Monday, December 11, 2006

Here, she is, my new bedspread, er, I mean shawl. Geyl started out big, but she blocked even bigger. I think I should have put her on a diet earlier in the game - maybe one skein less of the main color.
As you can see, she's about the size of my area rug, which is almost the size of the room. I do live in a house that resembles a doll's house, with tiny stairs, and tiny rooms, but believe me, Geyl is massive.

And, now for something completely different. Fair Isle! Knitty D and I recorded an end of the year wrap up (yes, the podcast is coming, probably tonight - I hit a snag in my plans last night when I ended up in court until 6:00 - and some juror stole my cellphone), and I threw out there that I thought I wanted to try some color work. So, I originally bought this olive Koigu to finish Geyl, before I switched up to mustard, and I bought this purple, because it's a No Repeat color, and I'm just a sucker for a one of a kind Koigu.
The color didn't turn out so good in the picture - but the problem became that the olive is slightly grey, and the purple has a lot of grey, so when I put the two colors together, they're not as contrasty as I thought they would be - but here it is - my first attempt at Fair Isle.

These are Eunny Jang's Endpaper Mitts. They're a little snug right now - my gauge is a bit tight - it takes practice carrying that yarn loosely at the join of the double points. But, it was much easier than I thought, and I'm please as punch with myself.

And, for the rest of you who still haven't gotten passed reading that a juror stole my cellphone - yes, it is quite a head shaker - how did that happen? Well, I went over to the courthouse to represent a witness in a homicide. I was meeting with him in a little anteroom right behind the courtroom. I had no idea that the Judge liked her court staff to take already voire dired jurors in there, to either explain to the them that they had been accepted, and where to go, or to tell them that they were dismissed, sayonara. Anyway, court staff, when they discovered me and the client in the room, kicked us to the curb. In my haste, I left my cell in the little room. I waited as several jurors came in and out of the room, and then I asked one of the homicide detectives on the case to get my cellphone, figuring he wouldn't get yelled at. He came out, with my magazine, and a file, and no phone - the only people in that room were jurors - one of them had to have walked off with my cell. Uch. One of the detectives offered to get a list off all the jurors, and track down my phone, but, I don't know - I think they have better crimes to solve. And, it only took my an hour last night to reprogram my phone.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

She keeps growing and growing and growing! Geyl is now up to 538 stitches on the needle, and I still have 19 rows to go, 152 stitches to increase, sheesh!
As you can see I've started the X/O pattern border. I was originally going to do it in an olive color, but we decided that the olive was too grey. Now the olive is going to become gloves or gauntlets, and I switched up to a mustard color. If anyone out there is knitting Geyl, there is some errata.

First, the first chart is off a stitch - don't fear - it's just a typo - if you look at the chart, the black, marker stitch box needs to come before the marker, so it's yarnover, marker, knit one, marker, yarnover, pretty standard for increases in a square shawl. The second issue arises in the start of the XO chart. In the swatch of the chart, the repeat is incorrectly marked - it should be moved over one stitch to the left. The chart is right, the line designating the repeat is wrong. And, if you look at the written, line by line instructions, the repeat is correct. Then, it says to begin the XO pattern after completing row 6 of the ladder stitch chart - this didn't quite work out - you have to begin the XO chart after row 8. Luckily, I think since it's debut at Stitches, I'm the first person knitting Geyl to get to the edging, so hopefully everyone else should be ok.

Over my little mini-break, I knit Geyl mostly on the plane, it was too big to hide under my table at the conference. So, while everyone was getting high on weed, I was getting my high on Socks that Rock in the Bleeding Hearts colorway. Now, before anyone gets worried that I'm a little too obsessed with hearts a bleeding in the AK era, I started these socks the day I got back from Rhinebeck, or a little thereafter, and too me, Bleeding Hearts are a good thing, as in bleeding heart liberal, moi. This is just a baby cable a la Sensational Knitted Socks, and I love them.
Here is sock number one (with Dex waiting patiently in the background for his morning walk). Wait, don't look at the toe - it's a little messed up - you know how I love Kitchener. On the second sock, not pictured, I've rounded the heel, have finished the decreases, and am heading down the homestretch towards the toe. And unlike the gifted Feather and Fan socks, I'm keeping these, and they are mine mine mine!

