Monday, June 30, 2008

First Fulled Yarn


This is a 200 yd. skein spun from Lilac Falkland roving from Abby Franquemont. It's 10 wpi. I've spun some of this before, but I think I did a better job this time, and this time I fulled the yarn with hot, cold, hot, cold, hot, cold baths. I like the result. The skein is rather sloppy after all that squeezing and agitation, but I plan to wind it into a ball right away. Falkland is not the softest yarn, so I'm planning a "decorative" scarf for myself that will go under a collar or something and not be right next to my neck.


I finished a bunch of cleaning in the guest room today. It has become a catchall, and it was really a mess. I still have an item of furniture to move and a desk full of photos to sort in there. My DD is coming later this summer to help me hang some different curtains, but at least the room is livable again. I am expecting a guest in a couple of days--a DGD, and the portacrib is already set up.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

OOPS!

In yesterday's post about the novel Winter Study I left out something really important. At one point in the story one of the young researchers impresses Anna Pigeon by telling her that her socks which keep her feet so comfortable in such extreme conditions are handknitted by her mother to fit her feet. A knitter mention!

Last night I finished spinning some roving that I had on hand, and today during the NASCAR race I plied it. I just finished fulling it and hanging it to dry. Pictures and specifics will follow tomorrow.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Audiobook Adventure

Nevada Barr, who writes a series of mystery stories involving a National Park Ranger, Anna Pigeon, that are set in various National Parks, has written Winter Study, a novel set in America's least-visited park, Isle Royale, in Michigan. This is a return setting for her, since one of her earlier books, set in the same park, used the background of fishing, hiking, and diving to enhance a suspenseful thriller. This new book uses as a background the oldest continuous study of wildlife in the United States, the Wolf and Moose Study on Isle Royale. The novel is a really good read. I actually downloaded the audiobook from Audible because I wanted to listen while spinning, knitting, and housecleaning. The reading by Rosenblatt was very well done. The plot is highly suspenseful, and the interesting information about a world that I will probably never see was fascinating. That's the thing about Barr's novels--she takes you both to places that you will never get to go and to places that you have been. I would recommend the book highly, but it is not in-car listening for a family trip, since it does include the f-word at certain times. I used to read Barr's novels faithfully, but I need to catch up a little on some of them. I'll have to check the public library.

I should perhaps point out that this is great keep cool reading. I usually get warm while spinning, but I had to turn the air conditioner thermostat up because I got cold just listening.

I am also reading--book in hand--the rest of the Oregon series by Clive Cussler and co-authors. I will review the series as a whole later.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Survivor


Our first tomato, only slightly larger than a quarter. This is one of those little sugar sweet tomatoes. It is remarkable, however, because it survived the baseball size hail that we had last week. Being knocked around seems to have inspired the tomato plants because they are now covered with blooms.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sewing for Granddaughters


Three quilting cotton batik print dresses for my DGDs. I should have made an artsy outdoor shot, but I finished them after supper and didn't want to wait until tomorrow.

I only managed a tiny bit of knitting today on a sock, but I'll catch up tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Safe Haven


Through the storms we have had in the past week, including the big hailstorm, the babies have been secure in their nest. The chimes have been quite loud, but it doesn't seem to bother them in the least. This is the second year for the nest in this spot. They seem to enjoy the swinging.

Friday, June 20, 2008

"Boutiqued"





A baby gift--we take our local school seriously.

Lace Progress at Last!


I've been all wound up in the evenings because I've been serving on a committee at school in the afternoons that I find difficult to serve on, and it makes me very nervous. Last night, I had absolutely had it! I apprehensively picked up my Adamas Shawl, thinking that I could just mess that up as well. Amazingly, I managed to finish Chart 1, and I knitted Chart 2 all the way up to the "dreaded" Row 7. You will notice that I am using bright red lifelines of old crochet thread. They are much easier to deal with for me than dental floss and still fit right in the little holes on my KP Harmony needles. I think one reason that I'm finding the knitting easier is that I have gone down to a size that makes my fabric a little firmer. I got that tip from the Adamas group on Ravelry and from Eunny's excellent lessons. The yarn is KP Shimmer. It has appeared here before and then been frogged. Perhaps it will make it this time.
Another book--Black Wind by Clive and Dirk Cussler. In this book, the original Dirk Pitt is now the older mentor, and his son Dirk and daughter Summer are the protagonists. The plot was entertaining. I'm obviously going to have to go back into some other books to determine where these younger Pitts entered the story.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

It's Hard to Concentrate on Knitting Lace




The first of three hailstorms this evening. At least we got rain, since unlike the people in the tragically flooded Midwest, we are experiencing a lengthy drought. (The barren ground is not due to drought--we are killing out some particularly stubborn wild trash grasses in order to go back with native grass.)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Totally Random Musings



Jr. won!!!!!!!

