Archive for the 'Leaves' 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?

A New Leaf

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

No, the leaf pattern is not ready yet. But I just wanted to make sure you leaf-lovers were not feeling neglected and unloved - so this is to let you know I have been working on it, and I’m planning to give you plenty of bang for your buck.

I’ve started with scaling up the original leaf in the same gauge:

I’ve been experimenting with different shaping techniques - the Packers Green version is a later and overall more successful attempt than the Copper Pennies one.

I think the vine-y-ness is a lot clearer at this scale, even though I’m still not entirely satisfied with the shape.

Maple and Grape Leaves

As in the silhouette on the right, the main body still needs to be a bit bigger in proportion to the lobes, and I do still want to play a bit with asymmetrical shaping on the outer lobes - for these initial trial runs I was still focusing mostly on figuring out where and how to work the increases and decreases, so I didn’t bother with the, um, fine points, as it were.

After that… once I have the basic framework figured out at this size… I really want to try a couple of other shapes while I’m at it.

Like the bane of my existence -

- Boston ivy. And of course the infamous maple leaf,

as well as its pals the sycamore and oak leaves. I’ve also been having some holly thoughts (yes, yes, with TWO ‘l’s), but I may save that variation for later in the year.

So don’t put away the rakes yet.

Seeing Red

Hey, remember back when I was playing around in the kitchen with Paton’s Merino and a bunch of food coloring? And I made a red that was more hot-pinkish than red?

Color wheel

And Becca said in the comments that as far as she knew it was impossible to get a really red RED with Paton’s, no matter what dye one used?

Well, it turns out that there is a way to do it. I can’t tell you how, exactly. But what I do know is this.

If you use up the last of an antique bottle of Durkee’s red food coloring, and if as part of your post-dye cleanup you leave it to soak in a jar of acidulated water… and if you also put in the little syringe you were using to add black… and if you forget all about said jar for, um, well, a couple of weeks (don’t ask)… and if when you rediscover the jar and pour out the opaque semi-evaporated contents it turns out that you had unwittingly left a little piece of the white yarn in the jar as well…

… why, lookie what you get:

Public Service Announcement #1

If you’re a member of Ravelry, and if you’ve been wanting to do something for Casey’s dad while he’s recovering from his accident, go read this thread, and get on board with this group. It’s totally on the square.

Public Service Announcement #2

If you haven’t already (and you probably have)… please run do not walk to Franklin’s blog and read the campaign platform of a presidential candidate you can - as someone said in the comments - really get behind.

That is all.

America’s Sweetheart

Monday, January 28th, 2008

This is it - the final sock for the 2007 Flock Sock Club. As usual it’s been off the needles for quite a while; as usual I’ve been sitting on it superstitiously, not wanting to blog it until it was almost ready to take wing. (See earlier post re: OMG-it’s-already-January!) Which took even longer than I was expecting because of… um… unforeseen circumstances that might have something to do with leaves or amoebas….

If you were still expecting this sock to be “Fearful Symmetry” - well, it isn’t. That plan fell by the wayside during “The Nine Tailors,” because when we finally nailed down the base color for that sock and realized how grey it was… and then confronted the fact that the base color for “Fearful Symmetry” was also going to be grey… it just didn’t seem like a good idea to do two grey designs back to back. No matter how different the greys (one cold and granite-like, the other softly ashy and underlaid with pale peach). No matter how different the designs (and they are dramatically different, diametrically different).

So “Fearful Symmetry” has been shifted to late 2008, and in its place we have… we have… well, see, it started out with this skein of bamboo Jen showed me at Rhinebeck, in a soft peachy-pinky color that had us both thinking light bubbly giddy thoughts about pink champagne. When we made the decision about “Fearful Symmetry” a couple of weeks later, the pinkish bubbles rose to the surface again and struck us both as the obvious, the natural solution. So Jen sent me a skein, and I got me some beads, and I started swatching, and swatching, and swatching, and somehow… the champagne thing just wasn’t happening. And then I backed off and took a good look at the yarn, and suddenly I realized that it was a lot more pinky and less peachy than I remembered, and that my Rhinebeck-fuddled memory of it was clashing with the reality on my needles. So I started shifting gears.

