Food |Knitting |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 1:40 PM

new on the needles
new on the needles

It’s that time of the year again. Time to look back. Time to gaze forward in anticipation. Let’s look ahead, first, and welcome 2008.

I did not remain sock monogamous to Lenore. I cast on the toes of the Salish Sea Socks, the December Rockin’ Sock Club pattern. The colorway is called Bella Coola / Nuxalk. It’s a Cat Bordhi pattern. The colors are my blog colors, and Cat gave me a nice little shout-out in the pattern notes. So what was I to do but cast them on?

But, I hear you ask gentle reader, what is that other unfinished strip of stripy cabled goodness sharing the picture with the Salish toes?

Son Of Stitch n Bitch

That was something I was hoping would be the last finished object of 2007. Didn’t make it. It will be the first finished object of 2008, though. I will tell you more later. For now, I will only say that the pattern comes from this book, and as soon as I saw it I knew that I had to knit it. When Tangle had the right yarn, the deal was sealed.

More later.

Also looking ahead: #1 Son left yesterday for a 5-week trip to Brazil. Yeah. South America. I was not allowed to go to the airport, because Moms are so lame at airports and stuff, you know. But he called me from the airport to let me know he was there. And he called me again to let me know they were ready to board. And he called me again to let me know that their flight to Chicago had been delayed. And he called again to let me know that they had landed, finally, in Chicago but missed the connection to Sao Paulo, and now had to stand in a really long line. And then he sent a text message to say that they had tickets on a flight leaving today. And then he sent a text message to say Happy New Year and that he was at a party with Chicago friends. I have not heard yet today. He has promised to call occasionally and maybe send an email now and again. Five weeks is a long time. Brazil is very far away.

In other non-knitting news, my old lady cat, Phoebe, has been diagnosed as hyperthyroid, thus explaining her weight loss and erratically needy behavior that was so odd in a crotchety cat that mostly just wants to be left alone — except at night, when a great deal of lovin’ is appreciated at bedtime. The good news is that it’s a condition that is, actually, curable in a fairly easy way. The bad news is that the condition may be masking chronic renal failure, which is not curable. So Phoebe is on medication to bring her thyroid levels down to normal so her kidneys can be evaluated. In all of her 15 years, Phoebe has never been sick or required medication of any kind. Since she tends to hold a grudge, I was not looking forward to shoving a pill down her throat offering her medication twice a day. But my vet carries this wonderful invention called Pill Pockets. Slip the pill inside the formed treat and smoosh the end closed, and the designated pet chomps it down. Phoebe loves them. So the only issue is keeping Kidd distracted while Phoebe eats her treat. Moo doesn’t count here, because she doesn’t like treats of any kind. She only eats cat food and yarn.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Now, looking back in farewell to 2007:

In January, I decided to buy yarn. And I kept that promise all through the year. So much so that I think in 2008 I will be a bit more restrained. Blue Moon suffered through their well-publicized bank problems. And my sock class was canceled because of snow.

February saw the Snake River Socks released into the wild, unfortunately, it turned out, with several errors. #1 Son borrowed my vacuum. My brain turned up missing in action as I tried to figure out the right number of stitches to go around a sock leg.

The first Rockin’ Sock Club shipment came in March. I resolved to knit socks only with my classes (resolution soon broken). My socks were lost and then found and, it turned out (via contest), may have been running a little underground resistance movement against sock abuse.

April opened with the Magical Moebius Festival in Newport. Knitting and food and yarn and food and Cat Bordhi and food and whales, and I knit a giant moebius (unintentionally) that 11 people fit into. And it was too far to drive 10 miles to my house, but not too far to drive to Eugene or Seattle.

In May I had the plane trip from hell. While I was in Miami, #1 Son called from Toronto to ask if I could move his car in Portland (it was towed). We lost Grandpa Barney. And I learned that I still remember how to execute a perfect slightly imperfect pratfall.

June found me proving my extreme dorkiness whilst meeting The Yarn Harlot. PDX Knit Bloggers were born (can’t believe it’s only been since June). The Clapotis That Never Ends… finally ended.

In July I visited Boston yarn shops (and my cousins). The PDX Knit Bloggers had their first meet-up at Knit Purl. #1 Son reached v1.9. I was both sorted into Ravenclaw and Simpsonized.

