Friday, September 28, 2007

Stranded

And I don't mean knitting.

I'm traveling – scratch that, trying to get from Point A to Point B to Point C and back again, but my flight was canceled. But only after we sat on the tarmac for four hours. Now it's well past midnight and I'm at the airport with a planeload of angry people, one hapless gate agent, and three policemen. The gate agent has just announced there will be no vouchers for anything. All the airport vendors and transportation have shut down for the night. Gah.

On the bright side, before I left I had the forethought to upload photos of the Kureyon felted mug I made for Melissa, my Knit One, Tea Too swap pal. (My mobile gadgets can manage blog posts, but not photo uploads.) Here it is before f-f-felting, with a bit of crochet cotton around the top to help the rim felt evenly.

Before

Here it is after. I love how the Kureyon felted down to look like stoneware.

After

The mug is a modification of Jane's brilliant felted teacup and saucer pattern. She also has patterns for a felted bowl and a felted teapot!

I'm becoming incoherent, so will respond to blog comments and email when I'm back at Point A. Hope your weekend is happy!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

First Week in October

Roundabout Exit 151 (and in many other communities), the first week of October is a celebration of the Latin adage mens sana in corpore sano [a sound mind in a sound body] with Banned Books Week and iWalk.

Banned Books Week buttonBanned Books Week 2007, September 29-October 6, is sponsored by the American Library Association. Their list of the most frequently challenged books is instructive reading all by itself, as are the suggestions on ways to celebrate the freedom to read. No surprise, most involve reading (including blog reading).

My local public library is a Carnegie grant library, one of 1,689 in the U.S. (and 828 elsewhere). Even though it was basically charity, there was little stinting inside or out – the original copper roof was finally replaced in kind this summer. The trees have grown up around the building, so it's hard to get a good photo this time of year, but notice the copper penny color on top versus the 90-year-old patina on the window mullions.

Free Public Library

More important than the bricks and mortar outside are the treasures inside – books, newspapers, periodicals, media, computers with Internet access – all freely available to patrons. When the library was built in 1914, the concept of free public lending and open stacks was considered daring, even dangerous. Judging from contemporary U.S. controversies as disparate as evolution, climate change, net neutrality, AIDS education, and HPV vaccination, there would seem to be plenty of would-be thought police with any number of agendas who still think so. In a global context, freedom to read is even more precious. It's no coincidence that dictators everywhere first seek to suppress, censor, ban, and burn books.

iWalk button   Safe Routes to School button


Thinking globally, October 3 is iWalk 2007, International Walk [and Bike] to School Day, which in the U.S. is sponsored by the National Center for Safe Routes to School. iWalk is a full month in some parts of the world, where the emphasis is on encouraging school enrollment. Roundabout prosperous Exit 151, the emphasis of the day is on reducing childhood obesity, reducing traffic congestion and speed, reducing fossil fuel emissions, and reducing stress! See who's walking in New Jersey, in the U.S., and globally.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fall Bounty

Today was summer-hot, yet the autumn equinox has come and gone and with it the end of Summer of Socks. I've been trying to upload my wrap up post, but Blogger ate it. (Sigh. I'll keep trying.) In the meantime this will have to suffice. It's the yarn prize for the SOS Design Contest.

Prize yarn

It truly is prize yarn. I literally gasped when I received the package! From left to right:
Perchance to Knit 80/20 Merino/Cashmere in colorway Raspberry Mouse (with coordinating jeweled stitch marker!);

Yarn Botanika Radiance (Superwash Merino and Tencel) from One Planet Yarn & Fiber;

Tausendschon Handgefärbte Sockenwolle (75% Superwash wool, 25% polyamid) in colorway Flecktarn;

and from Wool Girl,

Union Center Knits Whatnot Sock (75% Superwash wool, 25% nylon) in colorway Fishy (with a stitch marker, labels, and smooch stickers), and

Miss Babs Superwash Sock & Baby (100% wool) in colorway Purples II.

MY SnB can attest to how many longing sighs I expend over indie sock yarn! This yarn will be loveloveloved.

