Thursday, August 31, 2006

Does this look like viscera? It's some Araucania Atacama, 100% hand dyed alpaca from Chile. Skein got it in several months ago and it has been languishing on the shelf since then. I don't know why. I'm hoping it won't be so gutsy when it's all knit up.

The yarn is featured in the Ella Rae Pattern Book #1. The photos are so murky and dark that it won't even scan. I had planned to make a simple t-shirt sweater but now I'm thinking, maybe shawl. I'll have to work up a swatch and see. And ask Lisa which she would prefer.

The back of the Sunset Wrap is finished and the first front is started. Pretty busy day on Wednesday so not much else got done. I have today off and need to decide if I'm going to knit or clear all the knitting books off the dining table. If I knit I'll make a lot of progress. If I clear off the dining table it will just have to be done again in a few days. Maybe I'll just clear off one end and then knit.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Oh, bother! I've been trying to trick Blogger into letting me upload some old scans. Pictures of Lisa and me when she was still an enfant. And I was a lot younger, too. Anyway, I can't seem to make it happen. Probably because the scans were not saved as j-pegs since the old scanner wouldn't do that. I don't have the original prints so I can't rescan using my new scanner which will let me do that. So I guess I'll have to ask Lisa to bring the photos over so I can rescan them.

Meanwhile. Today is Lisa's birthday. People are always telling me that's she's a lucky girl to get so much of my knitting output. Au contraire! I'm the lucky one. Not only do I get a lot of pleasure from making things for her but she enjoys getting them. I don't know how she stores it all. And on top of that, she's an all around terrific person. Intelligent, independent and alway supportive. We always have fun when we're together even though we don't do somersaults in the backyard anymore. Lots of people think they have the best daughter in the world. And I'm sure they do. But so do I!

Yesterday turned out to be a bit busier than I had anticipated so I didn't get as much done on the Sunset Wrap as I thought I would. But I'm close to finishing the back. Only nine rows to go and then to cast on for one of the fronts. We'll all be glad when that's done.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A week's worth of knitting. The Sunset Wrap back is one and a half row pattern repeats away from being done. This has been my project of choice for the whole time, except for when I was finishing those birthday socks. I'll get a lot done on this today while I'm at Skein since Tuesday is not usually one of the more frantic days.

The yarn I'm using, Tahki's Ravello, isn't all that great to knit. It's 45% cotton, 35% polyethylene and 20% viscose. I think it's the polyethylene that's making it so stiff and unyielding. There are a lot of K2tog stitches in the pattern, sometimes on top of the previous row, so you need some give if you're going to get up any speed. Most of the time I'm having to really force the stitch to take shape. I had to stop last night because my left wrist was beginning to ache. Looking at the detail I can see how lots of my stiches are irregular because I can't maintain a constant tension. Given how orange it is I don't think anyone will notice.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Lisa's having another birthday in a couple of days. Here she is holding the socks I knit for her. She loves them and says they'll be perfect with her red skirt. I knew she'd love the colors when I saw the skein. Just her favorite orangey color mix.

We went looking for a shushi restaurant but the two places we tried were closed. The one place we used to go isn't quite what it used to be so we didn't want to go there. We ended up having Mexican at La Nueva Posada. Lots of locals swear by this place and I don't know why. The food was just okay and the margaritas were overpriced. It must be the people watching experience. Now, that was worthwhile! And, no, I'm not going to go into detail.

We also went to Whole Foods. I'd never been. If I ever go there again I'll be sure to take a list. There's no way I could decide on the spot which of the many choices in nearly every category I'd want to buy. We really went just to browse but I found some soap I'd been looking for and some grapefruit shampoo that I didn't know I wanted.

