Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas, San Diego Style!

Last week we went out on a friend's boat to enjoy San Diego's annual Boat Parade of Lights. It is a uniquely coastal holiday experience, and I thought you all might enjoy it. Happy Holidays!





Monday, December 20, 2010

Stuff I've Learned Lately

1. "Christmas vacation" means something different to kids who are out of school than it does to parents who are working. (I actually already knew this; I just manage to forget it every year until I am once again forcefully reminded.)

2. The parent who works at home totally gets the short end of the stick when the kids are out of school. Fortunately, that's not me this year.

3. A 13-year-old boy has a very loose understanding of what constitutes adequate vacuuming.

4. My dogs don't like to go outside to pee when it's raining.

5. Dog pee smells really, really bad if you don't notice it for a couple of days.

6. Waiting until Christmas week to do the Christmas shopping is probably not a good idea.

7. Amazon Prime is worth the price.

8. Credit cards can actually smoke if you use them too much. (This isn't true, but certainly seems like it should be.)

9. Judges make mistakes.

10. Pointing out the judge's mistake may not lead to the result you are hoping for.

11. Even good bosses are not always right, but you don't necessarily want to point out their errors, either.

12. Not getting paid for your work does not make you any less responsible for doing a good job, numbers 9, 10, and 11 notwithstanding.

13. It is entirely possible to work full time and still run a home. All you have to do is warp the space-time continuum. (I'll let you know when I get that figured out.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Joy of Christmas

Or, as I think of it, the month of scattered pine needles. Pine needles on the floor, pine needles stuck to your socks, pine needles in the curtains, pine needles in the dogs' fur. I know I'm not the only one who hasn't finished cleaning up the pine needles from last year's tree. It's probably a good thing, really, since if it weren't for having to move the furniture around to accommodate the tree, that corner with the oversized chair would never get vacuumed.

Every year, we get our Christmas tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving weekend. I suppose you could call it a tradition. In our case, I think it's just because the only way we can keep track of all the holidays we celebrate is by keeping to a pretty strict schedule. My mom was raised Catholic; my dad was raised Muslim; my husband was raised Jewish. When people ask how I'm raising my kids, I tell them "Tolerant." But despite my best intentions, the holidays get a little complicated. One day a few years ago, we went to a party celebrating my cousin's return from the Haj, came home and lit the Hanukkah candles, and then went to a Christmas party. My kids used to confuse Moses with Santa Claus. And I once overheard Older Son explaining to Younger Son that we light the Hanukkah candles so that Santa can see the stockings when he comes down the chimney.

This year, I totally got slammed by Hanukkah coming much earlier than usual. I keep the Menorah with the Christmas decorations and pull it out the Sunday after Thanksgiving weekend, which is our traditional Day of Decorating. This year, though, Hanukkah struck the Wednesday after Thanksgiving, four days before the Day of Decorating. I realized this on Wednesday evening, right after I got home from working all day, and after the sun had gone down. I managed to locate some leftover Hanukkah candles in the laundry room cabinet, under the hot glue gun and the old pantyhose, but the Menorah was somewhere in a box in the attic, and I wasn't about to brave that place in the dark. I melted some candles to a saucer and used that for our Menorah. What it lacked in sophistication, it made up for in...nothing. There was nothing redeeming about it. But at least we had candles.

Today was the traditional Day of Decorating. Last night, the KH and I got the tree up (I wonder how many marriages break up over that?) and hauled all the boxes of decorations out of the attic. We piled them in the living room, and this morning, I awoke to the sound of Younger Son asking plaintively if I was ready to start decorating yet? He's been asking in much the same tone for a week, so I'm getting used to it.

