Friday, August 08, 2008

retail therapy

We had some fantastically good news this week - just yesterday in fact - the news that Peggers was selected as a teacher's aide for a special education program at our local high school, which is just wonderful. Unfortunately, though, I have also been (mentally) slammed with a ton of bad news this week as well.

And unfortunately, the bad column currently far far outweighs and outranks the good.

My paternal grandparents are having some major medical problems at the moment - my 91 year old grandmother is beginning the slow, painful descent into dementia. And as my 89 year old grandfather - her sole caregiver - is currently in the hospital recovering from hip replacement surgery, this is a difficult time for the family.

On my mom's side of things, my stepfather, who has finally recovered from cancer and appallingly painful and complicated gallbladder surgery just a few months back, found himself back again in the O.R. this week - a blocked bowel that had left him in severe pain & horridly emaciated. The surgery went well, overall, despite their having to remove over 2 feet of bowel, however this morning he has no feeling in his left arm from the elbow down- - a new - and obviously unwanted - concern.

Then, the final thing that absolutely sent me over to the retail therapy edge seeking some relief, was the news last night that one of the dearest, sweetest people in the world - a college friend who means the absolute world to me - is back from her life abroad in South East Asia due to health concerns. An ultrasound earlier in the week shows a large mass on her liver, and she's at the urologist today finding out what information she can - but thoughts of liver cancer are certainly at the forefront of everyone's mind.

So I ran to do a little buying/knitting therapy - thinking that I needed to create something for myself that is soothing and comforting - something I can wrap up in and hunker down with to ride out this latest wave of pain and fear that is heading our way. And so I have discarded my thrifty plans of recycling an old wool sweater into a custom dyed version of Linear. Instead I just purchased 8 skeins of this in a shade that only Brooklyntweed can properly do justice. Not the original colour I had in mind, but certainly a beautiful shade that I'll happily wear any day.



{In my defense of my original plan to pace myself (vis-a-vie my progress on the silk tank I'm knitting up for Gryphon, seen above) let me say that I finished the knitting & re-knitting on the body just last night. I'm casting on for the two silk/cashmere side-panel triangles tonight & will work on them like the devil.........only taking breaks to pet my new yarn (once it arrives!) every now and then.}

Nothing like the shiny-bright promise of a new project to get a girl moving along!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Friday, August 01, 2008

Twist Collective goes live

The Twist Collective is up!

I'm not too sure how thrilled I am at the idea of having to buy the patterns one by one*, but the alternative (buying a whole book just for one stinkin' decent pattern, as I'm currently considering doing with Norah Gaughan's Volume 3 just so that I can get my hands on the single pattern for 'Linear' ) is sure a lot worse!

*(plus, I really like the way that it fairly treats the designers, you know?)

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Progress

We're making progress in our little corner of the world - Peggers has had several job interviews, and the best interview that he's managed to score yet (where, I might add, he's the *only* candidate and pay - while appallingly low - nonetheless includes tuition remission for his future graduate classes & full benefits) is next week. We're both really excited about where our future seems to be going.

I've been hitting the gym with obsessive regularity (easy to stop worrying about how the bills are going to get paid or where our little family will be in the grand scheme of things 8 months from now when every single brain cell is totally needed to keep yourself from not mis-running a step on the treadmill, falling off, and breaking both your legs) and the results have been quite satisfactory. While I might be too tired to stay up nearly as late - knitting - as I used to, I've dropped about 2 clothing sizes and now do well over 150 crunches a day. Not bad for a girl who used to top out at 12 (weak) crunches total. Amazing for the stress levels - amazing.

I've been knitting some when I can - mostly on Gryphon's silk tank, which is about 90% finished, on a friend's birthday hat (happy belated birthday, Eric!), and I finally finished up my co-worker's lace shawl after casting on for it last October. Unfortunately, we lost our digital camera right around the time that the law office downsized and 'lost' their one & only paralegal - hah! - so not a lot of recently-taken pictures floating around here at the moment. However I've borrowed a digital camera for a few weeks from a department on campus, so that should keep me in pictures for a bit - and there are always the archives to peruse!

