Saturday, July 29

(not) saturday sky

Sky photo from a sunset sometime earlier this week.

Wednesday, July 26

Stitch & Pitch

Fortunately for Seattle's knitters, our heat wave broke in time for Tuesday's Stitch and Pitch baseball game. I had thought it appropriate that the Mariners were playing The Blue Jays, given that so many great knitters live in Toronto. Looks like some great ball players live in Toronto also, cuz they sure don't live here.

I attended with family in tow; The Nerd brought his kureyon sock which he worked on for a while until the game seemed more exciting (and his yarn started getting tangled). Franz did not knit, but took all the knitting in stride. Nancy and Melinda rounded out our group. I was happy to see TMK and Ryan, with Ryan looking slow on the stairs but otherwise ok. Franz hadn't met them before, but pointed them out with "Look, a Dulaan T-shirt, that's cool. How do you get those?" and I got to go "Hon, that's not just a T-shirt, that's Dulaan herself." It was also great to see Elaine again and meet Leslie. I've been missing Elaine's blogging, but glad to know that the reason for the break from blogging is that she's busy with real life.

I also got a chance to chat with Lauren --- a friend from before I learned to knit --- and Kristen --- one of my favorite clerks at Acorn Street. I also worked on Cinxia sleeve number one:

Several knitters were impressed with my device for holding my yarn. Although I cannot take the credit for this idea. Lauren told me someone at Weaving Works suggested it to her. She actually has official yarn bras, but I find these knee-high hose to be perfect.

Saturday, July 22

another sky

It's too hot to blog. go watch some grizzlies romp in the falls.

Wednesday, July 19

CeCe is Fini!

CeCe designed by Bonne Marie Burns

Could I look more squinty and washed out? Sorry about the photo quality; I do love the sweater.

I used Elizabeth Lavold Silky Wool which is not in the recommended gauge. US 7 needles. Swatching, Washing and Calculating were accomplished in order to determine adjustments needed. I wanted the 38" sweater and followed the instructions for the 42" version. Preblocking, my sweater was 36" at bust, 8.5" from armhole to bottom. After blocking: 38" bust, 10" armhole to bottom.

Other modifications: I did 6 rows of ribbing instead of 4. I also made the sleeves shorter. These are about 2 inches instead of the recommended 2.5 to 3 inches. (In fact, while the schematic says the sleeves will be 2.5 inches, the instructions as written will result in a longer sleeve, since the ribbing isn't included in the calculations.)

2.5 hanks of Silky Wool. It weighs 120 grams. I found the lace pattern challenging at first, but once I had completed a pattern repeat, everything made sense and it was easy to follow. My neckband sewing leaves a bit to be desired, but the rustic quality of the fabric (mostly) camouflages that.

I'd like to make another. Once I finish my Cinxia, perhaps I will make another CeCe using my hand-dyed Aurora 6, for a very different CeCe. Time to go work on Cinxia!

Cultural Notes


We satisfied our curiosity wrt a cultural phenom and rented the first disc of CSI. Not what I expected. I don't know why, but I figured on more science and less soap. I doubt we will watch any more.

My brother-in-law sent us the current season of Dr Who. Yes, the writing was less cheesy than the original, the acting pretty good and some of the plots were more complex and worthwhile. Mostly lots of fun. But the season ending? Eh. A little over the top. Zach is very curious to see some of the old Doctors. I used to have many episodes on vhs tapes, but can't find them. Perhaps in a cleaning fit I tossed them? Mostly they were pretty poor quality.

Franz and Zach go to boy scout camp in a couple weeks and I am trying to decide what to do while I relax, knit and not make dinner. Deadwood seems a likely candidate. Any other suggestions?


I love Cook's Illustrated and splurged to register for So much information is available on the internet without a fee, it was a hard decision, but the archives were worth it to me. Through this registration, I was offered the opportunity to sign up to test recipes. How could I resist? Well it took a couple months, but they've recently sent me a few recipes. First was a pound cake. Baking a cake during a heat wave? Ick. I almost didn't make it but the weather cooled off enough to give it a go. Unfortunately it was still warm so I did not get the butter and eggs at just the right temperature to emulsify and the cake was so-so. Will be better to make this in the winter when the recipe will (probably) appear in the magazine. Interestingly to me, the survey asked how I modified the recipe. I didn't even think of modifying it. Well, it's hard to successfully modify baked goods, but mostly I thought following the recipe exactly was the law.

