Thursday, June 15, 2006

It's a Monster!!!

My 60" Addi circular arrived in the mail from KnitPicks on Tuesday and I resumed work on the pi shawl. At 1152 sts., about 1400 yds, and at least 60" not stretched out, this thing is a MONSTER!!! I pretty much have to work on it inside under the influence of air-conditioning (and diet coke) because it's too big and too warm to knit on it outside. I couldn't even lay the shawl out flat when I had both the 32" and the 60" needles in place during the transition/doubling process. Well, I said I wanted it to be big (just in case I never endure something like this again) and BIG it is! ROTFLOL

I've been keeping up with all my groups and email, but I haven't really been able to post this wek since I got bit by the unsavory, worm laden, email that attacked yahoo on monday. I had just opened a yahoo email account 2 days before the attack and the only people on my address list were my yahoo groups, which was fortunate in that they were the only ones that got the ugly mail sent from some lesbian source in my behalf. Of course the unsavory character that sent it was taking advantage of a loophole in the "new & improved" yahoo stuff that was implemented last week. Yup, that's progress for you! And most of the folks in my groups all hate the changes. Personally, I'm neutral at this point as to the improvements but I hate that I was attacked by the worm even though I never opened the email. I just trashed it and reported it as spam from the get go. The only good thing was that it didn't get to my other email accounts and I don't think it ever infected my computer. I'm sick to death of running scans for virii, adware, & spyware. The reality is, none of them are worth a hill of beans until after a worm like that is unleased on you. Then they can go write a program to fix the problem or prevent it from getting someone else in the future, but if you are in the targeted group, you are just SOL. period.

I've signed up for another lace KAL which starts in July. Melanie at pinklemontwist is offering another mystery stole along. Since I didn't knit lace last summer when she did the 1st KAL--Leda's Dream--this will be another new adventure for me. Oh boy! Better yet, I will be done with the pi shawl so I don't have to feel guilty about creating more ufos/wips. I finished one wip while I was waiting for my 60" needle, the Holly's Socks knit in KnitPicks merino. I'm still not in love with knitting fancy patterns into my socks, but this was only my 1st time doing it so hopefully it will grow on me. For now it only seems to increase the amount of time it takes to knit a pair of socks. My previous attempts all resulted in socks that were too big, either a little bit big or really big, but my holly's socks fit snuggly. I haven't washed them yet, but I think I probably want just a smidge more room for my feet. The best part is I now have the perfect match of sock yarn, needle size, and stitch count to achieve that perfect fit. It does take a little trial and error to get to this point. Somehow all the math in the world just doesn't quite do it.

I've also pulled the N Wiseman Shawl out of the ufo basket and started to knit on it again. For now, this is my portable project as the pi shawl is too big to be portable. However, with all the experince I've gained knitting the pi, I am more comfortable with this shawl and the Zephyr yarn. Zephyr is a 50/50 blend of wool and tussah silk and it is one of the most popular laceweight yarns out there. The price is reasonable and the yarn comes in a zillion colors, both solid and hand-dyed multicolors, and it does have a nice touch of a sheen to it. But the yarn is not a stretchy and elastic as the merino I've used or as supersoft as the baby alpaca or kid mohair I've knit previously. I just didn't love the feel of the yarn at first and the zephyr was finer than the other things I'd used. But I've adjusted to fine threads from using the gossamer and now the zephyr doesn't feel so foreign to my fingers.

Many folks will be using zephyr for the mystery stole, but I'm still debating what I want to do. I just got a bunch of natural merino laceweight from KnitPicks. I love the natural cream color although most folks buy this stuff to custom dye their own yarns. Then there's the 2 cones I bought from Colourmart. Melanie say it's not a wide stole and you can't alter the pattern to make it wider so if you want a more substatial stole you should knit it in a fingering weight yarn. I could double the dusty aqua cashmere which will make it about a fingering weight, but then I would have only 1150 yds and that might be just a tad shortof the 1200 recommended for the project. Running out of yarn on the border would be awful and I can't get more, so I probably won't do it. I have some alpaca cloud in "tide pool" which would knit up very nicely. The bonus is this color matches my new Coldwater Creek trousers perfectly, so I have a great wardrobe option from the start. Hmmmm...this sounds good. Decisions, decisions, decisions!!!!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Yee-Haw! Clue 4 is Done

Yee-Haw! I finally finished knitting the Clue 4 section of my pi shawl. Yup, all 96 blessed rows of the durn thang! Yes, it's beautiful, but I am half batty. I would have jumped up and down swinging my arms wildly in jubilation but 1) I have *so* much pain in my right shoulder and arm right now I could cry--swinging is out, and 2) I ain't done yet. Nope, gotta double those stitches to a ridiculous 1152 and starting bleeding--uh, start knitting the bleeding heart border that is. But that will have to wait until my care package from Knit Picks arrives with a 60" Addi circular needle in it. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever need a needle that long, but it was a snug (for me) fit to knit 576 sts on 32" and nothing short of 60" will handle this monster. I finished my 3rd ball of yarn on row 93 so it's taken about 1400 yds to knit the main portion of the shawl. Another yikes! I have 2 more skeins so I know I have enough to finish the border to my satisfaction.

