Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

My 12 year old son has learned his pumpkin carving skills from his very talented father. Gone are the days of triangle eyes and a one toothed mouth.

The boys all went out trick or treating last night while I stayed in the nice warm house to pass out candy. We had about 150 trick or treaters come to the door. I was glad to have an easy sock on the needles so I could knit while I waited for the doorbell.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Read all about it

Toe ups with heel

Do you see that? Huh? Do you?
That's the heel on my toe up Trekking sock. Yup. It only took 4 froggings, almost 24 hours, uncounted tutorials, and FINALLY a trip to my LYS in typhoonish weather to get it right. It's still not perfect and I'm not sure exactly what I was doing wrong. I think the problem was that I was actually doing the short rows a stitch too early as I seem to have a hard time understanding on which stitch to work the magic. Next sock I'll use markers or counters or something but I just know it will work out fine.

I do love the way it feels and now comes the easy part. We'll see how the bind off goes as I can not STAND a tight bind off.

In other news ...

I finished my Jaywalkers. I like the way they look and the pattern was very, very easy to memorize. I just don't like the way they feel. The bias stitch gives the sock very little give and my tight gauge makes them feel awfully stiff. They're in the wash now and I'll see if a good wash changes my opinion. Although I really do like the way the pattern looks, I don't see me knitting this pattern again anytime soon.

Friday, October 27, 2006

There is no joy in Mudville

I finished the foot of my Trekking sock tonight and so sat down quietly and patiently - following the directions and pictures of an online tutorial - to knit the heel. I was oh so careful and except for a few glitches felt I did pretty well. I stayed up until midnight and just as I was about to knit the first row around the entire sock to signify that I was done the heel, it occurred to me to try it on. Ugh! Although it looks good just knitted up, on my foot I can see holes like I tried to make lace, all along the side of the heel.

I can't tolerate this. Tomorrow I frog. So sad.

Here's one thing I discovered already that I don't like about short row heels - it's just too hard to put the sock down until it's done. It's a long process and I felt like I couldn't have put the sock down to come back to it later because you're always in the middle of a row. That just doesn't work well in this house with three boys. I'll frog the heel and start over tomorrow but I'm not feeling too good about these toe up socks.

I will admit that I love the toe and I like the idea of being able to use an entire skein of yarn. I'm hoping that practice makes perfect but since I have no idea what I did wrong I'm not feeling very optimistic.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

First Toe Up

As October winds to a close I'm mindful of my Socktoberfest goals. Yesterday I took some time in the afternoon and gathered my yarn, needles, resources, and water. I threatened the boys with death if they made noise and I prepared to attempt my first toe up sock. I've been thinking of this for awhile and didn't like the idea of short rows. The Easy Toe from Sensational Knitted Socks and also featured at Knitty made the most sense to me.

I decided to use some Trekking XXL from my stash ( a new to me yarn) and my KnitPicks circulars and I followed the directions. It wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. A little fiddly but not difficult. I did have a couple of problems. The first problem was that the provisional cast on didn't "unzip" - I had to pull it apart stitch by stitch as I was picking up the stitches. Not a huge deal but kind of a pain. Second problem was that although I had knit 14 stitches into the provisional cast on, when I went to pick them up on the other side I could only find 13. Again, not a big deal. I just did a kfbl on that row to get the correct number of stitches. Last night I did a little online research and figured out that I unzipped from the wrong end and that it is very common not to have enough stitches on the other side so I did well.

Here's my very first toe up toe. I'm rather pleased with it.

First toe up

I did do a little work on my second Jaywalker. I'm not thrilled with the yarn or the pattern so progress is slow because I'm just not motivated. Casting on for something new and fun didn't help. If I put them together I almost have a complete sock.
almost a sock

I am committed to finishing that Jaywalker for Socktoberfest and pledge to work on it for one hour today. I'm looking forward to working on the Trekking sock because once I get the foot complete I get to do my first short row heel. I'm kind of winging the toe up sock. I increased to my usual number of foot stitches (well, I went up to 68 instead of 64 because I'd like it to be a little looser than my last Regia sock) and I'll add in a short row heel and probably do a k2p2 rib at the top unless I get a better idea or suggestion. I am loving the Trekking colors and shading and I think most patterns would get lost in it.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Chocolate swap

My first swap, the Chocolate Swap has officially ended. It was great fun. By the time I found the swap it was almost filled. I begged Abigaill to let me in and promised to send very good chocolate if she would. I loved shopping for my partner and sent out my box very quickly. Thankfully, I also had a speedy partner who sent out my package early.

