Sunday, October 31, 2010

Another afternoon at the IMA

I'm trying to soak it all in before winter comes.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Holly's Hederas

Over the weekend, we got together with friends to celebrate Holly's birthday.  Holly lives in Germany, so it was fantastic to have her in the States for her birthday.  Andrew and I gave her a CD she wanted, and I knit her a pair of socks.

Hedera pattern, Gemstones sock yarn in Sapphire colorway

We ate at one of my favorite breakfast places--the sort of place where you get two giant pancakes as a side item to whatever else you're eating--and then went to a special showing of.... wait for it....

Back to the Future

Not only did we see the movie on the big screen in all its '80s glory, but they also gave away posters at the end of the show.  I had seen the movie, but not in a long time so I didn't remember much at all.  A couple of my friends dressed up in '80s gear in honor of the film, legwarmers and frosty lip gloss and so forth.  Andrew and I could compete in an International Introvert Contest (except that no one would come because introverts don't do that sort of thing), so all we were willing to do was wear appropriate t-shirts: Mr. Yuk for me and an Oregon Trail one for Andrew.

It was a really fun way to spend a Saturday.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Startling Things I've Learned

Wednesday night's Master Gardening class was on vegetable gardening.  It was the session I was looking forward to the most, and it did not disappoint.  Here are a few tidbits I learned:

1.  Soil temperature matters a lot.  Putting black plastic over your garden soil will help raise the soil temperature, which is good.  Using organic compost will lower it.  I'm certainly not willing to give up the organic compost, but next year I'll put down the plastic to help counteract its cooling properties.  You can cut holes in the plastic for the plants and leave the plastic in place the whole season.

2.  My squash couldn't have cross-pollinated.  I had no spacorn.  I still don't understand the spaghetti squash that the plant produced--it was nothing like spaghetti squash I've eaten before--but it couldn't have been a cross.  I'm deeply humiliated by this.  I took Genetics in college.  I spent an entire semester in the lab crossing fruitflies and counting the progeny.  (Fruitflies with vestigal wings tend to have a high mortality rate.  They drown in their own food.  It's a sad way to die, and it wreaks havoc on your results.)  I know that a cross would produce seeds that were a cross, but the parent wouldn't be affected.

I'm so embarrassed.

3.  Peppers should be planted two weeks after tomato plants.  Peppers are very sensitive to cool soil temperature.

4.  Tomatoes can be picked at the breaker stage, the stage at which there is a hint of color, and allowed to ripen indoors.  They will taste just as good as if they ripened fully on the vine.

5.  I don't fertilize nearly enough.  When the garden is planted, 1 c. of mixed water soluble fertilizer should be used for each plant.  Then it shouldn't be fertilized again until tomatoes are about golf-ball sized to avoid the plant producing tons of foliage at the expense of tomatoes.  Fertilize again two weeks after the first tomato is ripe, and again four weeks later.  If you're using granular fertilizer, you should "sidedress" plants by applying it a few inches away from the plants so the plants don't get burned by the fertilizer.

6.  For gardens and the lawn, water more deeply and less often.  Water so the garden gets very wet, then let it dry out completely.  Lawns, at least bluegrass lawns, can make it 4-6 weeks without significant moisture before there's damage.  In a drought like we're experiencing this year, you should water your yard very deeply once a month.  We, of course, didn't do that, so it will be interesting to see what happens next spring.

Hope springs eternal.  Even though the garden was a failure this year, at least in my opinion, I believe that armed with new knowledge I shall produce wonders next year.  This is why we garden.

And this is why gardening companies stay in business.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

An Afternoon at the IMA

Yesterday afternoon I spent a couple hours with fellow students from my master gardening class at one of my most favorite places, the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  I scrawled down the names of some interesting trees and shrubs (like the Beautyberry with its improbably purple berries), but mostly I just enjoyed how lovely it is there.

It was this kind of afternoon

with some of this

and this

and this

and then this.
This is sacred space.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Chart Defeated!

At Pumpkin Carving Night, I snagged Kyle to help me decipher the chart.  He is not as confounded by pictures as I am.*

There were pencil marks and measuring and careful counting and cut up pictures of the chart that were taped together and much puzzling.

Today at lunch I successfully knit 3 rows.

What else you got, Knitting Fates?

*What's wrong with WORDS, I ask you?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

5th Annual Pumpkin Carving Night

Tonight was Pumpkin Carving Night.  Here are seven of them:

And the middle one in this picture is the only one that didn't make the above lineup:

Here's a closeup of Andrew's:
The fuzziness makes it more ethereal and mysterious, don't you think?

Mine is this one:
You might think, "Hey, that's just a pumpkin with a bunch of circles cut out of it!  That's not in the spirit of the holiday!!"

To you, I say, "Remember this?"

Image found here.
My pumpkin dressed up like Charlie Brown.

I hope your pumpkin carving nights are as fun (and free of injury) as this one!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


A very dear friend fell in love with the Deco Lace Jacket on the cover of Issue 22 of The Knitter.  I told her I would knit it for her.  This made me somewhat fearful as I have had a problem with sweater fit in the past.  Nevertheless, I put on my big girl panties and cast on.  It's only yarn, after all.

You'll note when you click that link that it takes you to a page of errata (corrections).  It says, "There is an error in the key for the chart. The symbol appearing as a three-pronged fork should say Sl 1, K2tog, psso and not Sl 1, K1, psso as printed."

In case you're not a knitter, let me tell you what this means:

Every row with this symbol is going to be a stitch off.  The pattern won't line up correctly, and you won't be able to understand why.  This will happen on a startling number of rows.

