Back Online (with fingers crossed)

K-Man LoungingSo, I've been having these weirdly predictable problems with my Internet connection for a while now. Every afternoon, sometime between 1:30 and 2:30 I would simply lose my connection -- then it would return anywhere from 5:30 to 7:00. Strange. ISP had no problems on their end, so finally on Friday a very nice tech came and, finding nothing wrong with the lines, etc here at the house, suggested just swapping out our old modem (which we own) for a leased one and seeing if that fixes the problem. If it does, I can go buy a new modem and return the leased one.

Well, I can say the Internet did not cut out Friday afternoon. The real test will be this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon. Fingers crossed that it works because I kinda rely on my Internet connection to make a living.

In the meantime, Enchanted Daybreak is done! And I love it. The interplay of the colors is just great; it's just the right size to keep a chill off; and the shape means it stays on my shoulders without a pin. It's just great.

Enchanted Daybreak Shawl
Pattern: Daybreak Shawl by Stephen West -- I made the largest size
Yarn: Brown Sheep Nature Spun Fingering "Orange You Glad" and Noro Kureyon Sock #185, 1 ball each
Needle: Addi 32" #4
Mods: Well, to avoid running out of yarn halfway through the bindoff, I actually bound this off on the last wrong side knit row.

As I mentioned, when I saw Stefanie's blog post about her Daybreak Shawl, I wandered over to Rav to see what others had done, and knew immediately that I had to make this shawl and that I had to make it with this Kureyon Sock.

The knitting of the shawl was pretty straightforward, and I needed to refer to the pattern for only the first couple of rows of each section. And I only used a row counter for the first (solid) section. After that it was simply a matter of counting stripes and/or "purl" rows to keep track of where I was. By then end, each row was taking 12-15 minutes to knit and the needle was pretty full of stitches (I have deliberately not done the math to figure out just how many stitches were on the needles by the end -- it was a lot).

We had company coming for the weekend, so instead of wet-blocking or pinning out and steam blocking (both of which require the guest room to be free of guests for at least a day and a half), I simply gave the shawl a good ironing. I like the results very much.

And just because I love this shawl so, more pix (of course, clicking will take you to full size image at Flickr):
Enchanted Daybreak Shawl
Enchanted Daybreak Shawl
Enchanted Daybreak Shawl
Enchanted Daybreak Shawl (pre-block)

Color is probably most accurate in the pictures of it resting on the bird of paradise.

And remember the two skeins of Indigo Moon I needed to do something with? Well, what do you think?

Crabapple Sunshine

This is #1 of a pair of Cookie A's Sunshine Socks from Sock Innovation. Loving the color; loving the yarn; and loving how the yarn shows off the texture of the stitch pattern. Now on to sock #2.

Random Thursday (Because the Internet Went out Wednesday)

1. As Levi Leipheimer said when Tweeting it, "Check out these mad biking skills."

2. Ever wondered what your favorite journalists, foodies, techies and fashion gurus read online every day? Now you can check it out with Google Readers' Featured Readers.

3. I saw this great story about the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck a couple weeks ago. You can follow his exploits on his blog.

4. Don't ask because I haven't a clue what it's about, but this car was parked on the street in downtown Grand Rapids, MI, while we were there for Synod.
Deer on a Car?
I'm sure it had nothing to do with Synod, and (as you can tell if you click on the picture to see the original at Flickr) the deer aren't real. It certainly had us all quite amused for a couple of days.

5. This one is just for the word/grammar geeks out there: The UC San Diego Semiotic Zoo. "The UC San Diego Semiotic Zoo (UCSZ) is proud to present a special exhibition of exotic specimens and fabulous mutations, captured live in the jungles of academic discourse, and assembled here with great care for your entertainment and edification." Hours of fun for the whole family! Really.

6. Two things about this next picture:
It's a Good Thing I Love Him
  • It's a good thing I love him because, while that's not a favorite shoe, it is one I wore frequently; and
  • Look closely at his face. What if I tell you this picture was taken a couple of months AFTER we had his left eye removed? Spooky, huh?
7. And finally, I got a new cell phone last week, a Samsung Eternity. I wanted something that was capable of web browsing and stuff, had a full keyboard for texting, and that I could afford. Sure, I could get a refurbished iPhone for fairly cheap, but AT&T requires that you add the full iPhone data plan to your service, and I didn't say I wanted to USE the data service, just have a phone that could. Anyway, this phone comes with this "game":

Which is at the same time ridiculously pointless and rather addictive. I suppose if you're stuck somewhere and fell like playing craps.... [If you know HOW to play craps, that is.]

