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First, I'd like to apologize for not commenting more on previous diaries. Over the past month I have been traveling a bit on weekends.

On the knitting front, I've been working mostly on the second socks of two different pairs of socks; one for winter and one is more summer.  I've also been working on a basic shawl.  Follow me below the orange swirl for more discussions and learning from my mistakes on the socks.

The winter sock I'm working on is with Noro yarn. Below is the first sock, which is finished

first sock of second set photo 2ndfirstsockforme_zps64ad43f8.jpg

Because of the thickness of the wool, it is definitely a winter sock. I have a basic sock pattern that I like.  I recommend that anyone who wants to do socks, start with a basic pattern.  I know for my ankle and foot, a 64 stitch round works well on 3 double pointed needles (16 - 32 - 16). For the Noro socks, since the yarn is thicker than usual, I should have reduced the stitch count a bit. They fit, but will fit better after a bit of shrinking. I'm working on the second sock of the set. For the length, I try them on.
 photo WAYWO003_zps1ebd3a52.jpg

When the foot section is just past the bone at the base of the big toe, I start the toe decrease. Again, it is pretty basic: knit to the last 3 stitches on needle 1, then knit 2 together, K1; needle 2, K1, SSK, knit to last 3 stitches then K2 TOG, K1; needle 3 K1, SSK, knit to end. Continue with the reduction until you have 10 stitches on needle 2 and 5 stitches on needles 1 and 3. Then it's time for the Kitchner stitch, which I do, but not well. McRonan has volunteered a chant that helps: "Knit, Slip, Purl; Purl, slip, knit".  It helps.

I'm also working on the second sock of summer pair. Basically a lighter weight sock yarn and anklet length.  Below is the first sock.

 photo WAYWO004_zps6ca64877.jpg

These were socks I tried without any pattern.  Two things I learned: 1) I need more rows between the cuff and beginning the heel flap (I had 8 rows) and 2) because this yarn was thinner than usual, I should have had more rows in the heel flap than the usual 31 rows. Neither of these mistakes makes the socks unwearable.  I probably should have searched for a pattern.  Sometimes though, you just want to try something.

I'm also working on a long rectangular shawl done in the Gull pattern. The Gull lace pattern is a 7 stitch, 4 row repeat pattern.  I find this type of shawl fairly easy to do. You get into a rhythm and there are a lot less mistakes.

 photo WAYWO005_zpsd30f28da.jpg

I am doing this in 4 different color sections -- 3 shades of green and 1 of cream which I am working on now.  I know the pic doesn't quite show this. For anyone who wants to try a shawl, this is a good beginning pattern. A description of the Gull lace pattern can be found in a wide variety of places in books and on the Internet.

I am also working on finishing up a short story where a cat helps a lost fairy find her way home. I will be putting all my speculative fiction short stories into an ebook to sell on Amazon and Barnes & Noble over the next month.

And retirement is now looming (happy dance, happy dance)!  I will retire Jan. 3, 2014.  I will be 64. I am not quite ready to settle down to doing just crafts, so I am arranging volunteer work.  

I will be doing some business strategy for a large NGO focused on reducing hunger worldwide and volunteering with my ex-boss who quit over a non-necessary downsizing. He is helping at risk youths in Chicago. As he put it: he is making 1/3 the salary he used to, but loves his job.

Today we put up peaches; last Wednesday I put up some apricots from a friend's tree that had a bumper crop. When we do the canning I prefer, in part due to back issues, to do it in smaller batches. We will do 3 rounds of canning peaches and then at least that many of pears.  We have our own pear trees, and it is REALLY a bumper year for them. We also do pasta sauce and apple sauce, so things get busy here from July to October.

 photo WAYWO006_zps349b481a.jpg

I hope everyone is doing well!  In the Midwest the temperatures are a little odd, being in the 60s at the end of July. Not bad weather for canning.

What is everyone else working on?

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