Monday, July 30, 2007

Chapter 4

~ ~ In which Chris sees beyond the socks...
... and notices her legs and feet ~ ~

Gads! Has anyone noticed just how unflattering self-portrait photographs are of one's feet? I just scrolled down on the page and the cursed sock photo caught my eye. Could my legs look any fatter? (Note the nifty potholder that Zack made in the upper right corner!) Seriously, if someone has a better way (and I can't don't won't do yoga) to get an attractive and mildly flattering foot shot, please let me know!

A Cat Barfed on My Yarn

Seriously, the yarn I dyed last night looks like cat puke. It's soaking right now to prep for an over-dye. I couldn't even bring myself to post a photo of it. Nasty, totally nasty. The purple/teal combo is still quite nice, but that salmon is rough. Nothing good about it. So, I'm really going to experiment with the over dye. Heck, it's ruined the way it is, what do I have to lose? Only about 10 bucks in yarn and maybe a dollar or two in dye. It's time to get weird.

I might just end up with two lovely skeins of black merino sock yarn. Not a bad thing.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Start Simple

I dyed two skeins of yarn tonight. The jury is still out. I thought I'd be clever and pick three colors for a cold pour paint. I picked purple, teal and orangey salmon--pretty much the secondary colors, or there about. I was going for a muted purple/lavendar, light teal, and just a hint of pink/orange. I added a bit of yellow to the purple to bring it into a more plum range, and then diluted it. To the teal, I added a bit of salmon. I was trying to desaturate by adding the opposite color. The teal looked pretty good on my test coffee filter. The salmon was just plain LOUD, so I tried to soften it and bring in more orange by adding yellow dye. Again, really good on the coffee filter.

So, I started to pour. Three mistakes....

1. When working on a new colorway, take copius notes (which I did) and only dye one skein at a time (I dyed two.)

2. When working with three opposite colors, watch out for gray, which is what happened at the teal/salmon transition.

3. I have a lovely little purple spot on my white t-shirt. It's not a good place for a spot unless, of course, you want people to wonder why you have a purple spot on one boob and not the other, and does it have any particular meaning?

I had hoped that I added enough salmon to the teal to bring it down so it would blend nicely, but it started to go gray in a hurry. They really neutralized each other out...which, now that I'm writing about it, is what I was trying to do in the mixing, but not what I anticipated in the pour. Duh, Chris.

The teal and purple are absolutely lovely together, and since this was a cold pour, there are lighter and darker sections. Total yum! I think I'm going to over-dye the salmon sections with purple or maybe sapphire. I'll let the skeins dry over night and make my final judgement tomorrow. Who knows, maybe when they dry they'll be what I intended.

Maybe I could get the skeins wet, hang them on hangers above my dye pot and immerse (or emerge depending on your denomination) just the salmon sections in dye exhaust, letting the exhaust "creep" up the skein. I wonder if that would work. Ponder. Maybe I'll just do the dye "creep" with purple dye dunking it in the same manner as making candles. Ponder.

A final rant: Today, I was craving a chocolate shake. I can't remember the last time I had one (years) and it just sounded good. It was 94 degrees and I wanted a frozen chocolatey something I could slurp through a straw. Two McDonald's, two out-of-order shake machines. Is it a conspiracy? The old bait and switch? They suck.

I decided on the next project:
Jaywalker Socks from MagKnits in Socks that Rock Lightweight Merino Terra Firma. Tasty! (Much tastier than the chocolate shake I didn't get.)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Good Morning!

This is what I saw when I stepped outside a few minutes ago. Not a bad way to start the morning.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Sock it to me!

After several false starts on the toe, I finally finished the cursed socks! More photos on Flickr. I wanted to post right away, so I didn't sweat over the photo shoot. As you can see, I didn't even get off the couch.

I learned several things from these socks....

1. I need to find a better cast-on for a top down sock. This one is ok, but on is ever so slightly tighter than the other. It's not noticable when they're on, I noticed it as I was stretching them side by side. Not a big deal.

2. On my next set of socks, I'll decrease maybe 2 more rounds in the gussett. I have really high insteps and the socks should have a smaller/tighter instep.

3. I'm going to knit from the toe up the next time. I had way too much yarn left over. Left over yarn is not a bad thing (maybe fingerless wrist warmers?) but I would have made the socks just a wee bit longer.

