Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Knitting and a Cozy

Notice that the above topic does not say "knitting a cozy," which would have entirely different implications. This kind of cozy does not fit on a teapot, but can best be defined here. Those of us who cut our mystery teeth on Agatha Christie are quite comfy with cozies. Scots on the Rocks by Mary Daheim was an interesting book. However, by my count, this book is number twenty-something in the "Bed-and-Breakfast Mystery" series. I found it to be long on plot but rather weak on characterization. The fact is, though, that if I had read the other books in the series, I would probably not be feeling the same way. It was good enough that I will check to see if I can find some old paperbacks of some of the early books in the series. This book made excellent hotel lobby reading.

On Monday, I drove to Amarillo, listening to back episodes of Sticks and String on my MP3. If you have never listened to this podcast, you should give it a try. I think I like it so much because it is not giggly or silly or full of innuendoes. Sometimes it is more about life in Australia than strictly about knitting, but I think the overall mood of the episodes fits more closely with what knitting represents to me. David Reidy is easy listening--I like his music choices, his essays and guest essays, his choices for interviews, and the glimpses of life in another country and another knitting community. Frankly, I even like the sound of his voice. Listening to his broadcasts there and back was a real treat. I have updated my podcatcher on this new computer so that I will not get behind on my favorite podcasts again, but it was kind of neat to have hours of listening to catch up on while driving. Reidy's sound is also professional. Some podcasters have vast differences in volume, from below my auditory level to blasting through the earphones, that force me to constantly adjust the tiny volumes on my MP3 while driving. I don't like that distraction. Reidy's podcast us usually consistently listenable.

I went first to my DD's home and spent the morning and afternoon with her and the DGDs. Our project was to modify the cover of the youngest DGD's car seat so that it could be removed for washing without having to unthread all the straps every time. We did this successfully with the careful use of Aplix, which is sort of a super heavy duty kind of Velcro. It is readily available on line and is very popular with the cloth diaper sewers.

I went to town for a knitting meeting--something that is in short supply in my world. The area group of what used to be known as Home Demonstration Agents, now Family and Consumer Sciences ?????, was having their summer meeting at a hotel, and they were having a meeting that they had told area knitters about. I decided to make it an event and spend a night at a hotel instead of driving home afterward. It turns out that was a good choice, since the opportunity lasted until the next morning.

At about 4:30, DGD #1, who is 5, and I headed out so that I could check into the hotel and meet the entire family for supper before my meeting. I attempted to take some residential streets into the back of the hotel parking area rather than fight heavy traffic at that time of day. I tried twice, and both times I ran into blocked streets that were closed for resurfacing crews. I finally decided to go the long way around and through the rush hour traffic. The conversation:

DGD: Grandma?

Me: Yes, dear?

DGD: I love you, Grandma. I love you even if you keep going the wrong way!

My little helper assisted with check in, got to ride in the glass elevator, which went through the roof of the atrium into the open air before stopping at the 8th floor, checked out the bridge and pools in the lobby, and got the pillow mints in the room, of course.

The evening meeting was very small--the organizer, the "expert" and her son, and three knitters. One of the other knitters, however, was Soonerbeknitting ! I was so excited to finally get to meet her in person after reading her blog for a long time. We had sort of a cozy little evening meeting in a hotel room, looking at yarn and talking about teaching and knitting.

The next morning, I sneaked in to the knitting presentation at the convention and listened to the presentation by Three Stitchers. I took a day of spinning lessons from Sharon last summer, but it was good listening to her talk and show some of the new yarns and new ideas for different knitting techniques. I went to her on-site shop after the meeting and bought this:

The yarn is Maizy, a corn product. Where we live, corn is a big crop, grown for food for Frito-Lay, cattle feed for the feedlots and dairies, and alcohol for the two nearby ethanol plants. Knitting something made from a corn by-product is very appealing.

I also bought some drum carder product. This has not been pulled into roving, but it is not a batt either. I have a drum carder, which I have barely used, and I wanted to check out someone else's work to see if the product I was getting was about right. I had been worried about some of the little lumps in mine. I know that her fleece is probably similar to mine because I got my Rambouillet from her, so I thought this would be a good purchase. She has the little lumps also, but her handspun looks great. I also got to squeeze some lovely handspun alpaca she has spun from a nearby producer and some handspun wool that she spun from a fleece from the wool festival at Estes Park.

