April 30, 2004

Your Wish is Our Command...Maybe

I frequently get asked what it’s like to have a blog, to live your life, albeit marginally, in the public eye. The Mysterious K and I talk about this often because we're finding it an interesting sociological experiment to have a blog. However, we weren’t able to quite define the effect it has had on our lives until this weekend when we realized…we’re Sims ! Flesh-and-blood human Sims, mind you, and still 99.999% self-directing, but the blog has introduced a definite and undeniable Sim element into our lives. For example, as a direct result of the Dear Readers’ suggestions about how to finish the tuteur, TMK went online, found a local copper sheet metal vendor, and will be visiting his shop this weekend. (Doesn’t mean we’ve settled on copper (see, that’s the self-directing part) but you, Dear Readers, definitely influenced her to get serious about the idea.) Similarly, a few months ago, Dear Reader Robbyn wrote about scones in her blog—and, again, as a direct result, that very weekend TMK and I made and consumed a large plate of scones. Dear Reader Sylvia (very nicely) asked for more photos of Frankie so, in the next entry, there it was…a new photo of Frankie. Debbie wanted a photo of TMK so we trotted out the now infamous “shadow” photo. And last year a fellow natural dyer wanted to know if a certain color I had made was light-fast, so I ran a lightfast test and posted pictures of the results. See? Sims!

Now we’re just waiting for the moment when our omnipotent Dear Readers decide to create for us a fabulous mansion and untold wealth.


Hellooooooooooooo. Still waaaaaaaaaaaaaiting!

Knitting Knews
One more inch of yellow on the Baby Norgi and back to two-color patterning. Out of curiousity, I checked my gauge last night: 10 stitches to the inch! Holy frickin' moly!

Janine, I figured out why the side seams on the Baby Norgi are so funky. They are little 4-stitch steeks. The “funkiness” of the pattern in that area will help me figure out where to sew and where to cut the steeks for the armholes. I shudder at the thought. Another reason for me to finish at least the body before you leave!

Dye Garden Dyegest
The indigo is in the ground! Photos Monday.

Posted by Ryan at 10:02 AM | Comments (7)

April 28, 2004

Cluck!

Still on the subject of finding design and color inspiration in unusual places, here's the ultimate example—a knitter whose socks were inspired by her chicken. The scary part? I have no idea how I ended up on this page. Trust me; I did not Google on "sock chicken."

MaryB, since you are the Queen of Two-Color Socks (no lie, Dear Readers; you should see the beautiful black and red ones she just finished), farther down on the page there’s a passel of little two-color charts for socks. There are more on this page.

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The big event last week was the birth of the “tuteur,” what we used to call “those tall, pointy, pyramid-y things you grow vines on” until we were enlightened by one of the Kitchen Gardener magazines given to The Mysterious K by Dear Reader Janine. Here it be:

Tuteur.jpg

This picture is a little misleading because in actuality the tuteur is a big muthuh, three feet on each side at the base. A tallish human being can stand up inside it and not worry about getting his or her head squished into a point. (TMK offered to put me inside it. I declined.)

Although I was at work while the tuteur was being built, I was very much "involved" in its construction. Suffice it to say every time a new side was added, the phone would ring. It went something like this: Side one. Phone call. Side two. Phone call. Side three. Phone call. Side four. Phone call followed immediately by email with photo. Ya’ just want to pinch her cheeks, don’tcha?

Okay, time to vote: Cover the pointy top with copper sheet metal? Or insert a fancy wood finial in the top?

Knitting Knews
Still chugging away on the endless yellow of the Baby Norgi. Don't get me wrong, though; endless yellow or no, I'm having more fun than should be legal with this sweater, not the least of which is that it was very satisfying to bring with me to Feral Knitters on Monday something that at least somewhat qualified as fair isle. I think the best comment of the night came from Devorah. Our conversation went something like this:

Devorah: Cute! What is it? A hat?
Me: No, it's a sweater.
Devorah: I think you should make it into a hat.
Me (holding the pattern out defiantly in front of me, like a protective talisman): But it's a sweater.
Devorah: Not yet, it's not.

I was stunned silent by the idea that you could completely change your mind in mid-stream and say, feh, was a sweater, now it's a hat. Something new to aspire to...

But the best part was meeting yet another Dear Reader, Linda K, who (a) is a knitter (duh); (b) also has a corgi, although of the tail-bearing kind; and (c) lives maybe six blocks from TMK! As we speak, we are trying to set up a doggie playdate. Linda K, if you're reading this, TMK says, "Bring Miss Bossyknickers on!"

Posted by Ryan at 10:21 AM

April 26, 2004

Inspiration for the Design-Handicapped

One of the biggest ways in which The Mysterious K and I differ is in our ability to visualize. Here, in one corner, we have TMK, who is very visual and can “see” images, colors and designs in her head. And, there, waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay over in the other corner, we have Ryan The Word Girl, who can’t visualize squat.

