Tuesday, March 29, 2005

I hate being sick. I spent most of Sunday in bed, except when Shaun wasn't home and I had to be up with Emma. Thankfully, I seem to be over the worst of it now. At least the congestion has cleared out of my sinuses and my face no longer feels like it's going to explode. And the congestion didn't go into my ears this time, praise be!

Yum yum yummy chicken soup. I made this last night. Of course, I was feeling better by then, but earlier I was feeling to cruddy to even think about making soup. Ironic, that. Too sick to make soup that will make me feel better.

I didn't get much done on Dad's sweater over the weekend, obviously. I did about 15 rounds yesterday once I started feeling better, but there's still a long way to go. The beginnning rounds of the raglan decreases are so long and cumbersome! All the front, back and sleeve stitches, 450ish, jammed onto one 24" circular. It's always such a relief once a few decrease rounds are done and it's not so crowded. Once I get a few more decreases done, I'll switch to two circulars (front and sleeve on one, back and sleeve on the other) and knit it like socks on two circulars. It doesn't work very well to do that in the beginning rounds, since there are so many stitches- better to have them all contained on one needle.

Emma and I went off-island on Saturday (even though my throat was starting to feel a little scratchy....pay attention to those warnings, dummy!) to get her some new shoes. She had outgrown her size 4's, and the only shoes that fit were her boots. So we ventured to the stores on the mainland. I was shocked at how hard it was to find a pair of just regular sneakers. I don't want ones that light up, or make sounds, or have Disney Princesses or Barbie or lace on them, or cost $60. (SIXTY dollars for a pair of toddler sneakers that will be outgrown in two months???!!!!) We just needed a pair of plain shoes that won't fall apart in a week, that she can run around in and get dirty. Geesh. Is that so much to ask? We finally did get a pair of size 6's at Fred Meyer, but only after looking at two discount stores and three shoe stores.

That they were on sale and only cost $10 was great, but they were also the only non-commercial, non-lighted pair we saw all day. What ever happened to the little red or blue canvas sneakers thay used to sell?

Emma and I are off to playgroup in a little while. Today is her last time at this particular group, since it is only for babies up to 18 months. Now we'll only be able to go to the toddler group. They always have a little "graduation ceremony" when a kid leaves the group, with crackers and juice and the presentation of a "diploma." I'll bring the camera to preserve the moment for posterity, and will probably get all teary and sloppy.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

I finished the second sleeve last night. Tonight I will redo the calculations for the raglan decreases and start knitting the yoke. The end is in sight! At least I don't have to do the calculations from scratch- just plug in new numbers to the write-up from the first time around, allowing for a deeper armhole. Thank goodness I kept good notes!

I spun the rest of the Colonial roving this morning while Emma was napping, and plyed it all up while she was engaged in transferring Cheerios from bowl to bowl after lunch. (Putting little things in containers is really big with her right now.) This is 15.5 oz. and 1020 yds of three-ply.

Love it. Love the colors, love the softness, love the squishability. I was browsing around the web the other day, and I'm reasonably sure this was Ashland Bay Trading Company top. The colorway looks just like the "Teal Multicolor Top" shown on their website. I s'pose I could call the store I got it from, to be sure. I would definitely buy Ashland Bay top again, if that is indeed what it is. Great product, super easy to spin.

The little skein farthest away in the picture is the "leftover skein," Navajo-plied from the last bobbin that had singles on it. It's only about 100 yds. I was surprised at how well it matches the other skeins. It's slightly fuzzier and slightly more uneven since it wasn't made of three separate singles smoothly run together all in the same direction, but really, it doesn't look bad. If I run short of yarn on Emma's sweater, it will do fine for cuffs. I was also glad to see that Navajo plying "clicked" for me this time. Last time I tried it, about a year ago, I couldn't keep up and got an overtwisted mess. This time my hands just seemed to know what to do.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

I'm rolling along, making good progress on the sweater- I stayed up waaaay too late last night. I finished three repeats of the big cable while catching up on all the episodes of Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis I missed while the inlaws were here. I love TiVo.

Emma and I spent a lovely couple hours working in the garden yesterday. I got all the dead flowerheads clipped off the lavender, daisy, and oregano plants, pulled out the dead petunias, and chopped the Dusty Miller and Russian Sage back basically to the ground. The Dusty Miller was frost-damaged and looked straggly, and the Russian Sage was wildly out of control. Both have lots of new shoots showing, so I think they'll come through fine and be lovely and bushy this summer. There was a ginormous peppermint plant that I cut off every stem taller than one inch. It looks to be taking over the corner of the garden by the deck, and maybe this will slow it down. (Yeah, right. I'll probably have to dig out the whole thing and put it in a pot to contain it. Even that may not work. It is deliciously fragrant, though.) I also pulled about 10 bucketloads of weeds from the paths and beds, though that was just the tip of the iceburg. The garden looks so much better now, with the plants trimmed. There are LOTS of slugs, though, and they are chomping the pansies we planted a week or so ago. I may invest in another cheap window box and replant them in that to get away from the slugs. Nothing else seems affected. I found at least four different kinds of lavender, so it will be really pretty to see them start to bloom.

