Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A crisis of faith

I finished my Olympic Knitting project. I had to push at the end, but I finished the collar (and sleeve lengths) before the closing ceremonies. It took me 90 minutes to set in each sleeve (180 minutes total, or 1 entire disc of Desperate Housewives).

Admittedly, I did a stunning job setting in one sleeve, and a so-so job setting in the other. (The so-so one is the one I did first.) I put it on, and I was horrified.

The fit? Perfect.

The yarn? Soft as a baby lamb.

The look? Made by loving hands at home. Not chic, or elegant. The yarn was tweedy and beautiful in the skein, but ... it doesn't make me proud.

I took it off, and abandoned it on the dining room table, for later judgment. (My projects often improve once we've had time apart.)

Last night, I modeled it for Andrew, Mom, and the dogs. Mom thinks changing the zipper's color (from cream to either mauve or pale blue) will drastically improve it. Andrew agreed. The dogs burped. (Not sure how to take that.)

I discussed the Olympic Sweater with the inimitable Dr. B. It turns out that I'm a process knitter. Who'da thunk it?

What I have learned is this: The more I enjoy spinning it, the more ghastly I will find it knits up.

"Show us a picture," you might be saying. "Let us decide!"

I will. Once the offending sweater returns from Mom's house.

Friday, August 22, 2008

All’s Well That Ends Well- a Review

First, I’d like to say that I know that this review was promised a couple of weeks ago. Two things have kept me from writing it: one, I was torn about whether it was the writing or the production I didn’t like, and two, life has completely overwhelmed me.

Luckily, and with help, I’ve managed to simplify my life by relinquishing some of the unnecessary stressers.

Event: All’s Well That Ends Well, Shakespeare Santa Cruz

Cost: Buy tickets here. Costs range from $12-$44. Ours were comp’ed.



The Review:

I didn’t like it. The problem is, I’m not familiar enough with the play to say, “I didn’t like it because of the production,” and I hesitate to say, “The writing lacked something,” because, well, it’s Shakespeare.

I think part of my issue is that I’m too modern to appreciate the value and humor of tricking a man into staying with you. I’m too modern to believe that (effectively) purchasing a spouse is not the way to find love.

I don’t think it was the casting- a lion’s share of the cast comes from the casts of Romeo and Juliet and Bach at Leipzig. Again, not sure if it was the writing or the delivery, but I found the gal playing Helena to be whiny and desperate, as opposed to a clever, sympathetic character.


I’m clearly not a fan of the story.

It’s playing at the lovely outdoor theater, and there’s a lot of eyecandy. If you like Shakespeare, you’re a fan of the play, and you don’t have plans, attend.

[Side note- Caitlin Fitzgerald, who plays Diana in this show, and was Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet" is on the cover of the Interweave Knits favorites book, wearing the Icarus Shawl. I think. According to a message board, she is purportedly Pam Allen's daughter.]

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jaws 2, and childhood memories

I like to have the television on as background noise when I'm doing mindless work. The Tivo picked up Jaws 2, which I haven't seen in years.

As I'm watching out of the corner of my eye, the first scene where you see the shark (second attack, first shark sighting), and the gal is waterskiing? My mom used to have the same shirt and bandanna as the woman driving the boat.

The shirt is gone, but the bandanna? On my countertop.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Slightly devastated

Maybe it's the migraine, but I'm a little devastated. (Can a person be "a little devastated"?)

I called our vet's office to ask her a question, and I found out - rather abruptly - that she's moved to London. (If you happen to live in London, her name is Dr. Susan Johnson, and she is fantastic.)

While the two other vets who work at the practice are very good, one lacks bedside manner, and the other is a fine vet, and has good bedside manner. But. They're not Dr. Johnson.

Before we had the dogs, she was our vet when we had pet rats. She treated them with the kind care that one should treat a beloved pet- regardless of their initial cost, size, or lifespan. One night, she kept the office open late for us because one of our beloved rats had an emergency, and the ER vets are terrible for small animals. She cared about our animals, and followed up on them with genuine concern.

Dr. Johnson helped us deal with Elphie's abuse, making sure she was comfortable at the vet and not traumatized. She did gentle exams, and would discuss the care of the dogs at length, answering any crazy questions we had. She spoke to the dogs in a kind voice, and moved at a pace that was comfortable for them. Mom says that she took care of us *and* our critters. Whole family care.

