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June 2005 Archives

June 1, 2005

Too Big or Too Small

I canít believe itís June 1 today. Time to flip the calendar over and start marking off school days in one color, swimming days in another, music days in another. Already there are notes on many days for doctorís appointments, hair cuts, and then the week when my mom will be here and weíre heading to LEGOLand. (Yeah!) Iíve never been much of a calendar person, but suddenly this year the tides of time have swung a different direction, and Iím caught up in a calendar tailspin, and we lead relatively calm and decidedly not overscheduled lives.

I feel like Iíve been knitting in spits and spurts, but I have nothing to show for it. First Iíd started a pair of socks from Knitting on the Road in purple Lornaís Laces. They were looking really pretty but seemed way too small. So I frogged those. I was going to start a pair from Lucy Neatbyís Cool Socks book the other day in the car in between dropping Matthew off at school and taking Spencer to music. Having made Meganís New Yearís socks from Lornaís Laces, I knew my gauge with the yarn, but I didnít know my ankle measurement, so I couldnít even figure out what I needed to cast on. I happened to have Knitting on the Road with me in the bag that day, too, and the Conwy socks call for Lornaís, so with a mental shrug, I figured what the hay. The book is full of great socks, and those are cool and pretty, too, with their cabled legs.

I just wanted a pair cast on that I could work on in off moments, something easy to pick up when working on my Must Have wasnít possible. I started them and worked on the ribbing in the car. I then picked them up late the other night only to find that the stitch pattern is really complicated. Not in terms of understanding it, but in terms of physically doing it. Itís not easy knitting. I was having a heck of a time doing what was necessary, and you have to do the tough stitches every other row and like every two stitches all the way around.

Since that clearly wasnít providing the restful knit I was hoping, I grabbed a skein of Regia Jubilee that Iíd started and frogged last fall and cast on the other night figuring Iíd do something basic since thatís a heavily self-patterning yarn. But, I always overthink and rebel against Ďbasic,í so instead of a simple 2 x 2 or even 2 x 3 rib, I started doing seed panels separated by close rib panels. I worked on it again last night and just felt like I wasnít liking how it looked. So, I ripped that out last night, too, before falling asleep.

So, no socks in the works yet, although I havenít actually frogged the Conwy ones. I want to give that pattern a shot in daylight to see if itís really as tough (for me) as it seemed the other night.

My other failed attempts have been for a Bottomís Up Bucket Hat. First, I was going to make Spencer one to give the pattern a try. I cast it on and frogged it after maybe 10 rows because it just looked huge. I then cast on (using a different yarn) for myself using an Addi 6. Again, it looked huge. But, itís the brim. It will logically be bigger than the hat and draw in when you get past the brim. It drew in but not enough. When I was switching over to the 7ís, after doing all the decreases and dropping to one yarn, there was a moment when I had parts of it on each circular and could see how bit it was.

Think toilet seat cover. Think steering wheel cover. Think shoulder shrug.

All of those things would be closer to the reality than a hat.

I have photos of the hat's demise, but they are too depressing to even show. After pulling it off the needles, I laid it on the floor by a measuring tape. Please don't choke on your laughter when I say it measured out at 58 inches.

And, yes, Megan and I both modeled it as a shrug or the start of a poncho or something similar.

What on earth went wrong? I donít know. (Okay, I didn't swatch.) The only thing I can figure is that with the cotton, my knitting was just too loose on the metal circular. It didn't feel overly loose. The finished product doesn't look really loose. But, I do tend to use bamboo more these days, except for socks, for which I do use Addis always.

I knew Iíd read many complaints from bloggers about working with the doubled cotton for the brim. My mom, too, had said sheíd had trouble with the double stranded section hurting her hands. I didnít really have that trouble. Guess that should have been my first warning that something was wrong.

I should just give up on this hat and call it a wrap. But itís like a record stuck in my head now. I think I have to make it. Unfortunately, I donít have the right needles in bamboo. I need a 16Ē 6 and 7. Or, I might even need to drop to a 16Ē 5 and do the body of the hat in a 6. (If youíre thinking I should swatch, youíre right.)

