Sunday, May 31, 2009

Clearing off the needles

I just finished another project yesterday morning. This means that, at the moment, I have one active project OTN, and one non-active project sitting around waiting. Besides that, unless I am forgetting something, there are two projects that are so old that I will probably never get to them, and I should just rip them and either repurpose the yarn or sell it or give it away (edited to add: I did forget one more that I will finish someday; Ravelry certainly keeps one honest). One project I'm pretty sure is something that I wouldn't wear anymore, even if I were to finish it. The other is a pair of socks that I would like, in yarn that I would like -- it was the size 0 needles that have made this project less than enjoyable, but it might be time to pick it back up and see what I can do. On the other hand, that skein of STR from the latest installment of the sock club is calling...

Meanwhile, I blocked the project that I finished and let it dry. That took ages and ages, given that it is currently extremely damp and somewhat chilly around here. It's been misting enough to leave the ground wet, in fact; not a lot of water (and not as much as we need), but enough ambient humidity to make drying fabric a slow process.

And, of course, the gray weather doesn't do photography any favors, but I've done my best for you.
This is the seasilk scarf/stole (Rav link) that I've been knitting for myself. The yarn is Hand Maiden SeaSilk from The Loopy Ewe, in the Sangria colorway, which I truly adore, even after all of this knitting. I really wanted to use up the entire skein, but I got paranoid at the end, and I started the finishing rows just a bit too soon; I probably could have squeezed one more inch out of it (another repeat or so), but I didn't. If this length bothers me, I'll unpick the end and do it again, but for the moment I'm happy. I was trying to find a length/width balance that would make it wide enough to cover my shoulders if I'm feeling cold, but long enough to wear in a more scarf-like manner if it's my neck I want covered. I think I hit it fairly well.
I'm happy with the textures in this scarf; I wanted something that felt dimensional, and that broke up the striping, at least a little. What I ended up with were vague runs of color, rather than pooling or striping, and the color runs are diagonal. The seed stitch edges and the trinity stitch main body go nicely together, and make the light shine off the stitches. And I'm so happy that I figured out the faggoting thing (thank you, Anne!), since those little spaces always charm me to pieces.
The ends turned out fairly well, too.
I think I'll get a lot of use out of this; it's bright and cheerful, and it's a warm fabric, without being too warm or weighty.
Looking at the pictures I got of this, I realize that there are no good modelling shots; they were all taken indoors either in a mirror, or by Rick, who is in the middle of a good bit in his book, and therefore not as inspired as he might otherwise be. I understand how that goes. But here's a quick PhotoBooth shot to give you a sense of the width.

Other than getting this done, we've had our usual busy weekend. Older Daughter played a fabulous soccer game yesterday. They were up against a team who was undefeated this season, and I think that, for her team, that word was like a red flag to a bull. They just went out there and played harder and better than I've seen them play all season. They won the game 1-0, and we parents enjoyed the heck out of every single minute of it. They played their hearts out, and both teams worked beautifully together, using all of the strategies and tactics they've been taught by their coaches (which they so often forget to do in the heat of a game); we kept looking at each other and marvelling, "it's like real soccer!" What a treat. And then we got to go have dinner with some dear friends (no cooking after soccer, wow!), and go for a walk and hang out and laugh and talk. Life doesn't get a lot better than that.

This morning was all about completing the big errand of getting hiking shoes for Older Daughter, and making sure that Younger Daughter has a pair that fit, and getting waterproof hiking pants for our trip. We leave in less than a month, and hiking shoes need time to get broken in. Now I'm just hoping that mine are still waterproof. In fact, the plan for the rest of the afternoon is to head out to the trails for a nice hike; I'll try to find a few puddles to stomp in, shall I?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Finishing and technology woes

I promised you another finished object, and, in fact, I did finish it on Tuesday night. I even washed it and took it out to dry and took pictures of it (along with the hummingbird nest, mama bird in situ) and sat down to post yesterday. Whereupon the Bermuda Triangle once again ate my pictures. At which point I gave up.

I also figured maybe it was too soon to post, since there were no comments on my earlier post yet. Or so I thought.