My humble thanks go to judges Jessica, Wendy, and Lisa, to the generous sponsors, to Risa, whose crazy computer skillz facilitated pattern publication, to gentle readers for their kind words about Meadowlands Socks, and to Cat Bordhi, whose New Pathways gave me the brainwave for the pattern. If I haven't emailed you to express individual thanks, it's only because I don't have your email addy.

Meanwhile, fruit has started falling off my neighbor's persimmon tree. They're charming little things, the native wild persimmon, not an exotic cultivated variety. Here's one of the windfalls with my LiveStrong wristband for scale.

Fallen persimmon

I'm not sure they're fully ripe yet, but not to worry...

Persimmons on tree

... there's plenty more.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Proof of Sock

The occasion for a second post in one day is proof of sock. As promised, I delayed this Sockapalooza 4 post until there was acknowledgement of receipt from my downstream pal. A month later it can be told that my original pal was Nun in Barcelona. Here's the socks I sent her.

Nun's socks

With the socks come two narratives. I've already blogged about the fossil rainforest that inspired their design. But I also picked the stitch patterns – peacock tail for the cuff, fern leaf for the leg, and moss stitch for the heel – because way back when Sockapalooza started, Nun had just finished a Kiri Shawl (which uses fern leaf) and was starting a Peacock Feathers Shawl, and because the URL of her blog, punto de arroz, translates to rice stitch, more commonly known in English as moss stitch. The socks are pal-specific. And because knitters can, they also have mirror-image star toes.

Peacock tail cuff   Star toes

I'm told there are similar socks out there, notably the toe-up Elfine's Socks by Anna Bell. The similarities are there, but these happen to owe more to Ann's vintage stockings and really were knit with Nun in mind. I hope she enjoys them in good health!

TV Production

Last night I watched an inordinate amount of TV and pretty much finished the body of the f-f-felted backpack. It currently measures 10"L X 7"W X 14"H (25 X 17 X 35 cm). Gotta love those Noro stripes.

Backpack body

I'm particularly happy with the way Linda Cyr's short row eyelets turned out. I wouldn't use the technique for buttonholes, but they're nice openings for the I-cord drawstring.

Backpack eyelets

All that remains is to knit that interminable I-cord drawstring. Must watch more television!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Some Wandering, Some Lost

In the last set of comments, Jeanne asked "What are the things that look like fish?" They're yarn bobbins, used in certain kinds of colorwork. They hold small amounts of yarn neatly, with less (not no) tangling.

Fish bobbins

Over time I've amassed a vast collection of bobbins in divers sizes, shapes, and colors. Mostly because, as now, I can't find them when I want them, so I get more. No doubt they're wandering (not lost) somewhere roundabout Area 151 and will turn up in good time. In a pinch I've used bits of cardboard as bobbins, too.

Deborah wanted to know if I'm going to Rhinebeck. I'm planning to attend on Sunday. Further, thanks to the indefatigable Stitchy McYarnpants, I'm playing Rhinebeck Blogger Bingo again – I'm a square!

I'm a Square!   Blogger Bingo button


Squares need a way to display the Blogger Bingo (and Jersey Represent!) button. There were some stray skeins of Lamb's Pride Worsted, colorway M-64 Charcoal, and Noro Yoroi, colorway 4, in stash, so I'm knitting up a small backpack (to be f-f-felted). It's at the formless blog stage.

Backpack in progress

The backpack started out as one of Linda Cyr's Fabulous Felted Backpacks in Knitters K61, Winter 2000, then the mods took over. [Mwaahaha.] I decided to make a smaller size, to knit it in one piece to eliminate seaming later, and to omit the bobbled cables, which are gorgeous, but lost (not wandering) in the Yoroi.

That reduces a somewhat elaborate project to mindless TV knitting – perfect for this evening's season premieres. Eileene insists Heroes and Journeyman are worth watching, so I'm watching.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Maine Fiber Adventures

Small useful toolsNo trip to Maine is complete without a fiber adventure or three. So much rain on this trip meant more time at my favorite Maine LYSs, Halcyon Yarn in Bath and Unique One in Camden (open 'til 10 in the summer!). I picked up some back issues of Spin-Out, more Finn top, and some small, useful tools. (DH: "Hey, those things look like fish!")

