Thursday, November 30, 2006

Here she is----Miss Cellaneous...

I like her now a good deal more than I did 48 hours ago. It's lovely Miss Swallowtail Shawl, made from a ball and a half of Crystal Palace Kid Merino . It measures roughly 5 feet across and about 21" deep, and this is after a very light blocking...actually, I just wet it down, and picked at the edges a little. The fuzz obscures my major chart boo-boo. Now that I have her looking pretty, I want to do one where she's actually RIGHT.

K is for-

I finished up the wretched Swallowtail last night. Between the fluff and the multi-colors, it will be fine. I think I will gift it to Georgie, my Dad's neighbor who runs him to Luke AFB now and then.

A nibbling little idea helped motivate me to finish that stupid shawl. My Dean of Honor has a friend, Karl, who reminds me of my mother. I decided that since Karl lives in the City by the Bay, he might like a warm scarf. I dug through Stash Mountain, and came up with two choices-Elann's Pure Camel in camel, or their Baby Silk in Sapphire. Gosh, what to choose? Most of Dean's friends have a pretty good eye for quality, so camel would be great, but the blue would look fantastic. I emailed Dean, but need to knit NOW, and can't wait that I started this- It started out as BW #1 pp 12, Double Broken Rib, but my Knitter's ADD kicked in almost immediately, and I decided to alternate the ribbed sections for a basket weave. This is a "God, I've got a sinus headache" easy-to-knit pattern. It will be genderless and CAMEL (ewwww) but look classy.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I'm the Queen!

I qualified for the crown this week. After I figured out how to make the Swallowtail Shawl nupps behave, it was all smooth sailing. I was on the last row of the fourth lace chart, and looked at my charts. And then I saw it.
In the pattern, as published in IWK Fall 2006, chart one and two are identical on each half of the shawl, as is chart five. Charts three and four mirror each other.
Dammit. Damn. DAMN. This is the second time I've knit this in less than six weeks, and this is the first time I saw that. There's no way my laceweight mohair will tolerate the frogging.
Talk about losing momentum on a project. Only 16 rows from completion, and I discover I am a complete and total __________(you fill in the blank, whatever, it can't be worse than the term floating in my brain). Might as well finish it. And gift it away, don't you think?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Nuppotism is good!

I finished my first Swallowtail shawl a few weeks ago. It was a fairly easy knit-except for the lily buds, or nupps. In the original pattern, the instructions dictate that you K1, YO, K1, YO, K1 all in one stitch. Simple enough. On the return, however, you are instructed to P5 tog when you reach that spot, and THAT is a pain in the butt. I frowned, my tongue poked out, and I looked and felt like I was learning to knit all over again. And it was a slow process.

When I started this second Swallowtail, I set out to find a way to beat the nupps, and I think I have. First, I tried working it like an I-cord, slipping it back onto the left-hand needle and reworking it twice. In theory, it should have worked, and it did, kinda sorta. The resulting element looked like a blob, and I didn't like that. The I-cord blobs are highlighted with pink.
This morning, the heavens finally opened on my feeble brain, and I got the crochet hook out. When I got to my nupp stitch, it was C1, YO, C1, YO, C1, draw yarn thru all the loops. And it works!!! Look at the yellow circle. On the return, I work nothing but purls between the garter bands. It's clean, its easy, and hey, it adds only one stitch at the nupp area. I could slip the nupp if I really cared, but I don't.

I don't plan to tink or frog the offending nupps-it won't be noticeable on a galloping horse, and the mohair is pretty forgiving. YAY! GO Swallowtail Shawl!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Treasured Holiday Memories....

Most American occaisions have a very strong food component. What's Valentine's Day without chocolate? Fourth of July without a barbeque? Back to school without an apple? Thanksgiving without turkey? Americans love their feasts. One year at my house, we had the rarest of days. Thanksgiving. Without. Leftovers.

I spent 20 years in the military. From the FIRST year I was in (when we raided the histo lab to steal a needle to sew up the turkey....ah, never mind about that one), to my very last, it was ALWAYS a cookfest. One year, at 8 a.m. I had no idea who was coming over. By 2, my house was stuffed with 18 guests. Every year, either I was toting food, or folks were coming over.

