Thursday, May 30, 2013

Planning Is Just As Good, Right?

No. Not right. Planning what to knit might be pretty fun, but it is still not just as good as actually knitting. Unfortunately, planning is all I've had time for this week. Still, I think it's a pretty good plan.

L to R: Sock A, Sock B, Sock C plans
The patterns for the Tour-de-Sock are still a mystery (JUST TWO MORE DAYS, YAY!) but they did give some hints of what supplies would be needed to achieve each challenge so we intrepid knitters could prepare. Being probably 70% composed of BMFA Socks That Rock, my sock stash is pretty wild color-wise and many of the patterns suggested semi-solid or tonal skeins, so choosing was actually pretty tough. Sock A suggested a semi-solid with 15 grams of contrast color (uh-oh, colorwork) and I'll decide which accent to use when I see the pattern. The yarn is STR Lightweight in Melusine and the contrasts are Bugga leftovers. Sock B suggested semi-solid or tonal with about 500 beads of 2 different colors (YES, 500). I have no idea if I have 500 beads there but they'll have to do. The yarn for this is STR LW Rare Gem Water. Sock C suggests yarn with stripes or a long color change/gradient, so I thought my new BMFA BFL Fingering in SasSwatch might work nicely (and I'm itching to try the new base).

L to R: Sock D, Sock E, and Sock F plans
Sock D just required solid or semi-solid yarn and I couldn't decide between these skeins. I'll probably end up going with on that has already been wound but these are Bugga in Northern Purple Gold Beetle, STR LW in Tempest, and the full skein is Bugga in Ruby-Tailed Wasp. Sock E required solid yarn and about 50 matching beads, for which I will use STR LW in Bleck and some gunmetal-colored beads which don't quite match but look great with the yarn. Finally, Sock F requires 50 grams of one color, 50 of another, and 15 of a third (more colorwork!!). These little bits of Skinny Bugga in natural, Blue Ringed Octopus, and Ghost Moth should do nicely! We've been informed that Sock E will be the first challenge, which is sweet because it's already wound (lazy much?) and I'm excited to see what's going on with the beads.

Thanks for the lovely wishes about my new nephew... but he's still forthcoming so I didn't get to meet him on my trip back home. Poor SIL was in the hospital for 2 days and has been contracting for over a week but the little tyke just doesn't seem ready to come out yet. Hopefully soon! In the meantime, here's a happy photo I wasn't sure I'd ever get to see happen. That's my current nephew in the middle and my pending nephew in the belly on the right:

Isn't he a cutie? Now back to life so that eventually I can get back to knitting!

Monday, May 27, 2013

All Caught Up!

Alrighty, I've already shown you some photos from Cheekwood Gardens as well as photos of my totally-necessary-and-wonderful-sourvenir yarn and the Nashville Zoo. Here are just a few remnants from last week's vacation (two weeks ago already?) to round out your vicarious adventures.

There were some neat sculptures along a wooded path in Cheekwood Gardens. Here you see my Fiasco befriending a tortoise sculpture, my mom demonstrating the power of another sculpture, my favorite sculpture showing a body/tree trunk, and my Fiasco and Dad trapped with T-rex arms in chairs too small for their shoulders (just because it's adorable).

By the end of a week in Nashville I was more than a little sick of country music but here are photos of the outside of the Grand Ol' Opry, a stylin' dress from within the Country Music Hall of Fame, and Elvis's totally reasonable gold-plated, diamond-dusted vehicle.

I lived in Florida for a year in between my undergrad and grad school days, during which time I made a very dear friend Candice, shown here with her fiance, Greg. I had only been able to see her once in the past 5 years so it was awesome to get to see her again, however briefly! We headed to the woods for a hike where we saw rivers, old Native American forts, and idyllic farmhouses.

The Fiasco and I took advantage of our time alone on the trip to see more streams, happy smiles, neat water-carved rocks, and big ol' trees with gnarly roots.

Finally, for no reason whatsoever other than it seemed A Thing To Do In Tennessee, we visited the Jack Daniel's whiskey distillery. The Fiasco dislikes whiskey and I only vaguely remember drinking some that was passed around at a party once so it's not like we were big fans but now I'm curious. We couldn't taste any at the distillery because it's located in a dry county (ironically hilarious!) but the tour was still pretty interesting and it was free so I'd recommend it if you have an hour. I couldn't take photos of inside the main parts but shown above is the visitor center, the Fiasco sniffin' some filtered whiskey, the place where they burn sugar maple wood to make their filtering charcoal, our tour guide Dusty sitting in front of the water that is used to make the corn mash whiskey is distilled from, a cool chair made of old whiskey barrels, a bald cypress tree because I LOVE cypress trees and I miss them (they don't grow in the north but I did my undergrad thesis on them and think they're awesome, and yes I go to a distillery and take photos of the trees), and finally, a photo of the barrel house which was pretty impressive inside. Did you know that whiskey has to age 4-6 years before it's ready? Now you do!

Phew! That got a little rambly towards the end there, didn't it? Hope you enjoyed it anyway and are having a fabulous holiday weekend!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

IS #24: Super Sock Mojo

The tiny human socks I recently finished have gotten me in the mood for more socks. This yearning just so happens to coincide with the incredible Tour-de-Sock competition/fundraising event happening on Ravelry.
Logo from the Tour-de-Sock website.
The event raises money for Doctors Without Borders, which provides medical assistance to those affected by war, malnutrition, and natural disasters all over the world. According to the website, they've raised over $4,000 for the charity to date. To register, you pay $7.50, which covers paypal fees and your donation. In return, you receive 6 sock patterns over a period of 2 months. The event runs from June 1st through July 29th. It consists of 6 "stages" of 9 days each and the idea is that you finish a pair of socks (yes, a pair) as quickly as you can within each stage and you earn points for your order of finishing.

Phellogen pattern by Glenna C, photo credit socksalot
You also join teams and your team can earn points. I'm honestly not super clear on how the scoring works but it all boils down to "knit a bunch of challenging socks really, really quickly and you can win cool prizes".

Chain Reaction pattern by Tobi Beck, photo credit needlesnswiffers
Some of the prizes are incredible, top winner gets 20 skeins of sock yarn! And the sponsers are wonderful, including Miss Babs, Dragonfly Fibers, and my beloved Blue Moon Fiber Arts -- with discount codes for participants!

Stardust pattern by Adrienne Fong, photo credit AnitaYarn
What is most amazing about this contest, though, is that there are people in previous years that finished a pair of socks in three days. THREE DAYS!

Cushy Cables Brioche Socks by Kirsten Hall, photo credit Kirsten Hall
That's right: two-color brioche cabled socks... in a matter of days. If that doesn't make you feel like you should get off your lazy butt and knit some socks, I don't know what will! So I signed up. Hah. I do
not expect to finish a pair of socks during each stage, especially since the patterns are so complex and my concentrated knitting time is so slim. But the way I see it, I'm paying a super low price for 6 beautiful patterns and supporting a great organization in the process. And I do kind of want to challenge myself a bit to get my sock mojo back. I started a team with some lovely ladies from the Socks That Rawk! board on Ravelry. We are Team SASSY (Slow and Steady SockY's). We are not in it to win it, but it should still be great fun. You have until May 29th to register if these photos of some of the previous years' patterns have inspired you to give it a shot! What's been inspiring you lately?