April 29, 2012

Day 6: Improving Your Skillset - 3KCBWDAY6

Improving Your Skillset - 3KCBWDAY6

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How far down the road to learning your craft do you believe yourself to be? Are you comfortable with what you know or are you always striving to learn new skills and add to your knowledge base? Take a look at a few knitting or crochet books and have a look at some of the skills mentioned in the patterns. Can you start your amigurumi pieces with a magic circle, have you ever tried double knitting, how's your intarsia? If you are feeling brave, make a list of some of the skills which you have not yet tried but would like to have a go at, and perhaps even set yourself a deadline of when you'd like to have tried them by.

I started knitting about 3.5 years ago. To be exact. When my grandmother showed me how at age 8, I was so frustrated that I quit. While I wish now that she would have considered using pencils instead of super slick aluminum knitting needles for my lessons, it does not matter. For whatever reason, I did not really start  knitting until I was 39. 

This has been a great source of frustration for me. Looking back, I see how many lost years there are. Especially when I see so many people who can say, "I have been knitting pretty much my whole life." Or, "I guess I have been knitting about 30 years." And they are 35. 

While I spend some moments truly lamenting the passage of unfortunate time lost (those moments really appear when I am looking through pattern books, calculating the time needed to reach certain skill levels in order to make certain projects, and realizing that I will be very old by the time I am as skilled as some women and men...and children (let's face it)), I spend a lot more time in intense study. 

Is this some weird mid-life crisis? Me suddenly figuring out in reality how much time is really left in my life, and does knitting represent everything I want to still do? So be it. There are worse things, and I want to be good--really good--at knitting.

So when asked where I want to take my skillset next, I say everywhere.

I want to understand the concepts, the techniques and the little details that make finished products look so perfect. I want my own work to eventually rise to the quality of so many others' I see day after day on Ravelry and in the hands of friends.  

To this end, most things I make are guided by what I want to learn next. My first project was a layette set: booties, a baby sweater and bonnet. Looking back at that, it now seems like a pretty crazy choice, and I think, crap! I had no idea what I was doing! How did that even turn out??!  Soon after, I took to trying socks, took a class and loved it. Then, while making different styles of socks, The Sock Summit came along and I loved that, too.

Now, my new goal is not only to try everything--entrelac, more intarsia, fair isle, tons of sweaters (as the styles are endless)--but I would like to take several classes per year as I like the learning style and more than that, I love the little pieces of helpful information that come out of that setting from everyone around you. My hope is that more study will help push me along a little bit

Even if I never become a "perfect" knitter, that's ok. I am sure having fun trying. : )

April 28, 2012

Day 5:The Life Cycle of a Knitting Project

Day One: Conception. An idea is born. You see that magical hand painted yarn in the LYS and you simply must have it.

Day Two: Rapid cellular growth, aka delusions of grandeur. "Maybe it could be a scarf. No, a hat. No, a sock. Maybe I could buy more and make a stole. Or a sweater! What if it could work for my cocktail dress to wear to the annual company Christmas party? I have months to work! Oh, this is going to be special!"

Day 3: Procrastination. This falls under the false attitude that says, "I am thinking about it. This project has to be just perfect. The yarn has not spoken to me yet." You circle the yarn daily, maybe hourly, staring at it. You tell yourself that after all, you have to work, cook, do laundry. Meanwhile, you really just can't decide.

Day 4: Realization. You are handling the yarn for the 25th time, touching it, falling in love with its smell. You re-read the label from the hand dyer, amazed at her skill. You realize that you cannot buy more as the dye lots will not match. Your mind settles agreeably on a small project. You would like to maybe wear a new pair of socks after the weekend, anyway. You can handle a 3 day project. It's been years since you made a sock, but its exactly like riding a bike. Right?

Day 5: Divination. Digging deep into your brain, you remember a sock pattern that you were just dying to make a few years back, you dismiss a sudden thought that it might be out of style. Who cares about that, anyway? When you memory banks fail to tell you which book the pattern is in, you hold out your new skein of yarn, willing it to point you to the pattern on your bookshelf.

