Thursday, February 26, 2009

I Love My Kindle (Yes, There's Knitting, Too)

First, a health update. Jr. Jr. is back at school, sounding a little congested, but overall much better. Sr. Jr. reports that kids are dropping like flies over at the middle school. I ran into a friend at the supermarket this morning who confirmed that by saying that her 6th grader was just back at school after a bad case of strep. Mr. T's father is back in the hospital, unfortunately. He had a fall in the bathroom last night that opened some of the areas in his lungs that had been healing. The tests so far show that the fall was not caused by a stroke or anything serious, which is good news. He did get to ride in a helicopter, but I don't think he was conscious. Also on the slip-and-fall injury list is BIL Robert, who, woozy on the Nyquil, fell and hit his head last night as well. My poor SIL is beside herself right now, with both her father and her husband in the hospital, while she's got the flu as well. So lots of late-night excitement, but luckily we think everyone will be ok.

Back in the rest of our lives, my Kindle is my new best friend. I love this little gadget passionately already.

I've already got over 20 books and sample chapters loaded up on it. I love the sample chapter feature! Not only can I test out a book to see if I really want to buy/read it, but I can use it as a kind of reminder about books I want to get, but don't necessarily want to pay for or read right now. If I read a review of a book I might like, I can download the first chapter, read it at my leisure, and buy the book whenever I want. Now I don't need all those tiny slips of paper with "to be read" titles that I'm always losing.

Sr. Jr. and I are reading The Graveyard Book together on the Kindle. The screen really does look like ink on paper, so easy to read. Kindle 2 had 11 grey shades, so the illustrations look pretty decent, too. I like that you can change the text size, so I can knit and read at the same time. I love the dictionary feature, which allows you to hover the pointer near a word and the definition will show up at the bottom of the screen. You can highlight text and take notes, too. It's intuitive to use and all the buttons are designed nicely. I think the buttons on the K2 are an improvement over K1, from what I've read. I think this is the start of a beautiful relationship.

[On a side note, I have to say that Sr. Jr. has been an absolute doll lately! This is very welcome after a rough patch back before Christmas that lasted for a month or two. He's been snuggly and helpful. He made us dinner the other night! I know it won't last, but I'm reveling in it for now.]

In knitting news, now that I've finished up the first Baba Jaga kneesock, I've started the second.

It will be a nailbiter waiting to see if my careful weighing gets me two matching knee socks.

I also sewed together the first little seams on my Tilted Duster in preparation for picking up the skirt stitches and knitting down. The pattern calls for knitting the sleeves first, but I haven't decided yet which I want to do next.

Yes, I know I still have the Alpine Frost scarf to work on.

Now that Jr. Jr.'s back in school, there's housework and shopping to catch up on, especially since my brother will be staying with us this weekend. I thought I'd have a nice quiet week to get some knitting done, but it hasn't really worked out that way. Next week is conference time, with two days off for the elementary students, plus appointments that got pushed to next week since I had sick kids home with me this week. Maybe in April I'll get some quality knitting time in, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

I'll leave you with a pretty picture of my Wollmeise, all lined up in a row:

From left to right: Indisch Rot, Terra de Siena, Digitessa, Petit Poison, Brombeere, Poison No. 5, Der Letzte Versuch, Sundig und Verucht (2), and Versuchkaninchen 2.

And finally, sending good thoughts and heal quickly vibes to Sharon's Jacob, who broke his foot and is itching to get better in time to salvage Spring track season.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

By the Skin of My Teeth

Poor Jr. Jr. is sick. Headache, stomachache, fever, a little bit of vomiting. Now I feel kind of ooky too. I hope this doesn't last too long. My brother will be in town this weekend for a conference of some sort, and wants to stay with us to avoid paying for a hotel. I told him there was a foul sickness running through the house, but he doesn't care. On the other hand, I might care, because I may not be up to cleaning and entertaining, you know? We'll see how things go over the next few days.

