Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Back Yard Pictures

In Sock Wars news, my days now are officially numbered. I received notice from my assassin last night that she would be mailing my completed socks of doom to me today. I am already listed as "dying" on the sock wars spreadsheet, even though the socks will be travelling from Toledo, Ohio, and I most likely won't receive them for a few days. I'm not officially dead until I have them in my hands, but the editors of the spreadsheet are getting antsy to wrap this thing up. Out of 772 warriors, there are technically 123 still standing, and 68 dying (waiting for their socks to arrive). I feel really great that I made it to the top 16% of the sock wars and that I was able to take out three opponents. The percentage of living vs dead will probably change before I receive my socks of doom, but my demise is imminent, and I've had a good run. I would do it again in a heartbeat! Of course I will post pictures of the socks when I receive them, probably along with a wrap-up "memorial" of my experiences.

There's talk of a hat wars, with the unofficial name of "head games" to begin sometime after the new year. I would participate for the competition aspect, and because I've had such fun in the sock wars, but I'm not really a hat-wearing girl. They always look funny on me. But maybe I could get a nice hat for the Count or Girlie out of it, depending on the color.

Here is the view from my deck last weekend:The babies didn't even know that I was taking their picture. I love coming upon them during their sweet moments together. Sissy was swinging her brothers while Daddy was raking leaves. And melting my heart.

I was out on the deck with the camera to get a shot of this:It may not come across very clearly, but we USED TO have a bridge that the Count built to go across our creek. But during a windstorm, the top of one of our trees decided it was afraid of heights, and wondered if it could take out our bridge during its free fall. Looks like it succeeded. The Count says he will build (in his words, not mine) a "prettier" bridge next spring. The creek floods every winter, so we won't miss the bridge until the weather warms up again.

In knitting news, the fabulous Koigu project in pinks for my niece Stephanie is looking really beautiful. It's kind of been slow going, but knitting with the Koigu is hypnotizing, and I'm loving how it's been turning out, though I've only got about 2 inches done. I can't show you until after I mail them off for her birthday, which is on the 14th of this month. These truly are a labor of love, and I find myself thinking of this lovely girl (well, woman now, as she'll be turning 20!) (how did that happen??) and giggling over sweet memories as I knit every stitch. My sister's kids are the children of my heart, and I couldn't love them more if I had given birth to them myself. This knitting project will have to hug her while I cannot, since she lives in Chicago. Ooh, I'm getting all choked up now. But I love you, my brown-eyed girl, and I love who you are to my children. You've made some great choices in your life, and I am so very proud of you.

Now where is that tissue box?

Happy Halloween!

A very Happy Halloween from the Great Pumpkin and his big brother the snake and big sissy the dog.

*Our love to all.*

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Socks, Socks, Socks!

Thank you to everyone who sent good wishes for me to feel better after having the flu. I think I'm finally over the worst of it.

In my last post, I mentioned working on a pair of socks for my mother-in-law. That came about when she was here visiting and some of my sock yarn caught her eye. She said she would very much like a pair of socks out of this yarn:
I love to knit for someone if I know it's going to be appreciated. And I love it when someone picks out some yarn and asks me to knit something specific for them. Who would have thought that the stripey looking skein of yarn would make such a pretty sock? But I'm not happy with it. It's a basic stockinette sock, but I wanted to follow the directions exactly to get a feel for basic sock construction, and I don't like how pointy the toe turned out. I could live with that, but look at this:Can you see that ladder running down the entire side of the sock? It's on both sides. I'm sure it's from where the needles joined. I guess I needed to pull a little tighter when changing needles, but this is my 5th pair of socks and the first time this has been an issue. Since these socks are for my mother-in-law, I'm pretty disappointed. I'm sure she would love anything I made, but I KNOW I can do better than that. *pouts*

Ah, well.

Look at this beautiful confection of yarn:This is Koigu KPPPM--something, and it's going to be made into something for my lovely niece Stephanie's birthday. Shhh...it's a secret. Here's a closer look:
Isn't it gorgeous?