When TMK needs me to visualize—usually when she’s excited about something she’s planning and she wants me to see and understand her Grand Design—no matter how much she flaps her hands in the air and tries to “draw” what she wants me to see, no matter how much I concentrate, furrow my brows, squint my eyes and clench my b_tt—nuthin’. Eventually I just throw my hands up in the air and give her my “I’m sorry, but you know how I am” look. And then she just looks at me and slowly and disappointedly shakes her head. I can’t understand being like her, and she sure as hell can’t understand being like me.

You can well imagine that my “handicap,” as it were, can get in the way of my knitting ambitions. In short, I couldn't design my way out of a paper bag. To compensate, I rely on three things:

(1) My fallback color scheme: Yellow, blue and green. (Guess what colors the Baby Norgi is?)

(2) Variegated yarn and the knitting crutch of all knitting crutches, self-striping sock yarn.

(3) My ace in the hole, the Internet. As a functional color-illiterate, I have, by necessity, gotten astonishingly good at plumbing the depths of the Net for unusual places to find color and design inspiration. Assuming there are other color-illiterates out there, I thought you might be interested in some of the ways I use the Net to find inspiration. For example, recently, using the search string “nature photography,” I found this site. Using the “View Images and Portfolios” search function, I found these color-rich images:

#1
#2
#3
#4
#5
#6
#7
and for those of you who prefer more neutral colors (oh, and for Cuzzin Tom, who doesn't knit but will appreciate this picture), #8.

For motifs and designs and, secondarily, color, try “native american pottery.” This search led me to images like this and this and this.

“Native american textiles” or “peruvian tapestries” can lead you to pages like this or this.

Using “geometric patterns,” I found this and this and this.

One of my favorite designers is the famous Arts & Crafts movement designer William Morris. Using his name, I found this beautifully colored design and something similar, interpreted in needlework.

In short, base your Internet searches on anything but “knitting” or “crochet.” Look for objects around you that inspire you and move you and search for pictures based on that. Here are some other search strings I have used successfully:

    "cross-stitch charts"
    “abstract designs”
    “oriental rugs”
    “celtic knots”
    “quilt patterns”
    "Ukrainian eggs"
    "polynesian tattoos"
    tilework
    snowflakes
    tessellations

Knitting Knews(as if an entire discussion of where to find color and design inspiration weren't enough)
Despite my fear of the size 0 needles (which Dear Reader Mary helped me realize was purely psychological since the size 1s I use to knit socks are all of .25 millimeter larger), and despite the fact that I forgot to enlarge the color chart which prints out teeny-weeny, things are going very well with the Baby Norgi. Gotta love that yellow, blue and green color combo!

feral1.jpg

feral3.jpg

Dye Garden Dyegest
The weather here in Seattle this weekend couldn't have been any better—bright, warm, sunny days with the perfect hair-ruffling breeze. We (okay, TMK more than me because, well, see the Baby Norgi pictures above) spent considerable time in the yard, getting the dye garden ready for the year.

We declared our "growing from seed" experiment an unqualified success. Here, our "Bright Lights" cosmos seedlings just before they went in the ground. (Just ignore the sad vine seedlings in the upper right-hand corner. Okay, maybe we did have a hiccup or two.)

cosmosseedlings.jpg

And the indigo seedlings, which we are going to keep in the greenhouse a little while longer but which can definitely be called real grown-up plants:

indigoseedlings.jpg

The black hollyhocks which came back from last year:

dyegarden3.jpg

Two views of the dye garden after TMK mulched it:

dyegarden1.jpg

dyegarden2.jpg

For Dear Reader Sylvia, a photo of Frankie in the dye garden.

frankiegarden1.jpg

And lastly, our nemesis, The Sparrow. Dude was abandoned by his mate on Saturday and has twittered loudly, incessantly and melodramatically ever since. We can't quite figure out if he's saying "Goodbye, cruel world! What is there left to live for?" or "Hubba hubba, ladies. Come see my velvet heart-shaped bed and the mirrors on the ceiling!" Either way, we...just...want...him...to...Shut...UP!!!

sparrow1.jpg

Posted by Ryan at 11:21 AM | Comments (10)

April 23, 2004

One Year Later...

Wouldn’t you know it? On A Very Special Day, I feel under the weather and not much like writing, but I must write at least a little since this is, indeed, A Very Special Day—the one-year anniversary of the blog!

anniv.gifI want to dedicate today’s entry, short and blah though it may be, to my Dear Readers. A big thank you to everyone who has come on this 52-week writing and knitting journey with me, some of whom are New Dear Readers, some of whom have stuck around for a long time, some of whom stopped reading the blog 51 weeks ago, but all of whom have been instrumental in making me look forward to getting out of bed every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to write and to post:

