December 31, 2003

Grown-Up Snow Day!!!!

A belated notice that I won't be posting today. By way of explanation, here is a comment The Mysterious K posted under the last entry:

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"Happy New Year. everyone!

As some of you may know, it snowed in Seattle last night--which means utter chaos on the roads. Too many people who think "4-wheel drive" means "drive as fast you can on ice, down hills..." So the short story--Ryan did not make it to work since she couldn't get out of her driveway! This means no blog today! :-(

Weather permitting, there will be a posting on Friday! :-) "

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And why do I need to post from work, you ask? Because I don't have a browser connection on my PC at home, which leaves me with TMK's Mac to post from, and for some really strange reason, Movable Type doesn't like to post pictures from Macs. Too weird.

Sister, you can stop pushing "refresh" now. Wink, wink!

Posted by Ryan at 02:39 PM | Comments (0)

December 29, 2003

Partner Pestering 101

Had a lovely Christmas holiday with The Mysterious K, especially since, as we opened presents, we discovered that a “Gift of the Magi” moment had occurred. Come to find out we had each gone to A Place We Dreaded to purchase that Something Special for the other. A couple of weeks before Christmas you would have found me in the Sears hardware department, blurting out the three words I had been practicing for weeks: Electric. Nail. Gun. And you would have found TMK at my LYS blurting out the five words she had been practicing for weeks: Barbara. Walker. Treasury. Knitting. Stitches. Poor TMK remained atwitter for a while because when the book arrived it said “Treasury of Knitting Patterns,” not “Stitches”—which is what I had erroneously told her was the name of the book—and she was convinced she had suffered through two, count 'em, two, traumatic trips to the LYS just to end up with the wrong book. But, of course, she did not, and I was a Very Happy Camper. I’m already using a pattern in the book for the Catalina Sock.

TMK had a Butch Girl’s Dream Christmas, receiving, as she did, a nail gun (see “Gift of the Magi” above), a router, and a woodworking book. And now I know a little bit about what it’s like to be the partner of someone who has a new, exciting hobby. From me, she gets pestered with lines like these:

“Look at this yarn.”
“Look at this book.”
“Look at this pattern.”
“Look at the yarn on the needle.”
“Look at the first inch of the swatch.”
“Look at the first two inches of the swatch.”
“Look at the first three inches of the swatch.”
“Watch me frog the swatch.”
“Look at the first inch of The Real Thing.”
“Look at the first two inches of The Real Thing.”
“Look at the first three inches of The Real Thing.”
“Feel sorry for me. I have to frog The Real Thing.”
“Look at the first inch of The Real Thing being knit for the second time.”
"Feel sorry for me. I have to frog The Real Thing again."
"Look at the first inch of The Real Thing being knit for the third time."
And so on.

This weekend, in return, I got:

“Look at this book.”
“Look at this pattern.”
“Look at this other pattern.”
“Look at these router bits.”
“Look at these clamps.”
“Look at me put the router and router bits in my router bag.”
“Look at the scrap wood I nailed together with the nail gun.”
“Look at this pattern. It’s the one I’m going to do first.”
“Look at this pattern. It’s really the one I’m going to do first.”
“Look at this pattern. It’s reallyreally the one I’m going to do first.”
“Look at this wood I bought for the project.”
“Look at me draft the pattern on the computer."
“Look at this second version of the pattern on the computer.”
“Look at this third version of the pattern.”
“Look at the printout of the pattern.”
“Look at the cutout from the printout of the pattern.”
“Look at the holes I cut in the printout of the pattern.”
“Look at how I used the pattern to draw on the wood.”

And, on Sunday, after I had gone home, the final phone call: “I cut the wood out using the pattern!”

Ya’ just want to pinch her cheeks! Of course, it doesn't hurt that what she's making is a book holder for my cookbooks...

