Monday, October 22, 2007


Yes! I've finished the Waterfall Socks! Here they are in as much of their glory as I could capture while watching three overtired 3-1/2-year-olds play trains/fight over trains on the back deck in the late afternoon of this beautiful, mid-70's-degree day:

I think I'm going to start my Halloween sock kit from Woolgirl (see it here). Fat chance I'll finish it before Halloween, though.

I've had a major breakthrough in my sock knitting this weekend. My primary trouble (other than the pattern glitches that pop up periodically, or that 'failure to read the pattern closely' problem) is I can never get the foot length right on the first, or second, or often the third try. So I spend a lot of time ripping out and re-knitting the toe until it works. This happens despite my frequent trying-on of the sock and my foot measurements taken a zillion times during the course of knitting each first sock (of course, it's figured out by the time I get to the second sock). I believe I have found a cure for this problem.

At Stitches East, I bought a Lucy Neatby sock-knitting DVD from Shelridge Farm. I'd been having trouble with a sock I was knitting from her Cool Socks Warm Feet book, so I bought the video. I watched it this past weekend with Mom, who's tackling baby socks, and was half-listening to Lucy Neatby talk about foot measurements when she said to make the sock about a 1/2 inch shorter than the length of the foot. What?! That's my problem? Never even occurred to me. If it's mentioned in her book, I missed it (again, that "not reading closely" problem). All the sock patterns I recall instruct the knitter to knit (generally) to 1-1/2 inches less than the desired length to start the toe. I didn't know the desired length was less than the length of my foot. Is that intuitive? Anyway, I know what to do for the next sock.

All in all, it's been a quiet day. The boys were in school from 9a-3p, the baby was in school from 9:15a-11:15a. I had a quick trip to the dentist, a 1/2-hour nap, took the baby to pick up the boys from school, played in the little playground and had a low key afternoon. Things picked up at bedtime. First, I got to call to Poison Control: while I was brushing Baby Girl's teeth, Boy J climbed on the toilet behind me, grabbed the (fluoride-free) toddler toothpaste, and began sucking on/licking the tube (which was nearly empty, but still). The stuff is safe to swallow, but I wanted to be sure. He's ok; Poison Control said it may make him nauseous (which is probably not a bad thing). And then, after I put them to bed and started cooking dinner, the boys all began screaming that I had to come up because their pajamas "came off." Came off? Like a Harry Potter spell: a swish and a flick pj's? Well, after helping them put the pj's on and showing them the "baby" pajamas they'll wear the next time they strip (goodness knows if they'll fit--they're last year's one piece, zipper pj's that I used to put on backwards so they couldn't unzip them), they seemed suitably chastened and went right to sleep. Of course, that meant no dinner until 9p for me, so now I"m going to finish up, download a few podcasts, and go upstairs and knit. Maybe cast on something new? Oh, didn't I do that last week?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Stitches Photo Op

Remember how I mentioned that if you saw four women dressed alike with the same bags, you saw us? Well, we were spotted by the women at Modern Yarn wearing their t-shirts (for the second year in a row, and we did not even discuss our outfits in advance), and they snapped a picture. If you're interested in checking out our family of knitters, click here and scroll down to the second photo. I'm on the left and Mom is second from right; the other two women are my sisters (Stephanie on the far right, and Elizabeth second from left between Mom and me). Do we look like we're having as good a time as we were?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Here's the tally

I've been meaning to post, but things got kind of crazy. The stats for the time period beginning Sunday, October 14, 12:30 p.m. to Tuesday, October 16, 12:30 a.m. (2.5 days) are as follows:

Number of spouses/parents (father) away on business: 1

Fevers (children): 3

Visits to pediatrician (in 24 hours): 3

Number of children who visited pediatrician (in 24 hours): 4

Number of children who made repeat visits to pediatrician in 24 hours: 1

Number of calls to on-call pediatrician (in 24 hours): 1

Infections/possible strep requiring antibiotics (children): 2

Child fingers shut in screen door requiring pediatrician visit: 1

Likely hernia (child): 1

Gas leak: 1

Number of children woken up at 10:30 p.m. on Tuesday night and evacuated from house due to gas leak: 4

Number of children who thought waking up at 10:30 p.m. and sitting in car with Mom, Grandma & Grandpa for 45 minutes was a good adventure: 4

Number of children who did not want to go back into house and bed at 11:30 p.m.: 4

Number of children who wanted to go to Grandma's at 11:30 p.m.: 1

Number of children who wanted to go for a ride "somewhere" at 11:30 p.m.: 1

Number of children who needed entire pre-bed catalog of books re-read in exact order and then screamed for 20 minutes after being put to bed: 1

Number of children who were awake at midnight: 4

Number of parents (me) up past 1 a.m. sniffing for gas: 1

Number of finished objects: 2 (!)

Number of new projects cast on: 2

In fairness, the gas leak was late Tuesday evening (actually ongoing from the afternoon and we thought the faint odor was, as per repairman, due to his running of the gas during installation of a new part in the oven, and he said he checked for leaks and found none), and I finished the Morehouse Huckleberry Sweater and the SeeJayneKnitYarns Frankenstein Hat before then. Of course, no pictures yet: the sweater is waiting its turn on Mom's blocking board, and I have to weave in hat ends.

