Let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him. (Oswalt Chambers)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I Miss Knitting For CIC

Many of my readers have knit for CIC, some after reading about it here on Stitches of Violet.

Unfortunately there is no longer a good way to get our handknits to the kids in Eastern Europe and CIC is no longer accepting donations.

Knitting for the kids was a pleasure for me and I'm sad about this.

For those who are interested in more detail, the following is a letter CIC_Knit List Mom Elizabeth sent to the list. I have Elizabeth's permission to duplicate and post it here.
Hello, everyone:

If you've been knitting for CIC for a long time, and have been on this list for a while, you will have noticed that the challenge projects haven't been as big, or as frequent. . . the sad but true situation is that it's getting harder and harder to adopt from Russia, and with fewer people traveling, fewer sweaters, pairs of socks, etc can be delivered. When we first started this list, parents were traveling every week; last year, only 6 Russian kids came home to the U.S. through Adoptions Together.

For the past several years, we've donated September through December to knitting for other groups. And you've been wonderful, and made such a difference. . . by all means, keep knitting for any of those that inspire you. Sadly, the need is always there. But we've been able to do less and less for CIC on what is, after all, a CIC list.

The good news is that the job training programs and independent living education that CIC has set up in some of the orphanages for the older kids are having great results! Kids are making the transition to "real life" and have been able to find employment. It sounds like a small thing, but it's not -- it's essentially saved those lives. Unfortunately, those programs require funds, not socks from us. Currently, Project Independence serves 200 children in the various stages of preparing for life after the orphanage. There is an administrator, a social worker and a psychologist on staff. To grow the program and serve more kids, more staff must be hired. Until then, CIC will continue to serve 200, filling spots as kids graduate from job training programs and become employed. Even one child having an option other than crime or the streets is wonderful. CIC is making some difference, helping some children not be part of the 90% of deinstitutionalized kids that within two years, are in jail, on the street or dead.

So as far as the CIC list, we're going to have to start doing things differently. But we urge all of you to stay subscribed, and keep your eyes open. Here's a list of some of the changes:

1. Starting immediately, do not send *ANY* knitted items to the Adoptions Together office. In the future, specific requests that go out on the list will have specific addresses associated with that call for items. 2. If you find any publication or Internet source that lists CIC/Adoptions Together as needing donations, please let me or Karen Porter know so we can get in touch with them and explain the situation. 3. There will still be opportunities to send warm clothing, but they will be sporadic, and will come and go quickly. Karen may get to go again, or sometimes medical personnel are traveling and tell Karen they can take X number of pounds of donations. . . these projects will have a quick turnaround time, and we will post the opportunities--and due dates-- to this list immediately! 4. If you, for whatever reason, are totally committed to providing items to "our" orphanages, there's a list in our files of addresses, and you are welcome to mail things yourself. Be aware that (a) it's expensive and (b) there's the chance your gifts won't get there.

Finally. Karen writes: "Thank you all for your warm, enthusiastic, and loving devotion to these kids. Children in Common continues to grow and help more kids each year. As times change, so does CIC's ability to fill needs. For now, the only efficient way to help the kids is to fund programs for the older children and to buy items locally as needed. When I and others travel, in addition to hand carrying items, we take cash and buy or arrange for purchase when there. CIC also wires funds as needed for specific needs as they arise. We will continue to do everything we can, and hope to be sending things over with travelers soon. Until then, know that each stitch in every item has been a blessing, proof that you love the children of the world, whether you know their names, see their faces or ever meet them. Your gifts have warmed children. Your grace illuminates the world. Thank you."


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Purple BonBons Finished

Mom's second pair of purple socks were done, wrapped, and under her tree on Christmas Eve.

Once again I only did a five inch cuff for her and she says it's just right.

Multiple commenters with a better imagination than mine were quick to point out that the stitch pattern imitates wrapped candies.

It's so obvious now that I know. Thanks everyone.

While hunting for a BonBon picture on Google, I learned BonBon is French for "good, good", and is used for many different types of sweets and candy. The type of BonBon depicted by this stitch pattern is a sweet wrapped in paper twisted at one end or both ends.

