28 December 2006

Y is for...


(What did you expect?!)

In particular, *my* yarn. This has been a very exciting week.. I've been spinning for over a year, but just learned how to ply this summer. And I have yet to actually make anything with anything I've spun & plied. You see, I have this unnatural fear of cutting my plied yarn. I think that somehow cutting it will undo the magic that makes it yarn and it will come all unraveled. But yesterday I had to spin the yarn for the Breed Swap and then *gasp* cut it into 1-yard lengths. The above is a shot of the yarn after a quick dunk to let things relax. I'm happy to report that even though I didn't take a picture, cutting the yarn did not, in fact, make it unravel.

So now I'm all charged to finish the grey merino so I can make something with it. I have one skein plied already and waiting for me to finish the rest. The singles from the second spindleful were on my spindle for so long that they became de-energized and I didn't want to try to ply them that way, so I dunked them to re-energize them.

I'll probably ply this up tonight and then start spinning the last bit left - which might be another full spindleful, but I don't think so. Then I think it will be socks.. it's superwash and I had 4 ounces of it, so I think if I do toe-up socks, that will work out nicely.

And now that the holiday knitting is finished, I'm happily working away on a special request from my "little sister":

These are done in KnitPicks Essential (which means they're machine washable; the last pair of pink socks got accidentally washed and .. well.. yeah) and I'm using one of the six-stitch patterns from Sensational Knitted Socks - waterfall lace. The recipient has tiny little feet, so I'm making them pretty small, but the lace is pretty stretchy, so they should still look good when she wears them.

I'm hoping to deliver these in two weeks and also to pick up the yarn for the largesse project (stockings with clocks from Folk Socks, I think) which will need to be finished by early February. I also need to finish Peek a boo by the end of February.

Oh, and I ordered yarn (Knit One Crochet Too Angora Soft in Moss & Light Moss) from Webs annual year end sale to make Celtic Icon from Inspired Cable Knits, so between that and the two sweater kits I already have, I think I'll have more than enough to keep me busy for awhile!

27 December 2006

X = 2.37


Guess what arrived yesterday?

SQUEE! That is 2.37 pounds of processed Clun Forest lambs fleece. I send just over 4 pounds off to be washed and processed and wasn't sure just how much I'd get back after washing and processing. (See how I worked that into my X post? Aren't I clever? *smug*)

It's much whiter than I expected - the fleece were dirty and still had some guard hair in them when I sent them to Blackberry Ridge, so the color surprised me.

Looks like a lot, eh? Each of those little bundles is about 2.5 to 3 ounces, except the little one on the top. (Jali was very intrigued by the fleece, but once she got a sniff or two, she pretty much left it alone.) It's not so overwhelming when you realize that a full two pounds of it got parceled out into 1 ounce packages to go to the Breed Swap. *smile* I'm a little torn about sending so much of it away, but in seeing just how much an ounce is, I'm equally excited that I'll be getting 32 1-ounce samples of different fleeces like that from the other participants!

Along with the 1-ounce samples, I'm to send 32 locks and 32 yards of two-plied yarn. I held back the fleece I washed to pull the locks, but haven't actually pulled them out yet; I'll do that this afternoon most likely. Spinning the yarn, though, meant I had to get the merino singles that I had on my spindle off:

That is 309 yards of merino singles, which I need to wash to re-awaken the twist so I can ply. In order to figure out how many yards I had, I had to measure my Pex niddy noddy, which turns out to be 80 inches for a full wrap. Slightly larger than a 2-yard niddy noddy, but if I decide I want to make it a 2-yard one, I can cut down the Pex. I didn't measure the small one, but I suspect that it will come in just over a yard.

It also turns out that my estimation of how long it takes me to spin 64 yards of yarn is *way* off. I spun this last night:

It's about 20 yards of singles, or 10 yards of two-ply, out of about .2 ounces. So today I'm working through a .6 ounce chunk (that little ball on top in the pyramid picture), which should give me the yarn I need for the swap. Then I'll pack it all up (in the box that the roving came in, most likely) and run it down to our post office to ship it off to the Breed Swap organizer.

I have about 2.5 ounces left to keep for myself (and I'll get an ounce back when the breed swap supplies come back) and I'm contemplating spinning it up and dyeing it. My friend Carol does period dyeing stuff and I think it might be fun to try some with this fleece. Of course, I might get impatient and try to dye it with Kool-Aid first!

26 December 2006

Once upon a time..

.. in a land far, far away, someone referred to their children as "good little monkeys" when they'd been good and fair and helpful. While I can't remember who it was that originally used the term of endearment, the term itself stuck with me and as such things are wont to do, worked itself into my vocabulary.

One day at work, when asked by a friend and colleague how a meeting run by a usually trying colleague earlier that day had been, I responded that it had been fine and that the usually trying colleague had been a good little monkey. This ellicited, as I'm sure will surprise no one, a look of confusion, prompting me to have to scour the depths of my subconscious to try to determine where I'd picked up the phrase. Later that afternoon, I relayed the story about the phrase of unknown origin to a couple other colleagues and then pretty much forgot about it.

Until this

appeared, along with two like him on my other two ABC print frames. I have no idea when exactly they arrived, and none of those that I remember relaying the story to will cop to putting them there, so they remain a mystery. But it got me thinking about tokens and thank yous and ways to let people know that they're appreciated and in the back of my mind, this idea percolated away until I by chance stumbled upon a game that had pieces very similar to my little monkeys and then it was decided.

I needed to start leaving little monkeys for people who'd done good things.

However, given the sometimes negative connotation associated with monkeys, I decided I needed a way to make sure that the recipients knew they were getting the little monkey because they'd done something good.

Somewhere in there, we hit Thanksgiving and my sister mentioned that she'd been to a craft show with some friends to try to sell some of the cards she makes. We started talking about her making some nice thank you cards* that I could use for work because store bought thank you cards just never seem right to me.

(I got the little insignia stickers from our campus store, but the rest my sister did.) While we were talking, it occured to me that she could also make some little cards that I could use to leave with the monkeys to give some sort of explanation as to why the monkey was being given. I wanted to keep this as anonymous as possible, and to figure out a way to sneak the little monkeys into people's offices and leave them with a little calling card for them to find when they would. Ideally, people would keep the monkeys moving forward - you get one, you notice someone else doing something neat, so you pass it along, etc. The plan was becoming more solid.. I just needed to find out what to put on the cards that would be an explanation without giving away who the monkey was from.

Enter a random blog comment thread, and I knew I'd struck on a way to indicate to folks that they'd done something neat, but since I didn't have $1,000,000, they were getting a monkey instead. So I emailed my sister, who was confused, but humored me anyway:

I'm not sure how often I'll manage to get the little monkeys out there, or how long it will remain more or less anonymous, but I like the idea and the little cards and monkeys are cute and make me happy.

The End.

* My sister also made me some really beautiful personal thank you cards, but I don't have a picture of those yet because they're at home. She does really good work and while her cards are more expensive than if I just bought some from the store, I really would much prefer to give a nice thank you when it's deserved. She made me 24 of the work ones and I think 20 of the personal ones (which are blue and silver).

