Friday, October 31, 2008

Crowning Moment

coronet doneCoronet she is done!
Really I had finished it sitting at the gate in Orlando waiting to fly home, but I had once again packed my scissors in my checked baggage, so I couldn't wrap it up.
Instead I switched to working on my Arrgyles.

It's Too Big
But back to the hat.
I worked the crown for the 8.5 inches called for in the pattern, but after working through the second decrease row I tried it on and realized it was going to be too big/tall.
To have the top of the crown snug I would have to pull the brim down to my nose. To have the brim over my ears I would have had a lot of excess fabric over my head. It would have been baggy and unattractive. And, considering my rejection of the green fuzzy hat for flopping in my eyes, we've established I don't like over sized hats.

Fixing the Fit
coronet topSo I pulled out 12 rows, which dropped me down to about 7 inches from the bottom of the cable band, and started the decreases from that point.
I settled on this number by counting the number of rows required to make all the called for decreases and found it about the same as the excess number of rows I had.
I also switched up two of the decrease rounds called for. It was progressing with fewer numbers of knit stitches between decreases, then suddenly had a row that was all decreases, then went back to knit stitches in between. Although I trusted it would work out properly, I was concerned the all decrease round would disrupt the line of decreases, so I kept the progression up and had two all decrease rounds at the end.
I think the way the pattern was written probably had something to do with the multiple sizes, but I didn't think to hard about it.

Hats are Good
Coronet was a quick knit, took me about a week, and I think I will enjoy wearing it.
I can see the appeal of making hats. They are small, like socks, so they are portable and easy to finish.
However, unlike socks, they don't have the excitement of the heel turn and a girl can only wear so many hats in one season, whereas she needs to wear socks almost every day.
Which means hats will be those rare as needed projects, unlike socks which are all the time projects.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Three Miles. 12 Hours

How can I miss my puppies when I have little reminders of them all over my clothes?

According to my little pedometer I walked 2.7 miles yesterday and burned over 200 calories. Which might make up for that mini Snickers and mini Twix I ate, but probably not the cheesecake petite fore (sp?)
Boss Man and I conferred, agreed we were both exhausted and skipped the event last night. Which turns out to be just as well because I passed out around 6:30 pm and slept until 8:30 pm when Hubby called to see what I though of the Obama spot. Then I passed out again until 5:50 am. So I guess I was really, really tired.

Coronet continues
coronet sideDespite that, Coronet is around 6 inches now. I took some pictures in the hotel mirror, not that you can see them at the moment. Actually, I fell asleep with my knitting on the bed but moved it after Hubby called.

Breakfast Horror Story
This is not for the faint of heart!
I went to the deli, which has such good cold sandwiches, to get an egg sandwich for breakfast. I was suspicious because I couldn't see a griddle anywhere. Turns out I was right to be concerned.
She pulled out two slices of white bread, got an already fried egg from a chaffing dish, and ran the whole thing through the pizza oven/giant toaster thing!
Authentic NY Deli it was not.
It was edible, but not something I want to repeat.
However, I have to say the greasy little potato pancake hashbrown thingys it came with were delicious.
Hopefully I'll have better luck with lunch and dinner.

Raveler in the Wild
I keep forgetting to mention I brought my Felted Ravelry ID Bag as my carry on luggage. While Boss Man and I were waiting for the shuttle to bring us from the hotel to the airport a lady asked what the "agm" means.
Turns out she is on Ravelry too! I didn't get her ID, but we had a little knitting chat.
I debated using my bag for my conference gear as a conversation starter, but it is on the heavy side, so I went with the bag they provide.
Still, first time my bag and I have been commented on out in public.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I Miss My Puppies

Well, totally underestimated the availability of the e-mail kiosks. Or maybe it is just that the first general session is going on right now and I'm blowing it off. ha!
I miss my Hubby too, but the puppies are the ones who sleep on top of me at night. If Hubby slept on top of me I'd be crushed.
So it wasn't a good night of rest. Hopefully I'll be more tired and more used to the room tonight.
Oh, the night light didn't help.
In the bathroom is a hairdryer. On the hairdryer is a little orange light. When I turned out the light on the night stand the orange light lit up the whole front half of the room. It was actually rather freaky. I even got up and tried to hang a towel over it to block it a bit. Didn't help much. And of course the air conditioner kicking on and off all night didn't help. I wish there was a way to travel and still sleep at home.

EduBear coronetI didn't tell you about the adorable teddy bear I snagged on the floor yesterday. He's palm size and had on a little t-shirt. I almost wonder if it would be possible to knit him little sweaters. I was very bad, I just walked by the booth and swiped one without making eye contact. hehehe.
I also got an adorable little pedometer. Those people I talked to, but I'm actually meeting with them so it's all good. Based on the numbers from last night I walked about a mile and a half yesterday. I reset it and put it on before I left my room this morning. I'm already up to half a mile and the day has only just begun.
Ok, I should jet, I have a meeting at 9:30 and I haven't had any tea yet.

And Coronet is moving along. I worked on it last night as I watched "It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!"
The crown isn't working up as quickly as I expected, I have a few rows, but the whole thing is around 4 inches and the goal is 8.5 before the decreases start. I attempted to try it on and the fit seems like it will be good.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Toothpaste Weirdness

rosen roomOk, I just had to stop and share this since I've never seen anything like it.
Hubby and I recently switched to Tom's of Maine toothpaste, for no better reason than we are lazy and it is the brand that Trader Joe's carries. It's nice toothpaste, not as sweet as your major brand names ones, so it does take a use or two to get used to it.
Anyway, the tube feels metallic.
I just pulled it out of my suitcase to freshen up before hitting the floor. The tube felt cold. Mind you, I've been on the ground again for four hours by now.
When I took the cap off a whole bunch oozed out. I mean a big ol' glob that actually made me feel like I had wasted toothpaste (not that I'd try to save it out of a hotel sink).
But, really, to have toothpaste come shooting out like that? I have to assume it is from the difference in pressure that it has been subjected too.

