Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Felting, kinda

I took drastic measures with two of my wool sweaters. One is my Rogue, and the other is my Mariah that I just finished. Rogue has always been about 10 sizes too big, and I never wear it because it is too sloppy and huge, even though the knitting and assembly parts did turn out very well. Mariah suffered a similar fate - I wore it this weekend, and it is at least a couple sizes too big, and the sleeves were way too long.

So, I crossed my fingers and tossed them into the washing machine, set to a regular load at medium temperature. My washer is a front loader, and I'm pleased to say that no actual felting took place. However, I do believe there was some shrinkage, which was exactly what I was looking for! I'll know tonight for sure - they are drying on the bed in the guest bedroom. If it works, I'll have to try the same thing with my Lace Leaf Pullover - that thing has expanded to ridiculous proportions. It has moved beyond comfortable and into clownish territory.

Incidentally, my washer has an awesome "Handwash" cycle that works great for all the handknits that I don't want to shrink. It saves me water, work and drying time :)

I'm taking a break from sweaters and working on my Lenore socks. I always forget how much I love Blue Moon yarn until I start using it again. And the pattern is fun. I just turned the heel on the first sock last night, so I am making pretty good progress.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Finished - almost

I need to backtrack a little bit and redo the neck and collar for Mariah. I used the tubular bind off (which turned out really awesome, BTW), and tried the jacket on. The neckline is huge, and not nearly high enough. I'm going to do more research, but from what I've gleaned so far I really need to decrease more, from 164 stitches to about 100. It's only 16 more rows, then another 30 for the collar, and then I should be in decent shape. I have noticed that people had problems with the size of the neckline on the pattern, and I'm not sure that it was completely addressed with the corrections. However, it may also have to do with my gauge, since I haven't really checked that out yet.

The good news is that the rest of the jacket fits just right, so if I can fix the neck I should be in excellent shape :) I'm still pondering a button band - I think it would probably be the best solution for me and the way the sweater fits me. And the yarn washed up soooo nicely :)

Our new washer has a "handwash" setting, which seems to work splendidly with all my handknits and handwashable garments. It's so nice to have a "cheater" way to wash my clothes.

While waiting for my sweater to dry so I can tink back the collar, I got started on my Vintage sock kit in Claret. I got over the initial mental retardation with the leaf portion of the pattern last night, so I should be able to breeze through the rest of the leaves pretty easily. They're just so darn cute!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Radio Silence

Don't you hate it when real life interferes? The past couple of weeks have been a little insane.

Firstly, one of our cats needed to have surgery. It took the vet about a week and a half to figure out that Fionna ate some string, which explained why she stopped eating and drinking, and would hork up anything she did try to ingest. This seemed to be a case of getting caught up in the details of a diagnosis - we were given every possibility from diabetes to stomach cancer. We kept bringing up the possibility, "Uh, is it possible she just swallowed something?" So yeah, the hubby and I are slightly annoyed. 3K later, we have a much happier, healthier cat. It's a good thing we love her. She gets her staples out today, which means we can set her free from her bedroom prison, which will thrill her to no end.

On top of that, J's parents came to visit this past weekend, so we set the goal of finishing the front stairs and preparing for their visit. They were our first guests in the new house, and I think things went swimmingly. They seemed to have a really good time (despite getting snowed on, WTF spring?), and they were comfy in the guest bedroom. We do need to get some additional pieces of furniture (vanity/dresser and nightstands), and slap a coat of paint on everything, but it is all workable for right now. Hopefully we can meet those goals before our next visitor arrives for Memorial Day weekend!

I've still made time to work on Mariah. I finished one sleeve, and am about 2/3 of the way through the other one. It's getting so close I can taste it. I think I will keep things simple and do a 1X1 rib for the button bands and the collar, so they will lay flat and blend in with the rest of the design. I may get a week of wear before the weather starts warming up too much.

I also made it to the Yarn Harlot/Blue Moon event at the World Forestry Center. What fun! It's always such a joy to see these events so well attended and full of "my people". I wore my Clapotis (because it was really chilly), and got tons of compliments. I also got to meet more people from the Abundant group, and I'm looking forward to spending a little more time knitting over there in the future. I got tired early, so I bowed out of the actual book signing portion of the evening, but it was all a good time.

It was only later that I started hearing stories about at least one of the moms at the event getting dumped on because their kids were being unruly. Honestly, I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary going on, so I was pretty shocked. I don't know - I think I hold knitters to a different standard than other people and expect them to react to situations with common sense and aplomb, so to hear of people being so unreasonable and nasty took me aback. It's not the type of event you bring children to - really? Was that posted somewhere and I missed it? I'm pretty sure Steph isn't anti-child, being a doula and all. Sigh - it makes me sad.

