Socktoberfest is over…

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Socktoberfest is over...

And these still represent the entirety of my handknit sock collection. Yep, I finished exactly zero socks this Socktoberfest. Not even the Single Sock (the Tabi Sock, that is) that was supposed to be done in time to put in the mail tomorrow. I’ll finish it pretty soon after that, but tomorrow? Not so much. There’s only so much you can do when you come down with what was either the flu, or a 4-day migraine-from-hell at the last minute, you know? As for today, I’ve got a lot of work to catch up on (funny how missing 4 days of classes puts you a bit behind in them, no?). C’est la vie.

I do have a couple of pieces of good news, though! Thing the first: I’m going to be giving a talk at a conference in Germany in February. Which means I get to go to Germany. And friend of mine from my department is also going to give a talk, which means we get to go together (I can be her translator!). How awesome is that? Thing the second: I have plans with another friend to get together this Friday and make curtains. She knows far more about sewing than I do, so I’m quite happy that she’s willing to give me a hand, because I can only imagine the disaster I could create, left to my own devices.

Susan tagged me for that “8 things” meme. I had a really hard time thinking up 8 things about myself that I didn’t mind sharing with the whole wide Internet world that I’ve not already posted about. Hmm, maybe I have a wee problem with “oversharing”? Anyway, I think these are all “new” things, so here is my list:

1. Eight is my favoritest number. I don’t know why. I think when I was younger I liked that it looked like the infinity symbol (even though I don’t make it that way when I write. I draw one circle on top of another circle). Now it is my favorite “hyperbole number”. Like, if I ever want to make completely exaggerated claims about the size/number/etc of something, I always use something like “8 billion” or some other number that is 8 times a power of 10.

4. Other than my fondness for the number 8, I tend to favor odd numbers. This is because when I am eating things like carrot sticks or apple slices, I like to lay them out so that I have an equal number of them on each side of a central piece. Then I eat them in pairs until I get to the last one. I’ll even “sneak eat” one in advance, when it “doesn’t count”, if there are an even number to start with. I also sort things by color and size when I eat. OCD, much? Yes, yes indeed.

3. I taught myself to knit when I was 13, with the help of a friend in orchestra class (we had an extended period of substitute teachers, who didn’t know how to run an orchestra, and thus we sat around doing pretty much nothing for a month or so), using two pencils and a piece of string. This:

Front and Back of First Scarf

is a picture of the first scarf I knit. Not on pencils, though, I’d acquired some wooden needles by then!

4. I used to be a very, very good violinist, and played in no fewer than 6 different orchestras at various points during my senior year of high school, in addition to a number of small ensembles. I also taught violin to the students of the Montessori school in my hometown while I was in high school. I miss this part of my life like you wouldn’t believe, but it’s been difficult trying to find groups to play in, having not gone the music-major route in college.

5. I have (rather mild) synaesthesia. But not the typical numbers or letters having colors sort. No, sounds (specifically ones that can be heard as musical pitches) have colors for me. I first realized this was not normal when I was color coding a fingering chart for those Montessori violin students (they love color-coding in Montessori schools!), and someone asked me how I was picking what color went with what note, and I realized that for other people, this was totally arbitrary.

6. I lived in North Carolina for the first 8 years of my life before moving to Minnesota, and still speak with a (slight) southern accent. My brother, who had a much stronger accent when we lived there, doesn’t sound southern at all anymore. I can usually neutralize it pretty well and sound fairly generically midwestern (though where’s the fun in that?), but when I’m excited, or among people with whom I’m really comfortable, it gets pretty darn noticeable. The hardest thing for me to avoid doing when I’m trying not to sound so southern is dropping all of the alveolar sounds (ie, “t”, “d”, “n”) from the ends of my words and replacing them with glottal stops. I do that a lot. I also can’t for the life of me hear (or reliably produce) a different vowel in “pin” vs. “pen” and similar words. I get really excited whenever I meet people in the sciences who also have southern accents, because I feel like people unfairly assume that everyone with such an accent is stupid, and that really irks me. I find nice southern accents (like, say, John Edwards‘s accent) extremely soothing to listen to.

7. I don’t know how to use call waiting on my cell phone. Any time I try, I wind up hanging up on both parties. I’m not sure how I manage to fail at this task that other people manage so easily, but there you have it. Thank goodness I work in academia, where one’s ability to manage multiple calls on a cell phone is not frequently an issue.

