Monday, October 30, 2006

Packing for (Kn)Italy

So my big quandary about packing for (Kn)Italy is how I'm going to manage all my knitting supplies. In July, when I traveled to Georgia to see family, I packed a whole suitcase just for knitting.

It makes me happy just looking at it.

But clearly, that would be stupid for a trip to Italy. Especially because I am trying really, really hard not to check any luggage. Which means one carry-on sized suitcase and a big tote bag. (And only whatever hair products I can fit into tiny containers and stuff into a quart-sized bag). To be honest, I am not the low-maintenance sort. So this will be quite the challenge.

But I'm pretty determined. Since I'm traveling by myself for the first part of the trip and will be carting my luggage on and off trains, in and out of taxis, and up and down streets, I want to make things as easy on myself as possible. I also don't want to have to deal with waiting to claim checked luggage. (The last time I flew internationally, my checked luggage did not arrive for two days, and then some stuff had been stolen out of it.) Plus, I plan to bring a small duffel bag inside my suitcase to put gifts in along the way; I'll check that bag on the way home.

All-in-all, it sounds like a pretty good plan, eh?

Here's the suitcase.
Hand shown for scale.
Play-Doh shown for lack of cleaning.

Here's the suitcase open.
Cat shown for scale.
And because she's cute.

So what do you think? Am I nuts?

I have worked really hard to minimalize my wardrobe. Here's my big coup.

The perfect pair of shoes.

That's right, I am going to attempt a feat I have never, ever tried before. One pair of shoes, for a whole trip, to go with everything. These are Earth Shoes and they are super-comfortable. I've tried them on with the three pairs of pants and the one skirt I'm packing, and they work with all of it. In the past, shoe-packing has probably been my biggest packing issue.

Now the two big issues will be my knitting and my books. Prioritizing is very difficult for me. Bookwise, I will for sure bring one novel, a travel journal, and my Italian-English dictionary. Beyond that, I also want to bring my Idiot's Guide to Italian and at least one of my travel guide books. I realize this may be too much.

Knitwise, I think I'm screwed. As you can see from the first picture, I tend to pack everything I might possibly be able to use, including every possible needle and pattern. How much knitting can I get done in 16 days, including two long plane trips and some train travel? I will definitely pack two balls of Lorna's Laces for my toe-up socks, plus the necessary dpns. Maybe that should be all I take. But it would kill me to only have one project option, especially if I were to finish it.

I thought I might take one pair of circs and maybe two or three skeins of Malabrigo to make some more scrunchable scarves. The TSA website recommends bamboo or plastic needles, but my circs are metal. Have any of you had any trouble flying with metal needles? I would appreciate any tips about how to prioritize knit needs for travel, as well as any anecdotes about traveling with knitting.

Oh, but here is one beautiful thing about what promises to be a very beautiful trip. There is an awesome LYS about a block-and-a-half from where I'm staying in Florence! Che bella!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Socktoberfest Socks!

I finished my first pair of Socktoberfest Socks yesterday. I'm sure it is self-delusional to call them my "first" pair because, let's face it, I leave for Italy in a week and there is so much to do that I'm thinking it would be mighty unrealistic - even for me - to think that I'm going to knit another pair before I go.

I did, however, order some more Lorna's Laces in Tuscany so that I can make a pair of socks just like this, for myself, on my trip. Knitting with a yarn called "Tuscany" while I'm in Tuscany! - that is either a very fun idea, or a very geeky one.

Here they are.
The heels, toes, and cuff are done in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted, in Chocolate.
The rest is in Tuscany.
I think this colorway and color combination is even more lovely in person.
Can you tell I'm quite pleased?

A note to my neighbors:
Yes, that was socks I was taking picture of on the front lawn.
Yes, I realize that it was ridiculously cold for an October afternoon.
And that I forgot my jacket.
And that I looked like a freak.
It's Socktoberfest.

An action shot.

