About Me

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Four years into widowhood, after one year of incredible happiness and nearly 14 years of single blessedness. Have given up perfect manicures and pretty hands in order to resume playing the soprano recorder and to see if I can figure out how to play bluegrass banjo. Singing in the shower. Still really, *really* love to knit!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I am Spackle Woman, Hear Me Roar!

There is nothing like having the right tools for the job. Skinny sticky fiberglass tape borrowed from Secondborn and her hubby, as a foundation for the quick setting, light duty spackling compound [which is paintworthy in 15 minutes, not 24 hours, huzzah!]. My old putty knife, about 2” wide, to lay down the compound. And a bright shiny new 6” putty knife to smooth it.

You’ve seen the accent wall, painted in a flat finish. This is what it looks like now with a wash of glaze in the same color. I like the eggshell finish much better than the flat. Who knew? [Please excuse the general blurriness; this is my nod to the Impressionists. Yeah. That’s it.]



Next comes the base coat for the fancy walls. It was so hard to make myself go out and play with others last night. I just wanted to stay home and paint until the cows came home. But I had a great time! The person who was supposed to teach us salsa was unavailable, so I ended up teaching them to line dance. I also demonstrated my lack of putting ability during the “games” portion of our fun and games.

We had plenty of good simple food: sandwiches, potato salad, olives, and at one point our choice of a Popsicle or a miniature “drumstick” ice cream cone. And pumpkin pie for anybody who still had room at the inn. I did not.

I met some new people, including a good brother who plays the piano, whistles gracefully and on key, and can tell jokes in multiple languages. One of the sisters in my ward is Japanese-born; he had her laughing and wiping her eyes. Another sister at our table spoke Spanish; he made sure that she was included. And he spoke a little French to me and related it to both the Japanese and the Spanish equivalents. All of this without being pedantic, overbearing, or obnoxious in general. [Naturally, he is too old to be a romantic prospect, but another JustFriend is always welcome.]

I am ready to tape newspapers over the windows and mask two of the three walls. I wonder if I will be able to move my bed all by myself, or if I will need to wait until LittleBit and her friend come over tonight? Emptying the bookcases and moving them across the room would definitely come under the heading of “labor”, so I will save them and their wall for tomorrow. Will be quite happy to help keep the labor in Labor Day.

Fourthborn’s Fiancé’s socks are wrapped, with a really great card that I found last night after the singles’ activity, and are ready to go. I am hoping that LittleBit will deliver them tonight.

I have put my large hatbox by the front door; I didn’t make it to Secondborn’s yesterday to return the wallboard tape, so will kill two or three birds with one stone tomorrow. The hatbox is full of photos from her father’s childhood. I’m not sure why I still have them, but they are safe, and I will be happy to turn them over to her and bring back an empty hatbox.

In knitting news, I have finished another repeat of chart 2 on Adamas. That’s eight, eight lovely repeats [cue The Count: bwa ha ha ha ha]. I’m heading back for more knitting, but first I will replace the switchplate by the bedroom door. I almost bought one that could be painted or decoupaged, but I was a little leery about the set-up for the plugs. I will definitely get one for by the front door, however, particularly if I go with Venetian plaster for the long wall and a compatible treatment on the other three walls. That switch seems a couple of degrees off plumb, and it will be less visible to me if I go with the upscale switchplate.

It is not 10° off plumb like the one in our bathroom in the old house in Irving; that one made me twitch every time I walked into the room. One of our friends who was a framing carpenter said that our house must have been framed by drunks, because one of my bedroom windows was 3” off square. That was easily obscured by my window treatment.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Puttering and Blissing Out

Today is Fourthborn’s Fiancé’s birthday. Happy birthday, J! We are so glad that you are part of the family! Pictures of the birthday socks to follow in the next day or so.

In far less eternally significant news, I finally sewed a button on this jacket. [Three buttons, actually; I think there must have been some roughness on the button shafts of the buttons it came with that chewed through thread like The Very Hungry Caterpillar. So I went through my stash and came up with these.] Bad, cannibalistic old buttons.



Good buttons. At least I’m hoping they are; time will tell.



The purists among you will note that the middle button is bit darker than its neighbors; it also has a slightly different pattern. I will be very surprised if anyone else notices. One more item of clothing out of the mending box and back into service!

And in the spirit of out with the old, in with the new, I will be replacing this ...



... with these.



Two of them are slightly smaller in diameter; they will go onto the top two drawers. If this were not a seven-drawer chest, I would have not been able to find enough compatible drawer knobs. I will take more pictures when I’ve repainted the dresser.

I indulged in a red linenesque holder for all my knitting magazines.



And here is where we stand on Adamas on a bright Saturday morning.



I am off to bribe myself with more knitting. One procrastinated task, two rows. All the laundry put away, another two rows. You know the drill.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Feeling Thankful, Getting Creative

It’s a beautiful Friday morning in my world. Ordinarily I would be watering the garden about now, so that I could leap in the car and head for the park and ride. But today I’m on vacation [again with the nanny nanny boo boo], and while I will head outside in a few minutes to water the tomatoes and basil, I will then come inside and knit until it’s time to leave for the laundromat.

I just opened the electric bill. Not good, but much better than the worst one I got at the apartment this time last year. So overall, I’m thankful. I will bump up the setting on the window units in my room and the studio. The thermostat fairies keep resetting them to 72°F [22°C]. I have the living room unit set to 78°F [26°C] and am perfectly comfortable with the ceiling fan going.

I really like the small dish drainer I bought a couple of weeks ago. It works so well with the built-in drainboard. I think that I might eventually want to get one of those gel kitchen mats to stand on while washing the dishes, but I’d like to stand on one first and see if it would be comfy or crazy-making for my feet.

The respiratory therapist will be by later this morning to check out my CPAP. I can’t believe I’ve been using it for a year now. She will make sure that it is working as well as I think it is. And then she will probably twist my arm to order a few replacement parts.

Today I will go pick up the rest of the paint and supplies for my bedroom walls. I think I might end up with enough leftover paint that I could repaint that brown seven-drawer chest. It’s just a cheapie that I was given by a friend who used to manage a storage unit. Someone had vacated and left it behind, possibly because the particleboard on the back is bashed in. It might be fun to paint the case with the same color I will use for the base coat on the three remaining walls, and then paint each drawer one of the coordinating colors. And maybe update the drawer pulls. I’ll measure the spacing between screw holes and see what I can find.

Daisy Cottage has painted a number of pieces of furniture, and I really like the effect. Her color choices remind me of the colors in my Mary Engelbreit “Snap Out of It!”poster.

I may also pick up paint chips for the living room. I am thinking maybe a warm caramel brown, more reddish than yellow.

And of course there will be knitting, every spare moment. I have completed the sixth repeat [out of fourteen] on chart 2 of Adamas. Still feeling the love. One more repeat and I will be roughly 25% done. So this will probably be a four-week project, and then on to the Sunrise Circle Jacket or the crop cardi from KnitSimple.

Home Depot and the laundromat both open in one hour. Decisions, decisions!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

“Kinnear him”, says Tola. The problem is that I am only intermittently successful at photographing things I am aiming at, head-on. [That profile of the truck, several months ago, was purely and simply a fluke.] Plus, I think the flash might tip him off.

I say we wait until Middlest is home from VA. We put her on the train to BigD, she meets me at work just before quitting time, we walk to the station together, she sits across the aisle, and she gets both a decent photograph of him, and a “have you seen this man?” sketch. The child is multiartual.

She stays on the train when Trainman and I walk off and go our separate ways. She rides back to the ITC, I drive over and pick her up. We publish. The girls say, “You think he’s cute?” and all my same generation girlfriends offer to arm-wrestle me for a spot on the train.

For those of you who have no idea what kinnearing is.

My vacation day was approved. Today is my Friday, nanny-nanny-boo-boo. I went out last night and bought a pint of ice cream, a small container of red pepper hummus, and a box of generic Ziploc bags to transport these.



I am driving in, because these smell even better than they look, and I have no wish to be divested of these piggies before the farewell breakfast at 9:00.

