Saturday, July 29, 2006

Progress Report

I am very excited about this post because I'm writing it on my brand new MacBook. I chose the white version because even with the exact same specs as the black one, it's $150 less, and I like the look a little better anyway. One of the main things that makes me happy about my new computer is the fact that I don't have to install any extra software for my camera to work with it. And I don't have to go hunting in hidden "shared" folders to find the pictures that I want to upload to the blog. Oh yeah, and it's just blazing fast overall.

Anyway, moving along to actual knitting content, I am extremely proud of myself for finally starting my first official Summer of Socks project, and I'm even more proud for finally (after about six tries) conquering the Priscilla Gibson-Roberts short-row toe technique:

Grandma M's sock, almost ready for the heel.

This was not without help. I found the instructions in the book to be a little vague in spots, so I wrote to my SnB group, and I googled the technique. I finally found a wonderful, picture-filled blog entry at Purly Whites that really helped me. In the end, my sock compromised between what the blog entry recommended and what PGR said to do. I followed the instructions in the blog entry faithfully except that on my way down the second half of the toe, I did the k3togs and the p3togs the way PGR says to, rather than according to the blog. I felt that the SSSP gave a smoother "seam" than just doing p3tog.

Speaking of socks, because the Jaywalkers don't count as a legitimate SoS project (and because Grandma M's 93rd birthday is in early September), they have been languishing somewhat. However, there has still been a bit of progress:

One and one-third Jaywalkers. Let's hope that I won't
get another ticket when I finish the second sock!

I love them, and I can't wait to finish them so I can wear them, but other things are higher on my list right now (we're not going to mention the four other on-the-needles projects that aren't even going to be pictured in this post for want of progress).

Then, there's Hanging Vines. I have now completed 13 out of the 34 pattern repeats, and I am not at all sick of it. If lace were a knit-anywhere kind of thing, and if I didn't have a deadline for Grandma's socks, I would work on Hanging Vines all the time. Possibly to the detriment of my health. I loveitloveitloveit!

Hanging Vines stole at 13 pattern repeats. This color is actually much
more accurate than what you might have seen in past entries.

And even though I missed the deadline for Challenge #4 of the Amazing Lace, I offer you the world's most luxurious placemat:

Very gentle on your good china...

Yes, I would do severe bodily harm to anyone who actually tried to use Hanging Vines this way.

And last, but most certainly not least, there has also been some non-knitting progress. On Monday, I am going to make a phone call to DC, and I am going to accept the job I was offered by the wonderful people at a well-known human rights organization. It is a six-month position, but it is a foot in the door, and I am very happy about it. I also really need to say that I am the luckiest wife in the world. Taz has been truly amazing through this loooong job search of mine. I don't know what I would have done without his unwavering support (and cajoling when I needed it). And the fact that he is willing to move to a whole new city so that I can try to advance my career? Well, no wonder I married him!

Monday, July 24, 2006

USB cable to the rescue! (about time for some Grand Canyon pictures, don't you think?)

I finally found it!!! Of course now I'm about to rush out the door to catch a train, but I wanted to take a minute to post a few pics of all those trips I've been telling you about. Just in case you didn't believe me about the Grand Canyon (and I would understand if you didn't given how long it's taken me to get these pics up).

ETA: I should note that by "how long" I mean months. This trip was for Taz's birthday in the first week of May. I have nothing to say in my own defense. Just get over it and look at the pics.

So anyway, here we go:

The first evening we got there, we drove to one of the lookouts on the
South Rim and took some early evening pictures.

Our first full day there, we took a hike partway down the most
popular trail. This cool tunnel was fairly near the top.

When stopping for lunch, we looked back and were
amazed at what we'd come down.

Taz and I thought this rock looked like a heart.

The next day we hiked down a different trail, which was much longer
and more challenging. Aside from the Camelback that Taz is wearing here,
we carried several more liters of water with us, as well as energy bars
and (an new discovery for us)
engergy gel.

If you're wondering why we carried so much fluid and electrolytes with us, it's because we had read a lot of horror stories of people dying in the canyon from dehydration and heat exhaustion. And we did in fact drink and eat pretty much everything we carried. At the trailhead, there was this warning sign about it. The headline said "Could you run the Boston Marathon? Well, she could, and she died in the Grand Canyon." Point taken.

My face barely begins to express how exhausted I am in this picture.
Especially after running the last 100 yards to the top after spotting a

And finally, I offer you:

Sunset at the Grand Canyon.

After posting all of those pictures, I have to say, even the best photographers have trouble doing justice to the beauty of this place. There is a reason it is one of the wonders of the world. If you ever have the chance, GO.

I had planned to give you some pics of the Philly trip too, but now I'm out of time, so those will have to wait for another post. There ought to be some decent knitting progress on this train ride, so look for update pics soon. OK, I'm outta here!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Random Monday

Because Random Wednesday just isn't random enough anymore. Here's what I've been up to since the knitting adventures with Marisa:

1. On Friday, Taz and I infiltrated enemy territory to watch the last half of a game against the White Sox. We were too afraid of the fans to do anything that might reveal our true loyalties. But we were secretly rooting for the White Sox. Because, you know, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

Home of the Evil Empire

See? I really was there!

2. On Saturday evening, we went to a concert at the Meadows, which is now called the Dodge Music Center. But everyone who's lived in Connecticut for more than a year still calls it the Meadows. I tried to take a picture of the stage, so that I could post it and have you guess who we went to see, but all that my camera phone could see were big lights shining directly in its sensitive little eyes lens, so sorry, but no soup for you. You can still guess if you want, though. Because I'm not sure if I'm quite ready to admit that I went to this particular concert. It was a lot of fun, though (even though they weren't selling any beer--and yes, that is a hint).

