Archive for the 'Iceman Cometh' Category

They’re Here!

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Apparently we HAVE now recovered from Rhinebeck (hmmmm - my lower back may not have received the memo, but never mind), because - behold! the new releases are live and available on-line. These aren’t teasers any more - they’re actual links to actual stuff you can actually buy.


(optional Bell Markers also available)




(Um… if you want to, I mean. And you know you do.)

P.S. Sorry about the bad links on the site - post in haste, repent at leisure! I think they’re all fixed now - testing them again to make sure.

I Could Have Sworn…

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

…that the past week or so would be prime blogging time.

I mean, look - the pressure should have been off, right? It’s almost two weeks since I back-burnered the backbreaker project. I have my wonderful Tserf doing most of the heavy lifting of pattern printing and kit assembly. I should have had time on my hands to report on my doings. And there have been plenty of doings to report about.

But somehow, it didn’t add up that way. I guess it’s yet another illustration of work expanding to overfill the resources allotted, which is also partly a by-product of the fact that when the resources increase (Tserf! Pixie! New Packaging and Branding! Big Planz!), so do the expectations. Or to be really original about it - I’m betting my reach will always exceed my grasp. The day it doesn’t… well, that’s how you’ll know I’m dead, right? Right.

So I’ve been crazy-busy with the doing stuff and crazy-bad with the not taking pictures, and now I’m crazy-fried because hey! all of a sudden Rhinebeck is TOMORROW and I’m doing the last-minute errands and printing the last-minute signage and making the last-minute lists and figuring out how to sardine all the stuff into the car (sort of a thousand-clowns operation in reverse)… and for the blog? I got nothin’. Nothin’ but announcements and subject headings. I’ll make it up to you soon, though, I swear.

Reminder of the Main Events


This weekend.

New York Sheep & Wool Festival.

Holiday Yarns (formerly Vancalcar Acres), Building 26, Space D.

Be there, or… miss out on the fun.

They vend by day, they party by night: this year we are co-sponsoring (!!!!) the Ravelry party on Saturday night, and contributing some nice squishy door prizes.

During the day, lots of cool and interesting stuff in the booth. Yarn! Fiber! A visit from Dolores! New spindles! New kits! As I mentioned the other day, we are releasing:


Also… at long last… by popular demand… this:

Vintage Leaf

The Vintage Leaf Kit!

It includes the pattern not only for the original vine leaf from the Vintage sock but also for its big brother, a scaled-up and more detailed version of the same shape. Plus four skeins of Jennifer’s Flock Sock yarn in assorted leaf colors, each skein enough for about a dozen little leaves.

(And yes, eventually the leaf pattern and its imaginary variations will go PDF. But not yet.)

We will also be offering sets of change-ringing bell markers to accompany the Nine Tailors kit. Bell markers like these -

Bell Markers in Use

- only with bells like these:

Wooden Bells

And here, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go a little pedantic and apparently non-commercial and explain a little bit about the whole bell marker thing. You don’t need the bell markers to knit the tsock. (Or the Tsweater, but let’s not even talk about that right now, though the principle is the same.) You can knit the bell patterns from the charts. You can knit the bell patterns from the directions. OR you can be crazy like me and knit the bell patterns from place notation. And even then you don’t actually NEED the markers… they just make it a little easier to keep track of where you are.

Sorry, does this sound like I don’t want to sell you bell markers? On the contrary, I’d love to sell them to you. But only if you actually have a use for them.

Knitting change-ringing patterns from place notation isn’t really complicated, but it requires a slightly deeper understanding of change-ringing than you’d need if you were just following a regular knitting chart. It isn’t for everybody, but it should be interesting to some - you know who you are. And the pattern does include a fairly detailed primer on the concepts - enough to work from even if you are not a ringer.

From a practical standpoint, why would you knit from place notation? Mostly for portability and compactness. That’s what I love about it - that and the elegance. I could carry four to eight pages of charts around with me for every ringing method I knit… or I could carry the One. Line. That. Says. It. All.

Four pages of charts… or this:

34.x.34.1.x.2.x.1.x2.x.1.x.2.x - le 1

which contains everything you need to know about Kent Treble Bob Major, once you know how to read it. For me, that’s a no-brainer.

(If I were talking about the Tsweater, which of course I’m not, I would tell you at this point that unless I can come up with some other brilliant shorthand the SIX different maximus methods I’m using will probably amount to some horrendous volume of charting - I’m guessing something like 50 pages’ worth. Compare that to the single index card I actually worked from, with its six lines of place notation? Again - no-brainer.)

So that’s the deal on the bell markers. They’re cute, and I love them, and they have plenty of possible uses beyond the purpose for which I originally developed them. So by all means buy them! But don’t feel compelled to own a set just because you’re knitting the tsock. ‘K?

That’s all I can think of at the moment, Rhinebeck-wise. I will have the Wreck of the Hesperus Tsweater and other WIPs there with me and if you come to the booth I will be more than happy to discuss necklines and techniques and aspect ratios with you till we’re blue in the face. Otherwise, I swear on a stack of the writings of Elizabeth Zimmermann that I will blog about it in detail as soon as I finish recovering from (and reporting on) the weekend, with lots and lots of pictures and explanations and plans.

