Saturday, April 29, 2006

Sleep shopping

I had to give a final exam at 8:00 AM this morning (yes, on a Saturday) to my film and literature class. I realize that there are lots of people in the world who spring out of bed and are hard at work by 8 every morning. I'm not one of them. I greet the morning squinty-eyed and surly and require a spatula and an IV drip of tea to pry myself out of bed. So I wasn't exactly at my sparkling best this morning. To console myself for the horror of the early exam, I decided to swing by the Seattle Knitting Expo marketplace on my way home.

I don't have clear memories of what happened, but apparently even in my zombie-tired state I managed to reach for my credit card. Some roving followed me home.

On the left, 18 oz of Coopworth from Rainshadow Farm in Kingston, WA. She had really beautiful naturally dyed yarn, too, which I managed to resist. The two balls on the right are 4 oz batches from Reflection Farm in Eatonville. The wool is Romeldale/CVM, gorgeously immersion dyed, and soft, soft, soft. I managed to resist all the commercial yarn, but I'm weak for local wool when the people selling it are the people who raise the sheep. I'm going back to the market tomorrow with Nancy (to help her shop, like a good friend).

On the knitting front, I finished the Dulaan cloud sweater. It's very cuddly, and the flashing thing the yarn did is fun. This is Wool-ease that my sister Lynette gave me stranded with Bollicine Sissi.

I've been spinning this evening, trying to free up the wheel so I can play with my new wool. (Also, I need to grade a bunch of papers for the film and lit class, so spinning is the natural, obvious, and useful thing to do.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Finished object sighting

I've finished the pink sparkly socks. (Sorry about the dark picture. It's night and all.)

The second one I knit may actually be bulletproof. Geez, I must be tense. But I like them, and they are just as pink and sparkly as I'd hoped. I'm even well ahead of the deadline for Cirque du Socks, which is damn near miraculous for me.

Now I'm going to apply myself to finishing other things instead of starting new projects. I'm close to done with the Dulaan cloud sweater, but unfortunately, it makes a very nice dog pillow.

The sheep of things to come.

Have you seen this story about a battle in the Netherlands concerning advertisements on sheep? I'm deeply amused by the controversy, and by the wealth of bad puns it spawned. Trent is always bitching about the punniness of the knitting world, but apparently there's something about a sheep story that brings it out in everyone. Here's some selected headlines:

Advertiser Counts on Sheep to Pull Eyes Over the Wool
Baa Code the Sheep of Things to Come? (Same text as story above)
Baa Humbug to Ads on Sheep, Mayor Says

Monday, April 24, 2006

2 pubs, pink sock, and other adventures

It's been busy. If I were a better blogger, I would have toted the camera around for all the action the last few days, but, well, I'm not.

I became aware that I was babbling in my 8 a.m. class. That's always a painful moment. I just blithely pretended I was making sense and moved on to the next topic. The rest the day continued in much that style. I think I graded some papers and dealt with some committee work, but it's also possible that I spent most of the day staring blankly at my computer. I zoomed home in time to take a nap before heading out for Friday night fun.

I dropped Trent off at Hale's and headed to the sale at The Fiber Gallery. (Somehow, Trent didn't relish the prospect of being stuckin a yarn store while it was under attack from bargain barbarians.) It's possible that I bought some yarn, maybe enough for 4 pairs of socks and a future gift to a friend. I also saw Dorothy and Zach. Back at Hale's, I worked on the sparkly pink 2 circs sock while waiting for dinner. We moved on to Conor Byrne for another delightful performance by Datri Bean, with a really fun opening band, Sasparilla. They play very cool old time and blues on washboard, washtub bass, dobro, and harmonica. I knit the pink sock before the music started and between sets. Plain stockinette is a wonderful thing in a dimly lit pub, and since Conor Byrne's fancies itself an Irish pub, I thought knitting contributed to the atmosphere.

Spring sprung! I've got tulips to prove it. After the regulation trip to the dog park, Trent and I ended up running errands. Somehow those errands involved visiting a guitar shop. Supposedly, he was shopping "for a friend", but it looks a lot like he was shopping for himself. I knit on the pink sock and tried to remain unconcerned.

