Thursday, August 30, 2007

Almost Potterdämmerung

Just in time for the holiday weekend, my reservation at the public library reached the top of the queue. So I got book, bookscarf, Horcrux socks (it's too warm to wear 'em, but I got 'em), snifs (recommended by Dragon Knitter); there's food in the fridge (family, feed yerselves!); almost all wips have been safely stowed. It's almost time for Potterdämmerung.

Potterdammerung

The wips still in progress are my entry for the Summer of Socks Design Contest. I was plodding along on a conventional design, but after I saw New Pathways for Sock Knitters by Cat Bordhi, I was gobsmacked! I tossed the previous design, emailed the author (who was most gracious and encouraging), and worked up a new entry based on Cedar architecture. That set me back considerably – I'm knitting like a house elf to make the September 1 submission deadline! – but I think it's well worth it.

Design Contest wips

The book (New Pathways, not H-P) is currently backordered at full price on Amazon, although alert LYSs still have stock. As I've said before, it's worth every penny. If the new sock architectures aren't enough value, the book is also chock full of elegant, innovative takes on familiar techniques – just look at this short row heel turn (and Cedar expansion).



The wrap-and-turn and conceal wrap techniques are among several that may be viewed in Cat Bordhi's YouTube videos.

Incidentally, such is the power of sock that a Google Images search on "i am lord voldemort" causes the sock I made during Sockapalooza 2 for Beate to appear! According to my blog stats, the old Sockapal-2-za progress report has become one of my most popular posts. I borrowed that copy of Half-Blood Prince from the public library, too.

Have a great Labor Day weekend – see you on the other side of the veil.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

U.S. Open 2007

Yesterday DH and I took the day off to attend Round 1 of the U.S. Open. It was a glorious day in Flushing Meadows Park.

Unisphere

In the early rounds, match play is continuous and concurrent on the several courts on the grounds. We had "Arthur Ashe" tickets, which reserve an assigned seat in the main stadium, the Arthur Ashe Stadium, and also permit one to wander around and sit in the open seating in other courts. Our reserved seats were semi-nosebleed, which has its advantages for a knitter. Here's the sock with defending men's champion Roger Federer, who romped over qualifier Scoville Jenkins in the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Roger Federer and sock

With a bit of patience and luck, it's quite easy to get unassigned courtside seats. We watched Marion Bartoli, the Wimbledon women's runner-up, cream Alexa Glatch from Row 1 in the Grandstand court. (Alas, no knitting while sitting in front.)

Marion Bartoli

Umbrella boysThe U.S. Open has its traditions. The winner of a match usually hits a few autographed balls into the stands. (Federer whaled his into the upper deck, which impressed mightily.) The courts are infamously hot and noisy, so in addition to alert ball boys and girls, there also are attentive umbrella boys and girls, at least for the players.

US Open swagThere's plenty of souvenirs and prizes and swag for those inclined to collect them. (Me, not as much as some.) The free tennis ball fan came in handy, as did the free radio, which could be tuned to announcements and commentary. There's also live music and even a bookstore full of tennis books.

The Tennis Center is named for sports pioneer Billie Jean King, who exposed "shamateurism" (money under the table), insisted on equal prize money for women, and championed Title IX. The sock posed by a plaque listing her accomplishments.

Billie Jean King plaque and sock

Althea Gibson, who broke the color barrier in tennis, was honored during the evening session. Alas, DH and I only had day tickets, but we did see the marching band (!) lining up as we were leaving.

Marching band

There are many restaurants in the Tennis Center, but having spent the equivalent of a ticket on snacks and hydration alone [eyeroll], we opted to have dinner in Flushing's Chinatown, which is larger and more interesting than Chinatown in Manhattan. For example, this restaurant is capped with a whimsical noodle bowl.

Flushing Chinatown

In some Asian cultures, it's considered ill-omened and rude to stick one's chopsticks into a bowl. We peered in the windows of the place, noticed the roast duck looked sub par and a majority of the customers looked not-Asian. Hm. So we went across the street to the felicitously named Fortune House Restaurant and ate ourselves happy for $14 including tip.

All in all, it was an excellent day off.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Rockin' Girl Bloggers et al

I'm finally catching up on a passel of postponed posts. First up, I'm a Rockin' Girl Blogger, thanks to a tag from MissyJoon! Thank you, thank you, three times thank you – I shall endeavor to prove worthy of the nomination.

