Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stitch markers for me, me, ME!!! Okay, and some for swapping.

The temperatures soared over 100 degrees again today. This time when I beat a retreat to the basement I took my beading stuff down with me, including some new goodies from the local bead shop. I needed some letter beads for working on patterns from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters: Book One. The patterns call for marking points A, B, C, etc. and that is much easier to do if you have stitch markers with said letters.

These letter beads look as bright as silver, but I think they're nickel or some other metal, since they weren't behind the counter with the rest of the precious metals. I added some Swarovski crystals and sterling wire and rings. Shiny!

I also went to town with some more soldered silver rings and some beads and some more Swarovski crystals that I already had and made up some more pretty stitch markers for myself in moonstone, rose quartz, jade, amethyst, and glass Turkish eye beads:

Sock Summit is coming up, and we're told there will be a stitch marker swap. Several of the women in my local knitting group are planning to drive up on Saturday (yay for living about a hour's drive from Sock Summit!), and some are preparing stitch markers for swapping. I searched the bead store for something regionally appropriate to trade with folks coming from far away, and I don't think I could find anything more regionally appropriate than these little pewter charms:

I only bought five, but I think I'll go back and get some more this week. Even though the ring I added is a bit large for sock knitting, I have a feeling they'll go over well in a swap. But before anyone can have 'em, they'll have to learn to say the name of this state properly: OR-uh-gun. Say it with me now: OR-UH-GUN. I keep hearing about some place called "Oh-ree-gawn" but I can't say that I know where it is.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

I'm melting... meeeelllting...

Helloooo, summer!

It is currently 107 degrees F (the F might mean Farenheit or might mean &*#*%-ing HOT depending on who you ask), and tomorrow promises to be a toasty 108 degrees. We are breaking heat records. Uh, hooray?

Hullo, Mother Nature? Those things I said about the ice storm last December? I take them back. Can we turn down the local thermostat to something in between, something tolerable? At least until the hardware store has a new shipment of portable air conditioners?

I've retreated to the basement where the indoor temperature is in the low 80's, until it cools off outdoors enough to open the windows again. Nighttime temps are supposed to be in the 70's, not exactly cool, but later this week the nights are supposed to be down in the 50's again and daytime temps down in the upper 80's.

Maybe tomorrow we'll take in a movie. In an air conditioned theater. Can we make it a double feature?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Indiana Vacation Part 2: Of kids and kitties

As for the second part of the Indiana vacation...

After meeting up with knitters, it was time to meet up with friends and relatives. Hubby's brother came down from Michigan with his daughter and her two kids. There was Little Miss Energy, a.k.a. Madison, who dragged me all over the yard calling, "Come here, come here, come here!" Eventually we convinced her that there were swimming gorillas in the creek behind the house, and she convinced herself that she saw one. If she has nightmares about gorillas, it's our fault. Sorry.

And her baby brother, Mr. Nonstop Motion, a.k.a. Logan. At mealtimes he trots over to the table, opens his mouth like a baby bird, takes whatever is offered, and trots off again, returning in moments for the next bite. I kept looking for the wind-up key his back.

Hubby's other brother lives in DeMotte. With both brothers we drove up to Merrillville to visit their father's gravesite and find the graves of several other family members. You'd think a visit to a cemetery wouldn't be very exciting, but two little kids can always find something to do, like run the old-fashioned pump to get water for the flowers.

Look at that smile. Isn't he a cutie-bug?

What's remarkable about this picture is that all three brothers are together in the same place for the first time in something like a couple of decades.

Sweet mum-in-law Loretta made sure the grass was pulled around the headstones.

Sadly, not long before we left on our journey, my mother-in-law's kitty died. She'd had the kitty for many years, and was quite broken-hearted about her passing. But she wasn't kitty-less for long. Hubby's brother found a litter of kittens under his porch and was in the process of rescuing and finding homes for them and for their mother, a sweet girl who was probably abandoned. The kittens were probably eight or ten weeks old, shy and unused to people, but sweet-natured. Two now reside with my mum-in-law. Here is the lovely Miss Molly, a tan-and-black-and orange tabby, who thought a teddy bear's lap was a nice place to nap:

And here is her brother Max (at least, that was his name when we left -- it may change), a perfect little tuxedo cat:

The two of them together. So hard to get kittens to sit still long enough for a decent picture!

