Hi, everyone.

Thanks for your patience with the recent inactivity on my blog. After our camping trip—which was lovely—a death in the family took me out of town and away from the blog. Uncle Blair was my mom's older brother, a higher math teacher retired from Titusville High School and the University of Pittsburgh. He taught me chess, loaned my mom the old ribbon-style typewriter that fascinated me so much I started writing stories in early grade school, introduced computers to his schools and to me, and always graciously helped when I called him with questions about my calc homework in high school. His death was not expected so soon. I have just returned to Seattle from the funeral and family activities in Western Pennsylvania and Northeastern Ohio. An unexpected trip home. Simultaneously, we've discovered other unexpected expectings... which I'll be blogging about much more in the near future.

I do have several finished knitting projects, spinning, and other fibery endeavors to share and will start putting some posts together.

My cup runneth over with the unexpected—some sad, some good, and some downright exciting!

Best wishes and good health to you all!


Gone Camping - Redux

We're off for our final camping trip of the summer. This time we travel two hours east, into the Cascades, to lovely Lake Wenatchee.

We're tent camping, again, on a primitive site in Lake Wenatchee State Park. Picture me here:

That's our actual site. I imagine we'll set up our 4-person blue and grey tent in the area to the right of the table. We also have a screen-enclosed room that we'll set up over top of the table area, with some lounge chairs. That's the fire pit off to the left. And our old grey Volvo wagon will be parked in front. No doubt C's bike will be splayed around somewhere. We're not too far from the water. I've been told they have killer bugs at Wenatchee, which could be a problem for me. Put me in a room with 300 other people and set 5 mosquitoes loose on the other side of the room, I'll be the only person there with bug bites—and I'll be covered. But I'm relieved that we'll have the shelter and privacy of trees this time, so I don't expect to get blasted by relentless wind and cold like we did at Pacific Beach.

I'm taking more knitting than I possibly will be able to complete in 5 days. Already prepped to go are
  • Continental Maizy Lace Socks (I just reached the heel)
  • all the swatches for the Portland certificate course and conference workshop
  • the shop samples of my Tweedy Cabled Cap and (still-to-be-designed) matching scarf for the classes I'm teaching in November
  • 2 stealth Christmas projects
  • an as-yet unselected new sock pattern
I just looked at that list again and realized how insane it is. Maybe I'll only bring 1 of the 2 stealth Christmas projects!

Of course, all sorts of things have come up today to make us question whether we should go at all.

First, one of our dogs had an emergency trip to the vet this morning for what turned out to be 2 really really bad infections (I won't give the gory details, but I will tell you he's not happy about wearing diapers—especially not "cute" ones with pink and blue paw prints. . . I can't say that I blame him. He's a DOG, for cryin' out loud, not a baby!) He's on 3 medications and a special prescription diet, but he'll still be accompanying us on the trip.

Second, after dinner C started complaining about not feeling well. She had me feel her forehead. Felt fine. Five minutes later, she's barfing all over the place. We're pretty sure it was a one-time thing. Maybe a strange combination of food. She has a tendency to mix orange juice with things it just wasn't meant to go with. As with the dog, she will still be accompanying us on the trip, too.

Pleasant day at our place. Full of amazing sights, sounds, and smells.

If anything goes wrong in the morning, and we believe either the dog or the child should not go camping, I will stay home with the invalid and will send J off with all others well enough to enjoy the trip. It wouldn't be the end of the world, as far as I'm concerned—it would give me a lot more dissertation-writing hours per day than I get with everyone home—but let's all cross our fingers that it doesn't happen.

So I'm hanging out the "Gone Camping" shingle until next weekend!


Old Dog . . .

. . . New Trick!

Did you catch that, observant and loyal blog readers? It may be subtle, so I'll bring it close up:

I was going to turn this into a guessing game and have you place your guesses in the comments then reveal the answer tomorrow with some fabulous prize, but I've never been much for suspense. Besides, I wouldn't be able to talk about the WIP if I did that because the name would give it away.

The pattern is Maizy Lace by Cathy Hannigan. The yarn is called Maizy—and it's 82% corn fiber, 18% elastic nylon—in the Neptune colorway. My first time working with the stuff. So far so good. . . It's different, but not in a bad way. I opted for Magic Loop technique but am sticking with top-down construction, as written.

I'm calling this project my Continental Maizy Lace Socks. (hint hint hint)

Surely you've guessed it by now?!

I'm knitting Continental instead of Western. I'm picking instead of throwing.

Every stitch.

Just because.

It's no small thing re-training my hands after 30 years of knitting!


Meet You There, Sis!

