Tuesday, August 30, 2011


It's been a busy couple weeks. That would be why I have somewhat neglected the blog.

Last week, Joel was in Canada with Skatechurch on the annual trip that is the reward for the kids that have faithfully come to the Bible Studies. While he was gone, I took the opportunity to do a hard core Fall Cleaning of the house. I literally moved everything out of a room, wiped down all the walls, cleaned the carpets/floors, and then cleaned everything as I moved it back in. All 11 rooms in our house.
I thought it was a small house.
I was wrong.
While I was at it, I used the opportunity to get rid of a few things here and there to try to cut down on the clutter. It was good. We have a clean house- well re-arranged so that it feels a bit like we've moved even though we haven't. I'm hoping that besides cutting down on the chances of getting mold and getting rid of a lot of allergens, just maybe it also means we'll live here for a few more years. It's pretty nice to stay in one place for longer then 3 to 6 months. I've been enjoying it.

Naturally, all that work meant less time to knit. I think I got in barely 2 hrs of knitting the whole week. I tried to make up for it last Saturday and yesterday, but I'm still behind where I want to be in my designs. I have about 3 inches left of this project, then I have 2 that need to be planned, graded, and knit before November. Which seems like it shouldn't be a problem except that next week, I start teaching knitting classes (yay!) and the week after that, we start school. Talk about cutting into the knitting time!

It'll be good, though. I'm looking forward to school this year. It'll be quite a challenge working it out with a busy 2yrold running around, but that's ok. The kids are ready for the structure of school again, and I think it will be fun.

In the midst of all the cleaning last week, there were several Doctor visits for Bear and I. We discovered that for some unknown reason, Bear's eardrums are not working correctly (it's not fluid buildup, we checked already, and dealt with that). So we'll be starting a long road of tests and more doctor visits. All prayer for his healing is much appreciated.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Flibbertigibbits

According to Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, Flibbertigibbits is: a silly flighty person. I feel a bit flighty, but not very silly. I have full intentions of flitting all over various topics in this post, though, so it fits a little. Mostly I just like how it sounds. Say it out loud. Isn't it a fun word?

Today, my daughter finished her first knitted object.
I honestly have no idea what it is.

But she did it all (except the cast on) by herself, and I am proud of her. It took her 5 days. She's gonna be a speed knitter, I know it. :D

It's getting to the end of summer. Fall is coming, school is starting, and harvest is in full swing or almost done.
Doesn't it just make you want to knit? With some of the fantastic colors you see out there in your garden?? Well, if that's the case (and I know it is), you need to check out this sock yarn club. Karen B colors yarn in the most delicious ways....

Speaking of gardens...

Do you feel better inside when you help things grow? Does getting your hands into the soil help you feel connected to something bigger than yourself? Is your spirit fed by growing things?

Anamchara Books and Grow It! Know It!™ invite you to share the ways gardening and farming—even simply growing a geranium in a window pot—have helped nourish your spirit and feel connected to something bigger than yourself. Send us your poetry, essays of 500 to 3,000 words, photographs, or artwork to tell others what gardening—large or small—means to you. (If you’re sending images, be sure they’re high resolution—at least 300 dpi at full print size, which will be about 7 inches by 7 inches.) Selected material will appear in the book Growing a Bountiful Spirit. Those whose entries are selected for publication will receive a complimentary copy of Growing a Bountiful Spirit and be able to order additional copies at 50 percent off the retail price.

For information or to make a submission, e-mail editor@growit-knowit.com.

I confess I'm not much of a gardener. I have my little herb pot, but my allergies make it just about impossible to get out and really get my hands dirty. That's ok. My kids are just about at the age that they can do it! Next summer, they will be learning about the joys of watching something they've planted turn into something edible and beautiful. I'm looking forward to it.

In the meantime, I'm knitting. Oh, and getting ready for school. The kids are about ready. I just have to catch up. :)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Compare and Contrast

I've worked with several different kinds of knitting needles over my short knitting career, and at Sock Summit, I was blessed with the opportunity to get a new kind of knitting needle. One considered to be the best of the best.

In talking with a dear friend of mine (a knitter, fortunately, so she didn't think I was crazy) yesterday, we got to talking about the advantages and disadvantages of different needles. I have discovered that I am very opinionated about my knitting needles.

