27 January 2008

vacation crumbs

the candy bar's all gone, but there's still some crumbs left. small crumbs. honest.

our last full day in MA, we squeezed in a yarn store trip. finally. my idea of vacation is finding yarn shops and checking them out. unfortunately, that's not chuck's idea of vacation. after possibly some pouting on my part, we went to webs. chuck was suitably impressed by the size of the store - until a worker reminded us to "not forget the warehouse."

chuck's jaw might have dropped. he might have broken out into a sweat, thinking of how the checkbook would yell at us if he let me loose in a yarn warehouse. then again, maybe not, since he practically forced me to pick some yarn before leaving the store. seriously, he gets this "you will buy something for yourself while we are here" glare in his eye. he spoils me rotten.
shibui yarnchucks grey yarn
we ended up with sock yarn for me (left), and some for chuck (right). they had all kinds of luscious yarns, but alas, i'm the kind of girl that forgets to bring all the details for the sweater(s) i want to make. and doesn't dare guess on the quantity, cuz i just know i'll run out. *sigh* we got some yarn for sara's dark mark scarf though,
cascade blackcascade green
that i'll be making her for christmas. after the fact, obviously. notice that i actually got the yarn specified in the pattern, please. aren't i a good girl?

since i finished up the christmas knitting, i've been swamped with ideas mulitplying faster than rabbits - and definitely faster then i can knit them. i don't really do new year's resolutions, since i make goals as i trash achieve them, but finishing up a bunch of projects around the same time made me kind of reflective.

i've really got the sweater bug. socks are good (portable, fast, mostly mindless and inexpensive) but i'm just itching to make sweaters. my normal knitting habit is to have a couple smaller projects, and one large (ie sweater-like) project going at the same time. in an attempt to quell the sweater bug yet not freak out the checkbook (it's kind of touchy this time of year), i came up with a plan. simple, brilliant, time tested. rather than splurging on 1-2 skeins (usually sock yarn) cuz i feel like i can afford it, save up for the sweater yarn. and knit from the sock yarn stash (since i won't be splurging on the sock yarn).

my stash is not very big at all - it covers maybe two bookshelves - but it's starting to bother me in the anal organizational sort of way. it just sits there. that we cannot have. some of it is sock yarn, which will obviously become socks, but there's a couple skeins of random yarn. i'm sure i had something in mind when i purchased it, but it's long gone now. so i've got to figure out some small projects to use them up. which is not the easiest thing in the world when all i hear is sweaters calling my name.

along those lines, temptations like ravelry and knitty have been luring me with loads of free patterns to neglect the knitting books that i actually have. in my ravelry library, where you can see what books you've used, i think i've only used 2 books that i own. gulp. why am i ignoring them? so i'd like to knit at least one thing from each book i own. to justify buying them and all.

that was as far as my reflections took me. simple plan: knit from stash, knit from books, only buy sweater yarn. it sounds good, don't you think? i hope it works.

in the meantime, i'm working on what's on the needles already. mostly. the priority list keeps playing musical chairs. the FFF shawl should have been done weeks ago, so that's at the top. i may have only half a skein left to knit. if it behaves itself. once that's done, i'll start sara's dark mark. last sunday i cast on a pair of socks,anastacia rightanastacia, in the lovely new yarn from webs. it looks a bit dark here, but that's what it looks like in real life too.

my plan is already set in motion, using a pattern booklet i bought last year (reynolds #82390), with some stash yarn (knitpicks telemark), and a 3mm needle (i figured with the rest of the details i might as well throw in the needle and look like i know what i'm talking about), i cast on for thissnowflake headband materialsnot the actual hat, since hats are too hot, but a headband, cuz my ears still freeze, using the main snowflake pattern from the brim. i figured it was just wide enough. and small enough to try out color stranding - and use up some of those random stash skeins. you know what? it's not so bad. i did knit a couple rows before remembering i could use one color per hand. duh. when i sneak in a row or two, i even like it. who knew?

and the project left without a seat is: chuck's sweater. all i need to do is make some sleeves, but this FFF(ing) shawl past its deadline is pushing it out of the lineup. not to mention the other projects pushed on the backburner for When I Have More Time To Think About Them - and really, when will that be? they're part of the plan too, finish finish finish. so they won't be hanging around, clogging up my sidebar, and besides, i get more knitwar points if i finish them too.

