Monday, June 23, 2008

And, it's a sock!

Finished yesterday. Mate to be cast on soon. It fits pretty well! I think I will add about a quarter-inch to the next one before beginning the toe decrease.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Beach Knitting: or, How I Started Knitting a Sock

Yarn fumes. That's the only explanation for how I went to a yarn shop looking for a summer project for beach knitting, and ended up knitting a woolen sock. The yarn fumes overpowered me.

I guess I should back up and explain.

The munchkins and I spent the first week in June at the beach, on North Carolina's Outer Banks. We shared a beach house with my best friend and her husband and daughter, who's about Carolina's age. I had lots of lovely knitting time, as Arden still takes a morning nap, so my friends would take the girls to either the beach or the pool and I would stay home with Arden. Then all the kids napped in the afternoon.

None of the projects I had going before I left really struck me as beach knitting. Too warm, or too heavy, or too fussy. I brought along the materials to make a little lace headband for Carolina, which I started successfully on the first morning.

It hummed along while the only other person in the house was asleep, but I am not a person who can knit lace and pay attention to anything else. So I needed a project that was easy but not boring, summery, and could be done while the kids were up or while hanging out in the evening.

As luck would have it, I just happened to know that there was a yarn shop only 4.2 miles from where we were staying. I just happened to have Mapquested directions to it before leaving home, and to have taken note of its location when I passed it on the way in. So that afternoon, during naptime, I headed down to Knitting Addiction. There, I explained my predicament to owner Jeanne and her sidekick, Brittany. Of course, they agreed, I couldn't knit lace with munchkins around. After some discussion, Jeanne said, "What about socks?"

"Oh, no, no," I said. "I've never made a sock. I don't want to knit socks. I don't want to learn anything on this trip, I just want to knit something fun. And wool is not beachy or summery. And I do not like DPNs. They stick out in all directions. My work gets all laddery. I do not like them, Sam-I-am."

Jeanne tried to persuade me that the ladders were easily avoided, that using DPNs on a sock is much different than using them to finish hats, that socks are addictive and that if she couldn't knit socks, she might have to kill people. But I stood firm. She backed off.

Meanwhile, two women bounced into the shop and declared that they wanted to make socks. They were on vacation together with their families and they wanted to learn socks. One of them needed to learn to purl first, but by golly, they wanted to knit socks.

Jeanne moved to help them, showing them patterns and yarn for adult socks and for baby socks. She explained that if they chose baby socks, she could get them started and then they could come back later in the week for help with the heels and toes. I sneaked a look at Jeanne's adult sock pattern while she talked, and I even carried around some sock yarn for a minute. But I quickly put it back.

The soon-to-be sock knitters agreed with Jeanne's baby-sock wisdom and were soon ensconced on cushy couches, munching pralines and casting on. I continued to peruse the store, petting everything again, admiring the many knitted samples and original designs, and discussing with Brittany the merits of various possible projects. I finally settled on a tank top pattern and chose two lovely shades of Vermont Organic Fiber Company's O-Wool Balance, a blend of organic cotton and wool yarn. Brittany even modified the pattern to fit me exactly!

While Brittany wound the yarn, I called the beach house and learned that we needed something with which to ignite the charcoal to cook dinner. I trotted down the shopping center to what looked like a convenience store but turned out to be a gourmet shop. Yes, they sold charcoal, the lady said, but no matches or lighters. She agreed that they probably should carry these items.

I returned to Knitting Addiction and sat down on the couches near the sock knitters to wait for my yarn, explaining my cooking-fire predicament. Jeanne and Brittany generously decided they could part with their birthday-candle lighter ... and what a profitable decision that turned out to be.

I'm not really sure of the sequence of what happened next. All I know is that I watched the women beginning their socks, and Jeanne said something about the pattern and yarn she had seen me consider. They let me knit a bit on wooden DPNs (I had used mostly metal before) on a project they had going. Wow, I thought, this really isn't hard. And then, somehow, I had bought the needles and yarn (Cherry Tree Hill Supersock DK), and Brittany was winding it. Very clever, that -- wind the yarn before the fumes wear off, and I can't change my mind! A copy of their pattern for Basic Socks a la Jeanne, and I was good to go.

