30 July, 2008

Boys and Babes

A couple of days ago, I decided it was Time. I did a sweep of the house and came up with this:
A pile of yarn and projects that - after 2 episodes of Cast-On - looked like this:
Yes, that's the yarn formerly known as a Tangled Yoke Sweater on the right. I ripped it out with only a few tears and a shot of tequila; it happens to be the only DK weight yarn I own, and I've decided to re-purpose it for something - what, I'm not sure yet.

That evening I also skeined up the remaining 6 balls of the Valley Yarns Williamstown and threw them into the dye pot along with the blue parts of my Ribbi Cardi. The yarn took the dye beautifully and I'm quite pleased. It's only a bit darker, and I didn't save any original to compare, but we've moved out of the 70's somewhat:

The sweater pieces went back in for an extra few shades yesterday afternoon, and I'll block them later today.

I also finished up these little booties for Mer's Bump:

Seed Stitch Shoes, 56 yds.
"Three Dancers" merino/tencel from Zen Yarn Garden

I have been struggling with this yarn for weeks. I've ripped it out of at least 2 socks and shrieked at it throughout this tiny project, and I don't feel bad saying that I officially HATE it. I didn't particularly like the colors, and I've since learned that while the lovely Roxanne at ZYG has a great talent for dyeing, her color sense and mine don't really do the hand jive, if you know what I mean. But the colors are totally secondary - see above re. dyepot - to the handle of the yarn itself. It's held up well to the ripping, and it's got a nice sheen to it, but it feels like knitting with plastic. The stitches seem to press away from one another instead of snugging up together. There is very little bounce to it, but I'll try washing the shoes with the laundry this afternoon and see what happens. They're a bit big for a newborn anyway, so it's no loss if they felt.

I caught a glimpse of
Sock Pr0n's pile-o-yarn for charity knitting yesterday, and it inspired me to begin the knitting for veterans that I planned a month ago. In just a few hours - and episodes of The West Wing - I managed to whip out this little beanie:

The Boy Hat (Ravelry Link)
106 yds. Plymouth Encore

It was so fast! I've never made a hat before, and I was amazed at how quickly it went. I think there are many more of these in my future; I have a bureau full of Wool-Ease I had intended to turn into sweaters, but acrylic doesn't like my body chemistry.

And last but not least, I got some of the
Pigeon Roof Studios fiber I requested! This is all pre-Social Pressure, so don't freak out. But you may, if you like, revel in the beauty of this new roving that's aaaaaaaall mine:
"Persimmon" SW merino, 4 oz

"Helleborus" SW merino, 4.1 oz

"Artichoke" SW merino, 4 oz.

Here's a little hint for anyone wanting to grab some of this lovely, smushy, gorgeousness for their very own: Krista likes to upload in the middle of the night, and she's on Pacific Time. That's all I'm sayin'.

And for those who are counting, that's TWO finishes in one day! Hurrah!

28 July, 2008

C'est Finis!

Have you ever had a day where you feel like no matter how fast you go, you're still slow? I had one of those on Thursday; I only finished 13g of singles in 3 hours - clearly it wasn't my best spinning day ever. Then on Friday I took the train up to the city, where ManCandy met me after work and we spent the night with Elizabeth and Jer, who are freshly returned from their honeymoon. (Long overdue wedding pictures here, by the way. It was lovely!) On Saturday we had breakfast - E is an excellent cook - and went to the Kabuki Theater in Japantown to see The Dark Knight. People, this theater is awesome. If you get the pre-assigned seats in the balcony, you have access to the bar just outside. The seats are cushy and have tables between every two; I was suitably impressed and had a lovely time, aided by the judicious application of San Francisco's own Anchor Steam. Plus, the movie kicked as much ass as I wanted it too - all in all a great afternoon.

We got home around 9, and I still had 37g of roving left for bobbin #3. Given Thursday's performance, I was less than optimistic about getting completed yarn by Sunday night, but when I sat down at the wheel, I had a good evening and finished up by about 12:30. In the morning I had this to look forward to:

And by early evening I had myself two bobbins full of yarn.
(picture from this morning)

I wound it off into 2 hanks, and ended up with this:
~694 yds., 8oz sw merino from Crown Mountain Farms,
"Under the Boardwalk"

Artsy closeup

There aren't as many yards as the Tobacco Road, but I did manage to weigh this one out better; here's what is left after the first bobbin ran out - not really even enough to chain-ply into anything at all!

