Two days ago, it was raining so I didn’t take my camera to work with me, but I witnessed the cutest thing!  I heard some especially energetic chirping, so I looked out and saw one of the baby birds jump out of the nest, flap its wings, and attempt to fly.  It ended up going mostly downwards, but at an angle, so it was able to control its direction a little bit!  Later it ended up sitting on a branch right below my window.  It would have been a perfect shot, but darn it, I didn’t have my camera!  Yesterday, it was out again, but on a branch that was further away and not easy to photograph in focus.  Here’s what I managed.

So cute!

Adorable, no?  So roly poly and cute!  Still somewhat gray and fuzzy, but with some yellow feathers on the chest.

Baby out of the nest!

So far, only one of the babies has been brave enough to leave the nest.  Hopefully I’ll get better pictures this coming week!

Another fun item this week:  I saw these Skechers shoes on Limedragon’s blog and just had to have them, and apparently they’re been all over Ravelry already, so I’m a little late.  🙂  Only $10.50, with free shipping!

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I got them in the Smoke color, just like Limedragon, and I ordered size 6.5, up from my usual 6, so there would be extra room.  They show off my CSM socks very nicely.

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Today, I went to visit Beth at her store, Broad Brook Books & Stuff, so that she could help me with my sock machine.  On the way there, my car got rear-ended in slow moving traffic near some roadwork.  I was fine, but my first thought was about my sock machine in the trunk!!  It was fine too.  Thankfully the police were already there directing traffic around the site of the roadwork, so it didn’t take too long to file the report, and it shouldn’t be a problem repairing the damage to the car (the rear bumper was dented in).  Anyway, it was all worth it because Beth helped me to get my ribber working!  Turns out that the part that was getting caught on the ribber needle butts is a moving part.  We just had to take out one of the screws that I had been to afraid to mess with, which holds together the “ribber in/out” switch.   She also noted that the knob that adjusts the length of the ribbed stitches seems to be stuck, so I now have it soaking, to see if I can get it to move again. So this is my ribbing (the top part, anyway).  Below the top part is mock rib.

Ribbing!

Can’t wait to make a ribbed sock!

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The ribber is one of the most difficult parts of the circular sock machine to learn.  I’ve fiddled with it a few times, each time learning a little bit more about how it works.  Finally, I saw this post at Sarah’s blog, and it just clicked for me.  I had fixed the timing so the needles would catch the yarn in the proper sequence, but they weren’t pulling the yarn through the previous loop to make the stitch.  Following her advice, I lowered the ribber dial a few times, until the yarn cleared the latches and made stitches.  It ended up almost touching the cylinder!

Legare CSM ribbing, for the first time!

Here you can see the needles in action.

Legare CSM ribbing, for the first time!

Now my one remaining problem is that the butt end of the needle seems too short, and it gets stuck on the tappet plate as it goes around. I have to push the needle butts out a little bit to clear the part where it gets stuck. I don’t know if getting longer needles will solve this, or if I have to adjust the tappet plate somehow. So far, that part looks pretty immobile to me. But next week I will be going over to see Beth (who has no blog, that is her Ravelry link), who is nearby and was kind enough to offer her help.

So here is the final result.  I somehow managed to drop some stitches when I transferred them back to stockinette stitches and took the ribber off.  I’ll have to figure out how not to do that next time.  The little bow-ties are where the stitches didn’t clear the latch and stayed on the needle to be knit on the next round.  You can see there are fewer of them toward the top of the cylinder, after I had lowered the ribber more and more.

Legare CSM ribbing, for the first time!

It’s so satisfying to make progress like this!

I’d also like to introduce you all to my new little friend, who has been visiting me at my office window for the past couple of weeks.

