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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Christmas is coming...

Happy nap
While visions of stuffed mice dance through Somerset's radioactive little head, I'm working on some Christmas gifts.

The Cow-IL. The story behind the name is available on it's Ravelry Page. Being knit out of some Drops Alpaca laceweight.

Mom's Abbey
Abby for my Mom - combining Kidsilk Haze and some of the leftover Zephyr laceweight. This is my first time knitting with KSH, and I'm not sure what all the fuss is about. Maybe I'm not susceptible to it's so-called magic.

Mom's Abbey - close
I'm knitting it on smaller needles than the pattern calls for - hopefully it will make for a more wind-proof fabric.

We are visiting my family from December 13-16, so I had better get back to my knitting!


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Qu'est ce que c'est cette Zeum-aire?

Judith left a great comment on my last post "shoot me if you ever see me wearing a red hat and purple shirt": bwa ha ha!

My goal for our "golden years" is for The Gambler and I to look like this couple:

They sat near us at a tea room in Montreaux, Switzerland last October.

The ascot, the beret, the leopardskin - magnifique!!


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Things you find on The Internets...zoomer edition

It's bad enough we're stuck listening to their music until the end of time...

I don't have the intestinal fortitude to see if designer branded canes and walkers have hit the market yet; it seems the big labels are into almost everything else already.
(Case in point 1, Case in point 2)


Friday, November 21, 2008

Wrap up

I had to go to a meeting at the hospital on Wednesday, so it was The Gambler who rescued picked up Somerset from the penitentiary vet hospital. He said that she was meowing non-stop all the way home, but the second her cage made it across our threshold she started purring. When I did get home, she made strange for a minute or 2, but then remembered me. Since then, she's been an almost permanent fixture on the couch beside us.

She is her usual sweet self, and is eating better than before she went into the hospital. The only external sign of anything having been done is the patch behind her right shoulder where they shaved her fur to do an ultrasound of her heart (she's got a benign heart murmur).

She hasn't demonstrated any new Spider Cat super powers (yet.)
Greedo is relieved that all is right with the world again; when we came back from watching a movie Thursday, he wasn't sitting in the front window waiting for us.
The wrap ended up taking 2 months and 7 days to knit. I'd hoped to finish it before my Wednesday SnB, but when I picked it up that morning, something wasn't right:

I had mucked up the 4th to last square. The problem was that at this point, I was only checking the pattern to see how many rows before a colour change, and what colour came next. So I missed the instructions to cast on 12 stitches.
It was easy enough to fix - I just ripped out that square and re-knit it. By the end of the SnB, I was on my last square. I was to tired to stay up long enough to finish it, so I finished it yesterday morning.
Of course, I have some ends to deal with:It's not as bad as it looks - I wove in most of the ends as I knitted it - I'd estimate that 90% of the ends just need to be trimmed.
I decided to block it first for 2 reasons:

1) Blocking it with wires seemed like a cinch compared to dealing with ends (especially since The Gambler was able to help me slide the wires through the edges stitch by stitch).

2) I thought it would be better to weave the ends in with the fabric "stretched out"; hopefully this way I can avoid having ends showing through. I am going to try to hide the ends in the "seams" (where I picked up stitches) as best I can.

I have a fair amount of yarn left over. Just to remind you, this was what I started with:
wrap yarns
It was a nice project, but I was happy to be done with it; I'd consider knitting something similar in the future, but wouldn't do it right away.

Now, what to start next?


Thursday, November 20, 2008


Somerset is home!

The wrap is complete!!

I didn't have to drive in to work today!!!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tee and Toast-er... a term I learned in medical school. It refers to little old ladies who primarily exist on tea and toast, subsequently developing various nutritional deficiencies. (Sadly, many of them may become much more common as the economy tanks).

Recently, while wading through my bloglines backlog, Polkadotmocha led me to Toast.

Which seems to be the perfect solution of what to do with T-shirts, 3/4 length and "bracelet length" (i.e. "they aren't supposed to be cropped, but they are too short for my arms") sleeves in the winter. Since I am still not completely won over by the concept of fingerless gloves (because if my wrists and palms are cold, the ends of my fingers are cold too), I like the fact that I can pull them down to cover up my hands/fingers if need be.

When I bought this Noro sock yarn, I had planned to use them to knit striped knee socks. (BTW - I came up with the idea, and told Glenna about it as we stood in front of a Kureyon Sock display. Glenna is a knee-high sock knitting GENIUS, and thus cranked out a pair faster than you can say "Kitchener Stitch". She's even the same height and shoe size as me, so that's alot of knitting)
But maybe they're the right ingredients for Toast.

Of course, I've got several options - to alternate colours every few rows, to double up the yarn, or, to do a combination of doubling up the yarn AND alternating colours. I'm envisioning knitting with 2 skeins of each colour, and to switch from doubling of one colour to a strand of each colour to doubling the second colour.
It might look really cool...or it might look like crap.

