Monthly Archives: September 2007

Saturday Sky After the Storm

Here’s the beautiful blue sky this morning, before I rode my bike to work. What a gorgeous early fall day!

This is in sharp contrast to yesterday afternoon, when the sky turned black at 5 pm, as a narrow but intense line of thunderstorms headed our way (similar to the storm system that had resulted in tornadoes in the northern Twin Cities at evening rush hour the day before). I had NOT ridden my bike to work, having seen the forecast, and stayed at work a little later until it passed over.

45 minutes after the black sky and the high winds had passed, I drove home to this (not our house, but just a block away):

Fortunately, the car and the house seem undamaged. Whew!

Look at the sky to the north as I took this picture — less than an hour after the storm!

Wild.

I am so grateful that we took down the silver maple in our front yard several years ago. It was old, big and lovely; it surrounded our small upper porch, as though you were sitting in a treehouse, and shaded my daughter’s west-facing bedroom window from the fierce July sun. But limbs kept dying, and branches would break off in storms. So, three years ago, a friend in the tree business took it down — and lo and behold, it was completely rotted out from the inside (apparently silver maples are notorious for this). We turned that whole part of the front yard where it was, about 1/3 of the yard, into a ‘yarden’, which I love, and planted a pretty little Japanese maple, a hardy cultivar, which will not ever shade the porch but is a lovely sight.

So, the Silver Maple would certainly have come down in part or in toto in one of these storms we’ve had. Glad it’s gone. Let me show you, however, what I like to call the Conifer of Damocles:

See that second floor window? That’s our bedroom window. Specifically, ‘my side of the bedroom’ window. That tree sways wildly in winds like these, and when the storms are blowing up from the south, the tree brushes the window you can see, and another one directly over my head. I’m hoping that the flexibility of the tree’s trunk makes it less likely to come down, and its location between the houses may be a little protected. But in the big storms last month that caused the flooding, I saw an equally large spruce tree upended in someone’s yard. Gulp. My husband’s been talking about this one needing to come down too, because it also has a number of dead branches, more every year. But it’s on the property line between our neighbors and us, and they’re a little reluctant to take it down. Guess whose house it would fall on, though, if it did. Not theirs, likely. I hate to see trees go, but I don’t want a tree falling on my head during one of these 2 am thunderstorms, either.

Yesterday it was 90 degrees F and humid — NOT usual Wisconsin weather for later September. The deciduous trees have hardly even started to change yet, since the weather’s been so warm. But today is supposed to be a high in the low 70s — lovely.

So last night, my ‘fun’ thing was that we went to see the Harlem Gospel Choir at the Fine Arts University in town. They were awesome. We the audience were a bit pathetic; a bunch of Scandahoovian Lutherans who were NOT comfortable standing up, clapping and shaking our booties to Gospel Music. I did, and so did (wonder of wonders!) The Preteen! And my husband, who loves wonderful music of whatever persuasion (and is a good dancer to boot). I’m not sure my father did so much booty-shaking, though….

I’m happy to report a knitting first for me (even though this particular knitting accomplishment is not on the knitting meme that’s still wandering around):

I knit and danced simultaneously! I was working on a hat (photo soon) and during a non-clapping part, I knit and shook what I’ve got to shake simultaneously. I can’t speak as to the quality of the dancing, but the knitting looks fine!

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Eye Candy Friday (Mittless)

Life’s gotten in the way of posting my fingerless mitt pattern, and I have something fun to go to tonight. But tomorrow should bring a few free minutes, after I work in the morning!

Here’s the late afternoon sun earlier this week, gilding not the lily but a weed. But it looks beauteous!

No sun this afternoon, instead a wicked thunderstorm.

Mo’ Mitts

Here is more visual proof of the amazing one-size-fits-pretty-much-everyone nature of the Piano Teacher’s fingerless gloves:

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The husband actually consented to allow a hand photograph, though perhaps the lacey edge is not his style. I assure you, his hands are not small.

But I had to tweak the pattern. Here’s Mark II, The Mini-Mitt, more streamlined above the wrist:

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This was made deliberately shorter, so as to be able to knit two mitts from one skein of the Baby Cashmere. Hence “Mini-Mitt”.
I also like the thumb gusset shaping better. I’ll write up the pattern in the very near future. Hopefully tomorrow!

The Gothlet requested I take a picture of this fascinating bug on our Painted Daisies. (This is a new insect to me. Lisa??)

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An insectless view of the Painted Daisies in the evening light:

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Cockeyed Optimist

You know, when you get kind of good at something, you get a little cocky. Now if you’re Really Good, you know what you can get away with and what you can’t. As my husband can with cooking; not that he can’t make mistakes, but he’s a very good cook (used to be a sous-chef in a fancy restaurant) and he knows what he can substitute, either for a certain effect or because of necessity.

Now, when I baked cookies recently, trying Sheri (of The Loopy Ewe)’s recipe, I had bought chocolate chips at the store and knew we had shortening. I just Assumed that we had staples like flour and brown sugar (I knew we had some). However, when the Gothlet and I (she wanted to learn how to make cookies — I think she learned how NOT to make cookies) got to that point of the recipe, I found we had about 1/4 the flour and 1/3 the brown sugar we needed. Oops. So I substituted white sugar for the missing brown sugar, and had some organic 7-grain bread flour in the fridge. (It was dark and I was in no mood to go to the store; plus I had to work early in the morning.) OK. Not ideal substitutions. The ‘chewy’ cookies ended up flat, crisp and — umm — with lots of texture. I think the bits of grain and twigs and stones in the bread flour probably would have softened in an hour of baking, but not in ten minutes. They were unique, shall we say. Tasted fine, but — well.