And now for the Sock Wars Update:

As of this writing, 5+ weeks in, there are 147 out of 772 participants still in the game.

In my last post I told you that I heard from the next person up the sock wars chain assigned to eliminate me, so my days are numbered. I was hoping to get one more "kill" in before being taken out of the competition, so it was a waiting game to see what I would get in the mail first: a pair of socks from my latest victim for me to finish or my own socks of doom, signalling my demise. Well, on Friday afternoon, a squishy package did indeed arrive. This is what was inside:

Yes, my friends, an almost completed pair of socks for me to finish! (yarn and fiber content unknown). So I survived another day to take out another victim:This time the socks are for Moa, and there really wasn't much left to do to finish these. You can see by the red and purple waste yarn that all I had to finish on the first sock was the toe. The heel flap was already completed on the second sock, so I just had to finish the foot. Less than 24 hours after receiving them, I was able to drop my third (and probably final) Socks of Doom in the mail to my third target.

RIP Moa.

And Hat Lady.

And Mamie.

A moment of silence for my worthy opponents, if you please.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Thank you, Sock-ret Pal!

A big thank you goes to my Sock-ret Pal for sending me the yarn made just for Sock-ret Pal participants, called Hot Sox.This yarn is made by Susie at Perchance to Knit and it is gorgeous. The colorway is black, lime green, hot pink, and electric blue. I can't wait to knit it up. I was so excited when I received the package!

The yarn also came with a beautiful pink crystal stitch marker attached with a note from my pal. I feel very spoiled. Thank you so much, Sock-ret Pal! I love it!

It's been a week since my last post because I've been waylaid by the flu. I've just now started feeling good enough to be up and around and write a proper entry on my blog. Unfortunately, being sick with the flu made my head and joints too achey to get any knitting done.

The knitting I started before I got sick was a pair of socks for my mother-in-law, of which I almost have the first one done. I'm excited to show you when they're finished.

In Sock Wars news, Today marks 5 weeks exactly that I'm still in the game. Though I don't know for how much longer, because I got an email this week from the person up the line who is now trying to eliminate me. Depending on how long it takes her to knit me a pair of socks (which shouldn't take very long--the pattern is very quick to knit and I wear a size US 5 shoe) my days are becoming numbered. My second target, Mandy, received her socks of doom from me this week and has forwarded the socks for her next victim on to me. So it is a waiting game to see which socks I receive in the mail first. I would really like another kill under my belt before being taken out of the game. You'll be the first to know, of course. At the time of this writing, out of 772 participants, only 152 are left standing. I feel really good about making it this far. And in the end, what better consolation is there than to receive a nice pair of hand-knit socks just for you?

I wish you all good health.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Another Winner

Jennifer and Mamma weighed in with their answers to the question: Which Olympic athlete did I attend the same high school as? And I have to say that they've been paying attention. Mamma answered Tonya Harding, which is a very good guess since Tonya went to high school in Portland. But Jennifer was correct when she said Steve Prefontaine, noting that he was also an Oregon boy. We were born in the same city of Coos Bay, Oregon, and we both graduated from Marshfield High School, though more than 20 years apart. My sister remembers him, but I was too young to recall anything. The city of Coos Bay still honors him by holding the annual Prefontaine run, which is the route he used to run in high school.

So congratulations to Jennifer. I do have your address handy, so I will ship this yummy Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere out to you immediately.

I'm still waiting to hear from Trek so I can send her the Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora yarn for answering my first question correctly. As soon as I get your mailing address, I will send it on its way.

Now I would like to direct your attention to my friend Chrissy's new knitting design website. (Click on the button to visit the website). I think it turned out beautifully. She has a few patterns for sale, one of which I test knit for and can now show you here. This is the Passport Pouch, knit with one skein of Louet Sales Euroflax. As soon as it was finished, it was snatched up by Girlie for her own purposes. It was really fun to knit. Chrissy will be adding more patterns as time allows. Well done, girlfriend!

