Friday, December 28, 2007

Impending Arrival

Best quote of 2007: "You're not utterly useless, you're just sort of impaired."

The above was said to me by my hubby after I whined about being utterly useless when I suffered an asthma attack after attempting to clean the shower with a powerful chemical spray product. He meant well, bless his heart, but I swear everyone has giggled when I've told them about it. I really need a t-shirt that says this.

I am saddened beyond the ability of the written word to convey by the death of Benazir Bhutto. It doesn't matter whether it was due to her ducking in an attempt to save herself or a gunshot, the result was the same: another successful assassination in the modern world. When will we progress beyond thinking that killing someone who has an opposing viewpoint will solve anything?

I am awaiting the arrival of Tech Gal and the grandkids. I've been thinking about when I was young. If Ms. Bhutto had been killed then there would have been the once-familiar beeping sound as NBC interrupted the sitcoms to announce what had happened. Regular TV shows would have simply stopped being shown as David Brinkley and Chet Huntley and later, Tom Brokaw, reported every single incoming fact and explained to us what impact this would have. Now the TV shows go right on chugging along, albeit in re-runs as the writers strike on, and the news updates are smooshed in alongside the latest Hollywood DUI arrests and divorces, unless you choose to go directly to any news channel's website or major news provider. Is this a better world I worked for? Whatever will it be like when these grandkids are my age?

I'm feeling pretty morose but it IS raining, which we desperately need here. I think I'll go start the beef dish for supper and comfort myself with some wool, something pretty artificial on the grand scale of things but then I'm simply a little country mouse in that grand scale. Happy New Year to all and for Ms. Bhutto's family and the Pakistani people, my true sympathy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Wrapping Up the Unwrapping

Thanks to all my commenters. I'm glad when knitters can share the humor in their mistakes instead of stressing over them. :-) For the one who asked via pm how I managed that little feat of genius, I simply cast on using a cast on that is intended to give you a toe, one that appears to have been kitchenered stitched closed instead of casting on an open cuff, as in a cuff-down sock. Then I made very sure to weave my tail in as I went, making it pretty difficult if I wanted to go unpick it. I could cut the first line of stitches down the middle, pick up and knit more cuff if I wished but I choose to leave it. I'm still laughing everytime I pass it and I can't wait to show it off at Yarn Night. Some of the girls are under the impression I'm a good knitter. I've tried and tried to explain the difference between a good knitter and someone who knows how to go back and cover their tracks when they make major messes and perhaps this will help illustrate. :-) (And yeah, I WAS very glad this was worsted weight. I'd have hated to have spent the time on a fingering weight two-toed sock. It might not have been so funny then....naw, it'd have been funnier.)
I had a very good meal at my mother's home (watch out, there was cayenne powder on those sweet potato sticks). Yesterday, we went back for left-overs and fried asparagus with some sort of creamy, sour cream-based dip that had creole seasoning in it. I usually loathe and can't tolerate fried foods but these were so crispy and non-greasy, I quickly realized I could eat the entire platter and not realize what I'd done until it was too late. Back away from the asparagus....(hmm, can you tell I'm somewhere in the South?)

Every single photo I took at my mom's is totally blurred. Some worse than others. First, we have Jaylee practicing her Miss America wave:

She did this a lot, enjoys doing it, and will add in blowing kisses on request.

Then we have this shot of what will be the next new baby for next year's Christmas:

Any minute now, can't you tell? She's in such a good mood, it's unbelievable. Has been the entire pregnancy. If we could bottle whatever is doing that, there would be peace, love and harmony throughout the world. Take my word, it isn't a normal state for her, she'll tell you herself.
All the knitted gifts I did manage to finish up were very happily received.

The Hannah hat from Magknits. It has a ponytail opening knit in the back of the hat that secures with buttons so you can take it on and off without causing the Fuzzyhead so common from other hats. I used 2 white flower-shaped buttons. Note: the buttons on the Magknits site photo look really large. I found that with my knitting tension and resulting gauge, I ended up using what I would consider "regular" sized buttons.
This went to Tara, the mommy-to-be. I used Cascade 220, obtained from Fiber4Ewe in Wytheville. The pattern is very straight-forward and easy to knit, would be great for beginning knitters wanting to try out knitting in the round, decreasing, and getting over the fear of doing a button-hole, and the Cascade 220 was a very cheery color. True, it's not superwash but even in my humid, prone-to-mold icky part of the world, it dried in 24 hours after a wash in Soak. It knitted up in around 4 hours total, most of you could probably do it in less time. Bear in mind when I mention total knitting times that I have to severely restrict how long I knit using larger than size 8 needles due to the RA in my hands. If I try to do extended sessions on large needles, I put myself out of knitting entirely due to pain and inflammation. So if you are trying to figure out how quickly you could knock one of these out in, do keep that in mind.

The Sister-in-Law socks. I gave my one of my best friends, Bev, socks for her birthday this past year. Which immediately set off a chain reaction that resulted in her mom wanting a pair. I'm not complaining, I consider those who grab my handknit socks, fondle them and hint repeatedly for their own pair(s) to be very intelligent creatures. As opposed to the ones who remark something about going to Wally World and picking up the Chinese-knit socks in the hunting aisle. She was very specific in her hinting: need to match denim jeans and blue and/or grey pants plus be longer length, at least top of calf. Add to this that she has the skinniest size 8 foot I've ever seen in my life. To be price-practical, I chose Regia so I could get the top-of-the-calf length, and threw in Brown Sheep Wildfoote in a matching grey for the toes. The challenge to these was simply in getting the proper skinny-ness in the foot. I used the Elizabeth Zimmerman/Meg Swanson arch-shaping method described in Meg Swanson's Knitting, page 137, and had to do 15 rows of the shaping. I've never had to go past 9 rows before. I still had to add in judicious ribbing placement and decreases to pull the sock in at the right places to give it a proper fit but not cause any problems with rubbing or bunching when she puts on her shoes. They fit her perfectly. She was happy. I was happy. :-)
Now for the Not Christmas but other knitting category:
My Red Sox Sock. I have one sock entirely designed and finished up. The other is now on the needles (my present to myself, go ahead and start my other sock) and I'm halfway done the pennant pattern on the cuff. It's a neat pattern, looks like little triangular flags when it's stretched out because they won the pennant, yes? I do love this yarn, it's squishy, smooshy and downright plush. Way too bad I lost both ball bands and now have no idea what it is. I suspect I bought it at Mosaic when I picked up the Soak wash. (Oh, lookee, they're having a coupon sale. And I can't think of any way or good reason to get to Blacksburg. Bummer.)
This little sock is one of a completed pair, made with a plain vanilla pattern. I threw in solid heels and toes due to the small amount of Lorna's Lace sock yarn I had left over to use for them. I know they'll fit one of the babies in the family.
I also seem to be on a contrasting heels and toes kick. :-)

