Friday, June 27, 2008

thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk....

... that is the soundtrack of the day chez Sock Knitters. It's been an eventful week in which the Fool and I have been doing our part to support the roofing industry. On Monday, a roofing company came and replaced the rotting cedar roof on the garage with a new, not-rotting asphalt roof.
They did such a good job that today, they are on the roof of the house, right above my head, fixing some leaks around the chimney, which is good, because leaky roofs are bad and make us tense.
So hooray that - except for the pounding and the thumping and the noises that I swear are these guys beating rocks on the roof for no good reason.
The cats are hiding somewhere and definitely not speaking to me, a condition I expect will last until about dinnertime.
So to take the edge off, I started some new socks which do not use any variation of the Nutkin pattern. They're in Socks that Rock, the pattern with the linen stitch cuff, "Rock n' Weave," I think. I love this colorway. It's perfect for slightly frazzled nerves and it will be more perfect if I take it downstairs, sit on the couch and watch Dr. Who.
These roofers are so loud they have prevented me from taking in-focus pictures. Grrr.

Monday, June 23, 2008

We didn't suck

The Fool and I survived the Bishop Hill Midsommar Music Festival, at which we not only played for a contra dance (easy part), but played a hour-long concert in the park (hard part). We both sang and played tunes, and the song he decided to learn in Scots Gaelic (because singing in English is too easy) went off really well.

And I didn't die of stage fright. Which was my main concern, because singing in public makes me a little nervous. We both found the concert part of the day a little easier than the first time we did one of these, which is good, because we're doing another concert July 20 (the final stop on the Cosmic Otters Pre Partum Tour.)

We were a little worried on the way down because we managed to get stuck behind a gigantic organized motorcycle ride. I kept trying to take pictures that conveyed an idea of the scope of this thing -- hundreds of bikers, literally -- but every time I did, I got a photo with one biker in it, usually waving to me. This is the best one. You can't quite see it, but the line of bikers stretches all along the exit ramp, up over the highway and off into the distance on the overpass.

Part of what made the gig so easy was that the Bishop Hill Midsommar Music Festival is a great deal of fun. Bishop Hill is a beautiful little town near Galesburg, Ill., and the concert is in the town's park, which is green and filled with big trees.

(Chicago folksinger and really nice guy Mark Dvorak preceded us - ulp!)

The restaurants in town serve homemade pies and the bakery has homemade baked goods that I doubt have had anything to do with one of the big foodservice suppliers, and when we got sandwiches to eat before our set, they came on homemade Swedish rye bread.

(The Bishop Hill bakery - great ginger cookies and lingonberry orange muffins.)

The town itself was founded by Swedish settlers who came to the United States to escape religious persecution and many of the buildings are the original ones they built.

(Tunes on the porch of the town museum.)

(Abe Lincoln takes a bow. The guy sitting on the board carved this little limberjack and also plays banjo.)

At the end of the afternoon, a Swedish heritage group in town leads Maypole dancing.

We were busy jamming on a porch, and then eating Swedish meatballs and watermelon for dinner, but this is the Maypole. (Large pregnant lady included for scale.)

I've been doing some knitting, too. These are the Nutkin socks, which I got off Ravelry, but which can be gotten elsewhere, made from Koigu. (Thornacious kept getting after me to try Koigu, but I didn't, and finally I think she got fed up with my not buying yarn fast enough and gave me two skeins, in the winter when I needed to think about daffodils.)
They're a lot of fun to knit ... but I felt like the pattern could use some changes.
(My feet are a bit of a destination for me these days, so modeling these socks took some effort. I may have to switch to mittens and hats until I can reach my feet easily again.)

Hence Nutkin II, with the second half of the lace chart flipped to make them symmetrical along the center axis, and k2p2 ribbing on the back. It's done in Mixed Berry Lorna's Laces. I'm glad this yarn is working -- I've been trying to figure out what kind of socks it wanted to be for a few months now, and this is my third guess.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday night...

... The Fool is off at a gig and so after spending part of the night with my friend and her two little kids at the Chicago Highland Games, I'm catching up.
Our inaugural Midsummer's party went really well. We rented a dance floor and had a friend bring her sound system over so there could be contra dancing and calling in the yard. There was lots of potluck food and lots of jamming and we're planning on doing it next year.


