Friday, June 30, 2006

Grandma's gone.

I got a call this morning that my dad's mom passed away about 8 a.m. at age 96. It was fairly quick and somewhat sudden, though she was recovering from some unexpected surgery. I was incredibly lucky to have had her in my life for 41 years. Grandma taught me to crochet as a child, a lifelong gift, and had recently helped me learn to knit. When I visited her in the hospital last Saturday I showed her the little yellow baby sweater I just finished. She got a huge smile on her face when I handed it to her. She looked it over carefully, felt over the ribbing and the stitches, and turned to me and said, "That's just fine, dear. That's just fine."

From Grandma, that meant it was perfect. I could not possibly have asked for more.

She taught me to cook all kinds of fancy Sephardic foods and put up with my frequent phonecalls for cooking advice. We discussed politics together, read the same books and talked about them. We were always lending each other books. She was a sharp, intelligent and well-read women with a great sense of humor.

This picture is from two months ago, as she was about to take my niece, her first great grandchild, in her arms:

Thursday, June 29, 2006

True class...

Got my "Petals Collection" shipment from Sundara Yarn yesterday. This is one of those 'sock of the month' (or of every other month, in this case) clubs. Because I prepaid, it's stash enhancement I need feel no further guilt for when it arrives, though it's hard to resist a twinge. The idea is that you get yarn dyed to match a particular inspirational flower, and then you get a pattern especially written to show off the yarn.

I should have photographed it as I opened it, because it was stunning. "Calla Lily" was this month's theme. The whole thing was wrapped in tissue paper in mulberry and leaf green, the colors of the flower in question.

There was yarn, of course, in the appropriate colors. You can get a glimpse here of Sundara's new labels and logo, which is very snazzy. A lovely note from Sundara accompanied, as well as a gorgeous photo of the flower that inspired the yarn. A darling lollipop in flower shape -- too cute to eat. Finally, in a classy long envelope, a well-written pattern with a full color photo of the result. Wow. I'm impressed, and I was already impressed with Sundara Yarn.

Just because the yarn was so temptingly pretty, I decided to wind up a ball of it this morning so I could see what it looked like wound. Here it is in all its glory:

Cuff those bad socks!

It's a bit hard to tell what my Sockotta socks are looking like at the moment, because the pattern I've concocted sneakily has you knit the cuff, then turn the sock inside out and continue knitting the rest of the sock. All you have to do is wrap one stitch to make sure there's no hole, and this trick works. But it means you have to see half the sock inside-out if you're looking at it in progress.

On the left here, you see the sock as I'm knitting it, with the cuff inside out and the ribbed leg right-side out. I've just finished with the leg, about to do some transition rows and then start the heel. I think this will be a garter stitch short row heel over about 60% of the stitches.

On the right, you can see what the cuff looks like folded over. Ignore those badly formed stitches here and there. Plymouth Sockotta is 45% cotton, making it less elastic, so that stitches stretch out easily, but much of that will go away in blocking. The pluses to Sockotta are that it's machine wash and dry (very convenient if you're gifting the sock to someone who can't cope with hand-washing) and that it's got a relatively high cotton content, good for summer and for San Diego in general. The minuses are that it's not as fun to knit with as wool. I have mixed feelings about the colorway; I picked it for my mother, and hopefully she'll get and like these socks, but I'm not overwhelmed with joy at how it's knitting up. Though it does have a kind of Monet flower-garden effect which is nice.

This isn't going terribly fast, so don't expect a Summer of Socks winner out of this blog. But I'm enjoying devising the pattern for it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Swatchin' the world go by

I recently did some stash enhancing, courtesy of a couple of online sales, deStash, and of course Sundara. Here's a little flash of the latter (can't show all because some was intended as Secret Pal gifts):

From bottom center heading clockwise, Cassatt sock yarn (for, ya know, socks), Cantaloupe sport for a baby cardigan, Pink over Periwinkle silk/merino DK for a Trellis and Vine shawl, Blue-Green Over Yellow worsted for a hat, Lunar worsted for another hat, and omg, three skeins of Caterpillar silk/merino DK which was a present from Sundara. I'm still in shock/delight.

This naturally led to swatching behavior.

On the left is Sundara sport merino in Cantaloupe, and it'll be a little cardigan for my niece Carson (the one-year-old of previous postings).

On the right is some Regia Cotton Surf, obtained recently at enormous discount from some online store that I've now forgotten. It was darn cheap. Anyway, it's sock yarn really, but I've bought it to make either a top or a dress for Carson. I'm swatching it on US #3 Addis (larger than I'd use for socks) and I think it'll work well. It's wool/cotton/nylon, a lovely mix.

Pictures, as promised!

Lots to tell you. I'll start with three highlights... Might post more later today.