And look! That's spinning I spy! This is 100% South African wool goodness, obtained from my wool crack dealer, er, make that one of my favorite handdyed wool vendors, Carol, at Black Bunny Fibers on Etsy. I've been spinning it on my Louet and it's now all spun up and ready to ply. I'm going to do the plying on the Lendrum. The Louet is going out on loan to a friend for a couple of months after the first of the year so she can learn to wheel spin. And see if she likes Louets before she decides what to invest in. Several of us have Louets and I love my S75. There are also Ashfords well represented in the guild and I know one girl who has 2 Kromskis. I found the Kromskis hard to treadle but I had never spun before that day so I can't count that as a valid opinion because I now know that it may simply have been due to the tension settings on it. The only thing I knew about tension that day was that I was really tense. I've now shown up with the first Lendrum infiltration and everyone seems to like her very well. The main thing I note is that the Lendrum allows you to spin much finer and faster, even on the top of the whorl, as opposed to the Louet. It's much harder to get that level of fineness and you have to treadle harder to do so on the Louet. But I love the lofty soft yarn I get from the Louet. So I can see using both. Which is really bad because I justified the "grab that Lendrum and load it in the car" down at SAFF by swearing I was going to sell the Louet. Now I feel really short of breath and sweaty and kind of faint and dizzy when I even think about. Whew, bad feeling. Give me a moment here. Must go pat the Louet.....
Okay. See what a dilemma? I just know Linda is going to have to pry it out of my arms to borrow it next month. And that's just for a visit. How can you love 2 spinning wheels to death? Even worse, I spin on both. There's some mystery brown grease wool on the Lendrum as I speak.
Well, I guess I could go cast on another sock while I think about it. And in the next update, I'm going to get a full modeling of the finished (yay! wild cheering, clapping, hooting! yay!) Rogue hoodie ON it's intended new owner, Tech Gal herself. Maybe she'll even help me choose a new photo-editing program and do some housekeeping here. Heaven knows, every Christmas photo I took was totally blurred.
Happy New Year, y'all!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Solstice and Major Mistakes

First, best holiday wishes to all, no matter what flavor you prefer. My present to you is a photo of my major knitting mistake:

Can you tell what I did wrong?

Back in October, my bestest cyberfriend ever, Eileen, got me Cat Bordhi's newest book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters, Book One. I've been champing at the bit to try it ever since but I needed to finish up all Christmas committments first. Having managed all of them but one, which I simply haven't the time to finish now (thank you, RA, you interrupt me at the worst times) I gave myself permission to do some selfish knitting.

I've had a very jaundiced opinion of knitting socks with 2 circular needles due to a very traumatic attempt at this 2 years ago that ended with me throwing needles, yarn, and instructions across the room while cursing them roundly. I've knitted many pairs of socks very successfully since that time on my trusty dpns and was very satisfied with all of them. However, I felt a tiny bit like the knitting had managed to defeat me and I don't like that feeling. It's not the same feeling as the one you have when you've knit something in a new technique or stitch pattern and you simply don't like doing it. No, being defeated is....well, losing to the knitting. And I don't like being a loser.

So I've read repeatedly on the Yahoo Socknitter's list and on other's blogs where they achieve great success and even satisfaction using 2 circulars to knit socks after reading Cat Bordhi's instructions. And I became hopeful again.

I gathered up book, worsted weight yarn, and 2 size 6 circulars Wednesday night per her instructions, which I'd intently perused Tuesday evening. Normally I'd have callously disregarded any advice to do a sample sock (or sample anything for that matter, samples are for sissies...and successful knitters) but I was determined to succeed and do this right this time. I even realized I totally understood how to do Judy's Magic Cast On for the first time. So I cast on and started knitting. I then had to cast on again due to having turned the circulars the wrong way (which way does that clock turn again?) but I was off and running after that.

I did have this feeling something wasn't quite right though. I told Martha I couldn't understand why the toe of the sock in the book photo was so tiny and appeared to only have a few stitches, yet my toe had 32 stitches. I even went back and checked a couple of times to be certain I'd cast on enough stitches. I worked through the arch expansion (wow, I loved this part) and the heel went by without a hitch. But then I turned the page and at the top of the column it said "foot".

Uh oh. I kind of thought I'd already done a foot. And how did I manage to knit and turn a heel and not notice whatsoever that it was totally in the wrong place for my assumptions? See, I knew something wasn't right but up til this point, I simply hadn't thought about it being a cuff-down sock. I'd made tons of assumptions:

I'd assumed you only use 2 circulars to knit socks toe-up.

I'd assumed I didn't need to read all the way through the pattern because I'd read all the "how-to's" and "wherefore's" and wanted to just get to it.

I'd assumed that because Cat Bordhi recommends Judy's Magic Cast On for casting on toe-up, all the socks in the book were toe-up and I should use this cast on for them.

So I now have a cute little sock that has no opening to get a foot into. And I have to go back and figure out exactly how to cast on 2 circulars for a cuff down sock.

Yeah, when I can finally get to the point of not laughing myself silly everytime I look at this sock or the book.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Well, here I am, coming to you from the official drought state of VA. Ain't it wonderful to check the USGS site and find your state is colored in entirely. And your local river has one of those bright red dots for really low. It's near the end of October and we have yet to have a hard frost. The temps are in the mid-70's to mid-60's for highs and 50's to mid-40's for lows (if you live in a mountainous area). We got a smattering of rain yesterday but it lasted about 2 minutes. Just enough to remind you that water could still fall from the sky. I was beginning to think it was a fairytale. NC Gal mentioned to some friends the other night that she had 400 bales of hay and the way they leaned forward, with this gleam in their eyes, and said "400 bales! Where do you keep it at?" was a little bit....well, intense, if you know what I mean. The poor farmers can't even sell the livestock because no one is buying. Doesn't make sense to buy more cows or horses, even if they're dirt cheap, if all you've got is dirt left to feed them. There was a time I actually felt a bit antagonistic toward our up-stream neighbor because he built this big bank around his pond and it dammed up the stream that flows from a spring a bit up the small valley (we call it a holler around here) and cut off the main flow to my part of the creek. I've only had a creek in the spring after that, when the wet-weather springs would rise and feed it. It's been 2 years since we even had a sign of wet-weather spring and the last was more of a slight mudhole. I sincerely hope the bullfrogs that lived there managed to vacate before the springs stopped filling. I loved listening to them. His pond is very meager right now. Actually, it's well below the drainage spout he installed to keep it from becoming stagant and well on it's way to becoming just a mudhole it's self. I noticed his cattle are gone.....

I will never complain about rainy days again. Just please wish some our way, okay?

On the knitting front:

Had a bit of an interlude there between posts. Due to actually knitting instead of surfing. I even have blocked and seamed sweaters to show off:

Josie's sweater and hat. Very nice orange Cotton Classic yarn by Takhi Stacy Charles from Orchardside Yarn Shop in Raphine, VA. It's showing up as a very bright violent orange on my monitor but it's actually a calm shade of orange, if such a thing could be said of any orange color.

The Merry Sweater for Bridget, from Elsebeth Lavold's Designer's Choice no. 11, in Hempathy. I managed to get the green and golden colors very close but again, the orange is rather aggressive. I loved knitting this. The only problem was the yarn fought me when doing the seaming. It's a bit splitty.

The freight and loom conundrum. Well, I now have a Gobelin loom lying in pieces in my living room floor. NC Gal has a Nilus jack loom installed in her home. Both have sustained damage and missing bits and pieces, which we have been assured will be replaced. I had a chunk chipped out of the bottom support of mine but her's had a bad crack in one side piece. We bought these on Ebay at an excellent price but didn't quite know what we'd end up getting since neither was assembled in the photos. All we were certain of was that they were Leclerc looms with "some accessories". The freighting incident kind of got us down there but once assembly began and we realized what we'd ended up with, well, the song and dance began. I hope to have mine assembled for show and tell tomorrow. It takes 3 people to put it together so I have to find 3 people I can get in my living room at the same time that will cooperate to put it together. Where's my son-in-law when I need him? :-)

Rogue. Rogue is living up to it's name in being a bit of a rogue. It only lacks sleeves and I was to the sleeve cap and almost at the binding off point. But I kept having this tinge of unease. It just seemed way too long to me. Instead of reaching for the tape measure to check this, I put it off by checking my gauge. Yes, getting both row and stitch gauge, so I had to be right, oui? Knit another row. Gee, that's an awfully long sleeve lying in my lap. So I dragged myself out of the recliner, found a flat surface, pinned the sleeve down and measured. 24 inches long and I wasn't finished knitting it. No, no, no. That couldn't be right. So I called Tech Gal, hoping she had 25 inch long arms. No such luck-21 and 1/2 inches long. Of course, the sleeves need a slight bit more to set back into the top of the shoulder correctly but still, this wasn't going to work. I have dragged the offending sleeve and schematics and instructions to every knitter I know that would understand such things and measured every person's arm length that didn't run from me. The longest I found was 22 inches. They did state they'd be willing to give the sweater a good home, even with the too-long sleeves. Very nice of them, eh? All I can figure out is that I've done too many rows in the mindless knitting and increasing section after the cable inset part and thus have, well, too many rows. I can't face ripping back yet, so I'm going to start the other sleeve and PAY ATTENTION! What a concept.

