Samstag, Oktober 28, 2006

Some knitting

Cookie A.'s Pomatomus sock is so hypnotic. The design looks like waves from Hokusai. It's mostly 1x1 ribbing, but with a single decrease and a single yarn over moving through each repeat with sinuous grace, crossing and recrossing like the DNA helix.

I looked through my Barbara Walker books, and I believe this is the Waves pattern. I occasionally get these fits where I have to listen to the same music* over and over again for several hours until I have had enough of it. I may have to knit a wrap in this pattern to get it out of my system.

* Three Hypnotic Pieces

  • Somewhere Over the Rainbow/It's a Wonderful World performed by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole on Facing Future

  • O Magnum Mysterium by Morton Lauridsen; Robert Shaw's Angels On High

  • Arvo Part's Tabula Rasa: Silentium

  • I'm keeping things short for a few days. Not only is my internet service only useable in good weather, but my wireless router has died. Right now I'm sitting behind the TV in my bedroom with a laptop on a cardboard box. It (the laptop, not the cardboard box) is hooked up directly to the cable modem. The Safari browser on laptop does not display all the helpful Blogger tools such as "insert link" so I am having to type all those href= doo-dads myself. I am not happy.

    The new router should show up along with the cable guy on Halloween. Hmmm. Should I be afraid? Should I be Very Afraid?

    Donnerstag, Oktober 26, 2006

    Nyehhh, What's Up, Doc? (smack smack)

    You know how Bugs Bunny should have turned left at Albuquerque? You know how Wile E. Coyote always falls over the cliff? I do these things with my car. I checked over my shoulder to see if it was safe to change lanes in rush hour, and when I looked back the traffic in front of me was no longer moving slowly. It was stopped, so I braked. As I braked I said, as I always do, "Now someone will hit me." They usually don't, but this time they did.

    I told the insurance company I don't want a rental car until Monday. I want to stay home and knit. Or spin. Or walk the dog. Or listen to new age Not Christmas Music. Or something. No one was hurt, but I felt sorry for the poor lady from Idaho who got a ticket just for not knowing that rush hour traffic might be stopped rather than moving slowly.

    My internet is iffy in bad weather. Since we are getting into a stretch of, say, six months of bad weather, I may have fewer pictures on my blog. When the nice Comcast man comes on Halloween I am going to meet him at the door in my Evil Emperor cloak with my push-button, spring-loaded light sabre and force him to install an above-ground line for the winter. We can worry about a permanent fix in the spring. If it was just internet I could go to the library; but it's also my cable TV. I will have to go to Laurel's to watch Dr. Who, and watch old movies instead of The History Channel. And just when it wtarted working right.

    I especially like it when I call Comcast and they say, "Is your telephone service with us?" And I get to say, "No, if it was, would I be able to call you right now? MY SERVICE IS OUT!!!"

    Hey, look, I got one!

    I don't think the snow had anything to do with the accident, just the internet issues.

    Whoa, another one!

    Two in a row!

    These are only fiber-related because they kept me from being able to do anything fiberish while I made them. The chocolate spider was especially fun to make. The broomsticks were more just annoying. They elicited a gratifying response from the piano kids who ate them at group lesson. Recipes for these are in the King Arthur Flour Baking Sheet Newsletter from Autumn 2004. If they don't have back issues available, I'm sure they'll email you the recipe so I don't have to break copyright.

    I can't decide whether to knit a sweater for Trusty or a cat bed for Che or Turbo. Probably I should do Christmas knitting for people who will notice.

    My friend Annette and our shared granddaughter, Piper. Piper will be getting elf mittens. Annette is getting something chicken-related and secret.

    Dienstag, Oktober 24, 2006

    For Some Reason the Mailman Always Brings Yarn

    Yesterday's mail:

    1. A big box of fatwood to make fire starting easier. I had to take it to the garage because it was giving me asthma. Smelled good, though!

