Wednesday, May 27, 2009

So Close, So Far

Crochet doily edge My mom has expressed concern about me calling them "Damn Doilies."
She's worried Aunt L will find out.
I said Aunt L isn't online. It is very possible my mother-in-law now reads my blog because she is on Facebook and my blog feeds into my Facebook profile. But she hasn't said anything.
You may remember I fell into the habit of calling them that when I was trying to expand the first one to 12 inches.
Really, they've been fairly easy since then.
I guess it just proves that doilies and I don't mix.
Back in 2004 I crocheted a nice pineapple one for myself, with the intention of making two for under the lamps on the living room end tables.
pineapple doilyIt makes a lovely centerpiece for the coffee table.
Actually, you've seen this pineapple doily before, it was the inspiration for the fancy cuff on the long neglected Peacock Socks.
What you see in the top picture is the process of working the first round of the crochet edging, which also binds off the knit body.
You have to crochet two stitches together right off the knitting needle.
I believe I've complained in the past about how fussy and awkward a process it is, and I thought I'd finally try to prove it.
For reference, I'm using US1 needles and a steel crochet hook!
But that first round is done. Now all I have to do is work the second row, which is far easier, and the Damn Doilies are out of here.

So Far
rib sock cuff I have also quietly, and in fits and starts, been working on the Cotton Ribbed socks.
You have probably forgotten about them as I started them a while ago and haven't mentioned them since.
Well, last night I ripped the first sock, which I had only just finished, all the way back to the 18th row.
You might remember I had been agonizing about stitch count for these socks because I didn't want them to be baggy.
I don't know how well you can tell in this photo, but I had decreased away, um, eight stitches from what I had originally cast on.
This left me with a 40 stitch sock.
This did not sound quite right, since I am a grown woman, even if I do have small feet.
But, of course, I just kept knitting.
The entire time I was working the foot I suspected it wouldn't fit nicely, but kept thinking, "Well, I'll have a better idea after a few more rows."
I believe I ended up that small because I ended up decreasing on both sides and wanted to keep the ribbing correct. I probably should have decreased at one point, which would have led to fewer stitches removed.
I finished last night, but didn't kitchener the toe, or even cut the yarn. I put the sock on and sat there for a little while.
Sure enough, it stretched over my foot, but felt like a sausage casing. It just wasn't comfortable. It did loosen up after a couple minutes, but was still pretty unacceptable.
So I decided to go back to the original number of cast on stitches (48) and just work the entire sock that way. Hopefully my plan of using the ribbing to give them stretch and cling will work out.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Frothy Yellow Thing

frothy yellow thing With the Heart Harf completed and the Damn Doily progressing nicely, I was suddenly struck by the desire to start a new project on Friday night.
I wanted something on big needles, which would work up fast, and give me a different hand position.
This desire for a new project almost drove me to start the baby blankets for my cousins, but I managed to avoid them once again!
Actually, the blankets wouldn't have fit the bill. They would have taken too long, and with the fatigue in my wrists already, the crochet would have done me in.
After pulling out the supplies for three knitting and two crochet projects, I ended up settling on this weird little yellow thing.

It's a What?
The pattern is the Quicksilver Collar from the book Exquisite Little Knits.
Worked on a US10 needle (hey! That counts as big for me!)
I used Trendsetter Yarns Perla, which is the yarn called for in the pattern.
I started it Friday evening and finished it Monday afternoon.

And You Made it Why?
If it strikes you that this project doesn't fit in with my normal behavior in any way, shape, or form, you would be correct.
Ok, stick with me.
A few years ago Artyarns came out with color coordinated silk yarn and silk mohair yarn. They were two separate skeins. Now they seem to mainly come already plied together, like my beautiful Mohair Splash yarn.
(Shoot, now why didn't I think of that on Friday night? Oh, right, I wanted something I didn't have to think about.)
There was a nice green color that I thought would suit my mom. But in a rare moment of magnanimity, I let her choose her own colors.
She walked around the store and selected yellow silk and the matching mohair—and this beastly ball of Perla.
The Perla didn't go with the other two (luxury) yarns at all, so I tossed it aside and made her a garter stitch scarf cast on longways of alternating striped of the other two. She wears it all the time.
So this Perla has been in my stash since then.
I actually tried to make this little collar once before. But I couldn't get past the first two rows for the life of me because it was so hard to tell the difference between an actual stitch and the fringy stuff caught around the needle.
For some reason this time, it all clicked into place.
I would say the hard part about this project was the yarn—it was hard to see what was going on, and sometimes it would get caught up on itself.

The finished project is a weird little semi-triangular thingy. In the picture I have it tied in the back with all the slack back there.
I put it on when I finished it and Hubby was like, "Is that what it's supposed to be?" And I was like, "Yeah, I think so."
Considering my inability to make it to the post office in a timely fashion, mom will probably come for a visit before I manage to mail it.

Call Me Crash
Max bashed You know I wanted to lead with the car story, but this is ostensibly a knitting/crochet blog, so I figured I should stick with the fiber!
Remember two weeks ago when the sedan broke down on me during my drive home?
Well, on Friday I got into a car accident!
I was turning left through an intersection. I had seen a car parallel parked, but didn't think anything of it—until she pulled out and clobbered me on my back passenger door.
Fortunately, I'm fine and she took full responsibility.
After calling the police, I called Hubby. "Um, I was just in a car accident. But it wasn't my fault! It wasn't my fault!"
He said I've been having so much bad luck with the sedan lately maybe he shouldn't make me drive it for a while.
The insurance guy is coming to do the appraisal on Thursday, then we can get it fixed.
Happily, the rest of the weekend was less eventful.
Well, aside from Samson freaking out during the two thunderstorms on Sunday (morning and evening).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Does This Layout Make Me Look Fat?