Knitting Knews
Finally, a successful two-color stranded knitting project! Sure, it’s only three inches long but, hey, at this point, I’ll take what I can get. This was a Christmas ornament I made for TMK based on this pattern. I used some green Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, some red of the same, some cobalt blue Froehlich Wolle Special Blauband, size 2 dpns, and a tiny brass bell button. This project took a coupla hours to do and was loads of fun!

tinysock.jpg

Posted by Ryan at 09:34 AM | Comments (11)

December 19, 2003

Kooky Kristmas Krafts

No entries next week. Time for me to take a holiday break and try to knit up something more interesting than self-striping, excruciatingly matched socks!

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(What I Learned on the Way to Work This Morning: Nothing smells up your car faster and better than two dozen deviled eggs. Exhaust fumes and sulfur—yum!)

By way of Kooky Kristmas Krafts, here be two unusual ornaments and a knitting project.

First, the infamous tampon angel which, rumor has it, has often been seen hovering over the equally infamous TamponHenge, quite distracting the TamponDruids. Anne Brannen of Creating Text(iles) sent this gem to me months ago and has been very patient about my insistence that I couldn’t post it until the holidays!

Second, the Clothing Optional Angel Ornament. I purchased this brassy and immodest darling at a store called Fireworks which sells unconventional handcrafted items, and sent it to my brother, who would have appreciated this sort of thing, for Christmas one year. When he passed away, it was returned to me. It is Extremely Special, so it is always a Big Moment when it comes time to hang her on the tree. It's always a crapshoot whether I’m going to laugh, cry, or get moodily silent when I pull her out of the ornament box but laughing usually wins over. How can it not, when you are holding in your hands an anatomically-correct cross between a zaftig stripper and Glenda the Good Witch, with a dash of Rapunzel and prima ballerina thrown in for good measure? Don’t miss the halo or the wand with its higgledy-piggledy sparkling stars!

Taking a photo of this ornament was a hoot. As you can see in the “full frontal” picture, we had to tape her leg to the kitchen counter to make her stand up. Then things at the R & K Photography Studio completely came a cropper when it came time to photograph her Rubenesque derriere. Lordy, how we were laughing!

angel1.jpg

angel2.jpg

Lastly, here is a great knitting project I stumbled across yesterday, a Santa hat. Could it be that chenille has finally found its true calling?

Knitting Knews
As promised, a report on the Guild Christmas party.

Both Mary and Janine approved heartily of the tofu chocolate pie, although Mary refuses to believe there IS any tofu in the pie. Again, the recipe. See, Mary? Chocolate chips, honey, vanilla, Kahlua, and One Entire Box of Silken
Tofu. T-o-f-u. Tuh-oh-foo. Tofu.

This was my first Christmas party at the Guild and it was quite lovely. I make a point of not participating in “white elephant” gift exchanges because I hate to watch people be disappointed by imbecilic gag gifts, and I made no exception for Guild. However, to the last, every gift that was exchanged Wednesday night was creative and thoughtful. Beautiful or fanciful needles, yarns, votive candle holders, candles, buttons, and books abounded. Next year perhaps I will have to leave my more-Scroogeish side at the door and participate.

The other half of the evening’s events was the distribution of door prizes. I don’t have good door-prize “karma” so I didn’t pay much attention as the numbers were being called out. I just kept knitting away on my Opal socks, hoping the next stripe was the one that wouldn’t match (so far, no luck). As expected, my number wasn’t called. To everyone’s surprise, however, after the gifts and door prizes had all been distributed, the “emcee,” the Guild president, announced she had one more, extra-special door prize. Eerily, a little voice inside my head said, “Pay attention! They’re going to call your number!” and, sure 'nuff! I am now the proud owner of a $50 gift certificate to Churchmouse , an LYS or, more accurately, a YSLOAISYNTTAFTGTSIABQTA (Yarn Shop Located On An Island So You Need To Take A Ferry To Get There So It All Becomes Quite The Adventure). Coincidentally, a week before the Christmas party, I had loudly declared to The Mysterious K that I wanted to go to Churchmouse for my birthday, never having been there and having heard only good things about it. Apparently, the gods approved of my plan and sent a gift certificate winging my way. (Of course, it's also highly possible that there wasn't anything slightly hand-of-God-ish about this at all. It's quite likely they had called so many numbers already that mine was the only one left, but I'd like to think otherwise...)

