Monday, August 30, 2010


One of the fiber clubs I joined this summer was a Percy Jackson club.  The colorways were inspired by characters from the books, and ancient myths (of course).  I only did the first run, as I was stretched a bit thin between fiber clubs by the time the second Percy round came along. I can still pick up the colorways, though, which is good.  There's Some yummy colors there.

The girls and I have been (slowly) reading the books together, so I allowed them to select their colors and I promised to knit the yarn up for them.  They both selected the Athena colorway, there were some very tough choices, and then we spent a good deal of time selecting just the right project.

After discussing Athena for a while, and browsing patterns (they wanted hats), we hit upon a pattern for an owl cable.  Perfectly fitting for Athena, if not for the color patterns in the yarn.  Eh.  So I fussed and fussed with the pattern, which called for worsted when all I had was fingering.  At some point, my brain cells started functioning properly and I doubled the yarn. Doh!  (Why is easy stuff so hard?!)  The hats then languished as I fiddled around with shawls and such. 

The guilt finally caught up to me, though, and a desire to get something done, and I finally got to knitting on the hats.  They weren't as fast as the baby bonnet, but they just flew by!  Get it?  Flew? Owls?  Oh.  I just kill me sometimes!   Of course, no matter how much they wanted the same hat, they wanted them different. So, one owl hat has silver beaded eyes, and the other has lilac eyes.  The show best when actually worn, but here's the photos anyway.


The girls love their hats.  In fact, the eldest rarely takes hers off.  She even tried to go to bed with it on the other night.  I can live with that.  As long as they take them off to shower, I guess we're all okay.  It is rewarding to knit something so instantly, and thoroughly, loved.  I've got plenty of yarn left for some mitts, I think.  So I might be adding some fingerless mitts to the collection, though I'm undecided on continuing the owl motif.  I have a pattern with the owls, though, so it does seem likely.

I've also cast on another Two-Fisted Tank from Pints & Purls.  The first one was in an alpaca blend. It was so lovely and soft and squishy I was really loving it.  But about 1/3 of the way through the top, I tried it on.  Once I was done loving the squishy softness of it, I was sad.  It is a ribbed tank, with negative ease, and that just doesn't work with the alpaca (70%) of the yarn.  It didn't say "I'm snugly fitting the shape in me".  It said, rather, "I am a soft, squishy formless glob, and don't even get me started on the body wearing me right now."  Sadz.

So, I removed it from the needles, pet it for a while and set it aside.  I need to re-skein the yarn, which will likely become a lovely snuggly scarf/hat, but I generally wait until I have lots of winding/skeining things to do before getting all that equipment out.  I ordered some Knit Picks Shine Worsted in Hollyberry, and cast on a new version Saturday night.  This is looking much more the thing, so they were right when they selected a cotton yarn. lol  I should not have deviated so far from the intended directions.  No.  I'm sure it would have worked in something with more body/memory.  There was just too much alpaca in the other yarn. 

Gratuitous shot of my new sink modeling my yarn. :)

My problem with the project, really, is in the gauge.  I cannot get gauge in a fabric I would want to wear. Why do pattern writers insisted upon gauge swatches done in 2X2 rib?!  Really?  Do you stretch that before measureing? Just a little? Hmmmm?  

In order to get the gauge, I have to go up so far in needle size my fabric is too loose and see through (not the look I was going for).  So, I'm staying with the fabric density I like and going up in size of pattern.  Fingers crossed that it will all work out in the end.  I don't fancy ripping this out again, but I am determined to knit up this little tank because it is cute and easy.  You can tell it is easy, right?  Because of all the work I'm putting into it up front. lol  If it were way beyond my skill level, I'm sure it'd be going much better for me.  That's just the way it works.

The summer school work is all done but the final draft of the final paper.  We should have that done today!   It is done now! W00T!  There is a whole 9 days left to just play with no obligation to any kind of work!  For her, anyway.  I've got to get things organized and cleaned and tidied, etc. :p

The work on the last bathroom continues.  He thought he'd be done yesterday (Sunday).  I think I'll be happy if he is done by Friday.  We'll see where we end up on that.  He did get my deck ripped out, though.  Which feels really good!  There was lots of dry rot out there, so I was very relived to see it all in a pile in my yard.  (pictures eventually)

Ah!  I am looking forward to a Fall with new bathrooms and a new deck!  And I've been watching football!  And brewing beer!  Man!  Does it get any better?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Winding Down

So I've spent pretty much the entire summer not doing what I thought I'd be doing.  Anyone else do that, too?  I can honestly say, however, that I don't feel like a failure. lol  Stuff got done, just not most of the stuff I had planned.

