I’ve been all in a kerfuffle since the end of Ravelympics:  life, unfortunately, has come back to remind me that there are other things to do than knit. Like eat, which I do like. And sleep – also like. And get out of bed and go to work. Hmmmmmm. Small things like that.

On the home front, I finally cleaned up my area yesterday after it had been messy – messier than even my usual disorganization – since before vacation. The packing-my-suitcase process leaves my part of the bedroom cluttered because I toss everything on the bed that could be a candidate to pack, then put only those items that make the shortlist into my case (once I’ve had a gander at everything all splayed out), and then remove whatever doesn’t fit (even after sitting on it to get it zipped).

Of course all of the clothes that didn’t make the cut are swept off the bed onto the floor (where the pile is less noticeable from the doorway) and not put away properly – I always pack at the last minute, and therefore there’s no time to straighten – but what does it really matter? We’re leaving town! Who cares if the house is messy?

Oh, Bridge, how I love ya.

Oh, Bridge - how I love ya.

Upon return, you’ll be shocked to hear, it was all still there. In my attempt to make progress in adopting better habits, I “unpacked” within a day of returning (read: dumped case out on top of existing pile and placed empty case in closet). Then it’s back to work busybusybusy and tiredpoopedweary at night and nothing gets put away.  The ramifications:  going to work with wrinkled trousers and a shirt that marginally passes the sniff test.  Very Bridget Jones.  And I love Bridge, but what kind of life is this? Get it together!

So yesterday I did (yeah, and just a shade under a decade, all right). Clothes away or in the laundry, shoes back in the closet, balls of yarn back to the shelf or in a knitting bag, the floor once again in view. I knew there were some bills underneath all that mess, too – lying there dormant, just waiting to pounce on my checkbook once unearthed – and unfortunately I found them. Now all I need to do is pay the people who sent them.

Righty roo – after all that business of cleaning up, I deserved a sit. I had a glass of chilled tea (I prefer “chilled” to “iced” because it’s not your run of the mill Lipton Sun Tea I was enjoying – I decided to get funky with some Celestial Seasonings and stick my wee teapot in the fridge after it had steeped and cooled down a bit so that it would cool down further to reach “chilled”.  With a tea called Goji Berry Pomegranate Green Tea, it just doesn’t seem right to call it “iced tea”).  I put my feet up.  I watched the convention on the telly.

And then – I cast on my second sock of all time.

And why would I be casting this on?

Because I FINISHED MY FIRST SOCK EVER OF ALL TIME.  EVEREVEREVERERERERERER!

True, I did not accomplish the feat of finishing both Braided Cable and Broken Seed socks (plus another pair of Raindrop Lace socks that I had put down on my Olympics to-do list…um, yeah).  In the end it just doesn’t matter.  I’m so stinkin’ proud of that one sock that I’m not at all bothered by missing out on the gold medal.

This is what sockie looked like at the strike of the clock ending closing ceremonies Pacific time:

Needles down!  Progress at end of Olympics

Needles down! Progress at end of Olympics

Not bad, really.  I’d finished the heel flap and just begun my gusset decreases. 

But I could taste victory (easier when it’s on your own terms).  The day before, realizing that the complete pair of socks just wouldn’t get done in time, I’d set the goal of finishing just that one sock by the end of the weekend. 

And I did it!  Yay for me!

Now I know this is small potatoes, really, and that many many people can knit two socks in one day – some while doing cartwheels, composing limericks and at the same time speaking in tongues (with a mouth full of Hubba Bubba to boot).  Yes.  But for me, this is a milestone, so I’m blogging about it.  That’s what bloggers do.

No waiting for good lighting...I couldn't wait to capture my moment of sockful joy.

No waiting for good lighting to take this photo... couldn't wait to share my sockful joy

I do realize this isn’t an actual FO, even though I’m treating it like one.  I’ll come back and FO it up with the full pair very soon. 

In spite of these festivities, or perhaps because of them, I do admit to a bit of second-sock syndrome having set in.  After knitting up a storm over the weekend (and making excellent progress on my knitting callouses as well: middle finger left hand, first finger right hand), I only had one sock, folks.  I mean, come on – who wants to go through all of that again just to end up with the same thing?  The same gorgeous, cozy, pride-enducing, and (arguably most importantly) matching thing?

Well, after a day off the needles – even the most obssessive among us need a break sometimes – I was ready.  Plus, casting on was a great excuse not to go back to cleaning.

At least it’s going faster this time, and it looks better (not as loose at the joints of the dpns).  I think the second-sock syndrome has passed; I’m really chomping to finish this puppy now.  Then I’ll want to finish my Fisherman’s Sweater, which is bulky and as such should wrap up quickly.  Oh, but how I’ve been dreaming of other new and – gasp! – potentially simultaneous projects to cast on!  A few times in the last week I’ve just happened to find myself with some very nice patterns in front of me on a number of fabulous new sites I’ve found.

But more on that later.  I have a whole list of fabulous discoveries that I want to share with you, and I will certainly do just that at my next opportunity to gush.

Looks like I’m having my own Knitapalooza this weekend.

