Saturday, August 30, 2008

Back in the saddle...

The madness is now settling down. The kids are moved in and I'm back at work. Shelby moved into her dorm on Tues, Aug 19th. A day earlier than everyone else because otherwise I would have had to take Wed, Aug 20th off in order to move her in. So, the boss got permission to move her in early to free me up to start my job.

That was a lost day. We moved most of her stuff in and then it was the obligatory trips to BJ's for bulk stuff and then Ikea for extra kitchen stuff. Because Shelby loves to cook, she offered to outfit the kitchen. (She also had stuff from last year, so we had a good start already.) Still, a couple hundred bucks later, we had her stuff in the suite.

Next day, I was at work to move in the next crop of transfer students into my complex. Work the other job that night. Back at the Village on Thurs and Fri with overtime being worked on campus at the end of the day. Worked Sat and Sun for the rest of the move-in. My knees and hips do NOT (is there a way to underline that word 5 times?) like me standing in a parking lot for 10 hours at a clip. Work on Mon, other job afterwards. Work on Tues and Wed, with overtime after hours to help out with doing decals for the commuter students.

Thursday was a half day because it was Dee's 17th birthday. Happy Birthday to Dee! Happy Birthday to Dee!! No, I won't sing the rest because my voice is kinda shot.

Yesterday was my first "normal" day since the madness began. And, yet, it was a day of a few pitfalls and prats. It began early. I was checking email and went into the kitchen to refill my coffee for that frantic first few cups before I have to trot off to work. I'd just refilled and the cat jumped up on the counter to get my attention. Yes, I'd forgotten to refill the water dish with fresh, cool water. Bad Mommy! So I patted Phoenix on the head and assured him that I'd take care of him. So I refill the water dish and go to grab him... Let me break real quick because Phoenix is a hoot. If you run the tap, he'll just plant himself and drink from the faucet. I have no clue where he picked up this habit, but you've got to watch him. Leave a faucet running and he'll just block access while he sips away... /sigh/..... Okay, back to yesterday morning. I go to grab him and catch the top of my freshly filled coffee cup. Coffee everywhere!

Course, he just sits there and wonders why his feet are now wet. So I have to toss him down and mop up everything in sight. Lovely way to start the day.

Then it's off to work. Things are going well. I'm currently working on finishing the plain socks in Winter Wonderland while also working on the Pembrokeshire Pathways socks. To keep interest high (and keep boredom from setting in), I usually work on one colorway for a while, then switch to the other for a bit. Back and forth. This way I'm never working on any given project long enough to get bored with it. I also try to stagger my projects so I'm working on the first sock of one set while finishing the second sock of another. This way, every time I finish a "set", I have a new colorway or pattern to look forward to. This method keeps my interest for those long stretches of time that I have every day for knitting.

Anyway, so I'd started with the pattern. It takes a bit longer because it's a bit more involved, so I tend to spend a little more time with that. In the meantime, I also listen to podcasts and books in audio. I'd finally gotten over to Heather Ordover's CraftLit podcast and I have a LOT of catching up on the books. So I'm listening away to Tristan & Isolde (yes, I started in the middle and let's not even bring up the trouble I've had with my iPod lately) and paying attention because this was my first time listening to the final chapters when I decide to switch over to the Winter Wonderland socks. I can pay more attention to the podcast because this is straight stockinette stitch and I can practically knit these socks in my sleep. So I look quickly and figure I've got to turn the heel, so I put my hands on autopilot and direct my attention to the podcast.

So I spend the next few hours listening to chapters of books and switching between the two socks. It's about 2:30 in the afternoon when I look down and the ball of Winter Wonderland is looking mighty small. I'm only halfway down the instep and foot and panic begins to set in. I'm going to run out of yarn before I can finish the toes on this sock. This has never happened with Gypsy Girl yarn. Ever. And I'm thinking I might have to write and complain to Cathi....

Then I turn the sock to work on the other side (I knit all my socks in Magic Loop) and notice that it's looking VERY long...

