It has been a long time…  I took on a teaching gig that was supposed to be part time then I agreed to teach another class or so…  suddenly I have no spare time!  happily teaching and knitting are not incompatible, so I’ve gotten some things moved along, jsut had no time to write about them!    So with no further ado, here are the latest patterns I got together for Suzi’s Knits:

cathedral

I also have 2 more finished socks to photo and write up, so stay tuned…

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I’ve been cranking away on my Mini Mochi socks, which sadly I will not photograph for you all as I’m holding them for possible Knitty submission.  They came out great, and the colors and the pattern are working really great together.  You’ll all see in June (or sooner if I’m not accepted – competition can be fierce!)  Anyhow, since this is a rather unique yarn I thought I’d give a few more working comments.

First, Dont’ buy this yarn is you’re a devotee of truly identical socks and cannot bear for socks to not match.  From my experience and from what I’ve read from others, in nearly every ball somewhere near the midpoint, the color sequence just reverses…  but it doesn’t always reverse in the same place!  My first ball had its turn around just after the heel – it went yellow blue red blue yellow. My second ball had ISSUES…  the 105 colorway has yellow surrounding all purples.  Well this ball had 2 turnaround points, near the ends, and they all went yellow-purple-yellow-purple-yellow.  Too much of all the same color for me!  So I had to be a bit creative…

And to top it all off, my 2nd ball had a KNOT, grrr, and naturally the knot wasn’t retied at the same colors.  When your color sequence is about 100 yards long its kinda hard…  I briefly talked to my contact at Crystal Palace who sent me the yarn to sample, and was gently encouraged to try to work it out.  I think had I been more insistent, since the knot was tied with a major color break, they would have replaced it, and are sending comments to the factory that knots need to be tied off at the same color.  Well, with all the purple-yellow sections, and the color gap, I had a bear of a time trying to get a sock that looked right.  I ended up with 5 separate strands in that sock (4 in the foot, one for the afterthought heel) one of which I didn’t have an exact color match – I had a red-blue blend I needed to match up to a purple near the toe.  So I got out my drop spindle, unspun a good half a yard of each end, laid them on top of each other, drafted them out a bit, and respun them together.  Worked well enough for me, and allowed me to make a sock that wasn’t all purple and yellow from heel to toe.   But…  PITA.  If I ever get a knot in this yarn again, and its not tied with both ends the same color, I will throw a fit and insist they take it back.  It was a LOT of work to get a sock that looked right with no sudden color changes.

mochi3

Well, I mentioned a bit back, JUST before my beloved mini mochi yarn (YUMMY!) arrived, that I had finished my cathedral socks.  Well, I got a little lazy as the weather was being consistently Californish (70-80 degrees and sunny in January, OH YEAH, i know why I live here).  And this weekend was supposed to be photos and such…  and the clouds are back and its been raining off an on most of the week 😦  So the Cathedral socks will have to wait a while to get photoed.  Since I’m a bit busy with my new teaching gig and have some private practice work, it may be a while before I get those out.

The weather also has another affect…  I was ALMOST getting myself motivated out of the winter exercise excuse binge – I decided I needed a bit of a break, and really haven’t consistently run or done anything much physical since the Big Sur half.  Well, sunshine or no, its time to get moving. 😛  I’ll be lecturing on pharmacology for depression Tuesday and of course going on at length about alternatives…  and we all know exercise has somewhat similar effects to prozac and the SSRI’s – gets those endorphins and that serotonin moving.  And has a lot nicer side effects…  Since I’m gonna preach it, time to get back into practice.  It will probably be my old winter stand by, dance dance revolution, and running will come back in as the weather improves.  Peter has a vague goal to join me for a marathon late in the year so…  will see!  He promises to get up and running after some business travel in early Feb.  I will keep you guys updated!

After brief discussion of Crystal Palace’s new yarn Mini Mochi on socknitters, I was offered some samples as a designer to play with this wonderful new yarn. First the practical details. Mini Mochi is superwash merino-nylon blend yarn, 180 meters to 50 grams so a tiny bit on the thick side compared to other commercial sock yarns. Its single ply and not at all tightly spun, it is very fuzzy and acts a bit like mohair in the knitting – NOT for patterns you will need to rip repeatedly! It also has that property of all single ply yarns I’ve tried – the thickness varies slightly along the strand. I’ve not noted any bad thin spots like I have on other similar yarns tho. And it doesn’t break on the thinnest places when tugged at. The COLORS. Oh, the colors… If you love rich vibrant colors you need this yarn. I got color 105, a ever so lightly muted rich rainbow called “tapestry” – all the colors are bright and gorgeous. This yarn is clearly meant to compete with Noro yarns, and it does so swimmingly. No contest. I’d buy it over the noro sock yarns if it cost 50% more. It is just so much nicer in feel and consistency that there’s no comparison.

