Monday, October 29, 2007

Off the Back Burner

This weekend was a really nice blend of some of my favorite things. There was lots of sunshine. I drove down to the University of Cincinnati and had lunch with my son John yesterday. I finished one of Nancy’s mysteries and started another, and I did a whole lot of knitting.

Dave worked both days. I don’t know when I’m going to get another weekend with so much uninterrupted knitting time, so I knew I’d better make the most of it. That meant pulling out the dreaded Albatross (Alpine) Shawl. I haven’t touched it since the middle of September.

It took me a few rows to get back in the swing of things. Right away I remembered why this project seems to be taking forever – it’s patterned on both the right and wrong sides. Instead of just purling (or knitting) across the wrong side of the shawl, one has to follow two lace charts. The pattern calls for 37 pattern repeats of Chart B. By last night I’d completed 38. I was a little dismayed because the shawl is only 48 inches long. If I stop at this point and add the edging, it will be 56 inches before blocking. Now I know that blocking can work miracles, but somehow I don’t see it adding 6 inches to this shawl.

(Note: The end looks wider than the rest of the shawl because it hasn't been pinned out. The edging comes to points at each end of the shawl. I'm pretty sure that once it's shaped properly during the blocking process, the ends of the shawl will be the proper width.)
This kind of thing happens to me often. I knit loosely and usually have to go down a needle size to get gauge. Then I don’t get the row height I need and have to knit extra pattern repeats to get an acceptable length. Fortunately, I’ve still got a fair amount of yarn. Unfortunately that means I really don’t have a magic number of total pattern repeats to look forward to. I’m just going to have to keep going until either a) the shawl is long enough or b) it looks like I’m going to run out of yarn. Now you know why I call it the Albatross Shawl.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Taking Stock

I still have the Japanese Vines scarf on the brain. So when I received an email from Yarn Girls offering Cherry Tree Hill Super Solids sock yarn at $12.99, I jumped on it. In spades.

That's Teal, Turquois, Sapphire, and Cherry. It's taking every ounce of self discipline I possess (which granted, isn't much to begin with) not to cast on immediately.

However, I must stay focused. I've already got the following projects on the needles:

John's Scarf - worsted weight merino Malabrigo in the Azul Buscando colorway knitted in Woven Stitch is now 48 inches. At completion it should be a minimum of 72 inches and maybe as long as 84 inches. A challenge for anyone with the attention span of a gnat.

Dream In Color socks - in the Deep Seaflower colorway. I've got to tink back a few rows at the toe of the first sock, but I could probably finish it in an hour if I applied myself.

Alpine Shawl - otherwise known as the dreaded Albatross Shawl - from Victorian Lace Today made with Sundara silk lace weight in the Cobalt Over Mediterranean colorway. I'm past the halfway point on this one. I put it aside when life got so crazy that I was too tired in the evenings to knit anything that required concentration.

In addition to the Japanese Vines scarf, there are a few other projects in the que:

  1. A hat to go with John's Scarf
  2. Another pair of Dream In Color socks - this time in the November Muse colorway
  3. A Shetland Triangle Shawl - in Knitpicks Merino Style - the Frost colorway, I believe
  4. A Sunrise Circle Jacket - in Rowan Summer Tweed in the Brilliant Colorway

Given all of that, it will be hard to justify purchasing yarn for an Aran Pocket Shawl or a Wool Peddler's Shawl from Folk Shawls. (Sigh.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Good News!

My friend Joe's stepson is coming home from Iraq today. He was supposed to come home in August but his tour got extended. He's home now, safe and sound, and that's what counts.

Nancy asked to see a picture of the scarf I'm making for my son, John.

I photoshopped the photo a little to lighten it so you can see the pattern. The scarf is actually a darker blue. The yarn is worsted weight merino Malabrigo in the Azul Buscando colorway. Since the yarn is handpainted, I'm knitting from 2 skeins by alternating every 2 rows. I bought 4 skeins (215 yds each - a total of 860 yds) hoping to have enough for a long scarf and a matching hat. At this point I've knit 45 inches, and I may be able to get another 5 inches out of the first two skeins so there should be enough for a hat.