By Saturday night, I became very absorbed with spinning Maria. I spun and navajo plied a sample, which came out at just over 5 sts/inch. It's pretty coarse wool, but I love the crisp feel and the way the natural fleece colors make for subtle variegations.

Sunday was also beautiful, and despite the serious professorial work I needed to do, I spent much of the day sitting in the sun spinning. (The picture below was taken at night, not in the sun. And yes, that's a dog snout at the top of the picture.)

Roger and Avril came over for pizza, beer, and sock instruction, and then I finally applied my nose to the grindstone at about 9 last night to read the textbook manuscript I needed to review by today.

Which brings us to Monday. Chloe got her stitches out (yay!) and is less itchy now. I made the entirely happy discovery that my class today only involved showing them a movie. I even hauled my fat self to the health club and hamstered away on the treadmill for awhile. Incidentally, the Yarn Harlot is completely right - audio books are life-changing. Even better, they can be downloaded free from our fine local library system. I've been knitting, spinning, and health clubbing with books.

Aside from the pink socks and spinning Maria, I've been working to finish up the Dulaan cloud sweater. I'm now on the second arm, and the end is definitely in sight.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Baa baa mailman

He brought me some wool!

The box looked promising:

And the contents even more so.

This big bag of wool was used as packing material to return some cds we loaned our friends Jon and Lydia ages ago. Jon writes:

"It used to be attached to someone named Maria. When Maria arrived at [Jon's farmer friend] Pam's farm, in trade for 2 ewe lambs, she hadn't been sheared in a year...the wool is very long. Maria can trace her lineage back to New Zealand, and is apparently quite fancy herself."

Truly, it's gorgeous wool, gray at the base and white at the tips, and even better - it's already washed. Woo-hoo! (I have a front loading washing machine. Wool washing, consequently, happens in the kitchen sink, which makes it a royal pain in the ass.) Look at that staple!

I'm going to try to find out what kind of fancy sheep Maria is. Meanwhile, I'm very, very tempted to take my portable wheel and some of this wool to work, but I don't think that would be entirely conducive to preparing for my evening literature class. (Tonight, A Clockwork Orange, probably also "too old.")

Edit: Maria is a Romney. Pam has a herd of Romney on her farm, Hidden Spring Farm, in the Willamette Valley in Oregon. (The website is under construction, but there's a link for emailing her if you're jealous of my fleece.)

Also, my students did not think Clockwork Orange was too old. No, last night's brilliant insight was that it was "unrealistic." (Thwack, thwack.)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Alien landing

Thanks for all the comments about the slippers. I'm not responsible for the design - just the alienation. They're based on the Felted Furry Footwarmers in Stitch n' Bitch Nation. I made the standard slippers, except longer, and them created antennae (3 stitch i-cord) and the snouts (9 stitches in the round, k 5 rows, inc 3 evenly around, k 2 rows, inc 3 evenly around, k 1 row, bind off loosely).

I managed to swing by Joann's this morning on my way home from the dog park and get some eyes and a glue gun. How have I been living without a glue gun? Now I want to glue everything. (Here kitty, kitty.) I intended to get the slippers to the recipient today, but realized that the double-thick soles of the slippers haven't dried yet. Curses. But here they are, basking in today's fairly decent weather.

I just hope they cheer my friend up. God knows I can't stop giggling when I see them.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Holiday weekend

Friday off was lovely. I actually feel like I've had a weekend. I went and hung out with Dorothy and Zach Friday afternoon. (Dorothy, the cookies were tasty, and I'm sure the flatness was a design feature.) Zach has phenomenal powers of concentration. He sat between his mother and me as we carried on a conversation, and managed to start the shortrows on the hedgehog. Friday night, Nancy came over for pizza, knitting, and cherry lambic. She's started Sockbug's Lacy Scallop socks in some Cherry Tree Hill supersock (a VERY late Christmas present, but better late than never, right?).

Saturday would have been nicer if we hadn't had a freak hail storm in the middle of the afternoon. That's my deck.

I finally felted the alien slippers. Here's the before:

And the after:

I think the size came out right, amazingly enough. I'm distraught because I didn't think to go on googly eye quest yesterday, and since today is Easter, I suspect I'm outta luck. Aargh.

