Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Ain't no thing

Aww, I'm not any green thumb. The gardenia came pre-potted from a garage sale and I just put it up in the window. I water it when it looks dry. I just got lucky that it likes the light and conditions. I repotted it last summer since its roots were growing out the bottom.

I'm too wordy today, you know when you get all blab blab blabby and can't shut up? Those are my fingers, today. And I'm not even caffeinated up. Sorry.

Last night I fell asleep trying to figure out the raglan and where it went wrong. What makes my head explode is that it's way too big when I try it against a favorite sweater, yet I measured the favorite sweater to get the raglan's dimensions, and when I measure the raglan, it matches pretty close. For example: the back is measuring 18.5" wide right now, at about 8" down the raglan. The favorite sweater back measurement is 22.5". By my calculations, it'll be about 22" wide when I reach the point at which the sleeves are divided off. RIGHT ON TARGET.

Yet when I put it against the favorite sweater: TOO BIG. Same as when it's tried on by K. I must've measured favorite sweater wrong, I guess.

I'm going to rip it back again and do the raglan increases once every 3 rows instead of every other row. Working out the math, that should take 20" off the width by the time the sleeves are divided off. Maybe too much. I wonder if I could do a 1/3 scheme then switch to 1/2 or would it look too weird. Hmmm.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


My potted gardenia is blooming.

It's not, shall we say, the most perfectly formed of flowers, but the fragrance fills the whole room and about knocks you down when you come in the door. All from one small flower.

A gardenia isn't exactly the best choice of houseplants, I know, especially here in the Northish where there isn't a whole lot of sunlight during the winter. I bought it from an apartment sale for $5. I give it a siesta in partial sunlight on the front steps during the summer. It gets by, but it grows pretty spindly over the winter and it would really prefer more humidity in the summer.

I still love it, for these intensely fragrant creamy white blooms that show up in the middle of winter. They open all at once, going from a tightly wrapped bud to an explosion of petals in just a few hours. Despite how you look, sometimes, you just gotta bloom.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Sunny Weather

It smelled just a little like Spring today. It's still cold, down in the 40s, but it was warm in the sun and there was just this hint in the air of a wet greeny smell. Normally I'm all a-ok with winter but this one has seemed long and cold, if not particularly dreary.

The cable twist socks enjoy a sunbathe on a bench.
Turnin', turnin', turnin', keep those heels turnin', rawhide!

I got a bee in my bonnet last weekend and worked them a bit so it won't take a month to finish them. Maybe another week, if I can get the gusset done this weekend. The image is a little light but fairly true to color - K the love monkey wears only the dark socks. And by dark he means grey or black.

I am also somewhat obsessed with entering this month's Purlescense Storybook Competition. Camaderie in the land of Alices and all that. If only I can just get the idea out of my head and into yarn. Things coming out of my head usually don't translate well so this will be no small feat for me.

Yeah, baby, show off those twists:

Thursday, January 25, 2007


Those quotation marks in the title? Not quotation marks. Instead, they are "sarcasm tongs." They depend highly on context for differentiating them from regular quotes. They're my sarcasm markers for text even though no one understands that but me and a few other people on an obscure messaging system. Nobody gets the joke when I laugh at signs that use quotation marks for "emphasis."


Krista said something the other day in the comments that made me bust a gut laughing:

This is beginning to sound like a weight watchers meeting. "When I really crave chocolate cake I eat an apple and that gets rid of my craving!" Yeah, right. I still want chocolate cake, but we're in this together. UFO's ahoy!

Mmm, chocolate cake. However, I am remaining strong. I even went into a yarn store the other day and Bought Nothing. It really is a damper on the yarn lust to think of the pile (and it is a pile) of yarn awaiting me. It's embarassing how far I've let this go. Too much stuff and not enough Do.

It's not really been a great week. It's one of those weeks where I just feel low, unworthy, tired, dull, profligate, stupid, and generally a worthless person. Please don't say anything, I'm not angling for sympathy, it's just a statement of fact. The self-esteem, he is not so high in the first place, no? It makes me reticent because everyone gets tired of the whining.

Usually I can wait these little episodes out, and I have been feeling a bit better today, but they sure play hell with my eating and sleeping and drinking plans. Self-medication. The forebrain knows that the chocolate bar will just make me feel like crap, but the hindbrain knows that it will feel good for at least a few seconds first. Uh, maybe you could say it's been a week of instant gratification. And no pictures.