And so ends both my weekend and the Tour de Fleece. I didn't do as much as other people, but I'm pretty chuffed that I shaved nearly 23 days off the time it took me to complete my first bump of Crown Mountain roving! The yardage will put me over my 5-mile mark for the 12-Mile Quest as well, hurrah!

Last but certainly not least, ManCandy and I had our first anniversary yesterday. We decided to stay home, but we did dress up and have steaks by candlelight and a little Ella Fitzgerald. All in all, a delightful evening.

24 July, 2008

A Brief Respite

I've taken the last several days - maybe 10 or so - off of serious craft work. Not because I wanted to or even because I had to; it just.. happened. And somewhere in the mix, I lost both my knitting and my spinning mojos. If you see them, please send them on home with the nearest hot police- or fireman. Thank you.

In other news, the Social Pressure Experiment is going well. I've hit a bit of a snag in terms of a baby knitting project, however. My friend Meredith is having a baby girl on Oct. 9, and her shower is the 23rd of August, so I've begun my knitting for both mom and baby. I was going to make a Seraphim Shawl for Mer out of the Petals sock yarn from The Knittery, but then I realized that it should really be washable, so it's getting frogged and re-started at some point. But I digress - that wasn't the snag.

Mer, Elizabeth and I are all on board with the idea of ridiculous baby hats. There is a finite period of time in which you may dress your children as strangely as you choose, and then it's over, and you had better have taken a million pictures to show their eventual prom dates. After all, what's prom without the requisite parental embarrassment? To that end, I'm planning a slew of (okay probably more like 3-4) silly baby hats, and I wanted to start with this one. I have the perfect purple yarn, but nothing that looks remotely like pie crust resides in my stash. And for good reason, since I would never ever wear that color, nor foist it off onto someone else. It's really only good for one thing: pie crust. My dilemma is this: does this fall under the category of Project Scope Issues? I haven't started yet, so I'm not certain. I'll have to do a bit more thinking.

In the mean time, I whipped out these little beauties:
Pink Sky Socks, 50 yds.

They're the first pair of learning socks from Cat Bordhi's book, and I love them. So cute! So tiny! Even ManCandy squeaked a little when I held them up. I haven't tried them on the cats yet, but I think there might be a Puss in Boots photo op in here somewhere. I'm also going to take the opportunity to recommend the short rows explanation from Bordhi's book - while some of the instructions aren't quite as clear as I would like them to be (I'm looking at YOU, Bartholomew and your so-called Tantalizing Socks!), the short rows section is excellent. This is the first time I've ended up with no holes in my short row heels, and I'm thoroughly excited by the prospect.

Here's the second learning sock, Coriolis:
Both pairs are made of the Panda Silk I bought for Sock Madness, and I'm pretty sure I could make matching mom-sized socks if I did them toe-up. Or maybe me-sized socks. We'll see.

I also finished the Stutter Socks:
Stutter Socks, Regia Silk 4-ply, 436 yds.

The heels are a bit big, so I may rip them back a bit to tighten up the instep, but then again, I might be too lazy. Anyway, they're done! Woo! That's one more thing on my list of things to finish this summer.

I've been working my way up the sleeve of my Ribbi Cardi, but it's boring to photograph so no pictures there. To be honest, most of my pictures are boring lately anyhow, so really it's no surprise. If I got my act together, I could probably finish the knitting of my Ribbi in one evening, and all that would be left is the zipper. Ahem. This sounds like a job for the train up to SF tomorrow, except we'll be spending the night and if I finish the 1/3 of a sleeve I have left, I will have no knitting. Crap.

Clearly it is time to cast on another project. One that doesn't suffer from the miserable pattern-writing SNAFU that is Cat Bordhi's book. More on that later, but for now, a perplexing mystery:

The stool didn't live in that place originally, but I'm not asking too many questions.


