Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Little Lace

Lest you think I have forgotten about Icarus, I haven't. I've just been busy with all of the holiday projects. But I did get time to work on it while I was in Las Vegas over the Christmas weekend. (I did decide, however, that it was not really a good thing to work on while in the car - too many bumps in the road.) So although I'm still not too far along, at least I've gotten a couple of repeats of the first chart done. At the top of the photo is the beginning of my VLT project. I had 9 rows done, and then one side of it sort of vaporized somehow - I must have dropped a stitch. So now it's started again from scratch. I can see that this is going to be a challenging project for me. I think I need one of those magnetic boards for my chart, so I can keep track of my rows better.

And did you know that the morning of December 31st is a great time to go to Costco? Hardly anyone there this morning! But still no $1.00 lattes. I keep hoping they'll come back. I know, it's just wishful thinking.

Hoarfrost on Horehound

Brrrrrr... baby it's cold outside!

But that hard frost does make for some pretty pictures. I'm sure the neighbors think I'm strange for taking photos in my front yard in nothing but my bathrobe when it's only 22 degrees.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Closing out 2006

As 2006 draws to a close, I'm working on the Irish Hiking Scarf, made with recycled Galway Highland Heather destashed by Laurie. I'm also planning to make this headband from the same yarn - I think there will be enough for both.

And I'm finally about to start my cast on for my Victorian Lace Today KAL project. I'm going to do the "Scarf with the No. 20 edging" on page 84, in Kidsilk Haze. The color name is "Khaki" - I don't know if that's really the best description for it, but it's a silvery gray-green. There are so many wonderful patterns in this book that it was difficult to choose one to start with. I could keep myself busy with this book for a long time - even if all I did was look through it and drool. I highly recommend it.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Mr. Smith

Sigh. Boring, but true enough, I guess.

Classic Movie test ripped off from Mim, who ganked it from Terri. Not only did I amuse myself with this test, but I learned a new word (thanks, Mim).

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Death of Espresso - RIP

Yes, it is with great sadness that I announce the demise of Espresso Logic 2. After completing my arrowhead lace project (for the second time), I noticed yesterday after blocking it that I had managed to reverse the right and wrong sides less than halfway through. Shit. I don't really expect perfection - if it had been just a few yarnovers in the wrong place, I could have lived with it. But this was way wrong. I can't believe I didn't notice it earlier. It wouldn't be so bad if there was more time before the swap, but now I don't know if I even have time to start over and get it finished. (Unlike most people, I'm actually going to have to work on New Year's day.)

I suppose that after I calm down for a few days, I'll probably at least try, since I'm very stubborn (of course I am, I'm a Taurus). But for now, I don't even want to look at it. Or more accurately, what's left of it, after I ripped it back into oblivion.

I shouldn't be surprised - yesterday was yet another day from hell. (I've been having way too many of these lately.) Anything that could go wrong, did go wrong. All day. I even broke an old Corelle dish. You know how many times I've dropped those things on the foor without a problem? Hah. Well, yes, they do break. And shatter into many nasty slivers. Trust me. Conversation goes like this: DH asks from the other room "What's for dinner, sweetie?" CRASH! My answer: "Not yellow squash" (which is what was in the Corelle dish). Bless his heart. He came into the kitchen, and without a word, cleaned up the whole mess. I just drank more wine.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Random Thoughts, Dec 23, 2006

I find it very amusing that 30 years later, I can tune my radio to KRSP and listen to Wooly Waldron playing the same music he was playing when I was in high school.

Happy Festivus...

Friday, December 22, 2006

Bubble Wrap Cap

I was so excited about Lark's Bubble Wrap Cap, that I just couldn't wait to make it. I'm not sure why it appealed to me so much - maybe because it just seemed so "fun". It seemed like the kind of hat that would make you want to go out and play in the snow. I didn't think that I had any yarn in my stash that would work (I wanted to use a variegated yarn), but then I remembered the DK-weight Cheyenne Interlacements merino wool I had left over from another project. It was already divided into two balls, and I figured that if I used two strands together, it would be close enough to the right gauge. I was worried not sure if there would be enough yarn for the hat, but I had a feeling that it would work out. And it did! Now I have two hats that I really like, so I'm ready to face the winter. Brrrrr. Well, almost.

Since this pattern is so stretchy, the hat will fit a good range of head sizes. I kept thinking about making one not just for myself, but for friends and family, too. And for charity knitting. I was envisioning Bubble Wrap Caps all over the globe. People everywhere united by the sisterhood of Bubble Wrap. Young, old, rich, poor. Wouldn't that be a beautiful thing? Bubbleheads of the world unite!

