Sunday, June 26, 2005

I'm Too Socksy

In lieu of a more meaningful title, I give you - Right Said Fred. And my first ever pair of socks. Finally finished, with very little fanfare from Karl and the kitties (they yawned when I modelled them), here they are. I suppose I should give them a name because I feel like they deserve it after all this time...and, to name something is to know I will call them the Fred socks.

Fred was not easy to photograph. I realized this as I tried to take a self-photo of my feet with Fred on; my feet looked huge, my calves oversized. Finally I resorted to laying on my back on the couch with my feet in the air towards the ceiling. Fred was knit on two different needles - Brittany birch DPNs and Addi Turbos. Although they were both size 1's, the sock on the Addi's is larger/looser. I knew this from the beginning and I tried to compensate by knitting tighter but it didn't work. The good news is, my right foot is bigger than my left so having 2 slightly different sock sizes is not the end of the world. In the top photo, the second sock is the bigger one. Additional learnings: measure your foot around the widest part - around the ball of the foot usually - but knit a circumference of 1/2" to 1" smaller than that. For example, my actual foot circumference is 8" but I knit a 7" tube. This is because the wool stretches and I want a tighter-fitting sock. I'm really shocked at how well Fred fits my feet. They have already been thrown into the wash and survived quite well too. Now my next pair will be cotton. I've decided to do the Broadripple socks but haven't chosen the weapon yet...DPNs? Circulars? Wood or metal? Hmmmm. How about wood circs? Speaking of needles, I hope some of you will consider joining Catherine's Gimme Some Needles exchange. I haven't joined the other secret pals and random acts because I would be paralyzed with indecision but you can never have enough knitting needles. Before I leave the knitting topic, I just want to say "Hi Lori!" because we met at Border's today and just knitted the afternoon away. It was all good - the company and the knitting!

In other life news, I have a few things to tell. First, I'm taking a new job. Sort of. It's at the same company but I would be doing something completely different, i.e., less technical. Less of a grind, more schmoozing, and hopefully some opportunities to write even if they are kind of boring topics. Second, I'm going on vacation! Yes, starting Tuesday I will be OOB (out-of-blog) for a little while. I don't want to tell you where yet because I'm hoping to have some surprises when I come back. Keep checking here, though.

I will end with a couple of photos from around the house. I have coveted my neighbor's pink calla lilies for 3 years. He is a former landscaper who has done amazing things with his postage stamp-sized yard. Plus he's done a bunch of century rides and he's Ski Patrol for one of the resorts in Tahoe. Grrr. Ah, but can he putt?

And this is my yarn room. Big K and Little K follow me in here whenever they get a chance. Notice the unused sewing machine. The sewing table is something that Karl built out of an old table and chairs. The tank top is a UFO. Never mind the stash of yarn to the's nothing. Hope ya'll had a good weekend. Until the next day in the life....

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


I was trying to think of a way to describe this little piece. Esoteric came to mind because lace seems cryptic, complicated; it hides yet it reveals. It also means intended for or understood only by a particular group - in this case, knitters.

The capelet is lightly blocked but even so, you can see that it can easily slip off my shoulders. This is all right with me. I was afraid that it would not fit at all. I first tried it on with jeans and a camisole; it was rather sexy. I'll have to wear that after the wedding. Here I'm modeling the capelet with the dress I plan to wear at the wedding. OK, just to recap: the pattern is the Not-Knit-Round Scarf from The Purl Stitch. I used #8 bamboo needles and the yarn is Berroco Cotton Twist. Notes on the yarn: it snags like mad so use lots of hand cream and knit loosely.
Now on to sock progress. This is the second sock of my first pair, using 2 circulars. I started on this again yesterday at about 2 inches from the heel flap and now I've turned the heel, picked up stitches for the gusset and starting to decrease. The pattern is also from The Purl Stitch. It calls for using 5 DPNs but as you can see I'm experimenting. I had to think about the gusset a little; the extra stitches are all on the back needle which makes it a bit awkward but I'm managing it. DPNs would be better here.
However, I must say that using the Addi Turbos are sooooo much faster and smoother. I love the look and knitty-ness of bamboo or wood DPNs but these Addi circs are (1) faster and (2) an improvement regarding ladders. It could be that I've just had more practice and am subsequently better at avoiding ladders with this sock but then again I've read that circulars help with that. Observations on socks...I cannot imagine making socks with anything bigger than size 2's. I love the smallness, the compactness, the portability. Socks are easier than I expected. OK, OK, this is just my first pair and they are stockinette but really I'm amazed over the efficiency of socks. I'm trying to decide which sock yarn to use next. I cast on Cascade Fixation to make the Broadripple Socks from Knitty but am bemused about the stretch. Am I supposed to knit these kind of tight to get gauge?

