Friday, March 30, 2007

Wren Along 2007

Here she is! The Berroco Wren button, for those who care to steal the button. We'll begin the KAL for Berroco's Wren on April 1!
I have lovely, yummy Elann Highland Silk in Calypso Green waiting in the wings (bad bird joke) for my sweater. Please speak up if you'll be joining us! I'd love to link your blog.
And if you can't make the April 1 deadline, don't sweat it. The more the merrier!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Is it colorful, or does it scream "I'm a KNITTER"??

I read that on a blog today, and thought "Damn, she's right!"

I LOVE multi-colored yarns. I am in love with the concept of making one garment printed in the colors I want, not some colorist at some design house, who farms it out to 12 year olds in another country. But there are pitfalls to multi-colored yarns. One of the most notable is the color stack. I know I blogged about it a few days ago, but here it is, dissected.

1. Cast on with 2.5 mm needles. Everything's peachy.
2. Changed to 4 mm needles, and the colors start to stack and snake.
3. Where I thought "I'll just alternate balls of yarn." You can still see the snake, but it's broken up a bit.
4. Where I said screw it, and went back to a smaller needle size. Either I am gonna work alternating balls of yarn, or work using smaller needles. Smaller needles are simpler. I learned the small needle trick from Alice Trueman. There is still a little color stacking, but it's WAY more subdued and fractured, and I can live with that.
If it gives you fits, and snakes and spits, try going down a few needle sizes.
Note to Vamanta: I am quoting Euro sizing because I am using Inoxes, and they are stamped with Euro sizes.
Note to Barbara and Marie-yes, it will change the tension. In a multicolor like this, it is not as glaringly obvious as it would be in a solid. This is meant to be a close fitting garment, and it has ribbing, so I am not worried.

Donation, Soulumination, and I am a big chicken!

I recently joined a local civic organization. One of the group's pet projects is Relay for Life, a cancer fund-raiser, which will take place next month. The event liason mentioned that they needed items for a silent auction. Hmmmmm. I wondered if I could knit something to add to the silent auction??? I am a such a chicken. I am not sure that anyone would want to PAY for my knitted items. I kicked the idea around in my mind a little, because it's scary.

This morning, Austermann Pharao was on sale at Elann. My friend Shui Kuen (designer of several of Elann's patterns) just finished a Swallowtail in Pharao. I wonder what it would look like to knit Pharao up using small beads in place of the blasted nupps. I ordered a little dark green, and some ballet pink, just two shawlettes worth.

Shortly after that, I found Lynette Huffman Johnson's photos of my friends Camari and Brian. Lynette has a job that is both beautiful and terrifying; as the founder of Soulumination, she takes photos of terminally ill children. I've known Camari and Brian since 1986, and have lost and regained contact several times during the past 21 years. Lynette took some wonderful pictures of Camari.

This helped me make up my mind. If my friend can struggle through cancer TWICE, the least I can do is knit up 600 measly yards of cotton, don't you think?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Size matters!

Why yes, it really does. Seashell Sonata is a good example!

Here's Bailey's top. I made it for her last year. I knit it in the round with size 4mm needles. It was made from 2 balls of yarn (she was 6; I didn't really need to use a lot) and I only had to engineer the yarn a little bit at the one join.

This weekend, I started Soleil for DD #1. I was sure she'd LOVE the mix of khaki and blue. I got out my 2.5mms, and cast on. And I ended up with a lovely blend, and not a whole lot of splotchy-poo. Well, I screwed up my Soleil cast-on and twisted it. I discovered this about 1 1/2" in. Much swearing. I changed my mind and picked up Chicknits Ribby Tank. It's Soleil, with ribs. Frankly, I am in no shape to seriously figure out the math and all that mess. This eyepatch makes me stupid. (Ok, maybe it just reveals the stupidity....)

I cast on Ribby. I worked my obligatory bottom rib with 2.5s, then I switched sizes to 4mm very obediently when Bonnie said to switch. Pssht. Seashell started in with her old tricks. No prob, I thought, I'll just alternate balls of yarn every other round. So I labored up another 4".

