Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Life in the Treasure Valley of Idaho

Yes, this is my knitting blog. But honestly...I'm at a point in all my projects that it's just same-o, same-o. I'm turning the heel on the second dusk sock - but if you saw the first one, you've seen the second one. (Scroll back a few posts and you can see it if you've forgotten.) I'm up to the armhole decreases on the first sleeve of DD's sweater - but it's just plain stockinette. Nothing to get excited about. The Orenberg scarf is maybe a few inches longer than it was last time I included a pic. And, frankly, I haven't crocheted even a smidgen more on the Sassy Sack handle. Ho Hum.

So let us put knitting (and crocheting) aside and speak of other things. Like, the weather. A week ago tomorrow morning we had a freeze warning right down here in the city. Yesterday we had a record high temp of 95 (beating the former record of 93 set in 1954 I believe). Today's morning low was 71. Tomorrow's predicted high is 68. It all kind of makes your head spin, doesn't it? I love Idaho.

I spent a good part of yesterday sitting in the shade and working on the aforementioned sleeve (my idiot-knitting project at present). DS let the chickens out and I thoroughly enjoyed their company. At one point, Lucille had pressing business inside the coop and DS took this darling picture. She's inside the coop, roosting on (in?) the favorite nesting box. Isn't she just the cutest thing?

DS made three little windows - one for each of the nesting boxes. In the winter he slides in a solid panel to cut down on the draftiness. But in warm weather he slides in the screen-doors so the chickens can look out and we can look in, and the coop gets some ventilation. The silly chickens all like the one box furthest to the left as you look at this view. We've never found an egg in either of the other two boxes.

Here's a "front" view of the coop and the pen. I have teased DS unmercifully about the Taj Majal he built for the chickens, and reminded him yesterday that he still hasn't come up with a hot tub spa, nor has he installed their wide-screen TV with cable. (He reminded me that I never did get around to knitting them shawls or booties this past winter...)

This view (below) is from the far end of the chicken run, showing the ramp (on the right) leading up into the coop. When we let the chickens out into the yard, we leave the door to the chicken run open so that the chickens can go back into their run/coop whenever they want to, and it's not unusual to have one of the cats go exploring up the ramp and into the coop. One time we had a cat in the coop while one of the girls was on the nest laying an egg. I expected a confrontation of some sort but the cat exited the premises leisurely a short time later.

This morning I worked outside and weeded part of a "suicide" strip along the drive-way where we have some of our rose bushes planted. I'm thinking of planting nasturtiums and/or moss roses there. Pansies, Johnny-Jump-Ups and sweet alyssum would be pretty along there, too. Maybe I'll plant some of each. I call that area a "suicide" strip because it tends to get foot traffic off the drive-way and also, in the summer time it's hard to keep it adequately watered - the concrete driveway just sucks the moisture out of the soil next to it.

Maybe I'll have some knitting to share next time I post. Or maybe...who knows. Happy days, happy days. Can you believe this coming weekend of Memorial Day weekend???

Saturday, May 09, 2009

One Sock Done

Finally, something accomplished (knitting-wise)! I've been so distracted by hexagons and DD's quilt blocks, that knitting has been somewhat neglected...along with house-work and other "chores". But I did finish the first Dusk sock, see?
The toe construction on this pair of socks is "Judy's Magic Cast-On" and is a stockinette type toe...but when I got to the heel, I did a garter stitch "Priscilla Gibson-Roberts" heel. (If you're not familiar with PGR, just google her - there are several good tutorials regarding her heel and toe technique - the only change I make for my garter stitch adaptation is that when I turn my sock to work the next row of the heel/toe, I knit the stitches instead of purl them.) Next pair of socks I'm going to use Judy's cast-on method again, but am going to try changing it up to garter stitch. Maybe the anticipation of trying that modified start-up will encourage me to get this second sock done. (I'm especially prone to second-sock syndrome!)

And I've made some progress on the Orenberg scarf. I've learned something about knitting lace with lace-weight yarn - USE LIFELINES! Before I began using lifelines, my biggest problem with this lace-weight was that when I made a mistake and attempted to frog back to fix it, I ended up creating more problems than I was trying to fix, and got into such a muddle that I always had to rip back to ground zero. Now that I've finally embraced lifelines, the most I have to rip back is just a few rows. One of my AHA! moments with lifelines was when I switched from regular straight needles to a circular needle...I could not insert a lifeline to save my soul when using regular needles! But with circs, you just slide all the live stitches onto the cable and it's easy to thread the lifeline through those stitches because they're loose.

So... if you're struggling with lace and you're knitting with regular straight needles, switch to a circular needle. To insert a lifeline, thread a blunt-tipped tapestry needle with pearl cotton or a heavy crochet thread, slide your stitches to the cable part of your circular needle, and thread your lifeline through the stitches, leaving a generous tail on both sides of the live stitches. Then, when you have knit the next few rows and are ready to create the next lifeline, just pull out your former lifeline and re-do in the current row. (I actually keep two lifelines - I'm so paranoid! - so I remove the oldest lifeline to thread through the "new" row.) Also, be sure to mark (on your chart) which row you've used for the lifeline. That way, if you have to rip back, you'll know right where you are.
Just umpty-jillion pattern repeats to go...