12 December 2007

Mandy's Socks

That's right - another pair of socks! Again, using Koigu KPPPM (P439), again using the construction elements (toe and heel) from the "On-Your-Toes Socks" pattern by Ann Budd in the Summer Interweave Knits, with a couple of basic cables added. (Haha, basic cable.)

These were commissioned by a girl at work. You could probably guess that her name was Mandy. And now I no longer work with her... So now I guess they are my socks. Don't worry, she was going to pay for them upon completion - at my suggestion. Good thing I love purple!

08 December 2007

ShibuiKnits Midnight

Isn't this a gorgeous color??

Just wanted to share. (I bought it here.)

20 November 2007

Long Overdue

Last week I quit my job. As I told my boss in my resignation letter, "This rut of daily humiliation masked by well-honed platitudes is no longer tolerable."

I handed in this letter as my two-weeks' notice at about 9 am last Wednesday. At 5 pm, my boss asked me into her office and said that if I was really that unhappy, then perhaps it would be best all around if we made that day my last day. Now, as you can see, the tone of the letter did perhaps beg this reaction. But she just couldn't have given me this news a bit earlier in the day, perhaps before the majority of people I would have liked to say goodbye to had left for the day...

Just business as usual for the company.

And now, you might think I would be trotting off to sacrifice my evenings at the library. Well, no such luck. After the very helpful advice offered in response to that last post, I went back to the branch manager to let her know I would accept the position - provided I would be able to attend my online class sessions a night or two each week. And they decided that their top priority was to find somebody who could work the schedule as established. Alas.

So, I'm unemployed. But I'm not even going to worry about it until after the holidays. Just a nice, long, relaxing Christmas break.

One of these posts, I'll actually show you some yarn.

28 October 2007

Riley's Identity Crisis

Sometimes Riley gets a little confused. Like when he noticed Bettie playing with her new toy - one of those things with the catnip mouse that spins inside a circular plastic case - and decided he wanted to play too. He spent the better part of the evening trying to get at that mouse.

I apologize for the darkness/low film quality... This was recorded with my cheap old still camera. B didn't even realize the thing recorded video; thus you hear him commenting about still shots, etc. In fact, it was 20 minutes or so into the action before I remembered it had that capability. You can tell Riley's breathing pretty hard by this time. But he went on and on and on and... Unfortunately I didn't capture either of the times he wound up flipping the thing over and then trying to right it again.

One of these days I'm gonna get a REAL video camera.

24 October 2007

Seeking Advice

The yarn-related content of this blog has severely deteriorated in the last few months, and for that I apologize. I've been trying to at least alternate my whining and knitting posts...

But at the moment I am in need of some guidance, from anyone willing to throw in their two cents!

Here's my situation in a nutshell: For the past 6 months, I've been working full time as a receptionist/office assistant in the corporate headquarters of a health care company. I've also been applying, and was accepted to, an online masters degree program in library studies. Additionally, since August I've been volunteering a few hours a week at the local public library.

One of the clerks at the library is leaving for another position at a different branch, and they have asked me whether I'd be interested in the position. For those curious, this was the potential good news I had hinted at in my previous post - I have been unhappy in my current job for a while now, and would love to have the experience working in the library setting to add depth to my education when I start classes in January.

But after speaking yesterday with the branch manager, it's not as simple a decision as it might appear.

The schedule for the library position is awful. The girl who had been in the job was working Monday - Thursday nights from 5-9, plus Friday afternoons one week, and then Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, plus Friday and Saturday afternoons the second week. When I sat down for my informal interview last week, the branch manager indicated that she might be able to rearrange the hours somewhat, but according to our conversation last night, she had not been able to do so. I fully expected to work some evenings and weekends were I to be employed at the library; however 4 nights in a row just makes my head spin. I have a husband who works fairly normal hours, who I much like to see on occasion. And what's more, in a couple of months I will have online class sessions a night or two a week, and I certainly can't miss those. There is an alternate position available, only 15 hours a week, that only closes two nights but works EVERY Saturday. Ugh...

The branch manager is now on vacation, through the end of next week. Our conversation yesterday concluded with a frustrating - and perhaps frustrated - "Let's leave it until I get back." Meanwhile I need to make up my mind what I want to do assuming nothing changes with the situation between now and then.

Therefore, my options:

Option 1) Optimism. Accept the 20 hours/week at the library with the schedule as offered. Cope with the 4 nights a week for a while, hoping that either: A - by the time January rolls around, they will be willing to work around my class schedule once it's been established; or (even better) B - that I can quickly get promoted to the full-time, more respectable, better paid position that is only available to current employees.
Pros: I have been trying to work in the library since before we even moved to Florida, and now I'd be able to do so. I get basic experience in the field in which I intend to make my career. I have already been volunteering there for a couple of months, and have gotten to know and adore a lot of the staff members. It could potentially work out that I would end up in the aforementioned better full time position (it's been hinted at that this is the position they really want me in, only they have thus far been hiring exclusively internally for it).
Cons: The schedule will short-term be bad for my marriage, and long-term be impossible for my education. They may not be able to offer any flexibility in January, and since I absolutely can't give up school, I may have to give up the job. The pay is far less than what I am currently making. The job is not especially challenging and I am pretty overqualified for it.