In point of fact, it turns out that since Wednesday night, I have been completely unable to receive any email that does not share my work email extension. What threw me off is that I was still getting the occasional email message. It wasn't until yesterday afternoon that I figured out what was going on. Our tech folks still haven't figured out the problem yet. So, if you've emailed me, I haven't gotten it (outside email messages aren't coming through on my webmail access, either; I'm living in an email black hole). Alas. (I am checking my Ravelry inbox, so I can be found there...)

However, I did convince my camera and my computer to play nice this morning, so without further ado, I give you what is perhaps the cutest thing I've ever knit.
The bow is crooked in that picture, but the colors are true, so I'm posting it anyway.

That's the Tulips baby cardigan (my Ravelry project page), which I started an embarrassingly long time ago. I missed the original baby deadline, but a friend of mine at work is having a baby boy at the end of the summer, and it seemed to me that he needed a happy colorful cardigan, no? I'm not sure why I put this down for so long, although I think that it was the Fear of Weaving in Ends that did it. There's a lot of end-weaving involved in this sweater. However, I've gotten a lot less annoyed by finishing (although I'm not sure I'll ever like seaming, really) over time, so when I picked it back up, I wove in the body ends, then did the sleeves and it wasn't so bad. I love the applied i-cord around the edge and on the neck.
I bought this as a kit, and still have yarn left over in all of the colors, so if anyone's knitting this and has run out of yarn, let me know. Otherwise, the bits will probably come along to sock summit for the color class I'm taking.
I'm glad to have this done, since my friend's baby shower is coming up quickly, and I was bound and determined not to miss this deadline. If I can get some booties knitted to go with it, I will, but mostly I'm feeling good about having it done.

That means that, at the moment, I have absolutely no deadline knitting on the needles (that will probably change soon). Last night was Older Daughter's final orchestra concert of the year, so I took along the linen shell I'm working on and put a few more inches into the ribbing at the bottom.
The concert was great fun; they have come so far from the beginning of the year, it's amazing. Older Daughter's orchestra teacher probably thinks I'm weird, since I thanked her so profusely, but I truly admire teachers who are able to inspire their students as she has inspired hers. Older Daughter intends to go ahead with orchestra next year, and it's entirely due to her teacher's enthusiasm. I wonder if I should knit her some fingerless mitts?

It's hard to tell from looking at the shell, I know, but I've put in almost ten inches from the bottom of the armscye; I figure I'll bind off at about 12-13". I need to try it on to see how it's looking. This project has become my "I don't have to look" knitting, so I tend to save it for soccer games and concerts and movies.

However, this means that I now have only (ha) two active projects on the needles. There's another one coming along soon, and I do want to knit the STR socks from the club package sooner rather than later, but I have found myself missing my spindles and wheels lately, and I think it's time to embark on a new spinning project. I've decided to challenge myself by attempting to spin something on purpose (not that I usually spin accidentally, mind you, but my results are usually a matter of chance rather than plan, and it's time to change that). Sock yarn. I think it's time to spin my own socks. And I have just the thing:
This is some gorgeous roving from Tempted (50/50 soysilk/wool) that my sister-in-law gave me for my birthday. It seems like it could (in the right hands, which may not be mine) be some beautiful, tightly spun, two-ply sock yarn. If I spin assiduously enough, it might even be able to come along with me on our trip. We'll see...

I will leave you with a hummingbird nest. The mother bird flew away immediately I tried to take this picture; I'll keep trying to get one with her in it for you - it's a pretty amazing sight.
Can you see that? The flash went off on that one. Maybe this is easier to see.
It's teeny-tiny. I could maybe sit a golf ball in it, but that's all.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


That's pretty much what yesterday morning ended up looking like, and I say that impying absolutely no criticism of Stephanie or Tina, who worked their tails off to avoid just that; the scrum happened in their despite.

The timeline looked something like this:
9:59 am: I closed down every single internet window on my computer but one, just to be sure that any slow-downs that might occur (note the hopeful little interjection of the "might" there) could in no way be blamed on overloaded connections on my end. I also glared at Rick until he agreed to cease and desist with all downloading for the duration. He insisted on continuing to breathe and receive phone calls, but I think that he nevertheless can't be blamed for what happened next.

10:00 am: Every single knitter in the entire world hit "refresh" on their computers at the same time and initiated Total System Failure.


