Dienstag, Februar 27, 2007

Ya Gotta Know When to Fold 'Em

I haven't actually made up my mind yet, but . . .

Let's back up a couple of hours. We woke up to a blizzard.

Trusty went out to potty, then promptly went back to bed.

Hey, gimme a break, I'm trying to sleep in here!

But I was a woman on a mission. When I washed my socks a couple of days ago, I discovered that my very favorite pair in the whole world, a Nancy Bush design knitted in cushy Bearfoot, had a hole in the heel. I had used a short row heel rather than the Nancy Bush one, so I figured I could just clip out the heel and reknit it. Although I didn't have any of the original yarn left I had an Apple Pie colorway that I thought would work to reheel both socks.

I picked up stitches around the heel and then cut away the heel. I had to pick out the remaining yarn, and carefully unravel the last bits of it to make sure I had every stitchpicked up.

I worked in the loose ends, then got ready to knit. Then I realized that more than just the heel needed to be replaced. I don't know if you can see it in this picture, but the whole center of the foot area is very thin.

There's no point in reheeling the sock if the foot is just going to wear out the next time I wear them. I could duplicate stitch over the foot area to reinforce it before knitting, but I suspect I would feel the extra thickness and be annoyed. These were my favorite socks because they felt so good to wear.

For now I've tossed the socks in the project bag to marinate a little. It might be more practical just to re-foot the socks. I would enjoy doing that a lot more than I would enjoy tedious duplicate stitching, and it would be easier to prepare the second sock because I could just work on the simple tubular part of the sock instead of the heel, which turned out to be a little confusing to work on. If I decide to refoot, I'll use Bearfoot again, but probably in a contrasting color since I'll never get a match on the original colorway.

Opinions, anyone? Many of my handknit socks are in the basement waiting to be made into something (potholders? a quilt?) but I would like to keep wearing these.

I have other stuff to work on. I want to finish my Marble Arches socks before the next Rockin' Sock Club kit comes.

See that skinny stripe right in the middle of the leg? Uh Huh. Cesare.

I need to package up the finished Shaped Cable Scarf and mail it to Kendra while it is still winter.

Most of all, I need to get our tax info collected to send to the accountant. And you know what? I'm not padding around the house in my precious handknitted socks today. They're a renewable resource, but I've suddenly realized how much work it is to renew them, and I'm not sure I have the attention span for it.

Sonntag, Februar 25, 2007

Can I please not be THAT creative?

A lot of people I know are creative. Laurel is an architect and designs her own quilts and other things. She even designed the first sweater she ever knit. Joanne is an artist and creates a variety of art, some fiber based and some not. Kathy subsidises her family's income with fantasy art.

I am creative, too. I can write music, although it is painful and stresses me out when it's not going well. I can throw ingredients into a pot and have fairly edible food come out. So there are at least two things I can do which are creative.

So is it OK if I'm not creative about my knitting?

I like to knit the exact sweater in the picture, with the yarn the designer used, and often in the exact colors the designer selected. After all, he or she is good at color. His or her use of color suprises me and delights me, and that's the main reason I like his or her pattern in the first place in most cases. Color is my starting place, and yet I'm not good at producing it. Yarns that I dye come out looking like clown barf in many cases. Combinations I put together come out boring. I like working with a good designer.

When I worked at a knitting store (The Needlepoint Joint in Ogden, Utah) it was frustrating to help knitters find a good substitute when we didn't carry the exact yarn. I felt bad for people who couldn't see the sweater in another color. I learned what yarns can or can't substitute for something else: wool doesn't drape like silk, cotton doesn't bounce back like wool. I can see the sweater in another color, but what if I LIKE the color the designer used, AND it is is a good color for me, AND I can find the yarn somewhere?

Sometimes I want to see what will happen IF. But when my Rockin' Sock Club kit comes, I want to knit the pattern they gave me. Some creative person slaved over getting the shaping right, the cuff pattern to come out with the stitch count, the right number of beads. Because they were willing to do all that hard stuff, I can knit in peace. Thank you, designers. I love you.

