Saturday, April 26, 2008

the sunny side of life

The weather here for the last week has been absolutely gorgeous. I met a friend for lunch outside on the Mall twice, I eschewed jackets on my walks to the Metro, and most importantly, we had our fence replaced, and they actually showed up on the appointed day to do it, and finished it that same day!

Now, I don't want to turn this blog into Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, but when Josh and I moved into our home, the (teeny tiny) backyard consisted of 2 overgrown, half-dead azalea bushes, a rusted out shed, and a lot of mosquitoes (owing to the fantastic drainage of that mess), hemmed in by a dilapidated pile of a wooden boards that may, at one time or other, have been a fence. I really should've taken "before" pictures to capture this paradise, but it didn't occur to me that I'd want a lasting memory of it. Anyway, I'm sure you can use your imagination.

But, here it is today!

Lovely new fence with fully-functioning gate AND latch (and Nelly happily exploring):

Corner where we removed ugly, half-dead cyprus evergreen and will plant a lilac bush (love lilacs!):
My little, technically verboten garden plot; I'll have some tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, and basil here at least:
And the bleeding heart I planted last year that actually came back! Here's a little fun fact about me: I kill plants. But not this one! (Note the teeny bleeding heart on the left; it was a full-grown plant of similar size last year):
It's so nice to have a little outdoor space to enjoy, however small.

Now, on to the knitting. Nothing finished, but 2 WIPs:
Cast on for Saartje's Bootees, and these are a super-quick knit (obviously, give that they're the size of my index finger). This is the first bootee, which needs seaming, and I've already started the second. I found the instructions for doing the second strap a little confusing, but after a few false starts, I figured it out. It's nice to be knitting something so small--even if you have to frog the entire thing (which I did on the second bootee when I got distracted by the Os game and lost count of my stitches), it's just a few rows undone and a few minutes wasted. Now I'm trying to decide if I should give these to Susi on their own, or wait until I have a her complete knitted package, as it were, done.

And almost done the lace part of the Lotus Blossom Tank:
Since I didn't plan ahead and buy enough yarn, my thinking is, if I can't get the same dye lot, I'll switch to the new lot for the top part; with a definitive break in between the two sections, a color difference would probably be less noticeable at that point. We'll see.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

size does matter

No, I didn't make the entire Hemlock debacle up as one very disappointing PR scheme, and here's the proof!
Yes, this wrinkled mess is, in fact, a blanket. Obviously it is in desperate need of blocking, but I've yet to locate a cat-free surface of the appropriate dimensions for doing so. I think I'll need at least 2 more boxes of pins, too. So for now it remains carefree in its natural form. I'm amazed that it's done, it took me nearly as long to bind off as it did to knit the thing in the first place!

So now I've just got LBT and Pomatomus on the needles. I should be casting on for another gift project (a bit late, too, since April's over halfway gone), but I've run into a dilemma. First, I need my size 2s for Josh's socks, and they're busy with the Po-Po. Heh. I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to by an extra set, but, well, I just don't feel like it.

I was thinking my April and May gifts could trade places, so I glanced at my gift list to see what I've got coming up and find Motorcycle Chica Gloves. Apparently when I saw these gloves in Interweave, I thought they'd be great for my Dad, who at one point owned a motorcycle and seemingly still believes that he may one day own another. And while I still think he would like them, I'm concerned that some delusions of grandeur may have befuddled me when I put this list together. The pattern in IK is for a woman's medium, so if I want to knit them in a man's large, I'm going to have to do some drastic resizing. And I don't have the first clue how to go about doing that. Not even an inkling. I know this is an opportunity to demonstrate "fearless knitting" spirit, but I am a woman of very limited patience. "Trial and error" does not appeal to me; I'm more a "trial and success," or "trial and give up" kind of girl. Sigh.

