Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Massacre

I just got back from the post office where I sent a pair of these off to Yarn Snob.

It's Bearfoot "Yellowstone," doubled to get the Sock of Doom gauge. I had to switch to black for the toe an inch sooner than I would've liked, but I think it still looks OK. When I got back from Chicago, I had a package of yarn sent by Yarn Snob's original assassin, but it was a self-patterning cotton Sockotta -- not good for the Sock of Doom pattern, so I dipped into my own stash for this, and I'll keep the Sockotta for Mom (she's told me that's her favorite).

Poor Yarn Snob. Here I am, still on vacation, with nothing but time on my hands to churn out a pair of socks. And damn...Bearfoot knits up really fast, especially doubled.

I peaked into the Sock War Spreadsheet, messaged the editor about Yarn Snob's new status, and she told me that this is one of the highest "kill" days so far.

Back into holding mode until I get the yarn for my next target.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A town so smart its spelling starts with C-H-I-C...Chic!

Back from the activity portion of my vacation. Mike and I went to Chicago for the long weekend. Here's the rundown:
  • Terrific room at the Palmer House with a wonderful surprise gift basket from my sister and her husband
  • Nice dinner (terrible table) at Italian Village. Great breakfast at Lou Mitchell's (the donut holes were everything I'd hoped for, and I need to recreate the cheddar and apple omelet at home some time). So-so pizza at Giordano's. Best pomegranate martini I've ever had at Miller's Pub.
  • Taping of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me at the Chase Auditorium. This was our favorite ticketed event of the weekend, even above the two musicals we saw. Two lovely handknit sweaters in the row in front of us. I tried to take pics with my camera, but they didn't turn out. We bought mugs, because like they told us at the show, "If you don't buy any overpriced trinkets, it's like you weren't even here."
  • Miles and magnificent miles of Urban Hiking (or "Shopping"). Here's Mike with his celebrity boyfriend at the Gap.
Altar Boyz was good, poking fun at boy bands and the clumsy bad art of Christian rock. The stereotypes were played a little too broadly, but maybe that's the point. (I think it still could've worked with a lighter touch). 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was better, although I kept getting distracted by the brat precious little girl sitting front and center, who kept standing up and talking to her parents every time a performer was spotlighted downstage. Both shows had a mix of humor and sentimentality that make them enjoyable if not particularly moving or challenging (although the song Olive sings in response to "chimerical" really does earn the tears, I think).

The one big dud of the trip was Adler Planetarium, which we went to because there was, even late in the afternoon, a long line to get into the Shedd Aquarium. Some of the astrolabe stuff was mildly interesting. But in general the Adler is so lame that I think it actually does damage to the cause of making kids interested in science. (For a good planetarium experience, go to the Hayden in New York).

I need to sing the praises of my amazing L. L. Bean Weather Challenger Jacket -- waterproof shell, removable fleece liner. The weather was fickle, but this jacket adapts to everything.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Kids Stuff

The Wild Things crown has been sitting on the desk, where I have to look at it and be unhappy. And then one morning it occurred to me -- what if I just trimmed off what I didn't like about it?

VoilĂ . A Wild Things crown I'm happy with. Plus a matching felted ear-warmer for the Queen Mum of the Wild Things.

I thought about starting another while I'm on vacation this week, but my mom has been gently nagging me to make new slippers for Logan. My Lamb's Pride stash is low, but I have some Lite Lopi around, so I thought I'd see how this would work.

Maybe a little too "My Uncle Is Gay?"

I'm pretty sure this won't work, that the Lamb's Pride sole and Lite Lopi upper will felt at radically different rates. But it was a fun thing to work on while plopped on the couch watching too much TV.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tofu Clapotis

I am having a lot of fun with this.

I wanted something silky for a clapotis, and found this Karaoke yarn from South West Trading Company. It's 50% soy silk, so I've been telling people that I'm knitting with tofu. The colorway is "Mermaid Mix." I wanted something variegated, and was surprised that the color runs are so long. Like Noro, only no knots or weeds.

I'm following Amy's recommendation to purl the stitches that get dropped rather than using markers. (Amy has other good recommendations too, about mirrored twists and twisting on the purl side. I'm not doing any of that, but I can see her point).

Even though I know it's pronounced "clap-oh-TEE," I still have this song in my head: Miss Clapotis regrets she's unable to lunch today.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Times OpEd Today

Good stuff in the NY Times OpEd section today. First, a spooky bowel-chillingly terrifying editorial about how, as Secretary of State, gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell could declare opponent Ted Strickland as ineligible (Strickland has a two digit lead in the polls). He won't do this, of course, but the fact that it's even a possibility is staggering.

