Friday, December 30, 2016

I Knew It!

When I wrote the last post, I was looking everywhere for the photo of the Asherton scarf after blocking- I was sure I'd taken one.  Turned out I'd missed uploading it.

While the pattern was attractive enough while I was knitting it, I really loved how it blocked out.  Definitely a pattern I'm going to want to make again.

And in other knitting news, I've just cast on for a pair of Moorish Lattice socks, and was scratching my head because the pattern doesn't line up correctly.  It's not a new book, and the errata said nothing about it.  So I went to Ravelry- and 30 other people have made the pattern.  Most either didn't post notes, or didn't mention having any trouble, but two others did- essentially there's one section of the pattern which has to be shifted over one stitch to make everything line up.  Which I am going to do because what I've got now looks completely wrong.  At least I'm only a few rounds into that bit!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Low Key

The day after Christmas was very low key and relaxing.  Of course the household's champion relaxers were all feline.   There was sacking out on the couch (that's all three- see Jake, cuddled up behind Cookie?):

Here's a better view of the tuxedo boys:

Biscuit, always a ham:

So, aside from hanging out watching the cats, I admired my new Christmas yarn, a handsome selection from my sister's friend at Deep Water Dye Works:

Fingering weight in various blends of merino, cashmere and silk.  It's lovely.  The leftmost skein is going to be a cowl for my mother.  Haven't made a final pattern decision yet, but I've narrowed it down to a few contenders.

I uploaded the photo of my sister's Christmas socks- they were finished Christmas Eve, but well before midnight.  Note the leopard print stripes!

That day was the first day in a while that I had off with no deadlines or obligations.  So.  I finished the book I'd been reading a page at a time over the prior three weeks.  Then I read another whole book.  Just because I could!   And there was a great deal of candy and a few leftover Christmas cookies, and I worked on my sweater and wound up the yarn for the cowl and cast on a new pair of socks.  New Year's is a big board gaming weekend at our house, so I wanted to have something on the needles for game knitting.

And now I'm back at work through tomorrow- which they're saying could be snowy- but I have Friday off, so it's a short week.   I haven't got as far as thinking about 2017 goals yet, but hey, I've got three more days.  Why rush?

And yet more Cookie and Jake cuddling.  Just because.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Not Elementary, but Very Cool

And, in further exciting news of the season, my husband Jonathan Turner is now a published author!  His first story, "The Adventure of the Disguised Passenger" is being published in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine.  It's on the newstands now, and he's blogged about it here. Please feel free to help us spread the word, tell your friends, relations, pets, and neighbors.  Hiring skywriters is desirable but optional.

The issue is their winter Sherlock Holmes-and-holiday edition, and JT's story is a Sherlock Holmes story, written in the classic style, as if it came from the pen of Mr. Doyle himself.  And in fact it's a double-pastiche, with a tribute as well to our friend the incomparable Steve Hockensmith.  (If you're a mystery fan, and haven't yet encountered his brilliant and hilarious Holmes on the Range series, you need to go-right now, do not pass GO- and check him out.    They're wonderful!)

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like....

Time to inspect the tree:
What is it?  Can I eat it?
Time to hang the ornaments with care:
Mom?  Is Biscuit supposed to be taking the ornaments off
after you put them on? 
Time to light up the alien starship...what?  Your tree doesn't have a Klingon Bird-of-Prey?  Why not?
After looking down the barrel of our phaser banks, people are
very peaceful.

Time to finish off a knitted project:
Gifted to a coworker before he left on vacation this week.
And in general ramp up the holiday spirit!

A few more cookies, a little more knitting,  a little wrapping and I'm all set!  How about you?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

What To Do

What to do on Friday night, when my brain is fried?  Plain stockinette is good, but I've done a fair amount of that.  But when the knitting needles slowed down and I just found myself starting blankly at the pretty yarn- well.  Either it's time to go to bed (a valid if boring choice), or it's time to wind up some yarn.

I've been reasonably good about trying to knit from stash this year.  Aside from vacation yarn from Ireland, which I'm sure you agree shouldn't count.  And a few random skeins that hopped into my basket at Webs.  (All but one of those are knit now.)  But if there's a weak point, it's sock yarn. Because it completely bypasses the rule that I have to have a project in mind to buy yarn- it comes with an implicit project- socks!

And so.   There I was looking at Holly's site to pick out a skein I won in a knit-a-long, and it turned out that the skein I picked was very gregarious and invited friends along.

