Sunday, October 28, 2007

I'm *such* a five.

U.S. size 5 (3.75mm), that is. It seems to be my favorite needle size, closely followed by U.S. size 4 (3.5 mm). This is how I discovered I have too many WIPs -->

I don't know if you can see (click to make big), but there is a distinct gap in the size 5s, and a sizeable one in the 4s. No needles to start the new project with — a baby cardi for my friend Matt's son Austin, for Christmas. Now that was unacceptable.

Twitching to get my hands on the Debbie Bliss Cotton DK I'd bought for the project, I was forced to finish a WIP instead.

Cheryl, my Other Secret Pal in 2006, had gifted me with three skeins of Linen Isle (cotton/linen/rayon) yarn in a greeny-beigy-grey color (hard to describe). I had hoped to knit a dish towel of it, but there wasn't enough, so I ended up with a big washcloth. This is what it looked like before its bath, after I finished it this morning. (I stayed up late last night trying to finish, but I didn't quite make it.)

After its bath and a run through the dryer — which I'm told is recommended for linen, despite the "no dryer" note on the yarn tag — it's a bit smaller, cushy and thick, and incredibly drapey and soft. In another color, I'd definitely make a summer top from this stuff. It knits like twine, but it will probably wear like iron and stay soft. I don't know exactly what I'll use this for, but for now, I just squeeze it a lot. Mm, squeezy.

And then I had a size 5 to make this swatch:

The swatch will become a Geordie Stripe Cardigan from Natural Knits for Babies and Moms. I could not get gauge even in a size 5, and you have to use a smaller size for the edge. I know that even in a size 3 I will not get gauge; changing needles seems to help me very little gaugewise, I must adjust my tension somehow. I usually have a gauge for a particular yarn and I can't fight it. So I'm accepting the 4.5 spi on this (instead of 5). That means the 12-month size, with 18-month lengths, should fit; the baby will be 11 months at Christmas, but his dad is 6'3", so I'm guessing he's a big boy, and I want the sweater to fit until late spring (they are in the Bay Area, cooler than here, and it's cotton).

After a day and a half of enthusiastic garage-cleaning (there's a path now, at least!), I baked some awesome ginger-pecan pumpkin-spiced beer bread this afternoon. Today I go off to carve pumpkins with Colleen and Elinoire, too.

It's a relief to get back to some normalcy, but two of our friends have lost their homes (that we know of) in the fires. So for some people, there will be no normal. Not for a long time. And even then, it will be a different normal. :-/

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

We decided to evacuate.

We weren't called, just decided it was too close to get any sleep. We are at Elinoire's cottage in an urban area closer to the center city. Cat and bird are fine, exploring their new surrounds. More tomorrow.

UPDATE: The fire has turned northwards in our vicinity, so we were easily able to go home and are probably in no danger. We will still sleep at Elinoire's (cat and bird are there) tonight for maximum sleep and minimum smoke. The fire is 0% contained and they don't expect containment for a week, so we're not out of the woods yet. Still, it felt good to go home for a while. We're in a colo facility right now trying to fix my email (vpolichar at gmail dot com is still the best bet for now). Thanks for the good thoughts.

I'm knitting! I guess the stress finally lowered to the point where I could. Khaki cables sleeve #2 is making progress at last.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Alive and waiting (fires).

MANY people we know have been evacuated.
The fires are mostly not at all contained.
We may have to evacuate in next 12 hours, but we are safe, alive, and ready to go.
My email is broken -- use if you need me.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


I am still working on Khaki Cables. I finished one arm — won't know if I'm REALLY finished with it until I baste things together and try it on, because I still don't know about the length — and started the next. When I finish that, it's just one front, collar/button band and assembly.

But today, I fixed our sofa. There's no before and after shot, but what I did (with Rob's help) was to turn the sofa over, pull the staples out, take off the lining and check the springs; Rob helped me tighten one of them which was loose. Then I took the foam out of the seat cushions, went to an industrial foam source and got new foam and batting, went home, wrapped the new foam in batting, and stuck it in the cushion covers. It feels like a brand new sofa. My bottom is VERY HAPPY. This is the sofa that I basically live on (I'm on it now), and it had gotten so bad that I got a bruise when I sat down a bit too hard a couple weeks ago and landed on the edge board. So, happy happy happy!

If you've never replaced your own cushions (this is the third time I've done it in my life, with various sofas), know that foam is not cheap. It cost me $115 to refoam a 6-ft run of cushions. That's a lot less than a new sofa, of course! Also (I learned this long ago) do not ask for extra-firm foam. You'll feel like you're sitting on rock. Take the old cushion and try to get its firmness matched, or go up or down just one level.