There also was a new find, Tess' Yarns in Portland, opened just this year. Here's the view from the curb.

Tess' Yarns exterior

The inside view will look familiar to those who attend MDS&W – the store pretty much replicates the booth, minus the festival frenzy. There are some garment patterns and a few other covetable things, but the emphasis is very much on yarn – it's a paradise of drop-dead gorgeous color and texture. The only ways to get Tess' Designer Yarns are at a limited number of fiber festivals (sadly, not Rhinebeck), online, or at the shop.

Tess' Yarns interior

DH, a veteran of many, many, many yarn expeditions, quickly assessed the situation and fled. Happily, the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood made for an entertaining impromptu walking tour for him while I chattered with the voluble (but camera-shy) owner. I picked up Super Socks and Baby (80% wool, 20% nylon) in a classic Tess colorway, Lime Splash, and a new semi-solid, Lemongrass, and Superwash Lace (100% Merino singles) in an emerald green so rich, in some lights it looks black.

Tess' Designer Yarns

Incidentally, there really is a Tess of Tess' Yarns... her picture is on the label.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Excelsior Not So Much

On one of the rainy days we spent in Acadia National Park, everyone pulled on rain gear and rambled along Homans Path to gawp at damage from a rare 3.8 magnitude earthquake last October. This granite boulder had a piece sheared off (notice the fresh, lichen-free rock surface). It takes quite a bit of force to split granite.

Earthquake damage and socks

The socks are the third pair from last year's Trek-along, which I finally finished somewhere on the road. They also got to return to Acadia Mountain and pose hanging off the second summit. As hoped, they are excellent hiking socks and I'm as delighted with their performance as their appearance.

Acadia Mountain second summit and socks

DH and I also rented bicycles and pedaled around on the all-weather carriage roads. Originally built for John D. Rockefeller, today they're a gift to cyclists and less-able or weary hikers, as well as continuing to serve their original purpose, only these days the carriages haul all kinds of tourists, not just millionaires. (I don't understand why one guy is staring at the pasture patties instead of the scenery.)

Carriage on carriage road

Last year, DH and I started climbing Day Mountain, but had to turn back before reaching the top because the shades of night were falling fast our rentals needed returning. This year, DH was determined to summit. (DH is camera shy, but the Tofutsies sock dangling out of my rack trunk is not.)

Day Mountain summit sign

Our motto was "Conquer Day Mountain!" Some lines from Excelsior by Maine author Henry Wadsworth Longfellow may have been declaimed too. But when we got to the summit, it turned out its height isn't all that impressive. Elevation 583 feet (180 m)? One sock length??? Now that's a bit embarrassing.

Day Mountain summit

So we pedaled around a couple small lakes and up and down a nubble for good measure. While heading back to the rental place, we noticed that ducks really do line up.

Ducks in a row

I assume they're an aquatic paceline. Amazing.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Sanity Restored

I'm catching up after a trip to the Pine Tree State, where sometimes it rained and sometimes it looked like this. Ah!

Pine Tree State

Divers adventures occurred, not least the taming of the sock yarn. Many thanks to all those who made suggestions – they were helpful and encouraging! But it would seem I was 'way overthinking the beastie. All that was needed to stop the madness and show off its well-balanced rainbow of saturated tertiary colors was a contrast picot hem and an expanse of stockinette. Ah-ha!

Sockapalooza anel sock

After that, the loud yarn quietly knit up into another Cedar architecture sock à la New Pathways by Cat Bordhi. I rather like how the yarn flashes at the ankle (teehee) where the arch expansion is, then resumes its subtle repetition on the foot.

Every sock deserves an adventure, so this one went on a favorite hike to the first summit of Acadia Mountain. Also in my hat: water, fruit jellies, and cherry tomatoes from home. The trail to the second summit descends the ledges to the right, then climbs again.

