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)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Vilai Finished

Vilai, the sixth sock I've knit from Sock Innovation, is the first pattern that's slowed me down some. It wasn't a quick knit and I had to keep my eyes on the chart at all times.

I could have guessed at some parts and not watched the chart so carefully, but the fear of having to tink back this pattern (it would NOT have been fun), kept my eyes glued to the book.

This is the front view. The back matches the front.

Although I knit these with the Sock Innovation KAL, (a Ravelry link) I didn't do it legally so they don't qualify for the KAL finished gallery.

I used the alternative for k3tog which may or may not violate the KAL rules. But worse than that, I did the disqualifying act of starting a few days before the first of August. I knew at the time my Vilai socks couldn't be entered for any KAL prizes. When a knitter has beautiful yarn and wants to cast on, a knitter wants to cast on now!

My Summer Sox, the other KAL selection for August, are legal and in the running for the prizes.

Pattern: Vilai from Sock Innovation by Cookie A.

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

Color: Paprickash

Needles: Ribbing and first pattern repeat on Options 2.5mm circulars. Remaining socks on Options 2.25mm circulars.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Chat Back for August 29

Answering questions from comments and email.

Dorothy asked . . .
Are Barbara Walker's books still available?

The Stitch Treasuries are available at Schoolhouse Press

The Second (red) and the Third (yellow) are my favorites, with the First also being frequently used.. The Fourth (green) has been completely worthless to me. It's got some weird things in it and I can't remember seeing anything pretty inside.

Note that the swatch pictures are in black and white. However they all show the stitches in fine detail unlike some of my other stitch pattern books where the color interferes with the clarity.

In the First and Second, the patterns are not charted. Easily remedied with pencil and graph paper. I often chart the patterns, especially when I'm going to be knitting in the round.

It's all the many clear, knowledgeable comments, techniques, and wisdom of Barbara Walker that makes these books so special to me, more than making up for any shortcomings.

Dorothy also asked . . .
Are you still going to doggie school? Is Sunny doing better?

Pappy and I still go to doggy school on Thursday. In fact last week I wrote a blog post about his doggy school pool party.

Pappy is 11 to 13 now (mature rescue dogs often don't have an exact age) and gets so tired at two hour long doggy school he can hardly hold his head up by the end of class. We sit out some of his least favorite activities and that helps a little. He's had blood work done and a complete senior dog physical. Nothing wrong with him. He's just getting old.

Sunny is off all steroids right now. Her back is fused and rigid, but doesn't give her pain unless she jars something out place.

She doesn't do doggy school anymore. It's impossible to just go for obedience without her seeing the other dogs jump the hurdles and doing other things she loves and isn't allowed to do.

I'm sure she misses it. She's been going since she was a little puppy. I considered taking her just for the obedience, but Dr. Baker said, "not yet", and I think he was gently trying to say "better never". The next time she hurts her back may be the time we can't make it better. So sad.

We continuously watch and worry over her. And, she's more spoiled than ever.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Doggy School Pool Party

Thursday evening Pappy's doggy school class was invited to a pool party.

As usual at this type of event, I was having too much fun to take many pictures and regret it now that it's time to write a blog post.

It all looks so orderly and peaceful in my pictures. In reality there was much coaxing, talking, splashing, and wet-dog shaking. Lots and lots of splashing and wet-dog shaking. Another reason the camera didn't come out more.

Most of the water loving dogs were used to wading out gradually into a lake. Diving off the edge of a pool required some learning.

The most popular activity was to throw a Frisbee or other toy in the water and then convince a dog to go in and fetch it.

Some of the dogs learned to use the pool steps.

Even the good swimmers loved the life vests. It made everything so much easier.

A few of the dogs with non-buoyant rear ends needed life vests to stay up.

There were a few dogs who thought being in the water was not a good idea at all. They were excused to play in the large, fenced in yard or to watch from the sidelines.

Gracie, in the picture, wanted to be as far away from the pool as possible once her quick dip was over.

I knew Pappy's opinion of swimming: Why would any sane dog want to do that?!!!

He enjoyed the agility course set up outside the pool enclosure.

Walking the plank is one of his favorites. In this picture he's not happy with me because I asked him to pause on top for a picture. He does like to please, however, so he did it. We did the course multiple other times so he could run the whole plank without stopping.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Flashback Friday - Happy Family Reunion

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.

