Right, so all of my writing mojo has been going here instead of, well, here. However, the last week has brought a few fun knitting-related things, two of them in print as of now.

First, an icy, snowy, wintery-blue sock designed for Three Irish Girls with snowflakes arching up and around the ankle. The Spiraling Snow Socks were really quite challenging. I wanted a spiral that swooped gracefully around the ankle bone, but I didn’t want to sacrifice a longer cuff either, and this design accomplished both. Let me also briefly mention how much I covet an entire sweater’s worth of the Kell’s Sport, which is oh-so-squishy and lovely. (Though this would, of course, require me to knit an entire sweater in sport weight, and, well….)

Second, a sweater that uses two totally different yarns to create texture, designed for Yahaira Ferreira’s Pure Knits book. It’s been almost 2 years since I designed this, and it was really satisfying to see the final product surrounded by so many beautiful patterns bound together into a single theme. I will be knitting the men’s herringbone hat-and-scarf set in this book in the next 3.5 seconds, and it will be mine, all mine!

Next up? More academic writing, and some secret knitting that makes me want to stalk the product pages at Amazon until the link is live and I can finally post.

The knitting has, in chemgrrl’s words, been of the ovary-exploding type. One of my bestestest friends in the whole wide world gifted us with a new variety of baby: the kind I like.

To celebrate, Baby K, Ma L and Pa G got these:

Baby Booties

Look, ma, NO PINK!

Of course, these tiny little booties (and an accompanying pair which I did not photograph) do not 3 months of knitting make…. No, indeed. There has also been knitting of other kinds. Which I can’t share. Yet. Instead, I offer up the second-best home-brew dye job in the world!

Dye Job

Urban camouflage. Invisible or not? You decide.

Really, “second best” is something worth saying with pride. Maybe third- or fourth- best, even, given the company at the TBKGE’s Second Annual Dyeing Party. Allbuttonedup has the best. Srsly. Haven’t seen photos yet, but I can guarantee that it was spectacular in person, and there were several other very pretty fibery things including a cotton-candy spectactular that Sara did (though the fleece on which the cotton-candy was unleashed unfortunately felted in the process).

The world is, indeed, topsy turvy. Kinda like this baby set.

Topsy Turvy is comprised of a top-down hat and toe-up baby booties with a forked heel. Babies have pronounced heels and fat feet, so making baby socks that fit can be difficult. The forked heel helps out by creating a longer, wider heel that will stay on.

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A common cast-on technique for toe-up socks also doubles as a cast-on technique for the top-down hat. This adaptation takes the pain out of small-circumference circular cast-ons and might just win you over for your next shawl, too.

Basic 2×2 ribbing is flexible enough for new parents to get squirmy babies into both the socks and the hat.

$5.95

I love my camera. My Canon SD1000 is a tiny thing of limitless wonder, and I have spent the last year finding ways to use the Canon camera hack to make my life as a graduate student better after reading a post about it on Lifehacker.

To wit: A 10″x13″ piece of half-inch thick plexiglas and a bendy tripod coupled with the camera hack that takes automated interval shots gets me an upside-down scanner that can shoot high-quality OCR-able scans of a 250 page book in under 20 minutes. Voilà, an electronic book in PDF format that I can use with Skim to double my reading speed and still take good notes. Truly a life saver when I have a big chunk of reading to do.

But the qualities that make my little point-and-shoot darling a fantastic scanner sometimes get in the way of real photography. Unless you’re made of stone, the camera sometimes doesn’t focus properly, and trying to get a nice photo that’s well lit under any circumstances is a near-impossibility. Even with a decent flash and good ISO control, no photo taken in normal lighting will ever be a great photo because the optics aren’t the best.

Lifehacker to the rescue again. This time, they pointed me toward a DIY photo studio in a box designed to create near-professional lighting and backdrops. I still need to get a better camera, but this will tide me over for the time being…

Macro Photo Studio

The subject? A new hapagirl.com pattern, a baby set that’s been turned on its head. The knitting, testing and pattern editing are nearly complete, and it should be out tomorrow. Today. At some point in the next 24 hours. Whatever…. Clearly I need to re-regularize my sleep schedule.

This time, the baby stuff is even tinier and cuter! Little baby forked-heel booties! Now with extra exclamation points!

Knitting these make me think that the writers at How I Met Your Mother had it exactly right when they had several characters fawn over the tiny socks of a newborn.

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.

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?

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….

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.

The Oregon Brewers Festival is usually unpredictable, owing to the flammable combination of copious amounts of beer, an even greater assortment of people and the heat of an Oregon summer afternoon.

This year, BrewFest exceeded even my expectations–which are admittedly high–thanks to the sprightly combination of knitters and the open vibes inspired by Portland’s friendly atmosphere. (Or the beer. I’m not sure which.)

As one should do when one’s entertainment is only made possible thanks to those in the service industry, one must also give credit where credit is due. OBF always has cheerful, knowledgeable staff working the pitchers, and this year was no exception. They even got a standing ovation from the crowd of beer connoisseurs!

In addition to ogling the sock-tastic projects conspicuously and proudly displayed by fellow Ravelers triners and lavandarknits, we also spotted the elusive Blogger (image rotated for her own protection) hard at work on her July Skif-A-Long project. A brave choice, I might add, given the fact that the many-stranded goodness required by a Skif project also means a penchant for tangling the likes of which one might only see when…. Well, when The Blogger tries to brush her hair in the morning….

Standouts included Dragon’s Milk (sweet, malty goodness), Coffee Bender (what coffee would taste like if it were alcoholic), the new heel-turn technique I worked on, a dark head-turner called Quilter’s Irish Death, and a lovely Foggy Goggle belgian that you either loved or hated. I even managed to document the heel-turn technique in one of the pages of the low-tech BrewFest blog we’ve taken to keeping as a group.

More on that later….