    2. A new pair of organ shoes--black! I can't wear my cream organ shoes with my black pantyhose, now, can I?

    pumpkin from Liberty Heights Fresh

    3. My Urban Bubble scarf kit in Rooster Rock with more wooden balls than yarn.

    4. A stack of Claudia Hand Painted Yarns from Loopy Ewe (I Heart Loopy Ewe)

    From left: 012 Jungle, 014 Donna's Favorite in sport weight; 018 Donna's Favorite in fingering weight; 006 Ingrid's Blues in sport weight; 005 Black Walnut (Tan's Favorite) in fingering weight

    You really need to go to Loopy Ewe and look at all the colorways. There are big pictures there. The actual hues appear slightly warmer in person than online, but I am freaked out over how gorgeous they are in real life.

    Personal Note:
    I have been having trouble with anxiety all fall. Knitting helps a lot. When I had anxiety before I started knitting, I had to lie on the bed and hyperventilate for half an hour before I could go anywhere. Now I knit and hyperventilate instead. I'm not sure it alleviates the anxiety, but at least I am more productive. While hyperventilating yesterday I did the hard rows on the diet sweater (it takes as long to knit four rows of trinity stitch as it does to knit most of a colorwork panel). In the evening I started the second Pomatomus sock.

    Another kids' book
    that I have to read every year before Christmas:

    This one comes with a caveat. Do not read this book if you are offended by pre-Christian religious sentiment. This book is about halfway between Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter in that regard. My mother hates it and can't figure out why I like it. OK, mom, it's well-written and it takes place during the midwinter/Christmas season. That's why. I just ignore the stuff I don't agree with. Incidentally, it's part of a series. You might enjoy it more if you first read Greenwitch.

    And now, in hopes that the mailman will bring stuff in addition to yarn (never instead of), here is

    My Top Ten Twelve Two Dozen Archie McPhee wishlist:

    Fashion Accessories
    Toad Purse
    Bleak Wristbands
    Deadly Sins Wristbands

    Tub O' Flying Cats
    Love Rats
    Standing Rat
    Cornered Rat
    Latex Bat
    Hanging Bat
    Invading Dinosaurs
    Wind-up Dinosaurs
    Wind-up Walking Cow
    Cow Super Bounce Balls

    Pirate Stuff (even though I have not started knitting my pirate hat)
    Pirate Umbrella
    Large Pirate Flag
    Deluxe Eye Patch
    Pirate Grog Mugs

    Action figures:
    Deluxe Librarian
    Albert Einstein
    Bach (I already have Mozart and Beethoven)
    Leonardo da Vinci
    Alexander the Great

    Just Plain Weird
    Death Mints

    Thanks to Todd and Joanne for getting me onto Archie McPhee.

    Montag, Oktober 23, 2006

    Stocking problem solved

    I had an errand at The Needlepoint Joint this morning,

    so I took the errant Christmas stockings along. When I explained my yarn matching problem to Eileen (center) and asked if I might see the Manos color card, she told me my stockings were not Manos. "Manos is heavier. I think this is a Green Mountain Spinnery yarn called Double Twist. Too bad it's been discontinued."

    It made sense. I had used a Green Mountain pattern, and nine years ago when I knitted these stockings I wouldn't have dared substitute another brand of yarn. Eileen pulled out the old Double Twist color card. There were my colors, Cardinal and Blue Spruce, in the exact texture my efforts with Lamb's Pride couldn't duplicate.

    Eileen phoned to see if they still had some of the yarn left that I could order. They did, and furthermore it was on sale! They aren't wholesaling the yarn any more, so I had to call them directly. I now have six skeins each of Cardinal and Blue Spruce Double Twist on order, which should be enough to knit stockings for Conrad, Nicole, Nica and Conrad's incipient child, and any reasonable number of future offspring this family might produce.

    I've decided Eileen is a genius.

    Since Green Mountain is in Vermont, the Christmas stockings are on hold until at least the end of the week. Nothing else has a deadline coming up any time soon, so I think I'll take a book break.

    This was my all-time favorite young adult novel (assuming that Tolkien was writing either for children or adults). It combines history, mystery, and a quality of romance that doesn't require the delicate to skip any scenes. There is a romantic, snowy Christmas bit, which is why it works to invoke that season at any time of year. Because of this book I was convinced as a child that the folk song "Barbara Allen" was part of the Christmas repertoire.

    What will happen to all the Lamb's Pride I've bought (and ordered!) with the Christmas stockings in mind? I wonder if any grandkids want elf mittens???

    Note: Don't miss yesterday's gumbo event!