I'm trying a new approach to my knitting projects. I'm not even looking at new patterns until I finish whatever it is that I'm working on. There are entirely too many projects that need to be finished. I did buy some more yarn last week that I'll show you when I can get a decent image. I already knew what I was getting it for and I had a lot of store credits that needed to be used. For the moment though I'm just focusing on the way orange wrap. Photos to come.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

There. The Lorna's Laces Camouflage sock yarn I bought yesterday. I might already have this colorway tucked away somewhere. Or maybe I've just looked at it so often that I think I already have it. I didn't find it in a cursory pillage through my sock yarn stash but that's not conclusive. So I either have enough for one pair or two. There were other colorways that appealed but I had decided I'd only get enough for one pair so this was it.

I enjoy knitting socks. Well, I enjoy starting them. I can think of at least five pair that are waiting for me to finish. Some are nearly done; some are just to the heel on the first one. I haven't tried most of the more esoteric ways of knitting socks: magic loop, two-at-a-time on seven circulars, short row heels and toes done at the same time. I did once make a sock toe up. I could see doing that again. I resisted making socks for at least twenty years. Now I love it. Who knows? I may succumb to socks with a moebius cast on someday.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

While all our friends were sweltering in the 95F temps in Pasadena and Monrovia, we were in the cool 73F breezy clime of the Long Beach Marina. That's where Alamitos Bay Yarn Company is located. We arrived shortly after 11AM and had a bit of a look around to see what we'd like to come back later and purchase.

Lulu on the left, Mendy on the right, getting ready to do some knitting.

Renee on the left, Judy on the right, knitting and finishing baubles for a Noni bag.

We saw lots of fancy boats and the backs of lots of houses. This is one of the channels in Belmont Shore. I think.

Although we were riding in a small runabout boat called a Duffy, there's more than one way to take the tour. You could take a gondola. This one had a table down the center and a bunch of women who looked like they were having a lot of fun.

So, yes. We had a great time. It was very relaxing, of course. Not much knitting got done as it was so peaceful to just look at the houses, the boats, the kids rowing in kyacks and to just let the slow pace and cool breeze lull us.

I only bought some Lorna's Laces sock yarn. I have a photo but I can't get Blogger to upload it. I guess I've used my quota for the day. Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, August 21, 2006

I've started an new project. The Sunset Wrap from Knitter's#79, Summer 2005. I actually started this once before but decided I probably wasn't going to have enough of the yarn I was using.

I've had this Tahki Ravello in my stash ever since November 2004. I got it when I went to the Knitters Review Retreat. You can read about that here. Scroll down to the beginning of the month. And while you're scrolling you'll also see a better picture of the yarn. It looks pretty washed out in the current photo. Still getting acquainted with the new camera.

Amie, a brave and witty spinner/knitter, brought the yarn to the Retreat as she had decided it was too orange for her. My daughter likes orange a lot. I'm hoping this won't be too orange for her.

I had recently become obsessed with this yarn. It kept popping into my mind all day. So I figured I'd better do something with it and get it over with. I tried a couple of patterns that called for this exact yarn but wasn't able to get the gauge the pattern called for and didn't want to mess around with refiguring etc. Then I remembered the ruana pattern. I have more than enough yarn and the gauge and needle size in the pattern are close enough to what the ball band stipulates. So there you have it.

I planned to show you a picture of my progress but the batteries in the new camera just died. The batteries in the old camera are also dead. Good thing I checked since I need a camera for tomorrow.

Friday, August 18, 2006

No post yesterday because I was preoccupied with a medical procedure that sort of left me drained. It was just a routine check-up but it involved a liquid diet for a whole day and then the procedure itself yesterday morning. And sleeping a lot to let the "just a little relaxer" wear off. Now I just have to wait for the people who know about these things analyze the snipped off bits and to tell me I'm fine for another three years.

I tried knitting on some socks for a while but couldn't stay awake long enough to make any progress. I'm fine today. I'll continue on my sock knitting this morning until it's time to get ready for my day at Skein. And I'll continue there as much as the class load permits. Fridays can be busy which I hope this one is. After we go on our harbor cruise next week we're going to spend some time in the yarn shop and that always means I need extra cash.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Missing the boat

Missing the boat

When I got home from Skein last night there was a message on my machine. "It's ll:30. The boat is waiting. Where are you? Maybe you're stuck in traffic." Pretty cryptic if you don't know about the harbor cruise. But if you do, and you're scheduled to go next week, on the 22nd, you get pretty upset. Well, at least if you're me.