Amber, Anj, Angie, Anne, Aven, Barb, Barbara, Bea, Beth, Bill, Blu, Bren, Bron, Calissa, Carine, CarolineF, Cata (hi, Big Sister!), Ced, Charlotte, Chery, Cheryl, Childe, Cindy, Cuzzin Sarah, Cuzzin Tom, Dale, Debra, Dot, Emma, Fran, Greta, Janet, Janine, Jean, Jenna, Jessica, Jon, Justin, Kim, KarenK, Karen the Terrible, Kit, Lisa, Laurie, LindaK, Lori, Lubna, Maggi, MaryB, MaryD, Maus, Melinda, Melissa, Michelle, Mira, Myria, Nathania, Nicole (hi, niece!), Opal, Pam, Pat, Perclexed, Prudence Fiddletwist, Rachael, Rana, Rebecca, Robbyn, Roberta, Ruth, Samina, Sharon, Stephanie, Susanna, Sylvia, Tami, The Other Rebecca, Theresa, Tipper, Vaire, Vanessa, Wendy, Yvette, and, of course, all the Lurkers that I hope to “meet” someday.

A very special thank you to Sheila of FiberRavenSoiree who is not only a Dear Reader but also a knitting mentor, sublime hostess of the Soirees where I learned how much fun it was to knit with other people, the person who generously hosts Mossy Cottage on her server, and the patient answerer of my million MovableType questions that all started with, “But how do I…?”

And, of course, a special thank you to The Mysterious K, who, from the very first, supported the blog idea, unquestioningly put all of her digital photography skills at my disposal, and has allowed me to have a lot of fun at her expense.

So, what have a I learned this year?

  • If you wear your favorite shirt when you are dyeing, you will get dye on it. Your least favorite shirt will come through unscathed.
  • Dye gardens get as many weeds as any other garden.
  • Yarrow dye is the worst smelling substance on earth. Ever.
  • There is no problem in the world that cannot be solved with a pair of hand-knit socks.
  • Having a small stash, and feeling superior to other knitters because you have a small stash, is a very temporary condition.
  • The fact that everyone at your LYS knows you by your first name Is Not A Good Sign.
  • When your partner tells you red does not photograph well, she is right. Making faces at her behind her back won't make the photograph look any better.
  • Two-handed, two-colored, stranded knitting is possible. Who knew?!
  • Posting sock patterns for free is a kick—but nothing compared to finding out that a Dear Reader has actually knitted a sock from one of the patterns.
  • The sound a router makes sets my teeth on edge. The sound a router makes makes TMK think she has died and gone to heaven.
  • When you run out of things to write about, post a picture of the dog.

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"Mwah!" to everyone! And, on that note, off to find some coffee so I can feel not just exhausted and bleary-eyed but exhausted, bleary-eyed, and jittery. (Oh, wait; how is that better?)

-Ryan

Posted by Ryan at 10:40 AM | Comments (24)

April 21, 2004

A Poopy...oops, I Mean "Kooky," Kraft

I am so pleased to present the first Kooky Kraft from a Dear Reader!

The story starts here, where, under “The Poop Scoop,” Marcia regales us with a story about returning a neighbor's wave with the same hand in which she is carrying a large bag of fresh dog poo and somehow managing to hit herself in the head with said bag—only to discover that the neighbor wasn’t waving to her at all. The story is a total hoot; worth a read.

In response, Dear Reader Robbyn designed, knit and posted the pattern for the aforementioned Kooky Kraft, a knitted dog poo bag (with her patented "smell well" feature), which you can read about here.

This all reminds me of the time when my brother, who was living in New Yawk at the time, picked up a bag of kitty litter detritus as he headed out the door to work, fully intending to deposit the bag in the outdoor garbage bin. Only he forgot, and found himself on a speeding subway train, attaché case in one hand, odoriferous bag of cat poo in the other. And guess which hand he had to use to straphang since the attaché case was too heavy? The bag was eventually deposited in a garbage can somewhere on Wall Street.

But lest you worry about my brother's delicate sensibilities, this is the same brother who bought as a present for my sister a "Dust Buster" or something of a similar ilk and, for illustrative purposes, sent along with the package a little Zip-lock bag of some of the things she could expect to pick up with her spiffy new hand vacuum. I will leave what was inside the plastic bag to your imagination.

Knitting Knews
I am truly afeard. Somehow I have gotten it into my head that now that I pretty much have the hang of two-handed stranded knitting, that I'm qualified to knit Baby Norgi . Which is why last night I found myself knitting a baby sweater using size 0 needles (for non-knitters, this is about the same diameter as—what would be a good example, Dear Readers? How about angel hair pasta?). It didn’t help that I had just finished some work on the felted clogs using size 13s (again, for non-knitters, this is about the same diameter as a lady's pinky finger). I’m surprised my head didn’t explode.

Even at this early stage (row 2, in fact), I don’t know how far I’ll get on the Norgi because it doesn’t promise much in the way of instant, or even delayed, or even delayed-until-the-last-speck-of-life-on-earth-is-extinguished, gratification. At 198 stitches to a round on size 0 needles, trust me, you don’t see speedy progress.

