Friday, September 29, 2006

Sockret Pal Info

I'm late with this because it has been A WEEK - I will do another post later, because I think my eldest son's twelfth birthday merits its own post...

The basics:
How long have you been knitting?
Since I was 8, so 37 - 38 years -
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?
I am definitely a comfortable sock knitter - have no idea how many pairs I've made over the years...
The measurements:
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.
Shoe Size - Women's 10 (big honkin' feet)
(fiber related) Favorites:
What colors do you love?
Like colours generally, bright colours in particular, and am especially partial to anything orange.
Do you prefer solids or variegated?
LOVE variegated yarns
What fibers do you most love to knit with?
I am partial to wool, but also like unusual fibers - silk, bamboo, hemp...
Who do you consider your favorite yarn vendors?
Too many to choose from, but right now I like Elann, as always, and kpixie for unusual sock yarns
What projects (other than socks, of course*S*) do you most enjoy knitting?
Again, I knit lots of things - sweaters, love aran knitting, afghans, washcloths, socks, hats - anything to keep the needles clicking...
(fiber related) Dislikes:
What fibers can you not stand to knit with? To wear?
I don't like acrylic on its own, although there are some lovely blends that I like
What colors would you never wear?
Hmm, pale yellow, puke green - otherwise I'm game...
The Tools:
Plastic or Metal? Bamboo or wood?
Metal 99% of the time, occasionally bamboo or rosewood dp's
Circs or Straights?
ALWAYS circs - I have had a long love affair with Addi's but am now loving the KnitPicks interchangeables... my fickle heart
DPNs or Magic Loop?
Two on two circ's most of the time, otherwise dpns
Are there any knitting accessories you don't have in your collection but would like?
Nothing I need, per se, but I do like the stitch holders with attached ends, and am generally a gadget fiend...
The Extras:
Do you have a wish list? If so, please share the link!
No, but what a good idea!
Do you like sweet, sour or salty? (or all of the above? *S*)
Very partial to salt - french fries are my favourite food
Do you have any allergies your pal should know about? (Certain foods, smoke, pet hair, etc)
Favorite scents? Scents you can't stand?
Love fresh, clean, beachy, just out of the laundry smells; not wild about heavy floral or fruity scents
Do you collect anything (other than yarn and knitting toys of course)?
Knitting books - otherwise, no...
When is your birthday? (month and day is fine!)
April 22
Do you spin? Dye your own yarn?
I have tried spinning and will get the hang of it, I swear - I have also dyed yarn and am hoping to get my kids into it this winter
Your favorite author/band/vacation spot, anything you think will help your pal know you better...
My favourite books make me laugh out loud - Bill Bryson, David Sedaris, although I am also a hard-core Stephen King fan; love all sorts of music; favourite vacation spot, apart from home, is a beach with sun -

Monday, September 25, 2006

Done like dinner!

Yes, folks, I finished the Socks of Doom at 3:18pm this afternoon - fastest pair of socks I've made yet, and I am envisioning a Christmas warm with Socks of Doom - I may have to call them something else for the warm and fuzzy factor, though...

so now I wait until I either get a pair of socks in the mail, thereby terminating me (but really, what a way to go!), or I get the socks my target was working on along with her assigned target, and I try to finish those before I get hit - for once, my huge feet (size 10's) might work to my advantage!

lovely package in the mail today from Tanya, my former secret pal, now friend, for whom I made much too small socks - she returned them for repairs and included a wonderful surprise:

a flower washcloth in the loveliest shade of yellow, and so-o-o-o soft - I wish you could feel this! And Tan, you know you shouldn't have, but I so appreciate it!

I had previously mentioned Star Wars Monopoly - well, my sons are hooked, and I have always loved Monopoly in any form, so we are having a blast - it's been almost a week of playing off and on, and the kids are actually opting to play rather than watch TV or play video games - cool, huh? Although the game is set up on what is usually our 'command central' table - dining table, homework station, paper sorting area - so things are a little unsettled right now, but it's so worth it!

And as if that's not enough, they let me be Yoda...

The Force is strong with them...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

started Friday evening, a little later than expected, due to hurricane complications for our hostess, Yarn Monkey, who is based in Belfast. She posted a general sock pattern with a lovely rib pattern - the Rib of Doom - on her blog, and I believe over 700 sock knitters worldwide cast on in the hopes of assassinating their targets by sending them socks before receiving a pair themselves, and thereby being assassinated.