Speaking of my bleeding heart - our office had an art show sponsored by the mural arts program last night, featuring works by our incarcerated clients. We all went, looking to buy, be supportive, etc., but the only pieces I liked weren't for sale - and they were really good - and, it turns out they were by one of my own clients. I've represented the guy on appeal for a year or so. I've met his family, read five boxes of material about his case, and have corresponded with him. But when I looked at his art, I realized as many pages as I've read, as many words as I've written, I don't know a thing about the kid. Convicted of 2d degree murder for something that happened when he was 17, he's doing life. Long after the trial, DNA testing done on genetic materials recovered from under the victim's fingernails seemed to exonerate him - but did not move his PCRA (post conviction relief act) judge - who determined that "people breath DNA" so the DNA was irrelevant to him, and denied his appeal. Other evidence I won't get into seems to point to his guilt, fairly strongly. Other evidence leads to other suspects that were never properly investigated. As I peered at his art, I wanted it to give me an answer - did you do it? That has never ever mattered to me, guilt has never been relevant. I don't know why I want to know the answer in this case. Maybe if I knew he really did it, I would sleep better at night, with his appeal hanging over my head, and his life in the balance. People always ask me, how can you represent people you know are guilty - that's the easy part of my job. It's those innocent ones that haunt you.

Monday, December 04, 2006

So, what was I doing in Key West - well, to the shame of the conference organizers, I was not smoking weed. Out of all the public defenders to send to NORML's (National Organization for the Legalization of Marijuana Laws)national conference, our office sends the non-toker. Which, of course, was fine for me - I met my friend Ruth (the recipient of my first Socks that Rock feather and fan socks) in Fort Lauderdale, and we drove up the coast to Key West. She convinced me that I would rather drive with her and see the Keys than take the 20 minute flight I had scheduled - but, unfortunately, we hit the road after sundown, I couldn't see shit, and it started to rain while we had the convertible's top down. Ah well. At least I was still in Florida. Ruth and I went sailing, had a few spectacular dinners, and after she left, I made use of the manmade beach next to the hotel. I also took in the Conch Train and got my bit of history, and I went to the Key West Xmas parade - very odd to be singing about sleighbells and snowmen in 83 degree weather.

But, from the second we stepped into the Norml compound, all you could smell was weed. Unbelievable - these folks started smoking at 8:30 a.m., and smoked round the clock - at the conference, at the restaurant, at the bar, you name it - they lit it. Now, after Ruth left on Friday, I didn't hang out too much with these 70's potheads, not because I don't smoke, but because they were for the most part, well . . . I won't say it - but, let me just put it this way. I was the only public defender at the conference. Everyone else was a member of the private bar - and man were they high on themselves. Crack after crack after crack about the dumb pd, the ineffective pd, the pd this, yadda yadda . . . enough already. The ugliest part of the conference was the ethics portion of the program "how to collect your fee" where ethics were on a sliding scale with how much money you were making on a particular case. There were only about five woman at this conference, and no African Americans, except for one presenter on the last day, who gave his schpiel and took off. The signs that hung around the conference said, "Stop Arresting Responsible Marijuana Smokers" and by the end of the conference, it was clear who they meant - stop arresting us, the rich white men. Before the conference I was on the fence about legalization. I definitely think it has a legitimate place in the treatment of cancer patients, and others who suffer from debilitating pain as a result of disease. But, as far as recreational use - not if its just for these guys.

If you've never been to Key West, every night there's a party to celebrate the setting sun. The sun sets every night in Philly too, and sometimes, in the summer, over the Art Museum, it's quite spectacular. But, I never really think about it. It happens every night, so what? After Ruth left, I went to Mallory Square, the center of the party, which, in this off season, was not so crowded, and grabbed a seat on the dock, my feet dangling over the Gulf, almost close enough to skim the top of the water. And, I watched as the sun went down. Is this really something to sing and dance about every night? I thought, in my somewhat glum outlook in the new A.K. era, and I thought, you know what - yeah, why not? why shouldn't it be? I told Kenny recently, when he was boo hooing about something, in any given circumstance you're confronted with choosing to be happy, or not to be happy, and you always choose to be miserable - why not try choosing to be happy? And, at that moment, I chose to be happy, enjoy the sunset, and the accompany reverie, and ever since Friday, sundown, I've definitely had the attitude, the sun's going down, the sun will come up, and life is indeed good.

Brrrr - it's cold up here! After spending four days in tropical Key West, it certainly was quite a shock to the system to return to blustery Philly. So, for anyone who's suffering from winter blues, and needs a bit of sunshine - here's a Key West sunset just for you:

Monday, November 27, 2006

Four days in the 'burbs, much retail therapy, and 2 lbs later, I'm back in the city, and once again, hooked up with high speed internet. My father insists on clinging to his dial-up - why do I need it to be any faster? he says. And, I guess if you're retired, and you have all day to wait for one measly page to load up, I guess you're right - why do you need it to go any faster? But, old fast and wrong over here can't bear it, so no broken heart this time to account for the gap between posts - just technical difficulties.

