Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lady In Reds

Thanks for your kind comments about my brother. His birthday was a hard day but I managed to get through it ok. One thing that helped it end on a brighter note was coming home to find this:

Gawgeous, no? It's Malabrigo Sock - a lovely little treasure currently not available for sale in the US. A few weeks ago I was whining at Mrs. Quimby, threatening that depending on the outcome of the upcoming elections combined with the fact that you can't get Malabrigo sock down here, that I'd likely be moving to Canada to become her stalker. I mean neighbor. The woman is nothing if not rational - she pointed out that rather than packing up all my crap and making the move, it might be a touch easier if we just did a yarn exchange. 'We could always do a trade', she said. Genius. How frighteningly simple. And logical (and what a smooth way for her to dissuade me from moving in next door). And so we traded. I sent her some Claudia's Handpaints in varying greens, and I got this lovely stuff. I have yet to comb through my queue to find the perfect project for it, but I'll be starting some fab socks with it soon.

In Progress...

I'm working on the Ribby Cardi from Chic Knits. I'm using some Elsebeth Lavold Classic AL that I had in stash. It's great yarn and a really fun project that is moving along quickly. I'm done with the back and I have nearly completed both the fronts. After that it's sleeve time, and that'll do it for the major pieces.

This view shows the texture of the yarn a little bit better. It's a Merino/Alpaca blend and just fab.

I've been spinning too.

The top bobbin is a merino/silk blend from Tactile that is going to turn into a 2-ply laceweight for a scarf. The bottom bobbin is a Grafton Fiber batt that I picked up at Stitches West 2007, when I hadn't even learned to spin yet. This is new for me, as it's the first time I've tried to spin Woolen rather than Worsted - it's going pretty well. I'm not sure exactly what it will ultimately become but for the mid-stage I'm planning a 3-ply worsted weight. The shot below is blurry, but has more accurate color:

Gee, notice a trend in my recent color selections? It may be warm here but I've got Fall on the brain.

Friday, October 17, 2008

This Was Almost 'Favorite Sister Knits'

I grew up the youngest of 3 and the only girl. My brothers and I had a torturous relationship. They delighted in teasing me and my whining about it only egged them on. There wasn’t physical fighting as we were too afraid of my mother to pull that kind of crap, but there was a lot of psychological warfare in our house. There was spying. There was blackmail. They told me the average American family had just two children and therefore I should leave. My oldest brother Peter in particular just loved to push my buttons. He would sit on me and hold his hands over my knees as if to grab them, which because I was so ticklish would just send me right over the edge. He would tease me about various boys I hated, and write prescriptions off my father’s pads for ointment because my lips were supposedly chapped from kissing them. As we got older he did things like throw me into snow banks and toss me into the shower with all my clothes on and turn on the water.

And we were competitive. Or at least I was – he had no idea. He’d gone away to camp in Canada one summer where he took horseback riding lessons, and came back riding as well as I did, and I’d been at it for ages. Needless to say, I was pissed. So when he decided he wanted to play the viola, I demanded violin lessons (I’d have gone for viola too but I was too tiny at the time to hold one). I had to outdo him at something. So I took lessons and played violin for nine freakin’ years, just so I could be better at something than Peter. And I was. Neener, neener. Funny thing though, I can’t say I enjoyed it all that much. It was okay and I could play well, but it was a lot of time spent on something that was never a passion. So who really won? He didn’t know we were in a competition anyway.

I finally grew to enjoy my brothers after they went off to college. They tortured me less, I whined less, we all relaxed. And as we became adults, we actually started to like each other. Imagine that.

Peter was a quirky, slightly twisted, seriously brilliant guy. He did all the hard crossword puzzles (NYT, London Times) with a pen and would time himself. He thought Organic Chemistry was easy and became a professor of Chemistry, as well as a textbook author. He went to law school (he referred to it as ‘Weasel School’) for fun. He’d bow out of a family get-together at the last minute, but show up at my door the next weekend with a box of lobsters and bottles of wine. And he’d call me just about every week, opening the conversation with ‘Hello, Favorite Sister’.

He also watched out for me. He provided enormous moral and some financial support during my very ugly divorce. I'll never forget the time when after visiting him in Maine for the weekend, I opened my wallet to pay a toll - and found $300 that he'd quietly snuck in there. When I was diagnosed with Cancer, Peter was the person I had the hardest time telling because he’d had Lymphoma too, a few years before. He dropped everything and drove 5 hours each way to sit with me while I got my first chemo treatment. He came armed with supplies to help deal with chemo side effects and also brought fine chocolates – some for me, some to give to the nurses in the Chemo suite so I’d become their favorite patient. He knew what I was up against and helped me be prepared.

Today would have been Peter’s 53rd birthday. He died at 48 – his cancer returned shortly after I completed treatment for mine.

This is my 100th blog post and Peter it’s for you. Your Favorite Sister misses you terribly.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

February in October

The February Lady Sweater is done! I started it in late August and finished last night. It would have taken even less time if I had remembered how to count. I like how it fits.

Close up:

Farther away:

It's a good style for Zombie Arms:

Someone had been yodeling and mooing and deserved Zombie Arms:

The only thing to watch out for when making this sweater is sizing. I usually wear a medium or thereabouts. This time, I went for the XS, which indicated a 37.5 bust. I really wanted more ease than that and nearly went up a size, but I'm glad I read the comments about the fit on Ravelry first. It runs big. So the XS gave me plenty of ease, but it's not enormous. The pattern does have instructions for an XXS as well, but anyone smaller could either alter the math or else use a finer yarn without any problem. It's a fun knit and I'm seriously considering making another one.

Awww...Yer Makin' Me Blush...

Two people gave me I Love Your Blog Awards!