I have decided, however, to leave out the trees and reindeer. Anyone remember this entry about the different things that give me, The Mysterious K, and our Dear Readers the creeps? Well, you can add to that list knitted reindeer figures. I have absolutely no idea why. And now I'm thinking, if that weird revelation doesn't scare off some readers, I don't know what will...

My favorite event of the month tonight—Guild! Tonight is the Fiber Frenzy where members can bring and sell fiber, yarn, patterns or knitting supplies from their stash. Last year I bought some beautiful merino, which is still burning a hole in my cedar chest and rates high on the Guilt Meter, so I doubt I'll participate in the high finance side of things but, no matter—that just means I have more time to get into mischief with my knitting cohorts.

Garden Gossip
TMK continues to assimilate all her new plants and shrubs into her yard, although it was a little too cold last night for a real tour of the garden to appreciate all of her handiwork. I did think, however, that you—whether you are a gardener in awe of the colors of nature or a knitter in need of some color inspiration for your next project—would appreciate this picture.

spirea_rhodie_combo.jpg

No need to adjust your monitors. That is indeed an eyeball-searingly bright chartreuse overlapping with an outrageously loud pink (a lime-mound spirea and “Hino Crimson” azalea, respectively). And collectively, let's just agree to ignore the little white weed on the left. (I think it's the weed equivalent of those annoying people who stand behind roving reporters, wave, yell "Hi, Mom!" and make "devil horns" behind the reporter's head.)

Posted by Ryan at 10:53 AM | Comments (14)

April 19, 2004

Flower Power!

There’s nothing that tickles me more than knowing I have a new Dear Reader—except knowing I have a new Dear Reader who has gone back and read the entire archive. A big Mossy Cottage e-welcome and e-hug to Angie in Texas! (Wait, did she say Texas? I feel an e-intro coming on! Dear Reader and Knitter Barb in Texas meet Dear Reader and Crocheter and Wannabe Knitter Angie in Texas; Dear Reader and Crocheter and Wannabe Knitter Angie in Texas meet Dear Reader and Knitter Barb in Texas!)

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For the two or three nights before our planned trip to Flower World, with help from two of her many trusty gardening reference books, Western Garden Book and Winter Ornamentals, The Mysterious K labored intently away at putting together this, her “dream list” of everything she wanted to buy at the nursery. (Obviously, this photo was taken after the weekend and after the list had been much used and abused. TMK is not in the habit of writing up a neat list and then ripping the crap out of it.)

plantlist.jpg

Then, on Saturday, list in hand, we headed off to FW, with a quick stop at Hillcrest Bakery in Bothell (for non-Washingtonians, that's Bothell, not Brothel), which we declare to be The Best Bakery in Seattle. Mary, Janine, Fran, Rebecca, Melinda, Perclexed, Susanna, Karen, Sheila, Kit and anyone from Seattle and environs that I’ve missed, I have two words for you: Apple. Fritter. Obscenely good. If you’re not an apple fritter fan, then TMK swears by the buttermilk donuts. I also like the plain cake donuts, although TMK rolls her eyes every time I eat one since, in her world, the gooier and more crapped-up the donut, the better, with a “10” being a custard-filled, sugar-glazed donut with chocolate icing. Urk. (And, yes, we know she has diabetes, but we have agreed that the occasional trip to Hillcrest Bakery is what makes life worth living. Besides, the whole day was still a pseudo-continuation of her birthday, and a girl's gotta have a breakfast donut on her birthday!)

Donut-laden, and list still in hand, we continued on to FW and spent a good 2.5 hours there, ultimately filling up two of their huge (and almost cartoonishly unwieldy) flat carts. A picture of the haul:

plants_dayone.jpg

The catch? Somehow we had returned home with a Baby Huey full of plants, yet we had acquired not one of the items on The List. (We knitters couldn’t possibly understand about that, now, could we—going into our LYS and buying everything except what we went in there for? Or acquiring everything on the list, and then some?)

Oh, wait, did I forget to mention Day Two?

plants_daytwo.jpg

Yep, on Sunday we made another attempt to whittle down the list with a trip to Sky Nursery and did pretty much the same amount of damage.

TMK’s piece de resistance was the azalea she bought at FW on Saturday, the tall red plant to the right in the first photo. It's not really red, more the most amazing shade of deep, true coral. To translate, if you found this color at your LYS, you would take all of the skeins off the shelf, throw them in a pile on the floor and roll around in them. And then you would have a cigarette.

Here is the azalea planted in the garden, to the left of her other pride and joy, the blue willow, which TMK planted a few years ago and which still continues to amaze us with its beauty and lushness. For those who care (Dear Reader and Seattleite Fran, fer sher), the other plants surrounding the azalea are bachelor’s buttons, coreopsis, rosemary, sedum, foxglove, honeysuckle, and tulips.

redrhodie_planted.jpg

Knitting Knews
Good news and bad news. The Good News: The Dublin Bay pattern won the vote! The Bad News: Stephanie may have already decided not to use the pattern because stripe-wise her Lorna's Laces isn't behaving itself the way my Child's Play did. Instead of making stripes, her yarn is pooling in amorphous blobs on the front and the back of the sock (see her entry for today for the gory details). Still, for me, it's an utter kick to see a picture of even just the beginning of one of my socks on someone else's blog.

