Serial Sockucide

My Fellow Knitters,

It grieves me greatly to inform you of crimes inflicted on our own, but I feel it is my duty to tell you of the menace living in our midst.  For indeed, one of your fellows has committed a grave crime and aided in the destruction of one Time of My Life Sock.  Today around 12:45 EST this poor innocent sock became the third victim in a string of serial attacks.  The perpetrator is currently mourning her crimes and promises never to knit socks again, but we doubt she will be able to resist her neon cables for long when she becomes lost in swaths of stockinette.  Though she is still feeling the bite from where the sock reacted to her neglect the physical reminders will not last long.

In anticipation of her relapse into sock knitting, particularly with the start of Sock the Vote and the arrival of a Stockinette Zombies sock kit just around the corner, we propose that the knitter learn how to darn socks. The ideal solution would be for the knitter to buy a different pair of work shoes, but she finds the expense daunting and so has tentatively promised to investigate learning a new skill.

The latest sock victim is still clinging to life, albeit by a quite literal thread.  In lieu of flowers we ask that those who wish to donate send advice on how to repair current injuries and guard against those coming in the future.  For those interests in the gory details, the fatal blow occurred in the same location as its predecessors, at the center of the achilles tendon.


Attemptive Focus

Welcome back to WIP Wednesday where there really is not much to report.  I am still knitting away on the front of the Holla Back Tank.  I've just finished the bust increases and now have a bit to go before I can start armhole shaping.

It is quite a bit of progress, but it feels like I am getting nowhere.  Ideally I will finish the front this week and cast on the back for our Labor Day excursion to visit Chris' parents and some of my family.  The lace back just screams entertainment for the long and boring car ride.

I am actually right on pace with the Sweatshop of Love KAL for this pattern.  For this one I am knitting concurrently, but not actually participating.  For some reason if I say it is a knit-a-long suddenly it becomes like work and I no longer find it fun.  So I am reading the blog posts and setting goals for myself, but not actually joining in on the conversation.  Lame, I know, but after the Cowl KAL + sample knit of doom I'm just burnt out.  I am easing myself back in with the Stockinette Zombies KALs, so maybe I will join in on the next one.

Socks On A Plane are also still going, but they have been demoted to social knitting, which means I mostly pull them out on Pretty Little Liars nights to keep me from throwing things at the tv (did you watch the betrAyal? I KNOW!).  I anticipate giving them a lot of love during our stay with the in-laws.

But of course, all of this hinges on my commitment to only two projects.  Which, considering I bought the latest Knit Scene and immediately cast on for the Purslane beret and cowl set last night (I have the perfect skein in the perfect shade of blue), might be a bit of a stretch.

For more WIP Wednesday goodness, check out Tami's Amis!


Yarn Tourist: Part 2

On day two of our post-wedding holiday Chris and I decided to travel around the area of New Hampshire in which we were staying and check out some more yarn shops (honestly, by this point we were in the car so much we looked like those commercials in which the couple only vacations in places they can drive).  We picked two shops that looked promising and off we went.

Our first destination was the town of Derry, home to The Yarn and Fiber Company.  At first glance The Yarn and Fiber Company looks rather modest in its strip mall.  But that is just the outside.  Once you journey inside you can see the real haven that has found its home in Derry.

The shop was so welcoming and so full of fibery goodness I don't know where to begin.  You walk in the door and are immediately standing in front of some gorgeous sock yarn.  There are shelves stretching all the way to the back wall that are full to overflowing, and every wall is covered in something wonderful.  The other half of the shop is dominated by spinning wheels, fiber, some luxury lace weight, and quilting supplies.  The back corner is a treasure hunt of notions, needles, and some of the cutest sheepy t-shirts I've ever seen (I really wish I had bought one).

I did some wandering, stumbled across a table of locals who were knitting together surrounded by the aran weights, and essentially stared wide-eyed at the selection (this was a common theme to the trip).  Eventually I got around to talking to the woman who ran the shop that day.  As I was explaning to her that we were on our honeymoon she got this knowing look in her eye and asked if I was looking for something unique.  I said of course! and she pointed me to two lines, one of which was Mad Color, a yarn produced in Derry itself.