My friend T, for whom I made these, wears a size 10. I wear a size 7, so I didn't make an adequate sock model. Becky, however, wears the same size as T, and she graciously agreed to a little photo shoot. (For the record, that is NOT my couch in the background. We took this picture at church. Yeah, I realize it was a strange thing to be doing at church.)

I really want to try toe-up for the pair I make for myself, but I'm not sure I'm up for the challenge. For one thing, whenever I try something new, I need to have ready internet access to get whatever help, tutorials, pictures, or videos I need. And I'm not sure what kind of access I'll have while in Italy. Not to mention the issue of whether or not I really want to be chasing down internet tutorials when instead I could be roaming around the Uffizi, or sipping coffee in an Italian cafe, or simply sitting in a plaza watching people.

But you never know. The lure of the knit is strong!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Scenes from the Puntin Patch

"Puntin" is how Tiny Dancer says "pumpkin."

On Saturday, we took the boys to a local apple orchard that has a big pumpkin patch and a petting zoo. Their favorites animals? Definitely a toss-up between the sheep and the pigs.

Tiny Dancer studies the sheep.
I think that boy will be a knitter someday.

Rounding the bend on the wagon ride, Little Buddha spots the pumpkin patch.

Once in the patch, though, he's not so sure what to do.
Tiny Dancer, however, knows exactly what this situation calls for.

Running hurdles, of course.

He just took off, jumping over every pumpkin in his path.

No clue where he got that idea.

But he did it with flare.

Contemplating his next round of hurdles.

Taking two at once.

Enjoying every minute of it.

Mission accomplished.

Maybe next year.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The Blue Period

Not because I'm depressed. Just because I like the color.

My Scrunchable Scarf, in Malabrigo Azul Profundo,
is coming along nicely.
It would've been done by now, except that I keep working on
many, many other things.

Like this Men's Zippered Raglan Cardigan from LMKG.
I'm really excited about this.
Which is why I'm working on it even though
many, many other knit deadlines loom.

The handspun from Julie.
Sooooo yummy.

And in the non-blue, non-knitting category, I have these.
Stitchettes from Wee Wonderfuls.
I am so excited to embroider these adorable creatures.
You know, in my extra time.

Friday, October 20, 2006

A Terrible, Beautiful Evening

But first, a response.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for all your very sweet, very generous comments about my cropped cardigan (both here and over on the KH board). I appreciate the suggestions about how I might add some length, as well as the affirmations about the current length. For now I'll probably leave it as is since I have so many other projects on my plate. To address some specific comments:
Amber, you made my day writing that my waist looks tiny! Of course, I did intentionally pose both my body and my camera in a very particular way in order to minimize the look of my waist as much as possible! ;)
Julie, I am 5'5.5". I measured the sweater again, from shoulder to waist - 18 inches. I measured myself from shoulder to waist - 18 inches. So I guess it's hitting in the right place. But I guess since I usually wear lower-waisted jeans and pants I am used to having my tops come down further than waist-length. I can't wait to see yours!
Becka, if I do end up adding length, I'm probably going to go exactly with what you mentioned - a garter stitch edge the same width as the button band, so about 6 rows. I think that would look cute, even though one of the things I first loved about this cardigan in the pattern pictures was how the bottom front edges looked b/c of the lace pattern.
goodkarma, I considered the grafting idea as well, which I think would look really nice (and would preserve the look I love for the bottom front edges). I'm not sure I have enough yarn, though (though I'm not really a good judge of that). My current thinking is to do as you suggest - try to "rock an outfit out of it."

I'll keep y'all posted on what I end up doing.

On to my terrible, beautiful, and completely non-knitting related evening.

Tonight My Old Man and I had very special plans. The Indigo Girls are in town. I have a lot of favorite singers and bands, but if I had to only pick one, the Indigo Girls would be it. My first official date with My Old Man was to an IG concert in 1999. And I haven't seen them since. Which is kind of weird, because up to that point, I had seen them 7 times in 7 years. Anyway, we read they were coming to town and we knew we had to make it a date.

