Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hey Laura!

Happy belated Memorial Day, to all who celebrate. I was so excited and touched to see my friend, Major Laura featured in the most recent Knitting Daily email. (You might remember me mentioning her a few times in the past.)

Here's the picture from the Knitting Daily email of her knitting socks while in her ACU's (uniform), in case you didn't see it:
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(Laura, if it's not ok to have this on the blog, let me know and I'll take it down.)

I met Major Laura in Georgia; we were part of the same Stitch N Bitch there (along with Becca, who's still living there). Laura was deployed to Iraq a little while before I moved here to Germany. Miss you Laura! (And you too, Becca!)

I've cast on for the Diagonal Cross Rib socks by Ann Budd from Favorite Socks, and currently the pattern seems to be working well with the yarn. This is one of the book's brand new patterns, previously unpublished in an Interweave publication. Photos when I've got more to show for it!

Also, to the spinners: make sure you go to Needles On The Move and sign up for the Sunday Spin Along! Fiber prizes, new fingers are just itching to start. She's just posted the first tutorial (go to her May 27th entry to download), and...well, I've just bought myself a new set of bobbins. It was inevitable.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My Green Gables (and the rogue Niddy-Noddy)

Anne of Green Gables was (and still is) a childhood favorite. I think that I read through that book at least 5 times, and then maybe once through all of the following ones in the series. I always got this very special, "home" like feeling when reading. Someday I'm going to purchase the whole set of books to read to the children when they're a little older.

It is perhaps for that reason that I waited for so long to spin this particular Spunky Club colorway, Green Gables. I wanted to wait until I really knew what I was doing, so that I could do it justice. Well that, and also Green is my favorite color. (Closely followed by blue, yellow, and pink.)

I started with a beautiful 4 oz bump of semi-solid superwash Merino roving from the Spunky Club (April, '06). I wanted the bits of yellow to appear in little blips throughout, maintaining the "semi-solid" feel, and not have any seriously bright yellow stripes (I adore yellow, but sometimes things just need to be muted down a bit). In the photo below, you can see the three stages of color organization and drafting, from the left: I split it into thirds horizontally as equally as I could, than stripped it vertically as thinly as possible into long pieces. The pieces were then drafted out, rolled into balls, and stored until I was ready to use them.
I spun three bobbins up, and apparently I wasn't as even as I thought, because there was a whole lot left on two bobbins after the one ran out. I didn't want to Navajo-ply the remainders, because then that would concentrate the color into strips, making the yarn completely different from the other three ply. Instead, I decided to just ply the two together for a laceweight.

Fingering weight, with quarter for scale:
Laceweight, with quarter for scale:
The top skein is 352 yards of fingering weight 3-ply, and the bottom is 134 yards laceweight 2-ply.
Green Gables
I was so pleased, because when plied, it makes a fairly consistent fingering weight (some parts a bit thinner).

I spun the singles (long-draw method) pretty tightly, then plied it firmly to make a tough sock yarn.

Merino has a short staple with not a whole lot of crimp, so the thinner and more tightly it's spun, the less likely the individual fibers are to drift out and cause fuzzing, pilling and general wear. Also, 3-ply yarn wears harder than 2-ply, which is why I took the time to spin up three bobbins worth. If I'm going to take the time to spin the yarn, knit the socks, than walk all over in them, they'd better last! (I'm also going to knit the toes and heels in a smaller needle to help with the wear factor as well.)

The laceweight is just enough for a perfectly "spring" leaf-lace ascot or open, breezy headscarf.

Something kind of funny -- when I purchased my niddy-noddy, I was certain that I had chosen the 1-1/2 yard one. I was always kind of frustrated with myself for doing so, because it makes the math a little trickier. I was also frustrated, because no matter how thinly I would spin, I wouldn't get the expected yardage out of a 4 ounce hunk of roving. Last night, I finally decided to wind a piece of yarn around it, then lay it out flat and measure. Two yards. Whoops. Well, that's a relief. (And I feel just a bit addled in the head, but, you know.)

I think that Anne would be proud.

Now to cast on!

Sunday, May 27, 2007


To all of the spinners out there: I hope that you know about Abby's plying tutorial, currently in progress on her blog. I love her color choices, her skill, and most of all the willingness to share with the rest of us. I can't wait for the next installment!

The fact is, I really can't wait, because...
All of the Green Gables is spun up. If I get a chance to ply it tonight, I will. Do now, learn from Abby later. =)

It's hard to believe, but this project is more than a month old. I didn't spin at all for the two weeks my in-laws were here (I was very absorbed in the purple socks that were also taking a very long time), so I just left this on the wheel. Because I was spinning this so finely (the singles are a mostly fine laceweight), it was challenging, and really needed a good amount of concentration and consistency. In other words, stopping to take care of children and nursing a baby over and over did nothing to contribute speed or anything else to the project.