And no, I haven't finished that pair of socks. They're still in time-out. I did pull one of them out and try it on yesterday. Instead I decided I needed to start a baby dress for T, after talking to her mom, who said, oh, yeah, the baby shower's November 8th. Yikes. I also managed to mess it up last night while attempting to watch the CBS lineup, increasing all those triangles to 12 stitches instead of 14. See, you start by knitting 13 triangles, which are themselves begun by casting on 2 sts, increasing to 14 sts, then joining them all together to make the bottom hem of the dress. Haha. Got a tad confused on the numbers while watching, well, Numb3rs, Moonlight, and Ghost Whisperer. It is almost Halloween/Samhain after all, so I can be excused for watching ghosts, vampires, and serial killers, right? I think I lost count somewhere during the Fibronacci sequence explanation that they crossed with numerology.....

I think I'd better go try to fix those triangles and have a soft drink. Good thing I don't really like to drink water, isn't it?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Back to what was lost and now is found*

I am still experiencing numerous October setbacks, the latest due to a knitter's worst action, namely that of self-delusion. Knitters are often capable of this. It occurs when some item you are knitting is obviously either too big, too small, oddly shaped or bearing absolutely no resemblence to the schematics provided or those common sense should be alerting you to. I've been knitting a pair of Jaywalkers, pattern by the ever-amazing Grumperina, with a few modifications by myself, namely that of not carrying the pattern down onto the foot portion of the socks. This has gone well and I could have a finished sock to show you except for one thing:

I totally messed up the toe decreases. No, I did not take pictures. I don't want to remember this.

I knew it as I was knitting that it wasn't working. Yet I kept going and even tried a wonky fix in order to avoid stopping where I was and going back 4 rows to knit plain another 1/2 inch. 4 scrawny, measly rows. Instead I forged ahead, thinking to myself that I could just add a couple of plain rows at the end of the sock before kitchenering the toe off and it would work out.

Well, it didn't. Because a 1/2 inch on size 1 US needles is more than a couple of rows to add at the end. I ended up with a weird chimney-shaped funnel, kind of like the one you get when you start a toe-up sock with a certain kind of provisional cast-on. I even contemplated casting it off and ignoring the shape. But, gee, I noted that my toes kind of slope and there was that 1/2 inch sticking out on the one sloping side and if I tried sticking that in a shoe, it would bunch up and cause all kinds of problems. So I took out darning needle and yarn, inserted a life-line back at the row just before I started my decreases and yanked out an hour and a half's work. All because of the blinders I'd put on. Total idiocy for the sake of not wanting to tink back 4 rows.

And they're going to be such pretty socks, too, if only I stop fooling around with them:

This is the sock from about a week ago. I'm using Fleece Artist 100% merino for them, another great buy from Mosaic in Blacksburg, VA. I had some anxiety about whether or not there was enough yarn in that dwindling ball you see in the photo but now know that there's more than enough to do my women's size 7 (US) socks. Going for a size 9 in this pattern would be pushing it though.
Both socks are currently resting comfortably in my knitting bag beside the recliner. After all, it's hardly their fault I became mired in self-denial and delusion.

As for what was lost now being found, look what I located:

Yes, as previously mentioned, the elusive, worm-hole traveling roving. I had the one bobbin full and have now filled half of another and have the roving displayed to finish spinning before the plying can begin. I'm trying to be really dedicated to spinning at least one strip of roving a day, even if it's only a 5 or 10 minute spinning session, so I can both get this spun, plyed, set, and knitted up into the planned baby booties but also so I can improve my spinning.

As to where we stand with the service providers mentioned in the last post, well, let's just say that the 4th box finally wended it's way back to the person we'd bought it from and we've arranged for it to attempt to find it's way to us...again. A claims adjuster is supposed to be in contact with us to come inspect the damage and I figure that's where the big fight will commence, since they left NC gal a message that indicated they were under the impression that all we had in the order was a bench. Now, I'm not quite sure where that impression came from since that "bench" was insured for around $6,000 but that was the message left. NC gal returned their call, leaving her own message to correct this false impression. It's not the first they've had and I'm sure it won't be the last.

I've managed to overcome some of my seaming avoidance. I seamed one side of Bridget's Merry sweater while watching VA Tech play Clemson. (Yay, VT!). I still really like the hand to the Hempathy yarn and love the pattern for the sweater but I am definitely converting this to be knit in the round when I do the one I'm planning on for myself. Being tri-colored, it's been a pain to mattress stitch the seams and not allow the yarn I'm using to show through and the Hempathy yarn's qualities that I like so much, it's softness and drapiness, hinder this seaming process even more. I hope to finish seaming the other side and knit the few rows needed to finish the neckline and it'll go on the "Finished Object" list on Ravelry. If you want to see that list, including the other things I have on the "in progress" and such, I'm HokieKnitter. Feel free to drop by.

Rogue is in the process of gaining sleeves. I cast on and am 24 rows into the sleeve, not counting the hem. I also cast on this:

The Goldilocks Shawl from Fleece Artist, obtained from Colorsong Yarn, an online yarn shop. The fiber itself is named Goldielocks and is 56% mohair, 24% silk, 20% nylon. It's a boucle and very soft and drapey. I'm being slowed down in knitting it due to having to hold it up to the light so I can admire it's colors and cuddle it at intervals. The colors remind me of a forest with a stream running through it or the deep blue sky peeking through the dense tree foliage. Yes, I love it. And it's going to stay and be mine.

Another view, to try to help see the colors.

The Brown Dog had a few choice words to bark at me because I dared post a picture of the cat. He was quite adamant that he disliked sharing his blog with any of the other "hangers on" that also reside here.

This was taken during his lecturing of me. He wasn't happy about me snapping this either.

One good thing in October:
Gabriella, my friend Angela's little girl, all dressed up in her christening dress I knitted. She is a beautiful model and a true miracle. I couldn't ask for a better model for the outfit.
*"once was lost and then was found" taken from the lyrics of Amazing Grace, the hymn written by John Newton and originally published in Olney Hymns in 1779. You can read more about him at The John Newton Project, if you feel so inclined. He was quite an interesting man.
BTW, I'm sure you've noted the somewhat screwy spacing of my posts. I promise you, I have repeatedly edited and re-edited them and then, when I re-post, they are still screwy in their spacing. Even Tech Girl can't get the spacing to behave. So I've just decided to ignore it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Bad Moon Rising*

Or waning, as may actually be the case. October seems determined to be one of those months you have to grit your teeth and, perhaps, pound your head in the wall a few times, in order to both survive what it throws at you and to keep from damaging people in the so-called "service" industries. I don't know what they're teaching them in orientation training but it ain't customer-based service.

(several yarn photos will appear to help ease the frustration in this post. I'm practicing my yarn photography. Please feel free to tell me which you like best. This is number 1 in the colors of fall wools.)

True, the above seems to have nothing to do with knitting. On the face of it, that is. In actuality, it does because when you're frustrated and angry, your tension changes (pun intended). You find yourself sitting and staring at those pointy implements in your hands, while your husband and dog decide it's best not to sit in the same room with an angry, frustrated and half-crazed-by-having-to-deal-with-customer-service-representatives woman. You make little to no progress on your projects because you're on the freaking phone for hours, listening to anything from Mozart to bluegrass (I found this to be profoundly disturbing-bluegrass should not be used for "on hold" music. That's tantamount to heresy in these parts.) I really disliked the mechanical female voice apologizing every 10 seconds for the "heavy volume of calls at present". It makes you worry deeply about the fact that you've just signed an 18 month service contract with these people and everyone seems to be calling them with a problem.

