Thursday, August 31, 2006

Maybe it's the way I hold my tongue...

Weird! Today the Doppelganger must be asleep, because the pics uploaded without any trouble at all. Isn't The Bean a cutie? And the Sock it to Me yarn is gorgeous. I have added about three inches to the foot since taking that picture. I haven't been knitting a whole lot these past few days.

On the exercise front, I failed to mention in my rant (see previous post) that I substituted walking for the running-on-the-treadmill that I was "supposed" to do. The only muscle pain that is nagging at me (so far) is from doing the scissor leg lifts. They were relatively easy to do - for an old out of shape lump like me - but oh, the soreness. I was expecting to experience soreness in my arms, shoulders and back because of the little dumb-bell routines I've been doing, but so far all is well. I appreciated the comments from Hege and Beverly. It's always wonderful to be encouraged.

Tomorrow the Curmudgeon and The Good Son and I are planning a day-trip to Baker, Oregon. (It's officially named 'Baker City' now, but when C. And I grew up there, it was - and ever will be, in our minds at least - 'Baker'. Furthermore, we weren't consulted regarding the name change!)
I am looking forward to seeing the town again - it's been over 10 years since we've visited there, which is odd, given that it really isn't so far away. But life is busy, ya know? I imagine there will be lots of changes - lots of 'revoltin' developments' for us to curl our lips at. Have I mentioned that C. And I sometimes lapse into Old Foggy Mode?

I'll try to remember to take along the camera and maybe the Doppelganger will allow me to post a pic or two with my next post.

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Doppelganger and a Rant!

Well, today is one of those days when the computer is refusing to upload images to my post. I have a cute picture of The Bean - 2 days after her ninth birthday, and a pic of the gorgeous Sock It To Me yarn sent to me by my blogger friend. I'll try again later and see if the anti-image doppelganger is still in force.

Now, ready? I have a rant. For some time I've been looking for some kind of exercise program that would fit in with my weight, age, sedentary nature and natural inclination to not move. Every plan I've found has included exercises that I can't even begin to do... push-ups? no. Pull-ups? no. Abdomen curls? no. I am remarkably out of shape. But I want to be more active and figure if I start small, with appropriate work-outs, I can progress. Seems reasonable, right? Well, last week I read about a site that advertised trainer-tailored plans for anyone. Even me?

After reading their user agreement - which took about 25 minutes I signed up and among other things, I told them my age, my weight, my health issues and the fact that I don't belong to a gym. I opted for the plan to become more lean. (Choices were loose weight, become stronger, or develop more endurance. Actually, I need all of those, but I expected that if I could work off some of my weight, the other two would be positively affected.)

Boom. Back came my exercise plan and the first thing on it, the "warm up"? Run on a treadmill for 6 minutes at a moderate pace. Now, what's wrong with this picture? (Also included in the plan for that day were exercises involving a weight bench, an exercise ball and a pull-up bar.) First of all, I don't think anyone in their right mind would expect that someone my age and weight would be able to run for any length of time. Second of all, do they expect everyone to own a treadmill (or an elliptical machine), a weight bench, an exercise ball and a pull-up bar? Surely I'm not the only obese, almost-60-year-old woman with diabetes and high blood pressure who wants an exercise plan to loose weight, become stronger and have more endurance, and doesn't have a home gym set up in the family room.

I sent them a message asking what on earth were they thinking? But haven't heard back from them.

Ok, rant over. On the plus side, I decided to take matters into my own hands and devised a simple exercise plan for myself and I also called the care line here in Idaho to request their packet on exercises for oldsters... Both things I ought to have done many moons ago. I did my plan in excel - wish I knew how to show it here in my post, but I don't. If anyone is wondering...I also am trying very hard to improve my eating/diet.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Roses and Yarn and Birthdays

Sunday morning we left the house to go for a very early ride and as we came out, I looked back at the house and saw the first rays of sunlight shining on our little front porch. See the Adirondack chair at the far left? That's where I usually take knitting/yarn pics and also where I sit outside to watch the sky at 0-dark thirty nearly every morning. The Big Black Dog (Kiwi) comes out with me so she can play fetch in the dark. (She's awfully good at finding her ball when it bounces weird and gets away from her.)

The Curmudgeon has taken such good care of the roses this summer. They are all blooming like mad right now.

