Wednesday, December 24, 2008

MissE'sQuilt


MissE'sQuilt
Originally uploaded by Wordpurler
Christmas eve is...
...hunkering down in a honest-to-goodness snowstorm
...playing carols on a real-live piano.
...agreeing that the Baby Jesus wouldn't have wanted us to endanger ourselves on the snowy snowy hillside trying to get to church
...cracking open the wine, beer, and Jameson's now that we have no church duties to perform
...two blonde cousins playing jump on the bed until their cheeks are as pink as two Washington apples
...sledding down the hill and commiserating with a five-year-old who has never once before in his life suffered the indignity of snow down his pants
...not caring that half the presents are stuck somewhere in UPS limbo
...being with those we love celebrating the holiest day of the year and the return of light to the world. And cookies.
...finishing a quilt for your daughter and hearing her say, "My mommy made that."

Happy holidays to everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Let it Snow!

Knitted hats...in the wild.

The snow has been coming down for a week or so here...two snow days from school last week, and now we're on winter break. This just doesn't happen that often here--every few years or so, I'd guess--so it's pretty exciting.

And for me it was really gratifying to bundle everyone up and realize that we were all wearing at least one handknit.

Now if the pass will stay reasonably drivable until we can get over to Spokane...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

tagged: 4x4

Toni tagged me for a picture meme...

The rules:

* go to my 4th picture folder
* go to the 4th picture in the folder
* tell you 4 things about that picture
* tag 4 more people

I don't keep my photos in afolder, but in one big huge glob in iPhoto , so I picked a random set. Here's the fourth of that download:

This picture is from St Patrick's Day 2003, when Mr. D was 2 months old. (Hence M's shamrock-themed shirt and the corned beef and cabbage.)

  1. He loved to stand on stuff so M was letting him stand on the table. You can't see it from this angle but he was cracking all of us up around the table because he was staring crazily and intently at our friend Kristin (at right).
  2. St Patrick's Day is one of our favorite holidays. (I am all about the holidays that require much consumption of food and little other family or gift-oriented pressures.) We usually have people over and make the traditional corned beef and cabbage.
  3. According to Wikipedia, corned beef and cabbage is not a traditional Irish meal at all, but is actually American. Also, Ireland and St Patrick were associated with the color blue, not green, until the 1750's. "The wearin' o' the green" referred to wearing a shamrock, not green clothing. And the pinching? Please.
  4. Speaking of green, our wedding china, seen in the photo above, is Oxford Green by Royal Doulton. We have nine place settings. I like to use it for special occasions because why not?
I will tag: Megan, Janet, Jo, and Alana.

Faith in the unseen

Nope. This is not going to be a schmaltzy spirit of Christmas post. Frankly, after watching the crappy new Muppets Christmas special last week I think my Christmas spirit is lying dormant and won't reawaken until I actually light my candle and sing "Joy to the World" at the midnight service on Wednesday. I have a most serious case of Grinchicus Scroogifimus, and don't blame me if I go in my bed, draw the curtains, and don't wake up until the last bell rings.

Instead, I stretched my faith by trusting in my washing machine.

I've not done a whole bunch of felting. The whole "make it big, then shrink it down!" aspect seems a little counterintuitive to me. I have made Mr. D an arrow quiver, and three pairs of felted clogs, but that's it.

Miss E, being the second child, has less handmade stuff than big bro does. Just a fact of coming later, I think. So since this is the first holiday season she has really been aware of all the excitement, and since she has only a crummy store-bought stocking (that I think was actually bought for Mr D and not even for her, so double the bad mom factor), I decided to knit her her very own stocking--and felt it. Because there's something so...floppy...about a hand-knit stocking unless it is felted.

I checked Ravelry for felted stocking patterns, and chose an easy and free one. I probably could have figured it out on my own but I wanted to trust someone else's math.
Link
I then freely and with great loving care cribbed a stripe pattern from my Secret Yarny Boyfriend, Mr. Brooklyntweed, from his Turn A Square hat pattern. I am somewhat obsessed with this neutral/Noro Kureyon combo, having knitted two hats and a sweater for Miss E using this same stripe combo.

The knitting progressed like wildfire as I churned my way down the leg (90-ish rows of 64 stitches) in dribs and drabs over the course of the week. Heel was turned (short rows, not so scary when I know they'll be felted) AND entire foot/toe finished during Hellboy II (cool effects, story not so coherent, can't wait to see what Guillermo del Toro does with The Hobbit!) and the sucker was huge. With huge-ass holes in the short-row heel.

And I took a deep breath and said to myself: felting covers a multitude of sins, and then I took a photo,

and then I felted it...

And it was good.

So those little scales on the wool fibers? Unseen, indeed. Tiny, but powerful.

And the holes in the heels? They closed up...
Christmas magic? you decide.

(Yarns: Patons Classic in Charcoal and Burgundy; Noro Kureyon in color 124. Needles: size 10.5 16" circular.)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

NaKniSweMo Success!

No photos yet--but both my Charcoal Cables project and my third (or is it fourth?) Thanksgiving dinner as hostess went very well.

The sweater, like the turkey leftovers, has made an appearance every day since it was finished--with a skirt for thanksgiving dinner, out for a small wee bout of Black Friday shopping, driving to Tacoma to visit out-of-town relatives on Saturday, and home again home again today.

There were pros and cons to choosing Pullover #28 (as Vogue Knitting so creatively named it) as my NaKniSweMo project

Pros:

  1. bulky yarn & large gauge--3 st per inch
  2. size 10.5 needles
  3. interesting but not overly challenging pattern (thank goodness for the designer's presence on Ravelry, though, or I would have been stuck in a few places due to impenetrable VK pattern-speak and a few outright errors)
  4. knitted completely in the round (sleeves, too) for minimal finishing
Cons:
  1. 22-row cable pattern to read and (sort of) memorize
  2. reverse-stockinette sleeves in-the-round meant lots of purling.
  3. long sleeves and hood = more knitting than your average bulky pullover
  4. single crochet around the neckline; not hard, but I don't actually know how to crochet.
All cons aside, I was amazed at how quickly this went--cast on on Nov 5, finished the crochet trim on Nov. 26. Interestingly, the crochet trim was very easy...in elementary school I once took a "mini-class" in crochet and that muscle memory just came flooding back. Kind of eerie, that is.

The only other concern I'd had was about the Wool-Ease Chunky yarn. We'll see how it wears, but the charcoal color is quite nice, it feels warm without being very heavy, and it steam-blocked just fine.

Pictures soon!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cheating on NaKniSweMo

November is a busy month.

A big service project at school. The first yearbook deadline. Quarter grades. Thanksgiving coming up, plus a birthday or two to keep it spicy.

It also marks the anniversary of two not-so-great events for me--my back surgery in 1999, and--most importantly--my mother-in-law's death in 1998.

She was a quilter. A capital-q Quilter. An artist by training and avocation, she had more ideas for quilts in a day than most of us have ideas, period. On any topic.

When I joined the family, first as M's girlfriend, then fiancee, then wife, I used to joke that I married him so I could learn to quilt from her. You see, quilts were once my creative obsession. In 6th grade I subscribed to a quilting magazine. I made a yo-yo quilt in high school, sewing each gathered circle by hand. I don't know what it was about quilting, about patchwork that obsessed me, but like most things I am passionate about, I threw myself in headfirst and barely came up for air for years. The only thing that stopped me was lack of equipment.

