Sunday, January 31, 2010

I finished the mesh scarf I had been working on. It turned out pretty, if mundane. The next one, which I am already 1/4 to 1/2 done with, will be different. It's knit crosswise, with enough k2tog's and yo's to make it wiggle. Whether it's 1/4 or 1/2 done depends on whether I make it skinny, as the pattern indicates, or do a couple more repeats to make it wider. I'll probably do the later. This yarn is mostly wool, with a wrapping of metallic thread. Pretty.

I went to the old knitting club I used to attend, because Sharon had told me that one of the members was collecting fabric to be used for quilts for charity. Yay-- an opportunity to destash! I kept what I thought I might use, put the nice, SFnal part of what I wouldn't use aside, as a hostess gift for a friend who sews competitively and professionally in the SF community, and the rest I brought to the meeting. That part was four bags. The seamstress will get another three. I didn't consolidate what I have left, so there are as many bins as before, but they are lighter.

One of the women at the meeting was selling Girl Scout cookies. I didn't put myself forward, as I shouldn't have sweets. She mentioned to one of the other women, though, that one could buy the cookies and have them donated to the local food bank. I went for that-- I can't have sweets, but that won't stop me from buying cookies.

Must water yard, tomorrow. The wet weather was nice while it lasted, but it couldn't last forever.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tom and I took in "Sherlock Holmes" today. I didn't hate it, but I can see why some of our friends did. The worst part, for me, was that, after seeing the trailers, I wanted to see "Iron Man 2," and not "Sherlock Holmes."

I do wonder why, if a writer or filmmaker wants to do something original, they make hash of someone else's idea, rather than coming up with something completely original. If the leads had been named something other than Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, half the objections to the film would have been eliminated.

I'm more than 3' into the scarf I started yesterday. The colors are pretty.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Today, I finished the red and black scarf, and cast on another, in mixed pastels and a mesh stitch of my own devising. The yarn is a complicated and hard-to-manage mix of three strands: a ladder, a strand of laceweight silk/mohair, and laceweight metallic. The best part about the yarn is that the price tag reads $21.95, but I only paid $1/skein. Yay, secondhand shopping.

This business of knitting scarves for charity could become a habit. It's busting my stash, and giving me a warm glow of usefulness. In the past, I've given Friends of the Elephant Seal my extras; this is the first year I've dedicated a concerted effort to make things just for them.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I finished yesterday's scarf yesterday, and cast on another today. This one is a vintage French mohair with a weird twist: every few feet, it incorporates unspun locks of mohair in a different color. The effect on the finished fabric is to have a raised tuft appearing at irregular intervals. It wouldn't be my first choice, but someone will like it.

Within a couple of hours, I could tell that I wouldn't have enough of the mohair to make a scarf of decent length. I looked in stash for black mohair for a center section (the main yarn is red with black locks), but didn't find exactly what I was looking for. I did find some Alpaca with a Twist "Punch" in black, two balls. I held it double and started knitting. I'm in love. Even garter stitch looks rich and exotic in this yarn, soft, shiny, and crimped. I looked it up online as soon as we declared "TV off," in case I wanted to buy enough of it to make myself something. As with many of my exotic yarns, this was a one-off included in a lot on eBay. I may have to pick up some more of this.

I saw a neurosurgeon today. He doesn't think I'll need back surgery, maybe some shots into my back for pain. I have to get some x-rays done, to be sure.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I'm always amazed at how much more quickly things work up in Aran weight yarn on size 9 needles than they do in laceweight yarn on size 5 needles. The scarf I started yesterday is something over 3 feet long, and the day is young.

To think that I started that laceweight scarf in order to have something quick and simple to knit. I was frustrated with the socks I was knitting on size 0s.

