Sunday, March 30, 2008

Hats heading out

The braided cable hat I had so much fun blocking has been mailed off to it's new home:

I have no idea if the recipient will like it or not - but if not, I hope she re-gifts it to someone who does!

And in the same trip to the post office I also sent a couple of chemo caps to a hospital in Pennsylvania:

A fellow Hat Attack participant shared the info on her Caps for a Cause contest pointing out that since we all like knitting hats anyway - why not do some good with it? I knitted the coral one a few months ago because I had the yarn in my stash already and wanted to try the pattern.  The yellow one was knit up to keep it company, and so I could experiment with a technique to avoid the little jog you get when knitting stripes in the round. Not really sure if I did it right, but the yarn has enough texture to hide small imperfections anyway!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Just do what Charlene says

That's the advice I was given today.  And for once, I will follow without question.

Because the Charlene is THE Charlene - Charlene Schurch, the author of Sensational Knitted Socks, and of course, More Sensational Knitted Socks. I have borrowed a copy of SKS and started knitted her Garter Rib pattern using the Hazel Knits Purty Purple Rogue I purchased at Bobbins Nest Studio on the Stitches West weekend.  And as I suspected, I'm just lovin' the yarn, it's knitted up nicely on size 2 needles, it's purty, and I am pleased.

I've been knitting along mindlessly without having to look back at the book. But now it's time to divide and conquer....errr, no, wait....I mean divide and turn.  As in "for the heel".  Since I've done this on the itty bitty socks and had no problems, there's no reason to expect any now. When I did it before I didn't stop to think about what I was doing, I just followed the directions. However, I am really quite proficient at over-thinking things, so that's not a bad way for me to operate.  Just put your eyes on it and do ezackly what the pattern tells you to do.  So that's the plan.

That little squiggly green line you see?  That's the ends of my safety line.  It's not that I don't trust Charlene, really I do!  But it's kind of like deciding whether or not to take your umbrella with you on a cloudy day.  Putting in a safety line is a way of paying homage to the knitting gods.  They look down, see your caution, nod approvingly, and move on to torture that poor soul in the next county who refuses to swatch anything and just can't seem to grasp the concept of gauge.

So here we go - me, Charlene, and the Purty Purple sock.  See you on the other side!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Those effing bells!

Avalon has all sorts of interesting traditions. One of my least favorites took place this past weekend.

Every year on Easter Sunday, there is a "Sonrise Easter Service" (you - in the back row, on the left - I saw that eye roll!) that takes place in the wee hours of the morning. The location has changed over the years, but it still takes place every year. I have no particular issue with that. Although it's a tad early for me to want to do anything other than roll over, if I absolutely had to attend a church service I'd rather be outside on a beautiful spring morning than inside any building. But there's more to it.

See that little structure perched near the top of the hillside?

Here - let me give you a better view:

Okay, that is the chimes tower. It's located directly across from the Zane Grey Hotel and (this is important if you ever plan to stay there) the chimes ring every quarter hour on the quarter hour, starting at 8am, and they can be heard across the canyon, but especially well on the same side of town. If you pay attention, you can tell the time by them. And occasionally on certain holidays, such as Christmas, there is someone here who goes into the tower and plays music on the chimes, like say - Christmas carols! Are you catching on yet?

Every year, in honor of Easter and for the, ahem..."Sonrise" service, prior to the service, (this means BEFORE dawn, like while it is still dark), someone plays what I presume are hymns of some sort on the chimes. So for the past ten years, I have woken up at the butt crack of dawn on every Easter Sunday morning with the first words out of my mouth being, "f***ing bells!!!!!!"

Friday, March 21, 2008

Bowled over by blocking

A few weeks ago I finished a braided cable hat and was concerned about whether it would be large enough for the intended recipient.  When knitting for my own pointy little head this is never a concern, and I've since found a basic cable pattern that's very stretchy and used that to knit up hats for other people.  But this braided cable hat was never meant for me - lordy knows I've more than enough warm wooly hats for someone who lives in a place with such a short mild winter season!

So I decided to try blocking the hat and just before heading over to one of the local shops to buy some balloons, I found this:

What is it you ask?  A bowl?  A bowl with a hole???