Between spending time with my family, reading in a lovely atrium, learning more about fiber, and meeting new friends, I had a lovely time.

I came home last night and knit a training swatch for the ribwarmer I am going to knit for the Ravelympics. It is going to be heavier than I originally intended. I swatched with 9s at first, but I think I've decided on 10.5s, which will give me a gauge of about 3 1/2 stitches per inch. The 9s looked lovely and even but had the consistency of armor, so I've decided on the larger needles. The garter does not look quite so even, but this is handspun after all, and I rather like the rustic look. I notice that Jared used that size on his ribwarmer.

All in all, it was a delightful 36-hour vacation in which I learned some new things, got to meet an Internet friend in person, and renewed old acquaintances.
Thanks, Dawn, for arranging the meeting!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Reading, Spinning, Knitting

Another Audiobook post? I’ve spun and knitted and played a little Spider Solitaire to listen to another Audiobook. (I’m still not pleased with Vista, but I love the way Spider Solitaire works. The important things, right?) This one was a download from Audible. Swan Peak, by James Lee Burke, was an unexpected treat to listen to. At first I felt that the book was unbearably dark. I seem to have gotten into a run of that kind of book recently, and this one started off with the absolute worst sides of human nature. However, I stuck with it and found, unexpectedly, that this is a book about redemption—but redemption in unexpected ways. It was a great listen also because of the reader, Will Patton. Since this book was one of a series featuring a character named Dave Robichaux, I plan to listen to or read more of them.

As a total sideline, my curiosity was aroused by a couple of side issues in the book—I’m irritating that way. First of all, the book is set in Montana. The Bitteroot Mountains are mentioned often, as well as other Bitteroot geographical features. The reader pronounces the word “Bitterit.” Is that correct? I need to know this because I just can’t stand not knowing it when I begin kntting my new Mountain Colors Bearfoot socks! Secondly, most books not actually set in the Texas Panhandle that need to refer to our part of the country refer to Amarillo or perhaps Plainview, I think because they like that name for some reason. This novel referred to Dumas—pronounced “Doomus”—Dalhart, and Texline. I don’t know if the author simply looked at a map for interesting names when making up the background of a character or if he has some connection to our area. See? My mind is definitely weird.

When I explore more of this writer’s work, I do hope that the relationship between the main character and his wife is explored more fully. The background sounds interesting.

Spinning content—I am working hard on spinning thinner. That also means that it takes much longer to spin up a certain amount of fiber! This is my progress so far on roving that I had in stash from the Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club. (English teacher note: Should that be spinning more thinly? That sounds stuffy. Make it spinning thinner yarn.)

Knitting Content—a pair of socks for ME! These are from some OnLine Highland Color that I had in stash. I know they will be comfy because I made them just like my others from the same yarn. These are about as neutral as you can get—black and brown and gray and beige. That’s what I needed. I apologize for the perspective in the picture. I have to squeeze objects into this lightbox to get correct colors when shooting indoors, and right now the mosquitoes are giving me such fits outside that I am not inclined to be out there taking artsy shots. After a few more days of dry weather, things will be better. I am knitting some more exciting socks now, but no more information until I am finished. Then I have to swatch madly for the Ravelympics.

Friday, July 25, 2008

I Was Tagged!

I was tagged by Deb:

Here are the rules:

1. List these rules on your blog.

2. Share 7 facts about yourself on your blog.

** I teach at the same high school from which I graduated. It was a brand new building back then.

** I spend most of my free time knitting, reading, or on the internet. Occasionally I do housework, but only when necessary!! (Yes, Deb, I copied this one from you.)

**I spent summers in college doing mission work in Sacramento and in Guam.

** I ‘ve been married for 30 years to a wonderful man that I’ve known all my life. Somewhere in my closet I have a hand-carved bow and knife—wooden toy—that he carved for me when we were children. He burned my name on the knife with a magnifying glass.

** I have two wonderful grown children with families of their own. That means 4 really sweet and INTERESTING grandchildren—two 5 year olds and two 1 ½ year olds.

** As I approach retirement, my ambitions are to teach a junior college class or two and to have more time for my church, some volunteer duties, and lots of time to be a grandmother. Of course, I’ll keep knitting in between.