I talked my sister into doing this with me:

September 10, 2008
8:30am - 8:30pm
Doubletree Hotel
Portland, OR
It's being held in conjunction with this:

2008 Fall Knit & Crochet Show
A Crochet Guild of America (CGOA) &
The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA) Conference
September 12-14, 2008
(with classes beginning Sept. 11)
Oregon Convention Center
Portland, OR

We have homework:

For the 12-hour Certified Instructor's Program:

  • 5” x 5” swatch of each of the following (6 total): Stockinette, Ribbing, Cable Stitch, Yarn Over or Lace Pattern, Fair Isle, and Intarsia
  • Two knitted items we've completed (clothing, household, or decorative)

For the 3-hour class we're taking at the conference Friday, Fully Fashioned and

  • Swatch #1: With smooth worsted weight yarn and appropriate knitting needles, CO 13 sts. Work Stockinette St for 1", ending after a purl row. Slip sts onto holder.
  • Swatch #2: With smooth worsted weight yarn and appropriate knitting
    needles, CO 28 sts. Row 1 (RS): *K1, yarn over, K1, SSK, K6, K2tog, K1, yarn
    over, K1. Repeat from * across. Row 2 and all WS rows: Purl across. Row 3: *K2, yarn over, K1, SSK, K4, K2tog, K1, yarn over, K2. Repeat from * across. Row 5: *K3, yarn over, K1, SSK, K2, K2tog, K1, yarn over, K3. Repeat from * across. Row 7: *K4, yarn over, K1, SSK, K2tog, K1, yarn over, K4. Repeat from * across. Row 8: As Row 2. Repeat Rows 1-8 twice, ending after Row 8 of patt. Slip sts onto holder.
  • Swatch #3: With smooth worsted weight yarn and appropriate knitting
    needles, CO 22 sts. Row 1 (RS): P8, K6, P8. Row 2: K8, P6, K8. Row 3: P8, slip
    next 3 sts onto cable needle and hold in back of work, K3, K3 sts from cable
    needle, P8. Row 4: As Row 2. Repeat Rows 1-4 until swatch measures approx. 4" from beg, ending after Row 4 of patt. Slip sts onto holder.
  • Swatch #4: With smooth worsted weight yarn and appropriate knitting needles, CO 32 sts. Row 1 (RS): P2, *K3, P2. Repeat from * across. Row 2: Purl across. Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until swatch measures approx. 4" from beg, ending after Row 2 of patt. Slip sts onto holder.
  • Swatch #5: With smooth worsted weight yarn and appropriate knitting
    needles, CO 22 sts. Row 1 (RS): K2, *P2, K2. Repeat from * across. Row 2: P2,
    *K2, P2. Repeat from * across. Repeat Rows 1 and 2 until swatch measures approx. 2" from beg, ending after Row 1 of patt. Slip sts onto holder.

She's arriving in Portland from New Orleans on Tuesday, September 9th, by this:

I'm arriving in Portland from Seattle on Tuesday, September 9th, by this:

Turn that picture around, and you'll see how we both get to Seattle Friday night. You can bet our needles will be clacking in rhythm to the train the entire way!

Also on our agenda:

  • knitting
  • acquiring a fleece
  • picking
  • dyeing
  • carding
  • spinning
  • LYS shop-hopping around Portland and Seattle
  • music-listening (Kell's Irish Pub in Pike Market... Ockham's Razor is playing Saturday night, so B will get to see what we're talking about!)
  • staying up too late
  • giggling
  • drinking lattes and Italian sodas
  • catching up
  • regretting that we don't live closer to each other
  • scheming our next (mis)adventure

She takes the red eye home to NOLA Sunday night.

I start singing another rendition of my famous Miss-My-Sister Blues shortly thereafter.


Downward Spiral—A Cinderella Story?

It had to happen sooner or later: A project that just doesn't work for me. I've hinted around about my despair over this project. I couldn't face blogging about it sooner. But it's time to work through the pain and get it over with.

This cleverly staged photograph masks the utter failure of the downward spiral that was (and is) my Redhawk Tailspin of Pacific Beach Socks, knit from Cat Bordhi's Spiraling Coriolis architecture in New Pathways. Originally intended for me, the socks are being modeled by J because of how ridiculous they look on my feet.

Pattern: Spiraling Master Coriolis by Cat Bordhi
Materials: Mountain Colors Bearfoot, 1 skein (350 yds with quite a bit left), Red Hawk Tail.
Needles: US 2 / 2.75 mm
Started: June 21, 2008
Completed: July 31, 2008
Technique: 2 at once on Magic Loop

I swatched. I checked gauge. I checked and re-checked my measurements and my calculations. If I were to try knitting these again tomorrow, I'd end up working with the same master numbers and would end up with the same bloody mess.

As far as I can tell, the problem likely has to do with my instep: Mine is unusually tall. So using the numbers the architecture specifies for my instep height meant creating a horribly baggy mid-foot and arch. It's an odd experience for me to have any socks too baggy in the arch because my feet are almost completely flat.

These socks fit through the toe and the ball of the foot, and they fit through the "bottom of heel to top of instep" measurement, but they're swimming everywhere else. I did try them on as I knit, and I knew they were awfully baggy . . . but I held true to my faith in the made-to-fit qualities of Bordhi's pattern and convinced myself that something else—surely—would happen in the architectural construction to pull the bagginess around and make them work. Boy was I wrong.

