Friday, March 30, 2007

Finally finished something

Those socks that I started at the beginning of March? At last they're finished. It's almost embarrassing that they took me this long to complete, given that they're plain stockinette. I just have to remind myself that there was a two week holiday from knitting in there.

Yarn: Regia Strato in Orion (5741)
Pattern: Plain stockinette worked over 64 stitches, 2x2 ribbed cuff, slip stitch heel
Needles: Size 0 DPNs

Plain stockinette is good for the soul. Especially when the stripes (mostly) match up.

Let's see, these socks are the fourth ones I've made with Regia Strato. One might conclude (wrongly) that Strato is my favorite sock yarn. I like it just fine, but the reason I've knit so many socks out of it is that I have so freaking much of the stuff. When Webs put it on sale for crazy cheap last summer, let's just say I went a bit wild. I may be knitting Strato socks in perpetuity. (The Professor thinks I must have been a squirrel in a former life, such is my propensity to hoard collect "provisions." You should see my pantry.)

It's funny that the Yarn Harlot mentioned yesterday about her recent ordeal about knitting on an airplane, because I had almost the opposite experience a few weeks ago. I was happily knitting away on the flight from DFW to LAX when the flight attendant came by handing out napkins and pretzels. Upon noticing what I was doing, she exclaimed, "Those needles are so small! You must be really good."

I demurred good-naturedly, of course. After all, I was only working on plain stockinette socks. She went on to tell me how she enjoys knitting scarves, but on much larger needles. "There are so many great yarns these days," she explained. I fervently agreed, even though I'm almost certain that we were each thinking of different types of yarns (her: synthetic novelty yarns; me: fine wool, alpaca, cashmere, silk, etc.). Our knitting talk went on long enough that I half wondered whether she would just sit down next to me. (I wonder what other passengers were thinking.) In any case, it was refreshing and wonderful to meet another enthusiastic knitter so unexpectedly.

Now it's time to move on to a new project. (We shall not speak of the Urban Aran yet.) My sock rotation of late has gone something like this: (1) knit a pair for the Professor; (2) knit a pair for myself. Repeat steps (1) and (2). Since these latest Strato socks are for him, I had been planning to knit Monkey next for myself. And then...

I remembered that my niece's birthday is in April. Since the socks I'd sent my sister's children for Christmas were so well received, I decided I'd make them each a pair for their birthdays too. My niece is turning seven, and she is the girliest of girls. When I bought this yarn, it was with her in mind.

Smoky Mountain Fibers superwash sock yarn in Rosewood

It will be almost like knitting a pair of socks for myself, though. My niece may be not quite seven, but her feet are almost as large as mine. She's already taller than a lot of kids twice her age. Really, I'm amazed that universities aren't already recruiting her for basketball and volleyball.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Natural wonders

Pancake Rocks, near Punakaiki, NZ.

Rock formation near Punakaiki, NZ. Can you see the faces and other figures?

Franz Josef Glacier, NZ.

View of the Remarkables Range, near Queenstown, NZ.

Waterfall at Milford Sound, NZ.

View toward Queenstown from the Remarkables.

Moeraki Boulders. Natural wonders? Surely these were placed there by aliens.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Confession time

Come a little closer. I have something to tell you that you may find shocking.

I've done almost no knitting in the past two weeks.

I started out fine, really I did. In fact, I knit half a sock between DFW and Los Angeles. And then ... I just stopped working on it. Oh, I had great intentions of knitting while sitting in the passenger seat as we drove across the South Island. That plan didn't take two things into account, however: (1) I am extremely prone to motion sickness, especially in a car; and (2) I didn't want to miss a single bit of the scenery.

That half sock I completed on the first leg of our flight to NZ? I just finished it last night.