I spent the next twenty-five minutes alternately hyperventilating at the thought of getting not a single class during all of Sock Summit because Every Other Knitter in the World was getting onto the system before me, and giggling with near hysteria because, dudes. That was a whole lotta knitters logging on at once. And I know for a fact that it wasn't even all of us.

There are a lot more of us out there than the rest of the world thinks.

I find that pretty inspiring. Even if our major accomplishment yesterday was to crash a computer system and leave some poor ITS guy a gibbering wreck.

On the positive side, I did finally get on to the server (after marvelling at a world that allowed us potential registrants, via blogs and twitter and ravelry, to track exactly what was happening and why)(in fact, many comments were made about the Cassandra-like foretelling that had been offered to the aforementioned ITS folks about the mighty power that is the world-wide knitting community when they have their collective finger on the "refresh" button, and the willful dismissal of said warnings until the proverbial Too Late arrived right on schedule). Not only did I get on the server, but I got into the two classes and two lectures that I wanted. That seemed like an unselfish amount to desire, and I promptly hied myself from the system, and headed off to meet my swimming buddy, only a half an hour later than I'd expected (she's not a knitter, but she's a solid sort, and she forgave me).

So, how about it? Who's going? Who got the classes they wanted? How are we going to find each other among All the Other Knitters in the World?

I do have knitting news. I am this far from a finished object (and I'll bet money that it's not what you think it is), and I'm going to wait to post about it until it's done, which will probably be tomorrow. I was going to offer you pictures of the absolutely amazing hummingbird nest in our wisteria instead, but the camera/computer connection created its little black hole again, and all of my pictures disappeared off my camera and into the Bermuda Triangle. Alas.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Is killing me. (Maybe it should be "Anticipation killed the cat?")

This morning, at 10 am my time, registration opens for the classes at Sock Summit. If I am feeling this level of anticipation (and a little bit of anxiety: will I get any of the classes I want? will I even be able to get into the sock hop, or will I be the only dork sitting in the lobby?)(yes, I was a geek in high school, why do you ask?), I can only imagine how Stephanie and Tina are feeling as they watch the clock count down and wonder whether their server will survive the initial onslaught. All I can say is, they've clearly done everything humanly possible to get ready for that first ten minutes; my hat goes off to them.

The registration instruction page says to have your first, second, and third choices of classes ready, as well as your cup of coffee, since you get fifteen minutes from first initiating your session to losing the classes in your cart. I think I'm ready.
List? Check. Back-up list? Check. Cup of coffee? Check. Book by Hortense Powdermaker (honestly, I couldn't make this stuff up) to read in the meantime? Check.

Anyone else out there registering this morning?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

F.O. and a good start to a long weekend

Warning: SPOILER ALERT for Rockin' Sock Club at the bottom of the post.

We just got home from a lovely long day at the beach. We packed a lunch (including fresh strawberries and cherries from the farmer's market, mmm...) and headed down to the water just before noon, carrying everything anyone could want for a perfect beach day. In my case, that meant knitting and reading, and I both finished a pair of socks, and the book that I was reading. I also got a nice long walk down the beach in; what more could I ask?

Well, I could have remembered the camera, that might have been good.

But it was actually very nice to just walk and watch. I love people-watching at the beach. The ocean is such an equalizer; young, old, tall, short, fat, thin, bikini or wetsuit, everyone gives the same little shocked gasp and pause when the water first hits their stomach. There seem to be two schools of thought about entering a cold ocean. There are those who subscribe to the "he who hesitates is lost" school, and go running toward the ocean, hell-bent for leather, all but screaming and beating their chests (this is not a gender-specific mode of entry, I should say). The theory seems to be that if you've got to get in, you may as well get it over with (I admit to subscribing to this school of thought myself when I swim laps; I know I'm getting into that water, so I may as well just go for it). And then there are the hesitaters. Those who enter the water one little bit at a time, pausing longest just at the place where they can avoid getting the top of their suits wet, bobbing as high as they can go when each wave comes in, to avoid the moment of truth just a little bit longer. Sometimes, they end up coming back out before getting all the way wet; sometimes, the ocean sends an unexpectedly large wave crashing down on them, and takes the decision out of their hands.

