April 28, 2006

Sock credit

Yeah, I was nerdy like this is school, too. I didn't cheat, only took credit for what I did well, and went for the extra credit. So I have no one to blame, but myself for this.

The Purling P's gave me a sock credit that, although the pair has been done for a few weeks now, I hadn't posted pictures of yet. So this morning I jumped on the ball and got a couple of pix.

This is my third pair of socks for 200Sox: my Pink Lemonade Socks. The clever, fair isle-look is all part of the yarns self-patterning, and I find it fun and attractive.

Here's the stats:

  • Yarn: Lang Bebe color #65; bright pink, yellow, and jacquard which makes a great faux fair isle pattern
  • Pattern: modified cuff-down, short-row heel, stockinette sock
  • Needles: 2.5mm (US#1) Addi Turbo 40" circular needle
  • Notes: I have fairly thick calves and I loved how this yarn patterns up. Since I didn't want to lose that when the sock is stretched out, I decided to make the leg much looser than normal. I started with 100 sts for the ribbing. Then I worked down to 60 sts by decreasing 4 sts every 4th row 10 times. The rest was worked in the normal fashion. The short-row heel is the Queen Kahuna method, which is easy to do, remember, and doesn't leave holes.

Phew - now I feel better. Now can someone give me a hall pass?

Posted by Nanc at 09:32 AM | Comments (4)

April 27, 2006

A good day to dye

It was one of those mixed up days, where the sun didn't know what was going on. It was sunny enough to make you squint, but not enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. I wanted an omelet, but it just wasn't in the cards.

The cards and the omelet had to wait, since the dame and I were on a mission. It was the kind of job that I would still be telling yarns about years later.

She called me up and let me know that the goods were at her place. She had the goods, but the goods weren't good enough, eh. So it was our plan to make those goods better. At least, that's how it started off.

On my way over, I thought about the situation. We were going to make that yarn pay by making it swim with the fat man - The Kool-Aid Man.

There were some roadblocks in our way. First, baby-face, a.k.a. Anthony "the Squid". His modus operandi was usually involved a fair amount of squealing. I didn't know why they called him "The Squid" and I didn't want to find out.

I brought my tools with me. I always bring my own tools. It's not that I don't trust the dame, I just don't trust nobody, see? Plus, all the bums down at the dock call her the Purling Pirate. You don't get a nickname like that without hauling a keel or two.

It started out well enough, but I could definitely tell that the dye was cast. Nothing made me suspicious of the goods; the fat man's packets weren't tampered with and the yarn... well, the yarn seemed to be a fine gauge. But that first skein was a wooly sap and wanted to tangle with me and the dame.

Hank didn't want to go quietly. He tussled and caused a ruckus. I knocked him around the chairs a couple of times.

Hank still wouldn't see it our way and nearly got felted, so we left him tied up and focused on the other three ball heads. They saw what happened to Hank and played nice.

The dame and I swiftly had those other skeins tied up, we let them stew in their juices for a while.

While they soaked, we took to the drink. The artificially-flavored, powdered drink concentrate, that is. It seems that those Hanks got mixed up in some of the Kool-Aid Man's business. And everyone knows that if you mess with the Big Man, that there's a stain that don't come out.

Kool-Aid put the hurt -and the heat on the skeins. I tell you, they were simmering. The Kool-Aid Man kept his cool and never let things come to a boil.

He's not all sweet like a lot of folks think he is. When he doesn't have the sugar lady on his arm, he's a different man. He was mixed up with a bit of vinegar and wanted to show those skeins his true colors.

The Big Guy kept the heat on until they were exhausted, and then they saw things his way. He let 'em cool off, put 'em in the soak once more, and then hung 'em out to dry. He had gotten all he wanted from these guys, and they had the marks to prove it.

Once the Kool-Aid Man was done with the first three, he came back to the one that fought back. It was an ugly battle. Even Anthony "The Squid" had to have a lay-down. This Hank wasn't giving an inch.

Finally, we were able to bind him good an' tight, and Hank had all the fight taken out of him. We couldn't let him pull the wool over our eyes. The Kool-Aid Man gave 'em a cherry bath, and Hank came out smellin' like... well, cherries.

In the end, Hank and the other skeins were reformed, and not even their mother would recognize 'em now. Now if only there was a decent omelet joint open at this time of night...

Me and the dame came out of it fine. Sure, no amount of scrubbing could take the Soarin' Strawberry Lemonade stain off the tips of our fingers, but we'd survive.

So here's our red, hot tips for you home dyers out there:

  • Skip the tussle and unwind the hank from a swift.
  • Keep the ties loose when tying off sections of the skein. Too tight and the dye won't penetrate.
  • Red dyes take longer to exhaust than other colors in our experience. Spent dyes will either be clear or cloudy - which makes more sense when you see it.
  • Wind the dry skein back onto the swift or a niddy-noddy.
Posted by Nanc at 06:45 PM | Comments (7)

April 24, 2006

One down, one to go

Can you believe it? I know I can't. I actually have one of the SockapalOOOza socks done!