Thank you to everyone who posted positive comments about the Alhambra Sock. You’re motivating me to write up the Arboretum and Catalina patterns and post them, too! I was right; giving patterns away for free is a kick, much more fun than selling 'em.

I finished the baby socks yesterday. These socks are Very Important in the annals of my sock knitting since they are the first pair I ever Just Whipped Up. All of my other projects have required Great Thought and Deliberation but, for this pair, I just grabbed some leftover yarn, two sizes of dpns and churned them out. A milestone for me.

calgonsocks.jpg

Here, a closeup of the unfolded cuff showing a couple of interesting techniques which I had learned about online but had never used. (1) I knit a fold line. This worked so well I spent much more time than a sane person would have folding and unfolding, folding and unfolding, folding and unfolding the cuff. It just sort of neatly flops over on itself with little or no encouragement and stays nicely put. I find this fascinating. (2) The ribbing before the foldline is k1, p1 and the ribbing after the fold line is p1, k1. This allows the columns of ridges and depressions that occur before the fold line to fit neatly into the columns of depressions and ridges that occur after the foldline. I find this equally fascinating.

babysock_foldline.jpg

Posted by Ryan at 11:01 AM | Comments (27)

April 16, 2004

Ltos and Lots of Tpyos

This, Dear Readers, is how much I enjoy writing this blog: I went to the eye doctor this morning and had to have Those Drops put in. You know, the kind that make your eyeballs feel as if someone has painted them over with a thin layer of cement? And now I can’t see a frickin’ thing, much less my monitor. But still, I must write, I must post—the only difference being that today I can’t be held responsible for any typos.

Ah, much better. Just zoomed my Word screen up to 300%. Now all the letters look like THIS.

Knitting Knews
One of my favorite phrases is “it’s like herding kittens.” Seriously a milk-snort-worthy phrase. However, I’ve noticed it becomes a lot less funny when it applies to your life, especially your knitting.

I have what feels like a million little unfinished projects going on right now—which is completely out of keeping with my “knitting karma” and is making me feel truly twitchy—and I’m not satisfied with any of them. So last night I realized the only thing to do was to “return to my roots” and knit some socks, so now I’m halfway through the first of a pair of blue and yellow socks for a co-worker’s newborn. And now the twitchiness and anxiety is gone. I think I shall name these the "Calgon Socks."

In the meantime, I’ve been closely and amusedly watching the contest going on at Yarn Harlot. Stephanie has asked her readers to decide for her what she should knit with two truly scrumptious skeins of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock(“Aslan” colorway, I think; a variegated yarn in browns, tans, grays and buttercream). I suggested the newly-posted-at-the-time Dublin Bay pattern, some other readers suggested some other great patterns, and now we’re just waitin’ around to see which way the wind blows. Many thanks to the Dear Readers who voted for Dublin Bay! (Oh, and the rest of you? No ballot stuffing.)

I have posted a second free pattern, the Alhambra Socks. I have sold this pattern on www.sockpatterns.com for the last year or so but last week when I posted Dublin Bay I discovered it was so much more rewarding and fun to just give the patterns away that I pulled Alhambra from there and posted it here. That, and I was starting to realize I would never retire on the $1.50 I made for each pattern sold. (Okay, okay, that’s a lie. If you sell only one pattern a month, it’s true you make only $1.50 because of the one-time-per-month fee you're charged for posting your pattern there and the administrative costs that are taken out. However, the more patterns you sell, the more money you make. Why, I’m still dining out on the $8 I made a few months ago.)

If you’ve never been there, I really encourage you to visit sockpatterns.com. It has lots of fun patterns like the King Tut Socks, Spring Dreams and Persephone’s Dream. If you’re interested in having one of your patterns sold through there, the woman who manages the site is friendly, helpful and organized. And it’s the perfect, passive-aggressive way to convince your ego that one of your patterns is good enough to sell.

Gardening Gossip
Tomorrow, Flower World!! As I said in one of my comments, we are taking The Truck* because The Mysterious K has declared that she is going to buy Trees, lots of Trees. Oy vay.

A big thanks and a small “argh” to new Dear Reader Beth who said that last year she planted 17 indigo plants and dyed about 1,200 yards of lace weight yarn. Ack! I’ve only planted six plants! Well, I’ll be sure to post a picture of my sad one-foot strand of dyed yarn when I’m done. (Actually, if my calculations are correct (1200 x 17 x 6), with my six measly plants I should still be able to dye 423.52941176470588235294117647059 yards.)

