Sunday, June 29, 2008

Well....more socks

This will definitely be the Summer of Socks. I finished two more pairs, and have one sock finished for my fourth pair.

SOS'08 #2, 52ppII #3
Originally uploaded by Spingirl

This is pair #2 for the SOS contest, and pair #3 for the 52 Pair Plunge.

SOS'08 #3, 52ppII #4 Socks
Originally uploaded by Spingirl

This is pair #3 for SOS, and #4 for 52PP.
I have to admit that my hands are hurting a bit, especially as the pair I'm knitting now are made from worsted weight yarn. That might sound crazy, but I wanted a pair that would be a little heavier to wear under my boots. The yarn is from Lorna's Laces, so it's, as would be expected, lovely and soft, but working with it on small needles is hard on the hands. The pattern is turning out wonderfully, though, so I have to love these socks too!

I planned to give away many of the socks I hope to make this summer, but each pair is so wonderful that I want to keep it for myself. Gotta stop being such a pig. How many pairs of socks does one person need, anyway? T-shirts, now. I could use some of those! I should figure out how to knit those in a fast, economical manner. I can't get anything long enough in the stores, and they shrink, fade, and wear out too soon. I guess I should put that on my list of things to look into (oh, no--another list!)

We have been having strong storms nearly every day, and about a third of the peach tree has broken off. I also need to look into pruning fruit trees as well (out comes the list again!) My flowers are flourishing. In fact, I need to cut some of them back and even dig out and divide a couple of clumps. But that would eat into my knitting time...

As you can see, I've done the links for the photos from Flickr. I just don't like it. There has to be an easier way, but I haven't figured it out yet. Something else to put on the list. But right now, I think I'll go try to finish pair #4 tonight, if my hands can hold out!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sock Mania

Wow. Nothing but socks. This is kind of weird, but it has lightened my baggage quite a bit. I only carry my little Julip sock knitting bag with me now, and have stored away almost all my other projects (which means I've taken them upstairs and dumped them on the pile in the sewing room.)

First pair of socks for SOS'08:

These are from Chestnut Bay Fibers in "Sunrise" Merino Superwash. It's so hard to get the colors right in the photo--they're much softer than they look.

I started these at midnight, June 21, and finished them sometime late June 22. I wanted to see if I could knit a sock in a day, and I managed to do that while listening to "Jane Eyre" on my iPod. My hands were pretty tired, but the socks went a little faster than I expected. Unfortunately, the leg section was 8" long, so that slows down sock production a bit! The requirement for the contest is that the leg part be at least 2" long, so I could have turned out a couple of pairs in the time it took me to knit these. Alas, I don't like short socks, and I'm not knitting socks just for the sake of the contest, though it is a motivating factor. Maybe in the fall I should start a contest for knitting the most Dale of Norway sweaters! Snort.

Now I have sock #1 of pair #2 finished, and am well on the way on sock #2. I'd like to get them done tonight. I'm anxious to move on to the next yarn tucked away in my bag. I've forgotten what I have!

Meanwhile, I'm trying to do a little housework between sock-knitting phases, and keep my flowers tidy and weed-free. Not so much success there. I have some really spectacular thistles coming up in the back flower bed. But look at my hollyhocks!

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I do love hollyhocks so. Someone a few blocks away has some lovely pale pink ones, and I plan to go begging for seeds in a week or two, when the seedpods have set. They're simple, they come back without any help (in fact, you can't kill them once they've taken hold, which is a definite plus for anything in my garden,) and they just scream "English cottage garden!" I'd love to have some foxgloves too, but I'm afraid it gets too hot here for them. I did put out a couple of delphiniums that I bought on sale right before the market closed for the season, but again, I worry that it will be too hot for them. We'll see.

In other agricultural areas, here are our fruit trees:
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If we can actually keep the bugs from eating all these, they will be the best, sweetest little pears you could ever taste, and I don't even like pears! At least not those hard grainy things you get in the grocery store.

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The peach tree is just as loaded. We've not really gotten any peaches before--usually the Japanese beetles eat them all, but I plan to keep spraying this year. It goes against the grain, but I would like to have at least a couple peaches off this tree some time.

We used to have a beautiful old apple tree, too. The first spring we lived here it just exploded with blossoms, and I could smell them all through the house. I'd never smelled apple blossoms before (real city girl here!) But it was so old that it was rotting from the center out, and it set so much fruit that year that every storm brought down another chunk. The next summer the whole thing came down. I'm glad I got to enjoy that one spring though. This fall I plan to get at least one nice maple, if not two or three, so we can have some shade and color in our big lot.

Off to work on socks!

Friday, June 20, 2008

On Your Mark, Get Set...