4. As for the toe...I did a search on the internet and found the chimney toe method by Lucy Neatby. It's about the coolest thing I've seen in a long time. Basically, when you get to the end of the sock you switch to a contrasting yarn and knit about 8 rounds with no decreases, and then cast off. Shut up, it really looks like a chimney! Then you poke the chimney inside the sock and line up the sock stitches and graft them together. Once the grafting is done, you ravel the chimney and voila, a perfect toe! Check out her site, she has tons of great ideas.

I was so pleased with the toe on the second sock that I frogged the toe on the first sock and reknit and grafted with the chimney method.

Thanks, Lucy! You've made me so very happy! On to project next....

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tip Toe

There are 16 stitches left on the needles of my sock. That means only one thing, time to graft the toe. I hate grafting. It just never seems to come out the way it should. I end up with a weird lump at the beginning and it's inevitable that I come up with one extra stitch so things don't lay right. I say to myself, "who will know? It's the toe, you'll never see it." Well my toes will see it. So, I'll do it over as many times as I need to in order to get it right. These socks are too beautiful to have sloppy toes.

The reason I didn't get the second sock done Sunday night is because I frogged the toe decrease. I knit it with a nylon reinforcing yarn and it came out really stiff and thick. I wasn't happy, so out it came. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right, right? Right.

Photos tomorrow, I promise!

Monday, July 23, 2007

An Apology to My Sister

I must apologize to my sister. Some time ago, I presented her with a gift of a skein of Mountain Colors sock yarn in the Northern Lights colorway, a pack of bamboo DPNs and a sock pattern designed by a somewhat local knitting expert. My sister, Karen, has never knit socks before. Many hats and scarves, but no socks. I thought this would be a good starter pattern that would get her hooked. The pattern is interesting enough to prevent stockinette burn out, yet the stitch repeat is simple and easy to remember. I can picture the Karen picking up her new new bamboo DPNs and wondering if she should knit with them or skewer some shrimp for the barbie.

Taking a deep breath, Karen casts on the recommended 72 stitches, being careful not to twist the stitches at the join. (She knows about twisted stitches, you see, there was this hat...) She breezes through the first inch of 1x1 rib. The hand painted yarn is looking good, but she's anxious to get to the meat of the pattern. As she knits the ankle of the slip stitch sock, she marvels at how the little bits of golden yellow miraculously show up just as she's slipping a stitch, making the pattern pop with life. When she gets to the heel flap, she hesitates for a moment until she realizes that the instep stitches just "hang out" while the heel flap is worked back and forth in a twisted slip stitch pattern. That makes perfect sense, and she finishes the flap fearing that the worst is yet to come.

(Why is it that turning a heel has a reputation for being a very difficult knitting maneuver? It's quite simple really, if you trust the pattern and do what it says.)

Karen admires her work thus far. It really is quite beautiful and not nearly as difficult as she supposed. She bravely dives into the heel turn only to have her confidence shattered by knitting abbreviation she has never seen before. The pattern reads as follows:

Turn Heel --
SL1, P ?/20, P2TOG, P1, turn work

She ponders the "P ?/20" instruction. It doesn't make sense to her because the next row instructs her to K5. So what the heck does P ?/20 mean? She consults her knitting books and finds no reference to question marks in knitting patterns. She knows WTF? but P ?/20...not a clue. Karen breaks down and calls her sister, but she knows that big sis will only tell her to "trust the pattern". Frustrating advice, yet it has always proven true.

Well, Karen, this time I apologize because this three-page pattern is riddled with typos and vague instructions. I hope you didn't get to the heel flap and rip everything out in total frustration. I owe you a better pattern for that beautiful yarn and your first foray into sock knitting.

To the pattern designers: Please proof your patterns and have them test knit by someone else, preferably someone who knits.

To those giving yarn and patterns as gifts to fledgling knitters: Please read the pattern to make sure there aren't any bungled up instructions like "P ?/20".

P ?/20


Sunday, July 22, 2007

But Did I Knit?

Yes, I did! And I'm nearly done with second cursed sock.

My morning routine went like this (with minor deviations):
1. Roll out of bed between 6:30 and 7:30 (Tuesday morning it was 5:45)
2. Make a pot of Columbian coffee with an extra scoop for good measure
3. Brush teeth, etc, while waiting for said coffee
4. Pour coffee into enormous travel mug (with appropriate amounts of chemical additives)
5. Grab knitting and head for the patio

There were a few mornings when it was just too humid to knit, so I read instead. I'm about 1/8 into James Michener's "The Source". If you like Michener, this one is pretty good. It's about an archeological dig in Isreal in the 1964. But you have to like Michener, it's not your typical beach novel. However, I highly suggest "Hawaii" if you're headed to the islands. Just blow past the first several hundred pages as he goes on and on and on and on and on (you get the idea) about the birth of the Hawaiian Islands.