that wasn't too bad for finishing up the last morsels from vacation, now was it?

except for two, itty bitty more things.

i had brought a couple recipes with me to my mom's, just in case i was asked to cook. and i really noticed for the first time that some foods chuck and i eat regularly, my family had never eaten. like jambalya (which adam made very well) and anything curry.

i had a leftover food dream from my mission in sweden that i finally fulfilled - banana curry pizza. sounds really gross, but it's sooooo good. mostly going off memory, i took a basic curry sauce recipe, threw in mushrooms, chicken, and banana and put it on a pizza crust. there was only one hitch: i forgot i was using my mother's measuring cups, which are english. while the recipe was metric. oops. no wonder the sauce was more watery than normal. but still good. my mom even liked it.

and, last of all, next time i buy a house, i'm buying one with stairs. my mom had us in the attic room, so we were up and down 2 flights of stairs all day. oj. my thighs may have been feeling it for the first couple days.

21 January 2008

quick n dirty

over two weeks have gone by since we got back from MA, and you'd think all those vacation knitting photos would be up and blogged already. but no. i've been working at NLUR (an archaeology company) since i got back, doing (horribly boring) office organization tasks, and something about an actual 8 hour job is throwing off my blogging mojo. the first week we were back was really busy somehow, and at the end of it i finally put away my clothes that i had unpacked but left on the piano bench. this last week i finally sorted through all the mail and accumulated trip junk and cleaned my kitchen counter off.

with that mess at home, i suppose it's no great surprise that the blog is a bit behind too. if i had nothing to say, that wouldn't be a problem. but of course, the whole catch-22 thing is that when things are happening, they take up the time you would have blogged about them. and when nothing's happening, you have plenty of time, but not so much to say.

so i figured the only way i could finally get through this was to throw pictures and thoughts at you quick and dirty, like, just to get them out of my head (and shorten my drafts list). not that i'm particularly good at quick and dirty, but i'll do my best. it may still be a mother of a post, just so you're forewarned.

while i was home, i got some pics of those handknits i gave away (to post on ravelry, of course). some of those are unreachable (some wristwarmers, hats, the first pair of socks i knitted, potholders), given to people i'm not in touch with anymore. but i tried to get at least one picture of each item. some of them aren't very good pictures, and i meant to get re-takes and close-ups of a couple. of course i forgot. at least i've got the one!

my mom had a few potholders (all crocheted). the first two used up random swedish cotton,
green & white diamond potholderswedish checkered
and then i had to make up for the randomness with a proper set. proper seta couple of scarves. the first is the obligatory learning to knit scarf. i actually wanted it at the time, but of course never wore it - i'm just not a scarf gal, so i gave it to my sister, who is. the second one's hers, using the saxon braid from a barbara walker treasury, in some wool-acrylic blend. it's from back in the day when i thought ribbing was queen and hadn't met seed stitch yet, so the edges roll a bit.
striped scarfsaxon braid
speaking of rolling edges, here's a shawl i made for my mom. threw together a bunch of stitch patterns and didn't swatch them together before starting. after a few rows i realized it would flow better if i changed a few details (like the ribbing on the edges, the switch from purl to stockinette background) but i was too lazy to rip it out. my mom still wears it, and that speck to the right is this awesome celtic brooch i got to go with it. alas, the close up of it is one of the pictures never taken, along with a non-blurry close-up of the braid.diamond shawland, let's see, a couple hats. the first (mine) is crocheted and very warm, although i should have made the ties longer and still think about it but never do. the second is sara's (modelled much more amusingly by my mother) in some weird sparkly yarn she picked up. it's a bit heavy so she doesn't wear the hat much.
earflap hat
and plain socks for my mom
mom's ribbed sockslast, but not least, is the first sweater i knitted. (another one i should have got a better shot of) the sleeves were even, the front and back matched up - i may have been a little paranoid about that with all the horror stories of ill-fitting hand knit sweaters. the seams i crocheted together cuz the mattress stitch looked way too intimidating, and they came out lovely. i was quite proud of it.except for one thing (you knew there had to be something, right?). the ease. i made it to fit, and it did, except it should have been a loose fit. so for the style, it doesn't look quite right. i had given it to sara, cuz style-wise it fit her better. but she likes a closer fit, so i took it back. good thing too, cuz where ever she had it, the moths found it. now i can protect it and look at it from time to time and feel like i can knit well.