Only an hour and a half until Summer of Socks begins. And yes, I'm staying up to cast on as soon as the clock strikes midnight! Crazy, I know, especially since I have to babysit the Rugrat tomorrow. I'm getting out the baby corral and she's going in it with a steady rotation of toys.

I did not get the pink scarf finished (but I still have an hour and a half! All is not lost yet!) It's almost there--just a few more repeats, then five or six garter rows. I made a big mistake and left out two pattern rows about four repeats back. I pondered a while, then decided that nobody is going to notice it. Really. You would have to look for it, and most non-knitters (and knitters) don't do that. I just wasn't up to ripping back mohair again.

I met Abby on Wednesday for coffee and "bunny stuff" as I now call it*. She knitted, I spun on a spindle, and we talked about spinning (of course), Spanish, raising boys vs. girls, studio space or lack thereof, beer, organic foods, our admiration of Rita Buchanan, and a whole bunch of other stuff I can't remember now. It was a real hen party with just two cluckers. And she was nice enough to think to bring me some fantastic fiber. It never crossed my mind to bring her anything, which makes me feel like a heel, but I have something in the works that I think she'll like.

I'm really wondering how this whole sock contest is going to go. Will I stick with it until September 1st? Can I possibly not work on any other projects but socks for ten whole weeks? Frankly, I'm kind of doubtful, given my track record. But here I go...

*"Bunny stuff" is what a knitter on Ravelry says her husband calls her knitting. I like it. It covers everything: knitting, crocheting, spinning, weaving, stashing. It's what I do.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Heading for a finish, I hope!

This is the project I'm trying to finish by Friday, because Saturday begins the oft-written-of sock contest.

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It's a little more than half-finished, and I'm happy that I just started the second ball of yarn, because that means I'll have enough to finish it! You never know when you don't use the yarn the pattern calls for! I really should have had this done a long time ago, but every time I'd pick it up to work on it again, I'd have to relearn the pattern. Now that I've been working on it every day for the past few days, I don't have to count every stinkin' stitch. As with all lace, it will be far prettier once it's blocked.

I was a good girl and did a lot of stretching and strengthening exercises for my neck and back yesterday, so things are improving. I have another massage appointment tomorrow, and I hope that works the last of the knots out of my neck. I have to take care of this problematic neck because it affects my knitting (horror of horrors!) as well as my job. Worst of all, it makes it difficult for me to play my violin for any great length of time. So that's a real incentive to keep up the stretching program. Besides, I'm not getting any younger, so I can only expect more problems down the road if I don't take good care of it.

I started back to violin lessons this morning, so I have some things to work on. I'd like to get at least an hour of practice every day, but obviously I can't do it all at once. And it's usually best to do it when my family's not home! Though that's what practice mutes were invented for. I just don't know how many times they can stand to hear scales and arpeggios, even muted ones, before they crack up.

I've wound almost all the yarn for my socks, so I'm set up for the contest, even though that little voice in my head that just won't shut up keeps asking why I'm doing this. I dunno. It must be my competitive streak coming out. It's kind of funny--the only competitions I've ever won have been stupid baby shower games!

The evening is incredibly beautiful and cool. I should go flop in the hammock and enjoy it while I can.

More obligatory grandbaby pics. I think she can pull in Bolivia with those things on top of her head!

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Excess Baggage

I stumbled upon this bag the other day when I was shopping for a kitchen cabinet:

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Naturally, my first thought was not, "Hey, what a great piece of luggage"(which is what it is), but, "Hey, what a great knitting bag!" I said as much to the shop owner, and her response was, "Isn't it a little big for a knitting bag?" Heh. Non-knitters have such limited imaginations.

Anyway, I resisted the temptation, even though it was marked way down from the original price. I resisted temptation for approximately 48 hours, then went back, panic-stricken that some other smart knitter would have seen the potential and snapped it up. It was still there, and it went home with me. It's an April Cornell design for "Isabella's Journey" bags, which might mean something to someone else, but I'd never heard of either one. All I know is that it's a beautiful, well-constructed bag that will probably outlive me. It's made with heavy upholstery-type tapestry fabric and has little metal feet so the bottom won't get bunged up. I love it.

Oh, and what's this? Is that...yarn...peeking out? Why, of course! (Oops, I typed "of curse" accidentally.)

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Best. Bag. Ever. It was the only one in the shop, but here's how you can contact them to see if they'll order one for you (since you, too, are a smart knitter.)

But wait, there's more! I came across the ad for this shop on Ravelry. Ravelry will be the death (or bankruptcy) of me yet. This is a spindle bag. Very cool, with a little pocket for your spindle to slip into and plenty of room for roving.

