Friday, October 24, 2008

Determined Cat

It turns out that the cat CAN get that giant yarn ball up the stairs. Maybe she thinks I want to knit in bed?

I finished the Plum Lotus scarf, but I haven't blocked it yet.

I didn't make it very long, because it's going to be an accessory scarf, as opposed to a "keep warm in winter" scarf. It will also lengthen a bit in blocking. I hope to have time to block it this weekend. It doesn't have any obvious places for blocking wires to go, so I may have to resort to using thousands of pins. Fun.

I also started the Simple Knitted Bodice. So far, so good, although I haven't gotten very far yet:

I'm modifying it slightly, to make the v neck shorter. I don't like my v necks that deep. I always feel like deep-v sweaters are falling off my shoulders, like with my Autumn Rose. The knitting is going smoothly so far.

I'm going through knitting magazine withdrawal right now. Other than Vogue's Holiday edition, there hasn't been a new knitting mag in a while. I'd love to have a new one about now. I wonder when the Winter editions come out?

It's cold enough for sweaters now, so I'm wearing my Gathered Pullover today. It's very comfortable. Alas, I am all dressed up with no place to go. I wanted to go out to lunch today, but all my friends were either sick, with toddlers, or had other plans. Hmph.

Tonight is the big Halloween/Harvest event at the local elementary school. It's always a lot of fun. This will be the first year that I'm not helping out in any sort of volunteer capacity. We can just go and have fun. I'll try to remember the camera, but don't count on it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I'm only two or three repeats away from finishing the Plum Lotus scarf, which means, naturally, that I'm planning my next project. So far, I've settled on the Simple Knitted Bodice that I mentioned in my last post. I like this sweater a lot -- it's pretty without being fussy, simple but not too simple, fashionable and more classic at the same time.

I've got some Dream in Color Classy in the In Vino Veritas color in stash that I hope will work for this:

One picture with flash, one without. I used the same color for my Deco Socks a while back. I love the richness and depth of the color. Classy comes in huge 4 ounce hanks, so that yarn ball is quite large. Mr. T took one look at it and said, "I'd like to see the cat get that up the stairs! Hey! You should wrap something heavy, like a baseball, with yarn and see whether she can get it upstairs."

Anyway, I swatched it on 7s and got gauge, but it felt kind of tight. After washing, it definitely softened and loosened up, to the point where gauge was no longer in sight:

I swatched again this afternoon on 6s, washed it, laid it out, measured, and... got gauge. It felt tight in the knitting, so I'm waiting for the swatch to dry to see if it will have the right drape for the sweater. Getting gauge is nice, but not if the fabric is going to feel like drywall. I guess I'll have to wait until tomorrow for that final answer. Even if the post-washing fabric is fine, I'm not sure whether knitting this sweater in this yarn will be that pleasant an experience. We'll see. I think the final product is nice enough to take the risk.

Because of our busy schedules, we've been pretty lax about getting our Halloween decorations up this year. Sr. Jr. took matters into his own hands this weekend. Here's the big picture view:

A close up of the fencing:

The front lightpole:

And the weird, "Blair Witch Project" installation on the front lawn:

We got a stencil of the Obama logo, so our pumpkins will be political this year. We don't have any yard signs, but I think the pumpkins will be cute.

Both boys have friends over this afternoon, so I have to go keep my house from being destroyed...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Scenes From a Monday Morning

6:00 am: My alarm goes off. Yuck. Also, the battery on a nearby smoke detector is going, so that adds another beep to the cacophony.

6:05 am: I stumble off toward the bathroom to take a shower. On the way, I step on something soft and squishy. Oh. Yarn.

Usually, when the cat brings me yarn, she makes all sorts of funny, chittery meowy sounds. I don't remember hearing any of those last night, so perhaps this is just a random re-placement.

6:06 am: It's not.

