30 March, 2009

The Siren Song of Solitude

ManCandy left for his brother's wedding in Florida on Thursday morning, and returned this afternoon. He's currently crashed out after having been awake for 30 hours,* so my solitary stint continues in name, at least.

I am of a melancholy disposition. Not Byronic, or even Blakesian, but I do need time alone in my own space in order to feel comfortable and calm. This need doesn't mesh well with my terminal morning sickness, as ManCandy usually leaves an hour or two before I get up and gets home before I arrive back at Chez Us. So when he is called out of town - as infrequently as it happens - I tend to hole up in my apartment and enjoy the solitude.

This weekend was no different. I spent a blissful day and a half listening to nothing but the silence, the whirring of my Sonata, and the dulcet tones of Blair Waldorf freaking out.

During the Gossip Girl marathon, I managed to finish some things. I noticed that my new system of working on one project every day is productive, but slow going. I have the sense that a lot of things will get finished all at the same time, but meanwhile I am sadly lacking in yards to add to my 12-Mile Quest total. But in addition to spinning, I finished the stranded pattern on my EZ Seamless Yoke Sweater, and I'm currently charging up the collar. I'm a little scared that it'll be too big, so I'm going to do the final decreases and then a loose bind-off so I can try it on properly. I may have to rip back, and if so, I'm going to dramatically change the top of the sweater. But that's all in the future.

For now, here's what I've actually completed!

406 yds. of natural grey Lincoln/Corridale, 2-ply

For some reason, this yarn took up WAY more room than I expected. I filled 2 bobbins unto bursting with singles, then had to do the same in order to ply it. As you can see, I had to spill over into a third bobbin:
And yet, it still only came out to 406 yards. I don't get it, but it's still a lovely yarn. It's not as soft as I would like, but I think that's partly to do with the fleece and partly to do with how I spun it. I tried to spin woolen, but there's not a huge amount of crimp here so it didn't puff up like most yarns do. And also, I really have no experience with woolen spinning, so it was an experiment all 'round. In any case, it was satisfying and I'm glad this set is done - next time around I'll put more twist in the singles in the first place so I don't have to add it later!

I also finished 4 oz of Blackberry Truffle BFL roving from Dragonfibers. I got this roving probably about a year ago, and pulled it out using a very sophisticated system: dig out the bottom-most bin of fiber, pick a number, and use whatever ends up being the (in this case) 17th thing I pull out of the tub. I'm quite happy with it!

~341 yds., 2-ply

I should really start measuring my WPI, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

In addition to all of that, I also worked on a Super Secret project (secret only because the recipient occasionally reads here). AND, on Sunday night, my good friends Jer and Elizabeth announced that they're due on October 12! I'll have to dig really deep to find something appropriate for their spawn...

* Numbers like this always make me happy that I can sleep on planes. I may not sleep deeply or well, and might occasionally have woken up with drool on my shirt, but I
can sleep. Thank goodness!

27 March, 2009

An Open Letter

Dear Fellow Apartment Complex Residents,

I hope you enjoy the pool outside my window. It is very well-maintained and set in a lovely sunny spot, to be sure. The pool furniture is even mostly of this decade, which is an improvement over most apartment pools. It is clearly a lovely spot to take your kids after school, or on a weekend afternoon. However, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of a few things.
First, the pool hours are until ten at night. This is not a suggested time, as we are grown-ups and are in bed by ten most nights. Also, the nice French-speaking people upstairs have a toddler who needs his sleep, or NO ONE sleeps. Not even us. So please, out by ten.
On a related note, the pool does not open again until nine in the morning, and this includes weekends. When your children wake you up at 6am on Saturday, please refrain from sending them down to the pool to scream. You bore them, now you have to bear them.
On another related note, if your children are screaming at the pool, take them home. If you are not there supervising them, I will seriously consider calling the police because I am tired unto death of having to yell out my window at children who are trying to a) drown one another or b) kill themselves by running around the pool.
Second - or possibly fourth - please do not have sex in the pool. Please. This relates intimately (har!) to point number three (or five):
We, of apartment six, can hear everything you say and do at the pool. Every. Little. Thing. We apologize for the inconvenience to your no-longer-private conversations, but the builders saw fit to give us single-paned windows and it's not our fault. So all those sweet nothings you drunk teenagers are whispering to one another, all those drug deals, all those midnight swims? We can hear them. Or witness them.