Day 6: Osmosis. Once you find it, you read and re-read the pattern, trying to make sense of it and wondering why you loved it before as your frustration in understanding it grows. You take it to bed with you and fall asleep with the book on your face and your glasses still on. When you wake up, you still don't remember the attraction and your book has drool on it. The dog has your glasses and Monday has already arrived.

Day 7: Rapid Growth. You decide to just take that awesome hand dyed yarn and knit up a quick stockinette pair of crew socks. The yarn will speak for itself, you say out loud. You look up a video on Youtube for a refresher on socks. You work away for hours, focusing hard on the heel flap and gusset. Once you get down to the foot, you see that the color pattern is pooling and flashing. Suddenly you remember why you wanted that pattern out of the book.

Day 8: Puberty.  You begin having wild mood swings, crying and screaming as you rip out the first sock that was almost done. You don't even know why you started this. Everything seems like a shambles. You need a clean slate. You run out and madly buy a few more hanks of plainer yarn. It makes you feel good again ( a little) and you tell yourself that, after all, a back up plan is in order.

Day 9: Maturity. After recovering from shopping therapy, you collect your wits you tell yourself that you will re-approach this project in a calm manner. You make a reviving cup of coffee. On this day, it's properties seem powerful, like smelling salts. Alert like never before, you go to Ravelry's magical database of patterns like a rational knitter and seek out a solid, appropriately lacey pattern from your favorite designer, made just for hand dyed yarn.

Day 10: Despair or accomplishment. At this crossroads, you must commit to slow, steady progress, admit defeat as it relates to unreasonable expectations. You realize that if you do not, you will be doomed to keep buying only store bought socks.

Day 11-15(or 16, 17, 18, 25....): Success. You proudly wear your new socks to work after all, and you tell yourself that it was all worth it. As your co-workers ooh and ahh over your new, awesome hose, you tell yourself that you will now make another pair from the other new yarn you bought.

Day 16 (or 17, 25, you get the idea): Contemplation. You give yourself a day to rest, then look at your stash. Your phone rings and you BKFF invites you to lunch and the local yarn shop.

Day 1.....

Day 4: Hipster Portland and the Knitting Conflict

Anne Hathaway. Even she has been carried away
in the hipster flood. What about Ella Enchanted?
"...all the hot girls wear glasses..." such is one description of a hipster Portland girl through the proverbial eyes of "Portlandia," the satirical and spot on sketch comedy show. It is no secret that I love this show; I have blogged about it, even written my own imaginary script for it and love it so for what I see as it's hilariously accurate depiction of my hometown. What does this have to do with knitting, you say?


People who live here understand the peculiar juxtaposition of the hipster influence next to almost everything (I would argue that we are affected even if it is subtle or even subliminal). And knitting is no exception.

Hold on! you say, the Ravelry Day 4 post for Blog Week is supposed be about seasons, not attitudes.

We do have seasons here. In fact, I'd say that here in the Pacific Northwest, we have some of the best summers anywhere in the world. Usually.

Some of own boots, but only because they are in
style right now. Now that's hip.
Most often, we are defined here by our rainfall. Our seasonal weather can consist of rain, rain and more rain, with little drizzle and mist sprinkled in. We may have a couple of snowflakes here and there in January and when summer arrives (if it does), there is no guarantee of a great one, or at least a long one.

No, we live often in perpetual moisture, in one form or another, and, while we do so cherish our lovely and precious summer days and blue skies, we typically live as though it will rain at any time. The rain has become such a part of who we are that natives of Portland rarely use umbrellas, boots or even hats. (This makes the newcomers stand out like hot red boots in a rain puddle shining in a sun break)

Do we knit for the weather? All the time.

In spite of our habitual lack of galoshes (we just wear crocs all the time) and rain ponchos, we are not totally clueless the our habitat. For example, we know that wool is the best "wet" fabric. It holds up to 25% of its weight in moisture before feeling wet, it is warm, it lasts for all time and it the most beautiful, diverse and fabulous knitting fiber. My fave. Once I discovered it, I wanted nothing else. And others are certainly with me.