I forgot to mention yesterday when I was talking about my internet 'friends' that a very exciting event occurred last week. I had been reading here, and the blog writer had a little contest. She invited readers to guess where she and her family were going on vacation, and her hints were: 1) they intended to go canoeing and 2) there weren't many yarn shops there. My first guesses were already taken, so I guessed my home state, Idaho. We have gorgeous lakes and rivers for canoeing (but we're famous for our white water river stretches) and there aren't many yarn shops in Idaho. Nobody guessed the correct state, but the blog writer had her children pick names out of a hat and mine was one of two names picked. She had promised a 'knitterly' prizes and I don't know what I expected (maybe a tape measure?...knitters seem to be unable to find tape measures when needed), but the prize that came in the mail just blew me away! Two lovely skeins of "Sock it to Me!" yarn and home-made stitch markers made by my blogger friend herself! The yarn is gorgeous...Variegated with watermelon pink, fuschia, purple, orange-pink and a little sky blue for good measure.

I couldn't help myself...I immediately cast on for Wendy's toe-up feather and fan socks. Which meant that I had to do a provisional cast on. I've done that kind of a cast on a few times in the past, but still feel anxiety about it. After a couple of false starts it went smoothly and the toe is done plus a wee bit of the foot. I'm using U.S. size 1 needles. I usually use size 2 needles for socks, and I've noticed that the #1's are harder on my hands. Oh well. Live and learn, right?

Today is The Bean's ninth birthday. How can she be nine already? She is a fledgling knitter... We use this little rhyme for knit stitches:

"In through the front door, run around the back. Peek through the window & out jumps Jack."

Does anyone know a rhyme for purl stitches?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Just What I needed

I've been away... Not physically, but spirit-wise I suppose you could say. Not very much knitting going on, but lots of other stuff. Among which is that I've been thinking about life and where I am right now in my life journey (hopefully the journey isn't ending any time real soon). And, I've found some inspiration and direction - along with a whole bunch of other neat things - through the internet.

Nearly every day I try to check on all my favorite blogs (most of which are knitting blogs), and the list grows as my 'usual' blogs refer to other blogs and when I check them out I find that they are inspirational or funny or interesting or whatever. So, I add them to my favorites list (which remains un-organized and apparently un-organizable) ... You can see the semi-viscous circle of semi-exponential proportions can't you? But I digress.

A little history: I learned to knit when I was about 14. My best friend and I wanted to learn to knit to fulfill some sort of badge thing through the youth group at our church. There was a lady in our congregation who agreed to teach us to knit. Under her tutelage we went to the LYS and bought yarn and needles and then she had us knit a sweater - everything from casting on to ribbing to stockinette, decreasing, button bands, the whole nine yards. After that I knit quite a bit through the rest of high school and college, but my creative and crafty energies drifted off to other endeavors about the time I got married. I did knit a couple of sweaters and vests for the Curmudgeon, but I never did knit anything for the kids. And then, I didn't knit at all. For many years.

About three or four years ago my health deteriorated to the point that just going to work each day became pretty much the limit of my energy and ability. I had to give up being the choir director at church, I quit going to my weekly group with a few wonderful friends, I quit shopping, I hardly socialized. And depression set in. I'm not talking about the "I-feel-'blue'-today" variety. (There are few good things that came of this change in life style, but mostly it was and remains a time of loss.)

I no longer had the energy to sew and my eyes had gotten so old that counted X-stitch was out. I needed something to do that I could do sitting in my favorite chair, and also something that would provide some calm in my life. Knitting was a logical and welcome choice. (I was totally unaware that there was a knitting revival going on across the land, and specifically a sock-knitting revival.) The Curmudgeon took me to the LYS and I told the lady that I wanted to knit socks. I had chosen socks because knitting two socks would take much less time than knitting a sweater, and I knew I would need some sooner-than-later gratification, and I had never knit socks before and wanted to learn to do something new with my rusty knitting skills.

And the rest, as they say, is history. Except for the internet. As I was knitting one of those first pairs of socks, I googled on 'hand knit socks' and found Wendyknits and was introduced to the whole world of blogging. I had never even heard of blogs before. Every day I would look forward to reading Wendy's blog and then one day I noticed that she had a list of other blogs on her side bar. Other blogs!!?!

Now, as I said earlier, I have literally dozens of blogs I try to check every day, and since being fired from my job last December (just two weeks before Christmas!), I usually have the blog-reading time I want. (But, I sure wish my computer would tell me when there's a new post on one of "my" blogs so I wouldn't have to go to each one every time to see if there are posts I haven't read...)