This morning, I took a good look at what I was doing and thought !@#$?? Man, I sure am working hard for no good reason! So I switched BACK to the 2.5mms. It looks better, and it's less work. I am not gonna frog it. I am not going to do squat except pick the side that swirls better for the front. I am not going to call this "I screwed up"; this is called waist shaping.

That's my story and I am sticking to it.

Monday, March 26, 2007


I ordered new pants for DH the other day. He fussed a little bit....he understands that he needs a larger waist size. The change mysteriously sucked up his inseam size. When we got married, he wore a 32X36; suddenly, I order 36X32 for him.

I've noticed this same phenomena in bra shopping. In my 20s and 30s, I looked for a small but mighty size...little band, respectable cup. The bra itself didn't really matter, because I wore BDUs all the time. When I hit my 40s and retired, DD#1 took a manager's position with Victoria's Secret. Suddenly, I had to make the breasticles look presentable under business attire, and I had to support DD's career choices. Those bras were uncomfortable, and the girls never looked all that good!

I am up 3 dress sizes from the size I was 20 years ago, but I just didn't think to adjust my bra size accordingly. I adjusted it, but not properly. Apparently, 85% of us wear the wrong size. One of my friends had her own Oprah-style bra intervention last summer, and said she was really glad she'd done it.

I noticed that Sierra Trading Post had Oprah's Bra on sale at half off regular retail, so I finally got out the tape measure, and had my own little intervention. (You know that I am a cheapskate, don't look surprised that I waited til the bra was on sale! Regular retail is a lot of yarn money.)

Gasp. I want to run away. (We all know that a 32C is roughly similar to a 34B, cup-wise. Using the same formula, my 3 extra dress sizes have me wondering if they make plus-sized AAAs!) Sob. I don't feel skinnier, I don't feel sexier. I have a deflated ego, but the girls are organized, and my bra is a heck of a lot more comfortable!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

What a beautiful color...!

This is lovely! I made DD a Lilac Sachet Sonata Print Soleil top last year, and she liked it. She wanted it a little bit longer, but other than that, she liked the fit, the color, the neckline .... everything. I am duplicating it in Seashell Sonata. This colorway is for Springs (because of that warm carmel color) and Summers (look at that lovely slate blue) , but that doesn't mean I can't appreciate it. It's the kind of colorway you can wear with a lot of things. I think it would make great baby gear.

I stumbled a little starting Soleil. For a few minutes, the yarn told me it wanted to be a Lace-up Tank so I swatched it. After finishing Lady E, I wasn't really keen on starting another modular project. To my relief, my single square did not "Wow" me. (Notice I only did one square!!)

It's funny how slow I knit with an eye patch. Peculiar, not ha-ha.

Friday, March 23, 2007

I think I've figured it out.....

I have one more MRI at noon today. In the meantime, I think I've figured this out. Despite all my protestations, I think this really IS a case of bad sinuses. I know I'm not snotty, I know I can smell, I know I am not congested. And THAT'S the problem. Before Christmas, I was SICK. Sicker than I've been in years. Cough-cough, choke-choke sick. But I never spit anything up. No slimey chunks, no nothing. Mark got me a chest expectorant that I used for a little while, until I figured out that products that expel mucous worked hell on my sensitive stomach.

When I started getting headaches in January, I TOOK decongestants. And February too. But in March, my sinuses said to hell with this, and started to swell, hence the numbness. The swelling really amped up when I tried the netti pot with lukewarm water. THAT'S when I had my aha moment. All the irritation is pressing against my facial nerves, and THAT is affecting my vision.

So I have to figure out how to clear this out...I think I'll try irrigating with cool salt solution, taking the damned expectorant, and hitting it hard this weekend. I'm worried that if I don't do this quickly, I will permanently impair my eyesight.