Monday, April 14, 2008

feverish knitting

Is it just me, or does everyone have baby fever? Suddenly it seems like no one has a blind clue how to work a condom and people are popping out babies left, right and center (abstinence-only education: so easy, a caveman could do it!). But here I am, no baby fever to speak of (although we had a shower at work Friday for 1 of our 2 pregnant colleagues and the baby Winnie the Pooh d├ęcor was quite adorable, I must say).
But I do have knitting baby things fever. The second pregnant girl here is on my team, and even though we aren’t particularly close (since I’m not close with anyone here, owing to hating my job, although most of the people are bastante amables), I’ve picked out not 1, not 2, but THREE things to knit for her baby girl. I don’t know what I’m thinking. Actually, I guess I do—baby things are cute, but small, so they (presumably) knit up quickly, which means more instant knitting gratification, less toiling for hours and hours over enormous, seemingly never-ending projects (ahem, Hemlock).
So, up to bat we have Saartje’s Booties, February Baby Sweater, and Personalized Baby Blanket (Ravelry links). The only one of these I’m concerned about is the sweater. I’ve got EZ’s Knitter’s Almanac, but it’s not so much a sweater pattern as some random thoughts on how one might knit a sweater for a baby, if one were so inclined. Yet somehow, many knitters on Ravelry have knit up some adorable sweaters using these vague directions, so it must, in fact, be possible. I guess I’ll be doing some research.

Now, back to Hemlock—I’m binding off! The problem? The bind off directions read as follows:
"K 1, * k 2 tog, O, k 2 tog, turn, p 1, work 5 sts in next st -- to work 5 sts in 1 (k 1, p 1) twice in the same st, then k in the same st once more. P 1, sl 1, turn, bind off 7 sts (1 st remains on right-hand needle). Repeat from * around."
I started last night and didn’t even make it to the first marker. This is going to take forever.

Lotus Blossom, sadly, has been one problem after another, and I can’t really pinpoint a reason. The first problem is that I don’t think I have enough yarn—I forgot that in order to adjust it a la Lickety’s Knit’s LBT, I would need extra yarn (adding an extra lace repeat), so I ordered only 5 balls, not 6. But we’ll jump off that bridge when we come to it (as my friend Mike used to say; I’m sure he stole that expression from someone, though, he was always a terrible plagiarist). I had been knitting LBT on the Metro and having no problems, but once I started working on it in the quieter, calmer, considerably less bumpy house, all hell broke loose. First, I put in an extra YO somewhere and had to “un-knit” (which is my usual course of action owing to less-than-admirable skill at frogging) a round, and then I dropped a stitch and had to rescue that. Now I think I’m back on track, but a bit hesistant to start up again.

Friday, April 11, 2008

for the love of the game

It's not often I can combine knitting with my other loves/hobbies--knitting + drinking wine usually doesn't result in the most orderly looking FOs, i've yet to master knitting and reading simultaneously, and i'm bad enough at Civilization IV without adding knitting to the mix. But, as the days grow warmer, I have a fantastic knitting event to look forward to: Stitch N Pitch! Now here is a great combo, knitting + baseball. Who would've thought? Orioles Stitch N Pitch is July 19 (don't even talk to me about the Nationals; my loyalty is to the one and only Os, and I will be setting foot in Nationals Park just once this year, to watch the Os/Nats game on June 28), so buy your tickets here for $13 + a bunch of exorbitant fees, or check the list of LYSs selling tix. I don't have any IRL knitting buddies (::tear::), so I'll be dragging Josh along, but hopefully we'll meet some new friends there.

Ravelers, I want to make sure you know about this other cyber event going on, Ravelraiser 08. For every $10 you donate through May 2, you'll be entered in a drawing for some great prizes, so check it out!

In knitting news, well, nothing much. If I'm especially dedicated, I might finish Hemlock this weekend--I've already done 2 repeats beyond Jared's original pattern, but since I left out a few rows of st st along the way, I'll do 1 or 2 more (still plenty of yarn left) to ensure the blanket actually ends up blanket-sized.