I put almost thirty rows on Adamas yesterday. Lots and lots of knitting time. We had a support staff meeting that ran long. I knitted before it began, and I knitted some more after the paralegals were excused. It was a good meeting, and the only thing that kept me awake for the latter part was my knitting. And then, of course, I knitted at lunch and on the train.

That book I loaned one of my attorneys? He brought it back yesterday. I sent it home with Trainman. Another good conversation, this time with knitting because I’ve worked enough repeats that I can look at it and tell what to do next.



He asked what “the pink things” are. I explained the purpose of stitch markers. He thought that was pretty cool. I asked if he knew where there was a Little Caesar’s. He did not. But as I turned onto the highway from the park and ride, the first thing I saw was a billboard telling me to turn right at the next exit if I wanted pizza. So I did.

And as I flew over the train station with a car full of happy pizza smells, I hollered in the general vicinity of the train, “Hey, Trainman! I got pizza!”

Nice, nice man. Somebody help me figure out how to roll his odometer forward about ten years? [P.S. Middlest, Honey? I saw him first. Age before beauty, and all that.]

“I think you should take a picture of Trainman. We are curious.”

[I inadvertently deleted Firstborn’s comment re: Trainman. Or maybe it was Freudian. Anyway, I copied it from the email that Blogger sent me and posted it.]

And I would explain the necessity, how? “Hi, sit still so I can take a picture of you for my blog because my oldest kid wants to know what you look like. And so do thirty or forty other people who read my blog.”

I think I’m so comfortable with him because I consider him too young to date [not that he has asked]. I get to be myself, and he can sit with me or not.

As for what he looks like, I don’t think any of my girls would notice him if he walked by on the street: typical 40-something businessman. Smart. Bespectacled. Tidy. Oh, and short. I didn’t realize that he was short [because I get on the train almost half an hour earlier than he does, so I’m always sitting by the window when he shows up] until we both stood up to leave on Monday night. He’s not much taller than I am, maybe 5’7”? Dark hair going salt-and-pepper. Clean-shaven. I don’t think he would even be a blip on their Hottie Meter.

But you know? It’s refreshing to look up and see a face beaming down at me with the same expression of “hey, I remember you, and I *like* you!” that BittyBubba gives me, only coming from someone closer to my own age. It’s not the look I see on the faces of my male friends. And it’s definitely not the greeting I get from the brethren at the singles’ activities.

So, it’s nice.

Changing the subject. Lots of other neat things have happened this week, possibly of a less ephemeral nature. I won two auctions for vintage scarves; they should arrive next week. When I got to Knit Night, Micki had this for me.



[Allspunup is the Etsy dyer.] Can you believe it? She was stash busting and thought it needed to come home with me. It’s even softer than it looks. I let Brother Sushi pet the wool when I went over to pick up speakers for my computer. [I will be listening to the soothing voice of David Reidy all weekend, woohoo!] His comment? “I bet that is going to be soft when you spin it up.” I bet he’s right!

I have provisionally asked for Friday off. I am in the mood to put on my painting clothes and make glorious messes. And four days is better for that, than three.

The turquoise swatch, unswum. And a little bleary-eyed. Size 5: 17.5 sts/in; size 6: 16.5 sts/in; size 7: 16.5 sts/in.



The turquoise swatch, swum. Size 5: 16.5 sts/in; size 6: 15.5 sts/in; size 7: 15 sts/in. Bled quite a bit in the sink, but not as egregiously as that turquoise silk mess from the indy dyer that Grace had to deal with. [Thank you for suggesting so sweetly and strongly that I do this, Jeri.] Looks like the Sunrise Circle Jacket is a go, once I have larger needle tips.



And in the meantime, I am halfway through the third repeat of Chart 2 on Adamas.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Grey Is the New Whatever

I suddenly remembered while driving to work yesterday that I have a grey skirt, because I whipped one up for Secondborn’s wedding in 2000. It came to light in that last batch of boxes in the hall, which I unpacked while looking for something else.

Last night’s family home evening activity was to tidy up the vent at the back of the skirt and secure it with a neat diagonal line of backstitching. The skirt is a classic cut, so I don’t need to worry about its looking “dated”. And it still fits!

I cannot seem to take a decent picture of it, however, so you will just have to wait. Once I have my sample cards from KnitPicks, I can make a sweater to go with it, and then I will have a suit. [Or something suit-ish.] I spent a little time on their website yesterday, jotting down the stock numbers of yarns that might be a good match. Some of the sample cards won’t be available for order until the end of next week, however. Good thing I have this to work on:



This is how far I got on Adamas yesterday. Much better. I think that most, if not all, of my future lace projects will be knit with Gloss Lace, unless it’s a project specifically designed for hand-painted laceweight yarn.

I would have gotten farther, but Trainman plopped down in the seat next to me, and we nattered happily until we reached Fort Worth. I am partway into the second repeat of Chart 2.

Time for me to pull my swatch for the turquoise cardi out of its bath and pin it out to dry. Shhh, don’t tell Jeri that I swam my swatch!

Monday, August 25, 2008

I wonder if the snails told them there was [near] beer?

I spent late Saturday night chasing waterbugs, the really big roaches that live outside and like to come in when it’s wet. Not the small black roaches or the bigger German browns that are so pesky when you live in apartments, and which [thankfully] appear not to have made the move with me. That last place was safe, but buggy.

The little roaches usually mean that you are a rotten housekeeper, or that your neighbors are. The big ones are not such an embarrassing declaration, merely a confounded nuisance. But a great source of aerobic exercise! I have a clear plastic container that I plop down over them [so I can keep an eye on them], and a large, thin sheet of cardboard that I slide under the container, the better to transport them to their watery grave in the loo. Having lived in Texas for nearly 30 years, I am a gold medalist in the five-meter waterbug death sprint!

This is the downside to having all these trees and bushes on the property :(

I am hoping that when we get the new doors and the woodwork is replaced on the bathroom window, that I will have seen the last of these guys. I flushed *three* of them Saturday night.

But my resting heart rate is stellar, thank you very much!

On to more pleasant topics. I think I know what I want to do with my unpainted bedroom walls. I spent too much time watching HGTV how-to videos on my computer on Saturday night [in between sprints] and studying several faux finish techniques. I think I want to do a parchment effect, using the second color on my paint chip [Behr Rose Chintz, #140D-5] as foundation and the other two colors [Shangri La, #140D-6 and Classic Cherry, #140D-7] as accents.

I love love love the Classic Cherry, and it tones wonderfully with my quilt, but I’m thinking it might be a bit much for three whole walls. If I have a mélange of the three darker tones on the paint chip, everything will play nicely together. But that also means that I will probably want to glaze the first wall with the last of its paint, thinned with acrylic glaze and water, so I won’t have three eggshell walls and one matte wall. That would also take care of the two or three bits that I missed when I painted it two weeks ago.

And it would keep me out of the pool halls just that much longer while I wait for the KnitPicks order I hope to be placing on Friday. [Tinks, Sisters of the Wool, is there anything you need to order from them?] I’m planning to get color cards for all the WOTA varieties and Harmony needle tips in US 5 through 8 and maybe some of the shorter cables. And maybe Harmony DP’s in sizes that I lack; whatever it takes to hit that magic $50 mark that equals free shipping. I might even bite the bullet and get my own set of blocking wires. It’s almost time for Mystery Stole #4.

Fourthborn’s Fiancé’s socks are done. I finished the first one, all but grafting the toe, at church yesterday. And by the time that Relief Society was over, I was nearly ready for the toe decreases on the second sock. Pictures are up on Ravelry. I’ll post them here sometime after his birthday.

This is what I am doing while I wait for the right needles to make the Sunrise Circle Jacket. And/or the cropped cardi. I have had Adamas in my queue for the better part of a year. And I am hoping it will prove sufficiently simple for train knitting. It may go into timeout for MS4, or I may finish it and knit MS4 long after everybody else has finished. [No, I am not the world’s most compliant knitalongeuse.] This is the yarn I will be using.



I suspect that I will be making several cardigans this fall; the thermostat for our meetinghouse is controlled remotely. As in, Tennessee. I could wear my black leather jacket at church, in Texas, in August. It is so cold in our building that it is a relief to walk outside after church and sit in the car for a minute or so before turning on the A/C. [How cold? Well, I don’t foresee a passel of baby brass monkeys anytime soon.]

