Monday, December 31, 2007

A Lace Club Membership

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Socks That Rock Lightweight, Mystic Kelp colorway, Fluted Fabric Stitch (A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker, p. 23)

So yesterday was our 19th wedding anniversary. It was mid-morning and I was reading
ravelry. Someone had bumped up a thread about Make One Yarn Studio's Year-of-Lace Club. How I have thought about - yearned for! - this subscription club! "Every three months, a package containing luxury yarn and an original pattern by leading designers will arrive at your door."

It just makes you want to press the cooling back of your hands to your fevered cheeks, it's so enticing.

You have to pay up front, without seeing anything. The surprise is kind of the point. But $250 ... it's a lot of money.

There I was, reading the ravelry thread, desire like a rock inside me, and over my choking, beating heart, I said in a broken whisper, "I wish I could have this."

My husband in the next room heard me. That was not my intention. But he heard me, came in the room, and gave me the membership. Who was I to pretend a stiff dignity?

Yes, Tom is a wonderful man and if people misunderstand when I say I belong to a lace club, let 'em. ;-)

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Just One of Those Things

Oh yes, I did.
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I frogged the Filigree Cardigan. The large scale of the lace was bothering me. A lot.

The longer the cardigan grew, the more the vine lace on #9s resembled an afghan. On short me, it was going to look like a Frankencardi - like I'd remade an afghan into a cardigan.

Maybe if I'd given it more of a chance ... nah. My soul rejoiced as I frogged that thing, I tell you.

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My friend Steph sent Molly and Jack a treat of two fuzzy balls, a bag of peanut butter dog treats, and ...

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a kong! A kong is a hollow rubber dog toy. You can stuff a dog treat into the hollow. The fun for the dog is to figure out how to get the treat out.

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This kong smells like mint. That's not mint inside, though.

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It's one of the peanut butter dog biscuits from the set! Jack loves dog biscuits but he is not the dominant one of the pair.

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Molly is. Tough luck, Jack me boy. Molly has the kong.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

A Potential Candidate for the Slogalong

Somewhere between love and hate lies the Filigree Lace Jacket.
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What the problem is not:

1. It's not the endless rows, 220 stitches strong each. The rows may be long but the needles are big (#9s). This knits up quickly.

2. It's not the mindless vine lace. Vine lace is one of those Gifts to Knitters. To the uninitiated it looks complex. To the rest of us, it looks like one easily-memorized row of *yo, ks, ssk, k2 tog, k2, yo, k1, separated by rows of straight purling.

3. It's not that so far it looks nothing like a cardigan and everything like an afghan.

What the problem is:

The little bar chart on the front of the pattern rates the skill level required as ...

(This is where we do that annoying hesitation before the reveal, like on the reality shows.)

To review: vine lace - on #9s. Cardigan/jacket body knit in one piece, sleeves knit separately and sewn in. The choices for skill level are: beginner, intermediate, experienced, and advanced.

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Did you pick intermediate? If you did, we'd both be wrong.

And now for the big reveal. The little bar chart on the front of the pattern rates the skill level required as advanced.

Uh oh. I look at that sweater and I just don't see where the advanced set of skills come in. I study the pattern and I don't see it, either.

Is there a surprise lurking in a back alleyway of this pattern? Is it waiting to lunge? Waiting to howl, "Gotcha!"?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Filigree Cardigan

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Everything for Christmas is done but the baking of cookies and the wrapping of presents. With the cookies, I have promoted my daughters to Chief Cookie Bakers and demoted myself to knitting in another room.

As for the present wrapping ... ugh. Hate it. Loathe it. In an effort to avoid it, I even sprang for fancy store wrapping this year - $5 a pop at Sundance and $7 at Neiman Marcus. The NM boxes come with chartreuse satin ribbon and a little enameled frame as a package ornament. Note to self: they start giving away the free gift wrapping in early December. Next year, wait to shop until then.

