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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My First Socks

Okay, so most of you know that I am a newbie knitter and that Lila and I took a Mother-Daughter knitting class from our friend Susan (who also weaves baskets) this past spring.  I knit a couple of scarves one of which was basically a long row of different blocks knit in  patterns which I found in "A Treasury of Knitting Patterns" by Walker (which I found at the goodwill) and "Learning to Knit Visually" which is the resource book that I use when I'm stumped by something in a pattern.  Which is often.  When I'm stumped by the answers in the book, I go to Susan or another knitter.  Which is often.

So, after the scarves and a few dishcloths, I was feeling emboldened to try something I figured would scare the bejesus out of me and either turn me into a "real" knitter or send me sternly back to my spinning wheel.  Socks.

I found some lovely sock yarn by Paton in varied shades of green, brown and grayish.  I had some idea of knitting these socks for my dear friend Kristie's birthday, which was three weeks around the corner.  Now there were a few fatal flaws in this logic:  1.  Kristie's birthday was three weeks away.  2. I have never knit a pair of socks before.  3. Who would give their best friend their first pair of socks?  4.  Did I mention that her birthday was a mere three weeks away? So, I started these socks in April. 

Well, I finished that first sock pretty darn quick!  Yes, there were some issues- mostly with accidental increases but I figured out what I was doing wrong fairly quickly.  No I didn't go back and rip them out.  Let them be reminders of mistakes made and lessons learned.  Battle scars.  Turning the heel wasn't as scary as I had heard it to be, but there were confusing directions about picking up stitches along the gusset...I had to ask for help.  There were too many stitches to end up with the number I was supposed to have on my needles.  That's when the enlightenment came- I was told you can just pick up the number you need along the gusset to get the correct can CHEAT at knitting!  That was a liberating discovery let me tell you!  WHY didn't the book just say that??

So I was feeling rather proud and a bit cocky at my first sock and ventured into the world of bragging to show it off.  My feeling of accomplishment was quickly doused by the many people naysayers who said "Ya, well where is the second sock?"  As if knitting one sock was no accomplishment at all!!!  I quickly learned of the dreaded "Second Sock Syndrome (SSS)".  I've found that SSS is akin to leaving University with your field research under your belt, your graduate classes taken and passed with flying colors, but your thesis unwritten.  All for naught until you sit down, write that tome and get grilled by the inquisition your graduate research committee and have that leather bound volume gathering dust on your bookshelf (which is where mine resides).

Well, May rolled along and we are well into Teva season even here in the UP.  There is no hurry after all to finish a pair of wool socks that won't be worn until September.  I did cast on to my beloved size 3 DPN's and quickly whipped up the ribbed cuff, and my knitting bag followed me wherever I went most of the summer.  I managed a few rows here and there and finally got to the reinforced heel.  On a conference call last month I turned the heel, which was promptly ripped out because I can't count, listen and talk at the same time. 

Then- last night I did it.  Finished the second sock. Learned  that you don't have to use the Kitchner stitch if you do a three needle bind off, which is less confusing.  Wove in my ends (and discovered I really need to leave them longer).  And, Voila- a pair of socks.  Which I will wear and waggle in the face all those naysayers who thought I'd never finish.  Hopefully the second pair will go quicker....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Silence is Deafening

This is an email I received from my brother in law Danny.  He's a bit of a smarty pants but we love him anyway! 

"So, we know by the last ancient blog entry that you didn’t fall off the face of the earth, while in New Hampshire, however have you fallen into a sink hole since returning there in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The silence is deafening."

So- what have we been doing anyway?  I can talk about a couple of things now, and save a few for another post SOON (soon, Danny, soon).

Harvesting the garden has been right up there on the list of must do's.  We had a frost last week so scrambled to get in the basil and peppers and pick the cukes.  The tomatoes that were ripe were canned and/or frozen as sauce, bruchetta in a jar, and salsa.  Duncan had some awesome yellow cherry tomatoes in his garden that also went to the local farmers market and put a few bucks in his pocket (that he spent already on books).  One more batch of Bruchetta and sauce left to go I think.  We also learned that sheep and goats like green tomatoes.  Will is always slipping Chunk, our elderly ewe a few and she follows him as he moves along the fence line.  He is her hero and she always blah baaahs him when he comes outside.

The basil was just awesome this year!
Everyone helped strip the leaves off of the stems.  Most of it was dried and two half pints chopped and blended with olive oil to keep in the fridge.  Most of it gets slathered onto pizza dough as we have homemade pizza every Friday and watch a family movie.  Last week it was "Rio".  This week "Hoodwinked- Too".  No grown up movies until after bed.
Last Saturday, part of my spinning group the "Eweper Spinners and Weavers" were invited to give a demonstration at the Marquette Farmers Market.  Will and the kids and I drove seperately from the rest of the group and they toured the market and greater Marquette while I sat and demonstrated my drum carder and spun.  It is a really nice farmers market.  Scored some homegrown Portabellas (the nice small kind instead of the giants) that will go on this Friday's pizza.  We also bought some Chocolate bread (it really was bread made with cocoa and dark chocolate chips), and sourdough baguettes.  The Leeks that I bought were made into Potato-Leek soup and consumed that weekend.
Carol is warping her rigid heddle loom and Roberta demonstrating the drop spindle.  The small loom in the front was available for folks to try out, and most of the weaving done by a young lad the age of 12, who is knitting his father a scarf!  Karen Valley's table of woolen goodies and luscious yarn is in the background.
Will is wrapping up the field work he did on the Ottawa National Forest this summer, in addition to tackling a big community project that is a big deal for the school.  He procured the timbers for the construction earlier this spring.  We are pretty proud of him for volunteering to do this project.  This was in todays local newspaper "The Newberry News"!  (sorry about the photo quality- I had to scan it- if you click on it it will get bigger).
Lila and I head downstate on Saturday to go to the "Northern Michigan Lamb and Wool Festival" which only is in Northern Michigan if you live in the way southern lower peninsula.....