September 30, 2006

Where were we again?

The last week has just kind of whizzed by a bit faster than I expected. We had a nasty wind storm in the area on Friday before last, which had the lovely benefit of knocking out the electricity in my office...which meant I got to go home and work on my design project instead of sitting around in the dark hoping the server would come back online at some point in the day. I spent a few days charting and recharting it, so that by the time I got home on Friday I could sit down with the final chart and the yarn and just plow right through it. Phew.

This past week has been a bit crazy, mainly because I was off at a meeting in Martinez all day on Tuesday, and then had to go San Franciso on Wednesday. The plus side of the San Francisco trip was that I took the train, and then the BART (light rail), which took me within a few blocks of our office down there, and gave me two hours to knit on the way down, and on the way back, instead of having to sit in traffic on the freeway. This also meant that I got a lot of sock knitting done, thus finishing up the very *last* pair of pink ribbon socks. Of course, I cannot cheer too much at this point because I realized yesterday that I made the feet too long, so I'm going to have to rip out about half an inch on each, but I am still counting them as done. Repairing socks is not the same as making them from the very beginning. It is going to be a very long time until I am in the mood to knit any pink socks again.

I also dragged out the unfinished Bear Skin Rug from where it's been languishing in the laundry room these past few months, and have been making a lot of progress on that. I'll admit that there has been an ulterior motive for finishing that, however; when I am done, I have plans for any leftover fun fur. That's because today I took a class focusing on making a very fat and adorable hedgehog, specifically because the pattern uses short rows to accomplish the shaping on the back (underneath all that fur), and short rows are one thing I'd not yet really figured out. So now I have a finished hedgehog 'shell', waiting to be tossed into the washing machine and felted, and he is so very cute that once the bear rug is done I am going to go rummaging in the stash to see what I have in the way of feltable wool and I suspect there will be at least one or two more of these little critters in my knitting future.

On the needles - a new pair of socks for Richard. I've also signed up for Socktoberfest because I intend to try to work my way through more than a few pairs of socks this month in an attempt to trim down the stash, despite the fact that free time for knitting is rapidly being scheduled away. There's a trip to Seattle next weekend to visit my little sister and my adorable niece, an afternoon of gaming the weekend after that, likely an entire day spent making pomegranate jelly on the 21st (and probably three or four evenings prior to that spent shucking the pomegrantes in preparation for the great jelly-making extravaganza), and this does not include the pile of music that I am supposed to be arranging for the little recorder ensemble I'm (nominally) in charge of, or the lace shawl I really need to finish by Thanksgiving for an early Christmas present, or going off to a reading by Terry Pratchett (one of my favorite authors), and of course squeezing in some time *somewhere* to track down some orange wool and knit up this.

Posted by Jenipurr at 04:25 PM | Comments (4)

September 21, 2006

Sleep is for the weak

In the past few days I finished a pair of socks, using the yarn my One Skein Secret Pal sent me (picture coming eventually), started a Multidirectional Scarf for the Red Scarf Project (and was reminded that red yarn will stain the floor when it's puked back up by a cat - sigh), started Pink Ribbon Sock #13 (the *last* pair!), started to seriously consider trying out Kool-Aid dying to turn my remaining never-ending pink sock yarn into something that is not remotely pink (I am so very tired of pink), but would be perfect for these, realized that the deadline for submitting patterns for the Winter issue of Knitty is in less than two weeks and if I want to do this pattern that's been swimming around in my head for the better part of a year I need to get working on it ASAP, finally tracked down the newest yarn store in my area, a lovely place called Twisted Stitch in West Sacramento (they have no website, as far as I can tell, although if someone knows differently, let me know so I can link them! Updated with website!), who just happened to carry the exact yarn in the right colors for my project, spent an entire evening measuring and calculating and graphing out my idea to see if it is even remotely feasible, and even managed to cast on for it, since not only is the pattern due by October 1st, pictures of the finished object in clever poses are also due, and if I am to pose it in clever ways, I must finish the object to do it.