So, here is my latest fast and wrong - my niece's cardigan. I started a cardigan for my niece over the summer. I'm one sleeve away from finishing it. But, it's cotton - blech. And, then the seams have to be sewn - blech. And then, a ruffle needs to be picked up around the whole thing - blech. So, I decided to do a simple top down cardigan with my gifted Debbie Bliss bubble gum pink yarn. I pulled Barbara Walker off the shelf, and my eyes glazed over as I thought about the math. There must be a pattern - someone must have already done this work for me - so off I went, and I found an Ann Nordling top down cardigan, sized for gauges running the gammut of 3.5/inch to 5.5/inch. But, the cardigans were a bit blah - no pizazz. So, instead of putting a floppy collar, I put a ruffle (hmmmm - sounds suspiciously like the cardigan I'm one sleeve away from finishing).
Then, I decided to do an edging from Nicky Epsteins' On the Edge Book. Hmmm. . . looks like that has to be sewn on . . . sounds like that cardigan that is one sleeve away from completion.

So, I still have 2 sleeves to knit (hmmmm . . . 2 sleeves, one sleeve - you do the math) (not to mention the fact that those armholes look a tad bit big . . .), an edging to finish and sew, and a button band to pick up. What was I thinking???? And, I don't really like the edging for this cardigan - it's not really childlike - and, uch, I think I might ruffle all around - JUST LIKE THE CARDIGAN THAT'S 90% DONE ALREADY.

Sigh. Needless to say, I've put it dowm for a bit (hmmm . . . just like the other cardigan), and I've been working on Geyl. Geyl is growing like baby elephant. You can't tell from the picture (which looks much like the picture I already posted), but there's a gazillion stitches on the needle, and from the caston edge to wear I am now is about 18 inches. The pattern calls for 9 skeins of Koigu. I'm only through the third ball. I feel like I'm knitting a bedspread. But, its Koigu, and its pretty, and we'll see how it goes.

So, I'm off to Key West on Wednesday. I'm going to a Continuing Legal Education conference sponsored by NORML, the group that advocates the legalization of marijuana (no, our office doesn't pay for this -- they send us a grant). I heard there are interesting party favors on the table. Too bad I don't smoke. On one hand, it will be nice to get out of Dodge, but on the other hand, I'm not sure if I'm in the right place to be alone in party town. I've really been ok. I did turn my phone off for the majority of the break - it's not that I'm avoiding a phone call, because that's not happening - but I'm so used to the phone ringing like clockwork at certain times - in the morning on his way to work, lunch, mid afternoon, the end of his shift, even if it was at 2:00 a.m. - I'm like Pavlov's dog - it's not that I want it to ring, I'm just trained to hear it.

I reactivated my jdate account, and I got this IM from some 30 year old kid last night. He asked me why it's hard to meet men. Instead of replying, it's not hard to meet men, it's hard to meet men who aren't jackasses, I said, well, I work at a jail, yadda yadda. I meet cops and robbers and it's sometimes hard to tell the difference, yadda yadda . . . and then this kid had the nerve to start asking "have you given up hope?" I said, I don't know what what you're talking about - "well, you can't give up hope of meeting someone . . ." and he went on, and I stopped him, "look little buddy, did I say I was unhappy or hopeless? and I don't need a pep talk, capice?" "Um ok," he said, and quickly closed his window. Maybe I do need to go to Key West and take up a new hobby . . .

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wallabee Wonders

Thanks to everyone who had kind thoughts for me yesterday - and unkind thoughts about jackass. But, A.K. is off to a good start - a finished Walllabee!

For those of you who are not familiar with the pattern, the Wallabee is a Cottage Creations original - Cottage Creations is kind of the Nora Ephron of knitting patterns. Simple instructions, laced with personal anecdotes, helpful tips, and the occasional tee hee. And, like the Rambling Rows blanket, it's all about no sewing. The entire sweater is knit in the round, until you have to separate the fronts at the neck opening.

If you follow the instructions, there is absolutely no sewing. When you attach the sleeves, there are ten stitches under the arm that are supposed to be grafted. I say supposed to be because I just couldn't bring myself to do Kitchener last night (there's actually helpful hints in the pattern about pysching yourself up to do the Kitchener, but in the spirit of my grandmother, I said, feh), and I turned the thing inside out, and did a three needle bind off. Can't tell, can you? - it's the armpit, dammit, why do I need to Kitchener?

