Monday, April 30, 2007

Spinning and Swatching

No, you haven’t stumbled upon the wrong blog by mistake, there is actually some spinning and knitting content here on Yin and Yarn for a change.

First up, spinning.



Fiber: Dicentra Designs Blue Faced Leicester Top (5.2 oz total)
Colorway: Longbottom Leaf
Project Plan: TBD but likely socks

Spinning Details
Singles: Slightly less than 25 wpi - Approximately 27 degree twist angle

This bobbin represents about half the total fiber. Nothing fancy attempted in trying to manage the color runs. I just split the top in half and then split each half again, keeping each section in order so that I start them all at the same spot in spinning.

This top practically spins itself, making it perfect for a bit of pre-trip anxiety stress spinning.


Now, on to the knitting content portion of this post…


What I had originally planned to have completed for our trip:




Actual current project progress



Basketweave Vest
Handspun Yarn Details
Fiber: Colonial Wool Top (2 pounds total)
Colorway: Unknown ancient colorway (purchased over 9 years ago)
Project Plan: Basketweave Vest from Jamieson’s Book 2
Progress: Swatch completed

This is a DK weight 3-ply that I spun up in Spring and Fall of 2005 to keep from going insane while taking Trigonometry and Calculus.

(ETA: the spinning was much healthier than fantasizing about the various ways I would like my Calculus teacher to meet with an untimely end. Oh, I still did it, just not as much as I would have without the spinning. It wasn't just the difficult coursework - he was *not* a nice person and especially didn't like women over 40. A fact he made very clear throughout the quarter to me and the rest of the 'non-traditional' women students in the class. As you can tell, I'm still a bit worked up about it.)


would it be too pathetic to start considering yarn a finished project?


so not a vest...

Leaf Lace Shawl
Yarn: Lisa Souza Baby Alpaca lace
Colorway: Olive Tones
Project Plan: Leaf Lace Shawl by Fiber Trends
Progress: started (soft of - see below)

the real yarn is so much prettier than my photo would indicate

A better color representation
Look at how huge that skein is - it took forever to wind!

Note to self: must get a real swift at some point


I love this yarn!! First of all the color is glorious (my photo, sadly, does not nearly do it justice), but the yardage is incredible – 1500 yards. At a mere $34 this is such a bargain!

I cast on for the Leaf Lace shawl Saturday night. I thought things were going along well but Sunday morning I saw what had been obscured by the dim lighting* of the living room the previous evening. For some reason my yarnovers at the right-hand edge of the right-side rows are considerably smaller than the rest of the yarnovers. It’s especially apparent when compared to the left-hand edge.


unevenly stretched out to show lack of similarity between yarnovers


So more negative progress has been made - I’ll be ripping this out and starting over.

I was contemplating taking the shawl as trip knitting but I’ll probably be taking my old standby, socks, instead.

I’m thinking of finally trying some of my Koigu that I purchased at Madrona 2 years ago for one of the patterns from Nancy Bush’s Knitting on the Road. But which colorway? And which pattern?

Yes, Vanessa (aka, The Koigu Queen!), I'm still a Koigu virgin

Things are amping up here at Casa del Chaos now that there is less than a week to go for vacation. So much to do before we leave! And then there’s the actual flying part, but let’s not think about that right now.

My friend Jo has been posting wonderful pictures of the Irish countryside and sending me wonderful travel ideas that have us even more excited to see things in person. I can’t wait to visit with her at the lovely new yarn store in Kenmare (no website yet unfortunately)!

*Our 1960s ranch home has remained remarkably unchanged since it was first built (who knew that the original gold fleck formica was so durable?). This includes some pretty inadequate original 1960s lighting throughout the house, making evening knitting and spinning challenging.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Surprise!

Back in February, Mr. CPA and I made a quick trip to a small camera shop in our neighborhood to get some very small, rather expensive photos taken:



There are lots of good reasons to have a passport these days. For instance, now I’ll be able to enter Canada, our friendly neighbor to the North. Yes, in all the years that only a drivers license was required I never managed a visit, in spite of living here in Washington for 40 ((cough, cough)) some years. I’m sure the lovely new passport will change all of that. Well, that and reminders from Angela, Mel, and Lara that I need to come visit!

But I digress, where was I? Oh, yes the reason for the passports. (sorry Canada, it wasn’t just for you)

Sometime in late December, Mr. CPA and I had begun to discuss the possibility of taking a special trip in honor of his upcoming 50th birthday, the kind of trip that involves passports, beautiful scenery, cars with reversed driver seating, and with the potential for exciting adventures due to driving on the ‘other’ side of narrow roads while shifting with one's left hand and attempting to remember new traffic rules. Oh and, of course, it should also be someplace that Mr. CPA has always dreamed of visiting.