Finally, another sock warrior goes down.

But it's not me!

Last night I finished the second pair of Socks of Doom for my next target. You remember that I was sent an unfinished portion of a foot started by Mamie using the toe up method. I agonized over how to proceed. What I decided to do was to put that portion aside and start knitting the second sock from the top down. My thinking was that if I was elminated before finishing, I could send the toe-up portion to my assassin to finish. But after finishing the first sock without receiving a package, I had to address the toe-up dilemma.

My favorite local yarn store, Molehill Farm, has a wonderful owner named Cheryl who knows how to knit anything. I took the unfinished sock to her store this week only to find out that she was sick and wouldn't be in. I looked up some tutorials on knitting from the toe-up that some of you generously provided links for, but couldn't figure out a way to merge this pattern with what was written. I thought I might be able to knit down to where the leg would join with the foot and graft the two pieces together. That was my plan until I attended the Tigard Knitting Guild meeting last night, where Nancy Bush was scheduled to speak. As fate would have it, she sat at my table, right next to me. She remembered me from last weekend's classes and I asked her opinion on the situation. She said due to the ribbing, grafting the two pieces together would be GRIM. She said if it was her, she would just knit a complete sock in the time it would take to figure out how to connect the two pieces.

How could I not listen to sock advice from Nancy Bush, I ask you? She of the Folk Socks and Knitting on the Road fame? So last night I finished knitting the entire second sock.Don't you just love those colors? These were hard to let go.

As an added bonus, since I had to knit a complete pair of socks from scratch, this gives me my October credit for Sock a Month 2. Can't beat that!

I am in no way disregarding Mamie's efforts in the Sock Wars. I appreciate every stitch that she put in to her unfinished sock. If I could have found any way to use that portion, you better believe that I would have, in a heartbeat. What I have done is to set her unfinished sock aside for a time when I can learn to knit socks from the toe up so her efforts will not be in vain.

I have emailed my new target to let her know that her socks of doom will be mailed today. I've asked her for any information that she might have on who my next target should be. At this point I don't know if I will be waiting for another pair of unfinished socks to complete, or exactly where I stand. Hopefully she can clear this up a bit for me.

So, exactly four weeks into the competition, I'm still alive and kicking. Hooray!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Favorites for SP9

Quickly I want to post this in time for SP9.

My favorites:

Actor: Keanu Reeves or Johnny Depp. It's all about the eye candy, all right?

Actress: Ashley Judd, Meryl Streep

Animal: Kitties, hands down.

Band: I'm really liking Los Lonely Boys right now.

Beverage: Ok, say it with me: Power size Peach Pleasure with extra peaches and no boost from Jamba Juice.

Book: I remember really enjoying reading the Prince of Tides from Pat Conroy, and not wanting it to end. The movie did this book a terrible disservice. I also very much enjoyed The Stand by Stephen King and The Mercy of Thin Air by Ronlyn Domingue.

Candy: Milk chocolate

Color: Any shade of purple, especially periwinkle and lavender. I also like blues and pinks and greens.

Flower: Gardenia is my most favorite, followed by jasmine and cream roses with salmon edges

Food: Italian. Especially toasted crostini bread with sun-dried tomatoes, slathered with fresh garlic and olive oil. Oy vey! Anything that has a ton of garlic is wonderful to me.

Lip Balm: Burt's Bees

Lotion: Mustela baby lotion from Babies R Us, or anything from Bath & Body Works

Movie: Tombstone. Val Kilmer was brilliant as Doc Holladay. So many quotable lines from this movie. "I'm your huckleberry...that's just my game."

Song: I love so many. "Get Here" by Oleta Adams was my wedding song, and I still get chills every time I hear the opening piano sequence.

TV show: Grey's Anatomy, Rescue Me.

Yarn: I'm a big sucker for cashmere blends like RYC Cashsoft, or Debbie Bliss Cashmerino. I'm also in love with sock yarns right now. Lorna's Laces, Koigu, Socks that Rock, Mountain Colors, Regia Crazy Colors, I love them all!

