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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

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I am Evil

Well, I may have sucked at the Olympics, but I did finish some things during those 16 days.

First of all, I finished my dad's argyle socks. [See my gallery entry for details.] I can now count these as my February socks for the Sock-a-Month KAL.

I also finished my Forbes Forest Scarf. I enjoyed making this scarf and I'm really happy with how it came out. Uncool Guy is the lucky recipient. And Maria, in case you're wondering, -- no reason, just because I'm such a good wife ;).

Forbes Forest by Kathy Zimmerman, from Scarf Style
Jo Sharp DK Wool,
color: 908 (glade), 5.5 balls
US 6
At first I didn't think I would like this pattern. There was just too much going on with all the cables and bobbles and whatnot. However, after memorizing the pattern & bobble technique, I really started to enjoy making this scarf. It is rather slow knitting since there are cables to cross or bobbles to make on every right-side row, but cabling without a needle can really help your speed. [I like Grumperina's instructions.] And the technique works really well here because the cables are so narrow.

This was my first project with bobbles, and I have to say that I think I am now a bobble convert. Previously, I poo-pooed all bobble-containing patterns. But now I'm a fan. I found that knitting backwards on the second row of the bobble (instead of turning) really made bobbling much more enjoyable. [Here are some links with instructions on how to knit backwards English style and continental style, in case you are not familiar with this technique.]

Back here I mentioned that I would try to do the rest of this scarf continental style. Well, I think I ended up doing about half and half, and surprisingly I can't see a difference in gauge. My timer broke, so I was unable to time myself properly, but continental style was definitely faster. However, I found bobbling easier English style.

Oh, I have also discovered that I am apparently quite evil:
Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality QuizHarry Potter Personality Quiz

If you are a knitter, take the quiz and post your results here. Double Helix is taking a survey of the personality types of knitters. It will be interesting to see the results.


Saturday, February 25, 2006

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Knitting Mojo

So, it’s the end of the Olympics and you may be wondering where my Rogue cardigan is. Well, it’s lying uncompleted in a heap in the corner of my couch, where I tossed it in annoyance a week ago. It needed a time out (or maybe I did).

I was going to write about how the pockets weren't lining up smoothly with the body, how the pocket join was bulging, how the pockets seemed too way too small, how the whole cardigan seemed like it was not going to fit. However, when I uncrumpled the sweater to take a picture of these problem areas, I discovered that it wasn't as bad as I had previously thought. The 'time out' may have worked its magic -- I am actually considering working on it again soon. However, because of my displeasure with this Bartlett yarn, I will be taking it slow and easy, to avoid another fit of annoyance.

My so-called participation in this Knitting Olympics thing has made me realize something important though - I am a rebel knitter. I do not like to knit whatever I am ‘supposed’ to be knitting. Before the Olympics, I could barely restrain myself from starting Rogue; during the Olympics it felt like a chore to work on it. I am continually promising people knitted items and then losing all interest in finishing them (or sometimes, even starting them), to wit: my dad’s argyle socks, the Trixi Cardigan for Daughter#1, socks for Niece#2, the tank top I started as a knit-along with my neighbor (Hi, Maria!). The list goes on and on.

I don’t think it is just a matter of being an ADD Knitter – I really do like to finish things. I especially like to finish things that are gifts for people, but only when they have no idea I am making them. Then I knit like a trooper to get stuff done (I finished 12 knitted gifts this Christmas, as my gallery can attest.). But when the recipient knows about the gift – then, I lose all interest.

All this promising and not delivering has caused me much knitting guilt. And guilt is bad. It takes away from my knitting mojo. And we can’t have that, since knitting is my only source of mojo lately ;).

With that in mind, here is

My New Knitting Credo

I will knit what I want, when I want, for whomever I want,
regardless of whatever knit-alongs or other crap I sign up for.

And I won’t feel bad about it either.

So relatives, take heed: if I promise you a knitted item, be aware this really means that I may eventually knit something for you. But don’t hold your breath. Sorry, but I gotta protect the mojo.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

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No Olympic Knitting Here...

Olympics? What Olympics?

