Tuesday, November 21, 2006

My Life My Blog

Concept courtesy of January One's website......

...self portrait with Takezo, the wonder puppy...

Friday, November 10, 2006

More Sock & More Monks

I'm just not too sure about this sock. I think the monks are fantastic, and they're totally sending me good vibes & karma & everything...................but this picot edge just isn't doing it for me. Neither, I have to say, is the size. I did a test swatch and EVERYTHING and measured my calf......just like the YH tells you to in her 'sock' chapter, but somehow it just seemed way too big. 10.5" around my calf, at 7 sts/inch comes out to 75 stitches, that's a no-brainer, but the more I knit it, the bigger it looked until finally this afternoon I totally chickened out and decreased every five stitches down to a grand total of 60. Now I'm thinking I'm totally s.o.l. and that I need to un-stitch down the picot edge and un-ravel everything and re-cast on again for the sucker. Which might mean that I totally skip the picot edge this time around and instead go for a k2p2 ribbing, where I knit into the back of each knit stitch - a look that gives me total hand cramp but I like nonetheless.

(Okay, I just tried it on and I am **so** not in love with this sock. It totally has to go. As I can only find 4 of my size 1 dpns I was knitting on three - and I'm just not good enough to knit on three without having ladders appear at the needle junctions. Knitting with five needles is NO problem, but knitting with a grand total of four is just beyond my ability. So a picot edge that I don't like PLUS ladders? Bye-bye sock! This yarn is just too amazingly beautiful to not do it right. It was actually a gift from R in exchange for knitting her clapotis - isn't that just the best gift in the world???)

Anyway, on to the monks!

The Munchkin's daycare is closed today, so my mother-in-law has graciously come up for the day to babysit the little guy. This morning (before nap!) she brought him over to work to visit the monks - also so that she could see them herself. I took a few pictures that I thought you might like to see...........

(Okay, this non-fuzzy one above I didn't take - my office mate walked over w/ his wife to take a look themselves & this is one of the pics that he sent around the office...)

Do you notice that this is not at ALL the mandala that I thought it was yesterday? I've searched the Drepung Loseling website & can't find out which one it is. I'll have to go back & visit in just a few minutes to see if I can't find out!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Knitting with the Monks

The Drepung Loseling monks are here - and will be creating a sand mandala over the next few days. I was able to watch the opening ceremony yesterday afternoon, and I went over today for about 45 minutes and sat and watched them work on the mandala while I knit on my picot-edged Sundara socks. I'm having a wee bit of trouble with the socks in that I wasn't at ALL able to do Wendy's "knit the cast-on edge together with the current row of stitches" like she said to - in fact I tried a few stitches and then had to give up and just knit instead - I'm going to go back this afternoon and sew down the cast-on edge instead to create my picot top. I think this is because I did a twisted German cast-on instead of the long-tail cast-on that she says to - and as such my cast-on row is way too tight (and twisted?) to work the knit together step. I'll do a long-tail cast on for the second sock and see if I have any better luck.

But I have to tell you, running into a knitting snag while watching three monks create the most incredibly intricate thing in total harmony and peace and unity is a GOOD thing, actually - as you just stay as mellow about it as can be. Any other time and this would have been frustrating - today as I realized that I had run into a snag I just mentally shrugged and kept on knitting, happy as a clam.

Here's my progress so far - when I first sat down this afternoon to watch the monks I was maybe two rows past the yo/k2tog row.......................

..............you've just got to love those monks & their very mellow and productive knitting atmosphere!

As far as I can tell, this is the mandala that the monks are currently working on. I plan on going back several times in the next few days to watch them work - and will most certainly attend the closing ceremony on Sunday at 2 PM. That is when they will sweep all of the sand together into a large pile (dispersing half to the ceremony attendees!) and then take it to our local city park & river where the sand is put into the water "to disperse the healing energies of the mandala throughout the world."

