Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Birthdays, nonsense and socks - Oh, My!

Happy Birthday to my Two-Headed Valentine!

Yep, today is my husband's birthday. After a lovely dinner and strawberry shortcake outside on the patio, he opened his presents - one of which is a bust of Winston Churchill. Andy's a big fan of Winston and decided that he could ride around on his shoulder. The rest of the gifts were great as well (One daughter gave him a "Nunchuks" - a little gun that shoots tiny nuns across the room!) but I know he'll be having some long talks with Winston.

Despite the festivities, I've been alternating work on my Flower Garden Shawl and the Poor Pink Socks. Nothing I do makes them look any better - I can only hope that steaming/blocking the heck out them will make them seem like a decent pair of socks. I did the first 2 1/2 inches with #2 needles and switched to #1 needles for the rest of the sock. It gives them a bit of definition at the lower calf and lots of room at the top. I've read a bit about this technique and I think I'd like to try it on the foot as well - but that will have to be another pair of socks and another story.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Pay no attention to the corn dog behind the curtain . . .

Sure, I'd like to say that I made good food choices at the State Fair but . . . I'd be lying. Yep, we had trips to the malted booth, the Pronto Pups, the mini-doughnuts and the free Cheetos. And chinese food. But we did walk all over the grounds (no one would let me visit the Sheep booth!) and had a lovely time so maybe, they actually balanced each other out. Right . . .

We also stopped by to visit my green Kiri shawl at the Textile Center display. No, I didn't enter it in the Fair (I knitted it for the Knitting Olympics and it had a few mistakes!) but I love it and they needed items from the Mn. Knitters' Guild for the display. Stop by and wave at it! GFMelissa has a cute little felted hat (with needle felted flowers) on display as well. Later on, I stopped by the Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers booth for some great Rosemary soap and a yarn-decorated bowl from Jennie the Potter. I hesitated over the yarn for quite some time but I'm still spinning quite a bit and until I make something with it, I'm feeling a little guilty.

Obviously, I didn't feel guilty enough. On Friday, I read on the TC Knit Yahoo list that Creative Fibers in Minneapolis was going to be closing at the end of September. Everything is currently 25% off. That is the store where I took my first spinning class and I feel so sad. Someone - buy that store!

So GFM and I bundled up all the kids and drove over to check things out. I bought another skein of All Things Heather sock yarn in Mustard Yellow and some Mohair/Wool spinning fiber. I was hoping to score some more Red Star Rovings but it was all gone. So, I really used up my State Fair self-allocated yarn allowance before I got there.

This week's Saturday Seven went right to someone who could use them. Someone posted a "Wanted" request for cloth diapers on Freecycle this week and I was able to give them the end of my diaper stash - nine diapers and four covers. Yes, we used cloth diapers until they wouldn't stay on Youngest Child's bottom any more. Then, we moved into disposables and training pants. Not me, personally, I've been trained for years! The Royal/Group "We." So, I bundled them up for the recipient and they were picked up yesterday. I could have kept them for cleaning cloths but they were really nice diapers!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Read This Or Else! (a.k.a. Revenge of the Giant Pumpkin)

Here I am, shuffling along with my Giant Mistake of a Pumpkin, and this guy is putting me to shame. He started this Flower Basket Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark in SeaSilk just about the same time as I started my blue shawl and it is gorgeous. And then - he gave it away. Yes (well, he is a guy and it might look funny on him) - off it went. I would have a hard time giving away anything so pretty.

This Boy Knits: Heh, my bad

Oh - here's the flat version of my pumpkin. I loved making the leaf and vines but the pumpkin - eh, not so much. It was just too big. The pattern was great, however, and I recommend it to others. Just give up your social life as it will soon revolve around giant squash.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Just a little something - something

So, today I finally finished the stem on my Giant Felted Mistake of a Pumpkin. The sad part was that I had to beg Good Friend Melissa to give me her left-over bits of green yarn as I didn't have any. She (Also known as "Muy Great Stasher of Cascade 220") had the tab/butt ends of three different green yarns on hand and I used Knit Picks Yarn of the Andes in Evergreen. Now, I just need to knit the leaves and twirly vine (I need to get out some different needles) and I'll be done.

Unfortuntely, I don't have a top loading washing machine any more so I'll have to visit my local laundremat to get it felted.

Tonight, I took the Lousy Pink Sock to the MN Knitters' Guild meeting. It got a little air before I was lost in the Maggie Jackson designs shown in the fall fashion show. My sister (the one with the baggy 1824 seater) has expressed interest in "a little something" for her cold shoulders and I think the Maggi Knits might just have the answer.

