Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Defenseless against clever packaging

Blue Sky Alpacas, the people who tempt us with yummy soft alpaca yarn and comfy colored organic cotton, are now selling irrestible little tins filled with sets of five 5" wooden needles. Different sizes come in different color tins. They have the charming little phrase on them, "FOR KNITTING SMALL THINGS". Since I like to knit both socks at the same time, I was moved to buy 2 sets. Aren't they too cute for words!! The 5" size is great for stowing away in my purse without causing puncture wounds whenever I reach for my wallet.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

(Almost) Immovable Objects

After a long, busy week at work, I was looking forward to a quiet weekend immersed in fibers. It didn't work out that way. Saturday I went to Costco for new tires. While they were installing them I walked across the parking lot to check out Bare Naked Furniture. They had the perfect dining table. And it was on sale as the last one of that model they had. I immediately started thinking about all the designs I could make with my wood burning tool! Yes, I had to have it! So when my truck was ready I helped the salesman load it into the back of my truck. Solid birch and REALLY heavy. This brings me to the 'immovable' part. It is still in the back of my truck. I cannot move it on my own. The one drawback to living alone is that there is noone to hold up the other end of a piece of furniture. Happily, my friend Linda (of the fabulous mohair eyeglass cozy) is coming over today to help me shift it.

I spent all afternoon yesterday clearing off, dismantling and removing the old table. That left a big open space in the kitchen, just right for cat olympics. What do you do with old cash-register tape when you get a new model? I unrolled several full rolls in tangles all over the house. Zach particularly enjoys diving into it and rolling around.

As for me, I am thinking about all the possibilities for finishing my new table. More vines, I think, and perhaps frogs....

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Textile tales

Birdsong's latest post about teaching knitting to kids inspired me to think about some of my favorite books - children's books with knitting or spinning or weaving themes. There are plenty of great one's to be found. I went through my disorganized bookshelves and pulled out my small collection. It was fun to revisit them. In some the textile is a major theme, in others it is part of the background. My favorite is probably "The Mitten", adapted and illustrated by Jan Brett. This is from a Ukrainian folk tale. A young boy begs his grandmother for white mittens and when he loses one in the snow, it is inhabited by a progression of animals from a little mole to a great bear. The mitten stretches to accommodate each new occupant until finally the bear sneezes and the mitten is thrown up in the air and the boy sees it silhouetted against the sky. The final page features the grandmother looking with puzzlement at the two mittens, one stretched much larger than the other. I told you the whole story because I wanted to relate one of my most successful knitted gifts. When my niece was little I sent her a copy of the book, along with a pair of white mittens. (I added a black row to the beginning of the cuffs, so she wouldn't lose them in the snow.) My sister told me that the book became a favorite and she would see my niece outside, throwing one of the mittens into the air to see it silhouetted, just like in the book.

I hope it made up for the earlier multi-colored pair I sent that, when left to dry by the radiator, bled bright-colored permanent stains onto my sister's carpeting.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Victory through Procrastination

I have completed the Oh-So-Boring socks! And as I predicted, I like the finished project way more than I liked the process. Although my weekend goal was just to finish the insteps, I had so much work to avoid that I made it through the toes and Greek zig-zag cast-off. Now I am afraid that I can no longer avoid getting to work. At this rate I will be building PowerPoint slides far into the night. Sigh. Maybe I'll go cast on some red socks....

Yes, I do have very wide feet.

Monday, September 11, 2006

And thus begins the back yard....

Here's a picture of my newly furnished backyard office.

The view from the lounge chair is especially nice.

Today Wayne Johnson, State Horticultural Specialist and all-around nice guy, dropped by my office and gave me 4 grape seedlings (2 Suffolk Red and 2 Steuben). They were already acclimated and ready to be planted.

So.... Here's my back porch at 5:45pm.

Here it is at 6:25pm.

And 35 minutes, 4 holes, and 2 smashed irrigation pipes later, the grapes are in the ground. The perforated irrigation pipe is part of a leaky in-ground system that I do not use, so I refuse to worry about it.

This weekend I'll have to finally get around to installing the back yard drip system.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Brief scarf interval

My Oh-So-Boring Socks have gone into the seventh inning stretch. I have turned both heels and now must knit down to the toes. For some reason, this always feels like it takes forever. So I have taken a brief break to knit a quick scarf for a friend's birthday using two strands of funky eyelash yarn and size 17 needles. Now it is back to the socks. Sigh. On the plus side, today I purchased a lovely padded lounge chair for the back yard, so I can knit while reclining under the shady canopy of the cherry tree, listening to all the birds hanging out in my giant lilac bush.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Busy week and boring socks

Even though it is only a four-day work week, I have been up to my eyebrows and beyond at work. So there has been no time to attack any new creative fiber projects, or even move a few rocks around the front yard. My only fiber therapy has been to continue plowing along on the oh-so-boring blue and purple socks. Normally it is my rule that I don't have to continue any (hobby) project that I am growing to hate, but in this case, I know I will really like the product. And how long can a single pair of socks take, anyway? So on I plod. My only amusement is to consider the oddities of perfect sock geometry. Since I prefer to wear my socks cuffed, I have found that the perfect number of rows in the cuff of a 68-stitch-round sock is 68. And the perfect number of cuff rows in a 72-stitch-round sock is 72. And so on. Funny, huh? And when I have finished the sock (to fit my foot), the length from top of cuff to botton of heel is almost exactly the same as from bottom of heel to end of toe. Cool, huh? OK, so this isn't terribly profound. Just ponderings of a tired mind.

On a more amazing knitting topic, my friend Joan just completed the most amazing baby blanket I have ever seen. I already knew her to be possibly the best knitter I have ever met, but this project just astounded me. Since the blanket is meant for the baby of a fish geneticist, she created a lace design that included a central panel of waves, with a band of DNA strands and a ring of fish swimming around the outside. The whole thing was done in soft delicate white lacy yarn. The most amazing thing is that the designs are all 2-sided, so the fish can be seen from either side. Here is a picture of her fish lace design.

Joan - I can only bow to your mastery!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Busy day in the garden

Now that the Fair is over, it is time to get back to gardening. I spent this morning digging up more old lawn, spreading more cedar bark mulch, and deadheading the marigolds, all the while waiting for delivery of 6,770 lbs. of ledger-cut quartzite rock from Rainbow Rock.

The rock arrived on a big truck, along with a Big Cat to lift it off the truck and plunk it down in my front yard. The man driving the heavy equipment (is this the stuff you are not supposed to operate when taking medications?) did a fabulous job putting the pallets exactly where I wanted them.
I had been afraid the rock would be put in the middle of my driveway, so I am really glad I could be there for delivery! Tomorrow I start digging the foundation trench for my dry-stack wall. Then one by one I will move the rocks to their final destination. I fully expect that the piles of rock waiting for installation will be a long-term fixture in the front yard.

One more picture is in order: My Salvia reptans (west Texas grass sage, A.K.A. blue willow sage) is now blooming. The ones I planted last year are reaching as high as 5 feet, surpassing the 3-4 ft estimation of the High Country Gardens catalog! They don't bloom densely, but the flowers are an intense clear blue. They are so pretty that they have converted another neighbor to the pleasures of xeriscaping; a woman from a few houses down the street dropped by to ask what they were and where she could get some. She left with the stated intentions of getting up with High Country Gardens right away!