Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Frostbite

A frosty dayPattern: Frostbite
Yarn: Elegance in Ash (beads are silver-lined crystal 6/0 beads from eebeads.com
Needles: 6

This was a fun little shrug to knit up. The neck is a little wider than I normally like, but it's a fun piece to wear. Since the yarn is mostly alpaca, I thought it would be amusing to close it at the neck with a little enamelled llama pin that I got years ago from the Met store!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Tidal Wave!

Tidal WaveIt may now be revealed that the Mystery Socks, a Yule gift for Boo, are none other than a pair of Tidal Wave socks made from Cherry Tree Hill's Sockittome yarn! The colorway is Moody Blues, because she specifically said that she likes denim-y blues that don't argue with the jeans. This yarn is soft and delightfully squishy -- it really knit up beautifully. This is the first time I've used CTH; I've got some more in my stash that I am looking forward to putting on my own feet.

Boo was quite pleased with them and made a few comments along the "how the heck do you make something so cool" lines. Aw shucks. Of course, I was a big old dummy and included the photo in my Flickr photostream, which is displayed on the right hand column of this very blog, so she may have just been humoring me about not knowing what they would look like. Oops :-/

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

On ice

For my out-of-state readers, let me assure you that we are all fine... we're not nearly as bad off as they were making out on the national news. It's a bit icy here, but the roads are clear and we haven't lost power. The kids are bored out of their minds after a couple of snow days (the Playstation is getting a pretty good workout) and I ended up working from home one day, but other than that nothing much is out of the ordinary. Life goes on :-)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A quick hat

Mostly Knit-Round hatMy daughter the rocket scientist decided to wash her old hat in the washing machine, which turned it into a felted mess. "Mom, I need a new hat!" This just as we're supposed to get another cold front moving down from Canada in the next couple of days. So I knit up a super-quick Mostly Knit-Round Hat -- the third one I've made. So cute! The pattern is from the first Knitting Experience book, the yarn is Dream In Color Classy in the luscious Blue Lagoon colorway. I actually knit the garter brim in the round as well, so there's no "mostly" in the mostly knit-round -- but it's still a fabulously easy hat.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dishcloth Swap

Scrub a dubJust for fun, Cowgirl & I put together a little dishcloth swap on the Missouri group in Ravelry. Here's my two dishcloths that I received from my lovely swapmates! Cotton dishcloths are fabulously useful -- I already have half a dozen or so in my towel drawer that I use all the time. And after I use 'em I just toss 'em in the washing machine. I'm always looking for ways to reduce what I'm putting into landfills, part of my green ethos. Reuse, recycle, renew.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Frostbite shrug

Jack Frost nipping at your noseIn addition to the aforementioned mystery socks, I've started working on another project, a dressy little beaded shrug from This Kitten Knits. I'm using KnitPicks' Elegance, a DK-weight alpaca/silk blend. The beading is really a pain in the derrière -- I have to pre-string hundreds of beads on each skein -- but it really makes the piece. The crystal beads flicker and wink against the subtle gray sheen of the yarn, demonstrating why it is named Frostbite.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

First Snow of '07

Hunter catching snowflakesThe temperature's been dropping steadily all day with a cold front moving in from the north. Around three o'clock in the afternoon, I was futzing around in the kitchen (making pie crusts for tomorrow's feast, actually) and glanced out the window to see big fat flakes drifting down. When the weatherman said there were snow flurries in the forecast, I thought he meant a few little flakes mixed with the rain -- not this! It won't stay long, but it's enough to dust rooftops & cars with a nice white coat. Winter is here.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