Assass-inine, isn't it? Makes me laugh out loud every time I think about what I'm doing.

So, I was all set with sock yarn and needles at the ready, but found when the pattern was posted that I needed DK weight yarn and bigger needles (= faster knitting, of course). Quick poke in the stash revealed some lovely wool / alpaca which was perfect, and I cast on Friday around 5. By Saturday morning I was here:
one down and one to go.

Unfortunately, I had a very busy weekend ahead of me and foresaw very little knitting time. First, a family get-together was scheduled here on Sunday, which meant I had to clean. I haven't really cleaned - I mean REALLY cleaned - in, um, a while - most of the summer, actually - so the kids and I worked like demons Saturday until about 4, when we decided to veg a little before going to a hockey game.

Oh, did I mention it was a pre-season game with the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. the Buffalo Sabres? Oh, hang on, did I say anything about Sydney Crosby playing?

Because he was. And we were sitting 5 rows behind him. We could see beads of sweat rolling down his face. Those of us who could lip-read could see that when Sydney gets angry, he also gets quite vocal. But it doesn't take away one iota from how damn cute he is.

And he is.

I did bring my knitting, but who can knit during a hockey game? Too fast, too exciting, and too cute. So we got home around 11pm, I tucked my young men into their beds for the night and stayed up till 12:30am knitting. I discovered that Saturday Night Live is no longer very funny, and that there isn't a whole lot else on, so I listened to David Sedaris and knit.

Got this far on #2:

This morning, after much discussion, it was decided to postpone our family celebration until Thanksgiving weekend, because a few of us are ill. Whee!!! Free Day, and my house is clean!!! My youngest son suggested that maybe, just for fun, we could go to the Word on the Street Festival in Toronto - a one day literary fair, with book vendors, publishers, organizations, presentations - all to do with books and reading.

How could I refuse?

There were kids' books, grown-up books, small publishers, big publishers, and my favourite: a religious publisher, nuns and all, right beside Harlequin Books - do you think they did that on purpose? I had my copy of Knitting Rules in my bag, just in case the Yarn Harlot herself was there to autograph it, but I didn't see her. Of course, by the time we got there through ridiculous traffic - people, it's a SUNDAY - where the hell are you all going? And why is it always in the same direction as me?? - the crowds were so thick we could hardly get near anything, so she might have been there, for all I know.

Anyhow, home by 5, and there was dinner to be made, homework to be done (honestly, Mom, I thought I did it already!) and Star Wars Monopoly to be played (more on that later) - so I am hoping to make significant progress tonight. Don't think I'll make the mail tomorrow, unlike Tanya, who actually finished her pair THE FIRST NIGHT, but am hoping for Tuesday at the latest.

So now, I shall breathe heavily, a la Darth Vader, and come to the sock side...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Avast and Ahoy, Mateys!

I just love hokey gimmicks, and cheesey jokes, and off the wall, totally silly occasions, so knowing that today is Talk Like a Pirate Day has made me absolutely giddy all day, starting at 7 this morning, when I woke my sons to the strains of Yo Ho Ho, etc., etc.

Less than impressed, were they...

Like any good pirate celebration, there was booty to be had: (pic not available yet - am I the only one having trouble with Blogger these days?!)
the newest installment of the Rockin' Sock Club, in absolutely wonderful colours - these have moved to the top of the next in line list...

ah, yes, the next in line list... the this is what I want to start next list... the ever-evolving, fluid, nebulous next on the needles list -

yes, I have changed my mind.

I was going to use stash yarn to make Sally Melville's Einstein coat, because I am desperately in need of a late fall/ early winter cover-up. Now, I like the pattern very much, but I don't love it, not sure why. What I do love is her Not Your's Mother's Jacket pattern, but I don't have any appropriate yarn on hand.

Knit Picks, on the other hand, does.

And shortly, I will, too. Hee, hee... the challenge, of course, will be to see if I can actually get the thing knit up in the next few weeks to wear it this season...

At this point, I am working on Kelly's Socks - yes, Kel, I shall name them after you and they shall henceforth be known as 'Kelly's Socks':

I am also alternating between my twin nieces' hooded pullovers, and have almost got the pouch done on one, so the other will be caught up tonight. And if I may say, I have the cutest collection of stitch markers going - my mother just treated me to new babies, which are just like jewellery for yarn: (and when I can put up photos, I will)
such fun!

So now, off to swab decks and shiver timbers - aaarrrrrrrrrr!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Another one done!

