Thursday, May 27, 2010

Busy day, about two inches of socks knit after muchos chores and errands. More in a week or two-- I'll be away from my desk until then.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

All day today I felt as if I were cheating. I was doing the task I had assigned myself today, paging through several years' worth of old magazines, in order to tear out the recipes and discard the rest. The effort bought me a couple of feet of shelf space, where the magazines had been. Paging through stacks of magazines felt so much like leisure, though, not like work at all...

The weather today is plum gorgeous. Blue skies, fluffy white clouds: it's one of the good ones.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm paying for my sins today. Usually, when I entertain, rather than spend a few days actually cleaning, I spend a few hours "scooping." That's what I call it when, instead of carefully putting the clutter away, I just scoop it all into boxes and stash it out of sight. Now that my back pain is under control, I've been cleaning up storage areas.

Today, after straightening up the desk in my front room (I can sew!), I set to work on the closet in our home office. To my horror, I found a fruitcake. Who knows how long it has been there; I didn't make fruitcake last year, and I don't remember making it the year before that. It had been chewed to pieces by rodents, who left ample evidence in the box. I didn't sort that one box carefully. Dumping it into the black bin (that's the one that goes to the landfill, not recycling) seemed like the best thing to do with it.

Now I know why fruitcakes are traditionally stored in tins.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tom and I viewed a Simon Pegg film I hadn't heard of before, "Run, Fat Boy, Run." In spite of the title, it's a lovely romance. I'm becoming quite the fan of Simon Pegg.

I have been ever so useful today, what with running errands, gardening, and housecleaning. Not that the place could be photographed for "House Beautiful," but I could have overnight guests again. That hasn't been the case for a few years. Using one's "guest room" for storage has its disadvantages.

The new sock is coming along nicely. I've turned the heel, and am now going up the leg.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I cut my thumb while prepping breakfast this morning. It's not a bad cut, just deep enough to bleed profusely and require a Bandaid. It happens to be in the exact spot a needle hits when I knit, though, so I'm off knitting for the day-- at least knitting with tiny, little needles that fit the cut perfectly. I might look for a project I can do on big needles, which might bridge the cut painlessly, but in the meantime I'm feeling mighty peculiar, watching TV without knitting.

Funny thing about Dr. Who. I can say I can take it or leave it, that I don't follow it, but, when I start an episode, I have to see it through to the end. I might have to start avoiding it actively, in order not to get sucked in.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I didn't do the Whirlpool Socks pattern. I didn't want to do an entire foot of stockinette, and I didn't have confidence that the pattern would swirl as described. I tried to do the Herringbone Rib from the same book, but between my fat fingers and my aging eyeballs, I couldn't manage the stitch. I switched to the other book, and plugged the Yarnover Cable from the five-stitch patterns into my usual sock recipe.

That was the right pattern for this yarn, these needles. While the pattern looks intricate, I had it memorized after one repeat, and my fingers find it completely natural and satisfying. If I hadn't wasted most of yesterday ripping out and redoing the other pattern, I'd have a foot done already.

Didn't spend most of today knitting. Tom was helping a variety of our friends with computer problems, which gave me time to visit while we waited for programs to load and run. Capped off with sushi and seafood, it was a lovely day.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Once I had finished the toe increases on the new sock, I pulled out my go-to sock books, Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch, and Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn by Carol Sulcoski, to choose a pattern. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should specify that I don't really follow the patterns; I plug a stitch into my usual sock formula. It works.) I'm leaning toward the Whirlpool socks from the latter book. I'd be doing them without the beads, due to laziness. I don't have the right beads on hand, and don't want to go out shopping for them. I think it'd be a nice change, though, to have a pattern that doesn't go straight up the leg.