Here’s where I am with my first socks ever:

Now I know it might not look like I’ve gotten very far, but I’ve learned a lot in these couple of inches. And I like the way it’s looking.  And feeling.  Love the texture!

I was inspired by Allison’s comment on my last post about her sock-making experience. I want these to be divine on my feet! And it’s good to know that the 2-circular-needle method is out there, if the double-pointed needles (dpn) don’t end up doing it for me. Although, ironically, once I stopped pouting about the scary pointing-in-every-direction dpns, I went back to using all 5 (instead of just 3), and I’m doing fine, with much less whining.

I’ll also want to try the 2-at-a-time Socks dealio, as outlined by Melissa Morgan-Oakes in the book I bought during vacation (when I was feeling justified in being quite good to myself). Haven’t cracked it open yet, but maybe I’ll try my Raindrop Lace socks using this method.

Yes, I’m resigned to the fact that I’m not going to get all of my Ravelympics projects done by the end of the closing ceremonies, which will end by 9AM my time tomorrow morning (if I’ve done my math correctly). But that’s OK – I’m totally OK with this. I’m into some good momentum now with my socks, and I’m glad for the new skills. If I can finish the first sock in the pair of Braided Cable and Broken Seed socks by the end of the weekend, I’ll be happy. The two FOs of the Olympics for me will remain the Little Girl’s Shrugs I made for the niecies, which I was soooo happy with.

Speaking of, Sissy B texted me this phone snap yesterday:

I just want to scoop them up.

I just want to scoop them up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Honestly, is this not the cutest thing you ever did see?  I can’t imagine a happier place for those two little shrugs to be.

Back at ya after the last curtain of the Olympics.

Oh my heavens, I’ve been itching to get this blog out for the last two weeks. 

I’ve just returned from vacation with my extended family, which was truly wonderful – I spent a lot of time with actual people (instead of my laptop).  This is, I suppose, the point of taking a vacation with one’s family.   No matter how much one’s laptop is clearly jealous – sitting right there on the coffee table, whimpering in neglect and beckoning with the sweet, glowing ember of its power indicator – family (at least a fun one) beats computer.

Frankly, however, now that I’m again surgically attached to the internet, I’m giddy with delight.  I’ve been busting to share my Ravelympics progress. 

I’d heard about the Knitting Olympics before, and had seen shiny little medals adorning a few knitting blogs, but I was a bit in the dark as to what it all meant.  Obviously it wouldn’t take a brain surgeon to find out; but alas, laziness had won out over curiosity.  And, to be honest, I was a little frightened of the unknown:

  • What kind of project was required for this?
  • How would achievement be measured?  Would someone show up at my door to inspect my stitching?
  • Would there be actual physical activity required? 

(pause to catch breath)

  • Would there be a uniform involved?  Something without adequate coverage in the upper thigh area?
  • Would I be flogged if I let the team down?
  • Would sleep deprivation be involved?

On that last one, I did kind of hope I’d be pressured into knitting into the wee hours for days on end.  I’ll take all the help I can get when it comes to justifying knit-time.  If I took part in the Olympics, it wouldn’t be just me obsessing over my knitting, but, in fact, me and my country in our quest for the gold.

So I checked it out.  I found that the Knitting Olympics, as initiated years ago by The Yarn Harlot, is held only every 4 years in alignment with the Winter Olympics, and that Stephanie Pearl-McPhee wouldn’t be leading a Knitting Olympics for this summer.  Ah, stink.

But – shocker! – I didn’t have to look much further to find that Ravelry was all over it.  The first ever Ravelympics was kicking off very soon, apparently.  Maybe because the actual Olympics were going to kick off?  Still a bit suspicious, I landed on gloriana’s post and read about her taking the plunge, and I was jolted into action.  I marched over to Ravelry, figured out the rules (clicking on big obvious links called “Ravelympics” does tend to clear things up), and decided quickly on the following projects:

  1. Niece gifts – I was inspired by gloriana’s niecie motivation, and conveniently, I’d recently found a pattern that would work well for both of my girls in their almost-3- and almost-1-year-old sizes.  The challenging part of these two projects would be not so much in technique, but in knocking them out quickly.  No dilly-dallying.  This is war, Peacock.
  2. Socks! – This was the project coming to mind that most closely fit on the “challenge” element of the Ravelympics call to action.  I’ve lurked around blog posts with people cooing over socks for a while, but I’d never dipped my toe in that water.  I decided I’d try it.  Secretly I hoped that I’d get hooked and start cranking out socks with the same glee I’ve so enviously observed.

The patterns:

  1. Little Girl’s Shrug
  2. Braided Cable & Broken Seed sock
  3. Raindrop Lace Socks

Little Girl’s Shrug

Casco Bay Worsted, 100% cotton

I picked up the Little Girl’s Shrug pattern at The Yarn Lounge in Richmond, Virginia, where I found myself a few weeks ago after passing through on business and visiting my dear friend Kimlee.  I loved The Yarn Lounge – I lingered for a loooong while and chatted with the lovely Melanie, not only about knitting but also about the indisputable merits of wine and cheese (oh, yummy).  I also picked up the perfect light summer cotton yarn for my two niece projects – on deep discount!  Purple for Maizy, pink for E-dot.

