Monday, December 21, 2009

Happy holidays

Just wanted to do a quick post - the blog isn't dead, just probably continuing to be on a very sparse schedule through the end of the year.

Honestly, my holiday spirit is pretty low right now, and I'm ready to start a new decade. I won't be sitting quietly and very still, waiting for the year to end without anything else happening this year, but I am ready to move on.

So to all my friends who still check in here - happy holidays. May they be filled with much joy, and may your year end on a high note.

See you next year.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Too short.

And just like that, my vacation is over. I'm tired, and I should go to bed, but I don't really want it to end yet. I don't really like here so much, but my husband and son are still here, and it's strange having a life there without them. I've booked my tickets for Christmas though - I'm taking a long break, over a week, and that will be good.

Hopefully next time, I won't have food poisoning. That put a bit of a damper on the trip for me, and I'll spare you the details, only to say that Thanksgiving dinner was much better going down than when it made its return. For posterity, however, I will say that a) I brined the turkey using Alton Brown's guidelines, and it was much better than usual that way. I will do that again. b) I tried to make pie crust, and I still don't have the knack. I used a 50/50 shortening/butter mix, and it was pretty meh. c) Cranberry sauce is excellent if you add in a pint of blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, and tangerine zest. d) I finally made the gravy well, but my stuffing was too crumbly. And yes, I'm really sad that I didn't eat many leftovers this year. Next year the big change will be to make a pecan pie and a pumpkin cheesecake. I'm neutral to negative when it comes to pie, and the husband isn't a big pumpkin fan. (I could, however, throw all caution and tradition to the wind and attempt this next year, but the primary limiting factor is that I don't have a stand mixer.)

Knitting news is very very boring, and I don't have my camera cable with me. I brought my Verona shawl, , which makes a lovely, wearable final product, but is a lot of uh, sure, let's say meditative knitting. I will wear this scarf quite a lot, but I'm less entranced with the knitting than some of the other folks who have been knitting it. It's soft and warm and almost weightless, and I like the color and the irregular qualities of the yarn. Frankly, it's almost long enough for me, but I wouldn't mind being able to wrap it around my neck one more time, so I suppose I'll just keep going for a while.

Finally, I'm leaving you with a video of a song that I'm very fond of. I just missed a concert I really wanted to see, but I was able to watch Mike Doughty in a live streaming of his NY concert tonight. He closed out the set with this song, "Your Misfortune," which is the last song on an album that I have listened to over and over again. This is from a show in Japan, not the one I watched tonight, but I think it's pretty, and some of you might like it as well.

Photos when I return and find my camera cable.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Lately, I've been reading a lot more nonfiction than fiction. Earlier this year, I finished reading Ghost Map, which is a pretty interesting read if you're interested in cholera, epidemiology, or social history. I didn't think that most of you would be that excited about it, and frankly, there are enough serious flaws to the book that I can't recommend it. The parts about epidemiology are great, but I didn't find the author's pontification on urban life to be particularly interesting, or enlightening, and could have been edited out. The loss of focus to the book was a serious flaw in an otherwise interesting read.

However, I'm reading something now that I think would be of more interest to anyone coming by my blog. I don't consider myself a serious foodie, but I like food, cooking, and eating. I also really like reading books about the aforementioned topics. Heat is written from the perspective of a journalist and cooking enthusiast who somehow managed to get a job as an extern in Mario Batali's kitchen. Buford writes well, and has a good story to tell. It's compelling reading, and has not only managed to inspire me to spend more time in the kitchen, but also to look into Batali's recipes and techniques. I've had mixed opinions of Food Network celebrity chefs, but Batali comes across as a guy who genuinely has some technique, and is a lot more interesting than his TV image. (Speaking of which, I tried to watch Rachel Ray cook Thanksgiving dinner in an hour. Was flipping through channels and caught about a minute or two, after which I went back to cartoons. I find her voice grating, and my son commented that what she was making didn't look very good.)

Anyhow, the other book I'm reading, but left at home, is Spice: The History of a Temptation. It's not nearly as fast of a read as Heat, and not as much fun. It's interesting though, if you have any interest in the history of spices, and the role they have played in exploration and expansionism. I haven't gotten that far into the book, and I'm more interested in the role spices played in social history, but it's not bad so far. I'm not going to give it a hearty endorsement yet, especially as I haven't finished the book, but if you have an interest in the topic, it's not bad.

I've had a resurgence of interest in cooking, and have been playing with the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day book. I'm a big fan of the basic bread recipe, and I enjoyed the olive oil dough, but I'm lukewarm on the brioche. I also decided it was time to toss out my old spices and start over with small jars from Penzey's. I've threatened to do this several times in the past, and after some really disappointing experiences, I decided it was worth the investment - and really, it's a lot cheaper than what I found at the grocery store. Speaking of which, I'm shortly off on my final run before Thanksgiving - I need about 4 things, as I'm testing some new recipes this year. I'll try to get some photogenic shots of anything that turns out particularly well. It's strange making a break from the Thanksgiving dinner I'm used to (my mom's), but I think it's time to try out some new traditions.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Testing testing

Just installed a blogging app for my iTouch. If this works, I'm more likely to be around more again. Finding time to pg has been tough - I've been really wrapped up in my work, not making time for anything else in my life. Time to strive for greater balance again. But for now, sleep. I'm beat, and there's lots of cooking in the immediate future. Photos and words in the morning.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Well phooey.

Today was the first night this week that I left work before 10pm. Yes, you read that correctly. Tonight I got home at the early hour of 7:45, and made something dinner-like to eat. I was looking forward to relaxing and finally finishing that blog post I'd been meaning to finish up.

Only 2 problems.

1) Tonight is game 1 of the World Series.
2) My neighbor is blasting music. The bass is making my head vibrate, and I'm not exaggerating. My entire living room is vibrating, and it's really ticking me off. I had a glass of water on the floor, and there were waves forming. It's not even 9pm yet, however, so I can't really complain. I can't definitively tell if it's from upstairs or next door, or from the bar. It is loud, regardless.

At this second, I hate apartment living. I suppose I could just go back to work. I just wanted to be able to relax for a few minutes.

I'm going to go see if I can hide somewhere else in my 2br apartment. I need to escape this noise.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

So. Rhinebeck.

It didn't get off to the greatest of all starts. I woke up 10 minutes before I absolutely had to leave my apartment to get to the train station. This is lucky, because I messed up setting the alarm on my clock. I'm pretty amazed that I woke up at all, considering it was 10 to 6 when I bolted out of bed. Once I got to the station (in record time) I waited at the wrong track for a while, then I struggled with figuring out the ticket machine, as I clearly am in desperate need of caffeine in the morning. The trip itself was easy. Once I got on the (correct) train it was a fairly short ride up to New Jersey. I got off the train just as Cordelia and Kathy were coming to meet me - and they had coffee. This was a really fun meeting, as Cordelia and I have been emailing for years, but hadn't ever spoken in person. (I think we are both shyer in person than by email.) Kathy drove us to meet Kim, who I also had never met before, but have been a long-time blog friend of. All three women are lovely people and I hope to see them again soon.

Let me say that the drive to Rhinebeck is gorgeous -lots of rolling, tree-covered hills, which were stunning in the fall. We got in around noon, and first headed for food. I think the most popular item there had to be the "Artichokes French." The line was insane, and as much as I like artichokes, I'm not a big fan of waiting. After a quick lunch, we headed for the barns. Rhinebeck is the second fiber festival I've attended, with the first being SAFF. I knew I didn't want to go nuts the way I did at SAFF, so I tended to be much more cautious with my purchases this year. In fact, it was really hard for me to get started. I'm also not very good with crowds. Too many people + too much stuff = a strong sense of claustrophobia and a need to flee. Which is part of my explanation for why I don't have photos of any of the crowds or the stuff.

My general feeling is that if you spin, this is a great festival to attend. There was a lot of fiber. Really gorgeous fiber, and I almost walked home with a Golding spindle, but that's just something I don't have time for right now. There were some beautiful naturally-dyed yarns, but I wasn't finding a lot of things were really grabbing me. Some booths were just too mobbed for me to browse in, as well, which may also have held me back a bit. I stared very hard at the Brooks Farm booth, thought hard about Creatively Dyed yarn (seasilk, particularly) passed by The Fold a few times, and I really wanted to buy something at Briar Rose. In the end, I made my purchase at Sliver Moon Farm. I really like the way variegated yarn looks in the skein. I love it. BUT - I seem to not like knitting with it as much as I like semi-solid yarn. So I ended up with this.



