30 June, 2011

I Have Had this Congress

Last Thursday I set off for Philadelphia, PA, to watch the Sacred City Sacrificers play in the 5th annual East Coast Derby Extravaganza.

It. Was. Awesome.

I listened to 1776 the Musical in the airport both going and coming home; after all, it seemed only appropriate. The other passengers may have looked a bit askance while I bopped and mouthed the words, but as I'll never see most of them again (Rose City Rollers A-Team, the Wheels of Justice, were on my plane so I'll probably see THEM again), I didn't care at all.

Then I spent a glorious 24 hours with my dear friend Brie. We went to high school together and she is one of the few people from Juneau that I keep in touch with.

Old friends are the best friends!

We went to her local(ish) yarn store, The Tangled Web, where I couldn't resist this particular yarn:
Silky Wool XL in pink and burgundy. WOOT!

I also bought the most aDORable buttons for my Sacred Tempest Sweater (still not finished but much closer!!):
I also rescued a bunch of unloved sock yarn from Brie, who has an aversion to my beloved Lorna's Laces (the horror!). She was going to donate it to charity, but instead she donated it to ME. Hooray!

Then I left Brie and joined up with Sacred. I didn't get many photos of the actual skating, but if you check out Photography by D.E.sign on Facebook, there are lots of great photos. Donalee is the BEST. One photo I definitely stole from her is this one:

Rhymes with "Jones."
My derby name was accepted on June 23, the same day I left for Philly! It didn't take long to break out the glitter paint and get to work. Yea, I said glitter paint; it turns out derby requires more sparkles than a Madonna video from the 1980's. On Monday a bunch of us toured around in downtown Philly. We saw the Liberty Bell:
The crack is on the other side. Oh well! 
And a derby rules sign in the wild:

and generally had a boatload of fun. Then it was time to come home, and I was SO READY. Derby weekends are not known for their restfulness, y'all. Or their healthy effect on vocal cords; I currently sound like a frog, which is a definite improvement over Monday! I managed to get bumped off my flight in Denver despite the text messages from my bed and my kitty about how much they missed me. It got me $400 in United Airlines credit, which will be used to off-set the price of my ticket to go to Puerto Vallarta with the family this Thanksgiving! I got home at noon on Tuesday and it was totally worth every sleepless moment.

On Tuesday night I went to practice and worked out a bit, then on my way home I remembered that my milk had expired and stopped at Safeway, where I wandered around for 45 minutes putting random things in my cart, including the ingredients for the first Caprese Salad of the summer:
Best salad of all time. Final.
I can't wait for my own tomatoes to ripen! I also made creme fraiche using the recipe Brie posted on her blog, but with the addition of 1.5 tablespoons of sugar since I use it exclusively on top of fresh fruit, which for the next few days will be the FOUR POUNDS of strawberries I got at the store. Yeesh. I was a bit dubious about leaving dairy products on the counter for 24 hours, but it worked and now I have 2 cups of deliciousness in my fridge with only 3 ingredients! Science is fun. Next up might be my own mozzarella so that my 6-ingredient Caprese can be 1/2 homegrown!

22 June, 2011

Blueblood Island Shawl: Blocked and Finished

Final Stats:

97 grams

705 yards

Completely charming.

They Are Wed.

Congratulations to the newly-minted Mr. and Mrs. Erqsome!!

May your path contain just enough rain to let you share the occasional umbrella.

20 June, 2011

No Cookie, But Plenty of Yarn

The mailman has been busy knocking on my door for the last few days, dropping off packages from my recent knitting supplies ordering spree. I am now the fascinated owner of Heirloom Knitting, which is more knitting bang for my book buck than I anticipated. I grabbed a used copy for around $40 on Amazon and it is worth every penny!

I've also put my new blocking wires to work today:

Blueblood Island Shawl, Jade Sapphire Silk/Cashmere
I'm quite pleased with them! They're a little thinner than the wires I had previously, but that doesn't seem to have any bearing on how well they work. Really, this invention makes my life SO MUCH easier. Between the wires and the mats, I am thoroughly happy.

I've also been fiddling around with my Sacred Tempest Sweater, hoping to get it to fit right so I can have it off my UFO list and also have something to wear in the chilly summer California evenings.

Which is good, because the postman has been bringing more than just accoutrements. 
3.3 miles in the door. I have no self control. 
The first 6 photos are of Madelinetosh merino light, which I fell in love with when I knitted this up for my master teacher, Rachel. The next 2 are Regia Silk 4-Ply (obvs.) and were bought together because they are burgundy and pink (also obvs.). The last 3 are super-fine yarns from Fleegle at The Gossamer Web - first Tribble, then Sheherazade, then an orphan yarn that Fleegle allowed me to adopt on account of my unparalleled ability to take wayward yarn into my home. Yes, I realize I just brought in more yardage than I've finished knitting this year, and no, I don't feel (very) guilty. After all, that Blueblood Shawl can't take much longer to dry and I've a fingering-weight sweater nearly seamed. I wonder if I can get it done before I land in Philly on Thursday...


