Wednesday, January 24

Some Evening Sky

Tuesday's sky. Ain't it pretty? The most important thing is that this photo was taken Jan 23rd at 5:06 PM. And it wasn't pitch dark. w0O |-|o0! Good-bye dark winter.

I'm off to Madrona. Will not have internet access til Sunday, unless I beg some knitter for a little laptop fix while in Tacoma. Hope to see some of you at the Fiber Retreat.

To catch the bus to Tacoma, I will be leaving the house an hour before sunrise, half hour before Twilight starts. Oh well.


Dec 19th: <--- no wonder we have the winter blues
  • Twi: 7:17am
  • Sunrise: 7:53am
  • Sunset: 4:18pm
  • Twi: 4:54pm

Jan 25th: <----- days feel longer
  • Twi: 7:11am
  • Sunrise: 7:44am
  • Sunset: 4:57pm
  • Twi: 5:31pm

June 19th: <---- put that in your pipe and smoke it.
  • Twi: 4:30am
  • Sunrise: 5:10am
  • Sunset: 9:09pm
  • Twi: 9:50pm

Wednesday, January 17


Socks custom knit for me by me! I learned a lot knitting these. Mostly I learned that understanding socks doesn't have to be so hard, so why don't knit designers explain this better? Lots of folks talk about knitting socks to custom fit, but I haven't found a source that explains how.

Perhaps I just haven't found the right source. Sockknitters club,, random other internet places? Nothing that really explained to me how all the pieces interacted and how I can adjust to fit. Everyone just assumes some proportions are a given and don't suggest you could change them to fit your foot.

Yarn: my hand-dyed aurora 6 100% merino
Needles: Brittany US 3 DPNs

My details:

Cast on 64 stitches and work k2p2 rib for 42 rows = 5 inches.
Decrease to 54 stitches and work 18 rows (2 inches) in stockinette.
Examine the sock so far. Pooling? Striping? Choose a front and maneuver so that 24 stitches for the heel are on one needle, the 30 for the instep are evenly divided on two needles.

Yes! Use any number of stitches you want for the flap. Half is arbitrary. Does any sock designer tell you that? Not that I can tell. Neighbor Nancy gave me this suggestion. My ankles are kinda pointy and skinny in the back and this worked.

Choose a flap stitch. I have found three. All three have you slip the first stitch of each row.
  • Regular stockinette, slipping the first stitch every row
  • Slips on RS rows. With even number of stitches, (RS: *[Sl1 k1] WS: Sl1 p to end)
  • Slips every row. With even number of stitches, (RS: *[sl1 k1] WS: *[sl1 p1])
the second two flaps pull in narrower and are, of course, thicker. I chose the third one.

Choose how long to make the flap. Up to you. The number of rows will depend on which heel flap stitch pattern, how wide or narrow the flap and how tall the instep. I did 30 rows for 2 inches. That slip stitch really shrinks up the row gauge.

Choose a short-row method for turning the heel. This includes choosing how many stitches to leave in the center. Neighbor Nancy said traditionally there are 4. For different stitch gauges, wider or pointier heels, change this accordingly. (here's something that irked me about Vintage Socks. Nancy Bush describes six different heels, but all except one have the exact same heel flap. The differences are in the short row heel turning instructions. So much wasted space given to duplicating the heel flap instructions over and over again and so much wasted space on the vintage photos that don't demonstrate the short row differences.)

What I did:
RS row 1: k14 (ie, half the heel flap stitches plus 2), k2tog, k1 turn
WS row 2: sl1, p5 (ie, til one stitch before the gap), p2tog, p1 turn
continue appropriately til all stitches are worked.

On my second sock I did all the k2togs through the back loop. My p2togs were fine, except that last p2tog was done TBL to cinch it down.

Pick up gussets.

Here, those slipped stitches on the heel flap become the pick-up spots. So you wind up picking up half the number of rows of the heel flap, plus one or two at the ends to tighten it up and avoid holes. I picked up 17 stitches on each side. Some of them I was having a challenge picking up without leaving holes. In these spots I twisted the stitch.

Choose decrease rate. Another item that you get to decide. Fine yarn and high insteps? Decrease every third round (or fourth?). Since my row gauge on the stockinette was 9 stitches per inch (where something like Koigu can have 15 to 18 stitches per inch), I decreased every other round.

Choose when to stop decreasing. The patterns all say to decrease til you have the same number of stitches you started with at the ankle. Why? Is everyone's foot the same width as their ankle? What about differences in arches?

I have a highish arch so my foot circumference gets small, but the ball of my foot is wide. So, I did the gusset decreases til there were 50 stitches on the needles, then worked straight for 20 rows, then increased four stitches for the wider part of my foot.