My own recent thick socks. I love them.
And I realize that I need some more
 knitting photos soon!
Wool is great for the outdoor lifestyle here, too. Hiking, biking and just sitting-outside attire is often best served by this fabulous fabric. Because of all these things--monochrome weather (grey), lifestyle, lack of super hot stretches of heat--we can also knit any item we like, pretty much any time of the year. No one will look at you askance for knitting thick boot socks in August on a park bench. In fact, they may even say, "hmmm...maybe I should think about that...you never know when you might need those. She is really planning ahead!"

This practical aspect of knitting habits aside, we must return to the "hipster factor."

As I said before, it permeates our lives here right now. And because it is "new-ish," it presents some interesting issues.

Knitting has been around a long time. A really long time. There are paintings depicting the Virgin Mary knitting in the round on dpn's and it is widely believed that Roman soldiers wore knitting socks--in their sandals no less.

If you visit us here in the Northwest part of the U.S., you definitely will see people in Oregon and Washington wearing thick socks in their Birkenstocks summer, spring, fall and winter, but these folks are usually the "old school" knitters, artisans, artists (we have lots of awesome glass blowers here) and/or hippies. These people are typically the more the down-to-earth traditional hip people. Hippies and hipsters must not be confused.

Often, hippies (as I love and think of them) uphold more traditional knitting styles--things that can be expected. Big, long bulky aran sweaters and thick socks are wonderful examples of traditional semi-past knitting culture at least (last 40 years or so).

They are often the real deal in other ways, too. They may have actual sheep that they own and sheer. They may have been spinning and dying long before it was so popular and they have understood what it means to grow one's own organic garden long before "everyone was doing it." They started living their lifestyle long ago, because they believed in something, wanted a healthier change, personally or socially. At any rate, they are genuine. They may even embody the "pioneer spirit" that is often used to describe the social feeling here in the Northwest.

Enter the hipsters. The newer, distorted look of the pioneer spirit. This does not describe an age group exactly, but an attitude--a small, yet pervasive one.

My kids used to use a word that fits here: "poser." This word means that someone is trying to be something they are not. Like a shallow facsimile of the the real deal.

Instead of deep meaning, hipsters aspire to lofty knowledge without firm foundation. They pride themselves on knowing things before their friends do and spend a lot of time learning things--via the internet or otherwise--and lord it over everyone. They are the ones who simply must be first and best in a conversation, throwing around unsolicited social opinions on anything from the latest band to the latest research blog from The New Yorker.

The key here is the word "latest." They must be first, they must be smartest, they must be best. And in a very short amount of time. It's hard to keep up minute to minute with absolutely everything, so I must assume the quality of the information is absolutely doomed to suffer. This differs greatly from truly skilled or knowledgeable people who spend time learning their ideas and crafts.

Traditional Hipster glasses. On the way out? Better get a
pair soon. Then you, too, can be ironic.
The shallow hipster approach to being number one even leaks into fashion. Seems silly, but it does. One day you here from a friend that absolutely everyone is wearing leg warmers, the next, the same friend tells you that leg warmers are "so over!!" and cites a recent online article from someone allegedly in the know. Did you buy a pair of hipster-style glasses, thinking they were cute and fun? I personlly heard just today that they might be "over," too! This thinking could leak into sweaters, fibers, dying, absolutely everything.

What about knitting?

How do you reconcile a traditional, ancient art such as knitting with a callow, hollow attitude towards everything but the aspiration to be first? Do we worry about trends, alleged though they may be, and rapid fire new ideas here in Portlandia? Do we fret about that yarn we bought 3 years ago and worry if it will be in style now? What about that pattern you purchased years ago, with the intention of becoming skilled enough someday to make it? Can we use it now? What if you just now learned about spinning and dying and wanted to put on it your bucket list? Can you?

Will you miss the window of opportunity? Will it all come crashing down? Will your sweater pattern, purchased in the 90's, be mocked today?

First of all, the dream of the 90's is alive and well here in the greater Portland Metro Area (see Portlandia opening montage). So go ahead and dream about that sweater pattern.

