Sunday, March 25, 2007

That's Not Flying; That's Falling...With Style

It's official: I'm out after round two of the Sock Wars. Not for lack of trying, either. I followed my dear friend Mamma's advice and turned my visiting family into my own imported personal cheering section. I was doing so well. Remember how I was just saying in my last post how second socks seem to go so easy for me? I think I was setting myself up to fall on my own sword.

I finished knitting the first sock (except for kitchenering the toe) late into Friday night. I woke up bright and early on Saturday and started right in on the second sock. Smooth sailing, or so I thought.

I must have knit the 2-inch ribbing over a dozen times, and it never behaved right or looked right. If I wasn't so in love with the yummy yarn I'd have pushed forward, but the Claudia's Red Wagon just pleaded for perfection. Finally at midnight on Saturday night, after knitting and frogging the cuff all day, I compared my work to the first sock and realized that I had left something out. Something major. Like a knit row in between each ribbing row. Aaaaaaaaaaaah!

So at midnight I cast on, to work the sock correctly this time. And I knit for four continuous hours, until I literally couldn't see straight anymore. My opponent still hadn't posted her finished socks, but in the interest of, I don't know, staying healthy, I had to retire for the night (or early morning).

When I rose at 8 am on Sunday morning, I checked for my opponent's status to see if she had finished. She hadn't posted anything, so I continued on the sock for another hour. When I checked back in after that hour, her finished socks were on the list. Finally.

Here is a picture of how far I got in the making of my socks:I have mixed feelings about being out of the tournament. The fierce competitor in me is disappointed that I couldn't advance further in the competition. The realist in me knows that I really am a slow, contemplative, meditative knitter and would likely lose a speed knitting contest to a 4-year-old. A 4-year-old monkey. Really. My common sense tells me that even if I advanced beyond this round, my days would have been numbered in any of the future rounds. But I liked the idea of being a dark horse. Letting my money ride on a dark horse has paid off more than once in my life.

The wife and mother and sleepy person in me is a little bit relieved to be put out of my misery. I fought a good clean fight, with style, and I'm happy with the effort I put into it. And really, that's all that matters, isn't it? Besides all the free sock patterns I'll still have access to as a participant in the tournament.

I really hope they make sock madness a regular occurring event. Even though my run was short, I really had fun. The best part? Once again driving my friends and family crazy jabbering on and on about the competition. I love doing that.

And now that the competition is over, I can unravel some stitches and make these beautiful socks fit ME. Yes, Me.

Only after I finish my Sockret Pal's socks and a few other projects I've got going on...

Friday, March 23, 2007

Sock Madness

I was able to start on my round two socks for Sock Madness:I'm absolutely loving the Claudia's handpainted sport yarn. And the colorway (Red Wagon) is fabulous.

We are required to post progress pictures of our socks, so here is mine. The pattern is fun. Wish me luck as I try my best to stay in the competition.

Must. Sleep. Now.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Socks, Socks, and More Socks

I received my match today for the Sock Hop Sock Swap 2007.This is the kind of swap where you pick out the pattern and knit the first sock for your pal, and send those along with the yarn to finish the second sock; and of course some goodies. This is a relatively small swap, with only about 13 participants. Swaps like these are a good way to avoid second sock syndrome.

Fortunately, I'm one of the few who doesn't really suffer from second sock syndrome. For some reason, I really like to knit a pattern more than once. And for me, the second sock seems to fly off of my needles, since I'm already familiar with the pattern by then. I have certain patterns in my notebook that I refer to again and again when I'm looking to knit a gift for someone. Those are my classics.

I haven't designed anything by myself yet, and before now never really felt the need. But I'm starting to get a feel for how certain stitches come together in certain ways, and I'm not ruling out knitting something of my own design in the future.

I've also joined the Favorite Socks Knitalong.I just bought the book as an early birthday present to me (I'm so bad that way), and there are definitely a few patterns that I'd like to knit this year. Specifically, the Austrian Socks by Candace Eisner Strick and Meida's Socks by Nancy Bush. Most of the patterns in this book are not new, having appeared in earlier issues of Interweave Knits magazine. But the publishers have included six new patterns to keep you interested. And since I didn't start subscribing to Interweave until a year ago, it's nice for me to have all the patterns together.

