Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Holidaze"

I know I'm not the first person to use this word to describe the way I feel this season, but, this year, it seems especially appropriate. So far, this year has brought a frenzy of paper-finishing (I don't have a picture of that one, so you'll just have to take my word for it when I tell you it completely consumed my waking hours for a few days), and shopping (again no picture, this time for security reasons, ya know), ...

and baking...
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and decorating...
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and posing...
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and singing...
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and knitting...,
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among many other things. The only thing I really haven't been doing is cleaning, but that's coming up next.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Knitting Lessons I Learned Today

1. Knitting socks in church is risky, even when you are not really there on official business, but just waiting for your kids to come out of choir. When you learn the hard way how loud your phone sounds in a church, and suffer the mortification of hearing the ring echo off the wood and marble, you will jump about 5 feet in the air. Just imagine the trajectory of the bamboo dpn flying out of your hands as you scramble for your phone and try to keep from dropping both it and your work in progress. I have to imagine, because I have no idea where it ended up. I was not quite up for crawling under the pews to look for it. Anyone have a spare Crystal Palace No. 2?

2. Vanilla Knitting has its place: Yes, sometimes you want to be challenged. You find yourself craving *yo ssk tbl yo p2tog* repeat, with maybe some short rows thrown in. Just like sometimes you want Chocolate Coffee Chip with a skor bar mix-in. But sometimes just plain ol' garter stitch can be very refreshing. And then there are those days when you just need to cleanse your palate with a basic stockinette sock in self-striping yarn, when the only thing your brain can handle is the basic knit stitch combined with, oh, lookie, the yarn changed color. Shiny!

3. Knitting Inertia is an insidious force: Once you put a project down, the amount of devotion and discipline needed to pick it back up again = the amount of your stash multiplied by the complication factor of the pattern of the hibernating project divided by how well you took notes on that project. It's so much easier to start someting new, isn't it? Sheesh, sometimes I think I would be better off ripping a thing apart and starting over.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Short Attention Span

Yes, I keep casting on. Not so much with the casting off, lately, though. Here is another Multidirectional Diagonal scarf, in a more traditional incarnation. This time I am using Plymouth Boku, a yarn obviously intended as a copy of Noro Silk Garden. It is not very soft, but does look very cool in this pattern which was clearly written for a Noro yarn.
Boku scarf
One sock is done in the Pueblo Charade socks:
Pueblo Charade socks
I also have about half the foot of the second sock done as well, I just didn't take a picture of it.

I decided to try to make a hat. I dug through the stash for a something approriate, found a cool pattern on Ravelry and cast on this:
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Now, of course, I don't like it. It's really, really, really, tedious to do. And it is taking forEVer. I worked on it furiously for a couple evenings, then put it down, and I'm now watching it collect dust. Ick.

I also am on my third try in my quest to find a lace scarf pattern that will work for my Hand Maiden Mini Maiden wool & silk. The dark color, though, is making it difficult. My first try totally crashed and burned. The pattern had a 24-row repeat with every row being different--ssk's, purl 2 togs backwards and yo's on both sides of the work--and it drove me crazy. It was impossible to figure it out without looking at the pattern all the time, and the dark yarn made it hard to see what was going on. After 2 hours I had only 14 rows done and 3 of those contained mistakes that I could not find to fix no matter what I did. I enjoyed ripping it back. For my second try, I found a pattern I really liked and recklessly cast on before I realized that the pattern calls for 950 yards of yarn while my skein only had about 500 yards. So that got frogged too.

Now I'm doing the KnitPicks Candle Flame scarf, and it's OK. At least the rows make sense and are therefore relatively easy to follow:
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Here it is, after one 36-row repeat. It's OK, but I'm not in love.

