When All Else Fails, Wear Converse


“Honey, come look at this.”

I am frowning at my newly completed On-Your-Toes toe-up socks as they lay innocently side by side on the coffee table.

R. Darling: Hmmm?
Me: They don’t match!! Look at them!
R. Darling:  Don’t be silly. No one will even notice honey.
Me:  But I’ll notice! I’ll know they don’t match!

Instead of identical sock twins, my needles gave knit to a set of fraternals.  One loose and relaxed with jaggedy pooling stripes reminicent of some sort of storybook big cat, the other skinny and uptight, bands of color in precise intervals.  Same needles.  Same yarn.  Same knitter.  So what happened?

Knitting is such a fascinating barometer of our emotions, our thoughts, our state of mind.  I can remember every ball, hank or skein of yarn that I’ve ever purchased (tells you how measly my stash is!), what drew me to it, what else was going on in my life at the time, where I bought it, what I was dreaming it would become on my needles.  Looking at these socks and their differences, I reflected on the time and emotion spent on each one.  My loose, pool-y first sock was begun during my week’s recovery from knee surgery in May.  I had nothing to worry about all day long, except icing my knee, resting and knitting.  Its loose gauge and relaxed fit, reflects clearly this time of relaxation, this focus on my needs and happiness.  Whenever I look at this cheerful yarn I think of Jeanie who so thoughtfully sent me a little get-well gift to keep me occupied during my recuperation.  And I smile.  Fondness fills me up.  Then this second sock.  Knitting it, I didn’t see the differences slowly emerging until I had moved past the point where pooling had started on the first sock. Isn’t that funny? I thought to myself.  No pooling.  Huh.  But I just kept knitting.  When this little brother sock had finally arrived, I noted how much smaller it looked and felt.  And looking at it I was filled with the tenseness of the weeks during which it had been knit.  Crazy times at work, stress of no concrete origin creeping into its knits and purls, exhaustion of both body and mind seeping out of its fibers.  I felt a little sorry for me and this little brother sock as I looked at it.  Despite its nearly perfect striped repeats, that seemingly pretty surface belied the melancholy hiding beneath.  

So I did the only thing I could think to do.  I put on my Converse, put on a big smile, and tried not to dwell.  Lace your Converse just so and no one will be the wiser about your mismatched sock or what’s behind your mysterious half-smile.  You can’t help but smile with a pair of Converse on your feet. 


Lesson learned: Don’t knit angry.  Knit happy. 
And keep your Converse nearby just in case……


Dreaming Is Free

Image courtesty of Interweave Knits

The Fall Preview of IK is up!!  Yay!  Something to look forward to!  I think my favorite sweater out of the preview so far is the Mirepoix Bodice, though I think I’d prefer it in reds and pinks.  I’m definitely not up to speed on the whole color work thing yet though.  Good thing I’ve got a bazillion other projects to do first so I won’t spoil the dream of that sweater by attempting it right away.  I can drool over it a bit longer before reality kicks in.  What?  You mean I need about 500 balls of yarn in different colors?  And each one costs $9?  And you’re telling me I have to knit with them all?  Yeah, like that kind of reality.  Ditto on those Snowflake Socks too. 

I’m also loving this pattern after getting a preview from DreamWeaver Yarns.  Oddly, it’s a StitchDiva pattern and I couldn’t find it on their site yesterday.  What’s the deal with that?  Anyway, I really really really, want to knit this!  Oh yeah – did I mention I really want to knit this sweater?

trapezeshort    trapezelong
              Images courtesy of DreamWeaver Yarns & StitchDiva

The red one really caught my eye and I feel I have to knit that one for sure.  If the pattern’s simple enough I may go for the longer sleeved version as well.  I never seem to have enough cardis and these are so beautifully retro.

O.k.  Enough dreaming for today…..



Sometimes I actually knit.  And sometimes I actually blog about knitting.  I know.  Shocking.  Lately I just feel run down and knitting has fallen by the wayside because there’s too many other things taking up my time.  But I have been working (very slowly) on a couple projects and I thought I’d share my current WIP’s with you.  Just to let you know that my knitting obsession has not completely exited stage left…..