I had a sewing machine, and my mom had taught me the basics of sewing. But quilting, a more specialized discipline, has as much stuff to it as does skiing, or mountain biking, or model railroads. Lots of gadgets and gizmos, and I as a high-schooler and then college student, just didn't have the wherewithal or resources.

R bought me my first (and, still, only) rotary cutter, fancy-pants ruler, and my first cutting mat. She let me "shop" through her boxes and boxes of fabrics, left over from when she owned a sewing/quilting shop.

And, more valuable than any of that stuff, she gave me the gift of several idyllic days working together on projects. She let me cut things apart and sew them together (badly, at first, of course). She initiated me into the art of chain piecing, and where you can (and can't ) cut corners. And when the pain from her treatments got too bad and she needed to lie down, she directed me and visited with me and forgave my bad seams from the couch.

I'm definitely a more persnickety quilter than she was--she loved the thrill of the chase, and I am a perfectionist (another reason why I like knitting better, but that's another essay). But one thing's for sure, these babies of mine would have blankets coming out of their ears by now, if their Grandma R were still with us.

So, in honor and to remember the ten years we've all had to do without her love, laughter, quilts, and wicked Turkey Tacos, my sister in law and I sat down last weekend and pieced this for my daughter; the dark blue fabric comes from Grandma R's fabrics:
(please forgive the yoga mat and bad cameraphone photo.)

I think she'd be proud.

And I'll post better photos once the whole thing is quilted. Then it'll be back to the sweater. I promise.

PS: all you ladies out there--is it time for your mammogram? Because if R had had one sooner, I might have pieced this in her presence rather than in her honor. I'm just saying.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Flight of the Skullcaps

In rather rapid succession...caught on digital "film" for the first time ever:

The moment of migration for the wild Cascadian Wool Hats (Capum Lanis).

Now you see them--so beautiful, so well-fitted, so covery-of-the-ears...

But wait! The first fuzzy wings take to the skies. In flight, the mature ones leave first, just like swans--


And then, they're gone.

Of course, shouldn't they be migrating NORTH this time of year? Must be global warming.

Pictured: M and Miss E, in Whistler B.C.. M's hat is Celtic Cap in Cascade 220 Superwash; Miss E sports a basic kids' beanie in Plymouth Encore Worsted.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Food (and fitness) for thought

I'm not an extrovert. Although I'm very social, I do best in places I'm comfortable--work, with friends, in my classroom--and it takes me a while to feel comfortable in new settings or surrounded by strangers. Being at a party, no matter how much I ultimately enjoy myself, saps my energy and I need to reboot with time alone or with my family.

Recently, Lolly posted a link to The 8 Colors of Fitness. I must admit that I am a sucker for personality tests of any type. It's the Connector in me--I love to figure stuff out, to analyze it, to take it apart and put it together in a way that makes sense and that is usable in new situations.

This 8 Colors thing is based on Meyers-Briggs personality types, and connects your personality to what will work for you in fitness. And, though some of it doesn't fit exactly--like the fact it says I'm an extrovert (borderline, however) I found this part of the description really interesting and fitting for me:

"...Silvers...find exercise success by keeping activities uncomplicated, unremarkable, and easy to accomplish. The Keep it Simple Silvers might even become rigid in their program, in contrast to the flexible approach they apply to the rest of their lives, convinced that if they deviate from their routine—or try to improve on it and change it—it might fall apart. For Silvers whose interests often pull them in so many directions, many report that regular exercise makes them feel more balanced and in control of their lives....Convenience is a must. The more decision points Silvers must navigate, the less appealing exercise becomes. Whether they belong to a fitness center, practice yoga, Tai Chi, or run in the park, Silvers don’t want to spend too much time in transition. Their schedules are tight and time is valuable. Convenience, after all, relates to flow—moving from one activity to another with little effort—much the way Silvers connect ideas....With their busy lives, many Silvers also enjoy exercising alone, finding satisfaction and balance in reflection. A walk at night, a run along the bike path, or solo time at the gym provides an opportunity to be with their thoughts and clear their busy minds."

Last summer, I started running again. I didn't make a big deal of it, because when I do that then I self-sabotage. But I did. Short runs, nearly every morning, starting in July. I continued through the start of the school year and, now, the whole first quarter of the school year. I'm averaging 2-3 miles a run, 3-4 times a week, and I completed an 8K fun run two weeks ago.

I had to come to the decision that:

  1. exercise wouldn't happen on its own
  2. I couldn't depend on anyone else (e.g. my family) to accompany me
  3. I needed to do it in the morning, first thing. This is the whole efficiency thing--I hate showering and dressing multiple times a day. It bugs me. Plus, if I wait until the afternoons and evenings, there is too much I can use as an excuse (kids, grading, cooking, exhausted, etc.) Morning provides no excuses.
  4. I had to give myself permission to be slow.
  5. I needed to do it by myself. I tried running with my neighbor the year I was home on leave; it was a terrible failure. I don't like having to converse; I don't like having to go at a certain time (unless I set it for myself); I don't like worrying that I'm slowing someone down or keeping them from their own goals. And--as you can see above--I like the solitude and the introspection!
  6. Running is the simplest and most time-effective cardio for me
  7. I needed to have some goals (time, distance, events) that were low-pressure but hovering over the horizon
  8. My exercise needed to be no excuses. The running clothes hang on the back of the bathroom door, the iPod is by the stairs, the shoes are by the front door unlaced and ready to go. After the alarm goes off at 5:05, I can be hitting the street by 5:10 and back before M's alarm goes off at 5:45.
There's no wrong way to get your exercise. For me, this is what's working. And I think it's interesting that the "8 Colors" description matches so well what I had already decided on my own. Maybe they're on to something?

Monday, November 10, 2008

One Word Wonders

Where is your mobile phone? purse
Where is your significant other? school
Your hair colour? coffee
Your mother? phoenix
Your father? renaissance
Your favourite thing? anticipation
Your dream last night? ephemeral
Your dream goal? flight
The room you're in? cluttered
Your hobby? knitting
Your fear? obsolescence
Where do you want to be in 6 years? abroad
Where were you last night? dreamland
What you're not? disciplined
One of your wish-list items? peace
Where you grew up? college
The last thing you did? read
What are you wearing? cotton
Your TV? companion
Your pet? marginalized
Your computer? elderly
Your mood? reflective
Missing someone? Roxie
Your car? practical
Something you're not wearing? jewelry
Favourite shop? Target
Your summer? whirlwind
Love someone? integrally
Your favourite colour? scarlet
When is the last time you laughed? "Office"
When is the last time you cried? Friday

Saturday, November 08, 2008

After the mods + NaKniSweMo


no.ugh.2
Originally uploaded by Wordpurler
I realized I never posted photos of the finished, modified aquatic raglan. So here you go. For Before shots, see the ravelry project page.

I have been wearing this sweater at least once a week since I finished it. I get unsolicited compliments every time I wear it, even from people who don't know I knit. To me, that's the mark of a well-fitting garment--when people say "You look nice!" rather than "Nice sweater."

So, yay for sucking it up and re-knitting it. I know I wouldn't be wearing version 1.0 once a week. It'd probably be the cat's bed or something.

Finishing this has inspired me to join in the NaKniSweMo madness. I have the yarn for two sweaters: Ingenue, by Wendy Bernard (love her new book, btw) and Green Gable/#28 by Mari Muinonen. Apparently this pattern was first published by Mari on her blog/website and available for free, but then purchased and re-published by Vogue Knitting in the fall 2008 issue.

I decided on the hoodie for NaKniSweMo because it's in a chunky/almost-bulky yarn and so I think it'll go a bit faster, even with the cable. Total impulse decision.

