Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Off to Albuquerque

I'm leaving Thursday afternoon to go to Gene's funeral. Won't be back until Sunday night, and don't expect Internet access (I'm not taking my laptop), so I'll see you all then. Be safe.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

mrrgle mrrgle mrrgle

I am not going to tell you how many times I have frogged 3 rows and reknit them.
I will say that it would be nice if I learned how to count, and also how to remember what row I'm on. Oh, and while I'm at it, what day it is and what time I'm supposed to go to bed would be good... ;-)

Monday, February 26, 2007

I skied!

And fun was had by all. Much better than Tim's experience (from the comments) skiing into a lake. But admittedly less exciting.

Here is how well I liked the Nezumi hat I made myself out of handspun purchased on DeStash:

I think I need to make myself another one that's just a bit larger, though. I kept having to tug to keep my ears warm.

On the other hand, I came home to sad news — my cousin Gene, a poet of some repute, who I was close to, passed away suddenly a couple of days ago. One of his more recent pieces which I like a lot is here. I'm still kind of stunned that he's gone; I saw him just last week. I'm waiting to hear about the funeral details, but I might disappear to Albuquerque for a couple of days.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Gone skiin'

Yes, I still have a cold, but I am going skiing anyway. Neener.

This is how I feel about skiing (from last time I went, two years ago — I had to take some time off at the advice of my PT because of a car accident):
I love to ski. I only ski on the baby bunny (super beginner) slopes, but I have a fab time.

Anonymous, fear not: I may not understand what you meant, but I didn't take offense.

Everyone: have a good weekend! I'll see you Monday!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fast hat!

That really didn't take long. The little white thread is just a running line in case I need to frog it back to before the decreases to change the height. I won't be able to try it on my friend until tomorrow. Other than that and the final tail to weave in (in case of height change), it is done!

I really think this is a handsome hat. Suits either sex. And guess what — I would have had enough Sundara worsted merino to complete this in one skein. I used 9 gm of the Ksar and I had 14 gm of the Sundara left. Mind you it was a 113-gm "100-gm" skein of Sundara yarn, so it would have been cutting it close if the true weight had been 100 gm.

But she's got a few beautiful worsted skeins left in this week's batch, so .. need a hat? You know what to do.

Someone commented today (anonymously) on a post a few back where I invited my blog readers to visit me, and said that was reason enough to leave San Diego. I'm not entirely sure if they are insulting me, insulting my blog readers, or if it's actually a compliment because it implies that 10,000,000 new people will be coming to visit San Diego. I choose to believe the latter. :-)

Le baby camel, take two

We're going skiing this weekend with a couple of friends, one of whom was bemoaning his lack of likeable headgear yesterday, and muttering about 'shopping'. I said, "I can make you a hat!" "Before we leave?" "Sure!" "But what if I don't like it?" "I'll give it to my brother, whom I already promised a hat of this type."

I pulled out some Sundara worsted merino last night — always a good thing to have in your stash:

This is Coronet from Knitty, a nice unisex style. I made myself one last spring, also from Sundara worsted merino. But it took an entire skein for size M, and this is size L, so I know I'll be a bit short on yarn. What to do?

I thought about stripes, and went into my stash to see what I had. And then it occurred to me that I could do the part that backs the cabled band with some random color, because it wouldn't show. But this is the part that goes over the ears. You'd want it to be the softest part, and what's softer than Sundara worsted merino?

Ah. Bouton d'Or Ksar (50% merino, 50% baby camel). Leftover from the Fetching mitts I made myself a couple months ago. Nothing I've touched is softer.

It knits up to the same gauge, and it even kind of matches, so if I do need to add a stripe later on, it might work for that too.

Plus it's definitely going to be both a warm and cuddly earband. Yay.

To answer some questions from the comments: Angie, I used Sundara DK Silky Merino for the Clapotis. Others have done so too, it works well for this pattern and it's SO soft/silky. You need three skeins. However, the colorway I got (Caterpillar) was a one-off — check her site for her latest creations. April, the yarn on my Vandyke-pattern sweater is Araucania Nature Wool, and I highly recommend it. So nice to knit with. Loganoc, I cleaned up the room and I still can't find my elastic thread! So my legwarmers are footwarmers for now. Oh, also, those are googly eye buttons, not just flat stick-on eyes. So very securely fastened. Fuzzarelly, I wish I'd read your advice before I did the waist shaping, but I didn't, and it's very very nipped-in. We'll see how it comes out in the end. If I have to I can stick in a side panel and fake it ;-) I'm not into entire frogging, but I have no compunctions about band-aids.