Now, the yarn is named for a very cute cat you can see on CP’s website, and they claim that the yarn is as softer than a kitten. I happen to HAVE a kitten so we decided to conduct empirical tests of this claim:

As you can see the yarn is highly kitten approved. I will also note that despite being loosely spun, the end of the yarn survived a kitten mauling in still knitable state. The yarn IS wonderfully soft, softer than most sock yarns I know, soft enough that I can’t put it down, but I’m sorry CP, its not softer than my kitten according to 2 knitters and one husband. I repeat though, its soft and enjoyable to knit with and far far far softer than your basic sock yarns like opal and trekking and lana grossa and the lot. And it doesn’t wake you up at 3 AM just to lick your face because it loves you, so that’s quite a bonus over kittens…

As for knitting… MY GOD I HAVE THE WORLD”S LONGEST SWATCH. By sheer dumb luck my first ball started at a thick place so it took me a while to find the right gauge for my tastes. Besides, I wanted to see how it acted on bigger needles since lately I’ve taken to using sock yarn for lots of projects. I have comments below on various gauges. One note… WASH THIS YARN after swatching. It loosens up a bit the first time it gets wet. My stitch gauge didn’t grow measurably, but the yarn just fuzzed up and relaxed, and the stuff that felt like cardboard before was flexible and flowing, and the stuff that was okay but a little loose was so drapey it would now be suitable for a sweater. I’d say go down 1 needle size from whatever gauge you like in a dry swatch.

So the swatching results I got were:

  • US1/2.25mm: 9 SPI, bulletproof before washing, perfect for this tight gauge queen after.
  • US 1.5/2.5mm: 8.5 SPI, perfect for me before washing, a little loose considering 1 plyness after but perfectly acceptable to me.
  • US 2/2.75mm: 8 SPI, lovely but a little loose for me before washing, and I personally wouldn’t use it for socks that way after washing but I know lots who would.
  • US 2.5/3mm: 7.5 SPI, A little loose for my taste but OK before washing, good for a tight knit sweater after (I’d probably use 3’s or even 4’s for a sweater, really)

Oh yes and know that the yarn really fuzzes up a lot after even a quick swatch wash. I dub this yarn not suitable for complex sock lace – if you DO use it for lace (the slow color changes are marvelous for lace!) use really big needles so the holes don’t get lost in fuzz after washing. Stitch definition is still clearly visible under the fuzz, so its suitable for textures and cables. Oh yes and DO NOT plan to rip this yarn. EVER. It can be done but its fuzzy enough to be difficult.

Overall review? Excellent new yarn, its going to put the competition out of business… My only complains about it are generally that I’m a tad biased against 1 ply yarns. I’m hoping it holds up well to wear, because its going to make supremely lovely and comfortable socks! I’m also wishing for a wider range of colors… I LOVE LOVE LOVE the rich vibrant bright hues but I like variety too! I hope CP keeps the brights and adds a few new shades in addition.

Today I finished my second Cathedral sock! Its a bit unique – because of the way the cables flow on the reverse stockinette background on the leg of the sock, I decided NOT to create a jarring line at the heel and side of foot, and just left the sole and toe in reverse stockinette. Since I happen to have fat flat wide toes, the ONLY toe that fits me well is a rather short blunt wedge toe with a graft at the end (or a short row toe, again, a grafted toe. This meant… (shudder, shiver, oh horror) kitchenering in reverse stockinette. I tried the advice of a friend, turning the sock inside out, and well, the yarn ends up starting on the front instead of the back needle and I ended up just as confused. So I decided its time to really GET kitchener, on a very organic level, so I can kitchener ANYTHING, rather than jsut follow a routine by rote.

Here’s what I discovered. There is, in fact, an ULTIMATE kitchener mantra. Its the one I long ago rejected as just taking too much thought, but it will ALWAYS WORK, even in ribbing.

Same, off; Opposite, on.

What that means is, you look at the stitch you’re about to put your needle through. If it’s a purl, same = purl, opposite = knit. If its a knit, then same = knit, opposite = purl. You always (at least I always) kitchener right to left, the opposite of reading. You ALWAYS make your first stitch on the needle your yarn is NOT coming from, pass the needle thru opposite of the stitch leaving it on the needle, then go to the starting side, pass the needle thru opposite of that stitch, then you go into same-off opposite-on world.

