Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Dulaan Event Announcement

Dulaan Announcement

I'll be hosting a Dulaan knit-in on Sunday, March 19 from approximately 2-6 (early and latecomers welcome, but you may find me doing dishes). Ryan (and, I assume, TMK) will be here. I'll provide food: some munchies, probably some sort of stewy type stuff, and some beverages. If you have Dulaan-suitable yarn that you don't want to knit, for whatever reason, bring it along, as I'm planning a swap pile.

I live in Lake City (a neighborhood in north Seattle, for those of you who aren't from around these parts). Please RSVP to mkmorrowATyahooDOTcom so I know approximately how many people are coming. I'll send directions and real-world contact information.

Please note: I have 2 dogs (also 2 cats, but you're not likely to see them). I'd love for anyone and everyone who is interested to come, but I can't exile the dogs for four or five hours. They're friendly and reasonably well-behaved, but they're still dogs, with pointy ears and shrill barks and slobbery dog toys and allergenic fur.

Other Knitting News

One of the baby shower projects is now in the hands of the mom-to-be, so here's a picture:

Yarn: Stahl Wolle Limbo Superwash sport weight from Village Yarn and Tea
Pattern: Structure from a Michelle Wyman Effectiveness by Design Seamless Raglan Cardigan pattern, with extensive modifications.
Approximately 2 year-old size (I think? I'm really vague on baby sizes)
My first zipper! I wish I had put some sort of toggle or button or something at the top, but I ran out of time.

I sent the Clock Vest off to Mom via priority mail today. I'm anxious. I hope she likes it, and I hope it's the right size.

I ended up spinning the last of some eye-searing hand-painted (by Woolgatherings) Corriedale that I bought at Northwest Wools in Portland. There was a ton of this stuff. Most of it has already been spun and plied with a dark eggplant NZ wool, and I'm just trying to clear the bobbin off by spinning the last of it. I'll navajo ply it and turn it into a Dulaan hat.

Of Students and Research

Kathleen commented yesterday, regarding Wikipedia, that "it can be a good jumping off point, especially if you know little to nothing about a subject because you can farm some really great words to use in other, more indepth academic searches." I absolutely agree, Kathleen. I use Wikipedia all the time, and I don't mind if my students use it - after all, how can you research a topic if you don't know enough about it to do the right kinds of searches? My issue is that my students sometimes cite Wikipedia as their lone source, and in a senior-level humanities class, that's just not okay. My colleague argued that she'd rather have a relevant, clear quote from Wikipedia than a bunch of marginally related BS, but I'm going to stick to my guns and prefer credible, verified information over either of those.

Monday, February 27, 2006

No coworkers were stabbed


Today we had a mandatory professional development day at work. I get really, really cranky during meetings. Highlights:

10:30-11:40: Sate of the Corporation presentation delivered from headquarters via videotape and PowerPoint. We started late, and consequently ended late. Lunch was scheduled for 11:30. I ran out of yarn at 11:15. The last five minutes of the videotape featured a song, doubtless specially composed for our corporation, of infinite cheesiness. I started giggling. The co-worker sitting next to me thought it sounded like a South Park parody song. After the song and accompanying video of employees receiving awards, it was announced that this year's award winners will get an exciting trip to our headquarters in a cold, midwestern city in December. Well, hell, sign me up for that.

1:30-1:50: Talk regarding how to start professional groups or honor societies. One of my co-workers began a long, rambling, confusing monologue that he thought was funny. I got caught shooting him the look of death.

1:50-3:00: Discussion of how to improve our students' research skills. I had an argument with one of my colleagues because she believes Wikipedia is a totally valid source for undergraduate research projects.

3:00-4:00: Talk on how we're marketing ourselves. One of my coworkers started grilling the marketing guy, and continued being argumentative even after marketing guy answered his questions concisely and completely. I covered the back of my agenda in doodles. (I wasn't knitting because I was sititng in front of the uber-boss.) I listed the buzzwords coming from the marketing folks.

Paddling upstream
Pulling together
Whatever it takes
Make it happen

The day ended 10 minutes later than it was supposed to, and I was bitter.


I'm working on baby things. One is still a secret, and the other is a Dulaan sweater. My sister gave me a big bag of Woolease, so I'm stranding it with some mohair and making a top-down raglan using the calculator found here. However, the calculator doesn't make allowances for the fact that kids' heads are disproportionately large compared to their chests, so I started with more stitches and the same needle size I'm doing the body on. The ribbing seems very prone to folding over at the switch to stockinette. I should have just done a roll-neck.

