Sunday, July 26, 2009

Late To The Party

For someone who is freakishly obsessive about being on time (if not early) for appointments, meetings, and flights, it seems like a contradiction that I'm consistently late to every party.

Example 1:

9702 people started knitting Cookie A.'s Monkey Socks before I finally cast on for mine.

I'm making them from my own handspun (Crown Mountain Farms Superwash Merino in the Aqualung color way). The pattern as written would be a little big for my skinny feet so I chose a finer gauge yarn and smaller needles. It should work out perfectly.

It's an easy, fun-to-knit pattern. If I'd actually concentrate a little, I'd finish them up in no time.

Example 2:

I'm also arriving late (#3777) on this:

It's the Lace Ribbon Scarf by Veronik Avery (Knitty, Spring 2008). I'm using my one and only skein of Handmaiden Sea Silk. I'm really enjoying this. There is enough of a pattern to keep me interested but simple enough that I can work on it in a social setting without making mistakes. Or many mistakes...

Late To My Own Freakin' Party

Last month I hit the big 5-0. I found out around that time that my husband had started planning a surprise party for me, but those plans had been scratched when we realized that I was likely to lose my job. Somehow spending money on a bash didn't seem like the smartest thing to do. And as we'd anticipated, we were right. No big deal - I had a nice birthday without the party.

But less than 4 weeks later things turned around again so we decided to go for the party again, even though it would no longer be a surprise. So this weekend we did it, a little late. It was small, and fun, and a very nice way to spend an afternoon.

There was wine.

There was cake.

One doesn't need any more than that but I have lovely, generous friends so there were presents as well.

I wish I had more pictures but I managed to carry my camera around all afternoon and didn't take it out even once.

I am a lame blogger. But a tired and happy one as well.

Tired enough to let Trouble control the remote this evening:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Huh? What Just Happened?

Holy Cow has it been a week. I always anticipate that the first week at any new job is going to be more tough than fun, and I was right. I spent the week absorbing all sorts of new information, meeting new people and getting my bearings in general. I'm so freakin' impatient that I expect myself to be the 'go-to' person within about 3 days and of course that's never the case. Everything I'm doing right now takes research - to whom should I talk about this, where do I go for that, where's the coffee again, etc. It'll all be second nature soon, but naturally in my opinion, never soon enough. So first weeks are always hard and good.god.tiring. I've been beat at the end of every day, and have ended up falling asleep on the couch early in the evening more than once.

Even though I'm still plowing through work stuff more slowly than I'd like, there are already some immediate plusses (in addition to just freakin' having a job, which is a giant bonus) to my particular workplace. First, the Bay area is known for having some pretty sucky commutes. It's not the worst I've ever heard of (I'm under the impression that LA holds that honor) but it can seriously eat up time and cause major stress. My new commute is 7 miles more than the one I had to Netflix, but it's a reverse commute - so it takes me half the time of my last one. The longest it has taken so far is about 20 minutes in the middle of rush hour. Sweet! And if something happens that causes problems on 101, I have 2 alternate routes, so I'll be able to avoid major issues most of the time.

Second, rather than claiming there's a lunch hour but constantly booking meetings at the time, this company actually encourages everyone to get away from their desks mid-day for a bike ride, work out, or whatever. I know! I don't have a bike yet (waiting to be eligible for their generous employee discount) but I'm sure I'll be able to find a way to borrow something soon. In the meantime, they have a very large and very well equipped gym right in the building, which I've used a couple of times. Yay for encouraging physical fitness. It's nice to have it not only right there, but also to have the time to do it, rather than trying to fit in a quick work-out between work obligations.

Just so I don't get too fit though, plus #3 is there's a great Mexican market about half a mile from the office, right on my way home. They not only carry nice produce, they have a deli with made-on-the-premises food (tamales!) and I've heard that the burritos are to die for. Or maybe their fat/calorie count brings on an early (but worth-it) demise. I don't care. I love markets like that and while I prefer to eat stuff we've made that's more healthful, well some days it's just nice to let someone else do the work, calories be damned.

Anyway - my impatient self-imposed pressures aside, work is going well. I'm sure it'll become easier and I'll actually be able to stay up past 8:30 again some evening which will be good. The early crashing has seriously hampered my efforts to get any fibery stuff done (don't even talk about house cleaning).

Tour de...What?

