Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I joined the Hogwarts Sock Swap purely on the spur of the moment, having found the blog for it by accident. Since I love all things Harry Potter it seemed a good idea at the time and certainly, as I have said before, I had plenty of time to get my socks knit and shipped by April 15.  Also, I knit lots of orphan socks for the sock patterns I design as well as complete pairs for relatives but rarely for myself so the idea of someone else knitting an entire pair for me was too good to pass up.

The last time I joined a swap was rather disappointing as my package did not come until way after the due date. However a one time miss does not a pattern make so I thought I’d try a swap again.

This one has easy rules and a clear set of guidelines for items to include. As I am a Gryffindor I thought my pal would be one too but the Universe is a game player as we are all supposed to be having fun. I was given a Slytherin as my sockee and the person making socks for me is a Slytherin as well. However since we have been writing I can attest to the fact they are both very nice and thoughtful, so un-Slytherin-like.

I was also delighted to find that the woman who made socks for me lives in Finland. Her English is excellent so our correspondence has been very enjoyable. My only Finnish word is garn, meaning yarn. We also all have HP names to “protect the not-so-innocent”. Mine is Lavender K. and my Finnish pal is Cassandra C. while the person I am making socks for is Selena S.

As we in HP land tend to use HP terms, I will tell this little tale that way too. Today, a large brown owl that looked quite tired from a rather long flight landed on my lunch table and stuck out its leg. I removed a white package, thanked the owl by giving her a treat, then watched her fly away up to the owlry for a well-deserved rest. I could hardly contain my self as I opened the package.

The first thing out was a pair of gorgeous socks. I had thought they were supposed to be knit in Gryffindor colors (dark crimson and gold), which I am not fond of, but instead these are bright cheery fuchsias, rusts and golds, get out of the winter blues colors. They are made from Lorna’s Laces Bittersweet in a modified ribbing with a baby cable center. I immediately took off one of the socks I was wearing and replaced it with the new one. Ohhhhhh heaven and all mine without having knit one stitch. So delightful.

Then I started looking at the rest of the loot gifts. There were 2 balls of Garnstudio’s Fabel Superwash in greens, gold and grays. Oh and now I have 2 more words in Finnish ---sokkegarn and Ull. You probably guessed the first is sock yarn and the second is wool. At this rate pretty soon I can have a whole knitting conversation. OK, not that soon, as there is a free pattern inside the label that I just looked at. I can tell the gauge, needle size, maybe the pattern and to cast on 60 stitches but that’s about as far as my new Finnish gets me. Hopefully Maarit will come through with a translation.

I just heard from Maarit (see quote below) who tells me all those words I have been learning are Norwegian as is the yarn and pattern on the label. So no translation but I do now have some Norwegian to Finnish knitting words to share with you.
<I read your blog just a sec ago (I have it in my bookmarks ;D). Those words you mention there are written in Norwegian (how should you know as I send you "foreign" yarn...), correct Finnish translations are:
garn = lanka (yarn), sokkegarn = sukkalanka (sockyarn) and ull = villa (wool). I so hope you don't mind these corrections
I most certainly don't mind and actually rather appreciate having the corrections. I apologize for assuming the yarn was Finnish. That was my American provincialism at work.

Also in the package was a set of typical Finnish dpns in plastic covered metal, two pretty beaded stitch markers, some Finnish candy, a postcard, a shawl pattern and a lovely note to me. It felt like a birthday present, but in March.

I have one complete sock and maybe a quarter of the second one done for Selena. Also ready are her stitch markers, a journal, some circular sock needles and some HP candy. Reminder to self: reserve an owl for next week's mailing. Making the second sock is such a trial but after wearing the ones I just received and feeling so good about them I am inspired to get this second one knit ASAP. I am also quite pleased with this swap group, as the experience has been delightful.

