Monday, February 27, 2006

Happy Birthday, Mommy!

First things first! It's my very favorite mother's birthday, so everyone say hi to her!


Now, we are at 996 socks. Pause for a moment to imagine the magnitude of that. If you were to lay all 996 of those socks out, end to end, they would reach... well, a long way. One-sixth (two months) through our time limit (twelve months) we are just about 50% through our goal. We're averaging 17.78 socks a day. Which is shocking, particularly when you think about how cold my feet are right now.

We're almost definitely going to hit 1000 this week. Mind boggling, I tell you.

Amy has generously agreed to give a pair's worth of sock yarn to the person who reports the 1000th sock. She does breath-takingly beautiful handpaint, and whoever wins this is a very lucky little doobie. I am trying very hard to resist the urge to not answer any e-mail or read any comments on my blog until I finish four socks so I can be the winner. I suspect this would be slightly unethical, so I recommend you get to knitting and report socks before I give up on all that I hold good and true just to win Amy's yarn. It's that good looking.

If anyone else would like to donate to either the 1000th person, or the 2000th person (a person I expect will be named in the next two months) please let me know. Due to moderately popular demand I will spin 4oz of sock weight yarn for the 2000th person. Any other gifts would be lovely, and I suspect good karma as well.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Poor Puppy but Good Fiber

I sat down in front of Dancing With the Stars to finish the little doggy sweater. I neatly sewed up the side seem, and picked up the pattern to see what comes next.

"...leaving 2 inch opening...."


I have fallen victim to the infamous "at the same time" instruction style. Rather, the styrofoam cut out of a dog that would wear this sweater has fallen victim, since I didn't leave a leg hole.

I had a choice of ripping out the seem I had just sewn, or faux-steeking leg holes.

Out came the scissors Bess
gave me and a little while later we had this

Now the poor puppy styrofoam canwalk hang on a wall pretending to walk!


In the mail today I got a splendid treat! It seems that when Shelia went to SPA last weekend she saw some fiber that kept whispering to her... she said she went back and forth on it several times and then realized that what it was whispering was "send me to Amie"

Good fiber. Well-trained fiber. Way to whisper!

What Shelia doesn't know is that a few weeks ago, Amy was having a little sale, and being a good supportive friend who is suffering from a severe fiber shortage in her own home (my husband just had a stroke reading that) I decided to get a few rovings from her. And I couldn't decide between Mermaid and Water Nymph (I also got Poison, but that was an easy call for me)... I picked Mermaid on a coin toss, telling myself next time I'd get Water Nymph... (or just let Shelia get it for me)

THANKS, Shelia!!!


As you can see above, we are getting very close to the one-thousand milestone. Do you think the one-thousandth-sock-knitter should get a prize? I'm still trying to decide. If you have something you'd like to donate to either the 1000th sock knitter or the final 2000th sock knitter, let me know (sock yarn would be the obvious choice, and it would be kinda cool if we could get a little stash gifted...) Let me know what you think, and maybe we'll have a nice little gifty for some special knitter!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Canine Chic

I was feeling reaaaally cranky this morning. Last night with the Sucky Knitting Girls (which Eunny has explained) was such fun, such a joy, and such a relief after what was really a miserable week in many ways.... and I was kinda still flying high (in the purely legal and organic sense) far too late last night. Just couldn't get to sleep to save my life.... which meant facing up to teaching a knitting class on three hours sleep. I tried calling the store to cancel, but someone signed up before I called, dammit, so I had to go in. The student turned out to be someone I've had a few times in the past and I really just find her rather irritating. But money is money, and it brought me in to get another job offer - they need more store samples. And when a gal's mostly unemployed, she takes what she can get, within reason.

They got a few new yarns, and didn't want to have yet another scarf as a sample, so had me look at the yarns and see what I could do. When I saw this yarn

I first thought Baby Sweater. But they seem to be of the school that babies need to be clad only in pastels, or someone might accidentally hand them a beer or car keys or both. I am not of this school, and rather like babies in strong colors, but meh. I then suggested dog sweater, and since they do sell the book Dogs In Knits I figured I'd pick a pattern from that.

The yarn is really beautiful knit up - lots of rich texture and flashy color

and will look darling knit up in the Basic Knitted Dog Sweater
(photo from the book)
My student started whining at this choice - she doesn't think anyone ever knits dog sweaters and I should knit a person sweater. She also apparently thinks she should get a choice in what I knit. So that's three things she's wrong about.

