31 January 2007

In Memoriam

Molly Ivins died today. These are the first two books of hers that I bought & read, several years ago now. I was an instant fan, not just for her sense of humor, which was incredible, but most especially for her overwhelming sense of basic decency - the idea that we should each be good to our fellow humans. That and the radical idea that this nation belongs to and should be run by and for "We the People".

Her last article is here, and a tribute to her is here.

30 January 2007



I think I got that word right. As far as I can figure, it means "finished". Technically I'm only half-finished, since it's half of a pair, but this first one was a very successful experiment. I only fulled it by hand for a bit, then threw it in the dryer for about 20 minutes, so it still has pretty decent stitch definition. I need to try to figure out whether it's small enough or if more fulling is needed, but I figure I've got 11 months to decide.

I meant to write a bit about this yarn yesterday. As I've mentioned before, it's Strikkegarn from the Rauma yarn company in Norway. When I started working with it, I was a little surprised to find that it has that same "velcro" quality as Shetland wool. It doesn't say what breed the wool comes from, but I would think that spælsau is a good guess, especially since as far as I can tell, most sheep in Norway are at least the descendants of spælsau crosses. It's not a fine wool by any means - rather scritchy on the back of the neck but tolerable on the hands - but that velcrosity makes it full beautifully. And this little experiment has shown me that substituting the 3-ply Strikkegarn for the 2-ply yarns this pattern book calls for is going to work very well for fulled mittens.

A Little Geek Confession

While I was finishing this mitten up (and while I'm typing this, actually), I found me an online Norwegian radio station to listen to. Now, I don't speak Norwegian - yet. I've wanted to learn the language for a long time, for a variety of reasons, but it's not that easy to learn outside a structured program, particularly without a chance to practice. I thought it would be good for knitting a Norwegian mitten, though, to put myself in a Scandinavian state of mind. I've found that I can usually pick out enough words to figure out what they're talking about, just not enough to understand exactly what they're saying.

It also appears that Norwegians love 80's music. I don't think I've ever heard a newscast fade into "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" before. No a-ha, though, for some reason. It's a shame, 'cause that Morten Harket has still got cheekbones for days.

28 January 2007


...is Norwegian for "child's mitten." Last night my hands were feeling better, but I was tired and didn't feel like going downstairs to get the sweater. So I decided to pull out my recent purchases from Nordic Fiber Arts and cast on for my first selbuvott (Selbu mitten). I did a bit last night and worked on it today and got this far before my hands needed rest:


This is the palm side:


You can see the v-shaped Norwegian thumb gusset here. While this construction isn't quite as anatomical in some respects as a gusset that has the thumb coming out from the side (like these I made myself last year), it still provides more room for movement than the simple peasant thumb it's adapted from. Of course, mittens are intended more for warmth than dexterity, so I'm not sure that it's a terribly critical issue in most cases. Maybe I'll play around with it though when I get around to doing my own variations.

For these mittens, I'm using Raumagarn Strikkegarn, which is a 3-ply sport to DK weight yarn (I'm getting 6.5 st/in on 3mm needles). The pattern actually calls for 2-ply fingering weight Gammelserie yarn on 2mm needles, but I'm planning on fulling these to make them thicker, and my hope is that the increase in size is sufficient to account for the shrinkage. Right now they're big enough for a small woman's hand (I can get them onto my big hand, but they're super snug), and the hope is that they'll fit my niece, who will be 6 when she gets them next Christmas.

For folks who might be interested, while doing a bit of searching for links on selbuvotter I came across this site for a book on the subject that's supposed to come out this spring.

26 January 2007

How the Wind Doth Ram!

Folks, it's cold out. According to the indoor/outdoor thermometer on our bathroom windowsill, it is currently 2.1ºF out (-16.6ºC sounds even worse). And it hasn't bottomed out yet. And it's getting rather blustery out. David left this afternoon for a week-long trade show in Salt Lake City, so the beasts and I are semi-holed up in the TV room, which is the warmest room in the house. I will likely camp out in here tonight.