I'm in a brain-freeze about spinning. I just can't decide what to do next. I've got some stuff I dyed in my big New Year's Eve dye-fest, but I've also got all sorts of alpaca, and some pretty commercial roving, and I'm not really sure what else.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Officially, really done

Knitting Olympics: The Closing Ceremonies

Yes, the buttons are really sewn on - they're not just sitting there. The color is washed out in the first two pictures, but I'm using them because you can see the cables so clearly. I was done before the closing ceremonies started broadcasting in my time zone, so I think I'm officially golden.

(Dorothy left a comment on Friday's post that she was "confident [I] wouldn't biff the method air." How cool is Dorothy? I thought she was just making that up, but no, it turns out that the move Lindsey Jacobellis bit it on really was a method air.)

I'm planning to get it packaged and sent off to Mom on Tuesday. Meanwhile, I plunged back into my other knitting projects while I was waiting for the vest to dry. I'm making a raglan Cloud Sweater for Dulaan, and I'm working on another baby sweater that will be a gift. I may actually spin for awhile tonight.

Other Weekend Festivities

Ryan and TMK came by on Saturday to use my swift and ballwinder. Here's TMK's wound yarn. We're all so proud.

Speculation continues about what the yarn will become. I'm pulling for a hat. Meanwhile, TMK has taken my broken bobbin away for an attempted repair. Y'all, if you're ever going to loan out spinning supplies, I highly recommend loaning them to a woodworker.

Saturday night, Trent and I went out with our friends Alex and Christine to the Elysian Brew Pub on Capitol Hill. Trent and I usually go to the Elysian Tangletown (because it's way closer), but the food is better on Capitol Hill. I had the fish an chips, and the fish was perfectly fried and delicious, whereas the last time I had it at Tangletown there was a nasty gummy layer between the crispy batter and the fish. Trent had the stroganoff, which was also tasty. They're currently having a winter brew fest, so Alex tried a trayful of winter beer samples - some of which were good, and some of which were just interesting. They had the Wise ESB on cask, so I stuck with that.

Tomorrow I have a mandatory faculty development day. I'm anticipating pain and suffering. Only one item on the agenda is clearly beneficial or applicable to me. Well, two if you count lunch. I'm SO taking my knitting. Stay tuned to find out whether anyone was mysteriously stabbed with a DPN.

Friday, February 24, 2006

She crosses the line!

*Trumpet fanfare*

Guess what I'm doing here?

And that stitch you see on the needle?

Yup, it was the last stitch. I've already sewn in all the ends that were dangling in that picture, and the vest is blocking.

All I have left to do is buy one more button, and sew on six buttons. And I'm done done done done done. I don't want to get all snowboarder and count my victory before it's sealed, but I'm pretty confident.

The athletes in the Winter Olympics don't seem to be as prone to teary-eyed victory speeches as the Summer athletes. (During the last Summer Olympics, every time a US track and field athlete medalled, Trent or I would turn to the other and say, "You think she's going to thank god?") But, nonetheless, big thanks to Nancy for encouraging me to sign up for this madness, Trent for putting up with my fixation, and of course Stella and Chloe for contributing dog hair to the vest.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Texty update

Olympic Knitting

All I have left to do on the vest is armhole facings, sewing in the ends, and attaching the buttons. Oh, and going back to Acorn Street to buy another button (because not only can I not follow directions, I also can't count). And blocking. It won't be dry by closing ceremonies, but it will be on the drying rack.

Nancy will complete one sock (yes, you will - I know you can!).

I cheated on my Olympic Knitting today and cast on a Dulaan project.


It's finals week. Out of a class with only 13 students enrolled, four have flaked out on the final. Three of them vaporized two or three weeks ago, but the last one appeared to have done all the work through last week, so I have no idea why she's suddenly vanished. I really don't understand students sometimes.

I'm very, very tired of evaluating writing. I think I'm going to wallow in romance novels during my spring break.


TMK and Ryan are going to come over sometime this weekend to wind TMK's yarn into a ball using an official swift and ball winder. (Ryan says that TMK feels that a hand-wound ball just won't do.) I'll record the event for posterity.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


This is my score for technical performance last night. Remember how I decided to knit a front first? Remember how I proudly announced that I was finished, and totally on schedule with the back? Well, when I started to knit the left front, I looked at the directions (shocking, I know) and I realized I had forgotten something really crucial on the right front: the neck shaping. I am an idiot. How did I not notice this sooner? I knit the left front per the DIRECTIONS so kindly provided by Cheryl Oberle, then I ripped back the right front so I could reknit with, you know, a neck.

