Sunday, July 22, 2007

Cookie Sock Design Classes

Before I get to the recap of my sock design classes with Cookie, I wanted to quickly thank you for all your amazing comments and although I've been horrible (again) at keeping up with blog-reading, I do appreciate you for stopping by here occasionally to check in on me and I do consider those who comment here frequently, to be true friends. Thank you for sharing your personal stories with me and offering me words of encouragement during the last few months. I don't think you'll ever know how much it truly means to me.

So now that you know I love you, (in spite of my lack of commenting on your blogs), here's just a little re-cap of my Cookie class!

A few days before my birthday, I told DH that I hoped he hadn't purchased anything because I knew what I wanted. He was a little surprised but not shocked when I told him I wanted to spend the day in Burbank, California on a Sunday to learn sock design from the sock design queen herself, Cookie A. Of course, he asked the typical "how much is it", question, and agreed that $150 was a fair enough amount for two, 3-hour classes from someone who I obviously admired. I promptly placed my online order at Unwind for the two classes, gladly gave them my credit card info, and within moments I was confirmed for the classes.

Sunday morning, I arrived at Unwind 15 minutes before the class started and Cookie was still setting up her mannequin display legs outfitted in her beautiful sock creations. The first class was named Top-Down Sock Design and the description stated: "Learn how to design a sock using the stitch pattern of your choice. We will use a standard sock construction including a ribbed cuff, heel flap, gusset, and wedge toe." We were each given a 10-page handout that included all the material we learned in the class along with some worksheets and charts that are worth the price of the class alone. The class taught me so much, but I now finally understand why it's easier to design a sock from the cuff-down instead of the toe-up. Not that it can't be done toe-up, but with complicated designs, it seems to be much easier cuff-down (or top-down). The three hours flew by and although my design worked in theory, when I got home and worked on it further, I realized it didn't work in function. The lace pattern was diagonal and so it ended up pulling the sock diagonally. Back to the drawing board.

There was a one-hour break between classes and so I took a leisurely walk down the street towards Porto's to have lunch. This is an amazing Cuban bakery and cafe, and if you're ever in the area, make sure you don't miss it! When I was there it was crowded and difficult to find a seat, but if you're patient, it's worth the wait. I didn't "brave" the traditional Cuban sandwich, but instead ordered a usual favorite of mine, the Italian Sub. I would not hesitate to order it again!

The first class was great, the lunch was great, the weather was ideal, and so I had high hopes for the afternoon. The class was named Sock Design Overview and the description was "learn about various concerns in sock design including which numbers need to be calculated, where stitches need to line up, what to factor into your personal fit, heel types, pros and cons of top-down vs. toe-up." This class included a 5-page handout and including a few sections that were the same as the first class, but it definitely seemed more mathematical, which is definitely what I needed, but I'm not sure my brain was prepared for it. We seemed to have a lot of additional "free time" at the end of this class where we could either draw out a sock design or swatch, but I personally would've rather heard Cookie teach some more. It seemed like she either ran out of material to discuss, or we didn't ask enough questions or something, but I was a bit disappointed the class wasn't as "jam-packed" as the first. Then again, my head was already spinning from the first class, so maybe that was a good thing.

Would I recommend Cookie's classes? Absolutely! Would I change anything about the classes ... well ... since you asked .... My personal opinion is that it would be nice to combine both classes into one full day class, or if not, maybe schedule them differently. I would've preferred that the Sock Design Overview class in the morning for 2.5 hours and then after an hour break for lunch, the Top-Down Sock Design class could be scheduled for 3.5 hours. It all still ends up being 6 hours total, but to me, it just makes more sense to have the overview class come first and the design class to follow.

It was a great experience and I now appreciate even more how brilliant of a sock designer Cookie is. I have a better understanding and appreciation for the patterns she charges money for and will not hesitate to purchase anything she designs because for what you get, the price is amazing. I sorted through all of her patterns for quite some time and finally settled on purchasing Twisted Flower and Thelonious, although I'm sure I'll be adding to my Cookie pattern collection a little bit at a time.

Meanwhile, since I'm waiting for a few skeins of Louet Gems to arrive at my doorstep to start one of the patterns I purchased, I think I'll attempt my own simple sock design and hopefully will be posting a successfully designed sock here soon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Camera? What Camera?

I'm obviously behind in writing about the class I took on Sunday from Cookie, but believe me, it's in process and I'm trying to write a decent enough review, that it's worth your time to read it. Bear with me ... it's coming.

First of all, thank you for being such a wonderful group of friends. I swear I have the best group of blogger friends in the entire world and I'm so thankful for each & every one of you for leaving me comments of support while I wait, and wait and wait on doctors to diagnose me correctly.

Exactly two months ago, I saw the first doctor about all my health problems, but after no diagnosis from him, and an incorrect diagnosis from the 2nd doctor, I finally have a diagnosis. This time I saw a WOMAN. Does this have something to do it? I'll let you be the judge of that.

I have the Epstein-Barr Virus because it could be chronic, but even if I get better now, if it returned again, it could signal a chronic condition as well, so to just be aware. Oh believe me, I'm definitely more aware now. Thankfully I don't have hypothyroidism (my (EBV), and if you know anything about mononucleosis, then you'll understand a bit of what I've been experiencing for awhile. She said my test results showed I've had it for about 4 months and that there's no treatment for it other than time. She told me that if my symptoms don't improve in another 2 months, then I need to see a rheumatologistTSH levels dropped from 3.68 to a normal 1.72) and she's not convinced I have fibromyalgia, but since I have been feeling better over the last week she presumes in the next 30 days I'll feel good enough to resume most normal activities. Of course had I known the diagnosis 2 months ago, it wouldn't have changed how I felt. Then again, knowing probably would've helped with the stress of it all.

