Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Two Finished Projects!

The advantage of working on several projects at once is that when you pick up one you've had going for awhile, you discover that it's almost finished. That's how I have finished so many things lately, and these two items are among the projects I have finished recently.
The first is the copycat Reese Witherspoon Sweet Home Alabama wrap. It's the first and so far the only project I've done without a pattern. I had some help from Lucille, and it finally came out ok. I had to start over a couple of times to get the needle size (10) and stitch choices (stockinette, seed stitch, yo increases) right, and then I had to start the finish over three times. That's my own fault; I decided that the instructions were so easy that I didn't need to read them.

I had to have an angled end, and on my first try, I started the decreases at the stockinette (top) of the wrap. Nope. The angle was going the wrong way.

Second try: I did the yarnovers on the right side, the decreases on the wrong side. Hmmmm...Odd that the edge is all wobbly.....What's causing that?

So then I read the instructions. Ooops. On the right side, when I did the yarnovers, I needed to knit two together so I wasn't increasing a stitch. What I had been doing was on the right side, increasing one stitch and on the wrong side, decreasing one stitch. Hence the wobbly-ness.

So on the third try, I got it. Whew.

It's finished and blocked and I'm quite happy with it. After I show it off at knit night tomorrow, I'll ship it to younger daughter.

The second project is my sparkly scarf. I love all things sparkly, so I especially love this. Knitting with sequins on the yarn is a little tricky, but just takes patience (which I didn't use to have, but knitting is encouraging me to learn).

Can you see the sparklies???

And on the bad side, Cat has peed on the laundry room floor two nights in a row. We thought he had stopped, but he was just messing with us. Rats...

Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm Nothing if Not Generous

And that’s why I’m sharing this little-known information with you.

From *A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson:

Your skin cells are all dead. It’s a somewhat galling notion to reflect that every inch of your surface is deceased. If you are an average-sized adult you are lugging around about five pounds of dead skin, of which several billion tiny fragments are sloughed off each day. Run a finger along a dusty shelf and you are drawing a pattern very largely in old skin.

Well, that puts a whole new spin on dusting.


Oh, no, no, no. No need to thank me. You’re welcome!

(Photo NOT taken at my house)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Elizabeth's Hat

My poor, sniffly self needed an immediate-gratification project and this is it. It's a hat for Elizabeth, knit from Seacoast handpainted yarn (Raymond, New Hampshire). It is called Panda, Thistle colorway, and it is 60% merino wool, 30% bamboo, and 10% nylon. I doubled the strands, since it is sockweight yarn, to see what would happen with the colors. Instead of getting straight stripes, I got this cloud-like blend of colors. I think it's pretty! I pulled the strands, one from the inside of the ball, and one from the outside, and somehow the colors were almost the same in the same spots. But there was just enough blending to make it interesting to knit. The bottom few rows are in seed stitch; the rest is stockinette.

Now back to some of my longer-term projects....

Monday, September 21, 2009

Please, Make It Stop!

The rain gauge in our yard has recorded 15" of rain so far, just since last Thursday, and it's still raining.

Actually, it's pouring, and thundering, and lightning. And it's dark all day, every day. It is starting to feel sort of end-of-worldish.

Supposedly, in the world of Men are From Mars; Women are from Venus (whichever way that goes), one of the differences between men and women is that when women have a problem they want to talk about it, have someone say they understand, sympathize, blah, blah, blah but men want to solve the problem.

So I asked dh to please make the rain stop. He said OK.

But it's still raining...........

Sunday, September 20, 2009

As the Heel Turns

Finally! I have turned the heel on this second sock of the pair I started in June. JUNE!

I’m now working on the gusset, and then I’ll be in the home stretch. Socks are my carry-along project, and this pair is taking the longest of any pair I have ever made. But now I have a motive to get them finished; I need the yarn for a project I started for older daughter, this center of a circular blanket made from leftover sock yarn:

I say I started it, but that’s not entirely accurate. The reason I volunteered to do it for older daughter is that it is nearly impossible to do, and I always like a challenge. It’s a chance to learn something.

But in this case, what I learned is that I can’t do it. I tried, over and over and over. I took the yarn and size 2 double point needles to knit night last Thursday to take advantage of the advice and help from the knitters who have already started these blankets. The center of the blanket requires a circular cast-on, which everyone says is really difficult, so difficult that they advised me to instead make a crochet chain of nine loops, and then attach the beginning and end of the chain to make a circle. From there I needed to pick up nine stitches with the double point needles. And then start knitting yarn-overs? Yarn-overing? Making yarn-overs? Doing yarn-overs? OK, it’s like this….
K1, yo, K1, yo….and so on until there are eighteen stitches.