Following the directions resulted in the fronts ending up ten rows longer than the backs, so I also had to add to the back. Happily, those stitches were on a holder and easily accessible. So, now I'm finally done with knitting the body and will proceed with the bands, assuming I can manage to follow the directions and defend my knitting spot from Stella, who moves into it at every opportunity. (Note: I'm sure the glass of wine has nothing to do with my previous screw up, nothing at all.)

Olympic Updates:

As of 8:45 AM Tuesday, Nancy reports "Meanwhile, I am only 3/4 of the first sock toward Olympic Victory. It's looking more like an ice dancer on her tush than gold for me." We haven't received any reports from camp Dorothy. Perhaps, like Irina Slutskaya, she prefers to keep her strategy a secret. When last we heard from Kathleen, she was plugging along toward her 23 (!) items, but running into minor difficulties with preemie bootie sizing. I've had no word at all from Jamie.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere: as of last Friday, Ryan declared "What was I thinking?!" Poor Jessica at Rose-Kim Knits is going to run out of yarn, so if anyone has any Cash Iroha #14 running around, go to her blog and help the poor woman. Patti has not quite managed her Olympic goal of fun everyday, but she's going out for sushi on her birthday, so hey, that's good. Most impressively, Elaine, who is making Estonian lace (with p5tog nupps!!) is right on schedule. Go, Elaine!

And, of course, our original inspiration, The Yarn Harlot, is having a bit of a meltdown. But I have faith that she'll make it, and that she'll be really funny when she hasn't had any sleep for 4 days straight.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The fun never stops

My Weekend

11:54 PM (Friday night): time of last blog post

1:17 AM (Saturday morning): last look at clock before falling asleep.

6:00 AM: Hit snooze button

6:09 AM: Beat alarm clock. Contemplate "accidentally" oversleeping and missing the Saturday morning presentations. Get up anyway. Drink tea. Realize there's no cream cheese for bagels.

6:45 AM: McDonald's drive-through for breakfast. Mmmm, I can feel my arteries clogging.

7:30 AM: Arrive at work, cursing god. Check email. Drink tea in an attempt to wake up before listening to student presentations.

8:00 - 10:05 AM: Presentations. I become surly when students run over their allotted time and exhibit failure to answer questions concisely.

11:45 - 1:30 or so: Dog park for work day. Why do I always forget that shoveling wood chips is hard work?

2:30 - 6:00: Nap.

7:00 - 11:00 PM: Dinner at Roger and Avril's. Avril finally worked up the courage to felt her Marsupial tote. Here are before and after pictures:

I'm really concerned about Avril. She finished all her knitting projects. She has nothing on needles, and no yarn. I felt genuinely distressed, and was ready to make an emergency run to Fred Meyer's with her, but she didn't seem disturbed. She said she'd go to the yarn store on Sunday or Monday. I find this blasé attitude bewildering. How can she stand it? Doesn’t her life feel strangely empty? Aren’t her fingers restless?

Meanwhile, Roger and Trent contentedly played guitar, and I kept on with the Clock vest.

10:ish Sunday AM: Pry myself out of bed. Everything hurts (shoveling, remember?). Take two ibuprofen, drink tea, eat oatmeal, and commence grading.

5:00 PM: Grading break because our friend Jenine is over for dinner. Jenine is embarking on a Big Life Adventure: she's moving to Fayetteville, Arkansas to take a job at the Fayetteville Public Library as a youth services librarian. We'll miss her, but we're thrilled that she found a job where they really love her for the quirky, creative person that she is. Here's Trent trying to give Jenine a going-away present (she doesn't drink AT ALL, so this is a running joke):

7:15 - 12:00: Resume grading, now in front of the television. I could grade more efficiently without the TV, but I want to watch ice dancing. I eventually manage to wade through all the remaining final exams, papers, and miscellaneous stuff for the graduating seniors. I even take a couple of knitting breaks.

12:45 AM: Submit grades.

1:15 AM: Stare longingly at the spinning wheels. Curse the Knitting Olympics. Check real Olympics broadcast schedule, and seriously, but briefly, consider getting back up at 5:00 AM to watch the men's curling team take on Canada. Give up and go to bed.