I finished the first of my Wollmeise knee socks:

That's a stray nerf gun under the chair. Anyway, the socks are made for my size 8 feet and measure about 21 1/2 inches from toe to cast-off. The Wollmeise skein had an extremely generous 156 grams. The first sock?

78 grams. And the remainder of the skein?

78 grams. Whew! I could have decreased a bit more at the top of the sock, just under my knee, too, so if I feel like I'm running low, I can do that on the second sock to conserve yarn. The sock feels so nice and cushy. I can't wait to have a pair to wear.

In other news, Sr. Jr. took the VMLs, a math test consisting of word problems and other hard brain-teaser type questions and got the third-highest score! I'm very proud.

I'm waiting with eager anticipation the arrival of my Kindle. According to the tracking, it arrived at my local UPS depot at 8:30 this morning. It's not listed as "out for delivery" yet. Sometimes they just throw the packages on the truck without doing that, so you don't see the "out for delivery" message until the package has actually been delivered. I'm hoping that's the case now, and the Kindle will arrive today, not tomorrow.

I spent some time picking out books. A couple I bought outright, and with a couple more, I'm availing myself of the "sample the first chapter" option to see whether I'll want to read the books. I also went through some of the free options, picking up a translation of Dante's Divine Comedy, some of Boswell's Life of Johnson, some Thomas Hardy, and a T family favorite, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. I'd like it if I could download the New York Times on an individual basis, rather than subscribing. It might be possible, but I haven't explored that yet. This is going to be fun!

Edited to add -- It's here! It's charging. I'm in love.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon

It's a slow day here. Mr. T has gone off to Cali, to return late tomorrow night. The boys and I are just hanging out. In a bit, we'll head out to pick up some supplies for Sr. Jr.'s science project. Jr. Jr. is supposed to go to Winter Swim later, but he's been coughing and acting a bit under the weather, so I may keep him home, even though he's not running a fever. It snew* this morning, right in time for my traffic duty at the end of the boys' Sunday School session.

Yesterday we saw "Coraline," which was very good. Both Sr. Jr. and I had read the book. Sr. Jr. remembered it a lot better than I did, and could point out all the ways in which the movie differed from the book. We saw the 3D version. I don't think I've really seen a 3D movie in ages. The technology and the glasses sure have come a long way. In this case, the 3D really enhanced the viewing experience. Unlike other movies I've seen, it wasn't used for the sake of being used. The effects were integrated into the movie very well.

Visually, the movie is stunning, but that's to be expected from a Tim Burton film. He has a look that is as readily identifiable as any great master in a museum, doesn't he? Before the movie, they showed a preview for another film of his due out this summer, and within 10 seconds of the start, I knew it was a Tim Burton film, just from the visuals.

[Added edit: Akasha informs me that, contrary to all implications in reviews and elsewhere, Tim Burton was not involved with "Coraline." Credit should absolutely go to those who deserve it, so all the kudos should go to Harry Selick for this beautiful film. (Kinda undermines my idea that a Burton look is as readily identifiable as a great master, huh? Maybe that should be Selick, since he was also the one behind "Nightmare Before Christmas.")]

While "Coraline" is billed as a kid's movie, it is most certainly NOT for younger kids. I was concerned about Jr. Jr. in the movie, but he was fine. One family with younger kids got up and left the theater during some of the scarier/creepier scenes and didn't come back.

Yes, There's a Little Bit of Knitting

I've been using most of my meager knitting time to work on the Wollmeise knee socks. I stop every so often to weigh the remaining skein to see if I'm going to have enough to finish both without ripping back and making them shorter. The original skein was 156 grams, and after knitting to about 5" from where I want the socks to end, I have 102 grams left. Of course, this is the widest part of my leg, with several increase rounds to go. So, approximately 24 g left. I hope this works...

The problem with knee socks is they take so long.

I hope to have some time this week to knit, so I can have something more interesting to show you, but Magic 8 Ball says "Signs point to no."