Here's what I've been working on lately. The argyle socks that I promised my Dad exactly one year ago. [How's that for turnaround time?] This is the 2nd sock. All I have left to do is adjust the toe a little. Then I will be DONE. Just in time for my dad's birthday.

These will be my dad's first pair of handknit socks. I hope he enjoys them. I'm just glad they are done. They've been causing me guilt for too long.

After seeing the pictures of Eunny's mini-argyles, I am really tempted to try something like that. I will try to restrain myself and remember that I have two other pairs of socks waiting in the wings to be finished (but what fun is that?).

In other news, Sister #2 will be quite happy to see this picture. That could only mean that -- I've finally started her hat. Yay! [She's been soooo patient.]

It's going to be the Herringbone Cloche from Vogue Hats & Caps Two. I'm using Rowan Felted Tweed. I really like the color of this yarn with all the cute little fleckies in it. However, I'm not sure about this hat pattern...

The pattern has you make 3 triangular shapes for the crown, then sew them together and pick up stitches all around for a brim. That's fine, except the dimensions of the hat given seem kind of small (20" around and 6" deep (w/o brim).

My gauge is off, which I discovered by knitting the first triangle above. I did some calculating to figure out what size these triangles are supposed to be (based on the given gauge). Then I calculated how many sts & rows I'd have to do to get the right size triangle. That's where I'm at right now. After I finish one of these correct-sized triangles, I will have to determine if three of these things will really make a properly fitting hat. I am having major doubts.

That said, I am loving this herringbone stitch pattern. It's got great texture, and it's not stiff at all. Very slow going though. And if you make a mistake -- look out. Big pain to rip back here.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

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The Wheel

[UPDATED TO ADD: Sorry for the confusion. The list below was generated by typing "Persnickety Knitter" into a random 'fact' generator called the Mechanical Contrivium. It's fun. Try it.]

OK, I'm sure this will be all over blogland shortly, but I just couldn't resist.

Ten Top Trivia Tips about
Persnickety knitter!

  1. Persnickety knitter has often been found swimming miles from shore in the Indian Ocean!
  2. Most bottles and jars contain at least twenty-five percent recycled Persnickety Knitter.
  3. Scientists have discovered that Persnickety Knitter can smell the presence of autism in children.
  4. During the reign of Peter the Great, any Russian nobleman who chose to wear Persnickety Knitter had to pay a special Persnickety Knitter tax!
  5. Persnickety Knitter invented the wheel in the fourth millennium BC.
  6. Women shoplift four times more frequently than Persnickety Knitter.
  7. A thimbleful of Persnickety Knitter would weigh over 100 million tons.
  8. Persnickety Knitter is the only king without a moustache on the standard pack of cards.
  9. The Aztec Indians of Mexico believed Persnickety Knitter would protect them from physical harm, and so warriors used her to decorate their battle shields.
  10. Persnickety Knitter can usually be found in nests built in the webs of large spiders!
I am interested in - do tell me about

  1. Hmmm, highly unlikely. Persnickety Knitter prefers not to get wet, and thus stays out of the water, except on the hottest of days.
  2. Well, I do believe in recycling...
  3. Quite possibly. Persnickety Knitter does have a highly developed sense of smell.
  4. My knitted socks were quite popular back then.
  5. Yes, and it's nice to finally get credit for it.
  6. Who are all these thieving women?
  7. I resent the implication that I am dense.
  8. Well, Persnickety Knitter does prefer to be clean-shaven.
  9. I do so enjoy a good battle.
  10. Untrue. You will not find Persnickety Knitter anywhere near a spider, especially large spiders that build nests. Yikes.

Knitting Update:

Finished one argyle sock, on the ankle of the second (pics tomorrow). Yeah, I know. Break over. Time to get back to Rogue. Sigh.

This project is dragging me down. I'm going to need to all the moral support I can get to finish this on time. With that in mind, I just joined:

the new Team Rogue
the Rogue-Along Yahoo group.

Hopefully, seeing everyone else's progress will inspire me. Yeah, right.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

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In Need of a Stockinette Fix

click for bigger pictureOlympic Knitting Update: Two sleeves of my Rogue cardigan completed, body started, currently knitting the pocket area.