Yummy Yarns, A Cuddly Wrap, and an Enchanted Shawl

"Kitten Litter"Before we get to the fiber arts, I just have to gush a little bit about this recent acquisition (purchased at a yarn store, however, so it fits). Isn't it just wonderful? It was made by Janey Katz of Lizard Breath Ranch. M and I went to Silver City, NM a couple of weeks ago on a (working, for her) mini-break. While there, we were directed by friends to Yadda Yadda Yarn because, well, we needed souvenir yarn, right?

We also knew we wanted a "Critter" and that we could get one at the yarn store. The friends who put us up for the night have one of her larger pieces (made from an entire truck door), and we were captivated. So our first stop (after checking in with friends at The Curious Kumquat) was to fondle (and acquire) yarn and admire (and acquire) art.

Faux Russian StolePattern: Faux Russian Stole from A Gathering of Lace by Meg Swanson
Yarn: A two-ply wool jumperweight I can't otherwise identify because the tag is all in some Scandinavian language. Photos cannot do this yarn justice. It reads mostly as brown, but it's got a lot of green to it as well -- and then there are bits of orange and blue and red and other colors -- in the sun it just glows with light and color.

I loved the pattern, and the knitting was fairly straightforward (if anything with a 95 row chart can be straightforward). I found that it was easier to keep my place and make sure I didn't miss any YOs (I don't tend to miss the decreases, just the YOs) if, in addition to the markers between the edge stitches and the body stitches, I placed markers 28 stitches in from each side of the body. This way I could keep track of the stitches in each of the three sections of the body chart. As long as I had 28-25-28 stitches in these sections each row I was good to go.

Before blocking, the shawl was 22x54" -- after blocking it is now 30x72". Yep, it's BIG, and it'll be perfect for snuggling into on cool winter evenings here in the desert. Nothing worse when you're chilly than a shawl that's too small.

Enchanted Daybreak StripesWhen Stefanie started her Daybreak Shawl I was intrigued (maybe it was the Manilow reference), so I went to the Rav page and looked at the other projects there, then wandered over to Stephen's blog and decided that I had to make myself a Daybreak. I had purchased some Kureyon Sock (#185) at Yadda Yadda Yarn during the aforementioned visit with another shawl project in mind, but Daybreak captured my attention, so on a visit to Tucson Yarn I picked up a ball of Nature Spun Fingering in "Orange You Glad" and as soon as the Faux Russian was off the needles I cast on for what I'm calling Enchanted Daybreak ("Enchanted" for the motto of New Mexico, "Land of Enchantment").

I am making the largest size which calls for 325 yards of the solid color; Nature Spun Fingering comes in 310 yard balls. I finished section 2 with just a few yards of the 310 remaining. Phew! I am now a couple repeats into section 3 and the rows are each taking 12 or so minutes to knit (yes, I timed the last one because I needed to get dinner started and it was a race to see if I would finish the row in time).

Stefanie has some tips on her blog post (link above) for working the solid section. I will just add this: I put a locking stitch marker at the center of each of the side sections. As long as you remember to move the markers two stitches toward the outside before each increase row, you can then just do the increase on the outside of the marker and not worry about counting stitches.

Now if only that package would arrive from Knit Picks so I can do something with this:
Indigo Moons Yummies
That's two skeins of Indigo Moon Yarns Merino Fingering in Salad and Crabapple (I'm guessing you can tell which is which). They're to become socks. The Salad will likely become Feuilles de Vert, a pattern designed by Debbie O'Neill for Indigo Moon; the Crabapple may become Nancy Bush's Fancy Silk Sock or perhaps something from Sock Innovation. We'll see if Trish has other ideas since these are ultimately samples for her, but she's given me a lot of leeway with choosing the design.

I think that may be just about caught up. Of course, there are other socks on the needles (the reason I need the KP package before I can start the socks for Indigo Moon), and I've made some decisions about the Log Cabin Blankie whose squares are right now resting in the corner of my office, done but not assembled, and I there's a pink blankie for the hospital, and I know there's other stuff. Oh, and I just heard from Susan that she's sending me a new test knit. Ah, the fibery goodness!

In The Meantime...
Catching up in pictures

Pupper has made the complete transition from Cone-Puppy to Padiddle-Dog.
Padiddle Dog!
He's doing great, and aside from occasionally bumping into things on his left side, he really doesn't seem to notice. And his depth perception appears to be just fine if his ability to snag thrown popcorn from mid-air is any indication.