Finding out that they allowed us to break the law helped me when they sent me a second recipe, Baked Manicotti. While the recipe looked intriguing and easy, it called for puny amounts of garlic and basil. I rectified their mistakes and made the dish. Yum. My family also said yum. In fact, I just made it again for dinner tonight. The key technique is to use no-boil lasagne noodles instead of manicotti shells. Just soften as directed for lasagne, add the cheese filling and roll them up. I look forward to seeing the final recipe in the magazine. I'm curious how much garlic that version will call for.

A couple weeks ago Franz brought home some Ginger Ice Cream. Zach and I were both a bit dubious, but we tried it and liked it. I thought it would be really good with one scoop of Ginger and one scoop of Coconut. Woo Hoo, look what was on sale today!


CeCe blocked well and has a button! Will model it and give the specs when I get some photography help. The battery on the remote still being dead.

painting or knitting

Zach explained the move, so I'll just add some photos.

Zach's old room, in need of cleaning and painting:
The family room floor, motivation to finish the painting.

CeCe is almost done!

I just have to sew on the rest of the button band, find a button and block it. I can shop for a button today. I also need some DPNs to make the sleeves of Cinxia, but I wouldn't let myself enter a Yarn Store until CeCe was finished. Can I manage to purchase a button and the DPNs without buying anything else? We'll see.

Saturday, July 15

Garage Sale Sky

It's been a busy week here. Painting The Nerd's new room, moving furniture, preparing to repaint his old room --- soon to be guest room. Plus, cleaning out the garage, selling some things on Craiglist, culminating in today's garage sale!. Woo Hoo! Almost everything big went and most of the small things too, including the Joe Morgan bobbleheads. A trip to the transfer station is planned for sometime this week too.

All these clouds burned off, but I was out early setting up for the sale and remembered to take a photo.

No knitting photos today, CeCe has grown, so has Cinxia. I am hoping one or the other will be finished in time for Stitch-n-Pitch. That's 10 days from now. Better get back to the needles.

Monday, July 10

Random musing with some knitting

So a 62 year old British woman just gave birth with the help of pharmaceuticals. The child's father is age 60. I suppose she knew what she was doing as she is a child psychologist. Therefore she ought to be quite competent in preparing the boy for losing his parents at a young age.

I just listened to a radio interview with Robert Fuller. Seems he has coined a new term, rankism, to describe... well how we use rank to discriminate against folks. I dunno, I just don't think we need a new term to describe how some people use their power to abuse other people. Mr Fuller makes clear that rank in itself is not a bad thing, it is useful for some folks who have more education, expertise or other qualities to hold a higher rank over other folks. He draws a distinction between having a society with rank (a good thing) and people abusing their rank to hurt others (a bad thing). He claims it captures situations currently missed with our existing -isms and having the new label is helpful. His example was a black female principal was doing something bad to a white female teacher. Teacher certainly could not claim gender or racial discrimination, but when she pointed out to the principal that her behavior constituted rankism, the principal did an 'oops, my bad' turn-around. Wow, if only solving all the other -isms of the world were so easy!

Less bogus than the neologism, he said we have to remember that we evolved as predators. That we have, since the dawn of time, enslaved each other. (Other predatory species don't practice slavery, do they? Ants do. anything else?) We have done a good job as a species stamping out explicit slavery, but it will take constant vigilance to make sure we treat each other with dignity --- it's just not in our heritage. Not a bad perspective to take. I also liked how one example of how rank is not inherently bad was in the parent-child relationship. The parent ought to have a higher rank than the child. Parent is wiser, stronger, etc and needs to use the rank disparity to keep child safe and healthy and growing. Just we parents ought not abuse the power that comes with this rank. Like with so many -isms earnest folk trying to do the right thing can go too far.

