Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Little Comforts

This week, so far:
  • the financial world is in free fall,
  • the government of my country can't stop posturing and pontificating long enough to take effective action,
  • the media predicts that by Christmas we shall all be living in old shoeboxes awaiting the Apocalypse, and
  • yesterday when I picked up the long-neglected Wedding Ring Shawl to do a little work, I realized I'd skipped an entire row in the effing chart. Again.
At such a moment, pictures like this go a long way toward keeping me from running mad in the street.

Panopticon Hoodie

Fall has arrived in New England, and Abigail has inaugurated her Panopticon Hoodie (details are in this old entry if you want 'em). Some things are still moving right along, thank you very much. The trees are turning, I am knitting, my little niece is walking and talking and playing and making me happy I'm on the planet.

Panopticon Hoodie

I still look at those buttonholes with a twinge of pride. They weren't hard–I used this variation on Maggie Righetti's one-row method–but they were my first and buttonholes are one of those things in knitting that exude an air of difficultà.

In case you were practical and did not major in Art History whilst in college, difficultà is a term that is used to describe (among other things) the exaggerated, complex, often tortured postures and proportions that characterized (some would say, infected) art created in the Mannerist period that followed the High Renaissance.

Simply put, the Mannerists were a bunch of show-offs. They painted this kind of thing just to prove they could.


Madonna del Collo Lungo (Madonna with the Long Neck) by Parmigianino. Uffizi, Florence. Guess why they call her that.

Here's my off-the-cuff list of some things in knitting that count as difficultà. They're not necessarily difficult, but they look like they must have been. What else should be here?
  • Two-acre lace shawls worked in yarn spun from gnat's eyelashes.
  • About half of the stuff in this glorious book.
  • Aran sweaters with more decorative motifs between the neck and the hem than are found in the entire Book of Kells.
  • All techniques identified as "Japanese"–cast ons, short rows, etc.
  • Garments knit in directions you wouldn't expect, like sweaters that start two inches above the left shoulderblade and grow seamlessly to the right wrist.
  • Pretty much anything cooked up by Kaffe Fassett or Debbie New.
  • Entrelac.
New in the Shop

This year's ornament, the fourth in the series, is ready in the shop, and I hope you'll like it.

2008 Ornament

Joy comes from many sources, I know, but I always find that my joy is amplified when yarn is somehow involved.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Thousand Points of Light?

CandidateGood morning, ladies and gentlemen:

In the wake of a landslide of support for a Dolores Van Hoofen campaign tour, extending even unto Europe and Asia, we at Fibertarian Party headquarters spent the weekend preparing a plan that will allow as many people as possible to take part in this grass roots effort. We envision a thousand points of light, although in this case the light in question is the glowing end of a Pall Mall filter-tip.

In the space of 24 hours, nearly four hundred (!) potential hosts from 47 states and four foreign countries asked for the opportunity to show our candidate their part of the globe. And if you know Dolores, you know she enjoys nothing more than the chance to spread herself around.

Therefore, rather than travel via postal service as was initially planned–which would have limited us to a maximum of 20-30 stops before election day–we have decided instead to harness the power of the Internet to achieve omnipresence. Wherever you want Dolores, faithful Fibertarians, Dolores shall be.

Here is how this is going to work. Please read carefully before you do anything else.
  1. Two versions of Dolores will be available in PDF format via download. One is in gorgeous living color, the other is in black-and-white so that you can dress her to suit your needs.

  2. To join the campaign tour, print out your Dolores of choice. Decorate (if you like) and trim her to size. Take her to wherever you feel she'll make an impact and photograph her.
    She can be alone, surrounded by the faithful, whatever you choose–you're the tour manager. Select one (1) image to represent your stop on the tour.

  3. While Dolores is not above tweaking the noses (or whatever body part is within reach) of the mainstream candidates, this tour is about celebrating the Fibertarians–not hurling insults at anybody. Everyone is welcome in our tent, so set up your picture accordingly.

  4. When you send your photograph to franklin at franklinhabit daht cahm, please include all of the following:
    • the name(s) of the host(s) as you would wish them to appear on this Web site,
    • the location (city, state, country) where the photo was made,
    • any fun details about the tour stop that you wish to share, and
    • a mailing address for your tour host button(s) to be sent to.

  5. The first 30 hosts to submit an entry that meets the criteria will receive an exclusive Campaign Tour button that will not be made available through the online shop. To keep this fair, the maximum number of hosts per stop is two, so no fair piling thirty members of your knitting group into the photo and trying to claim all the buttons.