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Then there was this bag, and seeing as I'm doing socks all summer, I was a goner the moment I set eyes on it. It's an "Everything but the Knitting" bag, which comes with a wrist loop, a crochet hook in its very own little pocket, and a tin containing scissors, tape measure, stitch markers, and a yarn needle.

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The pictures on the Julip Bags site are much, much better than mine, so check it out. See how generous I'm being? I'm passing on links to all the good stuff. After I've ordered mine.

Ok, enough on the bags. I had planned to go to the local Worldwide Knit in Public Day event, and had even made plans with Abby to meet up there, but my body is not cooperating today. I'm having really bad neck spasms, and even a trip to the chiropractor and massage therapist yesterday didn't help. I have fibromyalgia, and I'm having one of those "hurt-all-over" days. I can't think straight, and I didn't have the energy even to shower and gather my stuff this morning and head downtown. I'm so frustrated by this. I'm sure there were a lot of people there that I haven't seen since I dropped out of the guilds I was in, and I really wanted to meet Abby. I had my spindle bag all packed up, because we were going to spin despite the fact that it's Knit in Public day. (Well, hey--you gotta have yarn before you can knit, right? Close enough.)

So I'm slogging around grumbling about how unfair it is that I can't make plans for anything because I never know if I'll be able to follow through. But I know it could be much, much worse. I'm otherwise healthy, according to numerous tests, so I'm going to shut up about it now.

Only one more week before the SOS contest starts! Off to work on something from The List. And to check out whatever Missy is baking that smells absolutely wonderful!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Wandering in the Heat

Here is the first pair of socks for the 52 Pair Plunge II on Ravelry:

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I like the Tofutsies yarn, but dislike the pooling I got in parts of the socks. I don't dislike it enough to use two skeins and switch every two rows, as I've read you can do to prevent pooling. They're socks, not the Mona Lisa.

I finally settled down this afternoon and worked on the pink lace scarf from The List. I don't know why I have so much trouble getting things done on my day off. I even wrote a list last night (I'm big on lists, huh?) but I really didn't get much done from it. I'm not a morning person, and I have trouble getting up and going no matter how late I sleep. But it's after 6PM, and I'm starting to get the urge to get something accomplished. Most of the day was spent cleaning up clutter, unloading and reloading the dishwasher, and running laundry. That doesn't sound like much, but there was a lot of clutter! And I didn't even make it into the dining room, where the table is covered, nor the TV room, which is really my husband's domain. Therefore, I don't worry about it too much.

Sooo, I had to make myself sit down and think about what would be the most productive use of my knitting/spinning time. I decided on the pink lace scarf because I have to concentrate on it. That makes it the best project for times when interruptions will be at a minimum. I think I'm starting to get the hang of the repeats in this pattern. It's about time--I've only done about 9 repeats!

I also went downtown and bought a ball winder and looked for a standing cabinet for the kitchen. I'm glad there's a weaving shop in town, and that she had ball winders in stock. I had bought an expensive jumbo winder, but had a really hard time with it. I contacted the maker, who was extremely nice and helpful, and he had me send it to him to see if it needed tweaking. He called to tell me that there was nothing wrong with it, but that thin, slippery yarns don't work well on that particular winder. He very kindly refunded my money, and I guess I'll stick with the good old plastic winder from now on. It's a shame--that was a nice winder, but if it wasn't going to work for shawl yarn and sock yarn, it wasn't the one for me.

I discovered something today, as I was wandering in and out of shops downtown (all three blocks of it.) It's summer. It's hot. Hot weather makes me grumpy. I thank God every night for air conditioning (I'm not kidding.) A friend in Alabama told me that they've had temps in the 90's for weeks now. I would just die down there. If I didn't have air conditioning and ice cream, I don't know how I would live.

Speaking of ice cream...

Monday, June 9, 2008

Storms, socks, and spinning

Still no Internet connection at home, so I'll just stay late at the office and do this.

That was one wild evening. We ended up heading for the basement at one point, because the sky turned that scary green, and when I see that I head for cover. (The Xenia, OH tornado in 1974 passed right over our heads. I don't like green skies.) We don't have actual tornado sirens in our teeny town, but the police were driving through all the streets with their sirens going, so that was good enough for me. We had lost our power, so we had no radio or TV until we found batteries for the portable radio. Yes, I know--that's not good disaster preparedness.

Missy grabbed the baby and some diapers, I grabbed the milk and water from the fridge, and we shooed the dog downstairs. We couldn't find the cats (not a good sign) so we had to leave them to fend for themselves. I also got my violin (couldn't carry the new wheel down there) and Missy got her favorite stiletto-heeled shoes. I can't believe neither of us got our knitting bags! Meanwhile, hubby headed next door to make sure our 94-year-old neighbors were safe in their basement.

