Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy Feet

I finished the experimental slipper socks.

The "experimental" part consisted of placing the foot decreases at the top, rather than the sides. This resulted in a little wonkiness, with the front of the cuff riding up higher than the back.

Guess there's a reason that the classic ways of doing things become classics (they work). Still, these babies are bright and warm and will be fine for padding around the house.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Demolition has started on the building that burned. My gut still feels a little tight when I look at it. It's cold and bright and dry today, and even from a block away there's still a tang of burnt wood in the air.

The new coffee shop is open, just outside of the cordoned off area. The owner was feeling almost as if she should have closed "out of respect", but I think the community needs a place to be able to drop in, and talk, and start picking up threads.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Now I need to go back to DC

Because I would really like to see these terrific quilts in person.

Some Favorite Things

We had a very lovely Christmas. The best part was having our dear daughter home for several relaxed days, and her very nice fellow joining us for dinner at "the in-laws next door" on Christmas Day.

So who needs gifts? But the gifts are nice, too, and these are some of my favorites.

Clockwise from top left: two adorable little hand knit sheep ornaments (Fair Trade from SERVE, Int.), a sweet print by an artist named Joan Arnold, Double Knitting by M'Lou Baber, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes, and a calendar with pictures of cats wearing hats. I'd say that the family knows my (occasionally quirky) tastes pretty well.

It's worth clicking to make this bigger. The faces are so charming.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I Have a Starter (?)

After flipping through various lace books, I think my first shawl for the "10 in 2010" will be rectangular, using the "Celandine" pattern from Mariannne Kinzel's first book, probably in sport weight or heavier.

That should be relatively easy, sort of a warm up lap.


My thanks to all who sent good thoughts to the town and the families affected by the fire. The kindness is much appreciated.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Sad Monday

Early Monday morning, a building downtown burned. Sadly, there were four people inside and none made it out alive. I didn't know any of them personally, but in a town this small you are never far removed. I know a sister, a cousin, and have an acquaintance with parents. My heart aches for them all.

The building is a total loss.

It's a wonder that the fire didn't spread farther, as it started sometime before 3:30 am.; but our part time police officer happened to be on duty and spotted the smoke and called the volunteer fire department. The guys were there in five minutes, with crews from surrounding towns arriving shortly after. God bless every one of them.

As it is, most of the downtown is blocked off.

There's yellow police tape running all the way around two blocks on either side of Main Street/Hwy 78 to re-route traffic, because there's some concern that the burnt building might collapse.

This makes it hard on the businesses in that area, though the ones at the ends are accessible and open, as I discovered today by stepping over the police tape near the bank. It might all be rather adventurous if no one had died. I really wish no one had died.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I haven't been knitting much, but

I've been thinking about knitting a lot.

ckknitter invited me to join a "10 shawls in 2010" group on Ravelry. First I had to think about whether I could really knit ten shawls in one year, and I thought probably not. But I visited the group and learned they set out to be a friendly, flexible bunch (no shaming if you don't complete the challenge, you just don't get a chance at any prizes). And I thought it would be fun to see what beauties everyone else comes up with. So I joined, with the mental reservation that I would just do what I could.

So now I have been thinking, "What should I do for the first one?" More specifically, who will it be for, in what shape, what size and with what yarn? What do I have in my stash with sufficient yardage (the game calls for minimum of 250 yards for eight of the ten, and 500 meters for the remaining two)? Will I go with an existing pattern, or just wing it?

I have until Jan 1 to think. Then it's time to cast on.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pure dumb luck

Every once in a while it works in your favor.

I decided that it was high time I made the second funky slipper sock, so I grabbed the yarn and my somewhat sketchy notes, cast on and got about halfway through the ribbing before it occurred to me that I really should have checked the first one to see what point in the yarn color repeat I started with.

Lo and behold:

Not a perfect match, but pretty darn close. I'm off by about one round. I think I can live with that.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cutest Ornament Ever!

This teeny, teeny pair of mittens came in a Christmas card from the inimitable Molly Bee. They are so cute, and so amazing. Thank you, thank you! I feel honored to have them.

They are now on the tree, which went up this weekend.

Well, it went up, and then came down (Thank you Merlin), but at least it came down before anything was on it.

