Sunday, February 28, 2010

We spent the day mostly outdoors today, as it was another of those perfect after-a-rain days. We walked around the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden, where the wildflower meadow was beginning to bloom. While orange is my least favorite color in most applications, I lovelovelove California poppies, which were in bloom among dozens of types of sage, in white and all shades of blue. The display will only improve, over the next month or two. We bought a membership, so we can come as often as we (I) like.

From there, we went to Nojoqui Falls, a bit below Solvang. Nojoqui Falls is about as dramatic as a kitchen tap in a dry year, but, this being a wet year, it's suitably spectacular, now. The drive on the back road between Nojoqui and Solvang was so beautiful! Today, the hills on the left of the road were every bit as green as the golf course on the right. In California, that's a rare occurrence. It has been, I don't remember, five or six years since we've had a wet year, in which everything is green and blooming.

Since the diet is still in force, I had to (with great regret) forgo an eclair in Solvang. Darn. The eclairs are what I like best about Solvang. I also managed to resist the yarns at Village Spin and Weave, but succumbed to a couple of books, one by EZ, one by Meg Swanson. I didn't even notice that I had gotten a mother-daughter pair until I was halfway home.

And I didn't knit a stitch all day, not one.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What I haven't mentioned is the cost of the blanket. On the one hand, it hasn't cost a cent; it's knit entirely out of stash. On the other, each ball of yarn (about 40-50 grams) knits up about 1 1/2 linear inches, >100 inches wide. My maximum bid on vintage mohair on ebay is $5 a skein, and that's what it usually cost me. I'm making this blanket >100 inches long; while the math is easy, I don't want to do it.

It rained on and off all day today. Tom wanted to get out of the house. Since I'm not hearty enough at present to do D-land, and neither of us relishes walks in a downpour, we took our constitutional at an upscale mall in Woodland Hills. It's always nice to see how the other 1% lives, and Tom bought me a set of cake pans to debut at our party next week.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I am so close to the halfway point on my mohair blanket that I can count the days. When I started, I divided the yarn I'd be using into two bags, with an equal amount of each color in each bag, so I'd be able to make the second half a mirror image, if I chose. I still have lots of yarn left in the first bag, but the blanket is 4 feet long, with only a little of it blocked. I'll do a couple more stripes, and then block what I already have,to see whether I'm really half done. If the more recently completed part grows as much in the water as the first bit did, I'm getting there.

Genny's birthday was days ago, and I still haven't finished her present. Since we're planning to have dinner with them tonight, I'd better get cracking. That, or find a cute teapot at a neighborhood antique store. Either is correct. Suddenly, I regret cleaning out my "gift shelf"-- the space where I keep all the things I buy at random, to give when birthdays or other occasions present themselves. If I recall, I gave her three teapots and a picture frame for Christmas, in addition to the otter I had bought her specially.

I hope my back holds out long enough to clean up the palm trees in the back yard. Palm fronds take up a lot of space in the compost bins, so it's good to start early. Once I have three bins full, I'm done for the week, whatever yard work I'm doing, since I only have three bins.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

It has been a dull week, just knitting and chores. While that's much to be preferred to chores only, with no knitting, it doesn't provide much blog fodder.

I almost supplemented the blanket with several skeins of Felt Me!, in spite of Felt Me! having a mohair content of zero. I have no more beige or brown worsted-weight mohair, and very much want to continue using beige/brown stripes in the design. I decided against the Felt Me! though, because the color isn't a solid beige, or even a variegated beige-on-beige, but a variegated beige-on-stark-shiny-white. I don't want any white in this piece; it would make the various beiges, creams, and off-whites look dirty.

And so, I return to my regularly scheduled blanket. It is definitely a blanket at this point, too long even to cast off and call it a shawl. Point of no return, and all that rot. While I've been working at giving it a hip flow of colors, the ripple pattern is veddy, veddy old fashioned.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I didn't run away, yesterday. Instead, I twanged my back working out, and spent the rest of the day in agony.

