Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm baaack!

What a difference a few hours in the air makes! I was here last week:

That's Sun Microsystems campus in Menlo Park, CA. When we arrived in San Francisco (an hour early, btw) on Monday, it was around 70 degrees F, which is unseasonably warm for this time of year. I went to my hotel room, opened the balcony door and enjoyed the fresh air. Those pictures were taken Tuesday. By Wednesday, it was overcast, a little drizzly and in the 50s and 60s for the rest of the week. Of course, when I left Cleveland, it was 10 degrees F, and had been snowing off and on for a week or two,so I wasn't going to complain.

This was waiting for me at home:

But so was this:

So it's all good.

I did get a lot of knitting done while I was gone. If you notice on the list to the right, I'm up to 30% done on the stealth knitting project, and I was only at 10% when I left. That's a whole skein of yarn's worth of knitting. Too bad I can't show it to you. I know, i'm such a tease... :)

I also made some progress on my second sock, which I can show you.

I'm on about my 4th row of the heel flap, but you can't really tell from that picture. My right thumb was really bothering me, so I gave it a little rest over the weekend. I also gave it a paraffin bath yesterday. Very nice!

And on a final note, can someone explain this to me?? I appreciate that it takes creativity to come up with something like that, but I just don't get it. Am I the only one who sees a big nose and lips?? Click around the other collections, too. Very bizarre, IMHO.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I'm calling it done

I decided my Booga Bag is just fine the way it is. I'm not going to try to re-felt it because I don't want it to be any shorter than it already is. So I put the handles on and sewed the button on the little bag that goes with it.

My little MP3 player is in the little bag, ready to go with me San Francisco tomorrow morning. I'm taking my sock, scarf, stealth knitting project and some Dear Jane blocks that need hand work with me. We'll see how much I actually get done while I'm gone. The stealth project should probably take priority. It does have a deadline, which will be here before I know it.

I always way over estimate how much stuff I need to take with me to read and/or work on. But you never know when your flight will be delayed, or worse, cancelled. I'm travelling with some guys from work, one of whom I taught to knit before Thanksgiving. Maybe we'll get to check out a yarn shop out there.

I'm all checked in already, too. Did you know you can go paperless? Continental lets you email your boarding pass to your phone/PDA so you can just display it when you go through security and board. Pretty cool. The other airlines might let you do that, too, but since I usually fly Continental, that's the only one I know about. Now, I just can't forget my Blackberry.....

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Socks, blocks, flowers and other stuff

I finished the toe on my first sock and started the second.

The ribbing is done and now I have a few inches of plain stockinette stitch to do. They will be fraternal, not identical socks, but they're pretty close.

Thursday was quilt night with the girls from work, and I finished two more Dear Jane blocks.

That's block C-6 and B-1, respectively. I'm up to 66 blocks now, not counting the one I have re-do. I'm making progress towards my goal of 85. They're not perfect, but they're Done, which is good.

Here are a couple of flower pictures to brighten up a cold winter day.

The first is a rose plant K gave me over the summer. There were three of them in the office at one point. Inexplicably, the only one still living is mine. Very strange, since I normally can't keep plants alive. The second picture is an amaryllis, which used to belong to me. I got it as a Christmas gift several years ago and despite severe neglect, it managed to stay alive at my house for a while. Then the cats started munching on it and it was time for the plant to go. One of the guys in the office had one in the window already, so I gave it to him to take care of. It's done really well under his care. There are two blooms on it, but I only took a picture of one. In the background you can see the big ship anchored in the seemingly frozen river.

In the "other stuff" category, we have this, which will be a Lovely Leaf Lace Scarf someday.

And the red mouse toy that Runt believes really wants to live in the kitty fountain.

This picture was taken about 5 minutes after I had removed said mouse from the fountain. I keep taking it out of the fountain, and Runt keeps putting it back in. I've pretty much given up. I can't imagine it does much for the flavor of the water, but what do I know?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Look! A sock!

I finished my first sock (again)!

Well, it's almost finished. I'm going to take it to my guild meeting on Tuesday and have someone show me how to finish the toe. But I tried it on, and it fits this time. Now I just have to cast on the second one before I get tired of socks!

We got our first big snowstorm (on my side of town) this weekend. I think we got about 6-8". John shoveled twice on yesterday, starting at the detached garage out back. He got as far as the front steps, figuring he'd finish up today. We went out this afternoon and finished up the rest, including the apron, which the plow had buried overnight. Four people knocked on the door yesterday asking if we wanted them to clear the driveway, including the ones in the evening who offered to finish up for $10. John kept telling them no. I think he was re-thinking that today.....