It's also fun to watch ocean-inspired courting rituals. There are the teenage girls, gaggles of them, walking down the beach in bikinis, giggling (Older Daughter calls them "giggles of girls") and looking over their shoulders at the frisbee- and football-throwing boys. And then there are the boys who run from the water, and offer their girlfriends freezing wet full-body hugs; said girlfriends seem to find this charming. I think that must be something that one grows out of later in a relationship; I also think Rick would be afraid to try such a thing (smart boy).

The socks I finished appear to fit Older Daughter perfectly, so they'll become hers. She graciously agreed to model them for photos.
These are the Rogue Roses socks (Ravelry link) from the last installment of the Rockin' Sock Club (finished the day after the newest installment arrived; I'm feeling good about that). This was definitely a fun pattern, and one I would not have picked out to try on my own, but which I'm happy to have knitted.
That's truer to the actual colors of the yarn. See the little rosebuds there? And they twine.
Front and back.
I particularly liked the heel on these; I think I'll try that on another pair of socks in the future.
To recap: These are the Rogue Roses socks (pattern by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee), in the Gertrude Skein colorway of Mediumweight STR; I knitted them on size two dpns. All in all, I'm very happy with the way they turned out, and I'm guessing that I'll enjoy wearing them when Older Daughter has grown out of them (which, to judge by recent growth spurts, will be sooner than she thinks!).

OK, remember, spoiler ahead. Stop reading if you're in the sock club and haven't gotten your shipment yet and don't like knowing what's inside. Look! Here's a picture of Tilly as your last warning.
Don't say I didn't tell you. I don't usually post a picture of the yarn until I've started knitting it, but I am so completely charmed by this colorway I can hardly stand it. I can think of a certain Knitnana who would like it to, I think (I thought of you immediately!). I tend to very much like most of what Tina dyes, but there are a few things that just capture my heart, like the yarn from last year's Anemone socks in the Tide Pooling colorway. Love, love, love that colorway. I'm tempted to knit a sweater in it, I love it so much. I feel the same way about this one. I might never knit it...
Then again, I might just cast on tonight.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I have a very dear friend who is and always had been extremely bad at aphorisms. She just can't get them right. It's often pretty darned funny, but one of my very all-time favorites was the time she looked at me very seriously and said, "Well, you know, indecision killed the cat." Heh. It's now a common phrase in our household; I don't think my kids even know what actually did kill the aphoristic cat.

Let's hope that doesn't happen here. Because I'm in the middle of some indecisiveness myself, and if there's a truck bearing down on me, I may be in trouble.

I'm beginning to plan my knitting for the long plane ride ahead of me at the end of June. (What can I say? I'm a woman who likes to know where her knitting is. A towel's all very well and good, but knitting is the stuff of life. Give me a good book and a good knitting project, and I can wait in any airport in the world.) I've decided, for a number of reasons, that the knitting for this trip is all going to be very simple, with a preponderance of stockinette and garter stitch. This has a lot to do with the fact that the major knitting time will come in the form of two twelve-hour plane rides with an 11 and an 8 year old girl (not to mention my ginormous husband who is convinced that "what's yours is mine" is especially true when it comes to leg and shoulder room on an airplane), and driving on little bitty back roads in Scotland in a minivan with the aforementioned girls and husband, plus my parents. I don't think lace is a good choice under these circumstances. Nor, in fact, anything that requires any kind of concentration whatsoever. (And let's be honest here: I'll be doing as much of the driving as possible, because I'm the only person I trust to be driving on the left side of the road. Rick's not bad at it, but as a right-handed person, he keeps trying to shift the doorknob, while my left-handedness finally becomes an asset in a situation like this.)

So, with this in mind, I decided that two pairs of stockinette socks and some kind of shawl would do the trick, and then Anne showed someone wearing Shawl That Jazz (Ravelry link) on her blog, and I was all over that baby like a duck on a junebug. After exploring Ravelry (and realizing where else --scroll down -- I'd seen this shawl on the interwebs), I decided to get some Blue Moon Fiber Arts Twisted yarn. This decision was further influenced by the fact that I'm a member of their sock club and have a small discount there right now, and it seemed like the time had come to take advantage. I decided on this colorway.

