Joining an excellent Movement

I just blogged yesterday, but so much has happened that I must blog again today. First, a big THANK YOU, to Sallee a.k.a Knitnana for awarding me an E for Excellent Award.
E for Excellent

I had no idea anyone found my humble little blog “excellent,” but it is very inspiring to be told so. I need to nominate 10 others whose blogs I find excellent, an easy task. So here goes.

Karen B. of Yarn is My Metier (she puts the correct little accent on the e in Metier, but I can’t find my code book). She also knits and crochets wonderful things, and she has adorable kitties.

Kristy of Eleven Stitches. She is a very creative knitter and crafter; she’s also very nice and has adorable kitties.

Cristi of Turtlegirl’s Bloggy Thing. She gets the most beautifully colored yarns and knits fabulous socks with it (among a huge number of other projects), and she is very funny and has adorable kitties.

Brigitte of Wrapped Around My Finger. She knits these awesome cabled or stranded colorwork sweaters from Alice Starmore among others, and then she swears she can’t knit a four-row repeat lace pattern. She is very sweet and fun, and she has adorable kitties.

Janet of Twisted Knitter. She is so thoughtful and knits simply beautiful things. She’s made me feel very welcome in the knitblog community, and as far as I know, she has no pets.

Lorraine of Sheriff of Knittingham. She is very funny and a fabulous knitter and knitwear designer. And yes, she does have an adorable kitty.

Beatriz of Busy Bea Knits. She knits lovely socks and sweaters for both herself and many, many nieces as far as I can tell. She also likes good food and cocktails.

Anne of Knitspot. I really don’t need to say anything, do I? Anne’s knitting designs have inspired me more than anyone else.

Chris of Stumbling over Chaos. Gee, I wonder why this is the first blog I read every morning? Could it be because of the antics of Chaos y Mayhem? Yes, I think so (and Chris does some great knitting too). I must say I almost always side with Chaos when there is a little sibling rivalry. We older sibs have to stick together, or the younger sibs will do evil like boot us out of our Fortress of Solitude.

Amy of StashKnitRepeat. She knits great stuff and has joined up with Kelly of Kelp! Knits (this is a 2 for 1 entry) with a really good idea for the year that I am going to take part in too. I think they are starting a new Sock Knitting Movement! Keep reading below for an explanation.

All of my excellent award winners are invited (but I won’t insist) to make their own lists of excellent blogs if they haven’t already done so. But most of all, I just want them all to keep blogging and sharing their knitting (and kitties) with us other knitters and people who live with leases not allowing pets.

Now for the MOVEMENT. Kelly, who clearly has a great deal of shopping discipline, has decided to knit a pair of socks each month of 2008, thereby knitting up her entire sock yarn stash. Yeah, I told you she was disciplined. She started off this January by knitting a stunning pair of Socks for Veronik , which is pretty much showing off, but in a really cool way. Amy likes the idea of a pair of socks a month (thankfully, this will not use up her stash), and she is almost done with a gorgeous pair of cranberry Pomatomi.

I need handknit socks for myself, and I know I’ll need to knit some gift socks too. So, I’ve decided  also to knit a pair a month throughout 2008. This will by no means use up my sock yarn stash. I’ve gotten way behind in terms of sock knitting. For January, I’ll get my Chili Pepper socks done. They aren’t a difficult or wow pattern, but they make good use of a brightly multi-colored yarn, the sort I love, but are often difficult to knit up nicely. I’m half done with the gusset decreases on the second sock:
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“She took my picture out of focus and over-exposed it too. Man, I hope she manages the pointed toe decreases properly or I’ll look permanently stupid.” The second Chili Pepper Sock in a unnecessarily surly mood.

My only other stipulation for the other 11 months is to use these four pretty but difficult to knit up pretty multi-colored yarns.
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Clockwise from upper left: Lorna’s Laces in Somerset, LL in Mother Lode, CTH in Champlain Sunset and LL in Ravenswood.

