Gone Camping!

The family is taking a much-needed break. We leave today for Pacific Beach. Imagine me here:

That's our actual campsite, courtesy of the Washington State Parks website. And yes, that's the ocean just beyond the picnic table... Yay! We'll be pitching a tent and putting up a screened enclosure by 2pm. It's been about 15 years since I last camped. The last trips were to the Outer Banks. I've psyched myself up for this first-time with C, all-family, camping extravaganza!

It will be nice to have a break from the oppressive temps in Seattle this past week. Today we hit 89 degrees in our house. (No air conditioning here because you normally don't need it for more than a week each summer.) Fortunately, the ocean-side forecast says 68 degrees and sunny, with a nice shoreline breeze!

I'm taking lots of knitting, some spinning, and some design projects. Truth be told, the knitting was packed before my suitcase. And yes, I'm also taking some stuff to read for the dissertation—but no computer.

See you again around Independence Day!

Mash-Up Magic Toe-Up Socks (Recipe)

My first socks of summer are done, blocked, and photographed!

Too bad they don't count towards my Summer of Socks 2008 participation! I do have two other legitimate SoS08 pairs on the needles right now. Sadly, I cast the ones pictured on on Father's Day, as I needed an in-process demonstration sock for the magic loop class I taught.

I've dubbed them the Mash-Up Magic Toe-Up Socks (MUMTU Socks or MUMTUS), and I've posted the condensed version of the pattern on Ravelry. Ravelers can view the project page here. Anyone can download the PDF by clicking here.

(ETA) You can also work through the pattern using my in-depth workshop/pictorial here on Aesthetic Entanglementz.

If you're not on Ravelry, don't despair—I haven't forgotten you! I've just run out of time to complete the conversions needed to post the pattern here before I leave for my camping trip in the morning. I am working on the pictorial for a workshop version of the pattern that will debut on Aesthetic Entanglementz shortly after I return from vacation later this week. (Another pair of socks that won't count towards my Summer of Socks participation since I'll be making them kid-sized. Alas—C just couldn't handle seeing another pair that wasn't for her!)

Aside from the fact that this pattern's customizable for any size, yarn weight, or gauge, what makes it special is that it features a pretty gusset and heel-flap (rather than a short-row heel) worked in the toe-up, magic loop construction.

My favorite! If I never saw another sock design, I could happily make these forever!

Here are my notes on the socks as pictured:

Pattern: Mash-Up Magic Toe-Up Socks (Recipe compiled by me). Download PDF.
Materials: Zitron Trekking Pro Natura, 1 skein, colorway 1602
Needles: US 1 / 2.25 mm
Started: June 15, 2008
Completed: June 27, 2008

Specs as pictured:

  • Magic Loop
  • Toe-Up
  • 2 at once
  • 2x2 ribbing on leg
  • Gusset
  • Eye of Partridge Heel Flap
  • Reinforced toes (using laceweight Russian wool from my stash)
  • Primary Stitch Count: 72

Love the pattern. Love the fit. Even might be persuaded to say I love the feel of the yarn. But I strongly dislike the look of the yarn. So much so that I lovingly refer to this pair as my "Anti Pro Natura Socks."

I really wish Zitron—and other yarn manufacturers, in general—would state on the ball band whether there’s a clear repeat within the yarn or not. They don't really have to include a picture of what exactly the pattern looks like, but some indication would be nice! You know, like: Repeating pattern, 3 yards. Aside from being courteous, it would make for happier customers, I think. In the case of the Pro Natura, I couldn’t discern a clear repeat when I was dividing the skein and winding the balls. However, about 4 inches into the socks, it became readily apparent that there is, in fact, a repeat … and that I hadn’t gotten the socks aligned. (In fact, I was only off by a slight margin, but that was nothing more than luck.) Grrrr.

Besides the repeat issue, I really just dislike how the colorway worked up. It's too bad because I thought the yarn was absolutely gorgeous in the skein. I liked it so much that I almost bought 2 skeins! But when I look at it worked up, I think it's bleghchy. I’m just not a fan of the areas of white pooling or of the way the contrast works. This is the kind of colorway and striping that makes me cranky, in general, because it rarely looks good knit up and just indicates to me that the yarn manufacturer wasn’t working with enough sensitivity to finish project.

So I ended up hating these socks the entire time I worked on them–not because of the pattern or concerns over fit or amount of yarn but, simply, because I don’t like the way the yarn looks. Some have asked why I continued knitting them if I dislike them so much—and why, on earth, I would have knit the cuff so long? Well, there's the obvious fact that these were being knit as a demonstration sock for the class. In addition to that, I decided they'll be good for wearing under boots (I'm wear boots almost every day during the cold months). That means nobody’s going to be looking at them. It also means they need to be long enough to peek over the boot top so the edge doesn't chafe my leg. Purely practical.


Swagged and Tagged


We're almost one week into Summer of Socks 2008 — can you believe it?!

My graphic design for the Along button has been worked and re-worked into a veritable (and virtual) warehouse full of official SoS08 swag. Check out all the goodies at the Summer of Socks 2008 storefront on CafePress. We gotcher t-shirts, mugs, hats, magnets, notecards, stickers -- even a little something socky for the family pooch!