World's Best Sit n Sip n Bitch n Stitch n Knit

I chose the right weekend to drop by the Lee's Summit Sit & Knit... almost everybody was there yesterday! I only make it out there about once a month or less, what with the need to take out a second mortgage to fill one's gas tank these days, and the kids' sports schedules, and the nine zillion other things that take up the weekends. But it was so cool to see faces & projects that I haven't seen for a while. I got to show off some of my (still rather rough) handspun, which was oohed and aahed over in a most gratifying way. Carol was working on a monstrous gift sock... poor thing, her brother apparently wears size 14s. Jen had new stash, a skein of hand-dyed Claudia silk, which is the most incredible stuff -- I've never seen it in person before, and I instantly fell in love. We passed the skein around & petted it & tried not to drool too much. (Jen's going to make a Juno Regina stole with it, and it will look goddess-like, I am sure.) Laura had plenty of Lucky stories, and her finished Hemlock Ring, unblocked and therefore not yet in its full glory, but still an amazingly beautiful throw. Blogless Mary had a pretty baby blanket that she apparently didn't like much (don't know why) and Lorenia had a huge poncho out of Lion Brand T&Q that probably would have kept a whole family of sherpas warm. We even had a newcomer to our little group, Tracy -- she was working on an Irish Hiking scarf in a tweedy brown -- hope she wasn't scared off by our silliness. And just as I was thinking I ought to get on the road home, Chelle dropped by for the last 20 minutes or so! She was making a little ruffled cuff to match her beautiful Ruffled Roses scarf. (I resisted the bandwagon on that scarf when everyone was knitting it last year, but now that I've seen it, I just might have to succumb.) Cool women, hot chai latte, gorgeous yarn, conversation & laughter: this is the very reason for stitch n bitch groups.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Mystery socks

My sister announced out of the blue the other day that she loved the socks that I made for her a couple years back & she would be pleased to get another pair from me any time I cared to make her some. Well, a knitter doesn't need much more prodding than that. She now knows that she is getting a new pair for Yule, since I quizzed her thoroughly on color preferences and whatnot. The following can be revealed:
1. They will be in a colorway that she has said that she likes.
2. They will be a little larger than I usually make for myself, since she wears about a size and a half larger shoe than I do.
3. As she specifically requested, they will not be "bumply" (which rules out a lot of lace).

I'm not going to say any more than that here, since she reads my blog and I want to have at least some surprise attached to the gift. Ravelry users can learn more if they wish (hint, hint.)

Sleepy kittyTo make up for the lack of yarny pictures in this blog, I present a gratuitous kitty shot. I bought one of those multi-tiered flat drying racks, since I always have plenty of hand-knits to wash & dry. It's great for socks. I stuck it on top of the dryer where it doesn't get in the way... Friday thinks it makes a fine hammock.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Psst... wanna see the world's most boring pair of socks?

Yawn... so dullIt's a sort of riff on the Almost Argyle pattern, but I foolishly chose a dark color, so the pattern is barely visible. Oh well, at least they are finished.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ready for Quidditch

A new SeekerHunter's costume is finally done... there are greaves under that robe, but they are quite hidden. The whole thing is seriously warm, a consideration in this part of the world. You don't send your kids out trick-or-treating in lightweight costumes when there's frost on the ground that morning.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's here! It's here!

Let the spinning wheel flyMy birthday present, a new Fricke spinning wheel! Friday doesn't quite know what to make of it, but I love it.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Beginner Bear

Silly TeddyIt seems to be a sort of tradition (ok, one other person did it) that one knits a small teddy bear out of one's first skein of handspun as a sort of mascot. Here's my fairly lame-o but slightly endearing effort. Since the yarn was so rustic, and knit up so wonky, I decided to keep my finishing efforts to a minimum, shall we say. Nonetheless, he will grace my spinning wheel when it arrives.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

I got my invite!

I'm finally on Ravelry! Hooray!

