August 31, 2007

This strange attraction

I already wrote a post explaining exactly why I plan to start a new sock right now. And my reasoning, naturally, was flawless.

But in the middle of taking pictures, the strangest thing happened...

Without expecting it, and without looking for it...

I fell in love with the Monkey.

August 26, 2007

MDT (most dominant turkey)

I had to fall back on picking a random winner, as you all are just too funny to pick the funniest comment. Very scientifically, I asked TB for a number between 1 and 22, and he chose lucky number 13.

Thus, the winner is...(Blog-Free?) Sherry! Those are some cutie-patootie yellow Monkeys on that Flickr page, by the way (scroll down a bit to see). You can really see the pattern details in that happy yellow yarn. Not that I'm jealous or immediately went pawing through my stash for somewhat solid yarn or anything.

Thanks everyone for playing! I tried to respond to as many of you directly as I could, but I don't always get an email address from Blogger. If I didn't respond, just know that I read and thoroughly enjoyed your comments. And I've got a whole bunch of new blogs to check out, which is a huge bonus!

In other knitting, my friend Kelley (recipient of My Pretties) is starting her first baby sweater. I concocted a pattern mostly based on the Placket-Neck Pullover (sans placket) from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts. It will look kind of like this. Nice straightforward bottom-up raglan action.


Kelley's newly inducted into the cult a fairly new knitter, so she didn't have sufficient stash on hand for this project. Clearly, a trip to A Good Yarn was in order.

Equally clearly, she is a woman with good taste in yarn. Witness the Araucania Pomaire she picked out.


I predict wonderful things of her. Cuz this yarn is about 400 times prettier in person. To the point where I kept asking her if I could knit "just one row" on her sweater to see how the colors were lining up. Those few rows convinced me that all the yarn I currently have is crap. According to the Yarn Harlot, this is one of yarn's first tricks, but I fall for it every time.

I was particularly impressed that Kelley wanted to ball up her new yarn at the bar immediately afterwards.


Our very Irish twenty-something waitress brogued "You've got a whole cottage industry set up here. I feel like I should get a loom and join you." Then she pointed out that the balling up process would work much more smoothly if we used two chairs to hold the skein open. Smart lady.

Finally, in a labor of love not unlike the labors of mighty Hercules (though with less shoveling of poo), I finished TB's first sock. While I'm charmed by the way the heel and toe striping matched up, I'm still somewhat amazed at the sheer enormity of man feet.


And yes, I did make him try it on again in the 95+ degree, ungodly humid heat on Saturday.

Because sometimes love means "trying on a partially knit sock for the twentieth time even though it's well over a hundred degrees out according to the heat index."

August 22, 2007

Unblogiversary meanderings

It’s been really nice to look back over a year of posts to see how much I’ve learned (though I fully expect to screw something up spectacularly, and soon, having made that statement. I know how the knitting gods work).

Appropriately enough, my first knitting post was about my first pair of socks. I knit them on size 4 needles from the first Berroco Ultra Alpaca I ever bought. That first knitting post also included the bold proclamation that “I'm done being second sock syndrome's bitch.”

Clearly that didn't stick. My latest future Single Sock is the Ubiquitous Monkey. I picked it up again after finishing my Sockapalooza socks (hmmm…haven’t heard from sock pal yet – Trying. Not. To. Hyperventilate).

Anyway, I tried knitting a few inches of TB's socks last week, and it just seemed kinda boring and unsatisfying. Where were my beloved yarn-overs and ssks?

Ah, there you are…


You’ve heard this a zillion times on a zillion knitting blogs, but this is a damn good pattern. I even have a favorite part – I get a little thrill each time I knit into the back loop of the second part of the double yarn-over in row 4. Every time I do, I actually go “WHEEE!” in my head. Not sure why, though I suspect that it’s because I’m somewhat simple and therefore easily entertained.

As for the results? Meh. I still think the colors obscure the awesomeness of the pattern, and it pooled like a bastard at the gussets, but I’m having too much fun to care.