Vacation Spot: I've been yearning to go back to Victoria BC lately. It probably won't happen until next spring. Disneyland is always fun, and I love walking around San Francisco.

Answers And Another Question

My thanks to all who gave advice for the toe-up sock situation. I looked over the tutorials, and think that I will try that method someday. But for now I'm going to knit the second sock from the top down and graft it to the unfinished foot portion of the toe-up sock. I'll let you know how it goes.

Now for the answer to the question: How did Katrina come to be in the same room as a serial killer--repeatedly?

Let's take them one at a time:

A. Was the serial killer a distant relative of mine? Not this one. Hopefully no one else related to me is, either. Some of my in-laws might fit the bill, however...

B. Was he a patient at the dental office where I used to work? This was a popular answer, but no. We had some weird patients, that's for sure, but no serial killers that I know of.

C. Was my childhood babysitter's sister a victim of his? No, but she was murdered. It's a very sad story. It happened in the early 70's. My babysitter was going to go for a ride with her friend and her married boyfriend, but my babysitter didn't approve of the guy, so she didn't go. Her sister was suspicious of the guy and didn't want the friend to go with him alone, so she went along, and he shot them both. The murders didn't get solved right away, giving him time to attend both funerals. I was just a young child so I don't remember specifics, just scary feelings.

E. Did I attend high school with a serial killer? Probably, but not this one.

That leaves D. Was I a member of his jury? The answer is yes. The trial lasted for several months. Thankfully we weren't sequestered. But the details of this trial are not easily forgotten. After all this time, I still wake up from dreaming that I could somehow save the victims, by making sure this window was locked, that door securely deadbolted, and making sure this girl went somewhere else that night. Heavy stuff.

I will say one thing: the trial I served on was nothing like you see on TV or movies. There were definitely no Perry Mason moments, and there was A LOT of downtime.

So congratulations to Trek for being the first to answer correctly. Would you please email me (at katrina at hereintopeka dot com) with your snail mail address so I can send this nice yarn your way. I know you sent it to me once before, but that was months ago...

Nice try, Elspeth, but you didn't commit. Don't worry, you'll get another chance.

Are you ready for another question? Sadly, I don't have any more cotton angora. But I do have a stray skein of Debbie Bliss Cotton Cashmere in a blue-green color (also discontinued). Alas, that finishes my stash of extra yarn...Any future question would have to be rewarded with M&M's.

Since I mentioned high school in one of the options above, I thought I would ask a high-school related question. Here it is:

Katrina graduated from the same high school as this Olympic athlete (though not the same year). Was it:
A. Greg Louganis
B. Steve Prefontaine
C. Apollo Ono
D. Tonya Harding
E. Bruce Jenner

Be the first to answer this question correctly, with comments about the athlete you've chosen and why, and this cotton cashmere yarn is yours. Good luck to all.

Finally Blogger is cooperating enough for me to share a picture of the yarn that Mamie spun for me. Feast your eyes on this beauty:

It was so very thoughtful of Mamie to give this to me, especially considering I was the one who took her out of the Sock Wars. Thanks again, Mamie. I love it!

Speaking of the Sock Wars, tomorrow will mark 4 weeks that I've been going strong. I never would have predicted that. With any luck, I'll have the beauties I'm working on now ready to mail out this afternoon. If not, they'll go out first thing tomorrow morning. I'll be sure to show you pictures and let you know how the grafting went.

*My love to all*

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

So Much

Wow, I've had a lot going on with me since my last post on Friday the 13th. I received some great packages, took some wonderful classes, had a surprise inspection, umm, I mean spontaneous visit from my mother-in-law, and have been knitting, knitting, knitting!

First of all, I want to say a big thank you to my Knitters Tea Swap 2 pal, Laurie, who made me feel very spoiled. Here is a sampling of what she sent me:

The most adorable little tea set with a book all about tea (isn't it cute?)

