Crab cake

It’s official, I need a long weekend. All week long, my co-workers have driven me so crazy. This is what I put up on my desktop yesterday after all the annoyances:

Yeah, it’s time for a long weekend. We’re going shopping tonight to stock up on food, so we won’t have to leave our house all weekend long. You can bet that this will be in the cart:

I did have a lovely fibery lunch with Jillian today. It’s always fun to see what other people are working on and J has the greatest ideas. I muddle along making swatch after swatch and have a good time, but don’t come up with anything fabulous. J throws the coolest stuff together and it always looks great. She’s my knit design inspiration.

She talked me into buying some new Maggie Jackson yarns (yeah, twist my arm). I left them in the car, but I’ll snap some pictures this weekend. One of them is a cotton/linen blend – very cool. It’s a triple strand yarn that feels a little harsh, but I saw a swatch and it knits up soft. With that blend, it will only get softer as it’s washed and worn.

Saw some new colors of Koigu – gorgeous purples and oranges. I’m also an Interlacements slut. The colors they put together are so amazing. The skein I picked up has purple, pink, orange, and blends of those colors. I am in my glory with all the fabulous oranges I’ve been seeing. You can’t have too many orange yarns – that’s my motto these days. Interlacements has also cut their skeins in half. Instead of spending $40, the skein was only $15.

Now I just want to go home and knit.

In other news, I had this dream last night (don’t you just hate when people start a conversation with this?). I weighed 700 pounds – don’t ask me how I knew the number, it was just in my head. I was a pyramid of fat with my head on top. My hands were sticking out my sides (think Violet Beauregard in Willie Wonka) and my feet were buried under suet. All I could think about was “how am I going to drive to work like this?” I think that means I need to go back to the gym. I’ve been using my allergy attacks as an excuse to “baby” myself. I eat whatever I want and haven’t worked out…well, in a while (months). Time to step up and be the stud that I am and start sweating again. Who’s with me?

Pioneer, schmioneer

Yeah, we lost power in the gigantic storms last week. It went out on Friday afternoon. Let me just mention that I live in the frickin’ country. My husband’s criteria for living in a house is that we have so few neighbors that he can pee off the back deck, at any time, without anyone seeing him. Yes, my mother-in-law lives right next door to us – he doesn’t actually pee off the back deck, but he wants the option.

So, when you live out in BFE and there are only about 12 other houses on your dirt road, the power company doesn’t care about you. Not when there are 899,999 other customers (who all live in neighborhoods) without power. We had 3 field hockey games, 2 ice hockey games, 1 dress rehersal, 2 dance recitals, and a study group going on this last weekend.

On Saturday night, I told Hub that he’d better get his quarters together, we were going to the laundramat and then to the health club for a shower first thing in the morning. We were very lucky. There was no one in the laundramat and we sailed in and got everything washed and dried in an hour and a half. By the time we left, people were lining up their baskets of dirty clothes waiting for the washers to be open.

The community center/health club isn’t. They wouldn’t let me bring Sassy in for a shower because she was underage. Besides, “half the town would be bringing their kids in here for showers if we let yours in.”

“Hmmm,” I said, “I thought that was part of being a community center.”

Sassy had a sponge bath in the kitchen with water we heated up on the grill. I’m not a pioneer woman. Give me water or give me death.

Needless to say, there wasn’t much fiber going on at my house this weekend. I did have the lovely experience of reading by candle light (and managed to avoid singing my hair). I finished up The Well of Lost Plots on Friday. What an amazing book. I’m in love with Jasper Fforde. Also started and finished Black Rubber Dress, by Lauren Henderson. I can’t wait to read the other adventures of Sam Jones!

Mac, over at Go Fish has put together a summer reading list. Thinking this is a good idea, I’ve cribbed it and have put together a small list of my own. Of course, I still have several books in a bag at my house courtesy of Jillian – so those are really at the top of the list (there’s another Sam Jones mystery in there somewhere), but here’s my official summer reading list:

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal, Christopher Moore

Not Wanted on the Voyage, Timothy Findley

For Rabbit, With Love and Squalor: An American Read, Anne Richardson

House of Sand and Fog, Andre Dubus III

What’s everyone else reading this summer?

