Friday, November 30, 2007

One Skein Food Drive

I was so affected when I read this New York Times article today about how the U.S. food banks are depleted, down to their emergency supplies, that I'm going to try to do something. I'm not very good at these do-something things, but here goes.

The food banks been hit by a triple whammy this year:

1) farmers are doing well and selling most of their crops, so there is less leftover for emergency food supply.
2) a lot of grocery stores have been tightening up their inventory systems, so they don't have as much excess product, which they used to donate. And if they do have excess or past-seasonal goods, they're selling more of it to discount stores instead of donating it.
3) there is more need than ever this year.

If you have a moment and the means, please consider donating to your local food bank. They could really use your help. The Oregon Food Bank can buy 5 pounds of food for just $1.

So this is my meme. Created by MEMEME. Call it the One Skein Food Drive or Knitters against Hunger or whatever you like. Please consider donating the price of purchase of one skein of yarn to your local food bank. Or donate some non-perishable food items - the OFB has a list of most-wanted foods if you'd like some examples.

Or, if you are unable to donate (for any reason. I am not in a finger-pointin' business), please PASS THE MEME ALONG. Blog posts, comments, mailing lists, groups, word of mouth, whatever, we're all-opportunity communications here.

And because everything is more fun when it involves yarn, if you do any of the above - donate and/or pass on the meme, leave me a comment here and say "I participated" or something to that effect (Ed: fixed the spelling. Thank you Pacalaga!). You don't need to say what you did. I'll drop your name in the hat and give out some yarny gifts at the end of December. How about, I'll collect names through 11:59 pm PST December 31st, 2007.

I'm not going to keep tally of how much anyone donated or what they did. Just one chance for each name, ok? (I admit this is partially motivated by laziness. Ha. She said "motivated by laziness.") But this is FOOD we're talking about, a basic need, so please be generous if you can. I'd like to think that Knitters (and Crocheters and whomever) Don't Let People Go Hungry.

Ed to add: I am too US-centric. There are food banks and community food drives all around the world. Hopefully they're not as bad off as the ones in the States, but they could probably still use your help.


It's supposed to snow tomorrow.

I will believe THAT when I see it.

And following that, there's supposed to be a big mother of a windstorm (leftover hurricane) and lots and lots and lots of rain right following. It's kind of cool to see the cloud formation on the satellite map, the cloud stretches all the way from Hawaii up to Alaska:

I am making mittens for the Soaring Eagles project. I am late to the party on this one, but I finally got around to visiting that blog site and I was seized with a feeling that I really really need to do this. A big thank you to kmkat and her excellent post which reminded me. So now I am scouring the stash for anything machine wash & dryable and working myself up, worried that the superwash wool I'm using won't handle machine dry very well. Mmmph. I think there's some wool-ease stashed somewhere, and a lone sad skein of Plymouth dreambaby.
Will Toasty Toes felt (it's supposed to be superwash)? I hope not but I'll make a swatch to test just in case.

I'm all for using the appropriate yarn in the appropriate conditions, but acrylic really doesn't insulate as well as wool so I'm at least trying for a blend. Oklahoma can get pretty cold in the winter. But I also don't want someone thoroughly disappointed because their mittens shrank with the first wash and dry.

It feels like I'm giving myself a little gift (not going to call it a Christmas present, as it is STILL NOT DECEMBER and I'd like to bask in my post-Thanksgiving glow for a little bit longer, thank you). It's a gift of time-off from everything on the I Must Do list, time I will instead spend working mittens.

They sure are pretty fast. I've got one done almost already (an adult Small, even). The thumb gusset is way less hard than I thought it would be.

If it does snow tomorrow, it'll go nicely with the mitten-knitting.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Knots Socks, the Sequel

I finished these a while ago but I've been lazy about getting pictures.

I think I mentioned before that my first attempt at the Knots Socks were a little bit baggy. I like a socks that stays put. So here is another variation on the knotted ribbing:

Knots Socks 2!

Pattern: my own. Ribbing incorporating the cross stitch rib from BW #1. Cuff-down.

Yarn: Zitron Trekking XXL in colorway...66 ? mostly dark blues and purples but with greens, lighter blues, lighter purples, and reds thrown in. I used about 7/8 of a ball - more left over than I would have thought, but I guess that 6 stitches per row makes all the difference.

