Saturday, March 31, 2007

All Fixed Up Again

Hi! Welcome back to my blog!

It's been a terrible 3 weeks; about 500 hours ago, while taking the first steps to set up the new Blogger/Picasa feature, I accidentally deleted CatBookMom's Yarns and went slightly nuts. After umpty-'leven pleading emails to the Blogger Gods, they restored my blog Tuesday afternoon. In the same 'Murphy's Law Corollary' way that waiters finally deliver dinner the moment you go to the bathroom, I had spent lots of Sunday and Monday creating a new blog. So I spent Wednesday deleting and creating and creating and deleting email addys and links to blogs. The nasty culprit that was my email address but misspelled and which 'caused' all the problems is now defunct.

I have a new email address that will get comments from all my wonderful readers. If everything works right, you should be able to email me directly from the link on the right, above Midnight's cute picture.

As soon as I figure out how to do it, there will be buttons and all those other new-fangled doodads that this old-fashioned blog should have. Since I had all sorts of pictures and knittery news included in them, I've copied my two posts from the 'new' blog over to here; they're just below, marked 'Redux'.

There hasn't been much in the way of knitting since Wednesday. Knitdevil Madge has bravely asked me to teach her how to knit socks. We started with worsted yarn on size 4 needles, and in kidlet size, so that we can work through the process quickly. We had a lot of fun Tuesday, and, having done hats on dpns, she immediately 'got' the fiddly cast-on for top-down socks. On Monday we're going to move along to heels, which IMO are the tough part of sock knitting.

Thursday I spent some hours at the hospital with a friend from my seniors' charity knitting group. She's had surgery for colon cancer, but there were some complications, so she will need chemo. Thursday she had a shunt?/ Stent?/ whatever put in her upper chest for the chemo, and as usual she had to be there hours before the surgery. Her niece couldn't get there till after the procedure, so I sat and knitted and tried to help the time pass.

Yesterday I had my usual Friday fun, with both my seniors' charity knitting group and the SnB-with-wine at my LYS. And it was my mother's birthday. Last year I went all out with little bits of decorations and a cake for all the residents at the nursing home, but Mom wasn't really comfortable with all that. So this year just the two of us celebrated, with a little balloon, a little bunny to hold it, and chocolate ice cream from Baskin-Robbins. Yum! Mom managed quite a bit before she got tired.

And I hope none of you worried. Yesterday there was indeed a fast-moving and very smoky fire in the hills just south of Burbank. There's a short-stay apartment complex between Burbank and Hollywood, near Griffith Park and the Hollywood sign; business people and actors, including famous ones, often stay there. A couple of boys staying at the complex set off some (illegal) fireworks and set the brush on fire. We've had less than 3 inches of rain this year, a new low, and the brush is perfect tinder for fire. No one was hurt, but there was a LOT of smoke. About 160 acres burned, but the fire didn't get near the Hollywood sign or Griffith Observatory, which is the domed structure on the right of the picture. The seniors' center is closer to the area than our house, and when we all came out at 3pm there was ash on the cars and a nasty smoky smell. It was really tough for people with respiratory problems.

And finally for a bit of eye candy. Outside the window next to my computer is an arbor, which is steadily becoming covered by a lovely purple wisteria vine. DH took these pictures on Monday, before the flower panicles were beaten up by 35mph winds. If the winds had been as strong yesterday as they were on Tuesday, the fire would have been a real danger to the Oakwood apartments and the Observatory.

Coming Back, but Slowly - Part Two Redux

Further on today's story:

I've been knitting and knitting, in between marathon sessions of woefully checking my email every hour and some necessary hermiting with books. I think I've finished at least 4, Nora Roberts' Carolina Moon and Northern Lights, Jeffrey Deaver's The Twelfth Card and Perri O'Shawnessy's Motion to Suppress; there may have been one or two others. I read pretty fast.

Now, you all will remember that I am really
bad at getting A Round Tuit when it comes to weaving in ends and seaming. Though I do feel pretty darned good about the mattress stitch I did in garter stitch the other day. And I love 3-needle bind-offs, enough to frog some rows to avoid mattress stitching instead.

That said, here are some *nearly* finished objects. I don't remember if one or two of these were previously posted, so bear with me. Here we have a charity baby cardi. This is made from Red Heart's Fiesta and trimmed with Encore in a lovely deep bluey-green. There will be another cuff in Encore, and I think I'll run a row of single crochet around the fronts and neckline in the same solid blue. The pattern is from Lion Brand and is designed to be done in garter stitch, all in one piece beginning at the back hem. I decided to pick up and knit the cuffs afterward. The pattern calls for about 400 yards of DK or worsted, and the singleton skein of Fiesta had only 300, so I devised the accents in the Encore solid.

This i
s a beginning of the same baby cardi, done this time in James Brett's Marble acrylic yarn, color Fern (I think). Just to be me, I'm doing this primarily in stockinette with garter stitch trim at the hemline and shoulders, with the cuffs again knitted on at the end. I bought this yarn a while back from Stitches from the Heart's LYS in Santa Monica, and I didn't like it at first, but I like the texture in stockinette and the color changes are terrific.

I've 'nearly' finished my Elizabeth Zimmerman Ribwarmer vest. This is Cascade's Cloud 9
50%wool/50%angora yarn. BTW, WEBS has this on closeout - it's a wonderful yarn and it's going fast; some colors are already gone from this morning. Somehow all the yarn ends that couldn't be spit-spliced ended up at the point where the two collar halves join, and those need to be woven before I can seam the collar. This took 4 skeins of Cloud 9 (400 yards) on US 6? 7? I love the way the short-row shaping makes this fit.

I'm really pleased with this proj
ect (yep, ends need weaving!). This is the Blue Sky Alpaca Cropped Cardi, done in Elann's Super Tweed Yarn in Victorian Blue. This was one fast knit, let me tell you, an entire new speed record for me. I started this last Sunday, even though I had only 2 skeins of the yarn but ordered more from Elann; those skeins arrived on Wednesday and I finished this in time to show it off to my SnB group on Friday. Yeah, OK, I stayed up *really* late. Snicker. This took 5 skeins (500yds) with very small leftovers. I like the yarn, which is wool, cotton, acrylic and stretchy nylon; there are thick and thin strands, the colors change but not in any pattern, and I think the cardi will be just perfect for summer evenings. Note to anyone else: the front bands are written to be 2 stitches wide; make them 4 or 5 and save yourself the hassle of stockinette curl.

Finally, this is REALLY a FINISHED OBJECT!! These are socks for DH, knitted in KnitPicks's 100% merino Memories sock yarn in the Cape Cod colorway. I knitted the heels with a wooly nylon reinforcing thread just to see how it changes the wear, if any. I finished them on March 8 and he wore them that
Friday; the closeup shows that there is already a bit of felting going on at the heels. But the other pair I made him from this yarn, back in 2005, while having felted at heel and sole, still looks just fine and I can't find any thinning spots. That may have something to do with the fact that I don't do hand-laundry for socks very often, lol, so he may have only worn them 10 times or so.

I've joined t
he KAL for the Moonlight Sonata Shawl, a new free pattern at Elann. The pattern was designed by Shui Kuen, one of the most talented knitters who regularly post at the Elann Chat Center. SK has also designed the Garden Path Shawl and the Sun Ray Shawl, as well as the Leaf and Acorn Lace Scarf all free at Elann. I'm doing this in Elann's Baby Cashmere yarn, in the Starlight Blue color; this color is sold out right now, but it's a rather pale greeny-blue. I liked the coincidence of finding this color, with this name, in stash. Yay, KFTS! (Knitting From The Stash) I'm only on Row 2, and since I haven't yet finished anything except socks that is knitted with fingering weight yarn, it's going to be a challenge.

You may recall that JenLa had a contest for the cutest paws. Midnight was entered, and felt confident that her '
Elegant Pawsitude'

would put her in the winning. As it happens, Wendy Johnson entered Lucy, who was a sentimental favorite and knocked Middy out of the final round. Lucy didn't win, but Midnight wants her to know there are no hard feelings. Although I notice she does tend to ignore Lucy's pictures.

Coming Back, but Slowly - Part One Redux

Hi, friends! I've been sending dozens of emails to those brick walls at Blogger, trying to get them to recover my poor deleted blog. It's weird that, when I just now typed the title to this post, a previous post-title came up as a choice. So it's there, somewhere.

