Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Improved Blog with 20% More Posting

Both my mom and sister have made comments lately that led me to believe I was not posting enough to satisfy their insatiable curiosity for details about my life. I guess I'll have to up my game a bit and fill the blog with more minutiae about my life, because there isn't a lot of knitting or transit related news to tell most of the time. Today is a different story.

This morning my bus was almost hit by a car trying to make a left turn in front of the bus. It was an SUV of some sort, and he must have REALLY misjudged the turn or the speed of the bus, because I was sitting in the middle of the bus and he came within inches of smashing into the bus right outside my window. I'm glad he didn't hit the bus, because I have been on the bus when it was hit by a car before, and I didn't much feel like filling out the little card showing where I was sitting and what I saw. I just wanted to get home and watch my new West Wing DVD from Netflix.

While I did this, I started a new knitting project. I am now knitting Flair, from Knit and Tonic. I am using the lovely garnet colored Malabrigo worsted I got from Orinda5 and am keeping my fingers crossed I'll have enough. Judging by other projects I've seen on Ravelry, I should be okay. Of course, I did a very sorry excuse for a gauge swatch, so you never know.

It's a top down raglan, which I love. I love being able to see it magically become a sweater! If I run out of yarn, the sleeves will be a wee bit shorter.

Yesterday was D's birthday. We headed over to Black Sheep Pizza for a birthday dinner. It was very good, but unfortunately they don't have dessert so there was no cupcake or something with a candle in it. I'm sure this disappointed me more than him. Oh well. I gave him a book that was something about mathematical curiosities. When he told me on one of our first dates that he had been a math major in college, I just knew. I knew the way you know about a good melon.

And, whoever can tell me what movie that last line comes from gets a prize. First person to post in comments wins. I don't know what the prize will be. Maybe a melon. Maybe a pizza. Maybe a book about math.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I Need a New Word for "Perfect"

I just spent what can only be described as quite possibly one of the most perfect weekends of my life, thus far. I'm racking my brain trying to think of a weekend that has felt more "right" and I just can't. I think this was one of those rare life moments where everything comes together to create contentment. A perfect blend of good food, friendly strangers, physical and mental activity, and a person to travel with that makes you happy.

David and I spent the weekend in Lanesboro, MN and thereabouts. We loaded up our bikes, and in my case, way too much other stuff and headed out of town. How is it that I can pack so light for a 10 day trip to Ireland, but when I head 2 hours south, I pack as though I am leaving home for an indefinite period of time?

We arrived in Lanesboro in the rain. We ducked in to the Pedal Pushers Cafe where we had the coffee and pie special for $1.99. Chocolate cream pie. Yum! I drew this lovely picture. If you look closely, you will see that the person in the middle is lamenting that there are not enough trees drawn for him to hide behind.

This is about as crafty as I got all weekend. Well, this and winding one skein of Malabrigo into a ball.

We wandered around a bit and then headed over to the Scandinavian Inn, the bed and breakfast we called home for two days. I can't imagine staying anywhere else in Lanesboro. Peter and Vicki, the innkeepers, were so friendly and hospitable. The breakfast was the best I think I have ever had. Our room was lovely. All in all, a wonderful place to stay. Do check it out if you ever visit Lanesboro.

Friday night we headed to the Vintage for dinner. I'd read about the Vintage and was excited to try this restaurant that has their own garden next door.

I started off with the beet salad, and the greens had that just plucked from the garden taste. What a difference from the lettuce in a bag I usually have! The Beef Tenderloin I had was amazing. A perfect amount of char on the outside, perfectly medium-rare on the inside. It came with baby summer squash that was tender and full of flavor. After dessert and coffee, we ambled back to our B&B for a game of cribbage (yes, we are dorks).

Saturday morning we woke up and enjoyed our coffee and tea delivered via dumbwaiter! Yes! A dumbwaiter. What a nice touch!

About an hour later, our breakfast started to arrive. Imagine my delight when I opened the dumbwaiter and saw all this fruit waiting for me.

The first bite of peach was like a little explosion of flavor, juicy and sweet. Lemon bread and chocolate chocolate chip muffins accompanied the fruit, as well as rommegrot (Norwegian cream pudding). We packed up the carbs to take on the bike trail with us.

The dumbwaiter arrived again with more food. By this point, I was giddy with excitement. I may have even jumped up and clapped my hands together. Waiting inside the dumbwaiter was an amazing meal. Oven-baked cinnamon pecan french toast with real maple syrup; shirred eggs with Jarlsberg cheese, dried tomatoes, and toasted onions; and free-range sausage links. It was a perfect mix of sweet and savory dishes. The sausage is from Hilltop Pastures Family Farm in nearby Harmony, MN. Not only was the food delicious, but it was beautiful. We enjoyed breakfast in the sunshine on the balcony just off our room. I can't think of a better way to start the day.

All this food left us well prepared for our 30 mile bike ride up and down the Root River Trail.

