Monthly Archives: October 2007

Happy Halloween!

Despite our usual last-minutosity, Halloween Happened tonight.

A dad with a young trick-or-treater asked us how we kept the squirrels from eating our pumpkins. Well, that would be — by carving them an hour ago. . . .

I cheated and just drew: boo-pumpkin.jpg

But the rest of the family had fun with them:

kitty-pumpkin.jpghappy-pumpkin-vampire.jpgpollio-pumpkin.jpg

Then when I went to get the candy from where I had hidden it (mostly from my husband) in the garage, I found that someone else had been enjoying it:

bag-broken-into.jpg

mouse-candy.jpg

Based on the evidence, I would say that there is a mouse in the garage, who prefers Snickers and Twix, disdains M&Ms, and probably has developed diabetes by now.

It was a gorgeous, if appropriately chilly day.

halloween-sky.jpg

This is not my house.

not-my-house.jpg

Below, however, is the front hallway of my house, with some crazy lady with a camera in there too:

halloween-decor.jpg

And our front porch with a dark princess:

goth-girl.jpg

Here the Gothlet is, as a Goth Princess (her words, not mine), in the light, with two other blond Goth friends (she’s in the middle):

blond-goth-girls.jpg

and in full regalia later on:

costume-bright.jpg

The cat got into his bag costume.

cat-costume.jpg

My other daughter?

You mean Preteen Paris? (Her idea!)

paris-hilton-costume.jpg

preteen-costume-and-pumpkin.jpg

Mmm, hot cider. . . . scary undead Goth princess likes it.
undead-gothlet.jpg

It’s better to be lucky. . .

. . . than good, so the saying goes.

I was lucky #1000 at The Tsarina of Tsock’s blog (1000th comment, that is).

Today, straight from her talented hands and fertile imagination, I received happy prizes!

Look at this:

needle-keeper.jpg

A circular needle keeper, to keep the stitches on your needles and your needles from puncturing the bag (or other people, I suppose!). Most ingenious. Here it is in close-up:

needle-keeper-closeup.jpg

The circs slip inside and the cork goes on over the cables. And the corks are jeweled:

cork-2.jpg cork-1.jpg

Pretty and practical; what more could one ask for?

Just as pretty are these:

earrings-with-japanese-maple.jpg

My very own Vintage grape leaf earrings! Here hanging out with their distant cousin the Japanese maple. (Botanically, no doubt that is incorrect five ways from Sunday, but the shapes are evocative, don’t you agree?)

But they ultimately felt most comfortable with the Autumnal Shawl, being autumnal together.

earrings-on-shawl.jpg

Doesn’t that just make you smile?

It does me! Thanks, Lisa! I am thinking I will have to wear these during the upcoming total knitting immersion weekend.

(And my cat was MOST intrigued by the shipping envelope; obviously it carried marvelous hints of interesting felines. Such a bonus. Citrus also thanks you.)

Gordian Knot Undone

I have been making inroads on my autumnal lace pancake (aka Wedding Pi Shawl), and the predictable consequences were that tonight I had to deal with the internal workings of this:

gordian-knot.jpg

A barfglob, as Wendy put it some time ago.

As I suspected, I had to adopt a semi-Alexandrine technique to undo the Gordian knot (no sword, however, just a firm pull) and break the yarn in two places to facilitate untanglage.

What was rather amusing was that, after 20 – 30 minutes of serious untangling, I ended up with this:

gordian-knot-undone.jpg

The two places I broke the yarn, at seemingly opposite ends of the barfglob, ended up being a yard and a half apart.

A little splice action, and I’m knitting away again!

A view of the Mississippi River while running errands this afternoon; this is a couple miles from my house, looking downriver while crossing the sloughs (backwaters).

mississippi.jpg

Saturday Sky in Madison

Yesterday morning dawned cloudy, cold and windy on the outskirts of Madison:

saturday-sky-oct-27.jpg

But it cleared up into a gorgeous day.

flag-against-saturday-sky.jpg

We could see this rather disturbing sight from our hotel.

lasting-skin-drivethrough.jpg

“Lasting Skin Solutions”; and on the lower right, a drive-through (which is open!). Drive-through skin resurfacing?

(Actually, this office building shared space with a bank. But it did look a little odd.)

The Preteen sang beautifully, along with many other middle schoolers.

honors-choir.jpg

Listening to these singers, as well as the Honors Orchestra and Band that also played, it was hard to remember they were middle schoolers. They were wonderful.

