Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Boyfriends are funny things: MANFEET sock one done

This weekend, I finished MANFEET sock one. I bound it off on a needle one size larger than the ones I was using. I bound off loosely even, but the bind-off is still a bit tight. Luckily, my MANFEET boyfriend was able to still pull it over his huge MANFEET. (Next time, I'll bind off with a needle three times larger.)

Boys must sweat a lot. When I asked boyfriend to try the sock on, he had just finished working out. I got the sock back in a very damp condition. And just now, when I asked him to merely pose with the sock on, the sock also came back in a very damp condition. He wasn't working out this time.

Boyfriends are funny things: they don't like to sock-pose. They like having socks made for them, but they do not like to sock pose.

This post will be kept short as I have much to do before tomorrow. I keep feeling so scared and nervous. I feel as if I'm doing the wrong thing. And just now, I was on the phone with my folks in Texas and I told them, and I'm afraid that I made my father afraid and so, of course, I'm feeling bad about that now.

Thank you guys so much for your support and encouragement. I really need it. I'm getting the jitters and I keep thinking about all the things that can go wrong. I think that telling my parents was something I shouldn't have put off. Telling them made it seem real, and now that it's real it's very very scary.

The eye center is very smart to make patients put a deposit down--it's harder to back out when you know you've spent the money already.

Anyhow, this will be the last post until my eyes are well enough for computer use. I probably won't be able to read your blogs and comment either. Very sad days ahead!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

My Secret Pal

Tuesday afternoon, there was yet another big box locked inside my landlady's gate. For those of you living in Brownstone Brooklyn, you'll know what I mean about the gate: it's the gate that people usually put up to guard the door to the ground-level floor. Again, I had to use the tie-the-twine-around-the-box-and-slowly-pull-box-up method.

Inside the box were these lovely items, wrapped in purple tissue paper with a nice pink and flowery card, from my Secret Pal. She got me yummy, yummy chocolate caramel balls that I immediately tested. Very good. She also got me a spindle! I have been dreaming about a spindle for a long time now. I mean, I really had actual dreams about spinning with a spindle and now I have one that's all mine. She also sent a little ball of practice roving and a huge 4 oz. wool-blend bundle of roving from Spunky Eclectic. I think the spindle and practice roving are also from Spunky Eclectic. The colorway of the roving bundle is "Autumn Girls" and it is delightful--full of all the bright colors I love and yes, PINK and YELLOW. I keep petting it. How did I get so lucky to get a Secret Pal with such great taste?

Our SP8 Hostess posted our group's blogs on the SP8 website, and I found out that my Secret Pal is Coley of Handmade by Coley. How did I know it was her? She wrote about me often, and she wrote about my going to Thailand. Many of her posts were about things that she was thinking of getting me and things that I like and things that I might like. It was really awesome to read her blog and see all the sweet little thoughts she had. Thanks, so much, Coley! You are awesome!

Since I've revealed my Spoiler, I might as well reveal (since she has already found me!) my Spoilee. My Spoilee is Tess of A Crafter's Journal. Tess is a great crafter and just about dabbles in everything, from knitting to scrapbooking to journaling to embellishing. She manages to find time to work her crafts into her busy schedule of working and being a mother.

SP8 was really fun, and I can't believe I still have one more package coming!

In non-knitting/knitting news, I'm getting Lasek next week. (I know, I know, I must be crazy to take such a risk with my eyes and drop so much (so much! Good God it's so much money!), but it's something that I've thought about doing for a long, long time and turning 30 made me realize that not only should I give this to myself as a gift, but that I was putting it off and it was now or never.) Because the recovery time is longer for Lasek than Lasik, I won't be able to read or knit for three days!!! Good God! Someone help me! The thought of not being able to knit for that long is scarier to me than having the actual surgery. I must be insane. Very insane.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Toe-up for the MANFEET

Because I'm not sure exactly how much yarn I'll need for my boyfriend's size-12 feet, I'm making my first toe-up sock. I do hate to get out of my comfort zone sometimes, and I have to say it was nice getting to the point where I didn't need to look at any patterns or books when making my top-down, heel-flap, kitchner-stitched socks.

But, alas, it was time to try something new.

After looking at several patterns on-line and taking my gauge and the sport-weight yarn into account, I decided that my boyfriend's socks would need 64 stitches over size three needles.

I decided to use the provisional cast-on, as explained in the lovely video here. It was my first time doing this type of cast-on, and I have to say that, even though it looks scary, isn't at all difficult.

