Friday, January 26, 2007

Boo hoo

I am depressed. Not clinically, but feeling really low all the same. Why haven't we sold our house yet? There's nothing wrong with it - it's move-in ready, as far as I can tell (aside from all of our crap that we need to move out), we have a jacuzzi, and a washer/dryer and new grill that are staying. Why does no one want to buy it? I really and truly thought that we would be gone by Christmas, and yet here we sit. Is it too late to bury a St. Joseph statue in the yard?

I have to keep reminding myself that there are many others in my position in our part of the country that have had their places on the market for 5 months or more. I'm sick of strangers coming into our house and looking through the cabinets when we aren't at home. Just this last weekend someone went through our medicine cabinet and took some old Vicodin pills that I had accidentally left in there. I am so over this whole process. We haven't had one offer in the past two months at least.

I need to snap out of it. Wallowing in my misery isn't going to help our place sell any quicker.

On the sock front, I've gotten through the heel and am now decreasing through the gussets. The way I'm going, I'll probably finish this up tomorrow morning. Yay, a new pair of socks! Then I think I need to concentrate on that scarf for J. He shoots daggers at me every time I pull the ugly socks out to work on them. I do find that the Denise needles cling a little too much to the yarn, so work on the scarf has been very tedious. I'll go through my needles and see if I have size 6 Addi's - those would be slick enough for the Merino Style.

Tomorrow is our open house, so we are escaping to Del Mar to do some minor shopping and dinner with my family - my Dad and sister's birthdays are next week. I'm looking forward to seeing them and getting out of the house! Sunday we will probably go out to breakfast at The Olde Ship in Santa Ana. They have really good black pudding - mmmmmm. I think I will also employ some "cooking therapy" on Sunday, so I don't just sit around and brood.

I have to say, knitting has been such a blessing during this time that we've been trying to sell our place. Nothing like several projects to take your mind off of things! I think J is a little envious, because he doesn't have any projects to work on right now, and he likes to feel productive. I keep trying to teach him to knit, but he's not taking the bait (yet). Maybe I can con him into making me something to organize my circulars? He IS king of the sewing machine at our house.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cue the calliope music

Now THESE are clown socks:

Now I know that I should take my knitting pics in the kitchen, because the colors here are very accurate. Maybe TOO accurate. Do you see why I couldn't take my eyes off of this yarn?

No, I am not done with the other one yet, I'm not quite that fast. I'm about a third of the way down the leg.

And I'm not going to bother with a picture of the scarf, because it is tres boring right now.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I fucking knew it

Guess what my husband found last night underneath the coffee table?

That's right, my other Denise kit. I'd looked behind all the books on my shelves, and emptied out the entire shelf underneath the coffee table. Except for my striped box where I keep all my correspondence. Sigh. I suppose I should be happy that it was located, and that I will never have to buy a needle between the sizes of 5 and 15 ever again. I am such a dumbass.

I was going to post pictures of my new Fetching gloves, my finished sock and the beginnings of the Dr. Who scarf, but my phone takes such assy pictures that I will need to wait until I get home and take pics with the real camera. So, no distractions from my dumbfuckery today.

Speaking of my finished sock, I shocked myself - I finished that sucker in 3 DAYS. I know that's a record for me. I guess that's what happens when you knit socks with size 3 needles. I started the other one, and I hope to finish it by the weekend. This is going to be the ugliest pair of socks ever. Just wait 'til I post a picture of it. Your eyes will bleed.

I've been stalking some other knitting blogs, because I always like to have new stuff to read online. I also like checking out other people's projects. And, let's face it - I'm nosy and enjoy reading about other people's lives. What I normally do is start at the beginning of the archives and read all the way through to the present. It's insane, but that way I feel like I'm "in the loop", and understand the references and private jokes that I come across later. I've talked about this before, but I'm still rediscovering old blogs and remembering all over again why I stopped reading them. Two in particular are entertaining in sections, but at the same time are overwhelmingly negative and snobby. I'm not always happy-go-lucky, but it takes a lot less energy for me to be content than it does to be pissed off about everything all the time. People like that have always been an energy suck for me. Therefore, it is exhausting to read these blogs. And I don't want blog reading to make me tired.

