Friday, November 24, 2006

Where Did November Go?

So, in my last post I announced Icarus had been banished, Clapotis had been pulled from retirement, the Jaywalkers were complete, and the *b-Marie* socks were underway. Much has happened since that day, and it also seems that I owe some eye candy, so here goes...

First, here, on the right, are my completed Socktoberfest Pomatomus socks. Scout created the colorway, and I've absolutely enjoyed wearing my autumnal socks made from her fabu yarn over the last month. I may even keep them around through the winter!

Next, on the left, are those pesky Jaywalkers in Lisa Souza's Joseph's Coat colorway. I must say I enjoyed knitting the first one, but the second one definitely led to second sock syndrome. It's a great pattern from Grumperina, and I'm glad I tried it. It will probably be my only pair of Jaywalkers though, because I'm finding them a bit baggy in the ankles for my liking. They make great lounging socks though--absolutely lovely with my jammies!

I scored some awesome Koigu in the mail from Yarnzilla last Friday. It was destined for Maude, and I raced home from piano lessons with the Roo before heading back out to a birthday party that evening just so I could check the mail. I spent my time at the party avoiding small children and swatching for Maude. The other parents looked envious because I had something to do. They should learn to knit too!

The Roo and I have co-opted a phrase from the movie Over the Hedge to explain how we feel about Koigu. You have to check out Hammy the squirrel. He has a great line in the movie that he utters in a childishly sweet voice when he wants a treat that has been taken away: "But I love the cookie." After we both oohed and ahhed over the Koigu in its box and lovingly petted it, we looked at each other, and almost immediately said together, "But I love the Koigu." The Roo does almost a perfect imitation of Hammy, and it completely sums up our love for my new yarn. I know I have created another yarn addict in exposing my youngster to Koigu at such a tender age, but it's better that she develop an appreciation for luscious yarns than be stuck in forced acrylic ignorance as I was at her age. It's my prerogative as her mom and knitting mentor!

Now for this week! Each year, the teachers at my school are required to attend the regional ACSI conference in Anaheim. It always falls during Thanksgiving week, and school is closed for the entire week to accomodate our trip. The students all get homework to make up for the 2 or 3 days they miss because we're out of town and growing as professionals. The DCA and the kids meet me in Anaheim on the closing day of the conference, and we usually spend the next day at Disneyland riding as many roller coasters as possible.

As you can see, my Clapotis is finished. It went along in the car on the way up to Anaheim on Sunday, and kept me occupied during the two general sessions and four seminars I attended on Monday. I finished dropping all the stitches Monday night at the school staff dinner and wove in all the ends afterwards in the hotel. As a reward, I actually wore it Tuesday because it coordinated well with the sweater I packed for that day. The Lisa Souza Silk Merino is toasty, and I would use it again for another project. My only wish is that the colors were more evenly matched between the skeins. They are all from the same dyelot and dyed on the same day, but each skein was slightly different from the others. I know it's due to the vagaries of hand-painted yarn, and I also know I could have fixed it by knitting a few rows with each skein and carrying the yarn up the back. I just didn't see how it would work very well with the edge on Clapotis. I'll just toss it casually over my shoulder, have a croissant, and worry about something else, like whether or not I will ever finish Icarus.

I did cast on my *b-marie* yarn in the Snicket pattern, and got about halfway through the cuff on sock #1. That's about where I decided the pattern and the yarn just weren't a good match. I couldn't see the lattice pattern, because it kept getting lost in the stripes. I have opted for a plain vanilla sock instead, which I like very much! They remind me of zebras! I started this pair on Monday night while I was in Anaheim. They provided me much entertainment during the Tuesday general session, and they kept me from being overly frustrated with the lines during our annual trip to Disneyland on Wednesday. I think I'll use Snicket for the skein of Socks That Rock County Clare that's calling to me from the sock yarn stash...

So after a long day at Disneyland on Wednesday, we headed home on Thursday morning and managed to avoid all those crazy Thanksgiving Eve drivers on the I-5. Maude was born as we drove out of Anaheim. It is a quick and rhythmic knit, and I am enjoying every stitch. She seems a bit small, as I mentioned before, but I have never been good at gauging the size of a shawl as it grows. I'm hoping she grows by leaps and bounds in the next several repeats. I do, however, have an extra skein of my yummy Koigu just in case I need to make Maude a bit wider than the pattern calls for.

After all this, I wake up today and realize it's the DCA's birthday, 22 days until the Moose's birthday, and 31 days until Christmas. I'm glad I got a lot of Christmas knitting done this summer, because I would probably be panicking that November is fading fast. Now I just have to be a responsible knitter and put the handmade gifts in the mail. There's still plenty of time for that, right?