*Thanks to a family tradition, I am compelled to name all of our vehicles. The Truck’s name is “Baby Huey” because, persona-wise, I think it looks big, white and not particularly bright. TMK on the other hand, who thinks it’s big, white and cool, wanted to name it Luke after Luke Skywalker because the truck reminded her of a Storm Trooper—although why she didn’t want to just name it “Storm Trooper,” I don’t know. Not only that, but she wanted everyone to pronounce it "Luuuuuuuuuuuke," and say it with a deep, Darth Vaderish voice. In fact, I think every time we mentioned the truck she wanted us to say the whole phrase, "Luuuuuuuuke, I am your fathah," again, in the deep voice. But it don't make no nevermind because guess who won the name game.

Posted by Ryan at 11:55 AM | Comments (11)

April 14, 2004

Burp!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah... Time to recover from the birthday orgy. A wallow in calorie- and fat-laden food at Outback followed by a wallow in wrapping paper and ribbon followed by a wallow in the pots de crèmes. (I wonder how unprofessional is it to sit at your desk with your jeans unzipped and your stomach pooched out...)

As a nod to you fiber enthusiasts out there, The Mysterious K wanted to show you how much she enjoyed her alpaca scarf.

Knitting Knews
snowflake.jpgRemember the two-handed, two-color, stranded, steeked, circular needle, Norwegian snowflake project that was thisclose to being cut? Well, I lost it. No, no, I don't mean I went all hysterical at the prospect of taking scissors to it. I mean I can't find the blasted thing.

In my world, I can usually tell when things are going to Become Lost. They start (a) moving slightly farther away from me day by day and (b) showing up in strange places. Eventually they just disappear altogether. In the case of the snowflake, it was first in my knitting bag, where it was logically supposed to be. Then it moved to my secondary knitting bag, and then to my overnight bag. Then it moved to my coffee table and then at some point it moved to the trunk of my car. By then, based on past experience, I knew that it was "leaving" and, sure enough, it is now in None of Those Places. If anyone out there has had it magically appear in, say, your knitting bag or your living room or perhaps the trunk of your car, lemme know, would ya'?

The good news is I've started a new two-handed, two-color, stranded, steeked, circular needle swatch. I wanted to see what the two-color effect would be like using a solid background color and a variegated color so I'm using a creamy white for the main color and some leftover Lorna's Laces Gold Hill for the pattern (see this earlier entry for a picture of a sock knit in Gold Hill). I've only done four rows so there's nothing much to see, but I hope to keep plugging away on it tonight and to have a photo soon.

Everyday Garden Dyegest
Just a pick-me-up photo for my Dear Readers of the beautiful basket of gold now blooming in TMK's yard:

basketogold.jpg

Posted by Ryan at 11:40 AM | Comments (12)

April 12, 2004

The Proof is in the...er, Cake!

Despite my one-day respite from blogging, all this morning I suffered from severe “blog block” and it was truly a crapshoot whether I would get anything posted. If you’re not a blogger, then you should know that blog block comes with its own set of symptoms, something akin to having mental heartburn. You want to write, you need to write, you want to reach out to your Dear Readers that you miss even after just one day of not posting—but there’s nothing there. (Okay, maybe it's more like mental constipation.) Fortunately, long about 10:30am, The Most Timely Email Ever arrived from Big Sister...

Remember how on Wednesday I talked about my sister’s attempt to make a cabbage cake? I was un peu worried that she would not take kindly to my publicizing her less-than-successful cooking exploits but I should have had more faith in my sister. Rather than be upset, she sent me The Photo!

Here, by way of comparison and also from my sister, a photo of what the cabbage cake is supposed to look like:

cabbage_card.jpg

And here, her stove and her, ahem, "variation" on the cake:

cabbage_cake.jpg

Chocaholics, be honest. Right now you’re saying to yourself “Ok, it’s not pretty, but if I had a fork…”

Thank you, sister, for the bigbig laugh this gave me this morning.

Knitting Knews
Over the weekend I finished the Dublin Bay Sock (which, this morning, a co-worker dubbed the "Easter Egg Sock," which is such a mo' bettah name than "Dublin Bay" that now I’m thoroughly annoyed. Why didn’t I think of that?!) At any rate, here is a picture of the finished sock. I’ll update the pattern to include this picture, instead of the half-assed one that's there now, and also update the sock length information in keeping with the erratum I posted on Wednesday.

dublinbaysockfinal.jpg

The felted clogs are almost finished, so much so that we may be able to felt them this weekend. TMK has put in a request for a pair of her own...but I’m hesitant. If you could see how she tortures her footwear… She wears her current pair of lambskin moccasin slippers in the house, in the wet grass and mud when she accompanies Frankie outside for her nightly constitutional, into the flowerbeds for impromptu bits of weeding, in her sawdusty workshop, across the street to get the mail, in her garage… TMK is by not by any means lazy or a slob, quite the opposite, in fact. It's just that she works at home and sees no reason why she should spend a goodly portion of her life changing from slippers to sneakers to garden clogs to Birkenstocks and back to slippers when the pair she puts on when when she gets out of bed in the morning is perfectly serviceable, thank you very much. If I do make her a pair of felted clogs, methinks she will have to agree to have a set of leather soles sewn on.

