Wednesday, June 30, 2010

And Then There Were Two

The second sleeve is finished! Like a second sock, it seemed to go faster than the first one.
I am running from one things-I-should-have-done-a-long-time-ago task to another, doing a little bit here and a little bit there. For example, I'm moving files by email from a very old computer to my new one because I don't have any other way to back them up and get them there. That is slow and boring, but the end result will be that I will have my files where I want them, I can get rid of an old desktop, and I can set up a more efficient home office system. Right now, the office is there, but I'm typing this in my kitchen. On a laptop. The keyboard in the picture is because I don't really like typing on a laptop so I attach a keyboard and a mouse unless I have to be portable. And all my paperwork is all over the kitchen. However, the moving task is so boring that even with the aid of an audiobook, I'm only good for about an hour at a time. One advantage to doing it this way is that as I download the files I'm putting them directly into an organized form, rather than doing a mass upload of data and promising myself to fix it later. Today I we hung the new curtains in our bedroom. They are just sheers, but they are nice ones and give a whole new look to the room. Now I just have to get the rest of it cleaned and straightened.
I'm even flitting around in literature:
Audiobook--a repeat listen to the Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Kindle--The Moonstone
Book--The Clovis Incident: A Mystery

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Sleeve, Finally

The Yarn Harlot posted today about knitting black holes, when you knit and knit and never seem to get anywhere. For some reason, I always feel that way about sleeves. They seem much slower than the sweater even though I logically know that they are really much faster because they have so few stitches. After all, I love knitting socks, and a sleeve is basically a sock without a heel and with less ribbing. Anyway, I have completed the first sleeve for the Wallaby. I will cast on for the second one in a few minutes.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Body

The body is completed, including fusing the pocket to the sweater at the top. Now I will knit one more round, putting the underarm stitches on scrap yarn and using the caps to my Knit Picks Options to turn the cable into a large stitch holder. Next, I'll knit the sleeves. If you are making this pattern, be sure to check for length. After measuring another garment that fit the child, I am making the body 3" longer than the pattern size. Actually, I'm making this one the same size as another Wallaby, but I did measure an existing garment for the first one. I will also lengthen the sleeves. A little grow room helps the sweaters stay wearable longer.
I am still pretty much just lazing around. After living a life that ran on a bell schedule for so many years, with even summers planned to get everything in, I'm having trouble getting myself organized and/or motivated to get with it very fast. We're watching a lot of movies and tv, and I'm reading and knitting. I've also been doing some clerical tasks that have needed to be done for some time. I'll get it all going soon and work out some systems. Tomorrow is another grandchild day, so that will be fun. I even watched the new Pippi Longstocking movie the other night. With grandchildren, of course. My grandson was entranced, and I'm glad. Pippi was a favorite of mine when I was a girl.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wallaby Update

I completed knitting the pouch pocket for the sweater. Thinking it would be a little firmer and it would also match the seed stitch trim I plan to use around the slit opening, I modified the border design from the specified garter stitch. Am I fancy or what?
DH and I took an afternoon drive around the community. It is hot and very quiet, typical summertime. We are slowly adjusting to being retired and at home together ALL THE TIME. You would think that after working in the same small office for several years, we would be used to this, but since we are both getting used to retirement as well, we seem to be bumping elbows all the time. On the other hand, he's doing a lot of the cooking, and I'm enjoying that. And goodness knows, there are plenty of compensations.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Another Member of the Mob

Two years ago I knitted Wonderful Wallabies for the four grandchildren. They were indeed wonderful all-around playtime sweaters. I used Plymouth Encore so that they were washable and dryable, and they still look pretty good, but they have been outgrown. I am starting on new sweaters for this fall and winter. This year the girls picked out their own colors since they are old enough to have very definite opinions, and I am again using Plymouth Encore. The one grandson is going to have a different kind of sweater. Wonderful Wallabies are unisex, but he is reaching the age where he doesn't want something that is just like what the girls have.