So, now we may be on the market for a new vet. I'm going to talk to the other gal at the practice, who was our first vet there (who we liked a fair amount), and get a feel for how she is with dogs. 'Fraidy-cat, mixed-breed dogs.

I know quite a few of my readers are local. If you love, love, love your vet, please shoot me an e-mail (or post their details in the comments) with their information. We need a vet who is skilled, gentle, and kind. (We liked Dr. Johnson so much that Andrew tried to convince her to move in with us.)

Dr. Susan Johnson DVM- if by chance you trip across this before I can get your e-mail address, thank you for the care you have taken of our family. Niki, Elphie, Macy, Cindy, and all the rest thank you. Andrew and I especially thank you.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dear Readers: Send a file in a cake.

Olympic progress: Both sleeves are just past decrease #2 (out of 9). I'd include pictures, but top-down raglan sleeves knit at the same time look kind of sad. Trust me, you'll be happier with the pictures of the sleeves attached.

So, if you don't know me in the real world, I'm a little overworked. (See Title.) But, I got a new organizational toy, so that should alleviate some of the stress of trying to manage being a hundred places at once. Now, I just need to be 99 places at once. Baby steps.

I've been working on finishing up organizing my home office, and somehow, this is making the rest of my house tidier. Maybe the other rooms heard about it and are trying to keep up. You know, for appearance's sake. Since the house is tidy, and I've been so exhausted, it's easy to just stay home and enjoy it.

[Here is where I'll add that not going out is also helping with keeping me on the right track with the Social Pressure Experiment.]

The dogs are doing their part to keep me on my toes- Niki is blowing his coat, and we've brushed Elphie's volume in fur off of him. So far. Thank heaven for the Dyson.

Andrew and I are talking about the work that needs to be done on the house. I hate remodeling, but I also think that we live in the Ugliest House Ever. Actually, our house isn't ugly-ugly. It's like really pretty people: lovely on the outside, and ugly as all get-out on the inside.

We've talked about redoing the electrical, the kitchen, the bathrooms, the closets, insulating and adding cabinets to the garage, and/or adding a second story. I'm trying to convince him that it would be a really good idea to put in a hot tub FIRST, so that when we're done slaving for the day, we can go for a soak. So far, he's not going for it, but I'm not giving up yet.

The idea of going through a remodel is giving me hives, emotionally. I have no desire to live in construction, and we're going to have to do some sort of doggie day care while people are working on the house. The saving grace of my current job is that I can work from home while we have people working on the house, so we won't be bled *completely* dry during the process.

Coming soon: some semi-FO pictures of the sweater, and the office!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Houston? We have sleeves!

I mentioned having to do a little math to make the body of the sweater work with the yarn that I had. I finished the body of the sweater on Monday night, which left me with no Olympic knitting until I did some math for the sleeves.

So, the process goes like this:

Step 1: Reverse the shaping on the sleeve so that I can knit it top-down, and to the right length.
Step 2: Check math with a calculator.
Step 3: Taking the gauge of the yarn in consideration, rewrite the sleeve with the appropriate number of sts/rows. Proportion is fun!
Step 4: Check math again.

This took maybe 15-20 mins, and then I got started on the sleeves. One night of knitting, two episodes of MI-5, and I'm down to just under the armhole (neck down, not bottom up). On both sleeves. Mom thinks I'll finish it by the end of the week.

I won't hold my breath.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Shocking progress

So, it turns out that I'm not as slow a knitter as I thought. I have made some real progress since casting on Friday night.

See, I decided to knit both fronts and the back in one piece up to the armholes to save me some seaming time later on in the game. The key to competition is being able to look ahead: I'm not going to seam more than absolutely necessary. This makes every row pretty long, but it assures that the pieces will be the same length.

Sunday morning, I took the Olympic Ribbi Cardi along to see The Dark Knight. Before we went into the movie, it was 11" worth of body, see:

olympic sweater 11inches

Please forgive the terrible color quality of the photo. It turns out that coffee houses aren't known for their spectacular lighting. Who knew?

(Side note: As I was about to take the picture, the guy next to me had his glass mug of coffee spontaneously explode. Maybe that Maine waitress was right about me having an unusual super-power...)

