aswim in knits

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

crafts not accomplished!!

Hmmm ... it would seem that my post of last Friday was just a tad bit optimistic.

Let's review:

  • Fountain Lace Cardi? Not touched.
  • Jaywalker socks? Second sock gusset completed, plus an additional 6 rounds (woo hoo!)
  • Baby blanket? Ahem. I obsessed over different possibilities. Rainbow squares? Cheerful and childlike, or too closely associated with Gay Pride? A sampler of different stitch patterns? One color, or two or three? I found the yarn I wanted to try (GGH Samoa) in a lovely shade of orange, per my friend's color specifications. Then I found out that the color (#80) was discontinued. Of course, I swatched anyways. Several times. Including one giant 11"x11" swatch, so that I could calculate how much yarn I would need. Let's just say that at $7 for 50 grams, with a multicolored pattern in mind, this yarn is out of my budget for this project. Back to the drawing board, probably with Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece :)
  • Quilt book? Denyse Schmidt book purchased. And drooled over. I definitely see a Hop Skip and a Jump quilt in my future... perhaps in white or off-white combined with sherbet-y colors of pink, orange, green, yellow, and purple? This one will be a bed quilt for my niece Gracie.
  • Sew a skirt? Not even close.
  • Sculpey? I found my box of clay. Figured out the project, but it was too dark to see the colors clearly. Will have to wait until daylight.
  • Beaded necklace repair? Nope.
  • Doggy blanket? Looked at the box it's stored in. That's the closest I got ...
What else did I do this weekend? Well, I got a pedicure on Saturday morning, and went to a family birthday party that afternoon, 2 hours from home (I knit in the car).

On Sunday, Thom and I went to Rockport for the day. It was beautiful!!

While I was there, I bought a very fun pair of pants with turtles on them...
They're from Lilly Pulitzer!! When did I get so old/preppy/WASP-y??? Well, I think they are cute :) I just need to find a shirt to match.

We took the scenic route home, and stopped at the Red Rock Bistro for dinner, followed by ice cream overlooking the beach, with lots of small kids and puppy dogs to amuse us ...

Then on Monday, we CLEANED. And CLEANED. And CLEANED some more. I'm talking window washing, cupbord cleaning, dust-under-the-baseboard-heaters, 8 loads of laundry, reorganize the linen cabinet kind of cleaning. The kind that I hate with a passion. And we did this for 6 1/2 hours!!

But, all my little crafty bits and bobs have now been restored to their proper places, and I can move forward and craft guilt-free this week!

Friday, May 26, 2006

feeling crafty

I'm not sure why the sudden flash of inspiration, but I've had many crafty ideas buzzing through my head this week. I wish I had more time to execute all of them!

Here's what I want to do this weekend:

  • Work on the Fountain Lace Cardi fronts. I want to be able to wear this sweater soon!
  • Keep working on my Jaywalker socks. I turned both heels, and am almost done with one gusset. While I won't wear these soon, I would like to finish them so I can start another pair of socks. Yeah, I've got it bad for socks!
  • Design a baby blanket, at the request of a friend. Her baby is being baptized on June 4, so I'd like it to be a gift for that. I won't have time to make a blanket before then, so I'd like to at least pick out the yarn I want to use, and design a pattern. I'll draw up the pattern, knit a swatch, and come up with a cute way of packaging the gift as a "blankie promise".
  • Quilt! I am NOT a quilter, but I have been really inspired by some of the great quilts I have seen online recently. I particularly liked the baby quilt by Kathy from Pink Chalk Studio. It's a pattern from a Denyse Schmidt book, and it looks like it might be appropriate for a beginner quilter. I have the book on hold at a local bookstore, and I'm going to pick it up tonight!! All week long, I have been thinking about creating this pattern in black and brights. Lo and behold, I saw a very similar version over at Swim. I may even hit the fabric store tonight too :)
  • Sew a skirt. Not sure what exactly, but a simple summer pattern. Hopefully one without a zipper!
  • Play with Sculpey polymer clay. Somewhere on my craft shelves, I have a collection of this stuff. I haven't used it recently, so I hope it is still in good condition, not too dried out. I have a leftover mint tin from Au Bon Pain (smaller than an Altoid box), and I want to cover the lid with some sort of clay design. I'm thinking of a checkerboard pattern, using marbled squares interspersed with plain colored squares. Not sure what I will use it for. Perhaps for stitch marker storage.
  • Beads! I made a necklace for a friend several years ago. A couple of months ago, she asked if I could shorten it. It should take me all of about 10 minutes, but I just haven't gotten around to doing it yet.
  • Make some notebooks, using the text block kits sold at Paper Source. Our team has 2 graduating seniors, and I want to make one as a gift for each of them. As soon as I get out of work today (early! at 3:00 pm! thanks boss!!) I'm going to head down there and see what I find. I may also buy the tools I need -- bone folder, PVA glue, brush -- instead of always borrowing them from my mom. See, my mom is the one who has a huge collection of paper and paper-related crafts. I don't do too much in this area, but I do like making handmade books or albums. I don't do the scrap-book-y thing, just simple covers and pages. Since I've only made 4 other books in the past couple of years, I haven't bought the tools. But, I think I might invest in a few basics.
  • [Edited to add]: I also have a quilt top pieced for a doggy blanket. (I say that like I am an expert quilter. It's really just 9 squares of fabric sewn together with a mitered border.). If I finish this, I will (a) donate it to Rebekah's animal drive and (b) feel less guilty about starting more projects!
I think that this is WAAAY more than I can accomplish this weekend. I'll have to prioritize. Or not. Maybe I'll just do whatever inspires me at the moment!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Not socks!

After several sock related posts, I have a WIP that is not a sock!!

This is the back of my Fountain Lace Cardigan from Classic Elite.
And a close up of the lace panel.

I'm using some blue Cotton Ease from the stash. I've also finished the sleeves, but I didn't take a photo. Because of my yarn substitution, I had a different row gauge than the pattern. So, I reworked the sleeve increases, and I think that they came out well, although the proof will be in the seamed garment.

I'm planning to rework the front too. I want a v-neck, not too low, with seed stitch edges. I have to decide how to do this -- if I want to knit the buttonbands separately or attached, and also how high to make the v-neck and how to work the decreases there.

So, I'm putting this on hold until I have time to swatch and do the maths. I'll probably come back to it next weekend.

Hopefully, I will work on some socks until then! My recent absence from the blogosphere has been due to some coaching demands. We had a big regional meet this weekend in Albany, NY -- teams from all of New England, as well as the eastern half of NY, not including Long Island. The meet went pretty well, and we will take 36 girls to the Age Group National Championships in Seattle next month. This is a HUGE number of girls, and a team record! I think the next largest showing from our region is a team with 23 girls. So, we are going to be BUSY next month too!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Interweave Knits, Winter 2005 -- want a copy?

Does anyone want a copy of the Winter 2005 Interweave Knits? I bought myself a copy, and got a gift subscription at the same time, so I ended up with two copies. The one I am giving away is a little worn, with some mailing damage at the top corner, but perfectly useable (i.e. no damage to the inside pages).

If you'd like this, just leave a comment with an email address where I can reach you. If more than one person wants it, I'll pull names from a hat. Or something.

Monday, May 15, 2006

the post in which I do not discuss socks ... very much

Yuck! It has been raining for days on end ... over 12"/30 cm in my town. My boss, who is from London, sent an email today that read "I am off to London for a few days' vacation and to get away from the relentless rain we have been having. You can imagine how much we have had if I need to go to London to get less rain!"

Because of the nasty weather, I did not go to the NH Sheep and Wool Festival. Boo! However, I am not any good at being cold. I'm also not good at being wet. Being cold and wet, I would just be miserable. Besides, I don't need any more yarn!!!!! I did want to go and meet up with some bloggers, but I'm sure I will have other chances to do that later.

I made this decision on Friday night. I had a miserable day on Friday.

First, it was rainy. Did I mention that?