Plus, this yarn is waaay overdue to become a sock – it was the very first fancy sock yarn I bought, well over a year ago. When I bought it, I proudly plopped the yarn on the counter at the yarn shop, and gleefully announced that I would be starting my first socks.

The mean yarn shop lady looked at my yarn, then at me, then said in a weary tone “Everyone’s knitting socks these days. It’s really trendy.”

Good thing I didn’t know about turkey dominance back then or I would have been all up in her grill. As the kids say.

And that should remind you that the Unblogiversary Exert Your Turkey Dominance Contest is running until Sunday.

You really, really want that yarn.

You know you do.

August 20, 2007

Exert your turkey dominance contest!

I’m not at my best in the morning. So when I saw this on my way to work today, I was pretty sure my sleep-addled brain was just not processing something correctly.

Because, really, how could there possibly be a gigantic waist-high wild turkey on Beacon street, the four-lane main drag running through the by-no-means-suburban Washington Square area of Brookline, miles from any kind of woodlands?

But it actually was a real live wild turkey, just pecking in the dirt by a fire hydrant! (Note to self: never relax bloggerly vigilance for an instant by leaving camera at home because your cell phone camera will be entirely inadequate for surprise wildlife encounters).

When I passed a Brookline cop and mentioned the ENORMOUS LIVE TURKEY hanging out in the middle of a busy intersection, he rolled his eyes and said “Yeah, they’re everywhere. Wait a few months and you’ll have Thanksgiving dinner."

Even better, when I told my friends about it, Megan (of the dainty feet) sent this helpful NPR article which says Brookline is occasionally overrun by aggressive wild turkeys!

In particular, NPR says that “birds who get accustomed to suburban life apparently start to see people as other turkeys, often displaying aggressive social behavior in attempts to establish their "turkey dominance."

My friend Quinn’s response to the whole thing: “I am going to use the phrase "turkey dominance" as much as possible, and for the rest of my life.”

I heartily agree. I think the world would be much simpler if all arguments could be settled by jumping up and down on someone and flapping one's wings. In fact, I'm planning to exert my turkey dominance on TB's ass the next time we spend thirty minutes arguing about which movie to rent, by jumping on his back, flapping my arms and scratching him with a special talon I plan to grow on my leg. Just as an example.

So in honor of my blogiversary (Wednesday!) and the awesome discovery of aggressive wild turkey behavior, I'm having a contest. Leave a comment describing how you would exert your turkey dominance, or about your own strange wildlife encounter, or any funny, random thing that occurs to you, really, and you'll be eligible to win one of two skeins of Lucy's merino-tencel hand-dyed sock yarn. Just let me know which you'd prefer.

This one (we'll call it Turkey)...


Or this one (We'll call it Dominance)...


See here for a good shot of this yarn. Or those of you on Ravelry, check this out. It's hard to photograph because of the tencel, but trust me, it's good stuff.

Winner to be picked at random on Sunday, August 26, or based on whichever comment I find funniest at the time. Or both. A dominant turkey scoffs at clear rules.

Happy Monday, everyone!

August 19, 2007

Seasonal bounty

I generally consider myself a city girl, but I do love a local farm. And a farm that's having a corn and tomato festival on a beautiful, breezy summer day? I couldn't be happier.

This is what we saw when we first walked into Allandale Farm:


They're even prettier in close-up, and for $5 we could eat as much fresh-picked, grilled corn and as many tomatoes as we wanted. I took the "as much as you can eat" statement seriously.


And there was plenty of other summery veggie goodness.


I've always thought vegetables were way more picturesque than their showy, obvious cousins, the fruits and flowers. But I suppose flowers are pretty, too...


All appearances to the contrary, I am not actually with child. The pregnant look notwithstanding, I think a tractor looks damn good on me.


TB obviously agreed, because he sneakily got me this t-shirt while I was picking out tomatoes. I'm so inordinately pleased with it that I've been reduced to giggling and saying "I have a t-shirt with a tractor on it."

And why did he get me the t-shirt (other than being such a cute and thoughtful guy)? Because it's my blogiversary next week. Or rather, my un-blogiversary, the date of my first knitting post, the first time I decided to really do this blog thing.

