Monday, January 31, 2011

Finished and Frogged: Object(let)

Can-Can was one of three projects that came to San Diego with me, along with two sock projects. Before I left, I had remembered that I had found a critical error in my knitted fabric, so had put it in hibernation in late 2009. Had I corrected the error beforehand? That I had zero memory of, and I could not find the error when I scanned the knitted fabric before the trip. Adding to the confusion was the realization as I was packing that I had a partial back and a partial sleeve on the needles.

I forged ahead with the sleeve, which had no apparent errors, and bound it off on Saturday. On Sunday I pulled out the back and examined it as closely as I could (with a frenzied kitten dashing about my feet) and spotted the egregious error:

This error in the yarn over section is clearly from crossed stitches. Since this yarn (Berroco’s Seduce) has a mind of its own, it is a challenge to keep the stitches in proper order on the needles. And this happened 8" deep in a 16" panel. That’s over 40 rows in a lace pattern.

I considered the possible solutions. Then I bit the bullet.

Off the needles and rip,

with the assistance of feline saliva.

Three full skeins of Seduce on now re-wound.

And I realized that I only have one more month to finish Socks for Unc. And since both socks are beginning the gusset decrease, I need to invest some serious time in that project over the next few weeks.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

More than a Handful

We’ve been mulling this over for more than a year, but between the leg break (Caper) and travel schedule (ours), the planned cat adoption had been postponed.

Cat? Another? Don’t you already have...

Five? Yes.

And while five is five too many for a lot of folks, and three too many to be considered “normal,” truth be told, a sixth cat is essential for our home. You see, the new cat isn’t for us. The new cat is for our cat. And I’m not saying that in the I’m-too-embarrassed-to-admit-we-have-5-cats-so-I-have-two-and-my-husband-has-three sort of way.

Meet Piña:

One of her favorite pastimes is rearranging the furniture.

Okay. You’ll just have to take my word that that is her. This busy girl has no time to pose for photographs.

Piña is a rambunctious purr machine of under a year, freshly harvested from the local shelter, and Nacho’s new companion.

Nacho in a rare moment of chillin’.

Unlike the rest of the crew, Nacho sleeps only a few hours out of the day. The rest of the day he is wide awake and looking for ways to amuse himself. Often this comes in the form of harassing an intolerant calico. What better activity than to chase after a kitten of endless energy reserves and curiosity about the wider world?

We’re still getting to know each other, and Piña’s current behavior is very much a product of being young (around five months), and having been plucked from the confines of a shelter and dropped into a home with home sounds and home objects. Everything is new, exciting, and a bit scary.

When people ask about her name, they usually respond:
"Like Colada?" Sure. If you’d like. But just to be clear,
she’s a pine cone, not a pineapple.

Piña is currently confined to a private room, and a stress cage within that room unless one of us is directly supervising. Introductions with the other cats will begin once we’re certain she’s not harboring an upper respiratory infection as a parting gift from her shelter life. The other testing (aids, leukemia) came out negative, which is a positive result. Letting her fully loose in the house will wait for a few more weeks.

No white on this gal, except for a stray hair or two.

Please send me all the inner strength vibes you can. We’re gonna need ’em!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Passing Time: the San Diego Wrap-up Post

Our trip to San Diego was short but sweet. Did lots of story research while there, but also managed to find time to knit a bit, read a bit, and eat some “trendy” food. (Hint: My favorite food was the opposite of trendy.)

I managed to work on Can-Can,

in the still bright light of my awesome hotel room.

I also did a bit of sock knitting on my peat harrow socks. Sock #1 was completed just in time to go whale watching with me.

The people I was traveling with thought I was very weird.

Yep. That’s two flukes. Part of a pod of six heading to Mexico.

One night for dinner we ate at a restaurant where the chef was a former Top Chef contestant. Not his best night. The restaurant was so busy making dining an “experience,” that it forgot the reason we were there was the food. I won’t bother telling you the name of the restaurant.

Another night I narrowly avoided being dragged into a round of karaoke. This was at Analog, which was a truly fun and awesome restaurant, which also has fun and awesome food. Fortunately it took my table mates so long to come up with the perfect song (that’s the song menu they are pouring through) that it was time for us to leave before they made their move.

Another day the maintenance crew for the Blue Angels determined I was cooler than they were. (They were on leave that day.) That’s me in the center of the image next to the very fit much younger men.

