This is going to be awful. Wish me luck. Pattern released two minutes ago.
I'm 5/6 through Tour de Sock, which according to the calculator is 83%. This year's patterns are all great, but I've found it much harder and much slower than last year.
Partly I've been busier at work, and partly I've had a lot of thumb pain and arm pain.
I stayed up until 3:30 this morning finishing pair #5. It's a pattern by Sarah Bess, the brain behind Tour de Sock. It's cables and lace and uses a new-to-me bias gusset and arch shaping. I really like it and will use it again.
The yarn is one of my skeins of Miss Babs Tarte in the Wheaten colourway. I prefer lighter colours for more intricate cabley patterns.
At one point on sock #1 I switched to magic loop, but I was getting ladders, so I switched back. The DPNs still work best for me.
Then I stayed up until 6:00 am finishing Harry Potter Book 6 (Half-Blood Prince). The lad and I are both re-reading the Harry Potter books. We started at the same time and are roughly in the same place. At one point I was about 250 pages ahead of him, but he's caught up because he's not working and I am. And he's not knitting Tour de Socks and I am.
When we're done, we'll be watching all the movies. Princess comes home from Alberta on Wednesday for two weeks, so we'll make it a family moviefest. We've also convinced her to start reading the Harry Potter books. She's on book 1, but will catch up quickly.
The kids made a deal: if Princess reads Harry Potter, the Lad will read the Warded Man series. And I'll read both because I love them both.
I'm reading books on the kindle and listening to audiobooks. For anyone who's not interested, feel free to skip to the next section. For those who are dying to know what I've been reading / listening to since the beginning of June, here they are:
Back to the visual stuff. Today I was going to take Sebastian for a walk by himself, but then Des shot out the door and went to the car. Previously only Delilah has been a good car dog. The boys tend to throw up in my car. But both Des and Sebastian are getting better. And since Des was basically begging to go for the walk, I asked Q to get his leash and let him come along.
We initially went to York Redoubt. I thought it was larger than it is. There's not actuallly all that much stuff there other than a bunch of old canon gun thigs and old military buildings. It dates back to 1793 and to the time when Halifax was one of the most important naval ports or whatever.
The gun things are kind of cool.
The artillery store and canteen was built in the 1870s. You can see the old ironstone used in its construction.
Some of the walls have those little holes for firing guns.
There's a whole whack of cannon gun things in the main area by the parking lot
After that we had pretty much completed the circuit and decided to go to the Dingle instead. Fortunately we had a tupperware container of ice so the dogs could have some water. It was about 28 degrees. We went along the seawall and up the loop trail and over to Deadmans Island where a bunch of American Prisoners of War died during the war of 1812.
When we got back to the car I had a call from the Lad. His car died on the road and he was waiting for a tow truck which took an hour to get there. We had to drop his car off and then get groceries for dinner.
Deadmans Island (Deadman's Island?) is on the other side of the Armdale Yacht Club. In the middle of this next photo you can see a low stone building. It's the original prison where the prisoners were held. Apparently they used to feed them lobster. That was back when lobster was considered a scavenger and not a delicacy.
I miss living in the area, but I don't miss the house. The water is a balm for the soul.
If you follow me on Instagram, here's a further-away shot of the inlet harbour thing by Regatta Point where the boat with the herb garden is moored.
There's definitely a lot to love about living in Nova Scotia.
I'm pretty sure I haven't shown any stash enhancement in a while. I have a backlog which I didn't blog about.
I received the July Tanis Fiber Arts Year in Colour club offering. It's a skein of her laceweight (about 1200 yards, I think) in Emerald green. The pattern is for a tank top, which is kind of neat. I also received The Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet III by Hunter Hammersen and a Fat Squirrel wedge bag.
I received some String Theory back in late May / early June. Caitlin will be going on hiatus from September to January, but I think I'm well stocked.
Two skeins of Cinnabar (one for me, one for Princess, which really means both for Princess since she wears out her socks and then raids my sock drawer).
A skein of Luciferin, a true skein of Enterprise, a skein of Jupiter and a skein of Wormhole something-or-other.
The problem with not blogging for so long is that my Ravelry is woefully not up to date yarn-wise and sometiemes even project-wise. I will have to remedy that.
Tour de Sock pattern number 6 comes out tomorrow afternoon. Everyone seems to think it's double knitting. This is worrisome. I have no clue how to do it. I looked at my Extreme Double Knitting book and felt faint. People on Rav are talking about using smaller than usual needles to get gauge.
I have some 1.50 mm Karbonz DPNs (8") and some 1.75 mm Addi DPNs (also 8"). But I can't seriously imagine actually knitting with either set. I'll need one of those things they use when they do a colposcopy in order to see the stitches. This does not bode well at all for sock #6. Fortunately my work week is pretty clear next week, so I could probably take another couple of vacation days....
Tour de Sock wraps up July 31. And then in Augusgt there's the Sock Knitters Anonymous pair-a-palooza where you try to finish as many pairs of socks in a month as you can. I won last year (based on a random drawing, not the actual number of pairs -- I finished 8 and someone else finished 10 or 11), so I'm hosting this year. There will be prizes of knitting bags and yarn. I may even give away one of my cherished Cephalopod Yarn skeins.
Okay, I have to walk the beasts. I'm not even going to proofread this. I'm just going to cross my fingers and hit the button.
I've been doing more walking of late. It's partly attributable to the fact that the summer fitness class offerings are pretty minimal, and partly due to the fact that we have a walking / stretching challenge going on at work. Work provided crappy little pedometers, but I'm using my fitbit One. It tracks everything for me and resets at midnight (unlike the crappy pedometer).
I try to take one of the dogs with me, and sometimes I will take two of them. But more than one is a handful, particularly during prime time.
The other day I took Sebastian and Lilah from the Frog Pond down to Regatta Point. It was back in our old stomping grounds on P Cove Road (otherwise known as Purcells Cove Road).
I see I still have a huge backlog of photos to blog about. Maybe I should start with the knitting and then move to the non-knitting.
I'm on Tour de Sock #5. I managed to get pair #4 done on time.
Pair #4 had both beads and cables. We had to use the single bead at a time method rather than pre-stringing the beads. Some people use dental floss. I find that too fiddly. I like the crochet hook method. I think I was using size 8/0 beads.