Oh, and yeah, here is the right front. It curls around the side a lot bec. of the stockinette, but that's okay because it'll have seams and collar. I finished this last night before I started the hat.

Monday, February 19, 2007

It's raining again...

I have put on the Moby song of that name as I write this blog. But face it, after I finish this song, the thing going on the stereo has to be ELO's "Concerto for a Rainy Day."I love the rain. It comes seldom enough that I don't get sick of the ELO ;-) No snide comments!

I thought you might like to see some pictures of the kiddy vests for Dulaan again, as I have finally put buttons on them. Really changes the look from fuzzy to finished.

Last but not least, how did I lose my spool of elastic thread in the couch? Cuz I think I really need it. Also, Santa, while you're at it, a tan would be nice.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Googly eyes rock!

What can I say? I love it!

I have triumphed over the novelty yarn.
This goes off to its future owner tomorrow. I'm oddly reluctant!

The Vandyke-pattern sweater (I am not going to call it that!) is going fairly well, if you can call ripping out 12 rows for every 16 or so well. That's because I'm trying to learn how to design an adult sweater as I knit it, and, for example, waist shaping is challenging when you have no books on the subject. It's going to be so pretty, though. Here you can see the diamonds on the buttonhole placket and the Vandyke pattern in the sweater front.

I've been trying to get back to abandoned UFOs, so I pulled out the old cotton bathmat I was trying to make early in 2006 (and, hence, early in my knitting career). At the time, I was using my Denise size 13s, which make cotton stitches almost squeak as they reluctantly move, plus I was just realizing that knitting cotton was hard on your hands. I didn't 'get' the pattern, so I didn't have any helpful stitch markers in place and I was trying to read instructions instead of my knitting, so I kept messing up and ripping out.

Now I am armed with the lovely April's Addi 13s (for which I will forever be grateful), I can read my knitting, and I have some stitch markers.

Things are going much better. I'm more than halfway done and I can imagine this ever ending.

This is good because I do need a nice bathmat.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day.

I'm home with a cold and a mope; some of us don't have plans tonight, some of us are looking forward to nice dinners, some of us will get flowers today, some of us won't, and many of us are grouchy.

So here is a crazy cat picture.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Thank you for the kind words...

I really do appreciate them, and the warmth of the blogging community.

But what you should really do is go read my previous post about new sweater designs and look at the funny cat pictures.

Right now I am trying to focus on the wonderful things left in the world. Which is definitely what this grandmother would have done. She was a real 'positive attitude' type. That attitude and determination doubtless helped her manage to enjoy three years with a diagnosis of stage 4 cancer; she felt lucky to have the time she did.

So let's think about the good things. Like my kitty eating grass (you must go down and look at those pictures). Like the Clapotis, which blocked out to a dizzying 72" x 22" and looks like an azure sky over green grass on a sunny day:

And just to warm your day, here is a little bit of Secret Yarnination. This lovely apricot-colored stuff is a commissioned piece that I was asked to do nearly a year ago. I didn't have the knitting skill to cope with novelty/mohair then, but I felt I was up to it now. It's done except for an... embellishment, so I'll show you the final when it's done and out the door to the person who commissioned it, who will be surprised, I think, at how it turned out. But hopefully pleased.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The rain has come at last.

And we got word early this morning that my grandmother died in her sleep last night, which after the last two weeks of pain and discomfort — given that we knew there was nothing we could do for her — gives a sense of peace along with the loss.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The call of the wool.

When I was a child/pre-teen, among my million interests*, I enjoyed drawing up designs for clothing that I dreamed of making for myself and my friends. I didn't know how to sew – and still can't manage to follow a sewing pattern without getting confused midway through and giving up.

