Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Shrunk Funk

Look, if ye dare, on my poor Slytherin-colored Horcrux Socks after a cold wash, cold rinse in my front-loader. They are greatly changed.

Felted Horcrux socks

I thought Panda Wool is machine-washable. It isn't. The label specifies handwash, but that detail eluded memory because I didn't think wool and bamboo sock yarn could transmogrify f-f-felt. This yarn can and does, remarkably readily – the felt is as thick as that from worsted-weight yarn. Alas, fatal inattention! Was it for this that I knit these socks!?

In happier days the socks (pictured with pineapple shortbread for Prof. Slughorn) were stretchy and very comfortable, deserving of a bit of extra bother on laundry day – had I only remembered.

Socks and pineapple-shaped shortbread

Excuse me whilst I mourn them. Chat quietly amongst yerselves or have a gander at this sock opera.

P.S. If my Gryffindor parents named me Albus Severus Potter, I'd be worried about being sorted into Slytherin House, too.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Pay It Forward

Pay It Forward is a pyramid scheme with a difference, which I'm coming to via Minnie (also seen at Andrea's, Anne's, and Norma's, among others). The PIF pledge:
I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.

That's all there is to it. Well, except I'll need your mailing address (email it to jerseyknitter [at] gmail [dot] com) and it's implicit that all participants have a blog (sorry, blogfree readers).

I'm well aware that to some altruism may seem like piffle, or even an opportunity for fraud. I've certainly had my share of exchange pals who did not hold up their end. That said, it seems to me the existence of People Doing Wrong is cause for caution, but not for bitterness – to my mind it simply underscores the need for PIF, not negates it. So [tralala] I'm tickled to be in Minnie's queue and eager to get PIFfling myself.

Louet Gems and beads

Who'd like to play? I haven't decided what to make, although right now I'm thinking happy beady thoughts!

ETA: Alrighty! My PIF queue is Alotta.Knittin, Janine, and Lisa. Would-be PIFflers can stalk their blogs or the other blogs mentioned (Kim is PIFfling too) for more chances to join.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Autumn Leaves

Many of the trees roundabout Exit 151 have been late in turning, but they've made up for that by dropping their leaves all at once this weekend. In between Sisyphean leaf-raking sessions, I finally finished a pair of Embossed Leaves socks by Mona Schmidt (in IK Winter 2005, also in Favorite Socks) that was started during Socktoberfest [cough] last year.

Embossed Leaves socks

There are mods, of course. I love a good leaf motif, so much so that I continued the leaves on the heel flap, working p2tog and ssp on the wrong side to correspond with k2tog and ssk on the right side. I didn't want to break the yarn, so the cuff has plain 1x1 ribbing and a conventional flap heel. I varied the pattern by a half drop on one sock, because knitters can. (The highly embossed pattern tends to close up, so the socks are on DIY blockers for their close ups.)

Half drop variation

Usually I find spiral toes uncomfortable (my foot ends in a wedge, not a pencil point), plus I tend to think gathered toe stitches look unfinished, an ungainly recourse for those who don't know how to graft. But this sock has such a pretty variation on a spiral toe that I caved and used the specified toe on the first sock. Sure enough, it was a horrible fit. After consulting New Pathways, I re-knit that toe, then put a standard flat toe on the second sock for comparison purposes. We'll see if pretty can stand up with practical.

Different toes

Overall, I enjoyed the pattern and the crazy marled yarn, Fortissima Colori Socka Color in colorway 2419. I plan to knit lots more – needless to add, the handsome stitch pattern would be more prominent in a solid, semi-solid, or heathered yarn.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Inflation Night 2007

Happy Thanksgiving! Local news reported that a record one million visitorsStatue of Theodore Roosevelt turned out for Inflation Night in NYC this year, thanks to mild weather and the Broadway stagehands' strike. Here's my one in a million experience.

The helium balloons for the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade were inflated on the side streets surrounding the Museum of Natural History campus. Y'know, the really, really big museum with the statue of Theodore Roosevelt in front. It's easy to get to (the museum has its own subway stop) and for visitors unfamiliar with NYC, there's lots of helpful signs.