I don't quite understand the yarn transit thing. Does the cat want to bring me a gift she knows I'll like? Does she think the yarn is prey that needs to be subdued? Is she just messing with my mind? (That's not out of the question with cats.)

6:30 am: Attempt to get Sr. Jr. out of bed.

6:35 am: Attempt to get Sr. Jr. out of bed.

6:40 am: Final attempt to get Sr. Jr. out of bed.

7:20 am: Jr. Jr. is up and eating breakfast. Sr. Jr. is getting ready to leave for school. "It's very cold out this morning," I say. "Wear a jacket." "I don't care! No jacket!" says Sr. Jr., and dashes out of the house.

7:25 am: I go upstairs and discover that it's actually only 38 degrees F out. I call Sr. Jr.'s cell phone and make fun of him for not wearing his jacket. "I don't care! No Jacket!" he says.

7:30 am: Mr. T is still in bed, sleepy. "I hate this time of year," he says. "It's so cold and so hard to get out of bed."

7:31 am: Ponder smothering Mr. T.


I continued working on the scarf this weekend while watching the Redskins win (yay!). I'd say I'm about 2/3 of the way through this. Now I'm just grinding it out to get it done, and starting to ponder what to knit next. I'm very tempted by the Stefanie Japel's Simple Knitted Bodice. But part of me craves a really rustic yarn and some more cables, even though I just did both in the Back to School vest. I'll have to ponder some more.

Colin Powell Is My New Hero

Yesterday, Colin Powell endorsed Barack Obama. His endorsement was eloquent, rational, and heartfelt. It expressed, in calm, measured tones, everything that many of us have been saying and thinking for a while now. He addressed the McCain campaign's negativity, and ridiculed the notion that jiggering the tax code constitutes "socialism." His words were even more powerful because of his long history with the Republican Party, the military, and the Bush administration. I was really moved by his endorsement and the explanations.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Quick Check In

Sorry for the paucity of posts, but I've been sick this week. I'm feeling a little better so far today, so I'll try to sneak this in now, in case I start to feel worse.

I was supposed to go on another of those around Arlington bike rides today. I'd planned to bring my camera with me, to get some shots of just how beautiful this area is at this time of year. Fall on the Potomac is just unbelieveably beautiful (well, so is Spring). Hopefully I'll be able to do it next week.

Of course, there hasn't been too much knitting while nauseated, so what I have doesn't look too much different from what I've already shown you:

Same thing, just a little longer. Here's the moody, backlit shot:

I mailed my MIL the first pair of little socklets, and she loves them! Says they fit perfectly, and have just the right amount of roll and height to fit with her shoes. So I'm forging ahead with the next pair:

I admit that I'm getting a little bored with the scarf. That's the problem with scarves -- they're long and repetitive. The good thing about scarves, especially lace scarves, is that they can be quick. So I'm starting to yearn for some other knitting, but I haven't felt well enough to do anything about it.

My brother dropped in unexpectedly earlier this week. He and his new girlfriend are in the area for a conference, so they stopped by here on their way down. They met us at the baseball game Tuesday night and watched Sr. Jr. fire off some great hits. The next morning, I got up at 6 am, as usual, and got the kids off to school. At 9:30, the two of them wandered downstairs, wondering where everyone was. Ah, life without kids. The new girlfriend is really nice. Apparently, her mother is a knitter/spinner/weaver. Too bad New Girlfriend is doomed. My brother is going to be 40 this year, and he's got a real thing about commitment. He's quite capable of making a commitment, up to a point. He's had some really amazing girlfriends, intelligent, capable, beautiful, but he's just not the type to be able to settle down and have kids, at least not any time in the foreseeable future. He'll also never ever leave New York City. So when New Girlfriend, who lives in California, started talking about how she liked New York, and could definitely see living in Brooklyn for a few years, but not necessarily to raise children, I could see the writing on the wall.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Another Monday

Ah, Monday. Even though it's a Federal holiday, the kids have school today. Instead of getting today off, they have Election Day off. I'm not thrilled about having to drag them along to vote, especially since the lines will likely be very long.

