Monday, October 30, 2006

Yes, he's back.

And he’s sporting my latest quick hat project. I finished the crown off with some yarn that was included in the Fall 2002 Spin Off skeins department ~ an angora/Corriedale blend. It barely puts a dent in the stash, but I feel better having used it. Really, the things I lose sleep over. I may even have enough left to make another hat.

Materials & Such: #6 circular needle, hand spun that works out to a gauge of 4-5 st per inch, a pair of working hands w/ opposable thumbs (I know it seems discriminatory against cats and those that knit w/ feet, but it was my second lace-knit project ~ thumbs seem kind of important.)

These are the directions as executed:

CO 80 stitches and join ends w/o twisting. (It's best to shoot for an even number of stitches that are also a multiple of 5 for the lace pattern.)

Row 1: p2 k3, repeat to end

Row 2: p2, k1, yo, slip one st knitwise, slip one st purlwise, k these two stitches together, repeat to end

Row 3: p2, k3, repeat to end

Row 4: p2, k2 together, yo, k1, repeat to end

This is the lace knit part and can be knit to desired depth/length depending on whether the brim folds up or not. (The pattern is borrowed from Holly’s Socks by Laurie Corriveau. It seems the link-a-ma-whats-it isn’t working; but a Search Engine should yield fruitful results.) I then switched over to Lee Raven’s simple pattern for the crown, decreases and finish as follows:

Round 1: p2, k2; repeat this round for about ½”

Round 2: p2 together, k2; repeat round of p1, k2 for about 1”

Round 3: p1, k2 together; repeat round of p1, k1 for another 1”

Round 4: sl 1, k1, pass sl st over k st; repeat round until down to 10-15 st.

Break yarn, leaving a good 6-8” tail and thread that through the remaining st w/ a tapestry needle. Pull stitches closed and knot end to keep from unraveling (or take Prozac).

Enjoy finished product.

We also managed to get down to the local Halloween parade Saturday night. Generally, the parade consists of big folks, wee bairns and the occasional canine in costume milling about on the church lawn and then walking down Main Street to the gazebo for treats and hot chocolate. This weekend, the gazebo was flooded, so the procession ended at the tracks in lower Cold Spring.

In costume, Bennie as the Purple Haze, Dirk as the Dark Leprechaun and Ian as Subzero (I don't think he'll be able to fit into this costume again next year . . . the neck was barely discernable and there was a definite wedgie.) Tom was absent and being cool with his friends at Cold Spring Pizza. I was wearing the camera.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Latest Knits on Site

Nights at the Plantation are slowing down. I'm able to sit and knit while everyone is lost in Camp Lazlo or Spongebob. Through the Cartoon Network haze, I've finished Holly's Socks with the Trekking (XXL) Superwash wool/nylon blend. It was a simple lace project that's encouraging me to try out yet another more challenging pattern. I'm not much of a shawl person, so I have to hunt around for other interesting reasons to knit lace patterns ~ curtains, maybe. I'll be needing a few of those. I only have 72 windows of varying shapes and sizes.

Since I need another hat (Bennie has laid claim to one I knit years ago from my first handspun) I thought I'd take this simple lace pattern and adapt it to Lee Raven's simple hat instructions from Hands On Spinning. (Can anyone live without this book? Okay, if you don't spin maybe.) So I took the stitch from this:

And I've come up with this:

Here is the leftover from a pair of socks; fiber content, something and mohair. The socks wear like iron. I don't intend to turn the brim of this hat and since I have an even number of stitches, it will be easy to switch over to k2p2 for decreasing at the crown. This lace pattern works with 5 stitches; p2 and two varying yo's in the three knit stitches, all acheived in four rows. I will transcribe the pattern at a later date and if I've met with success.

Here's the site again to check out the sock pattern:

In the meantime, I haven't been anywhere in the vicinity of the Drawing Board. The inactivity nags and gnaws at me. I've got good excuses for not sketching, but I won't go into that. They're lousy excuses no matter how good and important they sound. I suppose it's just another Dry Spell ~ yet another of many that my Inner Bohemian Artist and I must traverse searching for an Artisitic Oasis in a deep Desert of Nothingness. (Add an 's' to that word and at least the journey would be tasty and filled with empty calories.) We'd just have to be aware of mirage in the vicinity; nothing more distressing than coming upon false inspiration.

Thought for the Day: Aim high, but hit low when necessary.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The conversation went like this:

Tom: Indecipherable grumbling.

Ian: “I wonder what we can get while we’re there at least.”

Bennie: “Ian, there’s just sheep, wool and food. It’s a Sheep and Wool Festival not a Play Games and Sit on Your Butt All Day Festival.”

One can only snort guffaws as quietly as possible in the front seat of a beat-up Subaru on the way to, you guessed it, the Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. We went on severely limited funds. In fact, I should have been looking at light fixtures instead of rovings. But I survived a night on a dining hall floor of a Girl Scout camp site Friday night; followed by the lashing together of twigs to make Wish Boats outdoors most of Saturday. This was my rationale; that and the promise of knitting up light fixtures as necessary.

