Two Left Needles

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What's that in the bushes?

Hansel & Gretal

They look like socks! They look kinda familiar...

Hansel & Gretal

...but what are those white spots?

Hansel & Gretal


Hansel & Gretal
Started: 4/22/06
Finished: 5/6/06
Pattern: my own
Yarn: Danette Taylor's superwash merino in ... Seaweed?
Needles: #4
Notes: My Sockapaloooza pal was Molly of The Wild Swan. I wanted to personalize her socks so I read through her blog for ideas. When she signed up, she listed jewel tones first, and I happened to have the perfect jewel toned yarn. I had a hard time with the pattern until I read in her very first post that she loved fairy tales. An idea was born.

I don't know how I chose Hansel & Gretal, but once it got in my head, it wouldn't leave. I began thinking of ways to conceptualize the story, to symbolically represent it in socks. The breadcrumbs in the path were what I remembered most. Actually, I had to hunt down the fairy tale online to make sure I was remembering it correctly.

From breadcrumbs to path in the woods; it was a creative challenge I enjoyed from start to finish. I adapted the path from a pattern book, and out of trial and error grew the trees. I knit the second sock to be symmetrical:

Hansel & Gretal

and the path continued into the twisted stitch ribbing. The cast off edge was sewn to look seamless:

Hansel & Gretal

The final touch, the breadcrumbs, were stitched in place haphazardly:

Hansel & Gretal

as if dropped and eaten by birds.

Man, I came home yesterday and conked out. Woke up to wash up and was sure I'd be up all night but conked out again. Woke up this morning half asleep. Guess I was tired.

Photos of the MDS&W stash will have to wait because: [drumroll]

my Sockapaloooza socks came in!

Sockapaloooza socks

Rhonda from NC knit me a pair of cute Regia cotton socks in pretty summery colors. They feature lace detailing on the sides with complementing eye of partridge (that's what it's called, right?) heels:

Sockapaloooza socks

They're a bit big for me, but I know who they will be just right for.

Sockapaloooza socks

Look how closely the stripes match up:

Sockapaloooza socks

Thanks so much, Rhonda!

She also included 3 oz of blended Corriedale / Romney / Lincoln / Mohair / Tussah Silk / Flash from her friend Melissa. Lovely colors:

Sockapaloooza gift

Thank you!

The knitting is done! Socks have been washed and are drying. Not long now.

Here's where they were last night:

h&g - almost done!

Can't wait to send them off!

Here are the rest of the "also ran" trees. After the two initial and unsuccessful tries, I tried reversing the direction:

h&g tree attempt #3
kinda bush-like

and then switched gears. Knit-purl tree:

h&g tree attempt #4
too Christmas-y; also, looks better with a stockinette ground

Lace tree:

h&g tree attempt #5
blech; didn't bother finishing the top

Finally I went back to the bush-like one and added a trunk:

h&g tree attempt #6

I was originally going for pine forest. I don't know if the Black Forest is pine or not, but in my head it is. Ah, well. Close enough.

I have to tell you this. When I was a kid growing up in Toronto suburbs, birthday cakes were delicious Black Forest cakes bought from some yummy cake shop. Sweet but not too sweet. Chocolate shavings, just enough whipped cream, cherry on top. Moist. Light. I always looked forward to birthdays, mine, my brother's, my sister's. Loved those Black Forest cakes. Every time I hear Black Forest, be it Germany, ham or cake, I think of those birthday cakes and smile.

Only the ribbing left on h&g, and only the realization that after the ribbing I would still have to sew the bind off before washing it made me put down the sticks and back away from the knitting. Sleepy, bleary eyed, making mistakes. A good time to stop.

To distract you, here are some photos from the backburner. First, Stripey number plied up:

stripey number 2 ply

stripey number 2 ply

I just couldn't capture the colors, where are the purples? It's lovely colors like the dyed fiber, but it just looks blue here. At least you can see the yarn.

And the plied Sunfires silk as well:

handdyed silk - sunfires

It was only an ounce, not much at all. Too bad I didn't dye up more of that.

Speaking of silk, some lovely Interlacements rovings from eBay:

Interlacements silk

There's tons of it, and I want to go spin it!

Last, the handspun socks I worked on while listening to the Yarn Harlot:

handspun socks

This is the second yarn I spun on my (first) wheel, way back in February. Which I rushed through to clear up bobbins before my first official BASD meeting. Hehe. Plying took a lot longer than I thought. Still does.

Speaking of plying, Carole led me to Claudia's post about plying (good stuff), and now I realize that, since the stripey number had been sitting on bobbins for almost 2 weeks, they lost their energy and that's why it seemed I was overplying them. I wasn't. I picked up some pointers that I'm anxious to try out. Post Sockapaloooza. Almost done!

