Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Enough Already!

You know, it used to be that I enjoyed rain storms. I found them to be energizing. And there's nothing better than curling up with a good book or some knitting and listening to the rain on the roof.

That all changed when we moved into our old house. Rain storms became a source of anxiety when we discovered all the places in the house where rain can come in...the sun porch roof, the know, all those places where rain shouldn't be coming in. Add to that a huge dying tree that hung over the house and rain coupled with high winds caused many a sleepless night during summer storms.

We took the tree down about three years ago so that worry is gone. We patched the roof when we renovated the back of the house, so there went that worry. Or so we thought. The patch didn't hold. So, ever since Saturday when the deluge started, my anxiety has been a bit higher than normal, especially at night. The sun room is off our bedroom and when the rains come, I lay in bed, just waiting for the sound of drip....drip...drip..drip.dripdripdripDRIPDRIPDRIPDRIPDRIP. We got more than six inches of rain between Saturday and Monday and probably collected several gallons in the sun room. You can imagine my delight when I woke up this morning to clear skies and no rain. Alas, it didn't last long. By afternoon, we were getting heavy rain showers. And now it's raining heavily and the poor cat is outside in the rain somewhere. (How appropriate...XM Radio World Zone is playing "The Rain is Falling" by Warsaw Village Band.)

Despite near perfect knitting conditions, I haven't made much progress on either the Jaywalkers or the blanket, although I have emerged from the twilight zone. I've finished the pattern rows and started on the seed stitch border with only seven more rows to knit up. And then the French knots...602 of them. It's not going to be pretty. The task is going to require strength, perverseness perseverance, and large quantity of chocolate, caffeine, and perhaps alcohol. I wonder if the Yarn Harlot could get me some Screech.

Despite the rain and the unfinished blanket, there was a ray of hope today. My horoscope said this:

This talent of yours is worth nurturing. Even if outward circumstances don't feel reassuring, keep on with it. Whatever nurtures your soul has the potential to turn into a financial source of support too.

While I wouldn't say that I'm a talented knitter, I'm interpreting the last sentence as an omen that my yarn shop ideas are eventually going to pan out.

One Skein
I mailed my secret pal her skein earlier this week and she got it today. This is what I sent:

It's a skein of silk chenille from Spirit Trail Fiberworks, in colors that she said she liked. I've always loved the feel of silk chenille and have been wanting to knit with it myself. It was very difficult to pack it up and ship it off. It was worth the grief of separation, though, when I read her thank-you note. I made a good choice.

Well, I think the rain has stopped. I'm off to search for a soggy kitty.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

You Have Entered the Twilight Zone

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.

I think I have entered the Twilight Zone of knitting. Remember that I thought that I'd finish the blanket by Friday morning? Well, not only have I not finished it, it seems that no matter how many rows I knit, I still have three more inches to go. It's rather maddening.

Trek With Me Update
The Jaywalker continues to slowly grow. I actually got out and went for a 5-mile walk today on the W&OD Trail. And the Jaywalker came with me, but stayed in the car because it was decidedly moist. I think the Scots would call it a "soft" day. Between yesterday and today, we've gotten over four inches of rain, mostly in torrential downpours. It seems that over the last couple of years, we never seem to get nice long, slow rains. It's either no rain or buckets of the stuff.

But anyway, I'm making progress on the sock, but not a lot of progress on the hiking.

A Weekend with the "Grrlz"
So despite the rain and knitting in the Twilight Zone, it was a good weekend. I had dinner with Val and Gerry on Friday night. As always, we ate too much and talked a lot. At times, though, we were beginning to sound a bit...hmmm...middle-aged, shall we say? The talk turned often to the various medical things that we're facing, such as colonoscopies. Yikes! Definitely not what my grandmother would consider "polite" dinner conversation.

On Saturday, I drove up to Frederick to have lunch with another friend. We spent the afternoon visiting a lot of the little shops there, including Eleganza, the LYS there. She had some yarns, including Artyarn, that I haven't seen in other local shops. And her prices were lower than what I've seen in the shops here. Another trip is definitely in order.

Eating Local
The trip to the farmers market on Saturday yielded more yummy things. The tomatoes are beginning to come in. I also got some gorgeous red leaf lettuce from the organic stand, beef from the local cattleman, fresh mozzarella, some early peaches and late strawberries. And cherries. Yum!