Today, I've accomplished another three inches on the blanket.

One of the purposes of making this blanket was to reduce the mountain of mohair I have cluttering up the upstairs. Two days ago, having run out of beige, I placed a bid on a lot of beige mohair on eBay. Luckily, I got outbid at the last moment, so I didn't negate my stash-busting intent.

Monday, February 22, 2010

I want to run away. I'd like to literally run away, if my back didn't hurt, and my fragile knees and ankles didn't give out at unpredictable moments. Given those weaknesses, I'd like to figuratively run away, because, outside, the sky is blue, flowers are blooming and birds are singing. Inside, it's dark and dusty and cluttered. I could dust and straighten and put brighter bulbs in the lamps, but it wouldn't be the same; I'd still want to run away.

Instead of running away, I walked around my back yard. The climbing roses are beginning to bloom. The apple trees and citrus trees (lime, grapefruit, and two kinds of lemon) are in full bloom, with the lemons and grapefruit in fruit as well. Winter is a good time for fresh fruit, here in citrus country. Little brown birds are perching on the still-dormant shade trees, showing off for their lady friends. I'd like to spend the whole day out there, but... I'm constitutionally unable to just sit, and do nothing, and enjoy. I have to be hiking, if I'm out in the wild, or driving. In the yard, I have to be weeding, or pruning, or planting, and the green bins are already full. I can't do any more yard work until Wednesday, after the trash men come.

I guess I'll read a book.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

It was a dull day, today, just knitting and chores. The blanket is now 3' long, and beginning to look mighty handsome.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The rain blew in and out between dusk and dawn, so Tom and I drove out past Santa Monica and Malibu to Point Mugu to celebrate that perfect post-rain air. The ocean was bluer than jade, and greener than cobalt, but as intense as either. More flowers were in bloom than I expected, this early in the year, and they were mostly yellow-- sunflowers and deerweed, of course, mustard and oxalis, which are more weed than wildflower, and the fabulous giant coreopsis.

For those of you not in the know, giant coreopsis in bloom is something I look forward to each year. The transformation of the plant is total. In bloom, it's a juicy, vivid yellow bouquet of perfection. Out of bloom, the plant looks like a stick. That's it, just a stick-- no leaves or anything. It's very rare in the cosmic sense, as it lives only on a narrow strip of the Southern California coast, and a few offshore islands, but in those spots it's gloriously easy to spot.

Tonight, we're going to see Sligo Rag(s?) at the Coffee Gallery in Altadena. Poor Tom had to work late, last time we had tickets, and only managed to catch their last two songs. They're good, so I'm glad Tom is going to have a second chance to hear them.

Yes, I did knit on the blanket before hitting the road.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Due to an accident too hideous to relate, I had to wash the blanket-in-progress. While it was drying, I finished the heel on the woolen sock I'm making for Tom, and started the quilting on Genny's b-day gift. I was glad to learn that the blanket grew by 50% in length in the blocking process; this is information it's better to learn now, than after I've knit ten linear feet. I don't think I have a proper use for a blanket 15 feet long.

I did buy more fertilizer and sprinkle it over the back yard appropriately. Nature is now watering it in.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Full of vim and vigor again today. Fertilized the front yard; ran out of fertilizer, so I didn't do the back yard as well.

Added some pale gold to the blanket. The yarn, a 100% mohair, blends yarns from two different parts of the world, for an exceedingly thick and luscious yarn. It's under the "Sears" label, and very, very old. I love it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Progress continues on the blanket. Let's not dwell on it; it'll take at least a month to knit, likely much more. I am completing about a half-scarf's worth per day, which is my usual speed. The socks, and the sock-gauge scarf that I'm currently ignoring feel lonely.