I found the stitch pattern in Vogue Knitting Stitchionary 2. It's basically a knit 8, purl 3 rib. When stretched a little, the cables contract and pull in and the stockinette sections flair out giving a rich, wavy look to the pattern.

After being asked to share, I found a free version of the BonBon stitch pattern complete with words, chart, and clear picture here.

Pattern: Stitch pattern 128 BonBons from Vogue Knitting Stitchionary 2, Cables. Knit cuff down on 66 stitches.

Stitch pattern online here: BonBon Cable.

Yarn: Stalwart Sock from Slackford Studio. 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon 4 Ply Fingering Weight Sock Yarn.

Color: Dusk to Dawn.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch in stockinette.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas 2009

Merry Christmas to all my Christian readers and those of Christian heritage.

Happy Holidays to the rest.

Picture by Corliss Elizabeth Williams.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Purple Bon Bons

This stitch pattern from the Vogue Knitting Stitchionary 2 - Cables is called Bonbons for some reason I can't imagine.

I'm hoping it qualifies under Mom's request for "simple" purple socks.

It's basically a knit 8, purl 3 rib. When stretched a little, the cables contract and pull in and the stockinette sections flair out giving a rich, wavy look to the pattern.

The cable crosses are only four stitches each, so there isn't a lot of distorting pull like there would be with an eight stitch cable cross. That's why I though the pattern might make attractive socks, and it didn't disappoint.

Pattern: Stitch pattern 128 BonBons from Vogue Knitting Stitchionary 2, Cables. Knit cuff down on 66 stitches.

Yarn: Stalwart Sock from Slackford Studio. 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon 4 Ply Fingering Weight Sock Yarn.

Color: Dusk to Dawn.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch in stockinette.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chat Back on December 19

Answering questions from comments and email.

Jean asked (about the Little Shell Rib Socks). . .
The pattern looks delicate, I wonder if they would work if knitted with cotton sock yarn for summer?
It should work as well as any other stitch pattern and better than most.

I may try it on Sister Carrie's Panda Cotton socks for her April birthday.

Leslie T. asked . . .
I love the little shell rib socks. I have tried several times to print out the stitch pattern you give but every time I do the text looks like Greek or Russian...the headings are fine. Any suggestions?
It requires someone geekier than me to explain what is happening. I can't reproduce the problem.

I did copy and paste the stitch pattern into an email and send it to Leslie.

Dorothy asked (about these mitts). . .
I notice that a gauge is not given. Andean treasure is sport weight, right? I know that fingerless mitts in sock weight fit me at the same gauge and stitches as socks (about 56). I'm wondering if 60 stitches would be too big in sport weight or if the cables really do draw in that much.
Andean Treasure is sport weight. The Andean Treasure used in the mitts was frogged from tightly knit and laundered swatches so it was squished thin. The mitts were knit with #2 needles. I can't even guess at a gauge with the k2p2 ribbing.

The ribbing makes them very elastic. When at rest, not stretched out on my hands, they only measure 2.5 inches across. My hands are small (Size S store bought gloves, size 5 ring) and they fit nice. The cable pulls in a little at the wrist, but not much.

It would be easy to eliminate 4 stitches if you need to make the mitts smaller.

Lynn asked . . .
So is it wrong that I'm planning a trip to SEE snow in Jan?!?!
Not at all. Snow is always nice for a few days. Especially if you can arrange not to get snowbound at the airport or on the highway.

I'd love to go somewhere and get warm in January. Bermuda comes to mind.

I was there 40 years ago and it was so beautiful, sunny, and warm. Has anyone been there recently? Is it still a nice place to vacation? I never hear of anyone going there anymore.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sunshine and Snores

Yesterday we had some sun, not a common sight in Michigan winter.

It's a little cold to roll around on the snow covered, frozen ground outside, so Pappy just pretended he was outdoors.

Last night I sat down to knit and fell asleep with the knitting in my hands.

Tonight was doggy school so there's been no knitting so far. This is going to be short and sweet so I can get in some knitting time before falling asleep.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Little Shell Rib Socks Finished

This was an easy, quick, fun stitch pattern with lovely results. I'll definitely use it again for myself and for gift socks.