A while back, my brother emailed me that he and his new girlfriend would be in the area in November, and asked if they could stay with us. I checked my calendar and it seemed ok. This morning, he emailed me to say that he'd gotten the month wrong. They'll be here tomorrow. Now, that's an entirely different matter. By November, all the sports have ended, so we're not running around all the time. Tomorrow happens to be one of those busy days, with both tennis AND baseball, and very little time in between. Great. Not what I had in mind for this week.

I've been doing some work on the Plum Lotus scarf, but not as much as I'd like. Here are some lousy pictures to give you an idea of how far I've gotten:

Election Babble

By all accounts, McCain's hopes for winning this election are slipping away fast. He is way down in the polls, not just nationally, but in key battleground states. Obama appears to be poised to win several states that haven't voted Democratic in years, including Virginia (yay!). Last week, he decided that the way to deal with his position was to "take the gloves off." He and Palin unleashed the low-down dirty attacks, the insinuations and innuendo that played on racist fears and hatreds. Obama "doesn't think like us," he "pals around with terrorists," etc. They did not flinch or hesitate when people in their audiences or on their behalf tried to paint Obama as a scary Muslim, a non-citizen, anti-American. Audiences at McCain/Palin rallies shouted racial epithets at news cameramen and death threats against Obama. They were beginning to look like lynch mobs.

Many people objected to this line of campaigning, including such respected figures as David Gergen. McCain said he would try to tone it down, and he did, somewhat, by telling a woman at one of his rallies who said she wouldn't vote for Obama because he was an Arab "No, no, he's a decent family man." (Arabs can't be decent family men?) Crowds booed him when he tried to show respect.

Rep. John Lewis, himself a respected veteran of the civil rights movement, whom McCain called one of his heroes back at the Saddleback Forum, called McCain on his campaign's actions, saying that crowds were getting riled up in much the same way that crowds listening to George Wallace used to get riled up.

This got McCain's dander up, and he declared that the OBAMA campaign was out of line (never mind that Rep. Lewis's comments were his own, and not on behalf of the campaign), beyond the pale, horrible, etc. and demanded that Obama denounce and reject the comments, etc. etc.

In other words, "How dare you infer what we're implying!"

One minute he swears he's going to run a campaign on the issues, while the next minute his campaign officials are releasing yet another smear. He's acting like a bully who's finally not getting his way.

McCain's really painted himself into a corner here. He's either responsible for the direction his campaign has taken, or he's lost control of it completely. Either way, it's reprehensible. I suspect he wants to play it both ways, declaring that he will take the honorable role ("I'm not a bad person"), while letting others do the dirty work ("but my opponent is! Did you know...") He's playing to the wingnuts and alienating virtually everyone else. Congressional candidates are avoiding him. He's plummeting in the polls.

If he turns around and tries to take the high road, he looks erratic and desperate. If he stays the course, he runs the risk of not only losing, but losing dishonorably. He also runs the risk of being responsible for letting loose some crazies, validating their hatreds and making them feel that it's imperative to act on those hatreds. No matter what he does, I'm not sure that he can get the worms back into the can.

Meanwhile, Obama is just sailing along, maintaining his dignity and speaking to the issues. How he maintains his cool in the face of the crap that's flung at him, I don't know.

McCain has pledged to hit at Obama hard in their final debate. He said that last time, too, but didn't seem to come out fighting.

I really can't wait for this election to be over. Three more weeks.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Wait Is Over, with Debate Chat

OK, I'm not sure that anyone was really waiting for the big reveal, but I'm gonna give it to ya anyway, you betcha (wink). Here's what I'm knitting now:

Here's a bit of a close-up:

This is the Plum Lotus scarf, by Bad Cat designs (Rav link). I'm using Knitpicks Shadow in the Juniper color. This is meant to be a quick scarf, an accessory rather than a winter necessity. The pattern goes pretty quickly, and although there's patterning on both knit and purl rows, it's easy to do.

