Monday, October 30, 2006

Notes from the Underground, Part 2

We bring you another special report from HoyaGirl who is still living in a media-deprived existence somewhere in California...

Oct. 23: Day 8 of the Media Fast
Tonight, I made it through the gusset. I have given up all hope of having them done in time for the fall festival on Saturday, but I figure with much perseverance and the total lack of television, I will be able to get them done in time for Halloween next week. I can’t wait to show them off to the students at school!

Oct. 24: Day 9
I lost a lot of knitting time today due to Parent-Student-Teacher conferences. I also kept distracting myself with work. I was doing responsible teacher-y things like writing next week’s assignment sheets, planning my next two science units, and preparing my materials for the rest of this week’s conferences. Maybe I’ll get more knitting time over the next two days since I have fewer meetings.

As a side note: Today was the first day I actually considered turning on the television. I think I just wanted to do something mindless after being at work for so long. It would be nice to have something to listen to in the background while I work on the sock. The DCA wasn’t helping much either when he mentioned over dinner that I have at least two new podcasts out there which have downloaded. I really need a pod fix! Lime? Violet? Christine? Knitty D? Wendy? Help me! I’m detoxing!

Oct. 25: Day 10
I finished the first Pomatomus sock. I even grafted the toe and wove in the ends. Then I stayed up way too late casting on for the second sock. I am determined to have them done in time for Halloween, but still I must sleep…

Oct. 27: Day 12
The second sock is progressing well—I’m already into the second pattern repeat on the leg. Mandatory school meetings are good for knitting, and that’s where I finished most of the work today. This sock will be my main project this weekend, because I WILL have it finished in time for Halloween on Tuesday. I did decide today that, because of their lovely fall colors, the socks will be suitable for wear all the way through to Thanksgiving. The thought seems to have given me a boost in overcoming second sock syndrome and carrying on. I hated the thought of having a pair of socks I was going to wear once and put away until next fall! I must admit that I enjoy the foot part of this sock more than the leg. As with most socks, the foot just flies by and the leg just drags on and on and on. This is STILL the main reason why I will always be a cuff-down girl. Now, back to the sock!

Oct. 28: Day 13
It’s almost our anniversary, so the sock went out to dinner with us tonight. After we finished a fabulous dinner at the Gaslamp Strip Club, we walked over to Starbucks to get espresso instead of dessert. We sat in the window and watched the Halloween revelers walk by in their costumes. We and the sock were amused and appalled by some of the chosen disguises. There are just so many female cop short-shorts outfits you can tolerate in one evening! I made it through most of the heel flap while enjoying my caffeine fix. Tomorrow, the foot!

Oct. 29: Day 14
I finished the heel flap and started working my way through the gusset at church this morning. After a few errands this afternoon, I camped on the couch and knit away on the foot taking breaks only for sustenance and laundry. The DCA interfered with the media fast by continually checking the NASCAR race and the football scores. I figure I’m not really breaking the fast when I’m subjected to programming I wouldn’t normally choose to watch. It was highly tempting, however, and I occasionally thought about surfing for a movie. I finished the toe and grafted it around 9:45 p.m., so I will be able to wear them on Tuesday after all. Icarus was so glad to be dragged out of semi-retirement for a celebratory row or two!

Can HoyaGirl make it through one more week with no TV? Can she continue to live without blogs and podcasts? Tune in next week to find out!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Notes from the Underground, Part 1

We bring you this special report from HoyaGirl who is living in a media-deprived existence somewhere in California...

Oct. 16: Day 1 of the Media Fast
Scout’s Indie Swag arrived today. I have the members-only black, grey, and white sock yarn and a new black and white knitting tote. Included in my package was my skein of Socktoberfest, the special colorway designed for those of us knitting along in the month of Socktober. I am entranced by its fall colors, and I am throwing everything aside to start a pair of socks for the church’s Fall Festival and for Halloween.