When I first started knitting, I didn't know anything. I just went for cheap(there's a big story there, but we'll save that one for another time) and available. Well, at my local big store, that was Boye. After knitting with Boye straights for awhile, I began to switch to Clover bamboo. This happened at first only because the local store didn't have the Boye in the size I needed. But after the first one, I started switching all my needles to Clover, because I discovered that they didn't hurt my hands as badly as the metal Boye's. I have sensitive hands. Also, I didn't get so frustrated at the stitches slipping off the needles. I loved the softness, warmth, and stickiness of the bamboo/wooden needles. (I got a pair of US 4 Birch dpns somewhere in there too, but they kept snapping. I am hard on needles when I cable.)
The differences in the Boye and Clover were big for me at the time. The difference in the slip of the yarn on the needle was immense. I needed the yarn to stick a bit. I didn't know enough to care about the tips. Neither needle was particularly sharp, in my opinion. The Clover especially has a blunt tip. I have also discovered that I am very very hard on the tips of my needles. The Clover tips would eventually become spade-shaped. I never used Boye circulars, but I was always frustrated at the Clover circulars, because if it was longer than a 16" circular, the cable was twisted and very hard to work with no matter how much I soaked it in hot water.

When I discovered KnitPicks Harmony, I immediately set about replacing all my needles with them. I loved that they are soft, warm wood. I loved that the wood is slicker than the bamboo, because I was ready for just a bit more slipperiness. I loved that the cables are wonderfully flexible. But the longer I've worked with them....I hate that the cables pull out of the needles so easily. I hate that the tips start getting snaggy as soon as I start working cable stitches. I hate that the small sizes snap if I try to work a p3tog more than once in a row.

Quite honestly, the Harmony needles worked very well for me for a long time. But then I learned to knit differently. My old throwing method, holding the yarn between my thumb and forefinger was thrown out the window. I learned Lever knitting from the YarnHarlot, and it changed so very much about my knitting- and the needles that work best for me. The Harmony stopped being as effective. They were no longer slick enough. They snagged and dented and snapped too easily. I had to move back to metal needles.

I got some Addi Lace. I switch needles by getting what I need for the project I'm working on. At the time, I needed US 0's because I snapped my Harmony's. I like the Addi Lace. I like how sharp the tip is. I like how smooth the needles are, and how well the stitches move on them.
But I have a couple issues with them.
See the cable in the picture to the left? It's got kinks. That's from transferring stitches from one side to another in Magic Loop.
Also, the needles are hollow. Not a big deal, right? I'm hard on my needles. My 0's bent. I can bend them back, but still. Sometimes the bend gets pretty bad; and the longer that keeps up, pretty soon, it'll break too. I think the 1's will probably bend too. And maybe the 2's. So I haven't bought those sizes in Addi Lace. I probably won't. I will eventually replace my 0's. But I do like the Addi Lace in the larger sizes.
It's hard to see in this picture, but there are actually 2 different cables on the Addi Lace needles. I'm not sure why the different circulars come with different cables, if it's an old/new thing or a size thing or what; but I have a definite preference of cable. The blue cable is by far the most flexible, with the least amount of memory. The gold cable is flexible, but kinks easily. The red cable is alright, just a tad stiff; it might soften if I soaked it, but it hasn't been bad enough for me to feel the need for that yet. You can test flexibility and memory by pulling the needles out of the package and seeing how straight they fall when you just hold one needle.

Theses needles by far fall the straightest. There is no memory in this cable after being coiled in a package for a long time. These are ChiaoGoo.

I bought a few of these at Sock Summit because I've been hearing good things about them. I'm 3/4 of the way done with a sock using them, and I have been favorably impressed.
The needles seem strong- minimal bending on the 2.5mm even with hard cable work. The tips are nice and sharp- but the are shallowly beveled(short tips), which makes cabling without a cable needle a bit more difficult and time-consuming. It's not drastic, but I notice it.

The best part about these needles is definitely the cable. I really really like it. I do think it has the ability to kink if I'm not careful, but it won't kink as readily as the gold cable on the Addi Lace.
Look at this. The cable is flexible, and has no memory, but it's just a wee bit stiff. The stiffness is what keeps it from having memory. I have heard a complaint that the stiffness causes ladders when Magic Looping, but I'm not having that problem personally. And I have to say, I absolutely love the way the stitches slide on the cable. Because it is slightly stiff, and quite smooth, the stitches glide beautifully and don't need any extra manipulation to get them around. The extra manipulation has to happen on the needle, just past the join of the cable. There's a bit of a ridge there. On the small sizes- sock needles- it's minimal, and not enough to bother me to badly. But I won't buy this needle in the larger sizes no matter how much I love the cable, because the ridge is so defined that I think it would aggravate me.

I've been moving up the scale of knitting needle quality in my knitting career, I think. You get what you pay for, and needles are no exception. (That said, I really have to point out here, that the Chiaogoo cost less than the Addi Lace, but I think I am more impressed with them. At least so far. We'll see how they stand up to 2yrs of cable work and p3tog.) At Sock Summit this year, I received the ultimate in needles.
Thank you Signature Needle Arts, for sponsoring the teachers!
I was especially excited about this, because I had been saving up to purchase at least one pair, as I have heard SO much about them! The hype is not exaggerated, folks. Yes, they are expensive. But they are tools of the trade. How much does your husband spend for a good table saw? Way more than the cost of these needles- which will probably last longer than the table saw, by the way.

