Sunday, August 26, 2007

Do Not Adjust Your Bloglines

CatBookMom has unlocked a door with the key of invitation #10,169. Beyond it is another dimension. A dimension of yarn... a dimension of needles... a dimension of patterns. She is moving into a land of shawls and scarves, of stockinette and yarnovers. CatBookMom has just crossed over into the .... Ravelry Zone.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

It's Pronounced "MOW-Sel"

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:

Honourable Lady Barbara the Essential, of Mousehole by Sea

Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

This is ingenious!! And so veddy British. The pronunciation was given on a recent episode of Midsomer Murders. Small world!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

More Fun with Elannites!

Yesterday Christine (another Elannite) and I went out to lunch with SK and her mother. We had dim sum, a real treat for me. With SK and her mother ordering for us, we got all sorts of great dishes, including spicy clams in the shell, several shrimp dishes, my favorite barbecue pork bao, and then some great desserts - sesame-covered buns with lotus paste and a very tasty sort of jelled rice. Note to others: it's tricky to pick up a jello sort of thing with chop sticks. As Lisa W and I found when we went for dim sum in San Francisco, it is amazing how quickly you can fill up on just a few of those wonderful tasty bits they serve.

Christine teaches 5th grade in Azusa, and entertained us with her tales of the trip to Washington, D.C., Jamestown and Williamsburg that she and another teacher, plus assorted parents, take with about 30 kids every summer. Apparently this year they had some special treats, including a ride up to the top of the Washington Monument, and a peek at some of the new excavations being made at the original Jamestown settlement. With school starting in the next week or so, Christine had to head back to her planning, so it was a short visit, but a lot of fun!

Once again, I nearly forgot the camera, but dug it out when we got back to SK's mother's home, so we have very simple pictures.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Shui Kuen Comes to SnB

I have lots of knittery fun to share with you!! My Monday SnB group meets at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf in Montrose about twice a month. This Bean has a BIG area for customers, including comfy armchairs and sofas. Knitdevil Madge (in white) and mehitabel arrive early to make sure we get the best seats. Yesterday Patty (in blue) had arrived before me.

Shui Kuen, who is the designer of several beautiful shawl and stole patterns offered by Elann, is visiting LA from her home in Canada. Her mother lives not far away from Burbank, and yesterday I picked up SK (as she is referred to on the Elann Chat Center) for a visit to my Monday SnB group. We all had a great time!

SK brought several of her FOs and a couple of her mother's beautiful sweaters to show us. I swear, she has a "Mary Poppins carpetbag"-style backpack, there were so many lovely things she just kept pulling out of there, more than I would have thought would fit! Her mother frequently uses a 'coin lace' motif in her sweaters, and SK has designed the Coin Lace and Cable stole to honor her mother's favorite stitch motif. SK was working on a version of her Forget-Me-Not shawl using Elann's Super Kydd mohair yarn. And she took the opportunity to get tips from Patty about Continental-style knitting, a technique she said she's been looking forward to adding to her knitting skills.

Shui Kuen has two of her designs in the current issues of knitting magazines: The Forget-Me-Not shawl photo is the Elann ad on page 103 of the just-out Fall Knitter's, and the Champagne Leaf and Acorn Lace Shawl is on page 115 of the 25th Anniversary issue of Vogue Knitting. As I've mentioned before, she designed the Sun Ray and Luna Moth shawls that I've just finished, and I was glad to have finished them in time to show them to her.

We're planning to get together with another Elannite friend, Christine, for dim sum later this week. More photos then.

Friday, August 17, 2007

I Quit

No, no, not blogging! Nor knitting - good heavens, I'd eat myself into 20 more pounds!!

I'm quitting Mystery Stole 3. I made it to Row 75 - or was it 79? Whatever. The newest and last clue was posted today, along with hints about blocking. And y'know what? I'm not gonna do it.

My pattern stash has dozens of drop-dead gorgeous laceweight patterns in it. I buy patterns in nearly SABLE quantities, but,while I may grudgingly agree that yarn will exist in the future outside of my own stash, patterns do become OOP. In fact, I recently bought several more:

I haven't a clue which of these or the other laceweight shawl or scarf patterns I have that I'm going to try. But the more I look at the Mystery Stole, the less I'm thinking that I want to spend the time to make something that I don't really love.

So I'm gonna take my jump rope, ah, laceweight yarn, and go home.

