Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Premeditated vehicular snakeslaughter

Dear Blog-

I did it. I confess. Last night when I was coming home from my 'Italian For Beginners' class. I saw him crossing the road, all stretched out on a bit of blacktop patching and pointed towards our house. I didn't even have to swerve to get him. Never, Never have I deliberately run over a living thing with my car. Sure, I've been tempted, who hasn't? What woman with a rollicking good case of PMS hasn't thought to herself that she would feel a heck of a lot better if she could just get into her car, run over a living thing on her way to Blockbuster to rent a chick flick, and spend the rest of the day sitting on her couch eating a huge container of cheese balls and Reese's mini peanut butter cups while sobbing her eyes out over someone else's pretend inept attempts at finding true love? Maybe take a nap after.

Sure, I could have waited for him to get back to my house, so that this morning he could greet me at the front door as he likes to do. And then I could call the fire department again to come take him away. I know lots of women who wouldn't object to regular visits from firemen. Only they aren't as fun to watch when you are a dumpy, white-haired, bifocals-wearing middle-aged woman. Let me take that back. They are probably just as much fun to watch, if only they didn't see you in your dumpy, white-haired, middle-aged, bifocals wearing (and surely temporary, yes?) current state. But they kind of freak out when you hide in the bushes to watch them as they come to take your rattlesnake away.

So I killed him. I didn't even have to swerve - I just apologized to God, closed my eyes and drove straight ahead. And I'm not a bit sorry, either.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Xmas in September

Dear Blog-

So I was really tempted to add in projects that I did last Christmas for gifts, then realized how anal I'm getting about putting all the pictures on that I can find so far. I have decided to spare you that. It would be right up there with looking at someone else's vacation or baby pictures. I'd rather smack my teeth out with a hammer.

Instead, as one last bit before I make my husband download whatever other pictures are on the camera yet, I thought I would put in a picture of my anniversary present.

Which I have not taken off since. Ok, I take them off to sleep.

While searching high and low for that picture, I did find a couple pictures of more recent projects...

The first picture is of a felted baby bootie pattern I designed that uses a Turkish cast-on.

Next is another of my designs that I call a Geranium Leaf bag, because of the crocheted edge.

Then comes my design called the Elements Shawl, which is great for using up stash. Stash reduction was a large part of my focus for projects this summer, so I designed several patterns with that in mind.

In that same thought goes the Kaliedescope Bag...

And while I'm at it I may as well hunt down the photo for my Sock Project bag, another of my designs that I developed out of a desire to have a knitting bag that wouldn't fit a small child and two cats...

followed by my Ell of a Bag, another design for those who don't want to carry an enormous knitting bag...

I love fall best

Even tho we live in the desert and we should hit the mid-80s today, you can still feel that fall is upon us. The mornings are cooler, the sun is not so blow-torch-on-your-head intense. What knitter doesn't love fall and the idea that soon you can start wearing all your lovely, big wooly knitted things again? The change of seasons gives us an excuse for our obsessions. In the back of my mind there is that niggling fear that eventually I will have knitted up all the sweaters I could ever possibly wear, and either have to move to Siberia in order to make use of them year-round, or that I'll then start knitting up decorations for every room in the house and start looking like one of those obsessive lunatics.

I'm sorry? What did you say? I'm what? Oh, shut up!

Let's throw some pictures in!
It is taking Blogger forever to load pictures again. And there is just so much watching of the neighbors one can do before you get bored and have to start cleaning the house for the day.

The pattern for this sweater comes from the website, called, for obvious reasons, the Aran Lace Cropped Cardigan. The yarn is also from Elann, and it was a pleasure to work with, a wool and alpaca blend. I took this project with me when I went in March to have a benign breast tumor removed, and there I learned an important lesson- Never try to knit lace when you are nervous or high! And bring a shawl with you to wear in pre-op, because your shoulders get really, really cold. I used recycled glass for the beads and just happened to have some on hand that worked really well with this color of yarn.

