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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Diversionary Tactics

I am absolutely not good at forcing myself to do things I don't want to do, like cleaning, for example. I HATE to clean. So, I am getting ready for some houseguests, and between tiny fits of cleaning, I reward myself with episodes of Law and Order or checking my email. Doing this post is my reward for the 8:00pm hour.

I finished my primary Sea Socks project, Amy Singer's Tuscany Shawl, last week and I am pretty happy with the end result. The Kraemer Silk and Sterling is a bit sparkly, but not too overwhelming and it blocked out beautifully. I hope to have a picture of it "in action" by the time we return from the cruise.

In only tangentially related news, I got Moo Cards. They are most adorable. I'm not entirely jazzed about the two with the miter squares and the hats, but I am enough in love with the monkey one and the sheep to make up for it. I adore the somewhat quaint idea of modern-day calling cards.

I am a little sad to be missing MDS&W this year. My niece and her family no longer live in the DC area so it's harder to justify, especially since I just returned from one fiber excursion and about to embark on another. I know my niece wishes we could go again. Maybe next year...
Bah, I must get back to the inevitable lest I be up half the night. Ick.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Stop talking about that cake camp!*

*Apologies to Lili Tomlin.

I learned some really cool things at camp, but one thing sticks out in my mind as an Oprahfied "ah ha!" moment. Say you are knitting along with a lovely striping yarn like, um, I dunno, Socks That Rock. Things are great because you've gotten gauge for the pattern AND the yarn isn't pooling. You knit and knit and knit and then you get to the heel. You start your heel flap, blissfully going along as before. You finish all of the heel stuff (turning the heel, picking up stitches, making the gusset) and get back to business knitting around the foot. THEN YOU SEE IT. There in front of you is a big, honking sideways V (> or <) right at the top of the foot. How did this happen? The yarn was striping before. IT MUST BE THE YARN!!! SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THE #@&*^ YARN! GAH! IT'S TINA'S FAULT!!!** Take a deep breath and stop pointing fingers 'cause there is an explanation. If you do a traditional heel flap with striping yarn, you will inevitably get one of these : < >. It's true. I have found some great examples of lovely socks that demonstrate this phenomenon exquisitely. Here are the Flickr links:

See the >? So, if you don't want >, don't make a heel flap; do a short row heel instead. But maybe you already knew that. Sorry, just catching up here. I don't know why, but I thought that was fascinating. I guess that makes me a sock geek. (Yeah, like that writing wasn't already on the wall.)

Here is a link to my abridged Flickr set of photos from the week:

The alpacas were at Krystal Acres Farm in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. We went there the day before travelling to Orcas Island for camp.

**It's not Tina's (Newton, owner of Blue Moon Fiber Arts) fault, by the way. Don't like the way your STR is pooling? Change your needle size. Do some experimentation with gauge. You will be able to get it to stripe--promise.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Reporting from Camp Crow's Feet

First off, let me start by thanking the travel gods--and their minions at American Airlines--for granting my wishes. Our flights and connections were perfect. Whew.

Having never gone to sleep-away camp as a kid, Sock Camp was a taste of what it must be like. There were contests and relays and crafts and skits (yup. skits.) and even a camp song. There were things that cannot be explained to the outside world. Much of what happens at Sock Camp should stay at Sock Camp.

Craft Day produced Sock Monkeys. Mine is the monkey on my back, My Stash. (Yes, that is a teeny, tiny American Express card.)

Cat Bordhi, The Yarn Harlot, Tina Newton (owner of Blue Moon) and Cockeyed (one of the Sockateers) proving that you can knit with turkey basters. I'm not sure why you'd want to, but they did.

It all started with the homework assignment: make a toilet paper roll cozy. I never in my wildest dreams imagined I would ever make/need/use one. Frankly, there isn't much in my life that needs a cozy of any sort. Nonetheless, I happily took on the task.

My Hanging Pot for the Potty, complete with fuzzy caterpillar.

While I was pleased with my end product (yes, I know there is a pun to be found there), I was certain that there would be works of sheer art, cleverness, and great brilliance.

The House of Flusher. Edgar Allen Poo has just released The Tell-Tale Fart.

Stephen of the Y Knit podcast made a Crapotis. Kate Gilbert would be so proud.

The sock-knitting octopus was the hit of the evening.

It would take several posts to fully describe the camp experience, but here are some highlights:

  • Not surprisingly, Cat Bordhi is a genius. What I didn't know is that she is also funny, charming, approachable, warm, quirky, and silly. She joins Sally Melville on the list of women I have a knitting crush on.

  • Tina Newton and her merry bunch of crack dealers Sockateers are the hardest working women in the yarn business. Planning a large event with lots of moving parts is hard, hard work. Not once did I see them gripe or grumble. They were unfailingly cheerful and helpful and incredibly nice. While we were there for a good time, they were there to work, yet it always seemed like they were having as much fun as we were. I liked Blue Moon's product before, but I now have a connection to the people who design, dye, skein, label and ship it. They are a fabulous bunch of women; buy their crack yarn.

  • I have had the experience of overhearing a conversation of businesspeople passionately discussing issues in their field. Whether it be medical or engineering or manufacturing or architectural in nature, because I don't know the lingo, it feels like they are speaking in a foreign tongue. For five days, I was among knitters. I understood the language and spoke it fluently. There was great freedom in that.