I started with my skein of Sweet Georgia Yarns Cashluxe Fine in the Blood Orange colourway which I had wound up for the previous round but ended up frogging. The yarn is deliciously soft and is fairly thin for a 70/20/10 blend. It's a three-ply. I was finding that the crochet hook kept splitting the plies when I was trying to add the beads and it was sometimes taking several efforts to get the bead over the yarn properly.
So I started the second sock (at the same time) using Canon Hand Dyes Charles Sock in some sort of Downton Abbey colourway -- Miss Ephiginia Eusnorkle or something like that. I'm not normally a huge fan of the Charles base because it's that kind of pebbly 2-play yarn, but it actually works better for beading. There were far fewer split plies with the Charles base. I think in future I will do all my beaded socks on that type of yarn.
Anyway, I did one of each. I kept the beading going down the front of the Charles sock because it was so easy to do.
That's pretty much all the yarny goodness in this blog post. The rest is nature walk stuff, interesting painted utility boxes [unless I decide to do a blog post devoted entirely to them] and dogs.
They're also building two new houses down at the end of the block in our subdivision. I thought I'd chronicle the progress every day or so.
But that may also have to be saved for a separate blog post.
Okay, I'm going back to my June 30 photo file. In random order, here they are:
1. I stopped on the corner of North Street and Robie Street and saw this weird blow up thing above Fred (which I believe is a restaurant / art gallery).
2. Odd rock formations up in the wooded area between Ravenscraig and P Cove road.
3. Glimpses of hidden ponds.
4. More interesting Halifax public art. The information is difficult to make out, but it looks liked it's called "Humagination" by Mad Dog and was a commissioned piece. The rest is too hard to make out.
5. Somewhat less charming public art, but by a more prolific artist, apparently.
6. I should learn to turn the camera to landscape rather than portrait. This is an amusing mural.
7. Quite a spectacular geranium.
8. I love the view of these old houses down Morris Street. Not quite as colourful as St. John's, but not bad.
Well, Hail's pond can wait for a separate post.
It's bedtime. Or Harry Potter time. Q and I are having a race to the finish line. So far I'm winning, but only barely.
I had my eyes checked a couple of weeks ago. I am now in the land of progressive lenses, formerly known as bifocals. All the progressive contacts are blurry, so I can't see close up or far away.
Happy Canada day to my fellow Canadians. If you're looking for anything more profound or meaningful than that brief message, you may want to see whether the Yarn Harlot has done her usual spectacular job on a Canada Day post.
Yes, I'm very glad I live here. Nova Scotia is particularly pretty. But I do wish we had Saturday mail delivery.
The only knitting I've accomplished is to finish (just barely) the third pair of Tour de Socks. I showed the start of the pattern in the last blog post. The pattern is Roll the Bones by Kirsten Hall (spindleknitter on ravelry). It's a true stranded colourwork pattern, and other than a poorly executed pair of Fiddleheads mittens, I've never done a full colourwork project.
As it turns out, there's a reason for that.
The end result doesn't fit. The feet are too big, but the legs are too small. Clearly I'm built like a dinosaur -- great big legs (but not great big feet) and itty bitty stumpy arms.
I have tried colourwork in the past with the same result. It looks great while it's being knit, but there's that teeny problem of it being too tight to get over the heel.
If I could unscrew my feet, then I could maybe wear them. Or if I were like the stepsisters in the original Grimm version of Cinderella, I could cut off my heels and they would fit. But neither of those prospects is particularly appealing (or realistic).
I decided to do the first sock in the size XL (80 stitches), but thought I'd use 2.25 mm needles. That may have been my mistake.
The patterning on these socks is really quite cool and no two socks are the same.
For the first one I used black (BMFA STR MW in Valkyrie) as the main colour with Hot Sox as the accent colour.
I was pretty excited as I was going along (and doing my 60 rows on the leg). I thought I was getting my floats loose enough and the knitting didn't look as lumpy as my usual colourwork attempts. So then I got cocky and decided to try it on.
From that point forward, I knew I was knitting a pair of socks whose entire purpose was to be knit. These are not socks which can be worn. It was a crafting exercise in futility, but I was okay with that. It's all about the journey and not the destination.
Actually, it's all about completing the round for Tour de Sock.
At some point near the end of sock 1 I decided to see whether Magic Looping would work better. Much as I love my DPNs, there's a lot of yarn management involved in stranded knitting, and all those ends were in the way.
Magic Loop is the way to go for colourwork. I started with a Carbonz circular, but the joins were way too bumpy and the yarn kept getting caught. I was not in a particularly zen frame of mind, so I had to change it up.
I had a 40" Addi Stumpo Blunty circular in the 2.25 mm size, and even though the tips are about as sharp as blackboard chalk, the joins on the circs was smooth and glidey. So I finished number one in a pretty positive frame of mind.
Since I knew that these would be decorative and not functional, I decided to knit the second sock on larger needles (2.75 mm) using fewer stitches (size M - 70 stitches). That also meant I could eliminate a repeat on the leg and the foot. The first one has about a 10" foot, and it's almost that size around as well.
I wanted to reverse the colours on the second one to make a fraternal pair. So I used the variegated as the main colour and the dark as the conrast colour. Miraculously, I didn't even mess up by reversing the main and contrast colours while chart reading.
I did both knitting with 2 circs (but I was using 24" Hiya Hiya sharps, and they aren't as slidey as I would like and I think 24" is a wee bit big -- 20" would be perfect), so I took a road trip to Mahone Bay and bought the store sample Addi Sock Rocket in the 40" size 2.75 mm. So I finished it with Magic Loop.
I'm not sure that I would ever be a magic loop convert for regular socks (or 2 circs for that matter), but they work better for colourwork. I'm pretty impressed.
It was dark when I finished last night, and dark this morning, so the FO pics are kind of dark and crappy. Oh well.
You can tell my tension is better on the second one.
They look a bit like brain coral.
But they're done and submitted and I'm still pulling for my team. I get us an extra point by using sponsor yarn. Everyone who included a photo of the chart dice also got an extra point. So this should be three points for Team Also Madly Courageous and one point for me.
So the socks weren't successful from a product perspective, but they were from a process perspective. Here's why they were a win:
The reason these took as long as they did is that I have been in real agony while knitting. My thumb is still sprained, and every time I use weights at the gym, it aggravates the sprain all over again. The sprain is kind of a pain, but it's not the main culprit.