I wasn't ready, naturally, especially since the KH was gone for the day, leaving me to wrangle The Champions of Sibling Rivalry by myself, but a cup of coffee and some oatmeal made it seem at least possible. I opened all the ornament boxes, sorted the ornaments, and then remembered that I bought all new, dog-friendly ornaments last year. They were nowhere to be found. I completely unpacked every box. No ornaments. Finally it occurred to me that they might not have made it out of the attic. I strapped on a headlamp and went in, carefully avoiding the exposed nails, loose fiberglass insulation, and anywhere that looked like it might house spiders. After some rummaging, I found the missing box right near the entry, under the baby jail we used to contain the puppies. I reflected on how smart it was of me to pack all the ornaments I wanted in a single box near the entry to the attic last year so that I wouldn't have to haul out all the boxes again this year--while I was repacking all the boxes and dragging them back upstairs to return to the attic.

With Younger Son's help, I tackled the tree lights. I got the first strand on without too much trouble--if you understand that this means no more trouble than one would expect to have crawling around and around a spiny tree shoved up against a wall with furniture all around it and a lamp that has to be straddled cautiously with each trip around. Younger Son handed me the second strand and I began my journey again. Around and around and around. It wasn't until the end of the second strand that I realized it was the wrong one. So back I went again, around and around and around. And then back the other way for two more strands. Then we plugged them in. Since only half the bulbs were burned out, I called it good and moved on to the ornaments.

I called in the kids, who immediately began fighting over who got to hang which ornaments and who got the prime spots on the front of the tree and whose ornament was where first and who always gets the best of everything and how much better life would be if they were both only children. I cranked up the Christmas carols and pretended they were noisy elves. After about ten minutes, they both lost interest and disappeared, leaving me in relative peace, until I heard Older Son asking me if there was a faster way to thaw bacon.

Bacon? I didn't recall giving permission to cook bacon. In fact, I wasn't even aware we had bacon in the house. I am not a bacon fan. I don't like the smell, and I hate the grease that gets all over everything. I am absolutely certain that, even wacked out on morphine--which, sadly, I was not--I would never have given The Walking Disaster permission to actually cook bacon in my kitchen. And yet, it was undeniable that he was asking how to thaw bacon faster, and I suspected the question was not merely for personal interest. Also, I was wondering how he was trying to thaw bacon that it wasn't fast enough.

I headed for the kitchen to find him carrying a drippy handful of half-frozen bacon, that he had just removed from a large bowl full of water, across my freshly mopped kitchen floor. I screamed. He jumped. The greasy water splattered everywhere. I caught him before he dropped the wet bacon into the hot pan on the stove, but not before the dogs discovered the rare treat that is bacon grease on the kitchen floor and flung themselves upon it gleefully. By the time I had it sorted out, Older Son was banished to the garage, the dogs were banished to the laundry room, and I was frying wet, splattering, half thawed bacon with my feet sticking to the kitchen floor and every window in the house wide open.

Eventually I made it back to the decorating. I had almost finished the tree when the sound of frantic squawking came in through the window. I ran out to the chicken yard, thinking the gate was open and one of the dogs was harassing the chickens, only to find that one of the girls was missing, and the noise was coming from the neighbors' yard. I ran back through the house to the front yard and down to the neighbors' house. I was about to ring their doorbell when I heard screaming from the backyard, so I ran in the back gate to discover Mimi the chicken floating in the pool while Max the dog barked at her from the edge and Heidi the neighbor tried to reach her with the pool pole. Mimi was the picture of calm amid the chaos, sitting in the water like a duck, not even paddling and making no noise at all. In fact, she looked a little smug, having defeated the Great Canine Menace, who is afraid of the water.
Heidi the neighbor successfully fished her out of the pool and I returned the perfectly happy, albeit sopping wet, chicken to her yard and finished the decorating.

I can hardly wait to see what the rest of the season brings. Thank God I'm working tomorrow.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

Treading Like Crazy

Things are going about as you would expect when one parent who has always been at home goes back to work in an office, leaving the other parent, now at home full time but also still working full time, to contend with all the various and sundry household and family chores that necessarily arise as a result of kids and pets and chickens and laundry and shopping and cooking and other chores.

That is to say, not perfectly.

So far, though, we are keeping our heads above water by treading frantically. Things are a bit messier and less organized than I would like, but I'm learning to let it slide. I don't think the dust buffaloes are actually dangerous, after all.