Be honest.
I can handle it.
You might notice I've rearranged a bit.
I finally conquered the HTML and figured out how to get three columns!
As my cleverness only goes so far, I used the information on Blogger Buster to do it.
Of course, I still want to have a custom background image, but I still can't figure that out.
And, now that I have three columns, I want color between the columns like I've seen on some blogs.
Obviously, I can't be satisfied.

But now that I have my long coveted extra sidebar, I'm worried it all looks a bit cluttered.
I mean, I knew I had a lot of sidebar content to begin with, which was part of the reason I wanted a second one. But now I'm worried it a bit busy.
Maybe I should change the sidebar colors a bit to add some differentiation?
More importantly, I should probably figure out how to get my banner centered.
I'm also painfully aware that I have a TON of labels. I was starting to try to weed them out a bit, but I don't know if eliminating individual project tags would make the labels more or less usable.

It's All Very Complicated
This blogging business. And having a pretty blog.
I guess that's why I'm mainly a content generator and not a design person.
Oh well, I've been at this since, oh my goodness, 1 pm! That's around two and a half hours! Good grief, that is a lot of valuable knitting time I've just frittered away. Although my wrists needed the rest, my hands have been tweeky lately.
Ok, since tomorrow is a holiday we still have to do our grocery shopping today, so I better get a move on.
Wait, before I go downstairs I have to figure out what is going on in the Yankees game. If they are winning I have to stay up here so I don't mess up their mojo. sigh, boys are so funny with their sports.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Back to the Damn Doilies

Doily 2 With the Harf done, I've returned my attention to the neglected doilies.
This would be the only other project that currently has a legitimate deadline, since it is for someone else.
I'm on about row 30, which is about half-way, as of last night.
However, this picture is of the second doily, but I can get away with that because they look the same.
This new crochet thread is not exactly the same as the thread I used for the first two doilies, but it's a closer match than the Knit Cro-sheen was, so I'm rolling with it.
Hopefully, I'll be able to finish this bad boy up over the weekend and move on to other projects!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Harf Done!

harf done open Actually, it's all done.


Keeping in mind my horrible photography skills, and I took these with the camera timer, believe me when I say it is much, much nicer in person.

In this first picture, I have it on, but unfurled so you can get a sense of just how big/long it ended up being. I am, for reference, just barely 5' 1", and it reaches just about to my ankles!
I guess my concern that the scarf bits wouldn't be long enough was unmerited.

That blur behind me and around my knees is Baru puppy swarming me trying to figure out what I was doing. We had just played evening fetch and he got a nice big drink of water, so the scarf and my pants got pup-ified. Ick!

harf done wrapped I hit a point during the knitting, when I was pretty sure I wouldn't have enough yarn for all 36 rows of the repeat I was working, but I couldn't stop myself from knitting.

I did, however, have the presence of mind to toss in a couple lifelines after the last full repeat. When I ran out of yarn on row 14 it was an easy matter to pull back and bind off. The large amount of left over yarn is what made me finally decide to go with the fringe. I was able to get 88 14-inch strands out of what I had left. So there are two strands in each point and 22 points on each end. Rather generous fringe, but my goal all along has been to use every scrap of yarn.
(Ok, I had like 3 fringe strands left over. I'll save them for repairs.)

harf back What I like about the scarf length is you can wrap both ends from the front, around your neck, and back down the front and have length to spare and keep your chest warm. I think anything shorter might have looked goofy in this construction.

My own design using a cable pattern designed by ivanovaknits.
Three skeins of Invernal yarn from Aslan Trends. This is an angora/wool/polyamide blend, so it's very warm, soft, and snuggly, which you totally aren't getting from the bad pictures I took!
US 7 needles

Blocking Barriers
After taking the pictures, I stuck it in the bathroom sink and doused it with cold water (it's handwashable), then ran it through the washing machine's spin cycle (I'm so bad).
I took it up to the attic and quickly realized the blanket I block stuff on (when I bother to block stuff) wasn't big enough.
I also realized that if I really stretched it and pinned it the cable hearts would get distorted. So I settled for stretching it gently by hand and smoothing it out, but not pinning it.
Really, I just wanted to level out the ribbing a bit.
Once it's dry, I'll copy down various statistics so I can re-write the pattern so a normal person can follow it.
Then I shall send it off for the contest!
Seriously, now, I'm going to win First Place so there is no point in you entering.
Save yourself the heartbreak.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Prom 2009

Prom room Hubby and I helped chaperon the prom on Friday, as we tend to do.

This is our fifth prom.

(At this school, we went to three proms at his previous school. I find all this prom attending vaguely ironic, considering what a miserable time I had at my own senior prom. At least now I have a date.)

Mercifully, it was in a new location this year.
The four previous years it was at the Inn at Longshore, which is a very nice space at a country club.

But it was always the same place, with the same food, and honestly I was getting a bit tired of it.

This year it was at the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk.

OMG, it was sooo cool!

We had not been to the aquarium before, which is odd because we like aquariums. Since the chaperons have to get there early, we were able to do a quick wander through the displays before all the kids arrived.

For some reason, we decided it was bigger than we expected, but we didn't get a real sense of the size of it from the outside.