I am using the Sherman toe and Sherman heel, following this pattern, which really isn't a pattern but more like a guide, but it has no picture and thus fulfills the requirements of the Mystery Sock KAL. I do feel as if it's fair game because a.) I've never made a toe-up sock before, b.) I've never made a Sherman toe, and c.) it has no picture. (Okay, perhaps I should do something else, something more mysterious, for the Mystery Sock KAL.)

I'm finding that I knit best in the same way that I read best: just as I have several books going at any one time, I am now finding that I have several socks going at once, and I have no anxiety. None. It's almost zen-like, the way I can float from sock to sock.

But I do have a little F.O. It's an embarrassing F.O., but it's an F.O.

It's the first socks.

By first, I mean first. I started these in December of 2005. I really, really wanted to learn to make socks, so I bought a book and read everything I could on-line and I made these strange looking, but very comfy and warm socks. Can you tell which is the first (the more clumsy looking) sock?

For months and months, all I had left to do was the toe of the second sock, and I just couldn't do it. I couldn't bear the thought of that yarn and those needles in my hands. I don't have an aversion to the yarn (Cascade Quatro, worsted weight) or the needles (size 3) singly, but together, they made a bad combination for me.

Today: more progress on the MANFEET socks and Lewis Carroll's Sylvie and Bruno.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Postman Cometh

Usually, I would wait for my landlady to come home. I have to wait for my landlady because sometimes, the postman will throw packages into the four or so inches above her door gate and the packages will stay there, locked inside the gate, all day until my landlady comes home. If the packages are little, I might be able to stick my hand into the lower part of gate and retrieve them, but if they are big, well, I used to just wait.

I was certain that this package, locked in the gate, contained yarn, and I was determined to fetch my package. I could not wait five hours for my landlady. So I devised a little plan: I would drop some twine over the top of the gate, tie the twine around the package, and then pull up on the twine to lift the package. It took about two tries, with my boyfriend holding the ball of twine lest it too fall into the gate, but eventually, I got my package to come up and over the top of the gate.

Inside were the two skeins of sock yarn I ordered from Spunky Eclectic.

I'm really looking forward to making socks with these. Thank you again so much, Secret Pal, for the gift certificate.

The only thing stopping me from knitting these up right now is the fact that I have never ever had such lovely sock yarn in my life and I want to love and pet and stare at these for a long, long time.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

What I got from my SP8 Hostess; Trekking sock one all done

Since it's only a matter of time until my Secret Pal spoilee finds me out, I think it's okay to post that I was one of the two lucky winners of handmade stitchmarkers and a bookmark made by our lovely SP8 hostess Patty.

Patty also sent me a nice card and wrapped her handmade goodies in a beautiful piece of cloth. Can you make out the little flip-flops hanging from the bookmark? How freaken cute is that? The stitchmarkers are so delightful to work with. They sparkle and shine, and I'm such a sucker for little things that sparkle and shine.

(Well, I'm a bigger sucker--a down-right insane sucker--for a one-carat thing that sparkles and shines, but we won't get into that right now.)

Trekking sock one is done. I immediately cast on and finished a 1.5 inch cuff before bed last night. I think a little light (not to be confused with a little sparkling thing) went off in my head: it's easier to avoid second-sock-syndrome if you actually enjoy the yarn you're knitting with.

Since my Trekking sock isn't going to any fun places, as other Trekking socks are doing in the Trek Along With Me KAL, I'm going to let my sock step right on top of Van Gogh's The Enclosed Field.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Baby shower knits: slightly cheating

Is it wrong to have made a little hat initially for one baby only to give it to another?

That's what I did on Saturday. I had a baby shower to go to, and two days before, I whipped out the One-Hour Baby Booties from Stitch 'n Bitch 2. But let me go back to the hat. The hat is the Umbilical Cord hat from Stitch 'n Bitch 1. I made it over winter break for a baby that was born in March. I never gave the hat to this baby because I never made the matching booties. So, as I put off making the booties, the baby's head, I'm sure, grew and grew and grew.

So, I decided to give the hat to another baby, along with the booties. I had to mattress stitch these booties--one looks like a disaster and the other looks semi-okay.

The yarn is Lana Gatto Baby Soft, 54% virgin wool, 24% nylon, and 22% cotton.

I don't really know much about babies, so whenever I make this hat and bootie set, I always wonder, Is this hat too big? Are these booties too small? Can a baby's head possibly be THIS big??? Good Lord!

