27 September 2007

Test Drive


Jennifer sent us a few sample skeins last week, one of which was this prototype sock yarn in an alpaca/bamboo/nylon blend. Since it was a 50g skein and since I tend to be fairly slow at finishing socks, I figured a baby sock would be the perfect test drive project. So I wound the skein off into a ball and cast on for the picot hem Tuesday evening before heading over to the Yarn Sellar.

Everyone at Chicks with Sticks had fun fondling my ball, as it were, and commented on how soft and shiny the yarn is. It does have a very nice luster to it. I got most of the leg done while chatting there and worked the heel and finished off the foot last night, and then washed it before heading to bed last night. So the photo, taken this afternoon, is post-finishing and post-washing.

I really like this yarn. It halos a bit, but I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing. It's nowhere near as fuzzy as Bearfoot sock yarn, and I really like that yarn. The haloing can make tinking or ripping out a bit more challenging, but I didn't find, when I did have to tink a few heel flap rows, that it caused any serious problems with the integrity of the yarn. I'm not sure, though, how well it would hold up if it had to be ripped back multiple times.

One thing that I did worry about with the bamboo content is that most of the bamboo or bamboo blend yarns I've seen tend to be very splitty, including another prototype skein we have here at the house. Fortunately, I didn't find this to be an issue at all with this particular yarn, even using US 1/2.25mm Brittany dpn's, which have relatively dull points.

When I talked to Jennifer about the yarn this afternoon, she mentioned that a couple of other test knitters have commented that the gauge comes out too fine for their tastes. Since I cast this on and just made it up on the fly, I didn't have a very good sense at that point what the gauge was. So I checked, and it turns out that my gauge was quite different between the top and the bottom. The hem measures out at 8st/in and the foot is measuring at 10st/in (yikes!).

I had a sense that I was knitting a bit more tightly on the foot, but I didn't realize that it was by so much. While this may not make a huge difference on a baby sock, I could see it being a bit more of an issue on an adult sock. Looking at the two areas, as well, it seems to me that the 8st/in would be a bit too open for a sock foot and not hold up to wear quite as well. So given current trends towards sock yarns that knit up around 7-8st/in, it would be interesting to see this done in a slightly heavier weight. Not too much heavier, though, as my friend Kit pointed out that it would also be a nice yarn to work lace in, and I very much agree.

Overall, I found this a very fun and enjoyable yarn to play with, so I'll definitely be saying more once Jennifer has a final version ready to go.

25 September 2007

Questions Answered Here?

It seems that I've had a number of questions lately that I haven't had a chance to sit down and answer properly. It has been a rather busy week chez tete-de-laine.

On top of it being my 60+ hour week at work, Rosa had a little emergency in the wee hours of my Friday night off that necessitated an unplanned drive into the clinic and a short hospital stay for her. A basset hound back and jack russell back legs are a bad combination, but for thirteen years we have managed to avoid any problems. Until now.

Fortunately, it is only a mild spinal cord injury and she is doing well back at home. She is, however, horrible about being picked up to go up/down stairs, and some ramp-building activity may be in store for this week. She also tested positive for Lyme disease and is on antibiotics for that, but she'll take anything in a blob of peanut butter.

My Sunday night off involved a bit of entertaining, as David's friends Eileen and Tim were up from New Jersey to go to the Common Ground Fair (knitnzu has photos of the fair here) and spent the night with us on their way home. I called David on my way home from work and asked what we should have for dinner. His response was, "I don't know. You're the chef."

So we had cheese, crackers, olives, and a bottle of riesling for appetizers; spring greens, gorgonzola, dried cranberry and sunflower seed salad with balsamic and maple syrup vinaigrette; veggie lasagne with homemade sauce and pine nuts with a Spanish red for main course; and Maine blueberry pie for dessert. Nobody went to bed hungry.

Completely Gratuitous Photos

Since I have nothing else to offer in the way of visual interest. This little guy was brought in Saturday night by the Portland P.D. Both of his front legs are broken, but he's young and should heal and is very sweet. He'd likely make a great companion for Tolo, but David's not particularly keen on getting another cat just yet.

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And this little critter was all hunched up in the parking lot when I drove in this afternoon.

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As near as I can figure, it's a meadow jumping mouse. I had never seen one before. This one almost certainly came from the scorched earth former wetland next door, which only makes me hate those sumbitches more. This little fella appears to be blind and ate like there was no tomorrow when I put some food in the cage. I'll be stopping by the wildlife rehab place on my way home tomorrow this morning.

20 September 2007

She's Here!


This had arrived when I got up today. It's a crap photo, but I wanted to hurry up and snap a photo before work and I knew the flash would only bounce right back off the mylar dust jacket cover. When I ordered this, I had figured from the price that it would probably be a later printing, but it appears to be from the original 1988 printing, and in about as perfect condition as you could ever hope for. I am most pleased.

And keeping things in a Scottish vein, last night I finished pinning out pleats on the kilt I started just over a year ago (I didn't want to believe it was that long, but I checked.). I decided a month or so back that I was out of my fucking mind to try to tackle a full 8yd. kilt when I just wanted something for casual wear and I had never done it before. So I cut it in half.