The tables and dancing were set up in the big open room with the floating staircase that leads up to the frog display. (Which will mean nothing to you if you haven't been there.)

This is also the room with the seal tank! Quite a bit of time was spent watching the seals swim prom sealaround.

They reminded us of Baru, because seals have puppy faces and Baru has a little head and a big body. (Yes, we are mean, you only just noticed?)

I also noticed that two guys appeared and hung out next to the tank while the kids were around. Guess they were the seals' bodyguards.

The idea was the kids would be shuttled off into the displays, then make their grand entrance down the staircase, at the bottom of which was the buffet line.

Hubby and I were stationed at the top of the stairs to prevent them from coming down too soon.

Of course, the best laid plans and all that, containment was lost and most of the kids when straight to the tables/buffet line from the main entrance.

How Romantic
We realized we hadn't staked out a chaperon table as we were watching them fill up with kids. Then we found out 25 kids had signed up at the last minute. There was enough seating...for them.
prom jellyfish
Hubby remembered there were tables and chairs up by the shark tank, so the two of us ate up there. It was nice. Low lighting, music piped in, and deadly critters slowly scrolling by.

The students had a good giggle at our choice and one commented about Hubby getting points for a romantic meal without having to spend money.

(um, that's a glowing jellyfish and the picture looked really cool until I put it on the blog. I should have gone with the shark.)

Another display is a column tank filled with jellyfish. As that is a fairly dark room, we strolled through it regularly to prevent any hanky-panky. We also amused the students by chasing each other around the tank, a stunt we could get away with because Hubby is known as a bit of a goofball (heck, he MCs the homecoming pep rally every year!).

The food was rather tasty, and no it wasn't seafood.
There was salad and rolls, chicken, baked ziti, mashed potatoes and steamed green beans. Dessert was a variety of mini eclairs, brownies, little cookies, etc.
Sadly, no coffee or tea, but I suppose prom age people wouldn't be looking for those drinks.

Homeward prom stingray
(That is a stingray in the touch tank. I snuck into that display before the kids arrived. I also snuck through the frog display.)

Let's see, the kids stayed until around 10:30. Oh, the favor this year was a school beach towel and a bag of candy. It looked like they were all claimed.

But the best part was the chaperons didn't have to break down the decorations! Once the last student was gone we were out the door. In previous years, we had to strip the centerpieces and such, but apparently the aquarium took care of all that.

And then I passed out on the half-hour car ride home.

Hubby says I'm a lightweight, but I swear I only had two Shirley Temples!

Monday, May 18, 2009

More Beads! More Beads!

stitch markers 2 But first, I finished knitting the Harf!
Now I just have to weave in the ends, decide about fringe, and find a way to block the thing.
Pictures to come.

Second, I received an e-mail over the weekend from the publicity rep at a publishing company saying they liked my recent article in Yarn Market News and would I like to receive copies of their knitting titles to review on my blog!
How cool is that?
And I said, "Hell yes, I want to review knitting books!"
Well, actually, I responded in a very positive, but professional matter to their proposal.
Conveniently, there is a big publishing show in New York City next Friday that Boss Man and I were going to attend anyway, so I arranged to stop by their booth. hehehe!

So, the Beads
You see, above, the results of my labor.
If you find yourself entranced by all the pretty, shiny things and decide to make your own homemade stitch markers, I urge you to save yourself the time, energy, and aggravation and just buy some of the ones other people make.
Ok, seriously, I urge you to get a lesson or find someone to show you how. Makes life tons easier.
I met the teacher at the store on Thursday and in no time at all she had me on the right track.
She said I didn't really need crimping tubes for stitch markers (which is good because mine are the wrong size for my new, thicker wire) and showed me how to wrap the wire instead.
She also said I might want to consider 24 gauge wire instead of the 20 gauge I've got, so I'm glad I bought a small coil this time.

Starting at the bottom of the picture, this row is on a US8 and is mainly the beads from my cousin's wedding, which started this whole adventure.
The last one in the row, with the leaf, is the one I managed to make earlier in the week. The teacher said it was a bit big and heavy, but it I had the right idea.

The middle row is on a US7, as you can see, they are smaller, and she showed me the correct way to get the leaf on there.

The top row is on a US2. Little bitty markers. I tend to use US2 and US1 for my sock knitting, so these will come in handy.

In addition to showing me how to wrap the wire around itself, she showed me how to make the loop either around a pair of pliers or a knitting needle. At the time, I was entranced by her beading specific tools and was convinced I needed to get a set.
But after I was driving home, I recovered from the effects of the shiny stuff and think I'll wait and see what happens before investing more money in this activity.

However, I'm still obsessed with the idea of getting Tiger's Eye to go with my Honey Pot yarn. The fancy bead store is somewhere in the town I work in, so should be an easy jaunt, but I should wait until I'm closer to working on that project. And I should take the yarn with me. I never remember colors properly.

Doe, a Deer
Back yardThere was a deer in the backyard on Friday morning!
This is only the third deer sighting in the five years we've been in the house.
Hubby saw it out the upstairs window and called down to me.
I didn't see it out the back door, so I moved over the the sliding doors near the Franklin stove, and there is was by the bilco doors to the basement. (Which is what this strange picture is supposed to be illustrating.)
Our eyes met.
I could tell the deer was thinking, "Oh no!" because it froze and its ears twitched.
I quickly retreated, so as not to scare it or bring it to the puppies' attention.
I ran upstairs to get the camera, but the batteries were charging for the prom that night, so by the time I got back downstairs the deer was gone.
Hubby was tracking it through the house and saw it jump over the fence near the dogwood tree.
Then we were worried it would get hit in the road, so I ran to the front door and saw it get safely to the other side.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Still Life with Migraine

I can not even tell you how sick and tired I am of losing portions of my life to these damn headaches!

