Thursday, December 21, 2006
The outside of the package said, "Not an Official Sockret Pal Mailing," but inside was a delightful assortment of goodies! A darling card with cuddly kitties, some yummy candy canes, chocolate(!), a bunch of cutie-pie frog cut-outs in many shades of green (those are destined for my scrapbook pages!) -- AND -- the cutest, tiniest, sweetest little keychain-size sock blocker and sock pattern you ever saw! :) It's just perfect for all my little sock-yarn odds 'n' ends. What an unexpected surprise! Thank you, Socket Pal, for a very sweet & thoughtful Christmas gift package! :)
A very Merry Christmas to you and yours, and a Happy Knitting New Year, too!
Friday, December 08, 2006
I put up my little Christmas tree this past weekend, and noticed that I have an awful lot of FROG ornaments! Each one was a gift from a thoughtful friend, and each one has the friend's name and the date of the gift written on the ornament with an extra-fine Sharpie. I love putting them on the tree each year, and enjoy the warm rush of memories triggered by each one as I remember faces, events, and emotions. What a great way to enjoy the Christmas Spirit!
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Lookie what I got in the mail yesterday! With a fun message like this on the outside, you just just know it's gonna be good on the inside!
And it IS!!! It's a tropical knitting party in a box -- WOW! Everything is so wonderful -- a fabulously fun felted flamingo pattern with all the yarn to knit them up ( I can hardly wait!), a ball of gorgeous self-striping sock yarn (how did you know? ) , some burgundy KnitPicks Gloss (merino & silk -- yummmm!), a really cute froggie calendar for 2007 (too cute -- and just perfect!), and a roll of Smarties (which I just love!) See -- I told ya: WOW! Solid gold. Solid.
The weather yesterday was cloudy, cold, and gloomy. Then I opened this box of tropical delight -- and today is bright and sunny. Coincidence? I think not. Not even the weather could resist cheering up with a Sockret Pal goodie box like this. Thanks, Sockret Pal -- you done good, In fact, you done GREAT! :)
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
These socks are knit with Austermann Step sock yarn, with aloe and jojoba oil right in the yarn. The yarn was a dream to knit with, and the socks are comfy to wear. The colors remind me of mixed berry sherbet — all except for the BROWN spots throughout. ??? I just don't get that color combination at all. It looks like someone spilled coffee on my socks ( not that I would personally know what that actually looks like, you understand.)
Oh, well — they are so nice to wear, I'll just hide them beneath tall shoes and long pants.
And we'll just keep this coffee stain business to ourselves, OK? But if I ever visit the Austermann yarn factory spinning room, I'm gonna look for those messy coffee drinkers!
Here's the knit-in stitch marker for these socks. (It's a lampwork glass bead with a gold frog and a Swarovski crystal. All berry colors — no brown!)
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Sometimes, for very special couples (who have been pre-qualified as those who would appreciate such), I will knit a pair of Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus Christmas stockings as a wedding present. Later on, as children arrive to these couples, I'll knit a coordinating stocking for baby's first Christmas. I just love visiting these homes and seeing well-used stockings hanging on the mantels year after year. Clayton's stocking will join those of his big sister Kylie and their parents.
Welcome, Clayton! Enjoy!
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
As a rule, I NEVER wear orange -- but Halloween is a time for breaking rules just a tiny bit, right? So I figure if I can accept candy from strangers on Halloween, then I can wear orange. :) So here are my Halloween socks, knitted with Opal "Magic" purchased at MeadowFarm in Nevada City. I used my favorite pattern -- Wendy's Toe Up with feather and fan leg.
And here's my stitch marker for these socks, knitted into the leg ribbing on the second sock. I love those little kitty beads!
