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August 28, 2007

De-ruffled and redone :: SURSA

De-ruffled and Redone:



I knit my first Sursa in my favorite NORO SIlk Garden Colorway (84) and loved it and wore it many times. Since knitting my second Sursa, I decided to take off the green ruffle on my first Sursa. I love it both ways, but the de-ruffled version weighs much less and the ruffle won't be the most prominent thing about the shawl any longer. I had forgotten how much of the Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky I had used -- nearly 100 grams. Probably not the best idea to use that particular yarn, but I loved the green so much. And now the wonderful reds in the Silk Garden seem to pop so much more.

Are you on Ravelry yet?

Ravelry has proven to be a wonderful resource for project management and planning. It's delightful to get reacquainted with my finished projects and my wonderful stash. When I dig through my yarns to take photos, I find that I am the happiest when I play with my sock yarns. (Do you think my stash is trying to tell me something)? I probably wouldn't have taken note of it had I not just read this entry on Grumperina's (Kathy's) blog: A Complete Knitter. I'm not ready yet to say I'm not a sweater knitter -- I think I still might be. But I don't get as excited about my sweater yarns as I do my sock yarns. And also . . . while I love the *idea* of lace knitting (and have the lace patterns and yarn to prove it), the reality of lace is that my lifestyle doesn't lend itself to the intense concentration that's required. And the message from the knit-universe seems to be that simply ASKING lace knitters for help will likely be met with an incredulous, "Oh that's so easy," (not for me) or "you should be able to do that" (I'm not). I no longer have anybody nearby who is willing to help me with my knitting -- lace or otherwise. I'm supposed to figure it out on my own. But I know that I know socks -- thanks to good friends and the internet.

And did you hear? I won something! I commented regarding the lovely sock yarn Brenda had on her blog and -- I WON THAT YARN!! How generous of Brenda (thank you!) to enable my shameful commenting and greed. It's a wonderful colorway that I think was meant for me and I said so. Thank you, Brenda! Go check out her blog, Molecular Knitting, and add her to your reads. She posts great cocktails made by her beloved "M." I rarely drink, but now I know where to go if I want to try to mix something fun. And there's knitting too . . . and sometimes beading.

Speaking of blogging, I came across a great entry regarding blogging: Remedies for the Small Blogger Blues. Some background: I had unwisely allowed myself to get sucked into reading what became an unpleasant thread on a message board regarding blogging. This blog entry was a refreshing reminder about where my focus should be. Read it and then go ahead and click over to the one about "branding."

I'm still trying to get in to a groove now that school's started. I don't have as much open-ended time as I thought I would, but I am making an effort to work on my goals -- even if it's just thirty minutes a day. During the school year, that will add up to 5400 minutes of FOCUSED effort towards something I want to achieve. I don't know if that's as interesting to you as it is to me . . . but, WOW . . . 5400 minutes.

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August 24, 2007

Knitting Socks :: Beginners


Trekking XXL, Color 66 (from Loops, Tulsa, Oklahoma)
Crystal Palace DPNs - 2.25 mm
Plain stockinette sock

I debated whether I wanted to post a photo of plain socks but decided that there are still plenty of new sock knitters out there -- and I still love knitting plain socks! When I was just beginning to attempt sock knitting, I remember being frustrated at my inability to find much for beginners. I needed photos (lots of them) along with clearly-written step-by-step instructions (which I almost prefer over photos alone).

So if you're just starting to knit socks or need a refresher, I highly recommend this Knitter's Review How-to: The Sock Knitter's Companion.

And though I've shared these links before, I'm sharing them again -- I still refer to them each time I knit plain socks:

Elizabeth Bennett's Perl Sock Program
Heels by Number
Kitchener Instructions - Knitty

For fun, here's an older blog entry of mine where I recap what I got out of Lolly's Socktoberfest 2006.

There are so many ways to knit and enjoy socks -- if you tried DPNs and didn't like them, try magic loop, or knitting with two circular needles, or one 12" circular needle (somewhat appealing to me).You might prefer toe-up to cuff down -- or the stunning logic of knitting two toe-up socks on two circs might be what you've waited for to attempt sock knitting. (Consider this a nudge for those of you who are interested in the idea of knitting socks. If you're not interested, I still love you anyway).

As for me, you'll find me with my wood or bamboo DPNs and knitting one sock at a time, cuff first. Always. It's risky (I might run out of yarn) and carries a low commitment (I might decide I don't want to knit the second sock). It's just my way of living on the edge, embracing the risk.