    Sonntag, Oktober 22, 2006

    On with the show

    Yesterday stayed busy, but I made it down the hill into Salt Lake around lunch time to pick up my red skein of Lamb's Pride for the Christmas stockings.

    Of course I didn't get out of Black Sheep Wool with just the Lamb's Pride.

    I am a Bearfoot addict; what can I say. My most comfiest socks are Bearfoot. The two skeins of Redtail Hawk, on the right, will hopefully become a Christmas gift for Paul. I can use his first Trekking sock as a guinea pig to make sure I can knit a sock to fit his high-arched feet. The Mountain Twilight, on the left, looks just like a colorway I knitted up and gave away; I think it's the same. The Granite Peak is much darker in real life. It's new to me.

    I'm the weeist big worrit that the new Christmas stockings are going to look too different from the originals to work in anyone's house. The color match isn't that close, and there are noticeable textural differences between the Manos and the Lamb's Pride.

    Oh well. I tried.

    Today's big project was making gumbo. I tried a different brand of andouille this time and thought it was pretty good. But dinner is over and the dishwasher running, so I'm off to continue the Christmas stockings and listen to (what else) more Christmas music.

    It's only been in the last few years that I could get away with playing Christmas music this early in the year. Paul prefers no Christmas music until after Thanksgiving, so usually it's on the iPod if he's around. But for years the kids and I would cheat with this CD, starting in early November:

    It's not really Christmas music, just wintery stuff. But as a transplanted Idahoan living in the south for seventeen years, I really missed winter. Our first winter in New Orleans I cut out paper snowflakes and stuck them on my windows to pretend. Some frost-producing music helped in the pretense.

    Spinning in Public

    I totally missed Spinning in Public Week, but I got a chance to make up for it last night. I was in charge of music for a casual church activity, and in between looking for my french horn players and finding a spot to squeeze in a very talented 6-year-old pianist I had time to make a mess of the singles I spun at Retreat,

    do some pre-drafting on the rest of my exchange roving, and spin a little of it.

    The consciousness-raising I did was more valuable than the spinning. The wool needed a lot more pre-drafting, but I had to start spinning because people were demanding action. Only one person thought I was working at my loom. I had to wind off the singles without a ball-winder because I only got this idea at the last possible minute as I was going out the door and didn't have time to run to the basement for another bobbin. The quilt in the corner of the picture was my wedding gift from Grandma Asay.

    The musicians came through big time. Surprisingly, the most polished act was this family group--look at the 10-year-old on stand-up bass and the 12-year-old practically hidden behind his drum set:

    When we got home we watched Dr. Who on TiVo (I Heart My TiVo) and I got Paul's Trekking sock almost to the heel turn.

    Zitron Trekking Farbe 90

    This sock is taking forever. It had three false starts as I struggled to get the right size needles and the right stitch count. It turned out to be 90 stitches on #0 needles. Now I'm a little worried about having done it toe up because Paul has incredibly high arches. I'm not sure doing the heel over more stitches will give him enough room. I have An Idea, though.

    Frost on the lawn and winding skeins for Christmas stockings puts me in the mood for more Christmas music (of course). As you can tell, I have a penchant for the cathedral sound. Add to this my fondness for new music (AKA dissonant), and you get this CD:

    It's the King's College Cambridge Choir, singing 22 carols commissioned especially for the choir over the past twenty some-odd years. You might recognize What Sweeter Music by John Rutter; the rest are, well, pretty far out. According to the liner notes, after one of these pieces was aired on BBC radio a caller suggested that the person responsible for choosing the new carol be shut up in a dark room. My kind of music exactly, heh heh.

    Freitag, Oktober 20, 2006

    The diet sweater is back (hooray!)

    Yes, I got another ball of yarn at Weight Watchers yesterday, and this is what I did with it:


    It's about all the knitting I've had time for. Trusty and I spent all morning working with his trainer, Mary Ann Harmon from Bark Busters. While he's making great progress and is almost a model citizen in the house, he's so exhuberant on his walk that I can hardly handle him. He's up to 65 lbs, so if he lunges at another dog or a person running past, it's all I can do to control him. So Trusty has added a new piece of equipment to his collection: the Gentle Leader.