Tonight's dessert was cherries served with a ricotta cardamom cream. I sweetened the ricotta with some local wildflower honey. It was good, but it was missing something. I'll have to play with that idea some more.

Okay, that's it for now. Maybe I'll have a finished blanket (well, the knitting part) the next time I post.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Longest Day

Well, not exactly the longest day; it's still 24 hours long, but at least it's lighter later. But alas, the days will start getting shorter tomorrow. And then in six months, they'll start getting longer. (I'm a master at stating the obvious.)

I've been teaching a couple of my co-workers to knit. One is having difficulty finding time to knit, while the other is doing quite well. She's almost finished her first scarf (in seed stitch, no less) and she's done a beautiful job with it. So this evening after work, we headed out to Capital Yarns to look for yarn for her next project, a hat for her niece. My goal was to get a couple of little somethings for my One Skein secret pal and look for yarn to make the Panel-Party Pullover in Sally Melville's
The Knitting Experience Book 3: Color
. The sweater is to be last year's Christmas gift for my sister-in-law (I gave her a gift certificate for a handknitted object). After determining that she liked the style of the sweater and that she likes anything in blue, I simply had to come up with two colors of blue. Since they are building a house in the Abacos, I thought that something that mirrored the colors in the Sea of Abaco would be nice, perhaps an aqua and a darker blue.

Well, it's proving to be difficult finding the yarn. I finally found colors that I think will work, but the yarn is Bamboo, not a wool or wool blend. I have a suspicion that Bamboo doesn't have enough sproing in it. So, it's back to the drawing board and I may have to buy yarn online. I really don't mind buying yarn online, but I'd much rather support the LYSs.

In actual knitting news, I am extremely hopeful that I'll finish knitting the baby blanket on Friday morning. I've got one, maybe two pattern repeats left, then an inch of seed stitch border. And we won't mention what comes next (shudder). The Jaywalker is progressing, too. The foot is a bit longer and the colors still amuse me. Each color progression evokes a memory or an association. Some of the colors are countries: Sweden, Germany. Some remind me of carnivals. Some are like the seasons. I suspect I'll continue to be amused each time I wear the socks.

Anyway, that's it for now. I wish everyone a happy Solstice and much luck, abundance, and prosperity!

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Our luck finally ran out after being blessed with a relatively cool and non-humid spring. Yesterday was hot, hot, hot, and today was even hotter, with the temperature topping out at 95 degrees, in the shade no less. We were going to go to the Potomac Celtic Festival at Morven Park but it was too hot. Tom did a long run yesterday and was pretty wiped out and today we decided that it was still too hot and opted to get stuff done around the house.

Tom ended up straightening up the basement some and went through things that we don't want anymore and posted them on Freecycle. I concentrated on ridding the house of dust buffalo. The herd was beginning to disturb my sleep. Our house isn't all that large (compared to the houses they are building today, though, it's miniscule), but it takes the better part of a day to clean it. And even then, there's something that ends up not getting done...washing the floors, dusting, or cleaning the bathrooms. Today, though, I managed to get two out of three completed. I didn't wash the floors. Perhaps next weekend will be for floor washing.

Bird Update
Sadly, I have no pictures of the birds today. We took the fern down so I could photograph week two of their development and darned if two of them flew away. Granted, they didn't fly very well or very far (which made me feel bad), but the rest of the brood (there were four birds) should fledge this week. They grow up so fast...

Eating Local
Tonight's dinner was almost all local. We grilled local asparagus, organic fennel, and rockfish (most likely caught in the Chesapeake Bay). We rounded out the meal with a salad that had local organic romaine, tomatoes, and herbs from our garden. The cucumber wasn't local (I ran out of cash at the farmers market) and neither were the baked potatoes, toppings, and wine. All in all, though, a very fine meal.

And of course, there was knitting. Tom took a nap after his run yesterday, so clearly I couldn't round up the dust buffalo. Instead, I spent some quality time with the Jaywalker and finished the heel and started the foot. I'm still a little nervous about how tight it is, but I can still get the sock on my foot. I've had a couple of mishaps with stitches leaping off the needles, but fortunately I've been able to pick them up with no problem. Here's the sock:

The baby blanket continues to progress, although I didn't get as much done on it as I would have liked. A migraine on Saturday morning precluded all work on it and I was able to knit about three rows this morning. It's about 29 inches wide and 32 inches long so I've got only about three more inches to knit. Woo hoo! Then it's on to embroidering hundreds and hundreds of French knots. That's going to be rough going.