**I would also like to travel, but I’m not sure where. I find that I no longer like to “go” just for the sake of going.

3. Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs.

Ridiculous Obsession
Whimsy Knits

Thursday, July 24, 2008


That post title should be in italics--Next by Michael Crichton. Of course, the book itself has been out for a couple of years now, but this was the audiobook. The book was quite thought-provoking in the same way that Jurassic Park was when I first read it many years ago. At the end of the audiobook, there is an interview with the author in which he again emphasizes many of the points about reforms that he feels need to be made in the way we are approaching genetic sciences.

Now for a review of the audiobook. I found the first hour or two rather tedious. For one thing, many, many characters were being introduced, and it was rather clear that finding voices for that many characters was a difficult job for any reader. Once the main story lines really developed, however, I felt the reader did a really good job. He even managed to infuse the text with suitable humor. The parrot was wonderful! The little interludes with news reports about developments in genetics were just right. The remainder of the story moved very quickly, it seemed, and I was very pleased with it. That, of course, does not include my own "dream" additions, which would not have improved the story at all because the characters would have been in a fix they couldn't get out of.

While listening this afternoon, I did a couple of hours of spinning. I'm trying for a much thinner single than I have been spinning, and I hope to Navajo ply it to keep the color changes for something that I have in mind. The roving I'm using is some Falkland wool from the Spunky Fiber Club. I was rather lonely, since my DGD has been here a couple of days this week. It was quiet without a baby around even though she usually takes a very long nap.

So Who Needs an MP3 Player?

As you can no doubt tell, I listen to audiobooks while spinning, knitting, and doing household task that I find boring. My MP3 player is a fairly basic model. I'm told there are some out there with a sleep function, but I don't know how to find one. Anyway, I've not been feeling well, so I've been somewhat restless at night. I decided to turn on my audiobook--Crichton's Next--while getting sleepy. The first night all went well, I think, and I turned off the player before going to sleep. The second night, I did the same thing--I thought. However, I woke up later at a suspenseful part of the story, not entirely sure of how I got there. Not only that, but I had indeed removed the player before I fell asleep and had evidently been writing my own novel in my dreams. Now i see no other choice except backing up to where I know I was before and then going ahead from there.

I think the news yesterday inspired me, with the video from Japan of the zookeepers' trying to tranquilizer dart a chimpanzee, and the ape's grabbing the gun away from them--but I'm not sure.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Spinning, Knitting, Reading

Spinning--I think I have completed my spinning project for the Tour de Fleece. Here is the completed yarn. The hand-wound, non-center-pull balls are from skeins I hopelessly tangled in the fulling process. The fact that I got them straightened out at all was due to the patience of my DH, who is my yarn swift. By my count, I have 450-500 yards of heavy worsted, and I think that should be enough. If it isn’t, I do have roving to spin more. I am really pleased with the effect the fulling had on this yarn, but I’ve discovered that I need somewhat thicker rubber gloves for that hot water!

I have joined the Ravelympic group, and my project is to knit the ribwarmer during those days. I think I should be able to pull it off, particularly since swatching counts as training and can be done ahead of time. I usually do not enjoy the summer Olympics as much as I do the winter ones. What I enjoy most about the Olympics is seeing the sports one never gets to see, like curling and the luge. I have nothing against track and field, baseball, and basketball, but I can see those almost any time. I do like the gymnastics and the water sports. I think I also remember coming home from school as a very young teacher, flipping on the television in my apartment to watch, and seeing the horror of events unfolding in Munich. I’m always just a little bit nervous.

Knitting—I finished the scarf for the Red Scarf Project. This is the Yarn Harlot’s pattern, but I made it a little wider and longer to meet the requirements for the project. The yarn is Wool Ease Red Sprinkles. Considering the goal of the project, I think that machine washable and dryable is a plus. The stitch pattern actually shows up very well, but I had difficulty making that show in a photograph. It is a great textured pattern, and I think it would work well even as an afghan stitch, provided that you had some color variation. The stitch is so easy that it would get boring over a long unbroken period.

Next I need to do some swatching for the ribwarmer and some concentrated sock knitting. In reviewing my Fiber Goals for this year, I see that I have become distracted by new ideas and projects, so I want to get back on track.

