Monday, February 27

The Anti-Bode

After just declaring that I was not going to call myself a Bodeist sort of non-finisher, I found this on Jessica's blog. I just might have to change my mind.

Since I have already said that one reason I didn't finish knitting was that I went skiing, perhaps I am more the Anti-Bode? I'll have to design my own button.

Yup, that is me, skiing in a wedge. Wedge turns on a green run, how Anti-Bode is that?

And did I also mention that I took time off during the games to make truffles? Two kinds even. White chocolate, bay truffles rolled in crushed candied hazelnuts and dark chocolate, lavender truffles, both inspired from the Herbfarm Cookbook.

I made them for a chocolate-themed, potluck, dessert party. Went to the party too, and although I took my knitting with me, it stayed in the bag. Turned out that the hostess was ill and sequestered in bed. There were dozens of people nonetheless, half under the age of seven, and at least a dozen desserts, 90% of them store-bought. Was my effort appreciated? I doubt it, but I did stash some in our freezer for later. And Nancy, I have some for you as a thank you for watching the house/picking up the mail. Will get them to you soon.

There are no Bodes in the Knitting Olympics

No, those of us who did not get the Gold according to the Yarn Harlot's rules shall not denigrate ourselves thus. Give yourselves Silver ala Sasha Cohen who stumbled and carried on gracefully. I will compare myself to Emily Hughes. While not cute or perky, I am new at this knitting thing and yet chose to compete with world class athletes. No medal, but fun was had --- and just wait til Vancouver.

My sleeves are off the needles and blocking as of Monday morning. When they are dry, I will attempt to sew them into the body. I plan to do this while husband and son are elsewhere, since there will be naughty words used.

The shoulders are sewn and the collar done (before the deadline even) but I am not sure I like it. Like the YH, I made an equipment mistake. The body of the sweater is knit on 5.5mm needles and the ribbing knit on 5mm. I thought I had grabbed a 5mm circular for the ribbed collar, but realised when almost done that it was really a 4.5mm. I am not sure I like the effect. Now that the pressure is off, I'll think about redoing it.
When I first heard about the KO I was on the fence about participating. Zach had been talking about making a hat, so he decided to make the hat a KO goal. Moreover, he dared me to sign up, declaring there was no way I could make a sweater in two weeks. Well, that was the motivation I needed.

The bet we agreed upon was that if I didn't finish, I had to knit him something. If I did finish, he would knit me something. A win-win either way, since we both seem to have caught the knitting bug. (I brought the materials for a Dulaan cloud hat on our ski trip, anticipating that Zach would finish his hat and immediately want something new to work on. I was right.) He has no suggestion of what I should knit for him, but I have something in mind that I think would make for a fun surprise. Of course it involves designing something myself and using techniques I don't know how to do yet, but that just makes it more appealing!

Saturday, February 25

We have a winner!

Zach successfully learned to knit in the round, purl, repair dropped stitches, reorient stitches after a tinking event, knit (and purl) on DPNs, K2tog and P2tog and sew in the loose ends. He has a fully functioning Sailor's Watch Cap to prove it. A luxurious blend of Cashmere, microfiber and Merino, the navy blue cap is plenty warm and soft. Except for showering, skiing (we wear helmets) and sleeping, the medalist has not removed the hat.

The multi-purpose hat serves both to keep his head warm and disguise his face when dad wants a photo at the Crooked River Gorge Overlook.

The other gold medal contender in this house is running a little behind. These sleeves will not finish knitting themselves, so it is back to work I go. Photos of ski trip will have to wait.

Saturday, February 18

Day three and still blogging.

First, some knitting. Our first finished objects. The multicolor scarf on the left is mine, knit in some wool/nylon blend. On the right is Zach's first scarf, knit in Debbie Bliss alpaca/silk. Note the pointy end of Zach's design --- a statement about rectangles and conformity.

The planter box ought to be full of crocuses, but there are only a few orange ones blooming with the pansies. The rest have been eaten by squirrels. What I want to know is: did the squirrels eat the purple ones first discriminately? Does purple taste better to them? Daffodils and tulips are starting to emerge. Seems that I finally got the chickenwire (which isn't visible in the photo) designed well enough to stop the daily attacks before all was lost to the wildlife.

I just discovered Cara Cara red navels. Not as red as blood oranges and not as easy to peel as regular navels, they are nonetheless delicious. This one isn't as red as some others I have eaten, but it was the last one in the house, so it's what I photographed.

Language rant:

In today's Post-Intelligencer Seattle section:

"Local residents who have become victims of international ATM thefts in the past several months could be linked to a major retail security breach, as well as a series of debit card fraud cases under federal investigation."

Technically, this is possibly accurate. But it's hard to parse. Sure looks, though, like the local residents committed the security breach. I thought the first paragraph of a newspaper article is supposed to be really, really easy to understand.

and also in today's P-I, gardener Anne Lovejoy opens her column with:

"After spending a year in our new home, the garden design is finally coming together."