There is a school of parenting that claims that parents ought to exert no rank over children, that a parent ought never ever tell the child what to do or coerce them in any way. No matter how old they are or what the situation is. A non-knitting blog I read is written by the mom of a 11 month old. In addition to blogging, she's writing a book about pregnancy, childbirth and child rearing, bless her heart. She is completely against discipline and embraces this Taking Children Seriously philosophy. You go, girl!

She's has taken the "attachment" philosophy of parenting to its inflexible extremes. Wanting to take her child with her while biking, she decided on a child seat that attaches to the bike frame instead of a trailer. While admitting that the trailer is safer, it just isn't "AP".

Oh dear. Sorry, Nerd, guess that's just one more way were were bad at attachment parenting. You liked the trailer for its roominess, the fact you could play with toys or wiggle (yes he was buckled in). It was a space all your own. Did you need more attachment? Will you suffer from it? If so, my sympathies.

well I promised some knitting.

I picked up my CeCe and realised I was about an inch til the sleeves get added. Yippee. Practicing no self-control, I promptly treated myself to making both sleeves. They were fun because each one only took an hour or so of knitting time. I got much more a sense of accomplishment than from knitting on the body which seems like it is taking forever.

You can't make them too early because you have to calculate where to start the lace pattern to match the body. But with only an inch to go, calculations were made. Now back to knitting on the body a few more rows and then I can practice some attachment knitting.

Saturday, July 8

Saturday Sky

I worry that I sounded too self absorbed and whiny yesterday. Yes it was a weird week, but it wasn't that horrible for me. It was worse for so many folks; the firefighters, the folks living closer to the fire, the homeless man, my sister facing surgery...

Today The Nerd and his dad are off on a hike with the boy scouts. I get to putter, paint, garden, knit and enjoy the sunny day. Yes, another Saturday sky of blue, so I am including an late afternoon shot from earlier this week when we had a more interesting sky.

Friday, July 7

Almost the Week-And

What a week it has been. First, the four alarm fire four miles away that woke us up with the burning chemical smell. Turns out most of our neighbors also woke up at the same time to the smell. Several of us walked out into the street investigating, but we missed each other.

Then I recognized a couple friends on the cover of the Seattle Weekly. In reading the article about the communal living arrangement, I discovered that I also knew two of the founders. Just goes to show what a small town Seattle is. In fact, I went to the paint store yesterday (if you read The Nerd, you'll know why) and ran into an old neighbor who owns a local restaurant. Today I went back to the paint store and ran into a regular customer from the bookstore where I used to work. So I really shouldn't be surprised to find that the same commune that Jan and Bob helped found is the one that Mitch and Jamie joined ten years later.

While outside chatting with my neighbor Nancy the other evening, a couple down the block came home from work and found a person passed out on their front stairs. The nanny was home with the kids and was unaware of this. That's not surprising, there's a gate and fence at the top of the stairs, but it would have been startling if she had tried to take the kids anywhere. Was he just drunk? Sick? Mentally ill? Dangerous? We didn't know. He was clearly breathing but not responsive to all the noise as we gathered and talked near him. The homeowner called 911 while her husband cut through a neighboring yard to get to the house. The medics decided not to dispatch an aid car, but the police did show up to encourage him to leave. All in all it was weird and sad. In retrospect we could have been nicer to him, but we weren't mean, just kinda cold. He could have been sick or dangerous. It made sense to call in the professionals. But could we have done more ourselves?

This is also the week that 34 years ago my father committed suicide. Yesterday, on that anniversary, my little sister in Ohio sent email saying that she was having breast surgery today as a follow-up to a core needle biopsy last week. (first I had heard about any of it.) They won't know if it is malignant til next week.

Glad the week is almost over. Time for the week-and. When Zach was young, that's what he thought we were saying when we said weekend. I like it better than the original and still say it. It's not the end of the week, it's an extra bit. Makes it a bit more special, don't you think?

In knitting: Dorothy, thanks for the link to the Eastern Uncrossed knitting tutorial. All this twisting and untwisting of stitches bends my brain, but in a good way.

