Monday, December 31, 2007

Changing Faces

Mostly, I just aspire to knit. Lately, I've been aspiring to knit a sweater from an actual pattern. Frogging ensued, of course. Every once in a while I aspire to color changes to keep up my own interest. A little creative meddling. Right now, I'm trying to blow just enough life into one of the rather drab blog template choices to lessen the blah. If it's a little garish around here at the mo', I apologize. (Watch out, I've been experimenting with new fonts as well.)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Addiction is My Addiction

I think I have a problem. A yarn problem.

The actual truth behind my inability to think about something other than yarn might be that I tend toward obsession. For example, when I was really into school (University), I went seven quarters in a row, took extra classes, and got perfect grades. I didn't do anything but go to school. I did work enough to pay the bills, so of course I self-destructed after a while.

I think knitting might be a bit different, as I have a family that means the world to me (good anchor), a job I actually like on occasion, and a better sense of who I am and what path I'm on. However, my approach doesn't seem to have altered much: I obsess about yarn or patterns when I'm not knitting, I spend lots of time knitting instead of things like dishes and laundry, and most of the people I'm making friends with here in Oregon are either knitters or knit bloggers. None of this is bad, but what happens when the obsession ends? Will I quit knitting the way I seldom pick up a book anymore? (I'm an English major. 'Nuff said.)

There is always the possibility that after four years, I may have outlasted the obsession and taken up a genuine vocation. What I could never accomplish before (maybe I was a little too interested in things like boys and parties) I can now achieve because...oh gosh, can it be true?...I've settled down a bit. Does that mean my 10 skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool will eventually become the Tangled Yoke Cardi? Possibly, although I refuse to give an actual cast-on date. A swatch is good start, I think.

Contrary to the appearance of this blog, I have been a knitting who-oor. I don't recall if I posted a list, but here's how things stand:

1. Blanket for in-laws, though half-knitted, has become blanket for brother and future sister-in-law.

2. Socks for spouse. Done. (Thank goodness he isn't a reader.)

3. Socks for BF: heels gussets in progress on Sock #2.

4. Sweater for nephew: knitting done, pattern turned out cute as heck, must sew up.

Etc: sweater/hat set for incoming niece needs final touches, shawl for Mom is on hold (will Pie R Square never be done?!), slipper socks for BF's Mom not even designed (whoops).

I guess commercialism will have to pick up where big-hearted ambition fell a little short. I knew there was a reason why my mental theme for Christmas this year was "Consumer Spending". Thanks to the State of Oregon for that lovely kicker.

Good night all. See you on Ravelry?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sleepless

About once a week, I lay in bed next to my fam and stare at the ceiling. I toss. I fidget. I try to get comfortable. And yet, I can't seem to nod off.

I guess there's a lot going on inside my head after dark. The things I don't get time to think about during the day, like larger financial matters, seem to erupt into a chorus of what if's and scenario processing once my child is safely asleep. Even after a nice and busy shift (in which I seem to be running non-stop) at work, I'm still overly awake.

Eventually, my stomach starts to growl and then I'm really hosed. I can't go to sleep hungry. Several years ago I worked graveyard and trying to convince my body to eat when it thought it was supposed to be asleep must've created a hang-up. A glass of milk and that would've resolved the issue back in the day. Thanks, lactose intolerance. Soymilk just isn't the same.

I know all those things I'm trying to figure out right before nodding off probably don't warrant all the energy it takes to get around them. I worry for worry's sake. House? Condo? Lawyer? Rent? House? Apartment? Beaverton? Vancouver? I'm the money-juggler in our house, which is all fine with me. But sometimes I get a little overwhelmed by the number of balls in the air. Choices have consequences, and so do market down-turns. How much risk do I take?

Honestly, I can't figure everything out on my own, and 2am isn't the time to do the figuring anyway. I'd rather this didn't continue, but I suppose I'll learn to live with it or trick it.

(Sorry for the extreme whine today. Low blood-sugar, as per usual.)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Canon Makes Great Toys



Toys for adults, that is. I'm borrowing my BF's mom's Canon Powershot S2 IS, and I'm way in over my head. I have to start experimenting somewhere, so why not with the socks in just finished for my mother's birthday present. Hurry, get those suckers in the mail!

Specs:
64 st Vanilla sock with reinforced heel.
2.75 mm Crystal Palace DPNs.
Dream in Color Smooshy bought here.

This yarn is heaven to knit up: quick, soft, fantastic color variation. The yardage is exceptional for the price and I have a ton left over to make myself a pair of green knee socks with purple cuffs, heels and toes. I'm thinking this colorway will go with my purple wonderfully.



Oh no! Mom is at again!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Arrrr

Tell me this isn't a darn cool tee shirt. You know you're a geek when your wardrobe consists mostly of comfy clothes, all black clothes with obscure band names, and entertainment-factor clothes .

Monday, October 29, 2007

When You Know You're Right

Sometimes, you hit the right note with someone and you get a busted hornent's nest in return. Although I can't say getting stung is enjoyable, at least I know I've begun to figure out a very sticky family trauma. I feel vindicated. I'm not crazy, there is more to the story. Well.

Sorry to be mysterious and dramatic just then, but hub is asleep and I'm coming off a bit of adrenaline and needed to digress.

More knitting content to come.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Yarn Is My Weakness

I know, join the club. (Gladly)

As I near the final ridges of the Pie Are Square shawl, the quest has begun to find a good border that won't take absolutely too long. EZ's laceweight version has a sawtooth border that doesn't look too hard, but I wanted to check with a few other sources first. I've flipped through all three of Nicky Epstein's edging books, as well as the Barbara Walker quartet. Honestly, the sawtooth might just be the easiest for someone with utterly minimal lace experience. It isn't the prospect of complicated knitting that deters me so much as getting to the end of knitting the border to find I've chosen something really mismatched or inappropriate. I'm on a schedule here, people.

Speaking of knitting deadlines, here's what I've unrealisitically planned for myself:

Mid-November: birthday socks for Mom. (currently doing gusset decreases on #1)

Christmas:
1. Pie Are Square for Mom.
2. Log Cabin in Patches for In-laws.
3. Socks for Hub.
4. Alpaca Lace for BF.
5. BBDR's fo my little sis.
6. Slipper socks for BF's mom.

There are also projects in the queue for February (new baby and her big bro), April (BF & my little Bro's wedding), May (Mother's Day & Hub's b-day). I'm not nuts. It's called ambition.

Meanwhile, I've been knitting vanilla socks for myself and surfing great yarn sales to avoid doing homework. This is driving me crazy, because for the low, low price of $95 I could do a very small sweater. I might just have to buy three skeins to get a small fix.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Lots To Do, Little To Discuss

One might think that after a full month without posting, I might have thought of something interesting to say. Sorry, no.

I took a little break in the first place because my wool order showed up to start a Log Cabin blanket for my in-laws' Christmas present. Since I'm also still working on the lace-weight Pie Are Square shawl, which is up to 600 stitches per row (!), I've had to try and concentrate my energy on those projects and not much else. Which means I joined Ravelry and put Millie and Duncan on Etsy, and promptly did nothing more with internet-related items.

The second I'm "not allowed" to knit anything else, I feel rebelious. Various socks seem to find their way into my project bag rather than blanket squares. By the way, Jaywalkers are really great little knit, but if you're a tight knitter the gauge is really vital. (It seems my Lorna's Laces in the Lakeview colorway is cursed.)

Of course, nothing could stop me from increasing my stash. In the last few weeks I've acquired more Dream In Color Smooshy, Jojoland Melody, Fly Designs Lacewing, Trekking XXL, something in the custom colorway for Twisted, some handspun sportweight, Schaefer Anne, and...I'm sure I've missed something. I could go on a yarn diet any time.

By all means, keep the patterns and design ideas coming as well. Have you seen Burridge yet? I finally came to the realization that I can't keep buying and bookmarking and downloading patterns because I can't possibly knit them all. So I got smart and started a schedule in Outlook in the Journal feature. That way, I won't get down to the two weeks before Mother's Day and realize I wanted to knit up a couple gifts but haven't given myself time or bought the materials. Hopefully, this little exercise will also prevent me from lining up too many big projects like Lizard Ridge and Burridge Lake Aran Afghan all at once.