An exciting thing happened today at lunch. Well, exciting to me because work is so yuck these days. I'll explain that in a later post. Anyway. A coworker taught me how to do simple crochet! She's a crochet gal and such a good teacher. I've been meaning to do this on my own but crochet was befuddling, at least in the books I looked at. Now I get it. The fingers still want to do it in a knitting kind of way but that's OK. Now I can do some of the fancier edging that I was afraid of before.


Until the next day in the life.....

Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Art of Doing Nothing

The singular focus of doing nothing is an art I have never perfected. There are weekends when I try to be a minimalist in all that I do...but I think that means basically staying in bed all day eating dark chocolate bon bons while the 5-CD disc player randomly plays your favorite music. The closest I have come to doing nothing was when I spent 8 hours on the couch finishing the novel Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. If only the movie had been as good. The runner-up was one full weekend watching a Law & Order marathon on TBS and switching to Nigella Lawson when L&O was something I'd already seen. Now that was really decadent.

So I haven't done nothing this weekend. The Lacy Capelet is all knit up but is being blocked as of this writing, so no pictures until it is completely done. I am happy with it but am feeling a bit dazed. I have never finished anything in such a short amount of time; it still hasn't sunk in. If you consider only the last time I cast on for this project, it's taken me 11 days. That is a PB. Well, all right, I did knit 3 scarves in 2 days for some friends' birthdays but they don't count.

Now the only UFO left is the single sock! I dance a little jig. It's been so patient and I've been looking forward to picking up where I left off with sock knitting. June's project is done and the pressure is off. Have I told you about my 2005 knitting resolution? (Yes indeed, Erika, I have really gone off the knitting deep end) It doesn't matter how many projects I may start as long as I finish at least one of them each month. Completing more than one does not roll over to the next month, they are just feel-good bonus points. I made this resolution to myself because while I was a productive knitter in the fall and winter, there wasn't much to show for the spring and the summer. So far I have hit every month but there were times when it was touch and go.

The other non-nothing activity this weekend was a great hike along the Yuba River.
Birdsong wrote a poignant tribute to a friend who was co-author of the book Yuba Trails which I picked up from the library. Karl hasn't been able to put it down. Vandana also recommended a hike around here so therefore we decided to explore an area near Nevada City. Since we were newcomers to the area we decided to take one of the most popular routes, the South Yuba Trail. This is a very pretty trail with fantastic views of the river. There are picnic tables and access to the water. I knew it was a mountain biker's paradise but I was surprised to see more kayakers than cyclists. The river was rushing underneath Edwards' Crossing. You can see the pictures of the hike from the thumbnails in the sidebar, Latest Photos.

Oh, and that's the last non-nothing thing for today - I cleaned up my blog template and added the thumbnails. What do you think? Thanks to everyone who commented on comments. I will try to be a good correspondent because I appreciate you taking the time to visit here and leaving a note. You are busy people! You could be doing something else (like knitting) but yet you read this blog and even write an opinion or an encouraging word. Well then, I will keep it short this time (relatively, because I know I'm verbose).

Until the next day in the life...

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Take From Me My Lace

One of my favorite Stevie Nicks songs is Leather and Lace. As I was thinking about what to blog today, this tune started in my head. I will be humming it all night. Sometimes Karl will hum a few notes in the morning while he's shaving and then I find myself humming the same tune the rest of the day, wondering where it came from. Does this happen to you?

What do you think of the capelet so far? I haven't even blocked it yet but I'm concerned it will be too big. I decided to shorten it by 2 inches but didn't consider the width. Beth - yes, lace is rather magical and extremely feminine. I am struck by how delicate it makes me look and yet I know the strength and the tension of its construction.

The capelet is all I'm working on and I'm happy with the progress. It should be done by this weekend! Then I can finish the socks and cast on for...oh dear...too many to list. Oh, you may be interested to know that Brittany responded to my email about replacement DPNs. The woman was so kind. I simply asked to purchase a single needle. Instead she sent an entire set free of charge! Such generosity is so refreshing. Brittany has a customer for life.

Before I sign off, I want to ask you about blog comments. Some people are so thoughtful and good about responding to them. Others, not as much. I am in the middle. What is the protocol? I want to reply back to everyone! But is this expected? I set up Haloscan for the express purpose of being able to email back the commenter, but it's not working out as well as I had hoped.

