Thursday, June 26, 2008

Carmen's Meme

Carmen tagged me with a meme, and because she's such a frickin' awesome person, I'm actually going to do it.

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?
Oh gosh. Finishing up my undergrad degree. I don't even remember what classes I was taking then, I just wanted to be DONE.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today
make copies of keys
put all the sock yarn in 1 place
work out afghan squares
bake strawberry-rhubarb pie
absorb sunshine

My socks, they are LOUD. This is prior to ripping after a lot of messing around.

3) Snacks I enjoy
HHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Just about anything.
But I really like Italian bread with fresh basil, mozzarella, and tomatoes. And berries. Any kind of berries. Oh yes Carmen, and Cheetos, too. I also have this thing for Sunchips. Mmmm, and fresh guacamole and corn chips. I better stop now.

4) Things I would do if I were a billionaire
Ha, things I wouldn't do. But the top of the list:
buy house and set up my parents so they could retire
send my brother to England as he so wants. Heck, I'll come along too for a couple weeks
Visit Ireland again
Mostly I'd like to give anyone money who needs it and not have to worry about finances.

5) Places I have lived
Seattle, WA
Portland, OR
Pasadena, CA
Albuquerque, NM
Missoula, MT

A regular tour o' the West.

Hi, I like to spiral in different bands.

6) Jobs I have had
I'm kind of boring here.
shake man (man being the diminutive of "human" here)
library lackey
receptionist (ugh. I hate phones)
filing monkey
break-it person
make-it-work person

I'm not going to name more people but I'd like to find out more about everyone! Yeah, maybe I'm now the last person on the planet to participate in this. Bite me. After you drop me a link to your own answers to these questions.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


So. Thing #1 was that I did get a new job. (Thing #2, if you didn't see my edit to the post, was my article published in Knitty.) I start next Monday and this week I'm taking as vacation. It's been a long long while since I just had a week of freedom to mess around at home. I do like traveling and vacations, but it's wonderful to just take a week and spend it however damn well I feel like. Call my a hermit or homebody or whatever, but I like my home.

I'm enjoying the sunshine (yes, finally!) and the warm-but-not-hot-weather (highs in the 70s). Monday was errand day. I even biked to the dry cleaners! Yesterday I took a bike ride down the river to a yarn shop in SE Portland after FINALLY mailing some packages. This morning the cat and I are hanging out on the patio in the sunshine, watching the flowers bloom and the crows harass the squirrels. This afternoon I think I'll attempt to bring order to the stash, after vacuuming. (My key to feeling like I'm not the laziest lazy person ever is to get at least 1 tangible chore-like thing done a day. Yesterday was the kitchen.)

Anyway, I haven't been spending a lot of time at the computer, so I'll have to catch up on blogs sometime. Forgive me for slow response times.

The pretty pictures for this post are a skein of hand-dyed yarn I bought yesterday at Abundant Yarn & Dyeworks, whose sock yarn collection is impressive (although can't yet go head-to-head with the fabulous Wall O' Sock Yarn at wonderful Twisted). It's by Happiest Girl! Dyeworks in colorway "Unexpected." I haven't seen this particular dyer's yarn anywhere and I'm in love with this skein. The pictures don't begin to capture the colors - mostly muted greens, blues, and browns, but with the occasional sparkle of turquoise, gold, and electric purple.

I really should have spent some quality time with the image color adjuster for these photos, because they just look disappointing, but that'd cut into my valuable get-a-sunburn time.

It was only self-control and thoughts of all the stash sock yarn waiting patiently for attention that kept me from buying 2 or 3 more skeins in other colorways. I can't wait to see how it knits up.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I should probably apologize for that, but at least I'm likely not the first to do it.
The cherries are Chelan. I got them from the farmer's market this morning and they are SO GOOD.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Stitch patterns

There is probably something horribly wrong with me, if I am drunkenly thumbing through a Barbara Walker stitch pattern library and I see this pattern and think, "she shoulda called that the Vulva pattern because that's exactly what it looks like."

