June 28, 2007

In a rut

I think I'm in a stockinette rut. Part of the problem is my deep and abiding love for self-striping sock yarn. Even sock yarn like the Lorna's Laces that misbehaves so very badly.

After frogging the pooly Jaywalker, I decided a plain stockinette sock, with a picot edge would be perfect. And it turned out fairly nicely. Of course, I could barely yank the thing onto my feet pre-blocking, so I'm hoping for a blocking miracle wherein the yarn relaxes enough that it will fit the recipient.

And by "hoping for a blocking miracle", I mean "planning to frog and reknit."


I suppose I could spice things up a bit by doing a Jaywalker, but the combination of my very tight gauge and the Jaywalker's lack of stretch makes it unlikely a Jaywalker would fit anyone but my friend Megan, she of the dainty feet. I love Megan dearly, but there are other people I should be knitting for.

Like TB. Kristy asked me what went wrong with the brown socks, after all my careful measuring, and I told her that, despite my careful measuring, I just decided to wing it with how many stitches to cast on and how many stitches to pick up at the gusset and how long to knit the foot. Turns out, winging it doesn't work so well.

Not learning my lesson, I promptly did the same thing with this sock.


The yarn is the delicious Austermann Step, which I won in a contest over at the Craft Pirate's. The Daft Crafter suggested we tell everyone that the Pirate's prizes were utter crap to improve our chances of winning her contests, but she has wonderful taste in prizes. The yarn is self-striping in greens, with little red tweedy bits and is an absolute joy to knit with. You should all go to her blog all the time, just in case she has a contest. And because she's funny. And an excellent knitter, but all modest and unassuming about it anyway.

The Step yarn is infused with aloe vera and jojoba oil. I'm also using vacation-purchased Lantern Moon rosewood needles, and the amazingly soft yarn and beautiful needles are such a tactile pleasure that I just keep knitting. Even though I really did intend to just knit a gauge swatch. But after casting on 50 stitches for the swatch and realizing I knit much differently in the round than I do back-and-forth, I thought I might as well just cast on another 14 stitches and start a sock. I'm getting about 7 stitches per inch (a miraculous and previously unachievable sock yarn gauge for me), and thinking this sock might have TB written all over it.

I also need to start on my Sockapalooza sock. My sock pal seems to like pink, and doesn't like mismatched socks. My sock yarn stash runs heavy towards the variegated and the orange self-striping, so there really wasn't anything in the stash that would suit her. Clearly, I needed some new yarn.


Knit-from-Your-Stash officially begins on Sunday, so I slid this one in just under the wire. Thanks for the encouragement - I really think it's doable.

And finally, the mysterious and very funny Francois reappeared in the comments. I get a lot of amount of mileage out of the comment you made about being entitled to call yourself the Slayer after removing spiders from the bedroom, but I don't know who you are! Do you have a blog? If not, an email address? If you are (sadly) blogless, I'm at arieltinks AT yahoo DOT com, if you want to, er, reveal yourself.

June 26, 2007

After careful consideration

I reviewed the ratio of Finished Objects to New Yarn purchases reported recently on this blog, and it doesn't look good. In fact, it's a little embarassing. Lots of new yarn. Not so much with the finished objects.

So I'm considering joining Knit From Your Stash 2007 for the second half of the year. I have so many beautiful sock yarns and so many nice sweater yarns that it's just foolish to keep buying more yarn.

So, here are the modified rules I'm considering:

1. The Knit-From-Your-Stash-a-Thon will start July 1, 2007 and end December 31, 2007.

2. I will not buy yarn during that time, with a few exceptions.

2.a. The clever knitter behind Knit-From-Your Stash had an exemption for sock yarn. Tempting, but sock yarn is a big part of the problem. So no sock yarn. Eek!

2.b. Yarn may be purchased for a specific requested knitted gift. I will make every effort not to encourage recipients in the direction of a yarn I want to buy or try. That would be cheating.

