Thursday, March 30, 2006

Sock Yarn Anonymous

Welcome to the first meeting of Sock Yarn Anonymous.

The first step in the process of kicking the habit of sock yarn is to admit you have a problem. Anybody want to start? No one???

Very well, I'll start: My name is Janine and I have a problem. I can't stop buying sock yarn.

It was never a problem, at first. Yarn didn't come in all kinds of groovy self-striping colorways when I first started buying it. Oh, there were a few variagated varieties along with the usual solids. And socks took sooo long to knit that it seemed silly to buy a lot of sock yarn.

But then, oh then....

There was the Koigu, found at an LYS in another city. And then came the Regia. And the Lorna's Laces. Then came more and more sock yarn, each ball more delicious than the last. It was hard to choose just one or two balls when I wanted to buy it all!

But, Janine, you ask, surely you know that at the rate you knit socks, you could spend the rest of your life just knitting what you have now, much less buying more!?! Why do you do this? How many feet do you have?!?!?

What can I say...I simply CAN'T RESIST!!! So when I went to knitting class on Tuesday night, I succumbed yet again. I should have stayed away from the sock yarn section. I figured I was safe; I didn't think she'd gotten any new sock yarn in lately. But I was absent for one week and she snuck some in behind my back and left it there to ambush me!!!

Here it is...this ball is destined for the Jaywalker pattern on the MagKnits site. I'm afraid at this point I may be beyond a cure. Oh, and I bought a couple of magazines too. You know you have a problem when the LYSO says, "Do you want a bag?" and you say, "No...I'll just slip this into the bottom of my knitting bag so my husband won't see it...shhhhhh!"

Anyone else ready to admit they have a problem?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Sucked into the black hole of motherhood

Again, I apologize for not posting in a while. Motherhood is a black hole of everyday joys and annoyances and sometimes the annoyances overwhelm the joys. Last week was like that. But things are looking up. I think.

Okay, progress on the knitting front. I've done a little bit, not a lot. Yesterday, I got to blow a whole morning going to the orthopedic surgeon, so I was able to knit quite a lot. I got three and a half squares of the mitered baby blanket done just waiting to get into the exam room, then waiting for the xray technician, then waiting for the doctor. Good news is that I don't have to wear the brace anymore except when doing heavier chores like laundry. I don't have to wear it to bed anymore, which is a big relief! (If I could actually sleep in a bed, it would be even better. Dan was snoring big time last night, so I spent the night on the couch.)

Anyway, I'll go back in a month for a final check up. Apparently the brace was irritating the tendon that passes over the thumb, causing rather than curing most of the tingling, numbness and pain I was experiencing at the base of my thumb. Already I have left the thing off since the doctor's yesterday and there is a big improvement.

As far the Squatter's electric yellow sweater (can't really call it a hoodie if he doesn't want a hood), I've gotten this far and I think I'm going to have to rip back. I need 1/2" more on the body to the underarm and this stripe is going to be in the wrong place. It will look incredibly stupid. So I am going to have to bite it and get it ripped back. Gag.

Yesterday, besides blowing the morning at the doctor's office (not helped by road construction on our highways, necessitating escaping from M-14 and taking back roads to get to the hospital area where his office is), I had a class to teach. Due to the fact that my husband has been playing his guitar in the basement every chance he could get, I didn't have but one project designed and had to spend the afternoon stamping, cutting cardstock and cleaning the stamping classroom. I had a bowl of cereal for dinner, eaten standing up. My children inhaled around 3 boxes of cereal (how do they eat it so fast????) and Dan ate leftover Taco Bake, then left the remaining 1/2 of it sitting on the stove for hours so that I had to throw it all out last night. Grrr...

The weekend was also busy, including a trip to Guitar Center where this was purchased for the squat. Yes, now I'm going to have it coming at me from two different directions. This is a junior Fender Stratocaster, sized for kids. It was meant to be a birthday present, but Mr. Bill had to get his behavior grade up in school before he could have it, so he worked very hard and we are very proud of him. We presented it in a small ceremony in his room. The yellow paper taped to the wall is his report card, so he can remember the hard work it took to get it.