As you might expect, the days leading up to Christmas will be very busy for retail folks, and where I work it's the rule and not the exception. I'll be working a ton, travelling a little and knitting during every spare second. Therefore, things are going to be sparse around here. I'm hoping to dedicate some internet time to our Etsy site before Xmas to get in a little retail action ourselves. Ravelry will have to wait until '08.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

*sigh*

Blogging hiatus. Just in time for my Ravelry invite.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

A-List

10 Things I Love About Yarn

1. Range of texture and size. I can't believe the talent in design and spinning out there, from Kureyon to Nashua solids to Araucania hand-dyed. The versatility of wool alone is enough to boggle the mind.

2. Heaters. I don't care what weight or project we're talking about, if I need something solid I want heaters before anything else because of the added depth and visual interest of minute color variation.

3. Sock yarn. Could there be anything cooler than a hand-knit pair of socks?

4. Renewability. Sheep can be raised humanely, fed organically, their fleece can be cleaned and then processed into yarn, and the sheep go right back to growing more hair. Try getting cotton to do that. And don't get me started on petroleum-based anything.

5. Infinite design capability. You imagine it, it can be done. No matter how cool or not cool, no matter what shapes, styles and colors are in vogue, there will always be yarn to knit and people coming up with new ways to knit it.

6. Stashing. I can buy it, hoarde it, buy more and forget what I've already purchased, and still come home to something fun and creatively inspiring. Heady retail therapy, that is.

7. It makes people want to communicate. Look at all of us, talking about a sheep (or other animal or plant) by-product with no end in sight. We're community-building, which I think is brilliant. For me, one of the most satisfying parts of knitting is having other people to share it with.

8. Sharing the love. I can knit up gifts for holidays and birthdays, or just because, and then I get to give it to whomever I intended. They may not "get it", but I know how much time and energy I put into whatever "it" is, which means a lot to me.

9. Yarn stores. The fumes alone are enough to make a person buy cashmere and then roll in it.

10. FO's. I am becoming much more interested in the process of knitting, or "the path", but I will always have a special place in my heart for a freshly sewn and/or blocked item. That feeling of accomplishment is really lovely.

PS I'm only 450 other knitters away from my Ravelry invite. Eek!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Getting My Zen On

A Heavy Load

Two traveling monks reaced a town where there was a young woman waiting to step out of her sedan chair. The rains had made deep puddles and she couldn't step across without spoiling her silken robes. She stood there, looking very cross and impatient. She was scolding her attendants. They had nowhere to place the packages they held for her, so they couldn't help her across the puddle.

The younger monk noticed the woman, said nothing, and walked by. The older monk quickly picked her up and put her on his back, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other side. She didn't thank the older monk, she just shoved him out of the way and departed.

As they continued on their way, the young monk was brooding and preoccupied. After several hours, uable to hold his silence, he spoke out. "That woman back there was very selfish and rude, but you picked her up on your back and carried her! Then she didn't even thank you!"

"I set the woman down hours ago," the older monk replied. "Why are you still carrying her?"

- excerpted from Zen Shorts by Jon Muth

As I drove to work today, I was verbally assaulted by a non-knitter that obviously didn't realize the sock in my right hand was only being worked on at long red lights. I was furious, mostly because I had to go through that whole adrenaline reaction thing one does when threatened. I didn't think about it at all while I was at work for three hours, but as I headed back to my car I began to contemplate how to handle the incident. I went through a series of steps:

1. Totally flaming pissed. Who did he think he was!? Darn hypocrite probably drives intoxicated, talks on his cell phone and drives, or picks his nose and scratches his balls instead of paying attention to the road. He certainly didn't have the traffic in front of him on his mind while he was screaming at me. I'm gonna rip out this guy's innards and post them on my blog.

2. Reflective. Maybe this man just had a really shit day and lost control of his filters. Maybe he forgot his meds this morning. Regardless, he's a muggle with no clue that it takes two hands to knit, and I don't exactly have a spare 3rd to drive with.

3. Not my job. This one took me a while to get to. The excerpt from above finally came back to me from a book I've been reading the little guy. No matter what this guy's issue, it isn't up to me to react, fix it, or get revenge. I plain old don't have to carry his anger.

There's a reason why zen is a life-long learning process.

* * *

For a while band-aids were a favorite of the little guy. Remember the three musketeers and their yellow forehead decos? Well, we've run out of them and so Little J has moved on to my panyliners. He has no idea where they actually belong, since I virtually never use them. Which means to him that they belong above the eyebrows as well.

* * *

Today was a yarn spree at Twisted! Loot:


Tofutsies in "Foot in the Door" colorway.


Kureyon in #40 for a Lizard Ridge-like scarf for a gift.


More Kureyon (#182) for Lizard Ridge blanket.


More sock yarn. Strawberry Fields Forever indeed.

While I was shopping and winding, I chatted with Shannon about various other things they were thinking of carrying and sock yarns we both liked knitting up. She's spoken with Claudia of Wollmeise and has found out that there may not be any more wholesaling of that yarn. Boohoo! I led her to Fly Designs Lacewing and Monarch, which I'm hoping they'll consider carrying. It was a great afternoon.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Number 100

The only reference to that title in this post will be this: Aspire To Knit has reached 100 posts. Amazing. I must be doing something right, because I still like it here.

I know this is sick, but I checked my Ravelry place-in-the-queue again, and now it's down to 1244. Oo, oo, oo. Sweet.

Knit night was really great tonight (yes, I know, but my husband said it was okay to go on our anniversary.) because there was a huge group, about half of which were new faces. We did a great little round of intros, so I finally got to learn a bunch of names. You don't get that when you're the only new face and everyone else knows each other. I also learned a bit about the shop and some of the folks that have been around since the beginning, and the more I know the better I feel about this little knitting community.

I also learned tonight that Blue Moon is going to have a booth at OFFF this year. I think that means I am required to go. As if elann.com weren't giving me enough budgetary problems already.

Today was also the day I learned what it means to be utterly bored with all the projects on needles. HIAH (say hee-ah) socks are driving me nuts because the yarn is not enjoyable to knit with. I started the second of a plain purple pair, made a few more rows on the laceweight Pie R Square shawl, tore out and redid the heel of the felted slippers. I think what I'd really like is to get a few more skeins of the new Kureyon colors from KB and work a few more Lizard Ridge squares. By now you're all as bored as I am.

Really, I should just nip off and get some sleep.

This Is Me Totally Crapping Out On A Title

Because I can. (And often do. I have Title-block.)

Casting on has never been so much fun. I happened on Knit One, Felt Too when we were at the library for the first time in a few months. There it was, just sitting on the shelf instead of some other knitter's hot little hand. This book, which has been on my wishlist for...a long time...has a fab little pattern for knitted slippers. The whole thing knits up like a huge, stripy sock, heel flap and all. I'm even going to do paired decreases and kitchener the toe.



I checked my place in the Ravelry queue - only 1300 to go!!!! That's down from about 4K when I first signed up. I'm getting very excited to see what all the fuss is about.

I discovered elann.com last night because one of the Knitsmiths posted about a pattern she was going to do for her baby girl. Eeek! First off, I'm going to do the Pinwheel sweater for myself. And if you scroll through their yarn you'll find they have a Denim yarn like Rowan's, but at half the cost. I could go on and on, but...I'm just curious, was I the only one who didn't know about that site?

I wonder if there's a place for yarn addicts to get rehab.

BTW, happy 3rd anniversary, honey!!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

PDX LYS Map!!!

Thanks to Judy, there is a map in existence for those of us with serious yarn acquisition tendencies here in Portland. Viola!

Bit By Bit

Somewhere in the dim recesses of memory is the day I learned to knit. There are impressions of scratchy wool, some of it deep ruby red and some of it dark emerald green. I can remember sitting in our dark garage because it was cool there, and looking over at my younger brother's scarf. I was shocked at finding it much longer than mine. At first I was annoyed, but as he progressed I began to inwardly cheer him on because I was excited to see how his scarf turned out. I'm not sure what happened to our projects, though I know I never finished mine.

In all the time since that day about twenty-some-odd years ago it hadn't occurred to me until I was stuck at home pregnant and had nothing else to do that knitting could be productive. The idea that it could be fun didn't occur to me until still more recently. As I blog, and try new patterns, and attempt new techniques, I find more and more to be excited about.

Why the navel-gazing?

Yesterday, in order to make Lizard Ridge an easier pattern, I taught myself to knit backwards. I just reasoned it out, and viola, I didn't have to bother with the linked tutorial from the pattern page.