Rockin' Girl Blogger button


Roberta Ferguson started the Rockin' Girl Blogger memetag on June 18 as a way to recognize fellow girl bloggers and to counter the sneering claim that girls aren't power bloggers. In her original post and updates, Roberta tagged five others and encouraged readers – nominated or not – to do the same. There are no barriers, just the pretty pink button and the conviction that blogging matters.

I did the math [waves hands] – ten weeks later, there could easily be over 12 million of us (doncha love math?), but there would seem to be fewer than 3,400. Hm. Even given the attenuation of multiple nominations, say, if 20,000 people all nominated the mighty Yarn Harlot, there still could be a LOT more Rockin' Girl Bloggers. So I'm going to think globally and act locally – and tag the Jersey knitbloggers in MY SnB and invite others (nominated or not) to grab the badge and nominate their faves (just save the button to your own server).

My SnB meets Thursday evenings at Modern Yarn and therefore is MY SnB. All of the knitters in my SnB are pretty fabulous individually; as a group they make me LMAO on a regular basis. While the ass-reduction effect may be ephemeral (sadly), the benefits of time regularly spent with kindred spirits are beyond calculation. It's the highlight of the week for many participants. Only the bloggers are listed, but all are rockin':
Kim who blogs like Athena from the head of Zeus;

Rockin' Katie;

Dorre of the encyclopedic memory;

Eileene who is overhauling her blog (please enable comments!);

Risa and her dashcam;

and Christina and Paige who mind the store (and blogless Kristen and amazing Kristine, of course).

I trust MY SnB will propagate the pink button – indeed, more widely and [cough] more promptly than I have.

Next, here's proof of socks for Sockapalooza 4. My downstream pal stopped responding to queries back in May – I just hope her socks have arrived and they fit and she enjoys them in good health. There's a pal-specific narrative that goes with them, which I'll post if I hear from her.

Sockapalooza socks

I never quite know what to make of an noncommunicative secret pal – I find it a bit disquieting. However that may be, I do want to thank the true blue hostess of Sockapalooza, Alison, and the many participants who enlivened the exchange, notably Danielle, who created a great Sockapalooza 4 label. I've volunteered to knit angel socks, should the need arise, because every Sockapaloozer should get made-to-measure socks.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Still Busy

I'm still crazy-busy, but am breaking radio silence briefly to show off the witty Alabama Fiber Dreams stitch markers that were the prize for the SOS Weekly Link Contest. Thanks, Jessica! They're so-so apropos right now.

Martini stitch markers

(Sorry about the off-colors, it's overcast today. I tried a sketchy version of the clever DIY light tents, but obviously need a stronger light source that emits more blue, less red. Hm... maybe the Sun Gun would help.)

I put the stitch markers to work immediately. The current sock,SOS2 tease a riff on Cedar architecture in Cat Bordhi's amazing New Pathways for Sock Knitters, Book One, calls for a number of markers. More pix when there's better light and more time.

Incidentally, reading the book is an experience not unlike imbibing spice – I feel like space has folded! It's a must-have, chock full of dazzling patterns, innovative sock "architectures," and superior techniques. The elegant short-row method (a greatly improved wrap-and-turn) is almost worth the cover price alone – now there is no excuse for ugly short-row heels.

For the mycophiles out there, Friday's hard rain was not kind to the puffball. When I got home, it looked like a cracked hard-boiled egg. I feared the worst, but the spore sac inside the shell recovered and grew a pore anyway. (Click on photos to view larger.) It puffs quite nicely. Alas, my digicam is 'way too slow to capture actual puffing.

Puffball broken Puffball recovered

OK, back to the grindstone. While I'm grinding away, please go and send some healing thoughts to Jessica's mom.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

This Is August?

I have the notion that August is a slow month, when lots of people go away for vacation. Apparently that's superstitious nonsense – I'm crazy-busy. I do want to note the presence of some recent arrivals, but must be brief.

First, and one proof it really is August, my upstream Sockapalooza 4 pal, Melissa in California, sent these excellent ripply socks. Thank you Melissa – they fit perfectly and I do love a pink ripply sock! (Kindly excuse the gruesome leg stubble and mosquito bites.)

Sockapalooza socks

More evidence it's really August, there's a puffball in my lawn. The pore should be developing soon [g]. I'm easily amused.