August 2004 was so wonderful I couldn't stop at one post, so here are three posts from that month.

Note: Granddaughter Kimmy starts high school in two weeks and we NEVER dress alike anymore.

Arrival of the Tall People

John and Anne next to their rental car Friday the 13th was a great day for me. My son John and his wife Anne arrived in SW Michigan from their home in Idaho. They are here for John's sixteen year high school reunion and a family visit.

It's been over five years since we've seen each other in person. That was the wedding in Las Vegas, Anne's home town. John and I keep in pretty close touch with blogs and email so I didn't realize how much I missed his presence.

Now I know I have to fight the inertia that keeps me in Michigan and learn to take that plane to Post Falls Idaho. I never want to go five years without seeing my son again.

Anne and I don't know each other very well, but I know her well enough to say I'm a very fortunate mother to have my son married to such a fine woman. They make a perfect couple and it makes me smile to see them together.

My Baby is Going to be a Daddy

Son Johns baby pictureThis is my son John when he was nine months old. He's over thirty now and here on a visit with his wife Anne.

Remember back on July 30 when I posted about finding two four-leaf clovers?

I wrote that even with the clover I still wasn't expecting the good fortune that came my way when I learned that son John and daughter-in-law Anne were coming to visit the middle of August.

Well after we greeted each other and settled in for a chat, John asked what good luck I got from the second clover. A rather strange question. I couldn't think of anything better than his and Anne's visit from Idaho, so I told him I didn't know.

That was the right answer! He told me the second clover worth of good luck is due to make me a grandmother around April 4 in Idaho.

What a surprise! But a very welcome surprise.

Family Fun Day

Kimmy and John on the PhotosaurusTuesday was "Family Fun Day" with Uncle John and Aunt Anne visiting from Idaho. We spent the day at the Binder Park Zoo. What a wonderful memorable day we had together.

The last time eight year old Kimmy saw her Uncle John and Aunt Anne in person, she was only two years old. It didn't seem to matter. John and Kimmy took up like they'd been playing with each other for her entire childhood.

Kimmy and Uncle John having fun in the old jeep at the zooThis old Jeep is parked in the Wild Africa area of the Binder Park Zoo. The kids love to get in it and pretend they're driving.

Uncle John, the passenger, wishes Kimmy would watch where she is going. Heather, outside the window, is enjoying a good laugh over Kimmy's driving. In about six more years, Heather won't think Kimmy's driving is so funny.

Kimmy had her face painted at the zoo compliments of her Uncle John. Yes, that is a spider in the middle of her forehead. Those are spider webs on her cheeks. She liked the paint job, but it itched so much she decided to wash it off before we went out to dinner.

Family fun day dinner at ApplebeesAfter the zoo visit, Monette treated us to dinner at Applebee's. The waitress was so nice. Taking our picture was her idea and she even shut the blinds so it would turn out.

It was a day I want to remember for the rest of my life - to have my children together and enjoying each other's company. Because we live so far apart, these are indeed rare and precious moments.

Going around the table left to right:
  • Me - Monette's daughter. Heather and John's mother. Kimmy's grandma.
  • Heather - Monette's granddaughter. My daughter. John's sister. Kimmy's mother.
  • Kimmy - Monette's great-granddaughter. My granddaughter. Heather's daughter. John and Anne's niece.
  • Anne - John's wife. My daughter-in-law. Mother-to-be of my second grandchild.
  • Monette - My mother. Heather and John's grandmother. Kimmy's great-grandmother.
  • John - Monette's grandson. My son. Heather's brother. Anne's husband. Kimmy's uncle. Father-to-be of my second grandchild.

Kimmy and Grandma in matching teeshirtsTuesday night is kid's night at Applebee's. Kimmy got dinner for free plus she got a balloon and a red flower painted on her cheek. It was the perfect ending to a day that was as perfect as a day can be.

Kimmy and I didn't plan to dress alike. She knew I had a shirt like hers and she thought I might wear it, so she wore hers. She was pleased to know that I'd thought the same way.

This is so special. It makes it even sweeter because I know the time is coming soon when she will not want to be dressing like her grandma.

Tomorrow (Thursday) morning we are meeting for breakfast before John and Anne drive off across the state to the Detroit Airport. It's going to be a sad good-by for all of us.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Knit 3 Together Alternative

Barbara Walker is my most referenced knitting guru. Her first three stitch treasuries are full of valuable technical information and tutorials as well as hundreds of stitch patterns. Her book Knitting From the Top Down is a wealth of information on how to do just that - including set in sleeves from the shoulder down. But I've digressed. Let me start this post again.

