I Said I Would

So, I mentioned when talking about the 19-year afghan, that I would take a picture of the stocking I knit for M the first year we were together. Well, the Christmas decorations have been hauled in from the garage and have made themselves at home until Epiphany, so I can show you this:

Marie's Stocking

Pattern: Christmas Stocking, designed by my mother for the shop she closed ages ago, A Likely Yarn.
Yarn: Bartlettyarns 2-ply Maine wool in a buncha different colors

I found the kit (she sold kits for her stockings in the store) while raiding her stash for something to work on Christmas eve the first year M and I were together, and I knit the stocking in one day -- yes, I mean really (should I admit that I also crocheted a scarf the same day?).

Two things to note: first, yes, Mom reversed the chart for the candy canes, so they look funny; and second, I didn't notice this until the next year, but the duplicate-stitched "M" is one round lower than all the other letters. I should probably fix that sometime.

The other thing I said I would show off is one of the oldest FOs in my possession, this one NOT knit. I have things that are older: a plaster "scrimshaw" carving I did when I was in elementary school, and some silly kid-made Christmas ornaments, but this is serious work.

Cross-stich Plaque

I made this counted cross-stich plaque for my grandmother in (it says so right on it) 1981. It came back to me when my grandmother moved into an assisted living place a few years ago.

I went through a real phase of obsessive counted cross-stich around that time. I made ornaments (all of which I gave away) and other stuff I'm sure. The last time I did counted cross-stitch was probably 10 or more years ago when I made a large sampler my mother had designed for our family reunion's auction. It nearly killed me, and I haven't picked up a needle that small for more than mending since. Carpal tunnel just makes it impossible to hold a needle that small for very long without serious pain.

And now, just because all my knitting time is still being taken up with secret sample knitting (though one project should have arrived at its destination today -- and it came out quite nice if I do say so myself), some views of Christmas at our house:

The tree -- the lights are on, but I used the flash so you can see the ornaments

A rather eerie view of the tree without the flash

A Christmas village called "Decadence". From left to right: an ice cream parlor, a dance hall, a toy store, a night club, and a candy shoppe. There's also a fire station just out of frame on the left in case of emergency.

Decadence's wholesome neighbor, complete with fisherman's cottage, skating pond, farm, parsonage, and country church on the hill.

The olive wood nativity from the Holy Land which M got as an ordination present. We've added the angels -- do you think we need some more?

Have I Mentioned the Citrus?

I believe I have mentioned (scroll to the bottom) the fresh citrus available here in Tucson. We've had church members bring us oranges, grapefruit (LOTS of grapefruit -- it's amazing how many of our members can't eat them because of medications), something called a limequat (think small, kumquat-sized lemons -- they're great for marmalade), and last week, a small bag of fresh-picked key limes:

Key Limes

Yep, they even have key limes here in Tucson. In fact, key lime trees fit in quite nicely here in the desert because unlike other citrus (and very much like most of our native plants), they have spikes. Go figure.

Anyway, this morning I juiced some limes and made a key lime pie. Now, lest you think this was as easy to do as it was to type, let me show you something:

Key Limes Are Small

This is a key lime with quarters added for perspective (Arizona and Maine, chosen deliberately). Below, a key lime with the only reamer we own:

Key Lime Juicing

So, you get the juicing wasn't quite like juicing a regular lime or a lemon, right? Zesting wasn't a picnic, either, since key limes have a very thin skin much like a kumquat.

So I made a key lime pie, and it's now chilling in the fridge:

Key Lime Pie

And with the leftover egg whites and some of the leftover key limes? I made key lime macaroons:

Key Lime Macaroons

And yes, they're big, because macaroons can be big and still not ruin the diet too badly. The macaroons were simple:
  • beat four egg whites with two tablespoons of key lime juice until they form soft peaks
  • meanwhile, combine two teaspoons of key lime zest with 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • when the eggs form soft peaks, beat the sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, into the eggs until they form stiff peaks
  • fold in 2 2/3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • drop onto parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 325 for 20 minutes
Yum!!!! These I've already tried, and they are delightfully tropical.

Knitting, You Want Knitting?

Okay, knitting.