Needles: 2 mm/US 0 double-pointed bamboo, 5 sticks.

Gauge: about 8-8.5 st/inch. I'll have to go back and check row gauge.

This is probably the picture closest to the actual color - most of these pictures were taken in very autumny-yellow sunlight.
I don't like this colorway quite as much as the one for Knots Socks 1. These colors don't blend and meld as well as the other colorway's did. But Trekking XXL is always fun to work with.

This time I did a 2x1 K/P ribbing, and a special ribbing along the top. I like having the border between the real pattern and the edge. Plus, it makes it easier to add a little calf shaping at the top and then decrease at the edge of the cuff for the rest of the sock. I am still loving those twist stitches. I did a better job this time of balancing out the stitches that go on the top of the foot and the ones used for the heel then then bottom.

I kept meticulous notes this time, instead of just random scribbles on whatever happened to be handy, so the first is actually fairly identical to the 2nd.

The cast-on is my favorite of this year: the Twisted German cast-on. So stretchy! So pretty from both sides!

I am very pleased by how well these fit. I think I've finally hit my Trekking magic number (at least for ribbing): 66 stitches for the body. That seems pretty small for Trekking, doesn't it? But these guys STAY UP and STAY PUT in the shoe.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Can't stop knitting, clowns will eat me

I thought I'd cast on a new sock, for some less-bulky commuter knitting.

Who knew what horror was lurking in that happy rainbow skein of Opal?

I worked 3+ stripes before I realized what I had on my hands.
(cue screeching violin horror):


And the most dire thing? I Can't. Stop. Knitting. Them. Damn you, clown socks! I've got a huge queue of backed up knitting and I yet I am obsessed with 2x2 ribbing, just to get through this accursed skein. I'm on the train this morning, chanting under my breath, "Come on, come on, gotta make it to the orange stripe. Just a little bit more. Faster faster faster faster." All I can hope for is some sweet release soon, as I've only got one skein of this (although the other Opal I have? I'm kinda worried about that now. It's looking like big bruisers, lurking in the corner of the stash, waiting to spring some more Ill-Considered Sock Yarn Color Choices on me).

(random obObservation: I see Blogger has finally gotten around to supporting Safari for basic WYSIWIG text editing, and the images, as they appear in the upload box, now don't always appear as the can't-load-this-image icon. Gosh, it looks like I could even use their tools to insert some video now instead of whipping up the HTML myself. WILL WONDERS NEVER CEASE?)
(I know, I should not be so rude and bitchy, since Safari is some teency tiny amount of the browser market (3-5% or so). Thanks Blogger, I appreciate the love.)

Friday, November 16, 2007


A few days ago it was street leaf-cleaning day here.
They have these bulldozer-type things (but faster, and with hockey-nets in front of them) that push all the leaves on the streets into big piles at each intersection. Then the mystery leaf eater comes and consumes them all (I'm always at work when this happens, dang)

This was actually one of the smaller piles
It looks kinda like the leaves ate a car.

We highly suggest you stop for this leaf pile (ha ha, I slay myself)

On the other hand, this camellia down the way says: "screw this Autumn thing, I'm gonna bloom NOW."

Meanwhile today it's raining that medium, steady winter rain, the kind that makes it clear that it's sticking around for the long haul. It's been inside-of-a-ping-pong-ball dim all day here. The grass, though, the grass is LOVING this weather. Bah, stupid grass.

I've got a bad case of the yarn shakes lately and so I think I will be doing some stash sniffing this weekend. Also hopefully some dyeing (looks like that kind of weekend). I've got some new sock yarn I want to try out and a backup of stuff-to-be-dyed. I also am seriously needing to scratch my organizational itch. It's not obsession or compulsion, I just... like to organize stuff.

When I had a sticker collection when I was a kid back in the early 80s, I would organize EVERYTHING over and over again, agonizing over the cross-category items (does that oily belong with the unicorn stickers or the oilies?). I love categorization. I am kicking myself for not getting in on Ravelry earlier (Hi! I'm bigalice there too!) 'cuz I love entering obscure little details, and most of the popular stuff has already been entered now. I enjoy alphabetizing. I got this little thrill when I discovered a yarn in my stash that hadn't yet been entered on Ravelry. This little fixation extends to yarn too, a bit. I actually find pleasure in unraveling a tangled skein and putting it back to rights. Yeah, I know, I Am Weird.

