Sunday, May 31, 2009

Forecast calls for intermittent baby showers

In a previous adventure, we navigated to a surprise baby shower for fellow Raveler, Stephania. Naturally, since it was a surprise shower, Stephania didn't know about it. Neither did her sister, who planned another shower for the weekend following. No problem. I relish a challenge! Though I'd already turned out a blanket, why not see if I could whip up something else, a bit smaller this time? With some Rowan Denim left from Blu, I concocted a couple of baby bibs, using the super-simple Baby Bib O'Love pattern from the Mason-Dixon Knitting book:

One in ecru and light denim blue, adorned with a "Cook" badge from my vintage Girl Scout badge collection (something food-related seemed appropriate):

And one in dark and light denim yarns, with "Troop Camper" because the blues looked nice, and to be anti-gender-stereotypical:

I do think everyone liked them:

There were a ton of presents at the shower. Lucky baby! Lucky Stephania and Josh! A few of the handmade highlights included a baby blanket with a soft satin edge, because every baby needs a blanket with a satin ribbon edge:

A blanket hand-knit from Blue-faced Leister yarn, sure to be an heirloom:

A pair of pretty lavender coveralls with white ruffles:

A hand knit ruffly pink hat to match a little strawberry romper:

Lotsa socks! Bitty socks, none of which match exactly so there's no worries about losing one of a pair:

And itty bitty Mary Jane shoesies! Say it with me now: Awwwwwwww!

All we need now is the baby to go with it all. Coming soon!

And you know what? Baby shower season isn't over yet. There are more small ones being assembled within the group even now. Yay, more excuses to make tiny adorable things! My "baby" is six-foot-three and in college now, and as such not at all eager to produce any young 'uns of his own yet, so I must get my baby thrills where I can.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Finds

A round-up of some interesting stuff that has popped up this week:

  • Andrew Craig Williams has a free pattern for Flowers for Mam, knitted flowers to adorn the ends of knitting needles to either liven up your knitting or make a wooly bouquet.
  • Cake Journal demonstrates how to make a Knitting Basket Cake. Gotta love that fondant!
  • Knitting Under the Desk has a pattern for a Sock Monkey Cup Holder, which is a whole lot cuter than the paper sleeves for your paper coffee cups. Plus, you can sneakily knit it at work where you're going to be using it anyway.
  • News flash for anyone with migraines (::raises hand::). New work from the Mayo Clinic confirms that these aren't just isolated, episodic headaches, but that migraines are a progressive disorder that tends to get worse over time. Migraine sufferers everywhere may call this a "Well, duh!" moment, but with this thumbs-up recognition from medical science, maybe now we can get some real research going into better treatments or even a cure.
  • Nedroid comics gives you the argyle... er... gargoyle sweater.
  • Queen Victoria's knitting bag, expected to sell for 1500 pounds, sold for a mere 800 pounds. What's up with the bidders? Obviously no one who was fiercely competing for a slot in Sock Summit was among them.
  • Sknitter blogged about pattern companies using YouTube to show knitted items on real people instead of artfully-posed models.
  • Speaking of Sock Summit, this article about Sock Summit on Digital City demonstrates why non-knitting reporters should be as careful when writing about knitting as non-scientist reporters should be when writing about science. Sock knitting as a frugal activity? ::snigger::
  • Another good excuse to go shopping at your LYS: The 3-50 Project for stimulating the local economy.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

THAT scarf... the one everyone is making...

...I've been meaning to make one, too. And why not? I like wearing "decorative" scarves (you know, silk scarves and such worn as accessories), I like wearing my hand-knits, and I absolutely adore the shiny, luscious, soft, soft, soft Alchemy Synchronicity wool-silk blend that I discovered at Knit Purl.

Only, with just two skeins I have something over 200 yards, not enough for a full-sized Clapotis. It will have to be scarf-sized, long and narrow, so it will take a little experimenting to figure out when to finish the increases and later, when to begin the decreases.

I wanted a relatively simple project for under-desk knitting, and I need something I can take to graduation to work on during the interminable speeches. Not that I'm required to attend the graduation ceremonies, but when else do I get to parade around in the Doctoral robe and hood that I worked so hard to earn?

ETA: Just to clarify, I'm not among the graduates this year. That was actually 2007. Now I get to march with the faculty. Nevertheless it's still a kick every time I get to call myself "Doctor." There is great truth in this graph:

see more Funny Graphs

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

To Dad (Air Force, Korean War), Grandpa (Army, WWI), and great-great-Grandpa (Union Army, American Civil War) who served this country, and to Uncle Richard (Army, WWII) who died for it:

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Secret Project, revealed!