There were other goodies in the Sockapalooza package: a sweet note, tasty tea and chocolate from California purveyors, and yummy silk laceweight. The chocolate vanished pretty much immediately and Mom's got her eye on that laceweight. And a brisk cuppa makes a nice start when it turns cold, as it will soon enough.

Sockapalooza loot

My Jersey Represent! button and Jessie's MOO card (blue ripples!) arrived. Thanks, Jessie – I love the button (and it seems like all the cool kids have MOO cards)!

Jersey Represent! button

Finally, it must be August because my Congressman, Bill Pascrell, held a town hall meeting on Tuesday. He talked about Iraq, health care, and energy – serious topics all and a sobering reminder that lots of people aren't getting a vacation this month. The Q-and-A was mostly straightforward, but there were some oddities: two gold standard advocates (Lyndon LaRouche devotees), a global warming denier, a guy who questioned other people's patriotism if they disagreed with him, and a guy highly critical of Congressional earmarks.

Curiously, in an interview yesterday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said the investigation into the Minneapolis bridge collapse is ongoing, but went on to blame Congressional earmarks for diverting funding from bridges to bicycle paths (!). Alas for the secretary, the facts are easily checked – her comment is not true, but (speaking of diversions) it is interesting. Plus this twice-in-two-days mention of earmarks has my ears twitching. I wonder what's up.

I owe MissyJoon a shout-out, but want to compose a proper post – sorry about the delay. Also Deb wants to see my completed Soleil and I need to post my Sockapalooza reveal. All this – and more! – when I have more time.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Knit One Tea Too Color Swap Questionnaire Responses

Greetings,K1T2 Swap button Knit One, Tea Too Color Swap participants! I'm looking forward to sipping and swapping (or is the it other way 'round?), thanks to swap organizers Devonshire, Mary, and Channon (signups open through August 15).

For starters, here's my questionnaire responses:

Do you like loose tea or bags, or both – something you want to try?
It depends on time and resources available. Loose tea is preferable when I have the time and accouterments. Bag or sachet tea is fine when I don't – and I often don't.

What is your favorite kind of tea (Brand, flavor, variety, etc)?
Harney & Sons sencha or oolong neat – no mix-ins, spices, sweeteners, milk, or lemon.

Favorite color in regards to tea or one you would like to try? (black, green, red, and white) (keeping in mind that this is how this swap is set up).
Green, please.

Would you say you were a tea pot kind of person or just a hot water heater kind?
Teapot, circumstances permitting.

What tea accessories would you like but have never purchases for yourself?
An individual tea press. Or cheerful dishtowels – so useful to have and one can never have too many.

How do you prefer to be pampered? (examples: mani/pedi, bubble bath, yummy treat, etc).
Nibbles, because I'd be concerned the tea might absorb soap odors.

If you were a kind of yarn what would you be and why?
Um, much as I love sock yarn, I've never aspired to be yarn.

If you had to knit/crochet baby booties, a fun fur scarf, or a fair isle sweater, which would you choose and why?
Baby booties, because they're the happiest.

What other event would make you skip a tea party? (A garden party? A book club meeting? A yoga class? Opening night for a new action thriller? etc?)
A family obligation. Maybe a bicycle tour.

What treat would you consider essential at your tea party? (Sweet? Salty? Scones? Those petite pastry trays with a couple of all sorts of things? Little crust less sandwiches?)
It depends on the kind of tea party (I'm becoming monotonous, nuh?). A plate of madeleines or wafer-thin Fujiya tea cookies for a simple party, dim sum or smoked salmon sandwiches for a party offering more substantial fare.

When buying yarn for a project how do you choose - do you buy the one called for or do you substitute?
Both, although the more challenging the project, the more likely I am to buy the specified yarn.

What do you carry your knitting/crocheting in when on the go?
A zip bag. It's a rather sad triumph of utility over esthetics.

Favorite movie to watch while knitting/crocheting?
Prithee, something with fun costumes and stilted dialogue.

Traditional cupsAre you a traditional tea cup kind of person or a mug type of person? Do you care if they match?
Heh. There's more than one kind of traditional teacup and I have too many, plus too many mugs!

Favorite childhood birthday party?
My sixth: we went to an agricultural fair and played games, gawked at the exhibits, ate roast corn on a stick – and I rode a pony for the first time [vbg].

Favorite type of scone and jam?
Currant scones and strawberry jam. Although I'm more partial to tea breads.