Now Mom has requested a hat for Christmas, so I figured that should take priority. Unfortunately, she wants it to be powder blue, and I think that may be the only color that I don't have in my stash! Oh, well, guess I have to go to the yarn store! Too bad. :o)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

F.O.'s

It feels good to finish stuff. Lookie here:
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This is the scarf I made for my brother, which is now stashed in my cedar chest for Christmas. I didn't do fringe. Not sure that grown men really go for fringe. I used Plymouth Suri Merino, holding two strands together, and did the Yarn Harlot's One-Row Scarf. It could not have been easier, and the large needles made for fast work. The yarn was great: reasonably priced and very soft.

And TA DA!
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Anastasia socks in Misty Mountain Farm Jubilee sock yarn, the Virginia Creeper colorway. These are intended as another Christmas gift; I just tried them on for the photo because the pattern shows up better when there is a foot inside the sock.

I still love this yarn. The base yarn is very nice--soft and quite pleasant to knit with--but it 's not like it blew me away. I've worked with lots of yarn just as nice. The real attraction for me lies in the gorgeous colors and the shading. I love the way they work together. Unfortunately, my pictures just don't adequately convey how pretty this yarn is.

I also can't believe how much yarn there was in this skein. I have tons left over. TONS! I started making squares for the blanket Kay (of Mason Dixon Knitting) is making for Oliver's Fund. Two squares are done already and the yarn just keeps going and going. I think I can get at least another 3 squares with what I have left.
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Since I finished these 2 projects, I am allowed to start something new, preferably a gift scarf, possibly another Multidirectional Scarf or Chevron Scarf, but I am having trouble deciding. I have a few skeins already wound into balls, and I am feeling ball-winding guilt. I really should do something with those first, right? But what?

Meanwhile, I returned to the Pueblo Charade socks, made with Cider Moon Glacier yarn. I turned the heel on the first already. Ah, the speed of sportweight.
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These are another Christmas gift. This stitch pattern is very understated. I am very pleased. Still not in love with the yarn, though. It's the opposite of the Jubilee sock yarn: the base yarn here does blow me away. It's super soft, it flies through my fingers, and the fabric you get when you knit it has terrific stitch definition. Very nice. But the colors? Oy. My camera really darkens the copper color in this yarn. It's kind of ...hmm. Just imagine the contrast in color turned up about 3 notches and you have an idea of how stripy these socks actually look. Meh.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Nobody knows the Trouble he's Seen ...

It has not been a good year for Rudolph the Cat and doors.

Rudolph spends every night in the office, a very small bedroom in our house. We lock him in. It may seem cruel, but it is a comfortable room, complete with food, water, litter box, cat hammock. Rudolph generously shares his room with us, allowing is to park a couple desks, filing cabinet, the computer, a cushy office chair--oh, and a huge elliptical trainer--in there. We have to lock him in because he just doesn't behave at night. When we forget to lock him up, he spends tmost of the night howling: howling at the kids' bedroom doors, howling in the bathroom for water, howling at the back door to be let out. It's horrible.

The first thing we do in the morning is set him free. This morning, when I tried to let him out, the door wouldn't open. The knob turned, but the latch wouldn't open. I tried everything I could think of to get it open, without any luck. The kids were upset, but that was nothing compared to the cat's reaction. When Rudolph wasn't throwing his 18+ pounds at the door trying to let himself out, he was reaching his paw out to us from under the door as he cried, piteously, Let me out. (Or perhaps, I'm innocent!) Good God. CatCrazy daughter was beside herself.

The doorknobs on the upstairs bedrooms are your basic modern bed-and-bathroom doorknobs, locking with a pushbutton from the inside. When your child throws a hissy fit and locks you out of her room, all you need to do is insert an unbent paperclip or a No. 1 knitting needle into the little hole on the outside doorknob and pop! you can chastise your child face to face and avoid the more embarrassing yelling through the door method of discipline.

To be fair, we did have some warning that this doorknob was failing, and new doorknobs were already on my Home Depot shopping list. The doorknobs in this house are the usual level of quality and technology that we have come to expect from the craftsmen at Ryland Homes, the builders of this development. By this, of course, I mean that they were CRAP. Every time we have anything replaced or fixed in this house, the repairman looks at the item in something akin to disbelief at the sheer crappiness of it (either that or unabashed amazement at the item's having lasted this long). I figured it would be pretty easy to find replacement door knobs at Home Depot and that even the least expensive knobs available there would probably represent an upgrade. And, as I said, they were on my list--my long-term, yeah-someday-we'll-get-around-to-that list.