The four-day weekend was a help. I did a truly enormous amount of laundry, vacuumed the house, watered the plants, did the grocery shopping, and lavishly petted several seriously disgruntled dogs. We hosted Thanksgiving, which involved a whole lot more shopping and cooking and cleaning. I am proud to say that, three days later, I finally finished the last of the dishes. The boys had a sleepover here Friday night. I woke up to the Great Nerf Gun Battle of 2010, Older Son broke my favorite vase (a wedding present), and Heidi peed in three different spots, yet they all survived, so again--proud of myself. And a dear old friend of mine came to visit on Saturday and showed off her baby bump--a huge deal, since she and her husband (in their 40s and 50s, respectively) have been trying for quite a while and have been through two miscarriages in the past two years. Saturday night is Date Night, so the KH and I went out for Afghan food, sans children--who have been home for nine straight days. That was great on many levels.

I felt so inspired by all this that I put a double batch of sourdough batter out to rise last night, thinking I could bake today and have enough bread for the week. As I usually do, I warmed the oven slightly and put the dough in it to rise before I went to bed. This morning, the KH got downstairs before me and decided to make cinnamon rolls for breakfast. You can see where this is going, right? My double batch of sourdough, responding to the delightful warmth of the heating oven, rose and spread and overflowed all over the oven, to the grave detriment of both the oven and the dough. I probably should have stopped while I was ahead...or at least, less behind.

Despite all the activity--or maybe because of it--I have been knitting. Here's proof:

This is a progress shot of Flame D'Amore, the top down raglan I've been working on. The yarn is handspun merino and merino-tencel plied together. It's about a dk weight, but I'm knitting at a worsted gauge, so the sweater is light and drapey.

I am basing the design on Francis Revisited, but mostly making it up as I go. I'm very happy with the way this is turning out. As you can see, it's a fitted design (Bertha and I are the same size), with a moderate cowl neck.

The edges are rolled, because I like rolled edges. I'm planning on elbow- or full length sleeves. I like the short sleeves, but I find longer sleeves are more wearable. Especially now, since my new office is just a couple degrees shy of "arctic". I'm not kidding. It's so cold that my nose runs and my fingernails turn blue. I have taken to wearing sweaters under my suit jackets and I am planning to knit a pair of fingerless gloves to wear while I'm working. I didn't start this with the idea of wearing it to work--hence the casual style--but I'm going to try it with a jacket and see if I can pull it off.

At some point I do have FOs to show you, but it's not easy to find time these days for a FOtoshoot, so I'll just leave you with the song that's running through my head, "Just keep knitting, gotta keep knitting..."

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Whirlwind

Just stopping by to say I may not be stopping by as often for a while. I started a new job on Monday, and may I just say...wow. How do people go to an office all day, every day, and still have time to do anything else? It's been 15 years since I worked full time away from home, and if you do the math, you can see that was before I was married, before I had kids, before I had a house and a community and responsibilities. The past three days I've been taking part in an intensive training program, which has been super exciting and interesting, but also exhausting. I don't want to go into too much detail, so suffice it to say that it is a very fast-paced, formal, professional environment. Virtually everything I am doing is brand new to me. I just got my first assignment, which is awesome, high-profile (think national news), and deadly serious. I'm kind of stunned, actually. I am tremendously excited, because it's a great assignment and a huge opportunity, but I'm also scared sh*tless. And I start...tomorrow morning.

Mr. Yarnhog has been terrific. He is totally supportive and excited for me, and he has really stepped up, shuttling kids and cooking and taking on household chores, but he still has to work full time, even though he works from home. It's a huge adjustment for both of us and it's going to take a while to work it all out. So I need to go do twelve loads of laundry, shovel the house, resuscitate my garden (which hasn't been watered in a week), locate the bathrooms under the accumulated filth, do the grocery shopping, bake bread, walk the dogs, make sure the kids are still alive, and take them to the dentist. Oh, and we're having a birthday dinner for Oldest Son tonight, so I suppose I should figure out what I'm going to make and do something about a cake. Holy smokes. How do you all do this?!

Monday, November 8, 2010

It Ain't Just a River in Egypt

This is the progress I've made on my happy knitting.