In Other News:

I'm almost done with the back of the vest. I'm sick of it. It's a good thing I'm doing this on a deadline, because otherwise it would go into unloved project purgatory for several months (or possibly longer). I miss spinning. I miss mindlessly knitting in circles around a sock. I miss starting new things. I miss my fair isle vest and my gorgeous Norsk Strikkedesign sweater. I only have to go into work today, Thursday evening, and then Friday for graduation, and I'm thinking that even with grading I should be able to get the damn vest finished in time.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Olympics: One week in

Nancy came over for dinner, knitting, and Olympics tonight, along with her sweetie, Dan. I made Pasta E Fagioli from the Cook's Illustrated recipe, except I used guanciale from Salumi instead of pancetta. It was damn tasty. Nancy brought salad and an array of delicious cheeses.

Nancy was about halfway down the heel flap of sock 1 when she left tonight. The Embossed Leaves socks don't use a special heel stitch - just stockinette with a 3 stitch garter border on both sides. The Cashsoft is so thick and plushy that extra reinforcement probably isn't required.

Here are Dan, Nancy, and Chloe on the couch. Nancy has stylishly coordinated her sweater with the sock she's knitting, and Chloe is graciously contributing dog hair to the project.

I've finished one front and am working my way up the back. The charts have started to seem logical to me. I haven't exactly memorized the pattern, but I can figure out what comes next with just a glance at the charts, usually. The back pattern is looking cool, although I'm a little concerned about that twisted stitch panel in the center leaning to the right.

We have DirecTV, not cable, which means I don't get Canadian coverage, so we were stuck with NBC. I wanted to smack Bob and that other blowhard as they went on (and on and on) about Lindsey Jacobellis's screw-up. C'mon guys, she's 20, and it's freakin' snowboarding - it's not like she whiffed a crucial peace-making mission. Ice dancing also disapointed. Why, oh why, did the compulsory dance have to be a waltz? Nancy and I did get some bitchiness mileage out of the costumes, although none of the ice dancers' costumes began to approach the hideous crimes committed by the men in last night's competition.

I have to go in to work tomorrow morning from 8-10 (yes, on a Saturday) to hear student presentations, then zoom home, change clothes, and head to Northacres for the dog park work day. Chloe and Stella find the prospect exhausting.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Olympics Day Something

Yeah, I've lost track already. Oops. I think the panic caused by the ticker on the Yarn Harlot's blog might have wiped out my ability to keep track of dates.

Knitting is proceeding apace. I've been having a lot of right shoulder pain because of extensive computer use at work, but knitting makes it better, not worse. I've divided for the armholes, and once again ignored the instructions. You're supposed to break the yarn off, rejoin and continue work on the back. I hate sewing in ends with a fairly intense passion, so there was no way I was going to break off that perfectly good yarn that was hanging out at the right front. The fronts have to be knit anyway, so why not start there?

I figured out why as I kept going. There's a big, complicated, and finite chart for the back. If you knit the back first, you just knit the whole damn chart without worrying about the actual measurements of your knitting, then just knit the fronts to the same length. Since I'm starting with a front, I'm going to have to make decisions about length, and hope that whatever I pick won't result in the back chart stopping at a dorky place.

Anyway, here's where I am on the right front - currently about 15 inches total of knitting, and I figure another 5-6 inches for the front will be about right.

Just as a side note, finding a place to take the picture (that wasn't covered in junk mail, grading, dog hair, cat hair, or dogs or cats) involved serious effort and rearranging. It's possible that I should take a knitting break and, oh, run the vacuum cleaner at some point. Just a thought.

I got email from Team Nancy this morning. She was through the ribbing and half a lace repeat on sock one, but planned to make extensive progress today (it was her day off). Dorothy and Kathleen are both zooming along. No word from Jamie.


I had to be at work from 8-6 today, which meant I left at 7 this morning. Consequently, not only was I incredibly tired and cranky, but since I had our one vehicle the dear, sweet doggies didn't get to go to the dog park today. Here's what most of the evening looked like at our house:

Why, yes, Chloe can completely wrap her jaws around Stella's neck. Stella doesn't seem to mind. I don't know why this constitutes fun in the dog world, but it's sure entertaining to watch.

Breaking News

1) The flashy electrical stuff in the sky is lightning, not lightening. Thank god none of my students know about my blog, or I'd never hear the end of it.

2) According to the local news, Seattle is now "bracing" for an "arctic blast." I especially enjoyed the weather map with the little "ARCTIC" labels floating over Canada.

3) I take back all my mean mutterings about Cheryl Oberle. The Clock Vest pattern is smartly enough written that when charts A & B start occurring on the back, you're on the same row of those charts as the fronts. (Yes, I realize that doesn't make sense to anyone but me, but I wanted to clear my conscience by publicly stating that I was wrong about how much I was going to have to keep track of.)

