Go here…..

Folk Alley. I’ve mentioned it before, and will mention it again. Rachael led me to this internet radio station a few weeks ago, and there has been little else playing on our stereo since. We have our computer hooked up to our home stereo so we can get streaming internet radio with great sound. That, and the speakers we wired in to the upstairs of the house means we can listen to great music night and day if we want.

Anyway, this is 24-hour commercial-free radio, with a great announcer who tells you about all the songs. Not too much talk, just enough so you know what you are listening to. It’s a great mix of traditional folk, Americana, world music, bluegrass, and stuff I just can’t pigeonhole. And it’s all FREE!

As you know however, nothing great is really free. Somebody has to pay for it. In this case it’s mostly the listeners who volunteer to send money in. Go listen, and if you like it, send them money so they stay on the air.

They don’t pay me to write this, really!

Yee-haa, we’re going to listen to Leon Russell tonight! He’s playing at Jazzbones in Tacoma, and I didn’t find out till I figured tickets were long gone. I called and they are saving a bunch of tickets to sell at the door, so we’re going to line up in the rain soon.

I worked on that purple sweater today. Looks the same, just bigger! We spent part of the day taking a bird watching walk in the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge today, then a nap to prepare for a late night out. So not much knitting done.

Eggplant Hat

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Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran

Pattern: Kid’s Fruit Cap, by Ann Norling

Started: September 16th, 2004

Finished: same. Yes, you can make one of these easily in a day.

These are fun to make, and kids seem to like hats in the shape of fruits and vegetables. The Cashmerino Aran is a bit heavier gauge yarn than the pattern calls for. I made the medium size, and it fit a 2 1/2 year old girl just right.

You Can Do It At a Trot,

You can do it at a gallop.  You can do it real slow so your heart don’t palpitate.  Just don’t be late, do the Puyallup.

Yes ma’am, we went to the Puyallup State Fair this year; complete with three small children in tow.  For those of you not fortunate enough to live in this heaven we call Western Washington, Puyallup is pronounced “pew-al-up”, sort of rhymes with gallop.  This and other unusual place names is how we tell locals from out-of-staters.  Sequim is another good test;  locals know to say “squim”, the furriners say “see-quim”.   Some people mistakenly think we keep these unusual names to honor our local native people.  Wrong, so wrong.   We do it so we know who the visitors are.

If you live around here, every year in mid-September that silly song runs through your head non-stop.  And you just have to go.  There are cows, chickens, rides, deep-fried Twinkies (really!).  There are more varieties of fancy pigeons than you would ever believe.  There are 4-H girls and boys showing their horses and pigs.  I had a whole conversation with some very cute noisy geese with huge orange bills.  I forget what variety they were.  The only sheep I saw were in the children’s petting barn; I think the main sheep showing events are next week (yes, the fair goes on for weeks).

We ate, we petted, we admired, we saw the lady doing cowgirl rope tricks.  Any other time of year this would have been unbelievably corny.  I spent serious time in the craft pavilion admiring the many lovely quilts and knitted items.  And watched the end of the fastest fingers contest.  There were about ten women entered; they each got a ball of yarn and a crochet hook, and were timed to see who could crochet the fastest.  Here are a few of the knitted things:

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I dared John’s son George to ride the Extreme Scream with me.  I would have one piece of advice:  pee before you try this.  You get shot straight up in the air at about a million miles an hour, then dropped like a rock.

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I don’t look nearly as terrified in this picture as I really was.

As this is a KNITTING blog, here is another finished project.  I have had the yarn and pattern to make fruit hats for John’s grandchildren for a long time.  While we were hanging out here this week, I started and finished an eggplant hat for Penelope.  It started out as a blackberry hat, but the little bobbley things were just looking too weird for me.  The yarn is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran.

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Yes, that’s me in those fashionable slippers and robe behind her.  We were all still in our jammies waiting for pancakes when I took these pictures.  More pictures here.