Oscar is still playing with "Foxy" - a sure sign that Foxy is loved is that Foxy has not been killed. GB has long been trying to teach Oscar real dog tricks. Right now we've got sit, down, come, dance (during which he stands on his hind legs and wiggles), hug (he puts his feet up on you to get a hug) and kiss, and his all time favorite "bedtime". I think it's because it was the first command he learned and he's still proud of it, but he often goes to bed with such vigor that he drops his treats mid-chew and forgets them in his fervor. But GB wants him to fetch. And Oscar is not interested. I've read some dog training books that say "a dog will naturally fetch, you just have to get him to do it on command." So maybe Oscar's not really a dog?

You know how mean people pretend to throw a treat and laugh hysterically when the dog runs after it? We can throw real foods and Oscar will turn his head, watch the treat hit the floor, then look back at your hand, without taking a step. He just doesn't take chase. Forget bringing it back, he's not interested in going to get it.

But Foxy is someone special, and he actually fetched Foxy twice today. I don't think he thinks I was fetching. I think he thinks I'm like the toddler who tosses her rattle off the high chair to watch Mommy pick it up. He ran to get Foxy once. Praise Praise Praise Praise Praise. He ran to get Foxy again. Praise Praise Praise Praise Praise. The third time he rolled his eyes at me, clearly expressed "if you can't play nice, you can't play at all" and casually walked to the the toy, picked it up, and carried it to his room, turning his back to me. He'll teach me yet.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Your Knitting Style Sucks.

912 socks completed in 50 days! That's 45.6% through the goal with a whopping 86% of the year in which to sock it to me! Impressive, yes?


For those of you that have inquired after the health of my teeth, I thank you. I am feeling significantly better than I was Friday, though my jaw is still a little sore and I think perhaps a tiny bit more work might need to be done, but I have another appointment Thursday, so I'll see then. If I'm feeling better, the work won't need to be done, so we'll all continue to hope for the best. Right now I'm sort of alternating between real food and soft stuff. Salad was my big extravagance Saturday, and Macaroni and Cheese sorta toed the line yesterday... mouths are funny little (okay, in my case, BIG) things....

Only for Amy, I have restarted Haiku.

It was that or set fire to her butt, and I don't have gas money to Maine. My goal is to have it done by next Monday, which shouldn't be a problem, provided I actually knit it. That's obviously one sleeve, the second will go faster because, in a rarely lucid mood, I actually took notes that mean I won't have to make constant measurements. Before the full body took me two days, but now I have changes to make, and I'm not sure if I like the neckline, so it will likely take much longer.

Today I also started this sock, in Marks & Katten Clown.

I'd like to get this done by the end of the week, because I'd like to mail it to Crazy For Ewe so she can use it as a sample to help encourage people to sign up for the toe-up class I'm teaching there mid-March. The observant among you will claim this sock was photographed in my mess'o'socks photo last week. The observant would be mistaken, and would have horribly underestimated my start-itis. Horribly.

See, my need to start new projects is so uncontrollable and insane, that I actually started a second, identical sock without planning on doing two at once.

Okay, part of that is because I hate wood needles, really and truly, and yet the liberal, equality-loving person that I am, I insist on pointing out their positive characteristics to my students, and every so often I start to believe myself and start to knit with them.

Anyone want to buy a set of five 5" Brittany birches? Size 0? (SOLD to Suzanne!)

Anyway, I went to a newly formed knit group tonight (at which it was determined that your knitting style sucks) and worked on this sock

It's Spirit Trail yarn, and it's yummy to work with, and the ball simply will not die. Seriously, I'm determined to simply knit to the very end of the ball, to see how much of a sock you can get with one, and I knit well over three inches at the group tonight and the ball didn't get ANY smaller. Not one smidge. It's bizarre. I swear, I'm knitting one more inch on the socks then I'm starting an aran sweater with this stuff. If I found the magic ball of yarn I'm using it to my advantage.

On the way home from the knitting group I stopped by the store to pick up cat food and saw a toy that for some reason I thought Oscar would like. Aside from his pink teddy bear, he's not much of a cuddly toy guy. This is mostly my fault, since I decided that encouraging him to chew on small furry things wasn't the kinda schooling I wanted my sweet pitbull to have. I wouldn't have an issue with plain soft toys, but adding fur makes me nervous. Anyway, I saw this toy, and knew it had to come home with me.

Feeling wildly creative, I have chosen to name it "Foxy". (Trevor has a stuffed chick that he knows by the name of "Stephen" - I'm curious to see how long it takes Oscar to learn what "Foxy" means)

Anyway, the toy was met with great excitement - carried directly to his room, which is where all the good toys go so that Trevor can't take them, and call me crazy but I do believe he discovered the squeaker in it just after I started typing the blog.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Friday is for Fickleness

I don't care for garter stitch except on edging.

