Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I suppose if I'd thought about it for a minute....

The scene: The FOOL, changing shirts after a day of work, pauses to flop on the bed, shirtless. ANGUS investigates.
FOOL: Eek! Angus, don't sniff my armpit.
ME: Oh, don't worry about it. He won't do anything.
FOOL: He'll bite it.
ME: That's ridiculous. Who would bite your ...
FOOL: Ouch!
ME: Oh.
FOOL: 'That's ridiculous, who would bite your armpit' -- how about the guy who bites everything around here?

Monday, July 30, 2007

There is Little More Frustrating...

...than searching for a new ball of sweater yarn, only to realize that you're inexplicably out of said colorway. The pattern calls for two 25 gram balls of Twilight, and I'm woefully short. I knew that my row gauge was significantly smaller than the target, but I wasn't expecting to be quite this off. I've barely started the first sleeve, in fact! The worst part is that I can't remember if I have used both balls already or if I've misplaced one of them. Perhaps ball number two was a victim to the Great Move of 2007. Who knows? I think there is a Lincoln Park yarn store that sells Jamieson. (Any Chicagoans happen to remember the name of it? That would save me a trip to Des Plaines, or, even worse, Lake Forest.)

Running out of yarn is really only the icing on the cake. I had decided, before the Twilight yarn ran out, to take a break from knitting the sleeve to work on the collar. My decision was based not so much on the idea that I needed a break from sleeve knitting. Rather it was because of the fact that I accidentally broke my waste yarn stitch holder over the collar and dropped about 10 stitches in the process. Ergh.

Not only that, but I suspect that this sweater sleeve has been sleeping with the Gusset of Doom. My sock gussets usually consist of about 20 sets of decreases, alternating every row, for a total of 40 rows starting at 90-some stitches per row. This sleeve gusset, on the other hand, starts at 161 stitches per row, and decreases every third row for 72 rows, then every other row for 32 rows. At last count, I had only reached about halfway through the 72 rows. I guess the good news is that the rows can only get faster. But then I have a whole other sleeve to look forward to. I wonder if sweater knitters develop a Second Sleeve Syndrome similar to some sock knitters. Are there a whole bunch of one-sleeved sweaters in the world as a result?

So, as you can imagine, I haven't really felt that inspired recently about knitting. Between the recent vacation to Cape Breton, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and our most recent contra dance tour, I've had a lot of other things to think about. I'm sure the slump will soon end, though, after I figure out how much additional yarn I need to order from wherever it is I need to order it from.

Sockapalooza finis!

I finished the sock pal socks. Sort of.
See, when I was at the knitting group at Fringe last week (fun time; can't make it this week, but next week definitely), Sarah showed me a way to kitchener sock toes without fishing out a darning needle.
It's pretty slick, but as kitchenering is the bane of my existence (let's put it this way: if I got stuck in Purgatory, all I'd have in my knitting bag is socks to kitchener), I somehow managed to do it backwards.
Or so the Fool diagnosed.
So I batted my eyelashes and wheedled a bit and complimented him extravagantly, and right now, he's picking out my backwards kitchenering (and cussing) and is properly finishing the toe of a sock pal sock for me. I've still got ends to weave in.
The details: Charlene Schurch, "More Sensational Knitted Socks," out of Regia Bamboo.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Happy birthday to you!
You knit socks in twos!
Happy birthday, dear Foooolllll!
Happy birthday to you!