Then I had a series of difficult emails with parents of some of the swimmers I coach. No, your child does not walk on water. No, your child is NOT exempt from the rules that we expect of all of our swimmers... etc....

And then Thom hit another bump in the road on his way to transitioning from full-time grad student to full-time gainfully employed person. It will all work out in the end, I am sure. It's just the process that is painful... so I'm not going to share too many details until it all works out ... although that could take some time.

So, when I got home and saw some mail for me, I was soooo excited! It was a package all the way from Australia. Inside was this ...

(Pardon the wet hair ... I just got out of the shower.)

Can you believe that Peeve decided to give away this beautiful shawl? The details about pattern and yarn are in her May 1 post. All I had to do to win it was to leave a comment. Peeve, thank you so much! I love it!! Finding this shawl in the mail totally changed my mood. In fact, I wrapped my self up in it for most of the weekend, except when on the pool deck.

The shawl is going to stay at work for when the a/c gets too strong, which is often. (The photos aren't the best, due to the absence of sunlight in these parts. The color, a rich royal purple, and pattern are better represented on Peeve's blog...)

Peeve also sent two packages of Tim Tams -- black cherry and latte varieties. They were much enjoyed by the husband and me. Only one is left. Not one package ... one single cookie!

And, finally, I have been knitting! I'm onto the second Jaywalker leg ... If I'm not knitting two-at-once, I'll do one leg, then the other, then both heels, then both feet and toes. This one is a one-at-a-time pair of socks, to make the project more portable. As I was cleaning house this weekend, I found a small cloth bag that I had forgotten about. It's just the right size for a sock in progress!

More other stuff later, when the sun comes out long enough for photos.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

bitten by the sock bug

This blog is quickly becoming "all socks, all the time" ...

After I got my Sockapaloooza socks on Friday, I finished a sock on Saturday and cast on for a second sock.

What??? I never said that the second sock matched the first one.

The completed sock is a garter rib sock made of Schaeffer Anne yarn. It looks small. It isn't quite that small in real life, but it is snug. In a good way.

The second sock is the start of another pair of Jaywalkers (do I really have to link???) and the yarn is the Sock it To Me Colori from Elann that I won in a contest at Chaotic Chris' blog. These socks are for me.

The past week has been busy with a lot of swimming and personal stuff. I think it will only get crazier in the weeks ahead. Nothing bad, just a lot of things to do and some important decisions to make. So, I'm swiping the "Socks for Sanity" button that has been floating around. I'm going to need it.

Friday, May 05, 2006

My, those socks do rock!!

March 31, 2006 ...

Wooly Headed Ruth posts the following query and photo:

Tell Me Honestly -- Would you wear these socks? I mean, I like the bright, stripey, Easter-egg look we have going here, but maybe that's just me.

Aswim in Knits Danielle (that's me!) leaves the following comment:

Yes, yes, yes! And if your sock pal doesn't like them, I can take them for her!!!

Danielle's good taste in loudly colored sock yarns is confirmed by others ...

I would SO wear those socks!!! (Margene !)

Most definitely - they are beautiful! (Lolly !)

I'd wear 'em. Absolutely! (Carole !)

I would! I like them! (Scout !)

Note the collective sock wisdom of the commenters. I'm in good company :)

Several weeks pass. Some sock progress photos are posted. Other WIPs are shown. Some Buzz Lightyear costuming is acquired by the Young'un. Daily life continues. (It involved guinea pigs and trips to the Museum of Science on a rainy vacation day...)

Finally, when I checked the mail today, I found out that this sock-in-progress grew up to become MY SOCKAPALOOOZA SOCKS!!

What do I think of them ... ?

I think they're faboo!

(Look, Ruth, they fit!! You can stop holding your breath now!!)

Check out the heel ... it's perfect!

I like my socks snug. I HATE when they slide down and bag at my ankles. I wear boots for most of the winter. I insist that my socks peek out of the top, since I hate the way it feels to have the boot touching my leg. And I hate it when there are wrinkles in the sole of my socks. As a kid, I used to fold over the toes of the socks, onto the top of my foot, just to tighten up the fabric on the sole.

