Thursday, January 25, 2007

Some Time Out & Off

Much going on at the house these days, sadly not much of it good. A medical diagnosis of diffuse b-cell lymphoma has absolutely shaken my extended household to the core, and we're currently scrambling to find out as much as we can in as short a time as possible. On the more immediate homefront, Peggers put in his 3-weeks notice on Monday - as he is switching to a new job across the hall from his old one. We shall see how it goes - except for a select few Extra-Special people I have yet to meet a lawyer that deserves to have my husband as an employee. The Munchkin has been ill since Saturday, when he (the poor wee one!) got a nasty case of Sick Hiney (to keep things delicate, in case any of you are eating lunch while blog-surfing!) and it still is holding fast to him even today. Sick Hiney children are most certainly not allowed in daycare for general hygene / communicability issues which means that I stay home with him.........and sweat not being at work as my online teaching duties begun this past Wednesday ("only" 86 students this term!) and my physical teaching duties begin on Monday. Thank goodness my mother-in-law heeded our pleas for help and swooped in like a rescuing angel - not only did she hang with the Munch for two full days (cheerfully changing NASTY diapers!) but she also did laundry & dishes. I told her that at this rate she could easily be begged to stay until he hit 18, but alas her husband wants her back tomorrow morning.

And me? I have a kidney infection.

Add to that 2-year molar teething issues that result in nonstop PM nursing screaming fits from the little guy (either that or 2-4 hour periods of absolute wakefulness where he wants to go downstairs and "play car carriers, Mommy!") and you've got a very tired, stunned, mentally fatigued house.

Luckily I have a minor remedy for such a thing - when told of the lymphoma diagnosis I was just so upset that I can't help in the immediate span of things - so I did what any good knitter would do - I got out my needles and found a patter that worked & I plunked down my credit card to buy the Good Stuff. My four balls of Rowan Calmer arrived in the mail on Monday thanks to Elizabeth's speedy operations at the Knitting Garden and I am already onto the second pattern repeat of Knitty's/Jenna Wilson's Shedir hat. I am making one for my family member, for my friend's mother who is currently battling liver cancer, and for my co-worker's sister who just underwent brain surgery to have one of her inner ears and a huge twisted tumor removed from the very core of her noggin. Needless to say all three of these people need hats ASAP. I'm knitting just the one now, but after that one is finished I'm going to challenge my brains by casting on to do 2 hats on 2 circulars - much faster that way, I'm thinking!

The astute amongst yourselves will have done the math & realize that I said I ordered 4 balls of Calmer & have only listed 3 people that I'm knitting them for - happily enough the 4th hat (and because of this, last on my priority list) is for the brain-surgery woman's niece. Who is just fine - she just loved the hat pattern & the actual Calmer yarn-Calmer colour. *Yes, Rowan's yarn which is called Calmer also has a colour called Calmer - isn't that confusing? The other two Calmer yarn colours that I ordered were Slosh & Coffee Bean.

Pretty things - and this stuff knits up like a dream.

And thanks to Grumperina's brilliance (and her incredible generosity in sharing it!) the whole cabling thing is going like a breeze due to her cabling w/out a cable needle instructions.........

So anyway, I'm going to be off & away for a bit - until the little guy is better enough to go back to daycare - I'll have a wireless DSL connection, so I might pop in and out for a bit - expect pictures of knitted hats soon, that's for sure!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Two down, one to go

I finished the flap hat last night, which I've decided is certainly bound for the arts auction in town. This will be my second auction submission (a knitted Calorimetry out of some VERY itchy SWS is also up on the auction chopping block) and once I finish a knitted lining for another hat I will submit a grand total of three in to the Grand Auction Master sometime next week.

I knitted a yellow liner for it out of some label-less pale yellow cotton-blend-ish stuff that I bought way back when to do the intarsia work on Munchkin's rooster sweater. Which makes me think that it was Debbie Bliss, as pretty much the whole sweater was made from DB. Which is why it cost me $70 in yarn to make a baby sweater. Heh, what a sucker I am!

