Thursday, May 24, 2007

There's No Place Like Home

... and I'm headed here today. Thank goodness.

I've been in Anaheim, California on business since last Wednesday. Nine days for something like this is a looooooong time. Especially when you're pregnant.
At least it's beautiful here (though the weather didn't warm up until yesterday).
Not much knitting progress has been done these past few days, other than fiddling with the Sea Wool. I decided to rip it out and put it back in the suitcase and focus instead on the jaywalker, which will be my plane sock today. It enjoyed the gardens at my hotel.

I did manage to make it to Disneyland one day -- 5:30 on a Tuesday afternoon seems to be a good time to see characters ... or at least the hosts with the most.

There was no way I was going to wait in line for a "real" picture, so for all of the character pics, you usually end up with strange children in there, too.

And you'd never guess it, but I also stumbled one one of these in a shop window on Mainstreet USA:
Getting a good photo was very difficult (I was really trying hard not to step on overtired children), but this is definitely an antique wheel. It had some spun wool on the bobbin and roving hanging from the flyer. Makes me miss my wheels!
I'm not sure if anyone really cares to look, but I've posted a full set of pics on Flickr. You can see them

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Help! (Seriously)

I'm getting ready to have my third full day in California, and if you look at the EDT date stamp on this post and subtract three hours, that's what time it is out here on the West Coast. The worst part of this is that I won't be done this evening until at least 11 p.m. Ugh.

But this is not why I need help. You see, I'm having some troubles with the Sea Wool, and was hoping for some feedback. Last night I tried on the cuff (did this yesterday and it was too tight to move over my heel, so I cast on again with the proper size needles and seemed to get better gauge--8 st/in) and this is what I saw:

See the ladders? Well, this picture just doesn't show you how bad they are. What should I do? Increase the number of stitches, cast on again and try one more time? Anyone have a good pattern for sea wool?

Since it's early and I'm not quite awake yet, I've opted instead to go back to the tried and true Jaywalker, who is slowly earning its trip to a theme park tomorrow night by being a true solace in this time of need (I detest frogging socks). As you know, I've done the first and this is the match. Not too far along just yet, but getting there.

The Jaywalker is quite nice in Regia silk, yes?

Friday, May 18, 2007

California Monkey Business

The flight out here to California was a long one ... broken up with a short layover in Dallas and a mad dash to a last-minute gate change (not fun in DFW period, much less for a pregnant woman) and three-hour legs on either end. Absolutely exhausting.

The Monkey Socks would like for me to tell you that they are now complete as a result. They were not happy freaking out the muggles on the airplane, and absolutely refused to be photographed over the mountains of the west. They did, however, enjoy the chair in my room at the Hilton and agreed to be photographed as they lounged in their completed state:

I haven't yet told them that I didn't bring appropriate shoes to take them out for a stroll...

In other news, there was a little progress on the second of the Jaywalkers, and I've started the Bordello Socks in a lovely green Sea Wool from the Loopy Ewe ... it's the pattern on the yarn band (I only brought the Monkey and Jaywalker patterns with me). These are done on 52 stitches on size 2 needles. I expect rapid progress. I started working on these at 5 a.m. PDT.

So that's all for now. My media facility opens today at noon and there are still a few details to hammer out before opening. It's time to get ready and go to work!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Quick One Before I Go Away

I've been up since 4 a.m. Pregnancy leg cramp, coupled with the fact that I'm getting ready to fly to California today. My cab will pick me up in about 70 minutes.

Over the past week or so, I've been getting quite a few questions from folks who want to know what I do that has me travelling so much. Well, I'm going to break my rule regarding blogging about work right now. (I just don't think it's a road you should go down because before you know it, you slip and complain about some jerk in the office, the Corporate Comm folks see your blog and well, then your private life just isn't so private anymore and you have taken real risks). I do corporate communications/media relations/public relations for a major medical nonprofit physician's organization. This week is our big annual scientific meeting, and we're going to be in Anaheim, California. Watch the news over the next week or so and see if you can figure out which meeting/organization it is and take a guess in the comments.