My Lace Wings shawl, using one skein of Handmaiden's Sea Silk in the most delectable shade of brown:

blocking as we speak...

  • Pattern: Lace Wings Shawl
  • Yarn: Handmaiden Sea Cell
  • Started: August 27, 2006
  • Finished: September 12, 2006

I used Soak rather than the standard Eucalan (Aquae scent - just edible), and I got to use my new blocking wires, which got me to wondering about a few things:

* why was it so hard for me to remove the instructions that came with the wires from the tube? It took me almost 15 minutes - no kids, much cussing - until I resorted to tiny tweezers to pull the damned thing out, all ripped to bits.

* why was it that after I blocked it out that I found the other set of blocking wires, purchased years ago but presumed missing after a couple of moves?

* and finally, where am I going to wear this gorgeous thing? I am not very shawl-y by nature, nor am I typically lacy - any wardrobe suggestions?

Dog Philosophy

And today, some thoughts on why I love dogs so very much. A friend of mine had to put one of hers down today after an unprovoked attack on another friend, and it just got me to thinking...

The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.-Anonymous

Don't accept your dog's admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful. -Ann Landers

If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.-Will Rogers

There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.-Ben Williams

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself. -Josh Billings

The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.-Andy Rooney

We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal man has ever made.-M. Acklam

Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies, quite unlike people, Who are incapable of pure love and always have to mix love and hate.-Sigmund Freud

I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult. -Rita Rudner

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, And to turn around three times before lying down.-Robert Benchley

Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.-Franklin P. Jones

If I have any beliefs about immortality, it is that certain dogs I have known Will go to heaven, and very, very few persons.-James Thurber

If your dog is fat, you aren't getting enough exercise. -Unknown

My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to $3.00 a can. That's almost $21.00 in dog money.-Joe Weinstein

Ever consider what our dogs must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul, Chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!-Anne Tyler

Women and cats will do as they please, And men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.-Robert A. Heinlein

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; That is the principal difference between a dog and a man.-Mark Twain

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'Wow, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'- Dave Barry

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole. -Roger Caras

If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket And then give him only two of them.-Phil Pastoret

My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog already thinks I am (My personal favourite, and, I think, my new credo).

Next OTN: my nieces' Wonderful Wallabies - just cast on the first, in Paton's Decor (my SIL is not a fan of handwashing), Rich Taupe. Think I'll alternate days between them, and maybe be able to make myself a fall-ish cardigan in between... (see? there's that unfounded, unrealistic optimism again, that always ends up biting me in the ass...)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Veni, vidi, shopi...

The event: Waterloo County Knitter's Fair

The venue: Bingeman's

The vendors: 90 in all, with some that were new (to me, at least)

The people:

The green blur is my mother rushing off to get herself some alpaca (not really, but it could have been).

And this was one aisle of three - we arrived much later than our usual time, and found it to be very crowded indeed, almost off-putting.

Not to worry, dear reader, we, your intrepid yarn shoppers, were not put off. Not in the least.

The booty:

Oh, where to begin? Well, sock yarn was everywhere, in every form and colour, but I prefer to scout out those items which cannot be bought at regular yarn shops, and I did very well indeed:
(I am can't seem to upload any more pics, for some reason - I am pissed beyond words, but will make do with these)

From Shelridge Farms -
I got the aqua greeny blue sock yarn in the centre upper left;

and Koigu (a colourway I haven't seen before from them) - that would be the pink in the forefront

and a newcomer (again, to me), Lindenhof Wool Mill
lovely, soft wool / mohair blend - a while back, as part of the SP8 exchange, we were asked what sort of yarn we would describe ourselves as? - this, in fact, is me, as a ball of yarn... (the multicoloured cake right at the front - I had a much better picture of me, but again, we will have to make do)

My first purchase was this gorgeous Polwarth/Leicester blend from Rovings -
literally five minutes in the door and I was clutching this to my chest like a drowning woman grasping a life ring - just look at that colour... mmmmmm..... (purpley/blue on the left)

and a kit to make thrummed mittens from alpaca - I wish you could feel it, it is absolutely decadent...these won't be for me, but will make a lovely Christmas gift for some deserving soul - at least, that's how I rationalized it...

I also treated myself to a set of blocking wires that comes in a 3 foot long tube for storage (so clever!), which should come in handy when it comes time to block my Lace Wings Shawl, which time is fast approaching...

and the purchase of the day?

The basket. For $15.