I really should have saved it for a picture. Or even taken a picture with my phone.

I'd turned TWO heels. Thinking back, I'd just reached the end of the foot the day before. It was time to begin the decreases for the toes and I'd set it aside. I really hate beginning a decrease and then having to stop. The day before, I knew I didn't have enough time to finish the toe decreases, so I'd set it aside and made a mental "note" to just finish the toes the next morning and the sock would be done.

So much for "notes", right? Instead of doing the quick 20 rows of decreases and a Kitchener, done with the project by 10AM, I'd turned a second heel and spent half a day knitting a new 40 unnecessary rows....

/wry g/

Like I said, I really should have taken a picture of this thing with two heels. Luckily, it was early enough before the end of my shift that I simply frogged the whole thing back, added my toe decreases and was done with the sock in short order.

Needless to say, when I got home last night, I tucked away anything with needles and spent time with my wheel.

The other thing I did last night besides spin was to go to the Durham Fair website and begin the process of committing myself to what I'm going to enter. I picked out three categories--Fiber, HandKnitting and Sewing. In the Fiber Category, I'm going to enter some 2-ply handspun and a pair of knitted socks from 2-ply handspun. That's all I have to enter for Fiber. Maybe next year I can try a 3-ply as well as a 2-ply, but I'm not brave enough yet for that. I'll also need a Lazy Kate because my wheel itself has 2 posts built in to hold bobbins for plying, but I'll need 3 posts to do a 3-ply. Anyway.... In the HandKnitting category, I'm going to enter my PW sweater in a colorwork pullover, a plain sock, a patterned sock and I'm going to enter Dee's fingerless mitts (the ones that are purple, pink and white) in the Miscellaneous category. I have to check with my MIL to see the state of her shawl that I made her last year. If it's in good shape and she hasn't felted it, I'd like to enter that one in the shawl category. But I haven't committed to that one yet as I have to check. Finally, I have a bunny that I made _years_ ago that I'm going to enter in the Sewing category of Handcrafted Toy. I did enter another bunny years ago and won a first place ribbon, but this one has been adorning my shelves without a ribbon to call its own. So I'm going to dust her off and enter her so she feels special like her buddy.

I won't win enough points to earn the Hall of Fame in any way. Someone who enters Sewing stuff always gets that because you can sew a LOT more stuff than you can either knit or crochet. I always wanted to win a Hall of Fame (they display all your stuff separately from everyone else), but knitters and crocheters don't have a chance... /sigh/ Six articles won't get you into the Hall of Fame area.

Let's see if there's anything else in the past couple weeks. I wanted to mow today. The grass is almost knee high because I haven't been home to mow, but it's misting/raining. Too much to be a mist, too light to be rain. So, would that be rist? Or would it be main? /g/ That's okay, though. I have lots of laundry and housecleaning to do. When you only come home to flop for 10 days, things tend to back up and stall. And I have a cake to bake for Dee's official "party" tomorrow. We're taking her to Red Lobster so she and I can pig out on snow crab and then we'll come back here for cake and coffee. That's when I can check with my MIL about her shawl. I might have to wash and block it for the Fair, but that's okay. My mom has tons of floor space. Can't do it in my house because the boys would take one look and exclaim "CATBED!!!!!" White cats on a burgundy shawl. Not a good mix.

Okay, time to hop in the shower and then get on the cleaning gloves and work my way around the house. Start with the bathroom and end up at the radiator in the living room. It's amazing the accumulation of dust that can gather in the crannies of a radiator, isn't it? I've never been vigilant, but with oil prices going through the roof, I have to be better about "clean" heat so the boiler doesn't have to work so hard.

Have a wonderful week!!!! I'll gather items for pics for next week. I should have the Pembrokeshire Pathways socks done by then and they truly have turned out gorgeous. So gorgeous that I actually want to knit more patterns in the future. What a concept. After four or five years, I now want to knit patterns. Heck, I'm even thinking of an Aran sweater. I must be way too tired if thoughts like this are cropping up... LOL!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Completed... Wow!