There is an undertone of contempt, or at least pity, for people like me in books like Mason-Dixon Knitting. They want me to branch out, to do my own thing. I will, I promise. But my own thing will probably be a trio for violin, viola and cello (so you know how hard it is to find a violist?), not an original sweater or even sock design. (I might consider a log cabin blanket out of left-over yarn, though. Those things look very non-stressish and relaxing) Right now I'm not writing music at all because I'm dealing with stress and health issues. But because I can slavishly knit other people's designs--Miriam's shawl, a club sock--my knitting isn't stressing me out. I can still knit.

The odd thing is that I still feel creative. For some reason watching a pink and charcoal sock crawl off the needles feels creative, even though I didn't dye the yarn or design the pattern. I'm creating something out of nothing, a fabric out of string, clothing out of little nondescript balls of yarn. Wow! It makes me happy!

So what do you think? Is it OK if I'm just marginally creative? If you say yes, you can have one of my hard as a rock, 2-Weight-Watcher-point brownies. THOSE were a creative tour deforce.

Samstag, Februar 24, 2007

It's always something

I did not go near The Vault yesterday. Instead, I spent hours trying to figure out what I had done wrong with my diet sweater.

Tucked away when I got busy with concerts and shopping etc. before Christmas, the diet sweater had not progressed for several months. I threw it in the car as an emergency project for a snowy day yesterday,

and did in fact need it when the health food store turned out not to open until 10:00. My other errands were finished by 9:00, and in a snowstorm it seemed wiser to wait rather than go home.

The first thing I discovered is that I had misread my last line of the chart, going "1 red, 3 burgundy" instead of "4 burgundy." I picked it out, and discovered that whatever perverted version of my brain was in effect back in early November had noticed there was a problem, but attempted to fix it by knitting two together now and then to make the pattern come out even.


I remember wondering what I had done wrong, but it never occurred to me I might have misread the chart.

Then, after laboriously picking that row out and redoing it, I realized that the whole previous row of fair isle was not centered!

I must have known it at the time. Was this a different person? Did I accidentally get someone else's knitting?

After studying the pattern, the chart, and my knitting I realized that I actually made the mistake with my first fair isle stitch of the WHOLE SWEATER. I had completely ignored the clearly marked "Left Front" and "Right Front" lines on my chart, and started my cardigan, which I am knitting in the round with rounds starting at the front steek, where the back should have begun.

Sheesh. So I spent the afternoon frogging, and didn't even get it all back to square one.

I think I had some misguided vision that I would be able to knit the design all the way around without breaking the chart at the side seams (the pattern is designed to be knitted flat, like most Rowan desgins). Nope. No. Nie, nunca, never.

So much for that quiz a few days ago that said I was good at hiding my mistakes.

Donnerstag, Februar 22, 2007

The Vault Project

We celebrated Mardi Gras on Monday, combining it with a birthday party for Howard who has just hit the big 3-0

That's Howard on the right, with his wife, Amber. He made his own pinata, which is one of the benefits of having adult children. It is a model of the planet Raxacoricofallapatorius. Luckily no one hit the pinata with the rifle butt (don't ask--but at least there wasn't a weapon attached) while his head was in it.

We had red beans and rice, with king cake for dessert. Joanne got the baby on Mardi Gras morning when she ate her take-home piece for breakfast.

My neighbor told me where to find interesting whole grains in my town, the one part of my food plan that I was still puzzled about. So now I can get on with the next project:


So named by Margene, The Vault is where I keep my yarn. Up until approximately one year, one month, and 22 days ago it was tidy and organized. You can tell by the second picture that there were neatly labelled bins with the yarn in them, and shelves for the books.

Next door there was a less-organized spinning studio. I admit, it wasn't getting as much use as the organized room, because it was less-organized. *note: "less-" whatever is Mormon-speak for "total crap," as in, "That was less-effective" means "That SO did not work."

Enter Paul, whom I love very much and who does many things to help me. I had promised to clean out the spinning studio so he could finish the walls, floors, and ceiling, and install bookshelves. I didn't get around to it, and so on New Year's Eve of 2005 he did it for me, transferring the contents of the studio to the stash room.

I discovered this when I went in to get a book. I couldn't even get to the bookshelves, and it took an archaeological dig to find the sewing machine.

It took me a while to appreciate Paul's help.

However, my spinning and knitting stash represented some twelve or fourteen years of mindless shopping, and it did need going through. Thanks to Paul's all-or-nothing cleaning style, I was forced to reconsider some of my stash.

