Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fear of Socks

I've had so many comments and emails in the last few days about socks.  They really aren't all that scary.... REALLY!  Let's chat a little about it and see if we can give a few of you some courage.

I wouldn't suggest making socks your first knitting project.  Not that socks are basically harder than anything else- but they take a little more time and I think instant (or at least quick) gratification is in order for new knitter.  If you're just starting- make a scarf and go from there.

Assuming that you know the basics of knitting and your comfortable with needles and smaller yarn....

These days, there are basically 3 methods to knit socks.  You can use DPN's... double pointed needles... 5 short sticks with a point at each end.  You can use the magic loop method... one long (36 inch) circular needle which is a long cable with a knitting needle point at each end.  Or you can use 2 Circs (24 inch) which means you use 2 circular needles to make one sock.  You can watch people do all of these methods on You Tube.

Needles are plastic, metal, or wood.  Skip the plastic ones.  Metal are faster, but stitches can slip off.  Wood needles hold the work better and slow you down a bit.  Wood and metal are both good- depends on the project.  I like wood DPN's or metal circs.

All 3 methods are good and it's TOTALLY a personal choice- no matter what anyone says.  People like their own method but IMHO, people tend to say that the "best" method is the one they have the most experience with.

Some people make 2 socks at a time (2aat) but I suggest one at a time for your first pair.  It's the instant gratification thing again.

Any sock pattern can be converted to one of the other methods once you have made a few pairs of socks.  For your first sock, pick a plain sock with no fancy design.  Get the needles the pattern calls for (or if you have the needles, find a simple pattern written for that kind of needle).  Sock yarn is generally $10 - $30 per pair.  Your choice.  If you get the kind that is in a hank (not wound) ask the yarn shop to wind it for you.  Most sock patterns call for about 100 g for a pair.

Cat Bordhi is one of my favorite sock divas.  There are lots of other designers out there... she is just one of the greats.  I started with Cat's book, "Socks Soar on 2 Circular Needles".  I made the first pattern in the book--- Simple Sock.  The good thing about Cat is that she has lots of videos on You Tube.

A GREAT way to start is to go into your local yarn shop (LYS) and ask when they have "sit and knit" times so you can work there and ask for help if you get stuck.  Most LYS have beginner sock classes, too.  If they aren't helpful- find another yarn shop.

OK.... here's the encouragement part.

This life sized motorcycle and rider are made of Lego's.  It's at the Mall of America in Minneapolis.  When my son was little, he LOVED Lego's.  In fact, he STILL loves Lego's.  He would ask for a big set-- like the space shuttle with a bazillion pieces and then when he got it, he said it was too hard.  I would sit with him and say... OK.... look at the first step.  Can you put the skinny white piece with 12 bumps on it on top of the fat red piece with 24 bumps on it?  Sure Mom.  Ok... then do it.  Now... can you do step 2?  Can you put another white piece on top of the red piece?  Sure Mom.  Ok... then do it.

You see where we're going with this.  You eat the elephant one bite at a time.  Socks are the same way.  They take longer than a scarf and there are more steps.  But none of the steps are too hard to handle.  And if something goes wrong-- you just rip it out!  It's just yarn!  And if you think you wasted time when you make a mistake-- it's called "learning".  Babies fall down when they're learning to walk but we don't think that's a waste of their time.  They're learning.  Sometimes ya' just gotta fall down to learn.  It's a hobby.  You don't have to be perfect.  Think of it as a game and you have to play around with it to get it right.  And when you DO get it right.... it feels SOOOOOOO good!

Whether you want to try socks, or make your first quilt, or learn to play the piano.  If you want to do it--- then give it a try!  Now here's the important thing to put in the back of your mind..... IT'S OK if you don't like it!  It's really ok to say, "I made one pair of socks and I'll never make another".  You had the experience and now you can try something else.  Or you might find that you're hooked and can't stop making socks.

So... that's my little pep talk.  Try something new in August!

More Socks

One thing I can always do- no matter how busy I am... is knit.  We live out in the country and just about everywhere we go is at least a 20 minute drive each way.  Most places are farther away.  DH likes to drive, so I knit.  It's amazing how much knitting you can do that way.  I ALWAYS have my knitting right by the door and I grab it when we head to the car.  Even if it's a short ride and I only do 2 or 3 rows, it all adds up.  We watch a movie 2 or 3 nights a week (gotta love NetFlix).  So-- between car rides and 2 movies a week, I end up with about a pair of socks a month.  I don't like needle and thread stuff in the car- so no quilting.... just knitting.

These 2 pairs of socks have been finished for a while.  My LYS  (local yarn shop) is called For Yarn's Sake.  LYS is a little misleading because it's 30 minutes from here... but that's how I get knitting done, isn't it?  They have a sock club and these are 2 of the club kits for 2010.  They are doing 4 kits per year.  I missed the first one, have 2 done, and I'm working on number 4 now.

This one is called Shells n' Waves.  It's a fun, quick knit and the yarn is nice and soft.  It's self striping yarn- the colors changed that way magically.