This is sock #2 of the On-Your-Toes toe-up socks from the current IK.  I’ve got 5 more straight rounds then I go to all ribbing and I’ve got another approximately 50 rounds after that until it’s done.  This one has gone more smoothly than the first one and though I did have a little trouble with the eastern cast-on again, I have finally figured out exactly what to do and I think it will be phenomenally easier next time.  The heel went smoothly too – just frogged about 6 short rows after a small counting mistake.  Hey, if I only frogged it once, that ain’t too bad!  This has been a great knit and I really like the toe-up pattern.  I’ve never knit any other socks so I’m hoping learning the more traditional cuff down method won’t be too difficult now that I’m set in my toe-up ways.


Here is Lelah.  I haven’t made much progress on her in the last couple weeks.  I am about 9 lace repeats in and I’ve got quite a ways to go until I can do the stockinette portion and finish up.  I tried it on after about 8 lace repeats just to make sure it would fit around my currently “curvaceous” waistline and decided I wanted a little shaping.  So I switched from size 7 needles to 6’s after lace repeat number 8.  Then I stalled.  I recently purchased quite a few bamboo needles from a shop that is going out of business and I’ve been using them on some of my newer projects.  I can’t believe how much of a difference it’s made in my whole knitting experience.  I think part of the reason I’m not enjoying Lelah is because I’ve been knitting her on my plastic Denise needles.  And you know what?  I don’t like them.  So as soon as I can I’m ditching them.  Bamboo is where it’s at baby!  Maybe I’ll be motivated to pick up Lelah again if I put her on bamboo instead.


And this here is Fifi.  I officially started her yesterday after about 3 different tries and some frustrating froggin’ (say that 5 times fast!).  This one is for the current SKC knitalong and the pattern is actually pretty simple so far.  I’m using Rowan Calmer in the color Chiffon that I bought on eBay for about half price.  This yarn is yummy-licious, but pricey unless you can get a deal like I did.  Might be worth it though to splurge – it’s just that nice.  I’m on round 25 right now and it’s going well finally.  My problems before were with gauge issues and which size to knit etc.  I finally decided to knit on 7’s instead of 8’s (didn’t like how the fabric looked on 8’s – too holey, and the gauge was off anyway) and make the size small.  I like it so far and it’s helping me get back to enjoying my knitting.

In other knitting news, check my sidebar under the “news” heading for some info about a Christmas swap that Kasia and I set up.  It’s now open for sign-ups, so be sure to get your name in on the Christmas fun!  I know, we’re starting early, but when you love Christmas, you love Christmas!


Sock It To Me Sock Swap Contest #1 Answer

Woo Hoo!!  Sock It To Me Sock Swap Contest #1 time!

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

Write a blog entry about why and how you started to knit. Extra points for adding pictures of your first knitted object.

The “Piglet Scarf” – The first knitting project I ever started, and also my oldest UFO

Hmmm.  Where to begin?  I’ve always been crafty.  Growing up with artistic parents, and being an only child, the response to my whiny, “I’m bored!” was always, “Why don’t you draw something?”  Being that I didn’t inherit any artistic talent by blood, and I certainly didn’t absorb any from mere proximity to the creative genius of my adoptive parents, drawing only worked until I was old enough to discover that I thoroughly sucked at it.  Which is fine when you’re 5, but not so cool when you add a few more years to that and all you can muster is some lopsided stick figures.

My first love was really sewing.  Mom tried, but she had always stuck to the basics, and once I’d learned all those, she was tapped out.  To this day she still calls me to sew up the holes in her sweats or buttons on her shirts.  I remember, after she taught me how to thread a needle, tenderly stitching up my favorite bunny doll Sissy.  I made sure she was comfortable, gave her an “injection” to numb her arm that needed stitching, saying “This won’t hurt a bit,” and then gently stitched up her fur that had worn thin from too many hugs.  After learning to sew and spending years making doll dresses and stuffed creatures on my ancient treadle sewing machine, I turned to crochet.  I’m not sure why, I guess because my best friend at the time was willing to teach me after I saw her crocheting at recess once in 5th grade.  I didn’t really take it seriously, just one of those things that I now knew how to do, but didn’t really mean much.