Perhaps I should have gone into stamp collection vs. fabric and yarn. Also, the compulsion part is when I start obsessing about "must fill out my collection." *That's* just stupid. But I'll admit to dreaming about buying one skein of every kind of yarn my yarn shop has, just to swatch it up and see how it behaves. And then publish the results in an organized, annotated, easily searchable format, of course.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


This one's for Michelle.

I picked up stitches for the right sleeve on Sport on Sunday. It was a PITA and took me awhile. I had to use a crochet hook. Yeah, I went with picking up the stitches instead of making the sleeve separately and backstitching it on. It seems pretty firm so far, so all my fears of stretchy sleeve joins may be unfounded.

I picked up and knit 85 stitches - 15 more than the pattern directs. I have no idea what's up with that. The armhole is exactly the length stated in the pattern (17 cm). My row gauge seems right on or very close to the one in the pattern. The sleeveholes look way too big to me.

I'm knitting the sleeves in the round, but using two circs seems to push me into Death Grip Mode and along with the cotton, it does a number on my wrists. I had to quit after about an inch when things started twinging. I am TRYING TO RELAX but I'm not being very effective at it. It's now my new commuter knitting, since 20 minutes 2 times a day doesn't cause any wrist pain. I get maybe an inch done a day.

Also, since I am dancing to the beat of my own salsa band when it comes to this sleeve, I'm decreasing at a faster rate than instructed, trying to work off those extra 15 stitches.

Current status: uncertain but plowing on ahead anyway. Someone find me a brick wall so I can ram my head into it to knock it down.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Saturday is Too Exciting for Me

  • met new knitters! They seem pretty cool.
  • new sock yarn from BMFA!
  • some of it cotton (ruh-roh)
  • realized every skein I bought is almost exactly same colors.
  • sunny day (totally unexpected)
  • K the love monkey is sick with a fever. :(
  • I feel fine (for now). I'll start sucking down the Cold-Eez at the first sign I might be getting it.
  • Thanksgiving moved to Seattle this year (Tarewyn, you still want to lean how to do socks? I'll be within driving distance around T-giving time.)
  • Frances the cat looks very comfortable and very asleep in the chair across from me. She's doing that all-her-paws-in-a-big-heap thing.
  • I talked to my brother tonight and this week he purchased the item I was intending to give him as a Christmas gift. ARGGH
  • Fortunately I have something else in mind.
  • And I kept the receipt.
  • However, I am so truly idea-less when it come to the in-laws. Oh I am screwed.
  • Scheduled an blood donation with the vampires for next weekend. Kristen's latest post reminded me that I was due
  • I just re-learned that "obliquely" means: "not straightforward" or even "devious" according to Merriam-Webster online

Sorry, sleepy, past time for bed. There will damn well be toddler sweater knitting tomorrow.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Argggh, Tired

I had a good workout this morning, I was feeling all dull & sleepy when I got to the gym and there's nothing like a treadmill for dully & sleepy. Funny how all I need is an 8% grade at about 3.6 miles per hour to tire me out. OK, not so funny, more like pitiful. Anyway, my new gym book + music kept me nicely distracted for the 40 minutes and my calves decided to behave today instead of cramping up. But now I just feel so tired. It was a chore just walking that mile to work, picking my feet off the ground instead of scuffing them along. I'm such a wuss. No way would I survive a zombie apocalypse.

Nothing's happening, I'm still chickening out from starting the sleeves on the toddler sweater. I don't even have a pair of socks on the needles. I've been taking lace as my commuter knitting. Evidently I'd rather just pet, squeeze, and sniff yarn rather than doing anything with it. I'm glad it's the weekend soon. I predict much lazing about.

Today is the first day it's rained (drizzled, really) for a couple weeks now. Mostly it's been doing this fog-in-the-morning, clear up in the evening, sometimes with big puffy clouds near sunset.

Hi, I am a big puffball, snagged on a building.

I'm reading The Cloudspotter's Guide so I now know that today's low-drizzly-clouds-almost-fog is stratus nebulosus, verging on translucidus. It's really an interesting book - a light read (yes, even with all that Latin) and well illustrated. I had some trepidation at first (I'm vetting it for a Christmas present for my Dad, and it seemed too flippant and artsy maybe for him (or me)) but now I'm engrossed. I'm pretty sure we had some nice cirrocumulus yesterday at sunset. I like knowing the names of things and why they happen.

