Wednesday, October 31, 2007

And you will know us by the trail of crumbs

Happy Halloween, everyone!
The Fool and I celebrated by leaving a trail of disaster behind us in a Corner Bakery this morning. They had trays of samples set out, with plastic tongs to serve. I tried to pick up a cube of coffeecake, but didn't feel like the tongs were closing adequately, so I kept squeezing harder and harder ... until, with a loud snap, they broke.
Luckily, no one noticed.
Then the Fool saw the samples.
"Here," he said, offering me one with the tongs. But I didn't get my hand out fast enough, and he was enthusiastic, so what he actually did was throw the sample up into the air toward me. It fell on the floor.
I took the Lord's name in vain.
"You were supposed to catch that," he said.
"You're not supposed to throw cake," I said.
Then we bumbled our way to the table, where we made a mess of packaging our food in to-go containers, as we didn't have enough time to eat, and I finally just had my oatmeal here at work, and as I was washing off my spoon in the sink, I realized ... it's not my spoon.
I stole it from the Corner Bakery.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

That Poor Woman!

On the Metra train this morning, I spied a woman who was clearly trying to knit something in-the-round (probably a sock) using 4 DPNs. The needles were bobbly because it was early in the project, and this seemed to be causing her a lot of discomfort. Worse yet, she had a huge mess of tangled yarn coming out of the ball, and this didn't seem to be helping.

I wanted to say something reassuring to her, but shouting, "I feel your pain. Have you tried using 2 circs?" across the car probably would have been construed as odd, to say the least.

While the Fool codes...

... I knit.
I have a cold. It's probably no big deal as colds go; I'm sure there are worse colds out there, but as far as I am concerned, no human being has ever suffered more than I.
I made the mistake of taking Benadryl to relieve a runny nose this morning and ended up so stoned at work I walked into someone's desk.
"So?" the Fool said, "I do that when I don't take cold medicine."
Anyway, on Sunday, when this cold was at its apex, I sat on the couch, felt sorry for myself a lot, blew my nose, and knit the Fool a chullo that I promised him a while back. It occurred to me that it was getting cold and he would need a hat for his hikes. It's a good hat, but because of the curly hair, it tends to sit on top of his head funny. I think maybe the optimal hat would be a rasta hat with earflaps. I should look into that next.
It's a stashbusting hat - used up some Cascade that was kicking around, so that's a good thing. I was going to use some of his handspun for the Fair Isle parts, but I was afraid the gauge would be wonky and I was sick, so I didn't think I was up to anything really challenging.
Here it is:

Happy Halloween Eve!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Giant Sucking Sound in direction of

Yes, I've been sucked in to the Ravelry cult. They're letting me out briefly to work on the blog.

Between starting the KnitML and Crafty Walkers groups, I've been working quite a bit on KnitML itself. The engine is very close to being done. I'm just doing some really pesky things right now. Trying to tell a computer, for instance, how to rearrange stitches on a needle after you've declared the start of a new round in the middle of an existing round is a bit of a challenge. Sound like a corner case? Trying knitting a sock sometime without rearranging stitches on the needles.

Through KnitML I've met Guido (pronounced GEE-doh, so no, he's not my new KnitML thug). He runs a blog out of Boston called It's A Purl, Man. I've listened to some segments of a few of his shows, and it's quite entertaining. I'm also a bit fascinated by the fact we share the same birthday (and birthyear). How many people do you know who were born on the exact same day as you?

I have had a few moments to do a bit of knitting. I received my second pair of Sock Wars socks in the mail last week, finished them in a day (once I dorked around for two days looking for my needle), and sent them to their intended victim. More waiting patiently for the mail to come. I'm still alive for some reason, and there are only about 35 of us warriors left.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


Three men in a tub in Arthur, Ill. Do I have hundreds of squash photos? Yes.

Today, we've been enjoying a beautiful fall day, probably one of the last ones.
I have a great cold, the kind that makes me wake up in the middle of the night coughing, wondering if I have undiagnosed tuberculosis that snuck up on me when I wasn't paying attention ... that kind of thing.
We ran a couple errands this afternoon, and then I had plans to go help the Fool with some yardwork. Instead, I decided to take a nap and he mowed the lawn.
Enough boring domesticity - where's the yarn?

Spoot graciously sits still while we drape the Fool's second pair of Sock Wars socks over her for a more interesting photo and show that Angus isn't the only cat around here who gets any press anymore.

The mother-in-law's Sea Silk scarf, behaving nicely again.

The Sea Silk scarf tries to drape itself over pretty foliage for a seasonal picture.

