Two weeks ago I was idly exchanging blog comments and emails with Ashley. She said something about coming east but not all the way to Rhode Island. I said something about wait, what, where in the “east” are you coming, and she offhandedly said, oh, Philadelphia, and I was like, dude, when? And she said, next week, and I was like, DUDE, I AM GOING TO BE IN PHILADELPHIA FOR WORK NEXT WEEK. And then she was like OMG!!!!!11!! And three days later:
Yes, readers, you are seeing correctly. That’s not clever Photoshop. That’s me sitting next to Ashley of Dogged Knits. She’s wearing her awesome chevron scarf. I’m wearing my not-at-all-itchy-no-siree alpaca scarf. She’s holding her Jaywalker-in-progress. I also had a sock in hand, but it turns out I am not able to hold a camera at arm’s length, smile woodenly, AND hold an object aloft at the same time. It’s just too much.
My work schedule and her family outing schedule gave us only two hours together, but we got lucky and got two cushy chairs at Starbucks in which to pass our time together (after Ashley stood in the long annoying line to get our beverages — how many of you can say that Ashley has stood in line for your chai tea, hmmmm?). We then took a picture of our feet (my Hederas and her Jaywalkers) and settled in for some furious sock knitting and gabbing for the duration of our too-short time together.
Ashley is just exactly like I imagined she would be except taller and more curly-haired. She also exceeded my high expectations for dry humor and good company. And her airport limousine service was worth every penny I paid for it. The only downside of our meetup was predictable: now I’m even sorrier that our paths are unlikely to cross with any regularity. Is it better to have met a favorite knitblogger and lost than never to have met a favorite knitblogger at all?
My get-together with Ashley was not my only knitting-related activity in Philadelphia. I had expected to have various work appointments during the daytime before my work conference began, but they didn’t materialize and I had an entire day in the city to kill. This, combined with a birthday gift certificate to Loop from my sister (who lives within 4 blocks of both Loop and Rosie’s Yarn Cellar, the lucky duck), combined with my newfound resolve to keep all LYSs in business, combined with my weakened will power in the face of sock yarn thanks to Erika, resulted in these lovely purchases. The colors aren’t terribly accurate in this photo, but I love them all: Koigu PPPM in neutral colors with just a tiny hint of purple (it is actually less purple than it looks here — more taupe); Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in Gold Hill; and Claudia’s Handpainted Yarn in “Oops” (a name that reflects the fact that I intended to buy yarn for only one pair of socks at Loop).
See how nicely they’re all wound? This (in the photo) is how I did it. I’d heard about this tip (to unscrew the thingy at the top of a lamp so that the lampshade spins freely) long ago on the Knittyboard but had been skeptical; however, after spending a full 35 minutes at my ball winder fighting with the last 30 yards of a recent ball of sock yarn, I was ready to try anything (and I’m glad this worked, because the only other remaining option was to drop $65 on a swift). It not only worked, it worked flawlessly. Now if only I could sell tickets to my captive audience, I could fund future sock yarn purchases.
Okay, thank you all for sitting so nicely through my sock-yarn discussion when I know you’re really here to see who won yarn in my blogiversary contest. The answers, quickly, are as follows: 1) Oklahoma! 2) Once on This Island 3) Peter Pan 4) Carousel 5) Into the Woods 6) Phantom (not the Andrew Lloyd Webber version, the better version) 7) Sweeney Todd 8) The King and I 9) The Secret Garden 10) Cinderella (Rogers and Hammerstein).
As for the bonus, two people guessed that all the shows are based on previous material (a play, novel, or fairy tale). While this is not what I had in mind, I am forced to admit it is true (though I will grudgingly point out that it is far more difficult to find a musical not based on previous material than one that is). My (self-involved) answer? I was in all of these musicals as a teenager. Anyway, I’ve decided to award credit to either answer.
Seventeen brave readers submitted guesses (including Shelley, who hilariously guessed “Oklahoma” for every lyric and suggested that the bonus trivia was that they were all from “Oklahoma”), and four people got maximum points. Of these four, a random number generator has selected SarahJanet as the winner! Congratulations, Sarah! Email me with your choice of the two colors.
As for the comment-based contest, the person who will receive Sarah’s rejected yarn is HPNY Knits! Email me with mailing address info and I’ll send the prizes along to you both.
Thank you all for playing along and confessing your theater geekiness, your lack thereof, or your willingness to fake it for a prize.
