Monday, January 29, 2007

The Pirate Life

Ahoy! I finally finished the "We Call Them Pirates" hat - just in time for my friend Todd's visit. I made him the hat to commemorate his first visit to Gasparilla. I say first visit but really one Gasparilla will pretty much do for most people over 25. I was however impressed with Todd's bead catching skills. The St. Petersburg Times said 400,000 people came to watch the invasion and I believe it. Bayshore was packed.

Back to the hat: it was the second We Call Them Pirates hat I made the past two weeks. The first hat I knitted with the recommended needle size. I used the same yarn, Dale of Norway Hauk (same colors even). I checked my gauge like a good little knitter. But when I was done with it I could barely fit it over my head. My knitting got tighter when I used two colors. My swatch was with just one color. That means I either need to do stranded gauge tests for stranded projects or learn how to do stranded knitting correctly. I went up one size, US 4, for the second hat and it worked much better. No longer felt as if pirates were squeezing my brain.

It was too warm to wear the hat for Gasparilla, but Todd graciously agreed to model the next day, when it was a bit cooler:

We even took the hat out for some pirate-y shuffleboard action before Todd had to fly back to DC. Pirates love shuffleboard:

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Log Cabin Fever

Woo hoo!! I am finished making Log Cabin socks (at least until next Christmas)! I made four of these as gifts this Christmas. Although I am so, so happy to be able to move on to other patterns, I will probably make more next Christmas, as these are phenomenal house socks. Of the three I made earlier, two were made with Berroco Ultra Alpaca, and one was made with Classic Elite Wings. I used the yarn the pattern called for, Cascade Pastaza, for this final pair, a gift for my brother. He knows he's getting them; Christmas morning he unwrapped half a sock still on the dpns. Pastaza is a pain to knit with. Split yarn everywhere. But boy they are beautiful, warm, soft socks. I wish I had used it for all four socks. I will use it for more house socks in the future.

Pattern: Log Cabin socks from Handknit Holidays
Yarn: Cascade Pastaza, color 027
Needles: Clover dpns US5
Modifications: Used US5 dpns instead of US6, because although the gauge was correct on US6 the socks were huge.

I've been experimenting with different backgrounds in my knitting photos. The first one is taken on my front porch with my cuban tiles as the background. You can see the problem in this photo; turns out dogs, particularly Jackson, love Log Cabin socks.

The detail in these photos isn't very good. I wanted to get a close up of the heel. I love the cabled heel. It looks great on the foot, but since my brother wears size 12's, my feet look like they have elfin magic when I wear these. He's promised to send me a photo of him wearing the socks.

Sasha's favorite spot

My youngest dog, Sasha, has discovered how pleasant it is to sit on my front porch. The other two dogs use the front porch as a lookout station; always ready to bark and whine at whomever walks by.

But Sasha can sit on the ottoman for hours, just staring at the street. Long after I've dragged the other two dogs back inside the house, tired of their barking, she'll sit there quietly.

I'd like to think she's contemplating deep thoughts, but I suspect she's looking for squirrels. PS: black glob under her eye is a wad of dirt, acquired from her morning backyard dig. In my backyard she looks like a wild boar rooting for truffles. But on the front porch she's a sweet little girl.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Socks That Rock! vs. Bank That Sucks

I have a little secret to share: people in Florida don't wear socks (outdoors; what people wear indoors is their own business). That is, people who live in Florida and wear socks are often looked upon by non-sock wearers as crackpots or goofballs, or at the very least "people who are oblivious to where they live and OMG don't they know what can grow on the feet of sock wearers in this freaking swamp?!" But as a knitter, there are few knitting joys as satisfying to me as turning a heel. And buying a hank of hand-painted sock yarn is so much more affordable than buying hand-painted yarn for a whole sweater. And gosh I never get to wear sweaters, either. And sock yarn is so, so pretty.

So logically, rationally, reasonably, I plunked down a bunch of cash to join the Socks That Rock! Rockin' Socks Club, to buy a bunch of yarn I've never used before in order to make socks I'll hardly get to wear. Yes, I plan to keep them all for myself! I will wear them with pride and ignore the worried stares of my non-sock wearing neighbors, at least through March, when it gets too hot outside. I joined because I love sock yarn. I have a theory that knowing I have sock yarn arriving every other month might curtail my sock yarn buying habit for awhile. I've heard great things about the company, Blue Moon Fiber Arts and their yarn. But I really joined because I wanted to be in a club called the Rockin' Socks Club. How cool is that?!

I got my "Bank Error Please Read" email a couple days ago. Needless to say I was stunned. May the suits at the bank who caused the Blue Moon STR! shut-down one day have someone in their lives who knits so they may know the joy of wearing handmade socks. I won't recap the long story; it has spread all through blogland by now, especially here and here. But now I really feel like part of the knitting community, because not only do I belong to a club called the Rockin' Socks Club, but a bank had the audacity to shut it down! Thanks, mystery bank!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Instant Gratification Socks

I think I underestimated how much work it would be to knit all my Christmas gifts. By New Years Eve I still had one more Log Cabin sock to go; I hit a wall and just couldn't stand one more day of cables. So on New Years Day I gave myself a break and whipped up these bulky alpaca socks, which I have named "Instant Gratification Socks." I made them for a friend who I'm told spends most of her time at home in thick, comfy socks. I hope she likes these. They're soft, comfy and a prettier blue than this photo makes them out to be.

Pattern: Plymouth Yarns Ribbed Socks #36
Yarn: Plymouth Baby Alpaca Grande Color #679
Needles: Clover dpns US6
Modifications: Blissfully, none. Followed the intructions and had a few days of stress-free knitting.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

My New Years Resolutions

Every year, in addition to my regular New Years resolutions, I always resolve to do one thing I've never done before. For instance, a few years ago one of my more adventurous resolutions was to fly a plane. I took a one day private lesson. Last year I decided to learn to knit. While not as exhilerating as flying a plane, it had the unintended result of unleashing a monster of a hobby. This year my big goal is to travel somewhere I've never been. For various reasons I need to see some new scenery this year. So here it is.. my list.

I resolve, in 2007:

1. To be more organized. House, car, time, exercise, finances. Everything.

2. To read Ulysses. I've always wanted to. If I read it this year, maybe it will make up for all the books I didn't read last year, as I was too busy knitting.

3. To make multiple batches of Christmas cookies next year and distribute them to friend and neighbors. To no longer wait until Christmas Eve, make two batches of cookies, realize two batches is not enough to distribute to everyone and proceed to eat all the cookies.

4. To only buy yarn for a pre-determined specific project. Not just because I think the yarn is pretty. Or because the irrational fear creeps over me that if I don't buy this yarn now, I will never, ever, ever have the opportunity to buy this particular yarn again and my life will be ruined.

5. Resolution #4 does not apply if the yarn is sock yarn. One can buy sock yarn and keep it forever or until one finds the perfect pattern to go with said yarn. Plus, sock yarn is so tiny it's easy to store. You all know what I'm talking about. (By you all I mean the three people who have checked out my blog so far.)

6. To take good looking photographs of my FO's. Not like the crap photos I've taken so far.

7. To travel to a place I've never been before. I've been in a travel rut the past two years. The only (airquote)vacations(/airquote) I've taken were to my home town (Indianapolis). I put vacation in imaginary airquotes because I bring my laptop with me so I can get some work done. This year will be different. I'm thinking Vermont. Or Paris. Why not? Think big I say.

8. To knit my first sweater.

9. To go to my first sheep and wool show. And guess what?! There's one in Vermont!