Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Frustration

For this first time this week, I had no errands to run, no appointments to keep, no laundry to do. I was looking forward to a nice day of relaxing and knitting. Yesterday I finished the first Kieler Sprotte sock and cast on for the second.

See? First sock, nice and comfy:

After a few rows of knitting this morning, I looked more closely at sock-in-progress and realized that I'd made a mistake in the pattern about 9 rows back. It was very obvious, too. So I spent my power-knitting day tinking.

This is all I've got on sock 2 so far:

All that extra yarn? That's from ripping back. Clearly, I haven't even managed to get back to where I was when I found the mistake.

And it's not like I'll have much knitting time this weekend. There's baseball tomorrow morning, a bike race for Mr. T Sunday morning, work for Mr. T tomorrow, and then Sunday Mr. T leaves town for a business trip.

On a non-knitting note: my vote for idiot of the month? Former Congressman Tom Tancredo, for comparing the group La Raza to the KKK.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Monday, May 25, 2009

How Does Our Garden Grow?

It seems like it was a slow week. I know it wasn't, however. Knitting-wise, it was slow, but there was a lot of other stuff going on. I came home from Arizona with some kind of bug, and spent most of the week not feeling my best. I am almost to the toe of the Kieler Sprotte socks, as you can see:

Here's another view, with the heel. The pattern called for the heel to be done on 35 stitches, which seemed big for me, so I did it on 33. For this weight of yarn, I normally do the heel over 30 stitches. This is a bit deep for me, but not excessively so.

I love these socks so far. Aside from how totally cool they look, they're very smooshy and warm because of the stranding. This is a sock that could easily be done in different colors for a man's sock, too.

In other goings-on, we've been working on raising our veggies in anticipation of the nice big raised bed that will go in our backyard soon. So far, we're doing well, with some purple-leaf sage:

A nice herb pot, with cilantro, regular basil and the most delicious smelling lemon basil (in the background on the right is the thyme and the curry plant (smells heavenly):

We've got two different kinds of lettuces, and seeds for more when the bed goes in:

Tomato plants, too, of course - grape tomatoes and campari tomatoes, already flowering:

We started cucumber and pole beans from seed, and they're sprouting nicely:

We also planted some red onion seeds earlier this weekend, but it's too soon for those to sprout. Our favorite so far is the brocolli. Yummmm:

Here's our little garden, waiting for its new home:

Yesterday we went to the Nats/Os game at Nationals Stadium. The stadium is normally pretty easy to get to, but the annual Memorial Day Rolling Thunder takeover meant that many of the roads we would take were closed. Grrrr. It was hot, and I still wasn't feeling well, so unfortunately we had to leave early. But it was jersey day for the kids, so the boys got Ryan Zimmerman jerseys :)

Sr. Jr. is trying to earn up enough money to buy himself an iPod Touch. He put signs up in the neighborhood advertising "J___'s mowing service" and offering to mow lawns for $10. He got his first call this weekend! Today we walked up a few blocks with mower, trimmer, and extension cord in tow and he earned his first $10. He did a great job, and I'm really proud of him. I think they're going to have him back next week, too. Not bad for an almost-12 year old, eh?

Monday, May 18, 2009

It's a Dry Heat, My Ass

Over the weekend, we Ts went to Scottsdale, Arizona for my cousin's son's bar mitzvah. This is my mother's side of the family, most of whom moved from New Jersey to Arizona and New Mexico a while ago. I haven't seen the aunts and uncles since my father's wedding a year and a half ago, some of the cousins since my mother's shivah, and others since my own wedding, 15 years ago. When I was growing up, we saw each other a lot more frequently, so it was nice to catch up and meet kids, etc. Everyone's doing really well and looking good.

(John McCain was on our flight out.)

We only had a few hours of non-family time, so we managed to get only one hike in, up Pinnacle Peak. It was hot. 105 degrees in full son is hot, humidity or no. In the shade, it's a lot nicer, true. This is where the lack of humidity helps. But when you're in the full-on sun, with no chance of
shade, it's hot.

I'd never been to that part of the country before, and it's really pretty. I loved looking at the different kinds of cacti and plants. It's weird to see a city where there should be desert. It seems unnatural. In fact, the Santa Fe relatives and the Scottsdale relatives were talking about the fight over water out west. Sante Fe has far more water restrictions in place to try to control consumption, but Arizona does not.

A brotherly story: Sr. Jr. and Jr. Jr. sat with me on the plane out there. Jr. Jr. was by the window, Sr. Jr. in the middle, and I was on the aisle. At one point, Jr. Jr. began humming something classical. Sr. Jr. was getting annoyed, which, of course, only made Jr. Jr. do it more. Sr. Jr. kept saying "Mom, he's humming classical music! It's so annoying! Make him stop." I thought it was kind of nice and told SJ to just relax and ignore his brother. By this point, SJ was frustrated to the point of tears by his brother's humming. And just what was it that Jr. Jr. was humming? "Ode to Joy."

So here are some pics from the weekend. First, the hiking pictures:

And now one of us all dressed up:

There was no knitting. I didn't even bring it with me. Now Jr. Jr. is home sick, and there's still no knitting. I will have more knitting to show you someday.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

For Mother's Day, we all went for a hike up to Great Falls. It was the first beautiful day in months and months, so the park was very crowded. It didn't help that so many people decided to pay the $5 entry fee by credit card, leading to a line of cars at least a mile long waiting to get into the park. (The line to get in was even longer on our way out.) Here are some random pictures, some with notes, some without.

Here's a point where everyone goes to look at the falls, and you can look across the river to see people on the Maryland side doing the same:

The falls were raging because of all the rain we've had in the last month and a half:

Sr. Jr.:

A snake we saw:

Another snake we saw:

Jr. Jr.:

Mother's Day would have been a little nicer except that my brother spent the night last night. He called at 9 pm to say that he'd be arriving after midnight. I had things I wanted to do in the morning that didn't involve being a hostess, and he wasn't exactly taking hints that he should head home. We finally ate lunch, put on sunscreen, got our water bottles, and hustled him out the door as we were leaving to go hiking.

I hope all the mothers reading this had a great Mother's Day. I'll be back with some knitting content later this week :)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Stupid Knitter Tricks

I've been knitting for almost 20 years now. I've done just about every kind of knitting there is, from lace, to cables, to intarsia, to complex fair isle with steeks, sweaters, scarves, socks, you name it. One of the problems with having that much knitting experience is that it sometimes leads to a little hubris.

I really should learn that the thought "Oh, heck, I can do that without even thinking too much about it" often leads to "Oh, crap, why didn't I actually pay attention to what the pattern says instead of thinking I know it all?"

In this case, it's my Kieler Sprotte socks. In my defense, the pattern is written in German, a language I do not speak beyond a working knowledge of Wollmeise's color names. The sock is charted, so I thought I could basically go from the chart and figure out the rest. Cuff -- single color. Easy. I don't like K1tbl, P1 ribbing, so I'll change it to K2P2. No problem. Chart -- easy to follow. Continue chart until you're ready to do the heel, then do a short row heel. Ha! Child's play.

So that's what I did. I cast on 60 stitches, did my K2P2 cuff, started the colorwork chart, being careful to knit at a slightly looser than normal tension, because colorwork reduces elasticity and I wanted to be able to get these socks on over my ankles.

Every now and then I tried the sock on. It was a bit snug. Required a bit of tugging and maneuvering to get on, but it went on. I continued knitting. This is a fun pattern to knit, a 10 stitch repeat over 4 rows. I got to the point where I thought I wanted to stop for the heel turn and tried it on again.

Ugh. It went on, but it was a struggle. And while I like my socks snug, with negative ease, I don't want to have to fight to get them on. What was I doing wrong? I was knitting pretty loosely. I didn't want to have to go up a needle size, because I was afraid the socks would fall apart after two wearings. I wondered if I should add another repeat.

I asked on Ravelry, where people have knit this and other colorwork socks. How many stitches are you using in your sock? one person responded, Because I just knit the sock as written and didn't have a problem with it.

As I was thinking that I was knitting on the customary 60 stitches, which is what the pattern told me to cast on, I thought I ought to look at the pattern again. Even though it's in German, I could clearly see that the stitch count listed for the colorwork part was higher than the number of stitches for the cuff. By 10 stitches. One repeat. Duh.

So I ripped the whole thing out and have started again. This is what it looks like:

Only with 10 more stitches.

Sigh. I haven't really gotten far enough yet to be able to try them on and see if these modifications work.

Yarn Show and Tell

I promised I'd show you some recent yarn acquisitions, so here we go. First up is Numma Numma's the Usual, in the Pie, Please colorway, received in a Ravelry trade:

The base of this yarn is very similar to the Wollmeise base. I love the color, too.

Here's more Ravelry yarn, from vampy, who dyes gorgeous yarn and rovings and sells them in her etsy store:

Finally (for today) is some more Yarn Chef:

On top is "Goth Girl," self-striping sock yarn. In the middle is "Grape Hyacinth," also a self-striping sock yarn. On the bottom is "Artemis," in cashmere lace. Yum.

My Mother's Day present to myself was catching the latest Wollmeise update in the wee hours of the morning. Claudia had lots of new colors and some old favorites, so it was a very nice Mother's Day treat, indeed.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

MD Sheep and Wool, in the Theme of Green

Yesterday morning, grey and early, L and I scooted off to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Last year it was bright and sunny, and L and I had a great time and bought lots of stuff. This year was grey and rainy, and neither L nor I was in a particularly spendy mood. We wanted to go for fun, obviously, and to see what there was to be seen, and in my case, to meet up with a bunch of people from the Wollmeise groups over on Ravelry.

On the drive up, we saw one of those classic church signs: "Stop, drop, and roll won't work in Hell."

We saw adorable little goats. I really wanted to take one home with me:

We went into the tent that had all the prize entries, where I spied the Rainey Sisters, justifiably proud that the gorgeous Bohus sweater featured on their blog won Best in Show :) I love looking at all the prize entries, seeing everyone's beautiful work and amazing creativity, like the following great entries:

These felted vases (?) were really beautiful in person, but look kinda blobby in my pics. There were some great felted cuties, too:

There was a wall hanging made to look sort of like a stained glass window that was gorgeous but I forgot to get a picture. Unfortunately, a lot of the shawls were not displayed so that you could actually see what they looked like, so I don't have pictures of the knitted objects.

For the most part, I didn't buy that much. My purchases may even have been evenly split between yarn/fiber and non-knitty things. I got a couple of skeins of Malabrigo sock, because I haven't tried that yet:

The skein on the left is lettuce, the one on the right is a multi with just a number.

I also got some laceweight from Spirit Trail Fiberworks:

And some more sock yarn from Creatively Dyed:

The skein on the top is her Tradewinds base, which is remarkably similar to the Wollmeise 80/20 base:

Don't know if you can see it that well in the photo, but it's very similar looking. I don't know when I'll get around to knitting with this, but when I do, I'll report back.

I did get some alpaca fiber to spin, too. It's been combed but very minimally processed. Opening the bag lets out quite the barnyard smell :)

In non-yarny purchases, I got this great little decorative piece from Bershire Basketry. They had some gorgeous baskets, which I don't need, but I really liked this little snowflake:

No picture, but I got a great moisturizer from Rose Spring Farm. It's made with goat's milk and is the only completely non-greasy hand lotion I've ever experienced. I can use it and knit without having to wash my hands first.

I got some fresh, locally made raspberry honey and honey almond soap from a local Virginia booth. There's no info on the receipt and I didn't get a card, so I can't direct you to them :(

My favorite purchase of the day was a jacket. It's going to replace my shoddy old green barn jacket. It's hand woven and felted, with a contrasting fabric lining the edges, hood, and cuffs, with a matching scarf. It's a great loden green. I'm kicking myself for throwing away the bag I had it in, because there are no tags on the jacket, thus I have no way of giving this beautiful artisan credit for her work. She had a number of different jackets, in different colors and different contrasting fabrics. I could have bought three or four of these, that's how nice they all were. Anyway, here's a crappy picture:

And a closer-up view:

Finally, after all that shopping, L and I went over to the Rabbit building to meet up with the Wollmeise crew. There was quite a nice turnout, with Tanya and her lovely mother, Sewwhatsports, Kurokids, Catspawlace, knittingleftie, susies22, smurfie, LadyinLotus, decadentdelusion and LeeMiller, knitandknag... I'm sure I'm forgetting someone, so please forgive me! Anna (knitandknag) was wearing her Mystic Roses shawl, which was unbelieveably beautiful in person. Susan (decadentdelusion) was wearing her Mitternacht Clapotis and Catspawlace was wearing hers in Paul. Mary Ann (knittingleftie) looks amazing in pink -- now I know why she was so hot to get her hands on WM's fuchsia.

I was getting great reports from Lyn (LadyinLotus) about Sanguine Gryphon's retreat... so jealous! I hope we see lots of pictures from that soon.

We all ate bagels that Mary Ann brought from NY and chocolate that I brought from exotic Arlington. Everyone was really great; I just wished we had more time to hang out.

The gang's (almost) all here:

In the back, left to right: Tanya, Smurfie, and LadyInLotus. In the front, right to left: LeeMiller, decadentdelusion, Sewwhatsports, and Susies22. More pictures with more of us are in the Wollmeiseaholics Anonymous group on Ravelry.

This year the festival seemed a little bit smaller and less-attended than last year. The lower attendance could have been a function of the economy or the weather, or both. That's not to say that the place was empty by any means. The line at the Fold for Socks that Rock was as long as ever, and the buildings were certainly crowded. It did seem that there were fewer vendors, however.

I hope (fervently) that Sanguine Gryphon manages to make it in as a vendor next year.

And when I got home, there was more yarn -- some Madeline Tosh sock yarn that I ordered earlier this week:

This is very nice sock yarn... very nice. I particularly like the skein of Spice, on the left.

Coming soon... Yarn Chef and Vampy, oh my!