I fell in love and cuddled and squished all the yarns I could until finally bringing Chris a selection to help me choose from.  Of course he knows my yarn taste by now and selected the multicolored sock yarn -- Mad Color Fiber Arts Classica in the Wild Side colorway.

I am absolutely in love with thd riot of color and am planning to knit it up for the Sock the Vote KAL in October (I know the challenges are going on now, but I'm too focused on getting other things done).  The woman who rang me up just laughed and said "I think you picked out the brightest color in the shop".  Really, it is that eye-searing.  Photos just don't do it justice.

We tried to hit up The Spotted Sheep in Goffstown, but they were inexplicably closed for the day.  Sad for me, but probably good for our budget.  Instead we went into Manchester and had lunch at a local place called Baked.  It was no LYS, but the decor was cute, the food was good, and the company was perfect.


An Unusual Crowd

Part of the "excitement" of getting married in the United States (and I would think in many other places it is similar) is going to the Social Security Administration office to legally change your name.  It is one of those final steps to creating your own family should you chose to take your husband's last name or do as I did and hyphenate.  It is an event that can inspire thoughts on the nature of identity and the ever evolving and beautiful uniqueness of what makes a family.

It is also an event that involves fights for parking spots and really long lines in a lobby full of people who are there for less exciting and much more life changing paperwork.  There are people there from all different ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, and ages (not to mention health).  There was a grandmother working on her custody battle for her grandchildren, a young pregnant mother applying for food stamps, and a mental health patient who was struggling to wait her turn while terrified of the people around her.

Into this glimpse of humanity I brought my knitting.  While others fidgeted and read, I sat silently, respecting the no electronics rule and working on the front to my Holla Back Tank.

What I quickly realized but tried to ignore was that the one empty chair I managed to snag was actually facing the crowed, rather than lost in its midst.  And when you are facing everyone, they quickly take note of what you are doing.

First a man about my age tried to catch my eye from a few rows back.  He was there assisting an older gentleman, and so in my mind he was the grandson, driving his grandfather on errands and helping him with paperwork.  He mouthed to me "What are you making?"  I told him a sweater and waited for some kind of adverse reaction.  Instead he simply smiled, nodded, and gave me a thumbs up.  He went back to chatting with the older lady who had come in to sit next to him and I returned to my knitting, pleased to know that at least someone outside my sphere of influence thinks that knitting is cool enough to merit a thumbs up.

About ten minutes later I heard the older gentleman across from me tell the girl he came in with "You know, she's not even looking."  I glanced up at him, smiled, and went back to my knitting, which he took to be an invitation to start a conversation.

Gentleman: "How long have you been doing that?" (gestures to the knitting)
Me: "Oh, a few years."
"What are you making?"
"A sweater"
"How long will it take you?"
"A few weeks, maybe?" (if I only knit on this and only this)
"Wow.  You're not even looking.  If I tried to do that it would look like this" He gestures diagonally across his midsection to indicate an asymmetrical hem.

At this point we had the attention of the family sitting next to us.  I grinned at him and told him that this may be the case but at least he'd be fashionable.  The oldest daughter started giggling at this remark.  They had a good laugh with the gentleman and then we all went back to what we were doing.  Pretty soon my name was called and I went to the window to take on a new identity.

What I found fascinating about this exchange was a few things.  First, no one was shocked that I was knitting.  No one made comments about how unusual it was, or asked if I was pregnant.   The only part they found different was the fact that I could make eye contact with them without stopping.  At the same time, they were extremely friendly.  Despite the fact many were obviously there for unpleasant reasons, they all smiled, joked with each other, and expressed a genuine interest in passing the time together as amicably as possible.

I don't know if I happened to stumble into an odd crowd of knitting relatives or just happened upon the most pleasant government waiting room ever.  But I like to think that maybe, just maybe, knitters are starting to be recognized.  That the kindness and peace many knitters maintain (many maybe because of their knitting) has started to impact those around them.  Either way, it gave me hope for the world at large.  That even in some very dire circumstances, people can still smile.  And if I can help pass the time for someone who is dealing with paperwork that is less than pleasant, I feel I have done something worthy with my day.


