Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Drive-by Blogging

1) My math skills escaped me in the last post - there are actually 93 bottle caps in each panel, which makes the panel a much better deal!

2) It's suddenly relatively cool and maybe rainy - the high for the rest of the week is supposed to range from high 70s to low 80s, which is great Fiesta weather. We've got a chance of rain, but cool and rainy is better than miserable hot and sweaty. You're wet either way.....

Monday, April 24, 2006

Viva Fiesta!

This is Fiesta week in San Antonio. Fiesta is an annual 10-day party that includes events all over San Antonio. It started in 1891 with the Battle of Flowers parade to commemorate the Battle of San Jacinto. Now it includes three big parades - the Bttle of Flowers (a.k.a. the Day Parade), Fiesta Flambeau (the Night Parade) and the River Parade, where the floats really do float. Luckily, it's cooled off a little bit - I think yesterday the high was around 90 - so we'll only be sweaty, not miserable, during Fiesta.

Yesterday I went with my sister and a couple of friends to the Fiesta Arts Fair. This is not your ordinary arts'n'crafts show - it's a juried show with participants from all over the country. I bought some earrings by my favorite jewelry maker and this:

It's a 6-foot-long panel made of vintage bottle caps. The panel isn't solid bottle caps - there are about 50, divided up in sections like this one. The sections are connected with key-chain chain (if you know what I mean). For the last six years, I've been trying to figure out how to sort of disguise the entrance to my pantry/laundry room from the kitchen. The entrance is fairly narrow, so I think 3 of these panels will do, hung from a curtain rod. They're a little pricey, though, so I'm starting with this one. Luckily the artist is local so I can acquire more periodically. But I just love it! It the right combination of funky and food-related that my kitchen needs!

There is some knitting news. Remember my Chevron Scarf (which I have to admit isn't done yet - I promise it will be done by winter)? Well, here's her little sister -- Chevron Scarf II, made out of one of the unidentified yarns I got at the yarn swap.

Last winter, one of my cousins admired the Chevron Scarf, which was about 2 inches long at the time. Her birthday is in about 3 weeks, so I need to knit, knit like the wind. Although this one should go faster, since it's 36 stitches on size 8 needles, compared to 72 stitches on size 6s. I really think size 9s might be better but it's too late now!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Meme and a Sock

I had been thinking about the contest that Kat is having: Name 5 places other than your house or a knitting store where you have knit. I didn't think I had knitted in that many interesting places, and then I realized that I was thinking about this while knitting at a stop light (not all that unusual, I know). So, here goes:

Five places other than my house or a knitting store where I have knit
  1. At what must be San Antonio's longest stoplight, at the intersection of Huebner (pronounced, by the way, HEEB-ner) and Babcock
  2. At my desk on my lunch hour, while reading knitblogs and listening to podcasts, knitting and otherwise
  3. In the finance guy's office at the Saturn dealership when I was buying my current car. While I waited for the finance guy, I knitted. He called me into his office, and I kept knitting. He said, "Is that crochet? Can you do that while you talk?" I told him I was knitting ("one stick, crochet; two sticks, knitting") and that I could talk, especially since I didn't have to count during that part of the pattern. And he asked, "You have to count when you knit?"
  4. At a crop (scrapbooking party), when my scrapbook just didn't interest me
  5. At lunch during the SCC Board meeting, just a couple weeks ago. I tried to turn the heel while I talked. I ended frogging the entire pink cable footie.

And here's progress on my Sixth Sense Sock. I've turned the heel and I'm very happy with it. It's my first short row heel and it's done in garter stitch. I have a teeny hole where the heel meets the instep, but it's practically unnoticeable. It seemed harder than a heel flap, but then, my first heel flap seemed hard, too.

Oh, and if you tuned it for the weather report, the high today was only 83F (28C), very close to the normal high is 81F (27C). And it rained a little last night and today!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Yarn Swap Stash Enhancement

I've talked about our yarn swap last Saturday and you've seen the pictures. But I didn't think about showing you what I got in exchange for my weird black and white Lion Brand yarn, the odd acrylic boucle (although I did really like the colors of that yarn!), and a little bit of cash.

