Sunday, January 23, 2011

Four Leaf Clover

Okay, be warned, rant beginning.  Snow.  And more snow.  You know, being from Maine, you'd think I'd have some tolerance for the white stuff.  You'd be completely and utterly wrong.  When I was younger, I used to not really mind it, but felt no affection for it. In my early twenties, I could put up with it, although it annoyed me and got in my way. Now, I completely despise it. Seriously, if I never saw another snow flake again in my entire freaking life, I'd be happy.  My mother keeps asking me why I live here, but I hate the heat. The thought of 115 degrees in the summer in Arizona makes my skin crawl too.  Somebody find me a place I can go live that's 70 degrees all year round, and I will be a happy woman.  Rant off.

In other news, I had a really nasty stomach and intestinal flu on Monday and Tuesday.  I didn't feel like knitting what I had on the needles, because it was too complicated and required too much thinking, so I ended up spinning for two days in between flying trips to bathroom, as it requires very little movement and no thinking.  I discovered a potential problem with my stash reduction plan.  Remember when I said not all my fleece, top and roving was in my Ravelry inventory?  Well, as I spin it up, it gets added to Ravelry database, which increases my overall total.  I'm now considering whether to go ahead and inventory everything so that I have a solid number to try to reduce, but I don't know how crazy that is.  In any case, the stuff I spun up this week was not in Ravelry. 
I spun up a Grafton Fibers (now Dyak Fibers) multicolor batt, with greens blues and black.  I should have taken a before picture, but I didn't realize I hadn't documented it in Ravelry.  I did a 2-ply, plying from a center pull ball wound from the bobbins, and got this interesting striped effect.  It'll be interesting to knit.

The second roving I spun was a Foxfire Fiber & Designs at Springdelle Farm Hand Painted Cashmere & Tussah Silk Top in colorway Greylock.  I have two of them, each is 2 ounces, and I've spun up one of them.  I used my very, very fine flyer for the Lendrum wheel and spun it very fine.  I Navajo plied it, to preserve the color changes, which results in a 3-ply and it's still not more than a sport weight, although I haven't done the wraps per inch or the McMorran Yarn Balance to determine the yardage. The other reason I chose Navajo plying, is that the singles were so fine that attempting to do a 2-ply from a center pull ball would have been impossible and I would have ended up with a snarled mess. I could have tried to even the bobbins up to do a 2-ply from the bobbins, but I hate doing that. 

With respect to the 2011 Yarn and Fiber Stash Reduction Plan's goal of spinning 4 ounces per month, I've completed January and February's required totals and I'm working on the goal for March.  I'd like to continue to spin more than the plan requires, but I figure this will give me a safety valve if I end up having a bad month later on.

In knitting news, I finished the leaves for the Vintage Sock last night.  All 34 are complete.  I started the toe for the sock, which is my first toe up sock.  It had been a long time since I had tried the cast on method used, so it took me three tries before I got it moving.  I'm about to start making the hole for the inlaid leaves.  The directions I thought were fairly unclear. I had to read them 4 times before I got what the heck she was talking about, and then it was late, so I decided that I might need to tackle them with a slightly less tired brain.  We'll see how it goes today.  This morning I blocked the leaves so the two toe leaves would be ready when I needed them. Right now I'm doing it on two circulars, but I'm going to move a twelve inch circular as soon as I can.  

I've also encountered another dilemma with my stash reduction plan.  I found a great pattern, which you can find here, if you have a Ravelry account.  I have yarn, Noro Silk Garden, that would be perfect.  However, I only have 9 balls of it, not the 15 I need.  I bought the pattern already, but I'm still debating whether it's permissible to violate the no yarn purchasing provisions of the plan to get rid of the 9 balls in stash.  It would be a net reduction of stash, but it would violate the terms under which I am currently permitted to buy yarn.  Sigh.  The knitter peeps have decreed that the purchase would be justified under the spirit of the plan, but I'm having issues with the technical violation.  Apparently, that whole law school thing is messing with my brain.

In writing news, I'm still complying with my writing plan, although not when I'm actually scheduled to do it.  But in any case, I made my 1,000 words this week. Yesterday before the meeting of the Misplaced Modifiers, I gained 1,165 words for a grand total of 64,407 words and 213 pages on the novel.  The meeting was at Mary Kate R's and she had some lovely dairy free snacks.  There were herbed biscuits that were yummy (I really need that recipe), and lovely open faced tea sandwiches, as well as mini chocolate cupcakes.  The sandwiches were soy cream cheese with mango chutney, shrimp and some green leaf, maybe watercress.  They were too round for spinach. (Mary Kate, feel free to weigh in here).  There were also spinach hummus with cucumbers.  It was wonderful.  Sally H-D brought the law firm (aka her son, who is about five or six months old now, the kid has a really long name, hence, the law firm), and he is really starting to look like his sister.  Sally's book, her Ph.D thesis on Peyton Place, is now in production.  Yay!