It'll be my first VK pattern, and thank goodness for Ravelry because there are some HUGE ERRORS in the instructions. Mari is a Raveler and she has posted a great thread in the group explaining some of the parts of the pattern that VK made more confusing, and fixing some of the issues.

The pattern calls for Wool-Ease chunky, which I got at Jo-Ann...I really hope that the amount of yarn will really be enough...The color selection was pretty slim, and I needed 7 balls for my size, which narrowed it down to just the Charcoal colorway--there weren't 7 balls of any of the other colors, and I didn't want to wait for an online order since November is rapidly ticking away...1/3 over on Monday! Yikes!

I'm going to a conference next week so I should have some travel/hotel time for working on the sleeves, and I'm already about 3 inches up the ribbing. Charcoal may not be an exciting color, but it'll be practical.

So, yay for sweaters, modifications, owning one's knitting, and rainy sweater weather.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Letter to my Knitting Goddesses

Dear Ann and Kay,

It must be interesting being a knitting luminary. On the one hand, you're relegated to the local morning talk shows (I wish I'd known you'd be on KING-5 yesterday morning between the traffic and the weather), but on the other hand you have the capability to make a normally-normal high school English teacher get all kerfluffled and give you a bag of coffee and make it sort of sound like she sort of doesn't like your books when in fact she practically has them memorized.

So since you've been busy and haven't had the chance to catch up to yourselves blog-wise, yet, I thought I'd write to you about last night's reading at the University Bookstore in Seattle.

(I must say that you did look just a TETCH tired last night. Who wouldn't be? Being on a book tour must be like Cro-Kay-ing a border all the way around a big blanket: a bit tedious, kind of daunting, but secretly satisfying.)

They had us stashed in Poetry, which I hope made your literature-loving hearts happy. (Has anyone else noticed that Colin Firth is looking more and more like Robert Lowell every day?) And, of course, they totally didn't have enough chairs. And the AV didn't work. But who needs AV when you've got a whole table full of handknits to show off? I ask you.

Anyway, you two talked about how you met...had some nice patter about being on the road...and then shared about your vision for your books: to create a kind of knitting book that wasn't there before.

This stopped me short. I looked down at the hat I was knitting (a striped Noro/Cascade 220 number) and I thought. Huh. Never before.

Because, to me, you guys are the Ur-Text. Your book is Lucy.

As I mentioned in my unfortunate schoolgirl blather while standing in front of you at that table last night, yours was the first knitting book I ever bought.

In college, I learned to knit from my neighbor, but I really only ever considered hats. I made four, got frustrated, and stopped. (Ye Olde Demon Gauge was the culprit, as he so often is.) I knew there were books out there for crafters: books on sewing, quilting, embroidery, cross-stitch. I had spent hours and hours of my childhood and adolescence perusing my grandmother's collection of Better Homes and Gardens craft books, circa 1975, full (as you can guess) of LOVELY crocheted THINGS. I myself owned several books about quilting, which was my first crafting love. But knitting books just didn't OCCUR to me. And then I set down the needles for those intervening eight years.

Meanwhile, there was this whole world out there about which I had no idea.

And you guys wanted to revolutionize it from within.

Meanwhile, I picked up your book on a whim, and just thought that's how the world was. (No wonder so many other books have been disappointing to me.) You assumed that I (your reader) was smart, functional, creative, dedicated, whimsical, and had a good sense of humor. You recommended all of the right books to me (I owe you BIG TIME for Maggie Righetti and Elizabeth Zimmermann) and you showed me how to knit baby kimonos and ballband dishcloths. You introduced me to Good Yarn and told me why it was important; you also introduced me to dishcloth cotton, which shows that Good and Cheap are not Mutually Exclusive. You made me laugh (your captions are the best) and you made me think and--best of all--you inspired me to knit, which I've done nearly every day since I picked up your book and perused the internets for a video that would teach me this mysterious and arcane Casting-On-of-the-Long-Tail Maneuver.

So, I hope you had a great time in Seattle and got to see more than your hotel and the airport. We didn't lie when we told you that the weather's not always that nice, but I do think that we all appreciate it that much more when it is gorgeous. I hope you enjoy your Tony's coffee (roasted right here in Bellingham) and I'm sorry I didn't think to bring you a ziplock bag so you could divvy it up.

If I were standing in front of you again, I'd add the following items:

  1. Your books are actually precious to me. And that whole story about me not putting my name in book 1 and thinking I might send it back, which I'm afraid came out a little bass-ackwards, was actually intended to make the point that I really fell in love with it and read it over and over and I couldn't believe tonight that I never HAD put my name in it and so I did and now it has rubber stamps of you two and that makes me inordinately joyful.
  2. The hat I'm knitting is juicy and blah for you, Kay, and the same color of Cascade 220 as your Perfect Sweater, Ann. Is that weird, coincidence, or fate? Discuss.
    (Not an option: stalker.)
  3. I want to knit a Margaret Sweater and embroider the First Amendment on it--I teach journalism, too.
  4. Oh, and I actually have read your entire blog archive.
    (Again: not a stalker. I was a nursing mom at the time. I also read all of the Yarn Harlot and about half of Grumperina until she pissed me off.)
  5. And I am knitting REAL fair isle for the first time.
  6. Thanks.
Sincerely,
Dana

Monday, October 13, 2008

Redemption

It fits! And it looks good! And I wore it! And I sweated! And it was fabulous!

And on Tuesday...I get to meet Kay and Ann.

Dreams do come true.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

So far, so Good

The mods on the Aquatic Raglan are going really well so far. I stayed up far too late last night hoping I could finish the ribbing and wear it today...but it might be tomorrow instead. I'm about 1.5 inches from the end. We are driving down to Bellevue today to visit some friends, so if I'm the passenger I'll definitely finish in the car. I plan on using the 2x2 rib invisible bindoff again; it's a big fussy, but the elasticity is a huge benefit for top-down sweaters! (It's not really "invisible" when done in a bulky yarn like Pastaza, but that's OK.)

One other mod I made that I forgot to list yesterday was to add a 10-st panel of 2x2 ribbing under the arms. For some reason, Japel's pattern doesn't have you cast off an inch's worth of sts under the arms like other top-down patterns; that means that you get a weird armpit bunching effect. That plus the too-big-ness of the body gave me wings that flapped out onto my back, like wearing a too-small bra and getting the dreaded bulge. Definitely not flattering. So, inspired by this top-down sweater on Ravelry, I ribbed under the arms as another way of getting the shaping I want.

(I always thought that was a great character detail on The Sopranos--how Carmela always had bra bulge. All that money and no taste.)

I tried it on twice again last night (use your head to save your feet, as Grandpa always says) and it is fitting SO MUCH BETTER! Can't wait to finish and redeem it from the land of UGH!

Pictures soon once I charge up the camera batteries. Could be a FO by the end of the weekend...just in time for the weather to turn! We've had frost the last two mornings.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Second Draft.

I wouldn't be a good English teacher if I didn't believe in the power of some ruthless editing to improve a creative work. It appears that my frustrations with the aquatic raglan, although justifiable, were not as dire as they seemed.

At first, I decided to unravel it completely. Before I did so, though, I spent some time on Ravelry looking for a suitable pattern for repurposing the yarn. Turns out there aren't many sweater designs in Pastaza--the most popular is, ironically, the pattern I'd already knit. The yarn is a heavy worsted/Aran weight (8 wpi) so I would have to do some serious maths to reuse it on any other patterns. I also swatched for the Counterpane Pullover, but that one is designed for a bulky weight yarn (7 wpi) and I couldn't get gauge.