It was so much fun to get a package in the mail. Shannan sent me the Chocolate Lorna's Laces with which I made the Columbine Peak socks pictured below. I had never used LL before and I fell in love. She also sent me a LOT of chocolate which I'm still enjoying today (as it is hidden in my closet and I ration it out to myself daily).

Last night, I found out I won the drawing to end the swap!!! Yeah!!! I am so excited. I tried to explain my excitement to my husband but he said something like, "That's really nice, hon" and clearly didn't get it. I've won a $25 gift certificate to The Loopy Ewe. I've been checking out their yarns and they all look wonderful. I'm open to anything but I think it would be fun to get a yarn I've never tried before. Something like Sweet Georgia or All Things Heather. A sport weight yarn would be quick to knit up but I worry that I'd run out of yarn with my big honking feet. The merino/tencel blend sounds tempting. Has anyone knit with it yet? The obvious choice would be the Claudia Handpainted yarn in the colorway Chocolate Cherry. I'd love suggestions or opinions.

Thank you, Abigail, for a terrific swap and thank you, Shannan, for being the greatest partner. I can't wait for Chocolate Swap 2.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Columbine Peak Socks finished!

I finished my Columbine Peak socks last night. I just love everything about them - the yarn (Lorna's Laces in Chocolate), the pattern (Columbine Peak from Socks Soar on Two Circs), the fit (especially the ribbing down the instep). Wonderful socks.

Columbine Peak

I cast on for my second Jaywalker sock last night. I'm not terribly excited about it but I want to finish the second sock. I might like them better over time. That does happen sometimes. Part of the problem now is that going from Lorna's Laces to Regia is such a let down. I've always liked Regia. In fact one of my favorite plain vanilla socks is knit from Regia. But knitting with Lorna's Laces is such a joy and using the Regia now feels so rough. I'm hoping to finish it in a week so I can say I completed two pairs of socks for Socktoberfest.

On my feet today ... my Blueberry Waffle socks. This is one of the first pair of socks I ever knit. It's some Opal colorway. They sat in a drawer for years without being worn. I just pulled them out a month ago and wondered why they had been languishing there. They're a fine pair of socks. They fit well and they were knit well. They're quite serviceable as socks and they've been added to the rotation.
Blueberry Waffles

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Frog and Toad

In honor of all the wonderful treats I received from my tea and chocolate swap partners may I present Frog and Toad.


Toad baked some cookies. "These cookies smell very good," said Toad. He ate one. "And they taste even better," he said. Toad ran to Frog's house. "Frog, Frog," cried Toad, "taste these cookies that I have made."

Frog ate one of the cookies, "These are the best cookies I have ever eaten!" said Frog.

Frog and Toad ate many cookies, one after another. "You know, Toad," said Frog, with his mouth full, "I think we should stop eating. We will soon be sick."

"You are right," said Toad. "Let us eat one last cookie, and then we will stop." Frog and Toad ate one last cookie. There were many cookies left in the bowl.

"Frog," said Toad, "let us eat one very last cookie, and then we will stop." Frog and Toad ate one very last cookie.

"We must stop eating!" cried Toad as he ate another.

"Yes," said Frog, reaching for a cookie, "we need willpower."

"What is willpower?" asked Toad.

"Willpower is trying hard not to do something you really want to do," said Frog.

"You mean like trying hard not to eat all these cookies?" asked Toad.

"Right," said Frog.

Frog put the cookies in a box. "There," he said. "Now we will not eat any more cookies."

"But we can open the box," said Toad.

"That is true," said Grog.

Frog tied some string around the box. "There," he said. "Now we will not eat any more cookies."

"But we can cut the string and open the box." said Toad.

"That is true," said Frog. Frog got a ladder. He put the box up on a high shelf.

"There," said Frog. "Now we will not eat any more cookies."

"But we can climb the ladder and take the box down from the shelf and cut the string and open the box," said Toad.

"That is true," said Frog.

Frog climbed the ladder and took the box down from the shelf. He cut the string and opened the box. Frog took the box outside. He shouted in a loud voice. "Hey, birds, here are cookies!" Birds came from everywhere. They picked up all the cookies in their beaks and flew away.

"Now we have no more cookies to eat," said Toad sadly.

"Not even one."

"Yes," said Frog, "but we have lots and lots of willpower."

