Friday, December 26, 2008

March of Progress

Yay! I asked Daniel if he would want a sweater, and he said yes. :) He also ended up picking out EZ's "Hand to Hand" sweater (Rav link). I also got him to pick out a pair of socks for me to make. Luckily, he liked my red STR "Rare Gems" skein that I'd picked up at OFFF this year. No need to go buy more yarn (yet)! :) He also picked out a pattern - actually, he liked two out of Interweave's "Favorite Socks" book, though just one is shown. I figured I should have some knitting for him lined up, since he will be leaving me much sooner than I care to admit. :( (For Japan...not because he is tired of me or anything. :) )

Here is a shot of my first pair of the ubiquitous "Monkey" socks, by Cookie A. (I just pre-ordered her book on Amazon, by the way). I am using STR Lightweight in "Fire on the Mountain". The chart is easy to read, everything is going well! :)

Next up is a picture of the "Dog's Paw shawl" I am knitting for my mom. I spun the yarn several months ago (and I probably will need to make more at some point). It is a 2 ply, drumcarded blend of merino, tussah silk, and our dog's down. The picture shows about 7 or so inches of knitting? It is a delightful pattern, from a back-issue of "Spin-Off" magazine, designed by my lovely online friend, Jeanine Bakridges (Spinning Spider Jenny). I need to continue the chart on my own - Spin-Off only provided so many pattern repeats. :)

Here is my progress so far on my "Tangerine Dashings", from Knitty. I am using Cascade 220, and making the "M/L" size here. They are fairly quick, I put them down last night because I was too tired to cable. ;)

Finally, progress is showing on my Wisteria sweater. After taking pictures, I am definitely seeing a change between skeins of yarn, but that's ok. I'll live with it. I am surprised, though, since they were the same dyelot, but I guess kettle-dyeing isn't exact! :) I just put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn on both sides, and have begun knitting below that. I hope I did the backwards-loop cast on for the underarm stitches correctly... I just used EZ's backwards loop M1 method. It looks huge to me, but probably because I've never knit anything that big before.

Merry Xmas!

Today is my parent's anniversary (Dec. 26). Happy Anniversary, Mom & Dad! I believe this is Year # 38!


I was supposed to fly back to Louisiana 6 days ago. The short version of the story is that my flight got cancelled... after we had been sitting on the plane for 4 hours, and had already been at the airport waiting through other delays. I had called Continental's customer service, and got a refund, though they wanted to place me on a flight that I was pretty sure would get cancelled as well (no de-icing companies or de-icing fluid to use on the planes, since Seattle just went through the Blizzard of '08). Anyway, my mom was pretty sad about it, and I was, too. The upside is that I got to spend Christmas with Daniel, which was even better since he actually has time off right now, and his brother, Joey, and SIL Dawn were out here visiting for a while! :)

Here are some pictures. This was taken Christmas Eve. Our friend Kris' birthday is on Dec. 24, so she usually goes out with Randy to celebrate. We gathered up Jeanelle, as well, and met at the Brooklyn steakhouse downtown for dinner and drinks.

Here is some evidence of the snowfall. Daniel and I made a snow-punk (with mohawk) and Snow Needle on the 20th, after I got home from 13 hours of trying to travel somewhere else. The Needle has started to tip over, since there was a brief rise in temperature that morning. (This is in Daniel's front yard. He saw about a foot of snow. His neighbor's snowman, beyond the fence, was sprayed blue. I hope they used food coloring and not Windex.)

Christmas day arrived to Daniel's lower back being sore, and my neck still hurting from his new foam mattress. We went to the only open grocery store near me - Safeway - before it closed down for the day, and bought plenty of food. I cleaned my fridge out before leaving on the 20th... Here he is, on my computer, wearing the sweater I bought him.

He was extremely generous with me this year, and it was pretty freakin' amazing! I love this guy (and not because he has a generous cash flow ;) ).

Gift 1: 8 GB iPhone. All I can say is "It is TEH AWESUM."