The squat also got a small amplifier, which Dan assured me I would hardly be able to hear. Hmmm. When, on Sunday morning, the squat started playing this red beauty, my dear husband got out of bed. I asked him if the guitar playing had woken him up. He said, "Yes!" I said, "You mean you can hear that? I could hardly hear it!" He gave me a dirty look. Revenge is sweet.

So since the weekend was so busy and yesterday was simply impossible, this is what I'm facing: the detritus of the weekend plus Monday. A new crop of crumbs is ready to be harvested by the vacuum cleaner and ten million of my kids' possessions are waiting to be picked up and either tossed in their rooms, or disposed of secretly and gladly, as I consign to oblivion those toys I have been dying to toss in the trash because of their miscellaneous broken pieces or simple driving-the-mother mad qualities they possess. Life goes on. Eat chocolate.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Nothing is certain...

Well, sorry for disappearing into a black hole for a few days there. It is that time again and it took me about 4 days to complete:


I sometimes think nostagically of the days before I started my own business. I used to think gathering information for our taxes was a real drag. Now I know it is a real drag!

And it's my own darned fault. Because I vow every year that I will start collecting the information every month so that the following year I'll be ready without the superhuman effort I have to make each March to get all my income and expenses entered into the spreadsheets I designed for tracking them, plus figuring out the value of my non-consumables inventory. Last year I even bought some special software designed for stamping demonstrators to track their businesses, but did I use it? NOOOOO. Ah well. Some people make resolutions at the beginning of a new year. Mine are made the day I fax my tax information off to my dad. And like most resolutions, mine are doomed to failure.

My dad has been doing taxes for years and specializes in direct sales. If you are a Mary Kay lady it's even possible you've seen him at one of your meetings; he often travels to talk about taxes to Mary Kay consultants. So I know my stuff is in good hands. I haven't gotten my returns back yet, but I know I'll get a nice refund!

The other thing that occupied my time was making our traditional Irish dinner. I'm part Irish. In fact, I've always held that if you have some Irish blood in you, it ends up contaminating the rest of you until you are ALL Irish. So I do try each year to make corned beef and cabbage. Yes, I know they don't actually eat this in Ireland (they make something called Cottage Ham instead), but we Irish over on this side of the water DO. Plus soda bread, which is always great right out of the oven and really loses something after it gets cold.

This year St. Patrick's Day was complicated by the fact that it was on a Friday. So while we're not Catholic, my kids do go to a Catholic school and we attend the fish fry there during Lent. If we stayed home and ate corned beef we would a) have to deprive our school of the income from our dinners and b) I would miss a day where I don't have to cook, a very important determination! So instead we opted for our dinner on the Sunday after St. Pat's, or yesterday. Here is the result...sorry the photos are not as good as they looked right after I took them. I will say that I am a dab hand at making this dinner, especially since I started relying on my cooking instincts that have developed over the last 20 some years (yes, I started cooking as an infant!) instead of blindly following recipes.

You'll notice no knitting appears in this post; because I have done very little in the last week. I guess I am in a mini slump. None of my projects are appealing to me, but I refuse, yes, I REFUSE to start something new, even though that sock yarn continues to whisper my name. I'll just have to lump it and pick up that afghan or the squatter's sweater and force myself to continue. Quit laughing!

In the meantime, a Happy Belated St. Patricks Day! May you be in heaven for 20 minutes before the devil knows you're dead!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Maybe I should have chosen....

to give up buying yarn for Lent!

I gave up buying scrapbooking stuff instead. And I've done pretty well. This morning, after I finished getting some blood sucked out of my arm, I drove right by the scrapbook store I usually visit on such occasions (and with no thyroid, blood draws are a regular thing.) Granted, it was 8:50 a.m., but I'm pretty sure they opened at 9:00, so I wouldn't have had to wait long. But I had intestinal fortitude and I didn't stop. I didn't stop in to my usual scrapbooking haunt on Saturday after I copied the church bulletin either...dang, I'm good!

However, last night, I did order some new yarn. I couldn't help it: Linda, one of our knitting class members, brought in a shawl she had made from Lorna's Laces Helen's Lace and raved about how much fun it was to knit and I caved. Here's the shawl:

And here's the colorway I ordered:

The color (River) is a lot softer than it looks in the picture. It was hard to choose a colorway; they were all soooo pretty.