Today, it finally occurred to me that I have 2.25 mm, 2.5 mm, and 2.75 mm needles. Why not have projects on them all at the same time instead of finishing one sock at a time?

In the process of learning to knit (english), then learning to knit another way (continental), and then another (backwards!), I've reinforced my own supposition that knitting is really a skill we aspire to and acquire knowledge about over time. If we organized knitting into a series of classes and called it a Knitting Degree (BA or BS?), it could take lifetimes to attain a mastery of the craft. Some of us do it casually, and some of us do it professionally, but all of us share in a craft with a beautifully rich history and a huge knowledge base.

That first blanket I made for Little J while he was still a tadpole (bless it's little acrylic soul) was all about getting a job done. As my desire to just knit, as opposed to finish something, has grown, so has my stash and my yearning for good fiber. Now I find I stockpile good sock yarn as if I were knitting for the Fourth Infantry Division. Can you imagine some stout soldier wearing turquoise, rose and brown self-striping socks? At the same time, I don't care how many socks are on needles along with shawls, sweaters, hats and blankets in progress, as long as I can knit a few rows on one of them each day.

This is my little ode to my own growth as a knitter. I'm still aspiring, but that has grown too. Who knows, maybe I'll test drive a spinning wheel before the snow flies, or order some undyed Louet and give hand-painting a try. I do know that for as long as I'm having fun and learing something new, you'll be hearing about it.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Finishing

(I kept thinking "finishing school", but how dorky is that?)



Lizard Ridge Ver. 1.0 block number one in color #182, as showcased by my sweet boy who adores getting his picture taken. Who also adores taking pictures:





As we were making pasta yesterday.

TMI Alert

Now, a toilet training story. I should preface this with the acknowledment that losing the diapers isn't something we've been pushing very hard. Hub and I aren't antsy to have another babe, so, as long as Little J isn't wearing diapers when he's forty, "who cares" is pretty much my philosophy.

Occasionally, (okay, after every bath), Little J gets to run around in the buff. One afternoon, I let it go on for a while because it was 90 degrees or so outside. Out of nowhere, the little guy tears off to the bathroom, and I hear banging around with the potty seat. I checked on him to find he'd flipped up the lid, seated himself and was using the facilities (sans mess!!!!!) all on his own.

For the last week or so, he spends most of the day nekkid, and runs off to use the toilet whenever he feels the urge. So far, not a single accident. He has started getting himself up on the big toilet without help. Needless to say, when this guy figures something out, he does it completely.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

I'm Your Sweety

After hand-making some pasta for the first time today, with my new Italian pasta roller deeply discounted from work, we were perusing the dessert section of one of my Italian cookbooks. Hub happened on something called Italian custard, an airy little soup of egg yolk, sugar and, mmmmm, alcohol. Explained below.

Braised Plums with Sweet Cream and Italian Custard

Custard:

4 egg yolks
4 tbsp caster sugar
5 tbsp dessert wine of choice

To make caster sugar, place 5 tbsp sugar in a food processor, turn on and walk away for about five minutes.

I chose an Austarlian Tokay for my dessert wine because it was something I had on hand. It has a wonderful nutty and toffee flavor that is perfect with fall fruits. Typically, any Botrytised dessert wine like Sauternes or Tokay, or something like a Late Harvest, Ice Wine, or Beerenauslese, will all work for this recipe. Cook with what you would also like to drink.

Heat a 4 qt sauce pan with 2 cups water to boiling. At the same time, combine the sugar and egg yolks in a bowl well suited to act as a double boiler and whip until pale yellow. Mix in wine. Place bowl over hot water and continue to whip until mixture is light and frothy and coats the back of a spoon thickly (about 6-8 mins). Remove from heat.

(Okay, here comes the part of my own invention.)

Braised Plums:

6 or 7 firm plums, pitted and quartered
1 tbsp butter
3 or 4 tbsp dessert wine
1/4 packed brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

Heat butter in a wide (preferably cast-iron) saute pan. Add plums when butter just begins to brown, cover. Saute for 5 minutes, stir, cover. Add a little water if things get to dry or crispy. (We're going for tender here.) Saute another 3 mins, add dessert wine, sugar and cinnamon. Stir until plums well coated, cover and reduce to medium low heat. When plums are desired consistency (according to taste) and sauce has begun to thicken, remove from heat.

Whip 1/4 cup heavy cream in a small bowl, adding any remaining caster sugar.

To serve, spoon plums into shallow bowl, followed by generous helping of custard, top with a spoonful of sweet cream.

This recipe might also be good with very tart apples (fresh from the orchard!) or firm peaches. Adjust wine flavor and cooking time to suit fruit choice.

Could serve 4 people, though we ate it all up between the two of us.

Control Issues

Found myself in Northwest Wools yesterday, looking for color #209 Kureyon. Got it. And another. And several others in the double digits that I haven't seen anywhere else. I had to pick just two colors. And this:

I completely lost my ability to say "no" the second I picked up this skein. The turquoise is a bit washed out, but I think you can still get the overall idea. Sock yarn, bien sur. Drool. (Webs has it. Although their color #301 looks silcherooney like my #301.)

Check out K.B. and scroll down a bit to the pics of the Customer Trunk Show. That chunky person in the purple tank (recognize the red/brown log cabin?) is me! Scary.



Been working on this.



And this. (Weird striping going on there.) Hell in a A Basket socks are very interesting to knit, but the yarn doesn't show the pattern very well. Shibui sock is beginning to remind me a bit of cotton.



And this as well. Do you think maybe I need more distractions?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Chronicles of Yarnia

(hey somebody actually named a blog that...wow)

Discovered: Woodland Woolworks is only an hour drive away. Road Trip!

Coveted: new colors of Kureyon being showed of by a fellow sock enthusiast and knit-nighter, purchased from a shop I wouldn't normally frequent. Currently contemplating when I can get down there and if I should bribe the kid with a trip to the toystore across the way.

Found: my Ergo carrier, which we've used since the little guy was a few months old and therefore has more sentimental value than I expected, at Twisted. I left it there after a little shopping spree and it took me a week to remember where the pack might be. Shannon and Emily, the lovely and kind owners, were very sweet about the whole business. And of course I acquired more sock yarn.



Mason-Dixon Baby Kimono WIP. Already working the second side and I've found a shop that sells Cotton Fleece (and Cotton Fine! Woot!) only a fifteen minute drive away, so I'm plotting my next move on altering the pattern for a jacket in size 6.



Do you think teaching myself to quilt will be as easy as teaching myself to knit was? I guess we're going to find out.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Status Pics

Gawd, I'm feeling so boring today. Just get a load of that awful title. Oh well.

Finally, the Log Cabin finished and blocking. I had to lay down towels on the kid's bed just to have enough space. And here we are, all dry and ready to ship:
Big Whoop. However, I felt this odd sense of accomplishment that doesn't come with a pair of socks or a hat. Like I actually made something that will be around a while. Interesting.
WTS is progressing as could be expected. I guess you actually have to knit on a project for it to get done. What have I been doing instead? Swatching:
First I tried Jaywalker, then I tried winging a basketweave. But Shibui sock yarn, in Peacock, is thicker (and rougher!) than I expected (must be the overtwist) so when casting onto 2.25 mm needles Jaywalker was way out of proportion even at the smallest size. Basketweave on the fly, with a reduced number of stitches, still didn't work. So I actually swatched for once. I still may go up to 2.5 mm dpn's and back down to 64 (instead of 72) stitches to take advantage of the yarn's thickness. Here's what I worked out so far to start this sock:

Hell In A Handbasket Socks

C/O 64[72] st to 2.5 mm (size 1.5 US) [2.25 mm (size 1 US)] needles. Divide evenly, aiming for multi's of eight per needle. Knit cuff in 2x2 rib for 1 inch. Begin leg pattern.

Row 1: Knit
Row 2: *p5, k3, repeat from * 7[8] more times
Row 3: Knit
Row 4: as row 2
Row 5: Knit
Row 6: as row 2
Row 7: Knit
Row 8: p1, *k3, p5, repeat from * 6[7] more times, k3, p4
Row 9: Knit
Row 10: as row 8
Row 11: Knit
Row 12: as row 8

Repeat rows 1 through 12 until desired length is reached.

------

Heel to come.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Smattering

Okay, pathetically, still no pics. I've actually got an excuse: more company. BF's mom is coming to visit on Friday, and I'm working my tail off to keep the house decent so I don't have to freak out on Friday. Freakin' Friday. Not for me.