First of all, Nezumi is finished.


I have total and utter incompetence when it comes to making pompoms, so instead, I crocheted some little bobbles. I actually think I like the bobbles better than pompoms -- at least they're different.

I realize you want to see a picture of me wearing this thing. I tried taking a picture of myself and it looks like a monkey with buck teeth. I swear, I don't look like this. But I don't think I'm going to convince you all of that:

Still, it's a mighty cool hat, don't you think? Sufficiently goofy to suit my taste and personality.


We babysat my niece Carson on Sunday. She is darling. I realize I am completely biased. But man, what a sweet kid. Not one bit of crying in twelve hours. She frowns when you use the flash, so I had to take the smiling pics in available light, and they are blurry. But still, you can get an idea of the cuteness level here, I think.

And finally, is this cool or what?

It's a trail from a rocket that took off last night, being illuminated, along with the moon, by the setting sun. I couldn't get a really good photo with my little digital Elph, but it's still kind of cool, I think.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I feel invisible...

The camera cable is at work, so I can't upload any photos.
Why do I feel like I and my postings don't exist if I don't have photos?
Hmm. Clearly a cultural and sensory bias...

Well, the pictures will come on Weds. when I return to work, and maybe I'll exist then. Here's some of the things you'll see pictures of (and some of which you won't).

Friday I got amazing stash in the mail from Sundara. The most amazing part was a personal gift of yarn from Sundara. I am still just completely blown away.

My 85-yr-old mother-in-law Verna arrived Saturday morning from Perth, Australia to Los Angeles. We visited my two grandmothers (one, 96, in hospital after emergency surgery, one, 90, at home after chemo -- definite feelings of fragility in the air) and then had a lovely (not) five-hour trip back to San Diego. Yesterday we babysat my year-old niece Carson, who cried not one single cry the entire twelve hours we had her. Wow.

Today my cat Laila caught a baby bunny (a frequent occurrence), but we managed to get it away from her unharmed. Well, that means we pried open her jaw and the bunny hightailed it for South America. Laila was not exactly thrilled.

Oops, this is supposed to be a knitting blog, isn't it? Let's see. I didn't do much knitting this weekend, just squoze (is that a word?) in a little. I finished Nezumi except for the pompoms (I'm crocheting some bobbly things instead). Nezumi is blocking now. I probably overworked it in the water and the cables felted just a little, but it'll still be nice. The original booboo I thought I made turned out to be fine, but when I was nearly done I did finally miscross a cable. I followed Stephanie's instructions and they worked a treat. Woohoo! And thank you, Yarn Harlot!!

I have nearly one leg finished on the Sockotta cuffed socks of my own design. I got a lot done while watching the movie Genghis Blues tonight. Great little documentary. Now I'm typing, Rob's petting Laila, Verna is resting and we're all watching Steven Wright.

And that's the news from Lake Photoless.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

{..hangs head in shame..}

And yes, I did cast on for Summer of Socks. I couldn't help myself! Inspired by Schurch's book (THANKS MS. PAL!), as I had hoped to be, I picked out one of her cool stitch patterns, mixed it with a rib and a cuff-style (appropriate to the cottony Sockotta I'm using), and rolled my own sock pattern. Can't show you today (unable to load pics), but I've got about 1" so far, and I did a little more on Mariner too, just to be a good girl...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Un-finishing

Why don't I, Miss FO herself (well, maybe that's exaggerating JUST A LITTLE), have anything finished to show you today?

Well, there's the Rob's sock issue. I really wanted to have this (Trekking XXL, for Trek Along With Me) pair finished by today, because today starts the Summer of Socks KAL and I wanted to start fresh to enter the contest. So why isn't it done? Because it's just fiddly enough that it's difficult to work on while doing something else, but I've been trying to do that anyway, so I keep messing up and having to frog/tink. Right now, it's waiting for me to frog four rows of heel flap because I forgot to slip the first stitch...

Now THIS:

This little puppy, a bathmat knit in bulky-weight Cotton Clouds Peaches and Cream (100% cotton), I'm not working on because it's not fun. It turns out to be kind of hand-cramping to work in bulky-weight cotton, and the pattern isn't very exciting. So I'm putting it off, which is a shame because really, I could use the FO. Our bathmats are not in very nice shape.

Then there's this little gem, the Mariner tunic. Actually I'm making pretty good progress on this, but it's just slow work. And the pattern is strangely similar to the bathmat (stockinette interrupted with bands of seed). I'm nearly done with the kangaroo pocket (so I'll have knit that section twice, if that makes sense), and then I'll be scooting up the chest. I really want to finish this in time to enjoy it this summer/fall, as it's lovely cotton and so smooth.

So... given all these unfinished dudes and dudettes...
What did I do?