Man. I have to learn how to knit in my sleep.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Can I be excused? My brain is full.

I finished The Feed My Brain Socks before the end of the conference.
Their near-identical state is partly luck; it didn't occur to me to specifically start right at a colour change, so I guessed how far in to the lime green I should start - I'm only off by a row or 2.
Toe up, hybrid heel, Look-Ma-I-can-knit-without-looking-stockinette; took 2 weeks to knit.
It seemed such a waste to have nothing to knit during the last part of the conference, so I cast on for another pair of socks:

These are The Stick to Your Ribs Socks - simple 2x2 garter ribbing.
I like the way that this stitch pattern works with the colour changes - blends them in a bit more. The yarn is Lana Grossa Meilenweit in the Sunset 8707 colourway.
Where does this sock name come from? Well, since every second round is straight stockinette, I have to pay a bit of attention to it to make sure I switch back to a K2P2 row - or else I'll miss the ribs.
Ribbing, ribs? Stick to the pattern? Get it? Stick to your... never mind.
The sock is probably going to fit more loosely than if it was straight stockinette, so I am hoping to make them a bit longer. My intention was to make The Feed My Brain Socks as long as possible. When I had 53g of yarn left, I switched to the ribbing - I didn't weigh the sock, because I thought the circ would affect the accuracy. I didn't expect to have very much yarn left at all; I made a mental note that the hybrid heel used way more yarn than a short row heel. So imagine my surprise when I finished the second sock:
Wait a minute...
The skein (I stuck the remaining yarn into one of the socks for the purposes of weighing) was almost 10% underweight! And I was worried about the weight of the circ throwing off my calculations!!
Because I had the foresight to a) weigh this new skein before I started, and b) start right at a colour change, I should be able to easily match up the second sock to the first.
I hope I'm not tempting the yarn gods to create a Noro-like knot plus colour jump 3/4 of the way through the skein.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Home Alone

The Gambler is in Las Vegas. Somerset is at the Vet Hospital radiating.
This was the sight that greeted me after the first day Greedo spent all alone:
I was worried that you'd never come back.
He's been moping around all week; turns out that he really misses Somerset. He's even eating a bit less than usual. This weekend I was on call in the ICU, and both Friday and Saturday I didn't get home until 11 PM - I felt so bad about him being alone for 15 hours that I slept downstairs on the couch with him both nights.
But The Gambler comes home tomorrow, and Somerset should be home on Wednesday.
Last week I did a bit of catchup blog reading. I saw several posts about cooking or baking.
Now that I work full time and The Gambler doesn't, he does most of the cooking. I still do some meal prep, but it's often more assembly than cooking per se.
Last Thursday I got home from a conference and realized that I needed to get meals ready to take with me to work. And the fridge was pretty bare. So I put together something I thought I would share with my readers:
This is an order of Pad Thai (from my friendly neighborhood Thai restaurant) combined with a bag o' spinach and some veggie ground beef substitute. The orange stuff is shaved carrot. Heat it up in a skillet for 10 minutes, and you've got enough food for 4 meals.
I took this along to work to spice it up. When I ate it at home, I chopped up a tomato and mixed it in. If we had frozen broccoli or cauliflower I would have added that too. It's no culinary feat, but it's tasty, and far more nutritious than straight take-out.


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Who knew?

Did you know that it's still possible to send a telegram? I remember telegrams being a common occurence in movies during my youth, and can vaguely recall a telegram being read out at someone's anniversary/graduation dinner years back.

In this age of relentless connectivity, I'm not entirely sure why you would need/want to, though.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Great things about Italy

When we took a tour of The Vatican, we knew about the dress code from reading our tourbooks. No bare shoulders, no short shorts - although it's not clear whether or not exposed knees were OK.

However, it didn't occur to us that this was the rule in other cathedrals: At The Vatican, you would be denied entry for inappropriate dress, but at other locations (like The Duomo in Florence), those with bare shoulders would be provided with paper ponchos to wear.
Of course there was the art as well; we skipped many of the more famous galleries, but tried to see as much modern art as we could.
This was the (villa's) neighbor's dog ; we called him Cerberus.
As the non-driver, I found the Italian roads quite scenic. The Gambler had a bit of a different experience - at one point he commented that even though he was going twice the posted speed limit on a fairly curvy 2 lane road, two drivers had passed him as we drove uphill.
When's the last time you got boccocini cheese at McDonald's?

I enjoy visiting grocery stores when we travel; it's neat to see what's on the shelves. Chocolate covered Bran Flakes - brilliant!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Day of Remembrance

I heard the story of Private George Lawrence Price on The Vinyl Cafe this Sunday. So sad.