What's that you say? Smaller than in the last picture? Ah, but that's only because you didn't see the part where I finished the whole raglan, separated out the sleeves, and tried it on. And it was too short. Way too short. Which I knew it was going to be several inches earlier. Not suspected, not feared: knew.

How, you ask? Well, first, because I calculated my row gauge and it was apparent to me that increasing every other round would give me a raglan only five inches deep. I even calculated that increasing every third row instead would give me a raglan that was the right depth. And then I started knitting and increased every other round anyway. My rationale was: "I always increase every other round for a raglan and it always comes out right. Even though, in this case, the numbers tell me I should increase every third round instead, I am going to disregard that, because I always increase every other round and it always comes out right."

So I knitted for a while. And it was pretty clear pretty early on that I was increasing at a rate that was going to get all my increases done well before the raglan was deep enough. But I thought, "Eh," and kept knitting.

When I had only two increase rounds to go, reality began to assert itself a little more forcefully, as I realized that the only person this raglan was going to fit would be someone under three feet tall. So for the last two increases, I increased every fourth round. Because surely that would make up for the entire rest of the raglan and magically add three inches, right?

Inexplicably, it didn't. But, hey, I'm a knitter. I can make it work. I continued to knit without increasing for an inch or two, until my raglan line stared to morph into something less identifiable and even I had to admit that it didn't look quite, um, right. At that point, I decided it was probably good enough, separated out the sleeves, and tried it on.

Yeah. Nothing like a fit test for a reality check.

I momentarily considered possible work arounds involving steeking and grafting and messing with the space-time continuum, and then I finally bowed to the inevitable and ripped. Hard.

It's a good thing I like the yarn, because it looks like we're going to be spending a lot more time together than I initially planned.

Friday, November 5, 2010

How Yarnhog Got Her Groove Back

Note the lack of resemblance to a black, fingering weight camisole. (Or a green angora lace shrug. But we will not speak of that.)

A week or so ago, my knitting get-up-and-go...got up and went. I've been struggling ever since. Not just with knitting, either, as you can tell from my last post. It seems that when the knitting ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. Logically, then, finding my happy place with my knitting should bring back the happy to the rest of my life, right?

And this is my knitting happy.

I have a sweater's worth of this gorgeous (if I do say so myself) handspun, which has been maturing in the stash for a while. I had a design in mind for this, but my interest in the concept waned during the spinning and I never did cast on. After spending an entire morning perusing my Rav queue, and then everyone else's Rav queues, and feeling nothing more than a passing flicker of interest in any of the patterns, I decided what I really needed was yarn inspiration. A quick trip to the stash reminded me of this beautiful yarn and I was off and running.

This will be a top-down, raglan, cowl neck pullover with elbow-length sleeves, similar to Francis Revisited. It would actually BE Francis Revisited, except that I don't want to knit this yarn at the very open gauge required by the pattern, so I had to rewrite the pattern to accommodate my worsted weight handspun, and while I was at it, I made the cowl a little smaller, shortened and narrowed the sleeves, and decided on rolled edges rather than seed stitch trim. So the pattern is more of an idea than a set of instructions. I'm okay with that.

After a plain grey tank top and a plain black camisole, I'm loving this nubby, soft, variegated, red yarn. I'm also loving the fact that a round is something less than five million stitches. As soon as I cast on, I felt like I had exhaled. It felt like that moment in yoga class when you've done all the exercises and you finally get to the part where you close your eyes and relax, and you take a deep breath and feel your joints loosen and your bones sink into the mat. Just like that. And that's a good feeling.

So the rest of my life should be smoothing out any time now...right?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Stuff That's Gone Wrong Lately

Lots of bloggers have regular lists, like "Ten on Tuesday" or "Random Wednesday" or the like. I like this idea, because it seems like a really easy way to whack out a blog post, even if you can't find your camera cable and your last three WIPs are in the fireplace just waiting for a match. But none of the existing lists really capture the flavor of my daily life. I need a different theme. Something along the lines of "Stuff That's Gone Wrong Lately." Consider this the pilot episode.