So I shall direct my dears elsewhere for some good readin'.

First, this. Look in the sidebar and scroll down a bit. If you're already reading this, then you know what I'm talkin'bout. What a killer idea!

Second, back to Mason-Dixon for the football post. I could care less about the NFL, but I have a weird soft spot for football movies. Thusly, I add my own titles to the list: The Replacements, Varsity Blues, Radio, WaterBoy...(okay, maybe I'm getting a little cheesy here). Baseball movies effect me the same way, especially For Love of The Game. Wait, where was I going with this?...Nevermind.

Went to my LYS for a little entertainment and to check on a pattern. They just got in a whole bunch of Lang Jawoll sock yarn. Sweet!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Socks

(Do you think Hitchcock could've found a use for that title?)

A raging storm is coming in through the walls and windows. I open drawers and overturn things Looking For Something, but everywhere I turn, socks that to my knowledge have been bound off, are actually only partially done. The more socks I find, the more I panic. Hey, wait, isn't that the third b/g monster I've found?...

Whew! It was only a dream. But seriously, I couldn't figure out how all of a sudden all my finished socks had got so un-finished. Cruel, cruel subconscious. Thankfully, the kid woke me up to get a drink of water before things could get worse.

Something About Socks

I really shouldn't browse the internet on virtual yarn shopping trips. I get into trouble. I start to find ways of justifying buying things outside my budget. Like....

this

or

one of these.

And get a load of this place. Do they know how unfair that is to sell all that fabulous yarn in one place?

Then I stumbled on this over here for a really good price and suddenly I was envisioning a black sock with Fair Isle-type patterning with the Rainbow skein.

Needless to say, Cashmere doesn't tempt me, and sweater projects sound like fun but don't thrill me the way this and this and these do. This year for Christmas, I plan to knit quite a few pair of socks as gifts, and I hope that I will receive ample opportunity to buy more sock yarn.

(I should note that I have been addicted to drugs before, well, nicotine, so I'm beginning to wonder if there isn't a grand conspiracy going on to lace all sock yarn with something potent and highly habit-forming.)

Monday, August 20, 2007

No, It Isn't A Myth...

...finishitis is real. If you've been reading here, or here, you know what I mean. Is it fall coming closer by the minute having the opposite effect of spring? I don't know the answer, but I know it's either contagious or spontaneous.

Though I've acquired numbers 154, 102 and 40 in Kureyon for Lizard Ridge, some Dream In Color Smooshy, and three more skeins of Baby Ull for a "quad sock" brainstorm project in the last week, I haven't been casting on.

Instead, I finished that beasty Log Cabin blanket over the space of a couple days. I tore out the applied I-cord edge (that "I" really does stand for idiot, though not in the way EZ intended) and whipped up a simple and fast (i.e. perfect) single crochet border. The blanket softened way up with Eucalan, and now its all dry and waiting to be sent. Pictures to follow in future post.

I also pulled out a striped baby hat I knit up over a year ago and sewed in all the ends. Now to find someone to give it to. Suggestions?

Then I unearthed a wacky sweater I don't think ever got posted about made out of some awful acrylic and wool blend in colors I would never, ever pick for myself. (What else does one do with 1500 yds of handn-me-down yarn but self-teach?) I had originally thought to slog my way through a sweater with some basic knowledge and see what I learned. But now that I've finished the body and I can't imagine myself wearing the silly thing, I don't know if I should continue. At this point I don't think I can just hand it off to Goodwill - who would buy the half-baked thing with extra skeins in tow? I could whip up the sleeves then send it to a shelter. What would all of you do?

With all that under my belt in a few short days, I decided I needed to start a new pair of socks for an upcoming birthday. More to come on that. I've also managed past the heel on the first WTS. Specs:

WTS Men's Sock, Part Deux

At the beginning of the next round, assuming you've got the leg length you want, knit the first stitch of the first needle onto needle three. Now you're ready to fashion your heel flap.

Heel

Row 1: K across 32 st. Turn.
Row 2: K2, p28, K2
Row 3: K2, *sl1, K1, repeat from * until 2 st remain, K2

Repeat rows 2 & 3 until your heel flap is 31 rows long, including row 1, which should mean ending with a RS row. Begin turning.

Row 1(ws): K2, p15, p2tog, p1, turn.
Row 2(rs): sl1, K3, K2tog, K1, turn.

Continue in this fashion until all heel stitches have been incorporated, ending on a right side row.
Gusset/Instep

I found on the Pig Tail Socks that picking up along a garter ridge on a heel flap looked nicer and was actually easier than slipped stitches, so I've continued that in this pattern.

Taking a spare needle, pick up 16 stitches (one for each ridge), then knit across with the heel flap needle. Continue across the top of the foot in this way:

Foot Pattern

Row 1: K1, *p1, K1, p1, K1, p2, K2 (K1 on final repeat), repeat from * three more times.
Row 2: K1, *p2, K1, p1, K1, p1, K2 (K1 on final repeat), repeat from * three more times.

Of course, you will need to adjust which row you start with based on where you ended the leg to keep the seed stitch pattern.

Then, pick up the other gusset ridges (hopefully sixteen in all), knit across and knit ten stitches from the heel flap. As you knit around the instep and gusset, reduce one stitch every other row at the beginning of each gusset. On needle one that would be a K2tog, on needle three a sl1, K1, psso. Continue in foot pattern as well.

When I get to the toe, my plan is to do a standard paired decrease every other row over stockinette and then Kitchener it shut once I reach 16.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Chatty with Charlie

Scene: Bedtime.

Mom attempts to read A.A. Milne to toddler. Toddler reads his own version, following words with finger.

Page reads, according to toddler: Feefee dollars, feefee dollars, feefee an' dollars. Kissor Robin. Mango po'sicle. Eat it all up. Bees, bees. Buzz, buzz, everywhere.

(What context did my child learn the phrase "fifty dollars" from?)

---------
The Lizard Ridge Sq1 is zippity-doo-dahing right along. I have some fun money coming, originally intended for E.L. Silky Wool in a color now unavailable, and I'm trying really hard not to plan out a jaunt around town to all the stores I know have Kureyon in order to pick out my next few squares. So many projects, so little self control.

And the leg of WTS #1 is 6.5 inches. Heel shortly, folks.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

It's All About Aquisition



You know you have startitis when....

- you go looking at colors of a sale yarn at your LYS without a pattern in mind, but quickly find a suitable project for said sale yarn.
- you leave the LYS with Kureyon for this.
- you immediately abandon the sock you've been slogging in order to start one of the above.



(I have actually finished that dark grey pair of socks for hub. I do accomplish things now and then.)

I thought I'd make the second pair of Baby Ull grey socks more interesting to knit, so I threw in some seed stitch panels. Way Too Slow. Thus, these will be the WTS socks. Here's the quick rundown if you're crazy like me:

WTS Men's Socks, Part Un

Needles: Size 2, four or five
Yarn: Dale of Norway Baby Ull ('cause it's bigger and smooshier than most sock yarns)

Cast 65 st onto 2 needles, then divide evenly and join. I tend toward the k2tog joins, which means you're knitting 64 st. Rib 2x2 for 1.5 to 2 inches. Knit leg pattern for 7 to 8 inches.

Leg pattern
Row 1: *K2, p1, K1, p1, K1, p2, repeat from * 7 more times.
Row 2: *K2, p2, K1, p1, K1, p1, repeat from * 7 more times.

(Okay, so that's only the first half of the pattern. Stick around, and I'll post the rest when I get to it. Any suggestions on which heel to use?)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

BTT: Multiples

Booking Through Thursday this week asks:

Do you have multiple copies of any of your books?
If so, why? Absent-mindedness? You love them that much? First Editions for the shelf, but paperbacks to read?


Well, yeah. Anyone who has taken Shakespeare at the University level knows what a nightmare juggling the Norton Shakespeare alongside other textbooks can be. In addition to the collected works I have quite a few plays as small paperbacks for portability.

There were quite a few books both my husband and I had, including four copies total of Neil Gaiman's American Gods. A few we've kept for sentimental reasons, but most have either been donated or (once they were discovered) sold back to Powell's.

Let's not rule out total lack of brain functionality as well. I can think of several leather-bound collections that I later bought paperback individuals out of sheer collection lust. And three of those American Gods? Bought by me at three different used bookstores, thinking I was getting a really good deal on a book.