No knitting today, as my hands are still being temperamental. Instead I channeled my energy into sitting down and translating a pattern for Alpaca with a Twist yarn company. The logo above is some of David's handiwork - darling, no? Anyway, they had a knitter in Peru knit up some samples that didn't turn out quite right, so Jennifer asked David if I could do a little translating work. Or maybe David volunteered me. Either way, payment in yarn was mentioned, so how could I say no?

Translating knitting patterns poses some challenges. Aside from basic questions of word choice and word order, knitting terminology is not terribly standardized in Spanish, such that very different terms are used in different regions. Couple that with the fact that there are very few good resources out there, and it's difficult to come up with a terminology that can be understood both universally and easily. I think I managed it, but I suppose the proof will be in the pudding cardigan.

RedMaple Hits the Big Time

In other news, I managed to get the rabbit ears hooked up to the telly and fiddle around enough so that we could watch some of David's products make a guest appearance on The View. One of their stage managers owns alpacas, so they trotted a pair of them out on stage and the four hosts were all wearing alpaca accessories. Of course, David's hat and scarf ended up on the blonde Republican, Elisabeth Whatsherface, instead of Rosie or Joy Behar, but I suppose Republicans get to wear alpaca, too.

Soapbox Time

Still, when she said that raising the minimum wage was bad for small businesses, I wanted to reach through the TV and slap her. Taxing small businesses at a higher rate than megacorporations because they don't have huge lobbies and can't move overseas hurts small businesses. When workers are paid a living wage, then they can actually spend more of their money (and people on the minimum will generally spend ALL their money. They don't make enough to save any of it), which helps small businesses and the economy in general. And because the current minimum wage is too little for people to live on, there are very few small businesses that aren't already paying above the minimum, anyway. Girlfriend needs to get a damn clue.

Okay, I'm climbing down now.

23 January 2007

Photos (And Tinking) Ahead

First of all, there's my sister's mystery birthday present. Here it is on the recipient. Apparently it arrived, very opportunely, just in time for a sleet storm. I was very pleased with how this turned out and should probably sit down and write out the pattern.

Then there's a progress report on the sweater. I finished the lower body...


...and started on the first sleeve.


Now, I don't expect anyone to be able to pick this out, particularly from this small photo, but I was having some problems with this sleeve. The short seed stitch cuff worked out great, and I owe JoVE for that suggestion. Since this is supposed to be a comfy sweater, I didn't want ribbing, and this doesn't bind and is still stretchy.

No, the problem was all my own doing and it had to do with the increases. I was a bit inattentive early on and for the first two or three increase rounds, my right-leaning M1's were twisted (as are many right-leaning things, but I digress) because I didn't knit through the back loop. And on one of the increase rounds I made either two right-leaning or two left-leaning M1's. Now, I know this is not a huge deal - they're on the underside of the sleeve where nobody is likely to look, and who'd notice anyway?

Well, I, for one, would notice. And as I thought about it, I realized that what was now a niggling irritant would, by the time I started the second sleeve, become a nagging one, and by the time the sweater was finished, it would haunt me like The Telltale Heart. I'd walk up to strangers on the street, lift my sleeve, and yell, "Villains! Dissemble no more! Here, here! It is the improper leaning of its hideous increases!"

This, I decided, would not do.

So I picked up the stitches just above the cuff...


...and let 'er rip.


You will note that I decided to go magic loop for this redo. The wood needles at relatively tight gauge were hurting my hands. It didn't help that all I had when I cast on was a set of Clover dpn's. By the time I got to my LYS this morning and switched them out for some Brittanys, the damage was done. I find the cables annoying with magic loop, but at least I get to use my Addis. And with those corrections made, I was able to get back to where I had been in very short order.


Much better. And yes, I'm giving my hands a little rest.

20 January 2007

Lazarus, Come Forth!

Brenda is back! After a distressingly long hiatus, she's got a brand new episode of Cast On up just for your listening pleasure. And, well, I even got a little mention.