BUT, I have not bought yarn for me. That's something, isn't it?

In other adventures, Karen asked how the Run-a-gogo has been going. Here's what I've got so far:

Walking: 30 miles
Gym (elliptical trainer): 24.6 miles

Seems like a lot, but really: not so good. I get a freebee, no-strain 100 miles just because I walk 2 miles every day going to and from work. I shouldn't even be counting it toward the total there. It's good for my health, but it doesn't do much for the fat.

To be effective for weight loss, I need to be doing sweat-and-pulse-rate-raising exercise 4-5 times a week, 40 minutes a session. I know this from personal long-time experience. An average session is about 3.5-4 miles on an elliptical trainer or treadmill (I don't run. Bad knees). It'd be better if I were weight lifting as well, but I'm not ready to spend the time nor energy to go there yet.

So my Secret Goal all along has been 200 miles total, not counting the daily walk. I included the walking total so I didn't feel quite so wussy.

This is all only about ME, of course. Your mileage will vary. I've got the genes of a yak: highly optimized to survive long, viciously cold winters by efficiently handling fat supply, and plenty of thick hair for insulation. ha ha

Friday, January 19, 2007

Daydreaming about Yarn

Did you *see* the gorgeous stuff that Rabbitch has dyed up? Mmmm, yum. Rabbitch, you enabling yarn ho, I'm on a diet. Feh.

I am dreaming of the Yarn today. (Do you think Plato's Perfect Form Yarn came as a single Yarn, or were there different forms for each fiber and fiber mixture?)

All that lovely squishiness: the True Blue wool, the soft and flirty cashmere, the cloud of alpaca, the exquisite stinky silk. I cannot get the hand-dyed alpaca laceweight out of my head. Or the pale green silk I lusted after for MONTHS before snatching it up when a local yarn store sold off their entire Blue Moon Fiber Arts supply at 40% off (oh yes. The stars aligned, or something).

Today the hard plastic keyboard at work is paining me. (But only metaphorically; it's my stupid lower back that's paining me literally, but that pissant better go away soon or I'm gonna get REALLY ANGRY). Why'd I join this stupid stash-along anyway? Oh yeah, because I've already got too much fiber. Maybe I should redecorate my office with yarn. Then I can stare at and fondle it all the time. And really give my coworkers something to talk about. Woo!

I've also been thinking about participating in the UFO Resurrection. Because lately, there's been a pile of those developing, too. But I'd apply it to both knits and quilts and sewing, since there's certainly enough outstanding projects from all those to keep me busy. I don't think I've got 12 knit UFOs.

Knit stuff I can think of offhand:

  1. Cable Twist Socks from Hello Yarn in grey Rowan 4-ply Soft.
    Status: On the needles and active -- commuter project. Working on the 2nd sock. I get about a repeat done per day, and so it'll take me ~25 business days to finish them, assuming I don't get stuck on the train or in a line.

  2. K's raglan, in charcoal DK wool. The Amazing custom-fit raglan that... doesn't fit. This'll probably end up blog fodder. Stay tuned.
    Status: Time to rip back. Again.

  3. NYC niece's raglan, in variegated thick cotton. I got to the armholes and ugh. After joining a sleeve the stitches on the body connecting the sleeves were extremely loose and ugly.
    Status: Figure out some way of keeping the body stitches tight. Already ripped back. Gotta finish this before she gets any bigger.

  4. K's slip-stitch sweater. Still working on the test version.
    Status: Stymied last Fall when trying to adapt the slip-stitch pattern to include the increases on the sleeve. This should *not* be so hard. Need to revisit this again.

  5. Denmark socks, take 1. I did these in Rowan wool/cotton and although I love the fabric and the stitch definition I was getting, these are far too narrow for adult feet.
    Status: Time to pick up those sad pieces of broken heart and rip rip rip. Maybe add another couple motifs to the pattern? (Note to self: measure the width of a cable before ripping so I know how much many stitches to increase.)

See, not so many. I haven't been knitting all that long. There's MANY more projects floating around my head, wanting attention. And much, much yarn clamoring to be knit up.

I better get back to work. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Thank you all so much for your compliments on Audrey's socks. They were a fun knit and it's pleasing to hear that you all liked them.

Now a confession: I'm a big slacker (ha, as if THAT wasn't already apparent).
And a wannabe.

I asked La last week for a letter for my own Alpha-Meme, and I have yet to post the results. Sorry, La. Mostly I've been editing and re-editing, trying not to sound like a complete dork, but my writing has pretty much sucked lately. But I think I'm ready.