Only I couldn’t do any of it past the making a circle of nine loops. I spent about an hour and a half struggling with it. Ever try to yo between dp needles??? I say it can’t be done, but Lucille, bless her heart and soul, took over and got me started. Now I can work on it since there are more stitches and I’ve rearranged them so that NO yarn-overs are between the needles.

Once it is large enough to fit on 16-inch size 2 circular needles, I’m mailing it off to older daughter. It’s a great project because it requires little attention, and with four children in her life, she sometimes can only devote partial attention to knitting. It will be beautiful when it’s finished – all the different yarns randomly used throughout the blanket make for a one-of-a-kind, colorful project.

Have fun, H!

Friday, September 18, 2009


I love language, and I am always fascinated by words, especially when I learn of a new (to me) use of a word.

Last night I learned a new word: Murder.

No, not that murder. Of course I know that word. I watch the news. This murder refers to a group or flock of crows! I learned this from knitting buddy, SallyKnit, at last night's knit night. (Hi Sally!) and I am fascinated by it. How did murder come to mean a flock of crows???

Now I'm off to research this....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

One Red Shoe

This is the cute shoe I found under the bed in the guest room yesterday when I was pulling out my old blocking board in order to store my new blocking squares and wires from Knit Picks there. When I pulled out the board, this single shoe was on it.

I checked with younger daughter, and the shoe is hers. She said she had wondered where they had gone. If she can find the other shoe, I will mail this one to her.

She moved to LA three,THREE, years ago this month. What finding this shoe yesterday says about my cleaning prowess I don't know.

I'm not going to think about it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Oh Rats! Oh Rats! Oh Rats!

My cat just killed, well almost killed, but close enough for horseshoes and hand-grenades, a beautiful male goldfinch. He brought it to the back door, where it is lying, breathing its last breaths.

Maybe the cat meant it as an apology for all the out-of-the-litterbox peeing he has been doing lately, but I would just prefer he use the litterbox, thank you very much. No nearly-dead birds!

I know that this is what cats do, but I hate, hate, hate that they do this.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mistakes Were Made, Again

My older daughter, the writer/copy-editor, calls that sentence an example of the use of the past exonerative verb tense. (There is no such tense, but I like the idea of it.) No one MADE the mistakes; mistakes were MADE (not by me, not by you, not by anyone apparently. They just happened! Really!)

So that's what I'm claiming about the hole you see in this scarf I'm making. It is the Ripple Scarf from Luxury Yarn One-Skein Wonders: 101 Small Indulgences. I had said that I would never make this scarf again. I had said that I would never work with black yarn again because of this sweater, which I long ago attempted to make in black mohair. And yet, here I am, again, making the scarf from h*ll with not one, but two, black yarns knit together, the perfect storm of misery.

I had been zipping right along, making no mistakes, and feeling that I had conquered the pattern that was so deceptively easy that making mistakes had just been too easy the first time I attempted the scarf. And suddenly, I looked at the whole of what I had knitted, and there it was...

the huge hole.....

How had it gotten there? Obviously, I had dropped a stitch, but then how did I have the correct number of stitches to work the pattern from that point on? I had counted each row...twenty stitches...and just kept on knitting. It's a mystery.

I was going to shove the whole thing in its project bag and take to to the LYS on Wednesday, when Jan, our Yoda, is there to solve problems for us. But then I thought that if I am, as I sometimes claim, a process knitter more than I am a product knitter, why should I object to taking the rows out? Certainly that's what Jan would tell me to do (or offer to do for me, not that I'm intimidated by ripping out lace or anything). And if I don't mind knitting, stitch by stitch, why should I mind un-knitting, stitch by stitch?

So I did, and it took about forty minutes to go back the five or six rows I had knit after the dropped stitch. I had been warned by another knitter when I picked out the sequined yarn that I had better be careful with the knitting because frogging it back was difficult with the sequins getting caught in stitches. How much fun was ripping this back? Exactly none. My knitting friend was right.

But in another twenty minutes or so, I re-knit the rows I had frogged, and now the scarf looks just fine. But I am being really, really careful from now on.

And I still don't know how I continued to knit, having the correct number of stitches for the lace pattern, when I had a dropped stitch unravelling.

And I'm sticking with the past exonerative tense. It just happened, all by itself. Really!

Friday, September 11, 2009

I Might Be Simple-Minded

My family would ask "Might be?" but don't listen to them.

But why do I think I might be?