That said, I've discovered others that fell by the wayside when I stopped updating this thing, and stopped reading blogs for a while, and I still enjoy what these people have to say. Like this one. My type of humor, smart, a little angsty and funny.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Swatch? I do not know what this means.

Looking at the pictures of the sweaters I posted yesterday, I realized how fortunate I am that they turned out looking as decent as they do. You see, I don't swatch. I always want to dive head-first into a project, and damn the consequences. I convince myself that I am being "adventurous", rather than "just making more work for myself". What I find myself doing is knitting along on a sleeve, then measuring after several rows to see if I'm matching gauge with the pattern.

When I redo my Rogue, I'm going to be a good girl and knit a proper swatch to make sure I am getting gauge, since I was SO successful at making estimations on the fly last time (not). I'm also tempted to start Mariah over again - I am about 2/3 done with one sleeve, and I am not at all sure if I am getting gauge. I'll rip out my measuring tape before I commence any ripping.

On another note, here is my office, in the wilds of the Executive Floor of my building:

So open! To everything! I hate it. Thank goodness this floor doesn't get much traffic.

And a crappy pic of one Fetching glove:

I may give these away. They are actually too big for my Liliputian hands. I am making another pair for myself in a pretty cranberry color, and I eliminated one of the cable repeats, casting on 40 stitches instead of 45. So far, they are working out pretty well.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Night Owl

Notes on the Lace Leaf Pullover:

- I used a full TWO balls less than what the pattern calls for in my size. I bought 7 balls, and only used 5. And you can see how big it is.

- I would also change the sleeve cap. There are seven live stitches at the top that are grafted to seven stitches on the sleeve. I would increase the number of stitches at the top of the sleeve and at the cap, because those stitches are stretched to the limit to accomodate my shoulders (you can also see this in the pic in Loop-d-Loop, so it's not just me)

- I blocked the hell out of it from paranoia, and I really didn't need to. Next time I wash it, I will lightly block. It grows after wear, anyway.

- I love, love, love this sweater. And it really is worth it to use the yarn called for in the pattern. I got the yarn at Yarn Market.

I also adore this sweater - it is so comfy and wearable. I can't think of anything I would do to change this sweater. This would be really yummy in Cashmerino Chunky, IMHO. Although it would pill like mad.

And Calorimetry turned out nice, but as you can see I don't have enough hair to really carry this off yet. I think it looks quite fetching with my jammies, don't you?

I bound off my mom's poncho last night and there were two problems: (1) It's not long enough and (2) It's ugly. The Shine Worsted just isn't doing it for me with this design. I will have to think on this some more. Maybe I will have to dive into the murky waters of crochet after all for this one. God, I hope not. In the meantime it is sulking in my sewing basket until I can figure this out.

The title refers to the fact that I'm staying up later these days. I used to be such a night owl in college, staying up until all hours then bouncing out of bed the next morning. The past few years have seen me hitting the sheets at 9pm each night, and suffering through the weekends because I had trained myself to not stay up late. By 11:30 on New Year's, I thought I was going to die because I was so tired (granted, I had made about a 140 tamales that afternoon, so maybe I should cut myself some slack, yes?). That's just pathetic. So, the past few nights I've stayed up until 11. And guess what? I've been sleeping better, and I've had no trouble rolling out of bed at 6 the next morning. Plus I'm able to get a lot more done and I'm more fully rested before bedtime. I'm definitely making a habit of this :)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

So flighty

I'm posting here more than on my LiveJournal. The reason is that I have been so consumed by my knitting recently, and I'm fairly certain that my friends over there don't want to hear about it, at least not without visual aids. And sorry, still no visual aids here. I'll try to get some pictures tonight of the things I've been working on. Maybe I'll flash my stash, too. My camera just takes such crappy pictures, especially at night, so I'll have to fiddle with the settings until I find something that works for me.