I cast on for something new.

This is going to be Nezumi, by Debbie Tuttle, from MagKnits. The yarn was a ball of 'mystery wool' I bought off Kate via deStash. When I wound it into a center-pull ball, I found a note in the center that said it was handspun, and I discovered how SOFT it was (the original ball was wound hard). The note also had the yardage -- enough to make Nezumi -- and I was so pleased. The yarn is a gorgeous color, a deep dusky blue with flecks of magenta, and incredibly soft and cushy.

I've made a weird error in this already. I apparently dropped a couple stitches (something I don't often do), right in the middle of a cable (argh), and I don't know how far back I dropped them. I think it's just two rows, and I picked up the stitches with a crochet hook and knit them up, but I am not 100% sure it's right. It looks a little odd at the moment, as though those two stitches are worked with doubled yarn -- so possibly they got slipped for one row, somehow. But they might just be stretched -- this IS handspun, and thicker in some spots than others.

Conveniently, Stephanie posted some great instructions on how to fix a messed-up cable (if you cable and don't know how to do this, save these instructions!!), which would help me to repair this if I did mess up the pickup and have to rip back further. I'm going to knit a few more rows, enough so I can see if it looks right, and then, if I have to, rip just these four stitches and redo the cabling. We shall see!

Monday, June 19, 2006

THANK YOU MS. PAL!!!!

My SP8 pal has cheered me up :-) I came home tonight after some unwanted restrictions courtesy of the physical therapist -- just one more thing in a challenging week -- and there was a package awaiting me! And in it -- not one, not two, but THREE fabulous Alchemic Dragon soaps.

There's the Dragon's Blood, which I bought for Kat and didn't want to let go of... Citrus Splash, which smells as good as it sounds... and Jasmine, always a favorite of mine. Yum!

Thank you Secret Pal! You've made my day a lot sunnier!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

FO-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

Now this is what I call a finished object!

Ends all woven in, buttons securely sewn on, all blocked and ready to rumba!

I've found that, in general, I'm a process knitter -- I don't mind ripping back, I don't mind if things go a different way than I planned; it's all about that yarn flickering through my fingers and the wonderful feeling of making a stitch. But this yarn, which is really very pretty, was no fun to knit. Acrylic yarn didn't work well with my aluminum DPNs or my circular Inoxes (Inoxi?), and it just doesn't feel quite as good when knitting (though the sweater is nice and soft). So this became all about the FO, and I have to say I'm really pleased with it now that it's done!

The pattern for this is a basic one off of knitting.about.com. I used it as a way to learn about raglan construction, and it was a great way to do so, plus it yielded a lovely sweater for my friend Georgina's new baby.

Not to be outdone by the sweater, may I present Miss Sundara Yarn Coronet?

This pretty much used up the ball -- actually, I stopped it a couple rows short of what the pattern called for because I was nervous. In the end I did have enough yarn, and I think I'm going to see if I can make a bobble of some sort for the top with the little bit that's left.

Sorry no action shots, but it's still blocking/drying. It's not exactly flattering on me -- I kind of have this pinhead thing going on where the bottom of my face is much larger than the top, so huggy hats, while practical for skiing and snowball fights, are not really ideal for that 'hot chick' effect. But I love the hat. The hat is SOFT. I want to snuggle up and take a nap on my hat. Mm, hat.

And yah, I see the one bad stitch on the lower left quadrant. And no, I don't care :-)

In other news, my Secret Pal-ees got their boxes (2nd for Secret Pal 8, 1st for Other Secret Pal) and they seem happy. I've already bought the goodies for the next set of boxes, plus I just shipped some more things to my OSP because she is having a bad week. I really like this SP thing. It's helping a lot with my desire to spend my entire paycheck on crap I don't need, owing to stress. Instead, I can spend it on my SPs, a much better use of the money. Yay, SPs. :-)

Monday, June 12, 2006

FO HO!

.. as in "Land ho!" That is -- there are no FOs yet. But they are in sight!

I was totally out of commission on Thursday and 90% of Friday owing to the muscle spasm -- couldn't work, couldn't knit, couldn't hold a book, BAH! But I got better, and my mood improved, too. It was so good to be able to pick up the needles again on Friday night.

This looks like a FO, but if you look closer, you'll see the buttons aren't sewn on yet. I did buy them, at least! and they'll be sewn on and the sweater winging its way to Georgina and her baby sometime this week.

This obviously isn't a FO, either, but when you consider I cast on late Friday night, it's going to be finished soon. I got a lot done on it at the movies ("Over the Hedge") last night, because I had gotten to the "round and round stockinette" portion. This is the "Coronet" hat from Knitty. It seemed an excellent design with which to showcase my new Sundara yarn in Pink Granite. There are still a few skeins of this yarn left on her site, if you like it. It's very soft superwashed merino in worsted weight.

