Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Four Es

E is for eyes on the prizes. On Mardi Gras it seems appropriate to show off the prizesABC-Along I Prizes for the ABC-Along I Contest: two skeins of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in colorway Iris Garden for first place and an I-cord maker for two runners-up. Click on the photo for a closer view. (Sorry, chères, the Mardi Gras beads are not included. And at risk of sounding exclusionary, ABC-Alongers should expect to receive contest details from Anne via email.) This Mardi Gras, it also seems appropriate to think about New Orleans and the brutal contrasts between happy or, this year, perhaps even self-righteous revellers and the unalleviated desperation and ruins in other parts of the Big Easy.

E is for easily amused. Yarn snobs may sneer, but it doesn't take much to make me happy. During the Knitting Olympics I collected a fistful of coupons for the numerous chain stores roundabout Exit 151 and used them to buy Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky in colorway Tinsel White ("snow white with a touch of icy white glitter").

40% off coupons   Wool-Ease Chunky

The plan is to make Vladimir Teriokhin's Cropped Cabled Cardigan in Vogue Knitting Fall 2005 to wear while night riding. White is an excellent safety color at night and I figure the strand of glitter will reflect car headlights. I spent under $20 on yarn, so can splurge on some 3M Scotchlite reflective piping for additional visibility.

E is for effort. Having ridden in events with special athletes and para-athletes, I think the "Do or do not – there is no try" philosophy is rather misguided. It seems to me that not trying because of fear or apathy often can be a thornier failure than not succeeding.

And E is for elastic. I prefer yarn with a bit of sproing, but do have a small spool of knitting elastic, just in case.

See the rest of my ABCs.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Church of the Improv is 125

Today is the 125th anniversary of the formation of Church of the Improv. Church records indicate that 125 years ago,125th anniversary logo five men met and covenanted to form a Christian union church. There's no mention of any women, but I assume their wives made them do it – the first thing that was started was the Sunday school. On the early rolls, women were listed as "Mrs. John Alden"; these days married women speak for themselves and are as likely to be known as "Ms. Priscilla Mullins" as not. And these days all are welcome in the full life and leadership of the church.

A full year of anniversary events is planned; for this inaugural weekend, the guest speaker and preacher is Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro, General Secretary of the World YWCA. This morning, she spoke about her international travels and the pervasiveness of fear; the global impact of HIV infection; the interconnectedness of poverty and wealth and how, curiously, only poverty receives study and theologizing; the need for environmental stewardship; and reasons – lots of reasons – for hope. Then we had an excellent church supper (which was punctuated by the observation that our waiter was wearing Davidoff Cool Water and smelled great).

The global perspective is a marvelous corrective to American parochialism and the tendency for media sensationalism. Now I have much fodder for thought, not least what a post-9/11 church looks like in a post-9/11 world. I never used to think much of the Christmas carol "O Little Town of Bethlehem," but the line, "The hopes and fears of all the years" is in my head tonight. James Forbes preached on the topic some years ago; I know I've got the sermon somewhere [sounds of rummaging].

As for knitting, I quietly knit away on DH's cable vest during the talk. Afterward, some of the men present (including some of the generation that supposedly doesn't notice anything) mentioned to me how much they appreciated handknit gifts they had received. Wow. It's all interconnected – little loops in a string make a sweater. A handknit gift today is a cherished memory decades later. A butterfly flaps its wings roundabout Exit 151 and a wind is felt in Nairobi and Geneva and Porto Alegre.

I'm really looking forward to the sermon tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

KO Progress

DH's Knitting Olympics cabled vest sweater is moving along. Progress is slow, but uneventful, and results are knock-out handsome, if I say so myself. It's a KO KO.

