A Very Sad Picture

cmsnowcam2

This is our local ski area, Crystal Mountain. All the Washington state ski areas have closed due to lack of snow. It’s 37 degrees at the summit at the moment, so while that sky might look like it has moisture in it, I doubt that it will be the white fluffy kind. While I don’t like snow in my backyard, it would be nice to be able to drive to it and play for awhile.

Half Finished!

John’s green socks are half done. I finished the first of the pair the other night while watching television.

knitting_update_12605_007

It actually fits him better than it looks in that photo. For some reason he left the toe all bunched up when he put it on.

I think he likes it.

knitting_update_12605_005

I’ve also made a little progress on Rogue. I decided to do the pocket just for the fun of it.

knitting_update_12605_012

Here’s what the “fabric” looks like up close.

knitting_update_12605_013

——————————————————————————————-

I bought a new coffee cup and mouse pad, and the mailman brought them this morning, just in time for coffee.

knitting_update_12605_015

knitting_update_12605_017

Cute, eh?
These came from CafePress.com, and you can have them too. Or a t-shirt, or a tote bag, or even a bumper sticker. Though I think if you buy one of these items without donating to the Yarn Harlot’s cause something bad might happen to you.

Another Yarn Project

My weekend project was knitting related. I went looking for a particular bag of yarn, couldn’t find it, and ended up dumping all my storage containers out and reorganizing them. At one point in the project John pointed out “you could open your own yarn store with all this”. Silly man. He’s assuming that I would want to get rid of any of it.

I’ve been planning to do this for a long time. Mostly I’ve been just stuffing yarn in the plastic boxes without any plan. I started out by sorting the yarn into categories, but decided that I need some sort of system to be able to find what I’m looking for. So I fired up the computer and set up an Access database to keep track of stuff. I’ve never used this software before, but it was easy enough to set up a simple table that does what I want it to do. I set up fields for yarn name, fiber content, gauge, yardage per skein, total yardage I own, and most importantly, which box the damn stuff is in. I numbered the boxes and tagged each entry in the database with the box number. I took pictures of everything and attached a photo to each entry. I also added a field for project type. It’s not unusual for me to buy yarn for a specific pattern, then promptly forget what I bought it for. If I have a specific pattern in mind, I put that in the database; if it’s just a generic “sweater”, or “socks”, I note that.

The fields are sortable; for example, if I sort by gauge, I can get a list of all the yarns I have that knit to 20 stitches per 4 inches. Handy, if you are looking for yarn for a specific project.

It dawned on me to take a picture when I was partly done with the whole thing. Keep in mind that I have over half of the yarn catalogued and put away at this point.

yarn_sorting_001_1

OK, maybe I have way more than half of it put away.

I discovered several things while doing this project. I have enough yarn to make at least fifteen or so sweaters. I am too embarrassed to even say how much yarn I have to make socks and hats or scarves and shawls. Even if I knit four or five projects a year from now until the day I die, I don’t need to buy any more yarn. Of course, that won’t stop me. I also discovered that despite all this yarn bounty, I do NOT have any yarn appropriate for Clapotis.  It’s just going to have to wait, I guess.

On the project front, here is the progress on Rogue:

knitting_update_12305_004

I’m getting close to the point where I will need to make a decision on the kangaroo pocket. I like the idea of it, but in this heavy yarn, I’m afraid it will sag and look baggy. It does look fun to do though. Have any of you done the pocket? Any thoughts?

And I’m slowly working on the green socks.

knitting_update_12305_005_1

John likes his socks longer, so my plan was to knit these from the toe up in order to use every bit of yarn. The only problem is that the yarn is in three balls, not two. I came up with another ingenious knitting gadget to figure out when I had used half of the second ball.

knitting_update_12305_002

I’m talking about the scale, not the bottle of Three Buck Chuck in the background.
Weigh the yarn, knit until about half is gone (the yarn, not the wine), then start the second sock.

My Stuff

OK, everybody else has done it, so I will too. This is courtesy of Nake-id Knits.

Grooming Products
• Shampoo: Kirkland brand (Costco) in the huge bottle. My theory is that all shampoo comes out of the same vat somewhere in Oklahoma. Occasionally I get suckered into buying the expensive stuff, and always go back to the cheap Costco no-name kind.
• Moisturizer: Nourishing Dew Moisturizer, from www.silkroadtea.com. My skin is so dry that it just soaks up this oil.
• Cologne: Number Six, from Caswell Massey (yeah, yeah, I know it’s a men’s cologne. It’s still my favorite.)
• Razor: Gillette Venus
• Toothpaste: Crest for sensitive teeth…or whatever is available in the big packages at Costco.