The eldest and I have slogged along completing courses for summer school.  We're still doing it, but we will finish this week.  If she will write the papers necessary to complete the Composition portion of her work.  I am most grateful that the math course finished up with topics that were much easier for her to grasp, generally speaking, than those we started with.  I'm also grateful that it did take us this long to finish.  She'll have a week or two off, and then get back to math again.  She'd like a permanent break, but at least it won't be so long that she'll forget everything.  Turns out that I really needed to set a rigorous schedule and hold to it no matter what.  None of that, 'you can have today off if you do double the lessons tomorrow' business.  That just doesn't work for us.  Maybe I'll remember that next year. 


Okay, I'm better now.  In other news, the youngest will be joining us at home this year.  I am certain this is the right thing for her in terms of learning, I have no idea if it is a good idea for her socially/emotionally.  I'm hopeful that having them both on the same schedule will allow us more freedom to take day trips to the zoo, or whatever, to break up the sense of being stuck at home.  Also, they are going to take a Musical Theatre class for homeschoolers, so in addition to the Hip Hop class, they'll be getting out and doing stuff with other kids (plus the play days with their daycare friends). 

I plan to do more homebrewing, and perhaps that will help me cope with having both of them with me 24/7.  We'll see.

We refinanced our house this spring and got a home equity loan to make some necessary repairs to our home.  I've needed to get a little plumbing work done in one bathroom so that I could re-caulk the bathtub in the other bathroom. When asking around for plumber recommendations, I found out our daycare provider's son is a plumber (and general contractor).  He is hoping to start his own business, and is looking for opportunities to do some extra work to satisfy union requirements.  We are happy to help him with that goal. lol  So, for the money I originally earmarked for potential costs on bathroom repair, I'm getting both bathrooms updated.  I am so happy with the work he's doing I may end up moving into one of them when he's done. Seriously.  The difference is amazing and I am really, really happy.  Of course, I want to do the kitchen now, but that is NOT an option.  I can just dream. For now.

We have a deck out back that is officially unsafe, really.  I've been waiting on Himself to get it replaced (doing it himself with friends or hiring out) for 3 years.  Turns out, our contractor can do the deck, too.  So, that's next on the list and I'm taking care of it.  I'm done waiting on Himself. 

We also set aside $ to replace the carpet and paint the outside of the house.  I'm not sure the budget is going to stretch that far by the time we're done (it was all based on estimates/guestimates anyway), but I've decided to go with the carpet if I only get to get one done.  My reason?  Well, the house paint is really bugging Himself, but I know that if I don't get the carpet done this time, it won't happen.  The paint will happen next year, even if we have to wait, because it is really bothering him.  Selfish?  Yes.  But I'm applying what I've learned from the deck experience.  If it doesn't annoy him, it won't get fixed.  The carpet doesn't bother him enough to get him to replace it.  But seriously, white carpet with two kids (now 8 & 10)?  It is nothing like white anymore, and doesn't really even resemble any exotic animals I can think of off hand, either.

I'll get photos of the updates done eventually, but so far, the ones I've taken haven't looked very good.  I'm working on it.  It is hard to take good pictures in a tiny space (bathrooms).

In knitting, I finished up a bunch of small things, cast on far too many new things and did a reasonable amount of spinning for Tour de Fleece.  (Just a small sample of what I did.  I never got around to photos of the other yarn I got spun up.)  This yarn is from Dreams In Fiber for her The Dark Is Rising (by Susan Cooper) fiber club. This series was one of my favorites as a child, and I still enjoy them very much.  This set jof fiber was for the Over Sea, Under Stone book.  The shipments are alternating fiber/yarn, which is fun.  I'm not yet drowning in fiber.  Not that I'd complain, mind you.

Of course, after TdF, I bought more fiber.  I should really pause the next time I decide to join a fiber club.  You know, just long enough to consider what I'm actually doing.  Maybe just space them out more, or something.

Small knitted things include a baby hat, knit on a whim for a friend at church.  Very cute and FAST.  I really should reconsider knitting for babies, I suppose.  Here is the Perry the Platypus Inaction Figure (it doesn't do anything!) modeling the Marshmallow Bonnet.

A couple of Jayne Hats done, and an extra for a friend to give to her son for his upcoming b-day.  One traditional (orange/yellow), and one in dream inspired colors.  I love it when I dream about simple knitting.  It is the complicated stuff that gets me.  Now if only the rest of that dream would..., erm, nevermind.