After a celebratory dinner, we had a lovely drive home.

roadside-again.jpg

roadside.jpg

barn-across-the-fields.jpg

last-sun-on-the-trees.jpg

sunset-saturday.jpg

There may have been some yarn and knitting books in the back of the car. Friday, we went here:

sows-ear-outside.jpg

sows-ear-inside.jpg

The Sow’s Ear — a truly great coffeehouse and yarn store in Verona, on the west side of Madison. Too bad I missed Knit Night, held twice monthly. But I tried to solace myself with yarn….

And chocolate.

pretty-fondue.jpg

Isn’t that the prettiest fondue you’ve about ever seen?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Speaking of chocolate, sadly, Beth of the Chocolate Sheep and I could not get together for our tentative rendezvous. A combination of residual virus and consequent oversleeping on my part, and family obligations on her part, prevented it. But we had a nice chat on the phone! Next time. . . .

I did meet up with another blogger this weekend though. Teri and I got together to admire each other’s shawls and compare progress and shawl notes. I only had to go a mile to the coffee shop downtown to rendezvous with her, though! (Teri had to come considerably further, though she does it every weekday also from where she lives in Minnesota.)

Shawl? Well, it’s a very nice lace bag right now. I just increased to 600 stitches. Now progress will be glacially slow.

Here’s a close-up, though, looking autumnal (what else?) in the evening light.

lace-in-progress.jpg

Eye Candy Friday, and Out The Door

october-leaf-falling.jpg

Do you see the leaf, mid-fall?

Yes, it’s October!

I’m out the door early this morning in a good cause; The Preteen is singing in the Wisconsin Middle School Honors Choir, with rehearsals today and the concert tomorrow in the Madison area.

Warning: a little parental pride coming up!

When The Preteen was recommended to audition last spring at age 11, which involved sight-reading an unfamiliar piece as well as vocalizing, etc., and then when she was chosen for the group, of course I thought it was great. But then this fall, when she mentioned that she was the only one in her choir chosen, and when I was scouting the website for other info and found out that she was one of about 27 altos in the whole state of Wisconsin picked, from about 250 altos auditioning, those being hand-selected by their music teachers to audition — well! Pretty impressive!

And then when the music came in the mail, I was even more impressed; this is high school to college level music, including Mozart and Handel pieces. I was glad I sing, sight-read, and pronounce Latin well enough to help her learn these; if kids’ parents weren’t necessarily good sight-readers/vocalists, it would be a challenge (though their music teachers were supposed to help too, and hers did rehearse with her). So I’m very proud of her, and expect a great concert. There is also a Middle School Honors Band and Orchestra, playing at the same concert, and a friend’s son is in one of those.

SO — we drop her off a little later this morning, and then we don’t see her again until the concert! The kids all stay at the same hotel, have fun activities together, room together with young people from other areas of the state, and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

Since I made the executive decision not to drive to Madison, drive back tonight, and drive there again the next day, I got a hotel room for my husband and I nearby for tonight.

That means — a day plus a bit in Madison with no real commitments until the concert!

I have plans to abandon that beloved guy who’s driving, to his own devices for a while, and visit Beth, out beyond Madison. And a trip to The Sow’s Ear is hopefully in the plans. (Don’t have to abandon him for that; he drinks coffee, anyway!)

So I’ll check back in Sunday, I expect. Look for some current photos of Beth’s projects!

😉

More gratuitous eye candy to tide you over:

ornamental-grasses.jpg

Road to Ewetopia

We pause in the ongoing chronicles of the Wedding Pi Shawl, to bring you this account of a recent road trip to a new(ish) Southwestern Wisconsin LYS.

coulee-country.jpg

Ewetopia is a yarn and roving shop in Viroqua, Wisconsin, about a 45-minute drive from where I live. My friend Lee and I had been itching to check it out since it opened earlier this year, but with family and work, it’s hard to find the time for a road trip. Especially when both of us work a lot of weekends.

The shop is open later on Mondays, and I thought I could get done with work a bit early (NOT, as it turned out!), but in any case, we eventually headed out in Lee’s car, accompanied by her small knitting (and weaving) daughter.