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Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah to My Dear Readers Amber, Anne, Barb, Barbara, Bea, Bill, Blu, Bren, Calissa, CarolineF, Ced, Cheryl, Cindy, Cousin Sarah, Cousin Tom, Dale, Debra, Dot, Fran, Janet, Janine, Jean, Jenna, Justin, Kim, Kit, Lisa and Emily, Lubna, Maggi, Mary, Maus, Melinda, Melissa, Michelle, Mira, My Niece, My Sister, Myria, Opal, Pam, Perclexed, Prudence Fiddletwist, Rachael, Rebecca, Robbyn, Ruth, Sheila, Syliva, Tami, The Mysterious K, The Other Rebecca, Theresa, Tipper, Vaire, Vanessa, Wendy, and, of course, all My Lovely Lurkers!

Posted by Ryan at 10:42 AM

December 17, 2003

It's Aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!!!!!

I think The Mysterious K is starting to turn the corner. How do I know? Because she’s starting her dratted humming again.

The biggest difference between TMK and me is our overall approaches to life. I am the human equivalent of a Galapagos Tortoise. While I’m not evolutionarily unique, don’t live on a remote island, and am not in imminent danger of becoming extinct, I do move along at about 5 miles an hour, getting things done completely and correctly and thoroughly, but slowly. I rarely nap. I just plod methodically through my day, and when the day and my chores are done, I slowly climb into bed, read for an hour, and then slowly drift off to sleep. TMK on the other hand is always, as I describe it, “ either On or Off.” Her animal equivalent? I’m not sure, but certainly something twitchy and restless, a pygmy marmoset perhaps. From the minute she wakes up, she's on the go. She goes until she’s exhausted, takes naps at the drop of a hat to replenish her pygmy marmoset energy, then goes some more and, at the end of the day, climbs efficiently into bed and instantly falls asleep. One manifestation of this hyper personality is that she’s forever singing or humming. Now, don’t envision Belle in “Beauty and the Beast” joyously sweeping, swirling and trilling through the streets of her town. We're not talking a happy affirmation of the beauty of life here, more just a constant habit. TMK fixates on a song and sings or hums a segment of it…over and over and over again. While she had pneumonia—and was getting a taste of what it’s like to go through life as a non-humming Galapagos Tortoise—she was mercifully quiet. But last night, just as we started to wind down for the night, I heard it—the theme song from “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” Once. Then again. Then again. Then again. Yes, she’s feeling better.

In the knitting arena, just grinding away at the second Opal Brazil sock. Yep, stripes are still matching, one for one, darn it! Hopefully, over the Christmas holidays, I’ll be able to start some more-interesting projects but, by God, I'll be wearing a pair of finished Opal Brazil socks while I do it!

Knitting Guild Christmas party tonight; will report on Friday. For the potluck, TMK has graciously made for me one of these because, not only am I a Galapagos Tortoise that doesn't hum, I'm a Galapagos Tortoise that can't cook. Mary? Janine? If you're still out there, trust me, you want be at the head of the line for a slice of this pie. Don't let the tofu fool you; it's pure chocolate bliss. To tempt you, a picture of the real thing:

tofupie1.jpg

Posted by Ryan at 09:40 AM | Comments (10)

December 15, 2003

Who Invented this "In Sickness and in Health" Crap Anyway?

So many lovely get-well wishes for The Mysterious K! Thank you Lisa, Rachael, Fran, Vaire, and Robbyn! But I’m afraid your Long-Distance Woman-Powered Good Vibes don’t seem to be working. TMK now has pneumonia. This means her weekend was an unending barrage from me of “Why are you up?” “Aren’t you supposed to be resting?” “Didn’t the doctor say you were supposed to drink a lot of water?” “What do you mean you’ll float away if you drink more tea? Have some more anyway.” “Did you take your medicine?” “Did you take your cough syrup?” “Do you want more soup?” “Do you want more orange juice?” “Is it time for your nap?” “Why are you napping? Shouldn’t you get up for a while to clear your lungs?” and “Why are you giving me that look?” Trust me…she is seriously motivated to get better.