That second sleeve that you've started?  You have to figure out how to fudge the numbers in the middle and right side of the row so you've got the correct stitch count but don't shift the lace pattern.  This may drive you put a little more peppermint schnapps into your cocoa than is strictly necessary.

That first sleeve you spent hours knitting, then ripped out because it was wrong, then hours knitting again?  It may have to be ripped out again.  If you're able to get the second sleeve fixed, it's possible that the correct lace pattern will look so different from the garbage you knit on the first sleeve that you'll have no choice but to rip out the first sleeve and redo it.

In short:

You are screwed.

This is painful for several reasons.  

  • I have spent a significant number of hours feeling stupid and frustrated by this pattern.  It literally made me break into a sweat yesterday.  I loudly shared some unpleasant language that startled my dog.
  • I fail to understand how so many patterns get to the publication stage with errors.  PEOPLE TEST KNIT THEM.  Do they unconsciously correct the error when they see it?  I don't understand.*  It's way worse than typos in books, and those make me want to stab people.
  • I know better than to knit a pattern without first checking online for errata.
That's the real kicker.  I know better.  I know that there are often corrections for patterns, and, while that makes me nutty, it's certainly better than no corrections at all.

The problem is that I don't have faith in myself.  I spent hours convincing myself that lace is hard (it is) and that either I just wasn't paying careful attention to the knitting (I was) or I wasn't a good enough knitter to do lace without many, many mistakes (I am).  Even though I know better, I decided that the problem was me and not the pattern.

I'm not Elizabeth Zimmerman, but I can knit, damn it.  I've only been doing this four years, but I do it a lot.  I've done projects that were way harder than this sweater (remember?), and although I'm not visual and therefore chart reading is tricky for me, I certainly can do it.

I just wish I would have remembered all that before I spent so much time knitting an incorrect pattern.

*Test Knitters and Designers:  I know you're human.  I do not in any way mean to imply that I expect you to be perfect.  I don't.  Honest.  But is it so much to ask for several people to test knit a pattern in order to up the chances of finding the problems before they go to print?  I mean, it's a cute sweater.  Surely there are a few people who want to test knit that sweater and keep it for themselves, right?

Monday, October 11, 2010

An Afternoon in 1836

The pressure of finding something suitable to do on 10/10/10 was too much for us, so we spent yesterday afternoon in 1836.

We went to Conner Prairie, an interactive history museum, with Andrew's brother, sister-in-law, and our extremely adorable niece.*

As this old journal states, we had beautiful weather, warm and sunny.

There were fiber arts everywhere.  Those are giant mittens that were hanging up in the hotel in Prairietown.  They were probably 12" long.  I dig knitting as art.

A basket of yarn and some knitting needles were on a table in one of the bedrooms...

...along with a basket of fleece. Again, I say how thankful I am that I don't have to clean fleece in order to knit.

In the weaving shop, a woman was working on a new carpet for the Conner House. She said it took her about four hours to weave one yard of fabric. She had skeins of naturally-dyed yarn hanging up in the weaving area.

Inside the Conner House, you can see the woven carpet along with a basket of crafty goodness.

Inside the modern exhibit hall, there was an exhibit where kids could design quilt squares on a computer.  Beside it hung a very cool quilt.  The four pictures below are squares on that quilt.

After we were finished, we went to the Apple Store, which has nothing to do with Steve Jobs, and had a carmel apple and a cider slushy.  Andrew humored me when I saw this...

It was a really beautiful day, even if it was in the high-80s in October.  More pictures (of non-yarn-related nature) to come!

*This is She of the Lava Lamp hat.  Her parents said they'd send me a photo of the hat on the proper head.  Apparently it's much cuter on a baby than it is on a lava lamp.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Nonsmoking Cardi

I finished the nonsmoking cardi.  It makes me want to sit in front of a fire, petting the dog, drinking cocoa, and reading a British mystery.

#17 Cable/Lace Cardigan from Vogue Knitting Early Fall 2010 in Patons classic wool, royal purple colorway

Sadly, I have no fireplace, and, even if I did, it's supposed to be 87 degrees here today.  Still.

It's a bit frumpy, but I love it anyway.  I think it will look nice with black dress pants and perhaps a black shirt, but I wasn't willing to change for the photos.  (I'm wearing shorts in those pictures.  87 degrees.)

I've moved on to a sweater I'm knitting for a friend.  The lace pattern and I are having words at the moment, so it's nice to take a break and post pictures of something that reminds me that I can knit.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My Niece's Ears

Friday night my sister-in-law called me and told me that my niece needed a hat with earflaps.  I'd knitted her a red hot chili pepper hat, but her ears were getting cold.  This, obviously, is unacceptable.

Baby/Kid's Earflap Hat in Bernat Softee Baby yarn, Baby Pink Marl colorway

Lack of suitable models is not an uncommon problem.  I made do with the lava lamp. 

Quite a bit pointier than an infant's head, but it'll do in a pinch.  Better than buying a doll.*

Take that, cold winter!  I shall defeat you with my garter stitch flaps! 

Knitting kind of makes me feel like a superhero.  It's the best kind of superpower:  I don't have to confront anyone.  When I win the battle, there's something soft and pretty as a result.  I get to watch the telly while saving the world.  It's a good gig.

*Those of you easily creeped out would do well not to click that link.  No good will come of it.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hellborus Yoke Sweater!

I finished the sweater from the Tale of Woe.  Today it was chilly enough to wear it, so I had Em take some pictures at work.

Hellborus Yoke in Cascade Yarns 128 Chunky

If you remember, I had gauge trouble the first time I knit this.  This time I paid more attention to my swatch.  I still didn't get gauge, but I did math and ended up knitting the smallest size to get the measurements for the next to smallest size.  It worked, which still shocks me very deeply.  

Hooray for math!