Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Ten on Tuesday--TV

10 Guilty Pleasures on TV

1. Clean House
2. ER reruns
3. Law & Order reruns (except the "Criminal Intent" series. Can't stand the guy doing his "Columbo" imitation.)
4. Ummm...hmmm...well...

Huh. Ten on Tuesday FAIL. I just don't watch much TV. And honestly, I don't feel any guilt about the above list. OK, "Clean House" is a reality show, which I sort of object to just because I think reality is wayyyy overdone, but I do like seeing everyone else's mess. And it always, always spurs me into cleaning out a cupboard or a drawer or something. So I think that counts as educational TV. No, make that "inspirational" TV. The other two should go into the "educational" category, because how else would I know about basic police procedure or what to do in a trauma room: "Bag him, cross-type, C-spine & chest films, chem 7, glucose and BA levels, and call a surgeon for a consult. Someone get me a cut-down tray!" (Well, it might be useful someday.)

Occasionally I catch part of "Mythbusters" while hubby's watching, and I end up getting sucked in purely for the fun of seeing the unmitigated glee with which the one guy blows things up on a regular basis. See how much I pay attention? I don't know what his name is, but the bigger the blast or wreckage for him, the better. It's fun to see someone enjoy his job so much.

I'm slogging around today with "brain fog" due to fibromyalgia. I've noticed that I had a spell of feeling better a couple of weeks ago, but it's slipped away. Oddly enough (sarcasm here because exercise is the one thing that you MUST do with FM,) the good spell coincided with the few days that I went to the ice arena and skated a bit. Not much--only about a half hour each time. I have no leg or core muscle strength, so no jumps or spins like I used to do. Plus I'm terrified of falling. So all I did was go slowly around the rink. After the first time back I got up the courage to skate backwards a little, but my balance is still shaky. I feel old.

So I'd better get back on the exercise wagon ASAP. At least ice skating is something I enjoy, and it's cool in the rink! That's always a plus!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Finished Projects!

Yes! I have five, count 'em, FIVE finished projects for the 52 Projects in 52 Weeks group on Ravelry. What a great group. It meshes so neatly with the blog and may actually cause some major finishing activity on my part. Shazam!

Here we have the Blue Heron Bulky Chenille scarf. Again, it's one of those colorways that just doesn't do well in photographs, especially with all the texture. I got this at a discount from my LYS because it was a tangled mess and the owner gave up and sold it to me for half-price. I love a deal, don't you? It was well worth the time spent untangling it, and was a quick K3P3 pattern that I knitted a little loose. I washed it and threw it in the dryer, so it shrank and softened into a lovely kittenish feel. Definitely a success.

Here are the finished Numma Numma Toasty socks. I showed them a few posts back, and you can see the color a little better here, but it's still not perfect. The other picture was too dark; this one is too light, so imagine it in between, and you'll have it. These socks feel fabulous on my feet, and I keep stalking The Loopy Ewe, hoping to grab more. Though more sock yarn is not something I really need right now!

This is a sampler I started about five years ago, in memory of my best friend who was killed in a hit-and-run accident back in 1993. Since I started it, several other close friends have passed away, so it's kind of a memorial of all those I've loved and lost. I do have hope of seeing them all again in the resurrection promised in the Scriptures, so this has not been a sad project--more of a reminder that we can enjoy each other's company again in the future.

I'd already made one of these Noro Striped Scarves, and I haven't the faintest idea where, when, or why I bought more Kureyon to make another, but this is another easy, quick project. I do find myself sort of buried in scarves, so I may have to think about who might like a scarf this winter. Or I may be a selfish pig and keep them all for me me me!!

As I was working on this scarf, it occured to me that I could spin my own two colorways and get the exact shades I want for another of these scarves. I must put that on my to-do list. I foresee a pleasant afternoon spent at the local fiber shop (and yes, I live close to a LFS that has a terrific fiber selection) choosing the colors to spin for My Very Own Striped Scarf In Exactly The Shades I Want.