$15. Yup, you heard me. Picture this poor guy, working alone in a small end booth, completely overrun by rabid knitters, each wanting their own handwoven basket. For $15.

Different colours, different sizes. One of a kind. $15.

He thought perhaps he had underestimated the demand of knitters, and thinks that for next year he will get a bigger booth, and extra hands.

So probably the biggest kick for me, apart from the obvious adrenaline rush that only a great yarn shopping excursion can provide, was seeing so many women toting their purchases in these baskets. I told my mother I would stop buying once my basket was full. I learned that one can cram an astonishing amount of yarn into a basket and still have space. Unfortunately, I also learned that my basket capacity outmeasured my wallet capacity significantly, and so had to leave with a little room in my basket.

Which was okay, really - don't want to be greedy or anything... and I guess my kids do need to eat occasionally...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

I've got mail!

Yay!!! The perfect topper to what has been a decent transition to back-to-school mode... I got my final package from my Secret Pal, Miss Scarlett/Michelle (let me know which moniker you perfer) - such a lovely gift!
Beautiful violet soap, with a violet shape worked into the wax - smells edible!- the cutest little bag which will be perfect for quick dashes out or walks with the dogs - homemade (yes, you read that right - HOMEMADE) chai tea in a lovely little bottle, which I am hoping to try tonight, and will likely need the recipe for (chai is actually my favourite!)- and two handknit cloths in my favourite dishcloth stitch, Chinese Waves - LOVE the colour - there is some debate on this end as to whether they are facecloths, dishcloths or pot holders - love all of it - thank you so much for everything, Michelle, you have been a most generous spoiler!

Now onto other matters - I am still on my shawl, still love it but am surprised at how quickly the stitches have multiplied, and at how much longer each row takes - really lovely yarn, though, so soft... will save pics till the end, as they'll all look pretty much the same...

I have conceded defeat to a ... dishcloth. No, I am not proud, but I finally had to face the fact that I DON'T GET IT. Allow me to backtrack - through my SP's blog I found a dishcloth knitalong - haven't made them for years but always liked them, so thought it might be interesting. The pattern at the time was and is lovely - the Garterlac Cloth -

having done entrelac before, I thought this would be a fun re-introduction to the whole thing. I got this far

10 times.

I asked for help and got helpful comments. Lots of 'em.

I looked at the tutorial - repeatedly - ad naseum, even. Printed it off, studied it, imitated it exactly. Ripped out, started again, each time thinking this is it, this will be the one - I GET IT.

I don't get it.

I still have the pattern and will revisit it again in time - maybe I just need fresh eyes? Or a lobotomy? I am working on the next pattern, Swish with a Twist, and I am pleased to report that we have liftoff.

I feel like a quitter, but I think perhaps I am a realist. I will try it again, but right now I feel like I don't have the brain cells to spare, what with school starting again, and the lunch program I run at school kicking in, and starting some serious household reorganization - I'll just save what I've got, and when I feel brave, I'll step on the plank again.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Worsted weight means...

so many thing to so many people, apparently -

just in from Michael's, where I bought a mountain of yarn

for my 14 year old nieces' birthday sweaters, in colours of their choosing - they have both asked for Wonderful Wallabies, which is fine - I never get tired of seeing how the pouch gets knitted in to the body, and I've made maybe 10 over the years? - plus a couple of skeins of Paton's Classic Wool in variegated colours for felting (Tanya, those ones are your fault) -

anyhow, I was minding my own business, checking dye lot numbers, when I overheard an employee telling a woman that worsted weight means, and I quote, "You call pull really hard on the yarn and it won't break".


I scraped my jaw up from the floor and listened as she asked and he again stated what seemed to him to be perfectly obvious. In a move completely out of character for me, I spoke up and said that no, in fact, in knitting, worsted weight refers to the weight or thickness of the yarn, and explained about gauge - "oh, that's what that little square on the label means", the woman said. We looked at the yarn she had chosen and found it to be bulky, which meant that her sweater would be much larger than shown in the pattern, and so on. By this time, there were 4 other women clustered around us with other questions, and I'm afraid the employee was not looking too happy.

I, on the other hand, was in my element.

So once all questions were answered and everyone was back to choosing yarn, I heard this guy, this employee, pipe up again and tell her that he was trained when he started to work in the yarn department, and so he actually knows what he's talking about, and she had the wrong kind of yarn (WORSTED WEIGHT Paton's Decor, perfect for a kid sweater, and exactly what the pattern was calling for) - I shot him the most venomous look I could muster - and I am pms'ing right now, so am amply supplied with venom - and left before I lost it completely.

