Thursday, June 5


Here they finally are! One pair of Azure socks, knit, washed, blocked, and now tidily folded in my sock drawer. I am so proud of me I could bust! Not only did I knit them at the same time on 2 circs, a new trick for YT, I used the pattern only as a guide, and modified the hell out of them to fit my feet in their most ugly swollen state (see below), and not only do they sorta fit, they FIT! Like they were custom made just for my feet. Hey, they WERE custom made just for my feet! By ME!

Actually, the knitting has been finished for almost a month, but I've been 'otherwise occupied', and haven't had the time or inclination to wash, block, or blog until now. I was sorta lackluster about the yarn, KnitPicks Essentials 75/25 wool/nylon superwash fingering weight, but now that they've been washed, and I've actually had them on my feet, I'm a great deal more enthusiastic about it. They are just unbelievably soft and cuddly, and my feet are going to be soooo toasty warm when it gets a bit cooler. Yippee!!!

This is the top of the instep, showing off the pretty pattern. I think the stitch definition in this yarn comes out pretty good, especially considering that some of the knitting is more than a little bit sloppy!

This rather bizarre looking picture is the inside of the toe of the sock, turned to the outside, with some of the sock stuffed into it to spread it out so you can see it. Why am I posting this? Why, because it's part of another trick this old dog picked up while knitting these, the Magic Cast-On Toe. Below is the exterior of the toe, treated the same way. Looks pretty nifty, doesn't it?

And here is the back of the incredibly dumbass heel construction, which has the virtues of looking pretty, and being damn comfortable. It's a cast-iron bear to DO, however, and I seriously doubt I will ever do it again.

And finally, the sock on the ugly ass swollen foot! My feet are at about their maximum swelling at this point, and really really uncomfortable. It's even worse when they're also cold, and that is now going to be a thing of the past. Kindly note how smoothly the line of the purled stitches between the lacy bits on the side increases in size, yet remains a straight shot from the toe all the way up to the ribbing. I tell you, these socks FIT!

My undying thanks to the Tsarina of Tsocks, who taught me how to do it, by teaching me the structure underlying ALL sock construction. How'd I do, teach?

Tuesday, June 3

1993 - 2008
Long ago I looked across the street and saw that the incredibly stupid feral queen that produced a litter every two weeks, or so it seemed, had picked an utterly unique spot to deposit her current batch - at the base of a gabled window that protruded from the roof of the house. As the days passed, and the kittens started moving around, the spot become less and less tenable until one day, when the kittens were eleven days old, I saw that two of them had fallen from the roof to the ground below. I dashed across the street, and picked them up and brought them home. One of them didn't make it. Tomcat was the other.
Tomcat was named for the Navy fighter aircraft, because that's what she wanted to be when she grew up. Alas, she never achieved that goal, but it certainly wasn't for lack of trying! She was never a large cat in size, probably due to prenatal malnourishment, but she had the heart of a lion. She was a superb mouser, but the true joy of her life was going up against the tough alley rats that infested the neighborhood. When she was only four months old, still a baby, she took on and beat a rat that was almost twice her size!
Aside from her lethal ways with rodents, she was a sweet and gentle cat, loving to curl up and purr on my lap, though I'm not sure she ever forgave me for moving us away from that neighborhood to more civilized surroundings. I allowed her to have one litter of kittens of her own, and she was a superb mother to them, teaching them proper cat manners at an early age, and making sure that they had the basics of rodent management. None of her children had the great love for the sport that she did, though. Of the four, one has died, one still dominates the household of a friend of mine, and the other two live with me still.
She had weight management problems the last three years, losing a few ounces every month, especially in the heat of the summer, and never really gaining it all back. She gradually became slender, and finally skinny. Last Wednesday, she went out in the afternoon, as usual, but disappeared from the yard that night. She was gone all of Thursday, and not until Friday did she re-appear, incredibly filthy, and very weak. I have no idea what happened to her, and truthfully, I don't think I want to know. I cleaned her up, and made sure there was plenty of food and fresh cool water.
I knew though, on Saturday, that I would soon lose her, as she refused to eat her all-time favorite food, fresh chopped chicken. She had an odd seizure on Sunday night, and I stayed up with her all night, calming her down again, and just holding her and petting her and telling her she was a great cat, and very much loved. She purred, and curled up happily. Eventually, on Monday morning, she arose and made the rounds of her favorite nap sites, using each in turn. Alyce (vet) came by and confirmed that yes, I would soon lose her. IV's and force feeding were possible, but to little point, only prolonging the passage, and making her miserably uncomfortable.
She wanted to go outside in the afternoon, as usual, but I didn't let her, though I did open the door and she smelled the world through the screen. She died in the night, peacefully, in her sleep. We buried her this morning, behind the patio, in one of her favorite lurking spots.