The other night I was catching up on some old CBC Radio 3 podcasts, and heard a song by the band Birds of Wales. They're these cute Canadian guys and they're really cute and, um, oh yeah, they also play some nice tunes. In fact, I thought their sound was right up Brenda's alley, and their name, of course, was a natural fit. So I e-mailed her to make the suggestion and lemme tell ya, she wasted no time at all. So check them out, as well as a nice interview with Lucy Neatby, about whose DVD's everyone is raving lately (I wonder if they're available on Netflix?).

Another long overdue return to the Knitternet is Celtic Knitter, who was apparently stuck in cubicle hell for far too many months. He was missed and we are glad to have him back.

Here in my world, I've had a bit of a setback in getting my sleep issues sorted. The sleep study I had scheduled for next week was cancelled on me. They decided my issues weren't well-documented enough for insurance to cover the study (Duh! That's why I wanted the study!), and oh, we really just do sleep apnea. So after consultation with the physician's assistant, we are pursuing referral to a neurologist who deals with sleep stuff.

My hope is that we'll be able to do something without resorting to drugs, but from what I can find, I'm not sure if there are many good options going that route. The last two mornings, though, I've woken up to find David sleeping on the mattress pad because my thrashing around in my sleep has been keeping him up, so clearly something has to be done.

On the knitting front, work continues apace on the comfy sweater. Only about 18 more rounds to go on the body, and then I can set that aside to work on the sleeves. There are times when being relatively long of torso and broad of chest is disadvantageous, and this would be one of them. Still, there's a lot of winter yet to go, and I really, really want this sweater

Tomorrow, I try to tackle and conquer my desk space, which has become overrun with odds, ends, and numerous UFO's and stash escapees. It will almost certainly mean some time spent in the frog pond. Wish me luck!

18 January 2007

Sweater In Progress

About a week or so ago, I decided to restart a basic comfy sweater in some Nature Wool Chunky I'd gotten on clearance from Webs. Even going down 0.5mm and knitting a tighter-than-ballband gauge was leaving me with a looser fabric than I wanted, so I just cast on de novo and started with smaller needles. I'm planning a basic raglan - just a nothing-fancy pullover that I could have used the last two nights to keep me warm. Progress has been pretty good by my standards.


The one problem I was having was with the roll cuff I'd originally planned. Instead of casting on 90% of stitches and then increasing as with ribbing, I thought I'd probably get by just with the transition to the larger needle size - the suddenly looser fabric helping to stop the roll. I was a bit very wrong about that, and it left me contemplating alternative options, halter top not being one of them. The more astute among you have probably already noticed that I decided to go with a hem.


Last night I pulled out a ball of Patons Classic Merino in "denim marl" from my stash and picked up stitches around, following EZ's instructions in her Knitting Workshop, which is a recent addition to my knitting library. After 2,488 knit stitches and the 202 final stitches tacked down with singles, I have a fairly neat hem, if I do say so myself. I think that for the sleeves I'll probably go with a garter stitch cuff to keep bulk to a minimum, and I'll keep the roll cuff at the neck because it'll be less of a problem there and I just like the look of it.

Could You Just Plotz?

The boys were taking a nap together this afternoon. A gratuitous photo, yes, but how could anyone resist such cuteness?


17 January 2007


That's what today's been all about. When I got up to pee at around 6:30 this morning, the temperature was at 1.3ºF. By noon it had barely managed to creep into the double digits, and now that the sun's gone down, that modest gain is starting to wane. I am wearing thermal underwear (top and bottom), a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, jeans, and three pairs of socks, and my toes are still cold. Tomorrow should get a bit warmer, though, and tomorrow night is supposed to bring snow (and/or rain, but I'm being hopeful).

A Little Rave and a SEX* photo

I wonder what sort of Google searches that will pick up. Anyway, I sort of alluded to it in yesterday's post, but I made a trip yesterday afternoon to see Debbie at Nordic Fiber Arts and get some yarn for mittens for my nieces for next Christmas, as well as some pattern books.