While I have contributed in the past to the Dulaan project, and wholeheartedly encourage my fellow knitters to likewise lend a hand (and totally adore Franklin's Dulaan Knit Along that he threw last week!) , I wanted to start doing something a little bit more...............direct in addition to my other endeavors. To that end I picked up a flyer for the Drepung Loseling Educational Fund and decided that once again in honor of my most incredible maternal grandmother, Elizabeth Jane, that I would once again start to sponsor a monk. I did this the last time that the monks were here - Grams was taken out of school when she was in high school and never allowed to return for financial reasons - and as such she is absolutely passionate about education for absolutely anyone and everyone. So the last time the monks were here (always in the fall) I sponsored one in honor of her and her birthday (she's a November girl, dontcha' know) which I have decided to do again this year. You get to look at all of the monks that are "available" for sponsorship and this guy simply called out to me - he reminds me very very much of my mom's now-deceased best friend's son, Gerald. There was something about his grin (and ears!) that made me reach right out for his picture. I really like this for a number of reasons - not only can I feel like I'm helping directly (food, medicine, and education!) but also there is an address in Karnataka, India where I can write to him..............or more importantly, where I can send him hats, scarves, and maybe some socks to keep him warm in the cold clime where he's currently living and studying.

So, without further ado, let me introduce you!

Lobsang Dhaphel was born in Denma (a place that I haven't yet had any luck looking up) on January 10th, 1980. He entered the monastery in 2004.

Now if only they had the foresight to tell me his shoe size.

Here's hoping that the man isn't allergic to wool!

Icky Sicky Day

This past weekend The Munchkin started to come down with a nasty, sniffly cold. Don't you know that after only about two days he managed to shake the worst of it (knock on wood!) but in the meantime (sneezing ALL OVER ME in the most disgusting & sticky ways!) he passed it along to yours truly.

Monday morning I woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a very solid and completely unsympathetic train - so I went in to do a teeny bit of 'must do' work and then left around 9:30. A stop for a first cup
of coffee and a second stop for some DVDs at the public library later, I was back home and getting ready to settle down on the couch for some serious resting-up time.

This is what I did during my R&R day off:

I drank coffee.

(My too-expensive Cuisinart coffee grinder/brewer having gone kaput on me about a week ago, I'm currently relying on the more time-consuming but always-fail-proof French Press method.)

I sat on the couch with the cats and knitted and watched multiple, multiple DVDs of Sex and the City

I watered a few of my African violets.

(What, like you guys don't have plastic
eyeballs in your potted plants too????)

I worked on my Top-Secret Knitting Project until I ran out of yarn and was forced to stop.

(The project? It's inside the brown bag. You don't think
that I'd actually SHOW it to you, do you?
C'mon! It's Super Top Secret, after all!)

And after I ran out of yarn for the T-S KP I started
swatching for a quickie pair of luxury socks for myself.

(This is some Altacama handwash yarn that is just lovely and gleaming and wonderfully soft, but the swatching check has resulted in the winner being some Sundara superwash sock in Dusk, with a cute little picot edge a-la Wendy, in straight stitch. With a short-row heel. I

I also:
Did one (just 1!) load of laundry
Started the Roomba vacuum upstairs
Prepped that night's meatballs for dinner

Here, however, is a (random and extremely abbreviated) list of what I did NOT do............yet felt that I should be doing on my day to rest & put my feet up & recover:

Put away clean laundry (it mostly belongs to Peggers) ;>

Vacuum the rest of the house
Clean the stairs

Wash all the dirty dishes

Scrub out the bathroom
Mow the lawn
Wash our stinky dog

Finish painting the stair risers

Dust the house
Sweep the downstairs to get what the vacuum missed
Put away the clean clothes currently on the bedroom floor
Clean out the guest bedroom
Clear out & prep the perennial bed for winter
Write thank-you notes for gifts

(You guys all know this list - it just stretches on for EVER, doesn't it???)