The yarn shop that is arranging these harbor cruises is in the Marina in Long Beach. We've had plans to go since the middle of July, money paid and all. It was too late to reach anyone at the shop so I sent an email to the owner explaining the details of why I believed there was a mistake on their part.

I hadn't received a response by 11 o'clock so I called and was told that the owner is on vacation. Another of the owners would call me back. Which she did about two hours later. Everything is resolved and we're set to go next week as scheduled. The problem was caused by the person who took my reservation. She made a note on the 15th that should have been deleted when she rewrote my reservation on the 22nd. So they were expecting me yesterday and I guess someone else with a group of eight next week.

I'm feeling much relieved but I sure spent a lot of energy last night fussing and fuming about what had happened and what was I going to do about it. I kept telling myself that it was all going to be all right and that we'd still be able to go next week. Over and over. I hate it when I do that, but I always do.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Some people are just so nice! Look what the kind and generous, but alas, blogless Carolyn sent me. My very own Mason-Dixon warshrag! I feel like I've been elevated to some higher level social position. I'm an official member of the Warshrag Club. Thanks, Carolyn. I really, really like it. I'm going to show it off at Dulaan Knitting today. Along with the two rectangles she sent for the afghan we're putting together. But I forgot to take a picture.

And here's a typically washed out photo of my latest Skein sample. It's a quite simple vest, with stand-up collar, using GGH's Capella, a faux fur and ribbon yarn. Ann Mary requested that I not show her face. The vest is a fast knit on 10.5US needles, almost no finishing except for side seams which I crocheted.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Faith is what you have when you buy a pattern book. You believe the instructions and the yarn requirements will be correct.

Hope is what you have when you're down to the last skein and you're pretty sure it's going to be close. Or when you've substituted yarn and you're wondering if the new sweater is going to look all right.

Charity is what you should have when the second knitting instructor quits without notice and you find yourself suddenly working more days than you really want to. I'm trying to be charitable but it's not easy. I'll be working four days a week starting next week. Oh well. This week was nice.

I've tried the Regia Bamboo sock yarn. I need to experiment some more. The yarn has almost no give so doing any kind of decreases is difficult. And it snags pretty easily. I tried a feather and fan pattern from Socks, Socks, Socks and it was not a success. The recommended needle size is US2 to US3. I think I'll try a US1 and see if I get a tighter fabric. The color is nice though. I'll have more to say once I've played with it some more.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

In 1969 we bought our first house. It's a nice enough house but at the time it had a very bare backyard. So my wife decided that bamboo would be a good, quick solution to adding some greenery and privacy to the area.

Bamboo can be pretty fast growing but it also tends to pop up all over the place, sometimes in unexpected places. Like this sock yarn that I bought yesterday at Unwind.

I made my first bamboo piece about three years ago with some of Southwest Trading's bamboo. I forget what it was called. Then there wasn't any bamboo for a while. All of a sudden, quite unexpectedly, there's bamboo everywhere. Skein has bamboo yarn from at least three different vendors. I made a shrug earlier this year using Plymouth's Royal Bamboo. Very nice. But this is the first I've seen of bamboo in sock yarn. It's 45% bamboo, 40% wool, and 15% nylon. At $9.25 per 50 gram skein it's a good deal. I don't know how long I can wait to try this out.

I saw some yarn a couple of weeks ago that was made from corn. I haven't seen it in stores yet but it also looks interesting. What next?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Koigu is not the answer. I thought I'd show you the progress on the Flowerbasket Shawl, before I rip the whole thing out and find something else to use. I had planned to use some Artyarn that I have in stash. I thought I had more than enough. When I started winding it I realized I had two different weights. Both are supermerino but one is labeled Supermerino04, a sock weight. The other three skeins are dk and there's not enough yardage for the shawl.

