Sunday, February 27, 2011

Finished Object: Socks for Unc 1

I might as well drop it now; “Socks for Unc 1” should simply be “Socks for Unc”.

I have been working on these enormous beasties in one way or another since I bought the yarn over Labor Day Weekend, 2010, and finished them with only a week to spare before their intended’s birthday.

Do they not look huge to you? Here’s another photo with one of a pair of socks for me alongside for comparison.

Yes. Huge. But I’ve measured and remeasured the socks, and they are exactly where they should be based on the measurements I took of Unc’s foot last year. Of course, given that he lives several states away, I have been unable to confirm on the actual foot. That makes me nervous. And when I give it to him, do I say, “Please let me know how they fit. If they are too big, bring them back the next time you visit and I’ll frog and start them over”? I think not.

A. If they are off at all, they are off marginally. Hardly worth my time to remake them.

B. When I measured his foot last year, he was too busy chatting with a distant friend of his to give me even give me even a few minutes of focused attention to complete that simple but essential task. Picture this: a room full of family and friends - he in a wing back chair with one shoe off talking to a woman sitting across from him - me kneeling on the floor at his feet with a tape measure, notepad and pencil.

Unc: (blah, blah, blah, blah...)

Me: Please lift your foot.

Unc: lifts his foot (blah, blah, blah, blah)

Me: Please point to the base of your big toe.

Unc: pointing to the base of his big toe (blah, blah, blah, blah...)

Me: How high do you like your socks to go on your leg?

Unc: About here, pointing to mid-point on calf (blah, blah, blah, blah...)

Given that Unc is by all rights the patriarch of our extended family, there was something “foot washy” or perverse about that exercise. And that on top of the simple rudeness of not giving me even a few minutes of focused attention for an essential step in making his socks when I had months of solid knitting time ahead of me to make them happen... Well it was rude.

Could I have waited until he was done talking? No. I had been at the gathering for a few hours already, and we needed to leave to visit a sick relative who was not there. And Unc was leaving for home early the next day. No. He chose that place and that moment because he wanted to be the center of attention. He wanted to show off to his friend and the rest of the family that his niece was going to be making him his first (and his last) pair of handmade socks.

I chose to ignore it at the time, but as I knit every stitch on every row, these realizations circled my thoughts. By the end, there was a tad more bitterness than love and appreciation knit into them. Plus, he flew the “I’m allergic to wool” flag on me so I was forced to use a fiber that I find finicky and joyless to work with.

Four skeins of Panda Cotton 0463 Trail Mix knit on size 1’s. Length 11" from heel to toe. Stitch pattern can be found here.

The wrapping paper was purchased at a non-closing Borders. It will probably receive more praise than the socks inside.

Wrapped and outa’ here!

The realization that the “socks-from-hell” are finally done has blissed Piña out to the max.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Kitten Added for Scale

Quick progress update on Socks for Unc 1. Both ginormous socks have reached the estimated toe decrease point at 9". Total length of foot = 11". Days left before mailing deadline = 7.

Good Lord my uncle has honking huge feet!
In Memory

I was saddened to learn this morning of the passing of movie producer Walter Selzer. For better or worse, sci-fi fans of my generation have been forever changed by his films Soylent Green (link to Movie Trailer), and The Omega Man. It has been many years since I have seen Soylent Green, yet the memory of certain scenes are as vivid as the day I watched them on KCTV's Saturday noon Science Fiction Theater.

One day very soon I’ll borrow my MIL’s lava lamp, whip up a batch of chili, and settle in front of the television to a delicious and retro sci-fi double feature.

Here’s to you, Mr. Selzer.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Socks for Unc 1 Make a Pilgrimage... Dwayne’s Photo—the last place in history to process Kodachrome transparency film.

(Thank you Grant! That was one of the funnest interviews I’ve done in a good long while!)
The Great Snow Melt of 2011

It has begun...

Small patches of exposed grass are expanding into larger tracts...

Two of the three walkway lanterns “depicted” in this blog post a few weeks ago are now clearly visible, and the third is beginning to come into view.