Of course, this weekend is the annual Scottish Games in our little town of sheep, which we'll be attending with the in-laws, as well as Joyful Noise Sunday at church (aka an extremely busy morning and afternoon for all of us musicians), and tomorrow the pattern and name of my victim for Sock Wars will arrive in my inbox (socks for which I still have not picked out yarn, I would like to add. I suspect I am not going to do well in the Sock Wars this year), all of which means that time to work on patterns and finished objects to be submitted will be in extremely short supply this weekend, and also due by October 1st is a writing project I agreed to do months ago, about which I still have no idea how to even start, and between now and the end of the month I still have to go to work and scoop litterboxes and fend off yarn-eating cats and wave in passing to Richard (who is also rather busy these days with the inaugural release of *his* latest pet project), and you know, you think eventually I would learn that putting off knitting til the last minute really isn't very wise.

Someone remind me of this again in December, when I am frantically trying to finish off a lace shawl for my little sister (which she picked out herself), and the truly awesome secret project that I will be making for Richard this year (hee hee), and also the design and construction of an anatomically correct heart complete with six bypasses (why, oh why, has no one else done this yet, so I could just follow a pattern instead of muddling through on my own?) I really want to make for my dad, all before Christmas, okay?

Posted by Jenipurr at 09:56 AM | Comments (2)

September 15, 2006

Seeing red

While going through my usual list of knit blogging reads, I stumbled across a reference to the Red Scarf Project in one of the Keyboard Biologist's latest entries. The project benefits's Care Package program for foster kids who've left the system and gone off to college. I remember how cool it was to get care packages from home when I was in college, because it was a reminder that there were people out there who cared about me, and were cheering for me and supporting me from far away.

I just happen to have a bin full of bulky red yarn sitting in my stash, with no purpose in mind, so I think this weekend I am going to pull it out and get started on however many scarves that yarn will create. If you've got some red yarn in your stash, why not whip up a warm and cozy red scarf or three for some kid out there who doesn't have a family of their own to send them care packages and remind them that they are loved. Or even better, why not use this as an excuse to hit your local yarn source and stock up on red yarn (I suspect we'll be seeing a lot of it available in the next month or so, for the holidays). Scarves knit up so quickly and there's so many fun unisex patterns out there (think of this an excuse to drag out your stitch dictionaries and try something out!).

The Red Scarf Project blog has all the necessary information (such as suggested sizes, where to send the scarves, and most importantly, *when* to send them). The plan is to send off as many red scarves as possible in January, so they can be included in the Valentine's Day care packages (hence the request for the scarves to be red).

Posted by Jenipurr at 09:26 AM | Comments (1)

September 10, 2006

A day of yarn and Harlot

To say that we have all been looking forward to yesterday is a bit of an understatement. When we all found out that the Yarn Harlot was going to be coming to California, within driving distance, there was a small amount of giddy going on, and as it got closer and close we started discussing trip plans - when to meet, where to go, what socks to bring to work on during the talk. Because it was going to take an hour or two to drive to Los Altos, and the talk was at 5:30, and because there is a glut of yarn stores down in that area (compared to the not-remotely-a-glut of yarn stores in our area) we decided it would be even more fun to just make a whole day of it.

Yesterday morning four of us met at my knitting mom's house in Vacaville (at 8am in the morning (which meant I was up by 6am in order to shower and fill my tank with gas and scrounge up breakfast at a local bakery and make it there with enough spare time to go play with four *very* cute and fuzzy kittens that she is currently fostering) and piled into one car, and then we drove down to Fairfield to meet up with two others (including my friend-with-a-yarn-store), and we were off, sock needles flying and knitters chatting a mile a minute. The first car that the four of us were in has a GPS system, which turned out to be quite handy because the driver had printed out a list of all the yarn shops in the area, so we could just plug in an address and off we'd go.

Our first stop was to Uncommon Threads in Los Altos. We all descended on the store in one big group (six women and a very small and very cute little baby) and browsed our way through the whole store, oohing and aahing and fondling yarn and pondering whether or not anything 'needed' to come home with us. It being our first stop of the day, I managed to be good, even though they had a huge selection of Koigu, which I have yet to knit with. But I currently have two bins overflowing with sock yarn (plus a bag of it which will likely fill a third bin) so I instead stared longingly at some Rowan Tapestry , which is so amazingly soft and lovely, but which I could not justify purchasing because I had no idea what I would do with it.

