Dienstag, Juli 31, 2007

Blue Moon: A Closer Look at Some New Yarns

Note: I can't really call this a review, since I have not knitted with all of these yarns. And I have to apologize for the photos, since the close-ups are not consistent enough for accurate comparison. However, they will at least show you the texture of the yarn, if nothing else.

You already know I'm nuts about Blue Moon Fiber Arts yarns, right? Well, about a month ago Tina introduced some new yarns as well as new colorways. Most of the colorways are available in all of the yarns, so I decided to get a sampling of both.
Click Pictures to Biggify

This is Silk Thread in the Stormy Weather colorway. It absolutely blew me away. It looks like quicksilver. You know, that stuff in thermometers?
Content: 100% Silk
Weight: 3.5oz.
Gauge: lace weight
Length: 1,250 yards

Laci is the new wool laceweight, shown here in Amber. There is a lot of yardage:
Content: 100% Extra Fine 80's Merino
Weight: 8oz.
Gauge: lace weight
Length: 1,750 yards
Twisted in Space Dust. Twisted is one of Blue Moon's thicker yarns, a worsted weight, but it doesn't feel heavy and dense. This looks like a scarf to me.
Content: 100% Merino Wool
Weight: 8 oz.
Length: 560 yards
Gauge: 4-5 sts per in. on US 8
OK, Peru is a yarn I want to put on my head. Another worsted weight with great yardage in the hank, this stuff is soft! With this content, how could it not be?
Content: 50% Alpaca / 30% Merino / 20% Silk
Weight: 8 oz.
Length: 500 yards
Gauge: 4-5 sts per in. on US 8
Silkie Socks that Rock, shown here in Brick, was first introduced with the April club kit. The silk in the yarn takes the dye a little differently, giving the yarn an almost translucent look. My socks had to be frogged back a couple of times, and the silk got a little fuzzy, making me wonder if that will happen with heavy wear, too. In future I'll probably knit Silkie into accessories that don't get walked on.
Content: 81% Superwash Merino / 19% Silk
Weight: 3.5oz.
Length: 360 yards
Unless you're very new to Blue Moon, you've probably already knitted with STR lightweight. It's my favorite sock yarn, and this one, Pinto Pony Calico, is my favorite of the new colorways--although it was devilish hard to pick between it and Minestone (below).
Content: 100% Superwash Merino
Weight: 4.5oz.
Gauge: 8 sts per inch on US size 1 (2.25mm)
Length: 360 yards
When I want socks that will knit up fast, I choose STR Mediumweight, shown here in Minestone. It's a great weight for Monkeys.
Content: 100% Superwash Merino
Weight: 5.5oz.
Gauge: 8 sts per inch on US size 2 (2.75mm)
Length: 380 yards

I haven't had a Trusty update in a while. Here he is on the new rug, with the new hardwood floor and the old couch in the background.

Yes, the old couch* is going downstairs. A new, solid-colored one is coming on Friday. I bought a matching throw for it in hopes of collecting the Trusty hair and drool on something washable. So far he has refused to lie on the throw, so maybe it will keep him off the new couch entirely.

I have added one new item to the Blogiversary Prize list, a copy of the CD Chris is sending to agents. I can make several of these if more than one person is interested. I can't tell you how incredible Chris's voice is. The only person who comes close is Bryn Terfel, and that's only in Bryn's most lyrical moments. Chris makes Josh Groban sound like Snow White.

*sofa, Chesterfield, Davenport (according to OED, a Davenport folds out into a bed)

Montag, Juli 30, 2007

Not a whole lot going on

Our Harry Potter party was relaxing and fun.

Joanne decorated cookies:

These are just the ones that made it home; the "Weasley is our King" one was just too perfect to eat.