So stay tuned for the un-blogiversary goodie giveaway!

August 17, 2007

At the close

I've heard a lot of people wondering what they'll do post-Potter, as they now have NO EPIC SERIES FANTASIES TO READ.

I like teen fantasy novels better than almost anything else in the world, so these are my suggestions (though you've probably read most of them)…

The Classics:

Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series, the Grey King being my very favorite and perfectly good as a stand-alone. Plus, they’re making a movie out of the first book and you really ought to read the book beforehand so you can smugly point out that "the book was soooo much better."

Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles

Ursula LeGuin’s Earthsea series - don’t be put off by the crappy miniseries they made a few years ago, the books are gorgeous. I’m particularly fond of these because I had a book-on-record of The Tombs of Atuan when I was a kid and used to listen to it every night before I went to bed. I realize this means I was a dark and strange child, but I’m comfortable with that.

Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.


The Abhorsen trilogy, by Garth Nix: evil spirits, flesh-hungry ghouls, kick-ass ladies, and a talking dog. What more could you want? Bonus - the heroine of the second novel is a librarian.

Robin McKinley’s Beauty

Ann McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series

Anything Tamora Pierce ever wrote, though my favorites are the original Lioness books, starting with Alanna: the First Adventure, in which a girl pretends to be a boy so she can be a knight, and much ass-whooping, sorcerous shenanigans and romantic entanglements ensue.

Annette Curtis Klause’s Blood and Chocolate: yes, the book is much better than the movie.

Diane Duane’s Deep Wizardry

Darren Shan’s Demonata : seriously gruesome, but a damn good read, from an author much-beloved by teenage boys.

Non-YA Novels

While these are technically “grown-up” books, and I don’t normally hold with that sort of thing, I can still recommend the David Eddings Belgariad and Mallorean as funny, epic and, while not hugely original, still highly entertaining. Also, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon (a feminist retelling of the King Arthur legend), and Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten (an excellent and original revision of werewolf mythology, plus, it’s got plenty of smutty bits).

So what are you reading post-Potter?

Any recommendations?

August 13, 2007

The loophole

I'm kind of afraid the yarn diet was part of my blogging mojo problem. Before, even when I had no knitting progress to show off, I could at least post some pretty pictures of new yarn. One month + into the yarn diet, I still have no new yarn. This should fill me with a sense of pride in my self-restraint and fiscal responsibility, but mostly it makes me kind of cranky.

At knitting group a few weeks ago, the Daft Crafter, her devious hands full of a lovely shawl knit up in a particularly gorgeous, envy-inspiring Noro, suggested that perhaps if the yarn diet were making me unhappy I shouldn’t be doing it. Because it’s not as if I’d be hurting anyone by buying yarn. Then she reminded me of just how much I like tweed.

DC – you are an evil temptress, and I am officially immune to your vixenish wiles. No. New. Yarn.

However, the yarn diet makes absolutely no mention of dyeing your existing yarn. Which pretty much feels like getting entirely new yarn. So thank God the knitting group ladies and I gathered at the Craft Pirate's apartment for an evening of dyeing last week.

This is what I made...


I call him El Diablo. His resemblance to the flames of hell is much more remarkable in person.

It's possible I also did another one on my own two days later...


I call him Non-Superwash Wool Really Will Felt if You Shock It with Drastic Temperature Changes, Jackass. I'm hoping the yarn is still knittable, because I was very excited to have a semi-solid in my stash, particularly in such a festive color.

As for actual knitting, it's been all stockinette sock all the time.


You can't tell in this picture, but this sock is f-ing gigantic. Having proven that he can't be trusted to try on handknits on his own, TB gave it its first supervised try-on earlier this week. And I'm proud to say that f-ing gigantic is exactly the right size.


August 9, 2007

Leaves, completed and new

As of Wednesday, my Sockapalooza socks are on their way to Washington! I hope my pal likes them. I certainly do. In fact, at the risk of appearing immodest, I love, love, love these socks. I actually loved everything about this project – the yarn, the needles, the pattern, the finished object, everything.