When I came home from church with 1.9 completed socks and my scripture tote and my big red bag and [Almost]Cozy, the painter was locking up the other side of the duplex. He will be getting started today. [It was he who removed the “Eloy please call” sign; he thought it was delightful.]



I caught this post about 15 seconds before I had scheduled it to be published. I love Adamas. And I do not like the yarn, at least for this pattern; I think it will probably be perfect for Muir, which is also in my queue. So I wound up a ball of the KnitPicks Gloss Lace in Aegean, and I think I will like that much better.



Yes, this is the yarn that I bought to make myself a floaty tunic of a sweater. Yes, I might be putting that project in jeopardy. Yes, I will deal with that in the best Scarlett O’Hara tradition: tomorrow. And yes, I am also packing my much-neglected copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide, just in case I’m not any happier with Adamas 2.0.

And I found out what is wrong with my tomatoes: borers of some sort. Sigh...

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Silk Purse in Progress, and Fun in Siberia [?!]

I do believe that something which the neighbors might once have said was distinctly ear-shaped is beginning to rustle like silk! My friend says that the new doors are in at the home center and that the other items are in transit.

The guy who carted off the old stove and miscellaneous scrap metal, got in touch with her and will be painting the exterior. [We had a sign out front that said “Eloy please call me or leave your new number in the mailbox.” I can only imagine what the neighbors must have thought! I would give you a visual, but after my friend called to say that I could take down the sign, I took a nap instead; when I woke up the sign was gone. Otherwise, this post would have been entitled “Eloy’s Coming, Hide Your Heart, Girl”. It’s OK. Now I don’t have to apologize to Three Dog Night.]

I am starting to daydream about a couple of containers for along the front walk. But I don’t want to do that until the big noisy boys have finished tromping all over the yard and playing dodge-ball with ladders and toolboxes.

I have lost track of what happens when, but I do know that my friend has a honey-do list for both halves of the duplex that is as long as my arm. Possibly longer. Every time I think that living here cannot possibly get any more comfortable, she thinks up some new refinement.

By the time I had the sky pictures uploaded to Blogger last night, the storm had moved south. I sat on the porch for five or ten minutes until the mosquitoes found me. What can I say? I am just so sweet that they cannot stay away. Who knew that the average mosquito is wiser than [if not smarter than] the average middle-aged man?

I need want to get speakers for this computer. Recommendations, anyone? I don't want to rock the neighborhood, but I do want to listen to my podcasts. The window unit here in the living room keeps me oh so comfy and is only slightly noisier than the A/C at the previous apartment, but the difference is sufficient that I cannot easily listen to podcasts or the HGTV shows which I only discovered last night are available online, for free, but which cannot be tweaked for volume, unlike HGTV’s how-to videos].

When I went to bed this morning, both heels were complete on the Maybe Not So Boring Black Boot Socks. It was a good stopping point.

Now this? This is cool! A young single adult conference in Siberia, of all places. It puts my trek to our not-young singles dances in Lewisville [35 miles] and Richardson [50 miles] squarely in perspective. At least I do not have to take the Trans-Siberian Railway to get there. They looked as if they were having way more fun than we do at some of our activities. We are having one here in Fort Worth next weekend. I am looking forward to it. I have never not had a good time at one of the FW activities; I see no reason why things should be any different this time around.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Another Lovely Quiet Saturday in the Works

Written at Dark-Thirty
I went to bed early last night and woke up a few minutes before 3:00 this morning. The Maybe Not So Boring Black Boot Socks have heel shaping and are ready for their gussets. I just washed some dishes and am about ready for more knitting.

Those two scarves on eBay came and went before I could unscrew the inscrutable and bid on them. I got a polite and essentially useless response from tech support at eBay, saying that it was a PayPal issue, and a polite and possibly more useful response from PayPal. In the meantime, I have bid on a couple of vintage silk scarves, and we shall see how that goes.

I am just about in the mood to go play in my closet. [Well, I was at 6:30 this morning; the mood has passed.] I want to rearrange storage units in there, lay clothes out on the bed and try new color combinations, and divide up my accessories by color family. Shopping my closet is always more fun for me than shopping in stores or online, because I already know what suits me, and what fits. It’s then just a matter of “what do I want to wear today?” or “could I combine things differently?”

I also need to do laundry before it becomes critical, and check the tomatoes and basil, and I think take a nap sooner rather than later.

Have been reading the delightful book of essays that BestFriend sent me. Nice little noshes for the mind. And I am resisting the temptation to begin the Twilight series, though the girls have offered, because I know once I begin, nothing else will get done around here until I am finished.

Go take a look at Lene’s new scarf and felted hat. That scarf is from her handspun. And the pattern for it [Fiddlehead] is going into now in my queue on Ravelry.

Written Somewhat Later
I got that nap, after finishing the heel on the first sock and beginning the gusset decreases on the second one. Woke up just in time for dinner but went out to check on the garden first.



Something’s up with the tomato plants. I don’t know if it was all the rain last week, or if they really dislike being upside down.



Maybe it’s something in the garden soil mixture that I bought, dripping out on the leaves when I water and burning them? I have so much to learn before I can turn this backyard into a Garden of Eatin’.



The basil looks a wee bit happier with me. Does anybody know what those black spots are on the leaves? After snapping this picture, I got rid of the crepe myrtle blossoms that had blown into the bucket. I love crepe myrtles. I just don’t want any of them sprouting up in my basil.

I realized this morning that I didn’t need to make a trip to Town Talk. [Or anywhere else, really, except the laundromat, and it’s now late enough that I don’t want to go.] I have enough cheese and crackers to last for several weeks, for nights when it’s too hot to cook, or I’m not in the mood. I will only need to pick up fresh fruit every few days. And I’m out of ramen noodles and frozen spinach which, sorry, I much prefer to fresh.

Oh [non-sarcastic] goodie! I think I just heard a roll of thunder. I tried to get a picture of the trees dancing in the breeze that is sweeping ahead of the storm.



This is one of the porch pillars that will be rebuilt/replaced very soon.



And now if you all will excuse me, I'm going to take my knitting out on the porch and watch the show.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Window Shopping, Virtual and Literal

The fall issue of “Real Simple” says that grey is the big color for fall. I am actually a bit ahead of the game, since I’ve blocked [Almost]Cozy and have worn it to church once already. I knitted it up from my charcoal grey Berroco Denim Silk. And I have that lovely black and white tweed skirt with the lace hem, which reads as grey from a distance. I'm thinking that I want an actual sweater in some sort of grey yarn. So I am pondering the KnitPicks WOTA kettle-dyed in Soot, or maybe one of their heathered yarns, or maybe their Andean Silk. This will be decided *after* I have figured out what I am doing with my turquoise Chelsea Silk.

I did some browsing on the Coldwater Creek website yesterday, and after work I went into the local store and tried on the one item that had come in; they’re not getting one of them in-store, and the other should arrive shortly. I tried on a light teal jacquard jacket with ruffled trim, something that I would have said wouldn’t look good on me, and it was just fine, particularly in the shoulders.

The color is wrong to go with what I have in my closet, and I’m not crazy about the other colors that it comes in, so I won’t be buying it when it goes on sale at 70% off in a few months, but it was a useful exercise. I will check back in a couple of weeks to see if the teal swing jacket has come in. It’s suede and also comes in terracotta, and again I am not interested in purchasing it, but I want to see how it fits. If it were black or charcoal grey or a classic red, then I might buy it once it went on sale in the online outlet, but even at 70% off I’m not willing to buy something that is trendy in color and cut. One or the other, yes; both, no.

I also went to Avenue and tried on a couple of jackets. The colors are great, but the fabric isn’t as nice as the Coldwater Creek offerings, and the buttons are icky [great concept, poor execution] and would have to be replaced. So if I can pick one up in a few weeks for $15, I might do that, because they go with what I already have. None that I liked are grey, however; there was one charcoal grey jacket that was so-so, and another that didn’t appeal because it was metallic.