Last, but absolutely not least, I have actually finished a sweater!! Staggering, isn't it? This was started on May 11 and finished on June 27, so that's a pretty short length of time for me, at least when it comes to finishing big projects. True, I might have gotten it done sooner if I hadn't been knitting socks and scarves and whatnot, but the 52 Project thing means I have to whip out a quickie project now and then to stay on track.

The pattern for this called for two colorways, just like the Striped Scarf, but I had these 12 balls of one color, so I just juggled the two balls a bit as I was knitting so the colors wouldn't fall next to each other. Sometimes it didn't quite work, especially as there's so much orange in this colorway (note the bottom of the sleeve--that's what I mean) but I love how it came out. It looks very Kaffe Fasset-ish to me. I'm not thrilled with the neckline (because I knitted two extra rounds, and it's too much) and I made the sleeves too long, but I'm still happy with it. I may get up the gumption to rip out those two extra rounds on the neckline and cut off an inch of the sleeves, but for right now I'm just going to pet it.

I feel quite pleased with myself. Finishing is such a kick! Oh, and just wait until you see the Girasole! The Ranco Multy was an inspired choice (ok, not so much a choice as the only thing I had in the stash that I thought would work. Close enough to inspired for me.) I have my slant issues worked out, so it's proceeding at an unusually rapid pace. That's my kind of knitting!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

It's All Wendy's Fault

I tried to resist this, I really did. I'm supposed to be finishing projects. You know, that whole "52 Projects in 52 Weeks" thing I've been writing about? But after following Wendy's progress on her Girasole shawl, and finally seeing the finished project I could hold out no longer. I rummaged through the boxes of yarn stacked in the stash room, and finally found the skeins of Ranco Multy I bought on sale last year from Little Knits. * (Naturally, it took quite a bit of rummaging because they turned out to be in the one box I set aside because I knew that yarn couldn't be in that box, because that box was specifically for lace yarn, so there was no possible way I could have put fingering weight/sock yarn in that box because that box was clearly the laceweight box, so of course the Ranco would not be in that box. It was in that box. Right on top.)

Sooo, I paid for and downloaded the pattern, did a small swatch that clearly was not correct, said the heck with a swatch because it will block out fine anyway, tossed those needles in a box and put the pattern, new needles (guesstimating the correct size this time), and yarn in a basket, took my sleeping pill, and tottered off to bed.

I put on the iPod like I usually do, and waited to drift off to the sweet strains of Joshua Bell's violin. But I couldn't stop thinking about that shawl. Finally, I got up, retreived the basket and cast on.

Oh, it was blissful. I sat cross-legged on the bed, listening to the violin, knitting, frogging the first circular cast-on and casting on again without even muttering under my breath, working my way through round after round. I finished Chart A and started Chart B before my brain gave out somewhere around 1AM. Sometime around 4AM I woke up and thought about the shawl, but forced myself to resist the temptation. I'm not totally insane.

I woke to someone pounding on the door at 10AM to tell me the power company was going to be trimming our trees. Ok, whatever. I staggered back to the bed, picked up the basket, rubbed away the sleepy dust in my eyes, and started working the rest of Chart B. Before coffee. (Anyone see where this is going yet?)

Dum dee dum dee dum...Chart B was a breeze, and I finished it and decided it might be a good idea to have some coffee and get dressed before noon at least. I got dressed, made my tea (not coffee because the coffee pot was still dirty from yesterday because some slob around here spends more time knitting than housekeeping), and carried the tea and the basket into the sun room and settled in to start Chart C. Dum dee dum dee d...WHAT THE...???

