my excuse to talk about knitting, cats and life in general

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Olympian Success and Stitches

Well, it certainly took up most of my time, didn't it? I dropped off the face of blogdom during the Olympics, more importantly during the Knitting Olympics. I'd like to say that all my time was taken up in knitting, but of course that isn't true. I did knit *a lot* to finish my one fair isle mitten. I needed the pressure of the Olympics to go beyond my comfort level and actually undertake the fair isle, then to do the thumb. The mitten would probably be a UFO now if it hadn't been for that. I found myself very reluctant to attempt anything new. I wouldn't have guessed that about myself, but so it was.

In addition to the "pressure" of the Olympics, there was Stitches West in Santa Clara, CA. Luckily, I'm close enough to drive there, but not close enough to "commute" from home. That necessitated staying down there for 2 nights. Peg and I shared a hotel room and we were really lucky. We looked in the AAA guide and on line for a cheap hotel, but one that was clean, safe, and close to the Convention Center. We chose Quality Inn Sunnyvale, and it was really nice. A decent sized room with 2 queen beds, a fridge and a microwave, and only 1.25 miles away. They have the usual breakfast in the lobby - cold cereal, milk, juice, bagels, muffins, you know the drill - but in addition, they have a WAFFLE IRON and waffle batter so you can make yourself a fresh waffle. And they have fruit and whipped cream, to boot. Pretty neat. I've never heard of a hotel with that! Next year, we don't have to look around for a place to stay. And it was $80 a night for both of us. Not bad, at all. And to top it off even more, I was given a cup of freshly made Indian chai by the Indian manager; it was fabulous chai, about the best I've ever had. Yum.

Stitches was fabulous, as it always is. We went to the Market on Thursday evening when it's open to students only. It was even bigger than last year, and they set it up with wider aisles. Not so much crowding. I had all day Friday to spend in the Market and knitting on my mitten. Peg had 2 classes. There were a bunch of folks that I know. The downer was that my leg was giving me trouble, again. Seems like sciatica has returned, dammit. I brought a folding 3-legged stool and used it often. I couldn't make it down an aisle without having to stop and rest a little. Mumble mumble drat. So I made very slow progress through the Market.

On Saturday, I took a class on Bohus Stickning. I've been in love with Bohus for a long time. It started with a Bohus sweater that I bought at a rummage sale years ago. I can't even remember where I bought it, how much I paid (knowing me, very little) or even WHY I bought it. I guess something about it called out to me. It's a sorry looking thing, pre-felted and pre-chewed by moths, but it's still amazing. Gradually, I learned about Bohus and now I realize I have a real treasure. I have "Poems of Color", the book about Bohus, and the Threads article about Bohus. But now, I'm in the throes of passion. I loved the class. Susanna Hansson is a great teacher and she has a fine collection of Bohus sweaters. Of the 32 people in the class (including a 70something man) about half knew about Bohus and the others signed up because of the colorwork, or the fine gauge, or the ethnic designs (or so they thought). Little did they know what they were getting into.

More next time. There's lots to come. Maybe I'll even figure out how to post pictures and get that Knitting Olympic gold medal onto the site! If anyone can help me with that, I'm never too proud to receive help.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Going for a Medal

I had a PT appointment last Friday that ended at 2pm. As soon as it was done, I sat down in the waiting area and cast on the Rainbow Mittens, modified version. I'm doing the fair isle part with black as the primary color, changing the rainbow colors in stripes. I'm on the last color stripe of the cuffs, which are purl bands of the rainbow colors by themselves. Since the black yarn I ordered over a week ago hasn't arrived, I'll go on and cast on the second cuff. Guess I'll send an email to see what happened to the yarn. The worst case scenario is to pick up a skein at Stitches this weekend.

Stitches!! Yay!! I should start packing, since I'm picking Peg up around noon on Thursday and we drive down to Sunnyvale. We're staying in a hotel just a mile from the convention center. Thursday night is the time the Market is open just for students, the only time you can see where you're going. Other times, there are so many people it's like the rush hour on the IRT.

I'm really looking forward to my Bohus class. I've been knitting a swatch from the mitten kit. The yarn is almost as fine as lace weight. They recommend 2mm and 2.5mm needles; that's US0 and between US1 and 2. Of course I started with 2mm. My gauge is around 9.25 st/in. I'm switching to the 2.5mm and I'll see what that does. It seemed a bit too tight on the 2mms. Once I finish the mittens and Sabetta's sweater and, now that I remember, Kent's vest, I want to start on one of the kits.

I find I'm not as into the mittens as I thought. I'm getting distracted by other things and it slows me down. Sabetta has been sick, and, as usual, she wants comforting by her parents. Since there are 3000 miles between us, this gets done by telephone. I'm glad she calls us, but I want to be able to do more than just talk on the phone.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Torch Approaches the Stadium

It's KO day - Knitting Olympics. We're supposed to wait until 2pm local time to cast on, so I have about 3 hrs and 45 min to wait. I'm nearly ready, too. Actually, I'm ready enough to cast on, but I still could rip out the swatch and get all the colors ready to knit.

