Sunday, August 30, 2009

Blue Ribbon Socks!

Way back in July I finished these Dragon Breath socks out of Malabrigo in Persian colorway:

Last month our knitting group started talking about entering our knitting in the state and county fairs, after seeing what a dearth of knitting was entered back in July in the county fair. I didn't have a whole lot of different things finished, but I figured I could save my Malabrigo socks for the fair enter those at least.

I just got back from my Bend excursion and Helen (BlueDragon on Ravelry) called from the Oregon State Fairgrounds to say that my socks won a blue ribbon! Hoorah! I haven't been to the fair yet, so all I have is this picture she sent via her iPhone:

If you peer past the glare on the glass, you can kinda see them. I put them on sock blockers to show off the pattern better. Wonder if that helped? It does make them display nicely in the case.

Years ago I used to enter things in the State Fair. Sometimes there was an entry fee, sometimes not, some years winners got a few dollars in cash, some years not. I thought it'd be a hoot to give it a go again. Blue ribbon on the first try!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Happy belated Blogiversary to meee... and winners!

After all my blogiversary build-up, I can't believe I failed to post on the very day! It's been a year of fibery blogging, and still going strong, I think.

And now for the moment everyone has been waiting for... the winners of the stitch marker giveaway!

The Neko kitty stitch markers go to:
And now for the grand prize, the glass and sterling ducky stitch markers go to....
Many thanks to all who played, all followers here and on Twitter, and to everyone who reads my ramblings.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Around the Bend

Sunday I drove up and over the mountains for three hours to arrive in Bend, Oregon, for a science teaching workshop. I'm part of a grant project to help Bend elementary teachers learn more about sciences and improve their techniques for teaching science. This is the second year of the two-year program, so teachers are returning for their second summer workshop. Besides face-to-face monthly meetings, they're also getting online instruction in science using really cool SciPacks from the NSTA (National Science Teachers Association) Science Store. As the PI (principal investigator) and university liaison on the grant, I don't have a lot of instruction to do. The teacher mentors and our project director are doing most of the work. A little under-desk knitting is already going on (hee!), as well as evening knitting curled up with my laptop tuned into streamed movies from Netflix.

My photo library is on a separate hard drive that I left at home (as it has my backed up files on it), so if I can open another library on this drive, I'll get some pictures up of some of the gorgeous sights. For now, check out some pictures of Drake Park where I've been taking my morning and evening walks, here, here, and here.

Even though the MapQuest map bore no resemblance to reality, I found my way to Gossamer Knitting last night. I wanted some Addi Turbo needles, and before trying to buy them off of the web, knowing that I was coming to Bend, checked out whether any of the stores carried Addis. It's a good thing I've been there before, or I'd never have found it using MapQuest.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A sock of my own design

I've knit five whole pairs of socks now. And already I'm trying to design a pair.

You'd think I'd stick with the traditional top-down, slip-stitch heel, pick a stitch pattern from a book and go with it kind of sock design.

Heck no.

I'm borrowing from the Riverbed architecture in Cat Bordhi's New Pathways book. And I haven't knitted a Riverbed sock yet. I'm applying a stitch pattern called "sand" from a vintage stitch pattern book. Not sure what the heel will look like yet.

Over-confident much?

Aw, nothing ventured, nothing gained. We'll see how Sand in My Socks comes out. Here it is at the start. The yarn is Poem Sock by Wisdom Yarns. A bit thick 'n thin for my tastes, but the colors are nice.

If it comes out well, I'll post the pattern.

"Friday" finds

I forgot to post these yesterday. A few interesting tidbits from around the innernets:
  • Check out this "new," or newly discovered, or at least newly discovered to the general knitting world beyond its lucky owner, Elizabeth Zimmerman sweater with interesting detailing on the sleeves. Can't wait for the pattern to come out!
  • The FTC has come out with a statement about "bamboo" fabrics. While there's been much discussion on Ravelry about rayons made from bamboo, the labels on yarn and fabric often don't clearly say that "bamboo" is rayon. It's not (as I first thought when I saw "bamboo" yarn for the first time) linen-like bast fibers from the bamboo stems, but the labels don't say "rayon made from bamboo." Sounds like the FTC may require some truth in labeling. Not that "bamboo" isn't lovely fiber, but when it's touted as "green" fiber simply because it was originally plant-based (before it was ground up, chemically treated, and the cellulose extracted and extruded) then we're edging into shady territories that the FTC gets testy about.
  • What a great tool if you're a chart-based knitter and have a stitch pattern that is written out: Knitting Chart Generator. It's a little laborious to type in all the stitches, but hey, it's free!
  • How about some felted fiber rocks for your desk? Or for a pincushion? Or to throw at the gum-cracking cubicle rat next door?
  • Would you like to help knit a poem?
  • Check out these wee bitty knitted dollhouse things in (let me recheck the spelling here) Lia Hougenhout's poppenhuis en miniaturen wereled.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Blogiversary Celebration! With prizes!