Then as I work until 10 PM on Tuesdays, I went in to work VERY late that day (*ahem, late being a euphemism for 5 PM!) after having lazily sat and knitted some more pretty much all day. I finished Peggers' red knee-high that afternoon (and my apologies - I didn't explain it very well at all, but all I needed to do to fix it was remove the sole from the previous sock, and rip it back to the beginning of **just** the foot area, at which point I re-measured then knit JUST the top of the foot over again, then did EZ's pick up & knit moccasin sole thingy for the bottom - easy as easy can be. And while I still have holes along the pick-up edge, they're not NEARLY as bad as on my first pair! And even better? This new single knee-high FITS HIM!!!!!) and also on my lazy Tuesday in addition to knitting the knee-high I:

did dishes
did multiple loads of laundry
washed the dog (85 pounds! With tons of thick fur! That's QUITE a wet job!)
tidied the house

......and the end result of all of that resting and a bit of work over two days? A clean house, a finished red-knee-high, a Top-Secret Knitting Project that is now about halfway finished, several sock swatches that will be revealed later but have major, major promise, and a new interesting in watching the first two disks of the Cazalet series from Masterpiece Theatre. (What ever inspired me to grab the last disk from the public library and watch the second-to-last episode first????)

Oh yeah, and no more sniffles or aches on my part. It was either the resting or else all that knitting & Carrie Bradshaw. Who will ever know for sure which it was......or hmmmm...........................maybe it was all three?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Post 2: Huge-mongous Red Knee-High Socks

As I couldn't get Peggers to pose for any pictures, and I do want to get these knitted and off of my needles (and off myTo-Knit list!) I decided that I'd simply have to self-model them myself.

Now bear in mind that one of the reasons that I'm frogging these is because they're too long on my 6'4" husband......................and I'm only 5'7". So consider that extra length AND difference in proportions when you see them on my own (shockingly-pale) leg!

(I have to say that this yarn - KnitPick's Swiss Superwash - really is VERY soft. It feels lovely as a sock - it would be sheer heaven as a sweater.)

The pattern I used for these was straight from EZ & her Knitting Without Tears (which I was able to effortlessly get from my Inter-Library Loan department at work) and knitted up as quick as quick can be. Knit at a gauge of only 5 or 6 stitches per inch I cast on 74 stitches for the ribbed cuff (K1P1) and knit that for about 2 inches. Then I decreased straight down in one single round to 64 stitches, knit at that rate for about 6 or 7 rounds, and then started gradually decreasing for the calf, tapering it every four rounds until only 58 stitches remained.

I did a vaguely fancy thing with the ribbing for the main body of the sock (and note that I say vaguely fancy, meaning that it is something that all other normal proficient knitters would do in their sleep without even realizing it, but it was something that I thought about and debated before trying out....) - instead of jumping from the K1P1 ribbing of the cuff to the K2P2 ribbing of the main sock I instead did a little segue way into the main sock ribbing that resulted in it looking something like this:

I know - not at all fancy for most folks, but still pretty satisfying for me to plan out and then actually LIKE the way it looks. And when I showed it to Peggers? LOL. He just nodded his head & said "yup" and motioned for me to keep on knitting!

So I knit for what seemed like FOREVER (about 16-18" actually) and then after several fittings (and {ahem!}I must say, after my husband said those fatal words "It can't be too long of a sock, honey!") decided that it was finally time to start doing the whole slipped-stitches thing for the top of the foot. For, you see, the sock is made in true EZ fashion - which is to say utterly bizarre when you're knitting it up and absolutely brilliant once it's finished!

So you put about 8 or so stitches (the heel stitches, ultimately) on a holder and then keep knitting for the rest of the foot, slipping the first and last as you go until the foot is about two inches from where you want it to end. After you've done that you go back and pick up all along that slipped-stitch edge, pick up the stitches on the holder, and then pick up along the second slipped-stitch side, and then start knitting in the round for what turns out to be a really bizarre shaped yet totally sensible foot.

Now mind you the foot doesn't look too bizarrely-shaped here (but OH! Those holes!!!) but that's because it's stretched out on my foot - which is where, incidentally, EZ's genius comes into play. But see what it looks like when it's NOT stretched out on a foot?????

