Wednesday, January 31, 2007

orange square, thinking, skiing

Yes, I've been thinking again. Here, let's get the knitting content taken care of first, then you can navigate away if bathroom philosophy is not your bag. (That would be deep thoughts that come to one in the bathroom, NOT thoughts about the potty! Good grief. And why am I having deep thoughts in the bathroom? Well, isn't that about the only quiet place in the house? Yes.) What were we talking about?

I finished my square for the square-along out of the Knit Picks Bare 100% merino that I dyed with Kool-Aid. (Please, if you click on that link, forgive me for posting my dirty laundry on the internet. Apparently I have no shame. I know. Can you believe I actually put my dirty laundry on the internet? I've lost something here--Sense of proportion? Decency? Marbles?) Back to the knitting! [sound of whip cracking] Making this square made me want to knit a wee baby blanket for Kristen's pea-in-the-pod. Maybe I could get some other knitters to do some squares, too. Bueller? Bueller? (I'm fishing for replies here, Wendi and Julie. Anyone else?) Little squares like these are SO easy and quick!

May I just wax poetic for a moment about the color orange?

O orange, glow and gleam--
Thy radiance is of the sun
Whose beams, captured here
Burn eyes, but not skin.

Thank you for your patience.

So I was in the shower this morning, and I started thinking about how I was in Colorado last week, unknowingly mere minutes away from Marly and how fun and easy it would have been to hop in the car and go meet her. So as I stood there this morning getting pruny (it takes me a long time to have these deep thoughts) I pondered the emergence of a new social construct. I am becoming acquainted, nay, friends with people whom I'll possibly never meet in person. We share a passion for fiber arts and that has brought us to this medium, blogging, wherein we write about our knitting, certainly, but also we mix in intimate details of our lives. (Like dirty laundry, for Pete's sake. Sheesh.) A person like me has to be careful not to get sucked into reading blogs to the point of negecting her own life. It's the same problem I have with being drawn into a book and binge-reading until I'm done--except with blogs, there is no tidy ending. (Don't worry, I've discovered the solution for me: 15 minutes a day for blog reading--then I back away from the computer.)

Anyway--I was considering the network of relationships around the world, virtual friendships that enlarge the average person's circle of influence beyond what would ever have occurred in the past. Is this good? Is this bringing heightened awareness of the human family to which we all belong and increasing our understanding? Is this bad? Is this just feeding and unleashing the inner narcissist? Hmmm.

I went skiing last night! It was my first time downhill skiing and I loved it. My church had a night-skiing event and my older kids really wanted to go--so Eric stayed home with the little ones and I hit the slopes. I used to cross-country ski when I was young, but racing downhill, on the verge of collision and wipe-out is exhilarating! It's just one big adrenaline rush. No wonder people pay a lot of money for it. We've got a great little ski area nearby (30-45 minute drive, depending on RV encounters) and I want to go again--today and the next day and the next day...I'm already plotting the balaclavas and wool socks that I'll need to knit to be properly outfitted. Knitting and skiing, what a perfect combination. I can't believe I didn't see it before.

Friday, January 26, 2007

baby sweaters! (or baby anything, really)

KNITTING FOR BABIES! Is there anything better? No, there isn't. It's the best. So we need a knitalong, don't you think? Yes, we do. I made a blog to go with it and everything! Now we just need some joiners. Anyone? Anyone want to join and show us what you're knitting for baby? Well, maybe it's just the three of us, but it's going to be AWESOME. TOTALLY. Maybe even TUBULAR!

Here's the link. Here's the button:

I had thought that I'd start with the Pea Pod Baby Set (because basically, it's the eponym and motivator of this KAL) for my little PeeWee, but then, fickle knitter that I am, I saw this! A Cardigan for Merry. I am a sucker for Lord o' the Rings-themed apparel. Did you see the clasp on the bracelet in my last post? I totally want to get another one and use it on a long elfin cape. (I know, I'm a Middle-Earth nerd, but I'm not afflicted nearly to the degree as dear Wendi, who tells me that she's probably so short from spending her adolescence as a Hobbit.) But I digress. Anny Purls is inspired. Her other baby (and adult, too!) knits are fantastic. Go look! So this baby cardi is what I'm going to do next, after I get the testalong-knitalong items squared (heh) away. But what yarn? Hmmm. Suggestions?