'nuf said.

Friday, February 17

Day two of blogging

Solar Update:
The solar system went on-line exactly one week and two hours ago. Since then we have had 67 hours of usable sunshine and have created 56 kWh of electricity. Please note that previous to this gloriously sunny winter week, Seattle had been experiencing its dreariest, rainiest winter since forever. Summer is when the system will really shine.

Knitting Update:
This morning Zach was curled up under a blanket on the couch knitting and said with a sigh, "I remember back when I was really bad at purling." Really takes me back, doesn't it. All the way to January. Me, well I am still bad at purling, I prefer to knit backwards instead, guess that's the left-handedness in me shining for once.

See, I was the left-handed kid in a family full of capable, crafty, right-handed girls. While they tried to show me how to crochet and knit, it just didn't sink in. I was klutzy and never succeeded in even a scarf. Not til I discovered left-handed scissors in my twenties could I cut a straight line. Yet I have and use handmade items from my sisters.

There's my macrame plant hangar made by Marianne some time in the '80s. The afghan Kathy crocheted for me when I was a freshman in the college dorm, 1978.

And these placemats. Maggie made them for me, (I think, gosh is that correct?) when I was a junior in college and had moved up from a dorm room to an apartment on campus.

Gosh, thanks again, guys.

As for sweaters, Marianne once made me a sweater of her own design. It was in this dark grey wool with random bits of primary colors, with knitted baubles in a diamond pattern on the front, and puffy baubled sleeves. Not something I would have ever chosen for myself. I wore it, at first mostly because it was handmade for me, warm, I lived in Chicago and I didn't have a lot of clothes. But then I really grew to love it. I accidently shrunk it a bit, it became a cropped sweater --- one of the funkiest, hippest pieces of my wardrobe. I wore it for years, it finally shrunk too much (and/or I did the opposite) and I passed it along.

Now that I am hard at work making my first sweater, I am appreciating even more all the time and love that went into that one. Thanks again, Marianne. Maybe someday I will knit you a sweater. I promise it will have baubles.

For now, here is the update on my Olympic Knitting sweater --- the back, finished and blocked. Melinda, note that the differences in the variegations are noticable. I was expecting the whole sweater to look more like the top portion. C'est la vie. My job as I am knitting the front will be to rotate through the skeins well enough that it look less weird, but not so less weird that it doesn't match the back.

Thursday, February 16

Yes, the Olympics motivated this blog.

So let's try this blogging thing. I've resisted in the past, not sure if I was self-absorbed arrogant interesting enough to warrant blogging. Time will tell.

First, allow me to share our Olympic Knitting photos and other random things.

Here's my mountain colors (4/8's wool, color Wilderness) sweater, in this picture the back is at the armhole shaping section. I have since then finished and cast off, and am now working on the front --- as you can see, I had started the ribbing on that already.

The sunshine is muting the colors, they are really much richer. Can you tell that the varigations form a symmetric pattern along the bottom part above the ribbing? Then I changed to a new skein, since even within a dye-lot the hand painted yarn has significant variations. Skein 2 has more khaki and less symmetry. I switched to skein 3 at the armholes. Much more like skein 1, it nevertheless looks completely different, since there are fewer stitches per row, so the same symmetry does not appear. The overall effect is... I don't really know. Perhaps a little weird, but it is growing on me. I probably should have alternated skeins more often. My goal will be to make the front compatible, especially where skein 2 and the extra khaki/light green color appears.

Here's Zach's Olympic hat --- a sailor's watch cap in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. He has had some frustrations and ripped part of it a couple times, but is progressing. He is adamant about knitting (and purling) every stitch himself, I am not allowed to do any. But when there's a mistake, he has allowed (insisted even) that I do the ripping for him. The fabric is wonderfully soft and stretchy. Will make a super hat.

Note the crocuses in bloom, protected by the artistic chicken wire. Otherwise the crocuses would have been squirrel food months ago. All 50 or so of the crocus bulbs we planted in the yard have been dug up. Fortunately daffodils are poisonous, so the squirrels leave them alone. The big question for later in the spring, did I plant the yummy tulips deep enough? Tulips don't bloom around here for another couple more months, so will have to wait and see.

Today we produced 9.68 kW/h on our roof! The photo above was taken early in the morning. Most of the day the roof is fully in the sun. I still can't get over watching the meter running backwards. On average we consume about 18 kW/h per day in the winter, so producing half that is really cool. In the summer we average about 10 kW/h consumption, we ought to be producing way more than that. I ran the clothes dryer today during the sunshine and went out to look at the meter. Uhoh, it was going forward, really fast. Sure gave me a strong visual incentive for setting up an outdoor clothes line.