25 August, 2008

Five Minute Blog Post

I know what you're thinking. "Stop whining, Tikabelle! Show us the pictures of yarn and stuff!"

Your wish is my command.

I finished the Baby Mama Shawl, but it's really just a Baby Shawl. Behold in all its tiny glory!

However, I did manage to finish some baby items for Mer's shower, and since Baby Cinnamon isn't due until the 9th of October, I've got some time for a do-over - I'm thinking a plain something from EZ's February Almanac. Here's my first BSJ:

It turned out pretty cute! I heart the buttons. Yardage to come soon.

I've been craving lace lately, and now that the Baby Shawl is done I can move on to a new project. Since my good friend Kate is moving to Prague in September, I found her a lovely red Zephyr yarn and it will become... something not what it is right now:

That, for the uninitiated plebeian population, is the beginnings of a Secret of Chrysopolis shawl. And while it's absolutely lovely, it's more lace than I can handle right now. I may make a Branching Out Stole (3 pattern repeats across), but it's TBD at the moment. Lordy, I do love that color - I think I may have found my eventual reward for the Social Pressure Experiment in a cone of this lovely Cinnabar from JaggerSpun.

Moving on! Only 2 minutes left!

I've repurposed the Panda Silk from Sock Madness into a pair of No-Purl Monkey Socks:
That's sock #1; school started on Monday and as a consequence I am mostly done with the foot of sock #2. Hurrah for knitting during lectures!

And this, my friends, is what I got in trade from Aija for my 6-ish balls of Lion's rand Chunky:
128 g of sparkly, silky Chai batts from Enchanted Knoll. Don't tell her, but I think I got the better end of the deal!

I also obtained some scraps of yarn from Jasmin to add to the Baby Yarn Collection, and yay! I won this in Omly's blog contest awhile ago. Getting pre-Social Pressure stuff in the mail is always a treat.

That's about it! I have to head out to work for the Refreshingly Normal family now, but as soon as I get into the swing of getting up at 7 instead of noon, life should iron out nicely. Insert blissful sigh of relief here.

Terminal Morning Sickness

I am not a morning person. 

This simple fact has been corroborated across the years by my mother, father, brothers, sister, friends, and subsequent boyfriends (ahem) - pretty much anyone who has ever tried to wake me up before my internal clock was ready. One of the first lessons I learned at college was that 8am was no longer a viable time for me to expect to be at class, followed shortly by the more do-able but still dubious 9am during my Lost Theatre Years. 

Mornings do strange things to me. In my house, pre-caffeine statements are treated much like the statements of an alcoholic on a binge, and it's not unusual for ManCandy to refuse to speak to me entirely until I've had a cup of tea or coffee. 

All of this could be chalked up to laziness, a love of warm beds and cuddly cats, or simply a refusal to join the workaday world, if it weren't for one thing: the morning sickness. 

I've never been pregnant and don't ever intend to be so - the particulars of which we can go into if you like, but really, my mind is pretty made up after 7 siblings, growing up in my stepmother's daycare and being both a teacher and a nanny - but if there's one thing I understand, it's the vertigo and nausea of morning sickness. If I get vertical before the sun is high in the sky, the contents of my stomach are as likely as not to end up elsewhere.

Coffee is a shaky bet. Tea less so, but generally have to I warm up with a simple cup of hot water before moving on to anything that makes me marginally human. Food of any sort is strictly verboten - even Gigi's cure-all yogurt - for a minimum of an hour or two. It's a chore being me before 9 in the morning; I suppose it's the price I pay for being this fabulous the rest of the day.

But this semester, which will hopefully be my second-to-last for some time, I'm taking 9am classes. And in order for this to be my second-to-last semester, I need straight A's - none of my usual half-assed attempts to attend class followed by a slow decline into only showing up for tests will serve. 

Just the thought is making my head swim. Maybe I'll just get a bartending gig and go back to bed; education can't be that important, can it?

23 August, 2008

Our County Fair is a Great County Fair

Last Sunday was the wool auction at the Monterey County Fair. Mom and I headed down to our favorite coastal town early in the morning and met up with some local-to-us celebrity podcasters, bloggers and of course their hangers-on.