M and I went to the UCC's General Synod in Grand Rapids, MI. It was a fabulous chance to see friends, experience inspiring worship, and (of course) kibbutz the parliamentary procedure (which this year was largely free of major snafus). While there, I managed to knit a couple pairs of socks:

Fruity Jaywalkers
Pattern: Jaywalker by Grumperina
Yarn: OnLine Supersocke Holiday Color #999
I call these Fruity Jaywalkers because the colors of this yarn just scream things like LIME! CHERRY! ORANGE! LEMON!. I made the original size, and they're a little tight for my chunky calves, so they'll be M's socks or I'll find them a different home.

Total Immersion Socks
Pattern: Tidal Wave Socks by Deby Lake
Yarn: SWTC TOFUtsies #790
The theme for this year's General Synod was "Immerse Yourself" -- and few things immerse more than a tidal wave, so these socks were dubbed "Total Immersion". I cannot express how much I love this yarn or this pattern. This the third pair of Tidal Wave socks I've made from TOFUtsies, and I can't promise I won't make more. For Tucson winters, wool socks can be a little toasty on the feet, so a nice wool/soy/cotton blend is just what the weatherman ordered.

Synod Junkie Monkeys
Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A
Yarn: Regia Mini Ringel Color #5219
Though these socks were not begun until after our return from Synod, I still call them "Synod Junkie Monkeys" since the yarn made the trip to Grand Rapids as backup to the Jaywalkers and Tidal Wave socks. As with the other Monkeys I have made, these have no purl stitches.

There was fiber crafting FOR Synod in addition to the knitting AT Synod:

A Shawl for Synod
Pattern: Very Easy Ripple Shawl by Lion Brand (aka just a whole lot of feather and fan)
Yarn: Lion Brand Microspun in turquoise
Knowing that it would be chilly in the halls and rooms at Synod, M and I each knit one of these shawls, mine in turquoise, hers in orange.

Backup Shawl for Synod
And the backup shawl, just in case I didn't finish the knitted one. This is one is woven from mostly 5/2 Valley Cotton. Main color is 8176 (natural), and both warp and weft have random threads of other colors left over from other projects. At least most of the color is random: once in each the warp and weft there is a pink thread right next to an orange one. Coffee drinkers raised in the Northeast may recognize the significance of that (one thing I desperately miss from back home).

There's more knitting and stuff, but I'll stop here for now.

Oh, just a few more things:

Pupper Pulls Through

Ukranian EggsSo, Pupper came through is surgery yesterday just fine. I'd put a picture of him at the head of this post, but I don't want to scare any small children who might be watching. He's still a bit bloody and swollen, and then there's the matter of that cone around his neck.

Speaking of scared, much to our surprise and delight, Mr. Skittish himself (aka K-man) didn't freak out and run away when Cone-Pupper came home last night. No, he was instead incredibly curious. As Pupper was lying on the floor, K-man walked over and completely investigated the cone, the dog, and all the strange smells. He wasn't at all frightened, thank goodness.

Pupper himself is nearly back to his old self. In fact, aside from sleeping a little more (and a little more deeply) than usual, he has been his old self since we picked him up last night. Because of how our schedules all worked out,Mommy Dove on the Nest we had to take him to our last Education for Ministry class at church last night. Rather than simply curling up and sleeping on the floor (as I would have done just a couple hours after anesthesia), Pupper was alert and greeting everyone and keeping his one eye on all the happenings.

Today, he's been a little whiny and a little more clingy than usual (and he's a velcro dog on the best of days), and he's still not a pro at navigating life with a cone on his head. [Note: one thing we did not consider is that he probably can't turn around in his crate with the cone on his head, and since he has to be in his crate when he's home alone (unless he's outside, and I'm not leaving him outside with a cone on his head, even when the temps aren't above 100) ....] He has figured out how to eat and drink, and he can even get the crumbs he spilled on the floor without choking himself on the collar, so I consider that progress.

Ummmmm.On the knitting front, well, there's progress, and aside from letting you know that I've finished the fourth square on my log cabin blanket, I can't share. And just to prove that I'm not just the knitting lady, but the crazy knitting lady, I've just agreed to a few other sample/test knits that will probably consume all of my knitting time for the next few weeks. But how can I say no? I mean, to be in at the beginning of the process; to see something take shape; to knit something no-one (or nearly no-one) else has ever knit; to (in some cases) use yarn I couldn't or wouldn't buy for myself.... But, let's face it, the real fun is that I get paid to knit! Just how cool is that?