Despite this, on Saturday, I still managed to sneak out (sneak out? or was that a shove I felt in my behind?) to FiberRavenSoiree’s Seventh Soiree. I truly wish all my Dear Readers could experience get-togethers like these. Sheila has a large comfortable room furnished with large comfortable furniture that is ideal for hours of chatting, knitting, poring over books, going into that mesmerized “zone” as you watch someone spin, or just sitting back and unapologetically stuffing your face. You can always count on creative, beautiful projects for show-and-tell; zany ladies who live to see who can make who snort the most beverage out of their noses, the more carbonated the better, since that hurts the most; lip-smacking good food; and wonderful animal companionship, thanks to Jo-Jo and Ginger the cats, and Sherlock the poodle who, at first, tries to convince you he is the Almighty and Powerful Sharp-Toothed Defender of Hearth and Home but is really just a 10” tall, curly-haired, love-sponge. In fact, on Sheila’s site, along with more information about the Soiree, you can see a picture of the Almighty and Powerful Sharp-Toothed Defender of Hearth and Home sound asleep on The World’s Largest Sweater, which almost stayed behind on Sheila’s floor when I left because I was loathe to move him.

Knitting Knews

Thanks to TMK’s uncooperative lungs, and the need to get Christmas-y type chores done, there’s not much Knitting Knews.

Recently TMK was teasing me about the fact that I was starting to dip my toe in UnFinished Object Land, and she's right. For the first two years that I knit, I prided myself on never having a UFO. All projects either got finished or permanently frogged (or were labeled a “swatch,” which is always a great cop-out. Come on, now. You know you’ve done it…). But recently, the UFO’s have started to pile up, so this weekend I started the mate to this sock which I finished in June.

BrazilOpalSock.jpg

I have never understood the concept of making self-striping socks match perfectly so I make a point of not casting on from the same spot in the stripe pattern for the second sock. Somehow, however, despite my best efforts, these socks are matching each other stitch for stitch, stripe for stripe. Apparently I suck at being a knitting rebel.

I also swatched for the Catalina Sock. I’m using Fixation yarn in a color which I call “pea pink,” the step-brother to “pea green.” You know how “pea green” is green with just enough gray in it to not be truly green, and gray with just enough green in it to not be truly gray? Well, “pea pink” is pink with just enough purple in it to not be truly pink, and purple with enough pink in it to not be truly purple. The swatch tells me I need to go down a needle size for the rib. It also tells me I need to go up a needle size for the lace. And it tells me I might want to put a beaded seam down the back. I'm ready for this swatch to shut the hell up.

Posted by Ryan at 10:43 AM | Comments (12)

December 12, 2003

Around the Blogs in 80 Seconds

A quick tour of the interesting goings-on on other blogs.

First, and most important, a slightly belated (on my part) “reveal” of the Highly Secret Project and why it came into being. (Just when I start to think the Net’s only purpose is to give no-goodniks free access to our personal information, it becomes instrumental in quickly uniting 35 women from all over the country and the world to bolster someone in need. Gotta love that Net!)

Secondly, a little plug for Vaire Meondur’s new blog, The Innocent Abroad. Vaire is a Dear Reader who was instrumental in helping me wrap my head around the idea of thumb gussets. Her blog talks about knitting, ‘natch, but also about her impending move from Tallinn, Estonia, to Stockholm, Sweden, to be with her snugglebunny.

For something a little more macabre, don't miss the bowful of knitted leprosy bandages on Anne Brannen's blog, Creating Text(iles). Anne, a professor at Dusquesne University, spearheaded a campus-wide project to knit these bandages for a program sponsored by the Mormon church. Anyone else would have knit something like the Highly Secret Project but Anne, being Anne, had to go with leprosy bandages.

Robbyn has added an interesting twist to her blog, The Yarn Path. Every Wednesday, she makes a 90 degree turn and talks about something completely unrelated to knitting. Her “And Now For Something Completely Different” installments are quite fun and are something I’m starting to make a regular part of my Wednesday. So far she has talked about video games, coffee, scones, minerology, and celtic knots. (Robbyn—K and I had scones for breakfast Thanksgiving morning as a direct result of your scone entry. Think about it—you post an entry and all of a sudden people in Seattle are doing faceplants into plates of scones. It’s a good thing you weren’t touting something a little more, ahem, illegal.)