On the other hand, you can tell I did a three needle bind off on the hood - but I'm ok with that. The seam, to me, is perfectly reasonable for a hood, and the only real difference is that it comes to a bit of a point in the back.
I'm happy with it. And I would have been so unhappy Kitchenering 36 stitches together.

I don't know why I got it in my head that I had to knit the Wallabee in Brooks Farm Fourplay. It's like I had a pyschic connection with the yarn (although, not like Matt Lauer - Matt, what is up with you and the medium? No, you cannot see dead people!) - and I was so right. This is this comfyest, most delicious sweater I have ever worn. And, while the one skein did have to be hand wound, the yarn, once it was pulled apart, really wasn't so damaged - there's a stitch here and there that's a bit fuzzy, but no biggie. I did take everyone's advice, and emailed Brooks Farm. The woman who runs the online store was quick to get back to me, and told me that she was relieved to hear from me after Christine gave them the heads up at Kid and Ewe. She assured me that either Randall or Sherrie would get back to me soon - that was last Wednesday, and I haven't heard from them again. I'm sure they're busy. This one skein issue should not turn anyone away from Brooks Farm. I love this yarn, and will buy it again at Maryland Sheep and Wool - I think for a top down turtleneck. Yum! A.K. is all about comfort after all!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Wallabee Woe

So, here is the long promised tale of Wallabee woe. Let's go back to Maryland Sheep and Wool. I wasn't all about a Wallabee, I was all about the Clapotis. So, I purchased this pretty Brooks Farm Four Play for a Clappy - 3 skeins, at 270 yds a skein. A few hours after I bought this, I found what would eventually become the Clappy, a merino/silk blend resembling Josephs' coat of many colors. And, I don't know how I got it in my head, but I just felt the Brooks Farm needed to be a Wallabee.

Ummm . . . but I only had 810 yards -- the pattern calls for somewhere around 1400 for the medium. I spoke to a few people who had already made the Wonderful Wallabee, and they assured me they didn't use nearly as much yarn as what the pattern called for, and that it might work out if I did the pocket and the hood in a solid. I mulled it over. I thought about doing a provisional cast-on, and doing the 3 inch rib in another color if I ran out of yarn. I thought about stripes. In the end, I thought, I'm going to buy more Four Play.

And so I did - at Rhinebeck - 1300 yards - of this pretty green:
Problem 1 - Looks a little small, doesn't it? But, Courtney checked my gauge, I'm on gauge - and the pocket is allegedly the center of the front - so hopefully, everything is just bunched up on the needle. This problem is easily rectified - in an inch or so, I'll fuse the pocket to the body of the sweater, and then I'll take it off the needles and try it on. Of course, if it's too small, I don't have enough yarn for a large, and it'll be back to the provisional cast-on drawing board.

Problem 2 - if you look at the picture again, you'll notice that the body of the sweater is much darker than the pocket - the skeins, while marked that they were from the same dyelot are clearly different - of course, I didn't notice this on the darkened trainride from hell. The solution would probably have been to work with a two balls of yarn at a time, and mixed in the darker skein -- way too much work for a Wallabee, and even if I had noticed in time, I probably wouldn't have done it. I think the pocket is making it ok, but we'll see as I go along -

But, the true potential disaster is this skein -
No, that's not a blurry shot - the yarn is all f-d up. I went to wind it, and it got stuck. It turns out that the skein was wrapped up before the dye dried, and while it's not quite felted, it's all stuck together, and the areas that are fused, are a bit rough. This skein will have to be wound by hand, uch, and disaster will really only strike if I have to use this yarn for anything other than the hood. I mean, who's going to inspect the hood anyway.

Ah the suspense - will it be too small? will it look like two different sweaters sewed together once the color differentiation between the 2 skeins becomes more distinct? will the f-d up skein sort itself out and become usable? Will I buy a solid green of something worsted, and cast on the large? Will I ditch putting the hood on if I can't get the f-d up skein to work out? It's almost as good as a Friday cliffhanger, and it's only Wednesday.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Another weekend, another yarn fest! Christina and I roadtripped to Maryland this weekend for Stitches East. I'm going to reserve my comments about Stitches for a later date, if at all, and rather than rant and rail, which may or may not happen on the podcast, I'll just show you what I bought.