Y'know, it's been almost a year since I started this blog. August 26th is my blogiversary. In celebration of such a momentous event, I've decided, in the spirit of blatant self-promotion, to do a little giveaway.

Here's how it's going to work. I've made four pairs of these cute little Neko kitty stitch markers:

They're polymer clay beads I found at a local bead shop and embellished with some blue aurora beads. The flexible steel wire loops are large enough to accommodate at least 9mm (US size 13) needles.

I'll give one pair away to a lucky winner randomly drawn from each of these four groups: Everyone who between now and midnight August 26 (Pacific Standard Time)...
  1. a message I'll send out about my blogiversary on Twitter (EDIT: be sure @HissyStitch is in the retweet so I can track all the RTs),
  2. now or signs up to Follow me on Twitter (and is clearly a knitter!),
  3. now or signs up to Follow me on Blogger (and likewise is clearly a knitter),
  4. ...posts a message on their own blog and leaves a comment here pointing back to their post (if you don't have a blog, a knitting message board will do).
Out of all those "entries," I'll pick one winner for the grand prize of these adorable ducky stitch markers:

These are lampwork glass duckies, with one 12 mm ring on top for larger needles and a 6 mm ring for tiny sock needles. The rings, wire, and metal beads are all sterling silver.

In full disclosure, I'm planning on opening an Etsy shop later in August or early September for selling knitting accessories, such as stitch markers, and I'll make occasional posts and tweets about new listings. Key word is occasional.

So let the blogiversary party begin!

FO: "brainless" no more!

Done at last!

My "brainless" socks were on pause while we flew off to Indiana, since I didn't want to risk losing my expensive Addi Turbo circulars in security. Two other pairs of socks later, I'm back to finishing "brainless."

One thing I ended up doing differently from the pattern is I thought the twisted rib stitch was supposed to be throughout the entire leg. It wasn't -- it was for the cuff only. The twist makes the ribbing bias, so now the whole leg biases, alas. A little annoying, but nothing that will make the sock unwearable.

Love the color. It's Blurple from Three Fates Knitting, kettle-dyed blue/purple blend. Lovely and soft. (Psst... there's still another skein in stock!)

One thing about sock knitting is that it really can become addictive. As I finished "brainless," I wasn't thinking, "What's my next project?" but rather, "What's my next sock?" Really, socks are so portable and knit up so quickly that they're the candy of the knitting world. Or maybe the potato chips -- you can't knit just one pair. (As for knitting just one sock, well, we've all heard of the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome.)

However, I do have some skeins of linen in my stash that I'd picked up long ago, thinking I'd make a vest or something. I thought it would make good summer knitting, since we're in a second heat wave and while I'd like to be working on Twist and Shout, it's too hot to have a pile of alpaca in my lap. I haven't found a pattern that I liked for a linen vest or shrug, and there's not enough for even a short-sleeved sweater, but this pattern for a market bag in Bag Style seemed like a good fit:

I've got enough of the linen yarn to make two. Sweet -- I'll look totally stylish at the Farmer's Market. I can already predict the conversation: "Where did you get that bag? You made it? Really? Wow, you could make and sell those and make a lot of money!" Ah-hah. Ah-hah. Ah-hahahahahahaaaa! Yeah.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Another look at that silk...

I should have put something in for a size comparison, but bear in mind that this is a cute little 1/2 ounce (14 g) skein of spun silk. I think it came out rather nice:
And a close up:
A bit of thick 'n thin going on there, but that's kind of the nature of spinning with silk hankies. There will be slubs and sticky bits.

Pssst... there are hints I might get a spinning wheel for Christmas. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear...

...but you can make silk yarn from a silk hankie:

That's one 1/2 ounce stack of silk hankies that I bought at Sock Summit and started spinning on the spot. Today I finished spinning and plying, washed it, and hung it up to dry with the spindle as a weight to help set the twist.

