Sunday, September 30, 2007

Weekend recap

It's been a pleasant weekend here in sunny southern CA. Friday night S and I went to see a new movie, Across the Universe. I'm strongly endorsing this one!

Very quirky... a musical ... story incorporating a series of Beatles songs (hence the title). If you liked Moulin Rouge, this is a film for you. I laughed out loud in several places, found the actors to be very strong singers and good performers, and enjoyed the amazing visuals. If you're interested in something outside of the mainstream, I think you'll like this one. There are more details on IMDb but the main web site I linked to first has several clips, as well as the trailer, online. The trailer doesn't do the film justice. The clip of the army physical exam gives you a bit better feel for the film, I think.

Yesterday we spent meandering around town. We visited our local farmers market and picked up a bit for the end of summer

and the beginning of fall.

We also visited a local nursery to explore what types of fruit trees we might want to plant in our side yard (fall is the time to plant trees!). We had to take down some scrubby pine trees (I'm sure everyone remembers my complaints when I had to dispose of the remains of one that came down on its own... or maybe with some help from a bouganvillia) and want to replace trees with trees.

We did go ahead and buy a small lime to replace the one on our patio that was murdered when our big eucalyptus dropped a limb and need to do some exploring to make choices about the rest. We are leaning towards a fig, avacado, apple (maybe a 3 in one) and peach/nectarine (maybe a 4 in one). We have concluded that we aren't the best farmers -- we tend to plant and then not follow through too well with our harvest and care -- but we are committed to doing better. We definitely need new, smallish trees, so dwarf variety fruits seem like an obvious choice.

After fruit shopping, we also went by our local flea market / monthly antique fair in downtown Pomona and I stumbled into a cache of old kitting needles and notions. I have to say while I didn't "need" any more straight needles, at 50cents a set, I came home with all the seller had. I think they'll serve a mostly decorative purpose, but I'm loving them.

We spent most of the rest of our day, hanging our in our little home. We enjoyed our recently recovered, new old rocking chair...

(S's Gran did a fabulous job recovering the seat... the cats like to sit both on it and under it) and I did manage to get in a little knitting on clapotis. Perhaps more knitting updates after more free time today.

Last, I'm pleased to report that I (just) met my mileage goal for this quarter, finishing my walk this morning with a total of 130.7 miles. Yeah!! I was worried I wouldn't quite make it with the time off during our trip to Maine and a bit of a disruption from my normal schedule during the trip to Oklahoma. A few extra miles this week helped me over the hump though. Now I just need to decide on the goal for my last 3 month, or maybe even a year long total.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Jumping off and on the needles

I have been working, really, working... including working on FiFi. Sometimes when you work it still doesn't feel like you have much to show for it.

Today, I finally feel like I have progress to show. Last night after hours of progress, I reached a try on stage.

(bad bathroom mirror self portrait... sorry).
Looking good, but not done... knit some more.

Around 10pm I reached the measurement I had calculated to be the final length for the bodice.
Isn't she pretty... all cast off?

Can we just keep looking at that photo? Maybe I could just frame her instead of wearing her?

Yep, another try on shows that I really still need a bit more length.

While I did reach the cropped length the pattern calls for I know I'll get much more wear out of this sweater if it's just a bit longer... I won't constantly be tugging it down. It will also make it much more of a work sweater. These denim pants are pretty high waisted so anything lower will still show a bit too much skin (and from the photo above you can see that I wouldn't want to torture anyone with that!).

The sweater itself is quite lovely and I do love the pattern. I just need to be a bit more patient, put in the extra time, and end up with a fabulous final project. So tonight, bodice back onto the needles.

I'm looking forward to the weekend... time to knit and spin.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Cosmo's moon

Was the view of the moon last night as amazing where you live as it was here?

My picture doesn't do it any justice at all.

Low on the horizon, HUGE, bright, with wispy clouds floating in front of it. It was definitely inspiring.

So inspiring in fact that it made me less crabby about having to run to the grocery store (the pic shows our local health food shop) to get eggs. The other positive side effect though, fresh made gluten free bread. Yep Gran, we went out and bought a bread maker when we got home.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Snow in September

I wasn't kidding yesterday when I said I had come back to winter.

Yes I know it's a terrible picture of the back of a warehouse, but look, up there, on top of Mount Baldy... it's snow! (just above and to the right of the street sign).

I didn't notice this until I was driving to work and had to pull over to take a picture (hence the terrible foreground). Amazing. It wasn't snow-weather down here in the Pomona Valley but it has stayed crisp and cool. The season has turned.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Welcome back to Cali

I love California... it is so good to be back home.