2.c. If I run out of yarn mid-project, I can buy enough to finish the project.

2.d. If I go to Rhinebeck, it does not count.

3. Yarny gifts and swaps are also permitted.

What do you think? Reasonable?

June 23, 2007

I thought festival and festive had a common root

TB and I went to the Phantom Gourmet BBQ Beach Party this afternoon. For the non-Bostonians, the Phantom Gourmet does restaurant reviews and food events and has an enormous cult-like following of purple-clad "Phans." We received purple mardi gras beads at the door, and I noticed there were quite a lot of people wearing dozens of strings of the purple beads, presumably from different Phantom events. Or possibly from other Phantom Phans they killed in order to absorb their strength (and mardi gras beads) a la Highlander. Though probably the former.

And while I've never been a huge fan of the show, the nice thing is that the Phantom visits and reviews restaurants anonymously, so his/her restaurant experience is uncolored by the preferential treatment usually accorded to a known food writer.

And I do love me some smoked pork products, so the fest seemed like a good idea. Because here's what I thought would happen. I would go, stand in line for 5-10 minutes per stand, get a three rib sampler (possibly with macaroni and cheese on the side when available), share said three rib sampler with TB, wash it down with cold beer, and repeat until I felt like I might throw up.

Here's what actually happened.


These are not happy beach party people. These are hot, hungry, angry people waiting in ill-defined lines for well over an hour - at each stand - without beer. Because you could only drink beer in the beer garden area, which was separate from the barbecue-buying area.

I don't know why I thought no one else would want BBQ on a gorgeous summer day, but I never would have gone if I knew it would be like that. The barbecue itself was passable, though I think it would have to actually be orgasmically good to justify an hour+ wait to buy it.

As for the "beach party" aspect, the event was held at our City Hall plaza, which mostly looks like this.


Clearly, the location was lacking both the "natural" and "oceanic" aspects that usually characterize a beach. Also missing from City Hall are "architectural charm" and "aesthetic pleasure," but that's another matter entirely.

I suppose the event organizers did make an effort in the "beach party" direction.


Unless this is actually a giant ashtray. Or a litter box. I'm not sure.

Ok, rant over. Your regularly scheduled programming of too-small socks will return tomorrow.

There's something wrong with the sheep

One of the knitting group ladies found the trailer for this gem a few months ago, but Black Sheep isn't playing yet in Boston. I know this because I check. Every. Single. Week.

Evil Dead meets mutant sheep ravenous for human flesh? How awesome is that?!

So imagine how thrilled I was when TB called to tell me that it's available RIGHT NOW via Comcast On Demand, in the IFC in Theaters section. I didn't know it was possible to love a cable company, but I find myself thinking awfully fond thoughts about Comcast right now.

I know what I'll be watching tonight, how about you?

June 21, 2007

Boyfriend socks

Not just for boyfriend's anymore!

So I knit a pair of socks for TB. I carefully measured his ankle and instep and foot. I knew he preferred that the stripes match up fairly well, so I went to extraordinary lengths to ensure the randomly self-striping yarn striped similarly on both socks. My loathing of weaving in ends ensured that, while the sock knitting was officially completed on June 3, the ends were not woven in until last weekend.

If you look at the finished socks, you'll notice something funny. Despite my best efforts, the damn things still don't match! When I pointed this out to TB, he assured me that he liked them just fine. Whew!


What the pictures don't show is that the stupid socks in no way fit on his man-size feet, despite my measuring and pattern adjusting and added width and length. I had him try on the first sock, which he said fit nicely. However, upon trying on both finished socks (thousands and thousands of stitches after he had the opportunity to mention that the first one DID NOT FIT), they are clearly way too small.

I spent several hours pissily blaming him for this. I realize this is both illogical and unfair.

Then I thought a little more about the not-insignificant upside to the situation.


They fit me perfectly.