In Knitting News
I've finished the cable band for Coronet. Finished knitting it on the plane, but couldn't go anycoronet kitchener
further since my scissors were in my checked bag. While lounging in my hotel room I kitchenered it (and did a rather good job, if I do say so myself) and picked up stitches to work the crown. That took about five attempts before I was satisfied.
I have the camera with me, but I don't have the cord or a way to download, so you'll just have to wait.
Oh, and the room is pretty nice.

Out of Pocket

rosen view That phrase amuses me to no end.
It's sort of gibberish, if you think about it, and yet people seem to know what it means.
Mainly, that I'm going to be out of reach for a few days.
I'm in the sunny state of Florida for a convention. Got up at 5 am for an 8 am flight, which took off on time but hit a bit of turbulence getting underway. wheee! The rest of the flight was fine and on time. phew.
The nice thing about Florida is it only around a 2 hour flight and it's direct. So you just tumble off and keep going.
Anyway, now I'm cooling my heels waiting to check into my hotel. My first meeting isn't until 6 pm. I've picked up my badge and the conference bag. Boss Man and I tried to get on the show floor, but it's closed until 2 pm.
This will probably be the last time you hear from me until the weekend.
First day, it's quiet, won't be like this for long.

Friday, October 24, 2008

It's Here! It Came!

Ambrosia mitts finished
My copy of Luxury Yarn One-Skein Wonders came in the mail today!
Finally! I've been wondering where it was. It was added to Ravelry a few days ago and then patterns started appearing. I wanted to add mine, but I wanted to see it in the book first, just to be sure, you know.
Oh, it's so exciting!
The picture of my mitts, which they named Top-Down Alpaca Mitts, is on page 16 and the pattern is on page 63. And then the little bio I wrote is in the back.
15 minutes here I come!
I took pictures of the book, but when I tried to export them out of iPhoto to my desktop so I could add them to Flickr the computer said there isn't enough disc space available. Which is odd, so I guess we need to clean the desktop up a bit.
You know, I never did get a good photo of the mitts myself. I knew I should have brought them home today. Maybe next month.
Ok, I have to go study the other patterns and gaze fondly at my own name in print some more.
Gazing at my own name in print, for some reason it never gets old.

A Line Has Been Crossed

coronet swatch on baruAfter dinner last night I tossed aside the sock I was working on and pulled out the stuff to make Coronet. (It's a Knitty pattern. I put a link in a previous post about it.)
I haven't gone very far over the line, I didn't actually cast on or anything, but I pulled out the Denise tips I would need and I have the pattern, yarn, and needles with me just in case an opportunity to knit comes along.
The line I'm attempting to cross or not cross here is casting on for a new project when I still have so many others to finish.

Maybe a Toe Over the Line
Well, ok, I sort of cast on.
The pattern calls for a provisional cast on. The cabled band is knit flat, then grafted shut, then stitches are picked up along the side to work the top.
The other day someone pointed out that Judy's Magic Cast On(that is a link for the Knitty article, first thing that popped up) is a provisional cast on. This had not occurred to me since I've only used it for some sock toes, you cast on and work in a circle. Well, this person pointed out that you can cast on and just work one side.
What? No waste yarn to worry about pulling out? Sign me up.
My question is do I really have to graft, or can I three needle bind off? But my aversion might be because I selected this pattern when I was still a newish knitter and hadn't memorized the kitchener stitch so the idea of it scared me. Ah, how these impressions linger. My first attempt to kitchener a sock toe shut, which I believe came before I found the hat pattern, was such a disaster I ended up doing a three-needle bind off instead.

But I Crossed Right Back
I only "sort of" cast on because after I got the stuff out I practiced to make sure I can do the cast on without directions. If I hadn't remembered the steps I would have had to fish the directions out as well. But I did remember the steps, although I had trouble remembering which stitches were the twisted ones.
However, I pulled it all out. My intention is to cast on to the 16" cable (or whatever length that short one is) and one of the 5 1/2" inch cables. I'll have my working stitches on the longer cable to knit the band and put the other stitches, for the grafting, on the short cable with the button ends.
Of course my test ended up the other way around. Now I know I have to have the longer cable on the bottom when I cast on. So I'm all set when the time comes.

Swatch? What Swatch?
Well, aside from swatching.
I do want the thing to fit after all.
Can't decide whether I should swatch ahead of time or wait for the plane.
I didn't swatch on the train this morning because I wasn't on the train this morning. Just didn't do enough prep last night to leave the house on time this morning. Which is also why I didn't get further than a practice cast on, because you know once I start I'm gonna keep going.
I should probably swatch over the weekend so I can be sure of the needle sizes to bring with me. That would stink, get on the plane and have the wrong needles. ick.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Elephant Pictures

elephants 2clearOk, it's not the best picture in the world, but I'd like to remind you I was on a moving train.
I couldn't get a window seat, but I sat near the door so when the train approached the elephant area I moved to the vestibule.
There are other pictures and versions in my Flickr photostream, but I posted this one because you can tell they are elephants. (That picture is on Flickr. Clicking it will probably be the easiest way to get to my photostream.)
Looking back, I probably should have held the camera up to my eye, and maybe zoomed in (which is alway tricky). But I had it at my waist as I was trying to be sort of inconspicuous. When we approached the elephants I just kept clicking the shutter.
I haven't decided whether I should try again tonight.

