Monday, July 31, 2006

Posting from vacation in NH

Greetings from steamy NH. Actually, last night was positively chilly, which felt good. We turned off the AC and opened all the windows, but my mom says it won't last.

Yesterday The Little Emperor turned 5, and threw a few royal fits to go with the occasion. Still, he gets over them.

On Saturday we did the Mt. Washington Cog Railway, which was an experience. I had gone up a mountain train in Switzerland in 1994 and somehow had the idea that this train would be more like that one. That one was fairly smooth and modern and was powered by electricity. The Cog Railway is powered by coal and steam. It travels about 3 miles an hour up the mountain, bumping on every tooth of the cog. The top of the mountain was in a cloud, so visibility was about 20 feet. Still, worth the experience once a decade or so. Mr. SABLE found the collection of mountain engines interesting.

My brother and his wife are coming through today on their way to VT. Then Shelagh is driving 3 hours to say Hi. We're going to The Fiber Studio together, which is about 3 miles from here. Wouldn't you know, I forgot my knitting and realized it when we were halfway to the airport in Madison. Time to restock!

Of course, lots of swimming at the best-kept secret pond. After all these years, this spring fed pond (in the midwest it would be a lake) is still almost completely undeveloped. It's about a mile across, nearly circular. There's a natural sandy bottom. Access is at a public right of way. There's one "cabin" visible across the lake. Really, other than the rustic architectural style, it's more like a McMansion. But otherwise, 360 degrees of unbroken woodland. Pictures when we get home. (I didn't bring the camera cable.)

Tomorrow, New England Aquarium and my Mom's birthday. Then, Wednesday we fly home.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

GIFTED! (In a Cheap A$$ sort of way.) AGAIN!

My C.A. Secret Pal has done it again. I stepped outside to do a little yard work and saw a box leaning up against the house by the mailbox

The Box

Opening the Box

The Taffy

Recycled packing material makes a nice pillow

Origami Every Day!

Knitterly Greeting Cards!

Candy necklaces claimed by the younger set.

Kool aid for dyeing! And gloves for protecting my hands, re-purposed from hair dye.

Wow, a gorgeous hardbound book! (I hope she's regifting this one or found it at a thrift shop: otherwise nothing C.A. about it!)

Thank You Miss Not-so Many Penny

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Occasional Knitting Content

I've been finishing up the set for Annette's grandson. The day before yesterday, the hat went AWOL for several hours. I was going berserk looking in places like under the couch cushions. Eventually the Little Emperor found it under the big green chair. Thank goodness! I didn't want to make another and I promised Annette I'd have the set done before we leave town on Friday.

I'm using Christine's Baby Booties pattern for the booties. It's a little fiddly for such a small item, but I like the results. If they really do stay on a baby's foot, it's worth the effort. I never tried on my own guys, but I know that most stuff that went on feet came off in short order.

Time to think of a vacation project. This needs to be something that can stop and start with little thought. Maybe a top-down raglan for one of the kids. I've got some Cotton Ease in bright kid colors...

Off to cast on for the other bootie.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Various updates

Mr. SABLE was not offered the position in New England, although they were impressed with his skills and experience. This is a bit of a relief, as the idea of having to move was a little overwhelming. So, he'll take his big promotion where he is and we'll enjoy our screen porch for several more summers before that bug bites him again. I hope that getting an answer will improve his mood: he's been on the grumpy side lately.

Very little knitting news to report. I made a matching hat to go with the sweater for Annette's grandson. Now must make some booties. I have a lot of half-formed ideas swimming around, but don't seem to find the time and focus to make them happen.

I went through my Cafe Press Shop prices and dropped them all a little bit. It's a learning experience. It's kind of slow going adding items. Each one requires the photos to be sized differently in order to print optimally. I could do this all fairly quickly if it weren't for the stream of interruptions. I'm not a natural born multi-tasker and I find that getting distracted really derails me more than it seems to derail other people. As I learn all the best sizes for each product, it will become a lot quicker for me. I hope to spend some time going through all my accumulated photos and culling the best for inclusion.

We're off to NH to see my parents at the end of this week. Probably not much blog-worthy news until we get back from there on August 2. But you never know.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A walk in the prairie...

There is a prairie restoration up the hill behind my sons' grade school. I took the new camera there, trying to "catch" monarchs. I'm starting to feel a little nutty about this, because I know they are taunting me! Maybe when the weather cools they'll slow down!