Some raging cosmos that seeded themselves from a bunch of orange ones we planted this spring. It's supposed to freeze tonight, so this may be the last of the flowers.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Way better than lining a birdcage

Check out this use for the daily fishwrap. I could carpet the city with what's in the recycling bins on the loading dock ....

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I just got my invite! My username is, strangely enough, fiddlinfool. Make sure you join the KnitML group, too!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Back on track

I sat down with the MILs Sea Silk scarf, and as Kathy in KS reminded me in the comments a couple weeks back, I am the boss of my yarn, so I made it work.
Hah. Go me.
Am fierce, and am one pattern repeat down and am not making any more mistakes.
The Fool glared at me until I ran a lifeline, too, so I'm posting this picture of him exulting in front of a giant pile of hardshell gourds.

"All your gourds are belong to me!"

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Knitters everywhere!

I was hanging out at the library tonight, waiting for the Fool to finish with his interior decorating class so I could pick him up, and tinking lace, the sea silk scarf, finally out of the time-out corner.
As I was picking away at it, I noticed a woman looking at me, and guiltily, I thought she had heard me swearing under my breath (it's a very quiet library.)
Instead, she came over and asked, "Is that from 'Arctic Lace'?"
So we talked about the pattern (Is from 'Victorian Lace Today,') and we talked about the Sea Silk and where you can find it locally. She saw some in Boston, and didn't buy it because it smelled too seaweedy, like inside-an-Asian-grocery-store seaweedy. I don't necessarily consider that a drawback; I love the smell of the ocean, but I did tell her the scent goes away after a bit.
Then she asked the in-crowd question these days - "Are you on Ravelry?"
"Yes," I said. And then, feeling like a 14-year-old, "I'm megd; come find me and we can friend each other."

(For Maura in DC, who said that even though this is technically a knitting blog, it needs more squash photos.)


The Gnomes Did It

I swear it must have been gnomes. I'm betting they snuck into the house last night and rearranged all of the items we needed to find this morning, because both Meg and I struck out. It took me forever to find my pants, belt and coat, and Meg couldn't find her keys or any matching work clothes.

I also could not find my knitting notions bag. This is particularly unfortunate given that I am keeping my weapon for Sock Wars in there, and that my target's socks arrived in the mail last night.

Yeah. The day can really only get better from here.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Rhinebeck envy

"Oh, it's fine we're not going to Rhinebeck this year. We can plant bulbs."
"It will save money, and we're going to be traveling a lot in November."
"We have plenty of wool to spin and yarn to knit; we don't need more."
"It probably wouldn't be as much fun as last year."


To drown our sorrows, we decided to go to Arthur, Ill. Home of the Great Pumpkin Patch, which was written up in Martha Stewart Living two or three years ago. They have the Great Wall of Squash. They have the League of Cucurbit Nations. There is a corn maze. You can get pumpkin ice cream. Plus, our friend Michelle and her new son Jayden (who we have never met) and her husband live down that way, so we visited them too.
First, we put on new wool socks. ("Hedgerow" pattern - Knitpicks I dyed with logwood purple. Pattern: eeeh. Not so fun to knit, but I did like how it turned out.)

The Fool: Some kind of yarn, Online, maybe, or Instep, or Austermann, or something he can't remember. The pattern? He doesn't remember that either, maybe out of one of the Charlene Schurch books. If you really like them and want to make your own pair? Too bad. You're on your own.)

The Fool found a big squash he liked in the section of the farm set aside for squashes to buy and eat. They had bins and bins of them, labeled by type and price, as well as cooking suggestions. He liked this one because it was big and lumpy.

Wall O' Squash.

There is a great deal of debate among Biblical scholars on this point, but some accounts describe a second voyage Noah made, after he figured out squash were a lot easier to manage than all those damn animals screeching and pooping and messing up his ark.

Finally, check out this Bearded Buff Laced Polish hen! (thanks Minitron!)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

In which Angus meets a contractor

We had a guy over tonight to talk to us about the garage roof, which is in need of repair. So while he went on (and on) about cedar shakes and how they're cut from trees, and how they're installed properly, with what kind of nail, and what kind of underlay and, and, and ....
Angus, possibly fed up with this guy sitting at his dining table, talking to his people, grabbed his foot and started chewing on his ankle.
"Hey!" the roofing contractor said, "What are you doing there, little guy?"
Luckily, he has cats of his own, so he understood, as much as anyone understands Angus.
I turned a short row heel tonight, and, eeh. I may rip it out. The cuff of the sock is largely stockinette, and it seems baggy at the ankle, so I wonder if a heel flap would have been a better decision; if that would have pulled in the ankle a bit.
I'm going to sleep on that, unless anyone has a thought on the matter.

