Saturday, December 29, 2007

Post-Christmas Knitting Update

I believe it may have been Franklin Habit who said, "blogging over the holidays is a pain in the ass," a sentiment that I'm sure many knit-bloggers share.  So if it seemed like the knitting content of the posts went down a little bit, or I became desperate enough to show you images of yarn oddments from my early knitting days, well...I had my reasons.  Because unlike Mr. Habit, I am not clever enough to create holiday knitting mad libs!  So, at long last, may I present:

Like the last flowered hat I did, the flower is actually a pin that can be removed:

I made this as a Christmas present for my mother after she admired mine.  So she knew she was getting a hat, and what the design was, but not the specifics of the colors.  And for a couple weeks, neither did I!

I already had a bit of oatmeal colored yarn left over from something else, and I very carefully selected two different skeins of Lamb's Pride yarn - one for the main color, and one for the contrast stripe and flower.  I ordered the yarn online, from a location which shall remain Nameless, and really believed I was giving myself plenty of time.  (That last phrase has been the downfall of legions of holiday knitters) However, I had never ordered from Nameless before, and was unaware that they tend to take a leeeeetle bit longer than others to ship.  So as the days went by, and my yarn did not arrive, I started to get a leeeeetle twitchy! I was particularly frustrated on the day of the Open House at the Inn on Mt. Ada because that was a clear 3-4 hours of potential holiday knitting time that went to waste for lack of yarn to begin the project.

With nightmarish visions of knitting into the wee hours of December 24th, I came up with Plan B.  I casually asked my mother if she still had the leftover bits of Lamb's Pride from the socks she had made me a year or so earlier.  (It was a really great denim blue color, and she wears jeans much more than she used to.)  She did, and handed it off to me.  So when I went overtown to take my Art History final exam, I tucked the other bits of yarn into my bag and included a trip to the Slipt Stitch in El Segundo just to select another skein of yarn for the main color.  (Because of course they didn't have that yarn in the colors I had ordered from Nameless, that would just take all the freakin' challenge out of it - and we can't have that, can we?)  Obviously I found something that went well with the blue and the oatmeal, and a really nice shell button for the flower that picks up all the colors.  I was so happy to finally get started on the project I cast on and knit the first few rows on the boat on the way home!

The yarn from Nameless showed up about a week later.  (Sigh).  And now I have a couple skeins of Lamb's Pride in my stash looking for a purpose!  I don't think I want to crank out another one of these hats right away, the pattern needs a little work first.  But there's a couple other hat patterns I've been looking at like the Beaufort Hat, and the 3 A.M. Cable Hat, ohh, and then I've been wanting to try the Calorimetry, and there's an Irish Hiking wristwarmer pattern that looks interesting, and someone on Ravelry suggested a knitalong of Carissa Browning's Cable Fingerless Mitts, and...and...and...oh yeah blogging about my knitting - I remember this!

Thursday, December 27, 2007


I woke up early this morning with a sensation that can best be described as wearing a crown of icicles. Okay, that's not so unusual. It does get cold at night here. But the iciness continued from the top of my head all the way down to my toes - and this is a sign that something is not right. My bestest buddy throughout the winter months is my heated mattress pad. It ensures that no matter how freakin' cold it gets, as the wind whistles past my bed, as long as I stay under the covers - I am warm and okay. But this morning - I shivered and shook beneath the blankets - something was not right.

My first assumption, based on the high winds that whipped up the night before, was that we had a power outage in my area of town. This is not uncommon here, and generally gets handled fairly quickly. But a quick glance at my neighbor's houses made it obvious that the problem was mine, and mine alone. So in the wee hours of the a.m. I staggered outside to the electrical panel (modeling my fetching new Christmas pajamas) and spent several fruitless minutes flipping breakers and cursing.

Despite my best efforts and willingness to become a plaid flannel popsicle, it required a visit from our local utility company to get the juice back on, and it took a few hours after that to get the my frozen blood flowing again.

Okay - so maybe this a payback for the warm sunny days I had earlier this week. But I suspect that people living in the midwest, Canada, and other areas think that life in Southern California is always warm and sunny, even in winter. I'll admit that the mercury seldom drops as far here, and it certainly doesn't snow, but it's actually relative.

When I lived on the mainland (even in sunny SoCal!) we had this thing, ohhh what's the word.....oh yeah....HEAT! Even the cruddiest little studio I ever rented (in an even cruddier neighborhood) had a small gas heater on the wall in the main room, and most also had those little electric coil heaters in the bathroom.

There's also this other nifty invention - insulation. (No, not that kind. Being a stick person, I haven't got any of that.) As in the stuff inside your walls that keeps the cold out and the warm in during winter, and the opposite during summer. But my house, along with many of the other old properties in town, was only built to be a vacation home with lots of windows to throw open during the summer months and thin, insubstantial walls. (Think I'm kidding? If I'm not careful I can pound in a nail and the point will show outside!) It really wasn't built for year 'round occupancy. So the cold outside is not far off from the cold inside.

