Friday, November 30, 2007

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

socks, slippers and mittens needed, especially mittens

Thanks to a heads up on Kmkat's blog, I learned about a very worthy project that is in great need of hand knitted gifts for elementary school in Oklahoma. A very caring teacher, Rachel, is trying to make sure that every child recieves hand knit gifts this holiday season. There is more information (and links to patterns) at the Soaring Eagles Blog. If you can help, let Rachel know so she can keep her tally of what is still needed. The email address is on the blog.

This is a school where almost all of the students are below poverty level, and as you can imagine, many of the families are pretty messed up. Those kids need gifts, and they need to know that someone cares about them. If you can be that someone, please let Rachel know. The deadline for her to recieve items is Dec. 17.

I've just cast on for a pair of mittens.

Graphic blatently taken from Kmkat, I know she won't mind

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Evaluation Time

I've finished the first incarnation of the Checkmate socks, so it's time for evaluation.

Overall I like the look, but they are just a leeetle bit loose at the top, and a leeetle bit shorter than I like for myself, at least for winter socks. If they were longer, they would fit more closely at the top, because they would hit a wider part of my calf.
I worked a bit slackly on the top checkers, out of concern that the slip stitchs might pull in too tightly. I think I overcompensated. They aren't bad, they're just not perfect.

I do like the way the toes came out.


Hooray for friends of libraries. (and thanks to everyone who commented.) This pic was taken just outside the back door, right near the spot I park in

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Library

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, it's off to work I go; in a couple of hours, anyway. Monday evenings, Thursday afternoons and Saturday mornings you will find me here.

This is Command Central a/k/a the circulation desk. It's where I check in books, check out books, look up items in the inter-library catalog, add and delete items to the database/catalog for our individual location, unpack the inter-library tubs and call people to let them know their requests have arrived.... Also chat with patrons (which is one of the best parts of the job), and occasionally answer questions about knitting. (It's a small town, word gets out. If I were good at plumbing, they would be asking about that). Looking out I can see

The children's area (there are larger shelves of books to the left) and

the general collection. This is where I shelve materials, retrieve materials for local patrons, or to go out to other libraries. Sometimes I dust if things are slow, but that doesn't happen too often.

In the back is a small reading area. Behind me are a couple of large wooden tables with chairs. This area is also used for Village Board meetings, and is available to the community (I used it to teach knitting classes for a 4-H group, and on a completely different occasion got extremely testy with a couple of state legislators who were doing a presentation I thought was hogwash.)

Looking from the reading area towards the circulation desk you can see the computers (there are 4), paperback racks and magazines. (I didn't take pictures of the copy or fax machines.)

For two of my three weekly shifts I'm on my own. On Thursdays, Gretchen (the librarian) and I are there at the same time. That way we can touch base face to face, she can show me how to do new things, and I can cover the desk so she has some time to work on administrative things without interruption.

It's a pretty nice place to hang out.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Today was Last Saturday Knitting, and I was so glad to be able to go. (Missed it the last two months.) Ms Bee was there, with funny stories about Bently, and Mr Bee, and well she's just funny about almost anything.

Elizabeth wore one of her beautiful stranded sweaters, and brought along the scarf avec Drylon. Linda was working a sock with a charted pattern. I couldn't read a chart and talk at the same time to save my life, but she seemed to handle it just fine.

It was a huge treat to meet Dale-Harriet, who is every bit as nice in real life as on her blog. And she brought along her lovely friend Ginny, who is a quilter, embroiderer, beader, book illustrator....

Most memorable quote of the day: "Just because your cat had her kittens in the stove, that doesn't mean they're muffins."

I brought along version two of the checkered socks. This pair (obviously) is going to be longer than the first. Also obviously done in a very different color scheme.

I brought the camera, too, and then promptly forgot to pull it out once the talk got going. But I did stop on the way home for a picture of the moon coming up.

After I got back in the car, I though about how it was probably very stupid to go poking my head up over the edge of a cornfield during deer season. My hat was orange, but rust, not blaze.

It was dark by 5:00. About a mile from home I pulled over to try for another moon shot. Oops, no tripod. And the moon was much too bright (note to self: don't use "fireworks" setting if you aren't shooting fireworks.) So I cropped it out.

This photograpy thing is going to take some practice.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Baxter sez

Eye Candy (?) Friday

This cake is actually kind of scary, but the kids loved it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I know it's almost Thanksgiving because I can hear the guns.

