Monday, January 30, 2006

Breakfast of Champions

Whenever our cat breaks out in typical feline craziness, we tease that he must have had Wheaties for breakfast. After all, it surely takes copious amounts of fuel to chase things we cannot see for reasons we don't understand. Just ask
Delegate Bob.

After Bob's ill-reasoned
HB 187 was defeated last week without debate in committee, you'd think he would have tucked his tail between his legs and crawled under a rock. But no, ever the optimistic bobblehead, he decided he'd approach the legislation of reproductive morality in a different way.

HB 412 - which seeks to prohibit the use of anonymous egg or sperm donations with regard to fertility treatment. Nevermind that gamete donation offers parenting options to millions of people, ranging from single women to gay couples to Delegate Bob's own kind - straight married Catholics. Bob is determined to legislate away the reproductive choices of what he calls "desperate" women. What makes me desperate, Bob, is the very idea that you are in a position to judge anyone's pathway to parenthood.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Progress (or Lack Thereof)

I started my first sweater this past weekend. Well, I should clarify that...while in the car on the way down to Prescott listening to Death Cab for Cutie I swatched for my first sweater. Of course, I forgot to bring my gauge tool or a ruler with me, so it had to wait until we returned home for me to see if it measured on target. Good thing, because I might have thrown it out the car window if I'd measured it on the way home.

Not. Even. Close. So, I decided it would be a good idea to rip out the swatch and retry (What was I thinking? Ah, yes - that it would be "smart" to save extremely kinked up yarn to re-swatch with...), using larger needles. What didn't occur to me until after my fit of frustrated frogging, is that I probably had it right the first swatch, if I'd only washed and blocked it. On the second swatching attempt using the next needle size up, not only was the gauge still not right, the texture of the fabric wasn't right either.

So, it's back to the swatching board for me. How come swatches don't come with an undo/redo button??

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Paint the (Scarf) Red

Today, I finished my second WIP of 2006 - a red scarf that's been languishing in my must-finish-someday pile. Sarah, my terrific pal from SP6, suggested the perfect home for it - the Orphan Foundation of America's Red Scarf Project. Red scarves knitted for the project will be included in care packages for college bound foster children, in an effort to to ensure that young people aging out of the foster care system are encouraged to succeed as adults. The project hopes that for young people without stable families, the scarves will send a powerful message of community, caring, and hope. I'm sure you've got red yarn in your stash. What better excuse do you need to spend a couple of hours turning it into something especially worthwhile?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

7 Hours

Today, my husband walked his first marathon. 7 hours was the cut off time to complete the race and have your time count. I stood at the last turn waiting for him, growing more anxious as each minute ticked by. Group after group passed me, some folks jogging by with little effort as if they had just started to warm up. One elderly gentleman power-walked around the curve, gripping a walker for support. One woman wept as her cramped legs made normal strides difficult. They came in groups, clusters, and one by one - willing themselves and each other to take just one more step, all searching deep inside to find that last bit of energy to carry them across the finish line.

As the clock counted down, my husband rounded the turn. 26.2 miles had taken their toll, but he was still walking with purpose - he was determined to make that 7 hour cut off time. A huge smile broke across his face as he stepped across the line with just minutes to spare. He made it, although not by much, and his time was nothing to brag about. But to me, the fact that he stuck with it, followed through, and finished it at all, IS something to brag about. He is a very tired man. And tonight, I am a very, very proud wife!!

It's Official

In my eyes, the new year doesn't officially start until I've finished at least one knitted project (please ignore the fact that we're already halfway through January). Since I've freshly resolved to fi
nish one old project for every new one I start, I've been feeling the pressure to get knitting.

Hostessing SP7 has been taking up a lot of my knitting time, so last night I sat down to knit, determined not to get up until a project was finished. It's amazing what a solid couple hours of knitting can accomplish!! Here's a look at my Winter Femme hat, stretched over my ever-trusty blocking method of wadded towels atop a wine bottle. Despite having to navigate a couple of errors in the pattern, it was an enjoyable pattern to knit - all in all a great start to the new year!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Secret Pal 7 Questionnaire

Warning - strictly knitting content below...if you don't knit, now's your chance to move along (it's a long post!)
  1. Are you a yarn snob? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand?

    I approach yarn like dating - if it’s not nice enough to take out on a second date, why go out with it in the first place? Life is just too short to knit with yarn you don’t want to take to bed with you.

  2. Do you spin? Crochet?

    I don’t spin – yet. It’s on my list of things I’d like to learn how to do. I can crochet, but have gotten out of the habit of it, and I’m a bit rusty. I am very interested in trying freeform crochet/knitting, and am currently collecting little bits of handspun yarns, or leftovers from novelties, or really any remnants of yarn to use in my first freeform project.