Now let me say that this is a terrific pattern. The charts are clear and large, and the instructions are well-written with plenty of helpful tips. Anyone could make this pattern. Seriously. Anyone, that is, who can read and follow instructions and remember that a right-slanting slash means "knit 2 together" and a left-slanting slash means "slip, slip, knit" (or is it the other way around?) It's an important distinction (and I strongly advise that you look it up for yourself because I truly cannot remember at this point), and I have certainly done enough lace in my life that I should know by now which slanty line means what. I got it exactly WRONG for all of Chart B, which I found out as soon as I started Chart C.

Oh, the wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth!! Well, not really. Since I had no coffee onboard, I simply didn't have the energy. I just muttered under my breath, figured out where Chart A ended, and ripped back to that point. Which is why you can see what appears to be an entire skein of yarn that has exploded in the basket in the photo above. It's really the former part of the shawl I was going to blog about, and that post was going to have an entirely different feel to it. The joy!! The delight!! But it was not to be.

By the way, I have now carefully written on the chart exactly what a right-slanting line and a left-slanting line mean. And I certainly don't blame Wendy for my slant issues. It's just that this wouldn't have happened if she hadn't made such a pretty shawl, and that wouldn't have happened if Sheri hadn't started the KAL, but it's really Jarod's fault for inventing beautiful patterns that contain those pesky slanty stitches.

*I would have bought the yarn from Sheri for this shawl, since she's the one that started the KAL, but I'm trying very hard to knit from my stash. (Mostly that's so I can rationalize that since I'm knitting from stash, I'm not really violating the spirit of the "52 Project" plan.) So, Sheri, I apologize. It's tacky to be KALing with one shop while using another shop's yarn, I know. But trust me, hon. I'll make it up to you, especially if I can ever hit the website at the exact same moment the Wollmeise gets put up!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ten on Tuesday

Ok, I'll play along. These are in no special order, just typing them as they come to mind. Oh, and I know that figure skating and gymnastics are not considered sports by some people, but I don't think two guys getting in a ring and beating the living crap out of each other is a sport, so to each his/her own.

 10 Favorite Sports Moments Ever:
  • Al Michaels screaming, "Do you believe in miracles? YESSSSS!"
  • Sarah Hughes coming from nowhere to win the gold medal in figure skating in the (what year?) Winter Olympics
  • The first time I saw Olga Korbut's backflip on the uneven parallel bars in the 1972 Olympics
  • Seeing Hank Aaron hit the home run in 1974 that took him past Babe Ruth's record
  • Seeing the Cincinnati Reds sweep the World Series in 1990
  • Franz Klammer's amazing and scary all-out downhill skiing run for the gold medal in the 1976 Winter Olympics
  • Jennifer Capriati's ace for match point in the finals of the Australian Open against Martina Hingis (what year??)
  • Pretty much anything Roger Federer does. The guy moves like a cat. He's a joy to watch.
  • Pete Sampras' serve that literally blew a hole through the racquet strings of Pat Rafter in an ATP match 
  • The drop shot I hit in a doubles match that left our opponents standing open-mouthed six feet from the net wondering how the heck that ball hit the court and died the way it did. (Hey, nobody said they had to be professional sports moments, did they?)
As you can see, I have an extremely limited frame of reference for sports. I'm sure I've seen some other great moments, but I can't put names and times to them. So I guess that's what "memorable" means, eh? I would have included Torvill & Dean's gold medal-winning performace to "Bolero" in the 1984 Winter Olympics, but if figure skating is iffy for some folks as a sport, ice dancing is really questionable. I don't care one way or another, but it was a beautiful performance (which word is probably what disqualifies it as being "sport." Whatever.)

The funny thing about the first one is that I never watch hockey. I just happened to be home that evening, sick with strep throat. My parents were gone, and I was lying in the recliner too sick to care what was on TV. The Olympics were on, it was hockey, what the heck. I'd watch. It didn't take long for me to forget about the strep throat. That was one amazing game. Ya gotta love it when the underdog wins!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

On Track...Sort Of...

