Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Good things come in small packages

I'm sure you already knew that, however, but what you don't know is what my small packages contained. The first one was unexpected ... I was outside, hanging a small load of laundry (only because it was small, and consisted of three large objects which were easily hangable), and decided to check on our watermelon patch. Would The Watermelon still be present and accounted for? I went searching for it, lifted a leaf, and there it was ...

an unexpected small package. He was polite enough to stay put while I got my camera and took a picture. Later in the day when I was bringing IN the laundry and watering, he was still there. I decided if I were him, I would not want 2 gallons of water dumped on me, so that part of the patch missed the artificial shower.

My second small package came from KnitPicks.

Before I start talking about what was in my box, I would like to take this opportunity to mention what wasn't in my box. Their New Yarns! I am fairly sure that Telemark, Gloss, Shamrock, Essentials Tweed, Wool of the Andes Bulk (and Bulky Handwash), and Swiss Superwash shall find their way into my knitting basket before another year goes by. Perhaps for every projectI knit with new yarns, I should knit one with yarns from my stash? Hmmm ... have to think about that.

My box DID have 5 skeins of sock yarn, enough for 4 pair of socks (combined with stash yarns ... so all those will count as stash projects.) It also had size 1 and size 2 dpns. I do wish KP had stuck with American sizing, but they didn't, so I'll just have to be careful to stick with the same metric size for each project and gauge swatch. I still remember Meg Weglarz's advice from the Northern Lights pullover ... make sure all your size 2 needles are from the same continent, if not the same manufacturer. Mine come from India, America, and Germany. Oops. Thank goodness for needle gauges.

I also got a copy of ScarfStyle. I like it. I already have some people in mind to corner and find out which of several items in there they'd like for Christmas. Maybe I can try the Color scarf with leftover sock yarn, rather than Paternayan? Aaaaah ... it's a good book. It will go right next to WrapStyle on my shelf, once it finds its way there.

The last thing in my box was a sweater stone. I wasn't too sure about this interesting lump of matter, but I had a very pilly sweater, and using a motorized de-piller did nothing, and my husband's razor didn't work. Using a comb and dog-clipping shears worked a bit, but it was tedious and still looked pilly. So ... since I was looking for items to buy in order to get free shipping, I got it.

Here, you see Before and After photos of my son's sweater. As you know, boys are not known for being gentle with sweaters. This one has been around since September of last year, although it hasn't been worn much in the heat we've been having lately. My focus didn't, but you can still see a difference between the 'fuzzy photo of sleeve before 30 second session with sweater stone' and 'fuzzy photo of sleeve after 30 second session with sweater stone'. I can now report that the critter DOES work. As the directions said, there's a fine sandy-type substance left behind, but it does shake out easily.

Unfortunately, I did the de-pilling in a room with a fan, so I couldn't round up ALL the fuzz that came off the sweater, but my broom and I searched to find what we could, and enough turned up for a nice photo. The broom ATE some of the fuzz, unfortunately, but here's what was left ... along with the conquering stone.

If I were bored, I might think of combing this and spinning it up into something for use later, but I'm not bored, so I won't. Elizabeth Zimmerman assures me that most garments only need two or three good depillings ... this makes depilling #3, so perhaps I'm finished? I doubt it.

Denise had a question about Latwrisciopgraphive. I'm afraid I must confess it's a leftover from being a government employee and a military kid. I have a tendency to acronymize all sorts of things that were never meant to be acronymmed. It stands for Latin Writing Science Geography and Fallacy Detective. I'm not sure whre the stray 'p' came from ... probably snuck in their as an aid to pronunciation.

I found a project for my needles yesterday .. another Soft Cables Moebius scarf, made out of Morning Glory sock yarn. It's a stash project with no definite recipient yet, although my daughter has spoken for it. It does contain 3 of her 4 favorite colors.

Next week ... a project report on the Moebius, and word as to whether I've successfully managed to ignore doing anything with and/or in my craft room!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Moooving along

Although I wasn't planning on moving this week, that's exactly what I did on Thursday and Friday. My beautifully organized craft room now looks like - and verily even IS - the picture at left. You see an ironing board, cutting table, sewing table, and various other paraphenalia of the crafty trade. The room is Very Pink, to go with my formerly Very Pink daughter.

My Very Pink daughter now has a Pastel Room. It's even neat, tidy, and organized. (Until this afternoon, when two friends descended upon her for the day, night, and another day. We hope to find a room there again on Tuesday.) And that is where the end of my week went.

But children must sleep sometime, or at least be in bed to rest, and I did manage to finish one mitten, and make a good beginning on the next. And the pink pillowcase lace is waiting for a good pillowcase to land upon, and a bit of blocking. Given the state of the craft room, the fomer might not be available for some time.