You can see a glimpse of one of trek's great sock bags next to it. I'm going to need more of these. I hang them on my wrist and can knit while walking around.

Here's a closeup of the cabling:

I was pretty pleased with my Kitchenering this time. I figured out how to graft purl stitches, and in the end it was seamless enough that I can't easily find the graft. Woohoo!

Friday I got a little stash enhancement in the mail. This is all from Sundara Yarn; the red is "Somewhat Solid Red with Violet", the pink is the aforementioned "Pink Granite," both in worsted merino; the aqua/tan/brown is sock yarn in "Bloodstone." I also bought some sock yarn for each of my Secret Pals, not pictured here because I packed it up and mailed it off!
Finally, I tried an experiment to see what Laila thought of camel and alpaca yarn. The result:

Alpaca won, but just barely...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Progress, a bit:

Warning! Whining first!!!

It's been a strange week. Snooze passed away on Monday; I hadn't been in touch with him for a couple of years, but was following his fight with pulmonary fibrosis. He was too damn young. And, ya know, one of those really nice guys.

I'm in a lot of pain from the increase in weights at physical therapy this week; everything knotted up. I haven't slept well, which makes it worse.

And I've been generally blue. Overwhelmed and under pressure at work (which is sad, because I love my job -- I just can't do two of it!), still feeling sad about Dan's death in January, not getting any of my writing done, and Joe quit the band. I mean, really. This is NOT like me!!! Miss Rose-Colored Glasses over here needs an eye tint!

So let's talk about some trivial yarny stuff to cheer me up!


I did get a leetle bit of knitting done over the last few days. Here you can see progress on the baby sweater (nearly done with the one arm) and Rob's sock. I realize it doesn't seem like much progress, but I knit and frogged the sleeve four times, trying to find a way to do short-rows for the shoulder about 20 rows too late. There just isn't any way to do it. It should have happened during the raglan creation, if it was going to happen. So I finally gave up and knitted it to pattern, straight out from the shoulder.

I recently got some great bags from trek, who does wonderful swaps. I'm very happy with these. As you can see, I've got a sock bag and a DPN case. The DPN case has two levels of pockets and snaps shut. Both pretty and practical. The sock bag goes with me everywhere. I love barter on the Internet.


Finally, a little stash enhancement for your Wednesday: some lovely Brooklyn Handspun in the Deep Elemental (great name!) colorway on the bottom, and Greenwood Fibers hand-painted cotton/lycra (perfect for summer!) sock yarn in Twilight Shadows on top. Mm. Can't wait for the Summer of Socks Knitalong!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Another Weird Blog Meme

I don't usually do these things, for fear of boring y'all silly. But then, I'm new to the exciting world of blogging. Saw this meme on Ilanna's blog:

Do a Wikipedia search of your birthdate, minus the year; list three interesting events, three people who were born, and three people who died on that day.

Events:
1865 - American Civil War: Robert E. Lee surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia (26,765 troops) to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, effectively ending the war.
Always liked this one. A war ends precisely 100 years before my birth. Pretty cool.
1945 - The United States Atomic Energy Commission formed
oooh.
1999 - Ismail Omar Guelleh is elected president of Djibouti.
The thing that's good about this one is just the pronunciation of Djibouti.

People who were born:
1821 - Charles Baudelaire, French poet (d. 1867)
"We shall have beds full of subtle perfumes.."
1932 - Cheeta, animal actor, the longest living known chimpanzee in history
Go Cheeta!
1965 - Paulina Porizkova, Czechoslovakian-born actress and supermodel
My age. Much more hot. Ah well, I wasn't born in Czechoslovakia and that's obviously the problem!

People who died:
1553 - Fran├žois Rabelais, French writer
1959 - Frank Lloyd Wright, American architect (b. 1867)
1961 - King Zog of Albania (b. 1895)
I just like that he's named King Zog. What a great name.

Well, I have no knitting content for today :-)

SP8 Secret Pal, was this you?

In the post yesterday, an empty, tattered envelope arrived, jammed into our mailbox. Stuck to the flap of the envelope and dangling was a wrapped gift containing Charlene Schurch's Sensational Knitted Socks. Woo!! I'm fairly excited to get this book. In fact it's hard to go to work this morning. I just want to stay home and read it cover to cover. Anyway, SP8, if this was you, or other mysterious friend of mine, THANK YOU! If there was a note with this or anything like that, it's gone — thanks, Postal Service. At least the gift arrived intact. I don't blame the postman — it almost certainly happened in the machine processing. Fabulous book though!

woowowoowoowooo
it's friday and I have a new book
wowowooowooowooo