The pickup band in our oh-so-scenic downstairs patio... sigh.
If I ever got on one of those home makeover shows on HGTV, this is the part of the house I'd turn the designers loose on.

A little Knitting In Public to celebrate WWKIP Day.

Late-night jamming after the dancers packed it in.

One of our aspiring callers, Rachel, takes a turn at the microphone.

Finally, the Cosmic Otters with Extra Otter Edward kick off their pre-partum tour with a Monday night contra dance appearance. We decided to wear Hawaiian shirts and be festive.

A few things to note.
As I am wearing a shirt for two, I got to wear one of the Fool's shirts. I paired it, accidentally, with some thrift-store maternity pants that are a lime and turquoise tropical print. If I'm going to be big, I might as well be loud. I cropped those out of the picture. I don't want to crash the computer.
The Fool is wearing a shirt I made him out of some great sea otter fabric.
Edward is wearing a shirt from Goodwill. I picked it up when I was casing their maternity rack recently (no good finds, boo hiss) and when I gave it to him, we had this conversation.

ME: It's rayon, so I wouldn't put it in the dryer. Wash it and then hang it in the bathroom.
EDWARD: You're assuming I'm going to wear this more than once.
ME: Why wouldn't you? It's a good shirt. It cost a whole $5. Don't young men in London wear Hawaiian shirts?
ME: Not even ironically?
ME: You could wear it when you go home to visit in a week.
EDWARD: (Looks at me as if I suggested he step off the plane in a dress and heels.)
ME: OK, well, what do English fathers wear when they want to embarrass their children on vacation?
EDWARD: Stupid sunhats.

The Cosmic Otters Pre-Partum Tour continues tomorrow with an appearance at the Bishop Hill folk festival.
I'm a little nervous. We're actually performing a concert set, which is totally different than playing for a contra dance. First off, people listen to you. Second off, we sing. If the stage fright doesn't kill me, photos later.

The next major event on the calendar is a contra dance weekend in Delafield. This one is going to be fun.

But all this pales in comparison to the really interesting sock I have on the needles right now. It's a modification of a Ravelry pattern, and I'm happy with how it's turning out. I'll probably knit it in the car tomorrow, so pictures then.
Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Things That I Learned on Vacation

  • It's really hard to breathe at 9000 feet. Fiddling even got me out of breath. Dancing is almost entirely out of the question.
  • Copper River salmon is one of the tastiest fishes known to mankind.
  • The Olympic Peninsula is fantastically beautiful.
  • Raglan sweaters are really, really low fuss. I must knit more of these.
  • Seattle has an awesome bus system.
  • Dale of Norway baby patterns are often just too cute to pass up.
  • The Northwest Folklife festival is gigantic! On Sunday there were easily 500 dancers on the floor. The default dance was contra dance (when there wasn't, say, polka or tango music).
  • Dancing at sea level after having danced at 9000 feet makes your feet do things you never thought possible.

Wee Groundhog

So I was out in the yard the other day, and I spied the wee-est groundhog hiding behind a tree. So that I could get good pictures, I gently knocked on the window to get Meg's attention, and she opened the door and snuck me the camera.

It turns out that we have at least 4 groundhogs which live in the greenhouse. This morning, I spied three of them in our three-bin composter (one in each bin, strangely). Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of this. I suspect that the fresh vegetable scraps they get from the compost keep them distracted from all of the tasty vegetables they could get at were they just to burrow under our garden fence. I hope they don't figure that out, but I hear tell that groundhogs, while incredibly cute, aren't all that bright.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Actual Saxony sock

Here's the one I'm knitting. I found a picture that shows the cables.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

David, this one is for you

My friend David writes two interesting blogs. One is all about space exploration (his particular area of expertise) and the other is about his personal life (also an area of expertise.)
This picture is for him. It's an art car driven by one of the fellows we met at Moon Fest in Colorado.

This guy's sister decided to come to one of the fests, and he said to her, "Everyone who comes has to teach a workshop," which is not exactly true. Everyone who comes is encouraged to teach a workshop, but obviously, there are only so many hours in the day
He kept pestering her about which workshop she would teach, in a brotherly fashion, until she said, "Fine, I'll do an art car workshop. And I'm using your car."

