Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Continues Its Weirdness to the Last

Last night was rough. I hardly got any sleep. I did get to sleep in a little bit, until about 8:30. When I woke up, the wind was howling. It was gusting over 40 mph. The electricity was flickering. I took a quick shower and did some morning time wasting -- checking email and Ravelry, you know, the important things :) Then our contractor called, saying that he'd be over in five minutes to fix the hole he cut in the wall of our basement bathroom.

I ran downstairs to get the paper out of the yard. My next door neighbor, C, and her daughter were leaving their house at the same time. We stared in disbelief as we discovered that two very large branches of the tree in our front yard had fallen thisclose to C's new car:

These pictures were taken after I had disentangled the branches from her wheel wells and undercarriage. Miraculously, there was no damage to her car, not even a scratch, considering how many little twigs and branches were attached to those larger branches. Her first response was, "They missed your light!"

The tree is a huge Silver Maple. I think it's one of the oldest trees in the neighborhood. I love that tree -- it's one of the reasons I wanted to buy the house. It withstood Hurricane Isabel, even though two other maples on our block were torn, roots up, by that storm. However, there have been two pretty strong droughts since then that weakened the tree considerably. I've been trying to save it, having the dead stuff trimmed, watering, etc., but I think it's time to cut it down. Silver Maples have very shallow root systems. I don't want this tree falling on the house.

About 10 minutes after the tree branch discovery, a freak blizzardy snowstorm blew in. No weather report I'd seen said anything about snow, and it wasn't even cold. Here's what it looked like out my front door:

Two minutes after this, the sun came out, lighting up all the moisture in the trees:


Winter Break has been relaxing (mostly). There's been a lot of little stuff going on, so very little knitting. Yesterday, Mr. T thought it might be fun if the boys and I met him downtown for lunch. "I see lots of empty parking spaces," he said. So we hopped in the car and drove downtown only to discover that there are lots of empty parking spaces because all of the meters have been removed in preparation for the Inauguration. So everyone had to cram into the few parking spots that were left. After driving around or 20 minutes fruitlessly searching for an open spot, we parked in a garage. Normally, if I'm going to go to the trouble of driving downtown, and if I'm shelling out $13 for parking, I do NOT want Subway or Baja Fresh for lunch. Or a deli. But that's what we had. It was a nice day, and it killed some time.

Otherwise, there's a lot of Guitar Hero being played. Here's Jr. Jr., doing his best rocker/ladykiller thing:

Yes, the room is messy. There's no point in cleaning it up while they're home 24 hours a day.

And just so you don't get wool withdrawals, here are some shots of Madli's Shawl, first, being modeled by Soft Little Bear:

And finally, lounging alluringly on the bench:

Good luck to Sharon and family, who are competing in Old Town Alexandria's New Year's Eve miler!

And to everyone else, I wish you all a very Happy New Year, hoping that 2009 ushers in better times for all of us.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Post-Christmas Catch-Up

We're still picking pieces of wrapping paper out of our hair, sitting here, gorged on cookies and banana bread, wondering how this time flew past so quickly. The boys are happy with their Nerf guns, books, and Guitar Hero. My FIL's wife really seemed to like the Plum Lotus scarf, which was nice.

I've knit a little bit, not a lot, but it's the same lace shawl, only with more repeats. It'd be a bit pointless to take a picture of it, just scroll down and imagine it with another repeat or two :) I've got the toe on the second Twisted Tweed sock done, but I haven't started the patterned part yet. Dull. I know.

Kippi asked if I'm starting to think about what to knit once the shawl is done. Well, yes, but I'm trying not to! I'm a little over halfway done with the shawl, so it's at that boring, trudging along point where I can easily be distracted away from finishing it. Thus, I am trying to stay away from any additional sources of inspiration. (I admit, however, that I am thinking of revisiting a pattern that was an epic fail for me pre-blog. If I decide to re-knit it, you'll hear all about my idiocy in wrecking the sweater. Experience is no hedge against stupidity. [See, e.g., Wall Street.] The pattern is somewhere in the house, but I refuse to go look for it. No siree, no how.)