I've been working hard at the "52 Projects" goal. I've finished three things (yeah, yeah...I WILL do pictures soon) and have numbers 4 and 5 almost done. Actually, one of them is the Noro sweater I was working on during our death trip drive to Knoxville last month, and all I have to do is sew the side seams, take care of a few yarn ends, and steam the neckline a bit. Why, then, am I procrastinating so? I could have had this stupid sweater done a week and a half ago if I'd just gotten busy and blocked it. I finally did that, which of course was not nearly the pain-in-the-neck I'd expected it to be, so I should have zoomed right through the rest of it. Well, I did have to pick up and knit around the V-neck, but that was pretty mindless. It has taken me two days to sew in the sleeves, and I simply cannot force myself to pick up (hah--I originally typed "puke up") that needle and finish sewing the sides. I'd better come up with some sort of reward to spur myself on. Nothing is coming to mind. This is serious resistance. 
The other almost-done project is a Noro striped scarf. You know, the one made popular by Jared of brooklyn tweed. (BTW, I also want to make the Girasole and the Hemlock Ring off that website. He's a talented guy and I should totally stop reading his blog. New patterns I need like I need a root canal.) My scarf is turning out really well--I'm happy with the colors I chose, though I really cannot recall when or where I bought the yarn. I find that disturbing. Anyway, I do have a question. Why is it that when I have two balls of yarn in two completely different colorways that share, say, ohhhh, a yard or two of the roughly the same color, those two colors will ALWAYS end up being right next to each other in the stripe pattern?? Why why why???

I also finished a cross-stitch project. Now, technically, this "52 Project" group on Ravelry is for knitting, crocheting, and spinning. But I did ask the moderator if cross-stitch and needlepoint would be okay to include and she was fine with it. That's good because I have about 87 cross-stitch projects in plastic baggies waiting to be made. You think I'm kidding? (Note to self: take picture of vintage suitcase containing cross-stitch projects and post on blog. Or maybe not.)  This was another "procrastinated" project, and it was all because of one teeny fact that I had never grasped until now. If you are working a project that has "over one" stitches (meaning you work the 'x' over the intersection of two perpendicular threads instead of four, which also means that the said 'x' is extreeeemely tiny) you really, really should not use fabric that is of a higher thread count than 28 threads per inch. It's a major headache. Sooo, this project has an entire verse in "over one", and I did it on 32-count linen. AND I MADE A GLARING MISTAKE BECAUSE I CAN'T COUNT. So that had to be (carefully) pulled out and redone. Maybe that's why I can't finish the Noro sweater. I used up my motivation on that stupid blankety-blank cross-stitched verse. But it's done now, only five years after I started it, and since it's a "mourning" sampler in remembrance of a lost friend, I'm glad it's finished. Now I have to come up with the funds to frame it. Speaking of which...

...I've added an Amazon store widget at the bottom of the page. So just in case you're jonesing for a Kindle or several hundred a few books or CDs, well...you know...there's a convenient link right down there at the bottom. Look down there. See? It's right there, right at the bottom of the page. Just sayin'.

The family is fairly well. Mom struggles on, daughter-in-law is discovering the joys of early-pregnancy fatigue, and Rugrat's mother is discovering the joys of ER visits with the Rugrat. Apparently Rugrat fell off a slide at the McDonald's Playland while she was visiting with her father yesterday and knocked herself out. Daddy said when he got to her, he couldn't wake her up for about ten seconds or so. Off to the ER, but everything checked out fine, and she's on her usual tear through the house today, or so I've heard. Really, these things are harder on the parents (and grandparents) than they ever are on the kids. I still shudder over accidents my kids had that they don't even remember!

I'm doing my usual grousing at the hot weather. I've spent four days out of the last ten dealing with heat and/or exercise induced migraines, so I'm looking forward to October already. I really need to find another climate to live in. Is there anywhere in the world where it's October year-round? I'd even take October through March year-round if it could be had. Oh well. I stay inside with the AC on high and continue to work on the Projects. Three down, 49 to go. At least for this year.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Do I Get a Prize?