On the knitting front, I just fell down HARD and bought three sweaters worth of Plymouth Bella . It's on sale, it's large gauge cotton/acrylic, it comes in multicolors, and it's 1.99. That's pretty hard for me to ignore. I've never bought anything from this company, so I hope they are decent with shipping and all. I bought Earth, Watercolor Earth, Black and Tawny Fawn to throw all together in a JOMR top...good for black pants and khaki shorts. I bought Lavendar and Lace because I am a sucker for blue/grey my closet, that means it's neutral. And I bought Art Deco because it's pretty, dammit.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


So guess what DH has been calling me?

The good news-no aneurysm, no tumor. The bad news....I went to the opthamologist today, and he basically said "WTF??" This seems to be inconsistent with everything he's used to seeing.

I had an MRI done yesterday. They looked at my brain, and didn't find a damned thing. (HAR DEE HAR) So I have to go back and get another done, with and without contrast media, so he can look at the orbit.

Both Chris and Enid suggested I look into a netti pot, in case it really did have something to do with my sinuses. So I googled THIS and just about crapped. Watching the video is like watching a train just gotta. And I said "EWWWWW" the whole time it played. But what the heck, how's it gonna hurt? So I found my turkey baster and went to town. Can't get it to go out my other nostril...I'll bet she has a stunt nose...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I can barely knit

If you've been popping in for a few weeks now, you've noticed one thing....headache. Me. I barely know where the Motrin lives at my house. The Monday before my dad died, I went to the dentist. She checked, was pretty sure it was not my gums, possibly my sinuses, and gave me some Amoxycillin. 500mg horse pills.

The day after I got back from my dad's funeral, my face went numb. Yesterday afternoon, I had a little trouble with my binocular vision. This morning, any hope of my eyes working together was totally shot. I walked into the shop, got a quick once-over from my local eye doctor, and Mark and I locked the door and went to the ER.

My DH was good for ER comedy. Cat scan? "We don't have a cat!" Eye patch? "If you buy two, you'll look like Madonna." Then he looked at me and said "Arrggh!"
Anyhow, the prognosis? Sinusitis. I doubt it. The cure? 250mg Amoxycillin. I REALLY doubt that. In the meantime, I gotta go fix up my Johnny Depp look.
I've been working on Baby Surprise for Enid. She saw it today. That's about all I can manage.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Trouble on the knit horizon

I am trying to design a certain something to go with a certain yarn. I checked my numbers and knit. It's very pretty...and very big. What ordinarily WORKS in worsted weight wool does not work in this particular yarn. I think that wool's inherent body and snap are entirely I have to compensate and make this much smaller than I would normally.

I ran across this little blurb "...the charming Rat acquires a large number of acquaintances, but only a select few ever make it to the Rat's inner circle. For them, he will do almost anything. For everyone else, it's just business." HAHAHA! I think it's very apt.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

In which Betsy meets the giant TSA monster...

Once upon a time there was a little girl whose parents died. As might be expected, she was feeling a little stressed, sad, and distracted two days after her father died. She picked up a small bag containing coins (including the first silver dollar her father ever earned) and her mother's wedding ring, and turned to her carry-on bag. She was packing to go back to her house.

Fast-forward 36 hours. She unpacked her carry-on, which she later decided to tuck into a box because it would be more streamlined at the airport. Her small bag was nowhere to be found. Horrors! Every parental scolding she ever heard came stampeding back into her head. She was crushed, mortified and just plain felt like hell.

She contacted the TSA, the behemouth agency brought about by 9-11. The TSA agent swore that people who open bags MUST leave a note. And that she should take it up with the airline, because TSA wasn't responsible.

She called the airline baggage service. She talked to a person who took down her flight info, who went to the ramp lost and found, who filed a claim for her.

While she was on the phone, someone called on the other line. Since she actually had a real body who was attempting to help her, she stayed with the current call.

After ending her call, she checked her messages, and it was her niece, who had found the bag UNDER some laundry baskets.

Boys and girls, there are a few morals to this story-

1) Betsy can't aim for shit. No surprise it didn't make it into her luggage. She doesn't play soft-ball, darts, pool or golf, and is no longer responsible for an M-16, so the free world is safe.

