Monday, August 27, 2007

And now for something different

First off, an announcement: I am just about finished with the dratted pair of socks! I'm just about to begin the ribbing on the second sock! The heel has turned, the sock is fitting, everything is going beautifully. Wahoo!

And now for a review of the latest book I've read.

Over the weekend, I read the book First Light by Rebecca Stead. The book alternates between the view points of its two main characters -- Thea and Peter. Peter is the son of two scientists who have taken him to Greenland with them on an expedition to study Global Warming. Lately, Peter has begun to suffer from severe headaches, similar to the ones his mother has, and he has begun to see things that others do not. Thea is the last female in the First Line of ancestors who originally settled Gracehope, a community located underground in the middle of Greenland's ice cap. Lately the community has begun to outgrow the space where it is living. Thea is anxious about the possibility of exploring the surface above them to look for more space, and when she and her friend Mattias find a way up, they run into Peter, who is out exploring the area around his parents' camp. After Thea and Mattias return underground, Thea learns a disturbing secret about her mother that her family has kept from her throughout her life, but just as she discovers it, Peter arrives with his mother, who apparently is Thea's aunt who had been banished from Gracehope years before by Rowen, Thea's grandmother, who has refused to allow anyone to go to the surface out of fear of the persecution that drove community underground in the first place. After a climactic showdown between Rowen and Thea, the novel ends relatively happily. But the readers are left with the question of what the long-term effects of Global Warming are going to be on Gracehope, and how much time there is before the cap melts and the community falls into the ocean.

It was a captivating read. I finished the book around 12:30 at night because I simply couldn't wait until the next morning to find out what was going to happen next. There were enough twists and turns in the plotline to keep me interested, although the intelligence and technological adeptness of the Gracehope citizenry stretched my mind at times.

Anyone who has read and enjoyed Jeanne DuPrau's City of Ember, or Lois Lowry's Gathering Blue would enjoy this novel.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Gauge (or Weird Inexplicable Math Phenomena)

A coworker of mine has asked me to teach her how to knit socks. I am thrilled with this request. I couldn't be happier. So, (because I can't possibly part with stuff from my own stash) I have bought her two skeins of microspun acryllic and a set of size 1 needles (for you people who are used to the Metric system, I think it's somewhere around 2 mm). But this means, of course, that I need to be making a set of socks at the same time. So, when I bought the microspun, I also bought two skeins of a cotton blend yarn that I could make in to socks for myself.

So I cast on the cotton and began my ribbing. All is going well. And after the inch and a half of ribbing, I begin my pattern. Then, after about three inches, I take a good look at what I've accomplished. And I realize that for some reason, even though I got gauge with this pattern (7.5 stitches/inch), this sock is not going to fit.

I decide to adjust my stitch count and needle size. I also decide to do something I've never done before -- knit the sock toe-up -- in an effort to get a better fit. I rip out my previous attempt (a thousand curses -- that pattern was beautiful), shrink the stitches from 60 to 56, go down a needle size, and begin a different pattern.

After about two inches, I realize that the bloomin' thing is still too big. I don't understand this. The gauge gods must be having a huge laugh at my expense. My ankle is 8 inches around. I'm knitting (now) at a gauge of 7 stitches to an inch. 56 stitches should be the perfect number. But it isn't.

So I rip it back (again), cursing the gauge gods as I go. At least at this point, I don't have to rip it back the whole way, just to where I started increasing for the toe, and try again at 48 stitches.

This time, it works. (Hallelujah!) I continue with my pattern up the foot to the heel. But here, another problem arises. I misjudge how much I need to knit before starting the heel (even though I'm basing everything on another sock) and start the heel way too early. As a result, I have to rip the stupid heel back twice before finally getting one that will fit me.

I am over the heel now and have begun working my way up the leg. And the sock is still fitting. *phew* Now that I have gotten the hang of this thing, I think perhaps I will knit all my socks starting with the toe ;)

But never for someone else. Never ever for someone other than me.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


The other week, I read in a blog that I have linked to on my site (see Yarn Harlot for more information) about someone who is capable of recruiting knitters like flies to honey. She has discovered a knitting project where you are only given a little bit of the pattern at a time, and was encouraging others to join the project as well. When I read the blog, I laughed out loud at S's (she would be the yarn harlot, not the person who had originally discovered the pattern) weak will to resist this person. The idea of becoming completely vulnerable to a pattern project like this seemed hysterical to me.

The wool gods, it seems, have a sense of humor. This morning, I came across the blog Socktopia. It is a project where the blogger (and all her fans) knit a socks for a month that are all based on a certain theme. Last month, the theme was Harry Potter, and the blogger provided three socks based off of the different novels (one was based off Nagini -- I'm not entire sure of the reasoning behind this). This month, the theme is Mystery sock. Every Monday, a new part of the pattern is given out, so that by the end of the month, the knitter would have finished the socks.

Socks. Socks are my absolute favorite thing in the world to knit. They go fast (I can usually do a pair in a week), they're portable (a sock on the needles fits into my purse quite nicely), they're small (which means you can knit them any time of the year and won't get hot), they're versatile (you can do pretty much anything you want in the design), they're cheap (even with high-quality wool, the cost of the yarn is relatively miniscule because they don't use much yarn), they're always needed (if made correctly, a sock is the only hand-knit item that is made to wear out), and they're conversation starters (people tend to be fascinated by the fact that I can knit them). I never need an excuse to knit socks. Never mind the fact that knitting on tiny needles aggravates my carpal tunnel, or that anyone can buy perfectly good socks at Wal-Mart for mere pennies. From the first hand-knit socks that I slid onto my feet, I was hooked. There is no way I will ever be able to stay away from this blog.

The blog's website is Anyone can join anytime. It was originally designed to go through the end of the year, but it's been extended through next year as well. And if you knit fast, you can go back and work on the old monthly projects also.