measure my gauge until I was past the thumb gusset. I'm getting about 8-8.5 stitches instead of 7. I knew that it was running a little small on my large hands, but didn't realize that it was all gauge and not just sizing.
  • I opted not to run the colors up the inside of the mitten, because I'd rather weave in a bunch of ends than deal with 8 balls of yarn at once. This is one of the reasons I didn't realize the mitten was so small earlier--all those ends make it a pain to try on! They weren't so bad to weave in, though. Once I got past the cuff, I started weaving them in periodically so I didn't have to do all 60-ish at once. And now that I've counted how many ends there were, I think that I may have been insane to cut the ends.
  • I love, love, love the colors, and there's no chance that this pair will fit me or that I'll rip it out.
  • I think that the thumb is a little stumpy, even if these are going to a small handed person. Since my hands are too long for the mittens, it's fruitless to judge this by myself. Before I start the 2nd mitten, I need to have someone try these on and tell me if I need to add length to the thumb. The fact that I'm even imagining this means that I'll probably have to cut the orange tip (I wove in the ends), and I'm afraid that it could get ugly.
While I'm disappointed not to be able to jump into mitten #2, and that this pair won't be for me, I do have this for consolation:


Chevron Love Mitten Kit #2: Metropolis! Time to dig out some larger needles!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Only 5 1/2 Months Until Spring Training

M's Games 2009

Last Sunday was closing day for the Mariner's 2009 season, and although the M's ended up in third place in the West (12 games behind the Angels, two games behind the Rangers) it was a great season to watch. The return of Griffey, the return of a winning season, Ichiro's 9th consecutive 200 hit season--these were all important achievements. But the best part was consistently watching a team that had a chance to win (even if they didn't overwhelmingly win), and that seemed to have fun on & off the field. We saw this change during Spring Training, even though several of the best players were representing their countries in the World Baseball Classic. Let's hope that Griffey comes back, and that the record improves almost as much next year (it would be greedy, let alone impossible, to expect another 40 wins, wouldn't it). And that I eventually finish all five pair of socks I hauled to baseball games this year:

Cabana Boy: Finished July 13, 2009
Strawberry Van Dyke: Finished July 27, 2009
Yarrow: in progress (1st sock done, 2nd almost at heel)
Yellow Mystery: in progress (1st sock close to toe)
Spey Valley: in progress (1st sock midway through foot)

And yes, I am already thinking about Spring Training 2010!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Disposable Dixie Cup Drinking

Wilco, St Paul, MN

Yes, sometimes it seems like I do go to a lot of Wilco shows in remote locations. What can I say? They're a great band, and they've skipped Seattle for the last couple of summers so I've had to go to them. This time, the show was at the Roy Wilkins Theater in St. Paul, MN. I sat dead center in the 2nd row of the balcony instead of going for the General Admission option, and it was probably a good choice 'cause I've picked up a mild cold and was already feeling it a bit. Or maybe I was feeling the extra strong blueberry vodka lemonade that I had with dinner--who can say? In any case, I was glad for the seat, and the music, and the chance to get away for a weekend. I knit quite a bit of the Spey Valley sock, shown here after arriving in St. Paul--I was on the heel flap when I left Seattle.

Now if I could only shake this cold, I'd be in good shape--I'm expecting a few busy weeks ahead, there's no time to slow down now.

Monday, October 05, 2009

This Will Go Perfectly With My Pointy Nose & Shoes


Ends woven in, washed & dried (gently, via machine), and Wicked is finally finished. Add one pointy hat, a long black skirt, and maybe a black-and-green striped long sleeve shirt underneath, and I'll be all set for Halloween! Or perhaps I'll just wear it to work one of these days.

This is a pretty basic sweater, and it fits well enough, but most of all I'm glad that it's really done. So glad that I'm not even willing to wait for a sunny day to photograph it. It's really nice to cross a long-standing WIP off the list, instead of getting 95% done and then putting it away.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Sea Black With Ink


My blogging has been pretty slack over the last month, partly because I've been really busy, and partly because most of the projects I've been working on don't lend themselves to blogging all that well. I'm not totally uncreative, but it's beyond my powers of imagination to make "here's another inch of ribbed sock" sound interesting. Today's post is about a black mostly stockinette sweater, but I haven't posted a photo of this project since APRIL 2007, when I was only halfway through the body.

The pattern is Wicked from Zephyr Style, and I'm using Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece (Rav Link), in black. I like this pattern because it's simple and easily customizable, and since it's top down it was easy to make sure that the length was fine--no running out of steam and then finding that the sweater is too short! I am making this without a front pocket. The photo makes it clear that this sweater is going to attract hair and lint, but considering how long I've been hauling this around, it really doesn't look that bad. I can see a couple of rows with iffy tension close to the neck, but that should block out (fingers crossed).

Part of the reason that I picked this up again with some dedication earlier this month is that after a couple of years of knitting it a few rows at a time, I realized that I only needed an inch or two before the bottom ribbing and then a couple of 3/4 length sleeves. Another reason for finally trying to finish this is that there is a pattern in the newest Elsabeth Lavold book (Aslaug) that I've been waiting for since last winter, when I saw the sample up close. Guess what? It's a lot of stockinette, and I'm likely to knit it in black or grey, so I really need to finish Wicked before I get started on Aslaug. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself--fortunately, the book hadn't yet arrived at Renaissance Yarns the last time I stopped in, so that's helping me keep on Wicked.

I have a couple of other new projects on the needles, one which must remain secret for the time being and another one that is really looking great so far and is a nice alternative to the plain black sleeve that I'm working through right now. I'll try to be a little more lively in October!

"A Sea Black With Ink", Wilco, Sunken Treasure

Monday, September 21, 2009

Synchronizing Every Single Move

Three Nancy Bush Socks

It happened almost without a thought--I'm now working on three different pair of socks designed by Nancy Bush, and I've barely talked about them here at all. Two of the socks are from different books and the other is a standalone pattern, but they've got some similar elements between them that make it easy to switch off between them. They're all really beautiful in their simplicity, too--even the lacy yellow socks have an easy to memorize pattern.