I slept funny and kinked my neck one night about two weeks ago and it still hurts. But I fear that I have actually pinched a nerve. I have constant pain down my arm and down my back. It feels like when your arm falls asleep and then goes through that unbearable period where it wakes up. It's like that all the time. Sleeping is unbearable. I have to lie on my back with the arm elevated in one specific position. Extra strength Ibuprofent and Aleve aren't even touching it. So I can only knit for a bit each day, and there were a couple of days last week where I couldn't knit at all.
I will call and make a doctor's appointment this week. I was hoping it would go away (the way the kinked necks usually do), but so far it's tenacious.
Anyway, all that is just an explanation about why I'm so slow at the moment.
Tour de Sock number 4 came out today, and I cast on this morning. It uses a cable cast on and then some bind offs to make a picot cuff. The pattern is written for magic loop, but I don't have any 2.50 mm circs other than Addi Turbo Lace and I absolutely can't stand those brass needles. So I'm using my Signatures.
There's only one ball of yarn to work with, so that feels like a bit of a luxury (or a reprieve) at the moment. This design uses both beads and cables. I'm skunked.
I'm using the crochet hook method for adding the beads. So far it's working reasonably well.
Next blog post should have pair #4 in it.
The Lad and I have been doing tons of gardening and trying to get things whipped into shape. It's finally paying off. I think we have the most colourful house on the street. It has plenty of curb appeal. The trees we planted were totally worth it, but man was that a Herculean labour. We're built on bedrock and it took about 2 hours or more for each hole.
I'm going to insert a bunch of random garden shots. Feel free to skip to the end if you're still looking for yarn.
I'll take pictures of the trees and the back yard for the next blog post.
I've been walking lots and seeing all kinds of interesting things and flora. But this is getting long, so maybe I should finish with some yarn and project bags and do a nature blog post some time during the week.
I have some Cephalopod Yarns Bugga in Barber Pole Hopper and Montauk Monster (a good staple colour).
I got a Birdleg Bags project bag in a cute Matryoshka fabric. And check out the zipper pull bead. It's what cinched the deal for me.
I also got a beautiful Kaffe Fasset Petunia print large wedge bag from Mimi at Elinor and Marianne on Etsy. I just love her bags. She was so sweet and threw in a matching notions bag as well.
I'm hosting the SKA August second sock KAL, and I will be ordering a project bag from Elionor & Marianne for the winner (along with some skeins which I have already acquired for the KAL).
If you lust after really nicely done project bags, check out Elionor & Marianne on Etsy.
I'm all about the wedge bags recently. I am using a big one for my cross stitch (which has been woefully neglected since Tour de Sock). I have one for some of my circular needles, and I use one for my crochet hooks / beading supplies. The big ones are good for projects on the go as well.
And last but not least for this post, when I was in Mahone Bay at Have A Yarn (to get the Addi Sock Rocket for the colourwork sock), I picked up a couple of skeins of yarn. There are two variegated Madeline Tosh yarns (Sweet Pea and Chartres), a neutral grey in Sweet Fiber by Melissa, and a couple of muted variegated skeins of Waikiwi which is a New Zealand sock yarn which has possum and alpaca in it.
Oh super. It's firework time and the dogs are howling. It's going to be a long night....
Till next time, folks.
I seem to be knitting very slowly these days. Ordinarily, that's not a problem. But when you're in the middle of Tour de Sock, it is a problem.
So I'm going to give you a bunch of pics (including a bunch of random ones) and not so much text. You'll just have to wait awhile for my sparkling wit.
Tour de Sock pair #2 finished at 3:45 am the day they were due. It was a squeaker. I like the colour of the yarn, but it's a bit too variegated for a lace pattern like this. The Miss Babs Tarte would be good for something more plain. I bet it would be great for vanilla socks or something like ribbed socks. I found it a wee bit splitty.
The pattern is Kam Chu by Adrienne Fong (bellybutton knits). I love her patterns. It's a winner.
Sock #3 is stranded colourwork. I was so afraid it was going to be argyle. But it's actually quite cool.
So my skill challenge for this is two-handed knitting. I've changed the way I tension the yarn with my left hand. I'm doing it more like Geknitics -- tensioned over the middle finger and pointer finger. I started by knitting inside out which is good for the float tension. But I don't care if these ever get worn. They'll be fraternal. The first one is black (Valkyrie) for the main colour and Hot Sox for the contrast. I'll reverse them on sock 2 assuming I get there. I was planning to do 60 pattern rows on the leg before starting the heel. I'm at about row 26. I may ve to re-think it. I don't even care about the floats. I just need to get them done.
The project bag is by LoveBug bags. It's matryoshka dolls with a black background. It has a sunny yellow lining. I'm enjoying wedge bags more than sock sacks for knitting at the moment.
Q and Des and Delilah
Presumably yarn bombing for Knit in Public day/week. Except these appear to be crochet.
I spent 4 1/2 hours in Emergency on Thursday to have my hand x-rayed. It turns out that I didn't break the thumb. But I was horrified to see that they have plaster casting stations in the hallways / waiting areas. Maybe you get tired of waiting so long, the stuf is there so you can just help yourself....
And in case you're wondering where all the crazy people hang out, I'll give you a hint: the Emergency Department....
Wouldn't you love to live in this scenic little place?
I'll show you the Ukrainian friendship statue next post. It freaks me out.
Here's a cute thing I saw at a nifty little toy store. It's like flippers, but they're joined, so it's a mermaid tail. Excuse the glare- it was through a window. If I had small kids, I'd totally get a mermaid tail for them.
I have no idea what this green plant is, but it's monstrous. Take a look at the day lily for size comparison. These leaves are the size of large serving trays.
We're enamored of our public art and statues here in Halifax. Walter Scott appears to have egg on his face.
That would make a great sketch, though.
I stopped in at the mermaid tail store and left with a snake and a chicken (rooster).
Mid-June and there are still tulips in Halifax. We're a little slow in terms of the growth season.
And for those who are still reading, here's your reward. Some long overdue yarn p0rn.
My CanonHandDyes Minis kit -- the colourway is France or Marie Antoinette or Let them Eat Cake or something.
And some String Theory Colorworks Entanglement and Continuum in Muon. One for me and one for Princess.
Well, gotta run. I have to do some more rows on the sock. I haven't knit at all today and it's 10:17 pm. And I have to be up early in the morning.