In the meantime, we're trying to enjoy our brief spurt of warmer weather before it disappears again. Mr. T and Sr. Jr. rode up the C & O Canal Towpath this morning, up to Great Falls, which looked pretty ferocious from all the recent wet weather. Here are some shots they took via cell phone:

I hope everyone is having a nice, relaxing post-holiday break.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Correspondence with Santa

A Heartwarming Tale of Bitterness and Disillusionment

For some strange reason, Jr. Jr. seems to have decided this year that he believes in Santa Claus. I say "seems to" because I know for a fact that he's told some neighborhood kids that Santa isn't real. Yet he really seems to believe this year. He wrote Santa the standard request letter (even if he claims it was to "test him to see if he's real"), he wants me to leave out milk and cookies tonight, etc. Now, the kids are being raised Jewish. They go to Sunday School and Hebrew School at temple. They light the candles on the Menorah and open presents for Chanukah. Mr. T likes Christmas, so we do have a pretty Christmas tree with presents temptingly placed underneath it. So one would think the child, at almost 8 years of age, would be clued into the whole Santa deal.

In his request letter to Santa, he asked for the Mushroom Men game for the Wii, a Nintendo DS, and the board game Operation. He's already gotten Mushroom men as a Chanukah present and Operation is wrapped up under the tree. He's NOT getting a DS.

Mr. T thought it might be a cute idea to have Santa write back to Jr. Jr., saying that while he's been a good boy, not everyone can get everything they want. But in his response, Mr. T made a little boo boo. He told Jr. Jr. that this year he would not be able to give him a PSP.

Oh, the indignance! Clearly, Santa's an addled old man, easily confused. It was a DS, dammit, not a PSP, that Jr. Jr. wanted! He got out a piece of paper to write back to Santa in hopes of clearing up the confusion in time for Christmas.

"Dear Santa," he wrote. "I asked for a DS, not a PSP. You got mixed up. [Jr. Jr.]" (Not even a businesslike "sincerely"!) I told him that it was probably not a good idea to be mean to Santa, or to seem ungrateful, lest Santa's hurt feelings be reflected next year at this time.

Meanwhile, today Sr. Jr. went off to work with Mr. T, and I stayed home and baked cookies:

These are some of the best cookies ever, and my seasonal gift to you is the recipe, originally published years ago in the Washington Post Food section:

Ginger Cookies

(Preheat oven to 375 and line some baking sheets with parchment paper)

2 cups plus 2 tbs all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice

3/4 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup of sugar mixed with 1/2 tsp ground ginger and 1/4 tsp allspice

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

In a large bowl with electric mixer on medium, cream shortening for about two minutes. Add the sugar in 2 additions, beating for 1 minute after each. Beat in egg. Blend in molasses and vanilla.

Reduce mixer speed to low and add flour mixture in three additions, beating just until the flour is incorporated each time. Wrap tightly and refrigerate until firm, about 3 or 4 hours.

Form dough into balls of about 1 tbs. Roll each ball into ginger/sugar/allspice mixture and place three inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.

(You can also add up to 2/3 cup of chopped crystallized ginger to the dough for an even stronger cookie.)

On that note, we are off to celebrate.

I wish all of you the most merry and happy of holidays!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Catching Up

It's been a very busy week, with a couple of days spent running to and from the vet with one of the cats (she's fine), one day lost to emergency plumbing repairs (fixed, thanks to a contractor who will come back five years after a renovation!), a couple of holiday parties, including one at the Corcoran Gallery (not as nice as one would expect), holiday shopping that got squished into a half a day, and the usual stuff of life, like school parties, laundry, shopping, etc. As you can guess, not much knitting got done.

But I can show you some progress pics of Madli's Shawl, including the arty shot:

And the full-view progress shot:

Today was laundry day, which means the hanging garden of socks is on full display, if you happen to be in my bathroom:

This morning is was 16 degrees F at bus stop time, with a wind chill of 8. Outdoor activities are out of the question, so we've been doing the whole indoor family fun bit. We played Scrabble the other night, which is interesting when several of your competitors can't spell. We also started and finished a puzzle of a funky looking castle in Germany. We had a lot of fun doing this, so we immediately broke out the even more difficult 3000 piece puzzle to work on during winter break. Here's the completed castle:

Last, but certainly not least, was the first night of Chanukah. (It's getting close to sundown now, and the natives are getting restless. I'm streeeeeetttchhinnnngggg this out to torture them.) We gave Jr. Jr. a new Razor Scooter:

He insisted on riding it to the bus stop this morning, even though it was so cold. Grandma T gave Sr. Jr. a Florida Gators sweatshirt that he'll be able to grow into:

The kids are getting to be real experts at examining wrapped presents and guessing at what they might contain.