Enough about my health, on to the good stuff!!

Yesterday my chronological age ticked forward another year. Since DH gave me what I wanted most for my birthday on Sunday (the sock classes from Cookie), he surprised me with a much needed and wanted pair of Bose ear-bud headphones for my iPod.

I was also treated to an absolutely perfect dinner at the Orange Hill Restaurant. If you click on the link it will show you the absolutely amazing views we saw last night, as well as their menus (I had Filet Oscar), but since I was carrying my evening bag, I failed to slip my small digital camera in there. No photos ... bad blogger! I learned my lesson though. I've placed a note in the container where I store my evening bags to remind myself to "take the digital camera".

I've been knitting here and there, but mainly I've been shopping. So far, all I've received are the beautiful skeins of ArtYarns Supermerino from, and the yarn is even prettier in person. Although I'm not sure what projects the yarn is destined for, right now I'm just happy with it sitting next to my computer.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Knitting for Nieces

I finished this cute little bag one day before my nieces birthday. Unfortunately I forgot to have her "pose" with her bag, but nonetheless, here it is:

Katelyn's Church Bag

Pattern: Rick Rack Purse by Susan Lawrence
Pattern Source: Knit Picks
Yarn: (2) skeins Lion Brand Lion Wool Solid in Dark Teal; (1) skein Lion Brand Lion Wool Prints in Ocean Blue
Needles: (2) Clover Takumi Bamboo 24" circular needles size 10 1/2 US

I've knit this pattern once before, but I appreciated the brilliance of it more the second time around. The knitted edge around the base of the bag is simple to do, but is ideal for adding a bit of extra stability to the base of the bag. There's also a section at the top of the bag where you add purl bumps that identify where to knit and attach the I-cord handles. The designer thought of everything. If you're looking for a great felted bag for either yourself or a young girl, I give this one a huge thumbs up!

I did a bit of stash enhancement the last few days. I placed an order with Knit Picks for needles and skeins of their new sock yarn, Felici, and Risata. I also lucked out on a closeout sale of Artyarns Supermerino at and then helped Lain with her de-stash by purchasing some sock yarn and and such too. I've been itching to also get some yarn at Blue Moon Fiber Arts, but I'm having a horrible time deciding between all the new colors they just released. Thankfully The Loopy Ewe hasn't updated recently (as of this writing), otherwise I'd really be broke!

And just in case you're wondering, the sock design classes I took from Cookie yesterday were absolutely wonderful, and I'll try to get a post written up in the next day or two.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Knitting mojo (here!) ...Blogging mojo (anyone, anyone?)

In the ever growing saga regarding my health, (skip this entire paragraph and save yourself the boredom), I saw a wonderful Endocrinologist last week and although I have all the symptoms and TSH levels that show hypothyroidism, she's running additional tests on my T3 and T4 levels to confirm. She's also running some other tests to rule out other diseases and such before committing to a fibromyalgia diagnosis. She thinks my last Dr was an idiot for not running additional tests to rule out positively everything else first. I definitely agree with her.

Mystery Stole 3 KAL is the most fun I've had in a LONG time and definitely helped me with my knitting mojo. I finished the first clue on Saturday and was semi-sad that I had knit it so quickly since that has left me with 5 days of no MS3 knitting. The only negative part to this KAL are all the yahoo digest messages that seem to be a complete waste of reading. As a matter of fact, it's only July 5th and there are already 1,400 messages that have been written. Who has the time to read all of that? In my opinion a lot of the messages are from people attempting to knit lace for the very first time ever, and they're clogging up the message system with whining about frogging for the 3rd & 4th time or asking for help since nothing makes sense, etc. Did these people not read the KAL description which states: "This year's stole is not recommended for beginning lace knitters, but if you are comfortable with lace techniques and reading charts, you should be just fine." I think not!

There will probably be no MS3 knitting on Sunday. I've signed up for two sock knitting / design classes taught by none other than Cookie A who designed sock patterns such as Pomatomus, Monkey, and Baudelaire, just to name a few. The classes are being taught at Unwind in Burbank, CA which is only about an hour from my home, so it's fairly close and in addition to finally meeting Cookie, I'm excited to meet other knitters who are as passionate about socks as I am.

In yarn collecting news, my next post should have photos of some new yarn. DH & I refinanced our home and since I made sure we took out some extra cash, I decided that I'm going to celebrate my birthday month by increasing my stash. DH said he was fine with that, but that's also because he knows I'm the penny pincher in the family and that I'd never purchase too much yarn. HA! We'll see about that!

In addition to the MS3 shawl, I've GOT to post my completed photos of the Handsome Shawl from Victorian Lace Today, the adorable felted bag I gave my niece last month, and the Feather & Fan socks I completed weeks ago. I'm also currently knitting Shedir and a pair of ankle socks for DH, but I'm pretty sure those will be on the back burner Friday morning when the MS3 clue is available. My blogging mojo is still missing though, so for those of you with access to Ravelry, you'll probably see photos of my completed items there first. By the way, my "name" on Ravelry is GuiltyPleasures. Sounds like a porn star name huh? Maybe I should change my blog name.. any recommendations?