Got another one last night, came on late in the afternoon—that old, piecing pain that makes me think my eye is going to explode.

It wasn't too bad, so I went home and took a nap, hoping it was eyestrain and if I just relaxed a bit it would dissipate.

No such luck.

I barely made it through dinner and was back in bed by 9 pm.

Physical Evidence Would Be Nice

I wish my eyes would start bleeding, or there would be some outside, physical manifestation of my pain.

Think about it, when you have a cold, you're all sniffley and coughing and people are like "You poor thing, you look miserable."

With a migraine, they just have to take your word for it that there is an icepick sticking out of your skull.

Although, I must get pale or something.

When they come on at work, I notice my coworkers start giving me a wide berth and then Boss Man will suddenly appear and suggest I go home.

There has also been many occasions when Hubby takes one look at me upon my arrival home and he just tucks me right into bed.

I get the sensitivity to light, so I suspect I'm walking around with my eyes half closed and that tips them off there is a problem.

I also get the sensitivity to smell, which isn't as common but is an actual symptom. Cigarette smoke, especially, will make me flee. Luckily, if there is anything lucky about the situation, I don't get the sensitivity to sound.

I could almost handle the pain behind my eye and in my head, although it does destroy my will to live, it's the nausea that I really can't stand.

Not a Solution
A few months ago, during a migraine, I asked Hubby to smother me and put me out of my misery.

I figured smothering would still leave me cute for the funeral.

He said OK, but has, obviously, not followed through.

Of course, at the time, I was dying in the bedroom and he was working in the office down the hall, so I'm not sure he was actually paying attention to me.

Considering he still hasn't replaced the two tiles in my bathroom that Baru ate when he was a puppy, you can see how quickly Hubby acts on the To Do lists I give him.

sigh. I get no support.

However, it's apparent that all this touchy-feely acupuncture and herbal supplement stuff I've been doing it's having the desired affect either.

And it's not just that I'm tired of getting migraines. I feel like I've been getting them more frequently, although they have been less severe and don't last as long as in recent years, and now
I'm worried about getting one while we're in France!

Me puking in the passenger seat would totally ruin our trip!

Tough Self-Love
I'm feeling better today, at least over the past year they've gone back to being brief, but I'm always on my guard the day after.

As soon as Hubby came down to breakfast today, I pounced on him.

I declared that since my current solutions aren't working, it was time I admitted I had to look at lifestyle changes: diet and exercise, more sleep, and reducing stress.

Since he has some minor ailments of his own, he agreed that we aren't getting any younger and should start taking better care of ourselves.

We decided that instead of going on a diet to lose weight, we have to approach food from a medicine state of mind as part of improving our overall well being, and if we happen to lose weight, so much the better.

Of course, I also have to do things like getting the house cleaned up and in order, because a peaceful house equals a less stressful house. For instance, getting caught up on the laundry will eliminate my guilt about having two loads to fold and that will result in less stress.

You catch my drift.

But, That Means Work!
Unfortunately, this means I'm going to have to stop being a slacker. And it might cut into my knitting time in the evenings.

I'm not happy about that prospect, but then laying in bed with a migraine also cuts into my knitting time. So I can't win either way.

On the other hand, I've heard these rumors that once you get your house in order, and just have to maintain it, cleaning doesn't take as long.

I figure, I'm going to have to approach it as though I was back on the train and aim for leaving the house around 7 am.

To do that, I'll have to be organized at night and get my chores done, lunch packed, etc., which well allow me to leave the house earlier, which will get me to work earlier, which will allow me to leave earlier (and miss the bad traffic), which will give me more time at home in the evening to accomplish stuff!

This is not an easy path I have chosen. But there's that stupid saying about anything worth having is worth working for, so who am I to argue?

Knitting?! Have you been listening?
I managed maybe two rows on the Harf last night.

And even then, I had to pick out half a row because I forgot to work the decreases. I think that is when I stopped trying.

Soon, it will be done. One stitch, one row at a time, but it will be done.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Still Knitting the Harf

harf leftI have been working on it quietly in the background.
I suppose I should get a picture of it.
Since I don't have a current picture of it, I am using this old picture so you remember what it looks like.
A current picture will either be a picture of it as a blob on the table, or a funky picture of me with it on so you can see how long the scarf bits are.
Which is over 20 inches from where the ribbing ends and the rev st st beings.
The exciting thing is, I'm down to my last 33 odd grams of working yarn.
Which is actually about 15 grams on each end, since I'm working on both scarf bits at once.
Really, I should get a picture of that set up for you.
I had done some very rough estimates, based on how many cable panel repeats I got when I was using both ends of the third ball to work the scarf bits, and decided that the leftovers from the balls I used to work the hood bits should get me three more panel repeats on each end.
Yeah, I know, lost myself there too.
Geez, I should do something about that, my boss reads my blog sometimes—must keep up the illusion I can write coherent sentences.
Ok, when that third ball ran out I thought I had enough yarn for three more panel repeats.
I haven't actually counted to see if that is true, i.e. how far they gone so far.
I'm almost halfway through my current panel repeat, and I'm starting to get nervous.
If I don't make it all the way, I'm going to have to rip out this repeat and have a ton of fringe!