Thursday, April 24

A Tale of Two Swatches

Here we have a poorly lit photo of two swatches, in identical yarn (Elann Peruvian Baby Lace Merino - 50% baby alpaca, 50% merino), in identical pattern (the test swatch for Susan Reishaus' Mystery Lace - 21 sts wide, 20 rows), but using two different sizes of needles. This is several days after blocking, so they've relaxed quite a bit. They were actually identical sizes (3 inches tall, 3.5 inches wide) on the blocking board. Alpaca doesn't block the same way pure merino does, that's for sure!

The one on the left is knit on size 3 needles, and blocked very VERY hard, as you can see by the zig-zag edges where the pins went in. Below is a larger pic of it, with the yarn almost true to color. It's actually a bit dustier IRL. To my personal taste, the pattern is just a hair too sqooshed in, too "solid" looking. Even under the very hard blocking, the design definition is somewhat lost, and the leaves on the sides are very blobby looking.

Here is the exact same swatch, but knit on size 4 needles. See how the leaves have opened out, and the entire design is just a bit "airier"? I like this better, and it's the way I'm going to go. I'm almost tempted to try it on size 5 needles, before I actually cast on, part one of the actual stole having been released, but I probably won't.

BTW, I told you, a few posts back, that you would be seeing more of this yarn. Yep, it's the "waste" yarn I used to hold the stitches on the sock. I have a tendency to use waaaay more yarn than I need to do the long-tail cast-on. It also becomes stitch and row markers, so not actually wasted.

There's another mystery shawl KAL coming up, the "Slo-Bee", to be Faroese shaping, which I really like, that requires almost 3,000 yards of yarn. OUCH on the yarn budget! There will be much lace knitting going on here for a while. I'm going to have to finish up a couple of those needlework projects that have been languishing at the bottom of the WIP basket, if only for a bit of mental relief from the intense concentration the lace requires.

Wednesday, April 23

Do Me A Favor, Willya?

The next time I say I'm going to follow a pattern exactly, will you just say to me, "Azure Sock"? That'll do 'er. Thank you.

I have just finished constructing not one, but TWO toe-up flap and gusset heels, and I tell you: Never. Ever. Again! At least, unless I fall utterly in love with a design that can't be executed in any other way, but the Tsarina of Tsocks wouldn't do that to me, surely! And I haven't, at least so far, fallen so utterly in love with a design, other than hers, that I would knit it if I didn't like the process. I digress.

After finishing the first one, the decision on whether to do the second on on the paired circs or the expedient needles (see previous post) was a no-brainer. With stitches at strange angles to each other, multiple short-row wrap pick-ups in the same row, etc. the last thing I needed was extraneous needles and yarn flapping about as well.

When we left the sock last post, I had completed knitting in the integral gussets (completely opposite, I discover, from the top-down method, when the gussets are knitted last). In retrospect, I think I would have completed at least the straight section of the heel flap before I put the gusset stitches on the expedient needles, but it seemed simpler the other way at the time. Boy, can I be wrong!

* I started to describe this entire process, stitch by stitch, and decided I didn't want to bore you. You're welcome. Suffice it to say that the person who originally designed this type of heel was a serious masochist who must have hated knitters. *

After all that, I have to confess that I slipped the sock on, and found it to be extremely comfortable, and I'll confess that, for all the excess structure, I rather like the look of the finished product. Here are pictures of the current progress:

Just the leg and cuff to go!

Closer look at the heel.

Tuesday, April 15

It's Winter Again!

The weather is unbelievably screwed up this year - I know, it's been weird for several years, but this year absolutely takes the cake!

