A trip north, with socks

Published on Friday May 5th, 2006

Last weekend Mr. Garter and I took a jaunt up to Seattle to visit friends and relatives. I had an ulterior motive, too – the Seattle Knitting and Fiber Arts Expo was in full swing, too, and I wasn’t about to miss that. I didn’t know what to expect: the only knitting festival I’d attended previously was New York Sheep & Wool at Rhinebeck, and clearly an event held in the Seattle Marriott wasn’t going to be featuring quite so many wooly beasties. And while sheep dog trials in a hotel sound like a pretty good time to me (certainly the dog would be required to load the sheep into the elevator and bring them up or down to the correct floor), I didn’t get my hopes up. Sure enough, the Seattle Knitting Expo was a smaller and tamer affair. I hadn’t signed up for any classes, so I just browsed through the twenty or so vendors’ booths. Blue Moon was there, rocking their famous sock yarn (I didn’t buy any, since I stocked up at Knit Purl a few weeks ago and I still have a huge stash of it from Christmas), but I was disappointed not to see Brooks Farms in attendance. I did do a little stashing at Pat Fly’s Angora Valley booth – I picked up an 800 (!) yard hank of 3-ply wool in “Tartan”, a mix of berry tones, and a 650-yard skein of Fly Super Sport Monarch (formerly Happy Trails 3-ply – a dead ringer for the midweight STR at a much more generous yardage and better price, and superwash to boot) in shades of teal. By the time I had finished shopping, it was raining buckets and the temperature had plummeted. The weather had been so mid-summer glorious all week that I hadn’t even packed a sweater for my trip. So I sat in the lobby shivering in my Clapotis and knit like a fiend on Hourglass. When the rain lightened up a little, I fetched a car for the woman I’d been chatting with (an awesome green Buick with the vanity plate “I KNIT”) and then made my way back to the relatives’ house.

On Monday we drove up to visit my parents for a few days. And of course there was the Sockapaloooza deadline to meet. I almost got the Dalarnas in the mail for Tuesday. Sometimes I forget that when you’re on an island things work a little differently. It turns out the airline that used to carry our mail got all delinquent with their rent payments to the airport and lost their accreditation, so they aren’t allowed to carry the mail anymore. This means the mail has to go out by boat, and that means the post office has changed their hours and now closes at 3:00. Not 3:00:27, which is approximately when I turned up at the door with my package. Alas, my most pathetic appeals could not sway the man locking said door. So the socks had to wing their way to my pal in the other Washington Wednesday morning before I boarded the ferry for a day hike on a neighboring island. But I’m pleased with them – thanks to those of you who suggested blocking on coat hangers. (Click for big!)




Dalarna socks from Nancy Bush’s Knitting on the Road

Dale Baby Ull in cherry red

US#0 Addi circs

As I mentioned previously, I modified the pattern to replace the leg shaping with ribbing. Otherwise, I followed it as written. It has the swirling toe decreases that many people seem to dislike, as they produce a somewhat pointy toe, but I decided to trust Nancy. The blocking rounded out the toes a bit.

I really did knit these babies on the road – in Friday Harbor, WA; Portland, OR; Alpine, TX; Big Bend National Park; and Kansas City, MO. I just hope they fit my pal.

And now I get to await the arrival of my own socks. One of the perks is that I have an actual mailbox to watch. It’s my very first mailbox. Okay, it’s really Mr. Garter’s parents’ mailbox. But my mail comes there, too, and it’s a real novelty for me. Growing up we had a post office box because packs of rowdy boys tend to play mailbox baseball from their trucks. (We’re a little short of teen entertainment in my home community. At least we haven’t resorted to wholesale cow tipping.) Lots of people have mailboxes anyway, but my parents didn’t want to deal with one. So it’s quite a thrill for me to put the electric bill in the box and tip up the little red flag. And it’s totally fun when the postmobile heaves in sight.

Next up: Hourglass sweater!

Howdy, y’all

Published on Thursday April 13th, 2006

I’m back in Texas. Yep, I didn’t learn my lesson the last time…. But Mr. Garter’s sister is getting hitched on Saturday, so here we are. I cast on for my second Sockapaloooza sock yesterday during the three-hour drive from El Paso. Since today is the calm before the nuptial storm, I hope to get a good portion of the leg finished. Tomorrow I’ll be filling Mason jars with green sand and votive candles and tying ribbons on tiny bells and the like, so knitting time will probably be scarce for the next few days. My one-skein wonder is complete, though! It truly was a wonder that I was able to finish it. I wish I could show you the eensy weensy pile of leftover yarn – it’s just the inch-long tail scraps I snipped off. I had to go back and tear out a few rows of the sleeve trim in order to finish the bare minimum of ribbing around the “body”. (I laugh, calling it a body.) It fits, and the decorative stitch work I added looks pretty awesome, I must say. It makes me feel thismuch less goofy wearing a shrug.

After the wedding I’ll be kicking around southwest Texas for a week before we fly up to Kansas City for my uncle’s wedding. So I may not have much computer access. Just pray for me that there won’t be any trips to the ER to report when next I write.

Psst – did you see the Knitter’s Review today? Seattle Knitting and Fiber Arts Expo, baby! I’m there! If you’re in the area and might want to meet up there, please drop me a line. I really need to meet some northwest knitters.

