Friday, May 30, 2008

Sock Debut

The Rainbow Swirl Socks had their maiden voyage today. Although I started them last year, I only finished them last night. Not for lack of love. When Cynthia chose them for the Knitting Central Sock Club, I used the rest of the skein to make the large size, and leftovers to have the medium size test knit. Then I got paranoid and hung out to the large one for ages, just in case, and I only pulled it out a month or so ago. So for all that time I had a mismatched pair because one didn't fit me.
But now I have a full pair and happy feet.
I was working I-Cord on the train this morning. Boy, did that make me feel conspicuous. As though knitting on the train isn't conspicuous enough as it is, I kept having to raise it all up above my head to check the length. Instead of trying to remember a measurement or row count I'm just holding #2 up to #1. I'm about 2/3 done. yippee! Still, I don't think I'll make the goal of being able to take it to Las Vegas with me. Even if I can finish the I-Cord and get it felted this weekend, I think the deadline would put too much pressure on mom for the lining. And, really, I want her to be able to take her time and mess with it and be happy with the results, right?
Of course once the I-Cord is done, which will hopefully be soon, I'm not sure what I'll work on for my commuting project. (glee, I need a commuting project.) My Nell sweater is too big at this point (so that Vegas deadline was also missed). There are my poor neglected TipToe Socks, but weaving ends on the train doesn't sound like fun. I'm thinking it will have to be my Arrgyles. At this point on sock #1 I'm through the intarsia scull & cross bones, so it shouldn't be too complicated for the train. (actually, I should get hopping on weaving in those ends too.)
Or, actually, I should work on the bigger size of my Cat's Pajamas Socks. The only trick there will be managing to write down the numbers for the gusset decreases and the pattern on the side of the foot. Still I'll probably find a way to manage.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Exciting Continuation of the Tale of the Fingerless Mitts

Ambrosia mitts finished
Originally uploaded by TravelingAnn

Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! I can't breath. Remember back in February when I sent the pattern and sample of my Top Down Fingerless Mitts for consideration for inclusion in a new pattern book?
Well—My pattern was accepted!!
Let's all take a minute to let that sink in. And do a happy dance.
I received the e-mail last night: We are just finalizing the contents list for our Luxury One-Skein book, and I’m pleased to tell you that we have selected your lovely gloves — thank you so much!
I had to read it twice to be sure, then I went flying into the bed room, did a full body dive onto the bed (severely startling the poor Husband) and told him the exciting news. Maybe I will build an empire after all...
What happened was the postcard acknowledging my submission said they would respond in "early spring" and I said to myself, early spring was a month ago. So I figured out what the editor's e-mail address would be and I sent her a polite little note inquiring. She sent back that exciting little e-mail, which also says letters of agreement will be going out soon.
I haven't seen the terms of agreement yet, but the original call for submissions said there might be a small monetary compensation (which is totally going to fund the Summer of Socks 08, now that I'm an accomplished train commuter I might get more socks knit than originally anticipated) and a copy of the book.
The book is from Storey Publishing ( and is the next in the series of "One Skien" books they've been doing. This one focuses on luxury yarns, so my mitts fit right in since Ambrosia is baby alpaca/cashmere/silk. Oh I can't wait to see it.
Anyway, it's all very exciting and I'm telling anyone who will stand still long enough to listen.
In other news, the monarch scarf Cynthia had me design based on my Cat's Pajama's Socks was on the counter at the store for about a week and apparently generated quite a bit of buzz. Which is also very flattering. I have given the information to The Guy in the Art Department do to the layout for me. It is now officially called the Eyelet and Feather Scarf.
And I finished my Rainbow Swirl Socks on the train this morning. (Ok, technically I still have to kitchener the toe shut, but the train was crowded and I had to put my book bag on the overhead rack so I couldn't get to my scissors/chibi.)
As for my adventures on public transportation, the only blemish on the ride home last night was when I realized I'd accidentally decreased 2 stitches and had to tink back 3 rows to find them. The ride this morning went a treat: I managed to stay on the train when I was supposed to, I found the semi-express after my transfer (it comes on the same track), and the little shuttle was right there waiting. I was in the office by 8:30, what more could a girl ask for?

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

It's All About Samson

Today, May 27, is Samson's 4th birthday. He is my first puppy ever, which means he is as spoiled as you would expect him to be when you hand an adorable fluffy creature to a stuffed animal loving girl and allow her to shower it with unbridled love and affection. (Ok, Hubby tried to bridle it a bit, but his "grew up with dogs" wisdom fell on mostly deaf ears and, honestly, he did some spoiling/affection showering too.)
[sadly, it would appear that all of Samson's puppy pictures were taken with a film camera and many of the scans I've made won't load to the blog. sigh. He was as adorable a puppy as you would expect such a handsome dog to be. So you'll just get grown up shots.]
For example, when Samson was a baby puppy and I would get insomnia we would go downstairs and share toast. Of course now I know that taking a bite of something and then handing a bite to your puppy is a bad idea because signals to the puppy that you are equals, but I didn't know that then. The end result being that he loves toast and has very little respect for me. :-) This also means he begs sometimes, but he's not a thief (well, aside from that sandwich incident the other week and the occasional stick of butter...). Really, you can leave a steak dinner on the coffee table and run back to the kitchen for a minute and he won't touch it. He might think about it, but he won't. Instead he'll stare at you until you acknowledge him then he'll glance at the food he wants then look back at you. It's very clever.
He is a pretty fearless puppy. When he was little we would bring him into the bed for cuddles (see, spoiled) and when it was time to get down he would just launch himself into the abyss expecting to land eventually. We also had many good giggles over watching him bounce off the side of the bed when he was too little to jump up himself. (oh, stop it he was fine.) And he will still sacrifice his body to catch the ball during a game of fetch. Crazy dog.
Samson is smart as a whip, which makes him kind of dangerous. If we put our minds to teaching him a trick/skill—especially if he realizes it will benefit him—he will learn it very quickly. For instance, when he was a puppy we knew he was house broken, the problem wasn't very vocal (and still isn't, happily) and so wasn't telling us when he needed to go out. I had the brilliant idea of hanging a jingle bell on the back door. I brought Samson over, rang the bell and opened the door. So it went and by the time I got home from work the next day, he had learned to ring the bell to go out. Much to hubby's exasperation. Hubby was home and Samson loves to be outside and since it was a new skill that had to be reinforced Hubby had to open the door every time Samson rang the bell, which was apparently very frequently.
He is an affectionate puppy, but not a snuggle bug like Baru. Samson is too squirmy. He prefers to sit in you lap and get in your face and nudge your hands, although he does usurp my lap when I'm knitting in the evenings sometimes. He also feels he has pillow rights in our bed. But unlike Baru, who puts his entire body on the pillow, Samson will stretch out next to you with just his head on the pillow. Very convenient for snuggles.
Although he is 4 he is still very puppyish and if you ever meet him you can expect to have 76 lbs of furry enthusiasm barrel into you, because he learned not to jump on the Alpha (ie Hubby) but we can't get him to extend the courtesy to other humans.
He likes to make up games with his ball. And he always goes and gets his squeaky booty after breakfast.
He has big brown eyes, and silky fur and his ears are like velvet. And he loves to be brushed. When he was a puppy, after a bath, I would put him on an ottoman and shove biscuits in his mouth while I brushed him. (Baru did not get this treatment. Samson likes being brushed so much he would bully poor Baru out of the way.)
Samson loves to go on car rides. Doesn't matter where, he just wants to feel the wind in his face. He always sticks his head out the window. Even if it is snowing, and then he'll come back in the car and give us a dirty look as though it is our fault it's too cold out and why don't we turn up the heat?
Finally, despite the fact he's a Golden Retriever, Samson is a good guard dog. He's got a big bark and isn't afraid to use it if someone is on his property.
Safe, warm and loved—what more could a girl ask for from the bestest puppy in the world?