I am looking at scarves on eBay, something that would tie what I have with the new colors for fall, and I’ve found two that I like, but for some reason I can’t purchase from that dealer. My PayPal is linked to my eBay account; I’ve confirmed it twice.

I think the darker teal Gloss Lace will become a long floaty jacket or maybe a kimono. Trendy color, classic cut. I just want to work a project or two in fat yarn before I go back to that skinny stuff.

Good progress yesterday and this morning on both socks for Fiancé. Can’t wait to come home tonight and curl up on the bed with my knitting! But between now and then, there is train knitting and knitting on my breaks and knitting at lunch. Oh, and more knitting.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

If you can drown a snail in a saucer of beer

Will putting out a saucer of near-beer only give it a near-death experience? I went out to the car last night to get the last chocolate chip cookie. [Still in its Ziploc bag; I’m a lot more relaxed about desserts these days, now that I’m not sharing them with a houseful of urchins offspring blessings. That mincemeat pie lasted over a week and a half, because I felt no compulsion to get “my share” of it. And this cookie has been in the car a couple of days.]

I saw a big fat sassy snail on the porch, and another climbing up the steps. I remembered the O’Doul’s on the shelf in my kitchen. So I grabbed a saucer and my house keys [to open the can; I paid good money for these nails]. And I poured a quarter of the can all over my hand and a bit more into the saucer, and got a whole lot of it on the porch. Whatever will the neighbors think?



This is what I saw this morning. Somewhere in the shrubbery there is a snail with a headache, singing the Whiffenpoof Song. So, after a good night’s sleep, I brought in the big guns. The saucer for one of my pots, and a full can of O’Doul’s.



On to happier topics. Behold: a flower.



I saw this little guy when I rolled the trash bin out to the curb Tuesday morning. So I took a picture. I couldn’t figure out how to take a good one; this will have to do. [Ansel Adams’ ghost is rolling his eyes.] I’ve never seen anything like this before. It sprang up almost literally overnight.

When I backed up the car, I spied several just like him between the tree and the driveway. And as I pulled forward on the street, I saw even more of them in front of the other half of the duplex. Enchanting! If there are any of them left on Saturday, I will pick one and take it to the nursery and ask “what is this?”



I would like to protect them from the lawnmower and move them someplace safe, once they have stopped blooming. And I want to learn about them. They are probably some sort of noxious weed that is plotting to take over the yard and come in through the dryer vent and strangle me in my sleep. But until I know that for sure, I think they’re purdy. And I hope they stick around.

When I rolled the bins back to the side of the house after Knit Night, I noticed that the flowers were opening up. I think they might be some kind of lily. Whether they are Momicidal, remains to be seen.

Second sock is cast on. First sock was done, down to the three needle bind-off at the toe, and then I tried it on the non-athletic foot, over a sock. Just enough longer than my own foot to be a good fit for Fiancé. Unfortunately, I had botched the cast-on and it was way too tight, even for his much slimmer ankles. So it is frogged, and I have begun to reknit it. I will probably not use a three needle bind-off when I finish these socks for real; I think that the fatness of the yarn will make it too bulky for comfort.

And comfort is what handknitted socks are all about. Thankfully, it was only four days’ work, and I love this yarn, so it just means more happy knitting time. And his birthday isn’t until the end of the month.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Day of Much Knitting

I ended up driving in. Tried to cram in too much between waking at 5:00 and when I should have left at 6:30. Thankfully, one of my co-workers is on vacation, so I was able to park in her spot for free, woohoo!

Had a nice, productive morning at my desk. When I got back from lunch, our server was down. No intranet. No Outlook. No editing-of-documents. So I grabbed the sock and knitted away for two hours, between phone calls and incoming faxes, until the managing attorney and the office manager said, “Everybody go home.” [Outlook would come up for 15 seconds and be down for ten minutes, up for a minute and down for half an hour. Crazy-making, if one is not a knitter.]

What to do with all that serendipitous free time? I took the paperwork to Fourthborn at her job. It was so cool to walk in the door and see her at her desk, doing one of the many things she does so well. And to see Fiancé sitting way in the back at his own desk. We couldn’t persuade him to take off a shoe so I could get his shoe size or foot length. And somebody[ies] forgot to email me last night with that information. I also left the deposit slip with her, because LittleBit was picking them up after work.

Then I drove up to Barnes and Noble and got a four-cheese panini and a big glass of water. I flipped through the fall Interweave Knits, Knitters Magazine, and Vogue Knitting. Saw two or three things in each that I wouldn’t mind making, but nothing that said, “Whip out your debit card right now and take me home!”

Went to Knit Night and gave Jeri back all of that yummy WOTA. Julia had brought Harmony needles in the sizes I needed to try. She swatched on one, I swatched on the other. Then I scootched her stitches onto the end of my needle, and my stitches onto her now-empty needle, and we swatched again. And Joy handed me a different needle [Bryspun? Denise?] in a size 7, and I swatched with that.

I like the fabric best on the 5’s, but in stockinette it doesn’t quite give me the gauge I’m aiming for. And my gauge on the 6’s was a bit tighter; weird, but Jeri says that has happened to her in the past, where the gauge on the larger needle was more snug than the gauge on the smaller needle. She gave me the knitterly equivalent of The Wife Look and suggested [tactfully but firmly] that I swim the swatch before knitting the project.

I told her, “No, no, no.” because it makes her crazy, and is the proper response to The Wife Look if one is feeling contrary. Don’t tell her, but I will probably swim the swatch tonight.

I need to grab another ball of the black yarn. I have turned the heel on the first sock and will knit it to where I think the toe ought to begin and put it in time-out until I hear either, “Yes, I would love a pair of handknit socks. This is how long to make them.” or “No, thanks, I would rather have a boring, unimaginative gift card to the bookstore.” And then I will start the second sock. No idea, at this point, if they have fixed the technical difficulties at work. It would not do to be sitting at my desk, reading every word in the incoming faxes because I am bored to tears.

Much better to be sitting at my desk, smiling, because I know how to knit and am productively using my time. Maybe I ought to grab two balls of yarn, just in case.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Quiet Evening at Home

And amazingly enough, a good night’s sleep, for which I am thankful this morning. When I went to bed last night, I had approximately half a sock done for Fiancé’s birthday present. [Fourthborn confirmed that yes, he would almost certainly like a pair. He will have to wash them himself, by hand, because she is allergic to wool, and these are not made of superwash yarn.] But no pictures until they are done and in his hands, sorry! And as soon as I turn the heel on this sock, I will have to put it in time-out and cast on for the other, until she can get me either a foot measurement or a sock size.

I just needed an instant-gratification project that wouldn’t argue with me. While I am officially enrolled in the Summer of Socks, I have not knit pair one before this, as I have been fighting athletes foot since shortly before the move, and I didn’t want to befoul a skein of hand-painted sock yarn.

I am thinking that the Chelsea Silk might do very well for the Sunrise Circle Jacket, which needs to be about 15% larger than the largest charted size in order to fit me well, and that if I can find needles which give me a gauge of precisely 16 stitches per four inches, rather than the 18.5 stitches per four inches the pattern specifies, that would do it. I like this yarn at four stitches per inch; it’s not as loosey-goosey as that first sweater, and it’s not cramped and stiff like the two back panels on my first attempt at the crop cardi from KnitSimple.

Maybe, instead of ordering fat yarn for Fur Sure next payday like I had hoped, I will buy enough of the kettle-dyed from KnitPicks to knit up the crop cardi; they certainly have some lovely colors!

Bathtub is full, stomach is empty, and recycling needs to go out. I grabbed the packet of worksheets from that “how to decide what is best for your elderly loved one” class I took; I will give them to Fourthborn tonight. [And maybe she will have those numbers I need, in exchange?] I also need to give LittleBit a deposit slip so she can give me her share of the car insurance premium.

I finally printed up a sheet of return-address labels with the new address. And the directions for the Sunrise Circle Jacket. Dinner was the last salad from Sunday night’s dinner [I had made an extra, in case their son could come with them], and some of the oven-fried sweet potatoes that I don’t remember where I got them, and a whole package of frozen spinach with a nice blob of the wasabi ranch dressing.