***Edited to add:

I was just pulling out my winter 2006 Interweave Knits magazine to look at the pattern for A Cardigan for Arwen, upon which the above-mentioned Cardigan for Merry is based. Guess what? I can't believe that I didn't note this before, but Arwen is designed by none other than Pea Pod Baby Set's designer, the august Kate Gilbert! Well tan my hide and fry me brown, as Abner's Ma would say. You may call me a fan, because I love her designs! Maybe we should rename this KAL as the Kate Gilbert fan-along.


RESPONSIBILITY. Its a heavy word. I did not embrace it today. I am not embracing it even now. E is gone on a trip (another one-man show!) and I find myself staying up late, watching movies he wouldn't like and eating stinky cheese.

Today I didn't do any of this:

You all are so lucky that the battery in my camera pooped out. You've been spared highly embarrassing pictures of my kitchen sink and my family room. It's Julie's fault. She needed reassurance because she was suffering under the mistaken impression that I'm spending all sorts of time making stuff AND my house is clean. HAHAHAHAHAHA. You know me better than that, Julie.

So what else did I do today to avoid that stuff up there? First I did this.(But Mom, where did all your pretty sparkly silver hair go?)

And while I was at the salon, I finished this.It's Eric's Christmas scarf. [embarrassed tittering] Too bad he's gone to Aspen and doesn't have it.

Then I came home and finished up dyeing this. I used 3 packages of orange, 3 packages of tamarind, and one package of black cherry Kool-aid. It smells great. It's for the square-along, since I'm too selfish to use up any of the sock yarn I have for anyone else.

Then in the afternoon, I finished reknitting the meathead hats that were picked by Larissa for her book. I've been letting my kids wear them and the originals are all squirrely. I'll shoot photos of the do-overs tomorrow and get them sent off like I was supposed to two weeks ago.

Finally, tonight was my spinning class! I made the children a colorful, if not nutritious meal of Mac-o-cheese, pickles, and chocolate milk. Then I ran off to see what I could make of all that wool I washed in my bathtub. What did I make? My very first handspun yarn. Yay! I'm a little behind the rest of the class because I missed last week, but I've got a good start! We're learning first on drop spindles. In a couple of weeks we get to use wheels. Yeah baby.

P.S. There's a bead shop next door to the salon. I went in. I beaded. I love it. Can you see the bitty bee charm dangling there?

Today was a completely self-indulgent day.

Monday, January 22, 2007

blue, er--purple Monday

I'm home! I'm so glad to be home. I will grab a few moments while I wait for the next load of laundry to post some glamour shots of the Purple and Brown Wrap. (Why do I feel the need to name my handknits? And it's such a creative name...) My wrap, which had mostly been knitted the car while waiting for children to attend various lessons, was completed on the road this past weekend. I was knitting as fast as I could to make the deadline on the 20th for photos to the pattern designer Sarah. I managed to take that squirrely photo that's in the previous entry, but I couldn't get it to upload to flickr! Grrr. It's just as well. I'm saved the task of deleting it to make way for these pictures...

(The ornate frame on this painting suits the wrap, don't you think?)

"In the morning the wrap remained where she had flung it after the show--on the corner of her favorite painting..." (As I said in the caption on flickr, please forgive my third-person narration, but this romantic wrap inspires all sorts of storytelling in my head.)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

unfortunately, I don't ski

I'm in Beaver Creek, Colorado. What a gorgeous place. Eric had a gallery opening last night and tonight. We got put up in a posh hotel by the gallery and fed superb food at fantastic restaurants. We brought PeeWee (of course, because I don't leave home without her) and Big Sister (because she needed a little spoiling and because she functions beautifully as a built-in babysitter). Big Sister and I shopped a little, messed around a lot, and went ice skating this afternoon. It's just as well that I don't ski, because I would have to sell one of my kids on eBay to afford lift tickets and equipment here.