From left to right:

Yellow Mystery: These are the September Sock Knitters Anonymous (Rav Link) mystery pattern, designed by Nancy Bush. I started a number of their knitalongs last year (the SKA year begins in Sept), and I'm not sure if I finished a single pair on time. That's no deterrant, however, especially when the guest designer is someone I'm such a big fan of! I'm a little bit behind, but not as far behind as I was at this time last week, and I'm enjoying the pattern. The front of the leg has a lace panel, and the back has ribbing at the top and stockinette at the bottom. Plus, there's a Vikkel braid (tutorial here), and an eye of partridge heel flap, and still the patterns are all simple enough that I haven't been glued to the chart. I'm knitting this in Shibui Sock from the Loopy Ewe, colorway Finch. One of the requirements of the KAL is that the yarn is yellow. I don't think that there's any question that this sock fulfills that requirement.

Yarrow: I'm making good progress on Sock #2 of the Yarrow socks that I started back before Sock Summit. These are man-sized socks, and the first sock is totally done but not photographed. The yarn is Soft Touch Heather Shelridge Farm in Fury, the pattern is from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. I don't really have much more to say--I'm just keeping on with these, working on them when I can, and still liking them a lot.

Spey Valley Socks: I just started these last week, when I had some delusion that I was getting too close to the Yarrow heel to take that pair to two Mariners games. I'm not sure what I was thinking, but these are for a friend for Christmas so I figured I might as well get started on them now. The yarn is Soft Touch Heather in Loganberry, and I like it just as much as the green Fury yarn. The pattern is Spey Valley from Knitting on the Road. It's a pretty plain ribbed sock, with a simple knit-purl pattern at the top and a Vikkel Braid above and below the pattern. The heathered color of the yarn makes it hard to see that the knit-purls make diamonds, but enough of the texture comes through to show that the cuff is a little fancy. If you look carefully, you can see the braid in the photo below--it's the row I was knitting before taking the photo:

Spey Valley @ Safeco

I was pretty happy that I could knit the braid at a baseball game after almost a whole beer--I attribute this triumph to having knit the braid on the yellow sock only a week or two earlier.
"Synchronizing Every Single Move": The Minus Five, Retrieval of You. Least creepy stalker / kidnap planning song ever. Disclaimer: I am not planning to stalk or kidnap Nancy Bush or anyone else. I'm just knitting some socks, that's all.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thinking About Knitting (doesn't actually get you very far)


It's the busiest time of the year at work, and the last couple of weeks have involved longer than normal hours and higher than normal stress levels. I've been knitting very little, and the knitting I've done has been very basic--work on a black stockinette sweater, or on the Yarrow socks, or a row or two on Damson. I'm itching for something more interesting, but other than starting the Nancy Bush mystery sock (which I'll talk about another day), I've been holding off on anything else in an effort to keep my brain from exploding. Back when it felt more like autumn than it does today, I ordered the yarn above, and I'm itching to get started with it. It the "Vintage Appliance" colorway of the Vesper Chevron Love mitten kit. Now I just need to work up to starting it--maybe once I start getting home before 8pm again?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Bumbershoot 2009: And on Monday, Even More Rain

September 07, 2009

Here's how yesterday went:
  1. Weather cloudy, but not raining, so Frieda and I leave for Bumbershoot
  2. Halfway to Seattle, it starts pouring
  3. Then it stops pouring
  4. Then it starts again
  5. Then it lightens up & we head inside
  6. Frieda is fired up--popcorn is everywhere!
  7. Arrive at the Starbucks stage just in time to see the Minus 5
  8. Rain starts again
  9. Frieda is most popular dog around
  10. Show starts a few minutes late
  11. Frieda is drenched, but wrapped in towel and fine
  12. 10 minutes later, she's more wet, and shivering
  13. We bail 1/2 way through the Minus 5's set (which was really good, by the way)
  14. We leave Seattle Center less than an hour after arriving
  15. Parking still costs $15
  16. We stop at Macrina Bakery
  17. I hear someone say "smells like wet dog in here". I suspect she's talking about me.
  18. I drop my iPhone. It seems to be working still.
  19. Except for the screen, which now shows only a few lines
  20. Which means I can't turn it off, access data, or read the two text messages that arrived after I got home.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Bumbershoot 2009: Before it Started Raining

September 05, 2009

clockwise from top left: Message pulled by an old timey plane, Mayer Hawthorne & the County, Space Needle, Old 97's

It's been a wet weekend here in the Seattle area, and I mean torrential rain & thunder & lightening--fall is officially here. I made it to Bumbershoot on Saturday, when it was relatively dry, but it was much too wet yesterday and it's not clear yet today whether I'll get out of the house--I've got to get some work done and get psyched up for the crowds before I make a final decision.

So the photo pool from Saturday is a little light. I got to the Center around 3, saw three or four bands before meeting up with friends for a beer & then the Old 97s (in the top left photo). The Old '97s were the highlight of the day, as they were last year. Possibly because Rhett Miller wore the same shirt? I'm not going to say it wasn't a factor.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Mini Mitten Monday: Put to Work by a Four Year Old


I babysat a 4 year old last Saturday. Just playing with her wasn't enough--she really wanted new mittens for her doll E___, which is on loan from her mother. E___ has one mitten, shown on the right above, but it's probably more than 30 years old and has a hole on the other side. Plus, there's only one, so in 4-year-old perspective, it's really no good. I think that the lack of a second mitten is actually worse to her than the giant hole!

So as we watched Snoopy Come Home, I took a close look at the original mitten, and set out to make a replica. The original mitten appears to have been knitted flat, and then seamed. I think that the thumb may have just been stuck on at the end, but I'm not totally sure. It's been awhile since I took a crack at a mini mitten, and this mitten needed to be a bit larger than the ornament mittens I've made. I just used the original as a guide and took a crack at it, and I think it looks pretty close to the original (but knit in the round). The thumb is essentially a 5-stitch icord, which was also pretty easy. One mitten down, one more to go!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Can You Hear Her Blacks Crackle and Drag

August 30, 2009

I've made some good progress on Damson since last Thursday, and was hoping to be able to show off the sparkles in the Starry, as well as the way the shawl is taking shape. When I tried to spread it out, though, it looks a little crazy--either the top looks weirdly rectangular (I'm NOT knitting a sailor collar!), or the fabric buckles and curls. Architectural, yes--but not exactly saying much about how this will eventually look! And the sparkles are only visible if you really squint at them--I think I need a special effects camera, that will turn them into disco stars or something.

So I refer you to the original, as well as some really pretty versions here (Rav Link) and here and here (Rav Link). In looking these up, I notice that this is now the most popular new pattern on Ravelry. No surprise--easy instructions, uses just one skein of sock yarn (who doesn't have some of that?), and is a really cute twist on a standard triangle shawl.