This also had the effect of providing a stitch count divisible by 3. I knit the French toe from Vintage Socks, because this decreases fast and results in a wide toe, to fit my feet.

Voila! Finally, I understand how to make socks that fit.

Tuesday, January 16

Darling, you're stronger than me

Time for more weirdness, the second weird thing about me. I recently posted about how I am a better parallel parker than my husband, but while that is something that feeds my competitive streak, I don't find it all that weird. However there is something else I can do better that I do find weird. I cannot explain it.

What do all these items have in common?

They all have lids that can be a challenge to open. These sorts of lids can stump my husband, but I can open them all. Why? He is definitely stronger than me. He can do push-ups, move full sheets of plywood, lift a kayak onto the car roof in one motion, all things I cannot do easily. Yet when we have waffles, who has to open the syrup? Me.

It's not just him either. A typical situation. He tries to open a lid somewhere with other people present. He fails, so he looks around for me. Another guy intercepts and says he'll do it. (thinking, of course, what a wimp) Franz lets him. He fails. Franz then passes it off to me. I succeed. (who's the wimp?)

Fortunately for our relationship, Franz is a good sport about it --- he really likes maple syrup.

(and yes, I've been listening to Patsy on my iPod. How did you guess?)

Saturday, January 13

a sky on a saturday post

Photo taken on Wednesday.

Friday, January 12

noodly oodly oodles

Noodles for dinner can be a messy proposition.

Or not. For this tasty treat we owe thanks to Mr. Momofuku Ando who recently died at age 96.

A homage.

Thursday, January 11

Small Town Seattle

Imagine that you and a pal go to the downtown Goodwill Outlet where everything is $1.29 a pound. You sift through the bins, looking for wool sweaters to felt. Maybe you make an unexpected score and find those foam letter puzzle pieces you've seen others use for blocking lace. Have to dig through three bins of toys to collect them. Your eagle-eyed friend helps and between the two, you collect all but the outside of the Q. Who needs a Q? Now you can knit that shawl you've been thinking of. Maybe you can even convince your friend to try some lace knitting.

And the sweaters. Several 100% cashmere. Think of the goats who suffered on the steppes of Mongolia just so folks could wear and toss a sweater so easily. How many of these were gifts or shopping as entertainment? Well, that's another rant for another day. They don't felt, some have little holes, but there's plenty of luxury to line hats, back pillows, edge a throw. An Alpaca pullover to experiment with also. It's itchy. Who knew? And a pile of wool to felt.

And your pal and you each find some wearable clothing. Unexpected pleasure. She gets an argyle V neck in just her colors. You find some silk tee shirts. One has a ripped seam but the other is in perfect condition. Just the thing to wear under a sweater. They even still have drycleaning tags.

You wash them anyway, because, well, you know. In your front loader, delicate cycle, cold water with your own wool sweaters. Taking advantage of the fact things don't felt well in a front-loader, you've figured out it is as safe as handwashing and a lot less hassle.

So the silk tees are clean and dry and then you remember to remove the safety pins from the cleaners. Oops. Then it occurs to you. Took a while, because you don't use the drycleaner very often. Don't they put a customer's name on those tags? What's the chance you recognize the name?

You recognize. Most definitely. Someone you have dealt with. Professionally. So has your husband. And you both found him obnoxious socially and professionally clueless. Can you wear his wife's shirts?

Monday, January 8

Stopping the running

Well, it seems that I finally got my Red Scarf Project submission to stop running. How? Three separate soakings in Synthrapol with rinsing and drying inbetween. Then an overnight soak in Synthrapol and vinegar. Yet each rinse water just turned red, red, red. After allowing it to dry I tried a new tactic. I got out my dye pot to cook it. Then things got weird. I filled the pot with lukewarm water and a good glug of vinegar then immersed the scarf. And the water stayed clear! Perfectly Clear! Suspicious, I heated it up anyway, brought it to a simmer and it still didn't run. After it cooled back down, I had to remove the strong vinegar odor, so I emptied the water, refilled with fresh water and a squirt of lavendar eucalan. Added the scarf and goddamn it the water immediately turned pink! I put it back on the heat, brought to a simmer, left it simmering for an hour and the water was still pink. But from my dye experiences, I know that sometimes the dye only fully sets during the cooling phase. Sure enough, when the water had cooled it was clear.

