Friday, November 30, 2007

Must. Knit. Socks.

Christmas coming. Can't. Stop.

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That's a jaunty crimson, don't you think? It works really well with
Thuja.

The yarn is Patternworks' Bretton (70% superwash wool, 25% nylon, 5% alpaca). The yarn tends toward splitty. I do, however, love the color.

These are the exact socks a Swedish household elf would wear. Would you like to meet some of my tomte?
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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Two Handsome Socks

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This is what was left of a 360-yard skein of STR Lightweight. It's probably five yards. Not the closest finish ever but close enough for comfort.



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To be fair, Gentleman Socks was written for 1 ball of Trekking XXL (462 yards). The ribbing does scarf up the yardage. These result is a pair of handsome, substantial socks that will throw back their heads and let forth a brawny laugh - ha! - at anything a Wisconsin winter can throw at them.

Yesterday's high was 10 degrees, minus whatever the wind chill factor was. Anything less than 15 degrees seems uncomfortable for beagles. Molly and Jack spent most of yesterday inside, chewing on Dingos and doing this
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and this
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Sunday, November 25, 2007

One Handsome Sock

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One Gentleman Sock down, one to go (as modeled by a daughter who scrunched up the heel in back to fit).

Yes, the sock really is that textured.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I wouldn't go any heavier than lightweight STR, again because of the textured pattern. Any heavier and you'll have a hard time getting on your shoes.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rooster Rock - Who Knew?

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Gentleman Sock in Socks That Rock "Rooster Rock". Approximately the colors of rooster, hence the name of the color, right?

Not so fast. Apparently, there is a state park in Oregon. You can read all about the name those lusty Oregonians use for the socks-optional park here.

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The STR "Rooster Rock" colorway is really and truly splendiferous. The photo above gives you an idea of the sock's construction. It gives you very little idea of the depth and richness of the colors playing off each other. In person, the sock looks Missoni. Talk about the joy of knitting.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Gentleman Socks

I did get up at 4 a.m. this morning but not to shop with the throngs on "Black Friday", the biggest shopping day of the year in the U.S.

I got up to let our two beagle puppies outside. As looney toons as this sounds, I don't mind waking up that early. In fact, very early is my favorite time of day.

Besides, who can resist a face like this?
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This is Jack snuggling the Alpha Male after dinner yesterday.

Or how about this face?
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This is Molly and a friend.

I'd much rather hang out with Jack and Molly than stand in line at BestBuy.

Yesterday after Thanksgiving dinner, I settled in to begin Gentleman Socks.
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What a fun knit! I learned the Right Twist, achieved by k2tog without slipping the stitches off the left needle, then knitting the first stitch on the left and sliding off both. It looks really nice in Socks That Rock "Rooster Rock". Very quickly, the pattern becomes second nature.

This pair will be Christmas socks for Tom. He keeps saying things like, "You know, I really like those socks you knitted for me. So comfortable. Do you think I could get another pair?"

I think he could get several pair, that's what I think.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

My Dishwasher-less Thanksgiving

Remember this, the result of two beagle puppies, a low table, and my carelessness about where I lay down a knitting project?

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I unsnarled the Lang Jawoll Color JAcquard Superwash and finished the socks. Here they be:
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The second I lay the socks down to photograph them, Nala the cat appeared.

And now my tale of woe: we have a brand new Maytag dishwasher, bought mostly with our share of a class-action suit against the Maytag Neptune washing machine. According to the terms of the settlement, the money had to be spent on another Maytag appliance. Our previous Maytag dishwasher quit after six years of normal use but hey, an almost-free dishwasher is an almost-free dishwasher.

The thing quit on October 31, three weeks ago. We have been waaiiiiiiiting for the parts. They came in and our dishwasher was to be fixed today.

Except. 7 a.m., the phone rings. The repairguy's wife had a baby last night.

How dare she! I mean, Congratulations and welcome to the spinning world little baby.

The repairguy can come Friday. I'll tell you one thing: we are so going out for dinner tonight. Tomorrow is another day, fiddle dee dee.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Shopping Local

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How cute is this chocolate truffle? I got four of them - one for each of us - for the Thanksgiving table.

But that was just frosting on the shopping cupcake. Yesterday, my neighbor Mary opened her fancy stationery shop, Paper Doll. It's in a 19th-century building with high stamped-tin ceilings. Mary has painted the walls the blue of a robin's egg and set out a beautiful, ecclectic mix of merchandise.