It seems that just about every knitter is obliged to knit an Einstein coat, so here is mine. Only, as you may be able to tell, I changed the pattern quite a bit. The original is knitted with a sideways panel on the bottom (as mine is), with sts picked up along one long side to form the upper body. As mine is. Then they immediately divide for front and back, work those, and then pick up sts from one upper front to the upper back, and work these as sleeves. The pattern finishes with sewing a long seam from wrist to neckline, and then the collar is knitted on.

Well, I just can't leave anything alone. To start, I made the lower section longer than the knee-length given in the pattern. One thing I noted from the schematics is that the strong design line in the pattern where the upper body starts happens to fall at waist level. Honey, I'm past the age where I want to call attention to my waist, so I raised that line to just below bust level (it has since stretched down to waist level anyway). Next, the original sleeves would also start at waist level, which to me would feel like awkward batwings. So I worked the upper body in the round for 5-6 inches, then divided for front and back. This gave me a proportion that was more similar to a drop-shouldered sweater knitted in the round. When I finished the upper body I did a 3-needle bo at the shoulders, and then picked up around the sleeve openings to work the sleeves after refiguring how often I would want to place my decreases.

I made this with Cherry Tree Hill Potluck Bulky, and found that unfortunately the pattern does not call for enough yarn - after asking on the knitting lists Is it just me, or...? I found that everyone needed 300-500 additional yards. So one sleeve is lighter in tone than the rest of the coat. However, since this was a potluck nothing is an exact match, and it makes for an interesting garment. The buttons are - you guessed it - recycled glass. I liked the idea of glass being heavy and chunky, it just seemed to suit this piece.

Ok, off to work to teach someone to make a felted fish...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Dineh vest

The Dineh Vest was another pattern that I had looked at for some time before just breaking down and buying the yarn and getting it out of my system. In Folk Vests it is shown in a red colorway with black and light blue contrast. I chose to work this in colors that are more traditional according to the Navajo rugs I have. I have never been a vest person but this is one that convinced me that perhaps I could be. Again, so delightfully warm in winter when it is not quite cold enough to turn up the heat, and another project that I have gotten many compliments on.

The pattern is worked from the center back outwards, the idea being that you cast on in the center back and then sew the center seam after you finish both sides. The idea of a center baack seam is not a pleasant one, so I use a provisional cast-on and then grafted the two pieces together when I was all done. My advice to you? Never try to Kitchener some 200 sts at night in black yarn. Just a word to the wise. But it was worth the trouble, that bit looks gorgeous.

I also chose to work this in a two-handed fair isle technique, which was possible by working the private side rows backwards. So yes, I worked this project in a two-handed, backwards knit fair isle. Yes, it was a lot easier than it sounds, and the inside is a thing of beauty.

You know...

... There is that long gap of time in between when one's husband gets home from work, and when you can get near the computer again. Here are some of the projects that I still have waiting in the wings to talk about. I've decided to do perhaps one or two at a time, until I master that whole 'put the photo where you want it' thing.

I fell in love with the Lady Eleanor's Entrelac Stole from Scarf Style and I spent a couple of months amassing the Silk Garden needed to make this baby. Although I already knew how to do the technique this was my first entrelac project, and I found the directions less clear than they ought to have been. I think too many times pattern writers 'dumb down' patterns in an attempt to make them easier for the novice or even the lazy knitter, and they are not really doing anyone a service after all. This directions for this project did not have you knitting backwards on the private side rows when that would have been (and was, I assure you) infinitely easier to do on those tiny little 8 stitch rows. Knitting backwards is so darned easy to pick up that I have had students get it instantly, and after a few practice rows they are ready to dive right into entrelac.

Anyway, I really, really love this project, it is one of my favorite things that I have made. Last winter after finishing it (in just two weeks) I wore it alllll the time - both at home just for snugliness, and out and about - and I did get tons of compliments on it. The Silk Garden was an excellent choice, IMHO, as the color changes corresponded almost exactly with the changes in squares and it is delightfully soft. The yarn called for in the pattern would have been in the neighborhood of $300, I felt like I got such a great deal spending about $100 on Silk Garden. Several people in our guild and at our shop have made this since seeing mine, and AFAIK, all of them have chosen Silk Garden as well. It is fascinating to see how different this piece looks in each different colorway.