Miss Molly was warming up enough to cuddle with me before we left, and Max was getting used to being petted. They'll be fine.

One of Hubby's high school buddies came down from Wisconsin and between them they had a scheme to get some of their old friends together at a restaurant. The scheme went off pretty well, except for one fellow who was out of town, so they had four old friends and some family members together for the first time since their college years. We also had dinner with Hubby's uncle and aunt who live in a nearby town. Alas, I didn't have the camera out for either event!

And I knit. And knit and knit and knit. We did a lot of relaxing, so I had the luxury of knitting time, and by the last day of our trip I had my Tidal Wave socks all done:

And promptly started on a new pair of socks, the Coriolis pattern from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters, in Berroco Sox. The wool isn't as soft as other sock yarn I've been using, which might be a result of the dye printing process. I hope they'll soften up with washing. I ended up ripping out the first start on the whirlpool toe, as well as starting and ripping back the band that twirls around the sock after playing around with different ways of doing the increase. What you see here is what I had done at the end of our flight home:

Our flight home left Indianapolis airport at 7:00 in the morning, so rather than get up at two in the morning and try to drive there, we drove down to Indianapolis the evening before and got a hotel room. We were just a few blocks from the state Capital building, which was closed since it was a Sunday and evening besides:

The hotel was in the canal district and sure enough, there was a canal for which the district is named. We could see it out of our window, and took the opportunity to walk along the canal when we went seeking a restaurant for dinner. As the canal walk had more pedestrians and better lighting than the streets above, we were even safer walking there, though the area we were in was pretty safe already.

The next morning we showered, dressed, and staggered off to drop off the rental car and catch the shuttle to the airport. Many hours and three time zones later, after grabbing a quick pseudo-breakfast at the Indianapolis airport and a quick sandwich in Salt Lake, we arrived home in Portland -- at lunch time. It's time travel. We don't bother to figure it out. We eat when we can when we're in transit, and eat when we're hungry when we get home, then go to bed and get up on normal time.

And now we're home. We picked up the cats at their cat hotel (the cat round-up there was only slightly easier than the round-up we had trying to crate them to get them there), fed ourselves at a restaurant downtown, and now we're sweltering in 100+ degree heat, waiting for the air to cool down enough to open the windows. The kitties, once they settled down, were happy to see us.

Indiana Vacation Part 1: In which we meet some knitters

We're back!

Flying from Oregon to Indiana certainly takes less time than a road trip -- which we've done in the past, when the boys were young -- but somehow it's just as grueling. Lugging luggage, getting through security, sitting in a seat sized for the average toddler for hours on end... blah. Yes, it's better than traveling by covered wagon, but I really, really can't wait for the transporter beam to be invented.

Speaking of security, my 9 inch bamboo HiyaHiya needles didn't even get noticed, let alone raise any TSA eyebrows. And as for those items in the top picture? Those are not just a box of dental floss and a box of floss threaders for cleaning under bridgework. They are also a TSA-proof yarn cutter and a TSA-proof darning needle for doing kitchener stitch at the toe of a sock. Seriously! I was pondering what I was going to do for just such items while I was brushing my teeth and there was the answer just sitting there on the bathroom counter.

So for the journey out we took Continental, which flew us from Portland to Houston and then to Indianapolis for a total of something around 6 or 7 hours in the air. Between that at the hour-and-a-half it takes to get to the airport and a little airport waiting (very little -- we had mere minutes to grab carry-on food at Houston before boarding began), I got this much done on my Tidal Wave socks with Stephania's Pirate's Cove yarn:

After hours and hours in the air, we got a rental car in Indianapolis (a mere Toyota Corolla, not the cool PT Cruiser we'd requested, wah) and drove 2 1/2 hours to my mother-in-law's house, which lies almost directly between Renessalaer and DeMotte. We rolled in at about half past midnight and staggered off to bed.