My thoughts are skittering around like drops of water on a hot griddle, so I will post this and look up the heel flap from the International Sock of Doom [Sock Wars 2006]. I’m driving in partway today, because tonight is Knit Night. And I need some chick time.

Kristen, thank you for your comment yesterday on grief = lungs; in my case my lungs are especially vulnerable because my parents smoked for 40+ years. When I was so cranky and frustrated with the Near Date Experience because I could not get a word in edgewise [hard to believe, but nevertheless true], I got so angry that I gave myself bronchitis. Our last phone conversation, he was talking and talking, and I was coughing and coughing. Finally I gasped, “Hang on a minute” and put the receiver against my leg until I stopped coughing. Then I told him I would call him back in a couple of days, and that when we spoke again, I hoped that I could do at least half of the talking.

It is not natural for a man to talk as much as a woman. It’s just not right.

[Oh man, I am still angry about that four years later, because typing this set off a coughing jag!] He left me a voicemail the next day, saying that after our previous conversation he saw too many similarities with his ex-wife, and he didn’t think it was a good idea if we dated. I agree. He is a good man, with a good heart, and he needs and deserves to be listened to, which I was [mostly] happy to do. But so do I.

I am going to make myself a nice healthy smoothie, and then I am going to hop in the tub and unclench my chest before the water goes cold, or I perish like Mimi in La Bohème.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Monday Musings and a Boring Black Sock

Here are two links for those of you whose children, or parents, or siblings, or friends, are struggling because of the wickedness in the world. I read the first one at work the other day, and I had to blink back tears. Nevertheless, I found it wonderfully comforting to be able to place some of my own trials, and the experiences of our family as a whole, into a more eternal perspective. I know that the principles he states are true, and that the scriptures he cites will all be fulfilled.

When I contemplate the heavy burdens that each of my children is bearing, either because of her own errors or those of another, I could easily despair. But I know that all our sins, all our struggles, all our heartaches are covered by the Atonement, if we give our hearts to God and ask for His help.

Had my mid-year performance review with the office manager a couple of weeks ago and got some useful feedback. I am wonderful at juggling many things. [We knew that.] I could be better at prioritizing [ditto], and I am not so good at asking for help. [This is not exactly news to anyone who’s been reading my blog for awhile. I would rather die than ask for help. And sometimes have nearly done so.]

Interesting resource, on a different topic.

“Pining: Yeaning intensely and persistently for something unattainable.” [from the online class I took re: Overcoming the Loss of a Loved One. If I pined any more about some things, I would have roots and cones.]

Later in the class, there was a page about physical symptoms, including anxiety and the exacerbation of existing physical problems. And I suddenly realized that the reappearance of asthma in my life in fall 1998 was a reaction to the one-year anniversary of Mom’s death and to what would have been the 21st anniversary of my marriage.

I was taking two college classes in the evening, working toward my bachelors degree, and I could barely put one foot in front of the other. It was like walking through molasses. I had a speech class, and I could not project my voice beyond the foot of the stage. The teacher convinced me to see a doctor, and when the doctor did a pulmonary function test, the percentage of oxygen in my blood was so low that she immediately gave me a breathing treatment and a prescription for an inhaler. Looking back ten years later, I see that grief was manifesting in the only way that would get my attention.

I know this seems like a more random than usual collection of links and pondering. It’s all tied together in my head. I have said that the children’s father is not doing well. LittleBit came to dinner last night and told me that he was hospitalized briefly, yesterday, with blood sugar around 500. They pumped him full of insulin and got him stabilized and sent him home. Stabilized being a relative term, and relative being an intentional pun.

He is nearly blind and almost completely deaf, and he doesn’t remember to eat, and until yesterday who knows how long it had been since he had had any insulin, and he has to be reminded to bathe. They are starting to look for a nursing home for him. I took a class last week on how to choose one [I had a couple of hours when my desk was mysteriously, frustratingly clear, so I took an online course through the corporation’s website between phone calls.] I need to get those handouts to Fourthborn. I meant to give them to LittleBit last night but got distracted.

In a moment of inspired pessimism, I measured the two sections on the Chelsea Silk cardi and realized that my gauge had tightened up significantly from what I got on the swatch. I need to find my 5’s and 6’s. Saturday’s knitting is frogged and waiting for me. I grabbed a ball of the black yarn leftover from LittleBit’s hoodie and my size 2 DP’s and took them to church. I am winging a pair of basic boring black socks. If I run out of black before I run out of sock, I guess they will have purple heels and toes.

Hey Fourthborn, email me or text me with Fiancè’s measurement from heel to toe; he has a birthday at the end of this month, and I might just have been smacked upside the head by the Inspiration Fairy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

[Impending] Mergers, and Acquisitions

Yesterday I did really well at Town Talk. A dozen one-liter aseptic boxes of soup. Whole-grain flatbread. Several kinds of cheese. More of the Aunt Jemima frozen French toast, which is far from gourmet but is cheap, fast, and easy. [Unlike me.] A bottle of mango lemonade. A big bag of English muffins, which I inspected carefully for mold.

I also did well at Home Depot. I bought a roller with extension handle and a disposable paint tray and one of those pour collars that fits a gallon can and has a little bar that you can scrape the brush against. I didn’t buy the paint for the other three walls in my room. Maybe next weekend, but more likely two weeks from now when I get the Really Good Paycheck.

I went back to the Container Store and bought two more canvas drawers to slip into my shoe organizer. And I think next payday I will buy another organizer and roll up the rest of my good T-shirts. We’ll see. That closet is small. I had the idea of getting lucite boxes in a rainbow of colors, for the middle sections of the over-the-door CD organizer that hangs on that door, and dropping my earrings, necklaces, etc., in there by color. I measured the available space [5”W x 6”D x 8”H] and found several boxes that would almost do but are not quite what I’m looking for. I’ll know it when I see it. And if all else fails, I can make felted bowls or fabric-covered boxes. I want something that is a nice treat for the eyes when I open that door.

Got a quick call from Secondborn yesterday, asking if I could come to church with them today and help her wrangle the Bitties during sacrament meeting. Hubby is off camping with the Scouts for the better part of a week. I am so glad that she asked! Saturday is my day to get things done, and while I was briefly in their vicinity yesterday, it was close enough to the time that I needed to leave for Arlington to get my nails done, that I didn’t stop by. [Or even call. Sigh.]

So today I get to go make myself useful and see three of the people I love and that, as they say, is a Good Thing. And then I’ll come home for a couple of hours and putter, and head off to my own ward for a three-hour block of meetings, plus getting set apart for my new calling. Tonight some dear friends are coming over for a simple meal and good conversation.

I have been working on the Chelsea Silk cardi. The small pink markers are for the garter-stitch vents, and the larger pink markers indicate the right side of the fabric. Just completed my first decrease row and have six more rows to work before I join the two halves of the back [forming the vent] and start galloping up to the underarms.



Though once I get the back joined together, I may pause and cast on both fronts and bring them to this point. I did something mildly tricky the first couple of rows on these back segments, and I’m not sure that I’ll remember to repeat it on the fronts, if I wait until the back is done. [Middle age is like that, even with minutely detailed notes on Ravelry.]

It was lovely and relatively cool yesterday. Rumor has it that we’ll have more of the same today. Can I get a “woohoo”? I’m off to run the tub and start getting ready for church.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Swatchapalooza

I’m learning a lot. I like the WOTA Bulky and the regular WOTA much, *much* better than Cascade 220. They are smooth, soft and non-kinking, at least in my limited experience. I don’t have to drop my project and let the yarn untwist. I like that.

Both seem a bit loosely spun for what I want to accomplish. I want a jacket that will look good now and look good twenty years from now; i.e., no pilling. I don’t enjoy shaving my own armpits. I sure don’t want to have to shave or trim the armscyes of what I hope will be an elegant but durable jacket.

Would a Chanel jacket or sweater pill at the underarm? I don’t think so!



This is the braided cable from Fur Sure, knitted up yesterday in three strands of WOTA on Addi Lace US size 10.75 [7.0mm] needles. As I said, I love this yarn. I'm not liking how visible those three strands that make up each stitch are. If I were felting, they would meld together. But for this jacket, I want a seamless quality. More on that, later.