In Bead News
I totally didn't give you enough details yesterday about my last venture into the bead section.
Of course, the goal was a thicker wire.
I returned to the aisle where I had bought the too thin wire, but didn't see anything appropriate. I was rather disheartened, when I saw the side wall of the store and discovered what you all knew was lurking there, waiting to trap me...
A whole other section of beads!
And much fancier/nicer beads than in the first aisle, along with tons of findings, all sorts of wire!
Well, you can imagine what happened when I discovered all that shiny stuff.
Despite my resolve to just get the new wire and get out of there...
I bought some 20 gauge wire in red, since I figured if this will be my one time doing this I might as well go flashy.
Some fancy headpins as I have a vague understanding these can be used and I'd only have to bend one end.
And a wonderful, precious box of 200 hematite beads.
Hematite beads are what I was actually after the last time, when I spent all that time dithering over the strung beads.
I should take another picture of the four stitch markers I made so you can see all this stuff.
I did e-mail the teacher and she said she has time Thursday (tomorrow), but we have to nail down a time now.
Of course, now that I found the lovely hematite beads, I'm starting to wonder what else I can do peacock footwith them.
Will they go with my neglected Peacock Socks?
Hmm, no the yarn is too blue and green.
But wondering about those beads, made me think of other beads.
I have a little packet of pink pearls and clear crystals that might match the Seashell Merino Dream sock yarn, but there probably aren't enough of them to use effectively.
And maybe I should get some tiger's eye beads to go with the Honey Pot Cat's Pajama's yarn I want to make into a shawl. Would I be able to find an appropriate size?
Maybe I should reel myself in and focus on getting the Harf and the Damn Doilies done before I go running off spending money I don't have on beads I don't need.
But I can totally understand what you guys meant now.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Back to the Beads

stitch markers Wow, that's a really bad picture, you can't see any details at all.
You tried to warn me.
Provided you can consider pointing and lauging at me for "falling down the beading rabbit hole" a warning.
I should have listened, and you can take comfort in the fact that you were right.
Hubby sent me grocery shopping by myself on Monday. Being unattended, I ran off to Michael's to buy new wire.
Oh, I did tell you that the 32 gauge wire I bought before was less than useless, right? Yeah, it snapped while I was trying to make my first marker.
At the time, I called in the troops and e-mailed the teacher who does a knit-beaded bracelet class at the store and asked for advice.
She said I should get 16, 18 or 20 gauge wire, then listed a dizzying array of tools it would be handy to have, and ended with a generous invitation to come over for a quick lesson.
But I did not take her up on it, as I'm actually a little shy (no, really, I am), and thought I could figure it out.
However, I've now spent like $20 on materials and I apparently keep buying the wrong stuff.
I'm rather annoyed. In fact, I just paused to send her an e-mail and see whether her offer still stands.

The Way It Should Be Wisteria
And, in case you are wondering, I did not get in trouble for wandering the countryside after work this time.
Because I was not bringing dinner home with me. ha!
In fact, when I got home, he was in the process of heating up our leftovers for dinner, the pups were eating their dinners, and the kitchen was clean.
AND he instantly started putting things away as I brought the bags in.
Yep, kinda handy to have around.

Stupid Plant
wisteria close I noticed yesterday that the wisteria vine on the trestle leading into backyard is finally blooming.
This is only the second time in the five years we've been in the house. The previous owners planted it and the first year it was just a strange, unidentifiable stick.
However, the blasted thing is only blooming at the top of its canopy, where I can't reach, smell or really see the flowers.
The left photo is zoomed in.
I'm sure it is doing this to taunt me.
Especially considering I see ones on the side of the highway which are as big as my house because they've gone invasive and engulfed an entire tree.
Part of the problem is probably that we don't know how to trim it properly.
But I reserve the right to be ticked off about the situation.
Oh, and my lilac bush isn't blooming yet either.

Gratuitous Puppy Pics
baru pantingYesterday was Baru's birthday, by the way.
He is four now.
He would like you to know that gifts of Milkbones and jerky for dogs will be warmly received at any time.
Samson would like to point out that his birthday is coming up on May 27 and he believes you can never own enough tennis balls.
When I was at the store yesterday I bought them each a smoked tendon jerky thing.
Puppies don't understand the concept of only the birthday boy getting a present.
samson pantingSamson started rooting through the grocery bags and seemed to realize those were for them. He was getting himself all worked up waiting for Hubby to hand them over, it was terribly amusing.
Here they are, both tired after our rousing game of morning fetch. I was taking the picture of the stitch markers and Baru came and sat down right in front of me. I can only imagine he wanted his picture taken, so I obliged.
I worked a few rows on the Harf last night, but most of my evening was dedicated to fighting with the beads.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Stupid, Embarrassing Car

Boy, howdy, did I have an adventure on Friday!
The sedan broke down on the highway, in rush hour traffic, while I was driving home.

Setting the Stage
My commute is along the Merritt Parkway, which is a two lane, scenic highway crossing Connecticut. As a major commute route, it usually gets clogged up with bumper-to-bumper traffic crawling along at 20 miles-per-hour, so a trip that would take half an hour mid-day or on the weekend can take upwards of one hour during rush hour.
Since I have to slog through 20 miles of this, my usual plan of attack is to hunker down in the fast lane to avoid having to deal with people merging on an off.
This is what I was doing Friday when something suddenly felt wrong with the car.
I killed the radio and couldn't hear anything.
Just as I was realizing the gas pedal was having no affect, it occurred to me the service engine and battery lights were on.
Oh, Frak.
Fortunately, I had enough momentum to cost up onto the nice, wide, grassy shoulder next to me.
It did not occur to me to make my way over to the right hand shoulder since I didn't know how long I would continue coasting, and I figured I would just restart the car and be on my merry way.