Red Ribs

Yarn: Lana Grossa Meilenweit Multiringel #5030
Needles: Kollage Yarns Square Double Pointed #2
Pattern: Basic toe-up sock with slip-stitch heel a la Wendy; 4x1 rib on top of foot and leg and 1x1 rib cuff; sewn bind-off

In her last payment package, Susan at Kollage Yarns included a treat:

Square Needles

These are their new square knitting needles, a 24" #7 circular and a set of #2 5" DPs. I used the circular to knit the dishcloths I showed on off my birthday, and I used the DPs to make these socks.

What do I think of the needles? I love them, actually. They are incredibly comfortable to knit with, and the cable on the circular is soooooo soft (softer by far even than KnitPicks), and really has no memory. Bend it, twist it, fold it, crease it -- it's like magic. I am not really a fan of DPs since I discovered magic loop, but I thoroughly enjoyed knitting these socks on the square DPs. I'm thinking about ordering myself a 40" #2 to use for magic loop -- I'm anxious to see that super-soft cable in action.

In other knitting news, I have most of side #2 of the shadow-knit kimono done:

Shadow Knit Kimono

But that's on hold while I power through two secret sample knits. One is a lot of really boring black stockinette, the other is a little more interesting:

Detail of a Mystery

But that's all you can see for now. I don't even have any socks on the needle right now because the endless black stockinette project is portable and knittable anywhere.

And now, if they've made it this far, I just want to say howdy to all the gals in the cataloging/metadata services/get the stuff ready to go on the shelves department at O'Neill Library. Take good care of my buddy.

3 Crocheters + 19 Years = 1 Afghan

3 Crocheters + 19 Years = One Afghan

Many, many years ago (1984), after I was accepted at Mount Holyoke College, my mother decided she would make me an afghan. We found this very interesting pattern (it wasn't all granny squares, though there were some of those -- it had other shapes and stuff, too) and she got the yarn. She started on it, fully expecting that it would adorn my dorm room bed no later than second semester my fresh(wo)man year.

Life happens, you know, and for some reason the afghan got laid aside, then the pattern got lost, and the whole thing fell into the abyss that was my mother's yarn stash (ask my father -- he'll tell you all about it -- the abyss, that is).

Fast forward 19 years (yup, 19 years -- how long has your oldest WIP been marinating?), and I'm shopping Mom's stash for anything to keep my hands busy over Christmas (that reminds me -- when we get all the stuff out, I need to take a picture of the stocking I knit M that year). In a trash bag in the corner are a whole bunch of granny squares and a whole lot of yarn. Hmmmm -- looks familiar. "Mom, do you still have the pattern?" No, pattern's long gone (wonder if I could find it on Rav), but any crocheter can make granny squares, right? So, my fancy interesting afghan, 19 years later, became a plain granny square afghan in colors that aren't my favorite (see #38). I taught M how to make granny squares, and over a holiday trip to Michigan to visit friends (whose dog thought the yarn made a great chew toy), we finished the squares. (We also taught said friend's oldest son how to crochet -- picture it, four adults, all of whom have been crocheting since childhood, totally baffled at how to teach this kid to crochet. Why? He's left-handed, and in crocheting, that really matters.)

So we have this afghan, which lives on the futon in the guest/weaving/yarn room. And I forget from day to day that it exists. But there it is -- one project which took 19+ years and three crocheters to see completion.

Got a better long-in-the-making project story?

3 Crocheters + 19 Years = One Afghan

Happy Birthday to Me!

Definitely not the birthday I wanted or asked for. When asked, nay badgered, by M about what I wanted for my birthday, I could only say "President-Elect Obama". I knew it was a gift she couldn't promise, but it's really all I wanted. I got that, and a little bit more that I didn't want.

Thank you to those who've expressed sympathy here, privately, and on Rav. We're going to get through this ("no matter how many chicken wings it takes," as one of our friends says). We've got a great private support network, and the Southwest Conference and local UCC pastors are providing fantastic support to the congregation and the Church leadership.

