Monday, November 26, 2007

Swap Goodies!!

I got this Nature Spun Sport yarn in my first SP 11 package and it was the same gauge for a pattern I saw for socks. I made these socks for a friend's boy that I will send with her Christmas Card. They are child size 2-4 years and he'll be 2 this January so I hope he gets a lot of use out of them :o)

I received my Hogwart's Scarf Kit Swap from Mary today! She sent some cool yarn, a nice tote that she made, Ravenclaw colored pom poms, needles, some Harry Potter Trading Cards, stitch markers in a case that'll be great for holding notions, and some Harry Potter themed pins. Thanks Mary!

I also received my last SP 11 package today (imagine my excitement when I saw three packages on my porch today - I ordered some xmas gifts and those came today too!). I opened the card first and saw it was from another party I took a photo of the stuff as received so my pal could see, it was nicely wrapped and packaged :o)

I received the most gorgeous sock yarn from Sunshine Yarns, which I actually have bookmarked for a future purchase, which means I really liked the yarn I saw to begin with, LOL!!! And also and an awesome needle roll in my favorite color.

Here's the inside of the needle roll, can't wait to put my needles in it, it will certainly come in handy and its so pretty too!
Thank you Secret Pal!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Movies, Mail and Socks ...

We went to the movies today to see Beowulf, it was really good. Since it was available in Digital 3D, that's what I opted for ... why not?!?! It was 1 hr and 53 minutes and other than my butt getting numb from sitting still for so long, I would have never known that much time went by because the cinematography was excellent and this new Digital 3D is captivating. The story was quite good and I am intrigued to look up the epic poem.

I scrapped the toe up socks and started cuff down ones. I had my coworker try the one I had completed on and I could tell that the gussett wasn't going to last long. I had trouble with it anyway and the stitches were loose, I have come to really dislike short row heels. I should have enough yarn left in the skein to complete a pair, but if not I always have the short row heel sock that I can rip and reuse.

Here's our Christmas tree! Its hard to photograph because of the windows in the background, but here it is all decked out. I didn't even have to do anything, LOL!! My boyfriend did it while I was at work. This is really more his thing though, he loves putting up the tree every year.

How on Earth does mail get this backed up in only a few weeks?!?! Honestly I went through the mail about 2 weeks ago and tossed all the junk only to end up with more in 2 weeks time. The junk we get every day is ridiculous. I really should make this a daily habit to deal with, but its so easy to just toss it onto the pile and deal with when I am looking for bills that need to be paid.

Sunday Stuff ...

Not much going on here with the holiday, pretty quiet, so here's some cool stuff I found on the net recently.

I am paitently waiting for Sweeny Todd to come out in theaters. Two of my favorites - Tim Burton and Johnny Depp!

Check out Chan's blog for a contest and list your favorite charity.

I am almost done the child size 2-4 yr socks! I am hoping to finish them this week for the November socks for the Sock-a-Month KAL. I haven't completed a pair yet to qualify, even though I have about 5 on different patterns on the needles at the moment!

I am about half way through the heel flap for the November Mystery Sock. The last clue was given out this past Thursday so I hope to finish this one up soon, then I will have to cast on for its mate.

I watched the Battlestar Galactica Special "Razor" last night which answered some questions and brought up some more. There was a commercial advertising the next season which starts in March and looked really exciting!

I got some more Christmas cards done yesterday. I have 12 complete that only need the back stamped with my "Stamped by" stamp. I stamped out 19 more images that I will need to bleach, cut out, etc. I wanted to have them all done by December 1st ... so if I have time today and then spend a good chunk of time next weekend I might be able to get them done. It helps that we put the tree up this weekend, that's motivation to get the cards done, LOL!!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Winter Wonderland Coffee Swap Topic #4

What is the ideal setting for enjoying the perfect cup of coffee? Who would be there - or would you be alone? Inside or out? Morning or night? With food or just the steaming cup of joe?

My favorite time to have coffee is Sat and Sunday morning (when I can actually sit and enjoy it). I usually get up, feed and let the dog out (while she's eating I start the coffee) then I sit with my mug in front of the computer browsing the internet with cartoons on in the background - usually Spongebob Squarepants ... yeah that's my mentality ... hey much better than depressing news!!