The pattern is called "Woven Stitch." I borrowed it from a pattern in the Design Source Collection 1 booklet. I really love it because it's easy to memorize, looks nice, lies flat, and really shows off handpainted yarns in "solid" colors nicely.

Woven Stitch:
Cast on a multiple of 4 stitches plus 1
Row 1: K to back loop, *p3, k1 * (repeat until there is 1 stitch left), slip last stitch with yarn in front
Row 2: K to back loop, p until there is 1 stitch left, slip last stitch with yarn in front
Row 3: K to back loop, p1, *k1, p3* (repeat until there is 1 stitch left), slip last stitch with yarn in front
Row 4: Repeat Row 2

I'm not sure if I can knit a hat that incorporates the woven stitch in any way and still looks masculine enough for John, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Log Cabin Afghan - Finished - FINALLY!

It seems like forever since I finished something. The Log Cabin Afghan turned out pretty well, I think. Initially, I had some trouble with the trim. I tried I-cord, but I just wasn't happy with the result. I was using black worsted weight Galway and started with size 7 needles, the same size I used for the rest of the blanket. However, the gauge of the I-cord was too tight and made the blanket pucker along the edge. When I tried size 9 needles the yarn was too thin, and the I-cord didn't look right. This second attempt was helpful, though, because it showed that a narrower rather than a wider border would look fine. In the end, I knitted the border in log cabin fashion. Once it was done, the border really made the afghan come together somehow.

Right now the afghan is draped over the loveseat in my living room. (I know. The pillow, and the loveseat for that matter, have got to go.)

There's already a lot of color in that room. The colors in the afghan may work better in my office, which is painted perwinkle. I may decide to take it to the office when (if?) the weather gets cold.

I'd like to make another log cabin afghan with browns and beiges for the living room sofa someday, but I'm not sure I have the attention span for that. Changing and mixing colors kept this project interesting. Even so it seemed to take forever. Right now I need me some instant gratification.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Putting Our Marriage to the Test

On Saturday, Dave and I pulled the boat out of the water to prepare her for winter storage. It's a nerve-wracking endeavor, because Dave loves that boat so much. There's always a risk that the boat will get damaged in the process. When we lower the mast, I always feel as if I'm watching my marriage flash before my eyes.

The day dawned sunny, cool, and very windy. When we got to the marina there were a fair number of boats still in the water.

The boat ramp is across the lake from the marina. Dave took the sails down and put them in storage a couple of weeks ago, so the first order of business was to motor across the lake. Dave always does that. It's my job to drive the truck with the trailer from the marina around the lake to meet him at the ramp.

Dave untied the bow line and attempted to start the motor, but the motor wouldn't catch. When the motor did catch, it kept dying out. After some tinkering Dave got the motor running and cast off. I was afraid the motor would quit and he'd get stranded on the lake, but Dave waived me away.
I drove over to the ramp, but when I got there I didn't see any sign of the Odyssey. I waited for a bit, but it still didn't appear. Then I began to worry. If the motor cut out while Dave was still in the marina, the wind could blow our boat into other boats and do some damage. I drove back to the marina and got there just in time to see Dave motor through the break in the jetty out onto the lake. (I never did ask him why he was delayed. There's an element of macho pride in all of this, and some questions are best left unasked.)

With the wind up Dave was really going to need my help when he got to the boat ramp, so I quickly turned back. On the other side of the lake, I parked the truck and walked down to the ramp. Dave was heading my way when he suddenly started to drift off course. The bow turned 90 degrees, and I knew the motor had cut out. I watched Dave repeatedly pull the cord (much like starting a lawn mower), but the motor wouldn't catch. When Dave dropped anchor, I knew he was "concerned" about being blown all over the lake.