Tomorrow is their last day of school before break, so I hope to cram as much knitting time in as I can. It will be a while before I can do much more than work on a sock!

I picked up the new English? American? version of Anna magazine. Each magazine will contain a Herbert Niebling pattern, so out went my subscription request card :)

Also, there's a beautiful crocheted lace scarf in the most recent edition of Interweave Crochet that I'd like to do. I guess that will be my New Year's goal -- become a decent enough crocheter to make the Alpine Frost scarf.

I'm off to warm up the latkes for dinner before the kids explode with Chanukah anticipation....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Brief Question, More Tomorrow

So what up with the renewed interest in Susan Reishus and her Mystery Lace KAL? Many people have stopped by today as a result of searching for that, and I'm curious about why, all of a sudden, so many people are interested in that debacle? Did anything vaguely pattern-like every come out of that? Is she trying to start a new KAL? Please feel free to comment and let me know. Thx.

Will try to put up a real post sometime tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

In Case You Missed Your Daily Dose of Cute

(Photo by Kevin Dillard at Demoncats.)

This is Jr. Jr. with Mr. T at the bike race last weekend.

Here he is, as "Santa Claus, the Christmas Pirate." I know I'm his mom, but isn't he just adorable?

Madli's Shawl looks like it looked last time, only one repeat longer. In an earlier post, I talked about not liking the cast on. At one point, I set aside the edging that I'd already done and cast on for the second edging, figuring that I could either use it if the cast on looked nicer, or save it to use with the shawl if it looked the same. This time, I cast on tighter, hoping that I could do away with the little loopy parts of the knitted-on cast on edge. No luck. I still had the extra loops, but now the cast-on edge was too tight, so I scrapped it. I'll just live with it. Next time, I'll use the tried and true cast on. I don't usually have any trouble with it.

I ran out this morning to do a little holiday shopping. I got a couple of things the kids will like. Toys 'R Us didn't have one of the games I was looking for, so I stopped off at Target on the way home. They didn't have it either, but that was ok, because I needed to get the boys some new socks anyway.

Target was nearly cleaned out of boys' socks! I hope that kids aren't just getting socks for the holidays this year :(

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I Haven't Forgotten

...that I owe you a picture of the Plum Lotus Scarf being worn. None of the shots is great, but here's the best of the lot:

This scarf is going to my father-in-law's wife for Christmas. I think she'll like it better than the boring sweater we usually get her :)

In the meantime, I'm still plugging away at Madli's Shawl in my spare few minutes. It's a pretty easy knit, but it looks great. The yarn is spectacular. I can't quite get the color to show up in the pictures. Hopefully I can get a good shot in sunlight when the shawl is done. Here are some shots.

First, the full view:

Looking at this, I'm not sure I like that half repeat on the left hand side. It's not symmetrical, and it may bug me. I guess that it's designed this way to accommodate the edging, but it's very noticeable to me. Grrr. Next, the arty angular look:

And finally, the squared-up close-up:

I doubt it's going to get done too quickly, even though it should. This week is going to be very busy, what with holiday parties, school parties, etc.

I am not at all in the holiday spirit this year. I don't know why, and I can't seem to get myself motivated to do anything about it. I've done a little shopping, but not nearly enough.

Today was our block's annual pre-holiday get-together. It's always nice to catch up with people at this time of year. A lot of talking and keeping up goes on at the bus stop, but I miss some of the moms whose kids have aged out of elementary school.

We here in the T household have been talking about the possibility of sending Sr. Jr. to a private school. Middle school is even less challenging than elementary school, if that's possible. The poor boy is totally bored. He finishes all his homework at school. I've never seen him study for a test.

I've been hearing from people with older middle school kids that things don't really improve. I'm particularly disheartened to hear that the school doesn't step up its writing instruction. I believe that writing skills are of critical importance, not just for college, but for careers, as well. Sr. Jr., as bright as he is, is a reluctant writer. It's the one area where I think he could use some more work. At the block party, our next-door neighbor mentioned that they're looking into private schools for their son for next year, when he starts high school, for the same reason. It didn't inspire confidence in our schools.