Now if I could I would prefer sitting on a porch with a mountain or ocean view with my boyfriend enjoying the scenery and wildlife ... but the only wildlife around here are my crazy and rude neighbors ... so only in my dreams do I get a real "ideal" cup!!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Cats and Christmas Trees

Cats love Christmas Trees, however, they do not appreciate a camera flash to the face, LOL!! Most of them won't look at the camera because of the flash or they make a nasty face because I am blinding them.

Each year we put the Christmas Tree up the day after Thanksgiving. We purchased a fake tree because of the cats, I thought they would be too enticed to climb a real one ... or try to climb it. Every time we bring the tree "guts" out they are fascinated by it.

They all come into the living room ... yeah like they weren't there with us already. They like to investigate the branches, run around, try and kill each other by ambush. Regular stuff.

The first year we got the tree Peanut (above) and Ollie (below) were so funny. They took turns hiding in the box and freaking the other one out by sticking their paws through the hand holds cut out of the box, it was so funny to watch. One would be in the box making scratching noises, so the other one would investigate and POW get wacked upside the head by the paw through the hole.

Nanuk is lazy and likes to just supervise :o) Either that or he is trying to figure out why the heck we are playing with a tree in the living room.

I ventured out on this Black Friday to do some shopping for my Winter Wonderland Coffee Swap Pal (stuff not pictured here - all I have left is to pick out some coffee) and I couldn't help myself since I had a coupon and gift certificate, so I picked up this stuff. I had my eye on the Interweave Knits Holiday Issue since there are some sock patterns and a nice fingerless glove pattern in there, also I found a nice hat pattern that goes for about $8.00 online to purchase, well its in this mag and the magazine costs $7.99 so I thought it worth it just for that.
I also picked up some Patons Classic Wool, I want to make myself a pair of house socks too. I'm not even sure if I need two skeins since I usually do not do cuffs as long as patterns suggest, so if I only need one then I will use the other one to make a pair of socks as a gift for someone.
And believe it or not, I had a skein of Sassy Stripes in my stash for about a year with no mate ... I found the same dye lot at the store where I bought it today ... so I couldn't pass that up!! Now I can make a pair of socks with it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Round and Round

I finally get it, LOL!! I was having trouble on this sock pattern ... most likely because its a mystery sock, so therefore without seeing that you are supposed to come up with, it makes it a little more difficult. Especially so when the pattern has several K2tog, SSK, and yarn overs up the whazoo!

November Mystery Sock, Sock Knitters Anonymous Group - Ravelry, Smooshy Sock Yarn in "Ruby River"

Above is what I had as of Sunday morning. I am not sure yet if I will do the 4 repeats for the leg or only 3 (photo shows 2 repeats). I will wait until I finish the third to decide.

Today I went to the movies with mom to see "Fred Claus" ... gotta love Vince Vaughn he is so hot! The movie was pretty funny and not too cheesy for the genre.

I am getting caught up on my taped shows. I am currently watching Pushing Daisies, Bionic Woman and Life on Wednesday nights. Since I was taking knitting classes on Wed nights I am way behind on these shows! I just caught up to 10/17 today.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cuffs, cuffs everywhere and not a single toe ...

Well one toe, LOL!! I am up to my eyeballs in socks at the moment! I have so many sock projects going because I just love socks! The yarn, the possibilities ... its endless! Here's what I am working on at the moment:

The November Mystery Sock for the Ravelry Group by Mona. This is the third time I have cast on this sock, but I am determined to do it! The first time I started on the recommended size 0 needles for the ribbing and the small size ... why I did this I am not sure. For all other garments I am a small ... but I wear a size 8 shoe ... duh that's not small. So after seeing how small the cuff was coming out I frogged it and went to the size medium ... still on size 0 though. After making a mistake or not (I am still not sure if I did make a mistake) but after frogging back and not being able to get the stitches back on the needles, it didn't matter if I had made a mistake or not.

So I had to start over yet again. This time I did on size 1 needles and with metal ones. There are a lot of K2tog and SSK and I am a tight knitter so I was getting worried when I saw my bamboo needles flexing and bending, LOL! I am on bamboo size 2 now and those feel comfortable. The gauge is 7.5 on the larger needles and I am usually more around 8 on size 2, so I am glad I moved up in size from 0, 1.5 to 1, 2 respectively. This is a terrible picture and doesn't do the pattern or yarn justice, but I will take a better one once I have more of the sock done.