Car, Train, Bus, Shoe

That was my commute this morning. High gas prices have made me flee to public transportation. I have long thought that public transportation was not an option because I live on one spur and work on another and never the twain shall meet. Turns out there is a shuttle bus to get from the train station to my office (I think that would qualify as the "last mile"). [well, technically the office across the street.]
Time wise, it is a little longer than driving (I have to leave the house much earlier, but get home around the same time, if a smidgen later). But cost wise, ah cost wise the ticket should pay for itself in two weeks (if I get the monthly pass).
And I'm concentrating on all the extra knitting time I'll have, since I'll be able to knit on the train rather than sitting in traffic. Which should also be good for stress levels, and I can always claim the warm fuzzies of a commute with a (hopefully) smaller carbon footprint. I can't claim I'll be getting more exercise since the shuttle stop is across the street and it took me about a minute to walk over. (If I was feeling ambitious I could get off at the next building down, which it at least a two block walk.)
But, boy howdy, this public transportation business wasn't as easy as you might think. I made the first train, which is key—if I miss the first train it's all over because it's the only practical train out of the itsy-bitsy station near my house. (I did a dry run on Friday and missed that train. But I was in the office by 8 am because there was no traffic since it was a holiday weekend.) However I didn't realize that the train made a stop before the station I wanted, so I got off(!), quickly realized my mistake and got back on. As though that wasn't embarrassing enough, the conductor noticed and asked if I had gotten off.
I think this might be a situation where looking 10 or so years younger than I actually am (no, really, people mistake me for a much younger person all the time) worked in my favor. People probably figured I was a befuddled college student wandering around, rather than a befuddled adult.
[And I just thought, do I really want to be putting this all on the internet? Well, let's see, I already told Boss Man, The Other Associate Editor, and The Deadline Setter. And I'm sure I'd tell my mom, if only for the motherly sympathy. And I e-mailed Hubby, so all the important people already know. And the blog title is "The Adventures of Traveling Ann" and if this doesn't count as a travel adventure, I don't know what does. At least at this point, next week I'll be an old hand at this public transportation nonsense—if I have the nerve to stick with it!]
So I made it to the station for my transfer—and instead of getting on the semi-express that gets into my final station at 8:06, I got on the local, which got in at 8:20ish. Obviously I have a lot to learn. Fortunately the little shuttle buses run until around 9 am, so there is flexibility on the way to the office. In the end I came tumbling in at 9 am, although my stress levels were probably about the same as on a normal driving day. In theory, if I get on the correct train, I'd be in around 8:30. At least the shuttle bus drivers were all nice.
On the way home, however, there is one train out of the station on this end that goes to the little station by my house. If I miss that I'll be stranded at one of the stations in between and will either have to call Hubby to rescue me, or try to figure out which public bus to take.
As you've seen how successfully I navigated in, you will not be surprised to hear I would call Hubby in a situation like that!
Of course this will make it a little difficult to get the Peace Lily back to the office. You won't catch me carrying a massive potted plant on the train. (look! it's the Long Island Ferry! I can see it from the train station waiting for my transfer.)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Still Knitting I-Cord

That title about says it all. I finished the first handle and I'm about a third of the way through the second one, based on the three color sections. I might actually have enough black for both handles, which would be very exciting.
I did throw the I-Cord over for a while this morning in favor of my Rainbow Swirl Socks. I turned the heel and am working down the foot. I just love heel turns, they seem so magical some how. And I like the lines that form on the side of the heel where you pick up for the gusset and the gusset decreases. It is all so orderly.
Some time was also spent tormenting the Peace Lily I keep at the office. When I bought it it was a bit bigger than I wanted, but I got it anyway because I had just read an article about how this is a good plant for filtering out impurities in indoor air. It's a bit too big to have on my desk, so I put it on top of my cube wall at an intersection. The entire office can see it and I think people have developed a secret affection for it as I've had reports of random people watering it when it wilts and people occasionally stop by to admire it. Well, it didn't do so well when I was off for the weekend when Charlene Schurch was in town. It was very wilted on Monday and did not rebound quickly after I watered it like it usually does. Extreme intervention was needed, so The Guy in the Art Department took it to his window and gave it sips of water during the day. (It took a bad turn when I was at the convention in Philly as well. That time it was moved to a filing cabinet in Boss Man's office. See, people love the Peace Lily.) The Art Department then had a consultation and decided that I really needed to transplant it to a bigger pot. Since it was another 3 day weekend, I brought it home Thursday. I've transplanted it, after trying to loosen the roots up, but I'm not sure the new pot is big enough.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Enough I-Cord to Hang Myself