In any event, for me this year the challenge for this trip has been three-fold: how to manage my four-day maternity wardrobe over a nine-day meeting, getting the boys together and ready for me to leave (that's all FOUR boys -- two kids, husband and dog) and figuring out what knitting to take with me. You see, on my last trip I had to make an emergency trip for cotton. I don't plan on making an emergency trip for sock yarn in California -- particularly because I can't identify a decent yarn shop within a decent radius of the convention center. So I'm going prepared. Today on the plane, I plan to work on the partners to these:

The pinkish one on the left is the Monkey I completed on Monday and on the right is the Regia Silk Jaywalker that took me an astounding two days to complete. Given that I'm already 2/3 of the way through the leg on the second Monkey and currently doing the leg ribbing on the Jaywalker, I'd say there's a chance for real progress on today's two-leg flight through DFW.

But I'm definitely prepared to finish. In my suitcase I have another two skeins of Regia Silk, a hank of Sea Wool and the Footzey Foo Socks that Rock that I ordered a while back. If I have enough time to complete eight socks on this trip (three from the yarn in the suitcase and the pair on the plane today), I'll suffer from Knitter's Claw for sure.

Oh -- one more thing before I dash off. The MocCrocs were finished on Saturday too.

More from Sunny California later this week!

Friday, May 11, 2007

I Only Have Two Feet

So what in the world is up with THIS?

The current socks of my world, clockwise from lower left: MocCroc, one complete and the second on the foot section; Monkey's in Colinette Jitterbug (I actually meant to do these toe-up because I'm not sure I can gauge yardage right) and three Jaywalkers (don't ask) -- one in Ellen's Half Pint Farm merino/tencel blend from Stitches, one in Opal's "Owl" colorway and one in Regia silk.

I don't know how it came to this, really. Part of this I can blame on the sock virus that's going around, but part of it is attributed I'm sure to my upcoming nine-day business trip in California. Girl needs a plane project, after all. I usually do shawls, but these days I'm just not feeling the love. I figure a couple of socks in progress (the ones that are on Pony dpns or the rosewood dpns are doable on the plane) ought to do the trick. At least until the flight home :)

A word about the patterns. Now I thought that MocCroc had to be one of the fastest ones I've done. I was wrong -- the Jaywalker knits at lightning speed! The Regia one is less than 24 hours worth of knitting (with a workday in the mix) and I'm just about ready for the heel. I understand Cara's obsession with these socks, and I see myself wanting to make a million pairs (hence the other two in progress).


Sunday, May 06, 2007

Maryland, My Maryland (S&W)

All week long, I've been waiting for the anticipation and the anxiety to set in for MDS&W ... that Christmas Eve feeling that is difficult to shake and makes concentration at work quite difficult. On Friday night, I was more than a little worried.

But yesterday morning, I woke up at FIVE THIRTY IN THE MORNING and could hardly keep myself from fidgeting with excitement. It didn't help that there was a very loud group of baby birds outside who were obviously very hungry and trying to wake Mama Bird. Fortunately, my little chicks were all still asleep.

I fought off the anxiety, got myself prepared for the day, packed my bag and left my house at 7:30. I expected much more traffic than there actually was, and I got to the fairgrounds in about 30 minutes. Even though it was eight o'clock, there were tons of people going in already, so I wandered into the grounds, picked up my directories and started scoping out the vendors. My friend wasn't due to meet me there until 9, so I had an hour to kill.

I wandered with the knowledge that the gates don't technically open until 9, ogling yarns and rovings and animals and then happened upon David Paul at The Merlin Tree's booth. I stopped to smile at all the cute little wheels lined up and Dave started chatting. I told him who I was (we talked on the phone last week about saving me a wheel) and before I knew it, he and I had picked my specimen from the row and I was seated, being shown how this little beauty works and taking a practice spin. After I spun for a bit, the deal was cinched. I paid up and Dave even autographed the wheel for me (after all, he builds them by hand -- they're a work of art):

Honestly, I don't know that there's anyone quite as nice as Dave.

To complete my early circuit, I went up to the main exhibition haul to scope out the Koigu booth (I wanted to be there when the Koigu frenzy started so I could watch it ... it's like a 10-cent panty sale at the department store.) I walked the whole hall, but alas, no Koigu. Apparently they were a no-show and rumors were floating of a broken foot. I consoled myself with a much-sought-after-and-coveted Grafton batt. I think that the vendors who actually had Koigu (like the Mannings) really cleaned up.

