Friday, September 28, 2007


I'm sorry I haven't been around much lately. It's one of those oh FSM I sound like a completely idiot, toads pour out of my mouth, weeks. Then I get over myself.

I just wrote this long post.
Then I realized it was even more boring than the boring-ness it described. Every weekday of the last couple weeks has been dull and routine and seemingly exactly like the one before. My commuter socks get longer. Oh the excitement!

Camels, however, are NOT boring.

That is a 6-month old camel. Cute, hunh? Show us your aquiline profile:

Michelle & I went to the Oregon Flock & Fiber Festival last weekend so I could gawk at some goats. And rabbits and llamas and alpaca and sheep and a yak and YES a couple of baby camels. Their hair is softer than you might expect. I think this one does Christmas gigs if you want to rent him out.

Nice horns, baby.

Yeah, maybe not such a good idea to pet these ones.

Awww, look at those pretty brown eyes:

It was fun going with someone this year. We found we shared a predisposition for certain colors and combinations. Like natural alpaca colors and tweedy yarns. Yum. Fortunately there was no wrestling over the yarn, as she was MUCH more restrained than I.

Yeah, I bought some yarn. Handspun hand-dyes are pretty. I think I have just enough for some fingerless gloves. Mama's gonna be warm in style this year.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cute & fuzzy lawnmowers

K passed me an article from the Seattle Times about pygmy goats getting pet status in Seattle. How awesome is that, to never have to mow the lawn again. (He sent me the article because I've been facetiously suggesting for some months now that a couple of goats would make an excellent lawnmower and squirrel deterrent). I don't know how the cat would take it though...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Arrrrrr! arrr.

It be international Talk Like a Pirate Day again.

I need some kind of pirate language filter because I'm really, really bad at it. I just sound like Elmo trying to sound tough.

You all have seen the Corsair Ergonomic Keyboard for Pirates, right?

Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum! ( I had no idea this was a direct quotation from Treasure Island. Learn something new every day.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Buy now for best selection!

I open up Amazon tonight and smack dab on the top of main screen:

Amazon, bringing you only the BEST brands of babies.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Still Life with Sock and Beer

I'm a little bundle of unhappiness today because K the love monkey is off 'til Friday on business. Oh well, time to clean out the fridge of leftovers. I'll get over myself, I just miss him.

I am, however, very glad I read a tip today to remember to stretch out ribbing before measuring it vertically. I'm working on Sport from Rowan's Pipsqueaks, which is All Ribbing All the Time and I thought I'd gotten far enough to start the armhole shaping. Hmm, maybe not.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Knots Socks 1

Next in the Cavalcade! Of! Finished! Objects!

Knots Socks 1: The Beginning

Pattern: my own; a 3x2 rib combined with the "cross stitch rib" from Barbara Walker #1. It's pretty simple, just a right twist every other row.

Yarn: Trekking XXL colorway 69, 75% wool/25% nylon, 1 ball - 420 m/459 yd per ball

Needles: 2 mm/US 0 Crystal Palace bamboo DPNs

Gauge: about 8 stitches/inch

I finished these awhile ago but I haven't gotten around to getting good pictures of them. Commuter socks from way-back-when. Hey, at least it was still this year.

I was feeling all "I want a pair of unique socks" so I busted out the Barbara Walker 1. The "Cross Stitch" pattern was simple, just a ribbing where one of the ribs was turned into a right twist every other row. It gives the appearance of rows of knots on the socks, but without the hard bumps associated with such. I like that it shows off a little flash of color from the marled Trekking on the long stitch.

I knit very loosely, even at small sizes. The Trekking yarn really needed these 2 mm DPNs - it was far too loose with 2.25 mm needles.

At first I didn't care for the Trekking XXL yarn since it seemed a little scratchy. But I warmed up to it and now I'm quite enamored. It can be a bit splitty, the 3 plies are easily separated. I have not mastered the magic of knitting without looking at it though, so I can't talk about that. Hopefully the nylon will help it wear well. I LOVE the marling. LOVE LOVE LOVE CRUSH MARLING. Colorway 69 is mostly grey-brown with muted greens, reds, and a touch of yellow thrown in. I think I've discussed the mercurial and simple nature of my sense of amusement in this space before. Oh yes do I love seeing those colors change.

There's calf shaping for the first inch. I added an extra stitch to each purl trough, then decreased them gradually after an inch. I started with 88 stitches and decreased down to 72. This worked well for my legs, but 72 stitches was too big around the bottom of my foot. I guess I have slim heels and not as wide a feet as I thought.