Some very tasty chocolate Seville cookies, and omigosh my favorite peanuts in the whole wide world. This is a family program, so I will just let you read the name yourself. (I don't know why some of the pictures are sideways--they aren't that way in my file--please forgive). She also sent some tasty Chai tea with flavored honey sticks, and a bag of my all-time favorite tea, PG Tips. But that's not all.Be still, my heart. She said she had wanted to make me a tea cozy with Noro Kureyon but had run out of time, so she graciously sent the yarn and pattern instead. And finally, she included two skeins of Lorna's Laces in the Purple Iris colorway. What a great package. Thank you so much, Laurie! I love it all.

Now, what better way to celebrate Socktoberfest than to take a weekend of classes with the incomparable Nancy Bush?

Here we are posing with all the socks from her book Knitting Vintage Socks. If I look like I'm freezing, well, I was. The air conditioning worked in the empty building, but not the heat. Small price to pay to gain a weekend's worth of fabulous knitting tips, and to be in the presence of someone so enthusiastic about knitting. Nancy's style was calm and soothing--right up my alley. Chrissy and Amanda were also there, enjoying it right along with me.

As an added bonus, Nancy will also be doing a slideshow at the Tigard Knitting Guild meeting this Thursday. How did I get so lucky? Speaking of the Guild, I have volunteered to be co-editor of the newsletter this year with Chrissy. It should be a lot of fun.

I also received the socks that my Sock Wars target was working on for me to finish.(Again, absolutely no clue why the picture would show up sideways). But what you can see is the sock that Mamie started on the left, which is toe up. I've never knit a sock toe up, and don't know how. I will probably learn eventually, but I really don't mind, in fact I enjoy, grafting the toe of socks, so it's not really high on my list of things to learn to knit. My plan was to start the second sock (the one you see on the right) and finish that before dealing with the toe-up piece. That way if I was eliminated, I could send the toe-up piece for my assassin to deal with. But now I've almost finished my sock--I just have to do the toe grafting and it's done. This is where I would like to get some more experienced knitters' opinions about what I can do with the toe up piece. Is it possible to start another sock from the top down, get to the point where the toe-up piece fits, and do some sort of 3-needle bind off to connect them together? Or would that leave a funny seam? Or should I just stop whining and learn how to finish the sock toe up? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

By the way, aren't the colors of those socks just fantastic? I hate to give them away. The yarn is Regia Crazy Colors, #5404. I'll be keeping my eyes open for this yarn in the future.

Also, I have to say that I am still loving the International Sock of Doom pattern the second time around. I think it looks good and it's super fast and easy to do. I plan to make more socks with this pattern as gifts.

And along with the unfinished socks, Mamie also sent me the cutest little skein of variegated green/yellow wool yarn that she hand-spun for me. I love it, love it, love it. Thank you, Mamie! I would be thrilled to share a picture with you, but Blogger is saying I'd better be grateful that I was able to load the pictures that I do have on this post. I'll be sure to add it in a future post, because it's fabulous.

Finally, in response to the uproar I got over my entry in the 5 Spooky Weird things about me, specifically #5 (I have been in the same room with a known serial killer--repeatedly), I thought I'd do a little contest. Some of you already know how this occurred, but for those of you who don't, the first person to answer this question correctly will win a cream-colored 50g ball of Debbie Bliss Cotton Angora yarn (80% cotton, 20% angora). This yarn has been discontinued, so it's getting harder to find. But I digress.

Here is the question:

How did Katrina come to be in the same room with a known serial killer--repeatedly?
A. He is a distant relative of mine.
B. He was a patient at the dental office where I used to work.
C. My childhood babysitter's sister was one of his victims.
D. I was a juror at his trial.
E. I attended high school with him.

Obviously, for discretion's sake, I won't be mentioning his name or any other identifying details.

Good luck to one and all.

Oh, by the way, in your haste to be the first person to answer, please don't forget to give me some advice (if you have any) on how I should handle the toe-up sock. Thanks so much.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Happy Friday the 13th! And a meme--I hope you'll play!