Electronics
• Cell phone: Motorola
• Computer: IBM Thinkpad laptop
• Television: RCA
• Stereo: Mish mash of Harmon Kardon and Denon components. The CD player hasn’t worked for months. We’ll probably get a new one eventually at WHERE ELSE?? COSTCO!

Home
• Sheets: Flannel or cotton sheets from Costco.
• Coffee maker: an ancient Bunn drip thing
• Car: 1999 VW Beetle, red. It usually looks like I’m living in it, with all the junk in the back.
• Stationery: who writes letters?? Email!

Beverages
• Bottled water: Crystal in 5 gallon jugs; we have it delivered.
• Coffee: Batdorf & Bronson, a roaster in Olympia WA. Costa Rica La Minita is the best. I drink it strong and black, so as not to dilute out the caffeine. Yes, I’ve tried the Costco whole-bean coffee. Not bad, but I’m very picky about my coffee.
• Vodka: Grey Goose, though Jewel of Russia is good if you’re drinking shots in the Russian style.
• Bourbon: this wasn’t on the original list, but I’m a bourbon girl. Wathen’s, Woodford Reserve, Old Rip Van Winkle. The small-batch bourbon style.
• Beer: La Conner Brewery, from La Conner WA. A good India Pale Ale or ESB from any good microbrewery.

Clothes
• Jeans: actually don’t wear them much, but Lands End.
• T-shirt: I have a huge collection, but the plain Lands End and Eddie Bauer ones get the most wear.
• Briefcase or Tote: I have an old beat up leather briefcase that I bought in a leather shop in Taos, and several Vera Bradley totes for knitting projects.
• Sneakers: Asics
• Watch: Swiss Army, from Costco

Favorite Places
• My kitchen looking out over the lake
• Out on the Washington Pacific coast on the Olympic peninsula
• Paris
• Mandolin Café in Tacoma…coffee, magazines, wi-fi hotspot, fireplace

Necessary Extravagances
• Yarn and knitting supplies
• Good coffee and tea
• Good wine

Yes, I’m a Costco girl! My husband is even worse. Now if they would only sell yarn….

Fun Week

So far this has been a really fun week. I finished my work-week late Monday night, thinking I would have a week to catch up on blogging, knitting, and just generally hanging out. I woke up Tuesday with a horrendous pain in my mouth, and had an emergency root canal done on Wednesday. Between the pain and the drugs I’m taking for the pain (better living through modern chemistry), I haven’t gotten a whole lot done so far with my time off. I had the misfortune of growing up on a farm with non-fluoridated well water, and in a small town with marginal dental care, so have aging teeth that are starting to cost me a fortune. The good side of the story is that I live in a country that has superb dental care available to those who can afford it, and I am fortunate enough to be able to afford it. I could live the rest of my life without ever having to get another root canal, however. That would be just fine with me.

I bought yarn for a new project. This is King Cole Luxury Mohair, in the color Biaritz. I’ve used this yarn before and love its fuzzy mohair-y goodness. I wasn’t sure I’d like the black and white, but it is really shades of black, silver, gray, and white, and quite elegant looking.

knitting_update_12105_001

I’m making a shawl out of this. It will be a simple rectangular garter stitch shawl, and the plan is for it to be quite large. Here is the start.

knitting_update_12105_002

I didn’t really need another project, but I needed something that I could do while watching movies or TV that doesn’t require paying much attention. And I love warm fuzzy blanket-y things that I can wrap up in when it’s damp and cold outside.

The Rogue sweater is coming along. I finally finished that blasted hem. The twisted stockinette stitch combined with a heavy yarn and the smaller gauge required for the hem part was hard on my hands. Plus it was boring. Now I’m into the body section, with the cabling on the sides. I will just say that this pattern is very well written. Everything is spelled out, so you don’t have to guess what to do next.

knitting_update_12105_003

knitting_update_12105_004

I’ll leave you with a picture of Lucy. Well, really it’s just a picture of Lucy’s tail.

knitting_update_12105_005

The visiting dogs have gone home, and Lucy is quite happy to have her house back.

War President

warpres21small

Check out the American Leftist, and Kerstin’s post from the 19th to find out what this picture means.

And then go here, to the Washington Post Faces of the Fallen.
—————————————————————————-

(Added at 10AM)

If you want to support the troops while protesting our president’s actions, go to Jean’s post today. She has compiled a list of links in her left sidebar. It’s good to be reminded that these men and women in uniform are just doing their job. Every one of them is somebody’s son or daughter, and most of them are young kids away from home for the first time.