The beastly bag has about exceeded my attention span.
I have abandoned the idea of the flap, despite all that work toward it. I got about 20 or 30 rows in and realized it just wasn't working for me. It wasn't coming out as I had envisioned it. (no pictures. Haven't taken pictures lately.)
So I had a consultation with Mom and she confirmed that not only would she be able to install a zipper when she made the lining, but it would be no problem at all. The whole goal of the flap was to have a secure closure, so a zipper will be fine. She said she was happy I was abandoning the flap as she had thought it would be too bulky, but she didn't say anything.
She then proceeded to talk me out of my idea of working the handle off the live stitches on one side and grafted to the live stitches on the other. I was starting to waver on that idea as well. When I made her a felted bag last year I used a Fiber Trends pattern, but she wanted the handles to be long enough to reach the bottom of the bag for extra support. She campaigned for that method. I didn't want the handles on the outside, obviously, since it would mess up the design (she sewed hers to the outside as a design element), but she was pretty sure she would be able to secure them inside and the cover it with the lining.
Which leaves me making miles of I-Cord. The handles in the Fiber Trends pattern were worked flat in a funky manner, but I can't find the pattern (I suspect mom has it as I sent it to her for the felting instructions. But then she ended up felting at my house when she was puppy sitting once).
So far I've worked about 50 inches of I-Cord, which is probably going to be about half of one side. I did 24 inches for down the side and 30 inches to span the top and then I'll have to do another 24 inches for the other side. Of course I have to make two. ugh. Since running out of green is still a risk, I've done the parts that will be inside in black and the handle bit you'll see in green. Actually, I'm not sure I'll have enough black even(!) so I might have to do the second handle in white and green. Of course I keep reading stuff that says lighter colors, especially white, often don't felt as well as other colors. (I think it has something to do with the bleaching process stripping off the little scales which are the whole reason things felt. But I'm not sure that I ever heard that or I'm just jumping to that conclusion on my own.) This leads to worries that the handles won't be even, so I'm actually toying with the idea of working each handle in both black and white so they are messes up the same. :-)
For now, I'm tired of working I-Cord and I put it aside to work on the heel flap of my Rainbow Swirl Sock. Despite all the fun stuff I learned last weekend, I'm doing my normal stockinette stitch flap with slipped edges. After all, I want the socks to match.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Dateline: Boston

My younger cousin graduated from Boston University with a BA on Sunday. In a fit of family affection, I decided to go up for the luncheon. My mom, on the other hand, decided to go up for the ceremony. Which means I went up for the ceremony. :-) Hubby was going to go, but realized he had too much school work, which was disappointing, but just as well in the end as it would have been a seriously long day for the pups.
Mom came up Saturday night, which gave Samson, the furry little traitor, the opportunity to abandon us in favor of sleeping with Grandma. Baru stayed in with us, but got really upset when he heard them get up in the morning.
It's a 2 1/2 hour drive to Boston, which didn't bother us as we do not fear long car trips, although maybe we should considering the price of gas. We got there just in time for the procession, so we didn't miss any of the speeches. One nice thing was that the university opened all the parking garages for the day. I had seen that online, so when we hit Commonwealth Ave and it was bumper-to-bumper like the Merritt at rush hour, I took a random right turn toward a garage and kept my fingers crossed. As it turned out around half the level we were on was empty and we were right in the garage for the Agganis Arena, right next door to the ceremony sight. Can you say sweeet?
It was a nice sunny day, so I got a bit of a burn on my arms. And the speakers weren't so bad. It was just as well Hubby didn't come as the keynote speaker was the president of the Red Sox. He still managed to take a shot at the Yankee's and ended up quoting extensively from Yogi Berra, so apparently they still have younger brother syndrome.
And why is it that commencement speakers almost always say "I was told to be brief" and then never are?
Of course all this means that I finally crossed the line on having knitting in my birthday purse. But, really, can you blame me? All that extra room came in handy not only for my sock, but for the free bottles of water the uni provided, which were appreciated almost as much as the free parking. (They were also giving out cheese BU painters caps, but I gave that to mom for the niece and nephew.) My mom heard some people, not in our group, call me Madam LaFarge, which is a reference to the character from Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities who was knitting in the gallery during the French Revolution. I believe she was based on true events. I haven't read the book, not a huge Dickens fan. And I choose to think they were just jealous because I was happily entertained. HA!
After the ceremony we proceeded to a restaurant called Tasca on Washington St in Brighton. Nice little Italian place. They had price fix on Sunday, but a really good selection of stuff. I had the duckling empanada for an appetizer. Seasoned, shredded duck in a phillo dough with an orange sauce. Yum. For my entree I ordered the lamb shank with root vegetables. That was also quite good. Mom was disappointed there weren't more veggies. She had the crab cake for an app and seemed to enjoy them. Dessert was a nice mixed fruit salad with a sauce that might have been sangria. And there were pitchers of sangria on the tables, which I haven't had in ages. But I only had a few sips, since I was driving. It was all quite lovely, but the service was a little shaky. However, there were 25 of us, so I guess it was understandable to a degree. My uncle, the father of the graduate, was disappointed because he wanted flan and it was unclear if they had any, but then it didn't materialize.
The ride home was fine, although getting through the city and back onto the relative safety of the highway was hair raising. I hate city driving as it is, but there were people double parked and I'm sure some of those taxis were aiming for me! We made it safe and sound though. I think we were home by 7. The lunch broke up around 4 because the relatives had to go for a second, smaller commencement where my cousin actually got to cross the stage.
It was nice to see all the family, most of them were the California contingent so we don't see them much. There was good food and I got some knitting done. How much more exciting could you want a day to be?
(Oh, and Yes, both puppies abandoned us Sunday night in favor of Grandma. But we're used to it.)