When mvos told me she wanted to wear the socks I made for her everyday, I did not really understand even though I was pleased. However I am about to wash these Hogwarts socks in the sink so I can wear them again tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

On and Off the Needles (Dogi complete)

I am trying to keep my UFO’s to a minimum. On top of that I seem to get myself into knitting deadlines. They help me get projects done that might otherwise have turned into UFO’s. However, I definitely start too many projects as they appeal to me and then realize, uh oh, this other one needs to be done ASAP because it has to have its picture taken for a pattern to be sent out, or that other one has to be mailed as a swap deadline is approaching, or the Holidays near and I have started way more than I can ever get done unless I sit up mucho late at night for many nights and watch a hundred Netflix DVD's. Fortunately the Holiday knitting is behind me for several more months. Although I did just dye up some sock yarn for myveryownsister (mvos) who reads this blog, so she will be pleased that at least the yarn is ready.

Antique Lace Vest by Ilga Leja.
I saw this pattern in an Annie’s Attic catalog and just had to have it right then, that very day. You know how that is. I just loved the drape of the vest and the lace and how it would look in some of my fingering SW merino/tencel yarn. It’s a pricey pattern but since I was in love with it thought, “Why not?” However the shipping from Annie’s was going to cost half again as much as the pattern, which would bring the total cost of the pattern alone, to over $18. That seemed a bit excessive for a pattern that I had not really investigated yet. Hmmmnnnn… I searched on the Internet but found only the Annie’s reference.

Then I remembered Ravelry! I had looked up a cardi pattern just the week before and loved that I could see what others had done and their comments. Sure enough there it was with 9 people’s efforts displayed. Most of them loved it and had added hearts to their comments. This gave me the assurance that I too would love this as I hoped. AND right there was a download option for this pattern. I got to have my wish and get the pattern immediately. How delightfully middle schoolish of me (well I did teach middle school for 22 years and had noticed in faculty meetings just how much like our students we all behaved). 

I printed out the 8-page pattern and actually made myself NOT immediately ball up the yarn. That took fortitude, as Ruth wanted dto help me do just that when I brought it to show at Wednesday Night Sacred Knitting. I promised myself I could when I had gotten to a certain point on the Art Deco Socks. See I can have discipline in knitting, just. I made that goal not too far away, reached it, then balled up one skein and allowed myself only two sets of the pattern. By then I had figured out just how beautiful it would be and that I could get very immersed in it to the exclusion of everything else.

I think I will be carrying some of Ilga's patterns in the near future.  Please let me know which ones you might prefer.  They range from simple to complex.

Art Deco Socks
Are now done, photographed and printed with the pattern. Happy Dance time! I think I frogged these socks more than any of my others for the Sock Hop. One reason was I decided to go with 3 sizes which I know really complicates things but in my enthusiasm conveniently forgot. Another was that Bonnie, the wonderful woman who does the test knitting and pattern editing for me, had some problems with it so I frogged the sock back trying to figure it out.

The pattern has some slip stitch vertical striping, regular horizontal striping and some Fair Isle geometric work. These also took some frogging until the correct numbers of stitches for each section were determined. I love the colors, which kept me going on this one. 
I wanted to give the feel of Art Deco that I remember fondly from growing up in NYC. Many of the buildings were built during that design era and certainly the murals in Radio City Music Hall came to mind. I remember standing in line with friends for shows; we usually went each year around Holiday time, and admiring the murals and architecture. Even the bathrooms were done in Art Deco.  I normally only make one of each sock as that is all the time I get before the next one calls but, for this sock the heels, ribbing and toes are in different colors and therefore, delightfully cocooning BOTH my happy feet.
(And for those of you eagerly awaiting this kit, they will ship early next week.)

