Sunday, February 22, 2009


To while away greenroom time at the fundraiser I participated in last week, I got a new pair of socks on the needle. Just a basic 2x2 ribbed pair, with sizing and shaping based on the four-stitch rib chapter of Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks. Kind of my fall-back sock position, and the place I need to be right now.

The yarn is Zitron Trekking Hand Art in the colorway Tundra, so I'm calling these Tundra Socks. This yarn is quite sturdy and comes in a generous hank of 462 yards. Lots of dark, murky browns and greens, with acid-bright splashes of lichen-like greens and oranges. I titled this post "muskeg," because on a sunny and warm late winter day like this, I'm having trouble conjuring frozen, treeless tundra and am thinking this yarn reminds me of the tundra's slightly-more-southern sibling, the swampy, earthy muskeg. Which I suppose I should have even more trouble imagining here in drought-plagued central Texas, but I gotta try.

I spent a few hours this morning getting some weeds out of the front yard. After landscaping a few years back, the mulching has impeded most weed growth, but early spring always brings out some die-hard invaders. Being out in the cool morning and digging in the ground was good therapy for me. And we just got back from the world's shortest Mardi Gras parade led by one of our 2-year-old neighbors and 20 or so of her closest friends. It really lifted our spirits.

Thanks to all the kinds words and thoughts sent our way this past week. They've meant a lot.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


This is a picture of our dog, Silas, taken on his last day, a few hours before we took him to the vet to be euthanized yesterday.

Silas came to live with us on Easter Sunday in 1998. A professor of Jeff's from graduate school told him that an acquaintance of hers was trying to find a home for a dog that had been abandoned at a local dog park. This friend was often the first one to arrive at the park in the morning, and one day, there was Silas. Someone had slipped him into the park with a note around his collar saying that he had been found wandering around Town Lake, but that his rescuer's landlord wouldn't allow keeping him. We met Silas at the park a few times, and decided to try a sleepover Easter weekend. That sleepover lasted nearly 11 years.

He loved all people, especially kids, but other dogs not so much. He liked the idea of chasing cats outdoors, but was cowed by any that he met inside. He was never a cuddly animal. He liked to be nearby, especially during thunderstorms, but was content to sleep a few feet away. He snored and chased squirrels in his sleep. He adored Jeff's father. He had no interest in fetching anything tossed on dry land but was absolutely compelled to retrieve anything thrown into a body of water. He was quite skilled at catching food tossed to him. He loved going to the groomer's and the vet's office and seemed to be very popular at both places -- he could really turn on the charm when he wanted to. He loved to ride in the car and was known to jump into strange cars if the doors were left open. He had a very accurate stomach clock that announced mealtimes to the second -- but mercifully, it was flexible on weekend mornings. Whenever we came home, he was always waiting to greet us at the top of the stairs.

Last fall, after some unusual accidents in the house, we took him in for a checkup and some test results warranted further investigation. An ultrasound confirmed that he had a rather large and seemingly fast-growing tumor on one of his adrenal glands that was also impinging on his aorta and causing symptoms of Cushing's syndrome. Although usually treatable, the form that Silas had was not, and due to his age, Jeff and I decided take a course of making him comfortable and waiting. We knew that we would have to make a tough decision when the time came. This past Sunday evening he stopped eating and he became increasingly wobbly over the next several days. So we made an appointment with the vet for last night. It was very difficult, but very necessary.

He was a good dog. We are really going to miss him.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Gloves Are Off...

...the needles! I finished them last night. Thought I'd take advantage of all the sun to take some quick pictures and squeeze in a quick post during my lunch hour, since I had the luxury of starting my work day with a meeting not far from my house.

I re-knit the first glove from the base of thumb up, starting Sunday. The fingers really don't take much time -- the main issues I had concerned fit. I had a really hard time gauging how long to make the fingers. On size 3 needles using sport weight yarn, a row or two can really make the difference between webbed fingers and floppy tips.

As mentioned earlier, I made some modifications, which I'll detail on the gloves' Ravelry project page soon.

I wouldn't hesitate to make gloves again, although my next pair will probably be with fingering (sock) weight yarn. These gloves are really heavy. I wore them around the house last night and my hands almost got too hot. I'd like to try something with stranded knitting for a little variety in color -- I can hear some readers snorting in disbelief already. But I'm very happy with these gloves, especially since they represent branching out into a new garment, but also because I got this awesome yarn at a swap. One knitter's unused stash is another knitter's treasure.

I got them finished just in time to photograph them on my back deck in a short-sleeved shirt and 82-degree weather!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

In the News

Several weeks ago, a woman from Texas Student Media at the University of Texas at Austin came by The Knitting Nest to take some pictures while I was there knitting with some friends. She told us that they were doing an article about knitting for a campus publication and that it would be available in mid-February.

Well, a few weeks ago it came out and I finally got to see a copy. I found out about it when Stacy emailed me a picture she'd taken of the article from her iPhone -- definitely one of those in my future. Of all the pictures of the photogenic knitters there that day, they chose this one of me. I'm not mentioned in the article at all which you can read if you click here for a larger version. I'm just the eye candy.