Option 2) Pragmatism. Stay in my current job. Turn the library's offer down. Keep volunteering in order to gain the library experience. See if anything opens up with a better schedule, and keep watching for openings at the local university libraries as well.
Pros: Job security. Much more money - longer hours at a higher pay rate. A schedule that better coincides with my home/social/school life. I don't have to face the terror of bringing my boss my resignation letter.
Cons: I have been fairly miserable in this job for quite some time. I am either crapped upon or ignored every single day. I don't believe in the company or in large part the industry. I am not suited for the corporate world. (My list of grievances could certainly be a post of their own.) Also, I miss out on the opportunity to further my career, and the opportunity may not present itself again. And for what - to keep working without purpose, other than a mere paycheck?

Option 3) Capitulation. Take the 15 hour/week library job. Look at it as a compromise.
Pros: I still get the library experience. There is still the potential to move up to that better position. Really, all the same things as Option # 1.
Cons: Even less money. Working every single Saturday; no weekends, ever. It doesn't make the same impression on the library senior staff, taking the "lesser" of the positions offered, and therefore perhaps decreases my chances of that promotion.

There are other options I guess... Try and do BOTH jobs somehow (though that would still require some schedule adjusting); go ahead and quit my present job before the branch manager gets back from vacation and hope something can be worked out later; wait and see if the branch manager has come up with a solution, with no plan for the likelihood that she hasn't... and so forth. Nothing so viable, at least that I've come up with, as those first 3.

What's a girl to do??? I need help...

14 October 2007

Koigu Socks

Pattern: "On-Your-Toes Socks" by Ann Budd in the Summer Interweave Knits. The only difference is that mine have a ribbed foot and leg, B's have a plain stockinette foot with ribbed leg.

Yarn: Koigu - Mine are KPPPM color 608 (2 skeins), B's are KPM color 4000 (3 skeins).

I Love Koigu. What else can I say? The colors are gorgeous, and what's arguably an even better feature, these socks have been through the washing machine - the red ones several times now - and held up great. (Those red ones were finished literally a couple of months ago.)

And while the pattern is a little bit basic, toe-up socks are great fun, and the structural elements - toe, heel - came out beautifully.

11 October 2007

Go 'Noles

As of yesterday, I have been accepted to Florida State's College of Information. I'll be starting my Masters in Library and Information Studies in January. Hooray!

After waiting 7 long, agonizing weeks for my GRE scores to reach the admissions office, only to then discover that apparently my original departmental application got lost in the mail, I am tremendously excited - and relieved. Now, to see about some financial aid... And not just the parental variety.

I'm on the verge of being able to report additional good news - but I don't want to jinx it, so for now I'll just leave you with this mysterious allusion. If everything comes through as expected, it should lead to a jump in my blogging frequency. (Regardless, my goal is to get that very, very overdue FO post up before the weekend is over.)

01 September 2007

Jax Camisole

I was inspired by the heat of Florida summertime to create this warm-weather project. Admittedly, it is probably a bit late in the season to post a pattern like this one. I finished this top in April. It's amazing it's getting posted at all.

This camisole is a fairly straightforward top, embellished with a couple of simple slip-stitch motifs to add visual and structural interest, done in a luxurious, lustrous mercerized cotton. Mine is made to fit my 36" bust, but the shaping should be easily adaptable to fit and flatter your own body shape. It begins with a waist band made made to fit the wearer; then, picking up along the edge, the top is formed with strategic increases and decreases and shoulder straps mirroring the waist band pattern; and finally, picking up around the opposite waist band edge, the bottom is added.

Size: To fit a 36" bust

Yarn: ONLine Linie 12: Clip, 100% cotton, Color 168 - Teal (3 skeins)

Needles: US 6

Gauge: 24sts x 24 rows = 4" in SS

NOTE: My BOs are done in k1p1 bind-off, for purely aesthetic reasons (to keep the chain-edge out of view). If you prefer, you may do standard BOs.
Stitch patterns come from the Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns.

CO 8 sts
k3, p2, k3, turn
Row 1 (RS): p3, wyif sl 2 pwise, p3
Row 2 (WS): k3, p2, k3
Repeat these 2 rows until band measures 36" when stretched slightly (alternately, long enough to fit over the bust and lie around the rib cage).
Graft, or BO and sew ends together.