Not a whole lot of sock yarn there, which may or may not have been a good thing.

The most fun part for me was seeing all of the knitwear. It was fascinating being somewhere and having the experience of people focusing on looking at your knits, not you. There were some amazing things there. I spotted one "famous" blogger, and I'm ashamed to admit I did that thing where you openly stare at someone (I suck at connecting names and faces, so I was trying to figure out why she looked familiar for a really long time) - but she smiled at me, so I feel a little less ridiculous. I got a few compliments on my Selbu Modern hat, which was very flattering. I still see all of its flaws, but I'm really proud of it.

That's all for now. Except for the required animal photos.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thursday bullets

  • I went to Rhinebeck and I had a really good time and I need to blog about it and download photos from my camera. I also need to take photos of some yarn that I bought there and track some other acquisitions I've made since I moved here.
  • There are 2 completed knitting projects I still haven't blogged. Not only that, I've worn both of them. Not only that, but I still haven't woven in the ends on one of them, and they're really obvious. Also, they aren't socks.
  • I have a new bedroom window so every post from now on out shouldn't be about how cold I am. (To be fair, it was very chilly with the breeze and not turning the heat on.)
  • This weekend I'm hoping to do some food shopping and knitting in addition to going in to work. I'm planning on cooking soup and starting up breadmaking again next week. If I'm really motivated, I might watch a movie or read a book.
  • I'm very tired this week. After coming home from Rhinebeck on Saturday night, I went to bed. Sunday I went grocery shopping, went out to lunch with a friend, went to work, and then cooked soup. Work is very busy right now. (This is good. Really.) On top of that, I'm fighting a cold, and if you know where I live (and that my apartment is located above a bar), you will also understand my stating that it's been a bit loud in the evenings. Particularly so last night.
  • I want to knit some mitts and some gloves and some mittens and a sweater and some socks and I don't want to start anything new until I have finished some of the old things that are taking up space in my living room. I'm not very excited about working on most of them. The item I most want to knit is stalled due to a backorder of additional yarn. Hopefully it will arrive soon.
  • I'm going to try to knit now, maybe with some tea and honey for my sore throat, and possibly with some crappy tv streamed over my computer. So much for my attempts at daily blogging.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I need pictures.

Yes, I know. Yet another photo-less post. In my defense, when I got up at 7 this morning, it was grey and rainy. When I walked home from work, via the grocery store, it was cold and grey and rainy. Photos? Hah. I'm concentrating on staying warm.

There's a significant draft in my living room. Specifically, one of the new windows put in the apartment before I moved in is not sealed well, and it leaks when it rains. In the bedroom, there's still a missing window pane. In a word, I'm cold. I'm thinking about buying some caulk to fix the living-room window. As I said, I'm cold, and I'm responsible for the heating bill come winter. It's only fall now. At the same time, 42 and rainy with no heat doesn't feel very warm.

I have a need to knit something, immediately, but I have no idea what. I am in desperate need of mittens. I also could use a warm sweater or three. Instead, I have a shawl, socks, and a scarf on the needles. I'm feeling a need to finish things up, too. I am also afraid that I have lost my sock mojo. I have some great yarn, but I'm just not getting into it. (I just looked down at myself and realized I am a handknit nightmare - over a Land's End sweater and yoga pants, I am wearing my purplish chevron scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, my red and orange Clapotis wrapped around my waist, and blue striped socks. Perhaps there is a reason I am avoiding cameras?)

This weekend I am going up to Rhinebeck. I'm excited, partly because I am meeting 2 blogging friends who I feel like I almost "know" from years of chatting back and forth, and also because it sounds like this festival is a sight to behold. I'm not planning on buying much - but tomorrow may be a time to revisit the Ravelry queue and think about what I might want or need.

Other than a heated mattress pad, that is. I'm thinking of getting one of those on Sunday. Plus a second pad to put over the memory foam cushion that makes up a significant portion of my mattress, as I'm sleeping on a futon.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I'm back north, after a weekend away. It's cold up here! Tonight it's in the low 50's, which would probably feel less cold if it hadn't been in the 80's and 90's for me this weekend. This upcoming weekend? I may be even colder, but let's see how that develops... I may have some exciting (at least for me) news later this week.

Tonight was knitting, and it was good. I've decided that my mystery project (which isn't done yet) needs a second skein of yarn. The big reveal? It's a Shetland Triangle out of Malabrigo Sock. I'm going to buy the second skein and keep going. It's a great pattern, and I love knitting it. But I am also sick of all the dinky little shawls I have been knitting lately, so this one will be bigger, and deserves to be so.

Photos soon - I promise. I need light, and right now I need to find someplace warm to go hide. There's a wicked draft that I'm sitting in, and the window to my apartment isn't fixed yet. I'm cold! I'm even contemplating fingerless gloves to make my joints stop aching, which is just sad commentary.

Late, and I need sleep.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I missed a day, but not for lack of trying.

Yesterday was just kind of busy, what with the dissertation defense, experiment, meeting, and flying out of town. Got back to the southern state around 10 something at night, took a taxi home and tried to hold up my end of a conversation about football, which is sort of the equivalent of asking me to speak fluent Chinese.

Have spent most of today attached to my son, or rather with him sitting on me or otherwise touching me. It's nice to be missed, and it's wonderful to see him, but IT'S HOT HERE, and disgustingly humid. Plus, there are mosquitos. And I'm really not used to it anymore, especially since I have been experiencing pleasant fall-like weather up north. It's good to be back, however, as I missed my family, and my washing machine. I find myself oddly overwhelmed by the size of my house, and it's not big. I guess I've adapted to the city more than I thought, as it was also odd to be driving and to not hear sirens last night when I went to bed. It's strange being here, because I don't live here anymore, and it's decidedly not home. Of course, it's also clear that we're in transition, because my husband isn't really living here either, and my apartment is for the most part, undecorated.

I am not sure what our plans are for the rest of the weekend. Right now, husband is out picking up burgers and fries for dinner. I am still protein-starved, and I'm fitting into my "skinny" jeans again, despite my scale saying that I have not lost an ounce since I moved, so I feel no guilt. Even after the Krispy Kreme donuts and the cookie earlier today. Hah. We're possibly going to go play mini-golf on Saturday, if the weather holds, and I think there's potentially interest in seeing Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs. I don't really care what we do, as I'm happy to be with them. Tonight is likely to be movies/TiVO and hanging out with some knitting.

On the way out of my apartment, I realized that I left my camera, so photos will not be happening this weekend. There's also been no knitting yet today, and I suspect that time will be somewhat limited. I did finish another mystery, however. One thing I love about travel is that I essentially have a lot of uninterrupted time to read. I just finished reading Shot Girl, which was a light, but fun read. If you enjoy mass-market mysteries, this one is better than many I've read lately. Food's here, so I'm off.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Packing, with knitting.

I just unraveled a sock. I liked the yarn. I liked the pattern. They just weren't quite right together. Bad proportions, or just an ill-fitting sock for my foot.

I'm not sure what to bring with me. I'm going to be away for a few days, and I am close to the end on the mystery project, I have a mindless sock that is about a day from completion, and a mindless scarf I can take with me. I don't know how much time I'm going to have to knit, and I hate the idea of running out of knitting. But I'm also liking finishing things a lot.

Too late now to write, and I'm too tired to think. Leaving tomorrow afternoon, and I'm delighted.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What I do, and a turtle.

As I kind of expected, things went from a relaxed and easy pace to all kinds of insanity at work today. It's a short week for me, as I'm taking off to see the hub and kid this weekend, and I'm vacating work a day early. Of course, now that I have plans for that, all the supplies I had ordered are now trickling in, and there's work (a lot of it) to be done on the 3 experiments I'm working on.

I was going to head over to knitting tonight, but I was starving (forgot to eat) and I'm tired. So I picked up a sandwich on the way home and watched Heroes and House instead.