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Originally uploaded by Hither-n-Yarn.
Introducing "Coronet", from Knitty. I used Cascade Pastaza, less than one skein. Instead of making a "foldover" brim, I just knitted the cable band, then picked up the stitches and knit straight up for the rest of the cap, following the remainder of the instructions for the decreases. Since this is a bulkier yarn than listed for the pattern, I only needed to do 14 repeats of the cable instead of the pattern's specified 16 repeats for the smallest size. I picked up 78 stitches around (approximately 2 stitches for 3 rows, but making a multiple of 6). It was an easy knit, and I love the hat! I might even make just the cabled band part again some time, and just use it as a headband/ear warmer.
A special thanks goes to Allison, who was so kind and helpful in giving me information about the Coronet she made.

This was an interesting experience for me on different levels. To start with, it's the first hat I've ever knit. Although I like hats, I almost never wear them. But not because I don't want to. Putting on a hat usually means that I have to keep it on, for as long as I'm in public. Although my hair is curly, it's unusual in being very thin and fine. Wearing a hat flattens it out, but doesn't straighten it, so it just ends up looking incredibly strange. Add that to the static electricity that hats tend to produce, and I'd probably frighten small children by taking off my hat. But if I pull my hair into a ponytail, it's pretty flat anyway, and it doesn't matter so much.

The other thing that was so interesting about knitting the hat was my reaction to the yarn. It's wool and llama, and definitely a bit "scratchier" than I would normally like. I'm pretty sensitive to wool other than cashmere, merino, or alpaca. But a funny thing happened. While I was knitting with the yarn, and feeling the scratchiness of the wool, it occurred to me that I really didn't mind it. And in fact, I appreciated it. It made me think of the sheep and llamas who provided the wool for the yarn. And the roughness on my fingers, though slightly irritating, was also pleasant in an odd sort of way. Kind of like how I feel after I've done a lot of physical labor. Even though my body feels tired and sore, there's still some pleasure and satisfaction in it. Instead of just seeing the yarn as a finished product, or as the the means to an end, I was really appreciating it for itself, and what it took to make it.

Even Weirder

I was in a hurry to post my six weird things last night, so I didn't really take a lot of time to think about it. But it's hard to come up with a list right on the spot. So of course, all kinds of things came to me while I was in bed trying to sleep. So I decided to tag myself and play again. Yes, I'm weird enough to voluntarily list another six weird things about myself. So here we go again:

1. My normal body temperature runs lower than average. Usually 97 to 97.4 degrees F. I wear socks to bed nearly year 'round.

2. I have Raynaud's Phenomenon.

3. I hate black licorice, but love cooking with licorice-tasting herbs, like fennel, tarragon, and chervil; or with liqueurs such as Ouzo or Sambuca.

4. I can't burp. Really. Not naturally or by intent.

5. My ears often "fall asleep" when I lay on my side, unless I have a pillow where I can make a "dent" for my ear.

6. I despise talking on the telephone. Always have. I only have a cell phone because I'm on call for my job.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

6 Weird Things About Me

6 Weird Things About Me

Jacquie tagged me for this game, so OK, I'll play.

THE RULES:Each player of this game starts with the ‘6 weird things about you.’ People who get tagged need to write a blog of their own 6 weird things as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose 6 people to be tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says ‘you are tagged’ in their comments and tell them to read your blog.”

1. I have worked at the same place for 27 years.
2. I skipped second grade.
3. It doesn't feel like Christmas until I've heard Alvin and the Chipmunks.
4. I like artwork that makes me smile.
5. I can never come up with "one" favorite color/book/movie, etc., because I always think it depends on my mood and the circumstances.
6. I tend to get all excited about some new hobby and do all kinds of research on it, only to drop it after a short time. Yes, the word of the day is dilettante. (Knitting seems to be sticking, though!)

And I tag... Eileen, Gwen, Stephanie, Lark, Elizagrrl, and LuLuPurl

What, Me Worry?

Yes, I admit it, I'm a worrier. This morning I read Margene's Zen post, and was impressed by her story of how she has worked to "stop the fretting". It certainly struck home. Then this afternoon I took my mother to see "Charlotte's Web" - one of my favorite books as a child. I won't even tell you how many times I cried during the movie, but I will say that one tissue wasn't really enough. When Wilbur is entered in the state fair, and he wants to know if he should worry about the competition from the pig in the next stall, Charlotte tells him "no", because it won't help. Seems to me that the writing on the wall is as clear as the writing in Charlotte's Web. I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, but I think this time I'll make an exception. And try to worry less.

