Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ack! Would you look at the time?

Here I sit with my feet up doing nothing when I've got so much to get done.  I need to return those pants to Moosejaw because they make my ass look enormous, go through the clothes I need to pack and locate the suitcase in which to pack them.  Finding the cooler shouldn't be too difficult since--thanks to LG--we need to use it every 6 weeks when the refrigerator goes on the fritz.  I still have to get some banking done, pick up some Deep Woods Off, chase those dust bunnies out of the house and go buy a monster size bag of strawberry Twizzlers.  No driving vacation is complete without them in my book and driving 1700 miles one way?  Hmmm....maybe I need two bags.  Tomorrow I'll get a haircut and then we'll check to see how close I am to achieving the hairstyle I had my sites set on last November.  What yarn will I take?  What projects will I knit?  Should I even consider packing my wheel?  There's just so much to do and sitting here thinking about it isn't getting it done.  It's only making my to-do list longer.

But I am all caught up on Breaking Bad.  Must be a record...4 full seasons in 2 short weeks.  I never thought it possible, but I think Walter may be more inhuman than Gus.

On second thought, maybe it's not my to-do list that's given me this anxiety. It's Walter.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The easy bits

Like the messiest room in the house that just isn't seen, this is the private side of the blanket.  It will look better once the ends are woven into the piece.
When I began the porcupine blanket, I was really annoyed that the brown border transitions were  getting in the way of quick knitting, and then I got to the first porcupine and realized those side bits were easy.  It was juggling all those butterflies in the porcupine that was hard!  And there weren't that many color transitions.  I'm not wild about this intarsia method, but it really is the only way to get the job done.  I got away with a bit of fair isle--much easier to strand--on the legs, but once I was on the body proper, well the easy part was done.  The pink on either side was accomplished using separate butterflies.  So, yes, enough was going on with all those strands of yarn that I was slowed considerably.

Now one critter is done with only two to go.  

Today will be a day of transitional stripes.  I don't expect I'll see all those butterflies again for a couple of days.  Next go around, I'll be more generous in how much yarn I wrap in the butterfly.  I cut it close with the brown body and didn't need to add more yarn, but when I say close, I mean one more row and I'd have had two additional brown ends to weave into the work.  It was the same with the white.  Next time, bigger butterflies!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

I'm twisted

Intarsia knitting, while certainly beautiful, is challenging enough that I usually avoid at all costs.  It's the bobbins of yarn and the twisting that make me nuts--not to mention the weaving of all of those ends--and every single time I finish a row, I have to straighten out the twisted strands.  For someone who likes to pound out the knitting, slowing down to put yarn aright is frustrating.

If you're trying to keep track...that's four live "bobbins" of yarn and one live ball of yarn.  Each of those strands, and one you can't see in the picture,  get used on every single row.  Oy.
My hand made butterflies of yarn, while light, have a tendency to unroll themselves and this is kind of maddening, too, but I can't seem to find my plastic bobbins, so I've been making do.  If you twist your butterflies too loosely, they unravel and if you twist them too tightly, you can't get the center to unravel when you need it to do so.  The butterfly happy medium remains illusive.

But...oh, the beauty of such a piece cannot be underestimated.

Bottom to top we have garter stitch, stockinette stripes and seed stitch.  It's the sides of the blanket and the porcupines that make up the intarsia.  The dark body of the porcupine will be adorned with a bazillion strands of fringe that will look like quills when all is said and done. It promises to be a textural delight. 
Progress is extremely slow because while I can knit in the dark, I can't do intarsia in the dark and last night we abruptly lost power when an electrical substation two miles away caught fire.  It plunged us into immediate darkness (not to mention sweltering heat) and brought an abrupt end to the activities of the evening--right at a crucial part of Breaking Bad Season 2, episode 8, and smack in the middle of the porcupine's body.

Today will be a better day in terms of the weather.  Yesterday's high was 102 degrees with a heat index of, oh, 112 degrees (what the air really felt like).  Sometime during the night, the power returned and the high is forecast for only 88 degrees.  I'm afraid to say the words aloud, so don't tell anyone, but it is raining.  Finally.  We've gone 2 weeks without a drop and today we're getting some.  There will be porch knitting today.

If I weren't working later on, I'd call the day near perfect.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Not fit.

I'm feeling rather prickly today and I don't know why.  Maybe it's this blasted never ending heat and humidity which means I'll have another day I have to spend in the confines of a centrally air conditioned home that makes me ill humored.  Or maybe it's because--and only my inability to say no is to blame here--I haven't had a day off work in a week.  Or perhaps it's because I cleaned the hell out of the kitchen and someone reheated something with red sauce in the microwave, failed to cover the dish and left the mess for the imaginary maid to clean.  Who knows?

