Monday, December 15, 2008

Time to Give

Stephanie, the Yarn Harlot, has again started accumulating her tally of the dollars given to Doctors Without Borders, via the groups she's christened Knitters Without Borders (Tricoteuses Sans Frontières). Until December 5, when she posted about her 2008 campaign on her blog, the cumulative total was $420,000 (US?).

Today, after only 10 days, the total is $560,000. That's right, $140,000 in 10 days.

Give what you can. Donate what that yarn that you managed NOT to buy would have cost you. Donate what you would have spent for one more prezzie.

Here's the link to her FAQ about the plan. You can click on through to the Doctors Without Borders website from there (she has links for Canada, the US, and worldwide), or you can send a check. Either way, send an email to Stephanie at the address she's set up to capture the donations (don't send to the email addy in the FAQ page) -

As Stephanie has said in her speeches, knitters know how much one stitch at a time can do, when added to another stitch and another and.... We are also showing just how much we knitters can do $1 at a time.

If you prefer, give to Heifer International, which teaches people how to care for the animals that will give them a better diet and a better life - cows, pigs, SHEEP, rabbits, LLAMAs, geese, etc. You can donate enough for an entire animal or just a part. They've even got a larger gift they've labeled a "Knitting Basket" - 2 llamas & 2 sheep. A part of the Knitting Basket is $50.

Or give to Freedom from Hunger, a successful microfinance organization helping women to support their families.

You can check on charities at Charity Navigator, a site I found thanks to my friend who writes the Short Stuff blog. Heifer International gets 3 of 4 stars, Freedom from Hunger rates 4. Doctors Without Borders also rates 4 stars.

Give to one of these or to whatever charity you prefer to support. Just give what you can.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

'Scuse me while I ROFL

I love the celebrity Q&A in Parade Magazine every Sunday. Today one of the entries had me nearly breathless with laughing.

Someone asked what George Lazenby, the one-time-only James Bond (1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service) was doing these days. George is now 69, and hasn't worked in 6 or 7 years. But he still blames the decline in his career on his former agent, who told him, all those 40 years ago, that the James Bond franchise had run out of steam. Right.

A quick check of his filmography on IMDb, which started with his James Bond movie, shows that his career has been, um, checkered since he broke his James Bond contract just before the release of the film. There are a lot of Asian chop-socky and Central European foreign-language movie roles, one-time TV appearances, and quite a number of Emmanuelle TV spots. Emmanuelle? Are those on the Playboy Channel? (Snickering here.)

Now, this is strictly my opinion (shared, I understand, by thousands, and with better comments in this blogger's post I found by Googling ;D) that George was the absolute, completely WORST James Bond ever. The Tin Woodman was more animated and charming. I was so excited when I learned that my favorite Diana Rigg, the awesome and gorgeous Mrs. Peel from The Avengers, was going to be in the movie. But then she had to work with Lazenby; I wonder how disappointed she was.

The best James Bond? Of COURSE it was and always will be Sean Connery.

The new one, Daniel Craig? Ah, he reminds me a lot of the brush-cut Robert Shaw, who was one of The Big Bads in From Russia With Love. Which means he's down by 2 out of 3 at the start.

OK, soon I will return you to your regularly scheduled knitting news.....

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What a Week!

My jaw is finally beginning to relax. Yesterday I handed over all of my out-of-town gifts to the US mails. Four to friends in Vancouver, four to family across the US. Plus one to the UK, not a gift, but 2 skeins of a particular yarn and dyelot which will finish off a warm sweater, another happy thing due to Ravelry. I didn't feel particularly stressed, but the ache in my jaw every morning from teeth-clenching said otherwise.

Now I just have to organize and finish and wrap gifts to my LA friends and to my DH. He has hauled home all the holiday decor from the storage locker, and we can Deck the Halls this week. The outdoor lights and wreaths and greenery have been done since Thanksgiving weekend, being stored in the garage.

On Tuesday morning I learned that my beloved Sears microwave, circa 1984, is finally in its last days. That's right, 24 years of service with only one $80 repair! The fan didn't come on, but I didn't realize that meant the heating was very uneven, and when I reached in for my reheated morning oatmeal, I scalded 2 fingertips and left some skin from a third finger on the bowl. Swears, you bet!! A couple of layers of band-aids helped me get on with most of my life, and by Wednesday I could even type and knit, very carefully. But I couldn't write, and the idea of typing and printing mailing labels and holiday messages didn't enter my tiny mind. The fingertips are back to normal, but re-growing a full layer of skin will take a while. Side note: Your experience may vary, but IMO the genuine Band-Aids, the 'flexible fabric' ones, are the only way to go. Other brands, whether proprietary or major branded, just don't stick through a day.