22 December 2006

W is for Whimsy!

In a fit of .. whimsy .. I decided yesterday to buy two skeins of Cascade 220 and make not only a bucket hat for me, but also for the intended recipient of Peek a Boo. As the latter is a gift, it got made first:

I tried to get a shot modeling it, but the rim is still wet, so it's floppier than I hope it will end up. I also didn't full it quite as much as I might because the recipient has thicker hair and I decided it would be easier to make it smaller if needed than to make it bigger. When it dries, if I'm still concerned about it, I might find a scrap of fleece to line it with.

Mine is already cast on and the brim almost finished. It's dark green, almost black in some light, to match the accents on my winter scarf. I suspect it will be finished tomorrow in time to wear to our first family holiday gathering Sunday.

21 December 2006

Box o' Goodies!

Whee! I got a wonderful box of goodies from my Secret Pal today! Thank you so much, Pal!

It's chock full of fun stuff. The back left corner is a bag of Cadbury caramel truffles.. mine! All mine! In front of that is a snowflake shaped box of bath confetti; I can't wait to try this out - it's toasted almond scent and the little confetti flakes look like snoflakes, too.. this is pr'bly the only way I'm going to get a white holiday this year, so that makes it even better! In front of the bath confetti is a "Bi Tien" handblown, handpainted (from the inside) glass ornament.

It's really lovely and I'm thinking I should pick up one of those little mini shepherd's crook things that will sit on a suface to hang it from because it deserves to be displayed more than just for a few days. The little box it came in is also very neat - it's fabric covered and lined the perfect size to hold small treasures when the ornament isn't using it.

In the back on the right is a spiral bound journal that had two little scrapbook bits tucked inside:

If you click the picture to make it big it will orient properly, too.. not sure why it won't in the thumbnail.. Anyway, the little bits are adorable - the one of the left is three mini skeins of yarn and tiny little knitting needles and the one on the right is a knitting basket with more tiny yarn and needles. I think the journal needs to become a project journal for me - I'm terrible at keeping notes on things I've made and I inevitably end up trying to remember if I followed the pattern exactly or not when I'm making the second sock or sleeve. Maybe a journal will remind me to take better notes..

The real jewels, though, are these gorgeous handmade stitch markers that my Pal made for me. I have to admit, I'm not usually a fancy stitch marker kind of girl, but after seeing these up close and personal, I just might be a convert. I've already got them placed in Peek a boo and they are *SO* much prettier than the little white plastic ones (and they don't dig into my hands when I hold them on the needles). And they really just look so lovely that it makes me happy to see them as I'm knitting. The pink ones are a little smaller (presumably for smaller needles) and just so delicate and the bluegreen ones remind me of bright, sunny skies and the ocean (yes, even with the mitten charm!).

This lovely gorgeous soft lusciousness is baby camel and tussah silk top roving. *drool* It's *so* soft, and the color will complement the camel down that I got at the state fair, I think, so I can't wait to spin them both up and contemplate something truly luscious to make with them. I keep sticking my hand in the bag to pet it and it's really gorgeous stuff. Definitely motivation to dedicate a day to spinning as a New Years Resolution!

The little splash of color in the top photo that stretches across the roving is a set of four (three now) flower suckers. They're very cute and quite tasty!

Thank you again! It's all wonderful and made this grey dreary day so much brighter!!

I'm working from home today.

I wasn't originally planning to, but I woke up and didn't want to get out of my snuggly warm bed and started thinking about what I had to do today and that I didn't have any meetings I needed to be in the office for, and decided that I had a much better chance of actually being productive on the things I have to do if I work from here. It's a bit odd, I admit, but I've found that if I have to write and/or edit long-ish reports, I can't focus on them in my office and it drags out interminably and the end result is almost always spotty and choppy and generally not my best work. However, doing the same tasks from home usually results in more coherent, well written work. I think this is a throw-back to when I was in grad school because I wrote all my papers at home and there's some mental switch that is stuck in a position where "home == writing" and "office == productivity". No, they're not mutually exclusive - I write short memos and newsletters and reports in my office all the time, and I can be equally productive with data no matter where I am - but for longer reports, that's how it seems.

(For the record, my lovely new very comfy chair was an early birthday gift from Jack. We tend to spend a lot of time hanging out in the den this time of year listening to audiobooks and I didn't have a really comfy chair to sit in up here, so he got me this one. It's a glider rocker & recliner and I love it. This is the chair that I most often knit in lately, as evidenced by the proximity of the ball winder, the back of Peek a Boo draped over the chair, and the ball of yarn in the seat. That paper over the radio is the bucket hat pattern Jack got me from Chic Knits, and underneath it behind the tissue box are leftover skeins from a few projects back. Tucked in behind the chair where you can't see it is my felt knitting bag which has the in-progress front of Peek a Boo and a smallish stack of knitting books, including Inspired Cable Knits, Sensational Knitted Socks, Folk Socks, the Tied Up Tee pattern, and the latest copy of Interweave Knits.)

It doesn't hurt that it's a grey, rainy, foggy day, either. A day like this in my office feels oppressive; at home, it's just encouragement to snuggle in. *shrug*

20 December 2006


So yeah.. I've been busy. And sick. And haven't been doing any knitting.

But I did make Massaman curry last night to bring in for a potluck at work today (without the chicken so that it's vegetarian; if I'd used coconut milk instead of heavy cream, it would even have been vegan!). I hope it turned out okay.. it's not quite the color I was expecting - more yellow than I'm used to. I used to order Massaman Curry from the Snail all the time when I lived in Chicago and there's is more brown.. maybe they add more peanuts or some satay sauce.. I'll have to keep experimenting. I also brought in some of that microwave-in-bag rice so that I wouldn't have to worry about how to heat up two things for a potluck.

So, yeah, no knitting means that the last intended holiday gift (Peek a boo) isn't getting done. This is not so tragic - I was able to find a gift that I'm just as happy to give, and now I'm more than half way finished with a birthday present. And it's been nice not to have to spend every waking minute knitting, I must admit. I'm torn on what to start next, though.. I have socks for MJ and my bucket hat pattern and socks for me and a some lovely merino fleece to spin.. decisions, decisions.

Speaking of (or at least mentioning) spinning, I'm contemplating dedicating a "day" to spinning, ala Stephanie. Mine won't likely be Tuesdays, but instead maybe Saturdays. Jack games Saturday nights, unless we have other plans, so that might be a good time to dedicate to spinning. I'll have to start stocking up on good movies to spin to. And at some point I would like to get somewhere that I can try some wheels so I have a better idea of what I do and don't like, but given that I can't afford to buy a wheel yet, that's pr'bly not urgent.

Right then.. off to stir the curry and try to get some stuff finished for my meetings this afternoon.

13 December 2006

What I got for my birthday.

My birthday started with an unexpected gift from an anonymous benefactor:

In case it's not clear from the blurry picture, my right eye felt slightly gummy last night at bed time, but I assumed it was due to spending several hours in the car, which usually dries my eyes out a bit. I woke up at about 4 this morning and the eye was crusted shut. I have no idea how or where, but some time in the past few days I was apparently exposed to a bacteria that causes pink eye. Ugh.