I had to mess around with the heel flap to get 5 knotted columns on the foot (me and my little fascination with odd numbers), and it was too many. If I did them again, I'd pull out 1, maybe 2 ribs. The Trekking stretches an AMAZING amount. I thought there was no way these would fit my feet, but actually they're a touch too big.

There's a standard(ish) heel flap (see above, had to mess with the stitch distributions and I don't think it came out that great). They were done top down (because I am boring like that. These are my mindless commuter socks. I promise I'll try toe-up someday). I also kitchenered the ends with WAY more stitches than usual (20 stitches instead of 8), but I have kind of blunt-ended feet so they work ok for me.

I used almost the entire ball of Trekking. I had only a few grams left, maybe 25-50 m. This for a pair of socks in more-or-less a ribbed pattern on size 11 woman's feet. If I were making them for a larger size (say, men's 11), I'd need 2 balls, or at least would need to decrease the length of the cuff.

Now I'm working on Knots Socks 2: Smaller but Better Fitting. I don't like the new colorway quite so much as the one for these socks. Ah well. It's still fun watching the changing colors.

The feets, they are mostly happy, I think.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

"brown, hairy and aggressive"

Jen probably knows all about this but, uh, "Berserk Llama Syndrome"?
Damn. And I thought they were all cute and cuddly (unless you're a coyote). It just sounds like some tabloid "when llamas go bad."

The Oregonian's blurb has a mugshot.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Cheshire Cat Stole

Cavalcade! Of! Finished! Things!

First up is what I'm most proud of: the Cheshire Cat Stole.

Pattern: my own, Alice's Cheshire Cat Stole, published by Purlescence

Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silk Thread (the colorway in the pictures is Falcon's Eye, a variegated sage green with the rare flash of purple - though that might've been unique to my weird skein. They just started dyeing this colorway again. Yay!) I used approximate 750-800 yards of the skein.

Needles: 2.75 mm/US 2 Crystal Palace bamboo straights.

The pattern was conceived as a contest entry for Purlescence's Storyteller's competition. My entry was for the Alice in Wonderland month: what would Alice knit? My take on it was that any knitting done down the rabbit hole would probably turn out a lot different than you expected, yet still logical (like all of Alice's poem recitations coming out wrong, but still in the same meter and rhyme patterns).

I was playing around with taking a predictable pattern and changing it, as if you were making mistakes (like throwing in increases and decreases where you shouldn't) but it still ended up making a coherent pattern after all. My first scribblings were WAY too complicated and it was hard to see any pattern, so I ended up going with the simple cats-eye and the waving rows of yarn overs. It reminds me of the Cheshire Cat grinning.

After I knit up a sample it looked a little too plain so I threw in some beads just for the fun of it. It adds a nice sparkle to the edges, too. It's got plain purl rows every other row (except the garter stitch border). The beads are attached via crochet hook as you go and happen infrequently enough that I was VERY EXCITED whenever I'd reach a beaded row (YES! PROGRESS!). It's easy to do it minus the beads, though, if you don't wish to bead it, no worries.

The edging at each end is just several inches of the YO/dec/YO pattern interspersed with plain stockinette. I knit the cast-on about a billion times before I figured out a way to attach the crystal bicone beads on the edges without having them look odd (and having the cast-on and cast-off match). The bicones are big enough they still kind of pop out from the surrounding stitches, but I like the sparkly/dangly effect and they give a little bit of weight to the ends, just enough to make it hang nicely but not distort. Mmmm, sparklies!

In the interest of consistent style and editing (Purlescence has published a number of other patterns) the format of the original charts I made was changed for the published pattern. Because the width of the stole varies, my original charts were odd and I've never seen anything similar, but I wrote them more to see what the pattern was on any given row (I'm preferential to charts, since I'm a very visual person and like to see how the individual rows make the whole). If you'd like a copy of the original charts, drop me an email. They are THE SAME as the published pattern, just formatted differently and with different symbols. Just another way to look at things, ok? You do need to have the PDF as well, though.

The yarn: I love silk. The drape of the finished stole is sensuous. The colors are gorgeous, subtle and shiny at the same time. But boy is it a pain to work with. The yarn had to be wound onto a cone (ahem, repurposed toilet paper roll) and fed back to me from the outside-in, not the center of the roll. The silk, for being so slippery, tangled up like crazy if not treated with care. If you can, get the yarn store to wind it for you. I think this woman's setup is brilliant, but I just unwrapped from the roll, if you don't feel like going that far.

