Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I need to finish something

Anything, really, that I didn't start this month.

Over at Ravelry I joined the Procraftinators group, and we get points based on completing WIPs/UFOs, starting projects, etc. The objective is to clear out old projects for new. And I am seriously falling behind. Really. Every time I report my doings, it's guilty as hell.

I think this is because most of my on-going projects are by their nature very on-going. There is the Neapolitan Ice Cream Flower Afghan (see sidebar - this project was started, at latest, spring 2006); the hex afghan; a Norah Gaughan sweater and many, many socks. These things are not quickies. At least, not for me. But I need to start showing some spine.

I did manage (through some kind of miracle) to finish the above self-striping socks at the end of June this year. However, they were started last year. I think they only got done because I was entering a sock crisis, which was mildly assuaged by these socks, but not entirely remedied. Being the so-called hardcore knitter that I am, I do not buy socks. That is consider moral weakness in my home. Why buy them when I can make them? Right? Except my use outstrips my production rate. Darn, darn, darn!

Which is what I am doing. I've darned my fugly socks, and I need to darn about three more pairs that have been retired from circulation for their own sake. None of the socks I have on the needles are for me, though. This is quite a dilemma. One that I would normally address by casting on. It's not like I don't have sock yarn...

But. Back to that spine bit. I need to work out some kind of negotiation with myself. Maybe if I finish the Norah Gaughan sweater (which already has a front, and half of the back) and my Grandma's socks (I am on the second!) I can then in good conscience cast on a pair of socks for myself. Whatdaya think?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

California looks a lot different than the East Coast

This is a bit of an understatement, I know. But I was on the East Coast (Pennsylvania, Massachusetts) for so long that I managed to forget. The U.S. is a big country, and because we have such an expansive freeway system and a common (for the most part) language, it's easy to forget. But really, the Atlantic and the Pacific are a long, long way away from each other. I had a roommate in Philadelphia treat me like I was stupid because I could not figure out that the tree in the back yard was an oak tree. I know what an oak tree looks like - I was raised in the country, I was a logger's daughter, for krissakes. But in Philadelphia, an oak tree looks like this, and to me, an oak tree was like this or this. There is not just one tree, and you stick me in the woods in California, and I could readily play Name That Tree. (Of course, even the concept of "woods" is different on the East Coast, at least below Maine. This is what I consider "woods," whereas this was the Mid-Atlantic notion of "woods." Notice the difference?)

But, flora aside, the weather and even the quality of the light and air is different. (Thank goodness - I am allergic to Philadelphia! Can you say, five year cough?) My former partner-boyfriend-whatnot was amazed at San Francisco's ability to be simultaneously overcast and summery without also being muggy and filthy. Right now, it is July, and the high expected today is 67 degrees F. It was breezy, too. I wore a cardigan. In Philadelphia today? High of 90 degrees F. Boston? 88.

Then there's architecture, and the way people garden. People generally like to garden in California - it's obvious just walking down the street. This may be because people actually have some yard, but I lived in places on the East Coast with yards, and it just wasn't the same. It's hard to put my finger on it exactly, but in my opinion, Californians are more relaxed about their gardening. The yards may not be tidy, but they are gardened. Sometimes with abandon.

(This is a birdhouse post in the driveway at Sibling #3's wedding last month.)

I have been away from California long enough to think that the East Coast way was normal, so when I came back, I saw the difference. It was like running into an old friend with whom you have almost always gotten along swimmingly, so much so that you wonder why you ever lost touch, and why you now hang out with such tight-asses.

So, while I still have some wonder, I will be posting pics every now and then of California stuff. Things like stuccoed bungalows, manicured trees and camellia bushes; beaches, and birdhouses and, of course, people flopping around in rivers.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Not Knitting Much

Today, I:
  • had a cup of instant cocoa with a teaspoon of instant coffee for breakfast;
  • had the same, sans coffee, for lunch;
  • am being very bad, but hey! It's not Spam.

Discussion of the aforementioned Spam lately has caused a friend of mine to threaten to draw a comic chronicling the hunt and capture of the elusive animal that is Spam. I will let you know if anything comes of it.


Yep, I am. Well, sort of. I am slacking in the knitting department. I have two socks hanging around, pining for my attention.

