Saturday, October 21, 2006

Cape May, Here We Come!

After 10 days of dealing with the cold from Hell (it's going around D.C.), followed by two days of rushing around to finish everything we couldn't do while we were sick, Chris and I are finally getting ready to leave for our annual trek to Cape May, where we always stay at the WONDERFUL Albert Stevens Inn...

I'll be gone for a week, and won't have computer access. But you can rest assured I'll be knitting and knitting and knitting (socks, of course, since it's Socktoberfest) time. Doing lots of reading (I'm into Elizabeth George these days). And, of course, buying yarn!

Oh, and we'll be EATING! Lenanne cooks up the most amazing breakfasts in the world...we're always stuffed until dinner time, at which point her husband, Jim, gives us the low-down on all the best restaurants in town, from good cheap eats to pricey gourmet chow :-)

When I come back, I'll post some more pictures on my flickr page (to see last year's photos, click here).

Have a wonderful week!


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Socktoberfest 2006: You got questions...I got answers

So here, a little late (better than never, right) are my answers to Lolly's Socktoberfest questions:

When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?
I started making socks in 2005. I taught myself, with the help of Knitty's sock-knitting tutorials. Now that Neighborhood Fiber Company is up and running, I hope to design lots of sock patterns to support our yarn!

What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time?
My first pair...I think I ripped out a few. Finally (FINALLY!) I finished the blue socks that I wrote about last week. Pitiful that it took me so long to finish them, but I had a lot of other projects going. And for some reason, the "sock-knitting bug" didn't bite me the way it bites other knitters. Not a life-altering experience. But I liked making them.

What would you have done differently?
I would have started knitting socks sooner! For some reason, I was terrified of double-pointed needles until last year. Suddenly I gained courage, and they started to make sense. Now I love them...LOVE them! I almost cried when I broke a US #1 ebony needle while knitting some gloves for my husband.

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?
I've used Dale Sisik, Koigu, Karabella 8, Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, and a few others. I love the feel of Sisik and Karabella 8 for "indoor socks." Neighborhood Fiber Company--the hand-painted yarn company Karida and I launched this year--also makes sock yarn...lush as Koigu, with gorgeous saturated colors. I'll post some photos of socks made with our yarn one of these days...

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?
I love DPNs, but for convenience I've been using the Magic Loop (one circular). Doing the gussets on one circ is a real pain, though. I might end up using two circs for "traveling socks," and DPNs for the ones I make at home. I'm not a big fan of crocheted socks (or crocheted clothing, for that matter...sorry!)

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)
I like a nicely turned heel with a flap. I like the design possibilities. Short row heels leave me a bit cold, but they're great for quick knitting and toe-up patterns.

How many pairs have you made?
Oh, I don't know. A few? Several? I didn't keep count. Like I said, I tend to rip things out if I'm not happy with the way the yarn's working, if I realize I don't like the pattern after all, or if I get bored with them. Since I stopped using other people's patterns, I've found sock knitting much more energizing. I've completed two pairs in the past two months...along with the million and one other knitting projects I have going.


Love, Knitting, and One Skein of Blue Sky Cotton

I am so lucky. My husband Chris can speak the language of knitting and spinning. I can talk to him about cables, increases, decreases, knitting in the round vs. knitting flat (why?). He knows what I mean when I talk about preparing fibers to spin, about draw, about plying. And he's my best knitting "audience."

I can even wake him up in the middle of the night to show him what I finished and KNOW he'll be enthusiastic, not grumpy. Yep...he's my true love. (And not just because he can listen to me talk about knitting and really seem to care--he's pretty wonderful all 'round.)

(Here we are, at the US Grand Prix last June, in Indy.)

Now, don't get me wrong. I know this is all very annoying and schmoopy, but I hope the fact that I truly appreciate him every day helps assuage the fact that I'm bragging a little.

So, when you love someone, you want to keep them warm and safe, right? Well, Leigh Radford came to the rescue. Her scarf designs from One Skein are terrific. Easy, easy knits. Quick knits. And the finished objects are beautiful. Thank you, Leigh.