But more importantly, if one were to care about social acceptance here--and let's face it, those of us over 25 (and many of us under 25) no longer care--there is always a hipster "out." Adjunct to the desire to be first, is also the desire to be ironic. It may even supercede the desire to be first. So go ahead, learn to knit, spin, dye. Whenever you want. Make that 80's cut boxy sweater (I am certainly about to... I like the cut) and wear it all with pride.

No worries: as quickly as something is "over," it is "ironic," meaning that as soon as wear an "outdated" item, you have already started a new trend. And so the cycle continues. Old concept? Sure. Just a new word.

We can rest assured that is is completely safe to cling to the ancient, the tried and true art of knitting. In all its forms, shapes and styles.

After all, at the end of the day, there are absolutely no new ideas under the sun anyway. No matter how many ridiculous words we come up with to express them.

Knit on, folks, knit on.

April 26, 2012

And the winner is....

The drawing is done! The winner of Boutique Knits is.....

Cindy in Wisconsin!

Cindy, please email me at janwin98@comcast.net to claim your book!!

Thank you to everyone who entered and very, very happy knitting!

Thanks for reading,


April 25, 2012

Blog Week Day 3: Heroes

Amy Rose in a Daisy Kingdom dress I made
for my older daughter, Annie, 9 years ago.
This dress, special in its own right, represents
so much more to me today than I ever dreamed
it would

I was a weird kid.

I played with boys, picked my nose and, on an otherwise pleasant camping trip to Ft. Stevens when I was 8, tattled to the game warden on a young man at Coffinberry Lake because he was smoking and fishing without a license. I then sprinted to my parents' white Country Squire Ford station wagon with its wooden side panels and flattened myself out in the rear cargo space for fear that I would make eye contact with the boy who was now having a little talk with the game warden.

For months I had nightmarish daydreams that I had caused him to be incarcerated and would embellish that he had been working to support his family at 14 years old and that I was the one who took him away from his poor mother. Yes, I was a weird kid. But not to Grandma Miller.

She never cared that I chewed constantly on my lips or that I was mistaken for a boy until the age of 12 due to my frizzy hair that my parents had to keep so boyishly short in order just to tame it. No, even though I spent most of second grade out in the hall--in time out--for talking, she loved me.

She was a marvelous seamstress, knitter, crocheter and all around crafter. She always wore dresses, nylons and very sturdy pumps with heels two inches wide and two inches high. When she wasn't wearing a large, ornate brooch, she wore homemade beaded necklaces that she treated like treasures, keeping them in a locked jewelry chest in her bedroom. Her face was framed with the softest short gray hair and I loved to watch her pin it tightly in little clips all over her head at night in order to make it curly in the morning. She was only 5 feet tall, tiny and mighty. She was beautiful. And I was the only granddaughter out of her 4 grandchildren.

Grandma Miller took me under her wing, a tiny woman in the making. She would listen to what I had to say, then gently dish out sagely advice, meted out sparingly and with quiet power. Against my will, she made most of my school clothes and, less to my chagrin, knitted me slippers every Christmas. She spent weeks at a time with me in the summer, teaching me how to live while teaching me how to sew and knit. She had unlimited, stoic patience.

I struggled with my sewing and knitting lessons. I couldn't make a seam straight, and I certainly couldn't get the old-school acrylic rug yarn to stay on the needles. Each time, in each situation, my grandmother would just quietly guide me along, most times ignoring my little girl frustration. She would keep telling me to try again. She would say in her very deliberate, slow voice with the slightest German accent, "If a task be great or small, do it well or not at all." I grew weary of hearing it.

I secretly even used to wonder why we were doing this. After all, I really was only doing it to please her. I didn't really want any more clothes that were "homemade."

That was a shameful word to me then, now bringing new shame--and for different reasons--to my mind as I think of it. As a gradeschooler and preteen, I worried that kids at school would notice my non-designer clothing and make remarks; my red hair and freckles already garnered enough negative attention and I just wanted so badly to fit it in invisibly.

I resented the zig-zag finishing stitches on my clothes that were telltale signs of homemadeness and what to me were unusual fabrics--Grandma Miller called them "polyester cotton," while you may know them better today as "just polyester." Most of them had been donated by the countless people she sewed for at no charge. I didn't care where they came from.