I think the observation can be made that even if one accidentally collects the same yarn over and over, at least there would stil be a use for it.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Hacker



My computer has been hijacked by a 15-year-old! I say that laughingly, because I really don't care, although having my step-daughter here sure has cut way back on the number of times a day I check email. And blogging? Well.

I have been doing actual knitting, though. I've finished another BBDR, a silk/alpaca baby hat in the most wonderful ruby red (yarn here), the second Pig Tail sock for my mother, and yesterday I whipped out the first of a pair of dark grey heathered socks for the hubba (seen partially above).

Things I have not done: housework and finishing the border on the red/brown log cabin blanket.

Is it avoidance? Procrastination? Utter dislike for the project? Try all three.

I was perfectly happy to make a ridiculously large blanket in garter stitch. Boredome? Not an obstacle when I have a deadline. I've dealt with worse (like reading Ulysesses for university, ugh), but nothing could've prepared me for my lack enthusiasm for the border. I tried a simple cro-Kay (as in Mason-Dixon), but it looked rather bad. I tried applied I-cord in about three different ways. I finally went with I-cord, and got through the first side before I realized I needed to go up at least one needle size, if not two. Now I'm nearly finished with side number two and have stalled out because I can't make up my mind about frogging it or barrelling through.

So, if there are any of you left reading, send me some motivational vibes. I need to get this blanket in the mail already.

Monday, July 30, 2007

That Hollow Whistling Sound

...isn't the same as a ghost town, but nearly.

1. Work three days prior to leaving for wedding. Also, pack, clean, entertain two-year-old.

2. Two days of driving and wedding and related events.

3. Two days of driving and visiting with family.

4. Three days of sick, fevered two-year-old, whilst unpacking.

5. Three days of calling in sick to work because son's flu was highly communicable. Drat.

You, I'm sure, can figure out what all that adds up to? No blogging, for a start. And rarely a knit or purl, either. I have barely been off the couch all weekend and now hub is home sick as well. We're a sight. The kid is about to lose his marbles, he's so bored.

I'm feeling a bit sorry for me as well, because now that I'm better I have to get ready for my step-daughter to come on Weds. Oi.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Deathly Hallows

**I'm not going to spoil the book, no worries.**

After threes days in which knitting, housework, blogging, and probably parenting and marriage, didn't get any attention, I've finished The Book.

My take? Rowling is utterly, totally, and freakishly, brilliant.

It took me longer to finish the last six chapters or so because I could hardly stop crying. My son is a saint, and his reward is unfettered color crayon access to the dust jacket. He's making a fantastic memorial as we speak.

One last obsessive's note: Neville Longbottom is my absolute hero.

Now, we return to our regularly scheduled fuzz.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Hallooo From Seattle

I don't know what happened, but one moment is was nice and sunny, then next it was pouring down rain. Oh wait, I know - we crossed the Oregon/Washington border. That must be it.

The wedding that I was a participant in went off without a hitch. They picked a fabulous setting, and even though the entire day was overcast and it rained somewhere between misty sprinkle and full downpour 90% of the day, we squeezed the ceremony and photography into the sliver of time that wasn't totally wet and squishy outside. They made a gorgeous couple, the groom's kids were amazingly poised and polite (not saying 'bout anyone elses'), the food was fantastic, and it was a small enough event that everyone got to mingle and chat. It was quite beautiful, and I cried a bunch.

In the whirlwind scheduling before the wedding, hub and I actually ran a few errands, including the birthday kilt. So when we get back - full scale kilt/hose pics! Yay!

Also, more narn. (That's yarn, for the uninitiated.) If you knit socks at all, you really have to check out the sale here. Although these folks sell primarily over the Internet, they open to regular locals a couple days a week. I went in because I wanted to check colors before ordering, and walked out with enough yarn for four more pair of socks and some extra yardage of a luxury DK I'd previously bought from them, and all without breaking the bank. By the way, if anyone has experience with Schaefer Anne, I'm dieing of curiosity so please share. (I also fondled about four different lace yarns that really shouldn't be legal within a certain range of my pocketbook.)

Today, we just took it easy with my BF and her son, played on the beach and watched Happy Feet. Tomorrow, we cruise on home, with quick stops in Sea-town for breakfast with the departing newlyweds, a playground stop to see Nana and cousin, and hopefully a swift jaunt to pick up some Cotton Fleece in the UDist.

Cheers!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Chocolate and Narn

First, what I made last night that changed my outlook for the better:

Hot Cocoa

2 heaping tbsp (really exceptional, like Valrhona) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 c milk
1/2 c half 'n' half (sub more milk if you want)
3 tbsp sugar (raw is better, more flavor)

Combine last three ingredients and heat using microwave or stovetop until steaming but not anywhere near boiling. Place cocoa in a 4 c measure or mixing bowl and add the milk a little at a time. Form a nice chocolatey paste, then slowly mix in the rest of the milk. Enjoy.

If you prefer dark chocolate over more diluted forms (hey, there's me being uber-judgmental) then this is your cup of cocoa. I swear, the $10 cocoa was totally worth it.

As for knitting:

The blanket is way too large to transport these days, so I've been working on the second Pig Tail Sock at work and in the car. The blanket is on the second-to-last strip. I'm going to try and finish the strips today, and the border in the car on the way to Seattle. I don't think it's going to get washed before I wrap it up, though. Whoops.

These folks are having another great yarn sale, and since I'm going to be in the neighborhood I think I might stop in and get more of the same I ordered before. While I'm there, I might as well stock up on this too.

And later....

This might be my last post over the next five or six days. I'll be taking the laptop to Seattle, but we're going to be busy enough that Wi-Fi hotspots or not, I won't have time to check in. Everyone have a great weekend!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What An Idiot

I just got word from the utterly internet savvy hubbo that some total moron has leaked Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I can't say exactly why, but I'm simmering in anger about it. Fortunately, Leaky will go down in history as the jerk who spoiled it first, and then as the guy who did time for something really, really stupid. Even the guys in prison will think he's a pathetic wank.

Monday, July 16, 2007

We'll Worry Later

I tend toward a view of the larger picture, which I think is really just code for not being able to shut of my brain and run through all my mental lists of things we have going on and that need to get done. But for right now, I'm getting some 'puter time while the kid sleeps in.

Incidentally, today he's slept through the garbage pick up and the idiot blowing off the sidewalks with an over-sized blow dryer.

As for knitting, I've avoided the blanket all weekend in favor of swatching and casting on for Auburn Mist which will be blue and made out of Alpaca instead of Angora. So let's call it Blue Fog. If the swatch is any indicator, this sweater is going to be crazy soft, stretchy (smaller size, fewer stitches, whoohoo!), and unbelievably pretty. How's that for the planets aligning.

I've actually got 'round to reading other folks' blog posts, posting a few comments, and sifting through my email inbox. Now, if I could just figure out some breakfast that didn't involve turning on the stove or really doing any work at all. Maybe if I can use the force....

Nope. Still hungry, no food. Time to get off my keister. (There's no spell check for that. Sorry.)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Pick Me! Pick Me! Oh, Pick Me!

Before my eyes get too blurry to type and before my Friday ends and I have to face a five-day work-pack-clean fest, I wanted to share a quick tidbit about a recent attack of providence.

I'm working on a laceweight Pie Are Square shawl (because I am stupid and a masochist), and between that, three sock projects, a hat, and, yes, the crazy garter stitch blanket, things are going at a snail's pace. Lucky me, the shawl is for a Christmas present and therefore needs only a couple rows a week. When I ordered the yarn for it, I also bought enough Alpaca (seen here) to knit a second in blue. Yesterday, it hit me that I was off my nut. No second shawls for me, thanks.

Today, I found what I would use the yarn for instead. There I was, innocently flipping through a knitting magazine at Powell's while my little guy unloaded a nearby shelf to build a tidy stack Ghost Buster-style, when suddenly a pattern reached out and grabbed me. It's called Auburn Mist (pg. 36) (open that link at your own risk - totally wacky "video" tour of the mag) and you can find it in the Summer '07 issue of Knitter's. I know I'm nutty to cast on a swatch for a laceweight sweater on size 2 needles. But...but...Yeah, as in way over the edge.

Does anyone else think hand-winding 400 yards of yarn is a pain in the rear? Goodness, I need a ball winder.

Friday, July 13, 2007

BTT: Celluloid

Okay, I'm late again. I blame it on the nasty weather.