New Pathways for Sock Knitter: Book One

August started with a heelish experience. Sockapalooza 4 finished and I was spoiled nicely. Maia arrived for a PDX Yarn Crawl — on my birthday! I still owe the Bo Diddley sock pattern to several people. A gorgeous new Cat Bordhi book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters: Book One, was published. My name is on page 22. And I was kept suitably humble by my first autograph requestor who said, I have no idea who you are but apparently you’re famous, so please sign my book.

I had more fun with Judy’s Magic Cast-On in September. I also learned that it’s a good thing to pay attention when one is turning cables. At OFFF I met a Rasta sheep and fell off my yarn diet. Hard.

October started with a very interesting computer rebuild. (lovin’ the new computer now, though) I attended the first ever Floating Knitting Retreat with Cat Bordhi and Lucy Neatby and had a wonderful time. I obtained my first ever MP3 player (knitting videos on my iPod!). We planted a tree for Barney and the Ravens landed.

In November, Tina destashed and knitters everywhere helped out. The rose arch finally gave up the ghost. I made a swift from Tinker Toys. I was thankful for finally finishing The Great Green Glob. Not so thankful when it turned out there was a dropped stitch requiring major post-blocking surgery.

I was sick for a lot of December. But I knit a scarf for #1 Son and started The Wings Of A Dream in Blue Moon Silk Thread. I pondered the future of knitting. I made carrot soup instead of carrot pudding. And I was given the gift of snow on Christmas.

Objects Finished In 2007:

9 pairs of adult-sized socks
2 pairs of baby-sized socks
2 iPod Nano socks
2 moebii of the right size
1 moebius bowl
2 baby sweaters
1 Clapotis
1 lace shawl
1 scarf
1 hat

22 finished objects total

In the queue for 2008 or currently on the needles:

4 lace shawls / wraps
2 sweaters
1 blanket
1 bag
1 hat
1 scarf
2 pairs of socks on the needles
a gazillion pairs of socks rattling around in my brain

Chances of finishing this list by 12/31/2008? We shall see.

Knitting |Miscellaneous Musing by Judy @ 3:07 PM

Ravens, lace beads
Ravens, lace beads

So you didn’t really expect that I was winding all that lace-weight silk with no plans in mind, did you, gentle reader? Nah… I thought you knew me better than that.

Thraven was slated for The Wings Of A Dream, and that is what it is becoming. I swatched yesterday, decided I liked the swatch, and went for it. I’m using my Options Harmony needles, and I just love them for knitting with this silk. They have just enough grab to hold on without being a drag, if ya know what I mean. I’m sort of obsessively knitting on this project right now. But I can see already that it’s not something I would dare use as take-along knitting. It needs too much attention.

The highlighting tape, by the way was a prezzy from my Sockapalooza pal, Marie.

Today I am not joining the throng out in search of a good deal on Black Friday. This actually starts my do not shop in malls season. For many years I have pretty much refused to go into a mall any time between Thanksgiving and New Years. While I love to shop, I hate crowds and crazed, stressed fellow shoppers.

But today there is another reason.

Today is Buy Nothing Day in the US – a day that aims to help people think about how they can live more simply all year, and not just today. Black Friday, of course, has more significance here in the US than in other countries. World-wide Buy Nothing Day is celebrated on Saturday, 11/23.

When #1 Son first told me about Buy Nothing Day, I said, I’ve done that for years! It might have been the first time he thought that his poor old mom actually had a glimmer of intelligence (hard as it is to believe).

If you were out braving the crowds today, I hope you had a great time and found many bargains. But do consider bringing the philosophy of Buy Nothing Day into your life on other days.

Tomorrow, is Buy Local Day here in Portland. This is a day organized by The Sustainable Business Network of Portland, a group that sponsors Think Local Portland.

In the spirit of Buy Local Day, may I suggest patronizing your local yarn shops?

Knitting |Sockapaloooza by Judy @ 7:42 AM

a mysterious box
a mysterious box

Look what I found in my mailbox!

A mysterious and intriguing box that came from California.

Could this be from my Sockapalooza pal?

What could be inside?

little packages
little packages

This looks fun!

Little brightly-wrapped packages and a card with my name on it.

What can it all be?


There are instructions for opening.

OK. I will be good.

But you have to know it was tough!

Moo wants to help
Moo wants to help

Moo Cow: Can I open this one, Mommy? I like bows!

Mom: NO! Besides, you eat bows. That’s not what they were intended for.

Moo Cow: OK. I will let you open it. If you insist.

oooo….  cool things!
oooo…. cool things!

Look at all that was inside!