Woodworking World
I am so excited to post this picture of TMK’s finished beadboard wall cabinet! I think it's gorgeous and, to top it all off—and perhaps more importantly—TMK still has all ten fingers!

wallcabinet2.jpg

Still on the subject of TMK, please join me in wishing her a Happy Birthday (officially tomorrow)!

We try to plan An Event for each birthday (like the trip to Churchmouse for me). TMK's Event will be a (slightly belated) trip on Saturday to Flower World, a vast nursery about 45 minutes outside of Seattle. How vast? You need a map to get around. Really. They supply them.

Chocolate lovers, by way of penitence for tantalizing you with pictures of luscious chocolate things that you cannot have, a little something extra for you. For her birthday, in lieu of a a traditional cake, TMK has requested pots de crème. Easy to make, so rich, so yummy. Just think, if you went to the grocery store now, in 4.5 hours you could be plunging your spoon into your own ramekin full of chocolatey heaven.

Posted by Ryan at 12:48 PM | Comments (26)

April 07, 2004

Playing With Your Food

No posting on Friday, Dear Readers! I'm taking a one-day vacation to catch up on all the little tasks for The Mysterious K's birthday that I've put off.

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Yesterday in the break room at work I was nattering with a co-worker about food likes and dislikes, good food versus bad food, and selectively eating just the part of bad food that’s good—which reminded me of one of the high points of my teenagehood. (Yes, Big Sister; here comes the lemon cupcake story!)cupcake.jpg

One evening, when we were in high-school, my sister and I went to our monthly Bible study and, being the inherent feeder and nurturer that she is, she baked and brought to the meeting some lemon cupcakes. Now, I am passionate about lemon, anything made of lemon. I love lemon cake; I eat lemon chicken whenever possible; I always order a slice of lemon with my soda—and steal the lemon out of TMK’s iced tea to supplement it; I love lemonade and even drink it hot in the winter; I can eat lemons “neat;” and don’t even get me started on Lemonhead candies, which do make your lips and cheeks implode but are still so heavenly—so I was very much looking forward to our snack (more so, to be honest, than the hour of biblical and theological discussion, which always disintegrated into discussions of who was “saved” and who wasn’t, which further disintegrated into discussions of who was “cool” and who wasn’t, which further disintegrated into discussions of who was dating whom, which further disintegrated into discussions of who was “doing it.” We were just teenagers, after all.). But I was destined to be disappointed because the cupcakes turned out to be barely edible. Drat and double-drat.

After a few minutes of very unChristian-like sighing and grumbling, my friends and I decided the best way to get over our disappointment was to play a rousing game of badminton. Only we couldn’t find a birdie. Hmmmm—smallish, roundish cupcakes that were inedible; a badminton game without a birdie. (You can see this one coming, can’t you?) We proceeded to lick the icing off the cupcakes—see “eating the part of bad food that’s good,” above—and to whack them back and forth across the badminton net. They proved to be the ideal projectiles: They were firm yet springy and bouncy, they made a soft yet satisfying plastic “boing” noise when you smacked ‘em, they could be hit an astonishing number of times before the least little crumb fell off, and there wasn’t the faintest possibility of anyone putting an eye out with one. And when Cupcake A eventually disintegrated, heck, we just licked the icing off Cupcake B and picked up where we left off! (I don’t think my sister has ever forgiven me for this. At least, she’s never made me any more lemon cupcakes.)

Then there was the time she tried to make a “chocolate cabbage” which involved deconstructing an entire head of cabbage, painting each individual leaf with melted chocolate, letting the chocolate harden, peeling the cabbage leaves away from the chocolate, and reconstructing the head of using the chocolate “leaves.” I believe she still has a picture somewhere of her kitchen when she was done: chocolate on the appliances, chocolate on the floor, chocolate on the ceiling…and an only slightly cabbage-shaped chocolate lump on the counter. (Big Sister, you are not alone. A link just for you...)

Knitting Knews
I’m in that blah space where I’m finishing long projects where nothing changes much from day to day, at least not enough to make the project photo-worthy, or I’m making a “second” of something you've already seen.

I'm almost done with the first Dublin Bay sock, which, for some reason I just sense will never be blessed with a mate—dunno why. My First Official Erratum: If you're knitting the sock, knit the foot until you're more like 1.75" inches away from the total length, not the the 2" the pattern says. The 1.75" will give your toes that little extra wiggle room!

Dye Garden Dyegest
So far, so good with the indigo! The Mysterious K says I should start more plants. Melinda, do you have any experience with indigo? What do you think? Will I need more than the five or six plants these seedlings will eventually become?

indigo2.jpg

And on the not-for-dyeing plant side, here is a picture of TMK's lupine seedlings. For any gardening Dear Readers (Fran, Debra, Perclexed—you out there?), for the lupine, TMK is using "the poor man's Jiffypot"—toilet paper rolls. I believe the benefit to this is that the toilet paper rolls are waaaay cheap, are certainly easy to come by, and can be planted in their entirety in the ground so you don't disturb the seedling roots. The toilet paper roll will eventually disintegrate and compost.

lupine.jpg

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

April 05, 2004

Huuuummm. Huuuuummm. Huuummm.

