Friday, June 26, 2009

It's All In Where You Stand

Wednesday, I started a post that was so boring, it made me depressed just to read the introduction. Thursday morning, there were little patches of blue trying to join hands across the sky, and an errant ray of sunshine intermittently tickling the sun porch, and everything seemed a whole lot more manageable. This might also have had something to do with starting to recover from the extreme lack of sleep I suffered over the weekend or it may have been the two solid weeks of rain. Probably both. Of course I didn't make it as far as actually posting anything due to a severe attack of employment, but hey, these things happen. And employment is a good thing to have, so I can't complain.

During the deluge, my husband and I wondered if the the dry-adapted Colorado wildflowers were going to make it. But despite being beaten down by the ceaseless streams of water, they seem to have survived with only minor damage. We've even got new varieties starting to bloom.
New flowers in the wildflower garden

They're picking up the slack from the violas, which are finally calling it quits after nearly two months of continuous flowers. My mother reminded me that I could keep them going longer by picking off the dying blooms, but we want them to re-seed, so we're letting them go.

So- extreme lack of sleep over the musical weekend. I wish I could say this was the result of staying up late listening to music (which it partly was) but it actually had more to do with waking up early despite staying up late. How does this happen, I want to know? I mean, I'm perfectly capable of rolling over and going back to sleep- with or without shutting off the alarm- on a work day. But apparently not this weekend. On the plus side there was crafting. I started a new pair of socks.
fantasy socks

The yarn is Lana Gross Fantasy- I really liked the colors in the skein- and at first was ambivalent about them as they knit up (this seems to be how I often feel about self-patterning yarn when I cast on with it). But it's growing on me.

Thanks to general brain deadness, none of the more complicated things I brought with me got much attention. But I did do rather a lot of crocheting- I'm almost halfway done with the new baby-or-lap afghan.
lap afghan

The observant crocheters will note that I have mastered a fourth stitch, double crochet (hey, slow but steady learns the new craft). It's actually much prettier than this photo makes it look- off white and navy blue in a bulky weight yarn. All that white yarn for the afghan, about 16 skeins of it? Was a gift from my mother's friend Sandy, who has been doing a little de-stashing. She also gave me a huge amount of beautiful sport-weight cream-colored wool, more than enough for a sweater. I'm still playing with ideas for that. I'm torn between dying some of it, and doing a Norwegian-style colorwork ski sweater, or casting on something extremely textured. In a sport weight yarn I could get a lot of detail. Or I could dye all of it. Decisions, decisions! That's probably not going to be for a few months though, as I have two other sweaters queued ahead of it.

For now, it's Friday, the weekend is blessedly not scheduled for anything, and I have all sorts of things to do, knit, crochet, weed...hmm. Strangely, housework did not appear on that list, but there ought to be some of that, too.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Off the Bench

Today I wrapped up a lengthy carpentry project. Not because it was long or complex though- it had just been around a while. When I bought my house, lo these seven years ago- (What? Seven? *counts on fingers* Yes, seven. Aieee.)- where was I? Oh, seven years ago, the former owners abandoned quite a few odds and ends in their struggle to stuff several tons of clutter into a moving van. Much of it, I simply threw out, but there were some items my thrifty compulsions just wouldn't let me trash. One of them was this bench:

bench before rehab

Now, this was clearly something that had been knocked together out of scrap lumber in the wake of some home improvement project or other, but it was a more-or-less functional piece of furniture. However, brief experimentation soon proved that anyone attempting to sit on it had a better than even chance of getting a splinter...well, we won't go into detail on just how I determined this wasn't a good thing to sit on, okay? So it was removed to the basement until it could be rehabilitated into something less likely to draw blood or cause pain in the posterior.

Earlier this spring, I decided its time had come. I ripped off the top boards (too warped to save) and sanded down the body of the bench. My original plan had been to put on a wooden seat and use this as a sort of window seat in the library, but once I had it sanded down, I decided that the original construction was pretty crude, and that it really wasn't a good candidate for indoor furniture. So instead, I repainted the frame with three coats of exterior latex, and replaced the top surface with plastic decking material- suitable for people to sit on in wet bathing suits.

Woats thinks it's pretty nifty.
Bench after Rehab
Me, I'm just glad it's no longer taking up space in the basement, and has been restored to functionality. One project down, 673 to go....

Friday, June 5, 2009

Summer Time

I was leaving for work yesterday, and thought with pleasure as I walked out of the house, "Isn't this great? It's so warm, it feels like summer!"

Then I stopped. It's June. It's supposed to feel like summer. Okay, technically summer doesn't start for a couple of weeks, and the pool is still darned chilly. But. It's June. I looked around the yard. Rhodedendrons blooming. That's summery. Irises, check.

And there's a flowerbed beside the retaining wall we replaced last year that's starting to look pretty colorful. There's a bit of a story there...when I bought the house in 2002, the retaining wall was concrete, and had a slight but definite tilt. The house inspector pointed it out to me and said sooner or later, it would need to be replaced. In subsequent years, the wall leaned a little more each year, until last fall it hit about 7 degrees off vertical, and a few small chunks fell out. We decided that its time had come and had the wall replaced last year. It left a big area dug up and rather then reseed with grass, my husband suggested planting wildflowers.

He's a big fan of wildflowers, in large part because he keeps hoping they'll completely take over and we'll no longer have to mow. (I haven't the heart to disillusion him. Besides, I like flowers.) So last year on vacation in Colorado, I found interesting-looking packets of Colorado wildflower seeds in a Gifte Shoppe. We planted them as soon as the ground thawed in the spring, and they're doing pretty well. We also put in a flat of violas from the farm stand, already in bloom. (I wanted the area to look more like a flowerbed in progress, and less like a bed of weeds until the wildflowers started blooming.) The violas turned out to be an outstanding choice--they've been blooming for about six weeks and are putting up new buds. And now we're seeing the wildflowers start to come in, and I'm entirely charmed.

The bright blue ones are probably my favorite, but I like the cheery orange and yellow-whites as well. There are tiny white flowers so delicate you have to look closely to see them. The big clumps of color are the violas, but the pale lavender blooms with a tinge of darker purple at the centers are wildflowers. And there are a couple of varieties that haven't started to bud yet- we're curious to see what those will look like. (Now I'm wishing I'd written down what seeds were supposed to be in the packet!) But they definitely look summery.

In fiber news, I've just finished a pair of Checkerboard Mittens, from Fox and Geese and Fences by Robin Hansen. One feature I thought was very clever--a frequent problem with square colorwork patterns is they tend to contract into vertical ridges. But this pattern takes that characteristic and makes it a design feature. The inside of the mitten has a smooth surface of short floats, which trap a layer of air between the vertical ridges of the checkerboard. I expect it to add substantially to the insulating power of the mitten.
checkerboard mittens

And here's the inside, which I though looked kind of cool.
inside of checkerboard mittens

So now I'm debating whether to make a hat to go with the blue Spruce mittens, or to go for the trifecta and make a pair of Sawtooth mittens from the Hanson book. Because nothing says 'summer' like mittens....

Monday, June 1, 2009

Some Dastard Has Stolen May

Really. I mean, I look back, and I can account for most of the individual days, but an entire month? No way. The whole thing is a blur. Fortunately I have a suspect. See, the early part of May was spent frantically preparing to go on vacation. Add extra hours of work- and extra hours commuting because when I'm off schedule I hit the peak hours of commuter traffic. Yeah, that can account for a lot of lost time. And then I got back from vacation. And there was the catching up period. So, I don't have it pinned down to a specific person yet, but I'm quite sure that whoever stole May? Works for my employers.

The vacation, however, was completely worth it. We went to London and walked.
St Saviour's Dock on the South Bank
St Saviour's Dock on the South Bank

We went to Oxford, and my husband's cousin took us punting on the river.
Willows with John Constable clouds

We went to Cambridge, and viewed colleges.
King's College Cambridge
King's College Cambridge

We went out to Richmond Park.
Richmond Park

Did you know that the Thames Valley from Richmond is a protected view?
Thames Valley
I can totally see why. Gorgeous.

If you'd like to see more of the trip, there's a slideshow of photographs. I'm still working on the trip diary (also known as the meal-by-meal account). Writing it after the fact is kind of contrary to the concept of 'diary' but it turns out that if the computer crashes in the middle of your PDA synch, you can lose the file being transmitted from both devices. It's a rule of nature that when this incredibly rare error occurs, it will happen to the file you most wanted not to lose. It is possible that there was some extremely bad language uttered on this occasion. (Sorry, Mom.) It'll probably take me another couple of days to finish recreating it.

There was time spent on planes, trains and waiting in restaurants, so of course there was knitting:
Primavera socks, in Online Summersock Cotton. A lovely pattern, and the socks are very comfy. I did wind up adding an additional pattern repeat around the foot, and two around the ankle to accomodate my largish feet.
Primavera socks

And of course time marches inexorably on, so there have been other projects started...but more on that later. I woke up this morning to find it's June, and I'm determined to keep both eyes firmly on it. They're not getting this one too!