Actually, it's a cover from an el cheapo plastic overhead light fixture.  It's been lurking in a tool shed since it was replaced by a much nicer glass globe.  Why it wasn't pitched out immediately I don't know but I was happy to find it. 

Because when turned upside-down:

It became the perfect hat blocker!

After a quick rinse I slipped it over my nifty swifty new blocking bowl and then set it in the sun to finish drying. And you could say I was errr...."completely bowled over" by what a difference it made. (Please forgive me - I just couldn't help myself!) 

Since I was ill, there really weren't any normal-sized heads available to try it on. (What - like you don't quarantine your sick people?) But instead of fitting me like it did before, the hat is a tad large now, which means it should fit someone else perfectly! (I assure you, it's been washed since then.  I am not sending my cooties through the U.S. Mail)  You can even see the difference in the photos.



Now the only remaining challenge is purchasing an envelope to mail it. If you lived here you'd know why that's considered a "challenge".  You'll just have to take my word for it!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

So where was I?

I think I'm a little behind. (This happens when you spend large amounts of time on the couch doing nothing.) And because of that instead of a Saturday Sky, you are getting a Sunday Sky:

Trust me, it's better than yesterday's would have been anyway!

Thanks to Wendee sending me one of the leftover mini skeins of the Bobbins Nest colorway, I finished the itty-bitty socks:

Aren't those colors great? I think I'm jealous of the itty-bitty socks, I want them to be big enough for me! Considering the amount of time I spend wearing brown with blue jeans I know I'd get a lot of wear out of them and yes, I am aware that I could adapt the pattern to adult feet. But after all yarn buying at Stitches West, I think I need to knit through the stash before I indulge in any more new yarn!

Wendee also figured out why I ran out yarn. So for the ABC-along folks I offer this E for Errata:

Does the foot look a little long to you? (Yeah, me too.) It actually did when I was knitting it. But if you know me outside of the blogiverse you know I don't know nothin' 'bout no babies! I mean, I've been informed by other knitters that babies have freakishly large heads so hey, far as I know they could have bigger feet than I expected. Right? Made sense to me!

I haven't seen any others posted on Ravelry yet so I'm guessing I was probably just the canary in the coal mine since I cast it on the day after receiving it in the goodie bag at the party at Bobbins Nest Studio. It doesn't really matter to me, I'm sure I'll be able to find a home for these itty-bitty socks, and I'm sure I'll use the pattern again in the future.

The most important thing that pattern did for me was to launch me into sock knitting sooner than I expected. I planned to use the Spunky Eclectic Goblin Eyes, because I thought a simple ribbing pattern would be best and the bright colors would keep me entertained. So with high hopes, I wound it into balls, swatched, and cast on:

And I love the colors just as much as I thought I would. Purple, gold, and green - Mardi Gras colors! What's not to love about that? There's also a dark blue, but it seems to blend into the purple. But the color is the only thing I loved. In every other way, I hated it. That yarn is thinner than thin, it's superfine. I was knitting it on size 1 needles, but it was begging me for size 0. Me - trying to knit thread with toothpicks? That's just a one way ticket to crazytown.

Of course it wouldn't just be me going insane. I'd be taking you and everyone else along for the ride. I could just see it - a future where every other blog post consisted of nothing but bitter complaints, slowly descending into madness, enslaved by the beautiful, hateful, sock that never ends. So I frogged it and came up with plan B.

That plan could consist of double-stranding the Goblin Eyes with itself, or even solid yarn, to "bulk it up" to a more reasonable weight and needle size. And that may indeed happen someday. But for now I have a better idea.

When I was knitting on the itty-bitty sock, I was happy. Using size 2 needles and the Hazel Knits artisan sock yarn sample, I was quite content to knit on for much longer than was required by the itty-bitty sock pattern. And from my visit to Bobbins Nest Studio I have also this:

And idn't it purty?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Looking for the butter knife

I'm still dealing with this insanely painful headache thing.  While it's probably far from over, I think I may have figured out a coping strategy that will allow me to do something more with my days than lie on the couch and wimper.  So you can have some reasonable expectation of a normal blog post in the near future.

But one bright spot in the past few days, just before I took to the couch I ordered this cute little toaster oven:

Yes, as a matter of fact it IS red.  I will introduce you to the rest of my kitchen paraphernalia some other time.  For now, just accept that this color does indeed coordinate with the rest of my kitchen.  Since this is to replace the very basic ancient toaster that died a few weeks ago, I am very excited.   Not just to finally be able to have toast again - but to be able to toast bagels and danish and all sorts of other bread stuffs that would never fit in the narrow slots of the el cheapo appliance it's replacing.  Wheeeee!!!!! I'm livin' the high life now alrighty.  (I am so easily pleased it's pathetic.) 

As happy as I was to see Fed-Ex Dude arrive with the package, I did have one troubling moment when I looked at the box. I mean, I admit I was on drugs but seriously. Seriously???

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pain pain pain pain pain.....

I've meant to post something reasonably intelligent the last couple days but have been prevented from doing so by the icepick that seems to be jammed into the side of my head.  I can't see it when I look in the mirror, but I know it's there.

My good friend Mr. Ibyew Proefin has been trying to help me, but with limited success.  I believe tonight we'll be calling in reinforcements.  Getting a decent night's sleep is worth gold to me.  But if you've got a lead on a good little doc in a box who's fast and easy with a scrip pad, gimme a call.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Maine Morning Monsters

I'd like to introduce:

The Maine Morning Monsters

I decided to call them that not because I think they look bad, but because these mitts were not content to simply be another pair of Maine Morning Mitts. No, these babies had some serious delusions of grandeur.

The problem first surfaced on Saturday, February 23rd, while I was at Stitches West. The night of the Ravelry meet-up & party at Bobbins Nest Studio, I brought them with me to work on. As we sat in the coffee shop knitting and chatting, someone asked me what I was working on, and upon hearing that it was a pair of Maine Morning Mitts, pulled out a pair she had knit in Malabrigo. I 'fessed up that I had never used Malabrigo and had only even touched it for the first time this week. I admired their softness, lovely color, and (slowly) passed them back to her. This is when it happened.

The Maine Morning Monsters got jealous. They heard me ooing and aahhing over the Malabrigo Mitts and since they knew they could do nothing to change their basic fiber they set themselves to a loftier goal. They decided to try to be full-length armwarmers. You think I'm kidding? I'm not. I checked them the next morning after the party and discovered that the little suckers had almost doubled the amount of rounds between the cast-on and the beginning of the thumb gusset increases. It's a good thing I caught them when I did, because really, that full-length armwarmers with tank top look works for Summer Glau, but not for all of us!

Later that day I went back to Bobbins Nest to hang out & knit, but I took the braided cable hat with me instead. And then later that night, I wound up the Hazel Knits yarn sample and cast on the first itty-bitty Baby Bobbin Sock. I was so entranced by the itty-bitty sock that after I got home, I continued to knit on it for as long as I could, while the mitts languished at the bottom of the knitting bag. When I pulled them out again finally it was obvious that the green-eyed monster had reared it's ugly head yet again. Having lost their opportunity to be arm length, those bad little fingerless mitts tried to be full mittens! Really, they did! I don't know what they think they're playing at - adding all those extra rounds after the thumb - but seriously, can you imagine getting your stitches all twisted up over an itty-bitty sock? Sheesh!

Thankfully, the Maine Morning Monsters are finally completed. And now that they've been photographed and blogged, they'll be tucked into a drawer. Where no doubt, they will continue their mischevious ways, stirring up trouble and fomenting discord among the scarves and hats. I can only hope that the hand-knit socks will hold the line against any possible attempts for mass mobilization of knitwear.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Braided today, blocking tomorrow

Awhile back, still in the throes of the fingerless glove frenzy, I had a hankering for braided cables. I was planning to try the Symmetrical Braided Gauntlets but held off because I was starting to learn that many of these patterns were not written for my skeletal hands. And while I'm willing to give away a pair or two, I intended to knit most of those suckers for my cold hands.

However, I was able to satisfy my desire to knit braided cables with a hat, and last night I finished a Braided Cable Hat:

The pattern requires a multiple of 11 stitches, 9 for the braid and 2 for the purls in between each braid, so I cast on 99 stitches. If I knit this pattern again, I'd probably insert an extra purl stitch in between each braid. It's very thick and snug, but it's also tight and doesn't have a whole heck of a lotta give. I mean, it fits me:

But unlike the gauntlets, I wasn't knitting this for myself. I planned on giving it to someone else and I'm concerned that it might not fit the recipient. (Remember, I do have an awfully small pointy head!) Now I'm wondering if I should try stretching it out a bit. I figure it's worth a shot - I just need to find something in this house to block it on that's the right shape and bigger than my head!

There's still a ton of hat patterns I want to try - some that I might actually wear if they look decent on me, others just because I'm curious about the cable or stitch pattern. I'm thinking about maybe a beret next? There's only about a jillion possible patterns to chose from. But life wouldn't be normal if I didn't have a hat on the needles so while I figure out which one I grabbed some leftover Lion Homespun from my stash and started this chemo cap:

Why? Go visit The Watson Highlands and find out!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Hello insomnia my old friend

So what do you do in the wee hours between 2 and 4 am when you cannot sleep? That is to say, what do you do when you actually care about not waking up your neighbors. (This is so freaking annoying, even the damn cats are asleep!)

Well, you can peruse the discussion boards of Ravelry for any interesting new threads. And since there appear to be over 400 members currently online, a little over a 100 of which are in the United States, you could even sit and watch the radar and get a few more rounds done on a cable hat. (Nothin' like a little eavesdropping while you knit - right?) You could surf the internet, check out the latest videos on YouTube, get caught up on blog reading and commenting.  Heck, you could even post to your own blog!  Now there's damn fine idea!

Funny thing about blogging is you never know who's going to check out your blog and whatever you're putting out there on the great world wide web.  I look at my site stats once a week or so and see visits from people all over the United States, Canada, even some from other countries occasionally.  And in the time that I've been blogging, I've made a few blog friends along the way.  But it seems like an interesting twist that the majority of them live on the east coast, and particularly in areas where the weather is so freaking far from anything I want to experience.  I mean, I may kvetch about driving an open golf cart in the rain, not having insulation in the walls of my house, or losing power and freezing my hiney off during the night, but relatively speaking - these are just inconveniences or annoyances.  So I admire these folks, for battling the elements as they try to go about their daily business.  'Cause wow, I just couldn't do it. Not in a million years.  I am just not built for cold climates.

And although I complain about some of the less than wonderful parts of my island life, I do like living here.  I chose this place and I do appreciate everything it has to offer, even if I don't always remember to say that!  I'm going to try and counter the whines & wimpers with an equal or greater amount of the positive aspects of this body of land completely surrounded by water that I call home.

One thing I learned quickly after moving here is that this place is very wet.  And by that I do not mean precipitation.  I mean as in "more bars in one square mile that you have probably ever seen in your life".  (Ah the joys of being a tourism destination! is what it is.)  But seriously, islanders, real born & raised islanders, can drink like nobody's business.  (And according to the ad appearing on our local cable access station we also have an amazingly large amount of AA meetings for such a small town.  But I'm sure that's just a coincidence.) A few years ago when I was still working at the Casino Ballroom, one of the local high school all-class reunions was held there.  An all-class or even multi-class reunion is not unusual for a small school, my high school had one a few years back too.  But at this event, on this one night, generations of islanders from the most recent crop of graduates all the way back to their grandparents were drinking together.  Of course there was food, and music, and dancing too.  But all I can remember from a blur of a very long night is filling tray after tray with empty glasses and beer cans, it seemed like we were clearing the empties off the tables mere moments after the cocktail servers set 'em down full. Out of a few years in that job and countless events worked, that stands out as one of the most exhausting - on par with New Year's Eve. 

So knowing all this it should come as no surprise that along with having our own endemic plants and animals, it's only reasonable that we should have our own cocktail - right? So without further ado, I give you (insert drumroll here): 

The Buffalo Milk

According to all local lore I've gathered in the past ten years, this particular concoction originated at a bar & restaurant located at the Isthmus, at the west end of the island.  You can get it anywhere on island now, but some people still think the best ones are made where the first ones were.  (And maybe they've got good reason for using the slogan "the west end is the best end".)  It's basically alcoholic dessert in a cup and ridiculously popular on hot sunny days, when it's gotta be the worst thing to be consuming.  I can't imagine what the calories are but if you've got a mind to give it a try, here's a recipe for you:
  • 1/4 shot Creme de Cacao, dark
  • 1/4 shot Creme de Cacao, white
  • 1/2 shot Kahlua
  • 1 shot Vodka
  • 1/2 shot Cream
  • 1/2 piece Banana
  • Nutmeg
  • Whipped cream
  • Ice
Blend ice with cream, banana, and alcohol until smooth. Pour into glass, top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

If you decide try it - let me know what you think!

