I’m not sure why, but the phrase from When Harry Met Sally is what I think of when I picture a cartoon baby in my head.

And for some reason, this little baby sweater makes me think of a cartoon baby.

Seriously, how cute is this? I’ve, of course, modified the pattern somewhat to accommodate the worsted-weight silk that will work well in a tropical climate, but the asymmetrical appeal of this little sweater is undeniable. So, of course, is the appeal of the new mom and her new baby, but that goes without saying.

Twisted. Kinked. Matted. Torturous. Snarled. Chaotic.

I could go on.

The sock blank is a truly wondrous thing; its swift changes of color heed not the worrisome siren call of the Fraternal Twin Sock Syndrome, creating a thing of beauty that is, in fact, paralleled by the other thing of beauty right next to it. And knitting two socks at the same time, toe-up, is equally awesome (in the original sense of the word, “something fantastic that inspires awe,” rather than in the Bill-And-Ted’s-Excellent-Adventure sense of the word, “something random that makes Keanu Reeves say, ‘Whoa!’”). The two things together?

Apparently, two rights make a wrong. A very big one.

Things were humming along swimmingly until I hit the heel turn and started to use yarn from one strand at a different rate than yarn from the other. I’m halfway through the heel turn on one sock and have had to slip stitches across to the other heel to work on it just to bring the second, long, unwieldy, difficult, wearisome, obstreperous strand into the world of seemly, appropriate yarn behavior.

As usual, life and art imitate each other, so the week, too, has been twisted, torturous, snarled, chaotic, wearisome and obstreperous. As a reminder that my wounded knitting and wounded week will eventually work themselves out, however, I have full use of my faculties. And my thesaurus.

Yesterday I lamented a lack of knitting on the home front.

Today, I made up for it with both knitting and dyeing. The former was relaxing, mindless and entirely satisfying, done on a pair of 2×2 rib socks with my forked heel using my own hand-dyed yarn. The latter? Well, let’s just say I needed a little heartburn to go with my Pepto Bismol.

A brief pictorial recap:

Not good. Not good at all, particularly for a woman who eschews pink, mauve, lilac, lavender and many other pastel staples of the I’m-A-Barbie-Girl lifestyle. Thankfully, I have superhero friends. Nicole, of All Buttoned Up, who’s a quiet administrator by day, moonlights as The Dastardly Dyer, and she rallied her considerable powers in service of a good cause: de-Barbie-fying my Pepto yarn.

The dyepot alone was enough to help heal the retinal burns I suffered from simply transferring the original Pepto yarn from its storage bin to a paper bag for transportation to and from The Dastardly Dyer’s lair.

But the finished product? Its burgundy depths have character. Each strand exhibits a vibrant glow that belies its original sickly-sweet color, even though its likely that the final color would never have been possible without that awful intermediate step.

I may just call this color “Heartburn.”

I spend most of my days–all but a very few a year–on a gerbil wheel, walking the same 20-block route to and from the markers that divide day from night, work from home, classroom duties from research duties.

Friday’s trip took me off of the gerbil wheel and on an almost overwhelmingly sentimental trip to one of the biggest landmarks in a geek’s life: Frys. There were, admittedly, a few non-geek things thrown in for good measure, including a very satisfying trip to an Ann Taylor store that resulted in one of the most coveted shopping experiences a well-endowed woman can have (a good-quality perfectly fitted white button-down shirt in the right size, on sale for less than $20). Still, the indisputable stars of the day were the fumes of computery goodness in that most precious of geek meccas.

On those rare instances when I do set foot off of the gerbil wheel, it’s always a little strange, a little limiting, to come back to it, especially when a trip to Frys feels just a little bit like a homecoming. It’s times like this when I appreciate more than ever one of the projects I undertook at the beginning of the year: a pictorial of change to remind me that my gerbil wheel is as much a thing of beauty as the unchanging haven of silicon that is Frys.

These three photos are all from October of this year, taken from my living-room window, spaced evenly 2 weeks apart. It’s amazing how much can change in the space of a month.

Equally amazing is the lack of knitting that has gone on in the last week, but that is a post best saved for tomorrow.

Or, potentially, both, which is even better!

The pesto is colorful, and it’s in single-serving ice-cube format. How cute!

The knitting has come down to socks, socks, socks and more socks.

The socks are even more colorful! They’re very pretty and one of them is even the product of my own hand-dye.

I’m probably going to rip back the hand-dyed version, though, because I want to put together another pattern with the forked heel in several different sizes. The issue at hand is how to do the ribbing so that the sock pattern itself is a worthwhile contribution to any sock knitter’s repertoire, rather than merely a vehicle for the forked heel. Chemgrrl suggested a column of 3×1 interspersed with 3 columns of 1×1. What do you think?