That would be for being the world's worst blogger. I'm always stunned to see how many days weeks have passed between blogs. It's not as if I'm doing nothing. I am still knitting and playing violin and doing housework. Ok, I'm not really doing housework. At least not regularly. Sometimes something comes over me and I have a momentary spasm of cleaning, but it passes quickly. I did clean the bathroom yesterday. But that cleaning urge is now but a faint memory, though I do feel a let's-move-the-computer-out-of-the-bedroom-and-into-the-freshly-painted-office-that-was-formerly-the-Rugrat's-room-where-it-belongs twitch. I hope it lasts until DH gets home, because it's not something I can do alone, and I do so look forward to having a bedroom that actually looks like a bedroom, not a computer room that also happens to house a king-size bed.

We have had some familial excitement around here the past month. My mother was taken ill on the trip home from vacation, and had to be hospitalized for a week in a town five hours away. It looked pretty serious at first, so my brother and his wife, my two kids, and I jumped in my son's mini-whatever-it-is (not a van, but not quite a car either) and headed down there to check in on her and Dad. Fortunately, she's home and recovering, but it was a bit iffy for a while. It would have been a great trip if it hadn't been for her illness. My family's way of dealing with stress and worry is to get stupid and silly and laugh at inappropriate times for totally inappropriate reasons. It's a good thing my sister-in-law is used to this, otherwise it would have been an extreeeeeeemely long trip for her. As it was, I think she was ready to disown us all. And we had to laugh hysterically to cover the fact that we were gripping the door handles in sheer terror as my son zoomed through the mountains of southern Kentucky/northern Tennessee during a raging storm. It was dark, but I know the view over Jellico, TN quite well, thankyouverymuch. I'm not sure if it would have been better if we had been able to see. The imagination tends to work a little overtime in such situations. And my son did NOT learn to drive that fast from me!

So Mom is home and doing as well as can be expected. Aaaaaand....I found out I'm going to be a Grandma, er, Mimi again!! My son's wife is expecting in January! How's that for excitement? It hasn't really sunk in yet, and I've only just begun to think about possible knitting projects. I do have plenty of yarn left over from the great cotton blanket I knitted for the Rugrat, so I guess she and her cousin-to-be will have matching blankets. I think I'm hoping it's a boy. But OK...I guess I can make do with another granddaughter. Heavy sigh. If I must.

We've had the Rugrat over to spend the night once since Missy's wedding. Pappy took her out to buy her a special sleeping bag, so she has her very own Disney princess "feeping bag" to use when she stays. Of course, she has to fall asleep in our bed first, and we have to be lying down with her, but well....what can you do? No, she's not spoiled. Hush.

In the knitting department, I've joined the "52 Projects in 52 Weeks" group on Ravelry that started June 1st, which kind of makes me giggle. I mean, really. A project done every week??? Me??? But maybe it will help me finish some things, and since that's what this blog is ALL about-- cough, cough --that's a good thing, isn't it? I figure I'll have to finish a lot of socks and scarves and such, and work on the big projects in between. I have a pair of socks that I need to finish by tomorrow so I can post them in the first week's tally, then I'll go back to the cabled sweater for a few days before I finish whipping out a scarf for the second week's tally. That, my friends, is the master plan. Discipline, however, is not my strong suit, so we'll see how it goes. It's a good thing I started that Noro sweater right before we took off on our trip to see Mom. I had something to work on when I wasn't clutching door handles, and since all I have to do is finish the second sleeve, block and sew it together, and knit on the neckband, I'm golden! See, sometimes it pays to start new projects when you shouldn't, right?

I think I'll go clean off the computer desk before hubby gets home. I stand a much better chance of getting the darn thing out of the bedroom today if the printer, monitor, and keyboard are "temporarily" housed on his side of the bed. I don't think he'd like sleeping in the Disney princess "feeping bag."