And, of course, it doesn't help when your boyfriend says, Say, isn't that hat kind of big for a baby? And I just play the you-wouldn't-believe-how-big-a-baby's-head-is card, as if I knew ANYTHING about that, but I guess he assumes that I must know how big a baby's head is since I am, after all, a woman.

By the way, why aren't my friends having girls??? They are all having boys, and I've been dying to use my pink baby yarn. Or maybe I'm old-fashioned. I think that next time, I'm going to use the pink yarn regardless of the sex of the baby. Besides, a little four-year-old boy loved the Snow White Princess Barbie I gave him for his birthday last week. But the parents of this boy are really open to the fact that their son loves dolls and so-called girlie things. I think that is so awesome. I would be afraid that other parents might not be so open. But really, who wants to shop for action figures and cars? I want to shop for dolls and cut little pink pony things with brushable hair and glittery wings.

Speaking of my love for things pretty and pink, I had fun picking out yarn at Spunky Eclectic and using the gift certificate my Secret Pal got for me. I decided on this gorgeous Pink Lemonade sock yarn, and then I couldn't resist this Neapolitan yarn as well. I'm already staking out my mailbox.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Is this a knitted bowl I see before me?

What I first thought was a knitted bowl on the cover of the new Ikea catalogue turns out to be some wicker thing; however, after going through the catalogue I found evidence of some sort of knitter-mastermind-plot to introduce knitted goods, knitted-objects-in-progress, and baskets of yarn into the decorating scheme.

Exhibit A: (page 96)

Exhibit B: (page 213)

There were a few more knitted things (or things made of yarn if not exactly knitted) in the catalogue, but I'm already feeling a bit silly for posting about this at all.

In knitting news, I'm making progress on my Trekking sock. I wanted to try a short-row heel with this sock, but then I just couldn't make myself unravel the short-row instructions and I remember just how much I love the way that little heel flap hugs my ankle. I'm afraid I was lazy, lazy.

In non-knitting news, I dyed my hair yesterday by myself with a bottle that came in a box. I decided that I'm not going to spend $1,000+/yr coloring my hair anymore, so all those expensive highlights are now brown and brown they will stay because that is a lot of money to be spending on hair when you're living off of loans! Besides, I can take the money I'm saving and maybe actually go to Europe next summer or perhaps buy more yarn.

Monday, August 07, 2006

A big worm; new sock; birthday yarn; a big thank you

A Big Worm

This big worm was found trying to cross a little path in Thailand. It was so big that I had to stop and take a picture of it. I asked my little 11-year-old cousin where the worm was going and where it had been. He said it came from the old felled tree and was working its way into the house of people who wanted to eat it.

New Sock

I finished a little worm last night. It's made with some KnitPicks Parade yarn in the Gumball colorway. This worm was a nasty nasty pest at 1:00 a.m. Why? Well, this worm apparently didn't have enough to eat and wanted more yarn just as its knitter was approaching the toe. Very very annoying worm indeed.

Apparently, I'm not the only knitter who ran into this problem. (I read about this happening on other blogs.) This worm would have been a better worm if I had knitted it toe-up and with a short-row heel as short-row heels use less yarn than heel flaps and gussets. But how is a knitter to know? A knitter assumes that one ball of sock yarn will make one sock. Good thing I saved the "starter yarn," which is what I call the yarn at the beginning of a ball that isn't used because you want the socks to match or start with a certain color.

This worm is a bit more colorful, but just as weirdly shaped as the worm I found in Thailand.

Birthday Yarn

My boyfriend asked me what I wanted for my birthday. (By the way, does anyone notice anything different in my blog heading? I'm no longer (gasp!) pressing thirty.) So I told him sock yarn and a foot spa. He must think I LOVE feet. Here's what he bought me:

So this yarn isn't exactly what I think of when I think of sock yarn, so I'm a little wary of the owner of the yarn-shop-that-shall-not-be-named who told my dear boyfriend that this was sock yarn. Nevertheless, I think my my boyfriend did a lovely job. It's so lovely. I love the fact that he went into the yarn store and bought me yarn! What a wonderful wonderful boy!

He even said that I could make him something with the brown yarn and that the blue yarn was for me. Say, ladies, have any of you been brave enough to make socks for manfeet? Frankly, I'm a bit frightened.

