a theory.

swift and winder

I have a theory about WIPs and startitis, and it goes something like this: without a swift and ball winder, the knitter is obligated to think on new projects before readying the yarn and diving in. Winding yarn by hand is a repetitive, sometimes meditative, often simply time-consuming, and occasionally quite annoying process. When you know, deep in your subconscious self, that you need to wind multiple skeins of laceweight by hand (a la Whisper), you think long and hard about the project before you commit. With a yarn swift and ball winder, all of that pre-project thinking (at least at first) is replaced by a little voice that says “Squee! I get to turn that little handle and make yarn cakes! In the kitchen! No oven required!”

emerald city wound

mara wound

I speak from experience.

It all started innocently enough: I needed to select and wind my yarn for the July pattern for the Socks from the Toe Up KAL (the On-Hold socks). I chose Shibuiknits sock in ginger, which has been waiting patiently for a special pattern. I’m planning to cast on later today.

Then, I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to have a vanilla sock on the needles to keep in my bag? These patterned socks are stunning, but they are not mindless, throw in a bag/take out the door/knit a few rows here and there socks. They are serious socks. Enter the Yarn Pirate sock in colorway Emerald City. (Isn’t it lovely?)

And then, I thought, socks can be tough to knit on while watching The Wire — I need something squooshier and fatter to work on in the evenings, something that is so simple and soothing that I can keep knitting while crazy things happen in Southeast Baltimore.

Thus, I wound up the Beaverslide merino lambswool in the snapdragon colorway (1 skein to start), which is destined to become Mara, a supersoft, brightly colored wrap. I’m already part of the way there:

mara started

I now fully understand how easy it is to somehow have a gazillion things on the needles. And I’m not complaining! I love my new toys. (For those interested, I broke down and got the new Paradise Fibers yarn swift after watching the video on their website. It didn’t hurt that they had a coupon for a discount on the swift AND a discount on the Royal ball winder. I may have acquired some more spinning fiber as well, but that was just to get me to the land of free shipping. You understand.)

No farm picture today — instead of coming right home and photographing the week’s haul, Boh and I went to see dear people and dog friends, eat farm food, drink homebrew and frolic in the yard — a lovely evening.

I will tell you that my share included: harukei turnips, beets, belgian endive, kale, chard, mint, parsley, garlic scapes, broccoli, sugar snap peas, and a few more strawberries…

FO: lacy ribs socks.

fo lacy ribs pair

fo lacy ribs kitchen

Details:

Yarn: Yarn Pirate superwash BFL in the cupcake colorway
Needles: 2 circs, 2.5 mm
Toe: Judy’s Magic Cast on (it really is magic!)
Heel: slip stitch heel, as per pattern
Bind off: Russian Bind off
Size: Medium
Start: June 16th, 10 PM EST
Finish: June 30th, 10 AM EST (whew!)

For those of you who haven’t been following along, I knit these as part of the Socks from the Toe Up KAL on Ravelry. The KAL is a long one — knitting through Wendy Johnson’s book, one pair per month. There are great prizes, folks at all stages of sock knitting, and a super supportive knitting community. I’m learning new things, and I’m having a great time.

fo lacy ribs boh

As you can see, sock supervising is exhausting work.

taste-testing, peas, pesto.

jaminaction

Strawberry-balsamic jam on a slice of fresh-from-the-oven homemade bread. Not a bad start to Sunday morning.

compoteinaction

Strawberry-rhubarb-fresh mint compote over plain, local yogurt. A mid-Sunday morning snack.

pickled sugar snap peas

Deb does it again — saw this recipe for pickled sugar snap peas over at smitten kitchen, and had to mix up a batch. I can start eating them this evening…

pesto

More green in a jar. In the spirit of eating everything in my share, I chopped up the remaining garlic scapes, picked my basil stems clean, tossed a few walnuts and a generous helping of olive oil into my mini-cuisinart and began blending, adding more olive oil and some salt and pepper to taste to get it right. My new favorite sandwich, courtesy of the folks up at P’s farm, is toasted bread (in a cast-iron skillet), cheese, pesto and as many greens as you can fit into a sandwich — fried egg optional. Yum!

