Sunday, December 30, 2007

Lunacy, no I mean Solarcy

I forgot to do my annual ritual! From the shortest day of the year, until about the middle of January, I keep track of sunrise and sunset. I've been doing this for years; it would help in those short days. So, here are the sunrise and sunset times for Dec. 21 and for Dec. 30 in my location:

12/21 sunrise and sunset: 7:19 am 4:33 pm
12/30 sunrise and sunset: 7:22 am 4:39 pm

As you can see, the days are longer in the afternoon and shorter in the morning. This will stay this way for quite a while.

Yarnie Content: I have pictures, finally, of the 4 yarns I dyed up the other day: Leafy Glade, 42nd Street, Blue and White, and Peachy Green. I love them all, but Peachy Green might just be my favorite this time. There is a lovely Jewish holiday that comes up every winter, Tu B'Shevat. It's the New Year of the Trees. Some holiday customs for this day are to eat a new piece of fruit or plant a tree. It's a charming custom. So in honor of it, I'm going to feature some tree or fruity yarns this month. This year it falls from sunset, Jan. 21 to sunset, Jan. 22. For more info, you can look here.

So, here are the new goodies: 42ndStreet, Blue and White, Peachy Green, and Leafy Glade.

Leafy Glade just sold! Wow! Super-fast buyer!

Look at what I just bought to send to Miss P!

The seller is here.

Elvis and the skein winder

Pictures of Elvis the rooster, and my new skein winder. What do they have to do with each other. Nothing, nada, garnicht.

Before and After

Here are pictures of my coffee table (which is really a piano bench. A story for another day) before the big clean-up and after. Just so you can see that I can be neat for about an hour and a half!

Where did all the mess go? I filed the various patterns, tossed the old pill bottles, put the books away, tossed various pieces of useless notes. Whadda woman! The question is now: Can I find it all again?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Funerals, Mommie, and England

We went to a funeral yesterday, my MIL's cousin. We were the family representatives since my MIL is not in the greatest shape. Hubbo hasn't seen these cousins in maybe 45-50 years, and it was nice for him to get reconnected. She was 82, and lived to see her children, grand children, great-grand children, and great great-grandchildren! Pretty amazing. I think I might have met her once. There is a great truth in people seeing each other at weddings and funerals.

Mommie note: We stopped by at around 4-ish on our way home. Would you believe that she was still in bed! I asked her if she was planning on getting up and dressed and having supper. Her response: "Of course! I'm not going to stay in bed all day!"
What a character she is!

About 6 months ago, she asked me to take her to The Stitching Bee for some yarn to knit herself a sweater. So we did this, and, yup, you got it, she hasn't touched the yarn. But she said to me yesterday that it was nice knowing that, if she wanted to knit, she could. She doesn't really feel like knitting, but having the yarn there, makes her feel good. OK. It's pretty yarn, which I'll inherit, I guess.

A little knitting got done last night, but not very much. We watched another in the Midsomer series, which we really really love. Good old Netflix! I've been parceling out the series over a period of time so that we can look forward to seeing the episodes. What is it about British mysteries that I find so attractive? Maybe it's the accent or the scenery. I don't know, but every time we watch an episode, I want to visit England again. Hmmmmmm. We never did celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary last year, so maybe this spring? Or fall? Hmmmm.

Yarn moment
: Have you knitted with Noro's new sock yarn? I really love the Noro colors, but hate the yarn. The Stitching Bee had the Silk Garden in the skinny weight on sale. I looked, drooled, and then realized how much I don't like working with it. The store has a gazillion sock yarns, but not Noro's, which is fine with me. How can they produce such gorgeous colored yarns that are rough to work with? They do wash up well and get much much softer, but knitting with the stuff is unpleasant for moi.

I was very tempted to guy some of the SB's sock yarn. They carry such gorgeous stuff, but I'm dyeing my own these days, and anyhow, I have the stash of a lifetime. So I resisted temptation, and just stuck with the Baby Cashmerino. Sometimes I'm so adult!

Pictures of newly-dyed yarns are coming maybe later on this morning. We have company coming so we have to straighten up our mess. We're clean, but very, very messy.

Talk to you later.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Little known historical info on yarnarians

A Benster story: almost 2 year old Ben got all excited when the Chanukah candles were lit. He sang "Happy Chanukah to You" as in the Happy Birthday song. And then he blew the candles out. He is so cute.

Hubbo idea: "little known historical info on yarnarians. The first one was Hadrian's wife, Pompeia Plotina also known as Hadrian's yarnarian. She coined the phrase "veni vidi kniti" loosely translated meaning "I came, I saw, I knitted" She found some roman activities boring and was knitting a toga for winter in Gaul." I had nothing to do with this; this all comes from his fertile mischievious mind! He also thinks we need a theme song for the sock club.

I dyed 4 yarns today. They are tentatively called: The Blues; 42nd Street; Peachy Greens; and one maybe for the sock club. They're drying as I type. I'll post pics of the first three tomorrow am if I have time. We have to go to a funeral in Brooklyn, and may go out to the cemetery on Long Island. That's a long day's activity, so I don't know if I can get the yarns posted. They will appear sooner or later.

I was sort of discombobulated today. It took me twice the usual amount of time to get anything done. Do you ever have days like that? This whole week has been weird. Maybe it's because of the holiday. My Honey feels loggy too. It's sort of like going through the day in slow motion. I think it's the confusion of routine issue.