So. Either I was going to make a sweater of my own design, or I was going to rework the one I already had. Since the pattern was already a basic top-down recipe, it seemed silly to re-do it as a different plain-vanilla top-down. An EZ style seamless raglan from the bottom up seemed reasonable, but also a bit redundant.

Who's the boss of this sweater anyway? I thought. The neck, shoulders, and arms fit great. The issues come lower down, with the body itself. And since it is top-down construction, that area is the easiest to redo.

I looked again at my problem areas.

#1: the chest. I made the 40" size. Now, my chest DOES measure around 39", but the 40" was just too big. I think I wanted some negative ease. and shaping but didn't really know it. I have relatively broad shoulders, but my chest is more compact now (I also started the sweater way back when I was still nursing Miss E, so the assets have, shall we say, resumed their previous upright positions.) I didn't want to do a bunch of decreasing because that might give it a triangular shape. Easy fix: switch from a size 10.5 to a size 9 needle. Let gauge be my friend. It looks slightly wonky where I made the change, but I think it will block out.

#2: the ribbing. It started too low. Easy fix: start it higher.

#3: the length. It was too long and hit me weird across what EZ referred to as "what we euphemistically call 'the hips.'" Easy fix: stop sooner.

I took a deep breath, unraveled up to the place where the body began, steamed the yarn, rewound the balls, and started the body again. I've tried it on twice (no pics yet) and am pleased with the solutions so far; I finished the bust area and am about 2 inches into the ribbing.

Cross your fingers... It might still be a keeper.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

To finish or not to finish?

I've got a lot in the hopper right now. I'm trying to finish up a bunch of projects, kind of cleanse the palate. This goes for work, too. Keeping up, clearing off, moving on: that's my ever-moving target.

The hardest thing for me to do is to know when to say when, when to say no. To a knitting project, a friend's favor, a job opportunity. I tend to try to do everything, to fit it all in, to see the plenty, the abundance. For the most part this suits me well.

Take these Muscari socks, for instance. I started them in great zeal last summer and really zoomed along. Then, somehow, when I got to the second heel, I couldn't find the notes I'd made on my modifications. My gauge was nowhere near the 10 sts per inch called for in the pattern, so I had to rework the directions for the short-row heel. Not a big deal, but enough to keep me from picking up sock two. So they've languished in the basket, while many other small and not-so-small projects have been finished (and started).

I like these socks. They're fun. They're colorful. (The yarn, FYI, is KnitPicks Felici, Coney Island colorway.) They will make me smile. I should finish them. I will. They might not be the first thing finished, but it will happen eventually. There is room in my life (and my sock drawer) for these stripey bits of sunshine; the problem is technical, not fundamental.


The ugly hated sweater, though, is a harder nut to crack.

On the one hand, it's done. It's wearable. It's warm. I spent $75 and a few months making it.

But, unlike the Muscaris, this one I really need to frog. I would rather start over than look at it every time I open my closet. It was an AFGO; another f-ing growth opportunity. I now know much more about what style suits me, and what doesn't; to trust my gut about a project's relative worth and fit; to measure myself more accurately. (Although, the measurement is still right. I think it's just the proportions of my body that I didn't take into account, and the fact that I like a bit of negative ease.)

I have some leftover yarn that I can use for swatching while I try to decide on another project. I was thinking Pam Allen's Counterpane Pullover. I'm really taken by the construction of this pullover, I think it would suit my body, and it's knit in a bulky yarn.

What I don't know is whether an alpaca/wool blend like Pastaza is appropriate. Anyone care to chime in?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Yes, I'm Still Here.

Remember when Garrison Keillor married that lady from Scandinavia (Denmark?) and then moved off to Europe and then wasn't on Prairie Home Companion for a while and then he put out a book called Yes, We're Still Married? (They later divorced, but never mind that for now.)

Well, that's the sort of obvious-yet-necessary announcement I'm making here. It's been a wonderful, absorbing, creative, absorbing, overwhelming, manageable, interesting, challenging, and abso-frickin'-lutely AMAZING start to the school year. Here are some highlights:

  • Mr. D started kindergarten.
  • Miss E went back to day care, and hasn't been sick ONE DAY yet. This is great because last year, before her celiac diagnosis, I was already averaging one sick day per week with her. My students thought I was a phantom.
  • I am getting my grading done in a timely fashion, have embarked on a research/teaching/writing project with my two favorite colleagues, and the newspaper has already put out TWO issues this school year.

If I were a pessimist, I'd start looking for the proverbial other shoe. But since I am a cockeyed optimist straight from the Nellie Forbush mode, I'll go my usual merry way until said shoe whaps me upside the head.

The knitting has ALSO been awesome lately. I have updated a bunch of projects over at my Ravelry project page (link on upper left of blog window) and have only a few left that are undocumented. I even (FINALLY) took a photo of my finished Mystery Stole (aka Swan Lake) but I haven't uploaded that one yet.

Hands-down favorite project right now? The Turn-a-Square hat by Jared Flood. LOVE IT. Family members, close your eyes; you can expect gifts. I did this using some Noro Kureyon I've been hoarding (color 124) and Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride in Chocolate Souffle (now discontinued, but there's another chocolate brown). The heavy worsted on size 7s makes a fantastically thick and warm hat. Great for skiing or any cold climate. I'll just wear it in the rain and laugh at the drops as they try to penetrate. Ha!

The only ill-fated project is my Aquatic Raglan, the simple Stefanie Japel pattern I started last spring (I think I've had the yarn since my birthday 2007?). You know when you get that little voice in your head saying, "Hmm, that doesn't look right. Isn't this going to be a little big???" and you don't listen? You really should. Because if you don't you end up with THE LEAST FLATTERING SWEATER OF ALL TIME. Seriously. It doesn't just add a few pounds. It makes me look like I'm four sizes bigger than I am, and flat-chested to boot. And I got gauge, too. It flaps under the arms, it puffs at the ribcage, and (until I redid the bindoff using an Invisible Bindoff) it bound at the hips. The ribbing starts way too low on my body, and it is just an UGH altogether.

(Don't believe me? Go LOOK FOR YOURSELF. And notice that I trapped my poor children up on a rock for the official portrait. Their happiness reflects my feelings about this garment.)

If I were really brave I'd figure out how to rip back and redo this one, because I think the problems were with my knowledge of how to flatter my figure, not with the pattern itself. For one, I should have started the ribbing higher and stopped it sooner. I also should have incorporated a little shaping below the bust, and I might even have considered a few increases in the ribbing itself toward the bottom.