With circular needles, beginning at seam, pick up and knit around band edge: (appx) 125 sts
Increase for bust:
Row 1: Place marker (#1) at beg of row. *k3, m1, k4, m1* - repeat around, placing marker (#2) after 40 sts and marker (#3) after 40 more (this is the front of the shirt), then work 80 sts as established to end of rnd (back of the shirt).
Row 2, & even-numbered rows through Row 10: k even
Row 3: k 12, m1, k to last 3 sts before marker #2, m1, k 3 to marker. k 3, m1, k to last 12 sts before marker #3, m1, k 12 to marker. k even across back.
Row 5: Repeat row 3.
Row 7: k 12, m1, k 8, m1, k 13, m1, k 8, m1, k 3 to marker #2. k 3, m1, k 8, m1, k 13, m1, k 8, m1, k 12 to marker #3. k even across back.
Row 9: k 12, m1, k 9, m1, k 15, m1, k 9, m1, k 3 to marker #2. k 3, m1, k 9, m1, k 15, m1, k 9, m1, k 12 to marker #3. k even across back.
Row 11: k 12, m1, k 10, m1, k 17, m1, k 10, m1, k 3 to marker #2. k 3, m1, k 10, m1, k 17, m1, k 10, m1, k 12 to marker #3. (56 sts per side of front.) k 30, ssk, k 16, k2tog, k 30 to end.
Next Row: k even across front; after marker #3, k 30, BO 18 sts.

*Top will now be worked back & forth rather than in the round; next row begins here.*

Row 1 (RS): k 30 to marker #1. k 12, m1, k to last 3 sts before marker #2, m1, k 3. k3, m1, k to last 12 sts before marker #3, m1, k 12 to marker. k 21, ssk, k 7. turn.
Row 2 (WS): p 8; place these 8 sts on stitch holder (for strap). p to marker #3. p even across front. p 21, p2tog, p 7. turn.
Row 3: k 8; place these 8 sts on stitch holder (for strap). k to marker #1. k 12, m1, k to last 3 sts before marker #2, m1, k 3 to marker. k 3, m1, k to last 12 sts before marker #3, m1, k 12 to marker. (60 sts per side of front.) k 10, ssk, k 9. turn.
Row 4: BO 10 sts at beginning of row. p 10 to marker. p even across front. p 10, p2tog, p 9. turn.
Row 5: BO 10 sts at beginning of row. k 10 to marker. k even across front. after last marker, ssk, k 8 to end. turn.
Row 6: BO 9 sts at beginning of row. remove marker #3. p even across front. after last marker, p2tog, p 8 to end. turn.
Row 7: BO 9 sts at beginning of row. remove marker #1. k even across front to last 10 sts, k2tog, k to end. turn.
Row 8: BO 9 sts at beginning of row. p even to last 10 sts, ssp, p 8 to end. turn.
Next Row: BO 9 sts at beginning of row. k 2, ssk, k to last 4 sts before marker, k2tog, k 2. attach 2nd ball of yarn; with new yarn, k 2, ssk, k to last 4 sts, k2tog, k 2.

*Front will now be separated into left/right fronts; continue to work both sides simultaneously, using separate balls of yarn, to ensure the two halves match.*

Decreasing for bust:
Row 1 and all WS/odd-numbered Rows: p even.
Row 2: k 2, ssk, k to last 4 sts, k2tog, k2. Repeat on 2nd half.
Row 4: k 2, ssk, k 9, ssk, k 16, k2tog, k 9, k2tog, k 2. Repeat.
Row 6: k 2, ssk, k 8, ssk, k 14, k2tog, k 8, k2tog, k 2. Repeat.
Row 8: k 2, ssk, k 7, ssk, k 12, k2tog, k 7, k2tog, k 2. Repeat. 34 sts remain per half.
Row 9: p even.

Decreasing toward shoulder straps:
RS - "RS Dec Row": k 2, ssk, k to last 4 sts, k2tog, k 2. Repeat on 2nd half.
Work RS Rows as RS Dec Rows and WS Rows even until 24 sts remain per half, ending after a RS Row.
Next Row ("WS Dec Row"): 1st half: p to last 4 sts, ssp, p2. 2nd half: p2, p2tog, p to end.
Continue to work, alternating WS Dec Row and RS Dec Row until 16 sts remain per half, ending after a WS Row.
Switch back to working RS Dec Rows and WS Even Rows until 8 sts remain per half, ending after a WS Row.

Shoulder Straps:
RS Rows: k1, p2, wyif sl 2 pwise, p2, k1.
WS Rows: k3, p2, k3.
Work these 2 rows until each strap measures 14" slightly stretched (or, if you can try the shirt on at this point, long enough to comfortably reach the held sts on the back).
Last WS row, p even, then graft to sts on holders. The piece should resemble a bra at this point.

Optional (but recommended):To reduce the amount of curling around the top edge, with crochet hook of comparable size, work a single row of single crochet stitches around all top edges.

With circular needles, beginning at seam, pick up and knit around band edge: (appx) 125 sts.
Increase Row: *k 3, m1, k 4, m1* repeat around, placing marker at beginning of row and after 80 sts to separate front and back - 160 sts total.

Pattern = Fabric Stitch w/ Slip Stitch Edge:
Row 1: sl 1st st kwise; *wyif sl 1 pwise, k1* to last st; sl 1 st kwise.
Row 2: sl 1 st pwise; k to last st; sl 1 st pwise.
Row 3: k 1; *k 1, sl 1 st pwise* to last st; k 1.
Row 4: k across.

Row 1 = Setup Row: Back - k 25, place marker, work Row 1 of patt across 30 sts, place marker, k 25 to marker. Front - k 16, place marker, work Row 1 of patt across 16 sts, place marker, k 16, place marker, work Row 1 of patt across 16 sts, place marker, k 16.
Continue to work as established: Back - k 25, work patt between markers, k 25; Front - k 16, work patt between markers, k 16, work pattern between markers, k 16.
Continue in this manner until bottom measures 8" long, ending after row 4 of pattern.