Holly, Hubbo has added the following story:

There was a famous Swedish/Viking yarnarian called Erica the Blue. She lived in the Swedish town of Gutknitten. She raised Blue Leister sheep and knitted blue leggings for the vikings using the tunic stitch.

She was also an expert in the Viking form of haiku called Hachoo (because it was always cold there). her most famous one has been translated as follows:
"The blue vikings came by ze boat,
they killed ze chickens and stole ze goat."

Ya see what I have to live with. Lunacy in its purest form!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Sweater! Gasp!

Knitting stuff: I went to the Stitching Bee yesterday, and bought Baby Cashmrino to make myself a sweater. Yes, gentle reader, a sweater!!! Of course I haven't finished the one I started last February, mostly because I'm not mature enough to do the last bit.

I'm making the Half Moon Bay sweater from Just One More Row. I love knitting sweaters with different shaping. It's just something different to do, and I can customize it with any yarn and any gauge. I'll post pictures of the yarn later on; it's way too dark to get any idea of the colors I'm using. I probably bought too much yarn, but that's better than running out.

I'm also making a pair of socks for me. I may use the pattern in the sock club, here , but it has this glitchy point where you have to move a stitch to another needle. You only have to do this once in the 16 row repeat, but it might drive the clubbers crazy. I'd post a pic, but the patterns will be surprises. It's a pretty neat pattern, though. Well, I'll have to figure out how to write it so that people don't gnash their teeth.

I'm going to dye up some yarn today. I'm thinking one skein in blues and greens, one in a burgundy (if I can make up the color the way I want) and something else. Maybe shades of olive with a bit of peach to liven things up. And perhaps something with lilacs and greens. That's what I'm thinking right now at 3 AM. What I actually come up with may be entirely different. That's how I dye.

Harry Potter note: I'm really slogging through this book. It's like wading through mud. And I don't know why, because I love the HP books.

To be continued later because I need to go back to sleep.

OK, I'm up and here are some knitting pics:

The sweater that I have to finish!

The sweater I've just started with my new yarn:

Socks in progress (but not the sock club one): Niece's sock is first, DD #2 is second.

Sharon, do you have a picture of your sweater? I'd love to see it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Strange Inventions

Good morning! Did you have a nice Christmas? We non-Christians often celebrate Christmas by volunteering in food kitchens, working someone's shift so that he/she can be home for the holiday, having a nice family day, going to the movies, etc. So it's a nice day for all of us, Christian or not. Hubbo and I, of course, went to Best Friend's for Christmas dinner, and it was so delicious! And we talked and laughed, and just had a wonderful time. There's something so lovely about spending a holiday with such dear friends!

Hubbo, the engineer, cannot resist inventing strange and wonderful gadgets. His mind goes in that direction. Sometimes they're really useful, and sometimes they're a bit odd. OK, a lot odd. OK, falling down laughing odd. Yesterday's invention falls somewhere between useful and weird and funny.

Do you know what this is? Betcha can't guess. OK, I'll put you out of your misery. It's a Hairy Wine Cooler!

And what is a hairy wine cooler? Hubbo found this mohairy felted hat at some garage sale and brought it home for me. It's way too big for my little head, but it now has a new purpose in life. Actually it has a dual role: when we came home, it had gotten chilly, so I wore it on my head. We have no pics of that, fortunately!

BF's husband is also an engineer, and like a lot of these guys, has a very strong sense of mischief. (I've known a lot of engineers, and they fall into 2 groups: those who are very serious, and those who are full of mischief because they can't resist fooling around with stuff.) When Hubbo and BF's husband get together, they get this gleam in their eyes and these devilish grins on their faces. We just let them rip with their bad puns and dopey jokes. They are really very funny together. Sometimes BF and I pretend we don't know them.

If you want an example of mischievious behavior, Hubbo has been known to test the accoustics in a parking garage by yelling out loud. It's an interesting moment.

Bread Note: I've given up on the sourdough. I keep forgetting that I don't like liquid starters. I like a relatively firm biga. So I tossed the mess, and sometime today, I'll put up a biga for tomorrow's bread.

The sock club is coming along. I have 3 definites, and 5 people who are very interested. If I like doing this, I'll have another sock club. I already have an idea for that one: "Choose Your Own Sock Adventure".

And now, I'm heading off for my own adventure: I'm going to my favorite LYS, The Stitching Bee, in Chatham, NJ, for a bit of yarn shopping. I want to make the Half Mood Bay Sweater from Just One More Row. And I need some yarn. Don't laugh! Sock yarn I have up my wazoo, buy not much in other weights. So, I'm off to spend me money. Yes!

As usual, I'd love to answer your comments, but Blogger doesn't let me, so if I don't get back to you it's because I can't. If I have an email addy, then I'm ok.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Same old same old, but with a finished sock to see.

Holey McMoley, was the traffic crazy yesterday! I think the entire state of New Jersey was either at my gas station, or on the road. I set out to visit the Mommie for lunch. I had to get to the post office to mail off some yarn, and I needed gas. OK, easy to do. What I hadn't counted on was the traffic. And I travel on local roads, not on the highway. So I got to her senior residence just after all the lunch stuff was put away. Good thing I brought her chocolate-covered raisins from Trader Joe's. Man,was I hungry when I came home.