But where are you, you may be wondering, on that sock? Is there a chance you’ll make the KAL deadline? I don’t even want to show you what Boh looks like this morning. He’s concerned. Very concerned. He thought the weekend’s canning adventures were over, and then yesterday he watched as I left for about an hour, Border’s coupon in hand, and returned with 2 more books on pickling and preserving…

sock2gusset

I did get a few solid hours of work on sock number 2 in yesterday, thanks to the very last episode of Season 2 of The Wire, and some knitting podcasts. I’m in the midst of the gusset increases, and if I can turn the heel and get an inch or two of the leg done today, I just might be able to eek out a full pair before it becomes July.

granny gear.

You know, the smallest (third) chain wheel on a bicycle with at least 3 wheels (a triple crankset). It makes it easier to ride uphill. I rode my bike across the country seven summers ago. 4200 miles, a handful of mountain ranges, and the realization that Missouri is not flat (I had conveniently forgotten the Ozarks), I was even happier to have that granny gear.

Today I moved my drive band to the “granny gear” (third/smallest whorl) of my Lendrum DT, and it struck me that the set-ups are similar: a smaller chain wheel or a smaller wheel makes something (the pedals/crank on a bike or the bobbin on the wheel) spin more easily per revolution of the wheel, making it (a) easier to turn the pedals on a bike while going uphill or (b) easier to make thinner yarn — fewer treadles required to get the bobbin going more quickly.  Among cyclists (or at least among the hardcore, of which I am happily not a member), to use the granny gear is to be shunned/jokingly ridiculed, while in the spinning world, a smaller whorl equals a finer yarn, and is often what the spinner is looking for as s/he develops his/her skills. (I think I got that right, but if I’ve switched or inverted my bicycle and wheel mechanics, I blame it on the strawberries.)

soulwindow1

This is Soul Windows, the colorway of the April 2009 Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club:  4 oz of 90% corriedale/10% nylon. I’m aiming for sock yarn, and so far, I think I’m on the right track. I am absolutely loving these blues!

soulwindow2

I’m working on a super thin single, but one that has enough twist to be sturdy. I’m about halfway through the first bobbin after about 2 hours of spinning today. It feels like it is taking longer than the targhee, which I’m interpreting as a good sign in the land of my wpi. We’ll see…

Also, for those worried about Boh’s emotional state, I did manage to cast on and work the toe of sock #2. I’m aiming to make more progress before bed tonight so that Boh can sleep soundly. It’s so hard to be a dog.

sock2lacyrib

Today was a good day: I woke up early and curled up with coffee, knitting, and Laura Gibson’s most recent album, Beasts of Seasons (link goes to an npr article with links to places to listen) which is incredible, and the perfect accompaniment to the sound of the rain hitting the plants outside my window. I made good progress on a great book I’m reading, and when the weather cleared up partway through the afternoon, Boh and I went for a run. I puttered around in the kitchen, slowly simmering a big meal of greens, and then I sat down at my wheel to spin until sundown. A quiet, calm Friday.

in the kitchen.

berriesx7

I picked 7 quarts of berries this morning. (Notice quart #7 — upper right, not in line with the rest. I learned today that a quart-sized yogurt container fits perfectly into the shallow outer rim of the cupholder in my CRV. Thus, I ate most of a quart on the drive home from the farm. Consider #7 to be exhibit A.)

berriesfreezing1

The  farm is offering unlimited berry picking as part of the share now that the strawberry patch is super ripe. I prepped most of what I picked today to be stored: trimmed off the tops, lined them up on a baking tray, froze them enough that they won’t stick together, and put them in small freezer bags so that I can slowly defrost them as I see fit later on this summer and fall.