That night, while watching TV, I cast on the sock. It seemed pretty easy -- Jeanne's basic pattern is very simple and easy to follow. After I got the ribbing going, I decided I really should start swatching the tank top. So I cast it on too, and did a few rounds. It seemed OK ... but I went back to the sock. And that kept up all week.

When I got home on June 6, the sock was this far along:

The tank top swatch was this far along:

I have knit a few more rounds on the tank top swatch since then. But I haven't been able to put the sock down (in Distracted Knitter terms, that is). I turned the heel at WWKIP Day in Falls Park last Saturday, and finished the gusset at Wednesday night knitting last night. Today, it's this far along:

If I can manage to knit while watching The Wire tonight, I should be decreasing for the toe in no time. That's a big if. And the tank top? Well, I hate to say it, since Brittany did all the calculations to modify it especially for me. I still love the yarn, but I can't get too enthused about the tank top itself. I'm thinking blanket. Carolina has been after me to "knit her a blankie," and Arden needs one too. But first, socks. I still don't know how it happened, but I do know why they call that shop Knitting Addiction.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Harlot redux

Lucky me, I got to see the Yarn Harlot again in Atlanta this past Sunday! My mom came with me again, and we drove down in record time, since Arden at 10 months could stay home with big sister, Daddy and Grandpa. We met up with Becky, whom I met at the Greenville Knitting Guild's Knit Inn back in February. She blogged about it, I didn't. She's a lovely person and we hit it off immediately; it was nice to see her again.

This is my mom and me outside Knitch, in front of their scarecrow bird thing. It's knitting, of course!

This time around, we got there in plenty of time to hang out at Knitch on the comfy couch before lunch, peruse the shop, buy some things (thanks Mom!), see a friend who ended up in the First Sock Brigade, and more. We had lunch (thanks Mom!) at Atkins Park Restaurant, which offered $5 off the bill to knitters, and then got in line for the Knit-In. This is Becky and me in line outside the theatre:

The line went fast, and in we went. We knit, we chatted, we checked our raffle tickets with bated breath. There were lots of raffle items, and Becky won a class with Annie Modesitt. I was really hoping for one of the $25 Knitch gift cards, so I could go buy Addi Turbos in the size I need for the shawl I'm working on, but it was not to be.

Then the Harlot came on, after a horrible day which is detailed on her blog, and was as funny as ever. We stayed for the signing afterward, which took place upstairs at Knitch, and the second set was delayed enough by the "preboarding" to give me time to pump breastmilk while my mom and Becky waited in line. This time, we got a good picture with the Harlot herself:

I got to hold the sock, and Stephanie is holding the bottle of wine I brought her. It's called "Dyed in the Wool," from New Zealand, and has a sheep on the label. She also signed a bottle of it for me. I hope it helped take the edge off the wait for her suitcase to arrive.

It was a long, exciting day. Becky went home after the signing, and my mom and I had Thai food for dinner. We were going to try a Thai place at the other end of the alley from Knitch, with a sort of jungly garden, but it was empty and the proprietor unfriendly, so we went to another Thai restaurant just in front of it, on the main drag (Virginia Ave.?). I think it was called Surin. Very friendly, very busy, very good.

During the day, I made good progress on my Delta Shawl. It's a pattern I bought at Earth Guild a few years ago, started, messed up, and tossed into hibernation. I frogged it Saturday night after a failed intervention to fix the mistake, and started over on the drive to Atlanta. I will try to post pictures soon.

The Sweater That Will Not End is all knitted! Now I just have to sew it together and finish it. I bought buttons for it at Knitch, so I have no excuse now not to finish. I have a number of other FOs to talk about too, so I will try to get another post written in a timely manner. Let's see how distracted I get.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Very Happy Valentine's Day

Apparently, there are some people out there who don't like Valentine's Day. I am not one of them. When I was a kid, my favorite holiday was Christmas (what kid's isn't?). But as I have gotten older, Christmas has come to seem too much about presents and not enough about love and family. My favorite holiday has become Thanksgiving, with Valentine's Day in second place. I think some people expect too much of Valentine's Day, get disappointed, and so dislike the holiday.