Cabled vest sweater back

Rowan Cashsoft 4 Ply has such a soft hand that a luxuriously relaxed six-stitch cable crossed every eighth row seemed more suitable than the perky little four-by-four cables in the preliminary swatches. The cable panels are separated by five-stitch panels of moss stitch, which is also used to accommodate the increases under the arms from waist to chest. From a distance the fabric sometimes looks like a series of wishbones with one stockinette leg and one moss stitch leg.

Here's a closer look. As usual, my digicam is doing weird things to the colors. The photography towel background is sage green and the true color of the sweater is somewhere between the washed out gray of the first picture and the dark gray of the second.

Cabled vest sweater detail

The pattern quickly became familiar enough to be almost mindless, which is good, because I'm still figuring out the shaping of the shoulders and V-neck. I want full fashioned shoulders and some snazzy decreases at the point of the V-neck ribbing and haven't quite worked out how to do that.

Meanwhile, emboldened by the progress on his vest, DH let it be known that he really wanted a cardigan with cables and pockets. Hm... sounds like a two-bagger to me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Home Sweet Home

Generous Cindy sent not one, but two sets of Unloved Sock Yarn, the Socka twins and the Regia twins, and a note, which arrived today. Thank you, Cindy! As you can see, the formerly unloved sock yarns are settling into their new home.

Unloved sock yarn

The Socka twins play well with others and may become a Fair Isle project. Here they are with their new friends Koigu and little Habu. They're posed on the same towel background as last time, by the way. The colors of the yarn are truer here, but (oddly) the towel background color is truer in the first photo.

Socka twins make new friends

The Regia twins kept to themselves initially, but have begun to tag along after DH's cabled vest.

Regia twins tag along

Home, sweet, home. With thanks to Beth for organizing this brilliant swap.

Monday, February 13, 2006

International Scarf of Mystery

Happy Valentine's Day to all and especially to my International Scarf Exchange pal! Love is in the air, even for the WeatherPixie (thanks, Tamsin)!

As promised, here's more on the Print O' the Wave scarf, knit in JaggerSpun Zephyr (50% wool, 50% silk). The silk content is a delight to hand and eye, but its singular luster played all sorts of tricks on my digicam. This image comes closest to capturing its elusive color, a rich peacock green.

Print O' the Wave scarf detail

My pal expressed a fondness for certain colors; her self-description reminded me of the heroine of Da Vinci Code. Like clever Sophie, she too has crossed the Channel (en français, la Manche). Her journey suggested the traditional Shetland lace pattern Print O' the Wave and the left and right Ocean Wave edgings with their graceful cresting wave shapes and zigzag trellis, all charted in the magnificent book Heirloom Knitting.

Before blocking, the scarf was 66 inches (167 cm) long. Stretched on blocking wires, it pinned out to 80 inches (203 cm), as seen here in my hallway with a familiar object for scale. This photo also demonstrates the limits of my digicam's depth of focus (and, yes, your photographer is prone on the carpet).

Scarf blocking

The same subject, different perspective (your photographer is standing on a chair).

Three-quarters view of scarf

And the scarf ready for mailing.

Scarf ready for mailing

I considered a Meg Swanson style photo, but will leave that for the recipient. Enjoy your scarf, my pal – wear it in good health and with my good wishes! And many thanks to adventurous Celia and (self-described) impatient Cynthia for organizing a wicked good exchange!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Three Ds

D is for digging out.D is for digging out On Saturday and Sunday a winter storm dumped 14 to 18 inches (35.5 to 45.7 cm) of snow roundabout Exit 151 – perhaps twice that in drifts – and I've been shoveling ever since. I usually dig out the driveway, the sidewalks, the fire hydrant, my evergreen shrubs, and the path to a neighbor who doesn't have sidewalks (pictured with a yellow yardstick for scale). Then I put out birdseed and a dish of water, because snow cover makes finding food and especially drink more difficult. Speaking of which...