Since my Christmas knitting is done, I cast on last night for
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Filigree Lace Jacket from White Lies Designs. I bought the kit. It's the first knitting kit I've ever purchased and comes with plenty of skeins of Cascade Yarns Sierra (80% pima cotton, 20% merino wool). The combination of the #9 needles and the yarn give a rustic feel. That will make the resulting lacey cardigan that much less fussy and that much more wearable.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Socks and Sandals

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River Rapids socks in Socks That Rock Lightweight, colorway Korppi.

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Molly's reaction?
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"Socks and sandals are more of a European mathematician look than you can handle," she says.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Stash Flash, Subsection: Sock Yarns

In September, I indulged in retail therapy, yarn-style. Somehow, buying a lot of sock yarn was going to make me feel better about the illness and death of this blog's namesake, Suzy the beagle.

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Since then, I have been knitting away at the sock yarn, putting together a Christmas present of socks, socks, socks for Tom. Of the original grief purchase, only the navy Soxx Appeal and the variegated greens Austerman Step remain. The three Socks That Rock and the variegated blues Regia Bamboo are recent additions.

As a recent convert to sock knitting, I have limited experience with sock yarns. So far, Socks That Rock lightweight is my favorite. If I won the lottery, I'd stock up on sunscreen, sit on a tropical beach in red bouffant hair and an evening dress, and knit up STR lightweight in every color.

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Since I haven't won the lottery, I'll content myself with trying out as many colors of STR as possible. To that end, meet Korppi ...
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It's eggplant and pine overdyed with black, making charcoal with flecks of purple and dark green. It would be a nice choice both for someone conservative and a goth. How often does that happen?
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Sock Bug's River Rapids Socks. Don't let the 16-row lace pattern throw you. Ten of those rows are *p1, k6, p1, repeat.
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Monday, December 17, 2007

Meanwhile, Backstage ...

Strike the pose, kid.
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Hold it so I can take a close-up. We have to show off the Thuja Socks in Lorna's Laces Seaside. Gosh, I love the way the colors pool. Don't you love the way the colors -
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Stay still so I can take the photos!
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Keep still, I said!
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And to show that my daughter isn't just a pair of pretty socks, here is the Bûche de Noël she and her friend made this weekend, complete with meringue mushrooms and a frosting they invented using two jars of Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread. The cake went verrrry carefully to school this morning to be entered in a French Club contest.
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Friday, December 14, 2007

Dog Collars, Mascara, Nutella, That Cute Shirt, A Magazine, Bubblebath, Swiffers, A Christmas Table Cloth ...

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Target run! I have a short shopping list. It's exactly three items: two dog collars and mascara. Of course, everyone knows that's it's laughing in the face of every marketing tool and trick. Is it even possible to get out of Target without extra items? Go in for paper cups, come out with $60 worth of miscellaneous merchandise, right. Target is temptation - that's just an immutable Law of Shopping, particularly since they added that dollar section and particularly since I love to browse their Christmas wrapping paper.

At least Target doesn't carry quality yarn. That would be fatal.

Yesterday's mail brought a third skein of rrrrred Breton yarn from Patternworks. This allowed the finishing of a pair of Thuja socks.
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Like I say, the exact socks a Swedish elf would wear. If he had size 11 men's feet, that is.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Christmas Fiddle Faddle - 100% EZ-Free

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We're putting this photo in with our Christmas cards this year.

Are you getting tired of holiday music everywhere? I was trapped in a dentist's waiting room the other day, waiting for one of my daughters, forced to listen to really bad holiday music. It was Stevie Nicks' version of "Silent Night" followed by Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton's duet of "Baby, It's Cold Outside", then the weirdest holiday recording out there, the Bing Crosby/David Bowie duet. Two of the hippest white guys in the history of the world and the song they record? "Little Drummer Boy".



Maybe you're like me and old enough to remember when that first aired. It was a Bing Crosby Christmas special that actually aired shortly after he died. David Bowie was a huge star, of course, but hardly ever on tv in this pre-MTV era. We wanted to see him do "Jean Genie" but we got him (no makeup and in a suit!) with Bing Crosby in a cardigan?