I realized today while online shopping for some Baby Surprise Jacket materials (I lent towards STR at first, until I read their 'orders processed in 5-10 days' statement, and as this is a last-minute request for a silent auction that is going to be held on the 17th, I switched gears & went with some Fleece Artist from the always-dependable, always-lovely The Loopy Ewe instead. An order, I might add - that shipped a mere 2 hours after I placed it!!!!!) that I never have displayed all of my wondrous gifts from my May Day Sock Swap pals. (I had my regular May Day Swap pal & then I had several other amazingly lovely women send me stuff as well - can you believe my luck????) And I figured - what else is a belated post for, if not to break the long silence with a proverbial bang? So, in no particular order - here you go - to keep things simple I'm going to figure that you guys can mostly figure out what is what - if a label isn't prominent, I'll label it for you, but otherwise.........who amongst us can't pick out a skein of STR at 20 paces?

(Every package from KT had these *lovely* little labels on them!)

Spinning fiber - soy, soy/cashmere, and something called inigo that I've never heard of before!


Koigu KPPPM

(the Undulating Rib pattern)

(from Marisol out in SanFrancisco - they smelt deliciously of lavender!)

(long ago eaten!)

(what FUN this will be!!!)


(the buttons are hand-made by a woman's co-op in Africa)

(a future cowl for me)

(ditto)

Well, such a long post from someone who has been silent so long! I'll re-surface yet again in a few weeks, I'm certain - with a few photos, some home-improvement details, and hopefully some new-job news as well!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

note to self

When you finally start knitting interesting things again and your mojo has finally returned, and you get around to **finally** knitting that much-belated birthday (April!) hat out of Malabrigo for your brother - you know, the crazy one who is now officially certified to do this:

A self-portrait taken while on a paragliding solo flight. After 25 hours of lessons he's now a full-licensed lunatic who can go out on his own whenever he's got whopping amounts of cash to do so.


but who otherwise and more frequently looks like this:

Taken during a recent trip to the Bahamas where he was doing a catalog shoot. (He's a professional photographer.) Apparently he & his gf found a ruined airplane - you know how they're always just left lying around - and so he decided to climb in.) Do you know how incredibly annoying it is to have a younger brother this good looking? (6'6" - probably 210 pounds & all muscle!) Very much so! ;>


........don't forget that he apparently has a huge noggin. Tom said that his cowboy hat size (Cowboy hat size???? Sheesh, those folks who live in Wyoming are really the only ones who think in these terms! Well, folks in Wyoming and Lyle Lovett, that is.) is a 7 & 5/8 - - which in the knitting world translates to a head diameter of 24".

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Thunder. Lightening. Very very frightening!

I thought that maybe last night I could set up my new nifty tripod and take some fiber & FO pictures, but alas, a major major thunderstorm came through town and instead wiped out a few roof tiles {groan, we *just* had a good dozen or so tiles replaced!}, downed many branches, flooded a few roadways, and in general sent all sensible creatures scurrying inside.

While putting the Munchkin to sleep, I heard the National Weather Service break in with the following warning:
"....the storm is moving south east and should be over [insert name of my county here] in the next 25 to 35 minutes. Hail, the size of nickels or quarters has been reported with this storm. All travelers should get off the road and everyone should seek shelter indoors immediately."

And normally, while I like a good thunderstorm, this one scared the living bejesus out of me, so rather than calmly take pictures, I instead sought comfort the best way I could that evening - with a disk of Foyle's War from the public library and I cast on for a very basic brioche ribbed hat for the Munchkin with some of my (badly done) handspun - Hello Yarn's BLF dyed up in her 'Insect Wings' colourway.

And so I knit on that while the worst of the storm passed & I could relax a bit.


