Monday, April 30, 2007

Real quick now...

I finished Bristow! Sewed on the last button and wove in the ends on the ride to Los Angeles.

I am in Australia! We arrived on Monday midday Perth time, had lunch with my mother-in-law and Rob's first cousin and his wife, took a stroll in the rain, and then I had a bowl of cereal for supper and went to bed at 8 p.m. and slept until 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. All about par for the course.

No time to take pics of Bristow yet, but it fits and I am SO pleased with it. I wore it all the way here and I'm wearing it now and I may never take it off except to wash it. Well, maybe I'm exaggerating just a bit. Who needs to wash it?

Heh. Just kidding.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


You can tell I'm going on vacation Saturday. I'm not even reading blogs. I'm racing around finishing errands, projects, responsibilities so I can leave town with a free conscience. But all the while, I'm mildly distracted by the notion that by next week, none of this is going to matter to me. At least not for a while!

I'll be in Australia for a month (we always go for a month. I realize it sounds decadent, but you have to travel ~30 hours all up to get from San Diego to Perth, and I have about three days of jet lag after we arrive, so that's more than 4 days gone right there. That said, I'm lucky to get enough vacation to do this). I will probably read blogs a little bit while I'm there, but it'll be over a shared dialup connection, so very very slow. Please forgive me if I don't comment on your blogs as often as I usually do. I will return May 28 :-)

I think I might actually finish Bristow in time for the trip. I was having trouble with the seams; I do love mattress stitch, but lining it up isn't always as easy as books would have you believe, and the black yarn was stymieing (argh. I cannot spell that. Current tense of 'stymied'?) me. So I came up with a trick — mark all the increases and decreases with yarn, so I can see short distances to the next line-up goal. It works!

I finished both arms, realizing as I was nearly done with the right arm that I had reversed most of the k2tog vs ssks on the edges. Oops. But I am not ripping. If you look closely, you can probably see the difference, but I think it's tough enough to notice on the black yarn that I'm not going to bother. I want this sweater done!

Current status: both arms seamed. Left front sewn to the back. One arm is half set in. Nearly done with the knitting of the right front. Then it's just finish setting in front, arms, and knit up the button bands and collar. I will make it!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Return of crafty content!

It does seem like all I talk about is my cat, lately. But there is some knitting going on:

I'm really trying to finish Bristow before I leave for Australia (in a week and a half!). Not like I have anything else to do before we leave, of course. But as you can see, I'm about 2/3 done with the 2nd arm, and then there's just the right front (smaller than an arm), seaming and button band/collar. I might do some seaming en route, I like doing it as I go. I don't know for sure that this sweater is going to fit — that's always a surprise — but I do think it's going to be lovely and I can't wait to finish.

I'm knitting this with some Kona Bay Wool that I picked up on sale at Webs a while back. This is a nice, classic wool, a bit on the light side (yardage is good), quite spongy. The only problem is that nearly every hank has had one knot in it. That's not too bad, but it makes for more ends to weave in than one might otherwise hope. Still, not many, since this comes in 100gm hanks (love those).

Some birthday loot now. The fabulous and incredibly talented Elinoire did me up a freezer-stencil nightshirt for my birthday (how did she know I needed a nightshirt?). She is becoming really expert at freezer stencils. Sorry these pictures aren't pristine, but I had to wear it immediately. Look at the darling mouse napping on the sugar bowl! And the rabbit with the hat and cups of tea! (Look, Rocky, I can make a cup of tea come out of a hat.)

Not only is it cute, she picked a really soft Lands' End nightshirt to work it on. Mmm, happy me.

And here is my birthday gift from April — a sweater's worth of lovely Quechua. I know, it doesn't photograph well when it's in double bagging, but I'm leaving it that way for now. I've {cough} long run out of plastic box space, and we are having a bit of a mouse resurgence in the garage. This is what happens when your cat goes on 'radiation vacation' too often. I can't wait to actually knit this yummy stuff up.

Sunday, en route to Los Angeles, I met up with some friends in Laguna Beach for a lovely lunch. After lunch I had a half-hour to kill, otherwise I'd end up in Los Angeles too early (my aunt was meeting me to let me into my grandmother's house for my final visit there). So of course, I found the nearest knitting store, Strands and Stitches. I was just there to buy a cable needle, but of course an additional $30 worth of stuff hopped into my bag:
All off the sale shelf. You know how it is!