Because I’ve just been watching my washing machine….again. It has a clear top, so I can look in while the machine is running...and I do. I’m trying to figure out how it works. It’s a top-loading front washer and it is a mystery to me. I put the clothes in (in heaps, per the instructions) and the soap in, and the washer sprays in a small amount of water, then spins really, really fast, then suddenly stops, sprays in some more water, and on it goes, repeating the whole process for almost half the cycle. Then the drum wobbles back and forth, then spins, then……never mind, it’s boring, I know. But so far, it works just fine, and I am convinced that there might be magic involved.

The instruction book says that this washer has an “invisible agitator.” I am not making this up – an invisible agitator. Doesn’t that mean it doesn’t exist, since something like that can’t really be invisible???

A friend of mine wants me to put in intentionally-soiled items: an old towel with blueberry and strawberry stains, a cloth with salad dressing on it, and the like. A pop quiz for the washer. But if I am to believe that there is such a thing as an invisible agitator, then I would just prefer to believe there is magic involved.

So, no pop quiz, and I’m off to resume watching the laundry….

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Well, cool for what they are: portable outhouses!

They are at a three-day Art in the Park festival in Marietta, Georgia. There were glass artists, painters, photographers, jewelry artists, basket-weavers, shaker box makers, and what did I take pictures of? Outhouses, of course!

And There are More!

Are the interiors similarly painted? Couldn't say. We admired them from afar.....
because.....maybe Mona Lisa is right:

Friday, September 4, 2009


Not as much fun as you would think.

We are in, I hope, the final stages of mission creep. You know about mission creep, right? It's when you do one project (new countertops) and then realize you need to do another one (backsplash) and then a neighbor comes over and says: You should paint that door to the deck black so that it continues the color into the family room. Hmmmmm..... you think....what a great idea!

And then you try painting it. Sand it lightly so the primer coat goes on. Check.

Paint the first coat of the black paint....uh, oh, why is it sort of bubbling up? Too humid to paint? Maybe it will dry out better. (Sort of like blocking out knitting problems, you hope)

Nope. Didn't work. Take the door off the hinges and put it on the deck to sand. (Should have done that to begin with, really.)

Dh starts sanding and notices that the paint is gumming up in the sandpaper. Rats. Sands down to bare wood.

Paint door with primer....again.

Paint door with black paint.....again.

Paint second coat....and watch the paint sort of gum up.

There is paint on the glass, paint on me, and paint on the deck (oooops).

I'm sticking a fork in it and calling it done.

I give up.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mea Culpa

or My Bad, whichever you prefer.

I admit it. I almost never, well, really, never make gauge swatches. I agree with the Yarn Harlot who said in one of her books that sometimes the item itself can be the gauge swatch: a pocket, a sleeve, whatever. I say that the item itself ( if I actually bothered to check gauge on the item itself) can always be the gauge swatch, and since I usually knit wraps and scarves, I haven't been caught at this omission....until now.

I promised younger daughter that I would make her this hat:
and I did. But the pattern (from One Skein Wonders: 101 Yarn Shop Favorites) called for size 6 double-point needles. I don't have size 6, but I do have size 7, and, I thought, how much difference could the extra half millimeter in needle circumference really make?

So when my daughter called and asked how she could shrink the hat - could she wash it? - I knew the jig was up (whatever that means) and I had been found out. I didn't admit what I had done, just told her to gently rinse the hat in coolish water in the sink and allow it to dry.

I sure hope it works and the hat fits. Otherwise, I think I will be frogging the whole thing, buying size 6 needles, and knitting it again.


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

fire water burn

I have borrowed this post from my younger daughter, who is just about at the three-year anniversary of moving to LA. The fires burning now are the worst she has seen since she has lived there. We check with her every day to see how it is affecting her-she has had to get an inhaler to breathe normally now because the smoke and particulates in the air are so heavy.
Anyway, here is her take on it and a link to some time lapse photography of the smoke.

i still have not adjusted to fires. i know they are a fact of life in southern california, but to me, it is a complete oddity to be driving around with smoke filling the air around you.

tonight's drive home from work was the best/worst of it yet. more of the hills are on fire and it is more visible from where i am. the smoke is filling all of the hills north of me, and almost every ridge is filled with spots of flames. what's unfathomable to me is that they keep saying, "this would be so much worse if the santa anas were blowing. if they were, this would be the true disaster that we've been predicting."

and because it's so odd to me, i don't see how the city keeps on functioning. in my mind, we should all be standing outside just watching. or if i had my way, i'd be up on one of the high floors in one of my mid-wilshire buildings watching.

i can't imagine that just 20 miles north of me, people are losing every thing they own. that the landscape is being scorched. that firefighters are waging what has become an unending battle against the flames. every day we wake up and find out it has only gotten worse in the night. i'm trying to find some good side, and I’m not able to.

Check here for the time-lapse photography. It's pretty frightening.
And here for this morning's pictures from my daughter's blog.