Not to mention it's pretty hard to miss all the balloons. There's balloons advertising the parade's sponsor, Macy's department store; a bazillion small balloons for the kiddies; and assorted seasonal balloons like these big pumpkins. There's other free swag, too – balloon animals, headbands with Shrek ears on them, fleece headbands, new Terra Crinkle chips, chances to win Macy's gift cards, etc.

Macy's balloons   Balloons for the kiddies   Big pumpkins

But the unabashed stars of Inflation Night are the giant helium balloons, each of which has a namecard showing what it looks like inflated (because it's hard to tell when they're flat) and its debut year. I decided to watch Supercute Hello Kitty, making her debut this year. She's face down, with netting and ropes already in place, but no sandbags yet.

Hello Kitty balloon

I knew it was the right choice when first NYPD came by to get the rundown (it was obvious this officer has young daughters), then local media. Lou Young from WCBS-TV Channel 2 did a good job interviewing the young'uns and charming the old'uns.

NYPD gets the rundown   Lou Young interviews the crowd

The inflation crew, volunteers from the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, worked slowly and deliberately. Much time was spent making certain the ropes didn't foul anything and the freezing cold helium went precisely where directed.

Careful volunteers

The balloon was inflated in parts. At first, crew members had to lift a section of netting and balloon to let one person wriggle underneath to reach the inflation ports.

Crawling under

The only time I saw the crew moving fast was when the balloon first showed signs of buoyancy, at about half inflated. Then they quickly clipped a multitude of 25-pound (11-kg) sandbags onto the netting.

Adding sandbags

Eventually the crew needed tall ladders to reach the inflation ports. The whole process, from flat to pretty much done, took about an hour.

Ladder required

There was 'way more to see than is shown here. The, um, most high concept balloon has gotta be Rabbit by Jeff Koons. It's balloon art, a giant balloon with authorship, a version of his inflatable Easter bunny cast in stainless steel. It has a fake inflation nipple on the back of its head and would seem to have passed out.

Rabbit by Jeff Koons

My favorite giant balloon in this year's bunch has gotta be Scooby-Doo, easily the most expressive. Even in an obstructed view, it looks dynamic, just raring to go.


Overall, I enjoyed Inflation Night. I wouldn't say it's better than the parade itself, not by a long shot, but it's worthwhile. The crowd was in a festive mood and considerate of children, shutterbugs, and people in wheelchairs (the event is fully handicapped accessible). Some people make it an annual tradition.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

NaKniSweMoNorovember 20

This week's NaKniSweMoNorovember update is early because Thursday is a U.S. holiday, Thanksgiving, and the weekend is the beginning of The Holiday Season. [Insert exclamation of your choice.] The Rosedale cardi sleeves are finished and are waiting to be joined to the yoke.

Rosedale sleeves

Given the delightful idiosyncrasies of Kureyon, I felt certain the sleeves would vary considerably. Surprise! The color progressions unfolded with remarkable regularity without any tweaking from me and only began to differ above the elbow. Symmetry between the two sleeves is one thing; symmetry within one sleeve is another. I don't much like the repeat of the violet stripe on the upper sleeve or the cobalt blue stripe on the lower sleeve and have been pondering re-knitting them. I'll decide when I see how the body turns out.

The body, which is knit across its entire acreage width at once, has been slow going so far, but I still hope to finish in time (must knit faster!). I'm liking Amy Swenson's thoughtful, well-written pattern so much that I'm not going to modify it, except to custom-fit the length.

Rosedale corrugated ribbing

The weather this week has included a bit of everything, but the forecast looks favorable, so I'm thinking of starting the holiday weekend tomorrow with Inflation Night. The giant helium balloons for the Thanksgiving Day parade are lined up and inflated (and secured with sandbags!) the night before, a spectacle in its own right. I've seen the balloons deflate, both inadvertently and intentionally, but have never watched them inflate. Hm... let's hope the entire metro NYC region doesn't get the same idea.