I have been asked how I wash my socks with the beaded markers knitted in. The general answer: Very carefully. I wash my socks by hand, so it isn't a problem. If I wash them in the machine, the markers tend to get bent. They don't snag on the rest of the sock, but they do bend. So hand washing seems to be the best option. However, sometimes -- like this morning -- I do need to dry socks quickly in the dryer. So I pinned the stitch marker to the sock with a safety pin so it wouldn't bang around, turned the socks inside out, and tossed them in the dryer. No problem.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Wow! I received my Hot Socks Swap box from Hege -- all the way from Norway! (I haven't ever received a package from Norway, so I was just excited about getting the box in the first place. Silly maybe, but that's the way it is.) Inside the box were two lovely skeins of sock yarn, two kinds of teas, some beautiful beads, a cute little felted sheep pin, and a sweet note. Thanks, Hege!
It's finally (!) getting cool here in Sacramento, so I am looking forward to spending some happy hours curled up with a comforting cup of tea and a new pair of Norwegian socks on my needles. :)
And -- after some unexpected delays in my cross-country travels, I finally mailed MY hot socks pal in England her box today. Since I was late mailing it to her, I added a couple of extra treats collected at airports during my sojourn. :) What a great swap! Thanks, Laura, for organizing us.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Last Spring my friend Emmy went to Portland -- and on her return, surprised me with a beautiful skein of Socks That Rock in Tanzanite. I love the rich, not-quite-variegated subtle shade changes and ooooo, that color!
It took me a long while to find the perfect pattern, and even longer to actually finish knitting them, but here they are at last! I used MJ's lovely toe-up Mirabella lace pattern, but with size 0 DPNs and my gauge, I had to add circumference stitches and knit additional repeats.Such special yarn from such a nice friend deserves a special stitch marker/charm, so this one has genuine amethysts and Swarovski crystals.
I wore these socks for the first time last weekend, and they felt fabulous -- the yarn is so resilient, yet soft and yummy. I can hardly wait to work with Socks That Rock yarn again. And that's a good thing, because another wonderful friend went on a yarn excursion to Friday Harbor -- and guess what she brought back? :)
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
How long have you been knitting? Since I was 4 or 5… it’s been a while!
Do you consider yourself a beginning sock knitter, an intermediate, or have you been doing this so long you could probably knit a pair in your sleep? Well, whenever I knit in my sleep, I make mistakes, so I guess that makes me an intermediate.
While your pal may ask for some additional info to ensure a great fit, please provide your shoe size, or any other fitting related info you think is pertinent. I wear a size 8.5 shoe, and my socks are 9 inches from the toe to the heel. I have a wide foot.
(fiber related) Favorites:
What colors do you love? Purples, lavenders, mauves, greens, blues, burgundies: more muted than clear, but just about anything in those color ranges.
Do you prefer solids or variegated? No preference, but I do have a “thing” for self-striping yarn. :)
What fibers do you most love to knit with? I like wool and other animal fibers, but really just about anything.
Who do you consider your favorite yarn vendors? No preference: there are a lot of wonderful sources out there! I do enjoy using sock yarns from smaller, regional sources whenever I can.
What projects (other than socks, of course) do you most enjoy knitting? I nearly always have a more complex lace project on the needles. Right now, it’s (still) the long-suffering Peacock Shawl. And there are a couple of Christmas stockings in the works, too . . . but those are still socks, huh?
(fiber related) Dislikes:
What fibers can you not stand to knit with? “Hard” or rough fibers – but then who does? To wear? Same
What colors would you never wear? I look hideous in orange, yellow, and white.
Plastic or Metal? Bamboo or wood? I used to knit socks with bamboo 0’s, but they broke all the time. Then I discovered Knit Picks nickel plated, sharp-pointed dpns and I love them!
Circs or Straights? I use circulars for everything but socks.
DPNs or Magic Loop? DPNs
Are there any knitting accessories you don't have in your collection but would like? I am a gadget collector, and can always use something fun! Since I have several projects going at once, duplicates are never a problem.
Do you have a wish list? If so, please share the link! No wish lists.