A Case for Coronet
The fuzzy green hat has reached its end of life, I think. I wore it yesterday and it is now so stretched out it keep flopping into my eyes. Very annoying. Its current condition is probably due to age, but could also be attributed to the fact that at the end of last season instead of putting it back in the storage bin in the attic like a good like crocheter, I left it hanging on a hook by the back door.
I do have the red elf hat to fall back on, but I really have to be in the mood to be stared at the wear that one. And, since it is a little small, it doesn't cover my ears very well. And winter hat wearing is often about keeping my ears warm.
Which is all tilting the scale in favor of taking Coronet for my trip next week. I'll be looking at two three hour flights, I should make good progress on whatever project I take. The other project in the running is my Arrgyle socks.
Oh, who am I kidding? I'll probably end up taking both. They both fit the main requirement of a good travel project: portability.
They both blow the easy or uncomplicated requirement out of the water. One has a cable, the other has bobbins (or, technically, yarn butterflies). At least neither has a complicated chart. Ok, maybe the Arrgyles do, but it's only one page.
That could be an interesting poll. Top features/requirements of a travel project.
Well, I won't be packing until Monday, so much can change between now and then, there is no point in speculating.
And, yes, like a good knitter/crocheter, I have given more thought to which project to pack than to what clothes to pack (aside from the need to do the laundry).

Sky Picture
sky 102208
And here is a gratuitous picture of the sky yesterday morning at my transfer station. The black lines are the power lines for the electric trains. I've seen better skies, but I had the camera with me and I understand posting sky pictures is fashionable.
I would have posted this yesterday, but as I mentioned yesterday, I didn't have the cable with me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Unable to knit on the train ride home yesterday I sat staring out the window only to behold a bunch of elephants!
Ok, maybe four.
But elephants none the less.
One of them had a blue star painted on either side of his tail. Because, you know, those show elephants are kind of flashy.
Turns out Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus is setting up for a run in the stadium next to my transfer station this weekend.
Add me to the list of people for whom circuses lost their shine as we got older, but getting to see some random elephants on my ride home, in the middle of a fair sized city, was pretty exciting.
I made sure to put the camera in my purse last night in case I saw them again today (I forgot to grab the USB cord, but that didn't end up mattering).
I couldn't get a window seat on the correct side of the train this morning, but it was ok because they weren't out. It was a bit chilly and maybe too early. I have high hopes for the ride home so I'm going to make a real effort to get a window so I can get a picture.
Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

E-Mails to Washington Update

Back when the economic meltdown was just starting to melt down, I threw a little hissy fit and e-mailed my representatives in Washington expressing the opinion that all the corporate executives shouldn't receive big severance packages.
Now I didn't weigh in on the bailout one way or the other, I was just concerned about executive pay.
Then I went into a little pout that no one was getting back to me. After a day or two my narcissistic moment passed and I acknowledged (to myself at least) that they were really rather busy with the negotiating process and I was just going to have to wait for a response.
Although, from the way things unfolded, it did appear they were paying attention to communication from constituents (the phone calls at least).

First up was Christopher Dodd on Oct. 14. His form letter really focused on the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac aspect of the matter and why they went into receivership. Didn't really address the compensation issue.

Next up was Christopher Shays on Oct. 17. His form letter nailed it. He agreed that high executive pay was unacceptable, explained the limitations built into the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, and also explained the oversights required by the act (as a bonus). He also threw in some Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac stuff just for good measure.
I have to say Shays' office is good about responding. I get his e-mail news letter too, and it is an interesting skim. I went to one of his local town hall meetings once a year or two ago. It was interesting, but left me a little concerned about some of the views of my fellow citizens.

Last but not least was Joe Lieberman on Oct. 20. Wow, ok, Lieberman's form letter was very long. In fact, I only just now read the whole thing. He explains what led to the melt down, runs through the legislation including executive compensation and the oversight committees, and explains what Paulson did with the first $250 billion on Oct. 14. So, um, I think he addressed my concerns, but he went a little overboard.
Not to be cynical, but his letter also had this line:
The government must publicly disclose the details of every transaction within 48 hours.

And I have to wonder, what will count as public disclosure?

You Can Too!
Well, anyway, I made such a fuss about writing to them at the time, I thought you might want to know the results.
You should try writing to your people in Congress and the Senate some time, it's sort of empowering and also vaguely annoying. But with the e-mail contact me feature on their pages, it's also very easy.
Of course, at this point, you might want to wait until after the election.

Sheep Update
Ok, I confess, the plywood sheep are fine. On the way home, since the approach angle is different, I could see they had moved to a hill in the side yard.
Far away from the plywood bear, I might add.

Energy Efficiency Update
The inspection has been rescheduled for Monday Oct. 27 at 8 am. I figured get it over with, the i can have the afternoon to knit and pack for my (business) trip to Florida.
Downside: Hubby won't be home to control the pups.
Annoying bit: the lady sold me on the idea of using our house for a final certification day for some of the people being trained. She said it would take all day and there would be lots of people, but we'd get a thank you gift. I was all for it, but it was the 30th and I'll still be in Fla.
Oh well, I'll be energy efficient that much sooner.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Little Bo Peep?

When we go grocery shopping we pass a house that has a bit of a hill in the front yard.
For the longest time this hill was decorated with three of those plywood lawn ornaments in the shape of sheep. Not just silhouettes, they had white bodies and black faces and legs.
(Personally I've always found this time of lawn ornament vaguely annoying and would never have them myself, but to each their own.)
Now the sheep are gone. But in a near-by part of the yard is a silhouette of a black bear.
And I have to wonder, did the bear eat the sheep?

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm Here

I'm here. I'm alive. I haven't been abducted by aliens.
Not that I think I would mind be abducted by aliens at the moment. Well, as long as they brought along Hubby and the pups as well. Really, it might actually be fun. We like to travel.
I wonder if I could access Blogger from outer space?
And I imagine aliens have yarn too. They would probably have cloth of some sort to make clothes, and if it was woven then I could knit with the thread.
Unless they were nudist aliens.
But even then they would need fabrics for other things, right? Like furniture covers, curtians, shopping bags. So I should still be ok.
I wonder if aliens knit or crochet? Those strike me as very basic skills a culture would develop. Didn't knitting start as a way to make fishing nets? Unless the aliens had telekenisis, then they could just will the fish out of the water.
Anyway, if they don't, I could teach them and bring intergalactic peace through fiber. How cool would that be?