During the movie, I hit the necessary 14" on the body. At this point, I can't move on because I'm trying to be a courteous movie patron and NOT use my cell phone as a light to read the next steps on the pattern. So, I sat (relatively) still and watched the movie.

I thought it was fantastic. I didn't like a few subtle changes to the classic story, but I loved the casting choices. Also, I love the cleft in Aaron Eckhart's chin. (I kind of want to lick it. Is that weird?) Give me a glass of wine and a copy of that DVD, and I'll deconstruct for HOURS.

The Social Pressure experiment is going well; I'm noticing that sometimes, I want to buy yarn because I'm in the mood to buy yarn. The thing is this: I've been organizing my office (using the awesome new shelving that Andrew and I built), and it's made me very aware of how much yarn and roving I actually have. Very, very aware.

I've been alternating the Olympic Knitting with organizing my office and spinning up some Pigeonroof Studios Superwash Merino (in "Mushroom Caps"), I've been making sure to reduce repetitive stresses by changing activity regularly.

Oh, and as of tonight, I'm done with the body of my sweater. All that's left are the sleeves, collar, and zipper edging.

Friday, August 8, 2008


So, I mentioned that I would be swatching for the Knitting Olympics/Ravalympics. I did my swatch last night, and it was not what I expected.

For the Ribbi Cardi, the gauge is listed at 19 sts/4 inches in st st. That comes down to 4.74 sts/inch.

My swatch, with the density and drape that I wanted, worked out to 4.34 sts/inch. That's bigger. When I did the math, it made the (orignal) directions for the 34" bust to be closer to 41". Since I don't want an oversized garment, I've found a way to make it work with the handspun.

Now, I just have to knit the sweater. Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Preparing for competition

Hello, darling readers.

This week has been really crazy- between Those Who Pay My Bills making demands on my time, our 7th anniversary, Olympic Training, and the Great Organization Binge of 2008, I’ve been a little busy.

I’ll be doing a review of Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s “All’s Well That Ends Well”- but don’t get excited, it’s not a glowing review. I’m also participating in the 2008 Knitting Olympics/Ravelympics, and if all goes well, when all is said and done, I’ll have a handspun, handknit Ribbi Cardi. I’ll blog around it, but I honestly think that it’s going to be a real challenge to knit it in a couple of weeks, especially given that I’m not taking time off work to compete.

I have informed my Olympic Support Staff (Andrew and the dogs) that they should be prepared to deal with me being less involved in the household tasks, as I am in competition as of tomorrow.

If you’re participating, good luck. I think we’re all going to need it.

Friday, August 1, 2008

FO’ing like it’s going out of style

Since Tika and I began the Social Pressure experiment, I have been more … motivated to finish lingering, half-finished projects. Maybe it’s the feeling of completion. Maybe it’s the feeling of VICTORY. Maybe it’s the wine.

So, between seeing Bach at Leipzig and Romeo and Juliet, I finished three pairs of socks. Granted, all three pairs were half-done long ago, but, per the terms of our agreement, a FO is a FO is a FO.

The first FO are the Cascade Heritage socks.

Product: Cascade Heritage
Product Description: 75% Superwash Merino Wool/ 25% Nylon
Cost: $17.95 – but mine was given to me to review on the Podcast.


Heritage Sock

Heritage CU


I really like knitting with this yarn. The stitch definition is fantastic, and the colors are great. I haven't washed them yet, so we'll see how the color and fabric wears.

The Second FO is my pair of Regia Silk socks, in 0190.

Product: Regia Silk Color
Product Description: 55% wool, 20% silk, 25% nylon
Bought from: Nine Rubies, $9.95/ball

Regia 0109 fini

Regia 0109 CU


Another great yarn with excellent stitch definition. This specific colorway was totally unappealing in the skein, but much prettier as a pair of completed socks. It feels wonderful, but since they're recently finished, I can't speak as to how they wash and wear. It's great to knit with, though.

The Third FO is my pair of “She’s like a Rainbow” handspun socks.

Product: Crown Mountain Superwash Merino
Product Description: Handpainted SW merino roving, "She's like a rainbow"
Bought from: Crown Mountain Farms . Cost was around $16.20 (co-op pricing).

She's Like a Rainbow- Roving

She's like a rainbow- CU

She's like a rainbow- CU




I've always loved spinning the Crown Mountain Superwash. This spun up at a fingering weight, and knit up really well. And look at those colors!