While I was working, Emma mostly played. She used the trowel to transfer walkway gravel to a 4" pot, then dumped it out and started again. That lasted about 45 minutes. For a while, she helped with the weeding, but lost interest in that fairly quickly. Then she discovered the slugs. Slugs are fun, slugs are slimy, slugs are the coolest thing ever. They are fun to pick up and bring over to put in a pile by Mommy. Especially fun was the 6" banana slug she found under a lavender plant. She carried it around for a good five minutes before we let it go in the woods, unharmed. A girl after my own heart.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Well, we solved the mystery of the remote. I had started to think it wasn’t Emma’s fault at all, but me who had put it somewhere without realizing it. I looked everywhere- freezer, pantry shelves, oven. EVERYWHERE. For like the fourteenth time. Then, as I was dusting on Wednesday, I asked her again "where’s the remote," and she did this:

Yes, that’s right, she stuck her arm into the speaker. I tilted it and heard something slide inside. Apparently, the hole in the front only goes about halfway back, then there’s just open space, with enough room for the remote to fall to the bottom. In order to get it out, we had to completely remove the speaker assembly from the back. The fun never ends...

Fibery activities in the past few days have been somewhat limited because my in-laws were visiting. I spun another bobbin of singles of the Colonial top, and plied up another skein of three-ply. I think I’ve got a little more than half the top plied into finished yarn, and another couple ounces still on the bobbins as singles. I started the second sleeve for Dad’s sweater, and got through two cable repeats. Other than that, I haven’t done anything except visitor-y things.

I really do like Shaun’s dad and stepmom, but I was sort of glad when they left today. It’ll be nice to get back to our usual routine. I feel like I didn’t have a weekend, with all the visiting and driving around and cooking. Plus, our car wasn’t quite big enough for the four grownups plus Emma’s carseat, so we put the seat in their rental car and Shaun’s dad drove everywhere. Let me just say right here that I do not like his driving. It’s very scary, what with the random steering, jerky braking, erratic speed control, and inability to follow directions. I get a tension headache within about three minutes, and it doesn’t go away for hours. Every time I drive with him, I tell myself “never again,” but somehow I keep having to. You can’t exactly tell your (otherwise really very nice) father-in-law that he’s a menace and you don’t want to get in a car with him at the wheel. Actually, maybe I should have said just that.

One nice thing about having them here was that I could leave Emma with them so I could go to aerobics class. (Yes, I’m still going!) The childcare at the gym only goes until 10:20, but my class goes to 11:00. Normally, Shaun picks her up so I can finish the class, but with Grandma and Grandpa here, the three of them just stayed home and played. I don’t know what I’m going to do starting next week. Shaun’s teaching a class this quarter, and won’t be available. Need to think about that.

On a completely unrelated tangent, last night I dreamed that Anubis (from Stargate SG-1 TV show) was really a Sith Lord (from Star Wars movies), and we were battling while riding Pern dragons (from Anne McCaffrey books). Now I’m having crossover sci-fi dreams.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

I plied up another full bobbin of the Colonial last night, and it came out pretty much the same as the first one, so no picture. Plus I forgot to bring the camera home. I really like this yarn- the colors are so pretty. There are still some singles left on the bobbins, but I don't think there's enough for a full skein of three-ply, so I'll spin more singles before I ply again.

I still haven't started the second sleeve on Dad's sweater, mainly because most of my free time at home over the past two days has been taken up with looking for the DirectTV/TiVo remote. Emma carried it off somewhere on Sunday morning, and it hasn't been seen since. Shaun has looked, I've looked, we've asked Emma where it is, but no luck. It's not like there are that many places it could be! You'd think that if you look EVERYWHERE in EVERY room of the ENTIRE house, you'd find it. I just don't get it. There was only about a two-hour window between the last time we saw her with it and when we missed it, and during that time nobody left the house. It's like it evaporated. I'm sure it's somewhere, but wherever the hiding place is, it's a good one.

Monday, March 14, 2005

I had another productive fibery weekend. I was eager to spin some of the bluey-greeney top I got last week, but I made myself finish the first sleeve of Dad’s sweater first. Actually, I don’t have to make myself work on it, I really like it.

I finished this on Saturday morning. Turns out I misread my own directions, and there are really only 7.5 cable repeats up the sleeve, not 9, so I didn’t have as far to go as I thought I did. Not sure why I though there were nine- I quite clearly wrote 7.5 when I was doing the calculations. It came out the dimensions I was aiming for, the revised and hopefully accurate size this time. It fits on my husband’s arm fine, so I have high hopes.