I am also excited because there is supposed to be a knitting meeting in our area on the 28th. I even have hotel reservations so that I don’t have to drive back after the meeting! Whee!

Books--By my count I’ve completed the Ravelry Book Challenge of reading 50 books for the year. Of course, bookworm that I am, I will continue reading and listening to books, but I am only going to review and/or list the ones I really like or that I think are a unique read. Sometimes if I don’t care for a book, it’s hard for me to say anything without appearing to flame it, and the purpose of this blog is not defending my opinions, but simply to share things that I enjoy.

I have listened to 2 audio books recently while I have been busy spinning and knitting and doing some housework. The first was Last Shot by Gregg Hurwitz. This book was a little bit too hard boiled for me, but the back story was thought provoking. I just do not like prison stories, prison movies, stories about prison escapes. That’s a matter of personal taste.

The second book was The Hard Way: Jack Reacher Series, Book 10. This series was recommended by LizzieK8. Even though this thriller was every bit as violent as the other book, I found it more comfortable. The reason I started with Book 10 is that was what was available on my local Overdrive. I will choose to read more of these. The audiobook reader was also really good. The character of Reacher is similar to the old Western hero who materializes mysteriously to save the day and then disappears after the violence is over, leaving order restored.

What I would love to have available on audio are books in the mystery series such as the books by Earlene Fowler, Susan Wittig Albert, Monica Ferris, and others. I do enjoy the Elizabeth Peters novels as well. I do, however, prefer to limit my listening to unabridged audio, so that eliminates some choices. Also, because, I'm basically cheap--yarn money, you know--I prefer to get my books from Overdrive rather than pay for them, so that also limits my choices. In some ways, this limitation has had a positive result, leading me to writers and books that I probably would not have explored otherwise, but in other ways, it is frustrating.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Journal Entry? Scroll Down for Fiber Content

On Monday, I drove to Amarillo again to take my oldest DGD to a special event—Fancy Nancy Day at the library. We have enjoyed the Fancy Nancy books together, and I think she still likes the idea of them, although she is rapidly developing interest in the more simple chapter books. I’ll miss the clever illustrations and the word play in Fancy Nancy’s, but there IS a little sister coming up.

Yesterday was another day out. July is when I get caught up on all my bookwork at our business—the extras that I avoid during the school year when I just do the essentials. I work every morning that I can. In fact, I’ll be off again in a few minutes. Yesterday, however, work was followed by a lunchtime study meeting at the church. We’re studying a very thought=provoking book on forgiveness, and it is a very congenial group. They actually meet year round, but, of course, I can’t meet during the school year.

Last night, I attended a committee meeting at the library. We are raising money for an endowment fund. When I was a girl, in fact until not long before I graduated from high school, there was no library here. We did have a bookmobile that came around for awhile in the early 60s, and then some women in a local club started the library as a project. It moved from the clubhouse to the old American Legion hall and finally to its present dedicated location. The city pays utilities and insurance and the salaries and provides a book stipend, but our librarian has been great about getting book grants; our state library system and the Harrington Library Consortium have helped; and we have a topnotch library, particularly for such a small town. Through it all, the local donations and support have provided the building money, shelving money, and other extras that the library needs. Now we are trying to build an endowment fund that will be invested so that the proceeds can be used in the future for those extras that are not provided by the tax dollars. Thanks to people on the committee who are much more experienced than I, we have gathered enough donations and matching grants to almost reach our goal. Tomorrow, we are going to do a mailing to our members, many of whom have already donated, to ask for just a little more. Of course, we will keep adding to the fund from now on, but this will give us a base to work from.

Spinning--Right now, my fiber projects are not too exciting. I’m still spinning on the gray wool for the Tour de Fleece. I’m going to stop when I have about 500 yards, I think. I have more roving than that, but it is so lovely to spin that I do not want to spin it all up in this heavy worsted weight if I don’t need it for the ribwarmer. I have two different skeins of handspun to choose from for the edging, depending on what I want to do with the color. I’ll have to see how the mood strikes me when I get that far.

Knitting--The other project is my scarf for this fall for the Red Scarf Project. I’m using the Yarn Harlot’s One Row Handspun Scarf pattern, but I’m using plain Red Sprinkles Wool Ease, and the knitting seems to be progressing at a snail’s pace. I keep measuring, just like a child asking, “Are we there yet?” I need 12 more inches as of last night.