Still, I could hand-stitch, and I believed that if I designed my own pattern, I could somehow figure it all out. I never managed to make up any of those fanciful designs, mainly featuring puffy sleeves, laced broad belts and full skirts. I'd look like a Ding-Dong in them now!

*Er. I still seem to have a million interests.

So it comes as no surprise that I'm trying to do my own sweater designs now. I still want to do Big Star, but my hands are sore and need a break from the cot/lin. And when I actually held the Araucania Nature Wool (still on sale at Webs, guys!) in my hands and looked at it in the light, it told me it didn't quite want to be Bristow (that might instead be the fate of some eggplant silk/wool I picked up). So... I looked through old stitch pattern books, then started swatching. (Click to embiggen, as always.)

First I swatched two different needle sizes on the Vandyke stitch that caught my eye, along with stockinette. To my pleased surprise, the gauge is the same between the Vandyke and stockinette. I went with the upper sample, with US size 5s, roughly 4.25 spi.
Then I tried a couple stitch patterns for the button band. I decided the first one was too subtle, and went for the more defined diamonds on top.

Finally, I swatched the transition between the Vandyke and the button band.

These are my initial notes for the pattern, just in case you are interested. I don't draw well, particularly late at night when I have a sudden pattern idea, but I think you might get the notion here — Vandyke pattern up to the upper chest, then stockinette from there; the arms will start stockinette just below the elbow and may get a line of Vs up the arm (but maybe not). Possible shawl collar. Possible crocheted edging, so I am doing a provisional cast-on.

We'll see. We'll see if I even finish it! So far, my gauge is completely mucked up after 4 inches of knitting, so I think I'm going to rip and start over.

It's grey today and we are praying for rain. I went outside to enjoy the quiet air. I was relieved to see that my datura is coming back from the dead (i.e. being in a hard freeze for several days and losing all its leaves a couple weeks ago).

In other news, our cat thinks she's a sheep:

Friday, February 09, 2007

Finally through with the clap —

—otis, that is. I didn't have gonorrhea. Nor was I involved in the Child Labour Action Programme. (I do love Wikipedia...)
I couldn't get a great shot this morning — kind of damp outside, limiting where I could, with abandon, toss the Clapotis. Here is a kind of goofy shot of it on me:

Stats: Clapotis from Knitty, US #8 Boye circs (ugh), Sundara DK Silky Merino in "Caterpillar", 3 skeins (using almost all of them). No modifications. 65" x 21" before blocking. More pics after blocking — I think it will grow a lot.

Check out these bumpin' stitch markers! These were the generous gift of one of the other knitters involved with Knit for the Kidlets, to whom I sent some crocheted hats. I don't feel I deserved them, but I certainly will enjoy them!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Back home, and ohhh so close.

That hotel may be fancy and all that, but there is no place like home. I'm glad to be back, had a beautiful drive through the desert and the mountains. The drive to/from Phoenix is really something and, at 6 hours of travel (5.5 hours driving plus 30 minutes of stops), I never mind the distance. Plus, I get a chance to drive really fast (where "really" = ~110 these days — I'm definitely getting old, faster is way too scary) for small portions of the road where it's clear, straight, and non-cop-infested. I was fairly wasted when I got home, though.

Clapotis is nearing the finish line, finally!

I do realize that isn't the most gracious of poses. With a little luck I'll actually finish it tonight. I'll probably have to photograph it at least once before I block it. It's so incredibly soft — Sundara DK Silky Merino — that I just want to bury my face in it all the time. (But really, one should use Kleenex for that..)

Er. anyway.

I can't always e-mail those of you who comment, because the email address doesn't show. So: Hi Viv! I haven't been to Tucson for a long time, but I had a couple torrid romances out there in the past that gave me a lot of time in your town. I've set a few crime short stories in Tucson. It still has that Old West Outlaw feel to some degree.

And yup, Spinny, those are true saguaro cacti — arms and all. We don't get saguaro in San Diego (unless transplanted), though we have quite a lot of prickly pear, even right down near the ocean.

You're all cordially invited to come visit me if you ever need some sunshine... We have a guest room and are quite accustomed to hot-and-cold running house guests.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Crazy-posh hotel.

