Saturday, October 28, 2006

Why can't they stay little forever?

No, wait, don't answer that. If they stayed little forever Mommy might lose her mind and do something drastic, like trade her darling woogums in for a cocker spaniel puppy at the mall.

Of course I wouldn't really trade my precious little pumpkin muffin in for a puppy. But it makes a good threat when DH comes home from work late and she is finally down for a nap after two hours of threats, pleading, begging, and finally resorting to CIO.

But knitting for a two-year old is great! Especially in worsted weight wool. Check this out:

That represents exactly one (one!) week of knitting: Friday night to Friday night. That is the entire front and the back up to the armhole shaping of the sweater I am making for Audrey. I hope hope hope my gauge swatches will not fail me. They have promised me approx. 15% growth in width and 10% growth in length after washing. I will be sorely disappointed if it doesn't grow.

Today (Saturday), I finished the back and used a three-needle bindoff for the shoulders. Arms begin tomorrow.

Small Child Warning

While battling the rain to get the mail this afternoon, I ran into my next door neighbor on his way out the driveway. He stopped the car to ask if I was aware a Small Child Warning had been issued. Unlike a Severe Storm Warning, which means a Severe Storm is on the way, today's warning is more like a Small Craft Warning. Persons in possesion of a Small Craft should protect their Craft (or Small Child) from the weather. Apparently they have measured some wind gusts strong enough to knock a small child off his/her feet. Not a good day to watch the weather from a rooftop for example.

The weather in the Midwest US never ceases to awe me.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I'm unemployed!

But in a good way....
I had my final day at work on Tuesday, and my new job doesn't start until November 1. So, I have two whole weeks of nothing to do! Ha Ha Ha, I wish!

I started off yesterday by running all those tedious errands that I put off all summer: got the car emissions tested, renewed the car registration, deposited a check, got a passport photo, sent in passport renewal application, and took a drug test/pre-employment physical for the new job. And all that before lunch!

After lunch I sat down and worked on Swallowtail for two whole hours - I am done with the budding lace section finally. I can't tell you how hard it was to sit on the couch and knit in the middle of the day. I kept thinking I should be "doing" something - chores, shopping, clean the house, make a fancy dinner. But I set the goal of finishing this section, so I did it, then I went for a jog (outside, in the daylight!), picked up some stuff at Target and the grocery store, and made a nice, if not fancy, dinner.

Here's the progress on Swallowtail:

Started the section with the nupps last night. Say it with me...nupp nupp nupp. Maybe this should be the Three Stooges Shawl? Nupps = fun. P5tog = bite me.

I'm heading off to see the parents for the next week - no posting for a while. I won't take Swallowtail with me. It's for my MIL, and my mom gets all wierd about me doing anything nice for my in-laws. Nevermind I made a lace scarf for her birthday in March this year.

If my Knitpicks order arrives today, I'll take some of the yarn and start swatching for a new sweater for Audrey. If not, there's some sock yarn in stash that is looking for a road trip.

Have a good week y'all!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I made yarn!

Despite my previous assertation that I wasn't going to bother plying my first lumpy singles, I decided to in the end. I made the poor woman's lazy Kate with toilet paper rolls, a shoebox, and two knitting needles (I knew those 14" needles would come in handy someday!) and turned two singles into a two-ply skein. Then I skeined it around my elbow and thumb joint (note to self - need niddy-noddy), tied loosely and gave it a bath with a little Eucalan.

Magic! The yarn bloomed and relaxed as soon as the Eucalan hit the water. After soaking a bit and squeezing out the water, I gave it a few "whipcracks" before hanging it to dry on a plastic hanger, with a second hanger as weight. Not bad! It really doesn't seem so overspun now. When hanging loose, the skein has a 90 degree twist from top to bottom. In the places where both plys are tight enough for me to see the fibers, the individual fibers appear to run mostly parallel to the yarn. This is good, right?

Here are two photos of my first yarn baby:

There are several sections in there, some a couple inches long (!) that look like real yarn! Both plys the same size, with nice even twisting. Of course there are more sections that look like unspun roving wrapped with string that we won't mention. The color is actually closer to the picture on top - its a very creamy off-white, almost slightly yellow.

Woot! I made yarn!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Everyone slept well last night

Fall is here and the nights are becoming cooler. Good sleeping weather. The leaves are turning colors. Monday and Tuesday were bright and sunny and unseasonably warm - almost 70F. Today the rain has come and the temperature is dropping - they are predicting some parts of the city may see snow tonight. Good sleeping weather.

Clapotis is done just in time (see previous post) to wrap around my shoulders in the morning before the office has warmed up. With nothing on the needles and the hint of winter in the air, I cast on my Christmas knitting - the Swallowtail Shawl from Evelyn Clark in Interweave Knits (Fall 2006). I cast on Sunday night actually, and took a picture Monday afternoon. Last night I completed another repeat of the Budding Lace 2 chart. Clearly this is not going to be finished in a mere week. Still, I have to admit I was attracted to this pattern after seeing so many pretty renditions in blogland and reading about what a fast easy knit it is. I'm optimistic I can finish it in 4 weeks though. That seems reasonable to me. The yarn is Knitpicks Alpaca Cloud in Moss. Lovely yarn and unbelievably inexpensive.
Unblocked lace is most unimpressive isn't it?

