Thursday, July 24, 2008

One of the knitting lists to which I belong designates those who knit socks as “darksiders.” Well, I have slid into the darkest spot of a darksider’s abode; I have broken my vow to never knit a sock on a circular needle. I did it! And the house didn’t cave in. Although I wondered for a bit when the weather turned ugly, and we were hit by hail and massive amounts of rain and a thunderstorm. My main objective is to eventually knit two socks at the same time. I’m having more and more trouble counting rows to have the two socks match exactly. And, please, no one suggest row counters or pen and paper. I lose such things as fast as I get them into my hands.

These socks were knit with SRK (Kertzer Yarns) “On Your Toes” made up of 75% Bamboo and 25% Nylon. The manufacturer’s label designates this yarn as “superfine,” but it isn’t. There are only 328 yds. (300 m) in a 100 gram (3.5 oz) ball. The recommendation is for 3.25 mm (US #3) needles. I would definitely call it a sports weight yarn. At the most, you’ll get a size 8 woman’s sock out of one ball of yarn. So if your shoe size is larger than size 8 or you want extra long legs, you would be well advised to buy two balls. The price at my LYS was US$ 13.25. The yarn is made up of three strands bamboo (one each of salmon, purplish pink and beige and a fourth, somewhat thinner, strand of nylon. As with all plant-based yarns, the individual strands of yarn don’t hold onto each other so the danger of splitting is always there.

I originally bought two balls to start a sweater with, but when I dug them out I had completely forgotten the reason for purchasing the yarn. So one skein ended up in socks and only after my daughter Angela reminded me of the purpose for the yarn, did it hit home. Oh well; the yarn would make a nice short-sleeved top, however.

The socks were knit on a 2.00 mm (US Size 0) circular needle. So, I didn’t read the label before I started. The pattern is a Harry Potter pattern called Fawkes, Dumbledore’s most faithful friend and confidant. The color of the yarn I chose definitely does not go along with the theme. The version I saved on my computer does not give the designer’s name, but has the heading of “Socktopia Excusive, July 2007. (I have since learned that the author of these patterns apparently died.)

Now that I have bored you to death, here is the picture show:

The next pair of socks is knit with Crystal Palace Maizy, 50 grams per ball, 82% corn fiber, 18% elastic nylon). Recommended needle size US #2 (2.75mm). Again, I have a complaint of the yarn splitting. The pattern is from the German site . The designer is Kristin Benecken. The sock was designed for a train trip and is called "Baltikum" for the three Baltic States, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Apparently there is a set of German knitters that go on various train trips to some agreed on destination for which a sock is designed and knit during the trip.

And finally an accidental picture; a view of one of our pine trees toward the driveway.

Knit On!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Of Latin teachers and Hermann Hesse

I recently went out into the barn to rescue a few books from the boxes still unpacked. I found a paperback by Hermann Hesse whose pages had yellowed over the years. Its listed purchase price is $2.65; so you can guess it is a "few" years old. The title is HESSE Autobiographical Writings. Hesse's writings are dear to my heart. He was born in my neck of the woods of Germany and as so many Swabians, his roots are deeply planted in Swabia's soil even though he spent a good deal of his adult life living in Switzerland. I reread the book and realized that I couldn't remember reading it, but must have since I had copiously underlined various sections.

On this reading of the book, a totally different section in his essay From My School Days jumped out at me and brought back fond memories of my Latin teacher.

Here is the section that made me chuckle:

...I believe my mother was not at first enchanted by him as he came toward us and invited us into his den, a bent, aged man with tangled gray hair, somewhat protuberant eyes marked with red veins, dressed in an indescribably old-fashioned garment stained with greenish discolorations, wearing spectacles low on his nose and holding in his right hand a long pipe with a porcelain bowl reaching almost to the floor, from which he continuously blew mighty clouds of smoke into the already smoke-filled room.

In the third year of attending Gymnasium (7th grade in the US), our curriculum was to include Latin. (In the second year we had started with French, merely because at that time we lived in the French Zone and thus, French was the first foreign language our teachers tried to pound into us. In 1952 Germany was still divided into four zones: The French, American, English and the Russian zone, i.e. East Germany.)

Well finally six months into the third year of Gymnasium, our principal had found a Latin teacher--the spitting image of Hesse's Latin teacher. I could conjure up the day our principal came into the class room introducing him. I can't remember if it was the whole class or just a certain number of precocious little twerps (of course me included) that said spontaneously and in unison: May bug.! He was old, very old, had bug eyes, wore spectacles, had a pipe that came to below his knees, and a pencil with which to correct our work that had to have at least an eighth of an inch tip to it. Such were the goings on of German post-war education. I wish I had a photograph of him.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Knitting Update - Part I

So little time, so many projects to knit and blog about, so many e-mails to read = no blogging. I've been furiously knitting sample socks for my daughter's hand-dyed yarns. Folks seem to buy the yarn more readily if they can see a sample. So here are photos of the socks that I've knitted lately.
Chevron pattern. Hand-dyed yarn by Valley6222, Desert Sunset

Detail photo of Chevron pattern.
Koi socks from The Eclectic Sole. Opal yarn, wool/silk mixture, purchased from April Sosa E-Bay store. This yarn is not generally available in the US since it was part of Opal's quarterly subscription. I don't ask how she gets it and am quite sure she wouldn't tell me.

Detail section of pattern.

Slightly different Chevron pattern. Yarn hand-dyed by Valley6222. Color is Blue of M.

Short row sample. Color is again Blue of M.

Short row sock. Color is Larch based on the Larch trees in our area. Larch trees are the only fir-type trees which lose their needles in the winter. In summer they are green and in the Fall the needles turn golden.
Knit On!

Anniversary Mystery Shawl #8

I am currently knitting a Pi shawl designed by Renee Leverington of . I am halfway through clue 4, the 96 row section. Unfortunately, I did not read the direction thoroughly enough (what else is new) and now I have to punt. I used one of the 48 row patterns of Clue 4 instead of choosing a 96 row selection. Naturally, the shawl isn't big enough yet. Instead of ripping out the 48 rows of 576 stitches each, I am going to try to knit the mirror image of the 48 row pattern. I am going to be adventuresome; besides it's just as much work to rip out 96 rows than 48 rows. Right?

The shawl is knit with some fingering weight Brown Sheep Merino of which I had 1-1/2 cones in my stash. I am using US 7 (4.5 mm) needles. For the photos, I temporarily dry-blocked the shawl, just so I could get an idea of what it would look like. It's coming out nicely so far. We'll see what the end result is once I have knit the other 48 rows.

Another chicken tale...

Beware! This posting includes minor blood and gore!

I think I have not mentioned that tragedy befell my flock of chickens. A not-so-friendly critter came back two nights in a row and killed four of them. First their heads were bitten off and the body discarded and the next night, the chicken carcasses disappeared. Additionally, one of the ladies decided to attempt to hatch non-fertilized eggs. So it was decided to acquire a rooster, and we now have a small but very active master who has dedicated himself to the safety of his "Ladies." So let me introduce Cuckoo, a Cuckoo Marans rooster.

This breed was developed in France in the mid 1800's in the town for which it bears its name, Marans. They had made their way to England in the early 1900's and quickly became very popular for their very dark (chocolate) brown eggs - a trait they are still known for today.

Coo's tail feathers are in the process of growing back in. He had a few fights with his previous charges.