Apr 20th, 2011
Socks with the opening text of Beowulf? I may just have to knit these one day.
Socks with the opening text of Beowulf? I may just have to knit these one day.
Reading: The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth. A compelling narrative, well-drawn characters, and good writing. I liked this book very much, though reading it made me feel a bit paranoid: I saw in it echoes of the current neocon-driven discourse. Roth writes about Jews, but in many parts if you substitute “Muslims” you see glimpses of the prejudice and fear in our own society today.
Also reading: The Dark Is Rising sequence, by Susan Cooper. Actually, I’m listening to these: the three of us are listening to the audio books together (great for long car rides, and for evenings spent playing with Legos in the den after dinner). We’ve gotten through three of the five books, and Sylvia loves them. So much, in fact, that we started having “Wouldn’t it be nice to take a trip to Cornwall soon?” discussions before we realized that such a trip isn’t in our budget right now. Soon, I hope.
Mucking about with: Google Body.
Knitting: It’s been quite some time (months and months!) since I did a knitting update. Over the winter months I completed several small projects:
I also knit a February Lady Sweater for myself. I cast on in January, but I did happen to knit most of it in February. Since I finished it, I’ve worn it at least three days each week—I really love it.
BONUS: All of this knitting was done with stash yarn. WOOT! Up next on my plate: a February Lady (Kid?) Sweater for Sylvia. I think I’ll just take the grown-up pattern and knit the smallest size in sportweight (instead of worsted). That ought to fit her, I think. Unfortunately, I don’t have suitable yarn for this (she wants blue, and I’m thinking of something that’s mostly cotton), so I’ll actually have to buy some for this project.
Watching: The Secret of Kells. One of the most visually stunning films I’ve seen in a long time.
* And one of those friends was the person who gave me some of that yarn about four years ago. She gave me three balls of Baby Cashmerino in a deep red color, and that turned out to be just the right amount to make one scarf for her and an identical one for myself.
The first pair of socks I knit for myself, out of KnitPicks Memories, developed a huge hole in the heel within a couple of months. Several knitting friends pointed out to me that the 100% merino content of the yarn I used was the likely culprit: without any nylon for strength, wool socks just wear through.
So I resolved to knit socks only with sock yarn that contained some nylon. These were next, made of Fleece Article Sea Wool–70% merino, 30% seacell. I thought the seacell would provide enough strength to keep these socks intact, but while out for a walk in my neighborhood this afternoon I discovered I was wrong.
Two questions for you all:
1. Is it worth trying to darn these somehow? I like these socks a lot, but the entire heel/foot has worn rather thin. I’m concerned that if I take the time to repair the holes, more are likely to appear elsewhere soon.
2. Do you have any recommendations for good, strong sock yarn? I want to start on another pair of socks for myself, but I really want to be sure I choose a long-lasting yarn.
Let’s take as our starting point some classically styled booties.
Then let’s move on to knee-high booties, for those babies who always manage to disengage themselves from their footwear.
These socks help babies express their inner Wicked Witches of the East.
Or maybe their inner monsters?
If you’re a sock knitter, you may especially enjoy these baby booties made with leftover sock yarn. Best of all, there’s no seaming whatsoever!
The person who wrote that pattern then upped the cuteness ante with these munchkin slippers, also made with leftover sock yarn and sized for newborn feet. Again, no seaming!
These are made from worsted-weight yarn,
Prefer your baby booties to come in mindless-knitting versions? Check out these slippers, formed from simple squares.
At this site, you enter some pieces of information (needle size, gauge, ankle circumference, type of heel desired) and get a step-by-step pattern for knitting socks.
Most sock knitters I know already have a regular/vanilla sock pattern they like to use, so maybe this is nothing new to most of you. I do like how you get a one-page pattern that’s easy to tote around. I think a printout would also be useful to file away if you’re made socks for a particular person, so you can have a record of what you did.
This sock pattern is touted as something “for men,” but really, anyone could wear diamonds in their shoes.
These Tatami Socks (from Judy Sumner’s Knitted Socks East and West) can be found on the Storque (Etsy’s handmade blog), where you can either download a PDF (look for the link in the introductory paragraphs) or follow the instructions right on the page. Most sock patterns strike me as too “fussy,” but I do like these and may give them a try soon.
These yoga socks are intended to warm your feet while leaving your toes and heels free for gripping. I wonder if the knitted surface would raise your toes from the mat just enough for them to lose their gripability. I also wonder how slippery these socks themselves would be–or if they’d be a good solution for people who get sweaty (and slippery) feet during their practice.
I know that legwarmers aren’t technically footwear, but legs are attached to feet, so I figure that’s close enough. These legwarmers have a lovely cable detail (from a scarf that’s been on my to-knit list forever…). And here are some super stretchy legwarmers knit out of worsted weight yarn (which means that if you want to knit some as a holiday gift, if you get cracking right now you might actually get them done on time).
And finally, just in time for the holiday season, elf shoes. The pattern sizes range from infant to adult, so you’ll definitely find one to suit your needs. Why should all the cute knitted shoes be for kids only? Adults need some elf-shoe goodness, too!
(Every time I come across a cute pattern for felted slippers, I think, “They look fun, but they’d be too slippery on my wood floors.” Suede soles are one solution, but they are outrageously expensive. Here’s a far cheaper solution: use silicone caulk on the soles.)
It’s taken me a few days to recover from all of those wild Pi Day festivities (okay, not really), but here I am with a whole bunch of good news!