I called a few friends who had already been in my house so Paul trusted them and invited them to a stash giveaway. My daughters and daughters-in-law helped me set it up, separating the things I knew I would actually use from the things that made me feel overwhelmed. Out the door went most of the fleeces I bought during the Y2K scare, thinking my neighbors would need blankets if our society bucketed. (Never mind that my neighbors are affluent and have blankets, and that I don't know how to weave). Out the door went boxes of acrylic given to me by a neighbor who was de-stashing a few years previously. Gone were the rovings too scratchy to spin, the sale yarn I bought only Because It Was On Sale.

I kept my favorite sock yarns, some particularly nice fleeces, and any yarn of which there was enough for a complete project that I still wanted to do.

What I didn't do was re-organize what was left. I was still in school (I may still be in school for the next five years), and then when I was taking fewer classes it was because I was a stress case and just barely getting through what had to be done. Some of the plastic bins are still only partly full, and most of my magazines are on the floor due to continued poor access to the bookshelves.

I am trying to keep my stress level down, so I'm not going in there tomorrow and do it all. Just looking at that pile of patterns makes me want to scream. But I think I will spend an hour a day in there and see how long it takes

Possible sub-projects:

1) Clear a path; there must be a better place for the dyeing crockpot than on the floor

2) Put away patterns and magazines since they already have designated spots (once a path is cleared to get to them)

3) Reorganize and relabel the plastic bins

Save the best for last, I always say. Maybe I can get through the boring stuff by looking forward to fondling the stash.

Mittwoch, Februar 21, 2007

Excuses, Excuses

I have had a weird week, and it has made me not feel like taking photos and blogging. After our adventure last week I had a chat with my doctor, as I mentioned. As a result I have spent the last week trying to get my head around a low-carb diet (Weight Watcher's Core Plan), and do the requisite shopping. I also learned how to use my glucometer. I have needle tracks up and down my arms.

My doctor had suggested I "eat the way I eat" so she could find out what my blood sugar does. So after three days of staying on the Core plan and having very good glucose readings, I staged a binge.

It's actually hard to binge when you don't feel like it.

Three bowls of Wheaties with milk and sugar sent my glucose level rocketing up, not to the point at which I had instructions to call the doctor, but close. And it didn't come back down during the following 24 hours in which I continued to "eat the way I eat," which included King Cake in honor of Mardi Gras. In fact, it didn't come back down until this morning, after 24 hours back on the Core plan.

This was pretty sobering for me. And not only were these test values bad, but my other lab tests showed high insulin, and high glucose levels over the past three months.

I have been overweight since recovering from depression surrounding my last pregnancy--and my youngest son is 25. If my mother hadn't been diagnosed as diabetic, and if I hadn't gone to her doctor's appointment with her and heard him say "400% increased chance of heart disease" I still wouldn't have done anything about it. Of course I have dieted all this time, but the temptation was always too great when the family parties rolled around, or Baskin Robbins had Winter White Chocolate in stock.

Suddenly those Cadbury Creme Eggs don't look so good.

I have been knitting, just not photographing.

1) I struggled through another two repeats of the shaped cable scarf I'm knitting for Kendra the opera singer (I had put it away for too long and couldn't remember where I was in the chart).

2) I'm only a few rows away from the end of chart 6 in the Hidcote Garden Shawl and my diamonds are coming out to actually look like diamonds.

3) I started a pair of Pomotamus socks in a Fleece Artist colorway called Seashore. They didn't make it past the ribbing (I say they, since I started both at the same time on two circs). They look like a basket of Easter eggs! I'm sorry, just because I bought a pink shirt doesn't mean I'm into pastels. But I have three granddaughters, and they will like Easter egg socks.

I guess I will give up on starting another pair of socks until the Rockin' Sock Club kit comes. It's not like I was going to finish Pomatomus in two weeks anyway.

I'm a little disturbed because I can't find Paul's toe-up socks. Did I leave them at church? Did they fall our of the car? It's not just a sock and a half that had been knit five times due to struggling with stitch count, needle size, gauge, and having to add a gusset for a high arch. It's the two sets of two circular needles and the cute little bag with an unravelling sheep on it that Joanne gave me.