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If you haven’t already checked this out, sign up for Bloglines.  It saves a ton of time if you surf through a bunch of blogs every day.  Kerstin and Wendy led me to this one.  That little sign-up button in the upper left of the page will subscribe you to my blog and let you know when I’ve updated.  Cool, huh?

Audrey Sweater

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Yarn: Rowan Calmer, in Flamingo

Pattern: “Audrey”, from Rowan Magazine 35 (Spring/Summer issue)

Started July 2004
Finished August 2004

What I learned from this one: I learned about shaping with darts, and how to make matching increases so they look reasonably neat. I also learned how to make a lace neck band to sew on after it is knit.

New Pictures

This past week has gotten away from me.  It was a hectic week at work, and this week we have a house full of family, with my husband’s two children and their families here for vacation.   Between them they have three children under the age of three (seven months, one year, and two and a half).  We all packed up and went to the state fair yesterday, which was an all day experience.  I have some pictures from the craft pavilion that I might get around to posting later on.  At any rate, I haven’t gotten much knitting done.  Penelope, the oldest grandchild, is fascinated by knitting, and at the “why” age.  Why are you knitting a sock?  What are you doing with that yarn?

The sock in question is this:

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The yarn is Rodel Sport & Strumpf Wolle, which I bought in Germany when we were there earlier this year.  I was going to do the Cloverleaf Rib sock pattern, with that insanely fine gauge stuff I posted about last time.  After about three starts and three frogs, I threw in the towel.  I just don’t need this kind of stress at the moment.  I’ve always wanted to learn to make toe-up socks, so decided that this was the time to learn.  Starting was much easier than I anticipated:  I did a crochet provisional cast on, then the paired increases were done in no time.  My husband has already laid claim to these socks.

The lavender lace cardigan has seen a little progress:

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That’s the back of the sweater.  Now it will be plain stockinette up to the armhole decreases.

I will post an update to my finished project page today as well, with the Audrey sweater and the Montego Bay socks.  Everybody is taking a nap at the moment (no small miracle with three children!), so I might get a little knitting done as well!

New Projects

Half the fun of finishing old projects is that you can start new projects without guilt.  Not that I have much guilt about knitting; there is enough obsessive-compulsiveness in my work life that I just let it rip when it comes to my “fun” time.  I digress; it’s probably that after-work bourbon again.

Anyway, I spend the last few finishing days of a project dreaming about what I will knit next.  I do try not to have more than three or four projects going at once.  I am a relatively slow knitter anyway, and it makes me too anxious when I am not making any perceived progress on something because I have fifteen different things started.  Three seems to be the ideal number for me.  I know knitters who freak out if they don’t finish one thing before starting another, and others who have dozens of things going at once, and seem perfectly content with that!  I have decided that for me it is perfect to have one “big” project (defined this month as a sweater), and one “little” project (defined as a hat or a scarf/shawl), and a pair of socks for the third project.  These definitions may well change by October, so don’t hold me to it.

The “little” project at the moment is the Birch shawl.  I plan to do another couple of repeats this week and get a picture for you.  It’s starting to look somewhat attractive, even if it is only an inch wide.

The “sock” project is still up in the air.  I joined the Six Sox Knitalong some time back, and have yet to start one pair.  The first pattern was of course due to be completed last month, but I hate deadlines, so purposely planned to start late.  (If you believe that lame dog-ate-my-homework excuse, we need to talk.)  The first pattern of the six is a lacy one called Cloverleaf Rib.  I decided to make it in some stash yarn.

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That color is just so wrong.  In reality it is a cloverleaf/kelly green.  I could not get it to photograph accurately.  The yarn is from Ozyarn, a company from Australia.  They don’t seem to have this on their site anymore, but it is a very light fingering weight mohair/wool blend.  Their needles are great too, by the way.  I started these the other night, but got very frustrated after the first row.  Mohairy, almost lace weight yarn on US 0 double points was something I was just not in the mood for at the time.  I’ll start these again later this week when I have a bit of time, before I give up on this yarn.

