Sunday, May 31, 2009

Strawberries, goat cheese and a contra dance

I can't put three sentences together coherently today, because I have a lot to do, and my brain is being run by a team of hamsters. There's phone calls to be made, errands to run and the last four rows of Icarus to knit.
I think it's a mean trick to make the fourth-from-the-end row full of kf&bs, so I end up knitting an even longer row on the third from the end. I mean, the finish line is almost in sight! To wear this thing on Friday, I decided I have to have it blocking by Wednesday night. We shall see. I bought beads last week to add to it from the bead store next to Knitche, and internally, I groused a little bit at the price (I think this particular bead store is one of the more expensive ones, but they have nice stuff and they were right there, and anyway....) especially compared to the beads I got at a big box store for another project.
But! Grouse no more.
I haven't had to set aside a single bead yet because the hole is too small, or the bead wasn't formed right and is shaped more like a "C".
We went down to Champaign-Urbana for the contra dance on Friday night. The Cosmic Otters played, and on Saturday morning, we went to the farmer's market for fresh real strawberries (not the kind they strip mine for grocery stores), asparagus and goat cheese with cracked pepper.

Edward, the Fool and our friend Ben earn a little gas (or in our case, goat cheese) money at the market. Ben's wife put a bunch of asparagus in their case to see if she could get more people to donate vegetables, but it didn't work.

When we got back, we worked in the garden and found out our strawberries are going gangbusters! I can't wait. Just a couple weeks, I bet, if the birds don't find them first. Or the Wee Gerries.
(Big Gerry, the woodchuck who lives in the greenhouses, continues his romantic conquests and has made another family this spring. The Wee Gerries are a pair of baby groundhogs, each about the size of a guinea pig, who hang around in the yard).

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Can't win for trying

Yesterday, Jamie and I went to the grocery store to get fish, so we can eat fish sometime this week, like we planned to do, and ground chicken, so we can make chicken burgers. And burger buns.
I said to the Fool last night, "The avocado is ripe, so we need to eat tacos tomorrow. We can make them with the fish, or with that flank steak you bought."
He said, "Tacos? Oh no. We don't have any tortillas. They don't sell the good kind at the store I was at."
Today, Jamie and I went to the grocery store and bought tortillas.
I feel like menu planning is not working for us this week.
Icarus motors along. I'm about 30 rows from the end. After Jamie wakes up from his nap, which will be a nice long one because we went swimming today, I think we'll go to the bead store next to Knitche (convenient, that) and find beads for the edge.
Pictures to come, when it doesn't just look like a blob.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I've been a bit quiet recently. I'm taking a break from KnitML for awhile to give my brain a bit of room to explore some new things.

In the meantime, I thought I would post an in-progress picture of Jamie's 18-month sweater.

Both an up-close picture...

And a holistic picture.

I like this pattern so far for a few reasons:
  1. Stranded knitting: woohoo!
  2. Steeks are always exciting... and I mean that sincerely.
  3. Once the pattern is established, I don't need to refer to the pattern to see how to knit the next row.
  4. I learned that Norwegian knitting is symmetrical across an axis (unlike Fair Isle).
  5. I'm a sucker for blues and greens.
  6. It looks a lot harder than it is.
I just hope that Jamie likes it. Maybe he'll be verbal by the time he fits into it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Fool and I are pretty lucky ...

... in that we don't really go in for the same kinds of things lots of other people go in for.

Jamie goes in for noses. At the Art Institute Friday, we went to the kids' room, and he got to fondle all the noses he wanted to, plus ears and eyes.

We don't really wait in long lines to see movies on their opening nights (except he did go to a midnight showing of one of the Lord of the Rings movies, but that's different. And I went to a special sneak preview of the Firefly movie, but it was because a friend invited me. And a Buffy the Vampire Slayer singalong showing of the musical, but again, special circumstances. I suppose those special circumstances are occasional fits of geekiness.)

The Fool and Jamie in Millennium Park Friday afternoon.

We don't go to concerts by artists that might sell out in a really spectacular and inconvenient way, forcing us to pay exorbitant prices to ticket scalpers to see U2 or whatever (except for the time a friend and I bought extra tickets on the street to see Kodo.)

Weekend BBQ at my friend Lynn's.

OK. But you won't find us getting up early to camp out for World Series tickets or anything like that.

Jamie tried watermelon for the first time. His verdict? Delicious.

So it was with some chagrin that I, and the rest of the knitting world, apparently, tried to register for Sock Summit this morning. Rachel was over, because we'd been working on a tie dye project together (The Cosmic Otters are playing in Champaign-Urbana this Friday and it's tie-dye night and we thought we'd participate), and even she thought this was pretty extreme. And she knits socks.

Cosmic Otters rehearsal.

"You mean everyone's going to try to register at once?" she asked.
"Uh, yeah."

Edward and Rachel start to tie-dye clothing. Edward had never done this before, but by the end, was really getting into it.