The babysitter arrived in enough time for us to have a leisurely dinner first. Just before leaving, I noticed a bit of clutter in the living room that I decided to quickly move to my study. I grabbed the stuff, swung the door open, threw the stuff on the floor, and began to hastily pull the door shut. Unbeknownst to me, Little Buddha had followed me. And as I turned around, I sort of stepped on him. In my stumbling and concern over whether I'd hurt him, I pulled the door completely shut behind me. And just then, I realized his finger was in it.

It was horrifying. I had pulled it completely shut. I gasped and whirled around to open the door. Only it has one of those stupid plastic childproof things on the knob. And in my panic, I could not get it open. It was just the most awful thing, trying frantically to get the door open while my little boy's finger was smashed in it. I finally clawed the plastic knob completely off the doorknob and got the door open.

His finger looked totally flattened and horrible. It was not just the tip, but all the way down to the middle knuckle (though not including the knuckle itself). It was gruesome. He was crying, and I think I was crying. The sweet little guy asked, "Are you okay, Mommy?" through tears. I said, "Yes, baby, are you okay?" And he said, "No," in the most pitiful little voice. It just tore my heart.

We stayed for awhile till things calmed down. My Old Man was pretty sure he was fine. We left for dinner. Got to the parking lot (5 minutes away), and then came right back home. I couldn't stand it. I had to see if he was okay (though when I called the babysitter she said everything was fine). I thought I would take him to the Urgent Care Center and miss the concert. I got home, he seemed fine, I looked up some things on the internet, and nothing seemed to indicate he needed immediate medical attention. So we left again, though now not in time to have dinner.

He seems fine now. The babysitter said he used his hand and fingers well at dinner, seemed in a good mood, didn't complain about his finger hurting, or anything. Still, the whole thing made me so sick and I still get upset when I think about it. I mean, haven't you heard of people actually losing a finger because they got it smashed in something? That's what I kept thinking. That, and reliving the panic of knowing his finger was smashed in the door and not being able to get it open. That episode lasted maybe 45 seconds, but it seemed like such a long, slow time.

In the end, though, the evening turned beautiful. We got to the concert on time and it was spectacular. Sinking into their music is such a familiar comfort to me. Their voices feel like home. Those tight awesome harmonies (I once heard Nanci Griffith say they had the sweetest, tightest harmonies since the Everly Brothers), the genius guitar work, the poetry of the lyrics. It just feels like home. A happy, beautiful, inspiring, comforting home. *sigh*

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The (Somewhat) Fabulous Lace Inset Cardigan

So I'm finally back to blogland (after an unintentional and uncharacteristic nearly-week-long hiatus), and with an actual FO. The Fabulous Lace Inset Cardigan, from

The details (I usually forget to do this part):
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Bulky, in Spice, 5 skeins, plus some from a 6th for seaming
Needles: KnitPicks Options, size 13
The Pattern: click link above
Cast On: August 27th-ish
Cast Off: September 21st
Finished: the &*^$% seaming took forever! Part of that was procrastination (I put the sweater aside for awhile before I even tried to seam). Part of it was that I suck at seaming. And part of it is that the pattern instructions leave a lot to be desired when it comes to the seaming.
The Verdict: A fun knit, a so-so FO.

As usual, I'm ambivalent about my finished product. Turns out, it's not at all too tight. It is fitted, and it fits great. But it is cropped. Intentionally. Even after blocking it twice - first to the specifications of the pattern, and then a bit more to try to add some lengt -, it still shows my midriff (of course there is a shirt there). People, if there is one part of my body I do not need to be calling attention to, it is my midriff. And that's what a cropped thing is all about, isn't it? Calling attention to the belly. And trust me, a post-twin belly does not need the attention. Not to mention, that if I am chilly enough to need a cardigan, I'm pretty sure I'd want my belly and lower back warm too!