The front half of the week is typically brutal. I have a regularly scheduled experiment on Monday, and I'm usually busy with that all day and through most of Tuesday. It's not difficult work, but it requires fairly intense attention during the active times, and for a good chunk of time, it's a matter of constant, careful motion. All the steps are time-sensitive, and there's a lot of moving from one place to another. This week I got a reprieve (sort of). I was able to pause my experiment at a point where I don't usually stop, and I'll take it up again next week. Of course, now I have to look forward to working with some seriously scary reagents, and I'm more than a little nervous about it. (Next week, I get to work with trifluoroacetic acid, and yes, I will be working in the fume hood for a change. Acetic acid is no big deal, neither is hydrochloric, but this stuff intimidates me a bit. Okay, a lot.) Plus, I really want everything to work, so I have to be very very careful how I do things next week. Should be interesting - I need clean, non-contaminated samples, but maybe, just maybe, I'll have some good results by the end of the month.

Anyhow, I got to do something very cool today, and I played with lasers. No kidding. I'm learning how to use a million dollar piece of equipment, which oddly seems less intimidating than it used to. (We really have excellent toys here.) There's more training tomorrow, plus a session on how to use a much less interesting piece of equipment in the lab (it doesn't have a laser.) I spent the afternoon staring in frustration at my computer, finally figuring out that the answer to a problem I was having was much simpler than I thought, but does mean that I lost some time and have to repeat something I did last week. Then I did a little bit of prep work for the third project that I'm doing preliminary work on, which I'm super excited about. I have a laundry list of small things to do waiting for me in the morning, and with any luck, I should have another shipment of supplies arriving, because I'm waiting for a custom order to come in.

Sometimes I gripe about my job - it's busy, it's hard, and the personalities around me can, at times, be a little different. At the same time, I love the variety of things I get to do. Most of the time, I'm not sitting at a desk; instead, I'm doing and making things. I am however, tired. Tomorrow will come soon, and it will be busy. Time to knit another row or two, and then to collapse and hopefully sleep. I'm hoping for a quiet night. I'm also grateful for an iPod app that generates white noise. There's little else that knocks me out so quickly.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Day 5, i guess - Interweave Knits Weekend

I'm a sucker for a knitting magazine. I like to look at them, and I frequently find "Special Issues" to be more exciting than the actual magazine. (Actually, Interweave, I'm looking directly at you on that one. Lately I like Knitscene better than IK, for whatever reason.) Anyhow, here's my take.

The bottom line: Do you need this? No, it's not essential, but there are some interesting things in it.

There are a few attractive patterns, but there's nothing that really jumps out at me as an amazing fantastic "wow, I really need to knit that 5 minutes ago," but there are things I would make out of the magazine.

First, an article on novels about knitting.
Next, "Friday." Starts strong, with a pretty Kathy Zimmerman guy sweater, and a cute kid's sweater by Wendy Bernard. Two of my favorites in this issue. Kid pants, and a capelet are next. Then a sweater that is meant to be reversible. My feeling about this is that anyone who has seen me in person will realize that the shape of my chest and my back are rather dissimilar, and this sweater is designed for a much different body type than my own. A blurb about sizing things for kids, and some simple socks. The patterns follow, with commentary. Much more mixed than the current layout of IK.

Next, an article on teaching kids to knit. I admit to have not read this yet. "Saturday Morning." A really basic, very wearable women's cardigan. (I would knit this, and actually might.) A cute baby jacket, and a kitchen towel. A very interesting basket out of some ridiculously huge yarn. Probably costs a fortune, but at least it was done to make a sculptural piece instead of clothing. A pillow, with a super simple and elegant design. I really dig it, actually, and am intrigued by the color. Probably a deceptively expensive project. Awesome button. Next an apron and a hat. More pattern information and words.

An article on fiber festivals. More patterns - a guy sweater and a scarf by Ann Budd, and a cardigan by Annie Modesitt. The cardigan is not me, but it's interesting. Next, "Sunday," and a cardigan that is cut in a current style that I personally don't find flattering, and can't pull off, but I like the color a lot and the stitch pattern. Another guy sweater - I get the concept, but I'm not sure I like the placement of the design element. A cute cloche hat, which would either look adorable or horrible on me. A cowl neck sweater. Can't personally wear them, and this particular one would add a good 30 pounds on me. Kid shrug. A lace cardigan in bulky wool - again, not my style or cut. Very current lines, but I'm not shaped right for it.

Simple colorwork hat and mittens. Some designer interviews (They're all very cute, and look happy. I like the photos.) Staff projects - a vest, a scarf, a bag, and a vest. Next page is a dog vest (? Really not for me.) Two plain simple cardigans I like a lot, and would personally wear. The down side to both of them is bunching of fabric around the armhole - oh, and the patterns are online, not in the magazine. An absolutely ridiculous hat - I'm sorry - I get what you're doing, but I'm not that much of an exhibitionist.

Overall, the layout reminds me a lot of the first IK that came out when Eunny Jang first took over. I don't have really strong feelings in favor of or against this issue - and I think it does serve it's purpose of patterns for relaxed, low stress weekend knitting of casual clothing.

Peek for yourself here. Thoughts?

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Today, for something different, you're getting an intentionally bad photograph. Really. It's bad, and it's intentional. I'm curious as to how much can be identified by this shot.

Here are the clues:

1) It's a popular (possibly even viral) knit.
2) At least one of you has knit one.
3) It's an incredibly addictive pattern, and I've done nothing but knit this since I cast on last night. I had to rip back completely once, because I made a mistake and it bothered me, and I had to do some significant tinking twice. The first time was because I was knitting in bed without my glasses on before I got coffee. This was a big mistake. The second time I got distracted by the show I've been watching (Dead Like Me) and couldn't figure out where I dropped a stitch.

I'm also curious if anyone can identify the yarn. I promise there will be better shots of this. It's working up rather quickly, but I also think it will end up being a bigger knit than I expect. For indoor flash photography, the color's actually fairly true. In person, in daylight, the color is a bit more crushed grape, and it has almost a velvety quality.

Now to sneak in a bit more knitting on the couch before I collapse. I should by all rights do that now, but I'm not quite ready to call it a night yet.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Day 3.

It's Saturday night, my apartment is clean, and mostly tidy. I have some laundry in the machines downstairs, and the rest of the evening is mine to spend relaxing. I did very little today - I slept in, talked a little on the phone, napped, knit, and watched silly tv shows. It's been very nice. I'm a little blue today. Weekends are harder than the weekdays, and I have a tendency to become overly tired. It affects my mood a lot, and it's easy to slide into a negative mood. Tidying up helped, sort of symbolically moving on and getting ready for the week. A fresh start, I suppose.

Things are, for the most part, good. I like my job, and I'm learning a lot. I still feel behind, and under pressure, but that's going to be true regardless of what I'm doing. I haven't taken the easiest path, but there's still hope that this will all work out. I've met a really neat group of people to knit with, and if I were in less of a hermit mode, I could probably go out and socialize more with them too. I'm trying to do things for myself.

I just started knitting a new project - a Shetland Triangle Shawl. I just finished 2 triangular shawls (no, I didn't take photos yet) and I'm not sure why I really wanted to knit this, but the yarn and the pattern were calling to me. I actually have a few things clamoring at me. The other is a pair of Fiddlehead Mittens, which I'm likely to start tomorrow, and there's a sweater that has tried to materialize on my needles. So far, the sweater hasn't taken, so there's a possibility I can hold off on that until I finish something up. It's fall. I think this is the equivalent of spring fever, and I'm feeling a strong urge to swathe myself in handknits. I know it makes for boring blogging, as I keep starting things and having little followthrough. I knit for myself though - what I want, when I want, with no pressure. It's one of the few things in my life that is like that. Maybe the only thing.

Part of trying this daily blogging is to determine if the blog is something I'm going to continue or not - I know why I knit, but I'm not sure why I'm blogging. I have met some really neat people, friends even, online. However, I'm finding it much harder to connect these days. I like Ravelry, but I don't do so well on message boards. I don't leave comments often, and I don't think I have many readers left. I'm okay with this, but I wonder if it means that I'm done with blogging? On the other hand, I don't email much either, and it is a way of keeping in contact with the friends I have who do read this.