    He only has to wear it while he's on walks. I've heard good reviews on these from others who use them. My sister started using it with her Bernese Mountain Dog, Bärli, after it pulled her then-10-year-old right over a railing when it ran down the steps and around a corner too abruptly.

    I'm laying Pomatomus aside for a few days to knit a couple of Christmas stockings. Years ago I knitted stockings for my brother's family from Green Mountain Spinnery's pattern.

    These may have been my most successful gift knits ever. They have used those stockings every Christmas for probably ten years. Now Reed and Nica are all grown up and their mom sent these to me so I can knit matching stockings for Nica's husband and Reed's bride-to-be. Of course I'll never get an exact match on the yarn, but reversing the colors will make this less noticeable. I used Manos then, but got a better color match using Brown Sheep this time. The biggest problem will be my gauge. I may have to go up two needle sizes to get close, because I knit a lot tighter now.

    Of course I'll want to listen to Christmas music while I'm getting into all that red and green yarn:

    This another CD based on that shivery British cathedral choir sound.

    Mittwoch, Oktober 18, 2006

    Do socks have to match?

    Do socks actually have to match? How close is close enough? How different is too different? And is it really OK to use the Emergency Keychain Yarn that comes with Sock Club yarns from BMFA?

    Paul is out of town tonight, so I have to do something to make the house seem less empty. A fire in the fireplace and Christmas music should do the trick. Paul doesn't enjoy Christmas music this early in the season, even though I'm not talking Frosty the Snowman here. Tonight's selection is harp and choir and mystery that puts snow on branches and stars in trees whether its December or not:

    Getting the fire going is a challenge. It involves some recycling and the use of some fatwood sticks

    and matches (Trusty likes to help).

    In hopes of keeping Trusty out of mischief I've loaded this bone with bacon-flavored snacks stuck in with peanut butter.

    More recycling:

    It looks as if the fire is going to work.

    The bone, too.

    So finally I can finish the Titania's Revenge socks. I had a lot of trouble with the left sock.

    I didn't count the stitches as the lace decreased, and consequently didn't notice that sometimes I was increasing. If I had kept going until the lace disappeared, the sock would have been twice as long as my foot (think Mad Magazine), so it had to be redone.

    The right sock seemed to be going better until I ran out of yarn. Luckily BMFA sends Emergency Sock Yarn with the club kits.

    I finished the right sock . . .

    . . . only to discover that my socks don't match.

    Not only does the pattern go much farther down the toe on the right than on the left, but the colors pooled on it as well.

    Well, that solves the question of who to give them to for Christmas.

    You know, these socks are pretty comfy. I've been wearing them all evening, and no one has mentioned that they didn't match.

    Dienstag, Oktober 17, 2006


    I finally remembered to go to the post office for a mysterious, insured package that I missed last week. It was my spinning wheel bag!

    I ordered it from *** The *** Judy Jackson. I'm hoping this will make the wheel pretty much Trusty-proof. The bag is Cordura. I know it's waterproof, because my other wheel kept perfectly dry in a total downpour this summer while wearing its own Judy Bag.

    The bag opens all the way up so I can just peel the wheel (heh heh) like a banana, spin, then zip it up without having to lift the wheel in and out.

    I was so excited that I finished spinning the singles for the exchange.

    I will have to experiment on the plying. My original plan was to 3-ply, but I may have spun my singles too fat.

    Trusty and Che helped with the spinning.

    Trusty's project:

    Che's project:

    (Don't worry, I was able to save it)

    Incidentally, Stephanie was wondering if the reason I have so much fiber time is due to not having children at home. This helps, but it's not the whole story. There are some clues to my time management techniques in the background of these photos. For example, the five minutes it would have taken to make my bed today were much better spent spinning.

    While spinning I played "fake the Tivo." The History Channel and Tivo haven't been communicating well lately. I figured out that if I record whatever is on three hours later than the schedule shows, I will get the program I actually want. So last night I recorded an hour of something labelled "Paid Programming" in order to watch "Engineering a Nation: Greece" this afternoon. Isn't technology great?

    Variety is the spice. The spice must flow.

    I took a couple of pictures on my way to and from my organ lesson yesterday. My lesson is in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah.

