Saturday, August 25, 2007

Monkey Sock Swap

Sockapalooza 4 was so much fun that I signed up for another sock swap. This one is all about Monkeys!

This sock swap has a few rules: You knit some Monkeys for your pal, add in three monkey-themed gifts, some sock yarn, and a Cookie A pattern (she designed the Monkeys and has lots of other beautiful designs). It's going to be fun to work out the specifics to meet these rules.

If you want to sign up, head over to the Monkey Sock Swap blog and contact Rebecca. Sign ups are through August 31st, so hurry!

As part of my enrollment, I need to answer some questions on my blog. Getting these answers ready has made me totally excited about this swap. I can wait to get my pal and start working on some Monkeys!

Do you consider yourself a beginning sock knitter, an intermediate, or have you been doing this so long you could probably knit a pair in your sleep? An intermediate, although I still have a lot to learn about knitting socks.

The measurements:
Shoe size = U.S. ladies 9
Foot circumference = 9 inches
Foot length = 10 inches

Yarn preferences:
What colors do you love? Blue, green, teal...but really, any color will make me happy
Do you prefer solids or variegated? Variegated!
Do you prefer wool, cotton or acrylic yarn? Wool, superwash would be great
What colors would you never wear? There is no sock color that I would never wear!
What are your favorite brands of yarn? Koigu, Regia, Lorna's Laces
Are there any new brands you would like to try? Trekking, Woolmeise, Yarntini, and Louet Gems all look pretty interesting

Cookie A. patterns:
Which of her patterns have you already knit? None
Which pattern(s) would you like to knit and don't already own? Rhiannon, Flicker

Other pertinent information:
Would you be willing to have an international Monkey Pal or do you prefer one in the U.S.? International is fine
Do you have any allergies? None that I know of
Will your knitting be exposed to smoke or animals? It is definitely exposed to two cats, there is no smoking in this house
Are you on Ravelry yet? If you don't mind having new firends, what is your Ravelry name? MrsHipp, but I haven't had a chance to really use it yet; that's one of my knitterly goals for this weekend.

Thanks, Rebecca, for organizing this swap!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Another Revamp

I was feeling the itch to re-do the colors on my blog. It was time to feel something light and fresh. So I picked a new template, selected a cool gray color scheme, and simplified the header with a close up of this:

Lovely yummy scrumptious stick your face in the softness Malabrigo in the kettle-dyed azul profundo (deep blue) colorway. The wound yarn cakes were sitting on my coffee table for ages, like a lovely piece of sculpture or dreamy photo book.

The gift certificate I got to purchase Wick yarn for Mom's Guilt Socks was generous enough to include four skeins of this Malabrigo. This is my first extended Malabrigo experience (more than just petting it at the yarn store) and now I know what all the hype is about. I haven't settled on what to make with it yet... at just over 800 yards, I think it would be a bit short for a sweater. Maybe a snuggly vest? Or a hat, scarf, and mittens set? But really, who cares -- even unknit this stuff is great.

Speaking of Mom's Guilt Socks, they are on the needles and progressing nicely. I'm doing them toe-up and am going to try an afterthought heel, partly because I want to see what it's like and partly to allow them to be easily repaired if need be.

Enjoy the new look (we'll see how long it lasts) and if you have some Malabrigo laying around he house, give it a good squeeze for me.

Monday, August 20, 2007

The Sock Karma Really is Reversed

You may remember that I debated between two different yarns in my stash in making my Sockapalooza 4 pal's socks. One I had in great quantities, the other I received from an almost sock pal in Sockapalooza 3. I decided to go with the almost pal's yarn, not only because it is yummy and would be fun to knit with, but also because I had (small) hopes of reversing any bad sock knitting karma that might be attached to them. Not to get all Pollyanna on you, but I really wanted to make lemonade out of these lemons.

Well folks, the karma is officially reversed.

Not only did I get an amazing package from my official sock pal for this year - Katrina at Here in Topeka - but I also got a package from a sock savior!

The lovely Sarah at Yoshimi Knits made a whole second pair of socks for Sockapalooza 4. That's right, she had a regular sock pal to knit for, but also volunteered to also be a sock savior for some poor soul (me!) who didn't get socks in the last round. That's so freaking nice.

The socks themselves are totally awesome - screaming bright green and they fit like a dream. I actually had socks in this same color in high school and college that I literally wore to death. They finally disintegrated and were sent to hole-y sock heaven. I loved them so much because the brightness would peep out between my Birkenstock clogs and the hem of may pants to make me happy.

They're full of truly beautiful details, too. The toes are shaped asymmetrically to match the curve of one's toes. That means I have a definite left and right sock! So cool. And the raised knit stitches from the leg and foot extend onto the toe and the heel:

Sarah also sent the leftover yarn - enough to make a second pair if I wanted, or maybe some matching fingerless gloves? - and some English body lotion and foot scrub. I am so pampered!

Thanks, Sarah, for your kindness. I love the socks and am totally inspired by your willingness to be a sock savior. You've proved that bad sock karma really can be reversed!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Crafty Friends are Awesome

Anita and I met during our first year at UCLA. We lived on the same floor in the residence halls and went through so many of life's firsts together...first time living away from home, first college classes, first "real" boyfriends, first Spring Break road trip. Together with Belinda and Shannon (and sometimes L - what ever happened to her?) we formed a pack of loud, laughing, silly girls, who watched "Golden Girls", studied to the wee hours of the night, shared acne-fighting secrets, created innumerable inside jokes, and eventually figured out what it means to be young women.

Anita, recently gave me this knitterly t-shirt. She saw it and knew that the super-geek knitter in me would totally love it. How great is this shirt?