On my way back through D.C. a couple days after that, I stopped in at Knit Happens in Alexandria.  This LYS (Local Yarn Store) popped up on my radar after I found out about the Stefanie Japel design workshop they are sponsoring there the first weekend in November, just prior to her launch of Glam Knits.  I was gung-ho to splurge on a trip out to attend this workshop, but over the last couple weeks I’ve chickened out.  What if I can’t keep up?  Here comes that junior-high dodge-ball team-picking feeling again.

Neighborhood Fiber Co., Studio Worsted;

Neighborhood Fiber Co., Studio Worsted

Anyway, I drooled all over their yarn at Knit Happens and ended up walking away with a locally made yarn in a pretty deep purple variegated hue.  It may have helped that the sample knit for this yarn on display was designed by already-on-the-brain Knitting Pure and Simple, the maker of my Little Girl’s Shrug pattern.  This was a baby cardigan (pattern, incidentally, available free for download here), which in the store was modified to have buttons instead of ties as pictured on the website as linked above.  It was so darn cute I shelled over 13 smackers for 98 yards of the yarn they made it with.

Socks.  Well.  I happened to come across another couple of patterns at So Much Yarn the following week in Seattle (yes, I do get around), which was a shop recommended to me by knitsurg (the creator of a va-va-voom version of Stefanie Japel’s Orangina) on Ravelry.  Words can’t say how much fun I had in So Much Yarn, but of course I’ll give it a shot.  Beautiful, beautiful yarns, in a huge space, with lovely displays and a nice big table and workspace in back to peruse possible purchases and crunch the numbers on yarn yardage.  After meandering around in my comfort zone for a while (my comfort zone being just about everything except the sock yarn category), I broke down and asked for assistance in picking a good starter pattern and fiber for my Ravelympics sock project.  Theresa was very sweet and pointed me in the right direction in picking up the Braided Cable & Broken Seed Sock pattern, which has a lot of nice detail on techniques like the Kitchener stitch, and was designed by Lauren Lindeman, the owner of the shop.  I also picked up the pattern for Raindrop Lace Socks, which I liked a lot and decided to go for as an additional Ravelympics goal, in spite of Theresa’s concerned looks and comment that these socks might be “a little too advanced”.  Hmmmm.  I still think I can do it.

So – the update!  Boy, it took me a while to get to this part.


Cozy cardi

Before the button

Pattern #1, the Little Girl’s Shrug, I’m happy to report has yielded 2 FOs!  As I was with Maizy over my vacation, I hand-delivered her light purple cropped cardi, and my heart melted at her delight.  She strutted around saying how much she liked it, telling me once more for the road before she headed out at the end of our vacation, “Actually, Amy, I still really like this.”

Didn’t quite plan ahead with the button, so the purple sparkly number I picked out is going in the mail to her mom, along with the second FO, the pink one, for E-dot.  My flying fingers couldn’t quite finish off the arms on hers in time to give it to her before we parted ways.

Anyhoo, I really do like the way they turned out. 


front

The yarn, Casco Bay Worsted, was light and springy like the sample that sold me in the store.  Melanie at The Yarn Lounge told me there was no reason these couldn’t go in the washing machine.  Probably OK to machine dry as well, although there may be some shrinkage. 


back

I knit both shrugs on US 5 circular needles, with the tiny bit of arm ribbing completed on US 2 double-pointed needles.  The final fabric was soft and slightly textured to the touch.  I blocked each of these, but the purple one wasn’t quite finished at the time I declared it dry enough to let Maizy wear, so it could use a little more blocking to help the lace border, which I opted to use instead of plain ribbing on the body, lay nice and flat.

First ever cast-on for a sock

First ever cast-on for a sock

Pattern #2, the Braided Cable & Broken Seed sock, is in progress.  I admit to initial palpitations, as I had anticipated, working with all five US 2 double-pointed needles in my newly-purchased set per the pattern’s instructions.  It took me a while to get started, but I forged ahead, Helen

The picture on the right shows how far I got after over 2 hours of earnest work…yeah, not too far.  But immediately after I took that photo I made the decision to lose two of the needles.  Three was enough to comfortably get around the circumference of the sock, and it was much less of a headache.

I knit a bit more on the flight back from the Midwest where we were visiting family, but not a lot more because I had a happy and unexpected distraction – Lish, my aforementioned BFF, was on the same flight as me back to California, as she too had been back home for the weekend.  I didn’t know this until I saw her at the airport, at which time I was very pleased (and also feeling quite fancy and cosmopolitan with the bumping-into-of fabulous people in airports).  Hooray for happy coincidences and for cross-country airplane chats.

Right – for Ravelympics, it’s clear I’ll need to get my booty in gear to get through both socks (and at least start on my Raindrop socks, for pete’s sake) before the closing ceremonies.  I’m up for it.  I’m juiced at my progress so far.  There may be a lot left to do, but there’s nothing like pushing yourself in the name of knitting.  Stay tuned.