Robbyn also jumped on the Patternology bandwagon and proposed three new techniques for generating patterns: (1) assigning colors to rows and/or stitches of a familiar pattern like, as she suggested, Feather and Fan (see her blog for a better explanation than I'm giving); (2) basing a pattern on the stops, turns and straightaways of a trip from Point A to Point B; (3) or using Morse code. On the strength of her last suggestion, I looked up “morse code” on the Net and found this site which allows you translate any word or phrase into Morse, and hence into colors, and hence into a pattern! You could knit an entire short story, a love poem, a stream of obscenities, or even your grocery list into a sock! Spiffy ideas, Robbyn!

My latest contribution to Patternology is the idea of taking a photo of a skyscraper at night and basing the pattern on which lights were on and which were off. Okay, perhaps not quite as personal as your own DNA, but...

(Late Breaking News! In today's entry, Robbyn has pictures of swatches she knit based on some her Patternology ideas. Go! Visit! Marvel!)

Knitting Knews
Here is a picture of a lace swatch I worked on aaaaaaalllllll last weekend, and I mean allllllll last weekend and, for the longest time, got Absolutely Nowhere. As I mentioned in my last entry, I frogged the first few rows at least 15 times, no lie. (The weird diamond-shaped blob on the left is supposed to be there; it's not a boo-boo. If I had continued the swatch, the next repeat would have had the leaf on the left and the weird diamond-shaped blob on the right. And if I had made the actual stole, there would have been weird diamond-shaped blobs as far as the eye could see.)

LeafLaceLightJPG.JPG

First a little about the pattern. It’s a stole from the Second Book of Modern Lace Knitting called “La Traviata.” When I first saw the pattern, my heart went “kathumpkathumpkathump” so the pattern immediately became a “must swatch,” the bastard child of a “must knit.” It qualifies as only a “must swatch” because, on the short side of this stole, you cast on 234 stitches, enough to make someone who normally knits socks faint. Me, I cast on 58.

Secondly, yes, I know this pattern was obscenely easy which means the problem was me, all me. Drat, I say; drat!

Thirdly, here is what I learned:


  • Knitting lace can be a pretty straightforward process. It’s the frogging that’ll kill you. I spent more time undoing the damage I created by frogging than I spent fixing the original problem. Thanks to various online groups, I know about running “safety lines” horizontally through your lace but you have to have enough rows knitted to justify a safety line, like, oh, say, 4? Long about Sunday afternoon, what I wouldn’t have given to have had 4 rows.
  • No matter how much you wish otherwise, lace knitting in anything else besides laceweight yarn tends to look horsy. I knit this in the Zephyr first but changed to a fingering weight, Kool-Aid-dyed yarn from my stash after some major frogging sturm und drang. Despite the openness of the fabric, the piece still looks heavy although, by the time I was finished, it had started to develop a nice fluid drape.
  • Apparently, I can be very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very stubborn when it comes to knitting. (No comment, K.) Any sane beginning knitter (which I still consider myself) would have given up after the fourth or fifth go-round but, refusing to believe that I was unable to knit such an easy pattern, over the course of the weekend, I knit, frogged, got frustrated, gave up, wrapped some Christmas presents; knit, frogged, got frustrated, gave up, took a shower; knit, frogged, got frustrated, gave up, koochie-kooed and kitty-wittyed on the Pseudo-Adopted Cat; knit, frogged, got frustrated, gave up, called The Mysterious K to see how she and Flu Junior were doing...but I always returned to the swatch, more determined than ever. Yup, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very stubborn.
  • When you slip-as-if-to-purl the edge stitches, leave the yarn behind the needles until after you slip the stitch. I figured this out about an inch into the pattern.
  • Always, and I mean always, figure out if the number of stitches changes from row to row. So far this pattern has ranged in stitch number from 55 to 62 with nary a warning, neither in the intro to the book nor in the pattern itself. I can’t tell you how many times I knit and frogged row 5, always finding myself one effin’ stitch off, only to finally realize that it was supposed to be one effin' stitch off. D-oh! Thank God I had knit at least one other lace item with a varying number of stitches, or the light would never have come on and The Mysterious K would’ve had to have called the men in white coats.
  • Heads-down hard work and the production of gallons of sweat do not guarantee that a lace pattern will be interesting or even pretty. Long about row 31 I started to have a sinking feeling that I had frittered away a considerable number of hours on something that, in the long run, was going to prove to be as dull as dishwater. At row 47, my fears were confirmed. What I thought was going to be a delicate and symmetrical leaf motif ended up being more a misshapen blob which vears off weirdly at the end and has an ugly, heavy, decidedly unlacelike k3tog border on the top half of one side. Sigh.

