Gave Thanks

The past two weeks have been a flurry of holiday cheer.  It all starts with Halloween, actually, which is both holiday and birthday in our family.  From that point until New Year’s Day, we have a birthday or holiday every 1-2 weeks for two of the most intense months in the Western Hemisphere.

Of knitting, there has been much, but little that was completed and even less I can show-and-tell because they are designs and I am still not all sorted out on the best way to proceed with revealing designs in progress.  It generally is considered a no-no but would it matter if it just ends up published on my own site anyway?  I think not.  But I am also discovering in the process that sometimes innocent projects suddenly become Designs; sometimes things destined for one venue get moved to another; sometimes things just never make it to the end.  So I sit on my pretty pictures, very sorry.

Speaking of holiday cheer, some highlights:

I made homemade from-scratch pumpkin pie with canned organic pumpkin puree and a store bought frozen crust.  Even though I am six-and-a-half months pregnant AND also provided homemade whipped cream, no one accepts this as from-scratch pumpkin pie.  Sigh.

Matt invented Thanksgiving Bingo.  He and I made cards up for each literate family member (sorry Z) and they included squares like Someone takes a nap, Something gets spilled, Something gets burned, Dogs steal food, There is a last minute change to the menu, Sarah goes to the store, Carol talks about buying yarn, and so on.  It was hysterical.  The short of it all: my nine year old niece won, thanks to our puppy destroying some beer in the breezeway AND it was hard to end the game because everyone was SO well behaved, in effort to try and not give other people squares.  The significance here is that while everyone in my small immediate family likes each other and enjoys getting together, something about the mundanity of Thanksgiving makes us suddenly dysfunctional and every year there are fights and tears among the adults.  Bingo was quite the therapeutic breakthrough!  There will be more Bingo next year.

The day after T-day (as if we hadn’t had enough of each other yet) was Lost Family Day, which could mean so many things but was only a two-day Lost marathon (season 4) and cookie baking extravaganza at my house with my immediate family and some adopted family-friends.  We baked 500 cookies and my sister crocheted dishcloths to send to our far flung relations.  There was much consumption of video games and Disney preteen tv outside the kitchen.  Our puppy broke into the garage and stole peanut butter cookies but spurned the ginger cookies (noticing a pattern with the dog?).  My dishwasher dramatically threw a hose in the middle of day two, dumping gallons of water in the basement–I always have dramatic maintenance things happen during holiday weekends so this one does not surprise me in the least.

It seems like I have done nothing for the past three days but shop online or in stores for holiday gifts.  It makes me twitchy, especially because I am not even close to done.  But this is a diatribe I will keep to myself.

Last night we celebrated my niece’s ninth birthday.  The hit present was a large marker board and a package of dry erase markers from Noah.  He has his girlfriend even wrote a long Rebus-style message on the board for her card, which kept four girls busy for a whole 15 minutes.

Straight on until morning, eh?  I do actually have a wee little pattern to share with ya’ll tomorrow.  It was part of my gift to my niece and my sister insists that even though it is tres easy, some folks appreciate not having to do the math themselves.

    Snow in my eyes…

    …couldn’t see the keyboard.  Or the calendar, apparently.  Where does the time go?  Sometimes into lethargy and uncertainty.

    Rainbow socks are complete, albeit small (photos to come this weekend).  How did that happen?  Didn’t I try the first one on?  It’s small both in girth and length.  Not so much that I can’t wear them but I doubt the length will stretch with wear.  I should rip out the toe and reknit but I am so not interested in that, especially with this self-patterning yarn. Meanwhile, immediately after finishing them Wednesday evening, I set them down somewhere and I cannot find them.  I wonder if this is a sign?  Maybe these are not my socks after all.

    The design work has taken twists and turns, it always does, but I think it contributed to my slowness in posting.  The sock design is now photographed but needs to be formally written up.  No big deal, but it is a to do for this weekend.  I hope to have it sent off by Monday morning.

    The stocking design had to be ripped and reknit so many times!  I finally have it down and just need to finish.  La dee dah.  Yeah.

    The wrap.  The wrap broke my heart a little bit.  First there was the raging doubt that I could knit that whole thing (including all these other projects, eep!) by the end of the month or even the end of the year.  An additional layer of doubt was whether the design as written would work or did I need to tweak this and that and would tweaking mean ripping out rows of 150 sts over and over?  Crap almighty.  Finally, there was the issue of yarn quantity.  I knew I needed more.  I didn’t know how much more and couldn’t until I knit up at least one ball.  Which I wasn’t doing because of all the previous layers of doubt.  So I took my wee swatch, figuring it would at least give me a ballpark and I could buy extra on top of that.  I weighed the swatch using my digital kitchen scale.  I measured the length and width.  I did the math.  14 balls.  I have 3.  It was both crushing and a relief.  A crushing relief. I did not have enough yarn and believed (without reason since I didn’t call the shop) that I would not be able to get 11+ more balls in the same dye lot.