So this is the fleece, wool and yarn I purchased. I had the kids pick out skeins for themselves to make socks. It mollified all except the 13-year-old.

But that’s not the big deal. The big deal was purchasing this book:

Trafficking in Sheep by Anne Barclay Priest. I haven’t read it yet, but I was enamoured when I saw it in the Woolery catalog. The description of the book was enough to capture me:

“. . . a working actress and divorced mother, Anne Priest falls in love with Nova Scotia, buys a house there and ends up purchasing an island, alternating her life between Nova Scotia and New York, raising sheep and Border collies and learning much in the process.”

It’s my dream job. Well, except for the acting, divorce and alternating time ‘twixt countries. I made it my personal mission this trip to find the book. Meandering through the last building that had a juggler outside it, I bought my dear children honey candies, giving up hope that I’d find this book. Then there it was, laid out on a table with other freshly printed, brand spanking new hardcover copies and the dust jacket depicting a woman with a Shepherd’s staff and a Border collie walking a rocky knoll, a Nova Scotia map in the background. The top copy was quickly snapped up and hustled to the vendor for a quick and final purchase.

As the woman was gathering her receipt book, I was babbling on about how I used to spend summers in Amherst, Nova Scotia and that’s why I had to have this book and my grandparents also had sheep and a Border collie named Beaver and we lived right across Bay Verte and . . . then I realized I was talking to Anne Barclay Priest herself. Idiot. The whole time I was talking, I’d had one of the kid’s honey candies sticking out of my cheek like a hamster.

I asked her to sign my book; already autographed, she inscribed it for me. I didn’t notice if she was selling fleece. I saw the booth banner read Blue Island Farm or something to that effect, never making the connection until too late. She was selling ram’s heads she had sequined and decorated herself. My kids noticed and made their connections to my heavily hot-glued deer’s skull. “Do you use sequins?” she asked. No, big blobs of glass from the Dollar Store and glass beads with hot glue. Ah! I may have expanded her repertoire. Certainly, without having read the book yet, I feel quite ready to step into a world that is vaguely familiar; one where I can return to some great memories of my own. I think it’s what memoirs ought to do.

P.S. We bought another rabbit.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Cat's Away

And I, as Mouse, will play. Well, I'm not doing much playing really. The house is all mine for a great portion of the day. If the dog let's me, I might be able to moodle at the sketch board. As it stands now, I can barely get a sentence in without her dropping a squeaky toy at my feet and insisting I toss it . . . again. We may need a walk. Then a nap.

In the meanwhile, back at some ranch in the desolate outskirts of town, I've been thinking over the finishing of the Fair Isle sweater which spelled certain doom from the beginning (I'd been lying to myself about the quantities of yarn I had ~ a sort of Stash Denial). I'm thinking I may have to modify the design to suit my stash. Give up on the green and go for a) another color or b) make solid fawn-colored alpaca sleeves.

These are the colors . . . I can still do the circle motif at the cuffs, but the rest might have to be cashed in and made solid. Wouldn't be a total loss; at least I'd have a wearable sweater as opposed to an unfinished projects. Unfinished projects make me homicidal at present.

Meanwhile, at yet another ranch, I'm on the second Holly sock. I like the simple lace pattern. I'm certain I'll enjoy wearing them. That's my bus stop knitting.

Well, Bohdi is right eager to get outside. Good for me too ~ get some fresh autumn air.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Please! Fence me in!

Much is going on at Casa del Loco today (forgive me, it's only a fair stab at Spanish syntax ~ feel free to correct me). These guys are finally putting up the iron railing. It took awhile for us to get to the nosing, but that's because we'd been working with the electrician trying to figure out the previous electrician's wiring. We've been avoiding the tearing down of walls and separating convoluted circuits. It's been an adventure. Al the Electrician has been muttering to himself 'round the house for the past couple of weeks. It's pleasant to finally start a conversation with him that doesn't begin with, "Guess what . . ."

As a result of Al's fine work, we are basking in the glow of real lighting fixtures instead of strings of lights and snaking extension cords throughout the house. These are intended for the dining room table. At present, it's Al's work space ~ he deserves every beam of light.

In the meantime, I'm trying to sketch for my Uber-Secret project. I have the present sock knitting distraction if I run into one of those Artists' Blocks. And there's also a Thneed (it's something all people need, thanks to Dr. Seuss). Really it's just a meditation swatch ~ plain knitting with some of the handspun Ramboulliet. The needles are different sizes; makes for some interesting knitting. I don't care where that goes so long as I have the action of knitting to free my mind a little.

Bohdi isn't happy about the crate treatment, but there's too many men, whom she generally distrusts (except for Al who gives her a portion of his liverwurst sandwich at lunch) and it's too much commotion to worry about a dog taking a header.

The cat sleeps through everything.