Monday, August 31, 2009

Waiting For September

Tomorrow we get our first clue for the September mystery sock.

I'm ready. A choice of two different yellow yarns and a new project bag in which to carry them.

And I have a good supply of needles, in order to get proper gauge.

Customers Are Strange

So here’s the funny knitting story…

A few weeks ago, I went up to the Black Sheep on a Saturday morning. Tracy and Joyce were both away and it was only Renee and me in the shop for a while. Eventually, a few customers came in and Renee was helping them as I sat at the table and knit.

In comes another customer. Let’s call her Customer B. “I’m making a scarf for my husband. He says he’ll wear it if it’s good enough. I want self-striping yarn.”

“Oh,” says Renee, “how about Noro?” And she shows the woman where the Noro is and goes back to the customer she was helping and Customer B walks over to the Noro shelves – which are right beside the table where I am sitting. “Oh,” she says, “that’s too rough.” “Well,” I said, “it softens up a lot after you wash it. Especially if you add a little hair conditioner in the water.” “How do you wash it?” asks Customer B. “Just fill a sink with lukewarm water and some Soak or something…” I start. “What’s Soak?” she asks, and before I could answer says, “Never mind…that’s too complicated. What other self-striping yarn do you have?”

So I got up from the table and started walking around the room with her. Pointed out some other striping yarn. Found out this scarf was to go with her husband’s black dress coat, so I suggested some yummy gray alpaca, though it wasn’t stripey. Customer B insisted that the pattern had to be very easy, but when I suggested seed stitch or a checkerboard stitch she snapped, “Well, I can do something more complicated than that!” (So sue me…I think a simple seed stitch scarf is very handsome.)

About this time another woman came into the shop to help Renee out. (I think her name is Karen.) Karen got sucked into this woman’s search for the perfect yarn and she also suggested Noro. “Too scratchy,” says Customer B. “Oh,” says Karen, “but when you wash it, it softens up a lot.” ”That sounds too complicated,” says Customer B. “Oh no,” says Karen, “you can do it in the washing machine. Fill the washing machine part way, put in some Eucalan and the scarf and agitate it with your hands a little bit. Then let it soak. After half an hour, put your washer through the spin cycle then take the scarf out…it’ll just be dampish…and lay it out on a towel.” And Customer B is listening to her and saying, “Oh, that’s easy!”

I’m sorry? That’s easier than filling a sink with lukewarm water? It’s certainly less energy efficient and probably uses more water. But hey, if you can use a modern appliance it must be easier, right?!

Customer B became absorbed in choosing the perfect Noro color combination and Karen got side-tracked by a customer. Customer B begins asking my advice (“Is this too girly? Would this go better with black than this one?”) and finally says, “Can you see if there is anything else in back?”

“I’m sorry,” I say, “I don’t actually work here. I just love helping people choose yarn.”

Well, you’d a-thought I’d said, “I’m sorry. I’m a leper!” Customer B wanted nothing more to do with me.

It wasn’t upsetting. But it was odd. Anyway, I hope her husband deems her scarf good enough to wear.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Silent Week

Sorry for the inattention.

I spent a lovely afternoon up at the Black Sheep on Tuesday. Hung out with Tracy and Joyce and the gang. (We had had to leave work early to get Rachel to one of her last doctor's appointments on Tuesday.) I sat and worked on the Teseo scarf...I know, I haven't mentioned that one. Pictures later.

I finished up the stripey Noro scarf this week and got it all soaked. Kureyon is so much softer once it's washed. Pictures of that later too. The pink sock is coming along and I just wound up some cakes of yummy yellow yarn for the Sock Knitter's Anonymous September socks. So I have some knitting projects for the trip. I may also take along the alpaca yarn for Rachel's sweater.

Work was a little busier than it might have been this week because E. is on vacation and J. is on maternity leave, so it was just my boss and me. Not loads of stuff going on but enough to keep us moderately busy.

Took Rachel to her last ukelele lesson this morning and then we headed over the The Bead and I dropped a chunk of change on some clothes for her for this fall and winter. There will be some temperature difference between Mary Washington and Hampshire. The girl needed some sweaters. And some layering clothes. Tomorrow we look for coats. (And yes, we did leave this until sort of late.)

It's late and I should head up to bed.

Maybe some pictures tomorrow.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm Ba-a-a-a-a-ck!

Cat boxes are clean, Duncan is collected from the garage, where he was patiently awaiting a mouse to kill, and here's my

Current Reading

Actually, I am currently reading Disorderly Knights (Edit: I'm an idiot. The first one in the series, the one I am reading, the one whose title I see every time I pick up the book, is The Game of Kings. Sorry for the confusion.) the first in Dorothy Dunnet's Lymond series. I read and loved, loved, loved her Niccolo series and this is the third (?) time I've tried the Lymond series. I've gotten further this time then ever before so I am hopeful of making it through...the first volume if not the entire series. (Man, I gobbled up the Niccolo series like so many bon-bons.) ML, have you tried these books? I think you might like 'em. They are rich and dense like fruitcake...

But this weekend I took time out from Lymond and read Stephen King's Just After Sunset, a collection of short stories, some of which were great. And I read the first of the Harry Dresden books, Jim Butcher's Storm Front. It was a good enough time-killer...but I don't know that I'll be racing out to find the rest of them. Though I might read another one if it threw itself at my feet.

But I also read The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. What a great book! Original and gripping. Where to start? Todd Hewitt is an almost-thirteen-year old boy on a planet that his family and others settled 20 years earlier. He lives in Prentisstown and has learned his planet's history: how they settled the planet, how the human were attacked by the native life form, the Spacks, how during the way the Spacks released germs that killed all the women and made the thoughts of the the men all audible. (This constant stream of every man's thoughts are called the Noise.) The germs also made animals able to a certain extent.

But then he discovers a crashed space ship and...a girl who was on it. The first girl Todd has ever seen. Her parents were killed in the crash, but they were scouts for the second wave of settlers. And not only is she alive, not only are her thoughts unreadable....but meeting her triggers events that call into question everything that Todd has ever learned.

It's exciting and sad (I cried at one point) and I can't wait for the sequel.

Edited to add: In the interests of full disclosure, I guess I should say that one beloved character dies in this book and there are scenes of violence that are pretty grim. But really....great book!

Thises, Thats and the Others

So, as some people familiar with Ravelry might know, there is a group there called Sock Knitters Anonymous. (Of which I am a member...along with about 8000 other people.) Every month, there are certain challenges set for the members. There are prizes to be won, though I don't think that's anyone's only motivation. It's the fun of knitting together that I like...all us little sock fanatics. Well, a new year of challenges is starting...and this first month the challenge is to knit a sock in yellow yarn.*

I think I'm ready.

Left to right (and lightest to darkest): Miss Babs in Peeps, Zen Yarn Garden in Lemon Ice (with sterling silver sparklies!...but I think a little too variegated for this challenge, which calls for a solid or semi-solid), Cascade in some number, Three Irish Girls in Cian, and Shibui in Finch. At this moment I am leaning toward the Miss Babs or the Cascade. Or, if I do two pairs, the Miss Babs and the Cascade.

I got to work this morning and realized that my (verboten) camera was still in my bag. So I stuffed it in my pants pocket and waltzed in with it. And was even daring enough to take a picture of my desk...

What's your desk look like? (This doesn't show my side section where the computer lives.)

And finally, in just a little over a week, we'll be schlepping Rachel up to school. Fingers crossed that all goes well. I'm thinking it's going to be a great experience for her...certainly I'm hoping that! We are thinking that on the Saturday we leave Amherst, we may travel east to Boston to see Arthur's sister and try to find a hotel there for Saturday night. Daniel, if you're reading this, any hotel suggestions?

I need to go clean the cat boxes but I want to come back, if I'm not too tired**, and do a book post. I read a great YA science-fiction this weekend!


* It's actually a little more complicated than that...there are three parts to the challenge. You can knit the Mystery Sock (this month it's a secret design by Nancy Bush) in yellow, knit some other pattern in yellow (as long as it challenges you somehow), or knit a Wendy Johnson toe-up sock in any color. I am planning on attempting the Mystery Sock and perhaps doing a Wendy Johnson (I like her designs) in yellow. Or there's a nice pattern called Wheat Fields (I think) that I like...

** I woke up lat night at 3:17 a.m. (thank you digital clock!) and was just getting sleepy again at 4:22 a.m. when Duncan came racing in and jumped up on my stomach. I was then wide awake until after 5 a.m. and had to get up at 6. I've been a little zonked all day though now (thank you, stupid metabolism) I am beginning to wake up.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Haiku (Appropriately Enough) On Noro

Oh, Mister Noro
Your colors make my heart sing
Even though you itch.

Kureyon two stripe:
In humid summer heat you
Make me long for snow.

Like eating peanuts,
One scarf is not sufficient.
I yearn to knit more.

A Lovely Evening

I am obviously just not cut out to be a blogger. Mr. Pointy Sticks, Rachel and I went out to dinner with my co-worker E. and her husband this evening. They had invited us to join them at Dukem, an Ethiopian restaurant in Baltimore. So I carefully put my camera in my bag. And did I take it out to take any pictures? No! Such an idiot. Well, actually, I did remember...but only at the very end when the only things to take a picture of would have been Rachel's carry-out container.

But it was a nice time. Tasty food, too. Though I must say that, in texture, the injera (a flat bread) reminded me of a foam seat cushion....only in was very tasty. I had a combination plate with two different beef dishes, a lamb dish and tomato salad. Yum. I believe that Rachel liked it more than she was expecting to, though both she and Mr. Pointy Sticks said that they would have liked a fork.

It was a nice evening not only because we got to spend time with E. and her husband, both of whom I like an awfully lot, and not only because Rachel got a chance to meet them, but also because it was so out of our usual rut. We rarely....very rarely....go into the city anymore for any reason and to do so for dinner on a week night? Unheard of. And we've never tried Ethiopian food. And I had a beer. (Good for my bones, doncha know. I love it that that article says that more research is needed. Bet they don't have trouble finding volunteers for that one.) We really should do this sort of thing more often.

So that was fun.

The Noro scarf is at the half-way point. Pictures tomorrow perhaps. If I remember.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Oh Good Lord....

I may have started another 2-Stripe Noro scarf....

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Another One Bites The Dust

The weekend's almost over and what left are the less pleasant dregs. We have to do Gizmo's subcutaneous fluid poke and I have to do my biking...ugh.

But we've had a nice time. Eric, a friend of Rachel's came to visit and yesterday (after I made a fun trip to the Black Sheep), we went to Pho Dat Thanh for lunch and to Daedalus for a brief visit. I meant to take my camera and forgot! So no pictures, but man, we had a tasty lunch.

And last night Rachel and Eric cooked up a storm...they roasted a chicken and vegetables...yum. And made a Margherita pizza. All (well, not the chicken) with stuff they got at the Farmer's Market in Towson that morning. Oh, and they made two loaves of with hot peppers that we ended up giving to my brother, as none of us are big hot pepper eaters.

But I do have some pictures! Here's my new sock...the replacement for the Noro one. This one is in Fannie's Fingering...but I can't remember the color name. It's pretty though.

I decided to do a little garter rib...I might have tried something different but I was away from home when I got to the point of starting any pattern stitch, and this one is easy to remember. And I think it's an attractive stitch...a little fancier than a plain rib.

I didn't buy any yarn at the Black Sheep on Saturday but I came home to some yarn from the Kangaroo Dyer. She's having a summer sale and I am having trouble not throwing a coupe more skeins in my Etsy that Sultan's Sandals. And how about Salmon Falls? Pretty, pretty. So what did I get?

This one is called Jelly Beans...happy colors.

And this one is called Squash Blossom. I love these deep, rich colors.

While I was out photographing these goodies, I noticed the Toad Lilies are spreading. I planted one of these plants a couple of years ago and last year I noticed there were two plants...and this afternoon I've noticed they've spread a good bit. Trouble is? They're not terribly attractive.

Rather fleshy colored.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Two Steps Backward, One Step Forward

That pretty, brightly colored Noro sock? It's now a pretty, brightly colored ball of yarn. Sigh. I just made too many stupid mistakes and got tired of ripping it out over and over. I'll go back to it one day, I'm sure. But as an antidote I started a sock in Fannie's Fingering in a blend of pinks and reds.

And Rachel had her post-op appointment. Dr. Naff says she is healing wonderfully...though she should be taking it easier and she should be wearing her corset for three more weeks. (It's a wide band of elastic that wraps around her middle...lovely in this heat.) One weird thing. Last night she said, "What's this?" And there was a sort of nylon-looking thread hanging out of her back at the incision. "Huh," said I, "perhaps the nurse was wrong when she said he only put in internal stitches...looks like a stitch coming loose." Well, it is a stitch coming internal stitch! Apparently her body is rejecting the stitches.

I always knew she was a picky child.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Two More Hit The Dust

It's been a very reading weekend. I finished off both Richard Russo's new one (That Old Cape Magic) and George Dawes Green's Ravens. Both recommended.

Guess you can tell that not much else got done!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Reading Update

I just added 23 books to my "Recently Read" list over there...guess I haven't updated in a while.

A slew of them were Terry Pratchett's that I read when I was in such a funk in June. But there have been some others worth mentioning.

The Fate of Katherine Carr by Thomas Cook, was, if not one of his best mysteries, still a very haunting tale.

The Earth Hums in B Flat by Mari Strachan is a wonderful first novel. The narrator is 12-year-old Gwennie, who lives in a small Welsh town and becomes intrigues by a mystery in the town and a mystery in her family. Her voice is one that rings very true. Hope the author has a second book in her.

Still Waters by Nigel McCrery is the start of a series of mysteries investigated by DCI Mark Lapslie. When this book begins, Lapslie is called off sick leave, or "gardening leave" as they call it, that he has been on because he suffers from synesthesia and can barely cope with the sensations that flood him when people speak... Interesting character and very creepy mystery.

There were other good ones in the bunch, but these were the ones that got stars beside them in my journal.

Friday Evening Out

So, my co-worker (J) had her baby boy yesterday. Welcome to the world, Maxwell! After work my boss (K) and other co-worker (E) went to see the new baby and J. I took along the Elijahs. J's son Toby was there with a lot of other family and I was able to give him his Elijah (the larger of the two since he's the big brother). It seemed to be a hit. J looked great, if tired. And Max is adorable. He was in the nursery, under the warming lamp, two hours old. We didn't get to hold him but we stood at the window and ooohed and aaaahed.

Afterward, K, E and I went to Pho Duc Thanh for dinner...and man, was it yummy. E and I got carryout to take home to our various family members but the orders were all screwed up. Great evening.

Rachel is well enough to be bored and cranky and fed up with the itching of the incision. We ought to try to get her out of the house a little today.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thursday News

Rachel is doing better and better. I am trying to get her up and doing some small things for herself in hopes that I might make an appearance at work tomorrow. I think her biggest problem now is the itching of the incision and the boredom.

And now...I present to you...two Elijahs!

Little Elijah did not like the prickly, stickeryness of this location and can been seen here trying to climb into his big brother's lap. They were both good models, so I let them do something they wanted to do.

It's a little known fact that elephants like to climb trees.

And the yarn I got yesterday...yum.

Misti Alpaca in Orchard...

and the same again in Neruda.

And two different weights of Sheep Shop yarn. One in Spring...

and the other in a color poetically called something like F096...I prefer to think of it as Beach Glass....or Summer Sky....


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Status Report

Yay! Both Elijahs are finished. Too dark now to take a picture, but I hope to get some pictures tomorrow. thought this was about Rachel? Well, she's doing much better but still can't stand or walk for very long without some discomfort. I think I'll be home with her tomorrow...partly for her and partly, in fact, because I still feel pretty wiped out. But she is up and walking around a little more and she has some color in her cheeks. So things are good here.

And I got yarn in the mail today. So hurrah for that.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Whew! That's Over

Rachel's surgery went well on Monday and she was getting sensation back in her numb leg within hours of the procedure. Something that, we are told, will only improve as the swelling continues to go down. We had wonderful nurses...can't say enough good things about them and about Sinai Hospital in general. Not a wonderful experience for the kid but about as good as such a thing can be.

I spent the night with her last night on a narrow, and rather uncomfortable cot sort of bench and I feel zonked. And even though I had a two-and-a-half hour nap when we got home, I am feeling exhausted. More tomorrow, perhaps, when I am somewhat more conscious.