After I finished the sleeve, I wanted to spin, but before I started I made a lapcloth. I put a piece of white duck cloth and a piece of dark green together, rounded the corners, and sewed bias tape around the edge. Simple and non-bulky. I did light and dark sides so I can use the white side when I spin dark or colored fibers, and the green side when I spin light fibers. I’ve wanted to make one of these since I started spinning, but obviously I’m a procrastinator.

Anyway, after I finished sewing, I started spinning. This stuff is dreamy. It flows through my fingers and basically spins itself. I love the way the colors play off and blend with each other, though the turquoise comes through more strongly than I thought it would. I spun two bobbins full on Saturday, staying up much too late. I’m spinning medium fine, and the three-ply comes out about sport-weight, maybe a little thinner. It’s 16 wraps per inch after washing. The singles (33 wraps per inch) look so cool, all stripey and swirly.

The lapcloth really makes a big difference in comfort of spinning. I don’t have to move my head around to try and get the wool against an appropriately colored background so I can see what I’m doing.

Yesterday I spun up another full bobbin, rewound all three, and started plying. I did one full bobbin of three-ply, but then Emma woke up and wanted to play, so that was it for spinning. The finished yarn is lovely. I spun it fairly firmly, smoothing in the twist with a worsted short-draw since I want a durable yarn that won’t pill and will show crisp cables. Even with the firm twist, it’s still soft and feels good.

This skein is 235 yds. and 3.7 oz. I still have enough singles to do at least another full bobbin of three-ply. I love the way the colors look in the plied yarn. It reads as solid dark turquoisey-lavender from a distance, but up close you see all the sparks of purple and blue and green.

I’m quite pleased with my spinning on this project. The top is so well prepared that my singles are very consistent. I’m pre-drafting it first to loosen it up, and then just spinning. There’s no vegetation in it, and no neps, and I can spin without breaking the rhythm at all. The Colonial wool isn’t as soft or crimpy as Merino or Rambouillet, but it is a good sweater-type wool, if it’s not a next-to-the-skin type sweater. The whole time I was spinning, I was daydreaming about what I’ll knit this into for Emma. What cables should I use, cardigan or pullover, ribbing or straight hem, lacy eyelets or not- all the fun choices that go into sweater design.

As you can see from that last picture, spring is in full swing here. Around town I’ve seen daffodils, crabapples, cherries, hyacinths, late crocus, early tulips, camellias, rosemary, heather, and pansies blooming. In the yard, only the daffodils are blooming so far, but the tulip and allium leaves are getting big, and I noticed lily stems about 5 inches out of the ground yesterday. Emma and I went to the garden center and got some pansies and lemon thyme to put in the planter on our front porch. She picked them out- it seems she likes purple pansies better than yellow!

Speaking of Emma, we had another milestone yesterday, one I would rather have waited on. She climbed out of her big crib by herself. Oy. I knew it was coming, but I really wish she would have waited. She’s such a little monkey. I was spinning and all of a sudden I heard a small thump. It was small enough that I thought she might have just thrown one of her stuffed animals out of the crib, but I went and checked anyway. She was sitting in the middle of her room looking at a book, and when I opened the door she looked up and said “Hi!”

I put her back in the crib and left the room, but kept the door cracked open so I could see how she climbed out (to make sure she wasn’t going over head first or anything). It was amazing. She grabbed the side rail of the crib (which is at chin-level) with both hands, put her left foot on top of the rail and hooked her ankle over, then just heaved herself out. She hung on with both hands until she was fully over, then let go and dropped to the floor. It’s incredible that a little girl only 18 months old can do all this reasoning, problem solving, and gymnastics. She only started walking full-time seven months ago!

Friday, March 11, 2005

Thanks to everyone for the well-wishes about the sweater. I know that ultimately I'll be glad I frogged it, but it sure was a hard step! I started the first sleeve Wednesday night and got the ribbing and half a repeat of the big cable done. While following Emma around the ferry yesterday, I was able to get to halfway through the fourth cable repeat. There are to be nine repeats up the sleeve before joining the sleeves to the body, so I'm halfway there.

I do so love cables. I'm always amazed, even after all these years of knitting, to watch a plain ball of yarn be transformed into an intricate texture pattern. I'm just pulling loops through loops, but it seems almost magical. Color patterns don't have the same effect- it's the texture that gets me.

I was in a bit of a slump earlier this week, after ripping out the sweater. I guess I should have known better than to take up this project right after finishing the alpaca shawl and ugly pink sweater and coming off the Scrapbook Binge. I did finish all the wedding and honeymoon pictures, and organized the next year's worth of photos so as to be ready for the next time I go on a scrapbook binge. I think finishing those three big projects in less than a month, followed immediately by frogging my beautiful sweater, kind of burned me out for a bit. I didn't do anything fibery at all, I just read and watched TV. I couldn't get enthusiastic about anything.

