Montag, August 15, 2016

A Not-Shaggy Dog Story

While we lived in New Orleans we had a bloodhound, Trusty II, who was very dominant. As long as Paul was around, Trusty didn't show aggression. However, Paul decided to leave his job at Tulane University before the position at the University of Utah was actually available and went to Hawaii to work for six months. The idea was that the kids would finish their school year and we would all work on getting the house ready to sell.

Unfortunately, Trusty decided that with Paul gone he was now alpha in the family pack. He ignored me completely and instead challenged Howard, who was then just fourteen. The dog would come up to where Howard was sitting and growl in his face. Given that the dog outweighed Howard by probably twenty pounds and had much bigger teeth, this was pretty scary.

We turned to a dog psychologist who said that we had obviously neglected this dog's training. He told us that we would have to use extreme measures in this situation. He recommended we get a canned-air boat horn and honk it whenever Trusty showed aggression. This is a very loud product, intended for signaling boats in fog, but since dogs have sensitive hearing he thought it would stop the aggression. The psychologist warned that the dog should not see the boat horn; the sound should appear to the dog to be an act of God.

I bought the boat horn, and the next time Trusty showed aggression towards Howard I held the horn behind my back and honked it. Trusty immediately backed away from Howard. However, there was another dog in the family--a very smart and protective Australian Shepherd named Blue. Blue saw the boat horn and decided that it must be attacking me. He, in turn, went after the boat horn and accidentally bit me in the rear. By this time the boat horn had frozen in the "on" position and would not stop honking. Blue kept attacking the boat horn (read "my behind") until I could get to a door and throw the horn into the yard. I was laughing so hard that I couldn't do anything else to reassure Blue. He didn't injure me, but we decided that boat horn training wasn't going to work for our family.

We ended up giving Trusty back to his breeder. She informed us that his mother had been so dominant and aggressive that she hadn't been able to sell her. Trusty II ended up living with a retired military officer who otherwise lived alone. We learned to shop very carefully for puppies. Our next bloodhound, Trusty III, was a lovely dog who made us happy for nine years.

Trusty III

Note from Paul: Now we need to start looking for Trusty IV.

Donnerstag, August 11, 2016

Closing In On the White Knitting

The White Knitting made it to giant square stage last week.

After this picture was taken I finished the Xs at the top and knitted the garter stitch border. But then I had to decide what to do about the edging.

Apparently Estonian practice means knitting the edging separately and then stitching it on. I do really hate sewing things on. I mean, sometimes you have to, for example in order to stabilize the shoulders and neck of a sweater. But for me, it's usually a procrastination trap.

Another reason a person might need to sew on an edging is if it has to be knitted from the outside edge in. Some lace patterns only work in one direction. I thought I had better swatch the edging from the straight side out, and make sure it would make points.

Not very pointy, but the edging in the pattern photos isn't very pointy either. So--I think it's OK to knit the edging on.

The other different thing about this edging is that the corners are not shaped by knitting, but are meant to be gathered at the corners when the edging is sewn on. Nancy Bush describes how do to this by joining several stitches of edging to each stitch at the corner of the shawl. I picked up stitches following her sewing instructions, marking the corner stitches with safety pins.

At this point I had 800-plus stitches on the needle. I couldn't see any point to counting them all. Instead I counted one side at a time, separating the stitches into groups of twelve with removable markers. 
As I expected, the stitch count was never exactly right. However, while working with just seventeen stitch repeats I could move the markers around and then correct the stitch count by picking up an occasional extra yarn over. 

I used up every stitch marker I own, including several lovely matched marker sets my sister Christie made for me. 

And now I have just twenty (really long) rows, and then done. I wonder if knitting the last four rows or so on a size larger needles will make the points pointier.

Sonntag, Juli 24, 2016

I Learn to Crochet

Technically, I learned to crochet when I was ten. This involved a lot of creation of long crocheted chains. I know what single and double crochet are. I have failed at making a lace tablecloth (my squares got smaller and smaller) and a lace baby bonnet (my stitches that were supposed to look like bullion stitches in embroidery looked like rats nests). But Robin had a cute hat that I really wanted to try, Puffs and Bows. 

photo ganked from pattern page
When we went to Heindselman's last week as part of the Sister Retreat I bought some Plymouth Gina and two crochet hooks.