No Such Alien Luck
Sadly, I have not been abducted by aliens, nudist or otherwise. No, I've been on the losing side of a battle with a migraine the last few days. Of course, I always seem to be on the losing side.
This might also explain the thus far loopy post you are suffering through.
I did a sick/working from home day Wednesday. This allowed me to finish my article and then pass out, all in my pajamas. I came to the office Thursday, but left after lunch. But yesterday I was also able to get into my naturopath for an acupuncture treatment.
I've found acupuncture rather effective for shorting out a migraine. And it doesn't have the side effects that the all powerful pills do.
I actually did a course of treatments at the beginning of the year that really backed my migraines off, but it also got expensive, so I stopped to give myself a chance to catch up on the bill. Guess I delayed too long.
So I got stuck full of pins, got home and passed out, then was back to my perky self. Just in time, don't want to be suffering with that nonsense over the weekend!

No Such Knitting Either
Add the light sensitivity caused by the migraine dampening my desire to stare at a computer screen, to the fact that I haven't actually been knitting lately, and you get no blog posts.
My hands were a bit sore in the beginning of the week as well, which I attribute to all that yard work over the weekend.
Oh, yeah, all that yard work? Pointless. The driveway is so full of leaves you would never guess I had raked.
Anyway. Even if my hands hadn't been hurting, migraines kill my desire to knit/crochet. In fact the only desire I have during a migraine is to crawl under the covers and die.
But I got the stealth sock out last night and worked a few rows. I'll be ready to write the pattern up soon. I always like to actually work the numbers myself rather than just guess based on sock math and assume things will work out. Especially if there is any kind of pattern that could be affected.
My finishing the sock might not relieve the lack of knitting pictures, however, since I've arranged to swap test knitting with another sock club designer. So I won't be able to discuss her pattern either.
It's all very mysterious.
Ok, gotta go. My soup, which didn't heat up properly in the microwave anyway, is getting cold.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Inappropriate Shrieking

Apparently Baru is not the only one in this family who raises false alarms.
After all that yard work this weekend I decided a nice, hot bath would do me good. I don't usually just soak in the tub, I get bored, but I needed it.
I closed the door so I wouldn't have to worry about the room being cold. Then I went from a hot bath to a warm shower.
While I was showering there was a horrible clatter and banging on the shower door. I knew neither puppy was in the room with me. Between the frosted glass and being blind as a bat without my glasses on I didn't know who or what could be attacking me.
So I shrieked a couple times and retreated to the far corner of the tub. Because that is the best way to defend yourself from an invisible or imaginary foe.
Hubby came charging to my rescue. As soon as he opened the door he saw the decorative rack on the opposite wall that holds bubble bath and lotions had collapsed. He theorized it was because the room was so steamed up.
"Why do you have the door closed?"
"So the room stays warm." duh.

But It Was a Spider
Which reminds me of the time I was drying off after a shower. I looked down and saw a large (from that angle and distance) spider crawling across my chest.
I shrieked and flapped my hands and towel (I might have yelled Spider! Spider!). Because that is the best way to defend yourself from a giant spider.
This time Hubby charged to my rescue to find me glued against the wall standing on the far edge of the tub with my towel out in front of me. Without my glasses on I couldn't see where the spider had gone.
Expecting to find a tarantula, he saw an average black spider on the floor near the bath mat. But he rescued me anyway.

But Where Was He for the Snake?
Which reminds of the time year before last when I was trying to be ultra efficient and do a load of laundry before leaving for work.
Hubby had left for school and the pups were out in the yard when I reached into the washing machine for what I thought was a shoelace or other harmless piece of string.
Turned out to be a poor, drowned garden snake.
The fact that it was dead did not stop me from dropping it on the edge of the washer and proceed to run around the basement flapping my hands shrieking "Snake! Snake!" Of course there was no one to hear or rescue me.
When I got the shock out of my system I assessed the situation and decided the laundry was still clean, so I turned on the dryer then high tailed it out of the basement, slamming the door behind me. We don't think the pups go in the basement when we're not home, but I didn't want to take the chance.
Now if I'd been single, I would have had to pull myself together, get a paper towel, and dispose of the snake myself. But I had Hubby to fall back on and I made him do it.
Why no, he wasn't happy about the situation at all. But at least he was expecting it to be there.

Knitting? What's that?
Yeah, so not much progress on anything. It was a busy weekend. Really, I just wanted to work on some stockinette, but I didn't want to cast on for a new project. I did manage to sew on some more of Sundae's trim.
This week should be more productive.

Monday, October 13, 2008

No Go

The energy assessment didn't happen.
We had waited for about 45 minutes when Hubby suggested I call to see where they were. I was told the crew wasn't working because it was Columbus Day, a fact I had questioned when the appointment was set. The dude said someone was supposed to call me to reschedule, well obviously they didn't. Now they are supposed to call me first thing tomorrow and I'll have to take a vacation day.
The best part was an auditor from UI was at the house to assess their work, which I told the dude on the phone.
A few hours later someone called Hubby to apologize for the inconvenience. That person said the crew had called in sick. Uh, huh. My suspicions are fueled by them knowing about the auditor, however the auditor was long gone so how could that help them?
One good thing is the auditor said this company we're working with is one of the best and actually trains the other companies in the program.

Yard Work on an Autumn Day
Another good thing is Hubby and I got tons of yard work done. He was already outside mowing when it all fell apart. The plan was he'd take the pups out with him when the guys arrived and I'd be in the house to observe.
Well, when they weren't showing up I got bored, went out front and started sweeping the porch. That turned into raking the driveway. Hubby mowed and trimmed the hedges.
The house looks all spiffy again. The raking wouldn't have gotten down if the guys had shown up because I wouldn't have been out there helping.