One morning I had French toast stuffed with coconut vanilla pudding on the open patio at Café Elysa in in Carlsbad, CA. Since then I’ve read mixed reviews on the place, but based on our experience I don’t believe a word. Dee-licous!

Our last night free night we ate at an Afghan Restaurant.

This photo is a sad representation of how wonderful our meal was. So let me say it plainly: Our dinner at Chopahn Afghan Cuisine was the most wonderful, delightful, surprising, and amazing meal of our entire visit, and possibly the best food I’ve had in the past year. OMG!

My one regret about the trip is that the cup a corn push cart business at Horton Plaza was out of cup a corn the day we tried to sample it. I was curious to sample this snack, which comes in a selection of flavors including Mexican spice blend, lemon-pepper, and mayonnaise. Hmmm...

Next time...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Water Ball Travel Treasures

A handful of people know (and now you) that I have a rather unusual collection. I collect water balls (snow globes), yes. But not just any water ball. I collect darkly-themed water balls. There are no romping deer or winged angels to be found in my home.

So what’s a darkly-themed water ball, you ask?

The best example I can give, and the inspiration behind my collection, is a water ball from the special edition VHS box of Fargo depicting the wood chipper scene in all its blood-spattered snow glory:

Sure, it is rare to find a water ball that sinks to the same level of darkness as this piece (extreme), but it is also rare to find a water ball that meets the dark criteria at any point along the scale. Cute and precious reign in the water ball realm, it seems. No accounting for taste.

So knock me over with a feather when I found not one, not two, but four water balls to add to my collection on my journey to San Diego and back.

Graveyard Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas, on holiday clearance at Sam Goody.

San Diego Snowman (That's coal and a carrot. His hat is floating upside down) and

a shark from the CVS at Horton Plaza.

And finally a tipped cow from my local airport, saved for the return trip so I wouldn’t have deal with TSA issues.

These were about it for my souvenirs, with the exception of a few sale CDs and a handful of photos. I didn’t even attempt to find a yarn store in part because I’m gifted with several wonderful projects-in-process already, and several more in the queue. But mostly because I doubt the good people of San Diego with temps solidly in the 70s year-round, have a need for the quality and scope of wool that I demand.

One more post on the trip to follow. Then on to new and exciting things.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Knit Rubbernecking

There are always interesting things to see when traveling (and quite often not the things we traveled to see).

Take this rack of “scarves,” for example. Totally fun fur in the worst sense of the knit resurgence of the mid- to late-00's. Scarves on an airport gift store display in a cold weather climate is no shocker. But take a closer look.

You see, it’s not just a scarf. It’s an entire outfit for only $9.99! It’s a skirt. It’s a top. It’s a dress. It’s a cowl. And made entirely out of that gawdawful acrylic fun fur. (Did you see the rockin’ colors in the wider shot above?) It reminds me of an affordable clothing line that Dillards sold in the '80s. They were monotone mix and match knits. The entire line was either ivory or black, and consisted of simple pieces that could be interchanged to create different looks. Unos or Unis (edited - they were called Units. This web site has some photos), I think. I bought the ivory knit jump suit (loose fitting) and the black tube (tight fitting) that I wore over the jump suit around the torso and bum. The jump suit had substantial ease around the waist and tapered slightly over the thighs and upper arms, ending in tight wrists and ankles. Yes. I thought I looked so hip and fashionable. (Note the use of the past tense form above.) Thankfully, no pictures of me exist from that era.

Next up are some knit boots I spotted in a shoe store at Hancock Plaza in San Diego:

Anyone from a snowy climate knows those boots are not made for winter.

I did like this sweater - quite a bit:

Large gauge asymmetrical wool sweater at the Levi’s store in the same shopping plaza. It gives me ideas... And it certainly would make for a quick knit, once the proper calculations were done.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Harsh Re-Entry

I’m back. It’s been a week filled with knitting, reading, sunshine, and hard work. More on my explorations later. There’s a larder that needs to be restocked first. But here’s a taste of yesterday looked like:


That was my final view of San Diego before checking in for our flight home.


How we found our car at the long-term parking lot, minus a bit of snow on the trunk that had to be removed before we could put our suitcases away.