Photo information: Ukranian Eggs (black is mine; red is M's) we decorated in a workshop at church this spring; a mommy dove sitting on her nest in our bougainvillea; Queen B inside the wing chair in the living room (you may need to see the full-size version at Flickr to get that).

In Which Sandy Worries, and Knits

King of the WorldPupper just left with M to go to the vet so his left eye (please, God, make sure they take the left one) can be removed. Me, I'm not quite a nervous wreck, but my fragile baby is having surgery, so I'm a little distracted. And last night I dreamed that they took the wrong eye, leaving him both deaf AND blind.

It is time for the surgery (he's been blind in that eye as long as we've had him, and he's so unaware of it these days that he doesn't even close it when he sleeps -- exacerbating his dry eye and causing chronic infections), and life will be easier for all of us when it's over. Funny, one of the things I'm most worried about is what seeing "his" dog in an Elizabethan collar will do to our rather skittish K-Man, whose life motto is "Panic first, ask questions later."

But, now to knitting (the best tonic for almost any situation).

The Magenta thing is done. I love it when a plan comes together, and this one did. The finished object is just perfect for wearing over a tank top to keep the A/C chill off.

When I got there, I decided to go with feather and fan for the skirt. I tried a few other things, but the classics are the classics for a reason, and I think f & f was just perfect for this application. So, after I made the eyelets and bound off the center 3 stitches (the seed stitch placket), A Magenta ThingI increased to some multiple of 18 and worked the feather and fan until it was about mid-butt length.

For the edgings, I picked up stitches along the edges of the lace section and around the neck, worked two garter ridges, an eyelet row (K2tog, YO), then another garter ridge before binding off. If I were to do this again, I would probably knit the edging along with the skirt, picking up three extra stitches at the bottom of the placket rather than casting them off.

I then picked up the sleeve stitches and knit just 6 stockinette rounds before edging them like the neck and skirt. Right now, the tie is just a long crochet chain, and I haven't added buttons to the placket -- a trip to the fabric store is probably coming soon to pick out some ribbon and buttons.

All together, this sweater used almost a whole 1-lb cone of Valley Yarns Hampshire Brights (a 6/2/2 mercerized cotton they no longer carry, though their Valley Cotton comes in a 3/2 which is the same weight). Because of the extra twist in this double-plied yarn, I am glad I chose a project for it knit in the round. I got the feeling that this yarn might have a biasing issue if it were knit flat in stockinette (the lace is okay, partly because it's garter-ish). A good thing to keep in mind, since I have a few more cones of this in the stash.

Sock Blankie
And finally, another new blanket project. I succumbed to the allure of making something useful out of all my sock yarn scraps and so I've begun my own sock yarn blankie. I have 17 foundation squares done, and have started to join them. I am knitting on size 3 double pointed needles (bigger than I would use for socks, but softness and floppiness -- rather than hard-wearingness -- are the aim here), and starting with 31 stitches for each square. I am randomly (or not-so-randomly in some cases) adding sections of stockinette to each square to add some interest. In some cases, I'm using the stockinette, too, to lessen that garter-stripe effect.

I don't plan on finishing this one anytime soon. In fact, unless I decide to sacrifice some of my wool sock yarn (which, let's face it, makes socks I can wear for about 2 months if I'm lucky here in Tucson), I don't have enough yarn to finish the blankie anyway. So, if anyone wants to send sock yarn scraps my way....

Say a prayer, light a candle, send good thoughts to the Universe for my baby and his surgeon.

Log Cabin Love

Since about halfway through the last of my recent stealth knitting projects I have been obsessed for some reason with the idea of log cabin squares and a log cabin blanket.Log Cabin Love (Contrary to popular belief, blankets -- especially lap-sized blankets -- are useful here in the desert for chilly winter evenings.) Just the project for Tucson as summer approaches (we're expecting our first triple-digit temps today, in fact) -- yep, seasonal knitting, gotta love it (thank goodness for the A/C).

So, as soon as I had that project on its way to its rightful owner, I hit the stash and pulled out three cones of Brora Softspun. For those unfamiliar (and unfortunate), this was a HUGE millend WEBS had a few years ago -- a 2-ply worsted weight Shetland in a whole bunch of yummy colors (about 40 of them shades of brown/tan). It is greasy and sheepy (though it doesn't have a lot of vegetable matter) and reminds me a lot of the Bartlett yarns that I grew up with. I love working with it, and it washes up into the softest, yummiest, warmest fabric that would just kill me if I had to wear it in a sweater (my original intent for the embarrassing number of 2.5-lb cones of the stuff I bought) down here.