"Can You Hear Her Blacks Crackle and Drag": Paul Westerburg, Crackle and Drag.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stitch N Pitch Recap

Stitch N Pitch

So I have only a few complaints about Stitch N Pitch at Safeco Field tonight:
  1. I was way too exhausted from a very long week to really look at all of the booths.
  2. I was starving when I got to the park, and ate a cheeseburger that was much too much food for me, so then I felt even more like taking a nap.
  3. The Mariners lost 8-4
Mom & E__ and I sat in what I am calling "baseball seats" rather than "knitting seats" because I find it really hard to watch the game from the top of the third deck in left field. Had I known that there wasn't much of a game to watch (except for the KC fans out there), I might have revisited this decision. I think that the Mariners should really consider expanding the Stitch n Pitch section to include some closer in seats as well as the very top deck. Look at the photo above, taken in the first or maybe second inning. See all of those open seats out there? Except for the SnP seats, which were very full, there were wide open stretches of seats all over the stands. Mix the knitters in, people! No need to keep them separate, in the oxygen tank seats!

I ran into a bunch of folks that I don't see often (though I saw most of them at Sock Summit), and I finally gave away the Cables Baby sweater! For once, I was prepared, and I think that the baby will be able to wear the sweater in the right season!

As I mentioned above, I didn't really have the energy to jump into the crowds and do much shopping. I only picked up a really, really cute pattern for a Tofu the Gentle Dachshund (Rav Link, available in Rebecca Danger's Etsy shop). I think it would be nice to make some Friedas and Gretels, provided that the real Frieda and Gretel keep their stinky paws off my knitting.

I worked a bit on the Yarrow socks, but I'm getting close to starting the toe and wasn't prepared to go in the direction yet, so I brought along a new project. It's Damson (Rav Link), by Ysolda Teague, and I'm knitting it in Dream in Color Starry, in Black Pearl. It's a little hard to see the sparkles against the beer-and-ballfield, but they are there. I think that this is going to be another very popular Ysolda pattern--it's only been out for a few weeks, and there are 166 underway. I saw a very pretty green version at Stitch n Pitch, and it made me wish that I was using a color with more variation. Which I suppose I could, but I think that black with sparkles will be great for all of those formalwear occasions I attend (in my imagination).

Ack! It's really to late to be up blogging, I've got one more long day ahead of me (and another baseball game tomorrow night--go M's!) before a relaxing weekend of more work, more summer fun, and hopefully a little more sleep.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sock Summit Recap: Sunday

Sock Summit Sunday

The only photo I took at Sock Summit on Sunday was the blurry photo of the Luminary Panel above, but it was actually a pretty jam-packed day, featuring the following:

The Perfect Rib with Cookie A: Cookie A talked about how to make sure that a complicated sock leg pattern flows right into the ribbing. This is something that I admire about her patterns--it's so easy to just slap a 1 x 1 or 2 x 2 rib at the top of a sock and call it done, but the extra effort she takes with the ribbing really adds a little something extra to her designs. This was a one-hour wonder, so it was pretty quick, but she showed us a lot of examples and explained the basics in a way that will be totally usable.

Turkish Stitches with Anna Zilboorg: I could listen to Anna Zilboorg talk about knitting all day long. I didn't have all day long (this was another one-hour class), so it's likely I'll have to follow up by reading her book Knitting for Anarchists. The way she talked about the Turkish patterns made me want to swatch up a bunch of them, in order to really understand the ideas. Maybe someday I'll get my hands on her Turkish sock book Fancy Feet, too (maybe it will be reissued, like Magnificent Mittens, which I have pre-ordered).

The Luminary Panel: The Luminary Panel was pretty interesting, but I was a little bit relieved that E____ had a flight to catch and we had to leave early, even though it meant missing the cake. I felt that it could have benefitted from shorter responses from panelists, although that group struck me as pretty tough to wrangle. I heard a lot of stuff that I found totally uninteresting (how tough it is to be a woman--snoozeville) & a little uncomfortable (why so many white people here?), but I also heard some awesome stuff (Nancy Bush examing kilt hose at Scottish Country Dances). Maybe it was my expectations that were the problem, and I should have expected the panel to go off on tangents, but also I was pretty wiped out by then with a really long drive back ahead of me. I'm not sorry I went to the panel, I just wasn't sorry at all to leave early.

One great thing about the Luminary Panel (and the Sunday classes, now that I think about it), is that I had a lot of time to work on a pair of socks that I started just before Sock Summit so that I'd have something simple to knit. That's the sock, in the photos above (all taken AFTER Sock Summit). I was just done with the top ribbing when we arrived in Portland, and I was close to the heel when I got home. It's the Yarrow Ribbed Sock (Rav Link) from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. The yarn is Soft Touch Heather Shelridge Farm in Fury. I've adjusted the pattern to be man-sized (no, brother K_____, they aren't for you) and am using a French heel instead of a German heel. They are going to be a great pair of socks, and they are perfect for baseball knitting. As an aside, I wish that I had known that Shelridge Farm would be at Sock Summit, because in the months leading up to Sock Summit, I ordered a LOT of yarn from them (maybe 14 skeins), and I could have avoided the shipping costs. I love this yarn, it's the perfect solid sock yarn and comes in a lot of regular and heathered colors. The socks feel really sturdy, and the yarn is very "wooly". It took a ton of willpower not to go into their Sock Summit booth, and now I'm a little sorry I didn't.

Also in the photo is one of the drawstring bags that I made for Liberty's booth, of which I sold alarmingly few. I don't think I sold a single button-top bag, either. It was a little disappointing, but not a big deal or totally unexpected--after all, I have no brand, and there were a million other bags available all over the place. Now I've got a bunch of Christmas presents (or Christmas bazaar items) already done, so that's not so bad.

So, I think that this wraps it up for my Sock Summit reporting. I really had a great time, and it's made me want to go to Meg Swansen's Knitting Camp, and generally to get more knitting done. As in DONE, not started--I spent most of my knitting time this weekend working on three projects that I haven't though about much at all this summer. They're not much further along, but it feels good to know that I'm working on them again!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

We Interrupt the Sock Summit posts . . .