It took me a whole evening to cast on for the body and make the hem with my stupid new method. What a drag that was. This yarn is kind of fragile when split and therefore it broke a couple times while picking up all those hem stitches. Also, I am no longer convinced that this hem is deep enough to keep the edge from flipping up. Well, at least the hem is finished and I won't have to sew it up later.

Last night I knit the pocket area, which was mildly confusing with the cardigan modifications. You can see the pockets sticking up from each end of the needle in the pic above.

I have to say, I am not enjoying knitting with this yarn. It's kind of rough (almost crunchy?) and doesn't run through your fingers smoothly. It has a lot of natural oils left in it and after knitting for a few hours my hands smell sheepy and feel gross -- like I've been touching someone's greasy hair. Ick. But the color -- I'm still loving that. And my washed swatch did feel nice, so I'm not giving up hope yet.

However, the roughness of this yarn, combined with all the cables and stitch picking-up and whatnot, is wreaking havoc on my hands. Last night I started getting wrist pain so I decided it was time to give this project a rest for a couple days.

Instead, I was craving a simple knit. . . Something with soft yarn. Something knit in the round, in all stockette. Hmmmm . . . I know, those stupid argyle socks!

Well, I dug them out and I've been cranking along on them quite happily. I've decided I need to keep one easy stockinette project going as a way to rest my hands (cuz you know I can't just not knit). I'm hoping to finish sock number one tonight. That will make my dad happy since I promised these socks to him almost a year ago (pathetic, I know).

Hey, guess what today is?

Why it's my knittiversary. Three years ago today, I was taught to knit by my mother-in-law. I was hooked immediately. In fact we went to the craft store that day and I bought some cotton yarn and a book of knitted dishcloth patterns. I was so excited that I cast on for my first project right away. I knit during the entire two-hour ride home from my in-laws' house. And I created..... THIS:

ugly dishclothMy first knitted object -- isn't it lovely?
Ummm, no.

It used to be yellow, blue, and white but is now dingy from use. Still, you can see the hallmarks of a beginner's knit: the cast-off that is much tighter than the cast-on, the basket-weave pattern that gets accidentally reversed 2/3 of the way up the dishcloth, the crappy weaving-in of the ends. This dishcloth needs to be put out of its misery.

Anyhow, thank you, Marcia, for introducing me to the wide and exciting world of knitting. I am eternally grateful.


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

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Aaaaah, Chocolate

Hope everyone is having a nice Valentine's Day (happy is expecting a lot, no?). Uncool Guy has showered me with lovely flowers and far too much chocolate. I can't believe I just said that -- is there such a thing as "too much chocolate"? Well, yes -- when some of these pieces have a whopping 460 CALORIES each! Yikes. And, ummm, I had three... But I did ride the bike for 40 minutes. That probably worked off half a piece, maybe. Sigh.

In Olympic news, I have finished another sleeve on my Rogue cardigan. [That would be 3 sleeves total for those who are counting.] Going to start the body tonight.

Oh, and have you seen the free pattern Melissa just posted for heart cable socks? They are quite lovely. I will have to try this pattern out later, post-Olympics.

Actually, I just realized I had better think about finishing some socks for the month of February for the Sock-a-Month KAL. And I probably had better make it be those darn argyle socks for my dad. [He finally did check out my blog.] I really need to get those off my plate. I suppose that means that Sister#2 will be annoyed that it will postpone her hat. Hey, I do accept bribes...

Sorry no pics today. Instead I will leave you with this:

Your Candy Heart Says "Get Real"
You're a bit of a cynic when it comes to love.
You don't lose your head, and hardly anyone penetrates your heart.

Your ideal Valentine's Day date: is all about the person you're seeing (with no mentions of v-day!)

Your flirting style: honest and even slightly sarcastic

What turns you off: romantic expectations and "greeting card" holidays

Why you're hot: you don't just play hard to get - you are hard to get

Found here.

1 Comment:

Monday, February 13, 2006

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A Tale of Two Rogue Hems

How are you all progressing with your Olympic challenges? Me? Eh, not so hot.

