Sunday, April 20, 2008

First hike of the year

Yesterday was glorious weather. I wanted to work in the yard. Sean not being around and Quinn having some massive roaming urges prompted me (after the umpteenth temper tantrum at not being allowed to walk down the road) to load the kids up in the car and take them out for a hike. Quinn loves hiking. It's truly her thing. Granted, she's 2, and her legs aren't that long so we don't usually go too far. But no matter how bad her day was, if she gets out into the woods for a little hike all becomes right in the world again. So off to the boat launch we went. I was sure the ground was dry enough after my visit last Saturday, and I thought Ali would like to climb that big boulder so that's where we went. The water was low, slow and unimpressive - so I didn't take any pictures of it, but I got some lovely shots of the girls in Quinn's element.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Easy sock recipe

Rhonda Jean asked if I had any tips on getting started with socks. I do. Socks are easy. In fact they're easier than mittens. Socks are basically a long tube with a 90 degree turn in the appropriate place. This is a recipe (not exactly a pattern) for a super duper easy pair of socks that simply can't get any easier unless they were tube socks.

Take a set of smallish double pointed needles and cast on an appropriate amount to go around your calf divisible by 4.

I'll throw some numbers out there for you just to make a trial pair, but these are so readily adaptable you can swap out needles, yarn weights, and body sizes with only second grade math skills.

So for the sake of learning lets say I have sock weight yarn in something that has some give (no cotton or linen without some synthetic additive) like 80/20 wool and nylon, size 2 US (2.75mm) needles...I'd cast on 56 stitches for a skinny leg or 60 for a big fat leg like mine or even 64 if I want them to go up over the biggest part of my calf.

Knit 2x2 rib (k2,p2) until you get sick of it...most of the time it's between 12 and 20 rows for me, but you could do the whole leg portion if you'd like. Continue down the leg in Stockinette Stitch (that's knit only when in the round) until the sock leg is long enough for your tastes and then work a separate waste piece of yarn for 1/2 of the stitches (example30 stitches if I had originally cast on 60) don't attach the yarn just leave the ends dangling. Go back to your main yarn, pick it up and continue working the sock in stockinette stitch. It's helpful to start the waste yarn at the beginning of a needle. Likewise, if you are using 4 needles instead if 5 you'll need to slip the remaining stitches onto the working needle so you can free up a needle to go back with, but you knew that.

When the piece following the scrap yarn is the same length as your foot is from your heel to the base of your toes begin toe.
With the scrap yarn (this is where your heel will go) on the bottom (picture above shows the sock upside down), flatten out your tube and find the two edges where front ends and back begins. Adjust your needles so these are at the edges of your needles (like the beginning of one and the end of another).

The toe goes like this.

round 1 Beginning on edge stitch k1, ssk, k across to3 stitches before next edge stitch k2 tog k1, repeat for other half.

round 2 knit

repeat rounds 1 and 2 until there are about 8 stitches in between decreases and kitchener toe closed.

Now carefully take out waste yarn and slide your needles back into the live stitches and make a second "toe" for the heel. These are very cute if made with a contrasting color.

There are two known truths in this world. The first is that you will get a hole at the edge of the thumb on the mitten you are knitting and the second is that you will get a hole at the edge of the heel on the sock you are knitting. This is OK. You'll have a couple ends to darn in, so just make sure you pass over the hole and cinch it closed and you're good to go. I'll take care of this hole when Idarn in my ends - I just tucked them in for the picture.

Enjoy your socks!

PS - the sock in the picture was made with red heart worsted weight ACKrillic and size5 US needles - way fewer stitches (36 total) than the numbers I gave you, but the process is exactly the same.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ali's second sock

Well things have been progressing a little more slowly on the second sock. Not due to second sock syndrome or anything mundane like that but just that the weather has been sublime so we've been outside as much as possible. Yesterday we raked a wee bit, and then I went for a walk down to the boat launch at Pawtuckaway - that's about 41/2 miles away from my house. It was a gorgeous walk. I was reading the first few chapters of my newest book while I walked ($2.00 used Living the good life by the Nearings). I like it OK I suppose, but I think they're far more pompous than the author of Ten Acres Enough (same idea about 100 years earlier). In any event, it was a pleasant walk down and an even more pleasant sit down on the bridge at the boat launch. It's so beautiful there. The water was running fast but was about 5-7 feet lower than usual because they drained the lake (so it doesn't flood). I saw a couple of guys running the rapids in a canoe - that was a sight - and some kids were climbing a huge boulder at the trail head. It was a real pleasant pause. It was NOT a pleasant walk home. Something about my shoes I guess was not right and my feet hurt wicked bad, my calves were killing me and my hips were grinding the whole walk back from which I had to be rescued because it had already taken me twice as long to get half way home, the kids were crying for me and my hips couldn't take it anymore.
We went to the beach today to check out the tide pools. It was 40 degrees and windy but my family ditched their shoes and got their feet wet - and Quinn got her whole body wet when she fell down - Luckily I anticipated this and brought her a whole new outfit. We walked quite a ways but as I had different shoes on my hips felt fine. My feet still ache but not too bad. I didn't even think to bring the camera until Sean and Ali were way out in the tide pool and I thought how lovely a picture it would have been if I had thought to bring the camera - darn it.
So now about the second sock. I don't like the toe and heel on the first sock They just don't feel as luscious as the body, so on the second sock I switched yarn to something equally yummy, and once the pair have been completed I'll take out the first heel and toe and rework them in the better yarn. That's one of the reasons I like toe up socks and short row heels - you can just cut them off and redo the whole thing over new when they get worn. But I never wear those parts out. I always wear out the ball of the foot - wouldn't you know it?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Sock in progress

This is what was accomplished on Ali's sock yesterday. She loves it.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Ali's yarn and other updates

So I've been a bit busy lately. I joined the totebag swap that Rhonda Jean had going and made my partner Christine a nifty-galifty tote bag that folds up into a little wallet that she can keep in purse so she always has one available when she needs it. The material for the main bag part caught my eye and so I copied the motif in felt applique. It came out alright, but if I had to do it again I'd lower the motif by a centimeter or two.

Next on the list is Quinnie's hand. I'm happy to report that her hand is (mostly) all better. It's still a little tender when she falls on pavement but she doesn't need bandages or medicated cream anymore. And the biggest plus is that she can take a bath - boy did she have a blast when she finally got in the tub. I didn't think she'd ever get out.

And the yarn. Scroll down to the end of the last post where I showed you folks the easter egg dye experiment. I spun it up and it looked like this.

Then I plied it and it looked like this.

The barber pole effect kinda mutes the colors but it feels divine and it'll make same fantabulous socks. I plan on starting them later today while I watch Torchwood.