Tuesday, February 28, 2012

More than you ever wanted to know. . . .

When I started these socks a year ago, I referred to them as my “Lady of Bath” socks, at least in part because these are a much brighter red than I would usually use.  (I do have other red socks because I faithfully wore them on game days when I was teaching—school colors.)  Someone posted a comment on Ravelry asking why I used that term, so here’s the rest of the answer.

wife of bath

The Lady or Wife of Bath is one of the pilgrims in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales.  Her tale falls into the category of raunchy enough to be entertaining but not so graphic that it can’t be widely printed for “polite” consumption by students.

The Wife herself is a rather interesting character.  As a member of the emerging middle class of Chaucer’s day, she is richer than most, perhaps because she has profited from numerous marriages and because she herself is a highly skilled weaver.  The description in the Prologue tells us, “In making cloth she showed so great a bent/ She bettered those of Ypres and of Ghent.”

Perhaps because of her skill with weaving and textiles, her Sunday garments are of the highest fashion and quality.  Her headdress or “coverchief” was so elaborate that the narrator describes it as weighing “a good ten pound.”  Her Sunday hose “were of the finest scarlet-red.”

However, Dear Reader, in case you are envisioning some nifty red knitted stockings, a historical note from the experts is necessary.  This information comes from the University of Michigan’s site:

It is very well known that in medieval times, red hosen were strongly associated with the nobility.  They were also sometimes worn by folk of lower status in the hopes of feigning their social rank.  The Wife of Bath is not truly a member of the nobility by birth, but her income allows her to dress as a one of the upper class.

Often the mistake is made that her hosen are red in color, but it is crucial to interpretation that they are specified as being scarlet.  Scarlet refers to "escarlate," a particular kind of woolen fabric which was exceedingly expensive and of very high quality.  Thus, scarlet refers less to the color than the fabric which the hosen were made out of.  The process to produce this material was elaborate, involving many cycles of the fabric being napped and shorn.  The end result was fabric which was extremely silky.  Only cloths which went through this specific process were considered scarlet, making it very costly to obtain.  Scarlet cloth could then be died (sic) any color, though red dye was commonly used.  The superiority of the Wife's hosen are further articulated with the detail that they are "yteyd"straight, meaning that the back seam was sewn straight (Hodges).

Notice the references to cloth and to the straight seams which remind us that knitted hosiery would not be used for many years after Chaucer. 

Now, your challenge for the week is to introduce any of the above information into a normal conversation without having anyone look at you strangely.

And here are my red socks, which are indeed definitely RED, but knitted and seamless, and I will not wear them “gartered tight” since they are stretchy and don’t have to be held up that way.  While they may not be made from escarlate, they are made from Wollmeise Sockenwolle Twin, which is pretty much the knitting equivalent, I should think.  And they are lace.  (Sheri’s Lace, a Sockbug pattern.  It is listed on Ravelry, but the link doesn’t work.  I think there are archives through the Wayback Machine.  Check her other Ravelry patterns.)

lady of bath

Thank you Sooner Be Knitting for this wonderful yarn, which I won as a prize on your blog last year.  The put up of the yarn was generous enough that I have some left for a small stealth project.

And, in keeping with the WOB’s Sunday usage, I plan to wear these on Wednesday to Bible Study with black pants and a red thermal sweatshirt.  I will forgo the rest of the outfit--in these parts, “headdress” still refers to something with beads and eagle feathers and would probably not be politically correct—as well as actually illegal--and gimme caps don’t weigh nearly enough!

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Quiet Sunday—Quieter than Anticipated

Our Sunday began well, with tuning in to watch all of our grandchildren on television at the early church service in Amarillo.  We can usually only get a glimpse of the girls because the camera crew makes a good effort to include all the children, not just ours, but it’s still a thrill.  (We DVR in case we have to back it up, or in case we want an instant replay.)  The order of service had changed a little bit on Sunday, so I had to rush to get out the door for church myself and ended up squeezing into a pew in something other than my accustomed area.

I had PLANS for Sunday afternoon.  I had stayed up late on Saturday night to knit a sock past the gusset point—still had a lace instep—so that I would have relatively mindless knitting in hand for the Daytona 500.  I even had a choice of leftovers or already-prepared BBQ ribs for lunch so that I would not have to cook.  Well, for the first time ever, the race was rained out to the point of being postponed till Monday.  We could certainly have used that rain locally.  Nevertheless, I finished the socks by knitting to the accompaniment of three television episodes on the Roku box and a PBS production.  However, it just wasn’t the same!