In short, Ireland.

Once the decision was made, we quickly realized we’d better get busy seeing about getting our passports. Since we had heard that due to the increased screening required by Homeland Security, there was currently a 10-week* wait for first-time passport processing it seemed like a good idea to hurry and get our paperwork in as soon as possible.

As it turned out, ‘as soon as possible’, ended up being in the early part of February – when I had just returned to work from being so sick and whacked out on codeine cough syrup at the end of January.

We got our passport photos taken in the evening after work. I was still feeling pretty blah at this point with a bonus helping of pale so I may have overcompensated just a bit attempting to not look half-dead in a photo that I would have to live with for the next 10 years.

Which might explain this:


I'm ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille


I look so, umm, brightly colored. And surprised. Like I’ve just been the victim of a drive-by lipsticking or something. In retrospect, I guess could have toned down the makeup just a touch.

I had been joking around with the photographer immediately prior about the fact that I’m not very photogenic and so I’m typically not pleased with my pictures, but I figured that no matter what I thought of my photo right now, in 10 years I would think it was wonderful since the photo would look so much younger than I would at that point. The joking led to laughing and smiling, things that are evidently incompatible with a passport photo. So I was trying hard *not* to smile per the photographer’s instructions, which apparently led to the look of surprise in the finished shot.

But in a way it’s kind of good – the surprised look I mean.

Because if I should ever be in a situation where someone has to very closely examine my passport photo in an official capacity, I can guarantee you that I will look just that surprised. Probaby even more so. And since I blush when nervous I’ll probably look just as brightly colored too.

ETA: I meant to add that I think the picture turned out okay. Well, more than okay since it probably looks *better* than real life. It's amusing that my official photos (driver's license, work badge, etc.) always turn out much better than any more casual photos.



*being a bit Type A, we decided to pay the extra money for expedited processing even though we weren’t leaving on our trip until May. We both knew we wouldn’t be able to plan anything until we had it the passports hand. It turns out expedited processing really really is expedited (being the federal government we weren’t sure) and we had our passports in 10 working days!




Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Full Recovery

No, not me unfortunately, I’m still fighting the crummy virus*. The tank top, however, is finally finished and feeling fine.

After discovering that the tank's armholes were too long, I removed the crochet trim and ripped back the tank straps to a more suitable point and then did a three-needle bind-off for the shoulders:


step 1: k2tog from the front and back needles


step 2: lift first stitch on needle over new stitch
as per regular bind-off



finished seam

I re-applied the crochet trim at approximately one crochet stitch to every-other knit stitch around (except in a couple of random places where I had to change the ratio to get a better look).

The finished tank top:

A seasonally appropriate FO?
The start of new, improved knitting habits
or one of the sevens signs of the apocalypse?
You decide.

The tank looks a little crooked but it's really not, I just didn’t notice that it wasn't quite laid out properly until I looked at the finished picture while posting.



Project Details
Pattern:
Artful Yarns #92148
Yarn: Candy in Bubblegum (#9365) - I used one more ball than called for in the pattern
Difficulty: Super Easy


This brings me to a total of three finished projects since January which, according to the self-imposed rules of my ‘No Knitting Left Behind’ Project, entitles me to start a new project as a reward (now you know why I was so anxious to finish this project!).



*I cannot believe how much I’ve been sick this year – I really hope this is it for awhile. Fortunately this virus is not quite as bad as the really impressive January sickness so I am able to actually sit upright and (slowly) work on some knitting this time.


Monday, April 16, 2007

Suddenly Spring!

When Spring Appears

Meadowlarks give lusty cheers
when spring appears
when spring appears.

Buds and seeds prick up their ears
and blades of grass show eager spears.

And only icicles weep tears
when spring appears
when spring appears

Aileen Fisher

Spring photos from around my yard
(if you prefer puppies to flowers, scroll down to the bottom)

Rhododendron



Ajuga (bugleweed) and daylilies

Japanese Maple (acer palmatum)


Dwarf Fothergilla



Bleeding Heart




Japanese Cherry
(okay I cheated with this one it's not from my yard - it's from the mall parking lot)



Another sign of Spring:
Our neighbor stopped by yesterday to show us her adorable new puppies (only 10 weeks old). They are a cross between a Boston and a Pug - a Bug!
These were the best shots I could get, these little rascals are a bundle of energy and don't really hold still.

Brindle Bug (Brin for short)


Lady Bug and Brindle Bug


These photos are about the sum total of what I accomplished this weekend, with the exception of a bit of spinning and knitting (photographic evidence soon).


