Monday, September 21, 2009

Cupcake Goes West

When you grow up in a military family, as I did, it's a fact of life that you're going to see more of the world before you're ten years old than many Americans do before they're fifty. Every three or four years, orders come through to pull up the tent stakes and head west, east, north, or south as dictated by the whims of Uncle Sam.

My sister and I saw even more than we might have, thanks to our parents' fondness for road trips. For example, when our orders were to leave Tucson, Arizona (Davis-Monthan Air Force Base) for Fairborn, Ohio (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) we made the trip in our Plymouth Scamp via a serpentine route that introduced me (aged five) to a number of firsts, including:
  • first encounter with a live chicken
  • first entrée composed chiefly of a creature to which I had been introduced
  • first swim in natural body of water
  • first contact with muddy bottom of stagnant pond
  • first admonishment for screaming like a girl
  • first ride on horseback
  • first fantasy involving cowboy boots
  • first plate of biscuits and gravy
  • first second helping of biscuits and gravy
  • first third helping of biscuits and gravy
  • first fishing trip
  • first attempt to get out of going on second fishing trip
And that was just Arkansas.

Over the years I wound up spending at least a few days in most parts of the country–but never the Pacific Northwest. I'm not sure why. It wasn't for lack of wanting to go. You hear such lovely things about the place. Ferns, coastline, fabulous cooking, yarn shops sprinkled thickly across the landscape.

Nancy at Renaissance YarnsIt was the yarn that finally drew me out there: two shops and one retreat simply stuffed with it. The first was Renaissance Yarns in Kent. Owner Nancy (she's the one on the left, without the goatee) welcomed me into her beautiful shop with immense cordiality for a book signing. The place filled up with merry knitters, who I am afraid may have been a touch disappointed to find I was unaccompanied. They were too polite to say so, but something about the sweet table suggested who the real attraction was.

Dolores in Frosting

As you know, it's not uncommon to see Dolores toasted; but it's rather unusual to find her baked.

The multi-talented confectionary artiste behind the cupcakes was Allison, who kindly posed for a souvenir portrait with the charming bibelot she'd created just to commemorate the occasion.

Allison at Renaissance Yarns

A closer look:

Dolores in Felt

The scary thing is that no matter where I put it, the eyes follow me around the room.

Renaissance Yarns was a terrific introduction to the Pacific Northwest, and set the tone for the rest of the trip. More about that in the next few entries.

Socked


I like to think of myself as a curious knitter, always interested in a new ways of doing things, but I have no illusions that this applies to my sock knitting. I learned cuff down, heel flap, Kitchener toe from dear Charlene Schurch and the only thing I'd ever done differently since was switch on occasion from four dpns to two circulars. Until now.

One of the goodies I got at the Men's Knitting Retreat was a pattern called "Oliver" by Marlowe Crawford, which had been created specially for a previous men's retreat. I confess that when I first saw it I thought, Oh, a sock pattern, yippee, and then I pulled out the next thing in the goody bag, which was a Della Q needle case, and I went all gooshy and forgot about the sock.

But when you hear ten guys out of thirty wax eloquent about a pattern and how it turns out the best-fitting sock they've ever met, and you know some of those guys have been around the block with quite a few socks, you can't help but take a second look.

So I cast on for it using Schaefer Yarns Heather in "Betty Friedan," and didn't get out of my chair for two days. I can't remember ever working through a project in such a froth. It was like racing to the climax of Anne Rice's The Witching Hour, except at the end of the sock I didn't want to knock on the author's front door and demand a personal apology.

Purple Sock

Instead, I want to send a thank-you note. This sock hugs my foot like Dolores cuddling up to a fresh bottle of Ketel One. Marlowe, you're a freaky genius. Whatever weird gears in your brain turned in synch to help you create this thing, I hope they keep spinning for a long, long time. More, please.

Notion of Note

I was helped immensely in knitting "Oliver" by yet another prize from the retreat, a set of clever stitch markers by Girl on the Rocks. These are made of wood, and smell very faintly of hickory smoke.

Stitch Markers

Since I can never seem to remember which side of the damned gusset is k2tog and which is ssk, these are going to settle permanently in my knitting bag.

77 comments:

Joe said...

So glad you got to make the Marlowe Crawford sock and see what all the kerfuffle was about.

Your colorway is delightful and I envy your Girl on the Rocks stitch markers.

Kim said...

Well, I just bought my first sock pattern in ages, you enabler you!

And it's really nice to see you back, dear!!

Musclemom said...

Not that Ketel One isn't a good vodka, but I always thought Dolores had more patrician tastes and put Grey Goose on top of her shopping list...

Toni said...

The markers remind me of Valentines candy (maybe they should be heart shaped?) B mine, k2tog, UR Cool, ssk, they're all love notes! I'm not a big fan of dangly or fancy hanging stitich markers, but those would be handy!

ten said...

What is it about the military and the Pacific Northwest? We finished up my husband's active duty career by swinging through the Pacific Northwest (on our way from Arizona to the East Coast) just because none of us had ever been there.

Those are some sweet stitch markers.