I know I complained, but my parents and Grandma Miller were frugal people. I would stand in my grandma's small retirement community galley kitchen and beg for a top made from velour instead of the polyester cotton. She, in turn, would hang up another fold-over sandwich bag, freshly boiled and ready to be reused, and tell me she would try. I would deeply knit my freckly, strawberry blonde brow with the nearly invisible eybrow hairs, not knowing if she knew what I meant.  I struggled along with my attitude troubles and frustrations for several years.

But I kept trying to sew, even though it was hard.

It just seemed like something I was supposed to be doing--maybe because it had been engrained in me for so long. First for myself, then my small children. Gradually, I began to enjoy it. I guess I was slowly beginning to see something that was not fully realized just yet: "Homemade" means more than just being made at home. The word carries a certain deepness with it that comes from the time, effort and love the creator invests. I looked forward to sharing this with my grandmother as I got older, even if the idea was not completely developed in me. But it was not to be.

In 1993 Grandma Miller began having small strokes, and over the next two years, her health failed her completely. She passed away in 1995 when she was 92 and I was 25. Those last few years were precious and important ones. They sealed my understanding of Grandma Miller's ways and attitudes.

I continued sewing and making our family recipe raspberry and grape jellies like she did. And two years ago, my meeting with Mona at our church (see my first ever blog entry) completed the circle with the final addition of knitting to my life. I now can do all the things Grandma Miller did. Well, I don't do them as well as she did, yet. But I can sew Daisy Kingdom dresses for my girls and I can knit Grandma Miller's Christmas slippers. And I do it with the full knowledge of what it means to be making them myself.

Grandma Miller. Born March 30, 1903, she would have just had her 109th birthday last month, had she been alive today. Susanna Miller--with no middle name, the oldest in a line of 8 children born to German immigrants on a farm in North Dakota--she knew what it meant, too. I miss her so.

I now proudly use the word "homemade." Because things that are made at home are made with loving hands. They are beautiful.

Faeries: Blog Week Photography Challenge

The above photo is my submission for the photography challenge on Ravelry during blog week!

I made the hat from Charlene's Lumpy Bumpy yarn and the pattern is from More Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson.

Good luck to all!

Below is the rest of Amy Rose's photo shoot : )

April 17, 2012

10 signs you might have a yarn buying problem

10. Your teenage son comes to you sporting hair on his upper lip and says, "Mom! Check out my stash!" And you reply, "Oh, son! You've started knitting!"

9. You start taking even you favorite clothes to the Goodwill donation center to make more room in your closet for yarn. And you don't miss them.

8. You know the store hours for every LYS in town.

7. You know the store managers' names for every LYS in town.

6. You take the LYS managers out to dinner just to pick their brains about their stores' freight schedules. And to fish for a discount. (You paid and left a big tip, right?)

5. Your favorite bumper sticker is the one you bought for yourself that says, "A real friend distracts your husband while you hide your yarn." And you don't think too hard about the possible implications of that statement.

4. Your family stages an intervention for your yarn buying addiciton.  You knit--while simultaneously shopping for yarn on your Ipad--during the whole meeting, only occasionally mumbling slightly coherent reposnses to their pleas for your health and well-being.

3. You use to have cute little wicker baskets displayed in a cozy corner of your family room to contain your yarn. Now, you have a room full (or several rooms full) of plastic tubs that you shove new purchases into, then jump on the contents of said tubs to compact it and, finally, sit (perhaps with a friend or two) on the lid to snap it shut. And it pops back open the minute you all stand up.

2. You forgo Christmas shopping on Black Friday to instead shop at your favorite LYS's. And yarn's not on sale.

1. The producers of "Hoarders" show up at your house unannounced. And ready to film.

April 16, 2012

Only 10 days left for the giveaway...

If you follow the blog--or do not yet follow the blog--and have not entered to win Laura Irwin's book, Boutique Knits, click on the link to the right of this post (at the top of the column) and check it out!

Please also be sure you have emailed me your name and a valid email address if you have entered to win! I want to be sure to have your name in the proverbial hat! I will destroy all your information after the giveaway ends!

Happy knitting,


April 11, 2012

Beadboard Beach Socks--entry complete!

