All I can make are idiot socks

Dear Lindsay,

As I write this, it is Saturday morning here, but it’s a couple of hours into Sunday where you are, so I want to wish you a happy birthday. Enjoy that breakfast sausage; you’ve earned it.

As you can see, I’ve gotten nowhere trying to keep up with our KAL, but I have managed to do a bit of knitting. These are socks for my lovely friend who sends me the Advanced Reader Copy of books by an author you don’t read. She sends me the new book every year, several months before it’s published, and I read it, send it back to her, and periodically I knit something as a thank you. These are pretty standard top-down, 64 stitches around, on 2.25 mm DPNs but with a short-row heel (wrap and turn method) because I like the way W&T looks in self-striping yarn. She hasn’t said if they fit her yet, but I’m really hoping they do; I had to go by her shoe size.

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These are new socks for me. I broke down and got past the hyperbole and spent $1 on the Fish Lips Kiss Heel pattern. I dutifully made my cardboard foot tracing and used the formula to determine when to start the heel, and what do you know? It actually worked well. This sock is toe-up on a 2.25 mm circular needle, and I hit the sweet spot in length because I finished the bind off about 24 inches from where is started the toe, so I can make the stripes match.

(I’ve now edited and added the picture of the heel. It fits very well, and it meets my need for symmetry by looking virtually identical on both sides, something that most other short-row heels do not).

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In looking at my Ravelry notebook, I’ve completed only 4 projects this year, none of them particularly challenging. I would love to be able to knit more, and I’ve started some other projects, only to frog them, and I’ve swatched a few things as well, but nothing’s come of any of the swatches. Someday, though, hopefully within the next 6 months, I will graduate with my BS, and I will have more time to knit and to read for pleasure. In the meantime, I’m making socks that do not require me to think and knocking off the occasional dishcloth or baby sweater. I will, someday, be ready to finish our epic KAL.

Did I mention that I’m starting to think pretty seriously about getting an MBA in Healthcare Management through WGU?

Anyway, I miss you a lot, and I wish you the happiest possible birthday.

Love,

Connie

The Agony of Defeat

Dear Lindsay,

I give up. I just can’t make the Slip and Slide socks work. I’ve changed yarn, changed needles, and changed my expectations, but no matter what I manipulate, either the socks are going to auto-amputate my feet just above the ankle, or the stockinette gauge for the sole is going to be such that I will walk holes in the soles within approximately 2 wearings. Neither alternative is acceptable, so I think I have to move on. Someday, I have high hopes that I will find a (possibly sport-weight) yarn that I can use and make these socks work for me, because they really are pretty and very fun to knit, but until that time, I think we should move to another sock in the book. I can’t have nothing on the needles for too long; I’ll get cranky.

How do you feel about The Mock Cables and Lace socks?

Love,
Connie

P.S. It feels like it’s about a million degrees here lately, and no rain at all, and yet I still want to play with wool. I may be a knitting addict. Obviously, though, the only 12 steps I need are the ones that lead me to the LYS.

Finished Baby Items

Dear Connie,

Actual knitting content!  Wonders never cease.

A woman in my knitting group here, the Okinawa Yarnies, is expecting her second baby later this month.  Remembering how much I loved the one you made for Leah, I decided to finally try my hand at the Baby Surprise Jacket:

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Now, because this is the recipient’s second child, I wanted to make something for the soon-to-be big brother.  The way I see it, it’s kind of a raw deal when you’re used to being an only child, then you get a new baby in the house that gets all the attention PLUS a whole bunch of presents.

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These projects were so much fun to knit, and the recipient was very surprised and touched when I gave them to her, which is so gratifying.

I also got my Ruby Red off the needles and blocked, but it needs buttons before it’s ready to present to the world.  Soon!

I miss you a ton.

Love, Lindsay

Finally Finished

Dear Lindsay,

Today, the skies opened, the sun shone, and choirs of small children sang, because I finally finished the Knot Socks! Here they are in all their glory.

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They are very pretty, and the yarn is just delightful (Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Terrywinkle), but the best word I can think of to describe these is tedious. The pattern is deceptive because when you look at it, you don’t immediately see that large chunks of this sock are 1×1 ribbing on soul-crushingly tiny needles. It’s a scam, I tell you, a scam!

I finished the second one last night while I was watching Miracle (again). It’s a surprisingly good movie to knit to, partly because I’ve seen it a bunch of times, and not in small part because I know how it turns out (having been a teenager when the actual Miracle on Ice game was played). It does make me a little sad at how badly it fails the Bechdel Test, but you can’t have everything.

This morning, I did the little photo shoot for the picture above for the sock and then went to try them on, and they’ve gone to live in Amanda’s room because they are simply too tight for me. I worked on those socks for 99 days (yes, I just found an elapsed time calculator on Google so I could check), only to find out at the end that they don’t fit me. Fortunately, Amanda’s feet are just that little bit smaller than mine that they fit her beautifully. If they had been too small for her, I might have just burst into tears.

In other news, I’m deeply immersed in IT classes and preparing for the first half of the test that will get me A+ certified. In fact, I’ll be taking practice tests for several hours today before I wander over to my mom’s house to watch the Oscars tonight. I’ll also be thinking about the yarn I’m going to use for our next sock in the KAL, and I’ll let you know when I’ve got that picked and am ready to start.

Love, Connie

Robbed by the Wind: the True Non-Story of the Flight of the HMS Auspicious Kanji

Dear Connie,

I’m feeling pretty hateful toward all my knitting right now (and a number of other things) so instead I will describe a recent adventure on Okinawa.  Please bear in mind that I have no idea how many of the traditions described below are entirely fabricated by a bored coworker.