We even took an official yard walk on Sunday. No bulbs yet. No witch hazel blossoms. But the grass seed that I broadcasted for dormant seeding just before our first snowfall in December is now clearly visible, plump and well-watered. And signs of rabbits or some other similar creature trying desperately to get a bite of something green to eat in this unending whiteness.

Not all the yard is walkable yet. The garden stairs will be the last to be exposed due to their shady location and the way the snow naturally drifts in high blizzards—something that seems to be more common every year.

But soon, very soon. Especially with temps expected to be close to 70° mid-week, and even overnight temps above freezing.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

(Not So) Helpful Hints

I recently received a friendly emailed garden reminder from a large home improvement box store. This month for my geographic region it suggests that I should walk around the garden and note where the early spring bulbs are coming up.

Right. I’ll get right on that.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

My Favorite NA Winter Warmer

Sometimes recipes provided on the national morning news shows are lame to semi-icky. Other times they rock my world. This recipe for Spiced Orange Tea is one I dearly love. When done properly (meaning with my little spins) its warmth penetrates the bones, and is a lovely change-up to the cup-after-cup of steaming mugs of coffee, tea, and cocoa that are essential this season.

Follow the link above to Emeril’s recipe. But I suggest that you use fresh squeezed mandarin or clementine oranges in place of regular oranges. Orange juice can fill in the gaps, but should not comprise more than 1/3 of the total juice because it is too thin and watery. Mandarins or clementines really richen this hot drink! He also calls for orange pekoe tea, which I remember my mother buying regularly when I was small. But when I first tried out this recipe in the winter of '09-'10, I found orange pekoe oddly missing from the store shelves, and I stopped at about half a dozen chains and one-offs. I finally opted for a box of regular black tea bags, and that seems to do a fine job.

Once I realized that we’ve had snow on the ground since December 4, 2010 (!), a batch of spiced orange tea became a necessity.

Piña, moments after being told 5 more inches of snow were in the forecast: stunned and more than a little disappointed.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Starting Down the Straight Away

Socks for Unc I are well past their critical stages. Ribbing? Check. Cuff? Check. Heel flap? Check. Heel turn? Check. Gusset? Check. Now both socks are set for the foot straight away, with seemingly miles of uninterrupted stitches between me and the toe decrease. We’re talking a man’s sock. And a large man’s sock at that. And did I mention I only have to the end of this month to finish and post them?

So it’s a happy thing that the library sent me a notification that they are holding Season 3 of Dexter for me. With that, and another snowstorm less than 24 hours away, I hope to get some solid sock knitting in.

Most of my other knitting projects have been set to the aside due to this rapidly approaching deadline, but oddly the only other one I’ve been devoted to daily has been Can-Can.

I know!

It and I developed not just a truce but a friendship in Hotelville San Diego. Frankly I’m afraid that if I put it down even “temporarily”, it will get shoved to the side and the friendship long forgotten before I make time to pick it up again.

In the short time we have had her, Piña and Nacho have developed an acceptance that has blossomed into fondness and playfulness.

I keep it and the instructions on the sewing table in my craft room/Piña socialization-and-recreation-room, and find myself doing one row or maybe half a row or sometimes two rows while she’s running laps, rearranging her environment, attempting to terrorize our other cats, or deliberately and delightedly removing the strips of masking tape with her teeth I had carefully placed on my winter quilt to mark the lines I need to hand-quilt. Okay. That last activity doesn’t last long before the knitting gets set down and her behavior encouraged in a different more positive direction.

These small daily doses of Can-Can have brought me to approximately 1/3 of where I was on the back before I frogged it. That feels good. Soon, and with regular diligence, I may actually find myself knitting virgin territory, and on fiber that hasn’t had the sheen worn off from undergoing repeated cycles of knitting and frogging.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

A Study in White

Blizzard 2011 has passed, and left a sea of bone-chilling white in its wake.

There are three solar pathway lights in this photo:

You’ll just have to take my word on that.