Sorry for the moodiness tonight. Weekends are hard, and I miss my family. Tomorrow is a work day, but hopefully the light will be better and I'll get some shots of knitting.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Last minute post

Ok, so I'm sneaking in under the wire today.

Just finished watching season 6 of Wire in the Blood. I don't know if I liked the series or not. It started out strong, but I think it lost something as time went on. Interesting to see how much grittier of a crime show is put on by the BBC. I hate that the male psychiatrist became the key to solving every crime, and that the female lead police investigator depended on his input way too much. There was more humor and incompetence on his part earlier on. I think the writing got sloppier, but it was entertaining enough for me to watch 24 episodes.

I'm watching a lot of junk this year, since many things are on Hulu and elsewhere online: Heroes, House, Gossip Girl, Castle, Vampire Diaries (yes, I know, it's crap), Bones, Dollhouse. I think that's all, and that's a lot. By the end of the day, I'm wiped out, and don't have much left for anything else.

I finished another scarf last night - that's 2 down. Photos tomorrow, as I got home far too late to take any shots.

Tomorrow will be a better planned and more interesting post than this one.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

So I've got this thing...

But it's not golden. (Ok, I thought it was funny.)

Anyhow, when I moved, and left my washer and dryer behind (oh, how I miss them so) I purchased this thing on sale from

I paid a lot less than that asking price for it, but I have to say - it's a nifty little gadget. I'm not a big fan of drying a lot of my clothes, and I used a drying rack a lot at my house. I did think this would be a pretty cool accessory for a knitter. Basically, it's just a fan blowing air over the stuff you have laid out flat on a mesh shelf, but it does cut down on drying time significantly. If, like me, you are both cold and impatient, this is a good thing.

At the moment, I'm using it to dry a Simple Yet Effective Shawl. Once it's dry, I'll weave in the ends and eventually I'll take a photo and post it here and on Ravelry. I used less than one skein of Trekking XXL, and honestly had a lot more yarn left over than I intended, but I was ready to move on and at the end it was really about deciding that it was more important to end with a garter stitch section than to use all the yarn.

Next up is another less fabulous than practical knit, which is another triangular scarf-like item that is very close to completion. It comes with a mildly cautionary tale, which I'll share as soon as I am done.

It's October 1st, and I see many of my friends are doing daily blogging. I'm too noncommittal to commit, but I'll take a stab at it without officially joining anything, because for me, joining increases the likelihood of my failing to follow through... Tomorrow's topics may include: "You have no idea how glad I am it's Friday," "E. Coli, or Bacteria really do not smell good," or "I'm so old and out of touch I can't tell if my new friends are hipsters or not and who cares anyhow because they have yarn."

See you then.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Moving on.

It's been a while since I wrote anything here. When I'm knitting, I'm working on a lot of slow, simple things, and they're dragging on. Hopefully in the next week or so, I'll be done with some of them and have something to show. It's fall here, and I'm trying to resist the urge to cast on 3 new things. There are enough things in life that I do because I have to, not because I enjoy them. I don't want knitting to become onerous, so I'm not stressing finishing things, just trying to have the perspective that I would have more room and things would be tidier if I finished a few things first. Time has not been on my side.

Speaking of which, I'm grateful that it's now Wednesday. I'm ready to be done with this week. I have no plans for the weekend, but sitting on the couch with tea, knitting, and movies sounds about perfect.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Persisting despite it all.

You know how instructions for circular knitting always say "join, making sure to not twist?"

Yeah. I finally managed to get a twist in my knitting, and I've been persisting, regardless of the mistake. I'm knitting a self-fringing scarf, so it will be cut open at the end anyhow, and I figured, oh, what the heck.

It's a lot easier to knit when it's not twisted, but at this point, I'm Committed.

Speaking of which, I just jumped into another project, thanks to the ladies I met today for a KIP in the park. I may have found a group to hang out with. They're knitting mitered squares for a sock yarn blanket, and swapping yarns. Of course, this sounded like a fantastic idea to me because it's really pretty, on tiny needles, and is going to take up an insane amount of time. And we all know how quickly I knit things these days.

While sitting outside, I worked on my Charade sock. Pretty. See?

One slight problem:
It's too big. So, I'm going to have to think about what I want to do to make these work. The patterned section isn't as stretchy as the rest of the foot. Going down a needle size for the foot isn't going to work, because I don't want to compress this yarn any more. I might just use the gauge for the plain section, rip back to the heel, decrease faster for the gusset and knit the rest of the sock plain. Haven't decided yet.

I'm itching to start new things, but I really want to get some of the old projects to go away. I've now completed 12 pattern repeats of the Trellis scarf, out of a total of 23. Which means I'm now feeling motivated to try to knit one repeat a day, which would get me a pretty lace scarf, and a clear needle in 2 weeks. I have a second sock for my husband - finished decreases, so plain knitting to the toe. That's not more than a week of knitting (I dislike the yarn.) My Badia still needs seaming, as does the Cutaway cardigan. Tangled Yoke is still waiting for the arms to be joined to the body, and I only have a yoke to knit. I'm also about 50% and 75% done with 2 other laceweight scarves, because I'm nuts and seem to not knit with anything thicker than fingering weight right now. I'm craving sweaters and a new shawl, and I have an afghan that requires seaming (but we aren't talking about that today.)

I think it might be fall, finally.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Knit critics

I think the knit world needs more criticism. And by that, I mean more constructive criticism, not snark. Don't get me wrong - I enjoy a good snark, and I certainly think it has its place, however, it's not what I'm looking for. I like praise, as we all do, but I want it to be meaningful. Bells posted about viral knits recently, and it got me thinking. I agree with her that it's absurd to denigrate a knit because "everyone has made one." It's also silly to expect everyone to design their own knitwear, or to talk about how there are no good designers out there. I also can see the value in a cute, quick, 1 skein project that makes a thoughtful gift. What I wish we had more though, is serious discussion about what people liked about a pattern, what they wish was different, and suggestions from readers and bloggers, as to what they'd change next time.

I like socks a lot, and I'm really fascinated by what Cookie A designs. I don't love all her designs, nor do I want to knit some of them. A few I want to make because the construction is cool, or because I want to see how the charting fits the pattern. A few pairs I want to make because I want to wear them. Some, frankly, just don't do much for me. I think Monkey went viral because it was a very clever sock - a simple pattern, neither too big nor too small, that looked good with solids, semisolids, and wildly colored yarn. That was the sock that made me think about how diagonal lines are good for breaking up repeats in handpainted yarn, so that you get less striping. Yeah, it's not an earthshattering concept, but I hadn't quite internalized it until I knit the pattern.

Some designs are classic and universally flattering. I'm going to be a bit of a jerk and suggest that the most popular sweaters (as listed on Ravelry) don't fit that descriptor. Which makes me think that the reason they become popular is due to KALs - I assume people are still doing those. I also think a KAL can be very useful, if people are sharing information about how they are modifying a pattern or finding errors or ambiguous directions. I haven't participated in many of them, as I have commitment problems with my knitting. But the few I have tried, I haven't seen that kind of criticism taking place.

I suspect a lot of my attitude about this comes from my day job, and I know people sometimes interpret the critical eye as being overly negative. The truth is that all crafting isn't equal, yet we dole out praise as though it was. We should celebrate the act of creating something with sticks and strings, and encourage people who are just learning to keep trying. I wouldn't mind though, if could find a little more discussion of things like "Next time I'd consider angling the decreases in the opposite direction" or "Short rows in the bust would fix the pulling problem as the waist" or "I really like it - the only thing I might change would be to start the shaping 1/2 inch higher, but that's nitpicking." If I saw that more, I think I'd take the 5 star ratings on patterns and yarns more seriously, and perhaps the really good viral knits would get the respect they deserve.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Today looks like an excellent day...

to hole up and knit. The rain started last night, around midnight, and it's feeling blessedly cool for a change. I don't think that's going to last all day. We're under a flash flood watch, but I don't think it's going to stop me from making at least a short jaunt out to see what's going on in the world today.

Today's the first day I've ever heard one of my neighbors - it sounds like the person upstairs from me is doing aerobics. It's fairly quiet though. In some ways, it's a nice change to hear another human.