Or maybe, like Garrison and his Danish sweeite, it'd just be better if we went our separate ways. No, This is Not My Sweater. Move On.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Back to school shopping

Things I should keep in mind when shopping for myself:

  1. I really, really hate trying on pants.
  2. But...when I manage to be honest with myself about my size, and I find not just one but two pairs of pants that are both flattering and work-appropriate, I will dance for joy in the changing stall.
  3. I can't add in my head or, really, do much good estimating because somehow I will not count a belt and the pair of shoes in the bottom of the TJ Maxx cart and then I will go $50 over budget.
  4. A-line skirts look great on me.
  5. A-line tops make me look like I am six months pregnant. I need to run, not walk, away from the A-line tops. No matter how hard I try to rationalize one, no matter how deep the discount, no matter how stellar the sale, it will not end well.
  6. Anything with a drawstring waist: see #5.
  7. I have a long waist. This means thank goodness for this past couple of years' trend toward longer tops because that means I can buy a medium or a large (depending on the amount of ease) off the rack and not be in danger of displaying my not-six-months-pregnant-but-also-not-sixteen-anymore midriff to my third period class when I have to reach up really high to illustrate the top part of the rhetorical triangle on the whiteboard. This also means that I should not ever ever buy off the rack in the junior section, even a L or XL, because whatever it is will be too short and make me look weirdly disproportionate. (Note to self: NOT A JUNIOR.)
  8. Elbow and 3/4 length sleeves are my friends. They don't get stuck in: sticky breakfast messes, overhead pen, or jammed copy machines. They stay put and don't end up inky. Since I have always rolled and/or pushed my sleeves up, it seems smart to eliminate the middleman and go for the 3/4 or elbow length right away.
That said, I actually had a successful back-to-school shopping trip this year. I'm not much of a clothes horse--have never been able to afford to be one, so I guess it's a bit of sour grapes--but I do enjoy spiffing up for the first day of school.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Birks, with bling


birkisocks2
Originally uploaded by Wordpurler
Oh, I'm getting so close!

I conquered the counterintuitive heel flap, seeded the gussets, and have reunited the socks on two circs, working my way down the feet. The pattern calls for switching to stockinette after the final cable repeat--I'm considering a tiny little Ravenclaw stripe right before I start the toe in blue...just a little touch...

Thanks to Celticmemory, at ravelry, for helping me figure out the heel flap issue.

And don't you love the stitch markers? The green and blue ones on the sock at left are from my HSKS 5 swap package (Lavender, did you make them?) and the neat blue & bronze one on the right is from CelticFrog's etsy shop. I think the beads on that set are vintage, so there might not be any others exactly like it...which is of course why I like them.

On down the feet!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Yarn lust

I have done very well this summer. I have bought hardly any yarn, except for some dishcloth cotton for my cousin's wedding presents, and my Hogwarts swap yarn for Lavender. I've worked diligently on projects extant, and actually finished a few that were hanging over my head. (A few that need to be blogged about! yes!)

But!

I've been playing with podcasts lately. I don't have a lot of time to listen to them, so had avoided subscribing to too many--I am not commuting during the summer, obviously, and when I am in the car there are usually two competing voices, Mr D, age 5, wanting Harry Potter (we have listened to books 1-4 approximately eleventy million times) and Miss E, age 2, asking to listen to the "Wicked" soundtrack (what can I say? She likes the show tunes...what toddler doesn't?). So there's not a lot of support for knitting podcasts among the rest of the family, especially because they are basically incomprehensible and totally uninteresting to them. I get it. I don't let M listen to his fantasy football podcasts in the car, either.

I had subscribed to "Cast On" and the Knitpicks podcast and had been enjoying them whilst on walks, during my few-and-far-between solo excursions, and when cleaning the bathrooms. So I checked out a few more.

The first new podcast I subscribed to did not make the cut, because I listened to two episodes and both made me feel like I was the new girl at school with no one to sit with at lunch. There was a tone of insularity--I don't know how else to put it--and self-centeredness that I just could not get over. Plus, I don't think grown women should say "Squeee!" out loud. It's one thing to write it, but another to say it. I'm just saying. And hearing a person complain with one breath about financial issues and then mention buying $250 of sock yarn on her credit card--well, that just brought out the Norwegian in me. Unsubscribe, please.

(I won't mention the name of this particular 'cast because I know it has many fans. It just didn't float my boat.)

The second one, the WEBS podcast, is on probation. I really like Kathy Elkins's professional manner, and the knitalong idea is fun--to actually knit along with a pattern together would be cool. On the other hand, I'm not really enamored with poor Steve being dragged on to read what is basically a list of yarns. ("Um...some new Noro at 9.95 a 100 gram ball...") So I'm keeping this one on the list for now, and I'll see how it goes.

The last one, though, like Goldilocks's porridge, is JUST RIGHT: Stash and Burn. They had me at hello, metaphorically--when Jenny (I think it was Jenny) asked: "Have you read this pattern?" And it wasn't a pattern she was knitting at the time...it was just one in a book or magazine that she had READ. For fun. Like I do.

So I blame Stash and Burn for my current fire in the belly to go and splurge on yarn. The last couple of episodes I listened to contained compelling and lust-inducing accounts of visits to various yarn stores on coasts both west and east...

And Miss E is asking for a pink cabled sweater (presumably to keep warm while backstage during her Broadway debut). (I asked her, not really expecting an answer, whether she would want stripes, lace, or cables on her sweater, and she answered, quite vehemently: "CABLES. Like Daddy." That's my girl!)

And I have finished two sweaters this summer. Don't I deserve a good spree? Or at least some pink Cascade 220 Superwash?

Friday, August 15, 2008

In a flap


aransandals2
Originally uploaded by Wordpurler
Yes! I have actually been knitLinkting!

I got out of the habit of posting pics during the Hogwarts swap, because I was working on the secret purse...but I have had a few projects in progress. I did, in fact, start the Aran Sandal Socks (ravelry link) from Socks Socks Socks on my trip to Spokane. They moved slowly for a while--the beach called, the wedding took up one day, and the rest of the time I was wrangling children doing the quasi-single-mom thing, since M had to return home to finish his classes. (Side note: How on earth do single parents manage? I had my mom and dad around plus a menagerie of assorted cousins, aunts, and uncles, and I was still exhausted after four days. Kudos to any single parent who doesn't just stick their kids in front of the TV all day.)

Another factor contributing to the slow start was that the socks are not mindless knitting at all, so I certainly couldn't pick them up during TV shows or even very much in the car once I got past the 2x2 ribbing. I don't get car sick very easily, but even my iron-clad vestibular system, which has handled reading in the car since I was able to hold a picture book in my lap, can't manage twisted rib or teeny cables for very long.

The yarn: Lavender Ackerly, my swap partner, had sent me this Swish DK in Ravenclaw colors. I haven't used superwash wool very often, just Cascade 220 superwash for my Stefanie Japel shrug, and I really like how soft the yarn is. Knitting the DK-weight on size 2s makes for a very firm fabric. I have three balls of the Cinnamon and two of the Dusk, so I'm doing the cuffs and heels in blue and the legs, heels, and feet in bronze.

As for the pattern? I think it is really lovely and the socks will be nice and warm this winter. I was a goofus and didn't check for errata before I started, so the first repeat of the larger cable was incorrect due to errors in the chart; oops. It isn't a super user-friendly pattern; there are two 4-row cable repeats and one 22-row cable; this means that after the first long repeat the cables are not synced up. I charted everything out for myself and used my magnetic chart keeper so kept confusion to a minimum. All three of the cables cross at different intervals, so there's never just a "knit the knits, purl the purls" round like in most cable patterns; there's something going on every row.

Last night I reached the money feature--the patterned heel flap. Here's where I hit my largest snag thus far--having some cables cross on odd rows and others on even rows is fine when one is working in the round, but it doesn't work very well when working back-and-forth. So either I misread the instructions, or there's something I'm missing. I decided to work an extra round in pattern before starting the flap, which means I only have to "back cross" one small 3-stitch cable every 4 rows, instead of a bunch or right and left twists every other row.

I checked Ravelry to see whether anyone had posted thoughts or strategies for the heel flap; I found one person's notes indicating she had solved the problem for herself (and there are 42 or so finished projects, so SOMEONE must have figured it out) and I messaged her. Isn't ravelry great?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Never say always

OK. I try not to channel Andy Rooney very often, because life's too short. But I'm grumpy about a couple of (knitting) things and I have to share.