Iris Plant Goes Down
But that's not the only outside stuff I did.
On Saturday I attacked an overgrown Iris plant in the side yard. A previous owner had planted it and I haven't divided it in the three years we've been here. It was starting to choke itself.
I was at it for two or three hours. I had to dig it up, which wasn't easy because the roots were so dense and our soil is so rocky. I even had to pop a section of the picket fence out so I could attack it from all angles.
It was so tangled up that I had to bust out the garden shears and just hack at it to break it apart. I ended up with probably two dozen plants when I was done.
Thankfully, Hubby arrived home from the debate then and I had an excuse to toss everything in the shed and collapse. I did dig a trench along the fence and replant about 8 plants first.
This morning I woke up bright and early (which was annoying on a holiday Monday) and went straight outside and planted the rest of the plant.
That little adventure ended up taking two hours as well. There is a weird berry plant thing that keeps growing in one of my flower beds. It has really thick roots, which I think is how it propagates, and black berries in a grape cluster. Well, I went crazy uprooting it. Ended up digging up one entire flower bed and a hole at least a foot deep.
The worst part is it will probably be back next year.

A Fuzzy Supervisor
Samson got tons of fresh air this weekend.
Since he is a good puppy who just wants to be with his human I let him be in the front yard with me while I was attacking the Iris. And he followed me around while I was raking. He kept an eye on Hubby, but he doesn't like the lawnmower and other noise equipment.
The only issue we had on Saturday was when someone walked by the house and Samson started to follow him. I turned just in time to see his tail disappearing around the hedge. But he came right back, straight to me, sat down looking all contrite, and gave me his paw. He looked very sheepish during my lecture about being a bad puppy.
Baru stayed in the house. He doesn't like to be outside anyway, and his little brain can't handle the excitement of being in the front yard, so he runs around like a maniac. It's worrisome and just easier on everyone not to include him.

Did I Mention How Lucky I Am?
Just as I finished planting everything this morning Hubby called me in for breakfast. He had a lovely veggie omelet waiting. With a bowl of strawberries on the side. I swear sometimes it's like being at a bed and breakfast.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Energy Efficient in Connecticut, Part 1

(NB no knitting or puppy content ahead, and the information contained herein is totally Connecticut-centric.)

About two weeks ago I went from a Ravelry forum to a user's profile to her blog, where she was talking about saving money on her utility bills.
A fellow Nutmeger (ha! Connecticut is the Nutmeg state, and that is a goofy nickname for residents. Don't blame me, I'm not native), she mentioned having a home energy assessment performed, but was unclear on how to sign up. She mentioned calling either your gas or electric utility, but didn't say which company she was with.
In Connecticut, as far as I know, we have two electric distribution companies Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P) and United Illuminating (UI, which is the one I have). Since she didn't mention who was sponsoring the program in which she participated, I didn't know if the company mattered.
The editor in me twitched. I suppose she was being general in order to appeal to a wider audience, but I have no such compunctions. However, she did achieve her goal, as I ran off to find out more.
(The theme of her blog is budgeting and saving money. I haven't been reading it regularly, but it seems interesting. However I checked it again preparing for this post and her grocery budget is so out of step with my version of reality that I'm not sure how useful her information would be to me.)

My Tax Dollars at Work
Turns out the Home Energy Solutions Program is a partnership between the state, UI, CL&P, Yankee Gas, Southern Connecticut Gas, and Connecticut Natural Gas.
It is free to residents who heat with electric or natural gas. People who heat with oil, propane or kerosene have a $300 co-pay.
It is "free" in the sense that I am not going to have to hand them money. Turns out the program is funded by a charge on my monthly electric and gas bills.

Who They Want
In addition to those with electric or natural gas heat, the program is targeted to high energy users. There are disclaimers on the applications about possible wait lists and subject to available funding.
However, I must be just the kind of people they are looking for because I faxed in my application on a Monday and they called us on Tuesday! Their eagerness to assist me can't be a good sign.
People who rent need to get their landlord's permission.
There are other programs in place for low income residents which you can find off the linked pages. Since I don't qualify, I didn't investigate them.
I'm not sure how long these programs have been running or how well they are being marketed, since I didn't learn about it until I read that blog. Maybe I should look at the bill inserts more carefully.

What It Does
The original blogger says they sealed around her windows, installed low flow shower heads, and replaced traditional bulbs with compact fluorescent lights (CFL).
When I originally read her post I thought it was unclear who paid for that. I thought it's not worth it having someone come tell me to change my bulbs. Those bulbs are wicked expensive. But rereading her post to prepare for my post I see she does state "all that stuff is free." So I must have read too quickly.
(However, since the majority of my lights are on dimmers, I don't think the bulb thing is going to help me. They have CFLs for use with dimmers, but they are even more expensive than the normal ones.)
In poking around, I found they will also seal ducts, insulate the water heater and pipes, and provide rebates or incentives for appliances and insulation.
I'm really hoping we can qualify for the central air rebate since we only just installed it over the summer.
The applications on the Yankee Gas and UI sites are basically the same, and go to the same person, but the UI program description is more robust, so I used that one. However, I have to imagine the services offered will be the same across the board since it is one contractor for all the companies in the program. (Just to be safe, I printed the descriptions from both companies.)

Getting Ready
They are coming on Monday (Columbus Day). It is expected to take three hours. I've been cleaning the house a little every night after work (well, expect Tuesday with that hour delay on the train) since they will tour the entire house from top to bottom.
I hope whoever they send likes dogs. It's going to be hard to keep the pups confined for that long when they know a new person is in the house.