Unbeknown to us, a fellow sailor had observed Dave's troubles. When he saw Dave drop anchor, he asked another boater to see if Dave needed help. After repeated attempts to start the motor and some discussion, the pontoon boat ended up towing the Odyssey to the ramp. This was a little humiliating, so Dave and I said little about it.
We tied the Odyssey to cleats on the dock, and Dave backed the trailer as far down the ramp into the water as he could. Winching the boat onto the trailer took some effort. A by-stander helped. Dave had to get in the water. When no one was looking he silently mouthed "The water is FREEZING." I tried not to laugh too much. I wasn't able to take pictures because I helped, too.
Once the boat and trailer were on dry land, we had to take the mast down. It only takes about 10 minutes, but we were both tense. The mast is heavy but it would be manageable if it weren't so unwieldy. Once again, I wasn't able to take pics because I had to help. We used pulleys and a winch, and the mast came down safely. Our relief was palpable.
The wind made everything harder. It blew the ladder over, but fortunately I was on the ground at the time.
Dave took the motor and the tiller off.
Everything was stowed with bungy cords, and we headed for home. Since we were towing the boat, it was a slow drive. We left the house at 8:45 a.m. and didn't return until after 3:00 p.m., relieved to have the task behind us. We'll have to do the whole thing in reverse when we put the boat back in the water in April. I have from now until then to talk Dave into buying a new motor.
On Sunday, Dave was sore. I was sure the muscles in my arms, neck and upper back would hurt, but they didn't. I was able to knit in comfort.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Before & After

Well, sort of. The plumber did his thing and kindly laid the new vinyl tile flooring around the toilet. He left the rest of the floor to Dave.

Pulling up the remaining linoleum is no fun. Dave started last night and hopes to finish before he goes back to work on Sunday.

When the plumber left on Wednesday afternoon, the floor looked like this.

The new flooring is above the old. It looks much nicer and makes me long to remodel the bathroom - but all in good time.

I'm still exhausted and finally got to the place where I couldn't be nice anymore. So, I'm taking today off. Nancy sent me a pile of mysteries as the perfect "relaxation gift." She's the best!

We have to pull our boat out of the water and prepare it for winter storage this weekend. All boats have to be out of the marina by Nov. 1, and this is the only time Dave and I are off together. Aside from that odious chore, I intend to knit and read and just be alone as much as possible until I feel like my old self again.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Houston We Have a Problem

I'm home this morning. The plumber is here. On Sunday I discovered that the pipe that leads from the toilet into the basement was dripping "sludge" onto the top of the washing machine. Ew eeww eeewww. It wasn't a steady drip, thank Goodness, but I'll spare you the pictures all the same.

We got lucky. The ply-wood immediately under the vinyl flooring needs to be replaced, but the subflooring is fine. That means one doesn't have to worry about falling arse over tea kettle through the floorboards into the basement when one is sitting on the pot. It also means we don't have to replace part of the subflooring. Yay.

We knew the plumber would have to rip up the vinyl flooring. Last night I hit Lowes and Home Depot and picked out some self-adhesive vinyl tiles that will look fine until the day comes when we remodel the bathroom. The remodel is on the list, but there are so many things ahead of it.

Knowing the plumber was coming this morning, I couldn't bring myself to set out the Log Cabin squares to begin to sew them together. Once I set them out I'm going to want to leave them out, in piles anyway, until I'm done. So last night I worked on John's scarf. The worsted weight merino Malabrigo was soothing. I'll feel better once my house is in order.

Monday, October 15, 2007


The last of 5 domestic violence awareness events ended at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon, and I've been unwinding ever since. Last week is a blur. All I know is that whole days went by without any knitting.

On Saturday I began weaving in yarn tails on Log Cabin squares. I thought the task would take forever, but it went relatively fast. I was finished by noon on Sunday, and got the first 8 squares on the blocking board.

This is the remnants of the yarn tails after the weaving in.

Last week I drove Dave's Explorer because I had to cart a large number of materials from event to event. This morning I hopped into my car and drove toward the office. After about 10 minutes it occurred to me that the event materials were still in Dave's vehicle. I needed them, so I made a U turn and headed back home. Dave didn't work today. To avoid being late for work, I decided to just take the Explorer rather than take the time to transfer the materials to my car. I figured I'd unload the Explorer at the office this morning, then bring it home at lunchtime and pick up my car. As it was I got to the office 10 minutes late. When I opened the tailgate the materials weren't there. It turns out Dave had very considerately transferred them from his vehicle to the trunk of my car yesterday.