(so, what do you think? My fall colors involve greens, browns, and red and white for the Red Sox. Yay for the Division champs!)

Especially when they didn't even show up at the appointed time to set up your tv service. Try that on for profoundly disturbing. The original appointment was set up by a bubbly girl rep 2 weeks ago for today, between 8am and 5 pm. The world around me knows I hate early rising. But I agreed because I had other things to do in the afternoon. Nice, fun things. Like getting together with my friends at the LYS and hanging out knitting and bad-mouthing Presidential candidates and then weaving class. (We'll forget for the moment that weaving is torturing me right now. After all, I've got the warp on right now so I had the fun of just weaving for tonight.)

(Mustn't forget to add in the required merlot color of Virginia Tech for the fall, eh? Playing a bit with light and shadows here.)

So on Tuesday, I get a chirpy call from another female rep asking if they can come between noon and 5 pm. No, I say, I have a life and I can't do that. She pauses and sighes and I relent (because I'm sucker and a Southern one at that, taught to be polite and accomodating and I DO try til I'm crossed.) Alright, I can wait til 3 pm, how about that. Oh, perfect! was the response but she added that he would try to get here in the scheduled time period if he could.

Hmm. Now that left me not quite knowing exactly when he would get here. Anywhere from 8am to 3pm. Quite a gap. So I dragged myself out of bed (this is not funny. I do not care that most of the world functions as day people and some of them are even "morning" people. There was a reason I chose 3rd shift when I worked like other people and it had to do with this early morning allergy. I hates dragging out of bed.) Noon came and passed. Did I get anything accomplished with all those early lighted up hours referred to as "morning"? Some dusting. Well, a lot of dusting. Gee, that light does rather show the dust more. Yet another reason to avoid it. 3pm came and went. 4 pm. At 4:45pm, I gave up the teeth gnashing for the first service rep call. After the obligatory waiting period on hold (I think they just do this to weed out as many complaints as possible. Or possibly cause strokes from the fact this is just increasing your anger level and blood pressure. This is when the bluegrass was playing.) I got another chirpy-voiced woman who listened to my explaining that it was past time for the installation guy and where was he since he was supposed to have been here by 3pm. She asked what time was it? I said 4:45, now thinking about that Tuesday call and wondering exactly what time zone that service twit had been in that did the original re-scheduling. She put me on hold (Mozart, very soothing tune, don't know which one) and then said she'd called and the guy had gotten held up on a job and would be here by 6pm. I did tell her that as a new customer this was NOT the way to do business and it worried me about doing business with them and I wouldn't be so mad if they'd had the common courtesy to have called me earlier and said there was a delay. After all, I DO have a life, too, yes? Why, yes, she agreed, apologizing yet again. (Anything to get you off the phone, right?)

5pm. 6pm. 7pm. What do you know. It's fall now and guess what? It gets dark by 7:15. I did manage to wait til 8pm to place the 2nd outraged call but only because I'd been outraged by another company in another manner in the meantime but we'll get to that in a moment.

Mechanical voice this time, high volume of calls yet again. (Bad, bad feeling here.) This service rep is not only chirpy, she's bubbly, too. But I'm past polite. When she asks how she can help me tonight, I tell her I'm calling to report a missing installation guy and perhaps they should consider notifying the proper authorities since he sure ain't where he's supposed to be and hasn't been spotted in this location all day. I tell her how disappointed I am in her company, their lack of service, their inconsideration for their customers and pre-customers (yep, tendency to make up words when I'm angry. Family trait. Ask Techie Gal.) And she chirps "sorry" repeatedly all through it. Finally she says, well, I can re-schedule you for Tuesday if you'd like.

Tuesday. She repeated this a bit more hesitantly after she noticed I was pausing for a bit longer than she felt comfortable about. I replied it wasn't like I had a big choice in the matter, if I was going to get the tv service installed, I'd have to have someone come install it, right? I did make very sure we were scheduling this for the correct time zone, too. For all I know, some person on the West Coast got my tv service installed right on time at 3 pm PST.

(A shot of the back yard but I couldn't capture the gorgeous depth of the blue fall sky. But there isn't a cloud in it and that's important in the next chapter of this on-going tragi-comedy here.)

In the midst of all of this, my friend, the NC gal, arrived home to find bits and pieces of the looms we'd ordered dumped in her yard by a freighting company. The packages were mangled, holes involved, and who knows how many vital pieces, such as nuts, bolts, and screws, lying about. (And who knows where else they've been left lying whilst in transit?) A note was taped to the largest box explaining that the delivery person was sorry, whoever-the-heck she or he was couldn't carry it any farther.

Well, how polite to at least leave a note. This is the only time to be thankful for the drought we're having. I'm just amazed it didn't choose this moment to ease it by raining like a monsoon while those boxes were just lying about, mangled, torn, and available to anybody who drove by and was able to lift them. She had a worse fit than I did--of course, she was seeing the damage first-hand, I couldn't go over to investigate or help her since I was tied to my house, waiting for the MIA installation guy. She did take numerous photos before her husband arrived home and helped her get the boxes out of the yard and under shelter but we don't dare open them until the freight company's appointed claims investigator shows up and then we're going to take pictures of each and every phase of the opening of each box. We did take out proper value insurance but I have serious fears about what we're going to have to go through in order to get all those important bits and pieces (you know, nuts and bolts and screws hardly seem significant until your loom won't stand upright because it doesn't have any to hold it's frame in place, eh?) replaced that are missing, since the impression we got when seeing the condition our looms were delivered in does not exactly inspire confidence in the company's services. In fact, it gives you the same feeling I got from the tv service company and the service I was supposed to have received there. The non-existent service, that is.
But it got even better. Because when NC gal called to scream at these people (and she was screaming, ho, yes, boy, I can vouch for this), they said, oh, so the 4th box is okay then?

4th box? 4th box? What 4th box? We DID NOT get a 4th box. It's apparently off somewhere on a nice tour of the fall foliage.
All I can say is, I'm really very glad I'm not one of NC gal's students tomorrow. Not that she'd take this out on them but it would be very bad timing to ask for, say, an extension on an assignment.
So I'm not even going to attempt to explain the feelings or cursing elicited by this last tidbit of info. I'm sure you have enough imagination to fill that in for yourselves. I did manage the tiniest bit of knitting progress on Rogue. I have a sleeve cast on and 18 rows, not counting the hem, done. I spun a bit on the was-missing-but-now-is-found roving and managed to transfer my tension into it's twist. (hmm. Was missing but now is found. Talk about a hymnal association. Could lead me right into the strange doctor's waiting room conversation I had Tuesday but I'll save that one for my entry tomorrow.)
Let's leave with a nice photo of the Guardian of the Wool:

Sylvester. He's as old as the hills and misses Tech Gal something fierce. She always smuggled him into her bedroom. He pretty much just lies around in the available sunshine nowadays and sleeps but perks up when comes to visit. He's no fool. He knows she's still good for begging from, even now that she's got a family.
*"Bad Moon Rising" by Creedence Clearwater Revival, the Green River album (1969)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Rogue update

About 2 years ago, dear Tech Support Gal wanted a sweater. And the one she ended up choosing was Rogue, from The Girl from Auntie . We ordered several different wool yarns in a couple of colorways and after much mulling and hemming and hawing, chose a purple heathered superwash wool from Brown Sheep Co. in Plum Crazy. Then began the swatching phase. 4 swatches and washing and blocking of these swatches later, the proper size needles for flat and circular knitting and hems and such was all worked out. Then Josie decided she needed to become part of the family, so I put Rogue on the back-burner. After all, I saw no reason to knit Rogue for Techie while she went around in maternity clothes and by the time she'd be out of them, it would be too hot for Rogue. Plus Josie needed her own little baby outfits.

