Sunday, December 30, 2007

Fit to be Tied

Well, the Monkeys in Birches socks will fit me. Last night I knit most of one foot and slipped it on and voila! If I were the type to keep score, I would have said it was my turn for a pair of socks anyway.

The fit of the red-red-red sweater/hoodie is another matter. While nearing the armpits of the body, I found myself wondering, Is this going to be big enough? I checked the gauge (correct), measured the width (difficult to do with the lace and the circular needles), and finally took it off the needles so I could actually try it on. Well. It is a bit... fitted. Because of the lace up the front, I definitely need to wear something under it, and that something had better be form-fitting because there will not be much space between the sweater and me. I wondered why it fit so snug, so I went over the size info. Uh-oh. Where it said 42 inch bust, it meant that was the actual measurement of the hoodie, whereas I took it to mean the size was for a 42-inch bust. Argh!

So. What to do? I decided to plow ahead while trying to convince myself that blocking will add an inch (to the sweater, not to me) and that maybe I can lose 10 pounds really, really fast. (HA!) And I will stop referring to it as a hoodie since it is definitely going to be more sweater-like.

On a sad note, today is the last day of my xmas vacation. I have to go back to work tomorrow. *sigh* I had a great time the past 10 days, partly because instead of fouling my time off with to-do lists, then stressing over how much I did not get done, I just went with the flow and pretended I was retired and time was not of the essence. Not a bad way to live.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Knitting Today

Yesterday my SO and I ventured forth, heading north to a LYS one of my co-workers had visited recently. Knitting Today has been in business for about 15 years, the first eight online-only. The owner (whose name I neglected to get) is friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable, and the yarn selection wide. Some of the brands I was familiar with, but many were new to me. I came prepared to buy, though, and buy I did.

Here we have Zarina Print "Blues" which is a merino superwash destined to become a baby blanket.



I haven't even cast on yet, but I can tell this yarn will be a joy to work with, as it has a nice spring to it.

And my SO picked out this Di.Ve Autunno, for a new scarf:



It's also merino.

And this Classic Elite Inca Marl in "Tobacco Road" is for a special pair of socks for my special son-in-law:



Mmmmm - alpaca. My daughter will make sure these are hand washed.

Knitting Off Broadway is supposed to have their grand opening today, but the weather is so crappy (slush is falling from the sky) that I did not try to go. Their website is not up yet, so I'm wondering if they are ready for prime time.

And I learned from Knitting Today that there is another yarn store opening in the Fort, on North Anthony. My informants have been notified to keep an eye out.

Meanwhile, I am almost ready to attach the sleeves of the red-red-red sweater-hoodie and start the yoke.



Besides being seamless, this sweater is destined to be purl-less as well. To accomplish this, the hood may have to become a snood. We'll see how that works out. Every project is an experiment!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Two Steps Back, Two Steps Forward

I let the red-red-red sweater/hoodie ferment for a few weeks and finally faced the fact that, despite my original protestations, I could not go forward until I went back. Those extra stitches would not be apparent to anyone else, but they were right in the middle of the front of the garment and I would always know they were there. So yesterday I decided to make like a frog and rip-it back 18 rounds. And, actually, picking up 190 stitches in the round and reknitting those 18 rows (3420 stitches) was not all that bad. Now I can move forward.

This morning a little snow fell, so everything has a thin coat of white icing. I'm glad my son got out of Dodge before the roads slicked up, but whenever he leaves, it's like a little knife to the heart. I would support my kids in the pursuit of their dreams, even if it meant their moving halfway around the world, but I take a secret pleasure in the fact they haven't wandered too far afield.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

NaKniSweMo?

I don't know which came first, the novel or the blog-entry-a-day thingy for November, but someone wants us to knit a sweater during the month of November as well as write a blog entry each day and write a novel (and who knows what else). Do these people think of November as a particularly slow month? With Thanksgiving and the beginning of the xmas season? I think January or February would be better for all these activities. Those are two very slow and boring months around here, especially since we get so little snow.

Yesterday, the weather was just right for a hike in the woods, though. My son and I headed for Vandolah Nature Preserve for some fresh air and a little exercise. Neither of us had been there before, but it has a nice walking trail and interesting land and creeks and a marsh. And, unfortunately, a highway that runs through it. There was enough traffic to be disturbing; I can't imagine what it is like on a regular business day. Still, walking amongst the trees, inspecting animal tracks, listening to birds, etc. is very restorative.

Last night, my daughter came over and the three of us played Uno and laughed until I nearly wet my pants. A perfect end to xmas day.

Oh, and I knitted some on the Monkeys in Birches socks. The heels are turned and I'm into the homestretch.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Surprise!

At last, the xmas surprise can be revealed. But first, a little bit about xmas tradition.

My maternal grandparents were from Denmark, and my mother carried on a few Danish xmas customs while I was growing up. The one we kids liked best was opening presents on xmas eve instead of xmas day. When I married, I suggested continuing this tradition, but my husband preferred xmas morning.

Well, he is my ex now, and my daughter now has in-law duty on xmas day, so a logical step this year was to reinstitute the xmas eve tradition. We had our xmas dinner last night - which must have been good because all conversation stopped while we filled our pie holes (and there is a recipe at the end of this post) - then my son started a fire in the rarely used fireplace...



... and we opened presents.

And was my daughter surprised when she pulled Elizabeth out of her xmas bag!



The story behind Elizabeth is a mystery. None of us can remember where she came from or why she rarely had any clothes. I think she may have been a substitute for a Cabbage Patch doll. Except for the Magic Marker on her face, she is very lifelike, so much so that I was afraid to leave her in view from the picture window lest someone see her and call Child Protective Services about that baby that is just laying there on the coffee table - and without a leg! (Her legs come off periodically.) And, in case you are wondering, the Magic Marker was a misguided attempt to give Elizabeth some hair, which my daughter blames on her brother. Natch.

Anyway, when my daughter handed over Elizabeth at Thanksgiving so I could fix her leg, I got the idea of knitting her an outfit. I used the yarn leftover from the Neverending Afghan and a free pattern from Lion Brand called "Cabled Baby Set".

The odd thing about this pattern is everything is knit flat and seamed together. I'm not very good at sewing seams, though, so I need to redo a couple that turned out particularly awful. Also, I got confused about turning the ribbing and stitched that up backwards, too. So I still have Elizabeth while I correct my mistakes.

Here is a gallery of the xmas surprise:

The first hat I have knit flat:



I was concerned about running out of pink yarn, so I striped the sleeves and back of the sweater:



Besides the above hat and sweater, the outfit includes pants and booties:



And here is Elizabeth, aka Chuckie, in her new xmas outfit:



And a view from the back:



And into the bag she goes!



And, as promised, a recipe. I don't know where I got this, and they are not a Danish tradition, but they are really, really, really good.

Miniature Pecan Pies

Crust:
      1/2 c. butter or oleo
      1 3oz. pkg cream cheese
      1 c. sifted flour

Let cream cheese and butter soften at room temperature. Blend. Stir in flour. Chill about 1 hour. Shape into 1-inch balls (about 2 dozen) and place in ungreased mini muffin cups. Press dough in bottom and up sides of cup.

Filling:
      1 egg
      3/4 c. brown sugar
      1 T. butter
      1 t. vanilla
      dash of salt
      2/3 c. chopped pecans

Beat together egg, sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Add half of the pecans and pour into dough cups. Top with remaining pecans. Bake at 325 until filling is well set, about 30 minutes. Cool, then remove from pans.

And put them where the dog cannot reach them!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Hoppy Halidays!

Whew! After battling a sinus infection for the past week or so, Saturday night I came down with a 24-hour bug of some sort. Suspiciously, my SO was sick as well, and we contemplated that it was something we ate, but we had not eaten anything in common. He did not get as sick, but yesterday I was down for the count. It gave me an excuse to glue my butt to the couch, watch football (very boring games), and stitch up the xmas surprise. Pix soon, I promise.

Speaking of pix, I don't think I ever posted a pic of the Jaywalkers.



