Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Work In Progress Wednesday v.8

Okay, so this week I was determined to have my sweater all in one piece in time for this week's photo shoot.  Fail.  But I came really, really close.  I finished sleeve #2 (Yay!), and have everything ready to go to start joining pieces on Mr. Right's Avast.  But, I'm a bit stumped with the directions and haven't been able to meet my knitting group gurus for lunch this week.  So here they sit, those finished pieces, waiting for a light bulb moment...

The sleeve on the left has the fancy dancy knitted-in hem, while the sleeve on the right is still waiting to be hemmed the old fashioned way.  I like the look of the knitted-in one, and think (now that I've finally figured it out) that it will save me oodles of time on the hem, collar, and right and left front.  That's the theory, anyway.  So.  Next week.  One piece.  Promise!

In the mean time (I mean, I finished the sleeve on Monday...), I decided to give the Hedgerow Socks a time out for a while to think about the errors of their (my?) ways.  Instead, I cast on for this

A vest for me!  Turns out that I'm not so good at guessing how long a tail I need to do a long-tail cast on for 236 stitches.  Turns out that I've cast on for this vest a total of 4 (!) times.  That takes a while, and makes one crabby, and makes the yarn fuzz.  Or so I hear.  But now that we've actually cleared the hurdle of getting the right number of stitches on the needle, the ribbing is going along swimmingly.  3 more rows, and then we dig into the lace.  I'm looking forward to it. 

Here's a puzzle for you:  When you have a pattern where the bottom of the garment is lace, the top front is cabled, the top back is ribbed and the shawl collar is stockinette, how do you swatch for gauge?  Do you do a sort of a sampler with all the stitch patterns?  Do you do a separate swatch for each?  Inquiring minds, and all that...  Personally, I said a little prayer and dove in.  But I'm guessing that it might be handy knowledge for future projects.  What say ye, smarty-pants knitterly types?

After you've educated me, zip over to Tami's blog and check out the rest of the WIPW crew's progress this week -- there's lovely stuff to be seen!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Before and After

I spent lots of time last weekend scanning old pictures and trying to clean up the craft room.  While I was poking around up there, I found an old photo album I didn't recognize.  Turns out, it's my baby book.  Kind of fun to flip through.  It's just photos, really and a birth announcement.  But still, it's nice to have.  Mom didn't seem the baby book sort, so it was a happy surprise to find it.

While I was toodling down memory lane, I came across a picture that made me stop.  And pull it out.  And scan it.  Here it is...

That's me, passed out cold and with a rather unfortunate hairdo.  My nap buddy there is Mr. Bear, shiny new and all decked out with his fancy gold ribbon.  He's the reason I pulled this particular picture.  I don't remember him ever looking like that, or having a ribbon around his neck, for that matter...

In fact, here's how I've known Mr. Bear as long as I can remember:

This is Mr. Bear today.  You can't quite see it in the picture, but this is one flat bear.  I slept on top of him for at least 2 years, and squashed him like a pancake.  I'm guessing that's where he lost his mouth and nose, too.  He doesn't complain, though.  In fact, he'll still come out of retirement occasionally to play me a slightly slow-motion version of his favorite lullaby if I turn his music box crank. 

That's some serious teddy bear devotion.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Work in Progress Wednesday v.7

Work in Progress Wednesday is growing like a weed -- and there are SO many cool projects in the works.  Check out everyone else's handiwork here.

As for me, I've spent 2 weeks trying to learn that knitted hem business on Avast.  This sweater has sewn hems on both cuffs, around the waist and the collar.  Fairly tedious finishing work, that.  So, as I mentioned before, the ladies in my knitting group suggested knitting the hem in.  It sounded like a great idea, trading one fiddly row of knitting for eons of hem-sewing.  Unfortunately, I could've hemmed 6 wedding dresses in the time it took me to knit that row, and I don't sew.

I did finally learn it, and the last 10 or so stitches took about a minute.  I have hope for the future.  And I'll try and take pictures when I'm doing the waistband so you can all share in the head-scratching joy with me!

You can see the hem in the picture, and it's a bit wonky along the edge as I had to pin it to the carpet to keep it from curling. Anyway, after finishing the hem yesterday, I'm about 1/3 of the way through sleeve #2 and hoping to join sleeves and body this weekend.  Fingers crossed!

So, while things are cautiously optimistic on the Avast front, life in Hedgerow Socks Land has taken a bit of an ugly turn.  Behold, my sock...