And how great is it to have friend who totally gets what it means to love crafting so much that you would want it emblazoned it across your chest? I love it. L-O-V-E it.

BTW - The necklace I'm wearing the picture was made by Anita. She creates beautiful jewelry hat she sometimes sells but often gives to loved ones (yet another perk of having crafty friends - crafty gifts!). She blogs about everything new and fashionable at Anita Stylist. Go check out her blog - you will be way cooler for doing it. Promise.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Thursday started out as a yucky day. I felt ill all morning, and was in a mood to match. So I made use of sick leave and went home to rest and recuperate.

But guess what was waiting on my doorstep to brighten my mood? My Sockapalooza socks arrived!

There were so many treasures inside, I was struck wordless for several minutes. Mr. Hipp was home as well, and all he heard was shrieks, gasps, and giggles.

My sock pal - Katrina at Here in Topeka - was amazingly generous. The package and lovely note were full of sweet thoughtfulness. Katrina really made an effort to personalize this package for me and I am so grateful for it. It made me feel much better after my yucky morning!

The socks were packaged in a super-cute Sockapalooza-themed bag made by The Knitting Ewe On The Go (it is the perfect size to be a project bag for a sock-in-progress). And the socks themselves - wow. They are made from Sunshine Yarns superwash merino wool in the Tulips colorway. She made them from the Conwy pattern in Knitting on the Road because she saw that I had been to Conwy during my trip to Wales and Ireland last year and had fond memories of the place.

The photos of the socks here are of them drying on sock blockers today. That's because my camera conked out after I took the photos of the package and before I could get photos of them on my feet. I wore them during my feel-better nap on Thursday afternoon, and then all day at work on Friday (the fit is perfect!), so I figured I should wash them before showing you Katrina's beautiful handiwork. I got my camera running again today, so here are two closeups - they really don't do the socks justice, but hopefully you can get the idea of how much she spoiled me with these.

There was also whole skein of Sunshine Yarns sock yarn in Fiesta - love the bright colors - because she saw that I am a yarn diet and thought I might like something new to play with. (So sweet!) It also came with a copy of Knitting on the Road, which I have been drooling after for ages, so now I have the Conwy pattern she used to make my socks, plus a whole bunch more! Socks made from these patterns are all over the internet and look like a great way for me to learn some new techniques. I've already marked the Denmark socks for Mr. Hipp, who studied there while in college.

And I have no idea how Katrina managed this, but the book is SIGNED by the AUTHOR HERSELF! That's right, Nancy Bush put a note in there just for me! Here's another peek at the socks, too.

But that's not all...Katrina also met famous knitter/writer The Yarn Harlot and took a picture of her holding my socks-in-progress! And - I think this is so cool - Katrina entered these socks in the Washington County (Oregon) Fair and won first place in the cabled socks division. OMG - my socks are not only touched by fame and greatness, they are also prize-winners!

Check out Katrina's blog for more details on the story behind these socks and news from the life of this truly wonderful woman.

Thanks, Katrina, for transforming my Thursday from totally yucky to one of the coolest days ever!

(BTW - the socks I made for my pal arrived too! Check out Hippezippe for the results, as well as pictures of her many hand-knit socks. She must be the most prolific sock knitter in Europe!)

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The Big Send Off

The Sockapalooza 4 socks are on their way to their new owner in a far-off land. Once I get the news that my sock pal has received her socks, I can spill the beans about who she is. Wait until you see her knitting blog! She is an amazing and prolific sock knitter!

I made sure to give the socks a good washing before wrapping them up. The tag for this yarn suggests adding a bit of vinegar when washing. I had never done this before, so when Roxanne at Zen Yarn Garden left a comment here, I took the opportunity to ask her what the vinegar is all about. She wrote back right away, with this great info:

I suggest just a dab of vinegar in cool water for the first helps to preserve colour a wee bit. If the colour runs a bit, don't worry, it's just a little excess coming out like a new pair of jeans - it's to be expected with dyed yarns. My dyeing process helps with colourfastness and I have rinsed them quite well before you get the yarns too. Just a dab will do's an old trick with colours - a little vinegar in the wash just keeps the colours a little longer.

Thanks, Roxanne! I just got a bottle of lavender-scented, no-rinse, Eucalan wool wash. (Visit their site to get a sample!) So I filled the bathroom sink with water and added one cap-full each of Eucalan and white vinegar. The vinegar really did do the trick -- minimal bleeding! I was a little worried that the vinegar smell would remain which, given that these are supposed to be worn on FEET, would not be a good thing; but I took a good sniff after they dried an it's all good.

As a little treat for my sock pal, I packed the socks into this charming lunch bag.

The hand knit wool socks look like such an anachronism against the thermal silver lining of the lunch bag; but I guess that the anachronistic nature of hand-knits is what makes the craft so popular today, and why it lends itself so well to blogging. Combining an old craft with new technology brings a very calming source of balance.

I didn't finish up my trail of notes to ensure that sock #2 is identical to sock #1, so here you go:

  • After finishing the heel, start back in the pattern for the leg
  • Knit 58 rows in the pattern so that you get 29 little eyelet thingies; end with row 2 of the pattern
  • Cut yarn for main color, leaving enough tail for weaving in later
  • Switch to the contrast color and, using size US6 needles, purl all stitches for 2 rounds
  • Switch back to US 4 needles and begin knit1 purl 1 ribbing, do 14 rows of ribbing
  • Use this method to create a stretchy bound off edge; pull the cuff wide after every 2 stitches are bound off to make sure it's not too tight
  • Weave in all ends
With all the excitement of making these socks for my sock pal, I almost forgot that I can expect a pair of socks to arrive on my doorstep as well. (Giving really is as good as receiving.) I can't wait for my own Sockapalooza 4 socks to arrive!

Have a great week!