I slept on my neck weird early last week and it's been bothering me ever since. It's actually sending shooting pains down my arm and down my back.
I hate getting old.
But I'm walking more, so there will be more random shots of interesting stuff and yard stuff.
Until next time. There's still a huge stash backlog. All in good time ....
It's been five weeks since I last blogged? That's crazy. But I've been busy with work, the garden, life and now Tour de Sock.
I have a ton of yarn p0rn, a bit of knitting, and a lot of randomness. If you're desperate to keep up to date on the small stuff, you can always follow me on Instagram. It's like blogging lite.
Where did we last leave off? Ah yes, the fire, and one Event Horizon sock and When Doves Fly (Purple Rain Purple Rainbow socks).
I've even had to start a list of the stash I've received and haven't blogged about. If I do it in bits and pieces, that will keep me going to the end of the year.
I signed up for Tour de Sock again this year in a fit of madness. I learned tons from it last year and actually managed to finish all six pairs of socks within the deadlines. This year I ended up on Team Also Madly Courageous. We're the leftovers from Team Madly Courageous so we're kind of like two brains with one stem.
I'm knitting in all sponsor yarn to try to get us extra points.
Since I've started talking about that, I may as well keep going. Tour de Sock stage one started on June 1. The first pattern was toe-up (not my preferred way to knit socks) with a Y-short row heel construction, and about a million cables.
I used my Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Lightweight in Cariblue. I figured the STR stitch definition and tight twist would be ideal for cables.
Is it just me or does anyone else think that the STR is different from how it was a couple of years ago? To me it seems softer and fuzzier and not quite as tightly plied. But maybe that's because I have almost always tended to use STR Mediumweight because of the extra yardage. Maybe the lightweight has always been like this. I noticed it last year when I used the brown stuff for the cabled sock in TdS as well.
I started the first sock (called Wye) in size large. It became abundantly clear early on that it was going to be the size of a Christmas stocking, so I had to frog and start again in size medium.
Here it is on my iPad to give the idea of the original scale. No, that's not an iPad mini. It was about 4.5" across. I joke about the fact that I have elephant feet - as wide as they are long, but this was seriously too big even for me.
The pattern also called for a rounded toe, which I'm not a huge fan of either. But I persevered.
In progress (bad colour - desk lighting at night):
Sock 1 done:
Two socks done. When we send our Tour de Sock pictures to Sarah the race director, we have to show both socks completed and visual evidence that the foot is at least 9" long. And if we're using sponsor yarn, we have to show the ball band.
Yes, there are some mis-crossed cables. Whatever. They're done. They will likely be relegated to gardening socks.
On the plus side, I learned Judy's Magic Cast On for this sock. I continued to do cables without a cable needle, and they work fine (particularly with Signatures -- not sure I would want to try them with Addi Stumpo Bluntys or with bamboo needles). I did Jeny's Surprisingly Sloppy Stretcy bind-off. I can't say that I'm a fan of that particular bind-off. They look like ruffles. The last time I did toe-up socks, I used the sewn bind-off from the Wendy Knits Toe Up Socks book, and it was better. If I ever voluntarily do a pair of toe-up socks again, that's what I'll use.
I bound off and wove in the ends of the Wye socks right before I had to leave for soccer on Sunday. And then I promptly went and sprained my thumb at soccer. It still hurts like a bugger, and part of me wonders whether it's actually broken and not just sprained. That was a week ago. It's palpably sore to the touch, which sprains generally aren't. I have very limited mobility, and it has hampered my knitting this week.
The second stage kicked off on Tuesday. I can't remember what number that was. It'll be on a calendar somewhere if it's important. [June 10 or thereabouts].
I've had lots of crazy work deadlines, and I ended up working really late on Tuesday, so I didn't get it started on day 1 of stage 2. I ended up casting on some time on Wednesday.
Then I couldn't decide between Sweet Georgia Cashluxe Fine in Blood Orange and Miss Babs Tarte in Impatiens. So I ultimately started one of each. The pattern calls for 2.50 mm needles, so I cast on for the smaller size (72 stitches) on larger needles in the Sweet Georgia, and the larger size (80 stitches) in the Miss Babs on size 2.25 mm needles.
This pattern is Kam Chu by Adrienne Fong (Bellybutton Knits). I really like her design esthetic. It's a top down (yay!) lacy (yay!) sock with some kind of strangled stitch open cabley things which only show to their best advantage while on the leg. They don't show up very well in the raw unblocked / unworn form.
At some point on Friday I ended up having to frog the Sweet Georgia version. Something happened and it just wasn't working. So I have continued in the Miss Babs.
This photo is pretty true to the colour. The pattern calls for three pattern repeats on the leg, but I did 4 because I prefer a longer leg. The yarn is more variegated than I was hoping for. I'd prefer it to be more tonal and less splotchy.
I finished sock #1 before dinner tonight. Here it is pre-kitchenering. I had to check the fit. The colour by the toe is closer -- the colour on the leg is too fuchsia. It's because I had a lamp next to me and it was dark already.
Once I finish sock #2, I'll take some decent FO shots.
The sock starts with a Twisted German cast-on, which we did for last year's socks as well. I like it. I did it over a 3.25 mm needle for some extra stretchiness.
The Miss Babs Tarte is a new yarn to me. It's 80% merino, 10% nylon, and 10% tencel. I find that tencel often mutes the colour of yarns, but this is pretty bright. I'm hoping that the tencel will help the socks hold up. The Tarte is described as a good sock yarn. It's a bit lustrous and a wee bit fuzzy, but it's on the thinner side which I prefer. I have found it quite splitty. It's a four-ply, and there's a fair bit of k3tog and centred double decreases and passing stitches over in this pattern, and those are proving challenging with the yarn. It's not a terribly forgiving yarn if you make a mistake. I think it would be great on slightly blunter needles (maybe the ChiaoGoos) and for a less fiddly pattern.
Given my time and physical limitations, there hasn't been any other knitting since the beginning of June.
I have been trying to crank out single socks so that I have a good base to work from in August when I host the Second Sock KAL on the SKA group in Ravelry.
But I think I'll leave those for another post.
Perhaps I should show some yarn. Or some garden stuff.
