Thursday, March 29, 2007

Don't Neglect The Title, Man

Okay, so I missed this (if you scroll down a tiny bit, you'll see what I mean). Can you believe it? My excuse is that because I'm working again for the first time in three years, I tend to forget that I need to ask for time off for special things. I was going to take a ball band washrag WIP and everything. *sigh*

I finally dug through my stash and found the one ball of yarn of the group I'm making that sweater out of that had a ball band left on. (From reading that, there's no way you'd guess I spent three years nearly getting an English degree.) Googling it brought me here, but the color isn't there. The closest match would probably be #208, without all the grey. Good thing I have another eight balls to make the sleeves with - wouldn't want to use this crap up come up short.

Reading other knitter's blogs is proving to be a very bad idea, financially speaking. I read this post without the proper self control. **warning** Don't follow the link to Little Knits at the end of the post unless you have a credit card handy and some serious disposable income. I "came home" with this.

Need a laugh? But seriously, doesn't it feel like somebody forgot to tell White House the rules?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


...or, the easy way for me to generate a post when I'm in stockinette hell.


While BF was here, we watched Imposter, a Philip K. Dick film adaptation in which Gary Sinise, Vincent D'Onfrio and Madeline Stowe all get to come to a really bad end. I don't remember this movie ever making an appearance in theaters, although I am garuanteed by my uber-movie-geek husband that it did, but it was an interesting diversion after the boys were asleep.

We also watched Tenku no shiro Rapyuta, or Castle in the Sky. This one brought up compelling versions of loyalty, service and community as well as being beautifully illustrated. My husband brought up a subgenre in reference to this movie I'd never hear of before, Steampunk, which was a great reminder for me that my husband has plenty of unplumbed depths to explore if we ever get to spend any time alone.

Though my obsession is recently waning, I have been a bit nuts about anything Pride and Prejudice. In that vein, I checked out Bride and Prejudice from the library. Two things: fantastic adaptation and I totally have a thing for Naveen Andrews. Also, I hadn't previously considered Austen's works as lending themselves as movie musicals. Hilarious.


Currently borrowed: How To Talk So Kids Will Listen, Mason Dixon Knitting, Grace(Eventually), A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, Ysabel. Recent purchases: Knitting without Tears, Cross Stitch Pictures. Can you see how I might have way too much reading on my plate?

Knitting WIPs

I am currently working my way through a little stash-buster project with yarn that is part wool, part acrylic, in other words something I never would've bought for myself. With fifteen balls of this hand-me-down stuff, I have enough room to make quite the sweater, so I'm designing it myself and using the thing as an opportunity to learn more about how sweaters are constructed. So far, I'm most satisfied by the fact that the project is moving right along and least satisfied with the stiff drape of the garment and the chunky picot edge. I'm planning a V neckline with eyelet detailing. The sleeves will only be three-quarter length, as this is my favorite, so I should be done in no time.

The second b/g monster has a heel and I've just begun the pick-ups for the gusset. The kilt hose are languishing, and I'm considering a frog back to square one so I can redesign for size six needles. The acrylic/wool quickie sweater I started for el munchorooney is on hold.

Speaking of Food

Here's what I've been craving in a big way:

1/8 cup cooked edamame
1/4 cup cooked chicken
1/8 cup roasted, salted cashews
diced veggies: red bell pepper, carrot, celery, tomato, green onion
mixed greens

tossed with either Annie's Shitake Sesame dressing or my Balsamic Dark Soy vinagrette.

mmm. yum. yummy. yum.

Monday, March 26, 2007

No-Knit Weekend

My best bud and her son came to stay with us last Thursday, and departed today around noon. Geographically, we're usually about as far apart as you can get and still live in the continental US, so this was a very special visit. Thusly, no knitting for most of the time they were here.

Instead, we took the kids, who are nine months apart in age, to several parks, our local children's museum, a cool kid-oriented restuarant, rode the light rail to downtown and went to a toy store. My son is having a bit of a tough time because I haven't been allowing him to exercise his own controls enough, so there were times when things seemed to be self-destructing for us a little bit. But I learned a ton during the visit and all the outings, and the boys enjoyed the heck out of each other's company.