BTT asks:

1. In your opinion, what is the best translation of a book to a movie?
2. The worst?
3. Had you read the book before seeing the movie, and did that make a difference?


#3 first: I can think of very few examples where the movie was actually better than the book. But then, I'm really a book person first.

Okay, #1. Guess what I saw yesterday? Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Guess what? The fact that we're getting a set of seven books AND seven exceptional movies (okay, the 4th has holes) out of this series makes it a wunderkind extraordinaire.

I might pass on #2. What a downer.

I might also answer that the LOTR series was exceptional in response to #1, except that I haven't read the books.

Hottish

To date, the only thing I really miss about North Carolina is the nice big house we had with air conditioning on hot days like the ones we've had this week. Good grief, 102? That can't be healthy. My hub says my computer could crash if I use it too much in that heat. Yikes!

As you might guess, knitting a 50" wool blanket in this weather has been really un-fun. Actually, itchy and hot are two words that might better describe it. But it's a wedding gift, and the wedding is a week from today. Thankfully, I only have to finish 2.5 strips and the border. Here's a photo from a couple days ago, with a sock for scale:

I think that pretty much covers my week. Hey, if y'all decide to knit up that sock pattern I posted, please send me a pic. Also, let me know about any screw-ups in the pattern.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Sometimes, I Even Get Things Done

It has been implied, by the author, no less, that this is a knitting blog. So occasionally, one expects among the stories about what the munchkin is up to and that fun little Thursday book diversion there might be posts whose content seems to have something to do with what projects are being worked on. However, no such content has been posted since June.

Ha. That's what we get for forming expectations.

Here you have it, dearies, real knitting! I've been working on the red/brown log cabin blanket (round 8 of 9 - woot), but I needed to be working on a project that could break up the monotony of garter stitch. My mom has been on me about making her a pair of socks, so when she last visited I took her to my new favorite LYS and she picked Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Purple Club. I designed a pattern that might keep my attention longer than a simple rib.

Here are the particulars:

Pig Tail Socks
Cast on 80 st to size 1 needles (a set of five is handy), divide and join w/o twisting.
Knit in 2x2 rib for 1.5 inches.
Work first two rounds in K6, p2 repeated 10 times.
Knit the rest of the leg as such:

Leg Pattern
Row 1: ^FC4, K2, p2, *K6, p2*, * is repeated 3 more times^, ^ is repeated once more.
Row 2 & 3: K6, p2 repeated 10 times total.
Row 4: ^K2, BC4, p2, *K6, p2* * is repeated 3 more times^, ^ is repeated once more.
Row 5 & 6: repeat rows 2 & 3.

Continue leg pattern until desired length (approx. 6 inches).
End leg repeats at row 4.
Knit in leg pattern across 23 st on one needle.
Now for turning the heel.

Heel Pattern
Row 1: Slip 1, K14, p2, K6, p2, K15
Row 2: Slip 1, K4, p10, K2, p6, K2, p10, K5
Row 3: Slip 1, K14, p2, FC4(knit), K2, p2, K15
Row 4: Slip 1, K4, p10, K2, p6, K2, p10, K5
Row 5: Slip 1, K14, p2, K6, p2, K15
Row 6: Slip 1, K4, p10, K2, BC4(purl), p2, K2, p10, K5

Repeat heel pattern for 36 rows, ending on ws row.
Slip one stitch, purl across 22 st, p2tog, p1. Turn.
Slip one st, K6, K2tog, K1. Turn.
S1, purl until one st left on needle, p2tog, p1. Turn.
S1, knit until one st left on needle, K2tog, K1. Turn.
Repeat heel turns until all stitches have been knit onto one needle, purling on ws and knitting on RS.
Divide heel stitches evenly onto two needles.
Pick up (what should be) 18 stitches along heel flap, then knit along the flap.
Top of instep (40 st) knit in rib pattern: p1, *K6, p2*, * repeated 3 more times, K6, p1.
Pick up 18 more stitches on heel flap, knit across picked up stitches and half the heel stitches.
At this point there should 3 needles: 1 for the top instep (#1) and two for the heel/gusset (#2 & #3).
Knit across needle #2.

Instep Pattern
Row 1: p1, *K6, p2*, * repeated 3 more times, K6, p1.
Row 2: p1, * repeated twice, FC4, K2, p2, * once more, K6, p1.
Row 3 & 4: same as row 1.
Row 5: p1, * repeated twice, K2, BC4, p2, * once more, K6, p1.
Row 6: same as Row 1.

Knit needle #1 according to Instep Pattern, then knit across needle #3.
Begin gusset redux: knit to last three st of needle #2, K2tog, K1.
Do needle #1, then (needle #3) K1, slip one knitwise, K1, and passed slipped stitch over.
Continue gussets and instep until 80 st remain.
Knit all st across needles #2 & #3 and continue to follow instep pattern across #1 until sock reaches desired length.

All toe st are knit.
Begin at end of #2, last 3 st are K2tog, K1; #2 K1, S1, K1, PSSO, K until 3 st left, K2tog, K1; #3 S1, K1, PSSO, K to end.
Knit w/o reducing every other row.
Reduce toe st until 7 st each on #2 & #3, and 14 st on #1 (or until toe reaches desired length).
Weave toe st using Kitchener stitch.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Extremely Very Twisted

...and utterly cool. I took my son and I down to the newest addition to Portland's fuzz pusher cadre, Twisted. Ahhhhhh.

By the owner's own claim, their thing is sock yarn. We talked about MerLin by Louet, and she (oh, I'm so stupid I didn't get the owner's name) showed me a sample she was knitting toe-up. I'm sure they're going to be super soft and last For. Eh. Ver. Then we looked at the Cherry Tree Hill and Dream in Color. Then the Louet Gems. After that, we talked about SWTC with Chitin. Finally, I showed her a skein of frighteningly saffron orange Zitron Trekking I was planning to purchase.

Utter bliss.

For the record, the owner offered Jack some crayons and puzzles and coloring books all on her own. He was chill the whole time, picked up the crayons on his own when he finished, and we left peacefully with all our little treats..

My husband is going to have to remove my car keys and debit card.

Tomorrow: actual knitting.

BTT: Greatest American Novel

(If you can remember the theme to Greatest American Hero, insert here. Now hum with me.)

It's that time again. Booking Through Thursday is all about:

What, in your opinion, is the (mythical) Great American Novel?

If I were British, I would definitely be considering something by Virginia Woolf, though not for the typical reasons. If I were going to stretch the rules, I'd be considering Neil Gaiman. Hey, he's been living on American soil for a while now! But I know in my gut which I think the best, and while it is a novel of Modernist fiction, I think it will surprise you in its dealings.

O Pioneers! by Willa Cather is essentially a book about change and death: death of old ways, and the change and adaptation that must happen to survive. Cather wrote this at a time when other popular or (now) canonical authors were writing about how war and the Industrial Revolution were alienating society. In her own way, I think she's dealing with the same things, but in a quieter and more relateable fashion. That isn't meant to say the novel is softer or weaker than it's brethren of the era. You know how sometimes you have to be quiet and observant to see the underlying currents in a room? Take that attitude with you to this book, and there are great things to be had.

Of course, if I could pick a second, it would be by Zora Neale Hurston. Thank you, Alice, thank you.

Oh yeah. Oregon, USA.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

More 'Splosions


There isn't a lot our current president has done that I admire. However, there are some folks who have to carry out his wishes that risk their lives on a daily basis that I think are the greatest heroes around. One of them is my BF's husband.

I can recall my horror when they began dating. He's a soldier and a Christian, two things I previously believed to be deal-breakers. However, said gentleman gives a whole new meaning to both. He believes in his job and does it because he's good at it. He believes is love and thinks that Jesus was love's biggest champion. He's a man of integrity, honor, intelligence, and over the years I've come to respect his stubborn allegience with the US Armed Forces and the Bible.

While I can't get behind simple aphorisms like "Freedom isn't Free", on days like the 4th of July and Veteran's Day I like to take a minute to be thankful for folks like my BF's husband, who are willing to put themselves in harm's way for our country's welfare and ongoing prosperity.

And you all know what else The 4th is for:



My husband, a man of numerous talents, has been employed as an airplane refueller, software engineer, and pyrotechnics expert. Yup, he used to blow things up and get paid doing it. In fact, that was part of what he was doing when we first met. Fourth of July a few years ago found us in uber-rural North Carolina on a bridge under construction lighting off a manual show. Yipes.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

LMFAO: Spiced

Sharon, was it you talking about LOLCat? My hub discovered this last night:



Here's the link. We were crying laughing.

