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. 😉

Food |Knitting |On The Road |Sockapaloooza by Judy @ 9:04 AM

You will note from the Sidebar Of Shame that the Sockapalooza Java Leaf socks are completely, 100% finished. I really love these socks, but I was ready to have them off my needles. Because so much other lovely sock yarn has been coming my way lately. And it’s been calling to me.

Calling loudest was the Koigu I picked up last Sunday at the PDX Knit Bloggers meet-up. Although it was safely stored away in it’s designated stash bin, I could hear it banging against the sides trying to get out, and I could hear a faint voice crying I know what I want to be so let me out and I’ll show you! I know how yarn can be. It… prevaricates, shall we say? OK. Sometimes it downright lies. But I, a trusting and naive soul, am ever ready to be led astray by a pretty face and an insistence that it knows what’s best.

I swatched the Koigu. It lied. But I’m swatching some more because it is lovely and I want to knit with it. It sucked me in, all right.

Pics of the Java Leaf socks tomorrow, when it should be cool enough to go outside and take some. And I’ll report on the Kiogu swatching progress also. But first… (drum roll please)… Boston.

Nahant beach
Nahant beach

This beach lies just across the street from my cousins’ home. I’m not kidding. Directly across the street. This is the view that they get up to every morning and go to bed to every night. There are much worse things to look at, I’m thinking.

That is my muggle cousin Margaret, strolling along the beach and picking up a few of the shells that are literally strewn about everywhere. I walked on this beach every day. It was wonderful!

But yarn called.

Thanks to everyone who sent suggestions of places to visit. I only had one afternoon in the city, and since we rode the T (that’s what Bostonians call their subway), I tried to pick out the ones that were closest to T stops. So that was a little limiting. I would have loved to have made it out to Webs. Maybe next time.

Windsor Buttons
Windsor Buttons

First up, Windsor Buttons.

I wish I could show you a picture of the inside of this shop, but all of the ones I took were totally craptastic and would in no way represent how fun this store actually is. They have an entire wall of button. Can you imagine? A whole wall.

And the other side of the store is all yarn. Lots of yarn. More yarn than it at first appears. I kept turning corners and finding yarn stuck away in a little nook or cranny that I didn’t expect.

I tried valiantly to limit my purchases to only yarn that I can’t get easily at home. At Windsor I mostly succeeded.

But I did point out the Seasilk to Margaret.

Me, stroking a hank of Seasilk or two: Look at this suff. Can you believe it’s made of silk and kelp?

Margaret, from a distance: No! Really? It’s pretty.

Me, holding out a skein: You really need to feel this, to see how lovely it is.

Margaret, touching the tip of one finger briefly to yarn: Yes. Very nice.

Woman Behind Windsor Counter: Don’t you love Seasilk! It smells so good! So… sea-like.

Me: Oh, yes!

Margaret: Eh?

It’s OK. She’s a muggle, but willing to venture into unknown territory.

Woolcot Yarn
Woolcot Yarn

The other shop I visited was Woolcott and Company.

I had a wonderful time browsing amongst all the yarn here. This picture is craptastic, also, but it’s unfortunately the best I took.

Do you see that pink lace shawl hanging over the counter in the back? That is one of the most gorgeous pieces of lacework I’ve ever seen. I really, really, really wanted that pattern. But Sean said that he is absolutely unable to keep it in stock, because everybody else wants it, too. It just walks out the door. And he had sold the last copy he had only that morning.

No, I don’t remember the name of the pattern. But I want it. Badly.

Remember… This was a pink object, and I was ga-ga over it. Yeah. It was that good.

I didn’t do as well at Woolcott in sticking to my resolve to buy only yarns not available locally. But… I was pretty good.

The picture is not so good because I realized as I was snapping it that it was getting late and Sean was trying to close, and, having made my purchaes, he probably would be OK with me actually leaving. 🙄 Although, to be fair, Sean was very nice and offered to take a picture of me in the shop. Not with my hair like this, I replied without even thinking. Sean giggled and thanked me for coming in.

Boston yarn pr0n
Boston yarn pr0n

And here is the obligatory yarn pr0n.

On the left, both from Windsor Buttons: Claudia in Navy Olive; and Schaefer Anne in a colorway that’s olive, gold, rust and berry.

To the right, all from Woolcott: Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Tamarack (yes, I know I can get this at home, but it was so pretty and it talked to me, and we’ve already established that I have no resistance); Schaefer Anne in muted greens; and Woolcott & Co. silk/cashmere cobweb-weight that I think will probably be like knitting with clouds. I have 1326m of the last (about 1450 yds) and I’m looking for just the right project.

Video not available

Finally, I can’t resist sharing the Nahant fireworks with you. The fireworks are held every year on the beach that’s directly across from my cousins’ home. So naturally they invite friends over and gather on their porch to watch.

The menu included guacamole (my contribution), lobster rolls (yum), a wonderful broccoli salad, Ceasar salad, fruit salad and canolis (to counteract all of the healthy stuff).

The film was shot with my little camera — the same one that takes all of the pictures I show here — and represents less than 1/4 of the actual fireworks show. I would have had more, but I was so captivated by the display that I didn’t think to turn the camera on most of the time. I think it does pretty well on film of the good-enough-for-youtube variety. You can hear the crowd down on the beach, and cheers and comments from my fellow porch-sitters. At one point you will hear yours truly, in one of my more brilliant utterances, exclaim, “oh! oh!” to apparently nothing.

Knitting |On The Road |Sockapaloooza by Judy @ 8:18 AM
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Am I the only one in the world who thought it was totally reasonable to assume that, if the flight numbers of two different legs of a trip were the same, the plane making that trip was also the same?

Apparently I was the only one surprised when that turned out not to be the case.

Was assuming that, should an unexpected plane change be necessary, that the airlines would make the effort to have the receiving and loading gates next to each other instead of all the way across the %@#& airport as far as one can possibly go?

Apparently I was the only one surprised by that, also.

Here’s hoping that the return trip does not have similar surprises.

The good news is that I’m here, and I was almost on time. Also, long plane trips afford one a bunch of knitting time, so progress was made on the java leaf socks. I also have with me the Pacific Northwest shawl and more sock yarn (of course).

I have the list of Boston area LYS that you all provided, and I’m rarin’ to go!

I have no way to get pictures out of my camera and into this computer (borrowed). But I promise there will be pictures when I return! Keep the home fires burning. 😎

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