Monday, November 16, 2009

I Made Socks. No, Really!

I have long been one of those knitters who admire complicated-looking socks from afar. Sure, they look nice, but who wants to knit them? And yeah, sock yarn is fancier and prettier than most other yarns that I would consider wearing in public, but who wants to knit socks? OK, so there are a lot of challenging patterns out there and socks don't take very long to make, but...who wants to knit socks?

So I gazed at sock patterns from lauded designers such as Cookie A and Anne Hanson, but could never quite get myself over that whole "who wants to knit socks anyway?" hump. I would knit socks for other people once in a while, but never for myself. And then finally, something just snapped and I wanted to knit socks. Of course, not being a sock knitter left me with a giant hole in my stash: no sock yarn! The way other knitters tell it, you would think the stuff would multiply in my stash just by rubbing two skeins of wool together. But no luck. Then I scored some Regia sock yarn on major clearance at Little Knits and set to work.

Behold, the first socks I have ever knit for myself (both from Cookie A's book, Sock Innovation):



I have to admit that I got a little bored with the Wanida socks. They weren't really very challenging to knit. I'm going to knit up more pairs out of Cookie's book (but I will probably skip the simpler ones) as I come by more sock yarn. I think the appeal for me is the fun of working on complex patterns in small bits. I don't foresee myself as needing an entire drawer of hand-knitted socks just for the sake of having them. We'll see though...I think this is just the first step down the rabbit hole.

Oh, and I also got The Brain to take a few loooooong-overdue shots of me in my Hex Coat. (Norah Gaughan, Berroco Ultra Alpaca) I finished this back in June but just wasn't really happy with it so I never bothered with photos. I just really can't see myself wearing it, to be honest. It's long, heavy, slightly scratchy, and really large. I purposely knitted it at a smaller gauge than called for in the pattern and made the smallest size option (46" I think?) to try to get something close to normal ease with it, but it's still quite large. Please excuse my strange smile in the photo: it is not a look of smug satisfaction, but rather a grimace of "oh-my-god-get-me-out-of-this-thing-it-is-100-degrees-in-here!". Plus, I didn't know The Brain was including my head in the shot so that didn't help either. :-P

For those of you familiar with the Uptown area of Minneapolis, the painting behind my head is a print by artist Michael Birawer of Cafe Barbette. It was our favorite weekend brunch hangout when we lived in the area (I miss those buckwheat crepes!), and I got the print as a wedding present for The Brain. I encourage you to check out his online gallery. He has been painting notable hot spots in the Twin Cities for nearly 10 years now, and began adding scenes from Chicago in 2003. He has recently started painting Las Vegas, too! Many of his paintings include wooden cut-outs that are mounted on the main canvas to give it more of a 3-D quality. All of his works are vibrant and memorable, especially when you're familiar with the areas he depicts. I will definitely want to add more prints to my walls some day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


OK guys, pity party is over. Time to move on. Thank you all for your lovely comments (and to KGLO from the Rainy Daisy blog: thank you for all your kind comments -- I'm sorry I don't have an email address to respond to!). Things could always be worse, of course, so it helps to keep things in perspective.

You know what else helps? Working out. I've gotten into a better routine this year and I like that. I ran out to the store the other day because I had a gift card and I got this game for the Wii for only $10. Score! I have only used it once so far and I liked it, but I will give a more thorough review in the future after I've been using it for a while (if I remember...).

Speaking of reviews, I believe I promised a review of my new yarn swift! If you recall, my old swift was a homemade contraption that was falling apart and made winding yarn quite difficult. I did enough sample knitting that I was able to invest in this new swift from Crazy Monkey Creations. I really didn't want an umbrella swift that would need to be clamped to a table, and this was the best alternative I could find.

The website says to allow one to two weeks for production, and another 3-5 days for shipping but I got mine in about a week, if I remember correctly. I was very happy with that. Even though the swift came flat-packed in pieces, they include a very detailed photographic manual to help you put it together (but really, you probably don't need it). All the pieces are well-crafted and solid, and the whole thing smells like new wood--love that!

Now, because the whole thing is very sturdy, it is also a little heavy. I don't mind that, but it does make it a little difficult to haul around when I need to use it. To help solve this problem, I went to the hardware store and picked up a simple pull handle for a couple bucks and screwed it into the back of the swift. Now I can pick it up without grabbing the arms, which probably isn't the best thing to do with those fragile pieces.

The whole thing rotates very smoothly and evenly. I was a little nervous that the heaviness of the arms would cause the rotation to slow down, but it really doesn't. The one thing you have to be aware of is to make sure that the yarn-holding hooks are evenly placed on the arms. Because each one is adjusted individually, it can be a little tricky, but if one of them is way off it can affect the tension on the yarn as it spins. Thankfully, the hooks are very easy to move and there are guidelines etched into the wood to help you space them correctly.

Overall, I am extremely happy with this swift. It is a simple yet effective piece of hardware, and I really can't picture having any problems with it. There aren't any small pieces to break, there are no fussy strings to keep track of (as there sometimes are in umbrella swifts), and the only movable piece is a giant screw and that's not going anywhere. This swift gets a definite two thumbs up from me!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Quick Catch-Up

Oops. No post for a while. I would like to say that I've been super busy. Unfortunately, the opposite is true. I haven't been busy enough. Unemployment tends to leave you without much to do. I know: when you're employed you dream about having weeks and months of unscheduled time in which you can do whatever you want. You'd get so much done! Read all those classic novels you've never read! Clear out the storage closets! Paint the spare rooms! Learn new hobbies! Work out every day!

Pattern: Bamboo Socks by Lorraine Ehrlinger
Yarn: Trekking XXL

In reality, my days are more like this:

Get up.

Check email.

Read blogs.

Answer email.

Work out.

Run errands (if any--I try to spread them out over the week so I have something to do most days).

Scour employment boards and apply for jobs.


Pattern: Ethereal Fichu by Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer
Yarn: Buffalo Gold Buffboo

A couple weeks ago I was thisclose to getting an interview for a really good job. Not my dream job, but one that pays more than I was getting as an undergrad 10 years ago, which is the best offer I've seen since the economy went down the tubes. After working for a week on the written portion of the interview process (creating a two-page newsletter and writing a three-paragraph press release), I was not chosen to proceed. Whatever. Usually I don't even get a confirmation that these places even received my application. I've tried leaving my Masters degree off the resume but that doesn't seem to make a difference, so for my own pride I'm leaving it on.

I'm still getting test- and sample-knitting jobs from time to time. The above lace shawl is for Buffalo Gold, and I have another sweater in the works for Hannah Fettig as well. I am very grateful and happy to have this work. But DUDES, I need a job soon! Even if it's only for my sanity because I tell ya: I'm getting a little stir-crazy down here!

I'll try to post a review of my yarn swift up here soon. Preview: I LOVE IT!!!

P.S. Thanks for letting me whine. (Letting me? It's my own blog! LOL) It's been a long couple of weeks.