The main detail that keeps the Wonderful Wallaby from being just another bottom-up raglan with a hood is the Wallaby pocket and their method of seamlessly attaching it. I don't want to infringe on copyright, but I do want to give a hint to anyone out there who is thinking of knitting one of these. This hint is mentioned as an option in the directions, but it sounds like an extra little bit of trouble. Believe me, I have tried both with and without, and you do want to do this. Take a yarn needle and run a line through the row of stitches that you will be picking up through for the pocket attachment. You can do it by counting every row, but your eyes will eventually be crossing, and your progress will be very slow. Now for my own hint: The directions say to attach to the second row above the ribbing. Since the first row above the ribbing has increases, I like the appearance better if I attach to the third row. It makes no difference to the fit of the pattern or anything, but I think the pocket blends more seamlessly into the garment this way. That is particularly important for the sweaters I'm making since I am making them extra big with somewhat tighter ribbing to get 2 years of wear out of them. I think I got that idea from Elizabeth Zimmermann. You can see my line marked in the picture below. The yarn is Plymouth Encore in Aquamarine.

What a surprise yesterday when I noticed that Amazon had dropped the Kindle price to $189! I had placed my original order on May 29, and mindful of Amazon's rumored policy of adjusting if there were price changes within the month, I decided to try. I emailed their customer service department. This morning I received an email that said that I would be getting a $70 refund. Skeptic that I am, I will wait to celebrate until the money is verified in my account in the next couple of days. I'll bet that they are having a lot of emails similar to mine. I am going to try to show how much I appreciate their policy by using most of this amount to buy books for my Kindle. That seems appropriate.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Not a Friday Night Post

Right now, I have a case of finishitis, which is not necessarily a bad thing. These socks had been hanging around on needles since December, and I decided it was time to finish them. Part of the problem was that I was not enthusiastic about the stripe pattern. I picked up this yarn when Hancock Fabrics in Clovis was going out of business. I paid very little for this single skein of Lion Brand Magic Stripes in Denim. Even though knitting with this product is someething like knitting with string, and even though the socks turn out rather thick, there are times that I like wearing that kind of sock. They machine wash and dry well, and they get much softer after laundering. However, I really do not like fraternally striped socks. I prefer identical twins. It was immediately apparent to me that the pattern repeat was so long in this yarn that I couldn't make twins. Furthermore, when my colorblind husband walked through the room and said, "I hope those are for one of the grandkids," I knew they might be a little bit bold for me. I decided to just consider them retirement wear. I really do think they would be fine with a t-shirt and jeans. Of course, I don't even own jeans, but maybe I will. You know you're a knitter when you knit socks and then buy wardrobe to go with the socks.
Anyway, I was in such a buzz last Friday night to get them finished that I decided to stay up watching tv until I could finish them. I kitchenered at 12:15 a.m., and then placed sock 1 on the footstool to admire and laid my newly finished sock 2 on top. I had knitted a toe that was at a 90 degree angle fromthe way it should have been! I frogged, but I did not finish until Sunday afternoon. I was much too frustrated on Saturday. So here they are, in all their stripey, colorful glory.
I also finished reading my first book on my Kindle--In the Bleak Midwinter. This is the first book that I have read in this particular mystery series, and I think that it will be a series that I want to finish. I usually dislike stories about troubled adoptions, but this one didn't really focus on that aspect once it got going. I found the detective character and her police connection to be interesting characters, and the setting in upstate New York in the wintertime made good reading for the hot Texas summer. I really enjoyed the Kindle reading experience as well. I have begun The Moonstone, a free download.
Retirement is going to be ok, I think. I am making progress that probably no one notices but me with several things that have needed to be done forever. It is a relief to work on one as long as I want and then to move on to something else without feeling like I have to push to get it done during the summer on some sort of schedule. I'm also "working" on some entertainment, such as finally watching 24, a tv series that I have never pursued because I couldn't watch it often enough to keep up with a continued story.
Saturday, DH and I drove to Muleshoe--yes, that's a real place--to grocery shop at United and have lunch at Leal's, a really good and moderately priced Mexican food restaurant that has been there forever. Driving through the country on FM214, we noticed that most of this year's wheat crop has been harvested already.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