I know this. For some reason I continue to try patterns that have garter stitch as a large portion of the item, knowing that I don't like garter stitch except on edging.

And so I do the item, and the whole time I'm thinking "eh, I don't like the garter stitch" and yet - and here's the kicker - I KEEP KNITTING!

Generally when I'm at the furthest possible point before no turning back, I give in and frog.

While I was at it, I frogged the sweater for the toothpick-armed baby

(the stocking stitch is curled in at the sides there, but there's obviously something wrong with those measurements!!!)

Anyway, I washed the yarn and now I have these pretty things

Lovely, yes? I'll redo the sweater, using stocking and seed instead of garter. Sleeves begin tonight.

A few days ago the lovely and talented Catherine tagged me, but I had freaky phone/computer problems (in addition to the rest of my world falling apart, but hey, life happens) so here's my response to her Fridge Meme:

Five things in my fridge:
Blue Cheese Crumbles
Bag o' Salad (the mix with double carrots, on a whim)
Left over beef stew that I'm slloooooowwwly working through
Beer (not mine, I don't drink beer, even Shiner Bock, which this is)
and always, always lemon juice (specifically ReaLemon brand)

I had dental work this week. Twice actually. Painful dental work, that has prevented me from eating much. (in fact, I had a very nice lunch today with Coleen during which I had my first non-liquid meal in four days.) Because of this, warm compresses have been recommended to me. So I've spent most of the week with a hot sheep pressed against my cheek.

It would seem that there is a limit to how many times you're supposed to reheat the little beanie bag things in the microwave (even though they are supposed to be microwave safe) before embarrassing things happen.

I promise this sheep is normally housetrained. But isn't it good to know that when something is on fire in my microwave not one of the animals will even bat an eye, but will in fact be far more interested in the swift at work...

Monday, February 13, 2006

She Eats Babies, Too

41% of the way to our goal and 12% of the way through the year! Wow! I'm expecting the next two weeks will slow our progress significantly, since I have a feeling there's going to be some pretty serious Olympic-Class knitting going on. All this means is that we'll have to pick up the slack when we're done (who am I kidding? Even with our significantly slowed reporting this past weekend, we've still passed the minimum required daily average). We've averaged nearly 18.8 socks per day and only need to average 5.4 socks a day to make 2000 in this 366 day year.

But now it's late, and I'm tired, and all those numbers are making my head spin. So enough with the numbers - let's move onto the pretty.


Last night I restarted a baby sweater I started last year. I'd had issues with the pattern I'd chosen - that is, I followed the pattern as faithfully as I've ever followed any pattern, and I ended up with a sweater that would only fit a baby who's arms were shaped like toothpicks. So I got frustrated, and took a break, and then there was the mess with Sharon and Olivia, and I just couldn't knit baby clothes after that. Just couldn't.

Well, my big New Year's Resolution (which I have not yet technically broken, thank you) was that I wouldn't start a new project over 100 grams - that means I can start new socks up the wazoo, and I have, but I need to get the bigger projects I've already started moving and finished before I can start any more.

And that meant going back to that baby sweater. So I started with the other end of the yarn and started balling it during Grey's Anatomy last night (poor Kyle Chandler). And after the show I had this

and this

It's tough to see what that is (hey, give me a break, I was shooting the camera one handed and backwards) but that's me being groomed by my loving Aslan. He was actually petting and licking the back of my head. It starts out as very cute and sweet, and quickly turns to gross when the slurping noises going on in my ear.

Today I made it just over one-third of the way through the sweater to this

(cat for scale)

Pattern is this very cute Haiku and I've only adapted it in that I'm doing seed stitch instead of what she calls "box stitch" (which is really just a small basketweave) - just looked better with the yarn, which was dyed by me.

I was working on the back section, and took it to knit during a class I had to teach tonight, knit a good three inches on it, then looked down and realized I'd put a YO in the first row I'd knit. I NEVER do that. But that meant that I had to rip back quite a bit. I did that at the Panera in Columbia, where I had a cup of coffee with Eunny and Coleen. What great women, and what a wonderful time I had. As we were leaving, Coleen made the comment that she had to tell people she'd seen Eunny's vest and shawl in person and Eunny said we should make sure to spread lots of rumors about her. So here you go. I saw her kick a kitten. And I'm pretty sure she was sitting down to eat a baby right after I left.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Striking Fear Into the Hearts of Many Some No One, Really

Oscar has been set free.

Okay, so it was a temporary thing, but it was intentional, mostly because I couldn't find a rope long enough for him to be able to do his duty (or "doodie") without causing me to be pulled across the yard like a slow-motion skier, Olympics be damned.

