Tuesday, July 30, 2013

To Present, or Not To Present

I'm a gift knitter. I like to make things people want, and that means I'll spend days knitting kneesocks if that's what someone wants.

Kneesocks like this:

How is it possible I didn't blog about these? I did them back in 2009! The only mention of them seems to be here. Note to self: Get better about blogging gift knitting once the recipient has received. My favorite part of these socks is that I made the skeletons on the Life sock flip off the skeletons on the Death sock. We may all have to die, but we don't have to embrace it.

Anyway, I like knitting for people. I also like knitting for myself. Right now, I'm nearing the end of a big gift knitting project, and I'm trying to figure out if I want to make a present I need for November or if I want to start a sweater for myself.

On one hand, November. That's a long time from now.

On the other hand, projects occupy space in my brain until they're finished. This is not just true for knitting, but it definitely is also true for knitting.

On the first hand, there is always a project waiting to be knit for someone else. I say that the November one is the last one, but we all know that's a dirty lie.

On the second hand,

Wait, there is no second hand.

Yay, sweater! I'm thinking this, but with cap sleeves.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Big Four Bridge

Andrew's grandpa worked for the railroad. The Big Four railroad bridge has been remade into a pedestrian/bicycle path across the Ohio River. On Saturday, a chunk of Andrew's family, us included, made the two-hour drive to Louisville, met up with Andrew's great-uncle and new wife, and walked the bridge.
It's beautiful.
The bridge itself is about a mile long, and they've built a long, spirally entrance to it on the Louisville side. (The Jeffersonville, Indiana side isn't quite finished. At the end of the bridge, you come to a fence. Then you turn around and walk back to Louisville.)

We wondered how many rivets were in the bridge. The answer seems to be "a lot."

If you look at Andrew's glasses, you can see the bridge. Plus, he's adorable.

They've done a pretty good job of preserving the history of the bridge. Along the way, there are a few information signs telling about the bridge, the repairs, etc.

The weather was extremely odd for July. It was in the 70s, windy, and slightly rainy. I'll take that over the normal 95 anytime. In Indy, we set a new record low for this time of year. HOORAY!

Looking out over the Ohio River, an Ani DiFranco lyric went through my head.

The sky is grey. The sand is grey. And the ocean is grey.
I feel right at home in this stunning monochrome, alone in my way.
Ani DiFranco's "Grey"
The weather was perfect for me. It was a nice walk, followed by a nice visit with Andrew's family. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


The Lycaena virgaureae socks are finished! The stitch pattern is really beautiful.
I like that the two purl stitches on each side travel down the length of the foot.

As I feared, I did run out of yarn just as I was ready to start the second toe. I kept looking at the two possibilities I had found to use for the toes, one variegated blue and one solid green. Wouldn't it be great if I could combine those two?
Oh, wait. I'm a knitter. I can. I knit the toe mostly in the variegated blue, throwing in a few green stitches now and then. You can certainly tell the toe is different from its mate, but I think it came out pretty well. I'm going to live with them awhile and see if the mismatched toes bother me. If they do, I'll take them both out and reknit. Toes don't take that long.
Lycaena virgaureae socks (mine ravelled here),

I particularly like how well this pattern worked with variegated yarn. It's hard to find a pattern that doesn't get lost with this sort of yarn, and I like this pattern enough to knit again.

But I'm going to make sure the yarn I use has 400 yards instead of 360.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Knit & Crochet Show

I stumbled upon the fact that the Knit & Crochet summer show was going to be held in Indianapolis. This show is put on by the Crochet Guild of America and the Knitting Guild Association. There were lots of classes, but I decided I did not want to use a vacation day to take any of them.

It seemed a shame, though, to miss the marketplace. When would a big show be so close again? I stopped by the hotel after work on Friday. Admission to the marketplace costs $5, and everyone received a reusable shopping bag from Skacel and an entry for a door prize.

The marketplace wasn't huge, but there were quite a few vendors. I promised myself I would make one complete trip around before buying anything.

Lion Brand was there, and they had all their LB Collection yarns there. These are fancier yarns than their standard line, and I was glad to get to pet them in person.

Newton's Yarn had a giant booth, and that's where I had to be careful not to have a falling down. They had tables marked 50% off, one marked 60% off, and then $5 and $10 tables. I looked carefully twice, but ultimately decided that I would be buying yarn because it seemed like a good deal rather than because I really loved it and wanted to knit with it. The fact that many of their skeins were gigantic--over 1000 yards-- helped. That much yarn is a big commitment. I walked away.

Ultimately, I only bought from one booth, and, because I love you, I'm going to show you the awesomeness.