Other pending post-Rhinebeck blog matters:

- My impulsive flying visit to SOAR; the people I met there; the credit card accidents I had there and the spinning that is resulting.

- A birthday party I gave a few days ago.

- The next Club Tsock, complete with yarn saga (or yarn yarn).

- The reveal of the Tslightly Tsecret Tsock mentioned in the previous entry.

- Um… um… several other things, but I can’t remember what. Where DID I put that list?


Friday, June 22nd, 2007

We’re back.

My little truant princess is back in the nest after her fledgling attempt at flight. I found her hiding behind the chair, safe and unharmed.

Odette I in Hiding

And I’m back too, though I can’t say I came away unscarred as she did. I guess I understand now what Stephanie means about those “little accidents” that can happen in yarn stores. I seem to have had one - you know, the kind that involves a credit card and an obscene quantity of luxury laceweight.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So… I went into NYC yesterday to meet Astrid at School Products. For those of you who have been there, I suspect I need say no more than this: I never had, and I wasn’t prepared.

School Products

(It may seem a little weird that I could have lived most of my life, and indeed most of my knitting life, in NY without ever hearing about this place. But you gotta remember that that was before the internet, in the days of Solitary Knitting. Nobody told me; there WAS nobody to tell me. My LYS was on the Upper West Side and I rarely needed to range farther afield. In those benighted days I was about as close as a human being can get to being a Stashless One-Project Knitter, and I’m still not sure how and when the metamorphosis to my True Knitting Self took place. But as usual I digress.)

It’s also worth remembering that for the past year or so I have been on a steady and almost unchanging diet of custom-dyed sock yarn, with the occasional dip into laceweight and crochet cotton (the latter doesn’t count, right?). With very minor exceptions - OK, OK, so there was that close-out on organic alpaca - I haven’t really bought yarn in all that time. Therein lies the tragic irony. On the one hand I was soft and out of training, my reflexes compromised and my guard down. On the other, I was foolishly smug. Yarn shop? I don’t need no steenkin’ yarn shop, I thought - I got me a Yarn Slave, see, and I’m immune. Retail doesn’t tempt me.

School Products

(For good or ill this conviction was reinforced by the fact that last time I went yarn-crawling in town, I escaped unscathed from both Knitty City and Habu; the former because it’s too, um, “normal” for my taste - great selection, but all brand-name stuff at uptown prices - the latter because its goods, its price tags and its attitude are all a little too esoteric. So I guess I felt safe.)

Boy, was I asking for it, or WHAT?

School Products

Well, I got it, all right.

Those of you who are more experienced than I, perhaps you can tell me which is the least painful and shocking way to confess one’s yarn sins: by yardage (still calculating), by price (still rationalizing), or by sheer overall weight (still boggling)?

Mind you, I was brave about the baby camel hair. I resisted the yak. I even managed to steer clear of the pure cashmere. The tapes, the novelty yarns, the heavier-gauge stuff, these didn’t really interest me. Most of the cottons reminded me too much of bakery twine. And again, the brand-name stuff is available elsewhere at better prices and it mostly doesn’t talk to me much anyway. But oh, my dears, those cashmere blend mill-ends famed in song and story… the cashmere blends seduced me. I was weak and I fell. Hard. Silk/cashmere. Cotton/silk/cashmere. Soft. Shiny. Oh yeah, baby.

School Products

And then there was that huge glistening hank of undyed silk. Not only did I buy it - I tempted Astrid into doing the same. This was her punishment for failing to talk me out of the cone of purple Italian merino cobwebweight, because her purchases and demeanor were otherwise seemly and modest, and… what, you think I’ve been so busy talking about me-me-me that I’ve been neglecting Astrid, do you? No, no, not at all. I was just trying to get the ugly part of the story out of the way first.

But wait. I’m not going to think of it that way any more. I’ve decided to adopt The BoyTM’s view, as expressed when he not only endorsed the alpaca purchase but incited me to triple the quantity. Accident? Nuh-uh. According to The BoyTM, this was an Investment.

Besides, I am minded of the Kai Lung stories in which the mandarin professed to fear the wolf at the door because “the floor of the treasury was nearly visible.” Heaven forfend that the floor of the stash should ever become visible!

Yes. I’ve made an Investment. And one of these days I’ll feel secure enough about it to tell you just what I did get, and how much, and maybe I’ll even show pictures.

Meanwhile… Astrid.

She arrived at School Products with husband Greg in tow. We knew each other at once and greeted each other in approved knitter fashion (”YO!”) and the two of us settled happily to our corruption, while Greg wisely betook himself to an appointment with his publisher. We committed the above-mentioned indiscretions (Astrid also bought a couple of skeins of very pretty merino), then met up again with Greg (a Righteous Muggle if ever I’ve seen one), who sat serenely through an awful lot of fiber talk before politely excusing himself to move on to his next appointment.

Despite the lingua franca, we may both have been a little shy. One of us may have dealt with this by talking a blue streak and maybe acting like a bit of a dork. I don’t think it was Astrid.