Wednesday, July 5

Breathing and Knitting

'Bout three AM I woke to the smell of something burning, smelled like fireworks in the distance. There was a slight breeze and every few minutes it would blow more of the smell into the room. Turned out it woke Franz too, but he thought it smelled like creosote. I went outside. The air was uniformly stinky, misty, like a low fog forming, or perhaps it was smoke? Slight breeze from the southwest. There was nothing on fire, no obvious source, no noise, so I figured perhaps the change in weather had pushed the fireworks aroma toward the ground and northeast to us. The shows had been over for four hours, but who knows.

It was bad enough that Franz went downstairs to sleep. I figured that knowing for sure the house wasn't on fire I could go back to sleep, but the smell got worse before it got better. I did smell creosote. I lay there calculating how many minutes of life expectancy this toxic aroma was going to cost me and finally did fall back to sleep.

This morning I read Erika's blog of a bad fire in her neighborhood at that time. Yikes. That must have been it. Found in the paper that it was at NOAA and that sure enough, creosote was involved. I live at least three miles northeast of there.

In knitting news, recall how I found out that twisting stitches by wrapping backwards did not look like twisting stitches by knitting through the back loop? Well last night I also found out that if you knit the RS through the back loop to make a nice twisty pattern, but then instead of purling correctly, somehow you accidentally start wrapping your stitches the wrong way when purling when you haven't done that in months ---- well you end up with UNTWISTING all those stitches you twisted on purpose!

And if you don't discover this until you have already done two whole purl rows that way and are starting your third, and you are knitting an entire jacket in one piece with 236 stitches on the needle, then you have to tink 944 stitches.

I don't really mind the tinking; I did that last night. I do mind that I have no idea how the stitches ought to be put back on the needle. With ordinary stockinette, I know how the stitches ought to look so after a tink session I can make sure each stitch is oriented correctly before knitting it. So I decided to worry about that later. An idea did come to me, I will make a new small swatch in the twisted stockinette pattern to play with and learn from.

Tuesday, July 4

Happy Fourth

To all who celebrate it, happy Fourth.

In honor of the day, here's a photo essay to watch. No matter your political leaning or opinions about the war, it is important to remember that that abstract word "troops" really means flesh and blood people, sons and daughters, ordinary human beings.

Monday, July 3

Asian Tiger

Seattle weather is back to summer normal! Check out our expected highs this week:





Oh happy days. I ought to have taken advantage of the lack of heat to work in the yard, but I didn't do much outside. The Nerd had a friend over and I made them do a half hour of weeding so something was accomplished in the battle of good vs evil flora.

Instead I reskeined some of my recent dyeing. I don't love the blues but the orange one turned out great. It matches the colors of our marmoleum called Asian Tiger. (Hard to tell with my lack of mad photography skillz.) I hadn't intended this skein to match the marmoleum. In fact, I dyed a skein a couple weeks ago that was supposed to match this wonderful flooring but it came out completely different.

More on Casting on.

I agree that long tail is a great cast-on. I see two disadvantages though. First, when casting on a whole bunch of stitches, like when making a seamless sweater, it is really hard to judge how much yarn to start with. Second, it ends up looking like a purl row, so if you are starting something with a garter stitch border, you get a stockinette-ish row on the edge.

Crochet cast on looks just like a bind off edge and just like the slip-stitch garter edge, so it is (according to Sally Melville) the only cast on that can make all four edges of a garment look exactly the same. She uses it for casting on for garments knit sideways. You cast on for one button band edge and you cast off at the other, so you want them to look alike.

Susan likes that long tail is stretchy and that it is easy to make the stitches uniform in size.

Well, I find that a crochet cast on is also very stretchy. If I cast on to a needle one size bigger than used for the item, I can make the stitches really tight and then they are uniform in size. (Actually, that's the only was I can get long tail to be uniform also). Erika's and Nancy's comments make me wonder if we are talking about the same thing. Nancy, I am talking about casting onto the needle, by making a crochet chain that loops onto the needle as it is created. Just slightly more tedious than long tail cast on. And Erika, I also have a terrible time knitting into a crochet chain. All those instructions for provisional cast on where you knit into those "bumps" on one side of the crochet chain? forgetaboutit, I can never get that to work. But by crocheting the waste yarn right onto the needles, everything is already set up for you. You can't make it look like crap. (well... you know what I mean) So why don't instructions for provisional cast on mention this trick?