Jennifer of Bur Oak Studios is from a suburb of Indy. She makes cool stuff out of old, metal knitting needles. I bought a bracelet and an ink pen, and I was sorely tempted to buy more (like this). Here's her etsy shop. She told me that she's happy to make custom items as well.

The bracelet has tiny rings made from the cross-section of knitting needles hooked together with jump rings. Even the clasp is cool and knitterly.

I like the bracelet a lot, but I love the pen.

I think it's beautiful. I would love it even if it had no knitting connection at all, but the fact that it does makes it even better.

The show was well worth the trip and the $5 admission!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

For the Want of 5 Grams

I finished the first sock for the Knitter's Curiosity Cabinet: Volume II KAL. It's very pretty.

Lycaena virgaureae socks (mine ravelled here),
knit in Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock Lightweight in a random mill end  

And it weighs 69 grams.

Guess how much yarn I have left?

The sock, naturally, has been in time out since I saw this problem.

This was a complete skein of sock yarn with 360 yards. Granted, I'm used to skeins with 400 yards, but I always have a significant amount left over. Granted, this pattern is over 72 stitches instead of my usual 64, and it calls for slightly larger needles because the nature of the stitch pattern makes it less elastic than stockinette socks.

Okay, it's not surprising I ran out of yarn. That doesn't make it any less frustrating.

Anyway, I've been trying to figure out if I'd rather have socks with mismatched cuffs or mismatched toes. My fear with mismatched cuffs is that perhaps I still won't knit enough of the sock with the mismatched yarn, and I'll end up with mismatched cuffs and toes.

I was complaining about this to Katie, and she suggested that I rip out the first toe and then knit both toes in a second color.

Problem solved.

I'm leaning toward the green yarn on the left for the toes, but I think the blue on the right would work as well. Thoughts?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

New Life for an Old Wagon

Like a startling number of things, it started with a pin: this one that came from an apartment therapy post. I told a few people to keep their eyes out for an old metal wagon I could have. My mom said, "You mean like the one back in the garage?"

Um, yes. Like that one.

Someone, my dad, probably, had painted it black at some point. I took a wire brush to it and was amused to see how much red paint was still under there. There was a lot of rust. This turned out to be a good thing. I was experiencing some guilt over taking a metal wagon and turning it into something other than Child Transport. I expressed these misgivings to a friend who said, "Honey, that thing is horrible. Nobody's going to want to put a baby in that. They'd need a tetanus shot."

Fair point.

Andrew helped me take off the wheels.

After running over everything with a wire brush to get the worst of the rust off, I started spray painting.

Let me take a moment to say that spray painting is like brush painting as motor oil is like chocolate. The learning curve is steep, and I'm not sure I did all that well. It was really tricky to cover.

A friend already owned metallic silver spray paint, so I used that on top of the red rustoleum I used on the wheels and handle. The tires required careful taping, but I ended up getting paint on them anyway.

There was much discussion about how best to treat the inside of the wagon. I planned to use it for plants, which meant that the wagon was going to get wet. I wanted to put off rust for as long as I could. Line it with plastic? Some special truck bed lining paint? Holes drilled to let water out?

The simplest solution was to spray paint an existing window box and plunk it in the wagon. I think it worked well, and it should help keep the wagon from rusting again due to water.

I filled it with impatiens. I know, I've been known to call impatiens "those horrible prissy flowers whose time has run out now that vincas exist." Still, there aren't very many good options for a full shade location. Here's hoping they impress me... and I remember that they need watered really frequently.

This was a pretty quick project. I didn't start until Friday after work, and everything was done by Saturday night, including all the drying time. I'm really happy with it!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Two Steps Back

I was making excellent headway on the Lycaena virgaureae socks.

Lycaena virgaureae socks (mine ravelled here),

As I traipsed down the leg, I thought, "Huh. I wonder why these two purl stitches are here. It seems odd. Oh, well. I bet she's going to do something awesome on the heel."

What I should have thought, of course, was, "Huh. This doesn't feel as elegant as Hunter's patterns usually are. Let me check to make sure I'm not doing something wrong."

Lesson: Read the pattern carefully rather than assuming that I know what it's saying.

Yesterday I took advantage of the day off to do a little work on my quilt. I sewed three strips of squares and then sewed them together. When I went to pin it to the rest of the quilt for the next seam, there was a problem.

I bought a quilting foot for my sewing machine. In all the sewing I had done yesterday, I had lined up the edge of the fabric with the outer metal edge of the foot.

That was wrong. It's supposed to be lined up with that weird notched line. I still maintain this is a stupid way to build a sewing foot, but the fact remains that I sewed them all incorrectly. One-eighth of an inch for each square means that the rows were over 3.5" too short. That can't be fudged.

That's ninety quilt squares. Ninety.

I spent a great deal of quality time with a ripper.