We decided it would be wise to only use unbreakable ornaments this year. The cats are still under close supervision. I don't know. We may be making them neurotic. Why would anyone bring in a great big (interesting smelling) bush, hang fascinating new cat toys all over it, and then sit guard with water spray bottles? It's perverse. Guess they'll have a lot to tell their therapists later in life.
Really, I wouldn't mind them batting a few ornaments around - it's the potential for climbing and tipping the whole thing over again that has us on guard. If there were a reasonable way to wire it in place, we would. But that's not a feasible option.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Well Finally

The blue, mesh-y scarf was one of those projects that seemed endless. And I'm kind of "meh" about the results.

I like the pattern stitch, but the garter stitch borders are sloppy. It might have helped if I had used a slip stitch at each edge. But part of it is gauge related. I used a large needle to get a more open effect in the middle, but that gave a looser gauge in the edges than I like. Would a different edge stitch have looked nicer, maybe seed stitch? I don't know. Suggestions?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

First We Shoveled The Driveway.

Then we raked off the roof, then we shoveled the driveway again. That heap is about half of what came off the roof. I know it looks as if "we" means Mr S, but I got a good two hours in myself. This is about half of what came off the roof.

There was also the sidewalk.

It's a pain in the butt, but it's pretty.

Monday, December 07, 2009


When they're not wrestling, they really are the best of pals.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Kinda Neat

Matt Yglesias posted a link to a list of 100 Best Last Lines from Novels It's pretty cool (partly because it reminds me of how many things I haven't read, and that maybe I should go and read some of them).

I, myself would move the Huck Finn up to #2 or even #1.

100 might be too many. When speaking of literature, a "best" list that includes Richard Brautigan and Margaret Mitchell is probably too long. On the other hand, I got a kick out of "Candy" rounding out the group at #100. I'm assuming the humor of that one is entirely intentional.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Downtown Stroll

The holiday greens are up, looking almost out of place in Monday's balmy sunshine. It's nice that most of the businesses are participating.

Even the "Old Stone Building" is festooned. This is the oldest commercial building in town, and until recently was a mess. The new owners have gutted it and are slowly, but carefully renovating it.

For the time being, you can see clear through it.

Here's my actual destination, the Pecatonica Grapevine. Kmkat asked about "Pecatonica". That's the name of the river running through town. It's about 30 feet past those cars on the right.

Inside, very cosy indeed. I treated myself to a sandwich, and Christine came by with a sample of banana bread for dessert. This would be a lovely "sit and knit" spot. So Elizabeth (and anyone else), just give a holler if you want to meet up.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

When The Cats Aren't Wrestling the Rug

They often wrestle each other.

Sometimes it looks rather alarming, but so far, no hisses or growls, and so far no one's been hurt.

Friday, November 27, 2009

This is what I found when I came downstairs


For some reason, the cats find it absolutely imperative to wrestle the hearth rug into submission at least once a day - usually more.

What I found when I went downtown was this

Bad picture, but lovely new coffee shop, the "Pecatonica Grapevine". Actually, it opened last Friday, so I've already been in twice, once for coffee and once for a bottle of wine. (The wine is in the back room, which isn't as shady as it sounds, very charming display area actually). I'll get a better picture sometime after the Christmas decorations go up (probably tomorrow).

That storefront had been empty for a couple of years, so I'm grateful to Christine for opening her shop, and plan to give her as much business as possible.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My Wild Footie

Since trying to tone down the yellow yarn didn't work so well, I decided to go all out for bright.

I like it.

I also decided to make a slipper sock to wear over other socks in the house, particularly in my knitting room. It's directly over the garage, and the floor gets really cold.

And since I was being wild, I put the "gusset" decreases at the top of the foot. The toe decreases start at the center top and center bottom, move toward the sides and finish in the "regular" position. Why? Just for the hell of it.

Now I need to make the other one.

Friday, November 13, 2009


Time to face facts,

I'm not feeling the love for this combination of yarns.

I've ripped this back, and will try combining the yellow-orange yarn with a different carry along.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Slow News Day on the Knitting Front

I've been plugging away on the lattice looking scarf, but no new picture because the bit I did yesterday looks pretty much identical to the bit I did last week.

I did finish the new toes for my old socks.

So what next? I have most of a 100 gm ball of Opal 6 ply left (used part for heels and toes). Its a color that reminds me of Goldenrod copier paper - not too crazy about it, but I bought it because it was deeply discounted. So maybe I can tone it down a bit by holding it together with the Regia on the right.

Together they will be pretty thick, but winter's coming. Thick socks are good. Will there be enough, considering that I've already used up two heels and two toes worth? A little suspense keeps the knitting life interesting.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Well, will you look at that!