The Lobster Claws are still in progress. Something's funky with the length of the fingers, and I get frustrated and put it aside. I'd like to finish them in the next week.

About those projects cast on:

(1) a doll from Toys to Knit by Tracy Chapman. After I bought the book at Stitches, my mom said she had read reviews that warned of errors in the patterns in the book. The patterns don't even have a gauge (!) and give the amount of yarn needed in weight, but I don't really care: it's a doll, I can fudge it. So I'm knitting it in pretty pink Koigu and bought golden brown yarn for the hair. We'll see how it goes, I'm totally not concerned and it's mindless knitting. I've already knit the front and back of the head and am now knitting the legs.

(2) Blue Sky Alpacas' Cropped Cardigan, which I'm knitting in a gorgeous purple Misti Alpaca yarn which I bought at Stitches from Rosie's Yarn Cellar. (We LOVE Rosie's!) I had trouble getting gauge, but I think I just had to figure out how to work with the yarn. It's soooo soft!

Oh, and the kids...they're apparently feeling better: antibiotics kicking in, finger is fine, surgical consults scheduled, but no other complaints (from them). However, they're running me ragged: whoever coined "the terrible twos" clearly hadn't hit the threes yet. Oh my!

And my mother's trying to talk me into going to Rhinebeck. Ack!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Stitches East, Here We Come! And There We Go!

I'm just back from a whirlwind trip to Baltimore for Stitches East. This year, the whole family (I mean the knitters, not the children) made it. If you were there on Friday and saw four women in knitting t-shirts and North Face fleece jackets carrying the same pocketbook, you saw us--Mom, my two sisters and me!

There was definitely good shopping--I'm too embarrassed to post pictures of all that I bought. Suffice it to say, we filled up the car (as usual) and had a great time. I bought yarn to make sweaters (!) for me. And sock yarn, of course. And sucked my two sisters into buying sock yarn and starting socks (that's you, E!) or a Chevron Scarf (I can't imagine SLM will go for socks, but she did ask about the Socks That Rock Club). I mean, who can resist Socks That Rock or Lisa Souza for that matter.

One of the neatest things was meeting people who I've read about, and/or lurked on their blogs/shops (Lisa Souza) and/or listened to their podcasts (Wendy). Everyone was so lovely. Lisa Souza was warm and gracious, and gave E good advice on where to start with socks (i.e., don't start with the patterned ones). I had a lot of laughs with Wendy (you stayed at the Norman Bates Hotel at Rhinebeck last year? We stayed at the Shining on our girls trip to France!) I found the Interlacements booth--I have been eyeing the sock yarn for the past year at various sites--and met Judy who dyes the yarn and who was just lovely and friendly. Of course, I bought gorgeous, vibrant yarns. (Maybe I'll have to post yarn bit by bit).

I have lots of good projects to start, but way too many on the needles, so I told myself I had to finish one before casting on something new. So today, I broke out the Morehouse Farm Huckleberry sweater which needs a second sleeve and I'll definitely finish it today.

I brought the Lobster Claws fingerless mitts with me to finish on the trip. After consulting with my knitting committee, I'm going to work the k1p1 row that makes me look like I have bulging knuckles and then roll down the bound-off edge and stitch it down so it looks rolled. I just got so fed up Thursday night doing different variations that I didn't have the patience to come back to it. Maybe tonight after finishing the Huckleberry sweater.

The only down part was that I had a flare-up of my GI issues on Saturday; hopefully, it's just a blip. And getting lost on the way out of Philadelphia and hitting more traffic on the way home, but that 's for another post. Oh, and at lunchtime today, two boys started running low-grade fevers. Well, if they're too ill to go out, that means more knitting time for me, right? (I am ever hopeful).

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Taking the plunge

I think I mentioned I signed up for the Fingerless Mitts for Fall knitalong. Of course, I hadn't picked up either pair of unfinished mitts from last year until last night. I had wanted to finish my Woolgirl Waterfall sock before taking on (or reviving) another project.

Well, last night, I "finished" my first Woolgirl Waterfall sock. By "finished" I mean finished the toe but for the grafting, tried it on, found it to be 2-4 rows too long, and promptly ripped out the toe. At that point, being after 10 p.m., I wasn't really in the mood for knitting, trying on and reknitting the toe the usual 3 or so times it takes me to get it right (despite having my foot measurements and measuring the sock for accuracy), so I decided to pick up the Mac & Me Lobster Claws fingerless gloves. In short, as I discussed here, I knit the left mitt wrong and have to rip it all out. I almost have the nerve to do it, now that I've started the right (as in "right hand" and "correct") mitt. It's a fast knit, so I'm not so nerved up about it. Here are some photos.

First, the left and wrong mitt (the pattern says to knit the first six rows and then join to knit in the round, while I knit it all in the round, which makes it difficult to knit the ruffle, which is also knit flat):

Next, the right and right mitt (notice the split at the base of the mitt, which is where the ruffle and button closure will be):

That's another one of my yummy project bags from Piddleloop.