Slanting Coast

I have been dropping hints all week and now I can finally show you what I've had blocking on my porch -- my Rocky Coast Cardi

I cast this on back in December, then ripped it back and re-cast on in February.  I flew through the body and the first sleeve but then got distracted by other things, as I am wont to do.  For some reason on the plane home from our honeymoon I got a really strong urge to knit on a sweater, and so when we began unpacking our boxes this was the first item I went in search of.

I actually knit the second sleeve twice, forgetting that I had  chosen to eliminate the decreases for a more comfortable fit.  I also chose to knit the sleeves down to my wrist, rather than the three-quarter length shown in the pattern.  I have a habit of pulling my sleeves over the base of my palms, rather than pushing them up.

The final product took eight ounces less than two skeins of Miss Babs Yowza in the Russet colorway.  I was bad and did not alternate skeins, but so far I have not seen a perceptible difference.  Because the yarn is superwash it grows in length quite a bit when blocked.  The result is a longer more enveloping sweater that makes me miss university libraries and their freezing temperatures.

I know the sweater weight so specifically because I knit with the leftovers immediately after casting off.  This required a bit of math as I was unsure of my yardage.  Fortunately one of our wedding gifts was a digital scale and like the salad spinner I have co-opted it for my yarnie ways.

These are Slant, from Cookie A's brand new e-book Shape + Form.  One of the sweaters calls for Miss Babs Yowza, so she wrote this pattern for the leftovers.

I knit these in two and a half days -- and I was working too!  They were very easy to follow and the resulting mitts are absolutely lovely.  I may knit up several pairs to hand out as presents for Christmas this year.  That is, if I choose to knit for Christmas, which I keep promising myself I won't.

So there you have it.  Two FOs!  Now click on over to Tami's Amis for even more fibery goodness.


Minimal Sweater Madness

I seem to have caught the sweater bug.  Between casting off the big project this weekend and starting prep for the upcoming Stockinette Zombies KAL, I've come down with garment fever.  So what is a girl to do when she is down a few projects but is unable to cast on something new?  Dive into the WIPs pile.

You may remember I cast on the Holla Back Tank back at the beginning of July/ end of June.  I was really into it for the first few rows but then was distracted by something shiny.  I have not made a huge amount of progress in the past few days, but I am a little more than halfway through the waist decreases on the front.  The goal is to finish this as quickly as possible so that the temperature will drop, leaving me unable to wear it until next year.

For more WIPs check out Tami's Amis!


Productively Tuesday

I have finished two projects this week and it is only Tuesday (to be fair my week starts on Saturdays because that is how the work schedule is posted)!  They both used the same yarn

And one of them was a Cookie A pattern.

I actually finished these since snapping this picture yesterday in preparation for blogging (trying to put the new camera to good use), but our new apartment gets very little sunlight when I am up in the mornings, so finished photos and further details will have to wait for now.

Happy Tuesday!


Yarn Tourist: Part 1

I've held off on writing all about the honeymoon adventure that we went on because I wanted to be sure I did it justice.  Chris surprised me with a wonderful three day holiday in New Hampshire and Massachusetts and took into account my one request -- that I be able to buy yarn.  Thanks to Knitmap we were able to plot every route so that it included stops at a number of yarn shops.

Day one of our holiday (I don't count days spent in airports as holiday) was focused on a day trip to Boston.  We drove from our New Hampshire hotel down to Alewife station and rode the red line in with a car full of Red Sox and Twins fans.  The energy was high and everyone was excited to go into the city.  We debarked at Boston Commons and began our search for the first yarn shop of the trip -- Newbury Yarns.

The idea behind this trip was to just walk the city and see what we could find.  And walk we did.  After a detour through Boston Gardens we found ourselves at the start of Newbury Street.  Newbury Street in itself is an adventure, the people watching was fantastic and some of the shops had the most, dare I say, unusual window displays.

Yes, that's right.  Those are teddy bear heads on the dress forms.  Nothing strange here.