Monday, March 3, 2008

With a scoop on top!

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging for an important announcement:

I gots a prezzie today! Woo hoo!

I went downtown today to run a few errands and while I was there I picked up my mail.  I was surprised to see a yellow card in my box, I really wasn't expecting anything.  (In this town, getting a "yellow card" in your box with the rest of your mail means, "Hey you!  You've got something too big for us to fold, crumple, and squeeze into your little post office box. So hustle your bustle up to the window and get it!") It was lunch time in the land of the worker bees and the line to the post office window was a little long.  Normally I'd have figured it was just a fat catalog and let it wait for another day. But I was picking up someone else's mail also, and they had a yellow card too.  So I pulled out my knitting and got in line. (I do this at the bank also - it helps!) 

To my great surprise the nice post office lady handed me a package with a familiar name on the return address.  My ravelry friend and wonderful assassin, Jamie!  I mean, I already scored a beautifully knitted hat with an extra special touch (this is no small thing, I got very lucky - many hat attack participants were not experienced knitters and along with those new to dpns, long-tail cast on, and/or cables, there was a virtual epidemic of "teeny tiny beanie syndrome") - what else could she be sending me?

That is not just one, but two skeins of Lamb's Pride!  Squeeeee!!! A purple/blue worsted and a green bulky.  I can't think of any shade on the purple to blue spectrum that I wouldn't love and that green?  So perfect to go with either of the two cold weather jackets I usually wear - the green one or the brown one.  And oh, if I could find a pattern to double strand it with the brown bulky LP I picked up at Stitches??? Mmmmmm......'scuse me, I'm startin' to drool. (And that's bad for my laptop.)

She included a really nice, funny note explaining her theory of Yarn Karma (the woman had bedrooms full of yarn - really???) and why she sent it, including my recent b-day. I like the idea of yarn karma and I've always been a big believer in the idea of karma in general. Or in my way of looking at it - you get out of it what you put in and people get what they deserve.  Works for me, and if enough other people thought the same, the world could really be a friendlier, nicer place - doncha think?

On any given day, I already feel incredibly blessed and fortunate. But something like this?  A scoop of sweet creamy vanilla ice cream on the delicious tasty pie that is my life.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

First Socks

Yes, I can proudly announce that I have knitted my first sock:

And I realize now that I should have put a penny or something else in the photo for scale! It's the itty-bitty Lacy Baby Sock, by Wendee Shulsen-Wienker of Hazel Knits, using the pattern & sample mini-skein given out in the goodie bags at the Bobbins Nest Studio party on Stitches West weekend. So altogether now - awwwwwwwwww.......

Unfortunately, I ran out of yarn partway through the foot on itty-bitty sock #2, so I'm either going to have to get more of the Bobbins Nest Studio colorway (which I would love to have but after Stitches West the yarn budget is blown for the forseeable future) or rib back on itty-bitty sock #1 (including undoing my first kitchener *wimper*) to get enough yarn for the foot of itty-bitty sock #2, and then scrounge up a bit of fingering yarn in a coordinating color so they'd have matching itty-bitty toes.

It's a great little pattern and I know I'll use it again. It's not like there's a shortage of babies popping out in this town! (Dudes, seriously - do not sit on the toilet seats and maybe don't drink the water - I'm just sayin') I've got leftover yarn from the baby blanket I did for the PLAY auction, and I think if I could find or engineer a baby hat pattern to match, I'd be ready for any & all future baby showers. (And no D, Prima will not wear these socks - a crying shame since it's really a great color for her!)

But the other great thing about this pattern and the project was that it took me through all the skills necessary for knitting socks, and in a very short amount of time. So flushed with success from my first sock efforts (please note, running out of yarn constitutes a failure of the equipment, not the knitter), I am ready to dive into the world of knitting socks. I am armed with a copy of Ann Budd's, "Getting Started Knitting Socks" and a set of dpns that can do double duty as toothpicks. I only need one more thing.