Robin got me started on the pattern.

Apparently the puffy stitches are related to bobbles, only different. They actually remind me of the nupps from The White Knitting, because you get a bunch of loops on the hook and then pull a loop through all of them at once. The White Knitting has just taken up all my crafting time lately. I have a deadline!

More shopping

At our house we are trying to pay down credit cards rather than run them up, so I have been shopping way less. There were a few exceptions this month. For example, I had a Wollmeise event; I couldn't help it, the exchange rate was so good!

Taking pictures with my phone does not do the colors justice, so I am going to link you to the website. From left these are Delphin, Mäuseballet auf der Wiese, Auf dem Roten Teppich, and Hoity Toity.

I have a kind of love/hate relationship with Wollmeise. I love the colors, the smooth finish and the tight twist. However, this tight twist can make this yarn a bear to wind on a ballwinder. It tends to kink up. Also, the socks I have knitted from Wollmeise wore out really quickly, probably because it is slightly finer than other sock yarns I commonly use. For example, Socks that Rock Lightweight has approximately 277 yards per 100 grams, and Verdant Gryphon Bugga! has about 353, while Wollmeise has 383. So I prefer to use Wollmeise in scarves and shawls rather than socks.

The other thing I bought was this adorable project bag, Summer Fireflies, from Stitched by Jessalu.  This purchase is totally down to Jennifer at Holiday Yarns, because she put a picture of it on Facebook. I don't even know if she bought one or if she just lured me into it.

The fabric and workmanship on this bag are just beautiful. Right now the Wollmeise is living in it, but I think Frangipani (no progress there, sorry) might move into it soon. 

So. My two new things that I pretend I am learning how to do are water color and crochet. If I actually do either one I'll be sure to show you. 

Donnerstag, Juli 21, 2016

That Thing You Never Want to Do

That thing you never want to do on a lace project: I had to frog three rows of knitting this morning.

The White Knitting (named in honor of  The Yarn Harlot's Big White) has been going along swimmingly for six weeks.

I am working from two charts. There is a side chart that I knit at the beginning and end of each row, and then the big middle section. Last night I suddenly discovered I was on the wrong chart row when I got to the side chart at the end of a row.

I did all the things you do. I counted stitches. I tinked back two rows (also not something you want to do in a lace project). I repeated a chart row to get back on.  It looked horrible. I wanted to stay up all night and figure out what was wrong. But you know how that goes. If what you're doing isn't working, doing more of it isn't going to suddenly start working better. It took all my mental fortitude to put it away.

Sometime during the night I realized that I must have done that thing where you pick up your knitting in the middle of a row and forget which way you were knitting. Sure enough, when I counted rows I discovered that I had two extra rows on the left side.

So I bit the bullet and pulled the needle out. Very carefully.

I know, right?

I had to gingerly pull out three rows. Sure enough, there was a backtracky bit on the left side. I spent half an hour getting all the stitches back on. Then I read through the whole row to see if there was any damage. I had to redo a couple of nupps and a k 2 tog, but that was all.

I put it away. I'm not ready to look at it again for a while.

In case you're curious, the nupps are the little bobble-looking things. Here is a video of Nancy Bush demonstrating the technique (she starts the nupp at 1:30). She talks a little bit about Estonian knitting as well. The pattern I'm knitting, Crown Prince Shawl, is from the book she mentions at the end of the video, Knitted Lace of Estonia. 

I also want to put in a plug for KnitCompanion, the app I use on my iPad to follow knitting charts. If I had been working from a paper chart and marking the finished rows with a highlighter like I used to do, it would have been much harder to indicate where I had to back up three rows. KnitCompanion is available for iDevices now, and will be released for Android shortly.

Samstag, Juli 16, 2016

Sister Retreat 2016

When the four Asay sisters got together in Minneapolis last year we didn't realize the retreat was going to become an annual event. But we did it again--this time out west.

Robin, Ruth Ann, Tan, Christie
photo credit Jennie Berndt

First stop was Arco, Idaho. We stayed at the DK Motel, which was dowdy but which had free (if slow) internet, extra pillows (if you wait while they find some in an unbooked room) and plenty of towels. We checked in and headed over to Robin's house, which was way more welcoming and had the added bonus of some preserved wildlife. Being nose to nose with a full-sized moose brings home how truly immense this animal is.