And is there a point to my rambling on about this? Other than my apparent need to vent about my craptastic morning? No, not really. I admit I live in a corner of the world that other people envy. And when things that are specific to this place crop up and make life less than comfortable, we often use the phrase, "price you pay for living in paradise". On good days we even mean it! But I often wish that the people who vacation here, had just a little better understanding of the place they are visiting, and the people who call it home.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A near perfect Christmas

Allrighty now - one holiday down, one to go! Something about having Christmas and New Year's so close together bothers me. Like somehow, if they were spaced further apart - I might enjoy them more? I dunno, I could be wrong, it's just a theory.

I had, what for me anyway, amounts to a damn near perfect Christmas. Stayed up late on Christmas Eve futzing around with my blog, surfing the internet and roaming the halls of Ravelry. ('Bout a 100 other ravelers in the U.S. were keeping me company.) Slept in as late as I wanted on Christmas Day, eventually emerging from my humble abode to spend a couple hours studying outside in the sunlight (oh joy, Santa brought me a Santa Ana!), and then spent the remainder of the day lazily chatting, munching, sipping wine, and opening prezzies.

On that last item, I must have been much nicer this year, 'cause I seriously scored! Warm pajamas, cute stitch markers, a coveted knitting book, and a special seasonal appearance from The Sock Fairy.

The WHAT fairy, you ask? The Sock Fairy of course! No, I don't mean the critter that lives in your dryer, swiping the occasional sock and leaving you with a pile of odd socks that can never be matched up again. Or the gremlin that creeps into your dresser drawers, mixing, mingling, and stirring up the contents so you end up walking out the door wearing one navy sock and one black sock. (Oh, like you never?)

The Sock Fairy is that beloved knitter in your life who actually enjoys wrangling ridiculously thin strands of assorted fibers around toothpick sized, dangerously pointy needles to create lovely, colorful, warm knitted goodness, and then...after all their hard work...they bestow their creations on others!

And to you who are reading this that have NOT worn hand-knitted socks and are wondering what the h-e-double-hockey-sticks is the big deal? Dude, you have no idea what you are missing! Hand knit socks fit and feel like nothing else, the priciest store bought socks just can't compare. Go find yourself a Sock Fairy! (But get your own - I ain't sharing mine!)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Those 8 tiny reindeer...

Get to take a few breaks you know! (Union rules - it's part of the collective bargaining agreement.)

So once in a while, the Big Guy has to find alternate transportation, and around here rumor has it he just loves seaplanes.

Wherever, whenever, whatever - have a happy one!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Wristy & Hat Updates

My first pair of wristys are coming along nicely:

The yarn I'm using is Plymouth Boku and I really like the colors and the way they transition. Since I have very thin wrists I decided to make this first pair longer than most people might, so I could actually get the full range of colors available in the yarn. At this point I'm less than 2 inches from the end of the wristy, but there's still more new color to go!

The pattern I'm using is very basic and doesn't have a thumb, just a hole. But I like the ones I've seen that have a bit of thumb on them so I took some scrap yarn and another pattern and started teaching myself how to put in a thumb gusset, etc. (Would this be a good time to mention that I have never knitted mittens and have no idea what I'm doing?) So far I have this:

Yes, the whole gusset area is fairly ugly. In the interests of getting to the important parts as quickly as possible I skipped some of the plain rows in between the increases. And that bit of red stuff is the waste yarn holding some of the stitches that (supposedly) will become the thumb. Perhaps tomorrow, when I am feeling strong and sufficiently caffeinated, I will be ready for that challenge.

And you probably thought I was kidding when I said I might do this, but I have cast on another hat:

It's Cathy's Homespun Rolled Edge Chemo Cap pattern. And since I discovered some Homespun lurking in the stash along with the fun & sparkly stuff I thought I'd give it a try. It's a very basic pattern and if it works out the way I think (and hope) it will, I've got an idea for some variations that will help burn through more of the stash.

Well, I'm about to done and ready to end this post, so here's an end of the day Saturday Sky!

Friday, December 21, 2007

De-Stashing: The 3 Step Plan

I've been thinking about my stash. Among the many positive effects of Ravelry was the process of actually dragging my stash out from it's various hiding places under the bed, under the chairs, in the closet...errr....never mind. And even when I think I've dragged it all out to face the harsh light of the day, I still get the occasional surprise. Like this little gerbil that popped out the other day:

The first Christmas after learning to knit, I remember using some Fun Fur double stranded with Homespun, or maybe a Boucle, to make scarves for a few friends, co-workers, and a charity auction. And I'm sure I haven't touched Fun Fur since then, so this must be a leftover from that time. I really had no intension of revisiting that particular phase of my knitting so I have no idea what I'd do with it. I also found this interesting specimen:

Nope, no ball band to be found, it's nekkid as the day it was born. Where did I buy it? No freaking idea. So what the heck is it? Again, no freaking idea. But it's colorful. And it's sparkly! (What, that doesn't excite you? Me either.)

I know in a previous post I wrote about the kind of yarn I purchased when I first started knitting, and why, and other thoughts on the subject. But now as my knitting skills have improved, my interests have changed (for the better) and there are so many wonderful yarns that I want to try. But I just can't justify buying more yarn with all the old yarn lurking unused in the stash. Add that to my plans to attend Stitches West in February (the yarn market - oh gods!) and well...I'm in a bit of a quandary.

After much thought I believe I may have come up with a solution, and it can be summed up as a 3 step process:

Step 1 - Go thru all stash, loved, unloved, and everything in between. Anything that has relevance to a particular work in progress goes into a clearly labeled project bag. Anything that is intended to be a future project will also go into a clearly labeled project bag. All project bags will have the details of the project and any other supplies needed. Any knitting urges between now and Stitches West will be fulfilled by something in these project bags.

Step 2 - Any yarn that cannot be assigned to a current or future project will be stuffed into a USPS mailing box, and once full, will be labeled and sent to Interim House, a drug and alcohol residential and outpatient program in Philadelphia. They have a very successful knitting program and are happy to accept donations. (Thanks to Brenda Dayne for sharing the info on this program).

Step 3 - Use Ravelry's queue and other functions to prepare an updated wish list of specific yarns, tools, patterns of interest - sort of a shopping list. This last item is to exert some control over spending during the Stitches marketplace, so that I do not become overwhelmed and possibly blow money on things that I really won't ever use. (Flashback to the Yarnlady's annual bag sale.)

So that's The Plan (with a capital T and P) and it seems do-able. (Is that a word?) And other than buying the required supplies for the two classes I'm taking at Stitches, The Plan should prevent me from spending any money on knitting in the next two months, alleviate my guilt at all the "fun" novelty yarn going unused, and make room for new arrivals at the end of February.

Think it'll work? I'll get back to you in a few weeks and let you know how it's going!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Some knittin' goin' on

Despite the lack of knitting content in my recent posts, there has in fact, been some knittin' goin' on. It just took a while to get this figured out (AKA "the design phase") and now I have a new hat:

And the part that makes me very happy and feel very clever, is that the rosette is actually removable:

At the last minute I had what I interpret as a stroke of brilliance, and instead of sewing the knitted rosette to the hat, I sewed a pin backing onto it and then pinned it to the hat. (Pin backings left over from making faire favors in ye olde ren faire days - huzzah!) So the rosette can be taken off the hat ('cause sometime you feel flowery and sometimes you don't) and even attached to something else, like a sweater or purse or whatever floats your boat.

And in the interests of keeping all my little bits warm, the yarn that arrived last week was ordered with the intent to knit wristys. (Or wristwarmers, handwarmers, gauntlets, again - whatever floats your boat.) And after some time struggling to close the gap in my knitting knowledge that was how-to-join-a-round-on-double-pointed-needles, I've got a decent start on my first one:

It reminds me very much of what it looks like when someone is starting the cuff of a sock. And I expect it'll go on looking very sock-like for quite a while, up until the point where the thumb starts! What it also has in common with a sock is being very small and portable and I've already bumped it down into a smaller project baggie. (Thoughtfully provided by the folks who taught us that yellow and blue make green.) And like a sock, it will also need a mate. (Unlike me, apparently.) Since the bulk of this particular wristy pattern is just round and round of 2x2 ribbing, I expect that there will be need to be at least one more knitting project in progress at the same time to entertain me.

Ooooo - maybe I'll go cast on a hat!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Blogkeeping Notes

Okay just a quickie tonight, and sorry - no pics.  I'm trying to do a little blog housekeeping (is there a word for that? blogkeeping maybe?) and get caught up on things I thought of doing but never had time during the month of November.  (And you know better than to ask why, right?)

I found another blog ring to join, Academics Knit. (Logan, you might be interested in this one.)  I had planned to add a few buttons (Yes, I am turning into a bit of a button slut - sue me. Better yet, make me a button for it. ) for things I have done, such as the Knitting Olympics, or things that are ongoing, such as the Mother's Day Project.  But I noticed that area is getting a little crowded so I'll try to rearrange that, probably standardize the button sizes and put the rings in a separate section. 

I've got a few other tweaks and additions to make to the decor - and if my response was timely enough, if I made it into the happy hundred, that'll even include Ravelry progress bars! 

So now I'm going to do something truly unique and special - get off the frackin' computer and knit.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Learning to learn?

Okay, I might as well get this over with:

Yes, that is indeed my Saturday Sky. It was very hazy all day long, (mainland? where?) and I waited until the end of the day, hoping that the setting sun might pierce the clouds a bit, or give some nice colors. (Not that we get real sunsets - facing the wrong direction for that.) But, I got nada. This is as good as it got.

On the plus side, after finishing that blankety-blank Art History course I was determined to take another crack at the Psychology class that was kicking my ass a few months ago. That little purple progress bar that was stuck at 5% for the past few months while all the others moved forward?'re looking at it now, aren't you? Yes, indeedy - progress at last and moved to 10%. I pulled out the book and dove back in yesterday, then spent more time on it today, and when I logged in the assignment - lo and behold, I scored a 100% on it. Yippeeee!!! I have no idea why it's "clicking" now when it wasn't before, my only guess is that although in the working world I was learning new things, being out of a real school environment for so long, I sort of had to learn how to learn.