I know I just got a whole bunch of gorgeous laceweight from Yarn Chef, but I'm waiting for the right project for that yarn. Do you do that too -- "save" yarn for a special project, as if it's too good for something more ordinary?

OK. Debate Talk

I did, indeed, watch the debate last night. I was somewhat pleasantly surprised that McCain wasn't going as negative as he had indicated he would. That's not to say that I liked what I saw and heard from him, but at least he didn't sink as low as he was ready to go. How sad is that when I can be happy he didn't sink lower than he did?

McCain's whole demeanor was one of condescending impatience. It was as if he thought he was entitled to be President, obviously, so why did he have to go through all of this nonsense to try to convince people to vote for him? He's John McCain, dammit, a maverick! How dare we question him. When he was answering questions, the tone of his voice sounded like he was trying to explain things to kindergarteners. "You probably hadn't heard of Freddie Mac before a few weeks ago?" WTF? If I had been the guy who had asked that question, I'd be supremely insulted.

He also seemed, at times, to be channeling both Bush and Palin, vocally. At one point, I noticed that he was dropping his gs, a la Palin, and Mr. T cruised by at one point and asked why he was imitating Bush's raspy, breathy vocal style. Maybe he thought it was less aggressive. Other commentators said it made him sound old. I just think it made him sound false.

By the way, his grand new plan to have the government buy up mortgages on devalued houses and renegotiate terms with the owners isn't new or unique to him; a version of it is actually part of the bailout (oops, I mean rescue) plan.

He was moving oddly too, jerking around the stage and stalking around, even when Obama was talking. Was it nerves? Age? Anger? He clearly doesn't like Obama, not even bothering to hide it out of respect or some sense of propriety.

I thought Obama seemed calm, cool, and collected, again. For the most part, he answered the questions, seemed to connect with the questioner, and offered specifics, as opposed to McCain's "I can do this, I can do that" approach to answering. When McCain was speaking, he appeared to be listening respectfully. There was one question where I could see that he was grasping for an answer, kind of fumbling along (I'm not sure which question it was, perhaps the question about healthcare being a commodity). Otherwise, he seemed on target. His answer to the question about sacrifice was spot on, and resonated well with the audience.

But seriously, what kind of asshole is John McCain to refuse to shake Obama's hand after the debate? Is that the kind of man we want as President. Not me, no way, no how.

Last, but not least, shame on John McCain, for the depths his campaign is sinking to, in inciting so much hatred and racism that people at his rallies call Obama a terrorist and threaten to kill him. (The Secret Service is investigating.) And McCain's reaction is a fake wince and a satisfied smile, because he's getting just the reaction he wants, without having to utter a word of his own.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Sneak Peeks

Not much going on here today. I spent the day cleaning, including attacking the grout in my shower with a toothbrush. Fun times. We motored off to baseball, only have Sr. Jr. take ill after we got there, so we're back home now. In the spirit of found time, I offer you a sneak peek:

First, I've started the second pair of socklets for my mother-in-law:

I got through the heel turn, but haven't started the gusset yet. I also did this:

Or, for another view (and an attempt to capture the color):

The fact that I have picked a yarn and wound it into a ball can only mean one thing, right? I wonder what it will be?

We will be watching the debate tonight, I think. This one's pivotal. It's a town-hall style debate, which McCain favors and usually does well at, BUT, audiences at town-hall debates generally do NOT like negative attacks. Given that McCain has already stated that he will be going (more) negative on Obama, he could end up shooting himself in the foot.

It's no secret that I'm not supporting McCain, but I used to respect him. I lost a lot of respect for him over the last eight years, watching him kowtow to Bush and throw aside his principles for political gain. But I have never been so ashamed of him as I have been this week, as his campaign has sunk to horrendous depths, playing on racism and fear that characterize not the lowest common denominator, but the depths way below that. It's cheap, it's dirty, and hopefully, it will backfire.