This is rural Wisconsin. It's deer season. So yes, I'm hearing gunshots as I write. (I once worked with a gal whose Thanksgiving dinner for about the past twenty years had always been chili, because the entire family were avid hunters.) I should probably add hunters to my gratitude roster, because anything that tends to keep deer off the roads is helpful to me (if not to the deer).

Seriously, whatever shape your dinner takes, and whoever you share it with, I hope your Thanksgiving finds you with blessings to be grateful for.

On my "thankful for" list this year I've got
  • tulips

  • anything that can make me laugh

  • unexpected kindnesses from friends and strangers

  • Donna's jazz club in New Orleans

  • everyone who volunteers in any way to make the world a better place

  • freedom to dissent

  • Frieda Kahlo

  • and always, most of all, Mr S and the Girl I Am So Proud Of

This is only partial, feel free to add (whether here or just in your own heart). And have a happy Turkey Day.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Almost done

Just a few rows of the second toe to go (and weave in ends). I'm thinking I might like to do this pair again in a knee sock length.

Molly Bees had blamed the lack of clarity in the last picture on her monitor. Nah, it was a combination of low light and a shaky hand on the part of the photographer. And probably the fact that I have no zoom, so I shoot from a distance, and the cropping sometimes blurs things.

I've sucked it up and ordered a new camera. It probably won't get here until sometime in December, but I have high hopes for it. Optical zoom, image stabilization. It will probably take me months to figure it out, but I'm excited. (Ravelry was helpful here, too. One of the forum threads had lots of good information.)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ravelry so far,

so good. I'm liking the place. Some disorganized reflections:

  • It's fun to see what the crocheters are doing. I've never visited crochet sites, only knitting ones, so this is a whole new world. I'm glad Ravelry is mixing the two up in the pattern and project thumbnails. People are doing some cool stuff.
  • The help type people have been very helpful - when I mess things up, they either tell me how to fix it, or get it fixed, really fast. (Hopefully, I will take up less of their time going forward.)
  • I haven't made too many messes, because the whole thing is pretty easy.
  • I really like being able to look up a yarn when I'm posting a project and have the specs fill in like magic
  • I also like to look up pattern names to see if they have already been taken
  • Lot's of good serendipity potential. I went to the profile of one of the nice people who helped me, and she had lovely stranded knitting. I went to a random group and read forum posts. I looked up projects for a yarn in the stash, and linked to the profiles of a couple of people.... (is a pattern emerging?) It's all great fun and inspirational and frequently informative.

On the downside:

  • As I expected, it has great potential for procrastination enabling (see last point above)
  • I am frustrated that some of my favorite books aren't available to put on my bookshelves (pout)
  • Hmmm, that's about all I've found for downside

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Yarn and I Have Been in Negotiation

First it informed me that it was fingering, not sport, thank you very much. (Sorry, I said we hadn't seen each other in a while.)

Then it let me know that any edging involving faggoting with double yarn overs was out of the question. "Might be OK for cotton," it sniffed, "but, I'm not going there. Not unless you want something that looks like the bars on a jail cell window"

I proposed trying diamonds. The yarn is thinking it over. It's not exactly crazy about the first version I offered, but it's willing to consider alternatives.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

This yarn wants to be ....

I have some nice sport weight alpaca that's been lounging around in the stash for months, trying to decide what it wants to be. Today it made up it's mind. It's going to be mitts. Hand warmers. Fingerless gloves. Whatever.

The weather has turned nippy, the wind is keen, it's dark by five. I need some cozy. So I admit, I gave the yarn a nudge.
The old mitts I've been wearing for three years are still functional, the thrill has gone out of the relationship. Same old thing every day, all winter long. Besides, they've never been quite as long as I would like.
So the plan is this: I'll do another set of garter stitch rectangles, but wider, and this time I'll knit in an edging. If the stash yarn cooperates, I might even make a headband to match.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Socks, Pie and Literature

Molly Bees asked about the pattern stitch at the top of the funny shaped socks. It's a slip stitch pattern I came up with while noodling around with the needles. I'm sure it already exists in a stitch dictionary or two, I just haven't searched for it. It is very easy to work (only one yarn in your hand at a time), and I'll be getting the sock pattern written up eventually. And by the way, on her other blog, Ms Bees has posted a recipe for Cranberry Pie that she swears is to die for.


