Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Proverbial Old Wineskin

One of my favorite pairs of socks, Juta's Stockings by Nancy Bush, suffered a double blowout at the heels. Sadness!

Juta with double blowout

I considered darning the holes or possibly knitting over them, but realized the yarn at the heels had become like the proverbial old wineskin, so worn that the stress of patching would only cause further damage. So I started a new pair, this time in black.

New Juta in progress

Black is the new purple!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Les Belles Chaussettes sans Merci

After returning from MDS&W and while still thinking lovely warped thoughts, I decided to inspect the contents of the sock drawer to search out and forestall any activity by the dreaded müth. Preoccupied though I was in this worthy endeavor, methought I heard a faint cry, "Les Belles Chaussettes sans Merci hath thee in thrall!" It was very faint, and my first impulse was denial. It couldn't possibly be true, because I'm a ploddingly slow, easily distracted process knitter. But I couldn't deny my own knitting. Yep, those are my socks.

Les Belles Chaussettes sans Merci

That's 41 mid-calf socks in the outer ring, 19 shortie socks in the inner ring. Some are pre-Ravelryites. Some are even Before Blog. The photo doesn't include three pairs of socks I got in swaps, Skew (which somehow is always somewhere else at class photo time), seven Socks of Shame, and uncounted numbers of other wips.

The newest addition to the outer ring of Les Belles Chaussettes sans Merci is a lovely Sock Madness pattern, Longing for Spring by Caoua Coffee, worked in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, colorway Clara's Garden. Pictured with spring violets because the erudite designer references Mozart and violets.

Longing for Spring, modeled with spring violets

Although I was knocked out of Sock Madness competition, I knit the socks to a regulation 80 rounds on the foot and more-than-regulation 70 rounds on the leg. I usually have difficulty fitting toe-up socks on my Frankenfeet, particularly at the heel – this one is a tad loose everywhere except the heel, a perfect length on the foot, and short in the leg. Other Madness knitters found it knit up roomier than expected. The toe and heel turn are new-to-me constructions. Were I to knit this charming sock again, I'd consider knitting a half-size smaller, keeping the toe, and substituting a different heel.

Considering Les Belles Chaussettes sans Merci et al. en masse, it seems like a lot of socks. Not too many – never, there's still so much to learn and try! – but perhaps with such numbers I can afford to spend some energy elsewhere. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to have a new hobby after all.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

April, Then Summer

What became of spring? Apparently I blinked, missed it, and now it feels like summer.

Last winter's unseasonable cold made the cherry blossoms in Branch Brook Park start blooming late, then the sudden unseasonable spring heat made them burst and fall in record time. Ah well, some years are like that – the flowers were still pretty the brief time they lasted. These almost-twin trees are among my favorites (note the photographers are bundled up – the photo was taken before it got hot).

Branch Brook Park twin trees

As always, DH and I paused to remember old fallen favorites. I marvel at how resilient the trees and their blossoms can be, and also how fragile and fleeting.

Fallen cherry tree

Although the cherry blossoms in Branch Brook Park can't hope to rival the formality of those in Washington nor the cherry blossom festival match its scope, there was a fun surprise in Cherryblossomland – paddle boats, including exactly one swan boat. Alas, the line was too long for me to try one, swan or non-swan. Next year!

Paddle boats, swan and non-swan

Galloping along (as the season is doing), this past weekend the heat made MDS&W too hot for handknits, at least for me. Others may have gamely or grimly (or perhaps even grimily) worn theirs; I didn't think to bring my linen Christiana headband and so wore last year's T-shirt unadorned. It would have been handy.

Linen Christiana headband

It was so hot I staggered from booth to booth collecting only the most essential items on my shopping list: a heddle hook to replace the one that unaccountably vanished, bringing all weaving activity to a screeching halt; a book on making clothes from SAORI handwoven frabrics, some Into the Whirled roving for later (= Tour de Fleece); and a T-shirt. The tee is a shockingly bright pink, a good visibility color for bicycling. I wanted a sky blue one, on which the sheep looks like a cloud, but my size was sold out on Friday. How can this be?

Only essentials

I'm particularly pleased to have the book as I hope to become sufficiently proficient to weave cloth suitable for making garments, SAORI-style or otherwise. The two gift shawls I've woven so far were well-received, albeit with the humorously blunt critique I need to get a wider loom. The shawls are the full width of my 15-inch Cricket, admittedly narrow, which is unacceptably inadequate to the demanding discerning critic. Talk about heat! Uh, right... I just got the loom, I'm still learning on it, I don't need another so soon – indeed, I don't actually need another hobby. The rabbit hole beckons again.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Soap Opera

It was with some trepidation that I washed my Cable Madness socks, having heard that SweetGeorgia yarn is prone to bleeding, particularly the reds. So I washed the pair in my nonreactive dyepot, and was prepared to follow with a vinegar rinse.

Washing Cable Madness socks

But when the suds parted, all was well. The wash water was clear.

Clear wash water

It was one small drama of laundry day.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Peak Bloom DC

Last week while I was attending to busyness in Washington the Tidal Basin cherry blossoms popped, literally. On Wednesday there were twigs with a faint pinky haze. On Sunday it was peak bloom. Just like that. I wish I had had the time to take the guided nighttime Lantern Walk around the Tidal Basin. I'm told in rare, magical years like this one you can see the flowers unfurl in the course of a half-hour. I also wish I had time to do this:

Paddle boat and texting

Erm, no, I don't mean ignore natural beauty to send a text message, I mean rent a Tidal Basin Paddle Boat and paddle around the Tidal Basin during cherry blossom season. At least I was able to walk around the Tidal Basin on Sunday. Along the way the FDR Memorial provided a nice reminder about the privileges of ableism. The statue of the four-term president looked a bit lonely...

FDR without sock

... so I had DH place my current sock, Longing for Spring by Caoua Coffee, on his shoulder. A little pink sock makes 'most anything better. This is the Round 3 pattern for Sock Madness. Having been eliminated (and also traveling), I was going to take a break, but how could anyone resist such an adorable toe-up pattern? Not I!

FDR with sock

Although waving the freak sock flag caused another photographer to blare, "Get away from the statue so I can take my picture!" I'm inclined to tell jerks to wait their turn, but DH prefers to let karma do its work, so he stepped away, she snapped her pic and flounced, and we laughed and resumed having a good time. Seriously, there were so many lovely shots to be had, why fuss over one with bad light?

Paddle boat and Jefferson Memorial

Yes, I really must try to do this someday. Meanwhile, I'm keeping an eye on the Branch Brook Park cherry blossom cam. Stay tuned for Peak Bloom NJ!