So I pulled out the yarn from my sock yarn bag, and added the skein of Leyden (that's the one skein left from my Webs visit earlier this year) and got out the swift and ball-winder.   Biscuit was delighted- he loves winding yarn.  We had a brief disagreement about the extent of his participation, and I then had to dissuade him from trying to wrestle one of the new skeins off the table, but eventually he was convinced to lie down and supervise.

And by the time I had wound up the skeins and petted them, it was time to go to bed.

This morning, Biscuit continues helpful by sitting on my lap while I write this post (he wanted to sit on the keyboard, but he was persuadable to the alternative).  And I have no doubt that I will have assistance as I return to knitting, baking and other household activities.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Progress Report

Shortly after my last post, I had an inspiration.  It involved Christmas, and since the recipient isn't a blog reader:
The pattern is the Asherton reversible scarf, and the yarn is some lovely squishy wool I've been saving for a sweater (but I have way more than is strictly required, so the scarf won't jeopardize that plan).

The sweater for myself has been blithely pushed aside in favor of holiday knits.  

And the travel sock, though neglected, has made a bit of progress:
I'm just past the heel on the first sock.

And now I must get back to my various projects and plans.  Christmas is only (eep!) a bit over two weeks away!    

Monday, November 21, 2016

Turn of the Season

This morning I got up to a dusting of snow, the first of the season.  Well.  Actually I got up at a quarter of 4 AM and drank a couple liters of laxative.  Having incautiously turned 50 this year, I was due to go in for my first colonoscopy this morning.  The snow was just the secret toy surprise of an already ...ahem ...shitty ...morning.   (Sorry, there's just no other word.  The procedure went fine, and I now have ten years to hope they come up with a better tasting prep solution for next time.  Blegh.) While I'd heard plenty about the prep and procedure in advance, the one part they failed to mention was the effect of swallowing two liters of chilled liquid when you're already feeling cold.  Brr.  It took me ages to get warm after that.  Before you ask- room temperature wasn't an option.  It tasted disgusting enough cold.

However!  To take my mind off other things yesterday (those being the meals I wasn't eating), I put on an audiobook and finished off the latest pair of mittens that fell out of my knitting bag, and a pair of socks.  See:
One pair of mittens in a four-year-old size.  Cute.

Speaking of cute:
Biscuit says hi.  He was cuddling up this morning while I was trying to recover from icicledom.

The socks were a good deal more work- I'd poked along through the first one and cast on the second a little over a week ago.  In between there was a long weekend with a house party and lots of board games and socializing, so I made it to the start of the heel over the weekend.  From the heel turn to the cuff was this weekend.   Pattern is more or less the Seeded Rib sock from Charlene Schurch.   These are for me, and with the chilly weather, I'm pleased to have them done!

And of course the very next thing to do was cast on another pair of socks!  Self patterning, because, fun, and it's good for a traveling project.

Next up- finish that danged sweater!  And also, Super-Secret Holiday Knitting.  Shhh...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Knits

I have completely given up on being home when there is good enough light to take photos of these- instead I have resorted to flash and crossed my fingers that I might actually see daylight again sometime before March.  The weekend has been mostly dark and wet.  And while I know we need rain, I can't see why it couldn't have all fallen during the week when I'm working.  However.

Between travel and hanging out at our friend's cabin, I completed a hat- ribbing makes a hat that will fit a range of sizes.

Three of these four pairs of mittens happened on the Maine trip as well (the last pair happened since then):

And last but not least on the Maine trip- I finished the front of my sweater, and knit on the neck trim, sewed up the front and shoulder seams (the faux placquet on the front is decorative), and then designed the set in sleeves on the fly.  Without ripping back.   That's a first for me- usually I futz with set in sleeves interminably- and those are from patterns.   I was decidedly pleased with myself.

Now I just need to finish the first sleeve and knit the second before I lose my notes.  Let's not have any bets on whether the second one will work first time through.  I'm trying to think positive.

As for why I haven't gotten further with that sleeve since I got back.  I had an attack of colorwork. It's dangerous stuff, on account of it pushes all other knitting aside and sucks up all one's time and attention until it's done.
Just a random folded-brim hat for the gift bin.

And so now I'm trying not to cast on anything else until I figure out what things I want to knit for the holidays, and whether I have any remote chance of completing them in time.

How about you?  Are you holiday knitting?  Are your plans realistic or optimistic (or completely insane)?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

When Fall Comes to New England

So, weekend before last, I took a few days off to extend the weekend and we went up to stay with a friend who as a gorgeous little cabin on the Maine coast.  For those who don't know, I'm originally from Maine, and went to college in Orono, but it's been quite a few years since I have gone far up in the state.