I never wear socks in warm weather.  I like sandals or bare feet.  But when the weather gets cooler, I'll sport these with jeans and a pink top.

These are called "Rings".  The cool thing about this pattern is that the back pattern goes all the way down the heel.......
... and the front of the foot carries the pattern all the way to the tootsies!

I've made 7 pairs of socks so far this year (one per month) and I think these are my favorites.  I like the way they look, but I mostly like the way they feel when I am wearing them. I love the  yarn.  All the the sock club kits consist of an exclusive (new) pattern and yarn that is hand dyed by a local artisan in a colorway exclusive to the club.  So far- the patterns AND the yarns are great- I can't wait to show you sock number 4.  I just cast on a few days ago.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

No-Reply Bloggers

I just saw a link to this great tutorial (thanks, Robin) and wanted to share it with you.  It has nothing to do with lavender- I just wanted you to see what 20 bundles of lavender looks like.  :-)

I try (TRY) to reply to everyone who comments.  I've been bad this month, but I generally try.  I'm always so sad when I hit the reply button in my email and the address shows up as "noreply-blogger".  I've always thought that people wanted their privacy and I respected that and left it go.  But I've learned over time that many of the no-reply bloggers don't realize that they have their accounts set that way.

IF you AREN'T trying to fly under the radar and want to be sure you can receive replies (or if you're wondering why nobody every sends you replies)..... check out this tutorial on how to get your account set so that others can communicate with you.

Privacy is good, and I'm really glad we all have options to set our accounts the way we choose.

Just FYI--- if you haven't gotten replies from me lately, it's probably because I'm lavender-logged.  Want to test if you can get replies?  Comment on THIS post and I PROMISE to reply within 24 hrs.  No reply from me?  Check your settings.

Tutorial.... thanks to Sweet Simplicity

Shrimp Cocktail Sauce

Does everybody know this tip?  Mix a little horseradish with ketchup or tomato sauce to make shrimp cocktail sauce.  My DH can't tell the difference between this and a purchased jar of shrimp cocktail sauce.

Start with ketchup and add the horseradish just a little bit at a time until it tastes the way you like it.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ramen Cabbage Salad

This is one of our family favorites.  It's a slaw made with cabbage and uncooked Ramen noodles.

The recipe is made up of 3 parts.... the veggies, the crunchy stuff, and the dressing.  You keep the 3 parts separate until it's time to serve.  The proportions are very forgiving.  You can adjust them to taste.  For that reason, I list a "range" of quantities for a lot of the ingredients.

1/2 medium head cabbage, shredded.... or a 10 oz bag of slaw mix (not the kind with the red cabbage in it).  If you have a small head of cabbage- just shred the whole thing.

2-3 chopped green onions (scallions).  Use the whole thing- white and green part

1- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas.  Use 2 cup if you like peas a lot.  Just run some water over them to thaw them- don't cook them.  Make sure they're drained.  When I had fresh peas from the garden, I used them raw.  Not everyone would enjoy this, but I love raw peas.

Crunchy Stuff
1/8 - 1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/4 - 1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/4 - 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1 pkg Top Ramen, chicken flavor.   Crunch up the noodles with your hands BEFORE you open the package.  When you open it, set aside the chicken flavoring.

Melt about 2 tbsp butter (or part butter and part olive oil) in a pan.  Saute the 4 crunchy ingredients until lightly toasted.  Be careful- they can burn quickly.  Set aside to cool.

2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon pepper
chicken seasoning packet from Top Ramen
scant 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup vinegar

Mix together and chill until ready to assemble

Cabbage, peas and scallions.  Quantities of each don't really matter- just have about 1/2 -1 head cabbage plus some peas and scallions.

Crunchy stuff... saute until browned but be careful not to burn it.

Dressing.  One of my favorite things in the kitchen is this old Tupperware shaker container.  I use it for everything from shaking drinks to making gravy and dressings.

Right before serving, toss the cabbage mixture and the crunchy mixture.  Add about 3/4 of the dressing, toss, and you decide if you want to add the rest.  Depending on how much cabbage and other stuff you put in, the whole amount of dressing may be too much.  Better to start with less and add if you want.

Also- if you're cutting back on salt, you could cut back a bit in the dressing.  There's salt in the Ramen chicken seasoning packet.

Leftovers are GREAT, but taste a little different.  The Ramen noodles absorb the dressing and get soft.  It really does taste good the next day, but there's no crunch.  It's just different.

Every time I make this, I'm asked for the recipe.  Give it a try!

Leaf Garden Socks

No- I didn't just make these.  I've been much too busy harvesting lavender and shipping fabric and lavender.  I just thought I'd throw in a little something other than lavender for a change.  I finished these socks last month. 

The pattern is called Leaf Garden Socks.  The designer is Wendy Gaal of Knitters Brewing Company.  Wendy dyes all the yarn she sells on her website and it's really a treat to knit with.  The yarn color is "dirty martini".  A lady in my LYS said they looked like cute little turtles.  :-)

The pattern was free with the yarn purchase. 