I've never had this particular affliction before and I wish I'd been able to live out my days without this experience. I now have antibacterial eye drops that I'm to use three times a day, but at least for the rest of today, my eye is likely to remain gummy and crusty and just generally unpleasant.

In an effort to try to make things not so bad as we made coffee and gathered together some necessary survival bits (e.g., holiday knitting) in case we had to wait a long time at Urgent Care (we didn't), Jack decided I should open one of my presents from him (lest you think the rest of my family neglectful, my parents and sister bought me my drum, which I actually took possession of a few months ago).

This is a print from Ursula Vernon. Some of you may recognize the style from the ABC prints that are in my office - same artist. I really like her stuff. This guy's a wombat, and he's one of her signature pieces. The print is exquisite and it certainly helped brighten the morning.

As I mentioned, Urgent Care let me down - I got absolutely no knitting done while waiting because there was no waiting. I was in an out with a prescription in less then 15 minutes. When I came out, Jack mentioned that he thought he was starting to show symptoms, too, so in he went. Today is also Jack's last day of classes, so I was a little concerned about him going to class if he did, in fact, have pink eye (if he does, it's not showing nearly so blazingly as mine, but he does have a 'scrip just in case), but since we were already in town, he decided to go to his first class and then take me home. Rather than try to deal with being in the office, I opted to hang out in the car in the parking lot while he was in class, and managed to finish the second Father sock:

No, I haven't started the front of Peek a boo, yet, but I figured I have options if Peek a boo doesn't get finished, but half a pair of socks just wouldn't cut it. And thanks to my anonymous "benefactor" it looks like I'll be home the rest of this week (despite what your child care places might tell you, pink eye is contagious until the eye is clear again; I work on a college campus and it's finals.. something tells me that this is *exactly* an appropriate time to use my sick leave), so I'm pretty sure that I should have Peek a boo back on track soon. My only lingering concern about it now is running out of yarn.. I had 17 skeins, the back took somewhere over 5, so I'm hoping the sleeves are lots smaller than the back. They should be.. right?

When we got back home, Jack had me open my other birthday present:

These little guys are the Felt Sheep Kit from Fiber Trends and they've been on my wishlist for a couple years - just as a cute little whimsy bit. Jack decided that after the stress of the fall, whimsy was in order. Hee! I can't wait until after the holidays to make them. Sheep!

I'm contemplating a nap (rather than try to go back to sleep, I simply got up at 4 and did some stuff for work and such.. I at least waited until after 5 to send any emails, though!), but want to wait until I do my next round of eye drops. Guess it's time to cast on for the front of Peek a boo!

10 December 2006


Assuming I'm going to finish the last holiday gift on time, I determined that I needed to finish the back by the end of this weekend:

I have a groove in my left fore finger from tensioning the yarn and an odd little numb spot on the side of my left ring finger where I grab the needle, but it's finished. There's more arm hole shaping than it appears - there's a column of reverse stockinette that's curling up on itself in the picture.

I'm at least a few hours ahead of schedule, and given what else I need to finish, that's good. To stay on schedule for completing Peek a boo, I figure I need to have the front finished by the end of next Saturday and the sleeves finished by the end of the following Friday, leaving Saturday for seaming and blocking.

In between times (hah!) I also need to start and finish the other Father sock, and make the ties for the Tied Up Tee. I'm a bit torn on the best way to do the ties, though. I think that I-cord will be more time consuming than it's worth, so I might try to do them on the lucet, which I think I can manage to do while attending an all day meeting on Tuesday.

06 December 2006


Someone (if I look I can pr'bly find who)(Aha! It's MimKnits! And now I must go ask her where to find the pattern for the monkey!) on my blog roll has a countdown to the solitice. This is a Good and Noble Thing(tm) (or is that s'posed to be a Right and Proper Thing(tm)?) - not for any religious* reason, but because that's when the days will finally start getting longer again.

But that's not really the point. It's the countdown bit that's the point. Because I've reached that part of the holiday gift knitting where I'm counting down until it's done** because I want to move on to other projects*** that are not holiday gifts (some of them are gifts, just not gifts with a deadline, per se). Not because I'm not enjoying the gift projects, I'm just feeling .. confined.

* I'm atheist. I believe that there are forces at play in this world - natural forces such as the gravitational pull of the moon - the have effects on how things happen, but I don't believe in predetermination or that any of those forces are sentient. I've tried to figure out if this means I "lean" toward one or another nature-based "religion", but I've given up. If you care to have a theological discussion about it, go for it, but don't expect you'll change my (or anyone else's) opinion on the matter. *shrug*

** For instance, I have half my last pair of holiday gift socks finished, which means I have half left to do - 1 sock still to complete. All but the ties for the Tied Up Tee are finished, which means I have two short (about 3/4 yard) and one long (about 2 yards) i-cord ties to complete. I'm about a third of the way finished with the back of Peek a Boo,

which means I have.. a lot left to go. And three weeks to do it in. You'd think that having started holiday knitting back in September, I wouldn't be in this position. (Admittedly, I have completed three full adult sized garments, one child garment, a pair of kids socks and half a pair of adult socks since then, but *still*!)

*** Like the Felted Bucket hat for which my darling boy just bought me the pattern (it's an early part of my birthday present). I have leftover Knit Picks Merino Style from the Fair Isle 101 sweater that I'm contemplating using to make this hat, but I can't start it until after the holiday knitting is finished (but it's darned cold out there this week!). Or the pink socks for MJ, which I really would rather do because I can do a more interesting pattern (that I haven't knit four**** times already) *and* because the girl needs pink socks already! Or the largesse stockings with clocks.. or other fun socks for me.. or I could work on the sweater kit I got *last* birthday/holiday.

**** Yes, four. I made the first child sock in the toddler size which was far too small.

05 December 2006

V is for Visitor, Redux.

It seems our little falcon has found some good hunting in the circle outside our student union. We saw him this afternoon enjoying what appears to have been a pigeon.

We got to sit and watch him for some time, and I'm almost positive he is, in fact, a Peregrine Falcon. Now that I know he's out there, I'll have to keep an eye out for him. Though he might have better luck if he ate squirrels instead..

04 December 2006

U is for Unexpected Visitors

The keen eyes of a co-worker spotted this little guy hanging out in one of the trees outside our office windows this morning.

I think he's a falcon, but I'm not 100% sure. He's awfully small to be a hawl, unless he's a juvenile, but even for that, it's awfully late in the year for a juvenile still so small. He's also got more white on his tummy than I'm used to the hawks and eagles around here having.

He looks an awful lot like a Peregrine Falcon, but they're endangered in WI, so I'm hesitant to believe that's what he is, especially since I think this guy's got too much white on his tummy. But this area has apparently been the site of at least one releasing in the last 15 or so years, so it's possible.

03 December 2006

Insert clever post title here.

I'm sure I did something this weekend other than knit, but in all honesty, the knitting is all I have to show for it.