I pulled out most of the Nasturtium vines nearly a month ago, after the frosts had turned them to mush. A few little green leaves remained snugged right up against the house.

Yesterday as I was coming back from the Post Office, something caught my eye.

Well bless its heart. A Nasturtium in November.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Two Purrs

Bob, seen here in his Cheshire Cat manifestation, has a loud and assertive purr.

He revs up the engines before he hits your lap and you can hear him coming. It gets louder as he attempts to climb up to your shoulder and purr directly into your ear. There are times when it gets, quite frankly, just a little annoying. More than once I've pushed him off with a "That's enough, Bob!"

Merlin, on the other hand, is more reserved.

He is social in his own way, will follow you from one room to another, then settle down a few feet away. If he is relaxed and in the mood, he will accept a scratch under the chin or around the ear, and his purr will start silently. You can feel it before you hear it, and it never gets very loud. I find myself seeking him out, trying to coax one out of him.

There's something to be said for playing hard to get.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


Someone knit their kitty a witch hat.

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Thursday, November 05, 2009

As I Suspected

I did a quick "on the needle" wash of the swatch scarf. As anticipated, the pattern stitch did open up, indeed rather more than I had anticipated.

It makes a rather cool lattice look, and I think I'll go ahead and finish the scarf (despite the somewhat ragged looking edges). But for a blanket I would definitely drop the needle size.

Moral of the story: always wash and block your swatch. Which I did. Because this is the swatch.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Since You Asked

Hi kmkat! This what the back of the scarf looks like. Different than the front, but not bad.

I'm working on Size 10 needles (a tighter knitter would probably get the same gauge on 13s). The fabric has a reasonable drape and nice elasticity in both directions. The garter borders are rather loose at this tension, but I think will be presentable when washed and dried. I could see going down a needle size and still getting a fabric that isn't too stiff.

Like magnusmog, I think it would make a cozy blanket.

Sometimes a Swatch is a Scarf

This is pretty much the same pattern stitch that I used on the little crochet looking hat, except I went up several needle sizes and worked only one plain round (instead of two) between pattern rows - and of course, worked it in a single color.

Here's the pattern stitch (multiple of 3 plus 1):

Row 1: k1,* yo, slip 1, k2, pass the slipped stitch over the two knit stitches; rep from *
Rows 2 & 4: purl
Row 3: *slip 1, k2, pass the slipped stitch over the two knit stitches; rep
from *, end k1.

Slip stitches purlwise with yarn in back. Watch that the yarn overs don't get ahead of the slipped stitches. Otherwise easy as pie. I find this one simple enough to be relaxing, but requiring enough attention not to be totally boring.

I added a 3 st garter border at each side. It's still attempting to curl a little, so maybe I should have gone to 4 or 5 sts. We'll see if blocking helps. I'll be curious to see it it stretches out much after washing - I'm using Cascade 220, so it might.

I think this pattern could make a nice baby blanket, or work well in cotton for a market bag (I'm not planning on making either one in the near future, but you never know.)

Monday, November 02, 2009

Sometimes a Swatch is a Hat

Over the weekend there were still some stitch pattern variations that I wanted to try, but I was getting tired of making little non-functional tubes. None of what I'd done so far really grabbed me as having potential for socks. So I switched to worsted weight yarn and made hats.

I sort of like the way the one at the lower right almost looks as if it were crochet.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Official "Trick or Treat" hours here

are 4-7. Also, the time hasn't changed back from Daylight Savings.

I get the safety concerns and all, but damn, Trick or Treating in broad daylight just seems lame. (Actually, having "official hours" seems sort of lame, too. I'm getting old and curmudgeonly.)

Friday, October 30, 2009


In 1843, Miss Lambert gave directions for working a "Star Pattern Shawl" using a pattern stitch that boiled down to:

Row 1: *yo, sl 1, k2, pass the slipped stitch over the two knit sts; rep from *.
Row 2: purl

The directions were complicated just a little by the fact that she shapes the shawl with an increase at the beginning of each right side row. She notes: "As the increasing adds an irregular stitch, some rows will have one and others two knitted stitches at their commencement." Unfortunately, she doesn't specify which rows will have one and which will have two. They were also complicated by the fact that she changes colors every row.

At this point I abandoned Miss Lambert (for the time being, anyway) and spent a day playing around with different combinations of a yarn over and this particular decrease, knitting in the round rather than flat.