Thank you all so much for sharing your favorite blog links! I had some time to explore some new-to-me blogs last night and found or rediscovered some wonderful ones. I'm still adding links to the sidebar so feel free to continue to leave your suggestions.

Comments are closed on this entry. Please leave a comment on a recent blog entry if you have questions about sock knitting.

August 23, 2007

Finished and nearly so

I have a finished knit that I wasn't able to show here until my mom received it. Since she often gets chilly, I knit her a Sursa (Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton, Book 2) with NORO Silk Garden, Color 241. I knit it without a ruffle this time.


Erica was here this week and we caught up on some shopping. She can shop anytime and anywhere, and for me, it's something I have to mentally prepare for. We had a great time and also managed to fit in haircuts (both of us) and highlights.


Having another woman in the house changes the energy level and focus considerably. She's been interested in hair, makeup and clothes since she was able to walk and talk. So, once again, I have had somebody who wants to be with me in the bathroom when I put on my makeup and fix my hair. I've missed it. And while I tend to prefer to wear my favorite jeans and a t-shirt (the extent of my thought is which of three t-shirts I want to wear) everyday, it's not unusual for Erica to change her outfit at least three times before she makes a final decision. And that's not a bad thing . . . it's just different.

And because I've been in a state of near-panic over the realization that Christmas is a mere 4 months away (thanks, Nora), I've been making lists like crazy in attempt to feel less scattered. While I usually don't plan to knit many Christmas gifts, I have several December and January birthdays to think about. Capturing my plans on paper has helped.

Finally, not all of the knitting blogs I read are on my sidebar, but I'm working on adding them. Please do me a favor and leave me a comment and let me know your favorite knitting and creativity blogs. There might be prizes involved again.

August 18, 2007

Stash confessions *

I love the idea of someday being a stashless knitter, but for now, I'm not. My favorite thing to stash is sock yarn and I have lovely friends who are wonderful enablers:

Blue Moon, Socks that Rock - "Jade" from a swap with iSeL

I don't know if it's a good idea to wind yarn that you're not going to use immediately, but it's the only way I know to get an idea of how the variegated colors will behave. I was pleasantly surprised when I finished winding the "Jade" Socks that Rock. I love this green and it might become something other than socks. I'll play with it first and then decide. I can't wait to swatch and it might accidentally lead to actual knitting.

From Nora and The Knittery (Australia!), another swap that yielded two lovely skeins of cashmere / merino sock yarn in Deep Reds and Natural Cream (not shown):


Once again, I had to wind the red skein immediately. I received the yarn on the day I was going through old photo albums and memorabilia, so I photographed the yarn is sitting on top of the old black photo album (protected by a vintage handkerchief). Of course, I think the red should become socks. Cashmere belongs on one's feet, right? (It is unbelievably soft). And I might even have to copy the same socks that Nora knit with the beautiful reds.

In spite of shameful sock stashing, I try to have an idea what I'm going to knit (patternwise) for everything I stash. I give myself permission to change my mind often! But for the most part, nothing gets put away in the stash basket without an initial plan, an idea.

As I was composing this "stashful" blog entry yesterday, I cruised my usual knitblog reads and saw that my favorite stashless knitter, Staci of Very Pink, nominated me for a Rockin' Girl Blogger award.


I'm so honored! But I'm very embarrassed that I haven't yet mentioned the nomination I got from Liz of Athena Dreams! Thank you, Liz & Staci! In your honor, I'm going to listen to my favorite rockin' chick mix today.

And, to spread the love, I'm nominating Nora, iSeL, Stacey & Stacey. You ladies ROCK!

* This post brought to you by the name "Stacey / Staci"

August 17, 2007

Ripple Blanket

It started innocently enough -- an email exchange regarding NORO Kureyon vs. Patons SWS vs. Plymouth BOKU and ideas for which yarns might yield the best end result for a felted bag. Less than two weeks later, after a swap that worked out much too well in my own favor, I received this from my friend Stacey:

Stacey's Ripple

I love Ripple Blankets but I can't crochet anything beyond a chain. And there's no "sort of" mentioning something to Stacey without getting a gorgeous blanket delivered to you in exactly the colors you had in mind. I mentioned wanting an afghan for my oldest son and while there's currently an ownership dispute between the two boys about this ripple blanket, the intended recipient loves it!

Thank you, Stacey!

August 10, 2007

Two worlds and a new knit

It’s been a quiet time – my mind is quiet, my environment is quiet. I don’t know whether to attribute that to having spent a lot less time online, but I suspect that’s a large part of it. I’m not as distracted. I see more.