No photos yet, but all I need to do is finish basting the pleats for ironing, handsew the hip-to-waist taper in the pleats, finish the aprons, afix a waistband, get straps and sew them on, make a buttonhole on the left hip for that strap to pass through, and sew in a broadcloth lining. I'm hoping to get this done by Rhinebeck, but that's what I was hoping for last year, too, so we shall see.

18 September 2007

Cobwebs (and I Don't Mean Lace)

We have a little problem with spiders in our house. Around this time of year, we're pretty well overrun with them. No black widows or brown recluses or anything like that - Maine's not big on poisonous critters - but enough of them to be rather a bit of a nuisance. Especially when a trip to the cellar is necessary.




Now, I am really rather fond of spiders and most people who know me have heard me say at some point, "Spiders are our friends". Sometimes, though, you need your friends to go away for a while. We'd put up with this situation for quite some time, but I decided that today was the day to armor up and do battle.


It was long and arduous, but I think I was ultimately successful. Because all the surfaces I had propped the camera against to snap the before photos were dripping with noxious chemicals, there are no after pics. And the respirator thing? I know that there are some folks who get turned on by such things. As a claustrophobe, I am not one of them. While I am very glad I had it for this project, it stayed on not one second longer than it had to.

Fun with Search Terms

Like a lot of folks, I like monitoring traffic to this little blog and seeing what search terms bring people here. My little tutorial on sherman short rows continues to be a popular search, as do "thistle tattoos", "tricot machine lyrics", and "fox poo". I know a lot of you probably have a hard time believing that last one, but apparently there are folks out there who can't get enough of it (and in case you've been wondering, the fox marked the mulch pile again just last week).

The other day, though, I had one that I had not seen before. Someone in or near Buffalo, NY, did a search for "liz vassey's legs". Liz happens to be my cousin. This is her IMDB photo:

If you watch CSI, then you may recognize her as the actor who plays Wendy Simms. Since we don't generally watch television and since we don't get any CBS station here, I've never seen her in this role. In fact, the thought of someone coming to this blog to find out about her is pretty funny, since I haven't seen her in 26 years, since the summer she turned 9. My father's family, unfortunately, is quite spread out, so there are a lot of relatives on that side that I rarely see.

Even funnier, though, is that when you do a Google search for "liz vassey's legs", the very first page returned is this one.

Lest You Think...

...I haven't been knitting, there has been a good bit of that going on around here, as well. I've been trying to sort out adapting Stephen's Brâncuşi stitch pattern to kilt hose. I think I've pretty well got it, so a few gauge calculations and I should be in business with that one for real. Also, work continues on the Diamond Fantasy shawl, but as it's unblocked lace and we all know what unblocked lace looks like, there won't be any progress photos for a while, I don't think. As for the wedding vest, I just need to order the yarn and get going on that one.

13 September 2007

Meet Cedar and Foggy

I went out and took a few pics before I left for work. They were out and exploring, since it was the first day since they arrived that it wasn't pouring rain. Just for reference, the fence is 5ft.(1.52m) high.

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That's Foggy (the male) in front and Cedar (female) behind. Foggy shares a birthday (May 3) with David and Landlady Paula. Cedar's birthday is a couple of weeks later. Knitnzu asked if they're like mini horses. Actually, they're a Sicilian breed and a bit bigger than most mini horses.

They're also known for having a nicer disposition that full-sized donkeys. Here they are rolling around on the ground playing like dogs.

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I think they're going to be fun to have around, and the 'pacas actually didn't seem to be terribly concerned about them today. Ted asked what an alpaca alarm call sounds like, and though it's a little difficult to describe well, I think it sounds an awful lot like a donkey braying. A little more high-pitched, perhaps, like a donkey played at 78rpm, but that's the closest comparison I can think of. And now I'll get to listen to both.

12 September 2007

The Scottish Woman Cometh

A few weeks ago I sat down with a representative for a really, really, really large company that's practically right down the road from the clinic to do a little survey. For an hour or so of my time, they paid me an embarrassing sum in the form of a pair of debit cards. Which I have since been trying to decide how to spend.

Naturally, my thoughts immediately turned to fiber-related paraphernalia, but there are just so many options that I had a really hard time deciding. And then tonight, I just up and made a decision and ordered this book. I figured if I was going to spend that much money, I should spend the little bit extra to get the hardcover version, as it should hold up better. Besides, it was practically free money - completely extrabudgetary.

The best part, though, was when I went to checkout. I had an Amazon gift certificate waiting to be cashed in, so I ended up with more of that free money left over than I'd expected. I think I may save the remainder for a little Rhinebeck spending. Do you suppose this blows my chances at winning the lottery tomorrow?

New Farm Residents

While I was sleeping on Monday, Landladies Paula & Wendy brought home the newest members of our little farm family - a pair of miniature donkeys. When I got up today, all the girl 'pacas were crowded along their fence staring at the strange new critters and alarm calling. I've only caught a few brief glimpses through the rain, but once things dry up in the next day or so, I'll get some pictures to share.