A Big Thank You

Today I got a huge surprise from my Secret Pal. She got me a gift certificate to Spunky Eclectic. I'm already drooling over all the gorgeous sock yarn and am having a difficult time deciding on what I want. I haven't come across this vendor before, so getting the gift certificate was like getting two gifts in one. Thank you so much, Secret Pal. I'll let you know what I pick out.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Jaywalkers & Paper Lantern

There was one thing that I had to absolutely do before leaving Texas. I had to finish and graft Jaywalker 2. But, of course, I also had to cast on for a new project in order to endure a four-hour flight to New York. So there is another sock in the works.

The only variation that I made to the Jaywalker pattern was working the toe down to 16 stitches and not the 28 that the pattern calls for. There is a little error on one of the socks, but we won't talk about that. We won't mention at all how, when I was getting ready to slip the double-decrease stitches over the next knitted stitch someone nudged my arm just the slightest bit and no matter my cursing and picking at loops with a safety pin I just couldn't set that double-decrease along with several stitches that slipped off the needles to rights again. We just won't talk about that.

The Jaywalkers are pictured with a little paper lantern that I bought at the Damnoen Saduak floating market just outside of Bangkok. If you ever go to this market, be prepared to pay tourist prices for goods (unless you're my mother who can work a bargain like it's nobody's business), but know that the prices are still bargains for tourists and the food and fruit are still very cheap. This paper lantern cost me about $2.50, so I'm not complaining.

We paid a fair price for a two-hour boat ride around the market, which included a stop at a palm-juice vendor, who gave free samples, and a fish-feeding frenzy in front of a temple. (You pay 5 baht--a few American cents--for a bag of fish food and when you throw the food into the river, hundreds of fish come up to eat.) My favorite part of the 2-hour tour was stopping to eat "boat noodles," a traditional Thai noodle soup that the vendor prepares from her boat!

But I digress--back to the Jaywalkers. I still don't think I chose the best yarn for the Jaywalker pattern. I do like how the socks look toward the instep, but I don't like the broad stripes on the cuff and gusset very much. Jaywalker 2 definitely went faster than number 1--perhaps because I put it down and picked it up over a long period of time.

The current socks I'm making are my "instant gratification socks." They are made with a sport-weight yarn (Parade by KnitPicks) on size 2 Addis, which are really like a 2.5. I'm already on the heel flap. It would usually take me a week to get this far with a sock. After these, I'm going to tackly my Trekking yarn. But a lie a little bit--I already kind of cast on for that project.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Second Secret Pal 8 Questionnaire

Here is my second Secret Pal 8 Questionnaire. A special thanks goes out to our SP8 hostess Patty for sending it our way.

(I have knitting pics to post soon and more Thailand pics. Promise!)

1. What is your favorite season?

Spring, definitely spring. I love the promise that spring holds, how it's cold and unbearable one day and then warm and lovely the next. I love the first blooms, the tiny bursts of bright colors, the coat that doesn't know just yet whether to stay put or not.

2. Where is or would be your favorite place in the world to take a vacation?

I feel like a cultural heathen because I've never been to Europe, never even been to England. I think I would love to go anywhere on that side of the world. Countries that appeal to me are Italy, France, Spain and for some reason the city of Copenhagen--I think it's because of the mermaids.

3. If you could have any job in the world and not worry about finances (everything would be taken care of), which means you'd be doing something you actually like, what would it be?

I've always dreamed of having my own bed and breakfast in a lovely little corner of some lovely mountains, but then I don't think I would really enjoy cleaning up after anyone. Then I dreamed of raising sheep, but then I remembered that sheep poo and get sick and die and all that. I think I would like to sit at my desk and write. I think that's exactly what I would like to be able to do.

4. What is your favorite project to knit or crochet?

Oh, socks, definitely socks. I don't want to knit anything else! I used to look at patterns and think, oh, I have the right needles and yarn for that. And then I would make the project. But now, all I do is look at and dream about all that lovely, lovely sock yarn out there.

5. What is your favorite food - whether it be a main dish, dessert, snack, whatever?

Oh my god. This is a difficult question. I love many, many different foods. But if I had to say just one thing, I would have to say my mother's Thai beef salad. Other things I love: Cape Cod brand sea salt and vinegar chips, custard, rare steak, oxtail, bolonaise and pasta, mussels in white-wine sauce, Thai noodle soup, carbonara and pasta, lamb chops with rosemary, and I could go on and on really.

6. What is your favorite way to relax and unwind?

Well, I hate to say it, but knitting is the answer to this one. And I also like cleaning. I know it seems weird, but cleaning makes me feel less anxious and this is probably why I was a nervous wreck when I was studying for my orals--I had no time to clean.