The pattern says it is a little cropped. I knew I was a little long-waisted, but apparently I am more so than I thought. (Or maybe I should recheck my blocking measurements? It wouldn't be the first time I had mismeasured. Twice.)

So I'm giving serious thought to adding some length, somehow. I'm pretty sure I have enough yarn. Would it work for me just to pick up some stitches along the cast on edge, and then knit down from there? One possibility would be to do a garter stitch border (like the button band). Another option is to do an entire pattern repeat of the lace inset (sticking with stockinette for the back), which I would of course have to do in reverse since this would be upside down. Thoughts?

Okay, okay, enough verbiage. Without further ado, here are some pictures. First, a couple of things I really love about the sweater.

the buttons

the lace bell sleeves

And now some shots of the sweater in action. I apologize for the sucky pictures. I should probably have waited until I got just the right shots before posting anything. But I've already tried twice, and one time involved interrupting My Old Man's dishwashing efforts (to no avail - the pics didn't look so great). So I finally just took some myself, in the mirror. Which I now see needs desperately to be cleaned.

See the white t-shirt hanging out?
I know this is a popular look for some people.
I am not one of those people.
But aren't those sleeves just yummy?

And if I raise my arms, it is really, really cropped!
But still, the color is fabulous.
I think I could be very happy with this super-warm, super-snuggly sweater.
If it had about four more inches.

Thanks for all the great comments on my Socktoberfest socks. I'm almost done with the pair and will post pics soon. I would've been done by now if I hadn't suddenly gotten sucked into a completely different project - the Men's Zippered Raglan from LMKG. Cast on Sunday, and it is going to be sooooo yummy.

And stay tuned for a pic of my very first homespun yarn. No, not spun by me! I do not spin, and I doubt I ever will. But Julie does and she does a gorgeous job. I donated to her wheel fund and got a skein of thank-you yarn for my little contribution. And her wheel is on its way! Her innovative Wheel Fund project, and the way people have participated, and the beautiful yarn she has spun to say thank you, reminds me again of how much I love blogland! Mwah to all of you!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Heels, Toes, and Short Rows

First let me say that I am thrilled with this color combination. The Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in Tuscany is just a gorgeous colorway, and I love, love, love it. The deep chocolate brown is also simply beautiful. They go together really well, in my estimation, even though there isn't really any chocolate brown in the Tuscany variegations.

So in my last post about these socks, I mentioned that I was going to do the cuff and toe in the brown. Rachel commented that I might even want to do a short row heel in the brown as well. I was in love with the idea, whose incarnations I have already drooled over here and here (next-to-last pic). The problem? I had never done a short row heel.

Of course that meant I simply had to try it. I love a challenge - and any excuse to cruise knitting-related blogs and websites. After much reading and looking at pics (and KH videos), I proceeded, specifically following these instructions, though in retrospect I think I could've done without the double wraps (which were a pain!).

Like most novice short rowers, I've had problems.

a hole here

a bump on this side

The thing is, I'm done with this first sock now and I really, really don't want to do it over. So I'm going to try to mend the hole and do something about the bump. But is it possible to correct my problems in the second sock without them looking mismatched? I'm thinking of trying a Sherman heel, and I wonder how different it might look from a regular short row one.

Of course the heel isn't my only problem. I didn't do a short row toe, but my usual wedge one. Which meant I had my usual &*$% kitchener problems.

See that little gap at the very tip of the toe?

What the heck am I doing wrong? No matter how many times I watch the KH kitchener video, or look at pics and instructions, or chant to myself "knit, off, purl; purl, off, knit" I still find away to muck up the seam.