One Skein Secret Pal
I ordered a very special yarn for my One Skein secret pal and it arrived this weekend. It's going to be very difficult to mail this skein out to her because it is so yummy! What is it? That will remain a secret until after I mail her the goods. I'll post pictures then.

That's it for now. Have a great week!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Turning Point

The Jaywalker is moving right along. I turned the heel last night:

I'm still loving the way the yarn is working with this pattern. I don't think I've repeated a color pattern yet. That doesn't bode well for the second sock because I don't think I can get the color changes to match. But...I do have a second ball of the same color and dyelot and maybe I'll dig into that to make the second sock. That's assuming that the color progression is the same from ball to ball.

The sock fits passably well. But I've got this suspicion that the gauge gods are going to smack me down soon and smack me down hard. I can still get the sock on but it's a bit of a struggle. I keep telling myself the needles are inflexible and that's what making it difficult. But I'm afraid that I won't be able to get the sock on after working the heel gussets. I'll know later tonight. Keep your fingers crossed!

The blanket is still progressing, although I had a bit of a setback this morning. I was knitting along, congratulating myself on the fact that I haven't had to do significant tinking in quite a while. The pattern has finally worked its way into my brain. But after knitting three rows, I took a look and groaned at what I saw. I repeated the second pattern row, thus making a big blob in between the cables. Net row gain this morning? One stinkin' row.

Note to Self: Never, ever congratulate yourself on how well you knit, especially at 5:30 in the morning. The knitting goddess will get you.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Progress Report

The end is near! Well, it's more near than it was last weekend. The blanket is still slowly progressing, thanks to daily 5:30 a.m. knitting sessions. I'm on the eighth ball (out of 12) and have completed 224 rows. I'm at the point where I'm eyeing the blanket and determining if the proportions are pleasing enough to stop knitting (they aren't...yet). I have no qualms about bailing making a design decision to change the length. Here's a picture of the progress so far, shown with my stuffed tiger collection:

I've made progress on the Jaywalker sock as well. I love working with this pattern in this colorway. The colors keep changing and I'm entranced by the way the bar increases and double decreases make the pattern happen. I like the way the stitch marker on needle one moves to the left before the double decrease and to the right after the double decrease (yes, I'm easily amused). I've been sneaking in a little lunchtime knitting at work, only about 30 minutes or so, and spend a little more time on the weekends. If I'm lucky, I'll start turning the heel today.

Bird Update
The baby birds are growing, although they are far from being self-sufficient. They are a week old today and if you look closely, you can see their eyes, beaks, and the primary feathers on their wings. They are definitely house finches.

A flicker has recently arrived in the neighborhood. It's a fairly large one, and the first one we've seen in several years.

Jezebel fancies herself an expert bird hunter. Tom and I were sitting on the deck the other evening, watching the bats. Jez was laying on her cushion, when all of a sudden she sat up and stared intently at the garden. Then, with great purpose, she made her way down to the garden and disappeared into the foliage. A little while later, Tom saw her out of the corner of his eye, furtively climbing the deck stairs and slinking into the house. We followed her and found her in the dining room, gleefully tossing around a dead catbird. It was pretty clear that she didn't catch it because all of its feathers were intact (unless the wren I rescued from her). Tom had found another dead catbird a couple of days ago. I hope that the West Nile virus hasn't moved into the catbird population.

And finally, a parting shot of one of our Asian lilies. These flowers are so colorful and abundant in our garden right now. It's a shame that they don't last all summer.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


I've been fairly productive around here...well,productive in a fibery sort of way. There was actual spinning on Sunday and I thought Tom took a picture of me in action, but it wasn't on the camera. It turned out that he was taking a video of me in action but it didn't work. So, you'll just have to take my word for it. I still can't spin a soft, lofty yarn. I adjusted the tension on both the brake band and the drive band, but no luck. It's still a somewhat hard, slightly over-twisted worsted type yarn. But I'm spinning a finer yarn now, something that resembles sport-weight. And it's even. But oh, to be able to spin sock yarn!

The blanket continues to progress, as does the Jaywalker. Nothing to show though; both pieces are looking a little longer.