I promise not to subject you to too much Ravishing Ridiculousness. Or assonance, either.

My letter: R

I could sing the praises of raspberries for weeks. There is nothing like a sun-warmed raspberry, right off the vine. I'm especially partial to the raspberry crop that comes ripe in September. I have to freeze up a half flat every year just so I can make it through the winter. These are from this fall's farmer's market.

Tart but mellifluous, rhubarb's gotten a bad racket. My grandmother makes the most amazing strawberry-rhubarb pie. Tart and sweet, together 4-ever.

I aspire to this, but really I'm a little too rotund to qualify.

We used to live within staggering distance of this great Tiki bar in Seattle. This is where I learned the beauty of the fruity drinks. And I'm not talking about some sad, crappy Mai Tai, either. This was the real deal. Fresh juice, tartness balanced with sweet, and enough booze to kill a goose.
I went on to purchase Beachbum Berry's Grog Log, which looks like it was self-published using a lot of free tiki graphics and some skull mugs, but it's also an excellent Fruity Rum Drink recipe book. This books spends a while discussing the intricacies of rum. There's way more than your standard white, tasteless Bacardi. Light vs. Dark, Jamaican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Rum de Martinique, Rhum Barbancourt, ... it's as if every tiny island in the Caribbean has their own, special version. Not to mention the weird English mixes. Yohoho and pass the pineapple!

Despite being all Mediterrean and crap, rosemary grows very well here in wet-winter, dry-summer land, only dying back when the temp drops below 20 F. Versatile, easy to grow, and fantastically scented, rosemary's one of my favorite herbs. Mmmm, rosemary bread.

Ruler & rotary cutter
The most wonderful inventions that the quilt world has seen since the iron. You can have my precise ruler and sharp-enough-to-slice-through-8-layers-of-fabric-or-maybe-your-finger rotary cutter when you pry them out of my cold, dead hands.

Refrigerator Rolls
Such a common name for a tasty, tasty baked good. I make these about once a year. They're an ode to the fact that Fat Makes Everything Taste Better. Like fudge, you DO NOT WANT to see what goes in these. They're similar to croissants, but more plainspoken. The secret is in the overnight rise in the fridge. And the butter, of course.

I can't really say I have a favorite color. I go through color crushes. During last year I was on some kind of green kick. And then recently it's been orange and pink and even a little grey.
But the color I'm most likely to make a beeline for is red. Scarlet, brick, crimson, ruby, apple, fantastic red! For the last 6 months I've been fantasizing about dying some silk in several dark shades of red. There's a certain shade of Alchemy Bamboo I have to RIP myself away from every time I pass by.

Portland's nickname is the City of Roses, for a natural climate that roses love (with a little extra watering in the summer). Although not a "rose gal" per se, they're in my garden and I love to look, smell, and photograph them. This beauty is from the International Rose Test Gardens.

I'll take the Fifth (of rum! hhahahahaha)

Friday, January 12, 2007

Socks for Audrey

It's COLD here. My hair froze on the way to work this morning. FROZEN HAIR, people! Of course, when it gets cold here, it usually means brilliantly sunny and clear, and today is no exception. So I'm torn, but I think I prefer sunny and cold rather than grey and warm. Now I better go pick up my fingers off the cold, cold ground where they've fallen.

Hey, found the camera cable! These have been done and sent off for weeks, but I'm still going to show them off.

Warm socks on the cold ground

Socks for Audrey!
I hope she likes them.

Pattern: Denmark socks from Knitting on the Road, by Nancy Bush

Modifications: I deviated slightly from the chart because I liked the effect. At the top of the sock, after the nupp row, I continued the ribbing pattern from the top instead of changing to K6 straight across the cabled section. I liked how the very first cable crossing folded in the Ks from the edges, over the interior ribbing.

Yarn: RYC Cashsoft DK in color 520 -- Bloom. Used about 2 1/4 balls for a US Women's size 9 foot (142 yards/ball)

Needles: Brittany Birch 3.25 mm, 7.5 inch long DPNs.

Gauge: I got about 6 st/inch using the 3.25 mm to produce a firmer sock yarn.

Finish time: About two weeks for the pair - the pattern is easy to memorize, the larger gauge makes it faster to knit.