BTW: I decided this evening to open a Cafe Press store. I'm starting with the basic, which means limited options. May quickly upgrade to paid if it seems like there's any interest out there. Let me know if you think this is a good idea. Link in the sidebar! /gratuitous self-promotion.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Why am I a sucker for online quizzes???

I am nerdier than 46% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

Like Marji, I'm married to somone who would score in the highest ranks of nerdiness. But unlike Marji, I'm halfway there myself.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Big storm came through

We have a silver maple in our front yard that has always been a worrisome tree. It casts a lot of shade on our house, which is nice, but it drops a lot of stuff in our gutters, which is not so nice. Also, it wasn't well-shaped when it was young and it was planted too close to the house. Silver maples are fast-growing and fairly soft. They are prone to developing pockets that trap water and lead to rot. Last night, a big intense thunderstorm came through, sometime after 2 a.m. We were already awake from the storm when we heard the crack and the thud.

Some of the branches that snapped from the main lead were driven 8 inches into the ground. Good thing it was only foliage and lawn underneath. I got most of the smaller stuff pruned off and dragged to the curb with some help from my boys. The neighbor whose sailboat had a very close call came later with his chain saw and turned the big stuff into logs. I'm really grateful to him for that.

Here's a picture of Hailey, one of our two cats, who thought the downed limb made a great perch.

This is a photo of the cutest little girl who lives next door on the other side from the neighbor with the chainsaw.

She loves watching the big kids run around. The Little Emperor says when he grows up, he's going to marry her and they will have two cars (one a punch buggy (vw beetle)) and also a motor home.

Today in the mail, I got some Dale Baby Ull in the bright blue I needed to finish the set for Annette's grandson. I was about 10 rows worth short of what I needed for the matching hat and Trillian42 from Knittyboard came to my rescue. Thanks Trillian42.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Afternoon Update

Here is the cute little sweater for my friend Annette's grandson. It took 1.5 balls of the navy Dale Baby Ull and miniscule amounts of the blue and yellow. Coordinating hat to follow. I took this photo earlier today, before blocking and buttons. The sweater is damp and drying now. The buttons I chose are fairly basic, slightly brighter yellow than the yellow yarn. The yellow yarn is slightly brighter than it appears in the photo: it tends to vanish in bright sunlight, next to the navy.

Mr. SABLE will be quite elegantly outfitted for his interview. I went over to the Lands' End store hoping to get the goods for him (he hates shopping!) and found they don't stock the tailored items from the catalogs. I did get him a nice white shirt and fun tie. Then I popped over to the Men's Wearhouse, where the delightful Tatjana told me we really need to have him there and that, yes, simple alterations could be done by tomorrow. I phoned home and narrowed down the choices to two lightweight grey worsted wool suits: one Pierre Cardin, the other ... I forgot! When Mr. SABLE arrived with the boys, he immediately chose the Pierre Cardin suit. But Tatjana is a thorough salesperson! I had to take The Little Emperor out of the store and up the plaza to Dairy Queen while the fitting was going on. When we returned, Mr. SABLE was wearing a silk mock turtleneck (for casual wear), had chosen a blue sportjacket to coordinate with the pants from the suit, had two dress shirts, two silk ties, a tie chain, a pack of 3 pairs of socks, burgundy Rockport shoes and matching burgundy belt. Also, two cedar hangers for the jackets and burgundy shoe creme. Oh, and suspenders! Whew! What an inventory. I must say, he looked very elegant and managerial in the suit. As he was trying to leave, to take the boys to see "Cars", Tatjana kept thinking of one last item she needed to ask about... . I settled the bill (you don't want to know) and he went off with the kids to find ways to stay cool in the heat wave. He's ready for whatever happens for the next decade.

So, now, thinking out loud about my next knitting projects...
I need to do a little research on where to send my concept for a print submission.
I would like to make another version of the Shell Game, a little shorter, with narrower straps, and not forget the bust darts.
I have a concept for Knitty winter issue submission, which will be a quick knit and appropriate for the gift oriented issue.
Of these three things, only one is one I can post progress pics of.

And then, if I go and lose myself in my basement lair, maybe I'll decide to do something with the Hempathy, or the yarn I got at Herrschners, or, or, or.

and then, there's always socks.

Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel...

Why do people use that expression to indicate something is so easy that it's not worth respect? Let me tell you, shooting fish in a barrel is hard. This is the best shot I got! Most of the time, the fish are down deep in the dark murky water. That one day, they were circling near the top, so I shot. But really, fish in a barrel make a pretty boring picture.

