Friday, January 29, 2010

When It Rains, It Pours

Remember back during December when I said that I was looking forward to January, because the kids were going back to school and there wasn't much going on so I could get a lot of knitting done? I shouldn't have been so stupid as to dare the universe that way.

First I got sick, that horrible seasick flu I wrote about. That kept me on the couch, too nauseous and dizzy to knit, for a week. Then, just when I was beginning to feel better, poor Jr. Jr. woke up vomiting -- on his birthday, no less. He spent the first four days of this week at home. He wasn't terribly sick after that first day, but sick enough to stay home. I'm counting the minutes until I hear that Sr. Jr. is sick, too. At least the trial that Mr. T was supposed to have last week and this week was postponed. I couldn't have made it through that week of being sick if he'd been gone.

So here I am. I used what little free knitting time I had to finish up the body knitting on Pas de Valse. Last night I finished the two ends of the neck/shawl extension, and feeling rather lazy, I connected them with a 3-needle bind-off. And immediately hated the big, giant seam down the middle. So after I finally got both children off to school this morning for the first time in ages, I sat down, unpicked the bind off, and kitchenered the two halves together. Aaaah. Much better. No giant ugly seam down the middle of the back of the neck:

Now all I have to do is add the sleeves. This will be a new sleeve method for me. You pick up stitches all around the armhole, then knit your way down, going back and forth using short rows, until you've knit all the way around and can continue down in the round. Sounds great, and I can't wait to try it. Getting started, however, will require some concentrated quiet time, and who knows when that will happen.

In the meantime, I will try to finish up the Dark Isle socks.


We're all up in arms here because a convicted pedophile has moved in up the street from us. We haven't entirely figured out what he was convicted of, but we know there was solicitation of a minor under the age of 13 over the internet, and then there was another charge involving a child under the age of 6. I counted up all the kids on my block alone, and there are over 30 kids under the age of 18. There are two bus stops near this guys house, a school with parks where ball games are played, a rec center with a part where ball games are played, a private school, regular parks, and a public library. This is Kid Central. As you can imagine, we're all up in arms about what we can do. I was just beginning to get comfortable with letting my kids wander the neighborhood a little. I send Sr. Jr. to the library by himself, and have him run up to the CVS for stuff when necessary. Jr. Jr. is still confined to our block, but he wanders up and down to play with different kids.

I no longer feel comfortable doing that, and I'm mourning the loss of my safe haven.

The guy had been living with his wife in a different part of Virginia, but came here to live with his mother after being in jail for a year, and probably losing his job. We've learned that his mother also owns a house out in the country somewhere. I would love to see him go out there, where he won't be surrounded by so many kids. I supposed that the authorities would prefer to have him here where he can be monitored, but my concern is with keeping my neighborhood and my kids safe.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sea Legs

I can finally say that I'm not seasick anymore. Whatever that flu was that I had, it was annoying. I wasn't terribly sick, but I was constantly dizzy, almost seasick. If I moved my head, I got dizzy. Knitting made me dizzy. When I closed my eyes, I had the spins. I hate being too sick to knit. After almost a week, I could knit again, so I finished up one front of the Pas de Valse and started the other:

I need to finish up the second front and the back. Then I join the shoulders, finish that shawl extension, and knit on the sleeves. At the rate I'm going, I'll finish by March. Maybe.

As I mentioned in my last post, the Completely Pointless and Arbitrary Swap group (my main hangout on Ravelry) ran a week-long series of auctions to benefit the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. This wasn't something that was planned; it just sort of happened. It started off and snowballed, with yarns, shawls, and other goodies donated not just by group members, but also by some of our favorite indie yarn dyers like Claudia (Wollmeise), Allen (Numma Numma), Gryphon (Sanguine Gryphon), and Stephanie (Rainy Days & Wooly Dogs - Gothsocks). In the end, after a lot of hard work by our mods and fierce bidding by a lot of very determined yarn hos, we raised over $22,700! I'm in awe of everyone's generosity. There are still people who want to donate, so the auctions may continue after a short break to allow our mods to regain their sanity.