Other good books I read/am reading:

Company by Max Barry. Bwahahahaha, laugh-out-loud funny. I like this the same way I like Office Space (actually in a similar way too - I liked the 1st half better than the 2nd half of both). It's about life in Hell at the king of dysfunctional corporations. The toss-off lines are the best part of the whole thing:
Elizabeth is smart, ruthless, and emotionally damaged; that is, she is a sales representative. If Elizabeth's brain was a person, it would have scars, tattoos, and be missing one eye. If you saw it coming, you would cross the street.
My favorite book this summer.

I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. A close, close second. I'm no good at reviews. This book just grabbed me and I could. not. put. it. down. Compelling and sad and funny and depressing and inspiring all at the same time. The poor book has unfortunately been consigned to the ghetto of Young Adult Literature (ugh. Mini rant: will someone please kill off this designation? 'Young Adults' are either a) not reading at all, or b) reading adult books and are insulted at the 'young adult' label. Although maybe this has changed since I was a teen.) This is a novel, and a good one, and I feel like not marketing it as a novel for adults is a great disservice to this wonderful book.

The Gatecrasher by Madeleine Wickham. The premise sounds hokey but it's pretty entertaining (and sad. And frustrating, by the end of the book I wanted to slap her...actually, most of them, for being so casually and unintentionally cruel to one other).

Territory, by Emma Bull. Let me say this up front: I am so not into westerns. But I'm enjoying this so far (only about halfway through). Give me a good plot and compelling characters and I'm yours.

Still drizzling. Still Friday. Still have a pile o' mail in the inbox to answer (please forgive me). Hope you have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Yarn... barbarian?

He looks kind of cold, doesn't he? Someone give that boy a wool sweater.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pizza Luv

Fair warning: I'm gonna wax rhapsodic about food. Food and I, we get along pretty well. There isn't much I don't like (liver, brussells sprouts, excessively sour, and savory & sweet at the same time are about it, besides my little food prejudices (don't have to do with taste. Just prejudice)). I work up in Food Cart land, not far from the University, so I can get my saag chana fix just about any time (sweet, sweet saag. LOVE YOU).

Anyway. Just to set up the scene. Portland, I lurve you too because there's a lot of people around who cook REALLY WELL and don't even charge a limb for each meal. One of the newer ones is Dové Vivi, a fairly new pizza place.

K the love monkey grew up in Pizza Town (south of Chicago) and so has Definite Prejudices about pizza. He knows what a really good deep dish tastes like. But even he likes this place (and we ordered the corn pizza last time. Corn! On pizza! I was struck dumb when he agreed with me. Actually, we got a half-n-half Corn & Potato-Pancetta). Don't get me wrong, I love a great spinach, mushroom, and sausage stuffed pizza. But I think this place is fan-frickin'-tastic.

This pizza is SO GOOD. It's like the jazz of pizza. They take the central motif of deep-dish pizza and riff on it. There's this amazing cornmeal crust, crunchy yet bready at the same time. It's deep dish, with perfectly melted cheese and prepared ingredients on top (actually, I think they might also have a vegan pizza. Not sure about that). Frequently they'll throw rosemary in the crust. And the toppings: smoked mozzarella, fontina, the above-mentioned corn, potatoes, and pancetta, tomatoes, marinated mushrooms and onions, perfect pepperoni. Oh man. I think I fell in love with them with the corn pizza though. Corn & balsamic-vinegar-marinated onions. It just all goes together into one perfect pizza whole, when a slice is more than the sum of its toppings.

Sorry, no yarn, today. I just felt a bit like an ode to some of my favorite food ever.


Thank you all for your Halloween candy tales, may all your Halloween candy dreams come true! Heh, I see most all kids had a Halloween Candy Strategem. Me, no way could I ever make it 'til Easter, though.

(I'm a little weird and light-headed today, does it show?)

Mr. Random Number Generator picked lucky #13 (I swear, it is random), kmkat. Congratulations! And thanks again everyone, I'm sorry about the delay in posting the contest winner. There's been this kind of haze in my head since Saturday (I swear I am fine. Just loopy)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Random Friday

  1. It's sunny today. 7th day in a row. I'm kind of in shock.

  2. I'm going to a quilting retreat this weekend but I have not been quilting for a while now. I did make my neice a smock/apron. Does that count? Sigh. I have no earthly idea what I'm going to take with me. Hopefully they will not mock me too much.