So, alas, this morning I've got absolutely nothing to show you as far as fleece pictures or FO pictures go. Tonight is a bust as well for taking pictures, as happily enough we've been offered freebie babysitting from my mother-in-law who is in town to lend a hand with my niece and nephew while their private school is closed but the public-school-scheduled summer camps aren't yet open - so Peggers and I are hitting up the best Indian restaurant in town for some naan and sag panner (ummmm, maybe some chana masala as well!) and then retiring to Barnes & Noble for a slice of cheesecake (him) and cup of decaf (me) and some browsing of upper-eschelon-esque literature with lots of highbrow conversation. (You know what I mean - he'll check out the latest Star Wars novel, or the latest Batman trade paperback while I search in vain for a single spinning book in the whole store or a new book on knitting that I feel like splurging on - and then I'll grab a copy of People or some other trashy mag and will sit and talk about the crazy clothes that celebrities actually *pay* other people to tell them to wear.)

To keep this from being an almost completely pictureless post, I spent some valuable work time this morning putting together the following mosaic. It was LOADS of fun, actually. The associated Flickr group is called 'thegame' and here are the basic rules:

a.) type your answer to each of the following questions into Flickr's search box
b.) using only the first page, pick an answer
c.) copy & paste each of the URLs for the images into fd's mosaic maker

Questions:
1.) What is your first name?
2.) What is your favorite food?
3.) What high school did you go to?
4.) What is your favorite color?
5.) Who is your celebrity crush?
6.) Favorite drink?
7.) Dream vacation?
8.) Favorite dessert?
9.) What do you want to be when you grow up?
10.) What do you love most in life?
11.) One word to describe you
12.) Your flickr name


1. Susan, 2. coffee, 3. Oswego, 4. bluegreen, 5. Nathan Fillion, 6. red wine, 7. New Zealand, 8. gooseberry fool, 9. Beautiful old lady from Darap(Sikkim) village, 10. laughing, 11. awake, 12. pointy stick

p.s. many thanks to both Ava & Lola for alerting me to this fun meme. And A&L - in the spirit of nice paybacks, have you seen this recipe yet for home-baked sea-salt brownies?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

R&R

Ohhhhhhhhhhh but I've been gone a long time! I took last week off from work to give myself a bit of a break - and once I made the decision to do that, I really, really devoted myself to taking a break. I turned down several offers to spend vacation time with others (one offer involved a plane ride, one involved a bit of driving, the other was in town & involved lunch & small family members) and pretty much thoroughly resisted the urge to do any of the following while I was home resting:

* laundry
* grocery shopping
* dishes
* vaccuuming
* tidying of any sort, actually
* checking my work e-mail


So instead of doing these things what I instead devoted my time to was:

* spinning (a whole lot of spinning!)
* knitting up some of my handspun
* watching 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' on DVD from my public library
* gardening
* taking a single, luxurious, 2-hour nap
* cooking - the refreshing & fun kind, not the exhausting kind
* dyeing roving

While I most certainly could have survived a second (or even third!) week off from work and a bit more lazing about, the time that I got in was nonetheless lovely. I did much more spinning (and gardening) than I did knitting, but I did knit & finish one fun fast little hat - now I just need to pull out my new digital camera tripod and take a (non-blurry!) picture of it. Soon - I promise.


I actually need to take a ton of pictures. The few that I took while R&R'ing (a weeny little bump of a 2-phase dyeing experiment of mine, plus my little dye experiment standard colour references drying in the breeze, a few of the garden - aren't hollyhocks pretty?, my 'Red Velvet' handspun all wound up & ready for me to cast-on) are nice and all, but not nearly enough to show what I was up to for for a full week. The last picture in the mosaic shot is of our new fence - one that we dreamt up, designed, built, and then stained ourselves, with some very kind help from my brother in law & father in law. GOODNESS but that gave us more than a few splinters & stain splashes! Not to mention a minor dent in the ol' wallet. That was a multi multi-step project - and one that is now 97% finished. The last 3% should happen this weekend, I am very happy to report, as long as we don't get rained out for a second weekend in a row.

Once I have an empty morning when I can pull out the digital and my skeins of handspun and my incredible 'savior' gifts, plus my fun little knit I will show you properly what exactly I was doing all of those nicely-quiet moments.

Of course, I could also take a picture of my pillow & blanket & the inside of my eyelids as well, in case anyone was wondering how my R&R nap went...............

;)

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tell me True

First there was fishing.


(Munch didn't get a hook on the end of his pole - no way no how! - instead he got a rubber worm {he calls it his "wormy"} which delighted him to no end.)