Sure, sure - one sock doesn't make a pair, and my pal would probably not be too happy with a do-it-yourself kit. I understand, but stop raining on my parade, man. Just enjoy the sock that is.

Yep, here it is in all it's sock-like glory. Modeled by the loverly and tan-added-post-shoot Pirate. This picture was taken Sunday at the Dallas Stitch n' Bitch, hence the salt n' pepper grinds and the seating for many.

And let me give a warm 'Howdy' to our newest attendee, Jennifer of Pie Knits. See... but now I kind of feel bad for not giving out warm Howdies to all of our members, new and old. The weather was really nice this weekend, so not a lot of knitters in attendence (not like usual), but consider yourselves 'warm Howdied' from me.

Okay, back to the sock. I've started the second sock and am still enjoying the pattern. I made a few changes, however. I didnt' like the fabric on the foot - too loose, so I changed to size US#1s and worked just the stockinette portion in these. (The pattern was worked in size US#2s.) Also, the toe was coming out much longer than the normal 2" reserved for it, so I tinked back a few rows and repeated the decrease row (only) until I was where I needed/wanted to be with it.

Best of all, I am really pleased with this sock. The colors are so vibrant and pretty, and the patterning really makes this an elegant and happy sock. I am planning to make a pair of my own (afterwards, of course). And now that I've seen Margene's colorful pair, I think I'm ready for a little crazy! (Crazy colors, that is.)

Posted by Nanc at 04:34 PM | Comments (6)

April 20, 2006

Girls - I need your help.

Well, I guess guys can help me out too. Really, anyone with a good recommendation is welcome to throw their opinion into the obligatory pot.

I need help... with my jewelry. Storing it, specifically. See, I'm not much of a girly-girl, but I do have a few shiny baubles. Not much, but enough that I've out grown my wee red box. (It's so wee that I've included Matt's camping watch - a typical Timex - as reference.)

I used to keep all of my earrings in that wee box. And a necklace or two. But now the wee box is overflowing and the necklaces are in a tangle on the dresser. And they deserve better than this. Can't you help?

I'm looking for some sort of storage item that doesn't take up huge amounts of space (no floor-standing, deluxe jewelry cabinetry here). I like clever, but I don't like expensive. There are no diamonds in that pile, so there's no need to act like its worth anything more than garage sale fodder. (But I like each piece, so don't call it crap to my face, either!) I'd like to keep each pair of earrings together, yet separate from the others. Nice 'n tidy, y'all. And bonus if there's room for my watches, 'cause I do have a few of these. As does Matt. (But he can get his own storage solution.)

So please let me know your ideas. I'm down with the DIY, but I also don't mind purchasing a 'solution-in-a-box' either.

Posted by Nanc at 03:26 PM | Comments (9)

April 14, 2006

Cats and... well, just cats.

Okay, so its not so much of a clever title. But really, I didn't work at it for very long either.

It's another busy weekend for us. And that's our excuse for not writing much lately. See, we've been discussing our article timing and how to avoid the infrequency beast. And we're making some plans. For reals.

But y'all don't care about all this blah-blah-blah. So I'll get on with it and show you some cute kitties.

Not much of a story to go along with these pictures. Simply a few shots of the cats being... well, cats.

This is a great opportunity, though, to introduce y'all to the new photo format on the right. If you clever folks haven't figured it out already for yourselves by now.

To see close-up (full-size) images, simply click on the desired picture in the thumbnail gallery to the right. Not only will you get the full-size image, but typically we'll write a title or some thing mildly clever below the image.

On occasions, such as this, we'll set the images up as a slideshow. This way you can simply move through the pictures at your leisure by clicking on the forward and backward arrows in the display.

To get out of the image screen, click the [X] in the lower, right corner.

Now, if you found all this jibber-jabber fascinating and want to incorporate a similar foto gallery on your website, you can! The code is Lightbox, and you can get it from here.

Posted by Nanc at 11:34 AM | Comments (3)

April 12, 2006

Cats and PEZ

When we got back from camping this weekend, PEZ rained down upon me like manna from the heavens. The only key difference are that the PEZ came via the post office and Froggies, and not so much from a giant bearded man in the clouds.

Oh, and there are also pictures of the cats, to tempt you into clicking on the "read more" link below.

The first bit of goodness came from eBay, and is a crystal blue elephant. This is a custom dispenser made for Maximare, which seems to be some sort of German waterpark. I am a sucker for crystal dispensers and also for the small runs for companies. Really, this PEZ had me at "hello." Another fine use of that old Dumbo mold at pezco.

Then I got a voicemail from Froggie's 5 & 10, located here in Dallas. I've written in the past about the joys of this place. One of the joys is that they call me when new PEZ comes in. woot! On this trip, I picked up the new Ice Age PEZ, the new Cars PEZ, and the easter PEZ packaged in what looks like pantyhose eggs.

As we got home from Froggie's, there was a pizza box sitting on the porch. This could only mean that I also received my order from Ann Jaeger at Canada Candy Connection. The box contained untold wonders. So, let me tell you about 'em...