I mean, whose heel is ever THAT pointy and whose foot ever......oozes (for lack of a better word) down that far??? See? EZ was just a wee bit mad and more than a wee bit brilliant, I'm thinking......

Anyway, you knit for a bit just in the heel area (short rows) and then you knit halfway around until you're at the toe area and then you knit for a bit just in the toe region (again, short rows) and then once you're done with that you knit all the way around several times, do a decrease row, etc. until you've only got a few stitches left. Now this is the only place where EZ failed me where I failed EZ - I did the decreasing exactly as it said (& in her usual way the instructions were pretty vague) and when it came time to thread all of the remaining stitches together & pull the yarn tightly & weave in the end I realized that I was left with - oh - 30+ stitches and that this meant that Peggers was going to have himself a VERY uncomfortable pair of fire-engine red knee-highs unless I did some quick decreasing - so I decreased exponentially in another round or so and then was left with 7 or stitches to pull tight and weave in the end for. It looked bizarre but it worked, and that's what matters in the long run. Because uncomfortable socks just Don't Get Worn.....and I'll be damned if I'm doing all of this knitting for something that isn't going to be worn!

(Oh, and somewhere in there around the toe - as instructed - I started knitting with both the Swish & with a strand of Wooly Nylon that I got to help things stay sturdy & shapely. My first W.N. choice - a deep merlot red - oddly enough showed up when stretched & knitted as grape popsicle purple. So my second choice of W.N. - a rusty orange - actually worked out much better - that was more of a pale red when stretched & carried along with my working yarn.....)

I stayed up until 1-ish in the morning to finish these, I was so excited to be *so*close* - and was quite crushed, actually, when I realized that they were too long on Pegger's leg. Drat! However I have since recovered (nothing like a few Very Satisfying Finished Objects to smooth over one's ruffled feathers, huh?) and have realized that in fact this was probably all for the best. After all it's always on the SECOND item that you work out all of the snafu's that you knitted in the first! So that means that I:

* need to figure out how to eliminate those holes along the entire freaking foot from where I picked up all of those slipped stitches. I knit into the back of the stitches and EVERYTHING to avoid the holes - which obviously didn't work (but makes me shudder to think of the absolute caverns that I would have ended up with if I hadn't twisted the stitches!) - so I need to come up with a second plan.

* need to decrease faster & more (Kate, please forgive me for causing you such pain, as that's horrid horrid horrid grammar, I know - bear with me as it's a Friday afternoon & the Munchkin woke up this morning AGAIN at 5 AM and it's just the best that I'm currently capable of) so that I'm not left with 30+ funky stitches and nowhere to go with them except a big bunching mass of them right under the arch of the foot.

* I also need to make the foot longer - bizarrely enough - it's far too big for my foot (duh!) but on P's size thirteen feet the sock is stretched too much around the toe region and so that needs to be longer. So what I might do is slip this sucker on his (sleeping) leg tonight once he's asleep and then measure & scribble as needs be - so that while he's gone this weekend I can get started {sniffle, sniffle, sniffle} ripping out ALL of that knitting and re-knitting all of those twisty miles of sock over again. Properly. Both longer and shorter - and all at once...

2 Post Friday - Post 1: Eye Candy Friday

For Jessie - so that she can say how someone else has chicken-related pictures in her blog....


We are (founding!) members of our sole local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) group, Provident Organic Farm. "Our" farmer - Jay - has recently added chickens to his mix, and last week my husband bought a dozen lovely, freshly-laid eggs to add to the kale, butternut squash, scallions, lettuces, swiss chard, and other lovelies that were part of last week's share.

With some major persuading, and a firm grasp on his wayward arm, I persuaded Munchkin to hold somewhat still ("somewhat" being a very relative term for a 19-month old child!) so that I could take a picture of his egg.

Hence - my Eye Candy Friday picture.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


You mean you actually want to SEE the finished clapotis?