8. I was published at age 5. Yeah, it was in a children’s anthology that probably no one read outside of a few teachers in Central North Carolina. But still. It was a little story about this carved version of Pluto (the Disney dog, not the former-planet) that my mom had, which I had written as part of the “Writing to Read” program. I remember being really embarrassed about it at the time, because the older kids in the anthology had written much longer things and mine was so short. Yep, I’ve had unreasonable expectations of myself since kindergarten! Still haven’t grown out of them, alas.

I don’t ever really do the whole tagging thing, so if you’re reading this, and no one’s tagged you, and you really want to share 8 random things about yourself with the Internet, then consider yourself tagged!

dreams, dreams

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Sleepy Stimpy

(Picture of adorable sleeping Stimpy, to distract you from the fact that there are no knitting pictures in this post)

You know, I might actually finish things every now and then if I stopped constantly getting distracted by new, bright shiny things every ten seconds. But…y’all, the new Interweave preview is up. And wow. I like a lot of the stuff in it. Like…a lot. Here are my favorites from the preview:

  • Gathered Pullover. Nice and minimal, with a pretty cable in a prominent place and gathering that, uh, makes me look like I’ve got more than I’ve got, if you know what I mean. I like. I like a lot.
  • Refined Aran Jacket. It looks so classy, but not at all boring (although, what’s up with the funny pucker in that second picture? Hopefully just a weird pose). Wouldn’t it look nice in a deep green? This is another one I like a lot.
  • Forbes Forest Pullover. I’ve always liked the scarf pattern from which I believe this stitch pattern came. The sweater reminds me a bit of Demi. Apparently I really like bobbled sweaters.
  • Colette Pullover. I think I like this one. I don’t like the red, but I bet it would look really nice in brown and blue. I’m a bit distracted by the, ahem, build of this model, and can’t quite tell whether this would look good on me, since I’m a whole lot, uh, flatter. What do y’all think? Would it look as good on a less curvy lady?
  • Celtic Tote. Cool bag. I probably wouldn’t actually knit it, because I’m not much of a bag-knitter, but I do think it looks neat. I likes me some nice celtic cabling.

And then there’s my other current obsession: yoked sweaters. Seriously, if you’re on Ravelry, look at my queue…there’s like, 6 of them, just on the first page (and yes, I know I have a ridiculously long queue…I use it to remember patterns that I see and like, and only really use the first page of it as an actual approximate “queue” of future projects, the content and order of which changes frequently). I don’t know what’s gotten into me (maybe the Cobblestone sweater started it?), but I just want knit sweaters with colorful yokes all the livelong day. I’m especially enamored with this one. Someday, someday.

And last but not least, continuing with the theme of colorful circles, have y’all seen this? I know, I haven’t even sewn my curtains yet, what am I doing looking at quilts? But I want to make that quilt, badly. It is so my kind of quilt…bright rainbow colors on a clean white background. Someday, someday. There’s even a fabric bundle for it…not that I can afford it right now, anyway, but maybe sometime down the road. I can dream, right?

(btw, the migraine? Maybe not just a migraine. Maybe actually the flu. Ugh. The Tabi sock might be a bit late getting to my pal, in any case, since I sort of need to be able to spend reasonable amount of time in good lighting to knit it. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I can still get it done by the end of the month, but health and homework have to come first, alas).

into the light

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More Cascade 220 love

I braved daylight for a bit, just so that I could bring pictures to y’all, my dear readers. No, I haven’t become a vampire (though that would be quite seasonally appropriate, no?), but rather am nursing a migraine. At this point I think the “worst” is over (if you’re a fellow migraine sufferer, I’m sure you know what I mean by that), but I’m still very sensitive to light, sound, you name it. I’ve spent the past few days holed up in the bedroom, which is the darkest room in our house, attempting to get work done (and, um, read blogs, because it is lonely being stuck in a dark silent room all day) on my laptop, with my screen dimmed as much as possible. Alas, it is not nearly as dark as it could be in here, because you know what helps on that front? Curtains! Which I, obviously, have not yet made. I remember when I was talking to my friend about making these curtains, she mentioned that she really liked sheer curtains, and I all I could think was, “dude, you must not get migraines”. My curtains will be near-blackout curtains, with a dense flannel backing. Perfect for creating an ideal migraine-room. You know, once I make them.