My trip to Oklahoma was very productive... much work was accomplished. I also had a nice visit with S's grandparents and friend that were left behind when we moved out here.

S flew out to Oklahoma on Thur but decided that his visit was too short so he decided to extend his stay past the original departure date (today) until Tues. So now I'm home and enjoying the company of my three other boys, who all seem happy to see me. I'm happy to see them too. =]

Coming home was kind of amazing... California entered Fall while I was gone. When I got here late this afternoon is was cool, breezy, and overcast. Definitely not summer weather. Guess I better get busy with FiFi; pretty soon it will be too cool to wear her.

Speaking of not finishing knitting... my productivity was limited to work and not the fiber realm this week. After my MacGyver on the way out, I barely cracked open the knitting bag. I did knit a bit on the plane today, but only until I realized that the woman next to me had started to sniff and sneeze... yep... apparently she's allergic to alpaca. (laugh). So my progress on clapotis was somewhat limited. You can at least now get a sense of what she's destined to be though.

(Sorry the picture isn't too great... I didn't want to wait til tomorrow to take another photo and post).

FiFi is still in the same place where last we met... probably 8 hours away from completion.

She does look lovely... I just need to get myself busy.

So a great week ... now more great weeks to come. I'm looking forward to fall.

p.s. yesterday was my blogiversary... hard to belive it's been a whole year!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hello Oklahoma

It is still amazing to me that I can get on a plane and 3 hours later be half way across the country! Despite my disbelief, it is true, and I am now in Oklahoma.

My flight yesterday on Express Jet was FABULOUS! I say this after a number of missed flights, cancelled flights, and delays on other airlines this summer. Express Jet had lots of people to check us in at the airport, were helpful, provided great service on the plane, left on time, actually arrived early, and provided the fastest luggage service I've seen in some time. I'll definitely be flying with these guys again!

Flying yesterday also gave me a chance to genuinely earn a Cast On Knitting Scouts badge... the MacGyver 1 to be specific.

The description of the MacGyver says "The recipient must demonstrate clever use of a non-knitting tool in a knitting-related scenario. For instance, recipient has used paper clips as stitch markers, or successfully whittled and then utilized bamboo skewers as dpns." I think this is too funny to read now because this is exactly what I did, use a paper clip as a stitch marker!

As you may remember, before I left CA I carefully planned out my knitting for the trip and even got clapotis all the way to the straight section. I then packed for my trip, leaving an appropriate knitting stash in my carry on for the trip. Because of the crazy flying guidelines I always err on the cautious size and so pack away my notions bag which includes my scrap yarn and sissors. You can see where this is going can't you. Row 6 (yes 6 mere rows of knitting after getting onto the plane) you need to place another stitch marker. The horrors! What was I to do? Abandon my knitting until I got to Oklahoma? Try to wing it without a marker (which in hindsight I probably could have managed but was beyond my capacity to consider at that moment)? Try to chew through some alpaca with my teeth to make a new marker? What did I have... a search through my check on bags uncovered the fabulous paperclip. Worked like a charm!

Catastrophe avoided, I continued on my happy way and made some nice progress. You can see below the final width my stole will be.

And my first drop stitch section.

Sigh. The relief of successful knitting.

Monday, September 17, 2007

New beginnings

The best news about my new Joy... it gains kitten approval.

These two have been very good. They are quite mezmerized by the movement but, so far, content to watch from a close distance.

After all the spinning excitement around here this weekend, I did decide to spend a bit of time knitting as well. FiFi is continuing to get some attention. I've finally re-knit everything that I frogged. Right now it's taking me about 15 minutes to do a row on the lower bodice (I've never claimed to be fast!) and I think I probably have 24 rows left, subject to a final try-on. At this rate I might be able to finish during my trip to Oklahoma this week.

Speaking of traveling and knowing I might be close to finishing FiFi, I felt the need to do some travel preparation yesterday. I've decided that my next project needs to be with the alpaca that I purchased in Maine this summer.

Pretty hmm? I've been scouting out patterns for awhile. I have 550 yards of the alpaca and its a light worsted weight (now all wound into balls in prep for travel). My idea was to knit a stole of some sort. After quite a bit of "research" on ravelry and elsewhere I thought I had found a winner ... Cozy from

Yesterday I swatched a bit and decided that this just doesn't suit the fiber very well. I tried 3 different needle sizes and none quite do it for me.