Several months ago, I checked out a book called Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood by Jim Fay, and though I came to the book with great skepticism because of it's title and because I expected it to be about structuring your child into oblivion, I did get some great tools from reading it the first time. I also passed on the title to my best friend and her mother, and they seemed to like the idea. Best Friend's husband took a look at it and urged us all to go back and read again (truth be told, all three of us only read the first six chapters). B.F. did that and has had spectacular success with her son who is nearing three years old. The recent visit reinforced for me that I had missed a few things in my first reading, so I'm going to have to read it through again, though in the mean time I've tried a few things I learned from watching B.F. and son. The difference might reinvigorate my interest in parenting.

I've also come across another book that both B.F. and Rachel have taken an interest in: How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and How To Listen So Kids Will Talk. I've already snagged it from the li-bary and I'll probably want to babble about my new discoveries later on, so stay tuned.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Really Big Show

Overheard at Thursday knit night:

"So I attended the Tigard Knitter's Guild meeting last week, and during 'Show and Tell' towards the end of the meeting, a grown woman stood up in front of a room full of people and told us she wanted to 'show us her beaver'. Now, I'm laughing through the tears, then I realize I'm THE ONLY ONE LAUGHING. I do my best to quiet down, the woman pulls out a life-sized knitted beaver and proceeds to describe it in detail."

Okay, that wasn't word for word, but you get the idea. Theresa, I think, had about four of us laughing for about ten minutes on the various details of that story. The description of the Knitter's Guild wasn't one that made me sit up and decide to join either.

From the looks of things here and here, Represent is off to a great start! Oh to be in NYC.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

FO: Charity Blanket

Project details here. Along with two hats in a lavender cotton, I've now got a 12"x12" blanket to contribute to my new charity interest. Thing is, the blanket was supposed to be 15" square, but I managed to forget that my gauge is different on straights than in the round.
Here's the project after weaving in the ends and while blocking (still very wet). I'm trying to work on my picture quality. When I find blogs like this, I find myself wondering just how the heck I can achieve even 1/10th that quality. I have my eye on this new camera, which I think might help a little.

Next FO: the blue green monsters, also known as "grow a pair".

Broccoli Beef w/Dark Soy

Concocted this evening:

1 head broccoli
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 bell pepper
1 to 1.5 lbs beef (london broil?)
1 pkg medium or wide rice noodles
2 tbsp minced basil
1/4 cup cashews
1/2 cup dark mushroom soy sauce*
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar (no sodium)
1 tbsp corn starch
pepper and sriracha to taste
toasted sesame oil for sauteing

Sear steak on both sides. You can do this straight out of the freezer, and then let the meat rest on a cutting board for a few minutes. Cut steak into 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch slices. Saute sliced steak in sesame oil, making sure that both sides of each slice get lightly browned. Set aside.

Prepare noodles according to directions. While they sit, start the veggies.

Wash, trim and cut pepper, broccoli and onion into approx. 2 inch pieces. Mince or crush garlic. Saute in sesame oil - you can use the same pan as the beef. Ladle about 1/2 of the rice noodle water into the veggies, then cover and steam until things begin to tender.

Combine soy sauce, vinegar, pepper, siracha and corn starch and mix until dissolved.

Place meat back in the pan with the veggies, then pour the sauce over the top. (Now you can drain your noodles.) Simmer meat/vegetable mixture until sauce barely begins to thicken. Toss in cashews and basil. Taste and adjust for salt and heat.

Serve meat over noodles.

Oh yeah, didn't I mention I like to cook?

* If you're lucky enough to live near a Uwajimaya, you're set.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Second Sock Suckage

I sometimes hesitate to make the second sock. Eventually, it gets done because I'm addicted to the F.O. feeling and I don't like U.F.O.'s in my knitting basket. But I swear (and I do mean swear) when it comes to second socks, I have a handicap. A second sock handicap, comprised of the inability to make the second sock match the first in either gauge or length, and sometimes in a really bad week, both.

Take, for instance, the current bane of my knitting life, the Blue Green Monster. I find that my gauge is different in the round than on straights, so my swatches are nearly useless. Now, it seems that I'm have a tight gauge night and the second sock is going to be less of a monster because it won't be quite so loose. It will still be a men's size 10 1/2 sock in stockinette, but at least this one won't bag out at the ankle, unlike it's mate.

Yes, this is rant, which I am sometimes prone to. I am so irritated (same problem has happened with my last three pairs of socks) that I'm not even going to take pictures. Why bother documenting something that makes me want to put down my needles and read a book!