Electrical Generation
The original blogger ended with a request for other ways to save. I had one, in addition to my questions, but she is on Wordpress and I didn't want to set up an ID just to leave a comment (mean and lazy, I know) and I couldn't remember her Ravelry ID.
But what I would have pointed out is that Connecticut is one of 22 states (based on a document from 2005 I found online) that has deregulated energy.
From what I understand this was done to open our electrical generation to competition, which was expected to lower rates. You can see how well it has worked for us as I recently heard we (i.e., Connecticut) have some of the highest electrical rates in the country.
So CL&P and UI are distributors who deliver our electric to our door, but we can shop around for generators. We can even select a "green" provider (such as wind), although they cost more.
Currently my generator is Dominion. When I switched to them, um, year before last they were cheaper than UI. Since then Dominion's rates have risen above UI's. We're talking cents and tenths of a cents, but it adds up.
However I'm not going to switch again until my contract is set to renew in January.
I'm on UI's budget plan, which averages my usage for the year and charges me one set amount regardless of my actual usage. What people don't always realize is if you are on the budget plan when you switch generation companies any balance accumulated comes due immediately.
Which could provide a bit of a shock on your next bill. I suspected that might be the case and asked before I changed. As the current goal is to be saving money, having to come up with a lump sum would be counterproductive. (The accumulated balance comes due when the budget plan resets, which happens to be when my contract renews so it is sensible to wait.)

It will be interesting to see what happens on Monday. And more interesting to see when the savings start to show.
I'll fill you in.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Finished! Again.

I finished the toe of the stealth sock on the train this morning. Now I just have to Kitchener it shut.
I wisely brought the other half of the skein (I divided it) along so I can work on the larger size on the way home.
Now I just have to write it up.
Then I can move on to knitting stuff I can photograph! Yipee!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Dangers of Digital Cameras

Back when film ruled the Earth, you would only get a series of pictures like this at the end of a roll.
samson eye
samson squint
samson mouth
samson smile
baru face
But with a digital camera, without the cost of developing the film, you can take goofy pictures whenever!
So most of those are Samson who was sitting up on my lap preventing me from doing anything else. I held the camera up to the side and behind my head and snapped away. The last is of Baru who was minding his own business on the floor.
They are all on Fliker, so if you want to see a bigger version of Samson's nose you can click the picture and be taken to my photo stream.
This photo shoot was on Sunday. The attempt to photograph my hats was on Tuesday, so maybe Hubby was correct that the puppies are trained to expect the camera to involve them.

Speaking of Hubby
He's home from school today. But he hasn't called me once. This is really strange because he usually calls me multiple times to ask me stuff when he is home. When he was off last Tuesday he called me three times while I was in a staff meeting(!). The whole team got to hear our grocery list.
Maybe I shouldn't worry. I didn't leave him a to-do list today. He is probably just mowing the lawn and doing other man-stuff that I don't have to consult on.
Hubby praise: On this Tuesday the train home was delayed for an hour. I didn't get home until 7:30. I had called Hubby with updates so he could time dinner. When I finally arrived home he had dinner started and was in the process of feeding the pups so I wouldn't have to. Isn't he lovely?

Still Stealth Knitting
Yeah, so it's obvious by now that I have no knitting to talk about. The thing about designing a sock, or other item to be worn, is that you end up making it multiple times to tweak and proof the design. This isn't usually a problem, and can even provide blog fodder, unless no one is supposed to know anything about the sock until the pattern is released.
Although I had finished that sock last week, I had some changes I wanted to make and I wanted to recheck the numbers, so I ripped it all out and started over.
I've turned the heel! You think turning a heel is tricky? Try doing it on the train, which might prevent you from doing it all in one shot so when you get back to it you have to sit there and go "knitting or purling?" Gives new meaning to the phrase "mind the gap."
Now it's just down the foot and to the toe and I'm done again.
Once this size small one is done I'll have to work at least part of the large size to double check those numbers before I hand it over to a test knitter.
It's a very involved process this sock design business, at least it is if you are going to expect people to pay good money for your pattern.
Good think I'm having fun!
As for my urge to knit a hat yesterday—gone. It was 58 degrees when I left the house this morning and at least that now. Shoot, almost makes me want to get Sundae out again.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Must Resist Hat

Must stay focused on stealth sock!
Yesterday morning Hubby said the car said it was 41 degrees Fahrenheit. This morning my car said it was 39 degrees. Now, we're pretty sure the cars exaggerate on a regular basis, but when I was standing on the platform waiting for the train I could believe it. And I thought to myself, "I want a new hat."
I have made myself two hats, which I usually rotate. I made them both when we were living in New Hampshire.

Hats Off To Me
First there is my fuzzy green hat. It is crocheted out of Lion Brand Chenille Thick and fuzzy green hatQuick in the forest green color. I believe it is a modified version of the hat that was on the ball band.
I ended up with this yarn in this color because one year my mom wanted a fuzzy green scarf for Christmas. This was before I became a yarn snob. (Not that there is anything wrong with Lion Brand, but I think I would consider more choices now.)
I had a skein leftover, which was enoume and baru 2gh for the hat. It's
warm and I usually get lots of compliments when I wear it.
But since I made it in 2001 or 2002 it is starting to get a bit floppy and stretched out.
I tried to get a picture of me wearing it, but Baru kept attacking me and Hubby was watching the debate. So I stuck it on a cantaloupe.

elf hat
The other hat is what I call my elf hat. I like to wear it when I'm feeling whimsical. It is knit out of Lion Brand Chenille Thick and Quick, Jiffy Thick and Quick, and a third yarn I can't remember because I'm at work and the information is at home. This was also a free Lion Brand pattern. It is actually part of a set which includes a scarf, mittens, and bag. I think it was called the Zig Zag Set.
I never made any of the other pieces. I don't think knit mittens would keep my hands warm enough, the bag was vaguely interesting, and I have plenty of scarfs. Add to that the Chenille is even worse to knit with than it is to crochet with and it just wasn't going to happen. I don't think I actually got gauge on this project, at least not on the brim.
Another impediment to achieving gauge was that I was a fairly new knitter and the size US11 needles I was using were either from my mother-in-law or a yard sale, so they are long, plastic straights. ack.
baru and elf hat Baru continued to involve himself in my activities with the camera and hats. Or maybe he just wants the cantaloupe. He likes cantaloupe. But then Baru like most everything you can eat. (This picture is actually a better representation of the color of the Lamb's Pride than the solo shot.)