The next day we headed down to Blackfoot for a cousin reunion.

The real excitement, however, was getting all four of us into my Subaru Crosstrek to make the drive to Provo, Utah for the second leg of the party.

It wasn't so much us . . .

. . . as it was our gear. The car is a hybrid, so there is a battery in the space where you would normally stow a spare tire. You can see the spare standing up behind the oxygen concentrator.

Ruth Ann was really kind and patient when I unloaded the cargo space she had just finished loading and redid it the way I thought looked most charming. In other words, she only said one swear word.

Once we got to Provo we did the things that have already become traditional at an Asay Sister Retreat.

We ate.

We played cards and knitted.

We shopped. 

Incidentally, Heindselman's in Provo, Utah claims to be the nation's oldest yarn shop. I was disappointed to find that the huge display of garden gnomes (aka Heindselmännchen) that used to take up the entire front of the store had gone. Apparently they were all sold to make room for more yarn. An intense search turned up a few shelf models.

Did I buy anything? Next time, dear reader.

Plans for Sister Retreat 2017 are under way. The Asay sisters have one brother, and he lives in Las Vegas. I leave the rest to your imagination.

Donnerstag, Juli 07, 2016

RX: Do Something Fun Today

I have been feeling kind of out of it this summer. I wanted to blame it on low thyroid or high glucose, but a boatload of blood tests came back normal. So I pinned down my closest healthcare professional to do a mental health assessment for me. His diagnosis? Do something fun for a change.

It turns out that all of my goals are duty-oriented and good for me: learn the music for the next recital, be able to lift 35 lbs, finish The White Knitting on time. I enjoy doing all of these things, but they don't make me bound out of bed, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to get started. We made a list of things I enjoy doing just for fun. Art was not on the list, but I woke up this morning with painting on my mind.

I was able to enlist the help of two local artists on short notice for a trip to Blick in Salt Lake. It helped that we were all interested in water color so we could concentrate our attention in one part of the store.

I don't have room for a studio, but I think it will work to get a plastic carrier for my art supplies. I can paint outside on the deck while the weather stays nice.

I also decided to start a colored knitting project to balance my mental spectrum. A couple of weeks ago I fell in love with Frangipani, by Irish artist Kieran Foley. I originally thought I could use Wollmeise from my stash, but an email from the designer suggested that part of what makes the pattern work is the long but constantly changing color runs in the suggested yarn. I tried two local shops with no luck and ended up buying Katia Darling on Ebay.

This is a magic pattern. It goes along somewhat like a traditional Feather and Fan design, but then you use The Force in Row 11 and voila:

For my next magic trick I will change to an entirely different color palette after Row 14.

Montag, Februar 22, 2016

We Go West

Cherry and I went to Stitches West on Friday and Saturday. We used to go to East Coast shows: Maryland Sheep and Wool, Rhinebeck. Now that she lives in California, of course we will go to West Coast shows.

These conventions are like Comdex (or maybe Comic-con) for people who like to make things out of string, and for people who like to shop for handmade items. There are classes taught by knitting rock stars. There are booths manned (or womanned) by the artists who made the items they are selling. There are people everywhere enthusiastically greeting friends they haven't seen since the last show, or whom they may never have met in person at all.

I had goal beyond just hitting the marketplace. I wanted to meet the San Francisco knitters with whom I've been friends on Ravelry for years, Leslie Wong and Celia McCuaig. We got together on Friday to shop and again on Saturday for more shopping, and dinner with more knitters (and Fluevog shoe fanatics). I was frustrated when I arrived home and realized that I have no photos from these get-togethers. I was having too much fun to even think of taking pictures! We'll have to do it all again next year.

There are, however, a few photos from around the market.