With all the needles I have (and I feel like I have a TON of circular needles), I couldn't put my hands on these sizes/lengths over the weekend. So, I need to run to a yarn store. I am strange, I guess. I hate to go in just to buy needles. I feel sort of like an interloper. But, I also want Bryspun needles in sizes 2 and 7 for projects I have planned, so a needle run seems inevitable. [Update: Needles ordered!]

I did pick up my Must Have a few times and am working steadily up the back. I havenít given it the attention itís needed though, for sure, although Iím still hoping for completion by June 23 since Iím hoping to start two new projects the week of Momís visit.

June 2, 2005

A Classics Frame of Mind

One of those funny things happened this week that seems too ironic, too fateful to really have happened. Not that it's a life-altering or "big" thing, but just an odd coincidence.

A few weeks ago, I got to thinking that I'd like to read some "classics" that I either didn't read in my many years of English-related studies or that I read back then but would like to read again without feeling "academic." Specifically, Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, and Charlotte Bronte were on my mind. As a student specializing in postmodern and feminist theory, I was sort of a post-1960 reader and theorist. Atwood, Oates, Winterson, ShieldsÖ all up my alley. George Eliot, Alcott, Gaskell, Phelps, Bronte(s)Ö not so much my thing. (Ironically, Megan's dissertation was on precisely those people. We were in opposite eras, for sure.)

But, suddenly, I've been wanting to take a leisurely read through some of those writers. I was thinking I'd start with Jane Eyre just because. But Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility were high on my list.

It was with a strange feeling that, while out crawling around R.A.O.K. sites, I stumbled over a link to Knit the Classics, a read/knit along which started June 1. They're reading the classics together and knitting something reminiscent of the time. The organizers have done a ton of groundwork putting together links for patterns, historical and contextual links, infomation on the first book, etc.

The first book they are reading is Middlemarch by George Eliot. Megan has written about it and used to teach it. Although she likes Elliot, she refers to Middlemarch as a 'slog.' Adam Bede is better, she says.

I thought about it for a day or two. Had they been starting with Austen or a Bronte, there would have been no hesitation. Even so, I did decide to join. It's a cool idea. I'd already picked out my next lace project anyway, and it seems perfectly in keeping with Knit the Classics. It's the Rosebuds and Climbing Roses stole from Lavish Lace. It's a perfect match for the KnitPicks Shimmer Mom sent me for Easter.

I picked up a copy of the book last night after dinner out just me and the boys. (Megan apparently ditched her copy somewhere along the way.) Then, late, I cast on for the stole and worked the foundation rows. So, I'm all set to grab a handful of markers and start the first section of lace tonight.

June 5, 2005

Third time's a charm?

roses stole
As I reported last week, I cast on the Rosebuds and Climbing Roses stole for the kickoff of Knit the Classics. I didn't get too far into the first lace repeat before it became clear that mine was too big. (Anyone sensing a theme?)

More like a scarf than a stole, the finished measurements are 13" x 56". Although I was originally planning on grabbing some Bryspun needles for this, since I wanted to start on June 1 with the knitalong, I pulled out bamboo 2's for the project. Unfortunately, after the foundation rows and a few rows of the first lace repeat, the stole was stretching to the ends of the needles and clearly would extend a few inches beyond, especially if blocked.

More than 13" for sure.

The next day, I dug around in the needles basket and found the 1's. Other than socks, I don't guess we've ever used 1's because these were still in a wrapper from the full set of Crystal Palace needles we have.

I took the 1's in with me to where Spencer was sleeping on the bed, pulled the beginnings of the stole off the size 2 needles and re-rolled the Shimmer.

(It's disconcerting, to say the least, that when I finally ran into some knotted sections at the end, I could just pull and 'break' the lace weight yarn.)

Happy the little one was still sleeping, I cast on again and worked the first several foundation rows only to then hold it up and find it looked the same as before.

I'd stupidly cast on again with the 2's, the 1's tucked inside the pattern book where I'd laid them.

Again, I re-rolled, pulling hard enough to break at another knot.

Hoping to finally get it right, I cast on later with the 1's.

Having entered a heated climbing phase, Spencer was going up and down on the couch next to me. He played with a large knitting needle for a few minutes, sticking it in and out of a bulky ball of yarn before moving back to the joy of up and down.