They turned out too small for me, but the pattern has instructions for a larget size, so I will make myself a pair. Eventually. Details on this pair can be found here.

In other knitting news, I joined the Knitting Blog ring (see links on sidebar), but I (obviously) don't have a graphic for it yet.

And I am still working on the Monkeys in Birches socks, the red-red-red sweater/hoodie, the lace shawl, the Blue Lagoon baby blanket. But they will have to wait until another day, because I have baking, cooking, and cleaning to do.

Enjoy the holidays!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sweating It

I finished the Trekking socks with 7g of yarn remaining. As you recall, this skein weighed in a bit short, and toward the end, I kept eyeing the remainder, wondering if I would have to frog back a bit or switch to another sock yarn to finish the toes. But no, plenty of yarn leftover.



Once again, I worked from both ends of the skein.



Details:
Yarn: Zitron Trekking XXL in color 82
Needles: US1
Pattern: Six-stitch pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks using twin rib stitch

And finishing one pair of socks freed up the needles for another pair:



The yarn is the Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in "birches" (and I weighed the skein, just to see, and it is a generous 105g). The pattern is "Monkey" from Knitty. It seems like I am knitting it too tight but the gauge is right-on, at least as far as I can tell with this zigzag lace stitch, but we shall see. If the socks are too small for me, I am sure my daughter will give them a home. And then I can play with the pattern to make a pair big enough for my gigundo feet and calves.

One reason I have made such nice progress on Monkey in Birches is I have been ignoring everything else and I stayed home today (okay, that's two reasons). My on-again, off-again bug decided to turn into a sinus infection. So I actually (some would say finally) went to the doctor. I hate going to the doctor because you have to beg for an appointment, and then once you get the appointment and show up on time, you wait forever to see the doctor, and then frequently his nurse is on the verge of a meltdown, etc. But today it was different, maybe because he has a new nurse. And a new haircut. My stylist says it's "in" but it shouldn't be, at least not for men in their 40's. It would be like my wearing a mini skirt. Oh, well. At least I was in and out of there in 20 minutes, a new all-time record. But then I took my Rx to Walgreens, where there was a 40-minute wait. I waited at home.

P.S. Today my neighbor across the street ran his snow blower up and down my drive again. I have the best neighbors!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Finished Object!

Yesterday, with the weather predictions being what they were, I decided it would be prudent to finish the Lopi mittens. As you may recall, they had turned out different sizes, so I actually reknit most of mitten #2, but they were still different. Well, so what? They are for me to use shoveling snow. End of story.



I wore them to walk the dog, and they were quite... airy. My hands were warm enough, but the breeze moved right through the fabric. Hmmm. Maybe they will felt up a bit with use.

Well, I got to use them today.



My neighbor across the street bought a new snow blower yesterday, and he could not resist my driveway, but I still got out there for a while with my back-saving snow shovel. And the mittens were perfect. Usually, my hands get hot and sweaty, but the mittens repel moisture while letting my hands breathe. Just right!

Now that I am inside, warm and dry, I am hoping to finish the Trekking socks today as well, because look what arrived in the mail the other day:

Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in "Birches"...



... Cherry Tree Hill Supersock in "Serengeti"...



... and Interlacements Toasty Toes in color 202.



I have a tendency to pick paint and yarn by their names, but what would you call that last one? Turkish Turban? Persian Carpet? Intense, is what I call it.

So, you see why I have to finish the Trekking socks, don't you? That, or buy more DPNs.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Yoga Yogi

Last night my daughter and I went to the Kachmann Mind Body Institute to participate in a "Yoga Basics" class. We like! The facility downtown includes an art gallery which is where the class takes place. So not only are you surrounded by artwork, there are no mirrors! The last yoga class I participated in was in a dance studio and there were entire walls of mirrors; when I performed the Triangle, I could see how my face sagged - I looked like I was having a stroke. Anyway, we like Kachmann. The Lafayette location is near where my daughter lives and they are opening a studio at Lutheran Hospital, which is near where each of us works, and they are going to have a third location at the Dupont Hospital, near where I live. No only convenient for us, emergency services are a step away!

I located the two locations where I inadvertently added stitches to the red-red-red sweater/hoodie. Whatever I did, I did it twice, so I am considering frogging back to the most recent one (only six rows - wah!), just to see what it was I did wrong so I don't do it again. Considering it. No forward progress until I make my decision.

Yesterday at lunch I did another 10 rounds on the Trekking socks, and this time it took only about 40 minutes. Maybe I just need to get used to socks again, after working on projects using US7 (sweater, xmas surprise) and US10 (blanket) size needles.

During NaPoBloMo, I was able to post to my blog from my computer at work. A good thing, too, or I would never have made it. But now, the Powers That Be have cranked up the Internet security (again!), so I can read blogs but I cannot update mine or leave comments on others. Curses! Foiled again! I'm contemplating switching over to WordPress, as that site is reachable... so far - there are no guarantees. And if I wait awhile, someone higher up the food chain than me will complain, and access to blogger will return.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hiberknition

I am not a native Hoosier but I grew up in the Midwest, so when I first arrived in Indiana, the almost constant gray of its winter was a bit of a surprise. I am not affected by SAD, but still. This weather is growing tiresome. If I could stay home and hibernate, it would not seem so bad, but I actually have to go out and drive to work while slush falls from the sky. Ick.

The missing stitch on the red-red-red (are you getting tired of that phrase yet?) sweater/hoodie magically reappeared, but now I have two extra stitches. There is nothing like the body of a 190-stitch-per-round sweater to make one lose one's attachment to perfectionism. No way am I ripping out 1900 stitches of stockinette (I think that is where the offending stitches multiplied - it's hard to tell because of the lace pattern crawling up the front). Jeeze - I never thought about just how many stitches a sweater takes. Hmmm... 190 stitches per round, 6 rounds per inch, tap-tap-tap on the calculator - that's 17,100 stitches just for the below-the-armpit section of the torso. Yikes! Some things are better left unknown.

The Blue Lagoon blanket is also loosening my grip on perfectionism, at least as far as slavishly following a pattern goes. I made some modifications to the Sweet Cherries pattern because I wanted to carry the yarn up the side but it was too difficult with odd numbers of rows for some colors. The Blue Lagoon does not suffer from this problem, but the pattern looks like water, so I'm going with a more random version of the pattern repeats. Just for fun. After all, it is all garter stitch, so I feel compelled to inject something different to stave off the boredom. And I am not carrying the yarn up the side; instead, I break off and knit the ends in as I go. This results in less yarn wrangling. The blues are very soothing, too, so this is an enjoyable diversion.

Unlike the Trekking socks. Yesterday at lunch, it took me nearly an hour to knit ten rounds on the sole. That's 780 stitches, 780 tiny stitches on 4 tiny needles. This is why we knitters work on multiple projects at one time. When one is driving us nuts, we can give it a time out and pick up its jealous sister for a while.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

I Love Sundays

The weather outside is frightful, so it's a good thing I have no place to go and nothing to do, just like most Sundays.







Even though the power went out briefly this morning - it was sleeting at the time, and shortly afterwards there were sirens, so someone either hit a pole and caused the outage or the outage may have contributed to an accident - things are now cozy and warm inside, where I am knitting up a storm to counter the ice storm warning crawling across the bottom of the TV screen.

The surprise xmas gift is coming along nicely. (No pix - it's a surprise.) The Trekking socks are past the gusset.



I have used three skeins of yarn on my six-skein red-red-red sweater/hoodie, so that means I'm half done, right?





And yet, I could not resist starting something new.



In the past few years, several neices and nephews have married and I'm a little surprised none has announced an impending pregnancy yet, but I want to be prepared. When I first started knitting again, I went a little nuts and bought enough Lion Brand Baby Soft and Microspun yarn to make three blankets. I completed the Sweet Cherries quite a while ago, and it is still sitting in the FO drawer, awaiting a recipient. It must be lonely because now I am working on the Blue Lagoon. I'm not really a fan of Microspun because it is splitty and the skein falls apart too easily. I solved the latter problem by stuffing the skein into the leg of an old nylon. Kind of weird looking, but it does the trick. Other than remembering which colors to switch to when, this is a no-brainer project that I may take to work and just keep there. On US 10 needles, it goes fairly quickly, too.