  • I got to spend quality time with Toni Neil of The Fold. She has always been very helpful when I have seen her at shows and, in particular, when I went out to her shop for a spinning lesson. That day, she spent three hours with me, helping me to take my wheel apart, and even calling Louet for advice. She went above and beyond. Spending time with her as a fellow camper was a delight. People, I saw Toni buy yarn. She owns an amazing shop that carries Blue Moon, yet she bought yarn. I have already used (and, I'm sure, will use again) that fact as a justification for my own yarn purchases.

Scary stash acquisition photo. Bad stash monkey.

  • (A)If you needle felt a sock monkey in public, you may scare the non-knitters who think you are performing voodoo. (B)You can do voodoo on a sock monkey. Ask Chappy.

My friend, Liz, and I had a great time. We met many interesting women (and Stephen!) who have so much talent and enthusiasm for fiber. It was an inspirational experience that will stay with me.

There is so much more, but that's a start. I will be uploading pics to Flickr over the next few days and will post the link when I do.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Friendly Skies

An Open Letter to American Airlines and the FAA

Dear People in Charge of My Flight:

Many weeks ago, I booked my flight from Chicago to Seattle on American. I had other options, but I chose American due to a decent fare, departure and arrival times that worked for my schedule, and the fact that the MD-80 gave us the option of a two-seat row. Well, as you know, American had been having some, um, challenges this week. Listen, I am a girl who has experienced just about every flight delay that one can. I have been stuck overnight twice, have been on a plane on the tarmac for over 3 hours (which later resulted in being stuck overnight), have been taken to an alternate airport and bused 2 hours in a driving thunderstorm to my actual destination holding a cat that belonged to a woman in a wheelchair who had to sit at the front of the bus but the driver was allergic and wasn't going to let the cat on so I intervened and took the cat to the back. (This happened after I not-so-politely informed the airline representative that one coach bus was not going to hold the entire planeload of passengers they were trying to transport. "Do the math!," I told him over and over. Yeah, I was pretty cranky.) I have been on a plane that pulled away from the gate only to return due to a mechanical issue and we were going to miss our connection. After checking, a flight attendant told us to get off the plane and go to a different gate where we could get on another flight, this one non-stop. As we exited the plane, we checked with the gate attendant who confirmed that we would be able to get on that plane, no problem. Upon arrival at said gate, we were told the flight was full and we could not get on. In the pre-911 days, you could stand up to the airlines without fear of arrest, so I asked for a supervisor who also told me that they could not accommodate us. I explained that not one but two AA employees had told us we would be able to get on the flight--in fact, had told us to get off the flight we were on--and that he needed to fix the situation. His response was "You have problem." I explained to him that if TWO AA employees instructed me to get off a plane and that I would be able to get on a different plane, that became his problem. He resisted. I did not back down. Eventually, they went on the plane, paid two volunteers to get off, and we got on. That would not happen in today's flying climate. Anyhoo, you can see that I have run the gauntlet. I have paid my travel dues. Soooooo...what I am asking is that you let one certain little MD-80 leave Chicago on Sunday bound for Seattle. Is that too much to ask? After all, I'm just a kid who wants to get to (sock) camp and you wouldn't want to disappoint a kid, would you?

A (hopefully) happy camper

PS. Could you guys also let the TSA know that the knitting needles in my bags are not an issue. Seriously, what could I do with a needle that the guy in 14B couldn't do with a Bic pen. Except turn a heel.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

You Doubt My Self-Diagnosed OCD? Here's Proof...

Six, count 'em, six Lady Detective Hats since February 12. And I have yet to wear one out of the house. Hmmm...

All are made with Noro Iro (scored for about 40-50% off on Ebay and Little Knits) except the last one. That was the priciest, made with Zitron Unikat and Manos Silky Blend bought retail at a LYS in PA. All trims (buttons and vintage buckles) were from the stash.

Vested Interest

I've got several things on needles, some of which cannot be shown yet, but I do have and FO to display. I was attracted to the Back-to-School U-Neck Vest in Fitted Knits as soon as I saw it. I had some stash yarn that was originally intended to be another vest, one I wanted to translate from this Anthropologie item of a few winters ago. Well, that didn't happen, and the yarn (Harrisville Orchid Line, now discontinued), needed to be re purposed.

I did a fair amount of studying on Ravelry, noting mods and looking at fit. The key to this looking good, it seemed, was to make sure that the horizontal rows in the middle hit just below the bust and that the straps were narrowed.

I finished it and wore it on Friday. I noticed that when I sit, I get a crease in the ribbing that stays there. Weird. I contemplated taking a scissor to the bottom and shortening it to that point, but then I think it would be too short. Bah. Otherwise, it is okay.

I'm planning on doing this again with Cascade 220, the original pattern yarn. Next time I think I will only do one purl ridge around the armholes, making the straps a bit more narrow.
I leave for Sock Camp next Sunday. I am pretty excited, though I am a bit nervous. I'm not really sure why since I've never had a problem picking up a technique in a class before. Maybe it's because I have fallen off the sock wagon a bit lately. I've been more interested in larger projects, and I haven't done any work on a sock since I started a pair of Nutkins after the holidays. I hope to have lots of great pics from my week in WA.