The “big” project is a sweater.  I was planning on doing the Eyelet Cardi from Chicknits, and still will, but the yarn I picked just turned into another pattern.  I have the Sweater Wizard software and really just needed to use it to make an adult sweater.  I’ve done a baby sweater using it, and the software really does generate very easy to use patterns.  The web site is here, if you are interested.

The yarn I am using is Sonata cotton in a medium lavender that I got at Elann earlier this summer.  It will be a crew neck style cardigan, button up, and very plain with the exception of a lace border at the bottom and at the cuffs.  Here is my pattern/gauge swatch:

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And with this photo, you can sort of squint and imagine what the sleeve will look like:

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I’ve finished the lace border on the back piece and am a couple of inches into the stockinette portion.  This should be good mindless knitting except for the borders.  This ought to be a great sweater to dress up jeans, or go with a skirt as a more dressy outfit.  Yee-ha!  I love knitting!

Shopping Cart

I’ve done a little knitting-related shopping in the last few weeks, and thought I would summarize it all here for you to drool over.
First is the gadget and tools category:

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These are bamboo needles from S R Kertzer, ordered from Handknitting.com.

After I received these and took them for a test drive, I went back and ordered more.  They come in 16″ lengths, which are sometimes very hard to find.

Here’s a heap of good stuff:

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The little tool that looks like a dental tool is called just that.  It has a tiny crochet hook on one end, and a pointy end on the other for picking out little knots.

And pins:

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These have glass heads, so you can steam over them when blocking without melting them.  What will they think of next?

And a variety of stitch holders.

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And yes, those are crumbs on my dining room table.  You want me to knit AND clean??

Then there was the little foray to Barnes & Noble yesterday.  I came home with four books:

Knitting on the Edge, by Nicky Epstein
1000 Great Knitting Motifs, by Luise Roberts
The Knitters Handy Book of Sweater Patterns, by Ann Budd
Color Works, the Crafter’s Guide to Color, by Deb Menz

Where do I shop?  Well, mostly online, though my neighorhood B&N actually has a pretty good knitting book selection.  Other than Handknitting.com, I found these goodies at Angelika’s and Patternworks.  If you’re looking to buy knitting books online, Needle Arts Book Shop has the best selection, hands down.

I’m starting two new projects, and still working on the Birch Lace shawl.  I’ve done a couple of repeats of the pattern and it is starting to look more like a shawl and less like a big red fuzz ball.  My next post will have details and pictures.  I know you can hardly wait!

Vacation, and Finished Projects

Our vacation to Nevada definitely exceeded expectations!  We stayed at Walley’s Hot Springs in Genoa, which is close to Carson City.  It is in the high mountain desert, so though warm in the daytime, it was quite cool at night.  We also had a full moon while we were there, which added to the beauty of the place.   Of course we took lots of pictures, some knitting related.

Here is the view from the balcony of our condo:

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This family provided our nightly entertainment (click to make it easier to see them!):

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Walley’s was built in the 1860’s or so.  It has a spa with several natural mineral pools.

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We did day trips to Tahoe, Virginia City, and a long bus tour of Yosemite.  We also spent a couple of days just hanging out by the pools.

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We took a trip on Lake Tahoe on a paddleboat, the M.S. Dixie.  Here I am waiting for the boat:

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And on the boat:

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Then there was the quality time on the balcony at the end of the day, with cocktails and knitting:

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I finished this:

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If I look like I had a few in that picture, I probably did.  The photographer was probably also inebriated.  I’ll try to get a better picture this week.

I also finished these:

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Details of these two projects will be on my Finished Projects page when I get a little more time to post.

The only yarn shopping opportunity came while on the bus tour of Yosemite.  On the ride home, we stopped at a Mobil gas station for fuel and food.  Along with the usual things you might find in a gas station convenience store, there was this wall of yarn:

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I didn’t buy anything, though I was tempted to do so just so I could say that I bought yarn at a gas station.  The two girls at the checkout counter were learning to knit, and graciously allowed me to photograph them:

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I’ll have updates on the new things that I am starting in my next post!