Now that I've got my socks on the right sized needles and not pooling, I've lost all interest. I've become a flibbertegibbet (sp? hell, I don't know) with my projects. Instead, I was lured by the evil temptress Calorimetry and her promise of a quick knit. It was relatively quick - I managed to bust her out last night in about 3 hours. I changed the pattern up a little - I cast on 100 stitches, and made her more narrow, so it would be a more petite headband. Plus I was using the last of my Silk Garden from my Clapotis, and didn't quite have enough for the full size version. I don't know if it is my lack of hair (I'm kinda rockin' the white girl afro-puff right now), but it still turned out plenty big enough. I'll wear it more when my hair gets past shoulder length.

Next, I've started Knit and Tonic Wendy's Dream Swatch Wrap thingie, since I had one skein of the exact yarn that the pattern calls for - Alchemy Bamboo. I'll alternate between that and the sock for small fiddly stuff.

What I really need to work on is the poncho. I dropped it like a bad habit whilst dealing with the sock, and I should finish it because it is so damned close to being done anyway.

We've been getting a lot more activity with the house. Agents have brought people by every day this week so far, which is a lot more than in 2006, so I'm hoping for some bites soon. I've also had a flip in perspective in the past few days, since we've now had our house on the market for 5 months, with no serious offers so far. One of my work friends started talking about how her friend's house didn't sell for 8 months. Prior to now, I wouldn't have wanted to hear about it - don't harsh my mellow, man. Now, it makes me feel better that we aren't the only ones suffering in this stupid market. It feels like we're never going to get out of CA.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Stash from Hell

I decided to go through my stash last night. My stash resides in our not-quite-guest room, the room we use to store all of our old craft projects, bolts and large rolls of fabric from the Fabric District, SCA garb, and whatever doesn't fit in the rest of the house. For the most part, it is actually very well organized, and easy to find what you are looking for.

My stash was the exception. It was cloistered in two woven lined hampers, but I had been careless. Remainders from old projects were intermingling (and sometimes FELTING) together. Just a disorganized mess. Plus, I am a little paranoid now about bugs eating everything. So, I got upstairs with my plastic ziplock bags and got to work.

After all was said and done, I was pleased. I managed to untangle some hellish knots. I found TWO sock yarns that I forgot I had. I discovered that my leftovers could make some decent small projects. And that my stash isn't TOO bad (yet). I bagged up my old acrylics and cotton yarns that I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole. I still don't know what to do with that stuff. But at least I know where to find everything now.

On a different note, I discovered yesterday that I can drink regular coffee. Yay! Probably only one cup a day, but that is fine by me.

Oh, and by the way - going down 4 stitches on the socks seems to have eliminated the pooling problem. Yay!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Groundhog Day...with yarn

Nope, still no pictures. I suck.

I'm down to the last ball of yarn for my mom's poncho. I think she will really like it. I will be interested to see how the whole thing washes up - I will toss it into a lingerie bag, of course, since it is essentially a big net :) There are some minor irregularities with the yarn, and I am crossing my fingers that they will be a little less apparent when the whole thing is washed. The russian join totally saved my ass with this project, and I will be using it with pretty much all of my future un-feltable projects.

Speaking of washing stuff, I threw my black sweater into the wash (the yarn IS machine washable). However, I failed to remember that the washing machine that we use tends to RIP UP undershirts and other unmentionables if they are just loose and not in a lingerie bag. So, my poor sweater had two holes, and all the woven-in ends somehow migrated to the right side of the sweater! Ack! Luckily, I was able to repair all damage to the sweater, and all seems well.