First, we have the Child's First Sock in Shell Pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks that I have been making for forever:

(This is the second sock, thank goodness!)

And second, the Gentleman's Fancy Socks from the same book:

This, would you believe, is a boyfriend sock. It's all a kind of odd circumstance kind of thing, but suffice to say, I am making this with a resolable foot because I am feeling optimistic that I'll be around to see the holes start to form. There are those that say you can't revisit your past, but I'm starting to figure out that that isn't quite true.

And I finished a sock before all this knitting inertia began!

However, the picture will not load.

What, you may wonder, have I been doing if I am not knitting much?

Well, crocheting, of course.

Friday, July 25, 2008

My indiscrimate palate

Today, I:

  • had #20 to go from Jack-in-the-Box for breakfast;
  • had what I believe was #6 for lunch;
  • am drinking a soda, and a lot of tea with creamer;
  • am reconsidering my eating habits of late, including my utter and obvious failure to go vegan.

The only explanation that I can really find for my inability to avoid animal products at this juncture is that I am up to my neck in a kind of therapeutic, culinary hedonism. Therapeutic, I say, because it couldn’t just be plain caving in to cravings and whims. No, indeedy. I have, to my horror, bought and eaten beef within the past month. Twice! And then I spent a half hour searching the Berkeley Bowl near my apartment for the right kind of dry Italian salami. Which I ate most of in one sitting.

So, stomachaches are abounding. Ten plus years of pseudo-vegetarianism does not prepare one for binging on some top-notch imported salami, nor fast food, even if it is chicken for the most part. I am not kidding. Despite the occasional bacon binge, and the fairly steady stream of fish and chips and grilled salmon I ate over the years, my tummy is spoiled. It expects a certain amount of non-processed foods, not too much salt or sugar, and a fair amount of raw carrots. (The latter of which, it is still getting, for the most part.) It can not handle Spam. I know this for a fact.

Spam? you say. Well, yes. Spam. I am revisiting my past, I am sorry to say, through my taste buds. My mother was married to a Filipino when I was a teenager (See: Sibling #5 & #7. ) and as a consequence I was exposed to a whole range of food choices I would have otherwise have missed out on*, like purple cake, pig’s blood sauce, crunchy embryonic ducks and Spam. (Spam was the only thing I missed other than the cake.) So I fried me up some Spam just like in the good old days, and after two pieces (thank goodness I bought the small can!) I was ready to lie down on the floor. I’m not really sure what’s in Spam. I should look at the label, but right now, I’m suspecting it preserved with lye or saltpeter or something like that.

I think I am just about out of this phase. I’d forgotten how much speculating I had to do when I ate meat on a regular basis, way back when – how much discrete (or not so discrete) spitting out and examining of strange, inconsistent textures I had done. I’m having to do that again, and I am having far too many moments where I am simultaneously thinking “yummy/gross.” It reminds me of one of the things I read in a cookbook when I was eighteen and teaching myself to cook atop my dad’s Franklin stove about how it’s important to chop and trim things up in a uniform manner so that your guests eating the dish are not put off by any inconsistencies. It’s easy to forget when it’s carrots or something you’re chopping up, but quite another matter if the odd bit might be… gristle.

*If it hadn't been for this marriage, I would have only been exposed to Samoan food, American food, and Philippine food in an incidental way... such as that time when I was twelve and I accidentally ate dog in the South Pacific. (It wasn't bad.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Mug Cozy

In a bought of impulse buying, I ordered the KnitPicks Renaissance Sampler. I'm pretty happy with it so far. It was a real toss-up which sampler to get - since they come with patterns to test out the yarn, it was a choice not only between a color scheme but what to make with them - and the Renaissance Sampler won out mainly because of this cozy. (Sorry if this picture induces vertigo. I was trying to take an interesting angle, and I may have succeeded too well.) I liked this pattern and the yarn, Main Line, although cabling with it hurt my hands a little.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Some greenery

I went back to my home town for the Fourth of July weekend for some nostalgia, dropping in on family, and of course, skinny dipping. It's hard to believe that it had been almost eight years since I had last been swimming, and over ten years since I had owned a bathing suit. But I managed. Somehow.