Little packages of Soak.

Highlighting tape for use with lace charts.

Scharffen Berger Chocolate — my favorite!

A picture of a whale (opened last, per instructions!).

And a wonderful pair of green and yellow Monkeys. They were wrapped in a really cool official Sockapalooza sock band that you can just see peeking out from under the socks on the far right.

You can see the socks packaged with the band right here. But I, in a frenzy of opening, missed that picture.

happy feet
happy feet

And now my feet are happy! I can’t wait for it to be wool-sock-wearing weather.

Thanks, Marie! I love everything, and the socks fit perfectly. 😀 What a great Sockapalooza Pal you are!

Knitting |Sockapaloooza by Judy @ 8:16 AM

Sockapalooza 4 commemorative bag
Sockapalooza 4 commemorative bag

Look! A commemorative Sockapalooza 4 bag! I ordered this one (for my Sockapalooza pal) here from Allena at Knitting Ewe On The Go. OK… I ordered a second one for myself, because isn’t this just the cutest thing?

Allena has several different fabrics in different colors and the completely-reversible bags can be ordered in any of the choices. You can even have the inside different from the outside and the tops different from the bottoms. I ordered my pal’s bag with the spotted fabric on one side, just in case someone isn’t wild about little monkeys. My bag is three different monkey fabrics, because I’m a monkey lover.

There’s not a lot of time until Sockapalooza Mail Date, but Allena was great about getting mine out really quickly.

And… you can always order one just for you! Heck… order one even if you’re not a Sockapaloozer, because they’re just so dang cute!

Daisy (who was gypped out of an entire hour of her birthday and thus legitimately gets to forgo aging this year) asks:

I am looking to try knitting a shawl this winter, do you think the “Great Green Glob” would be a good pattern to try as a first lace shawl project? Yours is looking wonderful.

Thank you, Daisy!

I had to think about this one for awhile. But I think I would not recommend this particular project for a first lace shawl project unless you already had at least some lace under your belt (so to speak).

Except for the plain garter rows between motifs, every single row in this pattern is different. That means that I always have to haul the charts around with me because there’s no way to memorize the pattern. And because the pattern can’t be memorized, it’s hard to get into the rhythm. It doesn’t make a very good traveling companion. Also, there is a knit-on border, and that’s tougher than having the border part of the shawl pattern itself. And when you finish that, there’s still the I-cord edging to do. A lot of it, because it’s a fairly big shawl.

All that being said, however, the stitches themselves aren’t terribly difficult. The motifs are mostly YO’s for increases (with a few M1s), and SSK and K2tog for the decreases. There’s also a Slip 2, K1, psso that the pattern abbreviates sskp. And that’s as tough as it gets.

But if all that doesn’t scare you off, I’d say go for it!

Knitting |Sockapaloooza by Judy @ 10:24 PM

dragon scales
dragon scales

The Koigu and I had words.

After it practically crawled out of the stash bin, insisting that it must be knit, I wasn’t going to let it get away with not telling me what it wanted to be. Several swatches later, I forced it to cough up its secret.

It had delusions of dragon-ness.

The stitch pattern is Dragon Skin, from one of the Barbara Walker Treasuries. The stitch pattern, as written, didn’t fit into the gauge I got going around my foot with the Koigu. I had two choices: I could make the pattern smaller, fitting more repetitions in one round. Or, I could make the stitch pattern larger, with fewer reps in a round. I opted for the latter because I thought that the larger scales would play with the colorway better. I love the way that the yarn is mostly grays, with little blings of gold and orange and green and blue.

If I were a dragon, I wouldn’t mind being gray if I could wear multi-colored sparkles.

keychain sock blocker
keychain sock blocker

And this is a little keychain sock-blocker that I knit a little sock for. It will be going to my Sockapalooza pal along with the Java Leaf Socks.

The yarn is a tiny bit of leftover Seasilk from another project. When going through the stash looking for the last of the Cherry Tree Hill so the little sock would match the bigger socks, I ran across the Seasilk. Since the colors are reasonably from the same family, I thought it would be fun for my Sock Pal to have an almost-matching but slightly swankier keychain.

There may be a few other things coming my Sock Pal’s way, too. 😀

Now… I have a question for you, gentle reader.

Saturday I went to a muggle party. It was a fun party and I had a great time. As we all sat around the back yard (perfect BBQ weather), sipping on beverages-of-our-choice and such, I whipped out the dragon scale socks and started knitting.