I just wanted something....frivolous. The last shawl I knit I gave away, after all, and I only have one UFO shawl and I don't know that I will finish it anytime soon. It's the Fibertrends Spiral Petal shawl, only begun because, well, yeah, everyone else in my knitting class was doing one and I picked white as the color of choice. What was I thinking? Who is going to wear this thing if I ever finish it? I guess I would put it away for one of my girls to wear with their wedding dress and that means I have a good long time to get it done!

Monday, March 13, 2006

I can't hear you...lalalalalalalalala!

Dear Socks That Rock Yarn,

I must ask you to cease your campaign to get me to start a new project.

I know you just arrived in the mail the other day and that you need some time to get used to your new home. It must have been hard to arrive and find out you weren't the only yarn in the house and that you had to share me. My oldest daughter expressed similar sentiments when her sister and brother arrived, but she knew what was about to happen even if she didn't fully grasp it. It must have come as a nasty surprise for you.

I know you are really yummy (geez I hate this word, but since I have had children I find myself using it all the time...must stop (make mental note: self, stop using the word "yummy")), I mean a really delicious looking yarn...I could almost eat you, especially since you have the word "watermelon" in one of your colorway names, but I know you would not taste good at all and would mess my digestion up. But I know what I really want to do, thanks to your waving yourself in front of my face daily and singing seductive songs, is to knit some socks out of you. Well, it isn't going to happen.

I am a person of integrity. I have other projects that must be finished first. I have a 7-year old boy that wants his sweater, a baby blanket for charity that must be finished, and two, count them, TWO ponchos that my daughters are both expecting me to finish in only one or two hours (that's what they think, anyway.) Not to mention the two lonely singleton socks who really have a prior claim on my attentions.

So cut it out! I'm not listening! Quit telling me how much more fun you would be to knit and how good you will feel on my feet. Just stop already!

Oh dear...

The Knitter

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Sock Intervention - A Modern Fairy Tale

First, to warn you...little if no knitting content follows. Read at your own risk:

Once upon a time there were two young girls named Laurel and Emily who lived in a room with a deep, dark secret. It was a room where socks disappeared without a trace, much like the Bermuda Triangle and boats and planes, but with socks instead. Oh, and on dry land too.

Their mother was extremely puzzled; she would buy her daughters new socks two or three times a year and the socks would disappear, often before they even got washed once! The more socks she bought, the more socks disappeared into the room.

This year, the sock eating room must have had a real feast. The grandmother had sent over her yearly sock money (aren't grandmothers wonderful?...they know that socks are the things that are most frequently replaced and they send money...just for socks!), the mother had purchased more socks, and the room had devoured the socks almost immediately as usual.

One day, the father complained to the mother about a horrible odor was emanating from the sock-eating room...turned out that there were so few socks to be worn that these two girls were wearing the same socks for days on end! The whole house smelled like dirty feet. Eeuuuuwwww!

It was time for a sock intervention! The mother stormed into the room and said, "You must discover where these socks are going! Take off all the socks you are wearing and put these on!" The mother had gallantly sacrificed two pair of her own socks to the sock eating room...just to get that smell out of the house! And what really scares her is that her socks now fit her daughter's feet...only a matter of time before clothing starts being borrowed! But I digress....

So the girls treated their feet with the deoderant spray their mother forced them to use, with many shrieks of "It's so cold! Eeek!" and put the clean socks on. They took all the dirty socks and put them in the laundry chute and then proceeded to pull out the bottom drawers of the bunk bed and lo and behold! There were socks under there! Socks that had not been seen in months and months!

The only explanation was that there were tiny sock fairies who liked to play tricks on these girls...those fairies stole the socks and hid them! Yep! That must be it! More socks must be lurking in even more hiding places...the saga of the sock search will continue!

So, the mother, as usual, had saved the day (and the socks) and the daughters learned that dirty socks and warm feet make for stinky smells!


I have gotten word that my Socks That Rock order finally has been shipped! Originally, the shop that I ordered it from ran out of the colors I ordered and the latest batch of yarn to be dyed had been rejected due to pilling, then Stitches West socked Blue Moon Fiber Arts with all kinds of business, but I am assured that the yarn is now on it's way.