But I foolishly did not recognize the danger of this situation--I thought that if we had a serious problem we could always just use a screwdriver to take the doorknob off. Unfortunately, I did not notice that there were no screws on the outside of this doorknob, only on the inside. Oops. A screwdriver doesn't help you much when the door is stuck closed with you on the outside of it. This morning, the only living being on the inside of this door not only was without a screwdriver, he was without the opposable thumb and the necessary brainpower to unscrew this doorknob. So we were, in a word, screwed.

Because I had to drive the kids to school this morning, we planned to go as early as the schools would let them in so that I could zip to Home Depot afterward and get a new doorknob. I also decided to get new ones for MathBoy's door and the bathroom door, as both those knobs were starting to give us some trouble as well, and I realized a preemptive strike was needed. I also hoped Home Depot sold whatever kind of implement of destruction I would need to get the old doorknob off the door, or, at least, open it.

The friendly sales associate at Home Depot had a lot of sympathy for Rudolph ("Aww, poor kitty!"), but little in the way of suggestions for me. No, they do not carry any implements of destruction that would help me. No, he had no idea what I could do. When I grumbled about the lack of screws on the outside of the door, he quite solemly advised me that this was because of "security concerns." I pointed out that the doorknob might protect against a burglar with a screwdriver, but a burglar with a paperclip would have open access. He had no answer for that.

Anyway, a locksmith visit, some cracked molding and a hefty bill later, Rudolph was freed. As the locksmith started to hammer the molding back in place, Rudolph took off like a cartoon character with the feet spinning out to the side. But he's no worse now for his ordeal.
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There's nothing more soothing than resting in a bed of Webkinz. The new doorknobs were a breeze to install (the locksmith company thought they should do it to make sure it got done right, "hon," but I told them I could handle it. I am Woman; hear me roar. I can handle a screwdriver, dudes, thank you.

In other news, MathBoy earned his Brown Belt this weekend at his karate test.
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He did very well. If he works hard, he could very well be preparing for a Black Belt test at this time next year. (N.B. Just noticed the lovely can of OFF in the background. This is the house of clutter. Sorry!)

I have no new knitting pictures. I've just been working on the same projects, and none of them are done yet. The Anastasia socks only have an inch or so to go, however, and the One Row Scarf is cruising along as well.

Happy November!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Needles are Flying!

I finished the Zig Zaggy scarf. The Knit Picks yarn I used, Andean Silk, is an extremely soft alpaca, wool and silk blend. It is so soft, in fact, that I thought it might be too nice for my son, who was the intended recipient of this scarf. I thought about gifting it to my stepfather instead, on the assumption that he might appreciate it a bit more than a 10 yo. In the end, I decided to give it to MathBoy after all. The color choices and the zaniness of the stripes seemed more appropriate for a 10 yo than for Bill. Here it is:
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I am pretty happy with it, but not as happy as I was with the Chevron scarf. The whole thing got on my nerves by the time I was done. That often happens with scarves for me--I have a short knitting attention span. The Yarn Harlot said in one of her books that she has the attention span and the discipline of the average 3yo when it comes to knitting projects, and I think I am the same way. I love scarves until I am about halfway through them, then I hate them until they are done. This one in particular became annoying because of the color changes and the endless garter stitch. The striping, which seemed liked such a "fun innovation" when I began the scarf, became especially irritating. I was craving something more subtle.

That (combined with this week's 6 hours of continuing legal education) may be why I made such good progress on these socks:
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Anastasia Socks in Misty Mountain Farm Jubilee sock yarn, the Virginia Creeper colorway. I lovelovelove this yarn! It is so pretty and very soft. The muted colors of this yarn really appeal to me lately, so I have been much more eager to work on these socks than some of my other, more brightly colored projects. I also love the pattern and am very happy with the way the socks are shaping up. These are going to be a Christmas gift, and I do hope I've got the sizing right.