Later today, I'll post updates on the nearly-done baby sweater and talk out loud to myself about what should be next.

Tomorrow, Mr. SABLE takes a quick trip to New England for job interview with a company he has always admired. That's triggering a lot of deep ambivalence from me and the kids. I would love to live near my folks, but I would hate to have to up and move 900 miles on very short notice. The cost of living is much higher there, so it would take a pretty sweet salary offer to lure us away from here. As far as I can tell, houses comparable to one we now own run about 2.5-3 times more than ours would get in the current market here. I doubt the salaries are 2.5-3 times as high. Today we have to see about getting Mr. SABLE some interview clothes. The last time he had to dress up was for the interview here about 10 years ago. He was a lot thinner then, so even though men's business shirts don't change that much over time and his are in great shape, they don't have what it takes. He's trying to decide on a jacket or not. Most of the biotech companies have a pretty lax dress code: more like college-boy-casual than business casual. Which makes dressing for an interview more confusing. I keep pushing for more formality, but one the interviewers here 10 years ago wore a t-shirt.

It's a bona-fide heat wave here. Yesterday we went to Devil's Lake for the afternoon. It was a little on the crowded side: no surprise for a sweltering Saturday. Still, we got a little space in the shade for our stuff and frolicked in the water for a couple hours. Today, after we get Mr. SABLE's wardrobe straightened out, I think he'll take the boys to see Carz. I took them while he was in Germany, so now it's his turn. A good plan for a sweltering Sunday.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

M Is For Milkweed

I hope to find one with a monarch for a double M, but this is what I've got so far.

M is also for Madison. There are some other M words in that picture: Monona Terrace, motor boat, Lake Monona.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Various updates: the outline of the post to come

Annette's Grandson's Sweater
My friend Annette is commissioning me to make a sweater and hat set for her grandson who will be delivered by c-section on Aug 1. Here's the progress photo. The finished sweater will have raglan sleeves and a pretty simple neckline. I'm going to cut open the steek you see running up the front. Worked in Dale Baby Ull on US #2 needles.

New Camera

One of the first pics from the new camera. Still a lot to learn. I did get to putter in the yard with the new camera a bit. I'm going to need something for super-macro. My hope (and justification) for buying this camera is that I'll be able to sell an occasional photo once I'm working with RAW files and enough mega-pixels. Mr SABLE can suggest some of my images be used at his workplace in product newsletters and such. A little nepotism is a good thing.

My Children Broke My St. Vincent's Teapot.

While Mr SABLE was in Germany, the Little Emperor and the Big Emperor were having a stupid fight over who got to sit in the corner of the porch. Little Emperor swept everything off the table in a fit of pique. Including the new teapot which I had just been photographing to blog about.

I Finished the Shell Game Pattern
It's now available for immediate download.

(click the pic to get to the pattern page. But you knew that, right?)

Mr SABLE went to Germany and came home again...
He left on July 4 and got home evening of the 9th. The older son made a sign to hold up at the airport that said, "Dr. M____" but at the moment the passengers emerged from the secure part of the airport, the two boys were off in the men's room and I was standing there holding the sign.

Little Emperor turns 5 at end of the month...
We need to plan a birthday party. We'll be in NH visiting my folks on the actual day, but probably will have the party the first weekend in Aug. This is the first year he will have required something like a real birthday party, with preschool friends. Yikes.

All the political stuff I never actually type out and post
This mostly to do with another one of those crackpot letters-to-the-editor in the local paper that make no logical sense. The author was claiming that we need to do whatever we can to ban gay marriage or anything remotely like marriage, because civilization will crumble if we don't. I shouldn't get tempted to respond because I know that someone like that will not be swayed by reason or logic. He makes a series of statements which have no logical connection to one another other than in his own mind and he calls it a persuasive argument. Given that his own letter contains not one speck of logic, why do I think it would do any good to try to respond? He has his own little circular argument and immune to all reason.

Must decide about new pattern: submit to print media? Make it and self-publish?
I have a concept which is simple and wearable, not earthshakingly novel or interesting. I think I'll make a swatch and some sketches and prepare a submission package. If it flies, I know I can deliver on a commitment to make a sample fairly quickly once the school year starts.

Anything else I forgot...
There must be more.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

An internet quiz...

Just in time for Philosophy Hour (weekdays at 10 p.m. my son always decides to ask the big questions).
I found this quiz on Zibibbo Is Good.