More Therapy

The second half of the ball--a DW Dishcloth (pattern and backstory available on Ravelry). I enjoyed knitting this one more than the first dishcloth yesterday. Although this is the first of this kind I have made, I have one from a swap that I really like. The little bumps scrub well. When it does its initial shrinking, it does not become too thick or stay too thin. I did go down one needle size from the pattern suggestion. I also like what the pattern does with the colors in this kind of yarn colorway.
We just returned from lunch in Clovis--Japanese, a somewhat infrequent treat for us.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Heirloom and Not-So-Heirloom

My grandmother Carrie made this quilt for me when I was very young. It is about 20" x 30"--just the right size to use for a doll blanket. It is cross-stitched by hand, and other than the bias tape around the edge, it is entirely made from flour sacks. In fact, the plain white back still bears the faded image of a star-shaped flour brand trademark. There is no batting, and the blocks are machine quilted along the seam lines. She would have stitched this on the old treadle-with-motor-added machine that I can just barely remember her having. I still own the Singer that replaced it. Grandma had a stroke when I was in elementary school that affected some of her sewing and needlework abilities, but I still have fond memories of sitting with her in her dining room in the afternoons--you could see all the way down Main Street from the double windows--and watching her crochet or having her help me learn to embroider. She did not knit. I learned to sew from my mother, the Singer sewing classes, and three years of home economics. I did not, however, learn to crochet from anyone, strangely enough. A friend taught me to knit when we were in 4th or 5th grade. My mother actually knew how to knit, and somewhere around here there is a set of needles, long and fairly fine, that belonged to her. She knitted during WWII and chose never to knit again afterward. She firmly told me that I wouldn't be interested in it anyway, and she was rather startled by the Aran sweater I knitted in college.

This is the Aunt May dishcloth from Homespun Living. Unfortunately, the yarn I used keeps the pattern from showing. I should also have dropped down a needle size because I am rather a loose knitter. I am sure that the usual cotton yarn shrinkage will tighten things up a bit--I think that's the dishcloth equivalent of "I think the blocking will take care of it." The yarn is Sugar & Cream in the color "Sunkissed." I know it was an odd ball I picked up somewhere because it hadn't even made it to my tote of cotton yarn. The pattern is easy. I think that I will make another one out of some yarn that does not have quite as much pattern, but first I need to use the other 1/2 ball of this.
Grandchildren are in the living room watching James and the Giant Peach. It seems like only yesterday that my daughter was in a junior high one-act production of the play. She was a bumblebee.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Knitting as Therapy

Right now I have two lace projects OTN. Both of them are stalled. The first was my Knitting Olympics project, an Argus Shawl. I got to the last motif and messed up. It was not entirely my fault; I came down with a galloping sinus infection and some flu-like symptoms. I sat there one night watching curling and messing up lace, not realizing that I was getting sick. Not being able to count to 8 should have been a clue. I'll have to drag it out this summer and see if I can straighten things out.

The second lace project just stopped because of end-of-school craziness. It is a Travelling Woman Shawl, and I am on the last motif with it as well. However, as far as I know, I haven't messed anything up. I had intended to finish it this week and leave the plain socks I was knitting for car knitting. However, fate intervened in the form of some family problems that have taken the entire week. I knew better than to mess with lace this time.

Yesterday and this morning, I worked on that plain stockinette sock, but I was still not satisfied with what I was doing, so this afternoon, I went for the real therapy--a dishcloth. I am about 2/3 of the way through a brand new dishcloth pattern. I'll post a picture as soon as I finish. It's amazing how calming knitting can be, isn't it?

On the Kindle front, I have had mixed success. I am just ripping along through the book that I bought and downloaded from Amazon. It is a good read. It took me a little while to be comfortable reading on the device. For one thing, the above-mentioned situation meant that I was trying to read with interruptions. For the other, I was just aware of the device. I kept thinking things like, "Isn't it neat that I can turn the page with either hand?" "I wonder what a different font size would be like?" right in the middle of my reading. Now that I am accustomed, I don't notice page turning any more than I would with a regular book. I am also going to have to work on a more comfortable reading-in-bed position that doesn't bother my shoulder. That will have to wait until I get a light on my device so that I won't bother my DH. What is holding me back is that I bought a light that would be perfect about a year ago, intending to use it to read books in bed, and I have put it somewhere and can't find it. Having a good look around is on my list for tomorrow morning! I also did not have good luck with the knitting pattern that I tried to move over. I had made my own pdf file using Office 2007, and somehow the font came out really small. It is much too small to read on the Kindle, and it was almost too small to read when I printed a paper copy. I'll have to do some adjusting and experimenting. I've also downloaded a couple of other books in Kindle format. They are in my computer, but I think I put them in the wrong place to readily transfer them to my device. I'll have to read up on directions or check with people on the Ravelry Kindle Group.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