4) I'm agonizing over the length of the vest. It's for my mom, it's a surprise, and she's very petite. I think I'm going to aim for 20 - 21", with 11" for the bottom and 9" for the armholes. It would, of course, be easier if I could ask her, but then it wouldn't be a surprise.

5) No pictures because I'm trapped at work all freakin' day today.

6) Nancy? Are you out there?

Monday, February 13, 2006


My god, I love the Seattle weathermen. The headline news right after the Olympic coverage was "Seattle hit with wintery blast."

Some areas received a snow and hail.


They have received reports of thunder and lightening.

I'm not sure I'm adequately conveying the silliness of the anchorman reporting that viewers have reported thunder, or the absurdity of their live coverage of a dusting of snow on a car lot.

In fairness, weather coverage is stupid everywhere. My dad was a television news cameraman (long long ago, back when the cameras actually used film). He used complain about slow news days, because it invariably meant one of the reporters would haul him out to do some weather news. "Yes, sir, we're having some weather here today." And, like the reporters during last summer's hurricanes, they'd want to do live shoots during our local bad weather - tornadoes. "Yes, Steven, I'm standing here at the Fairview Trailer Park, where a funnel cloud has been spotted and AAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIEEEEE...."

Olympic Knitting: Day 4
No new pictures, because the vest looks exactly like it did yesterday, but slightly longer. I did make it to The Fiber Gallery to buy more yarn, and Jessica told me her tale of woe about her Olympic project. Dorothy and her friend Kathleen both report satisfactory progress. There's been no news from Team Nancy. So, umm, Nancy - leave a comment, eh?

I'm preparing to ignore the instructions. The vest as written has armholes that are more than 50% of the length of the vest. I think that will look stupid, so I'm going to divide for armholes later. That means I have more to keep track of, but I'll soldier on, like the brave but bruised Chinese skater, or Hannah Teter with her bum knee. Only, you know, with post-its instead of cortisone shots and ace bandages.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Olympics: Day 3

I'm motoring along on my Olympic project. I don't know if I made enough progress this weekend to compensate for how little knitting time I'll have during the week, but we'll have to see. Incidentally, the ugly gray thing under the vest is my back support cushion - very important for extended couch time.

So far, no problems. I went out and bought Super Sticky Post-it notes today to help me keep track of all the damn cable charts. I'm on my second ball of yarn, and I'm a little concerned that I'll run out. I'm going to try to go to The Fiber Gallery tomorrow and see if I can turn up another skein in the same dye lot.

Dorothy reports (in yesterday's comments) that she's resolved her gauge issues. (Also in yesterday's comments, Dorothy and her old friend Kathleen rediscovered one another on the internet via the Knitting Olympics. Awww...) I haven't heard from Nancy or Jamie regarding their progress, and Avril generally doesn't believe in sporting events, so I don't think she's concerned.

In regular life, I'm feeling slightly headachy, grumpy, and out of sorts. Allergies? End of the weekend? Too much television? Who knows. Maybe it's my irritation that they're broadcasting curling (which I think is super-cool) overnight.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Opening Ceremonies

Last night was our Olympic Opening Ceremony party at Nancy's. She really committed to the Turin Olympic spirit, and prepared many yummy Turin delicacies. She also, through the connections in high places, and managed to bring the Shroud of Turin right here to Seattle. You can see it in the background between Nancy and our friend Jamie in the picture below:

That's Nancy on the left, then Jamie, then Nancy's son Mitchell (he's not knitting, but we let him hang out anyway). Check out the concentration on the faces of the athletes. Jamie is making the Waving Lace socks from an IK a couple of years ago, despite the fact that she has never made socks, or lace, or used DPNs before. Nancy is hard at work on her Embossed Leaves socks, having resolved her gauge issues.

Also in attendance, Nancy's neighbor Dorothy, who is making a sweater from Mountain Colors yarn (I didn't catch which one). Dorothy is soldiering on despite gauge issues. Her swatch is dead on 4/inch, but at the end of the night, the stockinette portion above the ribbing appeared to be 5/inch. Stay tuned as this story develops.

In the picture below we have Avril, working on a UFO scarf, clearing her knitting slate so that she, too, can embark on socks. Note how I overcame my normally crappy photography skills to include the television, with the Olympic rings, in the background (and Nancy's dog, Truman).

The night was rife with drama. Jamie had to cast on 3 times before she was happy with it, and then we had to carefully undo 2 rows because she had reversed knitting directions. Dorothy's gauge issues remain unresolved. I managed to drop a stitch on the very first cable row. Recovery involved carefully picking up through 5 rows of twisted stitches and re-cabling. Nancy and Avril are off to a smooth start, but can their luck hold as the events continue?