Hmmm... unfortunately I seem to have loaded these sideways. Just turn your head til I get the tech support away from the other computer.

Ready for more show and tell?

I'll be delighted when I am all caught up. This time I'm going to put all the pictures in at once, and see if I can add text around them. Experiments in blogging!

Oh, crap! I forgot to move the cursor down before adding in the pics. I guess I will just have to talk up here. The bear is named Sasha, and he was knitted for the new son of a friend of ours. He married a Russian woman and we wanted to help welcome their little Alexander into the world.

I had first knitted a rabbit for Alexander, but somehow my husband was pretty sure that this was meant for him to take to work with him. Because this idea is too cute for words I couldn't say no, and to work the rabbit went. Actually, I think he is at the LYS right now, I'll have to recover him so G can take him back to work. And I know I have a rabbit picture here somewhere. These both came from the book Knitted Toys. (I think.)

Then below you see the lovely lady mouse. She is from an Alan Dart pattern. I think AD is the dog's bullocks, and I have also knitted a male mouse for - you guessed it - G to take to work. It stands next to his computer and keeps him company. He works for the greatest company, not only do they all have toys at their computer, but from time to time management gives them NEW toys. I could deal with that. As long as I could knit, too. Isn't her little mouse butt cute?

an exciting morning in the desert

My morning was not dull.

I was walking past the front door and what do I see looking in the screen door at me but a rattlesnake. And I'm serious, he was up on his hind legs looking in, sticking his tongue out. Saturday evening G and I were watching a movie when we heard some familiar noises out on the front porch, and sure enough there were 4 javelina eating the plants. Well, we banged on the windows, banged on the door, yelled, threw things at them, they would NOT go away. Finally G got the excellent idea of throwing an orange to the other side of the driveway and they went trotting off after it just long enough for us to get to the garden hose and scare them off with water. I swear I felt like I was in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, I had to hold them off with water while G picked up the mess on the porch. So picture here we are screaming, banging things, hosing them down, cleaning up the mess, etc. We finally get rid of them and five minutes later, I'll be damned but they're back! But this time I hear a distinct sssssssssssssssssss! Oh, G says, that must be a leak in the hose (he said that last time). No, honey, that's a rattlesnake. Yes, behind the pot we were just cleaning up is a coiled rattlesnake, and he has decided he has had enough of this nonsense and enough of the javelina. Those stupid javelina didn't even have the sense to get away from the rattler. So I called the fire dept and they came out and took him away.

But not far enough away, apparently... I can just picture him thinking, as they snagged him again this morning, Damn! It took me two days to get back here!
I created this list a few weeks ago while in email conversation with one of my sisters, whom I have turned into a yarn junkie... Going to one of the websites for AA, I used their 12 Steps as the basis for a similar list for knitaholics. Enjoy!

The 12 Steps of Yarnaholics Anonymous

1 ) We admitted we were powerless over yarn--that our stash closets had become unmanageable.

2 ) Came to believe that more time to knit could restore us to sanity.

3 ) Made a decision to never turn our yarn and our needles over to the care of any security people, pretending we don't understand them.

4 ) Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of our yarn stash.

5 ) Admitted to the Yarn Goddess, to ourselves and to our husbands the exact nature of our irrational desires for more yarn.

6 ) Were entirely ready to let no one remove our yarn stash without a fight.

7 ) Humbly asked Her to remove our moths.

8 ) Made a list of all the projects we haven't finished, and became willing to finish to them all.

9 ) Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would allow them to get to that basket of sale yarn before we did.

10) Continued to take yarn stash inventory and when we had too much promptly hid it.

11) Sought through knitting and meditation to improve our tolerance of other, non-knitting people as we understand them, praying only for them to gain the knowledge of knitting for our sake and the talent to carry that out.