First up is roving from Lisa Souza. I figured I should apply the same philosophy to spinning as I do to knitting - don't learn on crap, because you won't love it, and you won't want to finish it - so I bought some Blue Faced Leiscester and some Merino. Unforunately, my makeshift braking system on my wheel is just not working out, so I'm going to have to wait for the part to come in. At this point, my wheel seems to be giving me two choices - I'll twist, but I won't wind on, or I'll wind on, and I won't twist - and that's because my makeshift brake either holds the bobbin in a locked position, or it doesn't hold it at all. Ah well, I've waited this long - I can wait a little longer, especially when there is knitting to be done.

In the knitting arena - remember those 17 skeins of Koigu that were snatched from my hot little hands - well, feel bad for me no more - because here is the new and improved version - and it's only mine! It was a onetime only dyelot - there's no number, no lot - just "NR" for "no repeat." This skein is not exactly like the one that I lost - that skein also had blues in it - but the wine/berry color is the same, and I love love love it! This is going to be Lucie, from this month's Knitty. And, where did I buy it - Rosie's - a 2 hour trip to buy yarn at my LYS, go figure.
But, here's something I wouldn't treat myself to in Philadelphia - cashmere. Stitches is a mecca for cashmere - Hunt Valley Cashmere, School House products, and this, Just Your Yarn. I went with Just Your Yarn because of the yarddage, and the color - each skein is 500 yards for $35 and it's going to be a shawl from the book I bought at Stitches, which is part of the rant, and which I'm not quite ready to talk about yet in a the manner it should be discussed - the book is beautiful, the patterns are lovely, but I have a bad taste in my mouth about it - a little mouthwash, and I'll get over it. I'm sure a post will be forthcoming in the next week or so.

And finally, Courtney has all of her Smith Island Pattern Factory patterns in order - the new pictures are beautiful, and I have four skeins of Anne lined up to knit Geyl -

Christina and I have been talking about turning the Maude A Long into a Smith Island Get-A-Way - since we both have big plans for Geyl.

And, speaking of big plans - my fall knitting plans are totally spinning out of control. Right now in the active rotation are - a test knit for a friend that I can't blog about but is inches from completion, the Wonderful Wallabee - that may or may not be headed for disaster because of my Brooks Farm dilemna (which could have easily been solved at Stitches if I weren't so ticked off and distracted) - more about potential trauma from the Wallabee later in the week, and a baby cable sock in my Socks that Rock, Bleeding Hearts. In the backup line-up - I have a sweater started from last year in Karabella Marble, and the Bird's Nest Shawl in Helen's Laces. And, in the dying to cast on - I have the above Koigu, Geyl, the Skaska Orenburg triangle, the new cashmere project, and the merino/tencel red red red Frost Flowers and Leaves. I'm in such a tizzy, I don't even know where to start.

And I want to fix my wheel because . . .?

And, speaking of Socks that Rock, Christina had a nice chat with Kaci from Blue Moon Fibers, who wanted us to spread the word about the Rockin Sock Club 2007. You can now preregister for the club, and pay in January. For $210 you get 6 sock kits, patterns created just for STR, and a bunch of other goodies. Both Christina and I signed up, and you'll definitely be hearing about it on the podcast, so if you're into it - sign up now. Kaci said they were going to keep sign ups open I think for the month of November.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Down on the Farm

Believe it or not, I did actually spend maybe a few hours in Connecticut between my 2 disaster Amtrak trips. And, to make up for the lack of livestock, foliage pictures from Rhinebeck - here's a taste of CT:
One of our big excursions over the weekend, was the long trip down the road to Five Pond Farm, where Kathryn buys her milk straight from the cow. The Farm was having a fundraiser, and I bought some lavender sachets and a few bars of soap. Also available were handknit felted bags, based on the Noni patterns, selling for $175 - only in CT!!!
Five Pond Farm also sells wool spun from its sheep - but it was basically a scratchy Shetland, and after Rhinebeck, the last thing I need is wool in my stash that I bought just because of atmosphere.

And what else does one do in suburban CT? Go to the mall, of course. At some point, Kath had to buy shoes for her husband. We were walking through the mall, and this guy at a flat iron kiosk whisked me aside, and told me he could straighten my hair in 15 minutes. Since I had no desire to shop for shoes for Kath's husband, I was like, buddy, if you can straighten my hair in 15 minutes, I'm buying that flat iron.