June 17, 2007


So the one saving grace of Berroco Ultra Alpaca (and by "saving grace" I mean "the thing that keeps me from buying piles of it in every colorway") is that it's heavy, overly warm stuff. A sweater in this yarn would be reserved for the most brutally cold of Boston winter days. And this is good. Because otherwise, we would have a problem.

Oh, what's that you say? Berroco is making an Ultra Alpaca Light? A yarn that knits up to a perfectly light and lovely 5.75 stitches per inch? A gauge that could conceivably be used to knit the snuggliest and most wonderful, but not suffocatingly warm, socks and sweaters and scarves? And you say that the colors are still as gorgeous and rich and subtle as in the original Ultra Alpaca?

Oh shit.

Homegrown, handspun and wholly ravelled

First, thank you to everyone for the nice thoughts on the new job. I really can't wait to start.

That said, I think I might need to reconsider this working for a living thing, because I'm pretty sure my true gifts lie in the area of leisure. In particular, I demonstrated an impressive aptitude for shopping, eating in nice restaurants and reading as much as I damn well pleased last week. Also, a real flair for not checking email or worrying about work.

As you may have guessed, the family trip to Ashland, Oregon was wonderful. While I may be a bit biased having grown up there, I think it's an absolutely, completely perfect vacation destination. And mighty picturesque, too.

Lithia Creek2

Ashland Hills

Though very small and located many hours away from almost anywhere you might normally want to go, Ashland is home to America's first Elizabethan theater, and a phenomenal summer Shakespeare series. We saw Romeo and Juliet (sigh), the Tempest (Ariel, hurrah!) and the Taming of the Shrew (a bit hard to swallow from a feminist perspective), all of which were impeccably staged, costumed and acted and reminded me why I have trouble seeing Shakespeare anywhere else (I'm spoiled).

When we weren't busy absorbing high culture, we were "busy" eating and shopping. I just recently finished Barbara Kingsolver's wonderful Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, so I was particularly excited to see local meat, produce and cheeses on most of the restaurant menus. And I was even more thrilled to visit the Growers and Crafters Market, where I saw firsthand the farmers that were producing such wonderful foods.

Ashland Growers Market

The most amazing part was that this food WAS NOT EXPENSIVE. At the local food co-op (more like a Whole Foods than your typical dingy hippie co-op), organic local baby potatoes were $1 a pound. A DOLLAR A POUND FOR BABY POTATOES, people. And organic lettuce was $1 a head. And don't even get me started on the chocolate and the cheese. It went a long way towards disproving the idea that local, small scale, organic and/or sustainably grown food is prohibitively expensive for everyday consumption.

Of course, where there are that many farmers, there's always the possibility that some of them will be raising sheep. Or, more importantly, that someone will be spinning and dyeing wool. And I was not disappointed.

I scored these two skeins of a 50% Llama/ 50% wool blend, handspun and dyed by the fine folks at Frolic 'n Fibers.

Frolic 'n Fibers Llama Wool Handdye

And this crazy stuff from another local producer, whose name I can't remember for the life of me. I think it will make a nifty simple scarf.

Mystery Ashland HandDye

Ashland also boasts a lovely yarn shop called The Websters, which is smack in the middle of the main downtown plaza. I must have walked by it at least once a day for almost ten years, and never noticed it. Because knitting was, you know, lame. What a silly, silly girl I was.

I was ever-so-slightly disappointed that they didn't have more local spinners' and dyers' work for sale, but that was quickly outweighed by awe at the sheer size of their sock yarn collection. They have a whole shelf taller than me devoted just to Lana Grossa sock yarns. And they knit up sample socks for every style of yarn, and every single colorway. It was amazing.

So I can say with confidence that these two Meilenweit yarns will make beautiful socks.


I also had my mom pick out some yarn for her socks. This is Crystal Palace Panda Cotton, which is a bamboo/cotton/elastic blend, and comes in a quite fetching range of colors. Mom chose Fall Herbs for her socks. Apparently, the love of variegated sock yarn runs strong in our family. Just like the Force, but with more potential for pooling.