Happy Friday the 13th! It's especially spooky since it's in October. I've run across a meme on some blogs, and decided to tweak it for mine. I think the original started out as 5 weird things about me or my pets. I've changed it to 5 spooky weird things about me. Won't you play along? I'd love to see all of your answers! Here are mine:

5 Spooky Weird Things About Me

1. I don't like water. To drink it or be touched by it. I hate the feeling of getting wet or being wet. (yes, I DO shower, but you won't find me frolicking in a swimming pool!) The destructive forces of water give me the creeps.

2. I believe in ghosts.

3. I'm pretty morbid. It is impossible to gross me out. Ask anyone in my family.

4. I love skeletons. They're always smiling.

5. I have been in the same room with a known serial killer--repeatedly.

You can keep it as 5 Weird things about me if you'd like. There's plenty of weirdness out there. So, tag! You're it!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sunday at the Rhododendron Garden

There's a beautiful garden here in Portland that the Count and I like to go to to take family pictures. Even though it was sprinkly all day yesterday, we ventured out and got some sweet pictures. The kids got to feed the ducks and squirrels, and the Count and I had fun with our cameras. You'll notice that you don't see any pictures of the two of us together (or any pictures of him at all for that matter, since blogger has decided to stop cooperating). We had to pass our cameras back and forth to get pictures of each other. The Count did have a tripod which he set up to get delayed pictures of the five of us together. But his camera isn't digital, so we'll have to wait for the film to be processed. My camera, however, is, so I get to share pictures with you immediately. Enjoy!Don't cry, Sproutie!Ahh, that's better.Think I'll play with Sissy's hair.Wonder what's over there?My three sweet babies.

In knitting news, somehow I'm still alive and kicking in the Sock Wars. I see that the person assigned to eliminate me has been taken out, and it's unclear whether her assassin has received unfinished socks to knit for me. Until I receive said socks in the mail, however, I remain alive. My target's unfinished socks for her target should be on their way to me from Texas. Until I receive those, I've been looking over a few patterns for my brother-in-law's socks, and have picked up my 2nd oldest UFO, which is the Winter Branches sweater that I hope to have done for my sister in time for Christmas. I was farther along on the first piece (the back) than I remembered, which was a nice surprise. I'll post progress pictures when blogger decides it wants to be my friend again.

My love to all.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Happy Birthday Girlie!

Happy 9th birthday to my sweet angel Girlie.You have brought nothing but joy to my life from the minute I realized that you were growing inside of me.

Did you know that your daddy and I thought we weren't going to be able to have children? We tried for a couple years, and had almost given up. We would try to satisfy ourselves with travel and being a great aunt and uncle, we consoled ourselves by saying.

But I always wanted to be a mom, and your daddy ached for a child of his own to hold.

The day I found out I was pregnant with you I felt like I was walking on air. I had to keep telling myself "I'm pregnant. I'm pregnant." You were such a wonderful gift and a blessing from the start.

My pregnancy with you was smooth and happy and joyous. I realize now that part of that was because of your sweet personality already making itself known to me and through me. In fact, the minute you were born I already missed you inside of me. I cried, wanting that closeness again. But you have always been there by my side. What would I do without you?

I thought I wanted you to be a boy. Silly me. What did I know?

Through you I've been able to experience a father's love for his daughter (something I never got to feel) by seeing how much your daddy loves you.I watch the two of you and just soak it in.You were our miracle baby. You were born weighing 8 pounds, 2 ounces, and never stopped growing. I was so proud of how big and healthy you were. I loved to show you off wherever I went. And you would coo and smile like a little angel.And you've always been so smart. And so eager to please. So curious about life, so loving, so giving.You fooled me into thinking that this child-raising business was a breeze. Then came your brothers after you. I've since been corrected.

And speaking of your brothers, oh how they adore you. They look up to you, and you are a great example for them.I love our talks over tea, our giggles and ticklings. I am cherishing every moment with you.