A close up of the Lilac Swirl colorway.

And, a close up of the Little Shell Rib stitch pattern.

The original pattern is written for 56 stitches with a multiple of seven stitches. I knit on 64 stitches with a multiple of eight stitches by introducing a purl column between the two knit columns. This modification turns it into a ribbing pattern for snugger, better fit.

Pattern: Little Shell Socks modified and renamed Little Shell Rib Socks.

Stitch Pattern from Pattern
Multiple of 7 stitches, 4 rows
  • Row 1: k7
  • Row 2: k7
  • Row 3: k1, YO, p1, p3tog, p1, YO, k1
  • Row 4: k7

Stitch Pattern for Little Shell Rib Socks
Multiple of 8 stitches, 4 rows
  • Row 1: k7, p1
  • Row 2: k7, p1
  • Row 3: k1, YO, p1, p3tog, p1, YO, k1, p1
  • Row 4: k7, p1

Yarn: Stalwart Sock from Slackford Studio. 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon 4 Ply Fingering Weight Sock Yarn.

Color: Lilac Swirl.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch in stockinette.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Have Some Fun, Win Some Sock Yarn

I have nothing blog worthy to say this Monday, so let me tell you about an easy, fun contest.

Allison, owner of Simply Socks Yarn Company, is having a 12 Days of Sock Yarn contest on her blog.

All you have to do is visit her blog everyday, drool over the picture of the yarn she is giving away, and answer the holiday related question in the comments to be in that day's drawing.

This is only the second day, so there's still plenty of time to get in on the goodies.

We all need more sock yarn. Right?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Little Shell Rib Cuffs

Now that the mandatory Christmas knitting is done, I'm working on the requested purple socks for Mom. She asked for five inch cuffs and "not too fancy a pattern." I translate that to mean "Please don't knit me any of those beautiful Cookie A socks that either bag or have to be tugged over the instep."

It was fun looking through my sock knitting file folder and trying to imagine what each appropriate stitch pattern would look like in the various purple yarns waiting for the needles.

The pattern finally chosen, Little Shell Socks, is working up very pretty in Stalwart Sock Lilac Swirl.

The pattern is written for 56 stitches with a multiple of seven stitches. I'm knitting it on 64 stitches with a multiple of eight stitches by introducing a purl column between the two knit columns. This modification turns it into a ribbing pattern for snugger, better fit. Details below.

Pattern: Little Shell Socks modified and renamed Little Shell Rib Socks.

Stitch Pattern from Pattern
Multiple of 7 stitches, 4 rows
  • Row 1: k7
  • Row 2: k7
  • Row 3: k1, YO, p1, p3tog, p1, YO, k1
  • Row 4: k7

Stitch Pattern for Little Shell Rib Socks
Multiple of 8 stitches, 4 rows
  • Row 1: k7, p1
  • Row 2: k7, p1
  • Row 3: k1, YO, p1, p3tog, p1, YO, k1, p1
  • Row 4: k7, p1

Yarn: Stalwart Sock from Slackford Studio. 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon 4 Ply Fingering Weight Sock Yarn.

Color: Lilac Swirl.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch in stockinette.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Blizzard, New Yarn, and Gail's Socks

The weather chatter all agrees this is one of the earliest blizzards in several decades.

Where we live there are bands of Lake Effect Snow along with high winds and regular storm snow. Hard to measure depth because of the drifting. I'm guessing about a foot and it's still coming down in heavy, measurable amounts.

To make things more interesting, the after lunch temperature is 9 F/-13C. The wind chill is -8 F/-22 C. The dogs are not begging to go out. Neither am I.

This came along with the purple yarn shipment from Slackford Studio. The colorway name is Woodland.

I've started the first pair of purple socks and am looking forward to sharing the pretty little stitch pattern I'm using on the cuffs. It's the perfect day for knitting. I'm so happy I don't have to go anywhere today, even if I did miss my much needed haircut appointment.

I'm also happy to have Gail's socks done so I can knit on something more interesting.

Dog trainer Gail's socks, finished in plenty of time for the doggy school party on Sunday.

Hopefully we'll be able to get out of the driveway by then.

