Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Five Years

Five years ago, after a lengthy 3-day engagement, Brian and I got married. Somehow in that 3 days he managed to pull together a justice of the peace, a photographer and a couple of relatives. We were married in his back yard with a total 6 people attending. Here's our wedding picture:

I slaved for hours over my hair.

Brian has declared this the Zucchini Anniversary:

Happy 5th Anniversary, Sweetie - I love you.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Just Call Me Magpie

I am that distracted by and attracted to The Shiny. Last weekend, Jasmin gave me a lovely gift of this:

Oooh! Shiny! This is Microfiber Ribbon from Tess' Designer Yarns. I'm usually not big on ribbon - or synthetics but damn this is fine stuff! While I was making good headway again with Ariann,

I just had to cast on the shiny stuff! I'm making the Traveling Cable Top (cursor down 1/3 - 1/2 the page to see it). Someone on Ravelry used the description 'knitting with water' and that's about right on the money. You can barely feel it flowing through your fingers. The color is probably most accurate in the shot of the skein - it's a gorgeous, coppery brown - but I love how the cables pop.

I haven't abandoned Ariann by any means - but this is a very nice distraction. It's a smaller, lighter project which can come in handy, and as it's a sleeveless top, it should provide nearly instant gratification.

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch...

The garden continues to produce. These are some funky blonde heirloom cucumbers that have started taking over:

And here are a couple of dinners:

Parting Shot

Miguel in a stand-off with a straw.

My cat is weird.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Good Thing I'm All About The Process

Remember this?

Ariann from Chicknits

Well, now it looks like this:

I was almost done! I'd finished 2 out of 3 stages of the raglan decreases and had started trying it on for size when I discovered something wrong with the sleeves. Both of them. I won't go into it just because it's not that exciting but it was something that would have bothered me if I'd kept it as is. And if it had bugged me, I'd probably not have worn the sweater very much. Which would just be silly. In the meantime, there were some smaller issues with the body that while not perfect, I could live with them. But since I was going to frog the shoulders and sleeves, well what the hell, might as well re-do the whole thing. Because even though it fit correctly, I decided I want it to be a little more of a jacket than a sweater, which means I need more ease.

So out came the ball winder, and 15 minutes later, Ariann was turned back into a pile of balls (back atcha, Donna).

I'm kind of surprised with myself; I'm not upset about it or discouraged. I think I would be if I'd finished it and tried to live with the things I didn't like. But I'm fine. I'm going to cast on again tonight, and make something I'll be proud to wear instead.

Good grief, am I actually acting mature?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Flashing It

Do you ever feel a tiny twinge of stash regret? You know, when something new and fab arrives at your LYS? Everyone passes it around, oohing at the softness or aahing at the new colorway, and in your head you try to match that gorgeous new yarn up with a pattern you'd like to make? Because dang that stuff is soft and the color is perfect. But. But you don't buy it for one reason or another. Maybe money's tight, or you've vowed not to buy anything for an ungodly length of time, or you 'have an agreement', or as I realized recently, it's the same perfect color that makes up most of my stash already and I really don't need a 6th sweater in that exact shade of coppery brown or olive green, even if the fiber's different. Sigh. Wouldn't it be fun to just buy it if you feel like it, without having to justify it?

Then I come home and check out that which I already have and realize that if I bought something every time I fell in love with it, not only would we need to build an addition to accommodate it, but really the sheer quantity would be overwhelming. I've already got a very nice (and sizable) collection.

I buy the majority of my fiber with birthday or Christmas money, and a lot of it at Stitches. Two of the three are done for this year, so I'll be knitting and spinning from stash for a while. To reacquaint myself with what I already have and to choose my next project from it, I'm embarking on a Tour de Stash. I thought you might want to come along.

I keep all of my yarn in an armoire; it stays pretty organized, it's easier to keep clean and it's quickly evident if I'm accumulating too much. Top shelf - 100% wool for felting and charity knitting, project leftovers, and in the middle, my hand-spun.

Second shelf - sock yarn on the left, laceweight and single-skeins on the right. To the far left, and outside the picture is my lone skein of Socks that Rock in Little Bunny Foo-Foo. I can't believe it's been in my stash since Stitches West '07 and I haven't used it yet.

Third shelf down is yarn for sweaters, though mostly lighter-weight and tank tops. There's some wool in there but it's primarily blends and a little cotton.

The bottom shelf is pretty much for warm sweaters only. You can't see everything there - to the left of the rust-colored skein on the lower left, there are about 10 skeins of Malabrigo; 7 in Olive, and the other 3 are Sol y Mar. I've decided my next project is the February Lady Sweater and I'm leaning toward making it with Noro Cash Iroha, which is the blue yarn in the back. I bought it ridiculously on sale about 18 months ago and it has been waiting for the right project. I think this is it!