About the Yarn: I LOVE knitting this stuff; it's very soft, very squishy, and extremely pleasurable to knit with. It's not as smooth as a 100% superwash, many-plied wool, such as Karabella's Aurora 8--it's got a little fuzz, but nothing that obscures the cables. The color was a lovely damask-rose pink.

There was a knot or bad spot on every ball I used, just about 20-25 yards in on Every Ball. What's with that? Someone must've gotten slap-happy with the scissors at the factory, I guess.

The yarn's superwash but I'd only wash it in a pillowcase on gentle cycle, and no drier. It doesn't felt well, but it's not exactly a sturdy yarn. This yarn was a bit splitty and looked messy after splitting, so try to avoid the splitting by using a dull-er needle.

The DK weight means that these socks wouldn't be all that pleasant to wear in shoes, even with how soft they are. These were meant for comfy around-the-house socks or for bed. I fear that they'd wear poorly in shoes as well.

Russian (felted) joins looked like complete crap with this yarn. I tried a join but the section just look sad, soggy, and lumpy. Instead I duplicate-stitch-wove in all the ends for a long length and hope for the best.

About the Needles: I prefer wooden DPNs because the stitches cling to them and don't slip off as I'm working. I like the pointiness of the Brittanies, which are just sharp enough to handle the K2Togs and SSKs, but not so sharp that they split the yarn easily. They're one of the less pointy ones in the class of wooden DPNs.

I did not use a cable needle. The crossovers were only 1 stitch over 2. I got much better at my cabling-without-a-needle technique on these socks.

About the Pattern: well-written and easy to follow (thank you Nancy Bush!). The nupps at the top are interesting and not hard to do, and for you nupp-haters, there's only 8 per sock. The pattern produces a decorative cabled ribbing that stretches well. I really like how the single ribs on the side frame the pattern when it reaches the foot.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Accentuate the Positive, Medicate the Negative

(The title's a quotation from Amy Sedaris's new book, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence, that K's brother & sister-in-law sent us for Christmas)

I got a full 9 hours+ of sleep last night, with no nocturnal postings. Hooray!

Thank you all for the great comments. I do tend to be far too cynical and negative in my outlook. I know that optimism is more successful. I TA'ed for a professor once who'd give any student that showed up to all the classes a 2% grade raise. He swore that it worked much better than any punishment scheme, and that for classes where everyone came, he had a much higher performance on homework and tests (before the raise). He did have fabulous attendance -- and this was a *big* class.

And I generally see things as HUGE PROBLEMS TO SOLVE RIGHT NOW, instead of little pieces I can conquer one by one. And the HUGE PROBLEMS are Enormous and Overwhelming and hand me that chocolate and why don't I just start a new knitting project? It's good advice to just pick one or two and break them down into achievable goals. It's just something at which I'm horrifcly bad (crap, yet another thing for the list)

So, in trying to for a more positive outlook, following is my personal list of...

Highly Suggested Guidelines for Stash Success!
  • When looking for a new project, look to the stash first. Fall in love again!Find

  • The stash storage space is just as calming as a yarn shop. Go there, not the yarn shop. You love to organize, so organize! Touch and sniff the already-purchased yarn!

  • Ebay does not exist for the next 9 months.

  • If you love something, set it free. If you're not quite so in love with something, free it to be loved by another.

  • Complete at least one dye project a month.

  • Yarn may be bought to finish projects in progress: case in point, K's raglan, for which he would like stripes. I bought all the yarn, get 7" in and he says, "can't it have stripes?" (The raglan depth's all wrong anyway, so I might as well rip it out (again))

  • Purchasing giftee yarn does not count, as well as test yarn bought for Mom's project.

  • Sock yarn counts.

  • Stash will take first priority for yarn for a specifically requested gift, but if nothing is appropriate, yarn purchased for said gift is allowed.

  • When consumed with yarn lust: stop, drop, and roll in the stash cashmere.

  • The LYS coupon, received this month for my birthday LAST month, has been consumed. I will kindly not count it against the stashalong so I don't feel as if I've failed before I started.

  • Fiber Festivals are excused, but not GOING NUTS at fiber festivals. I'd like to attend Black Sheep Gathering this year.

  • Two (yes, I'm weak) get-out-of-stash cards.

I've been completely unable to find the camera cable for the last 2 weeks. Hence all the boring text and you get an old picture from December.

The Peace Lily contemplates the parking lot

Monday, January 08, 2007

Not an interesting post


Can't sleep. Although I exercised today (sleep++), I also had alcohol with dinner (sleep--) and cake (sleep--, after the sugar crash). Usually you can put me in a dark warm room and I'm out like the proverbial light, but not tonight. After 1.75 hours of tossing back and forth I've given up and here I am, on the couch, not sleeping.