whew. now that we got the ghosts of knitting past exorcised, we can move on to the present. ish.

for the whole first week in MA, knitting time was lost in the shuffle. after that i made an effort to get in at least a half hour a day, and that really took effort. the hederas i had expected to finish fairly quickly, but that sure didn't happen. i took a shot of chuck's sweater, with 9 of 11 pattern repeats done on the back. irish moss backsince arkansas, the end has been so close i could almost (literally) touch it. but it was at the horror movie stage, where you knit and knit and knit without gaining an inch. finally on sunday the 13th i broke out of it, finished, and put the stitches on hold.

new year's day, chuck and i went to lucy's, to paw through her stash and pick out my prize. which she very kindly offered to spin and ship later, if a fiber rather than a yarn jumped out at me. she had so many different rovings and yarns, it was almost hard to pick. but as soon as i saw this, i wanted it.
lucy's handspunooooooooooo. as far as colors go, i tend towards dark colors. in my family, any color is good as long as it's black. maroon, forest greens, royal purple, and charcoal grey are my favs, with a horrible weakness for sky blue. lately a deep, mellow yellow has been creeping up on me (which i blame solely on sweden - their flag and tendency to have blue/yellow combos). this fiber just grabbed me with the deep blue and lighter sky blue highlights. i think it was goat angora, so silky soft. lucy spun up a little baby hank for me then and there (with a drop spindle - oh so tempting to try! but i resisted) and that's what you see.

the question that rolls around my head now is, what pattern to show it off in. . . . ironically most of my first projects i designed myself, with the help of a stitch dictionary, figuring out the math and what not. but now most of my projects are from patterns. there's just so so many cool patterns out there, and somehow it's like reading a library book versus one i own. mine are going to be here forever (or at least as long as i am) so there's no press to read them, but the library books have to go back, so they always jump to the front of the line. i've looked through my ravelry queue, but nothing seems special enough for this yarn-to-be. luckily i've got time to think on it.

our visit with lucy was actually one of the highlights of our trip. maybe just cuz it was towards the end, and the never-ending bustle of my mom's house was starting to wear, but we stayed a good 2 hours, enjoying the peace. lucy's 2 children were all but invisible (thanks in part to her husband, but still) we definitely hadn't planned on staying so long, but we really appreciated the peacefulness. more than just the quiet, we felt our souls relax. thank you lucy!

the FFF shawl has been misbehaving itself (increasing my desire to call it the F-ing shawl, but i digress), misbehaving horribly. according to my schedule, it ought to have been done by the end of christmas vacation. ought. but i ran out of yarn on the flights to MA. the 2 original skeins ought to have been enough for the summer shawlette i originally planned to make, and i was just hoping beyond hope that they would be enough for the feather and fan shawl too. i knit furiously the week before leaving, hoping to determine if i needed more, and i had this sinking sort of feeling that i ought to buy another skein, Just To Be Safe. but that week was busy too, and on the way to the airport, i sunk a little more, realizing i hadn't bought more yarn. gulp.

so of course i ran out, meaning i had to carry a project i couldn't work on for 2 1/2 weeks. *sigh* once i was back, i got yarn, hoping for the same dye lot (it's a small store, i didn't think it was an impossible hope). apparently hope and the FFF shawl do not go together. i got a different dye lot, which i can't tell apart form the original. shrug. i won't turn my nose up at a bit of luck.

especially since, with this pattern, i'm needing lots of it. lace has not been a problem for me. keeping track of the pattern reps and increases and whatnot has been a piece o' cake. until this shawl. i don't know how many times i've ripped back rows because i got off somwhere. the feather and fan increases by one stitch in each pattern row, so it's never the same twice. after joining the new skein, i discovered the count was off and ignored it for a good week. take that. seeing as it's so far off my internal You Should Be Done By Now scale, i picked it up again. and ripped back about half of it. to pattern repeat 5. *sigh* i'm back up to 9 again, and so far it seems to be behaving much better. i can almost join that last skein again.