Mr. T and I have always been strong advocates of public schools. We've always said how happy we are to live in an area with really good schools. We really don't want to spend a ton of money on schooling for a 12 year old :) We have options, like applying for the math/science magnet school in Fairfax, or the IB high school here in Arlington, but I'm not sure that either of those is a good fit for Sr. Jr. Not a fun situation.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dashing Through

It's that busy time of year, with shopping to do, parties to go to, dresses to shop for, ridiculous school projects to shop for, etc. We got a note home yesterday from Jr. Jr.'s teacher that they were going to work on a special holiday craft project, so could we please send in about a square yard of holiday-themed fabric, cut into strips? Great. So to add to all the other things I need to do at this time of year, I need to go find holiday-themed fabric??? Do they make Chanukah fabrics??? How dorky will it be if my kid makes a freaking wreath with Chanukah fabric? Cranky-making this is.

Call me Grinchy, I don't care. I can't wait for January.

There's only little bits of knitting, here and there, in between things, but I've gotten a couple of repeats done on Madli's Shawl. The pattern is really quite simple. In fact, it would be downright boring if it weren't for the two nupp rows per repeat. It looks really nice, even in its unblocked state. I can't wait to see the finished product. Here are some pictures:

This morning I'm off to our playgroup holiday gathering, so I apologize for not having more to say. Next time, I hope :)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Feeling Edgy

I will keep you in suspense no longer. I've chosen to knit Madli's Shawl from Knitted Lace of Estonia. I liked it, and it seemed like something I would actually wear. I'm using Yarn Chef's Creme Brulee wool/silk laceweight in a color called Malted, which is off-white, with tans and pinks, which gives the shawl an antiqued look. So I cast on. And I don't like the cast on. The pattern calls for a knitted-on cast-on using two strands of yarn. Mine doesn't look like the one in the book, perhaps because I kept the cast-on fairly loose to facilitate blocking. It'll just have to be a design feature. Oh, well.

I finished the lower border, so soon I'll move on to the main pattern section. I added a row of yarnovers in the middle of the garter stitch section at the top of the border, to provide a more prominent differentiation between the border and the main pattern.

The directions have you cast on and knit the lower border and the entire main body, then knit the top border separately and graft it to the rest of the shawl. My plan is to knit until I use up a whole skein. When I break out the second skein, I'll knit the upper border, so I know exactly how much yarn I have left to use to complete the shawl.

The nupps are going fine. Knitting Daily's TV show has a brief segment with Nancy Bush in which she demonstrates just how loosely to knit the stitches that form the nupp. That was extremely helpful. Here's a close-up view of the border, in which you can see the nupps more clearly:

In non-knitting news, I attended the Colonial Fair at Sr. Jr.'s school on Friday. It was the first in-school event of his middle school career. I was excited to see him out in the wild, interacting with the other creatures. I was assigned to a room that he wasn't in, but I did get to see him and visit his room. (All the colonies were assigned different rooms. The kids were given "passports" to go visit other colonies and learn about how they were founded, what their major crops were, etc.) It was a fun time. It was also nice to catch up with some parents that I rarely get to see anymore, since we don't meet up as frequently at school events.

Today was the last cyclocross race of the season, and while Sr. Jr. couldn't enter, Jr. Jr. did. It was his first official cyclocross race :) As luck would have it, there were two other boys there from his school and grade, one of whom is actually in his class. I suspect that the competition was a little fiercer because they all know each other. Jr. Jr. came in fourth, his classmate came in third, and the other boy came in fifth, so a good showing for the school.

Friday, December 5, 2008

At Least I've Made a Decision

But that's about all. And believe me, I put almost as much thought into this decision as we did when buying the house. I pored over the pictures on Ravelry; I pondered color; I tried to imagine what I'd like knitting and what I'd like wearing.

I'll leave you in suspense for a little while longer about my choice. In the meantime, I can tell you that the yarn is from my custom order from Yarn Chef. The colorway is called "Malted," but I think it looks more parchment-y. It's a mixture of cream, light tan/brown, and some light pink as well.

It will look beautiful knit up. I have two skeins of this, and I hope it will be enough for the shawl.

I also finished up the first of the Twisted Tweed socks:

It fits beautifully and looks wonderful. However, instead of immediately casting on for the second sock, I finally managed to cast on for the second socklet for my MIL. It's a quick knit, so I can get it done quickly and go back to the TT socks. I figure it's about time for my MIL to get her second pair of socklets.