I think "Aspire to Knit" suits just fine.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Bouncing 'Round the Room

Words like sylvan, pastoral, sublime and columbia have been jostling my brain for a shot at the new blog title. I can't get them to make sense, especially with knitting. I don't knit trees, and I don't knit in an edenic setting.

You know what I think does work? (But I don't like the sound of it)

"Aspire To Knit"

There's a certain amount of humility there that I think is appropriate considering my desire to become a world-class knitter. I know I have a long way to go, and I know there are a ton of people out there who are much more experienced than I am. I guess I think "Aspire" recognizes that. I googled the phrase and found that pretty much all the blogs I've heard of or give any credence to at all have used that phrase in at least one post. Knitting is one of those things with limitations and a constant learning curve, so you're never as much of an expert as you think. I can be good at one thing, but there will always be more for me to aspire to.

So how do I work a tree in there?

Full Calendar

We're having an abundance of must-attend author reading/signing events here in the Portland area. Not to mention several important books that I want pre-order from Amazon. Should I be thrilled that there's so much fun stuff coming up? Or should I be dismayed because I barely get any hours at work as it is and asking for time off is a quick way to a $0 paycheck? (Zero Simoleans means Zero books, friends) Here's what's coming up:

March 28th - LYS #4, Abundant Yarn and Dyeworks has garnered the marvelous privilege of hosting Ann and Kay of Mason-Dixon Knitting fame. Since the hubster isn't much of a yarn store buff, I'm hoping to pack him and the small boy off for some guy time during this one.

April 3rd - Powell's is bringing Ms. Annie Lamott to the Bagdad Theater to speak about her new book, Grace(Eventually). The whole fambly loves this woman dearly. If you scroll down just a bit on the Bagdad link or up just a bit on the Powell's calendar link, you'll notice a famous Senator and his wife on the docket just the day before.

June 8th - Cast Off Tour makes it to Portland and gets a decently sized venue. Nuff said.

June 14th - Kushiel's Justice released. No tour dates yet.

Dare I even get started on how excited I am that Harry Potter #7 is nearly here? I won't even bother with appropriate links, because you either know or you don't care.

This is going to be an excellent summer for reading, my friends.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Got Projects?

I find myself with four live knitting projects to choose from at the moment. First, the kilt hose that aren't going anywhere because I can't work on them when hubby is home. Second, a quick aran sweater for my son, which I cast on just as spring is really kicking in and the days are noticably warmer. Third, in honor of second-sock syndrome, I've stalled out in the ribbing for the mate to b/g monster. Fourth, this. If you hadn't guessed already, I'm bored with my current sock projects, so I've begun several others.

When Yarn Garden's newsletter arrived today, I finally found a charity project that hit me where I live. Although my son was nowhere near premature (10 lbs, the crazy child), he is the thing that has given my life a lot meaning and nothing is more important to me than his health and welfare. If I could help smooth things a bit for someone's precious new baby by doing something I do every day anyway, what could make more sense?

So far, I've knitted two hats for this charity project. Tonight, I went to Knit Night at LYS #1, Knit Purl, and bought some Dale of Norway Stork in an adorable varigated blue, a pair of 12" US 2's made by Crystal Palace (lurv! lurv! lurv!) and started a blanket that is supposed to measure approximately 15" by 15". There are things about these tiny knitting projects that both shock me and make me question my own perceptions, but I probably don't want to write about those parts for fear of being insensitive. Let me just say that I only had to buy one skein of yarn for a blanket and leave it at that.

(Sorry about the utterly crappy pictures. My mother's phone has more megapixels than our Canon Powershot. Needless to say, I also suck at photography.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Everything Changes

Cliche. Not a first for me.

I was thinking - I really want a different look and I've been considering a name change. Something more knitting-appropriate. I'm beginning to think of that name up there as a placeholder for something else.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Elmore-Pisgah Rocks

Hey y'all, I just got a call from a woman at Elmore-Pisgah, the makers of Peaches and Cream. I placed an order this morning online for about 20 balls of various colors, and had requested that they try shipping with the USPS if it might save a couple bucks. The woman, whose name I was silly enough to forget, wanted to clear up that it would cost the same and be safer to stick with their standard UPS shipping. Cool, fine by me.