Becoming Well Heeled

Saturday was day 2 of Charlene Schurch's visit to Knitting Central. She combined two workshops for us to make an all heel all day extravaganza. Ok, maybe I exaggerate, we didn't get rowdy at all (everyone was too focused on learning and knitting), but we did learn a bunch about heels.
(I believe the pink sock on the far left is just what I had in mind for my Mountain Colors Bearfoot socks. If I remember correctly the stitch used is even one of the ones I had picked out when going through my stitch dictionaries. Of course, in the book it is already translated to in the round. So I must get my hands on the pattern to confirm!)
We started with the Cuban Heel, which Charlene called a "sexy heel" which of course was the name we all had to use the rest of the time. I had not worked it before, but I think I saw the name in a contemporary pattern for stockings and it sounds similar to what the Tsock Tsarina calls the upside down wineglass heel on her Vintage Socks (which are way cool and I would love to make, if I was familiar with the yarn to be sure it wouldn't make me itch and knew the finished sock would actual fit my little foot. But I digress.). Anyway, the sexy heel was very neat and I think I will definitely be using it against my Sol Joy socks when I get around to making them. During the class I did the increases by knitting into the front and back of the stitch just to move along faster, but I think in practice I'll do a Make 1 increase by lifting the bar so I get the nice increase line for definition. (As we went from one heel to the next, it ended up looking like a little puppet mouth. Mine is the pink one on the right. Pam's is the multicolor one on the left.)
Then we worked a short row heel, with which I'm familiar but not fond since I always get holes along the miter line. But it was helpful to review picking up the wraps. When I groused about the holes, she had a chance to dis my Zara again. I actually don't think she was familiar with Zara because she seemed surprised to hear it was 100% wool. But it sounds like her tastes run more toward the rustic yarns, and she even admitted to liking pedestrian yarns. But, again, I was only using the Zara because we wanted a worsted weight or there abouts yarn for the class so you could actually see progress.
We also did a traditional heel flap sock. Of course, there was also discussion of structure and uses and stuff, that is—sadly—starting to fade a bit (unless that's just because I'm on my lunch break again and don't have my class notes or samples with me). Part of the heel flap discussion was on the practicality of continuing the sock design onto a heel flap and when you would want to do that (for clog wearers. I need to find a pair of comfortable clogs. So far all the ones I've tried on just don't cut it.).
I liked that she discussed what other designers have written about as well. She referenced Cat Bordhi's new book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters, a few times and compared Bordhi's Strong Heel to the Cuban Heel we learned. Although I was a little late to class due to staying up late because of the prom, so I missed a good part of that discussion. And before anyone becomes annoyed, I want to point out she always gave credit where credit was due.
In the afternoon we covered color work on heels. She discussed Fair Isle heels and a variety of ways to do striping. We worked a two color eye of partridge heel, which was stressing some of us out when we realized the pattern came out pink over pink sometimes instead of pink over purple all the time (in my case at least, those were the colors I was using). She pointed out that A) we were using big yarn so it was more obvious, and B) there is a bit of an optical illusion factor where your eyes will see the checkerboard pattern anyway.
We worked a pinstripe heel, which I did on my Yankee's Socks, but I don't remember if the execution was the same. I think the one we did in class was a heel stitch pinstripe so some of the stitches were slipped, where for my socks I did a two color heel working every stitch.
We finished off trying a Fair Isle pattern, which was fun. I'm planning a pair of striped and Fair Isle socks. I was going to do an afterthought bulls eye style heel, but I might have to reconsider and see whether the pattern would fit on the heel nicely.
The class wrapped up with a quick discussion of Elizabeth Zimmerman's fitted arch sole, which is wicked cool looking and I was very excited to try when I realized we'd be learning it. (You can see it on the pink and blue sock second from the left.) But by then it was almost 4 and after a whole day of learning stuff, my little brain was fried. To the point that, despite reading the pattern myself (M1, K1, M1) and having Charlene read it to me, I just couldn't understand why I had a yellow stitch in between my red stitches where it didn't belong. I finally ripped back and handed her my knitting and said "show me!" which I think the others appreciated. The problem, as it turned out, was that I was doing a KF&B increase when I should have been doing a M1 increase. sigh, which goes back to me being tired. The KF&B maintained/increased the stitches that were already there and actually moved me to far along, so my K1 was a yellow stitch. While the M1 increased between the stitches, so the K1 was a red stitch, as it should be. The "click" was almost audible.
We packed up after that and went home. I think I only knitting I did that night was on my Rainbow Swirl Socks. Something relatively mindless. :-) But I must return to that fancy sole sometime soon to test it out.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

An Exciting Day

(So I was just sitting here at work eating lunch and wandering around Ravelry, when it occurred to me I should be updating the blog. I was feeling guilty because, thanks to the site traffic monitor widget I installed the other week, I knew people had actually been visiting—sent over from the majorknitter blog—and I had written nothing about the event they were trying to check out. So here I am, but I have to be fast, since I'm at work, eating lunch.)
On Friday I took a vacation day in order to attend a sock class presented by Charlene Schurch at Knitting Central. She has written two solid books of sock patterns that also provide information on resizing and personalizing. Considering my affection for sock knitting and design, it seemed sensible to attend.
The work shop was called "Sock Options." We discussed a few styles of cast on which reinforced the wisdom that a long tail cast on is a good all purpose and somewhat stretchy cast on that is suitable for socks. But she suggested using a flared or hemmed cast on if you have troubles. I wasn't impressed with the looks of the flared, and it seemed fairly straight forward, so I did the hemmed cast on which incorporated an adorable picot trim. I have seen and heard about this cuff and worked something similar on my Ultra Femme sweater, so it was interesting to see it in action on a sock. To facilitate the knitting together which closes the hem, we learned a variation of the knitted cast on—and I totally blew it by doing a normal knitted cast on because I didn't wait for her at table demonstration.
While we were knitting our samples, she discussed ways to alter patterns depending on fit. She also discussed gauge and negative ease, which made me feel good because it more or less matched what I had said in my sock club letter. The difference being she went through the scary math that is accurate and I do the sweeping just subtract one inch from your foot measure. :-)
Then we discussed heels a bit. The class pattern had directions for stockinette, heel stitch and eye of partridge. I did eye of partridge since it isn't one I normally use. She also suggests doing this neat garter stitch edging on heel flaps instead of just slipping the first stitch like I usually do. It seems to have potential.
I was working my sample in the light pink Zara I had left over from when Nancy Bush was in town. Charlene was like "bleh" when she saw my yarn, and said some of the issues I was having would be better in sock yarn.
She also discussed how to do a "princess sole", which I've seen mentioned on-line, and a couple of toes.
It was all rather fun and informative and I think I will use a number of these methods against my Sol Joy socks when the Summer of Socks 08 finally starts. Definitely the adorable cuff, I'll see how the rest of the sock develops.

