Friday, November 30, 2007

FO: Secret of the Stole--Guinevere!

Still don't know the theme. The most popular guesses are Guinevere and Excalibur.
ETA: The theme was revealed to be Guinevere.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I'm a winner!

I've been having good luck recently. Before the Innernets, I only ever won one prize in any kind of drawing or contest: an 8-lb chocolate bar. I was going for the trip for four to Disneyworld, but oh well. We had that sucker on the kitchen table for what seemed like months, it was about the size of a shirt box. Everyday after school, my friends would come over and we'd chip off a couple of chunks and eat it while watching Jeopardy and doing homework. It was Nestle's chocolate, and I'm really not fond of that particular brand now.

Anyway, with the advent of the Fiber Cyber Community, all that has changed. It started last year, when my entries (1, 2, 3) in Flash Your Fiber Stash won me a prize--some merino/alpaca blend that I have yet to spin up. Then, a long dry spell, and suddenly--two prizes! Whoo hoo!

First, Rebel had a little quiz contest in honor of her birthday, and I was a lucky winner.

Apparently, in Portland, Oregon, they sell fancy wool wash in the bookstore! Can you imagine? I have only one bookstore in the entire county, and it sucks, nothing but science fiction, Oprah's bookclub and religious meditations. Certainly no wool wash. I have to drive at least 40 minutes to get to a decent bookstore, which is why I patronize Amazon so much. But I digress. This prize was a wonderful surprise. I have actually been out of any kind of wool wash and have been using a sample bottle of moisturizing shampoo, but that bottle is just about empty. So, perfect timing! And the little button has a spinning wheel on it. I'm getting quite a button collection these days. I'm going to fix up something to display them on.

Next, I found out I was a winner in the Secret of the Stole knitalong. Yippee! And the prize just came today:

Awesome! Some absolutely bewitching yarn: Radiance by Yarn Botanica, in Dragonfly. The yarn is a fabulous merino/tencel blend, fingering weight, and a generous 400 yards per skein! Wow! Also: At Knit's End by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, which is great, because I don't own it and my library never has it checked in, some really pretty clip-on glass beaded row markers and a discount card to One Planet Yarn & Fiber. Yep. Hit the Jackpot!

Wanna see that yarn close up?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Secret of the Stole Hint Five

The picture is a bit wonky, but you get the idea.
The blocking wires are working out well, they were a good investment. I'm still completely clueless about the theme. Maybe my brain does not equate lace with abstract ideas.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

FO: Nantucket Jacket

It's done! And I'm very pleased.

It fits well, it's warm and soft, and not unflattering. I'm probably going to replace the buttons at some point, but I went to three different stores on Tuesday and these were the best I could come up with. I'm going to cut the top button off. The collar lays better with it open.

I really need a haircut!

Pattern: Nantucket Jacket by Norah Gaughan, Interweave Knits Fall 2006
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish, 100% superwash wool, in Copper. 16 50 oz balls used
Needles: Knit Picks Options size US 7
Size knitted: 48.5 inches chest measurement
Modifications: Lengthened sleeves from 3/4 length to full length. Naturally, I made them a smidge too long, so I omitted the crochet edging from the cuffs.
Started: September 1, 2007 Finished: November 2, 2007

Blogstalking--What's for breakfast?

Pretty self-explanatory. The tea in this instance is Stash Spiced Chai, which is my favorite chai. My favorite of all teas, however, is Lloyd's of Harrowgate Yorkshire Gold. I don't drink it on work days, though, because one teabag makes two cups and I don't have time to drink two cups before I go to work, so I don't like to waste it. I get my supply of Yorkshire Gold from my world-travelling friends who go to England about once a year. They are very kind to always bring some back for me. When I'm out, I really miss it!

And that is the story of my breakfast. Really, more about tea, but what else can I say about breakfast?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Secret of the Stole Hint Four

I almost fell behind this week, due to working a lot of unexpected hours, but I finished Hint Four: Luckily this week's hint was all bubbles, easy to memorize and no beads to fuss with. I opted to knit the stole at the designed length, without shortening or lengthening it. I am still really enjoying knitting this. Meanwhile, I ordered some blocking wires which should arrive tomorrow, so I'll be able to put them to the test on Hint Five! I still have no clue on what the theme might be. I do think the motif in the middle looks a bit like a church, but I'm not really sold on that.