The last year I made Thanksgiving for my peeps, we'd been working crazy shifts. We had activated our reservists. We all worked like dogs. Thanksgiving was an entire day off, and it was a luxury. I was just plain lucky-the grocery across from the base was opened til midnight, which is the only humane shopping hour after November 15 in any calendar year. I asked my crew over, because that's what you do when you work with 19 year olds away from their moms for the first time. You ask all the people you can tolerate who may not have other plans.

And it was great-turkey, taters, pumpkin cake, yummy ham, sides, and five dinner guests. Nothing burned, everything was done at the right time, and there were no mortifying moments. The china looked great on the table. But it quickly turned into the Thanksgiving from hell, the one that scarred my husband for life.

Chown**, who I worked with in Germany, LOVED the pumpkin cake. I think he was very happy to have real food. Debbie and Susie from Vogelweh were there too, as were Lulu and her sister. As is my custom, I offered to make up a plate of leftovers for later in the evening, when everyone was back at their barracks. So I made snack plates for Chown, Debbie and Susie. Because they lived in the barracks, and had enjoyed it so much, I offered Chown the rest of the cake-it wasn't like my fat butt needed it. Smiles all around.

Lulu and her sister made "let's get going" noises. So I trotted over to the counter, and whipped out the Chinet and foil to make them little plates. I turned around, and was stunned to see Lulu digging in her enormous purse. She straightened up, and slowly turned around, brandishing an object that would make Miss Manners weep, and make any hostess dive for the rolling pin in self defense. She clutched a package of Hefty quart-sized zipper-lock freezer bags. The econo pack. Unopened. Her sister was rolling up her sleeves.


They fell upon the ham and turkey like cannibals on a fat guy. My DH still recalls, with a shudder, their ability to debone a turkey from twenty feet. And when they left, all the food went with them. My DH was distraught. NO turkey sandwich. No gravy and taters! Nada. I think I had enough ham to make a bean soup with. All my new Tupperware sat, pristine, virginal, ignored. Empty.

In my house, if you want to see a grown man cry, take away his leftover turkey. DH sulked, pouted, groused. There was absolutely nothing he could do. It was the Thanksgiving with no leftovers. And that man still holds a grudge.

** all names have been changed to protect the innocent, and shield the guilty.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Would you care for some more dessert?

Happy Thanksgiving to all my yarn buds. I am grateful to know you.

I should be working on my Swallowtail but......

I happened upon these in utero photos of animals. How fascinating!

ok, I'll go back to my knitting now (mumble mumble...)

Monday, November 20, 2006

Guess what?

Looky here!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

A mama meme

It's been roughly six years and three weeks since my commander pulled me into his office to tell me my mother died. We had a somewhat contentious relationship for about the last 30 years of her life. Now, as the holidays approach, I stumble upon bits that my mother taught me, like driving over random frost heaves on a highway.

Last week, I went to fancy designer purse outlet store, and bought my sister in law the thing she really wants for Christmas. We've been related for 12 years, and this is the first year I am certain I have a gift she will adore. Today, I remembered that I have to put a penny in it before I wrap it.

That penny used to confuse my children. Well into their teens, they thought I was the ULTIMATE cheapskate for giving a penny in a purse. "Geez, Bets, why bother, put some real money in there!!! You are sooo cheap to give Grandma a penny!" And I could never explain that you can't give an empty wallet or an empty purse, because if you do, the owner will always be poor. In my thinking, who wants THAT? FIND a penny.

And I remember when I learned this. I was eight or nine, and there was a J.C. Penneys outlet store near our home in Elmhurst, and my mother LOVED it, because everything was cheap, yasi, a bargain. She bought me a purse, and made sure to put a penny in it. And it's funny, that one instance made an indelible impression on me.

I'll tag all of you for a mama meme.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Hey, it's a rerun!

