Saturday, June 30, 2007

A teaser...

I'll be posting the Laguna Seca pattern in a day or so, but here are some hints in the meantime:

Sunday, June 24, 2007

I wasn't trying for identical.

Which is a good thing, as I'd have been disappointed. But I love, love, love these socks! SO comfy. I want to wear them all the time, despite the heat. Finished in 1 week, using Cascade Fixation and US size #2 dpns. April, sorry, but I'm starting to actually.. LIKE.. knitting with Fixation. Wacky.

There was a bunch of yarn left, because I'd made the legs shorter than trek's pattern, so I decided to make some newborn socks. I put together a pretty simple pattern which I'll try to get posted soon. The only cute tricks are that I put a little ribbing under the foot to help the sock stay on, and that I did a modified round toe using garter stitch.

Sorry about the blurry picture, but aren't they irresistible? Now I just need to find someone who just had a baby.

I'm making progress on the Jo Sharp sofa cushion, but there just isn't much to see. It's miles of endless booboos. I knit 1 row, I rip out 2/3 of the row and fix it. I don't know how I can make so many mistakes with such a simple pattern, but I do.

I started some secret yarnination tonight! If all goes well, you can see it in a week :-)

Monday, June 18, 2007

It fits!

We had quite a social weekend, seeing friends or family Friday night, Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon. During the driving around I managed to start and finish one of trek's Pilchard socks:

You might remember that I tried one of these before, and had just turned the heel when I realized it was going to be WAY too big. I can't get anything like trek's gauge in Cascade Fixation! Going down in needle size just doesn't help. I'm not able to knit that tightly, even though I do know tight knitting makes for better-wearing socks.

This time I started with 56 stitches instead of 64. I skipped the leg patterning on the heel flap, and knit a modified French toe instead of a standard wedge toe (as that tends to fit my chunky little feet better). The sock looks a little goofy off (the elongated French toe is kinda silly looking) but it fits like a dream:

And on Father's Day, I discovered the upsize I did on the Little Star cardigan fits a certain Little Star pretty darned well too!

So I promise I'll write the size two version up soon :-)

(Today, alas, I've been feeling like crap — blistering sore throat, exhaustion. I think stress and exhaustion just whacked my immune system. I slept a few extra hours and then just rested today, and I'm doing much better this evening, if still tired.)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Woo! I feel like I won a prize.

Now, you'll think that's a surprising thing to say when I'll also tell you that the work situation is Still Totally Up in the Air. We'll get a tentative new org chart around July 5. Meanwhile? No news. Still not even the slightest clue where I'll fit into the new org.

But, you see, I've got my Knitters' Tea Swap package from Julie at Stoneview. And boy was it cheering! Look at all these parcels...

First of all, WOW. I did see these honeys of handmade tea towels on Julie's blog.
I did not guess they were for ME. memememememe.
They are so, so, so cute.
And she sewed them.
And then, ya know, embroidered them.
Wow. This is why I feel like I won a prize.

Damn, they are cute.

But wait! There's more!

Inside this unassuming burlap bag was a spotted leopard.

Spotted Leopard tea, to be exact. From Julie's town, and what a selection!This is Out of Africa, an amazing-smelling blend of coconut, chocolate, vanilla, rooibos and black tea, Crazy Coconut black tea, Chubby Cherub apple/mango herbal blend, Blue Moon blueberry/mixed berry blend, Tsavo Citrus mixed citrus green tea, and Apple Matunda apple green. Oh, man. These are all my favorite. I love me a good flavored black tea, love fruit teas, love citrus green, love apple green. I'm already in heaven. If that weren't enough, Julie included little single-use teabags to steep these all in.

These darling things are handmade origami bookmarks by Julie. They fix onto the corner of a book to keep your place, and what a lovely way to do it.

Julie has a tutorial on making these on her blog, in case you like papercraft. (A.I-C., you must check out her blog!!)

Since I have entered the UCSD Library Summer Reading Contest, I'll be using these! (You can see from her blog that Julie, like me, is a bibliophile.)

Last but definitely not least, there are yummy Ginger Chews, Forever Jacquard sock yarn in great neutrals (y'all know how I love my neutrals) and some hand-spun "mostly cotswold" from Spencer Brook Farm in Concord MA (where I've spent many a happy vacation day browsing around the Alcott cottage).

I guess I should start knitting again. But perhaps I'll brew some tea first.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Who wanted drageés?

I posted some pictures of Christmas cookies back in December, and fellow Californian bakers squealed, because apparently metallic drageés have been outlawed in California. Well, humph. Some just happened to climb into my suitcase on my way home from Australia. How was I to know they are illegal? If you live in California and want a share in the loot, make sure I (1) know and (2) have your address (if I don't work with you). They are an unusual mix of colors, silvers, golds and blue-green if I remember correctly (they're upstairs). You know you want 'em. Email me at valerie [at] grasslimb [dot] com.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Strangely, Australia is not a great place to shop for yarn.

You'd think it would be, because Australia is known worldwide for its merino (among others), and container ships laden with sheep leave Perth's harbor daily.

But it turns out that Australia has only about three yarn mills. Because of this, most Australian merino is processed into yarn in Italy. Many Italian brands boast of "100% Australian merino."

My quest to buy Real Australian Yarn had a few successes. I found Bilby Yarns, in Perth, which helps local ranchers who raise sheep with colored wool to process and sell the resultant undyed yarn. I found some nice New Zealand wool (they seem to have more mills, and of course Naturally New Zealand is a great NZ brand). And in the Blue Mountains was a great little wool shop in Katoomba where I finally bought myself some yarn (I got a few gifties along the way).

I picked up a couple Jo Sharp books, and some of her wool to make a sofa cushion. I loved this color in the store, but the lighting must have been weird, because I thought it was red. It's not — it's brown-based — but it's still a nice color.

The image at the start of this post shows progress on the diagonal-rib cushion so far. It's semi-mindless, which is good right now.

I also bought this Cleckheaton Country Prints because I couldn't resist it. In the store, the colors also looked different — brighter, somehow. I still like them, but they're different than I expected. I think I'll try to make them into knee socks. Maybe.

I admit I haven't had much energy for knitting. I just finished a 10.75-hour day and expect a lot more of them in the coming weeks as I serve on all the transition teams for the absorption of my old department by the new. I don't expect to know what my new job will be, what my reporting structure will be, or much of anything until towards the end of the month, so that's why I haven't said much in response to your e-mails — I'm not playing anything close to the chest, I just don't know. I'm trying to focus on my (current) staff and seeing that each of them is pitched appropriately and strongly to the new department so they'll end up in positions that they both will be successful in and, hopefully, will enjoy. Work takes a lot of hours of one's life... so if at all possible, it should be at least somewhat enjoyable!