Excuse me while I go follow the link to that pattern...

nosenabllk said...

Mmm, delicious - all of it. Thanks!

Amanda Williams said...

It was great to see you at Renaissance. I have the promised photos. Let me know where to send them!

Marlowe said...

I'm overwhelmed by your kind words. Thank you so very much.

Aberdonian said...

Nice socks and I just love the Girl on the Rocks shop. The cupcakes look yummy.

floatingink said...

Now that's something I'd like to see: Franklin's knitting bag. One of these posts, would you give us a little tour of it? Pretty please?

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Franklin! It sounds like you are in high creative gear again, and I'm glad. Your blog, your sense of humor.....missed greatly when you are "under the bed", or off teaching.
Dee

Meredith said...

What a fantastic sock! I absolutely love the colorway, but then, I'm a sucker for purple.

Glad you had a good trip!

Kenneth said...

Those markers are brilliance in action!

SaraDenise said...

Another trick with the SSK & K2tog markers - after I do the SSK & K2tog, I flip them to the plain side. That reminds me that I don't need to do the decreases on the following row. Then when I do the 'plain' row, I flip them back to say "SSK" & "K2tog." (Hope this makes sense.)

Welcome back!

ccr in MA said...

That mini Dolores is stunning!

I must look into that sock pattern. I haven't been making socks for long, and getting them to fit well is one of my goals. Thanks for the mention!

WonderMike said...

How perfect that you used the "Betty Friedan" colorway for the Men's Retreat sock.

I actually have two sets of Girl on the Rocks stitch markers (laser cut bamboo & shrinky dink!!!). Karrie is a genius, as is Marlowe.

xo

JanKnitz said...

I always thought Doris was a little half baked!

(I'm sorry, I just couldn't resist!)

Glad you're back amo--from another military brat (we lived "overseas").

Nigel said...

You are on! Great post - loved the Dolores sculpture, although I hope you find an appropriate sized sleep mask for it so you can relax sometimes without the glaring eyes.

I think Marlowe needs to go on my needles tres soon. Like tonight or tomorrow - I've got two projects going but recently promised myself three so I had some variety. Glad I got the pattern at MFKR 2009, too, so I can cast on soon - and I have some very pretty yarn for it in my stash. Thanks for the update.

Nigel said...

Sorry - I guess I shouldn't jump in without checking for rocks. I'll be casting on for Oliver. You can relax, Marlowe, I'm not coming for you. Looking forward to knitting this great pattern.

FiberQat said...

Love the markers.

The weather promises to behave while you're here this coming weekend. Beautiful sunny weather; not blistering hot or pouring down rain. And the trees are starting to turn.

Jody said...

Missed you - so glad to see you back with your predictable excellence

Mel said...

I don't think I knew y'all had been at Davis-Monthan. My dad lived there twice during his youth. My grandfather was a scoutmaster one of his tenures there.

astoriaAnn said...

Ahh, convenient stitch markers indeed. Do you know my favorite trick for remembering which way the decreases lean? k2tog (knit two together, ie. marriage, ie. family values, therefore *right leaning*), ssk (Single, Sexy, Kinky, obviously *left leaning*)!

TheNobleKnitter said...

A smile still crosses my lips when I think about the evening that you read one of your essays out of your book It Itches!. Tonight, as I am reading your blog, I can imagine what if would be like if I was listening to this entry in your voice. I can only imagine what a podcast narrated by you would be like. Thanks for the memories, Franklin, and here's to many more!

Val said...

OMG - I literally threw that book at the wall when I was finished -- and haven't read another Anne Rice book since. And I really liked her stuff, too. *sniff*

Emm said...

Mahvelous! Love (978,446,378)

Word verification: decur
(Getting rid of an annoying dog???)

Holli said...

LOVE those stitch markers, since i join you in never remembering. Been looking for a sock for the men around here, just not crazy about knitting size 14 socks. I'm slow. Dolores looks wonderful in icing and wool. Glad you're back and that you had a great time in the NW.

Alwen said...

wheeeet-wheeeeoooo!

You've arrived as a sock knitter now! Look at you wearing purple socks.

Roxie said...

Yayy! Hope you can make it to the Flock and Fiber in Canby on Saturday. I'll be demonstrating how to weave paper baskets on the front lawn at noon.

Cathy R said...

Those are beautiful socks!

As for gusseting and remembering what to do when... On the (S)ide where you decrease at the (S)tart: you (SS)K. By default, the other side is K2tog at the end.

It has worked for me (works for toe decreases as well...)

Yvonne said...

I'll be bringing four very handsome young rams to show at Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival this weekend. Do you think that would be enough to entice Dolores?

wildgeese said...

So glad to "see" you again! I've missed ya on my daily blog browse. Nice sock (nice foot too, but maybe I won't go there)
Barb B.

jen said...

on a yarn diet but allowed the purchase of this pattern from your description of the socks. thank you for helping me find a loophole.

Phro5gg said...

Now I have a craving for biscuits and gravy! Every time we go to Ohio to visit family, I always insist on a stop at a Bob Evans restaurant for biscuits and gravy. If I lived back there I would turn into the blob.