Oh, and here is a belated bday gift from my SO:



It's a turntable for big cones of yarn!

Hmmm. Weather frightful --> fire delightful. Maybe it's a good day to use the fireplace.



Or not.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Case of the Missing Stitch

I was working on the red-red-red sweater/hoodie last night and, as is my wont, I decided to count stitches to make sure there were still 190 on the needles. Oops. Only 189. Since I am counting-challenged, I checked again. Still 189. I inspected the fabric, looking in vain for the dropped stitch. Was I blind? Had I miscounted from the start, and on every recounted round since? It was driving me mad, so I gave up and went to bed.

This afternoon, I decided I would find that missing stitch if it killed me. I gathered some notions to help mark off the stitches and was about to start parsing the whole thing, when I decided to count stitches one more time. 190. Hmmm. I told you I was counting-challenged! In my defense, last night I was coming down with a cold, which necessitated staying home from work today to sleep away the germs. So, either I miscounted, or the missing stitch magically appeared after being AWOL for almost 24 hours.

A little tired of the red-red-red, I switched back to the Trekking socks (remember those? I have been neglecting them of late.) I had started the gusset decreases on one sock, and decided to pick up the gusset stitches on the other before continuing with any decreases. Believe is or not, somehow in the process of picking up stitches for the gusset, I managed to lose a stitch on not one, but both socks. This won't be a problem until I reach the toe decreases, where the instep will have 39 stitches and the sole only 38. Maybe if I sleep on this problem, the missing stitches will magically appear. Again.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Because I Deserve It

I live in a three-bedroom house. I sleep in the master bedroom (natch!) but the other two bedrooms are generally useless except as repositories of stuff, one for mostly yarn-type stuff, the other mostly paper-like stuff. When my son came to visit at Thanksgiving, I cleared out the yarn-stuff room enough for him to sleep there. But one night, after he and a bud were out partaking of adult beverages, he and said bud had to shovel the paper-stuff off the bed in the paper-stuff room so the bud could crash there. So I decided one bedroom should become a paperless, yarnless guest bedroom.

Which means the other bedroom can now become My Home Office!

Sunday morning I took to shoving furniture about, so now the guest bedroom contains both a double bed and a twin bed (and a fold-up cot under the twin bed, but god knows where that could be set up) and a used-to-be-a-printer-stand-but-is-temporarily-an-ugly-nightstand-with-a-cute-lamp and an old rocking chair. (There is also a file cabinet in there, acting as another temporary-nightstand-with-a-cute-lamp, but that may get moved to My Home Office.) The closet is full of old computer equipment (can you spell "Bernoulli"?) and retired purses and boxes of paper-stuff that is not old enough to shred.

You would think that right now My Home Office(!) would look like a yarn and paper disaster, but for some reason it does not. At least, not yet. It contains the Big Desk (which fits through doorways only after the doors are lifted from their hinges) and the table-and-chair set that predates my marriage and two office chairs (one of which sports mystery stains) and a file cabinet and many bookshelves full of books I have not looked at in years plus two boxes of books I have not looked at for at least a decade. The closet contains camping equipment that I swear we will use again someday, more old computer equipment, and yarn.

For some reason, I am immensely pleased with the guest bedroom and My Home Office. The alteration of these two rooms represents a paradigm shift of some kind that I have yet to define. It feels good.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Knitting Off Broadway

We almost have a LYS again! The grand opening of Knitting Off Broadway is scheduled for after xmas, but they had a "trunk show" this past Friday and Saturday. I stopped by to check it out, but there was not much to check out just yet. Too bad, because the flyer led me to believe that there would at least be some notions for sale. Instead, there were knitted sweaters to try on. Now there's a concept: being able to try on a sweater to see how it looks before knitting for weeks on end to find out it is not "you".

The store was a challenge to find, partly because I did not read the flyer carefully. I saw the "near Jefferson and Broadway" part and I knew where that was, but I did not realize that the shop was actually on a side street (the "off" in "Off Broadway" - duh). The side street is not much more than a glorified alley, and parking will be a challenge, especially on Saturdays when they have classes scheduled all day long. Tucked away where they are lends an air of exclusivity to the shop as well. We'll see how that works out. But their hours are better (for me, at least), they plan to offer lots of upscale yarn, and it sounds like the co-owners have assistants and instructors lined up.

Here's to their success!

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Last Day

Whew! I did it! A post a day for the month of November. And I have to admit, I found it easier than posting less frequently. I doubt I will continue to post daily, but I hope to post on a more regular basis.

I don't usually knit specifically for xmas or birthdays. When an item is done, it goes to the recipient right away. But I am working on a surprise xmas project. Shh! It's a secret!

Both heel flaps are finished on the Trekking socks. Today at lunch I plan to turn me some heels. Another inch was knit on the red-red-red sweater last night. If I average one stitch a second, one inch of sweater should take about 20 minutes. But some time is lost shifting stitches around the needles and pulling yarn out of the skein and petting HipHop on demand, so somehow it takes more like 60 minutes. That doesn't seem right.

My final wish: happy holidays for all.

P.S. When I arrived home last night, I saw the hose from my outdoor faucet to my neighbor's garage was gone. They are now on city water, too!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

I Hate the Mall

I can't even remember the last time I was at the mall, but last night I was reminded on why I don't shop there. After sitting in my cube-shaped sensory deprivation chamber all day, the mall feels like a huge dose of sensory overload. And when did watch batteries get so expensive? And how in the world can one find a pair of wool pants amongst the racks and racks of women's clothing? And where did all these strange stores come from? It was overwhelming.

So I went home and furiously knit an inch on my sweater. Now that I sit in the coldest cubicle in the building, I have become aware that most of my sweaters are made of cotton. I need wool!

Today it is really windy, bitter gusts up to 35 mph. I wish we had better winter weather, and by "better winter weather" I mean less wind and more snow, and by "more snow" I mean enough snow that I can cross country ski more than two or three times a year.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's Started

Last night I cast on the body of the red-red-red sweater - twice. Actually, twice is good, as it is not unusual for me to make at least three CO's before I am satisfied. I almost always use a long tail cast on, and am usually fairly accurate on estimating the amount of yarn required for the long tail, but last night the first CO fell short by inches. So I undid my work, added another foot to the long tail, cast on again, and now I have an extra 2 feet of tail. Go figure. The lace stitch up the front is called "snowdrop" but I don't really see it. I picked this stitch because it easily straddles the front of the sweater and it involves no purl stitches. I timed how long it takes me to knit 190 stitches - between 7 and 10 minutes. So, if I work on the sweater for an hour each night, I may be up to the armpit in about two weeks. Hmmm.

Now that I am knitting a sweater, I am getting more interested in knitting sweaters in general. For my next one, I would like to do a bulky Aran style sweater. I think. I'm researching patterns.

And speaking of patterns, unless I buy a book of patterns (rare because we have a really great library system here), I usually limit myself to free patterns I find on the Internet. But I have been looking for an interesting lace shawl I can knit using one skein of fingerling weight yarn, without much success... until I visited Spritely Goods where there is this lovely shawl pattern for sale. I talked myself out of the $230 boots, but I think I can afford $6 for this pattern... if I don't weaken and buy some of the handpainted yarn, too.

And then there are the new Harmony Guides, from Interweave. Fortunately, these are on order at my local library, so I can try before I buy.

I wish I could retire early, so I could spend more time doing the things I love.

I'm still meditating on a New Year's resolution. I'm trying to identify something that, were I to find myself on my death bed tomorrow, I would be wishing I had done today.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I Hate Earbuds

It is so quiet up here on the second floor that I have resorted to listening to music over the Internet. My fave station WUMB is blocked by The Powers That Be, but I found some innocuous jazz on Yahoo Radio. I just wish the @#$%&*! earbuds would stay in my ears. I can be sitting perfectly still, barely breathing, and they still fall out. Maybe a little Duck Tape would help - you can fix anything with Duck Tape!