Now, Jasmin and I had been planning this little jaunt since we became friends back in February, and of course she'd been planning it for even longer with people she's known forever, like her mom. It was the one event that occurred after the inception of the Social Pressure Experiment that we grandfathered in, and boy am I glad I did. It was an absolute treat.

Mom and I met up with Krista of the illustrious Pigeon Roof Studios and Aija of both sockpr0n and zer0 stitch markers, dug through a bunch of fleeces to choose our favorites, and settled down to figure out how much money we could possibly spend on raw fleece. I took some fleecepr0n pictures a la Gretchen:
Pretty, eh? I like my camera!
I also fell in love with this one:
It's an oatmeal merino from Terry Mendenhall, and it went for more than I had brought with me in cash - this little beauty netted Ms. Mendenhall over $140, and more power to her, I say! In what might be considered by some as a stroke of luck, Terry and my mom are acquaintances and the Mendenhall farm is only about half an hour away from my mother's house. I'm not sure I fall into the "how lucky is that?!?" category, since I assuaged my pride by winning these two lovely fleeces instead:
A variegated oatmeal merino from Patti Sexton, and

a grey California Variegated Mutant from Fredine Johansen.

Jasmin and I are also going to split another of Patti's merino fleeces, giving me 16.5 POUNDS of raw fleece to add to my already overflowing closet of proto-clothing. Perhaps I'll wait until spring to pay Mendenhall Farm a little visit, hmm?

Sherri of Morro Bay Fleece Works was there with her trailer, so most of us simply left our raw fleeces with her.
Among the three of us, we walked away with 17 fleeces - enough to keep even the most industrious spinner busy for a significant amount of time.

After the auction was over, we wandered the fair, split the requisite funnel cake 3 ways, found some adorable alpacas,
and made a friend:

Mom and I headed down to Pacific Grove to see if the quilt shop was still open, but it wasn't. We also drove by the little house she lived in Back in the Day; oddly it was standing empty with no For Rent sign on it. Every time we go to Monterey, my mother waxes a little rhapsodic about the lovely times she had when she lived there. I suspect she may have been a bit of a rebel when she was young, which explains where I get my ornery streak.

And speaking of ornery streaks, it has come to our attention that while Mr. Darcy is perfectly happy to vamp for our neighbors' pets and chin scratches through the porch netting, Panza is of a more territorial character. According to several of our neighbors, he has been hissing and growling as people walk by, earning him the nickname around the complex of "Dragon."
Where did we go wrong?

15 August, 2008

A Clean Bill of Health

Yesterday was my last day of work at the Sanitarium. Bella was really, really upset - even though she knew beforehand - but it went as well as it could have under the circumstances.

I'm sincerely looking forward to my new job with the as-yet-nicknameless family. This afternoon I'm heading over to say hello and meet the outgoing nanny, with whom I will be working/training all next week. The family just returned from a trip to Israel, and coincidentally enough from the same kibbutz in Israel that I visited with my father back in 1993, so looking at the pictures should be a treat.

I'm also looking forward to having my evenings free, cooking my own food again, and regular hours with a brother/sister pair of siblings. Something about having siblings makes children easier to deal with somehow - they have a built-in play group, and seem to learn interpersonal communication much more quickly than only children. I also very much like the parents, and I'm quite exited about having a new, more stable direction to head in.

11 August, 2008

Girl's Weekend, Part 2

So when I left you last, Mom and I had just hit up Fibers, where I walked away with a much smaller bill than usual - clearly this Social Pressure thing is working! From there we went to see Mamma Mia!, which was just as entertaining the second time around as the first. I'm a die-hard musical fan as well as an ABBA junkie (shut up, it's good for singing in the car!), so this one was a slam dunk for me. About 5 minutes in - somewhere in the middle of Honey, Honey - Mom leaned over and said, "I think I'll own this soon." To which I replied, "that's exactly what I said!" Clearly we're related. 