Then, on one of the 'up' trips, he grabbed the needle I was working with. In trying to free it from him without losing all the stitches, the needle snapped in half at the middle.

They are, after all, like toothpicks.

Because the last ten or fifteen stitches were in and around the site of the splintery break, it took at least a half hour to get them slid over the broken part so that I could work them off the needle.

Yikes. This project seems ill fated!

roses stole broken

Secret Pal 5

Okay, secret pal... I've uploaded the new Secret Pal 5 questionnaire to my About Me page. I'm not sure how much it really reveals about me, but I hope it helps!

June 7, 2005

iPod socks

ipod socksLast Friday after M and M's swimming lesson, we went out for Mexican and then walked around the mall. I'd ordered the iRiver wireless FM tranmitter for my car (underwhelmed with it so far), but I realized after the fact that I really needed the Belkin cupholder cradle. So, we stopped in at the new Apple store. Wow! Talk about a ton of accessories. They had great cases, including a cool pink leather one which almost came home with me (and someday probably will). One of the cutest things I saw was the six-pack of iPod socks. Just adorable. No, you wouldn't have access to the controls while it was wearing a sock, but they are cute beyond belief. I might have to whip one up!

ipod socks

beautiful textile prose

I am not (yet) familiar with this book, but I just ran across the wonderful excerpt from Fernando Pessoa's The Book of Disquiet :

    "I'm in a trolley, and, as is my habit, I'm slowly taking notice of the people sitting around me. For me details are things, words, sentences. I take apart the dress worn by the girl in front of me: I turn it into the fabric that makes it up, the work that went into making it - but still I see it as a dress and not cloth - and the light embroidery and the work involved in it. And immediately, as in a primer on political economy, the factories and the labor unfold before me - the factory where the cloth was made, the factory where the twist of silk, darker in tone than the dress, was made, which went into making the twisted little things in the border now in their place next to the neck; and I see the components of the factories, the machines, the workers, the seamstresses, my eyes turned inward penetrate into the offices, I see the managers trying to be calm, I follow, in the books, the accounts involved in it all; but it isn't only that: I see, beyond that, the domestic lives of those who live their social lives in those factories and those offices ... All of them pass before my eyes merely because I have before me, below a dark neck, which on its other side has I don't know what sort of face, a common, irregular green edge on a light green dress.

    The entire life of society lies before my eyes.

    Beyond all that I sense the loves, the secret life, the souls of all those who worked so that this woman seated in front of me in the trolley can wear around her neck the sinuous banality of a band of dark green silk on less dark green cloth.

    I become stupefied. The seats on the trolley, made of tightly woven strong straw, carry me to distant regions and into multiple industries, workers, workers' houses, lives, realities, all.

    I leave the trolley exhausted and sleepwalking. I just lived an entire life."


June 10, 2005

Must Have Back


Slowly but surely... I finished the back of my Must Have earlier in the week. There was one precarious moment when I came in to find Spencer in the floor with the back off the needles. Big brother had been near enough to see and explain that Spencer had climbed up on a large toy truck to pull down the knitting I thought safely stashed on the back corner of the couch. The allure of needles and yarn...

Things went back together without too much trouble, and it's off the needles (the neck on a holder) now.

The sleeves have been cast on, too, so progress all around.

June 15, 2005

Tots and Spots

An outbreak of head to toe rash on Saturday following a week of super cranky baby (which we were attributing to cutting molars) has left the house (and nerves) in an uproar. He was a bit spotty on his belly Saturday morning, and then the spreading began. Three hours later, as I was pacing around the ER with him, he was getting more rashy by the minute... arms, legs, hands, feet. My baby was turning into a red blob.

At first they determined it a non-specific viral rash. Then they decided it was hand, mouth, and foot - also a viral rash, just one with a name. Reading up on HFM, it didn't seem to really match what we saw, especially since that chiefly appears on the named areas and sometimes buttocks. His was much more all-over and not blistery. By Monday, much of the rash had cleared and calmed. His face, which was the last area to show the rash, was then the worst, and he was still really irritable and short-fused.

Today, Wednesday, it seems to have all totally passed.