Had an interesting discussion with one of the legal secretaries yesterday afternoon. She sat for a moment in the break room and watched me swatch these three strands of WOTA. What was I doing, why was I doing it, what would I do when I was done? I told her about the $300 yarn, and she flapped her eyebrows at me. “Why would you not just buy the yarn and make the sweater?”

“Because I want to get out of debt.”

“Why not get out of debt wearing a beautiful $300 sweater that you had made yourself? You deserve it. Your kids are grown and gone. Why not just buy the yarn and be done with it?”

I grinned and told her, “I deserve a lot of things that I don’t have. A righteous worthy spouse, for one thing.” And then I said that I was seriously thinking about spinning the yarn myself, which totally floored her. At that point one of our attorneys breezed by and said, “Yeah, but if you spin it, there’s that whole pricking your finger on the spindle thing, and then where would you be?”

I cracked up. “Maybe then I could get a kiss!”

But would I want to marry a guy who goes around kissing comatose women? That just seems creepy to me.

OK, back to the topic of swatches. I knitted several in the WOTA Bulky on Thursday, all frogged. As follows: One strand on Addi Natura US size 10.75 [7.0mm] needles. Easy to knit, and a little too “airy” for a good jacket, particularly one with a real fur collar. Plus, the cables were limp and flat.

Two strands on Addi Natura US size 10.75 [7.0mm] needles. Hard to knit, especially when cabling without a cable needle. But the appearance of the cables was more like those in the picture in my book. Though wrangling these two strands emphasized how loosely spun and loosely plied the WOTA Bulky is. I think I understand why; they are going for loftiness without weight. And it felt great, running through my fingers as a single strand. But the same qualities that make it superb for felting lead me to believe that this would pill like crazy.

Two strands on Addi Natura US size 13 [9.0mm] needles. I knew this would be nowhere near gauge. I just wanted to see what the fabric looked and felt like. Looked great and felt wonderful.

One strand of WOTA Bulky and one strand of WOTA on Addi Natura US size 10.75 [mm] needles. In two different colors. I tried to ignore the tweed effect, because I was going for gauge, but it was absolutely crazy-making and immediately frogged.

I did look on WEBS, and the Baby is on clearance, half-price. But on examination, it seems very loosely spun. A $150 sweater that pills would not make me only half as livid as a $300 sweater that pills. So, I’m contemplating pencil rovings, either knitted lopi-style with single or multiple strands, or spun and plied. I’m wondering if I would like them Navajo plied? I’ve never tried that before.

I really, really, REALLY do not want to drop this sweater off my queue.

I blame spinning. How hard is it to make a yarn that has softness *and* volume *and* structural integrity? [All the spinners out there have fallen off their chairs and are snickering helplessly.] Basically, what I want is a bushel or two of Micki’s handspun sock yarn, super-sized. And probably Navajo plied.

What I do have is a few precious skeins of vintage handspun, dating back to the late 1980’s. All I can tell you for sure is that it is spun from “Welsh pencil roving”, and I *think* it was from Jacobs wool, because I could buy it in “cheeses” of white, light grey, or dark grey. Not suitable for right next to the skin, but I can play with it and get an idea of gauge.

I sat down this morning with my size 4 needles and the Chelsea Silk. I knew that they were too small for a plain stockinette fabric, but I wanted to see how much too tight the fabric would be. I got 4.5 stitches per inch, which told me that size 5 needles would probably give me gauge, which is 4.25 stitches per inch, or 17 stitches per 4 inches. So I worked a garter stitch ridge and changed to my K2P2 broken rib, which is like seed stitch on steroids. I like to work three rows of K2P2 ribbing and then reverse the ribs for another three rows. It gives me fabric with a good hand that is visually interesting and lies flat. And this swatch [all three that I took were blurry, sorry] has the added virtue of working up on needles I can put my hands on. My 5’s and 6’s are still packed somewhere.

So, I am thinking of casting on one of the backs with some of the contrasting silk and carrying it up the garter-stitch vent, then casting on the other back with a different contrasting silk. Later, I’d cast on the fronts with silk to match the adjoining backs and run that up the garter-stitch bands in front. Maybe get a little Fibonacci action going, in memory of the frogged sweater. And if I decided to insert intarsia squares or rectangles into the body of the sweater, I’d have that K2P2 framework for them. That could be a lot of fun!

I don’t think any painting is going to get done this weekend.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Still Swatching, After All These Years

Yesterday I swatched ~ a lot ~ and frogged it all. Ergo, no pictures. Today I am swatching again. Love the WOTA and WOTA Bulky, as yarns. Not necessarily loving them for the proposed project.

Now I’m contemplating pencil rovings, either knitted lopi-style with single or multiple strands, or spun and plied. [I’m wondering if I would like them Navajo plied? I’ve never tried that before.] I still have a few precious skeins spun up from pencil roving which I spun up twenty years ago. I’ll swatch them this weekend.

Posting from work, so nobody calls the paramedics. More at my usual novella length, either tonight or over the weekend. Thinking seriously about painting the other three walls in my bedroom, but I may just curl up with my knitting until the urge passes.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Finito!

Juno Regina is finished. [And I am nearly so!] I got a crazier than usual case of finish-itis last night and bound her off about 10:30. She’s marked 100% on Ravelry, but I won’t change the classification to “finished” until she is blocked.

This is where I was when I went to work yesterday morning.



And this is where I was when I went to bed last night.



I celebrated with a small bag of popcorn and the first few chapters of “The Friday Night Knitting Club”. The book my best friend sent me was waiting in the mailbox when I got home last night. I am taking it to work, to read while inhaling my lunch today.

Next on the needles? Swatching Fur Sure with the WOTA and WOTA Bulky. This is the best photo I know how to take of the picture in the book.



I won’t be ordering the yarn before the big paycheck on the 29th. Once I have the calculations done for my KnitPicks order, I’ll start swatching for the Chelsea Silk cardi. I need a large-gauge project to rest my weary fingers.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Objéts trouvés, philosophy, and *stuff*

As has been documented exhaustively here on the blog, I am slowly, gently, and thoughtfully dealing with *stuff*. Some of which I have been lugging around for twenty years. Unclutterer.com is helpful; it keeps me focused and frequently makes me laugh. Every so often they have a column that has links to articles and posts from one year before. On Sunday I found a link to this article.

I strongly recommend that my girls read it; it may help them understand their parents a little better. According to the article, there may be a genetic component. [I think the only thing that keeps your Aunt J from being a packrat like her brothers is the fact that she is a nun and has taken a vow of poverty. She can’t accumulate *stuff* because she has renounced *stuff*, and she is a woman of her word.]

I have *stuff* because I am relentlessly prolific, and I cycle through my interests on a fairly regular basis. It would make no sense to get rid of my cross stitch supplies simply because knitting is what interests me at the moment. I am thankful not to have pitched out my leftover yarn during one move or another, because soon I will have a turquoise tweed cardi that I am guaranteed not to see the like of, because they’re not making that yarn anymore. I am not buying oodles and oodles of new yarn, because I have a decent stash. I’m sure that the boardrooms of America are not pleased with me for weaning myself, at least somewhat, from rampant consumerism as a substitute for love. I maintain that my life is happier and more peaceful than it used to be.

While I was rooting around for that last ball of Chelsea Silk, I found the bag that contains the remnant of tablecloth which I am using to embellish that denim duster I showed you a few months ago. One of these days [fairly soon, as opposed to six months from now], I will sit down one evening and baste a lace overlay onto that second lapel. And once it is in place, I can haul out my silk ribbon embroidery books and my collections of silk ribbons and perle cotton and beads, and finish the job properly. It will make a nice change from all this knitting, but I do not think it will head me off on a new tangent. I think one embellished denim duster is all that anybody needs, unless they sing in Nashville.

“Sing in Nashville” is not on my bucket list.

It was so nice to wake up this morning, only a little ahead of my alarm, and swing my feet out of the bed and not have to maneuver around the bench. I thought all day yesterday that I had neglected to pick up the bag of screws and set-screws that holds the bench together, when I loaded up the car in the morning. But when I unloaded at Firstborn’s house last night, there was the bag! So I do not get to use the nifty blog title “A Screw Loose and a Dollar Short”, at least not immediately.