I may be scarce again next week too, because I have to grade all that home study work I assigned and the first trimester ends Friday. There's nothing like last-minute grading and report cards to eat up all my knitting time. I might have to be teacher-y and responsible during my planning time at school this week just so I can grab some moments of sanity with my sticks and string here at home. Maude will make it all better!

The Maude Button

I tried lifting the header to the Maude Along as a button to post on my page, but I can't separate it from the background. Instead, I'm using a bit of Courtney's picture from the Maude pattern. It should be a tribute to her anyway, because she did such a great job designing the pattern. I am having a blast knitting this up. Stay tuned to hear all about it in my next post!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I Don't Think So!

So, I took the "What American Accent Do You Have?" quiz I found over on Cara's blog. It says I have a Midland accent. I know this isn't scientific, or anything, but you can definitely tell it must not be designed by a linguist. Anyone who knows me will tell you I have a Southeastern accent! Just ask the students in my class. I suppress it most of the time, but they just love it when I go visit the church secretary--she's from Alabama--and I return sounding like a highly educated Scarlett O'Hara. Obviously, my results must be skewed.

I liked the Female Literary Character quiz I found over on Wendy's page much better. This week:

I'm Marianne Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen!

Last week I was Beth March--I must have been feeling overly kind and generous that day. Not that it's a bad thing.

Enough with the quizzes!

I have banished Icarus to the stash temporarily. I'm just too frightened of running out of yarn to deal with it right now. Instead, I have pulled Clapotis out of semi-retirement and am zooming away on it. It is so relaxing and rhythmic to me for some reason. I may even stick this one out to the bitter end!

I pulled out my *b-marie* yarn from the Indie Swag club and started knitting a new pair of socks. I'm trying Snicket to see if I can see the raised cabling in the stripes. So far it's looking okay.

I really need to find the camera and take some pictures. The site is looking kind of bare lately!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Just Say Thank You

It's Veterans Day here in the U.S., so I found a little something over on Wikipedia about the holiday. Be sure to check out the Department of Veterans Affairs page too, for even more info.

"Veterans Day is an American holiday for honoring living war vetarans. It is celebrated on the same day as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day in other parts of the world, falling on November 11, the anniversary of the signing of the armistice that ended World War I. It is both a federal holiday and a state holiday in all states. All major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918 with the German signing of the Armistice. Armistice Day was first commemorated in the United States by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919, and many states made it a legal holiday. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 inviting all Americans to observe the day and made it a legal holiday nationwide in 1938."

But, wait! There's more! (The emphasis is mine.)

"The day has since evolved as a time for honoring living veterans who have served in the military during wartime or peacetime, partially to complement Memorial Day, which primarily honors the dead. There has been some discussion of whether a person's veteran status depends upon his/her retirement or discharge from any of the armed forces. However, the term applies to any that have honorably served their country or that have served in a war zone as directed by their superior officers or as directed by lawful orders given by their country."

No matter what your politics may be in this time of conflict, take some time today, or any day, to say thank you to someone who has served in the military. When the U.S. military became an all-volunteer force in the 1970s, every veteran since then has willingly and voluntarily sacrificed his or her time in the service of our nation. Many still walk that line every day. They did this for their country, and they did it for you. Please show them the appreciation they deserve, and thank them for their service. They will be so glad you did.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Sock's Day Out

Please excuse me while I totally steal a page from Stephanie's book on traveling socks.

Today was a federal holiday and the school was closed, so we took the kids to the zoo. I, of course, took the sock in progress (which is STILL Jaywalker #2).

Here's what good ol' Jay got to see:

These are the zoo's polar bears play fighting for their human audience. No, I don't know how that extra hand got in there--it's not one of ours. The sock was rather frightened by this ursine display, so it stayed hidden in my knitting bag.

This was Round 2, even though it looks like the bears have kissed and made up. The DCA took both of these, because the kids and I had no chance of making our way through the wall-to-wall people to get close enough to the glass. Both pictures happened by chance when the bears just sort of "plopped" in front of him.

And, here we have the sock's favorite moment of the day--its pose with the camelids.

Yep, believe it or not, those are real, live Guanacos and relatives of those lovely Alpacas and Llamas we all adore. Yes, that's my hand, and no, I didn't knit the sweater--it was a steal at L.L. Bean.

The sock grew somewhat today on its wanderings around the park. Icarus grew this afternoon too. I think tomorrow will be a sock day, because I am growing weary of Jaywalker, and I'm itching to cast on in my *b-marie* from Scout. (I stole the photo from Karen's blog, because I'm too lazy to take my own picture.)

Don't forget to stop to thank a veteran tomorrow!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Almost Finished Object

My chunky sweater is finished, and it's...well...chunky. I love the color, and I love the softness, but here in SoCal, I may not need such a toasty sweater. Does anyone in a cold location want me to come visit?