Anyway: in knitting news, I've been trying to learn to fair-isle. Check it out! Okay, it's ugly, but at least I'm trying.

I'm trying it two ways, in fact: with the background yarn in my right hand and the foreground yarn in my left, and with both yarns in my left. I'm about as (un)proficient each way. As you can see, my tension is very uneven and the end result is lumpy, but I figure if I just keep at it I'll eventually get a 'feel' for it and it'll smooth out.

Many of you have asked about the little gardenia twig. A little love is a marvellous thing:

All your kind wishes must be helping. You have to understand that these leaves are smaller than your smallest fingernail, but I'm all for progress, however small.

Further on the learning front, I start the mediation credentialing program on Weds. night! I'm excited, though a little worried about all my commitments :-) .

Can't help posting one more picture of the pineapple lily. It's so radiant.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Knitting, not so much

I think I've knit another 4" or so on that same sleeve, but there's nothing to show yet. I'm putting in a lifeline, because (1) the last six sleeves I've knit have been the wrong size for my short arms, and (2) I'm actually putting it in for the third time because I've had to rip back to it twice already owing to falling asleep while reading the directions, or something like that ;-) Also I shampooed the carpet today and got a bunch of blisters on my hand from the badly-designed handle on the carpet shampooer, so now I'm mostly typing with my left hand while icing my right. There may be no further knitting this weekend.

I will distract you with gardening, as usual! This is a magnificent pineapple lily. Too bad about all the junk in the background, but you didn't think I was a tidy person, did you?

Okay, so I haven't been doing much knitting. Here's how I've been filling my free time for the last few weeks, though:

* Joined a couple of research labs at UCSD, and am starting a cell phone use study with Louise Barkhuus. I've been tracking down subjects and screening intake forms for that, plus reading a lot of journal articles and attending lab meetings.
* Sent out two article queries, one short story, and one article to various magazines. Wrote a few articles for, one of which has been purchased by Geosign.
* Finished adding a new section to my talk on technical management, and made arrangements to present the talk as part of a "Lunch and Learn" at Qualcomm (probably in December).
* Looked into the steps needed to teach a class at UCSD Extension, and have begun developing a proposal for a four-hour workshop on technical management. I'm also thinking about teaching an online class.
* Applied for and was accepted into the mediation credentialing program I mentioned a while ago. I start the night of Oct. 24, though I'll be on an intentionally slow schedule in order to not lose my mind while doing all these things at once in my free time!, so I probably won't finish the credential for 12 months.

So, lots of fun stuff. And of course I'm working as well. Hopefully I'll pick up a bit on the knitting, too. And I need to decide what to do about Christmas. I'm trying to scale it down a little this year, but it doesn't mean I don't want to give people anything at all. I don't know if I'll have time to make gifts or not — they won't be knitted, but even handmade takes time. I have a tendency to be self-absorbed, but I don't want to be so selfish as to spend all my spare time on myself and my goals! Still, if I plan to make gifts, I need to start thinking about it fast. What are you all doing about gifting this year?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Okay, so I'm easily amused.

Just found this:

Download the Internet here.


In knitting news, Khaki Cables is taking too long. I want this lovely sweater to be done already. It's an easy knit; maybe too easy, maybe that's the problem. My brain's on endless repeat. That said, I have nearly finished one sleeve, so there's just another sleeve and another front to go (plus seaming and edging, but that'll be a change of pace, so it'll be fun).

I'm usually a process knitter. I think the problem here is that I actually need a cardigan this color, to replace a long-loved and worn-out cotton one. I have another cotton one in a color fairly close to this (and, er, actually, now that I look, I have two worn-out ones), but it's a more yellowy tan and it clashes with some of my slacks. Plus it's long (hits at mid-hip) and I want a short one...

Oh, let's face it, I'm a cardi ho.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Darling little swatchlet.

This is just too cute to be just a swatch. I don't know if you can tell how small this is, but I'm getting over 9 spi. NINE. You all might not know this, but I have a terrible problem with gauge -- I knit fairly evenly, but loose. I'm just way too relaxed. So I generally have to go down two needle sizes and this is on 00s! ZERO ZERO, dudes and dudettes. This is like knitting on unbent paper clips, and I do not mean those big honking ones you use to hold all your receipts for the entire year.

But it feels right for the yarn. This is Kraftie's fabulous handspun, and I know I should probably make it into a lace shawl, but I just really, really, really want socks out of this yarn. I am pretty certain (because of the long color runs) that the two socks will not match. I'm sure I'll have to knit them toe-up so I don't run out of yarn. I'm sure I'll be sad about the 00s before I am done. But. I want these socks.