D is for diner. New Jersey is dotted with these mid-century style eating establishments, many family owned and operated. They do very well against the big chain franchises. This year my bicycle club has given the diner pride of place on its annual jersey, with the strenuous exhortation motto, "Eat to Ride! Ride to Eat!" (Dang. Who plastered the club logo on the butt? As if spandex bike shorts aren't sufficiently embarrassing.) While many diners cater to auto traffic and ignore peds and bicyclists, the Broadway Diner in Bayonne ("World's Best Pancakes") and the legendary Runcible Spoon in Nyack, NY are two famed bicycle-friendly places.

And D is for dog hair. DH gave me Knitting with Dog Hair and one of these days.... I've got to learn to handspin first, though.

(See the rest of my ABCs.)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Flame On

Roundabout Exit 151 the week just past has sometimes felt as if the proverbial candle has had afterburners on at both ends. It's Fashion Week in NYC, the Olympic cauldron in Torino is lit, and both Sockapaloooza and the Knitting Olympics have begun in earnest. Fashion! Passion!! Exclamation points!!! If that weren't enough, week's end has brought some timely cheer and the first big winter storm of the new year.

Just ahead of the storm came a pretty hearts-and-flowers package all tied with gossamer ribbon from my SP7 pal. Thank you, Secret Pal! Such faultless taste and timing – even if we get the predicted gi-normous snowfall, I'm very well provided for.

SP7 goodies

Inside the box: Valentine's Pez, Fiber Trends Fuchsia Lace Scarves pattern, three skeins of Rowan Wool Cotton (colorway 951 Tender), a lovely note, and three fancy stitch markers. This is perfect! I've been coveting Elspeth from Rowan 37. DH has appropriated the Pez [sounds of contented clicking of dispenser in background].

DH has other reasons to be contented: while watching Olympics coverage last night I cast on not one, not two, but three swatches for his cabled vest. From left to right they are Rowan 4 Ply Soft, colorway 384 Smoky Joe; Cashsoft 4 Ply, colorway 437 Thunder; and Felted Tweed, colorway 132 Charcoal.

Cabled vest swatches

After close examination, DH decided on the Cashsoft. He actually prefers the springy hand and excellent stitch definition of the 4 Ply Soft, but disliked its lead blue cast. He also likes the rich color and soft fuzzy hand of the Felted Tweed, but noticed it's better as a stockinette fabric than as cables. The ideal yarn for the project would be something springy yet fuzzy, in a true gray... the Cashsoft isn't fuzzy enough, but it's sufficiently close to the ideal. So that's decided.

Someone at The Stitching Bee (Exit 142) tried to convince me that husbands don't notice such things. By contrast, the SnB at Modern Yarn (Exit 148) recommended threatening DH with a "mancho" if he fussed too much. Maybe it's a generational thing. Anyway, Googling turned up this horror one, which is lead gray to boot. Happily for domestic bliss and tranquility roundabout Exit 151, such drastic measures were not required.

Another big decision: initials. The vest will have DH's initials knit in somewhere. So handy, you know, in case someone else at the gym club has a vest just like it. More swatches coming soon.

I wonder if other Olympic knitters are actually watching the Olympics. I've been watching coverage of Fashion Week for Fall 2006 on NYC TV Channel 25. The event itself is over, but (wonderful to relate) the City of New York has its own TV station, which obligingly is broadcasting runway shows, behind-the-scenes interviews with designers, editorial commentary, and after parties. Many designers are showing elegant three-quarter length sleeves. Hm... surely that means lots of lovely long gloves and gauntlets and mitts.

From fashion update to weather update: the snow is falling thick and fast now, but earlier I did manage to get to the Post Office to send this to my International Scarf Exchange pal. It's actually green, but my digicam can't seem to capture that.

Print O' the Wave scarf

More after snow shoveling tomorrow. A full day is planned at Church of the Improv, including installation of the associate minister, but I have a feeling attendance may be slim.

Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Going for the Gold

Tuesday is knit-along day for Sockapaloooza – the first updates are up! The early starters show a remarkable amount of activity considering the amount of cake and other distractions mentioned. Slacker that I am, I've contacted my sock pal, but haven't picked yarn or a pattern yet. Still others are waiting for the Olympics to be over before starting.

Speaking of which, my LYS, MY, is offering a special inducement to Knitting Olympics finishers: 15% off one's next purchase. A gold medal? Eh. A nice discount? Now that gets my attention – I'm going for the gold.

My Olympic project is a cabled vest for DH, pattern of my own improvising, in Rowan Felted Tweed in discontinued colorway 132 Charcoal. I was saving it for a Weasley for myself, but DH noticed it during stash inventory, petted, and found it good. Then he made big eyes at me. Argh. I never can resist his big eyes.

The design process is reminiscent of the beginning of the old Mission: Impossible TV show – DH looked at many patterns, rejected most, and mumbled, "Hey, isn't that Kaffe?" (also a young Roger Moore).

Olympic design process

While there's emerging clarity about what is not wanted, there's still considerable vagueness about certain features, so I expect to be tweaking the design and swatching madly between now and Friday, 2 p.m. EST.

Saturday, February 4, 2006

The Socks Go On

Greetings from New Jersey, USA! For reasons unknown, this post keeps vanishing from Blogspot. I've re-posted several times (which I imagine is messing up the feed – sorry about that). Whatever. The socks go on.

Sockapalooozers may have noticed that Sockapaloooza participants are listed on Alison's blog in alphabetical order. I have the honor of being the sock sister to the numerous and talented Mar- to Pix- tribe. Here is the Mar-Pix roll:

MelissaMelissa (blogless)
Meredith (blogless)   Meriah
Michelle (blogless)Michelle
Mindy (blogless)Mindy
Molly (blogless)Molly Phariss
Munna (blogless)Nanc
Naturalfibres (blogless)Neva
NeysaNic (blogless)
OpportunityknitsPam (blogless)
Pam-M. (blogless)Pansar
Parikha Patrice (blogless)
PattiPatty (blogless)
Peggy (blogless)Penny (blogless)
Phyliss (blogless)PinkHebe

Each Sockapaloooza participant has a secret sock pal you are knitting for, a secret pal knitting for you, and a sock sister. By now everyone listed here should have received an email from Alison with information on the sock pal you are knitting for and an email from me with information on updates.

Amazing to relate, some of the Mar-Pix tribe already have updates! Sockapalooozers rock – the socks go on!


Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Sockapaloooza Begins!

Greetings, Sockapalooozers! Today is a triple red-letter day, an exclamation point day.


Pholph's Scrabble Generator   My Scrabble© Score is: 40.   What is your score? Get it here.

Today is the day true blue Alison and her tech guys are sending out the match ups for the 600+ participants in Sockapaloooza. Hooray for the tech guys! I have no idea how long it takes to prepare and send out 600+ individual secret sock pal email messages. I just hope the tech guys are well provided with Tech Guy socks (wink, wink).

Every Sockapaloooza participant has a secret pal to knit for, a secret pal knitting for them, and a sock sister. I'm excited and honored that Alison recruited me to serve as a sock sister to a small corner of the vast Sockapaloooza universe.

Sock sisters collect updates on sock progress, which are posted every Tuesday on the Sockapaloooza blog. Much of the fun of this knit-along is getting to watch socks-in-progress and receiving comments from other Sockapalooozers, so do feel free to report often on your own progress and to comment generously on the progress of others.

When the corrected list of participants is ready, I'm going to send an email to all my sock little sisters and brothers. In the meantime, if you signed up for Sockapaloooza and think I'm your sock big sister but have an uneasy feeling something in Sockapalooozaland is not quite right, never fear! Contact me at jerseyknitter [at] gmail [dot] com and we'll try to set things right.

Have you waited and waited and waited for this day? Are you ready to make some feet happy? The wait is over! Get to know your pal a bit, then let's get sockin'! Sockapaloooza begins!