Now here's the part I'm really impressed about: I got the call only an hour or so after I placed my order, and when they called my order was already ready to ship. I have a UPS number for tracking as we speak. Not only are they fast, honest, and nice, they're FAST, HONEST, and really friggin' NICE. And they have the leg up considerably when it comes to their HUGE color selection. I'm definitely going to stick with them. Added bonus: they sell all their colors in 1lb cones. Sweet.

For anyone nearby or on their way through via I-40, E-P has a retail outlet at their mill about three miles off the highway and twenty-ish miles from Asheville. Needless to say, the next time we visit the in-laws, we'll be making a trip to the mountains.

Post-publish addition: Can I just say, WOOHOO! Ann and Kay are coming to one of my LYS's, Abundant Yarn & Dyeworks, on March 28th. *shivers like chihuahua in excitement*

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Cure for the Froggin' Blues

I think as of last posting 'bout knitting, I had frogged the kilt hose twice. If I failed to mention it, I also frogged what I am beginning to think of as the blue/green monster once before getting a thrid of the way down the leg. B/G monster is a straight ribbed cuff and stockinette leg - so how hard can it be? Well, gauge is suddenly wreaking havoc with my sock projects! I thought I'd gotten all measured up for B/G Monster, but then things went south and the leg looked more like pants than socks. And NOT skinny pants. (Okay, that's just a random link, but how funny!) Silly me, I still didn't remeasure the gauge b/4 frogging, so the thing, as you may be able to discern from the photo, is still a little large. To compensate and prevent baggy ankle, I reduced a bit b/4 the heel.

To cure my utter disgust with my current sock projects, I started a ball band washrag, compliments of the ladies at Mason-Dixon Knitting. Their book is hysterical and fantastic, BTW. It is a predictably quick knit, especially because I only had one color on hand. I'm thinking a few of these with a special soap or something will be a nice Mother's Day gift.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

In Matters Unrelated to Knitting

By now, those who want to know have heard about the letter sent today by PETA to one Albert A. Gore, Jr. concerning his "meat addiction" and his lack of true environmental zeal.

Whoa, boy.

I should be up-front in admitting that PETA isn't an organization I have a lot of interest in. I am completely on board with halting animal testing. The zoo creeps me out no end. Cruel and unusual treatment of any living creature makes my stomach turn. However, I am not a vegan. Not even close. I tend not to buy meat from massive agro-business, preferring the flavor and practices in raising free-range and organic meats. But I still eat meat and will probably always do so. Now I'm on the record.

One of the basic things you learn in environmental biology, which I studied for two years before realizing I was more interested in English literature, is how the food chain works. Producers, things like grasses and trees, take in sunlight to make food. Primary consumers, or herbivores, eat the grasses and trees for sustenance. Humans can subsist at this level, although our evolution has enable us to be omnivores. Secondary consumers, like omnivores and carnivores, eat the things that eat the plants. Tertiary consumers, which I think are generally carnivores, are just that much further away from the primary source of Earth's energy, the sun. Now, when you look at how food is digested and used up as energy, you see that lots of it just dissipates back into the atmosphere as heat. So the further up the food chain you go, the more energy it takes to fuel your life. Story of the humans, I'd say.

I'm sure that domesticating animals furthers this contribution to heat and waste energy, and that is probably exactly what the University of Chicago study says. My husband's take on PETA ridiculous letter, by the way, is to stop domesticating and just revert back to hunter-gatherer traditions. I can just see him out there with a knife between his teeth, stalking the wild and woolly Holstein cow. But let's get real for a minute. Economies depend on the domestication of livestock. Are we just going to kill all those animals we won't be eating anymore? Sterilize them? I don't think that's what PETA had in mind. And you can bet I'm not going to be sharing my apartment with a dozen chickens any time soon.

What is truly silly about the whole thing, in my opinion, is that PETA is publicly attacking Al Gore. The man is a hero and an intellectual, and though he is not perfect (who wants to be?) he has done way more for raising awareness about environmental issues than PETA has. I think PETA is just going for publicity, which makes them very, VERY republican-esque. I guess that's what you have to resort to when you're a fringe group.

Okay, so I'm not very good at being courteous when I'm annoyed.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Post of Utter Excitement and Glee

Oh. My. God. many....colors.

Ball band bliss, here I come.

PS I checked out Lily's Sugar n Cream. Not so much on the color selection. But they have an interesting twisty thingy.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Easy Saturday Morn - Again

Indeed, I totally messed up the kilt hose and had to frog that first cuff. Oh well.