I am now contemplating writing a letter to the management of this store, to inform them that their staff is ill-informed and therefore not much help to customers who need advice. I am just fuming. And I feel so sorry for this woman who has been misinformed - I mean, what if this leads to a bad knitting experience for her and she gives it up altogether? So thoroughly frustrating!

Vent over, resume normal programming -

in other news, my silk/sea cell "Lace Wings" shawl is lovely and I am looking forward to figuring out how and when to wear it...I had to put sheets of paper underneath, because brown shawl + brown couch = no details

I also forgot to mention that on Friday I received a lovely package from my SP8 hostess, Tammy -

I answered some questions for extra credit, and won myself a beautiful skein of blue Regia Loop Colour yarn - as Tammy said, you can never have enough sock yarn...

so there we are - another day in the life...

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Hard to find the words to describe the last three days, which were spent at Sandbanks Provincial Park with my sons - humbling? Amazing? Inspiring? According to the website,
"Giant sand dunes and golden beaches form two of the largest freshwater baymouth sandbars in the world here, on the shores of Lake Ontario" - the beaches are staggeringly beautiful, and the dunes... oh, the dunes... for a sand head, hard core, dyed in the wool beach bum such as myself, they were beyond breathtaking, and I know my photos won't do justice to the views, but I'll try

This is one of those things where you keep taking pictures of what are amazing views at the time, and then when you get home you look at your photos and they all look the same, in this case, hills of sand.

We stayed in an excellent little hotel just minutes away from the park - our room had a screened in porch and stairs leading down to the beach - heavenly! But the main attraction was definitely the dunes - extending up and out, hills of white, powdery sand rolling away and toward and behind us - lots of work to climb to the top of a hill, but then so much fun to come barreling down at breakneck speed, knowing that you had a soft landing at the bottom...

This part of Ontario is absolutely cute, picturesque to the point of gagging, with lots of antique shops and craft stores and beautifully maintained century-type homes, so the drive was a lovely part of the whole trip. There are also several wineries along the way, but my children were less than supportive of my attempts to drag them through at least a couple, so I shall have to return unencumbered by smaller, opinionated people.

We did make one stop, one which I have wanted to make for years, and this one there was no talking me out of - the Big Apple. No, not NYC, the "World's Biggest Apple" outside of Coburg, Ontario.

Yup, it's a big one.

We went in and bought a pie and a 'dish' of ice cream for Tanner. Turns out their idea of a 'dish' is a full carton of ice cream! Took both the boys to get through it, and they both felt sick afterwards. Also bought a pie, and as we were paying I asked for a spoon (for the ice cream), and was informed that they no longer give out cutlery with the pies. I'm afraid this got me giggling, and I had to ask if a lot of people wanted spoons for their pies. The sales clerk assured me that it happens all the time, people would actually eat a whole pie at a sitting in the restaurant, and as if that's not bad enough, they will now do so WITH THEIR HANDS. Can you picture this?

This put me near the brink of hysteria, so I fought to calm myself as we sat and ate the ice cream. Then the boys started looking at the photos gracing the walls, which were all of other 'World's Biggest' things - world's biggest kiwi. World's biggest banana. World's largest chair. Biggest orange in the world.

I lost my thin veil of composure, put my head on the table and wept with laughter. Sure, people were looking at me. Sure, my sons were embarassed. Could I stop? I could not.

All of which helped with my mood when we hit dead-stopped traffic in Toronto - remind me never to drive the 401 in Toronto on a Friday at rush hour...

nice to be home now, the dogs are settling down and allowing me to go to the bathroom alone, finally - and our thoughts turn to school, and fall, and, ummmm... fall knitting...

I learned that the socks I made for my secret pal, Tanya, do NOT fit - through a typo, I thought her feet were 6.5" long when they are in fact 9.5" long - so I have asked her to send them back and I will hopefully be able to add to the length with the leftover yarn - or die trying...

my shawl is coming along quite nicely - once my camera starts to cooperate again I will post a pic - and I have moved to fall in my mind, and am thinking cozy sweaters and wool socks - so fickle, am I not? But I am looking out my window at a cold, rainy, windy day, cuddled into cozy pants and a sweatsuit - hard to believe that just yesterday we were basking in the sunshine at one of the nicest beaches in the province... it's in the air, I'm afraid...