One of these days I suppose I need to get out and head to a knitting group around here, get to know some people. The weekday meetings are hard - I don't always leave work early enough, and by the time I walk home, I'm not really excited about going out again. I'll have to get over that hurdle. It's also a group that meets in a small space, and there's something intimidating about joining a group of strangers in a small room. The other group that meets on a weekend I feel less enthusiastic about. It's farther away, and I've picked up a strange vibe.

Anyhow. I am still knitting, just nothing too exciting. In the process of exploring the yarn shops around here, I picked up some more stuff - a ball of Trekking XXL, probably to remake the Primavera socks, except this time in my size. I also fell down hard in the other store - I don't like the location as well, but the shop is gorgeous - and I bought two more skeins of sock yarn. The yarn is gorgeous, and deserves photos as soon as I clean up my apartment. As a moving-in present I also bought two Morehouse Merino kits. Totally mindless patterns, but the laceweight is pretty fantastic on the hands. It's another rustic yarn with a fair amount of variation in thickness, a single ply that isn't incredibly strong but possibly a bit deceptive. I'm knitting a Verona shawl, which is a giant rectangle of stocking stitch, and a Partridge Scarf which is a self-fringing triangular scarf, and also totally mindless knitting. It's about all I can manage.

Last weekend I sat down to finish some of my albatross projects, the Cutaway Cardigan and Badia. I really don't like seaming. It's not difficult, I just prefer knitting to sewing. I'm very close to being done with Badia, but am slightly stumped. My next step is to seam the sides, and then I'll have to deal with the armholes. The pattern calls for knitting ribbing first, then seaming (which seems odd to me) but my concern is that the ribbing is going to make them too small and too tight. I think that leaves me with crochet to fix the problem. I suspect I'd be more excited about the project if I liked the yarn I used, but more on that later.

Time to finish my coffee, then get on with the day.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Did I mention that my kitchen is small?

For a week after I moved in, I didn't have internet. Work's been busy, and long, and all-consuming, and I just haven't been able to figure out what to say here. The problem with a knitting blog is that it's about knitting, and now that I have no AC, and it's high summer, there's a minimal amount of knitting going on to write about.

But then I remembered that occasionally, I cook, and I thought I'd tell you about the challenge I set myself after moving here. My kitchen, as I mentioned, is small.

(Please excuse the dishes in the sink - I decided to take photos and write this after I fixed dinner.)

That's the bulk of my kitchen, with the photo taken from me standing with my back against my apartment door.


This is taken from the living room, and you can see the entire extent of my kitchen here. There's a closet that I use as a pantry, but I'll be honest and tell you there isn't much in there. The paper on the fridge is a takeout menu from a sushi place.

See? Small. Since I wasn't really happy with using a cutting board on the sink as counter space, I bought this cart from IKEA. By the way, I'm a lousy shopper. IKEA terrified me. Way too many choices. Nice stuff, but overwhelming.


Anyhow. I've set myself 2 goals while living here. First, you might note there's no microwave, and if you've ever followed me on Flicker, you might notice that I can't shut up about how hot it is here, so turning on the oven isn't an option. Thus, a lot of convenience food is out. Second, I'm really trying to limit takeout. Third, with access to fresh food (small farmers markets, a big farmer's market, and Trader Joe's) I'm trying to really limit processed food items. And finally, I'm trying to cook without a cookbook. I can't take full credit for this idea - I saw this blog post, and it resonated with me. So far, it's been an interesting experience. I'll admit to eating a lot of salad, and some basic pasta, but it makes shopping a lot easier. As an added benefit, I think this in conjunction with walking to and from work has resulted in me dropping some of the excess pounds I carry around. Oh, and my final challenge? My kitchen tools consist of one large pot, one pan, and one medium pot, a spatula, spoon, vegetable peeler and a can opener. Knives, a set of mixing bowls, my multi-tool and a George Foreman grill round out the tools.

Tonight wasn't the healthiest meal, but it was tasty - I brought some well salted water to a boil, then added angel hair pasta and about 8oz-10 oz of asparagus trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces. That cooked for about 2 minutes, until the pasta was close to done. Then I cracked an egg and dropped it into the water, and cooked for about a minute more. I drained most of the water off the pasta/veg/egg combination, then tossed it in a bowl with maybe 2-3 oz of herb coated chevre, and tossed everything to combine. To keep it from being too sticky, I finished it with a tiny bit of olive oil and ground black pepper over the whole mess. It was even better than usual, thanks to the addition of the egg.

This weekend I'm planning a trip to the market for more fresh vegetables and for some spices I desperately need. I'm having fun cooking this way, and it's a nice way to shake things up a bit. A friend suggested trying a chickpea and apple salad today, and I'm leaning towards trying that this weekend. Simple ideas are definitely welcomed, so please share if you have a favorite ultra-easy dish that I can try!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

“Traveling, you realize that differences are lost: each city takes to resembling all cities, places exchange their form, order, distances, a shapeless dust cloud invades the continents.”
Italo Calvino

Back in a while.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Monday already? 4 days left to finish packing, run the errands, and head for the hills. If I buckle down today, I can probably get the bulk of it finished.

I'm still hanging on to this as my excuse for being a less than motivated blogger. That, plus not too much knitting going on.

This is my latest - ages and ages ago, I started the Lizard Ridge Afghan from Knitty. Still think it's a cool pattern. Still love the color effect. Think it's a beautiful thing. Will never, ever, ever attempt to knit it again.

Front side

Back side

I completed about 6 squares of the blanket before giving up. Then I used the rest of the yarn into a garter stitch blanket. I kept 4 of the squares from the original project, and blatantly copied an idea I saw on Ravelry. I seamed the 4 squares together, then started seaming them together at the corners. My seams are wonky, but it's a pillow, and doesn't show that much. (I used mattress stitch, more or less.) When I was almost done, I folded some batting into a shape close to the pillow, stuffed it inside, and them jammed polyfill into the pillow until it was roughly pillow shaped. I finished seaming, then attached 2 buttons to the front and back of the pillow to give it a more interesting shape and to hide the join at the center front. It worked pretty well, although evidently I kept my first square attempt at LR, which has some interesting interpretations of short rows. It's not really obvious though, and the colors hide a lot of sins.

I am actually very fond of the pillow, but I don't have the patience for a project of the scale of the afghan. I strongly prefer the afghan in lots of shades of Kureyon.

Back to packing - the end is in sight. I can't tell if I'm taking hardly anything, or way too much crap. Something inbetween, probably.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I'm all about the bug photos.


Photo from a short family walk on the 3rd of July, off at a sadly underused park where there are endangered red wolves. I don't have any good shots of the wolves. They're really shy and solitary, and the fenced-in area had a screen as well as glass, which makes photographs challenging. There were an amazing number of butterflies and dragonflies out.

Today we went for a family stroll in the county park. If I had been there, I would have photographed the banana spiders. I love these guys - huge spiders, with amazing webs. (I took a photo of one that lived outside my living room window when I first moved in.)

But I think most of you are more interested in fiber than in my shots of bugs, so here's some screaming orange roving from Julie. (Although I could take a snap of the palmetto bug crawling near the ceiling. Yuk.)
screaming orange.JPG
I'm pretty excited about this fiber, but I want to get some more practice spindling before I mess with this. I think I also want a lighter spindle for sock yarn. I've been eyeing this. (No, Julie, a wheel is not in my immediate future.)

It was great not going to work today. The packing thing was decidedly less fun, but I assume I'll get there eventually. Up soon are some photos of finished things. I'm still knitting, but the move is definitely cramping my style a little bit.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Ok, I just sewed in the ends of Ishbel. It's pretty. It feels nice. It looks really stupid on me. Worn with the point in back, I look dumpy. Worn like a bandana, it adds a huge amount of weight to my front, where I'm already topheavy. Not a good look. Kind of slung to the side, it looks like I'm trying too hard.

I finished a pair of socks tonight. They're a full inch too short. Knit top down, after repeatedly trying them on. How did I miss that? Plus, they're more red than orange, and I really wanted orange.

I ripped out a lace scarf tonight. I just wasn't liking the project, it had stalled, and I decided it needed to go.

I was about to start another pair of socks, and I'm not sure I like the yarn.