On the positive side, one of the ideas that has been floating around in my head for a long time is a sock called “The Catalina Sock” which I envisioned as being a short Cascade Fixation sock knit in an extremely airy and open lace pattern, suitable for wearing in hot, California-like weather. Perhaps the “holey” part of this pattern would be just the ticket. Something to think about…

Posted by Ryan at 08:45 AM

December 10, 2003

Patternology: An Emerging Science

Please send some germ-battling thoughts K’s way since Flu Junior seems to be getting the better of her. The big styrofoam container of chicken teriyaki and rice I brought her last night proved not to be the cure-all I thought it would be. And Miss Frankie sprained her little doggie elbow. Naturally, she, too, asked for a big styrofoam container of chicken teriyaki and rice but was fated to be sorely disappointed.

On a brighter note, despite feeling under the weather, K still took some time yesterday to make a beautiful new "Mossy Cottage" banner which combines knitting and dye garden images. We are still "tweaking" it but I am a very happy camper! Thank you, K!!

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The absence of photos today, thanks again to the dratted Flu Junior, gives me the perfect opportunity to talk about a fascinating concept I’ve stumbled across lately: Knitting patterns generated or inspired by an unusual non-knitting-related source. A fantastic example can be found on FiberRavenSoiree where Sheila has posted a picture of a knitting pattern she developed based on a Bach composition (scroll to the bottom of her entry).

Some other unique "automatic pattern generators" I've encountered:


  • DNA: One of the commenters on Sheila’s site, Maus of the Knits 'n' Things blog, floated the idea of basing a pattern on DNA strands, not just the DNA helix, which has been “done,” but DNA strands like this. (I assume that's what you meant, Maus?) You can't get any more unique or original than a sock or sweater patterned after your own DNA!

    As I was looking for online images of DNA to illustrate Maus's point, I came across this site. The animated bar shows a representation of DNA which, according to the site, “is derived from your unique DNA code which varies the colors and length of the bars.” This would translate perfectly into a knitting pattern, n'est-ca pas?

  • Social Security Numbers: The Social Security Sock pattern, designed by Sandy Kazmer, uses your Social Security number to determine the color, order and thickness of the stripes you knit.
  • Fractals: On another blog I found a link to a site of a woman who knits patterns based on fractals. Here are some examples of fractals (lots of pictures, may download slowly); here is what the artist knits.
  • Computer Games: I was recently playing a computer game which makes a screenful of colored squares (if you're losing, that is) and found myself wondering if one could take a screenshot and create a pattern based on the random picture created by the colored squares. Here is an example of a screenshot that could be used:

game.JPG

I would love to hear any more ideas anyone has along these lines. Wade in!! Anyone?

Posted by Ryan at 10:39 AM | Comments (7)

December 08, 2003

Are Our Lives Exciting, or Whut?

The Mysterious K and I are both feeling a little smug since we got our flu shots looooong before people remembered that, why, yes, the flu did kill 40 million people in 1918, yes, it is still a deadly disease and, yes, clinics can run out of vaccine. (What I remember about the day I got my injection is the elderly Scot in line in front of me who was looking at the signs for the women’s and men’s bathrooms and chuckling about how, in Scotland, the fact that one silhouette was wearing a skirt wouldn’t tell you anything.) However, our smugness has been tempered somewhat by the fact that, flu shot or no, The Mysterious K spent the weekend flat on her back with some sort of cold-y bug, perhaps Flu Junior. In supportive, nurturing, partner-like fashion, I avoided her completely. Okay, okay, first I delivered her a bag full of cans of chicken noodle soup, throat lozenges, orange juice, lemon for her tea, and chocolate, then I stayed away from her. Okay, well, again, not completely. There was that little visit on Sunday. Oh, and then there were all the phone calls. (Okay, so I need to work on this “staying away” thing.)