Mr. CPA has been quite ill this last week with a nasty virus courtesy of the rather ironically named Dept. of Health. I held out hope that my alleged immune system would rally this time since I made it through an entire week of close contact without displaying any signs of viral activity. But, ummm, no.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

You've got mail!

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy: They are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
Marcel Proust

What’s better than yarn in the mail? Unexpected yarn (and treats!) in the mail!

I was picking up the mail Friday and there was a note in my mailbox informing me that I had a package at the front desk that was too large to fit in the box. Hmmmmm, I didn’t remember ordering anything recently. Had I ordered something awhile back and forgotten about it?

As soon as I saw the return address on the package I knew it was from my friend Jacqui! I raced through my remaining errands so I could hurry home and open it up. (LOL, that sounds like I’m so self disciplined! I really don’t have that much self-restraint. I likely would have opened it in the car if it hadn’t been well-taped! Note to self: must keep extra pair of scissors in the car from now on).

Inside the box was an envelope marked ‘Open me last’. I dutifully set it aside and one by one pulled out several nicely wrapped packages (in a pretty Asian-style wrapping paper – I really wish I had thought to take a photo before opening all of them) .

Jacqui knows about my extreme addiction fondness for coffee so she sent me some delicious French Roast (and a fair trade coffee too!) ground for my ultra low-tech Melitta cone:



An autographed copy of Stephanie’s most recent book (from her visit to see Stephanie speak at the Tattered Cover):




But wait! There’s more! A treasure trove of treats:


Isn’t the frog bag adorable? Jacqui couldn’t have known this ahead of time but that is one of the frog designs I looked at when trying to find tree frog samples for my graphic designer while we were working on my business logo!

And sock yarn! I love Opal and I’m looking forward to trying the Knit Picks sock yarn too. A new Chibi in blue (one really cannot have enough of these). The journal is perfect too. I always have at least one journal or notepad with me at all times because it seems that these days if I don’t write my thoughts down they’re gone for good! The kitty stickers are so fun – very retro.

Lastly, I opened the envelope to find a lovely note from Jacqui.

The timing couldn’t have been better. My morning had been spent trying to collect money from three stores that haven’t paid me for merchandise delivered in January. It was a bit discouraging to realize that there are some people who evidently do not feel at all bad about ordering and taking delivery of merchandise to sell in their store and then not paying for it.

But here was the other side of things – a kind, thoughtful friend who mailed off a fun package of treats for no reason except to surprise me.

And I was surprised. And delighted. And grateful.



Meow!



Wednesday, April 11, 2007

We interrupt this tank top...

Just when the crochet trim and I had reached a state of d├ętente…

I finished the neck and one arm and decided it might be prudent to actually try the tank on again to check my progress. There will be no photographic evidence of the results provided.

Now I would like to point out that I had indeed tried the tank on the previous evening, after finally managing to correctly sew it up but prior to applying the trim. I wasn’t sure I really liked how it looked on me but I wanted to get this project finished up so I decided to just forge ahead and believe that all would be resolved in the end (denial is a powerful coping tool).

Taking a more critical (and extensive) look at this in the daylight, it was clear that adjustments were needed in addition to the crochet trim if I was actually ever going to wear this tank. I don’t believe there is a PNW summer hot enough to compel me willing to expose as much underarm (and undergarment) as the tank was showing.

So. I will be taking out the crochet trim and then ripping back the top of the tank in order to reduce the armscye depth. After pinning up the tank to preview the results of the proposed alterations, I could also see an additional bonus to this decision. The now shortened tank is a bit more flattering. The ribbing pattern that cleverly enhances my rather modest bosom also accentuates some other areas that don’t really require that kind of assistance (namely the zone below my alleged waistline). The shorter length reduces the unwanted enhancement effect somewhat.

For the next project, maybe a shawl or something!

Toby Action Cam
This is not a picture of a small terrier being tormented despite what it looks like.

Solar-powered terrier action!

Mr. CPA is wearing the leather work gloves because Toby likes the rough stuff. With the gloves Toby can play as hard as he wants without hurting anyone (he loves these gloves and pulls them out of his toy basket to bring to Mr. CPA for playtime)

Mr. CPA has actually taught Toby to make a noise that sounds like 'wrestle'. It's hilarious.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

An Unhappy Union

Is there a secret to combining crochet and knitting? Because this seems like a bad combination.
Also this yarn is a bit splitty so the crochet action is kind of slow going. After reworking the front edging several times, I've settled on an every other stitch spacing for the most part. Except for the areas where I have to randomly crochet into every stitch to make it look right.

the now 'un-mobiused' tank is subjected to it's crochet finish

Because of the way the neck decreases are done in the pattern, some sort of edging is definitely needed. I just am not sure the crochet really works here.
I suppose I'd better try it on before I finish the whole thing in order to make sure this non-flexible crochet edging is at the correct ridgidity gauge for the flexible ribbing of the tank.