12) Having had a rough awakening after staying up too late to finish that sweater front last night, we tried to carry this message to yarnaholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

Not my day...

Started with chipping a plate as I was washing dishes this morning, a big chip out of the rim. :-( Then on the way home from doing waxing on one of my clients I got a ticket for not stopping at a stop sign. I could swear I stopped. He says, no, I looked, but I just rolled right through. Hmmm... Thought about doing the traffic school, but it would cost the same as the ticket, AND bore me half to death for 8 hours. They probably wouldn't let me knit either.

From there I went to vote at the primaries. The little fluffy haired old lady got all worked up because the address on my license and the address they have for me on the voter rolls are not the same. I told her the address on my license is corrected at DMV, and that my voter registration card shows the same addy as they have on their list. Well, she was all worked up. Did DMV send me a sticker to put on my license? How does she know I'm entitled to vote in this district? She just doesn't know what to do. I might have to go over and talk to those two ladies over there about voting on a special ballot. I said Look, Sister. I have been voting in this district for the last 6 years. My new house is TWO DOORS DOWN from my old house. And I have been voting for the last two years since I moved from the old house to the new house and no one has given me a hard time yet. Why now? Oh, she says, well, they are getting to be real sticklers for these things. That maybe I have something else I can show her with my correct address on it. I looked at her (all the while resisting the strong urge to grasp her firmly by her little fluffy white cardigan lapels and bring her forehead smartly and rapidly into contact with my own before replacing her in her folding chair) and said I have no idea what you think I can produce! I can show you my checkbook, it has my name and my address. Well, she looked at it but still wasn't sure what to do. All the while my eyebrows are hoisting further and further up my forehead. A word to the wise- if my eyebrows start raising or are already raised, back away slowly, don't make any sudden moves, don't turn your back and don't run. I was just taking breath to ask her if she actually thought she was NOT going to allow me to exercise my legal right to vote, when someone else came along and asked if my voter registration card had the correct address. YES! I said, I just told her that. Then that person told Old Fluffy it was all right, to go ahead and let me vote. After I was done, they told me I could take an 'I Voted' sticker off of the roll if I wanted one. I'm taking the whole damned roll! Just try to stop me!

Then I came home and wanted to add the rest of our monthly bills to the online bill pay system at our bank, but I don't get a statement from the cell phone company. So I call to ask for their mailing address. After speaking to the computer for a few minutes, I get a human. How can I help you, he asks? I want your mailing address so that I can set up automatic payment through my bank. Well, he says, as if speaking to an idiot. There are two ways you can make automatic payments. I already know where he is going with this. You can pay through us, or you can pay through your bank. I want to pay through my bank, I said slowly and distinctly, through clenched teeth. Oh, he says, then you'll have to talk to your bank to set that up!

Well, Dear Readers. That was my last straw. I told him loudly and with great feeling that I KNOW I have to set that up through my bank, but I can't do that without their blessed mailing address.

I have spent the rest of the afternoon knitting.

Saturday at the library, while G is reading his magazine and I am knitting and waiting for him to be ready to go, after listening to the old man across from us wetly sniffing REPEATEDLY for ten minutes til I wanted to smack him, then he wipes his nose on his fingers and keeps reading his magazine with his snotty fingers. Then someone behind us on the computers keeps making calls on her cell phone. Next an enormous woman comes scuffing up in her flip flops. Scuff, scuff, scuff, scuff, scuff across the carpet. Picks out her magazine and sits down opposite us, and begins to PANT LIKE A DOG. I turned to Graham and said, Suddenly I understand why security people see knitting needles as potential weapons.

OK, this is pathetic

I'll admit it. But I finally have found where all those old pics are that were downloaded from the camera! Oh, happy day. So here I sit at the computer on this gorgeous September day in the desert with the intention of getting all that old stuff blogged about and bring this beast up to the present.

The problem is I just knit too much, and if I have spare time that is what I am doing. So let's go back to winter of 05/06...