A friend from daycare came along to make the afternoon more enjoyable.


Then this weekend, before the 3+ hour graduation ceremony that I was required to attend for work, there was fiber dyeing. I tried the oven-roasting method this time around.


After everything dried, there was handpainted roving.



There was a peony. Big. Beautiful. Spicy smelling in the most delicious way. (Peonies are my favorite flower.)



'Hive' was finished and left as a single - 410 yards.


A scarf was started with the Hive singles. However, sadly, this scarf will soon be frogged, as the yarn & the pattern Are. Not. Working.


I am grieving over this, but I will survive.


Why will I survive, you ask? Hello Yarn rovings arrived in the mail yesterday.

'Honeybear' - 8 ounces in merino/mohair.


'How to Pick Carrots' - 8 ounces in Wenseydale.


Wenseydale is some HAIRY fiber, lemmie' tell you. It drafts about as easily as puffing a down feather through the air - the speed with which it slides apart is almost frightening - but this stuff? As hairy as Cousin It after a ride in a convertible!

I spun some up last night. Actually, that's not true - I spun up almost 4 full ounces last night. I'll spin the rest tonight and Thursday night and then will ply them together and thrill with the results.

My question to all of the spinners out there - look at the scarf that I started and see how just flat-out horrid it looks. Do you always get such pronounced striping when you knit up handspun? Is there anything I can do to prevent my knitting from striping so badly - some trick in the spinning or drafting or plying to make it less pronounced? Or is it just me and my spinning newness that is causing this? You can be honest with me - I can take it - I'm a big girl when it comes to my knitting and spinning.

I'm not a big striping fan - in fact I might end up dyeing and spinning up a whole new bundle of fiber to cast on again for the Ribbon Lace Scarf - as I really can just 'see' that scarf knitted up in a beautiful subtly-mottled yellow & gold handspun. Just not the stripy handspun that I've currently knitted it with...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

To everything - turn, turn, turn

Lately, I just can't get enough of my spinning wheel. I'm doing some knitting here and there, but man - the spinning? It's just recharging my batteries in such a way that I find it's about all I want to do in the evenings - so much so that I actually first contemplated then mourned the fact that our bathroom was too small for me to bring up my (admittedly compact) wheel so that I could get in just a few more minutes while I supervised the Munch in the tub.

(And don't anyone even *say* the words 'drop spindle' to me - they are evil & are never to defile my house again!) With apologies out there to everyone who loves their drop spindles more than their Addis. I know - I know - it's my issue, and my failing - but I'm going to keep blaming the equipment as long as I possibly can.

Last night while my two men slumbered the sleep of the just (and the totally exhausted) I watched a classic 80s movie and spun up the second half of my latest - and last - Hello Yarn fiber club offering.


Hello Yarn's April Fiber Club - 'Hive' 100% Falkland wool.

I'm very excited about this, as I actually have a plan for it. I'm going to take some of the undyed rovings that I [ahem] ordered from H.Y. yesterday and do a kettle dye of either a very pale yellow or else a very pale (bright) brownish orange and then hopefully spin that up as semi-finely as I did this. Then the two will be plied together into a more or less thick fingering weight and I'll knit the latest Veronik Avery offering - the Lace Ribbon Scarf from the resultant handspun. I'm absolutely tickled with the idea - so ducks, if there are any glaring problems with this little ol' plan of mine, send them my way nicely and softly, so that my bubble bursts slowly, 'kay?

Oh. My. Trouble.

I just went to Hello Yarn's shop to link to the two rovings above that I bought and, uh, Adrian appears to have snuck in a wee fiber update *just* as I was clicking in to get the appropriate links. And I appear to have bought 8 ounces of this and 8 ounces of that. Oh dearie me. How on earth did that happen?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? (n.b. 8 ounces of Wenseydale & 8 ounces of 70/30 merino/mohair. Oh. Oh oh oh oh oh. YES!)

{ahem} Moving right along, people. Nothing to see here. Move along, now.

So anyway, back to my handspun that I've been working on lately. I'll start off with the picture(s) of shame first - my butchering of the February Hello Yarn Fiber Club offering - 'Insect Wings'.