That would be none other than the Tied Up Tee, finished by for the ties and blocking. The color in this picture is pretty much all wrong - the red is far too bright and the towel underneath it is actually forest green, but it was this or a shot that is too washed out to see anything. I machine washed it and originally machine dried it, but it tightens up quite a bit that way. Fortunately, wetting it stretched it out again to the proper size, but I'll have to be sure to include a note so the recipient knows not to machine dry it.

I really like how well the neckline on this one turned out, and in general I'm still rather fond of the shaping in this line. It's a pattern in the "shapely" series from White Lies Designs. The only pattern bit that I'm still a bit troubled by (and it's not just this pattern) is that there seems to be more bulk under the arms where the sleeves join the body than there should be. It's almost as if the top of the sleeve cap is just a smidge too long - or maybe too narrow - and it causes some bunching on the underside or something..

The ribbon yarn is a little scratchy to me, but I'm hoping it will soften with wear and washing. I'm tempted to try to run it through the wash another time or two to see if that will help to soften it before I gift it, but I don't want it to look used. :/

With Tied Up mostly done, I've cast on (and am actually half through the first repeat now) my last holiday garment. I'm using Knit Picks Shine Sport in Sky and so far I'm rather fond of it. It's very soft and has a beautiful hand, but the cables should still pop quite well. I'm really liking the color for this one as well - it's enough to give it shading that the white model lacks, but not overpowering.

It's a slippery little yarn, though, so I'm having a hard time settling on proper tension - the cables mean the tension should be a little looser or I have a hard time making the crosses, but I don't want it to be so loose that it stretches out when it gets washed. I'm hoping the 60% cotton will help combat some of that. It also splits pretty easily, which so far hasn't been too much of an issue with the cabling, but is another reason to try to keep things a little more loose than I might want.

The yarn is also pretty light, which is a little surprising given that I'm used to high cotton content yarns being rather heavy for their bulk. If this one turns out as well as I'm hoping, this might be a yarn (or at least a fiber combination) that I can use to make sweaters for Jack out of (he's allergic to animal fibers and we've not had the best of luck with either acrylic or 100% cotton for sweaters for him).

I even sat down and knit up the swatch of Cotton Fleece I used to make an earlier gift so I could wash it and provide appropriate warning for how much it might shrink (Color in the second shot is accurate). As I'm told is usual for cotton yarns like this, the shrinkage is much more noticeable in the length and in the width - and it's substantial! It shrank just about 3/4 inch over an original 4 3/4 inches, which is almost 16%. So the warning will be either not to machine wash/dry, or to know that it will lose about 15% of the length. I suspect the latter won't be that big of a deal, so it might be what the recipient opts for.

01 December 2006

What are you wearing today?

Support World AIDS Day

Today, December 1st, is World AIDS Day. Personally, I think it should be World AIDS Awareness Day, but won't quibble about semantics.

It's an annual reminder for me. Too easily, too frequently in my life, I skate through days, weeks, even months without ever stopping to think about the terror that is AIDS. I could, now that I'm thinking about it, spout statistics or case studies of countries in Africa, or point everyone to Respectful of Otters - written by a psychologist in an AIDS clinic - but Rivka's been a tad preoccupied with L'il Critter lately to be posting that much.

Instead, for those of you who don't know, I'll tell my tale. It's not terribly dramatic or frightening or brave or even sad. I've been extraordinarily lucky that none of my close family or friends have contracted HIV or died of complications related to AIDS. But there was a time when I was much more active in the AIDS service community. A time when I was living in Seattle, in a monogamous heterosexual relationship. A time when I wanted to do something more to help than assist at fundraisers for the Northwest AIDS Foundation (now, the Lifelong AIDS Alliance, created when NWAF and Chicken Soup Brigade merged in 2001).

A time when I volunteered, through the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington Hospitals, to participate in a double-blind, experimental HIV vaccine trial. The vaccine being tested had completed all stages of animal testing and they were recruiting for people to participate in an 18-month Phase I human trial. This is the first human testing for any drug, and they're primarily looking to evaluate the safety of the drug when given to healthy subjects.

I was an ideal candidate for them - I had none of the risk factors associated with contracting HIV - which was rare given that many people interested in participating are interested because HIV and AIDS has direct implications for them or their loved ones.

HIV vaccines aren't like typical oral or shot vaccines. In most regular vaccines, the vaccine is actually a severely weakened form of the virus itself - strong enough to elicit an immune response, but too weak to mount an attack on your system. Because HIV is so dangerous, though, vaccines have to be constructed differently. The particular kind of vaccine used in the trial I was in was a DNA based vaccine where a small piece of HIV DNA was created - a piece without the capability to reproduce itself, but hopefully with enough of the genetic characteristics of actual HIV to prompt my body to start producing antibodies.

The trial, in and of itself, was simple. It involved several blood draws and four injections of either vaccine or placebo. Neither my clinician nor I knew whether I would get vaccine or placebo - that's the double-blind part - until the study was unblinded at the end. Blood draws were usually multiple tubes drawn from my arm. Tubes were sent to various research centers around the country, including UPenn and Johns Hopkins, where they maintained living blood lines for each of the participants. My blood was tested at each draw for signs of antibodies using a standard HIV antibody test, and also for signs of the virus itself with a Western Blot test. The hope was that the vaccine would first and foremost not be dangerous or have any unbearable side effects and also produce an antibody response independent of exposure to the virus.

At the end of the 18 months, I was getting ready to leave Seattle for graduate school in Chicago. I found out during my last visit with my clinician that they wanted to give participants boosters of the vaccine and continue monitoring them because immune response had been less than what they'd hoped for. Because there is not an HIV Vaccine Unit in Chicago, however, I had to withdraw and did not get the booster.

Almost two years later, I got an email from my clinician with the unblinding information. I'd received 3 mgs of the Apollon DNA vaccine on 01/06/99, 02/03/99, 03/03/99 and 06/29/99.

Practically, there's been no lasting effect on my physical person from participating in the trial. The only point of any concern is that it's not known if, for some bizarre physiological reason, my body may at some point start producing antibodies in response to some bit of the vaccine that was dormant, but that's a very far stretch. All the same, I have an ID card from the National Institutes of Health that identifies me as a participant in an experimental vaccine trial should I ever test positive on an HIV antibody test. At that point, NIH would come in and run a Western Blot (which tests for the actual virus, not just the antibodies and therefore usually takes longer to get results from) to ensure that I don't actually have HIV. But, as I said, the possibility is so small it's almost not worth mentioning.

Psychologically, the effect has been somewhat muted. Many people react to hearing this tale with something akin to awe tinged with a fair amount of fear. I don't see my participation as anything particularly brave or outstanding. I wasn't in any danger, I was just one of many participants nation-wide in a much larger study, in an even larger drug-testing system. Even if, years from now, a viable vaccine is found that can trace some portion of it's evolution to the one I received, my contribution was infinitesimally small. *shrug*

So why then, you may be wondering, am I bothering to talk about it now? Part of it is reminiscence on my part.. Part of it regret that I'm no longer active in the AIDS service community.. Part of it is to demonstrate that you don't have to be directly effected by something to work toward resolving it. And still part of it I can't quite explain, other than that however small, it stands as my most significant contribution to fighting the spread of HIV and AIDS.