Do you like sweet, sour or salty? Yes.
Do you have any allergies your pal should know about? (Certain foods, smoke, pet hair, etc) I don’t care for smoke.
Favorite scents? Scents you can't stand? I love vanilla and lavender ( not necessarily at the same time, though!)
Do you collect anything (other than yarn and knitting toys of course)? Well, there are the frogs…
When is your birthday? (month and day is fine!) June 19
Do you spin? Dye your own yarn? Nope and nope.
Your favorite author/band/vacation spot, anything you think will help your pal know you better... I am definitely a Harry Potter / Lord of the Rings/ Memoirs of a Geisha /English classics fan – both books and movies. I love BBC costume dramas and Battlestar Galactica. I don't watch too much network TV, except for HGTV -- hooked on "House Hunters"! Music-wise, I like classic long-hair, classic rock, and lots of new stuff and stuff in between. I'm very eclectic there.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Of the three tablecloths I sent, this is the one that immediately ended up on the table.
And since I can't stand to leave the last little scraps un-sewn, I used leftovers from the crane tablecloth to make coasters. Perfect for using up scrap oddments! These coasters are padded, and four folded squares are tucked behind each other on the top like a french box fold. They can be used flat for a glass or mug, or the foot of a wine glass can be tucked into the fold. A quilter friend showed me how to make them while we were having lunch in a restaurant one day. She used napkins to demonstrate the technique, but for you, I found an online source of directions. :)
Friday, August 25, 2006
My son recently requested some new tablecloths. He knows that this is one of my favorite quick 'n' easy sewing projects, so really, all he had to do was bring up the subject!
Son and Fiancee lived in Japan for a while, and managed to collect many Japanese antiques -- and their whole decor reflects this influence. Their dining room features a several-hundred-year old armoire-like black painted chest (which is really a dish-drying closet) and a contemporary black lacquer table & chairs. It is a striking combination of old and new styles.
Here are details of the two tablecloths I made for them. In each case, the skirt is a coordinating fabric bound by a strip of the main fabric. The crane fabric has a tiny bit of metallic gold in the design.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
These "watermelon" socks are from yarn dyed by the very talented Vicki Suan. Doesn't it work up cute? The "seeds" are perfect! Here is the stitch marker I knitted into the second sock:
These cheerful pink/lavender/blue/green self-stripers are knit from Fortissima Colori Disco: there is a tiny thread of silver running through the yarn. I used Wendy's Generic Toe-Up Feather and Fan pattern with her loose bind-off. I re-did the bind-off four times before I just decided to go with it. As Wendy says, it looks a little wavy off the foot, but it looks just fine when you are wearing the socks, and doesn't stress the yarn.
Here's the knit-in marker.
More sock pictures soon!
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
I have long been a fan of Joan McGowan-Michael's White Lies Designs. I have knit a couple of them, and the Milinda is on my needles. Some of Joan's latest designs feature retro-style beading, which I find absolutely fascinating. (Of course, I find nearly anything with pretty beads fascinating!) So I jumped at the chance to attend her beading class on Saturday, sponsored by the Sacramento knitting guild.
Joan is a very patient teacher, and provided everything except our knit swatches -- and proper lighting. The lighting in the classroom was, well, awful! It would have been fine for a regular knitting class, but when you are over a certain age and working with teensy beads and teensy needles, good lighting is a definite plus! To be fair, I doubt that any venue would have had sufficient lighting for this type of class. A couple of smart people brought their portable Ott lights, and shared them generously. (Joan made a note to be sure to add portable lights and extension cords to her class supply list for future sessions.)