The Vulva pattern: doesn't look like it'd work for the problem sock yarn. Drat.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sock Disgruntlement

H was going to be for 'hyperbole' but I didn't get my stuff together for that, so I'll just spread some here: I've been working on a BILLION socks lately. Mostly I've just needed something portable and not requiring all that much thought. Socks fit the bill perfectly. And you know what? I look at them now and they are all ugly socks. Ugliness. Some I am just knitting to finish them up (fascination with the abomination, perhaps?) so I don't have to look at them any more. Is stockinette all I can mentally cope with? In wussy, washed out, clashing 80s colors?

I think I've OD'ed on the socks, maybe, because every one I look at I just think "meh." In order to regain some sock mojo I even *finished two pairs* on Sunday night. Yeah, that's how many socks I've been working. To be honest, 1 pair just needed ends woven in and the other needed some ends and a few rows on the toe. Still.

I've got this sock yarn that I really like, it's all happy lemon yellow and lime green (K the love monkey thinks it is the YUCK, but that's ok, because they are for ME ME ME. I have a bunch of black sock yarn lined up for him), but I cannot figure out a pattern that I like for the yarn. I've spent hours trying various things and it just looks horrible. Bah. I've got to steam it because it's all kinked up from the different knitting experiments. STUPID YARN, SPEAK TO ME!

Oh hey, or I could work on the 23 kajillion other projects I'm in the middle of. Instead I'll just whine a lot in print. Or maybe I'll just start another pair of socks.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Easy to please

Ladies and Gentlemen --

We have strawberries (that is if the squirrels don't get them first. GRRRRRR SQUIRRELS).

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Proof that I do actually finish things from time to time

Hi everyone, meet Bunny:

Not that Bunny. This one isn't wearing emerald green toenail polish and hanging with nihilists.

Bunny is a present for one of my nieces who just turned 2 a week ago (yes, I am late as ALWAYS)

Pattern: Rabbit from Baby Knits: 20 Handknit designs for babies 0-24 months by Lois Daykin
Needles: 3.25 mm/US 3 wooden DPNs
Yarn: Rowan RYC Cashsoft DK in peach for the body (1.3 balls), Rowan RYC Cashsoft 4 Ply and Cashcotton 4 Ply for the dress (.75 balls of the main color, and some 10-20 yards for every other color)

The pattern calls for everything to be knit flat, but I tried that for a single piece before converting everything possible to in-the-round. It saves seaming time and it's hard to see any different between the seamed piece and the rest of them. All of the increase and decreases are symmetrical, so it's easy to convert: Just switch the decreases to the right side version (e.g. P2tog->SSK) and eliminate the last stitch of every row.

The ears were the trickiest part, since they are in seed stitch, and decreasing while keeping the stitch pattern current is a bit tricky. I ended up with a row of knit stitches down the side of each ear, but it made the ears fold nicely so I call it a feature.

Other things I changed: I matched all the make-one increases because I thought they looked better that way and I'm a tiny bit anal-retentive like that. The pattern just specifies a generic left-leaning make 1.
In addition, I added 4 more seed stitch rows to each foot pad because they weren't long enough to fit nicely on the legs.

For once I hit the gauge spot-on with the recommended needles. You use the same size for both the body and the dress, since the body is knitted tighter so it can be stuffed. I changed the main stranded pattern on the dress from the one given in the book, because I only had 4 colors of 4 ply and I didn't like how it looked. I like mine much better. Hooray for graph paper.

It took me a while to sew up all the little pieces and then sew them to each other. Perhaps I was too aggressive, as I do not want her head ripped off (I fear 2-year-olds). More likely I just do not know the esoteric secrets of knitted stuff animal sewing.

This project also unfortunately reminded me of just how awful I am at embroidery. The nose is a solid mass of satin stitch (if you keep stitching eventually you'll cover all the surface, that's my motto). After a number of a failed tries at getting the backstitched mouth looking even, I surfed around and found chain stitch, my new best friend. It gave me enough control over the stitches that I could its expression look less psychotic and more benevolent. The pattern calls for embroidered whites on the eyes, but it looked horrid and I picked it all out and just went with buttons (VERY WELL SECURED, I ASSURE YOU).

This was my first stuffed toy and my first stranded knitting. I thought it'd be a good learning piece because my niece is not likely to care so much if my strands are a little too tight. Another unfortunate project epiphany: I suck real bad at American-style knitting, even after a few hours of practice. Oh well, I'll keep persisting. I haven't decided yet if I don't like it because I am clumsy at it, or because I just don't like it, so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.