Here's the one toe mentioned above! I finished one of the child 2-4 years sock. It came out really good and I really like the pattern. The pattern was in the Oct. 2007 issue of Knit 'N Style magazine. It did not call for this yarn, but I subsituted Nature Spun Sport 100% Wool since it had the same gauge and I had some in my stash! The pattern is on 4 DPNs but I am doing it on Magic Loop instead. I hope to have time to make a few more child sizes and adult for Christmas gifts.

Here's my Jaywalker sock that is actually starting to look like a Jaywalker! I really like this pattern, but these have been on the back burner since I have so many other socks going and some I want to finish as gifts. The yarn is Opal.

This is my first sock on two circulars and the yarn is Tofutsies. I really like this yarn, the color and texture is just fantastic. Its a little tricky if you split it on the needles, but it doesn't happen too much if you are paying attention well :o) These are also on the back burner due to all of the other socks I am working on at the moment.

Here is some yarn I picked up the other day to make house socks for my boyfriend. I thought this color was very "guy" like, LOL!! I am going to make him some socks on size 5 needles using Magic Loop. I have not used Patons Classic Wool for anything in the past, but it feels pretty good, comes in a range of colors and is affordable :o) So I will see how it works out for socks. I also thought this color would make excellent hunting socks for my good friend ... but um hunting season is NOW and he's out there NOW. Why do we think of presents at the TIME they are needed and not before, isn't that always the way?!?!

And these beauties are my "Bride of Frankenstein" tvyarn by White Oak Studios for Bellatrix socks. I so LOVE the green in this yarn, combined with the orange, black and purple it feels so Halloween to me and I love Halloween and the colors associated with it! I wanted to do Bellatrix socks, but just didn't know what colors to use and I think this yarn will fit that pattern perfectly!

And now on to my non knitting life :o) Today I caught up on movies ... that I have had since February and May ... OMG!! I just looked up the dates on my Netflix account. Yikes! Anyway, I watched Permanent Record with Keanu Reeves, a very old 80's movie. It was actually very good. I like Keanu, especially his older stuff and this one was good. I also watched Radio with Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Ed Harris and it was excellent! What a tear jerker ... for good feelings and sad. I loved it.

So all and all I had a good Saturday. It sure is chilly outside, I think the high was 37 degrees. It was nice and sunny though. I sat around the house in sweats all day watching movies and knitting in between. I have come to find that if I am not knitting, its a good movie, LOL!! If I start knitting ... well its a boring movie.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Winter Wonderland Coffee Swap Topic #3

The Thursday upcoming is Thanksgiving in the U.S., so let's all - American and not alike! - just share a post with what it is we're thankful for. A wonderful thing to do any time of year, I thought it'd be a nice thing to share for this week with the group!

I am thankful that I live with a wonderful man who puts up with me and my pets ... though he drives us crazy sometimes too, LOL!! I have a good job and really enjoy the people I work with. I have some wonderful fuzzy critters that make me smile every day. I am thankful that I can laugh at silly things that some people get upset by ... why waste the time getting mad?!?! I know there's a lot more, but that's what I can think of at the moment.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Regarding Socks and Methods (for Charity)

Socks on two circulars is a great method, especially since it automatically separates the instep and heel stitches easily since those are usually broken up in half in order to turn the heel, so half the stitches are already on each needle. I do have Cat Bordhi's Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles, but I have not used any of her patterns in there ... yet! I started one sock from the December 2007 Issue of Knit 'n Style, which I am not sure a beginner would want to start with since it has cables and twisted stitches :o)

Socks on two circulars is probably easier than on Double Pointed Needles since you are only working one needle set at a time and the yarn is joined in the round between the needles to produce a round piece at the end, just like any other sock. Cat Bordhi has several little videos on You Tube showing different techniques including Knitting On Two Circular Needles.

I also like Magic Loop, but from my experience I would think that 2 circs would be easier for someone that hasn't knit socks before. Especially since I have seen people in classes knit backwards on the wrong needle on this method, when you have two separate needles you are less likely to do that as long as you pay attention to which needle set you should be working from.

Here is a helpful tutorial on Knitting with Two Circular Needles. Here is another good tutorial for Socks on Two Circulars.