I've decided that I really need more bobbins. I only have four, and that just plain sucks when I get tired of one thing mid project (or realize that I've bitten off more than I can chew at the moment), and would like to move on to something else for a while. Even the ability to just switch back and forth between fibers and such would be nice. Kind of like having at least two things on the needles. Because it's going to cost me though, I've been putting it off. I'll probably wait on purchasing them for another month or so, but I'm sure I'll do it eventually. For now, it's one thing at a time.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Chocolate and under-aged drinking

Does anyone remember when I said I'm only knitting for myself? I lied.
These are for my mom.

I've been working on this bit of spinning for a while now:
Like, a while meaning a few weeks. Everything is terribly slow at the moment, with Daisy needing to be held so much.

At the store the other day, I saw this next to the yogurt.
Yes, it's refrigerated Belgian Chocolates. There were about 10 truffles in there, individually wrapped. I've become terribly picky about chocolate, and am not easily impressed. This looked like a total gimmik, but it piqued my interest, so I sprung for it. Oh my gosh. I wish that I could send each of you, my readers, a can of this. Or 10. It's so good. Unfortunately, it has to stay chilled...

On Saturday, we went to this food tasting at a local gourmet food botique. Here is what we came home with:
From left: Saffron, French Sea Salt (harvested from the surface of the ocean, supposed to be the purest form possible. Not to be cooked with, but instead sprinkled over a finished dish. Very good!), Waldmeister liquer (literally translated, "Master of the forest", but is actually what we call "Sweet Woodruff" in the US), Quitten Liquer (quince), Olive/sun-dried tomato tapenade, sweet German musterd.

When we got home, all of the boys took shots of the Waldmeister.


The Germans are wild about this flavor. They drink the liquer straight, throw a shot of it into a pint of beer, every Eis shop makes this flavor of ice cream, they also make a flavored syrup that can be served over ice cream, stirred into drinks. The children's playground has a Waldmeister slushy. It is seriously everywhere. The flavor is reminiscent of vanilla, almonds, amaretto, marzipan, freshly mown hay. I've heard that people even use the fresh herb on poultry.

Three days ago I wanted to bake beer bread, so the boys and I went out in search of a bottle.

The lady at the store also encouraged me to buy this "cola + beer". I tried it when I got home, and thought it was quite bad. Sparky, on the other hand, thought differently.


He was only allowed to drink a few sips, but he loved every one of them

Monday, May 21, 2007

For the love of all things sock

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Thanks to Nadine (or no thanks?), I've discovered a sort of LYS in my area. I say sort of, because it isn't just right around the block, but it's certainly within easy driving distance. Tausendschon (you can plug the web address into this translator if German is not your native tongue) not only sells Noro, Rowan, and Debbie Bliss, but also has a line of handpainted sock yarn, starting at under 9 euro a skein -- and only one skein is enough for a pair of socks! Some of them are semi-solids... I must visit.

Speaking of sock yarn, I'm expecting a package any day now of some stuff I'm pretty excited about. One skein of it will be for my Sockapalooza pal's socks. You won't be able to believe that I haven't tried this type of yarn yet. I'll post more when it arrives.

Yesterday, Max was running around like this:
(Note the too small sunglasses, too big slippers, dirty face, worn-out jeans, monster truck video in the background)

And then some Daisy action shots:

I know, really exciting, right?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ilga's sock

So. I'd gotten this far on my sock ("Ilga's Socks" from Favorite Socks). As you can see, there are live stitches at the bottom, so you probably know what's coming, right?
I decided to google "Ilga's Socks". According to Google, as far as the online world is concerned, only one person has ever actually completed these. After studying hers for a few moments (and they are lovely, by the way!), I noticed that she had ribbing at the top. I tried mine on. There's no way in heck these are going to stay up with the Latvian Braid (besides the fact that the "braid" is a little heavy, the entire first few inches of the sock are fair-isle, than the rest of the sock is plain, cream stockinette, so the weight of all the colorwork would just drag it down). Now, it's possible that they won't stay up anyway, but I'm not willing to knowingly knit something that won't even be functional.

It finally got so tangled at the end that I just cut it off. Fair-isle is kind of tough to ravel.

I cast on for it again, but didn't like what I was doing with the ribbing, and then noticed I'd made a mistake. Let's not discuss it, for the sake of my suffering pride. I may cast on again today. Now that I've given it a few days, I think that I have the heart to start again.

In other news, look what I got in the mail this week!
Max: "This is mine."

As expected, the book is funny, warm, and full of Stephanie's witty style. It took a moment to get used to the format of the book, but I love it. This has been in my hands anytime that knitting can't be (nursing Daisy, etc.) I'll be reviewing it in the next episode of the podcast.