  1. Why do people, when teaching or talking about knitting, say "always do..." or "never do..."? Knitting, as in life, carries very few alwayses or nevers. For every "always slip as if to knit" there's an equally justifiable "slip as if to purl."
    And, believe me, as a teacher of young people I GET that sometimes people need VERY SPECIFIC DIRECTIONS before they can spread their wings and fly. Maybe those people need the nevers and alwayses, but I find them condescending. Is it too much to ask to say "The best way I know is..." or "I prefer..." instead of "Always..."? At least the learner knows that there are other options.

  2. Why do people say they are afraid of certain types of knitting? "I'm afraid of socks." "I'm afraid of an afghan." "I'm afraid of lace." It's OK to dislike or not be interested in or think a certain type of knitting is for the birds...but afraid? Give me a break. Be afraid of alligators, or car accidents, or global warming...but knitting?

  3. Why does a certain magazine, we'll call it Mogue Spitting, not seem to tech edit its patterns? I actually picked up this magazine, which I usually find too fashion-y and impractical, this quarter because of the mitten patterns, and to my surprise I also discovered two (or more!) sweater patterns I might actually consider. But why, o why, when I turned to the instructions for one lovely sweater, one that was clearly constructed in the round and even SAID SO IN THE CAPTION IN THE GALLERY PAGES, did I clearly see directions for a FRONT and a BACK that were not in the round, not even one little bit roundy? It immediately made me suspicious of every other pattern in the entire issue as well as retroactively even more suspicious of any other pattern produced by said magazine in its long and illustrious lifespan.
OK, I'm done. This is Andy Rooney, signing out.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

My swap package...from Lavender


"I'll post tomorrow" turned out to be wishful thinking, but I finally got new batteries in my camera and some photos taken of Lavender's EXCELLENT and THOROUGHLY SPOILERIFFIC package to me.

  • Knitpicks DK-weight yarn for some thick socks for the wet PNW winter...
  • Socks Socks Socks, the book...
  • some BONUS sock yarn (Lane Cervinia Calzetteria) in the most beautiful berry-and-wine colorway...I don't know if I should KNIT it or DRINK it...
  • Books for my kids (they love the one about bats!)...
  • Harry Potter magnets and coloring book (not pictured, because they were IMMEDIATELY absconded with and squirreled away by my kiddos)...
  • soap sweaters for the whole family...the perfect excuse to buy some wonderful handmade soap at the farmers market...
  • TWO New York state washcloths...
  • 2 size 2 circs for making gorgeous Aran Sandal Socks from Socks Socks Socks ... I love the pattern SO MUCH...
  • Beautiful Ravenclaw stitch markers...


  • And a GORGEOUS cabled bag...Lavender must have really done her homework because I ADORE cables. I just think they are magical. The bag is lined in Ravenclaw Blue & Bronze...
And that's that! Thank you, Lavender. We're driving to Spokane today (yipes! better finish packing!) and I plan to start the sandal socks on the way--two at a time on two circs.

And for you haters out there--I don't care what Tim Gunn says, I'll wear socks with my Birkenstocks until the day I die. If we DIDN'T wear socks with our sandals up here, we'd only get to wear sandals 2.73 days a year, and that's just not enough.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Lavenders and I, part one


I've been thinking a lot about the thought and care that goes into swaps like the HSKS5 one I've just been involved in. I think it is a testament to the generous and, for lack of a better word, noble nature of knitters.

With few exceptions, when we give our word we stick to it, even if it takes a few extra days (weeks, months) to finish our project. It's a huge leap of faith to participate in a swap, and although I wasn't as active in HSKS5 as I thought I would be due to end-of-year nonsense and a death in my family, I thoroughly enjoyed being a lurker and participating in this world.

(I know there will be some angel packages, too, which both disprove AND prove my point, no?)

Tomorrow, when my camera is charged up, I'll post more about Lavender Ackerly's package to me. For now, I want to write about Lavender Diggory-Dolohov's package, which I had such fun putting together. And, thanks Lavender for the photos, which I am borrowing with her permission (on my own bandwidth...) I won't write about every single item (yawn!!!) but if you have any questions, feel free to add a comment.

THE BAG

For her knitted item, I wanted to design something on my own, and I had a bag idea in mind, sort of a conglomeration of a bunch of different bags I've seen online and in books. I wanted the bag to be simple (i.e. no intarsia or fancy colorwork), sturdy, pretty, and useful. When I found this Moda Dea Silk-Wool yarn in Charcoal and Wasabi, I knew I had my Slytherin colors.

I used Judy's Magic Cast-on and knitted the rectangular bottom in one piece, a double-thickness of yarn that made a long flat pouch. I reinforced the bottom by cutting a piece of plastic slightly smaller than the rectangle, rounding the corners so nothing would poke through or slice the yarn, inserted the plastic into the pouch, and then knitted the two live edges together. That gave me a flat rectangle with live stitches on one short end. I picked up stitches around the other 3 sides, ending up with a multiple that would work with my chosen stitch pattern. I then started working in the round up the sides of the bag using a 16" needle.

If you read Mason-Dixon Knitting (the blog or the book, ravelry link) you will recognize the stitch pattern from the Ballband Washcloth. It's a simple slip-stitch pattern that creates a yummy reverse-stockinette texture. In these colors it looks a bit like snakeskin, which I thought was Slytherin-appropriate. I continued the stitch pattern up as far as I thought it could go and remain sturdy, then did an I-cord bindoff for a little extra body to the edge.

The knitting went very smoothly; the lining was more of a challenge. I had already found the fabric I wanted to use, so that was easy. I'd just never lined anything without a pattern before! I winged it, reinforcing the lining with some light interfacing I found stuck in my (sorely neglected) sewing crates, and it went all right.

Once the lining was sewn, I was ready to put the whole shebang together...bag, lining, handles. But once again I was stymied. What to do with the handles? Should I attach them to the lining? or to the knitted bag? I tried attaching them to the knitting, first, but it just wasn't stable and the heavy-ish handles distorted the knitted fabric. So I sewed little straps into the lining, attached the handles, slip-stitched the lining to the bag, added the flap and a Nicky Epstein knitted i-cord button, and VIOLA (as my mom says...vi-oh-la)--it was done.

It was marvelously creative, combining sewing and knitting, and (a teensy bit) of designing, or at least the Dr.-Frankenstein-style borrowing that is my substitute for actual design sense.

THE EXTRAS

For some reason I had a hard time finding Harry Potter merchandise in my town, so I stepped off the beaten path in my search for goodies for Lavender's package.

Lavender has been struggling a bit with her love life. Her sweetie, Sirius, has been MIA this term and his fate is unclear. So I made her a mix CD--we all remember how mix tapes got us through the painful throes of first love, don't we??--of love and heartbreak songs. The first half of the CD is a bunch of my favorite love songs, so if he returns she can listen to that half...and, if he doesn't return to her, the second half is tailor-made for nights of crying, chocolate, butterbeer, and railing at the injustices of love.

The stitch markers were so fun, because they came from CelticFrog's Etsy store...it was fun to help out a fellow Ravenclaw. I also bought a set of Ravenclaw ones for myself--they are really pretty and useful.

THE SOCK YARN
The yarn was the major reason I didn't mail my package immediately after I finished Lavender's bag--I couldn't send it without the sock yarn, could I???

