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??

What’s On Your Refrigerator??

I am STILL working on the Audrey sleeves.  Go back a few posts; it looks just like the other one.  Not very exciting, I realize.  I actually don’t experience the “dreaded second sleeve” syndrome.  I’ve found that I’m quite capable of screwing up knitting exactly the same thing twice.  This keeps me alert and interested.  The same thing happens with socks.   Between my aging memory, my slow knitting speed, and my tendency not to keep track of changes I’ve made in the pattern along the way, the second one of the pair is like a new knitting project.

We were in the kitchen cooking dinner just a minute ago.  We are making a great French beef stew that is stewing, as we speak.  This involved flaming the beef in the saute pan with cognac.  Let me tell you, you just should not do this after a glass or two of wine.  I could market this as a way to get rid of facial hair.  I haven’t actually checked to see if I have eyebrows left.

Anyway, I was thinking that my refrigerator door surely must be unique.  I’m posting a few pictures in hopes that this will inspire the rest of you to do the same.  If you are of the Republican persuasion, you might as well just not look; this might annoy you more than it’s worth.

Here is a shot of the whole frig:

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And a close-up of one corner; what can I say, my family knows me well:

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And my favorite section:

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What’s on your refrigerator??

Weekend Knitting

Here’s what I did most of the weekend:

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And Willie’s main activity:

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He likes to sleep in Riley’s crate. Sometimes he even sleeps in there when Riley is in the crate.

I finished the second sleeve on the “Audrey” sweater.

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This went relatively smoothly, after I screwed up the first row after the cast-on about 4 times and had to start over.  Don’t even ask how one screws up the first row of a pattern 4 different times. Here is a close up of the sleeve cap decreases.

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Here is my “gadget” photo of the day:

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Somehow I ended up with an extra music stand in my house.  This one got put to work as a pattern stand.

I started the second “Audrey” sleeve today.  Now that I have figured out where to do the increases and decreases, this one should go fairly quickly.  (I know, I know; that’s tempting the knitting gods again.)

A nice little package arrived in the mail today as well, from here.

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This is Phildar Aviso, a cotton/acrylic blend that is just as soft as the Rowan Calmer.  I had trouble getting this red to photograph correctly; the true color is a crayon/lipstick red, and not as orange-y as in the photo.  I finally broke down and ordered this to make the “Kate” sweater from Phildar Famille Spring 2004.  Here is a photo from the Kate Along blog.

I’m not too sure when I will do this.  I want to do one more lightweight sweater before winter gets here, then start on the Rogue sweater as my main winter project.  How to choose, how to choose??  I think this calls for a glass of wine to aid in the decision making process!

Ah, Summer!

I finished the front of Audrey this week, and am madly at work on the first sleeve.  Here are pictures to prove it:

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That’s the sleeve.  It took me a while to wrap my brain around the directions to do the sleeve increases while maintaining the rib pattern.  Basically the pattern just says to do this, not HOW to do this.  One would think that this would not be difficult, but it took me a bit to figure this out.  I’ve never done increases with a rib pattern before; so far it looks like it is working.  The little pins are the way I mark my increases.  I start with a chain of pins for however many increases I need to do.  Every time I do an increase, I transfer one of the pins to mark it.  When the pins are gone, I’ve done all the increases that the pattern calls for.

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That’s the front and back.

We went to a Rainiers’ game this week again.  This time I remembered the camera, unfortunately BOTH batteries were dead.  I did manage to get a couple of pictures before the second one died altogether.

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Here is a terrible picture of me knitting.  John mostly didn’t get the knitting in the photo.  He did however manage to get a dozen of the thousands of small screaming children that were there from summer camp programs.  Total attendance at the game was about 6000; I’m pretty sure that most of them were under 10.  6000 10-year olds sounds more like 30,000.

Here’s an action shot:

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And the mascot, Rhubarb:

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The home team won, it was a beautiful sunny day, and I had my knitting along.  What could be better?  We have tickets for tonight’s game also, there is a big fireworks display after the game.  Ah, summer!

