Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thankful for Homeowners Insurance (Among Other Things)

Happy (slightly belated) Thanksgiving to those of you that observe it, and happy late November to those of you that don't.  It has been a great weekend of feasting here at chez woolly, and I have a lot to be thankful for.

I am thankful for Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie
We hosted two meals here.  My oldest daughter came home from college (I say that like she's going to college on the moon -- she's in the same town as we are, we just don't get to see her nearly enough because she has silly "work responsibilities" in addition to school), along with my niece Sarah and Koren.   It was a lovely dinner, and I make a damn fine turkey if I do say so myself.

And also pie
Yesterday we hosted Friendsgiving and had a mighty feast of leftovers.  Jess and Koren brought over some of their leftovers to add to what we had left and a second mighty feast was enjoyed.

And yes, there was more pie.

You can tell it's apple pie because there's an apple on it.
I baked a lot of pie, y'all.

I am also thankful for homeowner's insurance -- and yes that probably should sound a little ominous. The drywall ceiling collapsed in the remodeled attic space that is connected to Morgan's bedroom, and there was evidence of moisture damage in the decking of our roof.

I have certain basic expectations around what I need my roof to do.  Keeping water on the outside of the house is somewhere near the top of that list.  (You had one job, roof...)

Carl and I had replaced the roof after we had a lot of hail and tornado damage about ten years ago.   Carl actually ended up doing almost all of the work himself, with occasional assistance from some of our friends.  I learned during this time that while heights don't bother me, ladders do.  So I didn't end up helping all that much.

Anyway, we were giving each other the side eye and wondering if we'd somehow managed to screw up the roof (and it took ten years to notice?  I don't know, we were both kind of freaking out due to the giant freaking HOLE in the ceiling of one of our upstairs rooms.)

This is not good.

Carl called a roofer to come out and give us a quote.   Wonder of wonder and miracle of miracles, the roofer said "looks like wind damage to me, you should call your insurance company."   Which we did, and long story somewhat shorter the insurance dude agreed and cut us a check.

So Carl called the roofers back up and scheduled them to come out and replace our roof on Thursday.  Last Thursday.  Yes, THAT last Thursday.  The one with the turkey and cranberries and pie.

He very sensibly broke this news to me while I was at work in Franklin and too far away to smack him.

That said, while I wasn't entirely prepared to be woken up at 6:30 in the morning by cheerful men running around and banging things on my roof (at least they were cheerful), the whole thing was done and over with by 2:00 p.m., and my roof is replaced and paid for.  And we weren't having dinner until 5:30 anyway, so no harm, no foul.

And hey!  We have enough money left over from the insurance payout to fix our septic tank.

The one that's under the deck that the previous homeowners built.


I might have started a bit of a Christmas sock on Thursday, in between cooking a feast and listening to pneumatic guns firing on the roof.

Just to take the edge off.  You understand.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

FO(s): A Coupla Cowls

There's been a flurry of knitting activity over here at chez woolly, but as I threatened earlier this month, I can only tell you about some of it.  I'm mixing a healthy dose of selfish knitting in with my gift knitting though so that I don't rage-quit forever and take up basket-weaving or tying knots for fly fishing or something.

I've finished the 3 (4) Color Cashmere Cowl out of Knit Picks Capretta earlier this week.  It hasn't been blocked yet, but the ends are all tucked in, and I'm calling it good.

The light has been all wrong to get really good pictures lately.  We are entering into the season of harsh light that is only available on weekends.  In another few weeks it'll be dark when I leave the house and dark when I get back home again during the work week.  So as far as I'm concerned that means there is no sun Monday through Friday in the winter.

Last year I solved for this by taking my finished objects into work and taking pictures there.  I've recently had to move out of my office, so that solution might not be available for me.  (And as I typed that I realized that the solution is to bundle up and go outside during my lunch break.  I can find a scenic spot to stage photographs somewhere near my building.)

Anyway, the cowl went together without a hitch, and this time I didn't run out of any of the colors before I was done, like I did with the other one.  Somewhere between using four colors instead of three, and purchasing a commercial yarn (rather than the indie cashmere/silk I got at Stitches) I had more than plenty.   I did manage to use up all but about a gram of the light gray, but I have leftovers of all the rest.  Perhaps I'll do some wristers to match the cowl.

Project Notes

Pattern: 3 Color Cashmere Cowl by Joji Locatelli
Yarn:  Knit Picks Capretta in Caviar, Platinum, Harbor and Turmeric
Total Yardage: 621
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm)
Started: September 23, 2015
Completed: November 18, 2015

Once my second giraffe neck-warmer was finished, I decided I wanted to use some of the new yarn I picked up at SAFF (note to self:  what if you used some of the yarn you picked up LAST SAFF?)