Log Cabin LoveI decided to use Cara's basic recipe from her Blue Moon log cabin blanket. I will use the same 12 square configurations she used and assemble them randomly (or as randomly as I am able). Right now I am planning to then pick up a monster number of stitches around the edge and put some kind of border on the thing.

My squares are blocking to 14", so the finished blanket (with border) will be about 4'x5' -- a great lap warmer size. Of course, with 2.5 pounds of each color at my disposal and a nearly endless supply of log cabin configuration options, I could always decide to make it more blanket- than throw-sized. Stay tuned.

I am totally in love with this project -- the knitting, the finished squares, the colors -- all of it is just a joy. Unfortunately, I will shortly have to put these squares aside because the yarn arrived this week for yet another stealth project (still waiting for the pattern which is probably being written as I write this).

One final thought: with the weather here in the desert turning to the triple digits in early May, the boys would like you to know it's just not fair.

It's Hot, Mommy!
It's Hot, Mommy!

Purse Karma, We Haz It

Hello there. Yeah, it's me, the Prodigal Blogger. I found my way back to the blog, and believe me,Dooney & Bourke Satchel I'm thrilled to be back. What's kept me? Mostly it was those allergies from someplace-even-hotter-than-Tucson-in-July that kicked my behind for a few weeks. I was at the point where I just wanted to lock myself in a hermetically sealed room with quadruple HEPA filtration and not come out until everything in the world had ceased pollinating. I even cried. It has been an unbelievably nasty allergy season here in the SW. Then M found this homeopathic allergy spray, Southwest formula, and I've been a changed woman ever since.

And there has been knitting -- lots and lots of knitting to keep me busy and/or feeling guilty while I've been "sick", and I can't share it -- sorry. In time perhaps some will be revealed.

Chris Bubany BowlsBut I did want to reveal the lucky score we made last Friday on a crawl through secondhand stores. First we found a pair of brand new Birkenstocks -- in my size -- in black -- for $8.

Next, we found two bowls by a Tucson artist whose work we have been drooling over since we moved here. [In fact, if anyone needs a gift suggestion, the 16" platter in her Tree of Life pattern would look fabulous on the lazy susan in the middle of our dining room table.]

But the best? The best came at our favorite second hand haunt when I did what I always do and headed for the place where they keep "the good stuff". Only this wasn't with the good stuff. There in a shopping cart, where it was waiting for someone to put it away, was the unmistakableDooney & Bourke Drawstring pebbled leather of a Dooney & Bourke handbag. I pulled it out to reveal, well, what you see above there, priced at $4. That wasn't to be all, though. Digging through the cart revealed yet another D&B handbag, this one priced at $6 -- and brand new -- with the plastic still on the shoulder strap.

But that wasn't even the end. After we had snatched up these two bags and headed to the checkout with them before someone could change their mind about the prices, we found yet ANOTHER D&B handbag. This time an Essex -- in bone -- in very good condition -- for $8. I don't have a picture of that last one because it has already gone to a friend with a love of Dooney & Bourke and no budget to match. She was thrilled -- or perhaps stunned is a better word for it. And researching her new handbag has given her a bit of a passion for vintage handbags -- we may have created a monster.

We're guessing that someone either died or had to be moved into a nursing home, and the family just donated all her stuff. Then someone priced it without really knowing what it was (side note: in the same cart was a like new leather Prada handbag for $10 which we didn't buy). The Essex was clearly its previous owner's everyday bag for a while. Among the things I cleaned out of it: two Advil, one Alleve, one Imitrex, two Zoloft (who carries loose anti-depressant pills around with them?), a fortune cookie fortune, 12 cents, and a grocery receipt from 2003.

Vintage Coach HandbagSo, M has a new everyday bag (the drawstring bag); I have a new (and it's green!) fun handbag; and Lorraine is tickled pink with her new baby.

Oh, my everyday handbag? Another fantastic secondhand find. A vintage Coach we got for a buck (yes $1) at a rummage sale.

And since I finished all the stealth knitting I can't share, I have been working on a couple of fun projects which I can share, and I promise I will, let's hope tomorrow.

Everyone's So Dull Around Here

Everywhere M and I have lived (with the exception of the 4th floor apartment in Malden) we have had bird feeders. And everywhere we have had bird feeders it has been like there's some message that goes out in the bird world that our house is the place to be. I mean, other people put out bird feeders and they get some birds; we put out bird feeders, and there are times when you think our backyard has been converted to a holding area for extras on an Alfred Hitchcock set.