I also got Brother Sushi’s mascarpone delivered to him before Knit Night, and a couple of hugs, and then I was happily awake and knitting away until about a quarter to nine.

I have four or five rows to go before the decreases begin. Jeri brought an unbroken skein of Wool Of The Andes Bulky and regular WOTA to work with me, in case I run out of the Gloss Lace before I run out of pattern. I either just will or just won’t need to break into that third skein. I am hoping to put it, intact, into the mail on Saturday; another member of Ravelry needs one in this dye lot for her project. I would show you pictures of all this glory, but my camera informs me that we need to recharge the batteries. So, maybe tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It’s 6:00am; do you know what your mother is doing?

This mama has been busy for an hour and a half. The bench is disassembled and in the back seat, ready to take to Firstborn’s tonight, either before or after Knit Night.

The recycling is out to the curb. The garbage is by the door, ready to go out to the curb.

The bathtub is filling full and waiting for me.

My bags are packed for work and Knit Night. In the knitting bag I have Juno Regina, where I am midway through pattern motif #6. And several sizes of larger needles, to play with multiple strands of Wool of the Andes which one of my friends is bringing. And a ball of the Chelsea Silk to pass around.

I’m going to noodle around until I replicate the grist of the yarn that “Fur Sure” requires. Because I can neither afford nor justify paying over $300 for Baby, even if it comes in the most glorious shade of red. And if the experiment is successful, I will order vast quantities of the new kettle-dyed WOTA and whip up the jacket that I have been coveting for a couple of years now, the one that will feature the vintage opossum fur collar [most likely older than I am, from the style and the condition of the lining].

I have mascarpone cheese in the fridge. And more of it to take to Brother Sushi, likewise before or after Knit Night. I am driving in today, because I will be such a busy bee after work.

Had a great dinner and visit with LittleBit last night.

No pictures today; there is mincemeat pie in the fridge, and I am hungry. So I'm going to spend that time savoring a slice of pie.

The clothing organization project appears to be working. And I hung up all the clothes that have mysteriously leaped out of my closet and onto various pieces of furniture. I have no idea how that happens!

Happy Tuesday, everybody. Pick up those sticks and knit like you mean it!

Monday, August 11, 2008

500th Post?!?!!

I finished the “pinstriping” section of Juno Regina at 7:00 last night. Celebrated with a bowl of granola and craisins. Then grabbed the blue tape and protected the molding and pushed all the furniture and the handful of remaining boxes over against the bed.

Here’s your “before” shot:



And here’s “after”:



I finished washing the brushes out a little past 11:00. Yes. I painted this whole wall with a 2” brush, except for the part behind the door that’s just out of view to my right. I used a 1” brush for that. By the time I realized that I was in way over my head, I was already committed. [And yes, probably ought to be. And no, I am not using that 2” brush to paint the other three walls.]

I will probably regret this about 3:15 this afternoon. And I hope that I do not fall asleep with my nose in my dinner tonight. LittleBit called me with her work schedule this week, and this is the best night for us to get together and eat too much and catch up.

Remind me to show her my brand new bicep. [I did switch off to my left hand occasionally, but my right hand did most of the work.] Assuming that I can lift my arm. I am also feeling my step-up, step-down muscles, but not quite as insistently.

I took those first two pictures last night before going to bed. Here’s another picture of the wall, minus the painters tape and with the furniture back in place. I love how those hat boxes look against a strawberry colored wall!



And here is the chair with my nun pillow and a vintage lace runner.



No idea why pictures taken seconds apart should show the wall color so differently. It’s neither as orange as the hatbox picture, nor as pink as this one.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

To Frog or Not to Frog: That *Was* The Question -- Vintage Turquoise Chelsea Silk Sweater with Fibonacci Sleeves



This is a sweater that I knitted on spec about 20 years ago, when I was knitting custom sweaters by hand, in an average of six days, for $100 plus the cost of the yarn. [My grandmother used to quilt other people’s quilt tops for a dollar per spool of thread she used, way way back in the day.] It’s been following me through all the moves and vicissitudes, ever since. It was too large at the time for me to convert to personal use. It is now, alas, just barely too small. And I've never been satisfied with the shoulders.

I knit this at 3.5 stitches per inch on size 7 needles. The stripes are various silk or silk/wool blends by Berroco and Crystal Palace. The main yarn is the discontinued Tahki Chelsea Silk, bought for the then-obscene amount of $10.50 per skein. Most of what I see on Ravelry is in 50g balls, but they note that it was also available in 100g skeins, which is what I had.



I thought it might do nicely as either the green or the blue cropped cardi in the Fall 2008 KnitSimple. [The ones with the garter-stitch vent at the hem in back.] So last night I frogged it. I harvested approximately 384.0 grams of turquoise, and this morning I dug through five bins and four boxes until I found the last partial ball of it, for another 58.2 grams.



This gives me a total of 442.2 grams. I either just-will or just-won’t have enough to do this. I haven’t weighed the bits and bobs that made up the stripes. I probably ought to do that.

I want a slightly tighter fabric than I made with the first sweater. I like Chelsea Silk at 3.5 stitches/inch for plain knitting, because it drapes so nicely. Some of my friends were knitting it at the time around 5 stitches/inch, for ganseys, but I thought that negated the natural fluidity of the yarn, and why not just knit with a wool tweed if you were going to hogtie the yarn like that?

Opinionated knitter? You bet!

The cardis are meant to be knitted up at 17 stitches4 inches/10 cm with a bulky yarn. Chelsea Silk is considered Aran weight. [A lighter weight, for you knitting muggles out there.] I *think* I want to aim for 16 stitches. And yes, I’m going to try it at 14 and 15. Once I know the grist I want, I can crunch the numbers to see what size to make.

I’m thinking of using the contrasting colors to cast on, knit the back vents and the front garter stitch bands, and maybe insert random intarsia garter stitch squares. Or I may just take the easy way out and knit new Fibonacci sleeves. Or some combination of all the above.

I think this is going to be fun!

And I think that I may have solved the challenge of getting myself dressed and out the door in the morning. Behold! Top:



Middle:



And bottom:



I went to the Container Store yesterday to get a step-stool that met my exacting standards for ease of use and weight-rating. The one that I got will hold 150kg, way more than I would need even if Zeus flew by on swan wings and left me pregnant with quintuplets. The shoe organizer is on sale for $9.99. The canvas drawers are on sale two for $2.99. Six days of undies, nice T-shirts suitable for work with proper accessories, and five days of scarves. When my socks finish drying, I will add matching socks to the mix. [Yes, I’ve never quite gotten over that 80’s fad of matching your socks to your shirt. We couldn’t afford to match the Keds to the socks and the shirt; I did what I could.]

For $12.99 plus tax, I have quite possibly reduced the stress of getting ready for work. And hung six days’ worth of shirts in less space than they would have required on hangers. I’ll let you know how it goes. Yes, I could have grabbed another sweater organizer, and probably should have; they were also on sale. They are also at least twice as wide as the shoe organizer, and they cost half again as much, even on sale, and that closet is tiny. So they didn’t seem economical by either standard.

I think I will splurge on another set of drawers when the eagle screams on Friday. [For my children: from the phrase “squeezing a dollar so tight that the eagle screams”; i.e., payday and my Cirque du Soleil financial acrobatics to make one dollar do the work of five.] And maybe some of those cedar blocks. I think these drawers would make excellent homes for my hand-knitted socks.

Once I find them.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Aquí no es Lew Sterrett, tiene el número equivocado!

[Translation: This is not the jail. You have a wrong number.]

One of our internal phone numbers is a digit off from the number people call to check on warrants or to see if their loved one is in jail. I get several of those calls every day. And it’s easy to steer someone right if they’re speaking English. But if they are speaking Spanish, which no hablo and je ne comprends pas unless it’s filtered ~ s-l-o-w-l-y ~ through French, then Matamoros, we have a problem!

So I asked a couple of the legal secretaries to help me come up with a formula that fits on a sticky note, which is now laminated to my desk with scotch tape.