Oct. 17: Day 2
I tried starting a sock with 60 stitches, and the color started pooling in a fat spiral pattern that I found unattractive, so last night’s work was sent to the frog pond. I’m casting on with 56 stitches today.

Oct. 18: Day 3
The spiral got even uglier at 56 stitches. One could even call the resulting pattern “pooling.” I ended up with a half-black and half-purple-and-orange-striped sock. This, too, will be fed to the frogs.

Oct. 19: Day 4
Realizing that the stitch count should have gotten larger instead of smaller in order to fix the ugly spirals, I have cast on at 64 stitches. Maybe this will work now.

Oct. 20: Day 5
Nope, it’s not working. I now have socks that would fit the trunk of the tree outside my door, even if they do have a striped pattern I can live with. I believe I have lovely ankles, and I really don’t want them covered up by baggy, wrinkly socks. If I’m covering them, it will be with lovely, fitted socks! I’m going to check 60 stitches again just to see how the color does in the stockinette section of the sock.

Oct. 21: Day 6
I have decided the yarn is possessed and that it doesn’t want to be socks in time for Halloween. The colors started pooling again in the stockinette section of the 60-stitch sock. As a result, I have spent most of today playing with Icarus who is feeling much neglected after this week of warring with Socktoberfest. I, however, am stronger than the sock yarn, and I will exert my will for its existence. The sock is obviously not intended to have a stitch count anywhere in the 60s. Don’t tell, but I broke the media fast in order to access the Pomatomus sock pattern at Knitty. I think I will finally have a breakthrough when I cast on 72 stitches!

Oct. 22: Day 7
We have lift-off! The sock is well underway, but the DCA does not think I can stick it out and make it last—this is, after all, the 5th attempt at forcing the yarn to bend to my will. I made it to the heel flap, so I think this one will definitely work! The "fish scale" design of Pomatomus doesn't show up terribly well in this colorway, but the color-striping is absolutely what I imagined it should be.

We expect another report from HoyaGirl about Days 8 to 14 of her media fast some time in the next week. Stay tuned for more news about the Socktoberfest battle and the Pomatomus saga!

Sunday, October 15, 2006


It's about to get even more quiet than usual around here.

My homeroom class and I are starting a 21 -day media fast tomorrow as part of our Bible devotional, The Hardest 30 Days of Your Life. Unfortunately, I have to seriously curtail my internet use--work purposes only--which means the blog is going silent. I am allowing myself to check in once a week, so I'll post anything exciting then.

I finished the first Jaywalker, and I was hoping my swag from Scout would arrive in time to start a different sock instead. I am going to have serious second sock syndrome with this pair! The package won't arrive until tomorrow (as Scout predicted in her blog), so I cast on the 2nd sock just to have one in the traveling knitting bag. I have to have a traveling sock!

To distract myself from the zigging and zagging, I also cast on for Icarus using my Black Bunny Fibers laceweight. It is working up beautifully, and I'm hoping it will relieve some of my sock monotony. I'm really jonesing for a sweater though, but I can't justify it with two shawls and Clapotis on the needles.

Stay tuned for rare updates on my progress with the fast, the 2nd sock, and the new shawl. I'll be around, but I'll just "be vewy, vewy, qwiet!"

Saturday, October 14, 2006


For your viewing pleasure, I present some Saturday socks! I'm terribly sorry for the delay in posting pics of my socks--my digital camera needs batteries, and I finally broke down and borrowed the DCA's. (Please excuse the glaring whiteness of my legs in these shots--although I live in Cali, I am still the whitest person I know!)

Exhibit A: A plain vanilla pair of Trekking XXL.
These worked up so fast on my circs after I finally gave up trying to start them toe-up and with a pattern. They appear much darker in natural light, but as you can see the colors are yummy!

Exhibit B-1: Hoya Socksa.
This pair is an original design (I think). The colorway is Scout's Storm Surge, and it reminded me of Georgetown, my old home away from home. I tried to make a pointy lace pattern reminiscent of the clock tower on Healy Hall, but it's not very visible from a distance.