Shawn and I also began planning a cruise this week.  We haven't booked it yet and we're still working on it, but I just want to say that it's all Alison M's fault.  After she went to St. Thomas last week, I kept thinking about how nice it would be to go on vacation again. I'm hoping the tax return will cover it, since the one we're looking at seems pretty inexpensive. 

On Monday I'm headed to the doctor.  I messed up my knee the day after Christmas by falling on the concrete steps going into my apartment (my fault, I tripped on my coat) and it's not better.  If I bend too far, I get a fuzz burning numb pain. Which keeps moving.  Of course, on Friday I took a dive in the parking lot at work and cracked it again, so I'm thrilled about that. (Note rant about snow above.)  I'm also suspecting that I have another undiagnosed food allergy, as I've had a couple of incidents that seemed like the same reaction although I had no exposure to milk.  Cross your fingers that nothing shows up.

And that's all the news that's fit to print.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


So this has been a slightly twisted week, thus the song title "Twisted." It's a really cool song actually.  If you're following along on Itunes, I'd check out the versions by Joni Mitchell or Anne Ross.

I might have mentioned getting a calendar to manage my New Year's resolutions.  I got a purple monthly calendar from Staples, which Mary Kate R. has affectionately named "the purple calendar of doom."  Me, being me, have scheduled out time to work on both my resolutions.  What is amusing to me, is that although I don't necessarily follow the calendar, if there's a time and a goal written down, I will make it up in the same week even if I don't comply with the original plan.  For example, in order to make my new goal of a thousand words a week during those weeks in which I am not participating in a challenge, I scheduled writing time on Monday and Thursday from 7 to 9 pm.  On Monday I blew it off because by the time I finished the laundry, blocking a sweater, and making dinner it was 10 pm and I was too tired.  On Thursday I blew it off because my back was a wreck after digging out.  So on Saturday, I made it up.  However, if I don't schedule something, I won't do it.  And it has to be written down somewhere.  If it's just a vague intention, I won't do it.

So to report, on the writing front, I finished the challenge with Linda D, last weekend and gained 5,088 words, 18 more pages, for a grand total of 61,974 words and 205 pages.  Yesterday, in making up for blowing off the regularly scheduled writing, I gained is up 1,268 words, for a grand total of 63,242 words and 211 pages.  I'll be posting the file to the Misplaced Modifiers site for the meeting next week later today.
I did use the headset to use the speech recognition feature built into Windows 7 to dictate some of it. 

In spinning news, I'm supposed to spin 4 oz a month.  So yesterday I spun some roving from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks some time ago I think at NH Sheep and Wool.  It's a 50/50 wool silk and it was lovely.  It took a bit longer than the two hours I'd booked to spin it though. I decided that I wanted the barberpole effect with this yarn, although I considered a navaho ply, so it's plyed on itself.  It's quite soft, and it took care of one half of my goal for the month.  Woo hoo!

In knitting news, I have 24 out of 34 leaves done.  I have two more of the copper pennies color and then eight in spring green and then I can block them and start the actual sock itself. It's a toe up sock and the toe is a bit fiddlely as the toe has a leaf shaped hole in it so that you can sew one of the leafs into it.  Honestly, I'm going to try it, but if it's really god awful, I'm going knit a plain toe and applique the stupid leaf on it and call it good.

Lastly, as I reported above, I got the Tramline Cable Sweater blocked. I wore it to work on Friday.  I had some pictures taken of me in it.  However, none of the pictures that I actually look attractive in, had sufficient detail of the sweater, and the pictures which have sufficient detail of the sweater, I look horrible in.  The detail of the sweater picture won out, and here it is.  Yes, I'm well aware I'm not photogenic at all, damn it.  

On Friday, Shawn and I went to Le Gourmet Chef to get more CO2 for the Soda Stream machine and get some soda flavors. While we were there, I saw a silicone egg poacher that you could use in the microwave and the stove top. So I had to get it, because I love poached eggs, but I never make them because I hate the mess. If you're doing it on the stove top, you put the bottom part in a skillet with 3/4 of an inch of simmering water, crack the eggs in the cups, and cover the skillet.
I just tested the stove top version so far, as I am suspicious of the microwave version.  For that you crack the eggs in the cups, put the clear plastic cover on and microwave on medium for 30-45 seconds.   The stove top version worked, but I may need to cook them a little bit longer than the directions say.