These are also the most intricate socks I have ever made, and I’m pleased beyond words that I finished and sent them out a mere one day late. That’s a record for me with knitted gifts. Baby steps.


Project Specs
Pattern: Embossed Leaves socks from Favorite Socks
Yarn: Claudia Handpaint fingering, quite a bit less than 2 skeins (for the thousandth time, I did not run out of yarn despite my fears), Colorway Peony
Needles: Lantern Moon rosewood needles, size 2
For: my sock pal, roughly a size 9 foot I think, but I bet I could knit them for myself using the same yarn and slightly larger 3 mm – size 2.5 – needles

There’s so very much to love about these socks – the simple-to-execute yet intricate-looking lace pattern…(which will look quite a lot nicer and less stretched-to-the-very-edge-of-the-yarn’s-capacity-across-my-chubby-arches on my sock pal, I hope, as her feet are about ½ inch smaller than mine in every dimension)…


…the star toe decrease, which actually completes the last leaf repeat (hard to see here, but brilliant, I assure you)…and the garter stitch heel, which makes for perfectly smooth, hole-free gussets…not to mention the charming striping of the variegated yarn on the sole…altogether lovely, I think.


Really, the only problem I had was that each repeat of the lace pattern starts with purl stitches. On the first sock, I faithfully started each 16-stitch repeat at the beginning of a needle, which meant starting the needle with purls. This did result in some loose and wonky-looking stitches, as I feared.


But that’s a tiny thing, and I’m more than willing to overlook it. I rejiggered the stitches on my needles for the second sock, and that made a big difference. Lesson learned.

And speaking of lessons, I was never great about responding to comments, and in the last month I’ve pretty much abandoned both commenting and responding to comments entirely. And for that I apologize. I have been reading your blogs and enjoying your comments, but I’m hopelessly behind. So I’m borrowing from Risa (see, I have been reading) who said she is starting fresh, rather than trying to catch up.

I will be better about it in the future, because I so appreciate the insight, humor, advice and support I’ve found among knitters and readers.

Ok, awkward sentimental moments aren’t my best thing… so, uh, have you seen the new Interweave Knits? With the Tangled Yoke Cardigan? Have you seen how the cables go SIDEWAYS? And that it’s made out of tweed – tweed that I ALREADY HAVE IN SUFFICIENT QUANTITY IN MY STASH?

There’s just the teensy problem of reading the stupid chart to get around. There’s no way I’ll be able to tell all those cable symbols apart. I’m thinking I might photocopy the chart, blow it up to a reasonable size and highlight the different symbols in different colors. Colors I can follow. Mysterious twisty symbols, not so much. What think you?

There’s probably also the problem of endless miles of stockinette stitch and button bands and seaming and the little niggling thought that I should probably finish Wicked first, but did I mention the sideways cables?? And the tweed??

Mmmm… tweed…

August 7, 2007

I blame the reading

A few weeks ago, when I was walking home from work, I happened to overhear a conversation between a group of teenage guys. As an aspiring teen librarian, I find teenagers intriguing, though I do worry that my desire to work with teenagers is like my occasional desire to drink tequila – it seems like a great idea in theory, but the reality of it will likely disappoint.

In any case, there were three of them, bristling with piercings, spiky multi-colored hair and punk rock attitude. They were ribbing each other mildly until one of them got in a real dig, saying “Hey, didn’t you used to play football?”

Silence descended on the group, football being So. Not. Punk. Rock.

The offending former athlete scuffed his boot-clad foot on the ground, ran his fingers impatiently through his green locks, and said “Yeah, I used to do lots of stuff. But then I discovered reading. I blame the reading.” Heh.

I wish I could blame the reading for the recent lack of blogging and the lack of knitting. While I have happily made my way through Dune (awesome), the final Harry Potter (sigh) and The Hero and the Crown (fabulous), that’s not the reason I’ve been such a bad blogger.

I think it’s a combination of things – the new job (which is fine, just the usual stress of starting something new and not knowing anything), doing a bit of contract work for the old job (time-consuming, though lucrative), and a distinct lack of mojo (wherein everything I knit turned out like ass).