I also started this scarf, which is intended for my brother for Christmas:
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The pattern is the Yarn Harlot's one-row scarf. It is as easy as can be, reversible, and working up super-fast. I am holding together 2 strands of Plymouth Suri Merino (one handpaint, one plain), and using a 10 1/2 needles. This project is perfect mindless TV knitting, and I am really pleased with the heathery result of using the 2 strands of coordinated colors. Of course, I am not quite to the halfway point, which is about when I start to get tired of scarves. We'll see how happy I am with it in a few more days.

Meanwhile, I started another sock (remember that short attention span I mentioned). Here is my version of Charade, done toe-up instead of top down, in the Pueblo colorway of Cider Moon Glacier:
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I like this stitch pattern very much, but, although I like the feel of this yarn, I am not in love with the colorway. It's hard to put my finger on why; it may be the intense contrast between the coppery color as opposed to the blues and the greens. This picture does not depict the colors withe perfect accuracy--the copper is somewhat lighter and brighter IRL. Oh well. Meh. I am making these for my mom for Christmas, but I feel a little bad about the fact that I don't love the color. Hopefully she'll like it.

Next up: I am thinking of doing another Chevron with this color combo:
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Zen String Serendipity Sport in Aubergine and November. I can't wait to give it a try to see if these colors will work together. But I have to finish the Suri Merino scarf and the Anastasia socks first--I have more than enough projects going right now, even with my knitting ADD.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Clematis Needles & Harmony Socks. Oh, oops.

OK, family: this is a 100% knitting entry, so you may want to skip it.

The Fiesta Boomerang socks are almost done. Man, that sportweight knits up fast! I used size 2 needles for the foot and leg of the socks, and size 1.5 for the ribbing at the top. Look at the new needles I got just in time to do the ribbing on these socks:
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The new Knit Picks Harmony dpns. I ordered these because I really needed a set of size 1.5 needles and could not find them anywhere. The very nice ladies at my LYS looked at me like I had two heads when I asked for size 1.5 needles, and they seemed to be pretty scarce online as well. I just happened to stop by the Knit Picks website one day and, lo and behold, the Harmony needles had just been added to their website. These needles are great: very pointy, very smooth, good price. I absolutely love these needles. (In fact, the full sock set would be a great gift for my birthday, if anyone would like to drop a hint in my hubby's ear....) I included the needles in this picture because I thought it was a funny (but unfortunate) coincidence how they match this yarn. I enjoy the pretty and unusual colors of the Harmony needles, but it actually is somewhat of a drawback that the colors are a bizarrely perfect match to the colors of the yarn.

I had a little surprise the other day when I wound up my Misty Mountain Farm yarn in the Virginia Creeper colorway. I had thought it looked quite nice in the skein--obviously, or I would not have bought it--but I was totally unprepared for just how gorgeous the colors would be when it was wound up. Ever since, it has had me under its spell, calling to me with its lovely mauves, grays, blues, browns and greens. I finally gave in yesterday. Look at how pretty it is:
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It's a little splitty, but it's soft and I'm totally in love with the colors.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

I Heart Fall!

I sure wish it would come back! It's too darn hot here in NJ right now. But they say it will be nice again by this weekend, so there's light at the end of the tunnel.

We have all settled into our Fall routines, although Rich's work has been keeping him running around. There's light at the end of that tunnel, too, as he thinks things should calm down after this week. MathBoy is having fun playing "fall ball" (baseball), and Cat Crazy Girl has got soccer. We started with a different piano school, which seems to be OK, and we put a deposit down on a Real Piano. Cat Girl's honeymoon with her new teacher is not over yet--she still is very happy. Mathboy is happy, too. It's all good.