Yesterday was my second blogiversary. (It turns out it is a remarkably common blogiversary, and I share it with, at a minimum, Keanalee and Amy — apparently the government was beaming lots of “start a blog” rays from its secret mind-control centers in the so-called Grand Canyon on March 14, 2005.) Anyway, it seems that the thing to do when one has a blogiversary is to have a contest. I could not for the life of me think of an inventive knitting- or blogging-related contest, so I’m going the random route.
I was impressed that some of you were able to identify my semi-obscure showtune lyric in my last post (“Winter’s on the Wing” from The Secret Garden — it’s actually a pretty awesome song even if you’re not a huge fan of musicals in general). This gave me an idea for a blogiversary contest. I used to be a pretty huge musical theater geek, and I’m interested in teasing out whom among my readers is hiding a similar past. Below are lyrics from 10 showtunes from 10 different musicals. Send me an email (rachel at licketyknit dot com — don’t leave your answers in a comment unless you want the unworthy masses to steal them) identifying as many as you can (you only need to name the show, though the song title is nice too). Each correct answer is worth one point, and don’t forget the bonus trivia, worth three points!
By the way, the snippets are in image format because this would be a really easy contest to cheat at using Google. I hope you won’t, but if you must, I wanted to make it slightly harder for you.
The prize will be the winner’s choice of these two cones of laceweight tencel. At the time I acquired it, I wrote, “This is beautiful stuff, and people online rave about the drape and sheen of the shawls it knits up. The colors are incredibly saturated and are a pleasure to look at.” (I then followed that by saying that the colors actually weren’t very “me,” which is the reason I’m willing to part with them now.) I’m not at all sure of the yardage, but there is way more than enough to make yourself a very large laceweight anything.
The second prize (prepared to be shocked, here) will be the cone of yarn not selected by the first prize winner. You receive the second prize by being selected by random number generator if you comment on this post. I’m having a really stressful week, however, so I’m going to be self-serving and award two entries into the random drawing to anyone whose comment makes me smile — whether it’s funny, sweet, obsequious flattery, or biting social commentary.
This is the part where I tell you how much blogging means to me and how it has changed my life. Frankly, I have a love-hate relationship with blogging. I like that it makes me write once a week. I don’t like that I feel guilty and stressed if I haven’t written in over a week. I like that I have a detailed chronicling of my knitting efforts. I don’t like that I sometimes think of my knitting as performance (“how well will this blog?”) rather than for its own sake. I like the fun and interesting things I learn from reading my readers’ blogs. I don’t like that the extensive time I spend on blogging-related activities cuts heavily into knitting time. All that said, the fact is that the good far outweighs the bad or I would have quit long ago. And when I think about the people that I would not have “met” — either in real life in some lucky instances or still only in cyberspace — it is vividly clear to me that this whole undertaking is worth it. Thank you all for making it worth it.
Now show me your theater geek pedigree!
After the brash celebration of my own generosity and the gloriously good nature of my own heart in my last post, it seems only right to give other gift-givers their due (there! more evidence of my kind and munificent nature!), as I am lucky enough to have been on the receiving end of such generosity recently.
I was pleased and surprised when Erika of Sloth Knits (and my bus knitting friend) came to my informal birthday party last month. I kicked it up a notch to thrilled and floored when she presented me with a gift certificate to the local yarn store! You see, Erika has taken it upon herself to exacerbate my recent sock yarn weakness. She gave it to me with the intention of tempting me with the store’s new stock of Colinette Jitterbug. She didn’t realize that this minorly devious gesture would open the sock yarn flood gates for me, but for now let’s leave that as foreshadowing of my next post.
Last weekend Erika and I met up at Starbucks for a little knitting in public (she on Eunny’s Bayerische Socks, I on a lame little soap holder for Ashley, but that’s more foreshadowing for my next post), and then we headed over to the LYS so I could spend my birthday present. I will say that the Jitterbug colorways were very nice. However, has it ever happened to you where you go into a store and you look at a wall of sock yarn and you just immediately fixate on one of the colorways — it just locks in perfectly with your current mood or your personal rods and cones or your horoscope — and you can’t seriously consider any other options? That’s what happened to me. I saw this blue and silvery gray yarn and it made me think of frozen streams slowly starting to thaw, and I don’t know, maybe it was the unseasonably warm March day, or maybe it was the fact that it suddenly triggered a thematically related Broadway musical song on my jingle channel (“I said be gone, ye howling gales/Be off, ye frosty morns/All ye solid streams begin to thaw” — anyone want to name it?), but all I wanted was that melty stream yarn and even though it was Artyarns Ultramerino, Erika didn’t mind that I got it instead of the Jitterbug. I have a pair of socks in Artyarns Ultramerino already and they have held up incredibly well and are the softest of all my handknit socks. I’ve already started knitting my new yarn. Thank you, Erika!