Me = Dork: having gone out of my way a couple of days ago to ask Astrid if Greg was willing to sign a copy of his new book (the answer to this is axiomatic, but asking the question is a code of sorts), I now had to admit that I didn’t have mine with me because The BoyTM was hogging it! My chagrin was only compounded when Astrid produced a copy of my book (the hardcover, no less, which she’d been schlepping around with her all day) and asked me to sign it. Which I did, though lord only knows what I wrote in it.

Then out came the socks and the cameras. (Stephanie, you have a lot to answer for.) I held Astrid’s sock, which she is working in her own beautiful new Damselfly Delphinium colorway. My own sock-in-progress being only one row from cast-on, I handed its finished mate to Astrid and Greg in turn.

Astrid Holds the Iceman Sock

Greg Holds the Iceman Sock

Greg’s no fool; he totally took it in stride. Don’t they both look nice and normal? Yeah, well… then what were they doing with me? I just hope Astrid is kind to me - she got plenty of blackmail material. I might have gotten a little crazy with the Poses with WIPs. I had hoped to finish my new Laceball Cap in time to wear it yesterday; that I hadn’t done so did not deter me from trying to put it on my madcap dishevelled head.

And then there might have been some goofy flourishing about of The Red Blob.

And then I might have talked my fool head off some more.

I finally managed to put a sock in it by the clever expedient of asking a question on a subject of which I am almost totally ignorant. This was a good move, as it not only gave Astrid a brief opportunity to get a word in edgewise, but resulted in my actually learning something about weaving.

Astrid Explains Sculptural Weaving

Astrid Explains Sculptural Weaving

Astrid Explains Sculptural Weaving

Astrid Explains Sculptural Weaving

Astrid Explains Sculptural Weaving

True to our Gunroom roots, we then wound up the photo shoot in traditional Jim Klein style.

The Klein Shot

Then one more hug, and at last we parted; Astrid to meet her glamorous destiny and I to lug home the spoils of my iniquity investment. With a brief stop at Whole Foods for further ballast, about which I will have more to say hereafter.

Yeah, that’s me all over - always plenty more to say….


Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

So, like I already said over on the club KAL… Summer is icumen in, lhud sing cuckoo.

Solstice schmolstice. I don’t care what the calendar says. Far as I’m concerned, when I start hearing the ice cream truck in the street… can summer be far behind? Nope. School’s gonna be out any second. Summer is here NOW.

There’s a little piece of me that will always be a New York City kid. Oh, your Good Humor truck and your Mister Softee are all very well (even the weird little truck in my neighborhood that plays “Turkey in the Straw” instead of the Mister Softee song has its place, I guess) - but when I think summer treats the first thing that comes to mind is Italian ices, with their bright colors and their intense flavors and their sticky staining juice melting down your chin.

That’s why our club sock for June is “The Iceman Cometh.”

Iceman Sketch

Three scoops on a waffle cone (yeah, the little paper cup would be more authentic, but I draw the line at making the foot of a sock in white… and besides, I like waffle cones), with a choice of flavors.

Ice Flavors

Clockwise from bottom: Black Cherry, Blue Raspberry, Strawberry, Lime, and Pina Colada.

(Nope, no lemon. I know, I know… but lemon ice is white. See above re white.)

The prototype, as in the sketch, stacks up like this:

Front View

BTW, this was not the sock we originally planned for June. You may recall some talk of bamboo blends and a bamboo theme, a while back - I’ve been wanting to do a “Turandot” sock for many months now, and it seemed just the thing for summer knitting. Well, there was a teeny misunderstanding with the mill about availability and timing on the bamboo, so “Turandot” will still be just the thing for summer knitting - but in August. Meanwhile, the Iceman is plenty summery; even though it’s being made in our usual wool blend it is VERY thoroughly air-conditioned.

It has tiny eyelet ice cream cones on the toe

Tiny cones - toe

and on the heel.

Tiny cones - heel

There are eyelets in the waffle cone

Waffle cone

and in the ribbing at the top of the cone.

Eyelet rib

And each scoop features more eyeletty ice cream cones:

Lime cuff

The fit is relaxed, almost slouchy - like melting ice, don’t you know. (It’s a bit of a departure for me - no ribbing at all, not even hidden. The sock does stay up just fine, but it doesn’t even think about binding. Doesn’t so much hug the ankle as lightly kiss it.)

In real life my favorite ice is probably lemon, but it is hard for me to convey how passionately I love the strawberry in this bunch of colors (almost as hard as it is to convey the color itself accurately). If I didn’t have an obligation to demonstrate the overall concept here, I’d seriously consider using it for all three scoops. Then again, I love them all - in fact, I’ve cast on Sock #2 starting with Black Cherry.

Next sock

(Yes, it’s top-down. Don’t ask me about the heel yet, OK? I’ve just invented it, and I want to rework it one more time before I write it up.)

Blob Status Report

  • Red: unchanged.
  • Green: shot; shipped.
  • Beige: finished.

Tomorrow: back to work on Swan Lake II.