Hip shaping:
Increase Row: Back - k 8, m1, knit/work in patt as established between markers to last 8 sts of back, m1, k 8. Front - repeat.
Alternate this increase row with 1 regular row for a total of 4 increase rows; end after row 4/regular row.
Work 1 row p even, with 1 additional m1 to achieve an odd # of total sts.
Work in seed st for 1". BO in patt (k1 p1 BO).

19 July 2007


It has, officially, been an entire month since I last posted. Shame on me.

Here's the thing though. I go to work every day and spend eight hours or so staring at a computer screen. When I go home at night, well, I don't really feel like doing the very same thing.

There are, of course, other factors directly and indirectly responsible for my absence from this blog. The weather has played a large part. When the heat index is in the hundreds and I break a sweat between my car and the front door, well, wool does not rank highly on my agenda. This is not to say I haven't been knitting at all in the last month, because I have, and even a little crocheting, too. In fact I have two active projects and one on the back burner, and there are even two FOs that I haven't posted yet. But I haven't been knitting fiendishly like a woman possessed by her frosty toes; just maybe an hour a day, for the sake of restless fingers more than anything else. The disinterest, if you want to call it that (and, frankly, it would be accurate to do so), is largely attributable to the Florida heat, and also the overall lack of time in my day - damn full-time job, seriously takes away from my "me time." But I feel there is something more sinister at work here...

Because, to be honest, this same disinterest has not just been affecting my knitting, but my general state of being. I have entered a sort of stagnant period, where one day is pretty much the same as the next day, and little changes from week to week. I haven't been working *toward* anything, pursuing any goals. I don't have anything major going on in my life, and my job, while alright, is not really what I'd call stimulating, or even particularly satisfying, in any meaningful way. I'll put it this way: With the knowledge that I'm only going to live in this area for another year before the Navy moves us again, it's fine, and I am not planning to actively seek alternatives. If it were open-ended, that's a different story. My coworkers are for the most part pretty likeable, and I get along well with my boss - but there are massive communication issues and a terrifying turnover rate. There is no challenge, and probably no chance of promotion (since they know how long I'm going to be here, too). I wake up Monday mornings anxious for the weekend, and with every day so predictable, the time flies by.

Among the symptoms of this stagnation has been a withdrawal, not just from this blog, but from a lot of my social outlets. I have lost touch with my knitting group, mostly because my Saturdays are typically overbooked, since I don't get much free time during the week. I have barely been online to keep up with my old friends in other parts of the country, mostly because of the lack of desire to spend all day AND all night on a computer. I have basically stopped reading other knitting blogs, with the same excuse.

I don't mention all of this for pity, or for anyone to get worried about me. It's just a slump. I'm sure it's even common in early adulthood - periods of being either stagnant or overwhelmed before one works out a good balance. Anyway, I've been working on setting myself up for a brand new challenge: getting a Masters in Library Science (online). I'm hoping to start it next spring, which means I'll soon be getting into the application process. I've ordered myself a GRE prep book, and last week I submitted an application to volunteer at one of the libraries a couple weekends a month, to get some hands-on experience before diving headlong into this - and I mentioned in my cover letter to the library that I would be open to accepting a paid position (don't tell my boss!). Now I'm waiting for those things to materialize before proceeding further.

I really believe that once this new project is really in motion, once I break out of this lull, then my interest in other things (like blogging!) will be rekindled. I'm going to try to get at least one, hopfully both of those FO posts up this weekend... but I wouldn't expect any real jump in my postings until the temperature backs down a bit.


18 June 2007

My Present

Lookit what my husband made for me!! He's got his crafty streak too.

Here it is folded flat for easy storage... Did you guess what it is?

A hand-made swift! Hooray! It's pretty fantastic. My husband must love me. I think he may be worth keeping around.

(Now if I only had a ball winder...)

By the way, curious about that skein being wound? I just got it. It's....

ShibuiKnits Sock in "Sand."

Now... I ordered this and received it about a week before reading this recent article at Knitters Review. I was a little surprised to read that ShibuiKnits is "just making its debut" and their yarns "will be making their way to a yarn store near you in the not-too-distant future" - since I already had 2 skeins of it in my hands. Then I discovered (in the same article) that the Knit Purl yarn shop, where I happened to have purchased the yarn online, was operated by the people behind this yarn. Who knew? I was just online buying sock yarn at a website where I have previously bought other sock yarn, and thought this ShibuiKnits looked pretty yummy. I hadn't heard of it before, but didn't realize it was 'exclusive.'

I do have to say, they have a lot more colorways listed this week than they had up 2 weeks ago...

08 June 2007

Harry's "Got Style"

*A sweater by Ann R.*

I am very excited to post these pictures of a quite striking version of my Doggy's Got Style sweater. Harry (the lucky dachsund recipient) certainly looks handsome in his new duds!