I really intended to knock out a chunk of my Must Have sleeves over the weekend, but I didn't. I just wasn't 'into' working on them. I won't finish by my birthday next week, but that's okay. I've sort of consciously decided not to finish. That doesn't mean I won't still end up making the mad dash this coming weekend to finish, but I'm not planning on it.

I tried working on the Climbing Roses stole some. It is slow going. My only experiences with lace thus far have been on needles size 5 or larger, and I fell in love with lace, the idea of lace, and the process of lace. Unfortunately, my love affair may have been shortlived.

Working this project on 1's is painstaking, and I'm not one who shies away from 1's, after all, my socks are almost always on 1's. The bamboo may be causing some of the problem as the KnitPicks Shimmer feels sticky on them. The yarn is hard to slide, and working standard k2tog stitches is incredibly tedious. I think the needles just aren't tapered enough for this lace weight yarn. So, I'm not enjoying the knitting. I'm not ready to give in though. It's my first lace weight project, so I'm trying to give myself some leeway and the chance to find a rhythm with the project. I'm hoping once I get another repeat done, I'll be able to see the lace pattern more clearly... and fall in love.

While my own knitting feels stilted right now, I've spent a lot of time yarn hunting online. Mom's coming next week, and on our trip to LEGOLand, she and M. both want to work on a Clapotis. We do have a long car ride ahead (one of us squeezed between car seats in the back), so it's possible some car knitting will get done. That's not M's style, but Mom and I might get something done. Neither of them believes me when I tell them Clapotis is really an easy knit, so this way they can do it together. Mom isn't sure she wants to make her first one out of Lion and the Lamb. Had she, I wanted to give her the yarn for her birthday. I had spotted what I thought might be the perfect colorway... Valentine. Looks like a perfect Red Hat colorway, and Mom is the 'queen' of her Red Hat club. (In further looking, other Lorna's colorways, like Miata, also seem to have the red/purple thing going. I'd have to see one in person to really know, I guess.)

If you have a red-hatter in the family, KnitPicks also has an Eros-style yarn in a Red Hat colorway and a simple shawl pattern for it in their May catalog.

In poking around on eBay and yarn sites, I was again stunned by how many beautiful colorways of Lorna's there are. Just amazing! I think I could work my way through Lorna's colorways in sock yarn and be pretty happy. I also spotted a few small projects perfect as a cluster of to-do items for M's birthday.

So, I wrote much of this entry earlier in the week. It's been in my Palm, tucked away on the back of the bed, so it didn't make its way to the blog.

In the interrim, my hand/wrist is acting up, so I'm having a lot of trouble using my right hand at all without a lot of pain all the way down to my fingers. Probably a tendon flare, but really frustrating. I went ahead and knitted some on a sock last night, which M argued was really silly since the gripping motion especially on the small needles likely aggravates the problem. She's right, no doubt. So, I'm trying to take a break.

Crazy how when you know you should 'not' knit is when you want to most!

June 21, 2005

Hark the Jubilee

jubilee sock
I'm still having hand problems, but when it's loose enough to knit a bit, I've been working on a really basic sock out of some Regia Jubilee I bought last year. And I do mean basic. I think, in fact, it may be the first stockinette sock I've ever made.

While I was really jazzed last year when I first spotted the release of this yarn (I went so far as to buy three colorways of it), what I've discovered in working on this sock is that I really don't like self-patterning yarn as much as I like traditional variegated. I like the play of color more than I like this kind of forced patterning. I probably would have done a ribbed sock, but I wasn't liking how the patterning looked in the ribbing at all, so stockinette it is.

Ultimately, the stockinette really showcases the yarn best. Plus, it's probably the easiest on my hand at this point. I'm using Lucy Neatby's basic Simply Splendid sock pattern. So far, so good. I did lose focus on the heel turn and had to do it several times. In part, I wasn't paying close enough attention to the way the pattern was written in terms of how many stitches/repeats/etc. for each size. Her patterns cover many sizes, which is great, but when a few of the sizes dropped off, it took me a few minutes to realize that my size was no longer #4 but now was #1.