Here is the story of how I spent my weekend, deep in hem-analysis. [Beware, super-anal post ahead...]

click for bigger pictureTo review, I'm making Rogue (with the cardigan modifications) in the small size, using Bartlett yarns 2ply on a US 7. I decided to start with a sleeve, since if I mucked it up there would less to rip (and therefore less bad language involved). Good thing, cuz muck it up I did.

I decided follow the modifications for the smaller hem, and so this is what I did:

  • used a provisional cast-on, knit 5 rows in stockinette with US5, then did the purl turning row,
  • switched to US7 and knit 5 rows of the body (with the increases and the cables),
  • then knit up the cast-on stitches with the next row of the body. Since there were more body stitches than cast-on stitches (cuz of the increases), I had to knit some body stitches solo (I got the idea for this at String or Nothing). This was a royal pain when combined with having to follow the cable chart at the same time.

I'm sure this would have looked good in a lighter-weight yarn. But it just didn't cut it with this aran-weight yarn. The hem was big and bulky.

Witness Exhibit A, the thick ugly hem:
Exhibit A: bulky hem

I wish I had noticed this sooner, but I was madly knitting away, oblivious to the lumpiness. At the beginning of the sleeve cap, I temporarily seamed it up to check the fit and discovered not only that I didn't like this hem, but also that it was a little snugger at the wrist than I wanted (probably cuz of the thick hem), and that I had accidentally made an extra increase 3" back. Sigh. Three reasons to rip the whole thing.

You know, upon beginning this project, I really was going to try rein in the persnicketiness and just GET IT DONE. But. . . three problems? I just had to rip.

And I'm glad I did because after spending much time perusing my trusty Principles of Knitting by June Hiatt and messing with different hem options, I found a much nicer option.

First of all, I decided to split my 2-ply yarn and use only one ply of it for the hem facing to help eliminate the bulk. This was kind of a pain, but the facing really didn't really use that much yarn so I didn't have to split very much. I tried doing the recommended hem with the purl turning row with the split yarn as facing but then the edge flared too much.

So, I kept using split yarn, but switched the method of hem construction, so I was picking up the facing from the cast-on row (instead of knitting the facing first and folding in half). This finally resulted in A HEM THAT I LOVE.

Here's what I did, step-by-step:

  • Cast on sleeve stitches PLUS 4 (so 43 sts) with US8 using long-tail method.
  • Sleeve Row 0 (WS) - [This is an extra row WS row.] I just followed the directions for row 2 of the sleeve as given by the pattern, but with an extra K1 on each end (which accounts for 2 of the extra cast-on stitches). The other 2 extra cast-on stitches replace the two make-1-purls on the chart (which would have happened if I had followed row 1 as given).
  • Sleeve Row 1 (RS) - Followed the directions for the real row 1, but again with the extra K1 on each end and purling existing sts instead of doing the m-1-purl.
  • Facing Row 1 - Now, using a US7 and my SPLIT YARN (half the thickness of my main yarn), I picked up and knit 41 sts (2 LESS than I did above) from the purl bumps on the WS of the cast-on row of the sleeve. I did not pick up stitches from the 1st and last purl bumps of the cast-on row since those stitches would just be part of the seam anyway and I didn't want to add unnecesary bulk.
  • Facing Row 2 - I purled all of the facing stitches.
  • Facing Row 3 - I knit all of the facing stitches, then cut the SPLIT YARN.
  • Sleeve Row 2 (WS) - [Here I joined the sleeve with the hem facing.] I picked up the sleeve yarn again and held both the sleeve needle and the facing needle together like I was going to do a 3-needle bind-off. I purled 1 sleeve stitch all by itself. Then I followed the instructions for row 2 of the sleeve, but by purling (or knitting) BOTH the sleeve and facing stitches together. I ended by purling the extra sleeve stitch by itself.
  • I then followed the rest of the sleeve directions as given (except for my extra 1 st at each end), however, I did my increases on RS rows instead of WS rows, and I eliminated the final set of interior increases to get back on track with the given nbr of stitches.