I learned to knit my first sock from a Knitty Gritty Episode entitled "Sock it to Me" the sock pattern and videos are on DIY. This is for DPNs, but it it with a thicker weight yarn so really easy for a beginner to pick up the techniqies. I DO NOT recommend starting socks with sock weight yarn, there are just too many things you are trying to learn at the same time, its much easier to work with and see stitches on thicker yarn and makes for much more fun!! Then of course you can move on to all the wonderful sock yarn there is out there!!

Now I am off to knit some of my socks :o)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Magic Loop I Love You!!

I have taken a few sock knitting classes and have read lots of material on the internet and have learned how to knit socks toe up, cuff down, on Double Pointed Needles, on Two Circular Needles and on One Circular Needle (aka Magic Loop). I have recently found that I really do like the Magic Loop method!

The baby sock below is the first sock that I got far enough on to turn the heel on the Magic Loop method, not having done it before, I did not know if it would be harder than on DPNs or what. I found it worked just fine and I knew exactly where I was in relation to the pattern that I had that was based on 3-DPNs.

The other thing I really like about Magic Loop is that all the places on DPNs where there were usually loose stitches are gone in this method, all of the portions of this sock are smooth and the stitches are equal and there are no gaps or loose spots.

I have been working on this Toe Up sock since October, I don't like working on it. My forearm muscles start to hurt shortly after I start working on this on Size 2, 5" DPNs. I transferred this sock today to the Magic Loop method and after only a few stitches could tell that I was not feeling the same discomfort. I thought it was the yarn because it is really fine (even for sock yarn) but I think it was the method combined with this really fine yarn. I have made other things on DPNs and have not had this problem. Either way I will be doing the second sock on Magic Loop!

These socks are for a co-worker and I really just want to be done with them so I can move on! I don't think I will be informing people in the future when I am making something for them, there's just too much pressure to get them done - self imposed of course, every time I see her at work I think of these socks! She purchased the yarn, so I really feel pressure to get them done asap!

Here's my silly boy in his hoop. This is supposed to be some sort of grooming thing, but he just likes to sit in it. One time my grandmother had one for her cat and her cat didn't like it, so she gave it to me. Oliver immediately claimed it as his "thing". Well this hoop was "used" so much that it fell apart on him. I found another in a mail order catalog and as you can see, it was worth it, LOL!!

I have been checking out my pal's blog for the Winter Wonderland Coffee Swap and think I have enough information to get stuff for a great package :o)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Yarny Goodness :o)

My Knit Picks order came today :o) Mind you I bought this stuff BEFORE my self imposed yarn diet :o) I ordered Palette in Sky - hopefully for socks that I am designing, we'll see how that goes. Then Essentials in Volcano Twist and Black and Palette in White for Buccaneers Booty Socks!

I also ordered Essentials in Carbon Twist because it looked so nice and I am happy with it now that I see it in person. I think I will be ordering more colors in twist once my yarn diet is under control :o) In addition I have been wanting to try CotLin, so I ordered a skein of that in Royal Plum. Then I got some Harmony Wood Needles in size 1 (2.5mm) 32" circular, size 5 DPN and the set of Cable Needles. I also ordered some mini stitch holders for the Charmed Knits Weasley Sweater Ornaments that I plan on making.

This Encore DK is for more Weasley Sweater Ornaments, I have shades of purple, brown and blue heather. I am hoping I can whip up several of these before the holidays. I completed one so far that I posted about here.

Today at the yarn store I picked up some size 5 Addi Turbo needles to make some socks for gifts. The sock pattern is in the October 2007 Issue of Knit 'N Style magazine. I started this light blue sock on the suggested DPNs but since this is a child size sock the DPNs were becoming cumbersome, so I wanted to try Magic Loop and am really happy that I did!! The sock is working up nicely now and is much easier to deal with. I also have some other colors to make some more children and adult socks as time permits. I really like this Nature Spun Wool, it comes in many colors and it nice to work with and its only $3.75 a skein!

I was originally going to try and get size 5 regular circulars at a chain craft store, but then thought better of it. Its worth spending the extra $10 or so for the Addi Turbo that are meant for this kind of thing. Regular circular needles do not have the flexibility in the cable and don't work well for this method.