I got three skeins of Koigu a couple of weeks ago just because I had a discount. There's plenty of yardage but this particular colorway really pools a lot and totally obscures the lace pattern. It's also not as dark as it looks in the photo. After 44 rows, and a few ripped and reknit rows, I decided I'd learned enough, including how to take out double decreases. And that I also don't like the needles I was using. Some Inox Express. The budget version of Addis.

But I did enjoy the process. Now all I have to do is find something else in my stash that will work with the gauge and that will let the stitch pattern show.

Monday, August 07, 2006

This is the kind of day that I dreamed about when I was still working at a real job and was looking forward to retirement. The weather is perfect, just cool enough so that sleeping in, well going back to bed after I got up to feed the cat, and sleeping in some more after I got up the second time to feed the cat.

There's nothing on my calendar that I have to do today. It's not even a laundry day. I was supposed to go to a meeting tonight. An irksome homeowners' association meeting that I've been fretting about for the past few weeks. I just called to make sure everything was ready and was informed that our management company representative, who has to be there, is ill and can't make it. So that's postponed and now I have the whole day free. I think I'm justified in starting a new project.

Could you ever guess where that sideyard picture was taken? It's the photo that was in my new camera when I got it. My friend in Michigan took it before he sent me the camera just to make sure everything was working okay. To me it looks so lush. We just don't get that green richness around here. And that's the new fence he had just completed.

I haven't taken any photos myself as yet, except this accidental view of the cash register desk top at Skein. Maybe this week will bring some finished projects to the blog. The current shop sample vest is almost done.

So, back to my almost ideal day. I've had an urge to start a shawl. I've been helping someone with the Icarus shawl from IK. That's a possibility, except I don't have anywhere to block it. And a friend has made the Flower Basket shawl which I'd like to try but I don't have the pattern yet. I'll find something. Maybe there's something in Folk Shawls that I have the right yarn for. And enough.

Friday, August 04, 2006

It's raining. It's the beginning of August in Southern California. Just another of Nature's oxymorons. I'm not sure it's actually raining, even though that's what it's being called. I think it's just that the humidity has solidified and can't support its own weight anymore. But whatever it is, it's nice.

I went for my morning walk in a light mist. I even work a light weight windbreaker. Overall that was pretty enjoyable. Except I think I can feel the dampness in my bones, not just in the joints. I never paid much attention to people who said they could tell it was going to rain because their joints ached, or something like that. I may have to revise my opinion since experientially I am getting a different message than I used to.

An interesting and exciting day yesterday. One of our customers came in with her Japanese knitting pattern book and we sat together and figured out some of the instructions. I've only tried using one Japanese pattern before and it was in English. From Habu. It was a simple pattern but enough for me to get the concept. The pattern we were working on yesterday was much more complicated but really only because of the individual stitch patterns and some unfamiliar symbols.

I don't have the exact title of the book, something like Heirloom Knitting, and I forgot to bring home the phone number of the store where she got the book. But I'm going to call them today and see if they have another copy, or can get me one. Maybe I can get to downtown LA this weekend and pick it up. Anyway, I love decyphering knitting patterns and this is going to be really exciting.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Please, please, please! Don't let it get hot again! I've been reading all the horror stories of what the heat is like in Chicago, New York and even Toronto. I'm just not ready for it to be like that again here. I may not feel your pain but I sure remember what it was like here a week or so ago.

It's supposed to be up to 90F here today. Ninety I can handle. But anything more than that and I'm lost. And it sure kills whatever business we might have at Skein. The weather guys are saying it's going to remain in the high 80s for the balance of the week. I sure hope they have it right.

It's still slow at the shop. We did have a flurry around 3:30 yesterday which lasted until closing. I spent the day working on the furry vest I'm making as a shop sample. The back is almost done. If today is anything like yesterday I'll be able to get that and half of the front done. Wednesday is usually busier than Tuesday, especially in the evening. I need to take some pictures but I just haven't wanted to fuss with moving my desk and changing out the USB cord. It's still too hot for that.