I had such trouble getting gauge, but finally I washed the gauge strip and, hey presto, I got gauge. The swatch bloomed sideways! A fair amount, too. So I have 2 sets of US7 dpns and I'm ready. I'm still waiting for the extra black to show up, but I have 2 cuffs I can do before I'll need that. I used the "navy" (read, medium blue) and orange for the swatch and it looked awful together. I had been wondering about using "navy" with all the other colors in a rainbow mitten, and I was right, at least in my opinion. So I made a quick order to Shelridge and they're sending a skein of black. That will be better, I hope.

I also got my Bohus kits on Wednesday!!! I'm so excited about that! It only took 6 days to get here from Sweden. Boy, does that put the USPS in a bad light. It can take that long for a letter to get from California to Oregon. As I knew, the kits are in Swedish. Wonderful Ullis has already translated the hat pattern for me. I emailed the directions to her and she had the translation done by the next morning! Wow!! It was a real experience typing Swedish with all the diacritical marks (at least, I think that's what they're called), the å, the ö and ä and such. I'm no great typist, but that can really slow you down a lot!

I have all the little hanks of yarn from the 2 Bohus kits wound up into balls. I actually did it by hand. I felt I needed to treat the yarn with deference. It has been decades since I wound yarn by hand, probably back to childhood. There's enough of the light grey background for the mittens so I can swatch and not feel too nervous. They suggest size 2mm - US0 and size 2.5mm - no US equivalent. Luckily, in my "I have to have all needle sizes" craziness, I have size 2.5mm in dpns and in at least 2 vintage, metal-cable circulars! Of course, I have the US0 in dpn and circular. Thank God, I've made socks. I'm accustomed to tiny needles and working in the round. I've started a swatch in the light grey and size 0 and the stitches are tiny! It's slow going and I'm glad that I changed to plan B - the Rainbow Mittens. I have a decent chance of finishing at least one and maybe even both. The Bohus? I'd be gibbering, weeping in frustration and about 2" above the cuff when they douse the torch.

So the countdown begins. I have an appointment with my physical therapist at 1pm, so I'll be sitting in her waiting room, casting on, as soon as the appointment is done. I've laid in stocks of the required Olympic drugs: tea for caffeine, ale for alcohol, and chocolate for, well, chocolate. I'm ready to knit. Wish me luck. 10, 9, 8, 7 ...

Monday, February 06, 2006

On the (narrow) Gauge

As I've said, I've been having a tough time getting the right gauge for the Rainbow Mittens that are my Knitting Olympics project. A couple of days ago, I just went back to basics. What a concept! What took me so long? I did a gauge strip, changing needle sizes, then went on to do the fair isle pattern in different sizes, too. I wasn't happy when I was done, since nothing gave me the right gauge. Sigh. Then I washed it and let it dry. Wonder of wonders, the gauge changed radically. It relaxed sideways. I wasn't expecting that, much less the fact that I now have gauge, or close enough to go on with. I could go ahead and make a really big gauge swatch and measure it carefully, but this is a pattern for mittens, not a fitted, fully-fashioned top. We're good to go.

I did the swatch/strip in the "navy" that came with the kit. It's really a dusky medium/dark-ish blue, not like any navy that I've seen. For the contrasting color, I grabbed the orange. Once I was done, I decided that the color combination was so icky that I had to change it. I immediately went on line to the Shelridge Farm website and ordered a skein of black for the fair isle section. It's on its way as quickly as possible (within financial reason) and I hope to have it by Friday. I'm not worried, though, because I have the cuffs to do first, and I can do both cuffs, if needed, before I'll really need the black.

The swatch was a learning experience in another way. I'm trying to learn how to knit holding the yarn in my right hand. It's rather funny, since that's how I learned mumblemumble years ago. However, I never learned how to hold the yarn the "right" way; I just pinched it in my fingers. Trying to do fair isle knitting with yarn in both hands is different. I've tried and it works in an awkward way, but I might as well learn a proper hold now. As a result, the stitches from my left hand flow freely and the stitches from my right stagger along as if drunk. Mind you, they look decent, but the process is so clumsy as to be laughable. I have nowhere to go but up, so I think it will all work out.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

That Game

It's a beautiful, windy day. I wish we had a deck, because I'd be out on it right now. Cool but pleasant and warm enough in the sun. Remember, this is by Bay Area standards; most other parts of the country would be happy for our "cool" temperatures. And, no, I haven't forgotten what other people have to suffer in early February. But in this twisted part of the world, the magnolias are almost gone, paperwhite narcissus bloomed in December, daffodils are just starting in my yard, plum trees are beginning to bloom on the streets. Crazy. After over 35 years in this place, you'd think I'd have adjusted, but you'd be wrong. I always spend January and February feeling like someone dropped me on my head. I'm all ready to enjoy (yes, that's what I said) the winter and let the garden be dormant. There is no "dormant" in the Bay Area. In fact, this is the time of year, the rainy season, when the weeds *really* get going and can strangle you overnight, if you're not careful.