I also wanted a quick fix kind of project.  Something you can just throw yourself into and then come up for air two days later with a finished object.   I knew I wanted to use the Twist Fiber Studio Vanderbilt Bulky I had in teal and a purple/pink variegated.  I don't normally knit with bulky, but something about these colors and the delightfully soft yarn base just called to me.  Also Koren was there chanting "BUY IT BUY IT BUY IT" so that might have been a factor.

I dug around on Ravelry looking for patterns, and ran across the Modish Cowl by Stephen West.     I made a couple of adjustments to allow for the fact that I only had about 160 yards, and BOOM!  This morning I finished weaving in the ends and sewing it closed.

Morgan was very sweet and modeled for me
This is one of those really great uses for garter stitch.  It's simple, pleasant, squooshy, and graphic.  I love it.

Over all I'm really happy with it, and could easily see knitting another variation (possibly long enough to wrap twice, out of a worsted weight?  The possibilities, they are endless.)

Project Notes

Pattern: inspired by the Modish Cowl by Stephen West
Yarn:  Twist Fiber Studio Vanderbilt Bulky in "Crystal Blue Persuasion" and "Roller Rink Disco Party"
Total Yardage: 164 yards
Needles:  US 11 (8.0 mm)
Started: November 20, 2015
Completed: November 22, 2015

A++ would knit again.

Now I just need to decide if I'm going back to working on Christmas Gifts or if I'm going to say "ta heck with it," and Grinch-along with the Knitmore Girls.  Stay tuned for further developments as they transpire.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

FO: Bankhead Hat

So, the thing that you should know is that I tried to give Rowan a hat for Christmas last year.  Well, actually, I successfully gave Rowan a hat last year, but it was entirely insufficient to cover his manly brainpan and voluminous hair.  (It looks great on Jess though, so there's that.)

Anyway, I'm not sure Rowan even wants a hat, but opening a present on Christmas Day, trying to wrestle it on to your noggin and having to give up because, just... no.  Well, that's no fun for anyone.

And after the great success with the striped sweater I know that he does actually appreciate and enjoy receiving hand knits.  Though, and this may be my downfall, there was a great deal of consultation around the sweater.  This hat? I'm just springing it on him.

This hat is actually rather greener than this.
(On the other hand, it's just a damn hat.  It took like 5 hours, tops, so if he doesn't like it, I'll be bummed from a "gave the kid that's hard to gift for something lame" aspect, but in terms of pure time and energy outlay?  I'll be fine.)

Confession time:  I bought yarn for this.  No, more than that.  I bought acrylic for this.  I know. I know.  But hear me out -- this is a hat for a 14 year old dude.  I picked up some Lion Brand Heartland at the Hancocks down the way (and okay, I might also have gotten some Bernat Satin in Navy too.  I needed options didn't I?)

Project Notes

Pattern: Bankhead by Susie Gourlay
Yarn:  Lion Brand Heartland in the Joshua Tree colorway
Total Yardage:  135.5 yards
Needles: US 7 (4.5mm) 16" circular
Started: October 21, 2015
Completed: October 29, 2015

Saturday, November 07, 2015

FO: Big Socks for Big Feet

It is with happiness and no little sense of relief that I report to you that Carl's Big Dude Socks are (finally) done.

This is the first pair I've ever knit for him, so I didn't really know what to expect.  I started making plans before I realized that my gauge had changed, so right off the bat I started with some faulty assumptions.  I measured his calf, did some maths based on what my gauge had been, and cast on.

No I didn't do a gauge swatch, don't be ridiculous.

Anyway, I knew going in (and in fact made mention in this very blog) that it might take a couple of tries to get it right.  And so it did.   I knit on the first sock half-heartedly for five or six months, until I'd finished the heel flap and about half the gusset stitches.  In July I finally faced the music and admitted that the socks were too big at the calf and too small across the instep.  An uncomfortable combination at best.

There was nothing for it but to frog and start again.

The second attempt was far more successful.

One of the challenges that I needed to face was, and there's no way to put this delicately, Carl's weird-ass feet.  The diagonal line from his heel to the top of his foot (what the heck is that called?) is longer than average.  (I guess, I mean I don't really go around measuring a lot of dude's feet.  Maybe they're perfectly normal.)

(They aren't perfectly normal. They're weird.)