Thank you for your attention, and have a lovely summer! If you don't, we'll know about it.
Tikabelle and ManCandy

22 March, 2009

Put Some Spring in Your Step

Well, my lovelies, it's here. Spring, as they say, has sprung. I realized it this week on the first truly lovely day in a while when I looked out into the R-N's backyard and saw a veritable flood of tulips. I actually remembered to bring the DSLR to work the next day, and took a bunch of photos of just flowers.

I do love flowers, especially spring ones. They remind me of my mom, who has a thumb so green she just looks sideways at a plant and it grows. I think they're afraid of her.

I, on the other hand, can barely keep lucky bamboo and ficus alive. It's really rather pathetic.

However, I must say: I am proud of the garlic that is growing in the former-rose-cultivating pot. Did I not tell you about my exercise in rose cultivation? Well, ManCandy bought me a dozen gorgeous white roses for my 30th birthday in the beginning of December. After Christmas, they were still going strong in the vase, and were actually putting out new growth along the stems. Gee, I thought, wouldn't it be awesome if I could clone a rose bush or three and know exactly when I got them? Thirtieth birthday roses, how cool!

So I trotted out to Home Depot late one rainy night and - after a scare in a quiet aisle that involved a cat-sized rat, me, and a staring contest - bought rooting hormone, a pot, rose food, and dirt.

I carefully trimmed the roses like Candy recommended, put them in rooting hormone, and planted them. Then I covered them in a greenhouse of plastic wrap and put them in the warmest window in the house. Someone up there must have transposed some letters in my prayers, because within 3 days they were all rotting instead of rooting. So much for my career as a horticulturist.

For the last couple of months, the pot has sat on my kitchen counter, waiting for me to plant something brilliant in it. About a week ago, I thought it might be funny to plant a few cloves of sprouted garlic and see what happens:

Rampant growth. Garlic must be a weed, because historically, that's all I can grow.

14 March, 2009

How to Win an Argument

"Baby, where are the pan lids?"

"They're in the cupboard with the pots and pans."

"They don't go there! They go on these conveniently placed pot lid racks on the wall."

"But there's no more room on the wall. So I put the overflow in with the pans."

"Honey, there's no more room on the wall because you let the second pot lid rack fall down." 

"WHAT? I didn't let it fall down!"

"Maybe not, but you certainly didn't do your job as a man and put it back up, now, did'ja?"

Game. Set. Match.

12 March, 2009

Just a Minute

Yet another quickie today, folks!

I finished another pair of socks! And better yet, it's with yarn I bought at Stitches. THIS Stitches, even. I'm so impressed with myself.

Limeade Socks, TOFUtsies sock yarn, 247 yards

I adjusted my plain vanilla sock pattern yet again. Every time I make an adjustment, the socks get smaller and smaller; I guess I just like form-fitting footwear. I've also made some pretty significant changes to the original pattern by Cat Bordhi, so I'll write it up one of these days and see what you, my dear readers, think.

I've been clicking away at projects. I re-started my Girasole on size 4 needles, and it's so much better! The whole thing is fairly flying along, and I've had to exercise great restraint to work on anything else. It occurs to me that there is no real reason for restraint beyond wanting to savor the pattern for as long as possible, but you know how I feel about finishing big projects. And if you don't, let me tell you. I don't like it one little bit, for reasons I have yet to understand. I have no trouble finishing socks or baby garments, but for some reason the bigger pieces get to about 95% and just languish there. Maybe I'm afraid they won't be perfect, or won't fit, or will spontaneously combust the moment I finish sewing in the final end, causing both me and the completed garment to end up as a pile of ash. I have no idea. But here she is, the Girasole:

I'm Still. Big. Red.
Frog Tree sport-weight alpaca

This week I've been trying out a new system. I have a bunch of projects I'd like to finish at some point - spontaneous combustion be damned - so every day I've tossed a different project into my purse. Low and behold, progress has been made!
Scarf #21, endcap #1.

The possibilities of this system are myriad, and since I seem to work best under a loose set of rules, I think I'll just cruise along for a bit with the daily switching. Everything I'm working on right now has a chart, so the changing of projects isn't entirely jarring.

Mysterious Mirror socks

Well, I say everything, but I mean everything except the EZ Yoke Sweater. I found a stranded pattern that I like, but the body of the sweater is red; a color which likes to bleed. So the sweater itself has been on hold while I find the time to soak it in vinegar and test the colorfastness of the yarn. This weekend, I took my opportunity and discovered that I needn't have worried. The water was perfectly clear, and all I got for my pains was a vinegar-scented partial sweater and peace of mind. Which isn't an insignificant outcome, I must say.