Silk doesn't have any give so you have to keep a fairly even tension; like cotton, it shows unevenness. For instance, for me, the 2nd yarn over (the left one) in every single YO/dec/YO combination always came out smaller than the first, so I came up with this special maneuver where I'd tug the 2nd yarnover a little extra when I purled back across.

Needles: I prefer wood or bamboo needles for lace, since they're more grippy than metal and they're easily available. For the silk, they seemed a necessity because the silk was so slippery. Dropping a stitch in this stuff meant it dropped 2-3 rows, just like that. Stupid slippery silk (someone want to explain to me why it tangled so badly at the same time?)

I chose the small size needles because I prefer lace with small-size stockinette (too big and it seems hole-ey to me, and not in a good way. Like it's competing with the yarn overs). I tried a few different needles on swatches and this was my favorite. Your Mileage May Vary. Silk does tend to stretch if you wet block it (I did - it needed the bath), so I really recommend you knit a small pattern swatch first if you're using silk, and block it as you plan to block the finished stole.

Finishing: I wove in the ends, but did not use knots nor Russian joins. I knit with 2 strands for a few stitches to secure both of them, then wove in the ends.

I did completely wet block the stole, despite numerous sources who predicted UTTER DOOM should I do that. (Note that some silk dyes are water-soluble, so if the yarn says 'dry clean', you should probably test first before dunking it). I prefer to block stoles in the same way that I'll be washing them in the future. I didn't have any problems with the silk breaking, but I was gentle and supported the wet stole without letting any dangle. I wrapped the washed stole in a towel and squeezed (squoze?) out the excess.

I blocked assertively but not aggressively. I'm no blocking expert, I just did what worked for me.

Because I wanted gently curving sides, I only pinned the short edges, up to where the curves started, so that each bead ended in a point and the long edge was straight for those first few inches. The long edges I smoothed out into waving curves with my fingers (silk thread stays where it's stretched, so you can do this. I don't know how wool would work, you might need to pin that if you wanted to block agressively) Note that silk dries REALLY FAST when it's warm. I had to keep a squirt bottle handy just to wet down parts because they dried before I could get to them.

The #1 most useful thing to have when blocking (I blocked on a bed) was a vertical guide (hooray for striped sheets!). This helped me keep a constant average width along the whole length of the stole, without needing to measure everything to within an inch of its life. I did take pictures during blocking so if I'm not making any sense and you'd like help, maybe I can illustrate better.

The silk seems a little rough until it completely dries. I did try steaming it a little to see if I could get it extra-glossy because I thought I'd read something about that, but I found it didn't make any difference that I could detect.

I'm still floored that someone wanted to publish this pattern and paid me to design and write it. Thank you Robynn at Purlescence!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's like a cat cumulus cloud

...floating blythely in the air:
The Hover Kitteh via Cute Overload.

I think I could use a Frog Transformation Set Right Now.

My boring life

Ah, I think I was saying something on Sunday about Week! of! Finished! Objects! Um. well. Soon.

We sold the car last night (2 different people came to see it just last evening). I needn't have worried. Now I'm all gung-ho and thinking "let's sell the other [old] one! I rarely drive it anyway! Wouldn't have to move it out of the driveway every morning when you want to go to work!" (K's car, the pretty one, resides in the garage, safe from weather and birds).

K says: I'll resent not having the freedom of private transportation. Transit takes a long time. So does walking. Biking is oh so much fun when it's raining hard. It's true it's nice to have that "out" when I need it - when I sleep too late and I'm late for work, or even if I'm just tired of dealing with my fellow man, smelling badly, sitting next to me, I can get to work in less than half the time of transit and I have the privilege of being alone with my misanthropic self.

Also the closest grocery store is Trader Joe's, which can be kind of lacking in the produce department. Also: it'd be more trouble getting to the yarn and fabric shops (probably a good thing). Hmmm. I'll think about it.

For this car sale thing I worked myself up during this to a real fun state of tension. And I don't even really know why. It's so weird. I've just felt anxiety and stress ever since Sunday. Am I so out of practice with talking to people? This isn't a very good state of being. Stressing out just over answering the damn phone.