28 November 2006

I'm a sucker for a fellow researcher..

To steal blatantly from Cate because I'm almost entirely brain dead at the moment:

So there's this guy who's doing a panel at the MLA, and he's checking to see how a meme or, depending on how you look at it, a chain letter, moves through the blogosphere. We knitters have a rather populous corner of the blogosphere, and one that I think routinely buffaloes those who attempt to study blogs and blogging. Who are all these knitters and what do they want? (Wool.) If blogging is concerned with social change, what the hell are all these people doing talking about yarn? (We'll get back to you when the plans for world domination are available in pdf format.)

Anyway, Jody explains it all in a way that is far more interesting and complete than I have the patience for, but do please play. All you need to do is mention and link to the project, beg ask others to participate, and then ping technocrati. Let's show the MLA a little knitting mojo, eh?
Now go out and propogate thyself on the world.

27 November 2006

"It's been one week since you looked at me.."

I had a longer than usual long weekend due to the added bonus of today off. That is undoubtedly the reason I've mostly "caught up" with the holiday knitting.

I've finished the back and one sleeve of the Tied Up Tee and have the other sleeve about a third done. The pieces are a little wonky in the pictures because they curl really terribly so it's difficult to get them to lie flat for pictures.

My camera has decided to switch itself inexplicably into "no flash" mode and I haven't had the motivation to switch it back, which might be for the best with the Rowan River Tape. I apparently can't hold still while taking pictures though, so the first two are a bit blurry. The last one has both the best stitch definition and the best color.

I'm hopeful to have the second sleeve finished by this weekend so I can block all the pieces and sew it together this weekend. That will leave just one more garment and one last sock to do in the last twenty-something days of December. Should be do-able.

26 November 2006

T is for..

Tupperware. And Thanksgiving leftovers. But mostly tupperware (and at least one Pyrex). Even when it's not tupperware, but instead some other more easily available imitation. I usually package up the leftovers from our dinners to take in as lunches since we usually don't eat as much as we make and it's cheaper to take leftovers than buy frozen lunches.

The one on the top left is the Pyrex and has leftover sloppy joe meat from dinner Wednesday. The one below that and at least one of the two in the next stack are leftover chicken & rice from dinner a week or so ago. The one that's not chicken & rice is leftover pasta and sauce from dinner last Saturday.

The other five are all soup with dumplings* made from fresh turkey stock (made from the carcas from Thanksgiving plus the carcas from a turkey we made about a month ago and a small chicken from longer ago) yesterday. The four little ones on top are mostly broth from the same soup that will likely get used in other things rather than eaten as broth or soup.

The soup is more or less usual for us for the days following Thanksgiving, but it was a little more welcome this year than usual because Jack ended up with a pretty debilitating head cold Wednesday & Thursday. We slept at least 12 to 14 hours Thursday into Friday, and at least 12 hours each Friday & Saturday nights, which seems to have mostly knocked out the cold and prevented me from getting it.

* Jack's family makes what he calls "knifla", which is essentially a larger version of spaetzle, as dumplings. They're pr'bly the best dumplings I've ever had and I really love soup with them. It's basically a very wet "dough" made from eggs and flour and then cut with a knife into the simmering broth. They soak up the flavor from the soup and the longer they sit in the soup, the better they are, so the leftovers are usually far better than the soup on the first run (which isn't bad itself).

25 November 2006


Cathy asked what the Breedswap project that I did the Clun Forest research for was. In a nutshell, it's a project being run by some folks on the Spindlers YahooGroups list to create for the participants a resource notebook that will contain research and fiber samples from 32 different breeds. The following is from the introductory email announcing the project and inviting participants:

Here's what you will be expected to contribute:

1) An information sheet on the breed you are signed up for. I will collect the information and have them printed and copied so all the sheets in the notebook will have the same format. See below for the information required. Please be as complete as possible.

2) For each participant, an envelope with one yard of yarn you have spun, and one lock of *washed* fiber. The lock of fiber should NOT be carded or combed. With full participation, this will be 32 yards.

3) For each participant, a baggie containing one ounce of washed fiber. (This may also be prepared by carding or combing, but it isn't necessary.) With full participation, this will be 32 baggies.

4) Money for expenses; $10.00 per person to cover postage, copying costs, the cost of notebooks and index pages.

5) Optional: a picture of a sheep of the breed you were assigned.

Here's what you will end up with:

1) A printed copy of each sample sheet with a lock of fiber and a piece of yarn attached. You will receive these in a notebook with a printed cover and printed indices.

2) A set of baggies with one ounce of fiber to spin for each breed represented in the swap.
Each participant volunteered for one or more breeds they'd be willing to research and contribute the fiber for, and based on what people were willing to contribute, the organizers assigned the following breeds: Polwarth, CVM, Perendale, Navajo Churro, Corriedale, Jacob, Blue Faced Leicester, Icelandic, Cotswold, Romney, Ramboulliet, Gotland, Cormo, Montadale, Cheviot, Shetland, Clun Forest, Lincoln, Gulf Coast, Border Leicester, Finn, Leicester Longwool X, Hog Island, Dorset, Columbia, Suffolk, California Red, Polypay, Coopworth, English Leicester, Merino, and Targhee. I don't know all of those, but thanks to Carol, I now have a copy of In Sheep's Clothing, so I'm planning to read up on some of the ones I don't know before the binders are complete.

And at the moment, I'm behind in getting the fleece prepared. I have the washed locks, they just need to be sorted and put into baggies. I sent the fleece to be processed and didn't hear anything from the mill for several weeks. When I called to inquire that they'd at least gotten the fleece, they told me it would be about another month before they could get the processed fleece back to me. Assuming they stick to that estimate, I should be fine. If they push for more time then, though, I'm going to have to figure out where to get two plus pounds of processed Clun Forest fleece on very short notice. *sigh*

20 November 2006

How do you spell "relief"?


It's a terrible picture - washed out, off color and slanted because I took it from the side of the bed - but it's the front of the Tied Up Tee, wet and pseudo-blocked. It measures 19 inches across the bottom hem (not counting the curve) and 12 inches from hem (not counting the curve) to the start of the arm hole. The only measurement that's not to the letter is the arm hole - it comes in at 9 inches instead of 8 - but that's the one that's most easily adjusted.

Edited to add: I just went to wind a new skein of the Rowan River Tape so that I could use the remains of the two partial skeins to do the arm split on the back and realized that the front of the Tied Up Tee took about 2.5 skeins. Assuming the back will take slightly more and that each sleeve will take slightly less, I should have as many as four spare skeins (I have 12 total) once I'm finished.. Which means I can pr'bly make the Mikado Ribbon Gloves (after the holidays, that is). Neat.

I wet blocked Breezy Cables while I was at it and it stretched out enough, but hopefully not too much. I'm still torn on whether I should machine wash it before I gift it, just to be sure it won't do anything odd the first time it's washed, but at the moment I'm taking it in small steps.