Pattern: Basic cuff down sock pattern on 64 stitches. k7p1 ribbing on cuff and instep.

Yarn: Regia.

Color: Kaffe Fassett 4251.

Needles: Options #1, 2.5mm

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Fingerless Mitts Finished

All of a sudden while knitting Gail's basic socks, I decided I just had to have a pair of fingerless mittens to wear outside for taking pictures in the cold.

In my bins I found three large swatches of Andean Treasure, 100% baby alpaca, and knew it would be warm and wonderful. The pattern has been in my queue for several years now. Ribbing for fit and a lovely cable knot for beauty. Perfect.

I frogged the swatches and got three balls of yarn, a little kinky but it knit up fine.

The open finger end is long enough so I can curl my frozen fingers into the snugly alpaca when they're not needed for the camera. Now I just need to figure out how to use my camera outdoors in the rain/sleet/snow without the lens getting all wet.

Pattern: Fingerless Gloves. Scroll down for the English translation.

Yarn: Knitpicks Andean Treasure

Color: Trying to remember. I think it was called Fog.

Needles: Options #2/3.00mm circulars.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook for December 7

These writing prompts are available from Simple Woman's Daybook where each Monday we're invited to join in celebrating the beauty of everyday moments around us.

FOR TODAY December 7, 2009...

Outside my window...
It's snowing.

I am thinking...
About buying a new car. Maybe in the spring. Or maybe not. My ten year old Camry is still running well with 102,000 miles and has hardly any rust.

I am thankful for...
The recovery of my good friend after her appendix ruptured last week.

From the kitchen...
Bob is still eating left over turkey because he loves it. I've moved on to other things and left the turkey for him.

I am wearing...
Jeans and a navy blue sweatshirt with embroidered violets on the front. Also some worsted weight wool socks.

I am creating...
Some fingerless mittens to wear when I'm trying to take winter pictures outdoors.

They were an unplanned, procrastination project to provide a break from basic k7p1 rib socks that have to be done by Sunday. Time to get back to k7p1.

I am going...
To get the grocery shopping done tomorrow, a day ahead of schedule, because we're expecting freezing rain, sleet, and snow Tuesday night and Wednesday. National Weather Service says this is going to happen, 100% probability.

I am reading...
Actually listening to the Maisie Dobbs books by Jacqueline Winspear while I knit k7p1 ribbing. Maisie is a "psychologist and investigator" in post World War I London. The books are interesting for the time period as well as good mysteries.

I am hoping...
All my cyber shopping gifts arrive in time for Christmas celebrations.

I am hearing...
The dogs start to mill around in anticipation of dinner time. They're taking their places where they watch for food to be served.

Around the house...
Things need to be tidied up and dusted. There will be no picture of the house in its current condition.

One of my favorite things...
Yarn in the mail today! More Stalwart Sock from Slackford Studio - From Dusk to Dawn (deep purple), Lilac Swirl (medium purple), and Iced Lilac (pastel purple), all much prettier than the picture. There is no natural light because it's totally dark and dreary outside.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
  • Finish dog trainer Gail's k7p1 socks.
  • Start wrapping gifts.
  • Start knitting a pair of socks for Mom out of one of the new purples.
  • Get a haircut, weather permitting.
  • Have lunch with Mom, weather permitting.
  • Doggy school Christmas party on Sunday.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

A Word From the Dogs About Snow

Just checked the National Weather Service. In the five day forecast there is Light Snow, Wintry Mix, Snow/Sleet, Snow Likely, and Blowing Snow, each on a different day.

I asked the dogs what they think about the onslaught of winter weather. Here are their answers.

If I plaster my head with snow, I show up better in pictures.

It's cold out here. Let me in. NOW!


Saturday, December 05, 2009

Chat Back for December 5

Answering questions from comments and email.

Diane asked . . .
How and where do you join the extra yarn you need?

I split the ends of both pieces of yarn and twist half the plies of one piece with half the plies of the other for two to three inches to make new yarn. Then knit.

This leaves four thin ends to weave in and a very very solid join that's never going to come undone.

I use this join for everything, not just socks.

For single ply yarn like Lopi, I hold two strands together and knit for a few stitches.