This Patons Shetland Chunky is for a Hoodie Scarf in the 2006 Holiday issue of Knit Simple Magazine, the pattern called for another yarn, but this is the same gauge and its priced reasonably. This will be a gift for my mom.

After all of my crafty shopping my BF and I then went to Home Depot to get a tarp and some bricks to cover the section of the roof that is leaking for the winter. Its too cold out now to try and figure out where this repetitive leak is coming from now, we had fixed it last year or the year before, but its back again. So at least if we get the roof covered it should be OK through the winter. Yeesh!! Too bad I can't knit it to fix it, LOL!!!

I got something stamped up for Thanksgiving Cards today :o) Here's Tom Turkey!

Winter Wonderland Coffee Swap Topic #2

I love the holidays, it turning colder here, and I love coffee. As the cold of winter approaches, do you change the projects you work on? Do you work on gifts for others or do you continue working on projects for yourself? Can't wait to see all the replies. Nice meeting each and everyone of you.

I do change some of the projects I am working on, for example, I have really lost motivation to complete the Ribbon V-Neck Tank Top, LOL!! I tend to lean more towards seasonal items and gifts. This Christmas I am not planning to finish much, I am making a scarf for my mom which I picked up the yarn for today and I want to make Weasly Sweater Ornaments and socks for some people, time permitting.

I knit socks no matter what season, but in winter I tend to do more sweaters and afgahns, things that I don't want hanging over me while its how out :o)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Secret Pal Goodies Received :o)

I received a package from my Secret Pal when I got home today :o) It was PACKED FULL of stuff! Thank you Secret Pal, lots of great stuff!!

Here's a rundown of what was in the package: 3 skeins of an acrylic/wool/mohair blend yarn; 2 skeins of an acrylic/angora blend (which is so soft); 2 skeins Regia sock yarn; a sock sohe size conversion chart; 2 kinds of tea; a brew in cup (really cool, now I can get loose teas); an Autumn dish cloth; a copy of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off (which I can now take off my wish list :o); some mini handmade soaps and some candy!

And here's a photo of my boys from the other day. I was doing laundry and washing the bed sheets so the blankets were piled up there and I was folding clothes. I took a break to go on the computer and turned around to this ... notice they are only sitting on MY CLOTHES when they have the entire bed!!!

Well I am off to go read my new book :o) And then I will pop on over to Ravelry to find the next clue for the November Mystery Socks.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Swap Kit that I sent has been Received!!

I am so happy that my Hogwart's Sock/Scarf Kit Swap package arrived to its final destination yesterday! The Post Office charged me wrong and I was worried it was going to end up in another country (it was addressed properly, but I've never had that happen before).

And now I can post photos of what I made and sent!! I was holding off so that I wouldn't spoil the surprise!!

Here's a photo of the entire package that I sent to Lesley. We are in the 2nd Years group so we opted for a scarf kit this time around. I sent her two different brands of yarn, needles, stitch markers I made, a bookscarf, bag, soaps, candles, lip balm an not pictured here some chocolate!

Here is the bag, while I love how it came out and I'm sure she'll enjoy it, I don't think I'll be doing a pattern like this for a swap again. I did meet the deadline for mailing (and did so several days before), but it was getting worrisome whether or not I would finish this in time!!

Here's a close up of the cable pattern:

Here's a close up of the book scarf - from Charmed Knits, this is done in DMC Pearl thread on size 0 needles.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Another Weekend Gone ...

Another weekend gone by! They go by so quick!! I guess I will go backwards here, LOL!! Sunday I got a lot of stamping done, so I am happy about that. For my monthly stamp club our challenge was to take home a shaped card from a basket that was passed around and do something with it and bring it back to the November meeting. So here is my card. Its quite small, so there wasn't a lot of room for embellishment or stamping. The card is about 4" by 3" or so. The ribbon down the middle looks much better in person because its not squished as it is here in the scanner, LOL!

I got six more Christmas cards done today, whoo hoo! I want them all done by Dec. 1st so I can enjoy the holidays and not spend time making them so late. So far I have 12 done, they still need the verse stamped inside and the verse outside, but that's quick easy stuff.

I also got some knitting done this weekend. I worked on my Quidditch Sweater from Charmed Knits and have about 4" of the front done now ... this'll take a while to finish I am sure, LOL! Its not that slow going, its just that I knit several other things at the same time.