Prom Night!
Actually, I had to leave the class early so I could go get ready for the prom. snicker. Every year Hubby signs on as a chaperon and I tag along. It's a little unclear whether I'm an official chaperon, but I guess I'm another adult presence.
Chalk me up as one of the people who didn't enjoy their own senior prom, so I find it terribly amusing that I've gone to one every year of my marriage.
This year's theme was A Masquerade. The theme doesn't influence what the kids wear, it is just for the decorations. So there were Mardi Gras masks around, both ones you could wear and these 4 foot tall cardboard ones. The center pieces on the tables were tall, clear posts that were filled with goo into which the decorating committee inserted glow sticks. As a finale to the post were this massive feather duster things. There were also glow stick bracelets and flashing necklaces, as well as Mardi Gras beads with flashing bobbles at the end and flashing rings. The place was quite sparkly, and of course I couldn't get a good picture because either the flash washed it out or it was too dark (I forgot about the night setting on the camera).
But a good time was had by all. The meal is always a roast chicken breast with mashed potatoes, carrots and string beans. The first year we went the chicken breasts were so big we thought they were turkey until we started eating! They have been a much more reasonable size in subsequent years and a always rather tasty. The is no alcohol at all, not even for the chaperons (although goodness know we could use it, haha), so I always belly up to the bar and order a Shirley Temple. This year they had them pre-made in pitchers, but the ice melted and they were gross, so I had to ask for a fresh one. Still, we where there until around 11 and didn't get home until midnight. Talk about a tiring, exciting day!

Monday, May 19, 2008

I Should Write for The Onion

Harvard announced today that it would be buying the country of Liechtenstein, a small European country between Switzerland and Austria, and relocating operations. The move is expected to take place in a year or two, depending on when the infrastructure in the new location is prepped to accommodate the influx of new residents, and the sale of Harvard's current property holdings in Massachusetts.
"People are frequently saying our endowment is worth more than the gross domestic profit of many small countries," says president Drew Gilpin Faust. "Our research shows it was time to leverage that fact." Faust added that the discussion of taxing large university endowments in both the U.S. Congress and the state of Massachusetts contributed to the decision to relocate.

NB: The preceding is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to real people or institutions is either coincidental or used in a fictional manner by the author.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Lies and Misinformation

It was the glowing blue light that tipped us off something was going on.
We were relaxing in the living room after dinner; Hubby was watching the Yankee's game and I was knitting, as we do, when the dogs started getting upset.
Instead of being in my lap, Baru was laying on the far side of the big couch, as he does sometimes, I guess it's cooler. From there he has a clear view through the dining room and green room out into the backyard. He started growling, but we didn't think anything of it since he growls at his own reflection sometimes. But then Samson, who was on the floor playing his game were he balances his ball against the coffee tables and tries not to let it roll away, got interested. He ran over to Baru and started growling and barking, too.
So I got up to investigate, and saw the blue light.
Of course, with all the trees in the backyard having leaves now I couldn't see much. It was like a full moon, only brighter. Maybe it has the quality of a camera flash, but if it stayed on rather than lasting only for a few seconds. The trees were lit up in great relief, it was like every leaf was outlined. I thought maybe a helicopter was over head, but the only thing I could here was the low rumble of the gravel train going by on the tracks by the river.
I didn't go outside because the dogs were pretty freaked out. They were whining and whimpering like they were having a bad dream. Hubby was saying I was being silly, until he finally leaned forward and saw just how strange the quality of that light was too. But, since we couldn't really see or hear anything, we decided it must be a helicopter and it was probably over Derby so we couldn't hear it but we could see it's spotlight.
It's amazing the things we'll make up to explain things.
Imagine how we felt the next morning when we woke up and heard on the news that the Housatonic had been drained.
And not just on the local news. We heard it on BBC World news first (CNN, of course, was doing election coverage, but I think I saw something on the ticker), then we switched to the local channels. But all they were saying was that the water was gone and nobody knew what had happened.

Monday, May 12, 2008

What knitting?

And again I say I don't know how people manage to blog every day and it probably has something to do with my long, long posts.
I had the best of intentions, I loaded photos and everything, but then I got busy. Life got in the way, as they say. Actually, not much knitting was accomplished last weekend; my left wrist was a little tweaky, so I had to back off the knitting a bit. I suspect it was because I'm reading a massive hardback book I swiped from my mother-in-law and holding it one handed put some strain on my wrist.
Since I couldn't actually knit, I worked on weaving in the ends on my poor, neglected TipToe Socks. Although I still have to be careful about hand position when I'm pursuing that activity as well.
I also worked on my Rainbow Swirl Socks a bit. Although the pattern is super easy, I still find myself counting stitches as I work around, so they aren't good work knitting. It was a nice change of pace to be on little needles again after all the time I've been spending on US 10s working on my Ravelry bag. One exciting aspect of the socks is that I finished the first one months ago, so as soon as this one is done I'll have a pair.
I would like to provide you with an excellent example of why you should obey the golden rule of never going shopping hungry. Especially if you will be shopping at a place like Costco. I don't know what came over me, but I was sure that a box of 36 ice cream novelties would be a good idea. Drumsticks, sandwiches, and deluxe bars. Yummy. When Hubby and I rejoined at home he was like, "Where are we going to put that!?" I was like, "They are individually wrapped, we'll be fine!" Yeah, every nook an cranny is stuffed with an ice cream treat now. Usually we keep healthy frozen veggies on the door, but currently it is stuffed with drumsticks. Oops.
Samson, meanwhile, is sure that some of these treats must be for a puppy. He can keep hoping.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