Hotlink Hussy?? I hope not…

There have been several knit bloggers writing about blog etiquette lately.  The latest hot topic has been hotlinking.  This involves putting other bloggers’ photos on your blog, but linking to them from their server so it uses their bandwidth rather than yours.  Expropriating someone else’s photos is at best unintentional theft, but linking to them on their server is bandwidth theft.  This can cost unsuspecting bloggers lots of dollars, apparently.

Kerstin of At My Knits End describes this much more coherently than I can.  Read her post from yesterday to find out more about this.  She has links to several other websites that discuss this as well.

Now, I am not an expert knitter by any means.  But my computer skills make my knitting look it was done by a master knitter.  I have gone through my entire blog site, page by page, and I think I am innocent of most blog crimes (except maybe silly posts and dumb pictures).  If any of you think you have been hotlinked by me, rest assured it was only because I am a computer idiot; let me know and I will fix it.

No knitting progress to report today; tomorrow is Friday for me…and it has cooled off here so knitting doesn’t seem like such a bizarre activity!

Knitting Hubris

Oh, I was being cocky.  The back of Audrey went so well.  I started the cast-on, went right on to the cast-off at the neck without ripping once.  I did those increase and decrease darts without a hitch.  Hah, I said.  The rest of this one will be easy, I said.  I can have it done in a week, so when the weather is no longer 97 freaking degrees outside, I can wear it.

I have ripped the front of this sucker more than once.  I am not going to put it into writing how many places I have had to go back.  First the decreases looked like crap.  Then it was those increase darts.  I got to the armhole shaping and thought, well I have this one whipped; I had no trouble with this on the other half.

Somehow I got off a stitch on the shaping.  It wasn’t looking right, but I thought, you know, it took a few rows on the back before it all started to look right.  So I forged ahead, knitting more rows.  I looked at it last night, counted, counted again.  Then I said a lot of really bad words that would probably get me “googled” from some  decidedly juicy non-knitting sites if I repeated them here.  And ripped.  I am partway into the armhole shaping section and so far so good.  But I’m not saying nothin’ from now on till this front piece is done.

The good thing is that this yarn is just wonderful to knit with.  I’ve said that before, haven’t I?  Why can’t yarn that costs only $3 a ball be this soft??

No pictures today, I’m not tempting fate.

Ikea, The New Knitting Store

I made my first foray out to the local Ikea store over the weekend.  What an adventure!  That place is just amazing;  I won’t even go into the Swedish meatballs in their cafe.  I made one knitting-related purchase.  For some time now, my stash has over-run the storage containers I have.  Mostly these are a variety of Rubbermaid-style boxes in different sizes and shapes.  Then there were the shipping boxes from several months of online shopping.

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Those are the empty boxes that I finally threw out after I bought these cuties at Ikea:

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Aren’t those just adorable?  They have lids, they stack, and you can buy casters for the bottom one so you can roll the whole thing around.  Please note the other storage thingie off to the side, full of yarn also; and the yarn in a bag sitting on the top.  That’s the Beaverslide yarn intended eventually for Rogue.

And here is a shot of another storage solution I found at Target some time back:

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And a wicker basket full of a variety of things:

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There is just no way I am crawling under the bed to take a picture of the three plastic storage boxes in hiding there.  I call that the Yarn Protection Program.

As you can see, I am well-prepared for when the Big Earthquake hits the Pacific Northwest.  I can pack all this into the car with a couple of gallons of water, and head for high ground.  The yarn shops could be closed for years, and I wouldn’t run out of knitting projects.  Well, OK, I would need an RV to pack all of this anywhere; it’s really sort of a rhetorical discussion.

I am still working on the front of Audrey; I’m into the armhole shaping.  Work is getting in the way of knitting this week.  I have a man cooking my dinner tonight so will get a little knitting done while the pork roast is cooking on the barbecue spit.  Now, what kind of wine goes with barbecued pork roast??
(That’s actually also a rhetorical question; the answer is “whatever bottle you have handy”.)