But I did learn a lot about vintage-style beading techniques, and Joan was very generous with her tips and tricks of the trade. She had some beautiful vintage sweaters for show-and-tell, and shared some wonderful anecdotes about her experiences restoring fabulous movie costumes worn by actresses such as Cyd Charisse and Judy Garland. In all, it was a fun class with a great instructor and a perfect way to spend a pleasant Saturday morning. In my book, this is one of the best advantages of belonging to an active knitting guild.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Friday, July 14, 2006
Last night was Stitch & Pitch night at our local AAA baseball stadium. It was well over 100 degrees, but more than 30 hardy knitters packed up their knitting and took it out to the ballgame. The Sacramento RiverCats printed up some special canvas tote bags for us (that's Christi from the 'Cats marketing department making sure every knitter got one!)
And a knitter from the Sacramento Stitch 'n' Bitch group, Marin -- who worked with the 'Cats to organize the whole thing -- was invited to throw out the first pitch! We wondered if she would opt to throw a ball of wool or acrylic, but in the end, she threw an ordinary baseball -- and did a fine job of it, too!
After the sun set, it was a beautiful (and warm) evening. Raley Field has a picture-postcard view of the city skyline, and the Tower Bridge. It was $1 hotdog and ice cream night, so guess what we ate? Oh, yeah -- the game was fun, too! We are definitely planning to do this again!
Monday, July 10, 2006
We even managed some FOs! Here are my watermelon socks from Vicki Suan's yarn, and Cindi's first of two.
Emmy finished two scarves for her niece from yarn selected during Brittanie's visit last month.
Betsy finished the back of her cabled sweater and made great progress on the front.
Laura completed her fabulous Rogue cardigan -- and sewed on matching silver Celtic buttons. And the best part was -- it was cool enough to wear it!!
Thursday, July 06, 2006
And yes, that is a stitch marker knit right into the sock. I make coordinating stitch markers for each of my sock projects, just for fun. When you do toe up, you really don't need them, but I like to use a marker to mark the rounds during the toe increases. After that, they are just "knitting jewelry." When I'm nearly finished with the second sock, my faithful stitch marker, as a reward for stitcking out the whole project, gets knit in right above the ankle. Kinda like a sockish ankle charm. These socks are for me, hence the frog in the marker.
I also knit up a pair of socks for my daughter, who has an affinity for camelids -- alpacas and camels in particular. So here are her socks ---
And here is her special stitch marker. She didn't care if it was 100 degrees -- she pulled them right on and wore them in the house for her whole weekend visit. In fact, she was so grateful, she is probably going to get another pair of socks in the very near future! :)
Friday, June 23, 2006
She started this lace with the best of intention,
Working diligently day and night.
But distractions abound -- too many to mention,
And the lace? It’s now out of sight.
Cheeky little socks vie for attention
Their self-striping colors so bright.
What fun it is, this Faire Isle-ish invention!
So the lace? It’s now out of sight.
KADD, she claims with some pretension --
Knitting Attention Deficit Disorder –- yeah, right.
More like a lack of project retention,
Because the lace? It’s now out of sight.
So she finds herself in this knitters’ convention
“The Amazing Lace,” to be polite.
The spirit of challenge, the competitive tension --
And the lace? It now sees the light!
Sunday, June 18, 2006
OK, we're doing great! We're humming right along now, Peacock and I. We are definitely in sync and knitting well. Our rhythm is good, we're making great time. Concentrate, concentrate. Yeah, we can do this.
(Yo, k2tog, yo)
Here's the first hurdle: a half-knit sock trying to distract us from our goal. Typical "cheerleader" stuff. Won't work this time. No way.
(K2, k2tog, yo)
Next hurdle: a lovely skein of self-striping Fortissima in fabulous shades of pink. No. No. No. Do not look. Do NOT look. Keep knitting. Eyes on the lace.
(Yo, K2tog, yo)
Whoa. This is getting a lot harder: a skein of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock --- and Harry Potter Book 6 on CDs! Yow! M_u_s_t k_e_e_p f_o_c_u_s_e_d. Do not give in to temptation. Do not quit. Keep knitting. Keep knitting. Hang in there with me, Peacock! Don't give up!