I knit more after we returned home, and got in several rows today as well. Here's a (blurry, of course) picture of my current progress. Those of you who know my normally free-wheeling ways, note the use of stitch markers as I attempt to stay on target.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


So...tired... I teach a writing class from 6-10 on Thursday nights. It's a 35 minute drive home. It's late in the term. The students are glassy eyed, and so am I.

Looking around knitting blogdom today, it looks like I'm not the only one who was really praying the week would mysteriously lose a day.

I just marshalled my flagging energy to round up supplies so I'm ready to head to Nancy's tomorrow night for cast on. I had a crisis because I couldn't find the size 4 needle I need for the ribbing. Three size 5 circs? Check. Two 16" size 4s? Check. Size 4 dpns? Check. I did eventually manage to find a 40" size 4 hiding with the big needles in my (dis)organizer. The vest is knit back and forth, so the extra length doesn't matter. But I'm really perplexed about why the hell I have a 40" 4. Oh, crap. I should remember to pack a cable needle, too.

Poor Nancy is experiencing some pre-Olympics bad luck. She can't get gauge on her socks (Cashsoft doesn't LOOK much thicker than Koigu), she just realized we're missing the Madrona Fiber Arts retreat, she can't even go to the market because she has to work this weekend, and she forgot to officially sign up for the Knitting Olympics. I'm thinking that, as in theatre, a rough final dress rehearsal means a brilliant opening night. Go, Nancy! Rah, rah, rah! (And if the thought of me as cheerleader doesn't cheer you up, sweetie, I don't know what will.)

I'm about to go pour myself a glass of wine and do my final non-Olympic knitting for the next two+ weeks. Nancy mentioned that the pictures of the dogs lounging, or looking remotely calm, are false advertising. I'd hate to mislead anyone about the true nature of cow dogs, so here's an absolutely typical scene from the dog park. Stella is obsessed, and Chloe is barking.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Lookie what I got in the mail today from Steph:

It's an amazing monkey banana knitting organizer! This thing has so many freakin' pockets that I feel the need to go buy more notions. I'm totally delighted to have it, especially for my millions of DPNs. The dark wood needles in the upper left are also a present, a belated birthday gift from my lovely and wonderful sister Lynette. They're gorgeous rosewood.

It was a busy day at work. I'm nearing the end of our term (we're on a funky schedule), so I'm dealing with student crises. The committed students want to talk to me because they want to make sure their work is fabulous. The students on the other end of the spectrum are panicking and trying to figure out how they can pass.

After I got home, I walked the dogs and ran back out again to scoop up Trent and go to Hale's. Last winter we went almost every single week, usually on Wednesday because we both had stupidly exhausting schedules that meant by Wednesday we were out of any food we had purchased over the weekend, and really, really needed a beer besides. This winter we've been less regular there (possibly because the dark cloud of despair has lifted off of me), but it's still one of our top 3 pubs. I had a stout and the macaroni and cheese (excellent!), and Trent had a cask conditioned IPA and the fish sandwich (also very tasty). We like to sit on the bar side - it's much cosier than the restaurant.

On our way home, we stopped at Wide World Books & Maps in Wallingford. The very kind employee let us come in even though she was trying to close, and we quickly scooped up a guide to cycling in Britain and three walking guides. We've booked flights to England for two weeks this summer, and we're in the giddy planning stages.

I got settled in at home in time to catch the 10 pm showing of Project Runway. I'm sad to see Nick go, but I thought his outfits have been lousy for several weeks in a row. His garden party dress was worse than Andrae's (equally stiff and very poorly fitted), and his inspiration dress was just tacky. The part of the show when the judges questioned Santino was squirmingly uncomfortable. I wonder if Kara really said nothing at all, or if it was just edited to look like Santino answered for her?