I know, but it really had to be done.  I was 2/3 of the way down the leg of the sock and it was just... Well, it was wrong.  All kinds of wrong.  I don't know how I can knit a pair of lace socks without a single tink and then screw up a knit-purl combo, but something went amiss somewhere and this was the only solution. 

I thought about casting on again right away, but there's this yarn I have (Ravelry link-- it's the only picture I have and it's a bit too dark to be photographing for color at the minute), and this pattern that's been calling my name.  It keeps getting louder, but as far as Ravelry projects go, only one person has successfully knit it so far, with lots of frogging and swearing on the project pages of others.  Sigh.  I'm more of a chicken than a trailblazer when it comes to knitting patterns, but wouldn't it be lovely in that wine-colored yarn for Fall? 

You'll just have to tune in next week to see which pattern wins!  And to catch the 8th riveting installment of "Isn't That Stupid Green Stockinette Sweater Done Yet?" 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Family Ties

For this week's Sepia Saturday post, here's a picture of my paternal grandparents, Ruby and Lester, likely at their wedding, circa 1918...

Aren't they just the bee's knees?  As I began digging into my family history, it dawned on me that I didn't know who my grandfather was.  And by the time I was old enough to remember her, Grandma Ruby was a little old lady on her own.  No one ever mentioned a grandpa, and I didn't think to ask. 

My sister filled me in on his name recently, and someone on Ravelry suggested checking this amazing grave search site.  And there he was!  Turns out Lester passed away when my dad was about 8 months old, at the ripe old age of 29.  That explains the lack of family stories about him.

More digging around online, this time through old census papers.  Grandpa's parents, Robert and Rebecka were farmers in Kansas, and parents to 9 children.  They lived one plot of land up from Grandma's parents, Nathan and Myrtle, who had 8 kids of their own.  Here's a picture of Nathan and Myrtle, possibly taken around 1940...

Lester literally married the girl next door.  In later census reports, several of the grown up children on either side of the family are there, living with their own families and working alongside their parents.  How cool is that?  I can't help but think that the world might be a little better place if we did a better job of sticking together as families these days...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Work In Progress Wednesday v.6

Ah, sigh.  So many days (7), so little progress (very little).  Knitting time has been scarce lately, but here's what I've been up to:

This is Mr. Right's Avast (that's a ravelry link, pattern is here), as it stands currently.  That's the body up to the underarm plus one sleeve.  The fabulously shiny coral yarn you see peeking out is for the intarsia butterfly motif I'm planning on improvising on the chest of the sweater, right over his heart*.  Won't that be sweet?

I'm working on sleeve #2 at the moment.  Avast has hemmed sleeves and a hemmed ...umm... hem? around the bottom.  The lovely ladies in my knitting group have shown me a way to pick up the hem as I go and knit it in.  No sewing required.  It's super-duper slick, and if I can ever get the hang of it, I'll post a tutorial here.  In theory it will save me tons of time.  In practice, it's taken me 2 days to knit 4 stitches.  But I'm sure that's just the learning curve.  I hope.  Fingers crossed.  No progress on the socks to speak of this week, but Mr. Right's about to start a stretch of working insane hours through the weekend, so I expect to crank through the yarn for the next few days.

Now, you should go check out all of the cool stuff that's linked on Tamis Amis, the lovely host site for WIPW.  They all knit much faster than I do!

*Kidding.  I'm kidding.  Mr. Right is not so much the intarsia butterfly type.  Doesn't anyone else hold stitches on contrast-y waste yarn so they're easy to see?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Public Service Announcement

Your attention, please...
Fall has (un)officially arrived.  You may now commence ordering Pumpkin Spice lattes and steamed apple cider, wearing cardigans on chilly mornings and cooking things in your crockpot.  Yippee!!!!!!!!!!!!

That is all.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Day to Remember

A couple of weeks ago, someone who stumbled across this blog invited me to participate in a meme called Sepia Saturday.  The idea is to post vintage pictures.  As it happens, I have approximately eleventy billion vintage pictures.  And, since this is the first Saturday that I was able to participate, I sat down to pick through them and find a few to share.  I'm thinking that this being September 11 and all, it would be good to honor the folks in my family who've fought to protect their country.  Here they are...

This is my brother,  who served during the Vietnam war.  According to family legend, he was the only survivor from his squad.  I don't know if this is actually true, because as far as I know, he never spoke about his time there. 

This is my dad, who served as an aircraft mechanic during WWII.  He was fresh out of high school at the time.  I love how much alike they look in these photos, taken  at least 25 years apart.

And this is my grandpa (on Mom's side, no relation to the guys above).  He's the scrawny little guy on the front left.  As far as I can tell, he was a tank gunner during WWII -- probably because he fit.