2) I honestly thought my best bets on recovering these items were to a) work fast, b) check out Craiglist and ebay, and c) try to get to people on a personal level. I was not interested in being reimbursed by a claim, I wanted my stuff. All the women I spoke to on the phone did their best to help me. A teary woman calling to say she lost her mother's engagement ring strikes a chord.

3) I have little faith in the statement that the TSA is REQUIRED to leave a note if they access your luggage. On a good day, an honest person can be distracted, on a bad day, a thief won't leave a note.

4) Pay attention to this when you pack your luggage. Pay attention to this when you pack your luggage. Pay attention to this when you pack your luggage.

5) My friends offered to say prayers to Saint Anthony, Baby Jesus, and the Guy Upstairs. I have good friends.
Isn't Mom a cutie in that picture?? Those shoes are the business! In case you wonder, there's a part of my mom that I've already shown you. I have her hands.

Listening to: Guess Who's Share the Land, and marveling over Burton Cummings' voice.

Blue Day

This is what I read last week. Interesting stuff. It makes me wonder how many people have I've met with forms of autism?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Project critique

This is what I was going for, and this is what I got. Not great, but not bad, either. I think office clamps might be in order.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Shibori and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

While I was going thru my mother's things, I found some silk scarves from the late 50s and early 60s. They were very beautiful, but simple, examples of Shibori. As you may know from various articles in IWK, Shibori is the precursor to tye-dyeing. Tiny knots, pebbles, and little beans are used to create resist patterns.

I also found a picture of my nieces in front of the giraffe habitat at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It dawned on me that I could use Shibori techniques to replicate animal skins. I got out my trusty Bond, and whizzed thru a skein of Paton's Merino. I tied it up. I used wine corks, clear ouchless ponytail holders, a few bottle caps...every plastic gizmo I could muster from the junk drawer.
Then, I mixed about 3/4 cup white vinegar, almost an entire jar of Wilton's food colors and a cup of water. And I threw my meager bundle in. And nuked. And nuked. And nuked. Then I snipped.
The ensuing bag looked something like this...not QUITE Giraffe-like, more Pythony. So I embroidered a few strands nilly-willy and....

I have to felt the bejezus out of it, and put in a drawstring.

What's THAT?????

Merino and RHSS. Stuff from the junk drawer. Wonder what I'm up to NOW? Stay tuned for more madness.

I'm back

It was a rough week. It was nice to see packages from Jean F. and Suzann. I will write them privately, but I HAVE to show this. As you know, I gave up my Lady E to my next door neighbor two weeks ago. I'll admit there were a few times this week I longed for her, but here is living proof that "what goes around comes around."

It was wonderful to come home and find a package containing THIS lovely shawl from Jean and Dan, to thank me for sending packages during Dan's deployment. OMG! It's silk and pashmina, and it's red and black, and it is EXACTLY my style of pseudo paisleyishness! Wow!

My dad's official cause of death was diabetes mellietas, with a side of cardiac infarction. The stinker bought a big ol' Hershey bar on the way home from the hospital last Thursday night.
I'll be writing more later, but want to leave you with one thought-if your parent EVER asks for a shredder (Father's Day, Christmas, whatever) spend fifty more dollars than you planned. Trust me, you will be glad you did.

Friday, March 02, 2007

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program....

I'll be out of pocket for a few days. I have to go to Phoenix and stand really really straight when they play taps.

As a PS at 10:30 at night, after a long day... my little brother told me that several years ago, my father predicted his death as March 3, 2007. I didn't know my father had a shine.

It looks much cuter on Margaux!

YAY! My scarf pattern "Linked" is available on Elann! I gotta say, it looks much cuter on Margaux than it does me. I REALLY liked this combination of yarns...the Elann Pamir is deep, dark, dense and fuzzy, and the chainette Champagne just leaps right off and gleams! I really liked the black with the gold, but when I added the silver, holy smokes. It looked hot!

I must say, I was really relieved when I saw the pictures....I have really short arms, and I was afraid it would be too short for Margaux. What a relief that it was ok on her wingspan.