Here's a still not quite perfect picture of the Elann Esprit sock washed and quietly drying. I usually machine wash and dry socks made with this yarn. They shrink up and then stretch out just fine for wearing. But for picture purposes I decided to conscientiously hand wash.

While I was working on the second sock, I happened to turn the cuff down. Surprise! the pattern looks cute from that side, too. So come spring I may just wear them anklet style. (Though it does seem odd to work a cable pattern and then hide the cables.)


I'm still plugging away at Portrait of a Lady. I just couldn't engage with Isabel Archer for the first half of the book (or understand exactly what it was about her that would have both an English Lord and an American industrialist desperate to win her hand). But she's starting to get more interesting now that she's unhappily married, so I'll stick it through to the end.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Yes, the shape of that sock looks strange

But only because the slip stitch ribbing pulls in so very nicely. In action, it will be a good snug, but not tight, fit. At least that's the plan.

I'm working with a stash yarn called Sisu from Sandnesgarn. Fingering weight 80 % wool and 20 % nylon. Nice elasticity, a bit loftier than some. More loosely spun than the Lorna's, and as a result I've split a few more stitches than usual. But I like it. The thing that appealed to me was the relatively wide range of solid colors. I adore using self patterning/hand painted sock yarns. But sometimes a girl likes to make her own color and pattern choices. I bought this online a couple of years ago from a company in Canada whose name I can no longer remember. A quick Goggle search doesn't turn up a lot of suppliers, and most don't carry the full color range. But it looks as though perhaps Bea Ellis Knitwear does. (No affiliation, no experience ordering, just passing along the results of my search).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Grasshopper, not Ant

Well, I finally got the last of the tulip bulbs in on Saturday afternoon. The first bunch went in about a month ago, when the days were still warm and I felt that I had lots of time even though it was October already. Funny how fast it got to be November. Scraping frost off the back window of the car on Friday I realized the ground is going to be frozen soon. So I got that last bunch in. Took longer to clear away the grass that had crept into the beds than to actually plant (we're not talking hundreds of bulbs here, just about a dozen). In the process, I inadvertently dug up some crocus from past years. Endearingly, they were already putting out roots. I tucked them back in and hoped for the best.


The socks in Elann Esprit are done, (though I haven't been able to get a picture that's entirely to my liking yet.) So at least in that area I have managed to work ahead - come spring I'll have new socks to wear among the tulips.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Hubba Hubba

I'm excited. I've joined the design team at The Garter Belt, "your clean, well-lit source for knitwear." Several of my current patterns will find a new home there, plus a new sock pattern for sale and a little freebie. I'm honored to be joining a great group of designers. Everyone's new patterns will be going up very soon. If you want a preview of the big event, just hop over and sign up for the newsletter: it will have the lowdown on new patterns from all the designers, plus Rebecca Hatcher's fibery article that is very good but I won't say more because you have to sign up to get it (hint,hint, hint).

In the meantime, here's a tiny sneak peek of my new stuff.

Go on, sign up now, it's right here, only takes a minute, and while you're there you can browse the very nice patterns already available. Tell 'em Cindy sent ya.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Sock Maintenace Schedule

Magnusmog asked: "How much after care is there in darning the socks? I've still got my first socks ( ok, sock ) on it' needles and I know that as well as fear of heel turning, one thing that puts me off is the idea of making something only to see it develop holes......"

Well as with so many things, that depends. Everything following is just my experience, so if y'all have additional input or alternate ideas, please chip in.

I get about a year to a year and a half of frequent wear out of socks before they start to go. This includes much walking around the house with no shoes, and a couple of holes happened when I snagged the socks on something.

I find that yarn with some nylon content wears particularly well and tightly plied yarn wears better than loosely plied. A tight gauge also contributes to wear.

Even though my store socks used to wear out first at the toes, I've never had a hand knit pair go there. I attribute this to the store kind being too short. When the size reads "8-10" you know they are under some tension to fit my 10.

I've never had socks wear out at the back of the heel, because I always wear clogs, so there is no rubbing against the back of a shoe. If I did wear them in regular shoes, and had yarn with no nylon, I would probably use woolly nylon to reinforce the heel flap.

The place my socks always go first is under the heel. I am starting to think this is partly because my knitting is a bit looser where I work back and forth for the heel turn. Logic would indicate that I should switch to a smaller needle for that area.

"A stitch in time..." Personally, I find it easier to reinforce a worn area with duplicate stitch/Swiss darning, than to work a woven darn on an actual, gaping hole. So if I'm paying enough attention to catch it in time, that's what I do. If I were very conscientious I would probably reinforce this way as soon as I finished knitting them.

In the case of actual gaping holes, I have been known to resort to applying knitted patches.

All that said, I like wearing hand knit socks so much (and enjoy knitting them so much), that the maintenance issues aren't a big factor for me.

Other tips or insights, anyone?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Ghosts of Socks Past

Actually, these are my old sock blockers, picked up at various garage sales. They clearly date from the days when women* washed their husbands' socks by hand and hung them on the clothesline to dry (there is a handy hanging hook at the top of each). The ones on the left have the added feature of being adjustable in length, though I find in practice that the adjustment thingummies have a tendency to snag the inside of a damp sock being pulled onto it.

They are clearly sized for men's socks. It would be a very tight fit to get anything smaller than a Woman's size 10 onto them. Fortunately (!), I wear a 10. So I have put them to use. It's not as though I feel socks need blocking with every wash. The blockers just speed up the drying time on "hand wash only" numbers. The routine used to be: wash in the sink, put in the salad spinner to remove excess moisture, stretch on the sock blockers and hang to dry.

I say "used to be", because these days I work mostly with superwash yarn. I wear hand knit socks every day. Putting seven pair a week through the routine got to be a drag.

*Yes, it's perfectly possible that men washed and blocked their own socks. I'm betting that the married ones had their wives do it 99.9% of the time. And I'm betting that most women dumped the sock blockers as soon as automatic dryers and synthetic socks became available.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Liking Lorna's Laces

This really is very nice yarn.

It's nice and smooth with a good firm twist and the Sherbet colors are yummy. Generally speaking, I wear rather subdued (dull) colors, but I love hot, bright combinations (think Mexico and India). Socks are where I sometimes indulge that fancy.

What? Launching into a new sock before that green pair is finished? Well, I'm trying to write up my hen-scratch notes into a usable pattern first. Then I can proofread the pattern by knitting the second sock from it. But for me the writing/formatting is slower going than the knitting, so it will be a while.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Baxter E. Neuman

It's kmkat's fault really. She sent me a Lolcat, which linked to the page where you can make your own.

Or you can just go and look at lots of cat pictures. Not that I'm going to spend way too much time doing that, uh uh, not me.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Did I Say Something About a Sock?

Well, yes, yes I did.

This is what I was working on while I was flying. It's made out of Elann "Esprit", that stretchy cotton/Lycra stuff that still kind of makes me want to giggle. Yarn that is boingy - yay! These will be summer socks, so short leg. Plus if I had made the tops more than an inch longer, I wouldn't have been able to squeak a sock out of one ball. Hey, I have big feet.

I've been kind of into diagonals lately. And I wanted to practice my new found "cable without a cable needle" skills.

Still have the second sock ahead of me. Normally I cast on two and switch back and forth between them so as to finish roughly at the same time. But I only took one, on the theory that in case there was any trouble, I did not want the TSA confiscating all my good Crystal Palace dpns.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Knitting Quote of the Day

"...the two for the most part sat silent; the old man with his head back and his eyes closed, his wife occupied with her knitting, and wearing that appearance of extraordinary meditation with which some ladies contemplate the movement of their needles."

- Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

I don't believe I have read any James since high school (Daisy Miller), but I was looking for something to read in the St. Louis airport and this came to hand. It is slow going, but I was caught by the phrase, "that appearance of extraordinary meditation". James was a good observer. He said "some ladies", leading me to infer he was also acquainted with the sort who can stitch away without looking down at all. Alas, I am not one of their number. To be able to read and knit at the same time would be a rare treat. I know it has been done, but my mind is a "one thing at a time" sort of mind.


My yarn stash is never going to appear on Ravelry because it's too many odd balls and bits and bobs strewn about in various locations and I'm just never going to get it lined up for pictures.

But I have been having fun putting my books up, a few at a time. It's so easy: go in, search for a title, click, and a picture of the cover appears on (or at least near) the shelf. Of course, some don't look exactly like my books, because they have the latest editions, and in several cases I don't. And a number of my prize possessions aren't in their data base, at least yet. In a way, it's a little scary seeing what 20 years of collecting adds up to. No wonder that in real life I have books piled on the floor and under the bed.

BTW, my name on Ravelry is baxterknits, what else?


Have I been doing any actual knitting lately? Well, yes, I am working on a sock, but I don't have a picture handy. So here's more New Orleans.