KnitML Mentioned in Latest Cast On Podcast

Apparently I'm the last one to know, but I was looking at my website statistics and noticed more than a handful of referring links coming from Brenda Dayne's Cast On website. So it turns out that KnitML received a mention in Episode 57: I Speak Jive. Brenda is really happy to hear that the project is moving along and wants me to keep her posted.

In other news, I ran into a fellow knitter at a coffee shop today. I generally find it awkward to start conversations with people I don't know, but she looked friendly, and being that I didn't have my knitting with me at the time, I had the perfect opening line. It wouldn't be interpreted as a pickup line and at the same time immediately exposed my inner knitting geek. I recognized her knitting needles as KnitPicks circulars (with the magenta cable), so I approached her and said, "Excuse me, but are those KnitPicks needles?"

It turns out that she is Ms. Prolix and knows Meg from volunteering at the Old Town School. Uncannily enough, she also knows a good contra dance friend of ours now living in California. She has a Ravelry account, too, but I'm not sure what the etiquette is about publicly posting that information. I imagine that if she wants the general world to know, she will have posted her handle somewhere in her blog.

Cool Chicago fiber thing

Here's a link to a story on a giant crocheted coral reef. With pictures!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sock Wars

The Fool embarked on Sock Wars on Friday when he got an e-mail with the pattern, yarn weight and needles. And his victim's name.

Angus helped him print out the pattern.

Because it's October, he decided to make scary Halloween socks. Here, he's casting on.

We went to hear a friend of mine tell ghost stories, and beforehand, we had dinner. The Fool knit.

He finished them today and mailed them off.
We'll see what happens next.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Where I cannot knit lace

1. In poor lighting.
2. On a beach, although I got over that.
3. In the car. Even if I'm not driving.
4. At Peggy Kinnane's Irish pub during a session.
5. At Tuesday-night knitting group (sorry, ladies, too much talking)
6. At home, in silence, on the couch, under a lamp.


I've been working on my MIL's Christmas present, a lace scarf in Sea Silk. The pattern is not hard. It's from Victorian Lace Knitting, and it's even got the nice purl row on the back side to give me a break.
But, I swear, I've knit the same row something like eight or nine times. I made a mistake, so I tinked back. Then I made another mistake and tinked back some more because I realized I didn't go far enough back. Then I dropped a stitch but didn't notice because it was right on the edge and then I couldn't get anything to work right because I had 57 - not 58 - stitches in the row.
(It took me a couple times back and forth, knit a row, tink a row, knit a row, tink a row, to figure that out, because I wasn't quite smart enough to realize that if I counted the stitches on the needle first thing, I would have figured out what the problem was.)
So I tinked back all the way to the row with the dropped stitch and picked it up. Then I knit three rows. Then I tinked them back because I'd made another mistake.
Then last night, I sat down on the couch with no disturbances, checked my stitch count, checked it against the row I was about to knit ... and knit. Six rows.
I looked at it in satisfaction before I went to bed, convinced I'd finally overcome inertia on this project, but no.
I still made a mistake. And I still have to tink it back. And I cannot for the life of me figure out why I keep breaking down here. Unless the knitting is trying to tell me that it does not want to be a scarf; it wants to be a placemat.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

What Would You Do in this Situation?

I need an opinion here. What do you do if you have a marker sitting between two stitches you need to knit together?

For illustration purposes, let's say I have 10 stitches on my needle and I have placed a marker between stitches 5 and 6 (making 5 stitches on either side of the marker). The row to be knitted looks like this:

Row 1: K4, k2tog, k4

What would you do?
  1. Slip stitch 5 to the right needle, remove the marker, slip the stitch back to the left needle, then knit two together.
  2. Do #1, then place marker on the right needle.
  3. Do #1, then slip the stitch just worked back onto the left needle, place marker, slip.
  4. You can't k2tog while there's a marker between the stitches! There is a problem with the pattern.

Monday, October 08, 2007

An Untimely Demise

I'm knitting a pair of monstersocken for a friend in St. Louis. This is a German tradition which involves knitting a pair of socks from many little balls of leftover sock yarn. It's a great way to use up sock yarn, and it produces a fun result. Little did I know that it could also be perilous.

As some of you already know, I knit and walk. It's really not as hard as it sounds, as both activities only require about half of my attention. I most often do this for 50 minutes a day walking from the train station to the office. Usually it's a rather unremarkable experience, but occasionally something interesting happens.

So I was knitting and walking this morning, working on the monstersocken. The current ball of yarn I was using I kept in my front pocket. Now normally when I need to feed more yarn into my project, I just pull. Sometimes you just have to give it a good tug to get your yarn out.