Also added: I'm also contemplating using some green merino stuff I got awhile back in a trade to make a scarf of some sort for a silent auction for HCWR, but I'd have to find a good lace scarf pattern that's not Branching Out as I made one of those in some yellow merino stuff last year for this auction.

19 November 2006

Gauge woes..

I finished the first of the father socks...

This is a good and fine thing. Assuming that my gauge with this yarn has now stabilized. Because in examining the son pair, I discovered that my gauge was apparently noticeably tighter for the second sock..

Fortunately, I will have enough of this yarn left after finishing the second father sock to make another son sock if I decide that the difference is too noticeable to give the pair as a gift. It's not really noticeable unless you have them one on top of the other, specifically with the smaller one on top and then you notice that it's about half an inch shorter and about a quarter inch narrower. *sigh*

This may be due to the issues I was am having with the Tied Up Tee. I've decided, however, to proceed with completing the front (I'm working on the shoulders and should finish the front tonight) and then blocking it, and possibly washing it, to see how it wears. I *think* I have enough of the yarn that if I decide after blocking/washing, I need to remake the front to different specs, I'll have enough. Maybe.

But I'm remaining optimistic that remaking the front won't be necessary because that would put me rather farther behind on the holiday knitting and I've been doing so well on that so far that it'd be a shame to tarnish such a good year.

I also got buttons for Breezy Cables, but I think I'll block it first. I'm trying to decide if I want to actually block it or just throw it in the wash (it's washable wool) so I can see how it will wash before I give it to the recipient. I'm alternatively afraid that washing it will stretch it out *a lot* and that it will shrink it (wool in the washing machine.. *shudder*), and I'm even moderately concerned that washing it will have no effect at all because I do want it to stretch out *a smidge*.
*sigh* One of these days I'll be a really good knitter.

14 November 2006

Clun Forest Research for Breedswap

Right then, as promised (and do please remember I did admit that this wasn't the *best* example of my scholarly work!)..

1) BREED DESCRIPTION. This should include a description of what the sheep in this breed look like and their genetic composition.

Clun Forest originated as a breed in southwest Shropshire, near the forest whose name it bears, descending from a variety of mountain and moorland sheep that ranged over an area that has been described as one of the wildest and most desolate regions in England up to the middle of the 16th century. Their ancestors were commonly small and reddish brown in color with prominent eyes and may originally have been bred by pastoral or semi-nomadic shepherds as many as 1,000 years ago.

As the English economy shifted away from wool production toward more demand for meat in the mid-19th century, commercial flocks were often drained of breeding stock, which shepherds often replaced by introducing mountain ewes to their flocks. This practice resulted in vast genetic diversity in the modern breed, and is likely responsible for the continuation of those attributes which make the Clun Forest so desirable – adaptable, hardy, prolific, and content to forage for the bulk of its food. By the mid-20th century, Clun Forest was the third most numerous pure breed in Britain.

Clun Forest were first imported to the American continent in 1970 by Tony Turner, who brought in 2 rams and 39 ewes from Ray Williams, and sheep from Tony’s first flock were purchased by United States breeders at the 1973 Nova Scotia Sheep Fair in Truro. North American acceptance of the breed, however, was slowed by the lack of University sponsorship & promotion and a general lack of interest in grassland farming. Nonetheless, Angus Rouse of Nova Scotia secured two additional importations of Clun Forest after Tony which helped secure the breed in North America. In recent years, severe restrictions on the importation of livestock from overseas have prompted breeders to import Clun Forest semen from Europe in order to expand the genetic base of American flocks.

The first documented description of the modern Clun Forest breed is from the middle of the 19th century and describes them as white-faced and hornless. More recent descriptions, from the breed’s “Golden Age” between 1950 and 1970, reference the distinct woolen top knot, brown face with wide-set eyes, and small-to-medium ears held upright. The breed has changed little since its Golden Age, though modern Clun Forest may have slightly higher-set ears and darker brown faces. The typical Clun Forest ewe weighs between 130 and 160 pounds, with rams only slightly heavier – between 175 and 200 pounds.

The standard for Clun Forest as determined by the North American Clun Forest Association is as follows:

Head and Face
  • A clean open faced sheep ranging from tan to black; top of head nicely covered and free from dark wool.
  • Not to long and carried high.
  • Strong, muscular neck, lengthy good back, deep rib, strong loin, good hock, deep and well-rounded thighs, good through heart, strong bone, standing square on its legs.
  • Fairly free from wool from hock and knee down.
  • A tight fleece, fine texture, free from kemp and dark or gray wool.
  • A nice pink or red skin, free from black or blue spots.
A sheep which meets you with a good head and a bold walk, that stands squarely on its legs, with plenty of heart girth and a good constitution.
2) FIBER CHARACTERISTICS: This should include, as a minimum, staple length and crimps per inch. Also include diameter or count (if known), whether the fleece you are using came from a lamb, hogget or mature sheep, and whatever else you can think of.

Clun Forest fleeces – usually about 6 to 8 pounds when mature – are considered the finest fleece produced in Great Britain. They are consistent from neck to britch, with little or none of the variance common among other fleeces. Fleeces are essentially free from black or kempy fibers and are easily worked by handspinners, especially beginners, due to their density and uniformity.

Average staple length: approximately 4 inches
Crimp: Tight, irregular; well developed; elastic; extremely springy
Spinning Count: 46s to 54s (USDA wool grade); 58s according to some sources
Diameter: 28-33 microns

The wool in this sample is from two lamb fleeces (combined grease weight of approximately 4.5 pounds) sheared in late summer 2006 at Bets Reedy’s farm just outside of Money Creek, MN.

3) METHOD OF PREPARATION: What do you think is the best method of preparation for this breed - carding, combing, or commercial.

I found little information on preferred methods of preparation for Clun Forest fleeces and as I did not prepare the fleece for this project myself, can add no significant personal insight. An article written by Jane Fournier for the Fall 1993 issue of Spin-Off Magazine indicates that hand carding and drum carding are usually more efficient than flick carding and combing. Jane recommends a fine drum (320 points per inch) to avoid neps.

I also found the following account posted by Cindy W. on the Yarnspinners blog, which I found informative:
The sample I worked with was a washed off white fleece. It had a large amount of VM in the sample. The wool had a soft hand with a very springy feel to it.

This fleece was surprisingly easy to comb or card. It seemed perfectly suited for my small hand held combs, coming off in a very nice top. Since I had seen in other fibers that fleece that combs well often does not card well, that was what I expected. But I was very surprised to find that Clun Forest also carded up into lovely batts with my hand held cards.
4) SPINNING TECHNIQUES: What special techniques, if any, are recommended for this breed?

Other than several statements about the superiority of Clun Forest fleeces for handspinners, there was little information available recommending any specific spinning technique. Again in Jane’s 1993 article, she mentions that Clun Forest fleeces lend themselves well “to traditional woolen-spun yarns. . . [and] results in a very bouncy, lofty, and slightly irregular yarn.” When spun “from a parallel preparation using a short draw, the lively and amphatic crimp results in a slightly fluffy, irregular yarn with a flat, chalky surface . . . [that] is lightweight and has great life and body, in contradiction to its dense appearance.” Finally, Jane notes that Clun Forest can be blended “with less-elastic fibers” such as kid mohair, alpaca, llama, or tussah silk “to produce yarns with body and bounce.”