There’s so much to tell…

DC last week was fabulous! I was also very HOT!! I’m a wuss, I’ll admit. I came from Michigan and nice 60 degree weather and was dropped into high humidity and 90 degree days. I hate walking out of the hotel to hail a cab and having pit stains from the (minimal) effort. And what’s with federal buildings? They all said, “The air’s on…”, if that’s what passes for air in those buildings, I’m glad I don’t work for the government.

Other than the business I was there to attend to, the trip was great. I met a friend on Wednesday for a trip to Knit Happens. It’s really a cute little shop. I had heard so much about it from other bloggers that it just seemed too good to be true. I’m always amazed when small shops manage to pack a ton of yarn into a place and not have it feel crowded and junky looking. (I’m amazed, because this is what I attempt at my house and it always looks crowded and junky looking.) Anyway, yes, it’s a small shop, but they have great stuff – Rowan, Debbie Bliss, Trendsetter, some pretty cool sock yarn that I forget the name of, and tons more.

Who was in the shop when we arrived? None other than Wendy! I approached her and mentioned a mutual friend and we chatted for a few minutes. I didn’t introduce myself – which I didn’t think about until later, so I’m sure she thought I was some weird blogger stalker.

I was looking for a cabled baby sweater pattern and the clerk (I think it was one of the owners) gave me a stack of Miss Bea books to page through. Found just what I was looking for here . If you haven’t seen the Miss Bea books – go look, they’re wonderful, very well written and the pictures are just so damn cute!

On Friday, I had the whole day to myself! As an aside, my boss always apologizes to me for making me travel to these meetings. Um, right…5 nights alone in a hotel room, eating fabulous meals in places where the Hub and kids would never cross the threshold, and a whole day to do whatever I want…I laugh at him every time.

Anyway, back to my Friday. Started off at the Textile Museum. It is, by far, my favorite place in the city. The people are so nice and the exhibits are well organized and interesting. There was a group of school children there while I was going through. I could hear these kids wherever I was in the museum (it’s a very open design). They were having the best time trying on wrappers from different parts of the world and figuring out how they looked best. Every now and again, the docent would shush them a little, but they were having such a good time. It was a lot of fun listening to them.

Took the metro over to the National Museum of Women in the Arts. This place is huge!! Three floors of art by women. I must admit, I was a little disappointed when I first went in. I love paintings as much as the next person (okay, maybe a little less), but how many of the Madonna and Child can one person look at?

They do have a great exhibit running right now called Nordic Cool: Hot Women Designers. It features women designers from Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Norway. There were paintings, photos, textiles, furniture – all kinds of things. It was a very nice exhibit – well put together and interesting.

After that I was exhausted and wanted to go someplace to sit down and eat. I kept telling myself, “you haven’t been to the third floor yet” – that’s where parts of the permanent collection are. So, I went back up the stairs and saw this:

It’s The Springs by Lee Krasner. I know it doesn’t look like much on the screen. In person, it’s 43 x 66 inches and just fills your field of vision when you stand close to it. What I most love about museums is how close you can get to the paintings and really see what they’re made from. This painting is lovely and I’ve found something new to go visit while I’m in DC. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who returns to visit things I’ve seen in museums. My other favorite is a Rodin sculpture called She Who Was the Helmet Maker’s Beautiful Wife on display in the Hirschhorn. You can go see her for yourself


There’s more, but I’ve gone on a bit long already. I’ll be back with pictures of what I’ve done in this busy, catch up week.

Lazy Alert

Okay for 2 days now, I’ve schlepped in my ball of Rowan Calmer and the attached swatch…but I’m too damn lazy to make my way to the scanner and scan the thing. So, I finally pick up the goods and make my way across the office to the computer with the scanner attached and someone’s using it. I feel a little funny asking someone to stop working so I can goof off. You’re going to have to wait to see it. Trust me, it’s gorgeous. The yarn is lovely and I really like working with it. Now I just have to sell my first born to be able to afford a sweater’s worth.

Have a fabbo lunch with Jillian and kidlets yesterday. Mr. Henry cracks me up! J told me he loves the backpack and when she put him in it, he got the most contented smile on his face I’ve ever seen. After about 10 minutes of walking around, his little lids were very heavy and he drifted right off to slumberland. My friend Isobel wasn’t having a very good day. She did demonstrate a very nice handstand for me and showed me how she dressed up Shaggy in Velma’s dress (I love it when little girls giggle). Don’t worry J, in a few days, she’ll be right as rain.