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My haul. I don't know when I've spent a more fun 15 minutes in a shop.

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Among the booty are deux cahiers ...

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various bird-themed items (it just so happened),

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and the prettiest birthday card I have ever seen (which, coincidentally, also has a bird on it).

Our town is in rural Wisconsin. To now be able to shop for special treats like fancy paper and chocolate without driving miles and miles or going online makes life just that much nicer.

I did get a little work sandwiched in yesterday. These files are the beginning of our next book. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

As for knitting, it's hats, hats, hats. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
The beginning of the cable-trimmed
Coronet.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Hats, Hats, and More Hats

Remember this one?
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Poor Bartholomew Cubbins tries to take off his hat to the king, only to find endless hats on his head.

I'm happy knitting hats just now. They're a quick little snack of a knit and useful, too. Here's the latest, my second
Fake Isle with a modified rise.
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The design on the rise is Border 50 (based on a multiple of 6 stitches, plus 1) in
Scandinavian Knitting Designs by Pauline Chatterton.

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As I mentioned in the last blog entry, we were on Wisconsin Public Radio last Thursday. It was a really fun experience, although Tom and I are not slick with our spiel yet. It's a complex story and hard to boil down to short answers. The host was wonderful. He had read our book carefully and asked good questions. After, we went out to dinner at our favorite restaurant, The Pinewood.

When we got home around 8 p.m., there was a car we did not know in the driveway. It turned out to be our 10th grader's debate team partner who had brought her home after debate practice. So there the two of them were, on the couch, watching tv, no parental unit.

Back to reality!

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Radio Day

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If you're in the Wisconsin Public Radio listening area, Tom and I will be discussing our new book and taking calls late this afternoon. The program runs from 5:00-6:00 p.m. on WLBL 91.9 FM, 930 AM, and WHBM 90.3. Those with a high definition radio can listen on WHRM 90.9 FM high definition channel 2.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

What Would You Like for Christmas?

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The first few repeats of Juliet Scarf from Louisa Harding's Knitting Little Luxuries. The yarn is Fleece Artist Peter Rabbit (70% angora, 20% nylon, 10% wool) in Raspberry. I ordered the yarn from Little Knits and when it arrived, the color seemed so rip-snortingly vivid, in contrast to the yarn's cloud-soft hand. Really, the color is not even tart raspberry but plain old raspberry.

Is Qiviut, the famously expensive muskoxen yarn, even softer than angora? Yarn Market has laceweight qiviut in 12 shades, including Northern Winter (black), Rundra Rust, and Artic Blue Bird. $82.55 plus s/h buys you 218 yards, which would knit up a generous Juliet Scarf.

Rough hands might catch on that qiviut. Better slather them with L'Occitane en Provence's Shea Butter Handcream. $10 plus s/h gets you a 1-oz tube perfect for stashing in a corner of a knitting bag.

Little rings to mark off sections of a lace pattern would come in handy on the knitting of that qiviut scarf. Knitifacts has lots of pretty ones. A set of five little glass flowers and one ladybug on sterling rings is $18 plus s/h.

I keep my knitting notions in a desk from China with many little drawers. Each notion has its own separate drawer. The sharp little thread scissors are in the far right drawer at waist-height. Plastic needles with big eyes for sewing sweater seams are chest-high to the left. Straight knitting needles are in various drawers, arranged according to needle size and whether they are single or double points.

But I have yet to solve the problem of how to store circular needles.
The Organized Knitter has a solution: cases with 12 pockets, each pocket capable of holding more than one set of circular needles. The cases come in bright prints and cost $60 plus s/h each.

Another solution occurs to me: why not dump all those circs into a big bowl? My favorites are from Bennington Potters, say, ($39 plus s/h for a fruit bowl suitable for a small circs collection to $90 for a pasta bowl that could hold a more encyclopedia collection of circs. I have seen that pasta bowl in person and it is enormous.) and the Irish potter Nicholas Mosse who has bowls with handpainted animals in various sizes and prices.

That's my Christmas Wish List. What's yours?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Little Color

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Maybe it's the dank gray of November, but we all needed a little color in our lives this weekend. One of my daughters baked cupcakes.