While he was shovelling, I decided to do a "quick" clean of the aquarium. When you put new fish in your tank and they're dead within hours, it's not a good sign. Poor things. Anyway, while I was cleaning the fish tank, I had the linen closet open.

Just inspecting these towels, Mama. They're comfy!

I'll close with one of the two bad jokes from the Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Page-a-Day calendar:

• A motorcycle cop pulled alongside a speeding car on the highway. He was amazed to see that the woman behind the wheel was actually knitting. The cop yelled, “Pull over!” “Nope,” the woman yelled back, “scarf!”

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dear Jane night

Tonight was my monthly Dear Jane meeting. I organized this group a year and a half ago to try to keep me motivated on my Dear Jane quilt. It worked pretty well for a while. I was making all kinds of progress, and I even participated in a holiday block swap. Then I got burned out and haven't really done much since May. Well, check it out:


I finished a block tonight!!

Keep in mind that my printer/scanner isn't the best at reproducing colors. It also has really crappy ink and one of these days I'm going to replace it, but I digress. Anyway, the block actually has a *black* background, not a sickly olive/baby poop color. I had the 9-patch-y part done already and just added the black piece around the edges. I machine/strip-pieced the layer underneath, then reverse appliqued the background on top. It's not perfect, but the "Mother Quilt" isn't perfect and as the Dear Jane rulers say, "Finished is better than perfect". Amen!

I'm not *quite* ready to say the Dear Jane dry spell is over, but at least I'm not completed stalled. When I got home, I pulled out the bag that has the block and triangle that I have to re-do in it. I might work on those this weekend to get "caught up" with the right numbers, then I can post the full accurate numbers, including piece count on goals section.

I also got some crappy cell phone pictures of the other ladies' completed Dear Jane tops. Here is Jeri's:

If I'm counting right, she did 81 of the blocks, all in different fabrics, I think. We thought she was crazy to piece together all those squares for the background, then she pointed out that the seam lines will help her mark the quilting pattern she wants to use. Good thinking, Jeri. She plans to have this done in time to enter it in the guild's quilt show - April 18-19 at Westlake High School - so I'll get a better picture of it then.

Here is Linda's Christmas Siggie quilt top:

A siggie exchange is another form of insanity. You make a 4.5" finished square-in-a-square block (which is D-13 in the Dear Jane quilt), with your name in the center, for everyone who signs up for the swap. If I recall the emails on the Dear Jane list, there were 128 participants this time around. These ladies do all sorts of things for the centers. Some of them write their names with fabric pens, which makes my hand cramp just thinking about it. A lot of them use rubber stamps (some of which are custom made for this purpose). I think some of them embroider their names, either by machine - or by hand(!). I saw at least one with a tiny button sewn on. I'm sure some had hot-fix crystals, too. Amazing! If I ever do a siggie swap, you can be sure I'll be making full use of my embroidery machine! I wonder how many of those center squares I could fit in my big hoop?

I also got a chance to take a picture of the chemo cap I knit for Linda:

This is the first meeting she's been to for a few months and I was really glad to see her. She looks great and still has her hair, more than half way through her treatments! I'll keep my fingers crossed that it stays that way. She wore the cap on the way out, which made me happy.

One of the other ladies in the group has several rows of blocks put together already, but she didn't bring them tonight. Next time I'll get a picture of those, too.

In wildlife news, a deer crossed the road in front of me on the way home from the meeting tonight. It was well ahead of me and was in no danger of being hit by me or anyone else, thankfully.

Also, I'm beginning to doubt Emma's assertions that she hates kittens. John was working from home yesterday and sent these two pictures within 15 minutes of each other:

She really gets around, doesn't she?

That's half a pink, fuzzy, formerly-dumbell-shaped cat toy behind her head in the second picture. The kittens have destroyed at least two of them so far. When a local PetSmart was going out of business, I bought 3 more, since they seem to like them so much. I haven't pulled out any of the new ones yet, since they still seem to like this one. Blue liked to play fetch with it, though lately he's been partial to the fleece-y mice. I thought he might have out-grown his fetching habit, but he's been doing it a lot lately. He's an odd little puppy-cat.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Four hours ago, this was a completed sock.

It was done, complete. I'd biffed a couple of place in the toe decreases, but that was okay. It was my first sock and it was Done. Then I tried it on. The foot was too short.