The very next day, the question came up: "What do you want to do today?" The only thing on my agenda was to visit Sheep's Clothing in Valparaiso, the only yarn shop in the region. Coincidentally, my paternal grandfather was born and raised in Valparaiso, so I had double motive to visit.

The storefront looked promising:

And the insides were even better! Here's Loretta, my sweet mum-in-law, admiring the wool. She's not a knitter herself, but found several finished items that she liked. Ideas for Christmas! (And she's totally knitworthy.)

My hubby checks out our route to a pizza joint and our way home on the GPS while others shop and knit. We sat a spell while I knit a bit, and learned that there was a regular knitting meet-up the next day. More good stuff to do!

And of course I couldn't get out of there without some souvenir yarn -- some Wildfoote and some Koigu -- and a new book.

I used the rental car and the GPS to find my way back to Sheep's Clothing the next day and met up with a big group of lovely knitters, all very welcoming. We knit and chatted and had a terrific time. Hullo, Sheep's Clothing gang! Thanks for the nice time!

On the way home I stopped at a blueberry farm to try the local produce. Lovely weather, no? No matter -- the ground was dry and the rain was very much needed. Now look at that horizon. For me, the webfoot born and raised in Oregon, the horizon just doesn't look finished without a mountain range in the distance. Takes some getting used to. For Indiana people, on the other hand, having those mountains around would take getting used to, as they might feel hemmed in.

The blueberries, however, didn't take any getting used to at all. Mmmm, sweet and tasty!

Lest this post get too picture-heavy, I'll continue in Part 2 with some kids and some kitties.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

She blinded ME with SCIENCE!

So one "brainless" sock was done, and one more needed done for a pair, for we shan't have any second sock syndrome here! The sock is biasing a little, alas. I'm not sure if it's the yarn or the pattern.

The remaining ball of yarn, though, seemed small. Very small. Too small for a second sock? Really? I know I added two more cable twists to the leg since I wanted a longer leg than the pattern called for. But how much longer was too much longer?

Only one thing to do. Without cutting the thread, I took the sock and the remaining ball in for analysis.

Sock: 35.73 grams.

Ball: 61.76 grams.
Hoorah! Plenty on the ball for the second sock, plus quite a bit left over. Just one of the unanticipated benefits of teaching science!

With the quantities established, I got a good start on the second sock while sitting and knitting with fellow Ravellers on Saturday. Not bad for about three hours of work, starting with the cast-on (and re-doing the cast on after realizing I'd started knitting it on the wrong side):

Tomorrow, though, we're getting on a jet plane and flying off to exciting rural northwest Indiana. We'll land in Indianapolis, rent a car, and drive to my mother-in-law's house which lies almost directly between Renessalaer and DeMott. Corn on the right side of the road, soybeans on the left, mile after mile... ah, but just to get wild and crazy, someone will put the soybeans on the right and the corn on the left. Exciting times.

There will be very little blog updating while we're there. The internet has been heard of in that region, but rarely spotted. Ah, well. We'll put up with it all to see my darlin' mum-in-law.

Now, to make sure I get through the TSA gantlet with my knitting in hand, I decided to leave "brainless" at home, not wanting to risk my sharp metal Addi turbos getting deemed a possible weapon, either because of their sharpness or the length of the cable. While the TSA page says it should be okay, and I've actually gotten metal straights through security, I'd rather be safe than sorry.

So I got out some of Stephania's yarn, in a colorway called Pirate's Cove, and cast on Tidal Wave on my lovely new Hiya Hiay 9-inch cable needles that I ordered from Y2Knit:

The cable is short but super-flexible, and the tiny needle tips are engineered to actually function when knitting in the round. It'll take a little getting used to, but I think I'll be able to whiz around the sock with these nifty little needles. Happy, happy! I have a second set so I can switch to two-needle knitting when I get to the toe, or if knitting in the round on these really is uncomfortable. I can't imagine these little toothpicks-on-a-thread setting off any alarm bells in security.

Will it be enough knitting? I don't suppose I'd normally knit a pair of socks in a week, but this is vacation time and there will be lots of knitting time in the plane and in the car. Just in case I do, and just in case we don't get all the way up to Valparaiso to the only knit shop within easy driving distance, I'll also throw in another ball of sock yarn and a spare pattern.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

One Brainless Blurple down, and some Friday Finds

One "brainless" sock in the Blurple colorway is finished, from the magic cast-on toe to the Russian bind-off at the top.

The journey has been anything but "brainless." I made a comment to that effect on the Ravelry page for this pattern, noting to others who want to use the pattern to pay close attention at the transitions from one section to another. The designer wrote back saying that was why the pattern was called "brainless" and not Brainless. Get it? It's like calling the 300 lb linebacker "Tiny" or a bald guy "Curly."

Hahahaha. Yeah, I'm laughing. Still, the sock is very nice, and I expect the second will be easier, now that I know some of the pitfalls.

And now for some Friday Finds to entertain you as the week comes to a close:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Case of the Misplaced Purls

It was a dark night in the knitting bag.

Suddenly a scream rang out. Actually, it was more like a, "Gaaaah! $@# of a &!%*^ argh argh!" but it got the point across.

Only one thing could make a mild-mannered knitter sound like a salty old sailor in a freestyle cussing contest. One glance down a long winding cable told it all: two misplaced purls, standing out as plain as a rusty pickup in the yacht club parking lot.

It was going to take some work to get that case straightened out. At first I thought I'd have to do the ol' rip 'n tear, a visit to the frog pond if you know what I mean. But that seemed pretty ham-handed, and I'd lose a lot of ground just to gain those two purls. There had to be a better way.

I put the ol' noggin to the problem and before long, the light went on upstairs. Of course! Visions of ladders danced through my skull, or rather, one twisty ladder leading straight to those misplaced purls. If I were careful, I might just make it without losing any more time. Quietly I worked my way across until I was right over the purls... then dropped... and dropped... and dropped. Bam! I hit 'em hard and rubbed 'em out.

But that left a laddery mess to deal with. I called on Red to help me out, to lift some of my old work out of the mess.

Red's partner was a bit of, well, a hooker you might say, but the two of them went straight to work, knitting up the ravl'd sleeve of care as the ol' bard said:

Halfway through the job, Red proved a pretty slippery character. But Clover came along, and with a nothing but a wooden look, took over the job.

Under, over, around, and up the ladder Clover and the hooker went until they'd reached the top.

That finished it, leaving me happy as a cat in a catnip factory. Case solved.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

New project, and more weekend finds

It's blue, it's purple, it's Blurple, some lovely merino sock yarn I got from Stephania who runs Three Fates Knitting on Etsy. Now that the Dragon Breath socks are done, I cast on these using the Brainless sock pattern from Yarnissima.

I'm still waiting for the part where it becomes "brainless." The sock looks simple enough, but the pattern is making me feel brainless! Once I figure out what's going on in each section I can usually carry on from there, but it's getting from section to section where I'm going, "What? Um, where? How?"

Still, I only started these last weekend during a 4th of July barbecue, and finished turning the heel and doing up the heel flap and started on the leg this afternoon while sitting with the knitting group while trading TMI labor and child-rearing stories (always a hazard in any group where there are pregnant women and mothers of children of all ages). I hope no one else was listening too closely.

And now some new fiber-related finds on the net:

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Hoorah! Dragons for the 4th!

Check out these dragons!

Yes, the Dragon Breath socks in Malabrigo are finally finished. Last night I sat down to finish the toe on the second sock and wove the ends in. They came out quite nice, I think, though the second sock, as so often happens, came out a teensy bit larger. Why is it we so often knit more loosely on the second sock?

Ignore the lawn that needs mowing and the glaring whiteness of leg and admire the swirly goodness of the Dragon Breath sock lace!

Now, for a patriotic bit. Those of you in the U.S., put on your red, white, and blue, grab a flag, and sing along as the Muppets butcher... er perform the Stars and Stripes Forever!


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