For knitting in the round, the join can be anywhere. Using dps or two circulars, it is easiest to manage away from the end of a needle.

For back and forth knitting, I try to do it near the side but finish it before the edge.

Sherilan asked . . .
Isn't it a good feeling to knit socks for someone like Gail, who shows how much she likes them by wearing them all the time?

Yes. I'd rather see a pair of gift socks worn out and in the trash than see them pretty and unworn in a drawer.

Marie asked (about the Eunice RIP) . . .
Oh no!? Frogged back to only two repeats, or frogged back, as in, you now have two balls of yarn again?

No regrets.

I relearned an important lesson in what stitch patterns don't make good socks if "good socks" are defined as something that looks nice and fits a human foot.

Sherilan asked . . .
I want to knit the More Fun Than Cables sock pattern on 56 stitches. Any ideas how to modify the cable to work with 56 stitches instead of 64?

Reduce the k2 column to make it a k1 column, to reduce the stitch count by 8.

You will probably want to rechart the ribbing on top so it flows into the reduced stitch count attractively.

Friday, December 04, 2009

First Measurable Snowfall

The first snowfall of the year did a thorough job of putting us into the winter season. It was Lake Effect Snow complete with whiteouts, slide offs, multi-vehicle crashes, jack knifed semi trailers, and closed interstates.

The good things about this snowfall: It waited until December, the power didn't go out, and I didn't have to or want to go anywhere today.

Let the winter begin.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Phone, Weather, and Tulip Tree Seed Pods

Last night the phone went out before I could publish the sock post. It didn't get published until today even though it has yesterday's date on it.

There are trade offs living in the wilds of VanBuren County in SW Michigan, and good phone service is one of the things we traded. It goes out periodically without warning, usually returning after a few hours.

When we moved here from the city 18 years ago, we tried to learn about all the trade offs before hand. The phone service was an unpleasant surprise. After buying the house and calling to get phone service started, we were told we would be on a four party line. That was 1991. Who ever dreamed there were still party lines in 1991?

Since I was occasionally on call for my job, my boss found this unacceptable. The company I worked for, (The Upjohn Company, anybody remember them?) paid off the phone company so we could have a private line. No guarantee the line would be in service, but it was private. We were grateful.

This is the first year I remember when it hasn't snowed by the first of December. The snow clouds have been gathering and our winter reprieve is ending tonight.

Temps are dropping. There is snow in the forecast for the rest of the week.

Some animal, I'm guessing a squirrel, has been piling up tulip tree seed pods to feast on this winter. There was a bumper crop of the pods this year. There are three piles like this in the back yard.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Gift Sock Progress

Brother Dave is the only person I knit for who has long feet. Very long feet. Size 14 men's feet.

When I buy Regia to knit socks for Dave, I have to get 3-50 gram skeins to finish his endless socks. No complaining, just explaining why I'm so happy to have these done.

They're too big for my sock blockers and the unblocked pictures doesn't do them justice. I'll give them a bath and smooth them out before I wrap them.

He asked for "wild", and these are definitely wild compared to his normal black and white wardrobe.

Pattern: Basic k7p1 ribbing on 72 stitches

Yarn: Regia

Color: Haltbar Color 1805

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch in stockinette.

Dog trainer Gail also likes socks with a basic stitch pattern. She is wearing my knit gift socks almost every time I see her now, so I'm sure she likes them. The hardest part of shopping for me is knowing what to get someone, so I'm thrilled that Gail is easily pleased by something I love to do.

The cuffs are done and I have a little over a week before the doggy Christmas party to get them finished. Should be no problem to get her socks finished.

Pattern: Basic cuff down sock pattern on 64 stitches. k7p1 ribbing on cuff and instep.

Yarn: Regia.

Color: Kaffe Fassett 4251.

Needles: Options 2.5

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Monday, November 30, 2009

Socks As Art and New Yarn

A week ago Megan left a comment that sums up the way I've come to think of my Cookie socks:
I live in the San Francisco bay area and I took a class from Cookie about a year ago. The subject was designing stitch patterns for socks (or something similar). When the students asked Cookie which socks she likes to wear best, her answer was "I just wear plain stockinette socks. The ones that I design are just art pieces." I hope this gives you some insight into the way this socks fits.
I've knit nine socks from the Cookie's Sock Innovation book, not counting the Eunice I just frogged. They're all wearable, but when it comes time to pick a pair of socks to wear I go for the plain ribbed socks that slip on, fit snug to my feet, and stay up all day.

