Thursday, April 30, 2009

There and Back Again - West Virginia Edition

We went to Martinsburg, WV last Saturday as part of a tour organized through county parks & recreation. First stop was a chocolate shop
They had a whole case full of just truffles, in addition to the displays of their other candies (chocolate cover tofees, anyone?) We also got a tour of the kitchen. The guy in the middle with the red hat is Charlie, and yes, this is his chocolate factory.
We had lunch at a local restaurant called the Blue & White and walked around Queen St., the main drag. It seemed a pretty sleepy place, in general. There's the town hall, shops, including an antique place with a walking wheel in the window. There's plenty of art glass in West Virginia, and this town was no exception.
Pretty, but also more than a bit nerve-wracking to walk through. Must. Not. Break. Glass.

The last stop on the tour was the childhood home of Belle Boyd, who, as you can tell from this plaque, was quite a busy person.
The Boyd house had 2 great wheels, one of them looked mostly complete, in my inexpert opinion, at least, though it lacked a drive band. I'm not sure if they actually did any hand spinning as part of the housework during Belle Boyd's time. I've heard tell of Southern ladies lovingly producing butternut homespun for their strapping young soldiers, but it could just be sentimental hooey. I got the impression from some of the place names that Martinsburg, which changed hands lots of times during the war, was a milltown at some point.
If that was the case, it would have been silly to try to clothe an army with handspun when you had a textile factory at your disposal.

As for knitting, I've made a few changes in my sock lineup. The crazy rainbow Jaywalkers are no more. After all that fiddling because the smallest written size was too big, the modified version was just too small. The sentence was death by ballwinder. It was all very sad. But in other news, I've made a wee bit of progress with the second diamond weave sock. Here is the picot cuff in its pre-hemmed state:
I started an easy stocking stitch sock in a sunny colorway of Heart & Sole to work on in transit.
Half of this sock was done while watching Antebellum at Woolly Mammoth. (Belle was a worldly, sophisticated actress, but I'm sure she would have found that whole play pretty mortifying.) The bottom half of the sock was mostly done at the Spring Gala rehearsal. I do love mindless socks. They make me feel like a super multitasker, when in fact I am that worst of combinations, a lazy overscheduler.

Lest you think all is forgiven between me and Heart & Sole, let me share this:
The white arrow part should be the same shade of green as the red arrow part. But of course it's not. Grrr! Fool me twice, shame on me. The sad part is that I really like this yarn. The really sad part is I've got lots of it in the stash. There will be more complaining, that's for sure.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Color Footprints & Socks of Yesteryear

The orange socks are a done deal and they are oh so very bright. The second sock took forever. I kept straying to do other things like zombie book reading and doughnut terminology investigating. I also made a couple of ginormous cable scarves in very neutral tones to offset the shocking footgear I was unleashing on the world. How many color offsets do I need to make up for this:
Yes, I started a new loud sock. This is the Jaywalker (link requires Ravelry login) using Colinette Jitterbug in the Mardi Gras pattern. It is really stunningly insanely loud. It slipped my mind that Jitterbug was on the thick side of fingering, so this is actually my second attempt. The first one, knit as written for the smallest size, was way too big. This modified version is done over 68 sts, with k6 instead of k7 on either side of the double decrease. I knit a chevron sock once before, but I'd forgotten how inelastic they were. It's still a bit tricky to get the needlepoint through to do the double dec, even with my teensy 9" Hiya Hiyas keeping the circumference to a minimum.

I'm trying, with limited success, to be better about my WIPS. I don't even know how many I have hidden away all over the house. As such, I'm working bit by bit on the long neglected diamond sock, first started way way back in January 2007, when houses were for flipping and stocks were valuable. The first one is finally done.
Maybe I'll finish the second sock after the next economic bubble bursts.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Weekly Update *Now with More Zombies!

Time to show off the b-day swag! From my brother:
I'm used to my birthday falling around Zombie Day, but I could never object to even more zombie content. This books is actually pretty decent, 70% condensed Austen and 30% zombie and martial arts mayhem. Grrrr. Argh.

Some lovely knitterly things from Erica. The outside is a beautiful Lantern Moon project bag:
and the inside is an equally pretty sock yarn:

From Jersey Family, who were visiting for Zombie Day, some turtle goodness. A second carefully crafted amigurumi turtle from Jersey Mama:
And a turtle-ful card drawn by Jersey Girl.
Check out the red and green knitting turtle species:
Too cute! It was a perfect birthday.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Orange You Glad?

I decided to give two at a time toe up socks another try. I started with some safety-orange colored cotton, because you can never be too careful when trying a new technique. I used Judy's Magic Cast On and then turned to a Wendy Johnson basic toe-up sock pattern for guidance.
I couldn't decide which increase would work better, so I hedged my bets and used both M1 and pfb in different places. These are mirrored M1 increases at the toe .
and these are kfb increases at the gusset
Looking at the results, I can't really say there's much of a difference. The M1 inc seems to blend in a wee bit better, but only if you're looking really up close.

As for general impressions on the technique, I love that clever cast on. Also, the potential for leftover-minimization is pretty enticing. I gave up on the two-at-a-time business pretty quickly.
As soon as I finished the toe increases, I switched to an 11" circ, in the process dropping down one needle size to a US00/1.75mm needle, because I knit even looser on a circular needle. Magic loop beats the pants off double points, but there's nothing like the speed of non-stop circular knitting (at least as soon as the gusset increases were done and I ditched the stitch markers). I'm working on the second sock now. I feel safer already.

Friday, April 03, 2009

When did sock knitting become easier than doughnut ordering?

After the fiddly lacy cable of the Komet socks, I wanted some nice simple stocking stitch.
The yarn is Ditto, which feels kinda rough but looks quite nice colorwise. My only complaint apart from the harshness is that the second ball was wound in the opposite direction. I was a little confused when the colors came out in the wrong order. There was some frustrated ripping, but after rewinding with the ol' ball winder, the second sock went swimmingly.
Even with that little hiccup, I finished this pair in a week. Woohoo! Fast socks!

In other news, Mom and I have been using the recent Dunkin Donuts 6 for $3 promotion to clarify some burning questions about their doughnut naming scheme. The store we go through is a mostly drive thru business (it's attached to a gas station), so terminology matters, since you can't see what you're ordering. On day one, we asked for "chocolate glazed and glazed" and got this:
"Glazed" was no surprise. For "chocolate glazed," I was expecting a plain raised doughnut with chocolate glaze, but instead got a chocolate cake doughnut with a sugar glaze. Ok, so we knew how to get cake doughnuts, but how do we ask for chocolate glazed doughnuts? On day two, we asked for "glazed, chocolate, and sprinkles" and voila, success:
So, in summary, if you're ordering blindly at a Dunkin Donuts drive thru, "chocolate" means chocolate glazed and "chocolate glazed" means chocolate cake. And sprinkles means sprinkles. Bon apetit!