First up, a set of ten different 'football' Looney Tunes PEZ, for the soccer crowd. Who know that there was a Looney Tunes Cup anyway?

I also received a cool set of Gundam dispensers. These are unique, since they were created only for the Asian market. You can't really see from the pic, but they have an awesome flat finish that really sets them apart.

I also snagged a set of crystal Hello Kitty dispensers, that have the cutest stem markings. Pretty Kitty...

Posted by Matty at 03:36 PM | Comments (3)

April 05, 2006

Socks? Oh, yes. Socks!

While Matt was tweaking the formatting and coding the special new photo bar, I was knitting. Not surprising, eh? I completed one pair of socks and started my SockapalOOOza socks.

Come on inside and see what's going on.

By no means did the yarn magic itself into socks nor did Dobby knit these up for me, but I think that my Gryffindor socks are wizard! The details of these socks can be found here in a previous article.

I've worn the socks once already, unfortunately with a loose pair of clogs. I wore these shoes because they're good to show off socks. But their loose fit along with my shuffling gait has caused the heels to pill and haze over. Now there's a fuzzy line across the heel and gusset. Its something that only I will see (or other knitters when I show it off to them like a doofus), so I'm not too worried about it. They're still mightily comfy and bloody brilliant, IMHO.

Also in sock knitting news, I've made fine progress with my SockapalOOOza socks. (Does anyone else start to capitalize a few letters early when typing that?) As stated in this article, I'm using Cherry Tree Hill in the 'Life's a Beach' colorway and the Pomatomus pattern from Knitty. (Ugh, and that name (Pomatomus)? Sure I can spell it, but try to pronounce it... without looking at the word? I imagine that it's some kind of freaky genetic mutant combined from a hippopotamus and a tomato. -- yeah, I'm touched like that.)

I'm in the mist of the second repeat of the leg pattern, and I can finally say, "I get it!" When I started the patterning, I was tripping and falling all over my stitches. Knit with four double-pointed needles [dpns] (three holding stitches and one to knit with), this sock was more prickly than my standard five dpns. And this lace pattern will make you question your yarn over [YO] abilities. There are YOs at the beginning and ends of the needles, and sometimes I swear that I would sit for five minutes just flipping the yarn around and over this way then over and under that way trying to figure which was correct.

But now, it's clicked. I can "see" the pattern in its stitches and it makes sense. I don't cling to the pattern for dear life anymore; I can "read" my knitting and know what comes next. Ahh - that's liberating. It is still fairly slow going, as its a constant switch from knit to purl to knit, etc. But can you see how beautifully it is knitting up? I took advantage of some great weather we're having to snap a few pix. No touch-up on that sky: that's pure Texas spring, baby!

Update If you're here from the 200Sox link, this post just shows one of my completed socks (the Gryffindor pair). My other finished pair is the Pink Lemonade Socks discussed here. Thanks for stopping by tho! Leave a comment and let me know what's up.

Posted by Nanc at 05:09 PM | Comments (8)

April 02, 2006

This American Night

We had fun Sunday night. We got dressed up and went downtown to see a man sit behind a table full of equipment and talk about radio. It was great for a number of reasons, which are just beyond the "read more" link...

The man on the stage was Ira Glass, host of This American Life on NPR. In most markets, you can find this show on sometime during the weekend. This American Life recently celebrated their 10th anniversary, and they have produced some of the most memorable radio moments that I've ever heard.

Whether funny or heart wrenching, the stories on the show are always a must-listen. These stories also played a central part in the evening.

The crowd was diverse, and was great for the people-watching. There were the requisite number of people showing their hipness with thick, black glasses and ironic cologne. There were the octogenarians that show up for any theatre event (it must be the cookies). There was even at least one confirmed patchouli-smelliní hippy.

The other cool part for me? We were at the Majestic Theatre in Dallas. Iím sure that Iím just being repetitive and yíall know this, but one of my top five favorite films was filmed there. Iím sure you are also a fan of the 1974 classic rock opera Phantom of the Paradise. Yeah, it was pretty cool to walk on the same mezzanine that a mere 32 years earlier was trod (or is it trodden) by Paul Williams.

The house lights extinguished and the theatre was dark. Then, Ira started talking. His voice, and darkness. Admittedly, a clever way to start a show by a radio guy. Then the lights came up, and there was Ira, looking pretty much like I expected.

He had a script, but he wandered off it pretty regularly, discussing a number of events going on in his life, including moving from Chicago to NYC a couple of days before this appearance. He also discussed the upcoming This American Life TV show on Showtime.

In the scripted parts, he talked about a number of topics, from how to make a story that people want to hear, to how music plays a role in story-telling. He was also very proud to show off a badge of honor: when the show was mentioned as a pop-culture reference on the O.C.

It was a cool night. Much like most episodes of the radio show, it was over too soon. Unlike the radio show, I wasnít punished with Garrison Keillor afterward. Instead, as we walked back to our car, there was a street musician playing a sax. That was way better.

Posted by Matty at 11:12 PM | Comments (1)