  6. There can be more than one stop in a state, city, or town, so don't worry about whether somebody in yours has already sent in a photograph. (If you live in Portland, Oregon, this is extremely likely, as there were eleven requests from the within the city limits alone.)

  7. Remember: one photo per host or pair of hosts. If you send more than one, the review committee will simply disregard all but the first.

  8. After the end of the tour, 1 November 2008, all entries–not just the first thirty–will be considered for a grand prize (to be determined) and two dishonorable (hey, this is Dolores we're talking about) mentions.

  9. By submitting your picture, you authorize its use at no cost on this blog and wherever else the campaign or the candidate might be publicized.

  10. And finally, in downloading Dolores you agree to use her only for the contest; the images aren't for reproduction and distribution for any other reason.
Should you require buttons, signs or other accoutrements, they are available here.

Now, hide the children, lock up the booze, and go get her.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Campaign Update!

Campaign HarrySo hello everybody guess what it's Harry!

It has been really busy here at Fibertarian Party headquarters because Dolores got sort of distracted for a while right after the convention. I mean it was not her fault everything was going great and we were trying to figure out who should be the vice president candidate, and that is tricky because honestly nobody wanted to do it. (I mean I would have done but since I came from Germany they said I can't be president so I can't be vice president and I think that stinks. I mean it is not like I have an accent you know.)

So our convention was over already and we were still trying to figure out who would be a good choice as veep (I love to say that veep veep veep veep veep) and then the Republicans had their convention and well Dolores just got so mad. Because you know there was all this cheering and stuff and this lady came out and she was the person they want to be vice president. They dropped balloons all over her they were so excited.

And you have never seen Dolores get so mad!!!! She said if this country wants to elect a loudmouth hypocritical fading beauty queen with a violent streak and funny glasses and a largely fictitious biography well goddammit (sorry I am quoting) I was here first and I am going to sue for copyright violation.

Exhibit A

Then she said she was going to the Lucky Horseshoe to plan out her case and we didn't see her again for a long time.

And while she was gone we went ahead and picked Mrs Teitelbaum as the veep (veep veep veep veep) candidate because she was born in Mattoon Illinois so she's American and Lana the campaign manager said apparently in this day in age any moron who can walk across a stage and read off a teleprompter is qualified for high office and I said you know sometimes Mrs Teitelbaum isn't so good at reading or walking and Lana said to shut up.

The Ticket

So now Dolores is back home and she is looking to go on the road and do some campaigning! But see after the convention expenses we only have about $5 in the kitty (meow! hee hee) so she is going to have to travel by mail.

Okay it is not really Dolores. She would cost a lot of money to mail she is pretty heavy. It is a cut-out picture of Dolores, but she says if people would mail her around and take pictures of her in different places and then we could post them online and it would look like she is traveling and nobody would know the difference as long as you don't tell the media shhhhhhhh.

So she wants to do this all through October and we need to organize quick so if you are interested in hosting her you should please write to us at franklin at franklinhabit daht cahm and tell us your city and state and we will let you know more.*** Remember you have to send email not just leave a comment. And you should know you would need to make sure that you get a digital picture of Dolores to send us in about 2-3 days and then you will be responsible for sending her along to the next stop, okay? You have to promise!

If you do it you will get a big campaign button that Franklin is making that is only for the people who host the campaign tour, nobody else will ever get one, and he says that the button and seven dollars will get you a hamburger pretty much anywhere in America.

So I guess that is all for now okay thank you for reading and I hope you will stay tuned and watch as we march to victory in the White House except don't tell Dolores but right now I am kind of leaning toward Obama.

*** Okay everybody I just had to pull Franklin out from under his desk because I guess there's like 240 offers already and so if you could just hold off now while we sort it all out that would be neato okay thanks! And boy you are sure an enthusiastic bunch Dolores is going to be so excited!

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Oh, ladies and gents, how good it feels to be writing again. It's been a tough week. I don't like to bleed in public, so I'll spare you the details, but let's just say that I've felt about as sound, robust and productive as the stock market.

Thank heaven, even more than usual, for knitting and spinning. I can I always tell when I'm heading into a rough patch because suddenly all I want is circular knitting–preferably simple circular knitting. No, not merely simple. Boring.

So I've been working down the foot of the Felici sock, and I started a plain vanilla, top-down sweater for my favorite sweater girl.

