Sunday, November 28, 2004

I think it's time for a Christmas knitting progress update. Let's start with the gifts that have already been finished and given: here is a view of the lovely Orcas Islander's Scarf from Honey Lane Farms, knit in Classic Elite Inca Alpaca in color 1158:

The more I look at this scarf, the more I like it. Here is a detail view:

Most of the extra yarn (about 3/4 of a skein) went into these matching fingerless gloves of my own design:

I gave both to my mother-in-law as an early Christmas present since we won't be seeing her then (oh drat), and since she would probably get more use out of it here than at home in Texas. To her credit she wore them the entire time she was here, but I noticed she had switched back to her old scarf for the trip home. I suspect they will never be worn again, unless maybe we visit them sometime in the winter after they move to Oklahoma.

I have finished one sachet loosely based on the pattern from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, and started another.

I think I may actually put the cat toys I am planning on making from SNB Nation in this one, rather than filling it with lavendar. The next one will be quite a bit smaller and more suited to being a scented sachet. They are made out of Lion Brand Micro Spun in lavendar. The tassels are Jaegar Cadiz.

The DNA scarf has only barely been started:

And then, of course, there are The Gloves.

On the up side, the thumb fits now! On the down side, that one finger that is done is a bit tight. This morning I had one of my brothers do a bit of sleuthing, though, and found out the diameter of my mom's wedding ring, so at least I have something solid to go by for sizing now.

Finally, we have the world's largest Christmas stocking:

Yes, that is a bottle of beer being dwarfed by the monster stocking. Quite excellent beer, actually, and the key ingredient in my Christmas chili. (I now feel that Belgian Brewing owes me for this plug of Frambozen, but the check or free six-pack has yet to arrive. Sigh.) I'm not thrilled with the proportion of the foot to the rest, but I was out of yarn. Once I'm done with the other Christmas knitting, I'm going to redo this one smaller and fix things like that, the poofy heel, and the fact that it insists on folding right at the color change exposing the intermixed region at the top. I'm not really sure what to do about that last one. Suggestions?

Saturday, November 27, 2004

For some reason I have "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead" running through my head.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I did not knit at all yesterday. It was bizarre. I can't remember a day when I didn't at least pick up a project in the past year. I did, however, have a great, quiet, alone day. Mark took his parents to the Museum of Flight, leaving me free to turn off the heat and open all of the windows, leave the TV off, and not talk to anyone. I have finally realized that most of my problem when they are here is just due to sensory overload. Thinking back, I had a very low sensory-input upbringing. The TV was only on for an hour a day, and my parents rarely played music. No one wore any sort of perfume and cologne, or used scented bath products. My dad has a beard, so of course there was no aftershave smell. The only time my house had any sort of smell was when my mom was cooking, and it didn't really stick around. The only noise was when one of us was practicing an instrument, and once the basement was finished that could be avoided completely by staying in my second floor bedroom. We had conversations, but mainly at dinner, and everyone was involved. Even visual stimulation was low since the entire house was essentially variations of white and brown!

Needless to say, this is not the story with Mark's family. His mom wears perfume and his dad uses both cologne and aftershave. I can't even go in the room or bathroom they are using; or at least have to hold my breath as I duck in and out. This isn’t the Middle Ages, people, we bathe now! The TV is on constantly, very loud. No one can understand why I keep turning it off when the room is empty. If nothing else, don’t these people pay electric bills?! On the rare occasions that the TV is not an option, like, say, in the car Mark’s dad talks. Constantly. Without taking a breath. This is not a conversation, it is a monologue of rambling, interconnected stories which never repeat. Why couldn’t he have had a boring career like accounting or something rather than this series of adventures flying around the world? Apparently Mark and I don’t talk much in the car, because it is all I can do to keep from screaming “JUST STOP TALKING!” I just want the occasional silence.

To make up karmically for being so mean to Mark’s parents behind their backs, and because I’ve been wanting to decorate a cake again, I spent all today making an anniversary cake for them (their anniversary is Thursday).

I should make clear at this point that although I decorated cakes for three years, I never made or frosted them. I think this was the second cake I have made in my entire life, and I am very proud of the results. Therefore, you get a slide show of the process.

I am incredibly picky about cake. I fact, I generally just say I don’t like cake and leave it at that. There have been two cakes in my life that I have liked; the raspberry torte at Café Latte in St Paul (displaced Minnesotans may whimper in longing now) and our strawberries and champagne wedding cake from Das Meyer Bakery in Denver (note to Coloradans: you too may experience this bliss any Saturday, as they do free tastings of all their cakes). Before starting this cake, I called Café Latte and asked what type of cake they used. It turns out that I like sponge cake, but I’m suspicious that having it in thin layers with filling between is also key.

