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This blog post is brought to you by other people. No, really. I didn’t knit anything I’m about to show you. Neat trick, eh?

To begin the story, we must hearken back. To…um. When the hell are we hearkening back to? Not sure. Let’s start with July, at least I remember that one.

My in-laws, who have been married 50 years come December, had a party this past July. (So people, especially the grandkids, could come during their vacations.) It was a lovely time, but the most lovely thing was that I learned something Very Nice. My FIL’s sister, Tanta Renata, knits. A lot. I hadn’t known this before, and my MIL told her that I knit. So as you maybe can imagine, we had much to discuss.

I found out she loves Nancy Bush. With a very unholy passion. (Can you blame her?) We talked about TONS of stuff: stashing, socks, nupps, Estonian knitting, just to name a few. This last thing is also very important to Renata. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but my FIL is German. But he was actually born in Tartu, Estonia. I’m not sure if Renata was born there too, but she was certainly loves those Estonian knits. So much so that she knit my FIL a pair of socks, “sometime a long time ago,” she said. “He never wore them. He probably threw them away.” I kind of doubted it, and I told her so. Nels got his pack-rattage tendencies from somewhere, after all. But Renata didn’t agree. “He didn’t appreciate them. Be grateful you have someone who appreciates your knitting,” she said, smiling at Nels. He had already pulled up his pant leg to show her the handknitted wool socks he was wearing in the July heat.

Renata left the next day, unfortunately. I wish we had had more time to talk. She lives in Albuquerque too, so I don’t see her often. But she did mention how happy she was to have someone to inherit all her knitting supplies. (She’s around 80, and seems not squeamish about such things.)

About a week after she left, I decided I needed to know what happened to these socks. So I asked my MIL if she remembered them. “Oh yes!” she said. “Peter still has them! Do you want to see?” And she ran upstairs to get them.

Hell, I thought, that was easy.

And then she gave them to me. Yes, really.

Estonian socks

My FIL never wears them, she said. His feet get too hot. But goldang, they are in beautiful condition. I wonder if he wore them even once.

I’m sorry I don’t know what the pattern is. Renata said they were an Estonian pattern, and I think she knit them while she was still living in Germany, many years ago. They are certainly not superwash wool. But I love the details. Especially the twisted stitches down the heel flap, and the broken ribbing that runs along the sides of the foot.


The little purl ridge after the ribbing is also a nice touch.

ribbing and tops

I’m not too familiar with Estonian knitting, so I don’t know how traditional the fair-isle pattern is. It’s pretty, though.


And since I’m curious like that, I flipped the sock inside out to see the floats. I’m a bit ashamed of this, because it always feels a bit like I’m peering into the knitter’s underwear drawer. But look at this underwear!

the flip side


She finished the sock off with a star toe.

star toe

Just lovely. And the best thing? They fit Nels!

They fit!

He didn’t want to take them off after I took this picture. But I made him. I’m so afraid he’s going to wear them out! I’m thinking of weaving some nylon thread into the heel, so it lasts a bit longer. It’s just knit plain, no slipped stitches or ribbing or anything. Anyway, he pouted. I told him they had to be hand-washed, but he didn’t care. Watch him chuck them into the washing machine. Gaa.

I haven’t told Renata yet that we found the socks. I think I’ll just send her a copy of that last picture. That would be a nice surprise, yes? Blast from the socky past. Yay.

So there’s that.

The next thing is not old, but it IS also Estonian. My FIL is a retired professor, but he still does these speaking tours from time to time. This past spring, he and my MIL went to Estonia to give a lecture or two because his very famous book had been translated into Estonian. (I don’t know how many languages that it’s been translated into now. I think it’s around 20 or so.) This is what they brought back for me.

Estonian yarn

240 grams of light fingering/heavy lace weight yarn. In Estonia’s national colors. It’s kind of scratchy but smells very sheepy so I like it. I don’t know how many yards it is. A lot. Enough for a nice stole. For Renata, maybe? I think she would like that.

I didn’t know it at the time, but that wasn’t the only thing they brought back from Estonia for me. I got the other on my birthday.

more stole

A handknitted stole! For me! My MIL said she got both yarn and stole at this outdoor market thingie in Tartu. Pretty! But kind of hard to capture on camera.

even more stolestole

That’s the general idea. It shifts colors, kind of like Noro. But it’s not. This yarn is also very sheepy and kind of scratchy. But I will wear it anyway. It’s nice to know that that quality extends beyond my own knits. I think a bath in some wool wash will do it some good.

So yay, I had a happy birthday despite the auspicious beginning. Thanks to everyone for all the nice birthday wishes! And I would also like to say a very special thank you for this last thing, which was a package I received shortly after my birthday. It wasn’t really a birthday present. It was more like a “hey cheer the hell up” present. And it didn’t cheer me up so much as made me laugh so hard I almost wet my pants. That’s cheerful, yes?

Anyhoodle, it was sent to me by the lovely and most wonderous Weeza. The things inside the package are a bit beyond description, but for simplicity’s sake I will call them “socks.” She suggested that I use them to make some sock monsters, and they will make the most kick assingly awesome sock monsters on the face of the planet. I couldn’t think of a better way to thank her than to make a happy sock dance video. Which I accidentally filmed upside down. I thought I could flip it over later, but it seems I can’t. I’ve decided this adds to its charm. So here you go, Weez. A very happy thank you video, very charming and containing cat for scale.