To observe my birthday -- and because it's my blog, darnit -- I decided to catalog some of the new experiences (good and bad) that my 43rd year has brought.
  • I lived through my first foliage-less fall (as an adult -- there was that year in FL when I was in 1st grade)
  • I lived through my first snow-less winter (again, as an adult)
  • I went four-wheeling
  • I knit entrelac
  • I bought a major appliance
  • I have a job that's entirely virtual (woohoo!)
  • I got paid real money to knit
  • I ate (and didn't like at all) prickly pear cactus pads (LOVE the fruit)
  • I lived in a Red state (again, those few months in OH -- which this year is blue anyway -- when I was an infant don't count)
  • I stayed up for a significant time AFTER the Super Bowl was over (gotta love that time difference)
  • I didn't change my clocks for daylight saving time
  • Someone I know was murdered
  • Someone I know committed suicide
I could seriously have done without those last two.

And just because life has been a bummer -- and it's my birthday and I want something happy here -- some dishcloths:
A Dishcloth I Can Believe In
Recognize it? It's the Obama campaign logo -- a dishcloth I can believe in

More "believeable" discloths -- these are the ballband dishcloth (modified for my tiny hands) in red, white and blue

Oh, and I don't think I showed off these:
Waving Lace Socks

Pattern: Modified version of the Waving Lace Socks from Favorite Socks. I knit these toe-up and mirrored the lace on the two socks.
Yarn: Lang Jawoll Colors #58.
Needle: KnitPicks Harmony 32" 2.5mm circular

There is knitting happening here at Casa Likelyyarns, but much of it is super-secret sample knitting, so I can't share, yet.

PS -- Page 13 of the Fall 2008 KnitPicks catalog (the one with the Palette sampler bags on back) -- remember this mystery?

In Which Sandy Learns to Hate

Sorry, folks, this one starts out good, but it ends on kind of a downer. But I had to get it off my chest.

This morning I woke up in a world very different from the one I woke up in yesterday morning. It is a world where an African American child now has proof that he or she can grow up to become President. It is a world where we as Americans have once again stood up against the forces of hatred and division, against those who would control us with fear and suspicion, to show the world a way forward. Many have fought, bled and died along the road to this day, and part of me still cannot believe it has happened. Perhaps it was last night that MLK saw when we went to the mountaintop:

It is also, however, a world that is minus one person who, up until yesterday afternoon, I cherished dearly, someone who, in the just-over-a-year I have known him had become a dear friend, even something of a big brother. That all changed yesterday when he took his own life. In the moment we found out, I realized that I have never before felt anger or hate. In the moments since, I have called him every name imaginable, and I admit that most of the tears I have shed have been tears of frustration that I cannot pummel him senseless for what he has done to his wife, his children, his family, his friends, and the church that now has come to grips with why their pastor came to this. Not to mention that I have watched the love of my life beat herself up with guilt over not seeing this coming and not stopping it.

I know that hate and anger will eventually subside, and I will grieve to loss of a cherished friend and the unspoken pain that led him to take such drastic action. I will probably one day even forgive him for what he's done. But right now, I am left to wonder at my unrealized power for hate.

For now and forever my supreme joy at watching a nation, THIS nation, elect a black man president is co-mingled with anger that someone could be so selfish and cowardly.


Speaker Fun

What could possibly be so interesting about a stereo speaker?

Speaker Fun

We had a little bit of excitement here in the desert yesterday. The weather stripping broke away on part of the front security door, and a lizard somehow got under the door (with or without help from the cats we'll never know). All I do know is that when I went out to investigate some strange noises I found the Queen B chasing a lizard around the family room.

Poor little thing probably noticed the hole in the bottom of the speaker and remembered in his scared little primal brain that if you go into a little hole a big predator can't follow -- so he did.

I put the speaker outside for a couple of hours, during which time the lizard found his way out and returned from whence he came -- probably to tell all of his friends to avoid our house at all costs.

Sorry I've been absent from the blog for so long. We were stay-cating. And I promised Mom pictures of our day trips (everyone wish Mom well -- she's having surgery on her hand as I type this), so there will probably be some image-heavy posts coming up. And there's even some knitting to report on.

I didn't take the camera along for our first day trip: apple and other stuff picking at Apple Annie's in Willcox. I did, however, take some pics of the results once we got home.

A whole lot of apples. Granny Smiths mostly 'cuz that's what they had. These aren't the most pretty apples, but they're nice and tart and will (did) make wonderful treats.