Not So Fast
Only the car didn't restart.
Dammit Janet.
Then it didn't start again.
So I called Hubby.
I can't tell you what I expected him to do from home, but it was my first instinct so I went with it.
"Did you run out of gas?"
I replied, "Nooo," is a snotty voice, but I was thinking Dude, in the eight years we've been married have I ever been stranded by running out of gas?!
As I was already digging through my purse and the glove compartment looking for the roadside assistance number, I was surprised to learn Hubby didn't know that was part of our car insurance.
Apparently we need to have a meeting to discuss some business matters in this marriage of ours. Of course, he would have called me hissing and spitting if he was the one to break down, and I would have told him where to find the roadside number so it would have all worked out.

Hello, Officer
I had a heart stopping moment when the lady at the insurance company said she didn't see roadside on my policy, but she transferred me to another department and that guy didn't bat and eye.
By the time I had given him my info and called Hubby back, I was out of the car because it was getting hot.
Then a state trooper magically appeared behind me.
I gave them a very abbreviated version of everything I just shared with you. Then roadside called back and said 30 minutes.
The Troopers said they weren't really supposed to leave me on the median, but I was totally up on the shoulder, and traffic wasn't too bad, so they would check on me in half an hour and if my tow truck wasn't there they'd move me.
I called Hubby, again.
Then one of the State's massive orange distressed motorist trucks showed up.
The Troopers walked back over and said "Since this guy is here anyway, we'll go ahead and move you to the other shoulder."
Excuse me?
I put the car in neutral, and as the massive orange truck blocked the highway and stopped traffic, they eased their patrol car up behind me and nudged me with their rubber bumpers that are just for occasions like this.
This gave me enough momentum to coast across the two lanes and onto the shoulder.
I was mortified!
Then the Troopers came over and said, "Ok, you'll be safe here, we feel better now. Have a nice day."
Yeah, everyone kept asking me "How's it going?" and telling me to "Have a nice day." Dudes, my car is broken down on the highway during rush hour. How do you think it's going?

Traitorous Piece of Machinery
Left to my own devices, I called Hubby—again—then did what you would expect.
I took a deep breath, got out my knitting (Cotton Ribbed Sock for the win!) and thought, "Well, at least the weather is nice. And won't I have a good story for the blog."
Happily, the tow truck showed up when it was supposed to.
The driver looked like a hippy with a yellow bandanna and neatly braided hair, which was longer than mine. Hubby said the guy reminded him of Chong, from Cheech and Chong.
Anyway, we were at the dealership in a flash where Hubby was waiting for us, since I had called him—again—when the tow truck arrived so he could time his arrival.
The Driver was all "Have a nice day," but then doubled back to get the car's mileage.
Hubby engaged the ignition and I could see the gears turning in his brain.
As soon as the Driver was back in his truck, Hubby started the car.
Gasp! "Holy Smokes! I swear it wouldn't start for me."
"You know what a nervous bunny I am! Would I have put myself through this for nothing?!"
That's true.
But he went inside and retrieved the key and the work order in an effort to avoid the $94 diagnostic fee. (The service department was closed when I arrived.)

$300 Later
Since the car was due for a tire rotation and oil change anyway, Hubby went back on Saturday morning and was said he didn't want to pay the fee since the problem would probably turn up during the tune up.
The guy agreed.
Turns out something was leaking which was setting off some sensor that control the oil flow, which is what caused the engine to stall. It cooled down after sitting for 30 mins, which is why Hubby was able to start it.
So we're all repaired now.
We agreed that it could have been much worse: I could have stalled flat and been rear-ened. It could have been raining, or at night, or further from home, or during the week when we need both cars. And the repairs could have cost more.
But, still, it was a lousy way to start the weekend!

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Rare Occurrence

Bad wolf templateI embroidered the design on my little felted bag last night.
Nothing much, just some lettering.
You will, perhaps, not be surprised to hear that embroidery and needle point are skills I never picked up.
Oh, don't get me wrong, I admire the finished products, but I can't see myself having the patience to learn, improve my abilities, and finally finish a project.
In fact, the one piece of needle point I have in my house (a picture of Pooh and Piglet) I acquired by somehow conning a friend into doing for me.

Dumbing It Down
Knowing the activity I was embarking upon isn't a strong suit, I tried to make it as easy on myself as possible.
I used photoshop to design and print a little template for myself.
My brilliant idea was to just trace the letters.
My plan took an immediate turn for the worse as I didn't make a frame properly, so only the words printed and I had to wing cutting out the square.
BW start But I persevered.
I cut some of the excess paper off and pinned it to my bag.
Which is what you see in the top photo.
By the way, "Bad Wolf" is a reference to the Dr. Who TV show in its current incarnation from a couple seasons ago. If you don't understand, it would take too long to explain. (But that is also how long I've had the idea for this little bag!)
In the second picture you can see my amateurish (childish?) stitching in progress. It's a bit hard to tell with the purple yarn over the black ink, but you get the idea.
After all the stitching was done, I ripped the paper out.