But before we say a final goodbye to Summer, let's relive that week at the beach with a few pix:

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What a gorgeous week. By the way, have you ever noticed how many more pix there always are of Cat Girl than of MathBoy? We're not quite sure how it happens, but it happens all the same. She's such a ham. MathBoy did a lot of digging and building this trip, Cat Girl spent a lot of time searching for starfish, and they both did a lot of wave jumping.

Here are some more goodies: First, the Zig-Zaggy Scarf:
Multidirectional diagonal scarf 2
This pattern is fun and easy, and the yarn, Knit Picks Andean Silk, is very nice. In fact, this yarn is so soft, I wonder if it isn't too nice for MathBoy. I got it during a summer sale, so it really was inexpensive, but it's sooooo soft. It may not quite stand up to the demands of an 11-year old. Dunno about this one.

My Finished Chevron-y Scarf. I post only a small picture, because the colors here got messed up by my software, and I deleted the original picture:
Chevron finished
The software turned the pinks into tomato-y reds, and the leaf green became kind of chartreuse. Ick. It looks much better in real life. I had enough of the dark Schaefer Lola to edge almost the entire thing. In fact, I got within 3 inches of the end with the right yarn. I couldn't believe it! So close! I hunted through my stash and found some old sportweight navy superwash to finish it up, and that worked out fine. After the edging and blocking, this project turned out great (if I say so myself). Now to decide who will get it for Christmas....

Some Rockin' Sock Club Solstice Slip Sock goodness:
Solstice Slip sock
Yeah, I know it was the June shipment. I'm only a few months late. I like the pattern very much. I like the addition of the gusset to the garter stitch short row heel: the results are very good. I think I would like to try this pattern again in the future with a more sedate colorway so that the stitch would stand out more.

And an unexpected case of startitis caused the casting on of this:
Fiesta Clematis Sock
I did Wendy's toe-up sportweight pattern with the gusset heel, adding a lacy "V" pattern to keep my brain involved. The yarn is Fiesta Boomerang, in the Clematis colorway, purchased from the Loopy Ewe. This yarn is reeeeeeeeally nice: soft and spongy, and incredibly easy and fast to knit. I mean, look at this: one sock done already? Sportweight socks are so quick. And it helps that the Phillies are keeping us watching quite a bit lately at night, and it's easy to knit while cheerin' 'em on.

I love this sock, and already cast on the second. I know it looks a little clunky laid out like this, but it fits the foot very nicely. It's quite comfy. :o)

Off to do some paid work so I can watch the Fightin' Phils tonight. Tied for first for the wildcard! Woohoo!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Back into the Swing of Things

We had a lovely time at the shore for the last week of August. It was so relaxing. The weather was great, the water was perfect, the waves were fun, the kids are old enough that you don't have to be standing over them the entire time.... It was awesome. All too soon, our week was over and we had to pack up and go home. We returned Labor Day Weekend, just to be thrown RIGHT onto the hamster wheel of life, what with soccer, fall baseball, piano, school and work all demanding that we get our heads back in the game right away.

Finally, I can show you the progress I made during that idyllic time at the shore, while we all watched the Phillies on the TV in our beach house after pleasantly exhausting days riding the waves and digging in the sand.

First up, the hated The Knittery merino/cashmere socks. Lookie, lookie--I finished one and started another. Good knitter, good.
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Next, considerable progress was made on the Bigfoot sock for Rich, using the Dream in Color Smooshy sock yarn in Cocoa Kiss. Still loving this yarn. I do hope the sock fits Rich OK, he would not try it on for me, so I had to guess at the length.
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And finally, I finished the knitting on the Chevron Scarf. It looks wonderful. I have been putzing around trying to find an appropriate edging, though. I think it looks naked on the side without some kind of edging. First (Plan A) I tried an applied i-cord a la Kay's tutorial from Mason Dixon Knitting. This looked great, but there was no way my li'l ball of dark Schaeffer Lola was going to be enough to edge the entire scarf, so I ripped that out. I tried the i-cord with the lighter yarn, which I seem to have more of, but that looked stupid so I ripped that out too. Plan B: Now I am doing a modified version of the i-cord, using only 2 stitches instead of 4 and making a stitch when I knit up from the scarf's side. I am satisfied with the result. It gives the pattern a nice frame, and even makes the wrong side look so much cleaner.
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I am praying that I have enough yarn. If I don't, I will have to rethink the entire idea. I may end up doing a single crochet instead (ugh) or finding a similar color yarn. I hope I won't need to find a Plan C (Fingers crossed).