Mustard Chicken

My BF came up with a nummy little way to do Lemon-Caper Chicken quite a few years ago, but it's never been quite right for me. Last night, I got it figured.

1 lb chicken breast, cut into 1 inch strips
2 tbsp mustard
1/4 diced shallot
2 cloves minced or crushed garlic
1 tsp salt
1 oz capers
1/4 cup lemon juice
dash of ground white pepper

Mix together everything but the chicken until it makes a nice little sauce, then throw in the chicken and coat evenly. Heat up a skillet (preferably cast iron) until nearly smoking. A dash of oil may be required (use canola!!!). Lay the pieces down one by one in a single layer and saute until pieces are nearly cooked through. You may want to turn your heat down a bit once the chicken has begun to cook. Flip and brown on other side.

I served this with pesto cappelini, which may not be the wisest flavor combo. A little bit of plain pasta sauted with butter and garlic would do it, and grate on a little parm.

Customer Service Revisited

I totally hear you guys about don't write off the shop. In one of the LYS's I don't frequent anymore, it WAS the owner being priggish. This latest thing just set me off about all of them.

My personal preference is to shop all over the place, including the internet. I think I'll be back in that shop, but I won't go out of my way like I used to. If an opportunity comes up to talk to the owner, who is quite fabulous BTW, I will. Or I'll have a chat with the person(s) I'm frustrated with. I don't expect the snob vibe to go away, though, and it is a real turn-off.

Every yarn shop needs a kid area. It should be part of their business plan. Okay, I'm a little insistent. But I guarantee that if my LYS had a train table, you wouldn't know my kid was in the place.

Monday, July 2, 2007

All For Babies


T'day wasn't my best day ever, some obscure crap with family loused things up right outta the gate, so I'm going to try not to whine, but I'm not making any promises about swearing or ranting.

My son, at two and a half, has been everywhere I've been since he was born. Well, since before he was born, but that's a personal matter. In that time I've learned to read the signs of kid friendly folks and not-so-friendly folks. The little guy has been oblivious thus far, and I hope it stays that way for good long while.

Toddlers, being the curious little sponges they are, develop a quick sense for how to entertain themselves in a store that doesn't contain actual "toys". My son, like any normal kid, is checking for interesting items, which might or might not be glass, pointy, dry clean only, or expensive. He has a special affinity for running, and loops (around racks, shelves, aisles) are like an open invitation. None of this is to say that he's destructive or inconsiderate. Quite the opposite, in fact. To my knowledge, he hasn't broken anything or permanently damaged a display in a single store. We don't walk out with things that aren't ours and we clean up our messes.

My son is the dearest thing in the world to me, and I like having his constant company. So you can imagine how I feel when someone in a shop says and does things to make it clear he isn't a welcome addition, or that if we're there together I can't possibly be a serious customer. Disgusted, insulted and annoyed are three words that come quickly to mind just now.

I love knitting, and I love yarn. I write a frakking blog about my love of fuzz. Yarn shops are first on my list of places to visit for fun. When I visit my BF's mom, I know where to go for yarn. When I visit Seattle, or Raleigh, Chapel Hill or Asheville, NC, I know where to go for yarn. Heck, if I visited New York, or Boston, or dozens of other places, I'd know where to shop for yarn by asking my blogging pals or reading around online. And I have been to at least half of the LYS's in the Portland area.

And in no less than three of them we've gotten treated like we had sticky chocolate fingers and a funny smell about us.

Today, it was implied that my son was going to break the Pyrex needles. That he was going to walk out with the cute little knitted animals. That he wasn't being careful enough with the woolly creations and the merchandise. That he, and I, were basically not trustworthy.

I don't imagine that all children are at their best every time they go into a store. I'm sure things have happened. But I also know my child very, very well, and I do not like to see him treated as if he as very little going on between his ears. Children do what we expect of them, and that is the bottom line whether or not you're their parent, friend, relative, or a perfect stranger.

My son is a fairly bright guy, and he's very social, so I'm sure there will come a day soon when he is hurt by the way someone treats him whom he is not acquainted with. As it's my job to protect him from that while I have the chance, you can bet I won't take him anywhere near those places he isn't treated as a valued customer. If that means an LYS drops from my list, oh well.

I've discovered that I believe children to be a gift, even if they aren't mine. That doesn't make it okay to parent them without boundaries and expectations. But it should be true for us culturally as well as personally. I wish I knew how to make it so.

Oh yeah, and where do you think future generations of knitters are going to come from?

Thursday, June 28, 2007

BTT: Desperation

Booking Through Thursday's question: what's the most desperate thing you've ever read because it was the only thing available, and was it worth your while?

If you've had a baby, you know just how boring being a pregnant woman waiting for a quick weigh-in and brief face-to-face with an OB or midwife can be. The magazines and such don't change much, and if your doctor's office is as busy as mine was, you're waiting for the PA, then waiting for the ultrasound tech, then waiting for the midwife. Simply put, I wasted hours of my life in a doctor's office.

Pregnancy brain isn't a good thing when trying to remember to bring a book or a project to the check-up. There were times when I was rereading the birth control minutiae of an add for the sixth or seventh or twentieth time. It was ghastly. I was reading labels and price tags on plants and pots outside the windows. I was reading the backs of other people's books from across the room.

Of course, there were times when first-trimester nausea prevented me from focusing on much of anything because it made me sicker. At that point I got really familiar with the details of every painting in the waiting rooms.

Was is worth it? Well, my son is pretty fantastic, so there's the up-side of the story. But I certainly wouldn't choose that doctor's office unless under duress. I may have read a few things in the various "parenting" magazines that have been helpful, though I couldn't recall exact details.



(Okay, can you tell I wasn't a "glowing" pregnant lady?)

Rockin'



Holy wow. Sharon actually thinks I rock! Thanks, dude! Now here are some folks that deserve the same wonderful treatment.

Gabriella has this wonderful sense of color that really compliments her design and pattern choices. The artistic quality of her blog makes it a lot of fun to look at and partly inspired me in my own choices.

Gloriana knits, sews, and teaches Shakespeare to universtiy students. I'm sorry, but what could be cooler than that? I can't decide if I envy her crafting skills or her literary prowess more.

Brynne is another multi-talented supergal. She's pretty handy with the sticks and the sewing apparatus, and while she speaks with grace and eloquence about her crafts, she also raises two wonderful and sweet little boys. And they're already planning for more offspring. That's a full plate, folks.

Rachel doesn't do fuzz, but she does funny combined with thoughtful really, really well. I've been reading her blog longer than any other, with maybe the exception of the Panopticon, and she has never failed to keep me interested. The way she writes her son's intriguing and sweet adventures and developmental progression makes me feel a little less alone in the parenting wilderness.

Ysolda - what a killer name! - designs knitting patterns that...words can't describe. Watching her creative genius is like glimpsing the edge of something enormous and incomprehensible. And utterly fantastic.

I have to say that this award "meme" is cool opportunity to honor some folks that really deserve it. Pass it along if you read.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Monday Doldrums

As things have turned out, knitting isn't the source of my repetitive use issues. Work is. Specifically, gift wrapping. How do I know? I didn't have to be at work four days in a row, and by Wednesday I was at a new knit night with the log cabin in reds and browns. I finished a whole strip that night. Over the weekend, I finished the above socks, though the darker one was 3/4 finished anyway. It's Wildfoote in Vinca Minor with a solid Lorna's Laces I've long since lost the ball band for. The other is a yarn I wanted to test for socks: Telemark by Knit Picks. But more about that later. Sunday I worked a full eight-hour day which included gift wrapping 40 Riedel glasses (7 boxes!). Today? I hurt again. Drat.

About those Knit Picks socks. Telemark is interesting because it's a tightly spun sport weight (100% wool), so there's only 103 yards to 50g, whereas the analogous worsted is 110 yard/50g. The texture is very different - less spongy and airy. I chose the Delphinium (purple, anyone) and bought three skeins. I just did a very straightforward 2x2 rib on size three needles with an eye of patridge heel and a quick redux toe (SPM's "peasant toe"). I've intended them for hiking socks or comfy 'round-the-house numbers. One took me a couple days (and a skein and a quarter) rather than a week and change. My conclusion? If they wash up soft, they'll be fantastic quick-fix FO's. AKA, gifts or stocking stuffers.