This was the first time I did a lace sock.  The first sock was a bit challenging, but when I got the hang of it and a good system for keeping track of what row I was on, I zipped along.  I should mention that I ripped out a bunch before I got to the zipping along part.  I might make this pattern again sometime with a solid color yarn to show the pattern a little better.

I'm not wishing the summer away, but it will be fun to wear these when the weather starts to cool off. 

By the way- if you're on Ravelry, my name is suehauser on there.

Are any of you sock knitters?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Taylor's Outback is the WINNER!

The winner of the fresh bundle of lavender (drawn at random) is the author of a wonderful blog called the Journal of Taylor's Outback.  I don't have an email for you...I hope you read this and can respond soon so I can get a fresh bundle on it's way early in the week. Send me an email with your name and mailing address.  CONGRATS!

I'll have a new giveaway posted in August.  This one had to end quickly because the harvest is coming to an end.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July Giveaway

What a busy month!  I keep cutting and cutting but the lavender field still looks full!  We've been vending at some local farmers markets and having lots of fun.  The shoppers walk buy and you can see their faces when they first get a whiff of our stall!  They look around to see where the scent is coming from, and you can see their faces brighten when they say, "Lavender".

We'll be shipping fresh bundles for about 2 more weeks.  When the bundles are past their prime for shipping fresh, they will all go into the drying room in the barn.  When they're dry, we'll strip the buds and have plenty of bulk dried buds for the coming year.  If you'd like a fresh bundle, don't delay!  Click here to see our lavender products.

One lucky reader won't have to order a bundle--- they'll win one!  This will be a short giveaway- just about a week to enter.  I'll draw the winner on Friday, July 23rd.  The winner, chosen at random, will receive a fresh bundle of lavender (as shown above) via priority mail.  I generally open my giveaways to international readers, but the lavender can only be shipped domestically.  So... for this giveaway.... entrants have to have a U.S. mailing address.  If you don't live in the U.S. but have a friend in the U.S. you would like to give it to if you win, then feel free to enter.

For one entry, reply to THIS post and just let me know you want a chance to win.
For a second entry, be a follower of my blog (already a follower or sign up as a new follower).
For a third entry, of you have your own blog, let your readers know about my giveaway.

It's that easy!  Good luck!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I've been super busy lately, but I always get in some knitting time in the car.  When my DH had his table saw accident, there were a few months that he couldn't drive.  I was happy to do the driving, but I must admit that I missed my knitting time.  He's driving again, and I'm knitting again!

I made 2 drop stitch scarves.  This is a really easy stitch that is simple to memorize and great for knitting in the car.  To do a drop stitch, you wrap the yarn around the needle between knit stitches.  On the next row, you drop the wraps.  For this pattern, the wraps range from one wrap, to two wraps, then 3 wraps, then back to 2 wraps and then one wrap.  In between the wrap and drop rows, you do a few knit rows and it creates the wavy pattern.

I LOVE this yarn!  It's Merisoft Hand Painted merino by Punta Yarns color HP71.  The picture doesn't do it justice.

Same pattern in Glenisla Print.  I misplaced the wrapper with the color.

The pattern is a free download on Ravelry.  It's called Drop Stitch Scarf by Christine Vogel.  I've talked about Ravelry a lot.  If you knit or crochet, you HAVE to check out Ravelry!!!

We're harvesting the lavender!

FINALLY!  We started harvesting over the weekend.  We cut about 75 bundles yesterday.  I did my first farmers market of the year last night and I have a few each week now for the remainder of the month. 

We ship fresh bundles.... on their way to you within hours of harvesting.  You get a generous bundle of fragrant long stemmed Grosso lavender wrapped in pretty paper with a ribbon.   I can put two bundles in a mailing tube, so there is a discount for buying 2 bundles.   Click here to be directed to my website to view the lavender products.  We can only ship the fresh lavender to US customers.  I'll have a separate lavender website eventually, for for now, I sell the lavender through Alderwood Quilts.

That's all for now.... it's back out to the field with me!

Monday, July 5, 2010

The winner is....... drumroll please........

The winner of the autographed copy of The Quilt Life magazine is Gale, Ky Quilter.  Gale is a fan of Alex and Ricky and I'm sure she will give the magazine a good home.

This was a REALLY popular giveaway!  Lots of people entered.  I WISH, I WISH, I WISH I had a hundred copies to give you all!  When I first started doing monthly giveaways, I had only a handfull of entries and I wrote the names on pieces of paper and picked them out of a bowl.  I now have to use a random number generator because there are so many.

I'm also having trouble getting to sending you all a reply.  I honestly try to send everyone a personal reply to comments but I have gotten so terribly far behind, I'm going to just start from current time and try to do better this month.  If you commented on a post in June and I didn't reply- I DID read it and I thank you very much for taking the time to comment.

Why am I so busy?  Lavender, of course!  I'll be posting about it and I'll give you information on purchasing a bundle if you're interested.  And..... gee..... I think we should do a lavender giveaway in July.... don't you?  No, no.... don't reply to this post to enter.  Wait for the next post about the lavender.

Congrats, Gale!  I'll send you an email.  You lucky, lucky, lucky girl!!!!!