(Yeah, I'm weirdly compulsive. I think we covered that in the last post, in which I color my socks with Sharpies.) So, when I say that these fit just right, I mean it. They're long enough to poke out of the boots, and snug enough not to wrinkle. Perfect :)

Um, did I mention that Ruth sent a few other things too? (All wrapped up in tissue paper that matches my sweater, I might add...) The package looked much nicer, until I tore into it like a rabid dog ... unfortunately, this photo is post-rabid-dog, as I was far too excited to stop and find my camera before tearing into the box.

There was a sweet little froggie card, and a postcard of her hometown. A bar of Toblerone chocolate (droooool....) and a bottle of Gloves in a Bottle, which I can't wait to try, as the little pot of hand cream that I carry in my knitting bag is almost empty.

She also sent some adorable little knitting notecards ...

And 7 little fishbowl buttons (waaay too much fun ... they even have little air bubbles etched in above the fish's mouth!!)

And the socks came in a sleeve that Ruth made. Complete with wooly sheep and Papyrus font. That's one of my favorite fonts (yes, I have favorite fonts ... shut up!). I used it on my wedding invitations.

The yarn is "Socks that Rock" in "Queen Rock" colorway, and the pattern is the Madder Rib sock from Knitting Vintage Socks.

I LOVE everything :) This was such a great Sockapaloooza swap! The best part about it is that I met Ruth a few months ago, some time between the announcement of Sock Pals and the time she started knitting the socks, at the Team Boston Knitting Olympics in late February. If I remember correctly, we were even wearing very similar handknit socks at the time. We chatted for a while, and had a nice time. Now I know her ulterior motive -- she was digging for info on what kind of socks I would like!! Well, it worked out quite well...

Thank you soooo much, Ruth. Everything is great! I hope to get to thank you in person at another Boston area knitting event some time!

new socks

I finished a pair of socks! Just in time for today's 82 degree weather! I think I finished them on Wednesday night. That might make these the quickest socks I've ever knit -- 2 weeks, 1 day.

Some toes ...

Some more toes ...
(For some reason, this shot of my toes reminds me of The Dog line of products...)
And the flat-out shot...
Why yes, my stripes do match, thankyouverymuch. (Ahem. Until I got to kitchener close one of the toes, and had to dip into the white/grey stripe to finish the grafting. Which really really bothered me. Luckily I had a sharpie marker in a dark pinkish color, and I colored in that stripe. Yes, I really did that. Check the first picture of toes above. See that lighter pink dot on the right hand sock? That's where I colored in some white yarn...)

Project specs

Yarn: Jawoll Jacquard, color 82158

Needle: addi Turbo, Size 1, 40", magic loop

Gauge: 8.5 spi

Pattern: NONE!!! Not even some notes. I made these entirely pattern-free, which was one of the reasons I started them (that, and to have something simple to knit while at a Harlot reading...). I wanted to know that I could just grab some sock yarn and needles and make a sock that would fit me. It must have been fate, because a couple of days after starting these, I read the chapter of the Harlot's new book about socks, in which she describes the rules of thumb for knitting socks without patterns.

Granted, I've made enough socks that this is not a huge accomplishment. However, it does make me feel like a "real" knitter. It also helped me to break loose from the idea that I have to either slavishly follow a pattern, slavishly modify a pattern, or slavishly design my own pattern. As you might have guessed, I'm not really a "go with the flow" personality, knitting or otherwise, and it's good to know that I can sometimes just knit on the fly.

Of course, there are still lots of sock patterns that intrigue me, and sock techniques I've not yet tried, so you'll still be seeing plenty of interesting socks here, as soothing as stockinette socks can be.

In other sock-y news, my Sockapaloooza sock pal's socks are on the way to her, having cleared customs (according to the online tracking). I don't have mine yet, but the Mafia got hers this week ... go check them out! Maybe mine came in today's mail...

PS -- Thanks for all the nice comments you left on my post yesterday. My eyes are feeling much better today, and I'm very lucky I can still do some knitting even during the worst symptoms. Of course, I'm even luckier that I just have an annoying condition, not a life threatening one. Speaking of which, go check out Claudia's efforts to raise money for MS. Go knitters!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

pictures soon, I promise ...