Anyway, I got the circulars. 6" needle length, 47" cable length. US 3's and US 5's. The stiletto tip is what you get on the circulars, which I am thrilled with. I love this tip. I can't tell you how much I love it. It is so perfect for cabling without a cable needle. P3tog's or k3togtbl? Not an issue. Love, love, love.

The cable? No memory, utterly flexible. The most flexible cable I've ever seen or used. Very impressive.

The join? Smooth, seamless, struggle-less. And, pivotal. Literally. The cable is not fixed in the needle. It swivels. No more untwisting the cable by spinning the needle in the stitches. The cable doesn't need untwisting.

I have to be honest in my review, though. I do have one problem with these needles. (no, not the price, although it does limit how many I will purchase at a time. )

My issue with these needles is the cable.
It is sticky.

I know, I just told you how amazing the cable is. It is amazing. It's great.

It's just sticky. I have to manipulate the stitches around the cable. I know, I have to do that on just about any cable needle. But on this one, I actually have to set the needles down, and work the stitches around the cable in order to continue working them. It slows me down. It's annoying. It is not annoying enough for me to stop using these needles. I love them, but it is a hang-up I have with them.

Please note, this would only be an issue with the circulars. I personally prefer circulars. It's all I normally use. But if you like straights or dpns, there is no sticky cable, and I have to say, the needle quality is unsurpassed. Utterly worth the money. (The circulars really are too- I fully intend to save up and get the US 4's when next I need the 4's- I just have to tell you what I've discovered in my "research". ;D)

The end of all this? For me, I'm ok with the Addi Lace. I won't replace the larger sized ones I have now unless they break in some way. I will replace the sock needles. I don't like dealing with the bending and the kinks in the cables.
I'm fully pleased with the Chiaogoo. I won't replace them unless they somehow break. I will use them to replace the Addi lace sock sizes. I won't buy them in larger sizes.
The Signatures? Too good not to use. I'll purchase them in any sizes I don't currently have needles that I'm happy with. I'll use them to replace any broken needles - if the size is available. Definitely my go-to needle of choice. I do hope they can fix the stickiness of the cable, though. But if they don't, I'll still buy them.

What needle is your fave?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sock Summit 2011

I should have posted about Sock Summit earlier, but I was so excited about the 2nd LotR booklet being released, I had to blog that first- and I've been recovering from all the excitement as well.

I wish I was better about taking pictures. I'm so bad about remembering my camera, and that I'll want to look back and remember all the awesome people and yarny goodness.... I had my camera the whole time. I got few photos. I think I was just so busy soaking it in I didn't have time to think about pictures.

Anyway, I'll try to do a bit of a recap of last weekend.

Wednesday evening I attended the Teachers' Dinner, where we all were thoroughly spoiled by the awesome Summit Teams (ST's). We mingled, we ate, and I at least, was inspired by the incredible amount of talent assembled in the room. It was an honor to be included as a teacher along with such as Anna Zilbourg, Amy Singer, Fiona Ellis, Cat Bordhi, and the 55 other amazing teachers. I just sat there, knit, and soaked up as much knowledge as I possibly could.

Thursday, I had the pleasure of auditing Cookie A's class on Advanced Top-Down Sock Design. It was great. Cookie is an excellent teacher, and I am very thankful for the opportunity to learn from her.
As it was a 6hr class, it kept me busy all day. I did get a break at lunch to meet my Plurk bud KarenB who was a vendor (her yarns are fantabulous, you should check them out- just sayin').
After class, the marketplace opened for students, and I promptly went and spent all my money. It didn't take very long.This is a shot of the majority of the great and useful souvenirs I walked away with. Note that on top of the basket is 2 pair of Signature circular needles. I'll be doing a review on those in the near future.
The green bag I talked about in a previous post. It is the Rio from Jordana Paige. Love it.
This is a Buffy Ann Stitchlight. I'll be reviewing it as well. Thanks to Buffy Ann for her support of the teachers. :)
A couple books and a pattern that followed me home. DH said I could keep them. They would have been lonely in the cold.

Friday morning, I took the class Morphing Cables from Fiona Ellis. Fiona is one of my design heroes, so it was pretty awesome to get to learn from her for 3 hrs.
I had my little fangirl moment when Fiona came into the classroom, saw my back, and said, "I know you!"
[side note: About 3 years ago, Fiona did a lecture at Twisted, which I attended. I was pretty excited, because at the time, I was knitting her Celtic Icon design from Inspired Cable Knits. I got to talk to her about it afterward, and she recognized it when I wore it to her class last Friday. I honestly didn't expect her to remember, but a designer knows her designs. And I did knit it in a distinctive color. :D )
Most wonderful time.