Last night Lark gave me a narcissus bulb. Wouldn't you know that I had a bulb vase just waiting for a bulb? I forgot where I bought this, but it's got the attached metal ring to hold the leaves upright as they grow. It's sure to bring a sunny spot into a dreary winter. Thanks, Lark. I love flowers. And if you haven't yet seen her amazing Bubble Wrap Cap, be sure to check it out.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A Double Shot of Espresso, Please

Today is definitely shaping up as a much better day than yesterday - thank goodness. I've reworked my "Espresso Logic" Arrowhead lace project, and I think this one will do. The second shot is the charm. (I'm not counting the innumerable swatches I did with various different yarns before doing the first Espresso.) I blocked the part I had finished last night, and it's laying flat. Yay! Of course, it's only about 1/3 done, but there's plenty of time to finish it before the swap. Now that I can do the arrowhead lace in my sleep, it's going pretty fast.

This weekend we'll be off to Las Vegas for what has become a traditional Christmas for us in the past few years. Latkes in the morning, and Chinese food for dinner. Maybe a movie in the afternoon. But no snow. Speaking of movies, we finally got around to seeing "Casino Royale" over the weekend. Loved it. We're big Bond fans, and both thought this was a great new installment in the series. No one will ever replace Sean Connery as my favorite Bond, but I think Daniel Craig just may be in the running for second place.

Just One of Those Days

Yesterday was the day from hell. I was home sick, my supposedly-completed Arrowhead lace project was a disaster, the toilet was clogged, and my washing machine overflowed all over the laundry room floor. And no, there's no drain. The laundry room is the old "coal room" in the basement of our house, and it's below the water/sewer lines. So the washing machine drains into a laundry tub, which drains into a sump pump, which then pumps the water up into the wastewater pipe. That's the plan, anyway. But the washer got out of balance (and it was just lingeree and a couple of very lightweight knit tops!), and "walked away" from the sink. An entire load of water then proceeded to spew forth onto the floor. Fortunately the floor in that room is about an inch lower than the rest of the basement, so by the time I heard the banging and ran downstairs to shut off the washer, the water was only just starting to creep over the lip. We have a shop vac in the basement (which, of course, had about an inch of dusty crud in it, as we'd been using it "dry"). No time to worry about emptying that out - I just yanked off the paper filter and started sucking up the water. Gee, I hardly got started when the 6-gallon tank was full. OK, so now it's full of yukky, dirty water, mixed with all of the strange little bits of things that DH had sucked up in his electronics workshop. Hmmmm... there was NO WAY I was going to be able to haul that thing up my rickety old stairs. I could probably lift it up enough to empty it in the sink, but all the crud in it would clog the filter in the sump pump. Shit. Why didn't I think of that and dump out the stuff in the shop vac first? Oh yeah, I was panicking. That was it. So instead I had to pour it out of the shop vac and into a bucket. One bucket at a time, up the stairs. Well, at least that cleaned out the shop vac. Another 3 1/2 tanks full of water later, I was mostly done. Except for the water that was still pooled under the washer and dryer, since I wasn't strong enough to move them. I just poked some towels under them and called it "good enough". DH felt so bad for me that he left work early and came home to finish cleaning things up and give me a hug.

There was one bright spot, though. I picked up a skein of Cascade Pastaza in a beautiful dark purple in the bargain bin at Black Sheep Wool a few weeks ago. I thought maybe I could use it for a hat. So I started looking for patterns, and spied Coronet on Knitty. Ah - perhaps that would work! I didn't have quite enough yardage, but then I noticed in the instructions that the brim is folded up. I never would have known from the photo. Maybe I could eliminate the foldover? I Googled for Coronet to see who else had done it and what their results were. Wouldn't you know... the third hit on the page was this one. Also knitted in Pastaza, and even in a similar color (blue and purple). I emailed Allison to ask her if one skein was enough, and crossed my fingers that she'd reply soon. And she did. Within a couple of minutes! She did use only one skein, and eliminated the foldover, just as I was thinking. Isn't the Internet wonderful, and even more wonderful are the fantastic people you "meet" who are so kind and helpful. Of course, in the meantime, Lark posted her darling Bubble Wrap hat. Tempting, very tempting. But I think I'll stick with Coronet, and if it doesn't work out, I'll move on to Bubble Wrap. And if it DOES work out, I'll just have to buy more yarn and make Bubble Wrap anyway.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Espresso Illogic

Well, CRAP. I finally finished my Arrowhead lace swap project (code-named "Espresso Logic"), washed it, and blocked it. It looked pretty good while blocking. But then when it dried, I discovered the sad truth. It is simply not going to stay flat. Period. I did wash and block my swatch, and it seemed okay. But this is clearly not going to work. I'm going to have to start over completely with something else. Bah, humbug! I guess the upside of the fiasco is that I can now probably knit arrowhead lace in the dark.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Is it a Virus?