I've found the most amazing group of "friends" through blog-land. Not that any of them (or, hardly any of them) know me or reciprocate the friendship. After all, I haven't been blogging myself for very long, and I've been way too shy to leave comments until quite recently. But I've met guys who knit, grannies who knit, young mothers who knit, famous authors who knit, knitting gurus who knit (that's redundant, isn't it?), re-born knitters like me, irreverent knitters, speedy knitters, slower-than-molasses knitters (I especially like them) and totally un-characterizable knitters. They have all become important to me - they're my circle of friends. I follow their knitting adventures and mis-adventures, their domestic situations and life styles...I have met their children, parents, friends, spouses, partners and even their pets. And, each one of them enriches my life in his or her unique way. Recently I found another 'new to me' blog and this post. And, it was just what I needed to read.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Am I beginning to "Get It"?

Although I have been dreaming of new socks (and thinking about the coming cold weather and the need for more pairs of warm socks), I have continued to work on my Rosebud Shawl. It's going much better than the last time I wrote about it. And, I think I'm beginning to get a glimmer of understanding about lace knitting...

I've only knit two lace projects before Rosebud. In each of those projects (both scarves) the lacey pattern was quite apparent after just one pattern repeat, and neither pattern bunched-up very much. So, as I knitted along, I could see progress and design with nearly every row. Rosebud, on the other hand, just looks mostly like a jumbled snarl of yarn. You can only see a hint of the pattern if you stretch-out the knitting and hold it up to the light, and then you can only see a small patch of knitting that looks like it has a plan. Part of my glimmer of understanding here is that lace knitting requires faith and that it will turn out to be at least somewhat like the picture of the FO on the pattern, and patience to keep on knitting until you can block it.

Also, I've noticed that the more I knit, the more I tend to fool-around with any given pattern. In this case, I'm adding several pattern repeats to the first section of the shawl - which will result in a longer shawl. In the pattern, when you finish the first section you are one fourth of the way through the shawl. (In musical terms, this is an 'ABBA' design. The two 'A' sections are identical and the middle 'B' sections are each equal in lenth to one 'A' section.) When I reached the point in the pattern where the first 'A' section was to be finished, I looked at my little jumble of weird knitting and decided that the shawl wasn't going to be nearly long enough. I'm a big lady, after all. I stretched it lenghwise and it was about 18" long, which would result in a shawl approximately 72" long after blocking. Since I want the shawl to be a bit longer than that, I'm adding several pattern repeats to this section. And that means, of course, that I will add a few pattern repeats to the middle section and to the final section as well, to keep the ratio of A's and B's correct.

There just isn't enough knitting time in the day for me. I want to knit so many things. As I said, I'm dreaming of socks and also thinking about the second Fair Isle mitten to do, and I really want to work on a Fair Isle project on circular needles (a hat? A bag?) before I try to tackle a whole sweater knit in Fair Isle. Maureen remains my inspiration... And to make matters even more frustrating, I find that sometimes I just have to set the knitting aside and do something else for a while, even if it is during my 'knitting' time. Aaughhhh!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Could I please have some cheese with my whine?

After finishing the vineyard stripeys, I really wanted to start something entirely new (you know how I am...), but I disciplined myself and picked up the Rosebud shawl I started for Amazing Lace. Yesterday. Want to know how many rows I've completed? Well, I've knit about 12 rows and un-knit about 15 rows. You do the math. Is this even possible? I can't figure out why I'm having such a hard time. There is one mistake in the printed pattern (the last stitch in row 5 is incorrect), but I figured that out the first time through. And, I'm counting the number of stitches between markers for each pattern repeat to make sure that I'm not goofing it up, but somehow I still manage to keep making 'mistrakes'. Of course, Pookie was here yesterday - that may have had something to do with it. (But today has been no better.)

Is this a SIGN that I really do need to start something new? Oh, probably not. So I shall persevere.

Every day when I sign on to the computer I check all the knit blogs that I read, and I keep finding more outstanding blogs that I keep adding to my list. (Knit bloggers are the best.) And this very wonderful plenitude of interesting/funny/informative/moving knit blogs takes a long time to go through...And that brings me to a confession:

I can't figure out how to add a list of my favorite blogs to my sidebar. I'm such a dork. And a complaint...

I've lost the ability to organize my favorites...Every time I try, the computer says it's "loading", and there it stays. Forever. I would really like to get all my knit blogs into one folder, and all my how-to web sites and individual blog postings that illustrate or explain a technique into another folder, etc., but MSN refuses to allow me to organize them. I've looked and looked for a way to contact MSN to see if they can help me with this, but every time I try to contact them, I get their help site in German. Does anyone else out there have these kinds of problems? Or, is it true that my computer really is possessed? Maybe I should festoon my computer with garlic or something.