It's another perfect, sparkling post-rainy day. Perfect weather gets so tiresome, here in LA. Just wait; I'll have plenty of complaining this summer, when it's hot.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I was disappointed when I got up, and found that it hadn't started raining, yet. So, that storm that has been predicted for the last week is only going to be a brief shower this afternoon? That hardly seems fair. I did today's errands yesterday, so I could stay inside, all warm and cozy, while it rained outside. Sure, I could still stay inside, and pretend it's raining, but it wouldn't be the same.

Before bedtime last night, I took a nice dive in the stash, and pulled out half a dozen scarf-appropriate lots of yarn. Since finding out that my scarves are a status item around Friends of the Elephant Seal, I want to have plenty to donate to the annual fundraiser. This morning, I cast on one in Colinette's "Skye," colorway "Popsicle," to match a hat I made last fall. It'll be in diaper stitch, same as the hat.

It's possible that I could spend some time today decluttering, but it's more likely I'll spend the whole day knitting, while going through some of the movies that have been piling up on the DVR.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The morning was another sunny, sparkling morning, the kind that California holds the patent on. Now, it's clouding over, in preparation for another rainy day. The rain is welcome; the drought isn't over until the reservoirs are full.

It felt odd, this morning, to not have the laceweight mohair garter stitch scarf to knit on. Now that I've finished my errands for the day, I could either pick up one of the works-in-progress that I laid aside to do the mohair scarf, or I could comb the stash for another likely candidate.

Or, I could find some more errands to run.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I cast off the garter stitch scarf today, for two reasons. First, at 9 feet long, it was long enough for any reasonable purpose. Second, I was sick of knitting it. I tried it on. Doubled and with both ends pulled through the loop, as the kids are doing these days, it reaches my waist. Tied in a kitten bow, it doesn't quite reach my waist. Looped once around my neck in the old-fashioned way, it reaches my knees; I don't think I'll be wearing it that way.

Tom and I went to California Adventure today, when Disneyland itself looked like it would be too crowded to be enjoyable (There's a downside to a sudden sunny weekend after almost a week of rain). We didn't do any rides, as the lines at the good ones were long, but we did a lot of walking around, a little shopping (I got an awesome t-shirt!), and took in a couple of shows. Tom pronounced himself satisfied. Best, I was on my feet, pain free, for four hours. That's longer than I've been able to tolerate being upright, without medication, in at least six months. Hurray for me!

The younger of our dogs has been forgetting her manners, these last few weeks, with the result that Tom has been shampooing the carpet more often than he likes. Nikki (the dog) is in for some re-education.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

It was a gorgeous day today, as it can only be on the first sunny day after a rain. I wanted to see snow, and asked Tom to take me for a drive. He didn't have to drive me far, as it had snowed in our local hills, visible from the gas station a block from the house. Tom's not a stickler for literalism, though, and cheerfully took me to the farmers' market at La Canada Flintridge. It was our first time at that market, but won't be our last. Several of the same vendors were there as at our usual market (Sunday in Encino); the ones that were different were veddy upscale. Hans Rockenwagner doesn't make pretzels at our farmers' market, let me tell you. There were a lot of yummy-looking pastries I would have bought (sold by very handsome men with very convincing French accents), if I weren't dieting.

In the afternoon, Sharon and I went to lunch. Don't remember the name of the place, sorry, but it's a Vietnamese place just east of The Coffee Table on Foothill in Eagle Rock. We each had very delicious, very virtuous tofu salads, then proceeded to Honolulu in Montrose for some window shopping. Neither of us bought windows, but I picked up some cookie cutters and molds at an amazing cake decorating supply shop I hadn't known existed, followed by decaf coffee with lo-fat milk (all this virtue must be very boring) at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf. Lots of people were walking their dogs this afternoon, including a couple of Newfoundlands. I love Newfies.