Japanese pears. You know, the ones that are a couple of bucks a piece in the store? Well, they're significantly cheaper when you pick them yourself. The smaller apples are golden delicious which we also picked (the red apples are Galas we bought at the store). Some of them were truly tiny:
Tiny Apples

But it wasn't just apples. Oh no, Apple Annie's also has pick-your-own fields of vegetables:

Chili peppers, eggplants, red, green, and yellow bell peppers, tomatoes. The yellow squash and zucchini had already been put in the fridge before I took this picture.

Where is it all now? Much of it has been eaten, but there are a whole lot of veggies in the freezer. We also have some apple cake and apple muffins in the freezer, along with a few pies worth of apples ready to be pulled out and thawed. We made two apple crisps as a treat for a class we're taking and an apple pie for one of M's co-worker's birthdays. Oh, and there's about 2 gallons of apple butter in the freezer (soooo easy to make in the Crock Pot). Phew!

So, that was Sunday and Monday of vacation (Sunday for pickin', Monday for puttin' up). Stay tuned for reports on the rest of the week.

But now for some knitting news. I finished the lace scarf:
Rhea Lace Scarf
Pattern: Rhea Lace Stole by Kirsten Hipsky for Valley Yarns
Yarn: Valley Yarns 2/14 Alpaca Silk Hand-dyed in a test color that isn't in the line
Needle: Addi Turbo #5 32" circular (started on another needle I can't talk about)
Mods: Original pattern is for a stole, but I didn't have a complete hank of the yarn, so I did half the repeats on the end pieces and picked up an appropriately reduced number of stitches for the body.

I really like it. Not exactly sure what's going to happen to it since it's probably a little warm for Tucson, but we'll see.

And remember this:
Well, it's out of hibernation since it's now cool enough to believe that winter will come eventually. I've got about 3" done on the second side.

The List

So, this list has been floating around for a while, so I've decided it's my turn to show my literary ignorance. I have bolded the ones which I have read -- considered italicising the ones I tried really, really hard to read but simply can't (life is too short to read books you're not enjoying and/or learning something from). Ones which I have read and/or re-read as an adult are underlined.

  1. 1984 by George Orwell

  2. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

  3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

  4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

  5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  6. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

  7. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  8. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

  9. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

  10. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

  11. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

  12. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

  13. Ulysses by James Joyce

  14. Animal Farm by George Orwell

  15. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

  16. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

  17. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

  18. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

  19. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

  20. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

  21. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

  22. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

  23. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes

  24. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

  25. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

  26. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

  27. East of Eden by John Steinbeck

  28. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

  29. Life of Pi by Yann Martel

  30. Lord of the Flies by William Golding

  31. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

  32. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

  33. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

  34. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

  35. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

  36. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

  37. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

  38. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

  39. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

  40. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

  41. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

  42. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

  43. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

  44. His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman

  45. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

  46. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

  47. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

  48. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

  49. The Stand by Stephen King

  50. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

  51. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

  52. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy

  53. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

  54. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

  55. Watership Down by Richard Adams

  56. Dracula by Bram Stoker

  57. Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

  58. Moby Dick by Herman Melville

  59. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

  60. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

  61. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

  62. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky

  63. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

  64. Dune by Frank Herbert

  65. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

  66. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling

  67. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

  68. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

  69. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera

  70. Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon

  71. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

  72. The Trial by Franz Kafka

  73. I, Claudius by Robert Graves

  74. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

  75. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

  76. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

  77. A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

  78. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

  79. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

  80. Vanity Fair by William Thackeray

  81. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

  82. The Stranger by Albert Camus (in both English and French)

  83. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

  84. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo

  85. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston LeRoux

  86. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

  87. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

  88. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

  89. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

  90. Persuasion by Jane Austen

  91. Light in August by William Faulkner

  92. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger

  93. Call of the Wild by Jack London

  94. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

  95. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

  96. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe

  97. The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

  98. The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco

  99. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel

  100. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Hmmm, 55 -- more than half the list isn't half bad, right? Guess that makes it only 45% bad.

How did Faulkner rate 3 places on the list?! I can tell you that I will probably never read the two Faulkners that I haven't yet. And there are a couple of other titles here I've tried and simply can't (Lolita, A Confederacy of Dunces and Life of Pi). But do I get extra credit for the one that I read in both French and English?

My takeaway is that I need to read more Russian and American classics (big surprise there -- I was, after all an English major in the purest sense of the word).