I am ready to begin the body of the red-red-red sweater. Time to cast on 190 stitches. Gulp! Again, in the interest of preventing death by stockinette boredom, I will do some kind of lace stitch up the front.

Today at lunch I got halfway through the heel flap of one Trekking sock. Unfortunately, I was a little late getting to work (because I overslept and the dog was feeling better so I took her for a short walk), so my lunch "hour" is a bit truncated.

Only three more days of NaBloPoMo - I think I am going to make it! Hope reading about the detritus of my life has not been too boring.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Makin' Progress

Today at lunch, I finished the cuff on Trekking sock #2 and started the heel flap. Last night, I reached "stitch count" on one sleeve of the red-red-red sweater/hoodie and would have done the same with the other sleeve had I not pooped out. And I have been meditating on how to graph the two halves of the lace shawl. Any other UFO's that need attention? Oh, yeah - unlined bags galore. Those sound like a good project for xmas week.

I wish my dog felt better. She is eating and drinking and the results of that are coming out the other end, so there are no blockages, but she is not very perky. Of course, she may just be wiped from all the comings and goings of various and sundry people at various and sundry hours of the day and night for the past four days. She is used to sleeping the day away, rousing herself only for eating, defecating, urinating, and taking a walk to check her pee-mail. Tonight is the cat's annual trip to the vet (just when she has finally forgiven me for the last set of shots!), and I'll make an appointment for Betsy for Thursday. If she is still not feeling well, she can be examined, but otherwise, she will get her shots, too.

(Last year I took them both at the same time, which was too stressful for all of us, plus the elder Dr. M got confused over who got what shots. No harm done, but I'd rather make multiple trips than go through that again.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Oh, What a Good Neighbor Am I

I have city water, but my outdoor taps are still on my well. My neighbor is in the process of getting estimates to tap into city water. Yesterday he called because their well had failed. So we were able to run a hose from my outdoor faucet to his plumbing, and fortunately his pipes are such that the water could run through his softener, too. So now his household (with a teenage daughter) has water... for now. He is hoping that he can get priority with the plumber schedule-wise. Last night the temps dropped into the 20's and the hose froze, but I think it is supposed to stay above 30 for the next several nights. I am always happy to help a neighbor because I know someday (like the next time is snows 12 inches and I'm wishing for a super-sized snow blower) I will need their help. It is odd to hear the well run, though.

Last night my dog was showing all the symptoms of bloat. This is a potentially fatal condition in dogs, but it is highly unusual in a beagle-sized dog. What to do, what to do? We have an emergency vet clinic across town, but as much as I love my pets, I balk at paying extortionist rates for their care. Not only are the clinic's after-hours rates jacked up, they charge even more if the pet is not one of their regular patients. So, you go into their fancy-shmancy building, overly distraught, and they make it worse by hammering you financially. Hence, my reluctance to rush her there. She really was miserable, though, and I could not get any Pepto Bismol down her. She did drink some water and could go out to potty, so I decided to do a wait-and-see. And this morning she was definitely better. Whew! But I'm wishing there were a more economical late-night vet clinic for those scary episodes.

On the knitting front, I have the cuff completed on one of the Trekking socks. The stitch pattern is not the best to show off the colorway, and vice verse, so I'm curious to see what the stockinette sole will look like.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rationalization

I have been busy rationalizing buying those $230 boots: my dad sent me a check for my birthday in October and will probably send me one for xmas, plus I received a 15% off coupon, plus I make my footwear last a long time, and they might not even fit, etc. Over the past several years, I have been migrating my entire shoe wardrobe to Earth Shoes since my lower back does not like switching back and forth between heel heights. So these boots would be an investment, right?

While shopping with my daughter the other night, I ran into the same problem in Von Maur where I discovered they carry Eileen Fisher. I love EF clothes - simple styles, quality fabric, beautiful drape, etc. - but I can't quite bring myself to pay those prices. I just worked my way up from Land's End to Eddie Bauer, and right now, that is as far as I am willing to go (and only with a coupon).

Believe it or not, I also have my limits re yarn. While I am willing to pay up to $20 for a skein of sock yarn, I balk when a sweater pattern calls for $200 worth of yarn; in that case, I might as well buy something from Eileen Fisher! Financially, knitting usually doesn't make much sense, but it keeps me off the streets. Such a guilty pleasure.

Now that we have officially kicked off the holiday season, I have been thinking about New Year's resolutions. Last year I committed to doing something fun each month of the year, and that worked out fairly well. I could do that again, but I think I proved my point and wish I could think of something else that does not involve self-improvement. Any ideas?

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Bit Late

Today I was wishing I had raked the leaves earlier, and that I had mowed one more time before the leaves fell. But my procrastination was not entirely simple laziness, as the maples were slow in releasing their hold on the leaves. And I was out of town. And then it rained. And then it snowed. I don't feel too profligate, though, as my neighbors have not raked yet. And at least my son was here to help, so it wasn't too awful a job.

Speaking of the son, I gave him the cream-colored IU socks, sans the IU logo. I could not figure out how to do the logo on ribbing, and it was just as well because, even though I used US5 needles with worsted weight Moda Dea Washable Wool, the socks are very snug.



I also gave him the too-loose-on-me socks, and they fit him perfectly.

Meanwhile, I bailed on the Undulating Rib socks because, quite frankly, I cannot count. I kept the k3,p1,k1,p1 ribbing at the top of the cuff, though, and after 1.5 inches, segued into a 6-stitch "twin rib" pattern from Sensational Knitted Socks (for which this photo does not do justice). And, once again, I am working from both ends of the skein. I'm a little nervous about having enough yarn. I thought the skein felt a bit light, and it was, by 4g. Hopefully, I won't need that missing yarn.



(Do you ever wonder if some less-than scrupulous people ever buy a skein of yarn, relieve it of a few yards to finish a project, then return the rest to the store for a full refund?)

Meanwhile, I have run into a bit of a quandary about the red-red-red sweater. The pattern I am using in a general way calls for stitch increases every 5 rows, up to a given stitch count, then more knitting until the sleeves are 15 inches long. Well, I am going to reach 15 inches before I achieve the stitch count. So do I continue knitting until I achieve the stitch count, even though the sleeves will be about 3 inches longer than called for? I think my arms can accommodate the longer sleeves, whereas I'm not sure the sweater will be as forgiving of a reduced stitch count on the sleeves. My lack of sweater-knitting experience is showing.



Thanks to Ally's comment, I discovered that Zappo's sells Earth Shoes, and shore 'nuff, they list the dimensions. But now I have a new problem: the boots I like and that I think will fit cost $230. Hear that choking noise? That's my inner Scrooge squeezing the pocketbook.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Step Away from the Yarn

Bad knitting day yesterday. The mittens are not the same size, but I can't tell if it is because I have stretched the first one a bit or if I really cramped up while knitting the second one. And I have cast on sock #1 of the Undulating Rib Socks several times and I'm still not happy with it, plus the shades-of-tan colorway looks very pink when knitted up, not very manly for my SO. After all this angst, I was afraid to pick up the red-red-red sweater, so I watched a movie instead, "Mostly Martha," which has a surprisingly G-rated love scene: everything is left to the imagination.

One of the purchases I made the other night was a skirt that just cries for a pair of black boots. The problem is, I wear only Earth Shoes (my back loves that negative heel) and while some stores carry a few styles, I usually have to order them online. That's not the problem, though. The problem is I have big calves and most boots do not fit me. Planet Shoes provides free shipping on returns, but I wish they would publish the dimensions of their boots, circumference and height. Then I could order with more confidence.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hot Water

The installation of the hot water heater went without a hitch. Turns out I had replaced it just in time, as some valve was starting to leak. The hot water heater and furnace are located in a large closet off my bedroom; I wish they were somewhere else in the house, like the garage, where leaks and other disasters would not be as big a problem. I looked into moving the furnace to the garage, but all the ductwork would have to be reversed. I did not know ductwork decreases in size the further from the heat source it goes, but it makes sense.