I'm on a roll. Maybe I should just give up and go to bed.

Might as well finish the post with a photo of the black widow spider who took up residence near my back door a few weeks ago. She's gone now, as it wasn't a good place for her to be. The little spiders nearby I think are males. Click on over to see it bigger, if you like. (Or run away, if you don't like spiders!) I thought she was a beautiful spider, but it just wasn't safe to let her hang out too close to us.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Weekends are for knitting

Ishbel is blocking.
She is a LOT bigger than I expected.
Blocking is also not my strong point. I periodically consider getting blocking wires, but the truth is that I'm just kind of sloppy about edges. I ran string through the top edge of Ishbel, but it didn't really help me out much.

I also finished a pair of socks for the husband. These are a pair from Favorite Socks.
He's pretty happy with them. I was so close to being done with them when I forgot about them and moved on to something else, I don't remember what...
When I was sorting through my yarn and picking out the losers, I also cleaned up my projects and re-discovered some of the socks I had left to complete. I worked on another super simple pair for him for a while, but it's not my favorite yarn. I also rediscovered my Primavera socks, and managed to turn the heel and make it partway down the foot this evening. I'll probably work on wrapping those socks up this week. I'm really hoping to concentrate on finishing some things off for the next month, although I'm contemplating the next sock to be started.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Time for changes.

I'm feeling like a lazy blogger, but I want to get back to blogging. Hence, a collection of random bullets.
  • It's Friday, and since my ersatz boss is a) on vacation for the next 2 weeks and b) as of 2 weeks from now no longer my boss, I'm taking some extra time this morning. I have almost nothing to do for the last period of time. Mostly cleaning up, documenting things, and transferring a little bit more of what I know. In general - as little as I can possibly get away with.
  • I'm not going to say anything more than I'm glad that it's over.
  • I have a whole weekend ahead of me, and a little less than a month before I start my new adventure. I probably need to get going on the packing.
  • One of my biggest tasks has been checking to see that I have PDF files of all the research articles I own and recycling the paper copies. I have 1 file drawer left to go through, but I have reduced my paper weight by at least 1/3 already.
  • Summer of Socks '09 has started, but I haven't knit any socks recently. I completed another garter stitch square for my ever-growing afghan. I'd like to finish 3 more, then it will "just" need to be put together.
  • On my list of things I would like to accomplish before I leave town, I have a sweater that needs seaming, and my tangled-yoke cardigan could easily be finished in a week.
  • I'm planning on giving away some of my yarn, either to Goodwill or to the school district for using in art classes. I have some single balls of stuff that I will never knit, don't like, and don't want. And no, it's not stuff I'm going to gift away on the blog - I'm terrible about going to the post office, and trust me, you don't want this either.
  • I don't really feel like going to work today, despite knowing it will be much much less stress than usual.
  • Thanks to the tutorial on Yarn Harlot's blog, I realized I have been picking up stitches incorrectly in garter stitch. Makes much more sense her way, but I'm completing my blocks the way I've been knitting them anyhow.
  • I'm running out of things to say, but I've got some ideas for other posts (and photos) that I'll try to get to this weekend.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Aw! I got tagged...

Bells tagged me, so I had to answer these.

What Is Your Current Obsession?

This is a hard question. A better question for me is What Are Your Current Obsessions... So I'm going to answer that instead. I'm currently obsessed with my garter stitch log cabin blanket. I dropped everything else to work on that. I've also developed an obsession with Animal Crossing on the Wii. Oh, and playing Scrabble on Facebook.

What Are You Wearing Today?
Jeans and a deep v t-shirt in navy blue over a wine-colored camisole. It's hot as blazes outside.

What's for dinner?
(I want to eat at Helen's house.) Salmon, rice, and spinach, with a hot dressing of soy sauce, oil and chili oil on top. Mix, then add avocado and cilantro. Yum.

What Would You Eat for Your Last Meal?
Ooh. That's a tough one.

What's the Last Thing You Bought?
A bag of Sun Chips from the vending machine. I was hungry yesterday at lunch. Before that, books.

What Are You Listening To Right Now?
My very loud washing machine and my son who is talking to himself while driving blocks around the living room.

If you could go anywhere in the world in the next hour, where would you go?
Florida. I don't like the heat, but I'd really rather be with my mom and sister tomorrow. It's 9 months after my dad's death, and cruelly, also my parents' wedding anniversary.

Which language do you want to learn?
If I could learn another language, I'd like to learn Chinese. I am, however, hopeless with languages. Plus, although I can hear that I'm doing something wrong, I can't figure out how to make the changes to make the sounds correctly.

What do you love most about where you currently live?
Uhhh... I like my house. It's the first home I've ever owned, and there are many things about it I will miss. I'm particularly fond of the front room, which has a beautiful bay window. It's a great room to sit in to knit or read or just relax.

What is your favourite colour?

What is your favourite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe?
A thin, stretchy v-neck black cardigan. I actually have 2. I loved my original one, which I found in a discount store and have worn it past the point where it looks nice. I got a replacement sweater last year, and I love it almost as much.

What were you doing ten years ago?
Preparing to move from California to Wisconsin to start grad school. Planning my wedding. Completely freaking out. (Not much changes.)

Describe your personal style?
Sloppy. I'd like to say casual and comfortable, but I think that's a stretch. I'm working on cleaning it up, but I've lived in the lab too long. I wear jeans 99% of the time, and only in the last 3 years have I made an effort to wear ones without holes in them!

If you had $300 right now what would you spend it on?
I would get stuff in preparation for my move. I need some household things. If I'm supposed to spend on fun things, I'd splurge on myself instead and buy a Nintendo DS, a game, and some pretty circular needle and dpn cases. Or else I'd hire a babysitter and go out on a date or two with my husband.

What are you going to do after this?
Play with my son, make dinner, possibly make cookies, watch TV and knit, play scrabble, read a little and go to bed far too late.

What inspires you?
Passion for what you do, no matter what it is. Being excited about something can bring artistry to the simplest things.

What are your favourite films?
Boogie Nights, Soapdish, Better Off Dead, The Usual Suspects, Lost in Translation

Whose work/designs are you inspired by?
I think Wendy Bernard has a great eye and wrote my favorite new knitting book of the year. Cookie A isn't always to my taste, but she has crazy math skills and makes me think. Ysolde has some pretty patterns. Stephanie Japel (Glampyre) doesn't design for me, but I love to look at what she does - she's got a unique style. Finally, Nora Gaughan does some really wild things, and I want to look at more of her patterns to see how they're constructed.

Your favourite books?
I have many loved books, but these are always on my list.
Italo Calvin: If on a winter's night a traveler. Invisible Cities.
Norton Juster: The Phantom Tollbooth
Mercer Mayer: Professor Wormbog in Search of the Zipperumpazoo

Do You Collect Anything?
Not really. I buy a lot of books, cds, games, and yarn, but I think I play with those things too much to really consider any of them collected.

What makes you follow a blog?
Beautiful photos, good writing, or interesting projects. Sometimes something just amuses me.

What was the most enjoyable thing you did today?
I left work early. The good part of the day has just started.

What's one thing you dream of doing?
Running my own lab.

Passing it on:
Julie (I can't wait to see how you answer #1.)
Kim (Hamsterball!)
Acornbud (If you aren't reading her, you should. She knits pretty things and has beautiful photos from Hawaii. Isn't that more than enough reason?)
Anyone else want it? I don't really know who's left reading anymore... Please let me know if you take it. I like to read responses.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I see squares.

Lots of squares.
At last count, there were 14 of them. I'm knitting #15 now.
I'm shooting for 20, which will require a lot of seaming. This may wait until after I move.

Have I mentioned the move? Slightly more than a month away. I'm ignoring it as much as I can. Did I mention I was knitting squares? I watched North and South, the one with Richard Armitage, not anything starring Kirstie Alley. He's not hard on the eyes.

Does that make up for a not that exciting blog post?

Monday, June 8, 2009

I'm not a golfer

But I know a water hazard when I see one.
Gator at Hilton Head.JPG

(Golf course at Hilton Head, photo taken from path behind condo we were staying in with husband's family for a weekend.)