And yesterday the first of my Sundara sock yarn club shipments arrived:

Mmmm. Pretty. I like these colors a lot.

Now I have lots of inspiration and not a lot of time.

Today was the big "Colonial Fair" at Sr. Jr.'s school. It was the first in-school event that they've had, so it was my first opportunity to see him in action at school. Unfortunately, I was stationed in the library, while he was in the science room, but I saw him when he visited our station ("Maryland") and then he pulled me along to see his installation, "Georgia." Middle school has a very different energy than elementary school! I had a good time.

Sorry for the quick post, but I have to go iron the kids' "good" clothes for a thing at temple tonight.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A Tale of Two Socks and Two Shawls

It was the best... No. Sorry.

I've been working on the Twisted Tweed socks in the absence of anything else that's managed to capture my attention. Back when I first started them, I wrote here that I was a bit concerned that the slipped stitches would make the sock a lot less stretchy, and therefore difficult to put on. Back in the day (last year or the year before, who knows, I've lost all track of time), I knit my Tilting Sunset socks using a similar (but not identical) technique. If I remember correctly, and it's entirely possible that I do not, the pattern for the TS socks involved slipping a stitch for a couple of rows and then moving it one or two stitches to the right or left, creating some tilted and elongated stitches running up and down and around the socks:

(The yarn is Dream in Color Smooshy, Cloud Jungle colorway. Amazing.) These stitches do, indeed, reduce the elasticity of the sock. Once they are on, they're fantastically comfortable, being Smooshy and all, but it does take a little finesse to get them on, particularly over that lumpy heel and ankle area.

Luckily, my fears about the simple slip stitches in the Tweed Socks were unnecessary. In this sock, you slip stitches with yarn in front on every other row, which compresses the row gauge a bit and reduces elasticity somewhat, but not enough to make it difficult to get the sock on.

As always, my meager photographic skills don't do the yarn justice (Sundara Sock Yarn, Sage over Pumpkin). The slip stitch pattern really works with this yarn, creating a lovely tweedy effect. I'm almost done with the first sock.

I'm still considering what to do for my next non-sock project. The smoke ring thing doesn't seem to be working out right now, or at least, the yarn I chose didn't seem to want to be a smoke ring. So I gathered up some magazines and some books to look for some inspiration and honed on in "Knitted Lace of Estonia," which some of you will remind me I had said would likely be the source of my next project while I was still working on the Simple Knitted Bodice.

I should pay more attention to myself.

Upon first glancing through the book, I thought that I would knit Madli's Shawl, a nice rectangular shawl with lots of lovely nupps. But then I found a lovely laceweight version of Miralda's Triangular Shawl, which just sent my plans into turmoil. The version of the shawl in the book is made with fingering weight yarn instead of laceweight. In my opinion, the delicacy and beauty of the pattern is completely lost in that yarn. If I had only seen the version of the shawl in the book, I wouldn't even be thinking about knitting it. Now, having seen what it can look like in a more delicate yarn, well...

This is what I love about Ravelry! (Or hate, depending.) There are so many variations on patterns that we can't all visualize, so it's wonderful to get to see those variations made real.

But now I don't know which one to do! From nothing, to too much, in one day.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Monk Wears No Shoes

And the eagle flies at midnight. Actually, according to Mr. T, who saw him again this morning, the Newspaper Monk wears no shoes. Given that it was in the mid 30s this morning and raining, I conclude that he's nuts AND dedicated. I'm considering leaving him some homemade cookies or something, but it's hard to predict which days he comes.

I have some more FO pictures to show you: the Chevalier Mittens:

Here's one, flashless, but being worn:

They are comfy, soft, and warm. I recommend this pattern for a nice gift, or a little self-indulgence.

Specs: Pattern: Chevalier Mittens, by Mari Muinonen. Yarn: Dream in Color Classy, In Vino Veritas color, about 1/2 a skein. Needle size: US 6.

And now I am once again afflicted with ennui, malaise, attitudious maleficus, lack of mojo, etc. All I've been able to do this Thanksgiving "vacation" is swatch one lace pattern for use in a smoke ring, but I didn't like it once it was knit up in the yarn I was using. I have two or three other possibilities, but I haven't had time to swatch them. I'm not thrilled with what I'm doing. Unless a lace pattern really sings to me in this yarn, I'm going to abandon the project and try to find something new to do.