Still knitting sleeves, while pondering what to do to make the body more interesting but not too-too. Still knitting mittens, but should have them done today. Starting to meditate on how best to graph the two halves of the creamy lace shawl together.

Looking for a pattern for the Trekking XXL sock yarn I bought. I think I have settled on "Undulating Rib Socks" from Favorite Socks: 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave. This will be the first pattern I knit from this book, and already I am somewhat flummoxed by the directions. For one thing, it calls for knitting fingerling weight yarn on US3 and US4 needles. For someone who uses US1, this sounds like crazy talk. But I think I will use US1 on the ribbing at the top of the cuff (my ribbing tends to be a little loose), US2 for half the cuff, then back to US1 for the rest, just to see how it turns out.

I was in Eddie Bauer last night, desperately looking for some new clothes, when I noticed that all the scarves, hats, and mittens have a handknit look to them. Apparently, knitting is so "in" these days that even the store-bought knits resemble handmade!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wrongway Peachfuzz

A family joke (one of many) is how I can't seem to go anywhere without making at least one wrong turn. In high school, we took a standardized test to measure what we were naturally good at, and I scored high on mechanical aptitude, and yet when turning something with my left hand, I have to make the corresponding twist with my right hand so I know which way to go. Or chant, "Righty tighty, lefty loosey." Now that I knit an above-average amount (the average knitter completes 8-9 projects a year - HA! I've knit more socks than that since March!), I find myself struggling mentally with the more-than-unusual garment construction techniques, like the Surprise Baby Sweater and the Pinwheel Sweater.

So, is it any surprise that I am having a hard time adjusting to being on the second floor at work? I think one problem is that there are a lot more floor-to-ceiling offices up here, which obstruct the over-the-cubicle view. But I have figured out that those offices are mostly toward the front of the building, so once I get past them, I generally can get my bearings. Still, I keep walking past my cubicle. I wish my spatial abilities were better.

Last night I shortened up the Lopi mitten, so now it fits perfectly. This morning, I cast on the second one and knit up ten rows while sipping coffee. Chunky yarn + small project = quick completion. I hope. Winter is coming.

Remember the vintage lace top I was whining about several months ago? I am trying to work up my courage to attack that once again. My recent lace work has given me a false sense of confidence.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Trouble with Sweaters

The trouble with sweaters is the same trouble as with socks or mittens: the terrible twos. Knitting socks means knitting two socks, knitting mittens means knitting two mittens, knitting a sweater means knitting two sleeves. But sweater sleeves have an additional burden: when you start at the cuff and add increases along the way, the initial speed erodes about halfway to the armpit. Another problem I am having is, once I reach the halfway point, the DPNs are not quite long enough and stitches keep falling off the end. I finally got to the point on sleeve #1 where I could switch to circular needles, but instead of continuing with that sleeve, I started up sleeve #2. For some reason, it feels better to be working on both of them at the same time.

Tomorrow afternoon the plumbers are returning to install a new hot water heater. I have lived here at least 15 years and I have never replaced the hot water heater. I'm sure the only reason it has not sprung a leak is there is too much gunk from the well in the bottom of it to allow the water egress. Also, I wanted to wait until I had city water because I did not want to gunk up the new one. So, my wish tonight is that tomorrow's installation go as smoothly as the city water tap-in.

BTW, I reviewed the wishes I have made so far, to see if I inadvertently repeated any. There are several knitting-related wishes, but otherwise they are fairly diverse. I'm a little surprised that I have been able to keep up with the daily postings, because I know I won't stick with it once this month is over.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ouch

Yesterday was moving day at work. While looking for empty boxes, I wrestled with a box of paper and managed to pinch a nerve in my lower back. You know the feeling: shooting pains from hip to ankle. It's been a while since I did something like this, but I know the routine: lots of Advil, some stretching, and application of pressure to the resulting knots in my gluteus maximus. A difficult spot to reach but I'm sure my sweetie will help out tonight.

Several years ago, I was flying somewhere (to Tucson?) At one point, a woman several rows in front of me held her knitting up over her head to examine her handiwork. I could see each perfect stitch from where I sat, and I was consumed with jealousy. How did she do that? My stitches tend to look rather haphazard initially (thank god for blocking), and we won't even discuss gauge or laddering between DPNs. Although my knitting continues to improve, and I no longer approach the end of each project with dread (will it look okay? will it fit? will it resemble something other than a bird's nest of yarn?), I still wish most fervently that my handiwork were better.

But I keep trying. Here is a mitten from the Reynolds Lopi Icelandic wool:



If it looks kinda long and skinny, that is because it is. I read in The Knitter's Book of Yarn that Icelandic wool has little elasticity, and Clara Parkes is right; it was like knitting with baling twine, just as stiff and just as coarse. I'm using a free pattern from Lion Brand called "Starter Mittens" but I ribbed the cuff. The pattern says the mittens will fit an adult, but an adult what? I have large hands and on US6 needles, my gauge is a little tight (so what else is new?), and this mitten fits my hand snugly. The thumb is perfect but the overall length is a tad long. In fact, I may undo the end and remove a few rows. Icelandic wool is a bit too scratchy for next-to-the-skin wear, but I expect it to wear well, so these mittens will become my working pair, for shoveling snow, etc.

I finished the garish Magic Socks.



The colorway is "Jelly Bean Stripe" although I didn't quite get the stripes lined up. These look kind of odd but they fit me well (surprise!) In fact, I am wearing them right now. The yarn is sport weight and I used US3 needles, so they went fairly quickly. (From what I understand, LB has discontinued Magic Stripes, but it looks like they still have a couple of colors, including this one, listed on their website.)

And here is the official start of the red-red-red sweater:



After a certain amount of dinking (and tinking) around, I think I am settled on the sleeves at least, at last. I knit the first four rows on straight needles, then started knitting in the round, so there is a little notch in the cuff, allowing the option of rolling the cuff up. I could not face acres of stockinette, so I added the lace pattern "lace diagonal" as described in The Knitting Stitche Bible, just to remind me that I am counting-impaired.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Pix Now?

Yes, finally. I added photos to this page, and here is a shot of the Neverending Afghan:



Hopefully, Blogger will continue to upload photos.

Today is moving day. I mentioned the theme song from "The Jeffersons" to a cow-orker who then looked up the lyrics and sent them to everyone in our department. So now all of us can have that little ditty running amok in our brains today.

I haven't had much to do at work the past few days, so I have been catching up on blogs. Some of the authors are really out there. Makes my writing feel constipated. Pass the Konsyl, please! I wish my internal editor would just shut up.

Knitting: finished the Magic Stripes socks, started some simple mittens with the Lopi. Pix forthcoming (knock on wood!)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Movin' on Up

Ever since I found out that we are moving upstairs, the theme song from "The Jeffersons" has been running through my head ("Movin' on up/to the eastside/finally got a piece of the pie"). Unfortunately, I don't know most of the lyrics and, much to my lifelong disappointment, I cannot sing. I wish I could sing or play an instrument like it mattered or at least hear what other people hear when they listen to music. I try to catch "The Art of the Song" each week on WUMB, as the show teaches me about what to listen for, as do the interviews with singer/songwriters that occur all over the place on WUMB. Meanwhile, my singing shall be confined to the bruising shower.

The last pair of Magic Stripes socks needs only the kitchener stitch be applied to each toe and they will be done. The color is "Jellybean" and they are rather garish. Tonight I will make another attempt to upload photos to Blogger, so hopefully you will be able to see just how garish they are.

Meanwhile, I strapped on my knitting kahunas and played around with the sleeve to the red-red-red hoodie. I had started one sleeve on US8 needles, but the resulting fabric just looked coarse. So I knit up a bit on another sleeve using US7 needles and it looks much better. Then, since the prospect of knitting acres of stockinette just doesn't appeal to me, I picked out a simple lace stitch to decorate the sleeves. I like the initial results, so I worked out the arithmetic and am now ready to start a "real" sleeve. Gulp!