Stuff That's Gone Wrong Lately:

1) Heidi and Sam are engaged in a pissing contest over ownership of a patch of carpet in my dining room. Actually, I think Sam has dropped out of the contest, but Heidi doesn't seem to care. Half my dining room furniture is currently piled on top of the towels covering the spot on the carpet in a truly futile effort to keep her off of it.

2) The Lysol I am using to keep my house from smelling like a back street stairwell caused Sophie to have a seizure yesterday. (Which, incidentally, made her pee on the carpet. Ironic, that.)

3) I finally got a much-needed pedicure--and immediately afterward caught my big toe on the brake pedal of my car, snapping the nail off halfway down.

4) I'm starting a new job Monday. For which I am not getting paid. I do get to pay for parking, though, so it all balances out.

5) In anticipation of starting the new job, I decided to henna my hair to cover the increasingly prominent grey. I didn't have my glasses on while I was mixing the henna, though, and failed to notice I was using the box labeled "Red" instead of the box labeled "Auburn". There is a really big difference between "Red" and "Auburn". I don't think they're expecting Bozo the Clown, but that's who's showing up on Monday.

6) I also--inexplicably--forgot to wear gloves while applying the henna, so now my hands and nails are also a lovely shade of orange, which is bound to make shaking all those new hands a fun experience all the way around.

7) I decided I was smarter than the designer of the camisole I'm test knitting and "modified" the straps. I now have to rip back black, fingering weight yarn and then pick up several hundred dropped stitches. There's not a bright enough light in the world to make this happen without hair rending, sobbing, and an eventual descent into drunken remorse.

8) Due to a scheduling collision which resulted in fatal injuries to my plans for today, I had the chance to sleep in this morning. To make up for it, I had raging insomnia last night.

Hmmm...I could get used to this list thing. Whining is kind of fun!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mr. Yarnhog!

The love of my life.

This picture was taken at Civil Air Patrol Encampment this summer. He hadn't slept in a couple of days. He doesn't like this picture because he thinks he looks worn out. I love it because it shows his commitment to helping develop awesome young adults and his love for our kids.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Was I Thinking?!

I am an instant gratification sort of knitter. I like aran weight yarn. I like top-down knitting. I like no finishing. I like plain stockinette. I get the kind of rush from casting off a project that is usually reserved for heroin addicts. In short, I am a knitter of limited patience, which explains my aversion to knitting lace and socks. Or, heaven forbid, lace socks.

It does not explain why I thought it would be a good idea to test knit a lacy camisole in fingering weight yarn.

Somewhere around row seven bazillion, I realized I am essentially knitting the world's largest sock. With lace trim. Aaargh!

This is Cecily, which I've mentioned before I am test knitting for the designer, Snowden Becker.

Now, don't misunderstand: this is a lovely, lovely project. The design is just beautiful. It may, in fact, be the perfect knitted camisole.

The pattern is excellent, and the shaping is truly inspired. Check out the princess-seam waist shaping:




And the beautiful bust darts:

I have just started a third set of shaping at the top of the bust, but you can't really see it yet. And the straps are even bra-friendly without being chunky.

It's a gorgeous project. But if I have to knit any more stockinette in the round in fingering weight black yarn at 7 stitches to the inch, I may just lose it completely. Fortunately, I am almost to another set of...lace repeats. Oh, joy.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fiber Tool FAIL

I really did plan to share my newest fiber tool with you, but alas, after finishing, marking, and drilling that piece of wood I showed you in the last post, something went horribly wrong and the thing had to be scrapped. Not to worry--I have already acquired materials for a second attempt. I can tell you, though, that it is not a loom--although the number of people who guessed that makes me wonder if I ought to reconsider my no-weaving stance.

Instead, I have this to share:

This is about 1200 yards of dk weight cashmere. What makes it interesting is that it started out as about 3600 yards of lace weight cashmere. This yarn was originally a couple of women's machine knit pullovers. It was reclaimed by...someone. Not me. Then I acquired it and discovered that knitting with crinkly frogged lace weight cashmere is not part of my skill set. We all know my history with lace knitting. But it turns out it is possible to re-ply an already plied yarn to turn a lace weight 2-ply into a dk weight 6-ply. So after two days of plying and winding and washing, it is now a weight that will actually get used around here.