This afternoon, while sitting in Starbucks, I finished my socks for the Martha Stewart Challenge. Of course, it is my day off, so I had Amy Rose with me and loads of distraction, corraling her and keeping her from breaking things, bumping into people and spilling coffee all over the place. (Other peoples', not hers!)

I came straight home and recruited my husband and son to take some pics for the submission as the sun is so nice on the back of our house at the end of the day. We set up a little photo shoot by the patio door and voila! I am happy. I am also happy that the socks fit into my Danskos. : ) 

I plan on wearing these socks a lot! I even have an itching to make another pair--they are very fast to make, considering that I am not exactly known for my "speed" knitting and I made 2 pairs in 2.5 weeks.

If they do not win in the contest, I will be putting together a pattern, as I kept good notes while knitting.

April 7, 2012

Happy Easter! Say it with food.

This is the best yeast bread recipe
I have made!

Czech/Bohemian Braided Egg Bread - "Houska"

I made this for my family for Easter tomorrow. I made a double batch, which is good, because we can already tell it will be addicting and we have to share it between 12 people tomorrow!!

I got the free recipe at About.com. Here is the specific recipe link.

I omitted the golden raisins and instead minced a large container of candied cherries in my food processor. I added them to the batter instead. I did reserve about a 1/4 cup of the cherries for a glaze, not included in the recipe.

My glaze was about 4 cups of powdered sugar to 4 tablespoons of warm water and the cherries. I brushed it on when the bread first came out of the oven and was VERY hot.

The bread is very slightly pink inside, but is sweet and doesn't taste like the cherries. They add only a very slight and occasional flavor.

Glad I made 4. One for me, 3 for the other 11 people
on Easter.
I have a good friend named Linda who had a few words of wisdom the other day. She said, "You know why middle aged women begin to gain so much weight, don't you?" I looked at her, thinking of all the scientific evidence for weight gain as we age, loss of muscle mass, etc. As I was puzzling over an answer, she interrupted my thoughts. She smiled and said, "By now, we have become so good at cooking that we can't resist our own food!"

Maybe she's right. But, oh! It tastes so good.

Now, if you will excuse me, my coffee is waiting and my bread is still warm. ; )

Happy, blessed Easter, my friends.

So Shines a Good Deed in a Weary World

Annie and the infamous mitts

 The other night, my husband and I had a nice long dinner with a very old friend. You know, the kind of person that knows your life history--and still likes you. These are the people with whom you can share anything and feel comfortable. You can take latitudes that you could not take in other conversations; you can brag a little, tell too-long stories to a willing audience, and you can even talk about negative things, knowing that the receiver of the story will not judge you to be, well, negative. Big picture, that is.

After a little bragging and too-long story telling at dinner the other night with our friend, the conversation took a little negative turn. Everyone started sharing stories of bad customer service. The idea was even floated by some in the room that some younger people today may not be as competent at good customer service as people in days gone by.

For a moment, I briefly, vaguely, remembered my own parents telling these sorts of stories when I was a child. I wondered if judging the young was just part of the aging process.

The stories of rude service went on, each person trying to out-do the others with the next one. The final story, that seemed to crown all the others, was of a very young woman working at a local, very old, Portland bar. The story went that she stood alone behind the bar, texting and looking at her phone while customers waited on her alone to take their orders. The feeling the storyteller conveyed was that she was just too busy with personal things to be bothered with the people that were keeping the business open--thus keeping her job alive. And what about tips? Didn't she need some to pay that texting bill?

Everyone laughed. It was definitely painted as a ridiculous scene, outrageous and the likes of which maybe never to be witnessed again. 

When dinner, drinks, storytelling and catching up were spent, our little group dispersed, going our own ways.


The very next day was the book club meeting at the library for my 12-year-old daughter and me. She always read the monthly book, and I almost never did. But it was a fun activity and we had been doing it for several months. On that particular Tuesday night, I thought it would be fun to get dinner together to extend the evening.

When Annie, my daughter, was very young, we used to go to the local grocery/variety store to get lunch sometimes. They had a little deli there with some tables. She called this "taking a break," and eating there made her feel grown up, as she saw other adults--many of them store employees--eating their lunches in this little area. So we decided that we should "take a break" that Tuesday night before book club, just for fun.