So, say you have a reverse stockinette sock. Your yarn is likely coming out of the back needle. So you look at that front needle, and the purl side is facing you. So you do an opposite-on: you pass the needle thru knitwise and try not to overthink. On the back side, you’re now facing the INSIDE of the sock, which in reverse stockinette is of course the knit side, so you do an opposite-on again, which now suddenly becomes passing the needle thru purlwise. Easy as 3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751…

Continuing onwards, on the front (purl side) you do a same-off, opposite-on, i.e purlwise-slip off, knitwise leave it on. Then you go to the back (knit side) and do a same-off, opposite-on, i.e knitwise-slip off, purlwise leave on. In my OLD mantra style (I always was sayign “in and out, in and out”) You’re going to go OUT of the first stitch, and make that cute little purl bump as you go back IN to the middle of the sock and over to the other side – reverse stockinette reverses any other mantras!

Now, say you’re INSANE (oh shoot… no one take my psych license over this) and you want to kichener 1X1 ribbing. The same mantra works!!! “Same-off, Opposite-on.” Let’s Say your front needle starts KPKP. Your back needle woudl have finished with a purl, but you’re lookign at the back side of that purl that you ended on, so it also looks to you like a knit. BOTH needles wil look liek KPKPKPKP across. So

Start opposite on on both sides – Basically, put that needle thru the front stitch purlwise, then the back stitch purlwise, and you’re ready to go.

Front, same-off, opposite on. Same on the first stitch is knitwise, so pass the needle thru knitwise and drop the stitch off. Your next stitch is a purl though, because we’re doing ribbing. So you do the opposite-on, only relative to this stitch that means you go into the stitch knitwise again. So you just happen to go knitwise, knitwise. YAY!

Back – same-off, opposite on. Oh look, we’ve got a knit followed by a purl again, SAME EXACT THING as the front side knitwise (same) off, then knitwise (now opposite) on!

Now back to the front, same-off, opposite on. You’re starting with a purl this time, so same-off is purlwise-off. Then the next stitch is a knit, so you go opposite-on, or purlwise and leave the stitch on. Naturally you’ll do exactly the same thing on the back side.

Does it work? uhhhh…  well there’s 1 small problem, there will always be a half stitch jog.  Why?  Because you have to start on one side first, you can’t do both sides simultaeously.  So in anythign other than plain stockinette, garter, or reverse stockinette there will be a join point that peopel who look really hard can find.  Here’s my tiny sample for your viewing pleasure:

kitchener

Wanting to show off her crazy jumps…  Lucia really flies after her teasers…

I swear Lucia thinks she’s a rabbit…  she loves their toys more than they do…

Today was a bit of an adventure for everyone. First, I invented a new cat teaser since the cat likes variety and I have a craft room. Yay for foot long narrow leather triangles (like an inch or less at base) hot glued on the tip of a stick. Lucia literally ran til she was breathless, and 5 mins later was STILL panting. She’s been acting bored with the first lot of toys, mostly 1 boa teaser and several similar kinds of balls. This was to keep her entertained, because I promised the bunnies a DAY OFF FROM CATS. Why you ask? Oh its bunny torture day… they didn’t know that part of the deal…

After a first attempt at clipping black bunny claws (you try seeing a pale red line thru a dark black claw on a kicking bunny foot…) I have swore off the activity for life, even on the relatively docile Dash. So for official bunny torture day, we were off to Pet Food Express for claw clipping, in order to avoid any actual maiming of bunnies. Turns out they don’t have a grooming salon, what they have is Kat, an employee who clips claws in the bathroom for $10. After resolving that confusion, we were good to go. Dash as usual hopped out first, and I got to learn the EASY way to clip claws. He, of course, was no trouble. Apparently you snuggle the bunny to your chest, their back to you, kind of in a standing up pose, holding firmly to the chest just below the upper paws, and FIRMLY to the lower paws, supporting them and holding them still. The buns actually didn’t struggle with this hold at all, and Kat just clipped away. Dashy was so easy she even gave me a 2 for 1 deal on the buns. Clipsy was the big surprise – she LET ME PICK HER UP and actually didn’t twitch a muscle once I got her held. Kat also got to meet her first black clawed critter (she insisted that claws aren’t black, I laughed…), and used the snip-off-bit-by-bit approach to clipping without hitting the quick. I also think she spotted it visually but still went for the little at a time clipping. Apparently Clipsy keeps her own claws short digging so damned much. So in less time than I spend clipping 1 of Clipsy’s paws, we were all clipped with no muss and fuss. We hopped back into our carrier (Dash avoided this, he likes exploring, Clipsy hates newness so went right in), we said hi to the cat adoption folks (Dashy came out for pets) then went SHOPPING.

Yes, I’m in a pet store, I HAVE to shop for toys.

Our main goal was to get the kitten more variety since she was acting bored with all her toys yesterday, AND to cure her of that nice little habit of clawing the stairs. We got a spray bottle of some no-$cratch $tuff that I really hope works… a laser pointer (highly cat approved) a squeeky mouse on a string (again, high cat approval rating but $urely not worth the pri¢e… too cute to resist tho) and our new favorite self-stimulating toy, carpet-block-with-ball-on-a-spring! She bats it, she claws the block, she loved it for about an hour straight:

We also totally raided the cheap holiday toy bins for 25¢ sisal mice with feathers (YAY!) and leather mice (total reject, oh well) and much to my surprise, a resounding approval for rattly felt balls (all other noisy balls have been ignored) I guess rattles are better than jingles?

