20 May, 2011

It's Freestylin' Friday!

At least, that's what my freshmen announced to me this morning. They quickly followed it up with a request that I rap, whereupon I pointed at my pasty skin and replied that I would be doing no such thing. Being a teacher is hilarious.

As I am apparently following trends of Stuff White People Like today, I poured myself a glass of Wine Cube Cabernet/Shiraz and decided to post on my knitting blog.
Two bottles of wine in one 6" cube; 100% effective. 
It was a total impulse buy from Target when I went to get gardening tools earlier this week, and since I cracked it open I've learned an important lesson: it doesn't feel like you're refilling your wine glass if you're getting it from a spigot on your counter. Also, you don't know how much is left because the container is obviously opaque, being made of cardboard. For people (like me) who tend to judge when they should stop by how much wine is left in the bottle (half-ish when you have to get up in the morning), this is very. dangerous. Teenagers can smell a hangover from a mile away.

Oh, what's that? You saw the reference to gardening tools? Ahhh, internets, if you only knew. My mother is a consummate gardener - I may have mentioned this before - and this year since I have a back "yard" I broke down and asked her to help me plant a few things.

You see, since I moved to California I've spent my summers subsisting mainly on Caprese Salad and beer, and tomatoes ain't cheap. Mom promised to help me plant a few tomatoes of my own this year, along with some basil:
L-R: Sun Sugars, Sweet 100's, and 4th of Julys
We calculated that I needed 3 types: the Sun Sugars are now a family tradition and often don't make it out of the garden; the Sweet 100's are for the salad; and the 4th of July's are for when tiny tomatoes just won't do. It was a herculean effort not to get more plants; after all, they're so small and I love homegrown tomatoes so much! But I restrained myself with a mental picture of every other blackened, shriveled plant I've ever tried to grow.

Peppermint, basil, lemon thyme. oregano, Greek thyme, and an asparagus fern for inside
Once we got into the herb aisle, it was all over. I absolutely LOVE fresh thyme, and I figured I'd need the peppermint at some point for tea. So where I had no plants I now have 9, and Mother Nature promptly put me in my place by sending a 3-day hail storm. To Sacramento. In MAY. But my plants and I weathered it, and now the tomatoes are edging their way past the second round of the cages. I'm cautiously hoping that my prodigious Black Thumb will begin to turn green around the edges.

Also there has been knitting! The blogging today represents a break from said knitting; I'm on repeat #54 (of 77) of the edging of my Rock Island Shawl; I might even finish the edging this evening. AND my blocking boards came in the mail this week! I am super-stoked about them; they're each 2' square and 1/2" thick, and I have 9 of them which is more than enough to block pretty much anything I can imagine. I tested them out last night:

I recommend this company and set up without reservation. Each tile cost me $3.96, which is 99 cents/square foot, and they use solar energy! Definite bonus.. (In comparison, Knit Picks charges $20 for 9 square feet in 1' tiles.) It turns out that blocking boards are, while not absolutely essential, a much appreciated resource when one lives in an apartment with all wooden floors. I pulled it off the mats today and tried to photograph the scarf, but I ran into a bit of difficulty:
He insisted upon laying on the scarf for a few minutes, then when he was sure he'd won, we negotiated a truce.
Aria Scarf, Madeline Tosh Merino Light in Composition Book Grey. 420 yds.
I added the yardage to my 11-Mile Quest total back when the actual knitting was completed, but I DO get to take the progress bar for this one off the side of the blog, and I'm chuffed to pieces with my restored ability to pin stuff out. Next up on the blocking boards: the Hera Shawl! And maybe at some point even the Honeybee Shawl that I finished almost 2 years ago...

13 May, 2011


The pile of Finished Objects to block is getting bigger!

Yes, that is an unwoven end. It's not blocked yet so I don't have to! 

Sometime in March I left the following note on my Hera's project page in Ravelry:
This has been languishing because I am apparently crap at figures. Argh.
Hah! It's true. Do you remember when your math teachers used to assure you in that oh-so-superior tone that you'd better learn this while you can because you're going to need it later in life? Well, it goes double for knitters. That's twice as much.

But I also remembered another little quote from the costume design teacher at Colorado State University:
If they can't see it on a galloping horse from 20 yards away, stop worrying about it.
Again, I say Hah! Knitting is also an exercise in making decisions about whether to fix the problem and move on or scrap everything and start over. The more knitting I do, the more inclined I am to do the former unless something is Completely Dire - 3 extra stitches, it turns out, definitely does not fit into that category, so I increased here and decreased there and voila! Numbers that match.