Lest we forget

I don't know of any members of my extended family that fought in any of the last century's wars; my maternal grandfather worked as a chef on the train during World War II, and my paternal grandfather worked on the family farm.

Being a soldier is beyond my comprehension; I cannot imagine living that life. But I am thankful that so many did, and that so many continue to do so. Wars may be senseless, or waged for questionable goals, but I have to respect those who are willing to risk their lives for a cause they believe in.

So each year, I wear a poppy, and am thankful that there is no name attached. But perhaps this year, I will think of George Price during the 2 minutes of silence.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Speaking of knitting...

Work continues on the Zephyr Quilt Wrap:
quilt wrap in progress
I'm a bit more than 75% done - it's portable, but not an ideal purse project - the colour changes (which keep it from being a mind-numbingly boring garter stitch effort) are a little bit finicky, but the biggest problem is that I have to take the stitch marker off at the end of each square, and I don't want to lose it!

Work on the Wrap has been interrupted with some small projects:
dedo primo
With the weather starting to turn cold, The Gambler needed something for his hands. He approved of the Knucks pattern. I used some Mirasol Hacho that I picked up last year. I had 4 skeins of the same colourway, 2 from one lot and 2 from another. I was quite surprised by the amount of variability in the colours between skeins from the same let, as well as within the skein itself - as you can see above, the blue didn't start showing up regularly until I got to the cuff.
Alien dedos
At The Gambler's request, I lengthened the cuff, and also knit the fingers longer - they just leave his fingertips exposed. I probably should have knit the pinkie shorter - I might just try to snip off the end and graft it closed.
I christened them "Dedos", which is Spanish for fingers. A Spanish name seemed appropriate given the origin of the yarn.
Juan Coustagua
And since The Gambler decided to get a super short haircut just before the winter weather sets in, I used most of the remaining yarn to knit this - the pattern is called Jacques Cousteau, but I have christened it Juan Coustagua. 8 inches of 3 x 2 ribbing left me happy to get to the decreases!

hand hoodies
I have been wearing my own fingerless gloves alot in the last few weeks, but find myself wanting something that would keep my fingers more protected from the cold. The pattern is called Negative Space - but I have named them Hand Hoodies. I extended the palm so that it would cover the base of my fingers, as well as the "hood" so that it extends to my fingertips. They await an applied I-cord bind off. I'm trying to decide if I should go up a needle size as the pattern instructs. In order to fit my hands knitted them with US 10.5 (instead of the US 10 called for in the pattern) needles, so going up a needle size to a US 11 means a 1.5mm increase, rather than the .5 mm increase going from a US 10 to a US 10.5 (my kingdom for a 7mm Options or Harmony tip!)
Finally, I started a pair of plain stockinette socks - I've got a 4 day conference next week, and wanted to have something I could work on to keep me from falling asleep as I listen to the speaker.
Turns out, that they have knitted up fairly quickly. I haven't completely finished the first sock - there's still some ribbing to do; I went to see a 3 hour opera simulcast today, and in order to not waste good knitting time, I started the second sock. Luckily I have two 2.5mm circs.
Feed my Brain Socks
Hey! They match my catnip toy!
This is some ONline sock yarn that I picked up at my neighborhood LYS - Passionknit. They moved to a new location at the beginning of September, and I finally got around to checking it a week and a half ago. I need more sock yarn like I need more stray cat hair on clothing, but I couldn't resist the combination of teal and lime green.
BTW - do other people find that sock yarns that are sold in balls rather than in skeins don't get the respect they deserve? I once heard a knitter proudly announce that she no longer used with sock yarn that wasn't sold in a skein. You'd think that if it's good enough for Kaffe Fasset, it should be good enough for her.
A few commenters have asked about Somerset - she's still flagrantly hyperthyroid:
When are you going to turn down the heat?

She's not going in to the clinic until Monday.

Then the radioactive iodine is administered on Wednesday. It's after that that she's going to be kept in a lead lined box for a week. With no visitors.

It's already breaking my heart to imagine it.

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Friday, November 07, 2008


September in Italy is still quite hot, but I did see many "inspirational knits"Forget Prada - my face was pressed up against the glass at the Missoni stores. This particular sweater was quite tame in terms of patterning, but I liked how the stitch pattern combined with the colour changes on the yoke.
Too cute!

Not sure what this lace pattern is - not being able to use the flash through a shop window doesn't make it any easier to identify.

Not a knit, but a neat idea - a silk scarf that was basted and shirred.
And of course, what better time to finish my Tuscany shawl than during our time in Tuscany!
I just kept knitting until the yarn was almost gone. I think I did about 15.5 pattern repeats; maybe 16.5.
Euro coin for scale.
The "just cast off shot"
It took a while after returning home to block it - but here it is:
Blocked Tri Tri Again Toscana
I ended up finishing it one month after the day I cast on - so much for my Ravelympics attempt.

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