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I have reached the stage in life where I do not religiously shave my underarms or my legs. I admit to being more conscious of it in the summer when my legs are exposed in all their blotchy, scarred, bruised, and pale glory, than the winter. I really like depilitories for how well they work, but I hate the lingering smell! Back to the razor…

Other things I am much more consistent in shaving, like my socks. And some sweaters. I admit to shaving them more than I do underarms or legs.

Now that I use the “good stuff” more often than not in my knitting projects, I have discovered that they need an occasional touch-up to look and feel their best. Also, when I succumb to the inexpensive cashmere found at Kohls and Tar-jhay, those sweaters also benefit from a regular depilitorizing under the arms. Pilling underarms are *so* uncouth!

The oldest of my handknit socks are 5 years old. Most of them are worn, washed, and air-dried every week. The heavier winter pair (that broke several bamboo needles in the knitting because I was knitting so tightly) is the one requiring the most attendance. They need shaving every third or fourth wash.

The best tool I have used for this was a battery operated fuzz-buster. It was a great Christmas gift that got a lot of use until…well… until it got dropped once too often. Granted, it was taking longer to get the job done because the blades were definitely showing the wear of their 4 years of hard use, but when you fumble-drop it on concrete instead of rug too many times, it will break up into shards that disappear into dark crannies under and in back of the washer and dryer. This will happen during sweater and winter sock season when you really need it the most. Guaranteed.

Ironing is no longer a common activity. Many people do not even own an iron. Jess was surprised her son even knew what a iron *was*! I, on the other hand, have an advanced degree in laundry which includes the related fields of ironing and removing pilling from clothing, furniture, hand-knit toys, and yes, even woollen dryer balls (I bet a lot of you don’t even know what they are, let alone what they are used for!).

No working fuzz-buster was a problem I could not ignore. I knew I could find them online but the wait for delivery would irritate the daylights out of me.

I tried the evil local Wal-Mart. The store greeter did not know what I was asking for. Did I mean the lint rollers? No, I meant the electric lint and pill removers. Huh? She asked a co-worker who also tried to send me to the lint rollers. Asking store personnel was not really expected to provide any useful answer, but I was ever hopeful that they could shorten my search. And I did find one in the aisle with the laundry accessories (not the drug, health and beauty aides the stores aides suggested). There among the clothes pins, hangers, spray wrinkle remover (don’t get me started!), and net washing bags, was a single, battery-operated fuzz buster.

Excuse me while I go shave some socks. It’s finally decided to be winter around here, and I need them!

There are grammar police out there cringing. Oh well…

I don’t just work at work and knit endless knits and purls without actually finishing things. I have completed two pairs of socks in the past month. The unfinished items are… still unfinished, but look!  Socks!
temperance socks
This was a toe-up pattern freely available on Ravelry. I agree that once I completed a cycle and a half, not only did I have the pattern memorized, I was able to see where I was at a glance after I put it down, and picked it up again. This is a *good thing* (as Martha would say). This pair used the popular Regia Stretch Yarn in my stash. So far I see them as good summer socks, but the stretch part seems over-rated.

And more!
socks
Again, Charlene Schurch does it again. I love this book! It is not just possible, but EASY to convert a top-down pattern to a toe-up sock pattern. Since I have discerned a problem in my calculations regarding heel-to-toe length, leg length, and yarn supply, this is a very *good thing* (yes, more Martha… we have little else in common, but this we agree on—good is “good”).

Match it with my favorite bamboo sock yarn (Regia Bamboo) and you get a great pair of socks!

Following a great idea shared by my mother, I took my paperback pattern books to Kinko’s to have them spiral bound. I paid for the cut to remove the perfect binding, and a whopping $4 per book to have them spiral bound. Now the books lay open flat. On the negative side, I have lost the spine information, so I have to pull them out a bit to determine which book it is. I can live with that.

I may have already mentioned this, but I really, REALLY like having pattern books open flat.