Autumn Sweater

It's Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted in "Aslan." Very comforting stuff. Quiet. The sweater is all stockinette, though I toyed with a leafy edging from Nicky Epstein's Knitting on the Edge for the hem. Since taking this picture, I've ripped it out. Too fussy. You don't eat vindaloo when you've got an upset stomach and you don't knit fancy patterns when your head hurts–or at least, I don't.

If plain circular knitting is medicinal, spinning is even more so–though treadling isn't something I've figured out how to do while lying in bed (or hiding under it). The bobbin of Border Leicester, which I hope will eventually become Miralda from Knitted Lace of Estonia, is looking a bit plumper.

I've Been Spinning

(As my friend Joe has noted, there's nothing half so exciting as pictures of spinning progress, unless it's photographs of paint drying.)

This week spinning has been an even better tonic for strained nerves than knitting. The wheel, bless it, goes around when I make it go around. No fighting, no questions. No stalls, no bumps, no swerves, no roadblocks. It spins, and the fiber twists, and the damned yarn gets made. A simple victory, signifying little, but at the end of a day in which nothing else has gone smoothly–I'll take it.

Nightcap Stuff

The response to the 1840 Nightcap has been a huge surprise. I figured there would be some interest in the edging, and little or none in the cap itself. And yet folks want to make it, but there have been issues. It's my first pattern, and I tried like the dickens to keep it clear and correct, but not with perfect success–which is why I've started taking a swig of Peptol Bismol before I check my e-mail.

The abbreviation skp, which one or two folks have queried, means "slip 1, knit 1, pass the slipped stitch over." I didn't realize that abbreviation, which is the one I'm accustomed to using, wasn't Knitty's standard choice. (Neither, apparently, did Knitty, as they left it in place.)

In the wake of several questions about fit and gauge, I re-measured the swatch (circular stockinette) and the finished object to make sure I hadn't goofed. I hadn't.

I swatched with several needle sizes and finally settled on a US 0/2.25 mm. It yielded a supple but not blowsy stockinette fabric with the yarn, which is akin to lace weight. The original pattern called for fine cotton, and this was the finest I could find that was readily available.

Those needles plus that yarn, with a cast on of 208 stitches (the original pattern doesn't give an exact number, it only says to use a multiple of 13) yielded a 21 inch opening on a hat with a somewhat loose fit (as compared to your typical beanie for outdoor wear, which is meant to be snug). I slept in the hat a few times and found the amount of ease supremely comfortable.

Apparently, though, I have freaky fingers. Others who are also using (so far as I can tell) lace weight equivalents and teeny-weeny needles are turning out hydrocephalic nightcaps. This is, I fear, going to have to go on my list of perpetual riddles along with the möbius and where lost stitch markers go when you lose them. I don't know why it worked for me, and won't work for others. I only have these two physical objects and my ruler telling me those were the numbers I got.

[Sounds of weeping.]

If your skinny yarn and your teeny-weeny needles are yielding a hat that's too large, I'm afraid all I can suggest is reducing your cast on, using a multiple of thirteen. That should do the trick.

If you're using a fatter yarn, even a thin sock yarn, your nightcap's definitely gonna come out too big unless you cast on fewer stitches. Period. This is a lace weight hat. Welcome to my dark realm of pain and suffering. Some of us like that kind of thing. (I also enjoy tweezing my eyebrows and getting booster shots.)

And finally, at least for now, there is a question about the lace edging–specifically that the initial round adds two stitches in each repeat (with yarnovers), but removes only one (with the notorious skp). That is correct. The second row (and all the even rows) add no stitches, but removes one stitch in each repeat with another skp. Just keep going, my dear, and all will be well.

Oh, and if you want to see free hot skp video action, go here.


Amid the clouds, one silver lining: Grandma's party. Relatives came from all over, the weather was perfect, the birthday girl was surprised, the food was fantastic, and she liked her Swallowtail Shawl very much.

Birthday Girl

Thank heaven, oh thank heaven, for knitting. (And grandmothers.)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Knitting Report

There hasn't been much time for knitting this week, but it's rare and awful week that admits no time for knitting. This is what I took as travel knitting to Boston and back again.

Felici Sock

I've had this yarn–it's Felici, from Knitpicks, in the Schooner colorway–in the cupboard for ages and kept meaning to try it out. The night before my flight east, it rolled out of the stash cupboard for the 11,232nd time and I said, Enough already, you're next.

