Sunday, March 29, 2009

Moving Along Now

The sun has finally come out! The cherry trees are blooming, and the time is right for a yellow scarf. Mr. T took the boys out to play golf today, so I got to knit, bake scones, and talk to my MIL on the phone (she's chatty).

As a result, the knitting on Ishbel is done, but it isn't blocked yet. This was a fun and fast knit. It would have gone even faster if my week hadn't gotten rather complicated by surprise visits from my brother (he needs babysitting). Here's Ishbel in it's sad, unblocked state:

It looks so small! I can't wait to see it blocked. I hope it's big enough... Apparently, my brother will be back here for two more nights this week, and plans to bring a colleague. More babysitting. Less knitting. Yay!

Now I need to get back to the Fall Sliding socks. I was doing the gusset increases when I got distracted by Ishbel, so here's where they are now:

I really like this pattern. I need to get moving on these, because I'm also doing a sock KAL for the new Cookie A. book. The book is due to arrive Monday, and I need to choose which yarn I'm going to use for the KAL. Here are my choices:

From left to right, all Wollmeise: Terra de Siena, Herzblut, and Frosch. Pros and cons: the Terra is in the same color family as the Smooshy that I'm currently using, but I like it; the Herzblut is kind of bright, but I have four of them to use up; and I love the Frosch and don't know if I want to use it yet. I have a couple of days before the KAL starts, so please vote! Tell me which one I should use.

Finally, remember those two skeins of gorgeous black and purple Sundig und Verrucht lace I posted recently? Now I only have one. I traded one of them for a skein of Poison No. 5 lace, just as gorgeous and dramatic, but brighter:

Ignore the giant cat hair out front. I thought I had removed that, but I guess not.

Now that Spring has sprung, so have my allergies. Even the Claritin isn't helping. In the meantime, this is the last week before Spring Break. The kids are getting pre-vacation fatigue, the laziness that comes in anticipation of some time off. I promised Sr. Jr. I'd bake him a cherry pie if he got all As this quarter, so I need to check the calendar to see when report cards come out. I'm pretty sure he's going to come home demanding pie.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Decision Time

Look! A flower on my plum tree. It must mean that Spring - real Spring, not meteorological Spring - is not far away. Please? It's been so chilly.

I've been slowly working on my Ishbel (linky in last post). If you knit the small size, you're supposed to knit a certain number of repeats of the lace charts, and for the large size, you knit another set of the repeats. I'm considering knitting the larger number of repeats for the smaller scarf. I know! How bold! I haven't made a final decision yet, and I'm at the point where I have to. So here's a couple of pictures of where I'm at, and all three of you can help me decide:

Here's a bit of a close-up:

If I want to end now, I start knitting the border lace. If I want to keep going, I repeat the two charts that got me the border I already have, then start the final border. So, what say you?

A note about this pattern -- It's fun, fast, and easy. I noticed that there are people on Ravelry who have knit more than one or plan to knit more than one, and I can see why. It's pretty, it's versatile, and it looks good in many different yarns. I might knit one using some of my Wollmeise...

In other parts of my life, I've had sick kids (Jr. Jr., minor cold) and sick kitties (the big one, same old anal retentive issues. Literally.)

Here's the little kitty, who thought she'd snuggle up in my armoire. When I left to get the camera, she was squished up in there, looking at me like "You are SO not getting me out of here!" When I got back, she was peering out, wondering why I wasn't grabbing at her:

Luckily her life was spared because she bedded down in the cotton turtlenecks and NOT the handknits.

And the Kitty Fairness Doctrine requires equal time, so here's the anal retentive kitty, snuggled up in the guest room:

And for Kippi, here's a picture of my Wollmeise Lace in Sundig und Verrucht:

Isn't it gorgeous! The one on the left is the dark version, and the one on the right is medium.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Today is officially the first day of Spring. Both boys were prepared for warm weather. Doesn't work that way! At least it's sunny today. Spring brings thoughts of outdoors and rebirth. And yardwork. I called tree people for estimates for getting rid of the giant death-trap tree in our front yard. I called a landscape designer about fixing the horrible mess we made the last time we tried landscaping. Also on the to-call list is a contractor to re-do our front portico. I resealed the granite in our bathroom. Last week I cleaned out some closets and got rid of stuff that we hadn't used in years. I guess it's the Spring cleaning bug.

The other thing Spring brings is a desire to knit something less heavy or dark. The Tilted Duster I'm working on is both, unfortunately, and I have little desire to pick it up right now.

A Spring shawl would be nice, I thought. Something I could wrap around me on crisp Spring evenings at baseball games. Or perhaps a smaller version, a pretty scarf to brighten up my wardrobe. I haven't decided which yet. Luckily, I found a pattern that will work for both. I'll knit until I decide and then either knit some more, or start the lace patterning.