However, Shaun left town for a job interview across the country on Wednesday morning, so I started the sleeve. Enthusiasm has returned. I love watching the cables emerge, and it seems to be going quickly. It'll be nice to finally give Dad his sweater. I just hope it fits this time!

In the picture above, you can see two goodies I picked up while I was off-island yesterday- an umbrella swift and some roving. I've wanted a swift for a long time, but they are so expensive! I popped into a yarn shop before heading back to the ferry, and good thing I did. The swift was drastically marked down, because it's scratched. I don't mind in the least, as it's purely cosmetic. I'm not exactly sure what happened with the roving. It kind of launched itself off the shelf and into my hands, and somehow was rung up with the swift and put in my bag. It's a pound of lovely soft Colonial top, with blues and greens and purples and teal. The medium blue exactly matches Emma's eyes, and this will become a sweater for her.

Monday, March 07, 2005

A Sad Sweater Story

In 2003, I designed an Aran sweater from scratch for my dad. It was to be a Christmas present. I had lots of fun making swatches and playing with different cable combinations- I did each cable as a separate swatch so I could move them around and try them in different orders. I settled on a grouping that I liked, graphed the combined cable pattern, and did all the calculations for a bottom-up raglan sweater knit seamlessly in the round. It was a great learning excercise in garment construction. I knit the sweater and finished it in time to enter it in the 2003 County Fair. I was delighted when it won not only a blue ribbon, but the People's Choice Award.

I was very proud of myself, not only because I really liked the cable combination:

and the way all the cables came together at the shoulder:

but because I had done it completely myself. (Except for coming up with the big cable patterns- those were from Barbara Walker's books.) I calculated the raglan decreases, the neck shaping, the sleeve shaping, and worked the cables into the decreases. It was a new and totally unique garment. Hooray for me!

Except it didn't fit. The armholes weren't deep enough, and the cuffs were too tight, though the circumference of the body was fine. I sat on this problem for over a year (and incidentally had a baby, so I wasn't busy or anything). I debated leaving it as is and knitting a new sweater for Dad. The armhole and cuffs fit me fine, after all. I liked the color, and don't have any other sweaters like this. I could just keep it. So I tried it on again last night and asked Shaun how it looked, if it was too big. He said "Yes." That was the wrong answer so I asked again, "It really looks too big on me?" He said "Yes, it looks sloppy."

All right, so I knew that was really true, I just didn't want to admit it. Yesterday I bit the bullet. My beautiful sweater now looks like this:

I do have enough yarn to reknit it in a larger size, but man, it hurt to rip all that out!

Friday, March 04, 2005

Odd fact for the day:

I not only dream in color, I dream in taste and smell. Last night I dreamed that I was cooking and eating Pad Thai. I could smell the garlic in the dream-wok, and I could taste the soy sauce and peanuts as I dream-ate.

Is this normal? Should I make Pad Thai for dinner? Is anyone other than me hungry right now?

Thursday, March 03, 2005

If you popped in to see knitting, spinning, crocheting, or weaving progress, I'm sorry but I must disappoint yet again. This scrapbooking binge has taken on a life of it's own.

I am now two-thirds of the way through the honeymoon pictures, and I'm beginning to think that I'll be able to finish that whole trip before I lose interest and flit off to another project. The problem is that Shaun and I just take so many pictures!

Since I have no fibery progess to show, and because One Crazy Fiber Lady was nice enough to ask, here are a few scrapbook pages I recently completed (sorry for the glare-ridden photos, I couldn't get rid of it.)

One of the reception...

And several of Acadia National Park and Great Wass Island...

Schoodic Point.

These are two of my favorite pages. The flowers in this botanical garden were so pretty!

Thunder Hole and island views.

Great Wass Island. My favorite hike ever.

More Great Wass Island.

As you can see, I prefer pages that are mostly photos, with minimal embellishments. To me, pages that have so many stickers and die-cuts and other frou-frou that they overpower the pictures kind of miss the point.

In other news, I'm pleased to report that I have been to aerobics seven times in a row, plus the first two times at the earlier class- Monday/Wednesday/Friday for three weeks. I haven't missed a scheduled workout since Feb. 16, and I feel much better. I've even lost 3 pounds! Not that weight loss is really the goal- I just want to feel better. But after six months of fertility treatments, 38 weeks of pregnancy, and tired-mommy-syndrome for a year and a half, a little weight loss wouldn't hurt. I may not be a tired slug much longer. The key for me is to just tell myself "This is what I have to do. It is not optional. I do not go just when I feel like it. It is part of my routine, like cleaning the cat box or vacuuming. Deal with it." If I don't build it into my weekly schedule, I'll start thinking that I can skip "just this once," and then the whole thing is out the window.