Ravelers are good people. I know there can be a lot of drama in certain groups, but overall, I've found the people there to be very nice and generous. Two times yesterday, I had people offer to sell me yarn from updates that I had missed. In one case I had the yarn in my cart -- twice! -- only to have paypal prevent me from completing the transaction. A couple of days later, someone PM'd me that she had seen that I wanted the yarn. She had ordered some, but it turned out not to be to her taste. Later that day, after missing yet another Wollmeise update, someone else offered to sell me an extra skein of a colorway I was looking for! Makes me want to pay it forward when I can.

In other happy news, Amazon says it is preparing my Kindle for shipment! I realized that the Kindle will allow me to be able to read and knit at the same time because it is flat. I don't have to worry about flopping pages. I can also adjust the text size so that I can read without my glasses if I need to. And I can get the New York Times on it! This may be the best thing since sliced bread, as far as I'm concerned. Prepare for happy Kindle talk later this week.

* Ever since I was young, I've fervently maintained that the past tense of the verb form of snow should be "snew."

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In Which I Keep My Promises... with Wollmeise

Right now I have my laptop on my lap, down by my knees. In front of the laptop, squishing herself in between the computer and my boobs, is my little cat Gabby. Her paws are all splayed over my right arm, making typing interesting. Between the cat and the computer, I'm very warm.

I told you a short time ago that I managed to snag several skeins of Wollmeise in the update that took place right before my dentist's appointment. Well, they arrived today, earlier than expected. Boy, are they luscious. It's extremely hard to photograph these properly. The deep violet keeps coming out blue, no matter what I do. I tried putting something blue next to the skeins, hoping that the camera would make the purple look purple in contrast to the blue, but it didn't work. So, here we go:

First picture is the colorway Sundig und Verrucht, which means, I believe, Sinful and Profligate:

That bluish color is actually violet. This yarn is unbelievably gorgeous. I'm in love.

Next up is Petit Poison No. 5 (dark version) and Der Letzte Versuch ("the last try"):

The color on that Petit Poison is pretty true, but the Der Letzte Versuch has that blue/purple problem again.

And last, but not least, is Indisch Rot (India Red):

Here they all are together, in an orgy of color brilliance:

Continuing in the theme of Wollmeise, I've turned the heel on my Baba Jaga sock, and am working my way up the leg. I plan to knit these nice and long:

And a better view of the yarn:

I've also been working on the Alpine Frost scarf, but it seems to grow very slowly:

And a better picture of the color:

At this point, I keep getting knocked offline, so I'm going to save this post and put it up quickly.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Treats

Happy Valentine's Day to all, especially to my wonderful husband, the love of my life and my best friend :)

The cookies above were part of a bunch that I made for Jr. Jr.'s class party. Yum.

There was a wee bit of knitting. Wee. I finished the back and both fronts of the top portion of the Tilted Duster, parts of which can be seen here:

The next step is to sew them together, then pick up stitches around the bottom for the skirt portion of the sweater. I also knit a little bit more on the Wollmeise socks:

Not quite to the heel yet, but soon.

The boys have gone off to do some guy stuff, leaving me here alone. I can knit! Yay! I think that I will work on the Alpine Frost scarf, the one thing that I didn't work on yet this week. So, no knitting, but crocheting.

My father in law is out of surgery and seems to be doing well. The news was mixed, but we haven't heard form the oncologist yet, so we're still in a holding pattern as to prognosis or further course of treatment.

And so, after that brief update, I'm off to crochet...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Most Boring Blog in the World

I'm sorry for the lack of interesting posting lately. Unfortunately, there's been a lack of interesting knitting lately. I've done a couple of rounds on the Wollmeise sock and a couple of rows on the Tilted Duster. That's all. Let's see what kind of games I can play to spice things up here:

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

1. Place to be, other than home: Somewhere in the mountains. Give me a trail through the mountains, with some gorgeous views, and I'm a happy girl.

2. Favorite chocolate: Artisan Confections, or, when I'm feeling mass-markety, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

3. Favorite candy: Sweet Tarts.

4. Favorite thing to knit: Uh uh, not gonna go there. That would be like asking me which child is my favorite. I will cop to favoring wool and wool blends over plant fibers.