Now, here's where assumptions make an ass of you and umption, because my assumptions had me expecting one thing, and another arrived. I've never seen Twisted in person, but have knit with STR several times, as well as with Geisha, which I loved. So I had certain ideas about what the colors would look like. To be frank, I hadn't looked at pictures of Twisted yarn in the skein, and was expecting something like the sock yarn. But it's a very different sort of yarn.
Don't get me wrong, please. I like the yarn. I like it a lot. It's just that I was visualizing knitting the shawl in a tight-twist yarn with long color changes, and I'm having trouble changing gears (why yes, I am a spirited child, why do you ask?). I adore this colorway, so I'm trying to decide among several options: a) suck it up and knit the darned thing with the yarn already (big baby); or, b) use this yarn to knit a sweater for Younger Daughter and order myself some STR heavyweight in this colorway and use that for Shawl That Jazz (I know, it would be smaller, because that yarn is lighter-weight).
I think that the real answer is c) cast on for the shawl with this yarn and see what I think. If I like it, tuck it away until the plane takes off, and if I don't, order the other yarn. I'll need to do that quickly if I decide to go that route, though, since I want to leave enough time to be sure the yarn will get here before I go.

Meanwhile, knitting continues in other areas. I have started the ribbing on the linen top.
I don't know if you can tell from that photo, but I started every other purl rib at first (essentially, k6 p2) and did that for about an inch before starting the 2x2 rib. The hope was that doing that would bring the sweater in gradually under the bustline, instead of more dramatically. We'll see. I'm starting to wonder if this is going to be too big (yes, there's that mistaken body visualization again), and am thinking that I should probably put half of it on another needle and try it on now, before I get too much further.
It does shrink up a little bit when it's washed, but not too much. Of course, I could just Trust the Swatch, but that doesn't always work out as well as it should. In the end, a swatch can only tell you so much. It's funny how quickly Rick grasped that when I talked to him about it (one benefit of an engineer's training, I suppose; and speaking of engineers, have you seen this? I laughed. Hard.). He immediately hit on the salient point when he said that a swatch is only so big, and it can't tell you much about what will happen when the weight and pull of all of the yarn in a garment is acting on any particular area of that garment. Of course, only knitting the actual piece will show that, so I swatch as a sort of sacrifice to Yarn, and then just keep my fingers crossed and knit.

I'm also working on this beauty, with which I am wholly delighted.
Thanks to Anne, I finally figured out what I was doing wrong with the faggoting, and ripped back and fixed it, and I am so glad that I did.
This combination has exactly the textured feel I was looking for. It looks like a chest of pirate treasure, like gems all piled up and waiting for me to sink my hands into them. I am going to wear this one a lot.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Good weekend

Is it Monday already? How did that happen? The weekends go so fast sometimes, and those two precious days of not having to wake up at yeurgh-o'clock just aren't quite enough. We did do a lot, and a lot of fun things, this weekend though, so I can't complain.

Saturday, we got up early to go to Older Daughter's soccer game. They lost, but not badly, given that they were playing one man down (no, the other team didn't pull a player from the field), with no substitutes. I've been thinking a lot lately about teams, and kids not showing up for things like practices and games, and the reasons why that happens. I know that sometimes, something comes up -- a family trip, or an emergency, or being sick, or one time when two games get scheduled at the same time -- and that's just the way life is. But I also know (from talking to their parents) that for some of these kids, the reason that they regularly are late to games, or miss them completely, or don't come to practice, is because they're involved in so many other activities that the overlap means that they simply are not able to make it to every practice or game that their activities involve. Let me state that more simply: they are so over-committed that they inherently cannot, under any circumstances, meet all of the obligations associated with those commitments.

Now, it would be easy to say that hey, they're kids, and these are just sports (or music, or whatever), and come on, lighten up. And to a large degree that's true. But I've been thinking about what I see my college students doing, and about how often my fellow faculty members and I complain that our students are regularly late, don't come to class, miss meetings with us, fail to complete assignments, etc. Between the classes that they're taking, and work, and clubs, and teams, and family and and and, it is physically and temporally impossible for them to be able to do all of the things that they say they will do. And so they skip important classes, miss tests, don't do homework (and I can only imagine that they're doing similar things in other areas of their lives), and then are completely and utterly floored when they're told that no, special accomodations will not be made for them because they didn't meet their obligations. Or, they state baldly that they know they can't do everything, and so doing things half-assed is what they've chosen to do instead. And we wonder where they get the idea that it is OK to say they'll do more than they can, and then expect it not to matter.