What she said.

Your heart might grow too. I’m off to go install a plug in for charity.

Dyeing day has come and gone, and the fact that I am sitting here typing means the extra ‘e’ in the main verb is a key part of the excitement.

This…

became this….

which looks like this now:

These walnuts…

became this natural dye…

and, with nothing but walnuty goodness and boiling water, brought these into the knitting world:

The company, both human…

and furry…

was (and still is) extremely pleasant as well as eminently talented.

The only thing that went wrong? Mmmmmm. Pepto-Bismol. I will have to rectify this. It was supposed to be an icy pink, but even limiting the dye called for in a “pale” color to less than 1/8 of a teaspoon, coupled with a mere 5 minutes in tepid water, turned off-white wool/silk into, well, a color that is very nearly unwearable unless you’re 3 and wearing a tiara and a tutu. While I won’t have the cherry-blossom pink yarn I wanted for a modified cardigan version of the Hanami Stole, I have learned a lesson about icy just-barely-not-white-anymore colors that I will not soon forget, and I likewise had a weekend I won’t soon forget.

The weather was perfect; the company was fantastic; the slowly darkening walnuts smelled of cookies, leaving trails of steam wherever the dye pot went. There were picturesque falling leaves cascading in waves of yellow and orange around our heads (along with slightly harder walnuts falling from trees overhead), and dappled sunlight wafting in rays across the newly dyed yarny goodness as it dried outdoors in the warm afternoon air. In such surroundings, the Pepto-Bismol yarn–and the walnuts falling perilously, percussively, and concussively, close to the deck–were absolute necessities. I’m convinced that it’s these tiny little imperfections which elevate a day from simply great to unsurpassingly, beautifully, uncompromisingly real, and real is oh-so-much better than perfect….

There are good reasons for everything. This week, the lesson is in why I have a knitting machine.

Two ordinary skeins of sock yarn turned into art. Or at least potential art.

Chemgrrl is throwing a Fall To Dye For dyeing party for my fantastic knitting group (Blogless Norma and Huan-Hua are sadly not attending due to previously arranged absences). Thankfully, it’s not a dying party, or I’d be bringing a coffin instead of pre-knit stockinette swatches designed to become beautifully hand-dyed socks.

This will be my first real foray into hand-dyed yarn in a serious kind of way. I’ve done some experimentation with Kool-Aid and even less with acid dyes (just one skein of self-striping yarn for a work project), and I’m really looking forward to seeing natural dyes like indigo and walnut in action. Still more exciting is the chance to try some patterning on these KnitPicks-inspired sock blanks made out of ShibuiKnits’ 100% superwash merino Sock. I’m not a big fan of anything with nylon, so while the KnitPicks Sock Blanks concept makes the geek in me squeal, the fiber content doesn’t so much appeal to the yarn snob in me.

Here’s hoping the resultant hand-dyed yarn will be fodder for another design that uses the spiffy new forked heel I designed over the summer. At the very least, I will learn more about the worm content of walnuts, though perhaps I might come to regret such an education….

During the lull between writing the pattern for These Socks Are Forked and seeing the test-knit garments in their final glory, I worked on a basic 2×2 rib sock with the forked heel. Most of the knitting has been on Sunday Night Movie Night, which in my circle of friends is dedicated to the best of the worst, movies that should never have been made (or better yet, movies that should have gone straight to video). These movies are so bad that it’d be criminal not to make fun of them,* and the level of snark involved in watching one of these movie nights is so high that we’ve actually had to turn closed-captioning on so we can hear the dialogue.

As a result, it’s a little shocking that I didn’t get even the littlest, tiniest bit of crap when I whipped out my knitting for the first time at movie night. Truly a tribute to the imperturbability of my friends here. The only worry I really have is whether or not these socks are going to be evil when they grow up, thanks to the environment in which they were brought into the world.

My guess? These socks will likely bring about the end of the universe. But I’m sorta OK with that. They’re pretty. Fashion before safety, right?

*Last night, it was Broken Arrow, in which John Travolta plays an insane Stealth-bomber pilot who bare-knuckle boxes his good-guy co-pilot Christian Slater into submission before being symbolically penetrated by a giant nuclear bomb.

We now interrupt your regularly scheduled blog for a short message from one of our sponsors.

Now available at Ravelry!

This brand-new heel turn technique, the “forked heel,” will win over die-hard devotees of short-row and heel-flap techniques alike, thanks to the extra heel room and more anatomically correct shape.

To compliment the devilishly clever forked-heel technique, saucy forked-tongue flames lick up the sides of the instep and the cuff, warming you up in spirit even as the days cool down.

The pattern is available for sale for $5.95 through Ravelry.