Saturday, March 31, 2007

Gardening begins in earnest

The urban garden has begun!

Yesterday after a rather unpleasant shopping experience in mall-land (why do we torture ourselves with visits to such places?), S came home motivated to get the garden into the ground.

We've been purchasing plants for the past two weeks. We got a great group of heirloom tomatoes from the Garden two weeks ago and then S picked up some artichokes, zucchini, and herbs from Armstrong's yesterday morning.

Our goal is to grow this sustainably and organically, if at all possible. While we've had gardes before, and have tried to buy locally for some time using farmers markets, I've recently been very inspired by Path to Freedom. With the organic, sustainable goal in mind, we decided to raise our beds a bit and brought in some "special mix."

Doesn't that list of ingredients sound yummy?

I have to give S big, big amounts of credit for all his work on the garden. He started working the soil last week and did all the planting yesterday. This pic was taken near the end of the day. Do you think he had fun?

While we bought a number of plants in baby-plant stage. We are going to grow our lettuces and spinach from seed. I'm always amazed how quickly you can go from a ditch in the dirt to happy little leaves.

Of course no garden would be done without a happy little drink.

Thanks S for all your hard work yesterday. Everything looks great!

Now I just have to wait for some of those yummy, home grown, organic veggies to be ready!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Still deciding

... but at least I've ruled a few things out.

Last night I spent swatching...

[with a little helper there]

and swatching...

and swatching.

After all that try-and-frog I discovered that I don't have yarn that will work for any of the Loop-d-Loop patterns I talked about in the last post. Not only was I not getting gauge with the thick and quick, but I also don't have enough of the sage green (no your computer monitor is not broken, I was swatching with orange).

This morning I do feel better about my choices though... writing things does help. I recently read a book on the recommendation of Kate, Writing your dissertation in 15 minutes a day. While I give the book as a whole a B+, it does have some good take home messages. One of these is that you write to determine what you have to say (not that you figure out what you have to say and then write it down).

I found writing down my list of possible projects to be very informative for me. Helped me to sort things out, if you know what I mean.

As a result, I do think I've committed to trying the Forest Canopy Shawl. Scout mentioned it on her blog this morning too which I think is a sign it's a good choice.

As a second project, I think I'm going to do another sweater. This morning, on a lark, I purchased the pattern for the Somewhat Cowl from the Knit and Tonic blog. I know it wasn't on the list yesterday but it's where I'm leaning. The second runner up is the corrugated sweater.

In any case, I do have to visit the LYS before I can start any of these projects. I need needles for the shawl and yarn for the sweaters. I think perhaps that the decision of sweater may be made based on yarn availability. Should be fun!

The best thing about my listing? I realized that I can do everything on the list if I want to. All I have to do today is pick what's first. What a realization hmm? [grin]

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Decisions, decisions, decisions

After finishing picovoli, I'm left in a project-less state. Well that's not entirely true, swallowtail is still on the needles (ignored since November!) but I'm just not ready to go there yet!

So what's a girl to do. Last night I started considering my choices.

1. Forest Canopy Shawl. Earlier this year I purchased some Koigu to do this project. Now I feel somewhat ambivalent. Last night I google blog searched and saw some lovely photos of completed projects. Given this, I went ahead and purchased the pattern. I went to my stash-all and realized I don't have the right size needle. [sigh] So the question now is should I go find new needles or do I do something different with the Koigu? I was considering socks as an alternative.

How do people feel about shawls? One one hand, I think they are beautiful. Lord knows I am cold ALL the time so I could use extra warmth. But... are they practical? I'm just not sure whether it makes sense. Then I think, but it's only one shawl... so what if you only use it once in awhile. It's not like I use the christmas stockings I made on a regular basis!

2. Something from Loop-d-Loop.

I purchased this book some time ago with the plan to make the braided neckpiece. I saw this completed in one of my LYS, The Kitter's Studio. It was quite attractive in person. I don't have the yarn called for in the book (a bulky cashmere) but have toyed with the idea of using something else I have as a substitute: hand-dyed skeins of Thick and Quick that are a nice sage color. I did buy this yarn to make a christmas stocking from, but I could change my mind I suppose.

There are several other projects in the book that are appealing as well. The cabled riding jacket is phenomenal. Posts on Elspeth's blog suggest that this pattern is full of errors and may be well beyond my capabilities at this time though. I also wonder if it would look quite as lovely on someone larger than a toothpick.

The fair isle hooded capelet in the book is also quite cute. Again this is a bulky yarn and I might be able to use the sage green yarn I described above. I'd have to swatch to see if this could work. The practicality factor gets me here again. How often would I wear a hooded capelet?

The zip-off color-block yoke sweater I also think is very interesting. It is full of zippers though (that's how the sections are connected to each other; not with seams but with zippers). I think this is a project for advanced skills.

The corrugated asymmetrical v-neck sweater also is quite interesting. This is one of those designs that I'd like to see more photos of though. Sure it's cute in the fashion photos, but in real life? A search of blog world reveals a photo or two or three that look reasonable. I think I can keep this on the maybe list.