I guess one interpretation could be that this teaches kids to judge what is most important at any given moment in a busy life. And that is truly an important life skill. But I also think that it is an important life skill to adequately judge what one can actually do. It also seems important to realize that letting other people count on you when you know that you're not going to be able to do the job you say you'll do is generally a bad idea. I'm not sure that this one has easy answers, but it's something I've been hashing through in my head, and you all get to share, heh.

After soccer, and our usual visit to the farmer's market, we had a quick lunch and headed out to Balboa Park to the Museum of Natural History to see the Body Worlds exhibit. We all thought it was truly amazing (this is definitely a ymmv sort of thing); the exhibit was well-arranged, and the explanatory placards included just the right amount of information. I'm pretty sure that the comparison between a healthy lung and a smoker's lung put the girls off smoking forever (and made me glad that, of all the unhealthy things I've done in my life, I somehow escaped that one!). The plastinate that included a spinal fusion like the one that I had was particularly fascinating one to me, in a sort of shuddery kind of way. Human bodies are amazing in their complexity, and this particular exhibit really conveys that viscerally (literally, haha). All in all, though, it was well worth the visit, and we were all happy we went. We also popped over to the zoo to see the new elephant exhibit, but it hadn't opened yet. Alas. So we visited the polar bears and the tree kangaroos instead, and declared ourselves satisfied. (Although I remain convinced that they put those poor kangaroos up in those trees; no way did they get up there on their own.)

After a fabulously yummy dinner at Saffron (thanks for the recommendation Kim and Anne!), we headed home, happy; we even had time for me to read a chapter from Fellowship of the Ring before bedtime.

Yesterday was a quieter day. I stayed home and admired all the flowers in the yard.
And did laundry.
Nope, no pictures of laundry. No pictures of the knitting I did, either, but I did work on the linen shell. I read, and finished an excellent book that I highly recommend: Fieldwork. Talk about a fascinating read. The author gets right into the minds of anthropologists and missionaries, and does it as if he, himself, were doing fieldwork; he does an amazing job of representing their lives, as they themselves see them, all without actually saying that he's trying to be an anthropologist himself. Extremely well-done. A friend loaned it to me, but I may have to own this one myself. I ate it up in record time, and there are parts that were well worth savoring more slowly. Luckily, books, unlike meals, can be re-experienced, and don't cause indigestion.

Neither did the lovely meal that ended the weekend: homemade fish tacos and strawberry-rhubarb crumble. Mmm...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Hookey redux and a sweater

It seems to be the week for fun adventures. On Tuesday, Rick and I played hookey together and went out for lunch and then to see Star Trek. We've never done that before -- bagged on work to go to the movies -- so there was a delightful feeling of getting away with something. Which we weren't, really, given how hard we've both been working lately; Rick's put in several very late nights (early mornings really; working until 2:30 am is just wrong), so it's not like he hadn't put in his hours for the week already. We both had fun at the movies, too; if you like great big space battles in which the good guys always win (except for those poor red shirts, but hey, if you put on a red shirt in Star Trek, you gotta know what's coming), then this is a good one.

And then yesterday, I got to go see Anne and Kim and Beckie! Whoo-hoo! Anne and Beckie (Beckie, do you have a blog I can link to? I forgot to ask...) came in from Ohio this week and are staying with Kim, so we met in Encinitas at Common Threads; such a fabulous yarn store, and just far enough away that I don't pop in all that often. I was very good and walked away with only one skein of yarn (I haven't taken any pictures of that yet, so I'll do a big picture post of new yarn acquisitions in a day or so), although I was terribly tempted by a skein of gorgeous burnt-orange Malabrigo sock yarn. Or the purple. Or maybe the bluey-greeny-grey skein. So much beautiful yarn, so little time...

Alas, I completely forgot my camera, if you can believe. I was so busy trying to be sure that I had my knitting, and that I'd done everything that needed to be done before I abandoned house and work and family for the day, that I forgot it. Anne posted a whole mess o' pics, though, so you can check those out. We went to lunch at Q'ero, a Peruvian restaurant that is absolutely fabulous, and where I ate probably more than I should have, but boy, every bite was delicious. And then we headed off to Chuao to have gelato (mmm....gelato...) and knit for a while. And we talked and laughed and talked. It was a perfect day.