If you use candles, what is your favorite scent?
Lavender, pine, or ginger (I seem to have too many candles at the moment).

If you could choose 3 people to have 'tea' with, who would they be and why? (famous or not, living or dead).
My sisters, because we don't get to see each other very often.

You've been invited to a tea party, what 'props' will you wear (formal or casual)?
Pearls, which go everywhere and with everything. If it's a Japanese tea party, good socks.

Any allergies/preferences you have or are willing to admit to?
I'm allergic to tilleul (linden) and angora (fortunately rare in both tea and yarn).

Anything we missed that you want your pal to know?
Hope you have fun. Happy swapping!

Monday, August 6, 2007

Charmed

A yarn, SWTC Tofutsies colorway 720, Sweep You Off Your Feet, has been mocking me. It's for my [cough] first Summer of Socks project and it simply will not behave.

Here's attempt #1: Tidal Wave Socks by Deby Lake, started on the solstice. I love the pattern, which was written for Tofutsies. I like the yarn. Alas, the colorway has three characteristics which are inocuous individually, deadly in combination: it's tonal, variegated, and marled. Which means the graceful stitch pattern fades into obscurity. Off it went to the frog pond.

Tidal Wave

Here's attempt #2, River Rapids Socks by Sockbug. Same problem, same fate.

River Rapids

Here's attempt #3, Lacy Scallops Socks by Sockbug.

Lacy Scallops

Apparently the third time's the charm. This time I'm loving the pattern and the yarn. I just adore feather and fan variations and a scalloped picot hem. Plus August Sockdown is Sockbug or lace. It's a keeper – and a threefer!

Meanwhile, I've put my Mystery Stole 3 into hibernation. I guessed right about the theme [hee] and sorta right about the lifeline [hee], but the surprise turn was brilliant, simply brilliant. But... now that I understand the design, alas, the challenge has trickled away and not even the inducement of the special MS3 shawl pin Romi is designing can rekindle it. That's no reflection on Melanie's design – it happens all the time here at Area 151 (obviously).

Friday, August 3, 2007

Pod People

Jessica asked if the beans in the last post were sending a secret message. I investigated and it turns out the beans indeed have been employing highly advanced subliminal techniques. I didn't know because, uh, it was subliminal. It's mostly a survival mechanism to avoid being eaten. I don't think it's very effective, though.

Don't eat us!

Or is it?!??

Enjoy the weekend – but don't fall asleep.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

B Strings

The string bag is finished and it's like a monster from a B-movie. It could kick those skinny eco-fashionista bags from Exit 151 to Tokyo Bay. You should hear it roar. It easily swallowed an entire sweater's worth of yarn. (Er, when it comes to yarn, I'm not wholly immune to the power of the label.)

String bag and yarn

The bag was crocheted and knit from Aunt Lydia's Double Strand crochet cotton (two intertwined No. 10 threads, equivalent to No. 3 thread) in colorway 0443 Victory Red/Mexicana. One 300-yd (274 m) ball was exactly enough. I'm pleased with the results and want to make more, although the handle may need re-thinking. A single handle needs to be long enough so that it does not hinder stuffing the bag, whereas double handles can be short or long as desired. Hm.

String bag handle

That's an 18-inch volleyball, a 16-inch softball, a glove, two regulation Frisbees, and s'mores fixings poised to be bagged. The chocolate started melting, so I moved it out of the sun, but everything did fit.

For those who asked for a pattern, sorry, the bag is a chimera whose parts are already published – the base is from Meta Thompson's crocheted bag in Spin-Off Summer 2006, the sides are a mod of Judy's Turkish Stitch String Bag, and the handle is a mod of Erin's The String Bag. I like the drawstring and toggle on Amy Singer's Everlasting Bagstopper and may add them, too. There are even more patterns at Erin's String It Along KAL.

Meanwhile, the string beans are finally starting to come in – a trickle at first, soon a flood. This year I planted green and yellow varieties (the haricots jaunes are actually various shades of pale lime green). The mere notion of yellow green beans disturbs my neighbor mightily. Happily, the plants don't care about the gardening police.

Green and yellow haricots

My downstream Sockapalooza pal's socks are ready to jump in the mail – all will be revealed next week. Now that the TdF KAL and Sockapalooza are in the bag, I'm going to volunteer to knit socks for a 'loozer whose pal bails. Just keeping up that B string.