However, with more than 2 weeks having passed since I unwittingly zapped my blog, I've decided to try going forward with a 'new' blog. I immediately
remembered exactly why I've been dragging my feet: setting all this up is a major PITA!!! So the necessary accessories and the frills will be coming to this site slowly as I have the determination to wade through the process.

You will have noticed that we have some changes:
  • a new URL (,
  • a slightly different blog title, CatBookMom's Yarns Too (in hopes of recovering the 'old' blog) and
  • a new photo. Since I go by 'CatBookMom', I thought I'd show the Cat and the Books. I am a 'mom' only in the sense that I care and cater for both. If you look carefully at the picture, you will see some of my favorite mystery writers being represented, lol.

I still miss our little Shadow cat so dreadfully.
She's been gone 2 months today, and I only wish I'd saved at least that post from my old blog. But I can remember most of it, and I have 15 years of memories to cherish. Shadow died of acute pancreatitis and its effects on her other organs; she was not a victim of this dreadful pet-food poisoning. Here she is lounging in one of our chairs, which she always custom-covered in extra fur and leftover kitty litter.

I have lots o
f yarny news, many new nearly-FOs, and just plain chat, so I'm going to break this 'first' post into two, since there are lots of pictures.

Today I received my first order of hand-dyed yarn from a new source. See Jayne Knits has just opened for business in Vancouver, BC, and I am privileged to have some of the very first yarns she's created. The yarns are all soft as can be, with no nasty vinegar or dye odors. Here's my booty:

First, we have Coral Glow, a 100% merino sock yarn, one of the very first SJK skeins ever. This is a happy-making color, and it will make some lovely socks, when I find the right pattern for it. The flash makes this look a bit garish, but it's the closest I dould get.

Then there's Hydrangea, which is
IMO a most perfectly named yarn. This is 100% superwash DK merino, and the shades of blue-pinks and pinky-lavenders and all shades in between include my complete range of favorite pastels.

nd not least, this is Forest Camo sock yarn, 80% wool, 20% nylon. DH is going to love this - again, the camera cannot capture the colors. There are greens from cedar to balsam to olive to new leaves...., and the browns and tans are just as wide-ranging.

You HAVE to check out this new dyer! Jayne has been known among the Elann knitters for her unerring sense of color and color mixtures, and she has brought all of that talent to the yarns she is creating. She has found sources of high-quality yarns in a wide variety of weights and fibers, and she has already begun to compile a number of repeatable colorways. Right now there are some copper and midnight-blue yarns showing that I really covet. The Copper mohair could convert me from a 'waters' color fan to an 'earth' colors fan. All of us who have known her for a while are warning her against burn-out, a la Sweet Georgia, so the output won't be large, but it will be high-quality and in stunning colors.

For more news, see post number Two.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Sock UFOs

After knitting 2 pairs of socks in less than a week, I decided to raid the UFO pile to see what I had in the sock area. Look what I found! [Edit: see the 2/28 post; the two pairs were knitted with worsted weight yarn and went fast]

First up is an abandoned sock made with Paton's Kroy. Left at the heel turn, this has been around since, oh, 2004. I don't remember where I bought the yarn, but considering how icky the yarn feels, these may be candidates for total frogging. I don't know if I want to put in the time to finish the single sock to find out how the yarn feels after washing.

Next, we ha
ve a sock and a bit of sock #2 from 2005. This is KnitPicks' Sock Garden 100% merino in Hydrangea. KnitPicks has since consolidated several of its early sock lines into one, now called Memories, and the Hydrangea colorway is no longer available. This is lovely soft yarn, though I'd have liked it better if the leg had turned out with narrower 'stripes'. I'll probably finish these.

Before I started the Hydrangea socks, I made this pair in KnitPicks' 100% merino in the Yukon colorway (which is still available), a lovely blues/greys blend, and DH hijacked them. That pair is holding up well, as you can see, though there's some felting on the sole. I love how the narrow stripes worked out.

Saving the best for last, these are Grumperina's Jaywalker socks. The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in #38 Mixed Berries, and was a gift from a very
special friend. I couldn't quite get the hang of 2 socks on 2 circs, so I knitted the two on 2 sets of circs, working an inch or so on each in turn. These were my 2006 Knitting Olympics project and sadly, I was a non-finisher. In my defense, I went to Stitches West during the Olympics, and found that very little knitting happens at knitting conventions. With all the socializing and shopping and classes to take, there isn't much time or energy to knit and not much in the way of good lighting. I did knit a couple more inches on both of these at Stitches, but I found errors and had to frog all of that progress when I got back home. These I will definitely finish. I love the way the chevrons show up in the variegated yarn.