The weather forecast calls for a perfect day: sunny, temperature in the 70s, without the dratted wind we had yesterday. I almost feel guilty for staying indoors.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I finished the Sea Lettuce Scarf tonight, and promptly started playing with it. It's more a toy than a garment, you know. If you fold it lengthwise, it coils into a spring, like a Slinky. If you flatten it out and roll it up, it turns into a sea creature of some sort. It's a hoot. Honest, the reason I knit it in the first place was that I saw someone roll it up. And, when you're knitting it, giving it a half-twist every time you turn the work (as is almost inevitable), it makes a cool double helix. Fun. That's what happens when engineers design knit goods.

Tom had put on Star Trek: The Reboot while I was finishing the scarf, so I found myself in front of a TV with nothing to knit. He offered to pause the movie while I searched the stash, but I didn't want to delay him. I had one project's worth of yarn immediately at hand, so I wound it and cast on.

You know how I've been saying my next project would be in bulky? Didn't happen. The yarn is the same super-fine sock yarn I made Tom's most recent socks out of. Instead of the manly man grey/navy combo I used for his socks, mine will be a more whimsical combo of turquoise, royal blue, and a shade of red that owes a lot to fuchsia. It'll still need size 0 needles and a lot of stitches.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I may not be able to finish the Sea Lettuce Scarf without doing something else in the meantime. While it has become, over time, a simple and relaxing knit, I'm not immune from a) the siren song of all the other yarns in my stash, b) wanting to change directions now and then, and c) wanting to do something that I can finish in a short time, something between a day (that'd be a hat) and a week (that'd be a pair of socks).

I'm not entirely sure a sweater would take longer than this scarf. I've been working on it, on and off, since last August, sure. If I put all the hours in a row, I still think it would come out to a few weeks, and Tom's Christmas sweater didn't take longer than a few weeks.

How can something so ravishing be so dull?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

There's a definite learning curve involved in the Sea Lettuce Scarf. When I started it, last August, it was hard. Not that it was hard in and of itself, but I don't routinely follow patterns, so it was hard to get the hang of it.

Then, I left Oregon, and left my knitting there as well. That was in August. Circumstances forced me to cancel my October trip, so I couldn't pick up my work-in-progress until January. Naturally, I had left the pattern in LA, so I reinvented it as well as I could remember, after a gap of five months. Once I got into the rhythm of it, it was easy, but boring. I had to think about every stitch, but there wasn't much to think about.

By the time I had finished the first ball of yarn (Thank Heaven Sharon gave me an extra half-skein she had on hand; one skein only made it 26" long.), the pattern was second nature, and it is now an official relaxing knit. It just took eight months to get there.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Poor little me. A lens jumped out of my glasses last night. A lens similarly jumped out of Tom's glasses later, so he volunteered to take both pair to the optician to get the lenses cemented in. That leaves me without glasses for the rest of the day.

Now, I'm nearsighted. This means that I can read and knit just fine without my glasses. Since I have a big-screen TV set up about 6 feet from the sofa (a not-uncommon set-up among the nearsighted, I'm sure), I can also watch TV with no problem. What I can't do is drive. Alas, I won't be able to run errands today, poor me. I'll have to stay home, reading, knitting, and watching TV. Shed a tear for me, dear ones.

And try not to envy me too much.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I didn't knit this morning. Instead, I read about knitting. Tom and I celebrated a friend's birthday at a Korean barbecue restaurant. After we got home, I did knit. In four hours, I got two inches done on the Sea Lettuce Scarf. That's a typical rate, actually. Maybe tomorrow I'll go through the stash and decide on the next project.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Had some retail therapy in Montrose today. I bought my first pair (in a few decades, anyway) of expensive shoes on my last trip to Oregon. They're more comfortable than being barefoot, and I wanted more of the same. I found a nice pair of sandals in Montrose, and a few kitchen accessories, and a lace knitting book I can put to immediate use.

I finished Tom's socks, wove in the ends, then wove in the ends of the last two pair of socks I made for myself. Three new pair of socks in one evening, whoopee!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Now that my back pain problem is resolved, at least for the time being, I see that there was an advantage to chronic pain, however slight. If I could, through courage and determination, do the barest minimum of daily activities, it was a victory. I got dressed and washed the dishes? Brava! Did the grocery shopping? Take the rest of the day off, Girl, you deserve it.