But! All is not doom-and-gloom here at casa whitknits. There are good things happening, yes indeed. First off, I don’t know what kind of crazy pills I was taking earlier (apparently a week full of stress and car trouble renders me incapable of, you know, reading), but I actually have enough yarn for the third largest size of the Cambridge Jacket, so I definitely have plenty to knit the second size. And what I realized yesterday was that after casting on and setting up the pattern, it was something I could work on in the dark, by touch alone (though there were periods where even touch hurt and I couldn’t do anything at all, but hey, we’re being positive here!), since, as a manly sweater, there is no waist shaping or anything of that sort to keep track of. How about that? So now I have several inches done:

Andrew's sweater: the beginning

And now I have to sing the praises of the yarn I’m using. It’s been ages since the last time I’ve knit with Cascade 220, but oh my goodness, it is so wonderful! I know, I know, it’s just a really basic yarn, but it’s just so nice to knit with. The sturdy feel, the crisp stitch definition, the beautiful, saturated colors…I love it. Thank you, Cascade, for providing me with such a happy knitting experience! One last picture of the gorgeousness that is this yarn (the color is “Aporto”, a beautiful deep teal blue):

I love you!

And I have even more pictures to share! Not of the Cambridge Jacket, of course, because how many pictures can you take of a few inches of stockinette plus ribbing? (actually, don’t ask. I could probably take quite a few.) No, these are of the Tabi Sock, which is inching ever closer to completion (which is a good thing, since I’m supposed to send it off to a friend at the end of the month, with the yarn for her to knit its partner). Just a couple more repeats of the lace pattern, and then I can start shaping the toe(s):

Nearing the end

I love this pattern…it’s just on the cusp of being too complicated to memorize, but there’s a system to the madness, and the end result is gorgeous. And the yarn is a pleasant surprise as well…it’s just plain old Knitpicks Essential! But it’s so soft and feels very sturdy, too, and I really, really love this Pumpkin shade:

Tabi Sock closeup

Mmm, pumpkiny goodness! Doesn’t that just make you want pumpkin pie? Well, it makes me want pumpkin pie. Or even better, Pumpkin Muffins (I made those a few weeks ago and shared them with my early-morning Computational Methods classmates, and they were a huge hit). If I didn’t feel like total crap, I would be making more of those this weekend, no doubt. Maybe I’ll do it anyway.  I’m sure my classmates would appreciate it!

c’est la vie

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Stimpy likes to watch me knit

Proof that I do still knit! (I’m turning the heel on my Tabi Sock in the picture). And that I am ridiculously pale. And that my cat likes to watch me knit, probably because he wants to steal and eat the yarn. And yes, I know it looks like I have a monkey growing out of my head. But I really don’t. That is Manuel Monkey. My brother won him for me a really, really long time ago. He lives on the couch, and is very useful when there is something scary on TV and I need something soft and fuzzy to hug.

Anyway, sorry about just disappearing into thin air for awhile there. This past week has been full of crappy, crappy things, and I just haven’t had the energy to blog (nor to do much of the knitting that this blog is purportedly about). First we had a flat tire, and couldn’t get the tire off and had to call AAA to help us. Then, two days after after we’d dealt with it, the tire went flat again, this time late in the evening, and we again couldn’t get it off and had to call AAA, and then spend all of the next morning getting the tire taken care of. While I appreciate having access to AAA and I know they don’t have a lot of control over their drivers, both drivers were incredibly rude and condescending towards me (unfortunately, the AAA membership is in my name, and I thus can’t just hand everything over to my husband and just avoid all the sexist crap that comes out of their mouths), which was extremely frustrating. I mean, I’m sure it’s annoying to get called out (and by a silly, helpless little female, no less!) for a flat tire. But trust me, my husband and I both kicked the thing like crazy to try to get it to come off after we’d put the car up and taken the bolts off (or whatever they’re called…I’m not good with the terminology!), and it wouldn’t budge until the big truck driver went at it. We’re just small people, is all. And apparently Subaru tires don’t like to come off. Bah.