So I knitted (ripping back a few times as the gauge was totally different so I just had to fudge the stitch count as I went along) the liner, blocked it overnight, and then sewed it in last night as Peggers & I watched The Committments. I cut & twisted & tied the tassels this morning.

Overall I like it, and think that hopefully/probably someone will bid on it. But my question is - what should I price it? I'm supposed to assign it a price on the submission sheet - which is where I'm running into a snag. Description, no problem. Care? Easy to write down! But a PRICE????

Honestly for this if a friend wanted to buy it off of me I'd look at the price of the Patons SWS skein ($4.50) & figure maybe another fifty cents for the black wool of the wave pattern & the leftover yellow for the lining and charge maybe $5, $6 at the most. But I know that if I did that for the auction that ultimately the charity that the money goes towards would lose out.

Any suggestions?????????????????

Thursday, January 11, 2007

To Instant Gratification & Back Again

Oh, but here's to instant gratification.

You see the pattern while looking during the day - you go and buy the yarn that night, and by the next morning you have cast on & knitted this much:

And the next day (only taking as long as the next day because you're really, really tired & can't stay up more than, oh 10 rows worth after 10:30 PM) you cast off. Only to find that due to your sheer animal greed & inability to wait more than five seconds your gauge is a wee bit off. And the thing is flippin' HUGE. HUGE. So what do you do - have your friend (R - she of the clapotis) try it on & rip back as much (or as little, she's got a LOT of hair!) as needed and fix it?

Heck no, what you do is put it on the back burner until the next time you see R (rather than go & actively seek her out for a head-fitting) and instead cast on for a second Calorimetry for yourself, instead out of this - Paton's SWS in I forget which colour:

But this one, instead of following the pattern (hey, I may be animalistic & greedy, but at least I'm not COMPLETELY witless!) and knitting the 16 rows or suchlike of all the same instead I knit until I thought the sucker was half big enough and then started the decrease section. And because I couldn't help myself and had wanted to try out the stitch for ages I did the entire middle swath of the hat/headband in Grumperina's Shifting Sands. And now I'm completely enamored of S.Sands and am dying to try it out in more of a....laceweight. But I'm wondering how much of the pattern beauty would be lost in something so thin.

So I like my new Calorimetry very very much, and am hoping to meet up with R in the next week or two for some coffee/tea/chatting and a hat-try-on-session. It's a bit itchy, though. I'd like to knit a liner - but it would have to be something VERY VERY thin (which means loads of stitches & tons of time to knit it - which means UGH in my book!), so I'm wondering if that's actually going to happen.

But moving on in the Instant Gratification thought mode, I also have this to show:

This is my brother’s hat* (Swell – pattern from Knitty) done in both Paton’s SWS (Natural Denim, if memory serves) and the black yarn is just plain ol’ Lions Brand felting wool. Hey - the SWS felts readily enough if you apparently look at it the wrong way, so why not add in a little more excitement to the mix?

*post-blocking pictures coming in a day or two.

I’m quite pleased with it – a bit bummed that I have so many annoying tendrils to weave in (anyone out there who knows how to take two knitted ear flaps & gracefully/perfectly cast on the appropriate number of stitches without screwing it royally up about a dozen times PLEASE tell me the secret to your magic!) but meh – after all they’ll be covered by up the knitted lining anyway (knitted out of a highly-contrasting L.Brand felting – it isn’t nearly as itchy as the Paton’s plus it’s solid which is what I want for the lining… I’m thinking the lining will be orange (burnt umber-ish) or green (acid kiwi-ish) but don’t know which. There was the whole question as to which my brother would prefer, but as this is no longer for my brother it is now a bit of a moot point.

What’s that?

No longer for my brother?

Yeppers. That’s right.