Then there's the spinning stash - all in one bin (and clearly trying to get out).

All together it looks like this. The basket on top of the armoire holds spinning projects in process, and the white bag up there on the left holds about 4 pounds of undyed merino waiting for another good day to dye.

Then there's the bookshelf (thank you, giant sale at Ikea):

You can't see the top 2 shelves in this picture but that's ok because they both hold my cookbooks which don't have anything to do with my fiber obsession. Ok, my fiber crafting obsession - eating fiber is important and I think about that a lot too. The top shelf you can see has my knitting magazines on the left, the small collection of straight needles in the middle (I made the clay jar that hold them in college), and my box of WIP's is on the right.

Next shelf down has my patterns (categorized in binders), some notions, and my lazy kates for spinning - do you like the high-tech one made from a shoe box?. Second shelf from the bottom has my knitting books on the left, spinning/dyeing books on the right, and the basket between them has yarn for a sweater in process. And the bottom shelf has spinning stuff in the bin on the left, dyeing stuff on the right, and a box full of zip locks in the middle. All of this stuff lives in our guest room. So far the only people who've used the guest room are muggles, which is good because frankly I don't know if I could trust a fiber person in there alone.

Though the room does come with a vicious guard dog.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Are You A Drinker With A Knitting Problem?

That's what a co-worker asked when I mentioned that I was meeting some friends for drinks prior to Bobaknit night. A drinker with a knitting problem - sounds like a good blog name to me.


Knitty Otter is celebrating her 200th entry with a contest! To enter, you need to answer the questions below - answer either in the comments of her blog, or link in the comments to your own blog where you answer the questions.

1.) How long have you been knitting?

I learned how to knit as a kid - I might have been 7 or 8 at the time. I never really completed anything except a plaid sweater for Eloise, my dachsund. I made a matching hat (with earholes) as well. I stopped for over 35 years and picked it up again just under 3 years ago. Now I can't stop (see "Drinker With A Knitting Problem", above).

2.) How long have you been knitting socks?

I knit my first socks early in the winter of 2006. Just plain old stockinette out of Barefoot from Mountain Colors.

3.) What do you do with a problem like Maria?

Send her on a wild goose chase in some Austrian alps. That'll keep her outa my hair. And my stash. Stay out of my stash, Maria.

4.) What is your all time favorite sock yarn?

I am SO behind on sock yarn; I have some Socks that Rock (Little Bunny FooFoo) that I bought at Stitches 2007 that I haven't tried yet. I've used Claudia's and Koigu, Regia and something else I can't remember. I need to get going! I'd say my favorite to knit so for is Koigu. Purty colors.

5.) Toe Up or Cuff Down?

Haven't tried Toe Up yet - the patterns I've chosen just haven't called for it. But they're next in line to check out - I like the concept a lot.

6.) What's your favorite color (this week or for all time)? Do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?

I gravitate toward colors that remind me of Fall in Vermont. Warm reds and browns, olive greens, gold-ish yellows. Though I look terrible in yellow so the only place I'd wear it is on my feet. I'm a big fan of green too. I really don't care for Easter-egg pastels. Blech.

7.) Do you have a pet(s)?

It's a good thing our property is small. Otherwise I'd adopt every damned animal that came my way. But since space and cash are limited, we keep it to 2 dogs (Trouble - Beagle, Riso - English Setter) and one old, crotchety 19-year old cat, Miguel. Oh. And lots of ants. Too many to name.

8.) Babies: Oven Roasted or Barbecued?

Barbecued - it's too hot to use the oven.

9.) Besides socks what is your favorite type of thing to knit?

I love making sweaters but lately I've been obsessing about lace. I've got a couple of projects in mind; mostly lacy scarves.

10.) What's your favorite scent?

Antonia's Flowers Tiempe Passate. It's spicy and kind of sexy but still light and not at all overpowering. Antonia gave me some a few years ago as a gift and I still have nearly 2 bottles left. Yum.

11.) What music are you really loving right now? Like a song or a band?

Hmmm. For workouts, I like Aerosmith and Big and Rich. For just listening, Angelique Kidjo (if you ever get the chance to see her live - go. She's fab).

12.) How many pairs of socks have you hand knit?

I don't know really - maybe 9 or 10 pairs?

13.) What's your favorite treat? Salty or Sweet?

If I had to choose between salty or sweet, I'd go for salty. But I lurrrvve ice cream!

14.) What was the most interesting thing you smelled yesterday. Not good or bad necessarily, just the thing that stuck out most so that you actually took notice of it.

The smell of tomato stems as I picked some cherry tomatoes yesterday and brushed against them. Not necessarily pretty - it's kind of strong and bitter - but it just screams 'summer'. So I love it.