Sock on Acadia Mountain

More adventures after I do the laundry!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Persimmon and Other P Words

One of my neighbors has a fine persimmon tree in the front yard. Over the years I've admired its pyramidal shape, large glossy leaves, and corrugated bark, but this is the first time I've noticed fruits. They're small, but there's lots of them all over the tree.

Persimmons

Meanwhile, Pomatomus doesn't seem to be working – that dang Fire on the Mountain is still mocking me. Grrr... I may have to resort to something ripply.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Socks That Mock

This yarn has been mocking me. It looked loverly in the skein, somewhat worrisome wound, and now no matter what stitch pattern I try, it's eyeball-searing. I'd provide photographic evidence, but the attempt might break my digicam as well as blind gentle readers. Instead, here's the ball, smug as smug can be after winding, *swatching, frogging, rewinding, repeat from *. (Obviously, I have no complaints about yarn quality.)

STR Fire on the Mountain

Well, I may be one lone defeated knitter, but the knitterly community includes powers vastly greater than my feeble abilities. After a search, I know just what pattern to use, having Margene's example. At the same time, there's a Sockapaloozer out there in need of angel socks and, wouldncha know it, BRIGHT socks are actually a plus. Sounds like a plan, yea, even a rally. We'll see who gets the last laugh!

Speaking of last laughs, I finished reading HP and the Deathly Hallows. The book is a decent read and satisfying conclusion to the series, with only a few dangling ends. I'm amazed at how the brilliant U.S. cover illustration shows everything without spoiling anything. The movie may have rough sledding earning a G rating, though. The body count is uncomfortably high – I'd have to peg it at Pretty Gory-13.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Meadowlands Socks ver. 1.0

The sock pattern for the SOS Design Contest needed a name, so after due consideration of Linnaean Latin, pop culture, literary references, and utilitarian titles, I finally picked an evocative New Jersey place name: Meadowlands. It's my first formal, write-it-all-out-and-convert-to-.pdf pattern. Here's two versions standing in [cough] my unmowed backyard a New Jersey meadow. Thanks to the recent rain and pleasant temperatures, my lawn meadow is surprisingly green and lush for the end of summer – usually it's rather brown.

Meadowlands Socks in meadow

(Shh!... Don't tell the knitting police, but I don't yet have a pair. At least this time I shaved my legs and the mosquito bites are almost healed.)

Writing the pattern was, um, interesting. It ended up being nine pages long! While the sock is an easy, intuitive knit, its Cedar architecture is so different from the ordinary that it takes a bit of explanation. (Try explaining intuition. Gah.) The first draft was considerably terser.

Original pattern

My two main sources were a Japanese stitch dictionary, Knitting Patterns Book 250, and New Pathways for Sock Knitters by Cat Bordhi, who encourages use of her ideas. I like New Pathways so much, I've joined the knit-along.

Sources

I also spent some time looking at the Mon Tricot Knitting Encyclopedia, Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmerman, Barbara Walker's A Treasury of Knitting 1 and 2, Mary Thomas's Knitting Book, Confessions of a Knitting Heretic by Annie Modesitt, and the mighty Principles of Knitting by June Hemmons Hiatt, which made me feel a little better about waxing prolix. Some things just take a lot of words.

The pattern includes charts, suggested variations, photographs, and even a little botanic Latin (I just had to sneak some in!). Alas, it does not offer multiple sizes. I wrote the pattern for a cast on of 64 stitches and started resizing it for a cast on of 48, 54, 72, and 80 stitches to accomodate different sizes of feet and different weights of yarn, but there wasn't sufficient time before the deadline to finish – only the 64-stitch sock is given. If there's sufficient interest, I'll add more sizes to ver. 2.0. Hm... that will make the pattern even longer. Must think of a way to save trees!

Small Meadowlands sock

That's all for the future – for the moment the pattern is in the capable hands of the contest judges. It turns out that the SOS Design Contest needs at least four more entries to run and the submission deadline has been extended to September 8. Aiya! SOSers, get your patterns written up and submitted!

ETA: Gentle reader, I won! My thanks to the judges, Jessica, Wendy, and Lisa. Happyhappyhappy dance!

ETA October 2010: Meadowlands Socks is now available on Ravelry.