I'm now done with 4 projects. It's hard to believe how they all finished around the same time, but lots of pics to take. YD actually got up before I finished updating this post, so I grabbed the camera and shot away. Well, okay, she shot the pics, but I have pics to show!

It takes so little to make me happy, doesn't it? Almost downright pathetic... LOL!

So, what have I done? I've finished 3 pairs of socks that were begun way back when. I've got my last pair of Plymouth Happy Feet all set and ready to wear.

I also finished another lovely pair in Stone Barn Fibers' Spring Fling. Geez, this yarn is simply divine to work with. Seriously, though, if you're a sock knitter and you haven't tried Cathi's yarn, you should. You're depriving yourself if you don't. She uses the same "blanks" as Koigu, but you get more yardage and enough to finish a healthy-sized sock. As soon as I get back to work, I'm placing another order because I'm running low and she's got some new colorways that are itching to be added to my stash... /wry g/
Anyway, last pair is done in Cherry Tree Hill's limited edition of Cherry Blossom. Nice yarn, nice variation on color, but the yarn is thicker and loftier than their normal "blanks". In fact, the socks are a bit big for me. So I'm going to pass these over to a friend of mine. I'd promised her a pair of socks this summer and this will be the pair.

She'd bought a skein of Farmhouse Yarns Fannie's Fingering.... Hmm, I think the colorway is Secret Garden. It's greens and pinks. Either way, I'd told Linda that I would knit her a pair of socks from it, but the CTH actually cost me more... Yikes! That's okay. Linda is a great friend. I've begun teaching her to knit because she absolutely LOVES handknit socks, but progress is slow and she's not ready yet for socks. She's not really a crafts type person. Long story, but she's one of the few friends I have who I'd consider knitting for rather than teaching her to knit her own. I'm not sure she'll ever complete a project, so I don't mind tossing in a project every once in a while. Anyway, I'm going to give her the CTH socks and I know she'll love them.

Lastly, I finished the Stone Barn Fibers' Blueberries n Cream fiber. I really think this yarn is fine enough for socks. I have 600+ yds of it, so I kinda hate to limit the knitting to socks, but my goal was to spin my own yarn to knit socks and this one fits the bill. So I'm now knitting like crazy so I can make a pair of socks for the Durham Fair. I can enter the other yarns into the fiber category for handspun, but this yarn definitely needs to be knit into something.

So I have several projects now dedicated for the Durham Fair. I have to check the categories, but I want to submit my Philosopher's Wool sweater into the sweater category. I want to submit handspun into the fiber category (I'm currently working on Crown Mountain Farms' Buffalo Soldier). A pair of socks in my Blueberries n Cream into the handspun/handknit category. Then I want to knit up that Secret Garden into a plain vanilla pair of socks. And I should be ashamed of myself for not thinking sooner, but I ran out yesterday and got a couple skeins of Koigu in a multi-hued pink/lavendar for a pair that I want to knit in Brenda Dayne's pattern called Pembrokeshire Pathways. I'd begun it in a variegated, but the colors hid the pattern and the pattern is really pretty. These socks have to be knit in a fairly plain color so the pattern will really shine.
It's funny because I've looked at the pattern since it came out. It looks so durned hard and intricate. It's not. It's labeled for intermediate knitters, but it's really only a 4 row pattern. Yes, there's a 4-stitch cable. Big deal. And then there are some yarnovers and k2tog in the 3-st band. Seriously, not a big deal. But oh, so pretty.