Spinning Wheel
Elaine asked in the comments about my spinning wheel. My main wheel, the one that spun the New Year's suprise yarn, is a Betty Roberts. Betty is a fabulously eccentric woman who lives in Oroville, WA, and makes gorgeous hardwood wheels with inlaid flowers and butterflies. All the wheels she builds now are multiplier wheels, which means that they gear up like bicycles and you can get fast ratios without a huge wheel. I encountered her wheels at Alpacapalooza a few years ago. I had intended to upgrade from my Louet s10 to a Fricke, which is a perfectly functional, reasonably priced wheel. Then I tried one of Betty's wheels at the booth of Cloud Ranch Alpacas. After a few months of indecision, I emailed Betty and we started planning for my wheel. My wheel is the "economy" model in maple. I got to pick the enamel color for the inlays. When we drove out to Oroville to pick it up, Betty had a wheel made out of apricot wood, and I had to wipe the drool off my chin. Wowza. Anyway, the pictures below are taken when the wheel was young and new (and I lived in an apartment). Cats are included for scale.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Pure Stubborness

First: mea culpa. Patient reader Patti pointed out that my blog was set to allow only comments from people with Blogger accounts. Oopsy. Who knew all those thingies in the Settings tab were important? But it's fixed, and now anyone can comment. Please take advantage of this Exciting! New! Feature!

On to the title of the post. I finished spinning the homely roving, and navajo plied it tonight. In my mind, if the singles fit on one bobbin, the plied version should too (never mind issues of puffing up). I really, really tried, as the (blurry) photo below indicates. Note the proximity of the yarn to the flyer:

What really aggravated me was the tiny remaining amount of singles. Grr.

Here's a (blurry) photo of the yarn. It's blurry because a) I'm a bad photographer, b) I never read the instruction manual for the camera, and c) this way you can't see the unevenly spun spots. All in all, it looks much better than I expected. Yay for happy accidents.

My other big accomplishment for the night was cooking dinner. I made scallops fra diavolo using the Cook's Illustrated recipe. Unlike many recipes in that magazine, this one is not only tasty but easy. Plus, it involves flames, since you get to torch some cognac.

And finally, because they're so cute: Dog is my copilot.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Monday knitting with Nancy

Fortunate soul that I am, I don't have to actually GO to work on Monday.
I (as usual) had virtuous plans for the day, involving tackling the mountains of grading. But instead I let Nancy persuade me to go to Village Yarn and Tea with her so she could finalize her decision about her Olympic knitting project. She's settled on the Embossed Leaves socks from the Winter IK. Inspired by Rose-Kim Knits, she's using Rowan Cashsoft in a lovely, glowing green (Lime, I think, which is an unusually restrained and descriptive name for a Rowan yarn).

It's possible that I bought more sock yarn while I was there.

We spent a pleasant hour knitting, drinking tea, and eating crackers and blue cheese after our outing. I made more progress on the ongoing baby sweater gift project. I also (after Nancy left) spun up somemore of my homely handpainted roving. I think I sort of love it, even if it is a little odd. I'm not in a position to throw stones.

As Elaine pointed out in yesterday's comments, the weather is (gasp!) good this week. I got dog park duty this morning (before Nancy diverted me). It was a fabulous morning, with many of the girls' favorite dog friends. Dalmatians are wonderful; they actually wear out Stella. I enjoyed a mild sense of moral superiority as I nonchalantly commented to the fair weather dog owners that the mud had dried up.

Trent made pizza for dinner tonight. Fontina and oil-cured olives are a yummy combination. I managed to wade through enough papers while he was cooking that I don't feel completely ashamed. I can face the students tomorrow.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Let's talk about the weather

Something seems to be missing from Seattle's 5-day forecast.

I lived in Japan for a year right after I got my BA. I thought that interacting with another culture, and especially learning another language, would give me deep insights. It sort of did, and the real learning moment came after I learned enough Japanese to generally understand what the conversations around me were about, if not the finer details. One day I realized that everyone talked about the weather. All the time. Really. When I was 23, I thought that was apallingly mundane, but now (after almost 6 years in another temperate maritime climate) I realize that weather is really that important.

Our weekend has been all about weather. We had a lot of wind on Saturday, which means the entire household stood at the window, watching the cedar trees blow back and forth and trying to figure out if they'd smash into our house if they fell. Happily, only a few branches came down. We had to put off going to the OLA (off-leash area) until late afternoon, when we decided that steadily mounting insanity of the dogs was a greater danger than being bonked by a tree at Northacres.

In knitting news, I wrangled the fair isle vest stitches back onto the needles, and made some baby sweater progress. I coerced Kristin into going to Village Yarn and Tea with me. I got some Rowan Felted Tweed in red for eventual socks, and Kristin somehow didn't buy anything.

Today, we ignored the Super Bowl, and instead watched Puppy Bowl II on Animal Planet. This year it featured the exciting new (water) Bowl-Cam, and the kitty half-time show. We may have to buy the DVD. There's something incredibly relaxing about watching puppies play.