Yesterday I mentioned this incredible yarn swift I just bought through Etsy. The thing can easily be disassembled and stored away. When you use it, it sits either on top of a table of on the floor. And it winds like a dream. I first heard about it from Lime and Violet's Daily Chum. Hubbo, who is an engineer, was very impressed with it.

The sourdough starter is beginning to ferment. My kitchen is cool, so this thing will take forever to ripen. I'll have to wait for the full 10 days to be able to use it. I borrowed Daniel Leader's book on interlibrary loan, aka ILL, so if I don't like the results, I'm not out any money. Being an impatient person, I want to use it right now! I think what I'll do later this week, is make up a biga, and use that in my dough while I wait for the sourdough starter.

Knitting Knews (terrible word play, but I've always wanted to use it. Now I have it out of my system.)

Way back, I posted a pic of a sock I was working on. I finished it, wore it, and finally photographed it. Ta da! I give you one of the neatest knitting patterns of all time. Equally good in a sock and in a sweater. The Basketweave Sock!

I've used this pattern on a couple of sweaters, and on a bunch of socks. It works very well on variegated yarn because it breaks up the color repeats. Lots of knit-purl patterns are awful in a busy yarn, but this one always seems to work.

The yarn is one I dyed for myself back in the summer. I have no idea how I dyed it; it's one of those unrepeatable yarns. I can do something a bit similar, but it won't look like this one.

The pattern is a basic basketweave pattern, listed in a gazillion books. It's not quite as mindless as Roundabout (see earlier post), but very easy to do. You do have to pay a little bit of attention, but it's a great pattern for tv, or knitting in public. When I have time, I'll post the pattern.

The yarnie stuff that's keeping me so occupied is the sock club. I know the colorways I'm going to use, and patterns are easy for me. What I'm working on are the sign-ups (which are going well, I think), and a questionnaire to help me customize the yarns. I want to ask questions that don't give away the colors. Kind of tricky, but I'm almost there.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Fermentation and Vinegar

I dyed 4 yarns yesterday. This is the maximum I do at the moment because my process is labor intensive, and I want this to feel like fun and not work. They're happily drying in my bathroom, and I'll take pictures later this morning. Here's what we have: City Socks Four, Violets in the Snow reserved for a customer, Silver Sage, and one for me. The one for me is a trial run for the sock club. So I'm not going to give you a pic of that one.

I love dyeing the City Socks series. I wrap yarn, underdye, overdye; it's a neat process. And picking out the colors for the zippy part is a lot of fun. This time I made up a bright green, rust, pale brown, and a violet. You'll see it later on today.

Silver Sage was worked with colors I have never mixed before. Each color was mixed individually, with no guidelines, just my own color sense. I had a picture in mind when I mixed the dyes, and I came pretty close to what I wanted. It's a very elegant yarn.

That's the fun of dyeing for me. Mixing those colors puts me into another place. I used to listen to my i pod while I dyed, and then realized that I didn't even hear the music because I was concentrating so much. I love seeing the differences between cool and warm palates, and I love playing with values, and throwing in little bits of odd colors to spice things up.

When I first started dyeing, I could do 2 skeins, and each one would take me an hour of more. Now, I zip along at a much faster pace, I think because I'm far more comfortable with my mixing than at the beginning. I have my own weird little method which I like very much. It doesn't go quickly, but I'm not a production dyer. I can now do a couple of skeins at the same time, but more than that and it gets boring for me.

Some colorways I can reproduce at a later date. Violets in the Snow is one of them, as is the City Socks base. Others are done off the top of my head and involve layers of colors. Faded Glory is like that, as is the new one, Silver Sage. Because I mix those colors as I go along, and add bits of this or that on top of some of the colors, and add transition colors - these are basically one of a kind yarns. It's endlessly fascinating.

Baking stuff: I started a sourdough starter a couple of days ago, and I think it's beginning to take. I'm seeing and smelling signs of fermentation. I've never been thrilled with making sourdough bread mainly because I found it too sour. This starter is from Daniel Leader's new book, Local Breads, and I'm willing to give it a try just because it's from Daniel Leader.
The last couple of years, I've made a biga and used that in a sponge. It adds great flavor to the bread. I like to have my bread rise slowly because it gives more time for fermentation. My kitchen is on the very cool side now, so the yeasties work slowly and make the bread tastier. I'll keep you posted on my starter.

Yesterday at one point, my kitchen smelled of starter and vinegar from the yarn steaming process. It was really weird. Fermentation and vinegar.

Here are pictures of both City Socks Four and Silver Sage.

Here's one more thing I want to tell you. I bought this most amazing yarn swift on Etsy last week, and it arrived today. Wow! It makes reskeining so quick and easy. I love it. Check out
It's adjustable, easy to set up, and works like a dream.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

New blog! Messy house! What more do you want?

Good morning! I'm getting ready to do some dyeing, and knitting, and maybe actually putting some patterns away.

First, the exciting news, well exciting news from my point. This is shameless commerce, so you can skip if not interested. (although I find it very interesting!)
I've set up a new blog for sock club people. This way it's all in one spot, and non-knitters don't have to wade through knitting issues. I do think that you should learn how to knit, however.

All the info on my first sock club can now be found on

Do ya think that this yarnie stuff is a bit obsessive? Hubbo thinks so, but then applauds my efforts. Yay, Hubbo.

I'm still a bit sore from my gym foray. But at least my tush doesn't ache any more. There is NO dignity to a sore butt. None.