The pattern I am starting with is the Miss Priss Seamless Hoodie, from Schaefer Yarn, but I am using Cascade 220 instead of Miss Priss. Also, besides being seamless, I plan to knit it in the round, omitting the zipper (obviously) and omitting any purling as well. We'll see how my plans work out. (Someone once said, If you want to make God laugh, just tell him your plans.)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I Got Water!

And, not only do I have water, I have water pressure. I didn't think my water pressure was all that bad, but now the shower is positively bruising. And the toilet tank fills in a fraction of the time. And hot water gets to the nether regions of the house faster. And now I can get a new water heater.

It looks like I still have a job. The mantra from management had been, All development will be done offshore, but apparently they found some exceptions to that rule. Anything they decide not to offshore will probably land in our laps, and that's okay. But we will also be assigned some new tasks. In fact, we are moving upstairs at the end of the week, so we will be closer to our other customer base, R&D. While there are no guarantees, all this feels a bit more secure.

As for knitting, I wish I were a faster knitter. In general, I can devote only about two hours to knitting each day (more on weekends) and that makes me a bit reluctant to take on big projects, like sweaters, and even more reluctant to experiment with designs and stitches and yarns, as I don't want to knit myself into a corner that might result in massive frogging. Knitting is a process, and I enjoy the process, but I also like to have something to show for my efforts.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pix, Pix, and More Pix - NOT

I have a bunch of photos to post, but Blogger won't let me upload them. Apparently, this is an ongoing problem. Hmmm. Maybe it is time to try some other blog tool.

Anyway... if I could upload photos, you would get to see pix of the yarn I described a few days ago. I think the "Faded Valentine"
may become a shawl, the Icelandic wool
will probably become mittens (if I bought enough), and the Trekking
will of course be used for socks, perhaps for my sweetie. I think it is his turn to get a pair. (Added photos 2007-11-15.)


The knitting projects I took with me on my recent travels were a hoodie and socks. I had started the sleeve on the hoodie, but it just wasn't sitting well with me. To achieve gauge, I went up a needle size (usually I drop at least one size) and am still missing the target, but it looks like the hoodie will be plenty roomie as it is. But I don't like the Inox needles I have been using. They seem sticky. So I stopped the hoodie and picked up the socks, my last pair of Magic Stripes. On size US3 needles, they are 75% complete. (Added photo 2007-11-15.)


The plumber guys are here, to hook me up to city water, and if I could post a photo, you would see I now have a baby backhoe and a not-so-baby hole in my front yard. There are all kinds of noises coming from under the house, and not too much swearing, so hopefully it is going well (no pun intended!) (Added photo 2007-11-15.)

It is becoming more and more difficult to think of wishes. Wishes can be big or small, selfish or selfless, frivolous or serious. I've been avoiding the obvious - peace on earth, etc. - but after flying over some beautiful countryside, I will wish that we learn to be better stewards of this planet.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Home Again, Home Again

Whew! If it is not exactly great to be home, at least it is great to be somewhere other than inside airplanes and airports. Once I get back to normal, I'll have knitting to talk about.

Tomorrow, the plumber guys are supposed to hook me up to city water. My wish is that it all goes well.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Foliage

I'm a little surprised about the New England foliage this year. Here it is, almost mid-november, and many trees here are still green, others have turned, and still others have shed their leaves. It looks more like early October.

Last winter my stepmother had a rough time healthwise, which was equally rough on my dad, but now she seems almost back to normal. So my wish today is that she and Dad have an uneventful winter.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Oops - Stash Enhancing eXpedition!

Just could not resist a visit to the Yarn Basket in Fitchburg, MA. They carry mostly Plymouth and Bernat and lots of novelty yarn, but I found a few things to try: Zitron Trekking XXL sock yarn, Oasis Aussi Sock (in "Faded Valentine" - don't you just love that color name?), and JCA Reynolds Lopi Icelandic wool.

It was so nice to wander about and pet and squeeze yarn. I miss that, so my wish for today is that someone open a yarn store in my home town. Please?

Friday, November 09, 2007

Simple Wish

Today's wish is that I have an uneventful flight. And that my knitting needles make it through security. Technically, they are allowed, but the reality is it is up to the discretion of the screener.

Here are the pix I've been promising
Blogger is not cooperating this morning, so you will have to wait on the pix. Sorry!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Leavin' on a Jet Plane

This weekend I fly east to visit family. Or, rather, some of the family. I was the only sibling missing from an informal gathering in October, but I just could not get away from work then.

In anticipation of this trip, I had been keeping track of airline tickets. Several months ago, to fly from here to there was about $300. Not bad. When I was still contemplating flying there in October, I checked ticket prices again: $500. Now, economically, it became a toss-up between flying and driving, except it is a two-day drive and I'm low on vacation days. Then I discovered I had enough miles to cash some in, and I got me a ticket for $200 - sweet! Last week, I received an email from NWA about last-minute deals, so I decided to see if my ticket price had fallen in the meantime. Nope. Now, with taxes, the price was over $800!!!

Besides being expensive, flying has also become quite the ordeal. Flying used to have the advantage of saving time and being somewhat glamourous, but now you have to get to the airport early, strip in front of and (if unlucky) get patted down by strangers, make sure you have enough time between flights when making connections, bring your own food and entertainment, choose between lugging all your stuff in a carry-on (that may still be taken from you and stowed below) or risk losing it to the bowels for the baggage handling system, etc., etc., and so forth. And then, it is not uncommon to be treated like sheep (best case) or hauled off to be questioned (worst case) if you voice displeasure over any of this.

But what are the alternatives? In this country, virtually none. So that is my wish for today, that somebody somewhere develop a new and better way for us to travel.

Side note: I am currently reading A Fortune-Teller Told Me : Earthbound Travels in the Far East by Tiziano Terzani, which is about how the author (a journalist) spent a year traveling around Asia and Europe without flying. His job is such that he was able to spend the time traveling by land and water. So maybe what we need is not a way to travel fast but more time to travel slowly.

Knitting: The Jaywalkers are done! Even the gusset gaps are closed. (One modification I would make to the pattern is to incorporate a M1 on either side of the gussets to prevent the gap.) I chose the Austermann Step sock yarn because it contains aloe and jojoba, and the saleswoman assured me that not only would my feet benefit from wearing the resulting socks, my hands would be softened while I knit. I did not find the latter to be true, but when I soaked and blocked the socks, the yarn really softened, so I'm hoping the former is.

I promise to take photos tonight!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Dream the Impossible Dream

I don't usually watch TV, but I tuned in last night just in time to hear the concession/victory speeches of our mayoral candidates. It was the first time I had seen either of them live, and I was impressed at how both were very poised and articulate. Matt Kelty was gracious in defeat, and Tom Henry actually came off as inspirational. The future of our fair city should be interesting, if nothing else.

As I arrived at work today, a pickup truck I have admired from afar pulled into the parking lot. I used to have a pickup truck, a Fordza - it said Mazda on the vehicle but it screamed Ford. Ordinarily, I do not get extended warrenties, but the salesman scared me into one for that truck, and it paid for itself twice. Which is why I will never buy another truck from either Mazda or Ford. Now I have a Honda CRV, which is okay. It gets me from point A to point B reliably and inexpensively, is easy to park, holds four adults comfortably, has all wheel drive that kicks in only when needed, etc. An okay car.

I really miss having a truck, though, or something trucklike. Actually, my ideal vehicle would be small enough for parking and fuel economy but large enough to pull a pop-up camper. That is not really so far fetched. It could run on 4-cylinders with front wheel drive when there is no load, then switch to 6-cylinders and rear wheel or all wheel drive when towing. Would that really be so difficult?

So, that is my wish today: a vehicle that actually met all my personal transportational needs. And was affordable!