My Charlotte's Web is finally blocking on the table (right now), so I should have a finished photo tomorrow. I still had some trouble blocking even though I soaked it overnight. I think I may just not have the knack for blocking!

June 22, 2005

Introducing... My Charlotte '35'


(These were taken end of day today, so I'm a bit frazzled and frumpled. But, I really wanted to get photos posted tonight. So, as soon as I got the ends tucked in, we took some quick ones.)

She's actually only my second Charlotte, but she's My Charlotte '35' because, in that hopeless, addictive way I have when it comes to attaching meaning to things, she commemorates my turning 35 (tomorrow). You might remember, in fact, that I mentioned a while back wanting to finish her by June 23. That's why. She'll always be a hallmark of this life marker. (I'm not sure what I should make of the fact that I completed her without placing a single lifeline; I threaded at least a dozen lifelines when making mom's.)

Despite feeling like I had a rough time blocking her... okay, I did have a rough time. First, neither the board I was using to block it on nor my dining room table was wide enough for her blocked width, so I had to wrap her top edges over the side and pin them. But, one side wouldn't stretch enough to straighten out when all was said and done. (I had the same problem with Mom's.)

I pinned the whole top edge, then pinned the middle bottom point, and then tried to work out the edges. But, it didn't work. Despite much stretching, there wasn't enough give for the shawl to lay flat. The bottom kept wanting to curl up. Several times, I unpinned and repinned. Ultimately, I got everything flat except one side of the top edge. There just wasn't enough stretch to get it to reach. I finally gave up, wrapped it over the board, and left it to dry.

At the end of the day, when the preschooler came home and wanted his LEGO space (the dining room table) back, M and I moved the shawl on its board into the boys' room and perched it atop the (unused) crib. (It has gone unused for both boys. Despite being somewhere in the neighborhood of $500, it's now on it's 4th year of not being used. Still, it seems locked in my head that we have to have a crib in the room even if it isn't used. We have a baby. When Spencer turns two, maybe it will seem okay to get rid of it.)

The crib was actually a bit wider than the board, so the board kept falling into the crib a bit. Undoubtedly, the weight of the still damp shawl and the slightly soaked cardboard board was mostly responsible for the caving. When I checked in on the shawl later in the evening, however, some of the pins were wanting to release the shawl as the board caved from the center, giving the shawl more leeway than it should have to relax from where I'd struggled to block it.

I pulled the pins out today and modeled it up and down the runway of our hallway. It's not huge, but it is larger than my mother's ended up being. So, maybe the blocking was more successful than I thought. But, beyond size, the feel of My Charlotte '35' is different. Mom's finished (and blocked) shawl still had a slightly spongy, sproingy feel to the merino. My Charlotte '35', on the other hand, feels flatter, lighter, and almost weightless. I don't know if it's because I blocked it bigger, or because I soaked it for so long. Either way, it's a wonderful feel.

I love it.

And, while I'm slightly obsessed with the idea of shawls at this point (see, I can say that because the lace project I'm working on and not feeling the love for is a stole, not a shawl), I've continued to be unsure how and when I'd get the chance to wear them.

(You have to understand that my children never had objects of attachment other than me... not for our lack of trying. So, Spencer is still in a phase where he's in my arms 75% or more of the day. Exhausting. Not shawl-friendly, for sure.)

But, timing is everything. My mom is coming into town tomorrow. We're heading off to LEGOLand next week. But, before we go, we have plans for just us ladies to go to Lovejoy's Tea Room for tea on Saturday. I've never been, but I've heard so many great things about Lovejoy's, and Spencer and I pass by it once a week on our way to music class. So, that's what we're doing, as sort of a grownup celebration of both my and my mom's birthdays.

High tea sounds perfect for My Charlotte '35', don't you think?


June 23, 2005

A good day

We didn't have 'big' plans for my birthday, largely because mom was flying in late in the evening, and we've got plans for the next ten days or so, which means it felt a little cramped to "also" try and go somewhere special tonight since we've got dinner plans tomorrow. Mom's birthday was last week, so we're celebrating together tomorrow. After the boys' tandem swimming lessons, we're headed for the California Pizza Kitchen and a quick stop in the LEGO store. It's in the mall, so even though we're heading to LEGO Land on Sunday, there's no way we can eat at the CPK and not go to the LEGO store. It's okay though. You can't stay on my blog long without realizing we love LEGOs in this house.

