Olympic Knitting & Balcony Gardening

I’m not officially participating in any version of the Knitting Olympics, in that I did not cast on these socks during the opening ceremonies nor do I plan to finish them in time for the closing ceremonies, but the Olympic spirit did move me to choose this particular snowflake motif at this particular time. These are Anne Hanson’s Rimefrost socks, knit in MacKintosh Yarns’ Celtic Sock Yarn, in the Aubergine colorway. I was powerless to resist this purple/gray colorway when I discovered it, and in addition to buying a skein of it I immediately notified Hirophasic, who shares my love of purple/gray and gray/purple. I rather like the idea of having color-buddies — people with whom to swap pictures of particularly stunning examples of the colors we love, whether in yarn form or otherwise. So purple/gray is covered, but if anybody out there wanted to be my very-dark-blue/turquoise buddy, or my deep red/brown buddy, or my range-of-dark-greens buddy, I would be pretty thrilled.

As you can see in the picture, I’m done with one sock and am through the cuff on the other. This pattern is great; it goes fast, looks complicated, but is pretty easy to follow and it’s easy to tell if you made a mistake before things get too drastic. And the yarn is great, too; it’s a lighter-weight sock yarn, and combined with the lacy pattern it’s knitting into something that I wouldn’t necessarily call a winter sock, but that’s just fine for California.

I’ve also been making some pretty decent progress on my Fernfrost scarf, which is about 2/3 of the way done:

It’s a great pattern too, but the chart can be a little intense, and I’m grateful to have the easier Rimefrost sock to zip through as a break from it. I feel a little silly knitting all these patterns with “frost” in the name, while my friends & family on the east coast battle through Snowpocalypsemaggeddon 2010 and I put on a sweater when it gets down to 65 degrees, but we have been having one of the wettest, coldest winters that I’ve ever seen since I moved to California. And my plants have been loving it! Remember when I brought these guys home?

That was them in November, out on our balcony right after I transplanted them into those big pots. After all the rain this winter, this is them now:

They’ve lost their flowers, but that’s normal for winter — the flowers should be back in the spring or summer. I’m so pleased; after a disastrous try at balcony gardening when I first moved to California & didn’t quite understand how often plants need to be watered in such a dry climate, I was worried that I had lost my green thumb. But I haven’t even had to water these guys in about a month; I check their soil every week, but it’s always moist from the rains. I keep meaning to get them a bench or something so they can get more of the sun that comes in over the edge of our balcony, but they look to be doing pretty well without it. Hooray!


Why, hello there! Long time no see! Sorry to let this blog go dark for so long, but I was working on my TOTALLY AWESOME BIG EFFING RED BLANKET OMG and I thought a constant stream of updates on one project for so long would get boring. But now that my Girasole is done, I find it anything but boring! Here’s a shot of the center sunflower motif up close:

Yayyyyyyyyyy. I am beyond pleased to have finished this so quickly — and just in time for some more overcast weather. I was worried that what passes for winter here in southern California would be over by the time I finished making this, but in retrospect I shouldn’t have been — Girasole doesn’t have any more stitches than a large shawl, it just seems intimidating because it’s knit in worsted weight wool & therefore is ginormous. I actually finished knitting this two weeks ago, but Pat & I spent a week visiting Austin and I didn’t get a chance to block it until this weekend. It was very nice to knit during the coldest, rainiest month I’ve ever spent in SoCal, though — it was very snuggly to have a big blanket-in-progress on my lap all that time.

And now it will facilitate couch naps! Knitting this was every bit as fun as everyone says it is — the constantly changing pattern gives you something to look forward to and mark your progress by. I omitted the last repeat of the last chart because everyone on Ravelry was bitching about how much yarn the edging took and I didn’t want to run out. I thought I had enough, but since I’d special ordered the yarn from goddamn Nebraska I was not in the mood for a nailbiter. It turned out that I would have been fine; the edging took somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 yards, which is basically what I was expecting. I also didn’t find the edging nearly as tedious as everybody else seems to have; the pattern for it was easily memorizable and it just took a couple of nights in front of the John Hughes movies that Pat & I have been working our way through courtesy of Netflix. I suspect that most people are so anxious to be done by that point that the edging seems like it takes forever, but I had a pretty zen attitude about it — I was frankly pleased to be so close to done so quickly.

What did irritate me was the blocking process — I was a little shocked that pinning out the damn thing took over three hours and an emergency trip to Rite-Aid for more safety pins. Earlier in the week I’d visited two LYSes and called a third looking for more rust-proof blocking pins, but nobody had them. I could have driven to Jo-Annes, but it was too far for me to bother, and I thought I had enough safety pins on hand to make it. But alas. One of the many ways in which I look up to Anne Hanson is her infinite patience with the blocking process — she claims to actually like the pinning-out process and find it soothing and meditative, but I have not yet ascended to that plane of existence.

Here I am demonstrating how this blanket is going to help with my dissertation research:

And here is a longer shot of the blanket on the couch, demonstrating a little more clearly how it ties the room together:

I’ve got a couple different small projects on the needles now, but I’ll save them for my next post. For now, I’m off to do some very snuggly reading!