My daughter's preschool class has been learning that Valentine's Day is about showing love to the people you care about, your family and friends. They had a great class party and they took turns delivering valentines to their friends. However, the Valentine Decorating Guild was apparently on strike for the past week, until the strike was broken by an artistic babysitter, so Carolina's valentines to family members didn't hit the mail until yesterday. Better late than never.

When I was little, my mom sewed valentines for me and my sister. I remember two heart-shaped pillows in particular. One was pink calico with lace on one side, and the other was a patchwork of flannel, lace-trimmed, with my initials in the middle. I wanted to show pictures of them, but they are still at my parents' house, and my sister reports that hers are still there too. I'll be sure to bring them here next chance I get.

So I think of Valentine's Day as a day to make fun, low-key presents for my family. Last year I made Carolina a little purse. This year, I made her a felted flower.

The pattern is Felted Flower Child (I skipped the hat part) from Itty Bitty Hats. It is made with various colors of Lamb's Pride Worsted and Mauch Chunky. It started as a pin, but it's rather big, and when I tried to pin it on her this morning, I managed to stick myself. I yowled, and she jumped away and absolutely refused to have it pinned anywhere on her clothing for fear it would stick her. We discussed making it into a barrette, but as I mentioned, it's rather big, and I don't think she has enough hair to hold it. So, we've decided that I will remove the pin, sew the flower on a headband, and then she will feel safe wearing it.

After I had started making the flower, I saw this pattern on Ravelry, and decided that my husband must have a handful of hearts. So I made the little hearts for him, and the big one for Arden (so he can chew on it without choking).

The red hearts are Cascade 220, done on size 6 needles. The blue heart is Manos del Uruguay, two strands held together, done on size 11 needles. I spent all my kid-free moments for the past week knitting, felting and sewing up, and what fun! How nice to have such tiny projects that even a distracted knitter can finish them quickly!

My husband and I have a tradition of making fondue for Valentine's Day. We've done it every year since we first started dating. Last year, we let Carolina join us. She had fun, but ... umm ... it wasn't the same. He had to work tonight, so we're having our fondue night on Saturday and I made Valentine pizza for dinner tonight.

Before baking:

And after:

I happened to buy little Valentine cookie cutters at A.C. Moore yesterday when I went in to get the stuffing for the hearts. I thought I might make cookies, but didn't, and decided that the cutters would be great for making Valentine pepperoni.

Oh, and my Valentine's present? A lovely bouquet of white and purple daisies that turned the water purple. It looks really cool in a crystal vase.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

We'll make a knitter out of this one

Seeing the Yarn Harlot at four months must have inspired him. I looked down while reading my email today and saw this:

Just like Carolina, Arden loves yarn. I just have to untangle him from it every so often.

Before someone gets alarmed, I am right here next to him. He is not left unsupervised with yarn. And, considering the news lately, it's probably safer for him to put yarn in his mouth than toys.

Carolina turns 4 in a week and a half, and she's getting needles and yarn for her birthday. I received advice from a little girl at Asheville Home Crafts on which needles to buy, so I hope she was right. That was, incidentally, an excellent little shop in the Grove Arcade, with a selection of nice yarns and supplies, and a lot of knitted items for sale. My husband saw a hat he liked -- just a simple tight cap with an inch of ribbing -- and I wrote down the measurements to make it just the way he wants it. I already have yarn for it, but he's very picky about the fit, and this hat fit him perfectly. I hope I can duplicate it.

I did finally finish the back of the Sweater! I'm nearly through one side of the front. I have delusions of finishing it by Christmas, but ... well, I have two little kids. And I'm easily distracted, after all.

Saturday, October 6, 2007


I finally got around to doing a little finishing. Here's "Arden's" Marley and the pink hat I made for Carolina (as Big Sister shall henceforth be known. It's her favorite alter ego). Both were just waiting on their toppers.

Arden's hat has the marley topper my mom was so kind as to finish for me, and Carolina's has the fleece topper described at the front of the Itty Bitty Hats book. I thought her hat looked good without the topper, actually, but she insisted, and who am I to argue?