One Jaywalker sock is complete, the other lacking only the toe. My daughter tried them on, and they are snug, just the way she likes them. But, since they are snug, they are also difficult to get over her heel. I will have to look through my sock books and see what I can find about enlarging the gusset to make them easier to get on. I will probably use this pattern again, as I have another skein of Austermann Step and the zigzag design works really well with self-striping yarn.

And I wound a skein of Cascade 220 into a ball, in anticipation of the hoodie. I'm still waffling over how to knit it up, but I can still start with the sleeves.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

If You Don't Vote, Don't Complain

We are having local elections here. I was hoping that Graham Richard would run again. He is the invisible mayor, presumably because he is busy getting things done instead of looking for photo ops. I think our local government has a long way to go to becoming more efficient and effective, but Richard made a few strides in that direction during his tenure.

Since Richard is not running, I hope that Tom Henry beats Matt "I am not a crook" Kelty. I fear that Kelty has a not-so-hidden, so-called Christian agenda that will cause a lot of grief and animosity. He is a divider, not a uniter, as evidenced by how he has alienated many in his own party. Plus, he bears an uncanny resemblence to John Mark Karr; it's creepy.

Henry has the experience, which hopefully will enable him to be an effective leader. Sometimes it is healthy to stir the pot with new meat, but not with Kelty in the mix.

My real wish for today, though, is that more people would exercise their right to vote. Like so many of our rights, we take voting for granted. Even if you think your vote won't count, at least be counted; show which side you are on.

On the knitterly front, I am almost done with the Jaywalker socks; my daughter needs to try them on, then I can finish the toes.

Now that I have wrapped up a few projects, I am facing an unusual dilemma: what to knit next? It's not that I don't have plenty of yarn, yarn purchased with specific projects in mind. It's more of a commitment issue. And I can find an excuse for not starting just about anything. This is odd, because usually the only thing keeping me from starting a new project is the size needles I need to use are already occupied.

One project I have been contemplating is a hoodie sweater for moi, but I'm afraid to start - so much yarn! so much knitting! The original pattern is seamless and calls for a zippered front, but I plan to knit sans zipper so I can knit it in the round - no purling! But then I need to swatch in the round. While walking the dog this morning, I decided I will start with the sleeves, as then I can check my gauge without swatching and before I've gone too far.

But first, I need to wind the yarn into a ball. And we all know my track record on that!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Daylight Saving

Well, yesterday's wish did not come true, but that's okay. The Colts were handicapped by several key players being on the DL, which impacted the passing game. (Don't I sound knowledgeable?) Once everyone is healthy again, the Colts will be impossible to beat. (Knock on wood!)

If Daylight Saving Time is so great, why don't we stay on it year-round? Changing the clocks back and forth is hard on us biologically and psychologically. So that is my wish for today, that the whole world abandon the clock-changing habit. Time is just an abstract concept anyway.

On the crocheting front, I finished the neverending afghan! The fringe alone took nearly an entire skein. Photos forthcoming.

Knitting progress: I am about halfway through the feet of the Jaywalker socks. For some reason, they have been a bear to knit, with many dropped stitches and much mental confusion over which row I am knitting. I feel like I am in the homestretch, though.

Next weekend, I am flying east to visit my dad, which leads to the what-do-I-take-to-knit-on-the-plane debate. Last time I flew, I think I crocheted dishcloths and knit socks on bamboo needles. Maybe a final pair of Magic Stripes socks and/or a crocheted scarf? I don't want anything too complex or too big.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Go, Colts!

Today's wish is easy: that the Indianapolis Colts beat the New England Patriots. Both teams are undefeated this season. The Patriots are favored, and actually, it would not be a bad thing if the Colts lost, because they have a history of becoming complacent. But still.

I am rethinking the IU logo for the cream-colored socks because I did the tops in 1x1 ribbing and I'm not sure how that will work. I may try it anyway, but am not too confident it will work.

The neverending afghan has 6 more rows to go? Maybe? I hope? Or maybe I will just stop and consider it done.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Multitaskability

While perusing a forum a while back, I was shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover that some people can knit while they read. And they weren't reading knitting patterns, either. I knit while "watching" professional football - I'm really just listening and watching replays - and if I pick up my knitting during a movie, it means the movie is really boring. But to be able to knit without looking? Impossible!

The more I hang out at knitting forums and blogs, the more I learn that this is not such a rare thing. In fact, some patterns are available in braille. Apparently, eyesight is not a requirement for knitting.

So, that is wish #3: that I could knit at least straight garter or stockinette without constantly watching what I am doing. Not only would I be able to do two things at once, this would be easier on my eyes since I have a tendency to hold my knitting right under my nose.

Friday, November 02, 2007

If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride

That's what my mother would say when I was a kid. At the time, I could not figure out that adage because one of the things I constantly wished for was a horse.

Wish #2 is that I would find out what is happening with my job. Nothing official has been offered or announced, but I think I will still be employed at this company, I just don't know in what capacity. Not being sure whether I will even be here makes it difficult to plan. And assuming I am still here and depending on what I end up doing, I may be wishing myself out of here. We have been in limbo for a long, long time, though, and I'm just plain tired of waiting to find out. My supervisor will be at HQ next week, so hopefully he will return with some definitive news.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

NaBloPoMo (But Not)

It's National Blog Posting Month and I did not officially join, but decided it would be fun to try to post daily, and here I am, already cheating. I'm writing this on November 2, but I'm going to date it November 1. My excuse is, for most of this week, the Powers That Control Access to The Internet at Work have been blocking Blogger. Not that I spend a lot of time on the Internet at work....

Anyway, my theme for this month will be wishes, so we'll start with the obvious: I wish I would lose 30 pounds make healthy choices. One time I caught myselft saying, "I would do anything to lose weight" - well, anything except eat less and exercise more. I have been exercising more - power walking three times a week, plus walking the dog most mornings - and I feel stronger and more energetic. Now, if I could just make healthier choices re food. There is a lot of leftover Halloween candy laying around the office, but I think I have had my fill. We'll see if I can resist the donuts.

On the knitting front, the IU socks are done, except for the "IU" part. I happened to be near Joann's last night and I happened to have a 40% off coupon and they happened to have the same yarn in "true red" so I bought. Technically, IU's colors are not red and white but crimson and cream. I can tell the difference between white and cream, but not red and crimson, and I'm counting on no one else being able to, either.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Neverending Afghan

Did you ever have a project that, no matter how much you work on it, just will not progress? Everytime I measure what I am now calling the Neverending Afghan, it seems there are always 6 more rows to go. It was the perfect thing to work on tonight, though, with the ghosts and goblins ringing the doorbell every 2.5 minutes.

I did manage to get through the gusset on one Jaywalker sock, which seems to have exhausted me on that particular pattern for now. Also, even though I can guess what the foot holds in store, I cannot find the instructions. Since I grew tired of my livingroom looking like a cross between a yarn explosion and a petting zoo, I rearranged things a bit. The TV and the rabbit switched places, and the yarn is shifting to the family room, which now looks like a cross between a yarn explosion and a petting zoo, plus there's the breakfast bar from hell. Horizontal surfaces in my house fill up quickly. Anyway, the Jaywalker instructions disappeared during this flurry of activity.

An alternative to the Jaywalker is knitting through the homestretch on the IU socks, which is b-o-r-i-n-g, so I will save it for lunchtime at work because my job is even more boring.

Maybe the lace shawl needs some attention.

(Can you tell I am doing everything in my power NOT to cast on a sweater, the red- red-red yarn for which is calling me as I write? All that is really holding me back is trying to decide whether to follow the pattern and make it with a zippered front, or to listen to my aversion of purling and knit it in the round.)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Best Laid Plans

The plan was to finish crocheting the afghan while watching football. After watching the Colts struggle through the first half, I decided to take a little nap. Well, I must have needed the rest, because I woke up just in time to see them win by a huge margin. I also measured the afghan and realized I was not quite as close to finishing as I thought.