I'm in the gusset of sparkly pink sock #2. This project hurts my right thumb. I don't know if it's the 2 circs menthod, the extra-firm gauge, or just my tendency to work on them for long stretches of time. Hmmph. I'm going to try another pair with the 1's I got from Patti, and see if different (slightly bigger) yarn makes a difference.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


It's been an eventful week. Highlights:

1. Frankendog. Chloe had some mysterious skin growths that made the vet slightly nervous. Since she had to have anaesthesia anyway to get her teeth cleaned, we decided to have them removed. They all turned out to be benign, which is good, but poor Chloe now looks decidely stitched together. (Trent's comment: "So, it was basically an operation to remove money from our pocket?")

2. New tires. It turns out that all the things I thought were wrong with the alignment, suspension, and brakes were caused by the near-death state of our former tires. Kudos, incidentally, to Les Schwab for their friendly and efficient employees, who did not try to sell me anything I didn't need. While I waited, I worked on my Cirque du Socks pink sparkly socks, much to the amazement of the woman sitting next to me in the waiting room.

3. The completely delightful Elaine came over for dinner (lamb stew with apricots) and to record an interview with Trent for one of the distance classes he's teaching. She even brought us flowers...

4. ...which you can see here. Poor Trent has been working his tail off. (See, honey, this is what happens when you make funny faces when I'm taking pictures - they end up in the blogosphere.)

5. I had what my dear doctor refers to as my "oil change and tune-up." It seemed pokier and more uncomfortable than usual. I took the rest of the day (Wednesday) off because, dammit, a girl needs a mental health day sometimes. (And also so I could stay home and make sure Chloe didn't scratch her stitches open.)

6. We went to a KEXP member event on Tuesday, the band Elbow at the Triple Door. It was fun, and they were pretty good.

I've been mainly knittng furry green alien slippers. I'm planning to felt tomorrow (it's a holiday for me) so I'll have before and after pictures. Tomorrow's planned activities also include visiting Dorothy to loan her and Zach some sock books. The dogs will need to go to the park, too. Stella's getting that scary look in her eyes...

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Action packed

Not really, but I'm kind of blank of clever titles this evening.

I've added another WIP to the mix. I'm now making the felted furry slippers from Stitch n' Bitch Nation. One of my friends is ill, and I think ridiculous furry slippers will, at least, make him chuckle. I'm going to turn these into aliens (instead of monsters) by adding some tentacles and antennae...and maybe three eyes per slipper. We'll see. I'm a bit concerned about sizing, because the pattern is written for women's medium, and my friend is men's large (he's tall, so I'm assuming he has long feet). The unfelted slipper looks ridiculous, so I'm praying it comes out okay.

I also made some progress on Trent's rainbow sock this weekend. The pink sparkly sock is still on hold.

Trent and I tried a new (to us) restaurant, The Jones Bistro in Maple Leaf, on Friday night, and on our scale of goodness it rates at about a "Roll around on the floor in joy." It has Seattle standard decor - exposed pipe, dark walls, dark lighting, tall booths, tall bar tables - but it wasn't radiating snotty pretension, so we gave it a go. They have a decent selection of NW microbrews, and what looks to be a good wine list (we had beer, so I can't vouch for the wine). Trent ordered the French Onion Soup to start. It took a damn long time to get to us, but since the menu says everything is made fresh, we assumed they were back there caramelizing the onions. It was worth the wait - yummy smooth transcendence with cheese toast. They use GOOD cheese, too, something a little sharp to offset the sweet onions. The only thing a little sad about the soup was that they fill the ramekin right up to the edge, so it's impossible not to slosh a little.

I had the flank steak sandwich, which was so damn good that I had to close my eyes and have a private moment with it after the first bite. It comes with fries, and they're some of the best fries in Seattle. (I say that with confidence. We've eaten a lot of fries, y'all.) While I was making snorting piggy noises and shoveling in fries and licking horseradish sauce and steak juice off my fingers, Trent was consorting with his pork tenderloin. It was juicy and spicy, and the veggie tagine and couscous that it's served with are actually good and right with it, not just fancy plate dressing.

