Saturday, January 28, 2006

I love Pacific Northwest winters. It's cool and damp, foggy and misty and lovely. Here's the view today at 1:27 from the lab where I work, looking across the Lab's dock and the harbor, to the town docks and the ferry landing. The big white boat is a car ferry. Notice that the lights on the dock, which are activated by ambient light sensors, are on. At 1:27 pm.

Because the weather has been like this for about a week, I've been doing this:

Is there anything that compares to home-baked bread? I got fancy with one loaf and made it into cinnamon swirl bread. Oh, my. These are actually the loaves I baked last Tuesday. I made another batch this morning. They're white bread, which isn't my favorite, but I'm out of whole wheat flour. Need to remedy that situation, as I'm having lots of fun with the kneading and the baking and the consuming.

I also wanted to share a picture of the new fishies. (Oh, excuse me. Acording to Emma these are not called "fishies" like the guppies were. No, these are "stripies.") The Glowlight Tetras have been with us for an entire, complete week now, so maybe I won't be jinxing them to post a picture. Sorry it's so blurry, but have you ever tried to take a picture of 1" long, shiny, VERY FAST fish? This is the best one I was able to get, after spending way too long trying. At least the colors are fairly true. They have very cool pinkish-orange DayGlo racing stripes extending from the tops of their eyes to their tails.

In other exciting news from our house, lookit this!

Emma has Big Girl Underwear!! She's been making great progress on the potty-training, and last time we were off-island, I got her some to wear during the day. She's very proud of them, and though there have been a few accidents, she usually gets to the potty in time.

Perhaps that was more than you wanted to know about my daughter's toiletting habits, but after changing diapers for more than two years, trust me, it's a huge deal and I'm very proud of her. I think the underwear was the catalyst in getting her to use the potty regularly, because she doesn't like getting them wet and is very aware of it when they do get wet.

One last thing before I close. After finishing the Chevron Shawl, I was thoroughly in the knitting groove so I immediately started a new project. This is a project I've been thinking of doing for about five years, ever since we moved to Washington and started working at the Lab. I've spent the past week and a half working on the charts and sampling. Here's a preview, and the inspiration for the project.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I've been tagged again! Twice! Brought to you courtesy of Liz at Pocket Farm and Cyndy at Riverrrim, here are some tidbits about me...

Four jobs you’ve had in your life:
1. Florist
2. Endangered species/wetlands biologist
3. Fruit fly wrangler (raising more than a dozen different strains for developmental biologists to use in their research)
4. Mom

Four movies (or groups of movies) you could watch over and over again:
1. the most recent Lord of the Rings trilogy
2. Harry Potter (up to four movies now)
3. Medicine Man
4. The BBC version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movies (actually it's TLWW, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and The Silver Chair)

Four places you have lived:
1. suburban Connecticut
2. small-town Maine
3. small-city and rural North Carolina
4. an island off the coast of Washington State

Four TV shows you like to watch:
1. Statgate: SG1
2. Stargate: Atlantis
3. National Geographic nature specials
4. crafty shows

Four places you’ve been on vacation:
(I'm counting "vacation" as a planned trip longer than a weekend)

1. Maine
2. Switzerland
3. Ireland
4. Costa Rica

Four websites you visit daily:
1. Bloglines for many, many great blogs
2. my email site
3. google
4. eBay (not every day, but often)

Four of your favorite foods:
1. Chocolate
2. cinnamon-raisin bagels with lots of cream cheese
3. citrus-glazed roasted pork loin with orange-cranberry relish
4. real stove-popped popcorn with butter and salt

Four places you would rather be right now:
1. Maine
2. at the beach
3. at home in my comfy chair, knitting
4. anywhere Emma and Shaun are (cheesy, I know, but what can I say?)

And I'll add a foursome of my own:

Four books/series/authors you like and have read more than once:
1. Pern books by Anne McCaffrey (actually all her books, not just the Pern series)
2. Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling
3. Lord of the Rings books by J.R.R. Tolkien
4. Dune series by Frank Herbert

Four bloggers you are tagging:
1. Is there anyone out there who hasn't done this yet? If so, consider yourself tagged.
2. Oh, waterlilysage, have you been tagged yet?

Monday, January 23, 2006

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of the three guppies whose pictures appeared here last week. They will be remembered fondly for the fun peek-a-boo games they brought to the aquarium, and for the short time they were with us, they brought much joy.