Recognize this? I woke up this morning, and needed a project to take into work. I grabbed the yarn at the top of the heap-Crystal Palace Kid Merino. Daryl, T, Bri and I all bought different colors of this yarn when we were at TKGA; I specifically wanted it because I saw the preview of Swallowtail Shawl, and knew that this was the right yarn for the project-and what a deal! Two balls of yarn cost me less than 13.50!!! It's unusual for me to work up a project WITH the yarn I bought for it, and in a relatively short amount of time. After all, I've only owned it for 120 days!

The Swallowtail is a relatively easy knit, except for those stupid nupps/bobbles, so I have to figure out an acceptable substitute for them-probably a simple bobble will do the trick. They were just a pain in the butt, so I WANT to conquer that challenge. I am really glad I worked it in Taj Mahal first. Now that I understand the pattern, it's effortless in this fluffy laceweight. It seems so little in this weight-hard to believe I have almost 100 stitches on the needles already! I love the color-it's the UltraBlues colorway. Unless I have a Christmas 'mergency, this little girl is staying with ME!

Friday, November 17, 2006

I was wrong!

On second thought, unless it does some HORRIBLE stretching when I block it, just knit it as it's written. Note the ubersnazzy pencil I used for a closure. I've got to crochet around the arms, add buttons and block it-less than an hour and it's DONE!

Just follow the damned pattern, ok??

A few weeks ago I was frantically bidding for four balls of Mystical Creations Wool and Silk yarn in a dutch auction on ebay. Ebay being what it is, I ended up with THREE balls of a lovely color called Green Mountain-a mix of hunter, lime and sage. (Who is the bozo that got that fourth ball, and what do they plan to make with that 170 yards, anyhow? What do they know that I don't??)

The yarn is a wonderful mix of colors, texture, and glow-but I had no idea what to do with the 510 yards I won. After some surfing, I found the Merino Stripes Curved Vest pattern at Crystal Palace yarns. I've been working on it steadily since Monday evening. I was flummoxed when I read the directions-I'm a bit challenged without a schematic-but here it is, five rows from the buttonholes.

I am absolutely certain that this is the right type of pattern for this variegated thick and thin yarn. But now that I am ALMOST done, I can see spots where I could improve this pattern a little. The upper back is knit first, and truthfully, I would like to see that with a little shaping. I should quit quibbling about it and just finish the vest-I can do it again, it's not hard, I NEED TO STOP OBSESSING ABOUT IT, right? Just finish the damned thing!

FO photo soon. This type of pattern is absolutely perfect for Mr. Joe Sangria that Elann had a month or so ago, or any stripey yarn. I am working the smallest size, and I think I'll have exactly enough yarn.

Monday, November 13, 2006

A glimpse of my weekend

Mi familia left. A good time was had by all. Everyone had fun. DBIL is a stitch. He's looking for a rich older woman....with a cough. Snarky man. All this smart-aleckedness runs in the family, so I was a moving target. Here they are taking pot-shots at 0630 this morning!
On the way home from dinner last night, my loving family picked on me so much, I decided that I was homely and didn't have good taste. Which is why I picked my DH, OBVIOUSLY..... I had DMIL laughing so hard I was yelling "Pull over, she's gonna wet her pants."

She had a good time helping me put together Christmas trinkets for the store. And laughed her head off when I told her she coulda stopped at three kids and skipped her youngest pride and joy all together, because he's so grouchy!

My DH told me I looked lovely. Guess I should take that last one back!!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

That LAZY daughter-in-law!

Friday, I went out on the search for holiday giftware. Fa-freaking-la. Good thing I didn't wait til the weekend, because I still ended up driving 25 mph on the interstate. Holy moley. It was 90 degrees, and after a whole afternoon, I only found a few things.

While I was out killing brain cells, my BIL and MIL showed up. We expected them, but my house is SUCH a disaster, and it's not like I ever get a day off to clean. I get one day off a week to do EVERYTHING, the rest of my days are 12 hours long, or longer. DH was cool though, so yesterday morning, I took my DMIL down to the zenny beauty institute, where she got a manicure from an indeterminate person named Lorenzo, and I got a haircut.