Try 2 ...

yep, Clapotis. I almost don't want to do this just because everyone else is doing it, but it does seem like a reasonable choice. I'll have to make a clapotis-ette as I don't have the quantity for a full size version. Rather than swatch I just cast on... after all what you see above is practically a swatch ... and so far so good.

Now I just have to overcome my own second guessing about exactly how big I can make it. If I assume that worsted and light worsted are the same, then I need to start the straight section now. If I think I could get a little more mileage out of the light worsted, I could do another repeat of increases before going on. I think I'm going to just go on and if nothing else I could make it longer with any extra yarn. After all, better to end up with a little too much rather than not enough right? Of course maybe I could order more... but it was expensive... see, that second guessing... it's a bear!

Saturday, September 15, 2007


This afternoon S and I took a trip into the valley to visit Stick & Stone Fiberarts, a lovely little LYS that specializes in spinning and weaving equipment and fiber.

Can you guess from the picture above who came home with me?

Margarete, the owner, and Elsa, were absolutely fabulous. Very helpful, there when I needed help, but not cloying. I was able to try out several wheels including the Sonata, which I also was seriously considering, and a Traveler. All in all, I'd guess that she had about 10 different wheels set up in the shop that you could try out.

After trying a few I decided to go with the Ashford Joy. I had a good time with this wheel in my spinning class and like the looks of it. The Sonata was definitely a close second, felt good to spin with as well, but I opted for the Joy given its slightly smaller size and cleaner lines.

S was a super trooper going with me and putting his "how does this work" mind to the wheels. It was also nice to heard him say he thought that the Joy was a good choice for the size and appearance factors... given it's a bit more expensive, having a second opinion on those things was very helpful.

After picking out the wheel, I looked around at her great selection of fibers and came home with some recommended easy starters: a natural color Bluefaced Leicester and a dark brown Corriedale. Very soft, beautiful colored fibers.

If you're considering a wheel, I'd strongly recommend Stick & Stone. The prices they had were comparable to anything I saw online, the service was fantastic, and I felt great about supporting a local business.

Since coming home I've played around some and gone into my stash to take a good look at what other, store bought, yarns look like. Wow... laceweight and sock yarn is thin! My singles right now will probably make a pretty good worsted weight in a 2 ply but I've got a ways to go in terms of developing consistency & yarn evenness.

I think I'm going to enjoy the practice!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Ready, set... go!

The Fall Knitty is up and it looks goooooooooooooood!

Many new temptations for me.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Knit, knit, sigh. Knit, knit.

I really like FiFi... really I do. Having to reknit the bodice after discovering my mistake is not bringing me much joy though.

I've gotten to that point where, unfortunately, I'm knitting to finish rather than knitting to enjoy knitting. I'm almost half way done with the lower bodice. I'm going to try and readjust my attitude and persevere.

Who knows, maybe in a few rows I'll be all excited again. If not, I could always cast on for something else [evil grin].

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

FOs during a FiFi break

After all that croaking, I decided I needed to take a short break from FiFi this weekend. In a week, I'm going to be taking a trip and meeting a new soul... seemed like a good time to put a baby gift onto the needles... the Baby Bolero from One Skein.

Amazingly, everything comes out just like the schematic.

From that mess... comes this.

With a little more finishing work... voila... a finished Bolero.

This was a great break project, simple, quick, soft, lovely final project. This was the first time I had tried the organic cotton from Lion Brand. I have to say that it feels gooooooood. Very soft and fluffy. Knits up quite nicely. A bit of shedding at the finishing stage (when I was seaming) but otherwise it seems great.

Baby Bolero from One Skein: 30 Quick Projects to Knit and Crochet by Leigh Radford
2 skeins of Lion Brand Nature's Choice Organic Cotton (100% organic cotton)
in Almond (Art 480, Color 098, Lot A6433)
US size 8 and 9 circulars
cast on September 7, 2007
finished September 11, 2007

Also now in the FO pile... S and I finished up the fence!

On Saturday we put up most of the boards and then S finished up the last of the work on Sunday morning before we went into Venice.

A little bit of trim work yesterday and today we have a great new fence. That S... the boy has got some skills!

Monday, September 10, 2007

You spin me right round baby

I had sooooooo much fun on Sunday! I went to a spinning wheel class at A Mano Yarn Center in Venice, taught by John Pitblado.

You may remember that last month I took the drop spindle class with John and found that lots of fun. I was very excited about trying a wheel and was not disappointed with the class.

