Saturday, September 29, 2007

No real knitting to show, so..

I've been working on a sleeve of Khaki Cables, but I took a number of days off knitting because of hand problems, and the progress just isn't exciting. So I will distract you with garden and house plant photos. Many of these plants were gifts from my friend Nancy, who is very generous with cuttings. September is just the start of the harvest in San Diego, despite the slight autumnal turn in temperature.

Little green tomatoes:

These are mini and regular sized African violets:

And finally — this last little cutting doesn't look like much, but it represents hope to me.

Back in 1965, when I was born and my maternal grandparents moved into their home high in the Hollywood Hills, my paternal grandparents gave my maternal grandparents the gift of some plants for their new home — cuttings from their own garden. They gave them a stephanotis, a champagne grape, a gardenia. They also had a loquat — we're not sure if this was a gift or a suggestion.

My last grandparent died in February, and this summer, the house was sold. We took cuttings from the plants, and tried hard to get them going, but it was a challenge. My parents' and aunt's attempts all failed. Mine were looking pretty grim, and just before the house went out of escrow, I grabbed a last few. Many of those died too. I was left with just one success — a grapevine cutting that took — and a couple of cuttings in water that haven't yet completely given out. The cuttings in soil mostly died, and I was puzzled by this one remaining gardenia twig, which I'd planted back in April and which was, oddly, still green despite having no leaves. Until last week:
It's blurry, I know, but you can see tiny baby leaves peeking out from the top of the cutting where the dead leaves are. That was a few days ago and now they are starting to unfurl a little. Cross your fingers and make a wish for me!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Things come back.

The holidays are over. I got some incredible compliments from the instructors I had for my mediation course, which got passed on to me by the woman who runs the credentialing program today. I had my last session my dental work for now. And look what came in the mail:

I can't get the colors right — man this is lovely plying work — and it's merino/tencel, so it glows like nobody's business.

If you haven't seen Kraftie's blog, she's been doing some amazing spinning lately. I've been watching her progress with a sense of the magic of it, watching her turn beautiful roving into breathtaking yarn. And now she has gifted me with some.

No words adequately express the gift of handspun. I've been lucky enough to receive several treasured skeins from spinners around the net, and I always have a great reverence for the yarn. I have to find just the right project. Melinda's made a lovely shawl; Alyson's is being saved for mittens, once I get colorwork down; etc.

This is enough yarn for socks or a tiny shawl, and trim on another project (mittens?). I'll have to think about it. This yarn ROCKS. Thank you, Kraftie! And thanks so much for cheering my day. Yay.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Slowing down for September

September bites my butt, every year. The Jewish holidays happen, I tend to get sick or injured (after the eye thing, I've messed up my back — re-irritating an old tailbone injury which has mysteriously caused pain in my shoulder and left arm. It's improving thanks to good therapy), and work always has some nonsense up its sleeve for me too. Maybe there's a little sadness at the ending of summer? So anyway, my posts have slowed as I, too, slow down and stumble a little. It's all right, though.

This is the nearly-completed (I've since finished and started on a sleeve) back of the lovely Khaki Cables. I cabled without a cable needle on this whole section, and learned something interesting and hard to fathom: my gauge changes when I cable without a cable needle. Just a little bit width-wise — but I was predicting that, and it's not enough to matter (it'll add up to maybe 1" wider around, which is perfectly fine). The weird thing is it's longer — early an inch longer than the front I already knit. I should be able to handle this in the blocking, so it's not worrying me at all, but it's very strange.

Why so strange?

Because it's longer in the seed stitch section as well.

So it can't be because I'm cabling w/o a cable needle, can it? Maybe I just loosened my gauge in general. Except the gauge width-wise is spot on in the seed stitch section.

Oh, I don't know. I don't know that I really care, either, since it's manageable. It's just piqued my curiosity. :-)

What's this?

Looks pretty weird, huh. It's the beginning of my attempt to teach myself Huichol beadwork. I textured this old Jelly Belly container with the sander on my Dremel, then coated it with beeswax, and now I'm having fun with seed beeds. Letcha know when it's done... I have no idea if it'll really work or not. But, ya know, I needed another hobby...

Monday, September 03, 2007

Eyeless at 103 degrees

Well, I haven't lost my eyes, and the 103 degrees is the temperature outside — not mine :-) — but I had to do without the computer for a few days. I'm back! I got some sort of odd viral infection or inflammation (docs weren't too sure) that affected the nerves under my eyeballs. The pain was pretty unpleasant, and I was told to rest in a dimly lit room and stay away from the computer. It healed fast, though; I'm pretty decent now as long as I am taking ibuprofen and acetomenophen, and I expect I'll be 100% in another couple of days.

I did manage to knit, because I don't need to look closely at my knitting with this pattern. It really is SO easy to memorize. Though I admit I had to drop it back and fix a few booboos from time to time, chiefly because the yarn is slippery and it's easy to accidentally knit two stitches together and not notice for a few rows.

I like this pattern, but you can't sleep when you're reading it. On the front, you're told to execute the armhole and shoulder shaping "as for the back." But you have to be watchful; "BO 8 stitches at the beginning of every row 6 times" is really "BO 8 stitches at the beginning of every right-side row 3 times" when you're only doing one half. Fortunately I had done all this fancy shaping before I got the eye problem; the back is the part I did while semi-eyeless.

Another interesting thing about the pattern is measuring length. Notice the way the back looks a bit scalloped at the bottom? That's because, unblocked, the Y-shape column is significantly longer than the seed stitch sections. The cable columns are roughly in between. I measured all three for each step (when to start decreasing for the neck, when to start binding off for the armhole, etc) and then took the average. Hopefully this will turn out okay. You might think I should take the Y-shape measurement, but I don't know precisely how this will block out. I don't know if I can actually block the seed stitch to grow that much, and I may want to try to press the Ys closer together. So I'm crossing my fingers. I really want to wear this puppy. (Though that's hard to imagine right now, when our bedroom is 84 degrees at night. Alpaca and tencel. Goodness.)

The eye thang made the three-day weekend a little useless; I spent Friday and Saturday on the sofa with the shades drawn, listening to podcasts with a cold-pack on my eyes and knitting occasionally. Sunday we made it out to a party for a few hours. Today, I finally felt well enough to try to catch up, and managed to do a bunch of work on my finances, prepare some of Grasslimb labels for shipping (it comes back from the printer this week), and launch an assault on the Argentine ants that have taken over the house (ugh).

Rob wasn't idle either; he worked on putting up our gargoyle doorbell (after 7 years of hanging upside-down from a hole by its wires) — pictures tomorrow when the glue is all dry — fixed our solar power system, which had gone bust sometime last month (not noticed, alas, until the electric bill came and showed twice the usual usage), and vacuumed out the coils under the fridge. They were really nasty. Want to see something gross?

<-- Before


Just so you don't get too yucked out, we'll end with something good to come of the persistent over-100-degree temperatures: