Monday, January 31, 2011

Time Flying

It was another driving weekend, so a lot of knitting happened. On the way out to western MA, I cast on some new socks, because I wanted a project that would fit in my pocket. Also I wanted something in plain stockinette, so I could knit without more than the occasional glance. This proved quite useful, as I not only knit in the car, but while strolling around the train show:
They know what draws the crowds
This was my favorite scene- you can't see it in the photo, but the 'movie screen' was showing train videos. "I'd go see that double feature," Jonathan said seriously. More photos from the show here.

The train show was even larger than last year, which is quite a trick since it already covered an area the size of about four large Home Depots. We were almost glad we weren't shopping for anything this year--it took us over three hours just to see all the layouts, and skim the booths. If we'd been seriously looking for things for our own layout, we'd have been there at least twice as long. (We're getting ready to build the next large section of the layout, and we already have quite a backlog of kits and things to build, as well as details to put on the existing more-complete section. It'll be some time before we need additional supplies that can't be obtained at the hardware store or local hobby shop.)

I continued knitting at dinner, after dinner, at my mother-in-law's house, while visiting a friend, at brunch, on the drive back, at knit group (where I only made a brief appearance due to having returned late, and needing to return books and DVDs to the library), at home and while watching Midsomer Murders on library DVD. (We're finding them mildly enjoyable, though we like Inspector Morse better. But we're almost through all the ones the library has of those, and we're also nearing the end of Foyle's War *sniff*.)

Anyway, as of today, the first sock is progressing rapidly. The yarn is Wildfoote in Geranium, which I had never heard of before, but which is proving quite charming. It's a four-ply but a bit lighter than Trekking, which I'm using for the toe and heel. I have three skeins which I received as a gift, and I'm hoping that by mixing it with black, I might be able to get two pairs of socks from it.

I've also started a cowl for my sister. I got it cast on on Saturday and then thought it looked funny, so I didn't go any further. And sure enough, when I got home and checked Ravelry, I've been using size 8 needles for this yarn and not size 6. So- saved by project notes! I've been making a serious effort to note yarn/gauge/needle size in Ravelry, and it's really paid off for me. Whenever I use a yarn I've already had experience with, I'm able to save time in swatching.

Nor have I neglected the tulip scarf (much) which is up to about four feet of tulips. And on the mitred square blanket, I've finished the fourth round of little squares and started the fifth. It's up to about 16 X 16 inches.
mitred square blanket

And speaking of the mitred square blanket, while I was working on it over the weekend, I felt something pointy in the ball of yarn. I squished it and felt around and pulled out a darning needle. I had to smile, because I've misplaced needles that way myself- you stick them in the ball of yarn, they get pushed below the surface, and that's it until you use the yarn up and find it again. So this evening, I was working on the mitred square blanket again, and what did I find? Another needle. Same ball of yarn. I started laughing, albeit sympathetically. I could just picture another poor knitter, looking everywhere for a needle, any needle.

My husband asked what was so funny. So I told him I'd found a needle. He gave me a Look, the sort that says, 'she's probably harmless but not too tightly wrapped'. "But wait," I tried to explain. "It was the second one!" That got me the Look that says, 'but maybe I should back away slowly just in case'. Which of course made me laugh harder. I don't know, maybe you just had to be there.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Gang Aft Agley

So, I had this lovely plan. Tulips in January. I'll be seeing the person the scarf is intended for at the end of the month, and that's plenty of time. Right?

Um. Not so much. This is where I woke up somewhere around Tuesday and suddenly realized that this week is the end of the month. And I will indeed see the scarf's recipient. And the scarf is currently only six inches past the halfway point. And in order to gift it this weekend, I would have to finish and block it tonight. And... that so isn't going to happen.

So, as I so often do when one of my clever plans goes awry, I tried to mentally retrace my steps. Where did it go off the rails? So I came up with a list of hypotheses.

1. House concert. This did take some time...making up flyers, doing publicity, taking reservations, cleaning, baking, setting up...I lost several evenings and a whole Saturday this way.

2. Dealing with snow. We hired the handy Local Guy with Snowblower to deal with the really big storms, so I can't complain so much about shoveling, but holy Hannah, there have been some long, slow commutes. And some shoveling, and salting driveways, and a lot of putting on and taking off winter outerwear that adds up to just about everything outside the house taking longer.

3. I spent some knitting time reading. This has some truth to it as well. After the marathon Christmas knitting, I was feeling book withdrawal over New Year's. So far for 2011, I've read 9 books. Which isn't a huge amount but is certainly not knitting time.

4. I spent way too much time knitting the addictive mitred square blanket. Yep. That's certainly true. I've got 57 squares knitted and no finished scarf, so it's pretty hard to argue otherwise.

5. I grossly underestimated the length of the time it would take to knit this project. This is actually pretty likely, too. I have a history of thinking I knit faster than I do. I certainly thought that taking out the provisional cast one would be easy and quick. (It wasn't...I wound up dropping stitches and rearranging things and after slipping things back and forth about six times trying to pick up what I thought were the right loops of yarn, I found that the first row of opposite facing tulips were a stitch offset from one another. So I ripped back to the center line, tried again, repeated this a couple more times, and finally wound up with a two rows of symmetrical tulips I didn't hate with a violent passion. If I do this again, I'll have to try casting on a row of eyelet or something on before starting the pattern- I think it would have been easier to get even when I took out the waste yarn. And let's remember to check that the chosen waste yarn is actually not going to stick to itself instead of assuming and finding out I was wrong. After pulling little shreds of it out of the scarf end with my fingernails, I think I can definitively state that it does stick to itself. A lot.) Also, this is fine yarn knit in a lace pattern on number 3 needles. Expecting it to take longer than a garter stitch scarf in bulky weight yarn is completely reasonable.

So, after duly considering all these ideas, I have concluded that the problem was...all of the above. And I still have two and a half more feet of scarf to knit. Note to self. Make the next scarf out of heavier yarn on larger needles.
Further note to self. Re-read this post next time you think you have a clever plan....

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I'm Happy This Week

For a whole bunch of reasons:
1. I have knit enough tulips to fill half of Holland. Okay, I'll admit that I still have to knit enough to fill the other half. And it's possible I may have solicited input from the knitting group Sunday in the hopes that they would say 'oh, totally this should be a short scarf' ...which they didn't... but it really is very pretty and springlike.

2. When the tulips start to become a little too much, I have been relaxing with a few simple mitred squares. I've long admired Valerie's mitred square blankets....though it's possible I should have been more cautious about starting a project she refers to as the 'crackghan'. It is very addictive. I catch myself saying, 'just one more', a lot. I love Valerie's scrappy blankets, but I don't have scraps, I have tons of baby solids. So I've turned to quilting for inspiration and am working the blanket from the center out. Here it is:
Mitred square blanket

3. Coffee and doughnuts. (Yesterday I decided that driving to work in yet more snow was a good excuse.)

4. My commutes, both yesterday and today, while snowy and slippery, were refreshingly free of drama and excitement. Possibly my fellow commuters had the fear of God put into them last week, but they have slowed down, kept a decent following distance, do not swerve in and out of lanes, nor have they run into one another and snarled traffic in such a way as to inconvenience me. You'd almost think we lived in a place that got snow regularly, where people are used to winter driving.

5. I am no longer sick. It wasn't a severe cold as these things go, but it's surprisingly annoying not to be able to breathe through your nose. Also, I was starting to look forward to swilling Nyquil and going to bed after dinner, which is just scary.

6. It's very snowy! My inner child is delighted. (The freezing rain, I'm not so fond of. But I have a huge bag of rock salt and I'm not afraid to use it.)

7. I scored the next three sequential episodes of Foyle's War at the library. Including both a season cliffhanger, and the episode *after* the season cliffhanger (whew!).

8. The cats have been providing excellent entertainment. Biscuit continues to spend more time out from under the bed. This morning they determined empirically that the cat castle is not big enough for both cats to occupy the middle level at once and Biscuit took over the back of the armchair instead for some companionable outdoors-watching.
Two cats taking in the view

9. The weather forecast for Saturday (the day of our concert) is clear!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

House Concert! Matt and Shannon Heaton in Nashua NH, Jan 22

So, for the Celtic music fans among you, JT and I will be hosting a house concert for Matt and Shannon Heaton, an outstanding Boston Celtic duo, next Saturday Jan 22 at 7:00 pm.

They do a lovely mix of vocals and instrumentals on guitar, flute, bouzouki and accordian. Shannon Heaton has been voted Female Musician of the Year by the Irish American News, Chicago and Matt & Shannon's new CD Lover's Well has been selected as Trad Fusion Album of the Year by, Dublin.

Recommended donation $15. We are asking for reservations, please email me at or call 603-891-1339 if you're interested. And if you can't make it to the concert, do check out the free music downloads on their website!

(Knitting or crocheting during the concert is expected but not mandatory!)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


First up, we have two socks, two days later than expected.
more socks

These are the socks that were delayed by being left at my office over Christmas. I got up to the cuff on Saturday while enjoying music at the Boston Celtic Music Festival. And they would have been done on Sunday, except I came down with a rotten virus. Not an especially bad cold as these things go, but I blew off all plans Sunday to lie on the couch with hot drinks, books and cats.

Speaking of which, Biscuit is still skittish, but he's decided that JT might not be an evil cat-eating monster after all.
Biscuit decides JT might be okay after all.

Biscuit and Cookie are not quite buddies yet, but they're getting along pretty well. They circle around, touch noses and chirrup at one another. And they play chasing games, where one of them will jump out at the other, paws flapping, and the other will go tearing off across the house. A few minutes later they come tearing back with the positions reversed. Really we're quite pleased--there has been lots of romping, and a little playful batting, but no growling or hissing or serious conflict at all.

They have also discovered a common interest in cat toys:
Cookie and Biscuit flank the toy

Cookie is definitely the superior in his stalking and pouncing technique, but Biscuit makes up for lack of skill with commendable enthusiasm. Although his short Persian legs are not suited to leaping so much as propelling himself across the floor like a very fluffy mop.

Now I'm on to the next WIP, the tulip scarf, though if I get a few minutes I do need to cast on for some baby things. I'm fresh out of stock, and I've got a co-worker with a new grandchild coming in the spring. And I like to have a gift or two made up in advance, in case I need it without a lot of notice.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Tell Me It's Friday

1. My office was so chilly this morning I turned the space heater under my desk on high and tried to melt my sneakers. If telling untruths really caused one's pants to burst into flame, I might have tried it just to get warm.

2. I found (and corrected) two mistakes in the sole of the sock I'm making. Wouldn't you think if I was going to make mistakes, it would be in the patterned bit and not the stockinette?

3. I have resolved not to look too closely at the patterned bits of the current socks.

4. I'm simultaneusly wanting to finish the WIPs I have on the needles and wanting to cast on something new. My goal oriented side is still ascendant, but my dilettante side keeps drawing my attention to the new yarn and going. 'Ooh, look, shiny!'

5. I like Fridays because I can drink as much coffee as I want, stay up late, and sleep late the following morning. I'm wondering if coffee intake correlates to shortness of attention span.

6. They're predicting 1-3 inches of snow today. I'm trying to dwell on the lack of shoveling instead of wishing for a foot.

7. My inner child really wants a foot of snow.

8. But a foot of snow would interfere with weekend plans so I guess not getting it is good.

9. I often think my inner child isn't as inner as many people's.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New

1. FO- yes, the first FO of the new year is off the needles! I started it last week during the finishing marathon, got four rows in and decided it was never going to be fast enough to be done for New Year's Eve. But I liked it, so I just dumped it into a basket. However a garter rib scarf in bulky weight turns out to be just the thing for party knitting.
Long fluffy scarf

The New Year's Day party lasted until the wee hours, and we maxed out our spare beds if not our total crash space. (We were total wild people. We played board games and ate snack food until 2:30 AM. I even had a glass of hard cider. Like I said, wild and crazy.) Sunday the last groggy guest staggered out at noon. Jonathan and Cookie stretched out on the couch and emitted waves of sleepiness. I drank lots of coffee and went to my knitting group....

2. ....where I was given the gift of new yarn. A skein of Cindy's incredibly gorgeous hand-dyed silk. It's got to be a scarf, I think. I'll want a pattern with organic kinds of curves for the yarn. Maybe beads. Or would that be too much?
Silk, beautiful silk

3. Cat. I finally managed to catch our newest family member in a rare moment of not hiding:
A rare moment not under the bed

Biscuit is possibly the most timid cat I've ever met. Nevertheless, feline curiosity is bringing him more and more often out from under the bed. This evening, he even ventured briefly into the dining area. Cookie is mightily curious and not a little weirded out. For the first time today they got to within three feet of one another. And Biscuit hissed and ran away and Cookie retreated to the very top of his cat castle.

Poor babies--we can't help laughing at them, even while we feel guilty about weirding them out. But we're making progress...very, very slowly!