Big birthday wishes to the Fair Isling half of the Two Sock Knitters, a wonderful fiddler, all-around great guy ... and my absolute favorite husband. He likes to point out that as he's my only husband, he's also my least-favorite one, but we know it doesn't work that way.
He tears into shellfish like a hungry raccoon, makes delicious red lentil curry and invents ridiculous imaginary creatures, such as the Dumbgeness Crab, which pinches people who are being whiny and stupid about things. He also names all the wildlife in the yard and creates backstory and independent lives for them. He talks in funny accents around the house and isn't embarrassed to wear skirts while he contra dances. He's very good at cheering me up when I'm down, and cats and dogs like him because he smells nice. He's reasonably organized and he will do things around the house I think are gross, such as fish wet food out of the drain trap. He eats a lot of cereal. A lot. If I had gotten my act together, I would have made him pancakes for breakfast, he's that great.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Have your cake and eat it too

Marital strife avoided. I read Harry Potter Saturday (I'm a fast reader when it comes to fiction like that, and the Fool graciously obliged by taking a nap and leaving me alone for a bit), and now that I am finished, he is engrossed. He stayed up until 3:30 a.m. Sunday and 2:30 a.m. Monday and was a bit lethargic when he woke up to go to work.
So we sat companionably on the couch, him with his nose in the book and me with a variety of entertaining knitting. I worked on my sockapalooza sock, which I finished yesterday, and I tinked four rows of the mohair-blend Flower Basket shawl, which I put on time out because I didn't want to deal with fixing my mistake. But I did, and now I'm even further along than when I left off last time. I'm not sure how big I'll make it, because I want to use up every possible inch of this yarn - it's pretty, but boy, is it a pain to work with.
Saturday morning, we set off on an adventure, to the first Illinois Fiber and Folk Festival in Crystal Lake, which is about an hour-and-a-quarter drive from our house.
It was a great fiber festival. Four vendor tents - not just things for knitters and spinners and weavers, but some quilting fabric, some beads, some fancy sewing trim and buttons and some none-of-the-above.
They had classes, too, but we weren't quite organized enough to pick out ones to take. Next year, though, we want to. They had delicious festival food sold from booths. The Fool ate a plate of Polish delicacies (pierogies, a blintz and a potato pancake) and I had a kebab sandwich, followed by dessert, which was buttered roasted sweet corn.
We got stopped by some blog readers, including a woman and her little daughter. The woman said, "Are you that guy knitting the amazing sweater?" The Fool said he was, and whipped the sweater out of his bag to show her. They talked a bit about Fair Isle and I had a nice talk with a woman about Aran sweaters.
We also stopped to visit our favorite Marengo fiber purveyor, Toni, of The Fold, who had to travel something like a whopping 12 miles to make it to this festival.
Maybe it was because this was a local crowd, maybe it was because it was the festival's first year, but we noticed something strange about her booth.
It had stock.
If you've ever seen her at Rhinebeck or MS&W, one of the ways to pick out her booth is that it's either got a two-mile line in front of it, or it's been picked clean of all the Socks That Rock. But here, she had maybe 15 or 20 skeins left. I bought one.
The Fool has the camera with him in Texas and I know you don't actually believe me about The Fold and no line and STR spotted in the wild, so I'll post a picture later.
Meanwhile, Angus is chasing a daddy longlegs, there are fresh peaches and Edy's ice cream in the freezer, and I've got the second literary treat of the summer in my bag.
Harry Potter was great ... but Jasper Fforde's latest Thursday Next novel is out.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Unfair compromises

I've been knitting busily away on the sockpalooza socks that are on my needles right now. I've just hit the gusset on sock 2, and intellectually, I know they'll be done by Aug. 2. But I'm not convinced, because they're not done right now.

I was explaining this to the Fool last night, and he helpfully pointed something out, a little time management hint, if you will.

He said: "Well, maybe you should just work on your sock until it's done ... and until then, I'll read Harry Potter. You can have it when you finish your sock."

I wonder if I can knit the rest of this thing before midnight?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cape Breton

Went to square dances. Went to ceilidhs.

Ogled scenery.

Drooled after lupines.

Looked for strange things. Found them.



Bought yarn.

Ate seafood. Ate homebaked cookies.

Laughed at frogs.

Hiked in bogs.

Slept like logs.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Tea and Chowder in Meat Cove

Hello from the top of the world. We're at the tea house in Meat Cove, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada. It's the northernmost point accessible by road on the island, and the farthest north we've ever been on this continent.