No no no – we didn’t have a sibling spat. No no no – he hasn’t suddenly gone all Chia-Pet on me & sprouted a thick head of hair rendering himself suddenly one of Those Who Don’t Need Hats - rather it's that I knitted it in a size M (who knows how big a M is for this hat, and who knows how big his noggin is?) only to find when I'd finished that indeed a size M in this hat is just about right And I know one thing for certain - there's no way that a guy who is 6'6" has the same-sized head as 5'7" me.

So now the hat is for someone else - hence my indecision on the lining colour.

...............but you know, today I actually **was** personally asked to donate something knitted to a silent auction by my local county arts council raising money for the basic art programs in the area.

What does everyone think - a snazzy knitted lining fit in there and some fun ties (Ooh! Maybe even a fun tassel????) - would that befit a silent auction? The theme is "Dinner with the Bard" (honors William Shakespeare) and they expect to host about 150 people. A ear-flapp'd hat with wavy swooshes on it isn't exactly Shakespeare-themed, that's for certain. And it would be painfully embarrassing to find out that my hat was the only thing not bid on.........

...........hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm........................I dunno' about this one................

Any suggestions/bright ideas?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Crazybusy but fun - how was yours?

Well, PHEW! Holidays are over! Ours were extremely busy & filled with my wonderfully wacky and delightful family members (two of my siblings are shown to the right kindly walking/corralling my little Munchkin down the boardwalk, thereby keeping him from getting run over by bicyclists!) but still - all that family & planning & keeping track of things makes you a bit tired & blurry around the edges by the end of the day, you know?

I only have one knitting disaster holiday-gift story to relate (and no pics, as it was - of course! - my SuperSecret project that I had been working on, and never photographed out of fear of it being discovered...) - and that would be - again, of course! - for my husband.

I was knitting him a vest.

Notice I said 'was'. I took an Interweave Knits cabled vest pattern, threw out the cables as they'd obviously take way too long (and don't forget that I started this in - what - September?) and substituted in some nice Paton's Tweed. With some lovely Paton's Merino in an acid green for a hem liner. I knit the whole thing in the round up to the armholes at which point I divided it and started to knit flat. Then came - oh - the third weekend or so in December when I figured "heck, I won't finish this in time unless I knit it in FRONT of him, so I might as well SHOW it to him!" so out of the knitting bag came the vest and out the window went my surprise.

Imagine, then my surprise - my ducks - when I managed to put it on him and realized that really unless my husband was to suddenly morph into the Hamburgler there was no flipping way this thing was EVER going to fit him. Huge does not begin to even cover it. Monsterously huge is closer to the truth. And I even checked gauge! I was soooooooo annoyed. I was on my 5th (6th?) or so skein of yarn and it looked good! Yeah, sure, it looked BIG, but so what - the guy is 6'4" and over 200 pounds - it SHOULD look big, you know what I mean?

Bugger, I was so, so, so annoyed.

Happily though I made up for it by ripping it ALL out and deciding to being again, this time knitted in the flat instead of in the round (circs just skew any normal sense of knitting proportion, which is already skewed in the first place!) and will most certainly size it on him over and over and over again until I get it right. This is probably better, as he was able to put in a few requests - like more visible acid green on the hems and armholes - and hmmmmm........I wonder if he'd want a zipper along the front instead of a pullover version?

I also made up for my disappointment by knitting myself a hat in record (3-day) time with some handspun hand-dyed fiber that Mom had Christmas gifted me with. I used the Droplet Hat pattern from Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughan that Peggers so kindly got me for Christmas. (Knitting stuff for me for Christmas??? Could there be a more perfect gift?????) The colour is a bit brighter than my typical taste, but I like it muchly nonetheless. It's a wee bit roomy around the forehead, and the yarn is likewise a wee bit itchy/scratchy, so I'm in the process of knitting a ribbed headband to sew inside to both soften it up a bit and to snug up the fit. For the headband I'm using some leftover Meilenweit Mega Boot Stretch that the Harlot first posted about & I promptly fell in love with. This is from my first pair of socks ever, people, so you know the kind of love I'm talking about......