Thankfully, all 3 of them made it home safely -- unlike many of their friends and fellow soldiers.  So today, just a moment of thanks for Dad, Grandpa and my brother, all of the soldiers who fought by their sides, those who came before them, and those who followed in their footsteps.  May their sacrifices never be in vain.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Family Mystery #4, updated again...

To recap, for those arriving later to the party:  In my parents' papers when they died was an envelope containing a handwritten letter.  The return address was from a DEA agent working in Bogota, Colombia.  The letter was nothing interesting, the continuation of a conversation about a piece of art.  Also inside was a photocopy of my grandparents' marriage certificate.  In Spanish. 

Fast forward a good long while, and the (now former) DEA agent turns out to be an incredibly gracious guy who's more than happy to answer my questions.  Turns out he didn't send the certificate, my mom must've stuck it in the envelope.  Also, they were married in Mexico, not Colombia.  Guess I should've wedged a bit of Spanish in with those 6 years of French.  Ah, well...

The questions that remained were these:  Why did my grandparents get married in Mexico? I suppose it's not too much of a stretch since they lived in Southern California... And, more strangely, how did my mom (the cute little girl torturing the cat, to your left) become pen pals with a DEA agent in South America while I was in college?

So back to the DEA agent I went.  Did I mention that this guy's incredibly gracious about being pestered regarding a letter he mailed in the 90s?  Anyway, he doesn't remember entirely, but thinks he posted an ad somewhere about vintage baseball posters that my mom or someone she knew answered and a correspondence was born.  This is weird on several levels.  I never knew mom to be a fan of baseball, or antique baseball posters.  Also, the letter thanks her for referring Agent Nice Guy to "Bill".  I don't know of anyone in my mom's acquaintance named Bill.  Normally, that wouldn't be a big deal, but with my mom, I began to wonder if he might've been an errant husband she picked up while my stepdad was at the grocery store (See Family Mystery #1 for an explanation that makes that last sentence seem less horrible...).  Agent Nice Guy promises to get in touch if he finds any more letters that might shed some light.  Here's hoping.

Really, the maddening thing is this:  The more I learn about my mother, the more I realize that I really didn't know her at all.  Frustrating.  Take this picture for example...  It's my mom at what I thought was her prom (the timing of the photo is about right), but coincidentally, it's also the year she got married for the first time at the ripe old age of 16.  Maybe it's a wedding picture?  I really dunno.  What do I really know?  As a toddler I got in trouble all the time for messing with that lamp.  Apparently, it was an antique.

The other thing I know (and am trying really, really hard to remember as I dig through all this craziness) is this:

That crazy lady, the one with the poor fashion sense, who married just about everybody, loved me like crazy.  She thought I was pretty much the best thing ever, and made sure I knew it.  That counts for a whole lot.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Work In Progress Wednesday v.5

How can it possibly be Wednesday again already?  Man, that was fast.  I'll encourage you now to go check out everyone else's progress on WIPW, since they're all posting beautiful projects this week.  As for me, I'm still plugging away on Avast...

And I gotta say, knitting stockinette sleeves for a boy with serious monkey arms is truly a labor of love.  I'm about 2/3 of the way through sleeve one, just finished the increases and nowhere to go but up from here.  While I'm knitting the sleeves-that-go-on-forever, I have to keep reminding myself how nice it is that he can reach things on the top shelf.  It helps.

I'm also not-really-knitting those Hedgerow Socks.  I'm a few repeats into the leg now and can't quite make sense of the pattern.  At the moment it looks like ribbing gone wrong. 

But I'll keep soldiering on for at least another inch or two and see if things begin to improve.  I am, however, really loving this Pagewood Farm Chugiak sock yarn.  It's soft and cuddly and knits up really nicely. 

Also, I just finally finished reading Mockingjay.  Normally, I'm a pretty fast reader, but I really didn't want this series to end.  Sigh.  I'd feel worse about not having made much knitting progress the last couple of weeks if the book wasn't so darn good, but it was a pretty spectacular grand finale. 

And that's it from me this week.  I'd love to say that I'm sure things will be more exciting next time, but we've still got a whole monkey-boy-length sleeve to go so I'm not holding my breath.  Definitely hoping, though!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Livin' the Rocky Mountain High Life

Back again after a lovely, relaxing 4-day weekend up in the mountains.  Some friends have just purchased a piece of property out in the boonies and we were invited to come camp on it with them.  It took us about 5 seconds to decide.  Their little corner is beyond gorgeous.  We arrived just after dark on Friday night, and were a tiny bit shocked when their camper turned off the road and into the trees...
But we followed along, just the same.  At the bottom of the hill, and through a whole lotta trees, we found a meadow across from a stream where we parked and set up camp for the night (we sleep in the back of the truck so there wasn't much setting up to do).  After a speedy dinner, we all knocked off for the night. 