Demetri Martin

. . . to say that even from the last row of the balcony (this photo is at max zoom), view partially obscured by tall person in front of me, Demetri Martin's show at the Moore Theater was really, really fun. And funny.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sock Summit Recap: Saturday

Sock Summit Saturday

Why, yes, it is taking me an alarmingly long time to finish posting about Sock Summit. And yes, the longer I wait, the tougher it is to comment intellegently. So, Saturday . . . what happened Saturday?? I took a full day class with Anne Hanson on Sock Design, and I do have a few photos to prove it. See above--I cast on the toe in the morning, and towards the end of day I had several inches foot! Anne's designs are so beautiful and complex, and (like Marjan Hammink) it's hard to believe that she's only been publishing patterns for a few years. I really wish that I'd sucked it up an finished my Bee Fields shawl to wear to class (and not just because the classroom was chilly in the morning).

This is the class that I was swatching patterns for, and even though I didn't really have as many as I'd liked, I did settle on a design that is starting to take shape. I'm knitting the top of the foot in twisted rib, with a lacy bud pattern from a Japanenese stitch dictionary moving across the top of the foot. During class, we talked about different ways handle designs, what types of patterns look good in which types of yarns, and a bunch of other useful stuff that I didn't write down but that I hope I will remember on an as-needed basis.

I sort of like the way my sock is turning out, but I think that the way the pattern runs into the ribs as it moves across the foot looks a little sloppy. Maybe if I'd framed the bud pattern with a couple of plain knit stitches it would look neater? I think that I need to work a little more of it before I veer from the plan. I went back to the hotel after class and worked on it a little longer, but haven't worked on it since, in favor of mindless knitting that I'll talk about in the Sunday wrap-up. Here's the sock toe as it stands now:


I can't help but think that I'd like the sock more if I LOVED the yarn, which I don't. The yarn is o.k., but I picked it more for stitch visibility and because there were 3 skeins available than because it's a color that inspires me. That's definitely something that I heard from both Anne and Marjan--the yarn and the pattern are really closely entwined for their designs. They have worked collaboratively with dyers to come up with a yarn that suits the design (or even more the inspiration for the design). This medium brown doesn't really say "Lacy Bud" to me, but it's not a bad yarn to work out some kinks with!

On Saturday evening, I went to the Ravelry Meetup for awhile, and met a few new folks who I recognized from online. The main event, though was drinks at the Kennedy School with my college friend B______ and E______, and then sweet, sweet, slumber. I remember when B____ and I used to be able to tear it up--rock shows 'til 2am, then out and about until later. I'm convinced I could still do that, if it wasn't for work and dachshunds interfering . . . .

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sock Summit Recap: Friday

Sock Summit!

I am sorry to say that I don't have any photos from my Friday class, "Respectfully Ignoring the Rules" with Marjan Hammink. It was tough getting up and out the door on Friday morning after all of the excitement of Thursday (probably combined with leftover fatigue from the heat / lack of sleep the week before the summit). It took a lot of energy to focus on the class, and there was none leftover for photography! I did really enjoy the class. I'm amazed at Marjan's designs, and learning more about her design process was also amazing. It's hard for me to believe that it's been only a few years since she started her business, and it was also inspiring to see her sample socks in person. I've knit her Empoisonnée socks and have her Kiila socks in progress, and I've got a several others in kits or in my queue. And now there will be more, and I want to start them all immediately (if I wasn't still so tired from Sock Summit, and from catching up at work & home).

The rest of Friday is (like much of the weekend) a blur. Right after class came the World Record attempt, and as circular knitting wasn't allowed, I started knitting this:

World Record Coaster

A simple coaster, using the same pattern as I used here, but with larger needles. I finished it during class on Saturday, and used it immediately even though the ends aren't woven in yet. I think that it's a nice reminder of the Summit, something small but useful.

After lunch on Friday was the author book signing, and the lines were super long. One of my goals during this sock summit was to not waste a lot of time standing in line, and this plan worked out well for me here. I waited until the very end of the signing, and had the four books above signed in less than 15 minutes. However, there was a downside--there were a few of books that I wasn't able to get signed, one because the author had already left, and another one or two because I'd left the book in my room and didn't have time to run back for it. That's the risk I ran, though, and I'd still do it again!

The top photo is ALL of the yarn I bought during the summit, not just the yarn I bought on Friday. I more or less kept to my budget, and ended up with some fabulous yarns from a variety of vendors, and I don't feel overwhelmed by the volume, so I'm pretty happy. For full details on the yarns above, check this link (my Ravelry stash, filtered for the socksummit tag). I was also able to meet the "no excessive line standing" while purchasing--since I spent a lot of time in the marketplace, I just went back later to places that had lines. I spent more on non-yarn purchases than I'd planned--a pair of clogs (tax-free!), and two sets of Signature double points. Yes, two sets.

On Friday evening, E___ and I met up with my college friend B_____ & her daughter for delicious Mexican food and even more delicious gelato. Exhaustion, complete!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sock Summit Recap: Thursday

Sock Summit - Aug 6, 2009

I'm back from Sock Summit, and I'm super tired. Seriously--I got at least 7 hours of sleep last night, had a relatively easy day at work, but had to nap through the first five innings of the Mariner's game (at home, not at the park). I had a really, really great time, and I'm certain not to do it justice, but I'll try to post the day-by-day recap over the next several days, even though Thursday is already really fuzzy to me.

First up, in the upper left are Meg Swanson and Amy Detjen, who taught my Elizabeth Zimmerman Moccasin Sock class. This was a class I manage to snag during the lottery, and although I'm not sure I see a lot of these socks in my future, this class was terrific. The amount of knowledge that Meg and Amy shared that was not even remotely related to the moccasins as we all knit away was well worth the price of admission. I'm not much of a sweater knitter (or finisher), I'm not a really flexible or reactive knitter, but I've got a strong urge to go to Knitting Camp.

I had a little trouble with my actual sock, in that I didn't bring extra knitpicks cables and when it would have been easiest to switch to a longer cable, the screw end of that cable was faulty. Although maybe I didn't try hard enough, because I think that I had used that cable with those tips before. It was a struggle to knit with the shorter cable, so after class was over I didn't make any more progress over the weekend. Anyway, now that I'm home, I can use another cable and hopefully pick up where I left off, and pretend I'm just hanging around with Meg and Amy while I knit. One of the wholly unrelated to class things that I learned was that Schoolhouse Press is reissuing (in English) the twisted stitch books in a single volume, and that they will be out SOON. I've ordered my copy--I'm so excited to find out how I've been screwing these patterns up by not knowing English!!!! I'm serious!!!