I made a swatch for the Clock Vest. I even washed and blocked it. Okay, I only did it because it was 5.5 sts/inch without washing, but I was convinced that size 6 was the right needle size. It is, as this very blurry photo shows. 25 stitches, 5 inches - perfecto.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Project Bonanza

I decided to take stock of the projects that I'm current actively working on. Here's the spinning:

On the left we have a cormo/alpaca roving in the process of turning into sock yarn. I hand-painted it during my New Year's Eve fit of wool madness, and it didn't turn out quite like I expected. It looks pretty decent here, but underneath this harmonious layer of autumnal gold, purple, and brown, there are stripes of blue, green, bright orange, and some kind of pukey mixes of all of the above. It's the colorway only a mother could love. On the right is some wool I bought at the Astoria farmer's market over a year ago. I can't remember what kind of wool it is, but I'm guessing Shetland from the texture. I can't decide whether to 2-ply or navajo ply this.

On the left, a sleeve-in-progress and body-in-progress for Carpathian Black Roses from Norsk Strikkedesign. It's hanging out with a Wildfoote sock that is destined for my darling. On the right, the Crofter's Slipover from Folk Vests, out of Rowanspun 4-ply (yay for Elann clearance!). It's ready for me to figure out where the center front is and start the neck steek. Or, it would be ready for that step, if half a row worth of stitches hadn't bailed off the needle last time I pulled it out of its totebag, going all higgelty-piggelty in the process. Urgh.

Left, the Clock swatch/blanket squre. The cables are very, very cool, but it's slow going. On the right, and actual FO! (Yeah, I finished them two years ago, forgot to give them to the intended recepient, and just dug them out last night in a fit of blind panic about an impending baby shower. But they're still finished, so I get to count them.)

Additionally, there are two baby sweaters in progress that are supposed to be surprises, and on the off-chance that anyone actually reads my blog, I'm going to leave them to be surprises.

(If I were honest and forthright, I'd admit to the other lurking projects, the ones that I'm not actively working on. But I'm all for a few lies among friends, so let's pretend that the 8 projects above are really all I have going.)

Unrelated news: I survived another faculty development day. I got approximately 1/4 of a baby sweater done, and I didn't scream at anyone or pound my head on the table.

Stella decided we weren't paying enough attention to her this evening, so she decided to help us with the laundry. Normally, both dogs are very, very good about only playing with designated dog toys, but something was obviously very tempting aboout this sock. T. said that me laughing and taking pictures just encouraged her. But come on, how could I resist?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Silent Poetry Reading

Grace's Poppies has inspired a blog-world poetry reading in honor of St. Brigid's Day/Groundhog Day. I lurve me some poetry, so it was hard to pick one. But in these dark and soggy days of winter blahs, I think we all need some Louis Simpson.

Luminous Night

I love the dark race of poets,
And yet there is also happiness.

If I can stand it, I can stand anything.
Luminous night, let fall your pearls!
Wind, toss the sodden boughs!

Then let the birch trees shine
Like crystal. Light the boughs!
We can live here, Cristina,

We can live here,
In this house, among these trees,
This world so many have left.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

I don't make up these statistics

The English teacher in me is always nagging, "cite your sources." So, for anyone skeptical about my claims about the weather, see this news story. The most exciting facts are that 1) it was the 3rd wettest month recorded, and 2) it was overcast 30/31 days.

Even Stella is looking a little droopy and depressed.

I'm feeling a little depressed because I just graded a head-thumpingly bad paper. My students may think I enjoy giving them lousy grades, but they're wrong - it makes me sad, and then it makes me reach for the brandy.

I'm now going to give up on grading and watch the re-run of Project Runway while working on the Crofter's Pullover. Or my cable square. Or Carpathian Black Roses. Or a hat, since complicated projects aren't so compatible with that brandy.

Strangely true.

This is all Ryan's fault.

Ten Top Trivia Tips about Melinda!

  1. More than one million stray dogs and half a million stray cats live in Melinda!
  2. The canonical hours of the Christian church are matins, lauds, prime, terce, sext, none, Melinda and compline.
  3. Humans have 46 chromosomes, peas have 14, and Melinda has 7!
  4. Melinda has a memory span of three seconds!
  5. California is the biggest exporter of Melinda in the world!
  6. During World War II, Americans tried to train Melinda to drop bombs.
  7. Humans share about fifty percent of their DNA with Melinda.
  8. Long ago, the people of Nicaragua believed that if they threw Melinda into a volcano it would stop erupting.
  9. An average beaver can cut down Melinda every year.
  10. Melinda has enough fat to produce 32 bars of soap!
I am interested in - do tell me about