Hmm... looks like there are several options here.

3. Some other sweater. For awhile I was considering the Central Park Hoodie. This still seems like a good option, but it's not calling to me at this moment.

The other sweater that's been calling to me from blogland is the Katherine Hepburn cardigan from Lace Style. I've knit two patterns from this book as a knitster on Knitty Gritty several months back. Both projects were accessories and neither was magnificent, still....

Reading about this on Cara's blog and seeing her progress has been pretty inspiring. I certainly love the way cables come out so this might be a good choice. But size 5 needles and sportweight for the entire sweater? I'm not sure that ranks up there with the best choice for second sweater ever.

4. I've been thinking about purchasing Cables Untangled as well. Beth brought this book to one of our stich-n-b*tches and I thought it was quite beautiful. So no specific project in mind here, but there may be another cable project here to try.

Another book that I saw reviewed in the LA Times (of all places) was Twinkle's Big City Knits. I love the idea of knitting a sweater with bulky weight. Maybe I really am lazy at heart and just haven't accepted this yet.

5. More socks. I have yarn for at least 2 more pair of socks. Some trekking and some lornas laces.

6. Other projects... well there is that stash of yarn for dishclothes, for an aran afghan, for some skinny scarves, for the mother bear project, and even the lion brand suede I purchased at the 99cent store with no clear plan. Here's a novel idea, I could even knit a square for a habitat afghan. Can you tell how excited I am about any of these options right now?


Nothing is jumping up and down and screaming "pick me, pick me."

Well always erring on the safe size, I started swatching my trekking sock yarn last night. Maybe I'll have more than one project in the works for the next period of time.

Anyone want to express and yeah or nay for any of the above. Ruling out sometimes is as helpful as picking!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


She is done!

In fact she's just come out of the wash and will hopefully be ready to wear in just a few days of drying.

Picovoli designed by Grumperina
Frog Tree Pima Silk (85% Pima Cotton, 15% Silk)
Color 841, Lot 0973 (periwinkle blue, imho), approx 3 1/2 balls
32" bust finished size
US size 5 (3.75 mm) 16 " bamboo circulars and 24" addi turbos
started February 26, 2007
finished March 27, 2007

This was a great first sweater for me. Simple, knit in one piece, a confidence booster. I feel ready to take on something more complicated now!

But what will that next project be?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Another 100!

No not miles... 100 posts!

Sorry I've been an absent blogger, but life has been running away with me.

But, as a reward for your persistence, a photo bonanza. This weekend my parents came to visit and you get to share the family photo album.

Can you believe this sky?

Talk about amazing clouds.

This weekend was a wet to dry experience. We started Saturday with a trip to Crystal Cove. Of course the trip to the beach requires a hike through "the tunnel."

A trip through the dark and into the light.

And do you know what we got to see?

Look at this little sweetie! Unfortunately he was apparently lost and the calvary had to come save him.

After a great dinner at the Beachcomber, which is right on the beach, we waited for sunset.

And it was worth the wait.

Sunday we went to the desert. We started at brunch at the 29 Palms Inn.

You can find the strangest things in the most unusual places.

Then we drove into Joshua Tree National Park. While the wildflowers weren't yet in bloom, there were some magnificent blooms out.

The yucca... take a look at this.

You don't see a flower mound like that too often.

And the joshua trees... all in bloom. This is apparently fairly unusual. The joshua trees don't bloom every year.

Here's the up close.

Just beautiful.

Then we took a couple of short hikes out and about.

Got to explore every crevice.

Got to hold up the world.

Got to get perspective on your size in the world!

And you have to stop and admire the beauty.

It was a wonderful weekend full of things to see and places to go.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

100 miles done!

Yeah for me!

I've hit my target of 100 miles by April 1... and it's not even April 1st yet.

Now I need to set my next goal. Run-a-go-go is considering doing another 100 by July 1. I'm thinking that perhaps I should set a more challenging goal for myself though.

This 100 definitely motivated me to walk every day (whereas in the past I would have let S take the dog out for his stroll a couple of times a week). But... my mileage isn't really all that much more than what I've done in the past.

I'm going to sit down with a calculator and develop a plan. More info to come.

Happy Tuesday to everyone!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The midriff shot

Picovoli is still slowly but surely growing longer. The most bizarre thing... this sweater seems to really emphasize the bust area.

When S took the photo, even he commented. I pride myself on being an A student... this makes me look like I've suddenly earned Cs or Ds.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

And for today...

I have a new hair cut

[how do ya like those fine bathroom mirror photography skills?]

and 3 pages of scribbles to show.

Just in case you think my days aren't chocked full of activities!!

p.s. closing in on my 100 miles... as of this morning I'm at 93.

p.p.s. let's play with headers

p.p.p.s. well I've tried my best... I can't make the image load into the header well. It wants to tile and that is very, very bad.
If anyone has suggestions about why it may be going to tile, rather than just showing one image, I'd love to hear your thoughts.
I finally determined that blogger was shrinking my image from the required 700x130 pixels. I saved it into photobucket instead, and now we have a winner!