Otherwise, I have put a lazy row or two on the Squat's sweater, but I've been doing a lot more stamping this week: with the new mini catalog out, it's time to work up some new samples, plus I have a workshop on Saturday with 14 people coming...I'll be working on that today! Here's some pics just to show that something is being done...just not knitting!

Monday, March 06, 2006

On good acrylic yarn

Glinda, the good witch of the North, comes floating down in her bubble and lands in front of a ball of acrylic yarn:

"Are you a good acrylic or a bad acrylic?" she asks. The acrylic yarn just sits there and says nothing. And Glinda, frustrated, floats off in her bubble.

Glinda should have known that it's impossible to know whether an acrylic yarn is good or bad without knitting it or at least consulting ME! :-D

I've knit with a bunch of acrylic yarn, 'cause I have kids. I love wool, don't get me wrong, but having children that are extremely hard on their clothing, I want to be able to throw their clothes in the washing machine without worrying about what comes out afterwards. I'm not much of a handwash person fact, I have sweaters that were given to my children that have wool in them that they have outgrown waiting for me to get around to washing them. So I really prefer to knit their stuff out of acrylic and save the wool for myself and others who are worthy.

I used to think that touching acrylic yarn would tell me a lot, but 'taint necessarily so. Red Heart and Paton's Canadiana feel awful, they really do. But they do soften up when you wash them and they wear very well. A lot of people choose these for their projects and I don't blame them.

But since I like a pleasant knitting experience, I usually avoid both of these and spring for Encore. Encore has a little wool content mixed into the acrylic and is soft to the hand, but is very durable and easy to care for. That's why I tend to collect the stuff...I love, love, love Encore. I have two full Rubbermaid totes full of it to prove it.

Yes, Lion Brand Woolease has a similar content, BUT...Woolease does not knit up to a true worsted weight gauge. It's just a tad bit thinner and it just doesn't come in all the groovy colors that Encore does.

So naturally, when it came to knitting the Squatter's hoody, I chose Encore. But I had to scrabble in my stash for the stripe colors. I had black in Encore, and the purple I scrounged up actually turned out to be Paton's Look at Me (a favorite for baby stuff)'s DK weight, but since I was only putting in two one row stripes, I decided that would be okay. But the grey for the majority of the stripe is Canadiana. I had it left from making the Fibertrends Baby Poncho that the squatter wore for a few years...I had bought it originally when the Berkley Knit Shop was closing down and so it was a bargain.

I never was so glad to get 7 rows of knitting done. After knitting with the Encore and the buttery soft Look At Me, the Canadiana felt like jute. Ick.

Now I have about an inch to go until I get to the underarm, at which point I will start the sleeves. I'm beginning to think I should have put the stripe up a little higher...I held it up to the Squat to see where it was hitting him and it seemed to be right BUT...maybe I should have gone for more length so he would grow out of it so fast. That would mean ripping back...and the thought of having to reknit that grey stripe makes my teeth hurt.

Otherwise, I'm pleased with the stripe. It works the purple the Squat requested in without looking girly in any way, an important thing for a very manly 7 year old boy. You can see the Wookies approve as well, can't you?

Despite the fact that the Squatter is so very manly, we had to cut him off on watching "The Fellowship of the Ring." This movie has freaked my child way out...far more than any other movie. He's watched all the Star Wars movies and the Harry Potter movies and never had a problem, but since seeing the Lord of the Rings series, he's taken to following us around and being frightened of being left alone. Despite that, he still clamors to watch the thing and Dan and I decided not to allow him to anymore. But we still had to deal with the fear.

So I dug out our ancient copy of "Where's God When I'm Scared?"; one of the first Veggietales movies and I made him watch it on far, I'm seeing some improvement in his fear level. But he's still pulling the covers over his head when he gets into bed. We've talked about it and I think he's getting better at being brave and leaning on God when he's frightened.

This isn't the first child to freak out at movies...Laurel is my most fearful child. She wouldn't even watch "The Little Mermaid" because the Sea Witch was just too, too scary. But Emily is a whole 'nother thing: we were cruising past channels yesterday and she got a glimpse of Pinhead from that really weird movie which even I would rather not watch. "Cool!" Emily said when she saw Pinhead...she likes scary books and scary movies. Guess there has to be one in every family!