As is usually the case on my blog, the colors aren't too great. (Do I need a new camera? Or just more talent? Don't answer that....) Most of my new stash isn't labeled, and I'm not sure how much of it I have, but it's so much better than the yarn I took! In the upper left is some pretty lavender linen yarn, Louet, I believe, that Kim didn't like. In the upper right is a whole bunch of something that I have no idea what it is, but the colors are so pretty -- pinks and red and light green and a bronzey color. It's a relatively thin yarn (maybe DK weight) with definite texture. In order to take this yarn, Betsy forced me to take the blue and purple and sparkly Skacel Summerwind you see in the center. It's really kind of pretty and I'm thinking it could become something for my 9-year-old niece. And in the front - the piece de resistance -- a whole bunch of pink/rose/maybe kinda fuchsia mohair with thin multicolor strands intwined. I see a shawl....

But first, I see a sock. This is the Sixth Sense Sock from the Six Sox Knitalong (I don't think that link will work if you haven't joined the KAL, but go ahead and click it to find out!) The yarn is Koigu KPPPM, evocatively named P717. It's not nearly as blue as it looks in the picture, although it does have blue in it. In life, it looks fairly neutral, in a slightly pinkish tannish way.

This is a fairly simply pattern, although you'll see the cuff is turning up. The cuff is in garter stitch, although the rest of the sock is in a variation of 4x2 rib. I've just begun the heel, which is a short-row garter stitch heel. This is my first short-row heel and I haven't done enough so far to know if I like it or not.

And for those of you following our weather -- the high today was supposed to be in the high 80s, but it got up to 97, which wasn't a record - it got up to 100 in 1996. That was the summer that my parents built their house down here (which they lived in for 3 years, before moving back to Illinois to be near the only grandchild. Yes, it's true -- Simon wasn't enough for them!). Anyway, I remember that summer was hot, so I guess it started early. And right now, I'm hearing thunder and see a little lightning, but I'll bet there's no real rainfall.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Are you tired of the Cable Footies yet?

Look, it's a pair of hot pink cable footies at home among the cake stands!

This is my second pair of these, and they're great - a very quick knit, even if you frog half of the first one you knit (which I did, both times). They're from One Skein, and knit in my fave Cascade 220. I used US8 BrySpun Bry-Flexes, which I've already gushed about. These are for my friend Linne', who I'll be rooming with at MLA.

Last time I mentioned our yarn swap on Saturday at Valletta Kafe in Pleasanton. We all had so much fun, and luckily Susan has posted pictures. Be sure to check out Enid channeling Frida! And that's not some sort of dead animal on her head - it's a large skein of something (mohair boucle?) that Kim got from Betsy, owner of the really charming Kafe.

And summer is here with a vengeance. Although the official temperature today was only 99, it was 102 on my side of town. The normal high is around 80. Just a touch of global warming, maybe?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Birthday Meme

First - we're apparently done with spring and into summer. The high temperature today was 95 (35 C), breaking a record from 1894. The normal high is 80 (26 C). They're predicting it will be just as hot tomorrow.

This meme has been making the rounds, and, since I have no interesting knitting content to show you, here it is. (Actually, my knitting group met this afternoon at Valletta Kafe in Pleasanton for a yarn swap - I came home with more than I took, but it was much better quality, so definitely a good thing!)

So here's the meme: Do a Wikipedia search of your birthdate, minus the year; list three interesting events, three people who were born, and three people who died on that day. Like almost everyone else who has done this meme, I had trouble limiting my choices to 3, so I didn't!