As you can tell, from the cables, rolled collar and button belt, Ann took my pattern and made it her own. And I must say, I have been outdone! Hers certainly is chic. I am impressed, and proud to have inspired such lovely work.

Perhaps Ann and Harry may encourage others to flex their 'creativity muscle,' whether it be with one of mine or any other knitting pattern. There is no limit to what you can make with a little bit of imagination and a lot of persistence!

(Just so we're clear on this, these pictures were posted with Ann's enthusiastic permission. If you think Ann did a fantabulous job, make her day and LET HER KNOW it!)

01 June 2007

Eye Candy Friday

Roseate Spoonbill.

(Photo taken by my husband, Monday May 28 at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.)

23 May 2007

Ouch! They Got Me!

I have been tagged! Don't I feel special.

((( Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write in their blogs the 7 facts, as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag 7 others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you plan on tagging a note in their comments so they know that they have been tagged and to read your blog. I've been tagged by outdoorknitter at The Local Needle. )))

1. I like the color pink way more than can probably be considered healthy. Purple too. My husband fears the day I buy pink paint for the house.

2. I was born in Georgia, and have lived in North Carolina, southern Virginia, North Carolina again, southern Virginia again, and now north Florida. I am a bona fide Southern Girl. During the 10 weeks I lived in the Northeast, I gained an entirely new appreciation for the South and missed it a lot more than I expected.

3. In spite of #2, I do not have a noticeable southern accent - and I am very proud of this fact. However, any time I talk on the phone with my mom's relatives, this ceases to be true.

4. I love food. I love going out to new and different restaurants, as well as cooking at home. I watch the Food Network all the time. Alton Brown is my favorite Food Network personality.

5. Because of #4, I spend about half of every year trying to lose 10 lbs. A quarter of each year is spent indulging and not caring, and the other quarter is spent trying to lose 20 lbs instead of 10. There is a cycle.

6. I am terrible with plants. I have no trouble taking care of my dog and my cat, but I can't seem to keep a fern alive. I wish I had a garden where I could grow my own veggies and herbs, but, well, I don't think it would work out.

7. I drive a pickup truck. Yep. A little blue one.

How's that for random? Now, who to tag...


15 May 2007

I Can SEE You!

My best friend (aside from my husband, I suppose) just got a Mac. Pretty much the same one as mine. And last night we figured out how to do video chats. It's way cool and has rekindled the novelty of having a Mac in the first place.

Yay technology.

12 May 2007


Oh yeah. I bought some yarn.

In general, yarn purchases are not an extremely big deal. But this is my first yarn purchase since January. I said I would try and last until April; I set a resolution and I stuck to it. I placed this order the last weekend in April, and it arrived a week and a half later.

Koigu KPPPM color 608, 3 skeins, from Knit Purl. It took longer than expected to receive my order - but when it came, there was a handwritten note that they were waiting on a backordered pair of needles I ordered. So, I can go ahead and promote their site after all!

(These two skeins are labeled as the same dye lot, but, they most certainly are not. They're still lovely though.)

The majority of this yarn will be a pair of toe-up socks. Specifically, the "On-Your-Toes Socks" by Ann Budd in the Summer Interweave Knits. It's a simple pattern, but this being my first pair of toe-up socks, it'll be helpful around the tricky parts. Note that though it is the 7th pair of socks I've made now, but the first pair I'll have made for myself.

It is, in fact, quite a bit farther along than this picture. This picture was taken with the nice camera, which B took with him when he got underway. I could get the old camera out, but... nah. Just imagine this, but longer.

06 May 2007

Kitty Squid Does Its Part

This modest little cat toy pattern will soon be helping kitties in need.

Back in October I made my first one of these and posted the pattern. It's made its way into various collections and brought a large percentage of the visitors to this site. But it looks like this little guy was meant for a much larger purpose than generating blog traffic and amusing kitties I know personally.

The nice people at Maine Coon Adoptions, a cat rescue organization in the San Francisco East Bay area and a part of SAFE (stands for Saving Animals From Euthanasia), contacted me to kindly ask permission to use this pattern to promote their cause. And of course, since I'm a big softie for animals in need, I said, Absolutely! The toys are going to be made for fundraising, and additionally the organization is going to put together kits including the pattern (with my blog address snuck onto it), yarn, hook, and a picture of the final product (what a neat idea, huh?). All the money raised will go toward helping the cats - I hear last year the organization rescued over 160 kitties.

I am proud to play this small part in helping their organization. And you can help, too! If you can crochet and want to help some kitties (and the people dedicated to their cause!), all you need is some leftover yarn and perhaps a couple hours of your time. Make one - or several - of these simple toys and send it to this address:

Maine Coon Adoptions
2527 Carmel Street
Oakland, CA 94602

* Once again, the pattern is HERE. *

And visit their website, and see the other great things they are doing! Read stories, donate, volunteer, adopt a fantastic new family member!

I hope those California kitties like their squids as much as Bettie likes hers.

22 April 2007

Killer Instincts

Warning: There is no yarn content whatsoever in this post. But it is pretty entertaining.