Here is the bag I did in Noro Kureyon for a gift exchange our book group does. It was hotly contested. The button is one that I found in one of the huge bins of buttons that I was given by a woman that I happened to meet in the Dr's waiting room as I was knitting away. I think it really suits the feel of this bag.

OTOH, in the gift exchange I ended up with... Oh, something I really didn't want and someone else did, so I gave it to her to keep.

Oh heck, let's just get all the bags out of the way, shall we? Or at least all the bags that I made before 4-22, when these pics were downloaded. Someday I may even find the photos that came after that...
This bag is one that I made for my sister as a birthday gift last February. The little dots you see are recycled glass beads that I worked into the bag as I knitted. After felting it takes a little work to go around and pop them all up to the surface of the fabric, but one of the cool things about these is that when you look into the inside of bag, the beads act as little stained-glass windows that let a glow of light into the bag. Again, as you may have guessed, I used Kureyon for this bag.
Ok, I have to admit that it is ticking me off that each new photo I add automatically appears at the top of the page, so that I have to keep dragging it down in this little tiny window, paragraph by paragraph until I get it where I want it to be. They are also taking about a month each to upload to blogger, so in the meantime I go look out the window and watch them unload our new neighbor's stuff from the truck. Last time all the workers were lounging about in the neighbor's patio chairs in the shade, so instead I went and finally removed the dead flowers from the vase of dead flower water that has sat on the dining room table a few days past their sell-by date. Hopefully that will take care of the, um, 'dead' smell in the room. I'm pretty sure it's not me...

But anyway, that last bag is one that I made for my cousin Colleen. She is a horsewoman extraordinaire, I'm not sure if she has functional legs, and if she did have, would she opt to use them if there is a horse at hand? This bag reminded me of Navajo blankets, and so by a very circuitous route it seemed right for a horsewoman. I loved it so much that afterwards I made myself THIS bag... (ok, wait while it uploads and see if we can check out any more of the new neighbor's belongings. Being the nosy neighbor in the house with the big windows sure is fun!)

I decided when making this bag that I wanted an edge around the opening to make it easier to open the bag with that fierce snap closure, without looking like one was wresting with it. Unfortunately, my single crochet edge turned out much too floppy for the rest of the bag, making the bag opening huuuuge. Hmmm... Ok, so I took some suede thong I had and laced it around the top edge of the bag, gathered it in a bit and Voila! It looks like I MEANT to do that! I think. I love the colors of this yarn. Noro yarns are just such a delight to knit with, if only to experience the color changes as they come along.

Ok, bear with me, I only have a few bags to go for late winter and spring...

This bag was done for one of the women in book group, who loved the Holiday exchange bag and wanted one made for another book groupee. I know this will sound like I need to get a real life, but to me the bags kind of tell me what they want to be when they are finished, and these colors just reminded me of circuses and pennants, and so that is how it came to be done with points. When I was finished with the bag I brought it into the LYS where I teach to drop it off for the woman to come fetch it. Apparently I could have sold the darned thing several times over, and because of that bag I wrote up a pattern for adding points to bags, because it seemed the easiest way to answer the question of how to do that for everyone who saw this bag and liked the idea.

I do, BTW, knit with yarns other than Kureyon.

Next and final bag of this post-

This bag was one that I made with a tweedy yarn. Do yourself a favor, don't try to felt tweedy yarn. It was a beautiful tweed from Rowan, I think , and it had a lovely mix of fall colors. It was so gorgeous to work with. Unfortunately, after it was felted it came out looking like I had just skinned a bear and tried to make a bag from the pelt. It was fugly. All the colors were lost and it was just a thick, brown felt. So I puzzled over it for a long time, and then finally started working this design on it by needle felting. It took a couple of months to finish, working a bit at a time. My Mom saw it at Thanksgiving and loved it, so it was one of her Christmas presents. When I teach two-dimensional needle-felting I take it in to show my students, and tell them that this was my first needle-felting project. Which it was.
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