I did finish knitting the Woven Bands Pullover for DH, and with the help of some little hair clips to hold the sides together he tried it on. I am very happy with the result, which fits him well. I have to sew the side and underarm seams, but he should be able to wear it next week. Size 42 took just a bit less than 10 skeins of Elann's Sierra Aran, which is 80% wool, 20% alpaca, in the Fiddlehead Green color. Note that my row gauge was way off, and I finally just added rows (it's knitted from sleeve edge across to sleeve edge) to get to the length I wanted; as written, the sleeves are only 17.5in long, so they're 3/4 length or so. The 'Woven Bands" are done in linen stitch, running down each sleeve and around the open neckline. BTW, the next time you do a bit of linen stitch, check out the wrong side. I think it makes a pretty texture of its own, with definite diagonal lines, something that would work very well as trim for a stockinette project. Or even an entire scarf or hat, etc.

The week ended on a majorly fun note. P, one of my Friday Night Knitters group, set up a spa evening, with a masseur bringing his table and massage chair, and a hairdresser offering trims. Of course there was wine and egg nog and lots of holiday treats - any chocolate, you say?? Oh, yeah! K, a new group member, brought a dessert spread made with mascarpone cheese, candied nuts and Grand Marnier, among other goodies. Calorie count way up there but incredibly yummy!! Some non-knitting friends also came, and we ended the evening with a lavish roast-beef dinner. I rolled down the hill (she lives on the uphill side of town, I live on the flats) to Chez CBM, full of great food and friendship, relaxed from 30 minutes of chair massage, and with a much shorter hairdo.

I leave you with a picture of Midnight, in her current cave, which has a heat-reflecting kitty pad (I learned about it at Wendy Knits, something she got for the famous Lucy) and a little blankie folded in front to help keep out the drafts. It's been in the 40s and 50s at night around here, and a couple of mornings during the week it was cooler in the house than was strictly comfy. I'm taking advantage of the 'winter' coolth to wear some of my shawls, ;D

Monday, December 8, 2008

Zooming Right Along

I have progressed to the start of the 2nd sleeve of DH's sweater. In fact, I should finish it today, assuming the pasta sauce I'm planning to make doesn't take up too much time. I have about 14 inches to knit, over some 60 sts, mostly stockinette. I won't say easy, 'cause that might be hubris, lol.

I've also been knitting more of the Maine Morning Mitts, totalling 3.5 pairs so far. Yesterday I braved the crowds at the local Michaels, and by the grace of the knitting goddesses I found 3 single skeins of Patons SWS yarn in colors I can use for more mitts. Honestly, the yarn section, except for the basic and baby acrylic areas, looked as if a horde of locusts had chewed their way through, leaving empty shelves and disorder everywhere. My friend Fran tells me it was the same way last week. Guess they're not getting any new shipments in.

Photos will be available when the sweater and the mitts are done. In the meantime, here's Midnight, looking snug in the "Kitty Loaf" position, next to my knitting bag, with a bit of DH's lovely green sweater showing right above her head .

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Negative Progress

There's been a lot of muttering and sub-vocal swearing going on the last couple of days. No point in cussing out loud - it scares the cat. Sadly, DH's sweater has become a member of my too-large Benighted Large Project group.

I've written about the row gauge problem, and having to frog back to add rows between the sleeve and the collar dividing point. I got that fixed, got back to the collar dividing point, got the front side started and then joined yarn to start the back, so I could work front and back at the same time. Looked for more KP Options needle tips and hmm, US7s it said right there on my needle gauge. That sailed right past my sane-thinking ability, and I went on to knit nearly 5 more inches of both front and back. I was enjoying a great audiobook, J. A. Jance's Justice Denied, the latest in her J P Beaumont mysteries and the knitting was going really well. . Along about 11:30 the needle size thing floated back into mind.

O. M. G. !!!
I checked my notes. I was supposed to be knitting this on US9s. NINES!! not 7s.

At that point I went to bed.

I have now frogged all the way back to the middle of the sleeve, which seems to be the point at which the texture of the knitted fabric became a bit denser. I now have a *really* big ball of yarn, about 4 skeins worth. I went and found my beloved but recently neglected Crystal Palace bamboo circs, US9 clearly marked on them. T'heck (or wherever) with the possibilities of getting the wrong size points any more.

And I may need to dig out my night guard tonight. Right now there's a fair amount of tenseness in my jaw. DH will come home tonight and wonder where his sweater went. I hope I can keep from snarling at him too much. But he better not comment about 'getting a lot of knitting from the same yarn'.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Mitts and Sweater and Koigu, Oh My!