Done Done!
Bad Wolf BagBefore the bag was worked and felted and almost done.
Now it is done done.
Removing the paper was another slight flaw in my cunning plan.
The paper was much sturdier than I was expecting. The yarn on the front got tugged up a bit and I had to pull the strands inside to tighten things up.
If you think the front looks bad, you should see the mess on the inside!
But it's not like I'm going to be putting small, loose things in this that will hook the floats, so I'm not worried about it.
It worked up rather quickly. I think the longest part was waiting for it to dry after felting it. I probably would have finished it sooner, if I hadn't lost Wednesday night to a stupid migraine.
Well, that my little adventure making my cute little bag. I'm rather pleased with it.
I also think a slightly larger one with a strap might make a nice little summer bag.
But I have too many other projects on the go to worry about that at the moment.
Speaking of other projects, after finishing the bag, I was about to work, oh, four rows on the Harf before it was bedtime.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Felted Necessities Bag

Necessities bag 1 One of these days one of these damn migraines is going to finally kill me and then I won't have to worry about them any more. In case you've been wondering where I've been.
Are you a boy? Then I should warn you it is all girl all the time today, and you might just want to move along.
So, as a girl I tent to carry certain products around in with me since I never know when I or a friend will be caught unawares.
I keep them in the front zippered pocket of my purse, which is also the pocket I keep my keys in.
So they get beaten to hell, the little pink wrappers come off, and everything come flying out at inopportune times when I pull my cell phone ear piece out.
I've been thinking for a while that I should make myself a little pouch to keep them contained (heaven forbid I just buy something and get it over with. After all I can make something so buying something wouldn't be sensible!).
On Monday I finally snapped and sat down to work on it. I finished up on Tuesday night.
If I'd been following a pattern, I probably could have finished the crocheting in one sitting, because I wouldn't have been fussing with stitch count and such.
If Hubby noticed, or was concerned about, the little stack of feminine products I had on the coffee table to check the size, he didn't say anything.

Crochet, you say?
NB MasherI used Cascade 220 which was left over from the bouquet of Pick Up Sticks Felted Flowers I made my mom, um, two years ago.
The orange was the center of the daffodils and the purple was from the iris.
Why, yes, that is the orange yarn I used to make the Harf prototype. I am beyond needed the prototype at this point.
You can't really see it, but in addition to the purple button, I used the purple to whip stitch the sides closed. Apparently I should have been a little more flamboyant.
Although I've heard that crochet stitches are harder to felt, I went with it anyway because I crochet faster than I knit.
I felted it because I want to embroider a little design on the back and I thought the felted fabric would be more stable.
The design would be probably be done by now if I hadn't spent last night laying in bed wishing for death.
Oh well, at least I'll get another blog post out of it.
Fortunately, this project was small and quick enough that it didn't bother my writs too much.
Although the felting made my hands hurt a bit.

Felting by Hand
Since the bag is so small (about 5 x 6 inches pre-felting) and it was alone, I wasn't going to waste all the water and energy involved in felting it in the washing machine.
(I also won't be making that mistake again! I'll stick with either big felting projects, or multiple felting projects in the future so the machine can do all the work.)
I used just boiling water from the tea kettle, but didn't use any soap.
Basically I forgot the soap. But I don't felt much, so I'm not clear on what the soap contributes to the process. Still, I manged without it.
I started the process using our old fashioned potato masher and just bashed the heck out of the thing.

NB spoonsI didn't seem to be making much progress, so I got out two wooden spoons and started squishing it up, rubbing it, and raking it along the potato masher. I also added more hot water.
I was starting to see some progress. But I couldn't tell you if that is because the spoons were more effective or because I had just reached the tipping point where felting was occurring.
I can tell you gripping the spoon handles made my hands cramp.
At some point, Hubby passed through, saw all the implements of destruction out, and the water splashing everywhere and casually asked, "What are you doing out here?"
"Felting my little bag," I responded, as though it was the most normal thing in the world.
And he said, "Oh." Because it was all explained.
He also pointed out, which I hadn't noticed since I was so focused on destruction, that the dogs were swarming around behind me as though I had food.
So I looked down, and there they were—expectant.
So, as you would expect, I held the wet, stinky little bag down to them. They gleefully snuffled it all over and I think one of them might have licked it.
They do love yarn almost as much as I do.

Getting the Gloves On
Since my hands were cramping, and it didn't seem felted enough, I pulled out these blue vinyl dish washing gloves we own. They are pretty thick and protect my hands from hot water pretty well.
I dumped the water I had, added fresh, and started rubbing and twisting the thing by hand.
NB feltedThis was good because I was able to really focus on certain areas.
I was concerned that it wasn't going to felt evenly when I was using the masher and the spoons. Doing it by hand allowed me to target spots that seemed to be behind.
In the end, it seemed to work out fine.
I did notice the final product seems a little trapezoid shaped. I think this is because I started focusing on where the flap folds in an attempt to make sure the fabric is firm and stable.
Also, the bottom is really double thick so that might have kept it from felting as much as the top.
Oh well, it still does the trick.
Now I just have to sew on the button and do the embroidery.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Harf? What Harf?

Samson loveseatLook at my cute doggy!
Do you see where Samson is sitting?
On the loveseat.
In MY spot.
I ran to the store and when I got back he peaked over the back of the couch at me and wagged his tail as if to say, "Look how cute and comfortable I am. Are you really going to move me?"
And, of course, I didn't. I moved the green blanket instead.
Perhaps this is why he thinks he out ranks me in the pack?
Did that distract you? No? You want knitting content?