Fast forward to this past March. I pulled out all the materials and cast on Rogue. Techie chose the biased hem option and I worked steadily through it and all the cabling and the hoodie on the front and up to the middle of the hood. It hit the first of July. And the temperatures soared above 100F. Even with the a/c on, I could no longer continue with this lapful of wool. This will be one nice, warm sweater, let me vouch for that.

The weather has finally broken, though we contine in drought (rain, please, if anyone would like to wish their's our way, we'd sure appreciate it. Let's put it this way: we haven't done a full mow job on the lawn since July.) So I've picked Rogue back up and it's back in the rotation. The love for it is still there.

Here's a "Dementor" type shot of the hood. Love that all around cabling. But kitchenering those 38 stitches on the border band let my eyes twitching, hands trembling, and courage ebbing. My own fault for doing it at 11 pm at night. I actually like the kitchener grafting and use it alot but it's not something you should do with a lot of stitches without being well-rested and having good light. And no potential interruptions. Ay yi yi.

Here's a close up shot of the left side and hood edge. I love the way the cabling shows when it's worn and helps make this curve so nicely to fit a woman. And the hood edge does itself while you knit it. Neat trick.

The current state of Rogue. Lacking sleeves. And needing hemming and blocking. But giving a good idea of how gorgeous a design it is. This is my first cable project and I was able to navigate all through it with no problem. The Girl from Auntie is one genius designer in my book and I'm looking forward to tackling more of her designs. I give her 5 stars and do hope I've properly linked you to her site, not stolen bandwidth, and properly credited all these images.

I will admit to having not yet cast on the sleeves. This I blame on Techie, who got me hooked on a series of truly trashy vampire-related novels that honestly have no redeemable literary value other than they're fun to read. I just got the newest one and am only taking a break from it because my eyesight has blurred from having my nose stuck in it for the past few hours. I promise it will soon be on it's way to Maryland for Techie to get her next fix, too, since she let me borrow her's for the first few installments, it's only fair I spring for the next few.

This has allowed me to get over part of the grief caused by making some really lousy choices in the college football pool this week (good grief, whatever happened to thoe highly rated teams? West VA, you let me down bad. Oregon, I can't believe you failed me. I never give my heart to West Coast teams and this was the first time I let my guard down and look what happens. Quacked. Totally quacked.) This is made worse by the fact that my SIL decided to throw logic to the wind (which he NEVER does) and just made random picks, thus beating the 3 of us badly. I will just have to console myself by frequently repeating "The Red Sox won the division. The Red Sox won the division."
Our twin deer visited this evening. Back in the spring, we were delighted when a doe kept showing up in the evenings with twin fawns. They've visited more or less regularly throughout the summer but the doe has gone missing the past few weeks. The fawns are now all grown up and both does themselves. They still hang together and come browse in the open area between our woods late in the afternoon. I wish I could get a photo of them calmly grazing while Nuisance, our black lab, lays snoozing on the bank, completely oblivious. I hope they manage to survive hunting season and the winter and bring their own babies to visit next spring. The chances of this will be increased depending on whether or not Techie brings her hubby with her for the holidays, since they view them as supper on the hoof. Gaaa. Everytime I mention them, Techie starts spouting venison recipes. Shudder. Eat the Maryland deer but leave the twins alone, okay?
I leave this installment with a pic of one of my last roses of the year:

Not just because it's pretty but because I'm trying to improve those photography skills. I had to stand in a raised bed on one foot, pull thorny branches back with one hand, and properly focus all at the same time to get this shot. The only Photoshopping done to it was some cropping. So I rather like it.
Back to the trashy novel now. The sooner I finish it, the sooner I can start those sleeves, after all.


It seems my dear Tech Support has insinuated that I am one of the world's worst bloggers since I managed to disappear from the blogosphere for so long. However, I have been doing other things. To wit, knitting. Some spinning. A bit of weaving. Warping, un-warping, re-warping. Getting my started-to-be-woven piece cut off the loom and called a sampler by my friend and instructor and re-warping yet again. (I swear, this weaving business can kick your butt like you wouldn't believe.)
I did manage several knitting finishes in amongst all the weaving agony.

Behold, the Horcrux socks:

I also finished the christening gown/dressy dress set for my friend Angela's baby girl, Ella. Alas, I didn't have enough sense to take a picture before packing it off to her. The booties turned out too small but I've been assured the rest of the outfit does fit and I will get to see Ella modeling it in person at her baptism this Sunday. I will try to beg a good photo then.

I have finished up a sweater for Bridget, the Merry sweater from Elsebeth Lavold's Designer's Choice no. 11 in Hempathy (the green is not showing well in the pic. I tried Photoshopping it but I do not have the luck and experience Dear Tech Support has with this so imagine that the green stripe actually accentuates the other color stripes and doesn't really look all weird, washed out and blue-green in tone. It doesn't in Real Life). I also finished Josie's sweater, a cute little pattern from Plymouth.

Merry. In all it's strange green-striped glory. Honest, it's not that much blue in that green yarn.

Josie's cardigan. The little buttons will go on the front. The yarn is Cotton Classic from Tahki Stacy Charles and is the first cotton I've ever knitted with. I quite liked the feel of it. And the orange color is much brighter in person. (Yes, I know I need to improve my photography skills. Techie is working hard on that, too. Yet another reason I fall behind blogging. I have so much on my list, I seem to keep putting the blogging at the bottom.)

I've done a bit of spinning lately. I'm continually amazed at how much I enjoy spinning, either with my spindle or on my wheel. I did finish another pair of plain Regia socks in blues and a skein of homespun but they went off to be part of our local fiber guild's (the Indigo Guild) exhibit at a local library. I do hope I get the socks back soon. I don't want cold toes.

Spinning exhibit no. 1:

100% African wool, hand-dyed from Black Bunny Fibers. I think it looks like a Creamsicle being spun up. It has a very nice, soft hand and is keeping it's loft and letting me control it very well. (I haven't any delusions regarding my spinning abilities. I'm still the veriest beginner and I thank the roving for cooperating.)
Spinning exhibit no. 2:

Blue faced Leicester. My fave roving. I love BFL better than any other I've tried so far, including my merino/silk combo, though it WAS a close call there. This was also snatched from Black Bunny Fibers before anyone else could get it. Now this roving decided to play a prank on me. It took a hike halfway through it's spinning. I almost filled this bobbin and put it and my wheel away when Tech Support arrived the last of August with the hubby and kids for a visit. Afterwards, I couldn't find the other half of the roving to finish my spinning. I was pretty devastated. First, because several people asked me if I was certain I actually had another 4 ounces of this roving (in that tone reserved for people whose memory and senility is being questioned. As if I'd forget what roving I have stashed. I've not been spinning long enough to lose roving, people. Yarn, yes. Roving, no. I'm still working on that.) Second, because it was actually spinning up to a gauge I wanted. And I had a project picked out for it that it would work for. My first time for that to occur as a spinner! Of course, I knew there was more of this somewhere in this house!
Now the strange thing is that I searched everywhere 3 different times. Through every bin, every box, every huge ziplock storage bag solution container I owned, the closets and the shelves. Nowhere to be found. So I pulled the bobbin off the Louet and started the Creamsicle yarn.
Guess what I found in the roving bin the next morning? And now don't you think the roving bin was the first, second, and third place I checked during all this frantic searching. Oh, yeah. This roving may think I don't know it went time-travelling or slipped into an alternate dimension for 3 weeks but I do. That's the only explanation for it's disappearance and re-appearance in a place that had been thoroughly and completely searched 3 times. It's now safely ensconced in the WIP bin on the bookshelf where I can keep it in sight at most times until it's all spun, plied, knitted, and felted into baby booties. No more slip-sliding away.
The only other great news is that I finally got my Ravelry invite. I'm HokieKnitter and I've managed to actually make more progress getting stuff on there than here. Which isn't to say much but hey, I'm trying. After all, the month of October doesn't include a trip to Richmond for a Human Right's Seminar (left me foaming at the mouth a bit. The war between civil rights for those with mental disorders and their civil liberties and the prevention of violence has become the Hot Topic after April 16th. My contention is why is there even a label "mental illness" still existing? Medical science has proven these diseases are neurochemical. You can't take your brain out of your body so why isn't it all under "physical diseases". It's in your brain, after all. Let's get out of the 15th century. See what a rant I could go on?) It also hopefully won't include me falling ill with a nasty bug and taking 9 days to recover, thus losing 9 days I could have being doing something useful with.
So my October resolution to Techie Support Gal is to attempt to be a better blogger. You may have noted though, amongst all the photos I included, that all those sweaters are knitted but not seamed together. Er, I seem to have developed a following-through problem. So we'll see how this goes.
Next update: Rogue progess. I promise. :-)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Melting on Many Fronts