Out of that 1/2 ounce I got about 125 yards of what I think is about laceweight, though the thickness varies quite a bit. What doesn't show in this shot is the marled colors, since the original hanky was dyed pink and purple.

Knitty has a great tutorial on spinning silk hankies. The hankies and spindle I bought at Sock Summit came from Royal Hare. Woodland Woolworks carries 1 ounce hankies, both pre-dyed and undyed.

Now to figure out what to make from the fiber. I'm thinking it might be just enough for a lacy triangular scarf.

Basement remodel: Part 1 finished!


All the dark wood paneling is bright shiny white now. Looks a WHOLE lot lighter and more inviting than before. We also undid the lower shelf and put it up higher. It was pretty low to be functional. Ignore the warping in the boards. The "handyman" who lived in this house before us made them himself and like everything else he did, they're a little cockeyed. I'd rather use them then have to dispose of and replace them, so we'll live with the slight warp.

Next steps: Clear out things to be thrown out, move stuff around, and paint the blank wallboard walls. Also get my hands on some white wainscot to go on the walls.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Welcome, Sasha!

Back in May we had Shower #1 and Shower #2 for our Stephania.

Tuesday before Sock Summit, little Sasha arrived!

Mama, Papa, and baby came to knitting this afternoon. Besides happiness and a slight dazed look, what I see most in Stephania's expression is relief! Yay, baby's here! (Love the little socks that say "new baby" on the bottom.)

Josh looks like a proud, adoring Daddy, doesn't he?

Little Sasha gets to grow up in a world of hand knits, surrounded by all these loving "aunties." What more could a baby ask for?

Be sure to check out Stephania's Etsy shop, Three Fates Knitting, for splendid sock yarn and roving.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Remodeling with a paint brush

In all the time we've owned our house (over ten years now), the rec room in the daylight basement has been underused except as a place to put the exercise equipment and pile up odds and ends of things that have no other place. The room was an obvious remodel job of what was probably a more open basement area, that was carved up into a laundry/furnace room, the rec room with a sliding door to the outside (installed backwards -- typical for the last owners before us), and a large room that became my son's room.

The room has a very dated early 70's look with lots of this dark paneling:

Which left the hallway to the stairs and the garage looking dark and gloomy, with paneling on one side and unfinished drywall on the other. This shot doesn't look so bad, but when looking down the stairs it's like looking in a cave. I realize that was kind of the point with the 70's rec room look. One wall is even plumbed, like someone had a wet bar down here at one time.

It may have been all the fashion at one time, but I'm tired of all the dark wood in the house. I wanted to do something different with it. Tear out the paneling? I wasn't sure what I'd find underneath, and I'd have all that old paneling to dispose of. Putty and wallpaper over it? Maybe, but for all that work, I might as well rip out the paneling first, and then I'd still have paneling to dispose of. Overlay with new veneer? It might look nice. Or it might not.

Paint? Can you paint over paneling? Turns out you can. I wasn't crazy about examples I saw on the web using colors, but plain white over textured paneling looked really good.

First you have to prep the wall by scrubbing it with a wall cleaner like TSP and some steel wool to rough up the shiny finish. Then you paint it with a water-based bonding primer formulated for slick surfaces before painting with the final color. This is how the hallway looks after two coats of primer:

And here are how my feet look after two coats of primer (not to mention my hands, arms, and even my face):

I still have another wall of paneling (and two unfinished pine book shelves) to prime, then I paint. I'm thinking of using white with just a touch of lemon yellow, just enough to warm it up but it will still look white. The bare walls are going to be primed and painted, too, possibly a light aqua blue, and I'll add white wainscot if I can afford it. Then I move the junk out and my sewing and craft stuff in and the rec room is going to be my new craft room. Yippee!

FO: Coriolis socks

They are done!
The Spiraling Coriolis socks from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters are done! In these pictures you can almost see the spiral, but mostly you see the Berroco Sox self-patterning yarn. What you can't see is that I ripped out the heel on the second sock twice because I kept messing up. The first time I forgot to add the extra "wing" stitches before starting the heel. The second time I put the heel on the wrong side, so the spiral went under the sole of the foot. The third time I put my Turkish Eye bead stitch markers on the needles to ward off the evil eye, and knit merrily up the heel.

I had my doubts about the Berroco Sox. It was kind of coarse and scratchy, but I thought perhaps it was due to excess dye from the pattern stamping process. Indeed, when I washed the finished socks (after tacking down one dropped stitch on each -- shhh, no one will notice), a whole lot of excess dye came out in the wash and the socks softened right up.