My first night on CPAP was miserable. This is something that needs to be learned. Once the sore throat resolved, I was peppier than usual. I did four loads of laundry, washed the dishes, made the bed, pulled out a couple of dead shrubs and pruned a couple of live ones. That's more work than I've accomplished in the last six months. More than I've done in one day, anyway, and I still managed to do my ration of knitting.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Staying in bed with the worst cold I've had in years isn't my favorite way to spend a holiday weekend. I hope I won't repeat the experience any time soon.

The blanket is coming along nicely, if slowly. One doesn't expect quick results with a 400+ stitch cast-on. That I'm continuing to crank out more than an inch/day is sufficient. That the finished object will be handsome and warm is a bonus.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

As it happened, I found too many mistakes in my first pattern row to fudge, so I frogged it out and started over. While I had other things going on today, I think my accomplishment of only 1.5 inches mathematically eliminates the possibility of finishing the project in 17 days. Say I double my output by not making any more mistakes, and double it again by not doing anything non-knitting; I still wouldn't get 100 inches or more done in 17 days.

Well, while I won't earn Olympic gold, I'll get a mohair blanket out of the deal.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Not much blog-fodder today. I spent much of the day battling with the health care establishment-- not the insurance company, which is perfectly willing to pay for my care, but the lazy doctor and his lazy nurse who have been stalling on giving the orders that must be given before care can commence. Sorry to be so oblique, but you really don't want to read about my ills, do you?

I spent the whole morning going through my stash, sorting the various colors of mohair, deciding which ones I would use for my Knitting Olympics project. Once that was settled, the pattern swatched and the needles located, I knit on the socks I already had on the needles, waiting for the signal to start the new project. When I did finally cast on, it took two hours to cast on 360 stitches, and knit another row while placing stitch markers. That done, my count was two off. I don't know whether I'll find more mistakes, when I do the first pattern row, tomorrow. If so, I'll fudge it.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Spent the last few days in San Simeon with the seals. Funny thing-- when I'm sitting in my walker, almost everyone puts a hand on my shoulder as they leave. It doesn't feel contemptuous, which is a frequent interpretation, but sympathetic, like they want to say, "I appreciate how hard it is for you to do what you do, and I admire you for it," but don't want to say the words. It's okay.

The seals were busy being seals. As it is the height of the mating season, that's dramatic and amusing. There were lots of matings, and lots of battles. Since we lost so many pups in the storms a few weeks ago, the surviving pups are uncommonly fat; the bereaved moms don't lose their urge to give suck, so the pups get all the milk they want, from a variety of females.

I soon learned that it would be impossible to make Lorien's hat out of sari silk. I found, when I joined in a second ball of yarn, that I didn't have two of the same color or weight. The closest match in color was impossible in gauge, and vice versa. I gave up and bought two skeins of Summer Tweed, a blend of 70% silk and 30% cotton. The color was dull, a nondescript indigo, so I did a basketweave texture, to give it some interest. When it came time to do the crown decreases, I was delighted to find that I could incorporate the pattern into the decreases. The finished product is cute as can be, in spite of the boring yarn. Poor Lorien: it must be a great misfortune to be allergic, not only to wool, but also to cashmere and alpaca.

After finishing that hat, I cast on, I thought, for another bowler for myself, in a gorgeous teal/purple combo in "Felt Me," a wool/rayon/(I forgot what else) blend that's slightly boucle'd, and felts magnificently. It only took me an hour or so to realize that I had not half enough yarn for a bowler. I rewound the yarn, and set it aside. Tomorrow marks the start of the Knitting Olympics, anyway, so I'll have to get that project started. I'm thinking I'll make that mohair blanket I've been promising myself for the last four years.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Gorgeous, gorgeous day today.

Had a nice talk with the wool-allergic friend at a party last night. It seems she's allergic to all animal-hair fibers, even cashmere and llama, so silk is the only option for a really warm hat. I happen to have a few balls of recycled sari silk on hand, so I cast on a hat today. I think I'll see her again next week; it'll be nice to have it done by then. A wool hat only takes me a day. Sari silk is not as cooperative as wool, so it might take me a few days to get it done.