Okay, so to keep those other progress bars moving along I just have to take a Psych final exam and a Statistics midterm. Oh joy - pass the Pepto please.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Glow in the dark WHAT?

Okay, so I had not planned to post anything tonight. But as is often the case, the television is on while I'm cruising around on the internet and a little teaser for the 11 o'clock news caught my attention.  And just in case you happened to miss it, I had to share.  See this little glow in the dark kitty?

That's NOT a lighting or Photoshop effect.  Read all about it here.

I'm not sure how I feel about this.  There's a certain....I don't know, "ick factor"? I've consulted with the four-legged members of my family and they expressed their thoughts on the subject by (1) pointing one foot skyward (you know - THAT pose) and  (2) flipping a tail up and exiting the room (talk to the tail, dude). 

But I'd really love to hear what other people think.  Leave a comment and share your opinion!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Something for everyone

We like it when a box arrives!

The contents are completely unimportant to her, it's all about having a brand new box to play in.

But it's the highlight of my week to get something like this:

Want some more yarny goodness? I'm sure you do.
Okay, here's another taste:


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

For the love of stinky cheese

In the past I've babbled about stopping at Trader Joe's whenever I'm overtown. But it occurs to me that I might not have put it in the proper context. You know, the one that doesn't send you clicking away from me thinking, "what is up with this woman and her food issues?"

I know for a fact that people who live on the mainland ('cause I used to be one of them) take for granted their easy access to whatever foodstuffs they desire, and an almost endless assortment of choices, from every conceivable ethnic background to the newest fast food chain to the latest trendy restaurant. You see an ad, or feel a craving, and within minutes it can be yours. (Yeah, I'm so happy for you).

Living here we are not so fortunate. Although the grocery store is part of a major chain, it is a very very very small store and although they do the best they can with the limited space they have available, that means they don't really carry a wide variety. Nowhere near what that same store on the mainland stocks. In Avalon, grocery shopping is not about getting what you want, it's about taking what you can get. That's not a whine, or a complaint, just a statement of fact. So it really helps to have an occasional treat to break up the monotony. Therefore - Trader Joe's. And actually, I think the folks at the two Long Beach locations nearest the boat are accustomed to the islanders who come zooming in on kamikaze-style shopping expeditions with large duffles or rolling coolers.

My traditional haul always includes a few salads, a couple baked goods, whatever frozen delicacies I can find, and of course - yummy cheeses. I've got a few favorites but the fun is in trying new ones. My latest newbie has, as my mother put it "a lot of personality":

I believe "personality" is used here as a euphemism for "stinks to holy hell and back again with the fetid breath of a dozen ancient goats". And I had planned to save it for the weekend and treat myself to a little wine and gourmet cheese platter dinner (the healthy alternate to beer, chips, and salsa ), but last night when I opened the refrigerator the box of Arm & Hammer baking powder crawled out and begged me for mercy. I am, if nothing else, merciful, so I reached for the cutting board and crackers. The verdict? More stink than taste. Which is actually okay, I mean, if it tasted the way it smelled - I probably wouldn't be here blogging now.

I noticed something about the label and checked one of the other cheeses I purchased on the same trip:

Do you see it? No? Okay, here it is:

The label guarantees that the milk this cheese was made from is from cows who were not treated with recombinant Bovine Somatotropin or rBST. (I'm going to step aside here for a moment and point out the words around the circle say, "our cows just say nooooo" and that was damn near the title of this post. Be grateful I occasionally show some restraint - okay?) But getting back to the point, there's a lot of controversy swirling around the use of rBST. I'm not about to delve into the scientific facts, or the economic issues, or the legal and political shitstorms that have resulted since rBST first hit the market. I'm just making a purely personal decision.

Cows produce milk. Cows produce a reasonable amount of milk for what their bodies tell them is a reasonable amount of time. I don't want someone injecting a hormone into my body to make it do something other than what it does naturally, I doubt the cow does either. Injections of substances should be reserved for those occasions when nature is not doing what it should, sickness, or injury. So regardless of whether or not those hormones can make it from the cow to me, in any form, or cause any change to my health - I don't see them as a necessary or good thing. I can't say that I will restrict my purchasing of dairy products to only those who guarantee no rBST has been used, but I can say that given a choice between two competing products with that as the difference, it's an easy decision to make. And I'm not foolish enough to think that one tiny little person's shopping choices make a significant impact - but in time, and maybe multiplied by enough other tiny little people, well...