My final bit of knitting was during the PBS airing of The Old Curiosity Shop.  It was a more-than-adequate production, giving a good feel of the backstreets and poverty of early Victorian England and a strong hint at the richness of Dickens’ characters, but after several weeks of watching in-depth characterization unfold in Downton Abbey, I felt a little cheated by the short production.  The decline of Little Nell from robust health to death was so fast that it lacked feeling.  I know that Lavinia died quickly in DA, but I think that was a realistic depiction of the course of the Spanish flu.  Perhaps, Nell’s demise was realistic as well.

Today, I soak and block the socks.  A picture will be up soon.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Removing the U from UFO

I started these socks in February of 2011, quit after the first sock to work on another project, and misplaced the bag.  I found it again last week.  I wear hand-knit socks year round, but I do try to wear thinner ones or lace ones in warmer weather, so I decided to finish these before starting another project.


I just finished the gusset on the second sock, so I’m hoping to finish this weekend.  I’m not sure what’s on television tomorrow night instead of Downton Abbey.  I think it’s something by Dickens, but I can always knit while watching the Daytona 500!  Tonight I’ve spent some quiet hours knitting while listening to the audio of John Grisham’s The Brethren.  Such an appropriate choice for primary election season!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Here is the blocking Wingspan.  I did not pin it.  Instead, I just soaked it and spread it out.  The loose knit and the garter stitch gave enough stretch.  The triangles are indeed all the same size.  I can’t block on the floor because of my knees, so I can’t get a good “above” photo of anything—have to shoot at an angle. 

The second picture shows the tiny holes at the short rows which are a feature of the pattern.  Some knitters are using a yarn over method that they are getting from You Tube to avoid these holes.  IMHO, they are very tiny and they help accent the line between the triangles, so they don’t bother me at all.  The flash is what makes them shine in this picture.  I don’t know if they would be more obvious if you were knitting in worsted or DK weight by the included directions.  Besides, think of all the work I go to trying to get little aligned holes into lace!

Note about the yarn:  I soaked the shawl in a cool wool wash soak for about an hour.  When I went in to take it out, the water was almost as bright a blue as the shawl.  I squeezed it and immediately rolled it into a towel.  As far as I could tell, there was no color transfer to the towel, and the shawl does not appear faded.  Perhaps this is just a case of excess dye left from the processing.  I thought of trying a vinegar soak, but I did not want to block and wear a vinegar-smelling shawl. 

Today was lovely weather here after several days of wind and sand.  Unlike most people, spring is never my favorite season.  It usually brings our most dangerous weather, and all that windborne pollen and organic matter—including, I am sure, manure dust—plays havoc with my allergies.  Don’t I sound like a Grinch?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012



Wingspan is knitted!


This pattern is indeed a very quick knit.  Yarn is Schoppel Wolle Zauberball Crazy in Submerge.  I had a little left, but not enough for another triangle beyond the eight specified in the pattern.  Needles were size 4, 3.5 mm.  Tomorrow I will soak and block it.  I plan to block firmly, but I want to preserve the triangles rather than stretching them out of shape. 

I think the only change I would make to the pattern if I were to knit another one is to change the edge, which uses a S1 as if to purl, giving a chain stitch finish on the edge.  As long as I’m not having to seam something, I rather like the slightly picotish edge that garter stitch gives, and I think I would have preferred that to the chain stitch.

Perhaps I will have time to block the shawl tomorrow after church obligations in the morning. 

Spring is slipping up on me.  I really need to knit some lightweight shawls for myself—quickly.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Almost Halfway

Four triangles out of eight of the Wingspan shawlette.  The garter stitch is easy, and the pattern is very concise and easy-to-follow.  I’m just not sure how anyone imagined this and figured it out.  I’m participating in a KAL on the Small Shawls group on Ravelry, just in case I need help.  There should be four more triangles and then a four-row garter stitch border along the smooth edge.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Where were you when . . . .

This phrase is usually associated with the big, mostly disastrous historical events affecting each generation.  For my parents, those events were the attack on Pearl Harbor and V-J Day.  For my children’s generation, 9-11 will always be pivotal.  For my generation, the assassination of John Kennedy brought sobering reality and haunting images to our teenage lives.