We all want what we can't have. Sometimes, that turns out to be a blessing in disguise - for example, all of you who are my age, and spent your teen years with that Tom Cruise poster from Risky Business or Top Gun on your wall - aren't you relieved that you can't have him! And sometimes, what we thought we wanted, we really didn't want at all once we had it, i.e., my straight hair.

When I was little, my daddy made me promise that I would never never never cut my hair. My hair was long, and wavy, and down to my ass, and around 4th grade, I rebelled and cut it all off. Mistake - daddy was right. No one knew what to do with my hair, and I spent my junior high and high school with a total 'fro. At Penn State, I finally found a hairdresser, who could cut my hair so that my curls would curl instead of frizz, but all I wanted was straight hair.

I have tried every product on the market to straighten my curls. First, I had some straightening process that burned the top of my head, and turned the color of my hair orange. Then, I did this thing called Paul Brown processing - which was supposedly gentle, from Hawaii. This torture session took 5 hours, and the ordeal entailed having every one of my curls matted down onto a long plastic board, until when my head was completely covered, it weighed at least 25 pounds, and I sat there with all of the fumes in my face for a good hour. Then, there was the Japanese thermal processing invasion - much like Barbra Streisand in the Way We Were - I had my hair ironed. The Japanese thermal processing took several hours, cost a gazillion dollars, and was completely permanent.

No more curls.

And, for about a year, I wore my hair completely straight. I did the process 3 times - and on the last time - my hair broke. That's right - broke, in the middle of the back of my head, and I had to cut my very long hair to just below my ear. And back came the curls.

And I was happy. I was me again. I was free - and so was my hair - no more ironing, no more blowdrying, no more straight hair.

But, it's always nice to do something different for a change. And, this new flat iron gets hotter than Hades, and I don't even have to blow dry my hair with all of that pulling with the roll brush. It's amazing. My best purchase in CT!

I also finally gave Kathryn her birthday present, the Shetland triangle from Wrap Style. I don't know why blogger flipped the one picture, but it did - of course, this is in Anne - ah Anne! I knit Shetland Triangle last Passover - this was the shawl/scarf that I swatched in bed - making for interesting bedfellows - hello pin! Oopsy. Based on the pattern, the shawl can be as big or as small as you want it to be - you just keep doing the pattern repeat over and over again. My bed swatching didn't work out so well, and I totally wasn't on gauge - although I liked the gauge that I was at with Anne - the problem was yarddage. How far could I really go? So, I sat in front of the t.v. all weekend with my mother's Weight Watcher scale, weighing my skein every repeat or so. The scale never changed - hmm, maybe that's why Weight Watchers never works out so well for me.
For me, I probably would have used 2 skeins of Anne, and made it bigger, but I only had one, and it was a race to see if I would have enough yarn to finish each repeat. Ah, the suspense of knitting!

So to pass the time in CT, because that's what one seems to do in CT, pass time, I taught Kathryn to knit. We went to her yarn store, a Stitch in Time, and bought Manos, the yarn I used for my first knitting project. I have to say, either I'm an awesome teacher, or Kath is a natural, because she cast on without blinking an eye, and didn't drop nary a stitch while I was there. Hopefully, she can keep up the good work -

And, besides Amtrak, there was one other disaster over the weekend. I showed Kath my blog, and she really liked the wire bracelet, and asked if I would make one for her boss to give to her at Christmas. So, we went to Walmart and bought supplies. Walmart was out of straight metal knitting needles, so I decided to use my Addi's that I had brought with me.
For train knitting, as I've already said, I finished Maude, and had brought what I needed to start my Wallabee in the Brooks Farm Four Play (more on that tomorrow, because there's a disaster in the making there, too) - a circular 5, a circular 7, 5 double points, and 7 double points. Over the weekend, I made pretty good headway on the ribbing at the bottom of the sweater, and was getting ready to switch to the 7's - when diaster struck! I broke my addi 7's with the wire. Panic set in - I had a premonition about the train being late again - what would I do if I had no knitting. So, I tried melting the Addi's back together again -
Clearly, that didn't work. Luckily, after the trip to Five Pond Farm, we were able to go back to a Stitch N Time and procure another 7. I can't even imagine that Amtrak trip if I hadn't solved that problem.

Monday, October 30, 2006


So, how happy am I that I ripped out the Maude mistake, and now Maude is perfect! Just like a winged creature should be.