Bear with me. I may be normal soon.

Note: The South Beach Diet cookbook works great with Weight Watchers Core!

Sonntag, Februar 18, 2007

Just Copycatting Joanne

You are Mohair.You are a warm and fuzzy type who works well with others, doing your share without being too weighty. You can be stubborn and absolutely refuse to change your position once it is set, but that's okay since you are good at covering up your mistakes.
Take this quiz!

I think this describes me pretty well, especially the part about being good at covering up my mistakes.

Samstag, Februar 17, 2007

Consciousness Raising Success

Just now I was sitting at the computer with a blank brain. I said, "I can't remember what I was going to look for online." Paul said, "Sock yarn!"

Is he good or what?

He's come a long way since the day he thought I was crocheting because my project was lace; or went to Susan's Fiber Shop and thought the spinning class was weaving.

I should be so good at telling Corvettes apart.

Mittwoch, Februar 14, 2007

Going Down the Garden to Eat Worms

I thought my knitting classes last week had gone reasonably well. Short-row toes aren't the easiest thing to grasp, and everyone went home short-rowing. However, while Paul and I were on our way to Elko

Great Salt Lake

Salt Factory (can you tell which one?)

I got a call from Shannon at Hemstitched Heirlooms saying that stacks of people were having problems.

I explained what to do over the phone, but there wasn't anything else I could do about it, since I was out of town without a computer. So I knitted. Hard.

I knitted my second Winter's Eve (now dubbed Valentine's Day) sock.

I stitched the beads on a cap I started last winter.

From last year's Winter Rowan Magazine

The whole time I worried about the class members who were having problems. The words of the worm song kept going through my head:

Nobody likes me, everybody hates me,
I'm going down the garden to eat worms:
Big fat juicy ones, long thin skinny ones,
Oooey gooey, icky, sticky worms.

All I could think of was to make some changes to the pattern when I got home (that's next on my list).

I really appreciated the positive review Lark posted. I needed that.

Paul finished his lecture in Elko at about 8:30 p.m. their time last night. However, he also had a lecture to give in Park City, some 200+ miles away, at 7:15 a.m. We got to Park City at around 2:00 a.m. It was a short night.

We were shocked to open a newspaper at breakfast in Park City to learn about the horrible shooting that took place at Trolley Square Mall in Salt Lake. Margene has news links in case you want to follow up on it. We had been driving all over Nevada and Utah listening to Master and Commander and had not listened to the news.

We headed through Heber Valley and Provo Canyon

to an appointment with that all-around Renaissance woman, Sue Maturlo, who not only knits, weaves, spins, dyes, and plays the piano but knows her way around the endocrine system. I came away with a glucometer and plans to finally get my insulin resistance under control. Going to the doctor with my mom to learn how to manage her diabetes really put the fear into me. I made my appointment with Sue from the waiting room of mom's doctor!

So it's off to Weight Watchers (Sue recommends I learn how to follow the Core Plan, which is lower in carbs) this evening, and a return to the long-abandoned diet sweaters. Wish me luck.

Montag, Februar 12, 2007

Whoa, dudes!

I actually finished something! I actually finished one of my Winter's Eve socks.

Or is that just a half a something, since socks come in pairs?

But I have some extended knitting time coming up, since Paul invited me to ride with him to the close edge of Nevada where he is giving medical lectures tomorrow (and one in Park City on Wednesday morning). I should be able to wear my Winter's Eve socks for Valentine's Day. I better pack my sock blockers.

After talking with Laritza about the Hidcote Garden Shawl, I think I'm going to blunder ahead with mine and just hope not to run out of yarn. She finished hers with 1200 yards, and I'm a tight knitter, so I might be able to as well. And if not, I'll just shorten the edging.

Be sure to check out the new episode of Let's Knit2gether, if you haven't already. I can't tell you how excited I am about these video podcasts. In this episode Cat shows how to knit a bead bracelet. I took a class a few years ago, but needed a refresher course. In my renewed enthusiasm, I have already been to Earthfaire to get a bracelet clasp and, although I already have thread and Bead Soup, I could not resist this kit. After all, Miss Pink and Purple's birthday is coming up in just a couple of weeks. And I might have asked Ellen to throw in a ball of Tofutsies . . . When people started making string out of plant fibers, did they ever guess those piles of shells left over from dinner might one day be useful as well?