So, because Sandy misses being in school so much (though M and I have embarked on the four-year odyssey known as Education for Ministry), she's vowing here, publicly, to be better. Starting with the books on this list which I haven't read or haven't read since high school, then moving on to the books on this list which I haven't read yet. [Just because I was on the committee which put together the list doesn't mean I've read them all.]

So far, I've re-read Brave New World and wondered the whole time: 1) how you can teach/explain a lot of that book to adolescents (I have few memories of the book from my high school days, and here publicly admit I probably never even finished it); and 2) why it's considered such a classic. I mean, the story is an interesting look at an attempt at utopian society and an intriguing morality play, but the language is rather pedestrian, and it really seems to lack any structure or true arc of narrative. Maybe it's just me.

Of course, the next book I picked up to re-read was 1984. The only thing I remember vividly about this book from high school is the rats. Now that I have finished it, I can say that the rats weren't nearly as vivid this time around. No, what's really vivid for me this time around is the fear. I don't want my blog to become a political one (one of the reasons I have not written lately is that all I can think of to write about is politics -- knitting is slow right now, and work is absorbing me), so that's it.

Next, something that doesn't touch that nerve (I've had enough of totalitarianism for now between BNW, 1984 and the Olympics). Don't know what's next -- well, except that I've got to read the creation stories from Genesis for our next EfM class Monday night.

And just cause, y'know, it ain't fair to have all those words without some pictures:
I wish I could be so relaxed.

Really, I'm Not Dead Yet

Oh, so much I wanted to write and show and say, but the time, she just slipped by. At least I HAVE been knitting, and can even show some of it off.

Diamond Lace Anklets

Pattern: Diamond Lace Anklets from Kollage Yarns. Pattern is not available yet as this was a sample knit which turned into a complete re-working of the pattern. Poor Anastasia did NOT think it would be so involved when she sent it.
Yarn: Kollage Yarns Luscious in Magenta, 2 skeins
Mods: Parts of the pattern had to be completely re-written to make the sock come out correctly. Don't know if this was a writing issue or an editing/copying issue. Anyhoo, it seems to work now.

Anastasia originally sent this one to me as a re-knit of the sample to correct some issues with the original. What she didn't know is that somewhere, either in the writing of the pattern or the creation of the commercial version of the pattern, things got a little confused. This might explain the issues with the original sample. Anyway, I found and fixed the errors, and now the pattern should be workable.

And this, folks, is why you test knit patterns.

My Waving Sock

The first of my interpretation of Waving Lace socks is done. You may recall (I know, it's been a while) that I am basically using the lace pattern from the Waving Lace Socks from Favorite Socks, but I'm making it toe-up with a gusset heel, and I'm leaving off the lace pattern at the cuff. I just finished it with a 6x2 rib (following the K/P pattern of the lace), then one row of K1P1 and a sewn bind off (nice and stretchy). Second sock has about half a foot.

The largest knitting project is one I can't share, sorry. I can tell you, however, that it's something I thought I would NEVER knit: a pair of pants. No, not (anyone who knows me would laugh) for me. It's a test/sample knit for another designer. Lots and lots of stockinette in the round with an occassional increase or decrease has made for very good Olympic and politics (one of my favorite spectator sports) knitting. But those are done now (just the elastic to sew into the waistband), and that leaves me with no knitting to do for anyone else.

Can you say, it's time to think about Christmas? There are a couple of things I want to knit/finish for myself. I've pulled the Lace Scarf out of hibernation for when I need a break from all that stockinette on big needles; and I will shortly pull the Kimono Jacket out of hibernation to finish for winter wear.

Then there's the little bag. I have been nearly obsessed with making the largest size of Three for the Road since I got my hands on the book to make my Entrelac Bag for the TdF KAL. This one shouldn't take too long (and I'll get to practice sewing a zipper by hand).

Then, really, I need to think about Christmas. Actually, some of that has already been done (and not blogged, since my family are the most ardent readers of my blog), but there's always more.

Call It Olympics Lag

Between staying up until all hours watching Olympic coverage, the un-Tucson-like humidity with can make it tough to sleep, and still having to do all my normal Sandy-stuff during the day, I'm exhausted. As exciting as this all is (yay, Michael Phelps, Dara Torres, Natalie Coughlin, etc!), part of me will be very, very glad when I can get back to a normal schedule.