The beautiful Slackford Studio yarn I've been using for the Cookie socks hasn't been wash and wear tested because I haven't been wearing the socks. I've washed a few pair by hand, but I want to find out how this yarn does under my normal sock treatment of machine washing so I can use it for gift socks without laundry concerns.

Slackford Studio is having a Red, Green, and Blue sale. 20% off until Midnight, December 31st . (SolidXMas is the code to get the discount.)

I took advantage of all three colors which are much prettier in person. We've had seriously gloomy weather for picture taking since the yarn arrived.

From the top: Dorothy's Destiny, After Midnight, Cardinal, and Steelyard Blues. Good basic colors for some good basic socks.

Mom has asked for some purple socks, so I get to order more yarn as soon as Susan gets it in the store.

Cookie socks may be art, but function is also beauty. I'm going to do some knitting for function now.

Snowclouds are moving in.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

RIP Eunice

After proving to myself I could modify Cookie A.'s Eunice pattern to reduce stitches and fit my feet (described here), I knit on with enthusiasm.

Last night I finished both Eunice cuffs without following one of the most important rules of knitting Cookie socks: Try them on often!

There's a reason the pattern calls for only two repeats of the chart, resulting in a cuff about four inches high.

I like warm socks. When I'm sitting down I like my socks to end above the hem of my jeans or slacks without showing any leg. Therefore, I had knit three chart repeats and it was a tugging struggle to get the cuff over my heel and instep.

Normally when I'm ambivalent about frogging, I wait until morning. Last night I didn't wait. Both cuffs were promptly frogged. It's 99% probable I will never knit Eunice. Which means I am never going to knit all the socks in Cookie's book.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Chat Back for November 28

Answering questions from comments and email.

Kathy B. wrote . . .
I hope Sunny is okay. I'm a bit worried by your post.
A few other readers had similar comments. Thank you all for your concern.

Sunny is her normal perky self right now. Until next time.

DH Bob caught my "flu-like symptoms", and with his ongoing health problems he needed medical help getting through it. Looks like he's on the mend now, but it was a major setback and recovery is going to be slow.

From now on I will be more specific with my blogging excuses.

Sue J. emailed a list of questions which I am totally unqualified to answer, so I'll share my answers here anyway with a disclaimer - Some knitters enjoy trying various yarn brands and blends. I enjoy trying different patterns and tend to keep the yarn choices to what I know will give satisfactory results. The subset of sock yarns I have tried is very small compared to what is available.
1. If you had the choice of buying one skein of merino, cashmere, nylon hand dyed yarn or two skeins of Cascade Heritage, which one would you choose?

I've never knit with merino, cashmere, nylon but have two skeins in my stash I'm eager to try. Because it's super soft I'm guessing it will not wear as well as "regular" sock yarn and the stitch definition will not be wonderful. I'm planning to use a simple rib based stitch pattern (not selected yet) and wearing them at home in slippers.

I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised at how well the cashmere blend wears, and if it wears well it will be a surprise. I intend to enjoy the knitting experience of a luxury yarn and consider that the reward for my dollars, the wearing being secondary.

I've only knit with Heritage once, a pair of gift socks that I haven't given yet. It's a smooth, soft, pretty yarn and I've been told it wears well, but I haven't verified that for myself yet.

If I was on a limited budget, I would go with the Heritage.
2. You used to knit a lot with Opal uni solid sock yarn. Have you lost your love of it, or has something else taken it's place?

Uni-Solid is never a bad choice and always practical. A little pricey, but worth it.

It's the work horse of yarns and I still use Opal and Regia for many of my gift socks. They wear forever and can't be destroyed in the laundry. I have Opal and Regia socks that are over ten years old now and still going strong.
3. In your estimation, which sock yarn is the best bang for the buck?
I haven't tried that many inexpensive yarns, so I can't give a comprehensive answer.