I'm happily working on some secret socks for my Sockret Pal. Since she already knows my identity, I can't post a picture yet until I send them, but rest assured they are lovely.

My Secret Pal 10 hostess, Shelby, is putting on a contest. Since the prize involves Socks that Rock yarn as the prize, count me in! The first part of the contest is to make sure that the link to your SP10 questionnaire is clearly visible on your blog. Check. (On my sidebar). In the second part, she wants to see what we're working on right now. Since I can't show you my Sockret pal socks, I will show you another pair that I'm working on at the same time. In fact, these socks were supposed to be for my Sockret pal, but, well, I didn't swatch. So sue me. I believe in turning lemons into lemonade, however, so the socks that were supposed to be adult size 8 fit my 4-year-old son. Ta da:My kids have been asking me to knit them socks for a while now, so I don't mind this turn of events at all.I just love the look of his little feet and skin with the sock. Notice how he likes to pretend he is knitting any chance he gets.I'm also well into the second sock for my Sockret pal, so no worries there.

Yarn I'm using: Ruby Sapphire Sapphire Superwash yarn (75% superwash wool, 25% nylon) in the Gemma colorway.
I have to say I love this little mother/daughter shop. They are super friendly, they answer questions quickly, and they ship fast. And their colorways are out of this world.

Pattern: Molly Pitcher socks by Kimberly at Woven N Spun. Pattern to be made available soon.

Finally, it's T minus about 12 hours for the next round of Sock Madness. Your little warrior girl will do her best under the circumstances.

And in less than 36 hours the first of my family will be arriving for a week. I've been busily preparing my house for the visit, and really like the changes I've made. I did massive spring cleaning over the weekend, and it felt very healing to be out with the old, in with the new; both to my house and to me personally.

I love it when that happens.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sock Madness, Round Two

The hostesses of Sock Madness announced today that Round 2 will begin sometime this Thursday afternoon. This does not bode well for me, since I will have family coming beginning Friday afternoon and staying through the following weekend. I will give it my best effort, but it doesn't look good, my pretties.

I have my yarn and needles ready for the pattern to be released, and will give it my all while I can. Timing plays a big part in this competition, and sometimes it goes your way, and sometimes it doesn't.

But just feast your eyes on the lovely yarn I will be working with: It's Claudia's handpainted sport in Red Wagon. I've heard such good things about this yarn, I wanted to try it out for myself. If I have to go down, I will go down in style.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Cookie A.'s Website is Up!

You know Cookie A. of Pomatomus fame? Or Monkey, or Baudelaire, or Hedera? This girl designs some seriously wicked socks. She took a bunch of her patterns to Stitches West this year and sold them at her booth. Those not able to make it to Stitches (me included) wondered if there were any other way to buy these patterns. Knitters asked, and Cookie A. responded!

She has created a website with which she is selling downloads of her patterns. One warning: only go there if you feel like being seriously tempted to buy them all!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Sock Madness, Round One

Sock Madness officially began at 3:45 am on Saturday with the release of the first pattern. It was a fairly simple sock, using both solid and variegated yarns in a striping pattern. I didn't quite achieve color changes without jogs at the joins, but the socks are finished:Pattern: Mad Cow socks, available to Sock Madness participants
Yarns: Dalegarn Baby Ull (solid navy blue)
Perchance to Knit superwash Kona Merino in the Cha Cha colorway (variegated)
Needles: size 1 circulars, using the magic loop method
Notes: I've already heard this mentioned a few times, and I have to agree that if I wanted striped socks, I would just buy self-striping yarn and not go through the hassle and fiddliness of jogs and joins. Though this pattern may be a good way to use up the odd skein or less of sock yarn.

In Sock Madness, to even the playing field, socks must be knit the size of an average woman's foot (7-9) or larger. The rules of the competition state that the socks must be modelled on adult feet and a picture submitted to the Flickr group. Since these socks were for the Count, he gladly modelled them for me. Now, many's the time I've almost choked on my morning tea while doing some blog reading and a man's hairy leg unexpectedly pops out from the text, so I'll spare you that here. But if you are truly interested (and the Count does have nice legs, I'll admit), the Flickr link is here.