But it's 11:00 and I have to be up early and I don't have all the shots of the garden I want, so I think I'll just end this one here. I'll try to blog a little more frequently. There's a huge backlog of photos (which is really the basis for my blogging). You'll probably still be seeing pictures of spring knitting in December.
I've been taking the dogs for longer walks (with mixed results) now that the weather has decided to cooperate. (Hey, I only got my snow tires changed over on Friday).
One of my favourite places to go is the Frog Pond. There's tons of neat stuff there. I'll save most of the interesting photos for another day, but I leave you with some photos of Ladyslippers.
I think they're a kind of orchid or maybe a lily.
They're a protected species and you aren't allowed to pick them.
But I shake my head every time I see them. "Ladyslippers". Not.
They look more like certain bits of anatomy you'd never find on a lady.... Just sayin'.
Okay, over and out for now. Maybe I'll get another post in this week. I have a huge backlog.....
For now, I'm going to start the next book in the Repairman Jack series.
Well, technically I blame Roo and Somer. Even more technically, I credit them (rather than "blame") for my return to cross stitch.
BTW this will be a graphics-heavy post.
At some point on her blog (I can’t remember when, because I read the entire thing in a couple of weeks – all six years’ worth) Roo mentioned the lovely cross stitch by Satsuma Street. So of course that piqued my interest and off I went to Etsy.
I had Satsuma Street as one of my favourites in Etsy for a long time.
And then when I started on Instagram, I noticed that Somer (and others) were posting pictures of their cross stitch. There are lots of people who are working on samplers from the Frosted Pumpkin.
And I remembered that I have a box of unfinished cross stitch and needlepoint.
I am quite certain I haven’t touched any cross stitch since we moved here from Calagary in 1995. I’ve done a bit of needlepoint, but that was early on. I certainly haven’t done any in the last 10 or even 15 years.
But like the craft hoarder I am, I moved all my stuff with me when we moved houses three years ago. I belatedly discovered that the kids threw out my boxes of needlepoint books (all my Kaffe Fassett and Beth Russell hardcovers… I could throttle the little buggers, but I try to be zen about it). So I haven’t done anything about either of those ancient crafts.
Then the other night I took down my box of needlepoint and embroidery and had a wee peek. I have actually completed one cross stitch project and there are two more on the go. I also have patterns for a couple of others.
I appear to have completed one needlepoint pillow and am missing the edging on the Maggie Lane dragon.
This is one by my husband – apparently unfinished objects run in the family. He did complete another one which I stitched into a pillow.
And when I was little, my Granny made me and my brother needlepoint pillows. It even has my name on it in petit point.
Unfortunately, it has suffered at the hands paws of the beasts. Not sure whether that’s feline or canine bestiality. Oops, wrong word. Beastliness.
Ha ha ha – won’t the freaks looking for animal porn be surprised when their Google searches turn up a knitting blog. Ha ha ha ha ha.
Anyway, my finished cross stitch is one of a pair of Serapi pillow designs.
The other one is almost finished.
The patterns came from Barbara Christie’s Needle Arts in Calgary, and that was at least 19 years ago. (Really? Have I been in Halifax for almost 20 years? Sigh.)
I don’t have a lot left to finish on the blue one. I should get cracking on that.
I also bought these animal patterns way back when. I love the jaguar (or cheetah or whatever it is) and the zebra. They’re fairly large. Here’s whatever I got done on the zebra. For a black and white animal, it’s actually all beige and brown. And the one of the cat on the rug was "new" in 1994, which is probably about when I bought it.
I couldn’t remember what I had done with the embroidery floss for the Serapi pillow. As it turns out, it’s in one of my two floss boxes. The first is just DMC floss and the second is the shiny DMC floss stuff. Look how pretty this stuff is.
That’s why I used to love needlepoint and cross stitch. It’s like jewels in the form of string.
So anyway, back to Roo. It all started (again) with her mention of Satsuma Street, and that has of course (re-)created a crafting monster.
I have added several cross stitch shops to my Etsy favourites. I’m not so much a fan of samplers and cutesy cross stitch patterns. I like the more decorative things. There are some really lovely designs in these shops.
I really like the Satsuma Street patterns. Her Pretty Little city series is lovely, and probably about right for my re-introduction to cross stitch.
So I started Pretty Little Paris on Friday night. All I could find at Michaels (remember my previous comments about what a crafting wasteland this is) was 14 ct aida in black. I want to do the pretty little city designs on a black rather than a white background.
I couldn’t remember whether I used to do 14 count with 2 or 3 strands. I started with 2 and then bumped it up to 3. It goes reasonably fast, but not as fast as needlepoint because the cross stitch is two stitches for every square rather than one.
But I’m going to enjoy my return to cross stitch.
And the joy of cross stitch? The skeins of floss are $.49 each. I could probably find them even cheaper at Walmart.
I’m alternating between cross stitch (says she after having done one evening’s worth) and knitting. I’m almost finished sock #1 of the Event Horizon.
ETA: This was actually written on Saturday. I finished the first Event Horizon sock and have started on FishKnits Canadiana.
I have signed up for this year’s Tour de Sock again and am on Team Also Madly Courageous. Not sure what I was thinking, but I did enjoy it last year.
[Last year, idiot girl, you weren’t in the middle of a FAM audit. You had way more time on your hands. And you still nearly didn’t finish a couple of them. What makes you think you can do it this year?]
So that starts June 1. I am going to have to get the cross stitching in while I still can. For June and July and August it will be almost all knitting.
But for now, I’ll enjoy what I’m doing. So thanks, Roo, for the link to Satsuma Street. You’ve made me very happy.
Come to think of it, Roo, I blame you for the Magic Notebook as well….
Other ramblings: Why on earth with my failing eyesight did I decide to do cross stitch on black fabric? I’m clearly a glutton for punishment.
My eyes are in transition. Over the last six months I’ve noticed that things are blurry. When I want close-up work (such as knitting and cross stitch), I find it much easier without contacts or glasses. I keep meaning to get my eyes checked so I can get my prescription changed. I just hope I’m not into the world of bifocals (or progressive lenses or whatever they’re called).
The other thing about cross stitch is that it requires full attention. It is not video podcast or tv friendly. It’s good for audiobooks and audio podcasts.
For now, Happy Mothers Day (Mother's Day? Mothers' Day?). I have to decide between knitting and cross stitching. Really, I need more arms and another brain.