Here's what I choose to take away from this: I am a persistent person. I make mistakes, but I'm willing to do the work to correct them. These are excellent traits.

It's either focus on that or be plunged into the Pit of Despair by my mistakes. I choose the former.

Some days, it's just two steps back and no forward movement. That's okay.

I'm persistent.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Happenings in the 'Hood Update

It's been a weird spring and early summer around here. The last two years, we've been unreasonably hot and dry. So far this year, things have been wet and pretty cool. The plants are responding.

The coleus is doing great since I moved it to its own pot. I'm enamored by the way the leaves mimic the shape and color of the hydrangea leaves.

Speaking of hydrangea, look at this beauty:

This is the first time I've had "supertunias," and they're living up to the name. The Magellanica Perilla (dark stripy thing you see at the top of the picture) is cranky with curled leaves, but I don't know why. It's grown A LOT since I planted it in May.

My heuchera is blooming.

And the Kent beauty oregano is doing well! I've killed one of these before. (Please don't let this plant know. This time will be different...)

This is a mystery plant given to me by a friend. She told me it was a yellow perennial, and she'd forgotten the name. It's pretty, whatever it is. I had a moment in which I thought about not planting it because the yellow wouldn't match the color scheme I was doing in that bed. Then I realized I was being ridiculous and planted the yellow flower. Flowers = pretty. It doesn't matter what color it is.*

I have three coneflowers. I planted them last year, and I'm thrilled they made it through the drought. They didn't bloom last year, but they could hardly be expected to with the heat we had. This year, one and a half plants were beaten down pretty badly by a strong thunderstorm. I've put them in tomato cages to try to help them grow upright again. They look a little strange, but I'm hopeful that they'll straighten themselves out.

The balloon plant is blooming! You can see a full bloom plus a bud in this picture. I've killed one of these, too, so I'm thrilled it's doing all right.

These daisies will survive the apocalypse. Daisies, irises, and phlox subulata will survive to see a brave new world. These are spreading like crazy, and my attempt to corral them with a fence didn't last a day. I've had to move one plant because of the encroachment of the daisies, and I'm confident I'm going to have to divide these regularly. However, they're cheerful and beautiful and I choose to think of them as exuberant rather than invasive. They're just happy.

The aster is in full bloom as well.

The garden... well, it's green. I didn't pay attention to whether the tomatoes I bought were determinate or not, and so I'm having a hard time trying to get determinate tomatoes to cooperate with my string trellis. I'm not sure how this is going to play out.

I planted a couple tomatillos this year, and they're covered with blooms.

I'm even starting to see some tomatoes! With the stupid weather the past couple of summers, I didn't get a very good tomato harvest. I am really, really looking forward to a veggie sandwich with a big fat slice of a beefsteak tomato. Bring it, tomatoes. I'm ready.

Let me be honest: I only show you the success stories in this post. The phlox has turned ugly, there are brown bits of daffodils dotting the front beds, I can't seem to remember to deadhead anything, and I can't grow sunflowers. (Who has trouble growing sunflowers?) I also have poison ivy... again.  Still, even with the negative things, seeing little green tomatoes and flowers blooming makes me happy and grateful.

Even with the poison ivy.

*I've just learned this is a type of coreopsis. Who knew? It's Coreopsis grandflora.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Flowers in My Sleep

I'm not even sure what started it, but recently I became enamored with the idea of embroidering pillowcases.

Who does this? I mean, who does this in 2013? Apparently more than just me because there's at least one company that sells kits.

I bought this kit. It came with the two preprinted pillowcases and the pattern showing what colors went where. I went to Michael's, looked at the floss colors they wanted me to use, and then picked prettier ones.

The only change I made besides the colors (and I followed that fairly closely--green where they used green, purple where they used purple. I just picked nicer shades and used two greens instead of only one.) was that there were two flowers that only had petals on the bottom half of the flower. That made me feel like someone was interrupted in a game of "he loves me, he loves me not," and I don't want that sort of flower carnage wrecking my sleep. The orange one here is one that I fixed. It's a bit mashed looking, but not bad.

I started stitching before I checked out a book* from the library that discussed how to make the  stitches. I can tell where I learned to do French knots, and I can tell when I finally understood what they meant by the stem stitch. The stitches get better the farther right I move on the case, and the second is much better than the first. (This is a photo of the second one. I'm vain like that.)

I've done cross stitch before, but this was more fun. It's been years since I last did cross stitch, and I wonder if knitting will have made me more patient. Still, a girl only needs so many hobbies...

I don't know how much more embroidery I'll do (lots of embroidery patterns are hiiiiiid-e-ous), but these pillowcases make me super happy.

*I used Jenny Hart's Embroidered Effects. It's a good book. I recommend it.