A couple of weeks ago, I had an interview with A Lovely Family. I adored them at first sight; they are uniformly bright, fun, and seem refreshingly sane. Apparently they feel the same way about me, so they offered me a job. This position will differ significantly from my current work at The Sanitarium:

The hours end at 6:30pm or when a parent comes home, whichever comes first. 
My job is not to raise someone else's children, but to be home when the kids (there are two) get off the bus, to make sure they eat, do homework and get to their activities. 
The parents are lovely, and the mom knits (yay!).

And perhaps most tellingly for a family whom I don't know very well yet, they kept their last nanny for 10 years - in contrast to the 9 month record at my current job. 

Today I'm giving The Crazy Family my 3-week notice. Think good thoughts for me -  despite my glee at finding a new family to work with, my heart tugs at the thought of Bella, who has been consistently abandoned by everyone around her. Poor darling, it's not her fault, and yet she is the one who will suffer.

15 July, 2008

Social Pressure

Clearly, my 12-Mile Quest has been good for my finishing but not so good for my yarn acquisition habits. Jasmin and I have decided that the most healthy way to break the yarn-buying habit is through mutual agreement and - you guessed it - social pressure. So, here are the rules. If you'd like to join in, find yourself a local partner who would likely be at the yarn store when you are, or at the very least online over IM to remind you to close the damn Etsy window, and off you go! 

The Rules of Social Pressure

As of midnight, July 14th, no new fiber, no new yarn until Stitches West.

An even trade (50g for 50g) is ok. So is buying that last ball of yarn so you can finish a project. Project scope issues shouldn’t be penalized.

Anything ordered in advance doesn’t count.

No gift yarn or roving can be accepted UNLESS it's for a birthday or anniversary or legit holiday. (My birthday is November 23rd, Tika’s is December 6th.)

Tools, patterns, and books are not considered stash, and thus, will not be included in The Agreement.

The Monterey Wool auction is being grandfathered in, as it was planned months ago.

Accepting donations of yarn to make charity items is acceptable. Charity knitting must be finished within an 8-week window of receipt of the yarn.

If you buy something new, you have to get rid of equivalent weight/yardage out of the stash.

For FO’s, a bottle of wine will be given (under $20) to the finisher by their partner.

08 July, 2008

I'll Pass, Thanks.

I have stuff in various levels of completion! First, the Ribbi Cardi. After careful measuring, I have discovered that my hips are not the same size as my bust. They are, in point of fact, several inches larger, which tends to make my store-bought sweaters either ride up my hips or sag in the chest. I have made a quietly personal (and now painfully public, apparently) decision to buy clothing for the size that I am instead of the size I was four years ago or the size I want to be in 6 months; a decision which also affects the size of sweaters I choose to make for myself. So I cast on the 42" size for the bottom of the Ribbi Cardi and slowly decreased up to the 38" size. I'm fairly certain it will fit perfectly, and if it's a wee bit off the double-pull zipper should take care of any slight discrepancies between my hips and my tape measure. I know this, because if you look at the bottom of the Ribbi Cardi model, there is no doubt in my mind that, were the zipper fully zipped, the ribbing would pull in a generally unattractive fashion.

So anyway. I'm done with the back and working my way up the left front:

I will probably over-dye this a darker blue; in the ball it's not quite as ugly 70's blue as it is knitted up.

Also, I got my Black Bunny Fiber Club 2 shipment! I don't mind telling you that I was a little stressed when I heard that the shipments went out while I was away from home for a week. Things around here tend to disappear if they're not nailed down, and the mental picture of some gangster thug's face while opening a stolen package of bright green wool didn't quite make up for the fact that I wanted the wool for my own. The stress was compounded when I arrived home last night to a package on the stoop for ManCandy but not for me. Thankfully, it was squished into our tiny mailbox with the rest of the mail, and both Mr. Darcy and I got to approve of it fully.
Black Bunny Fibers "Sonata," 100% Wenseydale, 8oz.
I'm not sure if Carol at BBF knows that my wheel is a Sonata, but I found the name amusing nonetheless.

Also, I finished spinning and plying my Tobacco Road!

CMF SW merino, "Tobacco Road," 903 yds, 8 oz.