My judgement of musicals is pretty simple: did I want to sing along? Buy the soundtrack? Dance in the aisles? Live in that world? A resounding Yes! to all four puts Mamma Mia! solidly in my Happy Place. When I grow up, I will move into this musical with speed and alacrity, thankyouverymuch. It helps that I've known the words since I could squeak. Oh, and the gorgeous Greek scenery made me choke up a little, but that's a whiny, why-can't-I-travel post for a different day.* 

Mom is a consummate gardener. She's one of those people who can look sideways at a plant and it bursts into flower - a talent I envy, but don't want to work for, hence my struggling Back Porch Ficus (now with 5 leaves!). She planted something like 24 tomato plants this year, everything from Goliaths to tiny little Sun Sugars, and they are all delicious. Given last year's spectacular success with spaghetti sauce, we filled three baskets with garden bounty and set to work:

(Don't they just make your mouth water? They were sooooo goooood!) We blanched, skinned, seeded and mushed tomatoes for nearly an hour and a half, then chopped onions and enough garlic to fell a horse, dumped in some wine - what was left of the bottle after an hour and a half, anyway - and a few peppers from mom's garden in. Pierre supervised from the Observation Deck:

Then we simmered it on the stove for a bit and dumped it into the crock pot to finish cooking over night. In the morning, the house smelled heavenly - if not breakfast-like - and I came into the kitchen to see this:

Looks delicious, doesn't it? Deep red, properly reduced, and tasting like absolute shit. Sickly sweet, then with a bitter aftertaste that stuck in the nose and the back of the throat; it was a 12-hour Labor of Love, fit only for pigs. I have some idea of what happened - something about red onions instead of white, and a minor scorching while over the stove - but this will be chalked up as one of my Great Kitchen Failures, of which there are thankfully not many. I did have fun cooking with my mom though, so it wasn't time entirely wasted. 

On Sunday morning, after we'd made coffee and cleared the taste of the Spaghetti Sauce from Hell out of our systems, I ventured outside to get some pictures of my mother's lovely flowers. I managed the Koi Pond 

and some lovely flowers 

before the sprinkler system turned on and sent me scurrying out of the yard. Then it was time to go, and I spent the train ride home reading the 5th book in the Outlander series. ManCandy picked me up at the train station and we headed up to a friend's house for dinner. All in all, a highly satisfying weekend. 

And in sort-of-but-not-really-related news, I have a few finishes! Pictures still to come, but here's one:

"Torch Island," 100% merino from Copperpot Woolies
255 yds, 2-ply, worsted thick'n'thin

*I know why I can't travel: because I keep buying yarn instead of saving my pennies. That's not the point! 

Girl's Weekend, Part 1

This weekend my stepfather was away from home and I had very few plans, so on Friday morning I hopped a train up to my mom's house for a weekend with just the two of us. We haven't done anything like this since I-don't-know-when, and it was just the perfect amount of time to spend together before we got on each other's nerves. On Thursday night, I had a crisis figuring out what crafty stuff to take, and ended up taking pretty much everything: 

For those keeping track at home, that's (counter clockwise) the completed-but-not-blocked-or-seamed Theodora Sweater, yarn with which to seam said sweater, the BSJ and book, the also-completed-but-not-blocked-or-seamed Ribbi Cardi, Veteran's yarn, and the Baby Mama Shawl. In the middle are sundry cables and needles for transforming Veteran's yarn into Veteran's Hats. That, my friends, is enough project to last for MUCH more than the 48 hours I ended up spending with my mom. 

But train knitting is good for the soul. 

I knitted on the platform and played with my fancy camera,

I knitted on the train and made it through several inches of the Baby Mama Shawl, but no pictures as of yet. Mom and I also stopped at her local fabric store, which had just moved into a bigger location. Much of the fabric that used to be in the back room is now on display, and I succumbed to the siren call of $2/yard cotton:

Much of which became this later in the evening:

These will eventually work their way into a bathmat, but it's still marinating as to how. I don't think this counts toward yarn buying, but I'm not certain, so to hedge my bets I'm giving Aija the chunky weight Wool-Ease I mentioned the other day. The next day we hit up my mom's LYS:

This is the place I bought the Silky Tweed for the ill-fated Tangled Yoke Cardi, and I was lucky enough to pick up the last two skeins of the dyelot I originally bought, along with 2 skeins of  deep chocolate brown. This definitely falls under project scope, as I now have 13 skeins of Silky Tweed with which to begin the Road to Avalon hoodie from the newest Knitscene (also in my possession). Shop owner Allison is a lovely woman. She's a bit brusque at first, but there is no malice or attitude behind it - that's simply how she is, and while I was a little put off by her abruptness originally, I value her opinion more every time I go to her store. Plus, she carries a variety of things that my LYS doesn't, so I can support two shops guilt-free. Anyway, Allison and I worked out a way to make sure I have complete control over the new sweater, but it will take some mathematical gymnastics to get there. 