Yesterday when I was getting dressed, I had a strong feeling that I wanted to wear some funky socks. Who, me? ME? Where did that idea come from? OMG. I think it must be something contagious. It's all those grrls at SnB, I just know it. They're not keeping their sock germs to themselves. But, alas, I have no funky socks. I had to settle for some tweedy-looking green socks, it was the best I could do. Well, I do have the one pair of anklets that I made, but those are my bed socks. And besides, I'm not sure I'd be up to wearing such bold stripes other than around the house. I don't think the virus has gotten THAT bad. Yet.

After putting on my conservative-yet-casual tweedy socks (and the rest of my clothes, of course), I headed out to Unraveled Sheep (LYS), where I picked up some Kidsilk Haze I'm planning to use for the Victorian Lace Today KAL, and an impulse buy of a few skeins of Jamieson's 2 ply Shetland Spindrift. I'd like to just try some sample knitting with it, and maybe try a little fair isle. Who knows, maybe it will even become a hat or mittens or something. Someday. Anybody have some good sources for learning how to do stranded knitting?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Gloomy Saturday

We were supposed to have a major snow storm last night, but we woke up to only a little bit of snow. That was good, because we had to go to a friend's house this morning to give her a bit of help with a computer networking problem, and we didn't want to have to go out if there was a ton of it. Supposedly more's on the way tonight, but it doesn't sound like it will be too bad - probably not more than a couple of inches at most. The day was pretty gray and gloomy, though, with all of the cloud cover.

Christmas Redux

I have been told that my Merry Christmas link from the previous post no longer works. However, I've found a new one, so let's all have a White Christmas, if not in reality, than at least in our hearts.

Friday, December 15, 2006

I've Got a Secret

It's my arrowhead lace project for our local SnB swap. After trying many different things, I finally think I have what will be the final product, and it's about half done. I'm hoping to have enough yarn to make a bonus piece to go along with it, but I'm keeping the whole thing a secret in case I don't have enough yarn, or (more likely) because it turns out to be a stupid idea, or it looks crappy after it's done and blocked. So at least for now, it's going to stay under wraps. All I'm going to say is that the pattern uses little arrowhead lace, and that I've code-named it "Espresso Logic".

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Season's Greetings

I finished the final pair of Fetching last night, so they're finally both done and ready to go! In celebration, I'm going to provide you with a little song and dance appropriate to the season.

To my Jewish friends and family, Merry Christmas Happy Hanukkah - yes Virginia, there is a Schmanta Claus.

And to all, Merry Christmas, and may all your Christmases be white.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Still Fetching

Pretty sunrise this morning, but it was fading a bit by the time I got out the camera. The Oquirrh mountains in the west were beautiful too - snow covered and lit up by the morning sun. Unfortunately, I can only just get glimpses of them between the trees and houses.

I did my second pair of Fetching with US4 needles, and had plenty of yarn to finish - I could have made them a couple of rows longer. They're pretty snug, but the niece they're for is very slender, so I think they'll be fine. So that's one pair done. I decided to frog the first pair and redo them. Besides not having enough yarn to do the thumbs, I noticed that I'd dropped a stitch in the cuff of one of them. I have one hand redone except for the thumb. Hopefully I'll get the pair finished tonight and can get them mailed off tomorrow.

Monday, December 11, 2006

And I thought _I_ had problems

If you can't read the caption, it says "My socks never match".

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A Fetching Problem

The first time I made Fetching, I mistakenly used the wrong size needles (7 instead of 6). So of course, it was certainly understandable that I ran out of yarn and had to use contrasting yarn as trim. Now I've been requested to make 2 more pair for my nieces. I figured that using the size 5 needles I'd meant to use originally would be fine. But no... I did one pair and had enough to finish the main part, but not the thumb. Now I've got to decide how to deal with it. I'm not sure I have anything in my stash that will work to finish them off. Maybe I'll just bind off the thumb stitches and call it good. For the second pair, I'm going to go down to size 4 needles and see how that works. Maybe I'll get lucky. I think I'll do that before I decide what to do with the first pair - if there's enough yarn, I can redo the first ones. It's a quick knit.