This state of mind extends beyond knitting, too. I'm not reading anything that's really capturing my interest right now. I'm avoiding buying books because I plan to get a Kindle* eventually, and I want to save some trees. There's nothing (other than the Kindle) that I can think of that I want for the holidays, either. There's been little time for knitting and absolutely no time for exercise, so I feel flabby and out of shape.

I know. Whine, whine. Woe is me. (Violin playing motions here.)

* I've been holding off on ordering the Kindle because there are rumors that version 2.0 is being released soon after the new year. Then I thought I'd order one, then order the new one when it's released and give the old one to Mr. T, who gets most of his reading material from me anyway. Of course, now there's a waiting list and none will be available until after the holidays anyway.

Does anyone out there in reader-land know anything more about this mythical Kindle 2.0, like a possible release date? Is it really almost ready for release, or is it still a work in progress? Thanks!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Simple Knitted Bodice Pictures


I don't love it wholeheartedly, like I love the Gathered Pullover. There are some issues with fit that I would change if I could. I think it's a little bit big in the shoulder and bust area, and could use another inch or so of length. There's a little extra fabric in the underarm area that bugs me, but I think no one else would notice. Otherwise, I like the design a lot. It was easy to knit, with interesting bits to keep me from being bored.

Overall, though, it's comfy and wearable.

Stats: Pattern: Simple Knitted Bodice, by Stefanie Japel. Yarn: Dream in Color Classy, In Vino Veritas color. I used about 2.5 skeins. Modifications -- made the V a little shallower than called for in the pattern (increased at the neck every 6 rounds instead of 8, I think) and added an inch or so to the length. The original pattern called for a silk yarn with a lot of stretch, accounting for that by calling for a shorter length. My wool yarn won't stretch, so I added length to compensate.

The Chevalier mittens are finished, too. They had their bath this morning; now they're drying. They're warm and soft, too. I still have a bunch of this yarn leftover, but I'm going to take a break from the red.

I want to make a smoke ring-type thing. I don't have a pattern, so I'm just going to wing it. The question is the details -- should I just pick a lace pattern I like and knit it in the round, large enough to comfortably go over my head? Should I do some mumbo-jumbo with needle sizes to make it larger on top or on bottom, so that it lays flatter over my shoulders (bottom) or expands more comfortably to go over my big giant head (top -- see, you wondered why I don't show my head in pictures! It's because I'm freakish.)?

I will be using a dark turquoise alpaca and wool yarn that I got ages ago on eBay. I used another yarn from the same seller/manufacturer for my Fir Cone Wrap. It's soft and warm, perfect for a lacy smoke ring.

I don't know when I'll get started on that, as knitting time seems to be but a pipe dream these days, but in the meantime, I will keep working on the Tweed socks.

Hope everyone who celebrates it had a nice Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

No One's Here, But I'll Show You Anyway

It's pretty clear that no one is around right now. I hope everyone here in the States is getting ready for a nice, warm, fun-filled Thanksgiving. I also hope that your travel goes smoothly, with a minimum of traffic or annoyance.

We're staying here. Small gathering. Ho hum. Blah.

I still do not have pictures of myself in the Simple Knitted Bodice, because no one has been around during daylight hours to take any. Sunday was another big bike race, and as Mr. T and Sr. Jr. headed out the door, I said, "Please just get back while there's still daylight, so you can take some pictures for me." Ha. Fat chance.

In the meantime, I have a lot of leftover Dream In Color yarn, so I started a quick project to use some of it up -- the Chevalier Mittens. The original pattern calls for fingering weight yarn, used doubled, but the called-for gauge was the same gauge I was getting with the Classy. The pattern is fun and easy, with very impressive-looking results:

They're warm, too. I think I'll have enough yarn left over to make a hat, too.

Next on my agenda -- a smoke ring/cowl/snood thing.