Northern Cardinal at the ASDMThis provides hours of entertainment for our (indoor) cats -- and probably an ego drain for our dog (he's a hunting dog by breed, after all) whom they mostly ignore (even the game birds among them).

Since we moved to Tucson, this also provides M and I with a bit of a mental challenge. How many times in the first few months we lived here did one of us say something like, "It certainly LOOKS like a sparrow, but not quite right." I mean, this isn't the Galapagos or anything, but in general the species of common birds (like sparrows) look ever-so-slightly different from those we're used to back east.

Northern Cardinal at the ASDMNowhere is this as obvious, however, as when it comes to Cardinals. Here in the southwest, cardinals are predominantly of the Pyrrhuloxia variety -- a duller, more burnt-orange-looking bird. Ask any bird book out there, and it will tell you that we here in SE Arizona are at the outer edge of the range of the more striking northern cardinal (which makes the fact that our football team -- based in Phoenix, technically outside the northern's range -- has a northern cardinal as its logo a bit ironic).

Imagine our delight, then, when this guy pictured here came to visit us while we were sipping our coffee on the patio at the ASDM recently. We could just hear his little brain wondering about the dullness of the other cardinals around.

Knitting -- There Has Been Knitting

A Hot Pink ShetlandPattern: Shetland Triangle from Wrap Style.
Yarn: Some basic hot pink 4/10 wool I got on a cone at WEBS ages ago
Needle: 4.00mm Inox nickel-plated
Mods: Did 150 rows instead of the called-for 100 before starting the edging chart because I wanted a larger, wrappable shawl. If I were to re-do it (which I might as I have other colors in this wool), I would maybe even go up to 200 rows to make it even larger. This one blocked to a just over 65" wing span and 31" from top to tip, so it will wrap and should be great for keeping a chill off on those chilly spring/early summer evenings.

As I said, I may make another in another color of this same yarn or in a different yarn altogether. The pattern is quite simple and easily memorized, even for a novice lace knitter. In fact I'd highly recommend it to an intermediate or experienced beginner knitter who wants an attractive first lace project. [And if you hate charts, there are some folks on Rav who have converted the charts to written instructions and would probably be willing to share.]

My new project is something magenta. I wanted a sweater, so I cast on and started one. This is being designed as I go.

A Magenta TopSo far we have YOs for the raglan increases to give it a lighter look and a very deep V to show off whatever tank is worn underneath. I have decided against a traditional cardigan because I wanted it to fit closely and I hate gaps at the buttons, so there is a false placket in seed stitch down the front of the bodice, and I will add buttons to complete the illusion.

I plan to end the bodice with a line of eyelets to hold either a ribbon or some i-cord about 2" above my natural waist. Below that the current plan is to split it at the front (or the sides, not sure yet) and do some kind of lace to about the hips.

Sleeves, edging, and what that lace pattern is to be are still to be decided. Stay tuned. Oh, the yarn is a discontinued 6/2/2 cotton from Valley Yarns called Hampshire Brights -- when Steve was getting rid of it I picked up a couple of cones of each of the colors they had left.

Guess that's enough for now. Tune in soon to hear about all of the frogging I've been doing lately (none of it bad, I promise).

I Am In Love

As soon as I saw this beauty at Knitty, I knew I HAD to make it. It is absolutely lovely.

That's all for now -- more extensive post later now that I'm back from vacation.

* Image is from Knitty, stored on my server.

PS. This, of course, means the Spring Knitty is up!

Happy Darwin Day!

Today is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. Whether or not you believe in evolution (in the interest of full disclosure: I do, and I have never found anything about it that contradicts my religious beliefs), you can't deny that Darwin forever changed the dialogue about the history of life on earth (not to mention making the Galapagos Islands a hot vacation destination). So Happy Birthday, Darwin!

A Bog JacketRecognize it? The same friend who gave me her extensive collection of Knitter's Magazines a while back has decided it's time to divest herself of her wool as well. Yesterday, M came home with a couple of bags of yarn and this nearly completed item. I knew immediately what it was when I pulled it out of the bag: garter stitch, false seam stitches about 1/4 of the way in on each side, stitches held on waste yarn after about 18", more stitches cast on on either side after the waste yarn.... Yep, it's a bog jacket. She had it nearly finished when they moved here to to Tucson and she knew she'd never wear it (it IS heavy). I'm planning on finishing it, though, and sending it off to someone in the north who is often cold. I like nearly-instant FOs.