Wishing you a happy, safe, and bountiful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Next Two Weeks

Knit Unto Others buttonThis morning's snow got me in the mood for a spot of charity knitting. I do a fair bit all year 'round that I don't record here, but this batch seemed like appropriate blog fodder.

Locally, Margaux is collecting afghan squares (actually, 7x9-inch washable wool rectangles) for The Hoboken Shelter silent auction. Suggested patterns and specs may be found here. Completed rectangles may be dropped off at Patricia's Yarns in Hoboken through November 30.

A bit farther afield, Margene and Carole are sponsoring Knit Unto Others, with a suggested list of charities and projects, also through November 30. I'm making child's mittens using Sivia Harding's pattern and oddments of Mission Falls 1824 Wool, colorway 026 Zinnia. Here's this morning's knitting.

Mitten on snow

Snow on leaves, mitten on snow.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Oops, I neglected to post a photo of the November page from my wall calendar for Deb. Here it is.

November calendar

The image is Waimea Beach, Kauai. It was raining when I took the pic, sorry about poor image quality.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

NaKniSweMoNorovember 15

Yikes, it's midmonth already (must knit faster)! It took five or six attempts to get the Rosedale sleeves to look like sisters. I think the sororal relationship suits Kureyon better than the fraternal (identical is a lost cause). As Ovid put it via Thomas Bulfinch: "Facies non omnibus una, nec diversa tamen, qualem decet esse sororum. Their faces were not all alike, nor yet unlike, but such as those of sisters' ought to be."

Rosedale sleeves

Meaning, the stripes are more or less aligned. Although the elder sleeve has more saturated color than the younger sleeve. And [cough] there's a couple more rows of corrugated ribbing on the younger sleeve. It doesn't bother me enough to... er, that's it!... my arms are different lengths.

Matching does seem to be the current challenge/obsession. This sock defied all attempts to get its leg and foot to match. (Plus I had to redo the toe several times, but that was Benadryl fog.) I knew the ankle would flash and rather like the shazaam pattern there. But I don't understand why the foot is so different from the leg and I daren't imagine what the second sock will look like. (I've always wanted to use daren't in a sentence.)

First sock, Country Christmas

Ah well, sisters.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Bangles

An experiment: soft knit bangles inspired by Mimsie's. One was knit flat using Sirdar Harlequin, a discontinued variegated rayon tape and mohair yarn. The short edges were grafted and the long edges allowed to curl under.

Knit bangles

The other was knit in the round using gray Rowan 4-ply, which is a fair stand-in for the original cashmere. The long edges were grafted and the resulting torus lightly stuffed with fiberfill. The fiberfill tends to clump in the knit areas and not in the purl areas, which initially made the top down view of the bangle look a bit like a gel teething bracelet.

Pictured with the bangles are a couple felted balls made from roving, which are easy to make, but tedious to make well – they form in under a minute, but require 7-10 minutes of steady rolling to look their best. Speaking of which, the light tent still needs tweaking, although I'm happy with the way the cables show up.

Overall, I'm undecided about the bangles. What do you think?

ETA: Talk about experimental – have a look at the nekkid knitted chicken that Jessica found.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Let Them Eat Cake

Happy Birthday, Deb and Kim! Here's a virtual cupcake in honor of the day. Chocolate, with lots of frosting, of course.


I regret I missed the party (gentle readers, please give them your good wishes, if you haven't already) and the good company of other Jersey knitters and spinners. At least I did a little spinning in place, in solidarity. That's the STR Wensleydale I bought last summer at The Fold. It's compressed from dyeing, but with a bit of pre-drafting, spins nicely.