I haven't used a self-striping yarn since my first socks, and here's why. When making things from scratch, I turn into a control freak. Just ask the poor souls at Interweave who got stuck on the team that put the little book together. (They'll be out of rehab in time for the launch, though, so all's well that ends well.)

Oh, I know. You figured that maybe with the Buddhism and the meditation and the potent pharmaceuticals I must be blissed-out all the time–one of those wispy artistes who likes to let go and invite the universe to step in, take my hand and lead me on a merry dance 'round the garden down paths unseen and unexpected.

Screw that. I don't have a garden, and if you dance down a path unseen and unexpected in my neighborhood park you're likely to get a nasty surprise. I have a hard time letting other fingers make changes to my work, even figurative fingers like yarn that decides on my behalf when the color is going to change and what the new color will be.

I broke down when I saw Schooner, though, because these are–wonder of wonders–colors I'd choose to use. And the stripes are real, bold stripes, which I prefer even though I acknowledge that they make my ankles look fast. And, you know, the stuff is from Knitpicks, so it's inexpensive but good quality–not much of a gamble.

Anyhow, I like it so far. I'm just doing a plain vanilla top-down sock with p1, k1b rib in the leg and the instep. Even under the most jittery circumstances–like hurtling through the air at 30,000 feet worrying that angry, disappointed knitters will throw eggs at you after your first lecture–you can still work on this without messing it up too much.


I also finished Evelyn Clark's deservedly famous Swallowtail Shawl as a present for a certain person in my life whose ninetieth birthday is being celebrated at a surprise party (a true surprise, since the actual birthday will be in January) this weekend. She doesn't read my blog, so I feel safe giving you a peek.

Swallowtail Shawl for Grandma

I wanted a larger shawl than the pattern normally yields, so I used sport* weight (Joslyn's Fiber Farm Sheep's Gift Solid) and bigger needles, and in surprsingly short order I was finished. This is the fruit of ten hours, maybe twelve, of pleasant work. It's still a small shawl–only about 4 1/2 feet tip to tip–but it's large enough for church, and that's what I wanted.

I didn't make any changes other than the yarn and needle substitution. And here's tip, if you've eyed patterns with nupps and worried about working them properly: practice with heavier weight yarn. Working these was incredibly easy, and having done so many in a thick yarn I know I'll approach them without (or at least, with less) trepidation in fine yarn.

Notes on the Nightcap

Speaking of yarn substitutions, there have been a lot of questions about yarn choice for the 1840 Nightcap. The Steinbach Wolle Maxi isn't impossible to find (I bought mine right off the shelf at Loopy), but if your LYS doesn't have it and you don't want to shop online, go ahead and substitute another very skinny yarn. By very skinny, I mean a light sock weight, a lace weight, or similar crochet thread. Use anything fatter and you'll find, considering the number of stitches in the cast on, that you've made a head-and-shoulders cozy.

Also, there have been some questions about ease. I wish I'd noted that the fit of the hat is somewhat loose as compared to, say, a beanie meant to be worn outdoors in the wind. This is more comfortable for sleeping and, so far as I can tell, appropriate to the period. If you're concerned about it being too loose, you can alter the fit by casting on fewer stitches (in multiples of 13) and adjusting your other numbers accordingly.

And to the extremely angry** lady who wrote asking why I'd sized the pattern to fit a man's head and not a woman's and calling me a sexist, please read the article. It's a man's nightcap. The man wearing it in the picture–see the beard?–might also have been a clue, if you'd looked closely.

*Edited. I originally typed "worsted." My brain must be melting. Maybe it's because I've been working with so much lace and sock weight–everything else now feels like rope.

**Where is all this knitter anger coming from, anyhow? All the things in the world that are wrong and broken, and there's anger over a free knitting pattern?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Great Trip! Lousy Photos!

I'm going to come clean right away and tell you that as lovely as my trip to Boston was, that's as bad as my photos of the trip are.

Yarn Harlot has the whole scrapbooking thing down to an art. She takes lots of pictures, she has names to go with the pictures, she photographs her sock du jour in front of interesting local landmarks, etc and she also gives fantastic talks.

Me, I'm not that nimble. I can either be present in the gathering and speak coherently, or I can photograph what's going on. Don't seem to be able to do both. I'm not much for multitasking in general. There's a reason I've never tried to make a living by juggling chainsaws while telling jokes.