To advance beyond round one of the competition, you need to be one of the first 16 people out of your group of 32 to email and post a picture of your completed socks. I'm pretty sure I've made that goal. Now I'm going to rest and recoup so I can be ready for round two, starting in roughly two weeks. For the rest of the tournament, knitters will be pit against each other one on one. I'm not sure how far I'll be able to advance, but I do feel pretty darn good about making it past round one.

Another great thing about these socks? They are exactly the current (Feb/March) Project Spectrum colors of blue, white, and grey.

How cool is that?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Saga of ZimDee's Teeth

Once upon a time, there was a boy called ZimDee who had the most beautiful smile this side of creation.His Mommy and Daddy thought it would be fun to take ZimDee to Mount Rushmore to git some American histery lernin and kulcher and stuff like that there. In the summer of 2005 they piled everybody up in a rented RV and took off for sights unknown.

When they arrived at the magical place of Mount Rushmore, they learned that it was carved out of granite. Everything around them was made of granite, including, unfortunately, the walkway leading to the monument.

ZimDee and his beloved big sister Girlie thought it would be fun to chase each other around this granite walkway. Can you see, dear reader, what is coming next? Yes, indeed, little ZimDee took a tumble and went boom.

This next picture is very painful for me to show you, because I had gone to ZimDee when he fell down and checked his little knees and elbows for scrapes. He looked fine. He wasn't crying; in fact he was very quiet. So Daddy said let's pose for a picture in front of the presidential monument.Daddy snapped a picture, then zoomed in for a close-up. Then he said, "Katrina, I think something's wrong with ZimDee's mouth." I bent down to check, and all his teeth were there, but when I looked further, I found that his two front teeth had split in half vertically. (Hey, I know it's cringe-inducing, but I have to tell the story, and if 3-year-old ZimDee could handle it, surely you can keep it together too).

I scooped him up and ran to the nearest park ranger and asked him if they had any emergency services available. They did not. The ranger recommended that we take ZimDee back down the mountain to an urgent care facility. We quickly loaded everyone up for the 20 minute drive down to Rapid City. As a former dental assistant, I knew that urgent care would just refer us to a dentist anyway, so during the drive, with ZimDee's head on my lap (wer'e in an RV, remember?) I called 411 on my cell phone for the closest dentist to us. It was nearing 5:00 pm, but somehow I got referred to a wonderful pediatric dental office who was willing to stay open and wait for us. When we arrived at the office, x-rays were taken, and it was determined that the right front tooth would need to be extracted immediately, but they would try to save the left front tooth. (I'm trying to speak in layman's terms here--those are teeth E & F to me). Thankfully, the x-rays showed no discernable damage to his permanent teeth.

When they pulled my baby's beautiful tooth out of his mouth, it was me that was crying. ZimDee never even let out a peep. Here is a picture of him post-extraction, with his sense of humor still intact.We then made our way to our final destination, where ZimDee's older cousins pronounced him "cool" and "tough-looking" and made him laugh some more. God bless them for that.

Eventually ZimDee learned to live and thrive without that front tooth. The permanent ones are not scheduled to erupt until he's 6 or 7 years old. That didn't bother him. He never once complained about his teeth, even when the remaining front tooth started to turn purple, as the dentist warned us it might.

Then one day, not so long ago, ZimDee and his beloved sister Girlie were--you guessed it--chasing each other around the house when that remaining tooth got knocked loose. I kissed him and comforted him and figured I would let the tooth come out on its own time. When I meant on its own time, I figured it would happen here at home. I was wrong.

I took ZimDee to preschool on what seemed an ordinary day last week. When I picked him up, I had just enough time to load him in the van and scurry home to meet Sissy's school bus. (Isn't scurry a fun word? I don't think it's used often enough. But I digress...) ZimDee's teacher said something to me about thinking that his mouth might be bothering him, and I shouted a thank-you over my shoulder and told her I would check it when I got home. I asked Zim about it during the ride, and he said he felt fine.

Upon arriving home, I sat ZimDee down to get a closer look. Here is what I saw:It didn't register with me immediately, because I was used to seeing a gap in his smile, but his tooth was gone! I called his teacher and told her his tooth was missing; did she know that? She said no. I asked her to please look for the tooth. She called me right back and said she found the tooth over by where ZimDee had been playing, and she would keep it for me.

