Thursday, August 31, 2006

Having a hard time motivating myself today

My shared office partially overlooks the Willamette river and the large park running along it, so whenever there's a noisy event, I can hear it faintly through the window glass. Today I can see the white tents even and there's faint classical music drifting in, as if someone's playing it in an adjoining office. My coworker says that the symphony does an evening in the park where the do the 1812 overture, complete with cannons and fireworks afterwards. This must be the rehearsel... yeah, I can hear now that very representative part near the end, the one with the cannons punctuating the beginning of the phrase (though cannons for the rehearsel). Geez, Tchaikovsky really could not END a piece, could he? This ending goes on for something like 3 minutes.

The Vampires, uh, the Red Cross, called last night and asked me to schedule another blood donation, and I keep putting them off. I must have some awful notations on my record now - last time they called:

Vampire: This is the Red Cross. We're calling to see if you'd be willing to donate blood on Saturday.
Me: I'm sorry, I don't think I can at the moment, I'm getting married in a week.
Vampire: Oh, so you don't have a lot of spare time right now.
Me: Exactly.
Vampire: Congratulations and we'll call again another time.

This time I've got a nasty little chest cold that just keeps hanging in there - it's been a week now. I can just see the note in the file: "Making up illnesses and wedding(!) just so she doesn't have to donate. - PROBLEM DONOR"


I'm trying to teach myself how to knit (and purl) without looking at what I'm doing. Last night I tried working on the slip-stitch practice sweater while watching Battlestar Galactica (new version; 1st season, 3rd disc. Can I just say, Sharon is pissing me off? She acts all betrayed when the Chief breaks it off because his subordinate covers for him and gets thrown in jail. Why is she at all surprised at his reaction? Also, hello, why couldn't you have bothered to give your security guards a PICTURE of evil dude? You wouldn't have had to say anything except "detain this guy". Bah).

Anyway. I dropped a stitch somewhere near the beginning of the section I was working on and didn't discover it until after watching the shows. Fortunately it didn't travel far, but I had to rip out most of what I'd done that night. Double Bah! Ah well, at least it's small and goes fast.

Sunny today! Yesterday it was 60 degrees and raining. Hooray for summer!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Oooh, come visit me!

Powell's is running a Free Trip to Portland contest! But you only have today and tomorrow to enter, because I am SO LAME about checking my email I just saw this link in their newsletter.

Once you enter they just sign you up for their newsletter, which is full of nifty stuff like book news and interviews and sales at Powell's, a superb book store. Seriously, it's just about the #1 tourist attraction for Portland, a bookstore that is an ENTIRE CITY BLOCK wide and long. Multiple stories too. You can unsubscribe if you hate the newsletter. Really, they are not evil people if you're worried about sharing your email address.

And if books aren't enough, there are 16 yarn stores in the greater Portland metropolitan area. I can think of 9 offhand that are within city limits. Woodland Woolworks is about an hour drive away. Or you could come for the Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival in September. It's about a 45 minute drive away. Do you KNOW how many alpaca farms there are around here?

Prefer fabric instead? Portland is home to Fabric Depot, the largest fabric store west of the Rockies. Who regularly run 30% off EVERYTHING sales, with the occasional 40% off all fabric sales on fridays-saturdays. You like the cotton? They've got 8000 bolts. Yes. OVERWHELMING. The place is as big as a warehouse.

I love Portland, and fall is really a lovely time to visit. Portland's a city of subtle but charming pleasures.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fun with ribbing

Oh the possibilities for that title. No, I'm not going there today.