I was also lucky enough to manage to order four skeins of laceweight yarn at a Wollmeise update a couple of weeks ago, and the yarn finally arrived yesterday. For my future knitting pleasure I have Maus Jung:

My Old Blue Jeans:

Magnolie (dark version):

and Baristo (also dark version):

There's a lot of good knitting there :)

In the Reading Report, after I finished Wolf Hall, I read a newer book, A Friend of the Family, by Lauren Grodstein. It started out ok. I wasn't sure, but I kept going. It kept getting better, though, serving up a couple of big gut punches at the end. I finished it very late one night (sick + insomnia = no fun) and I had to start something else to take the edge of the emotional ending of the book. So on a whim I decided to re-read Jane Eyre. I can't remember the last time I read Jane Eyre, but I'm really enjoying it once again. I remember loving Middlemarch when I read it in college, but it was definitely a slog when I picked it up again this summer. Not so with Jane Eyre. It's as fresh and readable as I remember.

Last, but not least, tomorrow is Jr. Jr.'s 9th birthday. He's doing great, but this is making me feel old. After this year, there's only two more years of elementary school! Sigh. Tonight we're all going to see the Caps game to celebrate. I doubt we'll be on tv, but I'm wearing my brick red Nantucket jacket...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I'm too sick to come up with a creative title

Flu, yuck. I've been feeling kind of off for a few days and yesterday I realized that I was coming down with something. This morning I woke up feeling like utter crap. And Mr. T, love him though I do, is absolute shite at taking care of me when I'm sick.

But I do have some fun things to tell/show you.

First up is a most wonderful gift :) As long as I've been knitting, no one has knit FOR me. Until now. Miss Kippi of the comments knit me a pair of gorgeous socks using one of my favorite yarns (Sanguine Gryphon's Skinny Bugga, a cashmere blend sock yarn) and favorite colors (Faithful Beauty):

Aren't they fantastic? They fit perfectly and they're amazing to wear. Apparently she was trying very surreptitiously to find out what size my feet were and dense me didn't get it. A truly lovely gift, one that warms my cold, dark heart.

More fun stuff, too. Light pink Wollmeise. A color not found in the usual universe of intense, vibrant Wollmeise colors. Talented Helena of Midnight Sheep offered to take my skein of natural Wollmeise and dye it a light, shaded pink:

It's perfect! Someday I will break down and get a lightbox so I can get really good pictures that show all the subtlety and detail of the yarns and the knitting. I feel like the pictures I take don't really represent their full beauty.

I'm still waiting for my most recent Wollmeise lace order to arrive... those will be amazing.

Over in the Completely Pointless and Arbitrary Swap group on Ravelry, we've been conducting auctions with the proceeds going to international relief organizations to benefit the earthquake victims in Haiti. Everyone has been amazingly generous, both in their donations of yarn and finished works and in their bidding (someone bid $500 for three skeins of yarn!). As of this morning, we've raised over $6,500 for international relief organizations.

But wait! There's more! Claudia (the Wollmeise) herself has offered up two items. One is a skein of lace in a colorway a lot of people want. Good. The other is a chance to get your very own personally dyed custom skein of laceweight yarn. Wow. Her auction will take place between 11 am and 5 pm this afternoon, and I expect it will raise over $1000 on its own. It's gonna get crazy in there.

Numma Numma has also offered several skeins of her yarn in favorite colorways to go up for auction. In addition, Sheri at The Loopy Ewe has offered to auction off a package of three yarns from her sock club this year, limited edition colorways of Wollmeise, Numma Numma, and Sanguine Gryphon.

I'm so proud of the outpouring of generosity here and all across Ravelry. The need in Haiti is both deep and broad.

Knitting? Not much. I'm still plugging away on Pas de Valse. I'm soooo close to splitting the sweater up at the armholes, but I haven't felt well enough to get more than a couple of rows in. Hopefully soon I'll have some interesting pictures to show you.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Back to Monday

Here we are again, back at Monday. The laundry is laundering; the grocery shopping is done; the bills are paid. Another week ahead of me, ahh.

Mr. T finally arrived back home Saturday afternoon, tired and overworked. But, since Sunday was a nice sunny day (if a bit frigid), it gave us an opportunity to take some modeling shots of Miralda's Triangular Shawl, in between his working some more and our going to Nordstrom's to get him a new suit:

I really enjoyed working with the Wollmeise lace yarn. It's a good thing, too, because I was lucky enough to catch Thursday night's update and get four more skeins :)

Jr. Jr. had his first "official" basketball game on Friday night. His team, the Raptors, was playing the same team they scrimmaged against before the holidays, so there was a bit of a grudge match going on. This time the Raptors played so well! There was a lot of teamwork, passing to each other and moving the ball around. The ended up winning something like 27 to 12. A lot of the kids scored, including Jr. Jr., who scored once and made one out of two free throws. So there were some happy Raptors this weekend :)

I finished reading Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin. It was a very quiet, almost meditative book about a young woman who comes of age over the time she leaves her family in Ireland to start a new life in Brooklyn. A quick but enjoyable read.

