Monthly Archives: October 2011

Rockin’ Socks For October

Fall is finally here, though you wouldn’t know it by looking at all the trees that haven’t changed color yet.  I’m putting my summer clothes away and pulling out all my sweaters and scarves.  Downtown Salem is off-the-hook crazy, in the grip of Halloween madness.  It’s annoying for a lot of locals because simple things we take for granted like driving down the street or getting a table in a restaurant become difficult and arduous.  I have a strict no-leaving-Salem weekend policy during October because, while getting out of Salem isn’t a problem, getting back in is.  The movie Bridesmaids is playing across the bridge in Beverly this Saturday night but I’m not going to go! I think this weekend is going to be the worst of all because Halloween falls on a Monday this year so everyone will turn it into a long weekend celebration. Bring on the crazy! I’ll be at home watching ghost hunter-type shows and knitting some socks. Say hello to my sock-in-progress, Grumperina’s Jaywalker. 

This is the second time I cast on for this sock. The first time I started it, I cast on 76 stitches, which is the smallest size on the pattern. I knit all the way down to the heel shaping before unraveling the whole thing and starting over.  This. Sock. Was. Huge. Huge! I could tell the leg was a little, shall we say roomy, but when the sock came halfway down my foot and I wasn’t even done shaping the heel, I knew there was a problem.  I started over and cast on 60 stitches onto #1 (US) dpns.  I know I’m committing blasphemy here, but *looks around nervously* I don’t bother knitting a test swatch for socks. It’s a gamble, I know.  This time I lost. 

I cast on 60 stitches, because plain socks on #1 dpns fit me. I know the zigzag pattern pulls in a little but I’ve been trying this sock on as I go along and it fits. I was able to catch up to my previous stopping point at the heel in a day and I’m working toward the toe now. I divided the stitches on 4 needles, 15 stitches per needle. I knit the zigzag pattern as follows:

Rnd 1 Knit all stitches. Rnd 2 k f/b, k5, dd, k5, k f/b.

This is a lot of fun to knit and I love seeing the color changes. I’m using Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight in the Currier and Ives colorway. I was attracted to this color because of its festive Christmas palette, but it’s muted.  The colors go from darks to lights, reds and greens, but shot through with sky blue and cream.  I’m surprised at how the sock is turning out. The blues are a little more prominent than the greens. The red is dominant, while the blue and green jostle for attention, and the white makes frequent guest appearances throughout. 

I’m having fun zipping along with this pattern, which barely requires any more attention than plain sock knitting. There’s only one problem here: I didn’t order enough yarn.  It gets worse: I made this mistake for not one, but two sock patterns.  Remember the Almondine sock in my previous post? It’s patiently waiting for its mate, while I impatiently wait for another skein of STR in Blackbird. You see, I picked out the yarn first, and the patterns second. One hank is usually enough for plain socks, but no, I had to get fancy.  Likewise, I can’t complete the Jaywalkers until the second skein of Currier and Ives arrives.  I’ve been cyberstalking my BMFA order hoping to see the status change to “Shipped” but it’s been almost two weeks and no change. I think they may be at Stiches East, so I might have a little bit of a wait before my yarn comes.

In the meantime I’ll work on my short-sleeved cardigan some more.  And I’ll go downtown and enjoy the Halloween excitement. This is my favorite time of year and the novelty of downtown Salem’s October atmosphere hasn’t worn off yet.  Last Saturday I caved in and temporarily suspended my boycott on $5 fried dough. It was delicious. I also ran into this guy, one of my favorite comic book/movie characters:

Hellboy! He called me Darlin’. 😉

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Dark, dark yarn

It’s 80 degrees out today, yet Salem is full-swing into October’s Haunted Happenings.  It’s only October 10th and so far I’ve survived the second annual Zombie Walk, which is silly, but I get it, the first annual Steampunk Walk, which I totally do not get, two weekends of Crazy Costumed Crowds, and criminally inflated prices on fried dough concessions.  It used to cost $3.00 a piece for most of the month, and then the price would go up to $5.00 for the last weekend in October through Halloween. This is the second year in a row stands have charged $5.00 all month long. ENOUGH!!

It’s crazy hot today, in a scary, global-warming kind of way, but that meant one last day to sit on the porch with a book, some knitting and my furry little friend Spike.  I’m reading Matthew Pearl’s The Poe Shadow, a mystery set in Baltimore shortly after Edgar Allen Poe’s death in 1849. I love period historical fiction, though I do find myself wondering how exciting this story can actually get, since Poe dies before the story opens and we’re following a protagonist who barely knew him as he tries to solve the mysterious circumstances of Poe’s death. I’m enjoying the period details, and Pearl’s imagining of early Baltimore.  After all, October is perfect for Poe, and all Poe-related musings.

I'm in a Goth mood today.

On the needles today: I present Almondine, a pattern by Anne Hanson from Ann Budd’s new  book Sock Knitting Master Class. It’s a simple but elegant lace pattern–nice mindless knitting, as lace patterns go. You can see how the diamond shapes undulate through the sock.  There are tiny lace peepholes in there as well.