Hanging out to dry, my fancy new socks!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Day at Sock Summit 2009

I didn't manage to get past the Great Server Meltdown and 30-Second Class Grab, and completely forgot to sign up for the class lottery, but since I live but an hour's drive from Sock Summit, what excuse is there not to go? Several of us from the Salem Area Ravelers group dashed up to Portland yesterday and had a fiberlicious time of it.

Here is my one and only brush with celebrity fame at Sock Summit: a drive-by snapshot of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee signing an autograph while dashing off to a class:

But there were thousands of other great, if not famous, knitters to chat with over lunch. At our table alone we had one local knitter (me), two from Alberta, one from Amsterdam, and a couple others from various parts of the U.S. (and my own Coriolis sock in the foreground):

A glimpse from the eating area toward the Marketplace -- the biggest freaking yarn store in the WORLD, with something over 400 vendors, including local yarn stores, tons of indie dyers, spindle makers, vintage tool dealers, and more:

Everyone had a chance to contribute some work toward making the world's largest sock (see the BigSock blog for more info):

There was also the sock museum, with reproductions of some ancient socks, and some beautiful vintage and antique socks, some made with incredibly fine yarn at teeny-tiny gauge:

There were free demos, like this one for felting with Artfelt paper (super easy):

Some of the gang assembles for some quiet decompression time after the overwhelming temptations of the Marketplace -- Janita, Nanci, Mia, and Katie:
I picked up a new toy! I found some gorgeously dyed silk hankies and picked up two. They were calling out to be spun, so I found an inexpensive spindle and dove right in (Knitty has a tutorial on spinning silk hankies) (oh, and that t-shirt sports Veruca, the mascot of the Selfish Knitters Group on Ravelry):

After the Marketplace closed, we piled into cars and headed over to the World Forestry Center for the great Ravelry Meetup. There were swag bags for the first 350 arrivals, each with a skein of Berroco worsted in random colors:

Look at all those Ravelers in one place!

It was our Katie's birthday (yes, we have several Katies in the group). She got her own brush with celebrity fame with this birthday shot with the Ravelry team: Casey, Jess, our Katie, Sarah, and Mary-Heather (each of them bestowed with one of my Oregon stitch markers to say thanks for the party):

This is what I came home with. Did I not show admirable restraint? Besides an official Sock Summit 2009 t-shirt and button, and the silk hankies and spindle at the bottom, I picked up yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Happy Hands Yarn (in the A River Runs Through colorway, their entry into the Dye for Glory contest), Three Fates Knitting, Teresa Ruch Designs (that's a tencel yarn, which will probably become a shawlette), and the freebie Berroco Vintage Wool:

Edison likes the t-shirt, and would have happily played with the rest of the swag if I'd let him:

I'm hearing that the next Sock Summit, if it is to be, will be in Toronto and will be perhaps two years from now. It's a bit much to expect this to happen every year. Besides, I'm not sure my budget could handle that, and I can only knit so fast. I guess I'd better start saving for Toronto now!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Letter to the Cat Killers

Last Tuesday was National Night Out, where police departments everywhere encourage people to organize block parties. Police liaisons come to visit and talk about safety and crime prevention, neighbors meet one another, and folks can volunteer for a neighborhood watch.

So we went, met many neighbors we know by sight but seldom talk to, got to tour a house that someone just bought and is remodeling, and ate more cookies that were good for me.

During the conversation, someone brought up how many cats there are in the neighborhood. There are certainly a number of strays, and there is a wooded area where cats get abandoned from time to time. Several people in the neighborhood know that we've caught and spayed all the stray "girls" in the neighborhood, taken in kittens and starving dumped kitties, and have found homes for some.

The newish neighbors a few houses down said they'd been trapping strays and had caught "a lot." I mentioned that we were missing one stray, Bruiser, that we'd been taking care of and hoped to get neutered this summer. The guy of the house said quite cheerfully, "Oh, he met his end in our yard."

Gah. Shock. I was speechless.

His wife interrupted with, "Oh, um, he went to a better home."


When we came back from Indiana, there were signs up for a missing black cat who still hasn't been found. The owner was at this meeting, and she said that three of her neighbors were also missing their cats. All live in the vicinity of the cat-trappers, and all cats have gone missing about the same time.


I was too upset to say anything civil at the time, but I spent the last couple of days composing a letter in my head, and finally wrote it out this morning and taped it to their front door.