The pattern is Ishbel, by Ysolda Teague. (Non-Rav link here.) The yarn is some of the birthday order yarn from Yarn Chef, the yellowy color named "Afternoon Delight." (Insert bad memories of '70s music here.)

The pattern is nice, because, like Icarus, it starts of with lots of stockinette, but ends up with some very pretty lace. I like Icarus a lot, but always felt that the balance between the lace part and the stockinette part was a little off -- I wanted more lace on the bottom. Ishbel has that.

I cast on using US size 4 needles, which is what I have used for shawls in the past, and got a little way into it before deciding that I wanted a lacier look. So I ripped it out, cast on with 5s, and once again, decided I wanted a lacier look. Now I'm on the third version of this, on 6s. The yarn is a laceweight, it looks similar to other laceweights I've used, but it wants to knit up thicker. I'm not starting over for a fourth time. Hmmm.

Here's where I am, after my third try of the day:

This next picture shows the color a little bit better, but still nowhere near accurate. The yarn is less off-white than the pictures convey; it's a lot more yellow, with daffodil and lemon yellow, and pinky-orange streaks:

I think I'm going to ask for a nicer digital camera for my birthday. I'd like to have this done in time to wear to Maryland Sheep and Wool. I should be able to do that, right? We'll see.

Yesterday the mail brought Interweave Crochet and Spin-Off, so there's some fun fibery reading in my future, too.

Back in the real world, I'm rapidly losing my ability to focus on what's going on here in Washington. Yes, the economy's a mess. Yes, letting AIG pay out ridiculous bonuses with government bailout money was stupid. No, storming AIG's compound and making threats against employees isn't going to help. I'm all for a little populist anger, it's true. I think that sort of passion and focus has been missing from Washington for a long time. But the posturing is ridiculous and diverts everyone from focusing on ways to fix things.

Also, I'm afraid that all the nutjob conspiracy theorists -- you know, the ones who thought Bill Clinton was running drugs out of an Arkansas airport and was really a Russian spy simply because he once visited the country -- have returned. There really are people out there who are convinced that President Obama is some sort of Manchurian candidate, whether it's on behalf of the Muslims or the Socialist/Communists (and none of the conspiracy theorists really have a handle on what those words mean). I just hope this doesn't mean that we'll be back to the days of the well-funded nutjobs trying desperately to link Obama to something unsavory. Ugh.

And a final note to Sharon -- when I was in Artisan Confections the other day, the owner mentioned that they have classes every now and then. Mmmm! Chocolate making classes. Tempted?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


It's a really pretty pre-Spring day here, sunny with mild temperatures, so I decided to take my Wollmeise out for a picnic and get some better pictures than I've been able to so far. So here are a bunch of pictures, including some old skeins and some new skeins. Here they are, in no particular order. Enjoy!

First, the box o' yarn:

Next up, Honigtopfchen (top) and Single Malt (bottom):

Here's Brombeere, my very first Wollmeise skein, from The Loopy Ewe sometime last year:

Digitessa, a gorgeous dark red:

Petit Poison No. 5, dark intensity:

Farn, a new arrival,and appropriate for Spring and St. Patrick's Day:

Here's Rosenrot (rose red):

and Herzblut:

This is Terra de Sienna, I think it's light intensity, but the notation on the label is unclear. A kind Raveler provided me with this one:

Here's Versuchkaninchen II, from Raveler Faith, part of an exchange for some laceweight. I love this color! It looks much better in person than it does on the website:

Another new arrival, Amazonas. Very intense!

Der Letzte Versuch (this one I may trade):

I'm still trying to get a good picture of this one. It's Sundig und Verrucht, and that color with the black is an intense violet. It's not as blue as it looks here, but this is a better picture than last time (some of this in laceweight should be here soon, too):

And finally, two different skeins of Poison No. 5, both medium intensity. The one on the left is from the trade with Faith, and is much more lilacy than the one I just got, on the right, which is more of a fuschia color. I love them both, but I think I prefer the one on the left:

Nice, huh? I still have a little more coming, with blue colorways and the new Ebenholz (ebony). Don't worry, honey, almost done...

So, yesterday was crappy what with the cold and grey and microwave issues. Today it's sunny and nice, Wollmeise arrived, and I picked myself up some more Artisan Confections chocolates (new flavors - Kirsch caramel and coconut caramel, mmm). I prefer days like today :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Moving On

Even though they didn't take that long to knit, the Witchy Knee socks felt like they took up a large chunk of my time. Maybe it's because they took so much longer than typical socks, yet were nothing more than miles and miles of stockinette. Maybe it's because while I was knitting them, I wasn't knitting on anything else. Who knows? Either way, going back to old projects and starting new ones seems like an awakening of sorts.