As I'm sure the entire knitting blogosphere knows by now, the servers were slow, and registration was not exactly a silky smooth process. I managed to register twice (it's a long story with me doing some dumb stuff to help along - ask me what a CVV is, go ahead), but no matter what, I'm going to have fun in Portland doing many different things, not just knitting socks, so however this comes out, I'll be happy. (That is a distillation of a long talk I had with myself this afternoon when I thought I got all my first-choice classes only to find that I had to register for other ones entirely, before I found out that a computer glitch signed me up for all of them, which would be a good trick if I could be in two places at once, which actually would be really great for things like Sock Summit. So I sent them a note and hopefully we can fix this.)

Finished tie dye! Yes, that's underwear. For a friend.

And now I shall go back to knitting my shawl, and the Fool and I will continue to negotiate dinner proceedings.

(We were going to have chicken burgers, but when he called from the store to ask if we needed ground chicken, I thought he had confused the chicken burgers with something requiring ground pork, so I told him no. So we thought maybe we could have the tofu dish tonight, but the recipe book is on loan to my friend Janice, and as it was raining, we didn't go to the Memorial Day BBQ at her place and reclaim the book, so we don't have that. Then he said we could have fish, but that turned out to be something we only talked about cooking and didn't actually buy. Now the debate is whether to get fried rice or plain rice when we order out for Chinese. Sigh. Universe: 1; menu planning: 0.)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Not sure why I always run into this problem

I decided to read the Icarus pattern today, which is probably just as well, because I'm more than halfway through knitting it.
The pattern calls for 1,200 yards of laceweight yarn.
I have a skein that has about 874 yards in it (I looked it up!)
Either I:
a) Figured that the designer, who presumably has knit this shawl at least once, unlike me, bought a 1,200 yard skein and only used, say, 800 yards of it for the shawl, but forgot to mention that she had a big ball of yarn left over.
b) Figured that by 1,200 yards, the designer actually meant 874 yards.
c) Figured when I started knitting this a year ago that I would somehow alter the pattern so that it takes 300 fewer yards of yarn or so to knit.

I'm going with c. I think I must have reasoned that I can leave out one of the pattern repeats, although whether this will give me enough yarn to finish the shawl, I still don't know.

So that leaves me with a new question:
a) Call LYSes tomorrow to find a skein of the yarn I need, but don't buy it yet.
b) Find the yarn, buy the yarn, but keep it unwound and in a bag with the receipt so I can return it if the answer to the first question is a or b.
c) Wait until it's the week before the wedding, I have run out of yarn completely, the shawl remains unfinished, and THEN start looking for the yarn.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Out of the vaults

That's what I've been telling the Wednesday night knitting group, each week I show up with a new work in progress. A couple weeks ago, it was Lucy Neatby's Sea Lettuce scarf. Before that, the bubbly lace curtain from Mason Dixon Knitting, which only needs blocking and hanging.
For the last week or so, my project has been the Icarus shawl, which I'm making out of Misti Alpaca Lace, in Red Rover.

Angus inspects my knitting.

To give you an idea of how long this thing has been sitting around, I bought the yarn in May 2008 and cast on shortly thereafter.
There's a portion of the pattern that goes "repeat rows 19 - 42 five times," and somewhere between the first and second time, something made me put it down. The unfortunate thing about Icarus is that all the exciting stuff happens in the last 50 rows or so, so there's a big slog first.
I want to have this done by the first weekend in June, so we'll see how that goes.
Today, Jamie was really understanding about my knitting deadline. After we went to his swimming class ("swimming" is pretty generous a label for what we do - I mean, we play fetch with rubber ducks and sing lots of songs), he fell asleep in the car. I got some lunch, which he slept through in his sling, and then we found a park, where he napped in the shade and I knit for more than an hour.
It was a wonderful way to spend part of the afternoon.

artsy window shot.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Impaled on the horns of a dilemma

... albeit a not very dire dilemma, and actually the kind of dilemma that falls into the same category as "people who complain about how difficult their life is now that they have won the lottery," or "people who whine about not being able to find good domestic help."
See, the Fool and I have decided that I get to go to Sock Summit this year. Much as we decided he got to go to fiddle camp in Cape Breton a couple summers ago, now it's my turn to go do something fun.
(Granted, I had a great time bumming around Cape Breton, and I expect he and Jamie will find a few things to do in Portland, as we have friends there, and he knows a really outstanding Quebecois fiddler, but anyway....)
I can't figure out which classes to sign up for. I'm waffling between an approach that allows me to take longer classes with fewer instructors, or more shorter classes - sort of the buffet v. entree approach to things.
Like I said, hardly a proper dilemma, but registration is coming up and I want to be prepared.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Kimmswick and back again

Hoo. Long weekend.
We were in Kimmswick, Mo., at the Cuivre River State Park, for a contra dance weekend, where I learned a few things, mostly about traveling with Jamie, which I'm still pretty new at.
Rachel and Jamie and I went in the first car, which left during the day, avoided the bad weather and stopped at Nancy's Knitworks in Springfield after lunch.
The Fool and Edward went in the second car, which left after work, drove through the rain and the road construction and arrived at camp at 2 a.m.
Rachel and I think we got the best of it, even though by the time we got to camp, Jamie was taking pains to explain to us that he was done with riding in the car. Instead, he had a fun night at the contra dance.
He hung out with me while I called two dances, he nursed, he ate some Cheerios and fruit and when he got tired, he fell asleep and I was able to shift him to the table, where I took this picture that people will be telling him about until he has children of his own.