Why is my bunny orange? Because she eats lots of carrots, of course.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Did I mention H is for HALLELUJAH!


Cruddy cellphone pictures, but you get the idea. I took them out the window just now. Just look at that cloud layer receding to the east!

High 75, low 50. Yay summer, yay!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Weekend with the 'rents

I think I mentioned that it's cold and feels like it's raining all the time and we'll never get any summer wah wah boohoo?
But it does make for some very nice pictures of rainy plants all out of focus and artsy.

We had a lovely weekend, despite the weather. I really should qualify that, because Sunday *was* a nice day and it didn't rain until evening.

On Saturday visited the Pittock Mansion, which I'd never been too. It's quite the pile--all the marble and sandstone was gorgeous. It was built 1909-1914, just late enough to get electric lights and a central radiator heating system, as well as phone service. Pittock emigrated to Oregon mid-19th century and was the first owner of the big local daily paper.

This is the outside. It's built up on the top of the hills west of Portland.

The grand stairway. There's 4 floors. It felt like being inside of a Clue game (study, music room, dining room, kitchen...)

They're not kidding about it having the best views in the city. This is the view out the bathroom window.

The kitchen tiles were nifty: when they first dug up the floor, they found that the tiles were interlocking pieces of rubber, and they recreated them and the pattern when they restored the room:

Sunday we went to the Japanese Garden, which was stunningly beautiful, as always. Everything was green and lush with all the rain.

One thing I really like about the garden? They just embrace the moss.
Unfortunately the effect doesn't look quite so good on our ratty front lawn.

One more azalea picture for the road, OK?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I is for Iceburg Lettuce

Because I hate it. I don't like iceburg lettuce at all, and for 18 years of my life, that's what I believed salads consisted of. To be fair, it's not like it tastes all that bad, it just doesn't really taste. The crunchiness: OK, but so are carrots (and heck, romaine) and they taste good. A salad: bunch of crunchy cardboard drowned in dressing to make it taste good.

Fortunately I finally discovered the rest of the World of Lettuce and since then I've even been known to like salads and even eat them by choice (gasp!) I'll eat baby mache straight, no dressing adulteration required.

I'm flippant today because I'm feeling a weird mix of anti-social, diverted, elated, sad, and lonely. The 'rents return home this afternoon. I think I will have dinner with my love monkey and then knit alone for a couple hours and not talk to anyone. I suppose this means I'm an introvert on the whole Meyers-Briggs scale, but then comes the times I crave company and camaraderie. It's just exhausting.

Bah. Enough navel inspection.

Monday, June 09, 2008


Thing #2 winner is Nicole, who guessed the closest:
I know that people have already guessed that you're getting a pattern published, so I'm going to guess an article instead (either by you or about you).

But I *wish* I were having a book published. Thank you all for entering my contest. Just a little article, not even a pattern. It should be coming out sometime soon. I don't know how much I can say so I'm going to keep mum for the moment. I'll just say that all that t-shirt tie-dyeing came in handy, at long last.

ETA:Woo! My article was posted this morning in the Summer edition of Knitty!

Friday, June 06, 2008

The 'rents have landed

First off - for the Thing #2 contest, I should have clarified: if more than one person guesses correctly, I'll pick a winner randomly from among the correct guessers. If you want to change your guess because of this, that's fine. Sorry for the confusion.

K's parents arrived late Wednesday night. I feel bad that the weather is so crappy; it is definitely not 'summer' unless you define summer as 55 degrees F, overcast and rainy. Ah well. This is what I need to remember when it is 102 and humid. CANNOT PLEASE ME.

Sorry, I'm a little spastic because Thing #1 was confirmed this morning and is a go! WOOHOO! I'll talk about it soon.

One of my current sock projects. I never got the self-patterning thing, it never seemed all that interesting to me. I picked up some Lang Jacquard for socks for my Dad just on a whim, and I Get It Now. It's so much fun to see the new colors come up. But you know what's crazy-making? Attempting to knit 10 spi by using 1.5mm needles because I am so loosey-goosey. On the other hand, the fabric is nice. On the other hand, smaller than toothpicks. Bleh.

These last two are from walking around downtown.
I found this lamp to be just a little creepy. It was in a window advertising a high-end frufru steak house.