I mentioned before that I'm making the LOVE MONKEY a sweater. A big reason that I got into this knitting thing is because I've been frustrated by the lack of commercially available sweaters in the colors and designs and fit that I want. Hell yeah, I said, if I can't find them, then I'll make my own. Can't be too hard. har har

He bought this one sweater several years ago and it's his very most favorite - a brown and grey and light brown colorwork pullover with a hint of green and set-in sleeves. He's unhappy at how furry the sweater has become (fuzz fuzz fuzz pill pill pill) so I'm doing it in Karabella Aurora 8, much less hairy than the original mohair/wool/silk/acrylic blend. I'm using slip-stitch designs to achieve the colorwork effect, because I want some quickie gratification on this thing. And because I've never done set-in sleeves nor 2-strand colorwork before and I wish to only work on one at a time.

So I've been swatching, swatching, and thinking for months now but I finally started the sucker a couple weekends ago and immediately realized I needed to deal with the edging (well, duh).

K likes the look of ribbing, but he doesn't want it sucking in so much at the bottom. The 2x2 ribbing on his original sweater has completely stretched out and lost any elasticity it ever had, making it a straight drop from shoulders down to the bottom, and I think he likes that. So my options:

  1. Use a ribbing for the edge that doesn't pull in much

  2. Cast on a bunch of extra stitches for the ribbing then decrease them all as soon as I start the main stockinette/slip-stitch body.

K likes the look of the YxY ribbing, so we're going with option #2.

First of all, I have to figure out just how much a particular type of ribbing pulls in, so I know how many stitches to add to compensate for it.

Figure 1: 3x3, 2x2, and 1x1 knit x purl ribbing (from top to bottom)

swatches are 24 stitches on Aurora 8 - bottom 1.5" in ribbing, then change to stockinette. The ribbing is done in a 4 mm (US 6), and the stockinette in an 5 mm (US 8). Couple lines of garter at the top to try to keep it from rolling too much.

Now, I've always heard that 1x1 was the tightest kind of ribbing, or most elastic. See how little it pulls in compared to the others? The 3x3 pulls in MUCH more but there is less inherent stretchiness.

As far as I can tell, it's the switch from knit to purl that gives the fabric elasticity. But it's the distance between knit/purl changes that cause the "pull-in" factor: the bigger the distance, the more chance the swathes of stockinette have a chance to curl. It seems counter-intuitive to me: the stretchiest ribs are the ones that don't look like they're stretchy.

Just for laughs, I made up some other kinds of ribbings - still on 24 stitches, although I fudged the edges if the repeats didn't work out.

Here we have 3x1 ribbing on top, and mistake rib on the bottom (instead of lining up the columns of knits and purls exactly, you move them 1 off each other. I was surprised at the pull-in on the mistake rib. And for the 3x1, you can hardly tell there's a purl stitch hidden back there for every knit stitches.

K decided on the 2x2 ribbing so now I get to measure the difference between the ribbing width and the stockinette width and compensate by adding the number of stitches needed to make widths almost equal. I have to add stitches in ribbing gauge, not stockinette gauge (i.e. 10 stitches in ribbing is not as wide as 10 stitches in stockinette). I've got a bit of a fudge factor since he doesn't mind a little pull-in.

The caveat with all this is: will all those decreases right after the ribbing look weird? To satisfy myself that the design is viable with all those decreases on one row, I'm working up a test sweater in a toddler size. It'll also give me much-needed practice in doing set-in sleeves and help me figure out whether I should add a selvedge stitch at the edges or not. Any of you all have experience with selvedges (to selvedge or not to selvedge?)

Monday, August 28, 2006

Yes, she actually does knit.

Current projects

Lily of the Valley stole; design by Fiddlesticks Knitting

Sprawled on the patio, soaking up the rays.

No, it's not done yet. I'm in the midst of pattern repeat #21 or 22 (It's far too soul-killing to count them regularly so I don't). I get a few rows done a day -- usually 4 per weekday, when I can get 2 done on the way to work and 2 done on the way back, but since the pattern repeat is 14 rows it's slow-going. I also (erm) occasionally drive to work, and not much knitting gets done on those days. Weekends are hit 'n' miss.