I've started reading A Friend of the Family, by Lauren Grodstein. So far it's ok. I'm not too far into it, so it's hard to say yet how I will like it. The writing is good and it keeps me reading, but I'm waiting to see whether plot, characterization, etc. keep up.

Mr. T leaves again this weekend, perhaps for two whole weeks. Not fun for me or for the boys (or for him, for that matter), but that's life in the big city.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I got all casty-offy yesterday and finished off two (2) objects. First up is the little one, my travelling sock.

This is the sock I knit while waiting for the kids at doctor's appointments, piano lessons, in carpool lanes, etc. It's Rainy Days and Wooly Dogs' OhMyGoth! Sock yarn, her cashmere blend. It's fabulous yarn - strong and soft at the same time. A joy to knit and I'm sure, to wear. I did cast on for the toe of sock #2 yesterday, too.

But my big FO, the first big FO of 2010, is Miralda's Triangular Shawl, from Knitted Lace of Estonia, by Nancy Bush:

I used less than half a skein of Wollmeise lace. I knit it on size 4 US needles, but I think it would also have looked good if I had gone up to size 5s. The pattern is clear and easy to follow, with fun and interesting stitches that hold your interest without being so challenging that I had to focus all my concentration on it.

Here are some close-up pictures:

The comments on this shawl on Ravelry showed that the shawl as written was smaller than a lot of people expected, so I upsized it. I added 40 stitches to the cast on, which was enough for one extra diamond motif repeat on each side. Luckily for me, since I was kind of doing this by the seat of my pants, all the numbers worked out well and I didn't have to re-jigger anything much.

So... back to my sweater!

Monday, January 4, 2010

What I Did Over My Winter Break, By Loren T

This is about 5/7 of Miralda's Triangular Shawl, from Nancy Bush's Estonian Lace book. I was secretly hoping that I'd finish it, so I could just up an blog a blocked and beautiful shawl, but we all know life doesn't really work like that, right? Here are some badly photographed close-ups:

Nothing compares to washed and blocked lace. Nothing.

The yarn is Wollmeise's lace yarn in Sabrina, a very green teal yarn. I really like working with the yarn. It's not too thick or too thin, and it produces very crisp lace motifs. Now I want more of it.

The shawl itself is fun to knit: challenging, but not too challenging. The different motifs are fun and contain some interesting stitches. Since you start this shawl at its longest point, the beginning rows seem to take forever, but each subsequent row is shorter than the last, so it starts to move quickly. Definitely a pleasing project.

I hope to finish it soon and get back to sweater knitting. I need some nice sweaters!

Our unexpectedly long winter break was nice. I'm much happier sleeping in a bit. We relaxed and didn't do anything too interesting.

Sr. Jr. and I cooked together from the cookbook I got him for Chanukah - Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs. Don't let the dorky title fool you! This book is full of great recipes for anyone, not just teens. The focus is on fresh, healthy ingredients, without making the cooking too complicated. The first night we cooked we made Carrot-Ginger Tomato soup and Wasabi-Lime Salmon. Yum! Both recipes were delicious and extremely healthy.

Right now, Sr. Jr. is in the kitchen chopping tomatoes, garlic, and basil for another recipe from the book. My secret plan to develop a personal chef seems to be working ;)

In reading news, I finished Wolf Hall, which I enjoyed quite a bit. It personalized history, filled in the daily detail and emotions that are missing from the history books. I started to read Jasper Fforde's new book, Shades of Grey, but couldn't quite get into it. So I started reading Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin, and immediately fell into it. I'm not at all far into the book, but I can't wait to continue.

And my outrage of the day? Brit Hume on Faux News, telling Tiger Woods that to overcome his current scandal, he should convert from Buddhism to Christianity. As if no Christians have sex scandals! Beyond that, though, is the sheer arrogance of telling someone that converting to a new religion will make it all better and the complete lack of journalistic ethics or integrity involved. (But this is Faux, so it's already been established that "journalistic ethics or integrity" are not required for employment.) I'd call on the network to fire him, but I'm sure this is exactly why they hired him. And exactly why they have no credibility whatsoever.