But the kicker: two days after the second time the tire went flat, we had the most terrifying experience of having the car start completely freaking out, while we were driving down a busy road, in the middle lane, with no place to pull off. All of the electrical things went out, meaning we had no blinkers or four-ways or anything to warn people that our car was not ok, or to signal to try to get out of the road…and let me tell you, other drivers do not give you the benefit of the doubt, and simply assume you are driving strangely with the sole purpose of pissing them off and respond accordingly, which only made being in the scary situation of having a car that was randomly braking (among other things) while we were trying to drive even worse. Anyway, after yet another call to AAA, we had it towed to a shop, and learned that the alternator had burned out (which was actually something of a relief…we thought we might have damaged the AWD system somehow when we put the spare tire on), and we were out $600. On my husband’s birthday, no less. So the money we’ve been putting aside to do something nice for ourselves is once again gone. Every time, it seems. It’s getting really old. I mean, we still haven’t even had a honeymoon, you know? But every time we start saving and planning for something nice, the world has to come along and yank it away. C’est la vie, I suppose.

And I’ve been crazy-busy with academia-related business on top of all this, and have been having health problems, too, but when am I not? That’s not news at all at this point. Moving on…

So, yeah, the Cambridge Sweater, the one I was going to start on his birthday? Didn’t happen. He did get delicious apple cake (chopping apples is a wonderful way to work out one’s wrath towards the world), from my family’s recipe (thanks, great grandma Alice!), and a trip to the Ethiopian restaurant once we had our car back. But no sweater has been cast-on for my beloved birthday boy. Not only was life a bunch of crazy on his birthday, but I also realized I hadn’t bought enough yarn for the second size of the sweater (which is what he wants, because it’s meant to go over things so it should have a fair amount of ease), and no one is still selling the dyelot of the yarn I bought, so I need to do some thinking. I’ve heard that the sleeves turn out gigantic if you follow the pattern, so perhaps if I just use the pattern as an inspiration and knit it my own way, I won’t use as much yarn. Or I could design a different sort of cardigan for him. Or I could knit him a Seamless Hybrid, but I’m having a hard time discerning whether or not he’d actually wear a pullover. I’ll figure it out, eventually.

Sunday Sock Update

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Pumpkin lacy goodness.

Still flailing madly, trying to keep up with all my work alongside illness, but I thought I’d make a little post to show off my whopping sock progress (ahem, that would be sarcasm, as will become obvious once y’all see what I’ve actually accomplished). What you see above is my progress on the Tabi sock, once I finally got a nice cast-on (on my fourth try, after returning to my original yarn!). It’s coming along pretty nicely, wouldn’t you say?

Tabi sock, with lace stretched out

I’ve finished the cuff and one repeat of the leg pattern. One thing I really like about lacy/patterned socks is that it’s so tempting to keep knitting and knitting, just to see what the next repeat will look like, so they go pretty quickly. Which is an extra good thing, in this case, since this sock is due to be sent off at the end of the month (with its partner to be knit by the recipient)!

My remaining progress this week was on my “purse sock”, the Picot Pebble Sock. It saw a lot of action on Thursday, during my half-day long session of medical testing, and received a heel and gusset (as well as many compliments from the nurses):

Picot Pebble Progress

And that’s it. That’s the entirety of my knitting accomplishments in recent weeks. Halfway through Socktoberfest, and barely anything to show for it! No progress on my Sienna Cardigan (fortunately, though, I realized that I do actually have a set of needles I can use to cast-on my husband’s sweater on his birthday in 4 days without having to take Sienna off its needles). No progress on any of my other socks. I still haven’t woven in the ends on my Modified Cobblestone, to be honest (though I really should, as it’s gotten quite chilly here and I could certainly use it!). And I definitely haven’t sewn curtains.

Oh well.