But now it's over and it feels like a huge adrenaline come-down and there's this leftover anxiety that I can't seem to get rid of and I want to just eat a whole PILE of chocolate chip cookies. RIGHT NOW. Maybe some beer too. Just stupid. The whole thing is stupid.

I want something to untangle. Some mess. Something to organize. I need to feel useful.
I need to get back to work. Break over. Bah.

This is my office totem, my little desk chicky-bird. I tried to take an angstful picture of myself with the cell phone but the pictures show off to great effect my fine, fine set of nostrils and shapely double chin. So you get the birdie instead.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Flattery will you get you everywhere

Gosh, thank you all so much for your comments! I'm blushing here. Thank you for all your kind words and congratulations. (And that picture of me is one of the rare good ones. I'm wearing my one and only busty, clingy, Show Me Some Leg, Baby(tm) dress (which you can't really tell from the picture. High enough leg that I can't bend over more than 30 degrees from vertical, you know?)).

I'll post more pics tomorrow for the Week! Of! Finished! Things!

Thanks again, and I'm sorry I haven't visited your blogs much lately. I'm missing you all but I just kind of curled up into myself the last week and a half. But I'll catch up soon.


Bah, selling a car is a real pain in the derriere.

It's my beloved old Civic, Betty. I don't usually name cars, but she came with a name so I kept it: Betty Bivic the Civic. She's a great car. Runs fabulously, has never broken down, rarely needed anything fixed except routine maintenance (the muffler rusted out last year and had to be replaced, but for as long as Betty's been around, that's not all that unusual.

She's kind of scraped up on the side (parking garages with too small spaces) and nicked up a little from 10+ years of being on the road. Yeah, yeah, no air conditioning. No power locks. Busted radio. But homey and reliable and clean and safe. And no accidents and a clean title and lower mileage than you'd expect.

We've spent a lot of time this weekend vacuuming, cleaning the upholstery, washing, clay-ing, waxing. Sad that the cleanest she's ever been is when I'm trying to sell her.

We've gotten a lot of calls. A couple of drop-bys. I hate this. Are we asking too much? Too little? K didn't make some number up out of his head, he looked at a number of comparable listings, looked at the blue book value, the expected trade-in. But yet I keep mulling it all over in my head over and over and over again.

I admit I'm an awful, awful negotiator. I don't haggle. If it's not the price I want to pay, I walk away. I wonder if I have a big sticker that says "SUCKER" on my back that everyone can see but me, 'cause it hasn't been going all that well. I feel like an anachronism, having a car for 8 years, having bought it used in the first place.

The scrape on the passenger back side seems to be a sticking point. I never cared all that much about it, but I also came from driving a '79 Toyota whose hood had rusted shut and the driver's side door wouldn't open from the outside any more (that was a great car too, until the hood and door problems started. Oh yeah, the break lines were starting to go too. But it was GREAT until then).

(Aside: this is probably why I should never get a new car, if I never bothered to fix the scratches on the side. K says: if I had a new car, I'd take better care of it. I respond: no, then I'd be always paranoid about it getting dirty, scratched, stolen, broken, etc.)

Anyway. I keep reminding myself, this is no life 'n' death thing. If it's priced too high (we're negotiable, yes. But only up to a point on this, the first day of the listing), then we'll drop the price, no? And it's time to sell her. Heck, I don't even drive to work. 3 cars is 2 too many.


In lovely, wonderful, much happier news, I got a present in the mail! On Saturday! La of JenLa sent me some yarn! And some super-cute sheep cards (awwwww).

I sent her some PFD fingering weight a while ago because it was just sitting there in the stash gathering dust and she was deep into Knit-From-Your-Stash territory. (The yarn was from an impropriety involving ebay and a dyer's clearance sale).

It's a bouncy merino in the luscious JenLa colorway, which reminds me of all the blackberries and raspberries I've been stuffing myself with this weekend. YUM. Thank you La!
Hand-dyed sock yarn hangin' with the dahlias

Friday, September 07, 2007

Slacker (again)

I think I said something about a week of FOs and now it's Friday and where did the week go?

Maybe it's comedown from vacation then a long weekend but I haven't been keeping up very well this week. Thanks for the comments. I'm sorry I haven't replied to anything. It's not you, it's me.

I'm trying to learn a new system at work and I know I shouldn't get cranky but I'm annoyed that I have to learn the nuances of communication for Yet Another Project. They're all different, yet all the same in the end. Make X talk to Y. At least I get to learn a new language, that's kinda fun. Ah bah. I just sound grumpy and bitchy and uninteresting. I'll spare you.