I added a few extra rows to the Alpine Frost scarf. I can't work on this for too long. The crochet movement is less relaxing to me than knitting. In addition, I have to pay more attention to what I'm doing, because the next stitch isn't just waiting there for me, I have to find it, and make sure I'm crocheting in the right stitch, in order for the pattern to work out. So it's not mindless. It's easy, yes, but not in the same way that knitting is, for me. Maybe it will be someday, because there are already a couple of crochet patterns in my queue.

After a short bit of contemplation, I decided to knit the Tilted Duster's sleeves first, rather than the skirt. I might like to lengthen that bottom portion of the sweater a little bit, and if the sleeves are done already, I'll have a better idea of how much yarn I have left to play with. So, here's a sleevelet:

I also started a new sock. It's the Summer Sliding sock, and I'm using Dream in Color's Smooshy in the Chinatown Apple colorway:

And another view:

I thought today was going to be a nice, easy day, but so far, not. I almost killed the microwave this morning, just by cleaning it! It's one of those microwaves that's built in over our cooktop, with a venting sytem. It gets greasy, so I was cleaning off the top, when I apparently got some water down into the electronic control panel. First the display went fritzy, then the stupid thing kept trying to turn itself on for a cook time of 5 minutes! It didn't like me pressing cancel or leaving the door open to keep it from turning on, so it starting making nasty beeps at me. Finally, I put a quart sized measuring cup in there with water and let it cook for 5 minutes. Now it's fine. I hope.

Blogger's also giving me fits right now. I started this post on my laptop, but every time I tried to post a picture, it would kick me offline. So now I'm at the study computer.

I'm sure I had a lot more to say, and many opinions to opine, but I'm frustrated and have things to do! So I bid you adieu until next time...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Quiet Week So Far

No snow days. No doctor's appointments. No teacher conferences. I've been relaxing, cleaning, organizing, catching up on stuff that needed to get done.

In the meantime, I finished the Witchy Knee Socks:

They're definitely kind of wacky looking, but they are SO comfortable. That photo angle makes my legs look fat and stumpy, huh? It's hard to take pictures of your own legs. I like working with Wollmeise a lot. The yarn will do wonderful things with textured stitch patterns, plus I've seen some beautiful colorwork done with it, as well. Although it feels kind of ropy in the skein, it's soft to knit with. I haven't washed it yet, so I can't comment on how much it softens up. Stay tuned.

Here's how much I had left of the skein when I finished the socks:

Now I get to go back to work on the Tilted Duster and the Alpine Frost scarf.

Sitting here watching Bernie Madoff plead guilty, and hearing about record numbers of layoffs. I'm hearing more and more tales of layoffs from Ravelers, too. I am lucky to count myself and my family among the fortunate, and have to send much appreciation to my husband, who works so hard and is so conservative about money :)

Baseball practice starts this weekend! Only one of my kids is playing this year, so that should make life less hectic.

That's it for today, short and sweet. More to come.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Yarny Incidents, Good and Bad

You take the good, you take the bad....

We'll start with the bad. There was a bit of a kitty incident with the yarn for the Alpine Frost scarf. I guess that the cat wanted to bring it to me, because while the scarf itself was on the couch, the yarn was across the room. This is, in itself, not a bad thing, except that the cat somehow managed to screw up the ball of yarn so that it was now in two separate but attached sections. I tried to crochet through it, but the yarn was not flowing easily, and I could tell more difficult times lie ahead. So I attempted to rewind the yarn into a single ball. Ugh. The yarn is a pretty hairy, loosely spun singles yarn. It likes to stick to itself. I ended up with a snarl. After desnarling, the yarn had weakened in a couple of spots and it broke. I hate the idea of having to weave in more than two ends (for the cast on and cast off) in a simple scarf, but that looks like what I'm going to have to do. This is my first crochet project, too, so I'm not an expert in weaving in yarns in this arena. It is a learning process, after all. Here's what I've got:

And the longer view, so you can see how much I've done along with my little balls of yarn:

It's a grey day today. I'm having a hard time with pictures. It's light enough that the flash doesn't come on, but dark enough that pictures don't look very good. I'm too lazy, it being a Sunday and the clocks springing (more like trudging) forward, to haul out lights and create ideal photographic conditions, so this is what you get.

I've been working mostly on my knee socks, because they're a nice, mindless stockinette, which makes it easy to knit and stalk Wollmeise at the same time.