Tomorrow night I have to go to a church meeting and Dan is going to be doing a special gig, so I have to bring the kids with me. Fortunately, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" will be coming out on DVD on Tuesday, so my kids have made a date with the church nursery attendant, who is also a HP fan, to meet at the church, set the television up in the office with a DVD player and watch the new DVD and eat popcorn. Which means I will be at Target on Tuesday, buying the DVD, microwave popcorn and suitable drinks.

I took the scarf to the kindergarten teacher on Friday, by the way. She loved it and when I told her $10 for making it, she insisted on giving me $15. I also got the extra skein of yarn and the crochet hook with it...not bad for a few hours of work.

Friday, March 03, 2006


I finished the Fuzz That Ate My Teacher scarf!

I decided to finish at the end of the skein, although she gave me two skeins. She had bought with crochet in mind and it always takes about twice as much yarn to get the same total fabric area, so I figured one skein would do it. This is a very easy and fast scarf to knit, I will say, and I would probably do more of them. It was fun designing it, as well. I've started a new blog for my patterns...the link is to the left.

I know there are knitters out there that sneer at the "scarf people" (or so I have heard them called.) These are the folks that got their knitting start making a novelty scarf and have not progressed beyond that point. They come into the yarn store and head for the novelty yarn immediately and that is all they ever do.

Well, why not? If you enjoy knitting scarves and you have no desire for more, far be it from me to say you MUST learn to knit a sweater or you HAVE TO learn how to knit socks! I've done all these things and enjoyed them, but they are not for everyone.

Sometimes, it's just nice to knit something that works up quick, looks beautiful when it's done, and doesn't challenge you in any way. It's soothing, it's gratifying and it is DONE. When I look at the box of complicated projects that have never been finished sitting in my stash, I really do appreciate a project just like this one.

I did take the small portion I had knitted to school on Tuesday afternoon, just to show the teacher what it looked like and as I walked up to her she said, "Oh...don't worry about getting the scarf done! Make sure your wrist gets better first!!!" Hmmm....either she doesn't think everything through that she says, or she plays a deep game. Frankly, after my experiences with her when the squat was in her class, I would suspect the latter. At any rate, I assured her that knitting is one of the few things I can do without killing my wrist and I would be happy to keep knitting. I showed her the pattern and the width and she loved it!

I'll be delivering it to her this afternoon. She is a short lady, so I think the length should be just right. My biggest concern is that the width is a little wider than I'd choose for a decorative scarf to be worn with a sweater, but she thought it was just fine. It's the sort of scarf she'll have to simply drape around her neck...flipping one end over her shoulder is not going to work with this width, but this lady really doesn't have a long neck either, so tieing a scarf around it wouldn't flatter her at all.

I've been thinking of what to charge her; on the one hand, I don't want to devalue the craft, but on the other I don't want to look like someone who is trying to put the screws on a teacher and deprive her of her small income. It probably took a couple hours of dedicated knitting, so I will charge her $10.

In the meantime, the yarn for Laurel's poncho has come in. I'm calling this project Poncho Got The Blues, because surely I will by the time I'm done. I love blue, it is in fact my favorite color (though not this particular shade), but I expect to be quite weary of this by the time it's done. I'm not starting it yet, mind...the squat's Electric Yellow sweater comes first and there is the Olympic baby blanket, which I worked on at knitting class on Tuesday night.

The yarn I bought the other day at the superbowl sale for a sweater for Emily is also going to be a poncho. That's what Emily wants and what Emily wants, Emily almost always gets one way or another. Instead of using the women's sized pattern, I'll have to get the child-sized one instead; it uses worsted weight while this one uses chunky.

I was very proud, though, that Emily chose her new colorblocks sweater to wear for her spring school pictures today. I don't usually buy these pictures, but might have to buy just one with Emily and her sweater. Laurel also put on her Tango sweater I made her a few years back for her's getting much too small for her, actually, but she won't give it up and pass it down to Emily.

The squatter is the only one not in a hand-made sweater today, but he does have a home hair cut to make up for it. I managed to cut it so he doesn't look so very much like Moe on the Three Stooges...I'll take him to Great Clips this weekend and get it cut better, but he honestly looked like some sort of elf or even an Orthodox Jewish boy with the long locks in front of his ears, so something had to be done!