I felt like a terrible fish-mom.

I think the ferry ride was too much for them. Either that, or people should never buy fish from Petco. I will say that their customer service is terrible. When we were off-island on Saturday for Shaun's swim meet, I took the poor pitiful corpses back to the store to get a refund and some more fish, taking along a water sample from the tank, as per their 15-day money-back freshwater fish guarantee. They did give me the refund, after I told them about it (the twinkie working the fish section apparently didn't know about it- actually, I'm not sure she knew much of anything). Despite the fact that the tests didn't show anything wrong with the water, she refused to sell me any more fish! She said (and I quote) "I can't in good conscience let you have more fish, when you've already killed three." I just stood there for a minute, looking at her, then I turned around and left before I said something I would have regretted.

Now I remember why we stopped buying dog food from that particular Petco.

We went across the parking lot to Sprawl-Mart (ugh) and got five Glowlight Tetras (they didn't have guppies). Two days later, I am happy to report that they are still swimming, even though they had to endure a longer ferry ride than the guppies did, in colder weather. I am feeling cautiously optimistic about their survival.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Meet the newest addition to our home…

Inhabited by…

Three male guppies, resplendent in their fancy tail-ness. There will eventually be several more males and possibly a female, so that Emma can watch babies grow up. There will, of course, also be at least one snail. Snails are simply too cool to leave out of an aquarium.

A friend gave Emma this seven gallon tank and lighted hood for Christmas a year ago, and I resisted setting it up for a long time. (An entire year, if fact.) I knew that if we set it up I would be the one doing the feeding and cleaning, so I was adamant that I Didn’t. Want. Fish. However, Emma has been enthralled by the fish displays in the pet store, and I finally gave in. When she and I were off island on Sunday, we got some plants and a heater and set up the tank. (I already had a filter, rocks, and gravel from the tank I had in North Carolina.) We didn’t get any fish that day, but just got the tank running and acclimating, and we planned to get the fish next Saturday because Shaun was going off island anyway for a swim meet.

We unexpectedly ended up going to the mainland again yesterday, because we needed to renew our driver’s licenses (HOW can we have been living in Washington State for five years already??!!) and Shaun needs an un-expired one before the weekend since he has to fly to Oregon on Sunday for a job interview. So we got some fish.

Despite the fact that I was dragged kicking and screaming into setting up the tank (all right, so it was my decision, but Emma guilted me into it), I’m ridiculously excited about it. I had a tank about this size in North Carolina, with some mosquito fish and snails that I got out of the creek I did my Master’s thesis research in. It lived on my desk at school until I graduated, and went with me when we moved from Wilmington to Pittsboro so that Shaun could do his PhD at UNC-Chapel Hill. The fish eventually died of old age, and when we moved to Washington I didn’t want to move an aquarium of North Carolina snails across the country, so I packed it away.

Emma and I spent about an hour last night just watching the fish. We fed them, and she thought it was just about the coolest thing ever when they darted around to suck up the bits of fish flakes. She played peek-a-boo with the yellow-tailed one when it was swimming around the plants, and she said “Hi fishie!” every time one came up to the front glass. It was so cute.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

So, umm, yeah. I’ve been obsessed with this shawl. On Friday night, I finished knitting the body, and designed the edging. I couldn’t resist starting the edging even though I should have been toddling off to bed….I picked up a gazillion stitches along the sides of the shawl, and knit a few repeats and did a test stretch to see how the edging looked with the chevron pattern.

Looks good, so the next morning I’m off and running! By that night, I had turned the point. Wonder of wonders, my calculations worked and the point actually came out even and symmetrical, as seen in the second test stretch.

Emma and I went off island on Sunday, so I didn’t knit at all during the day. Sunday night, however, saw Emma tucked in for an early bedtime (fun times buying diapers and dog food on the mainland meant no nap for the little one) and me happily sitting in my chair and knitting away. At 3:00 a.m. (I know, I know…) I finished the last row of the I-cord along the top edge.

A nice warm bath and some quality time with the blocking sheet and T-pins yesterday, and I am proud to present The Chevron Shawl:

I am deliriously happy with the way this turned out.

I would have been pleased with this project if I had knit it with commercial yarn and a published pattern. To know that I also spun the yarn and designed the pattern myself adds that extra fillip that makes me feel bigger inside than my skin can contain.