We drove up north of Portland on Friday night, and stayed over in Freeport, where we got a clue as to what the weekend had in store for us:

Fall in Freeport photo IMG_20161008_082102.jpg

The next morning I took a quick peek into the outdoors mega-emporium which is the L.L. Bean mothership (boy, has that changed in the 35 years or so since I was last there!) while my husband slept in, and we still set off early to continue up the coast via the scenic route.

We stopped for lunch in Camden, which is as charming as ever and I can highly recommend the Boynton-McKay Food Co. for a tasty lunch (in my case, their own homemade chowder with a grilled cheese sandwich on their home-baked multigrain bread- yum, yum, yum!)   We had a walk around the town and harbor before resuming our trek north.
Camden, Maine photo IMG_20161008_111343.jpg

The date for this trip had been set around my work schedule, so it was just a happy coincidence that we nailed the peak foliage dead center.  It was absolutely lovely.  I'm only sorry my photos don't do it more justice.

We went by Acadia National Park and took in the view from the top of Mt. Cadillac.
View from Mt Cadillac, Acadia National Park photo IMG_20161008_153212.jpg View from Mt Cadillac, Acadia National Park photo IMG_20161008_153827.jpg View from Mt Cadillac, Acadia National Park photo IMG_20161008_154319.jpg

We eventually met up with our friend and found our way out to his cabin, which is a cozy and comfortable retreat, with a fantastic view of the water.  This view.
View from Gary's cabin, Roque Bluffs, Maine photo DSCN1245.jpg

The following days were spent in convivial conversation, interspersed with eating (we ate at both restaurants in nearby Machias) and excursions to see more views.  Such as Beal Island.
Beal Island Maine photo IMG_20161010_141311.jpg

The Quoddy Head Light:
Quoddy Head Light House photo IMG_20161010_165843.jpg

And the view from our friend's beach.
View from beach at Gary's cabin photo DSCN1247.jpg

It was beautiful and relaxing and there was a lot of knitting (which I'll show you next post).   On our way back, we drove through inland Maine, first the blueberry barrens, which were stunning sweeps of red in their fall finery.
Blueberry barrens photo DSCN1252.jpg

We stopped by my old college haunts, as my husband had never seen my alma mater.  It was all dressed for the season as well.
UMaine Orono photo DSCN1255.jpg

And we stopped by the Hudson Museum on the campus, and saw exhibit both of local interest and from the university's collections.  There was also an interesting and beautifully photographed exhibit on “Resourceful ME: Exploring the Value of Maine's Reuse Economies" by UMaine Anthropology Department faculty member Cindy Isenhour.  There's an old rhyme we think of as typically Yankee- 'use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without' that pretty much sums up the way I was brought up.  I'm not a big shopper, I wear clothes until they fall apart (to my mother's occasional horror!- to which I say, "where do you think I learned this, Mom?")  and in general I hesitate to replace something unless it's well and truly worn out.    The exhibition makes a real case for the value of this kind of lifestyle, talking about the amount of resources consumed by the making of new products.  It was very thought-provoking.

And in one of those serendipitous intersections of ideas, I had just finished reading a fascinating book- Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance by Jane Gleeson-White.  And in the final part of the book it makes an interesting case for how typical measures of economic activity like GDP don't actually reflect the value of resources consumed- what economists call 'externalities'.  For example, a forest doesn't have any effect on GDP- unless you cut it down and sell the wood.  But what is the cost of not having a beautiful forest, for recreation, to sequester water, to clean the air? We don't do a good job of measuring the value of consumed resources, particularly ones like oil or minerals, that are not renewable.

And on that sobering note, I'll leave you with a slideshow- the rest of the trip.

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Isn't it amazing how much easier it is to figure out a knitting problem after you've had ten hours of sleep?  Yes, I have at last worked out the neckline issues on this sweater.  And at long, long last the body is done.  Now it just needs sleeves.
I must give a lot of credit to Holly's September KAL (Knit A-Long), but as you can see the WIP is not finished.  That's in part because I couldn't put the linen stitch scarf down, but also because last weekend I managed to bang my hand so hard that one finger was black and green and too swollen to bend--the third finger, right hand.  I'm right-handed,  though I knit continental style.  Not that it helped because it turns out that I need all the fingers to curl around the right hand needle to knit at any speed greater than agonizingly slowly.  (No worries, I was more or less back to normal by this weekend aside from some residual stiffness in the afflicted finger.)