And that's most of the news this week.  Say tuned.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sculpture Garden

This week was the first week back at work after vacation. The less said about that, probably the better. So in fiber related news, I finished the Tramline Cable sweater, as you can see from the picture. If you want to see the blow by blow on my Ravelry account, the public link is here. I haven't blocked it yet because I don't have a bucket that's really big enough, and I don't want to wash it in my 20 quart stock pot, so I need to go get a plastic tote or something to wash it in. That's why there's no picture of me wearing it yet, although I do like the fit other than the longer arms, but I can correct that with blocking.

So on Sunday that meant that I had to pick my next project so I'd have something to knit at Guild. I kept mulling over options until I nearly ran out of time, if I was going to wind some yarn before going to knitting. So I ended up grabbing one of the kits, Vintage Socks by the Tsarina of Tsocks (Lisa Grossman). Which of course is insane, but it does comply with Item 6 on my 2011 Yarn and Fiber Stash Reduction Plan. Each sock has 17 leaves on it, which have to be knit separately. I have seven leaves knit so far. The color way is Pinot Noir, and I bought the kit a year, maybe two years ago at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool. It's actually not been too bad yet (said while looking above for the knitting gods to strike me dead with a 14" aluminum #11), so hopefully it'll go quickly. The leaves also have to be left on live stitches for an integrated bind off at the end, so that'll be lots of fun too. Ha. In any case, this whole thing should give some of you a good laugh.

In other fiber related news, the very last yarn purchase of 2010, prior to the implementation of the 2011 Yarn and Fiber Stash Reduction Plan, arrived this week.  I also got Margaret Stoves' Wrapped in Lace book, which is fabulous, and Double Knitting Reversible Two-Color Knitting by M'Lou Baker.  The double knitting book its fabulous for ideas, interesting patterns, and technique, but not so fabulous for range of sizes.  Everything appears to be one size.  So if I were to actually use this book to knit a project, I would forced into redesigning most things to fit the intended person.  Most sizing is not fat friendly either.  

On Tuesday, a weird thing happened.  I went to the drycleaner to pick up my clothes so I would have something to wear to work the next day, and when I went in, there was a guy making coffee at the free coffee station.  After I told the attendant what I was looking for, the guy says to me, "Hey, I'll make you a killer deal on some meat I have out in the truck, I'll take checks, credit cards, cash, food stamps, whatever."  I said "What?" and then he explained that he delivered meat door to door, and he had one last crate to get rid of to make some incentive with his company.  I was so puzzled I said I'd look at it, and he said he'd wait for me outside.  After getting my clothes, and making the attendant promise to call the cops if the guy threw me in the back of the truck, I went outside.  The truck had painted insignia on it, and the guy pulls out this box and starts showing me the frozen vacuum packed meat.  It had 6 ribeyes, 8 filets, 5 NY strip, 6 flat iron, 5 beef loin, and some hamburgers.  He showed me a flyer that package was normally $389, and said he'd give it to me for $200.  I said I couldn't do that, it was too high and there were only the two of us.  I said I'd take the ribeyes and the filets, and we haggled the price on that to $80. Then he said he wasn't really supposed to break up a crate, and that it was really worth it to him to sell this whole thing to make this incentive, so he'd give me the whole thing for $127.  So I said okay, and bought the crate. So either I got a killer deal or I got taken and the steaks suck.  We'll see soon, we're defrosting some to try this weekend.  I think that's one of the most random things that has ever happened to me.

On Wednesday I headed to knitting guild, working on leaves of course.  This week's meeting was at Borders in Concord, and as we were leaving, we were looking at all the kits they have in the clearance section.  Some of you may know that I have requested, repeatedly, that Shawn make me a sculpture.  I have said that it could be out of playdoh, mashed potatoes, pipe cleaners, etc.  So when I saw this kit, it was only natural that I bought it for Shawn to assist him in his endeavors.  Shawn was not enthused, and called me a dork.  But how is my encouragement going to work if the raw materials are not readily available for him to use?  I'm not sure this changes my odds of receiving a sculpture in less than a year, but, hey, can't hurt, right?
Yesterday my Dansko purple clogs arrived.  I love, love, love them.  I nearly cried, but restrained myself to squealing and jumping up and down like a little girl.  Yes, I know, I have no shame.  But I truly can't convey how fabulous they are. 

Last night we went to Taipei & Toyko with Chris and Kristie L, and Chris and I started drinking Zombies.  They were really yummy and really freaking strong.  We had a really good time, although my legs weren't working properly by the time we left, and I had to let Shawn drive us home.  Kristie got a new job with new hours so we may actually be able to see each other more often, which is really good.

This weekend, I'm supposed to be doing a challenge with Linda D so that I have something written prior to the next meeting of the Misplaced Modifiers.  I have to have 5,000 words by Sunday at 8:00 pm.  As of 9:55 a.m. this morning, I have nothing.  So I better get to it, now that blogging has given my foggy brain cells a warm up.

Stay tuned for further updates as they occur.