Boy, I sure am full of the grumpies today aren't I? Sorry. I'll just stop now before it gets worse. Happy week end everyone.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Another sighting (!) ...

... Of UFOs that is. This maroon sock is an adaptation of a pattern found in the Summer 2000 issue of Interweave Knits (Traveler's Stockings). It's written to fit an "average woman's foot", but since I have larger-than-average-women's-feet, I took it up a couple of needle sizes (from size 0 to size 2). I'm also doing short row heels instead of the heel flap type in the pattern. Another adaptation is that the pattern calls for some stitch decreases as you work down the leg toward the ankle, and I used fewer stitch decreases because I have heavy ankles. Oh, sigh.

For some reason knitting these socks is very hard on my hands and wrists, so I put them aside (quite a few months ago) to work on something easier on my old arthritic joints. How do I like this pattern? Well, I like the smaller band of cuff-pattern you get when you knit on size 0 (looking at the picture in the magazine). If I ever knit this pattern again I will most likely try to alter the pattern itself instead of just increasing the needle size. I've tried the sock on though (as much as I can at this stage), and it fits well, feels right and looks OK.

On the Vineyard Stripeys, I've gotten all the way around the heel of sock #2, so it's all downhill from here. Woo Hoo!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Is my computer possessed?

Yesterday I couldn't upload images to save my soul and today it's working just fine. I have no idea what I was doing wrong yesterday or what I'm doing correctly today... But I won't complain!

I spent the better part of yesterday re-organizing my knitting notebook (which was so stuffed I don't think I could have added even one more sheet of paper). The curmudgeon had brought home three colorful 3-ring binders, and they are now the proud holders of gobs of Very Important Knitting Information. I'm one of those people who learn more easily from reading something than by seeing it done, so over the last few years (since becoming a re-born knitter) I've down-loaded and printed everything from knitting tips and how-tos to patterns and general information. It was really good for me to go through everything yesterday - I had forgotten about many print-outs, and discovered some gorgeous patterns that I didn't remember at all. I guess that's one good thing about older age and memory loss...When you go through stuff it can be almost like Christmas - lots of good surprises.

I read in Spiderwoman's blog today that she is beginning to suspect that blogging about UFOs is a jinx: once she posts about a project it frequently gets relegated to the pile of UFOs in the closet. For me, it works pretty much the opposite. When I post about a project, I am re-enthused about it and want to work on it. And I really want to finish it so I can move on to another project (with less guilt). For instance, right now, I'm down the ankle rows on the second Vineyard Stripey and I can't wait to finish it because I have some purple-dress-red-hat sock yarn and I can't wait to start the feather and fan socks a la Wendy. (Not to mention all the other UFOs that have been calling seductively to me...)

Today will be the ninth day in a row that Boise has had 100-plus degree temperatures, and tomorrow's high is forecast to be 99 so we might break the 9-day record (set in 2003, I think). Next Monday it is supposed to be down to 86 for a high. I can't wait. I woke up early (very early) this morning and went outside to sit in my favorite chair (well, it's the only chair) on the front porch and it was a balmy 73 degrees out there at 4:10 AM. I noticed that Baker City, my old home town had a 56 degree temp at 6:00 when I caught the local news and weather. But Ontario was 77 (!) so I shouldn't complain. I'm not, I'm not.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

One down, one to go

Well, duh...the problem with mittens is they're just like socks. You finish one, you feel so good because it's an FO, right? And then reality kicks in and you realize that now you have to knit another one! (I'm having trouble with uploading images to the blog - but trust me, I did finish mitten #1)

Also finished the vineyard stripey sock and am more than half-way down the cuff of sock #2.

One thing I have to say about having multiple, simultaneous projects on needles is that you need to keep meticulous notes regarding just exactly where you are in the pattern and what modifications, if any, you have made. Picking up a UFO after several weeks (or...months) really tests the old noggin, and those notes are necessary. And the better your notes are, the more easily you can pick-up the project and keep knitting. Several times in the past I have avoided UFOs because I had had a foggy recollection that I made changes to the pattern or didn't keep track of "things" the way I should have and didn't have complete-enough notes to get myself back in the stitchin' saddle again. Ah, well. It's all part of the learning process, isn't it?