From there, I started heading back to the front gates to wait for my friend when I ran into Knitty D and The City. They drove down on their own (as opposed to coming with the rest of the Rosie's crew) to make it in time for the Koigu rush, and so I had to break the news. Wendy and I left Christina in the Socks that Rock line at The Fold and we went to check the main hall one more time. This is what Knitty D had to deal with. She's on the far left bending over (sorry Christina!) and Wendy's on the other side in the pink tee:

Wendy and I walked through the main hall and then parted ways back at The Fold's booth. We swapped cell numbers and I went to meet my friend. Sadly, the mayhem of the day prevented us from hooking up again.

Memories from the rest of the day are far less linear. Animals, shopping, animals, more animals, more shopping ... My friend, her husband and I wandered through all the barns and booths, fondling fibers and talking about what spins well and what doesn't, how uncontrollable a stash can be without a plan (her stash rivals mine) and just having a lot of fun. We work together, you see, which is why she's going nameless here, and it's always really nice to do things outside the office with someone that's as much fun as she is. Her husband was a real trooper, too. He carried the Hitchhiker the whole day!

We saw the dog demos:

We wandered a bit more and then parted ways. I headed to get some lunch (got a lamb sausage from the Boy Scouts) and finally plopped down on a bench to rest and eat. Ran into Caroline from my spinning group and chatted and then, at 1, headed out to the blogger meetup.
The blogger meetups always drive me nuts. No matter where people say they're going to meet, it's hard to find -- primarily because we rarely see each others' faces! Unless you pick out something totally awesome to wear (like the socks I saw on the hill -- I don't know her name, but they were amazing), it's very tricky! So I plopped down with Sarah and a few other gals from spinners group and looked around, trying to pick out Gryphon with no luck. Oh well. It was a chance to take a load off, anyway.
By then, it was about 2 o'clock and I had just about had it. So I started heading back to the gates, stopping here and there to pick up little things (like some lovies for the boys -- even the wee one). I finally made it to the car and headed out. So here's the haul:
Clockwise from back left: HitchHiker Wheel from The Merlin Tree, a white batt of California Red from Apple Rose Farm, three ounces of alpaca fleece, Grafton fiber batt (dead center), silk hankies from A Touch of Twist, along with a few cocoons to process on my own, Cormo roving from Winterhaven Fiber Farm. The stuffed llama is for the wee one (each of the boys got one too, but they were asleep when I took this picture).
What you can't see in the picture is a ball of Jacob Sheep roving and a combo sett-stick and orifice hook from Woodchuck:

All in all, it was a good day. A fibery day. A friendly day. I'm seriously fighting the desire not to race back today, but I was very good with my budget and there's a lot to do around the house. There isn't anything else that I can't live without and truth be told, yesterday took more out of the pregnant lady than she cares to admit. But last night's dreams were sweet and I can always play with my new toy today to take my mind off of the festival itch!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Kitchener and Coffee

I don't know what's gotten into me lately with these socks.

Last night I finished up the first MocCroc and this morning, over coffee, I grafted the toe. Why not last night? Well, I decided that I'd wait and instead cast on for something small in Baby Ull. Here are the two together:

I have this vision of the wee one coming home in a pair of hand-knit socks.

And in festival news, tomorrow's the day! Is everyone ready?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Que sera, sera

Over the past few days, I've been googling MDSW and "Maryland Sheep and Wool" and not getting much in terms of blog entries. I wonder why? Last year, it seemed EVERYONE was buzzing about the festival and making plans and the anticipation all over Blogland was just plain palpable. Maybe, though, it was because it was my first time and I was so hyped up I just couldn't stand it? So what will this year's festival be like?

For me, it will be an interesting venture. I have the pleasure of accompanying a MDSW virgin around the show. She says she's excited to be going with someone who knows what they're doing (I didn't have the heart to tell her...ha!). I gave her her first spinning lesson on Monday at lunchtime and she's very enthusiastic. I think we'll have fun -- I love to show people new things and she's eager to see.

I also have a much more precise list this year than I had a year ago. Last year, the festival for me was all about the fibers -- I was a novice spindler at the time who was scoping out spinning wheels, new spindles and sampling fibers like a madwoman. This year, I know what I like and what I don't. I know what I can deal with, what colors I will actually use and, believe it or not, what I'd like to actually knit with the homespun.

I have a small list. It's tagged with vendor names so I know where to go for things directly, and I'm planning on keeping myself to the list with only one exception. If I find the booth where I bought Sugar Pie last year, I'm picking up more of her wool. Other than that, there are only five or six things there besides the Hitchhiker.