This is a neat little shop. If you're ever in Laguna Beach, stop there! The folks are super friendly, and there is lots of yummy yarn (though organized by color, which makes it great for browsing but tough if you actually know what you want).

While I was there, someone called the shop, convinced it was a kite shop. No matter how the proprietress tried to persuade him it was a yarn shop, he insisted he wanted a dragon kite. When she got off the phone we all tried to think if there was a way to knit a flightworthy dragon kite...

And the cat? Resting comfortably in Radiation Jail.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Kinda blue.

On Sunday, I drove up to Los Angeles to say goodbye to my maternal grandparents' house, which my grandparents moved into the day before I was born. It's being cleared out, and will be put on the market while I am in Australia. I also took cuttings of some of the plants, ones that had been gifts from my father's father to my mother's parents about 40 years ago: stephanotis, gardenia, loquat and a champagne grapevine. I took photos, but mysteriously, the pictures I took of the gardenia and the stephanotis were corrupted :-(

Here is the grapevine:So that was a bit challenging, and then I went to my meeting at UCLA on Monday, after which I found out that the radioactive iodine treatment that Laila (our cat) had a couple of weeks ago was not successful, and she needs to be re-treated.


This means that, since we're leaving the country in less than two weeks and she will be radioactive for three, this will be the last night we get to sleep with her in the bed for a month and a half. And she will have a sucky week in radiation jail.

I should be happy because I'm making good progress on my sweater, because Laila is, after all, treatable, and because I'm going on vacation in two weeks. But right now, I am feeling sad.

Friday, April 13, 2007

So I learned some things.

Last night I set up painstakingly (threading size-2 needles through the row I wanted to rip to), ripped back, and restarted knitting from row 107.

'cept it wasn't row 107. I had counted wrong. It was row 101.

I hadn't knit on long enough originally, and by the time I pieced together all of my errors, I would have had a 20.5" arm following instructions. This isn't a complaint about the pattern. It's a comment on my sloppiness.

I am somewhat proud of my slapdash attitude in life. I do get things done, and (at least usually) don't obsess over perfection. But 3" long sleeves would have been a bit of a problem.

As planned, I altered my increase interval and my end result will be a good 2" shorter than otherwise. It will also not be full of screwups and, hence, fail to match the other arm. Sometimes it's worth correcting errors. SOMETIMES.

When Rob saw me taking the photo above he leaned out the bedroom window and yelled down, "isn't that gilding the lily?"

I don't know what he's talking about.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Rob and I spent four hours last night (in addition to three hours already spent on this) figuring out — because, natch, the evil TurboTax does NOT help with this part — that we owe $40 in penalties on our taxes. I think we finally finished our taxes around midnight-thirty.

Right before we started on this delightful task, I had discovered that the Universe Wants Me to Fix The Sweater Arm. I'd missed a couple increases as I went along, on the left side only, towards the end of the increases. So I need to rip (about 1/4 to 1/3 of the arm), and while I'm fixing it, I might as well increase faster (every 4 rows instead of every 6) and end up with a shorter arm. (Well, and then I'd better remember to do the other one the same way.)

I was not fool enough to try to set up for the rip in the middle of the night.

But then I got a great birthday gift from the generous (and witty) April: a gift certificate for, enough for a sweater!

I am no fool.
I spent it immediately.
I feel much better.

20 skeins of Elann Quechua (65% alpaca, 35% Tencel) in Vicuña. I realize it seems plain, but I have three worn-out cardigans in this color and I wear a cardigan every darned day.

Plus with the Tencel it'll have a sheen like no one's business.

Ahhhhhh. Thank you, April.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


So my brilliant notion to simply knit the arms shorter has been defeated. The instructions said that once I finished the arm increases, to knit in patt to 18". I figured I'd knit to maybe 17.25". But once I'd finished the arm increases, I was already at 19.5". My row gauge on the front/back was okay, and though I haven't checked it on the arm, I'm betting it's okay. Probably the designer didn't test knit in all sizes, and this is just a quirk.

Am I going to reknit it? Because, ya know, now it's going to be 2" too long, pretty much guaranteed?

Of course not. I'm lazy and I want to finish this by April 28, when we leave for Perth. Plus, hey! I can push up my sleeves a bit, can't I?