Furtively checking in

Published on Tuesday February 28th, 2006

Pssst…anybody there? I think we’re clear! Mr. Garter is out for a run, so I think we have about twenty more minutes where I can slouch on the packing and blog…oh darn it, I was wrong. He’s at the door right now. Maybe he’ll take pity on my hapless out-of-touch state and let me finish before I go back to breaking rocks packing the kitchenware boxes. Although he’s angry at me for having used the only two unpacked towels to dry some sweaters. Okay, so I forgot it’s his running day and that he’d need to take a shower tonight. But anyway, I’ve packed him, complaining, into the shower with a damp towel that smells of mothballs (sorry, honey), so now we can talk knitting for a few moments before someone shows up to look at the apartment.
I did finish my Olympic knitting with time to spare, and to celebrate I wore it out to a secret hipster restaurant in NoLita on Sunday night instead of watching the closing ceremonies. We at Blue Garter don’t typically frequent secret hipster restaurants, in case you’re wondering, but we were meeting Mr. Garter’s boss and he picked the place. You go into what looks like a little corner taqueria and (if you have a reservation) through a door marked “employees only”, and the oh-so-much-chicer-than-thou host ushers you through the kitchen and into the secret hipster sanctum. It’s all done up like a slightly divey Mexican cantina, but expensive divey (I don’t know if they pull this off anywhere outside New York City, honestly). The drinks and food are pricey but delicious, and my knitting really did pull the “outfit” I’d cobbled out of what’s not pack together pretty admirably. Really, though, you can wear anything you like in New York City as long as you look confident doing it. I know I’m a terrible tease not introducing said knitwear at this point, but it really does need a good six inches of ripping and reworking and then I’ll be able to make a decision whether or not to pursue publication of some kind.

So I give you this:

Olympic knitting, baby! Here I am at the Palasport Stadium in Torino, cheering on the Canadian men’s hockey team during their rout of Germany. Now we will have a moment of silence for the subsequent ignominious fate of said hockey squad, during which we will recognize that they were just setting themselves up to make the tremendous arse-whupping they’re going to dish out in Vancouver 2010 all the more satisfying. Just look at that woman in the seat behind me – she thinks I’m the whackest thing she’s ever clapped eyes on, including the five German guys down below us who are dressed as farm animals and (apparently) Little Bo Peep. Feast your eyes, lady. This is all in the glorious cause of Olympic knitting. How awesome are the gold medals, by the way? Totally better than the real ones, which look like those blingy model CDs they give music artists when their records go gold or platinum.

Okay, now it’s time to pack another box and roust out some odds and ends for dinner. I think it’s going to be spicy black bean burgers and pasta with garlic and olive oil…the remaining contents of the kitchen are pretty uninspiring. I can’t wait until the move is over. We’re going to have all kinds of changes around here. There’s a snazzy new design in the works and everything. I promise, it’s gonna be good! Just stay tuned and bear with the intermittent posting. Thanks!

Cutting loose

Published on Monday January 30th, 2006

It’s official: I am unemployed. Yep, Friday was my last day of work. I have mixed feelings about this. I will deeply miss my wonderful mentor and the camaraderie of my fellow assistants at Penguin, and I will miss the satisfying and challenging process of making children’s books. Last week I was mopey and stressed, and Friday was the worst of all. But then my pal and coworker Sarah gave me this:

She knit me a penguin! This cheered me up and really moved me. Sarah and I picked up the sticks about the same time, and Sarah quickly became the most prolific hat-knitter I knew. All last winter she cranked out hats and scarves like she was clothing an army. But Sarah doesn’t like to knit from patterns, so it means even more to me that she followed the Knitty instructions for this adorable little fellow, and tackled such advanced techniques as short rows and complicated color changes. I really love him.

The above photo also provides a clue to the other major pick-me-up of the weekend: the first Spiders yarn-dying party at Marie’s house. It was epic, folks. I don’t even know how many people were there, but it was at least fifteen. We took turns soaking and dying our yarn, and although the party began at 1pm, it was 9:45 before my bout with the dye bottles wound up the show. Since it was already so late, I took my yarn home and steamed and rinsed it yesterday. Sitting overnight really helped it soak up the dye; the water ran clear immediately. Here it is in the rinse pot:

(Laudamus te, O Olympus E500!) And here it is today, almost dry:

I can’t wait to wind it up and see how it will look. The pumpkin spice, teal, and chartreuse dyes took beautifully. Although I really saturated the deep violet and denim segments, they came out a little paler than I would have expected. And the brown I used to transition the skein on the left from pumpkin into denim and teal seemed nearly black coming out of the bottle, but ended up as a color I’ll name “dusty mouse”. Next time I’ll know to be very liberal indeed with the blues and browns. But I’m delighted with the results, and I’m eager to experiment with dyes in the future. I’m especially interested in plant-based dyes.

And for the final garnish on my new life as a Lady of Leisure, I visited a new yarn store in my neighborhood – Knitty City! This cute place on West 79th just opened a couple of weeks ago, and I’d begun to hear rumors of its existence. Naturally, I had to investigate post haste. It’s simply laid out, well lighted, and inviting. They’re still bringing in stock, but they’re specializing in the new line of Lily Chin yarns (which I hope Knitter’s Review will take a look at soon), and they have a good quantity of staples like Aurora 8, Cascade 220, and Plymouth basics, as well as a strong selection of Bouton d’Or yarns I haven’t seen elsewhere, and attractively priced lines of Frog Tree alpaca and Classic Elite Bazik wool. In fact, prices across the board are very competitive for New York. And they have a tempting array of Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn… yum. I snatched up some Bouton d’Or Aida in two lively turquoise hues. I’d never seen this yarn before, and I’m happy to report it’s delightful – two plies of different intense colors, very springy, and I-can’t-believe-it’s-100%-wool soft. I knit up a quick pair of Last-Minute Knitted Gifts wrist warmers for a friend’s birthday, and I went back for more of this yarn right away. Hooray for another LYS!