The scarf is still beautiful, the yarn held up well with all the washing and cooking. But it is not the scarf I made. The photo below shows the scarf with a swatch that has not been washed. For another comparison, check out this entry in Norma's photo gallery. The third scarf is also a Mountain Colors in Ruby River. Different yarn composition (she used 4/8 wool and I used Twizzle, a merino silk blend) so there is some inherent difference in the colors, but still. sigh.

Sunday, January 7

Tales from the City

I can parallel park better than my husband. I considered this for the list of weird things about me, but it really isn't that odd. I grew up in DC, started driving at 16 and hung out in trendy Georgetown. I got good at parking. Preferably with the zippy compact VW Rabbit, but sometimes I got stuck with the VW Bus. I got way beyond simple rules such as "when the steering wheels are aligned start the turn..." because hello! cars vary and the steering wheels are in different locations relative to the length of the vehicles. Can I articulate what I do? Nope. Could I guide someone while I was seated in the passenger seat? I've tried, but is it my fault they won't listen? No. My husband, on the other hand, learned to drive while living in the burbs around L.A. Land of driveways and parking lots.

Neither of us owned a car when we started dating, but once he borrowed a car to take me out. Someplace with limited on-street parking. So after driving around a bit with me saying "there's one," and him saying "that's not big enough," I timidly suggested I might try one of these too small spots. He was impressed. Good thing he's not too macho to admit it. He tries, but he still is trapped in the simplified rules and just doesn't understand how when he follows those rules and lines up the bumpers or steering wheels just so, the car refuses to go where it should. Instead of arguing over how the rules don't apply, if a trip will require parking skill, I drive. My high school and college find-a-spot-weekly-to-have-fun years turned into the Chicago find-a-spot-daily-so-I-can-get-home years. Therefore while I still have the magic touch, I've used up my quota of tolerance for the hunt. More than five minutes driving around to find a spot and I'm a complete grouch.

Franz saw that author Jennifer Ouellette was speaking at Elliot Bay Bookstore last night. Zach had gotten Black Bodies and Quantum Cats for his birthday and just finished reading it. He thought it was pretty good. She's on tour for her new book: The Physics of the Buffyverse. I was a bit reluctant to go, partly because of the weather and partly because of the hassle of either driving or taking the bus to Pioneer Square. If I gave in to my initial reluctance to go places I'd never leave the house, so I dismissed my desire to get a headstart on Sunday's International Pajama Day and agreed to go. Car or bus? Well, in order to have time for dinner, it just seemed less hassle to drive. So we did. Parking was involved; I drove. That means I got to choose the route which means getting on I5 at NE 50th where we merge onto the freeway from the right instead of Franz's (admittedly more logical) preference of 520 with the left entrance ramp onto I5.

Should have realised that things were not going our way when the NE 50th leg took forever and then was closed before the I5 exit for an accident investigation. Then NE 45th was a mess, but I figured that was just because of the closure of Ne 50th. I5 wasn't too bad, but when we got off the freeway and entered Pioneer Square the sign on the Sinking Ship garage read Event Parking $30. "Holy crap!" I said. "What's going on. The only thing that would warrant that would be the Seahawks." Franz said "Um, yeah, Seahawks. Didn't think of that. I think they are playing Dallas. Don't know if it's in town or not." Well, I think he had the answer right there. At this point you can pity my family, but I asserted my authority as driver and declared that I was not going to stress out over a futile parking spot hunt. I headed north on First Avenue and said if a spot appears I'll take it but otherwise we are heading home. Way up on Union there was an open garage with the sign Weekends and Evenings $4.00. Turned into it and was told they close in 10 minutes. Then why don't they take down the damn sign already. In the space of time it took me to turn around and exit, at least 6 other cars pulled in. So, no author lecture for us.

Coming back home via Montlake the U District congestion was explained as we intersected traffic leaving the UW Husky basketball game. Took a while before we got through, but at least it wasn't Husky Football where the cops would have diverted us a good mile north out of our way.

Saturday, January 6

Weird thing number One

Yup, it's a virus going around. Devote a blog post to six weird things about oneself that haven't already been exposed to the blogworld. Some folks try to infect others by telling them to do the same. I have not gotten "tagged" as this deliberate infection process is called. I'm not sure if I would be participating in that case. Maybe I am too ornery or maybe I just think it looks cool to appear ornery. To be a little different, I'll draw things out a bit --- only one weird thing today:

I have a knack for remembering dates, especially birthdays. I could tell you the birthday of maybe 90% of all the people of whom I have ever heard their birthday. The 10% I forget? I have no idea why. And given a specific month, I could recall quite a few folks who were born in that month, but I might have forgotten details about them. Such as that Feb 12th is the birthday of this guy that I worked with one summer and briefly dated. During that summer. So we did not celebrate his birthday. His name? Who knows. OK, I did remember but it took some work to dig out of my memory. But just by thinking of February his birthday popped into my head without effort. Why was this so easy to retrieve from memory? Because it's also Abe Lincoln's birthday? Possibly. But he was no Abe Lincoln.