But what really scares me is Jeff Stein's piece, "Can You Tell a Sunni from a Shiite?" Stein has been asking counterterrorism officials to explain the difference, and few of them can. He's not even asking for the complicated theological differences -- just "Who’s on what side today, and what does each want?" And the officials are guessing at the answer, getting it wrong, and covering their ignorance with stupid talking points, like "Al Qaeda’s whole reason for being is based on their beliefs." Yes, and those are...?

Is it too much to ask for leaders who are up to the intellectual challenge of leadership? You know, people who actually want to know things and have the capacity to find out about them?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Adventures in Purple

This week, I seem to have been knitting purple things.

I had a pair of socks that I called "Sock Wars Surplus." I started these thinking it might be a good idea to have some Sock Wars weapons handy, in case I ended up with a target but no yarn passed up to me. But when plans gelled for visiting my friend Heidi this weekend, I decided I wanted to bring her some knitted love, and these socks were handy. So they became hers. (The color isn't coming through on this -- it's the same purple yarn as Mike's sweater).

Had a great time with Heidi and her family. Here's Heidi, modeling her chocolate pumpkin cheesecake (Sock Wars Surplus on the counter in the background), and her son Bradley, trapping my feet.

Heidi's other son Connor scored his first goal of the season that morning in soccer.

Also this week, I made some experimental dishcloths out of purple cotton: a small hexagon and a larger octagon. (My camera is turning these blue; they're really purple). Listsib Gary got me thinking about these, with his instructions to start a dishcloth by casting on 15, increasing each row until the sides are about as long as the cast-on edge, knitting plain until the sides are the same length, then decreasing back down to 15 stitches before binding off.

And finally, I decided to try making a clapotis. It's kind of fun, but I don't think this is the right yarn for it.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Another crown

Still trying to make a King of the Wild Things crown that will actually fit a kid. I like the idea of the pattern, but I just can't get the gauge right -- my crowns inevitably are too long and too narrow. The latest, the XL size knit in Lite-Lopi, was 22 inches before felting:

And 14.5 inches after (which is about what the pattern predicted).

Finished circumference, however, should be 24 inches, but it's 19. It will fit the intended recipient, but it might be a bit snug. In the future, I think I need to go up at least two sizes to get the circumference, but can knit the number of rows specified for my intended size.

I agree with Yarn Harlot: "I will never, ever believe that gauge is my friend." Particularly when felting.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Y'know, Nietzsche says, "Outta chaos COMES order."

After the last confusing blog post and a flurry of e-mail, sudden clarity dawns.

My victim has received her victim's work-in-progress. These are to be YarnSnob's Socks of Doom, and Yarn Fairy will put them in the mail to me. My assassin WoolieBagLady, after her Doom Socks arrive, will send my Doom-Socks-in-progress to WestOzCaat to finish.

It's all about the mail.


Based on recommendations from students, I've revised my toe-up sock course. I've switched it to Magic Loop instead of two circs. I've recommended yarn and needle size, specified gauge, and given explicit instructions on how many stitches to cast on. The flexible, open-ended instructions were just too confusing. I rewrote the short row instructions so that they're clustered into bulleted steps. If you'd like to comment on the new course handout, I'd love to have your feedback.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Ruined Italian Villa

You know how in The English Patient the characters are riding out the end of the war in a half-ruined Italian villa? That's kind of where I imagine I am in Sock Wars. The war is still going on, but I'm over here waiting to find out what's supposed to happen next. But I think it's about time for me to re-join the fighting.

(Maybe it's less like The English Patient and more like that period of time between Bourne Identity and Bourne Supremacy. I am the Jason Bourne of Sock Wars).

I've killed off Yarn Fairy. Yarn Fairy had already killed off Yarn4Kalei, and I believe had already finished socks for Kalei's victim YarnSnob before her Socks of Doom arrived -- but I don't think she's sent them. On her blog, Yarn Snob thinks she's offed her victim (Zari Zamen?) and her victim's victim (Delice?).

My assassin, WoolieBagLady, is a Dead Woman Walking, with socks from her killer WestOzCaat already on their way. WestOzCaat has noticed the holding pattern I'm in, and I think she wants to skip over it, and has begun contacting those folks downstream.

So while I wait for WoolieBagLady and WestOzCaat to decide who gets to try to kill me, I think it's time I reactivated and sought out exactly who I should be knitting for now. But is it Yarn Snob or is it someone much further down the chain? Ms Tarzan...is it you?