During grad school and later when I had my first “real” job, I finally had time for some hobbies and I turned to crochet with more focused interest.  After a series of afghans and snowflakes, I wasn’t satisfied with crochet anymore.  Crochet seemed like some kind of weird second cousin to macrame, a 70’s throwback that felt too folky and limiting, at least with the patterns I had access to at the time.  All the good patterns seemed to be for knitters back then.  And I’d always viewed knitting as more refined somehow.  Maybe just because the clothing patterns for knitting seemed so much more attractive.  I’d always been interested in fashion and sewing my own clothing, and the idea of being able to make my own sweaters fascinated me.  But knitting and I would have only a fleeting flirtation at that time.  An ill-fated attempt at a sweater during Christmas break in Martinique with my best friend my junior year in college, a friend of my mom’s repeatedly telling me I was “doing it wrong” as she tried to teach me to knit a sock with needles I’d made myself from small dowels (on her directions), another abortive attempt with some nasty acrylic in Hunter’s Safety Orange that I ended up giving away to my adviser’s wife who knit constantly, and that was it. 

Then, it must have been Christmas of 2005, my best friend knit me a scarf for Christmas made of red eyelash yarn and things got serious.  After I told her how much I loved the scarf and how much I wanted to knit, she, sweet girl that she is, sent me a beginner’s book on learning to knit.  My obession grew to epic proportions overnight.  Why?  I’ll never know for sure.  The conditions were just right this time.  Feverishly, I set about making Warm Up America squares for practice.  I started what I now call the “Piglet Scarf”, and I became thoroughly obsessed.  But somehow I didn’t trust my ability to learn from a book.  I’ve always been great at learning things from books, but I was serious this time about doing things “right”.  So in February 2006 I took a class at the community college.  My first completed project was a dishcloth that I promptly gave to my mom.  And the rest of the roots of my obsession is now history.  This time, I’ve been hooked for life!


This is my very first FO – a seed stitch dishcloth that I knit in my first knitting class
Alas, I don’t have a “Finished” photo – it is only half finished here….


Metal Mania

It has been so incredibly hot the last 3 days that I’ve found it impossible to do much more than lay in the path of a fan, blowing only slightly less hot air at me, trying not to think about how damn hot it is inside our house.  Work wasn’t any better.  With no A/C in either place, I was melting inside buildings that were at least 85 degrees inside at all times.  You know it’s bad when you wake up at 6:30 AM and even though practically every window in the house has been open all night, your thermostat still reads 78 degrees.  So there hasn’t been a whole lot of knitting going on the past few days.  A lot of sweating and bellyaching about the heat, but that’s about it.  My creative energy, what little there was in the first place, evaporated sometime yesterday when my little coastal town tied its highest ever recorded temp in history.  I won’t tell you what the temp was, as all you southerners and southwesterners will laugh in my face at our puny record, but suffice it to say it was damn freakin’ hot!

Anyhoo.  A couple weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to take a beginning jewelry class at a local studio.  Well, I figured it was about time I shared some pics of the projects I made in class.  So here we go – show and tell time!

The first class I took was a quickie 2 hour wire working class learning to make your own findings.  Embarrassingly, I was the only person there with little to no experience.  I mean, why take this class if you are already selling your jewelry?  We learned a ton of stuff and I ended up buying a book to practice some of the techniques at home.  I’d love to play around with making some stitch markers for etsy.  Here’s pics of two of the things we made in class: a copper wire S-type clasp for a bracelet or necklace, and a beaded ear wire from sterling silver.  I was amazed at how easy it actually was to make something that looks so cool.  All you really need is a few good tools and some imagination.