I mean, seriously. Check out the carnage as they blob all over my 9" antique sock blockers:

My first UGH in 30 years of knitting!

(If you look at the top picture again, you can see signs of puckering in the arch area along the left side of the picture, and you can see how straight the right side—which corresponds to the bottom of the foot—looks.)

By the time the sad truth about these socks could no longer be denied, I figured I would felt them to adjust fit. I decided not to frog and re-knit the socks because I simply didn't care enough for the pattern.

I know, I know: Other people love this pattern. More power to them! But besides my issues with the finished results I got, I have a lot of problems with the way the pattern is written, in general. I'm a well-practiced reader of all kinds of patterns and charts. I can't remember the last time I had such issues with the way a pattern was written. Flame me if you want, but I found Bordhi's style tedious and overly complicating of something that need not be so thick.

To be honest, even if the socks fit me better, I don't know how much I'd actually wear them beyond around the house stuff . . . which is what may happen to them anyways if I don't find another foot that fits them.

As for my efforts to felt them? Silly me. I normally knit with non machine-washable wools, but I knit this particular pair with a superwash . . . a fact I remembered only after tossing them in the wash and having them come out exactly the same as before they went in. The good news: Mountain Colors Bearfoot is a fantastic superwash! The bad news: I really would have preferred the option of felting.

Ah well. I'm sure someone with bigger feet will like them. They're customized to fit someone . . . but how will I find the foot? Anyone in contact with Cinderella's prince—or his footman?!


Looking Forward to Fall

Last week I finalized my fall teaching schedule at A New Yarn. I'm offering two classes: Magic Loop Socks and Cables & Twists (details below). Also, the shop will be featuring my MUMTU Socks and Tweedy Cabled Cap patterns as give-aways at Seattle's 4th Annual Stitch & Pitch on Thursday! (You know that the nationwide Stitch & Pitch phenomenon actually got its start here in Seattle in 2005, don't you? Even though it was driven by retail stores, it's yet another reason why Seattle rocks!)

I stopped by A New Yarn yesterday to get this:

Five skeins (one's buried) of yummy Queensland Kathmandu DK in deep purple with flecks of white, blue, pink, and red. I will be knitting up a shop sample of the Tweedy Cabled Cap with one of these skeins. The others are for a scarf I'm designing to match.

Claudia, Program Manager of A New Yarn, will be posting the new class schedule next week. For now, here are the basics:

Magic Loop Socks
October 11, 18, and 25
10am - Noon
Learn to knit two socks at once from the toe up with this clever method. Course includes a lesson in Judy's Magic Cast-On. Join us as we make the Mash-Up Magic Toe-Up (MUMTU) Socks, which will give you a customized fit with whatever yarn weight or needle size you choose.

Cables & Twists
November 8 and 15
10am - Noon
If you love the look of cables and twists but haven't tried them before, now is your chance. Join us as we knit the Tweedy Cabled Cap to learn the basic techniques of making and moving cables and twisted stitches. We will learn methods of crossing stitches both with and without a cable needle.


(Not-So) Crabby

Yesterday I was crabby. Inexplicably so. Nothing was really wrong (except the Red Hawk Tailspin of Pacific Beach socks, which I finished but still can't quite bring myself to blog about... but that's been an ongoing saga). Nothing was really right (except that I sold the extra chicken coop and we got to take C to a free concert at Magnuson Park, where our favorite local band, Ockham's Razor, was playing). I was just mwlechghy, and the mwlechghiness made me crabby.

So when I woke up super early this morning, I went into C's room to cuddle her and said to myself, "No more crabbies today!" Then I remembered one Crab that would actually cheer me up: Crab Nebula!

4 oz of 100% handdyed Corriedale wool top

One of my blog friends, Gwen, sent it to me a couple weeks ago. Gwen's a brand-new college-graduate from Ohio... and I think that when I friended her months back, it was with an email that said little more than, "Hey, Ohio college student! I'm an Ohioan and was an Ohio college student, too." (I know—I was totally lame.) She blogs here, Ravels here, and has a wonderful little Etsy shop here. Gwen's fiber is lovely, and I had resisted for so long, but Crab Nebula called to me.

Here's Gwen's description of the fiber:
This is the first in my Hubble's Eye in Space series, inspired by images taken by the telescope. If you've never seen these amazing photos, check out hubblesite.org. The colors are spectacular! This has been handdyed in pink, yellow, turquoise, green.
Given that I know very little about astronomy, I had to look it up. Crab Nebula is the leftovers from a supernova explosion observed by the Chinese in 1054. It's in the Crab constellation, and it's cloud-like in appearance with what scientists believe to be high-energy particles still present.

I like the way Gwen thinks. I love the way Crab Nebula looks.

What a way to cure the crabbies! I'm going to keep this top around a little longer for my petting pleasure before spinning it.

BTW: Gwen's blog and Etsy shop are called Pieces of String Too Small To Save, and she's always interested in hearing from people about the creative things they do with theirs. Got bits of string? Tell Gwen about them here!