New Socks!
Eyelet and Feather
As you noticed in a post last week, the Cat's Pajamas Socks (now elegantly renamed Eyelet & Feather Socks) have been unleashed on the knitting public.
I have seven favorites so far on Ravelry and one queued (but no purchases yet, sigh).
Last week's knitting time was focused on making a sample sock for the store since I don't want to split up my original pair, as happened to my poor Rainbow Swirl Socks.
I believe I mentioned recently that I had 40 grams of Cat's Pajamas Yarn left over from the original pair? I'm not sure how much yarn the original pair took because despite my little bout of weighing all my socks and scraps I don't seem to have weighed these. However, I made a third sock just fine.
Maybe that is a reason I like Lucy Neatby's yarn, I can get a pair and a spare out of it!
In case you don't remember why the Rainbow Swirls are scattered to the four corners of the country: one original is in the dining room credenza, its mate is at the store as a sample of our Sock Club patterns, and the spare is down south for its star turn in that new sock book coming out this year.

Cubes and Cables Anklets
Then last night around 10 pm EDT, I unleashed the Cubes and Cables Anklets on the world.
I designed these socks for the February installment of the store's Sock Club.
These seem to have hit a nerve on Ravelry. So far I have 39 favorites and 10 queues, but again no purchases. Whaaa! Is $5 not a reasonable price? pout.
Oh well, at least I'm not trying to making a living at this pattern publishing business. I'm just looking to support my yarn habit and have some extra spending money.

Yes, yes, the Heart Harf
Samson squishAfter I finished the spare Eyelet and Feather Sock last week I returned my attention to the Harf.
The break was good as I was starting to get fatigued with it and was able to return energized. (What is re-energized not a real word? Is it just redundant?)
Last time I checked, which was a few rows ago, the scarf bits measured 21 inches long from the point where the ribbing of the scarf changes to the reverse stockinette stitch of the hood.
When I have it on this reaches just below my belt.
I still have 100 grams of yarn left to knit. This is what is left of the current ball I'm using as well as what is left over from the first two balls I used to knit the hood bit.
I think it will come out a rather pleasant/adequate length.
I'm vaguely debating fringe. But it will depend on where the pattern breaks when I run out of yarn.
If I run out at the end of a full panel repeat, I'll probably skip fringe. But if I'm going to run out mid panel I'll probably tink back to the last full panel and then use the left over yarn as fringe to use it up and avoid waste.
It's all very exciting this plunge into the unknown!
Ok, I'm exaggerating.

Crochet Mischief
However, I did not work on the Harf last night.
I've had a small project knocking around my brain for a while now that I've finally decided to act on. (on which I've finally decided to act?)
But I'll tell you more about that tomorrow when I should have pictures and will hopefully be done.

Monday, May 4, 2009

New Pattern: Cubes and Cables Anklets

Cubes & Cables Anklet heel Hey, Sock Knitter!

Are you fatigued by heel flaps?

Sick of short rows?

Then the attractive and unique Cuban Heel is for you!

The heel increases are worked in continuous rounds with the instep, eliminating the need to pick up and decrease gusset stitches.

The Cubes and Cables Anklets pattern provides stitch counts at crucial points in the construction so you can be sure you are on the right track. However, some experience in turning a heel is assumed as only the first four rows of the procedure are spelled out.

Featuring an attractive mock cable rib pattern, the sock will comfortable fit a range of feetCubes & Cables Anklet ranging from 7 inches to 9 inches in circumferences. Since it is a "mock" cable, you get all the beauty of a cable, without the fuss of using an extra needle.

The sample is shown in Sheepfeet yarn from Sheep Shop Yarn Company in the Lime colorway.
This yarn comes in 218 yard skeins, so the pattern specifies a 3 inch leg. To make a taller leg, an additional skein should be purchased. Any yarn which can achieve a stockinette stitch gauge of 6 sts/inch on a US3 and 6.5 sts/inch on a US2 should suffice.

Don't allow yourself to be boxed in by traditional heel flaps any longer! This pattern will guide you in learning this fun, new technique.

Friday, May 1, 2009

You Won't Believe It!

Sundae frontI finally finished Sundae!!
I even wove in all the ends!
But I haven't blocked it, which you can probably tell.
Course, I'm not big on the blocking business, but I think it would help the trim lay a little better.

To Recap
Sundae out of Rowan Classic Holiday Book 3.
The pattern calls for four skeins of Cashsoft 4ply, but I used three skeins of Cashcotton 4ply.
I got gauge on a US1 needle (!) as opposed to the US2 called for in the pattern.
And I made the XS size for a 32 inch bust, which gives me about an inch of ease, maybe none with a bra on.
And trust me, Hubby wouldn't let me out of the house without a bra on. Which is probably a good thing.

A Long Time Coming
According to my Ravelry project page, I started this on August 8, 2008, as part of the Ravelympics.
Ha!sundae back
I seem to remember whipping through it rather well, but the trim killed me. Both making it and sewing it on.
Can you say tedious?
Well, I knew I've been awfully close to being done for an awfully long time now, and I'm sick of things hanging over my head incomplete, so I sat down after work and did it.
I had the extra motivation of wanting the US1 Brittanies out of it.
Those ones I glued back together? Well the recently snapped one was a clean, straight break and it popped apart again when I held it as my left hand needle (it worked ok as the right hand needle). So I tossed it.
The other one, which was broken longer ago, actually split at an angle and seems to be holding up, but I'm not putting much faith in it.

Am I On a Roll?
Now I'm even thinking about finishing Nell!
Aside from the fact that it's 10 at night and almost bed time.