I can't find any of the other Sit Sip & Knit ladies, though. Drop me a comment with your user name & I'll add you to my Friends list. Or you can just add me, yay!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Yarn School '07

Marsha merrily spinning awayYarn School was a blast! It is held annually at the Harveyville Project, a sort of residential art co-op occupying an old school campus smack in the middle of rural Kansas. The classrooms have been converted to guest rooms, sparsely furnished but very roomy. Mostly we gathered in the auditorium for classes & just to generally hang out. It was a big crowd this year, about 30 spinners of varying experience levels. This is my roommate, Marsha, who has been spinning for a year or so -- she showed me the ropes on the first evening & got me spinning on one of the school wheels.
Cathy gets her spinning groove onThis is Cathy, another brand-new spinner like me. She was quite frustrated on Thursday night, just felt like she would never get the hang of it. (In fact, her cell phone rang about an hour after she started spinning with Marsha. It was her husband, asking her how it was going. Marsha & I both burst out laughing when she said in tones of maximum exasperation, "Honey, I suck!") Needless to say, by Sunday morning, it had all clicked for her & she was spinning like a pro.
Bears a striking resemblance to ropeMy first skein! A natural brown wool. It's tragically overspun, so don't look too close. By Sunday I had learned that you don't have to treadle like hell to make yarn, so the overspinning problem cleared up.
Weird scienceThe old chem lab had been converted to the Dye Lab, where we had lots of fun with acid dyes and microwaves and crock pots.
A rainbow of rovingThe dyed roving was hung up to dry in the breezeway between the grade school and high school buildings -- doesn't it look pretty?
Alpacas!There were alpacas! (This was our field trip on Friday.)
Goats!There were goats! These are Pygora goats, a pygmy-angora cross.
Bunnies!There were bunnies! Epically puffy Angoras.
Blue ribbon socksAnd just for an added bonus, we found on Saturday that the town fair was going on! There was a parade in the morning, some cheeseball rides on the main drag, and... ribbons to be awarded in various craft categories. Naturally, with a school full of fiber artists, we all rifled through our bags to look for an item to enter in the Knit or Crochet categories. I dug up my Blueberry Waffle socks and entered them in the Small Knitted category. Imagine my surprise when I won first place!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Heigh ho

It's off to Yarn School I go! Lots of pictures to follow, I'm sure.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The last of the gallbladder episode

Thank you to everyone who asked after Mike. The ultrasound showed he had stones, so the gallbladder ended up coming out with no further ado... it was done laproscopically & he came home the same day. His recovery has been completely uneventful and he is feeling fine, eating normally & was back to work within a couple of days. All is well again.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Rosebud

Ali the fashion model poses with RosebudYarn: Elann.com's Peruvian Uros Aran (50% wool, 50% llama)
Needles: size 8
Stitch pattern: Rosebuds from 356 Knitting Stitches a Year

My second lace shawl, this one made as a gift for my dear friend Miriam, who loves all things rosy.
Looks awfulLace, of course, is all about the blocking. Before blocking, the shawl resembles nothing so much as a crumpled, wadded mess.
Bathtime for RosyI soaked it in the sink for a few minutes, then squeezed it out in a beach towel. Now it's ready to block.
Looks much nicerFor this project, I invested in a set of blocking wires from KnitPicks, which made the whole job much easier. I heartily recommend blocking wires to anyone who wants to knit lace.
Rosebud in its gloryThe lace pattern opened up beautifully, and the shawl grew by several inches.

I actually finished this shawl a couple of months ago, but have been holding off on posting until I could present Miriam with her gift. Happy Birthday, dear one!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Griffindor Quidditch Robe

I told him to hex the couch, that's why he's pointing to the sideThe second major piece of Hunter's Harry Potter costume -- the robe -- is done! (The sweater, you may recall, was finished a few months ago.) The last bit that I need to make are the (faux) leather greaves & vambraces. Then we'll come up with some white pants, a broom, and some round-framed glasses. Voilà, a perfect little Harry Potter.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

ER Booga

Little BoogaThe ER Booga is finished & felted. It's tiny! I put it in the washing machine with the intention of checking on it every ten minutes, and then promptly forgot about it. The result: it felted down to a tight, dense little purse that's half the original knitted size. It stands about 7" tall and the base is a 5" square. The spiral stripes turned out nice too.