I better download Cookie A’s Monkey pattern. Any other suggestions for these yarns? The other months I’ll see what I want to knit. But now I better get working on that Chili Pepper sock.

Happy Knitting!

A Sockish Meme

Thursday I read the Turtlegirl’s sock meme post and then went about my day. Saturday I read her Friday post, commented, and Cristi promptly sent a reply part of which said, “Did you see Thursday’s post? You might want to read it.” I read it again, and this time I realized I was tagged for the sock meme. Apparently, I am not a very careful reader. But it is a good sock knitting meme, so here we have my version.

1. What’s your favorite sock yarn? (please note that the word ‘yarn’ is singular. Just pick one. I know it’s hard.)
With the caveat that I have not yet knit with two favorite sock yarns of the blogworld, namely Koigu and STR, Cherry Tree Hill Supersock is my top pick. It’s a pleasure to knit, has wonderful colors that in my hands do not pool in an ugly fashion, wears and washes very well, and produces a supremely comfortable fabric. Every time I get out a pair of my CTH socks to wear, I swear I can hear my toes do a little cheer. My sock yarn stash may have some CTH SS in several colors.
Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Stash

2. What’s your favorite type and brand of sock needle?
I use dpns. I started with clover bamboo, moved onto Crystal Palace Bamboo, which I like much better as they are much slicker. But then I tried Susan Bates aluminum dpns. Super slick! And I easily knit a little tighter with them, which is a plus for me. I do still use the CP bamboo, but the Susan Bates are my favorites. I’m a cheap date.
I have two sock patterns that are written for socks knit on two circular needles, and this has put me in a quandary. The only 16-inch circs I’ve tried (clover bamboo or Inox) have needle portions far too short for comfort. Any suggestions?

CTH SS Potluck Water Colors
CTH SS Potluck in Watercolors. I may have squealed when I saw this.

3. Do you knit your socks toe up, cuff down, or sideways?
Cuff down. Even with a 350 yd skein, I can get socks with the length leg I want and still have over 20 g left over. Why on earth would I knit toe up? Really, I’m asking, why?

4. Do you knit both socks at once or just one at a time?
One at a time. It’s the dpn thing, and I am willing to sweater sleeves singly, so I don’t anticipate a change.

5. What’s your favorite toe and why?
I have pointy feet, so round toes or star toes work best for me. When I knit for others, I usually do a grafted, standard toe as it tends to look more “normal” to the uninitiated.
CTH SS Birches
CTH SS in Birches. Methinks this might make some mighty nice Marina Piccola socks.

6. Favorite heel?
Heel flap and a standard round heel turn, although I do sometimes do a square heel. I really like to edge my heel flap with 2-3 garter stitches compared to the slipped stitch chain edge. The garter stitches make picking up stitches for the gussets so easy, and it looks flawless even when done in the wee hours during a bout of insomnia. Gotta like that.

7. Do you prefer plain or patterned socks?
I’ve knit a lot of socks. I’ve knit one pair of stockinette socks. I’ve knit one pair of lace socks (a gift). Cables and knit-purl patterns rule my world. I’m going to dive into the whole Austrian twisted stitch thing too.

8. Who do you knit the most socks for?
Mostly I knit for myself, but I tend to knit a pair a year for various relatives and my friend Nancy. I knit Nancy the Spaced Check Socks in Claudia’s Handpainted A Walk in the Woods this year. Last year I knit her some ribbed socks in CTH SS Peacock. Now she wants to learn how to knit socks! The power of the hand knit sock is strong.

9. Do you darn your socks? If not, what do you do with them?
I haven’t had to yet. I tend to wear socks only when wearing shoes, so I am not very hard on them. If I loved the yarn and the pattern, I might just darn them. We’ll have to wait and see.

10. Do you only wear handknit socks?
That is my goal, with the exception of white athletic socks with sneakers. I am almost there. Occasionally, I don’t have an appropriately colored pair that is clean and then I wear purchased socks. My feet aren’t real thrilled with this.

CTH SS Amethyst
CTH SS solids in Amethyst. What’s not to love?