I've lost my first really good post through the cracks of technology. Click Post! Get the login screen and realize I've been logged out! Click back and get the login screen again! Realize my post is toast! It feels pretty crappy. Lesson learned.

So just an update picture today:

h&g - in progress

Sadly, that's still sock one. I'm worried about lack of snugness on the ankle. Sockpal's foot is bigger than mine (which is to say, normal sized) but all I have to compare to are my feet.

Much knitting remains.

I'm digging the guesses on the idea behind h&g and the third design element. Julie is channeling the h&g when she mentioned birds. It's definitely connected.

I meant to take some photos this morning of the also ran trees, but, being tired already, starting The Godfather at 8 pm (yay, TiVo!), then posting, meant I turned the alarm OFF instead of snoozing this morning. Yikes. No pictures.

Ah, but I do have this from a couple of days ago:

First Tree Attempts

Those are my first tree attempts. Hey, that top one, take out a pair of branches and it's the Chinese character for little! Which is how much it resembles a tree. (Imagine, Chinese calligraphy in knitting. Why not?) I was going for pine tree. Yeah. Not so much.

All the traveling twisted stitches is starting to hurt my hands so last night I took a break and spun. Well, plied, mostly. I finished that superwash merino I had dyed,

Spun stripey superwash
that stripey number spun up

that stripey number, and it came to 500 yards for 4 oz. 500 yards! First of all, that means I spun 1000 yards of really thin stuff. That's 3000 feet. (Or 4235 of my feet.) It only felt like 4000, though. Really. Second of all, that's a lot of yards for 4 oz! It's not even lace weight. I gulp at lace weight.

I'm pretty happy with the spinning, not so happy with the plying. Now that I think about it, I think I've only seen one person ply, and I was being polite (read: shy and paranoid) so I only looked for about 3 seconds. If you're plying at MDSW and a short Asian chick comes up to you and stares at your fingers, it's me. I won't bite.

for the second design element?

h&g - in progress

It's a tree! (I hope you see a tree there.)

h&g - in progress

On the leg, the path continues front and back, flanked by trees, a forest, if you will. I couldn't find a tree I liked so I made one up. I'll try to take photographs of the also ran's. One design element left. Anyone want to guess what it is?

srvana asked about how the path was knit up. The path knit stitches are twisted, separated by purls, and travel every other row. It's not difficult, just kinda... requires patience.

Thanks for the nice comments on the socks, both handspun and Sockapaloooza! I'm calling the latter h&g, I think it'll be easier to type.


Progress on h&g... progresses. I stumbled quite a bit on the second design element, searched books and the Web for patterns/solutions, and swatched several different ideas before settling on a workable pattern. I'll take pikchas tomorrow morning. Meanwhile, here's where I left off last night, just past the heel:

h&g - in progress

that sheepy place

Hey, guess what? Guess who's going to Maryland Sheep and Wool? Yup, me. How did you know?

Hehe, yup.



I know! Isn't that cool? I'm catching a ride with someone from BASD who is volunteering at the festival, and therefore arriving early and leaving late. I didn't get my act together in time to sign up for classes (honestly, I was in a bit of a daze about it and it hadn't sunk in... until... oh... a day or two ago?), so I'll be wandering around, trying not to spend all my money. I don't want to think about how much stuff will be there to tempt me. Okay, I do. :)

So yeah, I'm feeling a bit intimidated by the whole thing. Getting there early and leaving late, like a hardcore fiber nut or something.

Nudge nudge. Wink wink.

I'm worried about meeting people, knowing what to say. I'm worried about not meeting people and wandering around alone.

I know, it will be fine. Great. Fantastic! Mindblowing!! Or at the very least, pretty darned cool.

special mayo

Speaking of cool, look what arrived in the mail yesterday:


Heinz mayonnaise! All the way from the U.K., sent by Cat in what is, perhaps, the first ever (and possibly last?) yarn-condiment trade. If the shipping weren't so high and the travel time so long, we'd have a real trade route here. As it is, I shall horde my condiments, even the mysterious Brown Sauce, and make it last.

There was some chocolate, too, but it didn't make the photo shoot. Hehe. Thanks so much, Cat!

but not least

To Julie: thanks so much for your comment, I am so flattered! Oh garsh, you're too sweet. But yes, go dye and spin something!

I knew I needed most of the first Sockapaloooza sock done this weekend: there's not much time left! I've had a creative idea for the design for a while, but wasn't sure if it would work, or how to realize it. My first thought was to do it in lace, but that was problematic. Last night I thought I'd scrap the creative idea and just make a nice sock, and almost committed to that route before I felt I was copping out by not even trying.