It's All About Baru

Today, May 11, is Baru puppy's birthday. He is 3 years old, so he is still a baby in my mind. And although that is like 21 in dog years, he still doesn't drink or drive. Actually, he isn't very fond of riding in the car. He used to get car sick when he was a puppy. Now he still stresses out, but at least he doesn't puke any more.
Let's see, what can I tell you about the birthday puppy?
Baru has a sweet, sad little face. He's short and stocky and he has cottony soft fur. I fell in love when I saw his little face when we went to get a new puppy and dug in my heels and wouldn't look at any others (and now I'm not allowed to choose puppies any more). He's a little slow on the up-take (which is why I'm not allowed to choose), but he is very cunning when it comes to food. So cunning that sometimes we think being dumb might be an act. Of course, this combination makes him hard to train because he is so focused on getting the treat he doesn't understand what you want him to do. He only just realized what the command "Drop!" means leading to actual games of fetch rather than attempts to play tug of war with a ball. And he knows the when the jingle bell on the back door rings he'll get to go out, but it never occurs to him that he can ring it himself.
However he has figured out that when I'm getting ready for work and I'm dressed and head downstairs it is time to go out and play fetch. And he'll get very excited and run and find his octagon Kong because that is his best fetch toy. He'll play fetch with any thing, and the other day I was able to get him to bring extra toys in from the yard by throwing each one in the house as he brought them and then saying "get the toy!" for the next one. So he can be useful/helpful when he wants. (Samson is a fetch snob and will only play fetch with a ball and he was no help bringing in the toys he brought out.)
Baru would rather be inside looking out the window than actually outside getting fresh air. He's a lazy little snuggle bug and is very happy to spend the day (or evening) laying on my lap while I knit. And if someone wants to rub his chest, so much the better. Oh, and when he wants to get on the couch with me, if my stuff is spread all over he'll wait patiently for me to move it--so he knows not to stomp on my yarn.
He's a little timid and a total mamma's boy. When Hubby and Samson start rough housing, sometimes Baru tries to join in, but sometimes he just runs and hides behind me. And sometimes he'll growl at his own reflection in the window at night.
Baru is as spoiled as Samson and doesn't understand why he shouldn't sleep on our pillows at bed time. And we often wake up to find him there anyway.
But in the end, I would say Baru is a wonderful, sweet, snugly, fat little puppy who is happy to see you at any time of day. I love my Baru puppy.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Furry little sandwich theif

Samson took the food out of my mouth on Tuesday. Ok, technically he took it out of my hand, but it's essentially the same thing, right?
I worked from home on Tuesday. The writer's block for the article I was working on was giving me a headache and I couldn't deal with the added stress of the commute. Actually, it did the trick. I think there are fewer distractions at home. I studiously avoided the TV, and there is no one to talk to besides the puppies, so all I could do was squirm around and focus. And I banged the thing out by 3:30. But that is all besides the point.
Since I was home and it was a beautiful day, I thought I'd eat lunch on the porch and we could all enjoy some fresh air.
Samson stayed on the porch and played his little game where he balances his ball up against low slung furniture, trying not to drop it because if he does he has to scramble to get it back.
Baru doesn't play games like that, so he got bored and decided to go for walk. He strolled around the yard and the bolted in to the ravine. Thankfully Samson didn't notice because if they both get down there they head straight to the river for a swim and they don't come up until they are ready to come up, regardless of me yelling myself blue in the face.
So I grabbed Samson to toss him inside before he noticed what was happening. I have a fighting chance of getting just one of them to obey me. As I was opening the screen door and getting the back door I ended up holding my turkey sandwich down by my side. I felt a tug on my hand, but when I looked over Samson looked back all innocent. I knew in my heart he had gotten his dirty little mouth on it (really, he plays this game under the fence as well and gets his ball all muddy), but didn't know what to do and I was still fiddling with the doors. When I looked away again he moved in for the kill and took the rest of the sandwich right out of my hand! There were only two bites left, but it was still very bold and unacceptable. I had intended to split it between the two of them.
If the truth be told, Baru had made a play for it earlier, jumping up like he was on springs trying to get it when I was standing up. Of course the whole business could have been avoided if I'd put the sandwich down when I went to wrangle Samson.
I did manage to convince Baru to come back up before he got too far. And then we spent the rest of the day inside.
Sassy little fur balls.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Disobeying Orders

They started a blog at work. It is there for us all to post to randomly during the day as appropriate material presents itself. It went live today (and is causing me no end of anxiety for some reason).
When it was announced about a month ago, Boss Man specifically said there would be no knitting content (although he's left the door open to the puppies, which I have to imagine is a joke). He had to realize that I would find a way around that directive post haste. Which I did with, happily, very little effort on my part.
Because over the wire today came a press release about a student art show festival at Columbia College Chicago which includes, wait for it, a hand knit car cozy. (I didn't take that picture, it was sent to me by the mastermind Kari.) As this was something quirky but a good example of town/gown relations, I of course had to jump on it. Maybe it defeated the purpose of a quick blog post, but I also had to give her a call and find out what kind of yarn she used (Red Heart--phew) and how much it took (about 150 of the Jumbo Super Saver skeins, which--I did the math--is 365 yards, or just a little longer than a football field). She also said she had 10 people helping her with the knitting--they covered the inside too. I forgot to ask how long it took (the press release said all winter and spring) or what they intended to do with it afterwards.
I did remember to tell her about Ravelry.
The bag that ate the blog
When the needle popped apart yesterday it didn't occur to me that my stitch markers at the corners would have fallen off. Which I realized when I unpacked my bag at the office today. So on all those rows I knit last night the corners are wrong. But it will be an easy matter to ladder them back down and change them to purls.
It occurred to me as I was driving home that I don't know what I'll post about after I finish this bag. I swear every post must include a mention lately. This came to my attention when I doubled back to put labels on all my posts. I guess that's what happens when you focus on one project. It's like what happened after the wedding. After a year of planning it I didn't know what to do with myself in the evenings! (Obviously I managed to find other entertainment.)
About those Klingon sock...
Hubby nixed them. He said it would be too geeky. Which makes sense, we aren't costume wearing convention attending types of fans. Still, I might have to keep them in mind for myself. And I still think my Las Vegas gift idea rocks.