Exhibit B-2: Hoya Socksa Close-Up.
It's slightly better in detail, but it's not as pointy as I imagined. That's okay, though, because I can now add "sock designer" to my knitting resume.

Exhibit C: Socks That Rock Highway 30.
This is the pair I started at the Sonic Youth show and then had to re-start the next day when they turned out too big. They were an incredibly fast knit on DPNs, and I loved the feel of this yarn! I can't wait to get started on my pair in County Clare.

Exhibit D: Jaywalkers in Lisa Souza Sock Merino!
This is my work in progress. The colorway is Joseph's Coat. I've been telling people at church that these socks are biblical so it must be okay for me to knit in church. I love the stripes on the leg, but I'm not too keen about the pooling on the foot. At least that part will be hidden inside my shoes most of the time.

As I work on patterned socks, I am learning that I really prefer plain vanilla socks for knitting. They are so much faster, and they appeal to my need for instant gratification. Patterned knitting slows me down, and I would prefer to have more to show, like a sweater or a shawl, from so much work. It won't stop me from trying patterns though--I do need a challenge every once in a while.

For now, I will go sit on the couch, knit more socks, watch some Sooner and Gator football, and wait patiently on the mailman to see if my swag from Scout is in this afternoon's mail. Bring on that Socktoberfest yarn!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

My Sock History

I have been a sock addict for a few years now, and I am on a real sock-knitting jag since it's Socktoberfest. Here are my answers to Lolly's Socktoberfest Questionnaire to give you an idea of how I became so obsessed with socks.

When did you start making socks?
I started making socks shortly after I knitted our family's Christmas stockings four years ago. I knew if I could handle the technical aspects of a stocking then I could definitely handle the intricacies of a sock.

Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?
I taught myself, of course! What else would an obsessed knitter do??? I had never used DPNs before in my life when I picked up the knitting magazine (can't remember which one) which featured the Christmas stocking patterns. I just followed the directions in the magazine and did my best. After a few years of knitting socks, I know there are a few things I would have changed about the patterns, but the stockings work just fine the way they are. After I finished the stockings, I went surfing on the internet looking for sock patterns which specifically called for DPNs. I avoided circulars like the plague until this summer when I finally tried them out and realized they are pretty cool. It was all downhill from there--I kept looking for more patterns and buying almost every sock book I could find in the local Barnes & Noble. I just stuck with reading instructions, and I picked up helpful hints here and there which I have gradually incorporated into my knitting.

What was your first pair?
Oh dear! I have no idea anymore about which pair came first. I think it may have been a pair of "slipper socks" (worsted weight on U.S. size 3 needles) that I knit for myself but then gave to my mom. They were lavender and very soft--I made them from baby yarn. Our daughter has a matching pair.

How have they "held up" over time?
They must be holding up well--she hasn't asked for a new pair like the first one. I have knitted her other socks since then, and she has mentioned that she prefers heel flaps like those in the first pair over the short-row heels used in subsequent pairs.

What would you have done differently?
I know I would have twisted the stitches that I picked up along the heel flap by knitting through the back loop. None of the instructions in the first few pairs I knitted said to do this, and it causes some "holeyness" in that part of the sock. I fixed this in all my later pairs of socks after reading a sock book.

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?
I like all the sock yarns I have met so far. They are actually the first yarns I look for when stepping inside any yarn store. I have used Opal, Regia, Trekking, Sockotta, Socka Fortissima, Socks That Rock, Lisa Souza, Scout's Swag, Black Bunny Fibers, and even some worsted weight yarns. I finished a Scout's Swag pair yesterday, and I have two more pair--Socks That Rock and Lisa Souza--in progress.