I took a few blog-possible pictures of myself wearing the hat, but I just looked so stupid and fake-ly pouty (I was trying for a model pout!) that I promptly deleted them from my digital & just went for straight 'product' shots instead!

So I've now got a thing with hats. I was looking around on the various blogs, catching up on stuff, when I saw two incredibly beautiful hats via She Shoots Sheep Shots' blog and my heart just about stopped. My brother is a professional ski instructor out in Wyoming (Jackson Hole) & also is breaking into the wildlife photography business at the same time - just had a 4-photo spread in Camping Life & spent several days shooting pics for a fairly prominent fishing supply catalog. (If he told me which supply folks it went right in one ear & out the other - you know, the same way that all of our talk to our non-knitting spouses/partners/friends does when we start to use words like gauge, double-circulars, dpns, etc......) So needless to say, the guy is outside lots. And he's not a hugely curly-headed guy - he goes in for the short & practical cut - so a hat is very, very important to him.

So a passion was immediately & irrationally born. And I'm off to Michael's tonight for some Paton's SWS to buy - both for the hats for my bro & for a Calorimetry for me! Let the Good Times Roll! (Oh, and that reminds me, I'm walking daily in my new jacket & my new sports bra & will give a full report sometime soon on both. I promise. Lots of good updates on that front!)

Not like I don't have enough already-promised knitting in my future! I washed the 2nd red knee-high and still need to rip & re-knit that (note to self - order extra skein of yarn from Knit Picks for knee-high sock.) Can you believe that I have to tell myself to go & order yarn?????? So I have that to rip out & re-knit. I finished my Dusk Socks (Sundara's masterful yarn) for myself, as you can clearly see, but still have one more feather & fan to knit for my friend S - I'm almost to the heel on that one. Then also my aunt, who was visiting over the holidays, was browsing through Gaughan's Knitting Nature and asked me if I'd knit her this. To say that I'm terrified is putting it lightly. This woman - my aunt - works as a professional interior designer for Architect of the Capitol. She's daily in the White House, in Senator's offices, chatting with Congressmen about this & that - she's a brilliant brilliant fashion & design person - and she wants me to knit her a sweater? And not just any sweater - a hard sweater to knit!!!


I'm already wondering if I can talk her into doing a Grumperina special - I mean, the sweater is nice as-is, but it's Oh-So-Much-Nicer done via Kathy's Special Treatment....

On a totally different (aka FOOD) topic can I just say that I love love love technology when it actually helps us out & saves us time instead of wastes time?

Dinner last night was:

Chili w/ my brand-spanking new adobo chili powder - made in my lovely super-duper Crock Pot. (Oh, but walking in the door after a very long day to smell that lovely smell is just **wonderful**, isn't it????)

We also had a super-cheesy carb fest that is a family favorite - Georgian (as in Eastern Europe, not as in Georgia Peach) Katchapuri. I think I have the spelling close to correct. Basically a ton of grated cheese (meunster & monterey jack) mixed w/ some beaten eggs, minced parsley, cilantro, and scallion, salt, and pepper and then mound of cheese mixture is placed in the middle of a round of luscious bread-dough (made w/ yummy stuff like milk & honey) and then sealed - and then baked until all is melted & mixed and slightly browned and just too delicious for mere words to describe. And I did the dough in our bread machine & when I came home all we had to do was mix up the cheese filling, roll out, stuff, let rise, and then bake. For non-cooking types that might sound like a lot of work, but trust me - it wasn't, and it was totally worth it.

Kind of like the apricot-amaretti ice-cream that we made earlier in the week, in our new ice-cream maker.

Here's to not only surviving the holidays but also enjoying the heck out of them as well!