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.


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.


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?