They're pretty funky looking, especially where the calf increases start messing up the color pattern, but they are so comfortable. Too bad sock wearing season is almost over!

On to our good yarny incidents. Yesterday, the second Sundara Sock Club shipment arrived, with beautiful colors to cheer me up:

On the left is crushed cherries, a deep, rich tonal combo of reds; in the middle is sour apple; on the left is viola, violets, of course. On the left, peeking into the frame, a kitty paw. Here's another photo, from farther away, but slightly better light:


The final good yarny incidents come to us courtesy of Wollmeise. My dentist turns out to be my lucky charm -- this is the second time in a row that Wollmeise updates have not only come on days I have appointments, but I've also managed to score a bunch. In Thursday's big update I got some Herzblut, some Rosenrot, Single Malt, Farn, Amazonas, Honigtopfchen, and Poison No. 5. There will be some great sock knitting with those (plus, I think there might be a sweater in there, too.)

But wait! There's more! as Billy Mays and his ilk might say. After the big Thursday update, there was a smaller "easter egg hunt" on Friday, in which individual colors are put up and you have to hunt around for things. None of what was put up on Friday was on any of my wishlists, so I passed. I was good. All that was left on my wishlist was lace, and a few more sock colors, mainly in the blue range, with a few others thrown in.

After the easter egg hunt, someone asked Claudia if she was all done for the week, and her response was "no comment." Hmmm. After two days of sock updates, what more could there be? Lace, I was hoping.

Saturday morning, there it was. Some new lace! Remember the Sundig und Verrucht sock yarn I got last time, the dramatic black and violet? That was one of her new lace yarns. I snagged two, one in the medium, and one in dark. There were a few other new and old lace colors up, but none of them were on my wishlist. She also put up a couple of new sock colors, a semi-solid fuschia and a navy, both of which I passed on. At this point, I can afford to pass them up, plus, I'm limiting myself to specific colors that I want.

So wait for some lovely yarn pron pictures in about two to two and half weeks.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

What We've Been Doing While I'm Not Knitting

Major headache today, so probably not a very coherent blog post ahead.

Snow! Always fun. The boys went sledding and had a ball.

Sr. Jr. is working on his science fair project, which requires a lot of parental oversight:

So far, the experiment is going well. We have ten test cups and one control (just distilled water). There are definite differences in those cups. (Confidentiality maintained until experiment is done, per Sr. Jr.'s instructions.)

Baking -- mmmm, scones. These are my regionally-famous cinnamon scones. I freeze them and warm them up in the mornings for breakfast. Not very healthy, but yum.

There has been a little bit of knitting going on. I've turned the heel on my second knee sock. It'll be a loooong way up the leg, but when they're done, they'll be really comfy.

This was yet another week where I had very little time to knit. Tomorrow and Friday are parent-teacher conference days, so tomorrow is early release (plus a dentist appointment), and Friday the elementary school is not in session.

I feel like I've not been able to be very productive this school year. Hopefully that will change soon, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

Meanwhile, I've found a crochet garment that I like. Look for that if I ever get through the stuff I'm working on now. It will be my first crochet garment... I hope I can do this.

A year ago today, it was 72 degrees here. Sigh.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Snow Day!

Ah, snow in Washington. Everything comes to a complete stop. It started snowing yesterday afternoon, but began in earnest after dinner. By this morning, there was a good 5 inches or so on the ground. School's closed, of course. Mr. T is even working from home today.

The boys got up early, of course, and had a lot of the shoveling done before 9 am. Then it was off to make forts and try to have a snowball fight.

Later, they walked down to the library/quasi-school around the corner because it has the good sledding hill. Now, the quasi-school is under construction, so most of the area is fenced off, but there's still decent sledding, they said, as long as you stop before the fence.

Now they're home, pink-cheeked and begging for hot chocolate. These are the best times to be a kid!

My brother is here for the weekend. He was showing clips of his coal documentary downtown last night, and today is filming protests near the capitol. Brrr. Now, my brother will be 40 in three weeks, but he's very much an overgrown adolescent. The man has never managed to internalize the concept of "call if you're going to be late," so we've spent much of our time this weekend sitting around and waiting for him to show up from various places.

He didn't get home from his panel last night until 1 am, and I, like a nervous mother, couldn't sleep until I heard the little alarm chimes that let me know he'd come into the house.

We had an interesting little experience with Sr. Jr. last night, too. Before my brother got home, SJ walked into our room whispering about something. We finally got him to speak up, and he said something about "taking off the wood." ??? Guess he was just sleepwalking and wanted to tell us something. I wonder what his dream was about?

Snow + freeloading relatives = no knitting, however. I wish I could show you something, but it'll have to wait.