And the best bit was, I'd managed to finish Ondule in time to wear it to show off to Anne. It took a late night (not too late; I was done by midnight-thirty or so -- why does finishing always take so much longer than it seems like it will?) to finish it up, but I'm so glad that I did. I made Rick take some pictures last night; the color is a bit ruddy, but it was getting on towards sunset when we took the pictures, which isn't always the best light.
This sweater was so much fun to knit. Once I got the hang of the pattern, it was completely intuitive, and I was able to read while knitting, which is why it moved so quickly. (I've spent the last couple of days reading textbooks on ethnography while knitting; getting work and knitting done at the same time is a good thing.) As you all know, I generally don't knit sweaters in pieces, but this one was so easy to do, and the pieces came together so nicely (and there are no separate button bands to knit, which made me happy), that it was well worth the piece knitting; I'd recommend this one in particular for anyone who's been thinking about knitting a pieced sweater but hasn't wanted to take the plunge.
I probably could have (should have?) knit it one size smaller; I have this terrible tendency to think that I'm even bigger than I am when it comes to knitting (and yet, somehow, to always be surprised at how big I look in pictures, which suggests that some part of me thinks that I'm smaller than I am; how many of me are there in my brain?) and to choose a larger size than I should. I think it's also because I don't trust my gauge swatches, and I figure that I can always wear a larger sweater (in fact, given that I prefer comfortable, loose clothes, I'm more likely to), but I can't and won't wear one that's too small. I need someone to be there when I go through patterns circling all the numbers for the size I choose, so they can go back through and circle the numbers for one size smaller when I'm not looking.
I love, love, love the corrugated rib in the peplum. Love it. And these buttons make me so happy. I got them in Santa Fe, when we serendipitously found a yarn store, Tutto, while looking for somewhere to eat dinner, and I wandered in and saw them and had to have them. I hadn't even seen the yarn yet when I bought them, but I think that they go together well. And the yarn. Have I mentioned how much I love this yarn? This is Briar Rose's Grandma's Blessing, an absolutely gorgeous superwash merino that is so soft and squishy. It's a delight to knit with, and the results are fabulous. I'm already trying to figure out what I can knit with it next. Maybe I need some more to knit something in the blue/green family? Maybe I should be good and wait until after Sock Summit (this is not some kind of major self-discipline on my part, btw; I'll be at the Briar Rose/Knitspot booth the whole weekend and it seems only fair that I should score some yarn for myself while I'm there, no? After all, I'm saving up my yarn budget for just that).

Tilly had fun getting in on the picture-taking action last night. It's hard to get her to leave me alone long enough to get a picture without a jumping dog in it.
So there you have it. Ondule is finished (yes, I'm wearing it right now, why do you ask?), and I'm going to try to get a few more things off the needles in the next week or so. I have the second Rogue Rose sock to finish, and the seasilk scarf I started, and my Louet linen shell. Meanwhile, I can start plotting the next new project...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Playing hookey

That's what the rest of Sunday felt like. We packed up the car, dog and all, and headed off to the beach. The goal was to go up to San Onofre, where there's a part of the beach that allows dogs (and can I just say, as an aside, that one of the biggest disappointments about moving to Southern California was the utter lack of dog beaches? The closest one to me is in Del Mar -- about 20 miles south -- and it's only about 100 yards of beach, not somewhere that you can actually go for a walk while your dog happily plays. Up north, dog beaches weren't much closer, but they were worth driving for). It's the same part of the beach that allows naked people (I live in a strange world, which is part of its charm), but live and let live, I always say.

However, when we hit the freeway, it was clear that there was no way we were going to make it that far north. The drive is usually about 45 minutes, at freeway speed; we were going less than half that, and there was no sign that the traffic was abating. It was just as bad on the other side, so apparently everyone at Point A was heading for Point B just as fast as the Point Bers were driving to Point A. We got off the road and turned around. But our lunches were packed, and I wanted salt water, so we decided to take a shot on a small stretch of beach that we'd heard about where a blind eye is mostly turned to the presence of dogs (I'm not going to say where, lest I call the attention of less blind eyes), and I'm so glad we did. It was absolutely beautiful, and sandy, unlike the beach at San Onofre, which is mostly big round cobbly rocks.