It's also That Sunday, when most of the country is glued to the tube for That Game. Argghhh. Even when I did follow sports, "That" wasn't included and it still isn't. It's a little better than boxing, but that's damning it with the faintest praise. Don't like it. Don't want to. Want peace and quiet. But Kent enjoys it, so he'll be watching. Thank God, he doesn't stay glued to the tube every weekend watching sports.

As my friends have heard, I gave up sports when the Bums left Brooklyn. They broke the hearts of their fans, and we've never recovered. At least, I haven't. We used to go to Ebbetts Field and watch them. Yes, I'm *that* old, but not by much. I've phrased this topic so that you'll have to be a deep-dyed fan to know which team and what sport I'm talking about. Odd, isn't it. Oh, well. I'm odd all around.

Another odd thing is that I've actually gone and seen some games in recent years and I've sort of enjoyed them. Can it be that I have a lingering fondness for it? Probably so. And there are other sports that I actually do enjoy, like crew and curling. My fondness for crew is obvious. It's a good sport, lots of excitement, teamwork is everything, and all those finely conditioned athletes don't hurt. Sabetta used to be a coxswain for the local club, on the guys' team. so we'd go to regattas and cheer. Now we go and cheer and she hasn't been in a shell since senior year in high school. And she wonders why we go. Because we LIKE it.

Curling is another thing. I remember watching curling on TV when I was a kid, maybe it was an Olympic match. I'm generally fond of games like that. For several summers as a child, we hung out at the Clubhouse in Noyac. The Clubhouse was a place where kids in the area could come and play sports, do craft projects and hang out in a safe place. It was open from 8 or 9am to 1pm. Then we'd all go home, eat lunch, wait the obligatory hour and meet at the beach on Noyac Bay. We'd swim and go home at the end of the day. Not a bad way to spend each summer weekday, is it? Well, one of the things they had was shuffleboard, both outdoor and indoor. We'd play indoor shuffleboard a lot on rainy days and I got pretty good. I got good enough that I would consistantly win bets made on games in later years, once I realized that the only place you can find indoor shuffleboard is in BARS. What a shock *that* was! I actually had no idea at the time. (I was pretty naive as a kid.)

Curling is basically shuffleboard on ice, with brooms and a few other twists. I can so relate. I'd like to give it a try. But the chance of finding a curling venue anywhere in California is laughable. It's hard enough to find an ice rink, much less a place with curling! (I don't know what they call a place where they curl. Do you? Let me know, 'k?) Now, I need to find a place to hide from the TV.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Blogworks redux

Thanks to help from Dharia of ScienceKnits, the look of the blog has improved. I'm still stumbling in the dark. Thank God, Blogger doesn't allow you to completely screw up without an "undo" possibility, because I'd managed to completely lose the blog, more than once. Ah, the magic "Undo Edits" button. I'd be silent if not for that.

I'm off to phone Lucy Neatby to see what I'm doing wrong with the Rainbow Mittens. After all, the Knitting Olympics start in only one (1!!) week and I still don't have gauge. It's enough to make a grown woman weep in frustration.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


Well, folks, I feel really proud of myself, but in a "how did I *do* that" kind of way. Being a "retired" geologist, I thought it would be cool to joint the Science Knits ring. Since I'm almost totally clueless in the world of blogs, HTML and the like, I just charged ahead. Heck, I don't even know how to post pictures yet, so what's holding me back? I went to the Science Knits join-up page and, among other things, I'm supposed to insert a particular piece of code into my blog. WHAT???? Oh, Lord, now what do I do??

Clearly I'm just going to charge ahead blindly and hope not to run into a ditch. So I poked around and found where the HTML (I think) code is. All you super in-the-know folks out there are probably laughing yourselves silly about now. But it's terra incognita for me. I poked around further and decided I'd found where to insert the code. Tried it. No go. I kept at it. Nothing like stubborn AND ignorant to charge on disregarding all warnings. I found another likely spot. Hey, PRESTO!!! By Jove, I think I got it! Well, almost. You can see the Knitting Scientist thingy on the left, but it doesn't look like the "real" one. THAT one has an image of the DNA scarf as background. Ooops. Still, it's not bad for not knowing what the h*ll I was doing. Anyone out there who can help me, I'm not too proud to accept assistance. Better than letting me blow up the whole web, isn't it?