This shawl looks just like what I had in mind when I was spinning the yarn- a geometric laciness, but not too fussy. This project was so fun. It was the exact opposite of the “Knitting Black Hole.” Instead of knitting and knitting and knitting and never seeming to get anywhere, it seemed like I knit for a just a little while and suddenly, whoosh! A giant chunk of fabric had appeared. I love it when a project just flows like that. Both lace patterns (the body and the edging) were easy to memorize, and my fingers just knew what to do.

The specs:
950 yards of handspun sportweight two-ply (15 wpi), gently spun with a worsted short draw
Knit on one US 5 Addi Turbo circular (US 8 for the I-cord)
Finished size: 80” across the top edge, 40” from the center top edge to the point

Monday, January 09, 2006

This is how I spent Friday night.

Wild and crazy, I know. But I got to watch my Stargates, I had M&Ms (Which were a TREAT, by the way. I do not, as a general rule, have them in the house. Mostly because Emma and I can't leave them alone and would make ourselves sick on them.), and knitted. It was lovely.

This is the cranberry yarn I spun in November, from Ashland Bay colonial top. It's becoming a shawl with just a bit of laciness. The yarn didn't really want to be a complicated lacy pattern, as it's a light sportweight. I tried the fir cone pattern first, but that didn't look right, so I charted up this really simple chevron design, seen here as it looked Saturday morning.

I originally did it as a 10-stitch and 12-row repeat, so that each half of the chevron had four yarnovers. Then I realized that because the row count was more than the stitch count, the pattern got progressively farther and farther from the edge as the triangle grew. Each right side row adds one stitch on each side, so after two repeats, I had added 12 stitches (on each side), but then I only used up 10 of them (on each side) when I inserted another pattern repeat. By eliminating two rows of the pattern, it all comes out even and the side borders stay a consistent width. Of course, it took me 75 rows to figure this out, so most of what I knit on Thursday night was ripped out. But it's been smooth sailing since then, and I'm more than halfway up the shawl now. I think I've got 15 pattern repeats across the width now, and about 25-ish inches of length, unblocked.

I'm also going to put a knit-on pointed semi-lacy edging on the shawl, but haven't designed that yet.

Saturday, Emma and I went to the Textile Guild's holiday party. We called it a Twelfth Night party, since everyone's calender was too full in December to have it then. It was really fun. We had it on the ferry, on the interisland run that just does a loop through the islands (and is free if you just walk on), so that the Guild members from every island could attend. We had cookies, punch, and lots of other assorted goodies, a drawing for a year's free membership to the Guild, a donation jar to the Heifer Project, and a White Elephant gift exchange. I put in a couple crocheted snowflakes, and lookie what I got back!

I've had my eye on this book for a long time, and now I own it! It was still in the shrinkwrap, even. I read through it Saturday night, and it has TONS of patterns and great information. I've never made a shaped shawl in the Faroese style, so I'm looking forward to trying one. One of the things I dislike about shawls is that they don't stay put very well, and I think adding some shoulder shaping is a great idea.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Today is a Very Important Day. Today is the start of the second halves of season 9 of Stargate: SG-1 and Season 3 of Stargate: Atlantis.

(An aside to my sister: You can stop rolling your eyes now.)

There have been no new episodes since September, and this is a Big Deal. I have a new knitting project on the needles, and as soon as Emma is in bed this evening I will be ensconced in my chair with a tall glass of icewater, a dish of M&Ms, the TiVo remote, my knitting, and two new Stargates.

It's the little things.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I've been working on a hardanger piece for the past couple days. I originally planned for it to be a bookmark, but I think it may be a bit too wide, and I might put it in a box lid instead. We'll see how it looks after it's cut out.

I am making this up as I go along, just doodling. For some reason, it turned out with heart motifs, which is not my usual style at all. I first did the hardanger area very plain, with just woven bars and no filling stitches. I thought I wanted clean and simple, uncluttered. But when the piece was done, I thought it looked a little stark (this is half the piece- the other end is a mirror image):

So I added some filler stitching to one of the hardanger areas to see how it looked:

This is a huge improvement, and I think I sort of came up with an original filler pattern design! I mean, I'm sure that someone, somewhere has done this before, as it's just wrapped spokes worked in diagonal lines through the corners of the woven bars, but I don't think I've ever seen them worked this way, as an allover pattern.

I quite like it.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year! Happy Spring! Ok, so it's not spring yet. But look what I discovered in my yard this morning:

The daffodils are up!