Thursday, March 30, 2006

WIP It Out Day

(Trent, sweetie, you might stay happier if you don't read this post.)

Elspeth had the bright idea that March 31st be the day of revealing WIPs. The good news is that I have fewer WIPs than I thought. Really, it's not that bad. Of course, I only counted projects that have actual knitting done - not the "on deck" projects that are waiting for their chance.

The list is organized by type, and by how often I work on them within each type.

1. Cirque du Socks pink sparkly socks - see my last post for a picture. Sock 1 on toe decreases, completion scheduled by the end of April.
2. Wildfoote Handpaints "Rock n Roll" socks for Trent. On sock 2's ribbing. (Yes, Mom, I know the finished sock is funny looking. It really does fit.) These are my purse knitting project - they go to concerts, restaurants, and friends' houses, so progress is erratic but ongoing. I started these on our honeymoon trip (Dec. 19), so they're not too antique at this point.

3. 1960's ski sweater socks in yarn melange. I ended up with two odd balls of handspun, which I put together with two equally random stash yarns in a slip stitch pattern (from one of the Barbara Walker treasuries). The color and pattern reminds me of a cheesy ski sweater, hence their informal name. That's sock 1, somewhere in the gusset decreases, where it's been for, oh, 2 or more years. It's hard to keep the yarns untangled, and the use of 4 colors prevents the project from being portable. But now that these have emerged from the garage, I'm going to finish them. Someday.

4. Pacific Northwest Shawl in, umm, some merino lace yarn. I think I cast on for it sometime in the last year and a half, because it was after we moved to this house. I'm to the waves, not that you can tell from this picture. I work on it very occasionally, but will eventually finish.

5. Pi shawl in random cotton/cashmere yarn. Hmm, I started this about a year ago when someone on the Spinlist started the EZ as Pi group. I rapidly lost enthusiasm, as you can tell by the missing needle. This is getting frogged, definitely. I think I'll have to dye this yarn in order to develop any interest in using it.

6. Dulaan cloud sweater in woolease and mohair. This is a top-down raglan in need of sleeves. I'll do that just as soon as I find the 16" size 9. (Note: It's weird how zig-zaggy the variegation looks in this photo - it's much more muted in person.)

7. Dulaan sweater in woolease and some shiny mohair stuff. This is my work project. It lives in my desk drawer for those times at work when I have time to knit. I average about 6 rows a week, but like the tortoise... (And yes, my desk at work IS that messy, and you're not even seeing the worst of it.)

Sweatery Stuff
8. Crofter's slipover from Folk Vests in Rowanspun 4-ply. This is making progress - I only have 3 XO patterns left to go, and all that corrugated ribbing around the neck and armholes.

9. Carpathian Black Roses from Norsk Strikkedesign. I got the sleeve mostly done while figuring out my gauge (and becuase the chart was fun). Then I started the body, and now I'm in the valley of the shadow of the lice pattern. It's slow going. I need something like an uninterrupted weekend of movies to make some progress.

10. Scandinavian Star vest from Folk Vests in Silky Wool. All this needs is the arm facings and some minor finishing (sew up hem, sew on clasps). Here's the thing: it's not going to fit me. I can't frog it because it's steeked (and I wouldn't, anyway - that was an assload of work), but it's hard to get enthused about picking up a million stitches on something I can't wear. I finished knitting the rest of this in October when I was visiting my mom, so it's certainly been sitting for awhile.

11. Linen Drape Shell from some issue of IK in Jaegar Trinity. This is a SLEEVELESS top, y'all, and it doesn't even require picking up armhold facings. That's the back and part of the front. The front is a v-neck, so once I hit the neck it will be less and less knitting each row. I set this aside because the Trinity sort of hurts my hands (I'm knitting it tight) and it's black, so it's damn hard to see what I'm doing. I'll get back to this one.

12. Garter Stitch Jacket from Simply Beautiful Sweaters in Dive Fiamma. Oy. I'm not going to finish this. I started this when I was a new knitter, before I learned that bulky knits make me look, well, bulkier. I'm going to frog this sucker and turn it into cute little kid sweaters, I think.