I had ordered some KnitPicks Gloss in (what I thought would be) green and grey, but the colors just weren't right--more like teal and light blue--and I was at a loss. Then I stopped into my LYS, Apple Yarns, and found THE PERFECT YARN. It's Cascade Heritage Paints color 9824, and the colors are beautiful, and what's more--there was the perfect pattern for it in the book I'd already bought, in the gauge appropriate for the needles I'd already picked out! It could not have been better. Well...it could have....if I'd been able to keep it FOR MYSELF. I'm just saying.

Lavender has been busily creating Twilight merchandise for the Twilight swap...and how amazing that there was a pattern named Twilight in the book I got her?

THE TOTE
LinkWith the remainder of the lining fabric, I sewed this tote bag from these instructions. I hope it will be useful for trips to the grocery store or filling with lots and lots of yarn. If you're looking for simple tote bags to replace plastic shopping bags, check this pattern out--each bag uses just a yard of fabric (I used 1.5 yards, because I had that much to spare--did I think I would be lining an elephant or something???) and is self-lined. SUPER SIMPLE and very practical. I'm thinking of making some more for us and for Christmas presents...and I haven't had my sewing machine out in YEARS.

There were other goodies I won't explain in detail...suffice it to say that I had a ball putting this package together and I am so glad that Lavender likes it.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Noctua Redirectus!

(Did you know that the Latin word for owl is "noctua"? The internet is so awesome...)

Lavender D-D got her package from me and likes it! yay!

And I tracked Lavender A's owl this morning and she is very near...but I will be traveling and under a Untraceable spell so won't be able to get it until I re-emerge on Monday. Waaaah. if only I were more proficient at Charms and could perform the Noctua Redirectus spell.

Hydrangea

Quidditch...(by Hydrangea)

1. When Hagrid returns to Hogwarts after being sent to see the giants with Madame Maxime, Professor Umbridge questions him on his late return to school. She suspects that Hagrid had been to the mountains, but where does he tell her he has been?

d. South of France

2. Professor Umbridge comes to Hagrid's Hut and searches his cabin one evening (as she believes Harry, Ron and Hermione are there visiting him at night when they are not supposed to). When she walks past the place where Harry, Ron and Hermione are hiding under the Invisibility Cloak, Harry holds his breath. True or false?

b. False

3. A stately-looking witch in an emerald green shawl is one of the members of the Advance Guard who rescues Harry from Privet Drive. What is her name?

a. Emmeline Vance


4. What is the name of the witch who was killed two weeks after the photo of the original Order of the Phoenix was taken?

b. Marlene McKinnon


5. Which two fifth year Ravenclaw students does Dumbledore choose to be prefects?

d. Anthony Goldstein and Padma Patil

6. Which house was Rose Zeller sorted into?

d. Hufflepuff

7. What is the color of Murtlap's essence?

c. Yellow


8. Name the Ravenclaw girl who became prefect in Harry's fifth year.

b. Padma Patil


9. According to a healer's portrait at St. Mungo's hospital, which disease was Ron suffering from?

d. Spattergroit

10. Which book did Harry give Hermione for Christmas?

a. "New Theory of Numberology"

Picture Scavenger Hunt
Padma Patil

Hannah Abbott

Percy

Dumbledore's Army

Cedric Diggory

Robert Pattinson will star in Twilight! (Did people see him on the cover of Entertainment Weekly last week???)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Accio Package! Spoilarifficus!

It's done...it's on it's way to Lavender D-D. And what's more, I have NO PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE. I have a list of what I included, and I meant to take some photos, but time got away from me and I got to the post office ready to go with a sealed up box and NO CAMERA. So, Lavender dear, can you please take photos for me when it arrives???

Saturday, July 12, 2008

An Unfinished Week

Summer is lovely here. (When it's not raining.) This week has been gorgeous--blue skies, warm sun, the things other people in other parts of the country take for granted. I have wanted to be outside every second of every day. We have taken walks, gone running, watched our son ride his bike...it's been amazing.

The knitting and blogging have, of course, taken a hit in the time department. I just can't justify sitting inside with a pile of wool on my lap when I look outside at our beautiful flowers, I have a little girl running in saying "I need you, Mommy! Slide!" and there are parks to explore, summer smells to smell, cookies to bake, and books to read.

So the good news is that Lavender Diggory-Dolohov's items are done and I just need to add a few more items; it'll be in the mail on Monday! (Can I really have finished the knitted item so long ago??) The other good news is that, despite having to frog ONE ENTIRE SLEEVE (oh the anguish!) I am making good progress on M's Celtic Raglan, my Aquatic Raglan is nearly seamed & just needs a neckband, and I have 1.5 socks of a new pair. I'm not sure how all of these UFOs accumulated but I've been like a bee in a flower garden, sipping at each for a few seconds, then flitting off, then coming back.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Oh my heavens to Betsy!! by Hydrangea

Oh my dear Ravenclawians--I am so sorry! I had a moment of summer what-day-is-it-amnesia and realized this morning that I forgot to post yesterday. Yipes!

it's been a very busy week (believe it or not, yes I have been on vacation) and my knitting basket is bursting with goodies for Lavender Diggory-Dolohov...packing will commence tomorrow. yahoo! And whoopsie.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Onward and Upward

I was just sitting downstairs, knitting away on my Aquatic Raglan, looking over at my SUPERSECRET HP pal gift, which is about 95% finished, and thinking...oh my gosh, it's finally summer.

Time to think, and knit, and play with my kids...time to watch movies and stay up late and try new foods and explore my area and visit with my extended family and catch up on some housekeeping details (like cleaning closets and...oh...renewing my teaching certificate, which expires on...um...Monday) and take Mr D to soccer camp and go swimming and sing songs with Miss E and ride my bike and get back into exercise and surf the net and ... the list goes on.

Maybe even do some writing, like I'm always intending. And do some more writing. And take some good pictures. And learn to use InDesign and Photoshop better, not just because of teaching journalism, but because it's fun.

So. First on my list: walk to mailbox, put renewal form in, and raise up the flag. (Also on list: replace nasty rusty mailbox that got bashed by neighborhood hooligans last year.)

After that task, as Mr. Bennett says, I will be quite at my leisure. And after the year I've had, I'm pretty darn glad.

Friday, June 20, 2008

trivia...

Trivia

1. At the beginning of the year feast, who is the only person who rudely interrupts Dumbledore during his speech?

b. Professor Umbridge (hem, hem)

2. Off what street is the alley where Harry first met Sirius?

c. Magnolia Crescent

3. Tonks’ mother had two sisters, both pure-bloods, and both left on the Black Family Tree. What are their names?

c. Narcissa and Bellatrix

4. What spell are the students studying in McGonagall’s class when Umbridge is doing her inspection?

d. The Vanishing Spell

5. Who comes to warn Harry and the rest of Dumbledore’s Army that Umbridge and her group of followers are coming to break up their meeting?

Answer: Dobby

6. Who are the members of the Order that met Harry Potter in the Dursely’s house during the summer before his fifth year?

c. Alastor Moody, Nymphadora Tonks, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Elphias Doge, Dedalus Diggle, Remus Lupin, Emmeline Vance, Sturgis Podmore, Hestia Jones

7. Moody used the Disillusionment Charm on Harry.

a. Yes

8. Which of these Death Eaters is Sirius related to?

d. All of these

9. At what age did Sirius leave his home?

Answer: 16

10. How many of the original Order members were killed (don’t include those who disappeared)?

b. 8

Picture Scavenger

Kingsley Shacklebolt

Kingsley Shacklebolt

Bellatrix Lestrange

Bellatrix Lestrange

tonks

Nymphadora Tonks

lupin

Remus Lupin (also see my entry two down to prove that I am married to him!)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I caught the snitch!


snitch2
Originally uploaded by Wordpurler
For teachers, the end of the year is simultaneously a sprint and a marathon. This year, in particular, I felt like I was trapped in one of those runaway mining cars in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom--just careening blindly toward who-knows-what. Family health issues...teaching two sections of AP for the first time...student research papers that were absolutely AWFUL but also a graduation requirement...and an unexpected family tragedy (on Thursday evening) made this final week of school unlike anything I've ever lived through.