In the morning, we woke up to frost on the ice chest (Yay for Fall!!), and this view ... with these amazing rocks:

So we climbed the rocks.  Turns out they're made of decomposing granite and sort of turn to gravel beneath your feet.  Bizarre. And a little bit unsettling. 

From there, we could see our campsite...

Also from there, we hiked over the hill a bit and found a mountain lion's den (!).  The mountain lion was thankfully not in residence at the moment, but her dinner was.  There was a mostly eaten deer carcass in one corner of the den.  Definitely not my thing, this circle of life business, but it's not often you get a chance to stand a few feet from a lion's den, so I sucked it up.  I'll spare you the pictures, though it was far enough along to be more science project-y than sad.

The gimpy dog came along on most of the hike.  She wasn't supposed to, given her cast and bum foot, but she's hard to resist when she's begging...

... which is most of the time.  After her little jaunt up the hill and a lengthy battle with a local squirrel (she thought she was hunting it, but by the time she realized it had left the trail, the squirrel was 20 feet up the nearest tree chucking pine cones at her), our brave little soldier was down for the count.  A pressure sore from her cast caused her to spend the last 2 days of her vacation like this...
Poor thing.  She still had an awfully good time, and we got her cast all fixed up today so she's good as new.

We spent lots of time building fires.  Here's Mr. Right demonstrating his manly fire-building skills.  He's really pretty good at it...

And, once there's a fire... there's really nothing left to do but eat.  And eat.  And eat.  And then repeat...

That's our friend, M. rocking the potatoes and grilled corn.  We all like to cook, so the camping food is sometimes stupid complicated.  But yummy.  Really yummy.

And I spent some quality time finishing up my book (too much dirt to be knitting, unfortunately)...

(Pardon the make-up-less, non-showered look.  But really, nowhere to go but up from here.)  And taking in the scenery...

While Mr. Right helped our friends take down a dead tree that had slumped over.

And hassled the dog.  He hassles the dog a lot, but she secretly loves it.

We went riding 2 to-a-bike on our friends' dirt bikes all over creation, which was amazingly fun and a little scary, at least for those of us who had no handle bars at our disposal.  But it was a great way to see the area, and the local wild life including a whole lotta deer, a coyote and a red-tailed hawk.  No pictures here sadly, since I was busy hanging on for dear life. 

And yesterday, we ended the weekend with a toast to our good friends and their new little corner of the world.  It's a gorgeous spot, and I can't think of folks who are more deserving of a gorgeous spot of their own...
Except maybe Mr. Right and I, but that part is still down the road for us.  Cheers!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Work In Progress Wednesday v.4

Welcome back to Work In Progress Wednesday, where we all get to boast about our progress for the week and check up on everyone else's projects.  Gotta say, a few weeks in and I really look forward to seeing what everyone's been up to -- and I'm adding loads more projects to my Ravelry queue and favorites.

This week has been a busy one for me on lots of fronts.  How's my progress so far on the Avast sweater I'm knitting for Mr. Right?  See for yourself:

Ooh!  Look how far I've gotten in just 7 short days.  Remarkable!

And now, let's take a peek at how those Hedgerow Socks are coming along, shall we?  Here's where we are now:

Fabulous!  It's amazing how much one can accomplish when one puts one's mind to it, isn't it?  As you can see, I'm awfully proud of my progress.

Finally, let's have a look see at how that family photo archiving project is progressing.  That one's been percolating for quite a while now.  I'm sure it must be nearly complete...

Or, maybe I just chucked it all and stuck my nose into the last of the Hunger Games trilogy -- just released after a looooooong year of waiting. Actually, I scored an advance of book #2 at Book Expo last year so I had to wait even longer than everyone else to find out how it all turns out.

In all honesty, if you're not familiar with these books, go find them and read them.  Technically they're for kids, but they're incredibly compelling adventures.  Super fun.  And don't be put off by the jacket copy.  I never read stuff like this and I can't put them down (obviously). 

And really, it's not as bad as all that.  I have almost a whole sleeve of Avast finished.  Honest.  It just didn't seem very photo-worthy.  I promise to behave myself next week.  I get Mr. Right back tomorrow night, and we're heading off on a camping trip on Friday morning, so I expect it to be quiet around here for a few days.  See y'all on the flip side, and happy reading knitting!