Back to knitting...I'm decreasing the toe on the cursed sock, so I should have it done tonight (which still counts as getting it done while on vacation!) It looks really good and the gauge is matching the first sock, finally. I was a bit worried about knitting with wool on bamboo needles in hot, humid weather, but it didn't seem to make a difference. I'm going to frog the toe on the completed sock and rework it with nylon reinforcing thread. I also don't like the decreases on the first sock all that much. Toes don't take long, but I really hate grafting them. My next sock will be a toe-up out of STR Terra Firma. I'll post the cursed socks on Flickr as soon as they are BOTH off the needles.

It's been a good week of knitting. I also picked up the new Interweave "Felt" magazine. It's a special issue and I'll post a mini-review in the coming days.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

More on Respect

The following is an excerpt from:

Respect: A Foundation for Good Relationships
Respect is not just a vital ethical virtue; it is also an essential foundation for good relationships. Teens who show disrespect by ignoring, belittling, insulting or defying their parents make effective parenting difficult and unpleasant, if not impossible. Therefore, a central goal of good parenting is to teach your children to respect you.

You also have a duty to treat your teen with respect. Again, this is not only an obligation of conscience but also a practical necessity. Parents who yell, manipulate, insult, demean, abuse or ignore their children erect huge barriers to effective parenting.

Treating people with respect means letting them know that their safety and happiness matter, that they are important. To teach our children to be respectful, we need to translate the moral principal of respect into specific attitudes and actions.

Here are seven basic rules of respect:
1. Honor the individual worth and dignity of others.
2. Treat others with courtesy and civility.
3. Honor reasonable social standards of propriety and decency and personal beliefs, customs and traditions that are important to others.
4. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
5. Accept and tolerate individual differences and judge others on the content of their character and their abilities rather than religion, race, ethnicity or ideology.
6. Honor the right of adults and the desire of maturing children to control and direct their own lives.
7. Avoid using physical force or intimidation, and refrain from improper threats of force.

Here are some points to keep in mind as you strive to model a respectful attitude for your teen:
1. Listen to your teen without judging or criticizing.
2. Let your teen make his or her own decisions as much as possible.
3. Refrain from saying "I told you so" when your teen fails after ignoring your advice-not easy, but important!
4. Never make fun of your teen.
5. Give your teen your full attention when he or she talks to you.
6. Respect their privacy and possessions.
7. Avoid doing things yourself that you don't want your teen to do: using bad manners, arguing, using offensive language and negative comments.

This information comes from Parenting to Build Character in Your Teen, a joint project of CHARACTER COUNTS! and Common Sense Parenting®.

* * * * * * * * *

As I've been knitting this past week, I've also done a lot of thinking about respect. The greatest lessons we teach our children are by the examples we set. Children learn best by watching what we do and then immitating our actions. I will be a better example. I can only hope others will choose a similar path.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Respect - Definitions

Every now and then, the concepts of respect and self-respect must be revisited, lest they be forgotten. Let's start with disrespect:

dis·re·spect [disriˈspekt]
1. lack of respect; discourtesy; rudeness.

verb (used with object)
2. to regard or treat without respect; regard or treat with contempt or rudeness.

—Synonyms 1. contempt, disregard, irreverence.

Source: Unabridged (v 1.1)Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2006.

* * * * * * * * * * * *
re·spect (rĭ-spěkt')
tr.v. re·spect·ed, re·spect·ing, re·spects
1. To feel or show deferential regard for; esteem.
2. To avoid violation of or interference with: respect the speed limit.
3. To relate or refer to; concern.

1. A feeling of appreciative, often deferential regard; esteem. See Synonyms at regard.
2. The state of being regarded with honor or esteem.
3. Willingness to show consideration or appreciation.
4. respects Polite expressions of consideration or deference: pay one's respects.
5. A particular aspect, feature, or detail: In many respects this is an important decision.

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 22 Jul. 2007.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

self-respect [selfriˈspekt]
respect for oneself and concern for one's reputation (
Example: Well-known personalities should have more self-respect than to take part in television advertising.)

Source: Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary. K Dictionaries Ltd. respect

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Beach Bums

Greetings from Panama City Beach! It's Day Two of our vacation. I had every intention of posting last night, but I was dog tired. We left home around 4am and arrived at the beach around lunch time. The drive down was rather uneventful, but we did see the sunrise in Cullman while we ate breakfast at Denny's.