Thanks to the 50 billion hours on Amtrak this weekend Maude is finished. I can't tell you how happy it makes me to fling the "wings" across my shoulders and strut down the hallways at work. I feel like a superstar, or at least a very important person. How can you not when you're wearing something so pretty?
I photographed Courtney in Rittenhouse Square, and my friend and I attempted to capture Love park with this Maude. Unfortunately, the sun and shadows weren't exactly cooperating - so I ditched the atmosphere, and just tried to get the best shots that I could of dear sweet Maude.
I just loved loved loved the rhythm of the pattern. Bringing the yarn all the way forward before doing the yarn over really made the motion almost musical, and this was a very soothing knit. Even if you're knit-a-long phobic please consider knitting this pattern - I would love to see a dozen or so Maude's floating down the street (certainly an improvement over one more Ugg vest!)

And, while I still regret the loss of those burgundy/maroon/berry skeins that slipped through my fingers, I'm very happy with this blue - which also has maroon, and berry, and green thrown in for typical Koigu measure.

Congratulations Courtney for another awesome pattern - and I can't wait to test knit the new one!

And, if you aren't knit-a-long phobic, check out the Maude A Long, and you too can be a rockstar!
Dear Amtrak:

You F-ing suck!!!!! After spending a delightful, but long weekend in Rhinebeck, I really didn't have any desire to spend the next weekend in Connecticut - I really just wanted to cuddle up with my new yarn. But, my married friend, a former New Yorker, trapped in the suburbs, begged me, begged me, to make the trip - and, I had made the commitment months ago, and the truth is, I usually love a train trip - listening to my iPod, knitting in peace. So, I reserved my ticket for the 4:00 train to Stamford.

4:00 - not 6:00 p.m. - yes, that's what time we left 30th Street Station, after standing in line at the gate for 2 hours. Ok, I'm 2 hours late, not the end of the world. But then, you broke down outside of Trenton. The rain was coming down, the electricity in the car went off. We sat, and sat, and sat . . . until the conductor finally shared the fact that the engine was shot, and they were sending a rescue train to pick us up. We waited, and waited, until we were finally rescued by New Jersey Transit. As we transferred trains, in the middle of the rain, in the middle of the woods, the conductor cautioned us, "don't touch both trains at the same time." Great, we're all going to be electrocuted. We hobbled into New York City, now 4 hours late - and to add injury to insult, as we deboarded the train to get on our new train to take us the rest of the journey, our conductor thanked us - "Thank you for riding New Jersey Transit." Of all the humiliating things in the world - to be rescued by New Jersey Transit!

So, we board our new train, and take off, speed along, past New Rochelle, off to my stop, Stamford. But, what's this! We're stopped again - and now we're going backwards! Backwards to New Rochelle, to drop off a navigator who should have been left at the station in the first place. Unbelieveable.

I arrived in Stamford at 10:00, and at my friend's house in Redding at 11:00 - just in time for bed. Thanks Amtrak.

So, what could possibly go wrong when I returned to Philly on Sunday? My friends dropped me off at Stamford, my reserved ticket popped out of the Amtrak Quiktrip box just as planned, and then the board changed - my train was 2 hours late!!!! 2 hours turned into 3 hours before my train finally arrived. And how does a train get 3 hours behind - well, that's what happens if you hit a truck that's sitting on the track.

3 hours late, I boarded the train, and off we went. Speeding along, the conductor apologizing at every stop for the delay, and then HALT - again! Right outside of New York. We sat, and sat, for at least 45 minutes before we limped into Penn Station. I finally got home at 9:00 p.m.

So, between Friday, which took 7 hours, and Sunday, which took 6 hours, I could have made 2 round trips to California.

Thanks Amtrak, for totally sabotoging my weekend - the only good thing was that I finished Maude and knit half a Wallabee - but I'm not even going to show you pictures, because you don't deserve it!


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Crazy trial a thing of the past, insane work week over, and we were headed to Rhinebeck! After a four hour drive, lengthened by the 45 minute traffic fest that escorted us out of Philly, we arrived at what could only be described as the Bates Motel, or, as I put it, "Christina, I think people come here to kill themselves."
But for $120 for 2 nights, it was just fine. So the once tiled shower now had a concrete slab, and we seemed to have a ghost sharing the room (Christina slept through it, but at some point during the night, all of the bottles over the toilet leapt off the shelf onto the floor) -- what did it matter when Christina was up and at 'em at 6:45 a.m. It was Maryland Sheep and Wool all over again - the anxiety to get to the Koigu tent replaced by the manic desire to secure Socks that Rock. So, at 7:30 a.m., we found ourselves at the Every Ready Diner, chowing down on Silver Dollar Pancakes, and scrambled eggs with lox. Mmmm, mmmm, a hearty meal to set us up for the shopping fest to follow. We left for Rhinebeck, ten minutes down the road from Hyde Park (yes, we stayed right next door to the Roosevelt Estate, no we didn't go), at 8:30, and we were in a parking space at the 4H gate at 8:45.