It's Here!

My Kindle2 arrived. I've been eyeing this product since it first came out. We're located miles and miles from bookstores, and even though we have an excellent public library, books that are published first in paperback require an expenditure of gasoline or shipping. I would spend a riduculous amount at Barnes and Noble getting reading material in a hurry that I just thought I might like. I'll have to exercise some self-discipline in my purchasing, but I think the Kindle will be a good investment for me. I have charged it and downloaded a book--In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming--the first of a series that I think I will find interesting. I have also converted a knitted dishcloth pattern to a pdf file, and I am going to try to figure out how to transfer that as well.

This is a picture of the outside of the cover that I ordered. I shopped carefully for this item. The one Kindle that I am personally acquainted with got an easily cracked screen from being carried around in a tote. The covers on this one are fairly stiff. The Kindle slides in from the top so it can't slide out the bottom when I'm carrying it around. All of the necessary buttons or ports are available. It can be held for tablet-type use or it will stand as an easel, which should be useful in restaurants or when knitting. I have not invested in a light because I think I have one here somewhere which will work. I am thinking of knitting a thickly felted slipcase with outer pockets that will hold the charger/cord and the light. That will give extra protection for travel and help me keep up with the accessories. I have been pleased with the felted camera case that I made.
Any gripes so far? One. I am really glad to have adjustable size font if I need it. However, the lettering on the keyboard is extremely tiny in gray on a white background. For the QWERTY part, that's not so bad, but for some of the function keys, the font is very small. I know that this seetup is more aesthetically pleasing, but I would have preferred bigger, high-contrast letters.

Monday, June 07, 2010

That Was the 3rd; This Is the 7th

I'm still awaiting my package. For the first time since June 3rd, there is an arrival scan! Again, it doesn't say where. Excuse my cynicism, but this is a USPS package. If the government is actually employing someone to keep track of tracking information, shouldn't it be USEFUL tracking information?

Friday, June 04, 2010

Random Friday

When I was a little girl, I used to always get out of the bathtub before removing the stopper because I was terrified of going down the drain. Now that I am old, I let the water out before I get out, so that if I slip and knock myself out, I won't drown. There's a life lesson there somewhere.

No knitting right now, but I'm antsy. I think I'll go back and finish a pair of socks that I have on needles before I start or finish anything else.

I used an unexpected check that came through with my teacher retirement to order a Kindle. It was within $6 of the exact amount, so I considered that to be a sign. I was cheap enough, though, to go for the free shipping. It is coming by USPS, and it said that it would not show tracking for 3 days. This morning, it shows tracking--an arrival scan. The only problem is that it does not say where it arrived and was scanned. Why is that helpful? There is no tracking on the cover that I ordered, so I will just have to be surprised when it comes. I always had items like this sent to our business address and didn't worry about arrival because everything was delivered. However, today is Friday, and I am not sure of the exact procedure for home delivery of this kind of package. We have one of those big rural mailboxes at the curb, but they bring some things to the door and you have to be here to receive them. You can't tell that I'm excited or anything, can you?

DH and I are loving our Roku. We have watched shows that we never would have watched if we hadn't had it. Part of the fun is being able to get interested in a series and watch the entire thing back-to-back rather than spaced out over a period of weeks or months. I eventually have plans to watch 24 that way.

I need to go clean a bathroom--the clean the pictures on the wall, wash all the wall tile kind of cleaning. I can make it to the door from there if there is a knock. ("Repair doorbell" is farther down my to-do list for the summer.)