I plyed up my first handspun (eek!) last night and washed it to set the twist. It actually doesn't seem so overspun now - the skein is hanging nicely, and the strands are not fighting to coil up anymore. It should be dry by tonight; I'll take lots of pics of my first yarn baby!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Pattern: Clapotis
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden, Color 88. 6.5 skeins
Needles: US 8 (Addi Turbo)
Started: 9/13/2006, Ended: 10/7/2006

Pattern Notes and Lessons Learned: Great, quick knit. I love the way the columns "curl" after the stitches are dropped; the shawl is cozy and kind of "hugs" you. There was a little more green and rust/brown in this colorway than I was expecting - I thought the tan and purple would be more dominant. Overall though, it is a light, generally neutral colorway that will not clash with most of my office-wear (this wrap is destined for my office).

Friday, October 06, 2006

I got my letter!

I quit my job!!!! WooHooooooooo!
The aforementioned letter I have been waiting for was formal job offer with a company I have been interviewing with since August. Finally they have made a decision and I am their top choice. The offer was quite good, and my current job situation is quite bad, so I turned in my resignation Wednesday and will be moving on.

What a relief! It will be a little sad to leave my current employer - I like my colleagues and you couldn't ask for a more casual and relaxed work atmosphere. But I am in a "soft-money" position - as a contractor, my job security is only as long as there is money in the grant for me. I was first told that the money would run out last January. Then it was extended to March. Then more funding was trickled on to the grant in allotments of 3 - 6 weeks at a time. How long would you work for an employer that kept you on 3 - 6 weeks notice? No security there. It is quite sad, the state of research at this lab. It is a government lab, and used to do quite impressive large-scale research projects. The kind of future-looking, forward-thinking research that private industry is no longer willing to pay for. But now the government too has decided that they can no longer afford this research. In a way, they are right. With the war and the other strains on the country's and the agency's budgets, long term research is a tempting area to cut. No immediate payback. But here's the thing - once you let your scientists and engineers go - they aren't coming back. Sure, you can train new young people to do the same things in ten years when the budget allows you to start up again, but hundreds, no, thousands of years of collective experience and knowledge are walking out the door. And you will pay dearly to rebuild it.

No photos today - weather was not good for shooting yesterday. But Clapotis (colorway #88 btw for those who asked) is nearing the end - I am into the decrease section and have dropped 4 markers. And I have spun up all the Corriedale Ashley sent me. I'll have to go buy some more this weekend. So many different things to keep track of when spinning!

Have a good weekend!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Oooooh! Packages for me! Lots of packages for me!

This was a very good weekend for mail at the old homestead. Not the mail I have been expecting - a work related letter that I mentioned last Wednesday. How long does it take to write up a letter and mail it across town? Come on, people! I’m chewing my nails to bits over here!

Three, count them, THREE fiber-related packages! Can a woman ask for more? The first was from Ashley, who was my downstream pal on the Mellow SP round this summer. She knew I was interested in learning to spin and sent me a spinning kit - a CD spindle and an ounce of Corriedale roving to learn on. Thank you Ashley! There are good videos on and; I watched them all and promptly spun up a few yards of what can only be described as sewing thread alternating with piano wire. Waaaay overspun. I’ve got the drafting thing down pretty well though – some very thin stuff in there. Now to work on consistency and not overspinning. You can see some of my first attempts here:

I’m not even sure I am going to try to ply this.

The second package was from “bemily” over at the October Knitted Things swap (aka hutchart on knittyboard). In this swap, you knit up something warm for your pal, and send it out by Oct. 1. She made me a tam a la Elizabeth Zimmerman and a scarflet based on Knitty’s Flora. The yarn is by Suss, and is 100% alpaca. Mmmmm, alpaca! Very cute hat. I’ve seen this pattern in EZ’s books and never tried it because I never thought it would look good on me – but it does! Here is a photo of the scarf and hat modeled by my coffee table so you can see the spiral pattern on top of the hat. As soon as I get a non-blurry photo of the hat on my head, I’ll post that as well.

The package also included a bag of loose “Thai Lemon” tea leaves, and a bar of “Alkmaar” soap from Lush. I love Lush products. There is no Lush store here, so I always make that a bit of destination shopping when I am in a city that has one. In the US, it seems to be restricted to big cities – NY, Boston, SF, etc. In Canada though, they seem more common. Last time I was in Banff (small town, big tourist destination) I stocked up – it helps when the exchange rate is $1.40 CDN/$1 USD. Not likely to see those rates again for a while, are we? Thank you so much bemily!!! I love it all!

Wait, wait, there’s more!

The last package wasn’t unexpected – I ordered it myself. My very first Knitpicks order. The main purpose was to get a bunch of their color cards, since it seems like many people are mentioning that the colors on the web are quite different from the colors in real life. But I can’t pass up free shipping now, can I? I ordered 4 skeins of Essential sock yarn (two burgundy, two ash), and one of Alpaca Cloud laceweight in Moss. Final bill: $41.96. Free shipping! The sock yarn feels much softer than many “inexpensive” sock yarns – I can’t wait to knit up some socks and see how they feel.

Phew. I’m just giddy with it all! So wonderful to get mail that isn’t bills in the old mailbox. I sent out my October Knitted Things swap item last week, as well as a few RAK’s – so watch your mailboxes too!

Lest you think I’ve given up knitting to open boxes:

The Clapotis is (estimated) 9/14 of the way finished.

Gratuitous Kitty Nap