I ended up spending two hours there - looking at yarns and pattern books, but mostly just chit-chatting. Debbie's a Minnesota native who has lived in this area for about 30 years, so we've had some fairly common experiences. Turns out she also knows Landladies Paula & Wendy. Mostly, though, she's just a really nice person and was fun to talk to. She also had some yarns from her stash she offered me for Dulaan, so in addition to the above modest haul, I also came home with a bag of thicker yarns that will make some nice stranded hats and mittens to send to Mongolia.

Looking through the Selbustrikk pattern book, the patterns are actually all for fingering weight yarns. I got the DK weight Strikkegarn (literally, "knitting yarn" - gotta love those Norwegians), though, and I think that should work well for knitting the patterns as written and then felting them down to make a nice, thick, and very warm mitten. Should they end up coming out too small, I can always ship them off to Dulaan where they can find a smaller pair of hands for them. My plan is to knit a matching pair for Dulaan anyway, so that the niece, nephew, sibling, or parent who receives a pair can think of another person being warmed by an identical pair in Mongolia.

One thing I forgot to ask about when I was there was translations for the Norwegian knitting terms. A lot of them I found I could figure out, anyway, as it's all charted and jeg kann litt norsk forstå, but I did a bit of searching online and I found this page. If any of you are contemplating some Scandinavian designs, it might be worth bookmarking.

*I expect I don't really need to explain to most of you, but in case you came across this post while looking for something very different, SEX is a common knitter's acronym for "Stash Enhancing eXpedition".

Thank You...

...to those who made a contribution to Heifer. I realize that some of the folks reading this little blog have already donated and do so regularly anyway, but I know there are certainly others who hadn't and thought a little reminder for them might help, particularly since the stuff in the sidebar isn't what really gets looked at day in and day out.

And if you haven't donated, please consider doing so. I think a lot of us end up not donating because we don't feel we can give a large donation. When you're giving isn't the time to be size-conscious, though. Even small donations can be put to use and are appreciated. When you consider that some of the people helped by Heifer and similar organizations earn the equivalent of a few pennies a day, a $5 donation can be a very big thing.

Anyway, I think that's enough beg-a-thon for the time being, but I will be keeping my eye on that thermometer thing and trotting it back out if necessary.

16 January 2007


I've been watching this little thermometer thing, and I've been noticing a distinct lack of upward movement over the past few weeks. Now, I have also seen just how much Steph's little drive has been able to generate. Some of that astronomical sum even came from me (as did some of the pathetic little sum above). Something's just not adding up here, though.

Now, I know I haven't written a book, let alone half a dozen, and this little blog doesn't generate 4,078,307.6 comments per post, but my goal is also considerably more modest than $240K. I also know that this, my little piece of the web, is getting somewhere around 100 hits per day on average. If each of those 100 people would just donate a paltry $7.70, then this very tiny goal could be met in one day. Just $7.70. That's less than the cost of two pattern booklets, less than 1/3 the cost of one of the Barbara Walker Treasuries. Hell, that's only an hour and a half's labor at minimum wage.

More importantly, this work and the work of MSF are really two parts of the same whole. When people can feed themselves and sustain themselves and their communities, then there is less hunger, less disease, less violence, less war - and less of the kinds of desperate situations MSF work so hard to deal with and mitigate. It's not a matter of either/or - both are essential.

So please try to help out. And tomorrow I'll be back to rave about Debbie at Nordic Fiber Arts and how much she rocks.

13 January 2007

Choices, Choices

The Alien,

or The Superhero?

That's been the burning question most nights around here lately (well, the nights that I'm not working, anyway). Courtesy of Netflix, we have been able to choose between Season 2 of Project Runway and Season 1 of Ultraman. Both are multi-disc offerings, so we've been alternating between the two for about a month now.

Project Runway - or 'Runway Club', as David likes to call it - is fun, and we are really loving to hate that prick Santino and all, but I was so very excited to find Ultraman. I used to LOVE this show when it first aired in the US back in the early '70's, and this is the first I've seen it in about 34 years.