Sewing--I've been putting off an enormous cleaning and organizing project for a fiber area for months. As soon as my mornings at the store are finished for the summer, I'm going to devote mornings to this project, complicated by the fact that someone is coming to replace the windows out there, and I'm not sure exactly when. I simply have to get things so that I can enjoy working on my projects more in the little dabs of time I have after school.

Reading—Two Stone Barrington novels by Stuart Woods—The Short Forever and Dirty Work. I don’t know why I’m on this macho reading binge although I am enjoying the settings of these novels and the Cussler ones. Sort of my cruise for the summer, I guess. Both of these books, which I read “in order,” are predictably suspenseful, even if the plot stretches credibility occasionally. I have a list of this author’s books that I am approaching in an organized fashion, but I don’t think I’m going to read them all at once. I’m still hopping around investigating audiobooks as well, both through the public library Overdrive system and Audible. It will soon be time to do some rereading of the novels I teach at school. That’s one reason I tend to stick to classics there. Selfishly, those are always worth another read because I find something new every time.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

For English Teachers, Writers, and Other Weird People

My DD, a technical writer, sent me this link.

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Yesterday I spent with my youngest DGD. It is so easy to forget how much fun it is just to watch them. I have a child's rocker that she has been trying to get properly seated in for a couple of weeks. Yesterday she made it--got up in it, turned around, and sat down properly and made it rock, even with her short little legs sticking straight out in front! It plays music when it rocks, so that made her very proud. We also worked on learning to roll a ball back and forth. Alas, she is much more adept at getting up and down from the floor than Grandma is!

We had a lovely beginning to our weekend--a trip to Amarillo for meat, groceries, camera batteries, and, most importantly, lunch with our DD, DSIL, and DGDs. Lunch was fun, with the tall tower of onion rings at Red Robin and some good food and visiting. DGD1 got to hug the model of the Statue of Liberty, and DGD2 got balloons, so everything was great at the restaurant.

Ordering the steaks and picking them up went fine, but then there was the grocery store. We went to a store that is absolutely one of my favorite places to shop, both for the selection and the service. I try to get up there at least once a month for items I can't get in our small town. As usual I took my cloth bags with me. When the very young sacker began putting my food in the bags, I asked him to be sure to put things that needed to stay cold together since we were from out of town and would put them in the cooler in our car. He graciously complied. While I was distracted by something else, a much older sacker came and took over the job and insisted on unsacking everything the boy had done and redoing the bags by "weight." For example, I had 2 1/2-gallon cartons of LactAid, so he put one in one bag and one in another. Two cantaloupes--in two different bags, etc. I gave up trying to explain what I wanted and waited until he got my purchases out to the car. I sorted as he was putting them in the cooler, much to his disgust, and got all the cold things in. Then we got to the eggs. I had a flat of 36. My cooler is about 3 inches taller than my cloth sacks, and the lid is domed above that. He was upset because I was setting the eggs on top of the other items in the cooler, insisting they would be smashed. I did it anyway. I know eggs would not spoil on the way home, but if I'm paying for Grade A or AA, I don't want the grade to deteriorate through carelessness when I can preserve it. Honestly! I was nice to him on the theory that I should be respectful to a senior citizen. I sometimes forget that I carry an AARP card. Childhood habits die hard. (3 hours and 75 miles later, we put 36 unbroken eggs into the refrigerator.)

This whole incident also brings back memories of my mother, who absolutely insisted that bread be in a separate sack that she personally carried to the car herself and placed in the front seat. As a teenager I was embarrassed by that. How life changes our perspective!

My extravagance--sock yarn from The Loopy Ewe.

L to R--Mountain Colors Bearfoot--my yummiest favorite--in Gray Wolf; Colinette Jitterbug in Slate; Great Adirondack Silky Sock in Dove; and Alpaca Yarn Company in Deep Seas. I realize that these colors are not the really bright ones. However, these are for me, and I can get by wearing handknit socks to work if I am not too wild. I have a pair of socks OTN right now out of OnLine Highland Color, but I can hardly wait to start on these.