OK, that was long, and probably very boring, but I really love the resulting hem. It seems to lie flat, it's not bulky, and it's still kind of stretchy. Big difference from my first attempt.

Witness Exhibit B, the hem comparison:

click for bigger picture

click for bigger pictureAfter all that hem business, I finally got down to some serious knitting and managed to finish the new sleeve yesterday (the snowstorm helped). Here it is.

Now on to the next one...


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

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Anatomically Correct Sock Toes

look at that huge toeI have long big toes, and when I'm making socks I like to shape the toe area to fit my foot "like a glove" (well really "like a sock", but you know what I mean). Yes, this does mean that you have to pay a bit more attention when you put on your socks (to make sure they are on the right foot), but hey, if you can do it with shoes, you can do it with socks.

I developed these instructions through trial and error, but I now use them for all of the socks I make for myself. I hope my fellow large-big-toed knitters will find this helpful.

Anatomically Correct Sock Toes
(for Top-Down Socks)


These directions are for use with typical sock-weight yarn. You may have to reduce the number of rounds in each section for use with heavier yarn. [However, I just used these directions for my Log Cabin Socks, which were made with a bulky weight yarn on US6 needles and they worked out fine.]

For ease in writing these instructions, I will be assuming that you are using 3 DPNs, arranged like this:

I will also be assuming that you have:

  • 1/4 of your stitches on needle 1,
  • 1/2 of your stitches on needle 2, and
  • 1/4 of your stitches on needle 3

*** I will be referring to the point between needle 1 and needle 3 as the end of the round. If you are using 2 circulars (as I usually do), just consider the end of the round to be at the middle of the bottom-of-the-foot needle.

As you are knitting the foot of your sock, keep trying it on (put stitches on a piece of scrap yarn, if necessary) and stop when your sock reaches the base of the toenail of your little toe (basically the point at which the width of your foot starts to decrease). WRITE DOWN how many rounds you have knit on the foot so far. This will be useful information for the 2nd sock. Skip this step, and regret it later (I know I usually do.)


Start Little Toe Decreases:

[Basically, here you are decreasing every other row, but on the little-toe side only.]

Round 1:
Needle 1 - Knit.
Needle 2 - K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Needle 3 - K1, SSK, K to end.
Round 2:

Repeat these two rounds 7 times, and then repeat Round 1 once more (so 15 rows total). [The sock should now reach approximately to the tip of your middle toe. If not, adjust accordingly, but end with a decrease round.]

Start Big Toe Decreases:

[Basically, here you start decreasing on the big-toe side (at first every other row, then every row). Also, you switch to decreasing every row on the little-toe side.]

Round 1:
Needle 1 - K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Needle 2 -- K1, SSK, K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Needle 3 - K1, SSK, K to end.
Round 2:
Needle 1 - Knit.
Needle 2 - K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Needle 3 - K1, SSK, K to end.
Rounds 3, 4, & 5:
Repeat Round 1.
Round 6 (partial round):
Needle 1 - Knit.

excuse my pillingGraft the toe stitches together. [I find it easier to graft the sock closed fairly loosely and then go back and tighten the stitches one by one, working the extra yarn toward the loose end.]

Pull the yarn tight at the end (to eliminate any bumpiness at the end of your grafting) and weave the end in.


Oh, bother. I'm tired. Can't I just take the easy way out and say, "reverse the shaping?"

Fine, here it is, reversed for your second sock pleasure.

Start Little Toe Decreases:

Round 1:
Needle 1 - K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Needle 2 - K1, SSK, K to end.
Needle 3 - Knit.
Round 2:

Repeat these two rounds 7 times, and then repeat Round 1 once more (so 15 rows total).

Start Big Toe Decreases:

Round 1:
Needle 1 - K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Needle 2 -- K1, SSK, K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Needle 3 - K1, SSK, K to end.
Round 2:
Needle 1 - K to last 3 sts, K2tog, K1.
Needle 2 - K1, SSK, K to end.
Needle 3 - Knit.
Rounds 3, 4, & 5:
Repeat Round 1.
Round 6 (partial round):
Needle 1 - Knit.

Graft toe stitches together and weave in end.

Leave me a comment if you have any questions. If you actually make these, let me know how they turn out.