And a blanket
13. Aran sampler blanket squares, 5 complete, #6 on needles. I think I need 9 or 12 of these to make a respectable throw. It's a gift for friends. It's squares. I have no discipline. But this will eventually get done.

So, 13 WIPs, 2 of which will be frogged. That's not horrible, right? Right?

Sock progress

I'm on the toe decreases on sock 1. I had a moment of panic in which I became convinced that the deadline was April 1, not the end of April, but I checked the guidelines again and was reassured. I've only been working on the sock because knitting time has been a little scarce. Going around and around in stockinette is very soothing.

One of the Cirque du Socks knitalongers, Elspeth, has declared Friday, March 31st, "WIP it out day." Stay tuned for embarrasing revelations from the closet.

One last music review: the Beth Orton show was good. We haven't seen her in almost 8 years, and she's changed a lot. The show was surprisingly rockin' for someone I think of as being basically a folky. Her voice was about half shot (she was swilling Throat Coat through the whole show), but she still sounded pretty damn good, and it was great hearing old songs reworked and the new stuff live. It was at the Showbox, which is a mammoth club compared to the Tractor, so it's necessarily a more distant show. Trent and I were both completely bushed today, so there were naps.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

More musical goodness

We did manage to haul ourselves to the Tractor last night, and we're glad we did. We went mainly to hear Datri Bean. She's a friend of friends, and we tried to go to her cd release show at Conor Byrne a couple of weeks ago, but it was sold out. So, we were seeing (and hearing) her for the first time last night. Datri writes funny, sexy, bluesy songs about life, love, and food, and performs them with a grin. We loved her, and promptly invited her over to dinner.

The other band, Po' Girl, was lagniappe. We knew that one of the members was in the Be Good Tanyas, so we assumed we'd like them. And, sure enough, they were great. It was the last show of their tour, and they were charming and inexhaustible. They play a wild assortment of old timey-bluegrass-jazz-cajun-whatever, with gorgeous harmonies. I think Trent is a little in love with the clarinetist with the dreadlocks, but I understand.

I've done no knitting to speak of. I have to run some errands and try to get caught up on work today. Tonight we're going to see Beth Orton at the Showbox. Can we get lucky 3 times in a row with shows?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Auntie Em! Auntie Em!

The last few days have been a whirlwind. I finally got a day of sloth today, but I could use another one before heading back to work tomorrow.

Saturday I taught two, four-hour SAT review sessions to high school students at work. My employer offered the sessions for marketing reasons (and because we want to be good local citizens). I volunteered for it because I'm really good at standardized tests, have taught for a test prep company in the past, and got paid handsomely for my time. I re-discovered several things I should have remembered. 1) High school students, at least the ones who are willing to give up a Saturday to prepare for the SAT, are not scary. They were really sort of fun. 2) My voice starts to wear out at about hour 5 of talking. 3) My feet were sore much earlier, despite wearing my comfy shoes. I actually whimpered when I got home and took off my shoes. 4) The filter in my brain that prevents me from swearing a lot at work gets weaker and weaker as I become more and more tired. The HS students were amused. Trent suggested that swearing was probably the best recruiting thing I could have done, since it would differentiate me from their high school teachers. (N.B. It wasn't a lot of swearing, just a "damn" or two and maybe a "hell.")

The one thing I got right was remembering to eat enough protein. ProMax protein bars are nasty tasting, but I didn't keel over halfway through the morning.

Saturday night, we went to see Simon Shaheen at Town Hall. Shaheen and his ensemble play mostly traditional Arabic music, and for last night's show they made a special effort to play pieces from Egyptian cinema (which was a major medium for music from about 1930-50) because the show was being co-sponsored by the Seattle Arabic and Iranian Film Festival. Trent and I saw Shaheen and his ensemble play years ago at Duke, so we knew it would be good. But, wow, the show was truly amazing. I was dog-tired, but I found myself totally transported by some of the pieces they played. They had a vocalist with them, and he was amazing. That's the second time I've used that word in this paragraph, but I really can't think of a better one. At some points, his range, control, and sustain just made my jaw drop.