there was a question about how our luggage fared. we wondered that too, all day saturday as we magically went from one flight to another.

we did ask the seattle supervisor, who didn't know how to check, if our luggage made it home, but didn't have time to ask anyone else until we got to fairbanks. where we discovered our bags were only checked through seattle (way to go american airlines. again.) so i guess we could have got a change of clothes, if we had only known. luckily our bags got on the next flight to fairbanks and we had them sunday night. my books didn't fare quite as well as they normally do, but everything was there and not broken.

in our first busy week back home, we babysat seth who's walking as long as he doesn't want to get somewhere in a hurry. then he just says screw it, and crawls.

and the knitting group got together. 2 new people showed up - and none of the others. one was a new learner, and the other was looking for inspiration. hehehe. i introduced her to ravelry. she won't ever lack for inspiration again.

15 January 2008


the other day i walked out of work, i'm not sure what the temperature was - around -20 F or so, and those tiny bits of fluff that passes for snow here were dancing around. i though, cool it's snowing! until i got to the parking lot, looked up and saw a clear sky. totally clear. and realized it was exhaust snow. ew.

yesterday the temp in fairbanks was -39 F (-39 C). at my mom's house it was +31 F (-1 C) and snowing (real snow, not exhaust snow). that's a 60 degree difference, people. why did we come back? today the we went soaring up to -10 F this morning and are sitting at +1 as i write - with real snow. up 40 degrees like it was nothing. imagine if that was from 40F to 80F.

-20 and below chuck calls "booger freezing weather." cuz you go outside and with your first breath, the whole inside of your nose freeezes up and you can practically feel each nose hair. it's kind of weird. past 20 below, you can't really feel the difference, except in how much faster you lose feeling in your extremities. like 10 seconds compared to 30.

other weird things happen below -30. like the tires in your car actually freeze a little flat when you park, and thump like you're running over hitmen when you start driving again. and the shocks freeze up, so you get a pretty good idea what a horse and buggy felt like. and, at least in the archaeology office, static electricity starts jumping out at you when you least expect it. i walked through a metal doorway and got zapped. a couple times today i shocked my mouse and it stopped working for a few seconds.

one thing i realized (besides that i actually had to wear my coat) was that i'm needing a good pair of gloves. and leg warmers or at least knee socks wouldn't hurt either. so i've been thinking . . . .do i have anything in my stash that'll fit the bill?

14 January 2008

the great adventure of 2008

it all started at 4.15 am, friday jan 4. we woke up after 4 hours of sleep and went to the airport. at the gate, they said our flight was delayed because "the pilot couldn't make it on time." i guess his alarm clock was broken. so we got transferred to another flight through dallas - and we got first class! whoo-hoo! (actually we used our miles for first class tickets anyway cuz all the coach seats were gone, but the hartford-chicago leg didn't have first class available. we were just glad to get it on that leg).

the first thing anyone worries about with flight changes is luggage, but we saw it go on our plane. so everything was cool. until the dallas flight was delayed an hour to fix the air conditioning. in january. i mean, at least call it the heat. we landed at the same time our connecting flight left (because whoever re-routed us didn't leave more than an hour between flights. duh. i book my own flights and know to leave more time than that.)

that's where the trip started to go wrong. the flights to seattle from dallas were overbooked (plus they cancelled a flight, which helped loads) but we got routed through orange county, CA and ended up in seattle at the time we should have been getting our luggage in fairbanks. trying to get seats from seattle to fairbanks was a nightmare. all of a sudden, fairbanks was a happening place that everyone wanted to get to. all the flights to anchorage and fairbanks were overbooked, with standbys.

from dallas on, we tried in every airport to get seats home. our tickets were through alaska air, but the chicago-hartford leg was through american air. they got us routed through to seattle, but they don't fly to alaska. we ping-ponged back and forth between the airlines a bit, most notably in orange county where we discovered american air was responsible to get us home - or take care of us in the mean time. gina, at alaskan air, let us know that as she very cheerfully did absolutely nothing for us. all the other people we talked to spent a good amount of time clicking through options on the computer for us. but in the long run, they didn't get us any farther than seattle.