I pulled out books o' stitches, charted, adjusted, knit some, frogged some, knit some, frogged some, and finally got to this:

h&g - in progress

which looks better on a foot:

h&g - in progress

I'm afraid the creative idea will be too much of a giveaway in the unlikely event the recipient sees this, but I will tell you the meandering lines represent a path. More as the pattern unfolds.

I'm sick. Flu, I think. Blech.

Here's the leftovers dyepot predrafted:

leftovers dyepot

and half of it spun up:

current projects

It's been a while since I spun bluefaced leicester and I miss it. I miss the springiness and softness of the finished yarn. Nice stuff.

Also pictured:

  • Picovoli, almost done. I want to finish but I know I won't be able to wear it for a while so I'm lacking motivation. However, I do want to start on the next summer knit so I best get cracking.
  • Yarn for my Sockapaloooza sockpal! It's Danette Taylor superwash merino in ... I don't know ... seaweed, maybe? Sockpal likes jewel tones so I think it's a good match! I looked for clues on their blog and decided to take an aspect of something they're interested in and use it for design inspiration. I don't know how it will work for socks, it might be one of those "cool concept, not so interesting for socks" kinda things, but I'm hoping it will be "cool concept, interesting socks". Or maybe even, "cool concept, cool socks!" Wouldn't that be nifty?
  • Stripey superwash merino in my continuing attempts to get a decent color representation. Here's another try:

stripey number

and another:

stripey number

Actually, the last one is pretty close!

Last night's dyeing yielded:

more stripes

Alpaca on the left, 100's merino on the right. I love how the colors came out! I couldn't wait to try some out, so tonight I spun up some of the alpaca, and man, was it tough! Not to mention a big mess. Had Scott running scared (though he braved the mass of shedding fibers and gave me a peck on the head). From what I understand, the trick with alpaca is to put just enough twist to hold it together; too much twist and it gets wiry and loses its softness. It's a slippery fiber, too. Well, I was doing fine until I started plying, and the second singles kept breaking on me. Guess "just enough twist to hold it together" is not quite enough if you're plying. It made a beautiful looking skein, though. I love the way it looks! And it's actually quite soft. I don't know what it would be like to knit with it, seems kinda hairy and like it would shed. I guess I'd better do a swatch. I know I need to knit more of what I spin to learn what makes a good-for-knitting yarn, ya know?

I'd like to do some more dyeing, but I'll need a new color combo. I think we've all seen enough turquoise, blue and violet to last us a while, eh? Not to mention all the turquoise, blue and violet we'll continue to see as I spin up the rest of the last 2 batches... hehe... any suggestions? :)

I learned: an hour is not enough time to ply this:

37: Superwash Winter Solstice 37: Superwash Winter Solstice

Speed spinning gave way to speed plying; I don't recommend it. Reckless endangerment.

I think I'm going to do another pass to make a tighter twist. I don't want my socks to wear out too fast. Sound good?

You know, it's the biggest single skein of handspun I own; it's frickin' huge! It barely fit on my bobbin, I jammed it full, and there was still yards left on the bobbins. I hated to cut the yarn but what else could I do?

Even though it's not evenly spun or plied, I like it. I like the colors. I like that I made it. My second wheel spun stuff. Good times, good times.

Yes, yes, the boucle boucle boucle!

I wasn't sure I'd be able to do it, or if I could, that it would look much like boucle. And in fact, in the beginning not only did I have no idea what they were talking about, but when I tried to spin the mohair (gorgeous silky mohair handdyed by Treetop Colour Harmonies) I felt like I'd never spun before. Every time I tried to get the wheel going it stalled out and spun in the wrong direction. I couldn't get coordinated. For a while. I felt like saying, "Dude, I so could do this yesterday!" After a little while I finally got a slow rhythm going, and a little after that, I was comfortably cruising in 2nd. The woman next to me sounded like she was in 4th, but I kept to my pace and hummed.

I had a few other problems, and while it didn't come out as I expected, it also looks just as I imagined:

38: Mohair boucle 38: Mohair boucle

Isn't it just wonderful? I wish you could see it in person, it's so soft and the mohair has a nice sheen and the colors are soft and glowing.


I've joined a coupla knitalongs. Did I mention? Let's see... You knew about:

I haven't decided on my challenge, but I've decided to go the "challenging/new to me" route vs. the "kill yourself and those you love by trying to knit a zillion stitches in 2 weeks" route. I think it's a good decision. Only 1 week to opening ceremonies!

As an adjunct I joined:

Yep, Boston area knitters crazy enough to join the 2006 Knitting Olympics. There are a lot of us. Go Beantown!

This year I wanted to get in on:

Who could resist monkeys wearing socks on all limbs? Those are monkeys, aren't they?

And finally:

I'm mad, I know I am. Knowing may be half the battle, but it doesn't seem to have much effect...