  3. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

    Umm….do WIPs count as needle storage? Right now I have most of my needles stored in a big ziplock bag. I have a straight needle case, but I haven’t gotten into the habit of using it. I like the see-through-ness of the bag – if I can’t see it, I forget I have it. I’m currently on the hunt for a simple, easy storage solution that allows me to easily catalog my needles and other notions.

  4. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

    Advanced beginner to intermediate – I know how to knit scarves, socks, and hats. I can felt a bag, knit cables and have tried my hand at lace. I won’t consider myself a “real” knitter, though, until I tackle my first sweater. As soon as I finish one of my numerous WIPs, I am casting on! Truthfully, I think I could knit 20 years and still consider myself a beginning knitter - to truly know the craft takes a lifetime.

  5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

    Here's a
    link to my Amazon wish list.

  6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)

    I like lavender, citrus, and things that smell like rain. Love Banana Republic's "Classic" fragrance - it's uncomplicated and clean-smelling.

  7. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

    I’m a candy junkie (faves are Sweettarts, Nerds, Smarties, Skittles, Starbursts). I love chocolate, too (although shipping chocolate to the Arizona desert intact might be a challenge). Please don’t send chocolate or coffee with flavored with nuts, though - My husband is very allergic to hazel nuts, brazil nuts and pine nuts (to such a degree that they can’t even enter the house.)

  8. What other crafts or DIY things do you like to do?

    I enjoy pretty much anything crafty (fiber arts, paper arts, etc.). I also work with various metals (silver, copper) forming jewelry/vessels, as well as with glass (stained glass, lampworking).

  9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s?

    I am a music nut and have a bazillion CDs. I like alternative music, some pop, some new age instrumental, some opera. Pretty much anything but hip hop, rap, or country. My computer can play MP3s (I also have an I-pod).

  10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?

    I’m an Autumn child - I love most earth tones and deep jewel tones – particularly brick reds, golds, deep greens, teals and purples. My least favorite shades include bright primary colors and pastels (baby blue, pale pink, mint green, etc.).

  11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

    I'm married to my high school sweetheart; currently no children. I have a polydactyl Maine Coon kitty who's constantly proving that no matter how old he gets, he'll always be a two year old in terms of behavior.

  12. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

    I live in the desert, so sadly, I don’t have much of a need for warm clothing. Inexplicably, that doesn’t stop me from knitting it. Now if it would just get cold enough to show it off….

  13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?

    I prefer knitting with soft, natural fibers (merino, alpaca or silk). I am also crazy about handspun yarns that are textural – the nubbier, slubbier the better. Since most handspun doesn’t carry much yardage, I collect it more than anything - I am usually at a loss as to what to make with it. I am always on the lookout for new handspun/painted/dyed yarns from smaller distributors/farms.

  14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

    I am not a big fan of novelty yarns. I have seen some attractive finished objects made with novelties, but except for freeform knitting/crochet, I prefer not to knit with them myself (yarn should not make a squeaking sound when you touch it). I’m also not fond of most cotton yarns, as the cotton tends to make my hands ache while knitting. While I love self-striping yarns (Noro!), I'm not as keen on self-patterning sock yarns (I never can seem to get the pattern to line up correctly, which inflames my mostly latent OCD-ness). I have difficulty wearing 100% wool next to my skin, although I can (and do!) knit with it without any problems, especially for socks and felting projects.

  15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?

    I’m determined to knit my first sweater, and to have it fit (even if I have to frog it a few times until I get it right)!!!

  16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

    Lately, I’ve been on a lace kick - I have finished a couple of scarves and am starting my first lace shawl soon. I also enjoy knitting bags for felting, and socks.

  17. What are you knitting right now?

    One of my New Year’s resolutions is to finish one WIP for each new project started. We’ll see how long that lasts…I’m already tempted to break it! See my blog for my latest list of WIPs….

  18. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

    Love it!! There is nothing better than receiving a gift that someone put their heart and time into, imperfections and all.

  19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?

    It depends on the project – I am comfortable using either.

  20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

    I'm not a big fan of metal needles unless the project involves a sticky yarn (they're too slippery for me). I prefer rosewood, ebony or bamboo. I just tried Bryspun plastic straights and love the flexible feel of them. I got Bryspun circulars for Christmas, but haven’t used them yet.

  21. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

    I own a yarn winder, but not a swift.

  22. How did you learn to knit?

    I took a class at my LYS.