The two shawls continue, slowly, but surely.  I'm still enjoying them, but the time I have available to concentrate on them is limited, so progress is slow.

Ah well, brief update, now back to school.

Monday, May 03, 2010

More lace

So here's my next Lace Folly.  This is the end of Clue 1 in the Evenstar Mystery Shawl KAL, by Susan Pandorf.  Why on earth I thought signing up for a Mystery Shawl KAL for another circular shawl was a good idea, I may never know.  I mean, the original one only took 2 years, right?  Why not?

This one is different, though.  This one is LOTR themed, which = cool and it appeals to my inner (and outer) geek.  Evenstar.  It is a KAL ( Knit-A-Long), so there are lots of other folks out there involved and there's a whole group of people to talk to about it as we go.  The Sock Scarefest was a fun KAL, so I thought this one might be, too.  It is a mystery shawl, so the designer sends out the next chart every two weeks.  I'm all about mysteries.

As you can see, lots of motivation to give it a try.  So, I signed up.  This KAL actually spurred on the finish of the Pi.  I wouldn't let myself start this shawl until the other one was done.  So, that worked well for me.  Then I decided to splurge on the recommended yarn from The Unique Sheep, Eos laceweight.  Then I decided to not only try their gradience colors, but I ordered a custom colorway.  That part worked out really well.  I love the colors and Kelly (at TUS) liked it so much, she says they might add it as a permanent choice and call it Midnight Special.  The colors may not show well, so it runs from a rather bright denim-ish blue (in back) to a very lovely purple (up front).  

The part that didn't work well?  Oh, that would be the backorder on the yarn because so many people ordered it.  There are 1000 people in this KAL, though not all of them are probably KAL-ing along right now.  Not all of them ordered the recommended yarn, either, but enough of them did so that they had to re-stock before the KAL kicked off.  Even so, there were quite a number of us who were waiting on their yarn and didn't get to start with everyone else.

I put the time to good use.  That's when I was finishing the edging and doing repairs on my Pi.  Now, the last clue (#7) comes out this week, and I'm still on Clue 2.  I'm feeling pretty optimistic, however.  There were a number of clever people in this KAL who started knitting before the ink was dry on the copies of the charts/written instructions.  They have sorted out the (very few) problems, and have posted helpful links and tips on how to manage some very tricky stitches.  Additionally, there are some lovely people who are obsessively (I say this with love and understanding) symmetrical who worked out some alternate stitches to adjust the way some motifs leaned in the lace.  You know, so the leaves are balanced, etc.  These were optional, of course, but with the side-by-side photos available to browse while waiting on my yarn, I was able to decide what I liked best and make notes on my charts where I wanted to do something different.

As a result of this incredibly well-planned approach to this shawl (comparing to the first Pi), this baby is soooooooooooooo easy.  I mean, there are some stitches that are challenging for me, make no mistake, but the challenge now is fitting my needle in the stitch to do a kfb7 - k3tog without dropping 6 stitches as I make the last (7th) one, not in figuring out what the heck it is.  I did have to rip everything out. Twice.  That was totally me with some dropped stitches and I wanted another go at it from the beginning to try to avoid ladders.  Then I ripped part of the 1st clue three times as I kept dropping blasted stitches in the same stinking row, and I'm pretty sure in the same stinking place. 

I finally made it, however, and in the process decided to change needle size as well.  I have to say, I LOVE this yarn!  The pattern is beautiful, and I cannot wait to see how this turns out.  My dear friends who are LOTR GEEKS are going to love it, too, but you'll have to settle for pictures.  This puppy is mine!  So, naturally, I signed up for her entire LOTR series of patterns.  sigh  Because my obsession is completing a series.  I don't have to knit them all, but I do have to have the patterns in my collection.

My obsessive collecting is also leaking over into my video life.  Again.  I've tried to avoid it for a while now, but I finally splurged on some DVDs to complete one series collection I've been dragging on.  It is tough to justify because the kids can't watch it with me, so I've fallen behind on watching it.  But. I. Must. Have. It.  So, since we got our tax money in, and Himself spent some on music for himself (heh, Himself/himself), I figured I could do the same, even if I don't get to watch them all as they come in.  Of course, there are other series out there that I also "need", but so far, I'm feeling pretty good about just having the one done.

