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.