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Tale of Two WIPs

Here are my latest socks, "take 2" in the Knittery merino/cashmere blend, using the Stansfield 12 stitch from More Sensational etcs's. I frogged my first sock-attempt, which had a broad spiraling cable. Now I am using Wendy's fingering weight toe-up/gusset/slip stitch heel pattern. I think the color of this yarn is lovely, but--God help me--I really, really don't like working with it. This sock may very well end up being a single, because I am truly starting to think that life is just too short to work with yarn you don't like. Besides, it's killing my hands. In fact, the only reason this sock got this far was that it was the only knitting I brought on our trip to San Fran a couple of weeks ago, and we had a long wait on the tarmac before our plane took off. I was trapped with only one WIP. What's a knitter to do?
Stansfield 12 socks
On the other hand, we have this project: a chevron scarf worked in contrasting shades of Schaeffer Lola. I love this scarf. Really. I think about it when I'm working on the sock. I think about it when I am falling asleep at night. The way the colors play off each other and the lovely zigzag stitches...I love it.
Chevron Scarf

But.... The scarf has a dirty little secret--two, actually.
It definitely has a wrong side, and the edges curl pretty badly. I am hoping that the blocking and a good edging will take care of the curling edges, but I do wish I had thought to add 3 or so knit stitches at each edge for a selvedge. Oops. And I guess I can deal with the wrong side-thing--I really will have to, at this point. From the outset, I fully understood that this was not a reversible stitch (I did try to make it so, but did not like the result). So, there you have it.

I'm making quick progress on the scarf, because I love the colors and the yarn, and because it's rather nice working on a regular straight needle for a change, and a whopping size 5 at that (as opposed to the size 1 and 2 dpns)! Every time I pick up the Knittery socks I am newly irritated by the yarn and the stitch. So....
New sock. Super-yummy Dream in Color Smooshy sock yarn in Cocoa Kiss. Basic ribbing on the instep, intended for Rich. Now this is sock yarn. The colors are beautiful and subtle, and the feel is wonderful. It just flies through my fingers. I love it.

Bad knitter, bad.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Weird Pooling

What happened?This is Zen String Serendipity Sport in the Sedona colorway. Really beautiful in the skein, the intense blues and brown contrast very sharply. I had some neat striping going on in the toe. But then ... it got weird.
The yarn feels incredible. It was a joy to knit with, and it is incredibly soft and cushiony on my feet. It just loooks weird. Oh well. I used size 2 needles and did Wendy's toe-up, sportweight, gusset heel pattern. I'm not sure I like the method for making the toe, but I am extremely happy with the heel. It was really easy to do and is very comfortable on my foot. For the instep and leg, I used a mock cable rib.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

I'm having trouble concentrating on my work.

There's a big cat in the middle of it. I throw him down, but he just keeps jumping back up and shaking the entire computer station. He's so big that his paws sometimes hang down and push on the keys. I mean, come on. My typing is bad enough on its own.

The worst thing? There's no room for my coffee.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Ain't it KYOOOOT?

First, I would like to make an announcement regarding an addition to the family. This Rav4 joined our family this past Tuesday, arriving at approximately 5:22 p.m., seating 4 or 5 comfortably, getting 25+ mpg, and having only 44 miles on the odometer. Isn't it a-DOR-able? So far it has been extremely well-behaved and we are crossing our fingers that it remains so for a very long time. The late unlamented Green Machine was a spoiled brat from the get-go, always wanting new things and never satisfied--gimme new hoses, gimme new tires, gimme a new computer chip, gimme a new strut tower. There was always something.