I finished my wrap for the wrapalong-knitalong and I'm going to try to upload some pictures of it. This WiFi connection has been a little spotty, so we'll see...
Ta Da!!!! It worked! The colors are a little weird because I borrowed a camera from the gallery for this shot and I had to use a flash. I'll be home Sunday evening, and I'll get better pictures then.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

123's and abc's

First of all, y'all knitters should go look at januaryone's post about casting on for ribbing. Fanfreakingtastic! I used an alternating cast-on like she shows for Joe's ill-fated brioche-stitch hat, but didn't realize what it was until I read Cara's explanation and realized that I could do it for ANY ribbing!

On with the backwards Jackson 5 reference: I grabbed this meme from Rebekah (I followed a link from Wendy Knits this morning when I should have been working on my taxes. I know, it's only January, but I have to have them done by the end of this week for other reasons. bleah. Yes, I'll go back to them in a minute...) So anyway, I saw this meme and since I figured that no one would be tagging me for it, I'm going to crash the party and tag myself! It's such a nice, literary meme that I had to do it.

The Page 123 Meme
1. Grab the book closest to you.
2. Open to page 123, look down to the 5th sentence.
3. Post the text of the next 3 sentences on your blog.
4. Include the title and the author's name.

See? Who could resist that? Since I'm a rule-breaking party-crasher, I'm going to take the liberty of changing item #3. I'm going to post the text of the next 5 sentences, because I live by the motto that more is better. So here's mine:

After the shearing Jo had gone home and stunned them all with her sacrificial present, the profit from her bounteous hair, her one beauty, as her sisters so backhandedly put it.
"If Marmee had begged Jo to go cut off her hair and sell it," Swede hypothesized, "I wonder how heroic a thing it would have been."
I didn't say anything. But I thought: Aw, crumb.

Here are some of the things we bought, Swede and I, having propped Dad in bed with a a cup of beef tea: Aunt Jemima syrup in a brown bottle, twenty pounds of white Robin Hood flour, a sack of raisins and another of currants, two gallons of whole milk, a three-pound can of Hills Brothers coffee, a box of chocolates, free, Otto Schock swore, of clandestine jellies, and a Christmas turkey, purchased live from the poultry man on the edge of town, who had me hold the bird's legs as he beheaded it--how they flailed and pounded in my palms; that creature just flung me all over the yard. (Peace Like a River by Leif Enger)

No, it's not Dickens, but MAN, this guy can crank out the long sentences. I love this book. It was one of my book club's picks about two years ago, and the shelf of books-I-really-love is to my left with this book sitting closest. I was sorely tempted to pull out The Count of Monte Cristo or The Glass Castle (this month's book) or maybe My Antonia to see which page 123 had the best selection. I think this will be fine, although we just barely missed a sentence in which Mr. Enger worked in the words "mien" and "sagacious".

I've been entertained by other's meme posts in the past and even done one. I pooped out on the alphabetic meme after Cara gave me the letter V and I could only think of things like ventriloquism. I think I should probably steer clear of meme's about ME (who wants to know about me and my laundry?) but I love reading them from other bloggers. It's the voyeur in me. Maybe I should try again with that letter V thing. I have a problem with vacillating--should I publish this whiny post or not? Usually I choose not. I wrote a big long post about voice and my deep inner need to find my own, but it was consigned to the void of unpublished posts that I'll stick in a journal instead. The abc-themed meme is supposed to have 10 words starting with a particular letter that represent concepts/themes in a person's life. I haven't done it properly, but I'm going to list a few more V-words and call it done. (By the way, that's the fleece I washed for my spinning class.)

1) Violets--All that I hold dear about my childhood is represented by memories of picking violets in the springtime. I adore spring flowers in general, and violets in particular. I love their fragrance, their colors, their tenacious habit of popping up in the grass. Since I have no pictures of violets, here are blooms from the Christmas cactus that just returned from a month at the plant spa. (That would be the month in which my mother takes my plant to her house and feeds it and loves it into blooming--wouldn't it be nice if we could be plants?)