So out he and I went, with me standing in the shallowest spot I could find in my yard

See? You can almost see the top of my husband's boots that come halfway up my legs. Shallow.

He enjoyed bounding back and forth across our yard, having to leap over snowdrifts at full speed

Somewhere during this race it occurred to me, as it often does, that there might be folks out there that would be frightened by the sight of a pitbull coming at them at approximately 30, 35 miles per hour. But when I see that, I know I'm gonna get a big doggy hug. And that's pretty okay by me.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

I have decided that my fiber storage needs to move. Right now it's in a spare room, set up with a tv/vcr/dvd combo so I can spin and watch my own movies while the boys are watching stupid things. But now that Delphine is here, there needs to be more space for her in there. (I think it's fair to ask Fiona and Delphine share a room. I considered moving GB in with Oscar, but then it got cold again, and GB gives off warmth that I'm just not willing to pass on to the dog. Oscar has his own little fur coat. Besides, I think the chance of me convincing GB that I need two rooms devoted to my fiber play is pretty much null and void. So Fiona and Delphine will room together.)

So the tubs that are holding my fiber now need to go elsewhere, so I think they'll move in with Oscar. Since that means lifting the tubs up over an old couch without squashing any cats or dogs, takes more strength than I have (it's an awful lot of fiber) but I can move the tubs slllooooowwwly down the hall to the living room where we only had one squish scare (turns out it was a ball of grey yarn, and not actually Trevor I dropped the tub on, for which both Trevor and I are exceedingly grateful.) GB will help with the heavy lifting when he gets home (maybe this weekend some time? Ask me how much I love our government. Better yet, ask them, they've heard me explain it many times on my phone lines)

I did come up with a brilliant idea for reorganizing them, though. See, l had four tubs (with lots of spillover that I think we can all just agree to ignore for the purposes of this conversation) organized by Raw Fleece, Roving, Winter Yarns, and Sock & Summer Yarns. And then I straightened out the closets, discovered that there was a tub in there that could be emptied (clothing donated) and that gave me an extra tub. So that tub has been designated as "Current Projects" tub. That is, the yarn and fiber for the very next projects I intend to knit or spin go in there. This way I don't need to enlist the help of any muscle men until I've finished some of my current projects (and believe me, the ADD extends far beyond socks and mittens, I just didn't show you any of those things...) and they tub contents need to be readjusted again. And that could be ages. (as my family would say, "Hey, lint!"*)

During all that heavy lifting, I took frequent breaks to spin more of this

Same stuff I showed you yesterday, but the color is more true in this picture. It's a lovely rich green, albeit very, very, dark.

I also got a lovely card in the mail from a special someone

(pay no attention to the sock behind the card. It was started last night. I intend to finish it this weekend. Honest.)

Then I had to run get something to eat, so I went to the drive-through, because then Oscar gets to come, and that makes him very happy. Usually he gets ignored, but today the guy handing me my food said "hey, cute dog". Oscar and I both agreed.

Cute and well-behaved, because I sat the food on the seat with him, and he sniffed at the bag once but otherwise ignored it.


For those of you who are furiously knitting socks (although, frankly, a tad slow on the reporting today, gang, have we petered out?) someone had a great idea to battle second sock syndrome. Check it out.


*Sometime ago, we had an incident in which GB left for a business trip after firmly shutting the clothes-dryer door... with Trevor inside. This was discovered by me about eight hours later when I came home from work and wasn't greeted at the door by as many cats as I expected. After yelling his name around the house, I got close to the dryer and heard him start to cry, at which point I promptly rescued him. He was fine, just a bit shaken up. But we have the hope that he curled up in there and fell asleep and didn't notice anything was amiss until he heard me calling him. The family joke is that he would start to panic and worry that he was trapped, and then be distracted by something else in the dryer that he could play with. Hence, "hey, lint!" as a family phrase for one's short attention span. Not that I'm guilty of that mys---

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Two-Thousand-Socks Toes

The first step is to admit I am powerless over my knitters-ADD.

As is evidenced by this:

that's four socks, a mitten, and a glove, in various stages of abandon. (there is another, but it's a gift sock, and therefore can't be seen. I also owe my brother another sock, but that hasn't been started yet. I'm sure if you were to give me a little time I'd come up with several more socks. Let's move on, shall we?)

The second step is to ignore the variety of abandon and wind a ball for a new pair.

The third step is to take occasional breaks from knitting by spinning sock yarn on your beautiful Delphine.

