Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lots of brews and knitting, too!

Last weekend was the Washington Beer Festival, the annual event for Father's Day at our house. As you can see, I lost a child, but gained a puppy. lol

This year, I just parked a chair in the full sun (because who needs shade while sitting around watching the kids play?) and let the kids play on all the bouncy equipment as long as they wanted. I figured it would be less annoying to just sit and let them go than it would be to trek back and forth from where the rest of the group was sitting (in the shade!). I was right, but I got burned for the pleasure. Not too bad, but I can't believe I forgot the sunscreen. I mean, so what if it was raining on the drive down? I should have packed it anyway, I just forgot.

I will say that my favorite beer(s), I didn't try as many as I intended, was from Northern Light Brewing (Spokane, WA) and was called Black and Blue. I'd put in a link, but they don't seem to have one. Anyway, they mix their Chocolate Dunkel and their Blueberry Cream Ale as they pour (like a black & tan, but without the seperating). Both are excellent on their own, and the blending is sublime! They had the longest line I saw all day Saturday. It never seemed to get any shorter, though it did move pretty quickly. In fact, I'm not sure I saw a line anything approaching the length of this one for any other brewer. Nice job, folks.

It looks like there were a number of Friday Only beers that were pretty outstanding, according to folks I talked to around the event, but we didn't go on Friday (no kids allowed for Fri night). We're thinking about maybe going on Friday next year, just to try it, but I don't know. It is sort of a family thing for us. Although, this year we split up and that was not quite so "family". We'll see.

On the knitting side of life, I've been a busy little, erm, knitter. Yay, me!
First up are the two fish hats I knit for the Cafeteria Lady at the girls' school. She requested red, white & blue, so I pulled this mix out of the stash and (eventually) got knitting. I wanted them to be obviously different so that if one of them dropped their hat in the river, or on the catch of the day, it would be easy to know which one needed to be washed. I could just see them sniffing the hats trying to find the least smelly and then fighting over ownership or something. lol These folks are serious fishers, so you just don't know.

I increased the number of stitches cast on and then pretty much followed the pattern. I had more stitches on the needle when I got to the tail, though I did extra decreases, and I made the fins a little bit bigger. I thought they fit the scale of the hat a bit better. I added some increases in the last row of the dorsal and pectoral fins for a bit of a curve in the fins, just for the heck of it. I used Cascade 220 Superwash, so they can be easily washed. Cafeteria Lady was delighted with the hats and was very excited to take them home and show her DH. So, it was worth it. Any time a knitted item is received with that much enthusiasm, it makes it all worth it, doesn't it?

I really struggled getting them done, though. In addition to the usual boredom of knitting two items from the same pattern back-to-back, there were other fun adventures. I ran out of red yarn with ONE red fin left to go. Yep. Only needed enough for, oh, say, 300 stitches. Oh well, now I have red for something else. Also, the end of the year is very busy for volunteers at school. There were field trips, Field Day, and just the usual helping. We were really busy with extra events after school, as well. Still, I'm glad I knit them, she really loves them. It also seems to have been very important to DD1 that: someone else asked me to knit something; I did knit it; the very nice lady was so very excited about it. I'm not sure what is in her head, but I'm glad it made her happy too.

My second knitting triumph is that I finally finished the Bellatrix socks. I cast these puppies on April 18, 2008. I tried knitting them while talking and drinking beer. That was not a good idea and I really, really struggled with this pattern. I put them in hibernation. When I picked them up a month or so ago, they were so easy! I can't believe all the struggle I had with these! Okay, I can. I think I know what happened in the past year to change my relationship with Bellatrix.

First off, I cast on the Pi Shawl. While that one has been a struggle, I have learned a bit about dropping stitches, effective YOs and so forth, and that helped out with tricksy Bellatrix. While I am far from finishing the Pi, it has less to do with understanding lace and more to do with how stinking long it takes to do a single row and the fact that I cannot be distracted while knitting it. That means it doesn't get as much of my knit time as I would like. Though, I'm even getting better with the Pi knitting.

Secondly, I did that Scarefest KAL last Fall. While I didn't complete every pair, I did knock out, what, three pairs of socks? So, I gained some valuable sock experience and confidence. These two things worked together to make Bellatrix fly on the needles this time around. You know, when I got done with fish hats.

I'm really glad she's done, though, so I can wear these socks for movie #5 next month. Not that anyone will likely see them, and I'm rooting for the "other team" (not the Death Eaters), but I'll know they are on my feet and I'll be pleased at my fan geekness.

These socks, since it has been a while, were knit using Scout's Swag in the Death Eaters colorway on US size #2 circs (Knit Picks Options), 2 socks on 2 circs. The yarn was very yummy and squishy and the socks feel great on my feet. If you look closely, you can see that the way the color flowed in the socks is sort of a weird mirror. The color pattern on the front of one sock matches the pattern on the back of the other sock. I kind of like it that way, but it is interesting how that worked out.