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Isn’t he adorable?  I have a pretty tree outside my window, and this little fellow hangs out there and sings when the weather is nice. Occasionally, he hops over to my window and taps on the glass. Of course, he didn’t do it when I had my camera with me… I don’t know much about birds, so I just Google’d “yellow bird with black wings” and found out that he is an American Goldfinch.  Yesterday I actually saw a similar bird with less vibrant plumage, possibly a female.  If they mate and have little baby birdies outside my window I will be thrilled!

Finally, I got back to my sock machine to finish the second mock rib sock.

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Despite my efforts to write down what I did, and to count rows carefully, the second sock turned out longer than the first.  Oops!  They fit but are a tad loose, especially at the cuff.  I think I’ll increase tension a bit for the next pair I do with the Lorna’s Laces yarn.

I’ve also been spinning on my wheel this week!  Here’s some Spunky Eclectic merino/tencel fiber in Sangria.  Look at that sheen!

Spunky Eclectic Merino/Tencel in Sangria

It hardly needed any predrafting, and wanted to be spun fine.  It took some experimentation to find the right amount of twist for it to be strong yet still soft.

Spinning fine

Here’s the first 2 ounces of singles on the bobbin.  I’ll do another 2 ounces to make a 2-ply laceweight.  Mmmm!

Singles

Obviously, I still need to work on filling the bobbin evenly. But it is pretty, no?

In 2001, my husband-to-be Chris and I went on a vacation trip to Japan, Bali, and Thailand.  Part of it was planned around Gion Matsuri, a festival that takes place in Kyoto every July.  It was truly magical, and Chris recorded some of the unique sounds we experienced.  He writes an audio drama review column at www.radiodramarevival.com, and for this week he posted some photos and some of the recordings he made.   This is a “hoko,” a 2-story float containing a band of musicians, pulled by teams of 40-50 men without a steering mechanism!

Hoko

If you’re interested in reading more about the festival, and would like to hear the recordings, you can find them here.

As for my circular sock machine, I managed to make the first sock that fits me properly today!  I fiddled around with the 54-slot cylinder, but couldn’t get a nice tight fabric with the yarn I was using, so I went back to the 72-slot cylinder and did a mock rib, with 3 needles in, 1 needle out.  The yarn is Lorna’s Laces Shepard Sock, I think the colorway is Tahoe. These pictures don’t do the colors justice – they are much richer in real life.

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I did 20 rows in mock rib, hung the hem, then 50 rows for the leg, put in the missing needles for the heel, then 5 more rows, then the heel, then 40 rows for the foot, put in the missing needles for the toe, 2 more rows, then the toe.  With no dropped stitches!  Whew!  Here is the heel.

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And it fits around my ankle!  The cuff is still somewhat loose.  I think I’ll probably need to figure out how to do a true rib to get a nice, snug cuff.  Now I’ll make the second sock!  Good thing I wrote down what I did so I can replicate it.

I decided to stop worrying about the sizing and just make a darn pair of socks, partly for practice and partly to get a feel for using real sock yarn on the machine. I got my replacement 54-slot cylinder which looks good and should be usable, but it’s still soaking in Marvel Mystery Oil for cleaning. So this is on the 72-slot cylinder. I used some Opal from my stash.  Here are the two socks and the setup bonnet, separated by waste yarn.

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And here is the pair, after Kitchenering the toes.

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Unfortunately, too many things distracted me from counting rows, so I tried to wing it by putting my foot up to it and saying, “looks good enough…” So the first sock (on the right) looks big enough for an elf. The second one fits me but is loose, especially around the ankle.

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Here is the heel. It went pretty smoothly, except that one time I forgot to make sure the latch was open, so the stitch was dropped.  After cursing and taking off the weights, I managed to pick it back up.

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Even though it’s not a wearable pair of socks, I learned a lot about adjusting tension while using real sock yarn to get a nice fabric and to minimize dropped stitches.  I asked Tim to model the socks for me, but he took them off his feet and put them on his hands.

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Then he put the setup bonnet on his leg.

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My silly boy!

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