Cindy W. from the Yarnspinners blog compares the yarn resulting from combed top and carded batts as follows:
Combed top: This was a delight to spin. It drafted easily into a long draft, and gave a nice smooth fine yarn. The only thing I observed was that it was such a smooth yarn, that it was difficult to make joins, when I started a new piece of top. I also noticed that this fiber needed a high twist, and that it really was unwilling to hold the twist. I especially saw this when I was plying, that the thicker areas in the singles were almost unspun. It was also interesting to observe that the yarn really expanded once there was no tension on it. I measured this sample of yarn as 15 WPI. It was a very generous, 25 yard sample.

Carded batts: I used more twist while spinning this. I tried two types of drafting, a moderate drafting zone gave a thicker yarn, with the neps often disappearing right into the yarn. An inchworm draft gave a much thinner yarn, but I had to stop and pull out the neps, which slowed down the spinning. The neps were not in the combed top, making it the better prep. This skein was 14 yards which measured 13 WPI, and was a very nubby looking yarn.
5) RECOMMENDED USES: What types of uses are appropriate for this type of fleece?

Depending on the preparation, Clun Forest wool is recommended by Jane for “hosiery, flannels, knitting yarns, tweeds, and industrial felts.” The yarn – which is “very bouncy, lofty, and slightly irregular” – can be woven as singles or plied and knitted into “hard-wearing, cushiony socks or gloves.” Jane also notes that felt produced from Clun Forest wool is elastic and quite substantial and would make a good blazer or lightweight jacket.

6) PURCHASE INFORMATION: Where did you purchase this fiber? If possible, provide name and address of vendor, and the price paid.

As previously mentioned, the fiber included in the Breedswap binder is from two lamb fleeces sheared in late summer 2006 on Bets Reedy’s farm. Bets does not typically sell her fleeces directly (I obtained mine through a friend) but rather sells them through her shearer. At the time of this writing, Bets had not yet heard from the shearer how much the lamb fleeces were selling for, though she assured me that the cost for the two I received would likely be around $10. I washed several ounces of the fleece by hand, which is included here as locks, and send the rest to Blackberry Ridge Woolen Mills for cleaning and processing into roving. I have not yet received an invoice (or the completed roving!) from Blackberry Ridge, but expect the cleaning and processing to be approximately $30.

7) RESOURCES: List the resources you used (books, magazines, local experts, websites) you used in compiling your information.

The North American Clun Forest Association website was invaluable in the preparation of this report.

Additional information on the history and characteristics of the breed were also available from The Shepherd’s Journal website breed profile and Oklahoma State’s Department of Animal Science Breeds of Livestock resource.

Technical information about the fiber characteristics was obtained from The American Sheep Industry Association website.

Information on working with Clun Forest fleeces was drawn primarily from Cindy W.’s post on rare breeds on the Yarnspinners Blog and Jane Fournier’s article “Bouncy & Lightweight Clun Forest Yarn” from the Fall 1993 issue of Spin-Off Magazine (reprinted online).

13 November 2006


Nope, not the socks or the Tied Up Tee, but my Clun Forest research for the Breedswap. It's not the best scholarly work I've done, but it covers the basics and should be enough to introduce folks to the breed and the fleece and what you can do with it. It really wasn't arduous I just couldn't quite work myself up to sit down and type it up. But I took advantage of an early afternoon escape to get started right after dinner and finished it up and sent it off. I'm not sure if we're allowed to share our research or not (I would hope we can, but I'm not sure of the expectations of the organizers), but if I can, I'll post it here for any who might be interested. Next up for this project: sort the washed bits to pull out 32 decent locks and follow up with Blackberry Ridge on where my roving is.

I also puttered a bit downstairs and moved a bookshelf into the living room by one of the chairs that tends to accumulate my fiber stuff so I'd have a surface on which to store things. It worked wonderfully and looks so much nicer now (but reminded me that I haven't done any spinning lately at all).

Now.. do I kick back and get some knitting done, or go run a bath (sadly without any Lush as I used the last of my stash last week) and luxuriate while I read (for pr'bly about twenty minutes before I start to fall asleep because I was, in a fit of paranoid worry, up almost two hours earlier than normal this morning and unable to fall back asleep)..?

Still on the fence.

I remeasured the front of the Tied Up Tee again yesterday and compared it to actual measurements of the intended recipient and I think it's close. Still trying to decide how close I want to cut things, especially since I'm not sure if the yarn will stretch or shrink with washing (yes, yes, I need to do swatches and wash them, but swatches are boring).

In the meantime I'm still working on socks. I finished the heel flap on the first Father sock this morning in the car and will likely turn the heel in the car on the way home (assuming it's not too dark .. I hate that I have to wonder about whether it will be too dark to knit in the car at 4:30 p.m.! Maybe that's when I should do swatches..), but as we have no new Netflix movies coming in today, I might not get much more done at home. I still need to get the Clun Forest research written up and sent in (and I also need to call Blackberry Ridge and find out if they got the fleeces.. it worries me that I've heard nothing from them at all; I expected they might not call just to tell me they got the package, but it's been long enough that I'd have hoped they'd have finished the processing and would be contacting me with a price..) and I might force myself to make a decision on the Tied Up Tee so I can get moving on it again.

I also blocked (for limited meanings of the term) the Panobo wrap yesterday. It's an odd piece to block, but it had the desired effect, so it will get packaged and wrapped sometime this week. Mom's coming for Thanksgiving, so I want to have it wrapped before then so she isn't tempted to peek. *smile*

I need to get buttons still for Breezy Cables, and then that one can get packaged and wrapped as well. Still on the fence about what kind of buttons to get, but I still have time to figure that out.

I'd write about other bits, but life is frustrating at the moment, both at work and in areas I volunteer. I keep believing that things will slow down and ease up some soon, but each month that goes by without that happening adds a little more tarnish to that idea. *And* I'm out of cream at work and forgot to get some on the way in this morning. *sigh*

09 November 2006

Still alive..

.. at least for the moment.

I have to admit that my conference wasn't nearly as fun as Cate and Sara's. *pout*

But at least I'm making progress on socks (just not as much as they are.. and not with as good of company). The 2K pair is finished, the Father pair is started.. and after the 2K pair, they seem awfully big and seem to take a lot longer to make progress on. I'm still stuck on the Tied-Up Tee.. no progress, no decision about whether to start over. This is.. sort of okay. For now. I'm almost tempted to make two - I'm pretty sure I'll have enough of the yarn - just in case. But.. yeah.. we'll see.

05 November 2006

Is it Sunday already?

I needed this weekend. I also, perhaps oddly, needed the conference I was at last week. While it was no where near as educational as my first AIR Forum, there were a couple of good sessions that helped me get over hurdles in my own projects. But that's not the reason it was needed. I needed to not be on our campus, to be around other people who knew the larger, broader context of our campus, but who weren't engrossed in it. I needed, in short, a Reality Check(tm). To have that followed immediately by a quiet weekend at home was absolutely ideal.