A drop of water doesn't do much, but enough of them make a river. And rivers can carve away mountains.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

One for the rings

When I signed up for the Saturday Sky ring I had not anticipated that it would help motivate me to get out of my cozy little home every Saturday so I could get a good shot. Somehow getting all my Saturday Sky photos from my balcony seemed like a cop-out! So although I'd already been out for a walk, and had a good shot I planned to use, later when I got home something really fabulous showed up in the sky, and really - if I hadn't been home I might not have seen this:

And just in case you landed here from the Knitting Blogring, this next bit is for you. I finished another cable cap:

I used a much better yarn with this one, drawing on my stash of Lamb's Pride, and I really love the garnet color but it feels sort of tight. I think the other one did too, and after I'd worn it a while either I got used to it or it stretched out. I've been wondering if I could sort of block some stretch into it. (If that made any sense?!) I have a little hand-held steamer, but for the life of me I can't find anything around the house I can put it on that would serve as my head. Maybe stuff it with towels? I'm open to suggestions!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

One down, many more to go

I didn't post yesterday because I was overtown all day and was just too wiped when I got back. The trip was a successful one.  I went to a nice little shop where I petted all their pretty yarn. I went to Trader Joe's and hauled home a couple bags of goodies to liven up my boring local groceries.  But the main purpose of the entire day lasted exactly 30 minutes - my final exam for Brigham Young University's Art History and Curatorial Studies 340.

Don't get me wrong, I am incredibly happy to be done with that pathetic excuse for a course intended to teach 19th century European Art History.  But I have to point out that it actually took me longer to get there than to take the test.

6:00am - wake up and turn off alarm clock
6:30am - wake up again, look at clock, curse and leap out of bed in the direction of the kitchen
6:35am - glance out window on my way to bathroom, see choppy waves in harbor, curse again
7:35am - exit warm home, start cold golf cart (cursing), and head for boat dock
7:50am - board boat and settle into seat with warm bagel, knitting, and iPod
8:00am - boat pushes back and departs
9:15am - boat arrives, exit with 50 jillion other passengers
9:20am - locate truck in parking garage, clean month of accumulated crud from window (cursing)
9:30am - drive onto freeway
10:15am - exit freeway
10:20am - pull into parking garage at test center
10:30am - walk into test center office and report for scheduled test appointment
11:00am - exit test center, exam completed

See what I mean?  And just so we're clear, all the cursing is not just my run-of-the-mill, ordinary potty mouth.  These curses were specifically directed at the folks who caused BYU to change their policy, requiring that all collegiate level exams be taken at "certified testing center", instead of allowing the student to find their own proctor.  As is too often the case, one bad apple spoiled it for the rest of the barrel, and now instead of asking a local school teacher or librarian to administer my tests, I have to go overtown for them.

The fun part of taking a BYU course is that when you complete the course they offer you an evaluation form, requesting your feedback. Hmmmm...better buckle up.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


You give up a lot of that when you live here. I don't know if that's common to all small towns, or just those that are located on a small body of land completely surrounded by water.

When I lived on the mainland, regardless of where I lived, I had people that knew me through school, people that knew me through work, people that knew me from the gym, people that knew me from the neighborhood, people that knew from...etc, etc. Each one in it's own tidy little box. And each of these little groups of people knew the parts of my life that related their specific box. Sure, occasionally there could be a little crossover action, but that was rare, and either very brief and/or very carefully "managed".

But living here it is all one big messy mash-up of people. The woman living next door is your boss, her daughter is the girl serving you lunch who is the babysitter, who happens to be dating the boy bagging your groceries, who is also your employee at his night job, and the guy sitting on the bar stool next to you is your city councilman and repaired your vehicle last week. (That last part is not a joke.)

And when I moved here I found this difficult to get used to - I liked my little boxes and they were hard to give up. What I've found myself doing instead, is almost jealously guarding small pieces of myself from the oh so very public life in this town. I can't keep the folks at work from knowing everything that the folks at the gym know, but I can keep everyone from knowing absolutely everything about me! (If that made any sense at all.) In other words, I can't control the flow of information, but I can control how much is put out there and made available.

So oddly enough, this blog is one of those things I tend to keep to myself. While, to the best of my knowledge (and according to my site stats) this blog is being read by people all over the United States and Canada, there's only 3-4 family/friends that are aware of this blog. (And of those I think only 2 of you are really reading this regularly - and you know who you are!)

Given that, I don't know why I hesitated for so long to use my own photo on the profile, hiding behind a Yahoo avatar and occasional images in the posts with my face turned. I'm certainly nobody famous, and not likely to attract the interest of a scary stalker! And I'm not foolish enough to think that no one ever looks at the blog profile and it's photo (Dude, the site stats don't lie - I saw you lookin' at me!) But somewhere between the wide open spaces of the blogosphere and the friendliness of the Ravelry community, it ceased to matter.

So last night, I took a deep breath and uploaded a decent, fairly accurate picture of me, to both this profile and the one on Ravelry.
Hello! Here I am! Let the stalking begin!
(But please bring wine, chocolate and yarn made from natural fibers - okay?)

But in giving up some of my privacy, I've also decided to take some back. So as of this morning, this was the entrance to my bathroom:

Nice, eh? There was nothing there when I moved into my apartment you-don't-want-to-know-how-many years ago. The curtain is only for the benefit of the occasional guest, and to give the cat something to climb. ('Cause, lord knows, she needs more entertainment - right?)

And this afternoon, this is the entrance to my bathroom:

"The closing of a door can bring blessed privacy and comfort...."
-Andy Rooney

Monday, December 3, 2007

Inn on Mt. Ada Open House

I spent a couple hours today up at Mt. Ada during the annual open house. It was nice but a little odd, since last year I was working at the event. And it surprised me that whenever I was inside moving through the crowd (such as on my way to & from the cookie table) people stopped me with a comment or question, thinking I was working. It made me a tad uncomfortable too, and I didn't take as many pictures as I thought I would, since the whole photographing-every-precious-moment-and marketable-angle was a big part of that job. And lord only knows, I have something like a jillion pictures from last year's event! But here's the highlights of what I did get:

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Holiday season starters

I realized about halfway through the month of November that one side effect of NaBloPoMo, (for me anyway), was that I probably wouldn't have time to make any changes or additions to the blog itself. All my blog time was focused on posting, any improvements just had to wait. So while NaBloPoMo had some very positive results, and it's actually easier for me to post regularly now, I will probably take a day off here and there to take care of some of those things that fell by the wayside in November.

Today is the first day that it started to feel like the holiday season to me. This afternoon I hung my lights along the edge of the balcony and looking at them now, I wonder why I don't just have some sort of lighting out there year round. It just looks so cheerful and happy. I remember last year I didn't hang them and why. No amount of pretty icicle lights were going to make me cheerful and happy - I was in a swirl of stress and strain, dog-paddling like mad to keep my head above water and all I could think of was when it would be over so I could collapse and sleep. Looking back now, I can't believe I was so miserable and unable to recognize it.

This evening I went out walking around town for our annual Shop at Home Night. (Another thing I didn't do last year). No actual shopping takes place, you just go from store to store, collecting stamps on a card to win a prize, filling out raffle tickets at each store, munching cookies, and at the best stores - indulging in a little adult beverage. It's really a locals event, everyone is out and about and as much of a hermit as I am these days, this was a fairly major social event for me. I feel rewarded for leaving my cozy little shell because I did get to spend a little time with someone I like and rarely get to see!

Tomorrow I'll top that excursion with an even more social occasion, the Open House at the Inn on Mt. Ada. It's usually packed with people and since this year I am not working (either at the event or anywhere else!) my strategy is to arrive at 2pm when the event begins, grab a prime spot outside with a good view and settle in to watch the people around me, feast on cookies, relax and enjoy myself. Should be lots of great photo opportunities, so the task for this evening is to charge up the battery on my camera and select the right knitting project to take with me.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Red Flag Saturday

First, my Saturday Sky:

That flag to the left is the reason I did not make it off the island today. One red flag is only a small craft advisory, which essentially means that it is not so windy that the boats cannot run at all, but there is enough swell that you will not really enjoy your trip. Even if you do not get seasick, others around you might and that's really not pleasant. ***(Warning: slightly gross story approaching)

A couple years ago a coworker and I went over together to attend a convention for people in the animal care industry. The crossing was so rough that we spent the entire 90 minutes sitting outside, freezing and becoming drenched with seawater, just to have fresh, breathable air. And all the while, inside the cabin of the boat the crew were running up and down the aisles with barf baggies and citrus disinfectant, until it smelled like someone puked up an entire orange grove. We disembarked in Long Beach looking like cold, drowned rats - but we had our stomaches intact and were discussing where to eat dinner.

So in the past I have hauled my cookies across the channel in all sorts of less than ideal weather conditions. But I figure that at this particular point in my life if I don't HAVE to, why should I? There isn't anything I was going to do today, that can't just as easily be done on another day, and waiting just a few more days won't make any real difference.

Unlike SOME people, at least I did get out of bed today, running errands and going for a short walk.

Nooooo, eees cold out dere!

Isn't she just about begging to be a lolcat?

Friday, November 30, 2007

I Did It! (And I'm feeling mighty smug!)

It is a gray, rainy day here on the island but I have the sun shining in my heart. Because today is November 30, 2007 and I DID IT!

Yeppers - thas' right - 30 posts in 30 days. National Blog Posting Month is over and I have met the goal. I don't even care if I get a prize, I just feel great that I actually accomplished it. (Eden, if you are reading this, please disregard the first part of that sentence, I want my prize!) I'm not particularly fond of any of the "I Did It" participant badges I've seen so far (the Pillsbury Doughboy? WTF??) but the one above wins hands down in the cuteness category. Later tonight, or maybe over the weekend I'll surf around to see if I can find one I like better to place in the sidebar, or maybe I'll get creative and make one. (But don't hold your breath - lately the creative urges have been less about Photoshop, and more about pointy sticks and wool.)

I actually woke up this morning feeling quite smug. Some of that may have been the result of getting the closest thing to a decent night's sleep in a while. But much more of it was probably due to having the foresight to haul the trash cans down to the sidewalk and park my vehicle a few blocks away on Thursday evening before dark. This stroke of brilliance meant that on Friday morning, instead of leaping out of bed before 8am to put out other people's trash (a lifelong ambition) and racing to move my vehicle to the opposite side of the street before the arrival of Tammy The Ticket Lady (who is just way too good at her job), I was able to lie comfortably in my warm bed, listen to the rain, and feel smug.

Just so we're clear, I am quite aware that an excess of smugness may very well be followed by some universe-delivered, gi-normous smack upside the head. And I'm ready. But if the universe could just wait a few weeks and let me wallow in this for a little while, I'd really be quite grateful.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hat Stalking and Other Musings

As wiped as I was yesterday from lack of sleep, you'd think that I'd pass out the minute my head hit the pillow, but such was not the case. I tossed and turned, until the cat snuggled down next to me finally popped her head up as if to say, "Wouldja quit flopping around? I'm sleepin' here!"

Lying there in the dark, I passed the time imagining more hats I'd like to try knitting. Some may be original, but I'm sure plenty are just adaptations of hats I've seen around. I've read other people's tales of following someone down the street in an effort to get a better look at the cables on their sweater, or even taking surreptitious photos of a sweater in a major chain store. (And sometime next week I've got to post about the V-Secret sweater versions that keep popping up in knitting catalogs and magazines.) I've yet to resort to stalking people in malls for their hats, but there are plenty of errr...."inspirations" available.

If you watched the last episode of Bones:

Emily Deschanel's character was wearing a great looking knitted cap. I'm not particularly fond of the color, but I did try long and hard to get a decent shot of the cables!

And when I saw this magazine ad for Coach:

I figured the point of the ad was to draw your attention to the bags, jewelry and belt. I thought the hat was just the stylist's touch, but when I went to the Coach site to see if I could get a better image, I found this:

Oddly enough, I liked it better in the print ad when I couldn't see the crown. I'd pictured it with just the pink, tan, and red stripes, and then continuing with white. So maybe that'll be my version. It's described as a cashmere/wool blend and costs $128. Freaking one hundred and twenty eight fracking dollars. For a knitted cap. Are ya with me here? I was planning to visit a yarn shop on the mainland this weekend after I take an exam. I think I'll take a copy of this picture with me and see what I can rustle up for a somewhat more reasonable price!

Then this afternoon I passed by a local business that had a display of hats next to the door. I suppose I should have tried to get one of those surreptitious photos, but the hats themselves really weren't worthy of the effort. For $15 you can get a very poor quality, machine made hat in your choice of several very unnattractive colors of scratchy, cheesy yarn. I'm not sure they're even worth $5.

So what's the point of all this? I don't really know. It seems to me that if there are just a few people out there willing to spend a great deal of money for a small, simple knitted item - well, that's great - you can take their money an move along. But if you can offer a decent quality product with a reasonable pricetag, such that large amounts of people can actually afford it - doesn't that make more sense?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Wednesday Night Wimp Out Post #2

I did not sleep last night. There is no logical reason why, it just didn't happen for me. And that is why I can tell you that at 1:30am Pacific Standard Time there were just a little over 200 people online at Ravelry, and 63 of them were in the United States.

But the result of no sleep means that I now feel like death warmed over, crap on a cracker, shit on toast, something the cat dragged in and the dog dragged back out - you pick one, they all fit. So here I go with another Wednesday Night Wimp Out Post.

So I give you:

A cute little bonding moment from last year. I love it because the cat looks like she has a black nose, and actually it's just a smudge of some kind of dirt that just would not come off. Somehow she managed to stick her little pink & white nose into something that stained the fur, so we just waited for it to grow out and wear away over time. Eventually it did.

Now I have to feed her dinner and go to bed. Nighty night.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cables and other learning experiences

When I finished the last roll brim hat I said that while I was still loving the idea of knitting hats, I was just kinda sick of that pattern and needed a little break.

So I did this:

Actually, when placed in my traditionally prime photo location (the middle of my bed between two windows covered with old cheap sheers that filter sunlight perfectly) it doesn't really photograph well. So we'll step outside for a bit:

And this one didn't turn out quite as I expected, but you get the idea along with a different view:

I should mention that this was in fact, my first little venture into the vast world of cables. (Thank you, thank you - you're too kind). I learned quite a bit from this one small project, and I don't just mean how to work a simple cable cross, or a cable decrease.

As usual when working something up for the first time instead of drawing on my dwindling stash of better quality yarn, I used up some of the "charity yarn". This is not a derogatory term. The yarn was given to me, therefore - charity. And I use it up on projects like this and eventually donate the finished items to groups that actually prefer that the items not be wool. (Yes, they do exist.) For the second time - charity. Get it? Good.

Anyway, this particular yarn was not nice. And by not nice - I mean that it fought back. The label proudly declares it to be "100% Acrylic!" and I'd have to agree. I am far from being a yarn snob, I know acrylic has come a long way in the past few years, there are now man-made yarns that are almost indistiguishable from natural fibers. But this ain't one of those. This yarn is older acrylic, and most certainly did not mellow with age. Unlike my beloved Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride, it did not slide smoothly across the bamboo needles, it had to be shoved and pulled with every few stitches. It even, well...kinda "squeaked" if you know what I mean. Just as I started, the center of the skein sort of collapsed and barfed out a messy tangle of yarn that had to be dealt with every few rows. Obviously I should have taken that as an omen that this yarn was going to be a troublemaker. (And really, what good can you say about a skein that can't hold its yarn?) But I soldiered on and I am glad that I did not let the crappy yarn get the best of me. And just 'cause it copped such an attitude (and because I am not keeping the hat) I think it's getting a pom-pom on it. So there! Take that!