I can’t easily describe the progression that led to where the sock ended up. It owes some of its shape and drape to an unfinished sketch I made over a year ago, based on Cunégonde’s aria “Glitter and Be Gay” from Bernstein’s “Candide” - a short dainty girly sock in pale pink, with swags of diamond necklaces. But somehow this one wanted to be more modern, more overtly robust, than that. Next thing I knew I was up to my ears in the history of Elsie de Wolfe and the gazillion incarnations of, and recipes for, the Pink Lady (a story for another time, and a good one). By the time I found my footing on the other side, what I had was a sweet little flapper, in fishnet stockings, with a bugle-beaded skirt daringly grazing her knees. And the pink pink pink pink of the whole thing was nagging at something elusive in the back of my mind, something that I knew was central to the idea, something that I just couldn’t quite grasp. Like when you meet someone on the street and you recognize the face but you can’t put a name to it. Then a night or two later you suddenly sit bolt upright at 3 AM and realize who it was - and it’s someone you’ve known all your life, someone you know like the back of your hand.

And sure enough, one night I sat bolt upright at 3 AM and realized exactly who this sock was and why she looked so familiar. She’s Roxie, that’s who she is.

You know who I mean. The jazz-baby with the smoking gun. The beauty of the cell-block. The sweet-faced little flapper you wanted to take home to mother - if only you could bust her out of the clink. Yeah. That Roxie.

(I wasn’t so far off with the Pink Lady, though. It turned out that wanted to be the name of the colorway, not the sock.)

Anyway - here she is. Roxie.






Look, Ma - two! I made TWO socks!



The twisted diagonal mesh is worked in opposite directions, so the socks mirror each other. This pattern is based pretty closely on an old Spanish pattern called Madeira Lace - I’ve added a twist to it, and I’ve also done three incremental variations in how it’s worked, so the mesh starts out fairly snug near the toe and becomes gradually stretchier as you go up the instep, adding ease at the heel angle.



The “skirt” is made up of three tiers of lacy beaded scallops and is topped by a picot-edge “waistband” with a knitted-shut hem.


She’s hot; she’s cool; she’s sweet; she’s lethal. Dance with her; cuddle up to her - just check first to make sure the gun is out of reach.

(Oh… one more picture. This one’s goin’ out to Whittney and Wendy - they’ll know why.)
As dear old Marvin Gordon used to say… “No point foots, no ballet.”

Leave Of My Senses

Sunday, January 13th, 2008

The People Have Spoken.

The People Want It Both Ways.

The People Shall Have It Both Ways.

They shall have it one way at a time, though. First they shall have the leaf pattern in PDF form. Then later on they shall have the kit and sampler thingies. Maybe there will be other leaf shapes. Holly leaves, perhaps? Did I hear someone say “wreath”? (Yes, I know I did.)

Speaking of leaf shapes… this might be a good opportunity to answer some of the questions that have arisen, both here and in the comments on Stephanie’s blog.

Grape leaves or maple leaves?

Oh, they’re grape leaves all right. They’re stylized grape leaves, I grant you - hey, they’re knitted, after all! - but they’re still grape leaves. Maple leaves are a whole different shape.

Maple and Grape Leaves

That’s a maple leaf on the left, a grape leaf on the right. (Maple leaf based on the silhouette in the official Cub Scouts’ Leaf Identifier.) See how the outer nodes on the grape leaf curve back around the base of the stem, so that the stem is set in from the edge?

One thing I want to do for the standalone leaf pattern is a scaled-up version with a shaping scheme that makes the outer individual nodes a little more realistically asymmetrical. Not really feasible at sock scale, but at twice the size I’m thinking it’ll look kind of cool.