The crowd included many people of obviously Arabic background, including the people sitting in front of us and behind us. The woman behind us was one of those beautifully dressed little old ladies who looks silmultaneously frail and like she'll outlive us all. When the vocalist started, I heard her start talking to her husband (I assume that's who he was). At first I was irritated, but then I really began to enjoy the way they would exclaim at the vocalist's abilities, and (loudly) whisper the name of each song they recognized as soon as they figured it out. It really felt like being part of a remarkable community experience.

For those of you moved by my glowing review, Shaheen will be playing in Seattle again at McCaw Hall on May 27 and 28 (I believe as part of Folklife).

Monday night, we're most likely going to the Tractor to see Po' Girl and Datri Bean, and Tuesday we have tickets to Beth Orton. I'm exhausted just thinking about it.

In my few spare moments since my last post, I've continued on my Cirque du Socks sock. I've just finished the gusset decreases.

I'm also still working on the Crofter's Slipover (and about 7 other projects that are currently waiting for my wandering attention to come back their way). I even got some spinning done today.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Sock progress

That's my hand modelling the sock. I've just started the heel flap.

The white stripe was a surprise. I'm pretty sure it's a dye mistake, but I decided that it gave the sock a certain quirky character, so I knit it instead of breaking the yarn and skipping ahead. (That decision had nothing to do with my pathological hatred of ends.) I'm a wee bit concerned that the sparkly bits will make these socks itchy, but hopefully not.

I intended to make toe-up socks for my Cirque du Socks project, but I found myself a Ferals on Monday night with yarn and two circular needles, but no directions or guidance for toe-up socks. I wanted to get started, so top-down it is. I'm finding them very soothing to knit. They seem to be going really fast, but I don't know if that's the circular needles, the amount of time I've devoted to them, or the magic pink sparkly yarn.

Good Music
My fabulous local independent radio station, KEXP, broadcast from South by Southwest in Austin last week. They had some killer live performances. Billy Bragg is especially worth checking out while the entire session is available in the streaming acrchives because the interview bits were so entertaining. He's opinionated, funny, and delightfully English. The performance started at about 1:05 pm on March 16. It will be on the streaming archives for another week, after which the songs will still be available but not the interview bits.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Dulaan knit-in

On Sunday, Ryan, Elaine, Dorothy, and Nancy came over to hang out and knit for Dulaan. We had a ball. First, there was food. I made a pot of meaty chili (with special secret ingredients), and a pot of Brazilian Black Bean Soup (from the Moosewood). I also had a collection of yummy cookies from our delightful local Iranian bakery, Minoo. Ryan showed up with a folding table, a cheesecake, and a bag of cheetos (mmmm, orangey goodness). Elain came bearing delish puff pastry treats that Ryan dubbed "cheesy boobs". (I'm sad that I don't have pictures to illustrate why.) Nancy and Dorothy turned up with mimosa fixings.

I had piled up all my Dulaan-able stash and was hoping that some of it would go away. While Ryan and Dorothy took a few things, Elaine left some, so I'm not sure there was a net loss. Dammit. If any reasonably local people need fresh yarn for their charity projects, let me know and you can come pilfer through the stash.

Here's Elaine (wearing her beautiful Olympic Gold project):

Dorothy, basking in the afternoon sun and hard at work:

Ryan, looking unusually serious for someone eating cheesecake and receiving the devotion of Chloe.

I somehow failed to take a picture of Nancy.

Nancy, Dorothy, and Elaine all worked on Cloud Hats, while I finished the body of my "cloud sweater" (wool-ease from a big bag that my sister gave me stranded with mohair). I couldn't handle sleeves with company, so I started a wee cloud hat toward the end of the festivities. I was so inspired that I finished it last night (while watching the midnight rerun of CSI: Miami. Late night television really is a wasteland).

In my post-knit-in frenzy, I also finished the second Child's First Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks.

Now I can start my Cirque du Socks with a clean conscience. That's sparkly pink yarn, y'all.

The poor doggies were completely flattened after all the exciting company. (I know the attendees won't believe this, but Stella really does sleep sometimes.)