Love the stitch markers too. That is such a great idea. I predict that her business will skyrocket thanks to your endorsement!

moiraeknittoo said...

I'm quite sad to realize I missed you while you were in my neck of the woods. But I'm glad you had a good time! And Dolores baked? Adorable, sweet, frothy and, um. I would say tasty but I have no personal experience with that.

ellen in indy said...

hmmm. dolores' campaign last year was half-baked. glad to see that the process has been completed!

and glad to see that the dog has been re-kenneled and your blog rekindled.

Seanna Lea said...

I love the stitch markers. Those would help me along too (though I just keep telling myself that the decreases are alphabetical... always do the k2tog followed by the ssk)!

Stickfantomen said...

Such a good lookin' sock, in a nice color too, wow!
Must try and get me the recipe on those Dolores-cupcakes.

Suzy said...

Nice cupcakes! Sorry I missed you in Spokane. I saw the seven socks at the sock summit, the easter yarmulke,bonnet confirms my first
impression. I asked him which pair he wore to his mental health specialist. Nice to have u back!!!

Calvin said...

Hey, Franklin. A couple of questions about the sock, please. Are they knit toe-up and does the pattern call for double points or circulars? Thanks for your help.

Deana said...

Fabulous to have you back!

I just sent the link for the needle case to the hubby. Birthday time is right around the corner! I also bookmarked the sock pattern.

Liz said...

My first car was a red Plymouth Scamp. How I loved that car.

And biscuits and gravy! I'm so craving this now!

Shelda said...

Thanks for causing me to buy yet another sock pattern! It's a freaking explosion of wonderfulness lately. And so neat that Marlowe took off from an earlier Elizabeth Zimmermann idea for this sock. It's like a whole new generation of genius.

I'm still giggling about Arkansas.

Sandy said...

Love the stitch markers and bought some for myself! Also queued the socks to make for my husband. I'm glad you had a good time :)

Jane said...

Gorgeous colourway and those stitch markers are an excellent idea.
Glad you loved the Pacific NW. I do too!

Keith said...

Lovely post Franklin. You definitely have the writing gift! Now I REALLY need to put "Oliver" higher on my queue; especially since I bought gobs of sock yarn on our fabulous field trip during the Men’s Fall Knitting Retreat. And a big duh to me on the better use of the stitch markers. I totally didn't get their multi-purpose. I simply saw them as very pretty markers and much nicer than the plastic ones I use. I'm using them on my Advast sweater for one side of my raglan decreases and wished I had another set for the other side (adding them and more DellaQ items to my very long wish list). I'll have to check to see if I inadvertently placed the markers at the actual spots for the ssk and k2tog.

BTW, I LOVED "The Witching Hour".

I hope you come back to the PNW soon.

evalyn said...

Those of us who live in the Great Pacific Northwest are always thrilled to have someone new discover our slice of paradise. Then we immediately start worrying about more people moving in and spoiling it for us. It's a double edged sword, I tell you, living in the most beautiful part of the planet. Thanks for visiting, appreciating, and sharing. To paraphrase Jimmy Dale Gilmore: "We love to see you coming, and we love to see you go."

Pamela said...

So glad to hear I wasn't the only one disappointed in the Witching Hour. Anne Rice is a wonderful author, but she goes off on these weird tangents.

Loved the statue of Dolores. Too cute, in a creepy sort of way.

Pamela said...

So glad to hear I wasn't the only one disappointed in the Witching Hour. Anne Rice is a wonderful author, but she goes off on these weird tangents.

Loved the statue of Dolores. Too cute, in a creepy sort of way.

Eileen said...

So good to see you back! AND Dolores. As you know, I think she's the berries (if she goes off on a toot in the state of Rhode Island, it's probably because I've invited her. Apologies in advance.).

Evelyn said...

I really like the ssk/k2tog markers! My make-do solution has been to use 2 tiny plastic circles on the k2tog side and 1 on the ssk side, since only k2tog has the word 2 in it. But the wooden ones are classier!

MaryjoO said...

have really missed your blogging, but it was worth the wait to get this post and the one above ... I would have fainted in the room with all the Addi turbos, for sure.

By the way, did they say if they are coming out with SMALL sizes for the "clicks" interchangeables LOL? And, do they have 2.25 needles? Must go cruise their website and cite your visit for some answers!

Marjorie said...

Franklin, thanks for the referral to the Marlowe Crawford sock! I've asked her a question about needle size/stitch number and hope it will work for me. I won't go above a 0 needle so I'm hoping the women's version needs just that. And I adore your colorway. Mmme!

Dora said...

Great post, but I gulped when I got to your Anne Rice reference. At the end of The Witching Hour I was so mad I wanted to call her on the phone and yell at her! Wow, I thought it was just me...

Lauren said...

Great post as usual, and welcome back (though points lost for causing me to eat into my future lack-of budget by making note of sock pattern and stitch markers - have been looking for some genuinely beautiful stitch markers for some time and these have it!).

Fabulous cupcakes, cupcake lady! I'm a big baker but that level of decoration is beyond me - that was a labour of love!

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