  23. How old is your oldest UFO?

    Two years. A Fun Fur scarf started before I decided that I hated synthetic yarns. I probably won’t ever finish it.

  24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?

    Jack Skellington from The Nightmare before Christmas.

  25. What is your favorite holiday?


  26. Is there anything that you collect?

    Stationery/office supplies (post its, printed folders, colored pens, notecards, etc.)
    Hand-blown Glass (Radko style) Christmas ornaments
    Things that sparkle, dangle, or look especially cool in miniature

  27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

    Interweave Knits.

  28. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on?

    Books: My knitting library is pretty bare - My SP6 pal gave me my first knitting book (Last Minute Knitted Gifts). So, the field of books I don’t have is wide open.

    Yarns: I have been lusting over Alchemy Haiku ever since I saw sunlight glinting off of it in a little shop in Seattle. I would also like to try yarns from Mystical Creations and Brooks Farm, as well as Koigu, Morehouse Merino and Artyarns Ultramerino.

    Silvia Harding - Diamond Fantasy Shawl
    Silvia Harding - Shetland Garden Faroese Shawl
    Fiddlesticks - Lotus Blossom Shawl
    ChicKnits - Ribby Cardi
    La Lana Patterns - The Wings of the Swan Ruana (as seen in INKnitters Fall ‘04)

    Needles: I’d love to try Lantern Moon ebony needles, but I’m too cheap to buy them for myself. Bryspun or Balene II flexible straights in any size other than 4.

  29. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

    Does how to knit faster so I could finish a WIP some time this year count? If not - I would love to learn the Magic Loop technique for knitting socks. Oh, and how to size the aforementioned sweater. I would also like to try my hand at dyeing some yarn myself.

  30. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

    I do enjoy knitting (and wearing!) socks. I don’t know my exact foot measurements, but I wear a size 6 shoe (foot is approximately 9” long), and I like the cuff to be about 6” high.

  31. When is your birthday?
    August 16.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sic Semper Tyrannis

The title phrase flies proudly on the state flag of Virginia, heralding the victory of the worthy over tyrants. This week, VA state legislator Robert G. Marshall declared himself as worthy, and the feared tyrants: unmarried women wishing to become parents through medical intervention. HB 187 seeks to prohibit the provision of any infertility treatment that "completely or partially replaces sexual intercourse as the means of conception" to unmarried women. The bill prohibits artificial insemination, IVF, even cryopreservation of gametes (so if you're diagnosed with cancer prior to marriage and are weighing the question of whether to freeze your eggs before you face chemotherapy, Delegate Bob has the answer for you.)

This latest attempt at regulating bedroom behavior (or lack thereof) caps off an impressive history of insensitivity by Delegate Bob. He sponsored a withdrawn bill last year would have required mothers to report any miscarriage/fetal death to the police within 12 hours of the delivery or face a possible misdemeanor sentence, and is currently backing a bill declaring civil unions or domestic partnerships "imitations" of marriage.

Should unmarried women seeking artificial insemination or IVF be considered "imitation" mothers, as well? Delegate Bob thinks so. Do you? Please contact your delegate today to have your voice heard.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

And a happy New Year it will be!!!

That is, once I complete all of my outstanding WIPs. I'm at that 'spinning around just staring at all of the unfinished projects' part of the knitting process. My New Year's resolution (at least one of them) is to move past the indecision phase to the actually knitting something phase. Funny, much more gets completed that way.

My current WIPs:

  1. Opera scarf from Blue Sky Alpacas (yes, I'm still working on it!)
  2. Felted Sophie bag (with my first attempt at felted Fair Isle trim, which I just know is going to turn into mush when I wash it)
  3. Cabled hat (which is waiting on the size 5 DPNs I still haven't bought - which merits a trip to the LYS during this weekend's sale!)
  4. Little Shells socks (sock #1 finished, #2 is halfway down the leg - I lost the 5th DPN and hate knitting with only 4 - this is good news - see above)
  5. Basic socks (in Sockotta yarn, which I didn't know I didn't like until I was a good portion of the way done with sock #1. Seems a shame now to rip out a perfectly good pair of socks. Anyone interested in partially finished socks, size 6?)
  6. Sunray lace scarf (I got a little burned out on lace knitting, so it's resting for the moment)

Which brings me current. My goal is to finish at least one of these projects before starting on the next big thing. Which is going to first sweater. I've narrowed down the pattern to Chickami or Soleil. Both look like doable patterns for a newbie sweater knitter. This will be my first attempt at knitting something where gauge actually matters. Which means this time next month I may still be trying to figure out which needle/yarn combination to use. Nonetheless, wish me luck!!