Monday, March 12, 2007


there are still more weeds.

So how does this work? You weed all day, are convinced that you've done a good job, and then the next morning you go out and weeds everywhere!

Now so you won't think I'm totally insane, this little guy was found in the backyard, which I did not work on yesterday. I focused totally on the front yard. (I delusionally thought that the backyard was already finished from last weekend... hah!). But still, I went out for a walk with the dog this morning and little weeds everywhere... maybe they all grew overnight?!

Well a little more weeding this morning and now I think the front yard is weed free.

The back yard will have to wait until next weekend.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Another weekend down...

Fewer weeds... more picovoli!

I don't know what I was thinking, but Saturday morning I had the lofty idea that I would finish this sweater by the end of the weekend. I thought, "I'll just wait to post and then I'll have some great photos." Guess I had a bit of heat crazy (did you know it was 90 degrees in S. Cal this weekend?).

I'm very pleased with how this sweater is working up. It's giving me great confidence that I can in fact knit a sweater. Funny... first I was a bit fearful of the sock... then I was a bit fearful of the sweater... now... I'm ready for all challenges. Well, ok, maybe I'm not quite ready to steek yet.

(Don't you love that waist shaping?)

It's been another busy weekend in the yard... cleaning and planning. We now are officially weed free! Yeah... only one small blister and a sore back to acheive that goal.

Now I'm ready to plant. Garden Genie has been giving me a needed prod... Ohio and she has plants. 90 degree California and we haven't started yet. Sad... sad indeed.

After scouting around today I've decided that I want to plant in raised beds. Haven't told S that yet though [grin]. I'll have to give him a couple of weeks to finish a big school project and then hopefully we can bring in some good dirt, raise the beds up a bit, and plant away.

I'm ready to be a small version of the urban gardener.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Knitting trauma

So as promised in my last post, the outdoors has definitely been competing with my knitting time. Large spans of time on both Saturday and Sunday were spent outdoors mowing, weeding, and generally tidying up.

Gotta love spring.

Sunday night, I did bring myself back indoors and got back to knitting. Since picovoli is knitted top down, she was a good candidate for a try on.

So far so good when it comes to size.

Of course, as soon as I started taking the sweater-ette off, trauma occurred. Yep, stiches started escaping off needles, ladders started forming, and stitch markers started jumping onto the floor. Eeeks!!

With a little concentration I was able to catch all the stiches and with the assistance of my handy dandy crochet hook I was able to repair the ladders. A sigh of relief. Then all that was left was to find the location for the beginning of the round so I could replace the stich marker. I was pretty sure I knew where the marker had come from at least.

Now initially it seemed like luck was with me as I never removed the original "center" marker. So all I had to do was count over and there was the mark. But then... I realized that somehow my original mark was now to the left of my new beginning of round. How could this be? It should have been to the right. I've knitted countless rounds and knew this had to be true. Had I somehow reversed my direction of knitting when I put all the stitches back on one needle after the try on?

Friends let me tell you I tried to wrap my mind about this possibility for some time. Is it possible to start knitting in the round going one direction and end up later going the opposite direction?

Once my head hurt, I decided I just counted over from the original mark in the wrong direction and moved the silly marker. Never try to fix a mistake late at night after bedtime.

So now we are back on track, ready for more progress. Now I just have to find more of that valuable commodity, time.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

What is it? It's a ...


Yes last night my picovoli and I turned the corner. Instead of looking like a clown collar, it is now clear that I'm actually knitting a sweater!

Yes, the Knitting Bandit, my family, and I all weren't sure what it was and if it could really be anything functional. [laugh]

Now... I have faith.

(For those who still are questioning, the green yarn is just temporary... it will eventually come out when I knit up a decorative edge for the neck and sleeves).

I'm looking forward to this weekend and time to continue making progress.

The only bad thing (and I use this phrase very, very loosely), the weather is gonna compete. We have blue skies, high 70s, and a light cool breeze. Maybe after I mow the lawn (yes, I live in Southern California where you have to mow the lawn in February and March ... love it) and weed (yep... spring is here and so are the weeds) I can get back to this lovely mass of blue.

Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Click... click...

click... click....

That's the sound of my needles making slow but steady process on picovoli.

She's a little bit bigger now... a little bit.

I've actually been suprised that I'm finding this to be a very pleasant knit. The last time I used cotton, I found it to be a bit squeeky; not all that joyous to knit. That little bit of silk mixed with this cotton makes this a very soft and easy fiber to knit.

I won't be done any time soon, but I can easily see myself staying with this project and having my first completed garment.

On the local flora and fauna front, I thought I'd share a picture of one of our regular backyard visitors.

Just to the right of the tree there... squint hard through the dark... could it be, yes, it's our neighborhood opossum. He was taking a stroll through the yard last night.

I generally find possums to be unattractive little creatures, but I have to admit this little guy was kind of cute... if you can get past the beady eyes and the rodent like tail.