However, there are the good times as well.  For my generation, the space program, culminating in the Apollo moon landings, gave us our heroes, particularly those first seven Mercury astronauts.  We followed their training for years in glorious color in the pages of Life magazine.  But the real stuff came to us in rather fuzzy black and white in the very early morning hours on living room television sets.  We learned to understand holds and countdowns and splashdowns, and we held our breaths waiting to hear the astronaut’s voice after the silence of reentry.  (Hearing the voice was about the extent of it because the communications was always so scratchy and hard to understand that it was almost unintelligible.)

When Alan Shepherd made the first flight in 1961, my mother did the extraordinary—she let me be late for school.  We stood in the living room for the launch, the very, very short flight, and the splashdown, and then I ran the two blocks to my 6th grade classroom with the news.  Circumstances were somewhat different for John Glenn’s flight.  Because of the longer duration of the flight, maximizing daylight was important, so lift off was scheduled long before I would have been out of bed.  Furthermore, the weather had to be perfect, both at Cape Canaveral and at the landing area.  Mother would wake me up on the scheduled launch day, and I would groggily fall back asleep on the couch with her promise to wake me if the launch was a “go.”  I don’t remember how many tries there were before the actual launch, but I do remember that day in February of 1962—fifty years ago.


I thought then that these guys were heroes, but it was later when I was an adult and snapped a picture of my two small children crowded into a life-sized replica of the capsule at a museum that I really thought about the courage they had.

I know that practically everyone has seen The Right Stuff, probably more than once, as well as Apollo 13, but if you have not had the opportunity to view the documentary When We Left Earth, you should hunt it down on Netflix or Amazon or from some other source.  It is a real treasure.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Knitting Again

I have two active WIPs right now: another child’s hat and Wingspan, which I cast on this afternoon because I just couldn’t wait. 

Because I’m doing quite a few hats right now, I ordered and received a 16” circular in the size I commonly use with worsted yarn so that I didn’t have to bother with the sliding and rearranging of Magic Loop for most of the hat.  Now I am undecided because I’m finding that the much shorter tips necessary to make a 16” work are awkward for me to use.  My hands were cramping a little bit.  I am changing my technique a little to see if that helps.  The Wingspan is on regular circs, so it is not a problem.  I’m going to switch back and forth to see if giving my hands some rest helps.

I don’t have any exciting listening as far as audiobooks go right now, but I’ve started a Kindle book that promises to be interesting:  22 Britannia Road.  I’m not very far into it, so my opinion may change.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day

Monday, February 13, 2012



The apparent difference in size is a matter of perspective.  I really like to knit identical twins because I often wear them with lower cut shoes, and when I look at my feet, I like to match.  I did fudge a row on the top of the cuff to make it work out.  Notice that the stripes match beautifully all the way down the sock to about 3 stripes up from the toe, and then the pattern changes!  It had the ill grace to do this right in the middle of Downton Abbey!  The very idea!  At least this part won’t show when I wear them. 

The DPN knitting was much smoother on the second sock.  For one thing, I was more comfortable with where I had to put stitches to avoid overloading needles while knitting the gussets, so that part went very quickly.  Thanks to Winterkill and Downton, I went all the way from the gusset decreases to the toe yesterday.  I still have toe-up socks in my queue, but I do so enjoy turning heels and kitchenering toes!

Today, I must have a Towanda! moment with a store manager—ongoing situation—and try to make some progress on the craft room, now that the temperature is warming up a little bit.  I need to study a lesson for the Bible study tomorrow and do some general chores around here as well. 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Snow Day

Thanks to a snow day and staying in, and thanks to an audio book (Winter Kill by C.J. Box) and an extra-long installment of Downton Abbey, the DPN socks are finished.  I’ll photograph them on the blockers tomorrow.  Right now my shoulder, elbow and wrists are hurting a little from the last hour of knitting.  And, my plans for an identical twin pair took an unexpected turn. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Not Saturday anything, just Saturday.  I’ve not been sleeping well for awhile, but last night I slept straight through and then got up, said hello to my hubby, and promptly fell asleep in the recliner till noon.  Wow!  Great for rest, not exactly great for productivity.  The plus is that now the leftovers in the refrigerator are finished off.