I'm sure I'll be back sometime this weekend, fuller and fatter than ever :)


Friday, November 21, 2008

A Work in Progress and a Finished Object

Eighteen years ago today, Mr. T and I had our first date. I believe it was the night before Thanksgiving, too. We've been together ever since. I've been with him longer than I lived with my parents. Our relationship is old enough to vote and join the army. Hard to imagine, but wonderful to experience. I especially appreciate how strong our relationship is in light of the marital troubles of more than one couple we know. It's easy to take for granted when things are going well, or even just motoring along on auto-pilot. There have been times that brought into focus the rightness of my choice, both good times and hard, and I'm sure there will be more. We've grown together at every step of our relationship, every transition we've made, and I'm sure that we will continue to do so. Happy 18, love :)

Back to the knitting. I finished up the Simple Knitted Bodice this morning and plopped it into a nice warm, soapy bath to relax and set up. There was one scary moment when I went back upstairs after leaving it in it's bath for a while to discover that a curious cat had accidentally turned on the hot water in the bath tub. The hot water ran right into the tub with the sweater for a while. I was worried that something dire would happen, but no, everything was fine.

I let the water cool a bit before taking the sweater out to roll up and lay flat. It felt so much softer after its bath! Remember, I said that the yarn felt kind of stiff when knitted at the pre-wash gauge I needed to use to get the correct post-wash gauge. I knew from my swatches that the yarn would soften and relax, and it most certainly did.

I didn't have to do much beyond laying it out and smoothing it down to get it to size and shape. As you can see from the pictures, the most I did was pin out the bottom hem to keep it straight and even:

The color looks pretty accurate here, too. I think those lighter streaks above and below the lace panel are from the hot water running onto the fabric, believe it or not. Here's a close-up view of the lace panel:

It's upstairs drying. I'm not sure how long it will take to dry. When it's dry, I'll try to find someone to take some picture of me wearing it. I know I owe you live shots of the Plum Lotus Scarf, too.

This weekend is another bike race, this one organized by Mr. T's team. Plus, Jr. Jr. has a project due on Monday that will require a trip to the craft store and lots of glue. Yay. My knitting abilities do not translate to other crafts, alas.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Little Things

Right after we got home from a birthday party on Sunday afternoon, Jr. Jr. announced that he had a headache and a sore throat. Sure enough, he was running a fever. He's been home from school so far this week with a confirmed case of strep throat. So, while I'd finished the main knitting on the Simple Knitted Bodice, I really haven't had the time to focus and get the neckline stitches picked up and knit.

In the meantime, I've been knitting some little things.

Yesterday morning was the first morning it was down near the freezing mark so far this year. On his way to school, Sr. Jr. texted me with a simple command: "Make me hat." Easy enough. I'd already gotten his approval on Jared Flood's nice Turn a Square hat, so all he had to do was pick out some colors. He did, so I got clicking. Before the night was done, he had a new hat:

View of how the decreases form the squares on top:

The final test -- wearabilty:

Tres handsome, no? And good timing, as it was in the 20s this morning when he had to leave for school! The pattern calls for a worsted weight yarn, but I used a slightly heavier aran weight yarn, Rowan Scottish Tweed Aran, in black, with stripes of grey and a denimy blue. Sr. Jr. is very pleased with his hat, but Mr. T worries that he'll be dorky walking around in a hand knit hat. Fie on him. Sr. Jr. was amazed that I knit the hat so quickly.

This is one of the great benefits of having a ginormous decent-sized stash. Someone says "knit me a hat!" and I can, right away, without having to run off to the yarn store or to place an online order and wait. Like spices in the cabinet, it is.

I also started a new sock for myself. I'm using Sundara's sock yarn, in the Sage over Pumpkin colorway. The yarn is gorgeous! Browns, greens and oranges, just perfect for this time of year. I found a great pattern to use with the yarn, Twisted Tweed Socks. It's an easy pattern, but I have some concerns. It involves a lot of slip stitches, which I know from experience can inhibit the natural stretch of the yarn. I knit my Tilting Sunset socks using a similar pattern (of my own design, not such great pictures in the link) and find them to be a bit difficult to get on. Once they're on, they're very comfortable, but I expect I'll have similar problems with these:

I really like how this pattern works with this kind of hand-dyed yarn.

In the meantime, I think the next STR sock club shipment will be here later this week, and I'm also looking forward to getting the Winter issue of Interweave Knits. I expect great things from the latter, but not the former. But Sundara's first sock club shipment arrives sometime in December...

This morning I ventured out to Whole Foods to order our Thanksgiving turkey. Mmmm. I also picked up way too much prepared food for us to munch on today. It's dangerous for me to go there on an empty stomach. So far I don't know if anyone at all is coming over for Thanksgiving, but at least we'll eat well.