This Saturday was spent at the Alpacapalooza, a local celebration of alpacas and the alpaca-ranching lifestyle. At the fairgrounds, there were alpacas as far as the eye could see, young, old, suris, huaracas, brown, silver, white, caramel, cream, gold, terra cotta—and all of them were humming and hooting softly in their peculiar alpaca way. Which has turned out to be a problem because The Mysterious K has picked up this habit. I can’t tell you how many times this weekend, well after we had left the Alpacapalooza, she would start humming and hooting. Bet she’s doing it even now, all alone, by herself, in her office, in front of her computer.

TMK is an extremely tactile person and, as such, spent the first hour trying to touch an alpaca without (a) incurring the wrath of the alpaca or (b) incurring the wrath of the alpaca’s owners. Sometimes she tried the subtle “getting to know a strange cat” method which involved sticking her finger out and hoping the alpaca would sniff it so she could first scritch its nose and then move on to scritching its neck and then move on to scritching its sumptuous, scrumptious belly or back. Alternatively, she would forego all of the niceties and stick her hand through the bars and flat out try to “cop a feel.” However, inevitably, the alpacas were too fast for her and would usually run to the back of the pen and, you guessed it, start humming and hooting. Fortunately, we encountered a friendly and hospitable couple who invited us right into the pen with their alpacas, and we spent a good ten heavenly minutes scrunching our hands around in the alpacas’ fleece.

(And before anyone asks, no, we’re not going to run away and become alpaca farmers, although we did spend considerable time discussing what colors we would get if we did. I voted for a coppery terra cotta; she voted for a chocolate brown. And we tried to figure out if anyone would even know if I had an alpaca in my yard behind my tall fence. Okay, okay; we entertained the idea a little bit.)

We were very careful to take the digital camera with us so we could take lots and lots of pictures of alpacas for the blog—but took nary a one. Pooh. I do however, have this photo of this alpaca yarn I bought, straight from the back of “Freddie” from Alegre Alpacas.

freddie.jpg

The lady who sold it to us was truly lovely, even showed us photos of Freddie, and asked us to send her pictures of what we knit with the yarn. Personally, I think I got a great deal on this remarkably soft, beautifully-spun yarn: $12 for 350 yards ($24 for 700 total). This yarn is destined for the dye pot and to be actually Knit Into Something, not just into a swatch.

And I also bought this—which everyone can look at except TMK because it’s for her upcoming birthday. (Of course, she picked it out, she was there when I bought it, and she had to process this photo to send it to me. But humor us. Let’s just pretend that the Dear Readers and I are the only ones who can see this photo and that TMK is going to behave herself and not click on it, although we know darn well she will, humming and hooting all the while.)

Knitting Knews
Ta-da! The front of the two-handed, two-color, stranded, steeked, circular needle, Norwegian snowflake project!

snowflake.jpg

And for my mischievous Cuzzin Tom, who wrote "Is 'steeked' really a word? If so, whazzit mean? Can you use it in a sentence like, 'I am so totally steeked?,' " a photo of the back and the steek (the checkered-looking section in the middle). Cuzzin, the idea is that once I've gotten up the noive, I'm going to cut this piece of knitting right up the middle of the steek and magically convert it from a round piece of knitting into a flat piece of knitting. And don't ask me why I didn't knit it flat in the first place or I will hit you, even if you are a monk (which he is).

steek.jpg

To give credit where credit is due, the pattern is the blue and white star from this web page.

Posted by Ryan at 10:33 AM | Comments (13)

April 02, 2004

Who Says Miracles Don't Happen?

A very short entry today due to a distinct lack of new photos of Le Knitting since The Mysterious K has been very ill with something juicy and vile that has a 100% chance of being passed on to anyone who comes within a hundred yards of her. So, at her request, I've been avoiding her, her house, and any and all items in her house, including the digital camera, for the last couple of days. However, I did pass on Dear Reader Debra's request for a photo of TMK to The Source and begged her for a photo, saying things like "One photo? Just this once? Pleeeeeeze? For meeeeeeeeeeeee?" After many hours of delicate negotiations, she agreed, so here, for Debra—here, in fact, waving at Debra—a photo of TMK.

Knitting Knews
The two-handed, two-color, stranded, steeked, circular needle, Norwegian snowflake project (phew!!) has been resurrected. So far, so good. Havin' fun. No mistakes. Haven't been tempted to, yet again, FAS (Frog a Swatch). Picture on Monday, if TMK hasn't sneezed all over the camera.

We have a beeyooooootiful weekend in store for us here in the Great Northwest. What about everyone else? What'all are y'alls weekend plans?

Posted by Ryan at 09:55 AM | Comments (14)