I started another project, since I always have to have at least two things on the needles at once. I only have 3 pairs of knitted socks, and I need more! So, I started a pair of plain stockinette socks, knitted toe up using the figure 8 method a la Wendy. I have knit the first few inches of these socks four times, and I'm thinking the fifth time will be the charm. The first go-around, I twisted the stitches on the end of the toe, so it looked like a little braid. Plus, I used size 3 needles (which is what my Cherry Tree Hill Supersock calls for), and the socks were enormous, and too loosely knit. So, I looked at Wendy's Toe Up Sock pattern, and she suggests a size zero needle. Fine. I started over, got the stitches right for the toe, and began the increases. I soon realized that this made a really DENSE fabric, which was a bitch to knit. So, I frogged back to the beginning again. Did I jump up to size 1 needles? No, that would have been smart. I went to size 2's instead, and ended up with baggy ankles again. Sigh....RIIIIIP. Last night, I started these over with size 1's. Now we're talking! The fabric is just the right tension and texture, the fit appears to be right on track. But, what's that? The yarn is suddenly pooling like a mofo. Arrrgh! I am going to try reducing to 56 stitches, to see if the yarn will stripe a little instead. Pooling doesn't normally bother me, but damn - I am knitting with the Fall Foliage colorway, and let me tell you, these are going to be freakin' clown socks as it is , and the pooling made it look like I was having fun with the fingerpaints all over these poor socks. I have never reknit a pair of socks this many times. Wish me luck on this latest experiment.

Incidentally, I am still in love with this yarn. When I started the socks, I brought them to work and set the yarn out just slightly under my desk, so I could gaze upon the colors all day long. I've been slightly unhinged with the love I have for this colorway.

No news on the house yet. Poop.

I'm also trying an experiment of another ilk. I'm trying to drink regular coffee. I love coffee beyond all reason. However, a couple of years ago it got so I could not drink the regular stuff - it made me sick to my stomach. Not long after that, I had surgery to remove my gall bladder and clear out some gall stones. I am convinced that my problems with coffee are linked to this, but I'm not sure. It has taken me the past couple of years for my digestion to equalize. Now that this has happened, I wanted to test the waters again. So far, so good - I'm working on half a cup of coffee, and my stomach feels okay and I'm not too jittery. Wish me luck on this, too - decaf just ain't the same.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Rest in Peace

I took out the socks that have been marinating in my sewing basket for the past year, to see if anything could be done with them. I successfully cleaned off all the dried grass (that's right - I stuck them in my sewing basket, and promptly forgot about them), and ripped back to where I recognized the pattern and could continue. I then thought I should wind up the yarn into a nice ball so it would be easier to work with (duh). In doing this, I discovered many, many little ends in the snarl of Koigu. Did bugs get into my basket? Was it eaten during that long night out in the elements? Who knows. But I had to toss that skein, which was painful for me. Poor Koigu :( I shall have to check my LYS, to see if they have any others in the same dyelot. I still have the second skein, which I haven't touched, so I will have another pair of Koigu socks yet!

I got the last purchases from my Xmas money - a Lantern Moon sewing tote in dark purple and black, and a set of the pink Denise needles. I am very happy with both, and I promise to take VERY good care of this set of needles. I will probably find the others when we are packing to move.

Still slogging away on the poncho. I'm about halfway through the 3rd ball of yarn. I just don't enjoy working with cotton, although this stuff is very nice.

I've also been working on a crocheted cloche, but I realized something - I hate the texture, it's so rough! Silk and wool blend yarn should not feel rough. I found a pattern online for a knitted cloche by Marnie MacLean, so I think I will purchase it and make it. The yarn requirements are very similar, and I will be happier with this yarn in stockinette stitch.

Other than that, things have been very slow around the homestead. We'll have two open houses this weekend, so I'm hoping for some nibbles. I'm so sick of the waiting. We also need to get our fences repaired from the recent high winds, so we are talking with our insurance company and working with them to get a claim check. We also have to work with our neighbors, which I am not looking forward to. Oh well, the high price of home ownership.

Tonight, my husband will be at a whisky tasting thingie, so I will cook myself up a batch of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. Ahhh, my idea of heaven.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Knit whore

I have too many irons in the fire, and yet things keep catching my eye. Like Henry VIII from Starmore. Fair Isle - WTF? No, I haven't purchased the kit (yet), but I will someday, probably after the move. Nothing like diving in feet first, right?

I'm working on my mom's poncho now. The Shine Worsted is working up very nicely. I hope my mom likes it - she's notoriously picky. I'm through the first two balls of yarn and I have 2-3 to go.

After the poncho, I will start on J's scarf. Maybe he'll actually get to use it! Yeah, right. Not 'til we move to Oregon, anyway. I'm very tempted to make the long version, just for fun.