Our next destination was Saratoga, where we first found an amazing needlepoint store tucked back in a tiny little strip mall.

After wandering through the needlepoint store and pondering all the possibilities for duplicate stitching that hung on those walls, we decided it was time for lunch. There was an Italian place just opening for the day, so we went there (it was close and we were all really hungry). Luckily the food was delicious, plus we had fun passing the baby around.

This is what happens when you bring a baby still young enough to have the really cool toe curling reflexes into a small crowd of sock knitters.

Next up, Knitting Arts, which was located just down the street from the needlepoint shop, and which was conveniently having an anniversary sale, where everything in the store was 25% off! These are magic words to a group of knitters doing a whole day yarn crawl. And this time I could not resist. They also had a giant wall of Koigu, but those three overflowing bins of sock yarn back home kept coming up in my head every time I fondled a skein, so instead I stood by the bins of Colinette and fondled yarn, until I finally could not stand it anymore and picked out these two skeins of mohair, which are so soft and lovely that if I could just make a big pile of it into a nest I would curl up in it and possibly never leave.

At this point we realized it was time to head back to Los Altos, so we reset the GPS unit, made our way back, parked, and as we were heading for Full Thread Ahead, we saw this sign on the sidewalk and knew immediately that we were in the right place.


Of course, for all the non-knitters I am sure this sign probably was a bit of a puzzle. I had fun imagining all kinds of uptight mothers scurrying past, shielding their childrens' eyes and muttering about the loose morals of those heathen knitters. But maybe that's just me. Ahem. Anyway.

We zipped inside, where we found no line at all, and picked up our Signing Zone cards, and then we wandered around and started noticing other knitters wearing nametags with blogs that I recognized. One knitter and I stumbled across each other - she wearing a t-shirt that clearly marked her as a gamer - and we started babbling excitedly about GenCon and DragonCon and gaming people and everything else, and I would like to note that even in a yarn shop filled with knitters who are normally fairly open-minded people, talking about gaming will still get you a lot of very strange looks. Grin.

We camped outside and knit for a while, but then we, and everyone else, started gradually making our way to the back. They had such a massive response to the Yarn Harlot's visit that they closed off part of the parking lot in the back and were setting up chairs there, instead of in the room they'd originally planned to use. We all waited dutifully until they had all the chairs set up, but then it was a rather mad dash to claim seats from dozens of determined knitters.

Over the course of the next hour, all those chairs filled up. I think the final count was slightly over 300 people who came to see the Yarn Harlot, which was a good size crowd. It was fun to look around, counting the Clapotis, socks-in-progress, lace shawls, knitted tops, and finally put some faces to knitting blog names. Our little group of six took turns sitting in seats, or ambling down to the local Starbucks to get cold drinks (it was kind of warm in the sun) until finally it was nearly 5:30 and there were last minute dashes to the bathroom and we all scrambled to our seats.

There were some announcements and door-prizes and such at the beginning but finally they announced the Yarn Harlot and there she was!

She came out and started talking and wow, she is even funnier in person than she is on her blog or in her books. She had the entire horde of us in stitches (ha) for an hour.She is one of these amazing authors who comes across so very normal and down to earth, even when she had us all doubled over laughing.

They sent all but the first three signing zones off to dinner, since it was going to be awhile, so since we were in the third zone, we stayed to wait, even though now that the sun had disappeared behind the buildings, it was getting pretty cold out there and we were all wishing we'd been knitting large afghans instead of teeny tiny socks.

Standing in line for the signing was like standing in a grocery store at the check-out counter, where they have all those candies and goodies for sale. The line meandered past shelves of yarn (luckily not the sock yarn, because the will was weakening by that point), including a shelf of this gorgeous Misti Alpaca laceweight in some of my favorite colors.

(It had to come home with me. The store was donating 10% of all proceeds made during the Yarn Harlot's visit to the Knitters Without Borders fund (for Doctors Without Borders) so I *had* to buy this. It was for charity!)