I have tense shoulders and a bloody middle finger on my left hand from making Vilai k3togs with a 2.25mm needle.

In Barbara Walker's Third Treasury (the yellow one) there is the most handy chart where she gives alternatives for stitches as well as telling what will match them when knitting on the reverse side of the fabric or converting stitch patterns from in-the-round to back-and-forth or converting back-and-forth stitch patterns to in-the-round. I'm not sure how any knitter who likes to improvise can function without this reference.

After knitting a swatch to see if I could tell the difference between k3tog and the alternative, I've decided I like the looks of the alternative better and may never knit a k3tog again.

The swatch was knit with DK weight Cotlin and #5 needles. It's probably important to note that I knit Continental. Your results may vary.

This is a k3tog. It was difficult to get the stitch through all three loops. The top loop is small and doesn't completely cover the other two loops.

This is the alternative right leaning double decrease. It looks neater and is much easier to execute.

1) Knit 2 together
2) Slip resulting stitch back to left needle
3) Slip next stitch on left needle over the knit 2 together
4) Move the resulting right leaning double decrease to the right hand needle

This is a sssk, a left leaning double decrease.

I have no problem knitting sssk, but will switch to the alternative to be consistent.

The alternative to sssk:
1) Slip 1 as if to knit
2) Slip, slip, knit
3) Pass slipped stitch over

The Sock Innovation KAL forbids any pattern modifications except converting to toeup, heel, toe, and modifications for fit.

Although I haven't asked, I'm thinking using the alternative stitches will disqualify a sock from the KAL. Fine with me. My priority is my knitting pleasure so from now on I'll mostly be one of those several thousand lurkers on the KAL forum.

Vilai In Progress

Vilai were started on 2.5mm needles for the ribbing and the first 28 row pattern repeat. After trying them on I was happy with the fit but knew the ankles and feet were going to be baggy, so I switched to 2.25mm needles.

Since the cuffs are seven inches tall, I'm hoping the cuffs will be snug enough to stay up.

Numerous knitters in the Sock Innovation KAL, (a Ravelry link) are making the cuff shorter by knitting 1.5 pattern repeats instead of the 2.5 pattern repeats in the book. (The sock cuff on the right is 2.5 pattern repeats.)

Since KAL participants are allowed to alter the pattern for size issues this is allowed, but I think a shorter cuff takes away from the majesty of the pattern going up the leg.

The top picture with the socks on blockers shows the stitch pattern for the front and back of the leg.

This is the lace stitch pattern for both sides of the leg.

Pattern: Vilai from Sock Innovation by Cookie A.

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

Color: Paprickash

Needles: Ribbing and first pattern repeat on Options 2.5mm circulars. Remaining socks on Options 2.25mm circulars.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Chat Back for August 15

Answering questions from comments and email.

Kathy C. wrote . . .
You make a good point about remembering to check for errata before you start a project, but you are going to have to issue an errata in your blog post yourself!

The link attached to the word "errata" in the first sentence of your post goes to "http://whatever/", but should really point to http://www.interweave.com/corrections/knitting.asp..


Consider me erratacized and red faced.

The Sock Innovation errata is here.

Good thing I needed to go that website to get the URL because there has been some new errata since I updated my book.

Susan asked . . .
What a clever idea to solve the YO problem! Did you twist the stitch that you picked up?

She's asking about the Cool Jade Summer Sox Where I picked up stitches in the next row like a M1 instead of doing the yarn overs as charted.

I wanted a small hole so it would still look like a yarn over, so I didn't twist the stitches I pickup up.

Sheila asked . . .
Did you ever knit any other socks in the book?

So far I've knit Glynis, 2 pair of Sunshine, Rick, and Kai-Mei.

I have tentative plans to knit all the socks in the book, but no promises.

If you click on the Cookie A Socks label at the bottom of this blogpost, it will bring up all the Cookie A socks I've finished this summer.

Sheila asked . . .
How do you like the Slackford Studio yarn? Does it pool much?

I've knit with 5 pair of socks with Stalwart Sock, 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon 4 Ply Fingering Weight, and I love it.

The colors are gorgeous, the stitch definition is excellent. The yarn is soft, smooth and cuddly.

I've not had any pooling.