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?
I do not crochet my socks--they seem too holey and bulky for my taste. I use both DPNs and two circulars when I'm working on socks. My circular needles aren't long enough for me to try Magic Loop, but I'm hoping I get a chance when I get some longer needles. (Christmas??? Hint, hint, DCA!)

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)
I make both kinds of heel depending on the pattern and whether I start toe-up or cuff-down. I do prefer a flap though--it fits my foot better. Actually, almost everyone for whom I have made socks says they prefer the flap also.

How many pairs have you made?
I have made more pairs than I can remember. I make at least one pair for each of the children every summer, and I knit socks all year long. They make great traveling projects because they're so easy to carry around. A lot of my socks have been given away, so I don't think I could even guess at an accurate count because of that.

So now you know almost as much about my sock history as I do, and in the spirit of Socktoberfest, I am now going back to work on my chosen socks of the day.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Socktoberfest Is Here!

All of my other projects are being neglected just so I can work on socks. Socks, socks, and more socks. I am loving Socktoberfest!

I finished Hoya Socksa #1 on Sunday night. I thought it was lovely; I thought it was perfect. I cast on for Hoya Socksa #2 and began the toe. Tra la la la la!

On Monday, I woke up and tried on Hoya Socksa #1, and . . . it didn't fit. Sigh. I thought using a slightly larger needle would give me a loose enough bound-off edge for the cuff of the sock, and I was horribly, terribly wrong! I spent Monday evening, re-working the bound-off edge and trying to achieve a cuff that would actually go over my heel. I looked up three or four different methods on the web, and either I couldn't understand the poorly written directions or the method didn't produce a loose enough edge. So after an hour or so of trial and error, I started experimenting!

I briefly remembered seeing in someone's directions how you can simply increase the number of stitches by 25% in the last row before binding off. My experiment included just a bit over 25%, and looks great! The cuff of the sock has 1 1/2 inches of 3 x 2 ribbing, so I increased one stitch between each of the two purl stitches all the way around the sock. I also bound off with a US size 3 instead of a US size 1 needle. It worked like a charm!

Now, I know I said I was a cuff-down kind of girl, and I'm sure you can tell that I am writing about a pair of toe-up socks. I realized in reading my pattern that my Hoya Socksa lace would not properly mimic the spires of Georgetown's Healy Hall unless they were pointing up, and the only way to make the pattern work would be to knit the socks from the toe up. It's not a bad way to make socks, but I still prefer cuff down.

My Hoya Socksas have a short-row heel--this is how I chose to avoid my aversion to toe-up socks. I generally like the look of a short-row heel because it mimics the heel in a store-bought sock. Uninformed non-knitters usually look at them and ask you where you bought your short-row socks, and this can be a great compliment since they obviously don't look hand-made. Socks with heel flaps and gussets just fit better though, and I absolutely prefer having a custom-fitted sock. I'll take the fit of a heel flap over the look of short rows any day!

I guess my next challenge will be learning how to do a heel flap in reverse to see if it fits the same or better than a regular heel flap. Then, and only then, will I become a toe-up convert.

Now quit reading blogs, and go knit some socks!!!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Adventures of My Traveling Socks

It's been quiet here on the blog, but with school back in full-swing, I'm finding it hard to dedicate time to it. I just want to knit in my free time!

This week my traveling socks got to have more fun than usual...

It all started with a real, live, grown-up kind of date. After tutoring a student in math and helping out in the weekly after-school Bible program at church, I skipped out and met the DCA at home. We arranged for our friend to pick up the kids after dinner at church and watch them for the evening. We went to Buca di Beppo for dinner which was fabulous as usual--1893 salad, Rigatoni Positano, tiramisu, and espresso. Hoya Socksa #1 got to see the restaurant and hang out at the table! After dinner, we hit a nearby Starbucks to support the ginormous corporate entity it has become--and the sock enjoyed a few moments of quiet knitting while I had even more espresso (Doppio Espresso Macchiato-yum!). We teachers have early mornings and require much caffeine for watching music shows mid-week. We walked over to the Sonic Youth show at the House of Blues and arrived over an hour early since the start time was pushed back an hour. While we were waiting, I cast on another sock in Socks That Rock Highway 30, because plain stockinette is much easier to fiddle with in the darkened basement music hall. The show was awesome, and to make up for last year, the sound was nearly perfect. It also helped that all the teenagers were banished to the balcony, while the true, long-time fans like the DCA got to enjoy the show from the floor. If you're a fan too, you should definitely check them out while they're on tour.