Friday, March 17, 2006

I'm becoming a joiner

First, the good news for the week: the SAT review is NEXT weekend. Since I don't have to be at work all day on Saturday, there's a pretty good likelihood that I'll be able to ride herd on the dust buffalo before people come over for the Dulaan Knit-in on Sunday. Yay!

I've decided to join the Cirque du Socks. I'm tremendously proud
of myself for figuring out how to post the cute button in my side bar without committing evil hotlinking. (Yes, I'm very, very slow about figuring out web stuff, and yes, I'm far too stubborn to ask someone who knows these things.)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Vest Modelling Shots!

Mom sent me pictures of the vest in action:

In other news...well, there's not much. It's the first week of my academic term, and it's been busy bordering on frantic. Much of this is my fault for not getting more done over the break, but I needed the mental holiday. I'm teaching an SAT prep session on Saturday (all freakin' day) that we're doing as a marketing effort to get high school students in, and things will ease up a bit after that.

I've barely knit since the retreat. I was working on Trent's second rainbow sock while watching The Godfather the other night in preparation for teaching it in my film and lit class. Trent came by and commented that they're now "the socks I can't refuse." I told him that I'd give him the socks, but at some point in the future I'd ask a favor.... (Yes, we found this funny. Yes, we're easily amused.)

Monday, March 13, 2006


Wow, the knitting retreat was a blast. I'm exhausted. There's no incentive to sleep when knitting, cocktails, and friends you don't see often are so conveniently close at hand.

I got some work done on Carpathian Black Roses, but I spent most of the weekend working on the Child's First Sock in Shell Pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks. I'm making them out of Hand Jive Knits Nature's Palette fingering weight. It's beautiful yarn, but the dye comes off on my fingers. I spent all weekend blue-green, and I think my needles are permanently stained. I finished one, and I'm past the gusset on sock 2.

This lace pattern is a blast to work. I ignored the instructions to work it on 3 needles and used 4 instead. It's an 8 stitch repeat over 64 stitches, so if you use a 5 needle set, you can have 2 repeats on each of 4 needles. (I like symmetry.)

We had a baby shower during the retreat, and my latest baby shower is now in the hands of the mom-to-be, Martha. I made Haiku from out of Australian Merinos superwash wool in a fun tweedy color. Here's the finished sweater, plus a shot of my helpful assistant aiding in the seaming process.

I've got to get more sleep.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Knitting and Procrastinating


Monday night found me at the Feral Knitters meeting at Third Place Books, thanks to Karen putting me on the mailing list. It was great fun. Ryan and Rebecca were there, among many others. Everyone was working on gorgeous, gorgeous things. Nancy even turned up, well on her way to sock 2 of her Olympic goal. (Shut up. We do not acknowledge these mundane deadlines. She'll earn gold when she's good and ready.) I managed to make a little progress on Crofter's, although I had to pick out half a row of knitting because I hadn't managed to line up the peerie pattern correctly.

I also finished some spinning on Monday night. This is some wool I bought at the Astoria farmer's market quite a while ago. I think it might be Shetland, but I'm not sure. It was really, really neppy, so I just decided it was going to be textured. It's not as drab as it looks in this picture.

I realized after taking the above picture that the handspun is really getting kind of menacing. Here's what's in the yarn room (also known as the guest bedroom). This is just the recent stuff that hasn't made it to long term storage yet (or even medium-term storage, also known as my bedside table). I guess I need to knit something with some of this, huh?

Today I finished sock 1 of Trent's Wildfoote socks (color "Rock and Roll"). Yes, I know it looks funny. The leg is 2x2 ribbing, and he has really tall heels. Trust me, they fit.

I get to go to my knitting group's annual retreat in California on Thursday morning. I can hardly wait, and consequently I spent huge chunks of today fussing over what knitting I would take.


Okay, I haven't been too bad about this. I'm making slow but steady progress toward revising the course materials for film and lit. I should be able to finish the online development tomorrow, read The Godfather over the weekend (yeah, right), and finish watching the movie umm....sometime. It'll work out. Really. Oh, yeah, I need to figure out what I'm covering during the 4 hour SAT prep session I'm doing a week from Saturday. I'm sure this will all happen. Somehow.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Chock full of reviews

I've been off work this week, and consequently out of the routine of posting. Sorry. I've done all kinds of stuff since last posting, however.