Panda Cotton1

Finally, I received my Ravelry invitation last week. When I didn't have my laptop and was thousands of miles away from my stash. Thank goodness I had all that new yarn to distract me.

And holy crap! Now I totally understand what all the Ravelry fuss is about. It's like the site developers lived inside my head and created a site that did everything I ever wanted a knitting site to do. Like in the stash section, where it defaults to a thumbnail view? My first thought was "Wow - It would be so cool if you could download this to Excel", and voila! I noticed the Excel download icon. Pure genius.

It's probably just as well I didn't get my invite earlier. I spent all day today - literally, all day - taking pictures of yarn and starting to categorize my stash. This stash thing is not a one-day undertaking. I just watched An Inconvenient Truth and am feeling some twinges of guilt about my personal overconsumption. Stay tuned for potential destashing as I begin to face the stash's true magnitutude.

I'm still catching up on bloglines, so I'm very excited to see what you all have been up to! I hope you've been having fun, too!

June 12, 2007

The big reveal

So I did that thing I hate...I said "I have a secret, a big secret, but I can't tell you until next week." Then I didn't tell you. I am a bad, bad blogger.

The big secret is that I have a new job! I'm ending my seven year stint at a large multinational consulting company and trading in the corporate life for a marketing database analyst job at a small cookbook and cooking magazine publishing company located walking distance from my house, where people wear jeans and bring their dogs to work. It's a tremendous opportunity to use my skills to help a wonderful company grow. My hope is that this job will also give me more free time (no more Saturdays in the office!) to knit and cook and craft and write and do all those wonderful things I don't get to do nearly enough of now. I can't wait to start.

I'm actually in Oregon right now, in my hometown for the first time in over a decade. Normally, I wouldn't go on vacation in my last month before starting a new job, but this trip is to celebrate my mother's 60th birthday and retirement and was planned (and paid for) months ago. And thank goodness for that! Ashland is sunny and beautiful and relaxing and the food is local and organic. I found hand-spun, hand-dyed yarn at the Growers and Crafters Market. And I'm making good progress on Sock Formerly Known as Pooly Jaywalker.

I don't have my laptop, so no pictures and no more posts until I return next weekend.

Hope everyone else is having a wonderful week as well.

June 3, 2007

Some days you knit the sock...

...And some days, the sock it knits you.

TB's socks are almost complete.


The Yarn Harlot says that socks are a wildly impractical thing to knit. Unlike sweaters, which when well-made and properly cared-for will last a lifetime, socks, by their very nature, will wear out. So why do we spend hours and hours knitting thousands of tiny stitches to produce something that will eventually fall apart? Out of love.

Sock knitting, more than any other kind of knitting, is an act of love.

I might add that knitting socks for your boyfriend and trying your damnedest to make an identical pair out of randomly self-striping yarn, requiring the weaving-in of over twenty ends for a pair of socks, is an act of pure, near-saintly, devotion.

And a sign that you are The Best Girlfriend in the World.

In less successful knitting, Lorna's Laces and I are totally in a fight.


On top is the by now ubiquitous Monkey (see it here and here and of course here), whose absolute awesomess is obscured by the "striping" of the Clay colorway. Did it stripe up like that when I tried to knit a Jaywalker with it? No, it did not.

On the bottom is an about-to-be-frogged Jaywalker in Happy Stripe. The yellow stripe is quite a bit longer than the turquoise one, and at 84 stitches for the size large, the turquoise stripe isn't long enough to make a full round. Thus, blotchy yellow pooling. This will be frogged and reknit as a basic stockinette sock.

Score: Knitting the Sock 1, Sock Knitting Me 2.

I've also gotten woefully behind on bloglines and responding to email. There are big, big things afoot at Casa Librarian-in-Training, but I can't really talk about them until next week. Rest assured, the things are good, but they've taken up a lot of my time and focus in recent weeks.

Full disclosure next week.