My camera is having issues with it's memory card, so I was unable to take as many pictures as i would have liked. I had to therefore focus: quality, not quantity. I'm not very practiced at photographing things, so the quality has has to be in the area of the subject, rather than the photo itself.

I took a lot of photos of my dad's jungle - I mean, back yard:This is the fence he built to annoy his neighbor. We both agreed it had a pleasing, artistic, rustic effect. (Keep in mind, this is Northern California, not L.A. We do pleasing rustic.)
My dad's pond, which I believe is an old tank he welded in half and implanted in the ground. He used to have goldfish in it but the skunks kept eating them. You know how it is.
If you look closely in the center of this photo, under one of the leaves of grass that comes across the photo from the right, you can just barely see my dad's toad eying me suspiciously from beneath a leaf on the other side of the pond. My dad says he came to the pond as polliwog and stuck around. This toad is about the size of my fist, and he was determined to wait me out.
Birdhouse and rambling roses. Mendocino County has a lot of rambling roses, and so does my dad's yard.

The well. With a redwood burl on top of it for some reason. This was the least of the mysteries of the labyrinth that is my dad's yard. Mine is not to reason why, but merely ask where he got these things and what it's called.

For instance, I have no idea what the object in the background is. A stump? A disintegrating dishwasher? I have no idea.
This, however, I can identify. Nature's Toilet Paper, a.k.a. a thimbleberry bush, which is not under any circumstances (or at least, it is to be fervently hoped) to be confused with the stinging nettle, a plant which has the unfortunate tendency to grow with thimbleberries. Thimbleberry leaves are large and have a pleasing peach-fuzz texture. Stinging nettles do not.

Last, but not least, we have rocks and old bottles.

This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as collecting goes in my dad's house, and evidence once again of the importance of a convenient LYS. If my dad knit, this could have been yarn.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Hex Scrap Afghan

This is an afghan I have been working on using vintage yarn oddballs I got from my grandmother and grand aunt. I noticed there was a bit of interest in it over at Ravelry, so I've decided to post my recipe here. I apologize beforehand on my garbled instructions!

Hex Scrap Afghan

Yarn and equipment
I used worsted and aran weight yarn for this project on an H/5 mm hook, and sometimes doubled sports weight yarns. It’s all a matter of preference – whatever works for you!

A NOTE ON COLOR: I had a loose color strategy with this afghan that you might find useful. It was based on two points: #1 was to use no white or cream. #2 was to use one color that really popped in each hex, and mixing it with colors similar but not as obnoxious as it to make it blend. For example, neon pink went between orange or red sometimes, or brown, etc. This meant that I could use all the CalTrans Orange and chartreuse 1970's yarn I had without being blinded by the end result. :)

Ch = chain
Sl = slip stitch
Dc = double crochet
St = stitch

Basic Hex:

Set-up: Chain 6, join with sl to make circle, careful not to twist.

Row 1: Chain 4 (3 ch = 1 dc, + ch1), *dc in next st, ch 1, repeat from* 11 times, sl into the 3rd ch st of the chain 4 made to begin the row. This should look like a wagon wheel. Cut yarn and change color.

Row 2: Join new yarn at a “ch 1” in preferred method. (I like to do a sl where I pull the yarn end through the stitch so that I can secure it by crocheting over it with the next couple stitches.) After joining yarn, ch 3, dc into same space (makes 2 dc), 2 dc into following st, chain 2, *2 dc into next st, 2 dc into next stitch, ch 2, repeat from * until you have six ch 2 spaces, sl into the top of the ch 3 you began the row with. Cut yarn and change color.

Row 3: Join yarn at a “ch 2” space, ch 3, then work 3 dc’s between it and the next “ch 2” space, 1 dc into “ch 2” space, ch 2, *1 dc into “ch 2” space, work 3 dc’s between it and the next “ch 2” space, 1 dc into “ch 2” space, ch 2, repeat from * until you have six “ch 2” spaces. Cut yarn and change color again.

And from there its basically Row 3 over and over again with 2 dc’s added between the “ch 2” spaces for each following row. For instance, Row 4 has 5 dc’s, Row 5 has 7 dc’s, etc. I stop alternating colors at Row 4 and make Row 5 my background color (black). Then I mattress stitch it all together.

I hope this isn’t too confusing - I've just tossed these instructions together. Let me know if you need clarification.