From the little I've used the Knitpicks sock yarns, I don't want to invest my time in knitting with them. I assume, but don't know, that in general you get what you pay for.
4. Do you still knit, on occasions, with self striping or self patterning yarn such as Opal, Trekking XXL, Etc?
Yes, just finished a pair of self-patterning Regia for my brother who wanted "wild" socks.

Much of my pleasure in knitting comes from trying different stitch patterns and I find the self striping/patterning socks require simple stitches so it's not my first choice when knitting for pleasure.

When knitting for loved ones who love the colorful self patterning results, I bite the bullet and knit simple.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wednesday Wings - Wild Turkeys

In honor of Thanksgiving and also because I'm overwhelmed with "life" right now, here's a repeat post from February, 2007, almost three years ago.

Happy Thanksgiving to US readers.

Wild turkeys eating dropped sunflower seedsAfter declaring the roads too icy to drive to church Sunday morning, I was just starting to relax when Bob called out from the kitchen, "Bring the camera!"

Between twenty and thirty wild turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) were in the yard. The camera and I had a great time.

The little birds, chickadees and tufted titmice, take sunflowers seeds from the feeders into this nearby evergreen to crack them and eat them. The turkeys feasted on dropped seeds.

With their normal food (acorns, seeds) buried under a foot of frozen slush, we were delighted to give them a Sunday breakfast.

Tom turkey looking handsome showing pretty feathersThe male gobblers are four feet from head to tip of tail feathers. A very impressive bird.

The females are a foot shorter, but still have plenty of meat.

See the "beard" growing out of his center chest? That's the easy way to tell this is a male. The females have a shorter beard.

Both genders are pretty birds in an ugly sort of way with their metallic iridescent feathers changing color with the angle and the light.

Turkey staring into the cameraThis guy must have noticed the lady in the window aiming something at him.

No way to explain it was only a camera and he was welcome to stay as long as he wanted.

We kept the dogs in the house until the last turkey was out of the yard and out of sight in the woods across the street.

Turkey dancing across the top of the snowWild turkeys can fly, but prefer to run when alarmed.

A few of them had a problem getting out of the yard. They would approach the driveway at a right angle and run into the open gate. Instead of walking a few feet around the gate, they assumed it was an endless fence, and retreated back to the corner of the yard where they started. They repeated this over and over again, giving us the impression that Wild Turkeys are not the smartest of birds.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Eunice Rant

Here's my first Eunice cuff, due to be frogged soon.

The yarn is Stalwart Sock, a fingering weight yarn that knits up a little tighter than Opal and Regia because it's smooth instead of fuzzy. The color is Steelyard Blues.

Before I start listing all the reasons Eunice and I aren't getting along, I have to say that many other knitters are happy, or at least satisfied, with their Eunice results.

The opinions below are just that - my opinions. Let the rant begin.

  • The cuff is too big. In the picture the cuff is pulled over two sock blockers, one on top of the other, and it's still too baggy to show the yarn overs.

  • The ribbing starts with 64 stitches and increases to 80 stitches for the cabling pattern. This large increase is unnecessary since there are yarn overs which spread the fabric to compensate for the cables that condense the fabric.

  • Another reason the pretty yarn over patterns in the center of the diamonds don't show is because the diagonal cable leg pulls the fabric up reducing the row gauge so the yarn overs can't spread. It's no better on a human leg.

  • The cable crosses are over seven stitches. A five stitch cable cross is maximum to look nice in a sock pattern, and that's pushing it. There are exceptions to this rule, but this sock isn't one of them.

  • The ribbing and first pattern repeat were knit on 2.5mm needles. Hoping to redeem what my subconscious already knew was a doomed project, I switched to 2.25mm needles for the second repeat with hopes the socks might fit Mom who has wider feet than I do. It hardly made a difference.

Here's my second Eunice cuff, assuming it can still be called Eunice. I have a feeling my modifications are too major for the sock to count in the Sock Innovation KAL, (a Ravelry link), although we are allowed to make changes for fit.

I redrew the chart to change all the three stitch cable legs to two stitches. That brought the cuff stitch count down to 64 from 80 and the wide cable crossing down to 5 from 7.