[Chris (the friend) is from the midwest and has been to many retreats with Meg and Elizabeth (knitters who need no last names, n'est-ce pas?). I am soooo jealous.]

DSCN0792On the not-so-instant, but still sailing along quite quickly front, the Shetland Triangle is growing. Here it is in all its lumpy-bumpy, hot pink glory (if you can believe it, it's even hotter pink than it looks in the pic). In this picture, I've done about 90 of the 100 rows the pattern calls for before working the edging chart. I plan on doing probably at least 150 rows before the edging, however, because I want this one to be a nice, big wrappable shawl rather than the tiny little shawl shown in the book -- and I've got plenty of yarn.

Been fighting a cold most of this week which has had me a little blue. It has, however, given me great opportunity to snuggle under my new blankie, and that's been quite fab.

*1816 photo of Charles Darwin is in the public domain, retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

I Believe in Stocks

No, not the kind they trade on Wall Street (in that case, I would have to call it hope more than faith). I believe in the kind of stocks that used to sit in the public square. You know, the criminal would be captured by the hands and/or feet, and the townspeople would be free to tell said person exactly what they thought of his/her crimes? And if that "telling" involved rotten fruits and vegetables, well, so be it. Yeah, those kind of stocks.

Why? This has a lot to do with it. Stealing money from Wall St fat cats (while still illegal) is one thing, but this man has stolen from charities, schools, churches, hospitals, and at least one 91-year-old retired machinist. G*d may forgive, but my human heart wonders if there's earthly punishment equal to this crime.

Lace Garland ShawlBut we mustn't dwell, so on to happier things. There has been knitting (and a whole lot of pinning) going on here at the not-a-parsonage. First up is the completed -- and already beloved -- Lace Garland Shawl.

Pattern: Lace Garland Shawl from Knitter's Winter 1987 and Shawls and Scarves: Best of Knitter's Magazine. [rav links]
Yarn: 2-ply Shetland in lilac that has been marinating in the stash
Needles: an assortment of Inox #6 (started out with 2 circs, switched to magic loop, and finished on one 36")

It blocked (after using every blocking and straight pin I could find -- hope for the sake of our next guest that I got them all out of the futon) to around 54", and it is so light and airy and yet still quite warm. I have a plan for its eventual disposition, but that's still a ways away.

The chart for this pattern (at least the one in the magazine from which I worked) took a little getting used to as it is recreated directly from the old doily pattern the shawl is based on and the symbols and layout do not match the standard ones used by today's patterns (in the magazine, at least, there is no text, just the chart). Once I got used to the "new language," though, it was fairly smooth sailing.

A DoilyNext up in the lace-and-blocking fest is a little doily that I promised the round table in the living room. After much exploring over at Yarnover, I settled on Laura, because she is fairly small, and I liked the swirling pattern (which I noticed while pinning is very similar to the center pattern on the Lace Garland shawl). The yarn is an 8/2 unmercerized cotton millend I bought at WEBS originally to make towels with (I have a different thought in the back of my mind now, though), and I knit it on a size 4 needle. The fabric is perhaps a little denser than I would ideally like, but it works okay with this pattern. I also did my own edging because I could not figure out the edging directions in the pattern. I wound up just double-crocheting two stitches together, chaining 2, then repeating all the way around (doing two double crochets in the stiches above the points in the lace), ending with a slip stitch at the top of the first dc.

Here it is "at work":
A Doily
shown off by some of our collection of Willow Tree angels -- a friend got us a couple as wedding presents and it's just kinda taken off from there. You can see more of the collection playing the heavenly host in our manger scene (scroll down).

A Shetland SwatchLast, but not least, is "Something Hot Pink". I wanted to see if this hot pink 4/10 wool we had would work for the Shetland Triangle in Wrap Style. I was curious both about the weight of the yarn (it's sport and the pattern calls for fingering) and how well it will drape (it is, after all, a fairly basic, heavily processed wool). So I cast on and did one repeat of each of the three charts then blocked the heck out of it. Not only do I love the fabric density, but the soaking and blocking gave it the perfect drape for a shawl.

Will probably cast on for the shawl tonight, and -- since the cat seems unimpressed with it -- will send the sample to my niece as a shawl or blanket for her dolls.

And one final note, for John McCain: You lost the election last November in large part because we didn't trust you to get us safely out of this economic mess your compatriots got us into; do you really think we're anxious to hear your opinions about the stimulus plan?