Gift #2: Somewhere between a 4 -6 quart size Mario Batali enamel-coated cast iron dutch oven, in a cheery butter-yellow. WOO! (I made Moroccan beef stew in it on Christmas day...very very tasty!)

Gift #3: Gold necklace with a diamond-encrusted cupcake charm. In a cloissone -style ceramic gift box. This was for our anniversary, and extremely beautiful & thoughtful of him. :) I love it. All of it. :) (I got him a pair of Oakley sunglasses for our anniversary. It is difficult to buy him "stuff" when he is leaving for Japan so soon; I don't want to burden him with extra things to make the Navy move and possibly break, etc...)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Current Knitting Progress

FO: Cashmere Socks
Yarn: Zen Yarn Garden cashmere, ~2 oz, 400 yd
Pattern: "Daydreamer", from ZYG's "Sumptuous Sock Yarn" club
Needles: US 1 (2.25 mm), 2 x 24" circular

FO: EZ's Snail Hat (from "The Opinionated Knitter")
Yarn: Rowan Big Wool
Needles: US #11, 16" circular (Knitpicks Options)
Notes: It's a little big, but it fits fine. If I made it again, I'd consider a smaller needle or less stitches... or both.

WIP: Wisteria sweater, from Twist Collective Autumn 2008
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted, in colorway "Cuarzo" (purchased from WEBS)
Needle: US 8 (I think)... 24 or 32" circular (Knitpicks Options)

Other notes:

- I am taking a risk and ordering a gluten-free pizza crust from ZAW pizza for delivery. Let's hope I don't die from the crust! (In case you don't know, I have not eaten any grains - rice, wheat, etc. - for several months (save for some very occasional oatmeal).

- It has been snowing in Seattle for the past couple of days (since about Tuesday / Wednesday). It did not snow for me today in Ballard, but the weather report anticipates additional snow on Saturday & Sunday. All of which is fine with me, but I would like a) sand on the sidewalks & SIDE ROADS, and b) my flight to leave Seatac on Sunday as scheduled (for Houston).

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sneaky Sunlight

It's currently 4:05 PM. I am looking outside my window, and I can see that the sun WANTS to shine it's countenance down upon us Seattleites, but the black-chalk clouds that are being bruskly moved along by the wind are dutifully prevent this.

The wind is blowing enough that I can see waves forming in the rain puddles that collect on the building roof below my window. It whistles ferociously through my balcony. I think the scaffolding outside is only causing the wind to sound more fierce, as it rushes past the metal piping and wooden gangplanks.

I had today off, so I headed over to Daniel's last night. I parked in a 30 minute spot near the ferry for 40 minutes, and prayed I didn't get a ticket for it. Luck was with me this morning.

I came home, and clucked around, tidying up my house, doing dishes, putting away dried laundry and generally making the place look and smell nicer. After that I showered, and was perusing some business hours online when my mom called me to inform that the Earth's north and south magnetic poles were going to rearrange themselves in 2012. I remember reading about this phenomenon in various physics classes and nerdy books I enjoy. It happens, on average, once every 26 000 years. She also wanted to say that several stories, each in their own essential dimension, were possibly unfolding, and that the shamans were being called to focus on a particularly positive outcome - that the Goddess and the Feminine would rule once more.

I would rather look at the picture of Sarah Palin that has the caption: "The Mayans were right. The world will end in 2012."

After my morning enlightenment session, I headed out in the wind and heavy (for Seattle) rain. It reminded me of the rainstorms when I first moved here, in January 2006. I remember wandering around Belltown and getting soaked, even to the backs of my jeans.

I drove down to Salumi Cured Meats, and bought several salamis (for various Christmas - and self - presents), then I went to Weaving Works.

Oh, Weaving Works.