The problem with not being able to sleep is also those thoughts going through my head about what a fuck-up I've been. And all the things I'd like to change about myself. Most of these changes can only be effected over a long-term period (not gonna lose 40 pounds overnight, no matter how much tossing I do), so of course I can't DO anything about them tonight, bah.

So because it's my blog and I can wank around on it all I like, my little head-list.

Not be such a pack rat.
Get rid of the extra STUFF
Do, instead of accumulate.
Garden less haphazardly.
Get rid of the crap.
Lose the weight, lose the fat, feel better.
Make better food choices All The Time.
Cut out the booze. It's not helping with the weight and the sleeping.
Finally get around to figuring out how to register & setup my own site.
Finally send Grandma a letter and pictures and yarn.
Did I mention getting rid of stuff? KNIT FROM THE STASH. FINISH SOME QUILTS.
Stop buying crap
Sell/give/barter the stuff I'll never get around to using.

Oh, here's the cat, out wondering why I'm not in bed. She's now proceeded to fall asleep in my lap, while I am still WIDE AWAKE. Enjoy your sleep, kitty.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Prospero Año Neuvo!

Hey, I'm back.

Hap-happy new year everyone!

And thanks for all the comments on the previous post.

I'm not going to apologize for the rant, but I will apologize for the self-indulgence (normally I'm such a happy, if loquatious, drunk). But what's life without a few psychological hangups, eh?

And really, I do like pink. I've yet to meet a color I didn't like. Oh, I've got the usual hues I gravitate to EVERY TIME (mmm, scarlet), but, for example, I'll start knitting something in a gorgeous, delicate pink and suddenly I swoon. It's immediately the Best Color In The Universe and what have I been thinking, not noticing it for this long? I have my little color flings.

Maybe it's all the playing with patchwork for the quilting - there's no colors I don't like. Just color combinations. So pink? Beautiful. I just have some problems with some of the societal connotations.


We've been travelling all over the place and it's been trains, planes, and automobiles and The Party Never Ends (WOO WOO) what with Xmess and my birthday and New Year's. And while I'm kind of relieved to be back home again, I sort of miss all the excitement. I've been trying to figure out why I so enjoyed the holidays, and besides not having to work, I think the primary reasons are:

a) I got to be around a lot of people
b) I wasn't constantly worrying

Not much I can do about not having to work all the time. However:
A is my own fault. I don't really, um, get out much. Like, not at all. This is something I can do something about. Time to try another stitch 'n' bitch group . The first didn't go so well but I need to be tougher-skinned about this all. The right group's out there but it ain't happening while I sit all mopey at home.

Now B. Worry worry worry, it's like a pastime of mine. As if I'm constantly honing my mad worrying skillz.

It's time to stop living my life in regret. No more worrying about things I cannot change. Make an action, carry something out, decide or decide not to, but DECIDE. I'm tired of second-guessing everything and trying to be perfect the first time. Time to shoot that inner perfectionist and learn from mistakes, not be consumed by them. Regrets should only serve as constructive criticism so that I DON'T DO THAT STUPID THING AGAIN.

And in the spirit of all that wonderful holiday human interaction, I thought I'd actually join a couple 'alongs. I don't normally, seeing as how if I don't participate, I won't disappoint anyone. But these are all self-affecting, and nobody's gonna feel too sad if I don't quite make it all through the stash-along.

Hello, the stash? Out of control. Literally. It embarasses me everytime I see bits of it. I have PLENTY of FANTASTIC yarn and there is no excuse, none, why I shoudn't be using it. I have a wee bit of the obsessive-compulsive in me and definitely Collector tendencies. And it's one of my slowly-working-towards Life Goals to be more of a Doer and less a Collector. Let's take the weight off and fucking knit something for once.

And speaking of taking the weight off.
I never make any time-dependent weight goals, because they inevitably depress instead of inspire me. HOWEVER, I am joining Rachael's 100 miles by April 1st because I need all the inspiration I can get when it comes to getting to the gym in the dark cold mornings of the winters.

I will be elliptical-trainer-ing and walking my way to 100 miles, due to the crappy knees and my wish to still be using the original equipment when I'm 40. I would really like to feel more comfortable in my body and my clothes. This is one place where regrets are perhaps helpful.