Finally we found it.  Newbury Yarns.  At which point I apologized to Chris for dragging him to a  yarn shop in the garment district where we probably could not afford to buy anything.  But we forged ahead and found ourselves in a yarn shop so nice there were no prices listed on anything.

I browsed a bit through shelves of yarns that were on the posh end of the industry.  The shelving system seemed to be organized centrally by color and radiate out into a weight-based organizational style.  Honestly, I could not make complete sense of it.

I was a little disappointed in the offerings until I turned around and found it.  The small section where all of the verigated yarns were stowed.  Not only was this were wild socks and eye catching cowls were conceived, it was also home to a yarn completely unique to Newbury -- Dips.  This indie yarn is produced in Boston and is only sold through Newbury Yarns.  The tags are all handwritten and none of the skeins completely matched.  Of course, I had to have some.  What better way to remember our trip than through yarn specific to our destination.  Oh what a wonderful world we live in!

After much deliberation over colorways like Banana Foster I finally selected this skein of laceweight.

It is not enough for a garment alone, but I have visions of striping it with a soft grey in some sort of delicate pullover.  Who knows if I will ever actually knit it, I may just leave it be for a time so that I can look at how pretty it is.


Gaining Some Perspective

Today things have really not gone as planned.  Yesterday I was pretty sick, so this morning I decided to try out a yoga class at the Y as an alternative to running (though I'm not sure how being upside down was to help), but I didn't make it because I walked outside to find I forgot to replace my parking sticker (I don't like people in the sketchy areas I park to know where I live) and my car had been towed.  The amount of money it cost to get back was more than enough to bring back yesterday's ickiness.

Then I had a fight with Chris over basically nothing.

Then I finally put away laundry from earlier in the week to find another sock had blown enough stitches for a sizable hole.

Why am I getting this personal on the internet?  Well I'll tell you.  When I called my mother to cry on the phone and continue my pity party she didn't answer.  She didn't answer because she was at the memorial service.

The father of a family I spent a lot of time with as a kid died earlier this week from stage four pancreatic cancer.  I am unsure if his wife was able to attend the service because she was due to have a biopsy from a heart attack she suffered the day before she died.  Both are very young parents in reasonably good health with five kids close to the ages of my brother and sister.  It is one of those horrible situations that breaks your heart into a million pieces and all I can do is pray and hope that she received the shawl I sent to her last month.

I tell you this, not to make you sad or upset, but as a reminder of how much we really do have.  Last summer when my dad was in the hospital we did not know what would happen.  How fortunate am I that I live in a world where I could afford to buy nice yarn and designer patterns just so I could keep my hands busy.  One of the items I knit was the shawl that I mailed to Shelley last month.  How blessed am I that I have the ability and the resources to send something tangible across the state to bring someone a tiny piece of love in all of this sadness.

I tell you this, not to make you feel bad, but to maybe bring some perspective.  Though my problems seemed all consuming this morning, they are not the end of my world.  We were fortunate enough that we had not needed to use all of the money we were given for our wedding and it more than covered the cost of recovering my car.  Chris and I have many more dramatic fights in our future, but for now we have moved on to yelling at soccer (excuse me, footy) rather than each other.

And the sock?  Well, I still need to gain some perspective on that.  But at least I have this drying out on my porch.


Geektastic Thursday: Space Crafting

When I was a kid my dad would tell me stories of all the places he lived when he was an opera singer.  Tiny rooms in Boston, fifth floor walkups in New York City, and billeted flats when touring overseas.  He would tell me about moving on the subway and I would romanticize about what it would be like to pack all of my stuff in a trunk and live in a big city apartment the size of our living room.  When I got to have my own room I took the smallest one in the house as a challenge to jigsaw puzzle all of my things (I had way too much stuff -- still do) into as small of a place as possible.

Clearly this idea has stuck with me as I have grown older.  When Chris and I looked for a place to live I favored the smaller apartments, loving the idea of starting our lives together in a space where we really will be nesting.  We will have to or we will be sleeping in the yarn (it's not really that small. I like to think that it is the perfect size).  It helps that we are your stereotypical newlyweds -- seriously skint.