I have to pause here and head to work. This is my last week with Bella; her father has asked me to continue with her once/week, but I asked for some time with my new family to think about it and to get used to the new schedule. Given the amount of stress the Crazy Family puts on my life, I'm thinking I'll say no. Soon, I hope to be as relaxed as this fellow:

06 August, 2008

Happy Anniversary to me!

Happy Anniversary to me!
Originally uploaded by TikaBelle

05 August, 2008


Today is August 5th. That means that tomorrow is August 6th, marking the beginning of the last month of my 12-Mile Quest. As I'm still working through Mile 6, this could prove... difficult, especially since I have been diligent about finishing (or ripping) my works-in-progress, and so I have very few mostly-finished pieces that I could whip out for a chunk of mileage.

I'm contemplating the addition of 3 months to the Quest, making the goal a mile of completed knitting per month, but the whole operation will require some extra thought. In the mean time, I've been playing with my new camera:
An homage to Brooklyntweed

-a Canon Rebel XT that I bought from Crazy Sarah -

and avoiding blocking my Ribbi Cardi for completely lazy and idiotic reasons: that it won't be nearly as impressive a blocking process as lace, and that I don't want to do all the measuring necessary. See? Lazy and idiotic. At least I know myself!

I finished another veteran's hat for the Knitters for Obama group on Ravelry:

Lion Brand Wool-Ease Chunky, ~80 yds.

I think this is my last chunky-weight hat. I have little bird wrists that have given me trouble since several falls on dance team back in high school - falls that were both choreographed and *ahem* unchoreographed - and I've noticed that working with anything heavier than worsted weight seems to give me problems. (Aija, do you want the rest of my charcoal chunky weight? I can get it to you on the way to Monterey if you'd like it for KFBO knitting!)

ManCandy gave me his credit card for our anniversary, which coincided nicely with the Knitpicks book sale. I have a copy of every EZ book Knitpicks carries on the way to me, along with some various needle tips and 24" cables.

I also started a Theodora Sweater (Rav Link) using the rest of the Classy I bought for BabyBean knitting. It's a clever little pattern and I like that the body is done in mostly one piece; the only seams will be for the sleeves and attaching the shoulders to the back:
Sweater Body - I'm working up the back now.
Perhaps I'll do all the sweater blocking at once when the knitting for this one is finished.

So far, the Social Pressure Experiment is going well; maybe in part because I am Dead Broke until the new job starts (less than 2 weeks! Eee!), but also because this was the little push I needed to re-examine my stash. There is a distinct lack of sport and DK weight yarn in my stash, but I have enough lace, worsted and sock-weight to last me at least until Stitches West in February - if not long after.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch more West Wing and finish off what yardage I can.

01 August, 2008

Well Vetted

Oh yes, I went there. The multiplicity of meanings in the title is mind-boggling. I can't settle on just one entendre, so you can just come up with your own.

Anyway, two more finished hats for veterans:
Wool-Ease worsted, 142 yds.
Wool-Ease Chunky, 87 yds.

And an official beginning on the Summer Shawlette from Interweave (Rav link):

Dye Trying "Hermia," sw merino fingering weight

I figured a Faroese-style shawl would be good for a mom. She won't have to fuss with it staying on her shoulders, and if she needs to whip it around for a quick baby-snack coverup, it should do nicely.

Otherwise, nothing very exciting is going on. I've ben catching up on Project Runway - bless Tivo and marathons - and knitting away. I think the Tour de Fleece sapped some of my spinning mojo, but it'll resurface soon. HeteroLifemate is coming down tomorrow to hang with ManCandy and me. Drinking and hilarity shall ensue.

And speaking of hilarity, my brother Kai is in a play! Read the description. I will not be missing this show for a variety of reasons.