The lovely ladies at A Mano let several of us borrow wheels, as did John, and the 6 of us in the class took a lovely adventure.

My first experimentation was on a Louet S10 (single treadle. irish tension), with which I had great fun. Here are my singles ready to be plyed.

Having had the drop spindle class I had a much better sense of what I was doing when drafting and what my final objective was, singles size speaking.

Here she is being wound into a ball for plying.

And post plying, John used my little project to demonstrate the use of a tiny, cute little niddy noddy.

The best part... look at that little tiny skein of yarn!

Here's a before and after pic to give you a sense of the colors. It is still a mystery to me to see how such a colorful blend of colors in the fiber can tone down so much in the final yarn. Amazing!

Again, John was a fabulous instructor! After class, I feel inspired to go out and buy a wheel. After using the Louet for most of the class, I did get to try out a double treadled Ashford Joy (scottish tension) which I also really liked quite a bit. It was also great to see 6 different wheels in the class and to get a sense of the different options and how they are similar and different.

Now if I can just find a way to talk myself into spending so much money on a new toy ... hmmm... what rationalization could I use for that?!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

We have internet!

Yeah!!! Seven service technicians later and just under two weeks without service, but we now have internet! Time to catch up!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

ribbit, ribbit, ribbit

That was me... the frogger... last night.

FiFi has now been readjusted (sleeves made into sleeves, body made into body) and a nice cable is running down the center of the front and back. Now I just have about 10 inches of bodice left to do! [insert maniacial laugh here]

On completed fronts, look at the lovely little finishing touch S put on the front gate... they are solar lights (one hangs on each side of the gate).

Too cute!

Day 14 without internet and full cable service. Time Warner stinks.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ohhhh myyyyy goooood

I just posted (I actually wrote the post yesterday and saved it to upload today now that I'm in the office with internet). After I uploaded it I, just for fun, decided to take a look at the post and a few previous ones.


I just looked back at an earlier post, and low and behold the cable is down the middle of the sweater. (There are also 7 cable rows across the center... I had noticed mine included only 5 when I saw the problem but thought this might be a difference due to sizing).

Now I'm looking back at the most recent picture again ... why does the neck line look so narrow?

Ohhhhh myyyyy goooood .... when I separated for the sleeves and body, I must have reversed the sections! That's why my middle cable suddenly disappeared... I wasn't just careless before when I tried it on ... I tried it on correctly at that point. Where I was stupid was apparently where I separated the parts. I made the sleeves (which should have 5 cables) the body (which should have 7 cables) and vice versa.


OK... I'm sort of stupid but at least I figured it out. I guess I will be frogging some more... four 8-row repeats plus about 4 set up rows. Well I guess reknitting 36 rows to get a good sweater is worth it. I should just be glad for this blog ... at least I discovered my mistake before the end.

Maybe I should go back and tell S we should take down the fence and replace the fence poles too hmm?

A revelation

Since our cable and internet service has been disrupted, S and I have been renting DVDs. Our most recent addiction… Big Love. I was skeptical about this series but have been enjoying the characters quite a bit.

It’s funny … in the last couple of episodes the characters have talked quite a bit about having revelations… I had a bit of a revelation myself this weekend about FiFi.

As you know, I’ve been knitting away on FiFi for some time now and am quite enjoying the process. Rowan Calmer, the yarn, is nice and I really like the pattern and how the final product is coming out.

Last week I separated the sleeves from the body and Thursday I finished the first 8-row repeat of the lower bodice. Being the good girl I am, I tried the sweater on again, just like I did after row 61.

This time though… HORROR!

OHHHH MYYYYY GOOOOOOD … I couldn’t believe it… my cable was not running straight down the middle column! I feel 90% certain that I followed the pattern to the letter, all my stitch counts were on target… but drats… look at that interrupted cable!

I was stunned… I didn’t even know how to put things into words. What do you do in a situation like this?! Fixing the mistake would mean ripping out 2/3rds of my work. I’d have to go back to round 22 to make things right… I was on 73. How bad was it? Could I just keep going?

After much tribulation, and the obvious trial, I decided that I couldn’t just keep going but I also couldn’t bring myself to frog back to row 22. I decided to rip back the 8 bodice rows and put a plain panel down the center of the sweater. It’s a plan that will work, but it’s not the pattern. Even though I committed to this, I ripped and I restarted, I had much self doubt. I kept thinking about it… should I rip back to 22?

Then on Friday I had my revelation.