I was too shocked and upset to say anything worth saying when, at the neighborhood gathering, you told us that Bruiser, one of the strays we’d been caring for, had “met his end” in your yard. I’ve had to think long and carefully about how to word this to make this letter productive instead of merely angry.

We’ve had many strays come through our yard in the years we’ve been here. Whenever we can, we catch and spay or neuter them and give them any medical attention they need. We’ve taken in kittens, found a home for at least one abandoned cat, and keep on the lookout for others that need our help.

In the process we’ve gotten attached to several that have kept close to our yard. Some have gotten sick passed away. Some have simply disappeared.

We’d been working with Bruiser for some time now. He slept in a box or a bed on our deck in cold weather, and kept the rats and mice around the yard in check as well as chasing away any other toms that tried to move in. He’d just reached the point where he was beginning to trust us. We could scratch him behind the ear now and then. Since he was in our yard more and more, we were going to catch him this summer and get him fixed and get his injured face cleaned up.

Now he is dead. We will miss the old fellow very much.

There are two others in the neighborhood that we hope you will not mistake for cats worthy of execution. They are both spayed females, neither of whom can possibly contribute to the cat “problem” in the neighborhood, and who aren’t harming anyone at all.

One is a chubby tortoiseshell named Toast. She gave birth to kittens in our back yard two years ago. At that time we caught her, took in her kittens, and had her spayed. The vets clipped the tip of one ear to show that she has been “fixed.” Ever since that time she has stayed close to our yard and our closest neighbors’ yards. She is our outdoor pet now, and our neighbors enjoy her as well. We can pet her when we feed her, she wanders in and out of the house, and we take care of her medical needs.

The other is a very shy girl that we don’t have a picture off. Three years ago we trapped and spayed a young gray tabby with white on all four paws. We call her Little White Paws. She tends to hide in the far corners of people’s yards, but comes up to our deck for food. We also consider her to be ours. She also has a clipped ear to mark her as spayed.

Something else came up at the neighborhood gathering that concerned me very much. In addition to the black cat that disappeared that everyone is looking for, at least three other pet cats in the same area have vanished. They disappeared about the same time Bruiser vanished, meaning they went missing at the time you were trapping cats. Are you sure that every cat you trapped was a stray? Not every cat without a collar is homeless, unloved, and deserves to die. We hope you have not caused yourself a great deal of legal trouble.

If you don’t want cats in your yard, please consider installing cat-proof fencing (such as as a humane alternative to trapping and killing.

Folks, if you have a stray cat issue in your area, please consider TNR (trap, neuter, release) as a means of control. It's more humane and much more effective than trap-and-kill programs, especially if it's followed with feeding and care that will draw in other cats that can also be caught and fixed. If you don't like cats in your yard, fences that exclude cats, or motion-detector sprinklers, are more humane and cause far less heartache than trapping and "getting rid of" cats that just might belong to someone.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Happy Birthday! Ice cream! Wizards! Noodles! Cows!

Hard to believe that it's been 21 years since this young man came into the world:

We went up to Portland yesterday to take my son James and his girlfriend Nicole to lunch to celebrate James' 21st birthday. So what did we do? Bar hop? Definitely not... James made reservations for Mama Mia's, a lovely little Italian cafe for lunch.

Then bar hop? Heck no. The Tillamook company was commemorating 100 years in the dairy industry with a celebration in Pioneer Courthouse Square, a few blocks from the restaurant, and James wanted to go there for ice cream and cheese. We rode the Max light rail (free in the downtown area) the short distance, then stood in line for our free Tillamook ice cream (they were taking donations for a local homeless shelter). We tossed bean bags and won Tilly the Cow toys, and spun a wheel for prizes. Nicole scored the biggest by winning a cheese slicer.

Then bar hop? Heavens, no. We went back to their apartment to open presents, then went to see the new Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Half-Baked Plot... er Half-Blood Prince. It was very well done, and fully as dark as the book. By then it was dinner time, so we went to Noodles, which was in the same mall as the movie theater. Yum, yum! Now that's doing fast food right!

Now, I know very well that James is planning to join some of his old buddies from his Boy Scout days and some new friends on Sunday to go... bar hopping? Naw. They're going up to Mt. Hood Skibowl to go "sledging" on the 1/2 mile alpine slides, which James' troop did every year (click the movie reel picture to see a video of the action). Wheee, looks like fun!

If there's any alcohol involved in James' 21st birthday weekend, he hasn't told me about it. Did I get the lucky draw with sons or what?

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