Adventures in Hyde Park, Part 2

When last we saw our intrepid editors, they had just escaped the smelly--if informative--fish class and where proceeding to lunch.
We went to the American Bounty restaurant for lunch. There are a number of options on campus reflecting the various cuisines the students learn. This one focuses on regional American dishes. After being in the classroom, the Deadline Setter and I were like "I'm so not ordering fish," but our handler said he was having the opposite reaction, which was interesting. He got monk fish, the Other AE ordered a black bean crepe dish which turned out to be vegetarian, and the Deadline Setter got a chicken dish that was served over warm coleslaw (I actually debated it, but we eat so much chicken at home that as a general rule I don't order it out). I had lamb chops with blue cheese polenta and succotash. I studiously picked out the Lima beans, which made me feel a little guilty since I had just spent the morning learning what goes into selecting them. But, come on, they're Lima beans. Everything was tasty. Mine was $15, which I thought quite reasonable for a lamb dish. We were told the restaurants aren't a profit venture, the goal is to have them break even. Really their purpose is an outlet for the food the students produce and to give them real life experience serving the public, even if the environment is slightly controlled since there is a professor there grading them.
Actually, our handler sprung the random question of what are you doing after graduation on one of our servers. He took it rather well, although I imagine when he asked if we had any questions he meant about the food. He said he was going to go on to learn about nutrition because his time there made him realize he was interested more in the chemistry of food rather than the preparation.
Of course, I ate like two chops and had to take the rest in a doggy bag. Still, going back is a viable option. Or it was until gas started flirting with $4 a gallon. It was an hour and a half drive, the gas would cost more than the meal!
After lunch we met with the president. The three of us peppered him with hopefully probing questions. It was interesting to see the high level view and nice to remember that college presidents are just normal people, which is a reminder I need sometimes when I have to call them. We also met with the chief financial officer and peppered him with questions too. They are planning to go from a progressive entry system where a new batch of students starts every 3 weeks to a semester based program. It will be interesting to watch that shake down.
Oh, and I never told you about that strange picture in my last Hyde Park post. I totally ripped it off the CIA website. It's a modern art sculpture made out of 800 lbs of CHOCOLATE. Now, as you might remember, I'm not so much into the modern art. But this one really moved me, or maybe it was the chocolate fumes coming off it....anyway, it was in the lobby of the admissions building. One of the professors made it, and it will stay there until it starts to melt. At which point it might get melted down and used in a new sculpture.
We wandered around campus some more and then I had a flurry of phone calls with Hubby because one of my brother-in-laws is a CIA graduate and a big shot in a national food service company so we were trying to figure out if I should name drop. (Later that evening brother chef called again and said that he was actually supposed to be on campus that day, but had to back out. How weird would that have been? And fun, to have him randomly find us. ha!)
Finally we went back to the American Pie Bakery for snacks before we hit the road. The Deadline Setter got a chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwich that was just massive. The Other AE and I got root beer float Sundaes. They were served in little mason jars and consist of a layer of frozen root beer, then a scoop of vanilla ice cream, more root beer, another scoop of ice cream and a topping of root beer. Very yummy. I've had root bee float Popsicles in the past, so had an expectation, which was happily fulfilled.
We also got a loaf of focaccia bread for Boss Man as a consolation prize for not coming in person. We were dithering over what to get, couldn't remember if he liked sweets and weren't sure if they would travel anyway. Then we remembered he likes to bake bread, so it seemed a reasonable option. And the most likely to survive the night.
All in all it was a fun trip and we even managed to include something about it in the magazine, so it was totally justified in the end.
Our trip was in mid-April. A recent article in the New York Times discussed unrest on campus and a no confidence vote in the president. We all read it and said, "wow, I totally didn't pick up on that." But then, we were escorted around campus and presented with people to talk to. So I don't think it was any real lapse on our part.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


And I wasn't crying.
When I went to put my Ravelry bag into my work bag at the end of the day I saw a bunch of loose stitches waving at me. I have a Denise set and the needle tip had popped off the cable. It wasn't broken, fortunately, just untwisted. Since I carry my tool kit with me, and it include several scraps of yarn, I was able to catch the loose stitches (39. But 15 were still on the needle tip) and move on with my life. Luckily, since Cascade 220 has some grip to it, nothing ran.
I was starting to think it was time to switch to a longer cable anyway. I'm also starting to think the bag is getting a bit big to be a traveling project. But it's all stockinette stitch and that is so convenient to have at the office when I'm just proofreading or doing something else that requires focus and a fidget distraction.
I've worked 11 rows of white so far. The bag is measuring 20 deep now. I think I'll do 5 more white, then 15 green and then do the flap already. I'm also considering stopping after the 15 white and going straight into the green flap. But I'll have to see how tall it is. Of course I didn't do a full swatch with felting it an all, so I don't know how much it will shrink height wise.
One fun thing, since it's a bag, I can put the active yarn ball and the other colors inside it. That cracks me up. Well, it is going to be a knitting bag, so it's practice.
I finished knitting and blocking the monarch scarf on Tuesday. It was a very warm day yesterday, so the scarf was dry by Wednesday night. The only place I can block things is pinned to towels in the attic. The pups have access to everywhere else in the house. Since I don't usually bother to block things, this is not usually a problem.
Oh, forgot to mention, we didn't have a good piggy pink in stock over the weekend. So I didn't buy yarn for a felted piggy. Probably just as well really, I have so many other projects going on.
Ok, it's bedtime, so I must go. But I'm also thinking I really should start using labels/tags so the blog is sort of searchable. I wonder if I can double back and do that?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Green did not make me happy