And finally, a Tour de Fleece report:

The bobbin above is the third I've spun from the gray wool roving from Sheep Shed Studio. This fiber is very easy to spin. I spun some of it a few months ago. My goal is to finish spinning what I have on hand in order to have enough for an EZ ribwarmer. I have some other handspun I made from Spunky Eclectic fiber that I plan to use for an applied I-cord edging and bindoff.

The yarn from the first two bobbins. This is a heavy worsted weight, which is perplexing me somewhat. The first couple of skeins, which I spun a few months ago, weren't quite this heavy when I finished them, and I appeared to be spinning to the same size. On the other hand, I fulled this yarn with 4 hot/cold washes. I just washed the other yarn but didn't full it. Before I spin more, I will get that yarn out and full it as well. It seemed to me that this yarn plumped up dramatically with the fulling process.

NOTE: I did put one of the pony bead lacing bands on my Ashford Traveller. You can see it in the photo above. I absolutely love it! I can't describe exactly, but the wheel spins much better and has a different feel to it, sort of like having better tires on a car. It also makes it so easy to switch to a different whorl for plying. Thanks, Cecioboe, for your help!

OTN: OnLine Socks
Yarn Harlot One-Row Scarf for Red Scarf Project

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Off the Wagon

I've been on something of a yarn diet for the last few months other than buying a little bit for special things like my scarf for the Red Scarf Project for this coming winter. Earlier this week, I made some sock yarn purchases from The Loopy Ewe just because I am in a sock mood, even though I have some sock yarns in my stash. Today I dug in deeper. I was in Amarillo, and look what I found at Hobby Lobby--the new Sock Ease and Red Heart Heart & Sole. I know that neither of these is a designer yarn, but I'm excited about checking them out anyway. I have some good socks made from the old Magic Stripes, and this Sock Ease feels much less string-like.

In addition, I found some of the lacing that everyone has been talking about using for Ashford spinning drive bands. They didn't have the pretty colors, but I got white, black, and glow-in-the-dark and also a package of connectors. That should let me color code bands for the different whorls. I think that's a pretty exciting "take" for one-stop shopping.

I was in Amarillo to take my DD out to lunch for her birthday and spend some time with the DGDs. If you count picture books, I am now significantly over my 50 books for the year.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Hill Country Mystery

The Texas Hill Country is beautiful, and Susan Wittig Albert uses it well as the setting for a series of mystery novels featuring ex-defense attorney turned herb shop owner China Bayles. Set in the imaginary town of Pecan Springs, the mysteries all feature a particular herb and are loaded with recipes, herbal information, and suspense. I've enjoyed every one of them, and Spanish Dagger lived up to the rest. I recommend her books highly. It is not absolutely necessary to start at the beginning of the series to know what's going on, but it is sort of interesting to see the characters grow and develop over time.

I also listened to a freebie from Audible--The Chopin Manuscript: a Serial Thiller. The meaning of "serial" in this title is that each chapter is written by a different professional mystery author. Amazingly, they manage to produce a reasonably good spy novel. It was interesting seeing what one person could do to twist another's plot. I think there were a couple of skips in the plot, but I didn't rewind to listen again, and it could be that I was just distracted for a moment.

Tour de Fleece update--1 bobbin of gray singles is almost full. I would make a picture, but too many pictures of plain gray singles are going to be really dull. I also watched the Ribwarmer DVD today and made some decisions about how I want to do mine. The DVD definitely answered some of the questions about how to adjust for gauge and different measurements that I was unable to resolve by looking at EZs directions. It also shows how to do a seamless back.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Tour de Fleece

One of my goals for the summer was to improve my spinning. I just noticed the entry about the Tour de Fleece on the Harlot's blog, and it seems like a good idea to give it a try. I have a couple of skeins of gray handspun, worsted weight, and a skein of some handspun from Spunky Eclectic the same weight. I also have a goal of knitting an EZ ribwarmer. I need more gray, and I have plenty of roving in my stash. The theme of this year's Tour is Spinning from Stash, so my goal is to complete enough gray handspun for a ribwarmer by the end of the race on July 27th. I had already laid out the roving, so I'll start spinning tomorrow. I also need to watch the EZ Ribwarmer video so that I can figure out how much I actually need for this vest. The directions are a little vague. It's good to have a plan.

Books and Socks

Does that title qualify as slant rhyme? I'll have to look up the definition again.