One of the reasons that I'm so obsessed with knitting is that I've realized how much more there is to learn about knitting than I ever guessed. (I love to learn new things!) And the internet makes it so easy! We only have one decent LYS here in Boise and it is clear across town. If I had to drive over there every time I had a question or needed help, I would just give up I think. But all I have to do is google on the problem or technique and within minutes I can usually find very specific and helpful directions to get me past the hurdle.

Well, wish me luck. I'm going to try again to upload those pics. If they don't appear, you'll know what happened.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Is this Roswell? Sure are a lot of UFOs around here

I used to worry about my UFOs. Some people stash yarn ... I seem to stash UFOs... But now that I'm the ripe old age of 59 (as of yesterday), I've decided to look at the situation in a different way (I've actually been looking at it from different perspectives - read 'rationalizing' - for a long time.) The truth is, I just like to start projects more than I care about finishing them. There you have it. I love the new-project-excitement, the planning, the swatching, the pattern comparisons. I think I've mentioned this before...

So, anyway, above is a picture of Mina's Vest. (Mina is my oldest grand-daughter, usually referred to as "The Bean", and is going to turn nine years old next month.) It is being knit from Ram Wools' Cameo Cotton in color #10, which is actually a beautiful light aqua. My picture doesn't begin to do it justice. I am making-up the pattern, but borrowed the shell motif and the seed-stitch cable panel from Alice Starmore's Cape Cod in "Fishermen's Sweaters". I love that sweater! Couldn't quite see trying to knit one for myself - Ms. Starmore's sizes don't go that large, and the sweater already has 85 bazilion stitches in it to begin with, so trying to make it larger would really (totally) be daunting. The resulting compromise (my love of the pattern vs. my need to knit something more within my feeble abilities and attention span) is Mina's Vest. And, yes, I will need to finish it within the next 6 to 9 months or Mina will have outgrown it. But grand-daughter number two, Leslie Elaine ("Pookie") gives me at least two years in the unhappy event that I procrastinate beyond nine months or so.

It was 100 degrees yesterday and we are still living without our air-conditioning. Today's high is only predicted to be 95 - a cooling trend! Now that I learned (via The Yarn Harlot) that Lee Ann's surgery went very well, I can share that I've actually been very comfortable without air conditioning - just closing up the house in the mornings when the outside temp begins to rise, and using fans strategically placed throughout the house.

Remember the heel on Vineyard Stripey that I fouled up? Well, it got ripped and re-knit and I am now about a third of the way down the foot. Plain stockinette...Idiot-proof knitting. (Or so I hope.) ;-)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Knitting and reading - the fun never stops!

Above are photos of the Rosebud Shawl and the Vineyard Stripeys. You can see that my camera and I have issues. Not to mention that I keep forgetting how to save individual photos (after I've tweaked them to get them as clear and color-true as I can, which isn't very) in such a way that I can find them again and upload to the blog. Forgetfulness is a wonderful thing. Not.

Also, I can't figure out how to upload more than two photos to any given post. Or, if I ever knew, I've forgotten that, too.

Last night while watching "Dune" on DVD, I snarled up the heel on Vineyard stripey, so today it's un-knit, un-knit. Rip-it, rip-it. Usually, sock knitting is a no-brainer for me, but I shouldna-hadna-oughtna tackled a heel while sucked into Dune. (The DVD reminded me how much I've enjoyed reading the book many times in the past. Maybe it's time to read it again.) I have several favorite books I re-read every few years - Dune is one of them.

Also the Elswyth Thane Williamsburg novels (especially the first three or four) and Stephen King's "The Stand". And "Watership Down" by Richard Adams, "The Hobbit" and the trilogy by Tolkein, and all of Guy Gavriel Kay's novels. Sometimes I don't re-read entire books - just my favorite parts, but usually I start at the beginning and just read to the end. Hmmmm.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Drat you, Skippy!

Speaking of time-warp! I'm still trying to get accustomed to June-ness and here it is July! And, I've been too long away from writing (this blog). I have been in a funk and while in a funk I am easily discouraged. (Actually, I have an evil twin named Skippy and I think s/he has been in control these past weeks.)

In spite of the funk, I have been knitting and reading my favorite knitting blogs -- as well as discovering some new ones. One exciting thing that has happened is that I actually got a comment to one of my posts! Thank you, Antynin. What a smiley-spirit-lifter-upper that was. And when I shared the info on frogging (rip-it, rip-it), the Curmudgeon laughed so hard he nearly cried. (It doesn't take much to amuse us. What can I say?)

I have not knit any further on the Rosebud Shawl. Still bogged down with misgivings regarding the yarn color-pools and the cast-on edge.