Last night while we were watching a movie with the kids, I started something I could knit in the semi-dark. I’ve re-purposed the yarn I was using for the Garter Stitch Prairie Shawl – a dark green Cascade 220 worsted – to knit the Turtleneck Tube Vest in Fitted Knits (Stefanie Japel). The heat and the yarn have me anticipating cooler weather and autumn.


And . . . I happened upon something yesterday that I feel explains who I am. Two grandfathers, two lives and two desperately different men. On this continent was a man who worked in a West Virginia coal mine. Across the ocean, there’s another man who wasn’t a laborer – he worked in the insurance industry. Both of these men are where I’m from. And until yesterday I had never seen a photo of my paternal grandfather and it was completely by accident that I found it in my Dad’s things:

John, 1945:


I can’t describe how these photos answer questions for me, but they do. Pieces suddenly fit and I understand everything.



August 08, 2007

More Random - 8

My friend Kat tagged me for the 8-Random meme making its rounds on knitting blogs and since she was kind enough to tag me and I had the time to think and write, I’m going to oblige.

1. I try to be a good listener and I make time if I need to for my family and friends. It amazes me how often people are enormously “too busy” (and self important?) for others.

2. I believe that one of the things that has made me emotionally strong is growing up with my 3 sisters. Thanks to them, I can handle criticism, brutal honesty and insults without internalizing it. I love nothing more than a good argument, but I can’t handle drama queens, divas or whiners.

3. I generally tend to avoid large groups of people (either virtually or in real life . . . see #2). In situations where such groups are inevitable, I will gravitate toward an older or less-contentious person.

4. When I find something I love, I always want to share it. I find it hard to keep a secret about something wonderful and I generally don’t like surprises. Don’t ever assume I would love a surprise party – I would hate it.

5. I use Bloglines but I don’t have more than 136 subscriptions at any one time. If I get close to 136, I start unsubscribing from feeds.

6. Material possessions don’t impress me. Good character, integrity, and a quick and quirky sense of humor are rare – and those are the only things that truly impress me.

7. I used to be a compulsive worrier – I would lie awake all night and worry about things (i.e. imaginary tragedies involving my friends or family). The only thing that broke the cycle was the book, “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living,” by Dale Carnegie.

8. I’d rather know more about you than try to get you to know things about me, which is why these memes are so difficult – I’d rather read them than write them.

Thank you, Kat! Now I’m supposed to tag eight others but it’s going to take some time to figure out who I want to tag, so I’ll update this blog entry when I do.

If you came for the Habu Kushu Kushu progress, I've included a photo for you:


I have so much more knitting to do on this scarf. For the next one, I will stick to the merino/steel combo. There's plenty of merino left to have done much more. Lesson learned.

August 06, 2007

Be thankful for your connection

Be thankful for your internet connection. I’ve always been grateful for my speedy wireless cable connection, but apparently I took it for granted. It will be as much as a week before I have my speedy cable internet back.

My husband has generously allowed me the use of his wireless card and his work laptop, but I would feel a little guilty using his computer to browse celebrity gossip blogs. Instead, I limit my time on his laptop to reading my favorite knitting blogs and uploading images to Flickr. I use a dial-up connection (averaging a mere 45.2 kbps) when I need to download my emails. And yet – I can’t complain about how much more productive I’ve been since my connection fried. My Habu scarf has grown and I’m now on the portion of the scarf where I’m knitting solely with the silk stainless steel “thread.” I’ve not yet reached that happy state of knitting where knitting it seems to flow. I find myself wishing I was still knitting the combined merino/steel.

When I’m not knitting the Habu scarf, I’m organizing, reorganizing, and decluttering my knitting supplies. (Ravelry just isn’t very handy when you don’t have an internet connection). I’m reading a lot – catching up on some great magazines and books. And I’m writing – not just the blog entry kind of writing, but real writing. I’ve also baked a lot of cookies and gone to the movies (Bourne Ultimatum).

Right now I’m at the library after a failed attempt at going to my favorite coffee shop to score some free wireless internet. Look what happened:


This isn't JUST the coffee shop with free wireless -- it's the coffee shop where the knitters meet once a week.

So I'm here:


It's cool, cozy and quiet. I was delighted to learn that they have free wireless and comfy chairs. I was going to finish working on my 8-Random meme (I was tagged by Kat), but when I sat down to re-read it, I didn't care for what I wrote. I obviously have some unresolved feelings about some things, so I'm going to deal with those rather than force my issues on my readers. I think I have to try to be a bit more random and a bit less . . . bitchy.