Last Post….

Until I get back from vacation, that is.  We will be gone a week, so I’ll be knitting away, but not blogging away.  We’re going to a hot springs resort in Nevada for a week.  Only my husband would arrange a vacation in August in Nevada, at a hot springs.  It actually does get cool at night there, so it should be pleasant.  And it beats the heck out of working for a living.

I got the pieces for Audrey put together:

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I’m not quite halfway done with the lace neckband.  I’m taking that and my socks on the plane tomorrow.  I should finish this sweater while I’m gone.

I have decided that I will start one more summery project before I get started on the Rogue sweater.  I just can’t get into a heavy worsted weight sweater with cables and a hood in August!  My next sweater project will be an Eyelet Cardi; pattern by Bonne Marie of ChicKnits.  I have a stash of Elann Sonata cotton yarn in a nice lavender color that should be quite girlie when it’s done.  You can find the pattern on her “Patterns” page, of all places.

Don’t have too much fun without me; I’ll be back in a week!

Ahhhh, Lace!

But first, the Lucy report.  She seems to be fine.  I’m thinking she got into something outside and ate something she shouldn’t have.  There are such a host of plants and chemicals that can make pets sick.  We quit using slug bait because it can be so toxic to pets, and dogs especially love to eat it.  That doesn’t guarantee that the next door neighbor isn’t using something like this in their yard.
At any rate she is back to her usual self.  I was going to say “normal” self, but just exactly what is “normal” when you are referring to a cat?  It took me about half an hour this morning to get a remotely decent picture of her.

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“No, I said no pictures!”

Finally I got a decent shot:

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“Aren’t I the prettiest cat you’ve ever seen?”

Riley said, “Not to worry.  I eat stuff all the time; she’ll get over it.”

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And now, the knitting report.  I made a little progress on the Waffle Socks.   For those of you that are not keeping up, I am finished with the first of this pair.  I finished the heel flap and turned the heel last night.  I love turning heels; it just seems like magic to me to take flat knitting and make a curved surface out of it.  If any of you have heels you want me to turn, send them this way. (I like grafting toes too;  I know, it’s a sickness.) I also got the gusset stitches picked up and am ready to rock on the foot.

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Sorry that’s a little fuzzy; damn sock must have moved while I was taking the picture.

Last but not least, the lace neck piece for the Audrey sweater.  This is just so addictive!  The pattern looks like it might be complicated, but it is really easy to knit.

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I started out using a lifeline with every pattern repeat.  I might quit doing this, as it is easier than I thought it would be to keep track.  For the record, I left them all in so you could see.  Click on the picture to make it bigger so you can see them.  I am using dental floss for this; at the end of each 12 row repeat, I just thread a length of floss through the stitches on the needles.  If I screw up badly, I just rip back to the flossed row and put it on the needle, and I have a starting place where I know exactly what row I am on.  OK, maybe I won’t quit doing this.  It does seem like tempting fate.

So now when my dental hygienist asks if I’m flossing, I can answer truthfully, “YES!”.

By the way, Lucy says “Thanks!” for all the get-well wishes.  MEOW!

Progress on Audrey

This has been one hell of a couple of weeks; of the last 20 days, I have worked 16 of them; mostly long, late days.  It makes me cranky when I don’t have time to do anything but work, eat, and sleep.  Not much knitting progress in the last 2 weeks, but I have finished the major pieces of the Audrey sweater.  I finished the second sleeve last night and just have a few ends to weave in.  I just got home from work tonight, so though I would love to start that lace border, it would make for a very unpleasant day tomorrow if I stay up till all hours knitting.

I’m blocking the pieces before I sew them together.  Somehow the front and back are just a tad bit off as far as measurements.  They are the same row count, one is just a bit tighter gauge, I think.  Weird.  It’s enough to bug me a bit, but not enough to even contemplate re-knitting one piece.  I’m hoping blocking will make them closer to the same dimensions.  I’ll wait to take new pictures till I can do it in the daylight.