And I don't really even have any knitting to show for it. Oh, I've been knitting, but it is all secret (shhhhh) right now.

I can show off this, however:
Waving Lace Socks

It's my version of a the Waving Lace Sock from Favorite Socks (rav links). Except, of course, that it's toe-up, with a gusset heel, and a smaller foot, and I may or may not put the lace at the top of the sock. So, basically, I'm making a toe-up sock with the waving lace lace pattern on it.

And it's already giving me ideas, both for the second sock and for another project. Stay tuned.

And because I like the look of a slip-stitch heel with a gusset (and because I really have nothing else to share -- pitiful -- not even cute pics of the animals):
Waving Lace Socks Heel

Oh, the yarn? It's Lang Jawoll Colors #58.

Last Night, This Morning, Tomorrow, Late Next Tuesday?

Whenever it was that the US Men pulled off that astounding win in the 4x100 relay (at least whenever it was broadcast here in the SW) -- M and I were watching from bed, and jumped and shrieked so loudly that the cat ran for the hills. Poor thing -- perhaps rabid sports fans should not be allowed to have pets who startle easily.

Time has become weird here of late. What with the time difference between here and China AND the fact that the "live" broadcasts are actually still delayed 2 hours out here in the Wild West, I am left with this feeling of not really knowing when things are happening. But whenever it was, that relay has to have been the most spectacular thing I've ever witnessed (sports-wise); and it almost makes up for the long faces of 8 years ago (one of which was Jason Lezak's) as the Aussies celebrated their victory in "our race."

Smash the Americans, indeed. BTW, perhaps lost in all the excitement is the fact that Alain Bernard's world record in the 100 meter free also fell during the first leg of the relay.

But, there has been knitting here at the casa.
Crazy Monkeys

Pattern: Sort of my own concoction, loosely based on the Cookie A.'s Monkey and Los Monos Locos. Toe-up 60-stitch stockinette foot with seven repeats of the Monkey stitch pattern on the leg.
Yarn: Regia Ringel Color #5048
Needle: Knit Picks 32" Harmony circ 2.5mm

I've already told most of this sock's story: I needed a project to work on, so I just knit a sock foot; when I got to the leg, I asked for suggestions and got the Monkey. I love it. I love the way the stitch pattern makes the stripes of the yarn undulate. And then I did a knitted bind off. I do believe this will become my standard toe-up bind off from now on. Yeah, it's a bit slow and fiddly, but I love the result.
Southwest Socks

It's been a whole weekend, you didn't think I'd have just one pair of socks finished to show for it, did you?

Pattern: Wendy Johnson's Southwestern Socks (pdf link) (Rav link)
Yarn: Brunswick La Laine "Mt Everest" (guess how long that's been marinating in the stash -- I don't even remember when Brunswick ceased to be)
Needle: Inox nickel plated 32" 2.75mm (US2)

Why did I ever knit socks with sock yarn?! It's been in the back of my mind to knit a pair of socks with this ball of yarn for a while, and Saturday -- after finishing the Crazy Monkeys -- I picked it up along with Wendy's pattern (which I've had since it was published). By bedtime Saturday night, I had a pair of socks. How cool is that? Okay, I admit to spending most of the day Saturday watching Olympic action, so there was a lot of knitting time, but still. Gotta love the break provided by a sport weight sock.

My new socks, however, are being knit from sock weight yarn. No pics yet, but I've started a pair of Waving Lace Socks (Rav link) from Favorite Socks. I'm knitting them toe-up, however, and will figger out that gusset and heel flap math thing if it kills me -- stay tuned.

In other knitting news, I've started a Secret Sample:

It is going fairly quickly, but reveal will have to wait a while.

And now, I leave you with the cats, doing what they do best:
No, I'm Not Dead
He's not dead, really, just very hot and very, very trusting

Is This Comfortable?
I don't know how this can be comfortable, but since he spends an awful lot of time like this, I guess it is.

We Need More of Me
The Queen would like you to know that there needs to be more of her in the world (and less of the boys, if that's possible).