The yarn is Blue Moon Fiber Arts’ Blackbird colorway, in lightweight superwash merino. It’s black without really having black in it, and I like that.  It’s all dark purples, reds, greens and blues.  There may be a tiny bit of black in there but I can’t tell anymore. I flipped through several sock books to find a pattern to do this colorway justice and once I saw Almondine my search was over.  The colors put me in a Halloween mood.  I’m quite smitten with the slightly goth turn this sock is taking, with its lacy diamonds snaking their way down the leg. I believe this sock would look equally fabulous on zombies as well as steampunks! I was going to knit something from Cookie A.’s Sock.Knit.Love. but the patterns there were way too technical and I wasn’t in the mood.  I’ll save Cookie A. for another day.

I made yarn!

I’m still zipping through that 8-ounce bag of Romney/alpaca blend fiber I bought in August.  I have two roughly equal-sized balls of yarn.  I need to decide whether I want two-ply or three-ply, though right now I’m nowhere near plying.  But happily, the spinning is coming along nicely.  I need to pick up the pace on the spinning end of things. I’ve been spinning for two years but have never knit anything from my handspun except for a couple of swatches.  I’ve barely even plied.  This yarn is destined for something warm, elegant and useful. I’m determined that his will be the first yarn I knit a project with.  It will not end up with the other random balls of yarn sitting in my cabinet. It never fails to blow my mind that I’m actually making yarn. I mean, who makes yarn?! I can’t remember how I became interested in spinning in the first place, but somehow I came across some examples and wanted to know more about the process of making yarn from start to finish, of taking ownership and having complete control over color and thickness.  It was definitely before Ravelry, and I can barely remember anything pre-Ravelry except for a handful of outstanding blogs. It was probably Hello Yarn, since I bought a beginner spinning kit from her five years ago or so.

I started knitting Almondine Saturday night and so I’m quickly knitting up this first sock while watching TV.  The weather will get cooler sooner or later, no more sitting outside to knit.  I had a good summer, but I love autumn so I won’t be sorry to see the hot weather go.  Now I can look forward to knitting inside with some cocoa or hot apple cider, and Spike flopped down on the couch next to me.  Sometimes…he tries to lick my knitting…

Have you met Spike?! 😉

The bad news: the world is ending. The good news: my spindle came.

When I moved my blog I vowed to post regularly on Wednesdays and Sundays. That hasn’t exactly happened.  I’m making an effort this week, but a day early, due to an unexpected day off from work.  A thunder and lightning storm started around five o’clock this morning.  At 7:30 I received an automated phone call that my workplace was going to open late due to the weather. I assumed it was because the parking lots were flooded, since they flood regularly when there’s heavy rain.  When I turned on the TV it became clear that the whole North of Boston area is underwater.  Strategic off-ramps leading from 128 are closed in Peabody, major roadways throughout Salem, Peabody, Swampscott, and Lynn, to name a few, are all closed due to extreme flooding.

Facebook updates from the Salem Fire Department are cataloging call after call responding to stranded motorists whose cars are partly underwater. That’s a pretty scary situation, and this morning there were several instances on the street I used to live on. There was a school bus full of kids stranded elsewhere in Salem.  None of the reports mention anyone injured so thankfully anyone who needed rescuing was successfully rescued.  But hours later roads are still closed and partially submerged, and TV news helicopters are buzzing around in the sky.  This area is currently under a state of emergency.

Since June Massachusetts has dealt with an earthquake, Hurricane Irene, and now this. I don’t even know what this is! It’s not Hurricane Ophelia, since that went offshore. Anyway, here’s a picture of Fort MacDonald’s, currently sitting in the middle of a moat, on Canal Street, which now has an actual canal. Across the street at Dunkin Donuts cars were abandoned at the drive-thru line because the water came up over their wheels. This is pretty crazy.

But you’re all here for the fiber, right? In my last post I told you about my shopping expedition.  I’m happy to report that my Bristlecone spindle and my Fat Cat Knits fiber arrived on Saturday.  This is my phoenix twindle, with a fiery orange Austrian crystal tip.  The shaft is birch. I gave it a quick twirl and man, did it ever spin! I still need to work on the nuances of support spindling, but here’s some Bristlecone eye candy. I call it Still Life With Pumpkin, just in time for the Halloween season.

Bristlecone's phoenix twindle

Here’s another shot, with a closer view of the crystal tip.

And what’s a new spindle without a little spinning fiber? The braid on the left is Fat Cat Knits’ Bugaboo colorway.  On the right is Curry. Both are Bluefaced Leicester.

I’ve been posting photos of tools more than projects lately. I’m at a seasonal impasse where work on my Noro Runway #4 short-sleeved cardi has slowed down. Halloween is upon us in Salem, and that has me thinking about skulls. I might start that slouchy skull cap pattern I bought on Ravelry.  The gnome mittens I started a few months ago will probably wait until that hat is done, and I might just keep those for myself, too.  I have decided not to knit anything for Christmas this year. Frankly, I’m too tired to worry about deadline knitting.  My family is dealing with a health crisis, and while, the outcome looks good, the next month or so will be taken up with hospital visits and procedures that could go into the holiday season.

I’ll spin and knit at my own pace to relax and to soothe my soul.