When I asked ZimDee what happened to his tooth, he was quite helpful--NOT. What he said was that the monster took it and and put it in his pocket. Umm Hmmm.

So the tooth has been collected and the tooth fairy consulted and ZimDee is once again symmetrical.

And they lived happily ever after. THE END

p.s. And I bet you thought this was a knitting blog!

p.p.s. Yes, those are Farmer John bib overalls I'm wearing in the Mount Rushmore picture. I was on vay-kay-shun. In an RV. With three small children. Don't you judge me!

My love to all.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Thank you, Jennifer!

Jennifer held an Oscar contest on her blog last week, and I won! Here is a picture of the awesome prize she sent: Inside a purple bag (my favorite color!) I found some wonderful yarn that Jennifer hand-spun herself. It's destined to become The Harlot's One Row Handspun Scarf or My So-Called Scarf. I haven't decided yet.

Here is a picture of my Girlie showing off the stickers that Jennifer so thoughtfully added for my babies:All three of my kids had a great time creating works of art with their own stickers.

And here is a close-up of the pendant:It's part of a Chinese New Year tradition called lai see, where givers fold crispy dollar bills and put them in red envelopes and give them away for good luck. The Count's family participates in this too, so I was very excited to see the pendant.

Thank you, Jennifer, for such a wonderful package!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Secret Socks!

Test knitting makes for sparse blog fodder, because if I can't talk about my knitting, what do I tell you all, my pretties?

As I was knitting yet another pair of secret socks that I can't tell you about, my trusty Knit Picks size 0 classic circular needles, which have hardly had a moment's rest since October and have seen me through many, many secret knitting projects, finally gave up the ghost last night. Their little body just couldn't hold out from the constant use and the needle separated from the cable. A moment of silence for my little soldiers, if you please.

At $4.99 a pop, I think the valiant little needles more than paid for themselves. If it had been a pair of Addi's at 3-4x the price, I would have been kinda mad. I put the socks on four double points and continued on with the socks, and determined that I would order another pair of circulars on Knit Picks today.

So this morning I sat down with my cup of tea at my computer and pulled up the Knit Picks website. Of course I have to browse the new sock patterns. And lookee, lookee what I found: the Straight Laced socks I test knit for them! Squee! I was NOT expecting that!

So now that they've officially been published, I can share specifics:Pattern:Straight Laced Socks from the book Knit Socks! by Betsy McCarthy (whom I met in person when she spoke at the Tigard Knitting Guild).

Yarn:Knit Picks Swish Superwash in Wisteria and Ballerina (5-6 balls total) and Knit Picks Butterfly Kisses in Plum and Rose (1 ball total).

Needles: Size 4 Knit Picks Options circulars, using the Magic Loop method

Variations: None, as this was an assigned project.

Observations: These socks were a very quick knit, due to the easy lace pattern and worsted weight yarn. Like a lot of knitters, I've been moving away from using Fun Fur (or Butterfly Kisses in this case) due to lack of stitch definition, but let me tell you, the non-knitters who saw the fur cuff fell in love with it. Go figure. Knitting this sock may be a good way to use up the bits of fun fur left in your stash, or I could easily see knitting the sock without the fur cuff, as the lace pattern is a pretty one all by itself.

The worsted weight Knit Picks Swish yarn was great to work with to knit these socks. I have to say that I love the colors this yarn comes in. The Ballerina was a perfect soft pink, and the Wisteria a nice shade of my favorite color, purple.

This was the first sock book that I bought (from the author herself), and for a beginner, the perfect one. Betsy lays out the patterns in a very logical manner, and there are a lot of great patterns in the book. This is the one book I still pull off the shelf whenever I'm ready to kitchener the toes of my socks, as she diagrams and explains the method so well.

What a happy surprise to wake up to today.

Saturday, March 03, 2007


I just heard this from my Sockret Pal, Laura:

"We are all safe and well. I will write more when I can. We are still without power, phone, cable, internet. I am using a friends right now. We were so lucky. God is good!!"

Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers for her family.


My Sockret Pal spoilee, Laura, lives in Enterprise, Alabama and her daughter attends the high school there. Please keep her and her family in your thoughts and prayers.