Matthew and I just yesterday, in fact, finished the final level of the LEGO worldbuilder game. If you've got a LEGO (or computer) fan, I highly recommend it. The first few stages are very easy, but they get much, much harder. There are three "worlds" of challenges (and three levels in world one), and we've been playing during Spencer's naps for weeks now.

We have tons of LEGOs, but by far, my favorite small LEGO kit invention is the "xPod." There are nine different colored xPods out, and they're fabulous. Each comes with a few models that can be made from the generally 50 or less pieces, and that's cool. But I'm constantly amazed at the inspired "creations" (he alternately calls them "inventions") that Matthew makes with each xPod. Having played the worldbuilder game so much, he's now daily making new good and bad xPod creatures and vehicles and enacting the game. Pretty cool. (He's 4.) (Actually, we did something similar for a while recently with the various castle kit pieces. He and one of us would build dozens of obstacles and challenges for the Knights of Morcia to battle their way through, creating our own constantly changing quest, of sorts.)

At any rate, we didn't have much planned, other than that I wanted to go to ArtFibers to check out Chai. When I logged on this morning, I was greeted with several e-cards, including one from my Secret Pal, and a number of kind messages and good wishes from fellow bloggers, which I loved getting.

After dropping Matthew off at school, and sticking around long enough to help him make a fishing pole (one of today's optional "projects") and watch him catch a yellow fish in the swimming pool of paperclipped (so they're magnetic) bubblewrap fish in the play yard, M, Spencer, and I headed to ArtFibers.

Spencer is cutting yet another tooth and has the bit (okay, so more than a "bit") of congestion and crankiness that goes with that, so it probably wasn't the best day to yarn shop with him. Once he spotted the rack of hanging buttons, he wasn't happy being Bjorned or carried. He just wanted what he'd seen. I was picking up another set of Bryspun needles, so I gave him those to placate him, only to then have him unsheathing them ever few seconds and swinging wildly at my head with them.

Luckily, we were able to look around a bit before he got too fussy. The store has an amazing variety of fibers, and a fabulous array of colors. I can't believe we've never been in there before. The store manager, Kira, was wonderful as well. She was very friendly and helpful without being pushy. (We were also charmed to see our preschool's "thank you" note and class picture pushpinned on the bulletin board with a note written in about them being the "future generation of knitters." ArtFibers supported our school auction last year.)

I'd checked the web site before heading down and realized Chai comes in solids, too, and is then called Siam. (Somehow I'd never noticed them before.) From the pictures on the site, I was leaning towards a solid. Once actually in the store, I was torn between a very pretty Chai in a mix of roses and soft greens and a Siam in a salmony pink. I really was conflicted, but I went with the pink, mostly because M said so, and I do have trouble making up my mind when it comes to things like that. We also picked up some other goodies. The cranky one is crashed asleep in my lap, so I can't get photos right now, but I will.

It was funny when Kira asked if I have a specific project in mind. "The flower basket shawl from Interweave," I told her. "I've seen someone online make it out of Chai."

She laughed. "Lots of people have made it out of Chai," she said. She went on to mention the esteemed Yarn Harlot and how Stephanie mentioned it right around the time the book came out. Apparently quite the influx of Chai orders followed. It's the first time I've been in a store where the world of knit blogs met up with the real world of knitting and yarn. That may be hard to believe, but I still don't know any other bloggers in person, and I remember how shocked I was last year when searching for the Charlotte's Web pattern to find that at two major Bay Area yarn stores I checked they'd never even heard of it. (Charlotte is still popular, but last year it seemed to be all the rage on the blogs.)

So, that was all cool.

Then, I came home to find a package from my Secret Pal. I didn't even know she knew it was my birthday! She sent me a wonderful "vanilla sleepover" kit from The Body Shop. It's great. It's got body lotion, bubble bath, shower gel, perfume, and a sponge all in a sweet little bag, and it all smells divine, and comforting, and cozy. Vanilla must just be one of life's perfect scents. Thanks Secret Pal!


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