Jessie of What Housework fame gave me the first mention (scroll way down). I love her blog too. She's funny, talented, and has a husband who keeps picking up spare, unwanted critters and bringing them home. Some of them end up as breakfast or dinner (relax - I'm talking about pigs and chickens, not dogs and kittehs) but while they live with them, they lead a fine life. She is in Vermont and from what I can see, has the life I'd like to live. Of course I have it completely romanticized and I purposely ignore that she likely has every-day problems like everyone else, and that all of those adorable animals produce a lot of poop and someone has to clean it up!

The second was from Toni, who seems to have enough energy to maintain two blogs. I want her to be the crazy (in a good way) lady next door. She and her husband embark on these 'month of' experiments, she grows and then preserves huge amounts of food, has been finishing up UFO's at an amazing rate and I'm just pretty sure she never sleeps.

So now I'm supposed to list a few blogs I read. Have you checked the list on the right? I check out a ton every day. It's a tough choice but here are a few fun ones:

Amputeehee - perhaps I'm a bit biased because she's my friend but I met her through reading her blog - and I wouldn't have kept reading enough to meet her if I hadn't liked it. She's smart, creative and insightful and one heck of a fab hostess. And she's got a really cute little dog (and now a kitty too!).

Donnaz Chaos - another friend made through blogging. In fact I guest-blogged about training for the Avon Walk on her blog just before I started this one. Between the raunchy double entendres about balls and how she gets a kick out of simple things, Donna cracks me up.

SpinDyeKnit - Just when Alison makes you all teary-eyed with her amazing stories and her endless compassion for others, she'll get you to snork and roll your eyes with some really bad (good?) puns.

Last, certainly not least, and I could go on forever but I'm stopping at 4 (plus the two who selected me), I bring you The Adventures of Gladys and Harold Quimby. Finally, I'm mentioning someone I haven't met in person. Though I would like to. 'Gladys' has a fine husband who makes crazy faces at the camera (or at least I hope they're on purpose), some giant cats and some fine stories to tell, especially about falling down in yarn shops and vacationing with various family members. I'd like to be her neighbor too and I swear it's not just because she lives in Canada and you can buy Malabrigo Sock Yarn there.

Oh what the heck let's make it five - if you're going to mention Gladys you have to mention So Now What too. Another Canadian (they know each other) and as I've already mentioned a few that I'd like to have next door, could she live across the street? Again, not because of the Malabrigo Sock Yarn.

And that's it. I really have to stop now. Someone has started mooing again. Outside. The neighbors are probably going to report us for keeping livestock in the back yard.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Knitters Are Made Of Awesome

That's me quoting Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the one and only Yarn Harlot. She said that - or something very close to it - during the question/answer part of the talk she gave in Santa Rosa on Saturday. I liked it so much I felt the need to write it down.

Road Trip!

Early Saturday morning, Gigi (Dahling), Alison and I piled into Jasmin's car (with her too, of course) and headed up north to Santa Rosa to see the Yarn Harlot talk about her new book.* We got there really early, ate lunch and then Alison and I hung out while Jasmin and Gigi (when you combine them they're the Knitmore Girls) donned the podcasting equipment and interviewed everyone standing in line outside.

We got a little goofy while we waited. That's Alison taking a picture of Romi, who is taking a picture of me. I met Romi officially on Saturday but I've been admiring her work for over a year (she has beautiful patterns in Knitty, and she has fabulous other designs in her shop - check them out!).

I also got to see Jenn (above) which was unexpected and a very pleasant surprise for me. We met for the first time at the Maker Faire last spring. Jenn has a knack for adopting the cutest animals ever. If reincarnation exists, I want to come back as one of her dogs. I think they lead a pretty good life. Anyway, we hung out, met new friends, knit (of course) and just enjoyed the day. And finally...Stephanie! (Sorry. She's not blurry in real life.)

If you look at her blog post about it (4th picture down), you can see what fab seats we had. And true to form, she was great. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes touching, and enjoyable throughout. She says she's very nervous about doing this and I believe her, but to me it doesn't show.

One really nice thing about the day was that we weren't in any kind of hurry, so we waited for everyone else to go through the line before we got our books signed and had pictures taken. Another nice thing was that before she started signing for everyone, Stephanie jumped out from behind her table, came over and gave Alison a big hug. It was awesome.

I can't tell you how many takes it took to get a shot of me without my eyes (completely) closed. My right eye is open just a smidge in that one and that's the best I could do. Hypersensitive eyeballs, I guess.

I wanted to give well-deserved props to the bookstore hosting this event, Copperfield's Books in Santa Rosa. We had a few needs that required some special accommodation and they could not have been nicer. They made sure that the experience was really fun instead of exhausting, and stayed pleasant as could be through the entire thing. They know the meaning of good customer service! I doubt anyone from there would be reading this but if they are, thanks guys, you truly made a difference and it meant a lot.

We finally left the shop around 6pm, had a nice dinner at a local brewery/pub, and headed home. It was the best day. Great company and great fun, all at a relaxed pace. Thanks, ladies!

What I Was Doing While I Listened

I'm nearly done with the February Lady Sweater - between the car ride up, the wait and Stephanie's talk I got a ton done on the sleeves. I've got the end of one sleeve to go, then all I have to do is weave in the ends, block it and sew on the buttons!

Progress shot.

The color is off on this one but it shows the pattern definition pretty well.

I picked up the buttons during lunch today at 3 Beads and a Button. Whaddya think? Of course if you hate them it doesn't really matter - it's what I bought and it's all I have. :)

Happy Monday. I hope you had a good weekend. Mine was wonderful.

*I read her new book yesterday - if you like her blog, you should pick up a copy - it's a good one.