The second class I took, the 3-day Beginning Intensive Jewelry Making Class, really was intensive.  We learned how to use acetylene torches, anneal metal, solder, cut, form, hammer, texture, polish, rivet, and make eyelets, as well as a bunch of other stuff I already forgot.  See, the heat’s made my brain into pudding (Ewww, gross!  Brain pudding!)!  Anyway, I ended up making 2 pendants and a bracelet.  There was kind of a lot of downtime waiting in line to solder or cut metal pieces, but the instructor was great and since it was a small class, only 6 students, it didn’t take too long to get to use the equipment you needed.  We worked only in copper or brass, which wasn’t very inspirational for me as I don’t much love either kind of metal, but it was still fun. 

For my first pendant, I had to re-think my original design in order to be able to solder it properly, so it came out very little like what I had in mind.  But, as my instructor said, I let the metal “speak” to me and it did its own thing in the end.  It even came out upside down from what I had imagined as I soldered the bail (what it hangs from) onto the opposite end of where I’d meant to.  I could say the metal made me do it, but I’d be lying.  I’m just that dumb.



This required cutting the largest oval out with shears, then cutting the second oval’s inner oval with a jeweler’s saw, and then the outer oval.  A bunch of filing ensued (because I cut like a drunken bum with Parkinson’s).  I then had to cut out the copper piece, stamp the design, dome it, and solder both pieces to the back piece.  The silver balls were the most fun because they start as little flat pieces of silver which are then sprayed with flux and heated.  When they reach a high enough temperature, they magically roll up into these adorable silver balls.  I had to have some of those on my pieces!  Then I had to solder on the bail.  Believe it or not, most of the work comes after all that stuff is completed.  Polishing takes for-freaking-ever and I didn’t really enjoy it, but it makes your project so much more beautiful and refined looking than you’d ever imagine.  Not that this pendant is really that special, but you should have seen how ugly it was beforehand!  Too bad they don’t make that kind of polish for faces!  I could use it in the morning…..

I made this pendant super-quick while waiting to solder something.  1 brass disk stamped out, 1 copper disk stamped out, an “M” stamped on the copper disk, 2 holes drilled, a jump ring installed and voila!  These were difficult to polish, so they give you an idea of what the other pendant looked like beforehand….


My last project, and my most favoritest of all of them, was a copper bracelet.  This started out as a 6 1/2 inch strip of copper.  I cut a long oval into the center, shaped the ends with a file and coarse polisher, hammered the copper to give it some texture, then twisted it 360° in a vise, cut a 1/2″ off each side (because it stretched less than expected) and soldered on 3 silver balls on each side.  Then I polished the crap out of it.  Several of the other students twisted theirs into more fantastical shapes, but I wanted something simple and refined.  And you know what?  I’ve actually worn this bracelet, I like it that much.  Hurrah!  Here’s some different views….





Wow, I guess I was kind of wordy and picture-y today!  If you made it this far, thanks for sticking around and reading!  Hope you’re staying cool wherever you are and remember – Metal Rules!


Knitting Is Fun



Except when it’s not. 

It’s been one of those days today.  The kind where you wonder what the hell you liked about knitting in the first place.  You swatched.  All was cool.  You cast on.  After 11 rounds it looked ginormous.  Since you have a known tendency to knit too large, you rip.  Devo plays in your head.  You hum along.  O.k.  So you wasted a few hours up to this point.  You can still salvage some of your day.  You love knitting, right?  Peace, Grasshopper.  11 rounds ripped out.  You cast on again.  You knit the first round. It was a struggle with those stitches all stretched out around the cable, but you did it.  You start the next round…..  WTF!!!  For the first time ever in your knitting “career”, you have twisted your stitches when you joined for knitting in the round.  Remind me again why I love knitting? 


Malibu, Mosquitoes & Marine Monkeybusiness – Our Weekend in Pictures

40 years ago R. Darling’s dad (my FIL) and 4 friends started an annual “River Float” down the Wenatchee river in Washington State.  What started as 4 crazy young guys getting drunk and disorderly in the wilderness has morphed into a family tradition that’s managed to stand the test of time.  Don’t we have wholesome family values here out west?  As the best parties always do, it started small and before they realized it the party had reached epic proportions (something like 120 people this year) and it just keeps on growing.  My FIL made sure we had our very own souvenir of the 40th anniversary of marine inebriation…………

Front graphic of souvenir shirt

So here’s our 40th anniversary celebration in pictures for you to enjoy!  Grab a margarita, check out the photos, and you can pretend you were right there along with us!  The hangover and sunburn is optional……

Home sweet home on Friday night

It gets damn cold in the mountain wilderness at night!  I think hubby said it was 56 degrees this morning.