Food Reviews:

Friday night, Trent and I tried the new Tutta Bella location in Wallingford. Tutta Bella is the only pizzeria in the northwest with the "Verace Pizza Napoletana" certification - it's official Neapolitan pizza, y'all. The new location is cavernous, but not unwelcoming thanks to it's wood-beamed ceilings. We called ahead to put ourselves on the waiting list (highly recommended if you're going on the weekend), so we were seated within 5 minutes of arrival. The tables are packed in - this is not a good spot for a romantic dinner, but would be great for a gang of friends. We had a small ceasar salad, which is made with real raw eggs and anchovies like god intended. Yum. Trent order the prosciutto e rucola (argula) pizza, and I had the Campania, which includes Isnerio's chicken sausage, kalamata olives, garlic, and fresh basil on top of the authentic Italian tomatoes and cheese. Both pizzas were very good. The crust was not as crispy as I expected, but tasted pleasantly of the wood smoke from the ovens. It's pleasantly chewy. Trent tells me that Italian flour is softer (lower protein) than our bread flour, and that they don't include olive oil in their crust. I had the house red (a Montelpuciano) and Trent had the "Tutta Bella ale," which is an amber brewed by Pyramid Brewing. It's good, but they serve it too cold. We got some tiramisu to go to share with our friends Roger and Avril. It may be the best tiramisu I've ever had - light, creamy, and just the right amount of each flavor.

Tonight, we ate at the Black Pearl's Shoreline location for the first time. It has the same menu as the Wedgewood restaurant. We skipped the spicier choices because my stomach is twitchy today. Trent had the hand shaven noodles with beef, and I had the mu shu pork. Both were tasty, although his noodles could have used more veg, and I had to send back the pancakes that came with my mu shu because they were soggy. The waiter was extremely accomodating about fixing it, however.


I mentioned that I had checked out some (very) light reading for my time off of work. So far, I've mowed through three books (two romances and a fantasy epic). I feel like I'm going to lose my intellectual credentials admitting to this, but I like genre fiction. A lot. (I feel like I'm at a Reader's Anonymous meeting: "Hi, my name is Melinda, and I have a romance novel problem.)

In the romance kingdom, I got Northern Lights by Nora Roberts from the library. Meh. It's really more of a mystery than a romance, which is normally okay with me. But the mystery wasn't particularly compelling, and there wasn't enough tension between our hero and heroine to make me overlook the staggeringly obvious bad guy. If this novel were about 100 pages shorter (and compressed the timeline), it would be better.

I also read The Truth about Love by Stephanie Laurens. I've liked her books in the past, but the language in this one seemed overly flowery. Still, it kept me entertained well enough, although (again) the mystery angle was stupidly obvious. Laurens writes sizzling sex scenes, and lots of them, so that's probably the main attraction.

I picked a fantasy novel based on what was on the shelf at the library and was the first in a series (I hate reading things out of order). I ended up with Sorcery Rising by Jude Fisher. This was pleasantly better than expected. The writing is low on purple prose and silly plot devices. This is the first of a trilogy, and she tosses about 20 balls in the air. I have no idea how she'll resolve all those plots and characters, but I'm intrigued enough that I put the second and third books in the trilogy on hold at our library.

Knitting News:

Mom got her vest. She loves it, and it fits. I'm thrilled, and so is she. She's going to send me pictures one of these days.

I'm back at work on the Crofter's vest from Folk Vests. Ah, colorwork, how I missed you.

I also finished up some eye-searing roving that's been sitting around forever. I haven't washed the yarn yet.


(Isn't it nice that I save it for last, so you can skip it easily?)

They had to shuffle class assignments around at work, so I went from having the best schedule in the world to having one that is kind of sucky. Compared to a regular job, it's a piece of cake, but after the initial wonderful schedule, it's a bite in the butt. So, now I have to do a bit more course prep than I expected I'd be doing. I also realized that my upcoming film and lit class has entirely male students, so I'm (once again) rethinking what films to teach. Sigh.