Luna Moth Update

I re-blocked Luna Moth, and it is now 54in x 27in. DH got into the process when he started commenting that the points along the edge weren't all the same distance apart, and after that he started doing more maths, and ..... OK, he was right and was helpful. Love that guy!! I'm not as pleased with the shape that the motifs have now as I was with the first blocking. Making them look the way I liked was how I got the first blocked size. It took a lot of pulling to get the 54in across, and I kept patting the fabric into place to get the 2:1 ration of width to length. I'm thinking that the fiber content - cotton, viscose and silk - just isn't as adaptable as an animal fiber would be.

BTW, this is my alternate blocking surface. These are 2ft x 2ft foam squares I found at Toys R Us for $20US; they're meant for babies' play surfaces, and they fit together like jigsaw pieces. I drew lines across them with a Sharpie, and marked the corners that need to go together so that I can use the lines to help with a more rectangular project. Again I used the little fan, but I started earlier last night and didn't run it overnight.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

We Have FOs!!!

OK, friends, here's some real knitting content, at last!! I have finished 2 shawls in the last few days, though I still have ends to weave in. Both of these are free patterns at Elann, designed by Shui Kuen Kosinsky.

Luna Moth has been OTN since late April, and I finished it Sunday night. The yarn is Filati Fantasia Cezanne, 3 skeins @103yds in Pale Straw, worked on US 9 needles. I worked only to Row 18 on the last pattern repeat, due to my limited yarn; I have just a couple of feet of the yarn left. Whew!! The link shows the Pale Straw color on the left. I got this from Elann last year, and while it is very loosely plied and therefore somewhat splitty, it's easy to knit and beautifully drapey. With the high cotton and viscose content, the shawl blocked very differently than wool or alpaca would have done. The finished size is 49in across and 32in down. I don't know that I can get it to be larger by another try at the blocking. Any advice or suggestions are welcome; it would be nice if it were a bit wider across the shoulders.

I have finished Sun Ray, which I started last month when I was in Vancouver. This is done with hand-dyed yarn in Apricot from See Jayne Knits, 2 246-yd skeins of her 100% merino, worked on US9 needles. I LOVE this yarn! It is soft and sproingy and a joy to knit with. I have about 10g left of the total of 200g. I'm not sure I like the picot bind-off, and I will say it is tedious, perhaps even a PITA, to do. It seemed to cause a lot of aches in my wrists and my left thumb. It is a very flexible bind-off, as the pattern says. The finished size is 56in across and 34in deep.
Last but not least, I finally finished a baby cardi that I've donated to the Stitches from the Heart (STFH)charity. The yarn is James G. Brett's Marble yarn in Moss. The closeup has truer color values. The link is to the best picture I could find online, which is sort of pitiful. I bought the yarn from SFTH. It's rather odd-looking in the skein, with 2 plies wound somewhat loosely, but it knits up nicely and then you go Wow! when you see how pretty the color changes are. I washed and dried this with my undies and it came out really soft! The pattern is free from Knitting Pure and Simple, and is SO easy to knit, all in one piece from the top of the hood down, with the sleeve stitches put on holders at the armscye and then knitted down to the cuff. I did a provisional cast-on and then a 3-needle bind-off for the only seam, at the top of the hood. You can see that this allowed the stripes to line up very nicely.

I thought you'd like to see my simple blocking system. I use this 4ft x 8f piece of foam insulation board for really big things like shawls, though I prefer the soft foam interlocking squares. But this works really well. I washed and blocked these late Monday night, left the little fan running overnight and the shawls were dry by 9am yesterday. I took them with me to meet Mary Tess for show and tell, lol!

Next up, I'll be finishing a little scarf that's been OTN for months, and then picking up Mystery Stole 3. I'm probably going to make a symmetrical stole, though the last clue won't be posted until Friday. At the moment, the 'wing' pattern looks a bit odd, but perhaps it will look better with the last segment. If I do the symmetrical version, I'll put the first section on a holder and then do a 3-needle bind-off. That's got to be easier than trying to Kitchener laceweight yarn. Plus I dug out my Lacevember project, Hand Jive Knits' Dayflower Stole, which I'm doing in Elann's Baby Silk in the beautiful green Cedar color. Since I'm on a roll with lace, I thought I might do well with this, too.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Busy: Not Much Knitting But Some Eye Candy

There have been solicitous inquiries about the continuation of life Chez CBM. I'm happy to say that we're all still here. But it's been busy for the last couple of weeks.

The week of July 27 was a whirlwind of errands, doctor appointments and frustration, with a few nice bits of knitting fun. I got a chance to meet Mary Tess for coffee and a fast bite of lunch before heading to an eye doctor appointment. MT is a terrific knitter and the best I know at finding gorgeous thrift-store sweaters - often cashmere! - to frog and re-use the yarn. Errands and laundry filled the middle of the week, and I had a lot of fun at my Friday Night Unwind group, though I didn't make much net knitting progress on the small scarf I resurrected from the UFO pile.