Last year for me, the hype around the Koigu mill ends and The Fold's booth (for the Socks that Rock, or STR) were an enigma. We wandered around looking for the postage-stamp-sized Koigu booth FOREVER and didn't find it until very few mill ends were left. (For the record, I got some, just to say I did.) I ended up getting my Koigu at the Mannings booth and I left with no Socks that Rock. This year, the Koigu and the STR are no longer mystery yarns. You see, this is what Stitches East did to me. Koigu mill ends were quite plentiful there (this is why they vaporized at MDSW last year, apparently -- vendors bought them to sell elsewhere I'm sure) and I had no problem whatsoever securing STR. I bought three skeins of lightweight (maybe the mayhem is over the mediumweight? Well, I've got news for you folks, they have it on-line and no elbows will jab you).

So I'm avoiding the mayhem, taking my time and having fun without shopping stress. What will be, will be.

Which brings me to the actual knitting content of this post. Firstly, the Moc Croc sock is nearly done. The pattern has a six-row repeat, and I try not to work on it unless I can do all six rows (I'm keeping track of the repeats so the second sock is the same) and work and life just haven't given me that kind of time. One more repeat, though, and I'm off the finish the first and start the second.

Now the STR sock is a different story. Let me tell you something about this guy. It is stubborn and resisted every time I tried to make it do what I wanted it to. What will be, will be.

I bought this yarn ("Downpour" colorway in lightweight) at Stitches East in November and it's been marinating in the stash ever since. I pulled it out a few weeks ago and wound it up. I cast on for a toe-up sock with a figure 8 cast on. I knit a few inches and decided that I hated the toe. Rrrrip! Did a rectangular toe (provisional with pickups) and went for a bit and realized that I hated that one too. Ugh. Put the yarn and needles aside in the UFO pile. This weekend, in my frenzy, I picked up the yarn again and tried it in a cuff-down Moc Croc. Too stripey -- hated it and ripped again. Started the Moc Croc in Fleece Artist instead. Found the lacey scallops pattern and gave that a try (that's what was in the other post). I went two pattern repeats and really hated that one too.

Finally, two nights ago, I sat the yarn down and gave it one last chance. Where these patterns not fancy enough for it? Is it too good for a lace motif?

Not at all. Turns out it just wants to be a plain old, cuff-down, stockinette sock. Que sera, sera.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Embracing the Mojo

For months, I've felt stricken -- lost without my sock mojo. This weekend, however, it came back with a vengeance like I've never felt before.
Allow me to explain. On Friday night, I came home from spinner's group at Cloverhill and picked up a new set of miters I've been working on (sorry, no pics -- it's very boring right now) and tinkered a bit before going to bed.
On Saturday morning, I woke up, poured myself some coffee and picked up the miters. They just weren't working for me. And, out of the blue, I picked up an unfinished object from the UFO pile and tackled the rest of this:
I only had three inches and the ribbing left on my butter pecan Lorna's Laces Widdershin. Pounded it right out and felt pretty good about finishing it (the jury is out on whether or not I'm going to make the match -- this yarn did NOT appeal to me and it's going to be a challenge to get me to cast on for the next one).

Feeling good about myself, I raided the UFO pile again and found another Lorna's Laces sock (notice a pattern here of abandoned socks?!?). These were the Carol Green socks that I started for the Yarn Sniffer about a year ago. I had only completed the ribbing. I started knitting away.
Now, for some odd reason, I had started this one cuff down (I've always been a toe-up devotee). I finished this sock up in record time and immediately cast on for the second. He was positively thrilled when he saw it was done and announced that he was going to wear Sock #1 while he waited for me to crank out #2 (I assured him that this could take some time so he took it off and the sock sat on my shoulder while I knit.) The second sock was finished by Sunday morning and they were deemed "awesome" by the Sniffer.

He slept in them that night and then wore them to school yesterday. They seemed to be the charm that helped the tooth come out :)

Not to stop the momentum, on Sunday after the green socks were done, I cast on with some Fleece Artist for a MocCroc sock from KnitPicks. Let me first say that this is by far one of the fastest, most enjoyable socks I have ever knit. Rapid progress often shows my delight with a project.

Then, that night when I reached the heel flap on the MocCroc, I cast on for some Lacy Scallop socks from Sockbug. I'm not far into this one yet, but so far so good.

The mojo has returned. Along with peace in my knitting mind (and the UFO pile).