I have let my Team Crankypants teammates down terribly with respect to the Tour de Fleece (but I'm really cranky about it - does that help?). Instead of finishing 3 out of 4 projects I'll be lucky if I can complete two. But between that silly falling-asleep thing and nursing a tight neck/shoulder issue, it just hasn't been happening. But the news isn't all bad - I did manage to turn this:

(that's the Corriedale batt from Grafton Fibers)

Into this:

And eventually into this (embiggen to see the pretty):

It's a couple of hundred yards of DK weight 3-ply. I started out spinning it using a long-draw (a la Yarn Harlot - she blogged about it quite a while back, though I didn't Navajo ply), but it really did a number on my back and shoulders, so I switched to spinning from the fold, which worked fine. I'm not sure yet what it'll become. It's a little rough for my delicate lady-like (snork!) skin so I'm considering a felted project; a bag perhaps?

I resumed spinning on the Quiviut, but haven't gotten much done so it still looks almost like this:

I might have 3-4 times as much as this on the bobbin now, but dryer lint just looks like dryer lint, so I didn't think it was worth it to update the picture. It's spinning up nicely though - and as with the first ounce that I spun for myself last year, the product is much prettier than the fiber and it should turn out to be very nice.


I meant to post about this last week and totally forgot. Look what I bought from Sandi!

Gorgeous, huh? It's a Pat Green drum carder - I believe this model is 'Deb's Delicate Deluxe'. It's beautifully crafted, has an additional drum for super-fine fibers (cashmere, anyone?) and it's a much nicer quality carder than I'd ever hoped or expected to own. In just two passes through the carder, I turned this:

(some washed but not-yet-processed sheep's wool)

into this:

Soft, fluffy, and it still contains a touch of lanolin. Yum. I have no idea what it'll be. Sandi gave me some extra fiber to play with and this was part of that collection. I have about 6 ounces of it and have carded about half of it. I'm in fiber-carding heaven and am so enamored of this thing I haven't put it away once. It has lived on the dining room table ever since it followed me home. This may be a long honeymoon. Thanks Sandi!

Just To Prove I Haven't Forgotten How...

I've been knitting a little and have managed to finish a project.

These are plain vanilla socks that I started in March, and promptly tossed aside when life got a little crazy. They're made from Socks that Rock lightweight (a mill end so there's no colorway name). It's my first pair knit from that brand, and I definitely like it. It has a nice sproing factor and knits up really nicely. I've heard that fading can be an issue with that yarn, but I haven't washed them yet so that remains to be seen. It may be a while before I can report back on that though - it's pretty freakin' hot here these days so wool sock weather is a bit far out into the future.

I'm in a quandary about what to knit next. I'm all excited about lace, but I'm having a hard time deciding what to make. I could go for one of the patterns in my new book on Estonian Lace, or follow through on one of two long-queued projects; either the Print o' the Wave Stole or Juno Regina. Then of course I have various yarn options for each project already in stash, but listing those out would just make my head explode.

Or, I could hold off on lace for now and continue work on Lady Eleanor:

It's pretty warm these days for knitting this, but I know when the weather finally does cool down it would be really nice to have this draped over the sofa, ready to throw over my freezing little cold-blooded self.

Decisions, decisions.

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch...

The garden continues to produce. Can you guess what's in season now?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Well That Didn't Take Long...

I'm officially employed again! Through a chance meeting with a former co-worker this week I heard that another co-worker was the GM at a nearby bike company. I got on their website and saw that they had an opening that matched my skills. So I planned to write a cover letter in the morning and send in my application.

It turns out they were faster than I. That evening I got an email from their HR Director. We agreed to meet on Wednesday. I had four interviews that day and another two on Thursday. Today they made me an offer and I accepted it. Starting Monday I'll be the Executive Assistant to the President of this company.



Sunday, July 5, 2009

Rebel, Rebel

So I had a heck of a time deciding what I was going to spin for the Tour de Fleece. I bought some beautiful fiber in February at Stitches West. I was given some gorgeous Alpaca last week. I have what I consider a lot of stash already - and a nice variety of potential projects, each with its own tempting reason to bring to to the front of the queue.

Of course I can't find it to link to now, but somewhere I read that one of the rules for the Tour is that you don't start your project until Day 1 (yesterday).

I am a rebel, I tell you - a rebel with a capital Reb. Once I confess this I'd better go into hiding because I will have the spinning and the Tour police after me. Doping, schmoping - they'll ignore all that in favor of busting me for my Tour transgressions.

First, my goal is to finish some things I already started, long ago. I know! Already started=rule broken. Some of this I probably started before last year's TdeF - I am that much of a badass. Second, I actually didn't start my Tour until today. Yep, I skipped Day 1. Who knows - I might even skip another, then end up at the finish line looking fresh and energized, with my hands relaxed instead of my fingers contorted into crone-like claws. Call me Rosie, people, I don't care.