It was an interesting week--


I did get my sewing machine back in working order, so I can begin sewing again.


I worked at our business to get my monthly bookkeeping done.


I drove out of town two days to play with my DGDs while their mom was at work. On one of the days, the older DGD and I “planted” a sweet potato. I am stealing this picture from her mom’s private blog. They think I did a good job of choosing a sweet potato that looks like a seal.





The seal comment is a segue to a book review. After all, seals-ocean-Dirk Pitt-other novels by Clive Cussler, right? I downloaded an audiobook to listen to while driving and finished on Thursday after I got home. The book is Golden Buddha by Clive Cussler and Craig Dirgo. The reader on the audiobook did a particularly good job. This book is evidently part of a series that does not feature Pitt, but instead a group of people in a private company who travel around the world making money by doing good. I really enjoyed the adventure, but I did not feel as involved with the characters as I usually feel with a Pitt novel. Of course, I’ve read quite a few of those over the years, so I may be judging by an accumulation of character development. And, frankly, no one reads Cussler for character development. The plot and the variety of settings are what make his books great fun to read. Golden Buddha certainly lived up to expectations on both those counts.
The DGS is learning to ride his bicycle with training wheels, and his little sister has discovered the sprinkler. She toddles right in there for a cooling spray on a hot day.



On Friday, I began the really deep cleaning that I have been needing to do in our bedroom. I have promised myself that I will work mornings on the house, etc., all summer, and use only afternoons and evenings for fiber and fun. I almost had fun yesterday, though, cleaning a window. I had read somewhere recently that the new microfiber cleaning cloths were wonderful for window cleaning, so I bought some the other day. My windows are fairly easy to clean since they tilt in, but I always used what seemed like rolls of paper towels. Well, the microfiber cloths are indeed just the thing. I was very pleased. I continued with the other two windows today. I’m also washing draperies and curtains and the “extra” bedding things like throws and pillows, so I’m not moving very fast, but that’s OK.



Because I was in a Clive Cussler mood—I’ve been a little behind lately—I also visited my local library. It’s a small town, so it’s not open on weekends or evenings. I checked out two novels, and read one yesterday. Hey, it’s summer vacation! Cyclops was a typical Pitt adventure. It was a page turner, but I did not find the settings as compelling as some of his longer globe-hopping books.



Here is a picture of the second Wonderful Wallaby for DGD2 being embraced by the first WW that was knitted for her big sister. (Nothing like an artsy shot on the bathroom vanity!)





I held it up to her the other day, and I think it will fit just fine this winter. I also tried it on DGD3 to judge for size. I really love knitting with the Plymouth Encore. It feels very cushy. I have not yet blocked the sweaters, and I hope blocking will make them even better. My garter stitch kitchener needs improving, though. After a jillion sock toes, I've gotten pretty good at the stockinette, but the stretchiness of the garter stitch makes it harder for me somehow. Now all we need is a cooler Texas winter instead of the relatively warm one like we had last year.



I spent Saturday afternoon struggling with a lace project. I had set a goal of knitting a Kiri this year, but after several false starts, the project was languishing. Then I saw the Yarn Harlot’s pictures of her Adamas Shawl. I like the pattern better than Kiri, so I thought I’d take the same yarn and try it. I have spent most of the afternoon tinking and frogging, but I think I’m finally getting the hang of it. I’ve learned a new skill, the cable cast-on.