Here's the beginning of my Cinxia. Speaking of slip stitch side edges, this sweater doesn't have a button band, so the edges have to look nice. As far as I can tell, the best way to make a nice side edge is to knit the last stitch of every row and purlwise slip the first stitch. But the Cinxia instructions muck this up, having you purl the last stitch of each wrong side row. I tried this on a swatch and it made one side look wonky. So on my sweater, I am knitting that stitch and getting the nice edge I wanted. Funny thing though, given that there was a knit along blog and a yahoo group devoted to this design, nobody mentioned this issue. Makes me wonder if there is a way to make a nice slip stitch edge when the last stitch was purled and I just don't know about it.
One other thing I learned. When I started knitting, I was wrapping the yarn around the needle the wrong way -clockwise- and my stitches were all twisted. When I asked about this at the LYS, they said it looked like I was knitting through the back. So when swatching for Cinxia, I tried both ways, knitting through the back (which the design says to do) and knitting through the front but wrapping backwards. To my surprise they were not equivalent. Both end up with twisted stitches, but they don't look or act the same.

Sunday, July 2

Can you canoe?

Another Urban adventure. We biked to the Waterfront Activities Center and rented a canoe. Even though we were prepared for spousal waterway navigational bickering, we had a bicker-free trip. Franz would have been more insistent that we paddle south across the channel and explore the waters of the Arboretum, but there was lots of power boat traffic and we saw three canoes capsize --- probably due to poor handling through the wakes. Hey, there's plenty to canoe to on the north side where capsizing probability is low.

We saw butterflies, dragonflies, ducks, ducklings (so cute), geese, goslings (so fugly), herons, turtles, fishies (so tiny) and perhaps an eagle far off. We saw Mt Rainier in the hazy distance and expensive waterfront homes close up. We paddled up the slough as far as we could to see if having Ravenna Creek flowing out it would clean it up, but it didn't look that much cleaner. Couldn't get too far up the slough though due to downed trees (nice habitat for the ducklings).

the photographer:

Saturday, July 1

Saturday Sky

What gives with some Saturday Sky folks posting their photos on Friday? Or a dusk photo in the morning? Aren't these supposed to be Saturday's skies? This Saturday's?

This Saturday my sky looks a lot like it did last Saturday --- very blue. Vine maples are a native tree to the Northwest, very pretty in the Fall. Actually, pretty all year. Franz had wanted a vine maple for years and we finally planted this one last year. In addition to the vine maple, this photo contains kale seed pods. We don't really harvest the kale, but it volunteers throughout the garden, growing 5 to 6 feet tall. Sometimes the plants overwinter and end up more like bushes. I let them grow because the birds love the seeds. For the past couple weeks, the yard has been taken over by the house finches gorging on the ripe kale seeds. They don't seem to have competition from the larger birds, perhaps larger birds cannot perch on the delicate stems. Unlike the larger birds who live here, crows, stellar's jays, starlings, even robins, the finches are very skittish. I suppose they have to be. But it means that every time I go out back, heck even walk past the window, the whole flock leaves the kale and seeks shelter. Makes me want to go "argg, I am not a predator! Don't waste calories escaping me!" But they'd never understand. So if you see me tiptoeing around the house avoiding the southfacing windows, you'll know why.

I dyed a pound of yarn in a semi-solid coral-peach color for Cinxia. It's a finer gauge than the yarn used in the instructions, but I swatched and calculated and think I will be happy with this yarn and pattern choice. Of course I found and read the knit-along blog, the yahoo group, and myriad knit-bloggers who attempted (and some even finished) this pattern. I think I will make some modifications, probably make raglan decreases as some blogger suggested.

A question for all you knitters with more experience than me. Why does everyone suggest the long-tail cast-on over the crochet cast-on? the crochet cast-on doesn't leave you guessing as to how long a tail you will get, it looks nice on both sides and is not any harder than long tail. And why do provisional cast-on instructions tell you to crochet a chain, then thread the chain onto the needles? Why not just do a crochet cast-on using the waste yarn? I have a heck of a time getting the crocheted chain on the needles in the one perfect way that will allow the waste yarn to unzip. So much easier using a crochet cast-on.