The socks were mostly neglected on Thursday as I finally cast on for Clapotis. I even ripped out the 52 rounds I had worked on the Socks That Rock the night before when I realized the sock I had started would fit the elephants downtown at the zoo. I did cast it back on and start working on it again--all it needed was four stitches fewer around the leg. Anyway, the Lisa Souza Max just wouldn't stop calling to me from the stash. I worked enough of Clapotis for the stitch count to be up in the 50s somewhere, and now it's safely stored back in the stash while I work madly away on the socks for Socktoberfest. I can't forget that I have some Scout's Indie Swag coming too, and I know the Clapotis will start begging for attention again soon.

As always, the socks went to the staff Bible study on Friday morning. Highway 30 got all the attention during the weekly video and discussion because stockinette allows me to concentrate on the topic. Hoya Socksa's pseudo-lace pattern requires too much thought. (What is it about the rhythm of sock knitting that permits someone to focus completely on what is being said? I don't think I will ever be able to attend another meeting without a sock.)

That afternoon, Roo and I left for our weekend camping trip with her Girl Scout troop. Of course, the socks went along. Hoya Socksa #1 garnered much attention while I worked on it Friday evening. The camp had no planned activities for the girls that night other than checking in and getting settled in cabins. I just sat on my bunk and knitted away on the sock while chatting with the other moms and listening to the girls yell and play wildly inside our cabin.

On Saturday, Roo, the socks, and I had a busy day. We started off with time on the challenge course, a class about skunks, and two crafts. As a parent observer, I just hung out in the background and worked away on Hoya Socksa #1. There were many curious stares and lots of comments about my progress on the sock. One particularly dear child asked why anyone would possibly knit socks. I felt obligated to explain that "once upon a time all socks were knitted by hand because you couldn't go down to Target to buy a pair." She seemed stunned by this information. After lunch, we had archery, a mini-hike, and two more crafts, and Highway 30 got most of my attention during those events. Some of the scouts seemed surprised that I had more than one sock in progress, and almost everyone commented on how beautiful the colorway is. I really can't agree more.

I spent Saturday evening sitting, knitting some more, and listening to even more wild yelling. After the campfire, I absolutely crashed and burned. I couldn't focus on the socks any more, and I curled up on my bunk with Brenda on my iPod and lay there while debating whether 9 p.m. on a Saturday is too early to go to sleep. The 30-minute hike to archery, the equally long return trip, and the constant activity all day just kicked my behind. I finally gave up and passed out around 9:30.

This morning, we left camp and practically flew home, so we could make it to church for Communion Sunday. Hoya Socksa made a brief appearance during the weekly message so I could concentrate on what the minister was saying. I have been banished to the back of the worship hall because of my sock addiction (my knitting distracts other worshippers--particularly teenagers whose parents asked that I move), but I REALLY do get more out of sermons when I have a sock in hand. I can tell you lots of details about the sermons I knitted through, but I can't tell you a thing about the ones where I just have to sit, listen, and keep myself from daydreaming. I know I'm not the only one with this problem--my two best friends at church are the same way. Is there a Church of Needlework out there???

This afternoon will be fiber-oriented as I claim some territory on the couch and settle in for an afternoon of knitting.

P.S. to all those desiring sock visuals: The Trekking socks are done and went to camp with me this weekend. My apologies for not having pictures of them and the socks in progress--I was armed only with a disposable camera for the weekend. I'll try to post some soon!