Armed with the crucial information, I pulled out The Joy of Cooking to find out what a sponge cake is. Soon I was feeling very proud of myself for working out a sort of sifting technique even when I own no sifter. I separated all seven eggs without a problem and soon had a cake in the oven. And the sort-of-sifted flour on the counter. Hmm. Although looking promising at first, this creation soon collapsed and was basically a very sweet omelet. I guess just like knitting the second time you bake something it’s easier…

After cooling the cake with all ingredients included on the porch (how domestic am I?), I began the hair-raising process of cutting my success into layers. This went so stunningly well, I had to take a picture before it all went to hell as I expected it must inevitably:

Isn’t that amazing and flat and wonderful? I cannot describe my surprise that this worked. Somewhere around this time I looked about the kitchen and saw this:

Mark hates when I leave the odd cupboard door open. He wasn’t home, but I’m sure he was overcome by inexplicable twitching at the museum.

What was even more incredible was that it continued to work. Even the custard turned out and spread evenly on the layers. When I ran out of blackberry jam to add between the layers, I fortunately found blackberries in the freezer

At this point I was shaking. The cake was going well, but all I had eaten all day was frosting. And I haven’t had sugar in about a month. It was pretty crazy. Considering my shaking hands and the fact that I haven’t decorated a cake in three years or ever frosted more than one, I don’t think this turned out half bad.

Here’s a cutaway view:

And it tasted great.

Monday, November 22, 2004

They can go home now.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Now that the Tilex fumes have worn off, I can talk about knitting coherently. First, though, I would like to mention that I am a genius. After posting yesterday, and spending a while pointedly not cleaning the bathroom, inspiration struck. Our sponge mop can work up as well as down! I can reach anything I need to! Well, with our low ceilings, anyway. It was great. I sprayed Tilex all over the ceiling and walls, quickly learning not to watch what I was doing (gravity and all), got the mop wet and went to town. Everything was white in under 10 minutes. It has been pointed out to me that this is not a good solution. A good solution would have my husband doing the dirty work I am *so sadly* too short for. In general, I agree. In this case, however, the need is too consistant. I would have to make nagging a full time job to have this done even half as often as necessary. I did take advantage of having done this to stick him with all of the other icky cleaning like getting the mold off the windowsills and cleaning the toilet (which is just a gross thing to do any time of year). The major lesson here, in case you haven't picked this up yet, when looking to buy a house NEVER get one with aluminum window sills. It's bad no matter what the climate.

I have been getting lots of questions about the fate of Tricot. It has been set aside until Christmas knitting is done, but I took notes so that when I picked it up again I would have the faintest clue what was going on. The sides are all seemed up, and it fits fantastically. The problem is that the parts that should be seemed together at the shoulder currently only reach my armpit. There are a few possibilities for this: 1) My row gauge may be off. I never checked this, and feel no need to do it now, thank you very much, and/or 2) I may not have actually done the decrease pattern I figured out would be best and wrote down. It looks like I may have decreased two rows in a row rather than three between plain rows. I will need to examine further. My current plan is to check the decrease pattern and switch to what I had really wanted if necessary, and then just keep going. This will make the raglan lines go farther and the front pieces get very narrow, but that's fine. I examined some manufactured raglans I liked, and I think this will be perfectly acceptable. The neck may also be a bit wider, but that's fine too. This will of course mean I need to change the sleeves to match, but that's okay since I need to completely redo those anyway. I need to add at least four more stitches since they were way too tight.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

If you're wonderig where I've been, the answer is: cleaning. Who knew 1200 sq feet could take so much time?! My inlaws are coming on Sat morning, and I still have stuff to do. Most of this is because we have entered that very special time of year in Seattle that I like to call "mold season." Yes, if you lived here you too could experience the joy of going to dust the window sills and discovering that in the last week they have become completely covered in black mold. Sinks are also a joy. But the best part is the bleeding walls in the bathroom. The fan in the bathroom with our shower is not the greatest, so there is often condensation that runs down. Not usually a big deal, but a small amount of reddish mold grows there this time of year and the result is pink streaks remeniscent of a horror film. Ick. I have to clean about every other day to keep ahead, and since I'm tiny, this means trying to get Mark to clean the walls that often. I can't wait until spring.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Hey look, I finished the charted hand, and am ready for fingers on one glove. Check out the back, isn't it pretty?

Let's just flip it over and ... OH GOOD HEAVENS!