The only thing I seem to be making any progress on these last few days is the Horcrux sock and that is due to my continuing obsession with the pattern and the yarn. But even it has been slow. It's hard to knit anything when the thermometer reads 102 F at 4 pm EST.

Please note that I did try to Photoshop out all parts of my pale toes and leg. As you can gather from the tiny glimpses I couldn't cut out, I avoid the sun at all costs. True, I can't run around looking halfway decent in shorts or a skirt without the aid of pantyhose but it does make this yarn colorway even more neon against that totally pale background.

A flat shot. It is, after all, extremely difficult to take a photo of a sock on your own foot. I love the heel. I love heels in sock knitting anyway. That's where the magic occurs, when you turn the heel and there appears this perfectly fitted cup that conforms so nicely to your own heel (or should if you haven't managed to either choose the wrong style heel for your foot or messed up your measurements). I didn't use the heel flap that the pattern called for, I used my regular slip1, knit1 ribbed-appearing heel flap. I'm sure it has a name but I don't know what it is. It's the first one I learned and it wears the best for me. I did use the heel turn from the pattern though, which produced a much more square heel that wraps around under the bottom of my foot more than my usual round heel, short-rowed partially wrapped method. I like the way it looks. We shall see about how it fits during wear.

Brenda, you should come join in the sock groups. But I will warn you they are extremely addictive. I'm already thinking ahead to the August sock (which shows I am already behind since it's August and I'm not knitting the August sock) and the Louet Gems grey yarn that also came from Mosaic. This link leads to the shop webpage instead of the shop blog (Hi, Gina! Gee, I didn't even notice those cool overhead windows when I was in the shop, I was way too busy jumping into all the yarn bins.)

The christening gown has grown by 2 inches and is now at 6 inches long. It's supposed to be 20.5 inches long before you divide for the bodice. I really would prefer to make it a shorter version since I'm thinking to add either a cute pair of lacy booties or socks to the set plus I can't think about sticking a baby in a long dress when it's 102 F. I know it won't be that hot if I can finish it in time for the baby concerned to actually use it for the occasion concerned but it stays hot here until October. Forget those long sleeves, too. It's either going to be a crocheted edging, maybe something picoted or a picot bind-off or just a little bit of a cap sleeve. I keep having these terrible thoughts of the acrylic melting on the poor kid. BTW, the christening dress and bonnet pattern are from MinnowKnits, Too by Jil Eaton. I've done several of the baby outfits from this book and they've all turned out very well. (Yes, I fooled around with modifying the instructions but I can't seem to follow directions so this is my default setting and the designer's instructions are very well written and will work extremely well for those of you not afflicted with this particular syndrome).

Mystery Stole 3 is quietly resting in the time-out bin where it's been for the past 4 days. I finally thought I had a quiet moment to work on it and did only 2 rows and found myself a stitch short at the end of them. This has to do with the phone ringing and my mother showing up in the middle of the row. I'm new to lace knitting and I have to have solitude to work on this and this was not what I got so now I have to go searching for the missing stitch. If I could find some solitude. It's been sadly lacking this week.

I will invite you to go browse over at Kelly's blog, link in my sidebar, for some of the great scrap layouts she's done, plus she's done one for the Brown Dog himself. He was rather insulted that she implied he needed her permission to stay here but did like the page itself.

The Inconvenient Truth

Now I will venture off into a totally different subject from knitting and that's being Green and carbon emissions. The Tech Gal and her hubby belong to an entirely different political and philosophical bent than I do and this has led to some extremely interesting debates. Much more interesting than the current US Presidential debates because they have a tendency to avoid answering the questions directly, give the exact same cookie-cutter answers they always give, or use the questions as an opportunity to tout some plan they've touted numerous times before that circles back around to not answering the blooming question in the first place. We don't have that problem. We don't avoid the questions, we don't give the same answers, and Heaven knows, we've been known to get very inventive in our solutions, considering they lean one way and I lean the other. We have, at some points, leaned so totally opposite each other, that we have managed to be a very balanced combination. This subject of Greeness seems to be very Politically Correct nowadays and a hot topic. (like the weather it's supposed to be contributing to, eh?) I've always advocated not being wasteful and doing what you could to help out the enviroment, would never dream of throwing trash out the car window, switched to fluorescent lighting (true, the claim a fluorescent bulb would last so much longer was a big factor when it seemed everytime I turned on a light, it popped.) Took some getting used to the different type of light these bulbs give off but I did install them. So I saw that Yahoo had a new category on it's homepage yesterday called "Green".

Naturally, I was curious. I browsed about it for a bit and then decided to take the Calculate Your Impact Test. There are only 7 questions and frankly, I don't think they reflect my impact whatsoever. No "which kind of light bulbs do you use?" or "do you recycle" or "paper or plastic or your own grocery tote bags". So what if I drive an SUV? It's one of the best-rated for gas mileage and there are hybrid SUV's out there. That's not taken into account. And why would you stick my very-well-reseached and chosen-for-it's-gas-mileage SUV in with pick-up trucks and put vans and mini-vans in a separate class? Plus don't tell me to take the transit. There is NO transit in the sticks, boys. (and girls. Let's not be gender-biased, shall we?) Plus I really don't like having to climb my icy, snow-covered hill on foot after negotiating icy, snow-covered roads. It does snow and ice in America and yes, you do need a vehicle that will let you get about in it. Toting tons of groceries up said hill in snow and ice with a wind chill factor of minus 10 sucks. Add in rheumatoid arthritis and asthma and what these weather conditions will do to those and the danger of falling, well, I don't consider this a vehicle I bought for appearances.

We could also go into the fact that yes, I do have 3 bedrooms but the size of mine as opposed to the size of, say, my mom's, is significant. So is what level I set my thermostat on but hey, that's not a category nor is what I use to power my heating/air-conditioning/hot water unit.

But if you find you score WAY over the top as opposed to "the average American" (btw, who IS the average American?), you can bop off to Terrapass and assuage your guilt by buying carbon credits since our government refuses to pony up and join the rest of the world by signing the Kyoto Protocol. (You know, the summit where everyone agreed to cut carbon emissions and promptly starting buying and selling carbon credits amongst each other. Now, how it helps to sell your carbon emissions to a country that has their's under control instead of doing something to curtail it and thus save the world from global warming, which I thought was the entire purpose of the thing, I don't get but I'm digressing.)