A few hours later, we stopped at Priester's Pecans to see them make the candy, but they weren't making the candy. Such a shame. They have a "Chocolate Room" in their factory. I would like to work in a Chocolate Room. I bought some rum pecans, yum!

Then we arrived at the beach and dined at The Red Bar. This is a wonderful place! It's off the beaten track but it's hugely popular.
And finally....some boogie boarding!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Just a few more hours...

...and we'll be on our way to the beach! The car is packed, and I mean packed. I hope there's room for the boys! It's going to be a lot of fun. Here's our Top 10 list of what we want to do this next week:

  1. Sleep in
  2. Relax
  3. Eat lots of good junk (guilt-free of course)
  4. Relax again
  5. Metal detect along the beach (with the new Bounty Hunter Tracker IV)
  6. Goof off
  7. Snorkel on the Daniel Webster Clements
  8. Swim at the pool
  9. Look for shells
  10. Stay up late

Sounds like we have our work cut out for us. We'll have a computer and wireless card, so I plan on blogging from the beach. I can't promise that I'll post every day, but I'll keep in touch.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Project Update!

Now that I've got my head out of my rear, I'm making pretty good progress on the second sock. My goal is to get it done while on vacation. I also have some Socks that Rock (STR) yarn that's patiently waiting for me to cast on. Not until this pair is done and ends are woven in.

On my needles:

  1. Lime green/black felted tote: Yarn--Berroco Vibe. It has been felted and shaped, so it's technically OFF the needles. All I need to do is sew the lining. I even have the lining fabric, I just need to find the sewing machine. It's in the guest room buried under mounds of yarn.
  2. Talisman handbag: Yarn--Boho Colors. This is also off the needles and waiting for lining and handles. I just haven't had time to look for the perfect hardware for this. It is so cool and will make a great evening bag. I'm not going to have long yarny handles. It needs something more sophisticated.
  3. Zack's afghan: I can't knit on this in the summer. It's just too warm. I'm using Plymouth Encore in heathered blue, red and tan. I chose Encore since it has a high wool content but can be machine washed. Very important. The pattern is something Zack and I came up with, domino or modular knitting. I hope to have it done by mid-September, or when the weather turns cool again.
  4. T-shirt bath rug: This one is interesting. I bought a bunch of purple t-shirts at Goodwill and I'm knitting them into a rug. It's not very easy going because the needles are huge. I'm about 1/3 done. It's a simple garter stitch, cast on 10 knit for several rows, bind off all but one stitch, turn and pick up stitches along an edge, knit some more. Totally random.

More photos to come. I plan on posting Zack's afghan pattern when it's complete. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Knit one, frog too!

I am mental. I'm knitting the second slip stitch sock. I just finished the 14 rows of 1x1 ribbing (again because my tension was for total crap the first time, wait...that would be the second time) and I started on the pattern. It's super easy--72 sts, size 1 dpns; 3 rounds of k3, p1; then a round of k2, yo, k1, p1; then two rounds of k1, slip as to purl, drop the yo stitch, k1, p1. I finished the first 6 rows and started the k3 p1 round, but I didn't p1. I'm not sure why I didn't p1, but it sure bungled up the pattern. I kept looking at it, then at the first sock, back at the second sock. [#$*%&!@] So I frogged the dang thing again, but only down to the ribbing. I WILL NOT START THIS SOCK FROM THE BEGINNING AGAIN. I will not. Cripes. My head must be in my rear end.

Here's an interesting thing I've learned from this...frogged yarn is like knitting with ramen noodles. This second sock just isn't looking as smooth as the first one. I'm hoping that when I block it, it won't look like ramen anymore. Ramen isn't a good look for a sock. I'm beginning to doubt that I'll ever get this one done.

Spinning Update:
I did a test spin on the merino roving. I only spun about a yard and then plied it back on itself.! So what if it has the faintest scent of cig butt. It spins like a freakin' dream! It's all I can do to not start it right now. But I will wait and dye it first. I'm thinking beach glass colors...we'll see what kind of inspiration I get from vacation.

Monday, July 9, 2007

It Came in the Mail

Important disclaimer: it did not all come in today's mail, if that helps.