The roadside was beautiful, even though it was cloudy:

barn-on-road-trip-to-viroqua.jpgfall-wayside-color.jpg

Lee drove (thanks, Lee!) so I got to point my camera out the window as we rolled along. When I wasn’t finishing Fetching.
This is Coulee Country! Coulees are small valleys tucked in between bluffs, which are the remnants of both ancient mountains and ancient seabeds, depending on where exactly you are. Coulee comes from the French word ‘coulée’, from ‘couler’, to flow. (I’m thinking named from the small streams often flowing at the base of the valley. The coulees were carved out by glacial runoff from Up North, but I’m speculating that the French explorers didn’t know that.) The glaciers didn’t make it this far in the last Glacial Period, so the bluffs and coulees result in gently rolling, fertile land throughout the Coulee Region.

coulees-and-bluffs.jpg

sunset-on-road-to-viroqua.jpg

So we got to Ewetopia as it was getting dark. I was so excited I forgot to take a picture of the storefront. But here it is inside:

ewetopia-shoppers.jpg

The yarn in the low case right in the center, as well as the skeined yarn in the foreground is all locally raised, handspun, and/or hand-dyed/hand-painted yarn. I really value supporting local fiber artists, so was delighted to see these. Of course, I had to put my money where my mouth was. . . you’ll see that later.

They have as much Cascade as I have ever seen in one place, I think:

wall-of-cascade.jpg

This isn’t even all of it.

The owner and her assistant were friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful without being obtrusive.

staff-of-ewetopia.jpg

Check out the “Our Founder” photograph above them! We kept them there a little late, I’m sorry to say; I got a work-related phone call as I was ready to have my purchases totaled up; and there may have been just a few things that needed to be totaled!

yarn-acquisition.jpg

Here are the highlights. First, some lovely local handspun:

handspun-redone.jpg

handspun-two.jpg

Then, this Skacel Merino Lace, which I have designs on for dyeing:

gray-merino-lace.jpg

Especially after seeing Astrid’s results with some blue-gray yarn, I’m curious to play with it. And this was $12.95 for 1350 yards; less than a penny a yard, such a deal for a whole shawl’s worth of fun! It’s a nice, soft, light merino which should be enjoyable to knit with.

Speaking of dyeing, this intriguing combination of brights and neutrals by the Great Adirondack Yarn Co. proved irresistible.

great-adirondack-mohair.jpg

I’m not quite sure what I’m going to do with it. Perhaps “My So-Called Scarf“, which breaks up color runs with its slipped and knit-together stitches. But it’s cool, regardless.

Then this Kid Seta by Madil, which is the same kind of yarn I used for the Pink Fuzzy Cardigan:

kid-seta-two.jpg

One variegated blue and one solid blue; I’m planning to hold them together and knit a lace scarf.

Then the two purchases I’m most excited about:

little-chibi.jpg

Tiny Chibis! I realize that’s redundant (apparently Chibi means “small in the sense of dwarfed” in Japanese) but I have trouble finding these smaller bent-tip yarn needles, whereas the Jumbo ones (think about that — “Jumbo Chibis”? “Jumbo Dwarfs”?) are much easier to find. It was the last set the store had. . . .

And this pièce de résistance, right after I said to one of my friends that I didn’t see a lot of sweaters in my near future (much like Grumperina), while the kids and I were all as busy as we are in our lives:

yarn-for-stranded-knitting-cropped.jpg

The blue yarn is locally hand-dyed merino in a worsted weight. I loved the colors (china blues, light teals and purples) but thought it might be a bit busy solo. But I had this vision as I looked at it; as the second color in stranded colorwork, the shifting blues would be gorgeous! Set off by white or off-white, I thought (black would also work, but I think I had this Delft thing going on in my head).

So, a little scurrying around the store fondling yarn and comparing weights, and I came up with the Cascade Lana d’Oro, a marvelously soft worsted wool/alpaca blend, which is going to set the blue off beautifully.

So I’m picturing a Norwegian style sweater; probably a cardigan for more wear opportunities (plus it will be WARM with the alpaca, and I think a sweater would be too hot for usual indoor wear). Yoke, hem and sleeve edge patterning; I’m not sure if I might do a ljus pattern on the body (probably not, that will make it less drapey and even warmer to wear, and might be too much visually; on the other hand, that means miles of unrelieved stockinette. . . .). I’ll keep my eyes open for a pattern I like, but might design it myself.