Shirley asked . . .
How do you knit a rounded toe?

Rounded toe is probably not the right name for it. It's the common toe found on most patterns.

Knit the decreases every other round until approximately half the stitches are left on the needle. Then decrease every round until ready to weave toe.

If I remember right without looking, the toes in Sock Innovation keep decreasing every other round until the toe ends.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Grumbling by the Number

Sock Innovation Errata
My favorite sock book of the summer, Sock Innovation by Cookie A., contains 15 sock patterns. 10 of these patterns have errata.

Isn't errata for two-thirds of the patterns just plain sloppy publishing?

The errata is online. What about the knitters who bought the book, are not computer savvy, and are trying to knit these intricate socks? Or, as often happens, the oblivious or forgetful sock knitter who tries knitting one of the patterns without looking for errata?

Why can't the patterns be in some electronic format by the time they go to the test knitters and then transformed into the final book without being reentered with errors?

If that's not technically possible (which I don't believe), then why not have the final draft test knit again instead of annoying knitters with a book full of errors?

Knitpicks Cotlin
I decided to order some Knitpicks Cotlin for an early autumn sweater. Every color I might have wanted is out of stock. Not just a week or so out of stock, but one or two months.

There are 23 Cotlin colors. 4 will be restocked September 18. 5 will be restocked October 16.

I like this yarn a lot and don't want to try an unknown. So that leaves me with colors I don't love or nothing. I'm pouting.

KAL Participation
This isn't a grumble, just a puzzling (to me) observation.

At the end of July the Sock Innovation KAL Sock Innovation KAL, (a Ravelry link) had 2,643 members. Only 120 pairs of socks were completed.

That's 4.5% participation. What are the rest of the knitters doing? Just lurking to admire the pictures of finished socks?

Or maybe they couldn't finish their socks because they didn't find the errata?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Soft Jade Summer Sox Finished

Pattern: Summer Sox by Cookie A., a free pattern.

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

Color: Soft Jade

Needles: Options 2.25mm circulars.

On my first attempt at knitting these, the stitch pattern looked awful. One side has a yarn over before a knit and the other side has a yarn over before a purl. My yarn over before the purl looked sloppy and the pattern wasn't looking symmetrical.

It didn't take long for me to decide I did not like the results. This yarn is way too pretty to waste on an ugly stitch pattern. I threw the sock in the basket for an overnight break.

Next morning I frogged back to the ribbing and gave it one more try. Instead of doing the yarn overs on the charted pattern row, I picked up a loop (like M1 without the twist) on the next row up. This worked great. The holes are small and match and the socks aren't baggy.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Sunday Swing Socks Finished

While impatiently waiting for August 1 so I could legally start the KAL socks for August, I noticed this pattern in the Summer Knitty.

It was designed for wildly variegated sock yarn that otherwise would need to be knit in stockinette. Just happens I have some of that kind of yarn, so I dove into the stash, pulled it out, and cast on to give the Sunday Swing Pattern a try.

The pattern has four sizes: Cast on 56[64, 72, 80] stitches for 7(8, 9, 10) inches around. I used the 56 stitch chart.

The socks knit up quick and almost mindless. Since I'm frequently a pushover for variegated yarn, I'm sure I'll use the pattern again.

The leftover yarn was added to Sandy's "little ball" box before I mailed it out today.

Pattern: Sunday Swing Pattern by Kristel Nyberg.

Yarn: Opal, 75% Superwash wool, 25% Nylon.

Color: I don't know. It was a long, German word which I failed to write down and the label was sent off with the leftover yarn.

Needles: Options 2.5mm circulars.

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

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Who Gets the Balls?

Congratulations Sandy!

She wrote in the comments:
It would be great to have your leftover sock yarn added to mine for the mitered square blanket that I've started. It's always fun to add more colors and I think your leftovers would blend in fine. Thanks!

I've emailed Sandy and as soon as I get a snail mail address back, the box will be labeled and ready to mail next time I get to a post office.

The number of knitters wanting my leftover balls was a surprise. If anyone else has little leftover balls they'd like to donate to someone who will love them and use them, check out the comments on this blog post. Once you've picked a worthy recipient, email me for the corresponding email address.

Or, have a little contest of your own. It was fun.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook for August 3

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 August 3, 2009...

Outside my window...
was a Little Green Heron looking for lunch in the pond.

I am thinking... It's time to see if Pappy is going to be a good sport about having his teeth brushed and if I have the self discipline to add that task to my daily routine.

I am thankful for... This beautiful, cool summer.

From the kitchen...

I am wearing... Jean shorts and a striped tee

I am creating... Two pair of socks using the two August patterns chosen by Sock Innovation KAL, (a Ravelry link).

First I started Vilai, on the left, knit with Slackford Studio Stalwart Sock Yarn in Paprickash. One pattern repeat is done.

Vilai is not a pattern I can knit casually while listening to an audio book or talking to Bob. I have to pay attention and occasionally even talk out loud to myself to figure out what I'm doing.

Sometimes I want to just knit with less concentration, so I started Summer Sox, on the right, knit with Slackford Studio Stalwart Sock Yarn in Soft Jade.

I am reading... After debating if I want to admit this or not, I decided to come clean. I'm listening to the new J.D. Robb book, Promises in Death.

For those who don't know, J.D Robb delivers futuristic fantasy, unrealistic characters, murder, and sex. If you're not looking for anything the slightest bit intellectual or realistic, they're good audio books to knit by.

I am hoping... That when the respiration therapist comes Thursday Bob is strong enough that she'll leave some little portable oxygen tanks for when we leave home or he goes outside the house.

She tried him out on a small tank two weeks ago and he wasn't ready yet. Until he can keep his blood oxygen up with the small tank we have to take a big heavy tank on wheels when we go out.

I am hearing... A stiff breeze blowing through the trees. It would be nice if we could have some rain, at least enough so I can mow without creating a dust storm.

Around the house... I'm cleaning and organizing my back room knitting area. It's a small room and it's been difficult to walk in there since I added doggy steps for Sunny to get up on the couch with me.

One of my favorite things... Is ice cream. I've been indulging this summer and some of it is sticking to my middle.

A few plans for the rest of the week:

  • Go to Kalamazoo and have lunch with Mom at Fletcher's Pub. Various errands on the way and on the way home.
  • Blowing my nose, sneezing, and coughing. It's allergy season.
  • Trying to get someone to come get the willow tree off the barn. Yes, it's still there. We're a bit behind on unnecessary activities right now. I'm striving to take one day at a time and not to let this stress me out.
  • All the basics: Laundry, cleaning, cooking, dishes, bill paying, lawn mowing, weeding, dog care.
  • I didn't realize how uninteresting my life has become until I wrote this.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...
Doe bringing fawn across the street to show him/her where all the good hostas are/were growing.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Wondering and Whining

Lovely July in SW Michigan
Normally there are days in July when it's too hot to move, but this year July was totally pleasant and I'm grateful.

The Kalamazoo area just finished the coolest July on record. As of Thursday, the average July temperature was 67.5 degrees.

After the long endless winter that started early, ended late, and dumped record amounts of snow on us, the thinking citizens of SW Michigan (at least some of us) are wondering what's going on with global warming?

I'm wondering if people in other areas of the world are noticing a warming trend. If so, some of that heat belongs to us, but you're welcome to keep it.

Hungry Squirrel
This time of year the yard is full of seeds and all types of food for the birds to eat, so I haven't felt guilty not keeping the feeders full.

One little red squirrel was so unhappy about losing his easy sunflower seed that Tuesday morning he chewed through the screen nearest where we keep the seed bags and came inside to help himself.

I was rudely awakened Tuesday morning by objects falling in the living room as the squirrel ran around hysterically looking for the exit. At one point he started a second hole in a kitchen screen, but couldn't hold still long enough to finish it once I started opening windows and trying to chase him out with eventual success.

The dogs were sleeping in the bedroom. They didn't even have the ambition to bark. Not that it would have helped. There was fracas enough without canine participation.

Anticipating Computer Death
My computer is occasionally acting abnormal. So far a reboot has solved the problem, but I suspect someday soon I'll be seeing a blank screen of death.

It's three years old on August 7, the day my extended warranty from Best Buy runs out. I'm not renewing it for $400, thank you anyway. I'll find someone else to repair it or buy a new one, and there will be no extended warranty when I do.

A year ago I needed to use the warranty when the operating system was corrupted. Turns out THAT wasn't covered and I had to pay to have it done. To add insult to injury, it took them a week to do something that should have taken a few hours.

I saved me writing and you reading lots of boring details, but I'll sum up by saying I was so not impressed by the Geek Squad. Plus, they have no manners. At least not when dealing with customers.