Now comes the real dilemma. I bought this yarn to knit a sweater for my husband. After a year of not knitting it, I bought him a machine knit black cashmere sweater. I think this gets me off the hook and I can now use this lovely, lovely yarn to knit a sweater for myself. He asserts that the yarn is his, independent of the sweater I later bought, and that any sweater that comes from it also belongs to him. We have reached an impasse. We could resolve it the same way we do all the major issues in our marriage--a game of high-stakes Yahtzee--but I thought I'd appeal to the knitters first. What say you: am I obligated to make him a sweater from this, or can I knit one for myself? And if I am obligated to knit for him, would it be adhering to the letter of the law if I knit a sweater for him that will only fit me?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spinning My Wheels

I'd love to be able to show you any of the three finished sweaters I have yet to do FO posts for, but alas, it has been pouring rain for two days here--in itself, a very good thing--so decent pictures are out of the question.

Instead, here are some crummy pictures of the yarn I finished spinning and plying yesterday. It looks somewhat better in person, although I'm not thrilled with it. It was prettier in the roving; the finished result is a bit muddy and bland looking to me.

I have two large skeins of this (eight ounces worth), in what I think is about a sport weight. It will probably end up being a camisole eventually. The very blandness of the color, which is actually a combination of silver, purple, and green, will make it a good choice as a layering piece.

I have another project in the works. It's not a knitting project, although it does have to do with yarn. Here's a sneak peek:

(The project is the piece of wood, not the teenager. He is also a work in progress.) Any guesses what it might be?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Rib-it

A bigger woman than I would just admit she's been lazy and distracted, but I'm totally going to blame the weather for not blogging for the past two weeks.

After the soul-killing record heat, the temperature abruptly plunged fifty degrees overnight and the sky opened up with pouring rain for two straight days. The startling temperature change wreaked havoc on traffic, tempers, and sinuses, and there has not been a day in the past two weeks when some member of my family was not sick.

The weather also substantially interfered with my blogging, since I wasn't about to go outside in 110 degree heat to take photos, and pouring rain and fog aren't conducive to great photography, either.

Today, however, it is 70 degrees and clear--just beautiful, actually--and so I have photos to share, and advice to ask.

This is Ribby in progress:

I got to this point a couple of weeks ago and stalled out. The problem is, I can't decide whether to go sleeveless, cap sleeve, or elbow length.

You can see here that I started to make a sleeve on this side. I tried it on when I got this far and my husband immediately announced it needed to be sleeveless. (He says I have great shoulders--gotta love that man!)

This is the sleeveless side. If I don't do sleeves, I'll do some sort of edging here, either a little bit of ribbing or a crochet trim to make the straps wider and more substantial.

My goal for this is a top I can wear in a conservative, formal office environment under a jacket, but that won't be inappropriate if I take off my jacket at my desk. So whaddaya think: sleeveless, cap sleeves, or elbow length?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Just Shoot Me

Weather for San Diego, CA 92129

- Add to iGoogle
110°F | °C
Current: Sunny
Wind: E at 9 mph
Humidity: 11%
Mon
Sunny
106°F | 67°F
Tue
Mostly Cloudy
86°F | 64°F
Wed
Partly Cloudy
83°F | 63°F
Thu
Partly Cloudy
81°F | 62°F
Detailed forecast: The Weather Channel - Weather Underground - AccuWeather

Friday, September 24, 2010

Knitting Slut

I am a faithful person. Devoted to my husband. My children. My friends.

Just not, apparently, to my knitting.

I cast on for Eve's Ribs, as I said I would. And I was excited, too. It's a lovely pattern and I'm doing it in a lovely yarn. But...it's lace. It's easy lace, lace in dk weight yarn, lace on big needles, but...it's lace.

I suppose it was inevitable. I suppose, given my history with lace, that I shouldn't have expected to be able to remain faithful.