Things I've learned so far: cabling has a different gauge than stockinette. Duh. Read the WHOLE pattern, even if you're adapting it, because the designer probably has a clue. Knitting with regular wooly wool like Lamb's Pride will make your fingers bleed if you don't take a break and knit something else. The mohair really doesn't soften it up a bit!

So, now that I've gone back and rechecked the pattern and done some gauge numbers, I think I'm ready to start again. This time, though, I'm writing out my intentions before I start so that I have a clearer picture of where I'm going. I did figure out a neat trick for the cuff, though. If you flip the knitting upside-down and push it inside-out through the needle ring, of course wrapping your yarn around the "next" stitch before flipping, then continue along your merry way (now going the opposite direction as before), you make the cuff perfectly ready to flip over when finished. Sadly, I did cast on a second time and have knitted three rows of ribbing, but the thing is way too big and will be frogged again. I just keep reminding myself that May is still a ways off.


You know you're reading something different when one of your favorite fantasy authors, in this case Guy Gavriel Kay, completely leaves off writing about previous times in fantastical settings and starts talking about iPods, googling, and Starbucks in his latest work. I've checked Ysabel out from our local library, because I can (and because buying things in hardback doesn't seem wise for a person with full bookshelves and a very small apartment), but I don't think I'll get to finish it before it's due. The first eight pages or so have been good, even for Kay, and I'm sure he'll get back to his typical stuff soon enough.


Road trip! Heading to Seattle for the weekend. See ya.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

No Kitchen Sink - Yet

Yesterday was a nuttilicious day, y'all! A painter came by and redid our counters. Yikes, the smell. Then, I chose to go buy a Toyota Sienna I'd had my eye on, and of course I was late picking up my husband and subsequently late to work. But how cool is my boss - she asked if I'd be better of going back home for the night! Whew.

I've been slowly working away at my kilt hose project, but there isn't a lot of knitting time when my husband isn't home so progress is pretty slow. I'm adapting the pattern to go top-down, so you can see what the cuff looks like so far. That little braid pattern is so simple - BC4 x2, knit 2 rows, k2 FC4 k2, knit 2 rows - but at six stitches per inch on aran weight yarn its a bit tight. Problem is, I think it might be too small and I might have to frog it. Frag. But I won't know until I move into the main part of the calf increases, so I'm going to keep going. At least this isn't a rush job, as AverageJoe's birthday isn't until May.

Yup, AverageJoe is hubby. That's what he calls himself, so I go with it.

In the progress of toilet acclimation, my toddler son has developed an avid interest in flushing. If I go and don't invite him to flush for me, he gets very upset. My poor sweet husband, who very much enjoys his privacy while using the commode, gets the same thing along with a little observer whenever he pees standing up. Personally, I think it's hysterical. This morning, for instance, the little stinker was still mostly asleep in my arms when I had to go, so I took him with me as we've done since he was a few days old, and after I was finished he stayed behind to flush and fill about six more times, all the while with that look of ultra-concentration and barely-awakeness on his face. This little obesession also carries over to the TP, which he unrolls liberally and then loads into the bowl. We haven't had an overflow yet, but several rolls have gone swish bit by bit without proper usage first. Have I mentioned that I think all little kids are nutters, and most especially mine? The thing is, I can see my own proclivities in my child, so maybe he comes by his nutter-ness honestly. Don't mistake that to mean that I spend a lot of time flushing bits of paper down the bowl, mind you.

My mum came to visit last Sunday from Seattle, and with her came several goodies including four more boxes of my books. The reason that these books weren't in my possession in the first place is that when I moved to North Carolina three years ago, I left all my stuff (minus the things I could fit in my '99 Jetta) with my mother. When we came back, we thought we'd sorted it all out. We have three bookshelves, approx. 32" by 70-something, full to beyond capacity with DVDs and books, so there isn't room for much more. But what I find really disturbing about these four boxes showing up unexpectedly is that I didn't realize I was missing any books. And these turned out to be some fairly important ones, like the leather-bound Shakespeare compendium that was a high school graduation gift. Or a copy of Plato's collected works that I used for three or four upper-division courses at university. I could go on, but suffice to say that I can't believe I didn't notice the missing inventory. Am I going soft?

I'm still working to update my links, but so far I haven't had time to start reading any new blogs. If there are any readers at this point (which I doubt, but oh well) feel free to make suggestions.