3. I was in a really crappy mood on Thursday, and when Taz arrived home, he came bearing a copy of this book, which was super sweet of him. I'm so lucky. I started reading it last night before bed, and I'm already done with it. Despite being such a quick read, and not exactly requiring deep soul-searching thought to get through, I enjoyed it quite a bit. And it definitely made me want to get going on some more sock knitting.

4. Speaking of sock knitting, I took Claudia's recommendation to heart, and bought myself a copy of a great little sock book. I have been checking the front step obsessively ever since I clicked "buy now" on Amazon. I also added another one to my wish list.

5. I have no knitting pictures, because although I knit on my Jaywalkers all the way to the Bronx on Friday, and have been making decent progress on Hanging Vines as well, they don't really look all that different from the last time I posted pictures of them. Hopefully next time I will have another pair of socks started. And no, I still haven't found my camera's USB cable.

6. Taz has been working really hard for the past month or two, and it seems to be paying off. He got a lot of praise from his boss last week, and an actual promotion looks very likely. I am so proud of him. He really deserves it. And it's even sweeter to realize that the same amount of professional advancement would have taken him at least six years at his old company.

7. I joined a gym today. Normally, I'm all about taking advantage of the great outdoors, but lately it has just been too hot to do anything more outside than stand still on the deck while watering the plants. That doesn't burn too many calories, I'm sorry to say. So the plan is to get up at a reasonably early hour tomorrow and hit the treadmill. With my feet, hopefully, not my head.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Hey, this is actually relaxing!

That was Marisa's verdict on knitting by the time I left her today. Phew! As I'm sure you can imagine, though, it was preceded by plenty of frustration and confusion. Here's a bit of a timeline:

2:00pm-4:00pm Pick out yarn and needles at LYS. Say hi to J and her daughter who are enjoying the AC and chatting with the owner. Pet absolutely every type of yarn in the shop. Laugh hysterically at the price of the 100% cashmere that initially attracts us. Decide instead on a much cheaper perfectly respectable alpaca in deep red. Briefly consider buying a swift, but then realize it's probably available at half the price online.

4:30pm-5:00pm After arriving home, wind hanks into yummy yarn cakes center-pull balls, using only a ball winder and Marisa's hands. Her triceps are totally ripped now.

5:00pm-6:00pm Practice the long-tail cast on. Rip out. Practice some more.

6:00pm-7:30pm The knit stitch. And the accidental yo. And the k2tog. Time for me to tink a little. More knit stitch. More accidental yos. OK, now we're finally starting to get some even rows. Wait, how many stitches did we cast on?

Marisa, all alone at home, decides that all those unintentional yos and k2togs are driving her crazy and frogs the whole thing. Then she very impressively manages to remember how to cast on and starts all over again. By the end of the day, there is about an inch and a half of scarf.

10:00am-11:00am Upon further inspection, it is decided that there really are a few too many oopsies in Scarf 2.0 as well (including an adorable little foot shape that sticks out to the side), and that if she leaves it as is, Marisa will be too embarrassed to ever wear her first scarf. And she's gonna need it in the frigid Connecticut winter after six years in balmy New Mexico. Frog it!

11:00am-12:00 Marisa casts on for a third time, all by herself and quite quickly. Practice definitely makes perfect. Making sure to count stitches often and catch herself before doing any more accidental yos, she knits a glorious inch-plus of beautiful, even garter stitch rows:

Scarf 3.0. Isn't it just gorgeous?

Congratulations, my dear sweet friend! You are now officially on the road to perdition. Bwah ha ha haaaaa!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Summer of socks! Help!

OK, so I'm sure many of you are signed up for the Summer of Socks KAL hosted by Zarzuela. Based on recent posts (and let's not talk about the meaning of "recent" here), one would never know that I'm signed up for it as well, but I am. I would love to say that I'm more than halfway done with my first pair, but to be honest, the Jaywalkers shown in the last post were cast on way back in late April, looong before the June 21 cast-on date for SoS. This means that I'd better get going on a new pair if I actually want to follow the rules (granted, rule-following is optional and even discouraged in many aspects of my life, but I don't want to get in trouble with Zarzuela).

Anyway, I need help deciding what to do. I am thinking of making a pair for my grandmother, who is reported to have made covetous remarks about the socks I gave my Mom for x-mas. This is the sock yarn that I currently have available:

Annell superwash wool-polamide (is that nylon?)

Aznar Plassard 100% Peruvian Alpaca

Artyarns Ultramerino in color #110

To be disgustingly selfish honest, I'd like to save the pink stuff for myself, even though I haven't yet decided on what pattern to make. Perhaps Pomatomus? Anyway, assuming I do choose to be selfish, that leaves the two blue ones. I think the alpaca is really soft and lovely, and my grandma would love the color. I'm just not sure if it would be too inelastic to work well as socks. Any expert opinions?

Then there's the issue of a pattern. If I use the alpaca, I will want something with an interesting texture (since there won't be any color changes to add interest). However, my grandma, who is in her late 90s, gets cold very easily and won't want any drafty lacework in her socks. I had a few thoughts about some of the patterns in this book, but I'm not sure how I would adapt the size, since most of the ones that have caught my eye are written for men's size 10 feet. I've also been looking at these two patterns from the new knitty. If anyone has other suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Next time: my adventures while teaching knitting basics to a friend who describes herself as "really impatient" and admits to "having anger issues."

And if I can find my camera's USB cable hopefully there will aso be some pics from the 4th of July trip to Philly. And maybe someday there will even be Grand Canyon pics (but apparently you shouldn't be holding your breath for that last one).