2) Valor--My mother told me when I was young that my name meant valor--and that meant that I'm capable of doing difficult things. Many times in my life I've been buoyed by the thought that my mother thinks I'm strong. See that picture of PeeWee in front of the poster there on the sidebar? The poster of Rosie the Riveter rolling up her sleeves? That's my mom, right there telling me "We can do it!" Me and the Christmas cactus. (I love my mommy, can you tell? Right now she's babysitting PeeWee and Middle Sister so that I can work on my taxes. Right. I'm on it--in just a minute. I'm almost done here.)

3) Voracious--I'm afraid I have a bit of an obsessive personality. I tend to go on binges. Reading binges, knitting binges, sometimes even chocolate binges. I usually don't binge on food (except at holidays--hello? Who can resist the cardamom bread?) because I don't like feeling overstuffed (just regular-stuffed is fine, though). But I have a REAL problem with neglecting other obligations when faced with the temptations of good literature and good yarn.

That's all. No more about me, at least for now. Your turns Marly, Kristen, and if I may be so bold, Cara. (You see, Cara is one of the popular kids and tagging her feels a little presumptive.) 123's or ABC's or both, you pick. Marly, you get letter J; Kristen you get letter T. Cara, you're so prolific, I figure you can always use a good meme.

****Shirlene! I'm tagging you, too! If you so desire, you get letter B--but will you please at least do the 123 meme? I'd love to know what book is close at hand by your computer. I'm nosy like that.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

fire-bellied toad

In the interest of full disclosure (encouraged by dear Julie) I must let you all know that while I mess around with dye and yarn, my laundry is languishing, the bathrooms are science projects, and we ate on paper plates last night. There. I feel somehow lighter. It's amazing what confession will do for the soul.

This toad was Middle Brother's Christmas present. His name is Hopper. Taking a picture of the aborted Trekking sock with Hopper made me want to dye some green yarn (plus I need some green sock yarn for the Green Sock KAL).

I gave myself Knit Picks' handily packaged "Socks Gift Kit" for Christmas so I pulled out the hank of Bare Sock Yarn that came in the kit and tried to dye it green. I used an unbelievable amount of Kool-Aid to try to get a mottled-toady green. A batch of cookies, two packages of tamarind Kool-Aid and six packages of green later, I had this:

I think I'm ready to graduate to real dye--I was trying for a more intense range of colors and if I'm using 8 packages of Kool-aid and still not getting what I want, it's time for the serious stuff. You can't see much from this shot, but I dumped in the emergency package of evening blue Rit dye that I've had in my cupboard for about 10 years.

The end result is a little more blue than I had originally envisioned, but I'm SO PLEASED! Now I just have to find the right sock pattern for it.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

swatching and soaking

Yes, Oh wise Yarn Harlot. I read it. I giggled when I read the post (didn't we all?). I nodded my head repeatedly, affirming your sage advice to never become smug about swatching. Then, (brain like a sieve) I promptly forgot it and cast on a sock. I knit for a couple of inches on really tiny needles with yarn that looks like crochet thread. I gleefully spread out the stitches on the four needles and tried to put the sock on. NOTHING DOING. I transferred the knitting from the needles to a piece of yarn and tried to put the sock on. NOTHING DOING. I pulled the yarn out, rewound it into a tidy little ball, and stuck it back in the skein. Me? Socks? NOTHING DOING. I call this "Aborted Sock Attempt with Toad".

Don't worry. I'll try again in a few days. And I'll swatch first. But right now I've got this wrap going and I really love it. It has beautiful hand-painted yarn and soft furry baby alpaca on nice BIG needles. You see, I don't know if I can use my precious moments to produce the fine-gauge stuff. I have to squeeze in the knitting when I can: a few rows in the laundry room when I should be matching socks, a few rows in the kitchen when I should be loading dishes, a few rows in the bathroom while PeeWee has a bath--or if I can get Eric to go to bed before me, a whole bunch of rows after everyone is asleep and I should be, too. Don't worry, I like my husband and all, but sometimes a girl just needs to knit. And sometimes she needs to be able to finish projects in less than three years.