I also worked on turning heels on the Jaywalker socks, but that has not gone very well, either. The yarn I am using, Austermann Step, has aloe and jojoba in it, which makes the needles very slick, which makes it easy to drop stitches. And then there is my short attention span. Even though I use sticky notes to help me keep track of row counts, sometimes I forget to make a mark for each row. The result is a lot of tinking around.



But I am enjoying how well this self-striping yarn works with the Jaywalker pattern. Since I am working from both ends of the skein, the stripes are reversed.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Bad Yarn Day

I woke up early this morning and decided I might as well get up and knit over coffee. Last night I had finished the top on one Jaywalker sock, so I started catching up on the second. One thing I like about this pattern is the stitch increases at the needle ends hides my laddering between DPNs. One thing I dislike about the pattern is the double-decrease in the middle of each needle, which is where I screwed up this morning. My eyes were not focusing yet, so I set that aside to fix later and picked up the lace shawl... and dropped several stitches there as well. Ok, maybe it was too early to knit. At noon, I picked up cream-colored sock #2 and started working on the 2x2 ribbing for the top. I happened to glance at sock #1, though, and realized it was done in 1x1 ribbing. Fortunately, I had not gone far on #2, so I ripped that out and started over. Friday night is no-knitting night - I eat popcorn and watch a movie instead - and it looks like I really need a break.

On a different topic, I brought The Happy Hooker to work yesterday for a coworker, and she reciprocated by giving me a copy of her Patternworks catalog. While leafing through the catalog, I saw a photo of a model wearing a crocheted scarf that looked just like a scarf in THH. Hmmm. When the coworker returned my book, I checked it out: not only was it the same scarf, it was the exact same photo! I can see the pattern designer selling the pattern to two different publications, but how did the same photo get in both?

And topic number three is, The Opnionated Knitter: Elizabeth Zimmerman Newsletters 1958-1968. I must have read something about this book somewhere, probably in relation to the Baby Surprise sweater, and checked it out of the library, but I think I may have to purchase it. After all, it has a pattern for an Adult Baby Surprise sweater, among other timeless designs. So many projects, so little time!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Mini Milestones

No finished objects yet, but I've reached these milestones:

* Finished one cream-colored sock and started sock #2
* Completed another pattern repeat on Falling Leaves lace shawl - one more to go!

Also, the afghan has only 8 rows remaining. I just may glue my but to the sofa and finish that tonight... or on Sunday while watching football.

From what I hear, November is National Blogging Month. Is that true? Is there really a month honoring blogging? Why?!? People are promising to blog daily for the entire month. I don't even floss daily. But while I will probably not formerly participate, I am secretly hoping that some of my favorite bloggers take the opportunity to blog more often. During the summer months, several of them fell out of the habit, and they have yet to pick it up with any regularity. And you know who you are! Get typing!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Progress

It seems like, in every blog I read, the author is either going to Rhinebeck and/or publishing a new book and/or has a nasty illness of one sort or another. All I have experienced lately is the latter, but maybe Rhinebeck next year. I read Clara Parke's description of how, as a child, she wanted to be a writer but she didn't know what she would write, until the obvious occurred: a book on yarn. So maybe someday, my subject will be revealed to me as well.

Meanwhile, I continue to knit. The lace shawl is progressing, the body of another vintage bag is done, the afghan crawls along, and somehow I ended up with two pairs of socks on the needles at the same time.

The worsted weight cream-colored socks I started over WW are progressing nicely, except since I am using US5 needles and ribbed the entire top, I am using more yarn than I expected and will have to buy another skein.



I may turn them into IU socks by adding a crimson logo, then gift them to my son.

But the socks that are enchanting me right now are these:



The pattern is "Jaywalker" from MagKnits and the yarn is Austermann Step (color 12, if that helps you). I bought the yarn long ago in a yarn store far away (okay, last December, at the Yarn Basket in Fitchburg, MA) before I even knew how to knit socks. I like the zigzag pattern, and the striping is subtle enough that, even though the socks won't match because I am knitting two at a time from either end of the skein, they should be fine. These are for my daughter, but if they turn out too big for her....

Amazingly, it was just last March when I took a basic sock class, and since then I have knit 8 pairs. I also took a lace shawl class that really stretched my abilities, and I swore I would never do lace again, but here I am with another lace shawl on the needles. Never say never.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Happy Feet, Happy Me

Despite the balmy, unseasonably warm weather (low 70's yesterday, high 70's today), I wore my Clara Bartons to work yesterday. I found myself looking at my feet while walking, sitting, working, etc. I can't believe how happy the sight of those red toes made me. I also wore the red enamel earrings my son bought me at a PTO fundraiser when he was in grade school and the red sweater my daughter bought me several years ago. Quite the head-to-toe ensemble.

The other day while knitting, this thought entered my mind: This is my true work. Ever since then, I have been puzzling over what this means. It could stem from my I-hate-my-job-and-just-want-to-knit daily state of mind. It could be my age (I grew up in the 50's and am imprinted with "Leave It to Beaver" so my internal clock says I should be a retired homemaker by now). Or it could lead to my next career. The idea of a knitting cafe really appeals to me. Coffee and yarn - what more could you want?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

One Down, How Many to Go?

Today, Knitting Daily posed the question knitters hate to hear: How many UFOs do you have? At first, I smugly thought, Not that many. And I guess I don't have that many, since "many" is a relative thing.

Here's my list:

  • Afghan (crochet)
  • Falling leaves lace shawl (yarn used to be for a baby blanket)
  • Cream-colored socks
  • Aloe-jojoba socks
  • Vintage handbag #2
  • Denim blue Fat Bottom Bag (needs lining)
  • Brown Fat Bottom Bag
  • Orange baby hoodie (abandoned)
  • Ribbon yarn tank top (abandoned)
  • Ballband washcloth

Ha! Finished that last one tonight:



Details:
  • Pattern from Mason-Dixon Knitting
  • Size US5 needles
  • Lion Cotton in turquoise and sunflower

Monday, October 15, 2007

They Fit Me!

I finished what has become known as the "Clara Barton" socks, and I get to keep them!



Details:
Shaefer Yarns Heather in "Clara Barton" colorway
Size US1 needles
Shaefer Pattern #253 "Anne Simply Textured Socks"



These feet are happy!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

No Expectations

Last week, I found myself caught up in a fantasy of what Women's Weekend would be like this time. Once L mentioned going to a yarn shop, I went overboard and mapped out a yarn crawl that I was going to begin on the trip down, by stopping at Ewetopia Fiber Arts Boutique, and that we would continue on Saturday by visiting Yarn & Needle, Knittique, and the Yarn Basket. And when we weren't enhancing our stashes, we would be knitting socks.

As excited as I was about all my plans, I did take a moment to remind myself to have no expections....

The reality was it took me forever to get going Friday night, what with the constant second-guessing (should I go? should I stay? how sick am I?), so by the time I neared Ewetopia, it was past closing time. Then the cabin had no heat, so part of Saturday was eaten up relocating to warmer digs, which left less time for the rest of the yarn crawl. And it turns out that Women's Weekend is not the best venue for teaching the art of sock knitting, as there are too many distractions: movies, chocolate, wine, descriptions of weddings and upcoming grandmotherhood, cards, etc.

But we did make it to the Yarn Basket, which is a lovely little store in a converted garage chockful of great yarn. After much dithering, I settled on the following selections:

For a red, red, red hoodie, this Cascade Yarn 220 "The Heathers"...



I bought more than enough, because I am going to use some to make a pair of two-color mittens, with the following black Plymouth Yarn Galway...



And this Cascade 220 "Paints" caught my eye and wouldn't leave me alone...



I'm thinking it might work for the Math Geek scarf I tried earlier in a solid color.

(Can you tell I like red?)

And I did get a little knitting done, working my sock until my hands cramped. I used the Ann Norling pattern from my first socks but I don't remember knitting the 9-10 inch cuff called for. I decided to give it a try and knit and knit until the result began to look vaguely phallic.



I squeezed the skein and decided I'd better stop until I could weigh the remaining yarn. This just seems like too much cuff.