I'll admit, I've had a lack of patience with children in the past, but I always chalked it up as my problem, not theirs. As a result, I've never confronted anybody about their child misbehaving. I like children, but do not have any of my own, and therefore I could not imagine what it is like being a mom, or what I would do if my child suddenly went nuclear and threw a tantrum in a public place. I have several friends who are very anti-child, one of whom confronts people regularly or throws a fit themselves if a child starts making noise in a restaurant or a movie theater. This makes me embarrassed more often than not. Maybe I'm getting more calm about these things in my old age, but if a baby is just making happy noises, it doesn't bother me as much as it used to.

Anyway, rant over. Some people are naturally unhappy and feel the need to spread that unhappiness far and wide. I don't want to be one of them.

Next post - some pictures of the Yarn Harlot event, and maybe some yarn while I'm at it.

Monday, April 14, 2008

What a weekend

Yuck - can I get a do-over on this past weekend?
Saturday, we took Fionna back to the vet because she still wasn't eating on her own. The vet sent us over to a facility on the east side that does ultrasounds and MRI's for animals. The ultrasound confirmed what J and I pretty much knew (but the vet couldn't figure out) - she swallowed some string, and it was messing with her GI tract. There was no UTI, but definitely inflammation. The string had worn through the lining of her small intestines, but not all the way through to her gut, so they had to remove 1/3 of her intestines because of the damage. As of today, she is resting comfortably, running a tiny fever, and actually EATING, so I get to pick her up tonight. I know she will be very glad to be home. She got codeine AND Valium (lucky girl), so hopefully that mitigates some of the stress that she has been through the past few weeks.
We are irritated with the vet for not sending us for the ultrasound a week ago. We suggested numerous times that it could be she swallowed something, especially since we just got new carpet. I think the fact that she had no abdominal pain threw them off. I'm experiencing a little deja vu on that score - the same thing happened with my gall bladder episode. I had no abdominal pain, but excruciating back pain, and it took an ultrasound for the doctors to figure out what was wrong with me. I was lucky that the ER doctor had a "hunch", but I had also been in pain for about a week and unable to eat before anybody figured it out. My poor baby.
We did manage to get some work done over the weekend. J's parents are visiting this coming weekend, and we didn't get as much done on the guest bed as I would have liked, but it is liveable. They have a bed to sleep in, and an empty closet to hang up their clothes, and a small bookshelf to store personal items. J got the stairs painted - we will check and see if it requires a second coat. Then we'll do some touch-ups with the polyurethane on the treads and be done! While he was working on the stairs, I tackled the weeds in the front garden. Working with this soil is heavenly - no clay or rocks to contend with. The weeds just slipped out of the ground. I also explored the mass of ivy on the pathway and shaved it down to a more manageable level with the weed whacker. I definitely need to remove it and replace it with something less tangled and invasive. But that is a project for another weekend, once I have a plan of action. One of my ideas is to put an herb garden out there, since the front gets full sun.
I also baked some sourdough from the starter I began about a week and a half ago. Unfortunately, I baked it too long, and ended up with some extremely crusty loaves! I also should have put the dough in loaf pans, to give them some structure to rise up instead of out. Lesson learned. It did taste great with the daube provencale I whipped up Saturday night, almost like rye bread.
I need to swing by the visitor's center to snag some brochures for local events and attractions. The O'Donnells will arrive Thursday afternoon, so they need stuff to do on Friday while we are both at work. So far, we have Astoria and maybe a visit to Saturday Market on the docket for this weekend. It will be nice to see them, and I can't wait to show them the house. I just wish the weather was going to be nicer for their visit (although they may want some rain at this point!).

On the knitting front, I finished another pair of socks. I knit the Inside Out pattern, this time for myself, with some Lorna's Laces DK yarn in a yummy wool/silk blend. Mmmm, so soft on my feet. I've also recommitted myself to Mariah. I just finished the first sleeve last night, and have started on the second sleeve. I hope that I can get that sleeve wrapped up in the next week or so and join all the parts together. Luckily it stays fairly cool in this part of the world, so I should be able to get some wear out of my sweater before summer kicks in.