I started taking yoga again; it felt so good to be back in the class. My teacher, Annie, is wonderful. She's very observant and provides a lot of verbal cues for getting the pose right. Annie is also good at providing suggestions for making the poses attainable for those who are challenged by them. I've heard so many horror stories about teachers who expect the student to be able to do the poses perfectly.

I also decided to start running this week. Big mistake. My last run was about a month ago and I had very little ITB pain, so I figured I was good to go again. About a mile into the run, my knee started hurting and it didn't stop. So, I'm going to have to find an alternative source of aerobic exercise. I'm really bummed.

On a slightly more positive note, we have babies!

I took this picture on Sunday; they were still hatching! I'm not sure what type of bird, though. We've had house finches nest in ferns before, but there's also been a wren hanging around. Wrens are nest in cavities,though, so I suspect it's a house finch family.

Today's DailyOm was about wildlife in our midst, which I thought was a propos for the Trekking knit along. Here's a not-so-brief excerpt:

Because both cities and tightly packed suburbs offer wildlife bountiful nooks and crannies in which to hide, it can be difficult to spot the animals that live in our midst. Many thrive among paved streets, sidewalks, buildings, parking lots, and high-rises. There are animals in abundance burrowing in the soil of center medians and tiny backyard gardens, making nests in the trees that line broad and busy avenues, and buzzing round the flowers that beautify our parks...

Season by season, cities offer diverse ecosystems for you to explore. If your search for urban and suburban wildlife is challenging, try to look at your community with an animal's eyes...

Recognizing that you share your city with a wide range of animals can make you feel like a part of the grand circle of life and help you appreciate the importance of a healthy urban environment. You can admire the hardiness and adaptability of the urban animal while developing a sense of stewardship that inspires you to become their champion. The shrill calls of birds, the hum of bees, and the sweet squeaks of city-dwelling mammals can be a symphony that help you develop a deeper connection with the nature world.

Grab your sock, get outside, and find and appreciate some nature!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Weekends Are For Knitting

...and cooking and cleaning and gardening. And for my husband, running. (Let's not talk about my lack of running, okay?) So when the spousal unit is out on his long runs, I knit. Or blog, as is the case today.

On June 1, I started knitting up a Jaywalker sock in Trekking color #100, for the Trek With Me knit along. And I'm playing with fire with gauge, among other things. I diligently knit a gauge swatch using size 0 and size 1 needles. Did I get gauge? Nope, not even close. In fact, I got a smaller gauge on the size 1 needles. Go figure. So, since Wendy recommends knitting socks on size 0s, that's what I'm doing. And I will not be surprised to get smacked down by the knitting goddess. I also misread the instructions and did a k1,p1 rib instead of the k2,p2 rib. At that point, I thought I'd just see what happened. Now, I have been slipping the sock on to see if it is misbehaving fits, and so far, so good. It appears to fit. We'll see if that continues. I fully expect to have to rip it out and start over at some point.

On the baby blanket front, I've got about 200 rows completed and started the seventh ball. Woo hoo! I'm officially halfway done, with the knitting. There will still be hundreds and hundreds of French knots to embroider.

Thanks for answering my yarn shop questions. Your answers helped clarify some of the ideas that have been rolling around in my head for a while. I've started reaching out to other local business owners to get a sense of what rents are in the area (it would be really nice to walk to work). There's still a lot of research to be done, mostly visiting different shops (what a hardship), as well as writing a business plan. This will be a long-term project, perhaps three to five years down the road, unless I inherit a lot of money from an unknown rich relative. Or win the lottery. And both are highly unlikely.

Eating Local
I visited the farmer's market yesterday and spent a lot of time talking to the nice lady at Willow Hawk Farm about her fleeces and yarns. And while I was at it, I bought some lamb sausage, which is locally produced. Next door to Willow Hawk was Potomac Vegetable Farms, an "ecoganic" farm. They didn't have a lot of variety, but what they had was so beautiful. I bought some Swiss chard (too much, as it turns out) and made a greens pizza with a whole wheat crust, served with a salad (non-local) and a nice red Zinfandel. Tonight I'll make Swiss chard with beets and goat cheese, using local beets.

I tend to be a shy person and asking vendors what they do and how they do it is a bit scary for me. But I'm finding as I open up, so do others. I'm now searching for a local source of chickens and maybe, just maybe, I can increase the amount of local, and hopefully healthier, food in our diet.

Have a wonderful weekend!