I'm almost done with the garter-stitch scarf. I almost succumbed to some lovely yarns in Montrose, but I kept remembering the 18 bins of yarn I have at home.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I can't really say I had cabin fever this morning. While it has been raining, now, for six days, I haven't let that keep me inside. Sunday I could have gone to Disneyland, but chose not to. Monday I drove to San Simeon, and spent three hours on the bluff in between rain showers. Tuesday I spent three hours on the bluff as well, also between showers. Wednesday there was no "between showers," but I did have that drive home, which was somewhere between thrilling and harrowing. It rained all day yesterday, but I did the grocery shopping, and I went out to dinner with friends (Cafe Orient, on Devonshire in Chatsworth).

So, why did I feel as if I'd die of nervousness if I didn't get outside today? I might be tired of knitting garter stitch, or I might be tired of the depressing news on the radio. Anyway, I harnessed the will to get out of the house as a means of getting some necessary yard work done.

It is my experience that drought tolerant plants that get more water than they need flop over. The Italian cypress hedge that lines my driveway started to flop days ago, making it very hard to get in and out of my garage. During a brief pause in the storm, I started to trim the cypress. As long as I had the hedge clippers out, I also started to trim the red-leafed photinia that takes over where the cypress ends. I'm allergic to photinia; if I waited until the thing bloomed, I'd have to hire someone to trim it for me. It started to rain again before I was finished with the photinia, but I figured I might as well finish it. I'm not made of sugar; I won't melt in the rain.* I finished the trimming, which involved cutting several good-sized branches at the end of the fence, closest the street.

My original plan had been to trim only, as one can't sweep a wet sidewalk. As bad as my back is, Tom wouldn't resent my leaving a mess in the driveway. When I cut those big branches, though, they blocked the driveway. Since the sides of our street flood in the rain, and on-street parking involves putting two wheels onto the adjoining lawn, I couldn't very well force Tom to park in the street. I got the barrels out, and a broom, a rake, and a giant dustpan, and cleaned up the mess as well as I could, given the wet driveway. The pruning took half an hour; cleaning up the resulting debris took a full hour. I was soaked to the skin by the time I finished, but I had a warm glow of accomplishment.

I tried on the scarf. It's long enough to tie in a kitten bow, but I can't bring myself to cast off and call it finished. Maybe I should trim another hedge.

* The spice and everything nice keeps me together.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I'm back from San Simeon.

The rain was worse than I expected, on the way up. While creeping along on the freeway at 40 mph, due to puddles on the pavement, poor visibility, and strong winds, I thought, this is insane. No one works outdoors in this weather. When I reached the bluff, the rain had just stopped. The sun even came out, by the end of my shift. My luck held on Tuesday; the rain stopped before my shift started, and didn't resume until I was safely indoors.

It couldn't last. On Wednesday, I was woken, hours before dawn, by thunder and lightning. I made myself a cup of coffee, and drank it in the pitch dark after the power went out. At dawn, I was faced with a choice. Since the heat was electric, and the windows were old-fashioned uninsulated glass, I could sit in the dark and be warm, or open the drapes and let the heat out. I put on woolen socks and a sweatshirt over my jammies, and opened the drapes. Both cell phones and land lines were out of order, so I was as isolated as I needed to be.

I started knitting as soon as I could see the yarn. I apparently didn't see it well enough; I tinked out two rows and re-did them as soon as I could see the yarn well enough to fix my mistakes. I thought about going home, as I'm not crazy enough to stand outdoors in a lightning storm, but I remembered my luck of the previous two days, and decided to give the weather a chance to moderate. Nope: when my shift started, the rain was "falling" horizontally, propelled by winds I'd estimate at 70-100 mph. I did go to the bluff briefly, just so I could report back on the conditions I found there.

The beach at the north end of the viewing area had been badly eroded since the storm started, with the surf reaching all the way to the cliffs. Since elephant seal pups can't swim until they're three months old, this meant that all the pups on the north beach were doomed. Even on Wednesday, at the height of the storm, a dozen or more held on among the rocks, sheltered by their moms. On the south beach, which was itself reduced to 1/3 of its original width, elephant seal life went on as usual. Moms were giving birth and nursing their pups, pups were yelling for food, and adult males jockeyed for position.