I wandered happily in it's warm and friendly confines for a while. I consulted store copies of books I owned at home to look at yarn requirements. I picked up a copy of "Handknitting with Meg Swansen" and carried it around with me. I ended up picking up the following items:

- aforementioned book, which holds the secrets of the Spiral Yoke Pullover

- one skein of Rowan Big Wool, for an Elizabeth Zimmerman "Snail Hat" in a satisfyingly rich red

- one skein of Dale of Norway Baby Ull (fingering weight wool), in a great deep magenta for a pair of fingerless mitts for a friend living back East

- one skein of Cascade 220 Heather in an olivey tone, for a pair of Dashings from Knitty

- two skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas' "Melange", 100% luscious baby alpaca, in a beautiful robin's egg blue that basically matches my condo. I am thinking: Hat. Either make Porom from this, or perhaps the Argyle Lace Hat from "Boutique Knits". I think what happened was that I saw the model for Porom, and she looks like my sister (curly hair and all), and I think the slouchy hat would work for my sister's large mass of curls.


Today could have been worse. I could have spent my salami-and-yarn money on crack. :)


[By the way... it's now 4:30 PM, and the sky is inky-blue-black. An ominous weather sign if I ever saw one. Snow is actually predicted this weekend for the Seattle area & Kitsap peninsula].

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Media Restructuring

I am tempted to restructure my media usage.

I get some decent employee discounts, so I am seriously considering switching up my current media.

Currently, I pay $67 / mo for land-line telephone + DSL internet. I also pay $65 / mo for my Verizon cell phone.

I am thinking of switching to an iPhone. With my employee discount, it would come out to $75 / mo (plus taxes), and then I was thinking of getting Clearwire (which is a wireless internet service here) and I can get that for $28 / mo.

$132 / mo vs $103 / mo (probably more like $110 / mo).

The trick is to make sure I am out of any obligation to Qwest or Verizon.

Fitness: When Triceps Attack

My arms were pretty sore after Monday's CF. I think I ended up doing about 85 of everything, instead of the full 100 reps.

So what do we do on Tuesday? This is after the warmup:

10 rounds of:

- 10 straight leg deadlifts
- 10 reverse rows (you are leaned over in the straight leg deadlift position, and pull the barbell up to your ribs)
- 10 pushups

We had 20 min to do everything. I think I completed everything in 15 min, so that was good.

For the weight, I used women's bar + 10 kg (so 25 kg total - this is important because you need to keep the weight light enough for the reverse rows, which are the limiting factor here, not the deadlift). I used that weight for the first 10 sets, then I lowered the weight to the women's bar + 8 kg (23 kg).

Note: I was supposed to attend a GE Christmas party last night. After CF, I went and bought soup at the store, then went home. It hurt to wash the dishes! :)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Knitting Fiesta

It has been a knitting fiesta around here the last few days!

I am still plugging along on the cashmere sock. No pic of that because, well, it looks the same as the other sock. I should start carrying the other sock around so I know when the second one's leg matches the length of the first...

Here is a picture of my Wisteria sweater, coming along nicely. I came up with a brilliant plan that I am sure millions have thought of before. I am going to aim to knit three rounds a night on the sweater. I figure those tiny bits of time will add up, and soon the sweater will be pretty far along! I am loving the Malabrigo soft! I wonder if it pills? This picture shows the finished neck and beginning of the yoke pattern, where the cables trail off.

Next up is a project that I started, oh, either last Friday or Saturday. I didn't work on it on Sunday, and last night I got about 3" up the hat. It is Habitat, by Brooklyntweed. The cable pattern is, like Wisteria, involved but not difficult. You just have to pay attention (notice the multiple stitch markers, denoting each repeat). I am using my handspun Gotland for this, and hoping that it will show stitch definition sufficiently.

Next up is a silly knit I started today. I am using the same one row lace pattern as the last scarf, but this is a much bigger scarf. Last night, for some reason unknown to me, I decided it was a good idea to gather up all the leftover bits from spinning or knitting with my handspun, and tied them all into a big ball. I tried to make it go in a rainbow-type fashion, and this giant ball of yarn is what resulted (for reference, those are US 17 needles in the picture, and they are probably 12-15" long). I was originally thinking of making a perpetual crazy quilt-style blanket, but decided a scarf would be... giftable. :)

Finally, here is my first one-row lace scarf, done in handspun approx. worsted weight, two-ply yarn. I loved that the color changes pretty much made big horizontal swaths of color.