We haven't done any holiday baking at all. All that is changing this weekend. My younger daughter and a friend are entering a Bûche de Noël cake contest at the high school. Now, we have made the meringue mushrooms that often decorate such a cake but we have never, ever made this cake ourselves. It's a génoise cake rolled jelly-roll style with chocolate buttercream frosting. We have the jelly-roll pan. We have the ingredients. Do we have the woman power? I'll let you know.

The Juliet Scarf is off the needles. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket This is one project I'm sorry to see come to an end, not so much for the pattern but for the softer-than-soft Peter Rabbit yarn. Most things I give away. This one is for me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Juliet Scarf

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Angora, soft as thistle down - no, softer! Soft as a cloud! No, how about soft as a beagle ear? This is Fleece Maiden Peter Rabbit (70% Angora, 20% Nylon 10% Wool) in a raspberry pink.

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Makes you want to fondle fiber, doesn't it? Peter Rabbit is a dream to work with and doesn't seem to shed, the way some other angora blends might.

It's the Juliet Scarf from Louisa Harding's new book.
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The lace is straightforward and knits quickly on #8s. It will be finished with a rosette.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

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This is quiet knitting, the kind you do when you're alone. Right now, Molly and Jack are sleeping it off after a visit to the vet. Just routine shots but the doctor also gives a hit of Benadryl to prevent the allergic reaction of last time.
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bringing Color to Winter, One Sock at a Time

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Molly and Jack have a woobie. It's just an old Target recycled-soda-bottle throw but boy, does it throw a left hook of color.

Outdoors, it's whites, grays, browns, pine green with the occasional flash of red from a cardinal. Look closely and you'll see two beagles in the snow.

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Whites. Grays. Browns. Pine green. Cardinal red. From the first snowfall in late October to the first crocus in mid-April, that's our palette. Color is key in the war against the winter blahs.




Speaking of plastic bottles, I enlisted a Listerine bottle to help show you the texture of a Thuja sock. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (80% superwash wool, 20% nylon) in Seaside.

I am a fan of color pooling. The boldness and surprise are part of the fun.
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Tom has gotten to the point where he doesn't find readymade socks comfortable anymore. Fortunately, I am happy to oblige. The other day I caved and gave him one of the pairs stowed away for Christmas. These are the Gentleman Socks in STR Rooster Rock. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Love the play of color a sock brings to a boring winter shoe and a khaki pant.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Lace Knitting, Take Me Away!

Remember the old "Calgon, take me away!" commercials?

Yesterday was difficult. The calming, meditative aspect of knitting came to the rescue. I managed a couple of pattern repeats on my active lace project.
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This is Juliet Scarf from Louisa Harding's Knitting Little Luxuries. The yarn is Fleece Artist's Peter Rabbit in a raspberry pink. It's a quirky little pattern that knits up quickly on #8s.

My inactive lace project is a Kimono Shawl in Sea Silk, blackberry colorway.
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I absolutely love this - love the pattern, love the fiber, love the colors - but shoved it aside for Christmas knitting. It's almost time to pick it up again.

As predicted, the beagle puppies are having a much better day today. It has warmed to 20 degrees with some new snow. That's warm enough to romp outside, then come in, warm up, and snooze.

I promise you: I'm putting these projects waaaay up high and training the puppies not to climb.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Molly and Jack starring in DOUBLE TROUBLE

It's 5 below 0. The beagle puppies have cabin fever.

What to do, what to do? Hey, let's steal the cat's toys!
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Now let's creep upstairs, get into the acrylic paint and track it on the furniture, all in the space of no more than two minutes!
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How about practicing what we figured out how to do yesterday - leaping onto tables?
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Let's help with the dishes now!
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Are you tired yet? We aren't!

This post dedicated to the memory of the Hanami scarf I started a couple of days ago. Now I know the beagles can jump onto the dining room table. R.I.P., dearly beloved.
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Are Molly and Jack worth it? Yes. A break in the weather will come. We will get outdoors and run off steam. The puppies are still learning what's expected of them. Tomorrow is another day.