We biked from Lanesboro to Peterson. We perused all the history at the Peterson Station Museum while John Erickson shared some of the history of Peterson with us. He was very knowledgeable and a delight to talk with. We then had chili dogs at the little shop across the street before we headed back to Lanesboro. We stopped at the Aroma Pie Shoppe in Whalan for pie and ice cream. This is a must-stop if you ever plan to be in the area. It's right on the bike trail and you can eat your pie as you watch bikers zip by.

Biking 30 miles was hard work. I'm looking forward to doing it again, but Saturday night I was ready to just sit somewhere and relax. To that end, we bought tickets to see The Odd Couple at the Commonweal Theater. Lanesboro may be a small town, but they have a wonderful theater company. I'm looking forward to getting back to this part of the state soon.

By the time the play was over, I was eagerly anticipating Sunday morning breakfast. I was not disappointed. The dumbwaiter delivered up a fresh fruit salad of tasty pears and melon, with a sprig of mint. The raspberry muffins were melt in your mouth moist, with fresh raspberries that provided tang and sweetness. There was also cornbread with jam that was delicious.

The main meal was a Persian omelet (chard, spinach, parsley, walnuts, pine nuts, feta cheese), oven backed potatoes (so good!), and broiled ham. Even though our plans to eat on the balcony were thwarted by a bee, I could not have been happier.

After breakfast, it was time to say goodbye to the Scandinavian Inn. I really hope we'll get a chance to go back. I think it was one of my most enjoyable lodging experiences ever (right up there with the cottage in Ireland).

We drove through a few more of the towns on the Root River Trail and then headed to Miesville for a baseball game.

The Miesville Mudhens are an amateur league team, and what a great time we had. It was fan appreciation day, and we got two brats, a beer, and a soda for under $6. Soda was only 50 cents! You'll never see that at a major league game! The game got exciting in the 8th inning when one of the Mudhens hit a grand slam which ultimately won the game.

So, yes...it was a wonderful weekend, combining many of my favorite things: baseball, culture, exercise, really good food. True...there was no yarn (other than one skein of Malabrigo in my bag), but that was o.k. I've got plenty at home.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Finished Baby Blanket

I stayed up past my bedtime last night and finished up Petr. I finally said to myself, "Bah! It doesn't need to be square. It's big enough!" and I did the border and bound off. It's about 41"x31". A nice rectangle.

As I looked at it last night, I thought about what a lovely pattern it is. Simple, but pretty. I like the way the decreases make a nice decorative diagonal line after the yarn-overs. As I looked closer, I thought, "Gee...you really can see where I started up again after not working on this for a year and a half".

At first I thought it might be because the yarn had sat on the needles for so long. The I looked closer and realized that wasn't the case at all.

When I picked this up again, I knew the pattern was something like, K4, YO, K2tog, on and on until you want to poke the knitting needle in your eye. Well, as I looked at it, I realized it must have been K4, YO, SSK. This gave that nice decorative, diagonal line. K2tog just gives a sort of "blah" effect. To a knitters eye, this pops right out. To a non-knitter, I think they'd realize something is not quite right there.

Needless to say, I'm glad to no longer be working on this thing. I won't be ripping back and re-doing this. I might just keep it for myself as a lap blanket. I kind of like it, and I can use to judge just how evil acrylic really is.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Large Blanket

Petr is huge. Or it will be huge. I measured the width the other day, just to see how far I had to go, and it is 41" across. That's over three feet.

At last measure, I had 25" in length, so I've got a ways to go. I'm getting 5 rows per inch, so if I do 5 rows a day, it will be done in a little more than two weeks. Here's hoping! I've got 4 rows so far today.

Tomorrow is the Little Guy's Birthday. He'll be three. He sure has changed from the days he got to be wrapped up like a burrito.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Something Old, Something Blue

Wednesday I decided I was going to start knitting something. Something for me! Something using some of the lovely yarn I have. I've had my eye on the Asymmetrical Cabled Cardi for some time. The pattern calls for Malabrigo Worsted, which I happen to have. Time to get started.

The pattern also calls for size 9 needles. Knowing that I always have to go down a needle size, I headed to the knitting closet to find my size 8 needles. This is when I realized I really need to organize. Could not find size 8 anywhere. I'm pretty sure I have multiple size 8 needles, even multiple size 8 circular needles, but where they got themselves off to, I have no idea.

Then I realized that perhaps I was using some size 8s for the Petroleum Blanket. I called it this because it is made of acrylic yarn...a lovely blue Bernat Softee Baby. This particular blanket has been wrapped up inside a plastic bag since March 2008. It didn't even get the dignity of a plastic Target bag. Nope...just a generic plastic bag that says, "Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" all over it. It's really quite sad.

I pulled Petr (new attitude towards blanket, new name) out of the bag and sure enough, there were a set of size 8 needles. The very first size 8 circular needles I ever bought. Cheapy size 8s bought at some big box craft store...the needles have some kind of paint or something over them that has begun to wear away. They make a horrible scratchy sound when they touch. I don't like these needles.