It's actually a pretty good picture of me. It looks posed, but really we were just hanging out. I was working on the first (and more deformed) of the Men's Heavy Gloves, though that's hard to discern in the photograph. It has a weird formality to it that kind of appeals to me. But read the article -- it's not about me. It's about my favorite award-winning Local Yarn Shop and the wonderful things it does for Austin knitters. Like the awesome Ravelry festivities that took place yesterday, and which I had to miss. Check out these photos of all the fun I missed!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


This may look like a pair, but it's not.

The one on the right was finished three weeks ago, the one on the left, last night. As I was knitting these gloves, I learned a few things -- too late for the first glove, but just in the nick of time for the second. Uncharacteristically, I thought I could make some alterations that could make these gloves a little more wearable. Yes -- I actually made changes to a pattern. Two of them were pretty easy, but the other was a little more complicated -- and I figured it out all by myself!

Below is a diagram of what I did:

Starting at the bottom with the green line, I stopped the base of the thumb four rows earlier than the pattern called for. Things were looking just a bit too webby on the right glove, and I thought that this might help. It did! I don't think this is a pattern problem, just a personal anatomy issue. Apparently, I'm an ape.

The red line shows that I started the pinkie finger a few rows before the other fingers. I put the pinkie stitches on a holder and cast on in the gap between the fingers, much like the thumb. Look at your hand -- your pinkie probably starts lower on your hand than the other fingers. You'd think I would have a basic grasp of my own anatomy, but Staci actually pointed this out to me. Some patterns take this into account, others don't. I did misread the pattern (forgot I was going in the opposite direction on the opposite hand), and I cast on 4 instead of 2 stitches between the fingers, but I knit them together when the time came to work that finger. No problems.

The blue line indicates that I knit the fingers just a few rows longer. Again, webbing issues on the first glove. I thought they fit perfectly, but when someone with shorter fingers than I tried them on and noted they were too short (thanks, Stephi) I realized that I'd been deluding myself. This time I paid more attention and added a few rows. A few times I had to tink back after finishing the finger because it was too long or too short, but I think I got each one just right.

Now that I know what I'm doing, I'm hoping I can get the right glove back into shape quickly. I'll have to frog back to the middle of the thumb. I have enough yarn -- it might just be easier to start over.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Block Your Socks Off

The True Love Socks are blocking as I write this. I took Janelle's advice and made my own sock blockers. I basically took a finished sock, laid it out across some cardboard, cut it out, traced it to make a second one, and then wrapped both of them using GLAD Press'n Seal® Wrap. Voila - sock blockers. And yes, one leg is longer than the other, but that doesn't really matter.

My only concern is that I made the blockers a little smaller than I actually traced them, thinking that this might make them smaller (I think these look a little large), but being superwash wool, I don't think I'm going to get shrinkage. Unlike George Constanza, superwash wool was designed to NOT shrink in cold water. Go figure. Eh -- if they're too big, some drag queen can always snatch them up, right?

So I washed the socks, rolled them up in a towel to squeeze out the excess water, and then put them on the blockers. They're drying on out kitchen counter right now. It was really easy!

Still dithering about pricing...

Also, I got back to work on the Men's Heavy Gloves some this weekend. I've made some alterations to the second glove (and taking careful notes), that I'm hoping will make for a better overall fit. For instance, it was pointed out to me that the gaps between one's pinkie and ring fingers start lower than the gaps between the other fingers. I'm keeping my, er, fingers crossed that everything works out with these changes. More later.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

♥ Think Pink ♥

I finished the True Love socks this evening. The first sock took me twenty days to complete, the second, six. Pretty standard for me.

I feel like I branched out making these. First of all, they were pink. Very, very pink. Like Angela on The Office, one of my favorite colors is charcoal, so let's just say I was a wee bit out of my comfort zone. But I was knitting with Lorna's Laces, a sock yarn I ♥ to knit with, so that was some small comfort.

I also got to work on some laciness, which I haven't done much of. It definitely requires concentration. The front lattice pattern was a 2-row pattern, and the sides were a 10-row pattern. But for both of these socks, I didn't get the patterns to ever start on the same row. Both patterns had all knit stitches for the even-numbered rows, but they didn't line up. At first this I hated this, but it dawned on me that it was a great way to help figure out what row I was on, so I learned to ♥ the alternation.

I also ♥ the toe-up construction that doesn't look toe-up. It was a very interesting and easy heel that I might try again the next time I do a toe-up pattern. I think it looks better than my attempts at double-wrapped short row heels. I did use Cat Bordhi's method of hiding the stitch wraps, which I ♥ more than Charlene Schurch's method.

I may have mentioned that these socks are destined as silent auction items for a fundraiser for the chorus I sing in. The yarn cost me about $20. What do you think I should set the value of these at to get the bidding started? I thought at first I'd set it at the yarn cost, but Jene says that's ridiculous. Any thoughts or suggestions?

In the meantime I need to wash them and figure out how to get them blocked to women's size eight feet. I'm thinking of trying something with a coat hanger.