I did not knit in public for Worldwide KIP day because I did not go out in public, but I did get some people interested at the dentist’s office the other day by knitting a sock in the waiting room. I was already on the foot, so I didn’t get to demonstrate the wonder of turning a heel, but at least one onlooker found the idea of the self-striping yarn to be very interesting. I have had to change dentists because my former dentist passed away last fall. I’m not very adventurous, so I’m going to his son in a nearby town.
Do the label printers at meat departments have spell check? I bought half a Bavarian Ham the other day and discovered the grocery store label describes it as "Barbarian Ham."
Tonight I'm planning to watch the next installment of When We Left Earth on the Discovery Channel. I watched the first one last Sunday night and really enjoyed it. The Mercury Astronauts were my childhood heroes. Like most children who grew up in the 1950s and early 60s. I followed their careers and training in the gloriously large and wonderful pages of Life and Look. My parents were very strict about school responsibilities, but I remember being allowed to stay home long enough to watch the lift off of Alan Shepard and his safe splashdown a few minutes later. I ran all the way to school to take the news to my 6th grade class. In spite of the colored pictures in the magazines, and even most of those were black and white, it seemed odd to watch the launches of the Mercury flights in color and to see colored film of the astronauts during the flights. I will forever remember watching the launch of John Glenn on a grainy black and white tv while sitting on the couch in my pjs wrapped in a blanket. The photography in the Discovery Channel series is phenomenal. This is one of the times I wish I had HD.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Another Book Post

I am not avoiding knitting content, or sewing for that matter. I have excuses. First of all, I'm making great progress on the Wallaby--the sleeves are attached, the placket is begun, and I am now knitting the part of the yoke that cannot be knit in the round. I would make a picture, but it just looks like a pink blob, with black yarn stitcholders and rubber bands for markers, not to mention yarn ends hanging in several directions. I'll photograph it when it is done. Speaking of markers, I got caught the other day needing sock markers while I was knitting out somewhere. A paperclip on one side and a pull tab on the other worked just fine and aroused interest in onlookers.


I also did some sewing today, sort of. I cut out the bodices and ties to sundresses for all three DGDs. The skirts can be torn from the fabric later. That was several different pieces, since the bodices are lined and so is each shoulder tie. The fabric is green, turquoise, orange, and yellow batik quilting cotton from my stash. I decided to sew until I got to the part that I had to press, which meant I could assemble all twelve ties and three bodices and three bodice linings. Well, on tie number 10, my machine jammed. I cleared it. It jammed again. I removed the throat plate and the bobbin case and cleaned and checked and reassembled. It jammed again. I quit for the day. If it doesn't work tomorrow (meaning that the sewing fairies didn't show), I will get out my secret weapon #1--a Singer Featherweight, circa 1950. I also have my grandmother's Singer in another room in its own cabinet, but I'd have to use a knee control again, and I'm not very good with that anymore. The fancy computerized machine can go to the repair place on Tuesday.


So, since I couldn't sew, I read. The books was Stranger in Paradise by Robert S. Parker. I picked it up from the new books shelf at the library last week when I was in a hurry. I must confess that I don't really like reading Parker although I have absolutely loved the television and movie renditions of his characters. The old Spenser television series starring Robert
Urich was a real favorite of mine, and recently I've enjoyed the Jesse Stone movies starring Tom Selleck. This was a Jesse Stone book, so I decided to try it. I found the characters in the book lacking in the depth that I see portrayed in the film, and I find Parker's style unbearably spare. I do not particularly admire writers who are verbose, but Parker makes Hemingway seem wordy.

Books and More

There’s nothing like starting out the summer with a political conspiracy thriller audiobook. I downloaded this book intending to use it for the four days that I will be driving to my daughter’s during the first two weeks of summer vacation, but I became so anxious about the outcome of the story that I listened while knitting, cleaning, and playing games on the computer just to find out what happened. All 110+ chapters of The Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer were compelling. I found the shifts in point of view easy enough to follow and they added to the suspense. I did find the tendency of the audiobook to put in a musical interlude just after shots were fired or something slammed to be extremely irritating—the story had enough suspense without it. If you are not a fan of conspiracy novels, you may not like this book, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. Even though it does not qualify as great literature, it is a wonderfully absorbing listen.


Other books I have read this week:


John, Paul, George, & Ben—If you’re of my generation, the tendency is to finish that phrase with “Ringo” instead of “Ben.” As quirkily humorous as this book is, I’m sure that effect was deliberate. It is listed for grades 2-5, but my kindergarten-age DGD appreciated the picture book part of the story even if she was not interested in the strictly historical information in the back. Historical information? Think of the title as Hancock, Revere, Washington, & Franklin. The first part of the book concentrates on a personal youthful characteristic of each future leader that later turns into an outstanding adult quality—boldness, loudness, honesty, and independence. The humor in the book is appealing to children but also to adults. For example, the writer made witty choices to illustrate Franklin’s proverbs.


Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star—no Amazon link for this one; there are too many. This is a tiny boardbook, my goodness-is-she-almost-17-months-old granddaughter’s current favorite. Reading it is not enough; she expects melody and sings along. The book has an extra verse about the moon. Reading it successfully also requires the ability to begin singing at random parts in the song because she opens the book at random pages. Judging from reader response, this literary work is a more compelling read than my conspiracy novel and much shorter.

I've been fortunate to spend time with all the DGC this week. That's been great fun! They grow up so fast.

I've also finished the second sleeve on the Wonderful Wallaby and measured for the third WW by trying the first WW on the child and noting what adjustments I need to make. I also did a little bit of spinning.

On the home improvement front, I cleaned some, organized some, and installed a robe hook in my bathroom. I intended to get more done, but life, and some unexpected work for school next year, intervened.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Meditations

One of the moments I remember from my childhood was listening in on a conversation between my mother and the man who was then our church custodian. I still remember just where we were standing. I must have been 8 or 9 at the time. He was talking about the hard time he had when he lost his leg. I don’t even remember how. He talked about the phenomenon of feeling a leg that wasn’t there and about the pain he felt in it and in the part of the leg he had left. This extreme pain and the morphine they had given him for it had, of course, resulted in another problem that he had to deal with in order to get on with his life. I suppose that hearing this story from someone who was more or less a fixture in my life made a big impression on me. I don’t remember my mother talking about it later—it’s just that one isolated moment.

I reflected on my memory when I read Stephen King’s Duma Key, which I blogged about earlier. The sensation that the protagonist has after he loses his hand, although very surreal (literally), reminded me of the story Shorty told.

Richard Power’s novel, The Echomaker, has evoked the same kind of reflection in me. I found the exploration of the injured human brain/mind/consciousness to be thought-provoking. A friend of mine was brain-injured in a car wreck when we were in high school. Over the years, her courageous struggle with herself and the world has been evident. She is now a happy person who has successfully reared two daughters and is a grandmother, but those of us who knew her “before” cannot help but be aware that her life was very different from what it might have been, and that she has had to work much harder than we have at almost everything. I also have been somewhat interested in the migration of the cranes, both Sandhill and Whooping, because we live not too far from one of the wetland refuges on the flyway. I have never been to see the cranes fly. This book is a reminder that I need to go, that is if the weather is not too dry this year. I found this novel, which I listened to as an audiobook, to be haunting and thought-provoking about man’s place in nature.

Now, however, I’m ready for some lighter reading. My brain is tired from school. and from thinking. Both of these novels, although very different, are works of art, and as Keats said, “. . . .tease us out of thought as doth Eternity.”

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Tagged

I was tagged by Knitnteach.

Rules: The rules of the game get posted at the beginning. Each player answers the questions about himself or herself. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog.


Ten years ago: 1998—I had just finished my first year back in teaching after a 16-year absence. My daughter had just graduated from high school and was headed off to summer school.


Five things on today's "to do" list:
1. Go to church.
2. Finish the laundry I started yesterday.
3. Watch the Dover NASCAR Cup race.
4. Knit the second sleeve for my DGD’s Wonderful Wallaby. (I tried while the race was starting and knitted the entire ribbing before noticing I had failed to change to the smaller needles. I have to start over.)
5. Fax in some paperwork regarding some school insurance technicalities.

Things I'd do if I was a billionaire:
· Endow a scholarship fund that used interest only for students at my high school who demonstrate outstanding academic ability and hard work, with eligibility based on grades, ACT/SAT scores, and achievement on Advanced Placement Exams. “Need” would not be a factor—there are plenty of those.
· Get a housekeeper.
· Contribute substantially to my local church endowment fund and to the local library endowment.
· Invest the rest as safely as possible, with an eye to securing by some arrangement the availability of a good education to our descendants.
· Buy a small and modest vacation home near a rustic mountain resort area. I don’t want to be in one of the popular ones because I don’t like the clubby mentality.


Three bad habits:
· I’m a food addict, and I will always struggle with that.
· I avoid making the beds.
· I can carry a grudge for years.


Five places I've lived:
· Here, in my hometown.
· Amarillo, TX
· Portales, NM for college
· Sacramento, CA—the summer of 1968
· Guam—the summer of 1969

Five Jobs I've Had:
  1. Secretary to a professor in college
  2. Church secretary
  3. Secondary English teacher 1971-1980
  4. Our own business--still going with that, part time for me
  5. Secondary English teacher 1997-now

    I'm tagging: