Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Simon Tam Pattern

The pattern for my Simon Tam is now available as a Free Ravelry Download!

I had some technical difficulties in the last few days, but the Ravelry Shopkeepers Group sorted me out. Thank goodness.

This is a great little pattern, if I do say so myself. Although there are only two of these on my project page, one I knit for Kate and the other for me, I have also made a pink one for my sister, a red one for my mom, a gray one for Jorah's grandmother, and a white one for my grandmother. I can make one in six hours, and it's one of my very favorite presents to give.

It's made by holding 2 strands together - Ultra Alpaca doubled for the cuff, and then one strand Ultra Alpaca, one strand Tilli Tomas Rock Star, which is a glorious beaded silk. It's knit on size 10 needles, so it knits up quite quickly - I can make one in less than six hours.

I haven't had this pattern test knit, (apologies) so I'm offering it free. If you find any errata, I hope you will leave a comment or email me right away so I can help. This is the first pattern I've written up for other people, and I want it to be good!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Mad Color Socks

Mad Color Socks are finished! Nine pairs since the start of Sock Obsession 2009!

These are my homework for May Defense Against the Dark Arts for the Harry Potter Knit and Crochet House Cup. The assignment was to make something that would protect us, and so these are the Protego Socks. They will protect my feet from the cold, but they are also so bright and cheery that they will protect me from Dementors or the ill effects of proximity with Horcruxes.

In all honesty, I love these socks. I wanted to find a way to use this colorway and looked at some pictures of it knit up on Ravelry. I saw these from knitglit who writes Jumble of Wonderful and fell in love. I ordered some for myself and was off to the races. The colors are gorgeous and most correct in the second photo.

The pattern, Mad Color Weave, was also really fun to knit. If I do it again, and I predict that I may, I think I'll change the twisted rib on the side, although I don't know what I'd do differently. The yarn is of course, Spawn of Braun Socks that Rock Lightweight. It was a joy to knit with.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Humiliating (But Great) Geeker Freakout

Today at the yarn store I was ringing up a lady's purchases, thinking that she had good taste, when she handed me her check.

I looked at the check. I looked at her. I looked at the check. I looked at her. Finally blurt out, "Are you the Patricia C. Wrede?"


She was very nice. Her friend explained that they were in town for WisCon between effusive babblings of joy (from yours truly.) I told her that The Enchanted Forest Chronicles were my favorite books when I was a kid, and that I saved my money so that I could buy them all in hardcopy, I told her that I also loved Caught in Crystal and that when I was a kid I checked it out of the library over and over, that I had read her books to the kids in my After School Program last fall and then gone online and seen that she had written more books, but I hadn't found them in a bookstore yet.

I am sure that I came off like a complete crazy person and Patricia C. Wrede, if you're out there, I'm not usually like that. I'm usually really reserved and private, but you have to understand, you are the hero of my childhood. Reading those books made me want to be a writer. Reading about how amazing and awesome Cimorene was made me want to be that awesome and amazing. The female characters are great, and I wanted to be them! (Mendenbar also rocks.)

My sister's online handle is the name of one of the cats in Calling on Dragons, after I bought the hardbacks, I gave my brother the paperbacks and he read them over and over again, I have a sketchbook at home full of painstaking drawings my fifth grade self did of her characters. I have read these books literally dozens of times - anyone suggesting upwards of thirty times would not be accused of crazy talk - and they basically sparked my voracious love of reading as a child.

She's the first writer I read who played with the reader and had funny little references. I just remember how clever I thought she was when Cimorene posted that sign about "No Salesmen or Rescuers THIS MEANS YOU!" and how delighted I was by The Wicked Stepmothers' Traveling, Drinking, and Debating Society, Men's Auxilary. I wanted to learn Latin because of these books so I could conjugate Draconis with Cimorene, and this is where I learned the expression, "Rare as hen's teeth." I also learned that you never trust a wizard, but magicians are okay, that everybody gets lonely, even the King of the Enchanted Forest, and that gingerbread and apple cider almost always make people feel better.

I babbled like a monkey, but I just hope she took it in the spirit in which it was intended: utter delight and admiration. Honestly, I'd made such an ass of myself already, I only wish I remembered that I had my camera in my bag. I could have asked for a picture!

Who is the hero from your childhood it would render you incoherent to meet?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Opinionated Knitter

Yesterday after work I ran down to the yarn store just before it closed to pick up a few more colors for a striped scarf. One of my coworkers had bought me The Opinionated Knitter, which I mentioned a few weeks ago I wanted. Madison people are just nicer. This woman is a remarkably kind, incredibly talented knitter, and I am just flattered down to my toes that she thought of me. Jorah is out of town for the rest of the summer and the yarn store ladies have really gone out of their way to let me know that they are there when I need them.

The Opinionated Knitter is a great book, incidentally. In addition to having the Baby Surprise Jacket, (one of my all-time favorite patterns), it also has this amazing blanket that brooklyn tweed knit last year. I've also been planning on knitting a version of the Classic Brooks Sweater for my dad. And I've been wanting a Bohus Yoke Sweater for myself.

It's a great book.

While I was there, just to round out the EZness, I also bought the new pattern from Schoolhouse Press for the Adult-Baby-Child Surprise Jacket. I urge you to go to the website and look at how cute the Child Surprise is - I can't wait to knit one!

And since this post is called The Opionionated Knitter, here's an opinion from me: The Backwards Loop Cast On is way better than Long-Tail. Ha!

Monday, May 18, 2009


Found my bluetooth charger! You may return to your regularly scheduled lives.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hey, New Photos!

Finally took some more pictures of the other socks I've made so far this year!

These are the Gentleman's Fancy Socks from Knitting Vintage Socks, by Nancy Bush, a wonderful book. The yarn is Dream in Color Smooshy, Colorway Nightwatch, which lent these socks their name: The Socks that Guard the Realms of Men. (Newsflash: I'm a dork.) I made these in December for Jorah. They were the first sock weight socks I ever knit, and they were so nice when I finished them that I had to knit myself some:

Also Smooshy, but these are in Flamingo Pie, a name which makes me indescribably happy.

These are the Pirate's Booty Socks that Rock Lightweight that the bosslady gave me for Christmas. They are just a simple 2x2 rib that carrys onto the foot. They're really warm.

And these I made from some yarn that my parents-in-law gave me for Christmas. They're just a smidge too small for me, (I got impatient and stopped knitting too soon) and so they are now Jorah's. He says that they're his favorite, which greatly pleases me. I have that pattern written down and I'm planning on offering it later this summer.

In other sock news, the Little Mermaid socks have bitten the dust. They were lovely, but too small. I was hoping that the stretch would make them large enough and was just knitting the pattern as written. My gigantic feet vanquished them though and so they hit the frog pond a few days ago. I thought about finishing them and then saving them to give them to someone for Christmas, but then I decided that I wanted me to have the delightful Socks that Rock. They are becoming a plain sock, to show off the beautiful colors.

I have decided that the Mad Color Socks and the Blue Brick Wall Socks (formerly Little Mermaid) need to be finished by May 31, but I have a few other things to work on too. It's going to be a rush. I love the saying, "If you want something done, give it to a busy person." I'm trying to be that busy person.

*Incidentally, if any of you have seen the charger for my bluetooth earwig, I wish you would let me know. I haven't seen it since August, but I really need it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Job Angst

Let me preface this by saying that I love my job, I really do. I mean, obviously I love Lakeside - it's a beautiful place and super inspiring, and I love the ladies I work with - they're definitely my best friends in Madison, and some of my favorite people, period. What I'm talking about here is my other job.

I am a room leader at an After School for Homeless & At-Risk kids. It's only 18.5 hours a week - although it'll go up to 33 in the summer. It's a wonderful job. My two bosses are excellent women and I adore them, and the kids - the kids are amazing. It's been incredibly rewarding for me to work there for the past year and a half and it's been a true growth experience for me. Before I started there I had never worked with kids before, and I didn't really know what I was doing when I started. Now I am really confident, and I think the kids respect and like me and we have a lot of fun together. Like any social service job, sometimes something happens in the life of one of my kids and I die a little inside, but for the most part, I feel empowered and helpful when I'm there.

I've been feeling a little ambivalent recently though. One of my bosses just got a full time career track job for herself and she's leaving in a few weeks. Aside from being disappointed that I'm not going to see her as much anymore and will no longer benefit from her advice with the kids, I'm sort of jealous. As I say, I love my job, but it hasn't escaped my notice that I'm the oldest person who works there . . . by a lot. Everyone else is still in college.

To top it off, someone I went to undergrad with came into the yarn store last weekend. She has a design job with Land's End, and told me that someone else in our class is actually teaching the Fashion Illustration course now. I'm just sort of realizing that I have an effing design degree from a really good school, and most people, when I tell them what I do, think that I'm a glorified babysitter.

I know that's not true - I work way too hard at work to honestly think of myself as a babysitter, and I am aware that one of the problems with this country is that most people don't have access to real quality childcare. I know my job is important, and I flatter myself that some of these kids depend on me for a certain amount of constancy and support.

But tonight I was idly poking around job websites, (did I mention I only work 18.5 hours a week? + weekends?) and I found a job for an internship which I would be totally qualified for . . . except that I haven't added anything to my portfolio in over two years. A portfolio that when I submitted it for assessment got high honors at the time.

I miss design. I got a real kick out of sketching and swatching - if you saw my experimental knitting swatches that I did for Structural Enrichment! - and I miss that. I liked making color boards and doing texture studies. And knitting crazy ass shit, and doing embroidery.

I keep deciding that it's time to get going again - I have lots of pieces of patterns written up - but something has been standing in the way. I think I have just now realized what it is.

Ode to My Socks that Rock

There is no sock yarn in the world like you,
Socks that Rock

your brilliant, clear colors lighten my day
I knit with sunshine and water when I knit with you
my fingers have never been so clever
my eyes so dazzled.
There is no past without you
Socks that Rock

no time before that compares with my life
now that I've found you.
your infinite variety and playfulness
evoke only longing within me
my emotions only slaked
when your smooth softness glides
over my finger.

Little Mermaid Socks in Pomatomus knitted with Blue Brick Wall Lightweight. Mad Color Socks in Mad Color Weave in Spawn of Braun Lightweight.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

In Spite of the Whining

It was actually a great day yesterday. We went to the Farmer's Market - in my opinion the best Farmer's Market in the country - and walked around. We tried a mini-chocolate bundt cake, and I just had to take a picture of it, it was so pretty:

It was just as delicious as it was pretty. It was from a place called Sutter's Ridge, and they had the greatest strawberry jam so we got some of that too. We got a few more things, saw this great sign:

and then went out to Sauk Prairie to the Blue Spoon - the restaurant that's part of the Culver's Corporate Headquarters. That was great fun, and the sock really likes Sprecher Root Beer.

It was later that night that I discovered the yarn shortage problem and that's when I posted. Today in the down times at the store, I frogged back the completed sock and reknit the toes on both. So I still got a complete pair of socks out of the weekend!

As mentioned, these are the Uptown Boot Socks from IK Winter 2003 and Favorite Socks. When I actually worked on them they went super fast - there's lots of plain knitting. The yarn, of course, is County Clare Socks that Rock Lightweight, bought so that I may triumphantly wear these socks in Country Clare this summer. They are nice and snug, and pulling back 4 rows on the finished sock didn't make me like the length any less. They are super comfy and I'm going to get lots of enjoyment from them, I can tell.

This brings the sock count to 8 pairs since Christmas!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Grr . . .Argh

All of my projects right now are effed up. Let's take a little tour, shall we?

  • Ireland Boot Socks: Halfway through the 2nd toe, and I am out of yarn. I'm going to have to frog back the toes to take a teensy bit of length out. That will teach me not to divide my STR.
  • Little Mermaid Socks: I haven't even shown the blog a picture of these yet (they are completely lovely). I dropped a stitch when going to work the gusset and it ran into some lace and YOs. Frogging back to the beginning of the heel flap to pick up the stitch.
  • Henly Hoodie: I tried to be clever with the arm, but it turned out that the standard recipe is probably going to be the best. Need to undo my most recent failure and then get going again.
  • Cabbage Leaf Baby Blanket: It's too wide - I'm going to run out of yarn before it is square. Going to have to undo completely and start again.
  • Wisconsin Heartwarmer: Gauge change when I started the colorwork - need to frog back to the solid purple and start again with a different needle.
I WILL NOT BE DEFEATED! I want a Finished Object to show for this weekend. The Ireland Boot Socks are the closest and therefore they are the ones that shall be conquered first. My wrist may fall off in the meantime, but in battle, one must make sacrifices. That's just what we call an acceptable risk.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bah, Humbug

I worked on the Hoodie for several more hours the other day, and again I'm about at -10 minutes of progress. I think this is the knitting fates trying to tell me to let sleeping sweaters lie for a few days.

Also, my right wrist/forearm really, really hurts, probably from knitting so fast (stockingnette in the round) for too many hours a day. I could barely open a can of tuna, actually, because working the can opener was so difficult. It doesn't hurt when I work on my Ireland Boot Socks, so I think that will be the recipe for knitting today.

And I will sooth my bad mood by opening the curtains upstairs and washing all of my socks. And the Bleeding Heart sweater.

Then I have to go to work.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Sundays are for Socks?

Finished some socks:

They feel like they take forever when you knit them two at a time, but at least when you're finished knitting you have two of them. I sort of fell asleep knitting them this afternoon and had to fix some wonky decreases on the toe, but they're just right now. As I've mentioned, these are the Child's First Socks, from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush. It's a great book and I love this pattern. It's just ten intuitive rows and it looks great and is super stretchy.

I also knitted on the Henly Hoodie and made -10 minutes of progress. I started the right sleeve twice and I'm going to have to rip it out again (I'm thinking that will take ten minutes tomorrow when I have the wherewithal to do it).

I don't know if I've mentioned before how Jorah is an ideal knitting husband, allow me to use these anecdotes to illustrate:
  • A recent paycheck was significantly more than we expected, Jorah's first reaction: "You should buy some yarn!"
  • I mentioned that I would probably like to buy the Socks that Rock that have been in my saved cart and would he like to pick out a color to add to the pile for me to knit for him too? He thought that was a great idea, or maybe he could pick out one to knit himself (did I mention that Jorah knits? and almost exclusively socks!).
  • Later that day he suggests visiting the website and turns up his nose at the more solid colors (I think they're lovely colors but it's nice not to have a stereotypically bland color choice from a guy.) No, he wants the Multicolor Wave. We looked at some finished projects on Ravelry, and he was psyched when he saw that his fave, Azure Malachite, pools like crazy. Infact, his exact words on seeing this picture were "Wow, that's f*cking awesome!" (I did explain about how the CO number effects that.)
An ideal knitting husband, indeed.

*The management would like to apologize for the creative use of punctuation in this post.