Lovers forever
Face to face
My city or mountains
Stay with me stay
I need you to love me
I need you today
Give to me your leather
Take from me
My lace

Sunday, June 12, 2005

A Bit of Lace

The weekend has gone by too quickly and with it any time to work on the lace capelet. I managed a few rows since the last post, calmed down and developed a rhythm. As you can see, this is a very simple stitch pattern. This goes on for about 9" and then every other panel is removed. The yarn is still snaggy but knitting it loosely helps a lot. You can see the wisps of rayon strands. I've got 15 days to finish this. It's still doable! I've put everything else on hold but I carry my sock around anyway. I've also been leafing through my Rebecca issues. There's a chevron tank top that looks interesting but I just cannot cast on for another project. Discipline!

If I hadn't gone on a charity bike ride on Saturday, the capelet would've been further along. The Rex Cycles Supports the Parkway started out as a social bike ride that evolved into a charity event to support the American River Parkway, known around here simply as the Bike Trail. The bike trail stretches from downtown Sacramento eastward to Folsom Lake along the American River. It's about 65 miles up and back. We rode 60 miles for the bike ride. Rex Cycles specializes in custom frames. I don't have one of his specifically but I do have a different type of bicycle.
Before I bought this bike, I had pretty much given up on the idea of ever riding. I'm too small - I need a 16" frame because I have a very short standover height. Then a few years ago someone told me about Terry Bicycles, a company headed by a female engineer and cyclist who designed a road bike frame specifically for small women. It has a 27" wheel in the back and a 24" wheel in the front. Obviously there's more to the geometry than that, but the wheels are the most obvious difference. It's great! I love the bike.
I have to admit, though, that I'm not a techie bike person. In fact, I know next to nothing about bike engineering and maintenance. Karl does most of it because when he works on his own, he also fixes up mine. Yes, I'm spoiled. He likes it though, because he'd rather maintain my bike than have me mess with it and totally screw it up. Anyways, the bike ride started out easy especially since I tried to make sure I drafted behind Karl. About halfway through I started to get tired and, well, saddle sore. My saddle is a skinny, hard piece of leather. I haven't done enough long rides yet to have gotten accustomed to it for a ride of this length. Thank God for gel shorts. Recovering from a hard bike ride, though, is surprisingly easier than from a hard run. And it gives you a nice butt.

I don't know what happened to today, Sunday...we went to Home Depot, did some chores, made dinner...voila - the weekend has slipped away. Hope the week goes well for you and that you fit some knitting time into your busy lives!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Knitting Nemesis

And her name is Lace. Me and the lace capelet are not seeing eye to eye. In fact, my eyes are crossed. And I am cross. Silly blob of yarn! *fling* There she goes.

Ohhhh. I'm having a hard time but it's mostly operator error (I'd say 85%) and the rest is the dang yarn itself. I have cast on for this project 6 times. 194 stitches each time. Why? Well. Let me tell you. Grab some coffee.

Originally, I bought 2 types of yarn, Berroco Cotton Twist and Soft Twist in 2 close shades. The CT matched my dress perfectly so that's what I planned to use. However I didn't pay attention the first time and grabbed the ST instead. There goes one. The second time I cast on during the drive back from Reno on Saturday. Bad, bad idea. The third attempt was later that night and it went well except...I either dropped a stitch or added one. Plus, the stitches were very loose. After sleeping on it, I decided to frog it and try a different set of needles (the Denise instead of bamboo) as well as the knit cast-on to tighten things up a little. Iteration 4 was too tight and I was splitting the yarn like crazy. Cotton Twist, by the way, is horrible for that. It is very lightly twisted with some kind of shiny rayon or nylon strand that catches on everything and my hands are rough. The yarn label should come with a warning that says "Loose knitting is required". Trial #5 was back on the bamboo needles. By this time my eyes really were crossing and I had a tough time focusing. I was OK with the cast-on but I screwed up the very first row (dropping/adding stitches somewhere) and I lost it! I was at the point of tears. Karl was asking how he could help. I frogged again, cast on for the 6th time. After doing that, I asked Karl to count the stitches to make sure I had the right number. Then I took a bath.

Later, I consoled myself by speed knitting the second sock. I have been longing to work on the sock. The leg part is almost done. If you know me, however, you know that I will not give up on something until I am I satisfied that I did it properly. This is a good and bad trait. Good because it shows perseverence and discipline, bad because it can be fueled by anger and frustration. Ask my friends who have gone skiing with me. Therefore, I cannot work on the sock until I am happy with the capelet.