11 September 2007

It's Baaaaack!

Rhinebeck Blogger Bingo is on again this year, and we jumped at the chance to be headquarters again. So follow the link on over to Stitchy's place to get the 4-1-1 on signing up. I already asked if I could be center square like Paul Lynde.

The Outlaws

So a month after David e-mailed his mother and sister to inform them of our wedding plans, and two months after he informed his father, his parents finally got around to sending him individual letters in response. Along with a Bible tract, of course. You can imagine the content.

His mother's letter resorted to the old, discredited Freudian argument and blamed it on his father not being around enough (I told David he should write her and point out that she left out the domineering mother part). Then a lot of the same old bigoted and intentionally inaccurate "research" put out by Paul Cameron and his ilk. Or as she put it, "several in the scientific community," which I think means 3 or 4 whack jobs.

His father's letter proclaimed himself and David's mother as "God's representatives" to David, cited a few Bible verses, and then the tired "you can choose to change" argument. He finished it off with two questions - "Are you happy?" and "Do you want to change?" I think the answers are not what he's hoping to hear.

I know that in their minds they're doing the right and loving thing, but it's just so profoundly dysfunctional (David's sister's response last week was in a similar vein - "The kids are great. You're going to Hell. Love you."). It pisses me off, too, because they've been rehashing the same old crap for the last 16 years and just refuse to see that it's hurtful and accomplishes nothing.

The other issue is that I know that the main reason they're being as difficult as they are right now is that I'm an unavoidable part of the picture. As long as David wasn't cohabiting or in a serious relationship, it was easy for them to walk around with blinders on and pretend not to know anything. My presence spoils that for them, so they see me, naturally, as a threat. Which, of course, means that I can't engage them like I'm itching to do, since it would only justify their view of me as the meddling outsider.

At least I know where we won't be for the holidays this year.

05 September 2007

Shedir, Plus a Little Bunny Love

I finished Shedir in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.


I had noticed during the knitting that some of the dye was rubbing off on my fingers, so I gave it a good long soak and rinse to get the excess dye washed out (there wasn't a whole lot, in the end) and it is now dry and ready to be given to Daphne. I shall hopefully be seeing her on Friday.

In other news, I received a package yesterday from Rabbitch. Turns out we both work similarly crazy hours, so we've been chatting a good bit of late and I decided to buy a skein of her sock yarn in the "No Mean Feets" colorway.


Yes, it's a much tamer name than "Koala Twat" or "Electric Sheep Douche", and no, she has not indicated to me that it has a different, more perverse, known-only-to-her name. But she still would like me to reassure everyone that she is nothing but an unrepentant trollop, and I shant dispute that.

I decided that this yarn would go well in one of Charlene Schurch's two-color sock patterns with one of the skeins I have from Carol's Black Bunny Fibers. The perfectness of pairing Rabbitworks with Black Bunny yarn is not lost on me.


But first they're going to have to hang out together for a good while so that I can work on wedding knitting. It remains to be seen which will corrupt the other more. It's just a good thing that Dolores's tour won't be bringing her through this neck of the woods.

03 September 2007

So Originally...

...I was going to write about needing to get something out of my system. Lately, I've had quilting on my mind. More specifically, I've been thinking a lot about cathedral window quilt construction. I have a fair bit of fabric stash and some quilts that have never made it out of the starting gate, and one that's partially quilted and just waiting to be finished. Someday.

I do not, however, have space to be hauling any of it out very readily, and I certainly don't have the 40 bajillion yards of muslin that a cathedral window quilt would require. Still, I've been obsessing about it something fierce, so I decided I should at least do something to satisfy the craving and a few days ago whipped this out.


Not perfect, but it certainly did at least give me something to play around with. I'm waiting on a book about machine construction techniques for the cathedral window genre, so I don't imagine it will be the last this will appear here. Still, it's going to have to wait a while, because among other things, I have to finish up the Diamond Fantasy shawl, especially since I got this from Scout to go with it.


Shedir is also still on the needles, progress having been slowed by recent events and by a heavy caseload at work. I left the clinic a bit after noon today, my 15 hour shift having lasted 19 hours. It took a mocha frappuccino and Prarie Home Companion to get me home, and it wasn't long after that before I collapsed into bed for about a 5 hour nap. I've got one more night on this holiday weekend, but Monday night shouldn't be quite as bad, most of the vacationer crowd having gone home and most of the locals being more inclined to wait one more night until their regular vet is back in the office.

And because most of my coworkers and I will be slogging away on what promises to be a lovely Labor Day, instead of enjoying the holiday, we have planned a potluck. I signed up to bring cole slaw, which is a dish that I am genetically programmed to make, and one that I have prepared in many different variations. This particular one is red cabbage and carrots, with a bit of tarragon, and this photo is especially for Rabbitch (I'd send some, but it might not make for such good eatin' by the time it got there).


Thank You...

...to everyone who offered their condolences, and to those of you who thought it but didn't say it directly. I have 18 wonderful years of memories, and the tears have been far outweighed by the joy those memories have brought me.