String Art
K-man with just a small portion of his latest string art creation which stretches through the living room, dining room, family room, and kitchen (don't worry, it was leftover from the Southwestern Socks, and I let him have it) -- oh, and don't let her tell you otherwise, the Queen helped with this arts and crafts project.

Been Away Too Long

As much as I love unexpected time off (snow days, boiler died days, police are running drills in the Bunker parking lot days...), the past few days have been a bit much. The online tool which is a necessary component of my "day job" went down sometime last Thursday evening, had to be rebuilt, and just came back online yesterday afternoon. For anyone who's counting, that's nearly a week without being able to work. (Not to mention a week of not getting paid.)

Friday was nice -- we got a lot of work done around the house and spent a lazy afternoon knitting and weaving. Monday was also kinda nice -- got the rest of the cleaning done and spent some time reading. By Tuesday, it was getting really old. I actually read an entire book on Tuesday. Wednesday, well, Wednesday is the day I head in to church to do some proofreading/editing work and have lunch with M, so it wasn't so bad. Today, I can finally go back to work. Hooray!

So, if I've had all this time off, why haven't I blogged? Well, you know how they say if you want something done, find a busy person? You know how sometimes when you only have one or two things on your to do list, it's hard to get motivated to do them? You know that feeling of uselessness that comes with not being able to work? All my excuses for not blogging the past couple of days.

And I don't even have pictures of scads of knitting I've completed while I couldn't work. Nope, I've turned the heel and done about two repeats of the monkey pattern on the second Crazy Monkey sock, and I wove a whole three inches of the scarf I'm making from the Lorna's Laces rainbow sock yarn.

Oh, but I can confess that the scarf won't look like the picture I posted of the warp on the warping board for the simple reason that I was an idiot.
Rainbow Warp
I diligently tied the ends of the warp and tied the choke ties, and stupidly forgot to secure the cross (weavers will know what this means). Basically, it means that once I had the warp off the board, I had little hope of ever keeping the order of the threads straight. Oh well, it's still colorful and I think I'm going to like it. I believe the tencel in the weft is red purple, but don't quote me on that (I need to get a colorbook from WEBS).
Lorna's Laces Scarf Started
And, yes, I'm using the reclaimed yarn unwashed. I'm hoping that the tension on the loom will pull out the curlies as I weave (in these pictures, I've relaxed the tension on the warp since I'm not actively weaving on it) and that what's left will add a little texture. And if not, oh well, I've come to believe this yarn is doomed anyway. But it is curly:
Curly Bits
And, of course, in the way of the world, I got the yarn and pattern for one new sample project -- and the pattern and contract for another -- yesterday. Why couldn't this stuff have arrived when I was temporarily furloughed from my day job?!

And finally, since I got my new desk chair, the Queen has laid claim to the old one:
Queen B's Chair
She especially likes to get it spinning. Don't know what she'll do when it goes out tomorrow morning for the Boys & Girls Club to collect.

Crazy Monkeys of a Sort

Crazy Monkeys

Well, I found something to do with the legs of the brightly striped socks. When I asked over at Plurk, Obstiknit recommended Los Monos Locos. I love the Monkey, so I decided that would be a good idea. I do believe it was in fact a great idea. The monkey stitch pattern is so easy and so easy to memorize (and fast). And I absolutely love the way it makes the stripes undulate. Good choice, very good choice.

Oh, notice anything interesting about the stripes on the socks? No? Perhaps a different pic will help:
Crazy Monkey Stripes

See that? When I reclaimed this yarn from my first failed project, I had finished a whole sock with ball #1, so when I wound the yarn back into a ball directly from the sock, I wound up with the end of the ball in the center, so it's backwards. I realized this about two stripes into the toe on the second sock, but I didn't really feel like re-winding that whole ball to make them match. So, they're a little more crazy than just a normal pair of monos locos.

We had a pretty good weekend here. Saturday, we bought me a new desk chair (the thrift store find I had been using was not cutting the mustard now that I'm sitting at my desk 5+ hours a day). So, we went shopping and found a comfy (and surprisingly affordable) chair rated for more intensive use (who knew chairs were rated in hours per day). Here is the Queen modeling said chair:
Queen B Takes Over

Yes, it is red ("ruby" actually), and I kinda like the red.