I did place that KP order (the broken needle became more of an encumbrance than a challenge), and decided to fill it out with some Dancing (to rescue the orphan 2/3rd skeins I have from making other socks), Parade, and ScarfStyle. I should be finishing off the Sampler Mittens tomorrow, and then will come time to pick a new project. Scarf? Mittens? Lace?

Maybe I'll decide to Find the Craft Room instead?

In my non-knitting life, I'm watching a teensy tiny quarter-sized watermelon grow, waiting for tomatoes to turn even a hint of pink, fighting the never-ending battle against laundry, beginning to think I should be planning for school this fall, and studying Euclid and Greek.

I should probably ponder 'multum, non multa' also. Our 'multum' consists of Math and Latin. Writing has become a priority, and with that I am trying to figure out how to discuss literature. The other subjects we have are Geography and Science, with a bit of Fallacy Detective on the side. I try to keep our day from being Math with a bit of Latwrisciopgraphive stuck in for balance ... but that's the way I lean. Math is such a great subject.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Birds, babies, and beginnings

As promised, I did get outside last Wednesday to pick cherries. I collected a 2 gallon bucket full of cherries, left plenty on the tree for the birds, and discovered that the nest in the tree was occupied. Our best guess is that it's a sparrow nest ... composed of grass, straw, a Freezee wrapper, and miscellaneous recycled paper. With some effort, the cherries turned into 5 dehydrator trays of cherries and 2 quarts of pie filling, plus some miscellaneous syrup.
Here's the Baby Surprise Jacket, all finished. I made a matching hat, which made for a terrible picture, so I won't show you what it looks like. The jacket is definitely destined for a girl, so I only made one set of buttonholes, and went with gender-specific buttons.

Then, to get ready for the fair, I just had to finish off the communion cloth and get the Latvian mittens begun and finished. Virtuously, I decided to work on the communion cloth first. I packed both items for a day out with my mom, and started in on cutting purple fabric, pinning the lace around the outside edge, discovering that I was one repeat short, remembered enough of the pattern to knit another repeat sans directions (I'd left the stitches on the needle, and the yarn connected ... this was not an unexpected development.), and sew the edging on. It even got blocked!

Then tragedy hit. The Latvian mittens call for size 1 needles. I packed size 2 needles. I always use size 2 needles for sock-weight yarn, and for Palette (unless it's a shawl). But the pattern called for 10 stitches per inch, and I only get 9 spi with size 2. So I had No Viable Knitting Project. I was devastated. Briefly.
While Mom doesn't have a yarn stash like I have a yarn stash, she does have a good variety of things for emergencies like this. (Unfortunately, she's never been so insane as to work on size 1 needles, so she didn't have a set to loan me.) I found some 5/2 cotton from Silk City (which I used to make a baby blanket back in 1995) and some size 4 needles, as well as an old Workbasket with lace edgings, and promptly cast on. This lace is destined to be a pillowcase edging. It's about 3 inches wide, and I think I'm already half done. It's certainly going faster than No 10 DMC Cebelia on size 0 needles!

Of course, when I got home, I had to dig out my size 1 needles and get to work on the mitten. I have two sets of size 1 needles. One has four needles, 12" long. Too few needles, too many inches. My other set has 5 needles, 7" long ... but one is cracked. I obviously need to order the KnitPicks Options dpns. What else do I need to order so I can get free shipping? I'll figure something out.

The Latvian Sampler Mitten uses a technique I've never seen (outside of the Harmony Guide) or done before. Fringe. It's made in a rather insane way, involving wrapping the working yarn around your left index finger three times, then pretending those wraps are actually one piece of yarn and using the right needle to manipulate them through the old loop on the left needle. Without snapping the tip off either needle, puncturing your finger, or cutting off circulation for too long. There is a knack to it. Then I discovered that with the turning the work halfway around this way and that, that I'd carried the yarn on the outside of the work ... so all the fringe needed to get retucked on the opposite side of the floats. And then there was braiding. And then ... the nice normal stranding.
Here it is. It's cute. I'm up to the thumb. The mitten pattern doesn't change much from here and blue flecks alternating all the way up to the top. The mitten will be 5" around (if I've got gauge ... I'll measure later. These are samplers, and never need to fit anyone)

Now, if only the temperature was cooler so it felt more like wool-knitting weather!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Checking in

The summer is smoothly slipping past, and lo and behold, I'm not sitting around eating bon-bons. And I'm actually coming up with a 'done' list that shows I'm not sitting at the computer all day reading other people's blogs and new stories.