The only thing I didn't think through very carefully was the shoe problem. Jamie has a thing for shoes. He likes to pick them up, pull on the laces, and eventually, chew on them. Which I have a problem with, because, eew. Contra dance weekends are defined by a room full of shoes, either dance shoes people are changing into, or street shoes they're changing out of. So I spent most of Jamie's time on the floor discouraging him from messing with shoes, of which there were something like 600 lying around, or so it seemed.

When the Fool and I went to our cozy two-bunk cabin to sleep, we discovered another thing. I - and there are blog readers who will confirm this - used to be pretty outdoorsy. At least outdoorsy enough to think that cabin camping with mattresses was downright cushy.
Uh, not so much. Especially when I arrive unprepared, which I did. The Fool and I put the mattresses on the floor, I nursed Jamie, he went to sleep between us, and we tried to sleep too. That's when I found out my mattress was squishier and lower than the Fool's mattress, which resulted in me spending a cozy and cramped night with Jamie, who rolled onto my mattress and stayed there until morning.
The next night, I told the Fool he was trading mattresses with me so we could both enjoy an uncomfortable night. It was colder, though, and so not only did Jamie roll onto his mattress, I did too, as we hadn't brought enough covers for the two of us.
(I was telling a friend about this, and she said, 'So it was like dormitory sex except with a baby?' and I said, 'yes!' I told the Fool, and he said, 'There wasn't any sex!' I said, "That's the 'with a baby' part.")
But cramped nighttime accomodations aside, we got to visit with lots of friends, eat rhubarb-apple crisp at the potluck, play tunes, hear some great old-time music by some outstanding practitioners of the art, go for a hike by the river and dance a bit (although not as much as I would have liked). The Cosmic Otters had a really good gig Sunday morning. I was very pleased with how we played. Turns out band practice really pays off!

And now we are home and refreshed, and, hooray.
I've been knitting lace this week. I have an unfinished Icarus shawl and a wedding in June and a fantasy about finishing the shawl to wear to the wedding.
The Fool is knitting too, but thinks a Dale of Norway sweater isn't interesting enough to show the blog. Hmmf.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tea cozy, part 1

Way back in the middle of the winter, I tried knitting the Fool a hat with earflaps, using two colors of Malabrigo that he picked out.
The hat has a problem, in that it bears no relation to the actual size of his head. He could pack his lunch in there with his head and still have room to spare.

I knit it in two-row stripes, and the thought of frogging it and leaving myself with all those short pieces of yarn made me a little bit woozy, so instead, I left the hat lying around.
It lay around on the coffee table, and then as Jamie took further notice of his surroundings, on the floor. The hat traveled back and forth between the table and the floor for several months until I hit on a solution.
Tea cozy.
Felt the hat and turn it into a tea cozy. We drink a lot of tea, we could use one of those.
Then the hat went to live, of all places, in the bathroom, where it stayed through Grandma Fool's recent visit (I can only imagine what she thought).
Finally, yesterday, I got tired of staring at it, so I got Great-Grandma Fool's washboard, which we inherited, and which the Fool plans to play as a rhythm instrument (of course), ran some hot water in the tub, set to scrubbing, with Jamie supervising.

That's hard work.
The hat/ cozy is drying now; we'll see how it turns out. I've got some more plans for it, but they will have to wait, because we are all heading for the Kimmswick contra dance weekend outside of St. Louis. Rachel and Jamie and I are driving down today, because we are all free, and Edward and the Fool are going to leave after work. The two of them have an mp3 player loaded with all kinds of screechy fiddle tunes recorded in the 1950s and a bag of pretzels and apples, and Rachel and I have "Anansi Boys" on CD and a list of yarn stores between here and Missouri.
Guess who's going to have more fun?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It's a sunny spring day here

... and all the cats are lying in the sun ... exposing their nether parts to the fresh air. Sigh. So much dignity around here, you could cut it with a knife.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Friday, May 08, 2009

We interrupt this knitting....

... to natter on about sewing, which, as far as I can tell, is the Next Big Thing in crafts.
Well, whatever. I'm not brilliant at it, as I mostly quilt, which is all straight seams, but I can follow directions, I'm good at spatial problems, and Weekend Sewing has some great introductory material on sewing basics. Those pages were especially good for someone like me, who learned to sew by trial and error - mostly the latter.
I was especially taken by the pattern for baby pants. They're plain old pants with an elastic waist - nothing fancy - and a lot like the jobbies by Carters that Jamie already wears all the time.
But Carters doesn't make pants like this.

The Fool has asked me if I can make him a pair. I don't have enough fabric for long pants, but I bet I could eke out a pair of boxer shorts if I got a pattern. (I'll let him decide whether he wants to show those off on the blog.)
And yes, I already dove in my stash to pick out fabric for the next few pairs. I think everyone needs crazy cotton pants for when the weather gets hot.