U. G. H.


Overspun. Overplied. Gnarly as all hell. Rescued in terms of touch only because I followed the advice of an article in Spin Out and beat the living hell out of this skein. I dropped it in just-boiled soapy water (!) and then pounded it with a pestle. Then I lifted it into a sink of cold water, squeezed it, and then dropped it back in the hot pot and pounded it again. Once more into the icy sink, and then spun out in the washer. Then whacked repeatedly against the floor, then hung to dry. It's obviously a bit felted now (hah!) but it is MUCH softer, and while it is still overspun and overplied, it is at least nicer to touch now, and should be better to knit into something. Now, let's just put that behind us and call it a (painful) learning experience, shall we?

Banish it from your thoughts, all.


Better. BETTER!!! Balanced. Squishy. Much more even. Happiness in yarn form!

A fat, happy skein of yarn.

Hello Yarn's March Fiber Club offering. 'Red Velvet'. I cannot remember the exact fiber, but it was lovely to spin up. BFL? Merino? I cannot remember. Shame on me and my horrid note-taking! This was majorly fun to spin up. Loads of fun to ply. The difference? I slowed waaaaay down in my overall spinning, pre-drafted until I was happy with the result, and tried a different hand position for the actual spinning/draft triangle action itself. I also decided that I'd rather be a slow, decent spinner rather than a fast, crappy spinner. I decided to embrace my learning curve, as it is, rather than try and deny it and shoot right on past all of the (obvious) learning that I need to do to ultimately be the kind of spinner that I'd like to be.

A final shot of the good & the bad. (No ugly. I don't & won't take pictures of those skeins!)

The two next to each other for a rough visual comparison. One fat and happy, the other twisted and miserable. Maybe the one on the right needs a little therapy to become more mellow and relaxed - hmmmmmmmm??? (if only it were that easy to fix a skein of arsed-up handspun!)


This is the result of some older singles that were on a bobbin and just hanging around the house - I spun up an equal amount on Monday and then plied two strands together until I ran out on one bobbin - then practiced doing a triple ply. I think the skein is halfway decent only because the first bobbin's worth was so old that the majority of my bad (over)spinning was calmed down due to the long resting time. Another lesson to be learned! I've left the bulk of this roving to be spun later, when I have a better sense of what I want to do with it. It's PRETTY, and spins wonderfully - a beautifl blend of merino & tencel that I bought off of FatCatKnits via Etsy several months back.

And lastly, just because I can (tee-hee!) a picture of what I was looking at and who I was talking to when I was taking all of the other above pictures:

Kim. Staking Baptisia australis. Standing next to a species of allium that is nearly as tall as the Munchkin. Ducks, there is not a single thing that this woman cannot make grow and grow and grow!

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy my little guy a kiddie fishing pole & make a picnic for the two of us to eat next to the lake tonight as a surprise treat while Daddy is away for the evening playing volleyball.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

second verse, same as the first

This morning, I made Nigella's Chocolate Mint cookies for my MIL while the Munch happily wore his Penguin sweater & played with his cars. I drank coffee & ate a muffin.

Not too shabby.

Sunday Update:

* Still no May Day Socks.

* Still no progress on the Chuck's. (I tried - really I did, but after knitting a round and then taking a closer look at it only to realize that I had arsed it up and had to tink back the W.H.O.L.E. R.O.U.N.D. I decided to quit. Plus my needles aren't pointy enough to make the cabling overly-easy. ) After that last upset, I'm thinking that the Chuck's might marinate for a bit - alone - in a ziploc bag - in the dark - until I decide what exactly would be best to do with them.

* I've started the second pattern repeat on my Twisted Flower socks. Still loving the yarn & adoring my new KnitPicks 'Harmony' needles - the pointy little tips are exactly what I need for these yo's and ssk's. Isn't it lovely when a project comes together like this? I just adore how such a lovely serendipitous lining up of events totally makes the project fly by, and the entire thing a joy from beginning to end.