I made this one in Blue Sky Cotton in Khaki, on US #9 Addi Turbo needles from Stitch DC (my LYS). Chris loved it, and I was more than pleased!

This photo is a bit blurry, but I liked the way the shadows highlighted the cables...

As you might have guessed, Chris now has quite a bit of winter wear. In the near future, he'll also receive a Cricket Jumper (for now, buying that much yarn is more than our budget can bear). But meanwhile, his neck and hands will be warm...

And soon, so will his feet! Socks are on their way...


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Warm Toes = Happy Husband (knitting cozy socks)

My husband always knows when the temperature drops below 75...he's visited by my frigid little toes, wiggling their way under (or pressed against) his furnace-like legs. He generates heat. I don't. Really, that HAS to be a male/female thing, from my observations and eavesdroppings. Women seem to get cold hands and feet more often. Must be our warm hearts. spare him (and me) the shock of icy toes, I've been knitting some cozy socks to wear around the house. There are several requirements of a cozy house sock:
1) It must be soft and thick
2) It must be slouchy, not tight
3) It must be aesthetically pleasing, in one way or another
4) It must be dark colored, so as not to show floor grime after just one wearing
5) It must be warm (duh)

My first pair, pictured above, is knit in Sisik, from Dale Yarns (a tweedy, wool/mohair blend with a little bit of synthetic fiber). They're simple, just 48 stitches on US #2 double pointed needles (or did I use size 3?). I knit a 2 x 2 rib cuff, then switched to 3 x 1 ribbing for the rest of the sock. Nothing fancy, though I did use a heel stitch (slip 1, knit 1, purl back) on the heel flap. They're warm, fuzzy, slouchy, soft, and dark, in a pretty tweedy indigo color. I love them.

This week, I'm completing a second pair of cozy socks, knit from Karabella 8 in a rich eggplant color. I can't imagine a knitter being unfamiliar with Karabella 8, but for those few unconverted, it's a soft-as-can-be 100% Merino yarn that anyone could wear next to the skin without a single itch. I've been working these on two circular needles, though I did switch to just one circ (magic loop method) for the second's just easier for me. I don't like dangling needle ends.

I wanted these to be a bit shorter, more like ankle socks. So I did a 2 x 2 cuff, then worked a mini cable five times before starting the heel flap. Again, nothing fancy about the heel or toe.

The completed sock feels amazing...the yarn's natural cushiness and springiness were not lost in the knitting. They fit like a dream, hugging my feet like they're old friends.

And I really do like the length--though next time I might work only four pattern repeats before doing the heel flap.

Yesterday and today, we've had a great taste of "Indian Summer" in D.C. But it's supposed to be back in the 60s by tomorrow. The second pair should be done by then...

No more cold toes for Chris to warm. Now, that's got to be good for a marriage.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Neighborhood Fiber Company: We ARE Crafty Bastards!

Yesterday was Neighborhood Fiber Company's grand debut, as Karida and I sold our first batch of yarn via the Stitch DC table at the Crafty Bastards Arts & Crafts Fair in DC's Adams Morgan neighborhood. Here's a sample...

That's Duplex, a 50/50 merino/kid mohair blend, in our "LeDroit Park" colorway. It's lofty, and soft as silk. The pattern is "Tiara," a simple elongated-stitch scarf pattern that can be knitted up as a cravat-style keyhole scarf or as a longer scarf without the keyhole. The pattern will be available shortly! Here's another peek:

Meanwhile, back at Crafty Bastards, our friends reported that they overheard knitters "squealing" over the colorways and snapping up our yarns. I have one thing to say to this: YAY!

Karida and I, we ARE crafty bastards, aren't we?



Remember me? I was mentioned in one of Hannah's first blog entries. Well, I've been living in "the library" (aka: hallway) for quite a while now. They sure do have a lot of books. And monkeys. Lots of monkeys.