It was going to be a wedding stole but 1) it was too off of white, and 2) I started too late and wasn't willing to drive myself batty to finish it in time. It was all a happy ending as it was too warm to wear a shawl anyway.


Kurt's slip-stitch pullover. This is loosely based on his current favorite sweater - at least, the sizing, shape, and colors.

He would like ribbing but doesn't want it to pull in too much. Hence the various swatches to get an idea how much pulling-in various ribbings have, and what design he'd like. These are 3x3, 2x2, 1x1 (top to bottom on the left), and 3x1 and mistake rib (top to bottom on the right). He settled on the 2x2 and now I'm just experimenting with casting on lots of extra stitches then decreasing them all down as soon as the stockinette/slip-stitch portion starts. I love love love the Karabella Aurora 8! Oh so squishy.

A blue/green diamond quilt that's been on my design wall for an embarassing amount of time. I keep playing with the color and texture arrangement. It's destined to become a bed quilt once I finally decide on something. Below it are some small color studies in Amish quilt colors and patterns that I did earlier this year, and a random piece o' fabric I like. I was (am!) slowly working my way through Roberta Horton's An Amish Adventure: A Workbook for Color in Quilts.

And last: a teaser shot of my finished (and blocked!) Kiri shawl

Thursday, August 24, 2006


FOAD Thursday seems like a fine thing to me.
Think I'm coming down with something. Little headache, little scratch in the throat, little too cold/too warm. No patience for work activities.


At the farmer's market (the not-so-big Wednesday one), I bought:
1 pint of fall raspberries
3 Diamond Princess peaches
1 chocolate rosette (fudge frosting)

Ate that afternoon:
Leftover Saag Paneer from the excellent Indian food cart up the way
Most of the raspberries. Oh, moan, those raspberries, they are FOOD OF THE GODS. I swear they were fresh-picked that morning. I love fall raspberries, better than summer raspberries, the kind most people have.
The entire rosette
1 samosa from above-mentioned Indian cart

Too much food. I'm regretting the rosette now but it was sure tasty. Nothing like a hunk of big moist chocolate cake to take your mind off of things, at least for a little while.

Todo list:

  • Keep trying to contact my cousin, who never received a wedding invitation (damn you USPS, what did you do with it?) and probably hates me now. Gotta find out if that is really her address.

  • Email dressmaker and get a dry-cleaner recommendation for The Dress.

  • Send email to guests. Still trying to find Hoi Toi figurine.

  • Work

  • Email photographer - where are you? where's the pictures? I already know they are mostly gonna suck because as I've mentioned before me = not photogenic. K's not much either. And neither's our cat! So no cute cat pictures, sorry.

  • Buy more thank you notes

  • Finish writing thank you notes

What I feel like doing:

  • Curling up under the warm covers with a comfort book and cat

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I'm feeling low and mean today, not good blog posting conditions, so I'll keep it short. The sky looks like the inside of a ping-pong ball, except greyer. Will it actually rain? No, probably not. (Addendum: it rained while I was finishing this up. Slightly).

Looks like a real fun place to live, hm?
(Image stolen from the Portland riverfront cam, KATU television.)

I wish I had a million dollars (several millions. a billion would be nice), then I'd be able to play fairy godmother and anonymously drop money on people who need it. Can't buy love but could at least buy relief from a whole lot of stress. Like mafia leaving packages on your doorstep, but in a good way.

We'd have to go with cash, otherwise the IRS would get wind of it, and Dog knows there isn't enough tax shelters for the rich for them to pursue. I better stop now before I become too vitriolic. It's a nice daydream, isn't it? Unfortunately I'm not ruthless nor lucky enough to get my hands on that much cash.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Yarn lust

OK, so I go through periods of desiring yarn. No, that's wrong - I'm always desiring yarn, but sometimes I'm just ok with it staying in the shop and me admiring it from afar. Maybe a more apt description is wanting to roll nekkid in a big mountain of alpaca. One that had been delivered to me by USPS.