The drive home was even more challenging than the drive up. Parts of the highway featured near white-out conditions. I arrived home exactly as tired as I usually do when I drive home from Astoria in one straight shot. For comparison's sake, the trip from Astoria to LA is 1,100 miles, while the trip from San Simeon is 250.

Today, I'm catching up on the laundry, and TV shows I missed while I was out of town. I didn't water the yard today.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

It's my week at the elephant seal rookery this week, when apocalyptic rains are predicted. If it rains too hard, I'll stay in my car, or retreat back to the motel. That's always enjoyable, anyway.

Finally finished reading "War and Peace." In the end, everyone gets married and lives happily ever after. Everybody who isn't killed, that is.

Still knitting on the garter stitch scarf. I like it. I have a huge cone of laceweight mohair in stash-- I could easily do a sweater, which shouldn't take more than a few months. Maybe I could do a little dying...

Now I remember why I wanted to pack the car today-- it was so I could do it before it started raining. No such luck-- it was raining by noon, 10 hours earlier than predicted. I have some things to donate to the annual fundraising auction that shouldn't get wet. Maybe I'll have better luck next month.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

I saw Sligo Rags at the Coffee Gallery last night. They're absolutely superb, if not authentic; catch them if you have any opportunity. They bill themselves as an Irish band, but it would be truer to describe them as American, with a strong Irish accent.

Still slaving away at the mohair scarf. It's rapidly approaching 40 inches. The fabric is so fine I'm thinking about tying it in a kitten bow, so it'll have to be long.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

On Tuesday, when I put down my knitting to answer the door, the cat bit the yarn in two, removing one stitch from the needles in the process, and pulling enough to cause a run. Since this yarn possesses a basically uncooperative nature, I was not able to fix the run with a crochet hook, but had to slowly and painfully tink out three rows and do over.

On Wednesday, the cat jumped at my needles, while I was in the middle of a row, with enough force to knock one of them clean out of my hand and out of the knitting. Since the live stitches remained in place, and I was able to get the needle back into them without damage, I allowed the cat to live.

The scarf is two feet long now, with a bit of yarn still left in the first ball, and two balls still at hand. Whew... that means I'll have enough to get a decent-length scarf out of it. Since the balls are only 25 gms, I wasn't sure. It does fit through a wedding ring, but that could be because I have big fingers.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

It's Day Three of a new diet. I've lost two pounds, and I'm haunted by visions of a gigantic chocolate-chip muffin.

The new mohair scarf I cast on Monday is a foot long. The yarn, Crystal Palace Kid Merino, is kinda wonky; the fuzzy bits slide along the nylon core, and bunch up. It was a freebie; I won't be buying any more. It sure makes a pretty fabric, though, knit up in garter stitch on size 5 needles.

Back to Mindless Knitting.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy New Year, considerably late. I've been back from Oregon for a few days, but not in front of the computer.

In short, it rained every day we were in Oregon, and we didn't see the sun until we had been back in California for over 24 hours. I finished Duane's scarf, and cast on a pair of woolen socks for Tom on size 0 needles. I remembered the pattern for the scarf I accidentally left behind in Oregon on my last trip, so I was able to start that up again. It's Sea Lettuce, by Lucy Neatby. My back was out for 2 days of the 10 we were gone, but I still had fun.

We caught the annual docent's appreciation dinner on the way home. I got my 1,000 hour pin. I found out that my scarves are popular auction items, almost status symbols, so I'll want to make a few more to donate this year. The dinner was terrific, a pot luck supplemented with Santa Maria-style barbecued tri-tip donated by Linn's, a good restaurant in Cambria.

Since the socks I'm working on are both in a very fine gauge, I decided to cast on something quick and simple today. I brought a bag of bulky yarn from stash, thinking I could get a couple of scarves out of it. When I determined that I had enough for a sweater, I put it back, and cast on with some laceweight mohair on size 5 needles. Simple, yes. Quick, no. I knit all day, and have a scarf-beginning of 5 inches.