I’m not getting out of the tent until coffee is ready!

None of this “roughing it” crap! We camp in style! Mmmmm – do I smell coffee?

 After getting all our gear together and the site cleaned up, we met my FIL at a local diner for breakfast at 8 AM sharp.  There’s always a bunch of planning to do to make sure there’s vehicles at the end of the float to pick us up and then get us back to the campsite.  As it is, there are always a few stragglers who haven’t planned and need a ride back to camp at the end.  They’re usually so drunk and sunburnt they don’t really care, and there’s always room with someone.  We ended up with 2 in the cab and about 6 more in the bed of our truck this year.  Total strangers every one of them, but grateful for a ride.  Apparently we now have “brownie points” and “good karma” in the bank for a while.

So, after spraying every inch of my body with sunscreen and about 25 gallons of bug spray, which still didn’t prevent mosquitoes the size of baby pterodactyls from vampirizing my entire body (I have a welt the size of a golf ball on my arm this morning), we got ready to launch.

R. Darling and his dad checking the boats before we launch

Woo Hoo!! Let the public drunkenness and monkeybusiness begin!!

Demonstration of essential River Float preparedness – Malibu and pineapple juice

And they’re off!

Sometimes life is just so tough!

Relaxation personified……..

A quick break for everyone to catch up….

Almost to the end and no one’s barfed (that we know of!)

Happy 40th Annual River Float!  You’ve survived my monster photo essay post!  I’m off to apply some more of that anti-itch stuff on my ginormous mosquito bites.  Hope your weekend was just as fun as ours! 


Da Da Da! Sock It To Me Sock Swap Questionnaire

A picture of my current SIP (Sock In Progress)!

1.  What are your foot measurements? (Please give shoe size, length and circumference.)

I wear a size 8-8.5 shoe; my foot length is 9.5 inches, and my foot circumference is 9 inches.

2.  How long have you been knitting? How would you rate your experience? (Beginner,
      Intermediate or Advanced.)

I’ve been knitting since about February 2006. I still feel very much like a beginner, but I’ve done some semi-adventurous things for a beginner: cables, dpn’s, lace, socks (toe-up), and maybe a few other things I’m forgetting right now. So I guess I’d be Intermediate?

3.  What is your favorite color? Your least favorite color?

Pink! More Pink!  Did I mention I like Pink?  I also love chocolate brown and I adore pink and brown together as well as red and pink together.  Colors I don’t like: Anything “muddy” like olive green, mustard-y yellow, and maroons or burgundy.  Other than that, I’m pretty easy :) 

4.  Do you have a favorite fiber? What type?

Hmm.  Not really.  I do like wool and alpaca and I’m very intrigued by bamboo and soy, as well as those fibers blended with wool.

5.  Do you have any allergies to certain fibers?

Not that I know of, though I do find I’m extremely sensitive to 100% wool, in sweater form.  It’s fine for my feets though!

6.  Do you have an Amazon, or other type of, wishlist? (If so, provide the link.)

Yep!  Here’s the Amazon one…..   My Amazon.com Wish List   I also have one at Jimmy Bean’s Wool if you search with my e-mail address: knittymuggins(at)yahoo(dot)com .  But please don’t feel obligated to get anything from either one!

7.  What techniques, if any, would you like to learn?

I’ve experimented with Intarsia a little and would like to get better at that, also Stranded Colorwork like you would use to knit Fair-Isles.  I’d also like to try knitting with beads.  The finished product always looks so beautiful!  I’m still a bit of a knitiot though, so it may be a while…..

8.  Do you have a sweet tooth? What are your favorite snacks?

Oh man will my husband ever laugh when he sees this question!  I have a huge sweet tooth and he is always teasing me about it :)  I’m pretty easy to please – I like almost everything! Some of my favorites:  Sour Patch kids, Good and Plenty, Swedish fish, Jelly Bellies…..  pretty much anything chewy and anything sour too.  As far as chocolate, I love dark chocolate and I love caramel too.  Wow, I think I drooled a little on myself just talking about it!