The worst part didn't last long, so we ventured upstairs after about 20 minutes. It was still pounding rain, but the cats re-emerged from their hiding places, so I figured all was well. From about 7:30 on the lightening and thunder never stopped all night, even when it wasn't raining. The power didn't come back on until 6AM, saving me from having to take a cold shower, so I was happy. But it was sure hard to knit by candlelight that evening!

In other knitting news, I finished the pink Tofutsie socks. They feel so wonderful on my feet. I do like that yarn, except for the fact that it tends to split, so that can slow the knitting down a bit.

Since I finished those, I've been concentrating on the Dale sweater. I'm done with the hem and the bottom colorwork, and have done three rows of the body. I've been having trouble with it because one length circular needle is just a little to small for comfort, but the next length up is too long. So my hands can't take knitting on it as long as they can on another project. I'm also having trouble getting the gauge right, but it's hard to say with the colorwork. I hadn't done that for a long time, so the stranding was a wee bit too tight on the first couple of rows. I got my hands to relax as they got more familiar with the motions of using one color in each, so by the last color row, things were going fairly well. It looks so nice. I have to spread it out and pat myself on the back every once in a while just because it's so pretty! AND I managed to follow the pattern pretty well. I only had to rip back one row. Did you know that it takes about twice as long to rip back one row as it does to knit it? I didn't. But now I'll really take care to double-check the pattern every row!

I finished filling two bobbins on the wheel with the walnut-dyed roving, and plyed and skeined the yarn. I really love this yarn. Good thing--I'm going to have a lot of it by the time I'm done!

Less than two weeks until Summer of Socks! Gotta keep working on these projects! I'd like to finish at least one more before the 21st, but I'm not sure if I can. It won't be either the Dale sweater or the walnut wool, that's for sure! It's probably a good thing I still don't have access to the Internet at home. Instead of spending so much time on Ravelry, I can be knitting!

Friday, June 6, 2008

In short...

...huge storm Tuesday night. Blew our modems both at home and work. Have had no internet until 20 minutes ago. Am posting this at work. Shhhh.....

More later, I hope.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Lunacy strikes

This is the yarn I spun from the Fuzzarelly Fiber roving:

Nancy had sent me a selection of blends of different colors, so I blended them from pink to purple to blue. I think it will look really neat knitted up, and I found that the "Wing o'the Moth" shawl pattern calls for 200 yards to make a smaller scarf, so I should have plenty. I guess it's not technically a Finished Project until I knit it, but the spinning part is done, so I'm going to call that a FP. (Hey, it's my blog. I get to make the rules. And break them. Regularly.) Anyway, I've been struggling to not whip out the needles and cast on for this scarf, so I should be proud of myself for that! That would really be lunacy. Ha, ha--luna(as in moth)cy. Get it? Snort.

It was a joy to spin on my new Jensen wheel. Having the orifice on the right-hand side makes things so much easier. I don't twist my body when I spin now, so I can sit back and relax and not get so kinked up. Now that I've gotten the wheel set up and "broken in" I've been doing a lot of spinning with the walnut-dyed roving. I almost finished filling a second bobbin today, so I should be able to ply and finish a skein or two in the next few days.

Now comes the moment when I have to admit that I've gone and done something really idiotic. I blame it all on Ravelry. Really, that place is Danger Lurking As A Friendly Website. Once you get on there, you get sucked in. First you start looking at other people's stashes, then you start reading the forums, and next thing you know, why, you've joined four or five groups! And that's when the crazy begins.

So, ok, the first group I joined was the Summer of Socks group. But I already knew I was going to do that, so it doesn't really count. And the Sock Blankie Mania group kinda made sense. I mean, if I'm going to be knitting all these socks, it's a good way to use up the leftovers. It's mindless knitting, so it can be done while riding in the car or whatever, and there's no deadline lurking. Harmless enough, I'd say.

BUT. The 52 Pair Plunge, I'll admit, is just nuts. As of today, I have a year in which to make 52 pairs of socks. But I figured if I'm going to be knitting socks all summer anyway, they'll count toward the total. And, unlike the SOS contest, I don't have to knit adult socks. Baby socks count. And that's a good thing, because the Rugrat has outgrown the other two pairs I made her a while back. I know, I know--I'm just trying to justify lunacy, but what can I say? It sounded fun. And it's so easy to click on that little "Join this Group" button.

I've got 20 days to work on Project List #2. And then it will be nothing but socks, socks, socks. Unless I have a total meltdown and start twitching at the very sight of socks a couple of weeks into it!

Speaking (or writing) of the Rugrat, here are a couple of pictures of absolute adorableness, IMHO:

Gaaaah. It's just TOO stinkin' cute. I can't stand it!

Sorry. Random Grandma insanity moment...