I also have these other projects that are in various stages of completion:

Mariah - most of the way through one sleeve.

Socks - can't remember the name, but they are from Socks On The Road. Patterned cuff and plain legs, with little bitty cables running up the sides. One sock 2/3 of the way done. These are the socks that stuck to my clothes on a camping trip, on my way to the bathroom. Sat out overnight in the grass and the dew. Haven't touched them since, but I really should. I only have three pair of knitted socks, and I want more.

Rogue - technically done, but I am going to unravel and start over. I want to knit a size that will actually fit me. What a concept!

I also have yarn for several more pairs of socks and an Irish Diamond Shawl. And now this fair isle mini-obsession as of late. It used to scare me, just looking at those sweaters. Now I want some of them, and badly. I also just want to learn how.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Back to the grind

What a glorious vacation from work. I could have used another week to fritter the time away, but that just goes to show what a lazy ass I am. I was even too lazy to take pictures and blog.

I did manage to complete one large project around the house - cleaning out the pantry. I shudder to think back on all the expired food and crap that I would never eat that I threw out. Filled the black trash can outside all the way up. Let me emphasize, this was EXPIRED food, so I couldn't donate it or anything like that. I even reorganized the pantry, so I can actually find stuff. I came across so many things that I forgot I had that it scared me! Now it is a manageable size, and I won't have to throw out so much when we are ready to move.

Cleaning out the pantry got me thinking about food and what kind of stuff I eat all the time. I hate the idea of diets, but I wonder if there aren't substitutions that I could make in my regular recipes? More whole grains instead of white flour? Honey instead of refined sugar? I think I will need to do some more research. We have been eating more salads recently, which is good. And I would love to kick the diet soda habit. I'm fairly certain that it's really not good for me to drink as much as I do. I just need to find more reasonable substitutes, like tea.

Oh, and New Year's was a blast. This year, I tried the grand experiment of making tamales. The recipe I used said that I would net about 4-6 dozen tamales. 14 dozen later... no, I am so not kidding. We ran out of the pork filling halfway and had to use cheese. But they turned out great, and the Hispanic people at the party thought the gringa acquitted herself quite well. Now we have a freezer full of tamales. Not that I'm complaining or anything. J and I ended up spending the night at J&M's, and they put us in the guest room with our kitties :) I think we had at least two cats on the bed the entire night. It was sooo nice to be able to spend time with our cats, and to be reassured that they still knew who we were. The next day, I baked up a Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Strata for breakfast, and we had leftovers from the night before for lunch/dinner. We sat around in our PJ's and played video games for the rest of the day. Ahhh, so relaxing! All in all, it was a kickass way to usher in the new year.

As far as the knitting goes, I was ridiculously prolific during my holiday break between Christmas and New Year's. This is what I finished:

A pair of Fetching gloves
The lace leaf pullover
The basketweave v-neck
Two Odessa hats
Brioche scarf (my own design, using the Brioche stitch*)

Yes, I know there are no pictures. I will take pictures and post in the next few days. One comment about the lace leaf sweater - I had TWO leftover balls of yarn after all was said and done. So, I knit M (who is going to Wisconsin in about a week) a big, cushy scarf so she won't freeze. And I still have about 3/4 of a ball left over! Now, I knit very tightly, but this is freakin' insane. The sweater is plenty big enough for me, so I don't know what happened.

I also cast on and started my mom's Harlot Poncho, and I'm working on a crochet project as well - the Simply Cloche hat from Hip to Crochet. I'm not quite halfway and I just started it last night, so I will probably have it done by the end of the week. I'm making it out of Elizabeth Lavold Silky Wool DK in Graphite. Pretty, pretty yarn, and soooo soft to work with.

And yes, I shopped some more. I bit the bullet and bought another set of the Denise Interchangeables, in the pink this time. And a Lantern Moon tote. Somebody stop me.

*What is the brioche stitch? Let me share:

Cast on stitches in multiples of 3
Set-up row - YO, Sl 1, K 1
All other rows - YO, Sl 1, K2tog
Go until you get to the desired length. I recommend using a really flexible cast on and off for this stitch pattern.