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Diamond Fantasy Shawl


I finished the Diamond Fantasy Shawl for my mother for Christmas 2006. I love it - and I love the colors. Yes, it's Koigu. I'm a fan, I can't help it. I upped the needle size by 1 to account for the heavier weight yarn. When I was finished, I wasn't sure it would be big enough. As it came off the needles, it looked really short and wide, but blocking transformed it, and it's actually quite large - larger than my Charlotte 35, I think. The pattern is fabulous to work. Really, it's wonderful, and the fact that you are working the little edge points as you go along is fascinating and amazing and perfect and a true joy to do. The "diamonds" don't really show up in the photo all that well. But, I love the set, still. The pose is similar to the one I captured when taking photos of the Charlotte's Web I made for her two Christmases ago. She's not really comfortable in front of the camera this way. But I think they're beautiful shots.

By the way, thanks to Sharlene (AKA Mommio) for the heads up that parts of the new layout were not rendering properly in Safari (and, as I discovered, Firefox). Hopefully things are shaping up now, but if you run into problems using the browser you use, please do let me know. And, check out Mommio's rockin' newly completed Socks that Rock socks. I have to get me some of that!

A good day

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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!

Tots and Spots

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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!

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

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, Shields… all up my alley. George Eliot, Alcott, Gaskell, Phelps, Bronte(s)… 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.

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