I thought the Harry Potter Scene-It 2 game was a little slow. The trivia cards were more interesting than the on-screen items. We didn't play the board game version, and I think if we had, the on-screen stuff would have been less boring. Despite having used the words "slow" and "boring" to describe this game, I would still recommend it for Harry Potter fans wanting entertainment at a get-together. With the trivia cards included, the game should work for any age of Harry-movie-watcher. Also, it did include trivia and some scenes from the newest movie, which suprised me. OK, I guess that shouldn't surprise me. It's all marketing.

Sharman's family will be here for only one more week, so I'm planning less fiber action and more family interaction. However, I have updated my Blogiversary prize list. Changes included eight more prizes, and now the prizes are numbered to make it easier to indicate which you want.

Caveat: I plan to add more prizes, so you might want to hold off on what you request until I get them all up. I think I can have everything organized by August 7th so you have a week to think before I give out prizes on August 14th, my actual Blogiversary.

Unlike some of the other awesome prize giveaways we've seen online lately (I'm thinking of Claudia's prizes for the MS bike-a-thon), these are mostly out of my stash. Giving away yarn and other items is an officially recommended method for decreasing stash.

Samstag, Juli 28, 2007

Just a quick note on the blogiversary "contest"

I have changed the rules on my blogiversary "contest"--not really a contest since you don't have to do anything to win except enter. The change is that you can go ahead and leave your prize requests any time up until the 14th of August.

I have not added any pictures to the prize post, but I did change the rules.

I am off to Howard and Amber's with my Harry Potter Scene-It game for a Harry Potter party. We have pumpkin pancake mix (a free gift from King Arthur Flour), V-8 Splash as mock pumpkin juice, and chocolates in case of dementor attacks. I will be valiantly knitting away on Bellatrix, but the yarn shows no signs of giving out any time soon.

Freitag, Juli 27, 2007

Klaatu Barada what?

The great robot waits in hibernation. Klaatu has left him with instructions not to move unless the ship is threatened. And so he waits.

But what is this? One of the soft earth-beings has entered his sensor-field. A threat! His visor opens. A flash of blue light shoots out, and the earth-being is flooded with

liquid soap!

Oh man, I am so crazy about Simplehuman products. It all started 8 months ago with a giant wastebasket in the kitchen, then progressed to a dog-proof one in the office after Trusty tried to chew up an empty printer cartridge. How empty are they, really? Did I want to find out? So now I have a teensy wastebasket for my bathroom counter and a robotic Gort-like soap dispenser for the kitchen. It was a little pricey, so I just got a normal one for the bathroom.

As I've mentioned before, my Blogiversary is coming up on August 14th. I have had a lot of fun blogging over the past year. I enjoy reading the blogs I find through comments on my posts, so I want to celebrate my year in the Blogisphere with a contest. Everyone is eligible except spammers and Death Eaters.

The rules and an up-to-date list of the prizes I've come up with so far are available at Blogiversary Prizes.

Dienstag, Juli 24, 2007

Pioneer Day

The 24th of July means different things to different people.

If you live in Portland, it means you will finally be able to go to Ikea without having to leave the state.

If you a Mormon* anywhere in the world, it is Pioneer Day. Here in Utah where Mormonism is The Predominant Religion, July 24 is a state holiday complete with parades, rodeos, feasting, and non-alcoholic merriment. OK, there is probably beer at the rodeo. Whatever.

It commemorates the day in 1847 when Brigham Young verified that the settlers had found the right place and could stop travelling west in their covered wagons.

Note: There is no knitting content in this post except that whole reason I decided to write this essay was that I ordered some yarn from the Lime n' Violet website, and the return address from Miss Violet is on "Old Mormon Bridge Road" in Iowa. Iowa territory was the first leg of the journey to Utah in the late 1840's.

When I was a little girl, Pioneer Day was our most fun summer holiday. We got to dress up in what we thought looked like pioneer clothing. Girls got to wear long skirts and aprons, and a sunbonnet, usually made out of a paper bag, although girls whose moms could sew got the real thing. OK, my daughters had real ones. I had a paper bag.