* I'm currently 5 repeats done on the Primavera socks. As I'm making these for a sized 13-foot recipient, I'm tempted (as always) to limit the length of the leg so that I have enough yarn left over for the foot itself. For those of you who are wondering a size 13 man's foot is approximately 11.5" long. So that means that I'd need to knit the foot 10" long before decreasing for the toe. That is a HECK of a lot of knitting - especially considering that I was going to make the leg only 5" long and to do so it looks like I'll use approximately 2/3 of a skein of KnitPicks Risata. I might go for broke, though, and make the leg a full 7" long and see how much it uses - and if I need to buy an extra skein to make the pair, I'll simply buy an extra skein (ahem - or two). After all, it's not like I'm worried about dyelots matching, and it's not like the Risata costs a fortune per skein. And after all, doesn't a man who fetched me coffee and muffins this morning (when he loathes the smell of coffee) deserve a sock with a 7" long leg?

Blurry. This is because I had a good shot of the sock - a non-blurry shot - and unfortunately I accidentally deleted it. Yet when I looked in the Recycle Bin it 'tis empty of non-blurry Primavera sock shots. Don't ask, as I don't have an answer.

I'm still quite blurry around the edges myself from this virus (I woke up this morning feeling like a Charles Dickens character, so much was I hacking up diseased lung bits) so I'm taking off from work tomorrow to simply rest and nap and try and get some energy back. I was feeling better Friday, but I have a sneaking suspicion that working yesterday & today took off that tiny bit of new lustre.

I shall spin and knit tomorrow, and rest up and restore my energy levels. Should be good times - I mean, I'm certainly looking forward to it!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

4 hours of work on a Saturday...

...is a very boring thing.

Thank goodness there is [always] knitting to bring along!

3 pairs of socks (altho' I have to be honest & admit that the Chuck's Cabled pair didn't see any action today) kept me busy while I watched a handful of students freak themselves out over final exams & overdue papers.

First up - Chuck's Cabled Socks (by Eunny) - inspired by Mel:

Taken *with* a flash - no idea why this is so dark. The grey is actually correct in this picture.

Taken without a flash (at work, while bored) - the grey looks minty green.
The not-doing-it-for-me colours are even worse in this shot!

Blah. These socks are not working for me. No inspiration to keep knitting, despite the fact that I like the yarn(s) and I like cables. But I'm determined to keep on trying until I get to the 'colourwork' at the heel and then make up my mind on what I should ultimately do.

Second up to Bat: Primavera Socks via
S(t)ockinette

Cast-on at 3 PM in KnitPicks Risata. My goal is to complete the ribbing (all 15 rounds of it) before falling asleep tonight.


Last up - Twisted Flower Socks (by Cookie A) in MamaBlue's Sea Merino sock yarn:

(her 'beekeeper' colourway)

These are fun. I love love love the yarn, and so far like the pattern, even though it's not at all intuitive and I frequently have to check the chart and can all-too-easily loose my place. But still. I'm contemplating ordering some Wooly Nylon to work in when I knit the heel, as this yarn & this pattern are both too precious to lose after only a few wearings.

And now, time for me to brag & do a little dance of joy!


I didn't screw it up royally! I didn't screw it up royally!!!!!!

Right smack off the niddy-noddy. Notice the overall lack of super-coiling and twisting? That is truly amazing for such an otherwise newbie & therefore over-spinning crap spinner like myself! I'm THRILLED with this!

Another, because I just couldn't help myself at that point. The yarn has since been soaked, spun, and dried. and is so soft and plush and squishy that I'm just giddy with delight. I brought it to work with me and have frequently - over the past four hours - pulled it out and petted it.


And certainly not least - a little snack item that I can't recommend highly enough (even if it is currently too-high in calories and overall fat grams, and therefore needs a bit of tweaking before I start serving it up on the weekly basis that I'd like to have it feature in at my house...)


A Friend To Knit With's un-named strawberry cake/cookie thing. Mine is actually a strawberry/raspberry/blackberry cake/cookie thing.

More to the point, mine is actually now a single slice hanging out by itself in the fridge.

(....I'll be back tomorrow with another fun-filled post - as I've a second four-hour shift to work on what will most certainly be a deadly-boring Sunday afternoon!)