I wish I had 8 arms…

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octopus arms

Oy. Y’all, I am so ready to just collapse into a heap of exhaustion and hurtiness. I’m so busy with classes and research that I barely have time for anything else, and I’m being told that the pain that’s gotten a lot worse since I started getting really sick this past spring is probably a chronic problem with no easy solution, and I have to go in tomorrow morning, after fasting (which I hate…breakfast is something I look forward to in the mornings, very much), to chug barium and have them take X-ray pictures of my tummy because they still haven’t exactly figured out what’s going on with that, and then immediately afterwards rush myself (on foot, and it’s a good mile-long walk) to class to turn in homework (that I still need to finish) and take an exam, and it is just TOO MUCH. ::whine whine whine::

In an attempt to make myself feel better (and to bribe myself to finish some work that I just didn’t feel like doing), I started knitting those octopus arms at the top of the post. One arm for each section of reading, or each function implemented on my programming assignment. I’m using the pattern from hansigurumi, and they’re turning out marvelously. It’s a lot of little pieces, but that’s actually working out well given that I’m using them as motivation for finishing lots of little pieces of research/coursework. I have also knit the head/mantle section, but have yet to finish off the tentacle section (but I do have pipe cleaners ready and waiting, so the arms will be poseable!).

Oh, by the way, thanks, everyone, for your tips on getting a better cast-on for the Tabi socks! I’ve ripped them out, and am going to try again using a slightly heavier yarn (for me, it is far too easy to squish down the sock yarns that don’t have a really tight twist, and KP Essential is one of those easy-to-squish yarns), over larger needles. I probably wouldn’t be such a perfectionist about this sock if I were knitting it for me, but it is actually being knit for someone else, so I want to make sure I get it exactly right.

And now, for something completely different:

curtains-to-be

Yeah, that’s fabric. And thread. I’m gonna sew something! To be specific, I’m actually going to be making curtains for our bedroom (you know, only 3 months after moving in…we currently have a menagerie of random curtainlike-cloth-items covering our various windows, which makes me sad). I am so utterly delighted with the print I found (on sale!). It is exactly what I envisioned…robin-egg blue (which goes with a lot of our bedroom stuff), that lovely green (which goes with almost all of the rest of our stuff), and a dash of salmon (which looks pinker in that picture than in real life), in a slightly wonky geometric print that is exactly my style. My husband is really happy with it, too, so it really couldn’t be more perfect. We got some cream-colored flannel to back them with, too. My plan is to make fairly plain rectangular curtains, with a place to slide a spring-rod through at the top, and to put buttonholes on the backside of the bottom hem, and buttons on the back towards the top, so that we can fold it and button it up halfway to let light in when we want to. I’d wanted to make roman shades the way my mom used to always do, so that we could pull them up and and put them down more easily, but my cat is stupid, and would eat anything that used a cord (he has destroyed several sets of blinds in our previous apartments in this manner). So buttons it is. I’m quite pleased with my idea, actually, so I hope I can actually make it happen. This is always a problem with me and sewing projects. Big on the ideas, bad on the details and actual implementation.

But for now, I can’t worry too much about it anyway, because I have lots to do before my day o’ fun tomorrow. Blech. At least my purse sock will get lots of attention tomorrow, eh?

things that are not socks

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super-closeup of cuff

Yeah, it’s Socktoberfest, but there’s more than just socks on my needles. My poor non-sock projects just haven’t gotten much blog-love lately! The picture up top is my progress on my dad’s Escheresque mittens…about 1 inch of cuff. It doesn’t look like much, but remember, it’s 104 stitches on 00 dpns, so it’s rather slow going (especially with the corrugated ribbing). Since I’m planning to have a short cuff on these (both because I think longer cuffs tend to look rather feminine, and also because I don’t want to run out of yarn!), I think I’m pretty much ready to start the colorwork chart, so expect a picture of that sometime soon. For now, one last shot of the cuff:

the cuff

I really like it. With the two sock-weight yarns knit at such a tight gauge, the cuff has a nice, substantial feel to it. And it’s so good to see that the two yarns contrast against one another so well.

The other thing that hasn’t seen much blog-love lately is the Shetland Garden Shawl that I’m knitting for my soon-to-be sister-in-law. I’ve not made it terribly far, since I was having so much trouble knitting it on the plastic Denise needles that I just started it over once my nice pointy Knitpicks needles arrived. Here’s a closeup of the progress through row 20:

Closeup of Shawl Progress

I’d show the whole thing, but all of the photos I took except for this closeup were horribly blurry. Anyway, it’s coming along nicely, and I’m starting to get used to knitting fine yarn on such (relatively) large needles, though it still feels a bit awkward. I’m really liking the Knitpicks Harmony needles…they’re nice and pointy, with just the right amount of “stickiness” (that is, my yarn doesn’t go sliding all over the place, like it did on the plastic needles). And oh-so-affordable, which is another huge plus!