Filler Post

So….what do you blog about when you have spent the last week getting to this point on a new sweater project:

knitting_update_116053

Meet Rogue. If you think it doesn’t look like much in the picture, well it doesn’t look like much in real life either. This has been one of THOSE weeks at work, and I haven’t gotten much knitting done.

We have a house full of new dogs. We are dog sitting for a friend who is taking her male Kerry blue terrier to the Eukanuba dog show this week, and have her two female terriers here. I took pictures of Kiara and Bianca, but honestly, not being their mother, I admit that I can’t always tell them apart. Riley is used to having them around and knows they always go home eventually, so isn’t too worried. The cats, having a much shorter attention span, are pretty certain we’ve done something totally dumb and brought two new dogs here to stay. Willie, ever the adventurer, hasn’t retreated, but is a bit wary. He also just boxed Kiara in the nose a bit ago, so she is learning that cats are not necessarily just for chasing. Lucy is being her usual cowardly self, and we have the upstairs blocked off with a baby gate so she has a safe haven. Here they are, obviously making themselves at home.

knitting_update_116051

knitting_update_116054

————————————————————————————-

Competition in the Knitting Doctor world!

Go here and meet Kristen. Another knitting doctor (well, doctor-to-be). Woo Hoo! We’re taking over the blogging world! Here’s to knitting in class!

The Purple Thing

I couldn’t wait until my husband got home to get a decent picture. The buttons are on more or less straight, my hair is just-how-it-dries wacky, but here is the lavender cardigan, finished.

photo_update_10905_003

Once I get a decent photo, I’ll update the Finished Projects page with the details.

First finished project of 2005! Woo-hoo!

Gauge Wars…

Or, The Revenge of the Knitting Goddess

I spoke too soon. I believe I’ve used the word hubris in this blog before. After knitting a few inches of Rogue, I measured. My gauge was not the required 4.5 inches per inch, but more like 4, or even a bit less. Even accounting for the difference after washing, this was going to be way off. The only thing I can figure is that I was very excited about starting this sweater, and that I knitted my first swatch very tightly in my excitement. This has happened to me before. Most notably, when I went to Wintergrass, which is Tacoma’s annual bluegrass festival (which is coming up, by the way!!), I found that I knit very tightly while listening to wild bluegrass fiddle music. Who knew?

I stared at this, and stared at it. I briefly considered making a live animal offering to the Knitting Goddess if she would change what I was measuring. The cats were starting to get nervous.

“Take Lucy”, Willie said, “she’s older and prettier. The Knitting Goddess will like her better.”

photo_update_10805_004

That’s Willie. He doesn’t make many blog appearances, but I tricked him into the photo shoot by telling him it was suppertime.

I considered finishing the sweater as is, and hope it would fit someone. With my new measurements, it would have to be Bigfoot, and I don’t think he would appreciate a pink hooded sweater.

I did a new swatch; it works perfectly, this time on size 6 needles, instead of size 7. You have no idea of the variety of ways the “f” word can be used to apply to knitting.

So I ripped the whole flipping thing out. If you have made Rogue, and if you have followed the pattern suggestion to do a twisted stockinette stitch hem, you know how much fun starting this over is, especially on a size smaller needle than the main pattern needle size. I am already getting my money’s worth out of this yarn.

I’m not saying nothin’ else about gauge until I’m at least six inches into this sweater, and maybe not then.

As consolation, this is what the Pacific Northwest looked like this morning. We’ve been getting snow and storm warnings this week. They were wrong, I guess.

photo_update_10805_002

Gauge Wizard

I have finally started a new knitting project! For my next trick, I will knit Rogue. I bought the yarn for this several months ago, and it has been aging like fine wine in my stash until now. It is from Beaverslide Dry Goods, a small ranch in Montana that raises and shears Rambouillet sheep. The colors are every bit as lovely as portrayed on their web site, and the yarn is lofty, sheepy, wonderful stuff.

I got gauge on the first try, a feat that excites me to no end. Those of you who have knit this sweater know that it is knit partly in the round, and partly back and forth, making for some interesting gauge problems. I have finally come to the conclusion (after a long period of obstinance) that knitting a gauge swatch really does eliminate at least some of the fitting headaches that go along with knitting sweaters.

Just for the record, I am using Denise circular needles, and I got gauge with a size 7, both in the round and flat. I would not have believed that my gauge was the same for both styles if I hadn’t tried. It was a tiny bit off just off the needles, but settled into the perfect stitch and row gauge once dunked in water…this yarn blooms like crazy. At first I thought the fabric would be a little board-like at the necessary gauge, but again, after a bath it is just perfect.