I'm feeling bitchy.

I'm going to go down to that basement, catch up on past seasons of Breaking Bad (how have I missed this stellar series?) and knit the hell out of this Porcupine Blanket.  I think it's the perfect project that reflects how I feel.  Though the "quills" are actually yarny fringe, the 3D effect is really quite fetching.

This blankie will be a gift for a colleague who had a baby girl.  That's why I used the cliched color pink, but I rather like the way it's coming together.  I'm hoping the act of knitting such a humorous piece will set me to right again.  Of course, if that's what I really wanted, I'd not have chosen intarsia with its mess of bobbins and tangled yarn to deal with, but that's a knitting story for another day.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

There goes the neighborhood

We've been doing a little sprucing up around here, starting with the front porch.  We replaced the rails and steps and then had them stained in a beautiful shade of green (Woodland by Sherwin Williams).  Is it gray?  Is it green?  I think I see some blue.  Add a pop of red for the trim (Wine Country--also SW paint) and the green really stands out.  

And now it's beginning to feel like my own little oasis in a city.  Today I was on the hunt for more things to brighten this spot, but came back from Pier 1 Imports with only coffee mugs.   Six of them!  How did that happen?  I'll tell you how that happened--I broke a mug this week and was missing it terribly.  I thought, hmm, that lime green one is pretty, but it should have some friends.  That's how you go shopping for a welcome mat and come home with coffee mugs. 

After allowing the stain to cure for a full 48 hours, I finally got my porch back.  While lugging the furnishings back where they belong, I noticed the post and mailbox were looking rather drab, so they got a fresh coat of paint, too.

I couldn't resist a photo of Stoney as a bird perch. 

While I was painting the post, my neighbor came outside and mentioned that maybe they would paint their porch, too.  This is the neighbor who points out every little thing she sees wrong with my house, but can't see past her own peeling paint.  I won't hold my breath waiting to see their porch done as I don't think they've done a lick of work on that house in the 30 years they've been the owners.  You can see the side of their house just over Stoney's shoulder and now I'm wondering, what should I put up there to close it all in and make it more private while simultaneously improving the view.  Metal art?  A decorative flag?  Plants? A trellis?

What would you put there?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Gearing up!

Note the countdown clock on the side.  Our trip doesn't seem that far away now, does it?  With that in mind, we did a little shopping today and I bought a new pair of hiking shoes using my usual shoe shopping criteria:

1.  Are they ugly?  Yes, hideously so.

2.  Are they a trusted brand you know will fit your Fred Flintstone-like feet?  Indeed they are!

3.  Can you picture yourself wearing them at your destination?  I can, I can!


I also bought one pair of breathable hiking pants, 3 pair of hiking socks and a permethrin impregnated shirt.  If the mosquitos are as bad as I hear they are, well I'm not giving them an opportunity to feed on me.  It was my world traveling sister who taught me about the mosquito repellant clothing a few years ago when she had to use it while working in Papua New Guinea or some such malaria infested place.  It also repels ticks and black flies.  I'm going to see how well it works sitting on my front porch as I have accumulated about 6 mosquito bites out there this week despite my Off brand candles, Clip Ons and spray.  By the way, the shirt is kind of cute, which totally goes against my shoe shopping criteria.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Holy Heatwave, Batman!

It's freaking disgusting in Detroit.  Though we've enjoyed some heavy rains over the past few days, neighborhoods around us took the brunt of those storms.  As soon as the rains would pass, the sun would come back out and relief was short lived.  After 5 minutes, it felt like a sauna.  The newscasters said yesterday they were sure all of us were awakened by the early morning thunder.  Not me.  I slept soundly.  Someone I work with couldn't leave her home yesterday due to a tree having relocated itself to her driveway.  She lives a mile from me and still I heard nothing.  We did get some hail on the 4th.  I was on the porch when it was coming down and flying sideways.  It stung when the marble sized pellets of ice hit my legs.  That was one long two day chain of storms that was so hit and miss, I'm sure some got no precious rain at all.

Today's high temp of 100 degrees--coupled with the dew point of 74-- means we'll have a temperature that feels like 114 degrees. While there appears to be a break in the forecast, we've got a ways to go before we can breathe a sigh of relief...let alone breathe at all.

Stay cool my friends.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


What tremendous losses we've had this week.  First Nora Ephron and then Andy Griffith.  I always watched everything Andy Griffith starred in and usually liked him no matter what he did.  To me, he seemed genuine, wise and kind.