Naturally the thing that you can't do, immediately becomes the one thing that you desperately desire to do.  So I kept picking up knitting and putting it down after a few stitches and by Wednesday the swelling had gone down enough for me to finish the current pair of mittens.  (The second pair appeared in my knitting bag this weekend needing to be sewn up so I just finished them off so I could tag both pairs and toss them in the gift bag.)
I opened up my cutting board and balanced it across the back of a chair to take photos, on account of the extraordinary level of assistance I've had this weekend.  I blame the cooler weather.  Here's Biscuit 'helping' me work on the computer.
Here he's holding down the blanket so it doesn't slide off my lap.
And here is on the couch, relaxing after such a hard day of supervising.
Cookie and Jake have been cuddly as well, but have also been napping together for added warmth. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say Cookie snuggles and Jake looks bemused and tolerates it.
Jake is much more okay with it when they're on the bed and have more room.  The castle is a bit cramped for two (but it has a great view of the birds in the bushes just outside the window).

And last but not least, a knitting project that isn't mine- One of the knitters in my Sunday knit group was making these and when I said, "Oh, I know just the person to make one of these for!"- she gave it to me.   Very cute.  I found the pattern so I may have to make a few of my own.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Knitting Along

So, it's Sept 24, which means I'm seriously running out of time for the September WIP-finishing KAL.   On the plus side, I wove in the last ends on the linen stitch scarf last night.
On the minus side, I haven't touched the sweater that was the real reason I joined the KAL.  And it's getting cool enough to wear, so I really need to get those needles wiggling.    The real issue is that the sweater is an awkward size to carry around, so unlike scarves and mittens, it hasn't been getting the love.  

Speaking of mittens.  
Yeah, I don't know how these happen.  Every so often I chuck some more worsted weight yarn and #3 needles into my knitting bag and a few days later these come out.  

The cats are supremely unimpressed.  Biscuit and Jake didn't even bother to show for their photo op (though Biscuit left some fluff as as a stand-in).   Perhaps they didn't want to overshadow Cookie's big moment.  
But this weekend will be the watershed moment for the sweater WIP.  I wonder if I'll do any work on it?  Tune in for the next exciting episode to find out.  

Monday, September 12, 2016

And Then There Was the Knitting

Okay, June to September and I've been talking about Ireland all this time, but of course there was knitting.  First the travel knitting. I already had socks on the needles but they were almost done, and not for me- so I set them aside, and cast on something new- I wasn't going to haul even a small knit all over Ireland when it would likely be done before the plane left the ground, and it wasn't something I could wear on the trip.  So, travel socks.
The yarn is some of the Deep Water Dye Works yarn that my sister gave me, and the pattern is Undine, which I modified with a picot hem cuff and my usual flap heel. I'm very happy with them.

I actually finished them a couple of days before the end of the trip- and while Ireland was full of yarn, none of the places I was had sock yarn.  So I brought home yarn for a sweater, but spent the last couple of days of the trip fiddling around with the leftovers from these socks- which I eventually frogged as it wasn't really what I wanted to knit.

Once I got home I whipped through the last couple of inches of the chevron socks, and barely had time to block and photograph them before catching up with the friend they were knit for and giving the away.

Naturally there was assistance- here's Biscuit helping me write Ireland posts.
Cookie would have helped but was too busy having a Big (closely supervised) Adventure in the driveway.
Jake thought I was boring and was off napping somewhere until the next meal. So he didn't get his photo taken.

With those two pairs of socks done, I had to cast on another set.  Because there must always be socks. It's a rule.  The yarn is my souvenir yarn from Berlin last fall.
These were my first completed WIP in the September Finish-Your-WIPs KAL that Holly over at Fish Belly Fiber Works is running.  She's got luscious new yarns in the store at the moment.  If you click that link, you can't say I didn't warn you.   And then - because there must always be socks- I cast on the next pair, out of another gift skein.
And then, because I was starting to feel like I never knit anything but socks, I took a pile of leftover sock yarn and cast on for a linen stitch scarf.  I'm really liking how the self-patterning yarns play with the linen stitch.
And then because a person can only knit so much sock yarn.  Plus the 600 stitch rows on the scarf were starting to feel kind of long, I came across a skein of worsted weight yarn in my bag and these fell off the needles.
There is nothing like kid mittens when you feel like you just want to finish something!

And that brings us up to the present.   Absent work, the house, a dying refrigerator (now replaced) and a social calendar that has had us doing something nearly every weekend since we got back.  And a few weekdays, too.  Whew!  I'm not really ready for summer to be over but September is buzzing along, so I guess it's coming whether I'm ready or not.