Hmm, speaking of steak houses, we need to find a good, not-totally-insane seafood place and fast. The 'rents hail from the midwest and so a good salmon dinner is high on their list during visits. Unfortunately all the seafood places I know of are from Ye Olde Schoole of dark wood paneling and stuffiness. Or fish 'n' chips. There seems to be no middle ground. I think we may have to grill our own.

New condo building strut/decoration. I just really liked the orange color, especially with the green against it. So happy! So not grey like the sky! I know this probably makes me a freak. Do I care? No.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Thing #2

Contest! My good fortune is your good fortune! Drop me an email at bigalice at ye olde and guess what Thing #2 is to enter. Contest will go until Friday midnight PST or until someone else publicly spills the beans about Thing #2, whichever comes first.

Edited to Add: if more than one person guesses right, I'll pick one of the correct guessers via random number generator.


1. I'm not pregnant

2. Thing #2 is tangentially related to knitting but is itself not knitting.

I'll send a hand-dyed skein of fingering-weight yarn in the color of your choice to whomever guesses first (or closest). Here's an example in greens:

And, 3. No, I'm not opening my own hand-dyed yarn store. This isn't meant to compete in any way with La over at Fibercrack’d, so go over there and join her contest and ogle her beautiful yarn!

Now I'm going to go hide under my desk. In-laws on the horizon at T-36 hours and counting. Send reinforcements and cleaning supplies.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Where did June come from?

I really intended to post last week but there is so much going on. I'm having a hard time keeping it all in a row. There is thing #1 that I can't talk about, and thing #2 that I also can't talk about; thing #1 is causing me much stress (not bad stress, but definitely stress). And then my in-laws are coming to visit this week so the whole weekend was spent cleaning and not doing much in the way of FUN. Well, I did squeeze in a little fun, because my time is precious and valuable and I refuse to spend all of it in scrubbing out the refrigerator. (The fridge, she is inherited and old and probably uses too much electricity. I clean up the sticky bits, the mold, and the crumbs, but I leave it at that. I guess that makes me a lax housekeeper. Bite me.)

Dad & I visited the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden when he was here, at the peak of rhodie bloom season.

Also, I like flowers and plants 'n' stuff but I get really tired spending all day planting them. I really should just suck it up and buy hanging baskets that are already pre-pretty from the nursery, but I have this ongoing delusion that I am a Master Gardener so I amble through the "trailing annuals" aisles at the local plant nursery looking for exactly the color combination to make The Perfect Hanging baskets. (See also: I am cheap).

The birds own that park. A canada goose looks at me laconically.

I tried to embroider the whites of the eyes on El Bunnie but it just looks weird so I think I will go with buttons only. They are very well secured; I even used cotton-covered poly thread, which is a pain in the rear to break. I am already late for her birthday. Gotta get this out the door.

I picked up the lace stole again because I felt guilty. Michelle showed me a shawl that she started and finished and blocked in less than a two weeks. My poor stole has been out of the loop for months and months. I have to finish this, if only to reclaim my needles. It's just so repetitive.

But the goslings are pretty dang cute

The weather has been craptastic lately (as usual for Mayish), with the occasional evil tease of a nice day to keep us hoping. K's aunt's name for this month is Junuary.

The bad weather is entirely explained by the fact that it's the currently Rose Festival time in Portland. It's the biggest civic event of the year - parades, carnival rides, fireworks, etc. Overcast skies and rain is traditional. You think I'm joking, but Every. Single. Year. we have lived here it has POURED rain on the Saturday of the big parade. I kid you not. So if you live in the NW, I apologize -- next Saturday morning will be a downpour. On the plus side, the sunny weather should arrive in force as soon as next weekend is over. Except you, Seattle, you know you always get rained on for the 4th of July. That's traditional, too.

Another common view of the geese.

The other big change (for me) is that I've started riding my bike to work most of the time. K & I scouted out a route that is mostly residential streets (lucky K gets a bike trail for a good chunk of his route). It's about 5 miles each way, and only a little bit of downtown streets. So not too bad, only I've learned to despise drivers on cell phones even more. It's sure a whole lot more fun than taking public transit, although it's cut out my train knitting time.

Sorry, this post is like a poker hand with a something of everything and nothing useful. Good wishes to all of you.