Early this morning, before getting ready for work, I took out the lace cast-on and carefully worked two rows. So far so good. The pattern itself is quite easy so I hope I'm not scaring you away from that. It's not the pattern. It's my own fault. The capelet will work up fast if I just pay closer attention to what I'm doing.

So that's been my knitting week so far. I was hoping to have a pretty picture of the capelet by now but it's not going to happen. The good news is that I'm still having fun with my sock and wish I could start on another pair.

I will end with a few penguin photos for Rebekah who enjoys these little guys as much as I do. In New Zealand we went all over the South Island tracking down rare penguins. In Oamaru, there was a colony of tiny Blue Penguins who regularly trekked the beach in the wee hours and then at dusk, back and forth from the ocean to their nests.

Further down the coast in Dunedin, we took a tour of the Yellow-Eyed Penguin Conservation Reserve. The Yellow-Eyes are the rarest penguins in the world. The conservation has built a reserve for them along the beach so they can nest in peace. The reserve consists of tunnels that people can walk through and view the penguins at ground level, through "hides". You will have to zoom in on this photo but there are 2 penguins who have just emerged from the ocean. They shook their bodies and flapped their flippers, then waddled/hopped across the dunes to their respective nests. So endearing.

Monday, June 06, 2005


The kitties don't see much of Karl and me on the weekends these days. We've been on roadtrips, like this past Saturday to Virginia City and Reno. Re-no, where we played ke-no at the ca-si-no.

Virginia City is a historic mining town in Nevada, situated on the Comstock Lode, known for its silver and gold mines. In its heyday Virginia City was the richest city in the west, a busy town with a surprising amount of diversity and culture. We spent Saturday visiting museums and riding a short portion of the old Virginia & Truckee railroad. I had fun taking a few photos of the saloon signs.

Bonanza was one of them but the sign that drew the most interest was the venerable Bucket of Blood. We didn't stop in that saloon but I took a picture of the sign anyway.

From the train, aka "Queen of the Short Lines", you could barely make out the steeple of the Catholic Church. The original building burnt down with most of the town after someone knocked over a gas lamp.

One of the most interesting museum visits we made was to a prostitute museum. Back then, prostitution didn't have the same distasteful and dreary reputation that it does now. It was a job, one of the few women could have. The museum was in the basement of a saloon and one of the relics was this, um, vibrator. It looks a bit like an instrument of torture but then again a lot of things did in those days. What I want to know is, what is the guy pictured on the side of the box doing with said Arctic Vibrator??

Oh, but this is a blog about knitting. Sorry for the digression. I finished my first sock! Yay! I completed it during the guild's sock class on Sunday afternoon (after an evening of gambling and such in Reno...OK, I'll stop talking about that now) and then promptly cast on for the sock's mate. To avoid the Second Sock Syndrome, I decided to knit SS on 2 circulars. After a bout of awkwardness with the cuff, I got into something like a groove thing as I started the stockinette leg. And it's going faster than the first. Very cool. I can see where socks would be addicting and can't wait to start another pair. However, there is the matter of the lacy capelet. I cast on for that last night and it's going pretty well too, although not much to show right now. Hopefully next time.

Happy Knitting and have a great week!

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Free Yarn!

Doesn't that title make your eyes go wide with anticipation and your heart start beating a little faster? Sort of like love. At the Guild meeting on Thursday night, there was a bounty of yarn that some kind soul had donated. I have learned to get to the meeting just a bit early so I can beat everyone to the new books and magazines to borrow. Then I spied all the free yarn goodies! This is a Japanese yarn of unknown brand but I think it is a discontinued line of Noro. I recognize the tag. Tachibana is 65% wool, 30% alpaca and 5% silk. I greedily snapped up all 9 skeins. It will be enough for a warm sweater this winter. Yay!

No excitement at the guild meeting itself though. I was kind of disappointed because I have come to expect heated discussions from these fiery women. However, we had a good Show & Tell and the stories were entertaining. Alas, I will not be attending the meeting next month...Cyndi or Kaedean will have to report out! Violet is busy, busy, busy with her new store, Frogpond Knits. I can't wait to see it! She and Kaedean are going to have great stuff. Plus, I'm thinking about organizing a group for a knit night. Violet has already offered to host it at her store.