If you pull hard enough on the stem you can block these leaves so that they look a little more like maple leaves. Very stylized maple leaves, that is.

And speaking of blocking…

Won’t they curl?

Yes. They will curl some after washing. They are supposed to. Stockinette does that; so do real leaves; so should these. That is why I’ve put them on the sock purl-side-out. I was sorry to lose the knit-side detail, but they do hang fairly naturally this way.

They will curl a bit, but they will not go back to their original pre-blocking scrunchiness. You must have seen that when you’ve blocked and later re-blocked other types of knitted objects. The very first blocking of a woolen piece happens once and once only. It is the moment when the stitches learn their shapes and places once and for all; never to forget them until the day you frog the piece to wash, stretch and reclaim the yarn. Future blockings may coax things back into proper resiliency and definition after wearing, but they can’t alter the basic shape. Unless you’re pretty brutal about washing these socks… and I really can’t recommend that… the curling of the leaves won’t get too far out of hand. Sure, you’ll need to pat and stroke them down a bit when you lay them out to dry. I do that to all my hand-knit socks anyway, even the plain stockinette ones. Don’t you?

If the leaves had been anywhere other than on the cuff of a sock I probably would have anchored them more firmly at more points, maybe even at all the edges. You can anchor them in more places if you want to - just do so individually, and beware of compromising the elasticity of the cuff.

And speaking of anchoring them at the edges…

Why the inlaid leaf on the toe?

A number of people have asked why the leaf on the toe is inlaid in a amoeba leaf-shaped window, instead of appliqué’d on or knitted in in some way.

I tried knitting it in. I tried every way I could think of. Intarsia: couldn’t get the definition I wanted. I tried knitting the two together, using one to pick up stitches in the other as I went, in a series of convoluted and nameless organic ways, each of which made perfect sense to me until I actually tried it and found myself tied into a pretzel with needles pointing in a dozen different directions at once. You know how they say that knitting with five DPNs is really no harder than any other knitting because you’re only using two of them at a time? Yeah, well… at one point I actually did have five needles going simultaneously, with leaf stitches working downward and sock stitches working upward. I was starting to have visions of porcupines, and I suddenly realized that the only way I could finish what I had started was if I put my whole head inside the toe of the sock and manipulated two needles from inside while still working the others on the outside… and I think that was when I snapped out of it and decided I had to come up with a better way.

And by “a better way” I did not mean appliqué. Because appliqué would mean a double thickness of fabric on the tops of parts of the toes, and that spells extreme discomfort for a lot of people. Only works if you’re never going to wear the sock inside a shoe.

A lot of my sock designs feature optional embellishments on the toe and heel, and I’m sure a lot of people don’t make them, or don’t make both, because they know the toes and heels won’t be seen. That’s fine. But I would hate to think of anyone omitting a design element like this because it hurt them! The inlaid leaf lies flat, flush inside and out with the surface of the sock fabric. When you wear it you barely feel it - if at all.

And speaking of details being covered by shoes….

What shoes do you wear with socks like these?

Good question. Preferably none at all. I know, I know, that isn’t always practical. But let’s face it… a lot of the socks I design are not exactly… utilitarian in nature. They don’t want to hide their light under a bushel. When I wear them it is generally in a setting where I know I will be able to slip off my clogs and casually put my feet up and show off my over-the-top footwear. Otherwise you might as well stick to plain rib and stockinette!

Does the designer have SSS?

It has been mentioned here and there that I have only made this sock once.

That’s partly true. It’s certainly true that I rarely have time to make more than a single prototype for any design before it’s time to write it up and cast on for the next. (This is why when I make a pair of socks for someone else I go to such extravagant lengths to prove that my friends are indeed bipeds and that I have got their pedal extremities fully covered.) It is also true that as of now I have in my possession only one complete prototype of this particular sock. But to suggest that I have only made it once falls somewhere short of the truth. I have made the toe some seven times. I have made the grapes panel six times, not counting swatches. I have re-shaped the heel and instep three times. I have completely re-worked the cuff twice. I have made 60 leaves. Sixty. Leaves. And I’m about to make a bunch more. (And I’m not sick of them yet.)