I started sewing up the sweater on Monday, but I didn't use the Yosemite like I planned. My borrowed copy of the Yarn Girls' Guide said I should use a different yarn from the one in the sweater, so I went stash diving to find something that would work. I have decided that sewing in a sleeve is a "major pain in the wuckus" as my friend would say. It's enough to make me stick with socks, shawls, and raglans.

I must say, however, that sewing up straight seams is quite gratifying as you see two edges of knitting begin to merge together to become an apparently seamless piece of fabric--until you look at the back anyway.

I still need to weave in all the ends, and then I'll try to get a picture up this weekend. I should have plenty of time in between trips to the zoo, a friend's dinner party, our worship service, and some random church meetings on Sunday. Stop laughing! Okay, go ahead, I've probably giggled enough at the grandiose plans of others.

The Moose wants to play Cadoo, so I'm off to dig out Icarus and to entertain my darling boy.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Notes from the Underground, Part 3

We bring you another special report from HoyaGirl who has lived through 3 weeks of media deprivation somewhere in California...

Oct. 30: Day 15 of the Media Fast
Today was our anniversary, and I got the coolest present! The DCA bought me the KnitPicks Options Needle Set so I have really good circular needles to play with. The first thing I did was hook up the size 4 points and shift Icarus over from the bamboo circs. These needles are delicious! The points are perfect for working with Carol’s laceweight, and I am speeding through yet another pattern repeat. If you don’t have this set, you really need to add it to your wish list for Christmas!

Oct. 31: Day 16
We don’t do trick-or-treating in our house. There are only 3 kids on our street, so we don’t stay home in our own neighborhood. Instead, we take off after dinner and head to one of the local churches for their Halloween alternatives. This year, we went to the Around the World Trunk or Treat near our own church. The kids got just enough candy to make them happy, and they got to play some games with a few of their school friends. I spent the evening knitting Jaywalker #2 while we walked around. The sock received many compliments, and several people were tickled by the biblical name, Joseph’s Coat, of my Lisa Souza yarn.

Nov. 1: Day 17
The color is pooling badly on the leg of the Jaywalker. I don’t know if it’s my knitting or the yarn, but I’m pretty sure it’s my knitting. I must be doing something VERY different this time around. I’m even starting to wonder if my stitch count is correct.

Nov. 2: Day 18
The Moose had an orthodontist appointment today, so I took advantage of the office’s location and stopped by my LYS. I picked up enough Yosemite chunky yarn to work on a funnel-necked sweater from the Yarn Girls’ Guide to Simple Knits. The yarn is in the Peacock colorway and has all the gorgeous purple, green, and blue jewel tones that I adore. I did gauge swatches on U.S. size 11 and U.S. size 13 needles, and I thought U.S. size 13 might work the best. I worked through about half of the first skein tonight, and I can see why it’s a simple knit. It is working up very fast!

Nov. 3: Day 19
I was speeding through the leg of Jaywalker #2 today, and I reached the point at which I needed to start the heel flap. I put the two socks side by side, and I found the problem with #2! I must have been knitting much tighter this time around since the stitch counts match. The second sock was ¼ to ½ inch narrower in circumference than the first one. That’s a big difference, and I’m sure it’s what caused the pooling. I did what I thought was unthinkable and ripped back the sock. It was painful, but they were so different, and I knew I couldn’t live with them. It was a frogging kind of day, because I also ripped back the sweater. The fabric on U.S. size 13s was turning out to be too stiff for my liking. After dinner, the DCA took me down to Michael’s and I picked up a pair of U.S. size 15s. I knit one entire skein this evening, and I’m over halfway to the armholes on the front. It needed to be done, because now my gauge is perfect and the fabric is a bit looser. I think it will make the sweater more comfortable in the end.

Nov. 4: Day 20
Today’s projects will include Icarus and the new sweater. I think the sweater will garner most of the attention, because I need some instant gratification after the Pomatomus socks and the frogged Jaywalker. I did see a completed Icarus in my visit to the yarn store on Thursday, and that has inspired me to spend a bit more time with my shawl. I can’t wait until I get to play with the edging!

Nov. 5: Day 21
I finished the back and almost the entire front of the new sweater yesterday. Today, I finished the front and both sleeves. I’m still wondering if I really should block such a chunky yarn or not. I have pseudo-blocked the edges by dampening them, steaming them with the iron, and then letting them air-dry. I just didn’t do all the parts. Does it really make a difference? Aren’t the edges the most important things when you have gauge AND the pieces are exactly the same size? Who knows? I’ll let you know how the stitching up goes. The most irritating thing about the whole sweater is that I reached the end of a skein two rows (two, count ‘em, just two) rows before I was supposed to bind off the second sleeve. Don’t you hate when that happens??? I guess the new skein will be for the sewing up!

After a long absence from the Internet, regular blog entries, visits, and comments will resume on Nov. 6! Hooray!