August 03, 2007

Boom, Flash, Sizzle

Due to a sudden thunderstorm last night, I am now plodding along on dial-up. My cable modem is fried! (I sincerely apologize to you dial-up users, because I now know how long it takes to load my image-heavy blog).

This is what I've been working on.


It's the Kushu Kushu Kit (Kit #78) from Habu Textiles. I'm using grass green merino and gray silk stainless steel. Did you know they also make a wool stainless steel?

If I'm not mistaken, Vanessa's blog entry about her Habu scarf probably managed to start the Kushu Kushu craze. Olga had already worked with Habu and blogged about it as well. Early on, I clicked back and forth between Vanessa's and Olga's blogs to try to figure out which colors I wanted to use for my own Kushu Kusha scarf. So when Takako and the Habu Trunk Show came to Twisted Yarns, I was already feverish about getting my own stainless steel and merino Habu. My knitting progress is slow at the moment, but it's the only thing I'm working on right now. I'm not the only one who's found this scarf compelling -- check out Nora's, iSeL's, and Kat's. As if that's not enough, there's a great Flickr group also.

August 02, 2007

Loops Knitting

Loops, Utica Square - Tulsa, Oklahoma

When we landed in Tulsa, there were two things I wanted -- a Ron's chili cheeseburger and a quick trip to Loops. I got both and wasn't disappointed in either. A couple of months ago, I ordered a pattern from Loops' online store and was curious about their store based on the photos on their site. As soon as I stepped through the door of the shop, I noticed how well-arranged it was. I also liked the fact that they carried the full line of yarns for Rowan, Debbie Bliss and Louisa Harding (probably more than that, but those were the most notable). When you visit Loops, be sure to check out the "Hot Loops" wall - it showcases their original patterns and the supplies needed to knit them.

Loops is a friendly store with helpful salespeople. They let me browse and answered my questions. Although I would have loved to have seen more handpainted sock yarns to choose from, they had plenty of goodies for sock knitters. I bought a skein of Trekking XXL to satisy my need for carry-along sock knitting since I'd brought no knitting with me. I've visited the Loops blog several times since we've been back and think every yarn store should have one. :-)

Tomorrow - a peek at my Habu stainless steel and silk scarf still in progress.

EDITED TO ADD: Thank you all for the warm and encouraging comments in yesterday's post regarding my parents. I have to stress that I'm not the one who has done most of the "heavy lifting" (literally and figuratively) with regard to caring for my parents. My mom lives with my sister Jayne in Washington. Less than a year ago, Jayne had open-heart surgery. While Jayne recovered, our youngest sister cared for my mom while also continuing to perform her duties as a television executive at E!. Jayne is back at work now, in her full time job as a loan officer. In addition to caring for my mother, she's now also the one running back and forth to the nursing home along with dealing with my parents' respective doctors.

August 01, 2007

The way things are . . .

The way things are is just the way things are. I'm becoming well-acquainted with the fact that there are completely opposing emotions and circumstances co-existing -- grief and loss - joy and blessings -- all at once. Part of what had my stomach in knots last month was my dad's transition from a place he'd lived and loved for the last 36 years to a new place. In his former (pre-dementia) mind, he was quite reluctant to fly -- and hadn't flown for almost 25 years. (Astute readers will remember that he used to be in the U.S. Air Force and the irony isn't lost on his four well-traveled daughters).

We were able to go see him a few days before my youngest sister flew in to arrange for his move and accompany him on his plane trip from Oklahoma City to Yakima, Washington. Our anxiety, fear and worry were for nothing.

Look closely and you might see his smile:


We weren't prepared for and didn't expect his delight . . . his characteristic smile gives it away. (As is the nature of dementia, he doesn't remember the flight now).

Mom & Dad 1951

All of us are adjusting to the way things are right now and while we're sad about this stage of their lives, we're grateful our parents are still with us. I have a bad habit these days of over-sharing about the details that go along with this transition and about their condition, but the fact is, we have so much to be thankful for. Last year I was clueless about elder-care issues, but I've since learned about Medicare, Medicaid, military benefits, nursing homes. And then there's the kindness of strangers -- people on the other side of the phone or behind a desk who are willing to help; friends who sense the desperation and the needs and drop everything to offer help or a hug; sisters who reconnect with each other and put their own lives aside in order to get things done. For that, I'm willing to go through this.

Of course, there is still knitting and much more, but I had to get all of this written down for myself. Tomorrow I'll share about the yarn stores I visited while we were in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

It is not length of life, but depth of life. -Ralph Waldo Emerson