Socks, and more socks

Published on Tuesday July 11th, 2006

It’s another sockfest Chez Blue Garter these days. My mother’s here (she’s actually painting my basement as I type – such a good mother is surely deserving of handknit socks!), so I’ve been able to gift her these:

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These are, of course, the Conwy socks from Knitting on the Road. My mother and I have actually been to Conwy (I was thirteen, and thought scrambling all over the crumbling castle was about the best thing ever) and blue is her favorite color, so I thought these would be perfect for her. I knit them on US #0 circs, so I had to adapt the pattern somewhat. In hindsight, I probably would have been fine with #1’s. The socks are a pretty snug fit, even on my narrow feet. But I like the way the Lorna’s Laces stripes so beautifully on #0’s – #1’s make it flash, in my experience, and this sort of tabby effect pleases me much more.

I’ve also finished one of these:

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Love, love this Pomatomus sock. I made one little error in the last chart repetition before the toe – I swear there’s something a little goofy in the instructions – but you can’t really tell, and it’s the part that will be in my shoe anyway. Again, this yarn is fabulous Claudia Handpainted in “Plumlicious”, worked on #2’s as the pattern directs. I didn’t get row gauge, so I shortened the heel flap to avoid knitting a full-on toga for my heel, and I sort of freestyled the toe decreases. Other than that, I’m working Pomatomus exactly as directed. Time to cast on its mate!

But first, back to the basement. My poor indentured parents shouldn’t slave alone, handknits or not.

One last peep before I go:


Tour de Fleece handspun, Part 1! I’ve made two spindles full like this. The folks at the local bike shop where I’m watching the Tour have probably never seen anyone spin and watch cycling at the same time. But they’re kind of digging it, I think. Our new neighbors manage the store and they’re awesome. Yay for awesome neighbors!

Moving day

Published on Thursday July 6th, 2006

Foolish of me to promise pictures when we’re in the middle of moving – of course we had to take the computer equipment down. But Mr. Garter set it up again in record time. So here’s what I’m spinning for the Tour de Fleece:

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Pretty, no? This yummy merino roving is from, the good people whose creation of Malabrigo has already ensured them a place in the Heavenly Kingdom. I don’t think it’s carded quite as well as it could be – there are some gnarly little tiny rat’s nests that are hard to tease out, and some sections draft out beautifully while others want to snag or break apart. But I’m sure most of it is just my own inexperience, and over all I’m really enjoying it. I think I’m improving in terms of consistency, but I still hit frustrating sections where I can’t seem to spin evenly or the single keeps breaking. I’m pretty sure I’m still overspinning, but I don’t know how to solve this and also keep the yarn strong enough not to pull apart when I get to spindling a long length of it. How far down should I let the spindle dangle before I wind up the new yarn? I should probably find a class to take so I can figure out what the heck I ought to be doing, eh?

So far I’m 6 for 6 getting up to watch the Tour, although I did miss one day of spinning when I brought all the fiber over to the new place but ended up staying one more night with Mr. Garter’s parents. Don’t worry – I’ll spin on a rest day to make it up.

The 4th was our first in the new house. And it was quite a surprise. Our neighborhood looks pretty sleepy and demure, the kind of place where people spend more time gardening than hitting the bars, where children and chickens and cats hang out in the street and no one worries about them. But things get a little spicier for Independence Day: everyone was out in the road lighting off firecrackers, many of them quite a bit more impressive than you’re allowed to buy in Oregon. And our neighbor, a kind and placid-seeming mother of three, threw a raging party with big-league fireworks that shook our house until nearly midnight. Poor Mingus endured the explosions pretty bravely, but lost it when they broke out the screaming, crackling variety. The little guy thinks we’ve transferred him to the mouth of Hell. He likes the window seats, though.

Next up: I’ve got a finished Pomatomus sock to show you! And my mother’s finally coming to collect her birthday Conwys, so I’ve got to block and photograph them. I’ve been working and moving too hard these past few days to knit much, but I’m making progress on the Viennese Shrug. Only one sleeve to go.


Published on Friday June 30th, 2006

Tomorrow begins the Prologue of the Tour de France (in Veronique’s hometown!), and I had a spirited post prepared about my enthusiasm for the sport of cycling and my commitment to absurdly early rising in order to watch the television coverage. Then I was blindsided by a shocking headline in this morning’s Oregonian: the elite riders, including my beloved Ivan Basso and everyone’s perennial arch-nemesis Jan Ullrich, have been kicked out of the Tour because of allegations that link them to the big Spanish doping scandal that’s been going down all month. Instead of providing us with what could have been the most exciting Tour in years, they have to go home and try to prove their innocence. I’m distraught. Doping is bad. It’s bad for the sport, and I worry about the health of the riders to succumb to the temptation to elevate their performance by artificial means. And I know it’s widely prevalent in cycling and that the authorities need to crack down. With great competition comes great pressure to deliver results by any means necessary, and cheaters need to be caught and penalized to maintain the integrity of the game. But what poor management of the crisis, to wait until the eleventh hour to name names, to hold a “guilty until proven innocent” policy that denies us the chance to watch the greats go head to head. If they’re guilty, are they still greats? Depends how clean their rivals are, I suppose. If everybody’s doping (and it’s becoming hard to believe otherwise in Pro Tour cycling), obviously people like Armstrong, Basso, and Ullrich are still higher calibre athletes. If, by some miracle, the authorities have really caught all the cheaters in one fell swoop this time, these men didn’t deserve the titles they’ve earned after all.

Either way, it’s a sad day for cycling and I need a new guy to root for over the next 23 days. It’s hard to trust that any of them are riding clean, and I pity the winner who’ll always wonder if he had enough to beat Basso, Ullrich, and Vinokourov (who isn’t implicated in the scandal, but so many of his teammates were that there aren’t enough left to field a team for the Tour). His victory will be cheapened if the heavyweights are found to be innocent after all. I’m almost discouraged enough not to want to watch the Tour at all, but the question of who will rise to the top in this diminished field is pretty intriguing. I think Levi Leipheimer will be my man. He’s got great form this season, and he rides like a gentleman and a champion, whether he’s doing EPO and blood doping or not. And besides, I have a commitment to honor. I pledged to take part in a challenge thought to be free of any scandalous wrong-doing or performance-enhancing drug use:


Because I’m still very new at this spinning stuff, my challenge is just to spin every day. I’ve started a spindle of foxy orange merino roving, and I’m going to finish all that I have. I was also going to try to spin together some black, white, and red mystery roving that the Spiders gave me, to make CSC yarn in honor of Basso. Now that he’s out, I’m not sure my heart’s in it. Instead, I’m going to try to get through a ball of yummy teal merino. Pictures tomorrow, I promise.

I’m a lot less full of joy about the Tour de France than I was when I woke up this morning. It’s something I look forward to all year, so I’m very deflated. But hopefully the prospect of spinning practice can keep me excited to roll out of bed at 5:30 each morning, and I know new stars will emerge and the race will manage to be compelling in new ways. Spin clean, everybody.

Baby’s first handspun

Published on Saturday December 17th, 2005

It ain’t too pretty, but I made some yarn. This is Romney gifted to me by Marie, who also generously loaned me her spindle to get started. It was such fun using the drop spindle that I bought 200g of roving to practice on, and there just might be a field trip to The Yarn Tree in Brooklyn to acquire a spindle of my own in January! Worry not, ye knitters, this isn’t going to morph into a spinning blog. There’s too much knitting to be done. Like five more inches on Gansey Sleeve #1. Right. Back to it.