Socks That Rock Wensleydale singles

Speaking of solidarity, I've been pondering the arguments in the current strike by the Writers Guild of America (East and West). As is usual, there would seem to be plenty of room for negotiation about money, should the parties desire to settle. But it also would seem the studios are making the extreme claim that publication/distribution via the Internet renders an author's copyright void (while at the same time vigorously defending their own rights against unauthorized reproduction by others). The big studios, giant international corporations all, could easily have outlined a more ethical management position, but that's not happening. Which is why there's unions and strikes and people who won't cross picket lines.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

NaKniSweMoNorovember 8

Like many gardeners roundabout Exit 151, last night I was expecting little Jackie Frost, jr. but Maj. John Frost, sr. showed up instead. That's the end of my veggie patch, except for some leeks the rabbits overlooked and the green bean pods I let mature for possible seed saving.

Bean seeds

I'm curious to see this batch of seeds. The last time I let green beans mature, I got handsome red-blotched broad black seeds that bear no resemblance to the slim black seeds I planted or, for that matter, any edible bean seeds I've ever seen. I use 'em as pie crust weights.

ForThe screamer NaKniSweMoNorovember, I started the ladder cable sweater – and hate it. I really should know better. The cables, which are part barred and part garter, are fascinating. The yarn, Kureyon 149, is lovely. The combination is hideous. Click on the screaming dishcloth if you must have a look, but don't say you weren't warned.

(There oughta be a word to describe gawping at other people's bad knitting, something akin to rubbernecking. I bet Aristotle and Freud would have a lot to say about the cathartic effect. So... actually, providing discreet pix contributes to the commonweal.)

Happily, there are more options in stash. I've switched to Kureyon 166 and Rosedale by Amy Swenson. Here's the first sleeve in progress. I prefer reasonably similar sleeves, so am knitting the sleeves first to increase the possibility of a match.

Rosedale sleeve

Another reason for knitting the sleeves first is I'm undecided about the left front of Rosedale, which has a contrast panel. Sometimes it looks good to me, sometimes not. I want to add faux side seams... hm... to be continued.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Simple Pleasures

Inspired by Deborah's hat binge, I knit up a Bobble Hat Saturday while watching Godzilla Contra Mechagodzilla on Telefutura (original in Japanese, with dubbing in Spanish and random written words in English). It's worked in Kureyon 185, so I'm counting it toward Norovember.

Bobble Hat

On Sunday, I stopped at Stix-n-Stitches for [cough] more yarn – and met Deborah! It's so good to meet a fellow knitblogger IRL. She was wearing a hat, of course. (Alas, I left my digicam at home.)

I love my new hat, although it's still a bit too warm for wool (if you watched coverage of the NYC Marathon, you know that Central Park is still mostly green). But some Bike Helmet Ear Warmers would be nice on morning and evening rides.

The New Jersey General Election is tomorrow – polls are open from from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. The entire state legislature is up for election and there are four ballot questions. One of the ballot questions is so controversial, it's been tied up in court. If you're in NJ and don't know what I'm referencing, better read up and vote – the matter is far too important to be decided by motivated fringe voters.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

NaKniSweMoNorovember the First

Clever Shannon is organizing NaKniSweMo again and clever Kathy is organizing Norovember again and I signed up for both again. If only to cause the babble of incoherent syllables to kick up a notch.

NaKniSweMo button   Norovember button

The goal is to knit a 50,000-stitch Noro sweater in one month. Last year assorted yarn and pattern woes contributed to an ignominious flop. This year I'm going with yarn already in stash, Noro Kureyon in colorway 149, and a pattern from a proven designer, the ladder cable pullover by Norah Gaughan (in Vogue Knitting Fall 1994).

Ladder cable sweater

Halloween night was mild roundabout Exit 151, yet the number of trick-or-treaters was less than anticipated. Puzzling. And what to do with all the leftover candy? The mail carrier left the type of treat I prefer (behind the banner to avoid spoilers, click to view).

Scout's Indie Swag Club

Back in March, I entered the lottery for Scout's Indie Swag Club and won a three-package spot. I didn't post about it then – there was nothing to show and it seemed there were more disappointed knitbloggers lamenting than happy ones celebrating. Time passed. The first packages went out. More time passed (my bundles are scheduled for year-end) and I sorta forgot about it. There's an element of fond anti-climax – I remember the happy anticipation and sock yarn is always very welcome, but now I'm hankering for a stint of sweater-making.