But the trip–it was fantastic. The Common Cod Fiber Guild is brand new–this meeting was their first–but you'd never know they hadn't been hosting speakers for years. Thanks to the organizing skills of Guido Stein (he who produces the notable It's a Purl, Man podcast), support from Alanna of Tactile Travel and Lucy of Mind's Eye Yarns, and the kindness of members like Patience (who pressed her non-knitting husband into service as my chauffeur), I was feted like a visiting potentate.

Guido warned me when he asked if I'd come and speak that they had no idea how successful this group would be. I might wind up talking to ten people, or thirty. No fear. Almost a hundred people piled into the vertiginous, yellow lecture hall designed by Frank Gehry for MIT's Stata Center. One of them, by the way, was my sister–who surprised the heck out of me by taking the bus all the way from Maine to be there on my Big Night. (Also dimly visible in the murky blur you'll find Stitchy McYarnpants and Jess of Ravelry.)

Boston Audience

See, I told you. Crap photos. I realized at the last minute that I couldn't bring my best camera, so I tossed my old Canon G2 into my bag. That G2 was and is a good little camera, and I used it for years to shoot everything. But it's been sitting in a cabinet, neglected, and I forgot how to work it under trying circumstances–like shooting a ton of wonderful, kind people in a dim, tall, yellow room. Sigh.

There are much better pictures floating around on flickr, if you're curious.

But the talk went well, thanks in part to the nice lady from Westminster Fibers (you know who you are, and I promised I wouldn't embarrass you with public notice) who loaned me her laptop in a moment of crisis. It turned out that despite the best efforts of our host on campus–who was fantastic and gave me a souvenir water bottle from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory–the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could not connect my Mac to the projection system.

I'd like to thank the Guild for giving me this chance, and I'd like to thank everyone who said hello. It's fun talking to knitters, but it's even more fun talking with knitters.

Mind's Eye Yarns, CambridgeThe next day I had some free time before heading home, so my buddy Sean–who owns Woolcott and Company–led me on a yarn crawl. First stop was Mind's Eye Yarns, which has such a huge reputation and following that the small size of the actual store comes as a surprise. But when you have an owner as charismatic as Lucy and products as charismatic as her hand-dyed yarns, who the hell cares about elbow room?

Then we went to Woolcott and Company, my very first yarn store–the place where in spite of the saleswoman's best efforts to push me out the door I bought the horrible, sticky blue wool that wound up as the first three feet of the 1,000 Knitters scarf. Boy, has the knitting world changed for the better. The newest incarnation of Woolcott is proof of it. More yarns, better yarns, better books, and no more exclusive, if-we-don't-know-you-please-get-out attitude.

The stuff I fell deeply in love with at Sean's shop–I'd never seen it before–was Rowan's Purelife British Sheep Breeds yarn.

Rowan Purelife British Breeds Wool

It's minimally processed, purebred wool from four British classics: Jacob, Black Welsh, Bluefaced Leicester and Suffolk. The appearance, handle and even the scent of the yarn (it smells faintly but distinctly like clean sheep) bring you about as close to the source as you're gonna get without raising and spinning your own.

We also stopped in Harvard Square so I could buy some gear from the alma mater, since I'm sick of sitting around at Crew surrounded by Big Ten logos with nary an Ivy League sweatshirt in sight. Some of my best friends went to Ohio State, but for goshsakes occasionally a guy wants to root for his own team. Even if we haven't been to or won a Rose Bowl since 1920. (Yale has never won a Rose Bowl. Just feel the need to point that out.)

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I leave for Boston early tomorrow morning so that I can, if all goes as planned, speak in the evening to the new Common Cod Fiber Guild at the MIT Stata Center at 7 pm. If you're in the vicinity of Cambridge, do drop in. Guido, who is in charge of the whole megillah, said I could talk about whatever I want, so I've decided to talk about history and fiduciary policies of the Hanseatic League in the Eastern Baltic.

No. I'm kidding. But wouldn't that be hysterical?

If you haven't seen it yet, the new Knitty is up and I made something for it. Amy Singer asked if I wanted to write a column and she said it could be about whatever I want, so it's about the history and fiduciary policies of the Hanseatic League in the Eastern Baltic.

Omigod, that's even funnier the second time, isn't it?

Victorian PatternsNo, seriously, I have this new column in Knitty. It's about working with patterns from historic sources, which means those super-ancient knitting books that look like the typesetters just picked up the case of letters and threw it at the page, then tossed in an extra sprinkling of semicolons. I love those, with the half-sick love only a born masochist can muster. (I even put an essay about it in the little book.)

1840 NightcapThing is, a lot of the patterns–once you get past the rampant errors and the unfamiliar language–yield quite lovely objects. This issue's column offers a men's nightcap pattern from 1840, with a fancy lace edging that could be extracted and used as the cast on edge of anything you think would be enhanced by a fancy lace edging.

I'm terribly surprised to find the pattern is already in a bunch of Ravelry queues. It makes me wonder if, in our era of higher energy costs, nightcaps are due for a revival.

Is there a new environmental campaign in this? Save the earth! Knit a nightcap! Maybe I could get this on the "Today" show. I quite fancy a tete-a-tete with Matt Lauer.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Sneak Peek

Listen, darlings. I'm up to my beaky Arab nose in work at the moment in a desperate race against time and the rent, so no long harangues or meandering perusals today. But I thought that if perhaps your Monday, where you are, is as drab and dingy as my Monday, is where I am, you might like to have a look at a nearly complete project-in-progress.

I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I'm enjoying putting it together. It's a wall calendar, and it combines three of my very favorite things. Photography, yarn and...

No. Why try to explain in words when pictures will be far more eloquent?

Calendar Preview

90% of the ladies and at least 10% of the gentlemen, I give you Guys with Yarn: The 2009 Calendar. If it takes off (you should pardon the expression) I'll consider a feminine companion (Gals with Needles?) for the remaining percentages for 2010; but in beginning I felt it best to stand on personal terra firma.

I plan to have the calendar for sale by October. It will not only feature fine yarns in a splendid setting (a Chicago historic landmark, the Henry Rohkam House) but will have a host of yarn-centric festivals, holidays and historical dates pre-marked for your convenience.

Wholesale inquiries are welcome (portraits at franklinhabit daht cahm). Gentlemen's phone numbers, however, will not be given out. I promised.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Someone Else's Socks

You know those knitters who knit and knit and knit and knit and knit but it's always for other people and they never make anything for themselves because it's about the joy of the process and even if it's a sweater that devoured six months and $400 worth of merino they'll give it to a random acquaintance at the office because it's about the knitting and not about the product?

That ain't me.

If I'm knitting for you, chances are you either gave birth to me or you're closely related to the woman who did. Knitting for family is low-risk. They've seen you at work. They've heard you talk the talk. They know that even a hat represents a commitment of time and yarn. They appreciate the finished product. And if they don't, it's easy to sneak in while they're sleeping and bop them on the head with your nostepinne.

Outside the family circle, I can be moved to knit in cases of either desperate need (aka charity knitting) or by serious and lasting contributions to the Keep Franklin from Throwing Himself Under a Bus campaign.

The most recent contributor is Tom, who cheered and comforted and cajoled as needed all the way from signing my contract for my little book through sending the completed work to press–which happened on Friday.

(It's done. Truly done. At least my part is done, the rest is up to the nice people in Canada who run the big printing machines. I feel like a woman who just gave birth and has been told she can have a close look at the kid in 30 days.)

Tom isn't a knitter, but he became fluent in the language so quickly that he was able to check out rough cartoons as they emerged and offer Informed Comment. He popped the cork on the champagne when the finished artwork was sent to Colorado, and he propped me up at the keyboard when the essays were zipping forward like a hippopotamus dragging a toboggan full of lead up a hillside covered in glue.

So he got socks.

Socks for Tom

They're the first socks I've ever made for somebody else's feet. And such feet. Big feet. I'm a size eight or nine. He's a twelve or a fourteen or something like that.

I considered calling these "Poetic Justice" because Tom bought the yarn for me in the first place, as a gift. It's lovely stuff, Araucania Ranco Multi. I've never used it before, but hope to again. It's slightly heavier than the yarn I've used for socks in the past and the fabric is nice and squishy. These should stand up well to a Chicago winter, even inside a dress shoe.

Another first: I didn't use a pattern. For the first time, I cast on and worked both feet to the end without consulting any reference material. Mind you, the design isn't going to knock Janel Laidman off the podium–it's plain vanilla with mini-cables added to stop my slipping into a coma before the toe decreases.

Socks for Tom

Tom says he likes them. He put them on last night for the photo opp and then left 'em on for long time because they felt good. Mission accomplished.

Unless I get another book contract, of course. What if he asks for a sweater?