I've been a bad blogger. I promised photos of the merino roving and am just now getting to it. The roving has been here for nearly two weeks. It's incredibly soft! So, it lived up to that expectation. However, when I buried my head in it (literally!) there was the faintest smell of cigarette smoke. Like fiber that's been in stored in a plastic bag in a house where there's a smoker, but the smoker doesn't have access to the fiber room. Or maybe the sheep downed a few butts prior to the shearing. Who knows? I'm mildly irritated. Not enough to send it back or complain, but enough to not buy from that store again. I knew I should have stuck with Etsy. I took it to my knitting group (we meet at a local coffee shop/cafe) the other night for show and tell. I asked them to smell it and they can't detect anything. "But you have to stick your head in the plastic bag," I tell them. The majhong players at the next table are now very curious about the habits of knitters. Anyway, I have 8 ounces of it and I'm going to dye it before I spin it up. It hasn't told me what color it wants to be yet, so that will have to wait. Maybe the dyeing process will kill the smoke smell. Ha! (Nearly as fun as dam jokes...)

Next came an impulse purchase on eBay. This is 6 smallish skeins of merino wool boucle that I got for about $10, shipping included. It's probably about DK weight and I'd guess circa 1980 . Each skein is 1 1/4 ounce. That's all the info on the label. I'm not sure what this will be. I'm thinking lacy shawl or wrap. I'm going to dye it first, maybe blues, taupe, brown...not sure yet.

This is what I've been waiting for! The box from Knitpicks. I got 4 more skeins of merino wool sock yarn and a bunch of Jacquard dye. Such pretty colors! As much as I want to jump in and start dyeing tonight, I'm not going to do it. First of all, I need a good spot in which to dye. Second, I don't have time this week. Drat! It will have to wait until we come back from vacation.

Ahh...vacation! Four days and counting...

P.S. My son pointed out to me that bag worms have nothing to do with knitting. Au contraire mon fils. "The cone-shaped bags, which they form, easily identify bagworms. These are carefully interwoven using silk and bits of leaves and twigs from the host plant resulting in a well-disguised covering." Source: Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences

They use silk to make their disgusting bag dwellings. I use silk to knit.

Even though they are silk-producing worms, they will surely die. I dye yarn and fiber.

Shall I continue? You see, my dear child, it all comes back to knitting.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Declaration of War

My arborvitae has bag worms.

This bag bastard is openly EATING my tree. If you look closely, you can see his nibble marks. I am completely mortified. This is almost as bad as (and I can barely bring myself to even type it) almost as bad as a moth in my stash. I think I'm going to be sick...

Normally, I'm not one to start using nasty insecticides on my plants, but in this case, it's either spray or cut down the shrub. I priced a replacement arborvitae and it would cost about $200.
There's only one thing to do. It's time for the "burning rain of death."

Thanks Hammy!

The Ham-ster (who just so happens to be my biggest fan) likes Knitty Bits! So, I've changed my blog URL. We batted around a couple other names too, but just kept coming back to Knitty Bits. And since my e-mail is knittybits(dot)gmail(dot)com, it makes sense to have the names related.

Many thanks to The Ham-ster for his much-valued opinion!

(...more about The Ham-ster in future posts!)

Monday, July 2, 2007

A Quick Roll in the Stash

I don't know why I ventured into the guest room. I only go in there when absolutely necessary, like to iron something or to clean it before my parents come to visit. Today I didn't need to iron, nor are my parents coming to visit. I went in to roll in my stash a bit.

First question. Where did it all come from? Second question. How can I possibly knit it all?

Surely, I didn't buy it all. There has to have been some sort of yarn mating going on. I seriously don't recall buying 7 skeins (all different colors) of Peaches and Cream cotton yarn. I remember knitting two dish cloths, but I know I only bought 2 skeins, right? Two cones of mill-end wool, roughly 4 pounds, yes, I remember that. The five skeins for the rest of Zack's afghan, yes, I remember. One lone skein of black acrylic, total denial, no recollection at all. And so it went for most of the afternoon. I'm rather proud of myself, nearly all the ball bands were in close proximity to the yarn. I gathered yarn and said bands, stuffed them neatly into ziplock bags, and then piled them on the ironing board, on the floor, on the table, more on the floor. Well...

In all the "rolling" I found what I was looking for, a completed sock and a sock still on the needles. This project was abandoned nearly a year ago because gauge of the second sock was not cooperating. The yarn is (I think) Lorna's Laces (no ball band in close proximity) and they're knit in an easy to memorize drop stitch pattern. When I noticed the gauge issue with the second sock I got ticked and unceremoniously launched it into the guest room. I'm not really sure what I was expecting. The elves didn't reknit it for me so today I frogged it and will start over.

Break out the DPNs.

Sock on!