Yes. This weekend I got derby-drunk (and maybe a little actual-drunk) and bought a ticket for the East Coast Extravaganza in Philadelphia! I can't wait. I show up on Thursday and get to spend a whole day with Brie - including meeting her kiddos and a tour of the local yarn shops - then meet up with the Sacred Sacrificers on Friday evening for a weekend of derby insanity. It's going to be epic. I'm taking the Tempest to finish (hopefully) and the Rosebud Shawl to work on, plus loading up my iPod with a few more classics. In addition to derby madness, I might even crank through some solid knitting yardage while I'm away!

Paris, Please!

I don't usually enter blog contests because I'm lazy, I usually find out about them the day after the entry closes, and I don't need more stuff like vacuums.

But this is a tiny bit different. Yes, it's still a contest, but it's to go to PARIS. For a WEEK! And it's put on by a woman who might be my role model; she packed up her family and just... moved. To Paris. I don't even have a family to pack, so it might be even easier for me!

Some day, people. Some day hopefully soon. I'm shooting for the next 3 years, I think. In the meantime, I'd wander the streets of Paris humming Les Mis and gawking at unpasteurized cheese just out in the air with no plastic wrapping. Oh, and worship at the feet of Nike.

Also, you should go enter too!

16 June, 2011

On the Path to the Land of Lace

So the other day I finished (but have not yet blocked) my Blueblood Island Shawl and skeined/washed an unknown yardage (somewhere between one and 2999 yards...) off a cone of yarn I ordered from Colourmart waaaaay back in 2007.

2/36 cashmere/silk in "Tussah." 2/36 means that 18 meters of this yarn = 1 gram. 3000 meters (1.7 miles) is 150 grams, which is about 1/3 of a pound. That's the weight of a hamburger patty.
I think I'm going to have to start entering the date in my Ravelry Stash so that I know how long yarns tend to marinate! Jeez. Anyway, the washing didn't take long even if it was a slightly odiferous business - spinning oils smell yucky and wet silk has a strange alien insect-y smell that is distinctly unpleasant. Then yesterday I knitted a swatch of Sharon Miller's Rosebud Shawl center pattern (101 in 1001 Craft goal #5!):

Top half: 2.75mm needles. Bottom half: 3.25mm needles
I KNOW. It's like you don't even know who I am anymore, what with this premeditation of projects and all the swatching! I tend to like slightly denser lace, so I went with the 2.75mm needles (US 2). Also the swatch is 35 stitches across and 8" with the 2mm needles. Just the center of this shawl is 117 stitches across, plus the borders and edging. It's going to be pretty big even on the smaller needles! This also proves my time-tested theory that I should just drop 2 needle sizes from the recommended size right out of the gate.

Lately I've had a hard time knitting and watching TV at the same time, so I decided to do my Shetland knitting while listening to audiobooks. Currently I'm on an Anthony Trollope kick, which dovetails nicely with the Classics Challenge and also makes me feel quite historical to be knitting a Victorian pattern out of English yarn while listening to a Victorian novel. We'll just ignore the part where I'm listening through a device made in China that holds 800% more information than the first computer...

I'm 2.5 of 11 repeats into the pattern and, as is usual, it looks like crap:

Unblocked Lace is Not Sexy
But at least I have my swatch to remind me how pretty it'll be... someday...

Many, many of my posts are going to involve this shawl for awhile. I hope you all like beige...

13 June, 2011

Classics Challenge 2011

One more thing that gets its own post.

On a whim I joined Stiletto Storytime's 2011 Classics Challenge half way into the year because I am perpetually on South American Time (directly descended from Mediterranean Time, which is the progeny of Middle Eastern Time. I am always late and it is genetic, is what I'm saying.)

And as if that weren't challenging enough, I'm signing up under the PhD challenge, which is to read forty (40!) Classic Books this year. But don't cry for me yet, Argentina, because I've already gotten a solid showing of capital-C Classics into my head since January - mostly through the Magic of Audiobooks and also because I am now a teacher and should read books before I attempt to teach them to my students.

  1. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
  2. Night - Elie Weisel
  3. The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros
  4. A Raisin in the Sun - Lorraine Hansberry
  5. One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest - Ken Kesey
  6. The Odyssey - Homer
  7. Wives and Daughters - Elizabeth Gaskell
  8. Ruth - Elizabeth Gaskell
  9. The Way We Live Now - Anthony Trollope
  10. Barchester Towers - Anthony Trollope
  11. Doctor Thorne - Anthony Trollope
  12. Framley Parsonage - Anthony Trollope
So I'm over 1/4 finished, and I haven't even been working that hard on it. Trollope has been amusing me for several months now, and I'm getting my annual summer hankering for Dickens and Austen as well. Since I rediscovered my local library, I've been keeping a list of all the physical books I've read for Education #7 on the 101 in 1001 challenge, which is starting to seem like a pitiful number. Fifty books indeed... PFT. The List needs revamping anyway, so perhaps I should add "read ANOTHER 50 books" in place of "try 100 MORE new recipes" (that's a total of 300 new recipes in all. I was perhaps a little overly ambitious...). 