New Knitting Bag
One of my first projects when I returned to knitting two years ago was a felted knitting bag. It didn’t come out terribly well — I attached the handles incorrectly and didn’t exactly pick the awesomest colors or design — but it served me well. However, when I started wandering around Etsy waiting for Ashley to post more of her cool bedwarmers, my attention was captivated by some of the beautiful bags being produced by independent crafters. I mentioned this to my mom, and she and my stepfather agreed that they would get me the handmade bag of my choice for my birthday. After frittering away approximately 200 hours agonizing over the choice, I contacted a seller whose bags I liked (mintworkshop) and asked her if she would be willing to do a custom order.
She was, and this is the result. I adore it. It is beautifully made and meets my every specification (clicking this photo will take you to Flickr, where you can get an in-depth tour of the interior). It is very roomy but not so big that it’s not easy to grab and take with me anyplace knitting might be required or permitted. It stands at attention at the side of the couch, making it easy to access its contents. It is conservative yet attractive. It is one of a kind. I also like that I was able to support another passionate crafter. Etsy is way cool. Thank you, Mom and Mark!
When I moved all my stuff from my old knitting bag into my new knitting bag, I felt a little sad for the old one. I wasn’t quite sure what future use I’d ever find for a dingy, misshapen bag, but I really didn’t want to just throw it away. Fortunately someone else in the household found a new use for it, and neither of us could be happier about it.
Lastly, I have been remiss about thanking my good friends Andrew and Leigh for this abundant woolly goodness. Andrew and Leigh went on a six month jaunt through South America, and somewhere along the way (the island of Chiloe, to be precise) they picked up these two giant skeins of yarn, essentially straight off the sheep. Apparently Leigh sat down in the street and wound them into balls immediately, and then the two of them lugged them along on the entire rest of their journey (and this was a backpacking and camping kind of trip, not a luxury transport and Four Seasons hotels kind of trip, so I do not underestimate the commitment it took to haul these babies around).
When Andrew and Leigh came by our house for the first time after returning, they walked in carrying these and the very first thing they said to us — after six long months away — was “BALLS!” (Apparently they had been making this joke to each other regularly for several weeks, often accompanied by juvenile yet hilarious behavior.) I haven’t yet decided what these balls will become — probably something felted (something about the context here makes me want that to sound dirty, but I don’t think it actually works as innuendo, sadly). Thanks, Andrew and Leigh!
And just so you don’t think I’ve become all get and no give, I sent off these squares for the Blanket of Hope that Rebekah at Knit Knack is putting together for Sonya at Cottage 46 Knitter, whose husband has been struggling with some cancer-related health issues. I think it’s incredibly kind that she organized this effort, and the outpouring of support has been so great that she actually has all the squares she needs now. I can’t wait to see the finished blanket. May all our knitted hope translate into a very hopeful prognosis for your husband, Sonya, for years and years to come.
Later this week: Ashley! And sock yarn! And Minty’s arch nemesis! And my blogiversary!
Aaaack! I completely screwed up my template and I have no idea how! Don’t abandon me, blog readership. I have put up a pre-installed temporary template just so you don’t have to look at black text on a white background (the horror!), but tonight I should have a chance to do a permanent fix.
I had been planning a redesign in honor of my upcoming blogiversary, but I didn’t expect it to be quite so abrupt. On the bright side, I actually kind of like this template and may use it as the basis for my redesign.
On June 13, 2005 (my junior high school boyfriend’s birthday — why is my brain still devoting space to remembering that?), a knitter named Laura commented on my blog for the first time. Since then she has commented 85 more times. She has twice sent me gifts of yarn in the mail. We email often and sometimes Google chat during the day. I am even planning to go to Texas to visit her sometime this year. She is without question one of my closest and oldest “blogfriends.”
A few weeks ago Laura responded to a post in which I confessed my love of sock knitting and admitted my betrayal of her as co-founder of the Apathetic Sock Knitters Club. In her comment she said: “I have to admit that I actually want some wool socks this winter. (It’s amazing how cold the first floor of our house is when the other two floors are a pleasant temperature.) However, I’m trying to find ways to have socks knit for me rather than having to knit them myself.”