In other knitting news, I'm almost done with the cap of sleeve #2 of the Nantucket Jacket. I hope to have it done and seamed this weekend!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Cable Surgery

Today, I would like to talk about doing a little cable surgery. I was half-way done with the second sleeve of my Nantucket Jacket, when I noticed I made a little (hah!) mistake:

I had crossed the cable twice for no apparent reason. And what was worse, I didn't notice it until at least 25 rows later. I could have frogged down to before the mistake and re-knit. I could have ignored it and went on. Many very good knitters did indeed urge me to forget it and move on. I stewed and stewed over what to do, and then realized the fact that I was stewing over it meant I had to fix it. So, Cable Surgery it was.

Step One: Knit until you reach the stitches which comprise the cable. In this case, we are working a six-stitch, P1K1P1 cable. Slip all the cable stitches off the needle and ravel them all down past the mistake, then put the cable stitches on a dpn:

In this case, my dpns are quite a bit thinner than my working needle. It's probably better to have dpns close to your needle size, because you are going to be re-knitting your ravelled stitches and your gauge will be off if your needle size is too different. In this case, I was too lazy to hunt up different dpns.

Step Two: Using the closest loop from the ravelled stitches, begin re-knitting your cable:

Here, I am preparing to purl the first stitch of the six-stitch cable. Just like regular knitting, you bring the yarn forward to purl and take it to the back to knit.

Step 3: On the correct row, work your cable:

You can do this with a cable needle as you would normally, as shown here, or you can also use your two dpns to first cross your stitches and then knit them in order, whichever works better for you.

Step 4: Continue re-working each ravelled row, being careful to use the closest loop of ravelled yarn, taking each in order:

Here we have the first cable correctly re-worked. Now it's just a matter of working up the ladder, keeping track of each row as you work it so you can cable on the correct row. Note that I have quite a bit of looseness in the left-hand stitches. I fixed this by distributing the slack among the other stitches as I finished each row, by inserting a needle point into each stitch in turn, making each one a little bigger. The closer your dpn size is to your working needle size, the less slack you will have on the edge. This also means you will have less yarn to make your last couple of stitches, so you may have to do a bit of maneuvering to get the stitches on the needle. Make sure you don't twist your stitches as you make them.

Step 5: When you have re-worked all the rows, slip the stitches from the dpn back on to the working needle. You're good to go! A couple of tugs sideways and lengthwise helps reshape the stitches, and after a good wash and block, you probably won't be able to tell which cable got the surgery: What? You've never used your cat as a prop before?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Silver Lapis Necklace

I knit up this little trifle today:

Silver Lapis Necklace from the "Knitted Gems" kit by Knitter's Journey bought at the Wisconsin Spin In. Used size 3 needles, 24 lapis beads and 26-gauge non-tarnish silver wire. Time to knit: 3 hours, including stringing the beads and attaching the clasp.

Boy, knitting with wire is a pain in the asterisk. I'm not completely sold on the whole thing. I'm reasonably pleased with the end product, which I'm giving to a co-worker for her birthday, but I'm not so sure I'm champing at the bit to make any more. Lord knows I have enough beads and there's plenty of leftover wire, but man, it killed my hand to make. I might make some bracelets--they'd be quicker.

A day in my life

Saturday, October 20, 2007

5:00 am: Alarm clock goes off, I hit the snooze, pet Chester at the bottom of my bed, turn over and go back to sleep

5:09 am: Alarm clock goes off, I hit the snooze, pet Nellie at the bottom of my bed, turn over and go back to sleep

5:18 am: Alarm clock goes off, I get up. No cats on the bottom of the bed.

5:18-5:43 am: Morning ablutions and get dressed. I wear my Tofutsies socks for the first time.

5:43-6:15 am: Breakfast (Maple and Brown Sugar Shredded Wheat, yogurt, banana, chai tea) and read the paper.

6:16-6:30 am: Brush teeth and put on make-up. Discover I'm having a bad hair day, but it's too late to do anything about it now, time to go.