So here are my projects:

I'm starting with a beautiful batt (Corriedale?) from Grafton Fibers. I bought this at my first Stitches West (2007) before I bought my wheel (but I knew I'd own one soon). I'm about 1/3 the way through this project. It'll be a 3-ply - probably a sport or DK weight.

Next is some Quiviut that I'm spinning for Alison. I'm going for a 2-ply laceweight. As with the last Quiviut I spun, it's kind of like playing with dryer lint (fortunately with a slightly longer staple) but the end result is worth it.

Next is some yarn I'm making with Addison 'Real Vermonter' Roving from A Piece of Vermont. It's about 6 ounces of Romney/Corriedale, Mohair and a touch of Alpaca, all from farms in Vermont. This is the Petunias color way.

Last is a project using some Merino I dyed myself, and some silk - I plan on 2 plies (is that a word?) of the merino and one of the silk. Who knows what it'll be, I just like the thought of plying different fibers together.

I'm hoping to get 3 out of these 4 WIPs completed - I'm not sure which yet, but I'll figure that out as I go along.

Another rule (or guideline) for the TdeF is that this is an opportunity to challenge oneself (again, I can't find where I read that but I read it. I swear). Each of these projects varies from my spinning norm. I'm spinning my Grafton batt from the fold (I know how to do it but haven't completed a project using that method). The Quiviut is tough by nature of the short staple, and it needs to be spun really fine. I'm going to Navajo-ply the Real Vermonter fiber - that'll be a challenge to A) keep it even and B) keep the single from breaking during the plying. And I've never plied 2 different fibers together - I have no idea what to expect and if the difference in texture will make working with both at the same time trickier than usual.

Crap. I just followed a rule.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Rama Llama Ding Dong

I've got a new FO to show you - a mid-stage FO really, as the spinning is completed but it hasn't been knit yet into whatever it decides to be. I finished the VT Llama that Norma gave me. This is about 550 yards of 2-ply, probably a light-fingering weight.

It's not the most evenly spun stuff on earth but I lurve, lurve, lurve it.

Here it is after a soaking and a thwack, waiting to dry:

Rama Alpaca Ding Dong?

So I came home from a friend's house yesterday to find a box waiting for me. I expected part of it - over a pound of gorgeous Alpaca fiber from here.

It's actually more of a mohagany color, and it'll be a sweater for me some day. As if this gift wasn't enough though, look what I saw when I opened the box (you may have to embiggen to read it):

A surprise! Some beautifully dyed alpaca with just a touch of bling (embiggen to see the full gorgeousness:

I've joined Team Crankypants for the Ravelry Tour de Fleece - This may become my project, but I'm still wavering on that. I'd better stop wavering soon - it starts tomorrow!

Feeling the Mojo

One thing I like about the timing of my birthday is that it falls shortly before Knitpicks holds one of their 40% off books sales. I got to spend the last of my birthday cash on some lace inspiration.

I've wanted this book ever since it came out. While I prefer rectangular wraps, I don't think there's a single project in this book that I wouldn't want to make. The yarn I blame on my very best friend evar, Tika. She blogged about buying some really pretty green laceweight (some Knitpicks Shadow in Cattail) and I got all jealous. So I added a couple of projects-worth of yarn to my order. The olive green is Alpaca Cloud in Dill (2 skeins), the greyish green is Gloss Lace in Cypress (2) and the purple is Gloss Lace in Pinot (1). I really like the Knitpicks laceweight, and the prices are incredibly moderate.

I'm feeling the urge to knit again. I think as soon as Tour de Fleece is completed, I'll have had my fill of spinning and will be ready to jump into some lace. In anticipation of all this lace, I finally caved and bought Knitpicks' blocking squares - no more pinning stuff to the guest-room bed. Yay! It's about time - I've been dying for blocking squares for years.

Little Miss Ice Cream

Trouble would like to thank you all for the nice birthday wishes. She was in an ice cream stupor for quite a while after the festivities but has since recovered and can be seen here waiting for more.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Birthday Beagle

ETA: A video at the end!

Today is Trouble's 10th birthday. Happy Birthday, little girl! In our house, our pets get a major treat on their birthday. Hers is ice cream. No one can snarf down ice cream like Trouble can.

Waiting to be served:

Waiting to hear the clicker:


Look at those ears flapping.

The big chunk is gone.

Time to clean the bowl:

She's a good bowl cleaner.

This whole process took about 90 seconds. Talk about brain freeze.

And video!