5. Favorite hot drink: A nice Assam tea (preferably from Upton Tea).

6. Favorite cold drink: Ice water. Nothing better.

7. Favorite food: Too many to list. Probably why I've gained some weight recently.

I'm running out of favorites. I have a hard time choosing one thing over another.

In other news, back on Dec. 1st I finally broke down and ordered myself a Kindle. At that point, they had a backlog of orders, so I was on a waitlist. As time dragged on, I wondered what was going on, especially since the time specified on the website was shorter than I'd already waited. I wondered if the rumored Kindle 2 was what was behind the long wait. When I heard that Amazon had scheduled a press conference for Feb. 9, I thought it would be to announce the new version. And they did! They emailed and said that since I was on the waiting list for the Kindle, I'd automatically get the new version, as soon as it came out. Yay! It doesn't look like they made too many drastic changes. Hopefully, this means it won't be buggy.

My Wollmeise shipped today, too. Last time, it took two weeks to get here from Germany. And the Kindle is due Feb. 25th. This means that I could very well get the Wollmeise and the Kindle on the same day, which just might be too much excitement for me to handle all at once.

On a more heavy-hearted note, my father in law is going in for surgery tomorrow, which will hopefully remove the latest little cancer nodule in his lung. His oncologist originally said that the nodule was not operable because of its location, but his surgeon is going to give it a shot. Apparently radiation is out, because this nodule is so close to the site of his last radiation. Mr. T is going to be with him for the surgery. I know that worrying about his dad is wearing on him.

I do hope to have some more interesting knitting pictures and progress for you soon, but I don't know when that will be, based on the current state of things. But I will take suggestions for blog topics to fill up the void, if anyone has some to share...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Little Bits

That's all I've managed to do. No real concentrated knitting/crocheting has gotten done in a long time, just a row here, a row there, while waiting in the carpool line or at the dentist's.

Here's a picture of the Alpine Frost Scarf, showing how long it's gotten. It's unblocked, so I'm sure it will open up quite a bit when it's done:

The flash didn't want to go off for this picture, so I apologize for the darkness. I've also been working just a little bit on the mystery sweater, which I will now reveal is the Tilted Duster:

For this sweater, you work from just below the bust up to the top, then sew the fronts and backs together and pick up stitches to knit down to the bottom. This is the back, armhole shaping completed, and on the way to the top. I'm using Berocco Peruvia in some red winey color.

I made a little progress on the Anne sock while waiting for kids in various locations:

I also decided that I'd better knit up some of my Wollmeise, just in case I hated it. If I don't like it, then I can destash some of what I bought. If I like it... I wound up my skein of Baba Jaga. Apparently Baba Jaga is a mythical (?) Russian witch. The yarn is very dramatically colored, with black, red and pink. I chose to use it because it's the one, quite honestly, that I like the least. I'm just knitting a plain toe-up sock. There's a HUGE amount of yarn in these 150 gram skeins, so I can knit knee socks if I want. If I love it, then I haven't wasted any of the colors I like more on a plain pattern, and can plan more interesting projects. At first glance, I wasn't sure how I'd like knitting with it. The yarn looks kind of ropy, with lots of thin plies wound together. But it feels a lot softer than it looks and knits up very nicely. It has a good amount of sproing and cushiness. Less wildly colored versions will have gorgeous stitch definition for more complicated stitch patterns. Here's what I've got so far:

This is the washed-out flash version. I took a picture without the flash, which is darker, but I think it shows a bit more of the color variation than the flash photo:

So that's it. Not very exciting, but hey, that's my life.

In the meantime, I found a sweater pattern that I really like. Obviously, it's going to have to wait until the Tilted Duster is done, but it's nice to have something that really interests me for a change. It's called the Apricot Jacket, by Rebecca. I ordered the pattern book. Let's see if I can translate German!