The ribbing is 56 stitches on 2.5mm needles with an increase of 8 stitches for the cabling pattern.

With 16 stitches less in a round, the fit is good and I plan on finishing this pair of socks for myself.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Chat Back for November 21

Answering questions from comments and email.

Lynn asked . . .
So you should have more (milkweed) next year, right?? Do you get a lot of butterflies around it?
The pretty white fluffy milkweed seeds are everywhere just waiting to sprout into new plants in the spring.

The plants are welcome where we let the yard grow wild. The plants in the grass die after they're mowed so they're not a bother.

The butterfly population in SW Michigan has sadly declined in the past two decades. The few we have do seem to like the milkweed blossoms.

Jean asked . . .
Is that a bumble bee? (On the milkweed flower here.)
That's right. Unlike the butterfly population, I haven't noticed a decline in the bee/wasp population since we moved here eighteen years ago.

I always imagined a bumblebee sting would hurt more than a honey bee sting since they're bigger. After inadvertently testing this theory, I can report it's not true. They both hurt about the same.

Dorothy asked . . .
Wow! Those are gorgeous!! So - how do they fit you?


Dorothy asked . . .
What's up next?
Assuming you're asking about Cookie A. socks, Eunice is next.

I have a rant on this pattern that needs its own blog post.

For now I'll just say this 80 stitch sock is too wide to fit me even though I'm using 2.25mm needles. And a seven stitch cable is too wide to use in a sock pattern.

Sue J. asked . . .
What will you do with all these gorgeous socks? Gifts? Wear them? Are there any patterns so far that you will repeat knitting? Will you be purchasing her new book this Spring?
Most of the Cookie A. socks are mine. I'm reluctant to gift Cookie socks because of the fitting challenges. Most of my gift recipients have no appreciation for intricate stitch patterns and prefer a basic, better fitting practical sock.

When it comes down to picking out a pair of socks in the morning, I also go for the basic, better fitting practical socks. For now, the Cookie socks are hanging on an over the door towel rack on the inside of my closet door and serving mostly as eye candy.

Repeating a pattern? No plans to do so, but it could happen. I'm not going to throw the book away when I'm done with it.

I'm sure I'll buy the new book in the spring, for the eye candy if nothing else. I could be very tired of knitting Cookie socks by then and I do not need more socks. Really, I don't.

Or, I could decide that knitting and collecting Cookie socks is an inexpensive hobby I enjoy, even if it's not totally practical.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Flashback Friday - Winter Wonderland

On the second or third Friday of each month I go back five years to pick out one of my favorite blog posts for that month and repost it here on Flashback Friday.

This post was originally written Thanksgiving week, 2004.

Ready or not, Winter Wonderland will be arriving in SW Michigan soon.

Winter Wonderland
Michigan license plate from 1967 Water-Winter Wonderland was the Michigan slogan forty years ago.

Water Wonderland appeared on Michigan license plates beginning in 1954. It took ten years for the folks in charge of attracting tourists to realize that for three Michigan seasons out of four, no tourist cared about coming to a cold Water Wonderland.

The slogan got changed to Water-Winter Wonderland in 1965.

1967 was the last year Water-Winter Wonderland appeared on Michigan plates. In 1968 the plates proclaimed the new state slogan, Great Lake State.

I had to Google to refresh my memory on all this when the phrase "Winter Wonderland" popped into my mind while looking at the pictures I took on Wednesday.

Out the front window - pine tree laden with snow.On the busiest travel day of the year, the snow came down. And it wasn't just a nice little dusting. It was wet, heavy, slippery, and nasty.

I was cozy and warm in the house watching winter arrive and cooking for Thanksgiving. My only concern was the power. The snow was so wet and heavy that branches were breaking off trees. All our powerlines are above ground and many links we depend on go through wooded areas.

Fortunately the power stayed on. Unfortunately this beautiful pine tree in the front yarn ended up losing several large branches in the evening, after the picture was taken.

Otu the front window - snowy scene including woods across the streetThis is how it looked out the front window about three o'clock in the afternoon. Before it finished snowing Wednesday evening, we had six inches of snow in our Southwest Michigan Wonderland.