Completely gratuitous terrier photo:


Toby enjoying the brief bit of sunshine we got this morning



Saturday, April 7, 2007

Negative progress

I have had Casa del Chaos all to myself today since Mr. CPA and the youngest manchild are up north attending an event at the boy’s college of choice (which I’ve been referring to as Empty Nest University).

I successfully darned a hole in a sweater (not hand knit) that has been awaiting my attention for, oh, about a year.

Next I started in on finishing a simple tank top that I started last spring.*

Look, one seam done!

Do you see the problem? How about here:


Yes, I’ve cleverly managed to make one half of a tank top moebius. ::sigh::

Normally I sew things up on the dining room table, which has plenty of room to spread out. Since no one was home to complain about me watching marathon home improvement programs, I decided to use the much less accommodating coffee table in the front room so I could watch HGTV while I worked. Evidently in squinching things together on the table I didn’t notice that I’d twisted the tank top and was sewing the left front to the right back.



**I really think I would have finished this last year but I ran out of yarn. I was waiting for my LYS to order more but it never arrived. Then summer ended. I finally ordered some yarn from another source but the incentive to finish a tank top in the dead of winter was somewhat lacking on my part.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Peeps for Passover

No, they're still not kosher for Passover.
Peeps illustrating the ten plagues of Exodus

ETA: I didn't create the peeps tableaus. I found the link via dooce.com.

Not quite according to plan

The minutia of my day that will probably interest hardly anyone…

Scheduled plan for today:
9:50 am - Leave for 1+ hour trip to hair appointment 60 miles away.**
11:00 am - Arrive in town early for 11:30 appt with plenty of time to pickup a coffee and/or check out local shops
12:00 pm - Depart for home
1:00-ish pm (depending on traffic) - Arrive home, finish a few inside chores
1:30 pm - Go outside in glorious sunny weather and garden for the rest of the afternoon.

Actual Events:
10:30 am - Leave later than planned due to several unexpected phone calls.
11:30 am - Arrive just in time, having driven well above the posted speed limit in several places in attempt to control the time-space continuum.
12:50 pm - Leave salon
12:51 pm - Determine weird car noise is actually muffled cell phone tone harmonizing oddly with music from radio.
12:52 pm - Agree to meet oldest manchild 20 miles from current spot for emergency parental cash infusion.
1:10 pm - Stop at bank for cash
1:30-ish - -Curse Puyallup South Hill traffic after taking wrong turn, wonder aloud why anyone lives here, avoid near collision with traffic-deranged driver.
1:40 pm - Meet oldest child and deliver cash, chit chat, get iced coffee and large water for trip home since it is now quite warm outside.
2:00 pm - Depart and head for freeway. Note with concern the solid line of non-moving traffic that you must now merge with, wave gratefully to nice person that lets you into the nearest lane.
2:30 pm - Check odometer to see that less than 10 miles have been traveled and that you are nowhere near any freeway exit. Regret drinking that delicious iced mocha latte in the first few minutes of the journey home, sense that the remaining car time may be less than enjoyable.
4:00 pm - Arrive home. Decide garden will be fine until tomorrow.


**We moved to our current house almost 8 years ago and in that time I have tried repeatedly to find a local stylist that I like but these adventures in haircutting always turn out really badly (like the time I ended up with square hair), so I keep returning to my stylist in Enumclaw. It’s far enough away to be inconvenient but close enough that I’m not really forced to find someone new. On one hand Mr. CPA thinks it’s absolutely silly that I drive so far for a haircut. On the other hand he is happy not to be forced listen to me rant endlessly about my bad, bad hair, which is what always happens when I get it cut closer to home. Plus her rates are quite affordable so that the cut, tip and gas cost actually end up being less than getting it cut in the town where I live.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

I take the cake

The cupcake that is! Friday I came home to find a package waiting for me. Inside was the adorable little cupcake pincushion I won in a drawing on Vallen’s blog.




Isn’t it fun? It is even cuter in person. And the best kind of cupcake; high fiber and zero calorie! I will really enjoy using this.
(ETA: the cupcake is made out of felted knitting and felt. It is incredibly soft)



Vallen also tucked in one of the clever fabric flower pins she makes (you can see more of them here )


This gift is made even more amazing by the fact that I never win anything. Nothing*. Every drawing I enter is pretty much the triumph of hope over experience. Of course, I guess I really can’t say that any more. Do you think this is a turning point with my luck?

Thanks so much, Vallen!



*I know what you’re going to say Vanessa, and that knitting bag does not count because you were the one who won it not me. I didn’t say that I don’t have incredibly generous friends who give me the door prize that they won!