This shawl is big. Not huge - that descriptor is reserved for the great 6-foot square Shetland productions a la Sharon Miller and our Dearly Departed Knitters of Yore. But nevertheless, it is big.  These fence posts are 4" wide:
Tess Designer Yarns Super Socks & Baby, 1760 yards
And since it's largely in garter stitch it's also squooshy and pleasantly stretchy. It'll make an excellent California wintertime shawl, and I'm very pleased! And in case you didn't notice that number in the photo caption, it clocks in at 1759.5 yards. We round up here are Chez Unrepeatable - a girl deserves SOME sort of a break, after all! - so that's 1760 yards, or exactly one mile. Hurrah!

To celebrate, I wound up some yarn I got at the CommuKnity closing sale back in February of 2009:
Jade Sapphire Fibers Cashmere-Silk in Blueblood Red
At the time I thought I'd overdye it, but the color has grown on me and perhaps I'll keep it as it is. Either way, this will grow up to be a Rock Island Shawl, which will also be my entre back into the World of Lace from where I've been hiding in Garter Stitch Land. It's a bottom-up shawl, meaning that it starts with working the (interminable) edging sideways, then picking up and knitting ever-shorter rows until you bind off at the center of the neck. The pattern calls for ~600 yards and I have 800, so I've increased the width of the shawl a bit. Or I will once I get that far into the edging. Two repeats down and 75 to go...

01 May, 2011

The Hold List

Well, it's May and I didn't finish 2 of the 3 projects I had anticipated finishing this month. I'm close to being done with the Hera Mountain Ridge Shawl, and have 1/2 of the seaming done for my Sacred Tempest Sweater. I've sewn on the right sleeve, and the sleeve cap is kinda tight, so I'm going to have to regroup a little and figure out some sleeve vents that will match the stripe pattern. Argh.

So instead of knitting, I will distract you with the contents of my Library Hold Shelf! Raych posted today about how strangely gratifying it is to watch your hold number creeeeeeeeeep up the list. I totally agree, so here's what I anticipate reading soon(ish):

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: 104 of 167 holds. I tried the audiobook of this and it was AWful, so I'm in the queue for the text version like the rest of the world. I'm also doing a hold time dance with books 2 and 3 of the trilogy; neither is as requested as book 1 - which seems strange, doesn't it? - so I'm waiting until I'm closer to reading the first book before I request the other 2.

Lincoln's Dreams by Connie Willis: 1 of 3 holds. Connie Willis currently owns my soul. Blackout/All Clear are up for the Hugo Award this year, and I am desperately rooting for them.

Percy Jackson - Sea of Monsters and The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan: 2 of 2 and 1 of 1 holds, respectively. I enjoyed the first Percy Jackson novel more than I thought I would, so I figured I'd give the rest of them a shot.

Palimpsest by Catherynne Valente: 3 of 3 holds. The parts of my soul not owned by Connie Willis are in thrall to Valente even though it bugs the CRAP out of me that she's younger than I am and is a successful writer. Do I want to be a writer? No. My brain, it is a mysterious place.

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente: 2 of 2 holds. For whatever reason, I forget about authors from time to time. This has a secret benefit when I re-discover them because they have often turned out books in the meantime. Hooray!

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente: 1 of 1 holds. Thanks for reminding me about this author, Raych! I will now overdose on her work, if such a thing is possible.

Bossypants by Tina Fey: 176 of 176 holds. I also sometimes forget that I can borrow books relatively close to when they come out from the library by putting them on hold! And while I generally shy away from non-fiction, I've heard such good things about this book from People Whose Opinions I Value that I'm actually excited to read it.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson: 1 of 1 holds. The second book just came out, but my library doesn't have it yet. I love Johnson's blog but haven't ever read any of her writing.

Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later by "Francine Pascal": 29 of 29 holds. I'm willing to bet that all 28 holds before me are women around my own age who are DYING to know whether Elizabeth ended up with some lame-ass Perfect Husband and Jessica failed out of college and became a stripper.

You may notice that much of my list matches Raych's. This is because I was looking at her list when I went a bit crazy at my own library's website. What books have you read lately that you really like? What's on your Hold List?