Last week I met Knitdevil and mehitabel for coffee and lunch in Montrose, then on to more errands. Tuesday and Wednesday involved even more errands and doctor appointments. There's nothing wrong with me - it's just that various follow-ups and annual visits all have fallen within a couple of weeks. It all caught up with me on Thursday: I had to bail on my usual seniors' knitting group and the Friday Night Unwind fun. I felt like someone had pulled the plug on my energy tank and everything had run out.

And oh, yeah. The Video Time Sink: A lot of time over the last 2 weeks has been spent trying to get our "video system" back together. Two weekends ago we had the new AT&T U-verse system installed. U-verse is a combination of fiber-optic internet and cable service, quite new to the Burbank area. U-verse tiers come with one DVR, but the guys who installed the service, and did a good job of it, were not allowed to hook up our two TiVo boxes. So DH and I have spent several days'-worth of time trying to do that.

I have to say that the support from TiVo, both onscreen and on the phone, is great! So is AT&T's online support. We've had Pacific Bell/SBC/AT&T DSL internet service for years, (so many that they call us "legacy customers", which seems to mean that we have really good/cheap phone pricing, no longer available); but the cable installation quirks around here left us just a smidge too far from their transmitters, so we were always behind the curve of DSL speed. Plus our Charter cable people really have provided less and less service for more and more $$.

So we switched to U-verse. Based on our experience, I think the service is still in Beta testing, on us customers. And compared to TiVo, the interface has a long way to improve. With the help of a guy from Best Buy's Geek Squad, 2/3 of our system is back to where we want it. Our second TiVo box and the U-verse cable box are not playing together properly, in spite of everything we, the Geek Squad guy, AT&T online support and TiVo have been able to think of and try. We can't find the IR code that lets the TiVo change channels. This may require replacing the TiVo box, which is a pricey thing. Sigh.

Limited Knitting Content

I have managed to finish both Luna Moth and Sun Ray shawls, patterns designed by Shui Kuen Kosinsky and available from Elann in their Free Patterns section. Sun Ray has a picot bind-off, and it really hurts my hands and my patience, so the B/O is going slowly. I finished the B/O of Luna Moth last night, and both of them will be blocked on Wednesday. (More appointments tomorrow.) So those photos will be posted later this week.I also washed the red acrylic 'mohair' shawl and the teal acrylic/mohair Comfort Shawl, and was able to pat out much of the unevenness of the Comfort Shawl, even though I didn't do more than just lay the shawl out flat. I've already posted photos of the unblocked shawls, so I haven't taken new pictures, since there's not much difference.

Poor Mystery Stole 3 is still languishing untouched. I'm at about Row 79 (Clue 1B), though I seem to have made some mistake, since my stitch count is off. My plan is to pick it up later this week and continue. I don't know yet if I'll finish nor if I'm going to do the 'wing' version or the 'symmetrical' version. That decision is about 200 rows off.

The most knitting fun is that Shui Kuen, she of the shawl patterns, will be here in the LA area next week. I met her last year when she came to visit relatives, and we're planning some more knittery fun, including having her join us at our Montrose Monday SnB. She's going to take me to a dim sum feast. Oh, *yummy*!!

And Now for the Eye Candy
For reasons illogical and incomprehensible to me, I can grow African Violets. They suffer irregular watering schedules, erratic fertilizing and lots of absent-minded but benign neglect. It takes a fairly hardy plant to survive here, but most of them grow. They grow lushly, and generally with lots of flowers. They grow multiple crowns and need dividing. I divide them, and still they grow and need dividing again. I have them in 4 windows, and right now there are about 2 dozen of them. So here are some of the lovely flowers that I found today when I went around with my little watering can.

These are two plants from one of the oldest varieties I have; it's at least 10 years old, though this may not be the original plant. I've lost its name, but it makes broad rosettes and huge blossoms.

This is Maid Marian. She's also been with me for 10 years or so. Marian is very hardy. I get a lot of divisions and leaf-starts from her.

This is a family heirloom of sorts. My cousin's wife inherited the plant from an aunt of hers. When I first saw this plant back in Illinois, I was stunned, since I had never seen such a huge plant, with so many crowns. It overflowed an 8-inch pot. I don't recall the name, so I've named it Sandy, for my dear relative-by-love. The blossoms are much like the very early African Violets, very simple petals, but the color is so rich.

And this is Ever Glory, one of the newest varieties in my AV garden. The edges of the petals are just barely ruffled, with a nearly-white band. This is really overgrown, since there are now 2 large crowns in this pot.