Something amazing did happen this week, though. It's still kind of unbelievable to me. I've had one of my knitting patterns published (that link's a PDF, by the way). Now I can finally post some pictures of the silk lace stole I kept going on about.

I'll post more pictures later and I'll try not to be an insufferable stuffed-head about the whole thing. But, WOOOOO!

Monday, September 03, 2007

These vagabond shoes

We are back. And have been for several days, but I've been overwhelmed with the requirements of regular life that I haven't gotten anything together until now. I'm sorry.

This weekend has been lovely -- we didn't go anywhere, or do anything, and I managed to clean up a whole mess of loose ends. K picked up a bit of a cold (damn NYorkers!) so he's been in low-energy mode all weekend. The weather's been perfect -warm days and cool nights. And I got to lark around and play domestic goddess (mmmm scones, zucchini bread, onion tart). The vacation to recover from my vacation. I feel so bourgeois. And lazy. But damn it's been nice.

We had a lovely time in New York. First we spent a few days up in the Catskills in a old farmhouse so the kids could get their nature on. Two 2-year-olds, 6 adults. And mmm, sweet corn. We even went on a corny (ha ha) little train ride on an old railroad. For the kids, of course.

What I can't get over is how green it was. Oregon's got this reputation for being Ireland-like in its greenery and it rains all the time blah blah blah; but see, the summers are dry. It might rain more or less constantly the other 9 months of the year, but we can go 3 months without even an inch of rain. I think it's at about 2 inches this summer for June through today. And this has been a WET summer. If you want a green lawn here, you need sprinklers and a buttload of water. But there everything seems to be green by default.

Then we returned to NYC on an extremely humid hot day and I got my mandatory Climate Appreciation training. As mentioned above, the side effect of this dry summer is LOW HUMIDITY (thank FSM). I can cope with heat, but heat with humidity makes me want to crawl into the freezer. I don't do tropics well.

What can I say? It was New York City, and I haven't traveled much but it's not like any other place I've been to. Just the density of people seemed to weigh on me. NY neice and her 'rents live up on the north end of Manhattan Island, a 45-minute subway ride to downtown. I make no judgment calls: my commute is 45 minutes too (but the MAX smells nicer. Sorry). I would find it really hard to live with so many people all around. Maybe I am an awful misanthrope after all.

But it is an extraordinary place to visit. We went to MOMA, and the Guggenheim, and wandered around Soho (dear Purl: I tried. But 12 pm opening makes life difficult). We walked all over and I got to see Habu Textiles (awesome. It's a tiny little office building door and you have to take an elevator to the 8th floor and find their suite door and it's all squoze into a teeny little area. I bought a little souvenir yarn for a hat for K - tsumugi silk, in grey and dark grey that I'll use doubled together. Mmmm silk). We had fabulous food, everything from streetcart falafel to woowoo high-end kinda expensive place (Craft: when they brought dinner it was like that scene in the Blues Brothers in the fru fru restaurant where there's like 6 waiters all doing things at once over the one table. Tasty food, but too expensive for habitual. But MY GOSH the best risotto I have ever had in my life).
Looking east across the Central Park reservoir.

NY neice accompanied us some of the time

Oooh, we went to Coney Island too! NY neice and K:

Fantastic old-school carnival rides and booths. And a wooden boardwalk!
K commented that there was a distinct lack of tie-dyed hippies.

We rode the Cyclone, the old roller coaster (sans NY neice, who did not meet the 4.5' height requirement and would not have enjoyed it anyhow). K's brother says they're tearing big lots of it down and building 60 story condos. Sigh. I also went to the Freak Show (judge me how you will. It's more random vaudeville than exploitation). Serpentina and the "Dance of Death" with her 10-foot albino python woulda been a whole lot more impressive if 1) I didn't know pythons aren't poisonous, 2) the python had been a bit less well-fed, and 3) one of my weirdo friends didn't already own and let-lounge-about his 15-foot python. I was super-impressed with the sword swallower, though. Man that must take some practice.

Anyway. Back to reality. I finished a whole sock while I was out (airline, subway, train, etc. Love me some small sock action). I also finished up a bunch of stuff this weekend and finally took some pictures of past FOs. This week: week of FOs! Woot woot! I hope you all had a lovely holiday or at least a fabulous weekend.

This vacation's theme: 2-year-olds are entertaining but I get exhausted just watching them.