Hogwarts Sock Swap 3.
I am an ardent HP fan. Of course I read all the books, have seen all the movies out so far plus I am now listening to book 6 in the car as I drive around. I even took the hat sorting personality test that happily placed me in Gryffindor House. Then I gave my grandson the test to fill out as he loves HP as much as me. The sorting says he’s a caring Hufflepuff.
So when I saw this opportunity for a sock exchange in February I just could not resist. Anyway the deadline was so far in the future as to be silly. “Hey, April 15, no sweat.” I do some mighty impressive mind games with myself. But since I already had some Gryffindor sock yarn dyed I thought this would be a cinch so waited rather impatiently for the email giving me the person to knit for. The Universe plays some interesting games too.
I was given a Slytherin pal. Somehow I thought the houses would be kept separate, but evidently not so. OK, I had already ordered Gryffindor stitch markers from Sunnelite on etsy so quickly asked her for a Slytherin set. I was going to send the Gryffindor ones back but liked them so much I have kept them for myself (and am having fun using them on the Antique Lace vest as shown above). Once I got my head turned around I thought of a neat snake like pattern, began writing and dyed up some silver grey and green sock yarn. Now that the Art Deco socks are done I can concentrate more on these. They are a size large so take much much longer than mediums; well that is how it seems anyway. I have also included a non-pointy toe option in the pattern.
Two socks were started on 3 circs but gave me grief.  I kept getting confused with all the needles and the yarn.  Plus it was going way way too slowly for my need to see progress.  I separated the socks and am now moving right along.  Jim says, "Half the progress at twice the speed."  Whatever!

And I just heard from Maarit, in Finland, who knit socks for me that mine are in the mail! Guess I’d better get cracking so I am not the last one to send a package out. I have the stitch holders, the pattern, the needles, but still need to finish the socks and get her a notebook. I am putting a pic of Dobby wearing Hermione’s hats on its cover.

Dogi Vest Complete
This vest was so fun to knit and took a reasonable amount of time to complete. It blocked well and is slightly blooming from the angora in the yarns, as I wear it. I would definitely recommend this pattern although I did use heavier yarn and larger needles to get my size. Except for the really big Kimonos in the book Knit Kimono I think they are all for skinnies. However on Ravelry you can see this vest on many sized people and in many variations too.
And, I had plenty left over to make a tam and still add to my extras stash.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

And now for the main event

Guild was such fun on Saturday. It was Rummage Sale Day. I brought the left over fiber from Maggie’s Farm and some odd ball hand dyed blue face Leicester. I don’t think it was on the table more than five minutes when Jane came to put her stuff next to mine. She had some rug quality yarn and a hand made purple vest. You know I picked that vest right up. She did it in moss and popcorn stitch and some cables. I don’t like to knit any of those stitches which made the vest even more special to me. Jane had knit it for a friend who decided to change her shape and actually did (unlike me who would love to change her shape but does not manage to do much about it).   Jane loved my fiber offerings so we made an even trade, although I think I got the better end of it. I saw a similar trade happen several more times and then a latecomer complained that there wasn’t anything on the tables. Well, sadly, that’s what happens when you are late to Rummage Sale.

And to think I almost did not go because the weather forecast was horrible and because there was a blizzard on my hill. Jim reminded me that for 22 years I left my hill 5 days a week to find the weather almost always milder at the bottom of my hill. Saturday was no exception. In the afternoon it started pouring rain in town where we meet but since it was not icing the cars I thought little of it. I did notice the icicles forming on the power lines and trees but again, as long as the road was wet and the cars wet there was no problem.

On the way home, maybe a hundred feet from our driveway, a small tree was down. I got out of the car to move it and was entranced by the amount of creaking, popping, snapping and falling trees in the woods. We arrived home to 4 inches of slush instead of rain but also very icy tree branches. Jim went out to shovel the steps with Sparkles right behind him. Sparkles likes to play with the snow coming off the shovel. Jim was about two thirds done when Sparkles looked up, stopped and then scampered into the house.
About two minutes after Jim got in himself and sat down we heard a great crash and more crashing and popping and snapping plus the lights went off. Sigh. This has happened before but this time it was right in our front yard.

Then we heard another huge crash and saw this. 

We waited a while in case more was about to happen, then Jim went out, very very carefully, and saw that the lines from the pole to our house were now sitting on the ground, our service box was wrenched open 
and the overhead power, usually along the road, was now being a sling for a large tree branch that was also being held up by my shop roof. 