glowingberries

I may go back tomorrow. There is nothing like picking berries in the sunshine; today it felt like a reminder that everything will be okay.

pestopasta

Last night (after an incredible yoga class that has me feeling a really good all-body ache today) I broke out one of only a few mechanized pieces of kitchen equipment in my possession to make garlic scape-arugula-cilantro pesto. For dinner, I tossed it with pasta, and sprinkled on some walnuts and parmesan, which were tasty, but totally unnecessary. This pesto can stand on its own!

pesto sandwich

For lunch today, I made what P (of the farm) calls “pan toast” (aka toast in a cast iron skillet) and made 2 sandwiches of greens, pesto, and a slice of swiss cheese. Heavenly.

pesto omelet

Because you can never eat too much pesto, for dinner tonight I made an omelet with eggs from P’s chickens, the last bit of the arugula I harvested, and of course, the pesto. I have a little bit left — enough for another meal or two that matches my kitchen!

You may be wondering about my knitting. Boh was quite worried about my progress on the lacy ribs socks, as is evident from the following photograph:

bohuneasysock

Good news! Boh can stop fretting (well, about the sock, anyway) because tonight I finished the first sock of the pair.

onelacysock1

one lacy rib sock2

I could have done a few more leg repeats, but I was starting to worry about the tightness of the bind-off and the fit of the ribbing — this was a problem with my last (the first) pair of toe-up socks. I was so excited about using all of the yarn that I don’t think I increased enough or in the right places to get a perfect fit around the fullest part of my calf, and the bind-off on those socks is a bit tight. (Also, to be completely honest, there is a timeframe for this KAL. I started late, so I’m cutting it close!)

I did the Russian bind-off here, and it created a super-stretchy cuff, which is perfect. I’m quite pleased with how this sock has turned out, but more importantly, I love that this week, with this sock, I’ve learned a new cast-on, a new bind-off, and a new heel!

Tomorrow, I will cast on sock #2.

happy dog mirror

Now there’s a happy dog. (He may be happy about my completed sock, but it might also have something to do with the walk we took down to the creek so that we could put our toes/paws in the cool water.)

Bedtime for this rooster. Happy almost Friday!

it really is magic.

lacyrib1

Have you tried Judy’s Magic Cast On? The instructions in Wendy’s book (printed with Judy’s permission) make this purchase already worth the cost. Here I am, 4 repeats into my first-ever socks on two circulars!

lacy rib on foot

I’m knitting the medium size to account for the stretchiness of the lace. I may also knit a slightly shorter foot to create a snug fit. I am absolutely thrilled with the way this colorway is knitting up, and I’m really enjoying knitting with 2 circulars! Victory all around, even if I am not able to finish these by the end of the month (and qualify for all of the incredible Socks From the Toe Up KAL June prizes). I don’t know why I didn’t try using 2 circulars earlier — it makes a lot of sense for a patterned sock — one needles has the pattern, and the other needle is the bottom of the sock, all in one place. Rather than become a hard-core advocate of one way to knit socks, I’m beginning to see the benefits of choosing needles that fit the pattern.  I may even have another go at Magic Loop (which I liked and have used for sleeves and things, but found a bit fiddly) — my Twisted Tweed Socks (rav link) were giving me some trouble around the heel, but maybe I need to try a different way of knitting those when I bring them out of hibernation.

Here’s one more close-up of my Lacy Ribs Sock:

lacy rib close up

Here’s hoping I can stick to my goal of equal amounts knitting/spinning and reading. I’ve put in some serious time on these socks in the last 12-14 hours, so as soon as I hit publish, I’m going to curl up with a book on the Gilded Age.

I think I mentioned something about farm shares and strawberries yesterday. Want to see this week’s haul?

csa green 3

Red lettuce, harukei turnips, kale, chard, broccoli, oregano, rosemary, basil, mint, 2 qts strawberries, more komatsuna,  mustard greens (!!), and a handful of calendula flowers to brighten my kitchen.

Time to get to work!