Since my FIL's death two years ago, Mom has changed. Losing her mate of 50 years left her bobbing in the sea, untethered. I like to take her out to play in every way I can dream up, and DH appreciates it. She had a good time getting her "claws" (her term) done, and a better time giggling about Lorenzo, who had really messy waist-length light brown dreads. After she admired my (really great for 15.oo) haircut we stopped off for hibiscus mint tea, got all zenned up, adjusted our karmas, and went home.

Everyone left me at the shop and went out to lunch. (Sigh.) And I was BUSY. In walked DD#1, who I hadn't seen for over a year. I had her call her fazzah, and they all flocked back to the store to fuss over her. After the obligatory social chatter, she took off, DH and DBIL went off to take naps, and Mom and I assembled cute little gift mug sets to put out. I rechristened her "the Serene Empress" because she wanted a new job title. We commiserated over her lazy DIL, who hasn't sent her a package in MONTHS, and can't knit fast enough to actually finish her vest! Miserable thing!

Mostly tho, I made her laugh. BTW, Swallowtail is going home with her. If she finds the right giftee, that's good. If it stays with her, that's good too.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Veteran's Day in America-

I decided last night that Veterans ought to get gifts on Veteran's Day. Mom gets gifts on Mother's Day, Dad gets gifts on Father's Day, and look at Valentine's Day, Easter, and Halloween. We spend millions. The men and women who sign up to take orders every day deserve a cup of coffee. At the very least.

Since the elections, DH and I discussed the geo-political ramifications of the changing of the guard. While it is important to get out of Iraq soon, it is important that we are percieved "the winners" when we exit. The Middle Eastern culture will use Al Jazeera to leverage its agenda, not to mention bombs loaded into cars, airplanes, and boats. Canada is the only country on the terror "favorites list" that hasn't been hit; England, Spain, us....when can it stop? How can it stop? Because of the Middle East's cultural history, I wonder if leaving the region will exempt us from further terrorism, and I know it my heart it will not. If we leave appearing strong, someone will be tempted to pester "the evil Empire" to get even; if we leave appearing weak, we are a vessel for their agendas.

The loss of life in the war is announced, reported, and tallied by the media every day. And it's funny how biased that reporting really is. We lose more Americans to DUIs than we lose to military actions. Think about that for a sec, okay?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Swallowtail Shots

It's done! Presenting the Swallowtail Shawl from IWK Fall 2006, designed by Evelyn Clark. I used almost 3 balls Le Fibre Nobili Taj Mahal (merino, silk, cashmere, 170 m to 50 grams) on size 4mm needles.

This is HUGE. I could easily use it as a sarong or a full size shawl, because the top edge is well over 6 feet, and the center edge is almost 3 feet. It's not even properly blocked!!!!

The lower picture shows the border, just to give you an idea of the scale of things, and to show those evil nepps. Instead of a P5 tog, I used a nepp-buster. On the previous row, at the increase point of K1, YO, K1, YO, K1, I did an extra wrap at the first YO. This gave me enough slack to pull that P5 off. Sorry-A Nepp is that little bobble.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

My Dean of Honor and other stuff

I heard from my best brother this week. He texted me twice from some Hong Kong bar's disco night, crabbing and complaining. I think it's his version of drunk dialing. I made fun of him, because he once won a company Christmas talent show acting in a Village People skit.

Then he called me Saturday morning. He's doing VERY well, and has saved a TON of money living there, but stuff Stateside worries him, like how the dog gets pissed off when he drops in to visit. He's worried about his stateside housemate's health problems, and a second one who's about to get evicted, because the other housemates won't put up with certain crap.

He's my favorite, clear and simple. We didn't have an easy time growing up. I left as soon as possible. He stayed, and grew into an amazing guy. I need to visit, just because I think we understand each other on such a visceral level. He was my Dean of honor when DH and I married.

I happened to meet my intended Swallowtail recipient last week. I have serious doubts about her EVER wearing a shawl, heck, even appreciating a shawl, so I went out and bought a pretty Tyler candle for her instead. Swallowtail is finished, and waiting to be hard blocked, and then I'll take a picture. I think it might go to Betty, who is an ex-colleague, but I am not certain.

And now, I plan to settle in with some SWS and have a little science project---MIL and BIL show up this week, and I need to have something finished on Sunday.