And I bought "Romantic Knits" by Annie Modesitt. I think they might be a little too young for me but I expect to change my mind after some bedtime reading.

Oh and Sunday's results?

Bib number: 509
age: 42
gender: F
location: Saint Paul, MN
overall place: 350 out of 400
division place: 20 out of 25
gender place: 161 out of 197
time: 1:43:40
swim: 17:33
trn1: 3:42
bike: 46:15
trn2: 2:16
run: 33:56

So I ran faster but biked slower. Hopefully, I beat the 80 yr. old man. He's the Twin Cities triathlon standby - anouncers like to mention him when he's racing. Unfortunately, once, I came in right behind him. Now, we are in waves and I probably started after him BUT . . . I can only hope he doesn't knit socks.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Apres Moi - the deluge!

Yep, it is now pouring rain in Saint Paul. It was rainy yesterday and misty this morning but now - The Rain! The Wind!

I notice this because this morning I had my last triathlon of the year, the Saint Paul Triathlon at Lake Phalen. I've never had to worry about being too cold during a race but there's always something new. Usually, the water is the coldest part but today, it was the warmest! No attractive photos to follow - poor Andy had to find a sheltered spot or he would have looked like a drowned rat.

There were several of us from the YWCA of Saint Paul participating and I can't wait to find out how they're all feeling. I didn't linger in the rain to find out any of our race times.

So, now, after a hot bath, a grilled cheese sandwich and one viewing of "84 Charing Cross Road" later , I'm ready to reveal the contents of the Saturday Seven. Gold? Jewels? Household furniture? No. Just an odd assortment of hand-me-downs: four pairs of pants from Youngest Daughter, a paperback book "accidentally" left by a friend of Middle Daughter (she had to read it before throwing it out!) and two pairs of socks from Youngest Child. Off to the fall sale at Saint John the Evangelist.

Things will hopefully settle down this week - Monday is the first day of school for my teenagers (Youngest Child goes to school after Labor Day) and I am looking forward to some decent knitting time. Now, if I could only do it on my bike trainer!

What's on my needles? The Ever Increasing Pumpkin Effect (almost done), the pink Miss Violet sock (turned the heel) and my blue Flower Basket Shawl (another repeat) as well as a line or two of Andy's Brown Sweater. Someone should just lock me in my room with just ONE project and make me finish. But not right now, it's time for a nap.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

All about the free or . . . how I was attacked by a zucchini and survived!

So, my Oldest Daughter and I were out biking this morning (I'm trying to get in some mileage before Sunday's Saint Paul Triathlon) when we ran across a lawn chair in some one's front yard with a "FREE Tomatoes and Zucchini" sign. And lots of great tomatoes and squash. So, we loaded up our bike jersey pockets with tomatoes (we looked like we had some odd case of tumors) but what to do with the squash?

As we biked along, I told OD that I really should be chasing her, zucchini in hand, yelling something like, "Take it back! Take it back!"

Here's the stash, minus the zucchini. I think we ate three already.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Sister Scores Big Time!

So, Oldest Daughter was at work recently and began discussing knitting with a co-worker. This older women mentioned that she was going to be moving and needed to get rid of her spinning wheel. Well, yesterday Oldest Daughter came home with the spinning wheel, an Ashford Single Drive Traditional wheel, and a big box of spindles, accessories and dyes. All for $50 cash!

She needs to get things adjusted and spend a little time restringing the wheel but then, she's good to go. What good fortune!

And, now I don't need to share my spinning wheel!

On the knitting front - I am still finishing up the Giant Pumpkin. This is moving from a "Fave" to an "Ugh" as they call it on Ravelry.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

I may not be able to grow zuchinni but I will have the Pumpkin to beat all pumpkins!

Remember this?

Now, this is what it is becoming.

But it is STILL on the needles! This better be the best pumpkin I've ever seen. Or I forsee Pumpkin Pie on the menu.

As for the Saturday Seven - it was more of the same. The last collection of clothing for the Fairfield Children's Home went with a young lady from our church. She is going to study and work in Zimbabwe this fall and is collecting items for use in the home. I can only hope the shorts and teeshirts are what they are looking for.

This weekend is the Irish Festival in Saint Paul and we had the dickens of a time finding a parking spot near our designated biking spot. Despite this, we had a great ride up and down the Missippi River. It was just gorgeous! Sometimes, I miss Pennsylvania (my home state) but there just isn't the same attention to outdoor activities there. Very few bike trails. Not a whole lot of lakes to swim in. Cross country skiing? What's that? We are very lucky here in Minnesota.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Settling in for the long haul . . .