Whew, it feels so good to confess, I think I'll let you in on another shocker. I almost didn't come home with any yarn. It's unfathomable, I know. New Zealand is one of the world's great wool meccas, and yet, I had a hard time finding yarn. True, we spent most of our time in and around small towns in which yarn shops were scarce. I decided not to worry about it until we hit the larger cities. In Dunedin I saw loads of yarn shops; however, we had the misfortune to be there on a Sunday, and all the shops were closed.

Our last day in NZ was in Christchurch, and I was on a mission. The Professor recalled seeing a wool shop in the Arts Centre, so we decided to try that first. It turned out to be a lovely little shop full of handknits, and in one small corner, yarn. Handspun yarn. I felt like I'd won the lottery.

This is what I came out of the shop with. I believe they were both spun by the same woman, and I have no doubt that she is a lovely person. The blue yarn even came with three hat patterns attached. The price? $54 NZ for a total of 429 meters (pardon me, metres) of handspun. (That's under $40 US.) As I walked out of the shop, I half expected alarm bells to ring because I'd gotten such a steal. It's the perfect yarn souvenir, too: New Zealand wool actually spun by a Kiwi!

The Professor had actually encouraged me to buy more of the yarn. (Oddly, this was not the first time he basically had said to me, "I don't care how much yarn you buy." How lucky am I?) I think I showed admirable restraint. As it turned out, two skeins was enough to deplete the remainder of our NZ cash. Anyway, it would have taken some creative packing to fit a sweater's worth of yarn into my luggage.

Oh, I also came home with these. I'm only human, after all.

Believe it or not, the yarn was not quite the highlight of my wool experience in NZ. Remember that B&B I told you about with the sheep? Well, one of the proprietors, Fay, is actually an expert spinner. (I knew this beforehand; it's one of the reasons I booked the place. The Professor and I found both Fay and Stephen to be kindred spirits.)

Now, I've always been a bit hesitant to try spinning, but not for lack of interest. Mainly I'm afraid that spinning would take away from my knitting time. When Fay offered to give me a lesson, though, I couldn't say no.

It was fun. Really fun. I may be in very serious trouble. Might there be a spinning wheel in my future? Mentally I can't justify buying a wheel until I have another lesson or five. Also, I shouldn't consider such an expenditure until I am gainfully employed. But...

I have a job interview tomorrow. A new job really would cut into my knitting time, wouldn't it?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Flowers for a Friday

Although I'm not an official Eye Candy Friday participant, today I can't resist sharing some great flower shots I got in NZ. All of these are from the Christchurch Botanic Gardens. (Click for big.)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

The world is indeed round

I'm back, at least physically. I'll post photos and details later, but I just wanted to check in before I fall over. Until now I'm not sure I knew the true meaning of jet lag. And good grief, I have more than 450 unread entries on Bloglines. Eek!

Mere words are not adequate enough to express how much I loved New Zealand. The landscape is spectacular, the people are some of the friendliest I've met, and there are sheep everywhere.

These sheep are part of a small flock kept by the proprietors of a bed and breakfast where we stayed. Sheep at a B&B! What's not to love about this country?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The wearin' o' the green

The Ripple Weave Socks are finished!

Pattern: Ripple Weave Socks by Charlene Schurch
Pattern source: Fall 2006 Vogue Knitting
Yarn: Knit Picks Essential in Grass

This is a fun pattern. I just love the neatness of all the twisted stitches. However, I did make one modification. The pattern calls for an eye of partridge heel flap. Now, my love for the eye of partridge heel runs deep, but come on! These socks have a twisted rib cuff, twisted rib toes, and ... an eye of partridge heel flap? It didn't jive with me, so I did a twisted rib heel instead.

Much better! This way the heel is integrated with the patterning, just like the cuff and the toes.

humble apologies to Jared for shamelessly ripping off his photo idea

This likely will be my last post for a couple of weeks. Internet access may be sparse in the wilds of the South Island, but who knows? I might be able to post a photo or two along the way. Then again, blogging might very well be the last thing on my mind.

I'm off to finish up my packing. Take care, everyone!