Happy 2009 everyone! May 2008 soon be but a long lost memory (at least in some worldly/USAian government and economic senses and such). 2008 wasn’t such a bad year really for me and Suzi’s Knits. I managed to solidify my new active lifestyle, and completed my marathon (raising nearly $3000 for AIDS treatment) and 2 half marathons, I was published twice in Knitty (and got some really AWESOME yarn samples from Crystal Palace, they do make the best sock yarn… hey Mini Mochi isn’t out anywhere near me yet… beg beg beg) and I acquired 3 new furballs. The theme for this years blog (aside from knitting of course!) will likely be split between me doing my best to stick with the running and fitness (may drag Peter out for the Silicon Valley Marathon…), and of course ongoing commentary on the buns and cat, since they are terminally cute.

Felt Cat ToysToday’s update from fuzzball land is that I made some felt cat toys, they are hideously easy to make. Lucia’s favorite toys are those hard foam cat balls (she dislikes catnip and bells) but of course she’s EXCELLENT at losing them so I was hunting a cheaper alternative. She still likes the store bought ones better than mine, but she WAS witnessed to play with mine, and even CAUGHT one in her mouth, ran upstairs, and dropped it at my feet like a dead mouse gift. Very cute. Anyhow, directions for the balls are best found elsewhere online. I didn’t bother to needle felt them into rounder shape (or rather I tried and failed) but I did make 2 variations. On some I wound some yarn around before I felted them in the wash for funky designs, and on others I needle felted yarn designs on them after (WAYYYY too much like work for all the cat does not care) My only caveat on the directions I linked to is, they come out the shape they come out. Make sure you wedge them in the nylons tight, and make sure they go in as round as possible. They make quick, cheap cat-approved toys. And if you don’t have spare stuff out there for felting… (I wonder how you found my blog? 😉 ) there’s tons of cheap wool on ebay. Nice colored stuff on etsy too. And you can also just toss a ball of wool yarn with tucked in ends into the washer…

Pardon my obsession for all you readers out there who are not cat fans… I can’t knit, the kitten eats the yarn. I’m wondering if our cat is the only furball out there that does this. I’ve been sick since the day after xmas, and moping about the house drinking lots of fluids and of course, doing lots of that which one must do after drinking lots of fluids. Lucia, being an extremely social cat has been following me around the house like a furry shadow (with no small amount of encouragement from me of course). Naturally, being a cat and having no manners, this means she follows me into the bathroom too. Where, for some bizarre reason (tiled floors?) her humans just happen to have set up her litter boxes. She will watch me sit on the pot, primly wait til I’m done, then hop into her box, scratch about for a bit and do her thing as well, glancing up to me for an immediate cleaning (which, for the moment, dutiful slave that I am, I do – best way to avoid the stench is to get rid of it now!). I’ve been rather amused by this routine, the copy-cat thing is surely entertaining…

Oh yes and I also meant to mention… all over Lolcats there are these images of cats captioned to imply they are horrified by the sight of their humans naked. I can attest to you firsthand that this is not so. I give you all 3 guesses what actually happens…

SF AIDS Marathon 2008

On August 3, myself and about 500 other runners will complete the San Francisco marathon in an effort to raise $1,000,000 for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. This is the culmination of nearly 2 years of lifestyle changes and weight loss for me, and a chance for me to use my new-found energy and fitness to give back to my community. I hope you will join me in this effort by reading and offering your support through my blog. If you are able, I also welcome your contribution to the cause! Thanks and keep on running!

Progress Bar:


Marathon time: 5:40:22
Total Raised: $2,815.70

My Sponsors

I'd like to thank the following organizations and individuals for their support of the SF AIDS Foundation!



Dianne Whitfield of the Bunny Hay Loft


Ulf Anvin
Rob Millner
Scott Lamb
Jeff Barlow
Erika Duplantis
Nick and Carol Esser
Kathryn Mercer
Nicole Pauls
Kathryn Coll
Timothy Berger
Susan Druding
Jenny Forman
Kathryn Mulgrew
Jamie Piperberg
Lucia Sanchez
Fran Taillon
Douglas Leeder
Barbara Kirsch
Ellen Atkinson
Valerie Esser
Peter McCourt
Carla Schroder
Sandra Spicher
Matthew Wilson
Valorie Zimmerman
Kathryn Kramer
Roxanne Seabright
Gayathri Swaminathan
Jason Spiro
Dianne Schoenberg

Thank you so very much for your support!

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