Knitting Knews
Since it has become painfully obvious that stranded two-color knitting and I are not going to get along, I suppose it's time to learn more about cable and lace knitting. To this end, last weekend I purchased my first laceweight yarn, some JaggerSpun Zephyr (see color 16, called "Teal" on other sites although it's truly more a mint color). I do not see myself getting sucked in to Shawl World, especially since most of the patterns say awful things like "get a 9-foot long circular needle and cast on 1,489,232 stitches" so mostly I plan to use this yarn for swatchin' and learnin'. Here, a couple of swatches I knit, one using a purple wool-mohair dk/worsted weight waste yarn from Le Stash Chez Moi, and another using the Zephyr. The pattern is the Madeira Lace pattern from Barbara Walker, volume 1. (Confession Time: Did anyone else besides me look at the pattern on the paper towel under the swatches and try to translate it into knit, purl?) On Wednesday, the painful story of another lace swatch which I frogged, at last count, fifteen times.

madeira.doc

A question for sock knitters: If you add some lace at the top of a sock, since the lace is not ribbed and has no give, how the heck do ya' make sure the lace part will fit around your foot?

Dye Garden Dyegest
On hiatus until spring (or sooner, if we start seedlings). See you then!

Posted by Ryan at 10:29 AM | Comments (6)

December 05, 2003

Traffic Flow Management the Seattle Way

In my April 23 entry, I talked about the phenomenon of of the metered highway on-ramps here in Seattle and the drivers who interpret the stop-and-go lights literally, stopping and going and stopping and going and stopping and going, rather than taking the first green light as their signal to head right out onto the highway. This morning I was astonished to see another yin/yang-ish variation on this theme. The on-ramp I take for my commute to work is usually metered but this morning the light was stuck on green. But, this being Seattle, the drivers were stopping anyway! Sure enough, like a choreographed ballet, the next driver in line would drive up to the line, stop, wait a few seconds, and then drive on to the highway, all while the green signal light blazed merrily away. The next driver, the same thing. And the next. I lived in New Yawk for many years, and couldn't even begin to imagine New Yawkers doing this. In fact, under these circumstances, the organized line would have dissolved into a mêlée with everyone racing for the front. Did I stop? Uh, no. (Did I tell you I lived in New Yawk for many years?)

Knitting Knews
Some interesting developments on the Cat Bordhi front. First, I stumbled across another blog which had a picture of Cat signing books after her Guild presentation. Notice the lovely knitted items sitting at the front of the table. To the left are her "magic bags," soft knitted and beaded drawstring bags in bright colors designed to hold trinkets or amulets, especially ones that bring good juju. On top of the bags is the gold sock I mentioned in my review of Cat's presentation. I think, in the book the sock is knit by the mother of Ben (the main character). And last but not least, the charming and enchanting Ben doll. This picture doesn't do Ben justice. His face is more sculptured than the picture shows, with lovely, subtle indentations indicating his eyes, lips and nose. And his hair flounces joyfully around in fluffy terra cotta dreadlocks. I fell in love with Ben straightaway. Yes, K; you have some competition.

Also, I was thrilled to find out that Cat herself had read my review of her presentation. I was a little concerned that the review might come to her attention, especially since it doesn't start out in a particularly flattering way. But, according to her email, she enjoyed the review and may even want to use it as a marketing piece on her own website, which is being developed as we speak! I emailed her back but haven't heard anything more.