    I stuck all the papers into a file folder and will take this on again in January.  I will probably also pick a different yarn.  Meanwhile, what to do with 150g of dk bamboo?

    But all the sadness is behind me; I have come to terms.  I am a horrible planner, you see.  I always bite off more than I can chew on the theory that if you shoot for the 10, even if you fall short, you might still hit the 8.  As I get older, I get better at shruging off the disappointments.  I bring it on myself, after all.

    Today is actually a day of happiness, which is perhaps why I am also back here finally.  I received my first seed catalog of winter – the earliest ever! – as well as the winter issue of Interweave Knits.  I also spied my Mismatched Legwarmers pattern on Ravelry.  The Ravelry free pattern points back to this site (see sidebar for pattern link) but getting set up on Ravelry as a designer was a small hurdle which I have finally cleared – yey!

    Last, my sister and friends are taking me out tonight for a girl’s date to have dinner and see and movie.  I don’t get out much to the movies – this might be my fourth theatrical release this year? – so it is exciting for that alone.

    A long winter’s nap

    This post is not about knitting.  One of my purposes in naming this site Entangled was that I cannot easily compartmentalize my life.  Things overlap and tangle together.  Knitting will be my mainstay here but I will not stop other bits from creeping in.

    This one is about gardening, which I am as passionate about as knitting.  I’ve only been knitting for 6.5 years but I have been gardening for 15 years or more (veggies for 7 or 8 years).  Not that I claim wisdom, I just like to get dirty and figure things out as I go.

    I have a fairly large organic vegetable garden.  Four raised beds that are 3’x24′ (288 sq ft).  We only moved into this house 11 months ago so the garden is brand new.  There are almost no plants around the foundation so I tossed vegetables in there when I ran out of room.  We hope to get around to real foundation plantings in 2009.

    Here’s what I planted in 2008 (* means it was new for me this year):

    • cabbage*
    • broccoli*
    • kale*
    • onions (from seeds and sets)*
    • spinach
    • carrots, several varieties
    • arugula*
    • mustard*
    • potatoes (All Blue*, Russian Banana fingerling, Onaway*)
    • peas, snap and shelling*
    • peppers, hot, med, and sweet
    • chard
    • beets
    • cutting celery*
    • parsnips*
    • tomatoes, several varieties
    • tomatillos*
    • leeks*
    • beans, pole* and bush
    • squash, winter and summer
    • cucumbers, pickling variety
    • sunflowers
    • sweet potatoes, garnet
    • scallions*
    • herbs: basil, parsley, thai basil, rosemary, french tarragon, etc etc

    Each plant has its own story but today is for overview.  Perhaps the individual stories will trickle out over the course of the long, dark winter.

    My star of the year was the cucumbers.  I have tried them twice before and had the plants die.  This year, they went into the cabbage/broccoli bed somewhat late in the season (sometime in July?) and omigod, went gangbusters.  Because, of course, they are related to the mighty zucchini.  I look forward to growing them again next year.  If I get them going early enough, I will probably do two crops because, also like zucchini, the vines just wear out.  Some consider this a blessing but I am up for the challenge.  I have no shortage of pickle-lovers in my life.

    My big disappoint of the year was the squash, particularly the winter ones.  Something killed the vines but I was never able to identify what.  I’m guessing vine borer.  I was using row covers but I guess I will do that more religiously next year.  And longer.  And not reuse that bed for any curcubits for four years.

    I love to spend my winter dreaming about next year’s garden.  I read books, draw plans, write lists, order seeds, and come April or May, when it starts to get busy outside, I toss all that paper in the corner and fly by the seat of my pants.  I figure the planning is a survival tactic.  In Michigan it is cold Oct-Dec, then snowy or icy Jan-Mar.  One does what one must.

    What you do not see

    Like the duck, all is calm on the surface while beneath I paddle like mad.

    Here’s is a pretty picture to distract you before we get into the talky bit with no pictures:

    I handpainted this using Jacquard acid dyes.  I thought it looked terrible and muddy on the skein but it knit up beautifully and I don't have a picture of those socks.  Sarah?
    I handpainted this yarn using Jacquard acid dyes. I thought it looked muddy on the skein but it knit up beautifully and I don't have a photo of the finished socks. Sarah?

    I am working on pattern designs to send out to various knit magazines.  (Hence, no progress photos, sorry.)  It doesn’t help when some publishers change their deadlines (moving them UP a month) – well, except that I then scrap that plan for this quarter.  It also doesn’t help that this is all on spec because I do not have relationships with any of them and was busy with “real” work up until a month ago when I could have, should have sent in queries.  So I am going to submit my finished work cold.

    My focus is on three designs: socks, stocking, and a wrap. All are due at the end of November.