Last month, I posted a peek at the Secret Project, even though the indoor lighting made the colors all wonky:
Now here it is, revealed, the Moderne Baby Blanket (sort of!) from Mason-Dixon Knitting:

I say "sort of," because I used Mission Falls 1824 Cotton yarn rather than the lighter yarn that the pattern called for, and I was doing a stash-buster project. I'd bought the yarn last year for the Pondemonium sweater, as the yarn shop owner directed me to it when I said I wanted DK-weight cotton for a baby sweater. Ahem. Mission Falls cotton is aran-weight, most definitely not DK! So I'd had all these single balls of yarn sitting in my stash waiting for the perfect project, and up comes another baby shower. Okay, if I can't use the yarn for one baby project, I'll use it for another! I had to figure out my own color layout and fudge the sizes of some of the shapes to fit the amount of yarn I had, but it all worked out.

The important thing was that I had it done in time for the shower, which was yesterday:

The shower was for Stephania (of Three Fates Yarns, Moirae on Ravelry), who is expecting in July. Now, when a knitting group holds a baby shower, you can bet there will be lots of hand-knits and other handmade goodies. I got lots of pictures, but I'll only put a small sampling here, like the cow blanket:

The sweet little dress:
Sheldon the turtle!
And another pretty baby dress:
There were babies in attendance as well, like Lina, who is on a serious mission here to explore the back yard:
And Gwen, soaking up the sun:
Lina and Eli thoroughly explored the wonders of the dog's water bowl:

Though the dog didn't seem to mind:

Helen (BlueDragon on Ravelry) hosted the shindig in her back yard. There was a good deal of photography:

And a good deal of eating after the barbecue was fired up:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Finds

Let's see if I can remember to do this every week. Here's a round-up of some interesting blogs and articles I've come across that are at least somewhat fiber-related:

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sheep to Shawl Festival

Last Saturday was the Sheep to Shawl Festival at historic Mission Mill in Salem, OR:

Yep, that's all part of what was the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill, a real, live woolen mill and dyeworks that operated from 1889 until 1962. The buildings now house a textile museum, several shops, and provide a meeting place for the local Knitting Guild and Spinning Guild as well as offer classes in textile arts. Also on the grounds are the Marion County Historical Society, and several historic buildings, including the Jason Lee house. It was Jason Lee's mission that pretty much began our fair city.

The grounds around the mill, with its mill race running through, make a lovely setting for a little festival like this (even with the occasional train rumbling by).

There were plenty of spinners with their wheels showing off their skills:

Helen and Betsey, from our Ravelry group, were there.
And so was Katie, rockin' the hand-spun yarns:

And of course, the fiber animals! The title may say "Sheep to Shawl," but there were other wooly beasties besides sheep, like these angora goats, the source of cashmere:

Some baby pygoras (pygmy angora goats) here, with curly, silky wool:

Of course there were sheep -- this one couldn't make up her mind about whether her right or left profile was most flattering, so I had to snap the picture fast:

Alpacas always think they're pretty cool, even if they do all look like they're wearing cheap hairpieces:

These youngsters, freshly shorn, looked like a gaggle of first-graders all waiting to have their school pictures taken:

Speaking of shearing, there were shearing demonstrations, too. (PETA members who still harbor the silly notion that sheep are killed for their wool, take note how this very valued, very expensive, very healthy animal is most definitely not dead post-shearing and seems to be pretty cool with the whole business.)

While all this was going on, the ducks in the mill race feasted on cracked corn offered from from a coin-operated dispenser. With that many little ones running around, there were sure to be many pleas of, "Mom, can we feed the ducks?"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Dragon Emerges Damply. With Cats.

The twisted cable-like lace pattern on the Dragon Breath socks is emerging. I'm nearly done with the second time through the 24-row lace repeat. Somehow or another, I end up short one stitch each time I transition from row 12 to row 13, where the design says you have to move a marker two stitches back to make the pattern come out right. Each time I've ended up tinking back and re-knitting three or four times.

The fine-gauge Malabrigo is knitting up at a smaller row-gauge (or rather, more rows per inch, to state it correctly) than the pattern calls for, so I'll do a third repeat, since I want taller socks anyway, and I think I have enough yardage.