* Stocks photo © Austen Redman, via Wikimedia Commons

"You Must Knit Me a Hat ... With Ears"

Some of you know that by training I am a librarian, and I worked as a librarian for years until marriage and a few moves and other stuff got me out of the library field and into a job just to have a job. Wasn't very good at that other job; didn't particularly enjoy that other field; found an opportunity to return to a library into a job I loved right before M was offered the church here in Tucson.

Caitlin's HatSo, I left the library job I loved and moved here. What with the economy and the difficulty of finding a job here unless you know people, and the dog who really needs to be watched during the day and all that, I didn't find a library job when we moved down here, so I found something close, something that allows me to work from home and use my information science background. Perfect -- at least the dog, who gets to "go to work" with Mommy every day thinks so.

In order to a) get to know people in the library system; b) keep my library chops somewhat oiled; and c) get out of the house and interacting with creatures on two legs once in a while, I volunteer one night a week for three hours at the local library branch. Since I'm a librarian, I actually get to do a lot of stuff as a volunteer that others don't (yeah, so I do the work of a library clerk and don't get paid).

One of the clerks at the branch where I work is a 20-something college student who has been working in the library system since she was 15, wants to be a librarian when she grows up, and is just all-round fun to talk to. One slow night, I found a copy of One Skein Wonders on the shelves where I was weeding and showed the pattern for the Jamaica Pouch to Caitlin with an oddly proud, "I designed this."

I swear, the next words out of her mouth were, "You knit? Then you must knit me a hat ... with ears." Okay, there might have been other words in there, but that was the gist of the conversation. In return she promised me the vegan baked good of my choice.

So, this is that hat. The hat itself is the Adults-Only Devil Hat by Kitty Schmidt from Stitch 'n Bitch; the ears are of my own devising; yarn is Madil Merino Mix 100 in white.

Tonight I deliver it to Caitlin. I do hope she likes it.

PS. Why is it that some vegans don't wear animal fibers? I mean, I can understand fine silks whose creation requires the killing of silkworms, but wool? I grew up around sheep ranches -- those creatures are pretty well cared for.

Okay, so I have my own aversion to using food or feed crops for anything but food or feed, so we all have our hangups, right.

Not Louie

NOT LouieFor some reason that only she understands, B has this attraction to the dog's bed. She has her very own smooshy bed (you can see the bit of blue next to the dog's bed in the picture), but she never sleeps on it. Instead, she spends at least some part of every day napping on the poor dog's bed. Sometimes he walks into the bedroom and sighs heavily then lays down on the floor next to the bed. Get that: 11-pound cat has 60-pound dog wrapped around her paw.

The biggest confusion is this arrangement comes from the fact that B is a very fastidious cat. She is clean and proper and otherwise just the complete cat. And the dog's bed, well, it smells like a dog. And it smells like a dog with spaniel skin. Yet there she is snoozing away every chance she gets.

NOT LouieShe also has this weird habit of crawling BETWEEN the folds of the comforter I keep in the corner of the office for the dog to sleep on while I'm working. Some day I'm not going to be able to stop him before he lays on her, I just know it.

B's other favorite places to hang include a basket full of towels in the corner of the office, the back of M's chair in the family room, on top of the large stuffed alligator on the bed, M's desk chair. She likes smooshy, obviously.

Lace Garland ShawlSo, after knitting the blankie, I must have caught some circular lace bug because I immediately cast on for this Lace Garland Shawl from Knitter's #9 (also published in Shawls & Scarves: the best of Knitter's Magazine). I have been attracted to this shawl since a friend gave me her collection of Knitter's Magazines a few months ago. I even had a 2-ply Shetland in just about the same color as the shawl in the magazine. Currently, I am working on round 115 of 142. It's going quite quickly, and I am thoroughly enjoying the knitting. It's just interesting enough not to get bored, but simple and repetitive enough that I could knit it while watching the U of A gymnastics meet last Friday (we have season tickets).

I think the Hemlock Ring Blanket started something because now I've become slightly obsessed with vintage doily patterns. In fact, I have lost quite a few hours perusing Yarnover. To show how obsessed I have become: when I was putting the living room back together after finally getting the last of the Christmas decorations out of it, I looked at a small round table that sits between two chairs and said to myself, "that table needs a doily". And dontcha know, I'm going to make it one. Heaven knows there's enough fine cotton around here and enough doily patterns on the Internet.

Tonks SockBut first I will finish my shawl. I'm kinda liking this project monogamy thing.

Well, okay, socks don't count anymore than sock yarn does, and Tonks was calling to me. Simple stockinette, toe-up, short-row heel, great for knitting during conference calls and other situations that would otherwise inspire fidgeting.