6:31 am: Tell Chester good-bye, that I have to go to work, that I'll be home in the afternoon. I do this every morning. If I don't, he will cry for me after I leave, according to my sister.

6:32 am: Drive to work. It's a good time of day. I drive east and enjoy the silhouettes of trees against the sunrise.

6:58 am: Arrive at work, where I will spend 8 hours here:

6:58 am: Realize I've left my pathetic lunch, leftover pepperoni pizza at home. This dooms me to a lunch of leftover bakery and possibly an apple. Grr.

6:59-11:57 am: Check guests out, take their money, do the bookkeeping, check my e-mail and hang out at the Knitty Coffeehouse, answer the phone, drink two cups of coffee, and troubleshoot a non-working toilet (just needs a plunger, thank god, that's the housekeeper's job).

11:58 am: The caterer next door brings us a leftover lunch of salad with mixed greens, tenderloin, feta cheese and cherry tomatoes, and cheesy grated potatoes. Hooray! She also brings me three frozen, unbaked croissants filled with pumpkin and cream cheese. Dessert for tonight!

11:59 am-12:17 pm: Answer three phone calls, check two guests out, greet and answer questions from tourists wandering through.

12:18 pm-12:48 pm: Thank goodness, there's still some lunch left. Sit down with the housekeepers and have lunch. Am only interrupted twice.

12:48 pm-3:24 pm: Do a couple of loads of dishes, finish bookkeeping, answer calls, greet incoming guests, more phone calls, discover I've done the bookkeeping on the wrong form and fix and re-print, balance out cash drawer (+$12.42? what's up with that?), prepare bank deposit, more phone calls, sell some gift certificates, hand the whole thing off to the evening innkeeper.

3:24 pm: Drive home, past dairy and sheep farms, corn and pumpkin fields, under a bright blue sky. I curse my job in the windowless closet of an office. I should do something to enjoy the weather but I am drained from my day of constantly being nice to people. It is very hard. I know this is the only bit of the outdoors I will enjoy today:

3:48 pm: Am greeted at the door by the kitties:

3:49 -5:15 pm: Mess around on computer, knit a bit on Secret of the Stole, bake off the pumpkin-filled croissants.

5:15 pm: Am asked by my sister whether I was planning on making dinner. I offer my Noodles gift card if she will go get. She declines.

5:16-5:17 pm: Argument with sister.

5:18-6:18 pm: Knit on Secret of the Stole, trying not to argue further. Just want someone else to make or arrange for dinner just one day a week.

6:19 pm: Remember pizza in fridge and eat it cold with some cranberry Sierra Mist (yum!). Honeycrisp apple for dessert.

6:32 pm: Remember the pumpkin croissant and have that for second dessert.

6:33 - 9:28 pm: Knit on Secret of the Stole, listen to audiobook (The Pale Horseman by Bernard Cornwall), mess around on computer.

9:29 pm: Evening ablutions, jammies

9:35 pm: Bedtime! Argument and work have worn me out.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Secret of The Stole Hint Three

Because I like to reward my stalker!

Can you see poor Chester's scratched nose?

He's been "playing" a bit rough with Nellie.

She looks entirely too innocent to have caused such damage, doesn't she?

Tofutsies Eternal Socks

The Socks That Took Forever are done!

Yarn: Tofutsies by SWTC

Pattern: basic cuff down, K2 P2 rib with short-row heels and toes

Started: May 29, 2007 Finished: October 15, 2007 Four and a half months! Sad.

I love 'em and so does Chester. Why yes, those are my jammies I'm wearing!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Trouble in River City

Trouble with a Capital T:
That rhymes with P:

That stands for Pool. I guess this Lorna's Laces Shepard Socks is not destined to be Jaywalkers. I guess I will continue to be the only knitter in the world who hasn't made a pair of Jaywalkers. Off to the frog pond for you! Maybe I'll make Monkeys instead.

Meanwhile, spinning's going fine. I spun this batt up and am working on the coordinating silk. Like buttah.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Blogstalking Statues

It's a really long fish. Made out of concrete, decorated with broken bottles. Pictures by my 7 year-old nephew, Brandon. The guy in the carriage is not on the fish, he's in the background, but I like the way it looks like he's riding the fish. A few more freaky concrete statues can be seen here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

3 things I love, 3 things I hate

Three things I love:

1. Fall. I love hiking in the woods, crunching the leaves underneath, seeing squirrels scurry after nuts, drinking in the color of the turning leaves against a blue, blue sky. I love the way the sunlight slants a different color, I love how the crisp air makes it seem I can see each individual leaf on every tree. I love hearing Canada geese honk as they fly overhead, and I love the smell of woodsmoke in the air. I love Fall.