This project also taught me another unique and special lesson, one that all knitters must learn eventually I suppose. The somewhat painful, and occasionally time-consuming, experience of finding an actual mistake in the pattern. Once a pattern is published in a book, the knitter should be able to trust that it is correct. But that is not so - we know better. This is where the errata section on the author or publisher's web site comes in. There is no guarantee that every single pattern was actually tested and worked up by an actual, real live knitter before the book was put to print. And that seems like such a basic simple part of the process doesn't it? Shoot - you could practically bribe knitters to do it for you with a few extra skeins of yarn and advance copies of the book. And yes, I am aware that as a recovering perfectionist I might be just a tad biased on this subject - but geez - wouldn't you want to be sure it was right before you put it out there on the shelves of bookstores across America, and more importantly, into the hands of knitters around the world?

I'm just sayin'.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Pretty...and not

This is pretty:

This is not:

This is pretty:

This is not:

Enough said. Point made.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

What Kind of Knitter Are You?

You appear to be a Knitting Adventurer. You are through those knitting growing pains and feeling more adventurous. You can follow a standard pattern if it's not too complicated and know where to go to get help. Maybe you've started to experiment with different fibers and you might be eyeing a book with a cool technique you've never tried. Perhaps you prefer to stick to other people's patterns but you are trying to challenge yourself more. Regardless of your preference, you are continually trying to grow as a knitter, and as well you should since your non-knitting friends are probably dropping some serious hints these days.
Take this quiz!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Seeing Red

You know, for the title of this post I had thought of venting about one of our local businesses, and something they did that really annoyed me.

But instead I give you:

This incredibly nice thank-you card I received from the OFA for my participation in the Red Scarf Project. That just surprised the heck out of me. I mean, yes, I know the main piece is a rack card, the former Marketing/Graphics me recognizes that. But the little handwritten note on the envelope actually references what I specifically sent, and that makes all the difference. Wow.

And also this:

A package of yarn from Stella. The colors are totally me and just marvelous, you really can't do it justice with a picture, and besides - you know you have to be able to pet it and fondle it to appreciate it properly! This is going to have to snuggle down and get comfy in my stash until my sock knitting skills reach the level to do right by it. Thanks so much! (And way to class up my Ravelry stash!)

And finally:

Today's Saturday Sky - with a parasailer included!

Friday, November 23, 2007

From NaBloPoMo to MyExHeMo

In the next week I plan to:
  • Memorize a big stack of questions and answers about 19th century European Art History
  • Complete chapter 16 of Research Methods in Psychology
  • Complete unit 11 in Statistics

If all of these take place (and I have no reason to think they won't), in one week's time I will end NaBloPoMo and begin MyExHeMo. Known by it's full name - My Exam Hell Month. I'll be happy to share more exciting details as they occur. Should be just one big whoopee fun time!

In knitting news, the other night I added more to the stash in my Ravelry notebook. And before you go look at the new additions, I wish to explain that I did NOT purchase this yarn, it was given to me in a big bag of mixed yarn from someone who was moving. (And it took a lot of guts for me to put it out there.) I've listed it under "will trade/sell" and I REALLY mean that. Like as in I trade you all four jumbo skeins of this for one skein of superwash wool? So that said, I should probably save you the trouble of checking Ravelry:

Okay? 'Nuff said. Let's move along.

I finished yet another hat.

(Wow, deja vu moment - have I said that before?) If this is getting a little tedious to you - imagine what it feels like on my end. I love my hats, I love my hat pattern. But I'll be damned if I can face knitting another one of these without some kind of break or variation. I thought of doing a quick pair of wristies - and I could use them - but I can't get my hands on any decent yarn locally. I still have a couple skeins of the beloved Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride I purchased at the Slipt Stitch, and I really want to them to be hats, but it is so definitely time for a change. I've joined a hat lover's ravelry group and I'm cruising patterns for inspiration. More hat updates soon. ('Cause I just know you are waiting with bated breath!)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Magic Scarf grows up

What was just a baby on October 17th:

Has now become a full adult, ready to go forth and impress the world with it's loveliness:

And be modeled by headless women:

Yesterday I finished Crazy Aunt Purl's Magic Scarf and I absolutely love it. I would definitely use this pattern again, and I can easily see how adaptable it is. I showed the work in progress to someone recently and we discussed how the stitch pattern and some bulky pastel yarn could be perfect for whipping up a fast baby blanket. (A useful thing when you live in this town, where the kids almost seem to outnumber the adults, and baby showers happen with amazing frequency. You really want to consider that before you drink the water or sit on the toilet seats. I'm just sayin'.)

One last close-up of the magic:

(Don'tcha wish your scarf was magic like mine? I know you do!)