Friday afternoon, I got to teach my 3 hr class. I hate that I get so nervous and my voice shakes for the first 5 minutes, but once I start showing people how to do different knitting techniques, all the nerves go out the window. Knitting is so comfortable.
I was going to go to a party Friday night, but my daughter started running a temperature Thursday, and when it wasn't better by Friday evening, I went home. She had the fever from Thursday morning until Sunday night. What a coincidence. I'm just glad she woke up on Monday feeling great. It was a bit stressful not to be there when she was so sick, but hooray for my mom! :D It would have been a whole lot more stressful without her there to take care of my babies.

Saturday, I taught all day. A three hr class in the morning, and 3 1 hr classes in the afternoon. What a blast. I think at least one person in each class left feeling that they had gotten their money's worth. I had such a high by the end of the day. I love inspiring people and giving them tools to enhance creativity. It was amazing.
And then! the day was topped off with the most amazing Sock Summit Flash Mob. You have to go here to see it- my video was not so great, and for some reason, it wouldn't upload. But it happened, and if you come to my house, I can show you video footage of Fiona Ellis dancing in a flash mob.
What a great way to end the day!!! I went home and crashed after that.

Sunday, I came back to take a one-hr class from Kat Wilson. It was very informative. She is very knowledgeable, and I am thankful I was able to attend.
I had to bring Roo with me on Sunday.
He refused to let me out the door without him. He had had enough of me being gone. It wasn't a problem, and I was happy to get to spend some time with him after such a busy week.
It was pretty cool, really, because the first Sock Summit, I was 7 months pregnant with Roo; so I got to take him around and introduce him to the people that had known of him without knowing him before if you know what I mean. :) And that time, I DID remember my camera. :)

Then we walked around the marketplace some more, said goodbye to some of the wonderful people I had the opportunity to meet- such as Sharon of Three Irish Girls, who also has amazingly yummy yarns, and Shannon Okey of Cooperative Press, who is publishing a Men's Sock book with The Unique Sheep with one of my patterns in it. :) The book debuted at Sock Summit, and will be available soon. :)
Then I had to pry Roo away from the amazingly fun Sockgate that Tina surprised Stephanie with, and we came home to rest and recuperate. I'm not sure I'm fully rested from all the fun yet, but I am recovered enough to start planning and saving for the next one (if there is one, which I hope there is cause I loved it both times and I would be utterly sad if that was it.).

It was an amazing time. Thank you Stephanie, Tina, Rachel, Stephen, Natalie, Deb, and all the other wonderful ST's who worked so hard to put on such an awesome party!!!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Another LotR booklet!

The first year of the Lord of the Rings inspired socks was published in booklet form last year. This year, the remainder of the patterns from the sock clubs is available in booklet form; with two new patterns that have not yet been released anywhere else!
The booklet is available for pre-order on The Unique Sheep's website.

And I have the pleasure of introducing you to


“Very fair was her face, and her long hair was like a river of gold. Slender and tall she was in her white robe girt with silver; but strong she seemed and stern as steel, a daughter of kings. Thus Aragorn for the first time in the full light of day beheld Eowyn, Lady of Rohan, and thought her fair, fair and cold, like a morning of pale spring that is not yet come to womanhood.

“…..’What do you fear, lady?’ he asked.

“’A cage,’ she said. ‘To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.’

“…..Faramir said: ‘….For you are a lady high and valiant and have yourself won renown that shall not be forgotten; and you are a lady beautiful, I deem, beyond even the words of the Elven-tongue to tell….’

“’…I will be a shieldmaiden no longer, nor vie with the great Riders, nor take joy only in the songs of slaying. I will be a healer, and love all things that grow and are not barren.’”

The Lord of the Rings- JRR Tolkien

When I think of Eowyn, I think of red and gold. I love the way The Unique Sheep has portrayed the colors in this colorway. The gradiance goes from a light gold down to a deep red. The yarn is Pashmi and is a dream to work with.

I'd also like you to meet


The brave Captain of Gondor who was of the highest quality (as proclaimed by Samwise the gardener) was a “grave young man”. He did not desire to be a warrior, but because it was necessary, he did it well. He was rewarded for his whole-hearted service by being made the Prince of Ithilien and receiving the hand of Eowyn, Lady of Rohan, in marriage.

The pattern is doubled on the top of the foot and splits at the ankle to wrap around the leg and meet again at the back.

I have had so much fun designing from The Lord of the Rings. I hope you enjoy knitting the patterns.

Which is your favorite?? (find them all on my Ravelry page)