Monday, August 27, 2007

ER and another Booga

I'd just as soon not have another weekend like the one just past, thanks. Mike, who has been having a few recurring episodes of stomach pain (he saw the doctor about it last week; she diagnosed a possible ulcer & put him on Pepcid AC pending further tests), had the worst episode to date -- he was having such severe pain that we wound up going to the emergency room at 2 AM. They admitted him for a couple of days while they ran tests to figure out what the heck was wrong. Turns out it was his gallbladder, which will no doubt be coming out very soon after he meets with the specialist. In the meantime, the poor guy is home & back to normal, but he's afraid to eat more than a couple of bites for fear of triggering another attack. This, not surprisingly, has turned him into El Grumpo.

Spiral BoogaAll I can say is, thank the gods for the knitting bag by the door. I had the presence of mind to grab it on the way out, which kept me sane during the hours of cooling my heels in the ER waiting room, not to mention the hours of bedside visits once they moved him to a room. I had just cast on for a new Booga-ish bag when this all happened... this one is a little different, though, it has thin stripes from four leftover skeins (two browns, a grey, and a yellow), with a square bottom cribbed from the French Market bag. Much more subtle colors than my California Booga. Also, I just learned a really, really cool way to do single-row stripes in the round like this without carrying up the side! It's in the current issue of Cast On, the magazine of TKGA. Here's how you do it:

1. Divide your total # of stitches by the number of colors you want. Call it n. (Round up to a whole number if you have to, it doesn't have to be perfectly even.) Place a stitch marker every n stitches.

2. Knit your cuffs, or base, or whatever. I knit the bag base in a solid color and then started striping when I reached the sides.

3. On round 1 of stripes, knit to the first marker with color 1, change colors, knit to the second marker with color 2, change colors, and so forth until you knit to the last marker with color last.

4. To start round 2, you will begin knitting with the color you have in hand, which is color last. Knit to the next marker. When you reach it, drop the current yarn and pick up the one that was left hanging, and begin knitting with that color.

5. Continue in this way until you reach the desired length -- every time you reach a marker that has a hanging color, switch colors. The only marker that won't have a hanger is your end-of-round marker. Watch your tension on the color changes! It can sometimes get a little wonky. But there's no carried yarn & no ends to weave. Just stripey goodness.

Anyway, here's my striped pseudo-Booga about three quarters of the way through. The leftovers, in case you are curious, are from Mike's vest (dark brown), a Ravenclaw (grey), and a pre-blog Dr. Who (camel & yellow). Should look nice & subtle once it's felted.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A setback on Angelina

Sadly, I frogged it. About three skeins in, it was so huge that I realized that I had overestimated once more (why do I always do that?!?) and was on the way to making a ridiculously sloppy-large sweater. And Angelina is all about the fit, so that wouldn't do.

So, I've started it over, several sizes smaller. The one good thing -- I was starting to wonder if I had enough yarn in stash, or if I'd have to buy a few more skeins and hope it was close enough to do that crazy two-rows-from-each-dye-lot trick to blend it in on the cuffs. Now, with a lot fewer stitches, I don't think I'll be anywhere near running short. :-)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A recipe for sunflower seeds

1. Plant a bunch of sunflower seeds in a sunny spot (south-facing is good.) Water them when it gets really dry, but otherwise ignore them through the growing season. Yes, they are that easy to grow.

2. When the heads get droopy, lose their petals, and turn yellow on the back, cut them off about 10" or so below the flower and hang them up to dry. An screened porch is perfect for this, so the birds don't get at them.

3. When they're mostly dry, remove the seeds from the heads -- rubbing your thumbs around the edges works well.

4. Brine the seeds by putting them in a big pot with water (to cover, although they will float like crazy) and salt (1/2 cup per gallon or so). Bring to a near-boil, then lower the flame and simmer for two hours. Stir the seeds frequently to get the floaters down into the brine.

5. Drain, but don't rinse the seeds, and spread them out shallowly on cookie sheets. Roast in a slow (250°F) over for a couple of hours, or until they are lightly browned. Keep an eye on them, they could burn!

Enjoy!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Heard It Through the Grapevine

I love me some Amazon.com, even though I am trying to consume less these days & not buy every book that catches my fancy when there is a perfectly good library right here in town and all that. I also like to write (and read) consumer reviews -- they help me a lot when I'm shopping, and I feel like it's only fair to return the favor -- although lately I've been writing my reviews on All Consuming instead of Amazon, I don't know why. It could be because I am lazy and it's easy to just click the link in the right-hand column of this very blog rather than perform actual web navigation.