Hat I'd Like to Know Better
The hat I'm resisting casting on for is Coronet from the Winter 2003 issue of Knitty.
lambs pride yarn
Now back during my glorious month working at Patternworks I picked up the yarn to make this hat. It was going to be my first cable project (I skipped ahead and make that Karabella scarf #KK239 [that link should take you to the pattern page on Karabella, don't know if it will stick/work] instead for Hubby).
Don't know why I've been slacking, other yarn and patterns caught my eye. I already had hats. I learned how to cable.
But now. Now my ears are cold and I'm thinking it's time to finally cast on four plus years later.
But I have to finish this sock pattern first!
(This also is proof that a yarn diet can be good for me on many levels.)

Gratuitous Baru Picture
baru 107 Hubby postulated that the reason Baru (and Samson, truth be told) kept bothering me is because they wanted me to take their pictures. He thinks they've already become accustomed to the camera and that if I have it out I will be trying to corner them.
If he's right, then they could make all our lives easier by standing still when I aim it at them!
(His tongue isn't orange. He has a squeeky basketball in his mouth.)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Stupid Mohair Sweater

sweater damageLast week I pulled out my Mohair Cowl Sweater. It was not only as limp as a flaccid balloon because it ended up at the bottom of the sweater pile (oops), but there was a snag in the sleeve.
Now I must have been very annoyed indeed to have put it away like that, but I can understand my reaction considering the damage the dogs caused the first time I wore it after it was done.
I don't quite remember whether the sleeve snag was caused by a puppy; I think it involved a belt buckle. It could have involved a watch strap, but the sweater doesn't have a clear front/back so I don't know which arm this sleeve was on. The world may never know.
Apparently my feelings have not changed, since I shoved it into the dining room credenza with the rest of my "active" knitting/crochet and let it languish for a week.
I fished it out again on Sunday and, of course, the repair to mere minutes. sweater fixed
I was going to try to take pictures of the repair process, but I only have two hands and the colors were working against me.
When the one strand was yanked out of place a line of pulled/tight stitches resulted on either side, eventually lessening until the fabric was normal again. I followed that line to its termination to see what I was up against. Then I used a crochet hook to draw the slack back into the fabric and work it along the pull line. It's fiddly, but doable since the fabric is so open.
I like this sweater, it has a good wow factor, and it is warmer than it looks. But at the same time this tendency to snag at the drop of a puppy paw is really annoying.
Because, if all that isn't enough, when I got to work Monday the velcro on my driving gloves snag one ply of one strand. Not a whole strand, just a little piece. I don't think I'll be able to work it back in.
I think it will be a very long time before I make anything this filmy again!

Bunny Puppy
samson carrotHere is Samson enjoying a breakfast carrot. (Baru takes his treasures further into the green room and eats them too quickly to photograph.)
The rest of their "puppy mash" (which is what we call their ground veggies) was used up for dinner Sunday night. Since there isn't time in the morning to make puppy mash, I was lazy and just gave them each a whole carrot. This was not the best course of action as I've read dogs don't digest the cellulose in vegetables as efficiently as humans do, so veggies should be cooked or ground to make the nutrients available to them. Well, once in a while won't kill them.
Yes, my puppies eat their veggies better than many human children do.
And, yes, sometimes I do feel bad that my dogs eat better than many humans. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't feed my dogs. And even if they were on kibble they might still be eating better than some humans. Really, a girl can't win.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Blog Ribbon? For Me?

My blog buddy Ms Create gave me an "I Love Your Blog Award"!
How terribly flattering. She reads my blog more regularly than my mom does and always leaves me a nice message.
Now, the rules of the game say I have to nominate four other blogs in turn. This is kind of tricky because I don't actually read a lot of blogs regularly. But I've thought about it a lot and I think I've sorted it out. (The matter was complicated because Ms Create and the person who nominated her are starting a trend of recognizing smaller blogs.)
And I'll just point out that if this had come from a different source I would have nominated Ms Create. She has a farm with lots of critters, she knits and spins and even makes soap(!), so there are a number of different crafts to amuse a reader. We found each other during Summer of Socks and cheered each other on during Ravelympics. Although the rules don't say it, I suspect nominating the person who nominated you doesn't count.
So here goes, in no particular order:
First up is Major Knitter. She is actually a customer at the store. When I was first working at the store I heard she had a blog and ran off to check it. I ended up feeling really voyeuristic because I suddenly knew much more about her than our relationship warranted. So I didn't read it again. But now that she is a friend on Ravelry I've gotten over that. I kept seeing all these interesting titles and first paragraphs and couldn't help myself. She does lovely knitting, has charity projects going on, and is involved with the Boy Scouts. If you like variety in your blog knitting you should check it out.
Next up is Danni Knits. She's another staff member at the store. I wasn't reading her blog at first because I thought it would make me feel creepy, but now I've known her for a few years. And I've realized that I hear about most of her projects when we work together anyway so it's not like I'm finding out stuff I shouldn't!
My third would be Stitch and Chat. This is also by a staff member (keep it close to home, don't I?). What's interesting about Stitch and Chat is that instead of being totally selfcentered like my blog, she discusses the projects of people in her knitting group. It's intersting to see the variety of projects and progress.
Finally, I'm going to whimp out and go with WendyKnits and the Yarn Harlot. I imagine I don't have to tell you about them. WendyKnits was the very first knitting blog I started reading and provided useful information when I started knitting socks. I don't remember when I started reading the Yarn Harlot, but she's just funny and I can relate to the writer angst stuff too.
(I would have also nominated Angel Knits, another of my Ravelry friends. She also has lovely projects and we must be in tune because in the depths of August when I was starting to tire of sock knitting and small needles she turned around and worked on a big needle project! She's been slacking on the posting a bit so she migh need the encouragement. But she received this award recently and it's not that I don't think she deserves it twice, I don't want to stress her out by making her have to nominate four more blogs! But she stops by regularly, so she'll know.)
Ok, here are the rules, shamelessly copy/pasted from Ms Create's blog. :-)

Here are the rules for "acceptance" of your blog award.