It's just a little embarrassing how quickly and completely I succumbed to the charms of a new, non-lace project.

This is Ribby, for lack of a better name. I know it looks a little, um, weird, but I think it's going to work out just fine. Right now I'm planning for it to be a tank top to wear under a suit, but I may make short sleeves instead. I'll decide after I get it assembled. The pattern is nonexistent; I'm just winging it. The yarn is Rowan Cashsoft DK, which I ordered by mistake a couple of years ago, thinking it was Rowan Cashcotton. I've never used it because I'm not a huge fan of light grey generally, but it's the perfect color to wear with a black or charcoal or navy suit, all of which I own.
The thing is, cheating on Eve's Ribs seems to have opened some kind of door. Now all I can think about is all the other great patterns waiting for my attention: the cardigans, the pullovers, the jackets, the coats...

This morning I was checking out Rav and found this. It is a modification of this Rebecca pattern. I was instantly assailed by that "MUST HAVE" crazy and clicked over to Rebecca to download the pattern. While I was there, it seemed a waste to click "buy" for just one item, so I also downloaded this.

Now I am knitting away on Ribby, fantasizing about the newest patterns in my queue of ten bazillion others, considering yarn and color options, figuring out which needles I can free up.

Damn. I admit it. I'm a knitting slut.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

And the Winner Is...

...Eve's Ribs, by Carol Sunday!

This will be my next knit. It was not in my queue. It does not qualify as office attire. It is not the dressy black wrap I so need for going out at night in the fall and winter. In other words, it is a total lark. I can't justify it in any way, except that I have the perfect yarn (Cascade Indulgence) in the perfect quantity in my stash, and it's not earmarked for anything else, and I just feel like knitting it, darn it!

The pattern offers several sleeve variants. I like the long, flared sleeve best:

It is not an easy pattern to modify, so I'm not going to. I figure the alpaca/angora blend I'm using, combined with the lacy ribbed pattern, will probably stretch like crazy and end up fitting me just fine. It's a loose knit anyway, so fit is not so critical. For once, I'm just going to blindly follow the pattern and see what happens. That will be an adventure all by itself!

Friday, September 10, 2010

FO: NLCA

And here it is: The Noro Log Cabin Afghan!

I started this back in March and fairly quickly worked up all the very addictive squares. But then it took a while to plow through all the assembling, which involved miles and miles of garter stitch and almost as much grafting.

In the end, it was totally worth the trouble. The afghan is warm and colorful and lovely to curl up with.

I used 20 balls of Noro Yuzen--which is a wool/silk blend, labeled DK weight, but really a worsted--in 10 different colorways. I made the blocks using this tutorial, which was really easy. Then I picked up and knitted along the edges of the blocks and kitchenered them together to create strips. Then I picked up and knitted along the edges of the the strips and kitchenered them together to create a rectangle. (I used a different yarn for this, which I pulled from the stash.)

I should have made my strips narrower, since a) they ended up wider than the "logs" and b) I ran out of yarn before I could make the border as wide as I wanted. But calculating exactly how wide they needed to be to use all my yarn without running out too soon would have required...well...math. And I try to minimize the need for math in knitting, because, as I have proved time and again, math lies. I know there are those of you who disagree that math is inherently dishonest, and maybe even those who would suggest that I--myself--might in some way bear some responsibility for the way math has repeatedly failed to conform to my knitting reality, but I reject those arguments and repeat: math lies.

So, after much consideration, I decided to use the "ah, screw it" approach to making a border and just started single crocheting around and around the edge of the afghan until I ran out of yarn. Which, naturally, happened two feet before the end of a round. At that point, I extended the "ah, screw it" approach to its natural corollary, "ah, f*&! it!", ripped back to the end of the side (not all the way back to the beginning of the round, which would have made the border the same width on all sides but also narrower on three sides), and tied it off. I figure, no one will ever notice that one side is one row narrower than the other three, and I used up all but a few feet of my yarn.