I wrote back asking whether she wanted thick warm socks, or thin socks she could wear with shoes. It is important that you know here that I was asking this question with one thing in mind: I had recently used Knitpicks Shamrock yarn for a Christmas stocking for my stepmother and had been thinking what cozy socks it would make, so I asked Laura her preference with the intention of making a recommendation of that yarn if she said she wanted the former. When I got Laura’s response, however, I realized that my question had implied something quite different: “Thin socks to wear with shoes would be ideal. I like pinks, reds, and purples, but I probably didn’t have to tell you that.”
Whoops! I started to write back explaining my original intention, but then I realized, you know what? I could make socks for Laura. Not only would it be a nice thing to do for a person I really like, but it would mean she probably couldn’t reasonably expect to get away with harassing me about abandoning the ASKC ever again. Within an hour I’d ordered the yarn. Knowing that the “cold” season in Texas was passing us by very quickly, I cast on the moment I received it and knit nothing else for the 10 days it took me to complete the socks (Laura will probably feel compelled to point out here that she knit an entire Starsky in only 2 days more than that, but I have never claimed to be a particularly fast knitter).
Speaking of Laura’s Starky, when I was just starting the second stock, knitting furiously away, Laura posted this on her blog. In that post she a) called me longwinded, b) suggested I was a nag and a pest, c) accused me of wanting her to make Starsky only so I could lord it over that she was copying me (never mind that I first discovered Laura when I saw her gorgeous Reversible Rib Shawl and had to knit one of my own immediately), and d) declared it her intention to drive me insane with jealousy with her superfast knitting.
My jaw dropped. I looked down at the mess of yarn and DPNs in my lap, which a moment before had been a lovingly handknit gift for a dear friend. At that moment it almost became a lovingly handknit gift for myself. But then I realized that I could do even better: I could send her the socks anyway and then relish the shame and remorse she would feel for ever having defamed the character of such as saint as I. I knew she’d have to acknowledge to herself what I wonderful person I am (and how spectacularly wrong she was about me) every time she wore them. My revenge would be through generosity and kindness. I returned to my knitting with a “bwahaahaaahaa” on my lips.
Pattern: Cable and Rib Socks from the Spring 2005 Interweave Knits, although I got it out of the new Interweave Press book Favorite Socks.
Yarn: Trekking XXL (I picked it because it’s one of the thinner sock yarns — Laura does live in Texas, after all) in color 78.
Needles: Size 1 Clover 5-inch birch double pointed needles — I can’t tell you how much I prefer short DPNs to the ubiquitous 7-inch ones for socks.
Notes: At first I was pissed when I realized that the cable didn’t continue uninterrupted down the length of the sock from leg to foot (the photos in the book are mighty coy about this fact). I almost ripped out the leg when I realized this. I’m glad I didn’t, though, because I actually wound up thinking that the transition at the heel is interesting and elegant. I really liked this pattern and am actually 3/4 of the way through a second pair.
Laura, enjoy! Thanks for being the best cyber knitting friend she’s never met that a girl could ever have.
Just before starting Laura’s socks I finished a pair of Hedera socks from Knitty. It was a great pattern and quite easy, and I think the result is lovely. The only complaint I had (and I saw this in other places on the internet with no great solution) was that the first YO on row one of the pattern repeat was always noticeably smaller than the second (because of the surrounding stitches…it’s not worth explaining but you could go look at the pattern). The way I (accidentally) discovered to solve this was to not make the second YO (when knitting row 1) and then pick up a YO from the row below when working the second row. This makes both YO holes small but the same size. I know this doesn’t make much sense to anyone who hasn’t knit the pattern, but I’m just putting it out there in case anyone is ever doing the same Google searches I did while trying to figure out a way around the discrepancy in the size of the holes.
Oh, I also thought the pattern called for the heel flaps to be bizarrely long.
The yarn is Paton’s Kroy, which was included in the generous gift basket I received when I was the guest speaker/messiah at the Ocean State Knitting and Crochet Guild last year. The color of the yarn makes for great dress/work socks. I am not sure I can wholeheartedly recommend it, though: it is not very soft (and it did not soften up after washing). I optimistically told myself that its lack of softness was an indication that it would wear like iron, but, unfortunately, this photo shoes the wear evident after only one day. I’m not saying I’m not going to get a lot of use out of these socks, but I thought that others should know that the yarn has shortcomings.
Next post: more gifts. But this time most of them are for me me me!