So knitting can be like that. When you change one thing in a pattern, probably OK if you know what you’re doing. If you change a few things — be prepared for anything!

(PS: I’m looking forward to making the cookies with the CORRECT ingredients sometime — when we’ve finished eating the extra-crunchy ones — and if you like sock yarn, check out The Loopy Ewe — great selection of wonderful sock yarns, including those of a number of indie yarn dyers, and some of the best customer service I’ve been treated to! Highly recommended!)

To continue my illustrative tale of woe:

I wanted to knit something from Twinkle’s Big City Knits. Despite the rail-thin models in this book, who Do Not look like me, there are some cool-looking things in here (I’m planning on the Tuxedo Jackettuxedojacketsm.jpg

and the Balthazar Vestbalthazarvestsm.jpg, in particular, at some point).

I started the Best Friend Cardigan bestfriendcardigansm.jpg(de-bobbled) not in Twinkle Soft Chunky, but in a substitute yarn with reasonably equivalent bulkiness, Plymouth Italia Fingerpaints (color 901). Gauge was actually not too far off, but I ripped it out after about 1/3 of the body was done, when I realized I would not have enough yarn. So then I started the Aspen Hat
aspenhatsm.jpg in the same yarn I had just ripped out . But I knit on smaller needles, maybe size 13s or whatever I had laying around, because I always knit loosely. Well, after I had pretty much finished, I realized not only was the hat too small, but it was too shallow, and you can’t do much of anything with a hat that’s not deep enough. I ripped without much angst (also without photographic documentation.) So, I thought maybe the yarn wouldn’t work; I was ordering some other things from elann, and ended up ordering some Austermann Bombolo, which seemed as though it would be fairly close to the right weight. And then I used the size needles recommended also (19s, ugh, I dislike huge needles).

So — having changed the Yarn and the Needles from the last trial —

big-hat.jpg

The hat’s now too big. Just like the cookies, there’s a limit to what you can change and have it turn out anywhere close to the same.

Even for my giganto head, I think it’s kind of big. The look is more Ulan Bator than urban chic. (On the other hand, I do live in Wisconsin.)

ulaan-bator.jpg

OK, picture no trailing yarn ends and some funky big buttons. (And ignore the somewhat come-hither look as I figure out my camera’s self-portrait setting [love that it has one!])

Frog? Or reknit on one size smaller needles? What do you think?

Something to look at as you ponder and advise:
sorrel.jpg

Chilly Saturday Sky (and more fingerless mitts)

Frost warnings this morning. There wasn’t any frost on my roof or car windows, but others in town had some. We usually don’t get a frost for a couple weeks yet. Cold as it was, there was a chilly fog:

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Someone has their furnace on already, see the smoke. Can’t blame them. It’s sure not my friend, who doesn’t turn the heat on till November 1 (unless maybe it snows). She was raised a hardy farm girl!

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Then the fog started to lift:

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And by the time I was done with work at lunchtime, of course it was a gorgeous (cool) day:

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Now, just like last week’s Saturday Sky, let me tell you that there’s usually a bluff in some of those pictures. Actually, let me show you. Just for you, my blog readers, I went back and took more pictures after work of how things usually look:

(Thumbnails, click to enlarge if you wish.)

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Yes, really the same view, look at the trees in the foreground and the conifer just behind the smaller tree on the right.

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This is Grandad (or Grandad’s) Bluff, the highest bluff in the area, and the visual focal point of my city. I can see the bluff out our eastern windows, so when I get up, I check to see which way and how hard the wind is blowing the huge flag at the top of the bluff, to get a weather preview. (See the flag in the righthand picture just above?)

Apparently, Grandad’s Bluff is mentioned in Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi.

life_on_the_mississippi.jpg

(I’ll have to look that up for myself some time.)

How about a bit of knitting?

Here’s the pattern I’m working on, the piano teacher’s mitts, knit from elann.com Baby Cashmere (alpaca/merino/cashmere fingering weight):

piano-playing-gloves.jpg

They fit me (and the intended recipient) pretty much perfectly. But here they are (before ends were woven in) on my 9-year-old, and they fit her too! Amazing!

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I even made my husband try them on; he does not have small hands at all; but they pretty much fit him as well. It’s like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants!

So I’m going to knit these mitts again, refining the fit a little with the second pair, and then maybe write the pattern up. It’s simple, obviously, and these could be embellished easily with a lace pattern or cable on the back, but they’re very soft, warm and comfortable. Very suitable for indoor wear for those of us who don’t turn the heat on September, or who keep the heat low the winter through.

First Fingerless Mitts for the Fingerless Mitts KAL

Here are the Gothlet mitts in action:

fingerless-gloves-playing-piano.jpg

I didn’t set up this shot, this is just what she decided to do after I gave her the finished fingerless gloves.

These are based on the fingerless gloves from “Last Minute Knitted Gifts” by Joelle Hooverson.

I modified them by using fingering weight yarn

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Merino/Tencel blend, colorway “Goth”, from etsy seller Ashabee05

with 48 stitches on size 1 needles.

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This is basically a tube in spiral rib stitch, with a slit for the thumbs. The spiral rib has so much elasticity that these fit me as well as my nine-year-old. I started these on the walk for breast cancer research last weekend and finished within a couple days.

Eye Candy Friday

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Actual knitting content shortly; once I get the sunlight and the camera and the knitted objects together in the same space-time continuum.