And some random pictures: First up is Karate Kitty and the kind boy who let his sister wear his karate uniform for her "costume day" at camp. She wore an extra white belt we had hanging around and one of her many pairs of cat ears. Math Boy tried to show her some moves to add authenticity.Next is a pic of my latest finished pair of socks. This is a design I put together from More Sensational Knitted Socks, by Charlene Schurch. I did her "Easy Toe" ("easy" my eye, by the way) and a basic short row heel, and used a knit and purl triangle pattern on the instep and leg. This is sport yarn so I used size 2 needles. The yarn is Cider Moon Glacier in the Grand Canyon colorway, purchased from The Loopy Ewe.
I lovelovelove this yarn. It is incredibly soft and the colors are really vibrant. I am not sure if my camera and computer monitor are doing this colorway justice. While I was working on these, though, I had a somewhat scandalous thought. I actually began to wonder if perhaps ... and I hate to admit that this occurred to me ... but I wondered if this yarn might be .... please forgive me ... too nice for socks?

Not that it stopped me, but it did make me wonder about how you choose certain projects, stitches and patterns to fit the yarn. The Cider Moon Glacier is amazing, but I do wonder if perhaps it would have been better to make a scarf with it or mittens or a hat--something that would really showcase the vibrant oranges, pinks, reds and blues and take advantage of the incredible softness of this merino. I also began to question my choice to use the triangle pattern for the instep and leg; in retrospect, I think plain stockinette throughout would have been better. Look at the difference between the sole and the instep in this picture. The triangles are totally lost in the confusion of the color changes in the yarn. Oh, well. It's a good lesson.

I do have another skein of this gorgeous stuff, same colorway. I think it is crying out to be a chevron scarf. With the complexity of this colorway, I don't think I will even need a contrast color to stripe with it. But will one hank (about 250 yards) do a whole chevron scarf? Hm.

I am almost done Math Boy's socks in the Claudia Handpaint. While I was waiting at Barnes and Noble for Harry Potter 7 on Friday night (Cat Crazy Girl went to the store party as Ginny Weasley, complete with red hair; Math Boy chose to be incognito), I started a new sock with wool/cashmere yarn by The Knittery. I must admit, I think I may finally have found a sock yarn I don't like. I am going to keep working on it, but so far I am not enjoying this yarn at all. It may have cashmere in it, but it does not seem that soft in comparison to the Cider Moon. I am also having some splitting issues, which are making it difficult to enjoy doing the cable pattern I chose to use for the instep. It also has much less elasticity than the other yarns I have been using recently, and is kind of hard on my hands. The colors are very beautiful, much more subtle than the Cider Moon Grand Canyon, so I splurged and bought two skeins of this stuff. Maybe if I go up a size in needles it will be easier to knit with it. Or maybe it should go to someone else's house via eBay. We'll see.

Update 8/6/07: Going up from a size 1 needle to a 1.5 greatly improved the knitting feel of the yarn. But now the colors are pooling in a way I don't really like, so I will probably rip the whole thing out and try a different pattern. Maybe if I use it for socks for Rich instead of me the change in foot diameter will help with the colors.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

A non-knitting post: A Tough Week

It's been a tough week for some of the supporting characters at Maison Sydney.

Here is Rudolph, wearing the dreaded Collar of Discomfort and approximately 4 inches shorter, overall, than he used to be.

Last Friday, Cat Crazy Daughter and I were returning from a day out. Daughter swung the door leading from the kitchen to the garage closed. As this rather heavy door was closing, Rudolph suddenly and somewhat belatedly decided to dash through it. As you can see, he did not quite make it.

After two vet visits, tail surgery, many forced doses of cat antibiotics, I imagine he considers this NOT to be the best week of his life. Cat Crazy Daughter has not been taking it well, either, as she feels responsible. She is not, of course--it could have happened to anyone--but she is having trouble accepting that.

Here is the evil door--the evildoer, you might say. This is the same door that did a number on my ring finger in February. It's a very heavy door, and it shuts hard. My fingernail is only just now back to normal.