My son has a thing for bandaids, and yesterday, he came up with this idea on his own: we'd all bonked our heads and needed to feel better. He was very proud. Cute as could be, too. Aren't we the dorkiest people you've ever seen?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

BTT: School days

School Days, Golden Rule Days(?)

1. Do you have any old school books? Did you keep yours from college? Old textbooks from garage sales? Old workbooks from classes gone by?

2. How about your old notes, exams, papers? Do you save them? Or have they long since gone to the great Locker-in-the-sky?

Of course I have old school books. While I doubt I have anything from high school (bo-ring), I have quite a few old biology and chemistry texts, as well as every (freakin') novel or text I read for my English degree. There's also a smattering of French and Psychology hanging 'round here somewhere. I have been tempted by other people's textbooks, but in the end I tend to realize they won't have as much meaning for me.

I've saved all my notes and things from my English classes because it will come in very helpful if I ever have to demostrate what a class was about for another institution. My other motivation is to have that stuff around to look back on when I'm preparing for graduate school. Ultimately, I think all that stuff could be helpful if I decide to be an independent scholar. Really, has anyone done the math lately on how much it takes to earn a PhD in English in comparison to how much we get paid? Ouch.

BTT: Dessert First

Today is all about playing catch-up and ignoring my painful left extremity. Sooooo...last Thursday first.

Dessert First
1. Do you cheat and peek ahead at the end of your books? Or do you resolutely read in sequence, as the author intended?

2. And, if you don’t peek, do you ever feel tempted?

No, not really. I don't know what you all are reading, but if I skip ahead and find out what happens in the end, I'm more confused because of all the pieces I missed that lead up to that ending. I love that moment when the last page has just been read, the back flap closed. Just sitting there, savoring the last moments when things came together (and hopefully ended well) can only be diminished for me if spoiled by too much knowledge.

Tempted? Only when what I'm reading is very, very boring.

FO: The Saga of the K/H

There they are, the actual FO on their intended legs but minus the kilt because it hasn't been bought yet. Aren't those fabulous calves just asking to be shown off?

Way back in February, I had this bright idea. I could give my husband a Utilikilt (feel free to giggle at the propoganda) for his birthday, and knit a pair of kilt hose to go with. I consulted the digital oracle for patterns, and was taken by this. Those cables were my undoing in so many ways. And you realize this project was originally an excuse to go to my favorite yarn store and buy yarn, don't you.

Next stop, LYS. When I stopped in that fateful day, I had all kinds of ideas but no clues. Theresa was a genius at helping me with yardage, needle sizes and gauge. But there isn't a person at Knit Purl who hasn't been helpful and genuinely nice. (And I'm not just saying that because they might be reading!) I walked out with five skeins of Lamb's Pride Worsted in Aran and size three DPN's, though I still had no comprehension of the scope of the project ahead of me.

At home, I hid the bag of yarn and the pattern. The thinking here was that I was going to make the k/h a total surprise. However, knitting on this project only when hubbo was work turned out to be a pipe dream. There was just too much to do. The pattern is toe-up on circulars (not my cuppa), so the first task was adapting and getting gauge for size threes. Theresa, we, okay you, were spot on. You are officially my scientific consultant for knitting projects. I cast on and frogged twice before really catching on to the proper set-up. Having never knit cables, I hadn't realized just how many stitches they could suck up. Lesson #1. Between February and the beginning of April I managed only to complete the first cuff.

As the birthdate quickly approached I found that it was time for a change of plan. First, knit in front of the husband. This involved a couple of large lies about the project. The first k/h sped toward the ankle, and it also became a sweater sleeve (in name only). By this time I'd given over the pattern for winging it. The calf shaping and ankle redux are very different from John's version, and I wish I had charted them before knitting up. Lesson #2.

Numero Uno went back into hiding after the heel flap because I couldn't think of a feasible lie to explain toe redux on a sweater sleeve. I was ecstatic to be halfway there, but resigned to the fact that six weeks wouldn't be enough to get through Numero Dos. I cast on and put aside all my other projects in the hope that I could at least finish the cuff by the necessary date.

Somewhere back in the middle of the first k/h, I must've acquired some brains because I actually made a plan and wrote out the calf and ankle shaping details before starting them. Sadly, this means that the pair are not nearly twins - more like cousins. Well, to make a long story palatably shorter, I managed to knit all the way through my notes with perfect shaping and no frogging, and bound off the second hose two days before the birthday.

There was one thing needing a correction, though. The cuff of the first didn't match the second because I started at the wrong row of the cable repeat. I tried to unravel starting at the cast-on, but when that failed utterly I just plain cut off the offending rows. Then I picked up and knit back down through to the top, cast off, and promptly asked my husband when he wanted his present. Lesson #3 is that casting off is much tighter than casting on. Can you guess which is the first sock in the picture?

He tried them on for the first time about an hour before the clock actually rolled over to his birthdate, and miraculously, they fit to a tee. And best of all, he was totally surprised.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sad Days

As it turns out, another wonderful side effect of knitting with aran weight yarn on size three needles is that muscles tend to protest. In my case, repetitive use damage in my left forearm and hand. In other words....I.Can't.Knit. Eek!

As you might imagine, beginning another large project would not be a good idea. I did though, a garter stitch blanket that you see in it's beginning stages off to the left there. And down below in it's current state. I was fine for a few weeks after the k/h but then suddenly I couldn't hold anything in my left hand without shooting pain. Rats. So the blanket languishes, getting a new row or two a day. I'm icing the heck out of my hand, but working four days a week isn't helping either.

I'm sure everything will turn out fine. I can feel healing progress already. But this blanket, now half done, is a wedding gift and the wedding is only a month away. (I did make call yesterday to get one more skein of each color since I was beginning to worry I wouldn't have enough.)

Incidentally, I also have the first of a pair of socks, a baby hat, and a pie R square shawl on the needles. You can guess how fast they're all progressing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Harloteers



It was truly glorious to be in a room full of so many knitters. I was a tad late to get the pick of seating, but on a fluke I was able to sit right up front. One of the perks of not having a knittig buddy to pal around with is that a single available seat isn't a problem.

Ms. SPM is just as hilarious in person as on her blog. I take for granted that she would be just like any of us, but she seemed a bit nervous at the beginning. She did a fantastic job, of course, and the whole room was filled with laughter from beginning to end. Oh to be able to write that well.

A spot up front pretty much meant a spot at the front of the queue (after moms with babies, et. al.), so I had my book signed and pictures taken before I had a chance to get bored. Look, she's holding my sock! (Sadly, I had to rip it out a couple days ago after turning the heel and finding there was just no way this pattern was going to be viable for my foot.)

It was a good night to be in Portland, folks.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Newness and Procrastination


The bad news first:

I have a mostly-written post about the kilt hose project coming soon. It's long and needs some editing/massive revision, and though I'm fairly certain nobody in their right mind would make a pair like mine, it does make a semi-interesting story.

Now for the good:

I checked out two new LYS's. I am not unhappy with my regular place, but I'm curious who else is out there and when they have knit night. (Thursday seems to be ramping up for me at work.) First, I went to Knitting Bee looking for Dream In Color sock. They're a lovely little shop quite near my house and they sell some things I haven't seen anywhere else. There isn't an air of pretension (deserved or otherwise) at the KB, so I'm all kinds of comfortable there. Haven't checked out their night yet (Wednesday), but I did go down to Dublin Bay on theirs (Tuesday) and was surprised to find only the person working that evening. The two of us sat and chatted (and watched some awful cable show) for an hour and a half. Even though the place was a bit of a ghost town, I'm definitely going back for the fabulous products they stock.

In the process of checking out those two shops, I found out how close I was to two more: Lint and Knit Knot. Lint was already on my list of places to try, but I thought I'd be making a short trip up the freeway to get there. Logistically, that makes it a not-going-to-happen-any-time-soon, unless I happen to be in the area. Well, here's how the list looks now:

Tried: Farmhouse Knits, Abundant Yarn, Yarn Garden, Knit Purl, Knitting Bee, Dublin Bay, Northwest Wools

Untried: Lint, The Naked Sheep, Knit Knot, Twisted (opening soon), Kathy's Knit Korner (KKK? Really?), Molehill Farm (if you wish to go that far afield), and speaking of "afield" I see that there are four or five more shops I could take a peek at in Tigard and West Linn (also subs of Portland).

So, yeah, there are few places to buy yarn in my town.