(Sorry for craptastic quality. I need to turn up the resolution on my phone camera thingy.)

Okay. I swear I’m not putting this up just to get attention. But it’s my birthday today. And I’m pretty grumpy.

Why? Ah, just crap. The same work crap. The blub quit his job (long story, but I think he’ll get another one that pays better and has benefits really soon). He also has to get some fairly serious dental work done, which is going to be expensive. My brother is in Iraq, and I’m worried about him (and my SIL, who is at home with 3 kids under 5). Our refrigerator is crapping out on us, which cheated me out of birthday pancakes this morning because I refuse to eat the eggs and milk in there even though Nels insists they’re fine. Dude, they were at 50 F overnight. They are not fine.

All in all, things are not THAT bad. We’re coping. And we’re all healthy–things could be a lot worse. But I’ve decided to lift myself out of funk by posting some things that I like.

Thing One: Sarah Haskins and Target Women. Here’s the one from this week. Timely, no?

Thing Two: Sockington. Are you on Twitter? You need to follow this cat. Especially watch this video.

Thing Three: Sundara Yarn. (Well, duh. Who doesn’t?) I got myself some sock yarn from Year in Color: July. Toasted orange over pistachio, it’s all the way at the bottom. But I won’t get it until midway through September, yaarg! (BTW: what the hell is a toasted orange?)

Thing Four: My new phone. I got this one and I heart it. It flips open sideways. Nifty. (Thanks, Dad!)

fall blooming lilies

Thing Five: That my fall blooming lilies have been open since July.

Thing Six: Cupcakes. Specifically chocolate peanut butter cupcakes that my coworker made for me today. I will go eat one right now.

Yum and bye.

This summer has been so fricking nice.

fence and meadow

So much so that I’ve wanted to do little else but sit on my porch and watch the creek flow by, the hummingbirds dive-bomb each other, and my beer glass slowly grow empty. There has been some knitting. A bit. A smidge. But all mindless. And honestly, not really that much of it. Two pairs of socks in the past, er, couple of months. One pair for Nels, and one for me.

The blub pair:

happy feets o the blub

Dude’s Funky Socks, Also with Dutch Heel
Pattern: Gentleman’s Plain Winter Sock with Dutch Heel, by Nancy Bush from Knitting Vintage Socks (rav)
Yarn: Schoeller + Stahl Limbo Superwash #2539 (rainbowy bits) and Cascade 220 Superwash (solid teal bits)
Needle: US 3 and 4
Start to finish: July 5 to 12

Not much to say about these, really. They are awesome, I think that about sums it up.

gentleman's winter stockings

I made them not match on purpose, cuz I felt like it.

blub socks stripies

I added some random stripies, but the stripies the yarn did by itself were pretty nice.

dutch heels

I did make the heels match, and I did do the Dutch heel. It was interesting to step away from my heel flap heel for once. Refreshing, even.

I finished knitting these super-fast. (Well. The fact that the yarn is worsted weight kinda helped.) It was totally unintentional, but they were finished on the blub’s birthday so I wrapped him up and gave them to him. Bonus birthday present. He was quite pleased. So much so that he wore them that day. Worsted weight socks. In July. Mild summer or not, that’s pretty hard-core. I guess he just loves me. Or loves handknit socks. Either. Both.

Pair two: the me pair!

beer and the socks

Gettin’ lucky socks
Pattern: Um. Gentleman’s Plain Winter Sock with Dutch Heel, by Nancy Bush from Knitting Vintage Socks (rav)
Yarn: Crown Mountain Farms Sock Hop, 2 skeins of Say a Little Prayer
Needle: US 3
Start to finish: July 13 to 31

Yes, these are the same pattern as the ones I knit for Nels. I guess I just liked knitting them. Called the gettin’ lucky socks because the color reminds me of Good Luck Bear.

(BTW, while playing with Care Bears with my best friend Stacey was the first time I used the word ‘dick’ in a sentence.* We were seven. We laughed and laughed! Ah, childhood.)

Is there anything else to say here? The awesome was screaming to continue. I let it.

sock hop toesies

Didn’t do the Dutch heel here (I guess I can only take so much refreshing at once) but that was about the only difference.

socks and flowershappy socksIzzy and the socks

And. Um. Yeah, that’s it. About the only other thing I’ve been doing (besides working and wishing I was home on my porch) is gardeny type stuff. And taking lots of pictures of gardeny type stuff. Lots.

Indiana musk melonnasturtium in the gardenblack eyed susansbeans!Queen Anne's lace and fenceFunny looking beanmatersconeflowers in the sun

Yep. Lots!

Sigh. My porch is so nice. I wish you all could come over and sit with me and knit. But speaking of that, I have to go now. I have to go sit on a porch (not mine) and drink martinis and knit with The Best Knitting Group Ever (TM). Wanna come?

*For the curious: Stacey was playing with Wish Bear, who was a girl bear, and she made her say, “I have to go powder my nose.” So I felt I should make my bear go to the bathroom, too. The trouble was, I was playing with Love-A-Lot bear, who was a boy bear. My seven-year-old mind worked feverishly. What the heck did boys say when they had to go to the bathroom? Coming up with nothing, I blurted out, “I have to go polish my dick!” And then, as you might imagine, hilarity ensued.

Contact me

thechemgrrl AT gmail DOT com (you know what to do with the extras)
August 2009