The two large skeins are 3-ply from 3 bobbins, and the left skein is the navajo-plied remnants after the first bobbin of singles ran out. Clearly next time I will have to weigh out better, but since I have enough in the navajo skein for heels and toes, I'm happy. The yarn is a bit hard with not much bounce, but I'm hoping a good Soak and hanging in the sun will help out a bit. Next time, I'm going to attempt to put more air in my singles - watch and see how that works out!

You'd think that I would begin on the Easter Egg I have half-finished for Jasmin, but no. I'm in full-fledged Crown Mountain Farm mode, so last night I hauled out my (sizeable and hardly dented) CMF stash and came out with this one:

CMF SW merino, "Under the Boardwalk" 8oz (carefully weighed out)
I haven't decided yet whether I want to 3-ply it from 3 bobbins or whether I want to navajo-ply it to maintain the colors, but I don't have to make an actual decision until I've finished with the first two chunks. This is my new Tour de Fleece project: to spin up, ply, and finish this yarn before July 27. I think I'm going to have to take my wheel to the Campbell Relay for Life on the 12th. And speaking of worthy causes...


It turns out that
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee isn't doing the Knitting Olympics this year. When I heard the news, Jasmin and I were on IM, and I pish-tushed the Yarn Harlot's humanitarian revulsion for China, saying that the Olympics are supposed to transcend that sort of thing, and besides I plan to knit while watching my favorite Olympic sport: the equestrian 3-day eventing.

Three years ago, my mom's friends Cevie and Don traveled to China to adopt a baby girl. Her name is Ana Lin, and she turns four in August. Last year, ManCandy and I met her at Cevie's house, where she was shy, retiring and generally a quiet little kit of a girl. This year, she has blossomed into a full-blown bunny - adorable, friendly and cheerful. I introduced her to my horse, Shara, to the chickens and to our decrepit Peking duck, Donald (7 years old, blind, bedraggled and still king of the roost); I helped her pick carrots from mom's garden to feed the horse and my brother Gabe taught her to throw a ball for Sadie, our golden retriever.
Blurry but cute.

When she asked what kind of meat was on the ribs we ate for dinner and was told "pork," she did a creditable impression of a pig, complete with pretend rooting over her plate - much to the delight of me, my brother, ManCandy and HeteroLifemate. Possibly also to the embarrassment of her mother, but I have a feeling her dad taught her that particular gesture. She fetched things from the kitchen, actually helped with dinner (instead of the expected "helping" with dinner), and was generally an utterly adorable child.

She asked me about my spinning wheel, and when I told her it was for making yarn, she replied, "Oh, from wool!" I blinked several times - it's not often one gets to be in the presence of non-Muggle toddlers - and she seized the opportunity to ask me to teach her to spin. With such an inducement, how could I not?

I let her treadle with no wool on the wheel, and then let her treadle while I worked some wool up into a quick thick-and-thin navajo-plied length - perhaps 4 yards or so, which she took home to make, I later learned, a necklace and bracelet for her dad. She was fascinated and excited, and overall I decided that it was a fabulous way to spend the first day of the Tour de Fleece.

While Ana Lin was treadling away, I reached up to fix her hair bows, and noticed that her head was oddly shaped. The back of her head is flat, with nearly square corners - the result of spending the first year of her life on her back in a Chinese orphanage. Her
actual skull is malformed because she spent so much time laying down - and not only laying down; she was completely swaddled and unable to move. For an entire year. This three-year-old girl has post-traumatic stress disorder to the tune of a medic alert bracelet because of the way she was (not)treated for the first 12 months of her life - her mother told me that she was lucky to be picked up once per day. As a baby. What a disgrace to modern "civilization."

So I publicly rescind my pooh-poohing of the Yarn Harlot's reservations regarding the Beijing
Olympics. Sometimes we.. errr, I, rather... get so wrapped up in what I want to do that I don't stop to think if it's right or not. But I'm a knitter and a spinner and an artist, as well as a teacher and a nanny and a sister/daughter. All seven of those things make Stephanie right about China and its attitudes toward human life - not to mention rights - and I think it's time we stood up and made a bigger deal about it. I, too, will not be participating in the Knitting Olympics this year, and while I will probably still watch the 3-day eventing, it will be with a heavy heart. I know that as protests go it's no more than a squeak, but it's what I've got and I'm going to use it.