I've been spending more time than usual in Chez Daisy knitting and spinning but really, there isn't much movement. Things are slow. The spinning is more of the blue ("Blue Skies" is the colorway) for Youngest Child's sweater. It's lovely - blue with a bit of a sheen but I'm having a bit of trouble mastering my new plying head. Good thing the yarn is for a sweater.

My poor pathetic pink sock. I didn't bother to reskein the yarn and steam out the kinks left by my last sock. Somehow, it seems ever sadder today. It's a good stop on the road to the last resort of knitting.

At least the giant pumpkin is still growing. I swore it would be done last week - I guess I'll have to give Rumplestilskin my first born child now. Or do I owe it to the witch who grows the rapunzel? Some fairy tale creature better show up and finish the pumpkin soon or I'll have to keep it in hibernation until next fall. Since I bought this yarn and patterns last year, I'm pretty sure my fall decorating will survive without it!

I've got some knitting company tonight - Die Kinder scattered as soon as we fed them ice cream (Ben & Jerry's "Steven Colbert's American Dream" Yum!) - but the Old Man and the Dog stuck around. Until the liver treats run out. Then, I'll be on my own.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

What Albert said to Elizabeth

If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.
- Albert Einstein, (attributed)
physicist (1879 - 1955)

I don't think Elizabeth Zimmerman ever met or even thought of meeting Albert Einstein but I think they both lived by this motto.

Today's heavy rain put the kibosh on my bike ride this afternoon (I am hoping to get a swim in instead) and after the weekend cleaning and shopping, I sat down with my soon-to-be-felted pumpkin and the DVD of EZ's "The Knitting Workshop."

As she teaches, Elisabeth obviously has strong ideas about how steps should be accomplished. However, she seems more than ready to toss out what doesn't work. If the pattern repeat doesn't fit - add in a few stitches in the underarm where no one will ever see. Too small of a cast on? Fudge it by increasing on either side of the waist. No seams for ease of folding? Phony Seams!

In other words, change the facts.

I have been working through my Works-in-Progress this summer with the end goal of having some extra time to make my own EZ percentage sweater this fall. It might be made of hand spun or I might use up my generous stash of Classic Elite Inca Alpaca. I haven't decided. But I have decided to change some facts. Like the fact that I already have one sweater on the needles right now.

This was a very poor photo of Andy's Brown Sweater last year. (Don't worry if you don't remember it - it's "hibernating" as they say on Ravelry - but I actually pick it up about once a week.) I am about belly button height right now.

I also have three other sweaters in my queue. BUT, no one is anxiously waiting for those sweaters, no one is actively wondering about the pattern. But I am pondering this every day - what wool, what size, what style - so I think it's time to toss out those facts and make my own. But first, this pumpkin has to go!

Saturday Seven was a motley lot: a briefcase, some extra plastic sheeting, an old fax machine go off to Freecycle and some little children's clothing for the Fairfield Children's Home.

Back to knitting - but if the sun pops out, I might have time for a ride!

Friday, August 03, 2007

"16 ways to make a stitch and every one is right!"

I've been spending a little free time today watching "Real Men Knit", a great documentary about men and knitting. One of the best parts is a "learn to knit a hat" segment with Eugene Bourgeois from Philosopher's Wool Company. I know how to knit a hat but his gentle and entertaining segment is excellent. That quote is from him and I believe it! I actually met him a few years ago at Stitches Midwest - their circular knitting patterns are famous - but I didn't have enough money to buy a sweater kit. Regrets! Regrets!

I won the DVD at the bag stuffing party for the "goody bags" at Stitch n' Pitch 2007 with the Minnesota Twins but I encourage people to buy it. It's a bit like knitting workshop or a Knit Night Out.

I've finally had my camera handy when I'm working on my Flower Basket Shawl. I keep it nearby but do only a line or two a day so it is moving along S L O W L Y! Not that hard, however.

Alas, unblocked, on-the-needles and with-life-lines-installed make it nearly impossible to photograph. Now, back to my travelling pair of socks (Miss V's Pink Ribbon yarn) and a pumpkin to be felted.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

A big crack and then . . .

For many people in Minnesota, things are forever changed because of the collapse of the I-35W bridge on Wednesday. I read some terrible stories and heard some amazing things about happened. For me, I am rarely near this part of town but I was driving around Minneapolis yesterday morning so my daughter could pick up her "I passed Driver's Ed" certificate. Just picture stop-and-go "rushing hour" city traffic - and then toss in a collapsing bridge. Wow. Please keep the families involved in your thoughts.

I did get an email today that seemed to sum things up:

1. what seems permanent in this world is not, and

2. that there is a story in creation beyond what we can see, and

3. that there are worse things than death.