My friend E____ came out from Boston for Sock Summit, which made it extra fun. We were roommates for y-e-a-r-s when I lived there, and I taught her to knit by making her teach herself from Vogue Knitting's big reference book. I did agree to answer questions after she'd studied it, but I felt that forcing her to fend for herself proved that she was serious about learning (and she was). On Thursday, she took Knitting Vintage Socks with Nancy Bush, and said it was great--she made a really beautiful gusset (no hole!) on her in-class sock.

E___ and I didn't get tickets to the Opening Ceremonies, but I did check out the silent auction on my way back to the hotel, and one of my Barn Raising Squares is right there on the edge of the auctioned blanket! What a thrill--it's the purple/yellow/brown square! I think that there was a lottery for another blanket or two, but somehow I missed it completely, so I'm not sure what happened to the green square I made. You can ask E_____, or L_____, or E_____, or T_____--I was a (more than a) little bit insane during various parts of the weekend, so it's not surprising that I'd miss it. It started when we arrived at the hotel and saw Anne Hanson and Cookie A sitting outside on a bench, and just rolled forward from there.

The last photo (assuming you're reading clockwise from upper left) was taken at Voodoo Donuts in an after-dinner donut run. I selected the orange donut. It was covered in Tang, which made it, well, tang-y. It was delicious, and hilarious, and the perfect thing to eat at the end of a really, really long day.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A Gigantic Nuclear Furnace

Drawstring Bags for Sock Summit

The gigantic nuclear furnace that has been wielding it's power over the Seattle area in the last week has lightened up a bit. It's only 83 degrees in the house right now, and it's been cooling down at night, so it's bearable and I'm back to sewing bags for Sock Summit. I've outsourced my buttonhole problem to a professional, and while I wait for those to come back I've started on some drawstring bags. With a little help (thanks, Mom!), I think that I can get 15-20 of these done by the time I have to leave on Wednesday, without having to call in sick or take any of those stay-awake drugs. And since I just found someone to watch the dogs while I'm away (my original sitter fell through), I won't have to make service dog vests (fake) for them and say that they are for my social backwardsness disorder (probably real).

Now I just need to finish every knitting project I've ever started, clean up the house, and pack, and I'll be all set!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Two Toe Tuesday: Too Darn Hot

July 27, 2009

I have a confession, one that will probably neither shock nor surprise you. It's simply this--I usually write my "Two Toe Tuesday" entries on Monday night. Sometimes even earlier! There--I've come clean, and I have no regrets. Monday is very convenient for me, but "Two Toe Monday" just doesn't have the same ring at all.

I'm telling you this because it explains why I'm settling for pretty crappy photos of the Strawberry Van Dyke socks that I finished tonight (Monday). I had only the ribbing to knit, in sport weight yarn, but it took four hours to get through because it is so freaking hot in this house. 11pm, and the thermostat reads 88 degrees. Usually, if I'm close to finishing a sock in the evening, I will knit as fast as possible in hopes of getting some daylight for the photos. Tonight? Knit half a row. Get up for water. Knit a few more stitches. Spray some cold water on the ungrateful dachshunds. Knit a row. Get up to let the sweat pools evaporate. Etc. Same thing with the blog post--I can barely sit in front of the computer, and am having trouble concentrating.

Anyway, back to the photos. It nearly killed me to put on wool socks, so even though the photos aren't great, I am still going to use them. Above are three versions of the same photo, it's really hard to capture the intense redness of these socks (though maybe easier if I'd wait for daylight). The photo on the left is as-shot--no correction. The middle is the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button in Picasa, followed by changing to black and white. The right photo is the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button. I think that somewhere between the right and left would be perfect (both colorwise and sharpness), but I'm much too hot to tinker. The pattern is most visible on the black & white photo, but what I find most interesting is that these socks are medium value--I would have guessed dark.

It's not supposed to cool off until next weekend, which is not nearly soon enough. No air conditioning to sleep in, and a hot dachshund glued to my side? I have a feeling it's going to be a very cranky week, saved only by hiding in my cubicle during the daytime hours.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I Saw The Rain-Dirty Valley, You Saw Brigadoon

Enumclaw Highland Games

Went to the Highland Games in Enumclaw today. As you can see above, it was a lot of fun. I can't imagine what it was like tossing a caber, dancing, or piping in the heat. Just walking around all afternoon has me wiped out this evening, and I was certainly not wrapped in wool or wearing knee-high kilt hose! There was a ton of stuff to do and see (and eat and drink). There were some pretty off-beat and extremely unauthentic get-ups, but I guess I felt the same way about a number of outfits at the Berkeley Wilco show. As a very wise bluesman once said, after an audience member jumped up on stage to properly introduce the band (using blues nicknames that were made up on the spot), "Everybody wants to be in show business".

It's too hot to keep sewing tonight, and my buttonhole problem is not yet resolved. The machine is working fine for regular stitching, so I don't think that it's broken (fingers crossed--I really like the Bernina I have, and I will need to save up for awhile when it's time to replace it). It's also too hot to knit, or to sit around the house, or to move, or to do much of anything at all. I think that take-out dinner is in order, so that I can drive around in air-conditioning for awhile. I can already feel the cool!

I Saw The Rain-Dirty Valley, You Saw Brigadoon: The Waterboys, "Whole of the Moon"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I'm Buddy Rich When I Fly Off The Handle


I was hoping to finish up these bags today, they just need buttonholes. Three buttonholes each, ten bags, shouldn't take more than an hour or so, right? Wrong. The test buttonhole looked great, but the first buttonhole on an actual bag stalled halfway through. The machine kept sewing, but the fabric stopped feeding through, resulting in a huge tangle. The problem is still not fixed, even though I've tried the following remedies with not a single successful test buttonhole:
  • Cleaning & oiling the machine
  • Changing the top thread (I'm using buttonhole thread on the top, and regular thread on the bottom, but having both threads the same doesn't make a difference)
  • Fresh needle (heavyweight, since I'm sewing denim)
  • Changing the bobbin
  • Rethreading the bobbin for more bottom tension (recommended in the manual)
  • Changing the pressure on the presser foot
  • Using the manual buttonhole program instead of the automatic program

Needless to say, I've wasted hours, and I'm running out of ideas--or at least I'm running out of ideas that won't cost $50+ (like replacing the bobbin holder) or that will take longer than I have before Sock Summit (like taking it in for service). At this point, I've got my fingers crossed that it's related to it being 85+ degrees in the sewing room, and that when it cools down it will work.