Being familiar with the ways of Noro, I soaked this baby overnight in some water with a good dose of fabric softener, and it's now drying out on the deck. Since I've also finished Morgaine (modeled pics coming soon!), I am now without project on the needles! I will be remedying that situation in short order, as soon as I decide what I feel like knitting next. I am getting ready to start a new job in a formal office environment (more about that later), so I am trying to come up with a sweater I could wear in that setting. It's the sort of place you have to wear a suit every day. I was thinking a fitted shell or sweater for under a suit, but I been able to find any patterns I think would work. I'm not averse to designing my own, but I don't really have a vision for it. Any suggestions?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Got Money?

Actual conversation with my ten-year old yesterday:

Son: Mom, which one is better, Harvard or Yale?

Me: Harvard.

Son: Huh. How come?

Me: Because I went to Harvard.

Son: You DID?!

Me: Uh huh.

Son: Wow! No wonder you're so smart. I'm going to Harvard, too.

Uh oh.

I'll be accepting donations to his college fund, in case anyone's interested.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Seamless

I love seamless knits.


There is nothing quite as satisfying as finishing the knitting and just...putting it on. No piecing, no fitting, no sewing. Especially no sewing.

It doesn't get you out of blocking, of course, which is why these are still not modeled shots. When I finished knitting Morgaine this afternoon, I gave her a nice bath and then hung her on Bertha to dry. (That's what constitutes blocking around here.) As I expected and planned, she has grown significantly in length, and I think she'll fit perfectly once she's dry.

I have some pretty ceramic buttons I've been saving for a while which I think will work well on this. I just need to sew them on and make a few button loops, and this one will be an FO.

Come on, Fall!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Make New Friends...

...but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold!

Was anyone else a Girl Scout? Did you have to sing that song every single meeting, too? The wretched Beatles medley after John Lennon was assassinated was almost a relief.

Here is proof that the FO parade was not just an excuse to cover the fact that I haven't been knitting. I have indeed been knitting. Here is the current state of the Noro Log Cabin blanket:

Yes, that is all the squares, edged and grafted together!

And here is the yarn I have left:

Although it looks like a fair amount, my calculations indicate that there is not enough to do the matching border I intended. My calculations consist of considering that it's taken me six and a half balls so far. There are three long strips and two short strips. I have two and a half balls left, and to do a matching border would mean knitting a bit more than two long strips and two short strips. Even in my math-resistant world, this equals not enough yarn.

I am taking suggestions. This yarn is discontinued and utterly unavailable (I've looked). It is impossible to match, being a wool/cotton/nylon baby boucle in plum (I've tried). So my options are to make a smaller sort of border, like maybe an applied I-cord (god save me), or to pick an entirely different yarn for the border. I am leaning toward the narrower border, but I'd love to hear other options. I have spent too long on this to give up now, no matter how tempting it may seem at the moment.

And this is Morgaine, which is what I am calling my version of this pattern--the one I didn't order because it was only available by snail mail and I am not that patient.

Instead, I just used the photo as a guide. And I've saved about as much time as you save when you get caught speeding and spend half an hour exchanging pleasantries with the Highway Patrol. I have ripped almost as much as I have knitted. Natch. But I think I have it worked out now. I had to set it aside for a couple of days when I ripped the sleeve cap for the second time, but I'm reasonably happy with the current version of the cap and I think it will end up perfect after blocking.
This yarn is Ultra Alpaca, so it will undoubtedly grow like crazy in length when it hits water. I am counting on it, in fact, since I deliberately shortened all my measurements to accommodate this growth. (Now watch; this will end up being the only non-growing alpaca in history.)

I gave it a hood, which will benefit from a good blocking.

I also did a shirttail-esque short row hem, which is longer in the back than the front. I was thinking sort of a medieval cloak shape. The added advantage is that it covers my butt without hanging to my knees in the front.

These are my only "real" WIPs right now. "Real" WIPs are those which stand a chance of being finished in the near future, as opposed to the other sort of WIPs, which are just UFOs in denial. (We won't discuss how many of those I have floating around.)

And you know what that means, don't you? It means I will be picking a new project in the next few days! Ah, the possibilities...