It was a lovely overcast day, and we explored and wandered.
You can see why this beach is little-patrolled; it's mostly covered in water, even when the tide is going out.
The girls played their favorite game of gathering up very wet sand
and carrying it onto the beach to make dribble castles.
We saw a Bob's Big Boy.
(Do you think he's confused there in that yard?)

I admired the line between sea and sky.
And I got to drive home barefoot with sand between my toes.
I think everyone was glad in the end that the traffic was so bad.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Plus ca change... c'est la meme chose.

I had to laugh today when I opened my mother's day presents, and one of them was this:
Now, I'm not laughing at the gift, which I love. I'm laughing because this will be the first new radio/alarm clock I've gotten since college; Rick's also dates to his first year in college, and when you line them all up:
Behold: the twenty-five year evolution of the Sony Dream Machine. Plus ca change indeed.

I also got this lovely toy, which I've been wanting.
It's The Knit Kit -- how cool is this? It's got everything: a row counter, tape measure, thread cutter, crochet hook, scissors, and stitch markers and needle point thingamajigs (what do you call those again?).
How cool is that? It's a little bigger than palm-sized, and just perfect for throwing into a bag before leaving the house, it'll fit in any bag I have, and be so easy to transfer. Love it.

I worked hard yesterday so I could earn my day off today. We had an early soccer game, after which we went to the farmer's market. Then Rick went off to get the rest of the shopping done while I vacuumed and started laundry. Dinner last night was a celebration of spring: snapper sauteed with onions and peppers and pickled lemons and cilantro and cumin, served with corn tortillas and salad, followed by strawberry shortcake. Mmm....

I also got lots and lots of knitting done.
That's a back, two fronts, and most of a sleeve. With luck, that sleeve'll get finished today, but we'll see. It's an absolutely gorgeous spring day, and my daughters and Rick are calling for a walk, which seems like just exactly the way to spend my mother's day with the girls who make being a mother such a joy, and the husband who keeps me sane while doing it.

(P.S. Happy mother's day, mama -- I love you!)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A piece!

I have produced blog fodder, in the form of the back of a sweater. Go, me. I actually finished this on Tuesday night, but I've been busy since then, so this is the first chance I've gotten to pin the back out and see how it looks. Meanwhile, though, I cast on for the left front side, and am almost to the armhole bind off, so that's going very quickly.
I only lightly steam blocked it to relax it a bit before pinning it out. Once I have the whole thing put together, I'll steam block it a bit more rigorously. (You can see I'm using those lovely blocking boards; they make life so much easier!) I took it out to the front patio to get some fresh air. I think that the colors are showing up truer here than in my earlier pictures.
I adore the colors of this yarn. Chris truly outdid herself, truly; I think she must be a mind-reader, since I don't think I was very clear about what I was looking for, but she nailed it on the head anyway. And these subtle color shifts work so beautifully with Anne's pattern; look at the corrugation above the waist, it's so much fun to watch the pattern emerging as I knit. Mmm...
It's so tempting to just sit down and plug away at this instead of doing anything else, because I'm dying to wear it. Thank goodness the weather has warmed up a little these last couple of days, or I don't think I could resist.
The Douglas irises love the new warmth. So does Tilly.
I rather wish it weren't so gorgeous, as I'm trapped inside working on a paper. The good news is that I (finally!) feel like I'm getting to a break-through point, that place where I have some kind of story arc going, and I can start putting data and analyses and references in the places where they belong. Until I have that order set in my mind, everything feels like a jumbled mess, but now that it's there, I think I can start getting somewhere (because 20 pages of single-spaced notes just doesn't feel like anything somehow, until it has a sense of order).

On a completely different note, my knitting research project is going to get underway imminently; I'll have a lot more to say about it very soon. I have a small grant to pay for things like an online survey site subscription, my new Marantz digital recorder has arrived in the mail (dudes, this thing is so full of features it's scary; I don't come with this many features), and I have my Institutional Review Board's approval to work with Human Subjects (that would be you all). It's time to get this show on the road.