Friday, June 5, 2009

If I were more focused

I could probably have more finished things to show off on the blog. But, instead of finishing a sock or three, instead of finishing Ishbel (did I mention I started that?), instead of finishing a sweater or a lace scarf or 3, I knit square things.

Noro blanket.JPG

This is one of those very polarizing projects - you're either going to love it or hate it. I've noticed that Noro is a yarn that people have strong feelings about. Sort of like posts on Ravelry about dpns vs. magic loop. Right now, this is the best thing ever for me to knit. Yes, all garter stitch. Log cabin blogs, from the instructions in Mason-Dixon Knitting. Gauge? Approximate. My tension is variable. The last 2 days, I was clearly more tense than the first 2 days I was knitting this. The blocks are smaller. Decidedly so. I'm not going to explain why, I'm just going to keep knitting square-ish things.

I originally was planning to make the Lizard Ridge afghan. I have the yarn for it, but I like it better this way. It's not subtle, it's not delicate. It's a large-scale project, it may look very home-made, and I don't care. I know the seaming is going to suck. I know knitting and quilting are different media, and perhaps should stay separate. Regardless, I'm totally entertained by watching how the colors play out in each block, and thrilled by the fact that I can crank one of these out in a day or so, with little time or brainpower invested. I need something bright, cheerful, and simple right now. This puppy fits the bill.

More later, but for now, I'm back to making square things.

ETA:(Oh, and the color here? Totally wacky. This thing is so bright it blasts out my camera. I'll try again in the daytime.)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Go. Go make this for dinner now.

Still here.

Things picked up for a while, and now are slowing down a little bit, at least temporarily. I've found an apartment to rent, my application has been accepted, and a small deposit to hold the apartment is winging its way to its destination as I write.

The usual stresses and difficulties haven't changed, but this week should be a little easier as a) it's shorter, and b) my biggest source of stress and difficulty is out this week. This leaves me more able to go about things according to my own schedule, which helps a great deal.

I seem to be off to a slow start this morning - we got back in town from a mini-vacation with the inlaws yesterday afternoon. I started to get the house picked up from some work we had done - wallpaper removal, popcorn ceiling removal, painting - messy stuff that has left a residue of dust everywhere. I'm trying to look at it as an opportunity to get rid of some of the clutter as I put rooms back together. Yesterday, I poked around in the bookshelves, and pulled some books out to give away, and moved unread books that had gotten lost in the shuffle to more visible locations. Now it's easier to shop the bookcases again, find just the right reading material.

I'll post some fun travel photos tomorrow, and update the knitting news. I'm in sock mode, which means about 3 being worked simultaneously, but hopefully at least one of those will be finished up shortly. Trying to resist the call of the new and finish up some of the lingering projects. Small and portable is winning right now, thanks to the current decluttering efforts.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Aw shucks.

Thanks, everyone, for your kind words about the hat. Seriously - it's puckered in some places, but it blocked out a lot better than I had hoped. I'm very happy with it, and I'm definitely going to be knitting some more 2 color hats in the future, or I might start knitting mittens. I don't see myself knitting many sweaters this way, although I have a copy of Meg Swansen's Knitting, and there are a few things in there that strike my fancy. No promises in any direction.

Anyhow, one of the things I really like about knitting is how everything gets easier with practice. I picked up my Trellis scarf again, for instance, and discovered how much more relaxing knitting it has become. I dropped a stitch and was able to calmly correct my mistake without having to rip back to the beginning. Yeah, I'm still having to tink back a row every so often, but that's not a big surprise when I'm only half paying attention by trying to talk on the phone and knit, or watch TV, or wrangle a small kid. I think I finished another repeat and a half today, so it's gradually getting a little longer, but nothing dramatic as of yet. For me, this one falls under the category of long-term project.

Zarzuela Knits and Crochets posted regarding Summer of Socks 09, and I think I'm going to play along again this year. I love the idea that the theme is "no stress" this year, which will make it much more fun to play. I'm not in the mood for something really competitive, but I'm happy to see socks no matter what. I'm still plugging away at the 3 or so pair that I acknowlege having started. If I can finish those up by September, I'd be pretty excited. I've also had a couple patterns hit my radar lately - Marilinda has definitely captured my interest, and Charade looks like a great way to use some of my variegated yarn in a wearable sock.

Photos this weekend, if there's anything pretty that catches my eye and more importantly, if I remember to get some duct tape for my camera...

Sunday, May 3, 2009


I did a whole lot of sitting and knitting this weekend. It was the first weekend in a long while that all three of us were home at the same time, and we made it a weekend of relaxation - no work, as few chores as we could manage. Lots of reading, playing Wii, knitting, bike rides, walks, and movies. I also played a whole lot of Scrabble on Facebook.

I saw Madagascar 2, which none of us would recommend. Friday night we watched Waitress, which was cute, but not my favorite of all the movies I've ever seen. The husband and I caught up on TV - Dollhouse has gotten pretty good, which is unfortunate as I suspect it will be canceled
in the next 5 minutes. House was okay, and we still have Chuck to watch.

I finished a sock for the husband, but it's not really blogworthy. I'm continuing to work on a couple pairs for him. I'm about halfway done with the second sock for one pair, and haven't cast on for the other yet. I'm alternating between those socks and the second Primavera sock for myself. I've only knit the cuff so far.

More excitingly, I started (and finished) a quick little knit by Glampyre. This is the Reclamation scarf, a quick knit to use up a skein of yarn. I do actually wear scarves as accessories, not just for cold-weather wear. They're also especially useful in my office, where the AC is perpetually set too high, and there's a cold breeze that blows on my neck.
The yarn is Filatura di Crosa College, which isn't the greatest stuff ever. I like the color, but the texture is a bit off. It's stiff and furry at the same time, but knit on large needles, it isn't so bad. I probably will wash it once I have some finished socks, and it should soften up a bit and bloom. It's a discontinued yarn, and not one that I really feel like I missed out on much.

I am very proud of this completed knit:
Selbu .JPG

I fell in love with the pattern, Selbu Modern, and decided to try it out. This is the first time I worked with 2 colors, and it was a pretty good choice for a first project. My tension is all wonky, and I had a hard time with the top of the hat for a couple reasons. First, I should have switched to dpns sooner than I did. Second, choosing aluminum needles was a poor choice, and stickier needles would have made my life simpler. Third, stabbing myself in the palm of the hand with said aluminum needles meant that I took an extra week to complete this project. I'll just say ow and move on, but I don't recommend doing what I did at all. Overall, I love this, even if my photography is lacking.


My camera is in an iffy state - the battery cover has broken, and it's hard to keep the batteries in place with a complete circuit in order to take photos. My birthday is in a week, and one of the things I asked for was an inexpensive point and click camera to fill in the void. We'll see - it's an interesting time here. Off for more laundry, some more mindless knitting, and to enjoy what little is left of the weekend.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


At one point in my life, I read much more than I do now. I think this was before having a child, and probably before I went to grad school. I still read, but there's been a definite drop in both the quantity and quality of my reading. The past couple years have been particularly difficult - after the deaths of my mentor and my dad, I've wanted to avoid anything serious, anything potentially distressing, and preferably no discussions of cancer in my books. That's mostly left me with mysteries and science fiction, although I admit that most of the Twilight series also snuck in there. (I haven't read the last book, and I probably will. At the same time, I think it's a terribly written series and the female protagonist is a wet washrag.)

Two weekends ago, I went to the bookstore with Julie, ostensibly to knit. We didn't ever get around to that - we wandered around a lot, and yakked a lot, but didn't pull out the knitting. I did, however, purchase some books. I just finished The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, volumes 1 and 2 over the weekend. It looked promising - it had great blurbs, it was a NY Times Bestseller, it sold itself as
"...a bodice-ripping, action-packed roller-coaster ride of suspense, betrayal, and richly fevered dreams."
With a line like that, I couldn't resist. I wasn't looking for high literature after all, I was looking for escapism.

The first chapter was promising, but the book rapidly got bogged down in its own language, overly convoluted plots, and poor pacing. Parts of the book stretched on forever, and critical scenes were rushed and hard to follow. By the time I finished reading both volumes (evidently this is one larger work that was packaged into two smaller paperbacks for ease of handling), I still had no connection to any of the characters, and had lost track of much of the intrigue and the rationale for most of the actions. It was bizarrely violent, gory, and completely nonsensical, and lacked any sense of fun.