And I sometimes give in to the ugly side and start trolling ebay and yarn sites for all the fabulous yarns that I would knit into stupendous sweaters and stoles and scarves and socks. I REALLY shouldn't be on mailing lists, 'cuz I get the WEBS notices and just go a little bit bonkers looking at all that nice fiber. At least bonkers in the head, although I've managed to avoid the wallet so far...this summer.

I'm kind of embarassed by all that materialistic desire and I also know I have far, far too much yarn already and have absolutely no need of any more. Sometimes that stops me. Uh, I only ordered one thing from ebay in the last couple weeks. (Sigh. This is why I'm glad I've never been interested in gambling.)

I went to a new (to me) yarn store this weekend and Didn't Buy Any Yarn. It sure was all nice to look at and pet but nothing was singing to me (too loudly) and I was privately embarassed at ALL MY YARN so I just got a couple of circular needles I needed. The yarn store was Abundant Yarn & Dyeworks, a sweet new-ish store down in the southeast part of Portland. Lots o' good stuff, including the only source I know of for PFD yarn in the Portland area.

Mmmm yarn lust.

They did have this particular nice stuff: (I am such a sucker for silk) Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb. I just cannot decide on a colorway:

(pics are from the Lorna's Laces website - I'm hosting the images but the images BELONG TO THEM.)

But, like pringles, I can't stop with just one, can I?
I have to go look at this every time I go into another local yarn store:
Alchemy's Bamboo. Will you LOOK at the sheen on that stuff? Reds all the way baby on this one - Scarlett's Dark Secret is my fave. Although Mist is sure pretty...nah, reds reds reds!

This is pretty damn nice: Handpainted Zephyr from Red Bird Knits.

This stuff looks drop-dead gorgeous, and I could get behind some hand-dyed, laceweight silk from Shaefer, no problem.

The Silk Garden at WEBS is calling to me and I keep trying to drown out the noise. And have y'all had a chance to touch this? Alpaca and Silk from Blue Sky. Fabulous.

Oh, too much temptation. Back to the stole before I blow this month's paycheck.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Dammit, I missed APNQ! (Actually, could have gone, just didn't have the energy to drive 3 hours to Seattle and face the crowds.) Always there is such fabulous stuff at the biennial Association of Pacific Northwest Quilters quilt show, it inspires me. (Sadly the APNQ site has taken down their pics of previous show's winning quilts so I don't have much to show you). All you people who think quilting is little old ladies with thimbles making log cabin quilts, you better show me all those granny square afghans you're crocheting.

Green & Grey

Portland has been grey grey grey and cool this week. WHERE'S MY AUGUST?? Hello, I might bitch and complain and slow down to sloth speed when it gets above 95 F, but hey, couldn't we manage some some 80s here, sometime? Yesterday's high? 72. Bleh.

I tend to fixate on the weather, and the greyer it gets, the less energy I have and the harder it is to wake up. I love the summer and the long hours and the heat. The summer I've been EXPECTING, anyway.

I promised you pictures, and here I haven't posted for two days. Aieee! Cake topper is still MIA, bleh. I have only completed 7 of 38 thank you notes. I need to catch up.

I am really annoyed at something at work that should really not be bothering me, so that makes it a good time to post, hmm? I'm just so tired of the little dribs and drabs of problems that keep cropping up on this project. That and really, the shittiest software I have EVER worked with. bah.

We got married in a garden - the Leach Botanical Garden. Despite the unfortunate name, it's a beautiful place. As wedding sites go, it was fairly inexpensive and we had both the wedding and reception there. K & I both liked it because it's mostly a working garden and not fru-frued up just for weddings, except an arbor and a grassy area that they keep watered and green for special occasions. Oh yeah, and there's an attached house just in case (with my luck, I knew I had to to have a backup).

My friend Carmen took this picture, looking down at the tables for dinner:

You can see the dahlia bouquets on each table.