"You may keep it all, Frog," said Toad. "I am going home now to bake a cake."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Sock books

When I first started knitting socks many years ago, there weren't many sock books being published. The first sock I ever knit was from a pattern in Homespun, Handknit. I've always loved this book. I even like the way it smells (don't ask ... I just think it smells good).

homespun handknit

I bought a few more books and even made a few socks but then I heard about this booklet on the socknitters list.
Ribbing plain and fancy

It's not a very fancy booklet - only 20 pages long with small black and white photographs. At the time it didn't do too much for me because I needed a pattern all nice and printed out for me and this book didn't offer that. It offered a formula which I wasn't ready for at the time. Now that I have my own formula for making socks, I'm thinking it's time to revisit this little booklet.

Does anyone else have this little gem?

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Just waiting patiently ...

I just love waiting for ebay auctions to end. It's so exciting. Right now I have two great auctions ending. I'm selling some Teaching Company tapes that I bought at a yard sale this summer. I bought a big box of tapes (I don't remember how many courses) for $5! Considering the fact that these courses sell for $75 to $200 (or more) a piece, I did well at that yard sale.

My plan is to use all my auction money to buy Christmas presents for the boys. Money is very tight this year and if I could buy all their presents with ebay money it would help a lot. The money from these auctions is earmarked for a special gift for my middle son (I don't dare say what it is because I know he stops by here sometimes when he's online). As soon as the money is deposited into my Paypal account I'll make the purchase before I'm tempted to buy something else with it.

I'm making great progress on my Irish Hiking Scarf. It's over 5o inches long now and looks great. It's the perfect baseball knitting scarf because it requires almost no concentration. It's also a great project because every 8 rows when you complete a cable there's a great sense of accomplishment. More baseball tomorrow and I predict more Irish Hiking Scarf knitting. Tomorrow should be my son's last baseball game of the year. The end of the season has come at a good time as he has a serious finger injury that I only discovered yesterday. I feel like a terrible mother for not paying more attention when he said he jammed his finger but boys are always getting hurt and I almost never give more attention than the time it takes to adminster some ibuprofen and tape it up. This time I should have paid more attention. Hopefully, the finger will heal completely and he will regain full use of it (if you're the praying type, Adam could really use some healing prayers).

The second Columbine Peak sock is at the heel. Yeah! The foot should go quickly as I know exactly how many pattern repeats I need before the toe. That's one reason I love patterns with repeats - it makes making the second sock the same much easier.

Off to check those auctions.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I taught my friend, Jenn, to knit last month. I didn't really want to as I thought it would be very difficult. Jenn is, well, uh hard to describe but I thought she'd knit very, very tightly and it's always hard to teach people to loosen their death grips on the needles. I was in for a big surprise, however, because Jenn learned quickly and does not knit tightly at all. She's not very adventurous yet but she has finished a nice scarf and has started a second one.

Jenn was telling me that my knitting philsophy is very different from our friend, Jane's. Jane believes that mistakes in knitting give the piece character, make it "unique". I, on the other hand, examine every mistake to decide whether or not I can live with it. Most of the time I can't live with the mistake and I have to fix it.

This morning I finished the second repeat on the leg of my second Columbine Peak sock. I messed up somewhere and while I could "fix" it I knew it would never look right. In fact, I wasn't happy with much of the sock. Now I hate to frog. Really, really hate it but I ripped back all the way to the ribbing. Then I let the sock rest for the day while I worked on my Irish Hiking Scarf. I sat down tonight and the pattern just flowed. Everything just felt better and looks better. I'm just about done the second repeat now.

How do you feel about mistakes in your knitting? Do you think they add character or will it drive you crazy just knowing it's there?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Happy Anniversary, honey

Today is my 14th wedding anniversary. I feel very lucky to be able to say that I love my husband more today than the day I married him. He's a wonderful husband and father and I could not have asked for a better person to spend my life with.

Beth & Jeff

In other news ... I finished my first Columbine Peak sock. I needed to add an extra repeat to the foot for my super huge feet but that one repeat did the trick. I love the way they look and feel.
Columbine PeakColumbine Peak close up

I've wound the yarn for the second sock and I'll get it on the needles this afternoon.

Now I just need to decide what to cook for dinner tonight. We'll go out another night so I'd like to cook something special tonight.

Monday, October 09, 2006

My first sock

This is the first item I ever knit. I didn't start with a scarf or a hat or a dishcloth. I started with a Christmas stocking.