  3. K brought up getting a kitten last night. We've talked about it before but never acted. He thinks Frances is sedentary and lonely. She has been more insistent about sitting on us and asking for playtime lately (she has a really limited number of things she likes to play with. Namely, the plastic tops off of milk-jugs, with which she plays a kind of personal hockey; string (no comment); and "da bird", a bunch of spinning feathers at the end of a string attached to a pole. The latter 2 require one of us to play along).

    While she isn't an exclusively indoor cat, she rarely ventures farther than the backyard and during the winter hardly goes out at all. We have no cat door so she's inside all day.

    When we first adopted her (ha, more like she adopted us), I was working from home every day and could take breaks to go play with her. She could also jump up on my lap, as long as she didn't mind me typing over the top of her.

    Did I mention that she's EXTREMELY territorial? She hisses at any other cat that enters her yard. As much as I would prefer adopting an older shelter cat, there is no way she'd get along. We thought maybe we'd get a kitten so 1) she wasn't so threatened by it, and 2) they could entertain each other.

    But I'm very worried, because I'm not sure she'd go for it. She seems very territorial about US. We are HER PEOPLE. I'm not sure she'd take well to any division of our attention.

    A few years when it first came up I did a bunch of googling and all the stories I found seemed completely binary. Either it worked brilliantly and the two cats ended up getting along marvelously (after the inevitable first few spats), or it failed badly and the cats were trying to rip each others' throats out, even months later.

    Also there was at least a couple stories about how a cat that used to be an Only Cat sort of faded into the background and wasn't as friendly or affectionate as before. As much as I complain about her sleeping on top of me all the time, I really like it. Frances is very sweet and I'd feel awful to disrupt that. I guess that's basically selfishness.

    Could any of you multi-cat people weigh in with any ideas? I'm feeling kind of damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't right now.

  4. Halloween was very bad for my eating habits. I'm hoping I will remember how crappy the sugar overdose made me feel whenever I waver about going to the gym.

  5. I'm really looking forward to the Daylight Savings switch this weekend, because it'll be easier to wake up for gym time when it's not so dark. I know that light'll disappear again soon enough but I grasp at whatever straws I can. It's all about me me ME

  6. I sucked it up and backstitched my first shoulder seam Halloween night. It actually turned out pretty good, I think (although I redid the 2nd shoulder about 4 times before getting it how I wanted). I don't know why I wimped out on this for so long.

    I am still undecided about what to do with the arms. I think the pattern is krak-laden though, my row gauge is spot-on, and there's no way the sleeve as written would fit this armhole without some ugly stretching. Current favorite is to knit the sleeves in the round, top-down, in the ribbing pattern and casting on the number of stitches *I* think is correct. Then I'll backstitch the sleeves on (it definitely does make a much firmer seam). If I do them top-down, I can try out my modified stitch-count much sooner than working the whole thing bottom up.

    I've got to finish this, it's already November. NY neice grows bigger every day!

  7. Michelle came over for some kettle dyeing a couple weekends ago. We were aiming for a slightly variegated rust, but I am evidently not so good at the rust (I was in charge of color mixing). I seem to be best at the Various Shades of Blood colorings.

    Try #1:

    Try #2:

    It was hard to get images of the different reds, so the top one isn't quite so deep and the bottom one isn't quite so vivid. Also, I am too lazy to get out Photoshop or anything and adjust the colors.

    Each is about 1300 yards of laceweight merino. It's lovely stuff, but I am not looking forward to balling it up. Even more fun: I think it's too thin to risk using a ball winder.

    I also overdyed one of K's sweaters (which was an unfortunate REALLY! BRIGHT! RED! We're talking full Christmas cherry red, here) with plain old black. That worked beautifully, it's now a deep black cherry color. It looks black in some lights and reddish in others, and he WEARS IT NOW. yay! Note to self: a little bit of black (1/2 tsp) goes a long, long way.

  8. I really really really need to get my hair trimmed. My split ends have split ends.

  9. I have no idea what to cook for dinner tonight.

  10. What, you thought there should be a 10?

Alien puppet says: Beware the blood!