Pattern & images © 2006 Tamara Stone-Snyder.
May be distributed freely for personal use only. Cannot be reprinted on the web or otherwise without permission.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

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There are aliens hiding in my gallery...

After listing the Finished Object Gallery in my right sidebar as "under construction" for several months, I have finally gotten around to posting it. Yay!

Yeah, OK, it's not done. But I've posted all of the sweaters, some bags, and some scarves -- including the oh so very cool Alien Illusion Scarf that I made for Nephew#3. Go check it out in my lovely new Finished Object Gallery. Leave me a comment there and let me know what you think.

I've gotten some work done on the Forbes Forest Scarf lately. It's going to be for Uncool Guy. He says he really likes how it's coming along (bobbles and all).

This scarf pattern requires lots of switching from knitting to purling and vice versa. When knitting English style (yarn held in right hand), a whole extra step is required to move the yarn around the needle to the back or the front to knit or to purl. However, when knitting Continental style (yarn in left hand) you can just shift your finger to the back or the front to switch between knitting and purling. [It's sooo much faster to do ribbing that way]. So, I decided to do some time trials to see how much faster it would be to knit this scarf Continental style than English style. It's a little hard to compare because the center and edge cables have different repeats so it takes a while to get back to the exact same type of row. Also, the bobble rows really slow you down.

The one thing I still can't do Continental style is the big 'popcorn' bobble on this pattern. It starts with having you knit into the front, back, front, back, front of the same stitch (to create 5 sts out of 1). I find that impossible to do while holding the yarn ONLY in my left hand; holding it in my right I have much more leverage. I guess each style has its pros and cons.

Anyhow, in my time trials, I was averaging around 6 min 50 sec English style and 6 min 20 sec Continental style for a set of 2 rows that didn't contain a bobble. I thought there would be an even bigger difference, but I'm guessing I will get even faster with the Continental style if I practice it more. I'm fairly comfortable holding the yarn in my left hand, but not nearly as much as I am holding it in my right. I'm going to try to do the rest of the scarf Continental. I'll let you know if I get faster.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

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Bad Unicorn... Bad

Sister#2 finally picked a yarn for her Herringbone Cloche. Isn't it purrrty? I'm happy cuz she chose something that I'm excited to try -- Rowan Felted Tweed in color 151 (Billberry). I've never ordered from Jimmy Bean's Wool before, so we'll see how that goes.

And, of course, I could never just order 2 measly skeins of yarn... what a waste of shipping charges that would be. ;) So I also ordered me some Addi Turbos (whoooooosh, imagine Brenda Dayne's great sound effect here) to use for my Rogue Olympic event -- I need all the help I can get to finish that on time.

I've been making slow progress on my Jaywalker socks. I'm using Plymouth Sockotta, which normally I really like for socks (at least for socks that are all stockinette). However, it does NOT work well with this particular pattern. Sockotta is 45% cotton and thus has less stretch than an all-wool sock yarn, and this pattern NEEDS stretch due to the zigzag type of stitch pattern. It's now pretty hard for me to get these on -- and I made the large size. I may have to donate them to someone with petite little ankles -- Niece#2 maybe?

I'm almost done with the first sock, but I'm bored, bored, bored with this pattern. Not to mention that this purple/brown color combo is kind of barf-tastic -- not sure what I was thinking there. But maybe I'm just sick of socks.

So, to alleviate my boredom I brought out another project from my big ol' Heap of Abandoned Projects - the Forbes Forest Scarf from Scarf Style. I'm making it in Jo Sharp DK Wool, which I like a lot. I've only completed a couple pattern repeats, but I'm enjoying the pattern so far. Not sure about the bobbles though. . . I'm not a bobble sort of person, but I guess they are cute here. Anyway, if this is ever finished it will be for my husband, henceforth referred to as Uncool Guy (so named by Nephew#4.)

Oh, and have you seen this - very amusing. Found via Marnie Talks.

Thank you for the lovely comments on my Log Cabin Socks. And, since some people showed an interest, I will be writing up the directions for my anatomically correct sock toes very soon. So stay tuned...