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Who's who and what's what, from top left: Tan and Kate at Dragonfly Fibers; Shawls at on display at Dragonfly Fibers; Flocksock in Amortentia, Silver Sock in Merfolk's Garden, and Super Sheep DK in The Dark Side from Holiday Yarns; Cherry, Tan and Jennifer at Holiday Yarns; Dalek Bag from A Needle Runs Through It; Carolyn and Tan at Greenwood Fiberworks; Stephen West and Tan at A Verb for Keeping WarmThree Irish Girls yarns at StevenBe; Heatherly, Tan, and Cherry at Holiday Yarns; Verdant Gryphon Bugga in A Wistful Moment and Madagascan Sunset Moth from The Verdant Gryphon; Jamie and Tan at The Verdant Gryphon; Malabrigo Rueca in 057 English Rose, from Webs;  Project bags from Slipped Stitch Studios; Rabbit hand puppet from Knitterly; Kelly (Valkyriene) and adorable shopping assistant; Three Irish Girls mini-skeins from StevenBe; Super Traveller in Fire in the Evening and Forget me Knot from Dragonfly Fibers; Naturally dyed yarns from A Verb for Keeping Warm; Shawl kits at Cat Mountain Fiber Arts.

Freitag, Februar 12, 2016

Feeling the love

I worked on my Valentines today:

These cute bag toppers are from Darling Custom Prints on Etsy. They're downloadable, so if you still haven't solved your Valentine needs you're not too late! I think Sharman got the bags at Baker's Cash and Carry before Christmas. Thanks to Celia for delivering these to Lehi for me.

Other stuff that's going on:

1) I had laser surgery for a torn retina yesterday. The eye problem has been going on for several weeks, but they were finally able to diagnose and repair it. The light saber may not be as clumsy or as random as a blaster, but it still hurts if you get shot in the eye with it. Many thanks to Dr. Bell and Dr. Vitale at the Moran Eye Center in Salt Lake for their good care.

2) I am playing in a master class tomorrow with world-famous French organist, Daniel Roth. I am planning on rocking my performance of Maurice Duruflé's "Prélude on the name of ALAIN."  This is one of those things you do because it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, even if it scares the heck out of you. But I mainly need to hem up my pants so I don't trip on them getting up to the organ.

3) I am still chugging away on my January socks. It's only what, February 12? I decided to finish them as pedicure socks. This probably guarantees that it will be warm and sunny in March so I don't need pedicure socks after all.

4) And next week: STITCHES WEST! Santa Clara, here I come!

Samstag, Jänner 30, 2016

I Still Think I'm a Knitter

I don't think these socks are going to be finished by midnight tomorrow night.

I joined Heatherly Walker's Knit From Stash 2016 group on Facebook. It's a do-it-yourself yarn club.

My January pick was Bugga! in Orchard Spider from The Sanguine Gryphon. The pattern is Heatherly's Espalier Socks.

I thought I was really going to do this. I picked out my twelve yarns, bagged them, then labelled them by month. I put them in a bin with the Top This hat kits.

The idea was to start the socks on December 31st, which I did. Then I was going to finish my hood.

Piper's hood only took four days right before Christmas, so that was going to be easy, right? That would give me a couple of weeks to knit the socks, and in my spare time I would whip out one of those hats as well.

Then this happened:

I'm taking this great class at the University of Utah. It's called "The History of Western Musical Notation," and it's taught by Dr. Jane Hatter. We are studying how people learned to write down music, and practicing transcribing it into modern notation. And that, my friends, turns out to be harder than it looks. I don't care how hard you think it looks. It is harder than that.

I do have some other stuff going on as well. There's the theory class. There's the organ practice. There's running the occasional errand and doing some laundry. But the main reason no knitting is going on is this medieval pig latin, as one of my friends so succinctly put it.

My question is, do I get to peek at my February sock yarn tomorrow? Or do I have to wait until I finish the socks?

Freitag, Jänner 22, 2016

I haven't blogged for a couple of years because of the voices in my head that say a blog post has to be perfect and have pictures with it. I am trying to stifle the voice of perfectionism, so here goes.

This is what I'm doing in my life:

1) I am halfway through my master's degree in organ performance, as calculated by number of recitals given. I hope to present my second recital some time in April of 2017.

2) I am not knitting very much, due to #1. However, I can still show you a picture of something knitted because I finished a pair of socks on New Year's Eve. The yarn is The Verdant Gryphon's Bugga! in "Persephone," and the pattern is Love Me Tender by Cookie A. (it was a club pattern so will be available on her website in October of 2016).

3) I am trying a new program for dealing with food, Am I Hungry.  I've been doing it for two weeks and am excited about how it is helping me have a healthier relationship with food (as in, not act like Gollum about it). I'll let you know how it goes.

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