Still, I am so into this yarn and this color combo that I am overall happy with the sock. Even My Old Man, not usually one to comment on a WIP (unless I'm holding it right in his face demanding an opinion), told me it was cute. I'm going to have to order some more of this yarn, because now I seriously want a pair myself. I'm thinking toe-up next time. You know, because I love a challenge. And a way to avoid the kitchener!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Friday, October 06, 2006


It's not that I don't have enough WIPs. It is just that I love fall, and especially October, and so I couldn't help but be a sucker for the name of the KAL: Socktoberfest! Not to mention that I've had a few pairs of socks on my to-knit list for awhile. So I'm in. I'll be using this opportunity to knit some fall-colored socks.

First up will be a pair of socks for my friend T. I promised her last spring I'd make her a pair. I'll be seeing her in Italy next month and I want to either give them to her then, or have mailed them to her before we both leave. I'm doing the cuff and toe in Lorna's Laces in Chocolate, and the rest of the sock in Lorna's Laces in Tuscany (fitting, no?). I love, love, love both these colorways.

that's the Chocolate cuff and the start of the Tuscany

a little closer

Lolly has posted a little Socktoberfest questionnaire for participants. So, here it is.
When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?
My first pair of socks were in February of this year - they were my Knitting Olympics project. I had no idea how quickly they would go, and I finished them well ahead of schedule. I used Knitting Pure and Simple's Basic Women's Socks Pattern, and just followed the directions. Is that teaching myself? I think I probably referred to Silver's Sock Tutorial to make sure I was doing it right.

What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time?
My first pair was a basic, worsted weight, stockinette women's sock, done in Malabrigo (my first Malabrigo, in Indigo). They were a birthday gift for our administrative assistant, so I have no idea if they have "held up." I do know now that I probably shouldn't give non-knitters handwashable socks. It just seems a little cruel.

What would you have done differently?
See above. The whole handwashable versus machine-washable thing is something I've always struggled with when it comes to gifts. But ever since I fell in love with Lorna's Laces, the question is settled, at least when it comes to socks. As long as I'm willing to give someone an expensive pair of socks!

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?
Lorna's Laces. My favorite yarn for socks. Actually, it would probably be one of my favorite yarns for just about anything, but I have only ever used it for socks.

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?
Eh? Crochet socks? I can't even really get my mind around that idea. In terms of how I knit them, I'm pretty basic. I do my socks on dpns. Have never crocheted them, done them on 2 circs, or tried Magic Loop.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)
I've only ever done a flap, so for now that's what I prefer. Again, I'm kind of basic when it comes to socks.

How many pairs have you made?
I have made 4 1/2 pairs. The 1/2 is the ugly orange sock that I so far can't bear to make a match for. In addition to my first pair in Malabrigo, I've done a pair for my dad in Cashmerino, a pair for my galpal CJ in Lorna's Laces, and a lacey pair for myself in Louet's Pearl. I also started a pair of fall socks for myself in Lorna's Laces (chocolate - mmmm), but I frogged three different times after not being completely satisfied with the look (was trying different things each time). I'm currently using a little of the chocolate Lorna's Laces for T's fall socks (above).

In Non-Socktoberfest news, here's what's up:
  • Turns out that even though my Mac won't recognize my printer for printing purposes, it does recognize it for uploading pics. Hence, the pics in this post.
  • I finished my second pair of Felted Clogs. No pics because, frankly, once you've seen one pair of basic felted clogs, you've sort of seen them all.
  • Neither of my boys has any interest in either pair of felted clogs.
  • I've forced myself to start seaming the cardigan. I've got the sides done and one sleeve. Yup, it's gonna be too tight. And too short, too (though it's supposed to be, but it's just not my best look). I'm really aggravated that I've spent so much time on something that isn't going to work out.
  • I've learned not to eat chicken that's been in the refrigerator for a week. I learned that on the hard way.
Today is a perfect October day. So I'm heading out now with My Old Man and the boys to a local cider mill for cider and doughnuts, an afternoon in the autumn sun, some time for the boys to kick around in the leaves, and, I hope, a few fall pictures. I hope wherever you are, the October sun in shining and you have time to enjoy it, too!