This week has been a tough week, and it's only Thursday. I was out of the office for a day and a half, and missed some coaching time, because of a particularly vexing vision problem that comes and goes. I've had symptoms of this condition since I was about 12 or 13, but only received a diagnosis earlier this year. The condition is called superior oblique myokymia (SOM), and it's a fairly rare vision disturbance. Only about 6000 people have been diagnosed with SOM.*

The link above gives the medical explanation. The layman's description is that I get double vision, with a pronounced shimmering or bouncing up-and-down of everything in my field of view. According to the neuro-opthamologist who finally figured out the problem, the likely origin is vascular compression of the trochlear nerve -- a blood vessel presses on a nerve which fires abnormally and makes my vision go nuts.

So, when this all happens, I get "bouncy vision" which leads to headaches. If the headaches and constant motion in my field of view persist long enough, I get nauseated. This week, my symptoms were bad enough and constant enough to keep me from driving -- if everything is bouncing up and down, it makes it hard to see other cars clearly!!

The good news is that this is a benign condition. It does not have any serious health consequences, beyond the annoyances that I described above. And, while some people experience symptoms on a nearly-constant basis, mine come and go. I had not had serious symptoms for a couple of months, until this weekend.

The bad news is that it is also not easily treatable. Some patients have shown limited benefits from certain anti-seizure medications. However, the medicines are extremely potent and the side effects are significant, and possibly worse than the annoyance of SOM. The other option is surgery -- a teflon pad is inserted between the artery and the nerve, which reduces the vascular compression. However, only a few doctors perform this surgery, and I don't think my condition is severe enough to warrant what is essentially invasive brain surgery. Right now, my best "treatment" is to get a lot of rest, as fatigue can make the symptoms worse.

The only up-side to all of this is that I can still knit!!! In fact, one of the only ways that I get any relief from symptoms is a pronounced "down-gaze" -- looking down instead of straight ahead, like looking down your nose at your lap. Or, say, looking down at a pair of socks-in-progress! So, since looking straight ahead makes everything bounce, there was no blogging (or any computer time, or driving, etc.) for a couple of days. But, looking down is good, so there was some knitting.

I'm feeling better now -- for no particular reason, other than perhaps resting. I promise, photos of a SOM-induced FO tomorrow, as well as a significant progress on another WIP!!!

* I'm sure that many more people are likely to have this condition. It took me several doctors and over a decade to get a diagnosis. In the past year, I saw 2 excellent neuro-opthamologists at two outstanding hospitals -- the Mass Eye and Ear Infirmary, a Harvard affiliate, and the Tufts-New England Medical Center -- and sat through hours of complex and expensive testing. Since Boston is a major medical center, and since my employer offers excellent health insurance options, I was lucky to have access to high quality care. I'm sure that a majority of Americans don't have this level of health care, much less those in the developing world ... so, I'm sure that others with this condition just aren't diagnosed.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Socks in a box

I mailed off my Sockapaloooza socks today! They are going to Canada, and they cost a ridiculous amount to mail -- $17.90. However, that's because I chose to send them in some sort of trackable way ... I don't want these puppies going missing!

Before mailing, I managed to snap a few pics. Here is how I packaged them up ...
The origami box is made from wrapping paper, using a pattern from Origami Boxes, borrowed from my mom, and originally purchased at Origamido.

Here's the inside of the lid ...

And the inside of the bottom ... I think that this kind of origami is called "unit origami" -- several identical shapes are folded and combined to create a larger structure. In this case, the lid is made of 4 identical shapes (2 green and 2 blue), and the bottom is made from 4 other identical shapes.

Each shape started as a 13"x13" piece of wrapping paper. I had the blue in my wrapping paper stash. Yep, crafty people stash lots of things!! I bought some green to go with it. Umm, yeah, because blue and green match the socks :)

This was totally unnecessary, but lots of fun! I can't wait to hear that my pal got her socks!!!