Recently, when travelling for business, I've used Priceline's "Name Your Own Price" trick to try to score rooms in ultra-fancy hotels for dirt cheap.

Boy did I.

I'm in Scottsdale, AZ, at the Camelback Inn. The best rate I can score on Marriott's site, for the type of room I'm in ("deluxe casita 1 king or 2 double beds, private entrance, private patio"), which is the lowest priced, is $499/night. !!!! But I offered and got it on Priceline for $110/night (this is costing my university $75/night less than the conference hotel). Insane. Just completely insane.

Let me show you what I mean.

This is a view of my room from the far end, looking back towards the front door. It's very Southwest, with what looks like an authentic Native American rug on the wall and beautiful pottery in niches all around. You can see about 2/3 of the room: one of the beds, the little kitchenette, the bureau (desk behind it, that I'm typing at now), the front door and the door to the insane bathroom 'suite'.

You can't see the whole bathroom in the pic below; to the left is a closet, then a large glass shower stall, then the toilet; here you can see the bathtub at the end and the sinks and some more niches-full-of-pottery on the right.
I do realize I'm overusing the word "insane", but this hotel room is bigger than some apartments.

This is the view from my "private patio":

It's extremely quiet here. The "casitas" are 4- or 5-plexes, and there's plenty of space in between. The air is nice and desert-scented. Mostly you just hear birds and the occasional car drifting by. It feels very much like a campground!

I took a stroll over the 125-acre grounds. Here is my little casita:
There are birds everywhere, including tons of quail and many hummingbirds. This is the best shot I got of the quail, which are irresistibly cute. We get quail in our backyard in San Diego, but they're a different kind, I believe.

This is one of the front courtyards. My casita is high up on the hillside; this is down nearly to the bottom.

Here are some of the guest casitas:

It was getting dark so this pic has the brightness amped up and looks hazy, but this is the swimming pool. I stupidly didn't bring a swimsuit. Because, ya know, it's February? {sigh} but it's lovely warm. Oh well.I think I'm just going to enjoy my four nights here as much as I can. Because I doubt very much I'm ever going to be able to pull this off again. Wow.

Oh yeah, I'm knitting. And the conference is great so far. But, more later!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Here's the deal...

One of these is going to fit. One doesn't. Perhaps it's now clear why :-)

Incidentally, for those (like Mangs* apparently) unfamiliar with felting, you can felt a knit wool object by shaking it vigorously in hot water (or running it through the wash). Many of us (raises hand!) have done this by accident. Many knitters do it on purpose; that's how Jen created the lovely entrelac bag she made me for Christmas. The wool becomes thicker, stiffer, and, well, felt-i-er. I wore a felt beret as a Junior Girl Scout when I was 13, and I loved it (though I did not much care for Girl Scouting).

I still haven't decided what to do with the big one. The funny thing is that originally neither of these berets was meant for me. But the person I had in mind for them has, if anything, a narrower head than mine, so they can't have the big one. And I want the little one!

What is it about knitting... I would rather knit for myself than anyone else. Sad. Or, possibly just reflecting my selfish nature ;-)

Eine kleine wollenmusik:

This is some of my Webs closeouts loot. I couldn't get the colors right, but the upper left-hand Valentine-y skein is Araucania Magallanes, as is the upper-right blue-yellow one. I think the pinky one will make mittens and the blue-yellow one may make another beret (they're awfully fun). The grey is some Araucania Nature Wool. I bought it because it's practical — I need grey, black, tan and brown cardigans for work, where I wear a cardi nearly every day.

To be honest, I don't like this grey much in the skein. In real life it's kind of steely blue-grey, and it's hard to love as a skein. But I think it'll make a gorgeous Bristow. April is a terrible influence! But, you should still visit her blog because she's having an awesome contest all February long. She's giving away 30 skeins of sock yarn. You know you want it!

I did more damage at Webs, but it won't arrive for another week. Meanwhile there are all the Phoenix/Scottsdale area yarn stores.. I'm heading to ol' AZ tomorrow to party with the Zonies, er, I mean attend a conference.

* My nickname for Mangonelle is proof that I am a fan of a-ha. If you know why, you're probably a fan of a-ha too. We can hide our shameful secret from the world together. Except that I just let it out. Oops.