(K2, yo, k2tog)
OH NO! Foul!! Foul!! No fair!! This is the worst distraction of all!!! It's Team Jane Austin with a stack of DVDs and a skein of purple Socks That Rock!!!! And Mr. Darcy, too! There's no way I can watch a DVD and knit lace! NOooooooooo! Oh, the humanity!
All rightie, then. Come on, Peacock. We can play hardball, too. Extreme times call for extreme measures: time to pull out our secret defensive knitting tactic: the bonnet! Must...keep...eyes...on...lace. Must...keep...eyes...on...lace. Come on, we can do it...we...must...we...must...we...must...
Monday, June 12, 2006
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Hello, Purl! Welcome to Team Top Frog Headquarters!
Yes, yes -- things are going quite well for our team. It’s all in the advance preparation and organization, you know. We have been training very hard together on a regular basis for quite some time. We are highly motivated and, of course, we get along so well together – it’s quite a joy to be both teammates and old friends.
No, Peacock doesn’t have much to say. She’s just a bit tired. She’s been working out really hard to maintain her prime conditioning, and prefers to conserve her energies for the competition ahead. It’s all about discipline and self-control, you know.
Sock? What sock? Oh. That sock. Er, that’s our, um, cheerleader! Yeah, our cheerleader! Uh, Cheeky Sock!
What? Well, yes, I guess his little DPNs are pretty cute.
Peacock and I are … oh, uh, they’re 6-inch size 0.
Now where was I? Oh -- Peacock and I are planning to use stitch markers on each repeat…um, yes, he’s a self-striper.
And we will install lifelines … oh, uh, Fortissima Socka.
We’ve color-coded Peacock’s pattern to… well, he’s Wendy’s Generic Toe-up sock pattern with a modified Easy Toe.
Yes, he does help keep our spirits up and makes sure we always stick to our training schedule.
Oh, of course! Cheeky Sock and Peacock get along very well – just like they were knit from the same skein.
OK, she’s gone. Peacock, would it have killed you to at least flash a stitch marker? And you, “Mr. Cheeky Sock” – I thought I told you to keep down. Well, it’s too late now. I guess you’re on the team. You don’t have to look so smug about it. Stop sulking, Peacock. Yes, of course you’re still the star of the team. No, no, no -- you won’t have to share your tote bag with him.
Monday, May 29, 2006
The problem with a strict training regimen is discipline.
In which I seem to be sorely lacking.
I should be hard at work studying Peacock and coaxing her to perform training runs with her patterning. We are both really rusty and out of practice. Besides this, there are stitch markers that need to be built, and a toolkit to assemble.
But distractions abound. Chief among these is a pesky little sock playing peek-a-boo from my purse. I know it wants my attention for “just a few minutes.” After all, it won’t take too long to knit one more stripe with its playful self-patterning yarn, and turning its heel will only take a little while. These little take-along projects are so cute and quick, and they never seem to mind if I chat with friends or watch Pride and Prejudice on DVD.
Peacock grumps next to her tote bag, needles crossed, and glares accusingly at the cheeky little upstart sock…and me.
Sorry, little sock. Sorry, Mr. Darcy.
Duty calls. My teammate needs me.
Welllll … maybe just one more stripe. A little one.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
At first, Peacock seemed reluctant to cooperate, as if she doubted my sincerity. (She knows me pretty well!) But she’s a real trouper. Once I told her about The Amazing Lace, she was ready to do whatever it took to get back in the game.
(Well, I did have to dangle the promise of a good blocking at the end of the project – it’s always been Peacock’s dream to be blocked o she will lose those wrinkles forever.)
While Peacock had never been a particularly good team player, we both hoped that this time, it would be different. Team Top Frog is counting on her.