2. Lunch. I like to go all out. This particular lunch is homemade vegetable and alphabet noodle soup, pork hash sandwich, Doritos, grapes and homemade apple sauce. Pork hash? Old family recipe. Take cooked leftover meat: pork, chicken, turkey, ham. Grind it up in an old cast-iron meat grinder. I suppose a new-fangled food processor would work too. Mix with Miracle Whip (NOT mayo, go white trash for this) and sweet pickle relish. Serve on buttered bread, preferably white for maximum traditional value. Doritos? Love 'em and not gonna apologize about it. Why is the apple sauce that color? Made with Jonathon apples, boiled with skins on and then seived--nice, isn't it? And very yummy too.

3. Jasper Fforde. If you've never read him, if you like literature at all and have a sense of humor and like alternate-reality stuff, you will love him. It's a quirky mix, but it's just pure fun to read. Start with The Eyre Affair. Seriously, it's great stuff.

Three Things I Hate:

1. 83 fricking degrees in October???!!!???? That shit's crazy! I hate anything hotter than 76. I wish it could be 63 degrees every day. Good thing the cold front came through.

2. Laundry. While I'm not fond of any household chores, I particularily hate laundry day. I force myself to fold it as it comes out of the dryer, because otherwise it gets all wrinkled as it stays in the basket two or three days before I put it away. I don't know why I can't just put it away immediately. It's a mystery. This particular week's worth of laundry (yes, one basket, it's just my own laundry, this is a major benefit of being single and childless) sat in the basket on my bedroom floor from Monday until Friday night, when I emptied the remaining clothes I hadn't pulled out yet. That's a new record for me.

3. The thing I probably hate the most, I am not going to post a picture of. You all can do your own Googling if you want to. CRUSTACEANS. Lobsters. Crayfish. Crabs. Shrimp. **shudder** They are creepy. These past few years, I have noticed a horrifying trend. Kiosks in malls at Christmastime selling fiddler crabs in fancy shells. THIS IS WRONG, PEOPLE! What a horrible, horrible idea of a present. I can't even think about it.

Three Things I Don't Hate (but a lot of people do):

1. Cleaning the bathroom. Having worked as a hotel housekeeper in my early working career, I have the skills and the tricks to making this one of the easiest chores around the house. It is, however, essential to do it frequently, or else all hell breaks loose.

2. Mondays. Usually my day off, so--Hooray For Mondays!

3. Paying Taxes. I don't mind doing my taxes, and I don't mind paying taxes. It's part of living in civilization. Get over it.

Three Things I Don't Love (that a lot of people do):

1. Shopping, especially for shoes and clothes. If I could wear the same ten outfits over and over, if my closet automatically replaced worn out clothing with a duplicate, I would be fine with that. Hand knit items excepted, of course.

2. TV. Not that I have anything against it, I just don't watch it all that much. I used to, a lot. Now I don't. Can't say why.

3. Babies. Now, don't misunderstand me. I'm sure your baby is beautiful, a precious bundle of joy and probably the most awesome baby ever. But I don't want to hold him, coo over him, or see more than three pictures at a time. I'm sure if I had my own baby, I would hold her, coo over her, and force random strangers to view seventeen nearly-identical photos in the check-out line, but as of now, it's not happening. Flame away.

Secret of the Stole Hint Two

I'm kinda afraid those are spiders or crabs.....

Monday, October 08, 2007

Secret of the Stole Hint One

I'm finished with the First Hint on Secret of the Stole! Here it is, not terribly-well blocked, but enough to give you an idea:

I'm really enjoying this lace business. The Knit Picks Harmony wood needles are easy to work with, keeping my stitches in good order, and I love the Knit Picks Shadow yarn as well. I have been able to keep my place pretty well, although I did have to drop some stitches a couple of times due to mixing up the order of the YO's and decreases, but it was quite easy to fix in all cases. The only downside in the whole business so far is that I have to wait until the next hint is revealed on Friday to continue.