When #1 son said he would like a pair of hand-knit socks (actually, what he said was that it was okay if I made him a pair, which is a major reversal of his pre-teen years when he refused to wear anything I knit for him), I went gung-ho researching the best socks for him and discovered:

  • there is a Socks for Soldiers (SFS) organization that has *the* sanctioned knitting pattern for military personnel with a Yahoo group and everything—you have to join the Yahoo group to get the pattern (this pattern is relevant because #1 son is in the Army)
  • the pattern has strict rules about the type of yarn (sock weight superwash wool) and colors of yarn (military black or military brown) that can be used
  • new yarn can be added at a specific point of the heel only, otherwise the seams could cause irritation during combat wear (makes sense)
  • the pattern calls for 3 sizes of needles: for the top-down cast-on, the calf/foot areas, and the heel/toe sections. These sizes can be summed up as dinky, dinkier, and frickin’ crazy dinkiest
  • patterns on the sock allow for 1×1 ribbing for 12″ along the calf to the heel OR 4″ of 1×1 ribbing followed by 8″ of stockinette to the heel—after the heel flap and turn, it is stockinette only (BO-ring!)

I started the socks last November and persevered despite knitting until my fingers cramped and my eyes crossed. The top 4″ of 1×1 ribbing took forEVer. The next 8″ of stockinette went only slightly faster but the supply of yarn was dwindling at an alarming rate. As I neared the heel turn, I realized I was not going to be able to finish the socks with a single skein per sock. They are very firm about where you can add a new skein and I could either rip back to that point of the heels as I waited for the yarn order to come in, OR I could continue my merry way in the land of denial (my home away from home).

I think I managed to blend the seam of new yarn well, but if you are really picky about turning the sock inside out, you might be able to find it and it isn’t at the heel.

Karma caught up with me later with a dropped stitch and missed decreases on the toe of ONE sock. Since I was doing them at the same time (another highly recommended practice by SFS) it was hard for me to understand how I made that error of being FOUR stitches off on on the top of one sock, but all other areas were perfectly accounted for. And then I saw the dropped stitch about a dozen rows back. There was nothing for it but to pick back to the offending offense.

I should mention at this point that one of the more challenging things about these socks (in addition to the dinky needles and #1 sons’ size 12 feet) was the color of yarn: black sock yarn. This yarn is so black that all light dies when it gets near. Individual stitches appear fused. Only in bright daylight is it possible to see clearly enough to un-knit rows.

It took over an hour to laboriously tink back the many (too many!) rows and pick up the dropped stitch. At that point I decided we both needed a breather so the socks are in time out for a day or two.

I love to knit, really I do. But right this minute I’m not as fond of it as usually am, you know?

Of course, I still love my son just the same. But unless he raves about these socks, there is no way he’ll be getting another pair!

PediSocks

My very first pair of tie-up socks! Toe-up socks were on my Resolutions for 2008, but I didn’t quite get to it (ahem). I have been knitting a lot, but sending things out as they were finished and forgetting to take pictures, so how would you know? These are just off the needles AND I remembered to take photos.

I wouldn’t have gotten to trying toe-ups but everything else was in limbo…for example, the Tree of Life Afghan (my modifications to a misunderstood pattern finally caught up with me 2/3rds of the way through) has been in time-out. The Coachella shell has been put down for so long that I need serious brain time to figure out where I am in it. Work has guaranteed that I have NO brain time left once I finally get home. I started a pair of 2-color winter trees wrist warmers for Susan but that has had serious frogging issues so it is back in time-out. (See brain issue above.)

What to do, what to do? I finally finished the sleeping sack for Docious, and knit up 2 pairs of baby booties (in different sizes) to go with it. What could I work on that wasn’t too hot for summer knitting? I have a beaded cowl for the upcoming holidays in that category but…um… plus see brain issue above.

Enter the toe-up sock book… It had both the basic pattern for toe-up knitting PLUS the pedicure sock (socklet?) pattern. Starting was a bitch. I had to restart a bazillion times but I finally managed to get the turkish cast-on past row three and from there on I was off to the races.

The only hiccup was the pattern I began on the instep. Once I got past the heel, I couldn’t figure out how to start it all around the leg, so it just runs up the front side of the socks.

There was yarn left over, so I made the short pedi-socks. They are not short tubes like a dancer might use on the balls of their feet. They actually have a “big toe” tube section and a “the rest of the piggies” section. No one at work “got” the pedi-sock thing. I hope LaMoon does because I made them for her… seems the last pair of socks I made for her were absconded by one of my nieces…

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