As a 3-year-old, I just remember it being cool that Ultraman could shoot rays by making a cross with his arms. Watching it now, I love it for its camp value - the whole low budget aspect of it is just fabulous fun. Couple that with the low production value of the DVD - the soundtrack switches from dubbed English, to subtitles, to straight-up Japanese seemingly at random and with no regard for the purported settings - and it's guaranteed to entertain every time. I highly recommend.

11 January 2007

6 Weird Things

Elemmaciltur tagged me for this meme. I'd actually been contemplating what I might write since I first saw this one making the rounds. Most of these are already in my "100 things" post, and narrowing them down was a bit of a challenge. It's kind of hard for me to say what's weird when it's my normal, so I guess I'd tend to consider these quirky or unusual, rather than weird. Except for #4. That one I just don't get.

1) When I eat M&M's, I sort them out by color and eat them in an orderly fashion - either all of one color or one of each color in sequence. If I have more of one color, I'll eat the extras first so that I have the same number of each. This extends in some form to many other foods - saving the good stuff (tofu, paneer, etc.) out of a dish to eat last, like eating the cake first and then the frosting.

2) I have more hair on the left side of my chest than the right, thanks to a Becker's nevus. The dermatologists who diagnosed it almost wet their pants, they were so excited. And no, I will not post photos.

3) I have fairly long toes and can, and frequently do, use them to pick things up.

4) Foot fetishists love my feet. Again, I will not post photos.

5) When I was 12, my brother knocked out one of my lower incisors while wrestling on Christmas Eve (long-ish story, but it boils down to one of those times when being the oldest sucks). It was over 19 years and a few surgeries later before I had an implant to replace it. I still rarely smile enough that my teeth show.

6) Despite my fair complexion and blue eyes, I have had a number of people ask if I am of mixed race. Aside from one Seminole ancestor 5 or 6 generations back, I am not aware of any mixing, but since most of my ancestors lived in southern states and a lot of those genealogies are vague beyond a few generations back, I suppose anything's possible. Besides, if I am a racial mutt, that puts me in a group with people like hottie Wentworth Miller (and, of course, our own Franklin and Sister Sue), and how could that be a bad thing?

I'm not going to tag anyone, because I'm not really good at that and because a lot of the blogs I read have already done this one. Trying to decide what to classify as "weird" was an interesting process for me, though, so if you haven't done it, you might enjoy it.

Note: Because some asswipe has decided to start posting spam comments to this blog, I'll be moderating comments from here on. I recommend that all of you go to this person's blogs here & here and flag them (upper right of the page) for objectionable content. This sends an alert to Blogger and will hopefully result in their being deleted. Doesn't keep them from coming back, I know, but why make it easy for them?

09 January 2007

The Weekend That Wasn't

I'm not quite sure where the last three days went. I know that a good bit happened, but it all seemed to fly by so quickly that I've felt more like I've been going through the motions. Most of it has seemed to revolve around David's Christmas cold, which ended up turning into post-New Year bronchitis, which meant no sleep Saturday night and a Sunday morning trip to the nearest urgent care facility. At least with some antibiotics on board his coughing jags were fewer and farther between, but we still both ended up sleeping through a good bit of the day today.

One thing I did manage to knock out was a quick gift for my baby sister, who turns 25 the Friday after next. One of the skeins I bought at Rhinebeck from Briar Rose Fibers was picked specifically with her in mind, but I hadn't decided what to make with it. I was inspired by an item in the latest knitty, but the final design is very much my own. Since I don't know how often she stops by this blog, I can't show the FO just yet, but I thought I would show just a little detail.


I've got enough of the yarn left over, that I may see if I can knock out something else to match before I pop it in the mail to her. And if I'm lucky, I may be able to talk her into modeling it for me, so I can share with all of you.

And now, the pedal thingie awaits to see how far we can go before I fall asleep.

07 January 2007

I Told You My Feet Were Big

So here's the first sock completed:


I finished it up early Saturday morning at work, all except for darning in the ends, because I'm not sure where my needles have gone. After I finished it, I decided to see how much it weighed and make sure I had enough yarn before casting on for sock #2. The finished sock is 61.8g, and the amount of yarn remaining in the ball is 51g. Naturally.