Not only did the green yarn not make me happy, it added to my frustration. It is a different dyelot than what I've been using. But I went ahead and bought it anyway, what else is a girl to do?
This does reinforce a few axioms we already knew. First, happiness can neither be bought nor found in an inanimate object. Second, always buy enough yarn at the beginning of the project so you don't have to worry about running out. Of course I was only planning to use one green and one white for this bag, so I didn't realize I would need extra. It just grew out of control.
What did you ask? What is "dyelot"? sigh. When companies dye yarn they have a recipe they follow for each color. But each time they make it, it might come out a little different. Like when you make your chicken soup recipe from memory. So there might be variables from one batch of celery green to the next. Hence the dyelot number so you can ensure you are getting yarn from the same batch.
Now, I didn't take my bag to the store, so I wasn't sure how far off the color was (not that I had a choice, as I've already mentioned) and I don't remember colors true. So I won't really know until I get it in the sunlight, but the new ball seems ok, if a little more yellow. And as you can see from the pictures, it is just fine.
The bag annoyance didn't stop there. In a quite moment, I snagged one of the books of felted purse patterns and it cheerfully informed me that felted items (bags in this case) shrink more in height than they do in width. Now, my bag is already out of proportion, so I wasn't very happy to read this. I was explaining my dilemma to Pam and she suggested I make the bag taller to avoid it being shaped like a bagette. She also mentioned the steam coming out of my ears tipping her off that I was upset.
Making it taller is totally doable. I just have to open up the bind off, then pick up stitches around the cast on, and I'll be ready to work in the round. We decided I should do a white stripe and then a green one to keep the pattern sensible and to conserve yarn for the cursed flap. I think it was when I was talking about the flap that the steam started.
Anyway, the bag has been kicked to the curb for a while. I did a few rows on my Arrgyle Socks. But mainly I've been working on the scarf based on my Cat Pajama's socks that Cynthia wants. I'm probably halfway through the ball of Alchemy Monarch. Of course the bag will probably make a comeback tomorrow, I'll need something mindless to work on when I'm suffering from writer's block.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Green will make me happy

I finished knitting the body of the Raverly bag the other day. yippee! In its current unfelted state it is 17 1/2 inches tall, 25 inches wide and between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 inches deep. The discrepancy in the depth depends on where you measure it. Across the very bottom, where it is 20 rows, it is 3 1/2; across the side, where it is 10 sts, it is 2 1/2. I'm not going to worry my pretty little head about it.
Now I just have to knit enough I-Cord to hang myself for the handle and knit the flap. Of course, I'm almost out of green and have come to accept the fact that I'll have to buy a third skein. This is turning into quite the yarn eating project. I'm glad I haven't been holding it doubled. But I realized that all my plots to conserve yarn (a striped flap, a red handle) weren't going to make me happy. They weren't what I had in mind originally and would just piss me off later. So I'm going to suck it up and buy a third ball and I'll have some yellow-green Cascade 220 floating in my stash.
However, I must point out the green yarn will not make me as happy as a having my head stop hurting and a good night's sleep would. But a girl can dream. Or not if she can't sleep.
Since I don't felt much, I have a few other things I want to bust out after I finish knitting the bag but before I throw it in the washer. Last year, year before?, I made mom a bouquet of felted flowers from Pick Up Sticks. They were quite fun, but my favorite was the daffodil. There is a broach size that I've been wanting to make and I'm pretty sure I have enough yellow and orange leftover from round 1 to make it. Also, I'm rather concerned about the inside of my new purse getting messed up by pens and other trinkets, so I was thinking of making a few pencil cases or other little pouches to corral stuff. Finally, as I was tossing and turning after waking up at 4 am, I was thinking about unfinished projects which made me remember I have a pattern for a crocheted piggy I designed, but I don't think I have any pictures. I'm pretty sure the original/prototype pig went to my cousin for Christmas. I was thinking it might be fun to make another piggy, felt it, and give it to the pups. The theory being they won't wreck it as fast if it's felted. Which means I'll have to get some pink Cascade today too.
While I'm buying stuff, I've decided I'm absolutely obsessed with those DPN WIP tubes and I need just one more to be all set. (That will make 3 if you are counting.)
Of course I have to get this all done before the Summer of Socks starts.
Oh! Speaking of that (see how chatty I am at obscene hours of the morning?) I checked my sock yarn stash on Ravelry last night and have enough yarn for 9 pairs of socks. At first that made me sad, but then I counted and there are 10 weeks in the SoS and it takes me about 2 weeks to make a pair. So, in theory, unless I really turn on the sock knitting, I have enough yarn in stash to get me through. Then I was thinking about socks more and realized that when you start counting the pair I want to cobble together from leftover Jitterbug, and the polka dot ones I want to make from the Jawool leftover from my TipToe socks, well that's 11 potential pairs. The Arrgyles and my own Rainbow Swirl Socks don't count since they were started previously. And when you consider that there are at least two pairs I have in mind but haven't swatched or designed, I think I'll have plenty of socks to knit to get me through. It's a good thing the "most socks" contest isn't one of my goals.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Trouble. Waiting to happen.

I swear having this blog makes it way too easy to get myself into trouble. Now I've run off and joined the Summer of Socks 2008. (and one of these days I'll get brave and start linking.)
I saw people doing it last year, when I didn't have a blog. It looked interesting and or fun, but it was easy to resist. I couldn't really play along, I didn't have a blog. Of course this year you don't necessarily have to have a blog, belonging to Flickr and Ravelry are enough. But I have all three, so there was nothing to stop me.
Really, there is nothing to panic about. The only rule is that you knit socks from June 21 through September 1. Any socks started before June 21 don't count. You don't have to make a certain number. You don't have to follow a certain pattern. You just do what you normally do all the while knowing a bunch of other people are doing it too.
See? Harmless.
And I have a bunch of sock yarn I've been neglecting and patterns I want to try. And, since I would be blogging about the socks anyway, it's not like it's going to be a burden. Right? Really, it's just motivation to follow through and a good excuse to neglect sweaters and other projects. Oh, I can't work on that thing, it's the Summer of Socks!
Still, better practice blogging more regularly (like you haven't heard that before).