One of our ancient maples had lost it! This was more serious than we had thought and certainly more dangerous. Oh my! So we called it in. We actually talked to a real person who did not seem alarmed at all. We also did not know at the time that this tree took out our entire hillside leaving 60 houses without power.

In the past most power outages have lasted no more than 5 or 6 hours, maybe 12. Six years ago, right after New Year’s, we had a big ice storm that left us powerless for 5 days. We learned a lesson and acquired a good generator that has helped us through the dark into light several times since. This time, however, the lines to the house would not be helping the generator get its energy to us. We even heat with a pellet stove, but alas, it needs electricity to run the fan and feed.  Sigh.    OK nothing we could do so, we got out the oil lamps and sleeping bags for a night of reading and early bedtime. We filled 2 gallon jugs with water and made lots of tea as the stove runs on propane. Jim’s cell was fully charged and mine was at half.

Jim also called the electrician he works with who generously came out about 7pm to look it all over. Tim told us we would need a completely new service box and that it would have to be inspected before the power people would hook us back up.  Certainly news to us but we were grateful for Tim's expertise.  We made arrangements for him to return on Sunday morning as he said that once NYSEG was here it might take awhile for them to return if we were not ready for the hook up.

Our house is well insulated so with a couple of stove top burners on low and the oil lamps putting out their heat the inside temps only fell about 8 degrees that first night. It was a one dog and one cat cuddle night. SmokeyBlue was a happy camper as he likes it as cold as it gets outside.

Sunday morning Tim came by about 9 all dressed in outdoor warm clothing as it was no more than 20 degrees. He worked for over 2.5 hours putting the new service in and even called the inspector who showed up about noon with his seal of approval. I felt so fortunate to have so many people helping us right away.

We waited all day for NYSEG to show up but were disappointed. We called in about every 3-4 hours for updates. Since we had no landline and no electric we needed to conserve our cell phone energy as the electric company wanted us to be phone accessible,  meaning at least one cell was left on all the time. Jim went in to Staples and brought back a recharger that could be run from the car so at least one cell was always charged up.

By Sunday evening I couldn’t stand being unplugged from the internet any longer so drove into town to our favorite restaurant/café where there is free internet access, heat and warm food. A couple of hours at the Smart Monkey was a great relief and help for my psyche. I made internet contact for a bit, caught up on email and orders coming in even though I could not fill them yet, and talked and read with real overhead lighting. Jim had been in to town and stopped there earlier when he got the cell phone charger. We were taking turns during the day but needing to have at least one of us home to care for the animals nixed a night at a motel.

Monday dawned sunny, cold and beautiful

 but this camping out in the house was getting old, very old ---  still we knew we were not alone as at least 1900 (down from 5000) households were without power even with the crews out working 24 hours a day. We received a call from Verizon to expect a repair person. HURRAY!!! Something definite about to happen. Again we waited and waited.

I must say I got an awful lot of knitting and spinning done these powerless days. Hand and foot power kept me warm. Finished the Dogi Vest, made a tam out of the left over yarn, started a cardigan design using some leftover stash coupled with some bfl and alpaca/merino/silk I spun up.

Finally I went into Ithaca to get groceries and do a few errands while Jim held the fort. He called me on my way in to say NYSEG had phoned telling us they would be here today for sure. HAPPY DANCE!!!!!!!! I was just leaving Wegman’s when Jim called again to tell me all the trucks had just left. “What do you mean left?” I wanted to take pictures. I wanted to watch this re hook up to the modern world. I wanted to see the crew in action. Oh well. Jim has given me the entire story, item by item which I don’t think you want but I will give you the highlights.

Two large vans from Rochester G&E came first and looked it all over. They could do nothing until the limbs were removed as they were specializing in hook ups not removals but they each gave Basel some cookies and lot of pets.
Then within a few minutes THREE cherry picker trucks from Binghanton NYSEG arrived and 2 supervisory trucks from Ithaca NYSEG. They did not want to come into our driveway so blocked the road for their 1.5 hours of work here. No one complained though.