I knit.
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Fake Isle Hat in Noro Kureyon (but of course!) and some non-descript gray wool. I modified the pattern on the rise to make it a little to make it less heavy and more open. It's a leaf-and-flower pattern to go with the big flower on the crown.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

FO Friday

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Who can buy just one ball of Shokay pure yak down yarn? "Twilight" they call this color. It's more of a deep, rich "Midnight".
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This second photo captures the color and details a little better. The pattern is "Duncan" from Hip Knit Hats by Cathy Carron. The yarn shows off the texture of the horizontal pattern on the rise.

To date, I have knitted five different hats from Hip Knit Hats, three as gifts (like today's FO), two for me. The styles are modern, the directions clear as a bell, and the photographs realistic but inspirational (not so easy to do!).

Yesterday's mail brought
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I love the concept of a book of "beautiful accessories to knit". I love Louisa Harding's work. This book? I like it. I don't love it.

The good: The point-of-view is pretty and feminine. Almost everything can work for a wide range of ages and styles. I have been looking for angora-worthy patterns and there are at least two of them in this book.

I'm not a capelet/shoulderlet fan and there are two, although they are called "wraps". The full, glorious noon of the Capelet Moment is well over, although the capelet flatters only a few. All this said, I actually will make the "Belle" wrap for one of my daughters, it's that pretty and different.

The bad: Gloves, mittens, scarves, hats, purses, little wraps - all are accessories and this is a book of knitted accessories. A cardigan is not an accessory. I don't think a pillow is an accessory, either. And please: beauty comes in sizes other than 34" - 46".

The ugly: Is a tabard an accessory? A tabard walks the line between garment and accessory, probably. When it comes to flattering, the tabard in the book has both feet firmly planted in ugly. The thing has both horizontal stripes and a cable on the diagonal. There is no waist shaping - it's two squares sewn together. There's no photo of the backview with those stripes and that cable across the butt - probably the world isn't ready.

And in non-knitting news ... My husband and I did a presentation/reading of our book at the local public library early this week. We told each other we'd be content with a dozzen people showing up. Then the weather turned colder and we agreed that maybe eight would show. It was more like 50, so we were very happy. It just got better from there: several newspapers in the state carried a story about our presentation and book. This led to an invitation from Wisconsin Public Radio! We'll be on WPR with Glen Moberg and his "Route 51" program next Thursday. If you're in the listening area, tune in Thursday, November 15 at 5pm on 930 AM WLBL, 91.9 FM WLBL and 90.3 FM WHRM.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A Little Beagle Love

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Invisibility Shawl from Charmed Knits in lupine-colored cashmere. Easy, light as a cloud, and soft as a beagle's ears.

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Oops, he moved.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Higher Ground

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That tangled skein of Lang Jawoll? Not so long ago, it was 3/4 of a sock to match the completed one.

Until ...
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Molly and Jack found it. It was 100% my fault. I put it on a lowish occasional table. Live and learn.

No Christmas tree on the floor for us this year. Instead, my husband has ordered a tree-shaped rosemary topiary, small enough to display on top of the dining room table, far from the clutches of little beagles.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Scandihoovian Mittens - Part Deux

We have given you a specific pattern to follow, but you might like to create your own designs. Simply take a piece of graph paper ...and mark the outline of the mitten on the paper. Divide the outline into the palm and back of the mitten ...Then use your imagination and create patterns to fit inside the diagram...
-Tasha Tudor, directions for Patterned Mittens in Tasha Tudor's Old-Fashioned Gifts (New York: David McKay Company, Inc., 1979).


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Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Very Mitteny and Chocolatey Birthday to You

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I'm getting ready for my Thomasina's 18th birthday party tonight. The cake is done and thank heavens for that Pam with flour in it when you use a bundt pan, don't you agree? This is her favorite spiced-up honey cake made with a total of 1 3/4 cups local Wisconsin honey. The recipe is from the wonderful cookbook Staffmeals by Chanterelle's David Waltuck.

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Shhhh! a pair of mittens blocking in the closet. My daughter is a senior in high school, applying to college. These mittens, with their snowflakes and tall pines and squirrels and a dog that came out looking more like a cat, will remind her of the snow and tall pines and squirrels and dogs and cats of home. The mittens are 75% Squirrelly Swedish Mittens and 25% Tasha Tudor's Patterned Mittens.

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These be supplies for tonight's surprise chocolate-tasting party. I ran across the idea at Hershey Chocolate's fancy schmancy site for its Cacao Reserve label. They have a mystery party all ready to go and free, too. I decided to up the chocolate ante with Scharffen Berger, Josef Schmidt, and Dagoba.

A person only turns 18 once.