I am lucky to have you.

I can't believe how fortunate I am that I get to experience every aspect of your sweet existence. I look forward to growing with you, together and apart and together again, as life is. I will always be right beside you in everything you do.

I love you, my sweet angel."Beautiful baby from the outside in
Chase your dreams but always know the road
that will lead you home again.
Go on take on this whole world
But to me you know you'll always be
My little girl."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Thank you, Chocolate Swap Pal!

A big thank you to my Chocolate Swap pal Angela for this wonderful package:Inside was a sweet little pumpkin bag filled with Lindt chocolates, a chocolate bar and box of assorted chocolates from Purdy's (from Vancouver, BC, Canada, where Angela lives). Also in the package were two skeins of Nomotta Regia yarn in chocolate colors, which will make great socks, and the most wonderful bar of Vanilla Sugar shea butter soap. It smells heavenly. Thank you so much, Angela. I feel very spoiled. There's nothing better than getting chocolate and yarn in the same package!

*Note to self: when opening a package that is sure to contain chocolate, do it AWAY from the children. They had the box of assorted chocolates evaporated before I got little more than a taste! Silly little things.

I was able to finish the little knitting project over the weekend to include in Angela's chocolate package, but since I don't want to give away the surprise if she is reading this, everyone but Angela can click on the link on my sidebar under finished objects to see it. Don't worry, Angela, you'll see it soon enough when your package arrives! I hope you like it!

In knitting news, I've been taking it kind of slow and easy. I sent off three swap packages in the last week (Knitflix, Chocolate Swap, and the Knitters Tea Swap 2) and have been busy gathering goodies for my Sock-ret Pal. I'm also anxiously waiting to find out who my spoilee is in Secret Pal 9.

I've also been helping some knitters in my life to perfect their skills:That's my friend "Treasure" on the left (hi, Girlfriend!) and my sweet Girlie on the right. In the picture we were on our way to a cute little tea place. We've gone there two weekends in a row now. "Treasure" asked for my help to remember how to knit so she could make a scarf for her friend for Christmas. I happily showed her, and when she thanked me I told her that her asking me to help her knit would be like me asking her to help me eat chocolate. My pleasure.

Girlie is the other knitter that has been practicing her skills lately. She and her brothers are crazy over the book The World of Knitted Toys. They sit and look at it and talk about it for hours. Girlie has made a list of the 20 *cough* things she wants me to knit for her, in a specific order. How can I refuse that sweet face? But I would like her to stretch her knitting skills too, so I've decided to make the stuffed animals a project that we work on together. I do the more difficult aspects like the increasing or decreasing (for now) and she does the straight knit and purl. Yes, I said purl. I'm happy to report that my Girlie learned to purl this week! I couldn't be more proud! If my daughter loves to knit, then I will always have someone to knit with, don't you think? I hope so.

Here is a picture of our first joint project:This is the tail and the beginnings of a body for a red and black snake. Girlie is very specific about the colors she wants used in her projects. And this is where acrylic has its best use for me: it's cheap, the skeins are big, and it comes in practically any color that you'd want a stuffed animal to be. I just have to be careful when the stuffing part comes in that ZimDee doesn't get carried away again.

In Sock Wars news, I now have a confirmed hit. RIP Mamie. You were a worthy adversary.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Socktoberfest: Sharing Your Sock History

Socktoberfest has begun! My goal is to finish my Mystery Socks (I may be the last person in the group to do that!), finish Karen's Sugar-Free Diabetes Walk Socks,(link to both unfinished pairs here) and to START knitting a pair of socks for my brother-in-law for Christmas. It's been our "thing" for years now that I've always given him socks for Christmas. I think he told my sister once that he likes not having to worry about buying dress socks, because he knows he'll get new ones from me every year.

Now, mind you, my goal is to knit ONE pair for him this year, because I want to see how well they go over, and I have lots of Christmas knitting on my plate. Since I'm a little nervous about it, I thought that Socktoberfest would be the perfect springboard to get started.