"Man, it Pours!"
Wednesday was another rain day, even heavier than Tuesday night. Here's a photo of the downpour in our back patio. We laid the bricks on a bed of sand, so there aren't any puddles. All the plants look so clean and fresh. With as little rain as we get, the leaves get really dirty in between feedings, which is about the only time we 'wash' the plants, lol!

Knitting and Knitting
I finished another pair of Maine Morning Mitts, this time in Paton's SWS Natural Pink. I used this colorway last year for a hat for our DGD, and if I don't finish another project for her, one that's been a UFO for too long, at least she'll have a warm gift under the tree.

I've started and made good progress on the pullover for DH. This is the Woven Bands Pullover from the Winter 2008 IWK that I posted about last time. DH wasn't too excited about the DB Merino Aran - he likes more subtle, interesting colors - so I'm using Elann's Sierra Aran in the Fiddlehead Green color. Sierra Aran comes in lovely heathery colors, and the 20% alpaca content makes it soft. I bought this last year to make the Arwen hoodie, but that can wait a while longer. It will look really good on DH. I have huge problems with my row gauge, though my stitch gauge is right, so I've been making lots of calculations to get the right size. I'm nearly to the end of the 4th skein, and it's going well. Of course, being mostly stockinette with linen stitch bands, it curls up a lot, so it's not showing up well in the photo. The color in this photo is washed out. Check the Elann link for the ferny green shade.

Koigu Attack!!
I hadn't planned any 'Black Friday' shopping, but my LYS emailed about a just-arrived (after a year's waiting!) shipment of Koigu. You never saw such fast toothbrushing, hair brushing, etc. I arrived while most of the shipment was still in its packages. ;D So I had my choice of 2 dozen or so colorways. Yeah, Koigu is pricy, a little more so here, but I had saved up my 'loyal customer' card, and this was the best use of my $30 discount I could have wanted. There's enough here for a couple of shawls and a scarf. Early Christmas? Oh, yeah.

OK, off to knit on DH's sweater, and listen to some more audiobooks. In the last 2 days I've gotten all the way through 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone' (HP #1) and J D Robb's novella 'Midnight in Death'. Not only has my library had a good selection of audiobooks lately, but both and have had sales and specials.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It Does Too Rain in California!

Well, sometimes. Last night it really rained, pouring down with some thunder-boomies as accents. We set a new record for the date, 0.95 inch of rain, beating the 0.71 record set in 1960. And it's crispy out, hitting our today's high of 60F.

Our soil Chez CBM is quite sandy, so we don't have many puddles, but oh, the trouble the people are having in the burned areas. At least we had enough rain to help avoid some of the worst oil-slicking on the roads. When we get just a little bit of rain, it 'floats' the oil that has built up on the roads over all our dry months, and it becomes a bit dangerous for braking. My friend Curlerchik, who lives near Toronto, recently commented about the problems people there have with the first snowfalls, seeming to have forgotten how to drive in snow and icy conditions. We have the same phenomenon here, but it's just rain.

In the Knittery News:

I finished the green cabled mitts, and another pair as well. This pair is done in Clara Parkes' Maine Morning Mitts pattern, which is a really fast knit. And she has written what may be the absolutely best directions for knitting a thumb gusset. The yarn is an oddball of Lang's Mille Colori blend of wool and acrylic, one of those 'same dyelot but only a cousin' sort of colorway. This yarn is a lovely singles, and the colors repeat but in no pattern I've been able to find. So the mitts are fraternal. I'm still having camera problems, so the colors aren't very true.

After much dithering and changes in yarn, color and pattern, I finally have a combination I like for the scarf I'm making for my internist. This is Elann's Baby Cashmere in the Tapestry Blue color, and the pattern is Brooke Nelson's Column of Leaves. This is an easy 8-pattern row knit, though I haven't yet, even after 10 repeats, gotten to the point I don't need to look at the chart. I know I bitched about being done with scarves, but this one really insisted on being knitted; it does remind me about why I was bored with scarves - 39 sts and turn. Over and over.

And after some not-too-subtle hints and downright questions, I'm starting a sweater for DH. The Winter 2008 Interweave Knits had this simple but attractive sweater pattern, Woven Bands Pullover, knitted from sleeve edge to sleeve edge, and I have some Debbie Bliss Merino Aran in color 506 (a sage-y green) I grabbed a while back from one of Little Knits' great sales. I'd love to knit this in a heathery yarn, like the Eco Wool used in the pattern, but hey - Shop the Stash, y'know. And hey! Here's a swatch!!

Tonight we start with the side dishes for our T-Day feast tomorrow. I wish all of you a happy and uneventful celebration.