One of the things I absolutely refused to part with when we moved in together was my desk.  It was my mother's and I have used it all the way through high school and then online summer courses and grad school. It is the site of many tearful thesis drafts and held my attempts at scrapbooking long after I abandoned the medium.  So when we moved into our four room apartment (that includes the bathroom and kitchen), I decided to get a little creative.

Welcome to my office.  It is a little cluttered because I still have a lot of grad school paperwork to sort through, but it is perfect.  We don't have a washer or dryer, so I repurposed the space to hold my desk, the ironing board and drying racks, and a cart of tools and crafting supplies.  I have enough space for some WIPs, my computer, a book stand, and my sewing machine which I swear I really am going to learn to use.

The best part?  When we have someone come to visit or the urge strikes I can push in my chair and close the doors.

I have plans to hang my autographs on the wall behind the desk and to cover the inside of the door to be like an inspiration board.  With the door closed we can finally have a sophisticated grown up apartment (or as sophisticated and grown up as an apartment can be with not one but two Yoda bobble heads) and only the lucky few, like you, will get the chance to peek into the inner sanctum of my crafting world.


Ravellenics Drop-Out

I am a Ravellenics drop-out.  I admit it.  I am a complete failure as a knitting athlete.  I cannot even blame the stress and craziness of the wedding and honeymoon coming smack dab in the middle of the Olympics (though I could, really), nor can I blame my pattern or the yarn.  Liz Abinante's Citizen Shawl is lovely and the skein of Yarn Pirate I was using is splendid.  There was a little concern initially that it looked too much like camo, but a few more increase rows brought the pops of neon back to the forefront.

Instead of working on my Ravellenics project I essentially worked on nothing.  And then I knit a bit on some socks.

These are the Socks on a Plane pattern from Laura Linneman in Gnome Acres Fingering Sock (I know I'm addicted).  Aside from the fact that I actually knit these on a plane, I got hooked.  Between the color pooling and the cable crossing there was no way I could put these down.  Yesterday at work I finished my first sock (I'd call it a HO, but then you would realize just how many knitting podcasts I subscribe to) and proceeded to spin in my chair long after my lunch break was over holding out my newly-clad foot.

Luckily my coworkers have come to expect such behavior and placate me with comments of "oh, what a pretty color!" and "did you really make those" even though they have watched me knit countless items before (I can't wait to see their reaction to toe-knitting).

As always, head over to Tami's Amis to check out some other, probably less manic, WIPs!


We're Back!

Hello, my blogging lovelies!  I have missed you so!  The days since my last post have passed in a whirlwind. After all of that secret wedding crafting we finally got married!

And then we went on our honeymoon to Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

And now we are trying to settle into our new apartment.  But I know what you are really curious about is all that secret wedding crafting I did.  Well I'll be honest with you.  When it came time to actually show it off, I did not get that many photos.  And while I cannot show you the items I knit for my bridesmaids, I can show you the items I made for myself -- my shoes and a wedding shawl.

About a month before the wedding Andrea and I got this crazy idea that the girls and I should cover our shoes in comic book images.  About three weeks out we decided it was just crazy enough that we had to do it.  She chose assorted Whedonverse images, my sister used Pokemon, and I pulled out a Buffy Season 8 comic book in which Buffy ends up in the future with Fray in a beautifully colorful dystopian world.

I am so glad that we chose to do this, though my something blue received more attention than anything else in the wedding, including my dress and all the handmade programs and other items we used in the wedding (except maybe our unusual music selections).

At one point I had decided to make my veil and knit a garter, but fortunately I realized that the idea was a little too extreme.  And yet I was still working on my wedding shawl mere days before the wedding.

This is a slightly modified version of Laura Linneman's My Wish shawl knit in Twinkle Sock from Unwind Yarn Company that Dana died up special to match the bridesmaid dresses.  It was perfect for the reception.  I omitted the section between lace charts as well as the color edging so that it would have a more antique feel with the undyed edging.

Now that I am done with all the wedding crafting I can knit on anything I want.  Which means I have serious knitting ADD.  I've worked on two different socks, a shawl, and now I'm furiously knitting on a sweater.  Because 90+ degree heat is the perfect time to play with worsted weight.

What can I say? I'm a puzzle.