Think I'm kidding? Think again!

My family won't be dressing the dogs — J has a thing about dogs wearing clothes — but I fully support all of you who like your Fidos fashion-forward!

Jessica, of Zarzuela Knits & Crochets, has done an amazing job with the Along and with the store. She seems to be a never-ending bundle of sock-pushing energy, and it's been an absolute pleasure working with her. If you have a minute, I highly recommend checking out her blog (here) and the Summer of Socks 2008 group on Ravelry (here). It's too late to sign up for "official" participation, but you can still play along (you just aren't eligible for prizes).

Speaking of eligibility for prizes... So far my participation in the Along has been more about helping other people knit socks than knitting my own, although I do have 3 pairs in the works. (Sadly, one of these pairs was started before the official June 21 kick-off, so it doesn't count.) I spent June 21 at A New Yarn teaching a sock class! We're working on toe-up, 2-at-once, magic loop socks with a heel and gusset. My favorite. I put together a customizable pattern for making these socks with any yarn or needles and for any size foot. I've written up two versions: one a workshop format for people completely new to socks and/or magic loop; the other a condensed format that assumes you know the basics and just provides the pattern. I'm pretty proud of it, and plan to share just as soon as I get some pictures added. Y'all have my sister to thank for that. She's been vetting the pattern this week and has said that while it's solidly written, she thinks people will be much more likely to actually use it if there are helpful images. I get that. Images first, then share the pattern!


Juicy Knits in Heidelberg, Germany, tagged me for a meme. I'm not normally one to do these, but stranger things have happened — so here goes:

1. What were you doing 10 years ago?

June 1998, J & I had been together for 9 years, married for 7. I was editor of Akron Magazine, facilitator and lead writer for The University of Akron's 10-year Master Academic Plan, advisor of The University of Akron's Tel-Buch yearbook staff (with the most amazing and talented group of student workers ever -- that's you, Jaimie and Kelly!), and faculty advisor for Eta Chapter of Delta Gamma. I was on the advisory board of Akron Metropolitan magazine, immediate past-president of Summit County's American Cancer Society Associate Board, and a board member of the Akron Press Club. J & I were still trying to figure out our artistic place in the world after leaving New World Performance Lab, an internationally touring ensemble we had helped to found, performed with, and which I'd music directed for many years. I had recently begun helping Magical Theatre Company in Barberton, Ohio, with study guides for school group visits to their shows. I was also music director, keyboardist, and lead vocalist for the NRSB (New Revised Standard Band), a popular contemporary Christian rock band for the then-thriving contemporary worship services at Church of the Savior United Methodist in Canton, Ohio. J & I were living in Akron, Ohio, had finished renovating our first house (on Pioneer Street in the Goodyear Heights neighborhood). We'd put it on the market in April and were thinking about moving to Manhattan. We'd been making regular trips to NYC for various theatre auditions (J had recently gotten his Equity card) and job interviews (I was up for a book editor position with Time-Warner. I was also interviewed to assist Sarah Ban Breathnach on her Simple Abundance follow-up series.) I drove an aqua-colored Chevy Cavalier convertible that O.J. Simpson once rode in for a Football Hall of Fame Parade (before the murders, but people still joked about gloves in the trunk). I was busy, and I was on a conscious mission to figure out what made people happy... how they knew they were happy... and what being happy really felt like in its purest sense.

2.What are five things on my to-do list?

My to-do list is so daunting it makes me shudder every time I think about it. Five things don't even tip the iceberg! Finish my dissertation. Knit socks, spin yarn, and generally be creative. Teach the final session of my sock class. Pack for the family camping trip next week. Finish the embarrassing stack of laundry I've allowed to pile up. Make travel arrangements for a fiber-fest week with my sister in Oregon in September. Take pictures so I can update my blog with stuff I've been doing since my last post. Sell one of the scooters. Clean and organize the garage... again. Catch up on correspondence with friends.

3.Where have I lived?

Kirksville, Missouri; Richmond Heights, Ohio; Madison, Ohio; Conneaut, Ohio; Akron, Ohio; Irvine, California; Kyiv, Ukraine; Seattle, Washington.

4. What would I do if I were a billionaire?

It may be more a question of what I wouldn't do: I wouldn't buy a bunch of material things or give over to commercial gluttony. There are so many worthy things I would want to contribute to:

Family things: provide for C's education, mine & J's retirement, and our family legacy through careful planning and investment; have or adopt another child; buy land and a home equipped for sustainable living on one of the San Juan Islands; take care of my mom; set up an education fund to benefit all my nieces and nephews; pay back my dad for everything he's helped with over the years; send my sister to India for a year of travel and yoga study; send my brother to graduate school for architecture.