We were stuffed, but decided to split one of the fancy drinks, the "Chocolate Scandal" for dessert. As their cocktail list says, "A celebration of dessert flavors is achieved with Stoli Vanil, Bailey's, Kahlua, Frangelico, and dark Creme de Cacao. Shaken and strained into a chocolate-encircled, frozen martini glass." Mmmmmm, choco-tini.

I was so globally happy from the food and drinks that when we got home and discovered Stella had raided my bookbag and shredded a tupperware and a maxi pad (and apparently eaten a Ricloa cough drop, since I found a wrapper), I just laughed and laughed. Bad dog owner.

This afternoon we went to an engagement party. Our friends Melissa and Paul are officially engaged now. He proposed in Paris, on a bridge over the Seine. Awwww...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Thwack, thwack

That sound? Is me, hitting my head against the wall. Tonight in my film and literature class, one of my students announced that he didn't like Citizen Kane because "it's too old." He had no further explanation.

In happier news, the beer is merrily burpling along. I'm now down to only two XO patterns to go on Crofter's. I managed not to buy an sock yarn from Elann today. Best of all, tomorrow is Friday, and I don't have to do a heck of a lot in my classes. Yay, Friday.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

There's no news like no news

It's been a slow week thus far. That's okay with me, it just makes for boring blogging. This is all I got, folks.

1. Pink sparkly socks are on hold. I think I've injured my thumb knitting on two circs.

2. Tuesday was sunny and gorgeous. I was supposed to be grading papers. Instead I sat in the sun and spun for awhile. I also bravely headed out to the garden to do round 1 with the demon blackberries. (For those of you who don't live in the Pacific NW, blackberries are not yummy friends. They're evil, invasive, thorny, and damn stubborn brambles that will strangle your flowers and likely swallow your cat, too.) The blackberries fought back. Note to self: wear long sleeves next time. I did manage to grade 3 papers.

3. Trent brewed yesterday, so the whole house smelled like beer for about 5 hours. It's an IPA. I expect it will be ready by, oh, mid-May. Y'all come on by.

4. I got some knitting done on Trent's rainbow socks, Black Roses, Crofter's, and the Dulaan Cloud sweater. The WIP count is holding at 12, but I'm struggling not to start new things.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Corrupting influence

The WIPs

I've always had the impression, from the way other knitters talk about their WIPs on various forums, that I have a fairly moderate number of WIPs. Reasonable, even. I was shocked (shocked!) to discover that I was on the high end of Elspeth's WIP It Out day. A couple of others (including Elspeth!) had as many listed as I did, but most of the folks who participated had 4 or 5, which hardly seems worth counting to me. I suspect that those who have more just didn't participate.

I have ripped the pi shawl, so I'm officially at 12 WIPs. This weekend I've worked on the pink sparkly socks, the ski sweater socks (I even remembered what the hell I was doing), the Dulaan cloud sweater (sleeve started), and Carpathian Black Roses. My theory is that I'll work on lots of things in rotation, and then suddenly, miraculously appear to silmultaneously complete several projects.

Cirque du Socks update: I've finished sock 1 (ends are even sewn in) and started sock 2, on display here.

Knit and Natter
Patti came by on Saturday with her charming kidlet. We discussed 2 circ technique, and she did try again, but concluded that she just hates it. So I bought her size 1 Addis. I got to see some of her gorgeous sock yarn, and also the stretchy cotton yarn she's experimenting with. (Sidenote: Patti is a row counter. She diligently marks down each completed row of sock. I'm afraid I may have actually recoiled in horror when she told me this. But I swear I won't hold her obsessiveness against her.) I demonstrated spinning for her and kidlet, and she was very interesting. I may be swaying her over to the dark side...

Later on Saturday, Avril and Roger came over. The boys went off to Guitar Center (aren't I trusting?) and Avril and I went to Village Yarn and Tea. Sadly, the trunk show for Knitting Vintage Socks was gone, but I managed to console myself with some roving. Avril bought yarn for TWO pairs of socks, plus some smaller DPNs. You may recall my deep concern when Avril finished all her existing projects and didn't immediately start scouring her house for something else to cast on. I'm pleased to report that she's now developing a properly concerned attitude, and has, I believe, three projects on the needles. I'm so relieved.