Bonus question: What pattern, if any, is your basic “I-just-need-a-pair-of-socks” sock pattern based on? Do you keep it written down or memorized?

I no longer need a basic sock pattern if it’s a sock for me. The round heel I have memorized is Charlene Schurch’s. I often use Nancy Bush’s heel and toe directions from Vintage Socks. If I make things up as I go along, I now have learned to write down what I do in the first sock for the second. I can and have gone back to the first sock to figure it all out all over again, but writing is a wonderful skill and tool.

As for tagging two others, I think it only fair to tag the two people whose socks always make me say, “Wow! I have to knit that!” So Kristy and Christie, if you like, you are tagged. Has anyone noticed that there are a lot of women named K/C(h)risty/i(e) who knit socks?

Double Tagged!

Both Lorraine and Megan have tagged me for the 7 Random Facts Meme. Before I get tagged by anyone else, I figure I better answer up.

Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write in their blogs 7 facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag seven others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and need to read your blog.

The 7 Facts:
1. I’ve lived in 6 states: New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Kentucky and California.
2. I horseback rode from the ages of 10-17–English saddle, dressage, Morgan horses. I’d like to ride again even though I was thrown by a quarter horse into a metal gate and broke my right shoulder blade when I was 34.
3. I’m an avid mystery reader, but a very, very fussy one, too. I don’t like to be able to figure the mystery out. Raymond Chandler, Robert van Gulik, Susanna Gregory, Rex Stout, and Candace Robb are my favorite mystery authors.
4. I married M when I was 35 and he was 2 weeks from turning 30. I had lived alone for 9 years before that. It was a big adjustment but very much worth it. Most people think M is older than I am, a fact I am rather fond of–M not so much.
5. I have one sibling, my younger brother, who I call Bunky. He calls me Wuzzie. No one else calls us by those nicknames.
6. I’ve never had a cavity. I don’t floss either, and my dentist told me I really didn’t need to, but she’d like me to anyway on general principles.
7. I love to drive unless I have to look for a parking space. When we’re together M only drives if I don’t want to. Heavy traffic doesn’t bother me.

I’m tagging PCR, Kim, Alison, Kristy, Christy, Rachel and Mayhem.

And now that Mother’s Day is past, I have to show you what I sent my mom because it all started with a great etsy find.
Mother's Day gift to Mom
Photo by Bunky.
The Laurel Birch tapestry tote bag is from Janine King’s etsy shop. It’s not knitting specific, but Mom does a lot of stuff, so a general zippered tote works for her. The workmanship is top notch. I was extremely pleased with the quality and price of the bag. Mom has been knitting socks from the same free Lion Brand pattern for three years, so I thought she might like a few more options hence the copy of Sensational Knitted Socks, and it seemed unsporting to send a book on knitting socks without sending sock yarn. Mom seems pleased. My work is done.

All About R

I took Cara up on her offer to assign letters for the new meme journeying around the blogosphere. She gave me R. So here are 10 things, ideas, themes, theories that pertain to me that start with R.

1. READING Compared to today’s children, I was a late reader. I started first grade two months before my seventh birthday, and I couldn’t really read. By the end of third grade, I had finished eighth grade spelling and reading. I started a little late, but I was primed and took flight. I can’t imagine life without reading. In addition to all the science reading I do, I read fiction, non-fiction, poetry, blogs, newspapers, food labels, you name it. Usually, I read between 50-70 books in a year. Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion are my two favorite novels, but I am also a big fan of the hard-boiled detective mysteries of Raymond Chandler featuring Philip Marlowe. Currently, I am reading several historical series of mysteries including Susanna Gregory’s Matthew Bartholomew Chronicles (14th century Cambridge) and the Sugawara Akitada mysteries set in 12th century Japan by I.J. Parker. I am also reading my way through Freya Stark’s travel memoirs through the Middle East in the 1930s. My father was an American Literature professor and my mother a high school English teacher, and I have always received books for birthday and Christmas presents. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