Oh, and for added fun, the pattern calls for knitting the hand on US 4 (4.0 mm) long dpns and the fingers on the same size short dpns (while keeping the hand on the long dpns). It actually is fun except when one discovers at 11 p.m. that one's long dpns are US 4 (4.25 mm) and the short dpns are US 4 (4.0 mm), even though I apparently never noticed that when I knit the first mitt. And after swatching, I get gauge on the 4.25 mm and am a little short on the 4.0 mm. So I decided I'll just knit the fingers a little looser. But from now on, I'm definitely going by metric measurements for needles (I'm already sensitive to the issue with socks, so it's not a big deal).

By the way, the Lobster Pot cashmere is a dream to knit with!

And on a completely different topic, the boys have given up their nap, Boy M runs hot in temper, temperament and temperature (the boy was beet red and sweaty in our unseasonable heat, never mind the angry and demanding attitude), and all three are deciding to test their independence and explore oppositional behavior. You know, things like Boy M angrily shouting "Mom!" each time he wants my attention and stamping his foot to punctuate it; Boy E biting his brothers if he does not like what's going on; and Boy J crying when his brothers get disciplined for something like biting or kicking, or willful disobedience, and while doing so, trying to convince me that the egregious behavior did not occur (although when offered the option to stay home with Boy M who could not run an errand with us as the consequence of naughtiness, he quickly stopped crying and arguing--a lawyer in the making, that one, guess it's in the blood). I'm exhausted, but relieved I can escape into my knitting!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Club junkie

I admit it: I have a problem. I love knitting. I love yarn. I love accessories, especially bags (just ask Jen over at Piddleloop). I looove sock clubs. I belong to several (I'm not up to admitting how many).

It began last fall shortly before Stitches East. I was coming off of a nearly three-year knitting hiatus (two pregnancies, 4 children--triplets and a singleton 17 months apart), and, among other health issues, I had a kitchen accident in early October and lost part of my left ring finger. I was traumatized, anxious, stressed out, and my mother took me on a yarn crawl to Montclair, NJ, where we visited Stix-n-Stitches and Modern Yarn. The point of the yarn crawl was to get me out of the house. But then Mom bought me a project--a felted tote--that was knit on big needles (US 11? 13?) which we both thought was manageable despite the finger issue. The point of the project being, of course, to distract me and help me relax. Of course, it did and it reminded me how much I missed knitting and how much I enjoyed it.

We decided to go to Stitches East basically at the last minute, maybe a day or two before it began. Not the easiest trick, considering I had to get child care coverage and all hotels were booked, except for one that was one block away (where we're staying this year, too). It was fabulous. I loved the market and marveled at the changes (I think our first Stitches East was 1996 or so). I bought that Rosie's Poptop Mittens, figuring I'd need them because my finger would be very sensitive to cold, which it still is. I also got a yen to knit socks, which I hadn't done in about 8 years. I thought: only one skein of yarn, lots of different things (cuff, heel, gusset, instep, toe) to switch it up and keep it interesting. I saw the Blue Moon Fiber Arts booth (I knew nothing of the passion for Socks That Rock because I wasn't yet aware of the online knitting explosion and knit blogging). I wasn't concerned about small needles--I figured that by the time the yarn arrived in January/February, the finger would be well enough to manage smaller needles, or at least, I wouldn't be wearing a ridiculously large bandage, soaking it in diluted Betadine several times a day, visiting the plastic surgeon every week, etc. So I signed up. And got a gorgeous package every other month, and have yet to knit a sock. But I'm still hooked.

Fast forward to now. I'm a member of the Woolgirl Sock Club; I've posted about the Waterfall socks. In fact, it's the first sock club sock I've started. Here's my progress on the first sock:

(Goodness, those are pretty unappealing pictures, aren't they. I better get to taking pictures outside in natural light soon).

I think the ribbing on the cuff is too loose, and will probably knit the ribbing on smaller needles on the second sock. But that's totally not worth ripping out the sock.

But back to sock clubs. Jennifer at Woolgirl also offered a Halloween Sock Kit: yarn, pattern, sock project bag, goodies. It had "me" written all over it! Except I was too late to sign up. I accept my fate in these situations--I've spent the last year making up for three years of no stash enhancement--and assume it was not meant to be. But then I received an email: there were two more openings, I was at the top of the wait list, and was I still interested? Of course! And look what came today:

The kit is called "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." The yarn is White Oak Studio tv yarn, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." The sock bag has Lucy dressed as a witch. There is a teeny tiny adorable pumpkin stitch marker that's too small to be captured in any detail by my camera with my inadequate skills. The orange pumpkin bag is one of those goody bags we used to put together for trick-or-treaters when I was little and is filled with lots of good candy. The pattern is awesome, too--the orange contrast yarn is for the toe! And everything was beautifully wrapped in orange tissue and tied with purple ribbon. What a fabulous treat! Now I definitely have to finish the Waterfall socks so I can justify casting on these socks!