Interesting events:
1954 - Elvis Presley makes his debut as a public performer.
1956 - A Joint Resolution of the U.S. Congress is signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, authorizing "In God We Trust" as the U.S. national motto.
1974 - Watergate Scandal: US President Richard M. Nixon releases subpoenaed White House recordings after being ordered to do so by the United States Supreme Court.
1975 - Jimmy Hoffa disappears from the parking lot of the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit, at about 2:30 p.m.
1990 - The first Saturn automobile rolls off the assembly line. (I drive a Saturn Vue.)

People who were born:
1818 - Emily Brontë, English novelist (d. 1848)
1939 - Peter Bogdanovich, American film director
1941 - Paul Anka, Canadian singer and composer
1947 - Arnold Schwarzenegger, Austrian-born actor and Governor of California
1956 - Delta Burke, American actress
1960 - Richard Linklater, American director
1961 - Laurence Fishburne, American actor
1963 - Lisa Kudrow, American actress
1971 - Tom Green, Canadian comedian and actor
1974 - Hilary Swank, American actress
1984 - Kevin Pittsnogle, American basketball player

People who died:
1718 - William Penn, English founder of the Province of Pennsylvania (b. 1644)
1898 - Otto von Bismarck, German chancellor (b. 1815)
1918 - Joyce Kilmer, American poet (b. 1886) ("I think that I shall never see/a poem as lovely as a tree....")
1983 - Lynn Fontanne, English actress (b. 1887)
1989 - Lane Frost, American bull rider (b. 1963)
1996 - Claudette Colbert, French-American actress (b. 1903) (one of the stars of my favorite movie, It Happened One Night)

Monday, April 10, 2006

It's a Pink Cable Footie!

Despite the set-back (read: complete frogging), I've complete half the pair of hot pink cable footies and have cast on for the second.

Remember my frustration with Kitchener stitch? I still want to master Kitchenering, but for this toe, I just pulled the yarn through the last eight stitches, and I'm really happy with it!

If you look carefully at the floor behind the footie, you'll see something purple. Actually, you'll see several cat toys under the TV cabinet, but one should look familiar. Yes, it's the purple catnip mouse! I noticed a couple days ago that it looked a little "felted," and sure enough last night I saw this.

Harley seems to be quite fond of the mouse. She carries toys around with her, so I expect to find it in my bed soon. I once found a US3 DPN in bed, and I'm pretty sure I wasn't knitting in my sleep!

Speaking of DPNs... Susan and May asked about my rosewood DPNs, and how they compare to the Bryspuns. I'm using the Bryspun Bry-Flex US8 needles for the footies, and US2 Colonial Rosewood needles for the Sixth Sense socks. They're very different, as needles go, but I like them both! The Bry-Flexes are obviously much larger needles, but they have a really cool point, which is apparently only on their larger needles. I tried to find a picture online, but couldn't, so we'll have to make do with this fuzzy one I took. But see how the tip sort of dips in? Very nice - I think it speeds up my knitting, which is a good thing, since I'm the world's slowest knitter.

The rosewood needles are great to use - smoother than bamboos, I think, and they feel stronger. Like all wood needles, they're warm and flexible. For little needles, I think rosewood may become my favorite, especially since the teeny Bry-Flexes don't have the cool point.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Sunday Morning Blogging

I don't usually post in the morning, or even during the day - 5 mornings out of 7, I'm at work, and there's barely time to read blogs, much less to post. On Sunday mornings, I'm usually in church. But today, even though it's Palm Sunday, a day where, in my church at least, you get to bring home a souvenir (a palm), I stayed home. My allergies have been really bad for the last few days and the thought of dealing with the Palm Sunday crowd was about more than I could bear.