I’m off this afternoon to have my hair highlighted and cut. I feel like I’m letting Gloria Steinem down by admitting it’s because I’m going on a business trip next week. I can’t have these people (most of whom I see 3 times a year) thinking I walk around like a sheepdog most of the time (which I do – but I can’t let them think that!). I knew once I started highlighting that it would be one of those “personal hygiene until I die” things, but it didn’t stop me from doing it.

I’m also taking a couple pairs of pants to be shortened. Do I leave things until the last minute? Does the Pope wear a funny hat?

Swatch Yarns

Here is the small collection of swatching yarns I’ve purchased recently:

Let’s work clockwise, shall we? The red in the upper left is Rowan Calmer, which is 75% cotton and 25% microfiber. Next is Dale Svale, 50% cotton, 40% viscose, and 10% silk. Then comes Elsebeth Lavold’s Silky Wool, 65% wool, 35% silk (notice I bought the green and not the muted yellow – I really wanted the yellow as well). Lastly is Maggi’s Aran Tweed, 100% wool.

I’m currently working on a swatch with the Calmer. It’s really lovely yarn – lots of bounce and very cushiony. The microfiber addition to cotton was a good idea. This yarn will have some memory, but will drape nicely. I’ll show that swatch tomorrow – I’m about halfway through a pattern repeat of the Elann Dancing Vines Tunic. I’m not sure it will work quite right for this sweater (a little too bouncy), but it does show off the pattern stitches well. Also, it’s a little pricey ($11.25/ball) for a giant tunic sweater.

Here’s my other swatch-in-progress

This is Jaeger Trinity, 40% silk, 35% cotton, 25% polyamide. The swatch is knit on 3.5 mm needles, which may look a little big, but anything smaller and I think the swatch would be boardy. One weird thing about this yarn is that periodically, I would have a huge stitch. I don’t think I was doing anything differently. Just every now and again I noticed a huge stitch, like I wrapped twice and then dropped a wrap. Very strange.

I like the hand of the swatch, a little crisp and crunchy, but also drapey enough to make a nice summer sweater. I did a seed stitch boarder and then did an increase on either side of a 10 stitch panel every other row. You can see that the piece has a pouch – too many increases. Next time, I’ll allow a couple of rows in between the increases to make a nice gentle slope.

I also threw in a pleat (which doesn’t quite show up in the photo). I’ve never made a knitted pleat before – I don’t think this was the yarn to try it with. The swatch pleated nicely and the yarn falls beautifully into the folds, but the pleat itself looks like the dog’s breakfast. I put 16 stitches on a double pointed needle, placed that behind 16 stitches on my working needle and k2tog for 8 stitches and then ssk for 8 stitches. My problem is with the “join” area. Here’s a close up:

Apologies for “over-exposing” but I think you can see the area I’m talking about now. See how the stitches on either side of the join pull away from each other. I know it’s because of the decrease stitches, but how can I make it look more, well, pleat-like? Next time, I think I’ll try it with 15 stitches behind and do a triple decrease in the center – slip 1, k2tog, psso. The Elsebeth Lavold skein will be a similar looking swatch. I’ll keep you posted.

Spring Cleaning

I’m still on a bender to get my house cleaned up. I don’t know what it is this spring, but I just want everything clean and organized. I’ve noticed this is a trend in blog-land. Consequently, there’s not much going on the fiber front. We’ve been staying up too late watching way too much hockey (Go Red Wings), but I’m too exhausted to knit. I’ve been half-heartedly spinning, but not much of that either.

Lately, I’m swatch girl. The last couple of times I’ve been to the yarn shops, all I can pick up is 1 or 2 skeins of something I haven’t tried before. Last week, Jillian and I went to the local shop and they finally have the Elsbeth Lavold silky wool. It’s so yummy. I wanted to buy several skeins, but contented myself with 1 in the muted yellow. I’ve got a dream sweater in my head and I think this might be the yarn for it.

Next week I’ll be in DC. I’m really dying to see Knit Happens. I have a friend in the area (newby knitter) and we’re planning on having dinner and shopping. She always knows the newest, best restaurants in the area. Good food and good yarn – I love DC!

Now, I just have to get through the prep for our meetings and 2 days of meetings before I can splurge. I have to go in a day early, at the request of my boss. I told him I’d be happy to go…on one condition, that he pays for me to stay an extra day. Of course he agreed (what a good guy). Anyway, I’ll be wandering through the Textile Museum and the National Museum of Women in the Arts on Friday. Anything else I shouldn’t miss?