I added yet more sock yarn to my ever growing stash. There was another color of Tofutsies that I desperately wanted so I picked up that and I had some left over Koigu from another project so I picked up some matching solid sock yarn and think I will do a striping effect with the two and see how that comes out. Hard to see here, but the solid green matches perfectly to the green in the Koigu.

Wednesday I started a Weasley Sweater Ornament from Charmed Knits and I finished it on Saturday at the yarn store. This is for an exchange. This was a fun piece to knit, nice and quick, so total instant gratification!! I picked up some other colors to make these for gifts for various people.

Our Patriots won today! It was a close game, they were losing for most of it and came through in the end to beat the Colts. So at this time the Pats remain undefeated for the season!!!

At this point I am putting myself on a serious yarn diet! I am spending too much money and it'll take me literally a year to go through all this sock yarn!!
Here are the terms:
  1. I can only purchase yarn for gifts or swaps until January.
  2. I may purchase one skein of Artyarns Handpaint Merino once I finish the pair of socks I am knitting now.
  3. I may purchase the remaining yarn I need to complete the Quidditch Sweater I am knitting.

I have plenty of yarn in my stash, so I am really not depraving myself of knitting, LOL!!!

I cast on for the November Mystery Sock for the "Sock Knitters Anonymous" group on Ravelry. I also had cast on the October sock, but neglected to post that to the list on time, so I won't be eligible for that prize drawing, duh! This sock is coming out great so far, I am happy with it. I am using Smooshy from my stash in Ruby River. I hope the size is going to be OK, seems like a lot of stitches, but the gauge is many per inch and I knit tight so I think it'll work out OK. I was afraid going to the smaller size would result in a sock too small (I'm a size 8 which usually works out to Medium which I what I am doing for this).

And I am also on schedule for the Monthly Dishcloth Knit A Long, I always ended up missing out because by the time I had time to knit it I had already seen finished ones ... no mystery there, LOL!!!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

WW Coffee Swap Topic #1

When did you first start drinking coffee? What age were you? Was it about the caffeine, or do you love the taste and smell? Tell us how your passion began!

I started drinking coffee in high school (I must've been 15 or 16), all of us hung out at a Dunkin' Donuts that was open 24 hours (I think it still is, but I don't stand around in parking lots at 2am now that I'm in my late 20s, LOL). I used to drink it with extra cream and extra sugar, but I don't remember if they had flavored coffee back then. I think if I ordered xtra, xtra now I would be sick, LOL!! Too much sugar.

For whatever reason I usually get Hazelnut for hot coffee and French Vanilla for iced coffee.

I don't drink coffee so much for the caffeine, its really all about the taste and warmth. And of course the smell .... since there are so many yummy flavors out there!!

Friday, November 2, 2007


Last night we went to see "Rain - The Beatles Experience" and it was EXCELLENT! If you are a Beatles fan you should check out this site and see if they are coming to a venue near you. This band plays several songs from the Beatles over the years and they also dress like them and act in character while performing ... so it really is a Beatles Experience!

If you haven't tried Art Yarns Handpainted Stripes merino wool yarn, you are missing out! It is a little expensive per skein, but average for socks and you only need one skein ($22) so if you are a sock knitter you should try this!! The yarn is thick (worsted weight) so socks are done on size 5 needles. I am making a pair at the moment and the yarn is so soft and just glides right through my fingers.

My class for Charmed Knits ended this week :o( I did actually get a bit done during the class. I am making the Quidditch Sweater, which I did not intend to complete by the end of the three weeks. I did finish a book scarf and I am almost finished a sweater ornament. This class was a lot of fun, if there is another one I think I will sign up for it!

Tomorrow I think I will be going to the yarn store to get some knitting done and visit with the ladies.

While doing my usual perusing the internet for sock patterns and such I came across some great and informative sites. Cat Bordhi has some cool and informative videos on You Tube showing different techniques. One that I found of particular interest is Judy Becker's Magic Cast On for toe up socks. I have always been intimidated by the complexity of the figure 8 cast on, and this magic cast on seems to alleviate that problem. Its similar to the long tail cast on, but ends up similar to the figure 8 (end of toe). This method is also documented on and there's a pattern for socks using it too!