No, fortunately it is not I who am having the bad day. I had a good day at the gym this morning, and I managed to complete Off the Record: Linden Shades (no hints or skips all the way through, thank you very much). I did have to do a bunch of work work, and I have more tomorrow (including copious amounts of grocery shopping for NAOSH week). That's not ideal, given that I've spent my last two complete weekends in a marking frenzy (plus a whole whack of evenings). I'm glad April is over.
This is the last I ever have to deal with these.
But I'm digressing, and I'm only on the third paragraph.
The reason it's a bad day for someone is that the house three doors down was on fire today. I've never actually seen a house fire before. There was black smoke bellowing from the master bedroom window. I took more video than photos and have not a clue how to embed videos in the blog, so you'll have to make do with photos of fire trucks.
No one was hurt.
At the height of the excitement, there were 4 fire trucks, a tactical unit, 2 fire supervisor SUVs and 3 police cars. Not bad for a gloriously sunny May day in Halifax. [No ambulances because no one was injured -- not even sure whether the owners were at home.]
Ironically, the house on fire is owned by a police officer, I believe.
It was a spectacle. Yes, indeedy. In fact, there were so many people coming out to watch, it was a veritable block party. All that was missing was the marshmallows on sticks.
The first fire truck drew up across from the house on fire. I knew something was up when the firemen started unwinding the hose. I've never seen that before. They don't generally do that for false alarms.
The fire must have been in the upstairs -- the smoke was coming out of the master bedroom window. It smelled electrical.
The second truck arrives.
The third truck arrives. Good thing I had no plans to go anywhere - I was hemmed in. Note buddy the quick change artist getting out of truck #3 and donning his gear.
The looky-loos come out and the first police car parks diagonally to stop any vehicular traffic.
I have no idea how to embed videos. If you're lucky and you click on these links, you'll get the videos. Fire truck #4 came around the block from the other end and parked at the front of fire truck #1. They had to use the extension ladder thing. It was quite fascinating.
This is three times now that I've experienced exciting goings on in my neighbourhood.
The first was in 2010 in the old house when the car came around the corner and tipped over in the next-door neighbour's driveway. For my six readers who weren't following me then, it was captured in pictures in this post. It's worth checking out the post for the wow factor.
The second time was two Novembers ago (2012 I believe) when there was a little incident with another neighbour and a gun and some smashed windows and french doors and a big police standoff. I don't have photos of that, though. Sorry to disappoint.
Anyway, that's mostly the non-knitting portion of the blog.
Off the needles I have finished my When Doves Fly socks. The yarn is an 80/20 MN blend by White Birch Fiber Arts ("Friends don't let friends craft with insipid yarn") in the Purple Rain, Purple Rainbow colourway. I love the yarn. These were orignally going to be for me, but then Princess claimed them. (What else is new?)
I reversed the direction on the second sock so that the rainbow striping sequence is upside down. They're fraternal ("mismatched") so Princess is even happier.
I'm on a self-striping kick, so I went to grab the next contender out of the bin. This is what I pulled out. Look closely at the label. One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just isn't the same. I didn't even notice when I got the yarn. I think I entered it on Rav as "Enterprise". Because that's of course what the label says.
There is no white, no navy, no flecks, no red, and no grey. As you can see, it is eye searingly bright neon and black.
The actual colourway is Event Horizon. Here's the first sock in progress.
There has been some stash enhancement as well. Or some woolpig, however you choose to look at it.
It's all in the form of self-striping yarns. There's some Fishknits, some TurtlePurl, and some (more) White Birch Fiber Arts.
I think I'll string it out over several posts.
Here's the Fishknits yarn. The Canadiana contains the colours of the iconic Hudsons Bay Co. blankets. There's only one stripe of each of the four colours on the leg, and the rest is au naturel. The Gabardinee is similar to TurtlePurl's Trenchcoat (formerly known as Burberry). [Ask me how I know about the similarities....] And the third is a white and red stripe with stellina. My feet will look like candy canes. Or, more likely, barber poles.
And speaking of stellina, it's all over my head. When did that happen?
I leave you with the photo of the HFD Division Commander. There were actually two of them. So I guess they were co-commanders.
There are certain truisms in the universe. I can think of three at the moment:
Really, items 2 and 3 are kind of related.
Truism 1 is a simple but profound expression which I first heard from one of the lawyers I worked with. It was often used in the context of having to accept the facts as they are, even if that means that the consequences for the client are less than desirable. It applies to many things in life.
The second truism is that you have to pay the piper. There are no shortcuts, and at the end of the day you just have to suck it up. There is no magic fast forward button.
The third truism is that I’m ridiculous. Look up the word “ridiculous” in the dictionary (if they even have such things anymore) and you’ll see my name.
Here it is, the long weekend in April. Lots of people are celebrating Easter. Which, since it’s Good Friday, I guess means that today people are celebrating death, then on Sunday they’ll be celebrating life, and on Saturday they’ll be celebrating chocolate or whatever. Not being the religious type, I don’t celebrate anything. Sometimes there is chocolate, but not this year. Princess is out west again, the Lad has to work a Mooseheads game tonight, and I have to mark.
Which is where the ridiculous and the piper come in.
I have stack of papers which I still haven’t marked because they are so abysmally awful I don’t know where to start. I’m trying not to be cranky at the fact that most of the students don’t bother to show up for class, so they haven’t actually paid attention to whatever little nuggets of wisdom I dispense. But they’re terrible writers and on top of that, are completely misguided about this particular assignment. And that makes for a totally disastrous marking experience. It takes four times as long to mark a bad assignment as it does to mark a good one.
I now have three days in which to finish (start?) marking 55 papers. Then on Easter Monday, the students write their 3.5 hour exam. And those have to be marked and handed back the following Monday. My life is a disaster.
We’re getting to the ridiculous part.
Does anyone else do this? “I’ll just knit / watch tv / go to a movie / whatever right now, and then in 2 hours / 1 day / on the weekend I’ll mark papers / house clean / mow the lawn / do my taxes….”
I’m the queen of that because I’m ridiculous. It’s 11:10. So here’s my thought. I’ll just blog / surf the internet until noon and then I’ll mark my papers.
And at the end of the day, the papers always take longer than I think they will and I’ll spend sometimes an all-nighter getting them marked. Because you have to pay the piper.
So my ridiculousness right now is blogging.
Hmm…Typepad is not responding. Do you think that’s possibly a sign?