The chowder is really good - big chunks of fish and other swimmy things we can't quite identify, with boiled potato to give it a bit of heft. We're heading back to Cheticamp tonight for Acadian food and music, and then back to our vacation cottage in Inverness.

We're such urbanites that at first, when we opened the window last night, we thought the ocean sounded like traffic.

Earlier today, we decided to visit Gampo Abbey, a Tibetan abbey at the northern end of the island. They weren't offering tours, but the grounds were open, so we poked around the woods looking for the abbey's stupa.

As we were walking around it three times clockwise for luck (as specified in the informational pamphlet) the skies opened up and drenched us as we walked back to the car. We're still evaporating.

More adventures to come ....

Saturday, July 07, 2007

By popular request




We're leaving for Cape Breton in about an hour.
The Fool is going to a fiddle camp and I am going to sleep in.
I've answered these critical questions, so I'm set.

1. What will I read on vacation?
I went to the library Thursday night and returned an overdue book on tape, and picked up a few items for vacation reading, using my typical method of walking around the shelves and taking whatever looks interesting. I got some Terry Pratchett, "The Stone Diaries," by Carol Shields, some novel about some goofy pint-pulling contest in Ireland (never heard of it nor the author) and "Rats," a non-fiction book about the history of rats and people. I've wanted to read that last one for a while. I like rats.

2. What will I knit on vacation?
That was a little easier. I've been drooling after my vacation knitting for a while now, and it's going to be my Sockapalooza socks, shown below. It's that Regia bamboo yarn - interesting to knit. I don't know if I'll make it one of my stalwart sock yarns, but I'm having a good time with it.

This is a skein of Sea Silk I picked up at MS&W. I'm going to knit a lace scarf for my MIL out of it - something out of Victorian Lace Today. As a special vacation treat, I went and got one of those fancy Addi Turbo lace needles - size 6. The pattern calls for an 8, but that doesn't seem like it will make the kind of fabric I want. It will be ... too lacy. I don't want this to be something my MIL won't wear because she's afraid of snagging it on something. Can't wait to cast this on.

3. Will I take a banjo or guitar on vacation?
Oy. If I take a guitar, I can practice guitar and sit in on any sessions that might spring up. Also, I'll probably have to check it.
If I take the banjo, I can practice old-time banjo and not sit in on any sessions, as the 5-string banjo is not so conducive for Celtic music, especially if you play it clawhammer style and especially if you don't play it very well yet, two of my problems. I'm in an e-mail 'tune of the week' club with some other musicians spread across the country and I'm about three tunes behind. Cape Breton would give me some time to catch up. And it would fit in the overhead compartment.
I could probably borrow a guitar at a session with more ease than I could borrow a banjo.
I'm leaning toward the banjo, but it doesn't feel right.
Off to load the dishwasher one last time and collect the laundry from the line.

eeeeee! Vacation!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Independence Day

Meg here - borrowing the Fool's account to report that it is a good holiday chez Socknitters. We have a passel of people coming over later this afternoon for food and old-time jamming, so there is a Dutch oven of vegetarian baked beans baking away in the oven, teriyaki chicken drumsticks marinating away in the refrigerator, a pan of vegetables ready for grilling, corn on the cob and a cherry pie in the offing.
The cats are celebrating their own Independence Day by declaring themselves free of the oppressive and odious Household Rules For Cats. Angus, in his self-appointed role as Summertime Lord of Misrule has been happily mugging ankles all morning, taking breaks only to stand on the dining table. Spoot keeps trying to sleep on the marimba and open the bathroom cabinet so she can hide inside. Mab is sleeping under the bed - but I'm certain she's thinking something up.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

No Shame At All

So I'm sitting here at Panera Bread, working remotely. I realize that it's getting really cold in here because it's over air conditioned, and worse yet, that I don't have any warm clothes with me, save the yet unfinished Kai sweater with needles sticking out of it.

Other folks might balk at the idea of wearing an in-progress sweater in public, but not me.

I'm really glad that I got a camera phone for moments like this.