Today, I did the grocery shopping, washed the car, cleaned out most of what's left in the front room (a former guest bedroom/sewing room that has been used only for storage for most of the last several years), knit a few inches on Tom's sock, and I'm currently in the middle of doing two loads of dishes (dusty, musty things I rescued from storage) and three loads of laundry (likewise).

As (name comedian of your choice) used to say when he had flown in from the Coast, Boy, are my arms tired.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

This is Gene Robinson's column for tomorrow:

This is my response:

I'm a Latina in Los Angeles who put her passport in her purse as soon as the "breathing while brown" law went into effect in Arizona, in case I can't avoid driving through there. The education laws that have been passed since then are even more offensive, although, as I am a non-resident, they are less likely to affect me directly.

My mom, who passed on this week, was a natural-born citizen whose first language was Spanish. While she learned English as a child (her family were great fans of Shakespeare, and I can still hear my mom reciting Hamlet's soliloquy in our childhood kitchen), she never shook her accent. She had a Master's degree from Cal State Long Beach, but, according to the new law, she would be ineligible to teach ESL in Arizona. Before she retired, she did teach ESL to public high school students in a small town near Los Angeles. They didn't call it that, then; the students had signed up for Spanish, thinking it would be an easy "A." My mom taught them Spanish in the same way an English teacher teaches English. They had to learn grammar, and spelling, and write essays in their native Spanish. They also had to learn to speak and write in English, or there'd be heck to pay. When her school was short of English teachers, she taught that, too, accent or no.

After she retired, and after my father had passed on, she sheltered refugees from the wars in Central America in her big, empty house. She taught them English, and tried to find them lawyers who could get them papers so they could send for their families. This effort was usually futile, as the US government hadn't granted them asylum; they were "illegals." In Arizona today, this would land her in jail, but I'm as proud of her as if she had been a stop on the Underground Railway.

Now that "ethnic studies" classes are banned, Latinos in Arizona will have to learn about their heritage in private, after school and on weekends, as Jews have done for generations.
I expect the new, discriminatory laws in Arizona to be struck down in the courts within months, if they're not withdrawn before then due to economic pressure. In the meantime, my wallet and I will avoid Arizona as much as I can.

Thank you, again, for supporting what's right.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My hair is at that awkward age at which it is long enough to get really mussed and awful in the wind, but not long enough to put in a pony tail. I guess I'm going to have to invest in some headbands.

I had a great time in San Simeon. I was able to work all my shifts, even the six-hour one, without using my walker. Somehow, being pain-free improves one's outlook on life.

In other news, I did my share to keep the yarn store in Cambria in business, as well as one of the bakeries in Solvang, and I'm more than halfway done with the second of Tom's hand-dyed socks.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Tom and I had a lovely day at Disneyland today. We hit the road as soon as we were both awake, so we had a few hours before the crowds got thick. At that point, we went to Rainforest Cafe for lunch, and shopped our way out through Downtown Disney.

Now, I have a ton of chores that have to be done before I leave for San Simeon in the morning. I'm looking forward to the peace and quiet.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Tom and I saw "Iron Man 2" today. Great flick. Ran a few errands, then watched "Hot Fuzz" on DVD. Enjoyed it very much.

Not much knitting. Since the movies were new to me, I watched without needles in my hands.

Friday, May 07, 2010

I put a moment of boredom to good use today. I thought about going shopping, but decided that could get expensive. I thought about going hiking, but my back's still not that robust. Instead, I tackled decluttering my spare room.

In theory, it's a guest bedroom, but no one has slept in it for over a year. Then, when Tom was recovering from surgery and couldn't handle stairs, it took three days to clear it out for him. Since the things I moved at that time I merely moved to the living room, it reverted quickly to its status as storage locker when Tom moved back into the master bedroom. This time, I was determined to actually clean the room, and not merely scoop the mess from one room to another.