New Year is a pretty huge deal in Japan.  One of my coworkers said that on January second, the kids paint Kanji words with auspicious meanings.  He brought in a bunch of stuff and we did a lunchtime art project.  Mine says “wealth.”

Then you’re supposed to burn your paper on January 14th.  The person whose paper goes the highest while burning is meant to have good fortune.  At first this was taken to mean that we would be rich in the words that we had painted, but it ended up that you were just supposed to have good handwriting that year?  I don’t know.

I took the burning idea to another level, and built a hot air balloon out of my paper:

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Meet the HMS Auspicious Kanji.  The bottom part holds a votive and is constructed out of a toilet paper tube and washi tape.  (Holy crap, washi tape is awesome.)

As January 14th approached, we struggled for locations to burn our Kanji.  We ended up going to the beach.

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I have extensive (humiliating) video and photo documentation of the utter failure that my balloon ended up being.  I burned the paper top, blamed the windy beach on its flight issues, and decided to sell my story to Lifetime.

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Look for it this Summer, “Robbed by the Wind: the True Non-Story of the Flight of the HMS Auspicious Kanji.”  I will be played by Juliette Binoche, I have no doubt.

Other things that are happening:

  • I knit Leah some doll dresses for her birthday.  She loves them and demanded more!Dresses
  • Leah also got her first yarn and needles and we’ve been having a row or two of knitting lessons in the evening.  Maybe next time I’ll post a video of her chanting, “In through the front door, once around the back, peek through the window, and off jumps Jack!”
  • Only 4 out of 5 crates of our stuff arrived, but soooooo much is missing I’m wondering how it could all have just been in one crate.

Hope everything is good in WA.  I’ll try to be more knitterly next time.

Love, Lindsay

Sweater (and sock) Time!

Dear Lindsay,

Since last I wrote, I have completed things and started new ones.

First we have the wee sweater and hat for That Boy’s best friend’s baby (soon to be born). You know how I love the BSJ, and this variation on an “umbilical cord” hat worked in fingering weight yarn goes well with it. Those are waiting to be given to the expectant daddy, I believe today.

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Then we have “our” knitting. I finished the first of the Knot Socks, and I have the second on the needles. I have 1 full pattern repeat done on leg, but the tiny needles and yarn are killing my hands right now. I find I’m knitting these really tightly for some reason, and that’s making the achy hand worse. It’s really weird, you’d think with my constant fear that I’m going to snap one of the 2 mm Harmony DPNs that I’m using for these, I’d ease up my grip, but it’s not working out like that. So knitting on these continues at a slower rate. I can do about half a pattern repeat (so about 10 rounds) before my hands tell me it’s time to do something else.

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The other night, that something else was playing with a swatch from Miss Babs (sent with my HiyaHiya interchangeables). I had forgotten about the tiny skein of yarn that was sent with the needles until I went looking for the Krydda pattern so I could start it. For some reason, I had tucked the skein into my 3-ring binder o’ printed patterns. Since it was DK weight, I grabbed US 4 (3.5 mm) needles and made a tiny swatch (it’s 10 yards of yarn, so very tiny swatch). The yarn is pretty amazing; it kind of reminds me of BMFA Socks that Rock in terms of roundness, smoothness, and bounce. In a solid or semi-solid, I could see a great textured stitch pattern sweater in this yarn. In this sort of colorway, you’d lose a pattern, but the colors are really nice, even though when I was knitting it up, it was later in the day, and I swore all the blues were actually green. I couldn’t see the actual color until the next morning when I took the picture.

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And for what I did yesterday, I finally started Krydda. The Dream in Color Classy is, as you know, really delightful to knit with. Softy, smooth, bouncy, and the colors blend really nicely. I was a little concerned when I was swatching because I thought the swatch colors were kind of jarring, but over a larger stitch count, the different shades of blue and purple are blending much more subtly, which is especially important since there’s going to be lace incorporated once I get to that point in the pattern.

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In other news, Christmas has come and gone with my usual amount of fanfare (that is to say, none), and I’m not officially doing anything with school until next week when my second term starts (there are rules about how late in a term you can add a class or take a test, and since That Boy is home, I’m not pushing myself too hard).

I can’t believe it’s almost 2015. Where did this year go?

Love,

Connie

Project Surrogate Sock

Dear Connie,

On Monday night (Knit Night), one of the ladies in my knitting group arrived visibly upset.  She had two pairs of socks started (toe up, two at a time) and hadn’t gotten much past the increases.  They were her first socks, but their unfinished nature was starting to wear on her.

She’ll be leaving the island next year, and I can completely understand the frustration inherent in moving long-term UFOs.  Sometimes we knitters can ball up all our life’s frustrations into a knitting difficulty, then grow to fixate upon and despise the project (Lingerie sock melt-down, anyone?).

Together, we frogged both pairs of socks.  They had been worked at too large a gauge and with too many increases so it was best to start fresh.  I gave her a brief rundown of Stephanie’s marvelous Good, Plain Sock.  After a bit of pleading and a bag of bribery yarn, I took the yarn for one pair home with me.

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Meet the Surrogate Sock.  I don’t have any idea what the yarn is, but it’s a thickish fingering/sport weight.  She likes short-legged socks and is only a size 8, so this practically flew off the US 3’s.  The bribery yarn was insane – more on that later – but the long and short of it is this:

I know how it is to look at a failed project and mentally ascribe all the incompletes and inadequates that our lives can fill up with.  This is a small thing to me, a week or so of knitting, and it will make a woman who has been kind and friendly to me happy.

***

I haven’t done much with my own knitting.  We’ve moved into the house, received our first shipment of goods, and managed to slog through Christmas.  This is a crap time of year to move house with a little kid, but she seemed to have a very good holiday.

Now if I can only make it through her birthday…

Love Lindsay