So I stopped by the LYS on my way home from work to see if they had any of the Bearfoot yarn in 'Ruby River' colorway. No such luck. No big problem, as a quick call to the Yarn Basket (aka, the Yarn Closet) over in Portsmouth and they set one aside for me.

The hardest part of that little trip was finding parking, as the ungodly warm weather (69ºF/20ºC - W!!T!!F!!) had people out in summer-sized crowds. After driving around about three times as long as it takes me to drive from home to Portsmouth, I found a spot and parked. When I got to the closet shop, there were five adult human beings crammed inside. My arrival meant that one of them had to leave so that I could fit. The purchase was otherwise uneventful, though, and I drove home sweltering in my already-light-for-the-season sweatshirt. As this yarn is handpainted, it's a little bit of a crapshoot as to how closely the two socks are going to match up, but I figure it's not as critical an issue with variegated yarns in the first place. It'll be close enough, and before long I'll have the first pair of socks I've made for myself.

Belated Xmas Photo

I'm not quite sure what's taken me so long to get around to photographing this, but play yarn arrived for me today from Halcyon Yarn, so I sat down and warped the inkle loom to play around a bit and get an idea for setting it up to do some basic patterns. Next step will be teaching myself how to do pick-up patterns and actually get beyond plain bars and stripes a bit.


05 January 2007

The Dread Pink Eye, or Unusual and Gross Hazards of My Workplace

Around 6AM yesterday, as my shift at work was winding down, I noticed that my right eye was hurting a bit. As it didn't seem likely to be transient after a few minutes, I looked in the mirror and saw this:


As if all the snot and bubbling sinuses and coughing from my Christmas cold weren't enough.

Now, I know most people associate this with unsanitary children rubbing their grubby little hands in one another's eyes, but I don't generally have a lot of interaction with children in my line of work and I certainly don't let them rub their hands in my eyes. Aside from that, I wash my hands about every five minutes over the course of my fifteen hour shifts, so "grubby" certainly doesn't apply to me. So WTF?

Of course, I do deal with animals, who are almost as dirty a group as children*. Still, it wasn't initially apparent to me what had most likely happened, but as I pondered the answer finally came clear. Several hours prior to the onset of symptoms - in fact, pretty much exactly the length of time a bacterial infection would need to take hold - I had seen a young pit bull bitch who was rather inclined to bite and in need of chemical restraint to enable me to evaluate and treat her heavily bleeding leg.

In the course of restraining her in order to administer a sufficient dose of a morphine/tranquilizer cocktail to ensure everyone's safety, she released a considerable amount of bodily fluids. I won't elaborate, but suffice to say that some of them became airborne and some were apparently aerosolized sufficiently to bypass my glasses and land in my eye without my noticing it.

Aren't you jealous that you don't have such glamour in your career?

*Some of you may protest this assertion. I'm sure many of you are grasping your chair screaming, "Animals are not as dirty as children, you #*&%)*$&^!" I assure you, though, I have spent plenty of time around both and the matter is very, very debatable.

03 January 2007

Widdershins - The Generic Version

Last summer's issue of Knitty focused on knitwear for the extremities - socks, gloves, wristwarmers, hats, etc. - and contained the widdershins sock by Brooke Chenoweth Creel. This pattern was generally well-received, its primary innovation (unvention, perhaps?) being a toe-up version of the round heel & sl1, k1 heel flap, which allows the knitter to do a toe-up sock and still have a fairly classic, durable heel construction.

The only real problem with the pattern is that it was written for a foot of 8 inches in circumference. For folks who want to knit this sock for larger or smaller feet, this presents a bit of a challenge, as it means sorting out questions like how many stitches should go where, and what exactly does p31, p2tog really mean to me? I sat down and sorted it out such that with the socks I'm currently knitting it only took a couple of quick calculations in my head and promised Don and some other folks with math anxiety a few weeks ago that I'd write it all out.