Boys weren't as lucky, since boy pioneer clothing looked just like Idaho farm boy clothing, except pioneers didn't have shoes. Many boys opted to go for the Native look instead.

We decorated our toy wagons to look like Conestogas, or put red, white, and blue streamers through our bicycle spokes. We went down to the church and had a parade around the church. The women made a big dinner to be held at noon, and the men of the community, always busy with haying on July 24th, broke for lunch and joined us.

It was a joyful celebration, because almost everyone in our community could tell the tales of their own pioneer ancestors, who came west in 1847 or '48 or shortly thereafter. It was a story of freedom, because most of our pioneer ancestors had been chased out of their homes by armed individuals who hated Mormons for various reasons: Mormons were anti-slavery in that period 20 years before the Civil War when the pro- or anti-slavery feelings of territories that adjoined the Mormon-populated states of Illinois and Missouri were being decided; Mormons were well-organized, and were bringing many church members from other countries into newly settled areas, so they threatened the social and economic status quo; etc.

It was a celebration mixed with sadness, because moving to Utah from Iowa in 1847 was not a piece of cake. My own ancestors were prosperous enough to move west in Conestoga style, but many people walked. They suffered hunger, illness, exhaustion, and death. People who left too late in the year starved and froze.

Painting by Robert Barrett; see article

The Mormons came anyway, because, like the Puritans who settled first in America, they were looking for religious freedom. If people were going to shoot them and burn their homes in the midwest, they would find someplace that no one else wanted. Utah was great. It was hot and dry and there wasn't any water for crops unless someone re-routed it from the mountains. The Mormons were desperate enough to live here.

The Great Salt Lake is about as salty as the Dead Sea and not useful for much

Nowadays our family usually celebrates Pioneer Day by watching the parade on TiVo, since my daughter Laurel will be in it with her bagpipe band but it is too hot to go sit out there and watch it. Later we will have a family get-together, today combining it with a grandson's birthday party (he missed being born on Pioneer Day by a few hours). On Friday we went to a commemorative concert by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, where our son played trumpet in the orchestra, thus missing the Bountiful fireworks display. We would normally set off our own fireworks, but it's too hot and dry this summer, so fireworks have been banned in our neighborhood.

Some random facts about Utah and Mormons:

*Mormon is a nickname for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or LDS Church, given because members believe in The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ in addition to the Bible. The Book of Mormon was assembled and edited by a person named Mormon in about 400 AD.

Members of the LDS Church practiced polygamy during the pioneer era. The practice had ended officially by 1890, but is still practiced by some groups in Utah no longer affiliated with the LDS Church. My mother's grandmother was the youngest of three sisters who married the same husband so that they could remain together during the move west. There is much discussion about why polygamy was practiced, but the main explanation is that God told them to do it, and then God told them to stop doing it.

Women in the LDS state of Deseret, which was renamed Utah when it became an official territory of the United States, had the right to vote. They lost it when Utah became a state in 1896.

Mormons do not have horns, or hair on their palms or between their fingers.

Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Saviour of our souls. About the only difference between our beliefs and those of the rest of Christianity are:

1) We believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate individuals rather than three apparitions of the same being

2) We believe that God still speaks to the earth through prophets, and that the current prophet is a nice old man in Salt Lake City named Gordon Hinckley.

Let me know if there is anything else you want to know. I will probably have to look it up to find the answer, but I can try.

Montag, Juli 23, 2007

Something else to waste time on

That was so you would have something entertaining to look at while I am trying to find my camera. I am in the death throes of cleaning my bathroom drawers. That stuff is in there because I don't know where else to put it, so how does taking it out and sorting it help? The garbage bag is ominously small. The camera is in a box somewhere in the bathroom, but may not show up until I reload the drawers.