Socks-on-needles -- I'm almost up to the the heel of sock #1 in the Vineyard colorway of Simple Stripes from KnitPicks. Just a plain-ol' ribbed-cuff sock a la Priscilla A. Gibson-Roberts' "Simple Socks - Plain and Fancy" (my sock bible). I am thinking about using Wendy's Generic Toe-Up Feather and Fan Sock pattern found here for my next pair of socks. (An opportunity for me to learn [again] how to do a provisional cast-on. Oh, sigh.)

And I'm nearly done with mitten #1 of the February mitten from "A Year of Mittens - A Monthly Celebraton" by Ann Swanson & Katie Nagorney. I have knit using two colors before, but hated it because my yarn always twisted into a snarl. (I hated it so much that I can't figure out why I bought the mitten patterns and yarn in the first place. About a year ago.) But I LOVE the look of Fair Isle, and following Wendy's advice while she was knitting Mara (back in June sometime), I just decided to jump in and try it (Just Do It!) again. Sometime after I started on mitten #1, exciting thing number two occurred: I heard about this site (from Maureen), and on the site, I discovered an excellent little video about how to knit Fair Isle while holding the two colors separately in one's two hands. No twisting! It felt awkward at first, but now feels almost "normal", and I am wanting these mittens to be done so that I can try a real Fair Isle project on circular needles. (The dpns required for mittens are challenging, in spite of the fact that I knit socks on dpns all the time and love doing them.) (Maureen also provided some wonderful advice and encouragement about knitting Fair Isles - Thank you, Maureen.)

And, finally, in hopes of attracting cosmic BAD KARMA on Lee Ann's behalf (see the Harlot's July 13 post), I would like to point out that our air condictioner konked out Thursday evening, just in time for our 100-degree-plus weekend. We're not getting it fixed any time soon.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

It's a Time Warp, I tell you!

How the heck can it be (almost) the middle of June already? Not only does time move faster the older you get, but May and especially June move at warp speed. I think it may be because I'm always thinking "If I don't get the (fill-in-the-blank) planted, they won't have time to bloom/produce this season." And, the days just scoot along anyway. And, yes, I do still have some planting to be done. Shame on me.

On the knitting front, the green stripey socks finally managed to jump into my hands and demand to be finished. I'm wearing them now. Oooo, Aaaaah. Very comfy and warm. (And we need the warm just now. Last night there was a tornado warning [!!!] for the Treasure Valley here in Idaho - none actually materialized - and, today the high is expected to be 69. It's rainy and grey outside - a perfect day for green stripeys.)

The green stripey yarn is "Parade" from Knit Picks in the forrest colorway. The yarn was advertised as getting 7-8 stitches to the inch on size 2 or 3 needles, but when it came in the mail, there was a nice note from Knit Picks explaining that between swatching and spinning/advertising, the yarn turned out to be a bit heavier. As I knit the socks, the yarn reminded me of 6 ply Regia. I ended up having to use four skeins to finish the socks. As you probably know, most sock patterns require 2 50 gram skeins, but I always buy 3 because I have big feet and I like my socks a bit longer than most patterns specify. If I purchase more Parade, I will probably buy 5 skeins so that I have plenty left over to re-knit the heels when they wear out.

My Rosebud shawl is relegated to a back burner while I decide what to do with it. I'm about nine inches into it and I'm afraid that when I block it, the cast-on edge is not going to be stretchy enough. I thought I had cast on very loosley, but I'm thinking now that I should have cast on using size 6 or 7 needles (and doing it loosley) to compensate for the side-ways stretchiness of the lace which is knitted on size 4 needles. And, to add to my dilema, I'm not really liking it a whole bunch. I think that is because of the yarn I chose... So I either have to rip it out and start over with a much looser cast-on edge, or chose another pattern, or chose another yarn (and another pattern?). More choices than my little brain can handle right now.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Why is it called "frogging"?

The good news is that the hand-wound center pull ball is working fine! The bad news is that five rows into the lace pattern on my "Rosebuds" shawl, I managed to create a giant snafu and ended up un-knitting, one stitch at a time, all the way back to the foundation row and starting over. If you had been listening very carefully Wednesday night you might have heard me quietly growling and snarling. The pattern repeat is only 12 rows, so I hadn't even thought of putting in a life-line yet. Now, having successfully worked through one and a half 12 row pattern repeats I think maybe I'm getting the hang of it. One way of keeping myself on track, is that every pattern repeat (horizontally), I check immediately to see if I have the correct number of stitches between markers.