Since the American government refused to join in this world thingy, corporations, states, and individuals have taken on the challenge of finding ways to cut carbon emissions themselves. This is a good thing. After all, when this country was first founded, it was founded on the principle of states' rights before federal ones and the federal ones have gotten just a bit out of hand. Of course, the states don't get a passing grade for slacking then trying to blame it on the feds when things go awry. The whole concept of being American used to stand for individuality. So individuals taking on the challenge of fixing things gone awry should be what would be best. However, telling me that I'm polluting with carbon emissions big time but I can take care of the matter by bopping over to the Terrapass site and paying them around $300 just doesn't cut it in my book. First of all, I don't have $300 to give them. Second of all, in checking on them and their practices, they seem very laudatory on the surface. A bunch of Wharton School students who went out and are trying to promote alternative energy usages to cut our dependence on fossil fuels and cut carbon emissions. I'll leave it up to you to go read their website and it's description of what they say they do. It's at TerraPass.

This all sounds very good. I'm not totally dissing TerraPass. But I'm suspicious of companies suddenly springing up to do this sort of thing without a background being laid out for what they'll do, how all fiscal information will be disclosed, how all the money is spent (I'm not saying they shouldn't keep some money, you've got to have money to pay for office space, the utility bills, employee's salaries, etc.) as in how much is pure profit for the company after everything else is taken into account and who gets that pure profit? And this is not directed vindictively and solely at this one company. There are others out there doing this same thing. This suspicious attitude of mine was prompted by the "go pay $300" and by reading this article while researching carbon emission exchange companies in general, written by Business Week called "Another Inconvenient Truth" Let's just say, now I'm totally confused and once again have reason to distrust yet another portion of our American world. But then I distrust anything in our American world today that offers to help for a price tag. It seems to me we've gotten very far away from our roots of the best way of fixing a problem being that of pitching in and doing the work to correct it, not throwing money at.

This worst thing about this is the fact I'll be able to hear my son-in-law laughing after reading this all the way up in Maryland. No, I've not come over to the Dark Side yet. But I am looking for a nice place to anchor my safety line.

BTW, if you feel the need to bash me over the head for this opinion, please take the time to coherently and politely explain why. I don't have in-depth knowledge of this subject and I do like reading and learning others' opinions. I DO NOT like flames for the sake of being rude. This is yet another place I feel society in general is failing and falling apart in. Call me ignorant and tell me why but call me names and get banned. Fair enough?

Monday, August 6, 2007

News Flash: New Obsession Gets in Way of Finishing Other Knitting

Okay, so maybe that isn't such a newsflash to most knitters. Knitter's ADD seems to be a fairly commonly occurring symptom amongst most knitters I've spoken to. But this is what I've been working on and really should be desperately striving to finish:

The bonnet and christening dress. Yes, I did warn you that the yarn was fairly lifeless in it's present state. And I haven't totally finished the bonnet-there are several cute little details still involved before it will baby-worthy. The photo doesn't really show it well. You do those little triangles and join them together and, on the bonnet, you then do a reverse stockinette section that allows you to turn the triangle brim back and insert a ribbon before sewing it down. Plus I have finishing to do around the bottom edges that will even up the looseness of it and put a gather at the back of the nape. That mess on the circular around the doggie's neck is the bottom of the dress so far. See the gazillion ends to be woven in? They're not actually as bad as they appear. Half of them are already woven as I knit the triangles together and simply need to tucked and trimmed. The points where I cast on will have to be woven though. Ah, well....

This is where the diverting obsession comes in. As mentioned before, I found and joined the Six_Sox_Knitalong Yahoo group and promptly fell into a swoon. The socks for August are fantastic but I simply had to do the Horcrux socks first. Can you believe I've already gotten this much knitted in just 4 hours of working on them? (Yes, I've timed this. I've timed it because I find I resent doing anything other than knitting on these socks with this yarn and so I found myself counting the minutes I do get to spend playing with them.)

The yarn is Fleece Artist 100% Merino and I don't know if it's showing up on your monitors as well as it does in real life. In real life, it's a dazzling, almost-neon combo of orange, yellow, and a strange kind of brilliant orangey-red-pink. Definitely not socks for the shy. I'm so looking forward to wearing these with the Mary Jane-type shoes I bought specifically because they will show my hand-knitted socks.

I managed to fall into a bit of Yarn Heaven on Friday. It was a tax free weekend for clothing and school items here in Virginia and Martha and I took off early to Christiansburg to go mall hopping. After all, she is a teacher and yes, they do need clothes to wear to school, too. I found some nice clothing deals and even acquired my dear Tech Support gal herself and her hubby a few things. She is still in school, too, and even though it's online classes, it's nice to have clothes on while studying, eh?

Now, if you live anywhere near this area, it's pretty evident that Blacksburg is just a hop, skip, and a jump away, especially with the advent of the new road. So in a very few minutes and with very little persuading of Martha (oh, look, I happen to have directions to Mosaic in Blacksburg. Wow, let's go check it out!), we were on our way. It was very strange and sad to drive past the Virginia Tech campus. Outwardly, it's still the same lovely campus I've always known but the sadness you feel going by is indescribable. It's also there in the townspeople you speak to.

Mosaic is a bit of yarn heaven in Blacksburg. They are the yarn shop that came up with, coordinated and sewed together the blanket squares into blankets for the families of the victims and the wounded survivors of the April 16th tragedy. I was honored and saddened and silenced when I got to touch the few remaining blankets that are still at the shop, awaiting delivery to their intended recipient.

But they are also a bunch of fun-loving, chatty, welcoming knitters. Huge enablers. Not that you need their help with the enabling. Just walking into the shop was enabling enough. Yarn, yarn, and more yarn, all wonderfully displayed to it's best advantage. A nice table in the center of the shop to sit and talk and knit. A nice couch to crash on while looking through magazines and pattern books and discussing best yarn options for this or that pattern and whether the design will suit you. Enough yarn fumes to guarantee that, at some point, you'll have a slight dizzy spell and in falling down, swipe your debit/credit card a la Yarn Harlot style.

I promised them a glowing blog review and here it is. The Fleece Artist sock yarn came from their shop as did several other sock yarns I picked up. I mean, they had yarns I'd only ever either heard others speak of or had seen online. Being able to actually pick up and fondle, er, feel the yarn itself in person is so much better. And they didn't mind their yarn being cuddled, er, checked out for softness factor at all.

The only problem is that this is a serious hazard to my finishing up the projects that HAVE to be finished this month. After all, I still have only have of that loom warped.

Knitman, I thank you for your kind comment on my spinning/sunset colors.

As for me, I've gotta go get my fix, I mean I've got to go watch The Closer and knit on my sock. It's it's allotted time, after all.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Slogging In Place

First, Pedro wishes to thank Michele and a:-) for the kind comments. Yes, Eileen, he still loves you, too, and knows you understand you are his first West Coast sweetie. I just hope his head doesn't get any bigger than it already is.

I've missed blogging the past few days because each and everytime I attempt to, lightning literally strikes. The thrill of living in Virginia in the summertime. You spend most of the day feeling like you're covered by a huge wet woolen blanket if you have to be outside and then, sooner or later, it storms. If it would storm and alleviate the heat and humidity, that would be one thing. But what usually happens is that it pours a sudden monsoon-like downpour of rain, thunder is heard booming for miles, and lightning plays all about the house. If you're lucky and quick, you can get everything unplugged and the a/c off before it hits. This is if you're home. If you're not lucky, you get to replace the a/c unit or the computer or the modem gets fried or a tree falls on something you wouldn't wished it wouldn't have. Ah, well. I still love my house on the hill next to the woods and that's part of living here.