Two other books in Clive Cussler's Oregon series--Sacred Stone and Dark Watch--were predictably riveting as thrillers. I think a new book in the series is either recent or about to come out. These are not great literature, but I enjoy the change of scenery from the Texas Panhandle. I love where I live and would not choose to live anywhere else, but a little variety is a good thing sometimes. I had unexpected problems reading one of the books. The only copy our library had was in the Large Print section. Even though I'm old enough to be in trifocals, I had difficulty concentrating on the larger print until I got used to it. That surprised me.

I finished another pair of socks for my DH. The color in the photo is a little off, in spite of my best efforts with Photoshop and my use of a lightbox. The gray is bluer than in the picture. If you notice, the socks are almost too big for the box. I'll have to pose them more artistically in the future. For the time being, outside shots are out of the question--we've finally had rain, and the mosquitoes eat me up so I'm staying inside or moving fast when I'm out.

The yarn I used for these is Lana Grossa Meilenweit Colortweed 1008. It's part of a selection of random kinds I bought a year or so ago to finish out a Webs discount. I used 2.75 mm needles. I liked knitting with this yarn much better than the Megaboot Stretch in the same brand that I used a few months ago. This yarn was smoother to the touch and much less splitty and aggravating to work with. After laundering, the socks are lusciously soft.
Now I have a sock-related question for my knitter readers. My first socks were knitted on 3s out of Austermann Step. That was indeed too big a needle, and I am not pleased with the fabric of the sock. The next pair was from Regia, knitted on 2s. Then, after reading about wear and durability, I dropped back to 1s or 1.5s, depending on the brand. I did, however, knit a pair from KP Essentials on 2s because the pattern called for it. I have been wearing these socks weekly for almost two years. Frankly, in spite of what I expected, I can't determine that the wear factor is any greater with the socks knitted on the slightly bigger needles, and in fact the Essentials pair and the Regias knitted on the 2s are my favorite socks because they are softer. The Regias I have knitted on 1s simply don't compare. Admittedly, all my socks have been knitted from commercial sock yarn with some nylon content, but my own experience seems to fly in the face of advice I have read.

Friday, July 04, 2008

A Handspun Scarf

Jan's Sensational Scarf from One-Skein Wonders. I made a scarf by the same pattern last year for the Red Scarf Project, but I didn't get the pattern from the same source. That one was from Wool Ease, and the pattern was less open. I really like the nubby, slightly uneven texture and the color variations of this scarf. The yarn is the Falkland that I posted earlier this week. I used US 13 needles. In fact, I bought a set of 11-15s in a short straight needle earlier this year just for scarves. However, I'm so used to knitting with circulars that I just automatically drop my empty needle at the end of the row. I kept having to hunt for it.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Novel

The latest plying, cleaning, knitting audiobook that I “read” is Tess Garritsen’s The Bone Garden: a Novel. This book was quite different from what I expected. Since I found it in the Mystery and Suspense section of my Overdrive connection, I was expecting more of a traditional mystery story, perhaps along the lines of a Jack the Ripper type. Instead, this book is wonderfully involved novel with elements of romance, historical realism, and suspense. I really liked this book although some things about it are not pleasant listening--for example, the descriptions of childbed fever in the hospitals of the 1830s. The descriptions of the work of Resurrection Men rival those of Charles Dickens. Oliver Wendell Holmes (the poet, not the Supreme court Justice) is a character in the book, and the reader learns about his remarkable medical career. I read the reviews on Amazon after I finished listening. I would rate the novel itself more highly than most of them did. I did, however, agree with the audiobook critiques which describe the reading as absolutely great!

I had a vacation day yesterday--finishing the audiobook, starting a handspun scarf, watching National Treasure 2 on DVD, and spending a little time with my grandchildren before the DGS is gone for a month. Today I get to babysit DGD for a little while to fill in some gaps in their schedule. It's nice to have some summer time to do this sort of thing.

I also began working on my new web page for our new school site. The training last week was sort of mind-numbing, but it did let me have enough familiarity with the setup to be able to use the manual efficiently when I need help. The program the school is using will make it easy to make daily changes to assignments and information for students and parents. I'm not sure how many of them will make effective use of it at the start, but it is a beginning toward better communication. This program should also let us post copies of handouts so that if a student loses a paper, he can just download a pdf of another. There goes an excuse!