I've been knitting the Lotus Blossom Tank on the Metro. So far so good, no screw ups or curious questions from the myriad tourists who insist on riding during rush hour (and next week the Pope is coming to town, which means even more tourists. Joy.).

Sunday, April 6, 2008

ta da! a photo extravaganza

Here we go, finally, some photos. I hope Satan's enjoying the snowfall . . .


This is as far as I've gotten with Pomatomus. Sigh.

This bunched up mess is actually Hemlock.


And this last one is obviously not knitting--this is my new haircut! I'm very undecided on it. I think I like the bangs, but I think the angling around my face is a little too severe. The stylist also curled the ends under, while I plan on wearing it very straight (a la Reese, of course). Sadly, my lack of a straightening iron might make that a bit difficult. We shall see. I just got it cut yesterday, so I haven't tried styling it myself yet.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

slow ride

When was the last time I posted a photo of anything? I know, it’s terrible. And I’ve been lazy about posting too. Sigh. I’ve just been trudging along with both Hemlock and Pomatomus. Pomatomus started going really slowly when I realized that by the time I finish, it will be too warm for wool socks (I barely keep shoes on my feet during the spring and summer months, let alone socks), so what’s the point? And Hemlock is just going slowly because it has approximately 4 bajillion stitches per round. Fortunately, though, since the “3 vs. 4 knit rounds” debacle, I haven’t had a single problem with it. I count the stitches after each repeat (happily the chart tells you how many stitches per repeat, so there’s absolutely no math involved), so if I’ve made a mistake, I can fix it right away—there’s just no way I could rip out even a single row of this blanket, it would be too disheartening, so I think it’s better to go slow and tackle any slip ups immediately. I think I have about 15 more rounds to go before I bind off. Then I have to find some place to pin this thing out. This is tricky, because we have 3 cats who think their fur adds a special something to towels, blankets, all articles of clothing, and sometimes dinner, and therefore they are required to lay on any and all soft, snuggly objects.

And since these projects are moving along sooo speedily, I’ve decided to start another one! Of course, that makes perfect sense! I want to make 3 (hopefully) summery tops for myself; the first will be the Lotus Blossom Tank in Valley Yarns Southwick (cotton/bamboo blend). The pattern calls for size 5 and 6 needles, and since—yes, let’s rehash this once again—I am always a tight knitter, I figured I’d be using 6s and 7s; so I knit up a gauge swatch on the 6s, and it’s too big! Bizarre. So I moved down to the 5s and started again. Now I realize that I should, of course, be doing the gauge swatch in the round, since knits + purls will certainly come out a different size than all knits. But I don’t care, I don’t have the time or energy to be knitting little tubes of fabric for no reason. Remind me I said this when I post here a month from now about my shirt being too small.

I came to a startling realization recently; in planning my gift knitting for the year, I completely forgot about 2 important “holidays”—Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Grrr. Of course, I don’t have to knit gifts for people all the time, so I may just skip it, but, for my Dad in particular, I’ve got a vague idea for a gift, which is rare and therefore means I should go for it. You know we love our steamed crabs and beer here in Bawlmer, hon (well, except for me; I’m a vegetarian. Steamed crabs are the only thing I miss. There’s just no substitute. Of course, I can still have the beer.), and Mom usually gets a bushel of crabs for Father’s Day, so I’m thinking a little bag to hold Dad’s crab mallet and knife would be cute—something with a crab on it, of course (although, I don’t have a pattern for any such thing, just a flight of fancy for now). Unfortunately, the Bay has really been over-crabbed in recent years, so harvests have dwindled and I think they may finally be getting enough of a clue to impose some restrictions—which means crabs could get very expensive this year, and we may end up not having them. The animal rights advocate in me appreciates—nothing should be steamed to death, little claws scraping the sides of the pot in a desperate bid to escape—but the knitting side of me thinks the absence of actual crabs would greatly detract from the value of my (as yet imaginary) gift.