Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Quaint in the country

so, today, the knight in not-so-shining armor is standing guard over my posting! have i lost my mind? not sure. read on to decide.......

yesterday, i got a much anticipated break. my grandmother, mom, sister and I all had lunch together. no kids allowed. i really needed it, too! a little breather, a rest from the chaos. time to refocus.

only a couple of blocks away from my house, there is a quaint little house-turned-restaurant called Queen B's. the people who own it are from england, and so, the entire menu is traditional english-style food, high tea, cucumber sandwiches, scones, and trays of dainties *which i'd never heard of before, but they're the cutest, and most delicious little mini-pastries i've seen!* you are even welcome to wear a very snooty high-class hat and feather boa. not really my style, but the women of my family love it so much, i indulge them, and the food is pretty good. the ambiance is like that of a spa, twinkling nature music, soft voices.... and my ears can always use the break. it's also part antique store, the walls are lined with shelves and antique buffets, and then vintage paintings, pictures, mirrors ,anything imaginable going all the way up to the ceiling. the shelves and buffets are packed with hundreds of tea sets of any kind imaginable. old, new, vintage, kitschy 70's crap, princess diana and prince charles commemorative sets, a whole collection of salt and pepper shakers and costume jewelry. it's pretty cool to look at them. so much eye candy, i love to just look around in that place. it's part of their "charm".

front-view of Queen B's
in other, less english news, i have almost finished the second sock i've been knitting for kyndra. i'm not sure it qualifies as a second sock, really. i kind of hated the first one, and it didn't fit well at all, so i started a second one, one size smaller and with a 1x1 rib instead 2x2 to see if it would fit and look better. so i guess this is more of a sizing experiment! i can whole-heartedly say, i love the way it looks, and i'm thinking *and crossing my fingers* that it will fit better! i wish i could've used a pattern for these, and i tried on the first sock, using the "socks at any gauge" article in spin off, can't remember what issue, and don't have it handy. but, as it turns out, A-i didn't like it *not for a baby sock, anyway, it would be great for me however!* and B-it was a little confusing once i got to the gusset decreasing. so i turned to my twisted sisters sock workbook for help. i found a much better written *or just better, i'm not sure* way to do a gusset, and toe shaping, too. so i just made my own way! what a surprise... but it actually worked really well, i was even able to do it again for the second sock! and now, all that's left is a kitchner stitch bind off!
i have actually been wanting to talk about that book since i knitted my first pair of socks from it. but that was before my blog, and i convinced myself not to bore my husband with the gory sock knitting details! so here's my chance, and i'm stepping on the soap box!!
i wanted to order the twisted sister's sock workbook ever since i heard of it. as a beginning knitter, i desperately wanted to learn how to knit socks. and then, once i became a spinner, i REALLY wanted it, as half the book is about spinning and dyeing, too! killing two birds.... before ordering it on amazon, i read some of the reviews, as i usually do. most were good, but then there was one that stood out most in my mind. to my horror, a girl had ordered, anxiously awaited it's arrival, and then once she got it and started knitting from a pattern, she became really confused. convinced it was her beginning pattern reading skills, she took the book and WIP to her mother who had been knitting for like 20 years or something. and not even her mother could figure out this damn thing. she said it was horrible, don't get it, blah blah. i was devastated. but, being that i don't give up on something once my mind is set, i ordered it anyways.
i immediately began trying to knit a pair of handspun socks, after dyeing my first Kool-aid merino roving and navajo plying the yarn. i found it was written in a way that was hard to understand, but not as bad as this girl had thought it to be. and i had only been knitting a year, give or take a couple of weeks. i was overjoyed i didn't find it as misserable as her.
but the ultimate point of this book is to enable you to knit socks with almost ANY handspun, at any gauge. and this is the part i found terribly dissapointing. there are two actual "patterns" in the book, one toe up, one toe down, but they are given as very strict patterns, such as: this fits a women's medium size foot, cast on this many stitches, and so on, WITHOUT ANY intructions as to how to customize this to fit ANY size foot *man, women, or child* or how to plug in certain stitch patterns. although, it is to be said, there are a number of different cast ons, rib patterns, different heel and toe patterns, and bind offs *if there are a little limited*. only now have, after more than a year of knitting, have i really "gotten" the concept of interchanging different elements in a sock pattern, because, even without instruction, these things DO come with time. but for those of us who DON'T want to wait, it can be a big let down.
now, don't get me wrong, there are a number of handy features included in the pages of this book. some that i refer to recently while knitting custom socks are the gauge chart, there is a very helpful page on how and where to measure your foot for knitting custom socks, and a chart that tells you how many stitches to cast on for your particular yarn gauge and foot measurements.
and lastly, the thing i found most inspiring about this book was the pictures of all the socks, knit from hand dyed and handspun yarn. the photography is beautiful and everytime i pick up the book for a new project, or need inspiration for dyeing i will longingly browse the book. but if you're ONLY looking for a book to teach you how to knit ANY sock, with ANY yarn, i don't think that this book is worth the price of admission, and you'd be better off looking elsewhere.

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