"Why is she only one and a half times through the 12 row pattern?" you ask... Both Wednesday and Thursday I watched my just-turned-five-years-old grand-daughter, Pookie. (My love-name for her) Not much knitting got done. The knitting I got done Wednesday night after she left, turned out to be a snarl, as described above, and Thursday's time at the needles, in between approximately 85 million interruptions, was un-knitting. (By the way, why do knitters call this "frogging"? I've run info the term a lot, but never have knows the history of the term.) And, Friday I just vegged and napped - recovery time.

This whole Amazing Lace adventure is a learning experience, right? Well, I'm learning. To count stitches... Also, I'm beginning to suspect that the particular color-way I chose for this shawl might not be the best. I love the colors, but there is a lot of difference in the colored sections, as opposed to a yarn that varies between different intensities of the same color, or two or three closely related colors. The Stained Glass colorway varies from dark purple to bright turquoise, with magenta and pink. The way the colors are pooling as the pattern grows might end up subtracting from the beauty of the lace pattern. Just have to keep knitting and hope that the finished product will work.

Wednesday morning Pookie and I saw a hummingbird feeding at one of the feeders outside our big kitchen window. The little hummer had landed on the perch and stayed for a long time (measured by hummingbird standards). When she was finished drinking her sugar water, she cocked her tail the way birds do and went potty (!) before she zoomed away. Pookie laughed and laughed until I thought she was going to fall down. (Why do kids love bathroom humor so much?) I make sugar water for the hummers using a recipe I found here. Lots of good info if you're a hummer lover.

Also, as long as I'm talking about birds, yesterday I saw a pair of American Goldfinches at our sunflower-seed feeder. First ones I've seen this season. Our winter and spring flocks of chickadees and Oregon Juncos have moved on, it seems, and mostly the feeders are visited by house finches and sparrows these days. I saw a robin taking a bath in the big old bird-bath that our son hauled all the way from Seattle for me. (I've wanted a bird-bath for years...)

Back to knitting... Several projects that are waiting, on needles, are beginning to pout because I'm spending all my stitching time with the Rosebud shawl. My green-stripey-socks (only half a foot left to finish the pair) are the worst. Every time I reach past them to pick-up my shawl basket the green-stripey socks try to jump right out of their basket and into my hand. Silly green-stripeys. Maybe later today, if the sun comes out, I will get them out for a photo shoot - maybe that will help them feel better. Another still-on-needles project that is beginning to make a lot of noise is the vest I started months (MONTHS, I say) ago for our oldest grand-daughter, The Bean (she's eight, going on 14). I sort of made my own pattern, using stitch patterns from Alice Starmore's Fishermen's Sweaters, particularity the patterns from "Cape Cod". Took me hours and hours to chart out the whole thing, figure out stitch counts and do a couple of swatches. And I love the way it's turning out, but...well, I already confessed to being easily distracted. 'Nuf said!

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I may deserve a medal...

First, let me apologize for the poor quality of the photos. (If you have any questions, see yesterday's post. Oh, sigh.)

Several weeks ago I tried to wind some sock yarn into a center-pull ball. No hard could it be? Apparently, too hard. The resulting ball looked great, but several yards into the ball, the yarn refused to come out. So, I tugged and I tugged and I pulled, and POP out came a HUGE snarly tangle. I swear, about half the ball came out! After un-snarling the tangle, and re-winding that half of the ball, I now have two balls of connected yarn, and I'm scared to even think about the whole thing.

But, you see, I have these two skeins of lace weight yarn that need to be wound into balls before I can begin my project for The Amazing Lace (see yesterday). I found directions for hand-winding center pull balls here, and in the above pictures you can sort of see one skein au naturale and one skein wound into a (hopefully) center pull ball. I'm too scared to pull out more than a few inches. Got to work up my courage...

The writer of the directions mentioned that she liked to use her yarn swift and ball winder when working with lace weight yarn. I don't have either one of those items (nor can I convince the Curmudgeon that we should use the power-bill money to purchase them), and I looked at my two lovely skeins of lace weight yarn and thought "I can do this...these skeins only have 440 yards in them...piece of cake!"). Well, you know how sometimes the more you get done on something, the more there remains to be done? - Or, at least it seems that way? That's how it was with the skein of yarn... I draped the skein over the back of my Mom's old wooden rocking chair, and propped-up the front of the chair so that the back came down to a good height for sitting-on-the-couch-and-winding-yarn. And, following directions (religiously), I began to wind. Approximately 8 hours later (have I mentioned that I sometimes exagerate, just a little) I looked at the remaining portion of the skein still on the back of the chair, and I swear, it had not decreased in size!