No, I don’t believe in karma or the universe, so shut up.
It will be a briefish post because I do in fact have to spend a lot of time marking from now on.
So let’s begin, shall we?
One of the ways I structure my blog posts is to look at the photos I’ve uploaded since the last one. It’s that simple.
And I see that I have a photo of my delicious tomato, avocado, bocconcini salad with green onions, balsamic vinegar & olive oil and basil paste. Sobey’s never has fresh basil. It’s always sold out. So I bought a tube of the paste. It’s like vile toothpaste, but is full of basilly deliciousness.
I’m feeling virtuous about my salad because it meant that I actually used avocado rather than letting it rot / petrify in the vegetable drawer. And it’s only 7 ingredients. Even I, lazy as I am, can do that. And I think of it as being pretty healthy. Go me.
I particularly love how the olive oil and the balsamic vinegar emulsify almost immediately.
If you follow me on Instgram, you’ve seen this already.
In terms of non-food fiber this week, there was another delivery from White Birch Fiber Arts. I have no one to blame but myself. Last week when I was blog posting, I had the link to Lisa’s shop. And of course I had to check it out to make sure that the link was correct. And what did I find? “Nothing Says Screw You Like a Rainbow” and “Scandalous Carrot” and “Red, Red Wine”. So they leaped into my cart. (I guess that would be “leapt” if you’re one of my UK readers.)
The amazing thing is that I got an instantaneous shipping notice, and lo and behold, the yarn arrived at my door (well, at the communal mail box) on Wednesday. That’s because in the US, the postal system operates on Saturdays.
Granted, this was only coming from Vermont, which is basically a hop, skip and a jump from Nova Scotia. But three days? Really? Unbelievable.
I’m still waiting for a wee shipment that left California on the 9th of April.
So what does this tell me? It tells me that I’m gonna order more yarn from White Birch Fiber Arts and less yarn from anywhere which is 4 time zones away. That’s the kind of karma I believe in.
And I have three more skeins in my Etsy cart. And Lisa is having a shop update on the 25th. You people need to get on it and buy up all her yarn in order to save me from myself.
Here are the three lovelies that arrived. First is the group shot, then the individual portraits.
And yes, I use that somewhat tongue in cheekily. Unlike the Yarn Harlot, I will never own a camera which looks more complicated than a nuclear power station control centre and which comes with a 329 page instruction manual. I love my iPhone camera. It does the trick for me.
And because I am ridiculous and engage in procrastiknitting, I have completed the first CaterpillarGreen sock and started on a White Birch Fiber Arts sock.
Here’s the CaterpillarGreen sock in progress and then some HO portraits.
The yarn is an 80/10/10 MCN, and it’s nice and soft, but not to the point that it feels like mouse fur.
This is an asymmetrical or irregularly striping colourway in that not all the stripes are the same width (or length in the skein, I guess) and they are random in terms of colour placement. I love this yarn. It reminds me a bit of a Dr. Who scarf. So these might be my Dr. Who socks. Even the colours are a bit close. The official colourway is called Hillside. But I think Dr. Who Scarf covers it.
There’s a gorgeous teal, followed by a teeny olive section, then a terra cotta, followed by a sapphire/cobalty blue, then terra cotta, sapphire/cobalt, olive [with a wonky line of a darker green for about half a stripe which I assume was a dye pot error but I don’t care], then the cobalt, the teal, olive, greyish plum, mustard, purple, teal, plummy grey – not quite the same colour as on the heel, cobalt, grey, teal, olive, and terra cotta. There’s still a strand of a darker moss green which I didn’t get to because the sock ended.
I hope that this patterning sequence repeats so that I can have matching socks. If not, it’s no big deal.
In terms of project details, I cast on 72 stitches on 2.25 mm needles for the leg; did 20 rows of ribbing and then started the stockinette. I did a heel flap and gusset (duh), but instead of slipping stitches, I did a stockinette heel where I did twisted knit stitches. If I were smart, I would have done that on the toes as well, since I think these will end up being for Princess because they’re just a wee bit short in terms of length. I switched to 2.0 mm needles for the heel flap, gusset and foot.
Anyway, I am quite pleased with this particular yarn. There are a couple of colourways from CaterpillarGreen which have this sort of asymmetrical/irregular striping.
And since I worked from home yesterday, I ended up working until 8 pm. (Which is the downside of working from home – you can just keep going and going without having to worry about traffic or anything and if there are no kids home, the next thing you know it's 8:00 at night). Then I decided it was far too late to start marking papers, so I would knit instead. There’s the ridiculous again.
So I finished the CaterpillarGreen sock last night and then started on a White Birch Fiber Arts sock in the Purple Rain Purple Rainbow colourway. It’s awesome. I love it so much. I don’t want to stop knitting it. I think I’m going to call the project When Doves Fly as a bit of a nod to the Prince reference in the colourway name, and as a bit of a nod to the fact that the blue and white looks like clouds / sky and birds fly in the air.
The Lad has been out at school until all hours of the night, so sometimes Des comes to stay in my room until the Lad gets home. Persia’s not sure how she feels about him.
Okay, that’s it for now folks. I really and truly am off to start marking. If I’m really fast, then maybe I can get all 55 knit by Sunday night.
ETA: 4:00 and I have 6 marked. uh oh..... And these are the good ones.
Procrastiknitting -- it's what happens when I am *supposed* to be doing something else (like, for instance, marking) and I somehow end up knitting instead. It's a guilty pleasure.
So my procrastiknitting the other night was finishing the second Patina sock. Now I have a pair.
This is a pattern which is 64 stitches around. I used 2.5 mm needles. (I used the ChiaoGoo DPNs and absolutely love them. They're absolutely fine for things like centred double decreases, and k2tog and ssk. They also split the yarn less than the SNAs).
I only did 2 mods. One was to use the single sole gusset decrease (from Turtlegirl76 on Ravelry) instead of the standard gusset decrease from the instep. That one seems to fit my foot the best. It actually looks like a heel when the sock is flat, as opposed to short row heels or after/forethought heels which really are just L-shaped bends in the sock.
The second mod was to do an extra repeat of the centre detail after finishing the side bits. You can see that most clearly in the first photo on the foot inside Lola. It just finishes it off nicely rather than having the blank expanse of toescape at the end.