We started our preparations last night with a good overall diagnostic. Peacock’s out-of-order instructions can be reassembled for navigation purposes fairly easily. Her pattern enlargements seem well marked, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to locate our starting point. Her yarn ravels weren’t as bad as I feared, and can soon be wound back on the cone in an orderly manner. Her lifelines are uneven and pulled at odd angles, but intact. The stitch markers tangled in the YOs do need a bit of coaxing, but there does not appear to be any lasting damage. Considering all the years of neglect and poor self esteem, Peacock is in pretty good shape overall. Her attitude could still use some positive adjustment, but that’s to be expected.
Our project support equipment is another story. Over the years, Peacock’s dedicated toolkit has been disassembled and scattered amongst other projects: The marking pen can be easily replaced, but the large magnetic pattern board is in use by a younger project, and the extra color-coded stitch markers have been disassembled and re-crafted into newer styles. Before we can proceed, we will have to reassemble and replace these tools. The project tote bag, on the other hand, is still serviceable and ready to go.
But the greatest challenge is mine alone: I definitely have to spend more time in training, becoming re-acquainted with Peacock’s methodologies, meditating on the peculiarities of her pattern, and remembering the sequence of her mirror-image stitch reversals. While Peacock seems excited about The Amazing Lace, I don’t think she is motivated to change herself very much, so I am just going to have to learn to deal with her personality quirks and reluctance to perform.
I need some time to prepare myself for the long journey ahead.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
It had been years since I had seen her last, but I can still remember her when she was fresh and new -- her crisp, unmarked pattern, her soft lavender lace-weight merino curling softly in the unwound skein. The future of our project seemed so bright and promising then.
Our working relationship wasn’t smooth, but we were both much younger at the time, and we thought we could work through our different styles. At first, I thought her instructions were simple, and we cruised through many repeats. But about halfway through, she became a demanding project, and often did not allow me to watch TV or visit with friends when we were working together. Then without warning, she would shift directions and insist on being repetitive and boring for endless stretches of time. I would get impatient and abandon her for long periods to entertain short, flashy projects. Eventually, I even found lace shawl patterns that I preferred to hers. Those other completed projects just seemed to make Peacock even harder to get along with. Her attitude became more and more surly, and our dissatisfaction with one another grew.
Our last parting hadn’t been pretty – mistakes had been made, harsh words spoken. She had departed the scene wadded up in disgrace and neglect. Who knows where she had gotten herself off to since then? Who knows what dark corners she inhabited?
In resignation and resolve, I steeled myself for the task ahead and waded into the deepest darkest bowels of The Stash. I struggled through endless unmarked containers, loose labels, and the strands of long-forgotten skeins from another era. Old bargains and odd balls lurked furtively in dark boxes. Once-popular pattern sheets skittered menacingly in the shadows.
Then I saw her. There she was -- barely recognizable, crouched in her dusty tote bag at the back of a shelf.
Time had not been kind to her. Her instructions were scattered and disorderly. Her once-gleaming array of stitch markers were tangled in her YOs. Her lifelines were listless and uneven. Her needles poked through her stitches at odd angles, and yarn trailed carelessly off her cone. But something told me her potential was still intact.
“Come on out of there,” I said gently. “Team Top Frog needs you. Pull yourself together and straighten yourself out. It’s a new day and we have work to do.”
Monday, April 24, 2006
But the Knit Train Experience is the real reason we went. It is just plain fun to sit on the Capitol Corridor train and knit with friends for a couple of hours. One of my favorite people, Nancie Wiseman, was the guest author onboard, so we got to visit for a bit, too.
Several area yarn shops (Babetta's, Frog Pond, Knitique, Lofty Lou's) and some very nice people (Lorna Miser Designs, Nancie Wiseman, Amtrak) donated some wonderful prizes -- none of which, sadly, went home with me. But I had a great time, and even met up with some on-line folks (Caitlyn, Terry, Cyndi, Lorna, Vicki). It was a good knitting day, so who could ask for more?