So I have one sock to finish in Stone Barn Fibers' Winter Wonderland (yup, one lone sock for a pic) and then I can cast on for the Pembrokeshire Pathways. Lastly, I have to see if the girls know where their fingerless mitts are. I did knit those in the last year after the fair had finished, so they should be eligible for this year's fair. Actually this yarn would have been spectacular for the Pembrokeshire Pathways pattern, but I've already finished the first sock and I hate to even think of frogging the whole thing just to add a pattern. Maybe sometime in the future I can order more yarn and do a second pair in the pattern. I really do think this is one of the few with splashes of color that won't detract from a pattern, especially a pattern that looks as complicated as Brenda's.
Course, who knows? New patterns might come to my attention. Wouldn't it be funny to just order lots and lots of this yarn and make all different patterns from the same yarn? Oh boy, my brain is starting to fry... /wry g/
Oh, I have to tell the most wonderful news! Cathi at created a whole new color just for my Mom. Mom was saying that she'd like to see more yellow. After all, it was spring and you can't help but think of daffodils and jonquils and crocus. So Cathi created Buttercup for my Mom. A beautiful hued yellow. I have to get over and order some.... but then, I already admitted that, didn't I? There are some lovely patterns that have come out recently that I'd like to try, but you really need either a plain color or tonal yarns so the patterns really shine. I've done a few socks combining very simple patterns with variegated yarns, but you either lose the pattern in the colors or the colors in the pattern. Usually, it's the first.
Besides, I have that textured argyle that I still have to finish. I think it would look gorgeous in Cathi's new hued color called Miss Mary. Let the texture speak for itself. What's more is that the texture would really shine in Cathi's yarn because the yarn is very shiny, which relates to highlighting the individual stitches very well in the completed project. (If only I could afford to make an entire sweater out of Cathi's yarn... Wouldn't that be heavenly?) I think her yarn would show better in a textured pattern than, say, Crown Mountain Farms Bearfoot yarn, which has mohair and is a lot softer in texture.
Can you tell I'm fumbling through what I'm trying to say? LOL! But some yarns are better for stitch definition than others. Not that the yarn is hard. It's not. It's just so smooth that it gives a better definition of the individual stitches than other yarns. Lorna's Laces is another example. Even though it's wool, it knits up similar to cotton. Very defined stitches. That would work well in a textured pattern like Cathi's at Stone Barn Fibers. Yes, even Blue Moon Fibers' Socks That Rock (STR) is good for stitch definition. Then others, like Sheepaints, Fannie's Farmhouse and Bearfoot give a softer appearance and wouldn't work well for stitch definition. Heck, my own handspun is too soft in appearance.
Oh well, I'm beginning to ramble and, as usual, I haven't taken my shower to start my day. We have pictures to pick out for YD's yearbook in about two hours, so I s'pose I should get moving. Today is a day to catch up on bills and get more spinning in. I have a couple pounds of roving to spin up so I can do my Christmas projects and, though it might only be August, Christmas will be here before we know it. (Yes, this is me nudging not only you, but me! LOL!)

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Mosh Pits and Dragsters

No pics yet because DD hasn't cleared the memory card out of the camera. But I have pics to take of several ongoing projects. Maybe I can get to that tomorrow.

In the meantime, let's start with Mosh Pits. Last weekend, I went to my first all-day concert in probably 25 years. My girls wanted to go to the Warped Tour and they were at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island last Saturday. I did make them wait until we knew that the weather was going to work with us. (I went to one concert in the rain and never again! /g/) Well, the weather looked good, so we ordered the tickets and took off for a 2-hour drive each way.

Traffic worked well and we arrived shortly before 11AM. We parked, crawled into the crowd and made our way in. Think of this. Six stages set up in various areas of a huge parking lot. Probably 40+ bands, all playing at staggered times, but each stage having some band playing at all times. Lots of tents with promotion stuff. Tents with other stuff (like sun lotion for $8 a tube). You don't know how much money I spent that day, but overall, it wasn't bad.

And I was honored that my girls invited me. Okay, okay, let's be honest. I was invited by younger daughter because her boyfriend couldn't go unless I did the driving. But I have to say that older daughter invited me (and offered to pay for my ticket) because she thought I'd enjoy it. She was right. It was just as hot and sticky, but fun, as the concerts I'd attended when I was a teen. And my girls are old enough that I didn't have to worry about riding herd on them all day. There were parents there with 10- and 12-year-olds. Course, I wouldn't consider it when my girls were that age, but I'm considered a very restrictive parent. Go figure. I'm a strict PITA and my girls invite me... /shrugging/ Maybe parents should be reading my blog and taking notes... LOL!