I've read on some other blogs that people were forced to wait until 10:00 a.m. to storm the compound, but we got lucky, purchased our magic ticket, got our t-shirts, and we were in - straight to Building A, and the Fold.

When we got to the Fold it looked like this - I sheepishly asked, "Are you open," and Toni was like, "Yeah, sure, come on in!" And, this is what we had to choose from:

And, this is what we bought:
We each bought 7 skeins, 6 for ourselves, one for someone else. By the time I got home, though, I was in a panic - I hardly ever knit socks, what was I thinking????? So, I ended up selling off another skein, for a nice number of 5 in my stash. So, in this bunch are Farmhouse, Rocktober, Rooster Rock, Puck's Dream, Waterlilies, Bleeding Hearts, and Rhode Island Reds.

Once we had our Socks That Rock, we crossed the aisle to Brooks Farm. How convenient! I bought enough Brooks Farm Four Play in Maryland for a Clapotis, and then I ended up making it out of something else. I got it in my head that I wanted to make a Wallabee out of what I had - but of course, I didn't have enough yarddage. So, I thought of ways to improvise - I could do the pocket and the hood in a solid, I could do a provisional cast on, and if I ran out of yarn, I could do the bottom ribbing in the solid . . . I could buy different yarn. So, I knew that I wanted to buy sweater quantity yarn at Brooks Farm. I walked around, felt up the yarn, but none of the colors were really calling to me. I wasn't moved. I decided to put off the purchase, and come back. There must be something wrong with me that I couldn't find a skein that I loved.

So, after Christina made her purchase, we made a drop off at the car, and returned to the now increasingly crowded fairgrounds.
And then I began my quest to fix my wheel - see below. The search for parts and gadgets did distract me from the yarn a bit - but I did buy laceweight at Skaska, along with an Orenburg triangle pattern (what was I thinking - there's like 10 charts - I'm going to have to go into a month-long seclusion just to get it started!!!), a Moorehouse Merino scarf kit, and enough 50 llama/50 merino to make the scarf/bonnet in Knit2Together. And yes, fairly late in the day, I wandered back to Brooks Farms - and found the perfect yarn - a beautiful variegated green - hidden on the bottom shelf of an almost empty cubby. And, when I paid for it, one of the Brooks Farms women was like, "ah, you're buying my green." I think they had secreted it away, in hopes that maybe no one would find it. But, I did! Yum.

Christina was a much more adventurous buyer than I - buying the 50 merino/50 Samoyed yarn. That's right, Samoyed, dog. I know that fiber festivals are about adventure, and trying new things - it's like going to a restaurant and trying tripe. But, if horse were on a menu, I'd pass. If monkey's brains were on the menu, I'd say next. And, I feel the same way about dog. The woman who spun the yarn told us that it's so great because, just like a dog, it's water repellant - in a rainstorm, the water just falls right off of it. Uch. Not interested. Dogs are pets, not products. And not headwear. Christina, I know you love your hat, and that's great, but it's not for me.

We met lots of livestock, see Christina's blog for her love affair with Lamby, the alpaca. I had no idea that the different breeds of sheep looked so incredibly unique. And, because we got to the fairgrounds early, we had a chance to talk to a lot of vendors before they were swamped, about spinning, and yarn, and running a farm, and this and that. And, thank you so much to everyone who recognized us and said hi - you really made us feel like rockstars!

Late in the day we headed to the Morehouse Merino store - where the pictures of Poppy below were taken. At some point, I took my glasses off and put them in my back pocket - oopsy. I bent them ever so slightly, but while we were in the Morehouse store, I felt slightly off balance, and while it was the most beautiful yarn store I've ever seen, I didn't buy anything, and all I really wanted to do was sit down. Luckily, in the car, a few adjustments later, and the glasses were back on track, whew!

I would definitely go back again - I think it's very different from Maryland Sheep and Wool - the festivals compliment each other. I know from talking to people, it used to be a lot smaller, more intimate, and I definitely got that feeling when we were wandering around before 11:00 a.m. So, I know there are those who think its ruined, too big, but I had a great time, and hopefully, will find myself back again next year.

So, now, I'm home, and I love my yarn, and have big big plans for it - well, except for the Socks that Rock - but I'll get to it . . .