This morning, as has been my normal routine the last few weeks, I woke up at about 9:15, brushed my teeth, and left the bedroom in my pajamas to take care of the animals. So I had only been out of bed for about 10 minutes when the following disturbing scene took place.

As soon as I opened the bedroom door, Bettie darted in and under the bed, with Riley barking at her heels. I scolded him and shuffled him into the living room and toward the back door. In typical Riley fashion, he hesitated in the doorway (I'm guessing, he's unsure that the 20 year old wood will support his weight.. but who knows). With the door wide open, I try and goad him outside, when all of a sudden the cat - an indoor-only cat for the month or so we've had her now - flies past me, past Riley, and out onto the deck.

At this point, she's unsure what to do next. She's apparently shocked to have made it outside, when all her previous attempts at escape have been blocked. So she just stands there a moment, getting her bearings, and I start to call to her in an attempt to keep her from moving long enough that I can snag her. And then, a lizard I had not yet spotted decides it's going to make a run from under the patio table toward the trees.

Bettie saw the lizard at the same time I did, and what happened next looked like something you might see on the Discovery Channel. There was a leap into the air, a somersault, and the next thing I knew, the rear half of the lizard was dangling from Bettie's mouth. The tail was flailing about, but I couldn't tell whether the thing was actually alive and struggling or if it was the involuntary last movements of a severed spinal cord. Again she froze, perhaps impressed by her own hunting prowess, perhaps trying to determine whether Riley or I was a threat to her kill. It was long enough that I was able to grab her by the scruff of the neck. I attempted to shake her a bit, then picked her up, but the prey was not about to be released. And I was definitely not going to grab it and pull, for the fear that I would end up with half a lizard in my hand. (Ew!)

So I couldn't make her drop the lizard, but I didn't want to let go of her and have her run off into the yard. So I quickly carried her into the house, hurried through the living room, thrust her and her giant mouthful into the guest bathroom and shut the door.

Half an hour later, I tentatively cracked the door on a strikingly clean bathroom and a cat eager to be released. There was no blood, but a little black blob of unidentified lizard innards... I coated the bathroom in Clorox.

Riley was so bewildered by the whole episode that he completely forgot he needed to pee in the first place. As for me, I'm pretty convinced that Bettie's former life was pretty exciting, and probably involved more than a couple of lizardy meals. Yum.

*On a completely different note, I am now employed! I start work - full time! - on Tuesday. Wish me luck!

16 April 2007

F'Argyle Socks

These socks are a very basic sock pattern embellished with a simple "Faux Argyle" - or "F'Argyle" - pattern band and contrasting color heel and toe. If you've never tried two-color knitting before, this might be a good place to start. They originally were supposed to have a more complex pattern around the ankle; then I discovered that stranding that stretches is beyond my personal knitting limits. So, this is what I wound up with. Fits an average size man's foot.

KnitPicks Essential Sock Yarn (75% Superwash Wool, 25% Nylon) - 2 balls Ash (MC), 1 ball Navy (CC)

Needles: US Size 1 & 3 (DPNs or circulars depending on your preferred sock-making method)

Gauge: appx. 36 sts x 24 rows = 4"

(Warning: I realize the pattern may not be written using perfect terminology, so let me know if it doesn't make any sense.)

With MC and size 1 needles, CO 84 sts.

Cuff: Work in the round in K2P2 ribbing for 1.5".

Leg: Change to SS and continue for 1".

Pattern Band: Switch to size 3 needles (to accommodate for non-stretchiness of stranding), attach CC, and work pattern (7 reps around) over next 13 rows.
(Black = Navy/CC, White = Ash/MC)

Leg (Cont'd): Switch back to size 1 needles. Within the next few rows, dec 4 sts = 80 sts total, and if necessary, rearrange your needles so that the "jog" in the pattern lies in the center of the back of the sock.

Work in SS for 3" or until leg of sock is desired length.

Heel: Divide sts in half, front and back, 40 sts per half. Place 40 front sts on stitch holder. Attach CC, K 1 row even across back, then turn, sl 1st st, P across, turn. Work heel flap as follows:
Row 1 - *Sl 1, K1* across
Row 2 - Sl 1st st, P across
Row 3 - Sl 1st st, *Sl 1, K 1* to last st, K 1
Row 4 - Sl 1st st, P across
Repeat these 4 rows until heel flap meas 2.25"

Turn heel - K across 23 sts, SSK, K1, turn. P 8, P2tog, P1, turn. Continue to work in this manner, slipping 1st st of each row, decreasing across the gap, until all sts have been worked - 24 sts remain on needle. Cut CC.

Pick Up row: With MC, pick up 21 sts along side of heel flap; K even across 24 heel sts, pick up 21 sts along opposite side of heel flap, K even across 40 front sts. Arrange needles as makes you comfortable depending on your sock-knitting method, keeping 40 designated front sts.

beg of rows = beg of back "half"
Dec row - K 1, SSK, K to last 3 sts of back "half," K2tog, K 1. K front even.

Alternate 1 dec row, 1 K even row, until 40 sts remain on back half.

Continue to work even in SS until foot measures appx. 2" less than the intended recipient's foot.