The sock is done. The shawl is done. The baby surprise jacket is done. The bonnet to match is begun. And I sent in my county fair entry form, and included a pair of Latvian mittens. I haven't begun them yet, however. Guess what I'm making after the bonnet?

My reading is going well. David is done, Merchant of Venice is done, Genesis is perking along nicely. Classical Writing is perking along nicely. Greek ... well, let's just say ithat in 15 minutes after I finish this entry I *will* open the exercise book and do more than just close it and put it back on the shelf.

The harping is behaving itself, as is the garden (I have a teensy weensy green tomato beginning to form! And the watermelon plants are still alive, and flowering!!) Nothing, however, has happened to the quilt, nor to Euclid or school plans. Unless you count getting personalized pencils and graph paper notebooks?

I'd like to take this opportunity to present a plug for our local post office. I think we have the best post office around. If a friend in CA loses half the contents of a parcel that got sliced open by machinery, her post office says "Can't do anything." My post office says "What's the return address?" and starts calling around to find out where the processing facility is for that zip to see if the missing items can be located. If a package is supposed to go from New York to Florida, but doesn't make it to the right person because a teensy part of the address was missing, my post office will start making phone calls to find out where the parcel went. They don't just disappear, you know. And if you're sick at home and are waiting for an important piece of mail, or are home with a sick baby in the middle of winter ... the post office will snag a helpful person coming into the lobby to bring the mail over. And the post office even gets the impossible delivered ... like mail sent to my mom (another town, another zip) at her street address AND town, but my zip code. Or mail to my husband, but sent c/o someone else in another town ... it got to our box without even being cancelled at the other post office, and without having our address written on the envelope.

It's just amazing. We need to have a sign outside of town about our post office.

Pie cherries are getting over-ripe, so the plan is today to try and dehydrate some. The apricots are ripening and starting to drop all over the place. That's the one bad thing about fruit trees ... if you don't pick it just when it wants to be picked (and from however high up it felt like growing - our 4-6 ft apricot bushes are 20+ feet), the fruit falls down and goes smush.

My entrelac swatch has begun a new career as a doll's skirt.

Greek greek greek greek

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Progress report

The Faroese shawl is completed. Blocked, even. It does just what I wanted it to do, and so it will be kept. It's the perfect size shawl for summer, doesn't get hot and toasty even in an outdoor service when the ambient temperature is 90 degrees, and short enough that it doesn't get in the way while serving up a potluck for 60. What more could a gal ask for?

David Copperfield has been read, and now I'm wondering why it took me so long to read it. I really liked it. Due to other experiences discussing books starting with the letter 'D' with a friend whose name begins with 'D', however, I'm not going to suggest this for our next book discussion. It was a good book, though, and I plan to read it again ... and even try some more Dickens.

That pretty well covers the fourth letter of the alphabet. On to the fifth letter! Entrelac. For some time, I've had almost 3 skeins of Morning Glory Sock Garden from KnitPicks in my stash. I've toyed with the idea of making entrelac socks out of it, since I don't particularly care for the frenetic stripes that result from stockinette socks with Morning Glory. The only sock pattern I could find on the web, however, didn't appeal to me. So I did what any knitter without a project would do ... I swatched! I usually cast on 60 stitches for a sock, but since this was a Maybe Sock and was going to be inEntrelac, I decided to use 48 stitches and maybe, just maybe, it would fit my daughter. Regardless, I'd see how the colors worked out, and have a good swatch to check gauge on for future endeavours.

The ribbing is the perfect size for my daughter. The entrelac portion is too large for me. And so ... I have an Official Swatch. It looks like it could grow up into a sweater sleeve, or perhaps rompers for a baby. With a solid colored yarn to continue in, I think it would be a super sock calf. Someone, somewhere, has a pattern for socks that are all Entrelac ... gotta find it and check it out from the library, probably.

Entrelac is a good way to use mathematics. "If I need 60 stitches for a sock cuff, but only want 8 inches calf circumference, and each entrelac block of 6 stitches is an inch, although my normal sock gauge is 8 stitches per inch, how do I transition from ribbing to entrelac?" (Answer ... start in Entrelac and hope it fits over the heel?)

Here, you see a picture of what happens when a future architect is on summer vacation. He rearranges his room. This picture was taken from the doorway (or as close as I could get to it.) It's a bit scary.

I think my next knitting project is going to be the sampler mittens from Latvian Mittens. They're not exactly the best project to start while sitting at the doctor's office tomorrow, though, so I'm going to scamper to find a baby blanket pattern in Shine Blush (there's some laying around) and get going on that. Unless something else from the stash calls my name first!

This week ... Merchant of Venice!