I'm using this pattern. For the most part, the instructions have been pretty good for a beginner, so I just went along with them. I'd started out making the sock for size 8-8.5, because I cast on without the pattern in front of me and my friend said go with 60 stitches. That was pretty good advice, because the sock seemed to be okay in circumference. But the pattern said to knit till the foot measured 4.75" from the center back of the heel for size 6-6.5, which is my normal size. Since sometimes I go up to a 7, I decided to knit till it was 5", then decrease. Still too short. I was thinking maybe my wide feet shortened it up a bit?

Then I checked a couple of other sock books, and I'm convinced the pattern I'm using is WRONG. The Yarn Harlot says the length of a woman's size 6 foot is 9" and that knitting a top-down sock 5" from the picked up stitches should fit an "average woman". I take that to mean someone with slightly bigger feet than I have. The picked up stitches on my sock are about 1.25" from the center back of the heel. So, the Yarn Harlot thinks I should have started the decreases somewhere around the 6.25" mark.

Laura Chau, in Teach Yourself Visually: Sock Knitting, says a woman's size 5-7 is 8.5" and that you should knit the foot till it's 2" less than the total desired sock foot length, measured from the center back of the heel. Which would be about 6.5", not 4.75" as my pattern recommends.

Wonderful. Now what? I have some yarn leftover from the first ball, but I determined that if I knit the second sock the correct size, I won't have enough yarn to knit a 3rd sock from the leftovers of the two balls. So my only option, since I want to actually wear these socks, was to frog back to before the decrease. I ended up going back an additional inch or so, because it was easier to see the stitches at a light/dark color transition. With the help of some crochet hooks, a set of skinnier DPNs, and not without some swearing, I think I'm in good shape. I have 60 stitches on the needles, and I'm pretty sure the top needle is centered with half the stitches on it. One good thing about having your stitches laddering on the bottom, it shows where your needles used to be. I might be off by a stitch one way or the other, but I don't think that's going to make *that* big a difference.

So I'm bummed that I basically lost half a day's knitting, but I'm glad I recovered and will eventually have a sock that fits. Stupid pattern. I'll be knitting till it's about 6" from the back of the heel. Based on the initial try-on and the information above, that should be pretty good.

In other news, it looks like Emma is, after 15 months, finally starting to get used to the kittens. Several times over the past few weeks, she's jumped up on the couch next to Blue. Today she was sitting on my lap when I had to get up. When I got back, I found this:

And last week, John took this picture:

Hmm...Tastes like chicken!


Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Year, new stuff

I've already finished something in 2009, and I actually did it on Jan 1! Observe, new furniture throws:

They *are* the same color, but one picture was taken with my camera w/flash, and the other one John took with his cell phone, no flash. Apparently Emma's eyes were glowing huge and green with the flash. The covers aren't fancy, just big denim rectangles, but it took a bit of time to measure, cut, seam, square up and hem pieces of denim that long. Hopefully the new covers will do a better job of keeping the cat hair off the furniture. Here's a hint: Don't ever use fleece for furniture covers if you have 5 cats.

We approve the new cover!

Other new stuff, I went to the LYS to get help on my stealth project. They were very helpful, and I'm very grateful that I don't have to rip back 3" x 20" of knitting for a re-do! While I was there, I might have picked up some more sock knitting stuff:

That's a ball of Berocco Comfort Sock yarn in color #1813, a ball of Opal Harry Potter sock yarn in the Draco colorway and 2 sets of US size 2 needles in different lengths. I thought I'd at least try the bamboo. I lovelovelove my Harmony Wood needles from, but the stitches are kind of hard to see when you're using darker yarn, like my socks are. This purchase put me over the limit to get a $25 gift certificate. I'm not sure I want to know how much that means I've spent there, or over what period of time. It's a quilt and knit shop, so I'm sure I won't have any trouble finding something to spend it on.

I have made progress on my sock, but I want to wait till the first one is done to post a picture. Meanwhile, here is a picture of a previously stealth knitting project.

It the Meandering Rib Scarf, done in worsted weight Wool Ease in whatever their Fisherman colorway. It was a Christmas gift for my friend, Angie. I was going to knit a matching hat, of my own design, but I ran out of time. It's a good thing I didn't bother, because she doesn't wear hats - they mess up her hair. :)

Oh, I've added another quilt goal for 2009 - Finish The Ugly. Must get that done. The top and back have been done for at least 3 years now. I started it back in 2001. It's almost as old as Big Blue!