Way, way back in 1992 I was at my brother-in-law's house for the family Christmas. There were stockings hung by the fire for each of us. They were nice stockings - from LLBean mostly - but one stocking stood out from the rest. It was kind of raggety looking but it was obviously handmade. My mother-in-law told me that a neighbor had made it for the oldest boy soon after he was born but they moved away and the younger boys never got hand knit stockings.

I got an idea that I could knit Christmas stockings for the whole family by the next Christmas. I had never knit a stitch and didn't know a thing about knitting but it seemed like a good idea. In March of 1993 I visited a friend who worked at a LYS on Sundays. I told her my plan and we picked out a pattern and yarn together. I bought what I thought was very expensive Lamb's Pride Worsted Weight wool in many colors and one pattern. Even though I knew nothing about knitting I figured I could make each stocking similar but individual by changing the motifs on the leg of the stocking.

What was my friend thinking? Can you imagine leading someone to this pattern as their first knitting project?

knitting pattern

I decided to knit my stocking first figuring it would have the most mistakes. I then went on to knit my husband's and one each for my mother-in-law, father-in-law and younger brother-in-law. During that year I also got pregnant for the first time and was very, very sick. I plugged on determined to finish the stockings by Christmas. I was duplicate stitching the final name on the drive to Connecticut. I had everyone open their gifts on Christmas Eve (even though this is against the rules at my brother-in-law's house) and everyone was very surprised. My father-in-law, who is a man of few words, told me it was the nicest gift he ever received.

I have gone on to make stockings for each of my three boys as well as my girlfriend's oldest daughter. I have come to hate this pattern. I know my girlfriend wants stockings for her other two daughters and I do have one of them halfway done but I just can't get the motivation to finish it. It languishes at the bottom of my knitting bag.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

If you can't knit ...

Bake. Apple pie cooling on the back deck. Mmmmmm

When you live in New England, you live for weekends like this one. The fall leaves are all in bloom, the air is crisp and clean, you can smell woodsmoke in the air, and the days have surprisingly warm temperatures.

Yesterday, we spent most of the day at soccer and baseball games. It was a glorious day to be outside and there were victories all around. After a quick lunch, we headed out to the apple orchard where we picked 2 bushels of apples.

Half of the apples are for eating and the other half are for cooking. This morning I made a small batch of applesauce with the apples we picked a couple of weeks ago and I made an apple pie with apples we picked yesterday. I have many, many more pies to make and many, many more jars of applesauce to freeze.

Last night, although we were exhausted (in the very good, full day kind of way) my husband and I went on an impromptu date. It was just too nice not to take advantage of the weather. We headed to Portsmouth and walked around - poking in and out of shops that I can't go into when I have the boys. I saw many cool tea goodies that I'd love to send to a Tea Swap partner so I hope there's a Tea Swap 3. I saw Portsmouth Tea tins for the first time. I had no idea we had a local tea company.

To top off the night, my husband and I went to a local cafe and had unbelievable chocolate desserts and hot drinks. It was a great date.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


In preparation for a hard frost, it was necessary to pick the remaining flowers from the garden.

yellow sunflower

red sunflower

Friday, October 06, 2006

Let the blogging begin ...

My computer is finally back from the shop complete with a new motherboard and power source. I have so much to catch up on.

First in line is my tea swap package. My package from Michelle O. is amazing and I love every bit of it.

First, the tea ...
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the mug. It might be my favorite part of the package. Paired with the Awake tea it's beyond compare. It's everything I love in a mug - handcrafted, a good heft and feel, and plenty large. I've only tried the Awake tea so far but I think I'll have the breakfast tea tomorrow before I head out into the cold for soccer.

Next, the yarn ...
tea swap yarn
Socks that Rock in Titania. It's a beautiful colorway. I just might have to try my first pair of toe up socks with this yarn. The yardage is a big shorter and I have BIG feet. Toe up is the way to go to appreciate all the yarn.
Aren't the needles beautiful? The amazing thing is that I'm making the Irish Hiking Scarf and they use this size needles. I promptly moved my scarf to my new needles and I've been loving them.

Finally, the goodies ...
tea swap goodies
What can I say? Chocolate and cookies - enough for 3 hungry boys and a mom who shares somewhat grudgingly.

I am so grateful for my package. It made a miserable week much, much more bearable.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

When it rains it pours

Or bad things come in threes.
Either way it's been a pretty bad week.

First the motherboard died on my computer. 'Nuf said.