So. How many times would YOU say I have knitted this sock?

Buy Your Leaves

Friday, January 11th, 2008

OK! OK! Uncle! Please! Put the pitchforks down! I swear, I’m turning over a new leaf! I’m sorry. I really did have to say that. You know that if I hadn’t someone else would have.

Leaves you want? Leaves you shall have.

I cannot promise right now exactly when and how and in what form - there are several ideas percolating for how to package and release them. But verily I say unto you, I will make the leaf pattern available. Maybe as a standalone pattern with directions/suggestions for multiple sizes and uses. Maybe as a mini-kit for interesting doo-dads like earrings and the like. Maybe both.

In fact… I’m gonna set free my inner Burger King and ask you: if you could have it your way, how would YOU like me to do it? I’ve seen a lot of ideas in the past few days for things that could be done with these leaves - have been mulling similar ones for several months myself. (So many ideas; so little time. Sigh.) As someone said in Stephanie’s comments, they don’t necessarily have to be grape-leaves - in spite of the embedded stem and the deliberate curve at the edge of the smallest leaf nodes, they can certainly look maple-ish, depending on how you block them. As a main course they can be jewelry, knitting charms, Christmas ornaments. As a side dish I can see them as embellishments, either integral or appliqué’d, for a whole slew of larger knitted objects. Sweaters scarves hats you name it….

One idea I’ve been playing with almost since Rhinebeck is a mix-&-match earring kit that would include findings, skeinlets of several of Jennifer’s lovely yarns in appropriate colors, and patterns not only for the leaves but also for the mini-Kitri and the little 3-D dolphin. And/or other miniature players to be named later.

Of course I realize that jewelry findings are easy to come by, and every knitter already has lots of scrap yarn just begging to be knit up - so the kit idea (like many of my designs…) is not for everyone. But I was thinking it would be a cool way to package up a sampler of Jennifer’s pretty pretty colorways for people who haven’t had a chance to try them out yet. (I was also thinking such a mini-kit would make a cool stocking stuffer, but I guess THAT ship sailed without me. Sigh. See above under ideas; too many - see also under time; too little.)

As I said, I’m not going to be able to act on this instantly - I’m kind of up to my ears right now. But I definitely want to do it.

So let’s hear it. If you had a pile of leaves to play with… which way would you jump?

What I’m up to my ears in. Well, for starters, the printer has been cranking along more or less full-time for the past couple of days, and it too is beginning to make demands. It’s threatening to go on strike soon if it doesn’t get payback in the form of replacement parts, and parenthetically I can’t help remarking on the fact that I can buy a replacement for the printer itself - same model, brand new - for considerably less than the cost of the parts. Hell, for less than the cost of a set of toner cartridges. ‘Leventy-hundred patterns to print and assemble and ship and they’re almost done and then - oops, ‘nother ‘leventy-dozen orders just came in.

You better believe I am NOT complaining about this! But I’m definitely busy. (Is it time to take the printing out of house? Almost.)

Meanwhile I am also in demi-purdah finishing up the pattern and other goodies for the final sock club shipment of the 2007 season (and I believe the yarn for club sock #1 of 2008 is already on its way here, no less). Immediately after that? two other patterns to be reworked and kitted-up - the public release version of Cleopatra, and the long-delayed Swan Lake. Also on the plate - a couple of semi-stealth projects, including that green thingie for Beth (is that a stealth thing or not? I’m not sure, so I’m erring on the safe side for now). Not to mention the Christmas knitting that hasn’t been started yet.

And that’s just January.

So bear with me, and rest assured that I’ll be leaving just as soon as I can. Wait, that didn’t come out quite right. I mean… oh, you know what I mean.