Any suggestions? Before I move from anger to panic?

I'm Buddy Rich When I Fly Off The Handle: Beastie Boys, "Sabotage"

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Two Toe Tuesday: Frieda's Watching Out For These Two


Was it only six or so weeks ago that I couldn't bring myself to work on any socks? In May and June, I worked on blanket squares, and triangle shawls, a scarf, and even finished a really old baby sweater, but barely any socks. Evidently, those days are over--I've pretty much only worked on socks for the last month, except for the 4th of July dishcloth. I'm even close to finishing another pair--I'm just about ready to to start the gussets on the second Strawberry Van Dyke (on the right). As mentioned previously, this pattern is from Wendy Johnson's new sock book. The instructions are really good, and I like the fit, but it's a little bit boring, lace-wise. The color is so bright, though, that it doesn't really need a lot of other stuff going on. I can't say enough good things about this Yarntini sport weight yarn--it's squooshy, it's vibrant, and it knits up wicked fast (as they say in Boston).

I'm also pretty close to finishing the first Sock Summit logo sock (on the left). The Sock Summit sock colors are growing on me more now that I'm in the real colorwork section, but I still sort of wish I'd gone with a more solid black and a solid (or even slightly more solid) contrasting color. In Boston, I picked up some gorgeous Shelridge Farm yarn that would be perfect--and by "picked up", I mean that E____ ordered it for me when she ordered the yarn she needs for her Sock Summit class, and it arrived while I was there. A solid black, and a limey green--maybe for another pair?

Monday, July 20, 2009

Won't You Let Me Walk You Home From School

July 19, 2009-1

Ah, the double-edged sword of knitting conferences. On the one hand, it's a lot of fun, and there is a lot to learn. On the other hand, there's the homework. I was able to pick up an extra class and a couple of one-hour-wonders in the Sock Summit lottery, so my class lineup is now complete and there isn't a lot of opportunity to procrastinate. Here's what I'm in:
  • Thursday: EZ Moccasin Socks (homework above, left)
  • Friday: Respectfully Ignoring the rules (homework involves thinking rather than knitting--not really started)
  • Saturday: Sock Design (homework above, right)
  • Sunday: Turkish Stitches (homework is minimal) and The Perfect Rib (no homework)
The EZ Moccasin Socks class homework is finished, it was super fast to knit because I'm using Cascade 220 superwash. Let's hear it for the speed of worsted! I might try to knit the other cuff so that I'm ready to knit the bottoms of both socks. I have been known to lose momentum on class projects once class is over (though not always), so having both of the socks ready to go could help motivate me to finish them. Are you wondering about the purple item behind the sock? It's my new yarn bowl! I love it--my friend L____'s mother is a ceramics artist (potter? stoneware lady? ceramicist?) and made a few of these using L_____'s specifications. It easily holds the ball of Cascade 220, and has fully contained the yarn tangle that I had to pull out to find the end of the yarn. And it looks a lot classier than the miscellaneous fabric and ziploc bags I'm always hauling around. I was surprised by how much I loved the purple / black among the choices she brought to knit-night, purple's not usually one of my favorites.

Anyway, back to homework. The Sock Design class homework. I could swatch for it indefinitely, and this is really just a start. I'm swatching a pattern from a Japanese stitch dictionary (photocopy in the corner), and there are several others from the same book that I'd like to try out. I may also use something from the Bavarian Twisted Stitch books that a friend in Germany gave to me last year. In both cases, I'm not 100% sure that I'm reading the foreign language charts the right way, but I'm sure I'll come up with something! I'm really into twisted rib, as you can see, so I expect I'll incorporate that somehow.

I don't really mind the homework at all, because it should help me get more out of the classes (and believe me, I didn't always feel that way during business school). I've been in knitting classes before where it would have been better to have homework in advance in order to get to the "good stuff", rather than spending a ton of time winding yarn into balls or knitting set-up ribbing. In most of those cases, the teacher had specific, special yarn requirements so there wasn't an opportunity to, say, cast on and K (or rib) 15 rows beforehand, or even to swatch for gauge. The classes that I'm taking at Sock Summit are more technique oriented, which is why it's good that we're preparing ahead of time for specific techniques. I just hope that by the time E___ and I head to PDX, I've done my homework correctly, and enough of it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Knitting Math For Fun And Education

500 Days of Summer = About 35 Rows of Sockinette Sock (beginning of movie marked with white marker):


That's a lot more than I expected to get through--I rarely go to the movies, and I don't normally have a project on hand that I can knit for a long time in the dark. I liked the movie a lot, but where is there really a karaoke bar that features "Here Comes Your Man"? And if so, do they also have "Wave of Mutilation" and "La La Love You"? Doolittle is such a great album, I had to listen to it on the way home.

This is a pair of plain socks I started so that I could take them to Boston, and then forgot to pack them. The other items I forgot to take were books (one of which I ordered specifically for the trip) and lip balm. Not as bad as forgetting a hairbrush, but I still missed all of these things. Anyway, the socks are Socks That Rock lightweight in the "Sockgate" colorway, and the pattern is the Slip Stitch Heel sock (Rav Link) from Wendy Johnson's new book. I'm sort of thinking about using one of her other heels, so as not to interrupt the striping so much, but I may knit this heel and see how it looks before changing. Or maybe I can dig out some complimentary solid-ish yarn for contrasting heel--I'm sure I've got something that would work!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

For L_______, if You're Reading This


For Liberty: Not that I think you're worried, but I wanted to give you some proof that I'm making good progress on the bags for your booth at Sock Summit. The production line is moving, with pockets applied to 10 bags this morning and a ton of handles cut. Next step--turn these suckas into bags! And I believe that I'm about to rope in another worker or two.

I really want to make more raspberry lime jam this weekend, but since it's so hot I'm going to hold off until tomorrow morning--jam hands and production line sewing do not mix!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Two Toe Tuesday: My Cabana Boy


Summer socks are heating up! I was right that these socks didn't need much more before they were done--I opted not to take them with me to Boston because there was just a toe to knit (and graft). I was worried that I'd finish the sock and then lose it, or leave it at E____'s--those are totally plausible things to be worried about!