Explanations for most of the abbreviations are on the widdershins pattern linked above. For general information on sock construction, there are several good books available, so I'm not going to launch into exposition on that subject. Because the pattern doesn't specify and because I'm anal-retentive, I do directional increases (m1l and m1r), directions for which can be found here. To make the calculations easier, I work the sock on a multiple of four stitches, rather than the odd number specified in the pattern. My assumptions here are that the sock is being knit with sock yarn or similar weight and that the knitter understands some basics of sock construction.

The first step, obviously, is determining gauge and calculating a number of stitches that is divisible by 4 such that n x 4 = total stitches desired. As I do socks on 5 dpn's, I want to end up with n stitches on each needle when I have finished my toe. My personal preference at the moment is to do a figure 8 cast-on such that there are n stitches on each needle, then divide the stitches fairly quickly onto four needles and alternate plain rounds with increase rounds as follows to make a wide band toe:

k2, m1l, knit remaining stitches on needles 1 & 2 until there are two stitches remaining on needle 2, m1r, k2, repeat for needles 3 & 4. Alternate with plain rounds until each needle holds n stitches.

Note: This should work equally well for two circs by placing stitch markers to divide the stitches on each needle in half, such that you end up with n stitches on either side of the marker.

At this point, you could either do a plain sock or pattern and will knit in pattern until the sock is about 2½ inches shorter than the desired length (or 3 inches shorter than the foot, as you want the sock to stretch a bit to conform to its intended foot). It is important to do your gusset increases on the needles that correspond to the sole and heel, particularly if you are patterning on the instep, but other than that it really doesn't matter whether you do them on needles 1 & 2 (as I do) or 3 & 4 (as the original pattern does). You just don't want to do them on 2 & 3 or 4 & 1, or you will end up with a heel perpendicular to the toes. For sake of consistency, I'm writing instructions here as on the original pattern.

Knit in pattern across needles 1 & 2
On needle 3, k1, m1l, knit to end of needle
On needle 4, knit until one stitch remains on left needle, m1r, k1

Alternate the above increase round with plain rounds until you have increased 10 stitches each on needles 3 & 4

Turn Heel:
Knit in pattern around until needle 4
On needle 4, k8, m1l, k1, w&t
p10 to end of needle 4, p8 on needle 3, m1p, p1, w&t
k10 to end of needle 3, k6 on needle 4, m1l, k1, w&t
p8 to end of needle 4, p6 on needle 3, m1p, p1, w&t
k8 to end of needle 3, k4 on needle 4, m1l, k1, w&t
p6 to end of needle 4, p4 on needle 3, m1p, p1, w&t
k6 to end of needle 3, k2 on needle 4, m1l, k1, w&t
p4 to end of needle 4, p2 on needle 4, m1p, p1, w&t

Knit one complete round, picking up wraps and knitting them with the wrapped stitches as you come to them. This should bring you back around to the end of needle 3 and you should have n + 14 stitches on each of needles 3 & 4.

Heel Flap:
Knit n - 1 stitches on needle 4, ssk & turn work without wrapping

sl1, purl to end of needle 4, purl n - 1 stitches on needle 3, p2tog & turn without wrapping.

sl1, k1 to end of needle 3 and continuing on needle 4 until you have n - 1 stitches on your right needle, ssk & turn without wrapping.

Continue in this manner, always slipping the first stitch after you turn your work and decreasing at the end with p2tog or ssk, as indicated above.

As you continue in this fashion, you should begin to notice a gap between the ssk or p2tog of the previous row and the next gusset/heel stitch to be taken up. Continue until all the gusset & heel stitches have been used except for one remaining gusset stitch on needle 3. When you do the final SSK on needle 4, you will NOT turn the work but continue on around needles 1 & 2 in pattern and k2tog on needle 3 to incorporate the final gusset stitch remaining on that needle. This is important, as you will otherwise end up with the holes at the top of the gussets that this pattern is supposed to avoid (ask me how I know this). You can then continue up the leg and finish as desired.