Is that a nervous habit that you have? one of the other guests asked me.

Nervous habit? I replied. I have to admit I was sort of speechless — and you know, gentle reader, how rare that is! But I really wasn’t quite sure how to respond when my chosen craft was relegated to the level of… I don’t know… a twitch or foot tap or something.

I knit because I really enjoy it and it’s relaxing, I finally said.

The other guest nodded. But I could see that I had just validated for her that what I did was… A Nervous Habit – capitalized, but nervous nonetheless.

I was a bit put out. But after I thought about it… I knit when I’m waiting in line, or I have a quiet moment, or I want to keep my hands busy, or I want to relax.

What do you think? Is there a tiny grain of truth in that question? Is knitting nothing more than A Nervous Habit, or should all nervous habits somehow be raised to the level of craft?

P.S. For those who commented on the Brioche stitch on the Java Leaf Socks. I wasn’t sure if that’s what I should really call it. The first round is worked as YO, K1, P1, repeat. In the second round, the YO and K1 are knit together, and the P1 is purled. So, while the knit stitches are, I guess, technically Brioche, there’s the purl stitches there that make it… something else. Brioche rib?

Knitting |Sockapaloooza by Judy @ 4:31 PM

Java Leaf Sock
Java Leaf Sock

I have finished the Java Leaf Socks for my sockapalooza pal. Yea!

I enjoyed knitting these. But I have to admit that I’m glad to have them finished. For some reason it took almost 1/2-way up the legs before I finally got the (fairly simple) lace pattern planted in my alleged brain. So these socks required concentration and that lengthened the time it took to complete them. That’s fine every now and then, but I usually consider socks to be “no attention needed” knitting.

I’m very pleased with the results. Despite the picture here, there really are two socks. Hey… hanging sock blockers up on grape vines is not all that easy!

The color is darker and richer than these pictures show – think good, black coffee. Although it’s a hand-painted yarn, it doesn’t compete with the lace pattern at all. In fact, when I saw the stitch pattern in an old, old book belonging to a friend, I thought of this yarn right away.

I tend to sort of make things up as I go along, and these socks were no different. I did swatch before starting to make sure I understood how the lace was made. But once into the sock I realized that the pattern would not go 4 times around the leg (my original plan) at the gauge I was knitting. Plan B, therefore, was to knit a simplified, slightly narrower leaf pattern on the sides of the sock, and the full-width pattern on the front and back.


This picture is a close-up of the front and back stitch pattern. You can see that there are two vines of leaves, and each side always slants the same direction. The simplified pattern on the sides has one vine, and the leaf slants alternate.

The four sections are separated by two brioche stitches. I used brioche instead of ribbing at the top of the sock to match the stitches on the side. I really like the way this came out — very stretchy and squooshy, but with the hold of ribbing — and I will probably use this technique on other socks.

The heel flap is in standard slipped heel stitch to match the look of the brioche.

You can see in the picture below that I started the vines all the way at the tip of the toe. Only the vines travel upwards until nearly the end of the toe increases, and then the lace starts. I thought that lace on the toes might be uncomfortable. Vines also zigzag up the sides to join with the simplified leaf pattern above the heel flap on the ankle.

I have to admit that these socks were a stretch for me, in color and in pattern and because I rarely knit lace socks. But they were an enjoyable knit.

Alas they will be one-of-a-kind, because I didn’t take any notes while knitting them.

Java Leaf Socks
Java Leaf Socks

They will be winging their way to my Sockapalooza pal on August 2nd, along with a few other little goodies that my pal might find enjoyable.

The Particulars:

  • Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock (100% Superwash merino/ 4oz, 450yds per skein) in colorway Java — most of one skein.
  • Needles: two 24″ Knitpicks Classic circulars, US#0 (2mm).
  • Pattern: A leaf lace stitch pattern from an old, old book, used with my own standard sock pattern.
  • Techniques used:
    • Knit toe-up, two at a time, on double circulars.
    • I used the Magic Cast On.
    • The heel flap is worked in heel stitch.
    • The cuff is brioche stitch.
    • Kitchener (grafted, tubular) bind-off.

P.S. confidential to Kristie: Yes, my cousin does know exactly how good she’s got it. And she’s fond of reminding me. 😉

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Arabesque shawl


Jubjub Bird Socks


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Peacock Feather Shawl


Honeybee Stole


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Fatigues henley sweater


Jade Sapphire Scarf


#1 Son's Blanket


Cotton Bag