Dye Garden Dyegest
Today's picture is of a lacy, silver-leaved ground cover called "snow in summer." K has this planted all under her apple tree.

snowinsummer.jpg

Posted by Ryan at 10:22 AM | Comments (4)

December 03, 2003

What It's Like to Be Me

Just when I start to doubt my talents, I always do something extraordinary that I know no one else could duplicate. For example, this weekend I managed to bruise myself in my frickin' armpit. How talented is that?! I was scooping food out of Frankie's kibble bag, stood up too fast and jammed the pointed edge of the wire mesh kitchen caddy hanging on the door behind me under my arm. Almost flung kibble the length and breadth of the kitchen but managed at the last second to hang onto scoop and contents. Yup, there's no question about it; I am a talented and graceful girl. And now I am a talented and graceful girl who walks around with her right arm held weirdly away from her body.

(Speaking of flinging kibble, you'll have to ask K about the time I got so mad at her I hurled a bowl of dry cat kibble on the floor. The contents of the bowl exploded and flew dramatically up and out (much to my satisfaction) which meant that, for months to come, we kept discovering pieces of cat kibble in strange places. I think the strangest was in the tiny space behind my telephone table, caught two feet up in a cobweb.)

Knitting Knews
Knitting-wise, my Thanksgiving vacation was a week of extremes. One day, I was laboring away on The World's Largest Sweater using size 13 needles and extra-chunky yarn and the next, for no reason, or perhaps because of said size 13/extra-chunky project, I found myself awash in the urge to knit lace. Here a swatch I knit based on the Barbara Walker's Rose Trellis pattern. I used some DK-weight waste yarn (read, small, miscellaneous, label-less skein; may be pure cashmere but who will ever know) and size 2 needles. A very easy, very beautiful pattern.

trellis.jpg

Dye Garden Dyegest
For this entry's floral eye candy, a picture of some purple statice from my garden. This is a marvellous annual. It comes in a wonderful range of colors, from an extremely light blush-pink to this bright purple, is tall, blooms for a long time, requires very little care, and occasionally reseeds itself.

statice.jpg

Posted by Ryan at 09:52 AM | Comments (7)

December 01, 2003

The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow...

Hello again, Dear Readers! Such wonderful comments were left while I was gone, most from readers chiming in in defense of dpns and one, the Always-Needed Voice of Reason, saying "to each his own." And then there's Barb's lovely comment about how blogs are one of the things she was grateful for this Thanksgiving... Very sweet, Barb; thank you!

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For my first post-Thanksgiving entry, the story of "Frankie and the Attack of the Chunky Yarn."

First, some background: The World's Largest Sweater is an attempt to reuse the vast amounts of Wool Ease Thick & Quick that I purchased to make this now-discontinued pattern. After chugging along on the sweater for a while, I realized that the double-stranding and size 20 (yes, size 20) needles the pattern called for was resulting in an overly dense yet overly holey, ultra-saggy, lifeless sack, rather than the tailored, cozy and fetching pullover I had envisioned. I finally gave up when I discovered the pattern had errors in it. Yep—just the kind of experience a beginning knitter longs for...

Fast forward two years. Enter The World's Largest Sweater. Step One: Frogging the Overly Dense Yet Overly Holey, Ultra-Saggy, Lifeless Sack. Step Two: Untangling Miss Frankie from this mess, the result of her lying too close to me while I was madly flinging long strands of yarn.

stoicbabushka.jpg

Step Three: Make "Still Life with Yarn and Dog." If Little Orphan Annie and her dog Sandy had children, this would be the result , I think:

sweetbabushka.jpg

Step Four: Realize dog is thoroughly bored with this whole thing.

boredbabushka.jpg

Lest you think I spent all of Thanksgiving just frogging old projects and abusing the dog, here is the almostalmostalmost finished back of The World's Largest Sweater:

sweaterback.jpg

Also, a special thank you and a cheek-pinch goes out to K for helping me wind the double-stranded yarn back into separate balls.

Dye Garden Dyegest
I'm starting to think about next year's dye garden and am mulling over how best to get my hands on some indigo seeds and whether or not to order the hideously expensive (thanks to shipping) Hopi Black Dye Sunflower seeds. In the meantime, to fill our heads with dreams of warm summer days, a picture of a beautiful coral and yellow dahlia from my yard:

coraldahlia.jpg

Posted by Ryan at 10:57 AM