Meanwhile, I am almost done with the first sleeve of the Nantucket Jacket. I think I am actually timing a sweater right for once. It should be done as the cool weather finally rolls in, and I'll be able to wear it on a nice fall hike.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The problem with being lazy.... that when you make a blog post with pictures you took last winter, people think it's snowing in October. Sorry!
Although we did have snow in April, as chronicled here, yesterday's photos were all from last winter. It's beautiful and sunny and 78 degrees here in SE Wisconsin today, and here's some pictures I took out in my yard today:
Foxgloves in my new cottage garden. This is the first year for this garden, and it took FOREVER for the foxgloves to bloom. I hope all the flowers survive winter and come back well next year.
Morning glories, at 3:15 pm. So we had some morning glories here last year, and we planted a different variety this year. Last year's volunteers plus this year's planting plus not much in the way of thinning equals The Morning Glories That Ate The Garage. I should really take a morning picture as it is positively bursting with blooms then.

Sweet 100's tomatoes ripening on the vine. One plant has provided us with three months of non-stop cherry tomatoes. Yum! It pretty much took over the garden and sprawled out among the three other tomato plants which could not keep up in production. If the frost holds back, I think I can get about three or four pints more of cherry tomatoes.

And now, in Fibery News, I have spun laceweight! Yay! I turned this merino/tussah blend into about 545 yards of 20 wpi two-ply, which comes out to 2184 ypp. I feel pretty damn good about it.
One thing about it: although I bought a red and blue and white mix of fiber, somehow I did not expect to get purple yarn. I can't imagine why not. No matter what I do, I end up with purple yarn.

And finally, if your birthday is October 4th and you could reasonably expect to receive a present from me and if for some unfathomable reason, you are reading my blog, please stop reading now!

Ok, for the rest of us, I have made this:

The bottom band is my hand-spun cashmere/silk, only 60 yards worth, so I combined it with Socks that Rock mediumweight in the Downpour colorway held with a strand of Kidsilk Haze. A complete experiment with no swatching at all and a complete success, if I do say so myself. Should I write up the pattern?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

How I get from here to there, blogstalking 3

Usually this is Here:
Usually this is There:
Usually this is how I get there:
Fascinating, no?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Recent Stash Enhancements

I've been buying some yarn recently. I know, you're shocked!
Sock yarn, from Temptations in Sturgeon Bay. $1.50 each, because they were the last balls. Haven't these people ever heard of colorwork?

The last four balls of Merino et Soie by Naturally. I bought a bunch of these, and some lavender and teal colors too, back in January at my LYS's $3 a ball sale. When I got them home, I realized I probably didn't have quite enough of the grey for a sweater, but I resisted going back. I finally caved the other day and bought these at the exorbitant rate of $5.25 a ball. Originally marked $8.75.

Knit Picks Shadow, in three colors. I couldn't decide what color to make my Secret of the Stole, so I ordered three. I decided on the green. If it turns out I can't stand lace, I'll be swapping the other two colors away, I guess. But they are all lovely.

Knit Picks Gloss. I've been meaning to give this a try. I'm not completely sold on its wonderfulness in the skein. It just doesn't have any wow factor. That may change once I knit some up.

Knit Picks Harmony wood tips: LOVE THEM! They are lovely, sharp, smooth but not slick. They made my lace swatch a pleasure. I like them so much, I ordered two more in smaller sizes.

Harvest Moon batt and tussah silk top by Abby. Guess Abby was thinking the same thing as the flowers from my garden: Yellow and orange! The batt is a blend of super-fine merino, tussah silk, suri alpaca, and Mongolian cashmere! Soooo gorgeous and soft!

Here's something that merits a few less exclamation marks. My swatch for Secret of the Stole. It's a little floppy and open, I think I will go down one more needle size. On the tail on the left is my two bead choices. I think the bottom one (clear lined with gold) will get the green light. I like the brown one on top too, but I think it blends a little too much.

I'm half-way done with the second half of the front of Nantucket Jacket, which means I will soon have to sit down and refigure the arms to make them full length. Time to get out the graph paper.