Saturday, August 30, 2008

No More Traveling

However many pairs of socks I have on the needles, one is always designated as "the traveling sock." This is the one that goes on the boat with me when I head overtown (to the mainland). It also gets some knitting time while I wait at the laundromat for the washer and dryer to do their thing. Generally the traveling sock is a super simple pattern on small needles. It's supposed to take a long time to finish. And it does.

I started the GreenApple Socks in February. Six months – not so bad. Here is their formal portrait.

Here's a closeup of the stitch pattern. It's a simple four-row, four-stitch twist that pops up in every stitch dictionary I've ever seen. First you do two two-stitch twists, then a plain round, then twist just the two middle stitches, a final plain round – and that's it. The yarn is Austermann Step. I've knit with it once before but those socks were gifted. This will be my first opportunity to wear socks knit with Step. If it's as soft on the feet as it is on the hands while knitting, it should be a delight.

Since the pattern used 60 stitches, I did my favorite six-gore toe. It's the same idea as a round toe. Handy if you don't have the right number of stitches to divide into eight sections -- you just divide into six. And the same KBH (acronym for a portion of the feline anatomy) ending; no Kitchener stitch. Not that I mind Kitchener, but sometimes I get bored with it. It's nice to zip the yarn through those final few stitches and be done.

Now, of course, there is a new traveling sock, and with an even simpler pattern. "Slipped Stitch Rib" has only two rows. K3, P3 alternates with K1,SL1,K1,P1,SL1,P1. I've used this pattern before to blur the edges of some red Fake Isle yarn. As a beginning sock knitter I loved Fake Isle. No longer. But I love the browns in this skein and it is the very last Fake Isle in my stash. It will have a lot of trips in the laundry cart and on the boat, and some 6-12 months from now, I'll have a nice pair of brown-tone socks.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

More Food Books

Many thanks to BeverlyAnne for suggesting I read Ruth Ozeki's "My Year of Meats." It's one of the best fiction books I've read in a while. While the plot does deal to some extent with the horrors of meat processing, the book is actually about life, the world, and everything – cultural differences, mothers and daughters, men and women, ethics, desires, hope. It was great!

And while Sharon thought that I had probably read Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," in fact I hadn't. So I procured a copy from our wonderful library and devoured . . .um, I mean read . . . it immediately. Not only was the story of one family's efforts to eat locally ("locavores" is the hot new label for folks like these) from their own farm and other nearby farms fascinating, but Kingsolver's writing style was so enchanting that I requested one of her fiction books from the library -- "The Poisonwood Bible." I haven't read it yet, but everyone says it's excellent.

And what can I say about Laura Shapiro's "Perfection Salad"? The writing is somewhat academic and threfore a bit of a slog, but well worth the effort. The book covers the era from about 1880 to 1930, exactly the period during which "industrial food" began its ascendance. Ever heard of Fannie Farmer? The Chicago School of Cooking? Votes for Women? It's all here and it's all connected. Some of the menus of the time are hysterically funny too. White sauce on absolutely everything. Even bananas. And apparently Jello was considered a vegetable. Whew!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Olympics Made Me Do It

I have never finished a second sock so fast.

Yep. We have two Panda Feet. And it's all thanks to the swimmers, rowers, divers, fencers, equestrians, runners, bicyclists, and gymnasts that kept me entertained all weekend. Wow! And apparently some new sports have been added since I last viewed the Olympics. We now have a trampoline event. Extremely cool. And Beach Volleyball. I used to think that was just people playing volleyball in the sand. Nope. It's an official Sport – 2 person teams, national and world championship events, darn exciting to watch.

As a former competitive figure skater (not terribly successful), I've always been a Winter Olympics kind of gal. These are the sports I grew up with. Plenty of snow and ice in those long New England winters. I even had the opportunity to go down the bobsled run at Lake Placid one time (four-man sled with professionals fore and aft and we two trembling amateurs in the middle). Woohoo!!!

But there are a lot more warm-weather sports than cold. And a lot more of the inhabited world that never sees snow. So, I am learning to love the Summer Olympics (except for Water Polo; I can never see who is doing what).

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

As The Wool Turns

You know those soap operas you can return to after weeks of absence and the same characters are still struggling with the same situations? Well, that's how my fiber life is going.

The second Panda Foot sock is underway, rather more than halfway to the heel. Just chugging along. No excitement here.

And the second Staggered Lace sock is also underway, although not so far along.

And remember this shawl? Uh-huh, still knitting. I've finished another 64-row repeat. Four down, two to go. Completion in September, I'm guessing.

In the spinning department, I have finished another ounce of "Say a Little Prayer" merino. That's two down and SIX to go. At the current rate of progress, I will have four lovely 50-gram, 200-yard skeins sometime next year.

So what do I do for fiber thrills? Heh. Planning and plotting, of course. I definitely have enough Frog Tree Alpaca sportweight for a Swallowtail Shawl, although some changing of colors will be necessary – dark grey, light grey, cream – all good together. Probably on #7 needles. And the Bee Fields Shawl is next on the agenda, but I don't have the yarn yet. Hmmmm, perhaps I can snag some Wollmeise from the Loopy Ewe.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Name That Stitch Pattern

I believe I have just "unvented" a stitch pattern. (You know, this is when you think you've invented something, but it actually already exists.) This lacey pattern is so simple that it could not possibly be original. There are only two rows to the four-stitch repeat. Row 1 is K2tog, yo, K2; Row 2 is K2, yo, K2tog. It seemed as though there should be an SSK in there somewhere, but when I tried it, I lost the ridge at the edge of the lace panel. Has anyone ever seen this before? Does it have a name?

I incorporated the lace bits into a 7-stitch pattern that alternates K4,P3 with LaceyBit, P3 every 10 rows. I think it's the swapping back and forth that causes the knit columns to stagger about in such an inebriated fashion. Nothing will make them stay straight. And, of course, I incorporated the 7-stitch pattern into . . . . .

A pair of socks. Of course. Well, it will be a pair. Right now it's just the one. But that's okay. In fact it's such a humongous achievement that I was thinking of naming these "Halleluiah Socks" (I went with "Staggered Lace" instead). This yarn is the Dream in Color Smooshy that I have attempted to make into socks FIVE TIMES before this. Each of those five was, however, a cable pattern. Apparently this yarn wanted to be lace. It looks like the sort of hearty yarn that would cable delightfully; but its true self is a dainty creature craving delicate airiness. So be it. The yarn has spoken.