And now, for the weather: rain, rain, rain. It didn't stop Wild Bill from going out for a little salad:

which I'm sure he will promptly hork up somewhere.

He may not mind the weather so much, but I've got two field trips to run tomorrow, taking biology students out in the forest. I hope they took my warnings about rain gear seriously. Anyone showing up in sandals and shorts will be smacked. Or just given The Look.

Gizmo is happy to stay indoors and get her ample belly brushed.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"When Pigs Fly" Flu Fact Check

Free Clipart Picture of a Flying Pig Wearing Goggles. Click Here to Get Free Images at Clipart Guide.comI'm back at school today after a lovely four-day weekend. Late Thursday night an email message went out to everyone on campus saying that a student had been diagnosed with a flu that looked suspiciously like what the papers are calling the "swine" flu, though technically its a swine-avian-human flu, more properly called the H1N1 virus. With both swine and avian flu aspects to it, I like to think of it as the "When pigs fly" flu.

The diagnosis came through Monday: yes, it was the H1 N1 virus, the student is doing fine and is recovering, and no one else on campus appears to have any similar symptoms. There are several students in the nearby school district who have the flu, so the schools are all shut down this week. One case ended up in intensive care for a short time, but the student has returned home and is recovering.

The nice part? Having a break that was not a holiday and did not involve holiday obligations gave me a chance to catch up with all my grading, get a little gardening done (in between torrential downpours), and get some quality knitting time in. I wish we had a little break like that in the middle of every term. If we were on semesters, we would. Darn quarter system!

Were the shut-downs an overreaction? Maybe, maybe not. In a small university like ours, a swift shut-down was possible and may have kept the virus from spreading. I don't think anyone wants to be the university president, school district superintendent, mayor, governor, etc. who could have stopped the spread of a nasty flu -- and didn't.

What's so scary about this flu? Don't people die from the "normal" flu every year? Yeah, that's so. Most of the victims are the very young (babies and small toddlers), the very old, or the immune-compromised. We know the modus operandi of the "normal" flu. The H1N1 flu bears the genetic hallmarks of avian flu, the kind of flu that killed so many otherwise young, healthy people so devastatingly quickly during the 1918 epidemic. That's the bit that has everyone nervous. We don't know if this flu will turn into something that virulent.

Still... there's a lot of silliness going on about the flu.

No, you can't get swine flu from eating pork. The virus can only exist outside of a living body for a couple of hours.

No, it's highly unlikely you'll get the flu from a Mexican restaurant.

No, you won't get the flu from being around Hispanic people.

No, it's not a "Mexican" flu. In fact, there's suspicion now that there are two points of origin: one in Mexico, and one in California, suggesting that there are at least two similar viruses going around.

No, it's not Mexico's "fault." In fact, Mexico has been highly responsible, responding swiftly and getting the information out to the world.

No, "closing the borders" isn't something we can do right now to "solve" the problem. It's not like "the border" is a door that you can just close and some careless person has left it open.

No, it's not a [insert political party of your choice] plot to cover up [insert favorite conspiracy theory]. We don't really have the technology to engineer pathogenic viruses.

Face masks aren't nearly as effective a flu preventative as staying away from close crowds and washing your hands frequently.

The current known facts about the H1N1 virus are on the Centers for Disease Control website, here: H1N1 Flu and You

And now, in the spirit of livening up a pandemic as well as promoting some knitting fun, I give you the Swine Flu Masque.

Also, with the word "flu" all over the place, I can't seem to get this bit of childhood doggerel out of my mind:

A flea and a fly were caught in a flue.
Said the flea to the fly, "Oh, what shall we do?"
Said the flea, "Let us fly!"
Said the fly, "Let us flee!"
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled knitting.

Monday, May 4, 2009

This stash enhancement really must slow down...

I had a $50 gift certificate for the Rose and Ram Knit Shop that had been lurking in my knitting bag since the Super Bowl knit-in, and I thought maybe I ought to do something with it. I went in for some circular needles in sizes 1 and 2 so I could learn to do socks with the two-circulars method.

They had the size 1 needles in stock, but no size 2. They also didn't have the sock book I was hoping to pick up. Hmm, well then, what else should I do with the certificate? Ho, hum, I suppose I could take a look at the yarn (oh, twist my arm!).

I came out with a book on spindle spinning and two skeins of this nice Poems sock yarn that I haven't tried before. Low-priced, feels pretty soft, and lots of nice colors. I almost picked up a skein of brilliant rainbow colors, but opted for something more muted.

For now.

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