I will distract you from my laziness with some more spring roses. You can almost smell them, can't you?:

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Been birthday'd

Rob gave me a bumpin' gift (I wasn't there when "bumpin'" was cool to say, so I'm making up for it now that it's not): An 80 Gigabyte, yep 80 Gig iPod and a blue skin for it. Here it is basking under the cloud-drifted sky:

My old iPod was named "my little sheep" (a rather strange reference to my old 'dog' in Nethack). This one seemed to call for something different, and therefore I have dubbed it 'my little hamster'. Since it's bigger than the sheep, this made sense. Somehow.

He also gave me a bunch of CDs (Lene Marlin, Yann Tiersen, Maritime, and other goodies off my Amazon wish list) to add to my already ridiculous collection. I have an insatiable appetite for music. Yay, new tunez!

I didn't manage to knit a whole lot this weekend as I was busy being morose over TurboTax (going back to tried-and-true calculator and pencil next year, this program irritates me) and having a cold, but here is the progress on the left arm. I decided to do the arm after the left front, as I was already in the groove for the left-hand cable pattern, plus when I finish the arm I'll be nearly half done and is that cool? So I'm about 2/3 way up the arm. Might be more than that, actually, as I've just begun to remember that I have short arms and though really that should means I should have increased at shorter intervals, I'm probably just going to stop short of the full length called for and pray the arms aren't too tight... I don't think I have particularly fat arms for my size, so hopefully this plan will work.

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Progress #1: Back and left front of Bristow, steam-blocked and ready to seam. And the start of the left arm. When I finish the arm I'll be just under half-done! Woo. So far I am on gauge and everything is going creepily well. I'm worried. :)

Progress #2: I'm slowly getting the downstairs ready for steam cleaning the carpets. They are disgusting. We steam clean them about every three months. I like to blame the cat for tracking in dirt and hey! radiation!

Progress #3: Me at 2 1/2. I turn 42 on Monday. I don't think I've changed, really.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Why did I buy these?

I'm mystified. It's not that there's anything wrong with the yarn; it appears to be very nice cotton-acrylic chained yarn, in a pretty lime green color, approximately sport weight or a bit lighter ** EDITED TO ADD: sigh. only if you can't read. They say 19 st. per 4", which is worsted **. But there are only two skeins of it. It's not sock yarn. What did I think I was going to make with it? Did I mean to order 20 skeins, not 2, and just typo in the order box? Did I actually order more but they only had 2 left? I haven't the foggiest idea (and the cold medicines fuzzing up my brain are not helping).

I bought them ** EDITED TO ADD: I ordered these a week ago. So seriously, how can I not remember? **
at the same time as I bought a bunch of Addis, and this:

Now I know I said I wasn't going to buy any more sock yarn, and okay, I lied, but at least I do remember ordering these.

What can I do with just two skeins of Kim?

I have nothing else to show you. Either the cold or the cold medicine meant I did no knitting yesterday. And photos of me lying on the couch with my laptop just aren't that interesting ;-)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I think I sneezed about a hundred times this afternoon.

I suddenly came down with a cold. I mean *suddenly*. One minute I was fine, happily working away; the next minute my face hurt, I was congested, I was sneezing, and I couldn't hear out of my left ear. I am now home, with tea and (radioactive) cat to comfort me.

I have apparently contracted a bug.

Not this one, though. He's a cutie, isn't he? I spotted him while going out to watch the scrub jays harrassing the cat. They do this with some provocation, to be fair.

** UPDATED TO ADD ** -- thanks to Perry and others who helped me identify this little guy as a Coccinella septempunctata larva (Sevenspotted Lady Beetle). I love ladybugs!

Sorry for the long silence. Passover got in the way, plus I kept leaving my knitting at work (why it was there in the first place is a mystery). But now I can show you:

Exciting black stockinette, mostly, but what's relevant here is that I finished the back of Bristow and I'm 1/3 of the way into the left front! I really want to take this to Australia with me, and it seems I have at least a faint hope of making that deadline.

And this is some so-soft Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud destashed by April, knitting into Christine (Talullah's World)'s lovely "Gift of Friendship" scarf, using yes! the new Addi Turbo Lace needles. It's really hard to find these in stock anywhere; I only managed to get size US #4s. But they are absolutely as great as advertised. They are the nicest needles I've ever used for lace, and maybe for regular knitting as well. The tips almost magically zip into the stitches. Christine's simple, seductive pattern is pleasant to knit, and the needles only enhance the good experience. This is my first time knitting with laceweight yarn, and it's a bit nerve-wracking, but I think, thanks to a good pattern and good equipment, I may survive ;-)