Yeah, the thumb is not going well. When I tried it on, my thumb was losing circulation, and my hands are pretty darn small. Not good. I tried just adding more and more stitches to the thumb, before giving in to the fact that the problem was the gusset. Then... I started cutting. I'm not quite sure how this began, but before I knew it there was enough space for an appropriately size gusset and a bazillion (yes, a bazillion. I counted.) teeny tiny really short ends. So the question is, do I just rip back to the cuff, again, and give it another go with more stitches? It did go pretty fast this most recent time. Or do I pick up stitches around the hole and try some sort of decreasing circle thingy based on what I see on gloves I own? Suggestions?

Monday, November 08, 2004

Dang these sleeves are taking forever. I actually finished them last night, but they are way too short. I'm thinking it's a row gauge problem, so I'm not quite sure how to fix it and still have the raglan seems connect well. In fact, this is making me concerned that the arm holes in the body may be too small. I can handle adding more to the sleeves, but reknitting the body may mean this is a project for next year (*sniff*). Maybe someone at Purlygirls tonight will have a fabulous solution.

A very mean Rebecca actually counted and posted the number of knitting days left until Christmas. It is a very, very small number. This means I need to order my thoughts and get cracking, so here goes:

Must be done ASAP:

Fair Isle gloves (Why are these still on my list? Grr)

Must be done by Thanksgiving:

San Juan Islander Scarf

Must be done by Christmas:

2 beaded sachets
Fair Isle Headband (I'm a masochist)
DNA scarf
Cool cap
Christmas Stocking

Should be done by Christmas:

Blue gradient scarf (pattern forming in my head)
Thrummed mittens
House socks
Felted bag

Wish desperately I could allow myself to work on:

Ribby Cardigan
Zig Zag
Novelty Scarf
Laptop case
Top secret useful household item


Friday, November 05, 2004

In a very weird move, Mark won tickets off the radio for the premiere of The Incredibles Thursday night. It was bizzare because we never even try for the contests, and he won this one three hours after it had been announced the first time, and twenty minutes after the second announcement (the first one we heard). All he had to do was look on the DJs blog and search for the answer to the trivia question. Apparently people are super lazy. Or they only listen to the radio in the car, which I guess is what we do, and always assume the contest will be won way before they can do anything about it, which I suppose we also do. Whichever. I managed to stay awake all the way to midnight to go and a good time was had by all. I think kids are going to miss pretty much all of the jokes, but we liked them. I don't want to spoil anything, but I will make one non-spoiling comment. The superpowers are... well... the dad is really strong, the mom is really flexible, the first grader zips around like crazy, and the teenager puts up barriers around herself and disappears without warning. Hmm.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

So I now see how that "stash beyond life expectancy" thing happens. People are on the mailing lists of online crack yarn dealers. A few days ago I got the Ram Wools email, but had a brief stay of execution since I was too busy to read it. When I did today, I had to remind myself to breath. All Jo Sharp yarns are on clearance. Could it be? Is it possible? Yes, Silk Road Aran is affordable!!! When I came to, I was putting my credit card back in my wallet and had a sale confirmation letter in my inbox. Seems I ordered enough to make Rogue, which is the idea that began my love affair with this yarn in the color opal.

I also picked this up today:

Can you believe three skeins of yarn is enough to make a long ribbed cardigan?! And it's environmentally responsible, too. Neato.

What ever it is that has been restraining me from buying all of the good yarn I see with or without a plan seems to have broken. I almost bought about five other sweaters worth today at Fiber Gallery. I walked out with just the stuff I had ordered, but it was much different than just yearning for good yarn as I normally do.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Kim has an excellent point. Fortunately, voting once every four years is only the beginning of the ways we have the freedom to affect change in this country. Just because a candidate lost does not have to mean his ideals are. If we are active in letter writing, protesting, contacting our representatives, etc, our voices can still be heard. Republican, Democrat, or whatever, they are in Congress and Senate to fulfill the wishes of their constituents. We just need to make sure they know what we want.

Mississippi, Montana, Oregon, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, North Dakota, Ohio: You should be ashamed.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The polls weren't nearly as crazy as I was expecting this morning. I didn't have to stand in line at all. This may have been assisted by the fact that we lost power during the night so my alarm clock didn't go off. Most people had probably been and gone to work by the time I rolled in. All of my previous concerns about voting in this state still stand, with the addition that the few "privacy sheilds" that had been around were nowhere to be seen. I'm not sure why I had thought anything might change, but I had been hoping. I am glad that our system has a paper trail, though.

The gloves and I are taking a break. After unravelling back to the cuff for the millionth time (or so) I decided I just couldn't do it anymore. They're already late anyway. In the interim I have gone back to Tricot (remember that?). I was able to knit about a quarter of the sleeves (I'm doing them at the same time) last night at Purlygirls. Hopefully I'll have blocking photos tonight, and a seamed up sweater tomorrow! Goodness knows I need it for wearing ASAP, as I'm down to three sweaters and the seasons have definitely changed.