I'm not sure yet whether I'll actually use any of these in a finished object, but it was an interesting exercise.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Somewhere about midsummer we arranged to have new insulation blown into the attic. The crew came yesterday and did the job. It will be interesting to see if the house feels cosier and/or the heating bills go down. (Of course, to really figure the latter we would have to factor in comparative fuel prices and actual outdoor temperatures over the season...). At any rate, I'm hoping to be less of a polluter. I'm also hoping that better attic insulation might reduce the size of the ice dams that form at the edge of the roof. We'll see.

Because the front door had to be open for the the blower hose thingy to snake in and up the stairs, the cats were confined to the kitchen and basement for several hours. Merlin found some relief for his feelings about the situation by jumping to the top of the refrigerator and shredding most of a roll of paper towels.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Baby Needs New Toes

The sock at the bottom had a big old hole in the toe, so I re-knit it.

The one at the top isn't quite worn through, but as it has a spot that's thinning I decided to fix it, too, and be done with it. I've run needles through the stitches of the "pick up" round. I'll cut the toe off a couple of rows above that.

It would make sense to then unravel back to the row of stitches on the needles. I discovered on the first sock that the knitting is just felted enough to make unravelling difficult, so I let it be. I don't know if the resulting couple of rows of double thickness will be uncomfortable when worn. Time (and wearing) will tell.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Where all the Women are Strong...

The AP (via Yahoo news) reports:

"A Minnesota man has pleaded guilty to driving his motorized La-Z-Boy chair while drunk. A criminal complaint says 62-year-old Dennis LeRoy Anderson told police he left a bar in the northern Minnesota town of Proctor on his chair after drinking eight or nine beers....

Police said the chair was powered by a converted lawnmower and had a stereo and cup holders...."

Lake Woebegon lives!

And I must confess that my first reaction to this story was relief, because the dateline was Duluth. So many of the doofy stories like this on Yahoo do seem to be set right here in the Badger State. Which reminds me that when I moved to California from Minnesota, I had to listen to unending repititions of the "land of fruits and nuts" line. Yeah, like Midwesterners are all monumentally sane and that's why they drive drunk on motorized recliners and bar stools (the latter was in Wisconsin as I recall.)

Well, the winters are long, and I guess a guy's got to have something to tinker on in his garage...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's Raining Again Today,

but yesterday afternoon was lovely: sunny, almost 70 degrees, a gentle mild breeze. A fall day couldn't be more perfect, and this year there have been few like it.

The cats took full advantage of an open window - there probably won't be too many more opportunities before winter.

I went outside and puttered - a little pruning, a little cutting back, some just sitting on the front step and enjoying the air around me.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I Went With the Blue Thumbs After All

Mostly because that's the only color I was absolutely sure I had enough of to finish both. Well, I do have some bright plum, but that looked kind of gaacky when I held it up to the other colors.

The mittens look very long and narrow, but there is a lot of width wise stretch. I pushed the ribs in as much as possible while they are drying. They will relax outward a bit as soon as I pick them up.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Mitten's Just a Sock with a Thumb and No Foot

In it's most basic incarnation, anyway.

These are tubes of 2 x 2 ribbing. About half way up I put 8 sts on a piece of scrap yarn, cast on 8 sts and kept going. At the top I worked a few rounds of fairly rapid decreases. (Well, I did on the first mitten. I'm not quite to that point on the second one yet.)

The yarns are leftover odds and ends of worsted weight wool. I just changed colors whenever I felt like it on the first and made the second to match. When I changed colors, I worked the first round all in knit, for a smooth color transition, then went back to k2,p2.

I haven't decided what color the thumbs will be. At first I thought about the dark blue used at the cuff, but looking at the picture I'm now considering medium green.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Since I seem to have no bright ideas at the moment, and no snazzy pictures, (and besides the sun is finally shining and I would rather be outside today) I have no blog post of my own: good, bad or indifferent.

But I highly recommend Karen's thoughtful essay at Hissy Stitch. It's well worth a read.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Since you asked...

kmkat asked about the yarn in my second triangle. It's Cascade "Heritage" sock yarn, 75% Merino Superwash, 25% Nylon, color 9928. After blocking, the gauge is 17 sts = 4 inches. I'm estimating it took me about 420 yards.

The finished length from the top edge to the lower point is 23 1/2 inches. The width across the top edge is 46 inches.

Hmmmm, think I should iron that shirt?