News the first: I just had my car’s annual inspection this morning, and my little 1993 Saturn SL1 (yes, it’s official: I drive a beater) gets to live for another year! Yippee! I’m not looking forward to the expense of replacing this one when it’s no longer (legally) drivable. And I just love my little car, which has traveled to both coasts and back again several times since I bought it new.
News the second: I knit these socks for my friend Valerye for her birthday. They arrived a day late (she lives in Australia, and it’s hard to gauge how long international mail takes these days), but she didn’t mind at all—she thinks of late gifts as just prolonging the birthday celebration. She loves them! And they fit, too—no small thing, considering I don’t know her shoe size. I’ve never even seen her feet, since we’ve never actually met. We’ve been pen pals for sixteen years. Wow.
News the third: My garden is already off to a great start!* A couple of weeks ago we had a break in the cold weather. It was one of those freakishly warm days when you see pretty much everyone outside and hear lawnmowers revving throughout the neighborhood. Sylvia and I took advantage of the day to clean out our garden beds. We found several wiggly earthworms (which she enjoyed holding in her hands before finding a nice patch of dirt for them), cleared off dead leaves, and set up stakes for our peas and other climbers.
Yesterday, on St. Patrick’s Day, we planted our pea seeds—as instructed by Mike McGrath. Once we find the staple gun (it’s somewhere in this house…) we’ll set up trellis netting on the stakes, and those climbing peas will be able to go nutso!
News the fourth: On Saturday, the three of us attended a regional theater production in Old City, Philadelphia, of A Year with Frog and Toad. Wow. I am pretty sure that this is just about the best show (professional or amateur) I have ever seen. This particular production was terrific, but the show itself is just utterly sweet and charming and well-paced and cleverly structured. It’s based, as you can probably guess, on Arnold Loebel’s famous Frog and Toad stories.
The best part? Watching Sylvia’s almost-four-year-old face just light up while watching the show. Since Saturday, we’ve been listening to the soundtrack pretty much nonstop. And she’s got Jan and me doing pretend play with her based on the stories. Usually, she likes to be “the snail with the mail” or “the red bird.” I’m usually cast (she is the casting director, of course) as Toad, and Jan is usually “the blue bird.” On Sunday morning, she asked me to show her how to write “Dear Toad,” then she copied it onto a piece of paper, then—as “the snail with the mail”—very, very slowly delivered it to me.
News the fifth: On Monday I went back to Philly to meet an old friend (and his fiancee) from Oregon. They live in Portland now but are in New Jersey visiting her family for a few days. Mike and I met when I was doing my fieldwork and he was doing his doctoral research in marine biology and ecology. We kept in touch but this was the first time in ten years we’d seen each other. We met up at our favorite Chinese vegetarian/vegan restaurant in Chinatown. Yum!
*Sylvia is taking a picture here with her “new” camera (my old point-and-shoot), which she got for Christmas. She is quite the shutterbug. It’s fascinating to look at the photos and catch a glimpse of the world through her eyes.
Last Sunday (just over a week ago), the three of us did a day trip up to New York (about a two or two-and-a-half-hour drive for us) to attend a one-year-old’s birthday party at Shea Stadium. We left our house at 7:30 in the morning and had parked at the stadium lot by 9:30.*
I love New York City. I don’t think I would ever want to live there (unless I were filthy stinking rich enough to afford a home larger than a closet), but it’s a magical place to visit. Coming into the city early on a weekend morning is my favorite: everything is so quiet, there’s no traffic, and the city has a lovely otherworldly quality.
We hopped on the subway and took it one stop to the end of the line, right in the middle of Chinatown in Flushing. My brother (who lives in Greenwich Village) met us there, and we had dim sum brunch together at a terrific vegetarian Chinese restaurant. We took the subway back to the stadium and got to the party location (a box for thirty people) about half an hour before the game started at 1:10.
Neither Jan nor I are sports fans, but we were able to explain the basics of baseball to Sylvia. Well, not all of them: we didn’t get past the part about the guy trying to hit a ball with a special stick. That’s all she wanted to know. She enjoyed watching the first inning and a half of the game, then mostly lost interest unless the organist was playing a song.
Mr. Met stopped by the box to say hello to the birthday boy and pose for pictures. Personally, I don’t know why all the little kids who were at the party didn’t freak out at the sight of him. Think about it: it’s a guy with a giant baseball for a head. If that isn’t horrifying, what is?
The Mets trounced the Cardinals in just two-and-a-half hours, so we were back on the road again by 4:30. Even though Sylvia napped in the car, by the time we got home around 7:30 we were all exhausted. We all fell out.
There’s a knitting connection to this post, though. The gray toddler socks I knit last month were a gift for the birthday boy (whose birthday isn’t really for another week). His mom’s birthday was on Sunday (though totally downplayed because it was her son’s party), and I gave her a pair of socks I’d completed the night before (racing against deadline!). I neglected to take a photo of them, so I’ll have to see if I can get one from her.
*Of course it figures that when I finally make it to Queens (I’ve now visited all five boroughs—woot!), the one person I know there, Deborah (my awesome downstream pal in SP11), was busy running the NYC Half Marathon through Central Park and Times Square. I’m sure I’ll get a chance to meet her some day, though!
Well, maybe not rich, but the prize money could buy a lot of yarn.
The people responsible for Knitter’s magazine, XRX books, and the Stitches events are having a sock-design contest called Think Outside the Sox. The grand prize is $6,000, and the contest runs until 1 January 2009.
I wonder if knitting an oversized washcloth, folding it around my foot, then stapling it into place would qualify as a sock design. That’s pretty much all I could manage in the sock department, I think…