Dec row - (Back) K 1, SSK, K to last 3 sts of back half, K2tog, K 1; (Front) K 1, SSK, K to last 3 sts of front half, K2tog, K1

Alternate 1 dec row, 1 K even row, for 1", then change to CC and continue to alternate 1 dec row, 1 K even row, until 20 sts remain each half/40 sts total.

Graft toe together and weave in ends.

11 April 2007

An Absolute Tragedy

This weekend, the Jacksonville Humane Society - the very same one that Bettie came to us from - suffered a terrible fire.

200 animals were inside when the fire began. The Fire Department apparently rescued many dogs, but it appears that a lot of the cats were killed, and most of the ones that were freed ran off into the woods, some of them injured, all of them completely terrified.

The Humane Society faces a million dollars' worth of damage. They are accepting donations.

A couple articles:
Several Animals Dead After Humane Society Fire
Jacksonville Humane Society Recovering After Devastating Fire
Jacksonville Humane Society Website

I just can't imagine the fear of those poor animals, trapped in their cages and kennels... And the families who (like us) had visited, picked out their new pet, and had to leave it there while they waited on permission from their landlord or some other issue... How do you tell your kids about something like that?

02 April 2007

Lots To Cover

First of all, Bettie is doing wonderfully. She still spends a good part of the day lurking under the bed, but isn't that what cats do? And she hangs out with us looking for attention pretty often - especially when I'm trying to knit, or Brendon's on his computer, or somebody's generally trying to focus on something other than her. Again, typical cat.

She and Riley are doing about as well as expected together. She is rather timid when he's around, and he's alternately jealous of the attention she gets and fascinated whenever she moves at all. Basically, the dog has been operating on high alert since we got her, to the point where I finally had to remove her jingling collar so everybody could get a moment's peace. They are still working out their dominance balance, and there have been some stand-offs but so far no injuries. Then there are occasional harmonious moments like this.

And she is the recipient of a new crochet project. ("Recipient of," "excuse for," call it what you like.) Bettie's blankie! Currently it's a dining mat, but the food dish setup is still in a temporary state, and eventually the blankie will probably end up on the couch as a cat hair buffer, instead of picking up cat food crumbs.

It's so small and so basic (HDC's worked in a square with a shell edge), and took me so little time (2 evenings), and made of such a non-notable yarn (I lost the ball band but I think it's So Soft) that it doesn't even warrant FO status - just worth mentioning in passing. Especially since there hasn't been much crochet content recently... But I wanted to prove I still break out the hooks every so often.

My other current projects are a little more deserving of attention. I got re-motivated on B's socks; the first one is done and I've just finished the pattern part of the second. And they actually fit over his heel! Hooray.

Up close:

But since I didn't feel like dragging this sock to any more knitting group get-togethers, and have just been working on it at home, I've been working on this in the company of others.

So far it's just a bra, but eventually it's going to be a sleeveless cotton top. The band up close:

So, that's what I've been up to yarn-wise.

Sharp readers will perhaps have noticed a sudden increase in photo quality. That's because B got himself a fancy birthday present. I've played with it a little; B has taken probably close to a thousand pictures in the last week. Turn my head and there's a camera pointed at me. It's a bit unnerving. But after spending that much on a new toy, I'd be highly concerned if he didn't play with it incessantly.

And I apologize for not keeping up with this thing on a regular basis. I blame two things. Number one, I've been doing a lot more social knitting, and I think perhaps when I go out and share my knitting with others and they share theirs with me - in person - well, I don't feel as strong a need to do the exact same thing online. Number two, my biggest frustrations lately have not been about knitting, and I haven't wanted to post about them on my knitting blog (but mostly they have to do with not having a job, and not being able to do much about it, while I wait on one thing so I can wait on another..). I will try and do better, but until I have some other life changes, I make no promises.

23 March 2007

A New Mouth To Feed

Meet Bettie.

She just came home from the Jacksonville Humane Society. Now she's hiding inside my desk.

Don't worry, we'll bring her out of her shell soon enough.

19 March 2007

Getting Acquainted With My Singer

Among my house-related projects, this one really let me venture into largely new territory. I've had my sewing machine for a couple years now but its efforts have mostly gone to hems and tiny mending jobs. This thrift-store chair is my first venture into three-dimensional sewing.

From a distance it looks darn good, I'd say. Just don't look at it up close. Particularly around the zippers.

And even with all the (major) imperfections, the new cushions are still a humongous improvement over the old ones.

For some reason I didn't get a "before" picture of the chair itself. I'll let you imagine the dings and scratches that have been covered up by this glossy coat of black paint.

Knitting update: I finished that first argyle sock... and it wouldn't fit over B's heel. So I frogged the whole thing and I've started over with a simpler, stretchier pattern. Still, the whole thing has been fairly frustrating, and has led my knitting attention to wander to other projects. I've been working in a pretty non-committal fashion on three different projects over the last couple of days. Once I start moving confidently in any one direction, I'll post something of substance.

12 March 2007

Central Park

Pattern: "Central Park" from Fall 2006 Knitscene. (KAL!)