Really, now, I'm shocked.

Don't you instead want to see the little weeny baby hat that I whipped out in only 3 episodes of Sex & the City last night??? KnitPicks Wool of the Andes (Andes? Himalayas?) in a pumpkin-ish hue.

Ironically enough blocked on a tiny pumpkin for the perfect baby-noggin shape. This one is going to my office-mate (his wife is due in January even though she looks like she's ready to pop any second!), and a second will be made tonight/tomorrow night to give to some inter-league volleyball players that Peggers regularly competes against (their little boy is 9 weeks old). The pattern is from One Skein - it's a breeze to cast on for & whip out once you get the first 12 rows (the 'umbrella pattern') down. I myself had tremendous problems with it - had to cast on & rip off twice before I nailed it for the third time - mostly because I simply cannot get my brain to process reading a pattern like that in such tiny font with repeats and suchlike in linear form. I actually have to re-format the pattern in order to get my brain to master it - once I've done that I'm completely good to go. I found this out (the hard way) with Birch...

For example - here is round 2 and round 3 as written:

Rnd 2: *K1,yo,k1,p2tog,p1,[k1,p3] 2 times,k1,p1,p2tog,k1,yo;rep from * to end of rnd.
Rnd 3: *K3,p2,[k1,p3] 2 times,k1,p2,k2; rep from * to end of rnd.

.....now that goes on for 12 rounds all squished together in tiny type. Even though I'm no Harlot or Grumperina or anything you'd think that I'd totally be able to do that simple a pattern without royally screwing it up, right? NOPE! Not unless it's vertically formatted in a column-like way - I put 3 or 4 rounds on each page and for some totally bizarre reason my brain can handle vertical instructions like that without a single snag or hitch. Here is Round 2 as I can finally understand it:

Round 2
[k1,p3] two times
repeat from * to end

.....so that's what I did last night. I soaked and blocked R's clapotis, then knitted the baby hat, then soaked and blocked it on a little punkin' and then crashed into sleep happy & content - two finished objects in one night!

Don't the little swirls on top just look too cute????

.........okay, okay, okay - on to the clapotis!

Before I stuck it in the sink to block last night I laid it out on the kitchen floor to get a pre-blocking measurement. This sort of thing is always extremely interesting to me - my own clapotis (Noro Silk Garden) got HUGE after blocking - I mean seriously huge - so I was interested to see what this would do - even though being knit from 100% rayon I didn't expect a huge amount of growth like I saw with the silk/wool blend of the Noro.

Before blocking the clapotis measured at 61"x20" - quite respectable measurements in and of themselves, I'd say!

A nice soak in some lavender-scented Eucalan (I know, Eucalan is for wool, but hey - it probably didn't HURT the rayon, so why not?) and a swish and a rinse (and a little bit of colour bleeding, but nothing horrid like others had led me to believe was par for the course with every Interlacements dye job) and then I laid it out on two towels on our guest bed to dry overnight. Several hours later out of curiousity I peeked in - the shawl seemed to be completely dry but the cotton towels underneath were still wet (!) so I gave myself a stern lecture and left it alone until this morning.

At which point I got out the measuring tape again and found that the soaking and drying flat had allowed it to increase to 68" long and 26" wide - not too shabby! It also evened out some of the snagged stitches and some of the odd-laying twisted stitches on either side of the ladder rows. All in all, I have to say, I'm quite pleased with this and think that R will be too. I even stuck it on my scale this morning just to be thorough and can report that it weights a satisfyingly hefty 9.5 ounces.

Then I tried to photograph it and was extremely disappointed. It just.....lays there! To really come alive I think that you'll need to see it on someone - to see the way that it drapes and flows and hangs - and the way that it can twist up into a perfectly-sized scarf and the way that it can also effortlessly expand into a shawl.....and all the many variations between.

.......and R, you know what that means, right?


But without further ado.................................

...to me this shot on the floor just looks **so** much like oil on water.....and I just love that to pieces!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

le clapotis...

.......c'est fini.