And, I'm not sure if this is a tragedy or a blessing for my wallet, but I just figured out that I am mildly allergic to cashmere. I've set all my sweaters aside, so I don't accidentally put them on one morning and suffer the consequences for the rest of the day. My scalp breaks out in painful bumps and I'm itchy and uncomfortable when I try wearing any cashmere item. But it's so soft! Oh well, I'm sure my bank account thanks me. At least I don't have the same reaction with wool!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Happy Unbirthday

I am so fortunate to work for an old-school company, because for some reason they consider Good Friday to be a paid holiday. Yay for three day weekends! Alas, J didn't have the day off, so I taunted him from the kitchen and the sofa with my knitting and true crime procedural dramas on the TV.

It wasn't all negative for dear J, however - I did finish this spiffy new Brioche stitch hat for him:

Believe it or not, this is my first experience working with more than one color at a time! J kept it on his head for a good portion of the weekend. I also continued working on my Mariah sweater. The short version of this very long story is this - I made the sweater (in the round!). I decided to try the sweater on. But I was stupid - I'd been on a diet since starting the sweater, and apparently went down 4 inches in my chest measurement. I was swimming in the thing. So now I've totally redone the body, and am finishing up one sleeve. I still have the other sleeve to go before yoke-ing it all together. I actually went down two sizes - unbelieveable. I love the sweater, but I periodically have to do something else, like a pair of socks, because I am seriously sick of knitting this freakin' sweater.

I also got experimental and baked an unusual treat - bacon chocolate chip cookies. I had read about somebody's version on the intertubes, and decided that it should be tried at least once. All I did was add two 12 oz packages of fried, chopped bacon to my normal recipe. Yummy, but man are they filling! I ate two cookies, and didn't think I'd be able to eat dinner that night.

Oh, but I would have been wrong. J wanted to get out of the house, so we went to McMenamins and managed to put away an order of Scooby Snacks (mini corndog nuggets), fish and chips, and their apple and cranberry crisp for dessert. Goodbye diet!

Last but not least, J decided to spend his birthday money from Mom by purchasing a new acoustic guitar. He couldn't fight the itchy fingers anymore. Now he can happily strum away while dealing with work emails from idiots (I almost left it at just "emails", but decided it's not nice to call your friends "idiots" ;) ).

So, not quite an official birthday for J (because he refuses to acknowledge his birthday and hates celebrating it), but a happy one nonetheless. Happy unbirthday!

The rest of the weekend was spent doing small stuff around the house. We started moving furniture out of the loft, in preparation for the carpet to go down on Thursday (yay!). We also went through all of our SCA stuff, and stored most of it up in the attic in sealed containers. J got a bug up his butt on Sunday and decided to start priming the stairs. They look so much better, just with the primer! One more coat, then we can slap the trim paint on and call it a day.

I'm looking forward to my trip down to OC this weekend. I haven't been back down since the big move, and I'm excited to see everyone. People are talking about how "chilly" it's been, but I look at the weather reports and I have no idea what they are talking about. Since when is 50 degrees chilly?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Maiden Voyage

My first post! I have a personal blog (siobhan_genie.livejournal.com), and I've even had a knitting blog that I let fade into the ether. So I decided to start fresh and new. Plus, I figure I didn't have much of an audience with my previous blog to begin with, so it's not like I am abandoning/confusing any imaginary readership.

So, about me. I am 34 and live with my husband and three cats in the Portland, OR area as of May 2007. I am originally from Orange County, CA. Nice area, but got too expensive. I also despise hot weather, so living in the Pacific Northwest suits me just fine. I can also actually wear my handknits here, which thrills me to no end. In 2006, my husband and I had the insane idea to move out of state and settle somewhere new. After much research and a delightful vacation, we decided that Portland would suit us best. It's a small city that is liberal, progressive, and funky. The whole area has personality, and I love it. Between trying to sell our house in CA (at what turned out to be the beginning of the giant downturn) and finally getting settled here, I haven't had a whole lot of time to start blogging again until now.

I first learned to knit from my mother when I was about 12. I didn't get into it at the time - I was more of a counted cross-stitch gal. About 4 years ago, a friend of mine handed me her copy of Stitch N Bitch, and I was immediately hooked, and haven't put down the needles since. My favorite things to knit are socks. I'd like to get more into colorwork and sweaters, and I may actually be able to do that now that my life has settled down some.

As I mentioned, I did have a knitting blog before. I didn't really know what to do with it at first, since I had my LJ blog that I was also updating. But I have a plan, and I think it will keep both blogs from feeling neglected. It will also save my friends on LJ from having to read about my knitting adventures - I'm afraid most of my friends just don't understand the appeal.