1. Please put the award on your blog.

2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.

3. You must nominate at least 4 fellow bloggers for this award.

4. Add links to the recipients.

5. Leave a comment so the recipients know they have received an award.

Friday, October 3, 2008

I Can Knit A Sock In Two Weeks or Less

Two weeks or less...
Two weeks or less...
I can knit a sock on my double points
my double points
my double points
Look at Yarn!
Look at Yarn!
It's so pretty...

And that's as far as I've gotten.
And if you know the song this is based on, I apologize for getting it stuck in your head. But this has been stuck in my head since Summer of Socks.
However, I have just about finished my stealth sock. I almost finished the toe on the train this morning when we reached my stop. As I was closing in on the toe a part of my brain started freaking out because this means I won't have anything to do on the ride home.
Well, I mean, I guess I could Kitchener it shut. It should work out better than when I tried to do it at work, but I can't see it taking me an hour, so at some point in the trip I'll be twiddling my thumbs or playing games on my iPod.
My involvement with the sock isn't truly done. I have to write up the pattern, get it test knit, photograph the model, have the pattern laid out, and then print them. Then I think I'll be done.
In case you were wondering, the sock is adorable, if I do say so myself. I have support for this claim. Cynthia declared it gorgeous, the other staff members who have seen it liked it, and I've had coworkers and random people on the train admire it. So if you signed up for the next round of the Knitting Central Sock Club, I think you'll be pleased with it.
I don't know how much progress I'll make on my WIPs this weekend, seeing as I should continue to focus on the stealth sock, but you never know.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Questionable Puppy Beds

Here is a picture of Samson settling in for the night—on my side of the bed, which probably indicates where he thinks I rank in the family hierarchy.
Samson in bed Every night we have a routine. He tries to get to my spot before me, then he does his best to look really cute and comfortable (sometimes he pretends to be asleep) so I won't make him move.
Then I grab his shoulders and push him into the middle of the bed, where he usually ends up like a turtle on his back. He usually gives a snort or groan of disgust at my audacity in moving him.
After a minute or two he'll either move to a different part of the bed, or join Baru in the puppy fort.

And here are pictures of Baru in the puppy fort. He's toward the foot of the bed, which is odd because the prime spot is usually under the head of the bed and it was available.
Baru in the puppy fort Baru's butt in the puppy fort
Baru usually starts in the fort. If I go to bed first, he'll jump up into Hubby's spot, but moves fairly quickly when the Alpha arrives. We are more likely to wake up with Baru on our heads than to go to sleep with him there.
Well, now that you know more than you wanted to about our sleeping arrangements....

There was a guy on my transfer platform this morning that had the hilts of three Samurai swords sticking out of his backpack. He was youngish, dressed in a suit. Of course I was dying to know why.
Then another Raveler walked by, I commented on the swords, which she had noticed. Then she dared me to ask. ugh.
So I did, "Excuse me, what's up with the swords?" He was going to a birthday party that night, they were props. boring. But I was like, "So they're plastic?" (which they did appear to be, close up). But he kind of hesitated, then was like "yeah, what did you think I was going to go all 'Kill Bill?'" Which was funny, so I told him someone dared me to ask. And he was like "Tell them it's none of their business unless they want to know for sure." Which was pretty good, but not silly sinister enough.
I considered kinnering him since I had the camera with me, but I'd already talked to him by then so it would have been obvious. Guess I'm also not terribly good at this blogging stuff still.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Uses of Husbands

There are many good uses for husbands. One of my favorites is "taking out the trash." As I was able to get an advanced husband model, mine also cooks dinner every night. yippee!
The poor thing ended up with a long list of errands to run yesterday since his school was closed for Rosh Hashanah. His whole day was taken up, which made him a little cranky. oops.
Among other things, he finally got the camera for the yearbook staff and picked up new rechargable batteries while he was at it. yippee! I put them in to charge last night, so I should be ready for action tonight and won't have to worry about him absconding with it in the future.
If I only had something to photograph.
Well, you can't get it all right at the same time. Just ask Congress. Sorry, cheap shot. In the next election, I'm voting for the grown-ups because we apparently need some adults to lead this country. Maybe it is naive of me, but I always thought our elected officials were somehow smarter or swifter than me. This despite regular demonstrations of the contrary. It's been really hard to hold on to that little illusion recently. sigh.

In other annoying news, one of the little fluorescent lights near my desk at work has been dying a slow and painful death all week. The little ticking sound was driving me batty (battier?).
I was standing under it trying to form a plan of attack, when I made eye contact with one of the tall guys who works at the other end of cube land. (I was debating getting the Guy in the Art Department because he is tall too.) Anyway, Tall Guy Z came over, got a chair, and pulled the bulb out—and the Other AE and the web guy both cheered. I guess it was driving us all nuts.
I also suspect it was why I just couldn't focus on anything at all this morning. And probably contributed to the fact that I've worked four extra rows on my stealth sock heel. I was knitting in a desperate attempt to help myself focus.
Of course, my apparent inability to either count or do math properly might also be a contributing factor to all these extra stitches, but I prefer to blame the light.