9.  What is your family situation? (Children, Husband, Pets…etc.)

One perfectly wonderful husband, two poochies and no kids, in a cozy little house in the town that we call home.  Although just the other day I was commenting on how we’d been together almost 6 years total (almost 3 years married) and R. Darling (my husband) said, “Yeah, isn’t it about time we pounded out a munchkin?”  As you can see, he’s more than ready to add to our family :)

10.  Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Metal, plastic or wood?

I knit in the round if at all possible so I guess I’d say circulars, though I don’t mind knitting straight things on straight needles.  I rather prefer it actually.  I can’t stand metal needles and though I have a set of Denise Interchangeable needles in plastic, I’m not too fond of plastic either.  I have never tried any woods other than bamboo, but in my book bamboo makes pretty kick ass needles, so why bother?

11.   Besides socks, what are your favorite items to knit?

I really enjoy knitting things for other people actually.  I love to knit gifts for my friends and family and I also love to knit for charity.  My favorite one is Warm Woolies.  They collect knitted hats, mittens, vests and other items for children in orphanages in Russia and Mongolia as well as poor children on Native American Reservations in the U.S.. As far as types of items I like to knit besides socks, well, pretty much anything I can get my hands on!  There’s so many things to try and so little knitting time……

12.   Is there a pattern, (sock or otherwise), that you are dying to try?

Hmmmm.  Probably the only one I’m really dying to knit right now would be those super fab Monkey Socks from Knitty that everyone’s been knitting up lately.  Anything with the word “monkey” in it has to be pretty dope!

13.  Do you like to read? What are you reading currently?

I l-o-v-e to read, though it’s a bit difficult to choose between that and knitting!  Right now I’m reading “Autobiography of a Fat Bride” by Laurie Notaro.  I haven’t been a bride for a long time now, but she’s still highly entertaining!  Does anyone really have a life that’s that messed up?  Hard to believe.   I also love anything by Amy Tan and Alice Hoffman, and I read the first book in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and I cannot wait to have the time to read the rest.  Oh, and of course, I am simply beside myself with excitement, waiting for the 7th Harry Potter to arrive at my door (because I pre-ordered it on Amazon of course!).

 14.  Do you collect music? (On an iPod or MP3 player.)

I don’t really “collect” it per se, but I do have an ipod (I am obscenely spoiled by my husband!) and I’ve managed to get some of my collection onto it.

15.  What kind of music do you listen to?

Wow.  Umm….  I pretty much listen to anything.  There’s very little that I don’t like.  But my favorites right now are Gwen Stefani, Pink, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson and what we call “booty” music.  You know – anything that makes you want to do the rumpshaker :)  I’m sort of embarrassed that I like so many American Idol artists, but I guess I just have to be honest and fess up to it.

16.  Is there anything you collect?

Other than bad habits and hobbies?  I do have a “thing” for those smooshed pennies that you get at tourist traps, and I’m also a sucker for those old pennnies that have wheat ears and “one cent” written across the back.  Oh and a wee vintage button habit.  Other than that, not so much.  More room for yarn and fabric that way, you know? 

17.  What are your hobbies, aside from knitting?

I crochet a bit, have a mild interest in beading and wire work, reading, sewing, and kayaking with hubby.  But right now, knitting has kind of taken over as my main obsession.  Keeps me out of trouble I guess! 

18.  Are you participating in any other swaps or knit alongs?

Yep!  Have a look at the sidebar :)

19.  Do you have a favorite scent?

I adore coconut!  And pretty much anything that smells like food or fruit!  I’m not really big on floral smells though.

20.  When is your birthday? (You don’t have to add the year if you don’t want to, LOL.)

September 12th.  I’m going to leave out the year to maintain my mystery……  Of course anyone reading this will now instantly know that I’m old!

Hope that helps, Secret Pal!  Thanks for stopping by and feel free to ask me anything else you fancy to know that I might have left out!