Yesterday, I planted my first garden!
I've been wanting one for a few years now, but we've been moving around too much. Finally, I realized that there is a way to work it in a small space. The most important thing to me is having fresh herbs on hand. I have a roof-top wintergarden (almost like a porch, but more like the roof has just been cut off of a room adjacent to the kitchen -- I'm totally building one into my eventual dream-house!), and there were some long planters left behind from former tennents. Some friends gave us some potting soil and compost when they moved a few months all I had to do was get the herbs! This is only day two -- I've never been successful with household plants, so we'll see how I do. I think that with them right outside the kitchen though, in plain sight, that I might actually remember to take care of them. I'll keep you posted.

Ever since Sea Silk first came out, I've been longing to use some. For whatever reason, I never got around to it. Then I noticed 150 gram skeins on the Loopy Ewe site. In a semi-solid colorway. I might have...
Oh yes.

(She's got only three colorways left, if you're interested! This skein size was a mistake, and probably won't come around again!)

Now I just need to get my hands on some Fleece Artist Sea Wool. Pixie, Agean, or really any of the nearly-solid colorways... I'm really trying to have self control at the moment though. Really, what good is the yarn going to do if it just sits there in the stash? I've already got enough stockpiled for a little while... (who am I kidding? What's enough?)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Daisy's fashion shoot, part 1

The socks are done! I've decided that, besides the Sockapalooza socks I'll be knitting for my pal, I'm only knitting for myself right now. I need a little bit of spoiling from time to time, and that time is now.
These are the most comfortable pair of socks I've knit for myself thus far, although I wouldn't have known it by the way the pattern looks. It's so stretchy though, and fits perfectly. This project did have it's share of headaches though. I don't think I really blogged about it, but I had to knit the toe on one of the socks 5 times, and twice on the other. This has never happened to me before. Maybe I'm distracted, maybe my row gauge is WAY off, but in the end, I knit 4 extra pattern repeats, didn't knit any of the 4 plain rows before the toe decreases, and now they fit like a dream. Just like that. (BTW, my feet are size 8-1/2, so similarly sized knitters, be forewarned.)

Let's take a little closer look at that pattern:
This picture is exactly true to color -- the one above is just a bit dark.


Pattern: Child's French Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush
Yarn: Lorna's Laces in Grapevine
Needles: Susan Bates, aluminum DPN's, set of 4
Notes: 5 extra pattern repeats, for a total of 25 from cuff to toe. Did not knit the 4 plain rows between last pattern rep and decreases for toe.

Yesterday, I wound up the yarn for this project:
And I got this far:
I love colorwork. It's like painting with yarn. Once I got into the rhythm of reading the charts and using both hands to wrap and throw each color, it became almost meditative. There's nothing fast about it though, and we're going to be watching a lot of movies this week, since my husband has a bunch of days off. So I'm probably going to cast on for something simple tonight as a Movie Knit.
Here, Daisy models (unwillingly) some of her handknits:
Booties: Ribbed Cuff by Fiber Trends
Hat: Rosebud (with no rosebuds) from Itty Bitty Hats

Hat: Bunny Ears (modified as "Bear Ears") from Itty Bitty Hats
Booties: Berry Baby Booties by Rachel Abrams

These were knitted by my blogging partner Sarah when Max was born. Unfortunately he was born with huge feet, and they never fit him. I'm not sure where she got the pattern, but they're so cute!

Just so that you don't think Daisy just wails non-stop, here's my current view:
Just kissable.

More knits will be modeled in the next post.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I'm an interrupted crafter

Lately, I've had to steal moments of time to be creative. And the phrase "stealing moments" certainly shouldn't lead to you to believe that these moments are strung together in any way. There's been a little too much of this:
And not nearly enough of this:
Last night was the first time that she let me sleep 4 hours in a row. And she did it twice (in that one night!)! Thank God for sleep. And I'm not "thanking" lightly. I never realize how humanizing it is to get some decent rest until I'm denied it for several weeks in a row.

However, despite the distractions and exhaustion, I've managed to create a quilted note-card set. I've been wanting a set like this for a while, to use for correspondence, and I feel a huge sense of accomplishment to have gotten these done. It "only" took me about a week to complete.
Here's a close up of one of them:
(Both pictures click for bigger)

Remember how I said that I was going to send out the prizes for the "Name That Baby" contest at the end of last week?
How about today? Right.

So I've gotten a lot of things done. Not in a timely manner, by any means, but they are complete.

Now if I could just finish that second French sock... (at this rate, it's a good thing I'm in the Slow-poke knitalong!!)

Friday, May 04, 2007

All the pretty packages/yarn shop review

So sorry about all of those ancient posts showing back up from my archives! I had to adjust a few things, so I had to go all the way back to the beginning. Anyway, that's done now, so now on to the packages from the other day.