The loss of Nora Ephron was particularly saddening.  I recall reading I Feel Bad About My Neck, and when I got to the part about her best friend dying of oral cancer, well, I could barely read the words through the tears streaming down my face.  Her grief was palpable and my heart was broken for her.  That book was passed from friend to friend and I've no idea where it finally landed.  Each time that I know it was passed on to someone, I always gave a warning to take care near the end.  All of my friends cried when they read that chapter, too.  Call me sappy, but I adored her movies and books.  I will never turn the channel on When Harry Met Sally, or Sleepless in Seattle, and I particularly loved, You've Got Mail.  Her hope for relationships, romance and love shine through each and every movie.

One of Nora's books was missing from my collection though, and that was Heartburn.  It's her thinly veiled autobiography of her breakup and divorce from Carl Bernstein and was both funny and sad.  The book is peppered with recipes that she recalls making during certain parts of their marriage and divorce.  In honor of the many happy hours Nora Ephron's writing has given me, I decided to make a few of the recipes from Heartburn this week.

Her Linguine alla Cecca was delicious.  Though local tomatoes are still hard to find, the heirlooms from Canada, while expensive, are really tasty.  I got the basil from my own garden.  My family devoured this dish and the recipe was passed along to a friend who was visiting.  If you want to try it (it's so simple), you can find the recipe here, though I really do recommend getting it from the book just for the stories that go with the dishes.

For the 4th of July, I was torn.  Do I bake the peach pie with the sour cream cookie style crust, or do I bake her cheesecake and top it with fresh strawberries and blueberries?  I settled on the cheesecake since the berries make it look festive for the holiday. Though it was easy to make, delicious, smooth and creamy, next time I'll use 3/4 cup of the sugar.  The cake was too sweet for me.  I'm fairly certain you can google her name together with cheesecake and the recipe will pop up.

Last night I rented You've Got Mail.  I cried a bit at the end--not when the heroine lost her store--but because we lost such a wonderful talent this past week.  I will truly miss her.  I'm so glad she left pieces of herself behind for us to enjoy.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

What are the odds...

  1.  I would have a second relatively new appliance quit in the same week?
  2.  That I could not literally throw in the towel because, hey, they are all in the appliance that quit working?
  3.  That I would nonchalantly shrug it off, make an appointment for repair (Thursday is the soonest), and hang my clean laundry out to dry in the scorching heat?
  4.  That as soon as I got the laundry hung over the rails, it would begin to rain?  A deluge.
  5.  That the moment the skies opened up, I was outside checking the lint thingymajig to be sure a bird hadn't nested in there?
  6.  That I am now soaked and so are the towels?

I give up.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

It wasn't half bad.

 I didn't get a single call for the midnight shift last night, though I pretty much got my fanny handed to me on the front half of that 16 hour marathon.  Miraculously, I was able to get some sleep, even if it was the usual type of sleep I get with one eye open.  Instead of a deep slumber, I felt like I was hovering around full consciousness for the entire time I slept.

Sock knitting and the Peleton.  
I've been knitting socks again.  I know that shouldn't seem like big news, but it sort of is.  I can't really recall the last time I knit a pair for myself.  I've knit a few singletons that have suffered from single sock syndrome: languishing as only socks can because I was bored with the pattern, or the yarn, or both.  I have a few of those going on around here, now lost in one of several project bags. It's sort of too hot to knit anything but the tiniest of woolen items, so socks are perfect.  Besides, I'm down to only a couple of pair to wear that aren't full of holes.

This sock won't suffer the same lonely fate as the others.  I like the yarn that my friend hand dyed and I love Stephanie's Lismore Cable Socks pattern, and though typically one would not pair this busy variegated yarn and pattern together, I'm not minding.  If I'd chosen a more solid yarn, those cables would really pop.  I made a couple of mistakes in the pattern by failing to follow the designer's instructions, but that's really OK.  The errors are nothing critical.  I wrote notes all over my Goodreader copy so I can remember to make the same "mistakes" on sock two.  And there will be a sock two.

Back in March, I purchased the Nancy Bush book, Folk Socks.  This morning I was perusing that book and planning my next pair of socks.  Something simple, I think.  Something to knit with Bearfoot yarn from Mountain Colors--which is in Montana-- in the Crazy Woman colorway.  Something I'll wear to pad around that house in Ennis, Montana 37 days from today.

But who's counting?  Me.  I'm counting days, but first I have to get through the next 16 hours.  Please, please, if there was ever a time for a duplicate day, this is it.