In the meantime, one of my new favorite places on these here tubes is 538. It appeals to my political passion and the geekiest of my geek tendencies. And they're predicting a big Obama win. What's not to like?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

In My Alternate Universe

24 + 24 > 50

Who knew?

After I finished my first little socklet for my mother-in-law, I weighed it in order to know whether I would have enough yarn to finish the second one. I had one 50 gram ball of Regia Silk, so as long as the first one was under 25 grams, I should be ok. Luckily, the first weighed 24 grams. I did not leave excessively long tails when casting on or after completing the toe, so theoretically, I should have had enough to finish the pair.


As you can see, I am a very little bit short. Just how much?

Ever so close. *Sigh* But wait! I knew I had some of this yarn in my own personal stash, so I went off digging to find it, only to find that, of course, I have different colors. In the meantime, I weighed the other two balls that I had gotten for my MIL. One color, "coal," was indeed only 48 grams. The other, "linen," was 50 grams. Interestingly enough, I have linen in stash, so if that one had come up short, I'd have been ok. And no, I don't have coal in stash. *Another sigh*

So I took myself back to Knit Happens to get some more yarn. I wasn't too pleased at having to buy a $10 ball of yarn just to knit something like 5 rows, either. I'm sure I could have appealed to someone on Ravelry to send me some leftovers, but who knows how long that would take? Knit Happens had more of the white, but no more coal. I got a lighter shade of grey to use on the toes of the coal socks.

When I got home, I whipped out the new ball of white (I got two, so at least I could make myself a pair of socks out of this fiasco), held it up to the sock to finish the toe, and.... different dye lots. Very different dye lots. The new white was a much whiter white than the old white, even though they have the same name:

If you look closely at the toe, you can see that it's a little bit brighter than the rest of the sock, but it's so subtle that I don't think anyone will really notice. The socks will be in shoes most of the time, after all.

I still haven't decided what to knit next. I haven't even really had time to think about it. Any recommendations?

Any thoughts on the debate or McCain's decision to go negative (or rather, more negative) for the rest of the campaign?

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Knitwear Weather

... has finally arrived. Today I'm wearing the Back to School vest and some handknit socks. I feel very comfy :)

I finished the first footie sock for my MIL and started the second. Here's a picture of the completed one:

This is made with Regia Silk, and it's lovely to wear. I'm trying to get one pair of footies out of one 50 gram ball. I think I'll make it, although I haven't weighed the first one to see how much yarn I used. The Regia Silk makes a very luxurious feeling sock, warm and soft. I have some of my own in the stash, from a long time ago. I'll have to break it out and make a pair of socks for myself.

I've been holding off on starting a new big project in anticipation of the publication and delivery of Nancy Bush's Knitted Lace of Estonia, thinking that I would surely fall in love with something in the book and want to cast on right away. It was originally due to be delivered 10/3, but I just got a notice from Amazon that it's been delayed until November. So now I need to find something to knit...

I had a lovely morning tea with a friend. She's one of the playgroup moms, but she's the other non-Republican in the bunch. She was pleased with the "no politics" rule. Today she complained that she had mistakenly gotten into a political discussions with two of the other moms, and it had left her pretty perplexed and upset. I told her that this was exactly why I had instituted the rule -- I like my friends, and I want it to stay that way. It was nice to catch up with her. She has four kids, including a 2 year old and a preschooler, and spends most of the summer traveling and visiting family, so it's been a while since we had a chance to catch up.

The question for tonight is: watch or avoid the Vice Presidential debate? Nothing they say is going to change my mind about how I'm voting. I've seen Palin's interviews with Katie Couric and Charles Gibson, finding them extremely painful to watch. I don't know if I can watch the debate without a lot of screaming and throwing things at the television. I certainly won't be able to watch the post-debate spin without wanting to commit mass murder, that I can say for sure. So -- watch or not?