So, I'm at home, doing laundry, reading blogs, and listening to knitting podcasts (currently, Episode 2 of It's a Purl, Man). So here are some random thoughts:

1. Thanks to a comment to Ann and Kay's latest hilarious post, I cannot get "King of the Road" by Roger Miller out of my mind. Of course, after reading that Wikipedia entry for Roger Miller, I seem to be moving on to "England Swings." I don't seem to really know more than the chorus of "England Swings," though, and that's really frustrating.

charlotte & aggie2. You've seen pictures of my current kitties, Simon and Harley. Here are my previous kitties, Charlotte and Aggie. Like Simon, Charlotte was a tuxedo cat. The only white on her face was on her chin and her whiskers. She was kind of a little cat and was the best cat ever. I got her in January 1985, when she was about 7 months old. She had been a stray, and I got her from a vet's office. She lived to be 18, when she went into kidney failure very suddenly. She definitely ruled the roost. For the last few years of her life, she lived not just with Aggie but with Simon and Schuster (my sister's other cat). Oh, and with my sister and me, too! She was a very sweet cat, very easy to live with, but definitely in charge of the cat posse.

I got Aggie (short of for Agnes, not anything to do with the Texas A&M Aggies, although I got that question all the time) in 1988, when Charlotte was 4 years old. You know how they tell you to keep the new kitten away from the old cat for a while? Charlotte would not allow that! As far as Charlotte was concerned, Aggie was her baby. Aggie was the daughter of two semi-feral cats (probably brother and sister) who were fed by a friend of mine. She looked like a Maine coon cat and was very shy. She was a big cat and had lots of hair. Charlotte groomed her for at least the first 5 years of her life, which meant that she never really learned to groom herself. After Charlotte quit grooming her, it became my job. She liked being combed and brushed, but would only let me do it while lying in bed. Aggie was very ill with a virus of some sort when she was a kitten and spend about 4 days at the vet. This apparently traumatized her and after that, she was always frightened of people, even, to an extent, me -- getting her to the vet was always a trauma for both of us! My friends knew they were really part of my life when they actually saw Aggie. Aggie lived to be 13, when she developed a tumor on her jaw. It was diagnosed on Sept 10, 2001, so my memories of 9/11 are always intertwined with my memories of the last month of her life. Operating on the tumor would have meant removing part of her jaw. This sounded awful and not really an improvement, so I spent about 6 weeks just watching her and adjusting her diet to softer and softer food as the tumor grew. I had to have her put to sleep in October 2001. She actually hung on longer than I thought she would; she sort of let me know when she was ready to go, which made it easier. Charlotte died almost exactly a year later, very suddenly, which was harder. (And now you know more about my late cats that you do about me....)

3. Knitting content: Nothing much to talk about. Scroll down and look at the sock cuffs. The Sixth Sense Sock is about two inches longer and the Cable Footies is down past the heel turn. It would be farther along except I frogged the whole thing and started over, after I screwed up the heel turn the first time through. (I was at a meeting on Friday, and tried to turn the heel while I talked. Oops......)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

A Pair of Socks

Actually, it's a pair of sock cuffs, although it's not a matching pair! On the left is this month's Sixth Sense Sock from the Six Sox Knitalong. The Six Sox Knitalong knits a pair of sox every other month -- they just began the April pair, so I joined right up. The yarn is Koigu KPPM in colorway P717 (so evocative!). And see the rosewood US2 DPNs? I got them at the LYS sale a couple weeks ago, and like them a lot. On the right is the beginning of another pair of Cable Footies, this time in hot pink Cascade 220, on the same US8 BrySpun Bry-Flex DPNs that I used for the last pair. I like these needles, too! These are for my friend from Houston who I'm rooming with at a conference next month.

The Sixth Sense Sock was interesting to start. There's a ribbed cuff version, but of course I had to do the more complicated hemmed version. You turn under the first few rows, then knit the cast-on edge with the next row, stitch by stitch, to "sew" it down. Kind of fiddly and really time-consuming, but it turned out nice. I hope the second one turns out as well -- I hope I remember how I did it!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

No Sock Here

So I had started my first toe-up socks using my Koigu KPPM. Just to make it more interesting, I was making up my own pattern - I wanted to use a figure 8 toe (like from the Knitty tutorial), a short-row heel and beaded rib (from Sensational Knitted Socks) and a picot bind-off (from all sorts of places). My problem was that I can't find anywhere that will tell me how many stitches to cast on to get to a given number of stitches. The tutorial showed starting with 8 stitches per needle to get to a 48 stitch sock. But SKS said, with my gauge, foot-size, and needle size, I needed a 70 stitch sock. I sort of winged it, starting with 12 stitches. It looked fine when I got up to 70 stitches (and it was lots of fun, and not all that hard). I did 6 rows of the pattern, and put it on my toes to take a picture -- and it was huge!!! So I frogged the whole thing, which was dumb -- since I had a giant swatch, I should have at least used it to double-check my gauge!