I've find myself in a staring contest with the Pi Shawl now. I need another project, though. The Pi takes too much of my undivided attention, so I need something a little less demanding to go with it. I've been looking at UFOs. I found one (so far) that I had totally forgotten about. I mean, I remembered the yarn, just not that it was actually on my needles. It is a fingering alpaca in a denim blue sort of color. I was going to make a scarf, but couldn't come up with anything I liked all that well. I think I spent weeks fiddling around with it. I finally came up with something do-able, but put it away for some other project and poof. Out of sight, out of mind.

Yeah. I ripped that out.

I also found an illusion scarf I started, got through one repeat. I also found that the place I had marked on the chart as my starting point did not match the number of rows I was able to count. We're talking a 12 row difference. Hmmm. What to do, what to do. Oh, I know! Riiiiiiiiiiip.

I love the yarn, but this scarf is not going to happen either. So. That leaves me with an unfinished Harry Potter scarf and the Blue Sweater that has been done for a while. I'm really surprised, but that is the extent of my UFOs. I mean, there are yarns purchased for specific projects, but nothing else actually on the needles. Wow! The Blue Sweater that didn't fit the way I liked. The one I was going to Learn to Modify so that it would fit. Or lose weight. Yep. So. I haven't ripped it out yet. But I might. In the meantime, I think I'll play with the HP scarf. It fits a theme, finishing my HP UFOs. Though, I'm not wearing the scarf to the movie. In July. Even if I finish it by then. My inner geek will just have to deal with it.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Yarn Badness, but in a good way

What I mean is, the characters the colorways are based on are bad. They yarn is excellent yumminess! This here yarn is Debbie Pelt, and exclusive colorway for the yarn club, from Fresh From The Cauldron. (Please note my nice Southern-ism of "this here". Ahem.) Ms. Pelt is a very nasty, conniving werewolf in Charliane Harris' Southern vampire mysteries. But, she is a lovely, lovely colorway. I'm a bit sad I only ordered one of her. She is on a silk sock base and is very nice to pet. Fortunately, this Ms. Pelt has no teeth or claws, just yummy squishiness.

Then there's the Volturi. Another club exclusive, based on the Volturi in the Twilight saga. (Yes. I read it. My favorite comment on it so far is: I cried when I read it because I could feel part of my brain dying. It wasn't that bad, but it did hurt sometimes.) The Volturi are dyed up on a Silver Sock base, so lots of nice sparkles, like all those Twilight vamps in the sunshine. I think my photo did a better job of highlighting the sparkle than the colors, but the colors are lovely too.

I still have no idea what my lovely vamp yarns will grow up to be, but they are looking all nice sitting in their little basket together. I'm browsing lots of patterns, and a few have caught my attention, but since I'm not ready to cast anything on yet, I'm not too worried.

I have turned the dreaded heel (not that I really dread them) and have made a few rows' progress into the foot of the Bellatrix socks (sorry, no pics today). Sadly, I must get two more fish hats done (for the cafeteria lady and her DH) by the 19th. These really go so quickly. You know, if you actually sit down and knit. Funny how that works.

She has requested red/white/blue hats, so I thought I'd do one with red fins/lips and the other with blue fins/lips. That way they can tell them apart if one of them drops the hats into a pile of fish. They apparently fish competitively, so the hats will be load of funs for them. I'm making these out of Cascade superwash, so they can clean them up if needed.

Here is the gaping maw of the first hat. I'm now about halfway through the body. I've increased the number of stitches I cast on (from 90 to 110) to better accomodate a grown-up head. I was not hitting gauge for the original, but it didn't matter too much for the kids. It does matter for adults.

I'm loaded up a bunch of movies to stream from Netflix (on my Xbox), but I've been too distracted by reading lately. This past week I completed The Dracula Dossier, Sister Pelagia and the White Bulldog, Heaven Preserve Us, Bloodline and Bloodline Book Two: The Reckoning. I think that's it. Sister Pelagia and the Dossier were the slower going books. Both done in a more 19th ce style, with footnotes, and the Pelagia had all the Russian names to slow me down. Still, all were a great read. I also started the Maltese Falcon, but had to return it (no renewals as it was a book club sort of thing at the library). I have Hammit around somewhere, so I shall probably track it down at a later date.

The most noticable effect of all the reading is a tendency to lapse into a more formal late 19th - early 20th century sort of vocabulary/wording. Anyone else do this? I'm so sensitive to accents & manners of speech, I pick them up quickly. Such a geek! It was made all the worse, I suspect, by watching A Midsummer Night's Dream yesterday afternoon. I'd better go read something more "normal" quickly. My kids will be quite desperate for a dictionary at this rate, and my newly-turned 7 year old hasn't tried using one before. I guess there's a nice project for us this summer. Learn to use a dictionary. What kid wouldn't want to do that? lol