So what's with my messy house? Well here's the picture. You know how I told you that we have an archaeological dig in our garage? Well the house is also not exactly neat. Clean, but lovely piles of stuff all over the joint. DD #1 is coming over next week with her guy, whom we have yet not met. And apparently he's neat, poor soul. So she's been warning him that 1. we are not neat, and 2. we're a bit goofy. ok, a lot goofy.

So, now I feel compelled to put away my collection of sock patterns that is threatening to tip over on the coffee table. And put away the latest pile of new books. And clean up the dining room table. That alone is a tough thing to do. But then I think: we're actually doing her a favor by being messy. If he's very neat, he gets to be amazed at our stuff and feel rather superior to us. If he's a slob, he gets to look up to us. Either way, he wins. Not a bad rationalization if I say so myself.

If you celebrate Christmas, have a lovely one. If you celebrate Kwanzaa, may you feel joy. If you've celebrated Chanukah, yippee, you're done with the holiday stuff.
So I wish all of you peace and joy and happiness and good health and decent finances. Shalom aleichem (peace to you in Hebrew) to all of you.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Mighty Mouse is back! Look at those muscles!

I'm happy to say that the grumps disappeared! Why? Because I went to the gym today and worked out. It felt so good to feel so tired.

I did something not nice to my back a year ago October, so I went to physical therapy. As I worked there harder and harder, I started to like it, and the last month, they prepared me for going to a gym. I joined my local Y in January, and have been going ever since. Somewhere in October, I started to find excuses not to go. I had been lifting a lot of weight for my size, and everything started to ache afterwards. Not the usual muscle tiredness, but really unhappy knees, back (uh oh), everything. Not a good thing to happen. So, me being me, I kind of gradually dropped out. And the other thing was that I was at the gym longer and longer. It was taking over my life.

But now my body is ready for a workout again. However, this time, I'm doing things differently. Instead of 3 sets of 12 reps apiece, I went down to 2 sets. Same weights as before, but half the repetitions. And I felt so good afterwards. It felt like fun again. So the exercise mojo is back. Finally!

By the way, when I say that I've been lifting a lot of weight for my size, you have to understand that I'm 5' tall, and 108 pounds. I'm not exactly Arnold Schwarzenegger. I'm a squiggy little thing, more like Mighty Mouse. And I'm not exactly young. So me doing a chest press of 35 lbs is like chicken shit to a big guy. But for me, it's significant. Anyhow, folks, I have muscles. Not great big, testosterone muscles, but nicely toned ones. And thanks to all for your supportive comments. It did a lot to get me out of my mood.

You know that sock I was working on yesterday, the one with the thousands of frogged stitches? I frogged some more today, but now I have a neat pattern. Some things take a lot of work.

Shameless commerce note: I'm going to do a sock club. I'll post info at the beginning of January, so folks will have Jan and Feb to sign up, and then I plan on sending out the first yarn in the middle of March. I'm going to keep it to 10-12 people. I don't want to overextend myself, and I want to do a good job, so this seems reasonable to me. Three months, reasonable cost, 3 yarns, 3 patterns; I'm really excited. I'm planning on giving people some choices, and all the yarns will be dyed individually. The thought of dyeing 10 skeins exactly the same makes me want to hide in a cave. But individual skeins, now that's fun. If you're interested, I'm on Ravelry as Ruth.

A question: Why am I having trouble reading the last Harry Potter book? I can't seem to get into it. Tell me I should finish it, please.

Happy Winter Solstice! May your days get longer and brighter! Sunset will be a teeny bit later every day, but sunrise will also be later. It really takes effect later on in January. The things a retired librarian knows. Amazing.

Good night.

It's now almost 10 am, and I have to tell you that my muscles are awake and aware. I am sore in some very odd places, like my butt. But it's not pain, just a "I used those muscles" sorenes. Feels good in a very strange way.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Forget maturity. Adolescence is forever!

Complain. Complain. Whine. Grouse. Whine some more. I'm cranky and whiney and grumpy. For no good reason whatsoever. I feel this need for retail therapy, and there's nothing I want or need. Clothing I have in abundance, and I don't even want makeup. I love clothes, and I love makeup. So the retired woman wears jeans all day, and half the time doesn't use cosmetics. Granted the jeans are nice and actually fit well, but they are still jeans. But am I going to walk around the house all dressed up? Don't want to go to the malls, not even the Short Hills Mall. I have 2 closets full of lovely clothing. I have really gorgeous makeup. Blah!

OK, there's yarn therapy. I don't even want to do that. I wouldn't mind starting a new sweater, but I need to finish the old one first. Three days of knitting would get the job done, but do I have the maturity to do it? Nah.

And I don't feel like reading either. Blah.

Tuesday I was a tower of strength; Wednesday I reverted back to adolescence. Whine. Complain. Whine some more.

You know what I need? I need to get back to the gym. I had this gym thing going for 10 months, and then I started to find excuses. I really need to get back into it. First of all, because it's a healthy activity, secondly, because it feels so good when I'm done. All those endorphins kick in. So today, if I can get my butt in gear, I'm going back to the treadmill and the weights. I hope. I better. Self: get thy self into gear. Thou shalt feel much better if thou exercisest. Otherwise, dear reader, you can yell at me.

So what has brought on this phase of middle school behavior? There was all the excitement of publishing my pattern, and now that's done. Yesterday, I spent the bulk of the day trying out a new pattern for a sock. Knit. Frog. Knit. Frog. 5 times I did this. I think I'm now onto something, and it better work, because I'm not frogging any more. So there!