Otherwise, nothing much is going on here at all.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Pleasure and Pain

No pictures today, sorry, but I promise some boffo ones in a week or two :)

This morning I went to the dentist to get my first ever (and hopefully last ever) crown. I'm the wimpiest patient around. Nervous and completely afraid of pain. I haven't had a lot of it, so the anticipation of it is usually a lot worse than the actuality.

Right before I needed to leave the house, the gray screen of death went up at the Wollmeise site, which sometimes means that an update is imminent. I refreshed and refreshed, hoping that I'd be able to catch the update before I had to leave for my appointment.

I finally lucked out, getting some Sundig und Verrucht, some Petit Poison No. 5, some der Letzke Versuch (no picture available), and some Indisch Rot. So, even though I was nervous when I left the house, I was also very happy with my score. And the dental work wasn't bad at all, but then again, the novocaine hasn't completely worn off yet.

I'm moving along with my Alpine Frost Scarf. It looks like it did last time, only about four inches longer, so no photo. I'm enjoying working on this! I hope it stretches a lot when blocked, because it feels like I'm crocheting and crocheting and not getting very far. This is a nice break from knitting.

I've started the sweater I swatched for, but don't have enough done to justify a picture yet, so you'll be in suspense for a little while longer.

I was amused to see in the news that "Joe the Fake Plumber" is now officially advising the Republicans on fiscal policy. Oh, teh stoopid. Between this and the reports that the GOP really does see Sarah Palin as its future, I see a less and less relevant Republican party for a looooong time.

Sr. Jr. is home early today because of teacher meetings, so I'm off to watch some Blackadder with him as a treat.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Going to Extremes?

Not sure if that's the best title for this post. Could be "Bipolar"? Or "Thick and Thin?" "War and Peace"? "Yin and Yang"?

I started off the weekend in a funk. The economic news was depressing, even if we're fine so far. I missed yet another Wollmeise update. I didn't have anything exciting to work on. I had an idea about a sock to knit with the recently un-knit Twisted Tweed Sundara yarn and set about casting on for them. Three times. I got partway through the toe before I decided I didn't really want to do that pattern. Plus, the yarn was looking pretty raggedy, which was harshing my mellow, man.

The yarn that I'd ordered for the Alpine Frost scarf came, and it wasn't entirely what I wanted. What I liked about my last batch of Melosa lace was the tonal shifts in the blues. On the website, the color I ordered (eggplant) looked similar -- dark greyish purple with lighter areas. But the skein I got was a lot more solid than semi-solid. Pffft.

So there I was, feeling very sorry for myself, when I realized that I had to at least do something. I didn't have any other yarn I wanted to use for the Alpine Frost scarf, and I certainly wasn't going to order something else, so I should just suck it up and use what I've got. So I did. I worked on the scarf during the Super Bowl, which ordinarily wouldn't be a smart idea because a) I'm pretty new to crochet; b) it's laceweight yarn; and 3) the game was pretty exciting. But I don't seem to have messed anything up:

It doesn't look as airy as the original, but this is the unblocked view. My yarn may be thicker, too. Doesn't matter: I like it. I'm going to larn me this crochet stuff if it kills me.

I wanted a knitting project, too, so I found a pattern that has possibilities. This is a pattern that I didn't really like when I first saw it, but I like the way it looks on some of the Ravellers who've finished it who seem to be shaped similarly to me. Maybe I'm wrong, I don't know. It looks very good on some people, not so good on others.

The pattern calls for 17 stitches/4 inches on size 10 needles. I haven't knit with size 10 needles in ages! It felt like I was knitting with tree stumps. Alas, I had to go down to size 8s to get a rough estimate of gauge (post-wash).

Still don't know why blogger turns my picture around, and still don't know how to fix it. A swatch! Exciting, isn't it? I'm going to leave you in the dark about the pattern for a little while longer. You know, maintain the suspense, give you a reason to come back, etc. etc.

So I went from utterly depressed and without interesting projects to pleased to have two.

One's on thick needles for a warm sweater, one's a lacy scarf.

One's knit, one's crochet.

Maybe I'm just craft-ADD.