I've had several projects in the works for the last couple of months and been really, really faithful to them. However, that dread disease, Startitis, cropped up about a week ago. Hmm, about the same time I suddenly went AWOL here, eh? I'd like to blame it on Eileen, who kept talking about it but she knows me too well and that I can not be expected to be anything other than a polygamist at the best of times. I found myself looking through magazines, browsing every link anyone mentioned on any list I'm on (and I'm on quite a few), and checking every online shop I have bookmarked, which are also quite a few since I have them for knitting, spinning, and weaving. Guess what? If you're busy browsing, you're not knitting. Or spinning. Or weaving.
So I have exactly this much progress to report on my beautiful roving.

This is it before I started spinning it:

I think it looks like the colors of the sunset I managed to take some snapshots of the other night:

This is the Welsh wool I really liked the looks of when I bought it. Plus it was named "Kelly". I thought it had to be for me. But it and I have not gotten along well at all. Hence the BFL on the bobbin in the flyer instead of it. Those are prickly bits sticking out here and there, if you can tell from my still blurry photos. This is first macro attempt shot, courtesy of Tech Support herself, who recommended I try that to see if it helped.

And this is how much I've gotten done on my weaving the past week:

The idea is that since I'm using the same number of epi's, I only need to tie my new warp onto the ends I had already left after I cut my last project off. (Yes, photos of it will be forthcoming. It's just awfully long and I haven't quite figured out how best to photo it. Not that that matters with the quality of photos I'm exhibiting so far.)
I did finish up the baby bonnet that goes with the christening dress. I chose to use Reynold's Utopia for the yarn, in white. Now it is 100% acrylic and I frankly don't like acrilyc but it feels really soft and it's washable and dryable. But after I finished the bonnet, I discovered it's also totally limp. There is no life to it. No crispness. But what do you do when it's in the 90's (F) and the humidity's killer? I don't have time for a cobwebby heirloom lacey set. And that's about the only way you could do that in this kind of weather. Silk would be as lifeless, as well as let's realize there's none in the stash. Linen. Well, yeah, that would have worked but is somewhat beyond my price range. So it's going to have to be the thought that counts. I mean, it's going to be perfectly fine and it's pretty and all, I just don't like the yarn personally for this project. But I'm forging on and have the 13 triangles knit for the bottom of the dress. That is the sum total of my week's knitting--a bonnet and 13 triangles that felt more like I was knitting 13 gazillion triangles. I thought I'd never get them done. I'm still only 5 rows into Clue 3 on the Mystery Stole 3 and guess what? Clue 5 gets posted tomorrow and so, since I haven't any other projects I really need to do, I went and joined the Six_Sox_Knitalong.
But it was totally worth it. I absolutely love knitting socks and the one for August is wonderful. I do need a solid sock yarn to do it in though and guess what? I haven't any solids at all. Which will lead me right back to where I was at the first of the week--browsing the Internet for something else to either start or buy. Which brings me to Eileen's comment on the name of the mystery sock yarn. No, it isn't Regia. It looks quite a bit like Regia but has a heavier hand to it. I got it on my little expedition up North where I shopped my way through about 6 states. I'm pretty sure it had "Raggi" in the name.
I do have one good thing to report: I got into my spinning class at SAFF. It's the second level one and it'll be my first time to go to SAFF, so I'm really excited about it.
Well, I'm going to go do some actual knitting now. Pedro says buenos tardes to all his fans.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tech Support

Mom can erase this and fill in the info.
What fun would erasing your contribution be? I'll just work around it, shall I? After all, we're in this together and heaven knows, I couldn't do without you. Besides, I still love you because you're my daughter and not just because you happen to be really, really good at being my techie.

Mamaw and her scarf.
It isn't a scarf, dear Techie, it's actually a shawl but she wouldn't hold it wide so I could show this.

Josie's socks. Yes, Tech Support Kelly is correct. I definitely need to improve my photo taking skills. Even she, with all her expertise and fancy software, couldn't unblur (de-blur?) this pic. But you get the general idea....I can't quite remember the yarn due to throwing the ball band away after I knit the first pair of socks out of the skein, those being for my feet, but do think they had something like "Raggi" in the title. I do like the yarn though and hope I can recognize it if I ever come across it again.

Yellow yarn. But not just any yellow yarn. This is 100% Masham, handdyed from Black Bunny Fibers and my favorite I've spun so far. I spindle-spun half of it and wheel-spun the other half and then plied them together. The spindle-spun yarn was a tad bit more energized than it should ideally have been but I washed the yarn and then dried it with the weight on it method. I think it will bias well in knitting it up and it's intended to be wrist-warmers for this winter.

Sweater: The Merry Sweater for Bridget. An Elsebeth Lavold design, done in Hempathy. I love the colors, the feel of the yarn. The photo frankly doesn't do much for it. Let's just say it's still "under construction" and forgive it's general lack of looking as good here as it will when it's finished.

Mom's (That's me, the mom of Tech Support and slave to the Brown Dog) flowers:
Pink ice. I didn't think it would bloom this year but then I found it in full color, 3 weeks later than it was supposed to have bloomed.

Storm's A Comin'
This has been just about an every afternoon sight. Not quite as pretty as this one was, with the trailers of light streaming through the storm clouds but definitely have been being hit with daily thunderstorms and some nasty lightning. One of the reasons the blogging has been behind. Not too smart to try to do anything on the computer when the lightning is dancing about the house that you chose to build on a hilltop.

Pedro prefers the Vintage Look

Well, Pedro says he'll think about whether or not he prefers this vintage look to the original "modern" photo. He's willing to see if it gets any positive comments once we ever manage to get comments at all.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Soggy, soggy, and more sogginess

This has been the view from the front porch the past few days. The view, that is, when it isn't either pouring rain, flashing lightning, or doing both at the same time. I'd love to post the pretty pictures of the bright yellow Masham yarn I spun to offset this gloom but my photo editor and all-around tech support person (aka Kelly) hasn't gotten around to editing my newest photos due to having 2 babies to deal with and attempting to read Harry Potter in between the baby-dealing. I'm not fussing about this since I have Mamaw on me because I can't seem to get the photos my brother took on his digital camera (which used to be mine) to get off the camera card and onto my computer. I have practically stood on my head trying every option I can to get this to happen and all of them have failed. Now this camera never acted like this with me. And I know there are pictures on the darned thing-I can see them on the digital camera screen. They just prefer to stay where they are. So this photo of a storm brewing on the horizon is doubly appropriate since it is positioned over Mamaw's house and is probably being partially generated by her irritation at my failure to comply with her instructions.
I did go to weaving last night. I most definitely missed my friend, Martha, greatly because it allowed Evelyn, our teacher, to focus her full attention on me. Before this, I've been able to quietly slip my mistakes by and fix them without being caught since she was helping Martha. (Yes, Martha, I DO appreciate the distractions you create in class!) However, I was well and truly taught last night. I did manage to finish winding all of my warp, which seem to be an endless chore, and start warping. I only got 10 ends on before class ended and I was totally paranoid all the way home that the rest of the warp would fall off and I'd lose my cross and well, that would be a total tangled disaster. I did successfully get home without having to jam on the brakes or make any other sudden manuvers that might have juggled the loom.

I finished up the baby socks last night but again, the photos are with Kel. Please do not expect wonderful photos. She has informed me that my photography skills are sadly lacking and most of what I sent her was out of focus. Yet another blow to my ego.

So, in an attempt to divert you from the fact that I haven't any spinning, weaving, or knitting to show you, here is the one flower I did manage to grow successfully this summer. My clematis. It was only a small twig with 2 blooms last year but had a ton of blossoms this year. Good thing, nothing else quite managed to recover from our late frost.

Now that I've prattled on about little of nothing, I think I'll go and do some actual knitting. I found out last night that yet another friend is joining the ranks of grandmother-hood and I will need to add to the list of baby items I want to knit. Please note the "want". If only there wasn't a need for sleep, I might actually finish up all the items I want to knit, to weave, and to spin before I run out of time to do such things.

Bridget would say, would you like a lollipop with that whine?