    I've heard people think it was a Synagogue, but nope. Right now it's mainly used as a small concert hall, but sometimes there are meetings in it. It has this great pipe organ upstairs

    which is only played for recitals since the building is public (no one wants to listen to someone else practice). I have played it once. Not sure if you can see the big trumpetty things sticking out; I picked a piece for the last recital that used them. They are very loud. Even louder than the organ normally is. Loudness is one of the great things about playing an organ. Second only to conducting an orchestra, playing the organ has to be one of the biggest power trips in music.

    We all know that, Pee-wee's Big Adventure aside, there is no basement in the Alamo. However, there is a basement in the Assembly Hall and it is full of pipe organs. This is the little bitty pipe organ I warm up on before my lesson:

    Isn't it cute? It can be worked with bellows, but is hooked up to an electric air source. When you turn it on you can hear the pump start up and the air begin moving. There is at least one more pipe organ, the one I take my lesson on. I was too chicken to take a picture during my lesson. There may be another one, but the other doors are usually locked, so who knows.

    Hey, remember these chocolates?

    You can get some at Williams-Sonoma!

    Montag, Oktober 16, 2006

    Sock Yarn Stash

    For about one minute I thought about pulling out my whole sock yarn stash in honor of Soctoberfest and posing it for a huge group shot. Like I said, for about one minute, the amount of time it took me to get downstairs and be reminded that my wool room still lacks space for a huge group shot of anything except clutter.

    Instead I settled for photographing the hoard (or maybe horde, since it seems to migrate, leaving distruction in its wake) in its natural habitat.

    Down the left is most of the STR collection. Top right is a skein of Schaefer Anne in Caramel Twist. Below it is a basket of Mountain Colors Bearfoot, with a few other things thrown on. It's actually the top of a cute 3-tier basket that used to reside in my kitchen. My daughter told me for several years that it was Wrong to have Yarn in the Kitchen. I ignored her. It took only a few weeks of having my granddaughter, Emerald, living here to convince me that it was Dangerous to have Yarn Anywhere Near a 1-year-old. And if she hadn't already convinced me, Che would have done. The basket is now in the wool room.

    Then we have the drawers.

    These are those big plastic pull-out bins you can buy at pretty much any variety store. The somber colors on the far right are skeins of Nancy Bush's Footpath yarn that I bought to knit socks from her Vintage Socks book.

    I singled out a few as examples that caught my eye:

    Above are STR leightweight from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, and below are a variety of yarns I've picked up on trips to The Needlepoint Joint in Ogden, Utah.

    The two on the bottom of the above picture are both Austermann Step, which contains aloe and jojoba to make knitting and wearing the socks more pleasant. I think the greeny one is in the queue for Very Soon if not Immediate knitting.

    And then there are the Lorna's Laces refugees living in the bookcase (still).

    On Saturday I taught Amber how to knit socks. Taking a hint from a Nancy Bush class, I had her knit just a few rounds of each sock part so that she could finish before day's end. I didn't think to photograph her finished project, but finish it she did. My favorite moment was when she began the heel turn and I told her to turn the work before finishing the row. The look on her face was priceless. I think everyone has that moment of incomprehension or disbelief when they meet their first Short Row.

    I had a raging headache all weekend, and it made me too lazy to go look at an actual sock pattern to see which comes first on the gusset, the k2 tog or the ssk. I told Amber ssk first, but it must be k2 tog since her gusset looked spiky rather than smooth. But that's why we have sock patterns, right? So now she can knit a top down sock from a pattern and will understand how all the parts fit together. Next we'll go back to toe up, which we started and abandoned for no good reason a while ago.

    While Amber knitted I spun more purple wool for the exchange I'm in:

    This is how much I got done (before on the left, after on the right)

    (Listening to Arvo Pärt: De Pacem: An den Wassern zu Babel)

    I also finished the first Pomatomus Sock.

    I redid the toe a couple of times and the sock still seems a little small; but it's a Christmas gift for my mom, and she is both skinny and small of foot. I think it will be fine. She doesn't read my blog so that wasn't a spoiler.

    Trusty and I are putting off our Long Walk for a while hoping for the rain to stop. In the meantime I think I'll go practice the organ.

    Update: We didn't wait long enough; we got soaking wet!!!
    No tickers