As Jules Pheiffer once said in a cartoon: "Maturity is just a phase; adolescence is forever!"

'Tis true.

Gentle reader, if you've made it this far in reading this downer of a blog, you should reward yourself with a piece of chocolate and a lovely cup of tea. If it weren't 3:30 in the morning, I would do that too. I'm taking my self off to bed to flannel heaven.

One good moment: I have just discovered the Dixie Chicks. Neat music.

Sharon asked in the previous posting if the potatoes are greasy. No, they're not. They seem to absorb the meaty juices. DD made the recipe with all beef, and I made it with half beef and half turkey. In neither case were the potatoes greasy. This recipe is so good that Hubbo and I finished it off in two days, and I'm a small eater. It easily serves 6!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I rise; therefore I am.

The baking/cooking mojo is coming back. Finally. I thought that I would do a lot of fooding when I retired. Not. 10 months after I retired, I'm finally starting to cook again. I think I got inspired during my Minneapolis visit. Maybe it was helping out DD make supper that kicked my butt into gear. Whatever it was, I've made nice suppers every day since I came home.

Before you get excited and say: "Whoa, this woman is making gourmet meals every night", relax. I've made allowances for leftovers. I'm not totally nuts.

So Sunday I made this delicious chicken with avocado dish. Monday it was pasta e fagioli. Tuesday we had the leftovers. And yesterday, I made this amazing meatloaf dish in the crockpot. I'm not from the canned mushroom school of cooking; I like from-scratch food. So this meatloaf recipe has no weird stuff in it except for ketchup, and that's sort of normal food.

Here's the recipe in a nutshell: 3 russet potatoes, peeled and cut up into 1" pieces and then mixed with some olive oil on the bottom of the pot. Make a nice meatloaf mixture and pat it on top of the potatoes. Top the meatloaf with whatever you like. Put lid on, turn on to high, and let cook for about an hour. Then turn heat to low, and cook forever. Wander into the kitchen now and then to smell the deliciousness of this dish. Serve and sigh contentedly. I got the recipe from Beth Hensperger's Not your mother's slow cooker recipes. (No caps on the title because librarians capitalize first word only.) Moist, almost like a meaty bread pudding. And I hate meatloaf. Not any more.

So, what's with this rising thing? I love to bake bread. I started out doing all my kneading from scratch. This was about 30 years ago. (Hey, I'm an old broad.). So then I bought a Kitchen Aid, the big one, and kneaded in that. Then I got a Cuisinart and used that for kneading. Notice the progression here: kneading is very hard on my hands. Then, about 6-7 years ago, after I said that a bread machine was the last thing I ever wanted, Hubbo convinced me to try one. OK, I baked a couple of loaves in it. Eh. Where's the gorgeous crust? the shaping? the patting the thing? the slashing the loaf with my lame? No fun at all. But, does that machine knead. Much better than I ever could do. So now I use it to knead and do my first rise. Then I get onto the meat of the matter: I shape, roll out and fill if I want, rise, slash, spray with water if I want, bake in oven. Go wild over the smell. You get the picture.

I used to bake a couple of loaves every week while I was working. So I retired and have baked bread exactly 5 times since. But the mojo is coming back. Tomorrow I'm going to make up a starter, and off I go into baking heaven. I've been using a biga to add flavor, but Daniel Leader has a new book out, and in it he has a small starter that I want to try. Takes about 10 days to get it going. Levain, biga, sourdough starters all those variations on a theme, add terrific flavor and oomph to the bread. So a nice long rise to aid in that flavor, and I'm baking again.

Now if I can get that gym thing going again... Well, one thing at a time.

Roundabout Socks seems to be a hit. Lots of people messaged me in Ravelry, and on my email. It makes me want to post another pattern. Not yet, though, I started one, and I don't like it. So I'm busily playing with ideas. Eventually I'll post another one.

I'm writing this at 4:18 in the morning. But I can sleep late if I want. Be jealous all you young working chippies. Ah the joys of retirement.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Roundabout Socks

Ta Da! Here is the sock pattern for my Roundabout Socks.

Roundabout Socks

They go around and around, just like a traffic circle.

Cuff down.
Gauge: 7.75 sts/inch
Double pointed needles, 2 circular needles, or magic loop needle – your choice. I use 2 circular needles.

Needle size to get my gauge: #1, 2.5mm. You use what works for you.

Yarn: sock weight yarn, approximately 300-400 yards, depending on how big or how long your foot is. A 4 oz skein ought to do it.

Instructions are for a 56 st. sock. If you have a larger foot, use 64 sts.

Pattern: multiple of 8.

Round 1: *ssk, k3, yo, k3* Continue in this pattern around the sock.
Round 2: Knit

Repeat these 2 rounds for the leg of the sock.

Cast on
: 56 sts (64 sts) on whatever needle method you choose. Cast on over 2 needles held together, so that the sock will easily stretch over your foot. Make sure that you don’t twist the yarn. Join the stitches into a circle.

Divide your stitches so that each needle holds a multiple of 8. It’s just easier to knit this way.

Leg: Work a k2, p2 ribbing for 1 inch.
Work in pattern for desired length.

: Arrange stitches so that half of the total stitches are on one needle, and the other half are on the other needle.
For a 56 stitch sock, you will have 28 sts on each needle on 2 circulars; for a 64 stitch sock, you will have 32 stitches on each needle.