In the floral one, there were some of the cutest tiny girl clothes from my blogging partner, Sarah. As you might imagine, I was wholly unprepared for a little girl's arrival, so these were much appreciated. Not only that, but if you look closely (or click the picture for bigger), you'll be able to read the words "worth the wait" on the pink shirt at left. I actually had a catch in my throat when I read that, because it describes how I feel about Daisy exactly. I had no idea how much I wanted a girl until I had her. And then there was the literal fact that she came 9 days after my due date, so the phrase works both ways.
Sarah, you're so sweet. Thank you.

In the other package, was some stash enhancement from The Loopy Ewe.
You can't see it very well, but there's also some sage green at left. This is all Louet Gems fingering weight and Panda Cotton. I've never tried either, and I have some colorwork socks planned with the Louet. The Panda Cotton will probably be some stretchy ankle socks for summer. Quick and comfy.

So what's the buzz over The Loopy Ewe anyway? It seems that the name is being dropped at blogs everywhere across the internet these days. Well, for me, part of it has to do with Sheri's stellar customer service. Check this out:
And that's not because she thinks I'm extra special or knows me from anywhere. That's a handwritten note because that's just how she thanks every single customer. And it's not just a generic "Thanks!" (although no offense to those who do that -- "thanks" is nice too !). It actually has to do with my order (she's getting more colors of Panda Cotton in soon!), and she also includes a few yarn samples (this time there was some Cherry Tree HillSupersock and Lorna's Laces wound around the cards at top right), and a "My Favorite Sock Recipient & Their Stats" card. Previous cards have included a needle inventory, among others.

Another reason why this store is getting so much mention is their customer referral service. For instance, if you've never shopped there, but now after reading this post click on this link and make your first purchase there, I will get $5 credited to my account. Pretty cool, huh? You can register any blog or website that you have, and all "click throughs" will be credited to your account.

My favorite feature is the frequent shopper perks. Every time that you spend $250 there, you get $25 credited to your account. Now, that's a lot of sock yarn, but...I'm pretty sure that I'm capable of hitting that mark (possibly sooner rather than later?)!

Last but not least is the Loopy Groupie thing. You just have to click to see what I'm talking about.

Speaking of socks, (was I?) I've opened a "secret person" email account and have begun a dialog with the person I'm knitting Sockapalooza socks for. I didn't do that last year, and later was sad that I hadn't. Being able to get to know your pal through the knit along not only richens the experience for everyone, but also reassures your giftee that you're thinking of them, and that socks are indeed in the works. If you have not yet contacted your pal, I encourage you to do so!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Sparky Socks and the Named Baby

On Sunday, I completed the Sparky Socks that have been hanging out on the needles all month.

Pattern: Based on Easy Toddler Socks (PDF) by Karen Coron.
Yarn: Online Euro Yarns, Green/black/brown from the Sierra colorway line (I bought it down the street, but you can get some of the other colorway lines at The Loopy Ewe)
Needles: Knitpicks Classic Circulars, size #1. Knit two socks at the same time with Magic Loop technique (nothing magic about it, kids, once you start a pair, it just makes sense and it's very simple.)
Notes: I really like that this pattern uses a heel flap. The socks fit Sparky very well, and I don't think they'll slip right off of him like the short-row heels that I've knit for him in the past.
Thoughts on the yarn: I bought this yarn because it was inexpensive, accessible (down the street!), and I was in the mood for some self-striping mindlessness. As it turns out, this yarn not only knit up prettily, but it's also softer than I would have thought. I can tell that this is going to wear very well, similar to Lion Brand Magic Stripes, but with none of the stiffness. I will certainly knit with this again. (I've already got a purple color for myself.)

Some fun stuff came in the mail yesterday:
But you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see what's in it. (No, I'm not being mean on purpose, but I haven't taken pictures of the contents yet.) (OK, so I'm being a little mean, and by now, I could have had the time to get my camera out and snap a few shots, but...right. Tomorrow it is.)

And now, regarding the baby naming contest:

I introduce to you
My tiny Daisy.

(Photo taken just before my brother and sister left to go back to the States)

Winning entry was suggested by (blogless?) Jessica. Daisy is not only April's flower, but it also represents "innocence", and it even sounds great with Sparky and Max.

Runners up were Susanne (also blogless?), for most heartwarming entry (her two sons got in on the contest and had their own suggestion of Princess Leia from Star Wars), and Chase, for most names (22!) submitted.

Thanks to everyone who entered, it was so much fun reading everyone's suggestions! I'm contacting the winners for their addresses, and yarn preferences. (Chase, no worries, just candy for you.) Prizes will be mailed out by the end of the week.

Reader question: Jessica wanted details on my baby sling, I sew my own. You can purchase sling rings at or Nestmom is less expensive, but there are also less choices. The best info I've found on DIY slings is here. (By the way Jessica, hurray for Wonderful Wallabies!)


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