I think this could be my first steeking experience. Yikes. Not until after the holidays, for certain. But this would be pleasant to work on in the depths of the January chill. The blues remind me of the blues of the sky and of the blue shadows on the snow in January. But without the subzero part.

Speaking of chill, we still have not had a hard frost, which is freaky, but it was close this morning at 33 degrees F. There was frost on the mom-car frost-on-the-minivan.jpg [which actually my husband drives]) . Anyway, here are the finished Fetchings to ward off the fall chill for The Preteen!

fetching-mitts.jpg

Knit in RYC Soft Lux, pattern from Knitty.

Mods (of course there are modifications, I can’t stand to leave well enough alone!)

I decreased down to a K3 P1 rib for the body of the glove, as people seemed to be reporting this running big, and visually this made the ribbing the same width as the cable. I haven’t cared for the look of the picot bindoff as written , truly; it to my eye just ends up looking a little loose and sloppy . So I had decreased to K3 P1 ribbing again for the edge then cast off in purl. I could have done a sewn casting off too, but this was faster when you have an impatient Preteen waiting for them. Plus, I was just coming down with this virus as I cast off the second glove; managed to weave in the ends even though I was not very competent in any other way right then; but simple was good.

fetching-detail.jpg

Also, I did the afterthought/forethought thumb, but I’m not sure I like it for a glove. With the tighter hand-hugging fit of a glove vs. a mitten, and the fact that one is potentially doing tasks requiring manual dexterity (hence the actual need for the fingerless glove), I find this way of making a thumb rather binding across the thumb side of the palm in real life. So I think if I knit this again, I’d do a thumb gusset instead. I do always like this technique in and of itself, though; it’s knitting magic!

Here they are on the pleased recipient:

preteen-fetching.jpg

(How do you tell when a Preteen is pleased? It can be difficult, but when she puts the gloves on immediately and wears them out the door even though it’s 20 degrees too warm for them — and even says “Thank you!” — that seems like a pretty good indication.)

Thanks for the good health wishes! I still sound like Marlene Dietrich, without the accent, and felt poorly enough to stay home from work yet again today. This is what I’ve been doing for the last two days:

crashed-cat.jpg

But my brain is a little less mushy today, so I got some lace knitting in and this post done — by doing a little at a time, and taking a break when I needed to. That’s how we need to take all of life, eh?

Like this little guy. A blade of grass at a time.

bunny-2.jpg

And here — this bud’s for you.

rosebud.jpg

The Gordian Knot

Besides the “Cat P—” treatment, I have learned something else from my adventures with the Suri Lace yarn. I had read on the Mystery Stole 3 forum, that some yarns don’t take to center-pull balls well. I have had good luck with center-pull balls, even in laceweight, even slippery yarns (when confined in a yarn bra, anyway), but these lovely long Suri fibers and the beautiful halo that arose after washing and reskeining, result in the yarn inside the center-pull ball hanging on to itself for dear life. (Picture Red Rover* in a yarn version. ) The first three tangles I untangled with increasing difficulty. The fourth tangle — was not a pretty picture.

gordian-knot.jpg

I’m pretty good with knots, but there was no end to this one. There kept being 3 strands going from the knot to the inside of the ball, and I could never get it down to one even as I took more and more yarn out of the center of the ball. So I stuffed it back into the center of the ball to be dealt with later, and spit-spliced the yarn from the outside of the ball to my WIP, and now am happily knitting away.

In fact, yesterday I graduated from a snood to a hairnet. The Gothlet is ready to be a Cafeteria Lady for Halloween!

hairnet-shawl.jpg

(Or an Alien warrior, perhaps) alien-toy-downscaled.jpg

Yes, I’ll have to deal with the knot sometime, but if it does truly end up being a Gordian knot, I think I have plenty more yarn, at least, and won’t make the same mistake again! Sorry I doubted you, Mystery Stole 3 laceweight knitters!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I am currently battling a nasty virus that ambushed me on the way back from a yarn shop Monday night (I guess my defenses were down….)   I promise an account of the visit to the new LYS soon! Plus an FO (or a pair), some local color and so much more. Sigh. I wish I had more energy (and less mucus). At least blogging doesn’t require me to talk (right now I sound like 50 years of whiskey in smoky bars).

In the meantime, here’s a flower picture to tide you over:

campanula-closeup.jpg

*The wiki entry for Red Rover says this childhood playground game was popular “into the 1970s”. Guess that dates me. . . .