Example A of the mojo problem – my friend Blog-Free* Jessica asked me to help her kitchener the toe of her first sock, knit up in a really gorgeous variegated blue merino-tencel blend. That Lucy at Mind’s Eye Yarns is a dyeing genius, by the way. I can’t buy any of her yarn, but you totally should, she has an Etsy shop and everything.

Anyway, Blog-Free Jessica presented the sock for kitchenering, stitches already lined up on two needles, and I showed her how to do the first few stitches. She immediately grasped the main steps, saying “Knit off, purl on, purl off, knit on?” Yes, and such a clever, easy way to remember the stitch! I watched proudly as she continued knitting off and purling on. When she paused to admire the smooth, invisible join we had created, she realized I had cleverly started kitchenering the seam perpendicular to the toe decreases.


See? My mojo problem got so bad that I could even make other people’s knitting turn out like ass. Sigh.

I seem to have snapped out of it, thanks in large part to the happy delivery of my Sockapalooza package. It reminded me just how much I love this knitting thing and how much I like knitbloggers (and knitters in general). This stuff is important to me, and I need to make the time to do it.

Since I can’t rely on a secret sock pal package to conveniently show up the next time I lose my mojo, I wonder what you all do when you feel like you’ve lost your mojo?

Coming soon...finished Embossed Leaves socks. An unseemly lust for the Tangled Yoke Cardigan. And a great big apology.

* Shout-out here to Francois for the most excellent phrase "blog-free, not blogless."

August 3, 2007

The kindness of strangers and coworkers

It was a banner day for booty at my house (not that kind of booty - get your minds out of the gutter).

First, as previously mentioned, my fantastic Sockapalooza package arrived. My pal is Amy of Taitai Knits, and she managed to knit these socks in the midst of making preparations to move - from Charleston, SC to Malaysia! This is clearly a woman that knows how to multitask.


To show just how well-suited these socks are for me, they're pictured with some of my favoritest stash yarn, in a color I've mentioned adoring) ...

Not content with just making a lovely pair of socks...Amy also threw in some awfully nice goodies for a little taste of her city...


Thank you again, Amy! You were an awesome sock pal, and I wish you all the best in your move and your new home in Malaysia!

As if that wasn't enough excitement, I had my belated going-away party for my old job yesterday. And I have to say, if you plan to quit your job, you would do well to make sure you have knitting coworkers before you do. Recruit if necessary.

Because if you do have knitting coworkers like Awesome Meredith, your going-away present might look something like this...


This was a group effort, though, including some very tasty treats all the way from Germany, courtesy of my friend and colleague Dennis, who happened to be visiting from Munich for meetings.

What you can't see is that the yarn is my beloved Berroco Ultra Alpaca, and that I'm now the proud owner of my first Chibi, or that there were some damn cute patterns and other knitting goodies in the basket as well. There was even a gift certificate for Webs.

You know what that means, don't you? 100% guilt free yarn purchases. That Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light? It will be mine.

Oh yes, it will be mine.

Or perhaps a bit of this...

or this...

or some more of this...

I am a lucky woman.

August 2, 2007

Thank you

I had an entire post pre-written offline about my lack of blogging and knitting recently, and my sense that I had completely and totally lost my mojo. And I'll post a modified version of it soon, and there will be WIP pictures, and knitting, and snark again. Soon.

But for now, I have to just say thank you to my wonderful, wonderful Sockapalooza sock pal, Amy. I got my package tonight, and I briefly flirted with the idea that I would wait until I had finished my own Sockapalooza socks before opening it. Then I admitted that I have no self-control and opened the package immediately.

And I was floored, yet again, by the talent and kindness and thoughtfulness of other knitters.

The socks are gorgeous, and they fit perfectly, and they are exactly the same beautiful blue-green-teal color as several of the loveliest yarns I have ever posted about. They are just the most perfect, gorgeously colored, soft and delicious socks I could ever ask for. Plus, there were goodies. Pictures and a full post to come soon, I promise.

But for now, just a sincere and heartfelt thank you to Amy in Charleston.

You are fabulous.