It was about this point I realized that maybe I didn't want to knit the Assymetrical Cabled Cardi. I think the powers that be are sending me a message, "Don't Knit This!" This winter, when I first thought I might want to knit this, I went to the Yarnery to get some Malabrigo. None of the colors jumped out at me, so I bought knitting books instead. Now, I have the yarn, but did I really want to pull another half-complete project off of the needles? Needles that I don't like and would rather get rid of? Not really. And, how much do I really like this pattern? Not too terribly much.

So...I made a snap decision to finish Petr. Yeah, it's kind of a boring pattern and it's knit out of acrylic and it seems that I will never finish. But, I think when it is done, it will be lovely. So there you have it. I'll spend a good portion of the summer with a large pile of acrylic in my lap.

I got to it right away. Attached my iPod to the mini-speakers I got this weekend, started up a Cast On podcast, and began knitting. Wish me luck! I think I'll need it.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Last of the Marley Hats

At least for now.

If you are tired of looking at Marley Hats knit in green, blue, and yellow, imagine how I feel about knitting them. Not really...it's a great hat to knit. I'm sure I'll make more in the future. I still have LOTS of the Tahki Cotton Classic sitting around...perfect amounts to do one or two rows of a hat. I do have another plan for them though that I will get to in a moment.

Why do I love the Marley hat so much? Like all baby hats, it is easy and quick. I don't completely follow the pattern, but it is fun to play with different textures in the same hat. The style of the hat is perfect for a boy or girl. Switch the colors up a little and you get a whole new look.

And the Marley Topper...this is what makes the Marley Hat. The topper is so fun and cute. I have to admit though, it is a pain to make. I have watched the tutorial video, and she makes it look so easy. Every time I make one, I struggle with getting it on the hat. Even with that, it's still pretty easy.

I've done all my Marley Hats with the Tahki Cotton Classic, a wonderful mercerized cotton available in a mind-boggling array of colors. This yarn has a lovely sheen, is not splitty like some yarns can be, and produces a nice stretchy hat. Very nice stitch definition as well. I can't speak to how it might look in other projects, but for a small hat it works wonderfully.

Just to give you an idea of how much yarn I used, I had one skein each of blue, yellow, and green and I made three hats in the 0-6 month size.

This same yarn is also used to make the flowers for the Rosebud hat. David and I have friends who recently had a baby girl (well, it's been a few months now), so my plan is make this hat, using the bits and pieces of this yarn I have to make the flowers.

I just saw on Susan B. Anderson's website that amp;sr=1-1">Itty Bitty Toys is on the way! I can't wait!

And in completely unrelated news, what is this?

Last weekend, I went with Gigi and her hubby to the furniture store and played with the Little Guy while they picked out a big boy bed for him. This toy was there. Looks like George Custer on a motorcyle...which seems really strange to me. Am I missing something?

Friday, July 3, 2009

The End Result...

...is a really ugly scarf. I'll get to that in a minute.

I had two more days of my fiber and fabric structure class on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday we spent most of the day talking about man-made fibers. We talked about fibers that are made from reconstituted cellulose (an example is rayon) and synthetic fibers (such as the much maligned acrylic). I don't have my notes with me, so I won't try to go into any details.

Our instructor encouraged us to arrange our fiber samples in an aesthetically pleasing manner. As you can see, I ignored that advice.

We then moved on to talk about fabric structures - different weaves and knits and such - and different treatments for fibers. I found this all fascinating. I think others in the class were anxious to get to the hands on aspect of the class, but I was content to soak up all this information. I really wasn't in any hurry to be creative. You'll see why in a minute.

For our class project, we each got a velvet scarf that we treated with some gunk (a combination of a thickener and some kind of stuff you use in swimming pools) to burnout the protein part of the scarf and leave behind the non-protein. In this case, silk and rayon. We applied the gunk with paintbrushes, squirt bottles, whatever was on hand.

This is where things got iffy for me, as anything that slightly resembles drawing or painting shuts down my creative synapses. So, while I was doing a lame combination of squares and squiggles...

Holly was drawing these lovely Koi.

We left the scarves overnight for the gunk to dry.

Wednesday we dyed our creations. I forgot my camera, so I can only show you the finished product. We used Kool-Aid.

You can see that something in the pot also left blue marks on my scarf...

Oh yeah, I also burned a hole in the scarf while ironing it.

So, it pretty much turned out to be quite ugly. I think I may donate this to the dress up closet at my dad and step-mom's house. I took a silk scarf with me that I plan to play around with. Maybe that will turn out a little bit better.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I am the Crazy Sweater Lady

This morning, I brought my dad's sweater to class for show and tell. This is the lovely wool, cabled sweater I gave him about a year and a half ago. It really turned out nice.

When I got on the bus this morning, I sat in front of a young woman knitting! Having already had some coffee, I was feeling friendly and asked her what she was working on. She was knitting a sleeve for a cardigan, in the round.

So, then I asked her if I could show her something and proceeded to pull this big wool sweater out of my bag. I'm sure she thought I was nuts. She was very nice about it though and said it was beautiful. We chatted very briefly and then I went back to listening to my podcast and she knit.

Maybe it isn't so crazy. We are both knitters after all...we should share more!

I forgot my camera today so I cannot yet show you pics from class yesterday. I'll wait to blog about it until I have my camera.