Anyway, there's the challenge. Once I've finished my lurve affair with Trollope, I'll probably get a lot of my Classics suggestions from the SJSU Guilt List and sundry other Best Novels EVAR lists around the internet.

Please feel free to list your own suggestions in the comments!

Welcome to Summer!

Today is officially the First Day of (My) Summer. I turned in my final grades to my master teacher last night, and this morning I didn't bother getting up to an alarm for the THIRD DAY in a row. It was quite nice. Tomorrow I'll start setting the alarm for 9am and trying to get moving by a reasonable hour (for summer).

The last couple of days have been a kick in the proverbial pants. Saturday I took THB to see a show at Broadway Sacramento:

It. Was. Fabulous. When Mary flew across the stage for the first time, I definitely welled up a little bit. THB was equally happy. I was shocked to discover that this was his second "real play," especially since I went to college for 3 years in Ashland and went to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival practically every weekend! Next season of Broadway Sacramento includes Wicked (his first real play), West Side Story, and Mamma Mia!, so he was all excited to get season tickets. Given the disastrous finale of the first - and last - time I bought season tickets to a production company, you can bet that I'll be asking a few very pointed questions of the Box Office before we actually purchase seats...

But in the meantime, we're excited!
Yesterday I sat down to read my Ravelry forums over morning(ish) tea and got sucked into the Rabbit Hole of Shetland Lace. By the time I'd made it back out again, I'd ordered a used copy of Sharon Miller's Heirloom Knitting and two skeins of lace yarn from The Gossamer Web that I've been thinking about for ages. There is a note in my list of Summery Stuff to Do to pull out and catalog all the cones of yarn I've ever ordered for such lacy endeavors, which should probably happen today if I'm going to continue looking at stuff like this. And this. It's photos like these that make me want to drop everything I'm doing and go study 19th century lace on the Isle of Shetland. ::le sigh!::

I also made myself sit down and finish the last hour's worth of knitting on the Blueblood Island Shawl:

Rock Island Shawl by Jared Flood. Jade Sapphire Silk/Cashmere, Blueblood Red
I'm not going to weigh it for yardage until I've blocked it, and I won't be blocking it until my new blocking wires come in from knitsomuch on Etsy. My old blocking wires went missing in the move between San Jose and Roseville, so it'll be a treat to have some again! In the mean time, after I toss the lace cone stash, I'll be starting this poorly photographed but very pretty bit of knitting. Shetland lace, I am now your bitch.


Well, a part of it anyway!
Yep. That's a real, honest-to-goodness TOMATO growing on my own vine. And in the background is another one! I'm tickled pink by this completely natural and to-be-expected development. There will be tomatoes this summer, my pretties! Beer and Caprese Salad cannot be far behind. Ahhh, summer.

06 June, 2011

How to Adopt a Human

For Memorial Day weekend, I went up to my mother's house with THB, where we drank wine, watched Megamind (hilarious), hung out with Waffles the Cat

and dug around in the garden. THB was moving cement pieces for my mom and he found all kinds of interesting Garden Denizens, including these two fellows:
You know you wanna kiss it...
Sharp-Tailed Snake. Never around when I need him.

I was tempted to keep the snake as a pet, but that particular breed eats slugs, which I am not willing to forage for. Eeeeeuch.

It's a good thing I didn't bring home a new pet because when I got here there was one waiting for me.
Let the Right One In!

This is the as-yet-unnamed back door kitty that some of you may have seen me complaining about on Facebook. He's very sweet, loves to purr and hug, has extremely amusing fangs that remind me of being in high school drama class, and is at this very moment sleeping on a towel outside my back door. Aside from finding a dry place to sleep in the Very Unseasonable Rainshower Weather that Sacramento has been experiencing, he's been there for a week.

Today I let him inside the apartment to see how he and Mr. Prissypants Darcy got along. Darcy was better than I expected; he only hissed once and meowed in an annoyed fashion while Back Door Kitty showed him his belly and purred as loudly as his little purrbox was able. But after I put BDK back outside, Darcy actually took a swipe at me! Little bastard clearly knows who let the interloper in the door...

He vaaants to saaaack your bloooooood! Or eat Greenies. Either one, really.
We'll see how long this goes on for. I printed up signs that I'll be putting around the neighborhood and at local pet shops tomorrow; hopefully someone will come claim him. He's too sweet to be a feral, and while I wouldn't really mind having another cat I think that Darcy REALLY would. I'd hate to have to start shutting my bedroom door again; Darcy's method of expressing his displeasure at being a member of a more-than-one cat household is to shit on my bed, which is charming in the extreme.

And then on to the knitting! I'm back in Garter Stitch Country with the Rock Island shawl; I fancy that I can sense it getting smaller every right side row, but I know it's just my imagination.

It's going to be lovely, though, and I managed to turn a couple of my Ukrainian immigrant girls back onto knitting today by whipping this baby out and showing them how awesome knitting has become on the internet.

I'm highly amused that I just typed that last sentence. But not as amused as I am by FINALLY having captured this little trick on film (possibly quicker loading link is here):