This is my week to spend in San Simeon this month. Once again, rain is predicted. I hope I luck out like I did last month-- without the gale on Wednesday.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

It's just as well that I hadn't fertilized the roses. As much as it has rained (2" so far) the fertilizer would have run off down the street and into the storm drains and out to sea, compromising the otters. Can't have that.

I did some decluttering yesterday-- not so you'd know it, since it I mostly worked on the rooms that are closed off. Among other things, I unearthed a raft of unread magazines, which I have been working through.

Progress continues on Tom's blue sock. I'm almost to the point where I'll turn the heel.

I rewarded myself for running errands in the rain by visiting the LYS. I picked up several skeins of Felt Me! on sale, and some Colinette sock yarn and laceweight merino at full price. I enjoy going to the yarn store, but it's a pricey proposition.

Friday, February 05, 2010

I should have taken advantage of the nice weather yesterday to sprinkle fertilizer around the roses. We're having a lovely rain today, which could be making it all soak into the ground.

Yesterday, I gave up on the sock I was knitting. I had started it a month ago, and had only gotten halfway to the heel turning. As recommended, I had been using the smallest needle advised for this yarn. In this case, that was a size 0. My intentions were good, but the stitches were so tight that I could barely slide them over the needles, making the knitting much more of a chore than a pleasure. I realized that, while a sock knit bullet-proof on size 0 needles might be more durable than one more loosely made, that would only be relevant if I indeed finished making them. I pulled them off the needles, and restarted them on size 2s. I've already caught up to where I had left off.

Now, I'm off to run errands in the rain.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Yesterday, I finished the moss stitch scarf I was making for FES, and now officially declare all FES-related knitting done for this season.

Last night, I spent in the Sleep Lab. The purpose was to determine whether I have sleep apnea. The tech in charge told me that a) he can't give me a diagnosis, but b) if I showed apnea, he'd fit me with a mask and titrate the dose while I slept, so the ordering physician would have all the information he'd need. The tech woke me up to fit me with a mask shortly before midnight, so I think we have our answer.

It was a miserable night. Mandatory lights-out was 9:30 (I usually go to bed at 11), the room was noisy, cold, and not as dark as I prefer, and I was tied down like Gulliver with about 20 straps and sensors. On the other hand, there's something to be said for being able to breathe while lying on one's back.

Excuse me, now, while I wash the sensor glue out of my hair.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

This morning, I had almost used up one ball of yarn on a scarf when I decided that I didn't have nearly enough. I pulled it all out, and cast on again with ~35% fewer stitches. By the end of the day, I had knit the same ball of yarn, again. This time it's much longer: enough that I'm confident of getting a decent scarf out of the two balls I have on hand.

After eying the mobius on Tsock Tsarina's blog today, I'm pretty sure what I want to do next.

Monday, February 01, 2010

There's nothing to motivate someone to do an onerous task like trying to avoid another task even more onerous. I need to mop the kitchen floor and declutter the kitchen cupboards, so I pruned the shrubs by the front door, instead.

In the interest of full disclosure, the wonky three-fiber yarn I used for the mesh scarf was "Captive" by Kollage Yarns. The weird mohair with the unspun locks was "Cabaret" by Tahki. The mostly wool with some metallic yarn I used for the wiggly scarf was "Soap" by Artful Yarns-- I used the directions for a one-skein skinny scarf on the label, but used two skeins and made it twice as wide (still only 3"). That was finished in one day, so now I'm doing a scarf in a pretty pastel combo in Shakespeare, also by Artful Yarns.

I've used Shakespeare before-- it's an unspun, roving-type yarn. It has no tensile strength to speak of, but it knits up nicely. I'd avoid using it for anything where strength is required. I'm using moss stitch for the current scarf. This will be the last scarf in the current batch of things-to-donate to FES. When it's done, I'll go back to knitting for myself, my husband, and various friends.