I spent six hours at the task, in which time I filled the recycle barrel to the brim, and the trash barrel halfway. I also shelved a bunch of books, and filled a box of things to go to charity. I think I'm about 70% to my goal of having the front room available for overnight guests, or to use as I used to use it, as a combination sewing room and retreat. That'd be nice.

In spite of the above, I've done twice as much knitting, so far today, as I did all day yesterday.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

I got a lot done today, but very little of it knitting. See, I didn't get enough sleep last night. Every time I sat down, I wanted to fall asleep, so I didn't sit down much. I removed an unwanted tree, bathed both dogs, did my chores and ran errands, but didn't have the energy to knit.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Yahoo, yuzu!

I found an unfamiliar fruit in my yard the other day. It turned out to be growing from a neglected sucker on a tangerine tree. A couple of hours on the Internet confirmed that it's yuzu. I like it. That I haven't blogged about it sooner reflects how much time I spent looking up the history and uses of yuzu, and emailing my gardening and foodie friends about it.


I finished the first sock of the pair I'm making for Tom, and finished the toe increases on the second. After several days, the stitch pattern became second nature. Once I didn't have to think about it any more, I liked it a lot better.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

If I liked housework as much as I like gardening, I'd live in an immaculate house.

Yesterday, while contemplating going to the side of the house to deal with some overgrown ivy, I started pulling out some unwanted seedlings. Then, I fetched some tools and a barrel. I went on my hands and knees under some large shrub roses to get at other weed trees, cut the suckers from the roses (even though they were currently blooming and quite pretty), and didn't stop until the front yard was as lovely as it deserves to be, and the barrel was full.

Never did get around to the ivy at the side of the house.

It may have been a tactical error to buy such fine yarn for Tom's new socks. Knitting for a man's big feet on size 0 needles takes a very long time. I knit for several hours yesterday, and made less than two inches progress. Tsock Tsarina made a pair of socks for her dad on size 000 needles; hats off to her. I knit a few wedges on the Sea Lettuce Scarf, too-- about an inch's worth.

When I finish with these, I'm pulling out some bulky yarn.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Boy howdy, I underestimated the true extent of yesterday's laziness. I actually fell asleep in front of the TV, in the middle of the day! Note, I usually don't nap unless I'm sick. Yesterday, I wasn't sick in any way, just bone idle.

I made two or three inches of progress on Tom's sock. I may have chosen badly regarding the stitch pattern; the "pearled rib," instead of looking special in this yarn, just looks like an untidy 2x3 rib. I haven't pulled it out, though, and am not likely to. Either it will look better when it's stretched out on a leg, or it won't. If it doesn't, it's only a sock.

When I got tired of working on the sock, I spent a couple of hours on the Sea Lettuce Scarf. Sharon gave me half a skein of yarn in the same colorway and lot (we bought them at the same time, from the same dealer), so I'll have plenty of yarn to make it a good length. The limiting factor will be my patience.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Yesterday was a lazy day, and today is even lazier.

Yesterday, I slept until 7, watched TV all day, and didn't get dressed until early afternoon. There was a plan in place; since we knew we'd be making a late night of it, everything was taking place a few hours later than usual. Heck, I ate lunch at 5 pm.

Our friend Alan buys a big block of tickets to the Capitol Steps each year. They're a touring comedy group that specializes in political satire. After the show, we go to one of the best pizza parlors in the West. When your dinner reservation is for 11 pm, you want to have lunch late.

The show was funny, as always, and the pizza was superb.

As we didn't get to bed until 2 am, I shouldn't have been surprised to sleep until 9 am. I haven't slept until 9 in years. It was after 10 by the time we got to the farmers' market, but the woman who sells bagels had saved some egg bagels for Tom. The burrito lady was there, so we bought breakfast. She's a really good cook. This is the farmers' market in Encino, on Victory in between the dog park and the skateboard rink, if anyone wants to check it out. I also highly recommend the huaraches, a kind of giant taco sold at another booth there.

The only knitting I did yesterday was turning the heel of Tom's sock. If I had spent the whole day knitting today, I might have finished today, but that's not happening. C'est la guerre.