The spouse who also knits....the dark side

I asked the Fool if he would kitchener a sock for me. It's not that I can't, it's just that every time I do it, I have to look up how it's done. If I could somehow kitchener 15 pairs of socks in a row I think it might sink in, but that's crazy.
So he kitchenered the sock.
(I'd insert a photo, but it's dark and the sock is dark and cables don't show up when you use a flash and so you'll just have to imagine "Saxony" from "A Fine Fleece" in dark blue Dream in Color seconds. That's a picture of someone else's Saxony to help you imagine. "A Fine Fleece," btw, is my new favorite knitting book.)
And then he appropriated the set of 1s I was knitting the sock on for his own project, the second sock of this pair.
(The Fool has Stuff to Blog About. I left him all of Northwest Folklife Festival and the Olympic Peninsula to blog about (including an elk!), not to mention the garden fence, Wee Gerry and Intermediate Gerry, but no, here I am taking pictures of his projects for him. Maybe if he weren't spending so much time stealing needles....)

We started to engage in debate over whether this was an appropriate thing to do, but I had knit group to run off to.
I suppose you could argue that by relinquishing the sock for kitchenering, I was also relinquishing my rights to the needles the sock was on - possession being 9/10ths of the law, or however that saying goes.
I argue, however, that starting a pair of socks on a set of needles entitles the sock knitter to the use of those needles through the completion of the second sock, regardless of whether the kitchenering is done by someone else.
It's OK, though. The knit group put in an order to KnitPicks a couple weeks back, and I got these.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Fool and Angus had a difficult night

When I came home from knitting group, I noticed a ladder against the front of the house and a window screen on the lawn.

The Fool was inside, making spaghetti and meatballs. I asked what had happened. He'd been working on the computer when he heard a bang and saw that Angus had unlatched the bottom of the window screen with his teeth (there's a little peg you pull on to open the screen) and disappeared out the window!

Angus was unhurt even though the window is about eight feet off the ground. The Fool found him sniffing around in the grass and picked him up to carry him back inside. When Angus saw the inside of the house, the Fool surmises that he was so relieved to be back in familiar surroundings, that he used his back feet to push off against the Fool and go leaping from his arms to the floor ... which left two big scratches on the Fool's chest and stomach.

Little stinker.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Catching up

The Fool is engrossed in KnitML, so it's fallen to me to tell you about MoonFest near Gold Hill, Colo., where we played with Edward a couple weeks ago.
It's a great contra dance weekend that occurs twice a year, at the planter's moon and the harvest moon. Spring is the planter's moon. The three of us met up with our friend Spider and played Saturday night as the Cosmic Possums (That's what we call ourselves when the Cosmic Otters play only old-time tunes with the help of a banjo player.)
We ended up taking what is, for us, a rather traditional approach to contra dance music. We didn't spend time constructing medleys, we just took one tune and played it for 15 minutes at a shot until we wore holes in it. That takes a little more effort - you have to think up 15 minutes of stuff to say with a tune rather than just playing it the same way over and over - and there were a few really great moments, including one where Edward, who is normally a rather restrained player with a gentle sound, found a blue note and just - for lack of a better word - honked on it.
Wonderful stuff.
Seth Houston, the pianist from Lift Ticket, sat in with us for a couple tunes too, and I don't know what it is about dance pianists, but they all look like Muppets from behind. The Fool does it, and Spider and I kept making jokes about Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem after watching Seth. It was terrific fun.
Surrounding that, there was jamming - lots of jamming, with players we'd never met and tunes we'd never heard, including some great new ones - hanging around on the porch, eating and trying not to die as we made feeble attempts to adjust to the altitude. (Word to the wise: Pregnancy plus 8,200 feet? Much harder than I thought it would be.)
Here's a few photos from the weekend.

The Cosmic Possums "rehearse." Spider and the Fool discussing tunes, Edward actually looking at a real set list that we actually used in performance. Oh, the horror!

Dancers hamming it up at the head of the line.

"I can't use that picture, it looks like Spider's picking her nose."

Oh, much better. Thanks.

OK. Off to childbirth class with my container of carrot cookies. It's our turn to bring snack tonight and the theme was "orange vegetables." Everyone's been so dang healthy lately, I thought, what the heck, let's bake something.
As cookies go, these are not bad nutritionally, and as they are from the genius Nancy Baggett's "All American Cookie Book," they are delicious.