    1. The socks were knit months ago so I just need to format the pattern per the magazines guidelines, take photographs, and send it in.

    2. The stocking will knit itself in a matter of days and will be available here on my website since no magazine wants to publish stocking patterns.  My only time constraint is that I figure if I don’t post it by the first of December, it will really be too late for this year because it’s a holiday pattern.  It’s a relatively quick knit (worsted weight yarn) if you are comfortable with stranded colorwork.  If you are new to stranded colorwork, this would be a good first pattern because it is not complicated.  In fact, my first stranded colorwork was the Christmas in Tallinn stocking by Nancy Bush (which we now have three of…and I need to make a forth next year!).

    Oh, and the completed stocking is for a friend of mine (not a surprise).  But more on that when it is published.

    3. The wrap is barely started.  But this is the one I really love.  I love it so much that I worked on the charts for hours, went to bed and had wild dreams, got up and kept working on the charts.  Test swatch is done.  Charts are as done as they can be without actual knitting.  I think I am being intimidated by my love.  Does that make sense?  I think so.  I’m afraid to knit it and then hate it.  Or maybe I have the wrong yarn.  Of which I do not have enough but I do not know how much more I need to get.  Because I need to knit up the first ball, measure, calculate, then hie my ass to the yarn shop.

    Good thing #1 – Tonight is “sh** or get off the pot” – I am going to put in a couple inches on that wrap tonight or can it for a while and stop torturing myself.  (Who am I kidding – it’s almost 10:30 PM – but I will work on it tonight.)

    Good thing #2 – I realized while writing this post that the intended publication for this design can actually be queried as it is still early for that deadline.  So while good thing #1 still stands, I can stop panicking about being done done DONE by the 30th.

    In closing, if you are also interested in pursing knit design, this article about the new online magazine Twist Collective provides some insight into pay structures which I have not come across anywhere else online:

    “Purl Power” by Nathalie Atkinson for Canada’s National Post (November 7, 2008)

    Legwarmers are done and the joke’s on me

    Noah loved his legwarmers. I don’t have a photo of this yet – these pics are pre-gifting so those are my legs. He also received a Buck knife from a friend of ours who was laughingly concerned for a young man who wanted mismatched legwarmers more than anything else. But one of Noah’s new hobbies is camping so the knife was also a happy gift.

    My pattern is simple but my mom, ever the motivator, urged me to write it up for the internets anyway. Who knows when my evil twin will want to knit legwarmers for a wacky relative? This way she can give it a Google or look on Ravelry and try my recipe.


    MISMATCHED LEGWARMERS

    Size

    The finished legwarmers were ~9 inches wide unstretched and 15 inches long. They will stretch to fit a calf up to 16 inches wide, depending on how tight your ribbing is. These fit both my brother and I from underneath the knee to the ankle.

    Notes

    Pattern repeat is 2 sts if you need to add or subtract width. Just knit them longer or shorter if you want longer or shorter legwarmers. I think a nifty alteration – for those of us who just don’t get the legwarmer – would be ankle warmers. In that case you would need to knit them only about 4 to 6 inches long.

    Materials

    Cascade 220, 2 skeins (turquoise and ruby red). Noah’s legwarmers weighed about 125 grams so if you want to substitute another worsted weight yarn, you will need about 150 grams of the substitute yarn.

    US 7 (I used DPNs because pointy sticks make me feel safe but of course you could also use circulars)

    Tapestry needle and snips

    Gauge

    Approximately 5 stitches per inch in stockinette.

    Directions

    Make one in turquoise and the other in ruby red

    Cast on 56 stitches (I used the long-tail method).

    Join in the round without twisting.

    Knit 1, purl 1 ribbing for 15 inches.

    Bind off very loosely! I used the following stretchy bind off, found on Grumperina‘s blog through Google. She doesn’t credit its source, nor can I:

    Work 2 stitches in pattern (in this case, K1, P1). Bring yarn to back (if it is not there already). *Move those two stitches back to the left needle and knit them together through the back loop. Work one stitch in pattern.* Repeat between the asterisks until all stitches are bound off.

    I find this bind off will stretch infinitely and am using it more and more when I need a loose edge. It made the bound off edge of the legwarmers ruffle just a little bit because of how it combines with ribbing but this did not detract from the product so I kept it.

    Finishing

    Weave in your ends.

    With a contrasting color (I was able to use the snipped off ends), embroider a simple star on one legwarmer and put three French knots on the other. There are few limits here in what you could do to decorate your legwarmers. My only warning is to keep shapes small or loosely embroidered so as to not bind up your ribbing. I also chose to do my embroidery near the edge where it would perhaps be stretched less.


    And the joke? When I gave them to Noah and explained my vertical striping dilemma, he said, “Oh sorry, I meant horizontal stripes.” Sheesh! With about 80g leftover, he might get lucky with a third, striped legwarmer to go with his mismatched set. Someday.