We were having everyone come out to visit us in Portland, and I felt like showing off the city a little. One thing the PNW is very good at is dahlias. About this time of the summer they bust out in blooms and if you've ever been to Pike Place Market in Seattle in high summer, you'll have noticed all the gorgeous $5 bouquets of dahlias. They come in white, red, orange, yellow, purple, and even a vague green, all the way from pale delicate pink through day-glo fuschia.

Since my mother and mother-in-law (and sisters in law and etc) didn't get much chance to actually plan and organize the event, I asked if they could do the flower centerpieces for the tables. I wanted to keep it simple, with just a simple vase and a bouquet of dahlias for each table. I thought, how hard could it be? The farmers markets are selling mixed dahlia bouquets for $5-10 or $1/stem around August, so I must be able to get some easily and not too expensively.

It worked out fabulously. We went to Sauvie Island Dahlias, a U-pick farm about 1/2 hour drive away, armed with clippers and buckets of water. We just wandered the rows, looking at flowers and saying "ooh, this one's pretty" and cutting them. I just told everyone to choose whatever they liked - they all went gorgeously well with each other anyway. I took maybe 1/2 hour?

The vases were from a thrift store and were $1 a piece; probably from someone else's wedding. Yay! I didn't set out to be cheap but I'm pleased that I spent less and had flowers everyone seemed to like. (Do I grow dahlias at home? No: because they are a Big Pain in the Derrière to grow. Look, I barely get around to weeding and you want me to... dig up tubers every year? ha ha.)

The cake was delicious and was from the Blue Gardenia Bakery. Layers were alternating chocolate and vanilla and the frosting is buttercream mixed with blackberries and a blackberry filling. They really outdid themselves, the cake was really fabulous. Cake! Woo!

Another of Carmen's pictures. I like this one of us.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Reality rears its banal head

All back. The honeymoon was lovely, despite the 6 hour trip it took getting there (7 hours back. Stupid Portland traffic). Tuesday we were so braindead after the whole weekend and the trip we just hung around the hotel most of the day, with a couple of little dinky hikes just to move around a little. The rest of the week was a bit more eventful. Sorry, I was still decompressing this weekend and didn't post, but it was lovely just to lie about at home and read and play video games for a couple days. I am the laziest laze ever.

I haven't spent much time on the southern Oregon coast and I didn't realize how dramatic it is. Yes, pictures, soon! Promise!

I sort of miss being the center of attention. But only a little. I really enjoyed seeing everyone, hanging out with my family and K's family, seeing my new 2-month-old niece and K's 14-month-old niece. But it's also exhausting for me to be on all the time and I'm glad to get time to just veg again. I don't particularly want to be back at work; it feels completely anticlimactic after the Big Event, but there's the bills, and they need to be paid. I'm back to routines and gym 6-days-a-week and riding the train to work every morning. Which is sad and pedestrian after all the fuss but a little comforting at the same time.

I'm still getting used to wearing a ring (I don't wear any others) all the time. Freaky. I think it's a little tight. I knit contintental style (yarn held and tensioned in the left hand) and I had to adjust my holding style just a little. Side effects that you don't think about before the wedding.

My new niece Olive on the train!

That's the Rose Garden arena in the background, while going over the bridge on the Willamette river to downtown. It's a view I see twice every day when I don't have my head down knitting (look, I'm doing lace right now. I'm no good at knitting lace and not looking at it at the same time).

Sunday, August 06, 2006

here we are

Well, I'm a married woman now. (K reads that and sez: "you're the wife now." I remind him that he's still the LOVE MONKEY.) I'm still partially working in adrenaline-hopped, what-do-I-need-to-do-now mode. It's hard to finally stop running around and realize that the entire thing is now over. We leave tomorrow for a place down the coast; we couldn't really decide on a real honeymoon and neither of us wanted to plan for one while also planning the wedding, so we just decided to get the hell out of Dodge for a few days. Nice little hotel (hopefully), some not-too-taxing old growth forest hikes, big soaking tubs, and a good chef.