Taking the sweater off the needles also gave me the opportunity to try it on, and while it fits well, it's still a few inches shy of where the yoke should start. Queue the miles of plain knitting! It's currently parked on the bookshelf behind my spinning wheel; I've been working on it while blazing through discs of Gossip Girl, season 1 from Netflix. That show is a total guilty pleasure, and has the added benefit of reinforcing my attraction to horribly inappropriate movie men.

Until next time, XOXO!

01 March, 2009

Stitches West '09: An Exercise in Trading Plastic for Yarn

Tess Designer Yarns Superwash Merino Worsted, "Marine"

Well, the Social Pressure Experiment is over. I have to admit I didn't do too well toward the end. I hit a few snags when I found out that a Love Affair Yarn was discontinued, and bought a whole mess of it to dye and love and roll in. Then I got some stunningly gorgeous Cashsoft Aran for - are you ready for this? $24.50 per bag. Yes, per bag. Jasmin and I agreed that while it was outside of the Experiment's parameters, it was also a short-time deal and shouldn't be passed up. So I didn't.

And then Malia announced her candidacy to be a mom in July, and I recognized the dearth of baby-weight superwash wool in my stash. So there was that.

Pigeonroof Studios 80/20 Merino/Silk, "Grape Myrtle"

But all in all, the real point of the Experiment was, if you recall, to encourage Jasmin and I to change our spending habits and think more carefully about when, where and why we were buying yarn. And overall, I have to say that in that respect, it was a success. My desire to salve (not solve) problems by buying something new isn't unique, but it is something I try to be aware of and master. Sometimes I win, and sometimes I end up looking at something I now own with a twinge of regret. The yarn I bought in bulk? Definitely a satisfactory purchase. Every time I look at it, I wriggle with anticipatory joy.

And speaking of shopping. Oy. It's a lot of work to shop all day!
Malabrigo Sock Yarn, "Velvet Grapes"

Final Count:

Sock Yarn: 22
Sweater Yarn: 4 skeins, 2 sweaters-worth
Lace Yarn: 2
Roving: 16 oz.
Patterns: 3?

Apparently Stitches this year was all about the sock yarn, which was CLEARLY the weight of yarn I needed...
Lisa Souza Dyeworks 4 oz. Sock Batt, "Petroglyph"

I'm slowly developing a theory about why sock yarn is addictive. Stay tuned for more. I do tend to gravitate to the finer-weight yarns, partly because I feel like I get more bang for my buck, but also because I enjoy knitting with them more than the heavier gauges.

Windy Valley Musk Ox 15/80/5 qiviuk/merino/silk

I have been working steadily on my Scarf #21 for the KAL with Brie. I'm nearly finished with the first edging, and have come to the conclusion that it will be not so much a scarf as a stole. The damn thing is about 15" across right now unblocked and it'll get bigger still before I head into the actual lengthening part of the center. Therefore, I've made a strategic decision. I'm going to knit this first edging, then bind off and knit the second one, which I will then rotate the requisite 90 degrees and commence the center panel. When I get close to running out of yarn, I'll graft the second edging onto the end and be done. It's not the official way to do it, but it will ensure that I don't run out of yarn halfway through the second edging.

Lisa Souza Hardtwist Merino Petite, "Printempo"

The Girasole is in time out. I need to re-start it due to some user errors, but I've been working on other things because I can sense the overwhelming gravitational pull of Jared's gorgeous shawl. The Ravelry comments on this one are littered with "I started and finished it in a week..." and "so addictive!" I think I'll give Scarf #21 a few more days' head start before I dive headlong into Big Red.

Hazel Knits Artisan Sock, "Cami Chic"

I also started one of the yarns from this year's Stitches! Yesterday I cast on the Limeade TOFUtsies yarn I got to complement the Berries 'n' Cream socks. I'm making some modifications to my vanilla pattern, so hopefully these will fine-tune the fit to a place I'm not just happy with, but thrilled with. If it's different enough, maybe I'll write it up!

Tess Designer Yarns Super Sock and Baby, "Teal!"

The rest of my Stitches purchases are already catalogued and posted on the internets. The Ravelry link is here, and the press-pass pictures I took of both my yarn and Stitches-as-a-whole (not to mention Erin's swank and classy party at her shop) are here.

Blue Moon Fiber Arts mill ends