These are the Cabana Boy socks, knit from Yarntini semi-solid sport yarn in the Cabana Boy colorway. The pattern resembles Cotty (Rav Link), except that I knit the first three or four inches incorrectly (one pattern row, one knit row instead of one pattern row, THREE knit rows) and decided to just go with it. The are really vibrantly colored, and squishy, and they were pretty quick to knit because the cuff is not super long. They took about a month to finish, which is pretty good considering that I didn't work on them exclusively (and not at all over the last week-ish). Overall, I like them--the picot edge is cute, and since they are pretty short there isn't a lot of danger that the socks will get all slouchy. They should look cute with clogs, too!

Monday, July 13, 2009

It's Always So Much More Work to Come Home

July 11, 2009 - Lowell, MA

I know that it's probably because I kept waking hours that not at all correspond to Pacific time, but I'm much more wiped out after flying back to Seattle this morning than I was flying to Boston on the redeye.

The Wilco show was great, although it was cut short by TORRENTIAL RAIN. The concert was at a minor league ballpark, so the sound was not as good as it was at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, but I enjoyed the crowd much more. For some reason, I find Boston hipsters tolerable and entertaining, where the Berkeley hipsters rubbed me the wrong way--probably because at one time I was a Bostonian in my 20s, so I know more or less what to expect with them. The set list was similar to Berkeley, and the energy was really good, and it was really great to go to a show with seven people--more people to hold our space, scout out the ballpark, carry the blankets, and (of course) pick up beer! Conor Oberst (in the top left photo) opened the show, and I was disappointed. I have (and like) one of his Bright Eyes albums, so maybe my expectations were too high. Based on what Wikipedia says (and it makes sense, and is a totally valid artistic choice), he's more interested in immediacy than heavily polished songcraft--some of the songs felt overly ernest to me, and could have benefitted from some heavy editing. I mean, I know I'm no longer in the indie-rock target demographic, but it was hilarious to see frat guys singing along as if their souls had been saved by a song about ten women. Maybe without that visual, it wouldn't have seemed so ridiculous? I'm sure that I felt the same way at that age about bands I've forgotten now. Anyway, that set could have been shorter, given that the last 30-45 minutes of Wilco's set was rained out.

Here's a little video clip, where you can see the rain. I'm serious when I said it was pouring--you can see the rain in the lights around the 8 sec mark!!!

In concert knitting news, I worked a couple of inches of the gussets on the Strawberry Van Dykes at the show, and finished the first sock on the plane ride home. The socks aren't as tall as I'd have liked, but I was worried about running out of yarn partway through a repeat. The pattern is a little boring, but it was really easy to knit on the road (when I paid attention, that is), and with a red that bright the pattern is secondary in any case. Toe #2 is on the needles now!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Quick Update From Somerville


Still on vacation . . . sock still on track . . . having dinner & drinks & cake shortly with some good friends . . . Wilco tomorrow . . . no complaints!

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Everybody Loves the Red-Eye

I'm in Boston, but it feels like I just barely made it. I nearly missed my flight last night because I thought that the departure was 20 minutes later than it was, and I underestimated the size of the late night security line. Fortunately, I just made it (and the gate agents were really nice about it, which made me feel a little less like an idiot). I hate being late for things, and I normally arrive really early if there's any doubt about the timing, and this was a good reminder of why that's still a good policy for me--I'd much rather be a little bored at the gate than running through an airport, stressed out.

Anyway, I'm relaxing comfortably in Somerville now, and look what was waiting for me when I arrived:


Gorgeous socks! That I didn't have to knit myself! E____ knit them for my birthday (this is the first time I've been back here since then), and they came in very handy during my traditional post-redeye nap. The pattern is from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks, and the yarn is some that she bought when we went to Portland awhile back. They fit really well, and the yarn is beautiful!!!! I love them, with the simple rib and the star toe!!!!!

Speaking of socks, I had a dilemma when packing for this trip. The foot of the second Cabana Boy sock is almost done, but I didn't want to end up finishing the toe and grafting it on the plane, and then only have the other two projects I brought (both of which require a lot of attention) to fall back on. So in my quest to avoid one toe, I started another one:


Whew, that's bright! It's the second installment of the yarntini semi-solid club, Strawberry Fields. It's sport weight, and I'm knitting the Van Dyke pattern (Rav Link) by Wendy Johnson. The brightness of the yarn came in really handy on the plane--I wanted to start the toe & work on it a bit, but my row-mates were trying to sleep so I didn't want to put on the overhead light. I was able to work this using the light that was coming from the row behind & in front. I'm a little concerned that my gauge is too tight, but since the pattern is given in multiple sizes I may just go up a size and see how that goes--my efforts to buy alternate needles earlier today were wholly thwarted. The first store I went to had no Addis below a size 10-ish, and the second store is closed for vacation, and a third store that I called is not open on Thursday. The other stores involve more driving than I want to do this afternoon--I'm on vacation, I want to just read and knit!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Hey, Baby, It's the Fourth of July (yesterday)

July 04, 2009

So maybe the fireworks setting on my camera isn't quite as awesome as I had hoped? Or maybe I need to be right under the fireworks for it to work really well? I can always try again next year!

Even though it's been really hot here, I've had a really productive couple of days (in purely non-work arenas):

July 05, 2009

I finished the Red, White, and Blue Linoleum Dishcloth (except for weaving in the ends) yesterday evening, after a brief stall when I tried to work on it without referring to the pattern. If I can get the first 5 or 6 stitches right on a row I'm in good shape, but I really need to check those stitches against the pattern. I'm planning to knit more of these, so I should probably just chart it out--a visual reminder would be a very good thing! In cooking news, I've cooked up two batches of jam, one batch of balsamic peach quick pickles, and some almond fruit bars using the jam (not pictured - eaten). Here's a quick rundown of sources / mods for those items:

Strawberry Balsamic Jam: Really delicious, the balsamic vinegar changes the flavor a little but the jam doesn't taste vinegar-y at all. I made a batch a couple of weekends ago, and the "leftover" jam that wouldn't fill a jar was so tasty that it's already gone. Local strawberries are also almost gone for the year (there are a number of farms in our area), so I am very tempted to run out and get more so that I can make another kind of strawberry jam as well. I modified the recipe by adding 1/2 a packet of pectin to ensure that it would gel.