Then I had some serious medical problems (which I think are now resolved).

And finally, tonight my 3 1/2 year old refrigerator has died. Right after I did the grocery shopping. I spent the night looking for the receipt and I can't find it anywhere (though I did find many receipts for many other things). We had to throw out a ton of food but were able to salvage the freezer food because we have a freezer in the garage. The fridge will be a mess tomorrow. Hopefully the store will have a record of our purchase because I know exactly when I purchased it and it's a small store. Either way we need to get it fixed and don't have the money to do so. 3 year old refrigerators should not die.

So I've got lots of lemons and I'm finding it hard to make lemonade but here goes.

The computer is under warranty and should be returned by Friday. I have so many great photos to share and I can't wait.

I think I found a new doctor who will actually work with me and treat me like a real person. I met with her today and she's willing to work with me to treat my illness.

Finally, well ... there's not one good thing to say about the fridge situation.

My Irish Hiking Scarf is now 40 inches long and looks very nice. The new doctor admired it when she saw me knitting. She told me that she likes to knit scarfs but mostly knits SOCKS. A doctor who knits socks. It must be karma.

The Columbine Peaks socks are coming along nicely. I started the heel tonight. I just love the yarn and the pattern seems to be perfect for it.

It's Fall in New England. That's always a great thing.

Monday, October 02, 2006

What a mother!

It's the freaking motherboard! The motherboard on my 9 month old computer has died. Ugh! I had this computer built for us after we ordered a Dell and when it arrived found out it was a lemon. I love the company that built our computer - especially because they are a local company - but I'm pretty frustrated. We've had 2 fans replaced and now the motherboard. There shouldn't be this many hardware problems in 9 months. Ugh, again. The motherboard should be arrive by Thursday and I should have my computer back by Friday. Until then I blog pictureless.

What a time to be unable to upload pictures. First my Chocolate Swap package arrived (and believe me, it's picture worthy) and then today my Tea Swap package arrived (and it is a doozy). My tea package was FILLED with good stuff including a skein of Socks that Rock. I've been wanting to try that for quite awhile but I'm on a yarn diet. I also got a beautiful pottery mug which I'm drinking out of as I type. I won't go into any more detail until I can upload pics. The silver lining is that I can drown my computer blues in tea, chocolate, cookies and yarn.

In my tea package was a wonderful pair of wooden knitting needles with beads on the ends. I've never knitted with straight needles before but these are size 8 and the Irish Hiking Scarf is on size 8s (little double pointed needles that the scarf keeps falling off of) so I'll be able to transfer the Irish Hiking Scarf to new needles tonight. Isn't that an amazing coincidence?

I need to leave notes for my swap partners on their blogs because I am a very, very grateful swap recipient. I only hope that my swap partners are half as happy with their packages.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Blogging without pictures

Blogging without pictures is like:

  • cookies without chocolate
  • apples without pie
  • hugs without kisses
  • October without the Red Sox (oh, but that's REALLY, REALLY sad)

Blogging without pictures is really, really boring. I've taken some great pictures that I'd love to share. I started the Irish Hiking Scarf and it's moving along very quickly. It's over 33 inches long now and I just started my second skein of Lamb's Pride. I brought it with me to soccer yesterday and knit through large parts of two games. I also brought it to baseball last night but temperatures around 50 degrees prevented me from getting too much knitting done.

The pattern for the Irish Hiking Scarf is simple and easy to memorize. The Lamb's Pride is just bulky enough and the size 8 needles feel huge. It's very gratifying to have something knit up so fast. I see more of these in my future.

I talked to the computer guru yesterday and things were not looking good for my computer. It's a hardware problem and they can't figure out why the computer won't start. Good thing it's under warranty. I'm grateful to have my old computer and I don't dare say anything bad about it but I really want my computer back. My husband will see if he can work something out so I can upload pics later but hopefully the computer will be back very, very soon.

The real bright spot in my weekend is that I received my package from my Chocolate Swap partner, Shannan. She went all out. It really cheered me up yesterday. I almost cried when I got the package. I don't want to say too much about it without pictures so I'll wait to blog about all my chocolately goodness but let me say that Dove chocolate covered almonds are one of my all time favorite treats, hot cocoa with cinnamon was great after spending many hours on the sidelines yesterday, and Lorna's Laces chocolate yarn is on my needles now to make my Socktoberfest socks.

(Please forgive the lack of links. I don't like to have too many windows open at one time on this computer)