Anyway, Amazon's latest brainstorm is a program called Amazon Vine -- a group of reviewers (by invitation only, thankyouverymuch) who are eligible to receive advance copies of products (mostly books, but also some CDs & DVDs & whatever else they want to throw out there), and who will hopefully review them and generate some buzz for the publishers. Like a grapevine, get it? And who would have figured that I would get an invitation? I had no idea I was a top reviewer. I just like to treat everyone to my wisdom. ;-)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Booga complete

Booga oogaDone & felted! Isn't it cute? It's a bit wildly colored for a forty-something mom, but perfect for a teenager... so Ali glommed on to it. That makes two out of the last two projects that she liked way better than I did. No way she's getting my Angelina, though.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

What's on the needles - July 07 edition

Cali boogieBeen a while since I showcased my work in process -- as usual, I have a couple of different things between which I'm bouncing, to keep from getting too bored. My quickie project at the moment is the Booga Bag from the Noro that I picked up in California -- as I hoped, the colorway is knitting up like a beach extravaganza.
AngelinaMy long-term project is an Angelina jacket, knit in a long-languishing stash of Elann's Quechua, a sport-weight alpaca/tencel blend, in a yummy eggplant color. I've cast on the back (with a provisional edge; I'll come back later & knit the lace downward) and am moving up towards the shoulders. It's slow going, what with the small needles & hundreds of stitches.

My knitting bag, by the way, is a Tom Bihn Utility Tote, which I love. I bought it back in 2003 because of a political joke on the care label, and was surprised and pleased to find that the bag itself is a marvel of durability (even thought the joke got re-elected.)
Ready for the closeupHere's a closer shot of Angelina, which does a little better justice to the luxe yarn. It's a little bit haloed (the alpaca) and incredibly soft (the tencel). Folks who see me working on it tend to want to pet the yarn. Can't say I blame them! :-)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly HallowsNo spoilers here, I'm just going to say that it was great... a densely plotted, dark and satisfying denoument to the series. I read it at a gallop, of course, finishing it in about nine hours yesterday. Now I'm going to start it again tonight and read slowly.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Spring Sox

Spring SoxYarn: Knitpick's Dancing
Needles: 2
Pattern: none, I make this stuff up

Dancing is a wool/cotton/elastic sock blend which has sadly been discontinued (only a few clearance colors left)... it knits up into a springy bouncy fabric that is a joy to wear. I made a basic short-row heel sock with a waffle stitch pattern on the ankle & instep. There's a funny S-shaped pooling on the front, who knows why?

I asked Ali to model them here, and she liked them so much that she refused to give them back!