As a retired public school teacher, I came across this article on Facebook, and I thought it was worth spreading.

On the knitting front, I’ve cast on for the second DPN sock, and I’m about 2/3 of the way down the leg.  I am amending my knitting plans somewhat.  I still need some accessories to liven up my variations on solid black for Sundays and other occasions and I came across the Wingspan pattern on Ravelry.  So, when I finish this sock, I’m going to knit hats until I get the ball of yarn for Wingspan, which I hope will be a fairly quick knit.  New warm socks and another shoulder wrap should carry me till spring.

We are cold here today, but again there is no precipitation in any form.  I’m going to go knit in front of the television for awhile.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Thursday, the Condensed Version

  • Finished knitting hat.
  • Finished listening to Sarah Graves’ The Dead Cat Bounce while knitting.
  • Significant prepping of projects for today for craft room.
  • Midnight viewing of DVRed first episode of this season’s Swamp People.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Almost-Free Socks


That which was lost is found—and finished.  These socks are almost-identical twins.  The yarn was about 5 yards off at the beginning of each ball, but since Kroy doesn’t give much extra to play with, I couldn’t go down an entire repeat.  The toe is the only place that is really noticeable, and on this particular pair my kitchener stitch is so nice that a slight difference in toe color doesn’t matter. Winking smile I love the color of these socks, but I don’t think I have anything to wear them with.  I’ll have to work on the old wardrobe.  The color is Burnished Sierra Stripes; yarn, Paton’s Kroy, 2 skeins purchased at Michael’s in Amarillo, out of the sale bin for $1.27 each.  They are knitted on size 1 1/2 circs, using Magic Loop.  Pattern is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s Sock Recipe.  I did continue the heel stitch all the way down through the heel turn.  I don’t have a particular problem with wearing out my socks in that spot, but other family members do, so I’m experimenting. 

Next up is another hat for the cancer project and then the second of the DPN socks, another hat, and a second sock that has been waiting for nearly a year.  I’m listening to audio books as fast as I can.  The election fighting is getting to me, and the television choices have been bleak during the Superbowl/American Idol season.  Thank heavens for Downton Abbey!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Finishing Friday


The “lost sock” and another hat.

Thursday, February 02, 2012



One of the DPN socks is finished.  I am generally very pleased.  I had a couple of places—the gussets and the toe decreases—where I had to do a little thinking and planning to make things come out right, but otherwise, I found the process very easy.  By the time I finished the sock, I had pretty much stopped dropping that extra needle every time I needed to switch needles.  I cannot really say that the process is much easier or faster than Magic Loop, but I do find it less fiddly than the rearranging using two circs. 

Tonight I will cast on and try to knit most of the ribbing for another hat, but first I’m off to work a little while in the craft room.  I didn’t get anything done in there yesterday although I got a lot of business paperwork done and two completely full trash bags of clutter cleaned from my office area, so that’s a plus.

Added thought:  I have mentioned a few charity projects on this blog.  In reading my prayer scriptures last night, I came across the scripture about not doing good to be seen of men.  I certainly hope that no one thinks that is what I am doing when I mention some of these projects.  The truth is that my efforts are fairly feeble—I may send one or two hats or one or two scarves to a particular project, and I think that is worthwhile because if everyone does that, then a need will be answered.  At the same time, I am aware of those who have organized knitting groups to knit for Special Olympics or who knit and send 15 Hats for Sailors, etc.  And when it comes to the projects through Craft Hope, many of them use crafts I don’t do.  I do try to mention these opportunities to make others aware that there is a need for a particular skill.  That is exactly how I found out about the project in the first place—from someone else’s mention in a group or on a blog or message board.  So please understand that I am not trying to appear “holier than thou;”  rather, I am just trying to spread the word about opportunities to use our skills.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Sanity and Pointy Sticks

Right now, I am in the middle of trying to sort through very old records to try to find the right ones in a hurry for an emotion-fraught reason.  I was at it all morning, and I’m just about through except for the mess that I have made and the fact that I decided to add two badly needed file drawers as long as I was making the mess.  Ugh!  Now, at least, I’m not using math, so I’m down to an audiobook, filing, trashing, and giving up every 45 minutes or so and knitting a few rounds on a sock just to keep my cool.  I had other plans for today, but . . . . !

Thank you, Lord, for prayer and knitting!