So far I have only done this with n as an even number, but I've considered the possibility of an odd n and it doesn't seem to me that it should make a significant difference in the end result, so long as one remains attentive to the stitch count (and we all do that, right?). Other areas where I could see a need for modification of this method would be adjusting the number of gusset or short row increases when doing very tiny feet or when working with significantly different yarn weights. Any feedback as to whether you find this helpful or if something needs clarification would be very welcome.

02 January 2007

Auld Lang Syne (And All That Jazz)

Well, the holiday season draws to a close and a new year begins. We arrived home late Saturday night from Minnesota to find a couple inches of snow on the ground - finally! Of course, our New Year's rainstorm washed it all away, but it was good to see that it can actually happen.

Our visit with David's parents was short and awkward, but his mother did at least manage to play nice. It was clear that it was a strain for her, but we managed. The family members who were supposed to come Friday turned back because of bad weather, so we skipped out early both to cut short opportunities for unpleasantness and to avoid being on roads much after dark because of the ice potential. Of course, the issues David tried to raise in advance she simply refused to address, so there's still much left unresolved, but his father seemed to have no problem with my being there and was actually quite welcoming, so I think that probably helped the long-term situation.

Back in the Twin Cities we were able to go out to dinner with Chris & Leon and get in a brief but very nice visit. Then Saturday morning we met up with Sean and his partner Darren for brunch and had a really enjoyable time. I definitely hope (and fully expect) to meet up with them again in the future.

As I mentioned in my previous post, we had a very nice visit with Mike & Sue & kids. They had guest stockings for us full of goodies, and the kids got to do their own gift shopping this year and got us some very sweet gifts. We also came home with this lovely banana tree ornament made while we were there by Not-So-Flat Gabriella, who was quite the hostess.


Also mentioned in the last post, I brought along a sock project - Bearfoot yarn in Ruby River colorway, basic toe-up with figure-8 cast-on, band toe and Widdershins heel:


Mike & Sue's second son Elliot, aged nearly 8, was particularly interested in watching the sock grow and asked a lot of questions about the construction details. He's also insisted that I take pics of the socks once they're finished and wear them when I return to MN for a visit (as if I wouldn't!).

One Christmas gift that I haven't managed to take a photo of yet but totally loved was a complete surprise from David. He bought me a handmade inkle loom that a weaver he knows was selling! I was so excited that I took it to work that night and warped it with cheap cotton twine from the hardware store, just to get a feel for the process. My paternal grandmother bought a mass-produced inkle loom back in the 70's as one of her many craft tinkerings and I used it the summer I was nine to make myself a rather wonky knit belt (in red, white & blue acrylic, as I recall), but I hadn't used one since. Today I should be receiving an order of inexpensive cotton warp yarn and a thin volume on inkle weaving from Halcyon Yarn so I can actually play at making something real, or at least semi-real, with it.

And a New Year Begins

I rang in the new year at work, not surprisingly, and ended up sleeping there most of the day, as the roads were quite icy when my shift ended. Since I was on the job, bubbly was sparkling cider, and since David was still feeling rotten, he didn't manage to make it up to give me a kiss at midnight, as he did last year (So romantic. Is it any wonder I love him to pieces?). Still, it wasn't too bad a beginning - some challenging cases but generally more low-key than the day shift had been.

And now as we move into the second day of 2007, I have my niece and nephew here once again on their return trip to their mother in Phoenix. I will be waking them up at 4AM to catch a bus to Logan airport for their early morning flight. I wish I'd had more time to visit with them, but every chance I get is a good one, particularly given how far away they're living. At least they get to go home with socks knit with love, and I get the satisfaction of knowing my work was appreciated.

When I get home, there will be no resolutions to put into effect. A resolve, perhaps, to hammer out the dent all the holiday goodies made in my diet, but not a resolution. My intent doesn't change just because the year is new, and I feel like goal-setting should be an ongoing process, not just reserved for one day out of the year. Besides, I'm generally of a mind with Mark Twain in the quote on Mar's blog.

That said, I still want to wish each and every one of you a

Happy New Year!!!