School is going well, but a bit slow.  We are so far behind in math we will be doing it all summer.  The up side of that is that I think if she had a summer off, she'd forget everything she managed to learn this year.  So, perhaps the summer-long work on math will help her be/stay prepared for the next school year.  We are signing up to do this again next year, and I am still undecided about the youngest joining us.  She's all for it, but I'm not sure it will work with her.  I'm taking the summer to decide.  Other classes, though, are going well and are more or less on target for completion at the right date.  You know, assuming she doesn't just totally drag her feet.  One recent stroke of luck for us was the volcano in Iceland blowing right when we started in on plate techtonics and volcanoes.  Thanks Iceland!  I was happy, however, that we made it through the earthquake chapter without any personal demonstrations.

Ah well, now.  Back to school!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Let's not dwell

Rather than dwell on how long it's been since I last posted, I think I'll just move along with a post.  The dwelling has actually kept me from posting anything new for at least a month, already.

My big news is that I finally finished the blasted Pi Shawl! On March 19 at 10:10 pm, to be exact.  It was quite a happy moment.  The blocking was another interesting first for me, and went reasonably well, but I think I learned from that as well.  So without further ado...

However.  After blocking, I noticed some weird holes in places just slightly out of alignment with where they should have been.  So.  I decided to try to make adjustments to the stitches to close those up a bit.  That took about 10 hours, or so.  I think. 

I'm still not sure if the weird holes are due to: A) misplaced stitches (yarn overs), B) the way I moved the stitches along the needles as I knit (putting too much tension in the stitches by letting them pile up, or get pulled along at an uneven pace), or C) failing to move my stitch counters at some critical point which cause the end of the pattern to be off by a few stitches (which is sort of like misplaced stitches, but different in how they got there).

I don't think I'll ever know for sure, but the amount of time spent on the attempted repairs has taught me to be much more cautious in the future!  I'm pretty sure I've learned that, at least.  I've taken close-up pictures of the before repairs, and after repairs, and I will take more after it has been soaked and blocked again.  Then I'll post them.  Hopefully sooner than four months from now.  The nagging problem remaining is that my stitches no longer look even in the sections that were repaired.  Before they were even, but there were big holes.  Hmmm.  Which will be more noticable?  I just don't know.  Maybe that will block out, at least a little.  I will always see the errors, I guess.

Still, on the bright side, I've learned a lot from this whole project that will make my next project go much more smoothly.  I'm not sorry I did it, just sorry I jumped in without all the information I needed to do a better job of it.  Oh well.  I've never been one to look for an "easy" first project.  Oh looky, the deep end!  Let's go there first!  LOL  That's me.

So.  Where have I been?  Well, homeschooling, too much time on Ravelry and on the Wii I got for Christmas.  In my defense, I got the Wii Fit Plus.  It. Rocks.  I hate exercise.  Do. Not. Like It.  I've done classes, videos, tried just getting out and walking, etc.  Nothing sticks.  I don't enjoy it and the least little thing gets me to stop.  The Wii?  I'm loving it!  The days I'm not on it are upsetting to me.  Yes.  I think it is still me looking back from the mirror saying "I love my Wii".  It could be a clone, though I haven't seen any pods lying around.  I'm up to a 30 minute jog and a 10 minute Super Hoola-Hoop session every day + some yoga and strength exercises.  But then, I bought Walk It Out, and now I can't stop walking in my house.  Seriously.  I average 4.2-5.2 miles. Every. Day.  Sadly, I don't do both the Fit Plus and the WIO every day, it is an either/or thing. 

Have I lost weight?  Heck no.  In fact, I think I've gained.  But I can tell that my legs (in particular) are firming up, so I am losing fat.  At least in my legs.  My blue jeans seem to be fitting a bit differently.  I do feel miles better, have more energy (in general) and I get all twitchy and upset if I can't get on my Wii every day.  It is insane.  But, I am grateful for the insanity and I am embracing it in the hopes that it will turn into a habit that I can live with and maybe even build on.  You know, actually get exercise outside?  Where all the pollen and other allergens are?  Crazy, huh?  I did four hours of yard work last week and didn't even feel it the next day.  I wouldn't believe it if I couldn't see all the cleared out berry bushes and short lawn out there. LOL  I'm pretty sure the pixies didn't do it.

Additional benefit: my formerly broken leg is working/feeling better after a few months on the Wii than it has felt in the tw years since I broke it.  The balance programs and exercises are building up those little muscles that have so far escaped strengthening.  That alone is worth the price of the Wii. 

Disclaimer:  I do not work for Wii.  I am merely a very satisfied (and somewhat giddy) customer.

Next time, I'll tell you about my new lace project.  I will simply say:  I am an idiot. :)