But today I earned 150 points in the game of life. And the school year is over! My swap partner, Lavender Ackerly, sent me this awesome snitch, which hides a measuring tape inside its golden little body. (Hope I don't have to whisper, "I open at the close" to use it.)

She did specify that this gift confers no special snitch-finding ability when it comes to HSKS Quidditch...hoping for a Hufflepuff streak, I guess. Humph.

Thanks, Lavender! You made my week! And, yes, I will be doing LOTS of knitting this summer to make up for all those hours I lost this month commenting on horrific research papers...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Pirate Monkey's Harry Potter Personality Quiz
Harry Potter Personality Quiz
by Pirate Monkeys Inc.

This is my husband, my son, and I dressed up for the HP7 launch party last summer. Since I scored as a Lupin on the personality test, I thought I'd show how I am married to Lupin.


(I was dressed up as Mrs. Weasley, of course! Note the knitted patches on my sweater and my Swallowtail Shawl. I see Molly as a lace knitter for herself after all of those shapeless jumpers for the kids.)

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Collagio!


1. Foot and Jeans with Dana and Tree Bokeh, 2. Not available, 3. Trebuchet 2, 4. The red one, 5. Rafe Spall, 6. IMG_1905, 7. "LET THERE BE LIGHT". IRELAND., 8. New York Style Cheesecake, 9. Writer, 10. Family Portrait, 11. 1hp nigg optimistic, 12. Woodpile II

This was a fun one! Go to Flickr and search by the answers to the questions below. From the first page of results, choose one photo and paste its URL into this mosaic maker.

Funny: there were no results for Wordpurler, my Flickr ID...but it asked me, "Do you mean woodpile?" So, hence, the woodpile. And, for my high school, a picture of a trebuchet came up. Yikes!

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your flickr name.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Blogipostiumus!


Editorial Caps
Originally uploaded by Wordpurler
Ack. Sorry, Ravenclaws, I've been working like a house-elf on end-of-year stuff for my Muggle school. The hats pictured here are the garments with which i set free three of my senior house-elves, the three editors on the yearbook staff.

All are variations on the Basic Cable hat from Stitch'n'Bitch Nation, which I've now made about eight times, I think...great basic beanie. Of course I'm not happy with the plain rope cable any more, though, so all three were tweaked to my heart's desire.

From left to right:

1. Husky purple for my managing editor #1, attending UW this fall in Seattle...6-stitch silver dollar cable.

2: Charcoal grey, or "east coast grey" as I think of it, since here in the Northwest we're all about the earth tones--for managing editor #2, attending Northeastern in Boston this fall...I call this one the "brain wave" because i did a rope cable alternating L and R crosses so it didn't twist but waved.

3: Leaf green for my editor-in-chief, attending Journalism school (yay!) at Northwestern this fall in Chicago...This one had the most tweaks, because it was a 9-stitch braided cable. I wrote up the pattern for this one and I'll post it soon. I love how it turned out!

Oh, and all 3 were in Patons Classic Wool...Purple, Charcoal, and Leaf, I believe. Size 7s for the ribbing and 8 for the cabled portion.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Quidditch Match #1 (by Hydrangea)

1. Which of Arabella Figg's cats ran out from under the car? a. Tibbles (Actually, Mr. Tibbles)

2. Which of the following is NOT one of Albus Dumbledore's middle names? a. Ignatius

3. Which educational decree introduced a High Inquisitor to Hogwarts? d. 23

4. Apart from Harry, Ron and Hermione, who was the first person to enter the Hog's Head that showed an interest in Harry's Defence Against the Dark Arts classes? b. Neville Longbottom (I think; he was the first named to enter the bar, on page 337. The first person to definitely state that the classes would be good or important was Ernie MacMillan, on page 344.)

5. In the first Quidditch match of the year which player attempted to score first? a. Angelina Johnson

6. What kind of bush does Harry hide behind to listen to the news? b. A HYDRANGEA bush! My, my!

7. Why is Mundungus Fletcher disguised as a woman when he witnesses the DA (Dumbledore's Army) meeting in the Hog's Head pub? b. He was banned from the Hog’s Head pub 20 years ago.

8. When Harry and Cho go on their first date to Madam Puddifoot's in Hogsmeade, what is it decorated with for Valentine's Day? c. Golden cherubs and pink confetti

9. How old is Sturgis Podmore and where does he live? a. 38 and number 2 Laburnum Gardens Clapham

10. What did Fred and George Weasley do to Montague? a. Forced him head-first into a Vanishing Cabinet on the first floor.Picture Scavenger Hunt

Fred and George Weasley (Together)


Hog’s Head Pub

Sirius Black


Mr. Weasley & Harry (Together)


Draco Malfoy

Bubble Arms


CelticRaglan.528.4
Originally uploaded by Wordpurler
I have hit a snag. Or rather, a bubble.

I blithely started working down the left sleeve of M's sweater, and have worked, as you can see, an AWFUL LOT of the sleeve. Like, 90% of the sleeve. And, according to the pattern, with my personal gauge, I should work until about 38 sts are left. But I am nearly there and I have over! 60! stitches left. That is 1/3 TOO MANY. 50% too many.

Ugh.

So, before I pop myself out of bubble (sleeve) that is denial, I am going to FINISH the sleeve, having dramatically increased the rate of my decreases. (From 2 sts every 6 rounds to 4 sts every 4 rounds) And I'll see what it looks like on my husband. And I already know that it will look like he's an escapee from a quasi-Elizabethan road show. (But I hope not.)

As my grandpa says, I should have used my head to save my feet and double-checked my guesstimate rate of decreases before I began.

D'oh!!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A meme

Olive tagged HSKS5 members for this meme, so here goes--

(Answers are from Dana, not Hydrangea)

1. What was I doing 10 years ago? Spring of 1998 was my senior year of college. I was finishing up classes, was working as an Assistant Resident Director in a residence hall, and was a newlywed. I had recently quit knitting, forever, after several hat mishaps. (Famous last words!) That summer I worked for an educational services company, and that fall I did my student teaching. It was an exciting, stressful year, and one I would not relive for a million dollars.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list today: finish grading a set of essays, touch base with a friend of mine who I've been missing at school, take extra clothes for Baby E to daycare, create a handout for the journalism meeting after school, and try to finish sleeve 1 on M's sweater.

3. Snacks I enjoy: potato chips and milk; ice cream; nice, crisp Washington apples; kiwi; fruit-flavored candy like Skittles, Starburst, or Jelly Belly jellybeans; hummus; california rolls; black licorice.

4. Places I’ve lived: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Texas, and Kansas. It looks like a long list; however, all but 6 years (of 32, so far) were in Washington. Hence my love of apples, wheat, salmon, tulips, orcas, evergreen trees, and very tall mountains.

5. Things I would do if I were a billionaire: fully fund public schools and libraries; endow a building at my alma mater; travel the world; buy any book and any skein of yarn I ever wanted, whenever I wanted to.

6. Who I want to know more about: anyone who'd like to participate