I haven't been posting too much in the last couple of weeks... I've been under an enormous amount of stress at work, and it has been driving me insane. But things should finally let up a bit now. I'm just finishing up a 2-year data conversion project that had to be done by the end of this year. It's in place now, but not without a few glitches (of course). But looking at the big picture, it actually went quite well, considering all of the changes that were made. I'll still have to "gird my loins"* for the beginning of January, because we may have a few more issues pop out of the woodwork once we go to a new calendar year. But at least I'll have a little breathing room between now and then to try to recover my sanity.

* I don't know why this phrase always strikes me as being so funny. I guess it's just the way it sounds. But I was inspired to Google it today, since I never really thought about what it meant literally, only figuratively. Explanations can be found here and here. If you look at the comments in the second link, there's an interesting reference to a similar Spanish phrase, but it would be anatomically incorrect for me to use it. So I guess I'll have to stick with girding my loins.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Hot and Buttered

Anybody got a favorite recipe for a single Hot Buttered Rum? I don't want to have to make a batter ahead of time, I don't want to use ice cream, and I don't want anything that takes a whole stick of butter. I just want one. Well, actually, I want a whole pitcher of them since I had a freakin' lousy day today, but I still want to be able to make a good "individual" one. I just mixed one up with 1 1/2 oz Barcardi 8 (darn, all gone now), hot water, a pat of butter, a few cloves, 1 1/2 tsp of brown sugar, and a good sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice. I don't mind having to smoosh up (technical term, dontcha know) the butter with some spices, as long as it's only for one or two servings. OK, I guess I could take a recipe that uses a whole stick of butter and cut it down. Or just drink a lot more. Actually, I was considering having a box dinner tonight. A box of chocolates and a box of wine. Yeah, it was that kind of day. Thanks for letting me wine whine.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It's not much, but...

It's a start.

I've been so busy with holiday projects that I haven't had much time to spend on Icarus (pattern is now available at Mim's website, for those who don't have the Interweave issue.) I only got this far because I hadn't yet gotten the yarn I needed to make two more pair of Fetching gloves for my nieces. But I got their yarn today (green for one, blue for the other), and now I'm going to have to set Icarus aside (once again) and get those done.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Filatura di Crosa Empire Shell in Zara

It's done! And I got it finished in time for the Christmas party. Well, at least done "enough". I haven't decided yet whether to add the crocheted edging around the bottom. I'll do a little bit of it and see whether I like it or not.

Pattern: The Empire Shell from the "Filatura Di Crosa: Zara & Zara Plus Fall/Winter 2005" booklet.

Yarn: Filatura Di Crosa Zara, in red.

Modifications: I made the top 2" longer than the pattern stated. I also made the back 4 stitches less in width.

Notes: The pattern for size small called for 8 skeins. I ordered 9, since I planned to make it a little longer than what the pattern specified. Even with the extra length, I used only a small amount of the 8th skein, and I could easily have left off a few rows of the neck ruffle to finish with only 7 skeins. I've decided that my gauge must have been a little tighter than recommended, but it was impossible to know since the sample gauge is given for ribbing "lightly stretched". So although I cast on 4 less stitches for the back in order to make the finished size a bit smaller (and had planned to do the same for the front), after the back was finished I decided I didn't need to do that for the front. It fits fine, although if I were to make it again, I'd just use the number of stitches indicated, so it would be slightly less stretched when wearing it.

The Neck Hug

Neck Hug
Originally uploaded by Hither-n-Yarn.
I finished my Lion and Lamb Neck Hug a few days ago, and even found buttons that match the colors perfectly. (Maybe too perfectly - they're such a good match you can barely see them.)

I wanted a gaiter instead of a scarf because my winter parka has velcro tabs that keep attacking my scarves. A gaiter will keep my neck warm without getting in the way of the velcro. And I really liked the idea of a gaiter that buttons, so that if I have a reason not to mess up my hair by pulling it over my head, I don't have to. Not that I usually have to worry about it, since my hair's usually a mess anyway. Sigh.

By the way, check out the newest version of Ashley's Neck Hug in Alchemy Synchronicity. Lovely.

Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb, 1 skein, in "Camoflage"