Social things: set up a foundation for social justice; set up a foundation in my mother's name for stroke research; set up a foundation in my mother-in-law's name for breast cancer research; set up a foundation in my aunt's name for Parkinson's Disease research; set up a foundation in my uncle's name for Crohn's Disease research; set up a foundation for Meniere's Disease research; set up a foundation for the arts in J's name, focusing on capacity building and entrepreneurial skills for emerging theatre artists/orgs, fostering arts-service organizations across the country (such as Theatre Puget Sound), and supporting international artistic exchange and ensemble-based work; establish an endowed fund for dissertating theatre scholars at the UW School of Drama; establish an endowed scholarship for interdisciplinary work between the arts and sciences; endow a scholarship for 75 teachers from Seattle Public Schools and neighboring, rural public schools to attend Teachers as Scholars seminars annually; endow a scholarship in my mother's name for women in seminary; endow a scholarship in my father's name for the underprivileged youth in the dual study of medicine and law.

Artistic things: Provide Akropolis Performance Lab (sorry, the website's out-of-date since I'm working on my dissertation!) with a bricks-and-mortar performance space/community arts center in the city; found an artistic retreat/educational/training facility in the country; set up a fund for APL to tour internationally.

Do I really have to tag people?! Unless I get bombarded with comments crying foul, I'm thinking I'll do the knitting blogosphere a favor and pull this particular trail of the meme off the march to exponential proliferation.

Next time... actual knitting and spinning stuff!!!


Time Flies & Other Fun

It's been nearly a week since I blogged! I'm in an intense spell with work, but there's been a little fun mixed in, too.

For instance, I reorganized my knitting binder. You know... the place I store all my printed patterns in neat little plastic sleeves. Well, it was bursting at the seams, so I pulled out all my sock stuff and made a separate binder for socks. I must confess, the sock binder's bigger than the other. It might not be clear yet in this blog, but I love knitting socks.

What?!?! Binder not fun enough for you? How about new spindles?!

Mystery package + the 2 fancy spindles (above) + 3 basic donut spindles (below) = I have the best sister ever!

Here's what I now lovingly refer to as my Birthday Spindle Trifecta:

They are (L-R):
Oh look, they're gorgeous from behind, too!

Obviously, I wasted no time testing them out. The Ethan Jakob is loaded up with its third batch of the merino/silk I've been spinning into sock yarn. The Square Mini has a red and black mystery wool. Katherine's Cup has lime and yellow mystery wool. All the fibers came from A New Yarn.

In the not-too-distant past, I might have scoffed at the idea of collecting a bunch of spindles. After working with all these different kinds—including the beginning spindles, the CD spindles, and trusty Fang, my Schecht Hi-Lo—I've changed my attitude. I totally get it now. It's not just about amassing a spindle stash or fetishizing the object. Each has a completely different spinning personality and a different optimal use.

I'm blown away by how well the Square Mini spins. Great balance. Very good spin time.

Ethan Jakob spins like a little tornado. The spin time off each flick is shorter than with other spindles, which bothered me at first, but I quickly realized that I move through a lot of fiber very quickly with this one, so I'm not complaining.

Katherine's Cup is the one I had been coveting before my birthday. I had opted for a smaller spindle at the time, worried that this one would weigh too heavy on my hand. Boy was I wrong. This one is a solid, impeccably balanced, joy to spin. It spins forever. Absolute stability. It may be my favorite of the three (for now... each one is my "favorite" when I'm using it!).

As for knitting...

No new pictures of her, but the Bad Woman Wrap is about 70 percent done now. It's a great project to work on in the car, at C's Irish Step Dance Class, during conversations, etc., because I don't have to think too much while I'm knitting. Given the size now, though, it's become a little less portable in stand-and-walk circumstances.

And I started these:

Socks (duh), worked toe-up on magic loop. They're test socks. I'm teaching a class on toe-up, two-at-once, magic loop socks with a heel flap and gusset for A New Yarn later this month (June 21 & 28, to be exact, if you're in the area and want to join us). Preparations have involved writing up my pattern, and I wanted to knit a pair from the page to catch typos before handing it out to the class.

The yarn is the Zitron Trekking Pro Natura I got at Poppies Fine Yarn on Orcas Island (Eastsound, WA) in January. I had been so excited about this yarn, but I have to say I'm not loving it. You may recognize it from it's first appearance as a test knit for the toe-up Monkey lace in this post. I didn't like it then, frogged it, and hoped I would like it better in another pattern and with a different needle. When I first started these test socks, I would have sworn the yarn was cursed! First, I cast on and knit about 2" into the foot before I woke up and realized I'd only cast on half the number of stitches I needed—so the socks had the longest, pointiest toes you've seen on anything outside of Turkey! The next time I cast on, I counted stitches at least 3 times before beginning to knit only to discover later that I had different counts on each needle! (Must have been sleeping when I made that mistake.) Third time was the charm. Cast on properly and have made steady progress since.

These socks are being worked on US1 and will be a basic stockinette throughout. At the time of the picture, I had just finished the toe increases, cut the reinforcing thread, and completed a couple rows of the foot. For the reinforcing thread, I used a dark grey laceweight Russian wool from my stash. I didn't have a card of reinforcing thread in the right color for the Pro Natura.

In other news...

I've been working on an exciting stealth project that's not knitting but is knitting-related. Also summer-related. And sock-related. Should be public by early next week at the latest. Can't wait to tell you all about it soon!