Yesterday I really couldn't tell you much of what I did other than that I made the Winter Warmer kit that I had. I also made half a spaghetti squash to go with some broiled steaks for dinner. And we watched Snow Falling on Cedars which, aside from some cinematic decisions (e.g., the overlapping voice thing), we well done and timely given recent political events.

Today, we made a sort of miniature Thanksgiving dinner. This isn't really a practice run, though we will be making a full Thanksgiving dinner for our families in a couple weeks. It's more that we had a smallish turkey in the freezer and Jack really, really loves turkey and we had the time to make a more or less real meal so we did. We roasted the turkey, made mashed potatoes, rolls, and gravy. No veggies - there's not really room. *smile* We have left-overs, as expected, and a carcass for stock to add to the small chicken carcass already in the freezer. We have 16 large frozen rolls left to make for Thanksgiving and half a bag of potatoes and a box of stuffing, so we'll just need to pick up the big turkey, some corn & buttercup squash, and the makings for cinnamon rolls (refrigerator biscuits dredged in butter & rolled in cinnamon-sugar and baked in a pie plate until done), and we'll have everything we need for dinner.

I am working away on holiday projects, but having two projects on needles, both with deadlines, is managing to mess me up. I'm a real, honest-to-goodness project knitter. I have a hard time leaving something unfinished if I'm not stuck on it. And while I need to have two projects on needles right now because the Rowan River Tape has *no* give and hurts my hands if I work with it too much, it still messes with me.

All the same, as previously mentioned, I finished the first of the Son Socks last week; I'm now almost to the heel flap on the second.

The ruler is for scale. I've never done little kid socks before, so these seem to be going extraordinarily fast, even on US 1 needles.

The Tied Up Tee is also coming along, but I'm a little concerned that even though I'm getting gauge spot on, it's too small. The first picture below is the front so far more or less "as is", without stretching it too much (it's also more color correct on my monitor). It's coming in at about 16 inches across the bottom, where it should be closer to 19. The second pictures is it stretched a bit, but even there it's only coming in around 17.5 inches. I could stretch it more, but I don't want it to have to be skin tight to fit the intended recipient.

So I'm trying to decide on whether to trust the pattern despite pretty solid reasons to believe it's going to be too small, or to rip out what I have and start over with either a looser gauge or the next larger size (or two). It's worse that I'm not making this for me, but for someone who is several sizes smaller than me - I'm knitting what is supposed to be the size 38, which is what I'm assuming would be roughly equivalent to a women's small/medium shirt, whereas I'd pr'bly make this for me as at least a 48 - so it looks too small to begin with.

I also did most of the research for the Breedswap this weekend. It was due last Monday, so I'm already late, but I think it's going to have to wait another day to get written up and finalized. I don't think it will hurt anything. At the moment, I'm more concerned about not having heard anything from the folks at Blackberry Ridge regarding the fleeces I sent them. I'll have to try to remember to call them tomorrow to follow up.

29 October 2006

Q is for quaich

Here's a health to the company and one to my lass
Let us drink and be merry all out of one glass
Let us drink and be merry, all grief to refrain
For we may and might never all meet here again

- "Health to the Company", traditional

There is a Scottish tradition of greeting and parting wherein the assembled pass a small, lug-handled bowl traditionally filled with a dram of Scotch whisky and each take a sip. It's a tradition that resonated with us when we first learned it, and one we wanted, in some way, to incorporate into our wedding. We discovered that the small bowl was called a quaich, but never managed to find one that was quite right for what we envisioned.

The night before our rehearsal dinner, my personal attendant and close friend Tori arrived to help us pack up and prepare to leave the following day for Ripon. She brought with her two gifts that I treasure to this day. In addition to her likely more traditional tasks for the day, Tori had been charged to be my flask bearer. Her first gift, therefore was a small circular flask filled with 18 year old Glenfiddich. The flask is beautiful and just the right size for carrying with me at events.

Her second gift was for both of us. We opened the small box to discover that she had found and acquired for us a small silver quaich. The knotwork on the quaich is reminiscent of the knotwork on my flask and also of the knotwork on our wedding bands. It was probably one of the most meaningful gifts we received.

Our quaich was passed the evening of our wedding among our wedding party and close friends & family. It has appeared on other occassions in the last four years when our more far flung friends are reunited. It is a symbol not only of the love we bear each other but also of the love we are surrounded by from our friends and family.

S is for..

.. seaming..

.. lots and lots of seaming. And weaving in of ends. But I think it looks wonderful and if it stretches a bit in blocking/washing, that's just fine because it's just a smidge too small. Just a wee. little. smidge.

Still needs buttons, but I haven't decided what buttons to use. In all honesty.. I haven't even looked for buttons yet. Sort of forgot about that part. I'm thinking they need to be something.. not metal. I just don't think metal will go well with this style & color. Wooden toggles come to mind, but that seems.. cliche'. But there's a more or less decent selection of them at Patternworks, so maybe.

.. and for socks! (Yeah.. it's Socktoberfest.. but I wasn't playing that fun little game, so they don't have to be finished. Yet.)

The pictures's a bit out of date.. that one's finished now and the second is started. I also started the next holiday garment but it's not very exciting yet (well, that and I need to charge the batteries for my camera), so I'll wait to post pictures. I will say, though, that a skein of Rowan River Tape goes a long way! I'm about five inches into the front of a sweater and still on my first skein.

25 October 2006

R is for ..


The Back Story:
Some time ago, I discovered a hole smack in the middle of my Birch. I examined it thoroughly and couldn't seem to find a broken thread, which leaves me to believe the fuzz on the Kid Silk Haze caught a stitch well enough to hold it through blocking and the first several times I wore it, but eventually unstuck. I dilemma'd about it for awhile, trying to figure out how to fix it without it being *really* noticeable.

This morning I wanted to wear my grey skirt and Brioche Bodice and none of my little sweaters that I wear over the top of such things in the winter were clean (actually, one was clean, but not dry). So I dug around in the Box of Leftover Bits(tm) and found the little stash of KSH I stuck in there and determined to fix my Birch in the car so I could wear it today.

And I did. And it worked. (I can still tell where the repair is because the patterns jogs just a little where I couldn't figure out which strand was the right one to weave up through, but I can admittedly only tell when I look for it.) *smile* And I've forgotten just how well something so gauzey and delicate can keep you snuggly warm (of course, it also helps that I have my elbow length arm warmers on, too).

Of course, until this morning, this post was almost R is for RIP, as in rip out your knitting, as in Rest In Peace little sock:

I made it this weekend and only when I finished the foot did I realize that it would be *way* to small for its intended recipient. It's be reborn (Aha! R is also for Rebirth!) as a larger sock now:

Hrm.. I dont' think there's a way I can work this next one into the R theme, but thought I'd post a progress pic of Breezy Cables. This is the first sleeve, finished, but unblocked:

The second sleeve is also just a little more than half finished, so I'm not *too* far behind schedule!