1. Aquinas (100%)
2. Aristotle (97%)
3. Spinoza (69%)
4. St. Augustine (64%)
5. Ockham (57%)
6. John Stuart Mill (57%)
7. Plato (54%)
8. Jeremy Bentham (47%)
9. David Hume (44%)
10. Epicureans (42%)
11. Jean-Paul Sartre (40%)
12. Kant (37%)
13. Nietzsche (37%)
14. Stoics (34%)
15. Ayn Rand (32%)
16. Nel Noddings (25%)
17. Prescriptivism (25%)
18. Cynics (21%)
19. Thomas Hobbes (21%)

New on Summer Knitty

Click on the pic to get to the pattern.

Monday, July 03, 2006

On a real live person...

Mr SABLE leaves for a brief business trip to Germany tomorrow, so we did a rush job on the fashion shoot before he goes. And he's taking the camera with him. He suggested that maybe I should buy a camera while he's gone. Hmmm. I'm dreaming of 8 megapixels and true digital SLR. It would be rash to just do that, though.

Anyway, do you think these pics are good enough for the pattern illustration? I'll get some detail shots, too, of course.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

My Shell Is Done

(Caution: This is the exact same post as the one in The Garter Belt Design Team Blog. You don't really have to read it twice. Unless you want to.)

Here it is, slightly damp from the dryer, finishing the process on the rack. Yep, the dryer. I ran my swatch through the washer and dryer and measured that for gauge. Any summer top of mine needs to be able to take the punishment of the routine laundry.

My top has a narrow lace border along the bottom edge and decreases toward the waist. Because my waist is tucked right under my bust, and because my belly has the permanently-pregnant look, I didn't really contour the waistline. I considered using short row darts over the bust line, but forgot to pay attention to that until after I had started the armhole decreases.

I knew I wanted a wide neckline, not too deeply scooped. I hate having to be careful not to bend over, or giving a peek show to whomever is across the table from me. I measured the space between my bra straps to get an idea of how wide my neckline could be. I also wanted to make sure my armholes were not deep enough to show bra or give a peek through from the sides. I'm pleased with how these measurements turned out.

I haven't tried it on again since the wash and dry, but in my preliminary try-on, I felt the shoulder seam area could have been narrower. If I make this pattern again, I will contour the arm shaping in a little more deeply and try for a total width of 3 inches along the shoulder seam.

I was undecided about how to trim out the armholes and neckline until the last minute. I thought about an applied i-cord edging, which I think would make a great variation. It could be either same or contrast color yarn. I thought about single-crochet, but I know many knitters fear crochet, and flat out will not consider a pattern that uses it. In the end, a narrow edging of simple 1 X 1 ribbing seemed like the best solution.

My shell is to fit my 46 inch bust and big hips. I used about 9 50 gram/100 meter skeins of Tahki Cotton Classic. Pattern should be ready by the weekend, if the Wendies are ready to go. Wendy Bernard's is the lovely red v-neck and Wendy Wonnacott is working on a blue v neck.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Homecoming

We arrived home yesterday afternoon to our crazy chaotic house. There was lots of mail and a pile of newspapers. I got two surprise gifts in the mail!

On the left is a nice note from Guro in Norway. She sent me a wooden needlecase for tapestry needles. This is perfect timing, because I recently noticed that the Little Emperor had tried to open my Chibi case by flipping off the lid, as opposed to unscrewing and cracked the plastic that attaches the screwthreads to the body of the case.

On the right is a nice note from Sarah in New Mexico, who sent a half-inch thick stack of articles about getting flax from the plant to a spinnable fiber and a sample of churro roving from some sheep that live near her!

Stash Acquisitions
What's a little vacation without yarn shopping? At the Goodwill in Waupaca I found two skeins of Red Heart Wool, with free patterns under the yarn bands! Yes, once upon a time, Red Heart made wool yarn.

On our little excursion to Stevens Point and Herrschners, I bought 3 balls of Noro at the regular price,

11 balls of Dale Falk for $3.49 each,

and 17 balls of Lana Grossa Novella, a 50% cotton, 50% wool blend at 99 cents each!

I didn't see it, but there must be an alpaca farm up near Waupaca. Then you could sell genuine Waupaca Alpaca yarn and fleece. It would be a great name for a minor league baseball team: the Waupaca Alpacas!

Almost caught up on the mountain of laundry. It's hot and steamy here today. The kids are happy to be back with their electronic amusements, but still want all the attention, all the time.