Remember, click on the pictures for a larger view.

And for some quizzy fun, here's one I enjoyed:

You Are 60% Left Brained, 40% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.
Are You Right or Left Brained?

This summation is interesting, and seems to reflect how I've always thought about my own ways of "brained-ness". I'm not particularly philosophic, and I'm totally hopeless with sports of any kind, being terminally clumsy. I can't draw or paint but I do find a lot of pleasure in working with colors in knitting. I was a pretty good tax accountant, which involved a lot of reasoning skills and an ability to write coherently about tax law in a way that could be understood by non-accountants. Pre-retirement and pre-knitting I was quite organized, with an incredibly tidy if crowded desk and filing system, and my house was far less cluttered and messy. Oh, the faults we can blame on knitting!

Monday, March 5, 2007

Musings on This and That

Not a lot of new knitting to show. I finished the orange socks. I took them to Unwind on Friday for help with Kitchenering, but the clerk is a newish (though very talented) knitter and hasn't done any socks or Kitchener stitch. So I sat down and kept doing those toes over again until I got them nearly right, at least right enough to stop. The socks left here a little while ago, on their way to San Francisco via Priority Mail. I attached a good length of the sock yarn and a darning needle to each pair, for future darning and repair.

I nearly finished the other side of the EZ Ribwarmer; there's no picture since it looks just like the first side. But it was a great item to knit Saturday afternoon while watching Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet in 'Sense and Sensibility' (1995 version) via TiVo. Hugh Grant spends the entire movie with his shoulders hunched up and held stiffly. I wonder if it was the way the coat fitted him? Not his best role, IMO. The nasty step-sister-in-law is played perfectly by Harriet Walter, who was so wonderful playing Lord Peter Wimsey's great love, Harriet Vane, in the 1987 BBC-TV versions of the Dorothy Sayers mysteries, 'Strong Poison', 'Have His Carcase' and 'Gaudy Night'. The big link is to the boxed set at Amazon.

This and That
Sweater stones work -
I got big handfuls off my Highland Triangle Shawl - but the rotten-egg/sulfur smell, ick! This is a reminder that the 'stone' is volcanic, pumice to be exact.

Online shopping math -
On Thursday, I decided to order a couple of the new needles from KnitPicks, who have upped their free shipping amount to $45. Found myself adding to the basket, nearly $25 worth, to save $3.79 shipping. Sanity caught up to me and I'm paying the shipping but only ordered the $18+ I really wanted.

BTW, they are discounting their KIP totes as separate items, but the set is still $49. Huh??

The needles arrived today, and I'm happy with them, but they won't replace either my beloved bamboo circs or my Denise Interchangeable Set. The 16in sock-sized needles are particularly nice, in that the tips are shorter than the interchangeable tips, and fit more comfortably into the smaller circle. I also bought the smallest KIP tote; hard to resist at $10, though it is singularly underwhelming. It's a small fabric/vinyl handbag, rather frumpy in design, but a good size for small projects. I'm thinking with it being a zip-top tote, it will be better for
holding my "emergency" knitting in the car than my present open-top tote. And the material of the tote is dirt-resistant, another good thing for car totes.

Skacel Addi Lace Needles
Unwind had some of these in stock on Friday, so I picked up one, though they only had the 32in length. Lovely needles, and they are not as slippery as the regular Addi Turbos. I haven't really worked with it, but I'll report when I have. Price is quite ouchy - $16.50.

Most of the weekend was spent deep in a newish trilogy from Nora Roberts, called the Circle Trilogy. This one starts in Ireland but then jumps to a mythical land called Geall, where an army of vampires must be defeated on behalf of all the worlds. Lots of Nora's usual great characters and rather steamy sex. But a nice plot line, assuming you can believe in vampires and sorcery.

Wendy Johnson (Wendy Knits!) explained how she manages to read and knit at the same time. Not too surprisingly, she knits mostly by touch. Well, *that's* a few more years of knitting in the future for me, and perhaps for most people. I've been wondering how she and others manage the two at once.

OK, back to some knitting interspersed with some long-deferred bookkeeping. Ugh! The bookkeeping, not the knitting, of course!