Normally, this part of Florida gets a total of about six weeks of 'winter', but it's usually broken up into shorter segments, with nice fall weather interspersed. (Note: 'winter' here means the daily highs are in the upper 40's to low 50's, overnights down sometimes into the 20's, and VERY rarely into the teens.) 'Spring' is usually 18 hours or so sandwiched inbetween late winter and early summer. Blink and you'll miss it.

THIS year, we have had a real, honest to gosh Spring! Partly cloudy, windy as all get out, the occasional refreshing shower, the sort of days when it's warm in the sunlight, but a touch of chill in the shade, and lasting for over a MONTH! Sheer bliss!

However, for some ghastly reason, we are, instead of heading into summer, going back to winter! Record (and I mean official, all-time RECORD!) lows, and low highs, as well!

Rant now over - knitting proceeds, but right now, I need to go clean up the kitchen.


Here we have the front of the foot of the blue 'Azure' sock. There are actually two of them on the circs, but for the purposes of this blog entry, I'm only showing one. They are knit to the point where the gussets are finished, and it's time to start on the heel flap.

Here's a side view of the sock, showing the nice gusset, all done.

And now we run into a wee little problem, one that's obvious in retrospect, but I'm not really known for my ability to foresee these little snags...

The problem is that it is now time to turn the sock, and knit back across the stitches that will become the heel flap! Now, I could just do that, and ignore the second sock over to the left there on the same circ, and flap all this stuff around over and over again while I knit this flap, then go over and do the second sock, with yet more of the flapping of stuff around, but I'm just not crazy about doing that. For one thing, all the yarn would get horribly tangled up. So, it's time to go to Plan B.

Oh, well - plan B required a pair of 2.5 mm straight needles. I don't seem to be able to lay my hands on fact, I know darn well I don't have a pair of 2.5mm straights.

So we end up with Plan C. Slip the first forty stitches, here on the right needle, onto a 2.5mm DPN. Slip the remaining stitches from the back of the sock onto another 2.5mm DPN.

Whoops! The stitches from the first DPN are already dropping like flies! To the "accessories drawer"! Add two point protectors on the non-working ends of the DPNs, and voila!

The reason for putting ALL these back/sole stitches on the needles is that after a few short rows, it's time to start knitting them into the gussets, so might as well have them handy, yes?

The remaining stitches, the front of the sock, need to come off the circs as well, of course, or I'm still flapping in the breeze. So I put them on a 'holder', see?

And since I took these pictures earlier this evening, I've gotten 14 rows of the heel flap done. It remains to be seen whether I do the second sock on the circs, or transfer it to the expedient method as well. We shall see.

Don't you think the yarn making up the stitch holder is pretty? You'll be seeing more of it.

Sunday, March 30

Progress proceeds on the blue Azure socks...

Chugging away on the Azure socks, here. This picture was taken night before last. Note how artfully the natural curve of the cord of the circ covers the upper left of the sock on the left. I didn't plan it that way, but it does make the next pic a little more dramatic, I guess.

Here's that covered corner. Do we all see the big, fat, HOLE in the middle of the pattern where it has no right to be? Do we also notice that the nicely established pattern curve just disappears at the same spot? Proof positive that one should NOT sleep whilst knitting! Obviously, Something Must Be Done about this. Sorry the pic is so blurred, but you can still see the problem quite clearly, I think.

Isn't it handy to have all those extra needle tips just hanging there when you're knitting your socks on two circs? One tip is carrying the correct stitches on the left side of the error, the correct stitches on the right side of the error are on the cord where they belong. The bottom needle is holding the stitches down to which (love the grammar!) I frogged. It's the one free (of 5 - the other four are on the Never-Ending Practice Sock) #1 DP, handy for moving the stitches when knitting in the round to fix the goof.

And here's the finished repair! Still not perfect, by any means, but it IS a whole lot less noticeable, and I wrestled with this mess for four hours last night. I am especially proud that I actually REMEMBERED to take these pics in progress! So, Tsarina, it DID happen!

I think I'll go knit some more now, while pretending to watch golf. Bai...

Wednesday, March 26

My Day...

I did laundry.

For a change of pace, I had my annual mammogram this afternoon.

'Nuff said...