Believe it or not - and despite the fact that I have to shovel 8" of freshly fallen snow off our driveway before I do anything else this morning, I’m very glad to be back home.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Perplexed: The Packing Post

Over six inches of snow is on the ground outside, and the temps are firmly planted in single digits. High winds are expected throughout the day, bringing with it dangerously low wind chills. Wool, wool, and more wool, is all I have on my mind. And yet...

within 24 hours I will be in a sunny, warm place, where the highs are expected to be in the mid-60s to mid-70s through the extended forecast.

Those clothes are packed away, and I have forgotten what shirts are appropriate for those temperatures. Will long sleeves of any weight be too warm? Short sleeves would be the obvious solution in 80s and above, but what about 67?

More important, perhaps, than what I will wear, is what I will bring to knit and read.

Can-can is coming for certain. Loads of uninterrupted hotel room time for doing those lace repeats. (And btw, when I was packing up the sleeve bits to bring, I uncovered a partial BACK in the bottom of the bin. Perhaps that is where the mistake is hiding. Again, something to be explored in hotel room limbo.)

Socks for Unc I, is coming as well. I’ve reached the end of the cuff on the second sock, and am ready to make the flap and turn the heel. It will be good to return home with that set up for the final stretch.

And my sock has been lengthened and is ready to begin the toe decrease. (I think. I’ve thought this before and been proven wrong.)

And... I have finally polished off In the Kitchen. As much as I tried, this felt like a plodder. Mysteries shouldn’t be a chore to read, IMHO. Unreliable narrator, and rather than a mystery, the book is a thinly veiled outcry against slavery in the modern U.K. I can tell when an author has no natural familiarity with subject matter when they compensate by throwing terms and facts and details at the reader fast and furious (in this case culinary details in a restaurant kitchen, and commercial weaving). And that is In the Kitchen, to a “T”. I’m relieved to have it behind me.

On the heels of that “success,” I’m moving forward with Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee about a family of Korean immigrants living in contemporary New York. What it is: currently available in the bargain bins of many bookstore chains. What it is not: highly touted (at least as far as I know) by pedigreed book critics. Both indicators lean strongly toward this being a successful read.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A Brief Update on a Long-Neglected Project

Remember Can-Can Travel? Or should I say, Absolutely Cannot-Cannot Travel?

When I last worked on—and abandoned—this project, it was during my period of living on the floor during the cat broken leg recovery. Working on it sitting on the floor (which I had to do otherwise the cat would have tried to jump onto my lap) turned out to be less than ideal. Go figure.

I had looked down at one point and spotted a mistake about five rows back that annoyed me. Seemed very noticeable. Glaring even. And tinking back on lace with all its yos, k2togs and ssks is miserable and prone to creating even more mistakes and disasters (I discovered that trying to insert a lifeline in Seduce was a whole other misery and Seduce ladders down with only a sideways look), so I packaged the entire project up in a clear storage container where it has lived untouched for all 2010.

In the years that I have been focusing on crafting, I have accumulated a glut of projects that have been set aside due to their challenging nature (scope, learning curve, level of concentration needed) to the point that I’m finding it hard to breath. Everywhere I look there’s a project that I mean to go back to at some point. And I really really want to start some new projects (I have a dyed silk and beaded quilt that I have been meaning to start for the last five - no kidding - years.)

A few days ago I stared over at Can-Can’s storage container and decided to pull it out. 2011, I’ve resolved, is going to begin by “unsticking” some stuck projects on all fronts, and tinking back to the mistake so that I could begin moving forward on this project seemed like an obvious choice.

At the time that I had put it away, I had not marked the error. Not the row. Not the stitch. It was obvious, after all.

Now studying it, there is nothing that bothers me. I had the right number of stitches between each of my stitch markers. My row counter was on the row I had just finished.

... (bafflement)

Had I tinked back successfully and re-set my row counter before stowing it away? Perhaps. But if I had, I have no memory of that.

And apparently no memory of whether this was the start of a back or a sleeve, which is harder to decipher than you would think given that they are both rectangles with no shaping. And counting the number stitches on the needle wasn’t terribly helpful given that the lace patterning means wide differences in that number from row to row. It took me a lot of cipherin’ and calculatin’ (and some deadpan stares when it was kindly pointed out that it might be easier just to frog back and start over), but I have confirmed that this is, indeed, the start of a sleeve.

At any rate, welcome to 2011. Can-Can is in the house!