The yarn is Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label which is a 3-ply 80/20 superwash MN blend. It's fairly soft and quite durable. I have several pairs in Blue Label. I do find it a bit splittier than some other MN yarns, but it was definitely better using the ChiaoGoos.
The sock pattern is very intuitive and goes quite quickly. It's a bit like the Jubilee Socks from Cookie A. This is my favourite kind of pattern -- interesting but intuitive or simple enough not to require slavish adherence to a chart all the time. I ended up memorizing the repeats, so that was helpful.
For those who don't know, Tanis Lavallee (of Tanis Fiber Arts) designed the pattern. This was the first pattern she wrote for her Year in Colour yarn club.
The colour of the yarn is Lucky Penny, and I think it goes so well with the pattern The colourway looks a bit like tarnished (oxidized?) pennies -- copper with a patina. So I guess these are my Lucky Penny Patina socks.
The yarn is variegated enough to be interesting and have some depth, but not so variegated as to fight with the stitch pattern.
This is a total win win. I have more TFA planned for when my April knitting embargo is over.
So that was my procrastiknitting. I'm pretty pleased with the result. I ended up finishing the foot in a night.
That's it for the knitting. The rest is more yarn pr0n. Hardcore yarn pr0n in fact.
Roo, you might be in danger of stroking out over the yarn profligacy / wool piggery here. Just giving you fair warning.
Coming up: White Birch Fiber Arts, BMFA RSC, and Sweet Georgia.
First off, my March Blue Moon Fiber Arts skein arrived today. It's STR Lightweight and the colourway is Mad as a March Hare. It could also be named My Wild Irish Girlie in Flannel.
It's basically pink, greens and charcoal grey.
It's not hugely different from the January colourway.
Last year, 5 of the 6 RSC colourways had green in them, and the 6th one was Orphan Fledge which was a dark grey with other colours (blues / purples etc.). Even the Hope Springs Eternal wasn't a hugely light and airy colourway. It ends up looking mostly light greenish.
In 2012 there was a bit more variation in the colour -- we started the year with HRH Princess Violetta, and there was kind of an interesting Tideway and of course there was Budding Twig. But 2013 was quite a dark year for Tina and 2014 is kind of similar.
Anyway, most of them will end up being made into socks for Princess, and eventually they fade anyway. But jeez, a spirit or a tipsy clan or something bright and sunny would be nice for a change. Just no more green for a while. I'm starting to feel mossy.
But I digress.
I had also ordered some skeins of yarn from White Birch Fiber Arts. That's Lisasocks on Ravelry. She does gradient self-striping sock yarn. She has an 80/20 MN base and an 80/10/10 MCN base. Just as an FYI, when I do a Google search for White Birch Fiber Arts, the first thing that comes up is the offiial Metamucil site. Perhaps there's birch in it.
So, um, yeah. Head on over there if you're interested. She has some "Nothing Says Screw You Like a Rainbow" in stock at the moment.
Anyway, the ones I got from her are these:
If you want to see how they knit up, head oever to her shop. She has partial socks / tubes over glass jars or glasses, which is kind of a cool way to show how the yarn knits up.
And the shipping from Vermont to Nova Scotia? Super speedy, even for Canada Post.
Unlike a particular order which went from LA to Canada Customs, cleared customs and then WENT BACK TO LA. WTF?
I blame you, Canada Post.
Anyway, I told Princess that I'd make socks for her. But I might have lied a little. That was really just a way to have her not nag me about buying yarn. The lies we tell our children... But of course when they are actually knit up, if she squeals over them, I have no choice but to give them up.
And then there was the other Sweet Georgia Yarns order. It's basically all my favourite colours. What can I say? These are all Silk Crush, and I am going to make socks for me for work.
Hmm, I can't decide which version I like better in terms of the yarn arrangements, so you'll have to look at both.
From left to right: Bison, Jade, Blood Orange, Basil, Raspberry, Coral Rose, Melon, Orchid [her signature colour] and China Doll.
Oh yeah, the Cookie A sock club offering also arrived. It's Cephalopod Yarns Skinny Bugga in Tyrian Mollusk. The patterns are fabbity fab fab. I will definitely be doing a Drogon and possibly a Danaerys.
So that ends the wool piggery.
Look, it's better than being on drugs or beating my children. Don't judge.
The children have competing tattoos. I have apparently been pressed into service as tat paparazzo (paparazza?).
The Lad's is still all black. No colour yet. The red is blood. This is just what he had done this week.
The rest of it is a phoenix. I'll get a picture of the front of the arm at some point.
And Princess just got more of her colour done today. Hers is also a phoenix with some cherry blossoms.
I appreciate them as works of art. I have some Japanese Bushido tattoo books which I think are very cool.
But the time and expense? OMG. The kids have each had probably 4 sessions so far. Princess' tattoo is by a more experienced guy and the Lad's is by someone less experienced, but these things are thousands of dollars. [I have my retort next time either of them dares make a comment about having to resort to eating yarn. I am going to point at their various tattoos and ask how many skeins of yarn each tattoo represents. That ought to shut them up. Maybe forever.]
The kids keep asking me when I'm going to get a tattoo. And the answer to that is: never.
I explain to them that your physical geography changes over time, and what looks all firm and perky now is going to look like a sea monster in 40 years' time.
But they're young and I'm middle aged. My geography is well on its way to looking Loch Ness. Besides, if I got a tattoo I'd want one of those huge works of art all down my back or something, but then I'd have to have my head sewn on backwards and I'd be arrested for indecency (on oh so many levels). What's the point in having a tattoo if you can't see it?
I'll stick to blue and purple hair. Last year it was blue. This year I'm going purple ombre.
But it will have to wait until after I get Mikel to fix my hair. I got out of the shower the other day and decided that about 5" had to go. It was getting way too long and it was tangly and snarly and I was starting to look like one of those granola women who never cut their hair and who look like horribly aging hippies. I couldn't find my actual Henkels hair cutting scissors. So I used pinking shears. Mikel has to add some Deva Curl layers back in. And do the ombre thing.
I think that's everything.
Oh, not it's not.
Ocean Patch on Etsy.
And my sweet Sabastian. He's the best snuggle puggle ever.
Okay, there really will be radio silence for the next few weeks. I have a bunch of huge deadlines, one of which expanded significantly late this afternoon. So now I'm going back to my work work. And tomorrow I'm marking. Sigh.
I'd really rather procrastiknit.