I have a sick kitty…Lucy has been acting very weird the last few days.  Normally she is a big lovable chicken and does not go outside much.  If she does go out, it’s while we are on the deck, and she stays very close.  2 or 3 nights ago she was out and gone for the longest time.  We went scouting around the neighborhood but couldn’t find her.  Finally about 10PM she came tearing in the cat door like her tail was on fire and an alien was after her.  She has been acting strange since; not eating, hiding in the closet, growling at us when we try to get her to come out.  She finally today is starting to come out of it; she ate tonight and drank some milk, and is purring, though now she is hiding out in the pantry.  I’m almost thinking she might have eaten something poisonous that made her hallucinate or something.  Either that, or the eagles tried to get her and it scared the hell out of her. We talked to a vet friend on the phone and if she is not completely better tomorrow she is off for an appointment so a real doctor can look at her.  Think “well kitty” wishes for her.

I promise some knitting progress pictures soon!

Ack, Lace!

I started the Birch shawl, from Rowan #34.  I cast on 272 stitches last night before bed, before I just plain gave up for the evening.  I started the thing on an ebony circular needle:  bad mistake.  Don’t try to knit fine lace-weight yarn the color of old bordeaux on a black needle.  Switched to my Denise needles, and things went better.

I finished the rest of the 299 cast on stitches this morning after a couple of cups of industrial-strength coffee.  Then I counted, and re-counted, and counted again.  This hairy stuff just does not rip out; I did not want to get to the end of the first row and realize that I was a few stitches off.  Here is the thing after casting on; it looks like a hairy caterpillar.

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And after a couple of rows:

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It doesn’t look like much yet, does it?

I’m counting on suggestions by Ann of Mason-Dixon Knitting, posted on her blog after she completed this last fall.  She has a link to a nice chart as well that should make this a bit easier.  This is definitely not going to be the kind of project you do while engrossed in an interesting movie.  Or while drinking large quantities of alcohol.  Though it might drive me to drink; on that note I will leave you with the Drink of the Week recipe.

Brazen Hussy

Ice cubes
2 oz. vodka
2 oz. Triple Sec or Cointreau
1/2 oz. lemon juice

Shake in a cocktail shaker, strain into a cocktail glass.

As always, enjoy in moderation!

Project Round-Up

I thought it was time to update where I am on my projects.  I have 3 things going at once.  I would probably have fifteen things going at once if I didn’t arbitrarily decide to limit myself to 3.  This may not sound very Bad-Ass, but it’s my blog, I can do what I want.

First there is the pair of socks that is taking forever.  I have yarn for about another 50 pairs of socks waiting once I finish this pair.

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This is Sheep’s Gift, in Montego Bay, from Joslyn’s Fiber Farm.  The pattern is the Blueberry Waffle sock pattern, from here.

I don’t mean it to sound like I am sick of these.  It’s just hard to get excited by wool socks in August.  I’ll change my tune in January.

Next is Audrey:

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This is Rowan Calmer, the pattern is “Audrey”, from this summer’s Rowan magazine.  I’m workin’ on it, OK?

Then there is (was) this:

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You can clearly see that this is done.  This is the Bottom’s Up Bucket Hat, by Bonne Marie of ChicKnits.  You’ll find the pattern for sale on her “Patterns” page.  The yarn is Schachenmayr Rainbow, from Elann.

If you can count, you realize that this leaves me with only 2 projects on the needles.  I have not completely decided, but I think this will be next:

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This is “Birch”, a shawl pattern from Rowan #34.  That picture does not even come close to the yarn color.  I gave up after about five photos.  In reality, it is a deep lacquer red.

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I am listening to Folk Alley, recommended by Rachael.  This just rocks.  Well, OK, it’s folk music, but you know what I mean.  If you have streaming audio capability, listen up.  If you don’t, well, which century are you living in??