Things I plan to post when I find my camera:

Blogiversary prizes! My blogiversary is on August 14th (see ticker). I have prizes for people who comment that day. Somewhere around here I have an extra set of kitchener stitch markers, and I just ordered another set of Harry Potter stitch markers since I can't bear to part with mine. It would help my stash a lot if I would share some sock yarn and spinning fiber. There might be a spindle gathering dust that would like a new home. So it will kind of be like the big stash giveaway I had last year, only way more controlled.

Yarn! I still want to review the new yarns I got from Blue Moon, such as their incredibly soft and thick 50% alpaca yarn, Peru, and to-die-for new laceweights, Silk Thread and Laci; plus I could show you my Yarn Pirate club yarn.

Knitting! Yes, I'm doing the Mystery Stole. And I have my Bellatrix socks past the heel (knitting toe-up). Only I may be knitting those for the rest of my life. Wollmeise has a lot of yardage. Princess P (age six now) looked at the remaining balls of yarn and asked if I was going to knit them long enough to cover my whole leg like a real witch. Maybe!

My other project today is visiting a retirement home for my parents. Robin, my sister who lives closest to them (a half hour drive away), teaches school and cannot drop everything to spend the day driving them the hour and a half to Idaho Falls every time they have a doctor's appointment or want to go to Wal-Mart. Yes, believers, there are people who live an hour and a half from the nearest Wal-Mart. And we do not want them driving themselves, since Dad no longer believes in the existence of red lights, whether on stop lights or the rear ends of cars. Mom doesn't drive since she got lost going to Robin's and ended up in a ditch.

The worst thing is the level of emergency care where they live: in other words, Dad. When Mom had chest pains at 2:00 a.m., they decided it was too difficult to drive to the emergency room, which is half an hour away. There seemed no point to call an ambulance, since when their cleaning lady collapsed in their yard last fall the ambulance took so long to come that the poor woman had expired before it arrived. So Dad just gave mom one of his nitroglycerine pills and put her on his spare oxygen tank and they went back to bed.

As it turns out, it was angina and he had done the right thing. But I shudder to think what else they can come up with, out there in the boonies with only the cows for neighbors.

Samstag, Juli 21, 2007

Book Seven

You're going to love it. I cried so hard!

OK, that's a more-or-less quote from Dr. Who, so you can't call it a spoiler.

Standing in line was fun, by the way. On a whim, Paul and I went to an all-night grocery store that had not expected an event. We got there around 11:40 p.m. As the line quickly grew to 300 people, they kept repeating the same announcement: There were only 180 books; they would sell only one to a customer; no line-crashing allowed; and if you were buying groceries, you better hurry because after midnight you would have to go to the end of the Harry Potter line to check out.

My Amazon.com copy hasn't arrived yet. I'm on my way out to deliver my midnight copy to my daughter-in-law, who is waiting for a UK copy to arrive later in the week, and when UPS finally brings the Amazon one I'll lend it to my daughter.

People keep asking me things that might have happened in the book, and I'm not telling, but I will say that the Darth Vader scenario did not play out; neither Snape nor Voldemort turns out to be Harry's father. So if you were counting on that one, I feel for you.

Dienstag, Juli 17, 2007

Nutso Here, Howzit By You?

Did you see the discussion of Ravelry on TechCrunch last week? The comments are hilarious. My favorite is the very first one. We're all used to dealing with people who Just Don't Get It, but this guy is clearly an über-JDGI. Coming across this level of pure stupidity is kind of like meeting someone in a Halloween costume at a Christmas party. You don't want to stare, but you can't help it because it's so unexpected.

I am still planning on reporting on the new Blue Moon yarns, but things are so crazy here that I have not even been able to photograph them let alone take time to write.

You're subbed with Bloglines, right? I would feel terrible if I thought you were looking here every day to see if there's something new.