As we approached the deli counter, we saw several people working behind the counter, many of whom I did not recognize. I thought that maybe they had hired some new people. They were mostly male and all of them young. Instantly, I thought of the customer service conversation from the previous night. Just for a moment, I wondered how these young, new boys would do with service. None of them had a cell phone. Check. I laughed to myself for a moment, then I moved to order.

A nice young man, tall and slight with dark hair and brown eyes, maybe just out of high school, said, "Can I help you?" He followed up his question by doing a good job getting our order. He was polite and sweet, even though I could tell he wasn't quite sure where everything was yet. He smiled apolegetically when he took a little too long finding the jo jo potatoes.

We all moved to the cash register so Annie and I could pay--he on his side of the counter, and we on ours. I had my giant knitting bag with me, which also contained my wallet. At the register, I fumbled around in the bag, which I had plopped unceremoniously onto the very small counter. It nearly took up the whole space. The young man smiled and quietly slid our order backwards to accomodate me.  I struggled to find my money, and had to quickly remove my fingerless mitts as they were getting in the way of my crazy digging. Now I was getting embarrassed. At least no one was behind us. I tossed my gloves into my bag and, with freer fingers, finally produced my cash.

We paid and I clumsily removed my big bag. I almost forgot the food. As we said "thank you," I laughed to myself, embarrassed, that I had been worried about the employees. In reality, I would probably be the butt of the lunchroom joke that night, labeled as the crazy older woman with a kid and one of those weird, huge bags of crap.

Annie and I found a table and started eating our dinner.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone approaching. It was the young man from the deli counter. He said, "Excuse me," I looked up, puzzled. "Did you lose this?"

He produced a single fingerless mitt. My favorite Malabrigo mitt. He had no idea how upset I would have been if it were lost. How I would fret over the money and time I had spent on it. It fit perfectly and I would have had to make a new pair, or at least another single mitt. What about the dye lot? Would a new yarn even match the old?

I was speechless. He had sought me out, just to give me a glove. For all he knew, we could have gone shopping elsewhere in the store. He could have assumed that we were long gone and just tossed it in the lost and found. And he didn't have to pay such close attention to what I was wearing--he was clearly focused on us. No self-absorption here.

I looked up at this boy. I reached out for the mitt. All I could say was "Oh! Thank you!" He just turned and left. I sat there, feeling humility. And a restoration of faith.

When the world seems weary, such a good deed really does shine. Yes, indeed.

April 6, 2012

Beadboard Beach Socks: The Final Draft

 My Martha Stewart merino wool came just as scheduled. This allowed me to get right to work on the "real" pair for the Martha Stewart project contest.

It took me 3 evenings and a few stolen daytime hours to complete the final design for this sock.

I decided on cables for every other wide rib, with one going straight down the back like a seam. The instep side has one of the wider ribs to make the top of the foot more comfortable inside a shoe.

These fit really nicely into my Dansko Mary Janes and, as soon as the second sock is done, I will be doing a "photo shoot" for the contest.
The MS wool was surprisingly nice and also had (I believe) surprisingly nice stitch definition. The merino is soft and good to your hands and I enjoyed working with it. It would be nice to see a DK/sport weight in something similar from them, and even a fingering/sock yarn would be nice. I would probably use the brand again, even though I think it is a little expensive compared to similarly mass produced products.

These socks are top down knee highs with a ruffle at the edge, and an "interruption" of shell-lace motif at the top. The cables and ribs are continuous from the top, past the shell panel and down the instep and heel. The calf decreases happen where the twisted knit stitches are brought together and at the edges of the wide rib.

The heel is a 2.5 inch flap with a continuation of the leg cable pattern.  
The toe is a traditional style, with the typical decreases, and is closed at the end using kitchener stitch. I continued the instep pattern down the toe as long as I could, eliminating elements as room was no longer available. I hope I can finish the second one by Sunday, just for peace of mind. The online entries are due next Thursday, April 12th. By midnight. Hope I am not pushing it!