Finally it was our turn. We all got all our books signed and we did a big group picture (minus the baby and her mom, because by then the little baby had just about had it and all the very nice knitters let her and her mom go to the signing early so they could escape the crowds and she could drive her daughter around the block until she fell asleep). Here we all are, holding socks and books and looking a little sunburnt and giddy.

We went for dinner at a Japanese restaurant just down the street and tried very hard to not all just fall asleep into our tempura. As we were heading out of the restaurant and getting ready to pile into cars and head back home, I poked my head back into the yarn shop. By then it was after 9:30pm, and yet, she was still there, still signing. I'm not sure how she does this, day after day, with long car rides and plane flights thrown in. I suspect there must be caffeine involved. Large quantities.

I didn't get home until after midnight, and I only vaguely remember stumbling into the house and tripping over cats on my way upstairs to bed. I am still completely exhausted this morning, but it was worth it. Definitely worth it.

Posted by Jenipurr at 08:19 AM | Comments (10)

September 08, 2006

Finished objects for everyone but me

Shortly after I posted the last entry, I saw not only one knitter, but two. In fact, the second one saw my socks, gave a big grin, and then sat down next to me and pulled out some lace (!). And I heard one or two people mumbling things about 'I should have brought *my* knitting' when they saw me in other panels, too.

Anyway. DragonCon was an absolute blast. I got very little sleep, but that made coming home and readjusting to the three hour time difference a piece of cake - if you're already a sleep-deprived zombie, time zones mean nothing! We stopped by the hospital to see my dad on the way home from the airport and what an amazing difference five days makes. In fact, all this week there've been more and more improvements - so many, in fact, that today they're kicking him out and sending home. He's still got a few weeks of outpatient therapy to look forward to, but it's all for little stuff now. My whole family is heaving huge sighs of relief, and busily scouring grocery store, recipe sites, and cookbooks for food that is not only low in sodium, but actually tastes good (so if you have any recipes you want to share, send them my way!).

But back to the knitting. Because I'm going to be mailing all this stuff off today, I figured I should get some pictures up first. First up are two pairs of pink ribbon socks with a single ribbon on the panel instead of two (as per their recipients' requests).

And next up is the Mobius Cowl, from DIY Network.

I made this out of one skein of 100% alpaca I picked up a few years ago from Tess Designer Yarns. It's so incredibly soft and snuggly against the skin and I am hoping that the silvery grey color is neutral enough to go with almost anything. The lace part of the pattern is extremely simple, and the cast-on was actually pretty easy to follow, once I remembered how to count (grin). I hope my One Skein Pal likes it!

Posted by Jenipurr at 09:49 AM | Comments (3)

September 02, 2006

Who says nerds don't knit?

I am posting this from the Hilton in downtown Atlanta, where we're staying for a few days while attending DragonCon - one of the largest Science Fiction / Fantasy conventions in the country. This is my fifth or sixth time coming, and alas, so far I am the only person I have seen anywhere, knitting. Surely all those Klingons, Stormtroopers and elves have to make socks at *some* point, right? There's not a yarn shop in sight, but we're still having a blast and somehow, waiting to see cast members from some of my favorite shows (Battlestar Galactica, Lost, Firefly, Dead Like Me, etc.) makes working on pink ribbon sock #12 a little more bearable (heh).

I finished the Mobius cowl on the plane to Atlanta (much to the delight of several people around me, since they had been watching me work on it while waiting for the plane in Denver and finally asked what the heck I was making). It's an odd technique to work with (it's the mobius pattern from a recent DIY Knitty Gritty episode, which I actually have never seen, but someone else made one and posted a picture and I decided to give it a try), but it was fun. I had to do a little pattern modification because I ran out of yarn with out about 30 stitches left to bind off (!!), but it turned out lovely, and I hope my One Skein secret pal likes it too.

My dad continues to improve day by day, and a huge thank you to all of you who emailed me or commented or just kept him silently in your thoughts. I am calling him every day that we are here, just to check in and see how he's doing. We had this trip planned months ago and I felt really weird about leaving but my parents both had a small fit when I suggested that I could stay home instead, I am, surrounded by 30,000+ fellow sci fi / fantasy / anime / comic fans, doing my best to show that even nerds can have fun with sticks and yarn.

Posted by Jenipurr at 11:58 AM | Comments (2)