Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Happy Holidays

The b/f & I don't celebrate Christmas (I'm Jewish, he's a Scrooge), but Dec. 25 is the b/f's father's birthday, so we had a birthday party.

Choosing presents was a challenge, since the birthday boy said he didn't need anything. However, we did come up with a few ideas, including a Stuff On My Cat calendar (that site cracks me up every time I look at it), some handknit potholders (his were probably nearly as old as I am), homemade cookies, and the like.

A few weeks ago, he commented that he might dust off the bread machine bought for his late wife several years ago, and try making bread. So, I wrapped up a bag of King Arthur bread flour with a copy of my favorite bread machine cookbook, Men's Guide to Bread Machine Baking (out of print, but not hard to find). When he opened this gift, he started laughing so hard that he had tears in his eyes. For some reason, he found it highly amusing that a couple of years ago, we gave him a lump of coal, and this year he got a sack of flour. Since laughter is very healthy, I decided this was a good thing.

After the presents, we played with his model trains:
And then the steam engine (look closely; you can see the steam from the exhaust, and the tiny light that is lit by electricity generated by the dampfmachine):
This was Peter's first time to see (and hear) the steam engine; he had reservations.
I had a happy holiday; I hope you did too, whichever holiday(s) you chose to celebrate!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Not a mistake

Here are my warm wool socks, made with some of the purple yarn I was experimenting with a couple of weeks ago. If you look close at the ribbing (click on the pic to enlarge), you'll see that it's, well, asymmetrical. I was about halfway down the leg of the first one, when I noticed the cuff didn't look quite like I expected. You see, I was working with 40 stitches, 10 on each needle. As I worked the k2, p2 ribbing for the cuff, I didn't notice that I was ending each needle with k2, then starting the next needle with k2, resulting in a k2, p2, k2, p2, k4 rib. Since I didn't feel like frogging, I decided it wasn't a mistake, but rather an unintended design element.

While I've made several pairs of socks for CIC with this yarn (hand dyed Lion Fisherman's Wool), this is the first pair for myself. Wow, are these thick and warm! Makes me feel even better about those socks warming up toes in Russian orphanages.

Right now, our weather can only be described as balmy. However, Dave Murray says that is going to change (big surprise - Missouri weather is always changing). He's predicting a very cold January, so I'm glad I'm ready.

I thought I'd try another experiment--an all-wool potholder (a change from the hemp/wool one's I've made so far). I made this mitered square from bits of Lion Fisherman Wool I had lying about--leftovers from socks, small dye experiments, etc. I call it my potluck potholder. It's pretty big--about 11 inches square; I plan to toss it in with the next load of laundry and shrink it down to potholder size. If I'm as happy with it as I am the hemp/wool ones, I have a new use for all those scraps! I used 5.0 mm needles, for a gauge of 4 stitches/inch. I started off with 91 stitches, and used up 2 ounces of yarn. Hope it's thick enough to do a good job, once the felting is done.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Seeing purple

I've been playing around with wool and Rit dye, as a little change from Koolaid. I've been trying to get a particular shade of purple, so I keep trying smaller and smaller amounts of dye.

I'm using the liquid stuff, not the powder. From left to right, I used 2 oz, 1 oz, and 1/2 oz dye per 100g yarn. (I also added 1/3 c vinegar to each dyepot.) Doesn't the one on the right look just like the one in the middle? OK, I confess, I haven't been doing this as scientifically as I could. When I used 1 oz dye, I actually had a little more than 100g yarn (how much more? I don't know, just a little...). And the skein on the right is a different brand from the other two, so I suppose that could affect results as well. Oh, and I used more water on the last skein, but the same amount of vinegar, so that would affect the pH also. Man, I really didn't follow proper protocol with this, did I? Oh well, as long as I write down everything when I finally get the color I want, I should be OK.

With this cold weather (looks like St. Louis will actually have a winter this year), I need another pair of thick wool socks, so the middle skein has already been cast on as a pair of socks for me. I am still working on the cuffed ankle socks, but I made a mistake 3 rounds back (how on earth did I accidentally do an m1?). I guess I'm going to have to tink 3 rounds, which doesn't thrill me, so I decided not to think about it for now.

The sun is out, and the ice is starting to melt off the trees. I'm hoping this will help Ameren UE restore power to the half million St. Louisans who are w/o electricity, including the b/f's father. Yep, it's a replay of the storms from last July. Now, if you ask a St. Louisan, "Where were you in the blackout of '06?" they can answer, "Which one?"

Friday, December 01, 2006

Snow Day

Yesterday was rain, then sleet, then snow. Big change from the day before, with a high of 71. Our oak tree is incased in ice:

The branches don't normally reach all the way to the ground like that; the ice is weighing them down. I hope nothing breaks.

Kaylee did a great job of getting me home last night, even though sleet had been coming down for hours and it was like driving on ice ball bearings. I expected to be the person in the office taking the calls from the folks who couldn't make it in.

Unfortunately, Kaylee is also incased in ice. I couldn't get the doors open; they were sealed with ice. When I called my boss to tell him I would be late, he told me not to bother coming in; hardly anyone was in the office. Not being one to argue with my boss, I graciously acquiesced. So, today is a snow day, perfect for hanging around the house and knitting. Unfortunately, the b/f has ideas for thawing Kaylee out and "having fun" in the snow. G-d help me.

Sarahkate asked in the comments if Kaylee is named for the character from Firefly/Serenity. On the nose, Sarahkate! Kaylee was so cute, yet so capable, I thought it was the perfect persona for my little Jeep.

Well, I'm off to knit until the b/f drags me out into the snow. If you're the praying sort, say one for me. All types of prayers accepted.