Last but not least, I’m cranking away at the sleeves of the Sienna Cardigan. I forgot to take a picture, but I’m almost up to the elbow on both of them. I’m knitting them at the same time so that once I’m done, I’m done! No second-sleeve syndrome for me! And then there’s just the button-band/collar to knit, and I’ll have myself a brand new cardigan. I’m shooting to finish it by October 18th. Why the 18th? Because that’s my husband’s birthday, and I promised myself I’d cast on for his sweater on his birthday, but I need the needles from Sienna to do so!

help!

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Tabi sock

What little there was of the Tabi sock when this photo was taken earlier today is no more. It’s better I noticed this now, than after knitting a whole sock, but…my cast-on is way too tight on this sock. You can probably even tell in that picture with the way the lace is pulling in at the top. I’m not sure why…I don’t generally have this problem, but then again, I’ve not knit a sock that has a lacy cuff before, either. Any tips? What’s a good, stretchy cast-on? I used the Twisted German Cast-On, which I’ve always felt was pretty darn stretchy, but alas, it’s not cutting it here. Should I just cast on over larger needles, or is there a better cast-on to use? Help!

socktoberfest!

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Pile 'o socks

Yeah, I know, we’re already 5 days into Socktoberfest. But this is the first chance I’ve had to pull myself out of the pile o’ work, and show off my pile ‘o happy, bright socks. Before I start rambling about my plans for this month, how about a little retrospective?

Happy Feet

Here all all 7 pairs of socks I’ve knit for me (I also knit a pair for my husband, but couldn’t find them for the photo) since I started knitting socks 1.5 years ago. Yes, not as impressive a number as some, but I couldn’t be happier with them. I’m so glad I decided to go for it with the Jaywalkers (far right, in the above photo), even though at the time, I found the idea of turning a heel to be incomprehensible! After that first taste of sock-knitting, I needed more, and I got a little more practice with basic sock construction using the Yarn Harlot’s basic sock recipe to make the socks that appear, in close-up form, in my blog header. Those socks absorbed all of the massive stress that I was under while trying to take my Masters exams after having had an unrecoverable harddrive crash (on my birthday, no less) just a few weeks prior. Next were the Candy Corn socks, knit during last year’s Socktoberfest! They were my first socks that I knit without referring to a pattern at all, having gotten very comfortable with basic sock construction knitting the blog-header socks. Next were the Lemongrass socks, which just didn’t want to be the Pomatomus socks that I tried to make them at first! After that, there were the RPMs, knit with the absolutely gorgeous Koigu yarn sent to me by Jen. I have plans to knit another pair of these, for a friend who fell in love with them while I was making them. Next came the serendipitous pairing of patterns known as “Giotto-With-The-Flow”, also known as “the prettiest, girliest socks I have ever knit”. With these, I learned to make a picot-edge, and to put holes in my socks on purpose! And finally, (I just realized I put them out of order in my photo!), there are the Waiting Room Socks, which y’all watched grow while I brought them with me to various doctors appointments all summer.

So, what am I planning on doing for Socktoberfest, this year? For one, I’d like to make some more progress on some of my current socks-in-progress:

Current socks-in-progress

The Norwegian Stockings, you might notice, haven’t gotten much attention since the last time I posted about them. I love the pattern, I love the yarn…but stranded colorwork socks are just not very portable, and thus they rarely get worked on, since I tend to think of my larger non-portable projects when I’m knitting at home. My current “purse socks”, the Picot Pebbles, got some more attention at a doctor’s appointment last week and are almost ready for me to start their heel flap. At the top are something I cast on for this morning, the Tabi socks from Veronik Avery’s new book, in a very autumn-appropriate color (now, if only the weather would get more autumn-appropriate! 83 degrees in Upstate NY on October 5th? Craziness!), which I will most definitely be finishing before the end of the month. And finally, there’s the Golden Dragon sock. This poor sock got buried at the bottom of a bag when we moved. Digging out just now to take its picture, I was reminded of just how gorgeous the yarn/pattern combo was here, and I have high hopes of making more progress on these during Socktoberfest.

What else might tempt me? Well, I’ll save that for another post…and will try to resist the temptation in the meantime!