Samstag, Juli 14, 2007

Yarn Report


Positive Seelenbaume/Negative Menschenhauser

So did you know Opal is doing yarn based on art? I had no idea. This is why I have to listen to the WEBS podcast, Ready, Set, Knit! That, and they interview such interesting people.

The artist these yarns are based on is Austrian painter and architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser.

Opal Yarn USA
shows the paintings as well as the yarns. I had originally purchased only #1431 and #1436, but when I saw the paintings I had to get #1430 "The Road to Socialism," #1432 "Blue Moon," and #1434 "Waiting Houses" as well.

Later I realized that I probably already have #1430. Look at these socks and see what you think:

My socks

Their socks

I hope you will click the link to read about the artist. I especially love the essay about Window Dictatorship and Window Rights.

I have some samples of Blue Moon Fiber Arts's new yarns and colors to show you, but probably will not have time to post about them until Monday. Paul had to work today, so I pretended to be him. This meant driving from store to store and into Salt Lake looking at gas barbecue grills, calling him to describe what I was seeing, and finally going back to the first place to buy the first one I had looked at. I only got one thing done from my list, photographing Ruffles, who will be on her way to England on Monday to my very special internet godchild, Estra. Ruffles missed the post office today, but she is all packed up with her American passport and a CD with the pictures, so she is ready to go.

Left: Snuffles, my birthday gift from Estra and her mom, Helen; Right, Ruffles, my birthday gift to Estra; from Build-a-Bear. My favorite thing about Snuffles is his recorded message from Helen and Estra. I love hearing their voices! So Ruffles has a recorded message from me; I hope they can stand the American accent.

Freitag, Juli 13, 2007

Book Report

I am not sure I am going to make it through The Friday Night Knitting Club. It showed up on Audible.com and I had heard it was good, but I realize that everyone's definition of a good book is different.

In the first 2 1/2 hours of listening, all that happened was the introduction of about as many characters as there are in War and Peace. It looks as if the rest of part one is going to be backstory on each character. Someone please tell me that after all this frontloading, something will actually happen in the second half.

I wish I had downloaded another Terry Pratchett instead. Oh, wait . . . it looks as if I did download another Terry Pratchett already. Thank goodness.

In better news, I got my first issue of Knitsimple and it made me really happy because it reminded me that fall is coming and it has an amazing modular bag that I really need to knit.

And listen to this: My hairdresser has decided to start knitting, because he watches Knitty Gritty in the morning while he works out. How 'bout that? I told him he should check out some of the knitting blogs, such as The Yarn Harlot. He said, "The Yarn WHAT????!!!!" Hey, this is Utah, guys.

Dienstag, Juli 10, 2007

Feeling Harryed

For those with more flame-colored yarn in their stashes, the Fawkes pattern is up on Socktopia

Yes! I finished my Firebird socks just in time to wear them to the movie.
I did have some doubts about wearing wool socks in 96 degree weather, but they really wanted to go

Bellatrix went, too.

Bellatrix, like many other members of the Black family (including Sirius), is named after a star

The movie was super. I thought the writers did a better job than some have at using the actual language of the book. As usual, concepts are compressed, conjoined, and omitted to make the movie flow and not take 20 hours to run. But the main points were there, and the photography and special effects were really lovely.

The 3-D Imax version is fun, but the 3-D-ification process is still a little rough. I was left a little wonky by it and, after the movie, could not simultaneously watch the titles and walk.

Many thanks to Dave and Teri for inviting us to the preview, and to Sam and Sarah for entering the art contest and winning us all an upgrade to the Imax showing.

Technical Notes on the Socks:
The Firebird socks are knitted in STR lightweight with the Solstice Slip pattern that came with the club kit. I wanted something feathery-looking for the sock edge, so I knitted on individual points. Before starting the points I did several rows of K3 P2 ribbing in pattern with the cables. Then for each point I did K2 tog, K1, SSK to eliminate the purl stitches, knitted back backwards on those three stitches, then a Sl 1 K 2 tog PSSO centered decrease, cut the yarn leaving about 4" yarn, and pulled it through. For the following points I started the yarn again, then after finishing the points I tied both ends of the yarn in a series of overhand knots, finishing with a square knot. When the sock was finished I trimmed the yarn to about an inch.