Well, the day went well until the very end. Poor Shelby. Her favorite band, Anberlin, was hitting the stage at 6:40PM (yes, it was a long day), so they'd worked their way into the crowd during the band prior to Anberlin. They did manage to get right upfront, against the barrier that kept the crowd back from the stage. ABout three songs into the set and disaster struck. Some guy was launched up for a session of crowd surfing (if you don't get some of these terms, drop me a note and I'll be happy to explain) and landed right on her. Smacked her face down into the barrier. There went the nose again.

I was standing at the other side of the stage. Yup, I knew they were up front and that little warming light was flashing in my head because I'd seen the mosh pits and the crowd surfing all day. Next thing I know, their friend Joe comes from behind the stage and tells me one of the girls is hurt. I run around and find Shelby covered in blood. All I can think is Not Again!!!!!
Yes, this is the same daughter that had the accident three months ago.

A day later and once the bruising really came out, I don't think she broke the nose again. I think it simply got smushed against the barrier. She had bruises on her cheeks, a couple small cuts to the nose itself and a healthy fat lip that showed the clear line where the metal barrier hit.

She's fine now. Worse part for her is that the band did not have a good night. She'd waited all day since this was her favorite band and they played lousy in her opinion. Everyone else was okay with their performance, but she was greatly disappointed. And to end up bloodied in the midst of it certainly didn't help.

The other bad news is that the concert ended up very expensive. Earlier, she'd gotten caught up in a mosh pit at another band's concert and lost her brand-new prescription sunglasses. We did our best to find them, but they were nowhere to be found. And it cost her $200 to replace them... Yikes! Poor kid just can't catch a break this year.

Last night was the drag races. We go to Night of Fire at Lebanon Valley racetrack every year. They bring in jet cars and a good friend of ours races. Kind of an annual outing. It was a gorgeous day. I even got some excellent video of the jet cars that younger daughter uploaded to youtube. Great smoke and fire and this year I wore my ear protection.

But the best part and the reason I have to get younger daughter to free up space on her camera is because I finally took the time to teach myself to spindle. I grabbed some old fiber and tossed it into a ziploc with the drop spindle I'd bought at the Connecticut Sheep & Wool Festival back in April. I've been meaning to sit down and simply Do it!, but I always found some excuse why I couldn't. Well, I had time. I took the blanket up to the grandstand to "mark out our seats" and simply made myself sit until I got the hang of it.

After spinning with a wheel for almost two years, it wasn't hard. A few tricks, but I already had a basic understanding of draft and twist. It was simply putting it together and just doing it. I had about two hours or so during the time trials to play and I took full advantage. In fact, I was having so much fun that I'd pull it out later when there was a break in the action during the actual races. And I got some of the strangest looks possible. People trying to figure out what the heck I was doing, but no one had the guts to outright ask me. I could have explained, but I liked being this weird lady doing something beyond comprehension. It kept them watching as I'd set the spindle to spinning and then pinch out the fiber and let the twist run into it. Pinch some more, draft more, pinch and draft, pinch and draft. Then wind it up as the spindle lost steam and start again. It's not even, nor is it pretty, but it's hand spun on a drop spindle. So now I have to refine my language. I have my spinning and I have my spindling. I kind of like that idea. And I might just have to take some to work with me when I'm back at the university. I may not have room in my booth for a wheel, but if I can drop spindle in a crowded granstand at a racetrack, I can surely spindle in my booth... LOL!

I'll see if I can get back tomorrow with some pics. I did finish that first bobbin of Blueberries & Cream and I'm about halfway done with the second bobbin. Then that can be plied, washed and whacked. And I think I'm just going to reach into my big box of fiber to see what comes out next. I have no idea what it'll be, but it sure is fun to have a choice and I can't wait to see what I'll be spinning next....