Friday, July 06, 2007

A Visit on the Fourth

Boo and her new NomadMy sister, who doesn't update her blog nearly enough because she is generally out riding around instead, visited us over the Fourth of July... which seems a little silly since we just saw her when we were in California last month, but, hey, she was on a cross-country trip and she was going through the Midwest anyway, right? You'll have to check her blog if you want to see her pictures of Gettysburg and such, which she may get around to posting sometime before 2015. But she was in Missouri for three days, and I can post pictures of that.
Don't have one of these on the left coastShe arrived on the Fourth, with the express intent of setting off an "insane" amount of incendiary entertainment. Fireworks of any variety, of course, are quite illegal in California -- even the safe-n-sane stuff will net you a stiff fine from the local constabulary, and with the very dry weather they've been having lately, you can bet the ban will be enforced more stringently than ever. Our rainy season, however, is being measured in feet, so not much in the way of fire danger here. (It rained hard for another three-quarters of an hour around dinnertime, just for good measure, but cleared up in time for the evening displays.)
Good gosh, lookit all the pretty stuffIt was definitely kid-in-a-candy-store time at the fireworks warehouse. We picked up a whole lot of mortars & fountains, as well as the usual bunch of firecrackers, bottle rockets, sparklers, Roman candles, etc. etc.
Fire in the holeEarly evening is when you set off the bottle rockets and noisy-but-not-pretty stuff, saving the big displays for full dark. I got a couple pics before it got too dusky.
Smoke bombsWe littered the driveway of the dome with smoke bombs and other debris, and a good time was had by all!
Behold the Guber BurgerThe next day was Big Driving Day. Boo had seen our part of the state before, but had never been down into the lake region, so we did a little touring. First, though, we had to stop at the Wheel Inn in nearby Sedalia for a Guber Burger. (Boo found the writeup on the Web last year, and specifically requested that we make a Wheel Inn run on this visit. The waitress didn't believe her when she said she had come all the way from California for a Guber Burger.)
Shoreline at Thunder MountainFrom Sedalia, we headed south to the Lake of the Ozarks, an unbelievably beautiful area. Lots of it is developed for resort use, but there is still plenty of untouched forested shoreline. We headed down to Thunder Mountains State Park...
The cave onyx formation behind the fence is the largest ever discovered...and took the cave tour at Bridal Cave. We had been there before, but Boo hadn't; and it was worth a second look anyhow -- it really is a beautiful cave formation, and the tour is quite interesting. It lasts about an hour, which is long enough to not feel rushed but short enough that the kids don't get too bored. I recommend it to anyone in the area. Afterwards, we enjoyed a leisurely drive around the lake and headed towards home.
Just to round out Big Driving Day with another food-tourism stop, we ate dinner at LeMaire's, another Sedalia institution. They don't have a website, but they do have the best catfish you've ever had outside of New Orleans.
Woo Hoo!It wouldn't be a proper visit without getting a ride on Auntie Boo's new bike! It's not every kid who has a biker chick for an aunt...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Noro Booga

Noro Kureyon, how lusciousAnother California adventure story, this one involving yarn! Since my knit-from-your-stash rules allow for souvenir yarn shopping, I dragged Mike & the kids into the very cool Wildfiber on the way back from our visit to the Santa Monica Pier. Usually, souvenir yarn means a couple skeins of sock yarn, but the Noro Kureyon was irresistable. Color 154, in particular, is such a cheerful, beachy, tie-dye riot that it just screamed "Venice Beach" at me. I picked up three skeins for a Booga Bag.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

California Dreamin'

We're back from a visit to Los Angeles! We were there for a week, too much to tell everything, but here are a few highlights:
    Suzanne & Ali in the kitchen... don't you love Suzanne's new countertops?
  • Hanging out with our old neighbor, who has recently gone through a difficult divorce...

  • Steven is not really tall enough to guard Ali, but he tries... we had a good long gab and a promise to come visit us when the dome is finished. The kids played some backyard hoops...
    Grill Master at Work...while Mike captained the grill.
    Taken near the trailhead of Switzer Falls... the hills look very dry
  • Having dinner with my sister, and driving back up Angeles Crest a little ways to admire the view (and just for something to do!)

  • CA pedicurists, unlike MO pedicurists, have no idea what to make of chigger bites
  • Can't go to the beach without a pedicure! Ali & I splurged.

  • Beautiful, sunny day; here looking north towards Pacific Palisades & Malibu
  • A visit to the Santa Monica Pier, which has some carnival rides, bumper cars & roller coaster type stuff...
  • Santa Monica, and the roller coaster in the foreground...and a great view from atop the Ferris wheel.
    Tony Shalhoub plays Adrian Monk
  • Only in California, part 1: The bumper cars ride, amusingly named Sig Alert, was closed because of a crew filming an episode of Monk.
  • There's a backup on the 405... oh wait a secThe scene involved Monk riding around on the back of a bumper car for some reason -- we don't normally watch the show, but I think we'll have to start, just so we can spot this scene.
    The height of luxury
  • Only in California, part 2: Look at the port-a-potties that were trucked in for the film crew. Yes... they have AIR CONDITIONERS. Mike & I howled!

  • America's next top models
  • Pizza with one of Ali's friends!
  •