And every so often I mutter it to myself, just waiting for an opportunity to use it.

Change of subject. I love how almonds smell. I love it that, if I take the time to eat them one by one, unadorned by chocolate or candy shells, and chew them slowly and savor them, when I exhale, I smell almond oil. Or Jergens lotion. It’s such a happy smell.

Another change of subject. I could do this. I already have a hanging sweater organizer with six compartments. Or I could get one of the new bamboo hanging goodies at the Container Store and cross-stitch the days of the week and add them to each shelf. [Of course I have time to do that. I can use that hour that I’m not sleeping, right before the alarm goes off.] Or, the Container Store used to have plastic split rings, about the diameter of a large bagel, to fit over the clothes rod and separate jackets, skirts, blouses, etc. Just in case one needed a little verbal help to decide what should go where. I had the girls’ sizes marked on those rings when I only had two or three kids to share one closet. [I also painted dot-flowers on the front of my two chests-of-drawers. Half a flower for size 6 mos, one flower for 12 mos, a flower and a half for 18 mos, etc. All the way up to 6x, which was an array of six blossoms and a bud. But I digress.]

It might be helpful to have the week’s clothing, with accessories and undies, tucked into cubbies like this. I know that I do better on the mornings where I have gathered everything up the night before. I also wish I could pack a week’s worth of lunches on Sunday and stack them in the fridge and they would stay fresh.

On the other hand, where’s the room for serendipity? What if on Sunday night I decided that Wednesday was a purple day, and when I got to Wednesday it felt more like a chartreuse day? And some of my best-nourished days are those when I start grabbing things as I ask myself, what do I need to eat today?

Speaking of food. Dinner last night with Brother Sushi was great, as always. The raves I had heard about Massey’s were justified. I would have to sit down with a plate from each restaurant, side by side, to be able to tell you if the chicken fried steak from Star Cafe is still my favorite. The potatoes are better at Massey’s. We got slices of coconut meringue pie to take home, because Mary, there was no room at the inn. I had coconut pie for breakfast this morning. With coconut sprinkled on top of the meringue. Heavenly.

I will go back. I want to try their meatloaf, to see if I like it as well as my own. Which reminds me that I want to make some in this glorious new oven, to see if meatloaf is as much improved by cooking with gas, as my brownies are.

What’s on the agenda today? Knitting, first and foremost. I am planning to spend a lot of happy time in my room with sticks and string. I made a quick trip to the laundromat, to finish what I started earlier this week. I had only sufficient energy the other night to wash unmentionables. This time I washed socks and jeans and T-shirts and the like. I wanted to be done with that before it starts getting warm. It was 77°F at 7:00am. It’s 92°F at 12:30pm. And it’s supposed to “only” hit 99°F today. [A regular cold front! Whatever shall we do?]

Next, I think, will be a quick dash over to the la-di-dah nursery to see if they have any Roma tomatoes left from their shipment earlier this week, and to see if they have any leek starts or whatever you call them. Leeklets? I would love to try growing my own.

Because sometime between now and February, it will stop being a hundred bajillion degrees outside, and I will want to make leek and potato soup, and I will not want to pay $3.99 for a bundle of leeks when you only use the bottom third anyway. At least now I have a compost pile for the tough upper leaves, so none of it will go to waste. You think my compost pile is stinky now?

And then I will probably be in the right frame of mind to wash that wall in my room and knit while it dries and then do a little painting. I may pick up some paint chips for the loo while I’m out today. I won’t tackle that paint job until my room is finished, but it would be good to contemplate colors for awhile.

Next Friday is payday. I might buy the paint for the other three walls in my room and do one wall a weekend for the next month. It is going to be something of a pain to empty my bookcases and move them out of the way, but I think I want to get that wall done first. Moving the bed, once the bookcases are back in place, should be much less hassle. And while the bed is away from the walls, I can get the headboard reattached. [Even though I sleep with my head at the foot of the bed, because that is the only place I can plug in my CPAP.] I just think a bed looks more like a bed, and less like a nest, if there is a headboard.

After dinner last night, Brother Sushi used his superior upper-body strength and hoisted my tomatoes onto the T-bar in the back yard. I wonder if they were confused to wake up this morning and see grass instead of sky?



Here they are, taking a nice nap in the shade before I went to the laundromat. They’re sunbathing now.

I just enjoyed a bowl of fresh hash browns. Still getting the hang of the stovetop and the cast iron skillet. These were almost perfect, and I got the fleur de sel about right, too. I think I am sufficiently fortified to go back out in that heat and tackle Home Depot and the nursery.

Tune in tomorrow for a wee surprise.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Tan [and Others] Make Good Points

Correct [As Usual], Queen Sarah Saturday(s)! Yes, my shoes do look lovely now that they have had some professional help. Thank you for reminding me of that. [I am all for professional help!]

But now they look like the other pair I bought on eBay a couple of months ago. They used to look like tomato red suede. Now they look like cordovan leather. I no longer have two distinctly different pairs of red shoes. And I have the distinct possibility of wearing mismatched shoes to work, if I’m not very, very careful. Turning two pairs of shoes into four pairs of shoes, while interesting mathematically, is not the sort of fashion statement to which I aspire.



And they’re still not rubby. I am a tactile wench. I need visual texture and literal texture. Like Stevie [Nicks, not Wonder] sings, leather and lace.

I think I will take Middlest’s also-excellent advice and raise an O’Doul’s in their honor. Or maybe just make some near-beer bread; the few remaining cans that I have are long past their freshness code. Or I could do a near-beer-can chicken. There is something both touching and hilarious about a chicken sitting up in the oven with a can where a proctologist would go.

Two-plus inches of knitting bliss on Juno Regina yesterday. The tension builds!



I worked from just above the penultimate marker, to where you see. So glad that I have the train for knitting, and my breaks at work. One of the things that I need to do this weekend, is to figure out what next week’s train knitting is going to be. Because I think I’m going to hit this one out of the ballpark and retire it to sitting on the bed with no distractions please knitting, fairly soon.

Dinner with the Sushi man tonight, possibly involving chicken fried steak. I forgot to call the restaurant to see if we need reservations. Bad Ravelled, no biscuit [with cream gravy].

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Jelly Man Kelly

This might bring back some happy memories for my girls. I saw the YouTube on Kristen’s blog. I bought the cassette Sesame Street in Harmony when they were little, and wore it out. A few years ago, I picked it up again on CD. It’s 3” out of reach of my left hand, on top of the bookcase to the left of my computer, as I type.

Some knitting progress. The white marker is the halfway point on Juno Regina. The pink markers denote ten eyelet repeats. So I’m maybe two-thirds done with the “pinstriping” section.



The shoe dude was in my building yesterday. He did a much better job of cleaning my red suede shoes than I did. He conditioned them and buffed them, and they are beautiful. And only charged me $10, twice the normal rate, for the amount of labor involved; fair enough. A few more months of useful life, way cheaper than a new pair.



But they are no longer matte, and to me that is the quintessential quality of suedishness. They are no longer, as Fourthborn would have said when she was two or three, rubby.

I am a little sad and a little frustrated.

On the other hand, I came home from work last night and had a bowl of Technicolor potatoes, and they were superb! I sprinkled a little fleur de sel de Camargue [French sea salt] on them; that’s all they needed.

I managed to catch the early train home last night. What did I do with that extra half hour? I got out my putty knife and spackled the bedroom wall. I also brought home a sheaf of newspapers from work, to strew on top of the drop cloths when I reach that point. Won’t be tonight; I have a field trip with my genealogy class. Won’t be tomorrow night; that’s the monthly dinner with Brother Sushi.

We have provisionally agreed to try out the chicken fried steak restaurant that’s near my new chapel. I think it was Angeluna who said it was quite tasty. Trainman was going to try it after work on Monday. Maybe tonight I’ll catch the same train, and he can tell me all about it, and I can tell him how much I enjoyed his suggestion about the potatoes.

I think I’m going to listen to a little JT while the tub fills this morning. “And maybe someday, yeah, you and me, we can have tea with him.” [Chamomile, of course. Just like all the bunnies in Mr. MacGregor’s garden.]