I picked up some ufo socks (Holly's Socks) to knit on this afternoon. It's too warm to wear them right now, but I'd like to get them finished and off the needles. I still have the leaf shawl in coral Zephyr left to finish, but it's not talking to me at the moment. I could cast-on for the ostrich plumes scarf I promised to test knit for someone on the knitlist who hopes to publish the pattern. The glitch is she hasn't gotten the yarn or a commitment from the supplier that she hopes to use and frankly, I don't want to waste my time knitting it up in something else that may not meet her needs in the long run. The pattern is OK, basically a standard lace pattern with a simple selvedge edge on each side. It's knit in 2 pieces and grafted together at the center back, so it should be good for a newbie lace knitter. I have some fingering wt mohair that might work nicely and it's just enough for the project. I hate to dip into some of my lacewt stuff that is enough for a shawl to do a scarf. or I could use some of the leftover cashmerino from the Kiri shawl. That might be really nice too. Hmmmm.

I signed up for another mystery KAL that starts in July. I should have the pi shawl finished by then (please!!!!) so the timing is good. I missed out on the Amazing Lace Race KAL that I wanted to do, but my priority was to finish the pi so I wasn't able to meet the time frame. Ah, so many projects, so little time & energy & yarn. After all, there *is* more to life than knitting. Yup, like gardening. It was hot a dry today and I hauled the hose around twice today. But I have lots of baby tomatoes growing and my veggie box is progressing. My new hydrangeas are just starting to bloom (a big bluebird lacecap in a pot and 2 little forever pinks outside my window). The front bed is bursting out with daisies and the new transplants in the rose garden are making it despite the lack of rain. The liatris is also on the verge of blooming in the rose garden despite the bunnies nibbling on the leaves at night. Yup, I had to do another chili powder treatment yesterday to discourage the little critters. I love 'em but I want them to eat other things.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Aztec Pearl Verbena

I've never planted verbena before, but this lovely blush pink color of this hybrid along with the mounding trailing habit of this plant made it an excellent choice for a ground cover in the rose garden. The more I can cover with plant material, the less space there will be for the weeds which plague this bed. I set out 5 plants around the border of the bed and I hope they do well. Despite the fact they were on the "scratch and dent" half price table, they were beautiful plants ( I think they just weren't selling so they got moved out). I almost wish I had purchased a couple of more of them, but they aren't cold hardy and I hate to pay out too much $$$ for annuals. Posted by Picasa

Landmark Peach Sunrise Lantana

This is another new hybrid, Landmark Peach Sunrise Lantana. This one is a very soft blush pink and butter yellow combination-one of my favorites! I planted 2 in the rose garden but I may try to add at least one more as it is so pretty! This should do a wonderful job of hiding the bare ankles of my floribunda roses. Posted by Picasa

Miss Emme Inspects the Flowers

This is one of the new Lantana hybrids I planted this year, Lantana camara 'Christine'. I adore Lantana because it grows into a huge, sprawling bush 2.5-3 ft tall and attacts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds like mad! I've planted confetti lantana in the past, but I like the bright magenta to yellow colorway of this one even better. If I'm lucky and the winter is mild (as they have been recently), the lantana will come back again next year in late June or July. They sell it as an annual here (zone 6), but it's a perennial further south. Posted by Picasa

Pi Psychosis

I think I have have lost my mind. I have been knitting away at this same lace pattern for so long now I have reached a zombie-like state. Is this pi psychosis???? I just started the 1st row of the last repeat of the trailing vine. I only have 11 more rows to go in the 96 row section and I am *so* looking forward to getting this over and done with. I can't tell you how tempted I was to cheat and skip the last repeat, but I didn't. Besides, I need a bigger Addi to do the border. I ordered a 60" from Knitpicks last weekend and it won't get here until Saturday at the earliest so it's not like I can go on anyway. I'm just eager to be finished. Mom was sitting out on the deck with me tonight while I was knitting and she asked me why I was torturing myself. ROTFLOL! Uh, because it's LACE! Then she asked me what I was going to do with it when I was done. Oh duh, Mom! Sometimes she has no vision at all. I told her I was going to wrap myself up it in this winter and be warm and cozy--that I was going to drape it over the back of a chair and stare at it and smile and say "I knit this! Wow!" And this from the woman who readily chimed in with the rest of my family to tease me about my lack of imagination and humor as a child (the attributes she and my sister possessed in abundance). Of course people in the real world all think I have a delightful sense of humor and am very imaginative & creative. Only in my family am I the fuddy duddy. Geez......