(in this shot you can see how clever I am. I finally outsmarted the cats by rigging a bandana up as a little bag which hangs off the mother-of-all and holds my fiber, thereby eliminating the change to play with it down by my feet while I'm trying to spin.)
This is lovely wool that I have in two slightly different shade of dark green (that is the darker shade there) and I'll ply it with some Firestar for strength (this stuff)


It's fortunate that my efforts in finishing socks aren't needed in our cause. With very little assistance from me, y'all have hit 744 socks in less than six weeks. Just over 10% through the year and we're 37% of the way there! Knit on!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

This week I spun my first novelty yarn - I don't knit much with novelty, so it makes sense I don't spend much time spinning it either, but this fiber just begged to be flirty fun.

It was this Polwarth

And this silk two-ply

cabled together using one of Delphine's two handy-dandy on-board lazy kates

and I got this

Isn't it gorgeous? I still have more of this shade of blue silk, and then after that two ounces more of some deeper blues along with at least four ounces of polwarth spun, and maybe another 3 or 4 ounces to spin up.... Once I get those worked up I'll ply them on Fiona to remind her that I do still love her. It's more than enough for a really gorgeous cozy warm scarf, and I simply can't express to you how soft this stuff is. If we ever get winter around here it'll be really nice to have.

Plus, the fact that I'm working on something so perfect for cold snowy weather is a good way of preventing that weather from ever happening. Just like my mother (the teacher) often says - if you don't do your homework, it won't snow. By being prepared for icy weather, I'm not doing my homework.

Or something like that.


Today I drove down to southern Maryland and spent the day teaching a sock class to these wonderful ladies.

It was a lot of fun, and a terrific group of women. I'll teach another class next month, only toe-up that time. This is all taking place at this beautiful shop.

The shop is just the kind of place you'd like to go and sit and chat with friends, and I really wish I was closer!

I was bouncing around during class (and actually worked up a sweat!) and then was still pretty high-strung for the drive home, what with traffic and horror-movie-quality fog. Then I got home, kissed the boys, sat on the couch, and my legs swelled up and I'm thinking I may just sleep on the couch rather than have to walk all the way down the hall. It was like as soon as the pressure came off my body allowed itself to hurt. And I don't remember if I took my synthroid this morning (probably not as I'm feeling a little over-emotional along with the soreness, judging from the fact that I just cried at the end of Legally Blonde) but I just don't want to go into the other room to get it, so the boys are just going to have to deal with the tears at Miss Congeniality.....

But it's okay, because the pain is so worth the fun I had... and I still feel like I'm improving... so it's a plus....

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Beautiful Way to Give

Happy February!

We are two weeks from Valentine's Day (GB, take note) and if you, like me are already starting to daydream about wonderful romantic evenings, my friend Nancy has an idea for you...

Nancy (the yellow bridesmaid in my wedding pictures at the right there) is a Mary Kay Representative and really loves her job. Mary Kay is a great company - it does lots of positive things for women, and produces an overwhelming percentage of female entrepaneurs in the world. The company doesn't test on animals, and strongly supports charity efforts, including its own foundation which gives aid to women with cancer as well as working hard to end domestic violence. It's a company you can feel good about.

Nancy has decided to kick off her business this year with a few little games.

The first is a SuperBowl Squares game. For every $5 you spend from today through the fourth (which is Saturday) you'll get an entry to win one of five prizes - one for each quarter and the final score.

The big one is going on until Valentine's Day, and this is where you get a little say in the final result. Nancy has very generously decided to donate 15% of her profits for the next two weeks to charity. Make sure you mention that you heard about it here, and she'll let us know how much we've put towards charity on February 15th (she has also offered to send a jpg of the checks proving the donation, and though I don't need to see it, I'll post it for you all to see if you like). To give you an added push, you get to pick the charity your money will go to. And there is no loser here, because we'll divide the proceeds among the charities. So you can get some great makeup, fragrance, skin care and gifts from a really good company and do a little good for charity too.

Hey, look! pretty fibery things!

I have pictures of the socks I'm knitting for Jane, heel turned during Brigadoon this afternoon (with some time-outs to daydream about Gene Kelly)....

and some gorgeous silk from the swap table at the KR Retreat (I think from Julie the Purple Chick?) this year.

(it was a little noily, but I couldn't turn down the color. That's two-ply, it's not that noily)

Order Mary Kay products from Nancy by February 14th and mention you heard about it here to make a donation to charity!

A Beautiful Way To Give
Where should Nancy ( donate your portion of her profits?
The Heifer Project
Knitters Without Borders
The Mary Kay Ash Foundation
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Can't Decide? Read more about the charities:
The Heifer Project
Knitters Without Borders
Mary Kay Ash Foundation

Marriage is love.