I don't think it's that I don't like steampunk - Girl Genius amuses me, and I enjoyed the Difference Engine, but this book really left me cold. In some ways I think it's comparable to Jonathan Norrell and Mr. Strange, at least in terms of being somewhat in need of an editor, but Norrell and Strange was a much better book. I didn't enjoy that one very much either, but at least I didn't want a refund of my time quite as badly.

Overall, I was disappointed, and I'm recommending a pass on these.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Blog Block

I've been having a hard time figuring out what to say lately. As usual, I've been juggling a lot of projects. On Ravelry, I formally claim 9 of them. There are well over a dozen, however, and although my dabbling keeps me from being bored, it doesn't make for exciting blogging. Over the last 2 days, I've finished 2 socks.

Primavera. Simple pattern, nice effect. I still count Trekking as one of my favorite yarns. I like the way the colors blend into each other, the yarn is durable, and makes a sock that's just the right weight.

Undulating Rib
For the knitting-tolerant husband, the Undulating Rib sock from Favorite Socks. This is some Schoeller+Stahl Fortissima Colori Socka Color yarn I've had in stash since the first year I started knitting. It's also a striping yarn, similar to Trekking, but much less even in yarn thickness. I don't know that I loved working with it, but I'm quite pleased with the sock.

Crime Fighting Sock
And this is my labor of love. I hate this yarn. It's squeaky, and sticky, and slimy. I don't like working with it, but the husband likes it. The colors are fun, and the dye is gorgeous - I just hate the base. I'm up to the toe on these, then got distracted and had to rip back. Now the sock is in time out, and I'll finish the toe tomorrow, and cast on for sock #2. If it wasn't meant for the husband, I'd chuck the whole thing.

I had several ideas earlier this evening about what to write, but it got late and I got tired. Hopefully I'll be a little less scarce, now that I'm over my cold, and actually back to knitting, but it's been hard to do much of anything.
I keep hoping my schedule will get less intense, but I think that's not going to let up until at least August.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Two sleeves down.

And a yoke to go.

Bells recently started Tangled Yoke, and as I don't want this to be another time that she completes a sweater I started years ago before I finish mine. I had one sleeve already knit, and just finished the second one moments ago.

They are, however, off on stitch count from what they should be according to the pattern. Not hugely, just a few here and there, so I'm planning on adding in the extra 2-3 stitches per sleeve (one sleeve is short 2, the other 3) when I join the whole mess together.

Just not tonight.

Should I be more concerned about this? I tried the sleeves on, and they fit just fine. But at 6 st/inch, this is not insignificant... Then again, I'm okay with being a sloppy knitter.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Title goes here.

Last night I finished knitting a Bias Shawl out of Handmaiden Silk Rumple. This was one of my presents to myself for getting a new job. I have to admit that I am not entirely sure about the finished product. The yarn is silk, and feels fantastic. After all, it is silk. But - it's also boucle, and I'm not certain how I feel about that aspect. As usual, I love the colors (peridot mist for my particular skein), and I mostly enjoyed working this up. The pattern is an incredibly simple 2 row repeat, which is frankly about all I'm up for right now. I needed something mindless, or meditative if you prefer. Currently, the wrap is blocking, and I'm holding off a final judgement until it's dry. I will state that my blocking skills are lacking. I can't pin a straight edge, and I'm way too lazy to use string to block things. I'm contemplating asking for blocking wires for my birthday, especially if I keep knitting lace. I have a suspicion that blocking just may require a lot more patience and attention to detail than I have at the moment. Hopefully I'll get some photos of it tomorrow once it's dry, but I also have to go into the lab and work this Saturday. I spent yesterday hiding at home, and am planning to do the same again today. I have a lot of work to do involving organizing spreadsheets, and as I have coffee and relative quiet at home, working here is an appealing option. That being said, I tried it yesterday and spent much more time drinking coffee and knitting than I did working.

My boys come home tomorrow night, which is good. Having the quiet was nice, but I think I much prefer having them with me.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

On hold

Just for a little while. Being at the computer is seriously stressing me out.

An excuse to blog

Yeah, the blogging every day thing isn't going so well. I also don't want to sit online and whine about my life. And frankly, things aren't going so well, so I'm trying to keep quiet. Anyhow. I'm grumpy and things feel aversive, so I'm going to go with the 10 on Tuesday theme for the day.

10 Least Liked Foods

I like food. I like to eat, and I'm a reasonably adventurous eater. That being said:

1. Organ meats. I don't care for them, won't eat them.
2. Lima beans. My mom insists they are something
3. Peas. Raw, maybe, but cooked peas gross me out.
4. Ham. I don't know, I just don't like the way it looks or smells.
5. Canteloupe. Or melon in general, come to think of it. That's a textural issue for me, as well as finding them too sweet.
6. Collard greens. Too bitter.
7. Any overcooked vegetables. I like my roughage raw.
8. Over-ripe bananas. Ick.
9. Beets. Don't care for them.
10. Brussel sprouts. Taste bitter to me.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Doo doo doo....

Looking out my front window.
Raking season, just the beginning.
Yesterday I could not figure out where to drop my son off for daycare, which was held at a school we don't normally go to. It was his first day of spring break, and since my boss was away, I decided I'd take the day off and spend it with him. We ran some errands, played outside, and I then started to spend some time on my least favorite yard chore. Raking. This represents a tiny fraction of what needs to come up off my yard - and this is from an area that has already been raked once this season. Ugh. I have a lot more work to do.

Raking season, more to go.
I'm hoping to get the piles picked up by the end of this week, but the job never seems to end. My legs are really sore from picking up the piles, but I need the exercise anyhow.

At least you can see pretty flowers out the back window.

So the boys are off for their vacation, and I've got the house to myself. Which means I have been doing my best to be anywhere but home. It's weirdly quiet. I'm going to settle down for the rest of the evening with a movie, some popcorn, some knitting, and some tea. I'm hoping to get close to finishing a sock - I'm not sure how long it should be, and the husband isn't around to try it on, but I know it needs a few more inches of foot regardless.

Tomorrow, in to work to collect my computer and my phone charger. I've picked up 2 new knitting books recently, which will make good blog fodder for tomorrow, I think.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Day 2

I swear to you I had fewer of those 2 days ago. It's been a week. Thankfully, tomorrow is Friday, and the boss is out, which means I can relax and have a better day.

Julie freaked me out about carpet bugs, which prompted me to pull out my roving and spin a little bit. I am not very good at making yarn with my spindle, which isn't much of a surprise. I don't play with it very often, and honestly, I don't really have time to take up spinning, even though I do find working with the spindle to be really relaxing. I think most of my yarn is safely stored in plastic bags inside plastic tubs, but there's one area in my house that I'm a little nervous about. I think I'll dig into that area this weekend, but it's hiding a lot of things I don't really want to deal with.

It rained all day and wasn't a good day for photos. Hopefully tomorrow the pollen will have been washed away a bit and it will be slightly drier. Roads were flooded for my morning commute - high tide + rain + living at sea level = hazardous conditions. If it's a little better, I'll snap a shot of the wrap I've been knitting away on. Let's face it - it's a novelty scarf, but it's silk and it feels fantastic, and I'm feeling totally unashamed of it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

This cheesy 80's moment

Brought to you courtesy of a lousy day.
Humor me. I gave notice today (3 months) and it didn't go so well. But, hey - I made it this far. I can make it another few months, right?

I'm challenging myself to blog every day this month. If nothing else, it may help me get out the camera more.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuesday 10

Today's prompt: 10 Things on my To Do List

1. Pay taxes. Yup, haven't started that yet. Still have to contact the old school to get paperwork I need to fill out the forms, too.
2. Rake the yard. Spring leaf-fall is in progress, and the live oaks are dropping leaves like nobody's business.
3. Get back to regular running. I miss it and I need it.
4. Sort the paperwork in the kitchen.
5. Clean the garage.
6. Finish up some unfinished knits.
7. Figure out when I'm going apartment hunting.
8. Notify my boss of my plans.
9. Run western blots.
10. Cut sections.

Exciting, no?