Another supporting character in our household that is having a tough week: the Van. This is a picture of the top of the strut tower. Last week, I had never even heard of such a thing, but now, only one short week later, I have read a lot about what can happen to the driver's side strut tower on a ridiculously large number of minivans made between 1996 and 2000 by the wonderful Chrysler family of car manufacturers.

Do you all see that rust? It doesn't look that bad to me. But apparently it is quite bad. VERY, VERY BAD. So bad, apparently, that we were told to "ditch this car as soon as possible," and to "go car shopping now." If we don't want to do the major body work required to replace the front left corner of the car--and who wants to spend that kind of $$ on a van that has 102,000 miles and is on the verge of needing major engine work, as well?--then we need a new car. Now, apparently.

Unnerving. I did go straight to another dealership to test drive something built with a bit more quality, I hope. I also went to another mechanic to get a second opinion. He was even more adamant that this was a safety issue. "Can't it get through the summer?" I asked. But apparently there is no way of knowing how long this could hold up, and we really, really don't want to see what would happen if it gave way. As I drove it away, he told me to "drive very carefully," and to "have a safe day." OK, I was officially freaked out after that.

The one funny thing about this is the way the mechanics started talking in the hushed tones of a doctor telling you that a beloved relative is at death's door. "Let go," one guy said to me. "Move on." If the safety issue weren't so serious, I would have laughed at him for thinking that I was that attached to this van. I can't wait to get rid of it. But it just wasn't in the budget for the summer, you know? Come to think of it, cat tail surgery wasn't in the budget, either.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Still Life with Sockz and Webkinz

I finished the socks for Cat Crazy Girl: Crystal Palace Panda Cotton in the Vanilla Cream colorway. These were done toe-up, with short-row heels and toes, on size 0 needles. I used a lace rib pattern on the instep and the leg. My first picture had the socks posing with my mutant zucchini plant, but that turned out blurry. The socks looks better here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hersheypark Happy!

Hersheypark glad! Everyone remember that jingle from those TV ads in the '70s, or was it the '80s? Anyway. How's this for a Hersheypark Happy Face? Believe it or not, she really wanted to greet the Kiss Dude, it was only when Rich whipped out the camera and wanted to take a picture that this expression appeared. Well, the Kiss and the Webkinz look happy.

Hershey was a lot of fun. We did not get a lot of pictures, though. I think we were too busy. After 3 days of it, in fact, I think we were relieved to go home. We wore ourselves out.

We did take a very nice buggy ride in the Amish Country. That was pretty relaxing. The countryside around there is so beautiful, but we began to feel uncomfortable with the way the Amish people themselves seemed to be a tourist attraction. It was almost like they were like fish in a bowl. We passed one crummy-looking motor-lodge called the Amish View Inn. There were crummy looking plastic chairs set up in front of each room facing the road. Can you guess what was across the road? Yep, it was the Amish View. An Amish farm was there, and, coincidentally, there was a farmer working there at the very moment we passed. We saw the farmer, the crummy chairs facing his lovely field, and the name of the crummy motel, and it made us feel kind of ... crummy. We drove back to Hershey, with its strangely animated candybar characters.

And here, I finished one sock for Math Boy. Yes, I know I haven't finished Cat's second Panda Cotton Sock, but I could not resist starting something with this yarn as soon as I got it. It is Claudia Handpaint in the sport weight, in the Boot Camp colorway. This yarn is fabulous! It is so smooshy and bouncy. I love it the feel of it and I love this color. I simplified the "Inside Out" pattern from the Rockin' Sock Club to make this sock--essentially it's just a 2x1 rib with garter stitch short-row heel and toe. Super easy. I used size 1 needles for the toe, foot and heel, and 2s for the leg. That is Math Boy's foot, modeling the sock. His feet are almost as big as mine now!

I know I said that I did not like the fingering weight of the Claudia yarn when I used it for a scarf in February, but this sport weight is great! To be honest, my scarf may not have been the best project for that yarn. Anyway, I love this and probably will use it again.