I am knitting the Bellatrix socks in Wollmeise on #1 needles. This gives me a slightly looser fabric than I like (I am knitting my other Wollmeise socks on #0), but is fitting my foot on the 60 stitches called for. I am pulling the stitches pretty tight on the row where I drop the extra yarn-overs, and I like the way it looks. It seems to be keeping the sock from getting baggy to keep that row really tight.

Random Content:
Here is something I have been wondering about that has nothing to do with knitting. Why do Portlanders use their aiport code, PDX, so proudly and ubiquitously? When you go there a sign says, "Welcome to PDX." Say you go to New Orleans, a sign might say "Welcome to The Big Easy." They would never say "Welcome to MSY" or give themselves an email handle containing it. We use SLC here a lot, but that's only because we've got an airport code that literally is the city's initials. You have to have a three-word city name for that to work (think NYC). The use of PDX everywhere makes me thing I'm missing something, some other meaning that the letters have. Maybe I'm thinking of PDQ.

Montag, Juli 09, 2007

What Would Bellatrix Do?

OK, folks. Which yarn do you think would look more witchy for my Bellatrix stockings? I have Smooshy in Gothic Rose. Bellatrix looks very Goth to me, with the dropped stitches and all.

Dream in Color Smooshy in Gothic Rose

But on the other hand, would Bellatrix choose a color at all close to Gryffindor's red? It seems as if all the Unforgiveable Curses, Bella's favorites, produce a green flash, so maybe this would be more appropriate:

I'm sorry, I seem to be having technical difficulties with this photo.

OK, here we go.

Wollmeise in Frosch. I think it is the high intensity, but not sure.

The Smooshy will get me the stitch count the pattern calls for. But maybe the Wollmeise will produce a more appropriate stocking. I can always up the stitch count if I have to.

I didn't post for a week because I was roasting to death without air conditioning and it made me grumpy and sulky and I had to stay in my room under the ceiling fan or else risk killer headaches. However, before the air conditioning died entirely (i.e. before we dropped $10K on a new system which only worked for 16 hours and then conveniently died on the weekend when we could not get warranty service), we did a couple of fun things.

For example, we decorated Bug Cakes. They come out of the pan looking like this:

I couldn't believe how well the Everbake Pan Spray from the Baker's Catalog worked to get these little cakes out with all their detail. I sprayed and floured lightly and voila!

Not that all that detail mattered once the little people got going on them.

Butterfly by G

Ladybug by O

Ladybug by E

Quote of the day:

O: [squishing on more frosting] This is going to be really yummy!
Another child: That looks really messy.
Mom: Don't tell O that his cake looks messy.
O: I want them to say that!

Tool of the day: Pampered Chef cake decorating set
Note: to view product, get into their website, then search on "Decorator Bottle Set," or its product number, 1585

Montag, Juli 02, 2007

That didn't take long

Fire Polish Crystal Swirls/Cools kit from Earthfaire

I strung the beads for this bracelet while we talked after dinner. I finished it later in the evening. I couldn't bear to leave any beads unknitted, so it's come out a little large--maybe an ankle bracelet. Perfect for a Caribbean cruise?

It made me think of our trip to the zoo last week. Amber and I had gotten a little ahead, and I turned to see where the others were.

Not long ago, as it seems to me, he would have been getting into some mischief, and she would have been taking pictures of it. He was the one who got us kicked out of the Smithsonian because he was jumping up to see if he could touch the Rembrandts. He could, and it set off an alarm. She was the one who photodocumented an entire watermelon fight--in the kitchen.

Somehow it seems as if it didn't take all that long.
No tickers