Guess what? I'm taking a spinning class!!!!!!!! I'm so excited that I'm overdoing it with the exclamation points again!!!!!! We'll learn how to take the wool all the way from fleece to yarn. I came home from my first class with a pound of greasy fleecy and I've been soaking/washing it out in my bathtub. The water that drained off from the first cold soak was downright disgusting. I soaked and drained it 5 times and there were still mats of mud on the tips of the fleece that were not budging. I don't know if I was supposed to do it or not, but I got irritated at the mats and snipped them off. After I did that, the fleece started to look reasonable, so I finally stopped soaking it and it is now hovering on a sweater rack, trying to dry. PeeWee and Middle Sister are feeling very proprietary because they helped drain the tub and swish out the crap each time we changed the soaking water. Next week: carding! I'm all giddy.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

yay for socks

I'm (ever the joiner, despite protestations of needing to be "original" and "unique") adding another knitalong button to the sidebar, not only because I've cast on for a pair of Socks (thin yarn, skinny needles), but also because that button is way cool. Yes, I've cast on for another project; no, I haven't actually completed the wrapalong project.

Wait, did I never publish that post in which I agonized about the pink and blue stripes in the Rusty Wrapalong? Well, in summary, I shoved it into a bag and tried again with the purple and brown--and I'm feeling the love, baby. No worries about abandoning this ship for the third? fourth? time. I'm sticking with this color combination and this time I mean it. How about a picture...

I haven't figured out the white balance thingy on my camara yet--but the yarn colors are accurate. See why I love purple and brown? See why I love Mountain Colors? See why I love Mountain Colors' Red-tail Hawk colorway? All right, maybe not everyone is dying over it like I am, but if you could only see the way those colors slide by on the needles, so individually and collectively gorgeous. The colors are muted--but intense at same time. Confession: I bought the Mountain Colors yarn with the intention of knitting a scarf for a friend, but kept it, as I was quite certain that noone could love it the way I do. Sad, I know, but there we are. :)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

back in the saddle again

These are for the Socks 101 Knitalong.

They are my first socks ever! They were so fast to knit that I hardly had time to feel intimidated. Now I'm feeling obnoxiously overconfident and I'm eyeing one of Cookie A.'s fantastic patterns. Hedera maybe, or the new Monkey. I should probably actually knit some plain socks first. See these? I adore these socks. I'm a closet pinky-girly. They were knit by Cara from what I'm finding out is a wildly popular sock pattern called Jaywalker out of an equally wildly popular sock yarn called Socks that Rock. Will my usual vain need to think that I'm "original" keep me from knitting these socks? Probably not. It didn't stop me from joining in on the Meathead KAL.

I'm feeling grumpy today. The above mentioned Cara kindly gave me a letter for a letter-themed meme. In this meme, a person gets a letter from someone and then he/she has to list ten things, themes, theories, etc. in his/her life that begin with that letter. So what letter did I get? V--A truly wonderful letter. ;) The problem with feeling grumpy is that the only V words that are coming to mind are things like vanity, vexation, vegetate, verruca, and voluptuous. I'd better stop.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Year's Intentions

It has been many a year since I actually had the ambition to record any new year's resolutions. I still don't have the ambition for resolutions, but intentions? I can do intentions (as suggested by mamacate, by way of januaryone).

1. Go to bed when PeeWee does.

2. Get up and go to the gym in the morning. (I truly do enjoy working out, but it's going to take the accomplishment of #1 in order to see through #2.)

3. Reclaim the laundry room and surrounding area. This will require daily effort. Yes. Face it. You need to do laundry every day. Get over it already.

There. That's all. I think I'll have monthly evaluations of my intentions and as I get better at actually accomplishing things, maybe I'll get more ambitious! Maybe not. All I really want is for PeeWee to sleep through the night so I can. And maybe some guilt-free knitting/crafting time.
LogoThere are:
people with my name
in the U.S.A.

How many have your name?

Only 12? It's that unusual spelling of my last name. If I were still using my maiden name, I'm guessing that there would be more like 300,000 people with my name. I'd better go see... (Beans, I bet you're the only one with your name--that's 'cause you're special.