Raspberry Lime Jam: This jam turned out very tart, so much so that I was tempted to add more sugar at the very end of the cooking. However, after tasting it on toast and in the almond fruit bars, I'm very happy with the tartness. Instead of using lemon juice and orange zest, I used fresh squeezed lime juice and lime zest, and I used a little more lime juice than was called for (because I had already squeezed it). This could help explain the tartness. It's kind of a pain to strain out half of the seeds, but it's nice not to have so many seeds in the finished jam.

Balsamic Peach quick pickles: Peaches on sale! I'm pretty sure they aren't local, but I wanted to try out this recipe from Quick Pickles (which seems to be going out of print). The ingredients are simple: peaches, balsamic vinegar, sweet vermouth, pineapple juice. The flavor hasn't fully developed yet, but I think that they will be great on ice cream, or warmed up and served with grilled pork. Yum . . . grilled pork!

Almond Fruit Bars: I used the raspberry lime jam to fill these bars, and they turned out really, really well. They were also simple to make--no exotic ingredients, just things from the pantry. I doubled the recipe and used a pan that was a little less than double the 8 x 8 recommended size, so they may be a little thicker than recommended but no issues.

I'm off to Boston for a quick vacation (more like a long weekend than a vacation), so today needs to be more about WORK productivity than kitchen productivity. But I'm really tempted to go and pick up more berries, before they are gone!!

Hey, Baby, It's the Fourth of July: X, Fourth of July.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Two Toe . . . Uh, What Day is This?


I can't believe it's July already, and that it's already the second to last workday of this week. I'm also having trouble believing that I picked up and stored together no fewer than six pair of unfinished socks in my quest to neaten up my knitting for my brother & nephew's visit this weekend *. Nor can I believe that upon turning the heel of this Orion Sock while drinking (only one) beer at the Wilco show, this baby fits like a glove. Maybe I should stop being incredulous, and just roll with it?
* note that two pair have been on hold because I misplaced the patterns, which I also found while I was cleaning up, so there is some hope that I'll continue with those pairs soon.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sunlight on the Lino Woke Me With A Shake

Yes, I was holding a piece of kibble.

Over the past several months, I've been working a little at a time on some dishcloths. I'm using basic kitchen cotton from cheap craft stores, the cool Linoleum Dishcloth pattern (Rav Link), and just going a little at a time on them. It's a nice, nubby pattern, and if I could bear to clean dishes with these cloths, they'd do a really good job. The pattern is a two color slip stitch pattern, so it's very thick, and I expect it will be durable. It's likely that these are destined to be housewarming / hostess gifts, or they'll just pile up until I run out of cotton (sometime in 2010). I'm currently knitting one in red, white, & blue for the 4th of July, maybe Halloween next? Or should I skip right over to Christmas?

Here are some outtakes from the photo above, which basically mean that I need to wash these before I give them away. My favorite is Frieda jumping and licking her lips, too fast to be captured in pixels:

June 29, 2009

Maybe instead of washing, I should just give fair warning that they've had close contact with both dachshund and patio--I'd hate for them to look "used" before they are even out of the house!

Sunlight on the Lino Woke Me With A Shake: Squeeze, "Goodbye Girl"

Sunday, June 28, 2009

When We're Not Sure We're Not Alone

Wilco @ The Greek Theater

Whenever I plan to post about a concert, I have the best intentions of infusing my post with the pure rock emotion of the actual show, and I fail every time. I'm not a poetic, lyrical writer, as much as I'd like to be, which makes it difficult. I'm a boiler-down of ideas, if not a master-summarizer, with a small side order of humor and self-reflection. A very small side order. Any attempts to stray from my writing style reeks of smarmy-ness, which isn't really an issue if I'm writing about knitting, or dachshunds, or baseball, but I worry that it flattens out the rock show experience into Wesley-Willis-style reviews. You know, "I went to the rock show. There were about 100 people at the show. The rock show was awesome, it whooped the camel's ass" (for those of you unfamiliar with Wesley Willis, this is as close to a direct song quote as I can get without digging out a cd). Plus, while I take a lot of (semi-focused, point and shoot) photos, I don't write down anything during shows, so while I remember many of the hideously 80's inspired clothes that todays youth were unfortunately wearing, I can't faithfully recreate a set list--basically, I'm short on useful details, and long on tangents.

Anyway, that's a lot of space to apologize in advance if I undersell the Wilco show I saw last night at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, because it was truly a great show. Possibly the best Wilco show I've ever seen, with perfect sound, an incredible venue, and incredible energy. Note that I say this even though I tripped and badly turned my ankle almost immediately after getting out of my car, which made standing on concrete (and getting jostled by stoned hipsters) for hours physically uncomfortable. And if you are my brother K____ and reading this, I turned my ankle before having a single, 12-oz Heineken, so no smart comments.

Wilco's new album is coming out on Tuesday (currently streaming live here), and they mixed in the new songs with the old, which is always a plus--I hate to go to a show and hear one or two old songs, then an entire new album that I haven't heard yet, a couple of other old songs, and then one big hit as an encore. Stylistically, maybe it makes sense, but as a live-music consumer (ugh, what an awful term), I don't like it--it's too compartmentalized. Anyway, Wilco's set was really well balanced, if a little light on songs from their first album. I think that every album was represented in the set list, but I don't always remember which songs are on which albums so I can't say for sure. They didn't play my all-time favorite two-song Wilco combo (Blue Eyed Soul and Too Far Apart from A.M.), but maybe next time? Pretty please? You want song highlights, and not just the two songs that I wished I'd heard? I loved "You Are My Face", and "Hate It Here", and "Spiders (Kidsmoke)" is a really great live song. And I could go on and on.

Now a little something for the knitting-only readers: Since I was travelling by myself and am unfamiliar with the Berkeley area, I arrived over an hour before the doors opened, so I had a long wait & was glad that I brought some knitting. Then it was another long wait before Okkervil River (who were also really good--must get one of their albums immediately) went on. I had a nice shady spot in line and in the theater, and I managed to finish the gusset and turn the heel of the first SS09 sock, as documented in the iPhone photo below. I'm a little afraid to pick it up today, in case I made any mistakes. Also, although the photo is very fuzzy, there was a sock monkey onstage. A semi-goth, charcoal/black striped sock monkey.

Wilco sock related

O.K, this post is taking way too long, and it's time to ice my ankle again. Comment away, if you want more details about the show, the sock, the sock monkey, or the ankle.

"When We're Not Sure We're Not Alone": Wilco, "You Are My Face"