This bit here that's in red -- on Carl's feet that line is particularly deep.  He has bootylicious heels, or something.  Anyway, I needed to create extra room through that part of the sock.  My solution was to knit the heel flap longer.  A longer heel flap means more stitches picked up for the gusset, which in turn means a deeper gusset, which  means that his weird-ass foot foots in the sock perfectly.


And since he loves them, and I already bought yarn to do another pair, I'm going to write down what I did,  (And if you want to knit socks for Carl, or some other weird-footed dude of your acquaintance, you can too).

Carl's Big Dude Socks

CO 76 stitches, join in round, being careful not to twist (unless your man's foot is actually a klein bottle, in which case twist away, you know your business better than I do).

K2 P2 for approximately 2 inches or until you've lost the will to live, whichever comes first.

Purl across, decreasing 4 stitches evenly across, using a P2tog.  (72 stitches).

K3, P1, until desired leg length is reached.

Heel Flap

Rearrange the stitches so that there are 37 stitches on the instep, leaving 35 stitches for the heel flap. The instep should begin and end with a purl stitch -- this makes for a pretty transition down the length of the foot.

At this point you have a decision to make.  The clever among you will have realized that an odd number of stitches and a traditional Slip 1, K1 heel flap don't mix.  I solved this by ignoring it and did the following:

Turn work.

R1:  Slip 1, p across.
R2:  Slip 1, K1 across until the last stitch, K.

If that bugs you, feel free to add an extra stitch to make the heel flap an even number of stitches.  But I promise you, no one will ever notice.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 a total of 22 times (44 rows).  (A "normal" heel flap would be closer to 18 repeats and 36 rows.  This is where I built in the extra space for Carl's bodacious heel).

Turn Heel

R1: Slip 1, P19, P2tog, P1
R2: Slip 1, K5, K2tog, K1
R3: Slip 1, P to 1 stitch before gap, P2tog, P1
R4: Slip 1, K to 1 stitch before gap, K2tog, K1

Carry on repeating rows 3 and 4 until you run out of heel to turn.  (I am really assuming you are already familiar with basic heel flap sock construction.  If you aren't, I'm very sorry and would like to recommend Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's "Sock Recipe: A Good Plain Sock" as a great place to start.  It's in Sock Rules, which you should totally own.)


Pick up and knit stitches along the side of the heel flap.  You'll pick up 1 stitch in each slipped stitch chain.  You should be getting 22 stitches. (This is not rocket surgery.  Pick up the number that makes sense, and just make sure the other side matches.)

Work across the instep in pattern.

Pick up and knit stitches along the other side.

Arbitrarily decide that your round now begins at the back of the heel.  You can put a stitch marker if it would make you happy to do so, though I rarely bother.

R1: Knit to two stitches before the instep.  K2tog.  Work across instep in pattern.  SSK, K to end of round.
R2: Knit to three stitches before the instep.  K2tog, K1.  Work across instep in pattern.  K1, SSK, K to end of round.
R3: K to instep.  Work across instep in pattern, K to end of round.

Repeat Rounds 2 and 3 until 35 stitches remain on the bottom of the foot.   (72 stitches total: 37 across the instep, 35 on bottom).   If you used a stitch marker to mark the back of the heel, you can take it out now.

Work even until approximately 2" before end of foot, ending after knitting the stitches on the bottom of the foot.


Rounds will now begin right before the first stitch of the top of the foot.

R1: Knit 1, SSK, knit to three stitches before the end of the top of the foot, K2tog, K1. Knit across the bottom of the foot  (70 stitches total: 35 on top, 35 on bottom)
R2: Knit
R3: Knit 1, SSK, knit to three stitches before the end of the top of the foot, K2tog, K2, SSK, Knit to three stitches before the end of the bottom of the foot, K2tog
R4: Knit

Repeat rounds 3 and 4 until 28 stitches remain.  Then repeat round 3 until 18 stitches remain (9 on the top of the foot, and 9 on the bottom).

Kitchener closed and Bob's yer uncle, you've got Big Dude Socks!

Caveat Lector:  I just typed these notes up from memory, and they certainly have not been tech edited. They're just basic, heel flap socks with a longer than average heel flap tho'.

Project Notes

Pattern:  Basic socks, see above
Yarn:   Supersocke 4-fach Mali Color,  "Brown Shades" colorway
Total Yardage:  440 yards
Needles:    US 1.5 (2.5 mm), 2 16" circulars
Started:   January 22, 2015 and July 12, 2015, depending on how you're counting
Completed:  November 1, 2015

Friday, November 06, 2015

Have Knitting, Will Travel

Last weekend was SAFF, or the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair if you're fancy, and a good time was had by all.