where we were very tired and getting frustrated. to go from first class to stranded was not very fun. re-telling our story to every ticket agent we talked to was getting old too. the last alaska air person we talked to was very sympathetic (and gave us meal vouchers!) but said we couldn't fly standby that night. apparently, if you want to fly standby today, you have to be booked on a flight for today. and in dallas, somehow chuck's reservation to fairbanks was cancelled, and i had 2. hmmm..........so i could have gone standby, but not chuck. (since the flight was overbooked, they couldn't just tranfer chuck's reservation back. although why they couldn't have given him my extra one we still haven't figured out yet).

yeah. it was a mess. we went out to talk to someone at the american air desk, and he did the 15-20 minute look through any possible reservations. the earliest one was in a week. a whole 7 days before there was a flight with space on it. while we had work to get back to, and no clothes. all anyone could do was shake their head and say sorry.

by that point, we were dumbfounded. american air did give us a hotel room for the night, and meal vouchers. chuck was half-seriously suggesting we buy a truck and drive home.

a night's sleep helped take the edge off our desperation. luckily for me, i had (finally) finished the second hedera in orange county.so i at least had clean socks.

after (a free) breakfast at the hotel, we walked over to the airport (does that mean i can say i've been to seattle? airports don't count to me, but this was outside) and started story time again. the american airlines desk couldn't do much, except book us tickets for thursday (we gained a whole day there!) and send us to alaska air to get on standby. we talked to a supervisor, who got us on standby (apparently that same day standby thing was bunk. arg.) the standby list was huge for all the flights, but at least we were on.

a flight to anchorage was boarding so the supervisor walked us over to cut through the lines (though it was early enough there weren't any). that fast track landed us in the special security line, with the pat down and looking through our carry ons. i showed my socks off to the security chick, who said her daughter knits too. cool.

as we got to the gate, they had finished boarding and were starting to work on the standby list. a woman there said she'd been waiting three days for an anchorage flight. *shudder* we had visions of living in the airport, languishing in standby until thursday. the woman working the desk was obviously stressed - it might have been the small standby crowd hanging on her every word, waiting for their name to fall from her lips. boarding finished, and she sent the crowd on its way to the next gate. chuck was antsy antsy while we were waiting, wanting to go ask the lady where we were on the list, but i convinced him to wait till she was done.

the crowd cleared, we went up, and before we said a word, she asked, are you on standby? then she asked for both our last names, and said follow me. we rushed behind her to the door and were on the plane - in first class no less. it happened so fast i didn't even see her name. but you, short hispanic lady with glasses working that 11.40 flight from seattle to anchorage, you were a miracle. thank you thank you thank you!

in anchorage, they had to get our flight coupons - we hadn't even had time to hand those over before we were on that flight. alaska air had us booked on a fairbanks flight leaving within a half hour, and we were home just 24 hours late - not bad compared to the week it could have been!

we ended up not even using any of those meal vouchers. home never looked so good.

one thing i decided - i am so buying one of those silly little carry on suitcases. for a change of clothes, just in case. cuz you never know when adventure might strike.

01 January 2008

pure bliss

there's so many good things about going back east.

almost always the very first one i think of is this

my car. in alaska, i drive a jeep. i'm happy with it, it does what it should and is good for camping trips too. but it's not "my car." just driving it makes me smile. a 74 pontiac catalina, it's got rear wheel drive, super light steering, class and a V8 engine. vroom vroom. one of these days we'll drive it up to alaska and keep me smiling year round.

then there's real grinders. not the subway kind you could make at home if you weren't too lazy to, but real 12 (or 16) inch ones with choices like eggplant parmesan, italian sausage, meatball. . . .mmmm. we had some but they disappeared way too fast to take pics.

along with the real italian food iscannoliscannolis. adam got some for new year's. i'm surprised any lasted till today.

although i don't spend as much time with it as i'd like, i'm always glad to see my piano again.i don't play as well as i used to (since i play much less often), but pulling music from the keys wraps a spell around me. like i'm in a world of my own where things become crystal clear. sometimes when no one else is home, i play and listen to the music and the silence, and feel as if i were praying. and hearing the answers better.

last, but definitely not least, is thissnow from ma's porchreal snow. the kind you scoop up and it's already a snowball in your hands. snow that accumulates 3 inches in a couple hours overnight, not over 3 days. i love it. there should be more of it.