It actually all went very well. The food was fantastic (all is forgiven with the caterers), everyone seemed to have a good time, and, quelle miracle, I didn't dissolve into a puddle of teary goo during the ceremony. That came later.
The cake tasted pretty good even if it wasn't made by my favorite baker and all the flowers were gorgeous. It didn't rain and it wasn't a million degrees, and my hair even turned out fabulous. The flowers in it were drooping by the end of the night but you really, fate had already given me a pass that evening.

The worst that's happened is we can't find the cake topper, which is making me sick with worry because it was borrowed from my friend, who used it for HER wedding. I feel awful. I'll call the caterers and the venue tomorrow and see if any of them know where it is since none of the helpers or wedding parties had it.

Y'all probably want a picture. I don't think this looks like me at all.

My caption for this picture would be "Yes, I Have A Bosom!"

The whole experience was lovely but still somewhat surreal. Strange to be the center of all that attention.

I finished all of a single row on the Lily of the Valley stole since Tuesday. It was too warm for a wrap anyway, so hooray for not torturing myself to finish it and ignoring all the many other things that needed to be done.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I promise

I'm not an astrology believer. But Crazy Aunt Purl sure is dead on for this month. I am back to obsessing about everything. Don't know how to feel anymore. I snapped at K today and felt immediately awful. Maybe it's that I'm not much of a conversationalist, it's not easy, and people have begun to arrive. And I am not a good talker. I run out of things to say.

The expected wrinkle in the plans has arrived, extensibly because we upped the people count from 35 to 60 two weeks ago. The people who we're renting all the silverware and linens and glasses and such from can't deliver such a big load on Saturday. They only can do it Friday. Venue says they don't have facilities for storage and no, Friday is a no go. So now what? I guess we'll have several heavy crates of tableware, glasses, and linens delivered to our house and rent a van or something to take them to the venue.

I keep telling myself to relax and enjoy this time, but I feel always on edge. As if everyone is watching and evaluating me. As a kid, I used to love to be the center of attention. But now I'm not so comfortable with the spotlight. Illuminates the love handles, you know?

I have not yet finished writing my vows. We decided to each write our own vows for the marriage ceremony, and read them. K says he wants us to know what the other is going to say ahead of time, but he's being secretive about his. Hmmph. He claims to be a non-traditionalist but then it's all "you father should walk you up the aisle" and "what do you mean you are thinking about not wearing white?" Heh.

I'm working on them now (look at me, avoiding work through blogging, ha). I thought I was a fairly good writer but it's proving difficult writing phrases that are simple, true, heartfelt, and yet not maudlin or clichéed. I don't know why I'm worried about clichéed, as this whole wedding ceremony thing? Been done a lot of times before. No matter what I write, someone, somewhere will have already said it.

But I've always had a hard time expressing personal, private thoughts in text to an audience. Hate, hate, hated those "opinion" papers I had to do. I know that it's worth doing, and most things worth doing aren't easy, but I don't know where all my energy has gone.

I blocked the Kiri shawl the other day. It's not my favorite, but I think it turned out very nice. I made it way to big, of course. Heh. Knitted it at a tighter gauge than recommended and did a preliminary block a few rows in but my gauge relaxed a bit over those next 4 balls I guess. Blocking sure does something magical to lace, even to this fuzzy mohair & silk Douceur et Soie. It's a soft cornflower blue called "French Blue" that I picked up sale at a local yarn shop when I had no idea at all what I was going to use it for but oooh soft! Bah. No self control whatsoever.

Ah well. Better get back to it. I'll leave you with a picture of the wildflowers we seeded the parking strip with. They looked fabulous in June. Not so fabulous now in August. California poppies, blue desert bluebells, and some white wildflowers from a wildflower mix. The second is a single pink California poppy.