We also bought a laptop cart. This will give me the freedom to move out of the office when it gets stuffy in here or I just need a change of scenery. It will also allow me to park my computer next to the exercise bike and pedal while I work (not hard, just enough to keep blood flowing to my extremities). Since we can't afford (nor do we have the room for) a treadmill workstation, this is the next best thing.

On Sunday, we went to Shlomo & Vito's for lunch (wish I could find a website, but they don't appear to have one). One of the things most Tucson transplants from anywhere in the Northeast will say they miss the most is the food. Despite being full of restaurants, Tucson has no really good Italian food, no decent seafood, and a sad lack of good deli-style food. Shlomo & Vito's is a real NY style deli, with real treats like tongue, pastrami, corned beef, knishes, and fried chicken livers. YUM! It tasted like home (or at least like NYC). And the cheesecake! Just imagine 1/6 of a cheesecake that is 3" thick! We'll be eating that for days. The place is pricey, but it will probably be on our "treat" list (along with the Native New Yorker which just opened very close to us -- haven't yet had their wings, but their meatballs are to die for).

In more knitting news: M is conquering lace. After a couple of false starts, she has made quite a bit of progress on Branching Out. Can I admit here that sometimes I envy her for learning to knit as an adult? I've been knitting so long that very little intimidates me or provides excessive challenge (except poorly written patterns or bad design). She, on the other hand, has this joy of discovery at a time in her life when she can appreciate and remember it.

My Favorite Breakfast

This is my interpretation of something we first had in a little bakery in Atlanta, somewhere nearby Centennial Park. This version of the recipe makes enough to serve us breakfast for nearly a week. Food safety people would probably not recommend keeping it in the fridge that long, so feel free to cut in half.

Swiss Oatmeal (that's what they called it)

4 cups water
4 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup each slivered almonds, chopped walnuts, raisins and dried cranberries (feel free to substitute your favorite nuts and/or dried fruit)
1 cup milk of your choice (we use plain soy milk)
3 cups lowfat plain yogurt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 crisp apples (yellow delicious and Granny Smith work well), cut into small bite-size chunks
bananas, berries, other fresh and/or frozen fruit (optional)

Bring water, salt and brown sugar to a boil in a large saucepan. Lower heat and add 3 cups of the oats. Cook over medium/low heat until thickened but not quite "done" consistency. Remove from heat and pour into large mixing bowl/tupperware/something to store it in the fridge in. Stir in nuts, dried fruit, milk, yogurt, cinnamon, and the other 1 cup of oats. Cover and refrigerate until cold.

Remove from the refrigerator and assess consistency. If necessary, add more milk or yogurt to thin to eating consistency. Stir in chopped apples and return to refrigerator.

Serve cold, garnishing with sliced banana and/or other fresh or frozen fruit as desired.


Has This Ever Happened to You?

You're happily knitting along in stockinette stitch and suddenly you break into entrelac? (apologies to Meg Swansen)

I have this sock foot:
A Foot

Started this yesterday afternoon because I needed something to knit while I worked -- figured I could figure out what to do with the leg when I got there. Well, I'm there, and I'm seeking something to do with it.

The first thing that came to me was entrelac (seems to be a theme in my life lately), and that sent me to an article I knew I'd seen in one of that pile of old Knitter's -- one where Meg Swansen discussed how to work out the decreases when going from stockinette to entrelac. And that's where the above butchered line comes from. [Original quote: "If you have ever been knitting along happily in stockinette stitch, and suddenly broken into entrelac, you will have seen how -- without changing the number of stitches -- the entrelac section puffs out like a mushroom cap." (Knitter's #27, Summer 1992)]

I've pretty much thrown out the entrelac idea for now, though. I'm now looking through stitch dictionaries for some lacy ribbing or something to do to it. Stay tuned.

And, get this, I may have finally come up with something to do with that Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock rainbow colorway that might keep the rainbow. Remember the scarf I just wove out of sock yarn? Well, what if I used the Lorna's Laces as a warp? Here's the warp on the warping board:
Rainbow Warp

Right now the plan is to use some tencel in amethyst (I believe) for the weft. That should allow the striping of the warp to show with just a purple cast to it. We'll see what happens.

Fortunately, I just got a reprieve from work for the rest of the day, so I'm off to figure out at least one of these two puzzles (and maybe even get some reading done).