Working on either 28 or 32 stitches only, on the heel side, slip the first stitch, and then purl back.

Heel pattern
: Row 1: *sl 1, k1* across the row.
Row 2: sl 1, purl across

Proceed with these two rows until you have worked 28 (32) rows.

Turn heel: Row 1: On rt side, k15 (17), ssk, k1. Turn
Row 2: sl 1, p3, p2tog, p1. Turn
Row 3: sl 1, k4, ssk, k1. Turn
Row 4: sl 1, p5, p2tog, p1. Turn
Repeat these rows, always adding one more stitch to the center ones, until you have used up all the stitches. You should end up with 16 (18) stitches.

Heel gusset: On right side of sock, work across the heel stitches. Then pick up 14 (16) stitches. Knit across the instep (the front of the sock). Pick up 14 (16) stitches . From here on, you will work in stockinette for the rest of the sock.

To shape the gusset, you will work alternate dec and plain rounds.
Dec round: Work to 3 sts before the end of the back sts. K2tog, k1. Work the instep. Then, at the beginning of the back stitches, k1, ssk, and knit.

Plain round: Knit.

Repeat these 2 rounds, decreasing one stitch at each end of the back stitches every other round until you have 56 (64) stitches left. You will have half of the stitches on one needle, and half on the other.

Foot: Work in stockinette until foot is about 1.5 inches before the end.

Shape toe: Round 1: K1, ssk, work until 3 sts from the end of the needle, k2tog, k1. Repeat on the other needle.
Round 2: Work plain.

Work these 2 rounds until 10 sts remain on each needle. Finish the sock by grafting the stitches together using the Kitchener stitch.

Weave in your ends. Make the second sock.

You did it! Now you too can go around and around the circle.

Thanks to all of you for your lovely comments! I haven't yet figured out how to reply individually to you, so this is my response.

To those who like to knit toe up, just do the pattern on the leg. It's that simple.

Stampingdreams - Look at it this way: ssk = 1 stitch, k3 = 3 sts, yo = 1 stitch, k3 = 3 stitches. Add them up and you have 8 sts.

In other words, *ssk, then k3, then do a yarn over, k3*, and repeat this until you've finished the round. Next round, knit. Keep repeating these 2 rounds. What will happen magically is that the leg will torque. That's what's supposed to happen.

If you are on Ravelry, pm me there. My name there is ruth. And you can send me pics or I can send you some.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I smell like coffee

I had the nicest lunch today. I met one of my former co-workers for lunch at the library. This amazing woman is handling more jobs than you can imagine. They have not yet hired a replacement for me (well, they had one, but she didn't work out), and so now she has to do not only her job, but mine as well, and mine involved lots of staff supervision. Lucky for her, the staff is wonderful. But still, she's had to work 4 weekends this month. It was lovely chatting with her, and in January, we'll go out to dinner so that nobody has to rush.

I got there early just so I could chat (and also because I'm perpetually late and I'm trying to become an adult). I worked with the greatest bunch of people anywhere. I don't miss the work because I did it for over 26 years, and enough is enough. But the staff - that's another story. They are so much fun, and so professional, and such good people! DD #2 worked at the library when she was in high school, and her comment many years later was: "Mom, you don't work in the real world, but this is the greatest place to work!"

So, we chatted and I got to do the multiplex pictures on the computer thing. I saw kids, grand kids, elderly parents. 'Twas fun. Dummy here forgot to bring pics of her own. Next time.

So, what about my headline? Why do I smell like coffee? Because the table at the restaurant had a slant at the edge, and I didn't know it, and I put my large mug of latte down towards the edge, and it slid, and I got coffee all over me. And for once I was not in my jeans, but dressed like an adult. Fortunately, my clothes are washable except for the jacket. But the jacket color is like the latte and it's tweed, so I'm ok there. If I don't get it cleaned, do you think I'll eventually smell like dead milk? I did wipe off all of it. I got so wet that I actually sat in it. Talk about no dignity.

That's the story, morning glory. I posted my new yarns on etsy, I have leftovers for dinner, and I'm going to knit.

I love being retired, er, refreshed. Whatever. It's great!

Monday, December 17, 2007

One sock finished! Whadda woman!

I finished my first sock of a pair for Ravelry's Sock knitters Anonymous December contest.

I want to write up the pattern and post it here as a freebie. This will take longer than knitting the sock, so don't hold your breath!

This was yarn that was on my etsy site. It didn't move, and I really liked it, so I pulled it off and am now knitting it. I feel guilty for doing this. I don't know why; just plain dopeyness.

There are certain yarns of mine that I really really love, and I never understand why people are not beating down the doors to buy them. Then there are yarns that I'm neutral toward, and they go pretty quickly. Go figure. I have this strange attachment to my babies. I'm sending them forth into a cruel and cold world, and I want them to be loved. Is this sick or what? I do get a charge out of knowing that somewhere in the world, someone is knitting my yarn. Hey, you get your thrills where you can.

MOMMIE note: I had lunch with her, and she actually ate more than 5 bites. And then, hold on to your seats, I convinced her to go play Bingo. She does tell me that it's a dopey game, but lots of fun, but she will not go. She'd rather plop in her chair and sleep. I am a cheerleader with her, but the Mommie being the Mommie, she basically ignores me. I have NEVER, EVER, won an argument with her. I remarked on that to her a while ago, and she told me: "If you ever win an argument with me, honey, I'll be in my grave." We do have lots of fun sparring with each other.

Here are a couple of etsy yarns to look forward to, and I love these babies. So there! Their tentative names are Shimmer, City Socks, and Cutie Pie.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I sleep with a radiator!

I do, I really do. The Hubbo is a human radiator! The man gives off more heat than you can imagine. I go to bed later than he does, and when I climb in, I snorkel up to him to get all that residual heat. You can feel the heat 2 inches away from his body. This is stupendous in winter. Between the flannel effect and the Hubbo, I sleep in a warm, cozy nest.

Half of him is under the covers, and the other half is on top. I can't figure this out. Does this somehow equalize the heat effect?

Me, I cocoon in a tiny spot with my feet (in woolly socks of course) tucked into my flannel nightie, and then wrapped up in those flannel sheets and under the flannel-wrapped down comforter. This is great until the bathroom calls. You try to get yourself out of this cave at a reasonable speed. The velcro, the cocoon, the tootsies tucked in: arrgh. So I say to myself: "Self, you've gotta go." And I answer myself: "Yeah, so? How are you ever going to extricate yourself from the bed straightjacket?" Eventually, with much moaning and groaning, I get up, do my thing, and then futz on the computer. The radiator, on the other hand, just rolls out of bed. What's wrong with this picture?

I'm about to write up a freebie sock pattern. How come it's so much easier to knit the sock than to write about it?

I just got finished dyeing 4 skeins of yarn: 2 for Best Friend for a shawl, and 2 for etsy sale. Not much is going on in my etsy world this month. Folks are so busy with holiday stuff, that we smaller indie dyers can nap around now. I figured that December would be very slow, and I'm hoping that January will pick up. Online retail is fascinating for me, given that I worked my entire career in a public library. At any rate, I'm happily dyeing some neat stuff, and I'll post it probably after Christmas, unless someone screams to see the yarns. If you scream, I'll post.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Miss P, the Count and Me

I'm back home after a really lovely family visit to Minneapolis. DD and SIL were great, and Miss P - well what can I say? 5 year olds are tons of fun.

Miss P used to call me Grandma Ruth, then that got shortened to Grandma, then Grammie, and now Gram. Say "Gram" in a whiny voice with a bit of wheedle in it. Then: "Gram, what should we play?" She loves to do crafts, so we did a lot of those, and then there's the dreaded "boys and girls" game.

She started "boys and girls" a couple of years ago. This is how it works: she gets to play all the girls and I get to play all the boys. When she first started this, the girls would always be sleeping, and the boys had to do all the talking. Now we are much more sophisticated and no longer call it that; now she calls it "let's play pretend". Same game, but at least now far more interesting. This time, the Count (from Sesame Street) landed in the boys' pile, so I did a lot of "Do you know why they call me the Count? Because I love to count. One little princess, ha, ha ha." All said in a fake Russian accent, which is how Dracula is always pictured. The truth is that Dracula comes from Transylvania, where they speak Romanian. The Mom comes from that region, but her part of Transylvania was Hungary before WWI, so she speaks with a Hungarian accent. What does this have to do with playing pretend? Nothing, but I thought I'd throw that little factoid in.

I got a lot of knitting done in Mpls: DD got a pair of socks out of "jeans", I started a pair for her from some Panda I had dyed up, and then I started a pair of socks from me. I'll post pics later on. I have to upload, download, and generally just load.

When I left the Cities this morning, it was 3 degrees. When I arrived in NJ, it was 41 degrees. Ah, the balmy weather of NJ. A fair bit of snow in Minneapolis, and practically nothing here. I think we're going to get a mess on Sunday.

This is not an exciting blog today at all. My ears are still clogged, and I'm tired, but I thought I'd check in in case you thought I had gone AWOL.

I did add some pretty yarns to my etsy site:

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Off to the frozen north

I'm shivering already. Friday I'm going to Minneapolis for a bit of DD, SIL, and granddaughter doting. It's a good 20 degrees colder there than here in balmy NJ, and with lots of snow already. So here's what I'm taking to keep warm: my hand knitted woolly socks, my cashmere-lined leather gloves (that Hubbo bought at a thrift shop, of course) encased in my fairisle, worsted wool mittens, the down coat that makes little moi look like Nanook of the North, replete with down hood, new Lands End boots that I got on sale, sweaters, turtle necks, scarves, etc.

Usually I go in January, which is frozen hell on wheels. But now that I'm retired, I can go at a better time. Like December. OK, I'll be there for Chanukah, which will be fun. The trouble is that they're going to make me go outside. I don't like winter; I'm already whimpering at the thought of all those layers, and I'll still be cold. Coming home to NJ will feel like a tropical vacation.

I've already been volunteered to do a bit of baby sitting. Miss P is so much fun to hang out with, that of course I said yes. Now that she's in all-day kindergarden, I won't see her nearly as much as before. We'll have a good time together like we always do.

DD and I are going to hang out, go shopping, etc. I've been volunteered to help out in Miss P's kindergarden class along with her mom, so that should be cute.

Otherwise, I've been trying to finish up whatever needs to be done around here, like laundry. I've dyed 7 skeins, and I'm keeping one for me. Tomorrow night is Hubbo's office Christmas party. It's always pleasant, and now I know a few people, so that will make it nicer.

Mommy news: Yesterday, I called the Mommy up at 9:30 to tell her that I was going to join her for lunch and would she let the kitchen staff know. OK, I went to the hairdresser, and while I was waiting, called her back. Whoops, she had fallen back asleep, but would get up and let the kitchen staff know. Okey dokey, I finished with the hairdresser, and I called her up to make sure that she had let the kitchen staff know. Guess what? Yup, she had fallen back asleep, but she would get up and let the kitchen staff know. I arrived at her place about 7 minutes later, and, you got it, she was asleep, and had NOT let the kitchen staff know. SOOOOOO, I told the kitchen staff, and they moved everybody around in the dining room, and she finally got up, got dressed and we had lunch together.

Then we went back to her room, and she parked herself in her favorite chair and told me that she was going to take a nap. This is the same woman who complains that she has a hard time falling asleep. And I keep telling her that, if you sleep all day, you're not going to be tired at night. 93 year old ladies can be a challenge sometimes.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Knitting Like Crazy

Today I want to talk about a talented lady named Jen. Her blog is

and it's a delight to read and look at. Right now she has the most adorable Christmas figures up including a knitting Christmas lady. Jen dyes very pretty yarn, which she sells on Etsy and to a knitting store. With names like Soccer Camp and Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, how can you not want them? Jen is my blog guru, so any weirdness here is not her fault. Go, take a look.

Here's what I dyed on Sunday: Flagstone, Violets in the Snow, and City Socks Two. Flagstone because I couldn't think of a better name. Violets is self explanatory, and City Socks Two because I'm in love with this technique.

Update on the Velcro effect: the flannel sheets are on, and I'm so cozy in them. But, yup, you guessed it, I can't turn over. It's the old lift, twist in the air, and plop movement. Oh, but am I comfortable. It's like I don't want to leave my bed.

Hubbo news: he's into night lights with a passion. So right now, 2;42am EST, he's happily changing night lights. We have 4 active night lights and 4 back-up lights. And who knows what's hidden away in the basement. And, if that were not enough, he's also changing a lightbulb in the lamp in the computer room. My Honey, the lightbulb meister.

The Velcro Effect!

'Tis the season for good cheer, lovely lights, delicious food, and Velcro.

I'm cheerful because I don't have to deal with the holiday shopping frenzy. Hubbo and I don't bother, and everyone else, except the grands of course, gets gift certificates or stuff like that.

I love all the lights in this ever-darkening time of year. It's so warming to see all the Christmas lights and Chanukah candles. Everything looks like a fairy land.

Delicious food? That's why they invented restaurants. I used to cook a lot, and I'm not a bad cook, but lately the cooking spirit has wandered off.

But Velcro? Well, tomorrow I'm switching sheets to my flannel ones. The sheets that feel like a warm and cuddly nightie. The sheets that make getting into bed at night a treat instead of the freezing moments I've had for the past few nights. The mega-comforter is already in use, and soon will be encased in flannely goodness. I've been in flannel nightgowns for a few weeks already. So, are you getting the picture? The cozy woolly socks are on the feet, and the body is draped in warm and wonderful flannel. I pull back the covers and get ready to enter bed paradise. And that's when it happens: Velcro! If you're wearing flannel clothing and are sleeping in flannel heaven, you CAN'T slide!!! You have to jump under the covers and if you want to turn, you have to raise yourself up and flip, kind of like a whale in the ocean. Sleeping and turning over have now become aerobic activities: "The Velcro effect." I have to ask the physicist son-in-law if anyone has ever studied this.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

I only listen to girl singers!

A Rosie story:

Three year old Rosie was in the CD department with her mom and brother, and they were all looking for some nice Christmas music. So Rose spots a Julie Andrews CD, and says to her mom: "Look, Mommy, there's the lady who sings Raindrops on Roses. Can I listen?"

So off she goes with CD to the listening station, and sits in bliss while Julie Andrews sings. Runs back to her mom and wants this CD, immediately! Nothing else will do. Mom picks up a James Taylor CD, and shows Rose, who turns up her nose at it. "Mommy, I only listen to girl singers!" So now they own Julie Andrews singing Christmas carols, and she's a girl singer.

We went on a field trip today. We drove to Millbrook, NY where we ate at this teeny little diner, which is some sort of tradition of ours, and then drove on Rte 44 to Millerton, home of Harney & Sons Teas. I'm a tea fiend, and I love Harney's teas, so this is always a treat for me. You do understand that I have over 26 caffeinated teas, and a bunch of herbals, particularly rooibos teas. So I don't "need" tea. But since when does need have anything to do with it? It's like yarn. Who needs more yarn? And that's why we yarnies have stashes up our wazoos.

Anyhow, back to Harney's. I bought "Boston" tea, whatever that is. I didn't taste it, but it smelled lovely. What I wanted to try out were the oolongs. I'm a black tea lover; I like strong teas, the kind a spoon will stand up in. I'm not fond of green teas, and whites put me to sleep. But I feel that I should expand my horizons, so oolongs are the next thing. I fell in love with a tea called "Da Hong Pao". Truly lovely, with a nice floral background and not wimpy at all.

We wandered around Millerton, did a tiny bit of antiquing, and had a grand time. One of the things we like about this trip is Rte 44. At one point, just past Amenia, there's a switchback, which can knock your socks off. This time I brought my camera, and as usual, missed my photography moment. The switchback sneaks up on you, and by the time it occurs, you're zooming around it. You'll just have to trust me; it's breathtaking.

Tomorrow I just might dye. Or not. We'll see.


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