Tonight the remaining 8 Log Cabin squares are on the blocking board. While the first 8 squares were drying I cast on John's scarf with the Azul Buscando Malabrigo. Pics soon, I promise.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Blown Away

I got a much needed break over the weekend. I knit most of the day on Saturday, and when I got too tired to knit at 11:00 p.m. I picked up The Kite Runner. That was a mistake. I couldn’t put it down and literally stayed up all night to finish it.

The story is set in Afghanistan and is about how relationships and lives change after a boy is raped. It’s about a failure of moral courage and redemption. It’s about coming of age and relationships between men, boys, fathers and sons, the privileged and servants, and between races/ethnic groups. The story is beautifully written, tightly woven and full of nuance. It gives insight into Afghan culture, the beauty of Afghanistan before the Taliban, and the devastation under the Taliban.

I was surprised by how much the story resonated with me because all of the main characters are male. There was little discussion of the treatment of women in Afghan culture or under the Taliban but none of that detracts from the story. I’ve heard that Khaled Housseini’s next book A Thousand Splendid Sons is about women, and it’s supposed to be a very sad story. Assuming it will be just as moving, I’m going to need a little time to process and move past The Kite Runner before I can read A Thousand Splendid Suns.

The Log Cabin Afghan continues to progress. Last night I got a good start on the LAST square. (Yay!)

At some point it dawned on me that the colors could bleed in the blocking process. (I use the total emersion method described in The Knit Stitch by Sally Melville.) Teresa suggested I put white vinegar in the water to keep the colors fast. She said the more vinegar the better. I’m not sure how much vinegar I should use, but I invested in the biggest bottle of white vinegar I could find.

First I have to begin weaving in ends. Each block has about 18 yarn tails. This could take awhile.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Survival Mode

I am responsible for 5 domestic violence awareness events planned for Wednesday, Oct. 10 – Saturday, Oct. 13. (If you’re in driving distance and interested, email me for details.) Luckily I have a really great planning committee. We’ve been working on these events since January.

The first event is in 8 days, and right now I wish I were on a beach somewhere, or lounging in a beautiful garden, or near a waterfall, or in a foreign country. I wish I were anywhere but here.

The pressure is intense. My phone rings all day and emails are pouring in with inquiries about the events. That’s a good thing. It means the community is interested. But by the end of the day I want to say: STOP! I need to think (knit). In the evenings I’ve become anti-social. After answering questions and solving problems all day, I really need to de-stress (knit). If it weren’t for my interior (knitting) life, I’d lose my sanity.

That’s probably why I, Miss Attention-Span-of-a-Gnat, have been able to stay focused on the Log Cabin Afghan for so long. I really need that mindless knitting right now.

As of last night I’ve completed 11 of 16 squares.

You would not believe how much time I spent photo-shopping (that's a verb, right?) this pic to give you some idea of the true colors. I hope you can see them on your monitors. If the blanket looks garrish, then the colors are off.

It will be such a relief when the last event is over on Saturday, Oct. 13 and the blanket is finished so I can concentrate on something else.

Walk for Awareness

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. My agency got a jump on the "festivities" by holding its annual awareness 3K walk/5K run on Sunday. The weather was beautiful.

The walkers and runners congregated inside a shelter at a local park for the opening festivities.

The turnout was great this year - 300 people pre-registered, and more people registered on the day of the event.

In the back of this picture you can see the Silent Witness Exhibit. The sihlouettes are memorials of some of the women and children from our community who have been killed by their abusers. Sadly, there are many more, but there simply wasn't room to set up the entire display.

The Timeless Band played "Yesterday Was Me" a song written in memory of two local victims. It was really moving.
Last week I received my invitation to Ravelry. Wow. What a blast! I didn't have time to get into it until the weekend. Everyone says Ravelry is a tremendous time-suck, and it is. But no one told me it requires "work." It took me 2 hours to set up my profile and post pics and info about some of my projects. It's fun, though. I've already received 2 welcome emails from people I don't know. (Hi Jennifer! Hi Linda!)
My Ravelry screen name is "thatsusan."