Sometimes I remember the month but not the specific day. Such as my ex-best friend from the high school years* who stole my boyfriend. Yup, even though we had already broken up she definitely stole him. The fact that she didn't get to keep him is one of the schadenfreude highlights of my life. I know she was born in the early part of August. I want to say it was August 8th, but that may be just because it's the day Nixon resigned.

I wouldn't have thought that this skill was that weird, but time and again I startle folks with it. If I know your birthday? Do not expect me to remember to send you a card or anything. Sorry. I am terrible about that.

*Kathleen, she didn't go to school with us. You wouldn't know her.

Thursday, January 4


Yikes, perhaps the Orphans ought to have chosen a different color. I remember yet again why I will not buy red socks. Does anything red not run? I reknit the last triangle of my Red Scarf Project scarf using the technique that Erika found. It looks lots better than before. I soaked it again. This is the rinse water of the seventeenth rinse of the third soaking in Synthrapol. Yee gads, can I really send this scarf along? One rainstorm and that kid's jacket will be stained. Can I specify to send this to a kid who lives in the desert or to someone who wears a red or black coat? How are the other red scarves running?

Wednesday, January 3

We didn't discuss the book

To be fair, I knew we weren't going to discuss the book. I don't know why I whined about it. I knew last night would be different.

Instead, we talked about Jo. Not a famous literary Jo, the book group Jo who would have turned 69 last week. She died of cancer two weeks ago. Most of us didn't know Jo that well. I liked Jo; she had a good sense of humor. She could always cajole us into enjoying a look at even more pictures of her grandkids. She helped found the book group 7 or 8 years ago and talked two of her close friends into joining. But she was a generation apart and lived across the lake; our paths didn't cross much.

For her long-time friend K --- a different story. K was with Jo last Spring when she confronted the doctor with the tough question "How much time to I have?" And heard the answer, "Six months." K saw Jo almost every day after that. So K came last night and cryed and shared and laughed and we talked about Jo and about life and death.

Book-related moment: Of the seven members attending, only two of us had read the whole book recently enough to remember it. As K talked I was struck by how much this month's book selection was appropriate. I encouraged K and the rest to read the book and suggested we discuss it next month. Hitty: Her First Hundred Years is a children's book, the Newbery Award winner for 1930. It's the first-person memoir of a doll who is, unsurprisingly, over a century old. She speaks of her adventures, her various owners, the passage of time, of fate, of loss, of acceptance, of simply being. I think it would honor Jo to read it with her memory in mind.

When I mentioned this, the other woman who'd read the book asked "What book did you read? I just read a story about a doll!" (sigh)

Tuesday, January 2


A year ago I was in two book discussion groups. Then I dropped both. One inadvertently (kept forgetting to go) and the other one after careful consideration. There's a painful story involved, but it's not my story, so not my pain to share.

In both cases, I have run into members around town and have been pleaded with to rejoin. Why? Because I'm the only one who regularly read the book and had anything of depth to say about it. They exaggerated, but not by much.

I've missed them. I'm probably forgetting how much the lack of discussion would irk me.

Tonight I will try again. Tonight I will attend the meeting of the inadvertently dropped group. We read Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field. Fascinating. Discussable (is that a word?).

The other group? No, I can't go back.


I finished my Red Scarf Project scarf. Well, maybe. I used the multi-directional scarf pattern and was very happy with it except for the ending decrease triangle. That's why I haven't woven in the yarn end yet. Blocking helped a lot, but as you can see, it still is askew.

I see three options:
  • leave it as is. Franz and Zach think it looks fine.
  • rip the triangle and reknit, finding some other decrease scenario that looks better.
  • rip the triangle. Knit a new triangle like the beginning one and graft. Kitchenering garter?
What do you think.

Yarn is Mountain Colors Twizzle, a wonderful merino-silk blend. Color is Ruby River --- much nicer than the photo shows (Seattle won't get natural light til sometime in March). It Ran Like Crazy when I blocked it. I soaked it in Synthrapol and will do so again before mailing it.

Monday, January 1

santa gave me a chimney

a neighbor is replacing his small house with a big one. he and the demolition guys were happy to accomodate my request for these bricks. about four hundred bricks, about twenty five trips with the wheelbarrow. ouch. Dan, Nancy and Franz all helped (thanks!). got ideas, edging garden or finishing pathways. will come up with something.