15.) Needles - DPN's: Wooden, metal or plastic?

So far I like wooden, but I do have a set of Addi DPNs in size 0 that I like a lot. Not as slippery as you might think! I just picked up 2 pairs of KnitPicks Harmony DPNs - haven't tried them yet.

16.) What is your favorite sock pattern that you've knit? What do you recommend?

Cookie A.'s Hedera. A nice easily-memorized repeat - a nice introduction to something beyond ribbing. Monkey is on my list.

17.) The last Question: If you were stuck on a deserted island who would you want with you, what knitting would you want with you and would you ever want to leave?

Oh, I'd definitely bring my husband. Since I still like him and everything. I'd probably want laceweight to keep me occupied if it's a tropical island, or Malabrigo if the island is somewhere cold. And I'd totally want to leave - I like the outdoors but I really like indoor plumbing.

Still Knitting

I've been pretty monogamous with the knitting. Actually I've been working on 2 projects - does that make me a bigamist? I've done a few more repeats on my Haruha Scarf.

It's a nice pattern; a 12-row repeat but pretty easy to figure out. It's going slowly only because I'm really focusing on Arianne. Here it is:

I've completed the body and arms, and I have just joined them and I'm working on the shoulders and yoke. In case you're wondering, while I am short, I don't really have stubby little arms like that - they're 3/4 sleeves. I should be done with this one pretty soon!

Garden Shots

The zucchini continue to take over:

These are not small. A 4th one joined them before I cut 'em all up for dinner last night. We only have 7628 more on the vines.

Save meeeeee!

Some hot peppers and grape tomatoes:

The Pak Choi is doing nicely, thank you.

And if we survive the zucchini, the cucumbers stand ready to attack.

Cucumber trellis - not a bad 2nd life for a beat up old step ladder! Use what you've got right? And keep it out of a landfill.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Fab Fifth

What a fab weekend! Our 4th was mellow. We took the dogs for a walk, and spent the evening with the nieces; that was about it, which was great. A nice, lazy day.

Saturday the 5th was a bit busier! I headed up to the East Bay, making a stop to pick up Donna, and together we headed farther north to visit Ms. TeeHee for the day. We ate (the woman can cook! And did!). And knit - I'd show pictures but it looks exactly the same as last post, just bigger. And talked. And drooled over Viggo who was conveniently showing his hot self on the TV in the background.

We also cooed over Riley. Who wouldn't love that fuzzy little face?

And here they are. I've met AmpuTeeHee (on the left) a few times at Stitches, but even though we've been emailing back and forth for over a year, this was the first time I'd met Donna in person. Finally!

I had to leave mid-afternoon as I had other places to be, but I'm so glad could make it for even a short time - it was so much fun. Great company, great food, yarn and Viggo. A lovely afternoon. Thanks guys!

Traffic was fine on the way home, so I made great time. And found that my KnitPicks order had arrived! I got this:

The white yarn is KnitPicks Bare (880 yards of 100% Merino lace weight) for future hand-dye sessions. The 2 skeins are Shadow lace weight (440 yards, 100% Merino) in Sunset Heather and the other one is Shadow lace weight in Hotrod Heather. I've developed a sudden fascination with lace recently so I picked up Victorian Lace Today (KnitPicks is having a sale until early August - 40% off all books; what a deal!). I'm not really a shawl person, but there are some patterns in there I can use for scarves and wraps, which I will wear.

I also got this:

I keep referring to it as 'Cat Bordhi's new book', but it was published about a year ago. Apparently I'm not exactly on the forefront of what's new in the knit world.

I had a lovely evening, too. I'd made some tortellini salad early in the day and hubby and I headed to Spinnity's for a potluck supper. The Knitist was there, as was the Fiber Fiend and her husband, Margot (whom I hadn't met before) and also Emy. And a whole ton of great food. Bad blogger that I am though, I completely forgot to pull my camera out. Doh!

Squash Control

As I haven't had the opportunity so ship any zucchini to Toni (she referred to me as a squash-related threat -I must live up to that) or play Ding Dong Ditch with my excess squash, I've actually been cooking with it. I know!

Stir fry with flank steak, zucchini, pak choi, onions and sweet peppers (the pak choi is from the garden too).

And tonight's meal - pasta with zucchini, cream, parmesan, and fresh basil.

I love this recipe. It uses a pound and a half of zucchini, and the small amount of cream (1/2 cup for the entire recipe) satisfies my occasional craving for pasta Alfredo without inducing a heart attack.

More Gratuitous Doggie Pics

Trouble wants to say Thanks for all the nice birthday wishes you sent her way. Riso got all jealous though and wanted equal blog time, so here are some parting beefcake shots of the boy.

Snuggly boy:

The best fuzzy schnozz in town:

Do your pets demand equal time?