The part of the crew with pruning saws and wire cutters began cutting branches out of the way, while another person had a chainsaw attached to a long pole. Can you imagine that? It sounds like a mighty special skill and I do wish I had a pic to show you. They cut and cut and cut.

 Then a guy got into the bucket of one of the cherry pickers and was maneuvered way over our driveway from up on the road down down down to about the limit of the cherry picker’s stretch. Two other guys got large ropes and a ladder and began feeding the ropes over the lines. The one in the bucket also used a chainsaw on a pole, which I suppose gives him more reach but is surely odd to visualize. He trimmed the branches to within about 6 inches of the lines. The rope guys held the wires taut so they didn’t bounce around and then, at exactly the right moment, pulled sideways so the wires slid over the tree and up up up back into their original safe place up high. 

Now the RG&E people could do their thing. Lastly, one more supervisory truck pulled up with a guy who used a chainsaw in the normal way. He kindly cut one of those huge branches into smaller more manageable pieces. Like they came, they all left.

POWER!!!!!! I came home to warm air, lights and sounds of the dishwasher and clothes washer. YES!!!!

Verizon arrived and the nice man set us up temporary lines until the trees can be removed. Then one of the tree guys came while the ice was dropping off the branches and gave us an estimate. We are now on the downhill side of this. All that is left is cleanup and catch up. I was able to enter the shop again by the end of the day. Ice and small limbs continue to fall and will until the weather gets drier and warmer. We are grateful none of us were hurt, that the damage could be fixed or replaced and we stayed warm and healthy. Today I will try to start catching up on orders and ask that you be a bit patient as I get the shop back in order and going smoothly again.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

If it's Tuesday...

It was 57 degrees yesterday and sunny for most of the day here in upstate central NY.  I reveled in the fact that the light stayed with us until at least 6pm.  Breathing room is how it feels.  Today is a bit different however as it is Tuesday and, as you can see, the temps are just right for possibly treacherous conditions.  Jim has had to cancel the class he teaches several times because we seem to be getting a storm almost every Tuesday.  I am not imagining this.  I have proof positive to back up my thinking.
Here are the results of my research:
March 4 = ice, snow and sleet
Feb 26 = snow storm
Feb 19 = ice, snow and sleet
Feb 12 = rain and snow
Feb 5 = fog and rain
Jan 29 = rain
Jan 22 = fog and snow
Jan 15 = snow storm
Jan 8 = no precipitation
Jan 1 = snow.
arghhhhh......I don't even want to look at December.

This morning while I was watching the changing precipitation coat the trees and branches I saw ice pellets, sleet, freezing rain, snow, granular snow, freezing mist and wet snow in a period of maybe 60 minutes.  This weather show got me to thinking.  I remembered being told as a child that there are tons of words for snow in the Eskimo language. At that time I did not know much about Alaska, make that all I knew about Alaska was Fulton's whoops Seward's Folly from history class so really did not understand the unintended disrespect to the native population nor the reasons for why they would have so many different words for something that this then downstate city child saw melt almost as fast as it came down.

Now I might know enough about Alaska to fit into a thimble from having my students follow the Iditarod for many years.  However I do know some about the dogs raised there, the trust they have with their humans and something of the people in general.  Arctic Lace is also a good resource on the native population of Alaska.  I certainly now know that there are many different native cultures and languages. Just to please myself I looked up "alaskan native american snow words" on dogpile and got some excellent resources. From Ronald Brower, an Inupiaq language professor at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks comes this list.

1.Apun: snow. 2. Aniu: packed snow. 3. Aniuvak: snow bank. 4. Apuyaq: snow patch. 5. Aqilluqqaq: soft snow. 