I have been having a good time scrolling through the ebay listings for patterns and yarns and such. I've purchased several promising issues of the Burda Anna magazine. The neatest one was a "buy it now" lot of 5 issues for about $7. The seller was promoting cross-stitch but when I emailed her I learned there was lace knitting too (as I suspected). I snatched that one up fast as I knew the seller had no clue how popular the lace content was and that folks were gladly paying $8-10/issue for the lace knitting. Groovy for me! I was watching several bids last night and I was *so* tempted to join in the fun but my June allowance is mostly spent and it's not even halfway into the month. I finally had to admit to myself that buying on ebay was addicting and that I needed to simply turn the computer off, walk away from the desk, and do something else. I have enough patterns, newly acquired ones at that, and lace yarn to keep me busy knitting for at least a couple of months. I think the pi psychosis was to blame in part for this crazed state of mind. LOL

My garden is doing quite nicely and I have most things pretty much planted and set for the summer. I have been pulling the overgrown pansies out of the rose garden and replacing them with lantana, verbena, and a few petunias. The lantana is a new hybrid called sunrise peach and it is my favorite shades of blush pinks and yellows--very soft and pretty. I found the verbena on the half-price table and decided it would be the perfect ground cover plant to help keep the weeds at bay. Its a hybrid called Aztec Pearl and the flowers are also a blush pink. They are a perfect border companion to the peach lantana I set in behind them. I filled in the otherwise barren little spots with small pony pack petunias (also 50% off). I would have chosen other things, but I needed to be budget conscious and the petunias will do fine. The only downside is getting *down* to keep them deadheaded-a must for standard petunias. But I deadhead all my wave petunias anyway, so it's not that big a deal. I just trot around the yarn with a little pail and some snips and deadhead every morning &/or evening, so adding a few more plants to the routine is NBD. It's what I do to destress--I deadhead plants. It's better than deadheading people I suppose ;-)

I'm still waiting to hear back from the IRB about my research proposal. Sandra hadn't heard anything as of Tuesday either, so I guess I'll just have to wait another week. If I don't hear back by next week, I'll email Dr. Hall and see where's she's at with the thing. I figure it's passed the College of Nursing committe by now and I'm only waiting on the University board to approve it. I'm anxious to get going on my study so I can get done! I am ready to graduate and move on with my life. Can you tell I'm very restless and bored today????

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Stash Enhancement

I have been on a stash enhancing binge the last couple of weeks. Oh boy it *is* fun! this binge got started when I learned that I could buy amazing cashmere yarn at ridiculously low prices. The catch--you have to join ebay and buy the yarn from Richard at Colourmart in the UK. I have sucessfully avoided/boycotted ebay for 8 years after having a horrible experience in my first ebay transaction. Many of my tatting friends assured me it was an unfortunate "bad seller" experience and encouraged me to try ebay again--after all, there's awesome stuff to be had on ebay. I refused to bite. I figured there wasn't anything I neede that bad, and besides, I am so poor I don't need to be tempted by ebay. And so I wasn't--until the cashmere lace yarn came into my life. I just had to have some--and so I bit!

Ah, the evil fruit of ebay. I scroll through the listings of yarn, and patterns, and tatting things, and I drool and lust and waste oodles of time. I bought that first cone of cashmere. Next came a cone of lambswool and angora in a bright bubblegum pink. Now that will dazzle the eyes once knitted LOL But this week I have gone crazy finding vintage lace pattern in Burda's Anna magazine-the premier German needlearts publication. I won bids for 2 lots of Anna (6 issues) from the 80's and I just went gaga as I thumbed through each issue. Now those are great magazines. Why can't Americans have such great designs? Those mags came from a lady in Montana who bought the inventory of a craft store that closed. OK, not so bad. But then last night I won another auction for 1 issue. It's coming from Germany and the text is in German! The other ones were in English. Oh, but there is an amazing lace knit tablecloth in this issue that was screaming out to me. Yikes!

I have promised myself to improve and not buy any more stuff on ebay for awhile. I have lots of new lace patterns to choose from. After all, I just bought myself the Kinzel 2nd book of modern lace knitting and Meg Swansen's a gathering of lace as a birthday present to myself. I have enough lace yarn to knit for the rest of the summer right? Well, uh, sure. But I needed to go to the Knit n Purl to get a size 9 Addi (32") and some fingering wt. baby yarn to knit some booties for Kasey's baby. And darn that Melissa if she hadn't just stuffed the 50% off corner with tons of discontinued yarns. I could have spent $100 quick if I had the money. To make it worse, she had new skeins of Helen's Lace yarn from Lorna's Laces in beautiful colors. I WANT, I WANT!!!

My quickie trip to the lys turned into almost 2 hours as I drooled and fondled and tried to make a wise decision. I ended up choosing a some exquisite fingering wt. cotton yarn from Filatura di Crosa, a fine Italian yarn company. I love their yarns, but they are normally cost prohibitive. This yarn is called Dolce Amore (sweet love) and the color is a variegated baby pastel palette of pink, yellow, blue, green, and white. It is sweet to touch-so smooth! At $3/200yd. ball, I bought all 11 balls (enough for another pi shawl). I want to knit some lace with cotton threads, so this yarn will be a nice transition. I can adjust to the feel of cotton before going down to fine threads. I figure I can pick up the Helen's Lace another time as it isn't as likely to sell out as the closeout yarns.