Well, since this is a monstersocken ball, it's quite petite. My "good tug" sent the ball flying out of my pocket and onto the sidewalk. This would have been fine, except for the fact that I didn't notice this until I got about 30 feet down the sidewalk. And not just any sidewalk. It was a sidewalk over the Chicago River.

I scrambled back, hoping that the worst case scenario hadn't happened. I was wrong.

I found the ball, dangling off of the bridge, slowly unwinding its way down to the river. Had I remembered that my phone has a camera, I would have taken a picture. It was really quite spectacular. I suppose I could have pulled like crazy to try and recover the length of the ball before it hit the river, but it seemed like a losing battle. I cut the yarn and continued on my way.

I realized later that the Chicago River eventually flows into the Mississippi River, which runs right by St. Louis, where the recipient of these socks lives. So Martha, if you see a tiny ball of yarn floating down the Mississippi in maybe a day or two, can you grab it for me? Thanks.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Not knitting - felt turkey hats

This is the evening's project. Why am I making turkey hats?
Because we're making a short movie of a square dance to promote our community's dance weekend, Breaking Up Thanksgiving, and of course ... we need eight turkey hats.
This is a prototype and the pictures are mostly for the benefit of Lynn, who also sort of volunteered to make hats.
I think I won't use black thread next time. It was what was in the machine, but I think I might try threading it with clear nylon. Or pick a neutral like gray or beige. When I go to the store next, I'll see about googly eyes, too. I don't have good buttons.

Hat deployed on head:

Detail of elastic - that's about a 2.5 inch piece of 3/4-inch elastic.

Hat flat.

Jelly as herald of doom

Here's a dirty little secret Chez Two Sock Knitters.
The Fool can't deal with the mail. He mops floors, he kills bugs, he fishes gross wet food from the sink trap, he cleans litterboxes without a single nose-wrinkle ... but the one household task he really, really cannot handle is this: package an item and take it to the post office to mail.
When we first got married, I learned that he signed up for automatic bill payment because he could not manage to buy stamps in a timely fashion.
It's OK, though, because I like that kind of thing. I like picking out pretty postage stamps (I'll wait in line so I don't have to get the boring ones from the vending machine.) I like parceling stuff up and writing neat address labels. Now that I knit, I really don't even mind waiting in line for 10 minutes.
I thought we'd reached a breakthrough when the U.S. Postal Service introduced automatic package mailing kiosks in their lobbies. The Fool and I are big fans of those, and I thought maybe we'd cured his mail issues.
Then he announced a blog contest. For jelly. Which had to be mailed. I parceled up the jelly for family and shipped that off, and decided that he should be responsible for the blog contest jelly. I bought boxes and placed them on the dining table with newspaper and bubble wrap.
And I waited.
I mentioned it a couple times.
And a couple times more.
I felt like I was about to nag. And I don't like to nag people. I started thinking of extravagant things I could promise if he would only. Package. The. Damn. Jelly.
But last night, he did it! He parceled it all up.
And I forgot to take them with me this morning to mail.
I digress. Last night, while he was bustling around with packing tape and permanent markers, I mentioned that a key part of the Sock Wars contest is mailing your completed socks to your target.
He paused.
"Oh," he said. "I'm so gonna lose."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


You know how when you have some unusual items to take to work with you, it's hard to remember the normal stuff?
Unusual things I remembered to put in my work bag today: Official Paperwork I need to mail, womanly supplies in case of emergency, notes from an interview I did last night and want to work on, materials for art class tonight.

Normal stuff I forgot: My PDA. My knitting. Anything at all interesting to read.

Sigh. So now, faced with an expanse of time between 5 p.m., when work ends, and 7 p.m., when art class starts, I don't know what to do. Usually, I grab a quick dinner and then get something nice to drink at a Starbucks or similar and enjoy an hour of knitting. I thought about driving home to get my knitting, but I'd be tempted to stay there and skip art class, and it would take long enough that I wouldn't really have any time to knit anyway.
Maybe I'll just work late instead.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Endpaper Mitts, sort of

I started knitting Eunny Jang's Endpaper Mitts as the pattern was written, using a variegated yarn for the background. As you can see from the first pattern repeat, that looks confusing.

So I added a couple more dots to her pattern and filled it in a little more and came up with the second repeat to see what it would look like.

Then, tonight, I drank a beer and reversed the colors. I didn't finish the repeat, because on the other side of this mitt is the kind of two-color knitting you might expect from someone who had just finished drinking a beer.

I'm leaning toward the final iteration, where the diagonal lines are the variegated yarn, which I bought because I like the colors a lot and which I think I'd like to see more of than the dark green yarn.

Tomorrow, I think I'll frog back to the beginning of the cuff.