Freitag, Februar 09, 2007

More Boring Yarn Pictures

I'm sorry nothing ever seems to happen here other than yarn shopping. The least I could do is re-rig this ship.

I do actually do other stuff. I got an A on my counterpoint quiz, which is a step up from the previous assignment which was so bad it came back marked "NC" for No Credit. I taught the first half of a toe-up knitting class, with reasonable success: everyone mastered the short-row toe, but one person left upset over her gauge.

While at the hairdresser I managed to get my Winter's Eve sock into the gusset decreases.

I'm not good at knitting in short snatches any more. It makes me feel rushed and I don't enjoy it as much. Gradually I've got so that when I don't have time to sit and enjoy my knitting time, I am often guilty of collecting instead. Some new additions to the collection:

Left: Blue Moon Fiber Arts STR Lightweight in "Cracked Canyon"; Right: Apple Laine Apple Pie in "Red Delicious."

The Geisha (Blue Moon) in "Downpour."

From Left: Blue Moon STR Mediumweight in "G-Rocks"; STR Medium in Thistle; Ruby Sapphire's Ruby Sock Yarn in Chandi (maybe I've posted this one before); Lisa Souza's "Lime n Violet" colorway.

Merino top in "Maize" and a huge skein of merino sock yarn in "gRapey oLivera" from Luxe.>

I guess I need to start something totally brainless that I can knit in those odd corners of time, rather than adding to the collection. Or go out and clean up after Trusty now that the snow has melted off. Now that that sounds like fun.

Dienstag, Februar 06, 2007

The Slave of Duty

You know, like Frederick the Pirate, in Pirates of Penzance? Being the Slave of Duty can really cut down on your project time.

My mom really did need help getting to her doctor's appointment. She was diagnosed as diabetic over a month ago, and still had no treatment information. So on Thursday morning I left Bountiful in a light snowstorm and headed up to Idaho.

After our near-month of smog and polluted air here in the Salt Lake area, it was wonderful to get into the high, clear Idaho air.

That is, until I got close to my parents' house, where there was a blizzard going on.

There is supposed to be another hill behind this one

I had visions of being stuck there until spring. I had brought knitting and my organ practicing stuff (shoes, music) but it's awkward to go off and do anything private. I finally ended up starting a sock model for a class I'm starting this week, and taking pictures of the cat.


I couldn't figure out how to de-red-eye this photo, but the bright blue iris you can just barely detect is really how blue this cat's eyes are.

The doctor's appointment was a success. Mom now has a glucometer and a diet, and my dad is very interested in making her follow the diet. The trip cost a lot in knitting time, though. Four and a half hours driving each way, plus the ten hours (I kid you not) that the trip to Idaho Falls took comes out to nineteen hours. I was able to knit for about 20 minutes in the doctor's office, and got a little done while sitting around talking to my parents.

Of course when I got back I had to catch up on life, such as rescheduled piano students and three (count them, Three) homework assignments. But things are getting back to normal. I finished the sock model for my class

Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn in one of the "Jewels" colorways

after some struggling to find a cuff pattern I liked. I ended up with a lace rib pattern from my Stitch a Day calendar.

Of course the class members can put whatever they want on it.

As far as my regular projects or the yarn that keeps showing up at the door (I strongly blame Lime n Violet for this) I haven't had much luck.

a one-of-a-kind from White Willow on Etsy called "Alice's Garden"--if you go to Lime n Violet's website and check out all the Yarn Pr0n you can find equally good stuff

the Malabrigo collection

I'm planning on making a hooded dog-walking poncho with the Malabrigo. There is a cute pattern in The Knitter's Bible: Knitted Accessories, which I picked up at The Needlepoint Joint on my way back from Idaho. I might have bought a few skeins of sale yarn to knit a baby something for someone; I might have bought a skein of dark burgundy Trekking, too. I told Sally I already had it, but she said it was new, so what else could I do?

Zitron Trekking XXL; Color 147; 420 meters/100 g.; I have to knit it with size 0 to get a fabric I like. By the way, there were still some of the new colors left, and the Needlepoint Joint does do mail order. 800-660-4355.
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