6. Auksalaq: melting snow. 

7. Agniq: snow blizzard. 

8. Illuksinaq: bright snow condition causing snow blindness. 

9. Kanigruaq: frost on face, tree, etc.

10. Kaiyuglaq: rippled surface of snow. 

11. Mavsa: snowdrift overhang. 12. Mauya: break through snow condition. 

13. Misulik: sleet snow. 

14. Mitailaq: soft snow on ice. 15. Milik: very soft snow. 

16. Masak: water logged snow. 

17. Masayyak: lightly damp snow. 

18. Natilvik: low ground drifting snow. 

19. Nutalaq: fresh snow, powder snow. 20. Qannik: snowflake. 21. Qanniksuq: is snowing. 22. Qatiqsuniq: light snow, deep for walking. 23. Qiqsruqaq: glazed snow in thaw time. 24. Qarraqtualik: area with resonating snow. 25. Quvyugaq: whiteout. 

26. Qimuagruk: snow drift blocking trail or in lee of a building. 27. Qiqsruqaq: thaw qlazed snow. 38. Nutaagun: when snow covers water with no ice. 29. Piqsiqsuq: is snow storming. 30. Piagnaq: snow condition good for sled (ready to fall) travel. 31. Pilik: ice crystals in the air. 32. Sisuuq: snow slide, avalanche. 33. Siquqtuaq: sun crusted snow (covering an open water spot). 34. Sillik: hard crusty snow. 35. Uggulaq: overly damp snow. 36. Uyumiqsuq: is misty, blurred. Snow crystals in the air. 37. Uullukkuu: snow that melts instantly.

Today alone we have seen #1, 5, 6, 9, 12, 13, 14, 20, 21, 31, 35 and 36.  How to correctly pronounce most of these words is beyond my very poor foreign language facilities but I am enjoying reading them anyway.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Provisional No More Additional

Let me start out today telling you just how wonderful it feels to be standing in sunshine, in almost 30 degree temps, with only a turtle neck and a sweatshirt on instead of a heavy coat.  Oh and for those of you who are literal minded,  I am in jeans and short boots too.  

After this long winter, which I do know is not over, the last 2 weeks were really over the top.  Two weeks ago we had 30ish temps with lots of freezing rain and sleet and wet snow.  Yuck.  Last week we had lots of snow with 5-15 degree temps.  Snow came down and down and down, every day.  Even when they predicted 1-3 we got 7. I have to admit that as much as I love the looks and sound (or lack of sound to be more precise) of snow and don't mind driving in it, by March I have had my fill.  I know better than to get my hopes up yet but today is a reprieve worth celebrating.
See?   Sun, shadows, melting snow and blue sky!  
What more could a warm weather starved girl ask for? 
Hamster Happy Dance!
Oh yes, the purpose of today's blog.
While working on the Dogi vest I was delightfully able to use the Provisional No More method several times.  Today I actually had the opportunity to apply the 'pick up' end of it on the neckband.  It was easy sleezy to pick up the stitches as they were sitting patiently on their cords just waiting for me to take off the end cap and add a needle.  Nice, very nice, as I am someone who really dislikes picking up stitches.  I guess that is why I don't do much Entrelac either, even though I like how it looks.  Oh yes, back to the point.

  When I just went along merrily knitting those held sts I noticed the little ridge on the left actually transferring itself to be under the newly formed stitches.  Black arrows show these on the left.
For socks this may be just fine as commercial socks all have a ridge line by the toes.  However for a vest or something else this ridge line is definitely not acceptable.  I went around a bit with thinking and hemming and hawing, then trying several solutions.  I tried to knit the held st with the ridge stitch but that looked too cumbersome.  Finally I took the stitch off (orange arrow) and picked up the stitch where the white arrow is.  See, it is really under and to the left of the last stitch you knit.  Once that is done, the old stitch seems to just disappear, really, and there is the wanted seamless addition happening.   Look at this picture as it may be clearer to you.  The black curved line I drew shows where the picked up stitch goes after the original one has been let go.
I am adding this bit of not so esoteric information to the original January Provisional No More post but thought that anyone who had printed out that post might want to have this one too.