Friday evening, S and I started to put up the first panels of the fence. After putting up about 10-15 boards, S got very upset … his plan wasn’t working and the board spacing wasn’t going to deliver the way he had planned. We used a combination of metal poles and constructed posts (metal beams surrounded by boards – like a box – S made these himself). S realized that he had mis-measured and there would be no way to completely cover the metal posts with panels. Now this wasn’t something I could obviously see (and in fact the only visible metal will be on the back side of the fence) … but he could and he was upset with himself.

We went inside to take a break and talk. I pointed out, at first somewhat flippantly, that there was a good parallel between his fence and my sweater … it was distressing that things didn’t work out the way that we planned but we both just had to move on and make the best of it. As I said it though, I realized I was asking him to do something that I wasn’t doing myself. I was still as disturbed as he was and I was days away from discovering my mistake. I thought about this and realized that while it wasn’t S’s plan, there was a way to adjust and the fence would look fabulous … someone like me who didn’t really know what the original vision was wouldn’t even be able to tell the plan hadn’t come off.

Revelation hmm… FIFI may not come off the way she was initially planned, but with my revision, no one who hasn’t seen the pattern will be able to tell. FIFI will turn out to be a lovely sweater with a plain column up the front …yes it won’t be a cable… but it’s not the end of the world.

I feel so much better now that I’ve been able to reorient my thoughts about this. Progress has resumed and I’m hopeful that it won’t be too much longer before I finish the bodice.



She may be only FIFI-esque, but she’ll be mine.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Some labor, others not so much

Wow… where to start… days since my last post… so much has happened!

Well let’s start by saying that we still have no internet… yep… 10 days since the tree incident and Time Warner still has not been able to get their act together to fix our cable and internet service. Time Warner apparently contracts out all of its service. Now I see this as a problem to start with (what a way to duck paying benefits to employees) but maybe I can live with that. But… the first technician who came out didn’t get the whole story about what was wrong (just a one line description saying our cable was out). He started inside the house… yep, the electrical fire was at the pole outside the house but this is where he had to start. After 45 minutes he decided we were right and the wire outside needed to be replaced but he couldn’t do that … another tech would have to come out later. OK… annoying, but OK.

We had another appointment for the next day… about 2 hours after our appointment time, the second tech came. Again, knew nothing about what had transpired before. Tech 2 did however drop a new line for us. I left for work hoping that I’d have internet when I returned. No such luck. Tech 3 then came the next day and replaced all the lines inside the house. Again no internet and no digital cable services. Tech 3 now shares with us though that what needs to happen is that an amplifier on the pole needs to be replaced. We have a morning appointment the next day according to the tech for this to occur.

The next morning, time passes… no tech. We call… “oh you have an appointment in September”! That was almost a week away. The nerve, they didn’t even call to tell us they rescheduled our appointment! After a bit of complaining, they agree to move our appointment up to Friday. Friday’s appointment time comes, and you guessed it, no tech. We call and they tell us that someone will be out between 3-5pm. We remind them that what needs to happen is the amp needs to be replaced… everything else inside and outside the house has already been replaced. Around noon, a tech comes… our appointment early perhaps? Maybe being assertive does pay off. But, the tech who comes… doesn’t know anything about what’s happened and doesn’t have an amp with him. He stays and tests the amplitude coming into the house though, looks around at what was done inside and out, and agrees that the amp needs to be replaced. He let’s us know that contractors can’t do this and Time Warner’s inside maintenance guys will have to come out to do this. Sigh… they should call us to let us know when they’ll do that but shouldn’t need us to be home for the appointment. Well we now have little hope that anything will happen… ever.

The story gets even more amazing though… at 3pm, a 5th tech shows up… he has a work order that says our cable is out!! We gave him the five minute overview and sent him on his way. Today… 10 days out… no service. Will it ever be fixed? I’m not holding my breath. We’re looking into alternatives.

Second major life event in the past several days, we’ve been making progress on our fence. We are now half done! Have I mentioned that it’s been 104-106 degrees F every day since we started working on the fence?!

Here’s an in progress shot… this is at about 8am in the morning when it’s only about 95 degrees (grin).

This is where I spent most of the last few days … I got to be the power tool gal.

Seriously … I did all the cutting for fence panels we put up in the last few days … very exciting.

Here’s the final shot of the side yard. Isn’t it beautiful! We started demolition this morning for the back fence.

I’ve never taken so many showers and gone through so many changes of clothes from working outside. Crazy stuff.

The fence is turning out great though … S did a great job planning it out. That, though, is related to another very interesting story which I will save for tomorrow.

Enjoy your Labor!