Yarn: Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran in color 141, "Blossom," 85% merino wool, 10% silk, 5% cashmere. 11 balls total. A birthday gift from my mom (thanks Mom!). It's a great yarn, if a bit on the pricey side. Very natural look to it, lightweight yet warm, and it shows off the cables superbly, plus it's nice and soft especially after blocking with a 1/2 cup of white vinegar.

Time Spent: Approximately 2 weeks, though I had an unusually high amount of knitting time within those 2 weeks. I was knitting like a fiend! It's taken me as long to get these finished pictures taken as it took me to knit the thing.

Notes: I made the 36" size and am very pleased with the finished fit. Pre-blocking, the sleeves seemed a bit tight, but this yarn definitely loosened up and stretched out in the blocking process. There are a couple of errors in the pattern, but Knitscene has given corrections and they are posted on the KAL's website: on the Left Front, Row 2 of ribbing should read "K2, P2" rather than vice versa; the Right Front, Row 2 of ribbing should read "P2, K2" rather than vice versa; under Finishing, Hood, Dec row should read "...k2tog, k1, sl m, k1, ssk..." instead of sl 1. These little errors were pretty obvious though, I thought. Modifications, well, I didn't have any, though I did opt to put buttons on it (given in the pattern as optional).

I think it turned out beautifully, and it might be my favorite thing I've knit. It could easily be mistaken for storebought, which I consider an achievement in my knitting.

07 March 2007

My Poor Neglected Blog

It has been way too long since I posted. In fact, I haven't even been keeping up with the blogs I read. It's shameful.

I chalk it up to the dedication I've been putting toward getting my house together. I'm declaring my house one massive WIP. In addition to the unpacking and organizing (now done! except a few boxes for B to go through when he gets home on Friday), I've been doing a lot of cleaning, yard work, refinishing furniture, sewing (yes, it's true), and so forth. There's also been job hunting, errands galore, and even meeting some new friends.

It's hard to find time for KnitBlogLand in there.

Not to say there hasn't been any knitting, because there's been a little.

An "argyle variations" sock for B. Definitely not expecting to finish the pair before he gets home in a couple days, but I might get through this first one.

PS, yes, I know, I owe an FO post on the Central Park. At this point, I'm waiting until B comes home so he can take better pictures than I would take in the bathroom mirror (again). So, Saturday? After that, my mother-in-law and her mother are coming to visit us for a few days next week. So it's doubtful that the posting will get much more frequent in the immediate future.

28 February 2007

Getting Some Sunlight

I bought plants. And planted them around my mailbox.

I have never purchased plants before. Not for planting. I've never had a yard or a garden of my own.

Bromeliads, Crotons, and Snapdragons. They will probably die. They are probably not suited to the soil/ amount of sunlight/ temperature/ something. Because I don't know anything about plants. But I think they look nice, and I am proud of myself. If for nothing else, than for spending time outdoors.

Now, about that dead grass surrounding them... That waits until B is home from his underway.

Zigzag Necklace

After the hoodie was all put together and soaked in the tub (and yes, I know I still owe another post on that sweater!), I figured it was time to craft in a slightly new direction.

Beaded wire crochet!

Pattern: "Zigzag Necklace" from Nancie Wiseman's Crochet With Wire, published by Interweave Press.

Materials: Artistic Wire, 28-gauge, in Plum; crystal beads; clasp and findings; size 4 hook.

Time Spent: A couple of hours.

My mother in law gave me this book for my birthday last year - along with all the supplies to make this necklace. And it slipped to the bottom of my stash. Oops. But, hey, I finished before my birthday this year! I hadn't ever crocheted or knitted with wire before, but I enjoyed it. Now I need to buy more wire so I can make more of the projects. (Does wire count against my vow to not purchase yarn until April? Hmm. Probably does.) I have another beaded crochet book (yarn/thread/fiber, not wire) that my former boss gave me that I also need to delve into. So many things on my project list...

26 February 2007

I Heart My Hoodie

Oh, my. I adore my Central Park Hoodie so much. So much, that I could not stop working on it, because I had to HAVE IT NOW, and I finished it in exactly 2 weeks. I've made socks that took 2 weeks. Socks!

Photo Shoot:

Artsy shot. Pretty buttons.

Obligatory bathroom mirror shot. (B is out on his new ship, so I have to model AND take the pictures. Ugh.)

You can see how nicely the hood lies. You can also see that the sleeves are a little snug. I think the blocking will work it out. Yes, I always block pieces after they're all the way done, seamed and everything. I know some people block pieces and then seam. I can't get a handle on what problems my blocking needs to address until after I've put the thing on.

Obligatory headless bathroom mirror shot. Check out those cables!

A sopping soapy mess. I block with Woolite, and for this one I threw in a bit of vinegar hoping to soften it up. It wasn't really harsh, just slightly scratchy on my arms.

Laid out to dry on the giant beach blanket.

The official FO post shall come after it's dry. I will try to find somebody to take pictures for me, since B doesn't come home for almost 2 more weeks.

*If you happen to become smitten with the Central Park Hoodie, check out the CPH KAL. See other knitters' gorgeous finished hoodies, and if you decide to go for it (and you should!) you can get any help you may need.