As you can see in the photos (can you see it?) I did get one skein wound. That's why I may deserve a medal... I'll wait until after my arms and shoulders heal before I do the second one.

I am excited to begin my Amazint Lace adventure. I've chosen the "Rosebuds and Climbing Roses" shawl from Lavish Lace by Carol Rasmussen Noble and Cheryl Potter, published by Martingale. I'm using Knit Picks yarn called Shimmer (70% baby Alpaca, 30% Silk) in the Stained Glass colorway. (And, I'm thinking of using a US size 4 needle.) Both the yarn and the book were purchased here.

There's also a small lace sample piece in the above photos, in case you can see it and wonder what it is. It has nothing to do with the Amazing Lace project. I just thought I'd get a picture of it.

I did successfully sign up for The Amazing Lace, but haven't figured out how to import the button into my side-bar. And, in yesterday's post, you can see my abortive attempt to import the Lace Ring Button. Even the Curmudgeon couldn't help. I'll keep working on these dilemas.

Monday, May 29, 2006

I'm definitely not a Geek (in the best sense of the word)

The really sad thing here is I keep proving it to myself over and over...not being a geek, that is. I love geeks. They amaze me! The IT guy where Curmudgeon works is one of my favorite guys. He's cute and funny and young enough to be one of our kids -- and extraordinarily smart... Contrary to the stereotype, all the geeks I know have super personalities - in addition to being wizards when it comes to computers and other geeky stuff. Too bad the great personality trait thing isn't automatically linked to the geeky trait thing. I might have half a chance 'twer it so...I consider my personality to be OK, but my geek-quotient is non existant. To paraphrase a comment recently made by Matt Lauer on the Today show, if being a geek is a battle of wits, I am sadly, deplorably un-armed.

Proof? I took the Seed Stitch Vest outside for a photo shoot in the sun. (Our first sunny day of the whole Memorial Day weekend.) That part went pretty much OK, considering that I am also camera-challenged and our digital camera is a freebie we got years ago for signing up with one of the internet providers. So... then the upload-photos-to-the-computer process... I've only done this once before and, sure enough, I couldn't remember how... Had to call in the Curmudgeon - he's always glad to help, but since he is close to geekness himself, and his brain cells function astronomically faster than mine, he often "rushes" through these things, and I am literally sitting there thinking "...duh..." I think I did get the pictures successfully into the computer, but exactly where, I'm not sure... If I can find them, one or two may appear in this post. No picture? You'll know what happened.

Note to self: Save up for a better digital camera. (I know, I know...a better camera really won't compensate for my shortcomings, but I would be nice to be able to take close-ups...)

Also on my mind...

Amazing Lace - find the details here. Today is the last day to join, and I've never joined a group-knit adventure before... But I love to knit lace (having knit two whole knit projects and one sample piece), and I've got some lace weight yarn calling to me. (You know what that means!)

The Amazing Lace
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Sunday, May 28, 2006

Design Angst

I am learning new respect for knit designers. I've been designing a Seed Stitch Vest (snappy title, huh?). It started out so easy...12 rows of seed stitch, followed by 12 inches or so of stockinette. The armhole seed stitch borders and armhole shaping only caused moderate angst. But the shoulder shaping combined with the back neck shaping and the back neck seed stitch border. I'm certain it shouldn't be this hard! The graph paper and I have become nearly inseparable (and both very frazzled).

Why am I trying to design my own pattern? When there are such a plethora of lovely patterns out there? It's because I'm...umm...ahhh...rather LARGE. Not only is it extremely difficult to find patterns that actually fit me, but when I do, they're invariably knit out of fingering weight (or smaller) yarn and the stitch counts are astronomical. I know myself well enough to know that I require gratification sooner rather than later, so projects with 18 bazillion stitches are never going to be finished. And, I have to admit, I am a Start a New Project Junkie (SNPJ), and also the queen of Projects Still on Needles (PSN). I am so easily diverted and easily bored. Both of these character flaws used to bother me a great deal. Now that I'm more mature (read older) I just try to live with my limitations... For example, I don't generally go out and buy yarn to start new projects per se. But if the yarn is in my stach and is calling to me, then I have to answer the call, right. And, I usually don't put projects on stitch-holders just so I can steal the needles for another (new) project. But, it has been known to happen.

Above is a picture of the Seed Stitch Vest early-on.

As I'm sure you can tell, I'm new at blogging, too. Bear with me while I (try to) learn from my mistakes...