This is a picture heavy post, y'all.  Sorry-not-sorry.  (Also what are you complaining about, you on a dial up or something?)

We left Murfreesboro at the crack of 8:00 a.m. and drove straight on to a little berg outside of Knoxville where we left wee Bu, happy as the proverbial clam, with her grandma.  Bu is a child of a different disposition from her older sister.  Older sister would not have suffered staying behind at Granny's gracefully.  Bu was pretty much, "Sure, yeah, see ya, bye.  Granny and I have stuff to do... are you still here?"

Then off we went for Asheville.   We stopped at the Tupelo Honey Cafe for a late lunch slash early dinner (side note: they have built a Tupelo Honey in Franklin across the street from my office.  Cue high-pitched, inarticulate sounds of joy).  

Bestie Jess and I at Tupelo Honey Cafe in Asheville

We walked around downtown Asheville for a bit (whereupon I suffered from a bout of camnesia.  Took no pictures the entire time).   But I did prove that I can navigate on foot from Tupelo Honey to Purl's Yarn Emporium from memory, so there's that.  We didn't buy anything, because SAFF and the markets were the next day.  It was fun to poke around and look though.

We also passed by a wig shop (because why not?) and I kept muttering, "Vhen vill you vear vigs?" every time I saw the place because I think I'm funny (YouTube link).

Other than a trip to Target and some truly mediocre live music paired with some truly fantastic goat cheese balls (not a euphemism) at the hotel bar, that was pretty much it for Friday's excitement.

Saturday is when shit got real.

Now, SAFF is not in the same building as it used to be, and they moved the weekend too.  I truly missed the "THIS IS NOT THE TRACTOR SHOW" sign this year, but whaddya gonna do?  The new venue meant that the vendors were nicely spaced and that there was plenty of room to move around, but since everything was all on a level, you totally lost the SHOCK AND AWE spectacle of seeing the vendor floor spread out down below in the arena when you first walk in.

Not that there wasn't plenty of shock and awe to be had.

Best Jess is not amused at my picture taking shenanigans

Morgan was very patient with me tho


I picked up a gradient kit in these colors from the Unique Sheep.

Who doesn't love a llama in a hat?

How gorgeous is this wool rug?

Bestie Koren and I at the Vendor Market

So that night, drunk on yarn fumes, we headed back to the hotel to roll around in our yarn see what we'd bought.

Morgan fell in love with some alpaca.  We had to tell her to stop cuddling it before it all felted.

On Sunday we went back and saw some critters.  This llama and I are going to run away together and get married.  He doesn't know it yet, but I'm sure it will be fine.

What a handsome lad
There were also some fine looking alpaca.

And a whole whack of sheep and goats.  Pictured here are Spotty Dotty, Comma Butt, and Gradient Gus.  Jess is not allowed to name most things, but if I had sheep, I might let her name some of those.

This is the where the vendors were last year. Looking down on that was nothing but SHOCK AND AWE I tell you.

Then it was back in the car and off to find lunch.  We stopped at a great place in Asheville called The Barleycorn Pub, where Morgan reports she was served the best hamburger that she has ever eaten.  My corned beef hash was pretty frickin' spectacular too.

The fun thing about travelling with a GPS as your navigator is that sometimes you get taken by the most interesting routes.  I fed the address to the Barleycorn into Carmen (that's the GPS).  After we got off of the interstate and started driving through a residential area I asked Carmen, "Are we going to someone's house for lunch?"

"Turn Right onto Haywood Road," came the reassuring reply.  In the end we drove straight to the place, and I should never have doubted her.

The mountains were absolutely fabulous on the way back.  The weather had turned ever so slightly colder, and the colors of the leaves just snapped.  Gorgeous.  If you can ever go drive in the Smoky Mountains in the fall, do it.

Back in Knoxville, we got to meet wee Baby Ruth (who is absolutely beautiful), and chat with big brother Thomas.  Oh and their parents were there too.

Wee Bu was thrilled to see us, but was not best pleased to realize that it was time to go home.  She voiced her displeasure with this new circumstance but was finally appeased with the application of animal crackers and Iron Man on the radio.  I was likewise appeased with the application of Starbucks, and homeward we continued.

I decided it would be best to warn Carl about the yarn situation before I got home.

I was kidding.


I bought some yarns

So that's SAFF in a nutshell. I didn't take a class this year, but there was lovely food, lovely company, lovely yarn.  BOOM.

Oh!  And I finished Carl's socks!  They'll warrant their own post in a day or two.

Is it time to start the toe yet?

Overall I give the weekend an A++, Would Go Again.