I will be using a golden tan color of Koigu for Dan's socks. Here is a picture of the shade:

I still haven't found the perfect pattern I'd like to use. If all goes well, these will be socks he will wear to work as an executive in a business suit. So I can't make them too funky, but I also don't want them to be boring. Does anyone out there know of a great pattern that would work well in this situation? If you do, I'd be most grateful for any suggestions.

Now on to the Socktoberfest questions:

*When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?

I just started making socks in May of this year, when Amanda encouraged me to take the plunge with her Mock Croc sock knitalong. She told me to follow the directions exactly, no matter how funny they sounded, and I would do fine. And she was right! Thank you, Girlfriend, for getting me started on yet another knitting obsession!

*What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time?

Those Mock Croc socks were my first pair of socks, and I entered them in my county and state fairs and won 2nd place ribbons for them in both fairs. They've held up well because I haven't worn them yet. The weather hasn't gotten cold enough yet for me to surrender to sock season. Funny thing, they're still stuffed with tissue paper like they were when they were on display at the fair!

*What would you have done differently?

Not a thing! In fact, I am so craving to get my hands on some more of that Mountain Colors yarn that I used for that pair.

*What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?

See above. The Mountain Colors was a dream to work with for my first sock project. Since then, I've been using Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (very decadent) and I'm loving how the Rowan Wool Cotton is working up. I just used Plymouth Dreambaby DK for my International Socks of Doom, and it made a surprisingly soft and supple pair of socks (my 2nd finished pair).

*Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?

I haven't crocheted socks. My first pair was done on 5 wooden DPN's, and I've used the Magic Loop on the rest of the socks that I've worked on to date. I would love to learn how to knit socks on 2 circs, though I've been told that the Magic Loop will probably remain my favorite method.

*Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)

This early into my sock-making career, I'd have to say short-row heels, but I reserve the right to change my mind.

*How many pairs have you made?

Finished 2, Have 2 on the needles. Want to make many, many more.

P.S. Speaking of socks, I am still alive in the Sock Wars, having not received any socks of doom in the mail as of today.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Secret Pal 9 Questionnaire

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? I love cashmere/merino wool blends like RYC Cashsoft or Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. For socks I love Koigu or Lorna's Laces. I've been moving away from using fun fur.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? Plastic drawers

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? I learned to knit about 8 years ago at a class with my sister, but got obsessed with it about 3 years ago. I would say I am intermediate.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? Yes, the link is on my sidebar

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.) Pink grapefruit by far, followed by gardenia, jasmine, verbena, and vanilla

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? Chocolate. And I'm addicted to Jamba Juice.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin? I love to do beadwork too. I don't spin.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) Yes. I love 80's music and Elvis.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand? I love Purple! And anything in the purple family like periwinkle, lavender, etc., followed by pinks, blues, greens and white. I'm not a huge fan of oranges or browns.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? I'm married with three children (daughter 8, son 4, son 1). No pets.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? all of the above

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? baby blankets, baby sweaters, and I've been on a huge sock kick lately

13. What are you knitting right now? a few sweaters, two pairs of socks, and some stuffed animals for my kids

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? absolutely!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? I like both straight and circular needles (depends on the project.) My favorite needles are metal, like addi's, knit picks options, inox, or susan bates

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? yes to both

17. How old is your oldest UFO? I've been working on two sweaters off and on for about 6 months

18. What is your favorite holiday? I love them all.

19. Is there anything that you collect? tea cups and saucers, knitting gadgets

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? I subscribe to Interweave Knits, Vogue Knitting, and Cast On magazines. Someday I'm going to have to get my hands on some Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb yarn. I love any and all knitting gadgets.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? Yes! I'd love to learn how to make socks on two circulars. And I've always wanted to master intarsia.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? Yes, I've caught the sock-knitting bug in a big bad way. I wear a size US 5 shoe.

23. When is your birthday? (mm/dd) March 26.