So I guess the problem wasn't with the cast-on, but with the number of stitches. 70 does seem like a lot, doesn't it? In my swatch, I was getting 7 and a half stiches per inch on size 2 needles. My feet are size 9s, and about 9 and a half inches around at the widest points (both the ball of my foot and my instep).

9.5 x 7.5 = 71.25

Huh. 70 stitches should have been a little snug. How come I had sock flopping all around the ball of my foot? Maybe I frogged too soon. Or maybe I was knitting looser than my gauge. I guess I should have measured before I frogged....

I've also begun a pair of Cable Footies for a friend. I'm going back to them - they can flop around all the want!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Stash Flashing

dandelionsBut first -- this is my backyard, outside my living room. See those giant "flowers"? They're dandelions. I need to do something about this this afternoon, although, if it weren't for the weeds, there wouldn't be much green in my backyard at all!

Now, on to my stash:

Actually, my stash wasn't as big as I was afraid it was. I was particularly worried that the wtf? part of it would be huge, but really, it's not so bad.

Here's where most of my stash lives. It's a vintage 1950's dresser that was my grandmother's, but now belongs to my sister. (yes, it's missing some drawer pulls - in one of the drawers is a bag with replacement pulls.) My sister doesn't have room fo it, so it's in my craft room. My stash takes up the right-side drawers that you see here, except for WIPs, which live in my living room in a leather bin next to my knitting chair.

As you might guess from the can of Oust, my stash shares the craft room with a large litter box.

WIPsHere are my current WIPs. At the back left is a large stockinette-in-the-round bag which will be felted if I ever finish the knitting. I've decided that is has to become the knitting I take to knitting group - it's mindless and it has to get done! At the back right is the bubble gum pink mohair shawl, which I can only work on when it's cold. Unfortunately, our coldest weather this year came during the Olympics, while I was slaving over those socks. Front right is a feather and fan scarf from some yummy Brooks Farm Duet, and front left is Koigu KPPM which are about to become a pair of socks for me. And I just realized that hiding somewhere is a skein of fuchsia Cascade 220, which I've cast on for a pair of the Cable Footies for a friend.

stashThis is the heart of my stash. This yarn will become something someday. Some of it already knows what it will be. That raspberry Drops Alpaca at the front left will be a lace smoke ring like Eunny's. The row of red balls in the middle is some more Brooks Farm Duet, which is destined to be another Clapotis. There's also a good bit of sock yarn behind the Brooks Farm. Behind the lighter pink alpaca is four balls of Kidsilk Haze in a wonderful gray-lavender called Majestic. It was supposed to be Birch. However, a couple nights ago I frogged the three rows I had done. I'm not sure what I'll do with it now, but I'm sure I'll do something - after all, it's Kidsilk Haze! (Although now that I've looked at the Yarn Harlot's pictures of hers again, I'm thinking maybe it will become Birch after all.)

leftoversSimon recognizes this yarn - it's all left-overs from FOs. Notice there are quite a few complete skeins in there. I almost always buy too much yarn for a project.

And finally, here's the dreaded wtf? pile. Like I said - it's not as bad as I remembered. About half of it is from my beginning days as a knitter (see all that Lion Brand boucle'?), some of it is that $1 yarn from Target which I should have resisted, and some of it I inherited from other people's stashes. Sorry if you see something there that used to be in your stash - but there was a reason you wanted to give it away, right?wtf

So that's my stash. Now I need to go look at yours!