I am off to knit my three rows of Wisteria. And watch "Home Movies" (the cartoon) on DVD.

Fitness: EMOTM

What the hell is EMOTM, you may ask?

"Every Minute, On The Minute".

Oh yes.

Scott's 5-6 PM workout today?

Warmups included a good 15 pullups, running around the block, k/b swings (2-handed and 1-handed), "Around-the-World"s, which are basically you passing the kettlebell around your body as if it were a satellite, and some clean and presses with k/b's. I started with 2 x 12 kg kettlebells, until we got to the clean and press part, and I switched to 2 x 8 kg kettlebells.

Now for the EMOTM workout.

5 x clean & squat (and you clean every time you squat)
5 x burpees


We did it for 20 minutes. I was effing tired. The way I modified it was that I eventually went down to 4 reps of each, and then 3 reps for probably the last 8 minutes.

The idea behind EMOTM is that you should finish your reps with about 20-30 sec to spare, and to REST, so you are barely ready for the next set. If you get to the point where you only have 10 seconds left, and you aren't done, you probably should either reduce weights used, or reduce reps...

I was pretty proud - I used 2 x 8 kg kettlebells for this workout, which seem really puny, until I looked at some girls who were using the 10 lb weights. (Remember, 8 kg = 17.6 lb). Hey, I was there once, too (and I still am, for some exercises). There was one really in-shape girl who could do three dead-hang pullups in a row (NO rubberband). Holy S. And I think she used 15 lb barbells for the workout... so I don't feel too bad. Of course, I think she did the full 5 reps for all 20 minutes...

Dead-hang pullups and strict pushups are my new goals. Also, to climb the rope all the way up (I think they have 20 ft ceilings or so in the gym?)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Holiday Buzz Beginnings

I am starting to get in the holiday spirit...Trader Joe's was already playing contemporary holiday music when I went in yesterday.

I think (!) I am done with my holiday shopping. Except for tiny things. I got Daniel, my brother / SIL, sister / BIL... ok, I'm not done. But I know what I am getting for my mom's cousins, my dad, step-grandpa, and a few select friends. I even have a few boxes ready for faraway friends!

Last night, I hauled out the Christmas decorations (which consists of one medium sized moving box, and the tree itself packs into a remarkably small space). I think I am going to get a Rubbermaid plastic box to store away all the ornaments this year, and possibly upgrade the wrappings to bubble wrap? I managed to hang the Trader Joe's greenery on the front door (can't beat $6-7 for a spray of evergreens), and also put up the base for the mantel's white swag.

To attach things to walls, I have fallen in love with the 3-M temporarily-sticky hanging hooks (they have that glue-tab on the back that you pull down when you're done, and it all - magically - comes off the wall / paint / etc.).

I'll show pictures when I'm done.

Tomorrow night, I'm having a Holiday Party! I'll be making mulled wine and mulled wine cupcakes (with chestnut butter frosting!) to go with it. Gotta love Trader Joe's - I snapped up two bottles of Chuck's finest Merlot...for $6. (OK, so I also dropped $25 on 5 bottles of their 2008 Ale...but it is always very good, and is quite tasty if you leave it alone for a few months). They even had (wait for it) steamed and peeled chestnuts! Sweet Jeebus!


In knitting news:

I finished the scarf. Yesterday, I broke down and bought the pattern for Habitat, by BrooklynTweed. His patterns are awesome. I cast on for it last night, using my two-ply handspun Gotland. The yarn is kind of fuzzy, so I am praying it shows stitch definition... if not, this hat doesn't need to be supremely cabled, and I can just make a ribbed hat and buy some smooth (or spin some smoother) yarn for it.

Off I go!