I’m using the fisherman weight, in the color Snowberry. Here are some photos. I didn’t want to knit two separate swatches, so first did several inches flat, then switched to in-the-round on the same needles. Instead of turning the work at the end of the row, I just pushed the whole thing back, like doing I-cord, and started the next row as if to knit in the round. I think this is an Elizabeth Zimmerman technique, though I don’t have any of her books so am not 100% sure of that one.

The finished swatch:

photo_update_10605_003

Mess o’ yarn in the back:

photo_update_10605_004

Yarn ends cut so the thing stays flat to measure:

photo_update_10605_005

And swished in water and suds for wet blocking:

photo_update_10605_006

I am a bit intimidated by this project, as it is easily the most difficult thing that I have tackled so far, but determined to forge ahead.

For those of you keeping track, I haven’t actually finished the purple thing. The knitting and sewing are all done except for the buttons. It is washed and drying, with more pins in that lace border than I can count. Once it is dry I’ll sew the buttons on and get a modeling photo. A couple of people asked about the buttons in the comments from yesterday. Yes, they are from Black Water Abbey, another place with divine yarn (yes, I have some of that stewing in the stash also). I know exactly what it’s going to be, too, but I’m not telling just yet.

There are a couple of new buttons on the sidebar to the left. First is a link to the Knit One Read Too member ring, for those of us who have joined that project. This is the brainchild of Cara from January One. If you are interested check out her post here.

The second is a button I grabbed from the Yarn Harlot’s blog, to celebrate the unbelievable $22,843 donated to Doctors Without Borders so far, inspired by her January 3rd post. Here’s the button:

tsfb_1

King Cole Shawl

The yarn is King Cole Luxury Mohair, in the color “Roma”. The pattern is just plain garter stitch. I started at the point with 3 stitches, and increased at the beginning of every row until it got as big as I wanted it.

photo_update_10405_015

Corps of Discovery Hat

photo_update_10405_005_1

photo_update_10405_006

Finished approximately in January, I think. I forgot to enter this earlier. The yarn and pattern are from here. This was fun to knit, and I plan on making at least another one for me. Doesn’t he look a little like an explorer here?

2004 Roundup

Before I get to the Roundup, however, check out the Yarn Harlot. Her post from yesterday articulated what I think a lot of us feel. But $10,879 in less than 24 hours?? This is an amazing, lovely thing. I sent my entire family and several friends an email that challenged them to give up their “wants” as well for the next week and donate the money to Doctors Without Borders, and referred them to Stephanie for inspiration and prodding. She said it much better than I can.

2004 was a good year on the knitting front for me. The best thing I did was to start a blog. After a few posts of “see what yarn I bought today”, I quickly realized that I better start knitting or nobody would come back to see what I was up to. This is not to say that I have quit shopping (I have not totally lost my mind), but the blog has kept me working on projects instead of letting them languish forever.  It also makes me rip stuff out and do it better so I don’t have to show pictures of total crap.

Here is a list of what I finished this year:

An Aran baby blanket for John’s grandson Sam, AKA “cutest baby in the world”.

A vintage style matinee coat for my great niece, also born this year.

John’s sweater. I may be most proud of this one, as it took me the longest to finish.

The fizzy orange creamsicle scarf.

That damned ice blue sweater.

A goofball bucket hat.

The Audrey sweater.

Montego Bay socks.

Eggplant Hat.

I found a few more projects that I finished early on this year that I never put in the gallery until now.

I knit a hat for John.

And a simple shawl for me.

Now that I have it all in one place, it looks like a lot more knitting than I really thought I had done. One of my goals this year is to use up some of my yarn stash. I have a huge collection of sock yarn, as well as bags of yarn purchased to complete at least five or six sweaters. OK, maybe more. I would like to practice some of the finishing techniques so that my sweaters turn out looking a little more professionally done, and less like I drank a fifth of bourbon while sailing through the buttonbands.

And speaking of buttonbands, I am nearly done with the lavender sweater. I have finished the collar and the buttonband, and am in the middle of the buttonhole band. Then it will get the pee-wadding blocked out of it and be ready to wear.

Here you go:

photo_update_10405_009

photo_update_10405_012_1

And here is what the buttons look like. Of course, they won’t all be crowded up at the top of the sweater like that.

I am still working on the Birch shawl, though somewhat sporadically. And a pair of striped socks. Once I finish this sweater, I’ll show pictures of my progress on those two. I’m getting a terrible urge to start a new project as well, so I better finish this one soon!