A few posts ago, I mentioned that June's project would be my first pair of socks. Well. Not anymore. We are going to Karl's brother's wedding at the beginning of July so I am motivated to make a little lacy something to wear over the dress I've chosen. The dress is an off-white silk sheath with delicate pink, blue and green flowers. Originally I was going to make a shrug and had narrowed my choices to two. Then I was inspired at the yarn store and remembered the Not-Knit-Round scarf in The Purl Stitch by Sally Melville. It's actually a capelet because you seam the ends of the scarf together. I figured, hey this is something new, it's relatively quick and easy and I have to finish it in time for the wedding. What better motivation than that?

For once, I'm actually going to use the yarn called for in the scarf pattern, Berroco Cotton Twist. I've never knit with it before but having tried a few similar Berroco yarns, I'm thinking the "twist" part may cause a little grief. But, I like it and it matches the dress.

I wanted to show you a contraption that Karl made after he watched me struggle with winding skeins and hanks of yarn into balls. We tried a conventional swift and ball winder but the swift was too big. He went into the garage and an hour later came out with this...

Loosen the nuts and slide the arms out to hold the skein. Tighten the nuts to maintain the tension. Then start winding the yarn!

Of course, this is what happens. Little Kitty loves it when we play the "wind the ball of yarn" game. She is just about to swipe the trailing yarn with her paw.

All right, gotta run. I started this post before the sun came up and now it's shining down into the garden full blast! Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Answers, Answers

Many of you have probably noticed, but I have been a relative blogging hermit lately...both posting to mine and reading/commenting on my favorite reads. I visited Stephanie's blog today and found out she posted interview questions for me last week! I'm such a dork. Here are my belated answers:

The Interview

  • What about photojournalism attracts you?
    I am a shy person but being behind the camera makes me bold and independent; writing is an outlet for my thoughts and feelings. Photography allows me to focus and writing lets me expand. Together I am at my most creative. I'm not the best photograher or the best writer but I am content in my ability to express myself, bring people into my world and share it at the same time. A good photojournalist draws you in, keeps you interested, teaches you something and makes you feel a part of the experience. Those are my goals.

  • How did you meet your husband?
    It was a case of several coincidences at work, what I believe to be fate. We are employed by the same huge company...something like 5,000 people on just this one campus and we spend our days in small cubicles. I happened to look up one afternoon 7 years ago to see Karl walk by my cube. I whipped around, poked my head out of the cube to watch him and thought "hey, who is THAT guy?". A few days later in another building we walked past each other in the hallway. I caught a glimpse of his badge -he had a weird last name. A few weeks later, I was temporarily assigned to his group and he came over to ask me some software questions. After that we were inseparable. By the way, we aren't married, at least not yet. Chalk it up to laziness.

  • What do you like most about knitting, and what you do like the least?
    I'm not good at most patience, no creativity, blah. Knitting on the other hand makes me feel extremely crafty and the best part is that there's enough about knitting to keep me busy for years! I love, love, love learning new techniques. There's so much to be done with 2 sticks and some yarn. And I get to wear/use what I make. I feel accomplished. However, there are tedious aspects to it like weaving in ends. That's probably the worst. No new methods there, and it comes at the end of the project. Blecchh.

  • Of all your possessions, what do you value the most?
    This is a toughie. I want to say that I can do without many of my material goods, but I've carted some around with me for over 20 years. In the end what's going to matter the most to me is how I've lived. The best artifacts of that are my journals and my photos. They're stashed away in a closet but every once in a while I take them out to read and remember. They're priceless.

  • If you were stranded on a deserted island (think LOST), what 5 things would you want with you and why?
    OK, I've never seen an episode of LOST so I'm not sure if I'm answering this correctly. However, here's what I would want with me:
    1) a solar laptop with a satellite internet connection...this doesn't have to be super realistic, right? I can be satisfied being alone on a deserted island if I still have contact with the outside world. In fact, I prefer this in real life some days.
    2) a camera - 'nuff said about that.
    3) a grill - the easiest way to cook! Or so the guys tell me. A girl's got to eat and I need to learn how to grill anyway. Besides, freshly caught meat and fish taste best on the barbie.
    4) toilet paper - trust me on this one. I've been on enough backpacking trips. You don't want to wipe your butt and other private parts with leaves.
    5) Karl - because I need someone to cuddle.

The Interview Rules

1. Leave me a comment saying "interview me;"

2. I will respond by asking you 5 questions on my blog. They will be different questions than the ones above;

3. You will update your blog with the answers;

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else;

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them 5 questions.