Question for the comments: What are your Thanksgiving plans? Home? Travel? Large? Small?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Suburban Weirdness

As Dave Barry would say, I Am Not Making This Up.

Several mornings a week, I find my newspapers on my front stoop instead of at the end of the yard. I especially appreciate this on rainy mornings. At first I wondered whether the delivery guys had developed particularly good aim, but I rejected that pretty quickly. After that, I just assumed that some kind neighbor threw the papers up there occasionally while walking his or her dog. Wrong.

This morning, I went out to get the papers from the end of the yard when I saw a man in a full-on monk's habit -- brown gown, hood, rope belt -- with what looked like a mop with a plastic bag covering the mop head and a slight limp, walking slowly up the street, taking people's newspapers and placing them on their stoops. We exchanged a cheery "good morning," but I was too flabbergasted to talk to him more. I went inside, and he went on his way. I ran upstairs to wake Mr. T to come see this, to make sure that I wasn't hallucinating or anything. I wasn't.

Mr. T pronounced him a nutjob and wanted to call the police. "No," I said, "he's a helpful nutjob. He's not hurting anyone, just doing a random act of kindness."

Still. Strange.

In the meantime, I'm very close to finishing this Simple Knitted Bodice. I'm almost done with sleeve 2, which leaves me with the neckline and some minimal finishing before I can get it blocked.

I have a case of the blahs, knitting and otherwise. Hopefully I'll snap out of it soon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Makes a Mother Proud

We'll get to that story in a minute. First of all, even though there's been only a miniscule amount of knitting this week, I do have a progress picture to show you. I've finished the first sleeve of the Simple Knitted Bodice, and started the second. I'm just starting the lace patterning on the second sleeve. Here's the overly bright flash version:

I remain skeptical about the length of this sweater. I'll be holding my breath until it comes out of its soak and I see how it blocks. In all other ways, I love this sweater. I love the yarn. I adore the color. I'm clearly in a deep red mood these days, because, even with all the time that I spend with this yarn, I still find myself ogling deep red yarns as much as I can. I will have a bunch of this yarn left over when the sweater is done, so I can extend the pleasure by knitting some mittens and/or a hat. But I also need to knit Sr. Jr. a hat, finish my MIL's socks, and go back to drooling over the shawls in Knitted Lace of Estonia...

Local business shout out: A couple of weeks ago, Mr. T gave me some chocolates from Artisan Confections, an artisanal chocolate maker located not far from us on Lee Highway in Arlington. I freely admit to being a chocolate snob. I've been lucky enough to have had some amazing chocolates from all over the world. To me, mediocre chocolate just isn't worth eating. I'd been curious about Artisan Confections for a while, but never managed to go in.

Wow. These chocolates are among the best I've ever tasted. Even flavors that I thought I wouldn't like thrilled me. The flavors and combinations are subtle yet deep at the same time. I quickly ate the four that Mr. T got me, then realized that I had a friend coming in from out of town who would definitely benefit from some gift chocolates, so I had an excuse to go to the shop and get some more. If you're local, check it out. If you're not local, they ship... and the holidays are coming up :)

The Title Story

Yesterday was already going to be a busy day. I had a brunch get-together with the playgroup moms, and a doctor's appointment right afterward (still no cancer!). I left the house early and stayed away almost all day. I pulled into the driveway at 2:30, thinking that it was a good thing that tennis would be rained out. Sr. Jr. would head to a friend's, instead of rushing home for tennis. I had about an hour to have a cup of tea, read the paper, and relax before I'd have to get Jr. Jr. As I was sitting in the car, my phone rang. It was the nurse's office at the elementary school.

Apparently Jr. Jr. and a friend, having nothing better to do at school, were messing around. They decided to take their scissors and cut up their pencil erasers. Jr. Jr.'s friend showed Jr. Jr. how he put pieces of pencil eraser in his ear. So Jr. Jr. decided to get in on the fun.

Yup. My super genius kid got pencil eraser stuck in his ear. So I went straight to school to pick him up and run him over to the doctor's office to have the eraser removed. Luckily, it wasn't in far, so there was no damage and it was removed easily.

I just looked at him and said, "What were you thinking?" "I wasn't," he replied.

We've been calling him Eraserhead ever since.