Donate

Go here, donate to the Red Cross now.  Death count as of this morning is 67,000. if you don’t like the Red Cross, donate to another relief organization of your choice. Those of us with blogs, computers, internet access, and electricity are unbelievably fortunate.

Solstice Party

The light is coming back!  Even though I can’t actually detect a difference, I KNOW that the days are getting longer from here on out.  To celebrate the event, we had a neighborhood Solstice party at our house last night.  It was a sit down dinner for a dozen good friends, and if the number of empty wine bottles on the counter this morning is any indication, a good time was had by all.

We had to rearrange our dining room a little to accommodate everybody.  Here is the table before we sat down.  John and I went to Pier One earlier this week and bought every red, green, and white candle they had.  And yes, we had the fire extinguisher handy last night just in case.

photo_update_122104_008

We had a cheese and pate selection for before-dinner munchies, along with champagne and numerous bottles of wine.  Dinner was a huge standing rib roast.  It wouldn’t fit into my oven, so we cut it into two pieces and roasted it in two ovens.  We had a wintery root crop side dish as well as a red beet/white beet combo.  Mashed potatoes with gravy and steamed green beans completed the dinner.

For dessert we had a trifle:

photo_update_122104_022

photo_update_122104_025

And a few more pictures from after dinner:

photo_update_122104_049

photo_update_122104_081

Here’s Riley saying goodbye to everyone:

photo_update_122104_088

We put all the food away and stuffed the dishwasher full of as many dishes as would fit before we went to bed.  Here is what the scene still looks like this morning:

photo_update_122104_092

photo_update_122104_093

Clearly the kitchen gnome forgot to stop here during the night.  I’m hiding in the basement until somebody cleans that mess up.

For those who love dessert, here is my trifle recipe.  I had never written this down before this morning, so the amounts are flexible.  You might want to overestimate a bit, in case I underestimated!

Lorette’s English Trifle

1 large clear glass bowl

Sara Lee frozen pound cake, 2 of them.  I actually only used about half of the second cake.

Whipped cream, I used about a quart of whipping cream, whipped with a bit of sugar and vanilla.

Vanilla pudding…NOT INSTANT, it will separate out in the trifle unless you eat it right away. I used 2 large packages of Jello brand pudding.  Make this the day before so it can chill.

Fruit.  I used frozen fruit in big bags that our local market carries. Thaw it out, and spread out on paper towels on cookie sheets to absorb some of the moisture.  In season you can use fresh fruit. Peaches, blueberries, raspberries went into this one, along with kiwis for decoration.  A big trifle like this one used a dozen or so kiwis, peeled and thinly sliced.  I probably used 3 or four cups of sliced peaches, roughly the same amounts of the berries.  Use more or less as you prefer.

Seedless raspberry jam.  I used about a quarter to a third of an 8 oz. jar.

Sherry.  Doesn’t have to be really expensive, but make sure it is not cooking sherry, use something you would actually drink.

Slice cake into about half inch slices, then cut these in half or thirds and line the bottom of the bowl.  Spread a thin layer of jam on the cake pieces.  After trying various utensils to do this, I decided that just using my fingers to spread it around works best.
Sprinkle with a bit of sherry…I used about 2-3 tablespoons per cake layer, maybe more, maybe less.
Stand your kiwi slices on end around the side of the bowl.  See picture.

The idea is that you see the layers of kiwi slices through the glass, so you have to be a little fussy about placement.  Putting the kiwi in place before you plop on the other layers keeps it all neater.
Layer fruit next, then a layer of pudding, then a layer of whipped cream.
Now do another repeat of the same layers…cake, sherry, jam, kiwi, fruit, pudding, whipped cream.  Depending on the size of your bowl you might get a third repeat, but my bowl holds 2 sets.

On top of the last layer of whipped cream, arrange fruit slices in a decorative pattern.

Chill for at least 2 hours, then serve.  You can make this earlier in the day as well.  If you make it the day before, things get a little soggy, and the whipped cream doesn’t hold up as well.

You can vary this by using different fruit, different jam, flavor your cream, etc. I’ve seen variations that use chocolate cake, chocolate pudding, etc.  If you’re not feeding the whole neighborhood, obviously you can cut this back and do it in a smaller bowl.  The leftovers are great for breakfast, though, and people will eat more of this than you think.  Even after devouring about twelve pounds of prime rib, we ate two-thirds of this bowl last night.

If you were Martha, you would make your pudding from scratch instead of a mix, and would make real pound cake yourself instead of buying it.  It’s good even with the shortcuts, though. There were grown people standing around the bowl just digging in with spoons by the end of the party.