2. RED Red is best. My sofa is red. I always carry a red purse and wallet. I prefer red wine to white. I tried to eat vegetarian during Lent one year; I ate lots of protein, but I still ended up dreaming of red meat. In my stash, I have red alpaca sport weight to make a cabled scarf, red fingering weight suri alpaca for a shawl, red worsted weight wool/alpaca blend to knit a jacket, dark red bulky weight to knit a sweater, and berry sea silk for a lace scarf from Victorian Lace Today (we won’t go into the sock yarn). In high school a snotty male classmate criticized me for wearing red lipstick one day. “Smart girls shouldn’t wear red lipstick,” he said. I wore red lipstick almost everyday of high school after that. Whenever I wear red, I am guaranteed that someone will tell me that “red is my color.” Indeed.

3. RASPBERRIES Perfect fruit. Perfect flavor, texture, shape, juciness, and of course, color. Raspberries are served for breakfast in heaven. Need I say more?

4. RESEARCH We all do research to a certain extent in our lives. We gather and analyze information even when buying toothpaste. We live in an information age. But I get paid to do research. Biochemistry, molecular biology, DNA, proteins, genomes sort of research. I grow cells, isolate DNA molecules and proteins and then mix them together in various combinations under multitudes of conditions, and then I meticulously record what happens. I repeat and repeat experiments until my data are statistically significant. I write my findings up into scientific manuscripts which get published after peer review. I love it.

5. RELAXATION When it comes to relaxation, I flunk. I’m good at doing nothing, but not in a relaxed manner. A couple of years ago my quotidian battle with anxiety got bad enough that I needed pharmaceutical intervention for a while. A couple of weeks after starting the medication while M and I were out grocery shopping together, I noticed that I felt very strange: sort of limp and floppy. However, all my muscles worked just fine. I wondered if I needed to go to the ER. I puzzled and puzzed til my puzzler was sore (ala the Grinch) and then I thought of something I hadn’t before. I was actually relaxed. M is the one who helped me reach this conclusion. I was pretty embarrassed; he thought it was hilarious. Now I work pretty regularily to be relaxed. How screwed up is that?

6. RUSSIAN I minored in Russian in college. I took Russian to see if it was hard (German in high school was too easy). Russian was easy too, until I started reading true Russian literature. I don’t understand Russian literature at all. I could translate the words and sentences just fine. But what does it mean when a nose is found in a loaf of bread, and then later in the day is seen walking down the street dressed in clothes? I’m stumped. The Nose is a short story by Gogol.

7. RAIN Here in the Central Valley of California, it doesn’t rain during the summer. Not a drop. Sun, sun, sun from sometime in April until late October at least. Then it’s rain, rain, rain in December and January. I used to love rain when I lived in the Midwest and it rained every several days through out the year. Now I pine for rain in the summer (and thunderstorms!) and loath it in the winter. I clearly have rain issues.

8. ROUND Round is probably the best adjective to describe me in so many ways. My face is round and has full cheeks; my body is round like a bosc pear. People have complimented me on being well-rounded intellectually. When I am anxious my mind races round and round in frantic analytical circles. My favorite Christmas tree ornaments are round balls. Green peas are my favorite vegetable. I haven’t yet been around the world though. Someday.

9. RISK Anxiety keeps me from being a big risk taker. The fear of devastating failure keeps me pretty prudent. But that is why I like knitting and beading so much. I can always rip, frog, unstring, unweave with usually little risk. It’s like a get out of jail free card or being able to beat entropy. As I’ve grown older I can take more substantive risks without fear, but you won’t find me operating M’s table saw if I can help it.

10. ROSE The rose is a beautiful flower and I love so many of their attributes. The sweet spicy smell. The velvety petals arrayed in a perfect logarithmic spiral. The tight buds that slowly unfurl to the full blown flower. The funny thing is that the one color of rose I don’t really like is red. Yellow roses, white roses, pink roses, all gorgeous. Red roses? Funeral flowers. Go figure.